Friday, July 30, 2010

Toronto After Dark Announces its Lineup - Watch Out For "The Human Centipede"

It goes without saying that the Toronto International Film Festival is one of the big fests of the year. It ranks up there with Cannes, Sundance and Trebecca. It's also big for horror... because, in conjunction with TIFF, we get Toronto After Dark. Toronto After Dark is now in its 5th year and they bring attention to new, innovative, independent and international horror, sci-fi, action and cult films and they JUST released their 2010 lineup. What I like about it is that festivals like this are a good gauge for what's going to be hot over the next year or so. Festivals like this not only break films, but they break new sub-genres and film styles. So, as a writer or emerging filmmaker, it's good to look at what's coming out and it may even give you some ideas. Here's a link to the announcement, but I'm going to look at and discuss a few of the films that are screening.

"The Last Lovecraft" is a monster comedy where a group of social misfits battle an assortment of sea monsters that are trying to take over the earth. Now, I'm bullish on monster and creature films... and if you're a regular reader, you probably know that. It's interesting to see that the formula for zombie films is being taken to monster films, which is a new twist. I mean, there are so many zombie comedies that it's spawned a whole new sub-genre called the zombedy. These days, if it's not a comedy about social misfits fighting zombies, it's against the grain. So, I think this is big for the monster and creature sub-genres. Maybe not this particular film, but the fact that films like this are getting made and getting out there. Watch for more creature features and monster films... I think they're going to be big over the next year or so.

"Doghouse" and "Evil in the Time of Heroes" are both part of Toronto After Dark's Zombie Appreciation Night. Truthfully, how much gas is left in the zombie tank? It's unbelievable. But, people still love them and they still sell... so, guess what that means? They're going to keep making them. I mean, "Zombieland" was a big hit last year and Romero seems to be back on track, making a new dead film every couple years. I wouldn't venture this path, personally, but... it's interesting to see the legs that the genre has. Zombies seem to always sell.

"Human Centipede" and "Rubber" are both, simply, bizarre. I haven't seen "Rubber", but I've heard about it. It's about a killer tire with feelings and it screened at Cannes. "Human Centipede", I have seen and, well... it's about a scientist that wants to create just that - a human centipede. He wants to sew humans together, ass to mouth. You've gotta see it, it doesn't disappoint. The interesting thing is that these bizarre films are getting their due. I mean, the ideas are way out there, but people talk about them, they get a ton of buzz and people watch because they're intrigued. If you wrote a script called "Human Centipede" and submitted it to screenwriting competitions or to agents or managers, you're damn right it's going to get read. Why? Because it's called "Human Centipede". Writing or making bizarre films is a great way to get noticed, just make sure you can deliver when they get past the title.

Anyhow, I suggest you go through their site and check out all the films that are screening. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Friends of Dead Harvey Need Your Help

So, there's two friends of Dead Harvey that need our help, one is pictured to the right, and I'm calling out to the nation for help.

First up, actress Pamela Jean Noble, yes.... the one in the picture. We spoke with Pamela Jean a couple years back, right after she played Resurrection Mary in the film of the same name. By the way, you can check that interview out by clicking here. Anyhow, she mentions in her interview that she splits time between acting and modeling and, right now, she's vying to be Miss July for Transworld Surf. Trust me when I say, it's worth clicking on this link, checking out her pics and voting. To vote, just leave a comment at the bottom of the page saying you want to vote for Pamela Jean Noble.

Next up, I received an email from indie director, Christopher DiNunzio, the guy behind "Livestock". We spoke with him about his film last year and he's now on the long and windy road to monetizing it... and he needs our help. If you have a Netflix account, log in and put "Livestock" in your queue, write a positive review and give it a high rating... that is, after you've watched it and agree, of course. This is going to help him get an annual license for Watch Instantly, which will help Chris in that whole monetization thing. Now, that's got me thinking... maybe I should follow up with Chris and see how it's going, one year later... anyhow, click here to see our original interview with him and click here to find "Livestock" on Netflix.

If there's any other friends of Dead Harvey out there that need help promoting or anything, make sure you send me an email. I'm super busy and I'm desperately trying to catch up, but I will get to it and I will do everything I can!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Suprise At The Box Office and Retro Week On DVD's This Week

I wasn't really surprised that "Inception" won the weekend at the box office again... The film is good, it's got great buzz and star power. It took in over $43Million over the weekend, bringing its domestic take to over $143Million. What DID surprise me was how well "Salt" did. Quite frankly, I believe that the days of stars carrying films are over and I think we're now in, what I would call, the concept era. Stars can still carry films, but the film better be well put together and/or have a great concept. "Inception" is a great concept from a great filmmaker AND it has star power. "Salt" has a massive star, but the concept is kinda tired. Female lead, a spy action-thriller... your traditional summer film. Does this still fly? I mean, really? Well, it opened strong, very strong. Over $36Million strong. Maybe there is still a bit of gas left in those stars' tanks. Who knows? Anyhow, this Friday is a bit lame... "Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore", "Charlie St. Cloud" and "Dinner for Schmucks". So, let's look at the new horror that's coming out on DVD this week. As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page to see 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.

It must be retro-week or something. I feel like almost every new release this week has some tie to my personal film-loving history. First up, the "legends of horror have returned". Now, that's not a quote from anybody. That's from the box art. I'd have a tough time referring to Pinhead, Six Shooter and Tunneler as legends, but they are back in Full Moon's "Puppet Master Axis Of Evil". This is the 9th film in the series and it's been a long while since the 8th. Charles Band, you wicked genius... damn, I love the Puppet Master series.

We've discussed "Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated" a few times, most notably when we interviewed the curator/producer of the film, Mike Schneider. You can find that interview by clicking here. It's released by friends of Dead Harvey, Wild Eye Releasing, and it's a great film. Any fan of the original should have this in their collection, for sure.

I didn't know that they still made films like "Death Kappa", but I'm damned glad they do. Did you ever check out the early Godzilla and Mothra type films out of Hong Kong when you were a kid? You know, where it was just dudes in costumes leveling a model city? I loved them... and apparently they're still making them because that's exactly what "Death Kappa" is. I've got two thoughts on this. One, as I said, I'm glad they're still making these. They're great fun. Two, I still think we're in need of more monster movies. We flirted with them around the time that "Cloverfield" and "The Host" came out, but that was it. I think monster movies could explode. Writers... it's a call out to you. We need to be writing monster movies.

"Pickman's Muse", which is based on H.P. Lovecraft's "Haunter of the Dark", was a horror festival darling. It won best adaptation at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Fest and best screenplay and best actor at the Chicago Horror Film Fest, plus it screened at tons of others.

The Wishmaster himself, Andrew Divoff, and Tom Savini star in "The Dead Matter", from director Edward Douglas and the producer of "From Dusk Till Dawn". With that title and those actors, I assumed that it would be a bit an entertaining, gore-comedy film, but the trailer looks quite serious. I haven't seen it, but I'll have to check it out.

Tim Thomerson, Mark Foree and Tiffany Shepis all show up in "Live Evil", a low-budget horror from co-writer and director, Jay Woelfel. There's two storylines taking place in the film, one follows a car full of vampire buddies road-tripping to Hollywood and the other follows a sword-wielding, vampire hunting priest (Thomerson) who's looking to care of some unfinished business. Expect a lot of blood, boobs and vampires. Sold!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview with Ken Daniels, Festival Director of Fright Night Film Fest

Every year, for the last two years anyhow, we've talked with Ken Daniels, the Festival Director of the Fright Night Film Fest as we lead up to the Fest. We spoke with him in 2008 (link here) and 2009 (link here) and if you'd like to know more about how the festivals work and what they can do for you, as a filmmaker, I'd suggest going back and reading through those. Then, after you've read them, you can read through this... our 2010 interview with Ken Daniels.

But first... my two bits. A lot of festivals out there go for the mainstream fare, some go for the convention feel and others go for the retro screenings. Fright Night does a bit of everything, but they're really about indie horror and they're about the filmmakers. Festivals like this are the ones that we need to support and keep flourishing. The industry is changing and festivals like this will be the bridge to take us all to the next level. So, attend it, submit your film, go to their site, do what you can!

Let’s just refresh our readers memories to start. Tell us about the Fright Night Film Fest.

Fright Night is the Largest Jury Genre Film Fest in Mid America. We also have one of the largest conventions in this region.

Are there any big changes or new things for this year?

Yes, we added the Inside the Filmmakers Studio. Increased our Bands, moved the Cocktail till after the Awards Ceremony. Added the after party after the Awards on Saturday.

Tell us about some of the highlights this year, what should our readers be on the lookout for?

Lookout for the Roger Corman Double Feature of Deathrace 2000 and Grand Theft Auto in glorious 35mm at the Drive-In on Friday July 30, 2010.

So, talk about the state of indie horror. Where is the whole genre at now and what’s next for it?

That's a tough question. Indie horror may be flourishing, but the quality of films is suffering. People think getting a new Hi Def camera and a crew together makes them a filmmaker. Maybe a filmmaker but not necessarily a good filmmaker. The genre is stuck right now. More unique ideas need to be brought to the screen. Zombies aren't the best subjects anymore for a horror film. Neither is the standard kids in camp, kids have sex, kids get killed be serial killer scenario. We need more unique films, with better stories. Filmmakers need to work longer on their films. Take a year and plan the whole thing from preproduction to postproduction out to the very end.

Over the last few years, the talk has been all about web-based and self distribution. Talk about how you see the process of indie horror filmmakers monetizing their films and what part do the festivals play?

We have a great panel from some very big distributers this year. They will be giving great info in the panel. In my opinion the money isn't quite there yet for most of the web based distribution ideas. There are way too many films on the market for people to make a ton of money. Film Festivals fill that gap by providing the perfect opportunity for the Distributors to meet the filmmakers and buy the films. Winning at a film festival is a very big deal. Having Laurel Leaves planted on your DVD cover is paramount to acceptance by some legitimate.

The industry has changed over the last few years, what do filmmakers need to do to keep up, as in… as far as production value is concerned, what’s the bare minimum a filmmaker needs to get in to festivals, get distribution, etc.?

Make a good film. Use proper lighting. Get better camera's. Hire better actors. WRITE A BETTER STORY. Understand how to use sound better.

So, let’s talk about the sub-genres… what’s playing best these days? Zombie movies were big for a while, Vampires have been getting a lot of play lately. What kinds of trends are you noticing?

Vampire Films are big. A new one that looks promising is "MIDNIGHT SUN" starring John Wells. It's a vampire comedy that will have a teaser trailer at Fright Night Film Fest this year.

So, when and where is this year’s festival and how can people find out more about it?

July 30-August 1st, 2010. The festival is at our favorite spot - The Inn Place on Bluegrass Parkway in Louisville, KY. Go to and hit the hotel button at the top.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Box Office, plus a few good films come out on DVD

So, I didn't get out to see it, but "Inception" was easily the story and the film of the weekend. Without question, it was the most anticipated non-sequel film of the summer and it didn't disappoint at the box office, pulling in over $60Million. Christopher Nolan, since doing so much with the "Batman" franchise, has been heralded as a film genious and this, according to early reviews, was to be his best film to date. Word on the street is that it's a BIT of a let down, considering all the hype... also, bring your thinking cap. There's a lot of twists and turns, some of which don't make sense. Don't jump on me, though. Like I said, I haven't seen it. That's just what I hear. The other big release of the weekend was "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and it wasn't a flop, but... it definitely underperformed. It opened on Wednesday or Thursday of last week and has pulled in just under $25Million and came in third. Full disclosure, I love Nic Cage. Guilty pleasure. And I hear that he plays his role in this surprisingly understated, which must have been tough for him as he loves to go over the top. I also heard that the film is quite good, with subtle nods to the original "Sorceror's Apprentice" and a great story. Other than those two, "Despicable Me" came in second and "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" came in fourth. This Friday is "Salt" and "Ramona and Beezus"... I have nothing to add there, neither are blowing my skirt up. So, let's look at the horror that's coming out on DVD this week. As usual, you can check out all the trailers on our Youtube Page and you can click on the films titles to be taken to their Amazon page, where you can read more and/or buy the film.

I usually don't comment on rereleases and special packs, but it's a slow week and this one's worth it, as I'm betting that a lot of you don't know who Bong Joon-ho is... Well, lucky for you, you can catch up. "The Bong Joon-ho Collection" comes out this week with three of his four films, namely: "The Host", "Mother" and "Barking Dogs Never Bite". If you haven't seen "The Host", I'd start there... plain and simple, it kicks ass. "Mother" is his latest and I haven't seen it, but it premiered at Cannes last year and was really well received and "Barking Dogs Never Bite" is the film that put him on the map...

"2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams" is the sequel to 2005's "2001 Maniacs" and if you like your splatter with a smattering of comedy and naked chicks, it's your film of the week. The original "2001 Maniacs" had college kids taking a detour on their way to Spring Break and ending up in Pleasant Valley, where the locals annual barbecue celebration, the Guts and Glory Festival, gets a little out of hand... the sequel has the people of Pleasant Valley taking their festival on the road. Check out the trailer, it'll speak for itself.

Since there's no other real new films coming out this week, I'll talk about the unrated Blu-ray release of "Evil Aliens". It's from Jake West and it's a British slapstick horror-comedy that's filled with enough blood and guts to make early Peter Jackson blush. Seriously, West is obviously influenced by films like "Bad Taste" and "Dead Alive" and it shows. If you're into the splatter, check it out. This film is a personal favorite.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Changing Industry - Something for Indie Filmmakers to Consider

I was just reading a white paper on something unrelated to indie horror, but it had some pretty startling stats on video content. Now, we all know we're living in a pivotal time in media consumption, but what we don't really know is where it's pivoting to. This white paper got me thinking and maybe some of these stats can light the way and show us something... I'll extract some of the highlights for you.

Overall viewership of traditional television networks, meaning ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, etc... is down, although there's a 1% overall increase in television viewing. So, that means that people are watching far more cable and specialty programming. Also, time shifted television content via DVR's increased 26% and the consumption of video content via the internet increased by 24%. Now, here's the shocking stat, the consumption of video content via mobile technologies is increasing at a TRIPLE digit rate. According to Youtube, mobile viewership increased 160% from 2008 to 2009. Consider all this and know that, although theatrical revenues are up, theatrical attendance has been flat or declined every year for the last decade...

So, what's all this mean? Well, a lot... and there's a lot of reasons why this is happening. The main reason is, ten or twenty years ago, you, as a viewer, didn't have much choice. You had a handful of TV channels to choose from and they usually just aired your usual TV programming. If you wanted a movie, you went to the theater or you went to Blockbuster to rent one. Video on the internet? What's that? Fast forward to today... you have choice, a lot of it. You can choose what you watch, when you watch it and where you watch it. This creates a fragmented marketplace. There's hundreds of channels to choose from and they air everything from movies on demand to specialty networks to regular programming. Movies are available everywhere and in so many different formats via so many different ways, it's insane - on your phone, on your computer, on your tablet... and then there's there internet, it changed everything. Content doesn't fit a certain mould anymore, it's anything and it's delivered anywhere. The viewer gets to choose now. Not the networks. Not the studios. Not the theater chains. The viewer has the power and when the viewer has the power, things change. So, what's this mean for content creators?

When I say 'content creator', I mean you. We're no longer filmmakers. We're content makers... and our content will be distributed on everything from big screens to handheld mobile devices. Our content won't be defined by time. No more 90 minute features, 22 minute episodic TV. It can be anything and it can be any length. Personally, I think that, for the first time in the history of entertainment, talent will define success. If you make content that people will watch, they'll watch. It's easy to get it out there. Attract enough of an audience and you'll get sponsors, you'll get advertisers, you'll get people to pay and the networks, studios and executives will take notice. It's a revolutionary time and I think we're in the midst of massive change... but that's just me.

So, what do you think? I'm I wrong? Is this just a blip or an anomaly? How's all this going to effect you? ...or is it? How's this going to effect the whole industry? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Interview with Ted Wilson, Festival Director of The Telluride Horror Show

As it stands, when you're done your film, you have but only a few options. Three, really... well, maybe four. You can try to get a distributor out of the gate, you can self-distribute or you can submit to the festivals. Online was going to be my fourth, but it's more of a tool to be used in conjunction with the other three options, but as VOD and online fests become more of a reality, that may change. Anyhow... If you don't have an existing relationship with a distributor, that route can be more than just a little tough. Lots of emails, lots of calls, lots of packages being sent out. I'm tired just thinking about it. Self-distribution is also a long and hard process and can be far more depressing... especially when you calculate everything out and end up working for 3 months on it, full time, for what works out to be around a dollar an hour. I don't mean to deter you from either option and it may work out way better for you, but I'm always surprised when people avoid the festivals. Now, I'm not saying that the festival circuit is easy, but at least there's a process. You finish your film and you submit it in the proper format and there's sites that make the process easy. Then, after trying the festivals, you can go right to the two other options... and, sometimes, doing a festival run makes those options a lot easier.

Now, I'm not exactly helping the festivals cause. Our festivals section is disgustingly out of date... but that's why I'm going through it. As I am, I'm drumming up some things that need updating, as well as discovering some new festivals... like The Telluride Horror Show, which is heading in to its inaugural year this year. So, you want to know more about the fests and how they work? Let's see what Ted Wilson, Festival Director of the Telluride Horror Show has to say.

Tell us a bit about The Telluride Horror Show, when, where and why did it get started?

The inaugural Telluride Horror Show takes place October 15-17, 2010. Telluride, tucked away in the mountains of southwest Colorado, is home to numerous music and film festivals, most notably the Telluride Film Festival. We decided a horror film festival would fit in perfectly. Not only do you get to watch the latest independent horror films for three days, you get to do it in one of the most beautiful places in the country.

Tell us a bit about yourself, what got you into indie horror?

I’m in my mid-thirties, so I grew up watching all the classic 80s and 90s horror flicks (you know what they are). I turned to indie horror films because I grew tired of the usual studio junk and constant remakes. The new voices of horror are out there, doing it on their own, and I love to support that, especially since they’re creating great films.

From the perspective of the film, why should indie horror filmmakers try to get their films into festivals?

Audiences, audiences, audiences. What’s worse than making a movie and no one sees it? There’s a lot of great horror and genre film festivals out there and the fans who show up to these fests do so much to spread the word about your film (especially if you’ve made a good one!). I still believe word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool for your film, and you’ll get that being a part of a horror film fest.

From the perspective of the filmmaker, what can I expect to get out of having my film screen at the Telluride Horror Show?

Telluride is a tourist destination, so our audiences will include people from all over the country. As we grow as a festival, we’ll be much more than a “local” event. So more people, from more places, going home and spreading that word of mouth.

As a horror fan, what can we expect to get out of attending the festival?

The best selection of the latest independent horror films we can get our hands on. For our first year, we’re planning on having at least 16 features and just as many shorts. We’ll most likely sneak in a retrospective program, though any old films we show will be horror films not seen by a wide audience but that have merit to them. Many of the filmmakers will be in attendance to do Q&As after their films screen. We’re not just about the films. We’re about the people who make them. Also, Telluride has a name for itself in the film world so we might have some very special guests this year. Stay tuned on that… I should say, too, that we’re not going to take the horror convention approach with the Telluride Horror Show. We won’t have tables for actors to sit at and sign autographs for money, if you know what I mean. I’m not knocking horror conventions. They’re a great time and it’s awesome to be able to meet some of the legends of horror. It’s just not for Telluride. We’re all about what’s happening in the indie horror world NOW. That’s our main focus.

So, when you’re accepting films, what are you looking for?

Everything from horror comedies to thrillers to over-the-top grind house gore flicks. We also love to see dark fantasy and sci-fi submissions, to broaden the festival program.

Does budget come in to play when you’re considering films?

Not at all.

As a filmmaker, what can I do to make my film more festival friendly or should I even be thinking about that?

Not while you’re making it. But if you do get accepted into a film fest, do be prepared to give the festival the format they need to screen your film at the event. There’s so many digital platforms these days for projecting a film and it gets a bit out of control (and extremely expensive to offer all those platforms). Ironic, but 35MM is still probably the best and easiest way to show a movie for a film festival, but that’s a whole other conversation…

What advice would you give to an up and coming filmmaker in the indie horror genre?

Submit your film to the Telluride Horror Show!

Where do you think indie horror is now and where do you see it going?

That’s a good question. I think we’ll have to ask the filmmakers that when they’re doing their Q&As at the festival…

What’s next for you and The Telluride Horror Show?

If everything goes well our first year, then the 2nd Annual Telluride Horror Show in 2011.

Where can people find out more about the festival and how can they go about entering their film?

Since it’s our first year, we’re going to being trickling out our official film selections towards the end of July, so you’ll want to keep checking the website for updates (and you can also sign up for our email list on the site). Passes for the festival will go on sale in August and we plan on offering an early bird price on 3-Day passes, as well as discounted lodging. We’re accepting film submissions into early September so plenty of time left to submit. Visit the website and you’ll find all the info you need to submit. And thanks for considering the Telluride Horror Show. Though it’s our first year, we’re in the process of putting together a great program, and I hope a lot of your readers will join us. Could be history in the making….

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Box Office Surprise and a Weak Week on DVD

So, what's the good news out of the box office this weekend? Well, it's that horror is alive and doing... pretty darn good. Look, "Despicable Me", the 3D animated feature from Universal Pictures and the new animation company, Illumination Entertainment, was the big story... It pulled in over $60Million, which crushed its competition and far exceeded what people thought it was going to do and that's great news for Universal. However, let's not take anything away from "Predators", which pulled in over $25Million... not too shabby for an action/horror flick that didn't have a big action star in it. The premise for this incarnation is great, too. I really like how they turned it on its head... sending the most dangerous killers on earth to the Predator's home planet to be hunted like game. Well, now that I write it out, it's really the SAME premise, but the location is different... it takes place on the Predator's turf... which is a good enough twist for me. Now we can look forward to this Friday's big release, which is "Inception", from Christopher Nolan. Early reviews and word says it's going to be a classic... just don't be too drunk and/or hung over. Apparently the plot gets tricky and you're going to have to use your head every now and then. An original idea from the guy who brought you "Momento", "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight". I can't wait. Until then, it's a fairly weak week in new horror releases on DVD, but let's take a look. As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page to check out the trailers and you can click on the titles to be taken to their page on Amazon, where you can read more and/or buy it.

"Outback" is an Australian film from director Oscar D'Roccster. It came out in Australia about a year ago under the title "Prey". However, I guess they decided to add an Australian flare for it's North American release and retitle it "Outback". It's about three couples that stumble across an ancient curse in the Outback and their dream holiday turns into a nightmare that may kill them all.

"Scream Girls" and "Killer Car" are both Japanese films being released by Cinema Epoch. "Scream Girls" is about a haunted school and "Killer Car" is about, well... a killer car. I can't find trailers or much information on either, but as they're Japanese horror films, you should expect lots of over-the-top, grotesque violence.

There's a great indie horror compilation coming out called "Feeding The Masses Horror Collection", which includes four awesome, shot on DV indies: "Feeding the Masses", "Creature From the Hillbilly Lagoon", "Nercroville" and "Splatter Disco". They're all great and all worth watching... and now you can have them all for the low, low price of $22.49!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Drinks, A New Horror Site and A Film Festival

Well, it's Friday and I ain't got shit to do. Well, actually... that's not true. I've got a lot of shit to do and I want to get it done quickly, so I can hit a patio for some afternoon, summer drinks. I just said that because I like quoting movies. Anyhow, to take you into the weekend, I'll unload a couple of interesting emails that I received this week...

The first one is a little strange... and you'll see what I mean. I received and email from "Scary or Die Inc" and they're "proud to announce the launch of their new website dedicated to helping fellow filmmakers in the horror community." They offered up a link to their new site, which is Once there, they tell you that they apologize for not telling you the actual name of the site, but you can register and you'll be informed when it does goes live. Now, call me stupid, but... by any chance is it going to be called "" I mean, that's where the email came from... and you incorporated the name. So, it seems a little silly to keep it a big secret at all, let alone send an email from "Scary or Die Inc" that directs you to a site called "", then tells you the name is a secret. Anyone else think that's strange? Anyhow, the site sounds like it's exactly like, which is going to be great for up and coming indie horror filmmakers. According to the email, you'll get "up to the minute horror news, events and contests (and it's) a place where independent filmmakers can upload their horror shorts, have them rated by viewers and get international exposure from fans around the world." In any case, it sounds like a great deal. Make sure you head over to and register!

I also got on email from one George L. Ortiz, the owner of a film festival in San Antonio, TX called "The Horrific Film Fest". It runs from August 25 - 29 and they do it every year. Well, that was news to me, as I hadn't heard of it. So, I'll be adding it to our list. According to him, the "film fest is pro-filmmakers. As a filmmaker (himself, he) wanted to create something different and help (his) fellow filmmakers from around the world." They work with Celebrity Video Distribution as their agent and they look to create deals for the filmmakers that enter the festival. By the way, here's the cool thing... they show every film that gets submitted, as long as it's not X-rated. Go check out their website at

That's all I've got for this week. Enjoy the weekend, see you next week!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Interview with Geno McGahee, writer/director of "Family Secret"

One of my favorite things about having done this site for more than just a couple years is being able to watch indie filmmakers progress. There are lots of filmmakers that we've talked with multiple times and it's always interesting to check back in with them after each project. Not only is it interesting to see how their ideas, production quality and films evolve, it's also interesting to hear the lessons that they've learned along the way... and, hey, that's what this site's all about.

We first spoke with Geno McGahee after his first film, "Evil Awakening". You can find that interview by clicking here. We next spoke with him after his film "Rise of the Scarecrows" and you can find that interview here. Now, Geno's finishing up his most ambitious project to date, "Family Secret". He's put together both a trailer (which I haven't seen, but I don't think is fully done at this point) and a music video (which I'll embed right before the interview) and, from what we can tell, it looks like Geno has definitely moved on to a whole new level of filmmaking. Please enjoy the video and definitely give the interview a read, he offers up plenty of insight and lessons learned.

Last we talked, you had just finished up “Rise of the Scarecrows”. What have you been up to since then?

Well, I have been up to a lot. I completed filming RISE OF THE SCARECROWS in 2004ish and sort of gave up filmmaking after that, but then I was able to strike the distribution deal with Tempe Entertainment and my world of filmmaking was reborn. I filmed a movie called “SCARY TALES” in 2008 and I had made an effort to improve, mostly technique. With the distribution deal and success in sales of RISE and EVIL AWAKENING, I wanted to present something to investors so they can see that I’m more than a “backyard cinema” filmmaker, and it worked.

My new project is a film called FAMILY SECRET. I had a budget to hire a cinematographer, editor, brought in established actors, and acquired great locations. I wrote it not concerning myself with whether or not the actors can remember the lines. I really shortchanged myself and the audience by cutting dialogue in my first two movies because the actors could not remember the lines. FAMILY SECRET is the best thing I have ever done and I want people to know that this is what I’m about film-wise…I’m not just a backyard cinema film guy. I’m a real filmmaker, and I will prove that with FAMILY SECRET.

First off, tell us a bit about both “Family Secret” and this music video.

FAMILY SECRET concerns a journalist that reunites with his family after the death of his grandmother. As he eases back into his life without his family, he gets drawn right back when what appears to be the dead grandmother is going around killing family members.

What I did with the movie was to bring back the shock value. There is surprise after surprise and I challenge anyone to guess what will happen next. I really think that this is the next big thing in horror. I know that those that know my work will doubt when I say that this is going to be big, but today is a new day for me and I am working with totally new people and writing without restraint.

Sonora is a great band out of Brazil. I found them on line doing cover songs of some great metal songs…which I am still stuck on...and Chris Miyai, the lead singer, had such an amazing voice that I had to contact them about doing the title tune for the movie. They thankfully agreed and here’s the power of the Internet. It creates the opportunity for a great rock band from Brazil to work with a film group out of Massachusetts.

Horror films and heavy metal videos go hand in hand and I wanted to create one with Sonora, and with the help of the band and my editor, Forris Day, JR., we have a great rock video that I hope the people will like.

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

I entertained several investors before agreeing with Webhead Entertainment, LLC. They came in and invested into the project and that, along with my sales from my first two movies and every other penny I could get together equaled a budget of $14,000, give or take.

Your production value goes up with each film and now, I’ve noticed, you’re filming in HD, as well. Talk about your progression over the last few years.

There were some negative things that happened during RISE OF THE SCARECROWS and I was incredibly frustrated with the lack of dedication from most of the cast and crew. I wrapped in 2004 and was done filmmaking, and with all the negativity even afterwards with people saying that distribution was impossible and to give up on filmmaking, I was ready to take the advice but it drew me back and when I landed a deal with Tempe, I knew it was a new day for me. I took over the entire production and eliminated 99% of the old crew, replacing it with willing and able people. I filmed SCARY TALES and it was such a vast improvement that I knew that I could make something special if I had good equipment and the right people involved. Basically, no more bullshit.

With FAMILY SECRET, I made the decision to bring in a cinematographer, a special effects team…basically improving on all of the criticisms from the audience that watched my first two movies. They would attack the technique and acting and you know what? They were 100% right. It bothered me at first when they would say “hang’em up,” and I would say: “Do they know what I went through with zero budget to even get these produced?!!! Do they know the shitheads I dealt with?” All of that doesn’t matter, because my name is on it and I they were correct about most of the negative things that they have said and it has helped me immensely. I have turned a negative into a positive and they can attack certain things, but technique and acting will not be on the list.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and employed “real” actors and brought in all new people, and the results speak for themselves. My editor, Forris Day, JR., and my Director of Photography, John Golden, have helped me SO much with the production. I have learned so much and they have really helped bring my vision to life. I feel that FAMILY SECRET is my first film. It is the first film where there were no restrictions writing wise and that has made a giant difference in the production. What I wrote was what was said…no changing along the way, no ad-libbing, and no cutting down lines to make it easier for the actor.

I also needed to film in HD. If you don’t have HD, you don’t have anything at this point. My earlier films are forgiven because they are backyard cinema, but if I were presenting a movie in hopes of creating the next horror icon, it had to be HD…because nobody wants standard definition at this point, especially on the higher levels.

So, why a music video? Is this in place of a trailer or is this just to some sort of cross promotion to get the word out?

I actually have a trailer. You can see it on youtube, but we are working on another as we speak. The video was to work a duel promotion for FS and Sonora. It’s such a great song that it should generate interest in the movie and the movie is creating a buzz, so it generates interest in the band. It’s a win/win and I’m old school. I loved Dokken’s Dream Warriors video and song and I think that there are many out there that are sick of the remakes and “re-imaginings” and Asian transfers. They want something fresh and American…the American slasher is sadly missed. HATCHET came out and promised to bring it back and it stunk, but FAMILY SECRET will bring back the feeling that horror fans have missed. People will talk about it and it’s a throwback to the 1970s brand of disturbing and surprising horror.

Talk about some of the lessons you’ve learned over the last few years and how you’re applying them to this project.

My prior productions from EVIL AWAKENING to RISE OF THE SCARECROWS taught me a lot. I have learned mostly to believe in myself and to stop dealing with nonsense. I used to drive around and pick up cast members only to have them come out to the car and tell me that they couldn’t do it that day…frustrating. It made me deal with the new people in a more professional way. If you can’t make it to the set, then you can’t be in the movie.

Through the production of FAMILY SECRET, I have learned SO much about filmmaking…the technique and lighting and learning what to film to make sure that the editor can make it into a cohesive movie. The largest lesson that I have learned is to trust my instincts and don’t listen to those that tell you that you cannot do something. The minute I washed my hands of the doubters, the world opened up to me. I also am assertive now and there is a zero bullshit policy now. It’s a business and it’s bad business to have bad actors or dead weight on the set and unfortunately, some buddies have not made the cut, but I had to do what I had to do to make the best production possible.

I have also gotten more organized and FAMILY SECRET has been my life since December of 2008. It’s still dominating my thoughts and actions and I won’t rest until it does what I want it to do.

What’s your goal for “Family Secret”? Are you going to hit up the festival circuit?

The goal for the movie is a theatrical run and to be the next low budget horror film to take the world’s imagination. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY did it on a budget of 11,000 bucks and it was a very simple production. FAMILY SECRET is a better movie with better production value and I think that it has a legitimate chance to make it on the big screen. All of the greatest horror movies started out with a low budget and an indie status, more or less. You look at A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, FRIDAY THE 13TH, and HALLOWEEN….all three are low budget flicks that made gobs and gobs of money and there is a reason why. It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a great film. It takes a good story, presented well. I know that there are those out there that saw my first two films and scratching their heads, but FAMILY SECRET is in a different universe than my first two.

I have entered it into three festivals thus far and have my eyes on a few others. I hope to win, of course, and I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground. I had a test audience for FS and they jumped and were shocked at the right times. It was really promising. I think that will be across the board.

How are you going to approach distribution this time around?

I can’t go deeply into this matter, but I have one distributor that has it right now and it looks promising…if it comes through, then we will be going worldwide and possibly, make my dream of the big screen come true. I have spoken to two other distributors and they both expressed interest, but I’m hoping that the big distributor will run with it and give me a deal that I can accept. Through my horror site,, I have met some great people and thankfully, they have pointed me in the right direction and have made distribution easier and have given me a very big opportunity that I’m hoping pans out.

Where can people find out more about “Family Secret” and/or get their hands on a copy?

At this point, they can go to and click on the FAMILY SECRET cover art on the top left and it will bring them to the page where all the news is. They can also befriend me on Facebook. I have weekly updates there and sometimes I say something that some people may deem humorous….maybe not, but you can at least get FAMILY SECRET updates there. I also recommend visiting, another great place for information about FAMILY SECRET. I’m hoping that a deal will be struck soon so people can see it and see what the new X Posse Productions is all about.

What’s next?

I am reshooting SCARY TALES at the present moment, high definition and with established actors. I will be wrapping in October, 2010. I was also hired for an Internet TV show called “JAKI’S BUZZ,” an entertainment show, and am planning on shooting FAMILY SECRET II next spring. If not, I have another movie called “SICKLE” that has a lot of potential. The point is to keep producing and improving. If you’re not growing, you’re dying, and the plan is to continue to grow and win fans and hopefully make my mark on a very large scale.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Twilight At The Box Office, A Decent Week In New Horror On DVD

As expected, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" kicked some serious ass over the weekend. It actually didn't beat the last one, but it did pretty f'ing good - five days, $161Million. That gives it the 7th highest grossing five day start ever - but all of that is not terribly surprising. What WAS surprising was that "The Last Airbender" pulled in over $40Million dollars over the weekend, the third highest grossing opening for Shyamlan, behind the stinker "Signs" and the God-awful "The Village". What I didn't know is that "The Last Airbender" is an adaptation of an animated series called "Avatar: The Last Airbender", which had a fairly big, built in audience. As for the holdovers, "Toy Story 3", "Grown Ups" and "Knight & Day" all took fairly big dives, but all to be expected. Now, we're on the countdown to "Predators", from Robert Rodriguez, which opens this Friday... and I'm looking forward to it. Anyhow, on to the home entertainment market, where we'll look at the new and notable horror that's coming out on DVD this week. As usual, you can head over to our Youtube Page to see the trailers and you can click on the titles to go to the film's Amazon page, where you can read more about it and/or buy it.

I'm assuming that the bulk of the movie going public thinks that Jason Mewes just sobers up enough to be in a Kevin Smith film ever now and then. However, fans of low-budget horror know that he's a fairly busy dude. "Bitten", being released on DVD this week, actually came out back in 2008, right before Kevin Smith's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" and, since then, Mewes has been involved in at least 10 projects. Mewes isn't exactly a diverse actor, but he is awesome. So, if you're looking for Jay versus vampires, this is for you.

"The Burnt House" comes from writer/director Adam Ahlbrandt and it's about a couple that lose their son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It causes a rift between them, she has an affair and then the couple moves to a rural neighborhood, looking for a fresh start. Once there, strange things happen and long kept secrets try and dig their way out...

"The Familiar" comes from writer/director Miles Hanon and it's a story of spiritual manipulation. Sam, a lonely gunsmith, hooks up with his estranged sister-in-law and gets involved with a wicked spirit named Rallo. Production value looks great, but when you're dealing with demonic possession and spiritual manipulations, you better have some damn good actors... tough to pull off effectively. Will be interesting to see.

Directed by a team of filmmakers, namely Larry Sands, Bradley Young and Erick Yega, "Recycled Parts" is about a group of college kids that get trapped in a macabre underworld where body parts are extracted from victims for sale to the highest bidder. Trailer looks great and I love the premise. The black market for organs and body parts is pretty damn scary, only because you know it exists...

Why do I love Asian horror films? Because they just take everything to a whole other level. "God of Vampires" is about a professional killer, Frank Ng, who's contracted to murder a Chinese crime lord... who happens to be a Chinese vampire. Undead kung-fu and lots of blood and guts follow. Awesome...