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Category Archives: Horror

Actress Fiona Dourif Talks ‘Cult of Chucky’, ‘Dirk Gently’ and Career Moments

Photo by: Ryan West

Whether she’s portraying the frail but formidable paraplegic, Nica Pierce in “Curse of Chucky”, the crazed assassin, Bart Curlish, in “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” or the young nurse, Diane Jones, in the ABC mini-series, “When We Rise”, Fiona Dourif has proven that her versatility and talent as an actress is as genuine as the person she is in real life.

The beautiful Dourif will soon reprise her role as Nica in the upcoming horror/slasher film, “Cult of Chucky”; the seventh entry in the “Child’s Play” franchise scheduled to be released in October. The film, written and directed by series creator, Don Mancini, also reunites Fiona with her real-life father, Brad Dourif (the voice of Chucky) and features Alex Vincent (from the original “Child’s Play”) and Jennifer Tilly (“Bride of Chucky”, “Seed of Chucky”).

I recently spoke with Dourif and got a sneak peek at “Cult of Chucky”, the second season of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, her career and more in this exclusive new interview. 

It’s been four years since we’re seen you as Nica Pierce in “Curse of Chucky”. Was this new film, “Cult of Chucky” something that had always been planned?

I think Don [Mancini] is always thinking about ways to re-invent the franchise, even though he may not have a set timeline for it. It’s his life’s work. So, there was definitely talk about it on the set of the last film. I even remember Don coming up with idea of the mental asylum while we were shooting the last movie. With this new movie, he combines the old with the new, but it’s not a reboot. It’s a reinvention. It’s seeing Chucky in a way we’ve never seen before. There are definitely some surprises and I’m excited to see what people think.

What was it about the script that originally attracted you to the role of Nica?

I feel very close to the franchise in a way that’s there no parallel. When I was initially given the script, I auditioned for the role of Nica’s sister, Barb. But after watching my tape, Don said there was a quality in my performance that was right for Nica. It wasn’t obvious to me at first but they had me come in to audition and through the process made me understand that my own instincts as a person were very similar to Nica’s. But everything about the project attracted me. The idea that I could lead a franchise I felt this close to and to do something with my dad was an utter dream come true. It was my first studio film and a coming of age for me.

What makes horror such a great genre?

I think it’s fun to feel afraid. It takes up all of your attention in a way that’s exhilarating. It’s a baseline human experience and when you dive into it, it’s like riding a roller coaster.

What are some of the biggest challenges of playing Nica?

 Horror itself is challenging because you have to bring a lot of energy to it. Nica goes through some very dark places, so there was a lot of trying to find freedom in the idea that everyone you love is dying in front of you. Working with the dolls can also get challenging because Chucky gets a lot of takes. You’re also working with a puppet that has six people in green suits around you. There’s someone controlling his eyebrows, someone controlling his lips, someone controlling the way his mouth moves, two people controlling his arm movement. You’re acting in this high intensity moment and in order to make the moment correct all six people have to be in sync together. So, if it’s a two-shot and Chucky’s getting twenty-six takes, you have to keep that energy and terror alive for all twenty-six. I remember getting home from those first days shooting with Chucky and just being a puddle on the floor [laughs]!

Without giving too much away, how would you describe “Cult of Chucky”?

“Cult of Chucky” is like a Chucky movie on drugs. I think that’s the way Don describes it. It’s a psychedelic, hospital movie with a lot of surprises. We’re going to see Chucky in a way we haven’t seen him before. It’s going to be fun. 

What’s it like working with Don Mancini?

Don is a really generous director. He’ll let me bring to it what I think is right and then he’ll come in with opinions and an intelligence that I find very rewarding. We became good friends on the last movie and this year there was a fun synergy between us. I feel very close to this franchise and where the story goes. It’s fun to be able to make something with Don that people really dig.

When did you realize that acting would be your calling?

I remember the exact moment. I had been working on documentaries for a production company for The History Channel when I got the opportunity to take an acting class. I was doing an improv of a pizza delivery scene and when I got up there and performance kicked in it was the most exhilarating thing in the world. That’s when I thought if I could do this with my life, what could possibly be better?

Are there any other projects you’re working on right now?

 I’m in Vancouver shooting “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, which is in its second season with BBC America and Netflix with Elijah Wood and Max Landis at the helm. I play a “Beetlejuice-like” monster who is the assassin of the universe. I’m this dirty, creature and the least sexualized feminine character that has ever been written. It’s maybe my favorite character I’ve ever played.

What can fans expect from the new season?

Mayhem! Max is a very smart, emotional writer. Sometimes the show feels like a graphic novel in the best possible way.

What’s the best bit of advice your dad’s given you as an actor?

There are kernels of things he’s said to me over the years that have become clearer in my journey. I remember a piece of advice I think about now-a-days with “Dirk Gently”. He said this cryptic thing: “You just have to step over the line.” The more I think about what he meant by that is more crystalized for me now.

 Would you like to work with your father on another project at some point?

We talk about that all the time and would love to do something together. There hasn’t been a project yet that’s worked but I would really love that. It would be a gift.

What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?

I’m most excited about finding more freedom in the chances I get to perform. Like anything, the more you do something the better you are at it and the freer you become. It’s a fun ride and I’m so incredibly lucky.

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Actor David Banks Puts on 20 Pounds Of Muscle for New Role and Says, ‘Sayonara Skinny’

Photo by: Gaylord Hill

Photo by: Gaylord Hill

They say actors can always just sit and wait around for the right roles and auditions to come along. But David Banks was never about the status quo. Instead the actor –who’s credits include more than 100 commercials as well as the features “The Dark Tapes,” and “CUT!” chooses to shine by doing things his own way.

Case in point. Banks’ upcoming project, “Preacher Six” required the wisecracking funnyman to gain more than twenty pounds. To reach his goal in the quickest amount of time, Banks hit the weights hard and supplemented his routine with Optimum Nutrition products.

I recently spoke with him about his dramatic transformation and his upcoming projects in this exclusive new interview.

“Preacher Six” required you to gain some weight. How were you safely able to put on 20 pounds of muscle?

My character is one of those heavily caffeinated, fast-talking lug types. I’ve been the skinny, twerpy guy for a long time. So when they asked me if I’d be ok with putting on ten pounds I said, “Why not go for twenty?” Robert Corbett and the guys at Optimum Nutrition really helped get me get on the gain train! Their gainer shakes and Amino Energy quickly became my new best friends.

What was your exercises routine like? 

I went the resistance route. Lifted heavier than normal and whenever I wanted to stop, I did two more. I got to the point of excitement that I’d hit the scales just to see how much heavier I was than the day prior. I also set my alarm clock to wake me up in the middle of the night to devour tuna and protein shakes.

What can you tell me about “Preacher Six”?

The minute I picked up the script I literally couldn’t put it down. Tracy Ray [screenwriter] is onto something really big here! “Preacher Six” is the story of a small town preacher who’s summoned to the big city where he ends up fighting evil. The characters he meets along the journey are something special and unique! The film also stars Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), Zach Galligan (Gremlins), Kyle Hester (The Chair) and Bill Oberst Jr. (Criminal Minds). Kyle and I have been talking about working together for years, so I’m excited it’s finally happening. He is an absolute talent.

You’ve recently stepped away from commercials to be a little more involved in films. Is there one you enjoy doing more than the other?

I’ve always had a strong love for commercials and enjoy the process of it a little bit more. It’s fascinating with everything that goes into a simple thirty-second spot. 

David Banks - (Before)

David Banks – (Before)

What’s the biggest compliment you’ve heard so far about any of your commercials?

“Wow, you were so annoying!” [laughs]. I think the minute I stop being the aggravating, irritating and imbecilic idiot next door is when I know it’ll be time to quit.

You have two other movies coming out soon, “Half Magic” and “Bornless Ones”. What can you tell me about them?

“Half Magic” is Heather Graham’s directorial debut and was an absolute blessing to be a part of. She really put her heart into this one and is one of the most giving actresses I’ve ever worked with. I also got to work alongside Chris D’Elia and it was non-stop laughs.

“Bornless Ones” will be out sometime in early 2017. Alexander Babaev [director] is absolutely going to be huge! I’m excited about that one as well.

 What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I’d have to say my favorite part is witnessing how it all comes together in the editing process. I also tend to lean more towards the seriously dark and depressing characters in a film and am fascinated by the ability one has to turn on the “crazy” switch.

Have you ever given thought to your next writing / producing project?

Absolutely! I had so much fun watching my last writing adventure; “CUT!” come to life. I’m already working on a new film even more twisted [laughs].

‘The Caretaker’: Actress Meegan Warner Discusses Supernatural Thriller

thecaretakerWritten by Jeremy Robinson and directed by Jeff Prugh, “The Caretaker” is a new character-driven thriller that tells the story of a young woman who returns home to care for her gravely ill grandmother.

The film stars the beautiful Meegan Warner (Mary on AMC’s critically acclaimed series, TURN: Washington’s Spies) as Mallorie, an empathetic young woman who wants to do well by her grandmother. But in the process of staying in her grandmother’s vast Victorian home, Mallorie encounters bouts of sleepwalking and envisioning spirits, all while uncovering dark secrets about her family’s past.

“The Caretaker” was an official selection at Indie Horror Film Festival where it took home three awards, including the Director’s Choice Award. The film was also an official selection at FilmQuest, HellaCon, Gasparilla and the Fantastic Horror film festivals.

I recently spoke with Warner about “The Caretaker”, the final season of TURN, her career and more in this exclusive new interview!

How did this project come about for you? 

It was a pretty standard procedure. My agents sent me the script, I went in and taped with the casting directors and was later asked to come in for a chemistry read with [co-star] Sean Martini. Then a few weeks later, we were all on set!

What was it that attracted you to the role?

I remember coming in for the chemistry read and workshopping the audition scenes. It was the first time I met Jeff [Prugh], who was completely open to improvisation and suggestions. Meeting everyone and seeing how passionate and determined they were really drew me in. I just remember walking out of the room really wanting to be a part of the project.

How would you describe the story of “The Caretaker”?

“The Caretaker” is a character-driven thriller about a young woman named Mallorie who returns home to care for her sick grandmother only to discover that things aren’t as they seem. 

What can you tell me about your character, Mallorie?

Mallorie was such a gift to play because she had so much going on. She grew up with the knowledge that her mother abandoned her and her grandmothers health is deteriorating, She also struggles with her own mental heath problems and sleep disorders. I liked that she wasn’t your typical damaged horror movie girl though. She has great relationships outside of her family life. 

Meegan Warner (left) and Sean Martini in The Caretaker

Meegan Warner (left) and co-star Sean Martini in The Caretaker

What was the filming process like?

The whole experience was amazing. It was one of those projects where you didn’t want it to end. Jeff and Jeremy were awesome to work with. So open to ideas and encouraged improvisation. It was a very creative set to be on. The house we shot in was incredible and definitely added to the film. I remember Jeff saying something like he wanted the action taking place downstairs to feel like a drama and the events taking place upstairs to feel like a thriller. He really wanted the upper level of the house to have a dangerous vibe.

What do you think makes horror such a great genre? 

I think like any genre, it’s that escapism –the thrill and adrenaline. I love horror movies. If I’m choosing a movie to watch I usually gravitate towards horror. When you think about it, scaring yourself is a pretty strange thing to enjoy!

Did you always know that you wanted to have a career in entertainment? Was it something you always aspired to do?

The thought of being an actress never really crossed my mind when I was a kid. That whole world seemed so far removed from my upbringing. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I decided acting was something I wanted to do. I did the school play and just loved the whole experience. I don’t remember the exact moment when it went from being a fun thing to do to a career option, but it happened quickly and from that point on I was pretty determined to figure out how to make it work.

What are you most looking forward to about with the final season of “TURN: Washington’s Spies”? What can fans expect from the show and from your character, Mary?

I’m really excited and curious to see how the writers will wrap it up: if we’ll have time jumps and finish the war or if we’ll just continue on from Season 3. I know absolutely nothing, so I can’t tease anything! But I can’t wait to read the first script, and I hope Mary continues to surprise!

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

TURN will start filming soon, so over the next few months I’ll be working on that. After we wrap, who knows? That’s the exciting part about this job. You never know what’s next! I’d also like to give a shout out to another horror film I did in Australia. It’s called “Scare Campaign” and it’s getting a U.S release later this month. So please keep a look out!

“The Caretaker” is available now in multiple formats.

‘Malacostraca’: Filmmaker Charles Pieper Discusses Psychological Horror Film

MalacostracaFilmmaker Charles Pieper probably never would have dreamed that an idea he had for a college creative writing assignment would come to life.

But not only will Pieper’s psychological exploration of the fragility of the human mind become a short film, but the talented writer/director has enlisted the talents of actors Amber Bollinger and Charlie Pecoraro as well as practical creature puppetry and special effects by none other than legendary artist, Gabe Bartalos in making his vision a reality.

Pieper sees Malacostraca as a horrifically scary film that’s full of universally relatable feelings and fears. It will have a tone of trapped dread and nature-based horror. Think “Possession” meets “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. 

Horror fans can also help bring Malacostraca to life by contributing to the project’s Indigogo campaign, which has already garnered more than $10,000. Pieper and his team have several unique perks available as a thank you for helping to support independent films.

I recently spoke with Pieper about Malacostraca and more in this exclusive new interview.

When did the idea for Malacostraca originate?

This idea for the film actually goes all the way back to 2007. I was in college studying film and had been taking a lot of writing classes. For one of the classes, I wanted to try to come up with the most disturbing image that I could, and something that would even freak me out. I ruminated on that for a while and out came this initial image of a crawdad crawling across a sleeping woman in a bathing suit who had just been swimming. To make things even more uncomfortable, the woman’s husband was watching and almost yelled to wake her up, but then decided not to because he’s morbidly intrigued by what the crawdad is going to do. It was uncomfortable and unsettling. It was the start of this really creepy story and about pushing the boundaries of what I was comfortable writing about. Years went by and I eventually ended up working in L.A. doing stop-motion animation and music videos. I never thought I’d ever be able to do this kind of short film but spent the last two years meeting people and developing it out. Now we’re halfway into a two-month campaign and have already raised more than $10,000!

MAL1

You’ve got two amazing actors tied to this project in Charlie Pecoraro and Amber Bollinger. What can you tell me about them?

I’ve known Amber and Charlie for a long time. I first met them back in 2009 when I was working on a series that they were acting in and we really hit it off. Amber and Charlie have been friends for a long time and since they’re playing a married couple, they already bring chemistry to the project. In fact, when I revised the short story I wrote it with them in mind as the characters.

How would you describe the story of Malacostraca?

It’s a psychological, relationship horror film with monster elements. To me, the scariest thing in real life would be when your body or mind was working against you while you’re stuck with someone you shouldn’t be with.

Gabe Bartalos

Gabe Bartalos

How did legendary FX artist Gabe Bartalos become involved in the project?

I used to work for Gabe at his company (Atlantic West) for a few years. We both share similar interests, both in horror and in art. We became friendly and the two of us stayed in touch. Once I felt the script was ready to present I ran the idea past him. He loved it and jumped on board. Gabe almost never does short films like this so it’s very exciting!

Let’s discuss the project’s Indigogo campaign. What are some of the perks donators can receive for contributing?

The most exciting perk happened shortly after we became an Indiewire Project of the Day. Because of that, Creepy Co reached out to us and offered to make us an enamel pin of the baby monster as a perk. They’re a great company that’s made a limited edition run of 300. We brainstormed like crazy to create interesting perks that were different from most campaigns. So you can also get things like original art, prints and even a storyboard artist’s concept design. Every donation helps.

What’s next for the project?

The campaign ends in September and once that’s finished, the majority of the funds will go toward building out the rest of the puppets. We’re hoping to have everything ready to shoot by the end of the year. Once the film is complete, donors who backed it at the $25 and up level will be given early access through a website secret password. As a whole, the movie will be sent to all horror festivals sometime next year.

What the most looking part about Malacostraca? What are you most looking forward to about it?

The most exciting thing for me is the culmination of years of development leading up to this. To see something that I initially wrote as an idea in 2007 become a film and then to have a creature made by one my favorite special effects artists of all time will be the best. Everything else will be icing on top of this terrific cake!

‘It Happened Again Last Night’: Multi-talented Actress and Filmmaker Gabrielle Stone Talks New Project

GabrielleStoneSome know actress Gabrielle Stone for her inspiring performances in such horror films as “Speak No Evil,” “CUT!,” and “Zombie Killers”. But the beautiful daughter of legendary actors Dee Wallace and Christopher Stone has a creative side few have seen –that is until now.

This fall Stone, along with her project partner, Roze will unveil their new short-film, “It Happened Again Last Night”.

A passion project for Stone, the film not only features a group of seasoned actors –including Amanda Wyss, Randy Wayne, Chris Mulkey and Alex Lynn Ward, but was also written, directed and produced by the creative duo of Stone and Roze. Stone also takes on the emotional role of Paige in “It Happened Again Last Night”, showcasing her versatile acting prowess.

The producers have set up an Indigogo campaign (with some really amazing perks) where fans can contribute to help with the film’s completion.

 I recently spoke with Gabrielle Stone about “It Happened One Night” and more in this exclusive new interview.

When did the idea for “It Happened Again Last Night” begin?

 I initially wrote a script I wanted to do as an actress, but once I brought in Roze [co-writer/co-director] things quickly evolved. After we had settled on our final draft, it was clear what a powerful story we had. The subject matter of domestic violence is not often spoken about publicly and we wanted to depict it in a real and truthful way. The LGBTQ themes were also in the script from the very beginning. I have a lot of people in my life who are in same sex relationships and I really wanted to do a piece that shows the strength I witness in all of them.

How would you describe the story?

It’s the story about a woman [Paige] who’s struggling to own who she really is. Paige is stuck in an abusive relationship with Stephen (Randy Wayne) while her heart is with Kris (Alex Lynn Ward). In the end, she must choose between fear and love before she has no choices left to make.

 What can you tell me about your character, Paige?

Honestly, it was a very emotional experience playing Paige. There was a real sense of responsibility in bringing realness to this character. I remember after we had finished a highly emotional scene, Alex (Lynn Ward) came into the make-up room and looked like she was about to burst into tears. Alex and I have been friends for years and she’s always been the funny and lighthearted one in the room. She was so affected by watching me in the state I was in and feeling the reality that women actually go through this that it really hit her.

There are a lot of notable actors involved in this project. What can you tell me about them?

They’re all amazing. We were incredibly lucky to get such great talent on board and I think most of that has to do with them believing in the material. Every person brought everything they had to set and everyone gave incredible performances.

GabrielleStone2

Do you have a tentative release date for the film?

We’ve already got a picture lock and it’s currently with sound and color correction. We’re now in the process of raising the last bit of funds to cover post-production costs, marketing, and festival submission. Our goal is to be finished by mid-September to start submitting to festivals.

What are some of the perks fans can receive by supporting your Indigogo campaign?

We genuinely appreciate everyone who believes in this project and has been helping us by donating or sharing. I truly believe this film is going to affect people and hopefully will help heal some as well. We’ve got some great things to offer as a thank you. Everything from fully signed film posters, digital downloads, scripts signed by our entire cast and even dinner with Randy Wayne and I.

Are there any other projects you’re working on right now?

My film, “Ava’s Impossible Things” is currently available on Vimeo and I have “Death House” and “Dance Night Obsession” coming out later this year. I’ve also recently signed on to a horror film that hasn’t been publicly announced yet.

What’s the best bit of advice your mom has given you as an actress / artist?

Be authentic. Live in love. Don’t act.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about the creative process while working on this project?

This entire process has taught me to trust my instincts and has reassured me that I know what I’m doing in the creative world. I also have a greater understanding and new appreciation for people on the other side of the business. This is a passion project I’ve held close from beginning to end and to finally be able to show it to the world and have people experience what we’ve been working on will be incredible. For me to say “I’ve made my first film” is a huge accomplishment for me and I couldn’t have picked better people to be involved with it. It’s something we’re all truly proud of.

‘Disappearance At Devil’s Rock’: Author Paul Tremblay Discusses His New Emotional Thrill Ride

DrockFollowing the success of his psychological thriller, “A Head Full of Ghosts”, author Paul Tremblay spent most of the summer of 2014 trying to figure out what his next book would be about. He began by asking himself the same question most horror writers do – “What scares me?”

Tremblay eventually found the answer to his question while spending time in the woods near his home. The result would become his page-turning thrill ride, “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock”.

Although its title may conjure up images of 1970’s Hardy Boys mysteries, this is a 21st century tale of fear and intrigue. Elizabeth Sanderson gets the call in the middle of the night that all parent’s dread. Her son, Tommy is at a sleep over at a park when Tommy suddenly wanders off and disappears.

The supernatural element and emotional struggles of the family and neighbors in their desperate attempt to find Tommy make “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” one of the highlight reads of summer.

Tremblay is no stranger to accolades. His previous book, “A Head Full of Ghosts” was recently awarded The Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel. It was also optioned for the big screen by Focus Features and has even received praise by the master of horror himself, Stephen King. A U.K. version of “A Head Full of Ghosts” will be available in late September.

I recently spoke with Paul Tremblay about the new book and more in this exclusive interview.

Where did the idea for “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” begin?

I started by asking myself the question, “Of all the things that scare me now, which one scares me the most?” As a parent myself, the obvious answer would have to be to have one of your children go missing. Then I started thinking about Borderland State Park. It features prominently in the book and is a real place I used to hike in all the time. I decided to put those two things together, and make one of my favorite places kind of creepy.

Can you tell me a little about your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’ve done both. With “A Head Full of Ghosts” I did a lot of plotting and pantsing. For this one, I started by doing a sixteen-page summary that took quite a bit of time to complete. I learned a lot about structural work as I prepared for the story; right from the beginning and through the whole process of writing. The first draft took about eleven months to complete. When I first finished, it was by far the longest thing I had ever written.

Did you have to do much research in preparation to write?

My son was actually my Minecraft expert. Both he and my daughter grew up playing the game. I didn’t know a whole lot about Snapchat, and most of that research was done online and figuring out what police would be able to get from it. There’s this idea of how using social media makes us safe and closer than we actually are. I decided to use it to make it harder to find Tommy.

PaulTremblay

Do you have a set daily goal of time or words in mind when you sit down to write?

I usually don’t set a time when I’m working a project but I do try to set a goal of 500 words a day—and that could be in the morning, afternoon or night. I always try to fit it in but also give myself permission to miss that mark. More times than not, I’ll make those 500 and some days will even surpass that.

Did you encounter any challenges while writing “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock”?

This book took me out of my comfort zone a little bit. All of my previous novels were done in first person point of view. This one was third person jumping around to different characters. It’s good to push yourself as a writer and continue to get better.

What’s the best bit of advice you can give to aspiring writers?

For someone starting out the biggest thing is read…read… read! If you want to be a writer, you can’t sacrifice anything else for reading. Also, give yourself a reason to be patient. If the first book doesn’t sell, use that process to stick with it. You’ll learn a lot as a writer from being rejected and from listening to what editors say. Take their comments about your work and use it to get better!

You’ve recently won The Bram Stoker award and Stephen King has even mentioned how much he loves your work. As a writer, when comes to mind when you think about those things?

 It’s very affirming and humbling. I actually started writing because of Stephen King. So getting accolades from one of my heroes tells me that the work has paid off. Winning an award by a horror association is also one of the highlights of my professional life and something I’ll never take for granted.

What would you like people to take away from reading “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock”?

I don’t want to add to the culture of fear and have people be freaked out and afraid for their children. But I’d really like for people to come away feeling empathy for all of the characters –even the ones that don’t do good things. As a writer, that’s important to me. Readers don’t always have to feel sympathy for the characters but they should understand the decisions that they make and why they do what they do.

‘The Drownsman’: Actor Ry Barrett Discusses Aquatic, Supernatural Thriller

TheDrownsmanAfter nearly drowning in a tragic lake accident, a young Madison (Michelle Mylett) finds herself bound to an uncontrollable fear of water. Unable to rid herself of her hydrophobia, four of Madison’s friends stage a desperate intervention. But in doing so, they unknowingly release a supernatural serial killer that’s determined to drag them one by one into a dark, horrifying place from which they may never return.

The premise for “The Drownsman” contains all of the goodness from many of the classic horror films of the 80’s but with its own unique twist. That being, an all female lead cast. Something that even by today’s standards is unheard of for films of the horror genre.

Directed by Chad Archibald, The Drownsman also stars Caroline Palmer, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss and Clare Bastable.

Actor Ry Barrett has a history of playing nefarious villains in horror but his role of Sebastian Donner (aka The Drownsman) may be his best yet! Barrett gives life to a monster that has every evil intention of Freddy Kreuger or Pinhead, yet possesses his own twisted, demonic purpose.

I recently spoke with Barrett about his work on The Drownsman and more in this exclusive interview!

How did this project come about for you?

Chad Archibald and I go back a long way as friends and he was telling me about the idea. He asked me if I would read the script just to give him some feedback. I really liked the character so I asked if I could read for it. Originally, they were looking for an older man who was a bit more lanky and skinny. But I went in and read for the character and even wrote a separate monologue, just to see if I could creep them out. They liked what I did and changed their minds about what the character was going to be.

What was it about the script that attracted you to the role?

It all goes back to my love for these kind of characters. I loved the Hellraiser and Nightmare On Elm Street franchises. The whole idea of these tortured individuals who come back for revenge though some sort of supernatural outlet really appealed to me. I already knew it was a movie I’d love to see, so I definitely wanted to play a role in it.

How would you describe your character, Sebastian Donner?

He’s a tortured, mysterious individual who has this shoddy past. Early on, you see that he’s a serial killer who drowns women in various ways in order to receive comfort. The reason he does it is touched upon in the film but something happens through one of his victims that turns him into this supernatural entity that’s stronger, more powerful and evil.

What was the filming process like?

It was a lot of fun. There was intense make-up work and the aspect of water and shooting in winter in northern Canada posed some challenges, but it was very rewarding and great experience.

What was the chemistry like on set?

It was great. I had worked with Michelle on a film called “Antisocial” that had some pretty intense scenes. So we had already built up a level of comfort and rapport together. The girls had a great chemistry even before I stepped foot on set. It was cool to jump into this family where everyone was pulling for each other. We all worked well together. 

You mentioned your relationship with Chad. Can you speak a little about how that worked in “The Drownsman”?

Chad and I go way back and have done many projects together. We know each other so well that we’ve developed this form of short hand communication. He’s able to get exactly what he wants with very few words because he knows me so well. It’s nice to work with someone who knows you in that way.

What do you love most about horror?

I love all the different things about the genre. It draws on the fears that we don’t really understand and is something everyone can relate to. There are fun horror films and ones that just want to shake you. Then there are others that just want to talk you on a ride. “The Drownsman” is one of those movies that entertains you in a scary, fun way and also takes you on that ride.

Ryan Barrett HS2Did you always know that you wanted a career in acting?

I was more focused on playing in rock bands when I was younger but have always been a movie lover.

Shortly after a few of my friends had come out of film school, they asked me to be a part of one of their projects because they knew I had also taken drama in school. That experience changed my whole outlook. From then on, I was hooked!

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

The Demolisher; which is a film I produced and acted in will be premiering at FanTasia this year. It’s directed by Gabriel Carrer. I also have another film called “Save Yourself” that will also be hitting festivals soon. 

What excites you the most about the release of “The Drownsman”?

I’m hoping that people really enjoy it. It’s a fun, throwback horror film that takes you back to the films of the 80’s. A time when a lot of people grew up and fell in love with the genre. This is a love letter to those kinds of films.

The Drownsman is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment

‘Prom Ride’: Actress Deanna Pak talks new horror-based thrill ride

DeannaPakEveryone knows that senior prom is supposed to be a night of elegance, rejoicing and celebrating with good friends. But when a psychotic killer hijacks a group of teens’ stretch limousine on their way to the event, the group’s night of celebration unexpectedly turns into one of desperation and despair.

Directed by Kazeem Molake, “Prom Ride” is a new horror/thriller that will be released just in time for this year’s prom season. With a talented cast of actors combined with shooting a majority of the film within the confines of a limo, it offers a unique take on the horror genre.

For multi-talented actress Deanna Pak, “Prom Ride” is another opportunity to flex her creative muscle. Pak plays the role of Junie, one of the “less experienced” members of the entourage who still wants to be cool with all of the popular girls.

I recently spoke with Pak about her role in “Prom Ride”, her career and more in this exclusive interview!

What attracted you to the story of “Prom Ride”?

For me, it was a story that was entertaining and scary at the same time. It was also unique in the sense that some parts use iPhone footage while others use the master shot. So it tells the story but also tells our version of it as well. It has a glimpse of found footage in addition to the horror and I thought that was really cool.

How did you become involved in the project?

It was through a typical audition process. I remember we started shooting up towards the end of 2013. The original goal was to release it last prom season but special effects weren’t quite complete. So they decided to wait until now!

How would you describe the story of “Prom Ride”?

It’s the story about a group of teens who are all best friends going to prom. One of the friends gets the group a huge, amazing stretch limousine to take them all there. On the way, someone hijacks the limo and we all become trapped inside trying to survive. Whoever is behind it then pits us against each other and threatens to kill us if we don’t comply. So needless to say, things get pretty crazy inside of the limo! [laughs].

What can you tell me about your character, Junie?

Junie is more of the innocent girl of the bunch. She and her date both had a crush on each other for the longest time and finally get together to go to the prom together. But she also has a few secrets she keeps to herself.

What was the chemistry like on set?

It was amazing. We spent so much time together rehearsing and then it was somewhere around ten straight days filming in the limo, so it became like family. We were all friends and that made it so much fun. 

What was it like working with Kazeem?

Working with Kazeem was a great experience. The thing I love about him is that he knew exactly what he wanted and was able to get it across in a very constructive way so that we would all look as good as possible.

What can you tell me about your background?

I started dancing when I was twelve and it became my main focus. Then in high school, I decided to try acting in school plays and Community Theater in addition to dance production. The part I love the most about dancing and acting is being able to tell a story. By the time I was in my second year of college I realized that acting was something I seriously wanted to pursue and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

Right now I’m currently involved in a martial arts/horror film. The director is a good friend of mine and it’s going to be a lot more action than I’ve ever done before. They have a strong cast and I’m very excited about it.

Is there a bit of advice you can share with aspiring actors? Something you’ve learned along the way?

Be yourself and be happy with who you are. That energy alone will take you a long way. Of course, your craft is very important and you should continue to master it but learn and study as much as you can about the business. Focus on the things you want to do and then work from there. Being a student forever is my best advice. Never stop learning.

What excites you the most about the release of “Prom Ride”?

I expect people will love this film. It’s a really fun movie to watch. For me to be able to be a part of this project was great. I loved the creative they way they shot most of the film from inside of the limo. The whole thing was a great experience!

“Prom Ride” will be released on April 24th

‘Muck’: Writer/Director Steve Wolsh talks new horror film

MuckAfter narrowly escaping from an ancient burial ground buried under the marshes of Cape Cod, a group of friends emerge from the thick darkness, tattered and bloody. They soon stumble upon an empty Cape Cod vacation house and break in to take shelter. But whatever was in the marsh is still after them and the group soon learns that the evil that’s hunting them isn’t the only thing that wants them dead.

Shot in state-of-the-art 4K Ultra HD resolution, “Muck” is the debut film by writer/director Steve Wolsh. The film stars horror icon, Kane Hodder [“Friday The 13th series], as well as 2012 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Jaclyn Swedberg.

What makes “Muck” so interesting is the fact that it’s actually the second film in a horror-fueled trilogy. Although releasing the second film of a three-part series first may cause some confusion, there is more than enough suspense, gore and beautiful women in this first “chapter” to lay a foundation for what will surely become one of horror’s most engaging film trilogies.

I recently spoke with writer/director Steve Wolsh about his vision for “Muck” in this exclusive interview.

What made you decide to take on the role of filmmaker for this project?

I’ve always wanted to make films but always held a real job as well as having other responsibilities. I was about to turn thirty and finally realized that this was the time. So I quit my job, sold everything and made a movie. Even though I had a limited budget I really wanted to do something that was different and unique. It’s three stories and 347 pages of script with “Muck” being the middle 86 pages. It was the part of the story I wanted to tell first. Then we’ll do the prequel and then the sequel.

What inspired the story?

I wanted to tell a story in Cape Cod because that’s where the house I own is (which is also the one used in the film). I wanted a certain look and feel and that was motivated by the idea of telling a story in an unnatural way. I just started writing and at some point had all the ingredients for a trilogy. Even though this film is the middle part, everything will eventually make sense. There are so many options for characters and things we can do. It’s more than you get from your typical horror film, and all of that flowed into “Muck”.

How would describe this story of “Muck”?

It’s almost like a bad dream, because there’s no beginning and no end. And even though you may not understand it at first, you’ll want to watch it again. It pays homage to old school horror by taking some of the things that you’ve seen before but exaggerating them. For example: in some typical horror films there always seems to be a hot girl walking around in her underwear. That’s when I thought, “Ok. What if we had a chick walking in her underwear from the opening scene?” [laughs]. Those are some of the things that we did.

How did Kane Hodder get involved in the project?

He was the very first person I wanted. I really wanted to start a franchise and there was no better way to do that than by getting Kane Hodder. What makes “Muck” work was not only the vision of the movie, but also the continuity. Kane read the script, loved it and wanted to be a part of it. He came out for three days, filmed for one and went through six hours of makeup. He was a blast to work it.

You wore so many hats on this project [writer, director, producer]. Did you encounter many challenges during the filming process?

There were many, but this was something that I’ve always wanted to do. Some days you get kicked in and some days everything goes right. You take the good with the bad and learn how to navigate. There was no rulebook. You just have to do it.

One of the things that makes “Muck” so interesting is your desire to not to use any CGI for effects. Why did you decide to go that route?

As a horror fan, I think people enjoy it more without CGI. It reminds them more of the old school horror. The idea of having fake blood come up through a pitchfork and then spraying out looks much better than filming a scene and then adding imaginary blood afterwards. The challenge of figuring out how to do it also makes it more fun. Like, how do we drag someone off the balcony by a rope and then fall 35 feet? Or how to we drag a naked girl up the stairs with a real axe? [laughs].

What can you tell me about the prequel, “Muck: Feast of Saint Patrick”?

In a lot of ways, it’s nothing like “Muck” because there are certainly other things to be worried about in the marsh. In “Muck”, you also don’t see the characters of Desiree, Noah, Billy and Kylee as normal. You only see them as freaked out and hurt. In the next film, you’ll get to meet them and know them better. What’s interesting is that you’ve never seen a horror movie where you see people die, but know that they’re still “safe”. Some people may love it or hate it because they might not understand it, but I’m slow plating you. There are things best left to the imagination. You’ll appreciate it more when you find out the answers. It’s three films worth of movie but I’m not giving it to you all at once. When you watch the prequel and then watch “Muck” again, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on. And when it’s all over, it’s going to be something bigger than you get with typical horror.

Now that “Muck” is completed, what are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to getting to work on the next movie. I’m ready to get back at it and take all of the things I’ve learned from this one into the next. That’s going to be exciting. I’m really proud of the fact that this movie exists. It feels really gratifying to know that my movie is in stores in places I’ve never been to. The fact that “Muck” exists and is part of the universe forever is the thing I’m most proud of.

“Muck” is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Actress/Producer Brooke Lewis talks new films, career and life coaching

LewisWhen it comes to Hollywood actresses, you’d be hard pressed to find one who is as confident, inspiring or more hardworking than Brooke Lewis. Because whether she’s acting or producing, this beautiful Philadelphia, PA native has made a name for herself in the film and television world.

As an actress, Brooke has appeared in many different genres of film but is perhaps best known for her work in thrillers and mob themed stories like “iMurders” and “Sinatra Club” as well as for the comedic portrayal of her vampire “alter-ego”, Ms. Vampy.

If all that weren’t enough, Brooke is also a board certified life coach; using her talent and experience to encourage her clients to become more courageously confident and to discover their own inner voice.

Brooke has another busy year ahead of her with passion projects like “The Mourning” as well as the sequel to the hugely successful film, “Starship: Rising”. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about her upcoming roles as well as her work as an actress and life coach!

Tell me a little about your background.

I’m one of those people who knew what they wanted to do in life early on. As a child, I was very sensitive and a bit insecure. It wasn’t until I started taking drama classes that I discovered that acting was a great outlet for me to express myself and feel emotion. I started my career back East in Philadelphia where I did a lot of theater work. Then I went to New York where I did a few off Broadway shows like Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding before finally making the move to LA.

What can you tell me about your new film, “The Mourning”?

It’s a labor of love project. I first met Marc Clebanoff [writer/director] a few years ago when we did an action film called “Break” with Michael Madsen and David Carradine. I did a supporting role in the film and had a lot of fun. The two of us went on to do a few other films together and we eventually became good friends. In 2011, Mark and Michael Walton came to me and said that they wrote a great supporting role for me in a new film they were working on. It’s a drama with a sci-fi twist where I got to play a tremendous supporting role along with Louis Mandylor, who’s a tremendous actor. It has everything that makes for a great gritty indie film and it was a blast working with true artists who were really committed to the project!

What attracted you to the script?

By nature, I’ve always been a big fan of thrillers, but the thing I loved the most about it is that it’s a love story. Every good film starts with a good script and this is one of the most beautiful stories about love, life and how things change.

How would you describe the story of “The Mourning”?

It’s the story about a young guy who lives in a small town. He and his best friend go off to the Gulf War and without giving too much away, one of them comes back and the other one doesn’t. Now it’s twenty years later (present day) and this person who’s been missing suddenly reappears.

You have another film that’s about to be released, “Starship: Apocalypse”. What can you tell me about that?

Neil Johnson is another director who has been a blessing to work with. The first film, “Starship: Rising” came out last year and was a huge hit overseas. The sequel is a fun, spaceship driven, full blown sci-fi piece that I had the best time working on. I play Staris, who is a bad-ass fighter pilot. She’s strong and sassy and fights for what she believes in. She has integrity and will keep to her beliefs in order to protect her federation. She is one of my favorite roles.

How did you become involved in life coaching?

I’ve always been the kind of person my friends and associates would come to looking for advice and shortly after the economy crashed a few years ago I decided to explore that different side of me. I was so inspired by helping teens and young actresses that I took a year and a half off, went back to school, took the boards and became a certified life coach. I’ve since launched my business, Be You Be Fearless Life Coach. I really love what I do!

BrookeLewis

What other projects are you working on right now?

Director Greg Lamberson came to me about a new film he was working on called “Killer Rack” and told me that he needed me for a specific role. I was a bit skeptical at first but after reading the script was just blown away! It’s comedy at its best with a twinge of horror. Yes, it is literally about a killer rack of boobs, but here’s the catch. I’m all about coaching female empowerment and body image and this film has a great subtext and message to it. It’s a supernatural comedy about what happens when you get plastic surgery because you think it’s going to make you happy but then things go terribly wrong!

What’s the best advice you can give to young actors and actresses who may want to follow in your footsteps?

I tell young actors every day that if there’s anything in this world that fulfills them other than acting then they should go do it, because acting is such a challenging process. But if you’re like me and it’s the only thing you’re passionate about and the only thing that fills that place in your soul, then you definitely have to do it!

Photos by: Roger A. Scheck

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