Monday, November 29, 2010

A Tribute to Leslie Nielsen and a Look at the Box Office

Before we talk about the Box Office, I'd like to take a moment to remember the late-great Leslie Nielsen, who passed away yesterday. There's a lot that you can take away from him... and I'm serious. The guy was in his 50's when "Airplane!" came out and it completely rejuvenated his career... prior to that, he was a serious actor playing serious roles and then came the role of Dr. Rumack in "Airplane!", directly followed by the infamous character, Lt. Frank Drebin. He had always wanted to do comedy, but it wasn't in the cards... until "Airplane!". Goes to show that it's never too late. He was working all the way to the end, too. He was doing some voice work for an upcoming film and had made some guest appearances on various TV shows. Surely, he will be missed... and he will, but don't call him Shirley.

The results at the Box Office got me thinking... Horror, action, sci-fi and like-minded genres are crying out for an alternative market. I mean, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" continued to dominate and "Tangled", the 3D Disney animated take-off on "Rapunzel", tore into the theaters right behind it. A distant third? "Burlesque" Way down at the 7th place? The 70's inspired Dwayne "Don't call me The Rock" Johnson vehicle, "Faster". When I talk about an alternate market, it comes from this question - Is there really room for smaller, original, niche genre films on the big screen?

The answer, really, is no. The studios really just want franchise films and films that cater to as broad an audience as possible. This is bad times for genre fans and, especially bad times for aspiring filmmakers of genre films... or is it? My thought is, the market needs to change. Fans of genre films aren't going anywhere. If anything, that market is growing. However, it's tough to cater to that market with one big film, you know what I mean? All horror fans wouldn't be satisfied by one big studio horror film, but almost all fans of family films would be satisfied by something like "Tangled" or "Harry Potter". So, a new market needs to be made and, obviously, the market has to be in home entertainment.

That home entertainment market is growing and changing, but it hasn't hit a tipping point yet. I've noticed new indie horror films on Netflix's streaming service, there's lots of new web-based horror series' and Amazon is filled with new horror. Having said that, it hasn't hit critical mass. Change is coming, though... it's just not coming fast enough for me.

Speaking of new horror on DVD, check back in tomorrow and we'll see what's coming out this week.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interview with Jason Horton, writer/director of "Monsters in the Woods"

We've now spoken with Jason Horton three times. Once for his awesome horror anthology, "Edges of Darkness", once for "Trap" and, now, for his upcoming film, "Monsters in the Woods". So, what can I say about Horton, aside from the fact that I've been overly impressed with everything of his that I've had the pleasure of watching? The guy knows how to make a little budget look like a lot of budget, he's extremely diverse and he knows how to tell a story. Long and short, he's one talented and dynamic independent filmmaker. Having said that, he's still going through a lot of the trials and tribulations that we all go through. Namely, how do you get paid to do this? All said, I'm very excited to check out his new flick, "Monsters in the Woods", and I hope it brings him piles of success, as it looks to be the best piece of work that he's done... which says a lot. We're very happy to have had the chance to discuss the film with him here and, as usual, he gives a great interview that every indie filmmaker should read.

This is your third film and this is the third time that we’ve talked with you. So, tell us about your latest film, “Monsters in the Woods”. What’s it all about?

Monsters will be my fourth movie, we'll get into that in the next question. It's about a micro-budget movie crew that treks into the wilderness to shoot horror scenes in order to convert their unsellable indie-drama into a horror flick. They soon find themselves besieged by real monsters.

Where did you get the idea for “Monsters in the Woods”?

Monsters in the Woods was born out of much personal and professional turmoil. Personally, I was going through an extremely hard break-up. A lot of that personal strife ended up in the movie in different ways. Then professionally, I had just finished Trap. Which was my best piece of work up to that point. Of course it was also my hardest to sell. Distributor after distributor said "I love it. It's great, but we just can't sell it." It was and indie DRAMA, with no name actors, gratuitous violence or nudity. One distributor talked to me about the project for over an hour. He loved the movie, but of course couldn't sell it. He suggested I cut horror scenes into it and turn it into a creature feature. I was desperate and considered it for a quick second, then came to my senses. However, the idea was so ridiculous, I thought it would make a movie. That was the genesis of Monsters in the Woods.

It looks like you mix “found footage” with live action. Talk a bit about your decision to use “found footage” and how you can effectively mix between that and regular live action footage. It has to be a bit tricky.

That was one of my major reasons for doing the movie. I didn't want to make another stale "found footage" movie and didn't want to make the kind of creature feature I was satirizing. So I decided to use the "found footage" in what I think it a fairly clever way. The movie, like most, is broken up into three acts. I start out in the "movie within a movie" then transition to the "found footage" stuff. It's all from the perspective of the Behind the Scenes camera. It remains found footage throughout the 1st act and then transitions to "real" footage for the 2nd and 3rd acts. The acts also come together in a pretty cool way, structurally speaking. Another main inspiration was the fact that I was shooting a horror movie in complete daylight. There are no night scenes. This is basically due to budget. We couldn't afford the lights to light a night shoot in the woods proper. So I needed a good, creative way to give the movie some visual levels, so that it didn't get stale (a common problem with indies.)

What stage are you at with the project right now and talk a bit about how you got to this stage.

I'm in post production. I've finished a few sales trailers and am starting the actual cut this week.

This has been the hardest production I've ever been a part of. There was On set and behind the scenes drama, money issues, set backs, reshoots, revolving cast, script changes during production. Definitely the roughest time I've had making a movie, but the end result is the best work I've done. I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

What are your goals for “Monsters in the Woods”? What is the new benchmark for success for you?

I need for it to make some real money. I've sold all my other features, except Trap and made some money. However, I'm still scraping by, paycheck to paycheck, with my day job. I'm well over 30 now. The grind of making movies while still working another job is starting to take it's toll. I'm not sure how many more micros I have left in me.

Where can people find out more about “Monsters in the Woods” and is there a trailer that people can check out?

For now, folk can like us on Facebook.

I also update my blog with Monsters stuff and moviemaking antidotes almost daily, you can find that here.

and finally should be up before the end of the following week (Ted's note - it's up now).

Now, let’s go back a bit. Last time we spoke, you were working on “Trap”, your second film. What’s happened since then?

My Executive Producer on Monsters in the Woods asked me to pull Trap from it's languid self-distribution in order to sell it on the coat tails of Monsters in the Woods. It is after all the inspiration for Monsters and is even mentioned as the movie they are converting into a horror flick.

You’ve come a long way since your first film, “Edges of Darkness”. In your opinion, where have you evolved most as a filmmaker since then.

Thanks. I think the cool thing about my work, is that there is growth that you can plainly see between every movie. Like them or not, you can't dispute that the work gets better.

We’ve gotta ask, as it’s been about a year since we last asked… where do you think the indie horror scene is at now and where do you see it going?

I really don't know. I think that there will always be a market for horror and it seems to be thriving now. I just don't know how we're going to make any money doing it.

Are there any other projects in the works?

As always, I have a bunch of scripts. I've gotten a few more pitch meetings lately with big and small companies, but no deal yet. My plan now is to see what happens with Monsters in the Woods and go from there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Weekend at the Box Office AND the new horror DVD's of the week

Sorry folks, there was some work being done at my place and I was cut off my computer. So, no posts over the last two days. I now have access again and I'm going to get caught up in one post... just watch.

Last weekend at the Box Office... no surprise, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" opened huge. $125Million huge, which blew the last one out of the water. This is the seventh film of the franchise and the franchise has now pulled in over $1.8Billion, which means it's closing in on Star Wars. The unprecedented thing that Warner Bros did was they took the last book of the series and split it into two films... this is the last book, remember. Apparently, "Twilight" is taking a page from their playbook with the last book of that franchise, as well. What does all this mean? It means that Warner Bros is going to be scrambling to find another franchise soon... and it also means that the gap between studio films and indies is just continuing to widen. More than ever, they're dependant on bankable franchises that bring in consistent money... not going to be taking chances on first time directors or spec scripts any time soon.

Now, on to the new DVD's this week. Truth of the matter is, cut out the double packs, rereleases and special DVDTee's... there's only three new movies and one of them is a 50 minute porn. I will mention these three film collections that are coming out because there's some good films in there and the prices are right - ranging from $8.99 to $10.99... and that's for multiple films! The first is a Blu-ray two pack of "Angel Heart" and "Johnny Handsome" , the next is a DVD four pack of "Dark Town", "Godsend", "Martin" and "Modern Vampires" and the last, and best, is a DVD four pack of "American Psycho", "Fall Time", "Confidence" and "Rain of Fire". Now, on to the new films. No trailers on our Youtube Page this week, as none of them were available, but you can click on the films titles to be taken to their Amazon Page where you can read more and/or buy the film.

I'm not really sure why they classified "Blues" as a horror, but it does sound like it could get violent. It's from Sundance Film Fest alum, Brandon Sonnier, and it's about two wannabe thugs that duck into a Blues bar and end up on an intense journey of self discovery... and then the situation explodes into violence. Even if you'll only watch horror, this is worth checking out because it's a one-room drama that has only a handful of actors. You want to make a low-budget film look good? Use that formula.

"Diary Of A Sex Offender" comes from director John Niflheim and is distributed by Independent Entertainment. It's a low-budget indie and it's about a sex offender who offends... sexually. The guy who did this whole sub-genre best was Shane Ryan, with the "Amateur Porn Star Killer" series and, quite frankly, I didn't get into that... and Ryan did full-on porn in his version. Anyhow, if you're in to the simulated rape scenes and all that, feel free to check it out.

"Vampire Sisters" costs $29.95, is only 50 minutes long and stars Anastasia Pierce and Arial X. If you're interested, Anastasia Pierce is an international fetish model, specializing in bondage, and Arial X is a porn star. So... I think you can guess what you're getting here. Surprisingly, I couldn't find the trailer online.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Horror Out on DVD this Week

Okay, finally... let's get to the new horror that came out on DVD this week. It may not seem like a good week because there's only 9 releases, but there is some good shit coming out. I'll quickly mention the rereleases, as there's only 3 of them... there's the Criterion edition of the classic "The Night of the Hunter", "The Twilight Zone: Season 2" comes out on Blu-ray, as does "Children of the Corn". All are classics... just not sure I'd pay $70 to see season 2 of "The Twilight Zone" on Blu-ray. Anyhow, let's get to the new releases. As usual, you can click on their titles to be taken to their Amazon page, where you can read more and/or buy them, plus you can go to our Youtube Page and watch all the trailers.

Let's start with "Don't Look Back", which is your typical non-new wave French horror. Meaning, it's overly dramatic and brooding. Don't expect "Martyrs" or "Inside" with this one. It's from Marina de Van and it's about an author that seems to descend into madness, questioning everything. Think Lynch or Cronenberg with more moody music, slow moving scenes and French people.

I couldn't find the trailer for "A Lure: Teen Fight Club", but I really wish I could have. This is the craziest mash-up of pop horror films that I've ever heard of. An undercover female detective enters high school, where she tries to blend in, because she's looking in to why a group of high school co-eds have gone missing. It turns out that they've all be lured and imprisoned in a horrifying hideout... where, obviously, they're being forced to fight each other to the death. There's a bit of "Fight Club" in there, some "21 Jumpstreet", a bit of "Hostel", a touch of "My Sweet Psycho 16"... I love it.

Horror legends Sig Haig and Michael Berryman star, or, should I say, are featured, in "Haunted Casino", which also has something to do with Charles Band. Amazon says it's from Wizard Entertainment, but I think the trailer said it was from Full Moon... which would explain the Charles Band connection. Anyhow, the film has Charles Band all over it, with creepy muppets and goofy, gore-filled characters.

I wish I could find out more about "The Box of the Dead", too... which looks to be good-old micro-cinema at its best. Writer/director William E Cheney is quite bold, as he calls it "the most disturbing film of 2010"... and he may be right, I haven't seen it. I do like the tag line, though - "The story of two losers and their horrific deaths". Alright, I'll bite. I want to know more...

"Texas Frightmare Massacre" is another low-budget film that looks awesome. Writer, director and producer Joe Francis actually shot it live during the Texas Frightmare weekend. It's about Max, who goes to a horror convention with his step sister and her jerk boyfriend, who end up colliding with a couple of security guards... dirty jokes, sex and violence ensue. The trailer has piles of sex, so I can only imagine what the feature is like.

Last up is "Exhibit A", which uses everyones favorite shooting style - first person found footage. The film is out of the UK and it was actually quite successful, from what I understand. It's always good to check these out, as first person shooting is so much easier and cost effective that setting up cameras traditionally. You know what they say, watch how people use the style successfully... and then copy it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"The Frolic" Now Available Via Online Download!

The horror DVD's of the week are going to have to wait until tomorrow, as we wanted to make sure we posted this today - Jacob Cooney's fantastic short film, "The Frolic", is now available via online download. Dead Harvey had the opportunity to interview Cooney about the film and you can access that here. It's an audio interview, so just sit back, relax, and click the links to listen to the soothing sounds of Brad drinking while interviewing Jacob.

If you want to know more about the new release of "The Frolic" and hear what Cooney's been up to, here's the press release...


THE FROLIC, Thomas Ligotti’s iconic horror short story turned short film, is now available via online download at both FILMBABY.COM and AMAZON.COM.

Directed by Jacob Cooney and Produced by Jane Kelly Kosek (Wonder Entertainment), THE FROLIC follows the story of Dr. David Munck, a prison psychologist, who uncovers a deadly supernatural force in one of his inmate patients, which ultimately leads him to his breaking point.

Starring Maury Sterling (John Doe), Michael Reilly Burke (Dr. Munck), Jennifer Aspen (Leslie Munck) and Kailey Swanson (Colleen Munck), this short film has played in numerous film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival, Los Angeles International Short Films Festival, Dead by Dawn Film Festival, Shriekfest and Dances with Films and has frighten audiences across the world.

According to Stephen Jones (World Fantasy Award-winning author), “Jacob Cooney's film version of THE FROLIC, from a script co-written by Ligotti himself, is a masterful slice of psychological horror given a creepy supernatural twist. This is a little gem of twisted terror.”

THE FROLIC is available for download at the following locations. Hope you enjoy.

Cooney's got a lot of other great things going on as well. He describes all the cool projects he's currently juggling below. We can't wait to see them. Keep up the great work Jacob!

JC: "I recently co-wrote, directed and exec produced the television comedy pilot REHAB FOR REJECTS starring Maury Sterling (A-Team, Smokin' Aces, The Frolic), Adam Edgar (Chasing Midnight, Me and Her), April Billingsley (Andre the Butcher, Hellphone), Evan Arnold (Chasing the Clown, West Wing), and Richard Reihle (Office Space). It is about a young man who is court ordered to attend a rehab facility that specializes in odd addictions. You can check out the official pilot on

Cooney's also finished the first draft of a script for State Street Pictures (Faster, Barbershop, Men of Honor) called WANT.

JC: "It is basically the re-envisioning of Indecent Proposal with more of a thriller edge."

He's also attached to direct a film titled GRASS LAKE

JC: "This film is an indie thriller about a group of four friends in their 30’s who go on a fishing trip. But when they find a package of marijuana and one hundred fifty thousand dollars cash, they discover that even lifelong friendships have their limits. We are currently going out to cast and also searching for potential investors for the project."

For more info on the film, here is the link to the film's facebook page

Cooney's also in development on a drama he co-wrote titled FAREWELL TO THE NIGHT, a werewolf horror film titled WOLF'S DEN, a horror comedy titled EXTRA DELIVERY, as well as a newly brainstormed untitled low budget psychological horror film about "a socially awkward shut-in who befriends an odd membrane/organism that's growing out of his bathtub drain. Some fantastic ideas and great things happening here. If anyone would like to invest in "Grass Lake" check out Cooney's short. He can be contacted via facebook. He's most certainly got the filmmaking chops for the job.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Weekend at the Box Office, Genre Films Stink it Up

So, the genre film, "Skyline", didn't exactly light anything on fire. "Megamind", the 3D animated film from Dreamworks stayed in the number one spot and the new Denzel Washington, 'train-out-of-control' film, "Unstoppable", came in second. "Due Date" slipped to third and the afore mentioned sci-fi film, "Skyline", came in fourth... grossing a meagre $11Million. As "Skyline" is really the only thing of interest to me, I'll take a closer look at it.

First, let's look at the positive... which isn't much. The biggest positive is the fact that it only had a budget of $10Million. So, it grossed over its budget on the first weekend. That means that, in the end, it should be a money maker. Between international gross, a few more lingering weeks at the box office, an early DVD release and so on and so on, it'll make some cake. What's remarkable to me is that an effects driven film like this cost only $10Million. That means one of two things... either the cost of doing the effects have come way down or there just isn't a lot of effects in the film. Like, ten years ago, a shot of a spaceship sucking up thousands of people would be enough to bring hoards of people to the theater. Now, not so much...

Okay, so let's look at the negative... why did it do so poorly? Well, there's a lot of things to hang your hat on here. No big stars, a flat and generic plot, it's PG-13, poorly written... I mean, really, how could they have expected it to do anything? When you think about it, why was the film even made? If you're not going to get a big star and if you're not going to push the envelope on at least one front, what do you expect? Really, it sort of annoys me when resources are blown on bad projects. Compare this to "District 9". "District 9" had no big stars, but the film was written brilliantly. Not only that, it pushed the envelope on alien films, turning things on their head. If you're going to get in this arena, you should be ready to play - be daring, push it. It's a shame that "Skyline" didn't. There's plenty of fledgling indie screenwriters and filmmakers that could've tweaked the story enough to make it work. I'm sure of that.

Anyhow, genre films are notably absent from big screens for the next little while. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" comes out on Friday, as well as "The Next Three Days". Both should gobble up plenty of dough. If you can find it, a little sci-fi/horror film from the UK called "Heartless" is getting a very limited release... VERY limited. I think it's out on about 5 theaters. If you're lucking enough to live in a city that's getting it, you should go check it out. Otherwise, this week looks to have a couple of interesting indie's coming out on DVD, so check back in tomorrow!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Interview with Screenwriter Danek S. Kaus

It's been a while since we spoke with Max Perrier, the producer, cinematographer and director of the indie film, "The Ante". We spoke with him in early 2009 and the film actually came out in 2006. It's a great indie film and if you want to read our interview with Perrier, you can click here and if you want to find out more about the film, you can click here to go to its page on IMDB.

Anyhow, not too long ago, I received an email from one of the writers of "The Ante", Danek S. Kaus. Kaus not only wrote that screenplay, but he's a represented writer that's been hired to adapt books into screenplays, he's had scripts optioned and he's been approached by various networks and magazines. Long and short, he's pretty good at this whole screenwriting thing. Now, that's usually enough to warrant us doing an interview, but in this case, there was something else that really piqued our interest. He's currently working on a project called "Swords of the Dead" and, quite frankly, we want to know more. We had the chance to discuss that project and more here... definitely worth the read, folks!

Tell us about the concept behind Swords of the Dead, what’s it all about and where did the idea come from?

I used to do some publicity work for several martial artists. Also studied a little off and on. Learned just enough to be dangerous – to myself.

A couple of years ago, maybe longer, I was brainstorming for screenplay ideas. I wanted something in a genre that already had a good following that was fun to write.

Martial arts and horror usually do well, so I thought about combining them. But then, I had to decide what kind of horror, what kind of monsters would the martial artists have to fight?

Vampires never seem to die and werewolves shed on the carpets, so I decided to use zombies. But zombies are often unarmed, sometimes literally because they tend to lose body parts, so I decided to give them weapons. And so Ninja Zombies were born, uh, un-deaded?

The story is about a guy named Mike Striker who is hired by a beautiful mystery woman to kill Ninja Zombies that have invaded her town. He puts together a crew of misfit martial artists to help him destroy the zombies.

It has good characters and dialogue, humor, romance, lots of marital arts action and, of course, Ninja Zombies. Sorry world, but somebody had to unleash them on you.

What’s your ultimate goal for Swords of the Dead?

My manager in LA, Blair Silver, thinks Swords of the Dead could become a franchise, like Friday the 13th, complete with action figures, graphic novels and trading cards, etc., so that is where I would like to see it go.

What stage are you at with the project now and talk a bit about how you got to this stage.

The script was finished last year. Showed it to an internationally-known martial artist who has done feature films and TV. He loved it. Don't think I should mention his name at this stage.

The graphic novel version of the screenplay is in progress. It's being serialized now on Facebook. People can find it here

I believe that you don't have to belong to Facebook in order to view the page.

Blair and I are shopping the script now.

Readers should know that you’re an accomplished screenwriter. So, tell us, what makes a good horror story?

I think many of the best horror stories touch our primal fears – the dark, things that go bump in the night, the fear of being eaten, childhood fears, creepy-crawly things, Death, with a capital D.

In zombie stories, the Dead are coming after the characters. The fact that the zombies are rotting themselves, reinforces the concept of Death chasing people.

In my own case, I still recall the terror I felt growing up with frequent zombie outbreaks in the neighborhood. Didn't help the property values either.

Psychological terror can be scarier than physical danger. A prime example of that is The Exorcist. In the original version of The Haunting we never see a ghost, but we experience their effects in other, terrifying, ways.

Also, the best horror stories have characters that we care about. We root for them to survive. Too many horror films are just about the body count. The characters are often one-dimensional.

AMC's The Walking Dead has great characters. We really do root for them. It's as much a drama as it is a horror story. Nice job.

The script is being made into a graphic novel. How did that come about and what’s your reasoning behind doing that?

That was Blair's idea. Through the years he had observed the growing trend to make movies from comic books and graphic novels.

Now, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get in to indie horror and film?

I always loved horror films as a kid. I was responsible as a child, so when my parents would go out to dinner or something, they trusted me to be by myself. I would watch the schlocky horror flics on TV and then be too scared to go to sleep until they got home.

Max Perrier, asked me to do the original script for his award-winning indie film The Ante. I was finishing a book and didn't have time, so he hired another writer.

When the script was finished, Max was unhappy with it. By then, I was freed up. He asked me to do a re-write. I changed about 90% of the original script. It's a story about a man falsely accused of murder. For example, in the original, his wife was loving and supportive. I decided to create more conflict by turning her into a greedy harpy. That set the plot off in a new direction. I created a lot more plot twists and punched up the dialogue, also adding some humor from time to time.

"The Ante" got a great review in Variety and so far has shown in nine film festivals in North America and Europe.

I wrote several more of my own scripts, one of which a producer for Lifetime network was very interested in. But it was a period piece, which made it more expensive, and she was unable to get funding.

A couple of my other scripts have been optioned.

A few months ago, a production company hired me to adapt the true story book "Under the Overpass" for the big screen. It's about two college students who wanted to understand how to better help the homeless by becoming homeless themselves in several U.S. cities. For five months they slept on the streets, panhandled and ate from garbage cans. I've been told that Random house bought the original publisher of the book and is releasing a new edition this month.

The film is in development.

Film school: yes or no?

No. Took a couple workshops, read a several screenwriting books, watched a lot of movies.

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

I'm not an expert on the indie horror scene, but I think it is going to continue to get better, especially with production costs coming down because of digital cameras. Shooting with film and the cost of developing it was a big barrier to indies. In addition, the Internet has opened up more avenues for distribution, which has been a problem for indies.

And zombies continue to grow in popularity, which is good for me – and the zombies.

Where can we find out more about you, your projects and, most importantly, "Swords of the Dead"?

One important note about Swords of the Dead fan page. Anyone who becomes a fan has the chance to become a Ninja Zombie in the graphic novel. We're going to pick one person at random for that honor.

My website is called Turn Your Book into a Movie

Facebook fan page

Twitter handle is @swordsofthedead

My email, in case you want to hire me, is

Are there any other projects in the works?

I was recently hired by two authors to adapt their books. One is a true story and the other is a novel.

I'm also working on some of my own scripts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Horror Out on DVD this Week - Nov 9, 2010

I'll warn you, there's lots of rereleases, double packs and special editions this week and only a few of them are notable, but I'm diligent. I'll go through them. First up, there are rereleases of a few so-called classics, including: "Coma", "Haunting" and "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" and, really, let's be honest. None of them are true classics... maybe "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane", 1962's tale of harsh sibling rivalry starring Bette Davis. However, it's dated and it would be tough to sit through. Instead of picking one of those up, you should get the modern classic, "Tremors", now available on Blu-ray. There are a few collections available, including: "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XIX [Limited Edition]" and "Puppet Master Collection", may I recommend the "Puppet Master" collection, the Charles Band classics? Then, there's the double packs: "Gingerdead Man / Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust" and "Evil Bong / Evil Bong 2 King Bong". Spanish films anyone? Check out "Amar a Morir", "Esquizofrenia" or "Miedo Hasta Los Huesos". You can click on any of those titles to read more about them on their Amazon page, but I'm not going to bother getting in to more detail. I'll go in to a bit more depth on the new releases, which include: "Mark of the Damned" - the double disc danger pack, "The Brazen Bull" and "Dead Enders". You can go to our Youtube Page to check out the trailers.

"Mark of the Damned" actually came out in 2006 and was originally shown on Cinema Insomnia's 2009 Halloween special. It's directed by Eric Miller and it looks like it was produced by his friends and family. It looks outstanding and it's shot entirely in black and white as an homage to the classic El Santo films. If you're interested, El Santo was a Mexican wrestler in the '40's and '50's that crossed over in to film and basically played the same part, over and over again... a superhero fighting supernatural creatures, evil scientists, criminals, secret agents, aliens... whatever. I'm very interested in checking this out...

The cover art for "The Brazen Bull" may make it look like it's from the 70's, but it's not... it's from 2010 and it stars Michael Madsen, Jennifer Tisdale and Rachel Hunter and it also looks pretty f'ing good. The trailer is loaded with gore. It's definitely low-budget by Hollywood standards, coming in with a budget of approximately $1Million, but it looks great. The film is set in "the bowels of an iconic derelict LA high-rise" and it's about a madman, played by Madsen, who "brings a heaping helping of sanity and jet-black humor to the crazy table."

Unfortunately, I can't find out too much about "Dead Enders", although it looks like it could be a great micro-budget film. It's written and directed by Paul C. Hemmes and Megadeth's David Ellefson contributed to the soundtrack... the budget's low, probably around $10K, and it's about a disturbed woman that kidnaps and brutalizes those she believes to be the living successor of her long dead "one true love".

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Weekend at the Box Office, Big Weekend - No Horror

What do you say about a weekend that had no genre fare? I guess I could mention that it was the highest grossing holiday season kick-off ever... that's of note. Really, though, the three films that came out were each big, in their own way, and have such distinct, different audiences that it was going to be tough for this not to be a big weekend. "Megamind", "Due Date" and "For Colored Girls" weren't going to have much overlap at all. "Megamind" won the week, pulling in over $47Million, "Due Date" came in 2nd, pulling in over $33Million and "For Colored Girls" came in 3rd, grossing just over $20Million.

"Megamind" is, of course, the big Dreamworks animated feature and what's funny is, they're considering $47Million to be a tad soft. "Despicable Me", "Monsters Vs. Aliens" and "The Incredibles", all similarly themed, kicked the shit out of it.

"Due Date" does interest me a bit, as it's from Todd Phillips, who did "Old School" and, of course, "The Hangover" and the film was almost marketed as a sequel to "The Hangover". Further, guys like Phillips and Judd Apatow are helming this resurgence of R-rated comedies, which were dead for the longest time. "Due Date" had the highest grossing opening for an R-rated comedy in November... ever, beating out "Borat", if you can believe it. Yeah, it's a comedy, but it's rated R. The more R-rated stuff that does well, the better for us.

The last big film was "For Colored Girls" and I'm not sure what to say about it... Tyler Perry has built himself a great little empire and he's now in the position where he could take a giant turd, film it for ninety minutes and his dedicated audience would still show up to watch it... and probably like it. He's coming out with over a film a year now, too. Lionsgate and Perry must just love the position they're in.

That's all I can muster for a weekend that had no genre films in it. Next week, I'm very interested in seeing how "Skyline" does and, the week after that, there's the limited release of "Heartless", which is a UK film about a guy that discovers demons on the streets of East London and if you haven't seen the trailer, go to Youtube and look for it. Should be good, I hope it comes here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Interview with Joops Fragale, director of the short horror film, "Simone"

What can I say? I like sex and violence... Hey, you all know the saying, it's as old as film itself, "sex sells". Well, so does violence. I'm not just saying that, either. It really does. Truth of the matter is, for the better part, dramatic films, comedies, action movies and musicals all need a major star to carry the piece. Either that or a major director or something. Pornos and horrors do not. They never have. People are just in to sex and violence and they don't really care who's committing the acts. That's probably why films mix sex and violence so much, it's a natural fit. That's one level of it. The next level is the fact that because a major star, major director or major piece isn't really needed, budgets for pornos and horrors are minuscule compared to their counterparts. Minuscule budgets means bigger profit margins. Bigger profit margins means more money. More money makes Hollywood happy. So, I like sex and violence... but so does Hollywood and maybe that's why I liked the short film from Joops Fragale, "Simone", so much.

Yeah, the film has a full-on girl-on-girl sex scene and it has some great violence, but, really, that's not what got me. Come on, I have a film degree. It takes more than that. The truth is, the film is extremely well put together and crafted so well... and in a way that would make a lot of other filmmakers stumble. It's one of those films where, when you get to the end, you realize that the story is far richer than you originally anticipated. The film grips you at the beginning, then holds you as the plot and characters are slowly revealed over the course of the film. Really, for a short micro-budget horror, you can't ask for much more. However, you can ask to talk with the filmmaker... and that's what we did.

So, Joops, tell us about “Simone”, what’s it all about?

Simone is really a tragic love story. A girl who just wants to be loved, but with a certain affliction she harbors, finds it hard to make a true connection with people. The story picks up on the rare night she does go out on the town and finds someone she begins a relationship with. It’s very much a normal tale of hiding personal demons from others, whether it is drug addiction, life history or a disease. Life’s little struggles. And through the haze of the next morning she slowly puts the pieces of her horrific night together.

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget and how did you secure financing?

Simone was self-financed by 386 Films, which is, Producer, Michael Long and myself, along with Executive producer Nicole Long. We also had some great people that donated locations and their skills. The budget on whole was $1275 which included renting dollies and jibs from Mike’s other business Glideshot Industries. Most of the funds went to feed a cast and crew of 14. We do most of the pre and post work ourselves, including the FX make up and physical effects. We have a great, dedicated core crew who bleed for us and we make the most of all available resources. In the end we probably spent about $65 on actual production.

I really like how you slowly revealed the storyline through flashbacks and how you open with the main character seemingly being a victim, then things start to turn around. Talk about how you developed the script and the story.

The original script, titled ‘Hair of the Dog’ was penned by Frazer Lee. It was a great story of which most remained through to the screen version. His story dealt more with the fogginess of the hangover until the realization of the night’s events. When developing the idea we read more into the story and began to see it as a tragic love story. We did see Simone as a victim. So we had Jennifer Ward (Simone) play up those emotions that could be interpreted in various ways. On a second viewing you’ll see how Simone portrays being afraid, but it’s not actually from being in danger, she is terrified of what she has done. There is very subtle differences in telltale signs. It was a very fun premise to explore, and I think Jenn and Erin Cline (Eve) did a fantastic job in bringing that out.

Obviously you went for having lots of nudity, as you had a full-on lesbian sex scene. Talk about the decision to show all that, as you easily could’ve just implied most of it. Was it for the audience or was it for the story?

Ahh, the biggest controversy of the film. Naked lesbians! First, having Simone as a lesbian was as written in the original screenplay. It was a natural fit for the character in our back story development. Also, having a horror story with two women is not a very common approach. Of course, we could have implied both the nudity and the sex, but why shy away from it? Gore is accepted but sex is not? It was essential to the story of the character freeing herself from her normal constraints. The scene is the crux to the underlying story of agony and ecstasy. It’s inter-cut between the two. It would have been cheating to not fully convey that. I think we handled it appropriately. I don’t think it’s gratuitous in any way. Again, Jenn and Erin were incredibly brave and we had a great trusting relationship.

As for the gore and the effects, most of that was implied… except for the aftermath. Was this due to budget restraints or was it an artistic choice?

It was mostly an artistic choice given the budget. The violence part was not essential in the way we were telling the story. There is enough information on screen to know what was happening. Screams. Blood splatter. The aftermath is much more disturbing in how something so beautiful was destroyed. Would we have gone further with the visuals with a budget that allowed for it? Probably. We did shoot more revealing footage for the violence, but in the editing process it didn’t feel right. We did not want something cheesy, just to throw in, when you need to compete with million dollar effects. Any investors out there?

Now, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get in to indie horror and film?

Mike is a huge horror fan. From the micro-budget to the main stream. He has a crazy DVD collection. We wanted to make a cool little horror film. Our previous projects have been gritty, dark and grim dramas so it wasn’t a stretch. There is a great market for horror and the fans really accept the work if you are honest about it. I won’t say it’s easier to pull off horror on a micro-budget but the genre lends itself to creativity. Plus it’s fun as hell!

Film school: yes or no?

Mike: Yes Joops: No

Talk about your goals behind making “Simone”. Is it for accolades, for a reel, for festivals?

All three. The reviews, so far, have been awesome. Simone has been well received on the festival circuit. It opened the Horrorfind Weekend Film Festival, was featured at the Dark Mills Festival in London and was a semi-finalist in the Action/Cut Film Competition, among others and more to come. We are using this as just another stepping stone towards bigger projects. Hopefully the right someone sees what we are doing and is inclined to work with us on a great project. We just do what we do, if people respond positively to it, then even better!

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

Technology has made it so that anyone can point a camera, edit on their iPhone and think they made a movie. Most of what is posted is not horror, it’s horrible. On the same front it allows some truly creative people to bypass the normal channels and get some great projects out to an audience. It still takes quality writing and storytelling to make a good film. There is a craft to it. If Hollywood ever pulls their head out of their re-make loving ass, they’ll realize there is a lot of great work being produced. If indie filmmakers can make amazing work using their resources, scraping together miniscule funds and working with quality actors no one has heard of, imagine what they can do with a little support behind a project.

Where can people check the film out?

Simone is available on DVD. The DVD has the original film plus over 85 minutes of bonus features. Simone will be playing to 1.5 Million viewers on KAZV-TV Modesto, CA (Oct 11 & 26) and on Oct 28th we head out to Hollywood for the Carnival of Darkness festival. Check our website ( for updates on other festivals and to get the DVD.

What’s next for you?

We are always developing new projects. A feature script is in the works. We have a few new projects slated this year and into next. It’s all about working with great, talented people and upping our game each time to make the best possible film, no matter the budget. We just love the process. We love making movies.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Horror Out on DVD this Week

It's a slim week, but it's a decent week for horror on DVD this week. Almost everyone should be satisfied... unless you only like big budget flicks. Then, you're just probably on the wrong site. As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page to check out the trailers and you can click on the titles to be taken to the films Amazon Page, where you can read more and/or buy the film.

"My Super Psycho Sweet 16", just came out on DVD a week ago and now they're following it up, immediately, with "My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 2". What's weird is, the original film came out on MTV a year ago... then they released it on DVD a couple weeks ago. "My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 2" just came out on MTV a couple weeks ago and now it's available on DVD. Strange... in any case, it's from MTV, it's sure to become a franchise, and it's not going to be for every horror fan, that's for sure. However, they got great ratings on MTV and they were extremely successful at reaching that much-loved teen demographic, so you may learn something from watching.

"Deadfall Trail" did quite well on the festival circuit and there's some cool stories behind how it got made. Most interestingly, the writer/director Roze and the Executive Producer, Robert Guthrie, had raised around $100K for another project, but needed more... so, they revamped the idea and tailored it to that budget and came up with this film. The film is about a group that goes into the Kaibab National Forest for a 3 week survival trip and peyote vision quest... but end up battling the elements and each other. Check out the trailer, great production value for that budget. Wow.

I'm almost positive that this is the same "The Riverman" film that aired on A&E Network forever ago... Cary Elwes played Ted Bundy in that, right? Either way, I'll mention it because I remember watching it and thinking it was pretty good.

Thankfully, the week concludes with some good, old fashioned low-budget horror from Brain Damage. "Demon Kiss" had a budget of around $30K and it was directed by and stars Sally Mullins, co-directed by Dennis Devine. It also stars Julie Simone and Sebastian Gonzales. I like the plot, too... in an attempt to summon a demon by using the sacrifice of a prostitute, the evil entity possesses the body of the prostitute. I love how low-budget horror manages to always tie sex and violence together, don't you?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Horror Takes the 1 & 2 Spots at the Box Office

I thought, for sure, that "Saw 3D" was going to disappoint. With "Paranormal Activity 2" storming into the theaters last week, I was positive that it would win the week again and the entire "Saw" franchise would go out with a pathetic wimper... well, it didn't. It didn't put up Paranormal 2 numbers, but it did yank in around $22.5Million and win the weekend. "Paranormal Activity 2" dropped almost 60%, to $16.5Million and "Red" was third. "Jackass 3D" held fairly strong at almost $8.5Million and came in 4th. Sure, it's Halloween and everyone's looking to check out scary films, but it's great to see horror take the number one and two spots. Funny that they're both sequels, though. I guess that doesn't bode well for us aspiring screenwriters, huh? Once again, the only successful horror films are sequels, franchises and stories with built in audiences. Sweet. Anyhow, let's take a closer look at "Saw 3D".

There are definitely a few things to note about this release. It is, supposedly, the last installment in the series, it's in 3D and the marketing of the film didn't even mention the story or plot of the rest of the "Saw" franchise. Did you notice that? Basically, it just showed the "Saw" logo, mentioned that it was the "final chapter" and then promoted the crap out of the fact that it's in 3D. Generally speaking, one could assume that that means that they weren't looking to attract a new audience... they just wanted people who've seen the other "Saw" films. Juxtapose that with "Paranormal Activity 2", where they mentioned the previous film and discussed the plot. Truth be told, "Paranormal 2" had the leg up going into this little battle. They were the surprise hit of last year and everyone and their dog knew about the film and, on the other side, "Saw" was on its 6th film last year and that film sucked ass... tough mountain for "Saw" to climb going in to this year, but it did overcome. It won the weekend and did it respectfully. Way to save the franchise, 3D technology.

So, horror's one and two this week. Great. However, we all know that horror's domination won't last for long. There are three films set for wide release on Friday, none of which will interest the horror hounds. You have "Due Date", "For Colored Girls" and "Megamind". Really, the next film that may be of interest comes out on November 12th, which is the alien invasion film, "Skyline". Even though it may be of interest to genre fans, it may get slaughtered at the box office... I don't know, we'll have to wait and see. I hope it doesn't because I've been calling for a resurgence in alien films for a while... and I'm currently starting up on a sci-fi related script. "Skyline" is a huge underdog, but I'll be rooting for it.

So, no surprise, tomorrow brings a thin week for horror on DVD, but there are some good looking indie's coming out. So, stay tuned...