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INTERVIEW – HoTS EXCLUSIVE: Phil Stevens

INTERVIEW – HoTS EXCLUSIVE: Phil Stevens

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) posterI recently had the pleasure of seeing Flowers by Phil Stevens. It was such an amazing and beautiful film that I decided to reach out to the director and tell him how much I enjoyed it. To my surprise, Phil Stevens turned out to be one of the nicest, coolest, down to earth guys. I was delighted to learn of his plans to make a sequel to Flowers, simply called Flowers 02. He also graciously agreed to do this interview and give us an exclusive look at his new project.

Phil Stevens Interview

House of Tortured Souls: First off, let me just say that I’m a huge fan of Flowers and really excited to talk to you about your latest project. What type of film can we expect? Do you think it will be more extreme or more artistic than the last?
Phil Stevens: Extreme is too broad a category, I mean of course yes it will be extreme but it’s more of a survival horror where everyone is being attacked by something. I actually didn’t think I was making an extreme film when I made Flowers. I thought the complete opposite. When Flowers came out, I thought people were going to be like, “Here’s this guy with his artsy movie called Flowers“. It turned out to be this surreal horror that people seemed to really enjoy. The last word I ever expected to read describing my film was “beautiful”, but it seems to come up in every single review about the movie.
PS: In Flowers, the house itself was the enemy almost. But in Flowers 02, not only is it the house, but there are entities in all the rooms –sometimes more than one. It’s all leading to this grand finale involving the killer and all his misdeeds. We’ll get a backstory and more of a look at his life. There will be new rooms with new themes and sort of a past, present, and future look at the killer. My favorite movie of all time is Day of the Dead, and I always wanted to make a zombie film, but I wanted to do it in my own way. Finally, in this we get to do that, and it’s so fun.

HoTS: That all sounds awesome! Why did you choose Indie and underground filmmaking rather than mainstream?
PS: I spent most of my life drawing and painting. I started drawing my own comics, and then I discovered the Beta-max camera and started making films for myself. Drawing is my first love, I don’t want a career in filmmaking; I see it as a hobby, a really expensive hobby. I’m a fan of Indie films myself and knew that it was only natural that I would go that route. I think that everyone who makes movies would like to think that one day they’ll go to Hollywood and make a big epic movie with a budget. That’s the real dream having a budget.

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) title card

HoTS: I understand that for an Indie director, getting funding is always an issue. You’ve started a crowdfunding campaign, correct? Maybe you could tell our readers a bit about that and how they can contribute.
PS: Crowdfunding is a big deal because you’re giving us the means to make a movie that we otherwise would not be able to make. It’s been tougher to get funding in the last few years because either fans don’t know about it or they’ve been screwed over in the past by other directors.
PS: My job is making and selling art. I’m actually on disability from an accident that happened when I was 10. I fell out of a tree, and now I have soft neurological brain damage so I can’t have a regular 9-5 job. I spend a lot of time drawing and painting and doing commissions. I grew up with severe agoraphobia, crowds give me severe anxiety, which is another reason making movies is so important to me because it gives me a chance to work in a group environment while doing something I love.
PS: Here is the link to the Flowers 02 crowdfunding campaign. Even a 5$ contribution will get you some really cool exclusive swag!
HoTS: So how does one get a piece of your artwork?
PS: My Facebook page Manomatul Art or my website Insomnia Collectibles, and I’m also on deviant art.
HoTS: All of the actors/actresses in Flowers were amazing. Will we see any familiar faces in the sequel?
PS: Yes! You actually will see some returning Flowers in a subplot of Flowers 02. Absolutely. You’re going to see some of them, but I can’t reveal who yet.
HoTS: It’s my understanding you used your home in the first film… what was that like?
PS: Using my own home to make Flowers was a blessing and an absolute nightmare. We scouted a lot of warehouses, and they were all in really bad neighborhoods. We just didn’t feel safe having our equipment there. We decided the next best thing and the safest thing was our house. I hated it, there was so much debris and equipment everywhere. My wife (Colette Kenny Mckenna) and I lived an entire summer in that. I actually spent my 30th birthday inside the dining room set, it was surreal. Some of my friends I hadn’t seen in a while would come over and a say, “This is absolutely insane. What are you doing?” My wife and I both ended up with really bad respiratory infections from the room with all the gouged out drywall. We were constantly breathing it in for three months, and we got really sick.

Phil Stevens' Flowers (2015) writing on the wall

HoTS: Do you do your own practical fx?
PS: Yes, I used to more but with Flowers, it was an all hands on deck kind of thing and my wife and I did months of fx testing. We found some great local talent. My wife, Krystle Fitch, and Anastasia Blue did the fx and also acted in the movie.
HoTS: Do you have a dream location if money were no object?
PS: Actually yeah, I don’t know where that location is but I know what it looks like. The whole reason I wanted to make Flowers 02 was it’s supposed to fund my next film, Paradise, which is the serial killer’s hell kind of. I want it to involve a lot of ocean and beach sequences, stuff you don’t tend to see in an underground film. I’ve been working on it for three years, and it’s probably going to be my swan song film. The first film is purgatory, the next is hell, and the last one is paradise. That will be the last movie I do, and Flowers 02 is the way to get there.
HoTS: Do you have any directors who inspire you?
PS: I’m inspired by Shin’ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo: The Iron Man). I’m a huge, huge fan of Asian cinema in general, so Takashi Miike (Audition) obviously and Kim Ki-duk (The Isle). What inspires me about Kim Ki-duk is that he doesn’t use many words, and his main characters don’t talk but everyone around them always does. I love all things artistic, I loved Andrey Iskanovs’ Nails so much. I also like Akira Kurosawa, his movies are beautiful; the cinematography is incredible and his movies top movies that are made to this day. A lot of my inspiration comes from Asian cinema.
HoTS: I just want to take this opportunity again to thank you and say what a fun time I’ve had talking with you today. I wish you the best of luck with Flowers 02 and can’t wait to see it.
PS: Thank you. I had fun today, too!

Flowers 02 Crowdfunding on the Web

Check out the fundraiser video on contributing to Flowers 02. Then click the link below to donate!

Phil Stevens on the Web




Posted by Candace Stone in EXCLUSIVE, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
INTERVIEWS: Felissa Rose & Harrison Smith at Mad Monster Party

INTERVIEWS: Felissa Rose & Harrison Smith at Mad Monster Party

Crypt Keeper Clint here with the first of my two articles on Mad Monster Party (Carolinas), which as held February 16 – 18, 2018. I will keep this introduction brief, but I had the great fortune to interview two amazing individuals – Felissa Rose and Harrison Smith. Check out their interviews below and be sure to subscribe to House of Tortured Souls on YouTube.

Also, watch for my review of Mad Monster Party coming up in the next couple of days.

Crypt Keeper Clint Interviews Felissa Rose at Mad Monster Party (Carolinas)

We talk Sleepaway Camp (1983), No Solicitors (2015), Victor Crowley (2017), Family Possessions (2016), and much more.

Crypt Keeper Clint Interviews Writer/Director Harrison Smith at Mad Monster Party (Carolinas)

We talk life, the universe, Death House, and Gunnar Hansen.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Death House (2018) New Release Date

Death House (2018) New Release Date

Hey, horror fans just got a heads up from Rick Finkelstein, CEO of Entertainment Factory LLC and producer of the highly anticipated Death House, that the release has been pushed back just a bit to further strengthen its debut. Hannover House Distributors has now rescheduled the release for March 2nd, 2018. They also plan to expand the reach of Death House to approximately 20 additional markets on March 9th and March 16th. Home video and digital releases are anticipated for July.

On March 2nd the lucky people that will get to enjoy Death House first will be Los Angeles and Van Nuys California, along with Stroudsburg Pennsylvania which is the birthplace of the amazing Director Harrison Smith. The next lucky people will be able to go on March 9th and they are located in New York, N.Y., Chicago, IL., Philadelphia, PA., Dallas-Ft. Worth TX., Washington D.C., Atlanta, GA., Tampa-St. Petersberg FL., Phoenix AZ., Miami-Ft. Lauderdale FL., Orlando-Daytona Beach FL., Sacramento CA., Charlotte, N.C., Kansas City KS./MO., Oklahoma City OK., Jacksonville FL., Memphis TN., and N.W. AK.

With a running time of 93 minutes, we will have a little over an hour and a half of gore-filled strong horror violence, naughty language and nudity with its “R” rating. We have waited this long, and I know from talking to the director Harrison Smith, it will be WELL worth the wait! So better start planning for your sojourn into the bowels of the Hell.

Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, EVENTS, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PRESS RELEASE, PRESS RELEASE, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Land of the Dead & The Hills Have Eyes star Robert Joy

INTERVIEW: Land of the Dead & The Hills Have Eyes star Robert Joy

Robert Joy is a name that might not be instantly familiar to cult/horror fans but he has over 100 film and TV credits and has been in such classics as George Romero’s Land of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

Robert Joy

Currently fans can see Joy as Polonius in an excellent production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet starring Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), Alan Cox, Madeleine Potter (Red Lights), Oyin Oladejo (Star Trek Discovery), Keith Baxter, Ryan Spahn, Kelsey Rainwater, Chris Genebach, Gregory Wooddell, Avery Glymph and directed by Michael Kahn at the Shakespeare Theatre Company DC. I saw it, and it was very impressive.
Joy has taken time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about his craft and the genre films he is beloved for as well as the play he is currently in and what he has in store film-wise.
House of Tortured Souls: You got your start on the stage, were you exposed to many theatre productions as a child?
Robert Joy: I didn’t have an opportunity to watch much theater. When I was older I saw a few things, I remember my mother took me to a musical of The King and I that was done really well. And when I was in my late teens, I worked at a canoeing summer camp for kids in Northern Ontario, and three of us from the staff went down to Stratford. We hitchhiked for adventure, and then after that summer, when I got back to St. Johns Newfoundland, I got involved with the amateur theatre scene which was really sophisticated. And I started doing Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare and a wide range of other things.
HoTS: Your first huge break was starting out in the play The Diary of Anne Frank (1979) with heavy hitters like Eli Wallace. What was he like to work with?
RJ: That was an amazing experience I had admired his work on television and I had seen a movie of his called The Tiger Makes Out and it was Eli Wallace and his wife Anne Jackson. It (the film) was very funny but it was also very emotional; the comedy was mixed with heartbreak. And I was floored by their acting, and it was amazing years later I got to act with them in The Diary of Anne Frank. Its only because of him and his family that I’m in the United States at all, really, because he invited me down to New York when The Diary of Anne Frank came from Toronto to New York.

Robert Joy

HoTS: The film Ragtime was an early breakthrough role where you worked with the legendary Milos Forman (One Flew Over a Cuckoos Nest, Amadeus, People vs Larry Flynt) What was he like as a director?
RJ: He was an amazing guy, he’s not with us anymore is he?
HoTS: I believe so, yes.
RJ: He’s an amazing fellow; he’s very smart and very fun loving, so the atmosphere on this huge production, the logistics of which were daunting, the sense that it was all a big party was palpable (laughs). He had bought a puppy. I think it was a lab. The puppy was on the set the whole time, pooping and peeing (Both laugh). There was this atmosphere you were living in some very big-hearted fun-loving guys’ home (laughs) shooting this enormous movie. But yeah it was a lot of fun to work with Milos Forman. He wouldn’t hesitate to sort of indicate any way he could what he was looking for, and you had to be careful not to do exactly what he did because he would sort of act the scene for you. Like he’d say (in a Czech accent), “More eyes! More crrrazzy”. Stuff like that. It was almost like being directed by one of the Muppets and you had to take one he said and interrupt it into what you knew he wanted. He was a very wonderful and supportive director.
HoTS: It’s an incredible film with an incredible cast. What memories do you have of that shoot in regards to the cast?
RJ: James Cagney wasn’t in the best of health, and he couldn’t take airplanes. I can’t remember exactly why, but a friend of his came over on I think it was the Queen Mary from New York to London because he shot it in London. All my scenes are in London and Oxford that part of England. Donald O’ Conner, Pat O’ Brien, and Pat O’Brien’s wife, and what I remember most is how down to earth everybody was and friendly and approachable. It was very moving to see these old friends being old friends, and, you know, they were open-hearted about including a young actor like me. In the film, Pat O’Brien plays my lawyer, and I had admired him, his movie career was amazing. His wife, whose name I’m sorry I can’t recall (Eloise Taylor), she played my mother (laughs) in that movie. I couldn’t believe my luck.
HoTS: I watched an old interview with youon YouTube actually – it must have been mid-eighties – for TV, and you mentioned you turned down Amityville 2: The Posession on grounds of the violence. I’m guessing you’ve softened you’re stance since, with being in films such as The Hills Have Eyes and Land of the Dead?
RJ: Well that’s interesting I didn’t realize I had done that, I was in an Amityville film it was Amityville 3D.
HoTS: Yeah.
RJ: So had I turned down Amityville 2, I guess. I very rarely turn anything down so I might have had another job at the time. As an actor, especially early in your career, you can only really afford to be fussy about what you expect when you have income. It might have been I was disturbed by the excessive violence. I’m not a fan of really violent movies, and as you say The Hills Have Eyes was probably the most violent I’ve ever been in. I have mixed feelings about it, I think it’s very skillfully made and ultimately I think it makes a very interesting premise behind it and as a cautionary tale  about what happens when people are marginalized or when things go bad and human beings are so separate from each other that they almost mutate away from each other. It had that kind of parable element to it. I remember reading the script of The Hills Have Eyes, and when the father character is crucified on the flaming cross, I thought this was too much, but I did it. It was one of those things I did because my daughter was about to go to university, and I didn’t have the luxury of picking and choosing. But I’m proud of it. It wasn’t an easy part to play, and there were a lot of challenges in the making of it. I’m proud we all pulled together an made what turned out to be in its own way a high quality of example of that kind of movie. The director, Alexandre Aja, the principal director, would say, “It has to be brutal and uncompressing”. And that’s what it was.

Robert Joy

HoTS: You also have a great role in George Romero’s adaptation of The Dark Half. Had you read the book before filming?
RJ: No, I hadn’t read the book, but I feel like the opportunity to work with George Romero was one of the great opportunities in my life. The Dark Half has violence in it, but you have a mixture of Stephen King and George Romero, and the range of the material in it is wide and deep. And I was very happy to do it based on the screenplay, but, no, I did not read the novel.
HoTS: So safe to assume you were very familiar with his body of work?
RJ: Yeah. I was most familiar with Night of the Living Dead. It was one of those one-of-a-kind kinds of movies because at the time it hadn’t really spawned that much of a collection of movies by the time I did The Dark Half, at least not that I was aware of. It just seems like subsequently that zombie genre has exploded. But back then it was like he was a one of a kind artist and it was such an interesting role. Like that scene where I come in and basically come in and try to extort Tim Hutton’s character and it’s one of the most interesting scenes. The character on the surface is so playful but under the surface menacing, and the politics of the scene goes up and down. One person has the power, then you wonder maybe the other person has the power, and its really good screenplay writing. And, of course, it’s beautifully directed by George. And when I met George in Pittsburgh, I was struck by courtly he was; it made me think of this old-fashioned gentleman. And he was so welcoming. I didn’t feel like I was just being hired to be in a movie; I felt like I was being welcomed into a community. That’s very important in a profession that is very gypsy-like where often you’re just hired, and when the job is over you never see the people again, so it was very special to be a part of his team.
HoTS: The character of Fred is so wonderfully cocky. Is a role like that enjoyable because it seems like you’re having a ball playing him. Do you enjoy those types of roles?
RJ: Well, you know that was the first role of that kind I had ever played. The other thing based just on the audition I did, I guess I auditioned for him in New York, and I didn’t have the reputation for playing that kind of part. I was so appreciative of George for saying, “Oh yeah, he can do it”. Whereas a lot of other people try to keep you in a pigeonhole, so he’s an actor’s best friend.
HoTS: Was George a fan of rehearsing his actors?
RJ: Yes. It was very interesting. It started before rehearsal with George, and it happened again with Land of the Dead. It starts with the audition in a funny way. You start to get an idea what he’s after, and he’s very involved in the costume and makeup, the costumes, in particular. The costume becomes a kind of rehearsal even though you’re not doing the scene at all. But you get an impression of George’s input where every visual detail that you’re going to present to the camera goes through the filter of his vision. Take Land of the Dead for example. He thought that Charlie should have a cap – you know a wool watch cap they call them – and then when they put one on me, he said, “Ah, no, but it should have a hole in it. Here is where the hole should be” (laugh). So every visual detail had a significance – a storytelling significance, and then in the rehearsals he would have on the shooting day, I don’t think we had separate rehearsals like on other days, but he would rehearse on the day. And for the most part, what I appreciated was that he would respond to what the actors brought and support what the actors brought. Every now and then he would just have just one thing to say, a detail or one turning point in the scene, and he would give his one note that would be an enormous contribution. He wasn’t a control freak. He wasn’t a puppet master. He was wanting to know what you brought, and then he could help you take it a step further.
HoTS: So he gave you the freedom to find the character yourself?
RJ: You gotta remember that during the auditions he saw basically what he wanted, but then when he would see it on the shooting day, he could refine it, improve it, and enhance it. He was a real connoisseur of what the actors brought. He was one of those people who would be really encouraging. His contribution and his notes were in the middle of a kind of cheerleading capacity, like a great coach really.
HoTS: Speaking of Charlie from Land of the Dead you give the character of a real depth and pathos, I was wondering if you drew inspiration from anything specific?
RJ: Not really, no, but the character is written beautifully, and he has a backstory that was very easy to get behind. I mean it was painful, but the idea that to go through a trauma and then come out the other side with a loyalty to the person that saved you, I never had that kind of experience but it was easy to get behind it. It’s weird somebody asked… You saw Hamlet the other night, right?
HoTS: Yes.
RJ: So somebody asked the actor playing Hamlet, Michael Urie, how do you feel those feelings? He said, “Well, you know, it’s what we have to do as actors. I never killed a king or seen my father’s ghost or anything like that, but you have to imagine what it would be like”, and that’s how I feel about Charlie. He wrote a backstory and situation for Charlie that was so rich that it was so easy to get behind it. It’s what we do when we read a novel or see a movie. We, as an audience, as readers and viewers, we enter that situation. And as actors, it’s an extension of that same thing. We go there, and the material takes you there.
HoTS: You’ve done several make-up heavy movies. Do you feel like it informs your character similar to a costume?
RJ: Oh my god, yeah. Because the makeup alters your face, it’s even more significant than a costume. I remember when I’d be sitting in the chair for three or four hours with Chris Nelson who applied the prosthetics and painted them. What a genius. He’s an actor as well. He’s in Kill Bill. He plays The Groom in the wedding scene. While I was in that makeup chair watching it happen, it was incredible. It’s incredibly helpful to the actor’s imagination because you’re watching it [take shape] in the mirror. You are becoming something else, and it takes a lot of the burden off of the actor because the makeup is doing much of the work. I mean I certainly don’t have to ask my way into communicating Charlie’s history if half of his face is a burn scar. That trauma is there, and it’s enormously important. Same with The Hills Have Eyes. That mutation is present. There’s so much less effort required. It’s still a lot of work in the acting, but there is such a thing as bad effort as when a performance becomes effortful instead of natural, and what the makeup does is let the extraordinary be natural.
HoTS: How long did the makeup take on Land of the Dead, and can you walk us through the process?
RJ: It took about four hours. It was two large pieces on the right side of my face, and when they go on in a kind of an approximate pinkish flesh color. The application is very important and takes time. The first thing is you have to have your hair plastered back under a cap, but the painting is amazing. With the painting, he would paint red and blue first. Then cover it with the kind of skin tone and add layers of paint so that even though all you see is flesh color underneath, it is hints of veins and arteries and such. It took a long time.
Robert Joy and Tess Harper in Amityville 3D
HoTS: You are currently playing Polonius in the Shakespeare Theatre Company of DC’s amazing production. First of all, I saw you in this and thought you were incredible, as was the entire cast. What did you think of the modern re-imagining?
RJ: I am totally excited by this re-imagining because sometimes a modern re-imagining doesn’t fit a classic play but Michael Kahn has imagined this play. Not only does it fit, but it enhances the text. You know that scene where I enlist my daughter to spy on Hamlet. Classically that’s done where Polonius and the king are watching behind a curtain, but to have a listening device in the book she’s reading… I mean, Shakespeare put the book in the scene and somehow that book was going to be a clue I imagine. Because he doesn’t put props into his scenes very often, so 400 years ago that book would have been some kind of a clue to Hamlet that she is spying on him. But to have a listening device in it makes it relatable, and that is just one example. Some of in the play lends itself to this depiction of a surveillance state and authoritarian kind of East German State.
HoTS: Yes. I thought it was really interesting how they dealt with the politics which is rife in the play. Now you are, of course, no stranger to performing Shakespeare. In fact, I read you and Ruby, your daughter, acted in The Tempest together?
RJ: That’s right. That was really the highlight for both of us, I think. She had been auditioning in Canada and got the role of Miranda in The Tempest, and as they were talking to her after she was hired, they asked her about her last name and if, by chance, she was related to me because they knew me from CSI: New York. She said yeah he’s my dad, and they asked if it would be alright if we asked him to play Prospero. It was a miraculous turn of events because it turned out to be one of the most amazing things each of us ever did. And it’s so rich with implications for our current world as well. The weird thing is Ruby and I were just talking about it last night because she is working with a group of academics in Toronto. Even now they are doing this kind of symposium about The Tempest, and its implications on colonialism and immigration and the attitude having different cultures in the one place. Like Caliban, Ariel, and Prospero were like different species of humans. But it was a fascinating play and we had a great time doing it.
HoTS: Do you think you’ll ever do a film together?
RJ: We are always looking or possibilities. We keep imagining it will happen on stage maybe playing King Lear and she could play one of King Lear’s daughters or any combination where I get to play her dad again or just be in the same project. But you know, these things can happen, but they are hard to force. But we certainly both want to work with each other again.
HoTS: Great! Finally, I wanted to ask about your latest film, Crown and Anchor, and if you could tell us what it’s about and a bit about your character in it?
RJ: Yeah. I really like this film. You’re introduced to this a police officer in Toronto, and he has rage issues. He gets a call from his hometown that his mother has passed away, so he goes back to his hometown and you realize where all his rage issues come from. It’s a very complicated family with a father who’s in prison and a brother who is going down the wrong road and getting involved with drug dealers. My character is his uncle, the imprisoned brother’s father, who is trying to be a leader figure in the family but can’t quite manage it because he’s a drinker and has flaws of his own. It’s a fascinating character because on the one hand there are comedic elements. He’s a bit of a mischief maker and an eccentric character, but then it becomes clear he is really trying to save a very bad situation. It’s a complex and nuanced film, and I loved playing that part. I just got another part you might be interested to hear about. I don’t know if you know of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Gold Finch?
HoTS: Yes. This is filming now or in post-production?
RJ: Yes. It just started filming last week, and I am playing the part of Welty in that. Jeffery Wright plays the part of Hobie, a man who has an antique shop and antique restorer in Manhattan. I play his partner who goes through trauma at the beginning of the film. I don’t want to give too much away, but the part of Welty will involve a wound in makeup. I did the fitting, and when you were talking about prosthetic makeup, I thought about that because I had to do one of those life casts. It’s going to be a horrific head wound.
Asia Argento, Simon Baker, Joanne Boland, Robert Joy, Shawn Roberts, and Pedro Miguel Arce in Land of the Dead (2005)
I once again want to thank Mr. Joy for his time and sharing insights into his craft and touching on some of his amazing and varied body of work. Also a big thank you to the fine people at the Shakespeare Theatre Company DC.
If you are in the area its an incredible production with a brilliant cast and director. It runs now until March 6, 2018. Please visit the website below for more info.

Vinessa Shaw, Emilie de Ravin, and Robert Joy in The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Posted by Mike Vaughn in INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
An Interview with Filmmaker Chase Dudley

An Interview with Filmmaker Chase Dudley

Recently it has been my pleasure to discuss the work of filmmaker Chase Dudley through the House of Tortured Souls pre-production press release for his latest project, Between the Living and the Dead.Photos By : Kim Greenidge
Readers will already be aware of some of the cast members such as Lisa Wilcox, Ashley Mary Nunes, John Dugan, and even Robert Allen Mukes.
Additional to the four principal cast, Dudley has also cast Bishop Stevens and Trevor Murdoch, infamous and impressively skilled wrestlers who had been a part of the WWE world since 1999. Stevens currently can also be seen in films such as Mom and Dad, Payday, and No Good Heroes.

Bishop Stevens - Interview with Chase Dudley

Trevor Murdoch - Interview with Chase Dudley

I took some time ahead of the filming schedule for Between the Living and the Dead, to speak with the director Chase Dudley.
House of Tortured Souls: Between your films Marvellous Mandy, Payday, and the upcoming production of Between the Living and the Dead, it’s clear that filmmaking is a passion for you. What inspired your desire to become a filmmaker?
Chase Dudley: Yes, my passion for filmmaking has always been very strong, ever since I was a kid. I think I always knew that I wanted to be in the movie business, but it was mostly at a young age that it revolved more around acting. My directing passion came later in life when I started actually making movies, it was to the point for me to find other people making movies. I started making movies for myself and I was always doing more of the directing and finding people. Being in movies, somebody always had to put everything together and it ended up being me doing these things and I just learned to love doing that more than acting. I love telling stories of all kinds, whether it is horror, drama, or action. I like doing a little bit of everything and I started really just making movies six years ago. So I have a lot of time to make up for. From my twenties, social media was so much less and it was really hard to find other people that were interested in the things that I was. Sometimes it really sucks and I feel like I’ve been born in the wrong decade, but it is a great time to be a filmmaker now.
HoTS: I find it inspiring that your business partner is also your amazing wife Samantha Dudley. What is it like working together at Cut 2 The Chase Productions and balancing that with your family commitments?
CD: Me working with my business partner and wife Samantha has been, honestly, the greatest treat in the world. People I’d dated in the past always never really fully accepted what I wanted to do or what I wanted to be. It came to the same ultimatums, a lot of times in relationships. It was either them or my dream. And of course, if I gave up my dream it’d be like a slow suicide ‘cos you know how it goes with a lot of relationships in the movie business. It was always so awkward and weird, ‘cos it’s hard for me to not think about movies at all. Thinking movies and being with someone who loves me and wants me to achieve my goals is very special.
HoTS: Between the Living and The Dead will feature two powerful women within horror — Lisa Wilcox and Ashley Mary Nunes — what was it like meeting with either of them ? And why did you choose them for their roles?
CD: Watching the A Nightmare on Elm Street films when I was a kid and seeing Lisa Wilcox, she was always my favorite character of the franchise, and I always thought she was quite badass. So growing up and then making movies, I hadn’t heard from her in a while and saw she was raising her kids and getting back into acting and she was really on my list to work with (‘cos she’s such a strong actress). Recently watching her get into all kinds of other great projects I felt I had to work with her. And Ashley Nunes I had met in 2015 at the Ripped Film Festival. I was screening my movie Retribution and she was in a film with her brother Todd, well her brother directed it, called All Through The House. She was such a professional person and a terrific actress and so down to earth. I knew that’s someone I wanted to work with, and we had been trying for a few years. Finally, I sent her the script (for Between the Living and the Dead) and she was so eager to be a part of it.
HoTS: How does it feel also to know you’ll get to work with the legendary John Dugan and genre star Robert Allen Mukes?
CD: I never in a million years thought I’d be working with Robert Allen Mukes or John Dugan. Growing up some of my favorite horror films were the House of 1000 Corpses and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, alongside A Nightmare on Elm Street. Those were some of the most memorable and inspiring horror films of all time. They’re all such down to earth people and the roles they’re gonna be playing in the film are so iconic and badass. The horror fans are really gonna love what we’re gonna do with this and it is such an honor to be directing them all.
HoTS: Not ignoring the rest of the cast who will be equally amazing on screen, and I notice some come from wrestling backgrounds, how did you select the right actors for each role?
CD: Firstly, Bishop Stevens and Trevor Murdoch are great additions to this project. As a director whenever I’m reading a script or in the process of creating, I already have in mind who I want to work with. It’s one of those things where I visually see people, that I feel fit the roles, and when creating a script I always hope they like it and most of the times they do. So its one of those things I guess, every director is different. Some directors love going to casting calls and posting for and having casting auditions. I like, personally, handpicking them before we start. It’s more exciting.
HoTS: Of course you frequently collaborate with writer Brett Slabchuck, including on Payday and Marvellous Mandy, what is your take on his writing style and what process do you use to create these films based on his scripts?
CD: Martin Scorsese once said ‘you have to find filmmakers who like you or who is you’. Most of the years I’ve been trying to get movies off the ground, I’ve always worked with people with a differing opinion. They didn’t get my style (so to say). My wife Samantha and my screenwriter Brett Slabchuck are some of those few special people I collaborate with, that truly get what I’m trying to do. When you have people like that, it makes filmmaking so much easier. Brett Slabchuck and I have been doing business for the last four years and this film will be our fourth creative process. We just seem to get more comfortable and understand each other.
HoTS: Between the Living and the Dead will be filming this year and is slated for a 2019 release. Any ideas if you’ll aim for a festival release? And perhaps cinematic??
CD: For Between the Living and the Dead, our goal is I’m really big on Netflix original films, but I am also looking for this film to be released theatrically. The following for Halloween and the way they filmed it seemed really really smart. They shot the movie and that year released it on Halloween of course. We were gonna try take six or seven months in pre-production and try to get and try and get the film out by the next Halloween. This type of film, I think, would do really well theatrically.
HoTS: Is there anything else you’d like film fans to know about Cut 2 The Chase Productions or your films?
CD: At Cut 2 The Chase Productions, we want to be versatile and we want to tell amazing stories. I plan on doing all kinds of different genres and all different kinds of films. We are also going to grow into music too, as my wife is a musician and once we get the movie off the ground we intend on going into the music genre too. That’s one thing I’d like everyone one to know about for Cut 2 The Chase Productions.
Interview with Chase Dudley

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Nick Younker – Interview With A Horror Author

Nick Younker – Interview With A Horror Author

Hello, horror fans! Horrormadam here to tell you about one of my favorite authors Nick Younker. His short stories and novellas run the gamut of themes from Native American curses, to sociopaths, vampires, unnatural chaos, and the Zombie Apocalypse. They are so intelligent and engaging and give you a complete story in a concise manner. I love them so much that after completing I am compelled to review on Amazon. Before we talk to Mr. Younker, I wanted to show you the synopsis for my favorite of his Don’t Bury Me:

Evan, an activist hell-bent on exposing corruption within the pharmaceutical industry, accepts an invitation to go on a daring mission to Croatia in search of an ancient corpse that fell victim to a 14th-century plague. The mission becomes a stunning success with the discovery of a femur bone, but it comes with a price when he takes it to Indiana University in Bloomington for independent research.

After it reanimates, the outbreak takes a supernatural turn and the government responds by quarantining five states in the Midwest. The terminal virus, also known as the Rip Tide, forces people to self-cannibalize near the end. Evan, who seems to be immune to the Rip Tide, travels up and down the deserted roads of Southern Indiana to help people die peacefully.

Aided by both FEMA and the CDC with a satellite phone and airdrops, Evan encounters a young girl who was abandoned by her parents. To make matters worse, a 14th Century witch appears to him as an apparition, taking the form of a dead Goth-Rock Star he admires to manipulate him into spreading her lethal spores. But Evan has other plans and he starts to break through her supernatural code, finding unique ways to keep the young girl alive.

If that doesn’t get you interested I don’t know what would!

House of Tortured Souls: When did you get the writing bug and what made you want to be a writer?

Nick Younker: I never got the “writing bug,” per say. But I did write some prose in college and found out that I had some skills inherent to people in the industry. Honestly, I only wanted to be a news writer when I was in college and that’s what I did after I finally got my BS. But the more time I spent in the television industry, the less I liked it. So soon after I started working for Turner in Atlanta, I also began doing small projects at home. Just a short story here or a screenplay there. Eventually, my flow began taking me in the direction of prose, which is a world apart from screenwriting, and I started producing stories one after the other. I did write a novel and a few novellas but found short stories to be the most fulfilling work. They contain less filler and I write in Grunge Narrative style, so that’s extremely attractive to me.

HoTS: Who were some of your early writing influences?

NY: I’m assuming you’re asking about novelists, but I have a long list of writers that have influenced me from different mediums. In the literary industry, novelists like Bukowski, Vonnegut (both used Grunge Narrative style), Ketchum, Blatty, Irving, Larsson and Algernon Blackwood were the most attractive scribes for me.

But my influences in movies and music include Alan Ball, the Coen Brothers, Cobain, Springsteen, Vedder, Cornell, Cantrell, Jett, Hetfield, Hendrix, Morrison and most importantly, Roky Erickson. The works of these fine names have exploded my ability to think critically, fourth dimensionally, and allowed me to pursue creative works that have far surpassed my expectations.

HoTS: Why the horror genre?

NY: Why not? I have frequently been asked that by my family and friends, who do not seem to share the same love of horror that I do but never miss an opportunity to download one of my works.

Horror entertains a reader the same way drama, literary fiction, romance, sci-fi, young adult (vomit), thrillers and human-interest stories do. I don’t think anyone sits down to read a book that they already know what happens at the summit. Everyone wants to be shocked, to see some originality. I would argue that horror is the premiere genre to achieve such goals. It is much broader and the freedom to shock a reader is virtually limitless.

HoTS: Who are some of your favorite authors and books?

NY: Well, I’m not a big fan of playing favorites, but The Willows by Algernon Blackwood did for me what The Blair Witch Project did for horror movie fans. I should also add that 1984 has been a big hit in my playbook. But my all-time favorite book(s) is the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo).

HoTS: Have your influences changed as you’ve grown older?

NY: Not really. I rarely buy new books from mainstream authors, instead opting for indie writers who have a good following from people I know and trust. Even though I write primarily in horror, I like books that feature characters who struggle with poverty, especially poverty in the richest nation in the world. I suppose you could say that I identify with them, given my chosen “career.”

HoTS: What are some of your favorite horror movies?

NY: There’s a laundry list of those, but I will try to condense it. Let The Right One In, What We Do In The Shadows, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rawhead Rex, Return of the Living Dead, Zombieland, An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, Candyman, Dawn of the Dead (1978), The Conjuring, Rosemary’s Baby, Demons, Demons 2, Spookies… oh shit, I got carried away.

HoTS: Tell us about some of your favorites that you have written?

NY: Out of all my stories, Don’t Bury Me is perhaps my best work to date. Although there is a special place in my heart for the others, that one really tugged at my heartstrings. I have a new one I’m working on right now that’s a passion project, titled The Birth of an American Vampire. It features a character who was turned by immaculate conception following the death of his mother and the extreme grief that left him vulnerable to the curse. He has no sire, just a victim of natural selection following a perfect storm of internal and external conflicts gone violently wrong.

HoTS: Are there any author’s quotes that keep you going?

NY: I wouldn’t say that the quotes keep me going, but there is one that I really admire from Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption:
“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” ~ Andy Dufresne as written by Stephen King.

HoTS: For young writers out there, what words do you have for them?

NY: Embrace poverty and love the poor because they’re going to be your brethren.

HoTS: Where do your ideas come from?

Nick Younker: Thick air… cause I find it hard to breathe or think, in thin air.

HoTS: When they make a film about your illustrious writing career, who do you think should play you?

Nick Younker: The late, great Chris Farley. I can’t say for certain, but I think he’d return from the grave for an opportunity like that.

HoTS: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

NY: Not really, but I would like to take this opportunity to address the rise of Grunge Narrative writing style. Writers like myself use it and I find it to be the best way to read any great short story. I wrote an article about the many different tenets of the style that you can read here.

If anyone wants to check out my works in the horror genre, you can visit my Amazon page.

You can catch up with him on Twitter (@NYounker) where he publishes over 20 smart-ass tweets and horror images every day. You can also connect with him on his website, FogstowJamison.com, where he publishes articles on news in the horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy industry.

Thanks for speaking with me, Jaye! You rock girl!

And I want to thank Nick Younker so much for answering my questions and giving us such great reading material! Nick, you are an inspiration to me and my writing!

Posted by Horrormadam in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS, PARANORMAL, SCI-FI HORROR, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Cast and Crew of Dead Air (2018)

INTERVIEW: Cast and Crew of Dead Air (2018)

Dead Air (2018)

Gremlins on a Plane: More Fun Than Any Interviewer Should Be Allowed!

Dead Air (2018)

Hello guys, Horrormadam here to introduce you to a new film that I am really excited about called Dead Air that is still in post-production but will be released later this year. This film is something different and I had the great honor of learning about it from almost everyone involved! First, let’s tell you what it is about:
Set on a plane traveling to a final gig, Dead Air tells the story of Monster Kitten, an all-female punk rock band who end up on a flight with some nasty little creatures with all hell breaking loose at 30,000 feet.

Dead Air (2018)

Great name for a band and a great fresh premise! Let me introduce you to who will be answering my questions:
Geoff Harmer the Director (Overtime, Addict, Smile), Peter Hearn the Writer (Smile, Scrawl, Motto). Our Actresses Stacy Hart (Get Real, The Beach) as the drummer, Charlie Bond (Vendetta, Strippers vs Werewolves) as the singer, Johanna Stanton (Nightmare Box, Sinatra: All or Nothing at All) as the guitarist, and Kate Davies Speak (Horizon, Deadman Apocalypse) as the bassist. And our master puppeteers Andrew James Spooner (Muppets Most Wanted, Muppets Treasure Island), Tony Lymboura (Muppets Most Wanted, The Muppets Christmas Carol) and Nicola Buckmaster. And a special appearance by Dave (IMDb finds him to controversial to cover) as The Creature but he reminded me he is an actor, not a puppet.
Dead Air (2018)
House of Tortured Souls: Why are you guys fans of the horror genre?
Peter Hearn: I’m a fan of most genres, I like writing horror because I find it fun. I don’t take it too seriously even if others read my work and think it’s really dark. I think the other thing I like about the horror genre is the fans are a loyal bunch. Very supportive. Not saying fans of other film genres aren’t supportive, but I’ve never witnessed a more fan-friendly genre. I mean, look at the Internet and you find x amount of sites dedicated to horror. If you are lucky, you’ll find the odd website dedicated to a comedic film, or a drama or whatever, but not the same rabid fan base you get from the horror community. It always annoys me when people assume you are weird or macabre or sick if you like horror films or books or whatever it may be. I don’t buy into any of that.
Geoff Harmer: I’ve been a huge horror fan for years! I used to work in a video shop, we had all the video nasties behind the counter. I grew up watching stuff like Zombie Flesh Eaters, The Evil Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I then got a subscription to magazines like Fangoria and Gorezone. I can still remember seeing The Thing on pirate video back in 1982 when I was 10 years old! Scared the shit out of me! Haven’t looked back since!
Dead Air (2018)

HoTS: What are some of your favorite horror movies?
Charlie Bond: Not a lot of people know this about me, but I’m actually a massive Hammer Horror fan. I love to pop on a gorgeous, sleepy old classic like the beautiful, ethereal Twins Of Evil or one of their many Draculas, curl up under a blanket and lose myself in that dreamy fantasy world of Hammer land. Despite being predominantly a Horror genre actress, I try to watch as much modern horror as I can, too. My top favorites from the last few years are really fun, gory romps – off the top of my head, American Mary, The Babysitter, and The Love Witch have been my favorites for the past few years. That said, I saw Dead Love recently, which stars the monstrously talented James Hamer-Morton, who plays our co-pilot in Dead Air. I was absolutely blown away by both performance and the incredibly complex and sweet story that director Chris Gallagher had created, within a VERY gory horror with absolutely insane SFX. Really worth a watch if you can find it!
Kate Davies Speak: I adore so many horrors but I have my favorites, I actually really love the movie Scream which is more of a homage and parody of several classic horrors but it was such a wonderful blend of teen drama, black humor and some wicked jump scares. The cast was amazing too and big influences for me in my dreams of being an actor. I also love John Carpenter and Stephen King movies; The Thing, Christine, Cujo… Also, some of my favorites slightly more modern horrors are The Descent the all-female cast in that were amazing, Sinister was terrifying (mostly the soundtrack) and recently I’ve enjoyed Hush and Creep (on Netflix).
Johanna Stanton: My two favorites are Don’t Look Now and Rosemary’s Baby.
Stacy Hart: I go for more psychological stuff like Silence Of The Lambs or Eden Lake.

Dead Air (2018)

HoTS: I have series celebrating women in film and women in horror so wondering why you went with an all-female punk band?
PH: We didn’t initially – it started off as a mix, but the more we looked at it, the more we reworked the script we realized they had to all be female. As soon as we hit that point in the process we knew we had made the right decision. There were always characters that were female from the word go, others that got rewritten or replaced over time to fit the band. I just really wanted a film that had female characters that weren’t side characters to a hulking male out to save the day. Those days are gone.
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: Why go to the 80s era for the puppets?
GH: It’s not really an 80s flick, but it does heavily influence the look and feel of the film. The puppets weren’t originally in the film to the extent that they are at the moment. They were originally only fleeting glimpses and glowing eyes in the darkness. But Pete twisted my arm with the idea of puppets… and the next thing I knew we were in Wimbledon chatting to these talented students about designing our creatures!
PH: There was no specific ‘this is an 80s movie’ woven into the script. When I first wrote the initial draft, the Creatures were just glowing eyes in a box and a conceit to get us from A – B, as we moved further down the road with it, I mentioned to Geoff that it would be cool if the creatures were actually Muppet-like puppets and he agreed. I had used a puppet in my previous film Scrawl and had always loved puppetry. I told him I knew some Henson puppeteers, well I knew of one as he had recently contacted me on twitter. That was Andrew James Spooner, although we wouldn’t properly speak to him for about a year after this point…not that we didn’t want to, we just felt we would never get someone of his caliber to join us.
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: Writer influences?
PH: For this project? I had a bunch of films in my head: – American Werewolf in London, Deathgasm, Critters, Dead Snow 2, Empire Records, Josie and the Pussycats. Throw a TV ep in with Twilight Zone’s Nightmare at 20000 feet and you have my initial influences. Others came later, but that’s where I started…
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: Director influences?
GH: For me as the Director, Dead Air is heavily influenced by films like From Beyond and Vamp, at least from an aesthetic point of view. I love the look of those films and they reek of 80s horror! I wanted Dead Air to have that same look and feel.
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: Why did Mr. Spooner get into Puppetry and why Dead Air?
Andrew James Spooner: I got into Puppetry and voice work because I’m an introverted performer! I love acting but don’t like being seen on camera. So Puppetry and voice acting are perfect! I grew up in the 70s and was obsessed with Doctor Who, The Muppets and Star Wars. Specifically the puppets in The Muppet Show and the creatures and special effects in Doctor Who and Star Wars. Puppetry brings the worlds of performance and special effects together. In its essence, every shot of a puppet and creature on a TV show IS a special effect. We’re convincing you that this creature/character is alive and breathing.
Why Dead Air? It’s the kind of project that doesn’t come along that often. In an industry that’s so used to using CGI as the tool of choice for films like this, practical effects are seen less and less. So, it’s a chance to play with practical puppet creatures. It also harks back to Horror movies of the 80s, when practical effects were at their prime. Gremlins on a plane! Come on! Who WOULDN’T want to be involved in that!
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: I was so honored to have Dave included in this interview. He is such a legend in the industry. How did Dave like working with everyone?
Dave: “I hated working with all of them! They showed me NO respect on set whatsoever! In between takes, they shoved me in a box that (get this!) HAD NO AIR HOLES! I nearly suffocated in that f**king thing! The girls were fine to work with. But you know what it’s like if you aren’t ‘conventionally’ good looking, they tend to just nod at you and then get back to texting or twittering or whatever the f*ck it is they do. Inspiration? I guess I’d have to say that my biggest influence is Leo Sayer.” “Why are you laughing?”
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: How about Tony and Nicola?
Tony Lymboura: I don’t have an interesting quotable answer for the first part. As for the second part, …cos it looked like so much fun!
Nicola Buckmaster: I hadn’t thought about being a puppeteer at a young age, most likely as I thought they were real! I had a great imagination & believed in everything. I went to the theatre & Cinema a lot, loved sooty & sweep, Emu, the muppets & often saw old Punch & Judy in Covent Garden, so much that the puppeteer knew my name!
I trained as an actor & singer pretty much all my life, it wasn’t until I worked at a theme park that they asked if I would audition for the puppet show, I did, rehearsed for weeks & became a puppeteer! That was 12 years ago, I did 3 seasons there, absolutely loved it learned a lot & auditioned for more puppetry jobs after.
Puppetry has always been in my life. As a kid, I had some puppets & I would play with pens, household objects, give them characters, which I later learned is called object manipulation.
And Why Dead Air? Why not, it’s got everything I love: horror & puppets! And as Andrew said it’s gremlins on a plane (I love gremlins). For me too it was getting to work with like-minded people, learn a lot & work on a film with puppets. Meeting the Dave’s was great too, although one of the Daves tends to text when he’s had a few & I didn’t give him my number…
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: Did you all like working with the puppet actors?
CB: One of the most interesting things about working with puppet actors, is how quickly they can pick up and drop their puppet persona – to the level where you yourself are struggling to keep up with them! One moment you’re chatting away to lovely Andrew James-Spooner with his hand up a fuzzy, toothy puppet and the next moment he’s gone and ‘Dave’ the grouchy, foul-mouthed little demon is in the room. By the end of the shoot, I’d developed close personal relationships with both and consider them both equally fabulous.
KDS: Working with the Dave puppets was a lot of fun for me, it was a first as well. I have worked using green screen and CGI in the past but often find that hard to ‘connect’ with, working with physical puppets was great, they were very cute too but don’t tell them I said that, they start swearing at you when you compliment them lol. Most of my interaction scenes with the puppets involved me smashing seven shades of s*** out of them with my bass guitar…
JS: Yes. The team was amazing. I’d worked with puppets before on the musical Casper the friendly Ghost years ago. So was used to acting alongside puppets.Basically, they are just another cast member. Although I was genuinely freaked out when they were biting my face….ugh..the sound of those teeth sends shivers down my spine.
SH: Working with the puppet team was awesome fun! I didn’t get quite as much chance to act opposite the creatures as a couple of the others; mainly I had furry balls flying at my face and hit them away. Make of that any double entendre you will.
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: What inspired the monsters?
PH: The monsters (the little creatures) were inspired initially by Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and the Sumatran Rat Monkey from Braindead (Dead Alive) with real creatures thrown in for good measure. While Critters and Gremlins were benchmarks for the use of practical puppets, they were never influences on the actual design of the creatures.
We still have our ‘Dave’s’ living in my garage (a bit like Fonzie from Happy Days). They were up on our crowdfunding as potential perks but nobody wanted to give them a home. So they are sleeping on my couch, for now, eating leftovers, playing poker.
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: Saw the girls names were inspired by famous punk rockers. Got Nancy Spungen, Patty Smith, and Debbie Harry, but who is Eve? Possible Eva Destruction?
PH: They were and you are the first person to recognize that! The cast wanted their characters to have names, even if for this concept short they are just named on screen as the Singer, the Drummer etc (somewhere in the back of my mind, Two-Lane Blacktop was influencing this decision)
These will be the names in the feature, as there’s a broader canvas to play on.
Anyway, to circle back to your question, you got the 3 absolutely correct but Eve is actually Eve Libertine from the British punk band Crass from the late 70s.
Dead Air (2018)
HoTS: Are you fans of punk and if so what bands?
GH: I went with Punk more for the look than the music, to be honest… but I’m finding a love for the music!
PH: I love loads of different kinds of music. My brother was a massive influence on me growing up as he was into heavy metal and punk and all that stuff. Firstly playing in a band himself and then going to work for a major record retailer for 20 odd years. Punk bands that have always been there for me are ones like the Ramones, early Adam and the Ants, the Sex Pistols, the Misfits, the Runaways, the Clash etc. Mainly punk with a pop edge. Too many to mention.
SH: I do like punk. Being a 90s child, Nirvana was a first love of mine and I was into Green Day. I really like female-fronted stuff like Bikini Kill, and I adore The Distillers; Brody Dalle is a fucking goddess. Right now I’m enjoying some older stuff vicariously as my sons get into it. they have the Ramones and The Ruts on their playlists.
JS: I’m a fan of most styles of music. Having been signed to RCA in a pop group, then gigging around London in a rock band and also throwing a musical theater background in the mix. I’m basically a schizophrenic music fan.
KDS: I have an eclectic musical taste, I admit that I don’t listen to much rock but I would definitely be a fan of ‘Monster Kitten’ if they were a real group…
CB: I’ve definitely got eclectic music tastes. When I was in my teens, I was a little skater punk girl and was wild about quite poppy punk rock bands like Green Day, Less Than Jake, The Offspring, Alkaline Trio, Fenix TX, the Misfits etc. As I got older I actually became quite goth, got very into heavy metal, psychobilly and would jam to Cradle Of Filth, Nightwish, Kittie, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, etc. My favorite band of all time is the now-split The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – I followed them around for years in my teens!! I’m still a huge Punk Rock fan and have really been enjoying Spotify’s ‘Time Capsule’ feature of late – though it has thrown a few Britney tracks at me that I’ve enjoyed rediscovering, haha!
Dead Air (2018)
So horror fans I will keep you updated on this amazing new film and will let you know the moment it is released. Everyone involved in the making of this film is so lovely and generous and I will share more of their stories as we get closer to the release! So you heard it here first and start getting ready for what I think is going to be an amazing ride! I am just gonna sit here and start getting ready for a wicked game of Texas HoldEm with Dave and he better not welch this time!

Dead Air (2018)

Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, EXCLUSIVE, FEATURED CONTENT, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, NEW RELEASES, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Jeremy Wanek: Editor and VFX Artist (Interview)

Jeremy Wanek: Editor and VFX Artist (Interview)

A discussion about hockey and zombies, corpses in tubs and getting hit with the hatchet for the fourth time!

House of Tortured Souls:Hey everyone! Horrormadam here to bring you a great conversation I had with Visual Effects and editing mastermind Jeremy Wanek. He is such a great person and we had a really fun talk and I wanted to let you guys in on the fun! Our first topic to discuss was some of the projects that he has been working on.
Jeremy Wanek: Victor Crowley coming out February 6, 2018. Worked on the VFX for the opening sequence, editing, and death sequences.Most people think the effects are 100% practical (a practical effect is a special effect produced physically, without computer-generated imagery or other post-production techniques) with a little CG (computer generated images) and some definitely are but with a few enhancements to make them a little bigger.Enhancements to practical effects happen more in horror films. It is great to shoot practical, but CG works best when you can use it to enhance. That’s what Adam Green (Frozen, Hatchet 1 and 2) does when he shoots his movies.

Victor Crowley, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Victor Crowley, flare effect, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

It was my first time working with Kane Hodder and Adam Green. It’s interesting how it worked out. I am from Minneapolis and it’s always interesting trying to reach out to people in LA or NY, but a lot of the work I do is for people on the coasts. So I am a fan of Adam Greens podcast The Movie Crypt that he does with Joe Lynch(Wrong Turn 2, Mayhem), so I wanted to try to get a hold of Adam to see if I could possibly get work to do on his film.and I was on FB when I saw that he replies back to many people that ask him questions or comment on his stuff. So I just basically told him how much I love his work and thank you for all that he does on his podcast and that I would be willing to do a few shots for him on the project that he has upcoming for free. He replied back to me  and said that’s awesome and told me to get in touch with his .com contact page and message them to get on the books, and a few weeks later I got a message from the webpage saying that Adam would like to talk to me about an upcoming project that he was doing and we ended up having a Skype conversation for about half an hour where he unveiled that he was doing the 4th Hatchet movie. It was cool for it to be that because it was the most exciting thing that I could have worked on for him. It was gonna originally be 10 shots then it kept expanding to 15 then 25 to about 50 shots and then at the very end the opening sequence was kind of thrust at me and I finished that in about a week or two. For the first minute and a half of the film after the cold open, there’s a sequence, except he didn’t want to have an opening title he just wanted a sequence that basically gives you a summary of what happened in parts 1-3 and kind of a build-up to the 4th one. Like what happened to Victor Crowley up to that point. He was pretty open and let me be creative with what I wanted to do with it, which was cool especially since we only had about a week or two to do it. Finished it two days before the LA premiere which was pretty exciting.

The other project I am working on is a film about hockey and zombies, Ahockalypse. It is one of the weirdest and possibly funniest movies I have ever worked on and it does not take itself to seriously. It is basically about a zombie outbreak that happens during a championship hockey match. The team suddenly starts to realize what is happening kind of like Shaun of the Dead. But Ahockalypse takes it to a whole other level, Shaun of the Dead seems pretty tame in comparison. They get into some weird situations and you get to meet a lot of very interesting characters trying to survive the zombie hordes. It has an appearance by big-time hockey player Barry Melrose (NHL player for the Toronto Maple Leafs and former coach of the LA Kings). There’s kung-fu zombies and zombie kids in some really interesting scenes. Hopefully, it will be done in the next month or two and released by the end of the year. I did the editing and VFX on this one.

Another project is Corpse Tub that is being produced by Elijah Wood. His production company, Company X does some really interesting indie films. It also has MarVista Entertainment and Tamperclean Films. It has an amazing cast, Dan Harmon (Community, Arrested Development) is in it and Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok), Sam Huntington (Detroit Rock City, Fanboys) Kate Micucci (Will and Grace, The Big Bang Theory) and so many other great comedic actors. It’s about a small-town couple finds the perfect apartment in the big city, except there’s one catch: the apartment is home to the ritualistic suicides of a deranged cult that keep happening in the tub. I don’t know too much more on that one, only did about 25 shots but what I have seen is hilarious and I am really looking forward to that one.

BlackCreek_TapedUp, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Black Creek, TapedUp, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Also worked on Black Creek that was done by the same producer as AhockalypseCraig Patrick (Zombie Spring Breakers), but this one was done first. It is about a troubled young man and his brash sister are terrorized by signs that an ancient Native-American spirit, awakened by a ritual murder, has marked them for death.

BlackCreek_Possession, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Black Creek, Possession, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Like one of those films where the killer transfers from body to body so it is hard to identify the real killer. It is with Chris O’Flyng who created his own amazing YouTube channel. VFX and editing on this one.

Jeremy also worked on Dementia 13 which has the amazing Julia Campanelli (Walking Away, Pink Moon) about a vengeful ghost, a mysterious killer, and a family where everyone has a secret converge in one night of terror in this remake of Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature film. Jeremy was the lead compositor/lead visual effects artist for it.
Dementia13_01_BeforeVFX

Dementia13, BeforeVFX

Dementia13_01_AfterVFX, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Dementia13, AfterVFX, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Dementia13_02_BeforeVFX

Dementia13, BeforeVFX

Dementia13_02_AfterVFX, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Dementia13, AfterVFX, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

HoTS: So then I asked Jeremy how he got into doing all of this amazing work.
JW: Since I was young I always wanted to tell stories in one way or another. I got my first video camera and I shot a lot of horror. I was always into violent things like Mortal Kombat and other similar video games. The fighting games kind of shaped my influences. I made a lot of fighting movies with my friends and I liked every part of it. Directing, writing, editing, and VFX came naturally because we couldn’t really afford anything and it was always just easier to do it in post, to manipulate it however I wanted.
HoTS: Then I wanted to know about what films influenced his work.
JW: Some of my favorite horror films are Jaws, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hatchet, and Behind the Mask, which influenced me more than any other because it was so unique and it was super fun and playful. The John Carpenter version of The Thing, Hellraiser, and Final Destination. One of my favorite directors is M. Night Shyamalan. He always gets a bad rap which I think is because he made The Sixth Sense which was nominated for an Oscar and people expected so much from him. Maybe too much. Signs is one of my faves and he is definitely back on track with Split and the upcoming Glass. Jurassic Park really made me want to do FX. I remember being in a doctors office and I saw a magazine that had a picture of the T-Rex and I was so amazed at how good it looked and when I saw it on screen I was blown away. Some others are Terminator 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, Dumb & Dumber, and Pulp Fiction.

For editing, it would be Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Series, Touch of Evil). His lessons, teachings, and his book In The Blink Of An Eye where he talks about how to cut from one shot to the next. He realized when he was editing one of his movies he noticed he wanted to cut close to when someone was about to blink and the reason for that is when someone is having a conversation and they blink, “And that blink will occur where a cut could have happened had the conversation been filmed. Not a frame earlier or later.” I also really like Kirk Baxter (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, The Social Network) that David Fincher uses. His workflow that he uses is the same one that I emulate. I have a lot of connection to his work. Also Alfred Hitchcock, and Mike Flanagan for (Oculus, Hush, and Ouija: Origin of Evil).

Jeremy Wanek, VFX artistI and the House of Tortured Souls really want to thank Jeremy for taking time out from his extremely busy schedule to talk with us and share the 411 on some amazing new films and shorts! Looking forward to seeing so more of his work in the future!
BlackCreek_Skulls, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Black Creek, Jeremy Wanek, VFX artist

Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, EXCLUSIVE, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PARANORMAL, PREQUELS AND SEQUELS, REMAKES AND REBOOTS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
HoTS LIVE! with Writer/Director PJ Starks of Volumes of Blood

HoTS LIVE! with Writer/Director PJ Starks of Volumes of Blood

Woofer from House of Tortured Souls to introduce our first HoTS LIVE! of 2018. Tonight John Roisland interviews writer, director, producer, executive producer, husband, father, actor, and man about town, PJ Starks, whose 2015 horror anthology Volumes of Blood is a love letter to and about horror that resonated throughout the horror-loving community.

PJ Starks (director, Volumes of Blood) and Woofer McWooferson

PJ Starks (director, Volumes of Blood) and Woofer McWooferson

John and PJ talk about horror, the weather, life, the universe, and everything, so you won’t want to miss the answers to questions about these and other topics – questions you didn’t even know existed.

Without further ado, John and PJ.

Volumes of Blood (2015)

Watch the trailer for Volumes of Blood (2015):

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016)

Watch the trailer for Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016):

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Ben Young, Writer/Director of Hounds of Love (2016)

INTERVIEW: Ben Young, Writer/Director of Hounds of Love (2016)

Following the huge international success of Australian writer and director Ben Young’s film Hounds of Love (2016), the House of Tortured Souls’ own Michelle MIDI Sayles had the opportunity to ask him some questions regarding his films, cast, changes in his life since the release of Hounds of Love, and the Australian Film Industry.
House of Tortured Souls: Recently you have gained a lot of success with your brilliant film Hounds of Love. How has that felt coming from such humble beginnings in Western Australia?
Ben Young: It’s truly is very surreal. At best I hoped perhaps the film would get in a festival or two. It was a real surprise and very humbling to have it premiere at Venice and receive the response it did. Less than a year after shooting, I was in Serbia making a US production with 20 times the budget and actors whose work is been admiring for years. Feels weird even to think about the crazy ride!
Hounds of Love (2016)

Emma Booth as Evelyn White and Stephen Curry as John White in Ben Young’s Hounds of Love (2016)

HoTS: The direction and plot of Hounds of Love echoes the infamous Birnie’s case and other profiles of killer couples, how much of an interest in the element of true crime do you have yourself?
BY: It’s not based on any particular crime/s. I read a book on woman serial murderers and found the psychology of female killers to be very different from that of males. In further research, I found 9 cases involving couples who killed together. It was a subject I hadn’t seen explored in film before so decided to give it a crack. I’m interested in realism on screen so for that reason and often drawn to true crime. For me, a story is all the more engaging if there is an element of truth to it.
HoTS: Your stars Stephen Curry, Emma Booth, and Ashleigh Cummings each have been very kind and praising towards your approach to them throughout the filming process, and it is very well reflected in their amazing performances. How did you find such phenomenal talent for Hounds of Love?
BY: I was lucky really. I wrote the film for Emma. We’ve been buds for 20 years and I truly believe her to be one of the greatest acting talents on the planet. She initially turned the role down but for one reason or another changed her mind at the last minute.
Steve was never [who] I thought of [for the part] but was suggested by our wonderful casting director Anousha. I right away loved the idea because he does not come across like your typical serial killer, which in reality most of them do not. He wanted to do the role and he and I had a long chat. He’s gracious and charming and agreed to audition. After his first take, it was pretty clear I was going to be lucky to have him.
Ashleigh was the last to come to the party. Strangely I’d used pictures of her from Puberty Blues (2012) in my pitch document but thought she was a little old for the character. When she came in and tested I was speechless. There’s something so artificial about the audition process, but somehow Ash was able to transform immediately and deliver a take worthy of the film in that bright little room in Sydney just minutes after meeting me. She was so good, I thought it worth changing the character a little for.
HoTS: Hounds of Love has received some impressive accolades so far already, especially for your leading ladies and yourself. Why do you think so far Stephen Curry (whose performance was equally beyond amazing) hasn’t received the same?
BY: All awards are a lottery! It depends on who you’re against, who’s judging and what kind of a mood they’re in. I think a film like this about women is not so common, so the female themes may have distracted from him. Also, it was a phenomenal year for Australian film with strong male performances in many bigger films that received much wider distribution. It’s hard for the little guy to be noticed!
Hounds of Love (2016)
HoTS: Do you plan to continue making films in Australia or will we see you moving to LA in the future?
BY: I’ve been in LA for the better half of a year working on the new film, BUT I’ll be back in Australia very soon to work on a film I’m very excited about.
HoTS: You’re currently working on your newest project Extinction, can you tell us a little bit about it?
BY: It’s a story about a dude who must reconnect with his family emotionally if he’s to save them from an otherworldly invasion. We shot in Serbia during the first half of 2017 and I’m just finishing it up now. I worked with Michael Pena, Lizzy Caplan, Emma Booth, Mike Colter, Israel Broussard and many other great actors on it. It was fun to try my hand at science fiction and together with the team, I’ve tried hard to make something a little different which I hope an audience appreciates.
Ben Young, writer/director, Hounds of Love (2016)

Ben Young, writer/director, Hounds of Love (2016)

HoTS: What do you think of the Australian movie scene itself, and its rise in popular culture within the last decade through filmmakers like Greg McLean, Leigh Whannell and James Wan and even the likes of Joel and Nash Edgerton?
BY: I think it’s really hard to make films in Australia. It’s really great to see filmmakers like those you’ve mentioned really making a name for themselves internationally. I hope it continues that way. In Australia, you’re very unlikely to get rich from film, so I feel like the filmmakers we have a driven by passion which comes across in their work ethic.
HoTS: What advice can you give to any filmmaker around the globe working on projects right now, within the independent film market?
BY: Be bold. Make choices that are risky and be true to your own vision. No one wants to see another version of Hounds of Love or anything else so find your own story and tell it in a way that only you could. To break through your film must have an element that makes it stand out amongst others in its genre. This will come from bold choices.
It might sound obvious, but cast good actors and pay them. Even if you don’t pay yourself. One off performance and the whole world you are creating will come tumbling down.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in INTERVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
Letranger Absurde: Interview With A Lego Builder Extraordinaire

Letranger Absurde: Interview With A Lego Builder Extraordinaire

You can find all the vignettes in this album –
Hey horror fans, Horrormadam here with an amazing artist! Letranger Absurde from Romania makes the most creative and innovative Lego displays of our favorite scenes from horror movies! I was so captivated by his work that I had to go on a search to find the man who crafted these true to form pieces. I found him fortunately when I found the Bricktastic Blog where he was in the Builder Spotlight. I reached out to him and he was extremely kind enough to answer my questions so that we here at House of Tortured Souls could take you on a behind the scenes look into the world of Lego building.
House of Tortured Souls: So you are from Romania I saw with rolug (Romanian LEGO® Users Group), is the Lego culture any different than in the US?
Andrei: I can only speak about the US culture from what I’ve noticed through online interactions, so I may be off the mark, but people seem to be more receptive to novelty and pop culture in general, so a hobby like this is easier to accept and get into. Around here they’re more… traditional, for the lack of a better word; the association Lego = toy makes many people frown at the idea and stops them from being able to take it seriously; it also makes adult fans buy them under the guise of buying for their children and keep their passion as a dirty little secret, but things seem to be changing lately – only in the last year our lug doubled it’s number of active members if I’m not mistaken. Another thing I noticed is that people around here (and Europe in general) tend to lean towards Lego technic more – the side of Lego dealing with functions with little care for the aesthetics (remote controlled cars, moving cranes and so on).
HoTS: Why did you choose to make scenes from horror films?
Andrei: I’ve been a horror fan for most of my life (since I was 8 or 9), so it would have happened one way or another. But the decision to make a series was due to the poor representation the genre had in the community. Aside from some builds here and there, mostly dealing with the mainstream, you could find mainly pictures of mini-figures (customs in general) with no focus on scenes and plenty of generic Halloween builds so I wanted to try and change that.
HoTS: How do you choose the scenes?
Andrei: I mostly build what I like, but there are other factors that come into play. I tried to keep a balance between popular and lesser-known movies to maintain the audience’s interest with the familiar ones and hopefully draw their attention to the ones they haven’t seen. Also, no matter how much I like a movie, it needs a scene that translates well both into the new medium and into a purely visual vignette, since horror tends to rely a lot on atmosphere, sounds, lights, music, camera angles and so on – remove all that and you’re left with something very bland and boring in many cases. For example, I wanted to add Halloween to the list, but I can’t find a scene that would make an interesting build. And finally, having close enough mini-figure parts to build the characters, especially the villain; it’s one of the main parts I wanted to get right.
HoTS: Do you custom design any of the pieces or are they all available from Lego?
Andrei: This is one of the bigger divides in the Lego community – altered parts or limiting your self to available ones. I chose to stick with available parts for a number of reasons: It’s the popular choice and the standard for any contests and such; it offers a great gauge to judge the quality of builds since everybody has access to the exact same tools of the trade. Actually, I can’t really give a good reason here, except that it just seems right, it’s Lego building after all and altering parts feels closer to sculpting. 🙂
Also, part use is something appreciated in the community in general, meaning using parts in interesting, unintended ways; let’s take Audition, for example, to stick with the horror theme:
Letranger Absurde Lego Audition
The couch pillows used in here are hats from this painter mini-figure:

And the tablecloth is the ruff from this fella:
Letranger Absurde Lego Shakespeare
Other examples from Evil Dead:
Letranger Absurde The Evil Dead
The Necronomicon is made from the printed eyes of the gorilla:
Letranger Absurde Unaussprechlichen Kulten
And the moose head is made from a brown frog and a helmet decoration:
Letranger Absurde Lego FrogLetranger Absurde Lego Moose Helmet
Not the most exciting or creative examples, but this wasn’t my focus in the horror series; hopefully they give a rough idea on what I’m trying to say; not sure how interesting this bit is for someone outside the hobby.
HoTS: What are some of your favorite horror films?
Andrei: I’ve always had a soft spot for Italian horror (Argento, Fulci, Bava); there’s so much creativity and they have a very distinctive style. Some of the most memorable soundtracks as well. I also love the lavish decors and atmosphere of Hammer films. Although despite my love for hammer, as far as vampires go, Subspecies is my favorite series, proof you don’t need doll vampires to make a proper vamp movie – and that’s coming from someone who likes doll vamps! I have to add The Wicker Man to the list as well, one of the most effective movies I’ve ever seen. As far as slashers go, one of my favorites is The Hills Run Red; sure, it’s got some problems, but it’s best moments are enough to get over the lows. And anything with Vincent Price in it. Won’t bother mentioning mainstream classics like Alien or Exorcist, sure, plenty of them on the list, but I see no point mentioning the ones pretty much everyone loves.
HoTS: What all horror themes have you done and any plans for new ones in the future?
Andrei: I have done other horror related builds over time (some were utter garbage unfortunately, I’ll throw in a few of the better ones) – the Necronomicon and Unaussprechlichen Kulten (Unaussprechliche Kulte would be the German for “unspeakable cults”) books (hoping to add Eibon (Soul Eater: Eibon is based directly based from the sorcerer of the same name from Clark Ashton Smith’s short story “The Door to Saturn“) to the list soon.
Letranger Absurde Necronomicon
Letranger Absurde Unaussprechlichen Kulten
– some Halloween builds, like the witch mosaic, the vampire couple, some busts
Letranger Absurde Boo Bitchcraft
Letranger Absurde Lego Come in for a bite

Letranger Absurde Lego Dracula Bust
Letranger Absurde Lego Frankenstein Monster Bust
– a larger scale build of the classic IT scene
Letranger Absurde IT

Andrei: Of course, I’ll continue building in the genre and I’m going to continue the vignette series soon. One of the things I’ve had on my list for a while is the lobby from Suspiria, but sourcing the parts in the right colors quite difficult and expensive. Plenty of movies from what I’ve mentioned in my favorites are on the list as well.
HoTS: Are they very hard to do, and are they time-consuming?
Andrei: In general neither, but it depends on what you’re trying to do and the complexity you aim for. Size is also a factor, but not necessarily the biggest one; you can spend more time shaping, reshaping and polishing a tiny part of a build than it takes building a castle, so it’s also up to you how much time you want to dedicate to each build. The vignettes I’ve done in the horror series were done in an afternoon/evening; at most spread over the course of 2 days; my aim here was to make them simple and accessible, yet recognizable. The biggest factor is the parts; if you don’t have what you want and have to order them, waiting for them to arrive can extend the project for weeks and is definitely the most annoying bit. But I suppose that’s true for every other hobby when it comes to sourcing the “materials”.
HoTS: I saw that your favorite one is Room With a View, what is your favorite horror one and why?
Andrei: I’m going to go with the crowd favorite here, The Exorcist. Not only was it the one that started it all, it just seemed to flow effortlessly into the new medium. Maybe I’m biased a bit towards the subject as well. Although in a way the series started a year or so before this one with the Predator vignette I’ve done back in 2015, I chose not to make it part of the series as it’s pretty mediocre and isn’t a scene directly from the movie. I’ll most likely redo this down the road.
Letranger Absurde Predator
This is one of the real benefits of working with Lego – you can always take apart a model and redo it – and the parts are there to reuse. You don’t have to deal with consumables. Or you can simply alter a few details. Maybe a new part is released that works better than what you used before, nothing stops you from replacing it. Or your skill grows with time and you figure out a better way to do things. I constantly do this with the models I have on display, I like the fact that it’s all pretty dynamic and keeps things fresh, instead of just shoving them on the shelf and let them gather dust.
HoTS: Legos are pretty pricey, how do you afford to make these?
Andrei: To some, it may seem like I’m keeping everything I do, but the opposite is true; I only have a few smaller pieces on display, the norm is built, dismantle, repeat. I only keep larger builds intact for a longer period if they’re made for exhibits.
Andrei: There are a couple of ways to get your hands on cheap parts, the easiest is buying multiples sets when they are heavily discounted and sell/trade the excess/useless bits, but this doesn’t get you exactly the parts you need. Being a part of a lug also has it benefits, allowing you to purchase cheap parts in large quantities directly from Lego, but you have little room for diversity and it happens only 2-3 times a year. It’s still a big help. The rare and specific parts I get from Bricklink. BrickLink is a venue where individuals and businesses from all around the world can buy and sell new, used, and vintage LEGO through fixed price services.
Andrei: There’s also the opportunity to get parts straight from brand stores, but I have no access to that in my area, unfortunately.
HoTS: Will you ever sell any of your pieces, or do you ever take commissions? Told my boss about you and he now wants a Lego Haunted House like on our logo. ?
Andrei: Neither, although I’ve been getting requests every now and then. I would be open to it, the issue is sourcing the parts; I don’t have the opportunity to get them locally for a decent price, so I have to get most of them from international sellers and the shipping costs alone are overkill on multiple orders. I may end up doing it someday, but for now, I’m happy with it being just a hobby. There are plenty of talented builders in the community taking commissions, so you can pretty much find the right person for any subject; although each of us has our own little touches and style so it’s a good idea to be familiar with their work beforehand.
So I want to give a huge thank you to Andrei for myself and everyone here at the House of Tortured Souls! His answers were very illuminating and insightful and they made me want to go out and start building my own Lego creations. I hope you enjoyed this, readers, and that you will go out and start making your own horror creations!
Posted by Horrormadam in EXCLUSIVE, FEATURED ARTIST, HALLOWEEN, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, STAFF PICKS, VAMPIRES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Writer/Director Jared Cohn

INTERVIEW: Writer/Director Jared Cohn

Where we talk Dead AfterLife, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Serial Killers, and Mental Fitness

Jared Cohn We're All Animals - chilling / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

Horrormadam here, guys, and I had the privilege of interviewing actor/director Jared Cohn. Best known for 13/13/13, Hulk Blood Tapes, and Feed the Devil for acting and Hold Your Breath, The Horde (which got a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes), and Little Dead Rotting Hood for his directing.
For those who do not know yet, Dead AfterLife is a currently in development film written by Michael Joy. And Michael knows horror, he is the CEO of Marketing Macabre, CEO of Joyhorror Entertainment, Director of Marketing for Artsploitation Films (that just released Red Christmas starring Dee Wallace), and Operations Manager for Horrornews.net. I am really looking forward to Dead Afterlife because of its unique and interesting premise. Imagine watching your own funeral as a ghost and then the unthinkable happens, your undead body climbs out of your coffin and starts killing and eating your friends and family. Pharmaceutical Scientist, Donald Conlee faces this conundrum after he’s murdered and is administered his own “Awake”, super drug. His death was only the beginning of his problems. The Gatekeeper has given Donald a time limit to return his Zombie-self to the ground, or else his soul can never gain entrance into Heaven. To complicate matters, he finds out that his murderer is at the funeral and his girlfriend is in grave danger. How can a couple of disgruntled gravediggers and a hearse driver help Donald’s lost soul find the way? Or maybe the real question is how can the spirit world defeat the living dead?

Jared Cohn on Stepmother / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

House of Tortured Souls: Is that an amazing premise or what? I asked Director Jared Cohn about this budding horror film.
Jared Cohn: I am a big fan of Michael Joy and looking forward to working with him, he is plugged into the horror community. Look this is a really cool story we got ghosts vs zombies, we got amazing talent on board to act in this. This project is gonna be a bad ass horror movie, straight up. It’s ghosts and zombies fighting each other, it’s gore there’s lots of blood, there is death and a funeral, it can’t lose.

Jared Cohn working on set / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

And Jared wasn’t kidding about the amazing talent. They just signed on Dee Wallace (Cujo, The Howling), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Bill Moseley (The Devils Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses), Kane Hodder (Victor Crowley in Hatchet, and Jason Voorhees from some of the Friday the 13th films), Bill Oberst Jr. (Scream Queens, Priest), David Gere (Bleed For This), Andy Gates (Garden Party Massacre), David Vescio (Hick), Mindy Robinson (Lizzie Borden’s Revenge), WWE wrestling star Diamond Dallas Page( Devil’s Rejects), And first timer professional wrestling legend,The Universal Heartthrob, Austin Idol.
Jared Cohn with William Shatner / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

Jared Cohn with William Shatner

HoTS: I was really excited about the prospect of seeing ghosts fighting the living dead on film and asked Jared about that.
JC: I am a fan of practical effects and I would also love to incorporate some CGI to enhance the ghosts visually. Really want to do something cool and a little different if we really want it to be scary and to pay homage to some of the great classics. That would go a long way towards making it look cool, make it look good. But in order to do that, you have to rely on the resources that are available. Which some could consider a cop out answer but it’s true. I would love someone like Vincent Guastini (Under The Bed, Requiem For A Dream, V/H/S Viral, and The Dark Tapes), he does creature suits, ghosts, zombies, makeup. To get someone like him on board would be amazing, but he is not cheap. But he would make amazing looking ghosts and zombies, those are the kind of things you need obviously if you want that big budget look, you need those premium people. We are still waiting on the financing to go through though but it is getting a lot of press so it is just a hurry up and wait game, but I am extremely excited to get going.

Jared Cohn sunlight / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

HoTS: I then had to ask Jared about a film that I saw on IMDB that he is directing that is in post-production called Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash because I am a fan of the band and found this title so intriguing.

JC: I got the movie shot, there are just some legal difficulties going on. Kind of waiting until March to see whats going on with that one. I’m very proud of that movie so I am really hoping it can see the light of day. It happened because of Cleopatra Entertainment, I love those guys. They gave me great opportunities to make movies, big fan of that company. I am going to be doing some music videos for them that I am very excited about. I used to do a lot of music videos back in the day in New York. I like getting back to my roots. I used to do more cinematography, stunts, editing, and camera work and lately I have been focusing on acting and directing but it is so great to go back and relearn everything and expand.

Jared Cohn on set / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

When researching the film, I found that Jared wrote the film from a story by Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle. It depicts the band’s tragic history centering on Pyle and his experiences of the events surrounding the chartered-plane crash on October 20, 1977, that killed original band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, Steve’s sister. An assistant road manager and the two pilots also died in the crash after the plane ran out of fuel over Mississippi after the final show of the Street Survivors tour. Ian Shultis, Taylor Clift, Samuel Kay Forrest and Rich Dally III have been cast in the film and the legal battle continues.
HoTS: Next, I asked Jared about his film Death Pool starring Sara Malakul Lane (Jailbait, Kickboxer Vengeance), Randy Wayne (Hellraiser Judgement, Hold Your Breath), James Cullen Bressack (Bethany), and Shawn C. Phillips (WTF!, Cannibal Cop). I just loved how this film dealt with the whole cult of personality. The premise is this:
Johnny Taylor has a big problem: he LOVES to drown good-looking girls. When he sees water and attractive females together, something in his head begs him to kill – the psychological result of a traumatic near-drowning during his childhood at the hands of a twisted babysitter. Fighting the urge to act on his sinister thoughts most of his adult life, Johnny finally succumbs to his dark instincts when the only work he can find is around water, cleaning pools. Filled with colorful characters, beautiful women and set against the backdrop of the LA party scene, Death Pool encapsulates the desire for fame, the lust for desire, and the urge to kill.

JC: I think that was one of the more interesting movies that I have made, it had a message. Social media, fame, the upsides and the downsides, and the reactions of people to someone who is killing people. There are a lot of serial killer groupies. It’s nutty, but in a weird way it is understandable also. There are many people out there that are contemplating killing someone, not that they go out and do it but it’s the idea. To analyze the psyche behind those people who do these things, those that find that extreme violence is their only outlet is interesting.
Jared Cohn on set with William Shatner / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

Jared Cohn on set with William Shatner

HoTS: I also asked him about who his directing influences might be.
JC: I think that Alejandro Inarritu (Amores Perros, Birdman, The Revenant) and Damian Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) have really great style. There are so many great and talented people out there.
HoTS: We then talked about what he is doing for 2018:
JC: I am keeping positive, focusing on mental health, and spirituality. You can be the busiest and most successful person in the world, but if you are not feeling great mentally, physically, and spiritually, you cant get your best work done. So I am trying to raise awareness, you know, help people who feel like they could use a boost in life. I would like to give back rather than just make movies. I would like to help people. Many people are suffering quietly, and I want them to know that they are not alone. If I can do something in that regard, it makes me feel better. Not that this is about me, I just want to give back. I’ve made some mistakes. I have some regrets, so I understand the challenges. It is good to talk about, doing interviews, and talking about various movies and being able to bring awareness to the problem of people’s mental health.
Lastly but cool as hell is the fact that Jared became a licensed FAA 107 certified drone remote pilot for taking absolutely stunning aerial shots for filmmaking and commercial use. Check out Drone-Shots.net to find out what’s available. He is also a Pro-paintballer and a black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate.

Jared Cohn with drone / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

Please check out more on him at:
Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, EXCLUSIVE, FEATURED CONTENT, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Original Pennywise Designer Bart Mixon

INTERVIEW: Original Pennywise Designer Bart Mixon

You may not know his name, but if you are a horror fan, you’ve seen his work. Bart Mixon is best known for creating the now iconic makeup for Tim Curry’s dancing clown Pennywise. Among the other movies to his credit are RoboCop, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Rings, and the Netflix film Bright. Bart, along with Heather A. Wixson, Steve Johnson, Michele Burke, Gabe Bartalos, Tom Woodruff, Jr., Jennifer Aspinall, John Goodwin, and Rick Lazzarini, will be doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies this Saturday, and I was granted an exclusive interview with Bart Mixon about his epic career.
House of Tortured Souls: I read in an interview that the hardest part of the job is just getting it. With your amazing resume, does the work ever just come to you now?
Bart Mixon: When I did that interview, I owned my own shop so I was trying to bid on shows, and I think that was more in reference to that. Lately (in the past twenty years), I have been doing mainly set with application work for other guys, such as Rick Baker on The Grinch, Planet of the Apes (2001), and Men In Black 2 and 3, so I’m not key in the show as much anymore. But yeah, I get work from a lot of my friends these days. Like I was just doing Bright a year ago, but it just came out, and I got that job from a friend Chris Nelson whom I’ve known for twenty years. When he got that show, he was like, “Hey, wanna help me apply it?” So it does seem like a lot of it these days is more either contacts I’ve made or I guess I have enough of a reputation that the work comes to me. It’s not to say if something cool is going on that I won’t make a few phone calls or make a few suggestions, but yeah, it doesn’t seem like I have to beat the doors down like in the 80s or 90s.
HoTS: How much interaction with the directors do you have? For example, you just did Guardians of the Galaxy II by former Troma alumni James Gunn. I could see him being a fan of your past work.
BM: Actually I didn’t have much contact with him. Depending on the show I’m working on, for example on Men in Black 3, I was doing the main villain Boris for Rick Baker, so I was with Rick and Barry Sonnenfeld and others. But a show like Guardians, I was on it for about 12 weeks or so but pretty much I was just doing midground and background characters, so I really didn’t have a chance to interact with Gunn that much. I mean, Legacy was in charge of the prosthetics for part two, and they put the teams together for who was doing the Nebula or Drax. By the time I got on set, I was just doing mid ground characters. But no, I didn’t have much contact with Gunn. However, in that same vein, when the new IT came out, Chris Nelson (who I did Bright with) was doing a virtual reality promotional film for the film (IT), and he (Nelson) asked me to apply the Pennywise makeup. Then, when the director heard that one of us had done the original Pennywise, he was very interested in talking with me. He was a fan of the original and was like, ‘Oh cool you worked on the first one’, so I showed him my notebook with all my Pennywise photos – that sort of thing. So in that instant, he was a fan and that was flattering.
HoTS: Your first big project was A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Where you did the Freddy coming out of Jesse’s body? Do you recall how long that sequence took to pull off?
BM: I think we had about 11 weeks from start to finish – when we did our first meetings and storyboards and what not to when we shot. Most of our effects were shot were on the last two days of filming the movie because it was all the Freddy bursting out of Jesse, and we had so much to build that we basically told him that it had to be the last stuff they shot because we needed every day that we could get. I recall staying up 40 hours straight getting everything ready for the first day of that two-day shoot.

HoTS: Did you work on anything else or just that scene?
BM: We also did the mechanical tongue that Jesse has when he’s making out with his girlfriend, so things like that we did earlier in the shoot, and there might have been one or two other little things that worked prior to that transformation, but 99% of what we built was that sequence.
HoTS: You’ve worked on bigger budget films and lower ones. Would you say having a bigger budget is easier or do you have more freedom in the small production?
BM: Defiantly on a small shows either time or money can certainly be more of an issue, but I guess you have to be a little more creative, like when I was doing stuff in Texas before I moved to LA, I might have known the right way to do something, but I maybe couldn’t either find the material or have the money to do it that way, so I would have to come up with an alternatives. I guess it forces you to be more inventive and resourceful, but sometimes too if they don’t have the time or money to do it, then it doesn’t get done at all and that can be frustrating. I think I’ve become a little spoiled working on the number of Rick Baker shows that I did because he always saw to getting things scheduled and having the time and budget to get do the project right. And, of course, after you get used to doing things the correct way and you get thrown into other situations where you don’t have that luxury, it can be frustrating. For example, the prosthetics that came out of Rick’s shop or other shops, like Vincent Van Dyke, they make beautiful prosthetics, and when you are on set applying their stuff, 99% of the time it’s going to be a nice piece, whereas, and I can’t name any names (laugh), but some other shows things might not be good such as the edges might not be what they should be or whatever and your kind of like, ‘Why is this made this way?’ And that can be frustrating – like being handed a pile of ‘whatever’ and trying to make it work. Like I said, I don’t want to name any names because a lot of these guys I’ve worked with are my friends and whatnot. But sometimes that’s due to budget and sometimes it’s just how things are designed, and you don’t always have input on how things go together. That was one of the nice things on Bright. You’ve seen Bright?

Bright (2017)

HoTS: Yeah. I really liked it.
BM: Oh good, I did too. Well, the initial test that they did on that, everybody wants to do everything in silicone these days. That’s just like the go-to material. But it would have been very impractical to do that movie with silicone, and when Chris did the first test, he made the prosthetics out of silicone and quickly realized that this was going to be more of a headache. Then whatever advantage you might have been getting from silicone, which I don’t know if there really was any. So after that first test, they decided that foam latex would be the better way to go, so thankfully the shop listened and that’s what we did. So when you get into a show early enough and where you can have input on the ways things should be executed, that’s always preferable. Again, some shows will afford you that luxury and other shows don’t, quite frankly. So, like on Bright, there was enough time to retool their thinking to go to foam latex and, again, when we did a couple of tests, for example, the way we were doing ears on Joel [Edgerton], we changed those after the second test just to make them more user friendly. They were very concerned about not getting the makeup applied in a certain amount of time, so we came up with suggests which would expedite it whereas the makeup might not have been originally designed that way. So some shows you know you have the schedule and budget to try things and rethink things and other shows you don’t.
But in general, yeah, it’s great to have a budget. Another example: I had the job of (the character) Vision on the new Avengers movie, and we had the time and the budget to rework the cowl that Paul Bettany wears because there were some comfort issues on Civil War that we were able to address in this new Avengers movie. But, then again, some of the most fun I’ve had, like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, were smaller budgets – especially compared to things I’ve worked since then (laughs). Or the Rob Zombie movies with Wayne Toth. I had a pretty good time because I was working with friends.
HoTS: Speaking of iconic 80s films, you worked on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. How did you get hired for that job?
BM: I was part of Tom Savini’s crew and I was living in Houston at the time. I had been corresponding with Savini since before Creepshow, so I was trying to get on the show but wasn’t having much luck. But my brother was living in California at the time and knew some of the people on Tom’s crew, and they’d already been in Austin for a week or two setting up, and I believe it was John Vulich who suggested that, “Tom isn’t going to hire you over the phone, but if you go to Austin and have a meeting with him, he’ll hire you”.
HoTS: What specifically did you do for that job?
BM: By the time I came on, which was a week or two into it, the main characters like Chop Top had already been doled out to various artists, so I was doing lab work. I ran a lot of foam latex, made some molds. In the film, somebody gets their hand cut off. We did a prosthetic on an amputee, and we sculpted the pieces for that. The guy had recently lost his hand, so when John Vulich applied the severed stump to him, the guy freaked out and literally ran away so we weren’t able to shoot him for the movie. I also helped Shawn McEnroe  apply makeup to Chop Top, and I also did a lot of set work. Probably the most visible thing I did in the movie was on Leatherface, doing work above his eyes and mouth before we put the mask on him. I was mainly watching set, so I would do the day to day makeup like the sores on his lips. That was like an out of the kit makeup, this material which is like a scar plastic you can build up wounds and stuff.

Tobe Hooper on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

HoTS: This was the first and, I believe, only time you worked with Tobe Hooper. Any special memories of working with him?
BM: I remember he said I looked like Stephen King. I thought that was cute (laugh), and at the time, just the length of his hair and goatee, I thought he looked like Rick Baker. So we were like, “Hey, you look like Stephen King” and “Oh, you look like Rick Baker”. I remember I was removing the Chop Top makeup once, and I was working a brush under the prosthetic to loosen it, and Tobe was there, I guess talking to [Bill] Moseley and watching what I was doing. And I remember poking the brush through the prosthetic and it looked like it punched through the skin, and Tobe was kind of grossed out by that. I was like, “Really? Out of all the stuff we are doing in this movie (laugh), this seems odd that this would affect you.” I also remember there was this one shot where we were doing a scene where the girl (Caroline Williams) was tied to a chair at the end of the table and her makeup artist was coming in and giving her water in between takes because she was screaming so much. She left a cup of water on the table for one of the takes, and Tobe was really pissed off, understandably, about that. I remember him telling the script supervisor, “Make a note to the editor that his preferred take was the one with the cup in it” just to emphasize how displeased he was with it left in. I try to remember anything else, nothing more specific. I remember Dennis Hopper had a birthday on the set, and the little cake and a mini chainsaw that he was cutting the cake with was spitting oil all over the place, and nobody wanted to eat the cake because it had oil all over it. I think Dennis Hopper might have been a little high once and awhile. I remember the makeup girl trying to do his makeup, and she comes at him with the sponge and he flinches like kind of recoils, and he said “What are you doing?” and she was like “I’m doing your makeup”. He was like, “Oh, okay” and settles down. And she goes to do it again, and he flinches and again said, “What are ya doing?” and again she says, “I’m doing your makeup” (laughs), and he’s like, “Ohh, okay”, and this must have gone on for 15 minutes. (Laughs) I was thinking, ‘Yeah Dennis might be smoking something before he came to the trailer’ that day. But yeah, Tobe was a cool guy and seemed to know what he wanted. I was impressed with him and how he handled the set and whatnot, so it was defiantly a good experience.
HoTS: Now the thing you probably get asked about the most is designing Pennywise for the 90s miniseries. I read you started designs before Curry was cast?
BM: Yeah as much as I could. I mean, once I read the script, I started just kind of doing some doodles and some rough conceptual stuff. I know there are some pictures that showed up online of some of my early sketches. But I quickly found that without having the actor’s face that you are working on, it was kind of pointless at least in terms of specifics. I think I might have gotten some board strokes before Tim was cast, but a lot of that, especially a makeup like that, much is dictated by the actor’s face. So you can sit there and draw for weeks, but once you get your actor, you’d be like, “Okay, this isn’t going to work on him”. Again, I did a few just board strokes, concept type things, but luckily they cast Tim fairly early on, and I was able to focus my attention on making it work which is the features.
HoTS: And Curry wasn’t the first choice if I am remembering that correctly?
BM: Tommy doesn’t remember this, but maybe he wasn’t yet on board, but originally this was going to be a three-part six-hour miniseries, and at that time, I remember going [to] Fantasy 2 and asking who was going to be Pennywise. I remember at the time saying it was either going to be Tim Curry, Malcolm McDowell, or Roddy McDowall being considered. Tommy has since said in interviews he doesn’t recall that, but again it might have happened before he got on board. But certainly, I never did any design work for anybody but Tim Curry.

Bart Mixon concept art for Pennywise in 1990 IT miniseries

HoTS: Curry was not a big fan of prosthetics from what I read?
BM: He previously did the character Darkness (for Legend) and wore more prosthetics. I guess, yeah, he probably wanted to keep it as simple and as little as possible. I know at one point he was saying that he wouldn’t mind just having a rubber bald cap instead of the foam latex cranium that I had for him. I guess his whole concept of Pennywise was a little different than mine. For example, he was okay with the edges showing on the bald cap, like he was a guy wearing a clown makeup. But for me it was never a guy wearing a makeup; it was an illusion this creature was projecting, so it didn’t make sense to me to include flaws like that. The makeup that we used in the movie had a headpiece and a nose, and then, in additional tests there were cheekbones also. We tested both of those, and I could tell that Tim wasn’t too thrilled about wearing the cheeks, and again in hindsight I think it was the right decision, but I thought he looked good with them in the test. At the time, I sculpted the battery acid, he was going to be wearing those, but once we tested, we decided not to use them. And we didn’t have time to re-sculpt the makeup, and, for a while, they weren’t going to use it anyways. So yeah, he wanted to wear as little as possible. We had to have the headpiece on him, and plus I wanted the light bulb head, and Tommy Wallace wanted that, too. So we needed to build up his head a little bit. Also, to his credit, the whole battery acid look… we almost didn’t shoot that. When we did principal photography, we didn’t have time to put it on him, so we shot the scene without it and used the regular Pennywise look, and then Tim expressed some disappointment and said, “Well, you did this beautiful prosthetic. It’s a shame we aren’t going to be able to use it”, so they scheduled a day of additional photography at Fantasy II and Tim said if we could get it all in one day, that he would wear the battery acid look so we could do the inserts for that sequence. So it wasn’t that he was totally flat against prosthetics, otherwise he wouldn’t have volunteered to wear that, and the only reason that’s in the movie is because he graciously offered to wear it for that day. And I am forever grateful to him for that and, of course, that is a very memorable piece in the movie. Its almost as iconic as Pennywise himself, and that came very close to not being in the movie. Tim was a great guy, and I cannot say enough nice things about him. I’m glad they choose him.

Tim Curry as Pennywise in IT 1990 miniseries

HoTS: Had Curry not minded a lot of prosthetics, would you have gone another direction in the look?
BM: I did three designs, or what we call clay sketches, once we had Tim cast. Then we did a head cast of him, and I did three different designs. One was very heavy and almost covered his whole face. It was almost like one of those tramp or hobo clowns with the sculpted frown, and it had a lot more character in the face. The second was the one that we went with, and the third was somewhere in between, and just in conversations with the director, we choose the one we went with. Of the three looks, that’s the one that was picked, but it was originally supposed to have cheekbones to the chin. It was like a stylized Lon Chaney from The Phantom of the Opera, which is what I was going for. So had Tim been more open, we would have gone with the cheek and the chin, but we already eliminated the heavier makeup in the design process.

 

HoTS: King, I heard, wasn’t on set.
BM: I don’t know why he wasn’t on set. I’m not sure if nobody invited him or he didn’t want to go. And I know he was around The Stand and some of these other miniseries of some of his books, so I’m not really sure why he didn’t show up on ours. Maybe he was busy at that time. I don’t know.
HoTS: Did you meet him prior to IT?
BM: I never met him.
HoTS: So, I am dying to know what you thought of the new IT and the design of Pennywise.
BM: It was cool. I’m certainly fond of mine, but I thought they did a nice job. I did get to apply that one day for the promotional thing, and there were certainly some similarities to my makeup which probably couldn’t be avoided [with] it being a clown, but I thought it was different enough. I don’t envy [Bill] Skarsgård just having to follow Tim Curry. That must be a pretty daunting task for him, but yeah, I thought it was interesting as a makeup. I’m glad they did their own take on it, that they didn’t just copy mine even though I have friends that thought they copied it a little too much. I guess it has the bulbous head like mine, but that’s where the similarities end. Just as a movie, I thought they did a pretty good job. Mine was a TV movie from 1990; theirs is an R-rated feature in 2017, so obviously they can do stuff we weren’t allowed to do. For what I did, I think it was about three hours and five minutes long. By the time they do part two, it will probably come into about four and a half hours to cover the same territory, so I am kind of envious that they got another hour and a half to tell the same story and they are not restricted by the 1990 TV censorship as I was. But I’m really looking forward to part two. I got a lot of crap on mine for the spider at the end of ours, so I’m kind of curious to see what they do or if they are even going to do a spider, or if they are gonna chicken out and not do it at all. (Laughs) I have a feeling with all the references to the turtle in the first one, we are going to see the spider and turtle fight. That was in the book. So I wish them luck with that, but yeah, I’m looking forward to the second one. Actually, after the director met Chris and I, he said, “Oh maybe we should get you to do part two”, and I was like, “Hey you know where to find us”. So [we] will see, but I thought they did a good job. Some of the visuals in there I thought were really cool, like the scene with Georgie in the flooded basement and he’s standing in like ankle deep water and Pennywise comes up out of the water, which I thought made a nice supernatural element since obviously the water wasn’t deep enough for him to be completely submerged and yet he was. Or like when he was working Georgie like a hand puppet or when he ripped Georgie’s arm off – which is a scene we could only hint at. In our version, he is missing an arm but you can’t really tell.
HoTS: You’re doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies on Jan 13, 2018. The book is entitled Monster Squad about the art of monster makeup. Is this going to be a reunion for you with the other guests?
BM: Well, it depends. I’d have to look at the list to see who’s on there. Like I think Tom and Alex from ADI are going to be there, and I just saw them recently at Creature Features for a promotional thing. But most of these guys I’m certainly casual friends with but, unfortunately, with everybody’s schedule, we probably don’t see each other as much as we would like to. Certainly, there are some people that I’ve seen more recently than others.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

You can meet Mr. Bart Mixon at the Dark Delicacies book signing Jan 13, 2018.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Alistair Cross

INTERVIEW: Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross - Sleep Savannah SleepAlistair Cross, acclaimed author of such works as The Crimson Corset and his newest novel Sleep Savannah Sleep and co-host of Haunted Nights Live! a radio program broadcast on the Authors On The Air Global Radio Network with the equally amazing author Tamara Thorne, was kind enough to do an interview with me for my home here at House of Tortured Souls. Before I get to the interview, though, I would like to tell you more about his works.
Alistair Cross - The Crimson CorsetAbout The Crimson Corset: Welcome to Crimson Cove a cozy village in California where Cade Coulter, our protagonist, moves to live with his brother hoping for a peaceful life. Everything is idyllic until the sun sets and the little tourist town begins to show more night death than nightlife. At the very edge of town sits The Crimson Corset known for its crazy soirees and licentiousness, where people can indulge their every fantasy no matter how depraved or unacceptable. The only thing is is that the place is owned and operated by a vampire.
The owner, Gretchen VanTreese, wants to take out the Old World Vampires that also exist in the town so that she can be free to create a new race of vampires that she will rule. And Cade Coulter will have to fight this wicked and enticing vampire, even give up his own humanity to save the town and everyone that he loves.
I loved this book. There is nothing better than a great story infused with blood, violence, and gore. Let me show you some of the reviews so you can get an even better idea:
Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, The Crimson Corset-a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.
—Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of The Walking Dead: Invasion and Lucid.
Alistair Cross’ new novel The Crimson Corset…is taut and elegantly written taking us into the realms where the erotic and the horrific meet. Reminiscent of the work of Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla, Uncle Silas) in its hothouse, almost Victorian intensity, it tells a multi-leveled story of misalliance and mixed motives. The language is darkly lyrical, and the tale is compelling. Read it; you’ll be glad you did.
—Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of Saint-Germaine Cycle and the Chesterton Holt Mysteries.
Very nice heavy hitters for a debut book!
Alistair Cross - The Angel AlejandroHe has also written The Book of Strange Persuasions, The Angel Alejandro, and the aforementioned Sleep Savanah Sleep. Alistair has also collaborated on many books with the sensational Tamara Thorne as Thorne&Cross. Some of their joint titles include The Cliffhouse Haunting, Mother, The Witches of Ravencrest, and The Ghosts of Ravencrest.
Which brings me to the next bit about him. Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne started their own radio show called Haunted Nights Live! where they talk all things horror to some of the biggest names in the business. Featuring such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, and Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels.
So, now that we have established his illustrious credentials, let’s ask him some questions.
House of Tortured Souls: So, Alistair, what would you like people to know about you?
Alistair Cross: I am not a morning person: no, I will not help your sister move…and I prefer cats to most people.
HoTS: When I was doing research for this interview, I noticed on his website that in 1987 – He saw Carrie and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, wrote more stories (most of which featured an unmanageably extensive cast of talking cats). So sorry I missed that readers.
Next question Alistair: What are your horror influences?

AC: Stephen King, of course, who was my introduction to the genre back when I was barely 8 years old. I am also influenced by Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty, just to name a few.
HoTS: What did you do with your very first advance for a book??
AC: I just stared at it. A lot.
HoTS: What was your first scary movie?
AC: The first movie I remember being absolutely terrified by was Cujo. It still makes me a little uneasy.
HoTS: How do you write what you want without worrying about how your subject matter will be taken?
AC: As a horror author, I consider it my duty to shock and offend. There are few subjects I won’t touch on, animal cruelty for example because it’s not necessary and it’s too easy. But I don’t think about reader reaction when I’m writing. I write the stories I want to read and figure it is likely others out there will want to read them too.
HoTS: What is your spirit animal?
AC: Stevie Nicks is my spirit animal.
HoTS: Has anything in your books ever happened to you?
AC: While I’ve certainly never been lured into an underground lair of a seductive blond vampire or found an amnesiac angel in my koi pond after a violent storm, some of the events in my writing do come from personal experience. All fiction is rooted in truth, but I never set out to chronicle my own experiences. It’s about the characters and their stories, not mine. The only exception is Five Nights In a Haunted Cabin, a real-life account of an experience I had with my collaborator, Tamara Thorne.
HoTS: How did you and Tamara become writing partners?
AC: It’s an unusual story that began in the late 1990s when I came across Tamara’s novel Moonfall. I liked it so much, I got all of her books and began stalking her website via AOL dial-up because in my day we had to practice patience when we stalked people online. Several years later, after my first book was published, I began a blog dedicated to interviews with authors. Tamara Thorne was one of the first people I asked to be on my blog. She said yes and we hit it off enough that she asked me if I’d like to write a short story with her. That short story became a full-length novel, and that led to the next one and the one after that, and the rest is history. Writing with Tamara is one of the easiest, most natural things I have ever done and, at the risk of sounding corny, I believe it was simply meant to be.
House of Tortured Souls: And readers I thought it was only fair to reach out to Tamara Thorne and gets some fun stuff on Alistair from her:
Tamara Thorne: I love collaborating with Alistair. We spend our days working on Skype and when our cats start climbing us, we turn on the cameras. Alistair’s kitty, Pawpurrazzi, truly abuses him. I love watching the way she gives him kisses, then shoves her butt in his face. Those two are madly in love.
We write together in the Cloud and rarely recall who wrote what. After each day’s work – or after completing the first draft – my job is to read our words aloud. When we’re in edit mode, reading for hours can be pretty grueling, but my collaborator knows how to keep things lively. He moves ahead in the manuscript and adds lines so outrageous and rude that I fall apart – so does he. We relish our giggle breaks more than I can say. Once in a while, we leave an obscenity in to amuse our editors. The reactions are varied but hysterical.
So I cannot recommend these authors enough and I also cannot thank them enough for taking their time to answer some questions and share a few laughs. Below are some links for you to get to know and experience more of Alistair Cross and his partner in crime Tamara Thorne. And definitely, check out their radio broadcast.
Posted by Horrormadam in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, FICTION AND POETRY, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, PARANORMAL, PODCAST, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Brooke Lewis (2017)

INTERVIEW: Brooke Lewis (2017)

Brooke Lewis / Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

One of the Hardest Working Women in the Business

-Scream Queen, Amazing Actress, Author-

Hello readers, and thank you for joining me on another part of my series on celebrating the Gifted Heroines of Horror and Women in Film! I had the honor, joy, and just great time interviewing the most wondrous Scream Queen Brooke Lewis. When I say she is hardworking, I feel that I may be using that phrase inadequately. She is an actress, scream queen, Certified Life Coach and Dating Coach, Author, singer, producer, columnist, voice-over artist, has her own talk show/ web series, a clothing line, upcoming make-up line, and is also a hugely altruistic philanthropist. She makes me tired just thinking about it. One of my favorite things about her that we talked about is that she has a wonderful distinction in horror in that she has never been killed in a  horror film…yet.
Brooke is an award-winning actress who has starred in such films as the thriller iMurders (2008) with Gabrielle Anwar, William Forsythe, Tony Todd, Frank Grillo, Billy Dee Williams, and the amazing Charles Durning. Sinatra Club (2010) with Jason Gedrick, Danny Nucci, and Michael Nouri. And one of my new favorite shorts Sprinkles (2010).
House of Tortured Souls: Knowing she’s acted along such greats I asked her what some of those experiences were like I was especially interested in her work with Charles Durning known for being the King of Character Actors.
Brooke Lewis: You know I did five films with god rest his soul Charles Durning, yes I used to dine with the man. Adults really get it, Oscar-nominated for Dog Day Afternoon, When a Stranger Calls, TootsieCharles Durning. I mean are you kidding me? I have worked with Michael Pare: Eddie and the Cruisers, Streets of Fire, and The Philadelphia Experiment, he’s my friend. The legendary Billy Dee Williams: Mahogany, Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. I am not sure if the younger generation understands the magnitude of that. When I was a young girl, I was in high school and I was obsessed with Candyman and then I found out I was going to be starring next to Tony Todd, someone has got to be kidding me! I was so scared to be going on set but he is so great! The celebrity and fame have never changed him, he has done so much acting, even on Broadway. Tony is really more than meets the eye. Its crazy, I have gotten to work with both Costas and Loius Mandylor. Saw for Costas and My Big Fat Greek Wedding” for Louis.The thing is that they are just brilliant actors. One of my dearest kindred spirits is The Hills Have EyesSuze Lanier-Bramlett. She is like my soul sister. She was Bambi on Welcome Back Kotter, you know Barbarino’s girlfriend. We sit and talk about yesteryears, her life as an actress, being young and in Hollywood vs my experience and it is so scary. I don’t know if the younger generation of moviegoers will be able to distinguish between real stars of that era vs Youtube sensations with no real acting chops.You cant just get together with a few friends and spill ketchup on your boobs film it on your phone, dub yourself a Scream Queen and call it horror. Horror fans are way too intelligent for that. To know and understand the careers of people like Charles Durning or Billy Dee Williams or Margaret Colin and Larry Hankin from Home Alone may be out of their purview.
HoTS: I next asked Brooke about being a woman in horror and being a Scream Queen.

Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis
BL: I embrace being a Scream Queen. I earned it! I am very proud to be on any lists where the greats like Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau, and Dee Wallace along with the newer generation like my girls Felissa Rose and Debbie Rochon and the list goes on and on. As far as acting in horror, anything I have done in the horror genre is by choice. I am committed to a certain standard. People come up to me and are like but you did a film like Slime City Massacre? Yes, I did and thank you very much it won me the 2010 Golden Cobb award!

HoTS: And readers that was a hot year for horror! I checked her competitors that year and they were impressive. For BEST SCREAM QUEEN:
Debbie RochonSlime City Massacre
Victoria MauretteBulletface
Kristina KlebeZone of The Dead
April Monique BurrillChainsaw Sally
Brooke LewisSlime City Massacre
BL: People can say what they want, it was an ultra-low budget sequel to the cult classic “Slime City” (1988) and I had to make a decision, a choice when I made that film. When Greg Lamberson came to me and said you are one of the new IT girl Scream Queens of 07-08, read my script and see if you want to get involved. Look at any of the roles and maybe you wanna come in and produce in some way, and we bonded right away. That man is one smart man and he is an amazing writer and a great director. If you see the movie, the undertones and the subtext is amazing it covers drug addiction, gentrification, politics, US vs Canada, abortion, and it goes on and on. There are so many smart messages underneath the campy, gory, fun stuff, that I was inspired to do it. I am so glad I did because it became one of the horror films that I am most known for. Horror embraces strong women. I am a short, curvy, voluptuous, ethnic woman, horror embraces that pin-up look which I have always been grateful for. Horror always embraces outside the norm, I am not the typical Hollywood starlet look and horror does not discriminate. Not like most movies where you have to look like a supermodel in order to get naked, in horror real people have sex.
I can only speak for myself and some of my peers, I choose to be a powerful woman in horror. I don’t just act in horror, I have done Broadway, and thrillers, and mob movies, I just wrapped an amazing dramedy called 1/2 New Year, I do it all because I am an actress but the stuff that I have chosen to do in horror and I am very proud of it. I feel like I have got to do some great stuff, made some great films with some really great people.
HoTS: I then wanted to find out about the Ms. Vampy talk show/web series, But before we get into that, let me introduce you to Ms. Vampy. Ms. Vampy is America’s funniest, sexiest, sassiest and most extraordinary board certified Life Coach and Vampiress! Her personality is as big as her hair and is often described as Betty Boop meets Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. She has two books, Ms. Vampy’s Teen Tawk and Coaching From a Professed Hot Mess. I have read them both readers and cannot recommend them highly enough. Ms. Vampy gives sage advice and does so in such a relatable and entertaining way.

BL: What do I get cast in usually in the mainstream? Hooker, stripper, because I have big boobs and big hair and I wear high heels because I am short so naturally…the hairstylist, the guidette, which I love and that’s how Ms. Vampy was born. I looked at the body of my biggest work and at that point in time, ten years ago it was mobster movies, it was comedy, big hair and guidette roles that I used to play like in Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding where I got my start  on Broadway which I love, then add horror to the mix. It came to me that this had never been done before and it is a lot of what my horror fans embrace about me. And I thought why not? Ms. Vampy is a Brooklyn, big-haired vampire guidette with a heart of gold. On the teen talk show, we talk about everything from the LGBTQ community, to racism, to sexism, to bullies and it was very important to me to get this done. It needs to be made and I will not stop till it is done correctly. She is from the Vamprelli crime family, killing people and drinking blood is declasse so she eats everything else that is red. So everything needs the suspension of reality because she has a heart of gold and tons of positive messages. She’s my alter-ego. She talks about everything that I have experienced in my life. Also there is the teen smash hit TV/talk show/web series Ms. Vampy’s Tween Tawk, Teen Tawk & In Between Tawk, which won the Honolulu Film Awards 2012 SILVER LEI AWARD, the coveted 18th Annual Communicator Awards (2012) AWARD OF DISTINCTION for Social Responsibility and Los Angeles Film Awards May 2017 INSPIRING WOMAN IN A FILM AWARD .

I wanted to bring to your attention readers three of her new projects. Psycho Therapy (2016) a short film was written and directed by another great woman in film and horrorStaci Layne Wilson. It has won twenty-one awards already, including awards for Brooke and her production company Philly Chick Pictures. Philadelphia is her hometown hence the name. The other is a film she already mentioned called 1/2 New Year which is in post-production so make sure to keep an eye out for it. The last was the aforementioned Sprinkles short film which has twenty-five wins also for Brooke and Philly Chick.

Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis

Brooke also has partnered with Rock n’ Roll Lifestyle Company Metal Babe Mayhem to brand and launch their ‘Rock Your Hot Mess’, ‘Ms. Vampy’ and ‘Scream Queen Brooke Lewis’ clothing lines. She was also branded with the hypoallergenic Makeup and Skincare Company TASH Cosmetics to launch their ‘Profess Your Hot Mess’ and ‘Ms. Vampy Girl’ makeup lines. I told you this woman was busy!
As far as being a columnist she has the distinction of writing for the Huffington Post as a contributor which she started in 2012. With such great articles as “Ask the Drama Queen”, “Hollywood Darlings Let Their Light Shine With Anti-Bullying Campaign”, and “Ageism and Heterosexism in Hollywood.”
And if you were wondering about the singing she signed with Tazmania Records/Metropolitan Records and released the freestyle dance hit “Get Me Off Your Mind”. Released in 2009 and on the album Tazmania Freestyle In-motion vol. 13.
Brooke strongly believes in charity work that empowers women and young adults. She is active in several charities that support Breast Cancer and Anti-bullying and can be found feeding the Skid Row homeless at the Los Angeles Mission which I saw when she showed a few pictures at Christmas, best looking Santa’s helper out there. She is also a proud Breaking The Chains Foundation (BTCF) Celebrity Ambassador. Brooke is a proud member of Women In Film and Film Independent. She was also the Hot Hunks of Horror Hottie for 2009 and the co-captain of Dread Central’s Bowling for Boobies.
She also told me that people would say to her, with her cleavage, high heels, big hair, and makeup how did she expect to be taken seriously as an intelligent woman?And she would say to them really? She has more degrees than six of them combined. For her naysayers I will say this, she majored in rhetoric and communications, she minored in both theater and criminal justice. She was also Inducted into ‘Outstanding Filmmakers Of The Year’ at the first Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival 2017 and for me to list all of her awards and accolades, I would need to get new hands after typing because mine would fall off!
Brooke Lewis / Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Brooke Lewis on the web:

So for myself, Horrormadam and everyone at the House of Tortured Souls I want to say thank you so much to Brooke Lewis and also huge congratulations on her fiancee’s proposal on September first (her birthday) 2017. Brooke is such a sweet, intelligent, and kind woman and she deserves all the best. And as she and Ms. Vampy would tell you. Be you…And be fearless and definitely Vamp It Out!
Metal Babe Mayhem: Scream Queen Brooke Lewis (SQBL)
Discount code #BROOKE16 to receive 20% OFF!
Posted by Horrormadam in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, FEATURED CONTENT, FICTION AND POETRY, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, WOMEN IN HORROR, 1 comment
Artist of the Month – December 2017: Tony Blake

Artist of the Month – December 2017: Tony Blake

I found December’s AotM because of my love for The Walking Dead once again. 🙂

And even though this was one of the most horrible occurrences on my favorite show, Steven was impressed!

One of the reasons Tony Blake’s art stands out is the fact he uses color pencils! You guys should know by now I love different. 😉

Here is his brief bio:

Tony is from Great Yarmouth in the UK. He is a full-time freelance artist and is currently studying for a degree in art. He is 41 years old. Married with three children.

Our Q&A:

House of Tortured Souls: How long have you been into horror art?
Tony Blake: Always loved horror art from a young age. First ever character I drew was Freddy from a t-shirt my dad brought me.

HoTS: Did you have a teacher or go to art school??
TB: I’m self taught.

HoTS: Who is your favorite monster?
TB: Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund).

HoTS: Do you have booths at conventions or any art galleries?
TB: I do comic cons across the UK and my art was featured in the Z-Nation exhibit at the Spokane Museum of Art.

HoTS: How old were you when you started drawing?
TB: Probably about 5. Once I went to school. It was all I could do as I had problems with reading and writing, I’m dyslexic.


HoTS: What is your favorite method, pencil, charcoal, the blood of innocents?
TB: I use Prismacolor and Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils for the last two years love them.

HoTS: Do you have a fan page? Twitter? Instagram?
TB: Yes!

antblakeart
@TonyBlake76
@tonyblakeart

HoTS: Do you do commissions?
TB: Yes always doing what the customers want.

HoTS: Are you working on something now?
TB: Currently drawing Bill Murray as Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters.

HoTS: What advice would you give anyone interested in starting this career?
TB: Best advice I can give is practice, practice, never give up and always try new styles, and if that doesn’t work sell your soul to the devil.

Throughout the month of December, Tony is selling original pieces $80! :-O #Floored!!

Posted by Tammie Parker in ART AND VENDORS, FEATURED ARTIST, FEATURED CONTENT, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: The Blair Witch Legacy Creator Jason Hawkins

INTERVIEW: The Blair Witch Legacy Creator Jason Hawkins

This is a fan-made film and will not be available for purchase or digital viewing.
I had an opportunity to discuss some elements of The Blair Witch Legacy with Jason Hawkins. Hawkins also has aspirations to make his own Friday the 13th fan film and says he has it “if people got behind it…….I already worked out how it would go”. As The Blair Witch Legacy is a fan made film, Hawkins and his crew cannot gain financially from its release. However, as you see in my candid interview with Hawkins, he has plans for the film.

House of Tortured Souls: The Blair Witch Legacy is a ‘fan film’, are you a fan of the Blair Witch franchise (this would include all 3 films currently released) and/or the Blair Witch folklore?
Jason Hawkins: I am a fan of the Blair Witch films. I saw the first one in theatres when, like a lot of people, I wasn’t sure if what I was watching was legit or not. I suspected not, but the film was so well put together, and the marketing campaign so well thought out, that I was able to suspend disbelief enough to get caught up in the story and really enjoy it. As a child, I had seen a lot of the docu-films like The Legend of Boggy Creek and such, so I think I was ready for a film like this. I’ve revisited The Blair Witch Project multiple times over the years and find that it still holds up well. The second film Book Of Shadows my hopes were high. I think I’m one of the few people who thought the film was decent. It’s not excellent, and there’s a lot going on that misses the point, but I thought (when I was watching it as a stand-alone style film) that it holds up in a video store rental kinda way. The third film…I was curious. More than I was excited. I think the reaction to the second film really hurt the release of the new one. I didn’t enjoy the third film in the way I hoped I would. To me, they erred in making it a ‘Hollywood Movie’ filled with the same type of things horror fans complain about on a regular basis. The premise was solid, the idea was there, but the execution was not. I felt it was ‘Oh look, pretty teens go into the woods….oh look the cliché black best friend character…oh look” it was filled with things that took me out of the realism. There was never any doubt that we were watching a ‘Hollywood Film’ from the beginning. It was missing that ‘what if’ factor of the original film. It should have come off as a raw Indie. I think that’s the major differences between the original and the follow-up films. We love the original because of what it is- the underdog's story. The filmmakers were not Hollywood cookie-cutter characters. They looked, acted, felt like real people - because they were. In our film, we wanted to get back to basics, back to a film that feels like it could have been shot with regular people on consumer level equipment – because it was. We embraced that and worked to make it feel exactly like what it is …. a found footage film.

HoTS: Being a fan of the film, how did you produce the budget for the film? Was there an Indiegogo campaign? Investors?
JH: We actually worked with a pretty small budget, even by Indie standards. Being a fan film, we knew we couldn’t profit off of it, and we’ve done our best to be very respectful of the intellectual properties, which would have made going to an investor difficult. With limited options, we decided to make this film directly out of our own pockets and funded all aspects of it ourselves. There was talk of an Indiegogo, but we felt with the right people and the right approach we could pull this off ourselves. The money hunt, particularly for indie artists, is a constant struggle. It’s very, very difficult to get films made, even when you have a solid track record and I didn’t want to wait 5 years…… 10 ….maybe never making this film. I’ve seen too many filmmakers with great ideas wither on the vine and never get their made because they don’t have the budget. We worked with what we had, took advantage of our skills and decided to make the film with a budget we had.

HoTS: Where did you find your 3 lead actors – Samantha Marie Cook, Cody Epling, and Jason Reynolds- and what was it like working with them?
JH: We originally posted the project under a code name The March Project intending to cast and shoot in spring. Record rainfall flooded a lot of our locations and caused some conditions that we decided might be hazardous, so we delayed. We had begun the audition process by accepting video auditions. From those we culled the list down to the top 2-3 we wanted to see them in person for each character. We bought these actors in and really put them through their paces. They still didn’t know what they were auditioning for, what the film was about or anything. We narrowed down our choices and invited the actors to join the film, finally telling them what it was and what our goals were. Sam was our first choice and Cody had actually auditioned for a different character but came on as the character we see in the film. (In fact, most of the characters you see in the film had auditioned, didn’t get the role they were after but were offered a chance to come back and be in the film and its supporting character). Jason I had known for a while, having worked with him on a few other projects and training MMA with him. He’s a friend and I wanted somebody who was comfortable in the deep woods and also they were familiar with the way I work. Working with them was hell on earth – I’m kidding of course. We had multiple meetings before film dates, to get everybody comfortable around each other and to work on building the sense of camaraderie that you hopefully see and feel in the film. The characters came together well, and once the weather cleared we moved to shoot. The first few days didn’t go as smooth as we wanted, but it was a great bonding experience and we decided to start over, scrapping the first few days of footage. The trials and tribulations of filming a project like this brought them together in a stronger way, and when we started again, they were on point. It’s hard to believe now that none of them had ever met before we started casting, they seem like old friends.

HoTS: You shot on location in both Oregon and Maryland, was the Burkittsville location welcoming of another Blair Witch film?
JH: Soooooo…..we didn’t actually go to Maryland. We wanted to sell the illusion that we did, much as they sold the illusion of the ‘Black Hills’ in the original. We went to the airport, whole bit, but never actually went to Maryland. I had scouted locations for a few months and done my best to match them up with some of the towns woods in Maryland. We put that in the credits just for fun, and to see if anybody would know the difference. Is that a spoiler? I’m not sure, but it’s a factual statement that the people of Burkittsville have come out with negative responses to the Blair Witch films- in our movie when Sam says “I know, it’s all on the Thrillist website”, she’s telling the truth. The Thrillist website does cover the negative reactions of the people of Burkittsville about The Blair Witch Project. A lot of what we did was very meta –we heavily mixed in fact and fiction. In fact, sometimes you’d hear statements on set such as “wait, is this real real or film real?” and sometimes the answer was simply yes, yes it is.

HoTS: What other film projects can I observe your work in?
JH: I like to stay busy and am almost always working on something, or developing the next project. Over the years I’ve done multiple feature films, including All American Bully with Adrienne King (from the original Friday the 13th), 15:Inside The Mind of a Serial Killer (which is getting re-released soon), and The Devil Knows His Own with Eileen Dietz (from The Exorcist and many more), as well as several short films. Like a lot of indie artists, we’ve had ups and downs with distribution. My films can be found on Redbox, iTunes, Amazon, Walmart and many outlets around the world. Many would call that success, and I suppose it is, but getting distributors to actually pay you for your work is another story entirely. In fact, that’s an entire article unto itself…

HoTS: What is the plan for The Blair Witch Legacy? Will you be submitting it to festivals?
JH: This is actually a pretty complex question. We knew going into this that we couldn’t profit off of someone else’s intellectual property. We are not the copyright holders, and our film is able to exist through the grace of Lionsgate. They have allowed people to play with the Blair Witch universe in the past – these are dozens of fan shorts, fake documentaries, etc, much the same as fans have been allowed to play in other rich, layered, universes such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and so on. So, knowing that, we made the film by fans, for fans. We have submitted to multiple festivals and conventions, where we’ll be showing exhibition screeners of our film. Currently, there are close to a dozen that will be showing it or trying to work it into their schedule. However, I try to make sure every move I make in regards to film and my career is with a reason. I like to say “No move without purpose” and try to make sure every move is to advance and with purpose. I didn’t just make a fan film. I made a fan film in a popular universe to draw more attention to what we do, and send up a flare in the direction of Lionsgate- “hey look at us. We love the franchise. There is hope for it. Let US make the next one.” How cool would it be to get their attention and have them look at our project? I’ve already worked out most of the details for a sequel, and I really believe the franchise can be given new life and reach new audiences worldwide. And I want to be the one to do it. No move without purpose.

Keep up to date on screenings and festivals showing The Blair Witch Legacy, through their Facebook page and watch for future projects from Jason Hawkins.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in INTERVIEWS, PARANORMAL, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Death House (2018) Director Harrison Smith

INTERVIEW: Death House (2018) Director Harrison Smith

“The Only Way Out… Is Down”

I had the great privilege of interviewing the superb director Harrison Smith on his newest film Death House. Before I get into that, let me tell you a little bit about the film.

Death House poster.There is a Fed-Max subterranean government prison that holds humanities worst criminals known as the Death House. It serves as a medical, psychological, and parapsychological research center aimed at eradicating evil. Two federal agents are granted a tour of the center. While on the tour, the unthinkable happens. There is a power outage that releases all of the prisoners, and the agents must fight their way through all of the horror and violence to try to survive. They soon discover that they are being herded down to the lowest depths of the facility. In those depths are a group of supernatural evil beings known as The Five Evils and they may be the agents’ only chance at salvation.

Cody Longo in Death House.

Cody Longo in Death House.

The movie sounds and looks amazing but before I go on I just wanted to say that the media and many articles have labeled the movie, “The Horror Movie genre of The Expendables“. I have to disagree with that. If it were The Expendables we would have a movie with Freddy vs Jason vs Michael vs et. al. Which, to some, may sound interesting but it would lack any substance. The stars in this movie are so much more than their individual roles that they have portrayed, they are true actors who excel at their craft. Let me tell you some of them:

  • Adrienne Barbeau: Escape From N.Y., Creepshow, Swamp Thing, The Fog
  • Kane Hodder: Jason Voorhees in some of the Friday the 13th films and Victor Crowley from The Hatchet films
  • Dee Wallace: The Howling, Cujo, The Frighteners
  • Michael Berryman: The Hills Have Eyes, The Devils Rejects
  • Barbara Crampton: Re-Animator, From Beyond, You’re Next
  • Sid Haig: The Devils Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses, Kill Bill
  • Tony Todd: Candyman, Hatchet, Final Destination
  • Bill Moseley: The Devils Rejects, Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Vernon Wells: The Road Warrior, Weird Science
  • Lindsay Hartley: Nightmare Nurse
  • Cody Longo: Piranha 3D, Nashville
  • Cortney Palm: The Dark Tapes
  • Felissa Rose: Sleepaway Camp
  • Vincent Ward: The Walking Dead

Whew, that is a LOT of talent in one film!

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA.

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA. The place had a built-in horror film setting, full of dark history and eerie vibes. It really acts as a functioning character in the film.

IMDb provided a great quote:

This is a solid horror piece, dark, nasty and gore-soaked; not satire or tongue in cheek.

And like Harrison told me, he was writing in a local bar when the ad for Jurassic World came on and it hit him that this movie was “Assault on Precinct 13 meets Jurassic World without the dinosaurs”. So… great actors along with an exciting script and skilled direction. Then throw in stupefying makeup and effects by the Roy Knyrim (Sinister 2) and SOTA FX, and a soundtrack by John Avarese that sets the perfect ambiance. We will finally get what we paid for at the box office!

Death House - Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Death House – Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

House of Tortured Souls: My first question for Harrison was why the horror genre?
Harrison Smith: My first film, The Fields, was based on what really happened to me when I lived and grew up with my grandparents on their farm. The farm came under attack for a short period of time by an unseen presence. We never understood what caused it and we never understood what ended it, so I had personal experience. But also my grandmother and I used to watch horror movies and the old horror TV show Dr. Shock who hosted Saturday morning shows like Scream-In, Horror Theater, and Mad Theater. The movies were captivating. I loved finding out there was a sequel to Frankenstein and that he didn’t die in the burning windmill. There were more like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man that continued on the story of Lon Chaney. Like when they killed Lon Chaney in the original Wolfman I was like, “Why? He was a nice man, he didn’t want to be The Wolf Man“. I loved it. They were like Saturday morning soap operas. I loved them as a kid, but that time is gone. That is why I like Tom Holland’s Fright Night. I was watching in the summer of ’85 and knew it was a Valentine to an era that was quickly fading and disappearing. At that time, the threat was coming from cable television and the home video revolution, so Peter Vincent was this aging icon of an era long gone trying to stay relevant. Tom Holland got it, and Fright Night works on many levels. So horror movies, for me, were a real escape from the actually really scary shit that happened to me.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

HoTS: Then I asked him about the abundance of horror movies and shows seem to be throwing back to the ’80s. Movies like It Follows and The House of the Devil and shows like Stranger Things all reflect that age in horror, and Death House has many actors from that era. Why do you think it is a niche we all still enjoy?

Dee Wallace in Death House.

Dee Wallace in Death House.

HS: Director and actor Eli Roth said that the have-sex-and-die concept behind many of the ’80s slasher films was not as relevant today because millennials look at it and don’t get it. There was a study reported by the L.A. Times in an article by Melissa Batchelor Warnke saying that the millennial generation is the least sexually active, so that concept does not translate well. But at the time when Friday the 13th came around, it was a perfect storm of both liberal and conservative values. We had a very conservative administration with Reagan and yet, at the same time, we were known as the party generation. It was a weird flux of things coming together. So Friday the 13th had fun and parties with lots of boobs and tons of gore but with a moral lesson. See what happens when you fuck in the woods? Jason was like a walking STD. So the ’80s made us nostalgic for the ’50s, and now we look back to the ’80s. We are nostalgic for when we grew up. That is why, when making Death House, we always remembered that we were handling peoples memories and that is very important. The new generation gets to fall in love with it like we did. And with regards to the actors in Death House, they were all smart enough to choose great directors and projects that were just starting out, and their careers flourished from those collaborations so they are all still relevant today.

Death House - Kane Hodder arriving on set.

Kane Hodder arriving on the Death House set pictured with Harrison (dressed as an extra for the ward scene). The guy over his shoulder is producer Rick Finkelstein.

HoTS: I did some research on Holmesburg Prison, where you decided to film the movie. Some extremely monstrous things went on there. Any ghosts try to break into acting for the film?

HS: No, I did not experience anything myself. There were a few reports of the cameras acting wonky, but it was really cold there which probably contributed to that. The place itself was perfect for the mood though. There is a great book called Acres of Skin: Human Experiments At Holmesberg Prison 1998 by Allen Hornblum that tells all about the medical experiments and tortures that went on inside the prison. It really lent itself to what we were shooting. I remember when they gave us a tour and brought us into the warden’s office where he had his throat slit. Nothing paranormal happened but everyone was in tune with what had happened there. Dee Wallace said that it was sometimes overwhelming knowing that you were walking by cells where so much abject misery and torture had taken place. It is a building built on misery.

Harrison also wanted to make sure and give a shout out to the administration and the City of Philadelphia and especially the Philadelphia Police Department, who were more than gracious and just all-around wonderful people.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

HoTS: My next question for Harrison was, as a director, what directors influence his work?

HS: Growing up, John Carpenter: Halloween, The Thing, They Live and Tommy Lee Wallace: IT, Halloween III, Fright Night II were major influences on me because they were accessible to me. I used to read Fangoria Magazine all the time and got a subscription to it. I used to read and devour the interviews and not just because of the pictures and oh! there making a sequel to Halloween and I want to see the blood and gore. They did an interview with John Carpenter and he talked about how he made movies and about finding a good crew and sticking with them. And I noticed for the first decade of John’s career he used a lot of the same people in front and behind the camera and that really made an impact on me because Carpenter was very much the founder of the guerilla film movement — that you get a camera, you go out there, and you shoot. That’s what you do, and that really inspired me as a filmmaker. I had a Super 8 silent Kodak camera, and I was learning. I was learning from those interviews in Fangoria and got a really strong base of knowledge. So if you look at my catalog of work so far, you will see many of the same faces. And if you read the credits, you will see a lot of the same names return time and time again. I bring them back because it is like putting the band back together, so to speak, which works for me because it becomes like production shorthand. I would also say Tom Holland of Fright Night and Psycho II fame was another influence because Psycho II made a big impact on me because of the script. I think it is one of the greatest sequels ever made and is very underrated. I wanted to hate it, but 30 minutes into the film I just fell in love with it. When it was over I walked out, called my family to let them know I would be late and went in to see it again. My film Camp Dread is a tip of the hat to Tom Holland. It was more like Psycho II than Friday the 13th.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

HoTS: What is the theme for Death House?

HS: The whole pretext of Death House is evil is evil and good is good, but do they need each other? Because when you try to eradicate evil you are, at most, canceling out good as well. There is no need for good if there’s no need for evil. Bill Mosely has a great line in the film, “True evil is nothingness”. That is true hell. If we were to remove the Holocaust from history we would need a litmus test. Dee Wallace’s and Barbara Crampton’s characters think what they are doing is good. Look at the Nazis during the Holocaust. They didn’t think what they were doing was evil. Dee is like Nurse Ratched. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest as a social horror film was a snake pit. Louise Fletcher played it so well because there are real nurses like that. That is the banality of evil. How a modicum of power gives rise to abuse of said power. Are The Five Evils in Death House really evil compared to Dee’s character or Nurse Ratched? They aren’t Cenobites they are regular people like you run into in everyday life. How many times in your own life might you have come into contact with real killers? The Five Evils are normal looking people.

Death House - The Five Evils

Death House – The Five Evils: Vincent Ward, Vernon Wells, Bill Moseley, Lindsay Hartley, Michael Berryman.

The original script for Death House was penned by the incredible Gunnar Hansen, who is best known for playing the mentally-impaired cannibal Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Gunnar left us on November 7th, 2015, from pancreatic cancer. His agent, Michael Eisenstadt, brought producers Rick Finkelstein and Steven Chase of Entertainment Factory to the screening of Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard to meet Harrison. Another writer had taken a stab at rewriting the script, but it turned into Texas Chainsaw meets Friday the 13th meets Saw, but that was not what Gunnar wanted. He did not want torture porn but a high concept horror film. Gunnar liked what Harrison did with it, so Harrison finished writing and then directed it. The actors were all there for their friend Gunnar and with Harrison collaborating with Gunnar before his death, I like to think of this as a love letter to an amazing man and actor that we lost too soon.

Gunnar Hansen, 4 March 4, 1947 – 7 November 2015

I was extremely honored to speak with Harrison Smith and pick his brain. To read more on Death House, I have included some links that come straight from the horse’s mouth. Harrison Smith’s Road To Death House articles.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see this film. It has already won the audience choice award along with best feature film from the Central Florida Film Festival (CENFLO). MPAA said it was gritty, claustrophobic and a hell of a lot of fun. Harrison said it is like a roller coaster ride through a funhouse, and Kane Hodder said it was his favorite film he has worked on. So horror fans get ready for the ride of your life!

I have also included a link to a petition if you want Death House to come to a Regal Cinema near you. It is going to major theaters but I would like to see it in all of them.

So, from myself and the family at House of Tortured Souls, thank you again to the great Harrison Smith and everyone involved with Death House! And just remember readers… “Hell isn’t a word…it’s a sentence.”

Death House - Harrison, Yan Birch and Lauren Compton after filming in LA.

Harrison, Yan Birch, and Lauren Compton after filming Death House in LA.

Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, PARANORMAL, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 2 comments
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Houses October Built on HoTS LIVE!!!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Houses October Built on HoTS LIVE!!!

The Houses October Built and the recent follow up release, The Houses October Built 2, are two of my favorite films! Let's face it. With the abundance of horror films being made either through Hollywood budgets or Indie fan-funded projects, there's a shit ton of mediocre to bad horror being produced. Since October is the month for horror and scares and with Halloween just around the corner, the options for viewing are endless. During this season I try to stick with Halloween-themed films.
In 2014, I first viewed The Houses October Built. It instantly became part of my personal top five horror films! And, in keeping in with my Halloween-themed films, it's about a group of friends who travel from haunt to haunt in search of the extreme. Now, I ask you: what can be more Halloween than haunts?
Then 2017 came, and the crew released the follow-up, The Houses October Built 2. This sequel answered questions that had left audiences pondering in the closing frames of the original, kept the viewer's Halloween spirit engaged, and ended with an entirely new set of holy-shit-what-the-fuck questions.
After viewing The Houses October Built and launching House of Tortured Souls, I had been trying to get in touch with any or all staff for a written interview. However, once I tracked down the right people through social media, there were always scheduling conflicts. Time went on, and I had resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't going to happen. Still, I proudly supported the films and helped out the best I could on social media by sharing their posts.
It was this past Thursday, October 19, 2017, at approximately 2:30 pm EST when I figured what the hell and sent an email to them in hopes of setting up an interview sometime within the next few years. With part 2 only having been out for a few weeks, I knew they would be busy, but I also figured why not give it a shot? Within an hour, I got a response asking if I was available that day. Long story short, within two hours, both writers/directors/stars of both The Houses October Built parts 1 and 2, Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews, were staring me in the face live through a House of Tortured Souls LIVE video podcast.
We had a great chat, and it was a thrill to have met them and an honor to have them on the show. The guys discuss the origins of the film, working together, haunts, and even dabble in what may be next! So join me as I bring you my afternoon with Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews of The Houses October Built!
Keep It Evil...

Posted by John Roisland in EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
SPOTLIGHT: Justin “Schock” Terrell

SPOTLIGHT: Justin “Schock” Terrell

It is a great honor for me to introduce next HoTS ‘In the Spotlight’ Artist: our own Justin Schock!
Justin has done a tremendous amount in the background for House of Tortured Souls this year, so he well deserves this title – and much more! As with many artists, his talent spills over in more than one genre. He records metal music!
Here is a brief bio of Justin “Schock” Terrell:
horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-jackolanterns-300x300Schock was a nickname given as a stage name in the early 2000s and kind of just stuck with me all these years… I was born in 1982. I was born and grew up in Anderson, IN. I still live nearby but try to disassociate with the town. Haha! I have one kid, a daughter, who is 9 years old and acts like she’s 14. Kids… I’ll tell ya. Currently, my normal day job is the Loss Prevention Supervisor for Kohl’s in Anderson, IN.
House of Tortured Souls: When did you start drawing?
Justin “Schock” Terrell: I started drawing at a young age, like stupid young. I can remember drawing at 3 years old or so.

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HoTS: What was the first picture you remember doing?
Schock: When I was younger, I would draw comic strips like Garfield and Peanuts while attempting to mock the style. I then moved on around, 4 or 5 years old, drawing Spiderman and Wolverine mostly before developing my own techniques.

horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-jason-300x300

HoTS: Who inspired you when you began?
Schock: I just started drawing things always utilizing pencil only. I use to not care for markers and such. The traditional look of pencil appealed to me. I honestly can’t say if I had anyone influence. There were, of course, comic books and cartoons, but I never got the names of the artists. My uncle, Mike Ball is an amazing traditional artist. I mean he doesn’t use computers. He was always showing me tricks as a kid, and I admired a lot of the work he did.
HoTS: Who do you follow now?
Schock: Now that I’m older and pay attention to things, some of my favorite artists are James Rowe, Alex Ross, Nikki Bruin, and Scott Anderson. Then there is this one dude, not sure of his real name, but his store is called Electric Zombie. And Ghoulish Gary is hands down amazing, as is Jason Edmiston. Really, there are a lot of insane artists out there.
HoTS: Do you have a favorite creep?
Schock: Favorite creep…hmm well I’m always all over the monsters. It’s hard to pick, ya know? Ever go shopping and you see Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein stuff everywhere, but then there’s that one off Leatherface item, so you’re torn? Do I pick up the traditional monster thing? Or get the slasher? I’m a horror fan, and it’s just too hard to pick.

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HoTS: What is your most prized piece?
Schock: I have a couple pieces that are prized. One is a full pencil/colored pencil piece I did of Reagen from The Exorcist, and the other is a non-horror pencil drawing of ballerina legs/shoes. Both of those are amazing to me because I didn’t know I could produce such work.

horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-ballerina-300x300

HoTS: Do you do art shows, comic cons, or any vendor markets?
Schock: I have never done any of the cons or markets namely because it takes a lot of money to get started and I totally do not have that kind of loot. But one day, I will be all over it. I have never done an art show. The art world is a cruel mistress. Fun fact about my region of the world, er, the city: I was told by an artist collective here I was not allowed to join their little club of artists because of my work being mainly horror-influenced. And I went from traditional pencil and paint to almost all exclusively digital coloring, even using Wacom pens to draw without paper. Very snobby artists here. So art shows would only happen, again, if I had the money for it, and if I was more well known.
HoTS: Are you working on something now?
Schock: As of now, I am working on some watercolor paintings, the annual Drawlloween pictures which I am doing all pencil this year, images for HoTS. As well as working on my next record. I make hardcore/metal music also. All written and recorded by myself called xSCHOCKx, which can be found here: xschockx.bandcamp.com I jump around mediums, drawing, painting, music and even writing. Working on a collection of short stories with a friend. No title yet, but its very X-rated and scary all at once.

horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-regan-300x300

HoTS: Do you do commission work?
Schock: I do, indeed, do commission work. I’m always open to anything graphic design in advertising, drawings, logo design, the list goes on and on. A list of services and prices can be found on my site (listed below), and it does not have to be limited to horror works. That’s just my thing. I’ve done stuff for the MS people, Diabetic Youth Foundation, and even random churches. A good artist doesn’t limit his focus.
HoTS: Do you have a fan page? Twitter? Instagram?
Schock: I am all over the social media and Internet. Heres a list:
Damn that’s a lot. Nah, but I do a lot of different things artistically and sometimes they blend together. I use my nickname for both my artistic and musical endeavors, so that it’s easy to promote both.
Folks, be on the lookout for more of Justin. He is amazing, and we here at HoTS plan on keeping him around for many moons to come.
horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-lady-300x300

Posted by Tammie Parker in ART AND VENDORS, FEATURED ARTIST, FEATURED CONTENT, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments