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Friday, March 6, 2015

My Review Of “Scream Machine” Anthology


scream machineWalter Ruether's latest SOV horror anthology returns to a more classic time when fun, playful horror hosts lead us into our nightmares. The anthology contains five shorts ranging from revenge killings to psychotic breakdowns, presented by Dr. Fry and Dr. "Head'ly" Graves. The series kicks off by placing us in a time where all of Earth has been ravaged by plague and chaos. Ebola wipes out most of humanity and what remains is small bands of people craving entertainment. The Doctors are left with a copy of the only source of that entertainment in a little low budget horror anthology titled "Scream Machine".

There is a cool intro featuring indie SOV icon, Lloyd Kaufman, which is carried into the beginning narrative set-up by Dr. Fry.The story we are giving is a bit over complicating to the host segment, not in complexity as much as it is unnecessary. The horror hosts are engaging, the back-n-forth is amusing and the atmosphere is set. All the extra info and back story stuff just bogs down the piece. The segment does hold the anthology together and leads us comfortably into each of the twisted tales. I love horror hosted series and it is nice to see Fry back on the scene.

The first short which really sets the attitude and perspective of Ruether's film is " Sledgehammer". The short follows a pitcher and catcher being scouted, a grotesque mishap then leads into classic horror finality. "Sledgehammer" is a revenge piece that holds to the normal premise for anthology shorts. You know, the whole wrongs are righted based on the principles of revenge. Now the story begins simple enough, the story makes sense enough if you take them at face value. I didn't really by those to characters as they were presented to me as athletes or rising stars in the game. It doesn't stop the story dead and the arc holds from beginning to end. The cool, bit about "Sledgehammer" is the finale with the masked killer, more gore and that bit of dark humor.

Up next we have "Cannibal Pen Pals". This short was set in the 90's and a twisted love letter to Dahmer. It is an odd choice not just for the subject matter but for the character set up. Separate both parts of this story, the husband on the down low, and the obsessed Dahmer, are plausible, acceptable premises, I just personally found it contradictory when combined in a single character.Still, it is a completed, nicely directed piece that is twisted enough that some macabre amusement can be found. I didn't care for the ending, but it is interesting when writers chose to break with acceptable norms and let the evil win in the end without retribution. It is hard to make it work in a way that is satisfying.

The third horror short, " April's Fool Party" is a fun, totally wrong short filled with geeked-up dope fiends, and a cracked out dealer. Right up my alley, I am a sucker for drug fueled mayhem. The look and feel is a bit more reductive in quality compared, but strangely enough it is the best thus far in the line-up. The middle section with the April Fool's trick is dark, modern horror with evil delinquents run a muck. I liked this one right up to the uneventful ending. There was so much publish build up to what should have been a thrilling, twisted ending. Unfortunately it just ends with a shrugged "oh well" attitude. Plus like the second there is no real morality of action and consequence that usually ends these situations.

"Septic Shock" follows up "April Fool's Party" and tests the gag reflex. Hateful spouse, an affair , and easy access to the septic take does not bode well for one man. The way this short is directed and filmed is great in pushing the viewer into believing the premise. Obscure angles, shadows, special effects and sound all create the gross atmosphere. Anything with fecal matter grosses me out anyway, so this one did an effective job at reaching its intended objective and is a touch back to earlier Ruether stuff found in his previous anthologies.

The final horror short is titled "Deadly Indie Drive-in". It like the first falls back to the classic horror short set-up. A drive-in date, a lady off her meds and delusional make fore some classic low budget gruesomeness. The story is well written, it is twisted and satirical. A strong short to finish the series on. The special effects moment that centers everything in this one is a bit cheap and takes from the piece a bit but overall it is the second strongest, and goriest in " Scream Machine" and everything around this scene in question is done right, so it is a fun, entertaining twisted tale that I enjoyed.

Overall "Scream Machine" is by far the best of Walter Ruether, and gives good SOV . The jewel of the anthology is of course the horror segments that hold the series together. Fun, entertaining moments that take me back to early horror hosts. I never got the connection between the anthology's title and the hosting set-up but I like the title, I like the theme song so I am cool with that. The stand out shorts for me personally are "Septic Shock"and " Deadly Indie Drive-in". The film has moments that hit and moments that miss. Same rings true with the practical effects. The soundtrack and effects are total energy and vibe well in "Scream Machine". Just know that this is low budget home grown horror when you set down to watch it. It is not an anthology that will please everyone and haters will hate. I personally enjoyed it, and appreciate it for what it is, a real indie, home grown horrorfest that gets the relationship between the twisted minds and the funny bone.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spring Release Date Announced For “How To Save Us”


how to save usA spring release date has been announced for Jason Trost's “How To Save Us” ('The FP', 'All Super Heroes Must Die'). The film will hit theatrical release on June 5th, 2015 and stars Trost, Coy Jandreau, Tallay Wickham. Check out the promo artwork for the sci-fi/ horror.

Brian's younger brother Sam goes missing in Tasmania during the middle of a mysterious quarantine. Brian must travel to the deserted island to save his brother from a land now solely inhabited by demonic spirits. In order to survive, he must follow a set of rules: including covering himself with human ashes, to cloak his presence from the malevolent entities haunting the barren landscape. But will this buy enough time for Brian to find his brother, or will they both be stuck in a hellish realm of the dead forever?







My Review Of “The Joe Show”


the joe show“The Joe Show” is Daniel Falicki’s love letter to post-contemporary, arthouse, psycho drama theatre. The film takes inspiration from the cult cinema of the 60;s, primarily the films that featured the art/beatnik culture as a component. Falicki takes that and shoves it deep in the cut of the modern, serial madman, character study. “The Joe Show” stars Joseph McIntosh as Joe, a man trapped with then the pain of a mundane existence, and fighting the deep rage building within who just happens to find some relief through open mic night at the local hotspot.

“The Joe Show” plays on the title character’s own internal conflict between a repetitious cycle of exposure to a society he feels is without merit, and his own moral obligations to exist within society. Told in a dichotomy of emotional, and expressive dialog scenes where Joe is focused in a spotlight type setting, and dramatic, action scenes of Joe’s life and spiral into madness as his “dark companion” manifests in an imaginary friend called Charlie Nubbins . The whole thing is enveloped under a biographical framework with intimate, raw moments that are truly compelling, stripped down, and well written, and directed.

Even if there wasn’t a drop of blood or corpse exposed in “The Joe Show” it would still be a pretty quality indie flick. There is so much that screams cult classic in the film that the thing would be just fine without, but it is a nice additive to have that practical, low budget bit of effects added to “The Joe Show”. The scenes are darker than the lighter, often humorous scenes that just prove a real connection to the untethered, non-contrived relationship between horror and humanity found in Falicki’s writing. Not just here but in many of his films. The effects are done with an acceptance of budget restraints, and a consideration for practicality. They work in creating the monstrosity that Joe inflicts on his victims without cheapening the moments with complete lack of quality.

Overall, “The Joe Show” is just more proof that Daniel Falicki’s talents move forward toward real substance of artistry, in both telling a chilling story, and an understanding of where to find modern horror that connects with viewers. Even in the darker, more sinister moments there isn’t a real cold sense of brutality. It is suggestive by Joe’s deeds, but it isn’t full on gore, sexploitation stuff. You identify with the fact that Joe’s current break with rationality comes from a place of pain. Not that there isn’t a real monster here because Joe the cabdriver is a true monster. Definitely check out “The Joe Show” because it is a cut above the normal psycho, low budget indie flicks out there.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Review Of “All Sinner’s Night”


286-413-largeBobby Easley’s “All Sinners Night” is a Halloween horror showdown that puts Satan back in play in one community’s tradition, as a couple seeking answers come face-to-face with a brutal devil cult. The film stars John Dugan, Tom Spark, Sal Lizard, Brittany Jesse, Bob Shaw and Jackie Palmer. Here is the plot to “All Sinners Night”:

Halloween marks the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Daniel, Lana Williams' brother. Although he is considered dead by the authorities, Lana is obsessed with finding him and stumbles across a local investigative reporter whose wife committed suicide a year ago on the exact same night.

He suspects a satanic cult is actually responsible for her death. Believing there is a link connecting the deaths, they travel to a small rural town in Indiana. Meanwhile, the Reverend Hiram Graves and his Hand of Glory ministry roll into town and hold a bizarre tent revival to save the souls of the wicked. As Halloween night approaches, a murderous cult of masked killers descend upon the town to kidnap and sacrifice five victims - one for each point of the pentagram. How far will Lana and David go to discover something more evil than they ever imagined had happened to Daniel?

“All Sinners Night” has a pretty cool story concept that stumbles some hurtles as it attempts to complete a very complex story arc. With a mix of psychological thriller and extreme gore, the film brings out some strong subject matter as well as brain matter. The acting is hit-and-miss with the unfortunate miss coming from the main characters that are to drive the emotional connection to the “victimized”. Lines are delivered with awkwardness as the two actors stumble over heightened emotions to give us dialog. There is some nice character deliveries in this film, mostly from the victimizers who gives early Bressack style driven cruelty to their characters. An almost to real feel, which is awesome.

The scenes are staged in a nice, somewhat surreal, nightmare-obscura way that is also nice to see from Easley’s cinematography, and his own guidance of course. There is a heavy, sinister atmosphere that really brings the horror to “All Sinners Night”. Unfortunately a lot of the acting is either over-kill, or muddled with bad line-delivery. Except from the afore mentioned cast members. The notable stand out is the twisted preacher man. He looks and feels as evil as any that can come from a horror setting such as this.

Now the special effects in “All Sinners Night” kicks some major ass on indie, low budget scale. The scenes and practical effects own this beast from start to finish. There is brutality that feels like real life crimes taking place, blood splatter and gore a plenty throughout the film. And it isn’t that off screen suggestive stuff that most low budget films use, often successfully, but this is full frontal assault mayhem that shows the faith placed in the FX departments hands. The soundtrack and effects are a blend of punk rock, rock-a-billy, spook show stuff that keep the energy up for a lot of the film. Just know that the pesky flaws with the main characters acting kills a lot of the awesomeness that can be found in “All Sinners Night”.

Origin Set To Distribute Thriller “Treachery”


MICHAEL BIEHN TAKES ON DIFFERENT KIND OF ROLE IN THIS LATEST DARK THRILLER

qb81_photo12_5Origin has announced today the distribution for Blanc/Biehn Production’s latest Movie TREACHERY. TREACHERY stars Michael Biehn (Aliens, The Victim, Terminator) along with a fantastic ensemble cast that includes
Jennifer Blanc Biehn (The Divide, Everly, Wrong Cops), Sarah Butler (I Spit on Your Grave remake), Caitlin Keats (Kill Bill, Broken English, Kiss of the Damned ), Chris Meyer (Among Friends) and Matthew Ziff (Truck Stop, Altered Perception, Martial Arts Kid) as his son, Lorraine Ziff, Christian Meoli with Tanya Newbould.  The film is also produced by Javelina 98 and Three Little Birds.

Bringing to life real family drama, lies, and secrets TREACHERY dives into the deep roots that bind a family and the darker untruths that family can create. Travis Romero (TV’s “White Collar”, THE VICTIM) wrote and directed TREACHERY, which centers on a man (Biehn) who is reunited with his estranged son(Ziff) at a remote wedding party. When a storm strands the party, ugly hidden agendas are revealed.

Biehn known for his work in The Terminator and Aliens developed  with  wife Blanc- Biehn  new fun niche for himself producing indie grind house-style productions. Treachery is one of such  via Blanc/Biehn Productions, with his wife and partner Jennifer Blanc Biehn.

“I always love playing humanitarian type characters and characters that are the real good guys,” says Michael Biehn, with a wink and a nod.

“With an incredible cast, Michael and I were excited to take this story and make it come to life,” Jennifer Blanc-Biehn .

“Origin Releasing is very excited to have this film its release slate for 4th quarter of 2015,” says Niko Foster, CEO Origin Releasing. “Michael Biehn is an incredible actor with an incredible fan base and this project will find a great home on VOD and DVD.




First Trailer And News Update For “All Through The House”


atthThe Readmond Company has teamed up with Director/Writer Todd Nunes to bring you a terrorizing, blood-soaked Christmas slasher. ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE stars scream queens Ashley Mary Nunes (SYFY’S ROBOT COMBAT LEAGUE), Jessica Cameron (TRUTH OR DARE), and Jennifer Wenger (JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE). The film’s gory special effects were created by Tommy Pietch of SYFY’S FACE OFF and STAR TREK: RENEGADES.

ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE is an 80s-style slasher film featuring a deranged Santa Slayer who rips through the town of Napa, California for some yuletide-terror.

Fifteen years ago, a peaceful Christmas neighborhood was engulfed by fear when five-year-old Jamie Garrett was mysteriously taken from her bedroom never to be seen again. Now on Christmas break, Rachel Kimmel comes home from college to find her neighborhood struck again by a reign of terror. A violent killer is hiding behind a grisly Santa mask, leaving a bloody trail of slaughtered women and castrated men to the steps of the Garrett house. Rachel finds herself in a horrifying nightmare as she discovers the twisted secret behind the mask.

“This slasher has been brewing in my mind since I was a kid,” says Director/Writer Todd Nunes. “It’s not a rehash of popular Christmas horror movie subplots, like punishing the naughty, Santa obsessed psychos, or death by antlers. This is a dark, scary, violent story that delivers on a big bloody body count, beautiful girls, and lots of terrifying action. It’s everything I love to see in a horror movie – every murder is shown on screen and the anti-hero is a killer with a diabolical, sadistic mystery.”

“Although I loved my character because she is strong and complex, I’m really drawn to the twisted and crazy characters she meets in this movie,” says actress Ashley Mary Nunes (as Rachel Kimmell).

“The Killer in ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE is disturbing, gross and really unique – I’m fascinated by the depraved impulses. I know that everyone is going to love all the gore and violence, but there is also a twisted mystery that ties it all together like a big Christmas bow.”

ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE was shot in 21 days in the summer of 2014 in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Lake Arrowhead, CA. The 95 minute film is currently in post-production.

Director/Writer Todd Nunes graduated with honors from The Los Angeles Film School and studied screenwriting at UCLA’s Writers’ Program. This is the first film by Santa Monica-based The Readmond Company.












     





Official Teaser Trailer #1 For “Cute Little Buggers”


CLBThe first official teaser trailer was released for creature horror “Cute Little Buggers”. The film is described as “Grabbers Meets Hot Fuzz” and one that I have been dying to see! “CLB” is directed by Tony Jopia and stars Caroline Munro, Dani Thompson, Kumud Pant, Gary Martin, Angela Holmes.

From the Director of 'DEADTIME' and 'Crying Wolf' comes Cute Little Buggers! Will you let them take our women? It's Gremlins meets Hot Fuzz set in the English countryside. When hostile aliens crash land on local farmland the villagers at the summer ball get suspicious when young women start going missing. The villagers soon band together around our hero Melchoir to fend off the invaders and bring back peace to the sleepy English countryside!







New Poster And Trailer For “Crying Wolf" 3D


cwSome new poster art, and trailer have been released for upcoming horror “Crying Wolf" 3D, The film is directed by Tony Jopia and stars Andy Davie, Tony Jopia, Michael Dale. “Crying Wolf” is a comedy horror from Tirana Films International, it is a film that takes its wolves serious, choosing to go for the more menacing upright  Lycanthrope made iconic by “The Howling”.

“Crying Wolf" tells the story of strange and weird goings on in a little English village called Deddington. The gruesome death of local girl Charlotte by a rabid monster causes alarm and revulsion - before desperate reporters, crazy detectives and revenge seeking hunters descend on the scene!



CW image

Trailer For Creature Horror “The Fisherman”


The FishermanThe official trailer has been released for creature horror, short film ‘The Fisherman”. The film is directed by Alejandro Suarez Lozano and stars Andrew Ng. “The Fisherman” is set to premiere this month (March)  in the Official Section of 28 Medina Film Festival, Spain. "He fished for life, but the Life caught him"

Mr Wong is a third generation fisherman in Hong Kong, struggling to keep this tradition alive. One night, he decides to leave the crowded waters of the harbour, and fish in calmer waters. His luck changes when he catches something that does not belong to this world.







Official Trailer For “Wendigo Carnage”


Windego CarnageCheck out the official trailer for “Wendigo Carnage”. The film is is a FEATURE LENGTH horror film that follows Ronin, who was just released from prison as he travels back to his hometown to find it plagued by an ancient evil…..a freaking Wendigo summoned from HELL! He must overcome his dark past, reunite with his hot ex-girlfriend (who is a cop) and help save the town he loves…..all while kicking some Wendigo Ass. “Wendigo Carnage” celebrates all the gory awesomeness of grindhouse cinema with a full on creature feature attack!






BBFC Bans Horror Film “HATE CRIME”


HCposterJames Cullen Bressack’s notorious and killer invasion horror “Hate Crime” just can’t seem to get no love!!!! BBFC has banned the film, the first release in a new joint VOD venture between geek blog Nerdly.co.uk and TheHorrorShow.TV - in the UK. It is one of only four horror movies officially refused classification by the BBFC since 2009, the others being Grotesque, The Bunny Game and The Human Centipede 2, later released with nearly 3 minutes of cuts.

Set to be the first release under the new Nerdly Presents banner, HATE CRIME tells the story of a Jewish family, having just arrived in a new neighbourhood, who are recording their youngest son's birthday celebrations on video when their home is suddenly invaded by a bunch of crystal-meth-crazed neo-Nazi lunatics.

The film is the second feature from director James Cullen Bressack (To Jennifer, Blood Lake, 13/13/13), and has already had a successful release in the US, reviewed favourably by the likes of Bloody Disgusting, MoreHorror and even the UK's very own Starburst Magazine.

The full official statement from the BBFC:
"HATE CRIME focuses on the terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse and murder of the members of a Jewish family by the Neo Nazi thugs who invade their home. The physical and sexual abuse and violence are accompanied by constant strong verbal racist abuse. Little context is provided for the violence beyond an on screen statement at the end of the film that the two attackers who escaped were subsequently apprehended and that the one surviving family member was released from captivity. We have considered the attempt at the end to position the film as against hate-crime, but find it so unconvincing that it only makes matters worse. 


HC still"The BBFC's Guidelines on violence state that 'Any depiction of sadistic or sexual violence which is likely to pose a harm risk will be subject to intervention through classification, cuts or even, as a last resort, refusal to classify. We may refuse to classify content which makes sexual or sadistic violence look appealing or acceptable [...] or invites viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities. We are also unlikely to classify content which is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example, it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) that it may pose a harm risk.'



"It is the Board's carefully considered conclusion that the unremitting manner in which HATE CRIME focuses on physical and sexual abuse, aggravated by racist invective, means that to issue a classification to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board's Guidelines, would risk potential harm, and would be unacceptable to broad public opinion."

HC still 2"Of course, the Board will always seek to deal with such concerns by means of cuts or other modifications when this is a feasible option.  However, under the heading of 'Refusal to classify' our Guidelines state that 'As a last resort, the BBFC may refuse to classify a work, in line with the objective of preventing non-trivial harm risks to potential viewers and, through their behaviour, to society. We may do so, for example, where a central concept of the work is unacceptable, such as a sustained focus on sexual or sadistic violence. Before refusing classification we will consider whether the problems could be adequately addressed through intervention such as cuts.' The Board considered whether its concerns could be dealt with through cuts. However, given that the fact that unacceptable content runs throughout the work, cuts are not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification."

Says director James Cullen Bressack: "I am honoured to know that my mind is officially too twisted for the UK. So it goes … I find it unbelievable that a film that shows little to no on screen violence and no nudity was actually banned. it just shows the power of what is implied and peoples imagination; and is a testament to the fact that the same crimes that happen in the world are truly horrifying."


Nerdly.co.uk's Phil Wheat adds: "HATE CRIME was always going to be a contentious title to submit to the BBFC, especially given recent racial tensions. But as part of Nerdly Presents' remit to uncover great underground movies it was worth taking the gamble on James Cullen Bressack's movie. After all, horror is often about pushing boundaries and making your audience uncomfortable. HATE CRIME does that by throwing political correctness out of the window to create a raw, emotive and disturbing film that is a tour-de-force in reality filmmaking, taking the found-footage genre to a whole new level - asking questions of both the filmmakers and the audience. As such it's definitely worth championing."

TheHorrorShow.TV's Jack Bowyer said: "Although it may surprise some people, TheHorrorShow.TV supports classification over censorship, as we would hate for any of our growing number of films to be viewed by an inappropriate audience. We work in collaboration with the British Board of Film Classification to ensure that our content is appropriately rated, but sometimes you need to test boundaries to find out where they are. In the case of HATE CRIME, it appears that the BBFC has deemed the content inappropriate for people of any age, even adults, and regrettably we will be unable to bring the film to the UK as part of our very exciting collaboration with Nerdly."

You can read my review as well as others at the links below:
My Review Of Hate Crime
Starburst Mag
MoreHorror
Bloody Disgusting




The Pending Horrors Of Roger Conners: Part II


RC
Roger Conners and I recently had a rather lengthy conversation about upcoming projects underway for this accomplished talent. Talent that can already be viewed in his earlier films, “Hellementary”, “Hellweek”, and “Voodoo Rising”. Plus we talk about the LGBT community’s rising presence within the horror community. Something both Conners and I both have a passionate interest.  A worthy foundation for what I am sure will be a lengthy career in the indie film industry, notably the horror film industry. The first of this interview, “The Pending Horrors Of Roger Conners: Part I” can be viewed by hitting the highlighted link. Below is the continuation of our conversation where we discuss a bit more of his project “Night Of The Living Dead: Rebirth”, “Slay Bells” (working title), as well as his further pursuits as director.

Our conversation continues with the question of Adam. Rebirth’s slightly different yet familiar storyline as a tribute to the original while bringing a new look to the social commentary heavy classic.
 
ROGER CONNERS:…since the age of seven I have considered two films to be my all time favorites. The first is "The Wizard of Oz" and the second is the original "Night of the Living Dead". These two films are the reason I wanted to start acting to begin with. I can still remember the very first time I saw "Night of the Living Dead". It left such an impression on me and, to be real, sort of messed me up for a few years. I was so terrified of the film that I couldn't even look at the VHS cover without shaking. I can honestly still remember the musky scent of my grandfathers old video cabinet and even that would make me uneasy. For months I had nightmares, yet for some reason I also maintained this strange fascination with the film. I would draw images from the movie on my placemats and recreate scenes with my action figures, yet I couldn't bring myself to watch it again because I was so terrified. Finally I got over the fear and was able to view it again, but that infatuation never faded away. The fear I experienced just developed into this strange appreciation I have for the film. I will always love it and have fantasized of being able to pay homage to it. Rebirth is merely my ultimate fan-film. It's genuinely a dream come true.

RC Rebirth
So what topics are relevant today?

Without answering that directly, I'll throw out a few of my adjustments and you can get where I'm going with this.

There is no Barbara in this script, however there is the character of Adam and he is gay. The Cooper family still remains in tact and their characters are reminiscent of the originals, but Harry is now Reverend Harold Cooper and he is very much based off Fred Phelps, the creator of the Westboro Baptist Church. You get where I'm going with this?


A SOUTHERN LIFE: Completely, the film is drawing a bit off very relevant issues and social commentary in today's culture, with gay equality seen in a vulnerable yet affirmative gay lead, homophobia, things that we face today playing out in a microcosm event, so how was it seeing this dream realized? I saw the footage and I have to say that Rebirth is a cut above the collective past revisions!
ROGER CONNERS: Oh man, it's seriously amazing. Like I said its a dream come true.

A SOUTHERN LIFE: Showcasing the conflict that has arisen in society with the struggle for LGBT equality, battling hatred and homophobia in a microcosm much like the original did with the struggles of its time, how has it been seeing a long time dream realized?
ROGER CONNERS: First of all, thank you for saying that. My DP Noelle Bye is just absolutely amazing at what she does. I've worked with her a handful of times and I trust her more than anyone in the area. She works so hard and has grown so much as a filmmaker over the last few years!

As for the movie itself, man I am so excited to see this thing come together. I've always idolized George Romero for the social commentary he includes in his films and would love to have the same impact with my work. I can only pray that his fans understand the passion I have toward this project and that it's honestly merely intended to be my tribute to the source material.

DP Rebirth
A SOUTHERN LIFE: There  is a powerful movement in our culture today taking place that shows, one day, we will all be accepted and truly equal in life and liberties. With the films you have worked on, highlighting the Adam character in Rebirth, the movement seems to be penetrating the horror community as well. Have you found this to be true, or has there been any resistance to LGBT storylines in the community that you have noticed?
ROGER CONNERS: To be honest, I have yet to receive any real backlash against Adam's character (or any others I've portrayed for that matter) which gives me hope toward the future. I was heavily disappointed about the recent surge of negativity toward "The Walking Dead" regarding the gay kiss, especially since the show is full of violence and cannibalism. Hell, they showed a child perform an impromptu C-section on his own mother resulting in her death. They've shown children die multiple times! Yet a gay kiss is too provocative? How disheartening.

I anticipate an eventual backlash, but I also expect that to be eclipsed by the support of everyone who knows how absurd that mentality really is. Homophobia is no longer the norm. I have seen so much love from my growing fan-base and that really drives me to keep expanding on my pro-LGBT material. My goal has never been to make movies that merely appeal to the gay market. Ideally, I hope to create films that appeal to the general public that simply include strong gay characters. Chill was by no means a "gay film", yet it has a gay lead. And you know what? Thus far, people have loved it. Gay and straight alike.


RC Rebirth_2A SOUTHERN LIFE: Not only do you portray an iconic character from the film as a gay male lead, but you also direct on "Night Of The Living Dead:Rebirth". What was it like directing this film, knowing the special meaning the film holds for you, and balancing both hats as director and actor?
ROGER CONNERS: It was a lot of pressure, but in the best way possible. Since I am such a diehard fan of the original, I'm constantly trying to compare my work to that footage and ensure I'm living up to the quality and suspense. At the same time, I don't want to it to be a scene for scene remake. Luckily, I've had a great group of talent both in front and behind the camera to support me and help guide me when I'm spinning so many plates. They've been such a blessing. All in all, I love the pressure and don't have much of a dilemma with handling so many titles. I sort of enjoy it, to be real!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: That is how it should be, an all inclusive representation shown not as an abnormality of extremes, but as a simple truth of what makes up our society! Over the past decades more gay characters and storylines have appeared in pop culture, more noticeable in horror & sci-fi genre mediums of late. It is sad how the reaction toward TWD's showing of a normal, healthy gay storyline, but I was shocked over the response to the Cheerios commercial as well! It is clear that the bulk of your work included positive LGBT aspects to the stories. Not so much as gay cinema but simply as horror. From chill to the current film you are working on, Slay Bells. Tell me a bit about this film's story and especially the character you play- Lady Athena.
ROGER CONNERS: I was pretty thrilled with the opportunity to play a character who represented another aspect of our community. Lady Athena is a drag queen and definitely a bold personality to go with that. I'm a huge supporter of everything LGBT related and I feel privileged to have the chance to portray a character who gives me such fresh material to work off of! She is so fun but also written to be a real human, not just a spoof or a parody. Sure, she has her comedic moments but she also tends to be the most real character in the whole film. I think she will prove to be somewhat cutting edge and ahead of her time, especially for appearing in a film that didn't necessarily need to include such a unique character.

Lady Athena
A SOUTHERN LIFE: Ah so the film isn't John Waters-esque trash cinema satire? What is the atmosphere of this film, and what can fans expect from Lady Athena and the rest of the characters in Slay Bells?
ROGER CONNERS: Well to be honest the director is a HUGE John Waters fan, but keep in mind he has had a huge impact on bringing gay-media to the public-eye. John Waters does push boundaries, but he also introduced personalities such as Divine to movie-goers who probably hadn't had exposure to drag queens prior to that. So I do have respect for John Waters and his films, no matter how "trashy" they may be.
Now Athena does have her moments of glamour, please be assured! She has two lavish dance numbers and a costume change along with a barrage of witty jokes that go hand in hand with her personality. But she also proves to be the brains of the group and quite the fighter. That girl is determined to make it out alive!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: Oh of course Waters is iconic and his films are amazing! My instinctive response was that this film would be reminiscent or in the vein of John Waters. I just didn't want to presume so, in light of the darker horror elements.
ROGER CONNERS: I assure you that you shall receive both glamour and horror in large amounts. Athena is a character unlike this audience has experienced and I feel that they will come to accept her with open arms.

SB setA SOUTHERN LIFE: She sounds like a force to be reckoned with, and visually Athena is set to be an cult, iconic character!  So how has the filming experience been on set, both with the director and your cast mates?

ROGER CONNERS: I've known Eddie Lengyel for almost ten years now and our relationship is one for the record books, believe me. We've had our ups and downs believe me, but at the end of the day he is one of my closest friends and we really just get each others visions. In this business it is so easy to become passionate and opinionated and the sooner you realize that, the less conflict you can avoid down the road!

As for the cast, I am really just amazed by the level of talent in this one! I'm working with some really amazing actors in this and I honestly feel the pressure to up my game! Everyone is so wonderful though and I've made so many amazing friendships on this set. I feel our chemistry really translates well on film. I think viewers will pick up on that immediately!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: The onset chemistry is important, as a fan and movie reviewer I can usually tell if the cast click or not off set. It can kill a film. Sounds like that will not be a problem for Slay Bells! Tell me about some of the darker elements of the film, are the scenes surreal, giallo or more visceral splatter-gore?
ROGER CONNERS: You know, this early on it's kind of hard for me to real go in depth about it. I haven't filmed any of my violent scenes yet, however I know that there is a lot of gore to balance out the humor. The movie is definitely going to have it's moments of humor, but I'm pretty confident that the suspense and violence will take precedence. I suppose only time will tell. These things always take on a mind of their own. But no matter what I can assure you that there will be blood!

Cali vid
A SOUTHERN LIFE: Everything about this film has me excited to see the final product! It sounds like a film the fans will really enjoy-gay and straight alike. Which is how cinema should be! I want to thank you so much for taking time out to talk with me. Before we end this interview is there anything that I didn't get to that you would like to discuss, future projects or plans?

ROGER CONNERS: Oh wow, now that's a loaded question! Aside from all my films I also wanted to point out that I helped co-direct the music-video for "Centerfold", the first single from the "Raw Focus" soundtrack! It's performed by the stunning Cali Miles and it's definitely a banger! I think the gays will love this one so make sure you guys check it out!
Aside from that, I'm just excited for the future and I really want to thank all of the fans for their support! Also, thank YOU for always supporting my projects as well as for hosting this interview! I love your blog and think you're great! Sitting down and chatting with you is always a pleasure!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: How was it directing this [music video]?
ROGER CONNERS: Directing is something that I really love and have always wanted to explore further. I've found that I naturally have a good eye for these things and really enjoy giving guidance to my actors to help create the perfect moment. I can only hope that they feel I am a capable director!
As for the music video specifically, I really enjoyed that experience and hope to get the chance to work on more of them. Cali Miles is so natural on camera and she just exudes sex-appeal, so I barely had to direct her! Working with her was a joy and I really hope this track proves to be a success for her!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: So will we have to wait for the film to be released to see the music video? Is the single out now or is that marked for later on as well?- Can you tell I am eager to check it out!

ROGER CONNERS: I'm so happy you asked

(At which point Roger sends me the link to Cali Miles “Centerfold” video)



A SOUTHERN LIFE: I love the stripped, industrial, urban style against the glam sex look. You're talent translates well as director! I think Cali will do well as a up'n'coming gay icon. So how has the response been thus far? She is obviously already set to be a horror hottie!
ROGER CONNERS: Oh the gays are loving it! And not only did she record the single for our soundtrack but she also makes a cameo in the film! She was such a joy to work with and I really want to see her break out in the industry (more so then she already has that is)!


crew cast Cali vidA SOUTHERN LIFE: Well congrats on the response, and I am sure Cali will be on everyone's lips soon enough! So any directing projects in the pipeline that we can look for, horror or music side?
ROGER CONNERS: Well I did put my project "What We Saw" on hiatus in order to pursue "Night of the Living Dead: Rebirth", but I certainly do intend to start production on that in the next year or so. I love that script and cannot wait to see it come to fruition. Aside from that, I really do hope to see "Chill: 2 the Bone" happen sooner then later. As I said earlier in the interview, that all just depends on the success of the first one. I love the idea for the sequel and think that the trilogy could really prove to be something awesome!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: It sounds like the future is set to be as busy for you as well, I hope Chill 2 gets the green light also, and hope to see "What We Saw" develop fully as well. You will have to keep me informed if the project moves forward, not if but when!
ROGER CONNERS: Oh always! You're one of my most trusted go-to's! The great thing about the independent horror scene is the fact that it is such a tight-knit community! I have a few bloggers I have gotten to know really well and consider good friends! I love having a chance to share my craft with them and always appreciate their feedback and promotion!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: It goes without saying that it has been a privilege to be among those bloggers you you call friend! Thank you for letting me take up your time and I wish you nothing but positive response as all these films edge toward release!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The RIP Horror International Film Festival


RIPFebruary is known for being the Women in Horror Recognition Month, but according to L.J. Rivera, founder and director of the RIP Horror InternationalFilm Festival, the vital contribution of women to the genre must be celebrated all year round.

Starting this year, the RIP Horror International Film Festival has created the Best Female Filmmaker Award which will be granted to the work of an outstanding female director of horror films. This prestigious honor will be added to the already exciting lineup, including awards for Legend of Horror and Rising Star.


“I want to contribute to the empowerment of women working in the business for the advancement of the horror genre. Award winning female filmmakers like Maria Olsens, Adriana Polito, Patricia Chica, and Jessica Cameron are making the difference. We want to support the achievements of outstanding filmmakers like these who are creating some of the most exciting and innovative work in the genre, as well as promote undiscovered talent waiting to explode onto the scene,” says the festival founder L.J. Rivera.

LJRivera

Additionally, the festival will unveil the new darkly exquisite statuette called the "Bloody Doll Award." These dolls are the original hand-crafted creations of brilliant designer Deborah Blount of Deborahz Demented Dollz and will surely become a highly sought after collector’s item. 

The 3rd edition of the RIP Horror International Film Festival will be held on October 30th and 31st 2015 in Hollywood, CA. Just in time for Halloween!

RIP Horror International Film Festival is now accepting submissions. Horror filmmakers of all genders, ages, and level of experience are invited to submit via these three platforms: Festhome.com, FilmFreeway.com and ClickforFestivals.com.
The RIP Horror International Film Festival is the one event "Everyone is Dying to get in!”








The Pending Horrors Of Roger Conners: Part I


RCRecently I was scanning through my Instagram and came across an image that seemed to electrify me senses. Being slightly obsessed with horror this is something that happens often, just not on a level as the image of Roger Conners in character for his new film. The image practically jumped out of my Instagram feed. In character, Roger posed, showing off the long multicolored hair of royal, aqua, purple, with jet black roots. Wearing a sort of "Santa baby" holiday kit, a face beat for the gods, and eyebrows that would make Peaches Christ take notice, this was not Roger Conners. Standing iconic, off the edge of my feed, was the Lady Athena. I instinctively shot Roger a line to get the details of this character and of this latest project! A holiday slasher filming in Cleveland, OH, working title "Slay Bells"- music to my twisted ears!

I imagine most people now days that sees a film that has drag queens, gay themes or any aspect of LGBT culture roll their eyes, and murmur some sentiment usually reserved for when they hear of a new zombie flick hitting production, or comic book adaptation coming to a network near you! It does seem, at times, that there is an over-saturation of gayness in today's media, but growing up as a child of the 70's and 80's, for me it can never be too much. Because we, on the whole, as a community and subject have gone from " plague", clown, punching bag, and punch line, to being something of substance, an equal. Seen as strong and a asset in mainstream media, hell in society! So yeah, I get excited over gay characters, gay themes or any strong gay presence in a horror film! And, to see gay actors actually chosen to portray the characters on film is saying a lot about how far we have come as a society!


The point being, it is nice to see that films are being made that not only speak to me as a horror fan, but as a gay horror fan. More importantly films, when all is said and done, remain horror films and not gays films that have horror elements. Take my word for it, there is a difference. The latter usually only relates to the gay mindset, and the horror is often mild. Horror films that relate to gay horror fans are the ones that stay every bit as heavy and gritty as you want, they just happen to have an equal gay presence along side the traditional themes of horror. These are the sort of films that Roger Conners seeks out to be a part of, as an actor, writer, director and producer. I first became acquainted with him in 2013 while interviewing the then, 26 year old, for his roles in "Hellementary" which had just found a place in heavy rotation on Chiller, and "Chill: The Killing Game".

Since our last interview in 2013 Roger Conners has maintained a very busy schedule. Aside from the film that has me already giddy for the 2015 Holiday season, there is " Raw Focus", a film that blends sexploitation with survival horror, one that already has a lot of buzz surrounding its pending release. "Raw Focus" was recently voted the 2nd most anticipated horror film for the 2015 year by Horror Society readers. Then there is Conners' own film, a revision of Romero's classic "Night Of The Living Dead" which he wrote and directs. This is a slightly different story than the Romero tale, but having seen footage I can say that it keeps with the original premise without being a poor reproduction. Not to mention that "Chill:The Killing Game" has been picked up for worldwide distribution, which is where my interview begins with Roger Conners.

A SOUTHERN LIFE: You have been very busy with acting, writing and I believe producing. Are you enjoying staying so busy?
ROGER CONNERS: There's certainly always a level of joy to be had on these sets, no doubt about it. They are such a great distraction for me, especially when the rest of my life seems to be a bit out of control. The last year was a bit hectic so these recent projects really helped keep me on the right track and maintain my focus. I always appreciate that. Now, that's not to say there isn't an amplified level of stress that comes in tow! Anybody else who works in this business knows what I'm talking about, but it's all just part of the package. In the end I know it's all worth it. That's why I keep doing it.

A SOUTHERN LIFE:And doing it, you are! You are currently filming a holiday slasher, and you have Raw Focus, Chill, and Night Of The Living Dead: Rebirth in various stages of post production and on festival circuit, so you must be gearing up for promoting these projects as well?
ROGER CONNERS: Yeah, you know I've always loved the promotional aspect of these things. Outside of the film scene I actually work in marketing so I suppose it just comes naturally. I don't know, I'm just a schmoozer at heart I suppose. It's all about making yourself look good at what you do and knowing the right people and making the right contacts. I live for that shit.

Now, once these projects get out of my hands I don't have as much control over the promotional aspect. Chill was recently picked up for distribution and thus the title was changed to "Chill: The Killing Games". I had nothing to do with that, but I get it. It's all about making the movie sound more marketable. It was a smart move on behalf of the distributors, for sure. All I can do is stand in the background and cheer them on and cross my fingers that people will actually come out of the woodwork and see it!

And of course, an occasional interview now and then never hurts...


A SOUTHERN LIFE: I was getting ready to ask about Chill's status. When we last talked in 2013 the film was in limbo, so congrats on having it picked up! Does that make you more excited to see the horror fans reaction to the film, or more nervous?
ROGER CONNERS: A bit of both, I suppose. Thus far, people seem to really be enjoying the film. We've managed to maintain a 7.5 rating on IMDB since the first screening back in 2013. Since then, its been screened by countless fans and critics alike and we have yet to receive a truly negative review! Now, that's not to say that it will never happen. People are entitled to their opinions. I suppose I'm just shocked that we've managed to secure such a loyal fan-base. It makes me really proud. So yeah, I'm definitely eager to see what happens to the movie once it becomes available to the public. Will it become a cult classic or will viewers end up slamming it? I honestly have no idea. Like I said earlier in the interview, all I can do is sit back and cross my fingers. These things are out of my control.

RC ChillA SOUTHERN LIFE: Exactly! I know I enjoyed it and the mythos surrounding the game itself has franchise written all over it. Is the sequel still on? And as for Chill:The Killing Game, when will horror fans get to see the game begin?
ROGER CONNERS: The sequel is certainly being discussed and the idea is slowly evolving. The minds behind the project all agreed that they wouldn't pursue Chill 2 until distribution was secured. Well, now that's the case, but that doesn't ensure its going to necessarily be a huge hit! We want it to be so that's why the idea of Chill 2 has been developed, but I don't think cameras will start rolling until we know where the masses stand with the first one. I think that's a smart move since we are working on an indie level, but I'll admit that I would definitely love to play Kyle one (or two) more times!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: Kyle is a very eclectic persona and holds his on in the film! How much of Kyle is you, and how much is pure fiction? To elaborate on that point, Kyle starts out appearing stereotypical but you soon realize that he is much more. He is confident, strong willed, and witty. When faced with a moment of vulnerability he immediately finds strength to to deal with it.
ROGER CONNERS: One of the great things about the development of "Chill" was the fact that the director Meredith Holland allowed us to have a lot of input on our characters as she created them and fleshed them out. I actually wanted to play Kyle in a way that wasn't your stereotypical "gay". He isn't "fabulous". He's not decked out in designer clothing. To make it simple, the kid just isn't confident. There are aspects of my personality that come through in the performance but I purposely wanted Kyle to register a bit more awkward. You'd never expect him to man-up and go into survival mode, yet by final act of the film that's exactly what happens. Kyle is not your typical hero and I kind of love that about him.


rfA SOUTHERN LIFE: Exactly he is how we all feel and he becomes what we all hope for ourselves. I related to his weaknesses, he expressed outwardly what a deal with internally so the development process with Kyle's character is inspiring. I hope the horror fans, especially the gay fans get that about the film!Now how does your character in Raw Focus differ from Kyle? You play Chatham in that film, right?
ROGER CONNERS: Chatham is the complete polar opposite of Kyle in almost every way possible. The guy is a former model/adult film actor who has spent the last decade or so cleaning up his act and creating a name for himself behind the camera, dabbling in makeup, hair, and fashion. He owns an upscale salon and spa and is renowned for his cutting edge looks. He's a big personality and a bit of a father-figure for some of the younger, up and coming models who aren't quite accustomed to how harsh the business can truly be. He's a lot of fun and a very big personality and I had a great time playing him!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: A vast difference! Raw Focus takes on the adult erotica industry with a modern twist. The description reads very exploitation meets road horror. What can we expect from Raw Focus?
ROGER CONNERS: Um, a lot violence, gore, and a shit ton of boobies! No, seriously, there's a lot of nudity. Myself included!


A SOUTHERN LIFE: So it is full on NC-17 sexploitation! I know that it was voted 2nd most anticipated film by Horror Society readers!
ROGER CONNERS: It was, which was super flattering! I attribute a lot of that to Benny Benzino who plays the films lead villain "Razorface"! Somehow, the guy has managed to turn his Facebook fan-page into our greatest form of promotion! He's garnered nearly 15,000 fans thus far and they're all chomping at the bit to see the movie. Pretty badass, you know?

rf_2A SOUTHERN LIFE: He is commanding and intimidating in all the right ways on screen. A great asset to any cast. Raw Focus sounds like a throw back to the video nasty days, erotic photo shoot set in the killing fields of psychopaths in the middle of nowhere. Classic nightmare situation. So tell me about Chatham's place in this terrifying scenario? Without giving away any spoilers, of course!
ROGER CONNERS: Chatham is in charge of the costuming and makeup for this specific photo-shoot which is being orchestrated by "world-renowned" erotic-photographer Salem, who is played by Pakob Jarernpone. Salem is preparing to release a book of his greatest works, and these photos are meant to be the main attraction. He's specifically selects a model from each major genre and brings them to this plot of land in the middle of nowhere. Of course it's in the middle of nowhere. How else are you going to start killing them off?

So to keep this simple and sweet, the crew comes face to face with a trio of bounty hunters who just so happen to use those woods to dispose of the bodies of their victims. Shit hits the fan and, of course, chaos ensues.


A SOUTHERN LIFE: It sounds like an epic survivalist nightmare! Sow when can we expect Raw Focus to be released?
ROGER CONNERS: It will be premiering late this spring in Cleveland. From there we will be pursuing distribution. With the amount of breasts in this one, I feel we will be successful in that area.

NOTLD RA SOUTHERN LIFE: Oh no doubt, plus the fan's buzz that has started over the film already, distribution should be quick! Now let's talk about the project that I know is close to your heart- Night Of The Living Dead:Rebirth! Why a remake of this film considering how many are in circulation what makes Rebirth stand out?
ROGER CONNERS: Ugh... I've been waiting for that question! Might as well get it over with!

A SOUTHERN LIFE: Tell me about the character of Adam. Rebirth is slightly different in design and yet familiar enough that it presents as a tribute to the original.
ROGER CONNERS: So since the age of seven I have considered two films to be my all time favorites. The first is "The Wizard of Oz" and the second is the original "Night of the Living Dead". These two films are the reason I wanted to start acting to begin with. I can still remember the very first time I saw "Night of the Living Dead". It left such an impression on me and, to be real, sort of messed me up for a few years. I was so terrified of the film that I couldn't even look at the VHS cover without shaking.

I can honestly still remember the musky scent of my grandfathers old video cabinet and even that would make me uneasy. For months I had nightmares, yet for some reason I also maintained this strange fascination with the film. I would draw images from the movie on my placemats and recreate scenes with my action figures, yet I couldn't bring myself to watch it again because I was so terrified. Finally I got over the fear and was able to view it again, but that infatuation never faded away. The fear I experienced just developed into this strange appreciation I have for the film. I will always love it and have fantasized of being able to pay homage to it. Rebirth is merely my ultimate fan-film. It's genuinely a dream come true.


rc_notldr
Keep your eyes peeled for part II of my interview with Roger Conners where we talk a bit more about “Night Of The Living Dead: Rebirth”, “Slay Bells”, and Conners ventures into directing as he discusses his directorial debut. Plus the music video for Centerfold by Cali Miles which is featured on the soundtrack for “Raw Focus”. To check out the projects that we discussed thus far in our two part interview hit the links below. Plus hit the link to keep up with Roger Conners future projects and current workings.




CHILL:THE KILLING GAME Facebook Page
RAW FOCUS Facebook Page
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REBIRTH Facebook Page
WILLIAM ROGER CONNERS





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