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Machine Head: Actress Sharon Hinnendael Talks New Horror/Thriller

MachineHeadThe deserts of Los Ranchos, CA aren’t exactly what you would call your typical spring break destination. But for long-time college friends Rachel (Sharon Hinnendael), Chloe (Nicole Zeoli) and Mila (Christina Corigliano) it’s the perfect place for a week of booze, boys and fun in the sun.

When Rachel’s wealthy father offers her the keys to a friend’s amazing desert house, it’s almost a dream come true. That is until she discovers that access to the beautiful home comes with a catch…

Rachel has to take along her two younger, obnoxious sisters (real-life twins Morissa and Alana O’Mara).

Rachel makes plans for her boyfriend and his pals to meet them at the home later that night, but during the drive up the girls find themselves terrorized by a mysterious black muscle car with tinted windows.

Upon reaching the isolated home things really begin to unravel. The boys never show up and the three friends soon discover that what first appears to be a prank turns out to be something much, much worse.

Although an original story on its own, Machine Head scores bonus points by using mild bits and pieces from several great horror films to help get its message of terror across, including elements of Halloween, Scream and even Friday the 13th. And when you combine that trio of terror with three hot girls and a muscle car, what’s not to love?

I spoke with actress Sharon Hinnendael (Rachel) about her experiences working on Machine Head and what she loves most about making horror films.

What attracted you most to this project?

I really liked the script. It wasn’t a typical horror film. I was excited about it from the first time I read it. It was fun and scary. Then I met Jim [Valdez, Director], Christina and Nicole. Everyone was so cool and we all focused on what our job was and brought it to life. This group of people I got really close to. The whole filming process couldn’t have been better.

How would you describe the story of Machine Head?

It’s a story about girls wanting to go away for a break and have a relaxing time, but then they start getting messed with and can’t figure out why or who. I remember we did a lot of night filming in Palm Springs which was really intense. Sometimes we would be out there late at night and I would think “Wow, this is creepy. If this really happened it would be terrifying!” [laughs].

What makes horror such a great genre?

The thing I really love about these movies is being on set and seeing how they’re made. I remember growing up watching The Shining and just being absolutely terrified by it. I have a very creative mind so in the middle of the night I would sometimes see things that weren’t there, or turn something that was there into something else [laughs]. It really had an effect on me. Making horror movies is a cool process to be a part of. Having something be that strong where it can terrorize you really interests me.

Sharon Hinnendael

Sharon Hinnendael

You have an intense crying scene in this film. How do you prepare for that?

For certain scenes, I think of things that are going on in my life and use that emotion to make it happen. For this one, my uncle had passed away a year before we filmed. I was close to him and remember for that scene I really thought about him and it helped me. Part of the job is having to get to that place pretty quickly.

Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?

I was in plays in high school and loved it but originally never thought about making it a career. I was from Green Bay and started modeling when I was 12 and went to New York and Europe and worked a few other places. The original plan was for me to move to Brooklyn, but a manager I was working with at the time convinced me to come to LA for a month to give it a go. While I was there I booked a few jobs and things started happening. I really love the acting part of the process.

Is there any advice you can give to other actors?

Really love what you do every day and don’t think of money or fame. The whole goal or the process is to come out of a project having had fun and made others feel something.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I have a film that’s going to be doing the festivals called “Anatomy Of A Love Seen”. It’s a lesbian love story that’s all improv and really intense. It’s one of my favorite projects because the creativity was all my own. I have a few other things coming up as well. My life is pretty crazy right now.

Machine Head comes to DVD on March 25th

Parafest 2013 Brings The Festival Experience Home

Parafest

Being a fan of horror and the paranormal, I always lamented hearing about all of the awesome conventions being held in remote locations of the country. My biggest problem with these festivals was the fact that they were always in places (States) where I’d need to take days off of work and drive long distances just to get to. But there would always be tons of vendors and guest celebrities from my favorite genre mingling with fans during these conventions, making the decision to go all the more difficult. I often wondered what it would be like to have one of these cool festivals in my hometown.

Thankfully, the spirits have answered.

Parafest 2013 will bring stars from The Walking Dead, True Blood, Supernatural, Ghost Hunters and Ghostbusters movies to the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The event runs from noon-10 p.m. Sept. 6 and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8.

Billed as a premier Para-horror convention, Parafest 2013 will feature the very best in paranormal, horror and sci-fi genres and will include celebrity appearances, Q & A sessions and meet & greets. There will also be vendors, exhibits, seminars and a film festival. If all that isn’t enough, fans can also take part in ghost hunts; a Gallery Reading with internationally acclaimed psychic Chip Coffey and even partake in a Ouija Board Experience.

Among the guests I’m most excited to see are: Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), Tony Todd (Candyman/Sushi Girl), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, The Lords of Salem) and Mark Sheppard (Supernatural). Then there are the stars of television shows from my youth like Geri Reischl (the “Other” Jan Brady) and Lisa Loring (Wednesday from The Adams Family).

But it just wouldn’t be a scare-fest if I wasn’t afraid, and Parafest 2013 certainly gives me cause for concern. One guest will be on hand during the festival that I’m almost (dare I say) frightened to encounter.

Most folks probably remember actor Richard Kiel from his amazing performance as Jaws in the James Bond film, Moonraker. But for me, I’m still frightened by his guest appearance on a campy 1960′s television show.

ghostWhen Kiel guest starred as an apparition on the Gilligan’s Island episode “Ghost A Go Go”, he became the product of my nightmares for years (even Freddy Kreuger didn’t have that effect on me).

That one episode literally scared the sh$t out of me as a child and still gives me the heebie-jeebies whenever I watch it (which of course, isn’t often).

I know it may sound silly, but my hope is that by meeting Mr. Kiel in person, any remaining childhood demons I have leftover from the 1980′s will finally be exorcised. Here’s hoping.

Tickets for the weekend festival are $25 a day for adults and $10 for ages 12 and under when accompanied by an adult. For an extra $25, you can also gain access to celebrity Q&A sessions and panels. There’s also $100, $150 a day and $300 full-weekend VIP packages available as well.

For more information on Parafest 2013 Click Here

“Mimesis” Pays Homage To Zombie Classic

mimesisIt was English cleric Charles Caleb Colton who once said, “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery”. Truer words could not be spoken, especially when it comes to horror films.

In “Mimesis”, a group of die-hard horror fans attend a horror convention and are subsequently lured to an “exclusive party” at a remote farm.  While there, the group is drugged and upon awakening find themselves smack dab in the middle of a reenactment of one of the greatest genre films of all time: a real life version of the classic 1968 George Romero film, “Night of The Living Dead”.

As the “movie” plays on, a group of psycho villains (dressed up as the walking dead) keep the seven unwilling participants terrorized inside of the farmhouse and kill them if they try to escape.While the original black and white version of the film plays in a non-stop loop on a small television set, it quickly becomes a battle of survival as the group tries to plot their escape. Mimesis stars Allen Maldonado, Lauren Mae Shafer, Taylor Piedmonte and Jana Thompson. Directed by Douglas Schulze, the film also contains original music composed by Diego Navarro.

As a “mid-tier” horror fan myself, I especially enjoyed the fact that the film also featured genre favorites Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn) and Sid Haig (Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses). Both actors have small roles in this film but none the less bring “street cred” with their performances. In fact, it’s Haig himself who actually explains to us the definition of Mimesis (“imitation, mimicry”).

The film also contains a cameo by original “Night of the Living Dead” star, Bill Hinzman bringing the elements of the past and present together nearly forty-five years after the original film.

“Mimesis” may be an odd title for a horror film, but it’s a fun ride that pays homage to a classic, and that makes it a ride worth taking.

“Mimesis” releases February 12th, 2013. Bonus features include audio commentary with Director/Co-Writer Douglas Schulze and Co-Writer Joshua Wagner.

A Slice of CUT!: David Rountree and Dahlia Salem Discuss Unique Horror Film

CUTNothing is as it seems as an ex-con and aspirant filmmaker set out to manufacture a horror film by scaring real people. However, when things go too far and someone actually dies, the pair decide that killing for real on film is the way to make a truly terrifying movie.

The premise for CUT! is a unique approach to the genre of horror film making. Director David Rountree (along with actor and writing partner David Banks) bring forth a one of a kind “suspense thriller within a horror film” and along the way, manage to pay homage to one of the classic horror films of a generation.

With an amazing storyline, an ensemble that includes Dahlia Salem, Sam Scarber, Suze Lanier-Bramlett, Gabrielle Stone and Academy Award winner Victoria Sampson at the helm for sound editing, CUT! is sure to be one of the most anticipated horror films of 2013.

I had the opportunity to speak with both director David Rountree and Dahlia Salem, the beautiful actress who plays Chloe Jo in CUT!.

Director David Rountree

What’s the current status of CUT!?

DR: We were originally planning for a Halloween release, but then we had Victoria Sampson come on board to do post audio. She’s an Academy Award winner who’s work includes films going back to ‘Return of The Jedi’, ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’, ‘Donnie Darko’ and ‘Bad Boys’. She has about 200 films to her credit and won the Academy Award for ‘Speed’. When she signed on we pushed our release date back a bit.

How did you and David come up with the idea for CUT!?

DR: David and I had written a comedy script a few years ago and were looking to start filming it during the summer of 2012. I wasn’t a fan of just sitting around so while we were waiting we came up with the idea of making something while we were in pre-production. We started talking about movies like ‘Blair Witch’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’ and came up with the concept of two guys that live together and want to make a cheap movie just to have fun. The goal was they would be very professional but then as it unfolds, things go wrong.

RountreeWe figured we’d have a quick turnaround time and could get it out there and have fun doing it. So we started planning it and really spent a lot of time working on the opening scene. Once we shot it, our distributor looked at it and was very excited. He told us that if we can do this, we’d have a real shot at knocking it out of the park.

Our production immediately turned upside down and we really set this project into motion. What began as a straight forward horror movie became more intelligent during the process and is now a film that makes you think a little along the way.

It’s become a solid suspense thriller inside of a horror movie.

What’s the story of CUT!?

DR: The original idea of the movie is for the characters Lane and Travis to make a horror film. But when things go bad and someone actually dies, they have to make a decision. The footage they have is so amazing that either they turn themselves into the police for murder or run with this plan.

Tell me about the connection of the film to “The Hills Have Eyes”.

We created the role for Suze Lanier-Bramlett where she plays herself as a former actor turned director. Originally, the plan to have both she and Dee Wallace Stone. Both of them were in the original ‘The Hills Have Eyes’. Dee was involved in another film at the time but we were lucky and her daughter, Gabrielle Stone came on board.

What’s your next project?

DR: I’m working on a baseball story with the Orem Owlz, a minor league team in Utah. I’ve been collaborating with the owner there about doing a story similar to Bull Durham, about a real life of a baseball player in the minor leagues.

Dahlia Salem as Chloe Jo

dahliaHow did you find out about this role?

DS: I was introduced to David Rountree by a mutual friend, Mike Simon (who also plays Adam in the film). David told me about the film and I thought it was interesting and very creative. It was also a labor of love for both he and David Banks and I wanted to be a part of that kind of collaboration.

What did you like most about the script?

DS:  What I liked most about the script was the concept of it being a horror film within a horror film, and it was unlike anything I ever worked on. My character (Chloe Joe) is an accessory to the vision and deception of Travis (David Rountree) and Lane’s (David Banks) plan.

These guys take things to the extreme for the risk and excitement, as well as the potential success they can receive for what they’re creating and getting away with! Chloe Joe I imagine, was attracted to their drive and  goes along for the ride!

What was it like working with David Rountree?

David Rountree is a consummate professional, as well as fun and easy to work with! David is such a good director in that he allows each actor the freedom to create what they want in the moment. It was very raw, and each character in CUT! fits in like a puzzle. I’m really excited to see the end product.

Are you a fan of horror movies?

DS: I certainly am! It’s a fascinating and mysterious genre. I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter’s Halloween, my favorite horror film of all time.

What other projects are you currently involved in?

DS: I just finished working as a guest star on the ABC drama, ‘Body of Proof’. I play an assistant district attorney and there’s a chance that she can return which is pretty exciting. The episode will most likely air sometime in March.

I also do a lot of voice over work. I do narration for a show called ‘Big Rich Texas’ on the Style Network. It’s a different animal all together not being on the camera side. You can be very creative with your voice. I love that kind of work as well.

What do you like to do when you’re not acting?

I love yoga, tennis and teaching acting to children. A friend opened a children’s weekend acting program in Orange County, and I was a guest teacher. To watch kids come out of their shell to create and learn, was such a great experience for me.

I’m also doing a bit of writing, collaborating on a script I wrote loosely based on true events in my life. It’s a “dramedy” and I hope to create it into a TV or Web series. We’ll see, it’s feels pretty challenging!  I have to really commend David Rountree and David Banks in wearing so many hats for CUT! with writing, acting and directing! They truly inspire me.

Article first published as A Slice of CUT!: David Rountree and Dahlia Salem Discuss Unique Horror Film on Technorati.


HUFF: Charlie O’Connell And Natasha Alam Discuss Horror/Thriller

Huff_Poster

Charlie O’Connell and Natasha Alam have some serious chemistry going on in HUFF, a twisted take on the fairy tale classic “The Three Little Pigs”. O’Connell is creepy in the role of Huff, an unfaithful husband and abusive step father to three teenaged daughters living in poverty in California.

When a drug deal to set him up for life goes awry and the daughters leave with the money, Huff takes out his anger on those around him in a mad attempt to retrieve his loot. His only weakness? An asthma induced need to use an inhaler which may give the girls a fighting chance of survival.

Natasha Alam is amazing in the role of Laci, Huff’s beautiful mistress. Her sexiness and charm is equaled by the way she is freely able to express emotion on-screen during troubling situations; particularly when she is being threatened by Huff.

“HUFF” (being released internationally as “Big Bad Wolf”) also stars Marie Bollinger, Elina Madison and Elly Stefanko.

I spoke with Charlie and Natasha about their experiences working on “HUFF”, a film set for world-wide release next Spring.

Charlie O’Connell

What did you like most about the role of HUFF?

CO: I’ve always loved horror and slasher movies. I normally play a really nice guy or a jock, but definitely not a villain, so getting the chance to do that with “HUFF” was something that I really liked. Also, in some horror movies (ones with a Jason or a Freddy Krueger), those guys wore masks. I enjoyed the fact that I got to play a really evil guy who didn’t wear a mask. I didn’t have anything to hide behind, except for the inhaler that I had to work with.
How was it working with such a great cast?

CO: Everyone did a great job. Elina (Madison) has done a few of these types of movies before and played it like a veteran. Marie (Bollinger) was great as well, particularly in the scene where I’m in the bedroom with the youngest daughter (Elly Stefanko) and she steps in to protect her. That was a great scene.

Were there any challenges to shooting the film?

CO: We were shooting close to Valencia, CA and I remember it was so cold. Those last scenes where I had to run around with my shirt off could possibly have been the coldest days of the year in LA [laughs]. The weather was probably the hardest thing to deal with.

Any funny stories to share?

CO: I’d have to say the scene where Marie carries Elly on a huge, long trek was the funniest.There’s a quick cut in the scene which works perfectly because she just couldn’t carry her anymore. I had already wrapped for the day but wouldn’t leave because I wanted to see it. I remember taking bets on when she was going to drop her. She must have carried her at least 500 yards that day. But that’s the kind of trooper Marie was. And when she finally did get finished, Paul (Morrell, Director) said: “Great! Can you do it one more time?”.. [laughs]

What’s your favorite scene?

CO: Probably the one where the guys come to the door to get the drug money. When it comes to horror movies that may not have the biggest budget, it’s the little things that become the most important: the editing, finding out what works and what doesn’t work, the death scenes. That particular scene flew so well. It was such good violence right off the bat. But that’s what kind of movie this is. It’ a bloody/slasher/thriller. When you see that scene you say, “Holy S%iT! I’m in for something here!”

The scene of you with Shay (Elly Stefanko) near the hay stack is pretty creepy too.

CO: Yes, the crossing from far and then coming up on her! Elly did a great job. It was the first film she’s ever done and she put a lot of work into it.

What do you liked most about seeing the completed film?

CO: One of the things I enjoyed the most was seeing which takes were chosen and which ones were left on the cutting room floor. I really like to see what works and what doesn’t make it.

We also did quite a few screenings of the film at festivals and I found myself crouching at times because it was so creepy. Paul did a great job.

Natasha Alam

What attracted you most to the role of Laci?

NA: It was a great chance for me to really showcase my acting skills and give me the opportunity to do more action and drama.

What was the audition process like?

NA: It was awesome. I felt really good about it. Initially, there was another actor auditioning for the role of Huff who was a lot shorter than Charlie. He was a great actor, but just didn’t look right for the part. When Charlie came in, we complemented each other so well.

NatashaAlamWere you at all inhibited by the risqué’ bedroom scene?

NA: Not at all. Prior to this role, I had worked on ‘True Blood’ which has very racy, skin showing/revealing scenes. That was my first experience into sexiness and  being racy and it made my scenes in ‘HUFF’ that much easier.

How are you able to “turn on the tears” so easily?

NA: Before I actually had a child of my own, I couldn’t feel that emotion and know how to play those kind of roles. It just didn’t feel natural. But, after having my daughter and now having those feelings, it was an amazing discovery. To play a role like this you need to have some kind of experience of what it might feel like to lose someone. For the scenes where Charlie wasn’t letting me go, I based that upon past bad relationships. You usually can dig into your past and re-live that emotion again.

How did you get started?

NA: I was going to school at the University Uzbekistan (my home country where i was born and raised), but civics and mathematics didn’t really agree with me [laughs]. Although I am interested in that now, back then I wasn’t interested at all. I was more drawn to fashion, acting and being a designer; something that was creative. So I was studying at University and at the same time going to college to study fashion design.

After about a year and half, the opportunity came along for me to go to Milan and become a model. I quickly jumped on that and went out to discover the world.

What projects are you working on now?

NA: I just finished a guest-starring role for an episode of ‘Body of Proof’ which was a wonderful experience. The episode should air sometime next year.

I’ve also just finished writing a pilot for a fast paced spy show called ‘Canary’. It’s like Mr.and Mrs. Smith Meets Alias /Kill Bill and Bond movies all mixed together. It’s action loaded and I’m really excited about it.

Article first published as HUFF: Charlie O’Connell And Natasha Alam Discuss New Horror/Thriller on Technorati.

A Conversation With Actress Elina Madison

ElinaWhile growing up, Elina Madison recalls being at her grandmother’s house watching TV and being so enthralled with what was on that she turned to her grandmother and told her that she wanted to become an actress. From that moment on, she’s never looked back or lost sight of her dream.

Elina found that there weren’t a lot of opportunities to act in her home state of Wyoming so she eventually made her way to Los Angeles where she has since become a sought after model and actress and been awarded the title of “scream-queen” based upon her memorable roles in the realm of horror.

In one of Elina’s latest projects, “HUFF” she plays Lorelei, the dysfunctional wife of Huff, an abusive and asthma suffering stepfather who’s involved in a lucrative drug deal. Seemingly oblivious to the abuse that’s going on around her, Lorelei (a stripper by trade) delivers one of the most memorable lines in the entire film:

‘We need the money and the pole’s not going to dance by itself.”

Lorelei eventually comes to her senses and realizes that she has to get her children out of there. She secretly takes the money intended for the drug deal and gives it to her daughters to flee and start better lives for themselves. This series of events triggers a chain of rage-induced asthma attacks as Huff attempts to locate the three runaways and recover his money. Elina’s amazing, emotional scene on the couch with co-star Charlie O’Connell (Huff) sets the mood for the entire second half of the film.

“HUFF” will be released domestically in April and under the title “Big Bad Wolf” for international markets.

Elina’s resume includes roles in “Halloween Party” (a dark comedy available now on DVD), Barracuda, and The Corporate Cut Throat Massacre. In addition, you can also find Elina playing the Mother in the promo / trailer for Alicia Keys’ children’s educational app: “The Journals of Mama Mae & Lee Lee.”.

Elina’s next film role will be as the wife of the Prince of the undead in Creep Creepersin’s Dracula.

Aside from her beauty and acting prowess, Elina is one of the most down to Earth and coolest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with.

gJg: What’s the premise of HUFF?

EM: HUFF is actually a twisted version of the story of “The Three Little Pigs” with Huff being the wolf and the daughters being the three little pigs. Huff also has asthma which goes along with the lines of the story of “huffing and puffing”. Huff is up to no good and making a deal with drug money that’s not his. My character finally has had enough and realizes that she has to get her children out of there. So she steals the money, gives it to them and tells them to leave. It’s because of her actions that there are some unbelievable consequences.

How did you prepare for the role of Lorelei?

EM: Lorelei is just so caught up in her own little world. She’s an alcoholic mother in denial about what’s going on between her daughters and Huff. I’ve done some crazy characters before, but never one this complex. Getting into that kind of mindset took some work.

Tell me a little about your next film, Creep Creepersin’s Dracula.

It’s a different spin on the classic story but it’s also more about the perception of Dracula and the reality of everything. I play Francine, his wife who you don’t know whether is a “good” wife or an “evil” wife up to no good. Everything is taken completely different depending on how you’re looking at it.  It’s scheduled to be released in January.

What other projects are you currently working on?

EM: Right now I’m shooting a show for Spike TV called ‘Urban Tarzan’. I play a well to do wife who didn’t go to college and got married for money and have been enjoying a life of leisure. My husband and I live in a big house and we’re going through a divorce. He wants me to take this horrible deal and I wind up fighting him for the house. He ends up putting a crocodile in the swimming pool hoping i jump in and don’t notice. [laughs]

It’s funny for Spike and has that crazy element to it.

THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE

Elina Madison is a rising star who will be seen all over the world in the coming months! Her career is truly on fire.

 Elina

- In April 2013, she’ll star as the desperate mother and abused wife Lorelei in Huff (with Charlie O’Connell).

- She plays an edgy, flirtatious Cave Girl in Halloween Party twisted comedy (just released on DVD).

- In January 2013 Elina stars as Francine, the beautiful and loyal wife of Dracula in Creep Creepersin’s Dracula.

- Look for her in the highly acclaimed film Barracuda, starring opposite Christine Oldham as the well to do socialite “Lisa.”

Also coming in 2013 Elina plays the lead Alana Wilson, a caring mother and housewife in Ramone Menon’s psychological thriller The Black Tape.

Article first published as A Conversation With Actress Elina Madison on Technorati.

Director Paul Morrell Discusses Latest Horror/Thriller ‘HUFF’

paulMOnce upon a time there was a cool director named Paul Morrell who had a vision to direct a horror/thriller based upon the story of The Three Little Pigs. Together with a talented cast and crew, his vision of creating a twisted version of the classic fairy tale exceeds all expectations. The result of his efforts, “HUFF” contains all of the scares, screams and sexiness that make for great thrill ride.

“HUFF” stars Charlie O’Connell as Huff, an abusive stepfather to three teenage girls living in poverty in California. While on the verge of making a lucrative drug deal that will give him the money he needs to escape to Mexico with his sexy mistress, Laci (Natasha Alam), Huff’s plans unravel when his battered wife Lorelei (Elina Madison) secretly gives the money intended for the deal to her daughters and tells them to run away and seek better lives. The events that follow triggers a chain of rage-induced asthma attacks, as Huff attempts to locate the three runaways and recover his money.

HUFF also stars Marie Bollinger, Jenna Stone and Clint Howard and will be released in April. The film will also be released internationally under the title, “Big Bad Wolf”.

I spoke with Paul and got the inside scoop on “HUFF” as well as his next film project, “Casket County Massacre”.

How did the project for HUFF begin?

Paul Morrell (PM): We really wanted to write something that would hold up, so we came up with the concept of using The Three Little Pigs; an age old story.  It was also great timing. I had done a film called ‘Filth To Ashes’ that had received quite a bit of press, including a mention in The New York Times. The film even had a better opening weekend than ‘Paranormal Activity’.  From that, we were able to sign some really great actors.

There are quite a few innuendos with The Three Little Pigs.

PM: Some of the innuendos are quite blatant, like the use of the inhaler and Charlie’s character’s name (Huffington). In our research, the story kind of got neutered over the years. In the original story, the wolf actually eats all of the pigs. [laughs]

Tell me a little about the cast: Charlie O’Connell.

Charlie is known for comedic roles so this role was a bit of a challenge, but he came with great input. His comedic chops really shine without taking away from the story line. We ended up with a villain who’s both likeable and hate able at the same time.

Natahsa Alam.

PM: Natasha was extremely comfortable on set. She’s not just a model.  She’s super professional and her acting chops are top notch.

Elina Madison.

I wish we had her on set for longer. She was fantastic. We had originally written an enormously longer scene but the way she executed the scene was great with her eyes and her emotion was perfect.

Isn’t there a story behind how you got in touch with Marie Bollinger for the role of Brixi?

I have a really close friend, Sarah Zurell, who was in a movie with Marie called ‘Pelt’. When I sat down to watch the movie, I was immediately distracted by her. There was just something about Marie that was perfect. We wound up connecting with each other through Facebook.

What was the filming process like?

PM: When we were shooting some of the night scenes it was very cold and windy. It was abnormally cold for southern California. Jenna Stone (Styx) sat in the side car with that “bloody” face for almost three days. All night long while shooting, it was freezing cold.  I was all bundled up in boots and heavy jackets and was still cold. The girls were out in the cold in little bitty tops wearing a blanket in between takes. They were troopers.

Any funny stories you can remember while filming?

In the opening scene, when Charlie is reading to the little girls, we had him actually reading a nursery rhyme to them while we were shooting their faces to get laughs out of them.  Then, right in the middle of telling Goldie Locks and The Three Bears he goes into HUFF dialog, changing his voice and everything to “They were raped!!…”  It was incredibly funny. [laughs]

What are some of your favorite scenes?

PM: I really love the opening scene where Charlie is out chopping wood and then goes inside to read a bible story to the girls. I love how that turned out.  So creepy. I also love the fight scene with Elina when she and Charlie are sitting on the couch.

Another one of my favorite shots is where Charlie is holding Marie’s character down and pressing that knife into her chest. They were both so into the moment, she’s screaming and he’s holding her down. That scene was great.

huff_bbw

What project are you working on now?

PM: We’re working on an horror/icon film called ‘Casket County Massacre‘.  We’ve got Kane Hodder (Jason Friday The 13th) and Tyler Mane (X-Men, Halloween). We’re also working with Charlie and Clint Howard again.  The plan is to start shooting in January. We’re excited about it.

What’s the story of ‘Casket County Massacre’?

The legend of Casket County is, there were three brothers (The Garlock Family) who took over the town and slaughtered everyone in it while looking for gold. When they couldn’t find any, their ghosts were stuck there forever. An all-girl rock band cruises into town with plans to shoot a music video. When they get there, the ghosts are there and all hell ensues.

Article first published as Director Paul Morrell Discusses Latest Horror/Thriller HUFF on Technorati.

Movie Review: ‘Silent Night’ Brings Horror Home For The Holidays

SilentNightYou better watch out! Santa Claus is coming to town, and he knows who’s been bad!

One of the tag lines for the new horror/thriller “Silent Night” is a bit foretelling as to the carnage about to be unleashed on the small town of Cryer, WI.

Directed by Steven C. Miller (The Aggression Scale), ‘Silent Night‘ is a loosely based remake of the cult horror classic ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’, a controversial 1984 film that fell victim to mass protests due to the fact that the serial killer dressed up like Santa Claus. In a world where real-life death and destruction is shown round the clock on every news network, it’s almost laughable how a fictional horror film could have caused such a stir.

In ‘Silent Night’ veteran actor Malcolm McDowell (Rob Zombie’s Halloween) and the beautiful Jaime King (Mother’s Day) star as a small-town sheriff and deputy on the hunt for a murderous Santa Claus taking out people who are doing wrong on Christmas Eve. The film also stars Donal Logue (Shark Night 3D, Blade), Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow), Brendan Fehr (Final Destination), Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) and Cortney Palm (Sushi Girl).

McDowell is somewhat ornery in his role as Sheriff Cooper, but appears to have the town’s best intentions at heart. And King, who was amazing in her role of Beth Sohapi in the ‘Mother’s Day’ reboot, is equally as good here as emotionally troubled Officer Aubrey Bradimore.

‘Silent Night’ contains all of the essential ingredients that were paramount in 80′s horror films: Strong characters, a sense of not knowing what’s coming next, the gratuitous nudity/sexuality and of course, the recreational drug use. (Naughty! Naughty!)

And whereas the original ‘Silent Night / Deadly Night’ fell victim to picketing for using a serial killer dressed like the guy in the big red suit, ‘Silent Night’, does its own little bit of envelope pushing by utilizing something else normally considered taboo in serial killer horror: the death of a child (albeit a bratty, potty-mouthed one).

Miller though, isn’t worried about any backlash that may result from the scene.”People may be concerned about it, but it actually sets the tone of the movie”, he says. “Once you see it, you realize that at this point all bets are off and anything can happen!”

Aside from some really cool weapons, ‘Silent Night‘ breaks no new ground in terms of what’s already been done in horror but really, who cares? The movie is a fun ride of terror and carnage with perhaps one of the best kill scenes in recent memory involving a topless woman and a wood chipper. Need I say more?

When asked to describe what makes for the perfect horror movie, Miller is quick to respond. “Atmosphere and tone. If you can get the atmosphere right for whatever time and place you’re in, the audience is automatically drawn in.”

It’s hard to argue that point because the film looks and feels like it belongs on a big theatrical screen; with a tone and quality that rivals many of the classic 80′s slasher films. The real strength of ‘Silent Night’ lies in its use of cinematography and credit should be given to both Miller and cinematographer Joseph White for taking a small budget film and making it appear larger than life.

The best horror balances the suspense with the scares and mixes in a little bit of humor to release the tension and in both cases, ‘Silent Night’ succeeds. Horror fans who’ve been longing for something other than the typical “found-footage” style format of recent films may want to consider asking Santa for ‘Silent Night’ in their stocking this holiday season. It sure beats a visit from the big guy in person carrying a flame thrower.

Or as Miller himself is quick to point out, “We need these kinds of holiday slasher movies. There aren’t enough of them.”

Article first published as Movie Review: ‘Silent Night’ Brings Horror Home for the Holidays on Technorati.

247°F : A Suspense/Thriller That Turns Up The Heat

It’s hard to imagine how being locked inside of a sauna with two beautiful women could be a bad thing, but such is the case in 247°F.

Scout Taylor-Compton plays Jenna, a girl who experiences unspeakable horror when the car she is a passenger in becomes involved in an accident that claims the life of her boyfriend. Unable to escape the wreckage, she is traumatized at having to view the mangled corpse until help arrives.

A few years later Jenna, along with her friends Renee (Christina Ulloa), Ian (Travis Van Winkle) and Michael (Michael Copon) travel to a lakeside cabin for a carefree weekend retreat. The fun quickly becomes a nightmare when three of them end up getting locked inside of a compact, hot sauna. As fear begins to set in and Jenna reconnects with the claustrophobic horror of “the accident”, things quickly spiral out of control.

247°F reunites Scout with Tyler Mane, who plays Ian’s uncle, Wade. The pair previously worked together on the Rob Zombie Halloween remakes.

As a fan of horror and psychological thrillers, I really enjoyed this movie. It’s definitely a different take on the genre, which as of late has gotten quite stale at times. There are no slashing hockey mask wearing madmen or demonic spirits menacing the group. Rather, it’s the power of the mind and realization that there may be no escape that becomes the real horror. The question quickly changes from how they got locked inside to how long can they last?

I had the pleasure of speaking with Christina Ulloa about her role and experience working on 247°F.

goJimmygo: Tell me a little bit about your character, Renee.

Christina Ulloa: Renee comes across as someone who thinks that everything revolves around her and someone that’s maybe a little bit spoiled. But when you look at it, she’s really a good friend and a loyal person. Once you get past that first layer of her sassy sort of vibe, she’s a good person at heart.

Where was the movie filmed?

We filmed in the Republic of Georgia and were there for about a month. It’s a beautiful part of the world to be in. It’s very European. Everywhere you looked you could see the mountains or the water. Traveling to that unique part of the world was incredible. That and getting to work long hours. I shot 23 out of 27 days. That was the best.

There certainly wasn’t much to worry about in terms of make-up or wardrobe.

Not really. There wasn’t much of that. [laughs]

What was the chemistry like among the cast?

When you’re on location and stuck like we were, both literally and figuratively in this case – [laughs], you bond quicker and spend more time together than if you just went home every day after work. We all formed genuine friendships and that chemistry really comes across well on-screen. It was a lot of fun.

How would you describe 247°F?

It’s psychological in that it plays into the common theme of just feeling trapped. I think that’s something everyone can relate to. Whether it’s a relationship, a career or just life in general. We all deal with having to overcome conflicts that suffocate us in any aspect of life.

How do you think you would react to the situation of being locked inside of a sauna in real life?

I like to think that I would find some super human strength to bang the door down [laughs]. I certainly know what it feels like to feel claustrophobic and the desperate sense of needing to get out.

247°F will be released on October 23rd by Anchor Bay Films. The Blu-ray™ and DVD includes audio commentary with writer / producer / director Levan Bakhia and deleted scenes.

Article first published as 247°F : Suspense/Thriller That Turns Up the Heat on Technorati.

Below Zero: A Chilling Thrill Ride

Below Zero

In Below Zero, the new film written by Signe Olynyk, screenwriter Jack “The Hack” is suffering from a severe case of writers block. In a desperate effort to clear his head and reach his agent’s deadline, he decides to lock himself in an abandoned slaughterhouse freezer for five days with no means of escape. While there, the line between fiction and reality blurs until he’s unsure of what is real and what is horror.

While watching the film, I found myself enthralled with a storyline that led in many different, intriguing directions. The result of which allows one to watch the film freshly with subsequent viewings; finding something new and exciting about it every time. In a way, it’s almost like a choose your own adventure book.

The exquisite cinematography and cast that includes horror legend Michael Berryman, Edward Furlong and Kristin Booth only adds to fun! Whether it’s Berryman’s amazing performance as a slaughterhouse butcher, the angst of Furlong trying to reach his deadline or Booth channeling her inner scream queen; Below Zero is a thrill ride like no other.

I had the chance to speak with writer Signe Olynyk and actor Michael Berryman, who discuss their experiences working on Below Zero.

Signe Olynyk

goJimmygo (gJg): What’s the origin of Below Zero?

Signe Olynyk (SO): I like to consider it an autobiographical horror/thriller.

Originally, I set out to write a film with a concept of a guy being locked in a freezer. The problem was, that was as far as I could go; I didn’t know what to do next.

So, I started doing searches on the Internet on slaughterhouses and found one that was for sale. I’m a firm believer in doing research and tapping into details that you don’t normally know about, so I paid them a visit and asked the lady if she would lock me in the freezer for five days.  It really was one of the best things I could have done.

gJg: How would you describe the story of Below Zero?

OS: It’s a smart, twisted horror film; actually a story within a story, about a blocked writer who struggles with a deadline. He arranges to have himself locked in a freezer and while there, the story he’s writing actually begins to unfold. Fiction and reality blur and he can’t distinguish between what’s real and what is not.

What was it like working with a legend like Michael Berryman?

SO: We were so lucky to have Michael. I really have to credit to my partner, Bob Schultz. He’s a real horror fan and mentioned Michael for this role. I think this is one of the best performances of his career. He really gets to flex his acting muscles and play a character with arc. Having Michael on board also allowed us to appeal to the horror fan base.

You also had two other great actors in Edward Furlong and Kristin Booth!

SO: Eddie was great. His character was one that he really identified with and I think that appealed to him. We really got lucky with Kristin. She is such a talented actress and her star is always rising. In fact, the day we finished filming she was cast in The Kennedy’s mini-series on HBO.

So we’ve got the horror fans with Michael, Eddie taps into the mainstream and Kristin is the rising star. We wanted to get the best cast we could to help us reach the widest audience. I think we succeeded.

Did you also happen to notice that the “creepy” kid in the film was actually a little girl? Sadi Madu did a great job too. She’s the daughter of the owners of the slaughter-house we filmed at. She came to the auditions disguised as a boy and just blew us all away.

How has the reception been for the film?

The fans enjoy it and have really responded well to it. They appreciate what we were trying to accomplish by bringing something new to the genre. We’re winning awards and have been all over the world with the film. It’s a fun, exciting time.

Michael Berryman

gJg: One of the things I loved most about this movie was your character (Gunnar).  It was interesting to figure out what his motive was.

MB: It’s not fully revealed until the very end which I thought was fun. It’s very Alfred Hitchcock-ish.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the film. It was well written and I liked the musical score as well; particularly as it was used in certain scenes. Any time you have elements of beauty mixed in with counterpoint, it plays very well.

gJg: What was your experience like working on the film?

MB: It was great.  We shot the entire film in only a few weeks and Eddie and Kristin both gave excellent performances. Signe and Bob were both professional and very easy-going. They’re also involved in a conference called The Great American Pitchfest. It supports writers with a lot of seminars. They are big supporters of the ‘written word’ so to speak.

The whole town of Edson (Alberta) was really happy we were there too. It was a treat. It’s a very beautiful area up there.

gJg: You recently did a signing in Burbank. What are the fans saying about Below Zero?

MB: We’re finding that people who have seen the movie really appreciate it. In fact, they like to watch it a second and third time because they get more out of it. Then they appreciate it even more. Visually, it’s beautiful and the music score is interesting and fresh. It’s not dependent on gore and splatter as much as it is on the mysterious things going on.

Below Zero is available now at Amazon and streaming on NetFlix

Article first published as Below Zero: A Chilling Thrill Ride on Technorati.

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