Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Preparation + Opportunity = Luck ...and how it worked out for Jeff Palmer's "The Sleeping Deep"

As we've mentioned before, there's no real magic formula to success in this business. I mean, that's as far as we know... but that's easily said by a couple of hard working idiots who are on the outside, looking in. If there is some secret formula and it's NOT found at the bottom of a chilled can of Budweiser, please shoot us an email: and We'll keep it to ourselves, we swear.

Mystery methods aside, there are definitely things that you can do that will ensure a better chance of getting lucky. But you have to remember that, as they say, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. So, you better be prepared and you better put yourself in a position to find opportunities. How do you do that? Well, read, listen and watch as many blogs, books, podcasts, radio shows, TV shows and films on the industry as you can. Always be learning and always, always, always ask questions when you find yourself in a position to ask questions. That will put you on the path to being prepared, knowledge is everything. Opportunities? They're far and few between, especially for those on the outside of the industry, looking in... which is most of us. Chances are, you're not going to run into too many studio executives, managers or agents in your daily life and if you do, how would you know who they are? Not only that, they don't really want to talk to you, anyhow. So, where are those opportunities? Well, the low hanging fruit is in the festivals and conferences.

I recently received an email about Jeff Palmer's "The Sleeping Deep" and I'd like to share it with you. They say this goes live tomorrow, so I'm not sure if I'm breaking news here or not, but whatever... Do you remember Jeff Palmer? Click here and check out the interview that we did with him almost a year ago. He had just won the top prize at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival for his script, "The Sleeping Deep". It's a great interview on the writing process: how he entered the festival and what happened after the fact. Since we interviewed him, it looks like the script went on to get produced. I'm not exactly sure how or who the players are and I may reach out and try to do a follow up interview, but the point is - he put himself in a position to get an opportunity. He entered, attended and won the festival. Then, that presented him with more opportunities and that's how this all works. Keep putting yourself in those kinds of positions and build and leverage each one to find more and more opportunities and make sure you're prepared to jump on them when they come your way.

So, what are you doing to put yourself in a position to get new opportunities? Are you doing all you can? Check out the trailer for the film and remember that this was just an idea in a fledgling screenwriters head not too long ago...

The Sleeping Deep - Official Promotional Teaser from FlickerPictures on Vimeo.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Hills Run Red with the blood from upcoming horror DVD releases.

We're not making a good case for our genre out there, as horror and sci-fi got knocked around AGAIN at the box office this last weekend. There were two major films out, "Surrogates" and "Pandorum", and both were relative disappointments. However, I loosely refer to them as 'major' films. "Surrogates" was more sci-fi and looked somewhat reminiscent of the Michael Bay stinker, "The Island". "Pandorum", on the other hand, looked more like something that should go straight to DVD. "Surrogates" had a decent marketing push behind it, but I didn't see much for "Pandorum", which usually means the studio didn't have much faith in it, anyhow. I expect to be reviewing them for their DVD releases soon enough...

Regardless, it's a monster week in DVD releases and I'll only go in to detail on a few of them. You can check out all the horror that's out by clicking
here and thumbing through the entire list on Amazon, but really... I cover off the good stuff and that's all you need to know. You don't need to flip through rereleases and double packs, do you? I'll discuss anything of note and, of course, you can click on the titles to go to their page on Amazon, where you can buy it and/or read more about it. We'll also post most of the trailers over on our Youtube page, which can be found here.

"The Hills Run Red" is not a remake of the 1967 film that's considered to be one of the earliest spaghetti westerns. It's actually a fairly decent looking horror film from Warner Home Video that stars William Sadler. It's definitely theatrical quality and it looks quite gory, although the 'searching for lost footage of an old horror film' storyline seems a bit tired. If slick looking films are your thing, this is going to be your pick of the week. Let's just hope it's not in the theaters because it's too gory.

I had no idea that Adam Sandler was in to horror. You've probably heard of his label Happy Madison (mix of Happy Gilmour and Billy Madison, obviously), which has produced numerous films, including: "You Don't Mess With The Zohan", "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" and anything else he's involved in... However, it looks like he just set up a sub-label called Scary Madison and their first horror film is "Shortcut", which is about a creepy old guy who lives at the end of a shortcut that no one's supposed to ever take...

"Bloodwine" is a low-budget indie from writer/director Patrick Keith and the trailer's intriguing, but doesn't reveal much. It's released from R Squared and, after reading about it, is apparently a vampire flick. Trailer doesn't really mention that, though. Although, now, in hindsight... I can see that. Okay, okay, I get it now.

"Flesh, TX" is another low-budget indie, this one from Guy Crawford. It stars the legendary Joe Estevez, which pretty much makes it a must see for indie horror fans or Dead Harvey readers. It looks to be taking a page from the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" playbook, but let's hope they take it to a new level.

"Farmhouse" is written by Daniel P. Coughlin, directed by George Bessudo and stars "Wings" veteran Steven Weber, who's really turned into somewhat of a psychopath, as far as the roles he's been playing lately. The film's got some budget behind it and it looks pretty, pretty good... I checked out the trailer and, at first, it looked like this was going to be your classic 'oops, my car broke down right in front of a psycho's farm house', but... as the trailer progressed, it looked like there may be something more to this. My interest is definitely piqued.

"Fermat's Room" is a Spanish thriller from Luis Piedrahita and Rodrigo Sopena and it has a really interesting angle. It looks kinda like "Pi" meets "Saw" or something... there's four mathematicians locked in a room and they must solve puzzles in order to escape the slowly closing walls of the room. I'm not sure how much can be done with that plot, but I'm interested to see. Trailer's good, anyhow.

"The Horror Vault, Vols. 1 & 2" are two anthologies of short horror stories and they're quite well received. We've talked with one of the guys behind them, Kim Sonderholm, and we know that they're as indie as it gets. Definitely one for the Dead Harvey crowd.

I do love my gore, but I'm also a fan of fucked up psychological thrillers. You know, stuff like the afore mentioned "Pi", "Eden's Log", "Momento", things like that... That's why the indie, "In a Spiral State", looks particularly interesting to me. I have no idea of what it's about, really, but go check out the trailer and you'll see what I mean. A different consciousness? Hmmm...

At first, the decently budgeted "Haunting of Winchester House" looked shockingly tame and overdone. The title is even more overdone. Let me just go to the horror section and look under 'H', now... which "Haunting of..." film will I be checking out? However, watch the trailer, it picks up at the end with a few cool looking demons and ghosts.

I love my Asian horror, gore films. I really do. Every once in a while, I stock up on them and some booze, then go through them on a drunken mission. Well, they come fast and furious this week. First up, if you want to see Korea's hottest young stars, then "Nightmare" is for you! "Fallen Angels" doesn't really say shit in the trailers, but it looks like a bloody, violent John Woo-esque gangster flick. Then, there's "Screwed", "Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf" and "Tokyo Psycho" and I can't differentiate them because I found a trailer that just shows fucked up clips from all of them, mashes them together, then mentions all the titles. Either way, read up on their Amazon pages for something more detailed. Otherwise, just get all of them, a case of beer and call it a night.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Interview With Kevin Jamison, writer/director of "Serial: Amoral Uprising"

Brad and I used to joke that the only way we were going to break into Hollywood is by going up the ass end. At the time of this writing, between the two of us, we've talked with various agents, managers, had projects and material in front of executives at a few different places and have written, produced and directed numerous indie projects, but the truth of the matter is... we're nowhere near the rectum yet, we're barely tickling the rim.

When it comes to getting a project off the ground and getting established, what's the best route to take? Do you write it out and THEN shop it around? Or do you write it out, shoot something based on it and then shop THAT around? Or is there something we're missing? (Please fill us in, if there is) It's kind of an age old question and there's success stories on both sides. For the sake of saving money, simply writing something and trying to sell your project based on that makes a lot of sense... really, all you've put in is sweat equity. However, maybe it's your vision and filmmaking skills that you're trying to sell? I guess it really depends on what your individual goal is. If you want to be a writer or producer, you can just write something. If you're looking to be a filmMAKER, you should probably shoot something.

These were all questions that came to my mind as I was reading through this interview we did with Kevin Jamison, the writer/director of the upcoming "Serial: Amoral Uprising". All those questions came up because this project isn't finished. They've shot a prologue in hopes of attracting financing and distribution. From what I've seen, it looks good and I really hope the film becomes a reality. Only time will tell...

If you're in the pre-pre-production stages or are considering how to get a project up and off the ground, this is something you'll want to read.

First off, tell us a bit about yourself. What got you into indie film and what are your influences?

I always had a love for filmmaking. Its kind of sad but I still have a large number of home made vhs tapes from when I was about 9 or 10. Mainly a lot of fan based shorts with no budget, no script and just a whole bunch of action figures and condiment based special effects. I always had a love for writing and the idea behind being able to make something unique out of nothing and that's exactly what I saw with independent film. Writing a book would probably have been easier but it also wouldn't have been as fun or rewarding as making a film would either. As one sided as it sounds I always did lean more towards the horror genre and that's what ultimately inspired me to want to be a writer/director. Growing up as a child of the 80s horror movies had this edge at the time that just made me want to see them even more. Disney was boring as hell, He-Man always creeped me out a little too much where the Tall Man from Phantasm scared the living crap out of me. So, after digging a little deeper into the genre I quickly became an addict for movies like Friday the 13th, Halloween, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Black Christmas and so on and so forth. Influences? John McNaughton for one. His commentary on Henry was basically the push that gave me inspiration to go ahead and write my script despite the fact that I was broke. Granted, my story isn't based on a real person like Henry was, although the two characters do have a large number of similarities. William Lustig. The story he created with Maniac is probably another one of the signals that made me keep writing. Peter Jackson when he made Dead Alive, Sam Raimi, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, David Fincher. Another one that comes to mind is Adam Green. Like myself, Adam is very ambitious about what he wants to see and has broken his back in order to get it done despite the many, many problems that go along with making a film.

Film school: yes or no?

I took a course at a community college for film and television production in 2006, which did serve as a very valuable tool when it comes to the process of planning, acting, producing and marketing. It did teach me the basics of what I needed to know in order to make a film project follow through, but the one bad side to that was the main lesson I learned throughout the entire experience. When it comes to producing a film a large majority of things come down to money and the minds behind the production of the film. It kind of sucked having the knowledge without having the tools to move ahead. Sure, I could make a movie with what I knew but without having the money or backing sources to do anything it was kind of like a lost cause. From my experience, I've found that the best way to get into filmmaking on a physical level is to actually shoot a film. Write a short script, get a group of people together over the weekend (or a few weekends depending on the script) and put them to work on the movie. Another thing I would do is sign up for local projects in the area and go work as a production assistant to see how other shoots went just to see how it was done by other directors. The one thing I really love about film is how excited people get about shooting a movie, so its not like finding help is hard. Positive energy, scheduling and FOOD. Keep your people happy and they'll keep you happy. I do think that film school does teach a lot of things that are necessary lessons when it comes to producing a film. If you have an idea of what you're walking into a lot of things can run a whole lot smoother and help you in the long run.

Tell us a bit about the idea behind Serial: Amoral Uprising

SERIAL: Amoral Uprising is a prologue that we filmed, funded and produced ourselves in effort to get the promotional ball rolling on a much bigger script that we plan to shoot in the summer of 2010. Amoral Uprising is just the beginning of a much larger story that profiles the life and crimes of a manipulative sociopath and serial killer Trenton Wade Bracks. Although the character and story of Trenton Bracks may be fiction the actions and events that transpire throughout his life are in fact inspired by a large number of true life cases such as Ted Bundy, Henry Lee Lucas and Tommy Lynn Sells just to name a few. He's someone you could see as your drinking buddy, your co worker or the guy hired to fix the roof on your house. For women, he would be somewhat of a mysterious stranger type with a southern gentleman aspect about him which of course is usually just another side of his manipulative personality. With Amoral Uprising we wanted to create something we could both use as a fundraising/distribution tool, a companion piece for the full feature and something we can give the fans to dissect while they wait for us to put together funding for the full feature. So people who are interested now can watch Amoral Uprising and then check out the full feature which is based 10 years after the events in the prologue once its done and for other people who are not able to get into the movie until the feature is released, they'll have Amoral Uprising to serve as a second film that will be a part of the dvd package.

Talk a bit about how the project came about.

I started writing the story shortly after getting out of school and since I was basically broke the entire time I had a while to work on the script. I took about a year and a half to create the story and write the script and after I was happy with it I started shopping it around to different companies but none of them were interested in me directing the project. Just buying the story and taking their spin on it which is not what I wanted. So one day when I was on some horror forums I ran into a user named Mike Scola who said he had his own production company in Chicago and wanted to take on my script and let me direct as long as he could be the director of photography. We decided to shoot an experimental trailer with two of his friends which he paid for out of his own pocket. He edited the film and gave us something to use and even if it wasn't something that got us put on the map it was something we used to get established as an indie film project. A few months later we held an audition out of his garage and found a handful of actors and actresses who wanted to get involved which lead to us shooting the SERIAL promo video with now lead actor Christopher Howell as Trenton Bracks. A few months later we were still not satisfied and that's when I told Mike I wanted to shoot a prologue to attach to the feature and that resulted with what we have now in SERIAL: Amoral Uprising.

Whats your budget for the film and how are you going about financing it?

For Amoral Uprising, we worked on a budget around $4,000 to get everything done and like most low budget/big vision projects it wasn't half of what we needed in order to do everything like we had originally planned. But we wanted to get the prologue filmed, some serious experience when it came to the future of the project while creating something we can use as a serious product so we worked with what we had. For the full feature we are currently in talks with a few different companies who have shown interest towards the feature but nothing has been set in stone as of yet. Obviously were going to need a WHOLE lot more than what we used for the prologue, but that's the advantage of having a physical insight into the story with Amoral Uprising. Investors and future distributors can see exactly how badly we want to make this movie a success and something that's going to be enjoyed by a large variety of people for years to come. With the prologue we didn't have the biggest budget or half the production crew that was required because of time and money and that alone was the only thing that stopped us from doing everything we could have possibly done. With a serious budget there is no limit to how great the feature could come out. Since this is a crime/horror movie anything is possible with a decent sized budget. We have the talent, the drive, the experience and the ability. Now we just need the financing to get it done.

What stage are you at right now and what hurdles are you facing right now?

With Amoral Uprising we are currently in the process of putting the movie into product replication. I am talking with artist Ken Carrano about designing the cover art which I am more than positive is going to come out amazing. Once we have that completed it will begin the hunt for possible distribution depending what happens with the full feature between now and then. As planned, we are going to create the Amoral Uprising dvd product and begin distributing it ourselves on an independent level on the website and around horror conventions and film festivals.

Speaking of hurdles, talk about some of the hurdles that you've faced getting to the point you're at now. What kinds of unexpected things have you faced that other indie filmmakers may be interested to learn about?

On a film set murphys law loves to make itself known. If you plan something chances are it isn't going to go as originally planned, no matter how set it may seem inside your head or written on paper. Since we filmed around winter of last year on a friends property inside of a farm house with no working water, there was no end to the problems that we came across throughout the shooting of Amoral Uprising. The day before shooting my director of photography Mike Scola and special effects artist Don Ehrenhaft were setting things up in the house and the ceiling began to leak water from the attic. The entire ceiling had a huge ring left from the water damage soaking the downstairs floor so in spite of that we had no working water. We did have well water, though. Nice and disgusting. The snow caused people to run late the first day of shooting so one thing all film makers need to account for is to stay on track with scheduling. If you get started two hours late that could be two scenes you have to cut from the days shoot all on account of one person being 30 minutes late. Almost every person on my set had their car stuck in the snow at some point so each time a group of us would have to make a team effort to get them out of it which caused more time delays. So before you shoot take a few weeks beforehand to consider the weather, the condition of locations and what it will be like come shoot time. Since our shoot was planned in October and was shot in November, weather and time were our two biggest enemies.

Whats the goal for the project and when do you think it'll be completed?

Right now our goal is to become established. We have been working for close to two years and now that we have something that we can show people I feel that its time we introduced the story on a mass level as much as we possibly can. In order to get people interested in Trentons story they need to know who he is and that's what Amoral Uprising is going to do. We have promotional t shirts with a design that reads Meet Trenton Bracks and that is exactly what Amoral Uprising will serve as. Once people see the beginning of the story they'll want to know what happens next and the only way we can do that is to make the full feature. Its like at the end of the original SAW. James Wan set that up so perfectly that he knew we would be clinging on to the story and now they have how many SAW movies? 6? Personally, I don't plan on making six SERIAL films in the time they have made those movies but the potential is very similar. Thanks to Christopher Howell, Trenton is a huge character a part of a huge story that is not only realistic and inspired by a number of true cases but also a truly entertaining story capable of gaining attention from a multitude of fans and investors. Much like Tobin Bell brings to Jigsaw, Christopher Howell loves playing Trenton Bracks and is more than a little hungry to get back into character as dark and diverse as Trenton may be. Our goal right now for the feature would be to shoot in the summer of 2010 so that way we can present the dvd in early 2011 possibly around January.

Are you thinking about the festival scene or distribution at this point? If so, what kinds of things are you doing to prepare for it?

Of course. Ive been talking with a variety of distributors since we finished Amoral Uprising and the only obstacle that is standing in the way is not having the replicated product so its nothing that we cant handle with a little bit of responsible financial planning. I've always been a huge fan of the convention and festival scene and seriously cannot wait to start doing shows. I love talking to fans and hearing their take on the film or just on different horror and crime films in general. As far as distribution goes nothing has been set in stone as of yet so anything is possible. It all depends who takes notice of the film and I'm willing to break my back as many times as I have to in order to get as much exposure on Amoral Uprising as I possibly can.

Talk about the indie horror scene. Where do you think it is now and where do you think its going?

I think the indie horror scene is looking up as of late. Films like 100 Tears, iMurders, Hatchet, Five Across The Eyes, Chainsaw Sally and a few others have really upped not only the production value but also the material value of how most independent films are made. Much like me there are a lot of young and hungry directors out there who don't have a graduate certificate from Columbia or any other big name film school who want to make movies more than anything in their lives but they just lack the tools to put it all together. Those are the type of people we need working in independent film. Any goon can watch a movie that was made 20 years ago, sell the story as a remake to a studio with the funding and rip it to shreds for a good profit on the first weekend of the release but these aren't going to be films that people keep inside of their heads or share with their friends. Creating original ideas is what I love about independent film. I love working with people and being on set because there is no rush like it in the world. We need people like Adam Green and Greg Swinson and Scott Glosserman who are sick of seeing classics badly redone and are willing to put it all on the line to produce a quality story and film. That's exactly what I plan to do with SERIAL.

Where can people find out more about Serial: Amoral Uprising?

We have a website that you can find at or you can reach me directly on my facebook page that I update regularly. Just look up K.M. Jamison.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dead Harvey Settles an Argument About The Long Tail

It's been a while since I wrote an opinion piece, so it felt good to get this one out. I hope you take the time to read it, too.

So, really regular readers of the site will know that I'm a fan of Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory and what it means to the world of indie horror. If you're interested, Anderson is editor-in-chief over at Wired magazine and his book, "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More", suggests that an entertainment market, with a high freedom of choice, will create an inequality in how films are distributed by favoring the upper 20% of the items against the other 80% of the films. Some call it the 80/20 rule. 80% of the audience concentrates on 20% of the market.

So, in graph form, it looks like this. The head is on the left there, that's the blockbuster films and the studio films. The vertical axis (for those far removed from high school math, that's up & down) represents the audience and the horizontal axis (left & right) represents the amount of films. So, you've got the "head" on the left and, then, stretching away from it, is "the tail".

With online access, a reduction in search costs and new distribution formats like Amazon and Netflix, that tail would, in effect, get longer and longer and longer. So, one of theories in The Long Tail is to consider this - Instead of selling 10,000 copies of one movie, you could sell 100 copies of 100 movies... or 10 copies of 1,000 movies and your profit would be the same. The longer the tail gets, the more choice. The more choice, the more you cater to those niches and sub-genres and Anderson believes that the future will be in those choices and sub-genres. Conclusion: for years, business has always concentrated on just that top 20%. Now, however, we should be concentrating on the tail, as the future will be in selling less of more. Get it?

Obviously, this theory works well for indie horror. First off, and most importantly, it means there's a market for it. Let's face facts, indie horror is planted firmly in the long tail. You're not sitting side-by-side with "Iron Man". Secondly, it means that it can sell. The idea that Amazon and Netflix has search capabilities that not only allows people to find niche, obscure horror, but can highlight it, means that you can actually make money selling this stuff...

Now, any time that someone comes up with a radical idea like this, someone else is going to try to shoot it down. I just read an article called "Research conflicts with 'Long Tail'" on and a couple of nerds from Wharton analyzed data from Netflix and are trying to debunk Anderson's theory. Sergui Netessine, associate professor of operations and information management, and Tom F. Tan wrote the 36 page paper called "Is Tom Cruise Threatened: Using Netflix Prize Data to Examine the Long Tail of Electronic Commerce". You can actually download a copy of it here. They say that the data shows that even though people have more choice than before, they're actually concentrating on the top 1% of films more than ever. Long and short, they're saying that the blockbuster is more prevalent than in the past. Anderson, of course, retorted and things started getting real nerdy and I don't want to get into it, but there's lots of data supporting both sides...

A couple things before I say MY theories on the subject and settle the whole matter from our perspective... One, get the book "The Long Tail" or, at least, read the manifesto, which can be found here. Next, read that article on, I linked to it up there. Also, read the article from the Wharton guys, which I also linked to up there. You have to know the business you're in and indie horror IS The Long Tail and this is some great, great reading.

So, what do I think? I do think the Wharton nerds have a point and I would venture to believe that people do concentrate on the blockbusters and big studio flicks. We are all sheep, after all. That goes for me, too. I watch a lot of indie horror, but I also watch whatever big movie comes out. I won't argue their data, even though it is subjective and relative. What they're ALL forgetting, both Anderson and the nerds, is that they're comparing apples to toaster ovens. They're considering that all films are created equal and that the definition of success is relative across the board. That's just not true. If your indie film sold 1,000 copies on Amazon, you might be excited about it. If even the lowest budgeted studio film sold 1,000 copies on Amazon, it would be an unmitigated disaster. What I love about The Long Tail and what YOU should love about The Long Tail is that it EXISTS. The low cost of search, the lack of shelf space required and the ease of distribution has stretched the tail out and made a market for indie film where there wasn't a market before. Almost all of the indie films that I watch wouldn't have seen the light of day 20 years ago. The other factor that they're NOT putting in their data is profitability. If a film costs $10,000 to make and it makes $20,000 - it's 100% profitable. A $100Million film needs to make ten THOUSAND times that to be considered equally profitable. So, if only 20% of the people are checking out The Long Tail, that's all you need. Hell, you don't even need 1%. The fact is, as long as The Long Tail EXISTS and creates a market for your film, you should be happy.

Those conditions that stretch The Long Tail, such as the low cost of search, lack of required shelf space at retailers and the relative low barriers of getting distributed are getting better and better every day. So, who cares that audiences still concentrate the bulk of their time on the head of the tail? Just be happy that the tail is there... and that it is long... and getting longer.

Monday, September 21, 2009

All The New Horror Out On DVD This Week and a look at "Jennifer's Body"

I guess I should lead off by mentioning the debacle that was "Jennifer's Body". If you didn't know, it's Diablo Cody's teen horror follow up to "Juno". It pulled in a meagre $6.8Million and the finger pointing is already rampant. Some blame the advertising, which pinned all its hopes on the lead, Megan Fox, and others blame the sub-genre itself, teen horror-comedy. Funny that no one's saying that it just, plain sucks ass and they're just saying where they went wrong in dealing with the film. I haven't see it... so, I can't judge, but I'm betting it sucks. If you did see it, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear some opinions on it.

There's a ton of horror coming out on DVD this week and I'm only going to go into detail on a few of them, as it's just too much and we don't need to bore everyone involved. You can always click on the title and go to the films Amazon page, where you can read more about it. Of course, you can also buy the films through there. As well, you can go to our
Youtube page and check out some of the trailers.

Full disclosure... I'm a Rob Zombie fan. If you actually followed him back when he was just the frontman for White Zombie, you'd remember that he directed all the bands videos, he did all the artwork for the albums and even did a reoccurring spot on "Headbangers Ball", where he painted the set. In any case, you knew that he was into film, art and animation. So, it wasn't a huge stretch of the imagination to see him get into feature filmmaking when "House of 1,000 Corpses" was announced. It was also no surprise to hear about "The Haunted World of El Superbeasto", an animated film that's based on a comic book series that he created. It's about a washed-up Mexican wrestler and his sultry sidekick and sister, Suzi-X as they confront the evil Dr. Satan.

Well, we finally get the follow up to "Midnight Meat Train", which is "Clive Barker's Book of Blood" and, surprise, surprise, it ain't getting no theatrical release. (double negative aside, it's not hitting theaters) It's actually the seventh story to be adapted from Barker's collection, but, really, the second since he decided to go through all his works himself. It was adapted and directed by John Harrison and it was shot in Scotland. It premiered at Montreal's Fantasia Film Fest in July and I think it screened at a few other festivals, as well. But... alas, no theatrical release. Just DVD.

Jason Horton's "Edges of Darkness" is finally getting released on DVD and this is one for the Dead Harvey crowd. We saw it a while ago, way back in April, and we discussed the film with him. You can read our interview with Horton here. It looks like they've updated the cover art and it looks great. If you're going to check anything out this week, check this out. It's top-notch, well done indie horror.

So, also out are "Albino Farm", from Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen and starring Chris Jericho, the wrestler; "The Chosen One", a twisted fairytale from Theodore Collatos that's shot all in black and white; "Autopsy of the Dead", which looks to be some sort of unauthorized documentary on "Night of the Living Dead" (can't help but notice that Romero's not in it); and "Witchmaster General" from Jim Haggerty, starring Phil Lewis of LA Guns.

Also, it looks like there's a couple of new distributors that are dumping some titles into the mix.

First up, Psycho Junkie, and I can't find anything on them, but I'll look harder and report back. They're releasing a bunch of films this week, including: "Hillbilly Cannibal Bloodline", "Bedtime Ghost Tales", "Beware the Children", "Manson Kilmore: The Night Caller of Coal Miners Holler - Part 1 Deadly Secrets", "Mondo Psycho", "Run Run Bunny!" and "Ultra-Toxic"

The other new distributor is Screen Media / Gaiam, which is a little odd because all Gaiam distributes currently is Yoga videos and 'lifestyle' DVD's. Well, now they're adding a few horror films, including: "Vampires: Out For Blood" (with Johnny Drama himself, Kevin Dillon and Lance Henrikson) "Blood Gnome", "Demon Within", "Fear Of The Dark", "Spliced", "Satan's Little Helper", "Shallow Ground", "Gangs Of The Dead", "Severed: Forest of The Dead".

Friday, September 18, 2009

Interview with Emil Hyde, writer/director of "The Landlord"

How many untold stories are out there? It's an interesting question, if you think about it. How many people have an idea rolling around in their head? A story that they want to write, make or just get out there, but they never do... Worse yet, how many writers, filmmakers, artists and storytellers are out there that aren't even doing anything related to writing, film or art? I can't remember the direct quote, but someone, somewhere said something to the effect of, "when you're a kid you learn about your dreams and aspirations... and the trick is, as you get older, to always remember them and aspire to them." So, how many filmmakers, writers and artists never became filmmakers, writers or artists? How many stories are stuck in peoples heads and never been seen, read or heard? Who knows? I do know it's a lot.

For some reason, watching Emil Hyde's "The Landlord" made me think of all that. Why? Well... because it's an idea that no Hollywood studio would ever touch or that any sane executive would commit a budget to, but it got made. It's out there. Not only that, it's f'ing awesome. For me, it's like a horror fan had a bad acid trip, wrote everything down that happened, then turned it into a film. There's demon roommates, crazy effects, vampire gangs and f'ed up costumes and it's all wrapped up in a crazy, well crafted story that entertains from beginning to end. An idea like this could get trapped in someones head... forever. For no one to ever see. However, it did get made, and I, for one, am really glad that it did... 'cause it ruled. Now, we have the chance to discuss the project with Emil Hyde.

Tell us a bit about “The Landlord”

THE LANDLORD is a feature-length horror comedy about a young slacker who owns demon-infested apartment building, and must continually find new tenants to replace the those the demons devour. Hijinks ensue when an attractive young woman moves in, and our hero has to decide whether it's worth defying the demons for a shot at getting laid. While the emphasis is definitely on humor, it's got a respectable amount of blood and guts: on the gore-to-laughs scale, I'd say it falls somewhere between GHOSTBUSTERS and THE EVIL DEAD.

The idea was very unique and a great mix of comedy and horror. In fact, you intertwined a great story around a lot of different horror elements (demons, vampires, haunted house, etc) Talk about the writing process and how you flushed this idea out.

The original idea was for a Web series about a stoner with a wacky demon roommate and how, every time the stoner finds a third roommate to help pay rent, the demon winds up eating them - sort of a horror-ified SEINFELD or THE ODD COUPLE. However, I find it funniest when you take an absurd premise like that and try to reconcile it with reality. Wouldn't the cops get suspicious? How would they hide the corpses? And what the Hell is a demon doing living in an apartment building? In answering those questions, the story grew darker and weirder and funnier, until it became THE LANDLORD.

Regarding the other horror elements - particularly the vampire street gang that lives in the neighborhood - the thought there was that the characters of THE LANDLORD live in the universe where all horror movies happen (if you pay attention, you'll notice that the apartment building is on the same street as another famous horror-movie house). Hence, the hero's demon problem is not the only thing going on in this world, which for me is more true to life. Other people have their own problems, and they're not necessarily going to drop everything and help you out just because there's some 5,000-year-old Babylonian demon gods eating your tenants.

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

We ended up spending $22,000 - roughly the price of a compact car - paid for with credit cards. While it's very much a no-budget production, I think - and most of the advance reviews agree - that if you can forgive a few cheesy-looking severed limbs and occasionally murky sound and video quality, THE LANDLORD has a really unique story, memorable characters, and a few absolutely hilarious scenes. If you've ever enjoyed watching a Troma movie or something like BAD TASTE, then you should check this out.

You got some great performances from your actors, talk about casting the film, as well as directing a relatively amateur cast.

Fortunately for us, Chicago has a huge theater community and a big improv comedy scene, so we were able to cast most of the leads for THE LANDLORD just by asking our actor and comedian friends if they knew someone who fit the part. Rabisu, the main demon, is played by my good friend Rom Barkhordar, who among other things voiced Subzero in the MORTAL KOMBAT games and recently appeared on the TV show THE BEAST with the late, great Patrick Swayze. Meanwhile Kurt Erhmann, who plays one of the homicide detectives trying to bust the main character, is a well-known stage actor here in Chicago and has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in the opening credits of TRUE BLOOD as a faith healer. And a bunch of the bit parts were played by people from the Second City improv company, which is basically the farm team for shows like MAD TV and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

That said, roughly half the cast of THE LANDLORD had never acted before, and none of the cast had done complex action scenes with guns and stunts. And even the more experienced actors were busy doing plays, shooting commercials, and working their day jobs, which meant we had to cram all their scenes into a few short hours in the morning or very late at night, which in turn meant less time to rehearse, fewer takes, and more stress overall. I'm just amazed at what the cast accomplished under those conditions, and that they did it all for no pay.

As for my role as director... well, I just spent a lot of time talking to the actors beforehand, fleshing out the details and back stories for their characters, even the minor ones, and giving the actors as much input as possible so they had a sense of ownership. Ideally, what you see of a character in a movie should just be the tip of the iceberg, and you and the actor should have a pretty good idea of where that character's coming from and why they behave the way they do. The problem with most horror movies is that they don't bother answering those questions - the characters exist merely to spout a few wisecracks (if they're male), get naked (if they're female), then die... which I guess works for some people, but for me killing off characters with no real personality is like playing poker for no money.

You did a great job on the CG effects. I thought they fit in seamlessly. Talk about some of your favorite effects and how they were accomplished.

For the visual (CG) effects, we knew we couldn't compete with current Hollywood movies in terms of realism. So instead we decided to go for a slightly retro, flamingly unrealistic, 80s-style visual effects style, partly because we knew we could pull it off with the software we had, partly because it suited the mood and theme of THE LANDLORD, and partly because we genuinely love the cheesy FX in old movies like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

However, I still wanted to have some pseudo-realistic logic behind the crazy visuals. For each effect, we'd ask "What, exactly, is happening here?" and let the answer guide our design. For instance, when the demons in THE LANDLORD teleport, we wanted it to seem like they were "burning" into the virtual celluloid that the movie was shot on. So, after filming the same shot twice - once with the actor and once without - I applied a reverse "film burn" effect to the layer with the actor on it. Next, I applied a kaleidoscope effect, to create hundreds of tiny images of the demon, then backed off of it so that the smaller images melt together into one main image (you can see this much more clearly on the Blu-Ray version). Once that was done, we added "glow" and "light rays" effects just to add some razzle-dazzle factor, et voila. Flashing-burning-kaleidoscoping-demon-teleporting madness!

Tell us a bit about yourself. What are your influences and what got you into indie film?

Prior to making movies, I toured in a band with Derek Dziak, the husky John Belushi/Jack Black/Seth Rogen-type dude who plays Tyler, the hero of THE LANDLORD. Surviving as a DIY band is all about selling enough merchandise at shows to cover gas and food for the next day, so we decided to shoot a concert DVD just to give fans something more to buy. However, the footage from the show we recorded didn't turn out so great, so we decided to head out to the forest preserve with a handicam and some cheesy costumes and do some ridiculous skits about our band getting sucked into a second-rate Middle Earth / Dungeons & Dragons universe and battling some evil barbarians and zombies that look suspiciously like us in bad wigs. Turns out, people liked the DVD better than our albums, so we made another one to go with our next album, then eventually decided to forget the band thing and just make a damn movie, which turned out to be THE LANDLORD.

Film school: Yes or No?

Nope. But I did depend on the skills and knowledge of many film school students and graduates to get THE LANDLORD made. There's so much that goes into a movie, even a cheesy no-budget flick like THE LANDLORD, that no one person can possess all the necessary expertise.

Did you screen at any festivals? If so, how did it do? What are your thoughts on the indie horror festival circuit?

So far, THE LANDLORD has been accepted into 7 horror film festivals in the U.S. and U.K., and we're just beginning to make our rounds on the festival and convention circuit. The funny thing about these "film festivals" is that hardly anyone attends the film screenings - they're all to busy getting autographs from the old-school horror celebrities out in the vendors' hall. But that's okay, because people will stop by your booth and pick up the DVD even if they didn't attend the screening, so your movie still gets seen. Meanwhile, the after parties are as wild as any I attended while touring with a rock band - horror geeks are cool people, and they all love getting drunk n' crazy.

Talk about distribution. What lessons have you learned and if you could pass on one word of advice to other indie filmmakers, what would it be?

We're about to sign our first distro deal, so we'll just have to see how this goes. Ask me again in a year, I'll probably have more to say on the subject.

Talk about the indie horror scene. Where do you think it is now and where do you think it’s going?

As a musician, I already saw what the Internet did to the music scene, and it's just beginning to have the same effect on filmmaking. The good news is that digital technology makes it possible for anyone with a little bit of money, a lot of friends, and a ton of self-motivation to make a no- or low-budget film, even if their ideas are so wild or weird (or lame) that they'd never get money from a studio. However, the downside is that, with online piracy sucking all the money out of the game, it's harder than ever to get financing for a mid-budget movie, or to make a living as an artist. Taken together, that means you'll see more and more original indie movies, but the average quality will take a dive, since many of them will be shit and even the good ones will be made with the filmmakers' own money, in their spare time. In that sense, THE LANDLORD may be a sign of what's to come.

Where can people find out more about “The Landlord” or, better yet, buy a copy?

Just follow this link right here:

What’s next for you?

Despite what I said about it being harder than ever to get financing for a movie, we've got two scripts in development that we're raising money for. One is a really dark, violent horror-comedy set in a prison, while the other is a more serious supernatural thriller about an ancient Chinese dagger that grants wishes at a horrible price. Hopefully we'll find investors, 'cause G-d knows I'll be paying off those credit cards for THE LANDLORD for a good, long while.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dead Harvey takes a look at Shriekfest 2009

I just caught wind that Shriekfest announced its selections for the 2009 festival. Now, Shriekfest is one of our favorites of the year. If you're interested in the festival and how it works, check out the interview that we did with the festival director, Denise Gossett, you can find it here. They screen features, shorts and also do a screenwriting competition. You can see all the selections over on their site, which is at and you can also find out when you can submit for Shriekfest 2010, which may not be for a while. One reason we really like these guys is that they don't "discriminate between award-winning films and unrecognized films during its submission process (and they) aim to help filmmakers of all levels gain valuable exposure." It's true, too. They're a good group of horror fans over there...

So, here's why I think you should give a shit about this. Festivals like this are a look into what the indies are doing and where Hollywood could be going. As far as horror concerned, people have been saying that studios and execs are looking at what's popular at festivals like this, then fishing from the pond. Whether they buy up the ideas or just steal them, that's a different story. For you, the indie filmmaker, it's a good way to get a feel for trends. Like, there's only one zombie film this year... and there's a lot of dark, quirky horror/comedies. Also, the "thriller" is well represented. Hmmm... thinking about your next idea? How about you peruse the list? Maybe you'll get some ideas. So, if you're interested, you'll find brief descriptions of all the feature films that have been selected AND we put up the trailers for most of them on our Youtube page, which you can find here. If you're interested in the shorts and the screenplays, you'll have to go to the Shriekfest site.

"Dark House", directed by Darin Scott, is about a troupe of actors that get hired to play a haunted house, but soon realize that it's a true house of horrors. After seeing all the trailers, this looks like it could be the lowest budget film of the group. However, I mean that literally, so it could be the best of the bunch. The trailer sure seems intriguing.

"Dawning", directed by Gregg Holtgrewe, is shot, in part, like an observational documentary. It's about a creature that's on the loose, killing wildlife and farm animals. I think, anyhow. The trailer makes it look like they may just be going insane, turning on each other. I don't know.

"Evil Angel", directed by Richard Dutcher, is set in present day Chicago and it's about the ancient avenging demon Lilith, who wants to destroy a young paramedic's life. Decent cast, with Ving Rhames and Ava Gaudet. Not much out there on it, just a basic one page site, which you can find here.

"Evilution", directed by Chris Conlee, has already won 3 awards. It's a zombie flick about an alien bacterium that resurrects the dead and it stars Billy Morrison, the bass player for the Cult.

"How to be a Serial Killer", directed by Luke Ricci, has also already won an award. It's a dark comedy about a serial killer that recruits a pupil to teach his ways to. Looks great and the pupil is Matthew Gray Gubler from "Criminal Minds".

"Hurt", directed by Barbara Stepansky, is about a recently widowed family that's forced to move into their uncle's salvage yard. Soon after the arrival of a mysterious foster child, a family secret starts to threaten their lives.

"Lo", directed by Travis Betz, is a horror/comedy/romance about a guy who contacts the demon Lo to help him rescue his girlfriend, who's been kidnapped by other demons.

"Maneater", directed by Michael Emanuel, is about a sheriff that profiles a series of unexplained murders, only to discover that the monster he's profiling may be himself. He may, in fact, be some sort of strange werewolf, chupacabre, beast-like thing.

"No-Do", also referred to as "The Beckoning", directed by Elio Quiroga, is about a pediatrician who suffers from postpartum depression and slowly goes insane from nocturnal visits to... I don't know, the summary was too long. It's a bit confusing. Haunted house... she's been traumatized. Watch the trailer, it's on our youtube page.

"Shellter", directed by Dan Donley, is about a young woman that wakes up in a fallout shelter and is coerced into horrific acts in order to stay alive. I couldn't find the trailer on youtube, but you can see it on their site, which you can find here.

"Spike", directed by Robert Beaucage, is a monster movie. That's all I can find out right now. However, their marketing described it as "Angela Carter rewriting La Belle et la Bete as an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Oooo... Buffy. I like Buffy. Couldn't find a trailer, but there's more on their site, which you can find here.

"Surviving Evil", directed by Terence Daw and starring Billy Zane, is about a documentary crew in the Philippines that's filming a survival special. Things go bad, creatures are involved.

"Sutures", directed by Tammi Sutton, is about a mercenary surgeon and his demonic staff who go after a group of friends to sell their body parts on the black market.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Horror Out On DVD This Week and a warm 'welcome back' to the NFL.

Well, horror got hammered at the box office over the weekend and not in a good way... "Sorority Row" and "Whiteout" both had very disappointing openings, grossing just over $5Million each and coming in at 5th and 6th, respectively. In fact, "The Final Destination" came in 4th, grossing more than either, although barely. Top movie of the week? "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself". Did anyone see "Sorority Row" or "Whiteout"? I didn't. I kept myself busy on Saturday, as I wanted to free up my Sunday. Why? Well, it was week 1 for the NFL. And that means that Sundays are now occupied for a while, well... at least for another 16 weeks or so. Welcome back NFL.

There's actually a few quality indie horror's coming out on DVD this week, but there's tons of rereleases and Blu-rays. I'll talk about some of the notable new releases, then mention the rereleases and all that. You can check out the trailers for all the new shit by going over to our Youtube page
here and you can also click on the titles to go to their pages on Amazon.

"Grace" was written and directed by Paul Solet and it's based on a short film from 2006 that featured Liza Weil and Brian Austin Green. Now, don't hold the fact that David Silver was involved against it, though... they made that short as a way to get funding for the feature, which he is not in. I recently saw the film and, well, it's interesting. Definitely worth checking out. Basically, it's about a woman who's desperate to have a child, but when her and her husband are in a car accident, the husband dies and the doctors tell her the unborn child is dead, too. However, after giving birth to what she thinks is a still born baby, it comes to life... but then develops an unhealthy smell, attracts flies and craves blood. Part "Inside", part "Basketcase", all disturbing.

I'm not sure where "Deadgirl" screened first, but it tore through the horror festival circuit last year, getting fairly good reviews. It's written by Troma vet, Trent Haaga, and was directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel. It's about a couple of high school guys who discover an imprisoned woman in an abandoned mental asylum, who can't die... now, what do you think a couple of high school kids that found an undead hottie would do? Well, that's exactly what they do... and trials, tribulations and life lessons get learned along the way.

Now, for a bit of classic micro-cinema... they're rereleasing "Silo Killer" in a double-pack with its sequel, "Silo Killer 2: The Wrath of Kyle". Now, it's not a double-pack, like you get two DVD's... they're both on the one DVD. If you're aware of "Silo Killer", it's written and directed by Bill Koning and it came out in 2002. I'm not sure if it gained 'cult classic' status, so to speak, but it's pretty f'ing close. As far as micro-cinema and the indie horror world is concerned, it's definitely a classic. You gotta check out the trailer for the sequel over on our Youtube page. Definitely a must-see. I haven't seen the sequel, so it's definitely on my list of things to watch this week.

Talk about ambitious filmmaking... "pvc-1" is based on the true story of a group of terrorists that invade a home, then attached a bomb encased in pvc-1 tubing around a mothers neck and demanded 15Million pesos. Here's the ambitious part, though. It's from Greek/Columbian writer/director Spiro Stathoulopoulos and it's filmed in one unbroken, real-time take. Amazing. All shot on DV, too. We've got the trailer on our Youtube page, check 'er out.

I don't know much about "Spirits Among Us", but it's a micro-cinema horror from writer/director Ray Jenkins. It's 60 mins long and apparently has a bit of a Christian theme.

Also, there's Blu-ray editions of "An American Werewolf in London", "Wrong Turn", "Wrong Turn 2 - Dead End" and "Army of Darkness (Screwhead Edition)". If you didn't catch "Fear Itself" when it was on TV, you can now get "Fear Itself: The Complete First Season". There's some other junk, too... if you want, you can peruse the new horror out by clicking here.