Tag: horror

Director Harrison Smith Talks ‘Death House,’ New Projects

When Harrison Smith agreed to co-write and direct the action/horror thriller, “Death House,” the filmmaker had one goal in mind: to make Gunnar Hansen’s intertwined vision of good and evil a consummate reality. The film’s premise, which brings many of the greatest horror icons together in one film, is a rollercoaster funhouse ride of scares and screams as well as a nod to the best of 80s horror.

In “Death House,” Agents Toria Boon (Cortney Palm) and Jae Novak (Cody Longo) are given a tour of a state of the art, government prison where medical and mental experiments are carried out on the worst of humanity by Drs. Eileen Fletcher (Dee Wallace) and Karen Redmane (Barbara Crampton). But when an unexpected power outage releases the monstrous inmates Boon and Novak, who are beginning to learn more about their own dark pasts, have to fight for survival through a labyrinth of horror. It all culminates in a final, violent showdown in the prison’s deepest level with a face to face encounter with The Five Evils.

In addition to a fun story and stellar cast, which includes Kane Hodder (“Friday The 13th”series), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Sid Haig (“House of 1,000 Corpses”), and Felissa Rose (“Sleepaway Camp”), “Death House” also features a plethora of Easter eggs guaranteed to please even the most ardent horror fan.

I recently spoke with Harrison Smith about “Death House” and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this project come about?

Gunnar had brought the idea of creating a movie with a who’s who of horror names to his agent, Michael Eisenstadt. His original script, called “Death House,” was about a group of college kids who create a documentary about going into an abandoned asylum. But when they get down into the bowels of the building, they discover that the patients have never really left. Instead, they’ve been living there as subterranean beings. Michael eventually got the script into the hands of Rick Finkelstein from Entertainment Factory, who then brought it to me. 

Gunnar Hansen

How did the script evolve into what would become the final film?

I met with Gunnar and the two of us started going over it. The whole documentary idea had been done before, but the one thing Gunnar really wanted retained was his vision that good and evil are intertwined and need each other. He told me he had this Biblical concept of these “Four Horsemen” so I suggested we change it up by adding a woman to finish out the points of a pentagram and calling them The Five Evils. Around that same time, the Super Bowl was airing the world debut trailer for “Jurassic World.” That’s when it hit me: why not make “Jurassic Park” without the dinosaurs? And instead of it being an asylum, let’s make it a prison. We’ll have a young group going on a tour when the ride breaks down and the monsters get out. That appealed to Gunnar. I took even more inspiration from the film, “Escape from New York.” Now we were able to put horror names in as real characters.

The sad thing was that during all this time, Gunnar never let on that he was dying. No one actually knew until a few weeks before he passed [Hansen died in 2015]. That was why he was emphatic about getting it done. I wanted to make sure I preserved his vision, and after reading the final draft Gunnar gave Rick his blessing.

Was there ever any thought given to having the horror icons reprise their famous character roles for “Death House”?

Never. When that idea was first pitched I made it clear I didn’t want to make anything like that. Just look at “Freddy Vs. Jason” as an example. That film went through fourteen drafts and took ten years to make, and that’s what we got? Just because you can do it doesn’t mean that you should.

What was the casting process like for “Death House?”

All of Gunnar’s friends had already told him they’d be on board, so it was a matter of finding a place for them. Robert Englund was also set to appear, and even went out of his way to try to make it happen, but by the time the money moved for filming he already had other commitments and just couldn’t do it.

What can you tell me about the addition of Cortney Palm to the project?

We originally had cast Bianca Bradey, from Wyrmwood, as Agent Toria Boon. She loved the script and we loved her. She’s Australian and we had everything set up with her visa, but it wasn’t going to carry over when it finally came time to shoot. I’ve always been a fan of Cortney’s work in “Sushi Girl” and it was also around the same time “Zombeavers” came out. She and I were Twitter friends so I reached out to her about it. She has charisma and a great look and delivery. She gave everything she had and is absolutely terrific in this film.

How would you describe the story of “Death House”?

I would describe it as a roller coaster ride through the fun house. It’s also a “flipping around cable in 1983 at 2 o’clock in the morning” kind of film. One where you come across it and you say to yourself, “Man, I’ve got to finish this!” That’s what I was going for. It’s very “Escape From New York” / John Carpenter-esque and a tip of the hat to that great 80s cheesy action horror. What’s interesting is that there’s also lot of stuff in the film that’s in the headlines again today, like Transhumanism, which is the idea that mental illness is contagious and can be spread through social media. It’s a smart script that ends with you asking questions, which is what every good film should do.

Are there plans to do a sequel?

“Death House 2: The Farm” is already written and in it we’ll start answering some questions. Like the shower scene where Agents Boon and Novak are asking about each other’s tattoos and the possibility of having memories erased. It all takes place on a farm that’s being used for human trafficking.

Are there any other projects you’re currently involved in?

Spilled Milk” is a screen play I wrote that’s based on the novel by K. L. Randis, which is her true account of surviving sexual abuse from her father. I was attracted to the story because of this woman’s plight and the whole #MeToo movement. I wanted to write it from the standpoint that it really is a horror movie because it’s real. The script is in the hands of a female director, which is where it should be. Most of all, I’m excited for Kelly to get her word out.

I’m also getting ready to shoot a quiet, horror film noire called “The Special,” which stars Damian Maffei [“The Strangers: Prey at Night”] and Sarah French playing the wife. It’s a story that was brought to me by Mark Streensland and James Newman. There’s dark elements, a little bit of revenge and some things you don’t see much of anymore. It also has some great practical make-up effects. I’m very excited about it. 

What would you like people to take away from watching “Death House?”

Gunnar wanted this film to be for his fans. He didn’t care about the critics or a Rotten Tomatoes score. What he wanted was for all the people who came to see him and paid money for his autograph to have something to be excited about. So, look at the crazy creatures that are in the freezer, enjoy Kane Hodder and watch for all the Easter eggs—especially the ending post credits sequence which features the best Easter egg ever. It’s Larry Zerner, who played Shelly in “Friday The 13th: Part 3.” And for people who may not know much about classic horror, hopefully watching “Death House” will make them want to go back and learn more. “Death House” is for the fans, so have fun and enjoy it.

Death House” is available now on Digital, Streaming, DVD and Blu-Ray.

‘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!


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!

‘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.

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


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


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.


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


– 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.