Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe


DAEMONRUNNER – A Sci-Fi Horror Short

Described as Ghostbusters meets The Matrix in this experimental short film from the makers of Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead!

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Skinford – World Premiere

Directed by Nik Kacevski
Written by Nik Kacevski and Tess Meyer
Produced by George Kacevski, Tess Meyer, and Enzo Tedeschi
Starring Joshua Brennan, Charlotte Best, Coco Jack Gillies, Kaitlyn Boyé, Joshua Morton, Roger Sciberras, Ric Herbert, Georgia Scott and Diana Popovska

It was supposed to be so simple. You do a job, you make the meet, you get paid.

As an experienced flipper, Jimmy “Skinny” Skinford knows the protocol all too well. Having said that, being kidnapped and forced to dig your own grave will spanner the nicest of deals in the sharpest of ways.

But his fortune turns when a push of his dead man’s shovel unearths the opportunity of a life time; a woman, buried but still breathing, who just can’t seem to die. Her mysterious gift extends to others through touch and in her company Skinny launches head first into a scheme of unparalleled mayhem.

Coming face to face with the most depraved deviates of the criminal underworld, Skinny will have to pay his dues in order to make the meet, get his payload and have his chance at immortality.

But this gift horse comes with plans of her own, and dark consequences that threaten to sever Skinny’s world piece by piece.

Skinford will have it’s world premiere at Event Cinemas George Street, Sydney, on Sunday, March 12 at 7pm. Tickets available HERE

Deadhouse Films

Great news for fans of Australian horror. Enzo Tedeschi, producer of Australian indie horror The Tunnel, has established Deadhouse Films as a new Australian production and distribution company for genre films with the aim to overcome Oz audiences’ reluctance to see genre movies in theatres.

Deadhouse says that it is “focused on boutique online global day and date distribution of genre movies and shows.” It will launch with Distracted Media’s science-fiction series, Airlock, at an unspecified date in the first half of the year. It expects to provide “unique and tailored guidance on production and release strategies to ensure the success of each project.”

“With an aim to provide independent film makers with a production and distribution avenue, Deadhouse Films’ scope will be to connect the many great Australian genre films out there with a dedicated and established audience,” said Tedeschi in a statement.

Australia has a long history of producing cult horror and genre films, including Mad Max, Saw, Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones and Razorback, but the country’s theatrical audiences have largely turned their back on the segment. Last year’s The Babadook, which got a launch at Sundance, was hailed by critics and genre fans, but grossed only US$200,000 (A$256,000) on local release. In contrast The Babadook earned $1.09 million in France and $2.03 million in the U.K.

High releasing costs, steep ticket prices and competition from English-language Hollywood are among the issues facing Australian genre films in their home market.

“The kind of film that we made, it’s kind of an art house film and a psychological thriller slash horror. These don’t traditionally do that well in Australia,” “Badadook” producer Kristina Ceyton told The Guardian recently

Wolf Creek 2 knifed by intellectual snobbery

wolf-creek-2-posterThat shameful refusal by Australia’s top Film Reviewers to not review Wolf Creek 2 on their popular At The Movies show just won’t go away… check out this excellent article by Jessica Balanzategui in The Age.

In the late 1980’s, Mick ”Crocodile” Dundee playfully encouraged audiences to question what really constitutes a knife when you’re in the untamed wilds of outback Australia. More recently, Mick Taylor of Wolf Creek similarly compelled potential visitors to the outback to think deeply and painfully about when a knife is really a knife.

He implores some German tourists to consider ”what the bloody hell are you buggers doing here?” And rightly so, considering what lies ahead for them.

The Wolf Creek films revel in the nightmarish underside to the myths of rural idyll, mateship and charming ockerism that have become so central to our ideas of national identity.

Horror films have long crept alongside the comedies, dramas and art films that make up the bulk of our cinematic output: before Babe, the adorable little pig who dared to dream big, there was Razorback, the giant wild boar that gleefully ripped its victims to pieces. In fact, some classic Australian films that we proudly hold as pinnacles of the craft, Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971), Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975), are basically horror films masquerading as lofty art pieces.

I can distinctly remember watching both Walkabout and Picnic at Hanging Rock as a child – my well-intentioned parents evidently hoping to instil within me early a respect for great Australian cinema – and being haunted by nightmares from both for weeks. (At least I escaped being subjected to Wake in Fright at a young age – the consequences may have been much more severe.)

Wolf Creek 2 follows in the footsteps of these films, and in fact references Wake in Fright directly a number of times. Yet Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, the deserved royalty of Australian film criticism, refused to review Wolf Creek 2 on their influential television program, At the Movies, despite the fact the film is currently the top earner at the Australian box office.

For decades Pomeranz and Stratton have been vital cogs in the rather badly oiled machine that is the Australian film industry. Australian releases face a David and Goliath battle from the outset, being forced to compete with the flood of heavily marketed blockbuster Hollywood films.

Throughout their careers Pomeranz and Stratton have made it their mission to champion Australian films – even the ones they don’t particularly like – by raising awareness of Australian releases through their insightful reviews and interviews. Yet it seems that films classified as ”horror” are not extended this support.

This genre bias did not start with Pomeranz and Stratton: it has been an entrenched component of the Australian film industry since its revival in the 1970s. In the 2008 documentary Not Quite Hollywood, Phillip Adams, who helped to establish Australia’s government film funding system, admits that in setting up the guidelines for funding ”many of us were very snobby about genre films, there’s no question about it. We didn’t approve of them.”

Wolf Creek director Greg McLean and producer Matt Hearn are all too aware of this issue. Hearn mortgaged his house to finance Wolf Creek; their follow-up, Rogue, was financed by American studio executives the Weinsteins; and Wolf Creek 2 was delayed for years due to funding shortfalls.

Snobbery towards horror films does nothing to help strengthen the Australian film industry. Just because a film is packaged as ”horror” does not automatically mean it is devoid of artistic and intellectual value: it just makes it easier to sell. Even Stratton, in his caustic review of Wolf Creek 2 in The Australian, reluctantly admits that the film’s cinematography, courtesy of Toby Oliver, is ”pristine”.

Wolf Creek 2 is indeed violent and confronting, particularly because of the disconcerting mash-up of Mick Taylor’s true blue Aussie humour and his sadistic, murderous intent. However, so was Wake in Fright, which Pomeranz described as ”menacing and sinister” with a ”disgustingly seedy” antagonist, yet which Stratton went on to describe as ”a great milestone in Australian cinema history”.

So, too, was the recent Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011), a thoroughly disturbing film about the infamous ”bodies in the barrel” murderer John Bunting. Yet Pomeranz lauded this film – classified as an ”art film” due to its minimalist style – for it ”does not pull back from exposing the audience to … grotesque brutality”. Stratton also complimented the film on its ”dark power”.

Yet Wolf Creek 2, which employs similar tactics wrapped up in a commercially viable horror film package, is by contrast ”ugly and manipulative”.

I deeply respect Stratton and Pomeranz and have idolised them for as long as I can remember. But their refusal to review Wolf Creek 2 – even just to declare their hatred for it – points to a long-standing problem within the Australian film industry.

The confected division between ”lofty” art pieces and ”low brow” horror is outmoded and unhelpful. Horror has some powerful and revealing things to say about our society, just as art films do.

Jessica Balanzategui is undertaking a film studies PhD at Melbourne University. Her research explores the cultural power of horror films. Read more and comment at The Age HERE



Wolf Creek 2 – Ignored by Australian TV Reviewers

Wolf-Creek-2_Poster_bannerWolf Creek 2 writer-director Greg McLean has slammed Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton for failing to support local productions, after the ABC duo decided against reviewing his horror sequel on Tuesday’s At the Movies.

Despite the film hitting the #1 spot at the Australian box office on debut, the pair gave it a wide berth, without explanation. The pair chose to review Lone Survivor, Non-Stop, Gloria and The Wind Rises instead… so much for supporting Australian film.

greg_mcleanIn an emailed response to Fairfax Media, McLean said: “Seriously, what on earth are they thinking? Simply not reviewing an independent Aussie movie that beat its US studio competitor Lone Survivor … is worth paying some attention.”

He added that Lone Survivor, the Mark Wahlberg war epic, cost $80 million to produce and market and featured on about 15 per cent more screens.

“Even if they didn’t enjoy the movie, there are many, many Wolf Creek fans out there who love horror and thriller movies and want to support locally made productions,” he said. “Like them, I’d love to hear their thoughts on our movie, whatever they might be. I really hope they reconsider and give Wolf Creek 2 the fair go it deserves.”

The At the Movies website does carry a four-minute Wolf Creek 2 report, with clips and interviews with McLean and star John Jarrett, but neither Pomeranz, Stratton or in fact any reporter make an appearance.

Wolf-Creek-2_John-Jarratt-Mick-Taylor_Director-Greg-McleanIncredulous fans have taken to Twitter to question the TV show’s absent review. McLean also questioned the move on Twitter, saying: “Apparently there’s a new category of movie review from David and Margaret called – no review at all! That’s gotta be a first, right?”

He added that he did want a review from them: “Kinda fun watching them rip a movie apart or gush over something… either would be fine. Curious really.”

Stratton wrote a scathing review of the film in The Australian just days ago, calling it “manipulative and ugly” and only gave it two out of five stars. He also noted in his review that “this is not the place to discuss the worldwide appeal of torture-porn and extreme screen violence”.

In their 2005 At the Movies review of Wolf Creek, both critics gave the film four stars but expressed concern over the level of violence. “The film is incredibly sadistic. I think it’s foul in some ways, in terms of violence. I think it really is thoroughly nasty,” Stratton said at the time.

Pomeranz responded that it was a “worry”, while Stratton added: “I think people and audiences, potential audiences, have to be warned about it.”

WolfCreek2 (1)The MA15+-rated Wolf Creek 2 was the top draw at the Aussie box-office on its debut last weekend, pulling in $1.681 million.

In the past Stratton has refused to review 1992 skinhead drama Romper Stomper, causing its director Geoffrey Wright to throw a glass of wine over him nearly three years later at the Venice Film Festival. Stratton later said he feared the film could “stir up racial violence”.

At the Movies executive producer said Jo Chichester said in a statement: “Margaret and David reviewed the first Wolf Creek, David’s thoughts on Wolf Creek 2 are in his review in The Australian, and there is an interview with the filmmaker and lead actor on the ATM website.” SMH

Crawlspace – Trailer

Check out the trailer for the new Justin Dix directed, Australian horror movie Crawlspace… and don’t forget to check out my exclusive 2-part interview with special effects guru and director Justin Dix HERE (part 1) and HERE (part 2) for insight into Justin’s account of the film-making process, his thoughts on horror and the state of the Australian film industry. You should also check out the website for Justin’s Melbourne based SFX studio, Wicked of Oz, for information about all of his work, past, present and future HERE

The Tunnel: Dead End

The creative team behind the Australian internet sensation, ‘The Tunnel’ have begun working on another Tunnel movie! Distracted Media have also announced that The 135K Project won’t be dying with The Tunnel. A new Sci-Fi thriller titled ‘Airlock’ will be the next in line for some personalised frame-owning goodness. The Tunnel is still available as a FREE download.

Here’s the official press release:

Fans of 2011’s internationally successful local horror film, The Tunnel are in for another scare with the “The Tunnel: Dead-End” receiving funding from Screen Australia this month.

Currently in development, “The Tunnel: Dead-End” will pick up the story years later as Tangles’ sister is determined to answer once and for all what happened to her brother in the gloomy underground tunnels.

“Initially, we weren’t anticipating doing another Tunnel film but the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the original, as well as our fans clamouring for another on an almost daily basis, made us go back and give it a second thought. We weren’t going to go ahead unless we could find a story we were 100% behind, which we now have and are thrilled to have the support of Screen Australia,” said Distracted Media’s Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey.

The Tunnel became last year’s most-talked about film locally and internationally based on its unique crowd-funding model and distinctive distribution. The film enjoyed a simultaneous online, DVD, theatrical, a world TV premiere on Showtime Premiere and an iPad release well as winning many industry award accolades.

Based on the success of the crowd-funding scheme for The Tunnel, Distracted Media has announced another 135k Project is in the pipeline. “Airlock” is a claustrophobic science-fiction thriller in the vein of Alien. the 135K Project.

““The Tunnel: Dead End” is a great opportunity to take Distracted Media into a different playing field but as producers we still very much believe in the basic principles of the 135k Project. Having a more mainstream film in “The Tunnel: Dead End” will enable us to up the stakes significantly with “Airlock” which will hopefully raise the bar for our free internet releases and what we can put back into their success,” said Distracted Media’s Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey.

Redd Inc. Interview – Part 2

GEORDIE: Australia has a long history of offering something different to the horror genre, from the 70’s schlock through to modern hits such as Wolf Creek, Saw and the criminally overlooked The Loved Ones. What will Redd inc. add to that culture?

JG: Hopefully we’ll be considered to fit in with that esteemed list. We think we’ve added a unique twist to the genre by taking a place that so many of us are all too familiar with, the office, and give a whole new meaning to the idea of being chained to your desk. Again, it’s amazing to me that no one has set a horror movie in such an horrific location before!

AOC: A lot of Australian horror is set in the outback because that is a huge part of our cultural identity. But what about horror for people who don’t go camping in creepy, rural settings? What about the 9-to-5’ers? What if your BOSS was genuinely insane? That’s the cool ‘what if?’ scenario Redd Inc. brings to the table.

SS: indeed Redd Inc. is a new view on the horror genre, one that includes genuine suspense and scares but also some clever comedy so that the audience can really enjoy the ride… that has always been the ideal intention, to be scared but to also enjoy it, and to stand out from other films.

DK: I don’t really see REDD INC as an Australian film. Its setting is the office – it could take place in any major city – from London to NYC to Sydney. Having said that, I would be honoured if REDD INC were mentioned in the same breath as films like “Wolf Creek”, “Saw” and “The Loved Ones”.

GEORDIE: What were you influenced by during the development of Redd Inc?

JG: That’s too broad a question for me. If you mean what movies was I influenced by: Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, Hostel.

AOC: Oh wow. Well a mix of old school horror – The Evil Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Argento’s Deep Red – and more recent stuff like Martyrs, Audition and Seven. Also I was reading a lot of horror: Bentley Little, Richard Laymon, Jeff Strand and Jack Ketchum. Although to be fair I would have been doing that even if we weren’t making a movie.

SS: The idea of taking a similar approach to other timeless, enjoyable and successful films that achieved the majority of their effects in-camera and without the over-use of visual effects…… Films such as the Romero zombie flicks Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead.. Also Friday the 13th and Evil Dead…..  Absolute favourites that stand up to repeat viewing over many years!

DK: I was careful not to watch too much horror during the development of REDD INC. I didn’t want to be overly influenced by any one filmmaker or style. I wanted to keep my approach as fresh and original as I could. I guess my main influence towards the story and filmmaking approach of REDD INC was to make it “real” insofar as it has its own logic and reality.

GEORDIE: The elephant in the room question. What was it like working with Tom Savini? I presume like most horror fans you would have been a little starstruck at first?

JG: What a guy. He is a generous spirit who lives in the moment and who gave himself utterly to the scenes and the people he was working with. We have extensive coverage of his involvement in our making of doco which will be released eventually with the Blu-ray and DVD.

AOC: It was a literal dream come true. I got to pump blood with my childhood hero, TOM SAVINI! Even as I write these words I can’t quite believe it all happened. He’s a total gent and he did amazing work with the MEG team. He also tells the best stories and brought such a great energy to set. The days when Tom was there had a kind of magic about them. Plus some of the things we have on the DVD/Blu-ray are horror fan GOLD. We also gave him the Australian nickname “Savvers” which he loves.

SS: After watching and enjoying his work for so many years, it was an absolute honour.  Tom doesn’t really allow you to be starstruck, he has such an approachable and warm personality.  He has been so generous with his time, experience, advice and enthusiasm, it has been so much fun and we cannot speak highly enough of his contribution to Redd Inc.

DK: Working with Tom Savini. VERY COOL! He was the consumate professional and a gentleman in every sense of the word. A real joy to work with. He brought a calm atmosphere to the set, and a bloody menace to the screen.

GEORDIE: Films like Funny Games, the Saw series and the recent spate of torture porn have a strong streak of sadism in them, with psychological as well as physical torture. Dario Argento said recently that all taboos are fair game now… What are your thoughts on the current state of the horror genre?

JG: If they’re not really ABOUT something as well as being unnerving and scary then they’ve lost me. I like a little story and meaning with my elevated heart rate.

AOC: Yeah, I agree. Story is king and having something to say is really important. I watch pretty much everything that comes out in the horror genre – and a lot of it is amazing – but I do feel sometimes we get a lot of style and not much substance. I miss the horror-as-social-allegory element that Romero brought to the table with Dawn of the Dead. With Redd I think we’ve made an office giallo. It has a lot of tension and surprises and a really kinetic energy, plus twists and turns along the way. It’s the kind of film that I’d like to watch.

SS: I enjoy being scared, especially in a make-believe, movie kind-of way…. I want to enjoy the ride and have fun with it…. I don’t mind the physical violence stuff if it is not all too serious and nasty, give us a bit of relief in some way that makes it a guilty pleasure so that we can enjoy the scare and I think that’s the best recipe for the genre.

DK: For me it’s all about story, no matter what the genre. I’d liken a good horror film to a roller coaster ride at a fair ground. You can have the shit scared out of you in a safe environment and live to fight another day. Having said that, I like a good scare and gory moments… but as a rule I think that less is more.

GEORDIE: Hollywood has been remaking so many of these classic auteur horror films, driven by demographics and brand-familiarity, like the way Halloween is ubiquitous in other movies. How can Horror get out of that loop again?

JG: There are plenty of originals getting made amongst the remakes. They’ve got to break through to get noticed though so maybe it’s just that the remakes are sucking all the marketing air away from the originals. My guess is that independent distribution of horror over the internet will make a big difference to redress the balance over the next few years.

AOC: I’ve been joking for a while now that for Redd Inc.’s poster we should have the tagline: “It’s not a remake. It’s not a prequel. It’s not a reboot – You’re welcome!” However, I’ve met a lot of people who are making new, innovative horror so I’m not cynical. I think 2012 is going to be a great year for horror.

SS: Remakes can sometimes bring a new life to a great film.  However there is a big fan base out there that are always looking for new, original, exciting product.  Redd inc. is that film for those fans in 2012.

DK: In a sense a remake is like a sequel – people wanting to have some kind of “sure bet” in an industry that is fraught with uncertainty. Hopefully REDD INC (and its sequels) will be given a fresh lease of life in 20 or 30 years with an exciting batch of remakes. I would take it as a great compliment.  🙂

GEORDIE: Where to next for Green Light Productions?

JG: Redd Inc 2 of course!

AOC: Yeah, we have such an awesome story for the sequel.

SS: Looking forward to it!

DK: Count me in.

GEORDIE: When and where can we see the movie?

JG: First festival screenings will be announced over the next month or so and theatrical dates will be posted on the website

GEORDIE: Finally, your favourite classic horror film, when you first saw it, why it’s still a favourite; and any new releases that have impressed you?

JG: A lot of the classics don’t stand up for me anymore because I’m just older and wiser and I guess I have my bar set higher than before. In terms of highest impact on first viewing I’d say watching the old Hammer Dracula movies starring Christopher Lee when I was 11 or 12 years old because I watched them at midnight when my parents thought I was in bed and discovered the joy of scaring the shit out of myself! Of course they’re laughable now.

AOC: John Carpenter’s The Thing is probably the movie that blew me away the most when I was a youngster. The score, Carpenter’s meticulous direction, Rob Bottin’s amazing FX, the cast and the palpable sense of distrust and paranoia all add up to one of the greats. It was the film that made me take notice of film as an art form. Also the first two horror movies I ever saw were Creepshow and An American Werewolf in London and they both still rule. Recently I dug Martyrs, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Super and Theatre Bizarre (which has a segment directed by Tom Savini called Wet Dreams).

SS: Evil Dead has got to be my favourite, classic horror film.  It was so scary the first time I saw it as a teenager. It still is, if you let yourself get swept up in it, even after many, many repeat viewings.  I think it is still a favourite because it has that element of humour that doesn’t let you take it all too seriously, and it’s not too realistic and that’s the great part about making these sorts of crazy films because it’s just make believe.  I don’t think a lot of the new releases are scary enough, they concentrate too much on being nasty and shocking, rather than the suspense and scare elements that make great horror.

DK: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Loved it then, Love it now.

GEORDIE: Thanks again for the opportunity to put a few questions to you and your team about Redd Inc. Best of luck with the project. I’ll post as many updates as possible nearer release date.

Redd Inc. Interview – Part 1

A few weeks ago at the Tom Savini Q&A at the Vanguard (more of which soon); I had the pleasure of meeting Redd Inc. co-creator Anthony O’Connor and I asked if I could interview him and the Redd Inc. team, they were kind enough to take some time out from their busy schedule to do so late last week. Below are questions and answers from Jonathon Green (writer/producer), Anthony O’Connor (writer), Sandy Stevens (producer) and Daniel Krige (director).

GEORDIE: Firstly, thank you for the opportunity to put a few questions to you and your team about Redd Inc.

JG: Our pleasure.

GEORDIE: Tom was awesome; I was starstruck for most of the night… I couldn’t begin to recall how many times I’ve seen his work on screen. He was generous, open, funny and very humble face-to-face in the bar afterwards, a true legend.

JG: He’s a great guy.

GEORDIE: The website synopsis for your movie states: “Redd Inc. is the story of a capricious, officious and vicious boss (Redd) who traps his victims and forces them to work in an horrific office of his own insane creation. They are tasked with a seemingly impossible job which they must complete or face a grisly “termination”. The casual reader could assume that there are elements of Saw-like mental and physical torture involved, or should we expect Redd Inc. to take a different approach?

JG: Redd Inc. has a few brutal kills in it masterfully rendered with the help of Tom Savini but takes a very different approach to other films. Redd considers himself an office boss and is simply after results from his workers, he’s not interested in torturing them or teaching them a lesson. He’s all about achieving important work goals which become clearer as the movie progresses and which twist the story in new directions. He is clearly deluded but the pain he inflicts is a means to an end which he believes is entirely justified. I think Redd Inc. could be better described as horror/thriller/satire than horror/torture porn.

AOC: Redd is the kind of boss who takes corporate office culture to its logical (albeit INSANE) extreme. He gets no pleasure inflicting the punishment. For him it’s nothing personal. He’s just a boss, trying to get a job done. He even gives his staff members five written warnings before it’s time to… re-evaluate their positions. Admittedly he etches said warnings into their flesh but it all makes sense to him. There’s method to his madness.

SS: Redd offers up his own version of reality and some unique office-related one-liners that explain and justify his actions… This is where the satire and dark comedy add a different element, to alleviate the tension and give some relief at times so the actions are not as horrific as the torture porn version of the genre.

DK: While the situation could sound like “Saw”, REDD INC really has its own style and tone, which has elements of comedy and humour to alleviate the moments of true horror. As for the character of Redd – he’s a charming person who just wants people to do their jobs and to do them well. As in any workplace, if a task is not completed, there are consequences.

GEORDIE: Your online ‘Act 1’, ‘Act 2’ and ‘Act 3’ challenges were a unique way to cast both in front and behind the camera. It was original and I suspect due to budget restraints, one borne out of necessity, how did the process originate and evolve, and did the results surprise you?

JG: We are proud to be the first dramatic feature film in the world to do this. It would have been cheaper to create the elements we crowd-sourced ourselves so it was not borne out of necessity but we were keen to test new, innovative ideas and to include our potential audience in the process of making the film. It evolved by just thinking about what we would like to see happen and how we could develop an audience for the film… it just seems so obvious with YouTube and all the other ways that people get to self-actualize today that this should happen. Frankly, I was surprised that no-one had ever done it before. The results are very impressive. The contributions are amazing fitting perfectly into the movie and the experiment was a huge success.

AOC: Do you remember reading FANGORIA in the 80s when they’d have an open call for zombie extras in, like, Day of the Dead and similar? I used to get sooo frustrated because I was in Australia and had no way of getting there. These days your geographical location is largely irrelevant – especially for the parts we wrote for our online crowd. We got entries from literally all over the world, which was amazing and gratifying. What was surprising is how seamlessly the entries fit into the film.

SS: it is a global marketplace and in offering people an opportunity to be involved at an early stage, it is a way of attracting a worldwide fan-based audience, who we hope will remain engaged throughout the process and will want to see the end result and buy a ticket to see the film!

DK: It was an exciting and groundbreaking idea to cast certain roles from the world wide web. We got all sorts of entries. There’s some very talented people out there… and there’s also some very, well, enthusiastic people out there! From a directorial point of view, the challenge here was to make sure the performances gleaned from this process were tonally coherent with the rest of the film.

GEORDIE: I love that you guys are ‘fiercely independent’, that seems to be the way to produce original horror these days. From Blair Witch through to the Paranormal Activity series and this latest mammoth opening for The Devil Inside; even the Australian release The Tunnel from last year. How difficult has it been to stay with the project over the last year and a half without major financial backing?

JG: Very difficult but we have stayed determined and were continually re-energised by the quality of cast and crew attracted by the script.

AOC: I think having more than just one element helped a lot. We had the script, which Jonathon and I would keep rewriting – never settling for a “just okay” result. There was the website which gave us instant feedback from our online community and there was the novel: Nothing Personal – which ties in with the movie, Redd Inc., in a really cool way. So having a variety of irons in the fire is a good thing. Also we got to meet amazing people like Tom Savini who gave us a shout out and an interview waaay before he was on board supervising special make-up effects. We also had a lot of people who would give us honest feedback. Having people who will remain honest with you in the scripting stage is a must. You might kinda hate them at the time but having people challenge you along the way really helps hone your story.

SS: it has been fantastic to collaborate on a film that does not have the restraints imposed by a studio, government organisation or other outside entity. To be in a position to make the best creative decisions with the group of people that have written, developed and slaved over the project and who have the most passion and commitment to the film, decisions that can be made on the run, on the day, on the set.  A privilege and a way to remain true to the idea, no matter how crazy….. I agree that is why a lot of original horror films are made this way, with low budgets, so that there can be that freedom.  We watch these films and know what the fans want to see.

DK: The completely independent approach to making REDD INC was a creatively refreshing and invigorating one. While it was a relief not to have to deal with the frustrating yard-sticks that government bureaucracies or studio figures can impose, we had to be careful not to go off “half-cocked” so to speak… Jonathon and Anthony were very diligent with script development – we all wanted this thing to be the best it could on the page before the trigger was pulled on production. Because of this REDD INC was probably more of a collaborative process than a film made through more “conventional” means – from the script development to casting, right through to the shoot, solving problems on the run and making sure we kept it fresh and original. We were all there every step of the way easing this baby from the page to the screen. It was an inspiring film to make.

GEORDIE: Is it harder to get a movie made now? Have changes in the local movie business made it harder for you to get this film made?

JG: Not at all.

SS: I don’t believe it is ever easy to get a film made, it is a hard slog every time, you have to believe in the project every step of the way to be able to have the energy to get through it all!

DK: Filmmaking is an exercise in persistence and patience no matter what the job. You really have to have inspiration and belief in your material or you won’t go the distance.

GEORDIE: It’s great to see Nicholas Hope back in another dark role, he was awesome in Bad Boy Bubby. What can we expect from him as Redd in the movie?

JG: You can expect a bizarre, twisted character in Redd who is exceedingly cruel in his determination as a deluded boss-from-hell but who develops a strange, uncomfortable empathy as the movie progresses. Nicholas is amazing in this role. He relishes every moment and transfixes audiences with his off-centre characterization.

AOC: When Jonathon and I were writing Redd Inc. we would talk about our dream cast. Hope was always at the top of the list for Redd because he just inhabits those meaty roles. I still love Bad Boy Bubby but with Redd, Hope has given us a truly iconic movie monster. Honestly he’s going to blow everyone away with this.

SS: It is great to see Nicholas back on the big screen, he is a wonderful, talented, dedicated performer. Nicholas brought Redd to life from the page in a way that has thrilled us all and we can’t wait to share him with our audience.

DK: It was a great joy working with Nic Hope. As a person he’s a true gentleman, and as a performer he’s dedicated and focussed on his craft. Whenever we were doing a scene, Nic would always have an internal logic for Redd’s actions. His performance approach really brought the character of Redd to life in an exciting, entertaining and terrifying way.  What more can a director ask for?

George Miller talks Mad Max: Fury Road

For the better part of the past two decades, George Miller has made films that veered sharply away from his earliest triumphs, opting for decidedly more family-friendly fare like “Babe: Pig in the City” and “Happy Feet” than the unforgiving adventures of the “Mad Max” series. But next year, Miller returns to that franchise with the tentatively titled “Fury Road,” and even though production was aborted back in 2003 and then pushed back several times since the project was first re-announced in 2009, Miller told The Playlist that their completion at Warner Brothers is as inevitable as their conception was in his head.

Shock Horror – Date Change

SHOCK HORROR NEWS From the guys organising Shock Horror Down Under:

“It is with some disappointment that I am writing this article, but fortunately it is not all bad news. It is unfortunate that we have to announce the postponement of our first Shock Horror event until 2012. Recently we were advised by Heather Langenkamp that she could no longer make the dates in November 2011 due to filming commitments, and as a consequence documentary filmmaker Thommy Huston would also not be attending . As Heather’s appearance with Robert Englund was to be a highlight of the show we had to make a decision of whether to proceed without Heather, and possibly never see her in Australia, or wait until she was available so she can appear with Robert.

As fan’s the chance to re-unite the stars of A Nightmare On Elm St drove our decision to postpone the event. So we have been on the phone with Robert and Heather and have come to a new agreement. Basically it means that rather than cancel the event we are just postponing it and changing the dates. So the new date for Shock Horror: The Nightmare Returns is Sunday May 6, 2012.

At this stage we are unsure of Tony Todd’s availability for the new date. Should Tony not be available we will be considering other alternatives. If you have any specific ideas of who you would like to replace Tony let us know. Whilst we hate postponing events, let alone ever canceling one, it is unfortunate that these things happen especially when dealing with working actors who’s schedules are prone to change at any minute. So mark your calendars and we look forward to seeing you then”

After Dark Originals – Sydney launch and Q&A

Courtney Solomon, the man behind ‘Horrorfest’, and the largest producer and distributor of horror films in the US comes to Popcorn Taxi

  • When: Tuesday October 18 @ 7PM
  • Where: Chauvel Cinemas – Cnr Oatley and Oxford Sts, Paddington., NSW
  • Price: $22 / $20

Writer, director and producer Courtney Solomon is the founder and CEO of After Dark Films, a mini-major known for its commitment to horror.
Solomon established his reputation with ‘An American Haunting,’ a box-office success starring Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek, which he wrote, directed and produced. Solomon next redefined the meaning of film festival with the founding of ‘Horrorfest: 8 Films to Die,’ a nationwide (U.S.) theatrical release of 8 of the best new horror films available.

After Dark Films is an independent motion picture studio formed in 2006 by film producer/director/writer Courtney Solomon and Hong Kong based real estate and textile financier Allan Zeman. The company’s first film was ‘An American Haunting’ in 2006, starring Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland. In an unprecedented move in Hollywood (as films are generally only widely released by the major studios), After Dark Films released ‘An American Haunting’ on 1750 screens in the US and grossed nearly $17 million, taking #2 spot at the box office behind Mission Impossible 3 and spending four weeks in the Top Ten, during the busy summer season.

Following the release of ‘An American Haunting’, Solomon and Zeman formed a multi-year marketing and distribution deal with Lionsgate Films.

In November 2006, After Dark Films launched ‘After Dark’s Horrorfest: 8 Films to Die For’, a one-weekend cinema event in which 8 different horror films screened across 488 screens in the US. Horrorfest 2006 debuted at #10 on the box office charts, grossing over $2.5 million.

After Dark Films extended its grasp on the horror genre in 2010 by creating a new brand called AFTER DARK ORIGINALS A New Brand of Fear – a series of eight new, original, cutting-edge horror films produced by Courtney Solomon in partnership with SyFy and Lionsgate. Tapping into the vast and innovative pool of talented directors and filmmakers from Horrorfest’s four years, After Dark is now producing features themselves instead of acquiring them – an initiative which will allow them to branch out into international markets.

After four years and 32 films released under the ‘Horrorfest: 8 Films to Die For’ banner, Solomon recently re-oriented After Dark Films from the acquisition and marketing of quality horror films to the development and production of original scripts for release under the title ‘After Dark Originals: A New Brand of Fear.’

Shock Horror Update

Last month on May 3rd I posted a link for a new convention dedicated to the horror genre called ‘Shock Horror’. The organisers announced that horror legend Robert Englund would be attending. Since then more guests have been added including Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Tony Todd (Candyman) and documentary maker extraordinaire (His Name Was Jason, Never Sleep Again). Check out their website for more info.

The Loved Ones ****½

High school senior Brent Mitchell (Xavier Samuel) swerves to miss a bloodied figure on a deserted country road and slams his car sideways into a tree, killing his father in the passenger seat. Six months later Brent is in a dark place, troubled by guilt over the death of his father and unable to cope with his mother’s fragile emotional state. However things aren’t all bad, he has a wonderful girlfriend, Holly (Victoria Thaine) and a good mate Paul (Andrew S. Gilbert), who has just scored a date to the school dance with Mia (Jessica McNamee). Out of the blue, Brent is asked to the dance by quiet girl Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy), he politely declines, unwittingly setting in motion his worst nightmare.

Taking a walk with his dog before the dance, Brent is drugged and kidnapped; he wakes dressed in a suit, tied to a chair in a rural kitchen which is crudely decorated for a party. Staring at him around the table is a lobotomised old woman, an odd looking man and Lola… she’s dressed for the dance.

Brent is the guest of honour and is made aware very early on what Lola and her father (John Brumpton) have in store for him… a syringe, hammer, knife and drill are on the menu. 

It’s difficult to take a well worn idea and breathe new life into it. Sean Byrne has done that and more with ‘The Loved Ones’. Byrne has crafted a fantastic script that is full of warmth, violence and dark humour. He gives us believable characters, Brent, his mother and girlfriend anchor the movie with emotional depth; best friend Paul and his hilarious date with Mia provide some wonderfully awkward comic relief, and of course Lola and her father deliver the tension and violence.

The actors are all perfectly cast, Xavier Samuel is excellent as Brent, his portrayal of the insular, depressed teenager who realises through the pain that he actually has so much to live for is fantastic. Robin McLeavy and John Brumpton share an incredibly disturbing dynamic as Lola and ‘Daddy’; she’s terrifyingly real as sadistic, unhinged Lola, he is more restrained, but no less frightening as the doting dad, they play off each other perfectly. The characters are so convincing that when Lola says: “Bring the hammer Daddy” we wince at the possibilities.

Without wanting to reveal too much about how the movie unfolds, there are some incredible scenes of violence and gore that will satisfy any horror fans bloodlust. Lola’s creative use of a fork is one of the more disturbing scenes. Byrne keeps the action moving along, inter-cutting between the  prom, Holly and his mothers attempts to find him and of course Brent’s problems. Byrne keeps you engaged and focused on the present throughout so when the movie shifts gears the effect is shocking, brutal and has a last half hour that you’re unlikely to forget.   

The movie is taut, tense and doesn’t overstay its welcome at 85 minutes. It’s been compared to numerous horror movies, but is an original take on the kidnap/torture genre and is destined for cult status.

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars

Any Good: 5 out of 5 stars

Sydney’s Make-Up Effects Group to do zombie flick

More news related to yesterdays article about Tom Savini:

Update from if Magazine: Sydney special effects veteran Nick Nicolaou is doing all he can to get his zombie project off the ground. It’s been a long journey for British-born Nicolaou – co-founder (along with Paul Katte) of Sydney’s award-winning Make-Up Effects Group – who is currently seeking investment for horror/thriller Mary Doe – the first in his ‘Femme Fatale’ trilogy.

The ambitious filmmaker is creating a fanbase online through an innovative marketing campaign. It’s through this marketing campaign that he hopes will get people talking before the film even goes into pre-production, which will happen once investment is found. “We’ve created an attractive project for investors and fans,” Nicolaou said.

Nicolaou, who has the support of Oscar-winner Richard Taylor behind him, is seeking a preliminary budget of $4 million. “Persistence is the only way you’re going to get over the line,” said Nicolaou, who was inspired from horror/sci-fi movies and comics from the ‘70s and ‘80s. “I kind of feel that it’s in my blood to make this project.”

The Creative Nerve Entertainment/Genre Pictures project has been in development for about two years after another – Paradise Lost – didn’t come to fruition after unfortunate timing and other events.

Nicolaou, who penned the 110-page script, will take on directing and producing duties. “It’s quite an intimate story,” said Nicolaou, 46, who has continually been refining the story for two years. “It’s not just a slasher gore fest…there will be amazing effects and calibre of a much higher production, like a $15-20 million American feature. “But we’re not just relying on the special effects…it’s a really strong story.”

The team at Make-Up Effects Group, which has worked on such projects as The Matrix trilogy and Nightmare & Dreamscapes, have already built animatronic creatures and miniatures for Mary Doe.

The website – launched last weekend – details information on the project while not giving too much away.

Creator of the online campaign, Daniel Gallahar, started on the project more than a year ago. The free zombie game The Undead Zone – a mod based on Left For Dead 2 – is about 80 per cent finished and will be launched in about five weeks. The first-person co-op game, designed by Alex Young, is based on the film and will even have its own soundtrack. A featurette on the making of The Undead Zone has just been released.

Information on the film, including the synopsis, is on the official website. A Blog detailing the filmmakers’ journey is also online.

Redd Inc.

Visit the homepage of ‘Redd Inc’ One of the movies mentioned in the earlier Tom Savini post…

Redd Inc. Synopsis: The story of a capricious, officious and vicious boss (Redd) who traps his victims and forces them to work in an horrific office of his own insane creation. They are tasked with a seemingly impossible job which they must complete or face a grisly “termination”.

Redd Inc. is created by Green Light Productions Pty Limited based in Sydney Australia. The production company has created film and television programs since 1993 and is owned and managed by Redd Inc. co-writer and producer Jonathon Green. This project is not beholden to any major corporation… it is fiercely independent. It is being made by a genuine band of independent film makers who have developed a bold project that they hope thousands will want to get involved in.

Tom Savini out of retirement for new Aussie horror

Tom Savini comes out of retirement for 2 new Aussie horror films reports if Magazine.

After almost a decade, horror legend Tom Savini has come out of retirement on makeup and effects to work on two new Australian horror films. The man who was responsible for creating special effects and makeup for such classics as George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, oversaw and assisted in creating the effects for Redd Inc and upcoming zombie flick Mary Doe.

Redd Inc, developed by award-winning producer Jonathon Green, is currently in Post Production, while Mary Doe, created by Nick Nicolaou, is in development.

Independent flick ‘Redd Inc.’ is a horror revenge story that follows Annabelle – a burlesque webcam stripper – who gets abducted and ends up chained to a desk with five others in a macabre, horrific make-shift office. Their self-appointed “boss” is escaped, wrongly-convicted serial killer Thomas Reddmann, aka Redd, demented from experimental, behaviour modification treatment. He requires Annabelle and his other “workers”, who were all participants in his trial, to find the true serial killer… or die horribly. The innovative filmmakers offered “everyday people” the chance to submit their creative work – such as music, videos, images and artwork – through their website, last year.

In what was a dream come true for the Aussie filmmakers, Savini, aka Sex Machine in classic flick From Dusk Till Dawn, was involved in the project via phone and in-person, and was on-set during the shoot in March. He initially got involved after attending the International Make-Up Artist Trade Show in Sydney last year. “Tom was a great guy; of course he had great ideas and he let us play with our ideas,” says Nicolaou, whose company he co-founded, Make-Up Effects Group, created the effects. “Tom made sure that we were discussing the process properly with the producers and making sure that we hadn’t missed any ideas and he was throwing in his two cents and we would throw in our two cents and then we’d bring in an effect together quite nicely and it was a lot of fun. “It was just fun on set, he brought a lot of energy to the project and it was always fun doing an effect – a bloody effect – in front of him.”

The “Godfather of Gore” even has a cameo in the film, which is set to be released later this year. The horror icon will also contribute his award-winning effects skills to upcoming zombie fest Mary Doe and has already lent his voice to the film’s online game The Undead Zone. The creators of the horror/thriller are currently looking for investment funds.

Most recently, Savini appeared in highly-entertaining action film Machete, starring Danny Trejo. His last film that he did makeup effects on was 2002’s Ted Bundy. He is set to play the lead, alongside Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees in several Friday the 13th sequels), in upcoming 3D film Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood.