Friday, January 29, 2010

This Time, It's Different... Or is it?

So, Hollywood's in a bit of a financial slump, which is really just a reflection of the monetary woes of the entire nation. Couple that with a war that's lingering in people's minds and you've got a nation in a state of flux. Filmmakers are responding with films based in the harsh truths of war, stories surrounding real people in real scenarios, unsettling looks at city life and stories that reflect the disenfranchisement brought on by the excess of the past twenty odd years. Some of these films will go on to financial success and a lot of them will gain huge critical success, but as for the audience, they head out in droves to see disaster films, blockbusters and horror films. Any of this sound familiar? Am I talking about what's going on right now? I could be, but I'm actually talking about the 70's.

We all know that Hollywood churns out films for a profit, it's just business. It's what they do. However, I don't care what you say, film is an art. There's 'artists' involved in every film you see. Until bean counters can write and lawyers can storyboard, there will always be artists involved in every film. And artists always use their canvas, in some way, as a reflection or interpretation of what's going on in the world. Not only that, what audiences want to see will change with the economic and social climate. There's a reason that films like "The Hurt Locker" are getting critical acclaim today... it's the same reason that "M*A*S*H" did well in 1970. People want to see the harsh truths of war, 80's style action probably wouldn't do well right now. Having said that, people love their fantasy films, as they did in the 70's. Why? Escapism, the idea that there's something else out there, something better - "Star Wars", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Superman"... or was that "Avatar", "Transformers" and "Dark Knight"? Disaster Movies scare the crap out of people because, well... they want something else besides the economy and war to be scared of - 1970's: "The Poseidon Adventure", "Airport" and "Earthquake". 2000's - "2012", "The Day After Tomorrow" and "Knowing". What about our favorite genre? Well, horror becomes less about fantasy and more about true, gory depictions of what humans are capable of. 1970's - "Halloween", "The Hills Have Eyes" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". 2000's - "Halloween", "The Hills Have Eyes" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"...

My point here is that film becomes a reflection of what's going on in society and audiences will respond, based on that. Right now, a decade into the new millennium, we're remarkably similar to where we were in the 70's. We're recently off the 'great recession', there's a war on everyones minds and there's massive movement towards 'green living' and a sustainable lifestyle. Excuse me if that doesn't sounds a lot like oil shocks and stagflation, the Vietnam and Korean wars and the hippy movement. So, if you're wondering where film is going and what you should be writing and making right now, look no further than film history. Sure, just like stocks, past performance can't gauge the future, but... it can give you a good idea of what's going on and maybe it'll give you an idea or two.

So, what does this mean for you, the filmmaker or writer? Well, here's my thoughts... if you're a horror writer, you should be sticking to gritty, realistic films. Think "I Spit On Your Grave", "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" or "Last House on the Left". Of course, if you're into the sci-fi or adventure stuff, you better go way out there and have a high level concept that easily saleable and explained in one sentence. Other thoughts... I think you need to keep your characters down to earth, realistic and somewhat depressed... think early Woody Allen or Travis Bickle. I think there's going to be a rash of gritty crime films coming, too. Like "Godfather" or "Scarface", update those and you may be on to something. Escapism will be a constant theme for sci-fi and blockbusters... and I think there's going to be a rise in monster movies and realistic alien movies. I may be wrong, I may be right, who knows? At absolute worst, I hope I give you something to think about... and maybe an idea or two.

Have a great weekend, see you next week!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Interview with Colin Cunningham, actor/director of "Centigrade"

I'm a big fan of short form film... and for various reasons. As a filmmaker, they're great and economical ways to explore a subject matter. Features cost a ton of dough and take lots of time and man-hours to make. If you can make a short, based on a bigger idea, you have something to show financiers, studios or executives. You can also enter it in festivals and drum up interest. They're great calling cards, you have a better chance of getting people to actually watching them and they're easier to get into film festivals. Also, short form films are easily distributed through the web... Once again, a great way to get your content out there and in front of people and that's really what you want. At the end of the day, if you're looking to make a name for yourself or get noticed, short form film offers a lot of opportunities.

Now, because of all that, we've had a lot of short form films sent our way over the last few years and have seen a few people go on to big things because of them. Most notably are the Fewdio guys and Paul Campion, who, between the two of them, made some of our favorite films of the year; "Nightmare House", "Eel Girl", etc... Recently, we had the opportunity to watch "Centigrade", by Colin Cunningham, and it now joins the ranks of those films that I just mentioned. The film is both mysterious and satisfying, as it leaves you with some questions, but, really... you don't care that they're not answered. The film is set up perfectly and effectively and it delivers in the end, which is everything you want from a short. That goes without mentioning the cinematography, which nails the claustrophobic and tense look and feel. The film is exactly what a short horror film should be and, not only that, it leaves you wanting more. We had the opportunity to discuss the film with Colin...

Tell us a bit about your short film, "Centigrade"

CENTIGRADE is film about karmic justice. Inspired by Steven Spielberg's (almost forgotten) classic DUEL, a man lives in an old, broken down Airstream travel trailer, but wakes up one morning to discover that he is, in fact, rolling down a desert highway. Towed by a mysterious black pick up truck, the man has to use his wits in order to survive. The film started with Producer (and business partner) Madison Graie. I had actually written the script 14 years previously and she recommended I blow the dust off it and see if it was still worth looking at. It was actually the DGC (Directors Guild Canada) that inspired a re-look because of their annual KICK START AWARD. A couple hundred people go for the thing, to which they only pick 3 or 4. If we could win the award, it would be $20,000 (the films budget). So, we applied. We won. And away we went.

Also, I'd like to mention that everybody thinks that 'credibility' only comes with a feature. If it's not 90 minutes, it's worthless. And nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the best films I saw in 2009 were all shorts. Mind blowing works. Films 6 minutes long packing more punch than most 2 hour epics. It all started with the short format. Hal Roach, Chaplin. All geniuses. And as any lover of good cinema will tell you. It's not how long it is, but what you do with it.

I had absolutely NO interest in acting in the film. If anything, I was somewhat retiring from acting and phasing into directing full time. I've been in a stable of directors over at CMT (Country Music Television) as well as having worked a number of other indie film projects and it was time to make the jump full time. I had actor Callum Rennie slated to play the lead, but we couldn't lock schedules down. So I reluctantly put on the acting hat as well.

You did a great job of creating a claustrophobic atmosphere in the trailer and the camerawork was fantastic. Talk about creating that look and feel

Cinematographer KEVIN HALL, Madison and myself spent a great deal of time working that out. To create an environment that felt like you we're trapped inside an iron lung, as opposed to hanging out in one of those fun, Airstream travel trailers cruising around on holiday.

You not only played the lead role, you also wrote and directed the film. Talk about balancing all your roles out

It was hell. And I mean that. An incredibly hard thing to do. To act in a film that you're directing, isn't really that big of a deal. Provided that you're sitting in an office, or doing a simple walk and talk. No problem. But for this, this was off the chart. And again, it was 'not' an ego thing. I didn't want to act in it. I really didn't. Fortunately, I had Madison guiding the performance from the other side of the camera. Still, on our last day of shooting, I swore I'd never do it again. That kind of stuff will put you in the hospital.

The film has a distinct ending, but does leave the audience with a few questions... the main one is, who's doing this to this guy? Is this on purpose or... is there something I'm missing?

Well, I don't want to give anything away, but no, you didn't missing anything. It's deliberately ambiguous. It's left up to the audience to put their own two cents in there. But it's essentially a tale of karmic justice. The dark irony of what happens when the 'trapper' becomes entrapped.

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

Madison and I adore film. We both started out as actors on stage and have such a great passion for it. To be on stage, in a moment of pure magic when you connect with the play, the character, the audience. It's incredible. But with film, you can actually capture that 'moment'. To record it. To trap it on film forever. Replay it. Put it in the mail. Wow. To attempt that kind of thing thing is why we're filmmakers.

Film school: Yes or No?

I did go to film school. But there wasn't anything I learned there technically that I couldn't have learned in 3 days on a film set. I don't knock film schools, but I would strongly recommend you DO NOT take a 4 year program and put yourself a 100,000 in debt. That's insanity.

When you set out to make "Centigrade", what was your goal? Was it to get accolades at festivals, was it to open doors, was it financial? Did you accomplish those goals with it?

We'd made a lot of movies. Shorts, music videos, features. And certainly not all of them were as successful as Centigrade. But Centigrade has proven what can be done with 15 minutes. I can only pray that it inspires others to get out there and do the same. But it started out as a presentation pilot for a tv show. But to see how it would be received, we began submitting to film festivals. Then iTUNES heard about the film and we made a deal. And not only did Centigrade make the Top Ten List of 'Best Shorts' on iTUNES, but it was also the first short film in iTUNES history to break the TOP TEN in FEATURE downloads. We literally made it along side such mega Hollywood Blockbusters as IRON MAN and INDIANA JONES (Crystal Skull). These are 60-80 million dollars flicks. And to be a 20,000 dollar 'short'... to make it onto such a list with people like Steven Spielberg is just incredible. But the icing on the cake had to be making the short list for an Academy Award Nomination last year. We qualified by taking Best Short at Cinequest in California and made it through the first couple rounds after that. Pretty cool.

All in all. The project has accomplished what we'd always prayed for. It started out as a presentation pilot for a tv show. And it has served us quite well in that regard. We went to the Banff Film and Television market in Canada and have since partnered up with some great companies in bringing 13 episodes of DARKARMA (the tv show) to the small screen. We've just formally locked down show runner, Sam Egan, are in negotiations with both network and distributor and it's all systems go.

The film won various awards at film festivals, so you obviously entered a bunch. Talk about the festival scene. Is it something that every filmmaker should get involved in?

Absolutely. But the tough part is that you never know which one is going to be a bust. You just don't know. You think, just because 'such and such' is the biggest, then it's the best. When in fact, it's a tiny festival where you may want to be. Plus, it's a bit of an unpublicized truth, but SO many film festivals are nothing more than a racket. Pure and simple. When submitting, you may wonder if they actually ever watched your film. But you can be damn sure they cashed your check. I've always said, want to make money in film? Don't start a film company. Start a film festival.

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

It's an exciting right now. Incredibly exiting. And if you're a filmmaker, try not to get too caught up in 'what's happening now' or where it's going. Learn as much as you can about what is happening in terms of the industry, distribution etc. Just don't forget to get out there and SHOOT!

Where can people find out more about "Centigrade" or get their hands on a copy?

iTUNES is perhaps the easiest place to get hold of it. Just type in 'Centigrade' in the search window. But also, keep a look out for the feature version of Centigrade and, of course, the tv series inspired by it. The new show is called DARKARMA. The first show in the history of television devoted entirely to the concept of karmic justice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Box Office Wrap Up, Sundance and the Week In Horror DVD's

I don't know, it's tough to say anything new about the box office anymore. Once again, "Avatar" is number one overall, although "Legion" did come in second... Currently, Worldwide, "Avatar" has grossed $1,836,143,000. "Titanic", obviously, is the highest grossing film of all time... it's final Worldwide take? $1,842,900,000. So, "Avatar" should surpass it sometime this week and take the top spot. The real story here is foreign box office and if you're interested in how you write something that has that international appeal, "Avatar" is a shining sample. It's all about universal, simple to understand stories, action & adventure and special effects. It's a spectacle film - everyone wants to see a spectacle and it's the same here as it is in India, China or Russia. What's funny is, the Chinese government finally banned "Avatar" from most of its theaters last week because they thought it was limiting the exposure Chinese movies. Crazy... Anyhow, on the other side of the film spectrum, both Sundance and Slamdance got underway this last weekend. There's various good looking horror films that are screening at Sundance this year, including: "Splice", which I'm extremely excited about and anxious to see; "7 Days"; "The Violent Kind", from the infamous Butcher Brothers; "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil", which looks awesome - please, find the trailer on youtube; the much talked about, "Buried", staring Ryan Reynolds and, finally, "Frozen", which looks crazy. I won't get into Slamdance, maybe I'll cover off everything that's playing there later this week, I don't know. However, what I would like to get to is the week in horror DVD releases, as it's the best week we've had in quite some time. As usual, click here to go to our Youtube page, where you can see all the trailers AND you can click on the titles to go to their Amazon pages, where you can read more about the films and/or buy them.

"Pontypool" was directed by Bruce McDonald and was adapted by Tony Burgess, from his own novel called "Pontypool Changes Everything". The entire film takes place in a radio station, as the morning team takes reports of an extreme, bloody riot from their field reporter. As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that it's not just a regular riot, it's a zombie outbreak. Well, the filmmakers say they aren't zombies, it's a various, but... whatever. The cool thing about the film is, they simultaneously produced the story both as this film and as a radio play. Pretty cool, I'd love to check out the radio play.

Alright, Frank Henenlotter, I love you, buddy. I'm a huge "Basket Case" fan, loved "Brain Damage" and I even respect "Frankenhooker". However, I think you missed the boat on "Bad Biology". I could be wrong, please argue with me on this one, but... I just found it to be pure sexploitation. Don't get me wrong, sexploitation is overly evident in all Henenlotter films and I'm a fan, but... chasing a detached steroid-riddled penis around? Believe it or not, the film actually won the Phantasmagoria award from the Philadelphia Film Festival, where it premiered in 2008. He's a legend, check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Speaking of legendary B-horror filmmakers... welcome back, Charles Band, welcome back. Nearly 20 years after the original "Demonic Toys", we finally get "Demonic Toys 2". Now, let's not forget that there was also "Dollman vs Demonic Toys", "Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys" and "Demonic Toys: Personal Demons", but this is the OFFICIAL sequel. Full Moon and Charles Band... love it.

From the mind of Walter Koenig, comes "InAlienable". Yes, Walter Koenig, Star Trek's Chekov. Believe it or not, he actually did do some writing over the years, mostly for the shows that he acted in. I've already talked about this particular film, so I don't want to rehash the fact that it stars piles of ex-Star Trek actors... but what I do want to comment on is, is it really about a guy who gives birth to an alien after it grows inside his stomach as a parasite, then he tries to adopt it back in a court case against the government? REALLY? Check out the trailer... I swear that's what the allude to. Either way, I'll be watching this one very soon.

Now, there's a few indie horror's coming out, as well... and I'll quickly touch on them because I don't know much about them, nor do I have time to research them. "Madness" is about a group of cheerleaders that hook up with a band of ruthless killers, nice mix. Cheerleaders and crazy killers, I like the concept. "Dead at the Box Office" is a zombedy about a zombies that trap a group of innocent bickering victims in a movie theater and they're more dangerous to each other than the zombies are. I do like the setting and premise, so I'll be sure to check this one out, too. "The Double Born" actually has some budget behind it and it won a bunch of festival awards. It's tauted as "a new thriller from the creative team that brought you the Hellraiser and Wishmaster series". Also, it's based on a Bram Stoker novel, I guess. Last up is "8 Million Dollars", which is a low-budget horror about 8 people competing for $8Million. The set up is, there's $8Million and 8 people and you're all spending the night in this old mansion. Split the money or one person can walk out with all of it, here's some weapons... have a nice night. Concept seems a bit used to me and the story would really require a good catalyst to get people killing each other, as I'd just say, "I'll take a million, fight amongst yourselves, I'll be upstairs taking a nap. Having said that, I haven't see it, so I don't know... maybe they do a good job of setting it up.

That's it for today, we've got a good interview ready for Wednesday, so look forward to that!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Content vs Distribution: An Argument and A Perspective

There's a long running argument in the entertainment world... content or distribution? Which is King? Personally, I've always thought that content is king, but that could just be the storyteller in me. Tell a good story, make it compelling, make it good and it'll find its way. Cream always rises to the top... or was it shit always rises to the top? In any case, there's a lot of people out there who disagree with that and think that distribution is King. Go ahead, make whatever you want, the people who distribute content will decide what's good and who watches. At the end of the day, you need to get past the gatekeeper. Really, if you think about it, this whole argument is basically the studios versus the indies, isn't it? The studios are the ones who have the agreements with the theater chains, they own the networks, they have the distribution. They can make shit movies and still make a buck. Indies, on the other hand, are all about content. They have to sell their films, they have to find an audience. If their content stinks, that's it, it stinks and hopefully their parents like it... because they probably funded it. Both sides have a point and it's not a new argument. So, what is it? Content or distribution?

Up until recently, the distribution side probably won out. Who's kidding who? If you didn't want to go through the networks, the studios or the theater chains, how were you going to get anyone to watch your content? What was the result of that system? Well, you had Tuesday nights where the best thing on TV was "Coach" and you got a lot of Dolph Lundgren movies... with all due respect to Dolph, I loved his movies. Today, the networks, studios and theater chains are actually starting to lose a bit of their power. Sure, you still have to go through a network, studio or cable provider, but there's 100's of channels that run lots of indie content, there's plenty of DVD distribution outlets that will stock your film and there's tons of film festivals that'll give you a theatrical screening... and that all goes without mentioning the one distribution outlet that's shaking the very foundation that the studios, networks and theater chains were built on - the internet. From downloading legal indie content to piracy to Hulu and Boxee, the power really is starting to shift from distribution to content. Now, tell a good story, make it compelling, make it intriguing and you can find an audience, one way or the other.

Now, I don't think that it means that it's going to be any easier to distribute your film... or, should I say, successfully distribute your film. I still think you're going to need help, which I think will see the rise of a new breed of agent or manager, one that helps you navigate this 'new world' of distribution and just takes a percentage of profits. This is an area that we at Dead Harvey are hoping to get into, to be honest. We know and study the landscape and see a world of opportunity for good films and good content that studios, networks and theater chains would generally ignore. As usual, if any of you would like help in this area or just want our opinions, we're more than happy to give it - like I said, we're still studying this landscape and would love to work with some 'test subjects', so to speak. However, if reaching out for help just isn't your thing and you'd rather just read something, here's links to two articles that I recently found, which gave me the idea for this post.

Screen: Indie Filmmakers Find Alternatives to the Multiplex - I actually read this offline in Wired magazine, one of the few magazine that I actually still purchase... and then found it online to share. A great one page article on how indie filmmakers are finding out new ways to make money.

Backyard Filmmakers Are Hollywood's Greatest Fear: Analysis - funny thing about this article is that it was written 5 years ago. It's a good read, but the sites he mentions and the technology he talks about are currently outdated. However, I think that makes the article all that much more valid.

Have a great weekend, see you next week!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated" - An Interview with the Curator and Producer, Mike Schneider

Who's kidding who? Of course there's a part of me that wishes that I could just spend my days writing, working on projects, talking with and helping indie horror filmmakers, watching movies and playing the odd video game. Problem is, currently, none of those activities are classified as 'paying jobs'. Maybe a script of mine will get optioned. Maybe one of our projects will get picked up. Maybe someone will pay me six figures to sit on my couch and play my PS3... maybe. Joking aside, that's really what we're trying to do over here at Dead Harvey. We want to figure out how to make money in indie horror. We want to help YOU make money in indie horror. We want to create new markets in indie horror. We want this whole little sub-genre to rise up from the ass-end of Hollywood and for us all to get paid (and paid well) for what we love to do... right? Well, right? I think so... do we want to turn our 'art' into a 'business'? Really, right now, indie horror is an art. The arguable definition of art is "the human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature". That's one definition, but the long and short is, money is nowhere to be found in the definition of 'art'. In fact, when you start to cater a visual art to consumers in an attempt to make money, some would argue that it ceases to be art. Mike Schneider's "Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated" is art... plain and simple and, I have to say, it was refreshing to watch.

Truth is, we all started as artists, didn't we? We fiddled with cameras, we doodled in our notebooks, we put together little videos. That's art... we weren't doing it to make money. Somewhere along the way, we realized that if we want to keep doing this, we better figure out a way to make money at it. That's where business crept in and, possibly, some of the art was sacrificed. "Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated" is like an adrenaline rush of horror art... a kick in teeth reminder that, really, what we're all about IS art. I don't know about you, but all through high school and, later, film school, I would doodle and draw homages to some of my favorite horror films, all while some professor droned on about the Russian surrealist movement. THAT'S what this film is all about. Over 100 horror artists, using every type of medium possible; doodled, sketched, animated and painted scenes from "Night of the Living Dead" and Schneider put it all together over the original audio track. It's a project that's unlike anything I've ever seen and it's a true reminder of what horror, for a lot of us, is really all about. Sure, we all need to make a living, but hopefully we can remember to do that without sacrificing too much of the art. We had the pleasure of discussing the project with Mike Schneider...

Let’s just get right to it… NOTLD:R is just about as interesting a project as you’re going to find these days. Tell us a bit about it and where did the idea come from?

Artists have always been the 'other', those things working outside of the mainstream culture who bang up against its edges as they try to grab an audience and influence their perspective. Driven by an unstoppable need to create, the post modern artist continues to shuffle forward even after accepting that the traditions of art are dead. Questioning the role of identity, exploring the nature of absence, and constantly appropriating, the ghouls can serve as role models.

While watching a battle-worn copy of Night of the Living Dead, it dawned on me that this project should be approached as a horde with all of the individuals working independently toward the same goal. In effect, Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated turns Night of the Living Dead onto itself.

What would the budget be for a project like this and where did it go?

Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated did not touch a penny in production. Relying heavily on free software, found materials, and hand-driven processes, this project was created completely by volunteer artists out of love for their craft and the original film.

How did you go about contacting all the horror artists and what was their reactions like? Was there anyone that declined and why?

At first, there was a question of why we would invest so much time and energy in working with an existing film instead of creating a 'new' movie. Fan artists naturally understood that there was something to be gained by the artist's hand and so they were some of the first to sign up. Once we started having artwork to show, others saw freedom in the project and merit in the idea. Soon more and more artists began to join us.

As one would assume, when talking about a project which was not touching money in production and would not be taking any money in profits, there were artists who backed away. I would argue that if money is your prime motivation that you are a hired hand not an artist... but I'm a bohemian communist so, if I believed in contracts, I'd be under one to say that. To be completely honest, this was an experimental project and from the start, nobody (myself included) knew quite what to expect from it. I posted the call to entry everywhere it would stick and the artists who had the passion to work without pay and the balls to work without guarantees stepped forward.

I guess an obvious question is, does Romero know about it and, if so, has he seen it and what’s his response?

Contact has been made with different members of the '68 production, however, I respect their anonymity and will not speak on their behalf. Their words have been exploited enough and, as a fan, I won't exploit them further.

As a fan who knows the film quite well, I just found myself more into the various art forms and mediums… not really following the story. However, I assume the film is made for fans, like me. What’s the reaction been like from other fans?

I have received words of love and hate and I see both as valid. Rowdy theaters, horror hosts, and audience participation all add to the experience but can also distract someone from the movie if they don't enter them with the right mindset. Art is really no different. What all of these things offer is a new prospective to frame how you view something that you already know. Some fans relish the chance to gain a new experience with a film they love while others see anything outside of 'their frame' as an un-welcomed distraction. As is said of religion, some read the books and others recite the words.

For the fans, there is a benefit to re-framing something, particularly through art. Scientifically speaking, when you view something repeatedly your mind stops observing and starts recalling the memories you have associated with it audio and visual cues. When you offer an alternative to these cues, such as new visuals, you mind recognizes that there is new information to take in and begins watching it again. Once your mind is given multiple sets of visuals to associate with the same sound, your eye begins scanning for both sets of cues in the video and that results in you seeing things in the original film which you may have previously over looked... no matter how many times you have seen it.

Though initial audiences seemed somewhat polarized, it appears that as people become more familiar with the project and it's intentions, the audience has become increasingly receptive to it. I can't say for sure if this is the project finding it's audience or more people talking the project on it's own terms but either way, this is a good sign for the project. I have no allusions that this experimental piece is going to be for everyone but hopefully, it will serve the viewers who are open to it.

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

I'm a conceptual artist and an experimental animator working in the anti-art traditions of the incoherent, dada, and fluxus art movements. Raised in front of a TV, I feel at home with media. Blending elements of science, art and media, my fine arts work has been refereed to as, 'thinking of abstracts and searching for their edges.' Though I am not bound to any particular process, an underlying theme that extends through much of my work is exploring the mechanics of communication.

Particular influences include Marcel DuChamp, PT Barnum, Go Nagai, William Castle, and Al Feldstein. Their willingness to take risks and drive to to pull ahead of the curve is an inspiration. Their commitment to their ideas and devotion to their trade is something we could all learn from. In a world full of wooden manikins, these men were about as plastic as they come..

Film school: Yes or No?

No. BFA: Fine Arts Studio: Sculpture, BS: Art Education: Painting and BFA: Fine Arts: Digital Media. I have also worked both in production and in a small traditional (hand) animation studio. I believe we must remember that film is a type of animation... not the other way around.

When you set out to make NOTLD:R, what was your goal? Was this pure art form or were you looking for some sort of financial success? How would you like the film to be distributed?

I guess, I got sick of seeing these beautiful works of art on the cover of piss poor films. I'm sure we've all had a moment where we see a box and think, 'wow that looks cool,' only to get home and find that the person who made that box isn't even involved with the project. What if the whole project was art?

On a personal level, I'm nostalgic for a time that was before me. This prospective is undoubtedly romanticized but when I think back to the early days of film, everything seems so new and exciting. Film makers back then had no choice but to experiment and find their own way. Horror in particular was the playground for various techniques as it blurs the shadows between reality and fiction. I decided long ago that I needed to work my way back to that point before I would be ready to call myself a film maker. There are so many assumptions which I need to unlearn.

As far as distribution, I've split my energy between traditional and nontraditional approaches. There will be a wide DVD release by Wild Eye Releasing that will be chocked full of bonus features as well as an official torrent release through Demonoid. There will be numerous free streaming and download versions available and we continue to offer up free screening rights to independent theaters/ festivals/ art spaces and free broadcast/ webcast rights to numerous horror hosts. This is a project created by the horror/ art community and so it should be free to that community.

I’d think that this is a perfect film for the film festivals. Did, or do you plan to, enter the film in to any festivals? What are your thoughts on the indie horror festival circuit?

We have taken the vampire model here and gone where we are invited. We have screened at festivals, organizations, colleges, high schools, bars, independent theaters, art centers, online, broadcasts, and, heck, even in a virtual theater within the game Second Life. Like working on anything else, the more you plan, the more you assume and the more you limit yourself... so, I opted to make myself approachable and then accommodated the opportunities which opened up to us. Anyone who has a venue or platform and would like to show NOTLD:R should email me at so we can set it up.

As far as the 'indie circuit', it seems like an oxymoron doesn't it. If you are truly independent then why the heck are you hopping in a prescribed path. Independent productions stem from grass roots traditions which involve one person talking to another person. There are plenty of independent venues out there which are starved for content and getting strangled out by this studio system so do each other a favor and work together.

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

Honestly, after watching many horror films, I find myself more interested in where the genre has gone then where it is going. I see the current state sort of like a car wreck. Yes, there are flashing lights and gore but if you focus on that you're going to get stuck in traffic while they scrape those special effects off of the road.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm more interested in turning around, getting off at some other exit, and looking for an alternative route then waiting in line to rubber neck at the accident up ahead.

Where can people find out more about NOTLD:R or check it out?

The project's website is As far as checking out the project itself, we will be appearing on numerous net and broadcast based horror host programs and continue screening in various independent venues strait through the wide releases online and on DVD at the end of April. So contact your local horror host or independent theater to see if they will be showing it. If they aren't yet, then have them email me at and I will work with them to rectify that and get the project playing in your area.

What’s next for you?

We have already started the early stages of production on the next project in this series, 'Unseen Horror'. Unseen Horror turns a similar approach (inviting artists to come, select scenes, and animate/ illustrate them through their own style/ media then curating the results) towards old time horror radio dramas. These radio dramas were independent film before there was independent film and contain some of the greatest horror stories that you've never seen preformed by some of the most talented actors of all time. Through our artwork, we'll help to usher some of these stories into the visual culture. Anyone interested in working with us (artist or otherwise) should email

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Weekend Box Office, The Golden Globes and The Upcoming Week in DVD Horror

It seems a bit redundant by now, but... if you're interested, "Avatar" won the weekend... again. To date, it's pulled in more than $1.6Billion Worldwide and should easily slide above "Titanic"as the highest grossing film of all time in the next week or two. As for the other films that opened this last weekend, both "The Book of Eli" and "The Lovely Bones" did good business. What's kinda cool is that "The Lovely Bones" actually tanked in its initial limited run, so Paramount retooled the marketing campaign and targeted young females or, as they called them, "the Twilight crowd" and it worked. In other news, if you like to follow the industry, you probably checked out the Golden Globes last night. "Avatar" won Best Feature and won James Cameron the Best Director award and, yes, I think he deserves it. You just can't deny a juggernaut film like that... argue with me if you will, but it'll probably kick ass at the Oscars, too. The other notable film award, for me anyhow, was "The Hangover" winning Best Feature Comedy. I love that flick. As for TV, one of my favorite shows, "Dexter", got the nods it deserves and it was good to see Michael C. Hall win Best Actor, as well as John Lithgow to get Supporting Actor for playing the Trinity Killer. If you're interested, the reason Michael C Hall was wearing that beanie is because he's got cancer or, I should say, he's recovering from cancer. He's on the road to recovery after secretly battling Hodgkin's lymphoma. Elsewhere in TV, I've got a soft spot for Alec Baldwin, so it was cool to see him get Best Actor for "30 Rock". Otherwise, let's take a look at the week in horror DVD releases... which is another fairly weak week. As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page to see all the trailers and you can click on the titles to be taken to their pages on Amazon, where you can read more about them and/or buy them.

They didn't have it under horror on Amazon, but "Pandorum" comes out this week. It's from Overture Films, who are the same guys that brought you the "Resident Evil" franchise. Quite frankly, it's not blazing any new trails in horror/sci-fi, but if you're into films like "Aliens", "Resident Evil" or, I don't know, "Event Horizon", you'll probably get a kick out of it. I liked it, it was a good waste of an hour and a half... and there's a few twists and turns, some good gore and scares. It's definitely worth a watch.

Now, I'm pretty sure that "Haunting in Connecticut" came out on DVD a while ago, but it's popping up as a new release this week. So, I'm assuming it's a rerelease, but I don't know why... it does have some new box art. In any case, you probably know all about it. It's your basic, run of the mill, haunted house story. However, if haunted house stories are your thing, you may want to check out the low-budget "Spirits of the Fall" instead. It's written and directed by Russ Diapper and it's out of the UK. The trailer looks... just alright. Having said that, the reviews are great. So, I'm going to have to go and check this bad-boy out... you should, too.

Other than that, you can get the William Shatner classic from 1977, "Kingdom Of The Spiders", the Spanish double pack - "El Castillo de los Monstruos/Conquistador de la Luna" OR the Blu-ray double feature of "Children of the Corn/Hellraiser" - seems like an odd couple, but I'll bite. They're both classics.

Friday, January 15, 2010

From My Inbox To You... A Look At Some Indie Horror Projects

Wow, I can't believe it's Friday. This has been a week from hell and I'm really looking forward to some beers and couch time. My God... Anyhow, the old inbox has been piling up with stuff, so I'm going to unleash some of it. Actually, you should find most of it interesting, as it's all indie horror stuff in varying stages of production... and, in some cases, pre-pre-pre-production. We all need help bringing attention to our projects, ideas and films, so I'm always happy to put this type of stuff out there. It's great for the guys behind these projects, as it gets them a bit of exposure... and it can be great for you, as it may give you some ideas for your projects.

Speaking of projects in pre-pre-pre-production, I was talking with Brendan O'Neill, a filmmaker out of the UK, about a project that he's working on called "Hell Hall". It's a very interesting project and he's already got a few key things in place, including the location. In any case, go check out the Hell Hall Facebook Page, become a fan and check out what he's got going on.

I while ago, we brought your attention to an online web series called "The Scare Game". In fact, we did an interview with Phil Hughes, the writer and director. you can find that interview by clicking here. They're now on their third episode and here's a snippet from the press release they just sent out: "Recently, the horror genre has been inundated with remakes and revamped stories that we've seen a hundred times before. Uncanny Entertainment, based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has set out to challenge this trend. Their new horror web series, The Scare Game, follows a group of horror enthusiasts who have to question their own fandom when they are thrust into a real horror situation. Premiering on youtube and, three episodes are now up and running for your viewing enjoyment. The latest of which can be seen here"

Lastly, we received an email from Sarah James, who just started up a new horror blog called "Scare Sarah". One of her prime objectives is to promote indie horror films and that means that we're more than happy to promote her. You can check out her blog at

If you're working on something or are looking for some promotion, please do feel free to email me at We're always more than happy to offer our opinion and help give you a bit of promotion.

Have a great weekend, see you next week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Interview with Jason Baustin, Director of "Cowboy Killer"

When you think about taking a film from concept to completion on next to no budget and next to no crew, the task can seem daunting. Almost impossible. However, each year, hundreds, if not thousands, of filmmakers attempt the impossible - to make a feature. I shouldn't say impossible... if Andy Warhol's "Sleep" can get positive reviews and get watched, anything could. What I should say is, each year filmmakers set out to do what studios do each year with a fraction of the resources - to make a feature that people will watch and enjoy and THAT is a difficult task.

For me, filmmaking is like building a pyramid... or a log cabin. The bottom, the foundation, needs to be strongest - the story or concept. Next, there's the screenplay - dialogue should be sharp, characters well drawn out. After that, you should set realistic goals and figure out how you're going to deliver this project - what's the budget, what are we going to film on and will that be able to tell the story properly? From there, it gets easier and easier, until you're just executing... until you get to post-production and, subsequently, the marketing and distribution of your film, but I digress. For me, you'll set yourself up for success by having a strong concept/story and then figuring out how you're going to deliver that story. These are things that Jason Baustin and company did extremely well when setting out to make "Cowboy Killer".

"Cowboy Killer" is a throwback to 70's grindhouse... and a good one, at that. I actually saw the trailer a ways back and when I first saw it, I actually thought someone had unearthed some old flick that no one had ever seen. It's not that the story is terribly original, however the main character and his story is. I'd actually go as far as to say, given the right exposure... Roy Thompson, the Cowboy Killer, could be a cult horror icon. In the end, the film blends comedy and horror with a fantastic killer and it's delivered in a great package. In fact, about halfway through the film, you may even forget that you're watching a micro-budget feature and feel like you actually have unearthed some old gem from the 70's. We had the pleasure of discussing the film with director Jason Baustin and, to quote the film, "you're in for a damn treat".

First off, tell us a bit about “Cowboy Killer”. Where did the idea come from and when did you know you wanted to make it?

"Cowboy Killer" came from a side character which was created in Cacchiotti Productions previous film "The Life I Lived." If you check out that film you will get a glimpse of the character (Roy Thompson) who came to be the "Cowboy Killer." Ben Solenberger created the character and worked with Jaymes Camery to create the offbeat script. We decided to make it because we all had some free time and wanted to launch our careers.

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

The budget was around 15k, but we only paid for the necessities.

The key to the film and what made it work for me is the killer. You did a great job of creating a believable killer and Paul Bailey played him perfectly. Talk about bringing that character to life.

Oh Roy Thompson. We knew that only Paul Bailey would be able to pull this character off. To be honest, Paul had a great sense for the story and derangement of the character, so I didn't have to direct him that much. We did some rehearsals and made sure to make him believable. What I like about Roy Thompson, is that he believes he is a good person and doesn't realize he is a psychotic killer.

You mixed comedy with horror quite well in the film. Some of the characters were goofy, like the town drunks, and some were more serious. Talk about blending horror and comedy.

I'm not going to say this part was easy, and I did struggle quite a bit with this part. I wanted to make sure the tone would come out properly and not be completely ridiculous. I tried my hardest to make sure the funny parts were humorous and the scary parts were unsettling. I think the music selection helped with this.

The film had a great retro, grindhouse feel to it. Talk about how you created that look and feel and why you shot it the way you did.

Why thank you! I guess I can thank my DP Jason Simmons and myself for Color Correcting. Shooting on Digital Video can be a tricky thing, and I didn't want it to look like all the crappy horror films in the marketplace. We shot it very traditionally with the Master Shot Technique, but I tried to edit it to make it more interesting since most of the shots were static. To do this, we did many takes...up to 25 for a single scene. As for Color Correcting, I went through each scene and tried to create a custom look that fit the tone.

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

I am a huge film buff. To be honest, I am interested in all genres of film. I wasn't always a horror film lover, only recently. But I really like films with suspense and tension like No Country for Old Men and Bug. I wanted to make movies to see if I could.

Film school: Yes or No?

Yes. American University. I think traditional film school is a great way to study the classics and learn the technical aspects of filmmaking.

When you set out to make the film, what was your benchmark for success? As in, what were you hoping to accomplish? Did you just want to get a film done to open some doors, did you want it to make money, were you looking for critical success?

With this film, I knew we weren't going to get any critical success. I think what Cacchiotti Productions wanted to do, is see how far we could take a horror film on a low budget. We did it more for the experience and enjoyment. We did want to open some doors and make some money...which we hope will happen.

Did you enter the film in to any festivals? If so, how did it do? What are your thoughts on the indie horror festival circuit?

Unfortunately we spent all our money on the film so we couldn't submit to festivals.

Talk about getting distribution and what you had to do after the project was completed. If there was one thing you would do differently, what would it be? If there was one thing that you know you did right, what would that be?

Basically we had to send out hundreds of screeners to small indie distributors. We looked in video stores and found movies comparable to ours and looked up the distributor and contacted them. I think the production schedule of filming was really hard for us. We shot two weeks straight and then stopped. We rarely had extra time. I would've changed that. However, we had the right team to pull it off. Ben Solenberger, Jaymes Camery and Jason Simmons really made this movie possible.

If I was an indie filmmaker, just in pre-production on a new project, what’s the one piece of advice you would pass on to me?

Make sure your script is right. The story is the most important part. It needs to be interesting and make sense. As a viewer and I want to take away something from a film, a message. Unfortunately most low-budget indie films are so worried about the effects and look that they lose touch of the themes of the film and alienate the viewer.

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

I think it is coming back. The past few years has been slammed with so many "Saw" type of ripoffs. I think Creature Features are in high demand.

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

Please visit our website at

What’s next for you?

I hope to make some more short films to hone my craft and then attempt another feature. But I don't think it will be a horror.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Ink", the weekend box office and the week in horror...

Before I even get into the box office round up and the new horror coming out on DVD this week, I need to mention a film that I just watched called "Ink". Has anyone else seen it? With all due respect to "Paranormal Activity", it's the indie film of the year, as far as I'm concerned. Go find this film. I've reached out to the guys who made it and I hope to be able to talk with them soon. Not only did they make one of the most intriguing films of the year on a meagre budget, the way they distributed it is revolutionary. Stay tuned on this. Like I said, I hope to discuss it with them and have something for you soon.

So, as for mainstream horror... Lionsgate's "Daybreakers" didn't actually do that bad over the weekend. It was the best new release of the week, even though it came in fourth overall... behind "Avatar", "Sherlock Holmes" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel". "Avatar" is just a beast... it's unstoppable and I'm predicting that it surpasses "Titanic" as the highest grossing film of all time. "Sherlock Holmes" is a bit of a surprise. I haven't given it much more than a passing thought, but I've talked to a lot of people who have seen it and some were even saying it's Oscar-worthy. Granted, without having seen it, I argued that. In any case, reviews on "Daybreakers" are good and it had a strong opening. "The Book of Eli" comes out this Friday and I don't have much of an opinion on that, either... we'll have to wait and see. As for the week in horror on DVD, it's fairly tame. As usual, you can click here and see all the trailers on our Youtube page and you can click on the titles to be taken to their Amazon page, where you can read more and/or buy the film.

So, without question, the biggest budget release of the week is Rob Zombie's "Halloween II". If you liked the first one, you'll probably like this one, but... for me, these films are so far away from what Rob Zombie's good at. Not only that, I just don't like where he's going with Michael Myers. Truth is, he's humanizing him way too much. I've always liked the fact that Michael Myers was a relentless, faceless killer that was pure evil. You never heard him mutter a word, show a reaction, grunt, spit, whatever... he was just unstoppable evil. Zombie has him grunting, talking... we see parts of his face. He's just too human. I get that you're going for that 'brutal' and 'realistic' feel and, if that's the case, you shouldn't be fucking with a horror icon, make up a whole new franchise. Those are my thoughts, disagree with me, if you will... actually, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

There really ought to be a new sub-genre title for films like "CockHammer", maybe micro-shock porn-horror? "Cockhammer" comes from writer/director Kevin Strange, who's the guy who brought you "Dead Shit", "Colonel Kill Motherfuckers" and "Stiff Jobs". There's a lot of people making films like these, but Strange is one of the best. Really, he's just doing one of those things that Hollywood won't do. There's lots of tits, ass, cock, obscenities, vomiting, poop, etc... and his films are extremely entertaining. Check out the trailer, it's not like they hold back or anything. There's definitely a market for films like these...

"The Riverman" came out in 2004 as an A&E Television movie and I actually remember watching it... and kinda liking it. It's about a series of interviews that are conducted with convicted serial killer Ted Bundy in hopes of gaining insight into the Green River Killer, who is terrorizing Seattle. It's like "Silence of the Lambs", but with real killers... played by actors. Cary Elwes actually does a bang-up job of portraying Ted Bundy.

Lastly, they're releasing DVD's of the original "House On Sorority Row" from 1983 and "Riot on 42nd Street" from 1987.

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Dahmer vs Gacy" - Midnight Screening Series: Jan. 15th & 16th at Laemmle Sunset 5 in Hollywood!

Being a member of the press does have it's privileges, including an invite from filmmaker Ford Austin to the pre-screening party for "Dahmer vs Gacy". This film looks to be a crazy ride and features an outstanding cast. Randal Malone looks so f'ing psychotic in that clown outfit and makeup, this may just be the role he was born to play - even if that means I may have nightmares after the screening. I encourage everyone to check it out and support independent cinema! And if you go on Friday, word through the grapevine is you may brush elbows with many members of the stellar cast. I'm certainly hoping to score some interviews, which should be pretty entertaining because there's more than a slight chance that booze will be involved. I hope to see you all there!

Midnight Screening Series: Jan. 15th & 16th at Laemmle Sunset 5 in Hollywood!

"Just shut up & go with it!

Running time: 86 minutes - this film is not yet rated.
Producer & Director: Ford Austin
Director of Photography: Orestes Gonzalez
Writers: Chris Watson & Andrew Rausch

Underground stars Ford Austin (Slaughter Party) and Randal Malone (Hollywood Mortuary) go head to head as Dahmer and Gacy in a slaughter filled rampage that includes appearances by Harland Williams (Half Baked), Art LaFleur (The Replacements), Steven Adler (Guns ‘N Roses), Ethan Phillips (Star Trek: Voyager), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Jerry Maren (Wizard of Oz), Bonnie Aarons (Drag Me to Hell), Irwin Keyes (House of a 1,000 Corpses), Jed Rowen (Acts of Violence), Lee Perkins (Live Evil), Brooke Lewis (iMurders) and many more!

Film Synopsis: A secret government lab has been trying to create the ultimate killer using the DNA of infamous killers Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy, but there's one
big problem: They've escaped! Bloody mayhem stretches across the United States as they go on the ultimate killing spree. Trying to stop the maniacal madness is Ringo, a hick warrior being trained by God, using only a shotgun and a bottle of whiskey. In his road trip to hell, he must first fight off his own demons, not to mention an army of Japanese ninjas! It all leads up to the ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN!

Purchase tickets at
The Sunset 5 theatre is located at:
8000 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, 90046

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Highest Grossing Horror Films of 2009 - A Retrospective

I did this last year, so I decided to do it again... Let's take a look at all the horror that came out theatrically last year, see how they ranked against everything else that came out and try to figure out if this tells us anything. If you want to look at last years list where we looked at all the films that came out in 2008, you can click here. If you're more interested in 2009, read on...

Before I get into it, yeah... some of these films would not be considered 'true horror' to some fans; films like "Twilight" or "Knowing", but I'm putting them in here because they're close enough and when it comes to theatrical releases, us horror fans should take what we can get. Cool? Having cleared the air there, I do think this was a good year for theatrical horror and, as I peruse this list, there's a few key interesting things that you can take away. Before we get to that, here's the list of all the horror movies that came out theatrically in 2009 and how they ranked, overall, domestically.

#5 - The Twilight Saga: New Moon
#27 - District 9
#29 - Paranormal Activity
#37 - Knowing
#40 - Zombieland
#48 - The Final Destination
#50 - Friday the 13th
#56 - The Haunting in Connecticut
#60 - My Bloody Valentine 3D
#64 - Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
#69 - The Unborn
#70 - Drag Me To Hell
#71 - Orphan
#80 - Halloween II
#82 - The Last House on the Left
#91 - The Stepfather
#93 - Saw VI
#97 - The Fourth Kind
#114 - Jenifer's Body
#121 - The Box
#132 - Sorority Row
#135 - Pandorum
#136 - Whiteout
#147 - The Collector

The first key thing to notice is the uptrend in the amount of titles. There's around 5 or 6 more horror films cracking the top 150 and that just simply means that they're making more horror films. I think there were only 18 or 19 titles last year, this year there's 24. That's a good thing. Truth is, horror is a money maker for Hollywood. Low budgets, built in audiences, good returns. Hopefully this trend continues...

The next thing that I noticed is the ratio of "sequels, remakes and adaptations" to original films. In 2008, almost 75% of the horror films would be classified as either a sequel, remake or adaptation. This year, it's closer to 50%. That's still a lot higher than I'd like to see, but it's a step in the right direction. It's definitely a good thing to see for us screenwriters who have original ideas. If you look at the top 25 films, overall, almost all of them are sequels, remakes or adaptations... the exceptions would be "The Hangover", "The Blind Side", a few star driven comedies and some animated films. So, if you're in to writing spec scripts, horror's a pretty good genre to be in...

The last thing of note is that a lot of the top spots in horror are taken by films that had relatively low budgets. Even after you take "Paranormal Activity" out, "Zombieland", "District 9", "Drag Me To Hell", "Friday the 13th" and various others had budgets that range from $20Million to $30Million. Considering their grosses, that's pretty cheap. Horror continues to be the land of low budgets and decent returns. All in all, a good place to be...

In conclusion, it's tough to look at just one year versus another, but I think it's safe to say that 2009 was a far better year for horror than 2008. Now, looking forward to 2010, hopefully we can keep the ball rolling. Taking a brief look at the release schedule, here's looking forward to: "Daybreakers", "Legion", "The Wolfman", "The Crazies", "Piranha 3D" (What?!?!), "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "Predators", "Priest", "Saw VII 3D" and whatever else happens to come our way.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Box Office Round Up and a look at what's coming out on DVD this week...

Welcome, friends, to 2010! I've gotta say, I'm starting it off a bit foggy... After a week and a half of part-time working, culminating with a ruckus day at the sports bar for the conclusion of the NFL season yesterday, it pains me to have to get back to my regular schedule. Not because I don't want to work, but because I'm in actual pain... and a barely remember how to type. It's going to take a bit of a purge and a lot of coffee to get back up to speed. In any case, the big news at the box office is that "Avatar" continues its dominance. It surpassed the $1Billion mark and is currently, after only 3 weeks, the fourth highest-grossing picture, ever, worldwide. In reality, not only will James Cameron have the first and second highest grossing films in history to his credit, "Avatar" may end up surpassing "Titanic" to hold the title. Amazing. This upcoming Friday also marks the return of horror to the big screen, as "Daybreakers" finally comes out. After that, it looks like we'll be getting a major horror film every couple weeks or so, for a while. As for what's being released on DVD, it's a decent week, as well... especially if you're into indie horror. As usual, you can go over to our Youtube page to check out all the trailers and you can click on the titles and be taken to the films Amazon page, where you can read more and/or buy it.

The one big-budget film of the week is the final installment in a franchise that almost all horror fans should know about... the "Final Destination" series. What you may not know is the story behind how the franchise was born. Screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick was disappointed about an "X Files" spec script that he had written, but that was largely ignored. His buddy, television director James Wong, was inspired to make a film using the script - the original "Final Destination". David R. Ellis directed the second, Wong came back for the third... which was supposed to be the final installment and in 3D, but they axed the 3D due to budget restraints. Then, all the original players decided to get together to make one more, fourth and final installment, in 3D, which now comes out on DVD - "The Final Destination".

Now, on to the indie stuff...

"Spree", which is the first film from writer/director Mark Jones, looks awesome and I'm going to have to try to get my hands on it. It screened at the Seattle True Indie Film Festival, as well as the Fright Night Film Festival and a few others... and got great reviews. It's about a group of slacker-types who decide to go on a coast-to-coast killing spree to relieve the stress of their everyday lives. However, it's a game and there's rules... murder one person in every state they enter and the prize? The winners walk, while the losing team confesses to the crimes. Love it.

Tommy Brunswick has come out with quite a few decent indie horror films lately, including "Little Red Devil", "Evil Offspring" and "Biker Zombies From Detroit". Now, "They Must Eat" hits the shelves... and I love the concept. Basically, this guy has a bunch of demons living in his basement and he needs to keep feeding them... and it's safe to say they don't feed on organic vegetables.

"Hellweek", from director Eddie Lengyel, looks pretty good and it's a great title for a horror flick. In fact, I've got a little story about the title... I have a buddy who wrote a spec script called "Hellweek" a while back and, at the time, we were shocked to find out that the title hadn't been used. Not only that, the idea of a horror taking place during rush week hadn't really been done, either. In any case, my friends script is still sitting around, unproduced, and is quite a bit different than this. A small title change and it's still a very viable project, anyone interested? In any case, this film is about a rush week that turns hellish when a band of sadistic, masked, homicidal maniacs wreak havoc on a bunch of not-so-innocent college kids.

"Ravage" is from Dwen Doggett and it's the first film that he's directed in over a decade. He also wrote and directed "Feeding Billy", produced "Bloodthirsty Cannibal Demons" and wrote "Zombie Bloodbath 2: Rage of the Undead"... all in the mid-to-late 90's. "Ravage" is about a Shaman spirit that returns to a mid-West town to make the town pay for the sins of it's forefathers.

If you were in to "Tales From the Crypt", they have a special box set of season one and two available, aptly called "Tales From the Crypt: Season 1 & 2"