Tag: horror

Director Paul Morrell Discusses Latest Horror/Thriller ‘HUFF’

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

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

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

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

How did the project for HUFF begin?

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

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

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

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

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

Natahsa Alam.

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

Elina Madison.

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

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

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

What was the filming process like?

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

Any funny stories you can remember while filming?

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

What are some of your favorite scenes?

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

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

huff_bbw

What project are you working on now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where was the movie filmed?

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

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

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

What was the chemistry like among the cast?

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

How would you describe 247°F?

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

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

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

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

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

Below Zero: A Chilling Thrill Ride

Below Zero

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

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

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

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

Signe Olynyk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How has the reception been for the film?

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

Michael Berryman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below Zero is available now at Amazon and streaming on NetFlix

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

Actress Kristin Booth Discusses “Below Zero”

Actress Kristin Booth

Actress Kristin Booth is seeing double. The multi-talented and Gemini award-winning actress has dual roles in the horror/thriller “Below Zero”; a film in which she stars alongside Edward Furlong (Terminator 2) and horror legend, Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes).

Written by Signe Olynyk, Below Zero tells the story of ‘Jack The Hack’, a once successful screenwriter who now suffers from a severe case of writers block. In a rather extreme attempt to cure him of his “ailment”, his agent forces him to spend five days in a meat locker to help clear his head. When the temperature drops, the lines between fiction and reality blur as both he and a young mother (Booth) are stalked by a cleaver-wielding psychopath…..or are they?

With exquisite cinematography and multiple story lines that keep you guessing until the very end, Below Zero is a thrill ride from start to finish.

I had the opportunity to speak with Kristin about her Below Zero experience and much more in this exclusive interview!

goJimmygo (gJg): What attracted you most to your role in Below Zero?

Kristin Booth (KB): The idea of playing two characters and the challenge of doing that really interested me and made me want to be a part of the project.

gJg: Are you a big fan of the horror genre?

KB: I am a huge fan! I had never actually been in one before but my best friend and I have rented pretty much every horror movie there is. We just love watching them and getting the crap scared out of us.

gJg: Well, then I have to ask you: What’s your favorite horror movie of all time?

KB: That’s a good question. We both had gone to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre when it was in the theater.  I remember, we ran screaming from the car to the house; that’s how scared we were! It scared the bejeezus out of us.  I’d have to say that film because of the sheer thrill we got out of it.

gJg: You were able to work with one of the real horror legends in Below Zero: Michael Berryman!

KB: Michael really is a horror legend and for me to have the opportunity to work with him was surreal and very exciting. I had seen him in “The Hills Have Eyes”, another movie that scared me; to the point where I had to close my eyes halfway through. <laughs>.

The funny thing about Michael is that you see him in all of these scary movies but in reality, he is the nicest man you’ll ever meet. He loves animals and has lots of great stories.  He used to work security for Bob Dylan. He’s one of those people who’ve seen and done a lot. Being around him was great.

gJg: What was it like working with Eddie Furlong?

KB:  Eddie and I were both actually in the movie “Detroit Rock City”. Even though we didn’t have any scenes together, that was a topic of conversation when we met for the first time. It’s funny how we were both in the same movie but had never met. Sometimes that’s just the nature of the business. I remember we both had different ways of approaching things for this movie, but it was great because the characters we played mirrored that so it worked out well.

Below Zero

gJg: Describe the story of Below Zero.

KB:  It’s a look into the mind of a delusional writer. It’s also a little bit like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book because there are many different ways of looking at it. That’s what makes it so interesting!

gJg: What was your favorite scene?

KB: The cinder block scene was my favorite. I actually couldn’t wait to shoot it, although I’m sure the stunt man was a little nervous about it. <laughs>

gJg: What did you enjoy most about your experience making this movie?

KB: Meeting and working with Signe and Bob (Schultz, Producer). It was a small indie film but they were  both so passionate about it. I like to see people that passionate about their art make their dreams come true.

It was a pleasure to work with them and I hope to get a chance to work with them again in the future.

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

KB: I studied to be a yoga teacher years back so I still dabble in yoga. I’ve also just had my first baby, so I’m knee-deep in mommy duty!

gJg: What projects do you have coming up?

KB: I just finished another indie movie called “Sex After Kids“.  It’s about a group of people who are all in the same boat of either having or trying to have kids and what happens to your sex life after these kids are introduced into the world. It deals with marriage and relationships and the challenges of keeping those relationships fresh.  It’s quite funny, and is actually five-story lines of different couples who interact and share their stories, or nightmares as the case may be. <laughs>.

Article first published as Actress Kristin Booth Discusses Below Zero on Technorati.

Kristin Booth Photo: Jonetsu Photography

PELT: A Conversation with Travis Goodman and Matthew Robinson

When a group of friends decides to go camping in the deep woods, it’s a decision they’ll forever regret.

There’s no better way to describe the story of “PELT”, a Richard Swindell horror film that pays homage to classic slasher films of the 80’s generation.

PELT re-lives the horrific events that took place in Caveland, Kentucky during the summer of 1991. The film is a guilty pleasure; complete with all the blood, promiscuity, recreational drug use and humor that had audiences flocking to theaters when hockey-masked malcontents were all the rage.

I had the chance to speak with Travis Goodman and Matthew Robinson; two of the stars of “PELT”, and get their thoughts on the making of the movie as what the future holds.

Travis Goodman as “Mark”

gJg: What’s the best way to describe “PELT” ?

TG: It’s the stereotypical 80’s slasher flick! That’s the part that was so fun about it. For me, it was like a throw back to my childhood.

gJg: What did you like most about your role as Mark?

TG: When I first started reading the script, I immediately found a lot of things that connected me with the character;  his playfulness was something that was very ME. Mark’s kind of the glue that holds everyone together.  He was the one constant between everyone else in the group, and I think that’s something that’s also very characteristic of myself; he really cared for his friends.

gJg: What was it like working on a horror film with a cast of relative new comers?

TG: I felt really fortunate to be a part of this project. It was low-budget, so I knew that the entire cast and crew were really doing it for the love of making a great movie. When you get people together in that kind of scenario, it always works out for the best. Everyone got along right off the bat.

Travis Goodman

gJg: The campfire scene with you, Ashley (Watkins) and Matthew was one of my favorites.

TG: You know, that was one of my favorite scenes to film. It was the time that I felt the most comfortable on set. A lot of my own personality really started to show through with Mark.

gJg: What’s your favorite horror film of all time?

TG:  That’s a tough category for me. My friend and I always used to watch movies like “Night of the Demons” and “Axe”. I think if I had to choose one, I’d say “Scream”  because I really like what it did for the genre.

gJg: What’s next for you?

TG: I’m continuing to audition. Also, my girlfriend and I are working on two different features right now.

We’re hoping those will start going through by the end of the year. I’m looking forward to that.

Matthew Robinson as “Mike”

Matthew Robinson

goJimmygo (gJg): Matthew, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “PELT”?

Matthew Robinson (MR): It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s also a film that’s better to watch when you’re with friends!

gJg: If you had to describe the story of “PELT”, what’s would you say it’s about?

MR: It’s a story about a group of friends who have a bright idea and decide to go exploring and reap any consequences for it later. Unfortunately for us, there was no later… <laughs>

gJg: What did you like most about your role as Mike?

MR: I liked the fact that my character was the comic relief. I was the one who got to make everyone laugh and keep everything fresh and fun.

gJg: For me, one of the funniest scenes in the entire movie was the part where everything was falling apart and then you discover the porn magazine.

MR: You know, my friends still use that on me! I’ll call them up and they’ll answer the phone and say, “Porn? Gimme that!” <laughs>

gJg: In most of the movie you’re wearing pajamas with little ducks on them. What’s the story behind that?

MR: That actually wasn’t written in the original script. On the drive up to location, Brian Gork (Producer) mentioned about me wearing the duck pajamas in one of the scenes. Everyone was laughing and I said, “Let’s do it!” That was how it first got into the script.

Then later, Brian thought it would be even funnier if I wore the ducky pajamas the entire time I was running!”  I was down for it, and so that’s how the ducky pajamas came about. <laughs>

 

Travis Goodman & Matthew Robinson in “Pelt”

gJg: What did you like the most about this being your first feature film?

MR: I really liked the unity. Everyone in the cast got along so well together. For me, this being my first film, it made me feel comfortable.

gJg: Do you have any hobbies outside of acting?

MR: Recently, I’ve gotten into directing and I’ve done a few videos for up and coming artists, so we’ll see where that takes me.

gJg: Any film projects coming up?

MR: I’m working on an action short film and am also directing a few short films of my own as well. I’ve also just completed production on another feature. It’s a comedy called “The King of Hearts”.

gJg: What has the reception been like for Pelt?

It’s been great. I remember when the movie first hit Netflix, it was kind of a shock to me.  People started coming up and recognizing me. But it’s all been good. As an actor and artist that’s the best.

 Article first published as PELT: A Conversation with Travis Goodman and Matthew Robinson on Technorati.

A Conversation With Actress Sarah Zurell

Sarah Zurell

Louis Pasteur once said, “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity”. You can find no better example of this than in Sarah Zurell.

The young actress, who once broke down during her first audition, quickly overcame her own fear and is now forging her own path in Hollywood.

How ironic that fear would be the subject of Sarah’s first feature film “Pelt”, a Richard Swindell film that pays homage to the classic horror slasher films of the 1980’s.

Sarah plays the role of Debbie, one of seven young friends who take a backpacking excursion deep into the woods and come face to face with ultimate evil.

I had the chance to speak with Sarah and get her thoughts on “Pelt” as well as why there’s no limit to how far she’ll go!

goJimmygo (gJg): What are your first thoughts when you think of Pelt?

Sarah Zurell (SZ): It was a fantastic experience. “Pelt” was actually the first feature film that I had ever worked on. I didn’t even actually live in LA when I was cast for it, but was so excited just to be a part of it.

We filmed for close to a month and stayed in a great cabin while we were filming. Everyone got to really bond closely with each other. It was awesome!

gJg: What attracted you most to the movie?

SZ: The thing that really attracted me was just how warm and awesome Richard and everyone else was in the audition room. It really made the whole experience amazing for me. “Pelt” is also an interesting story and Debbie was such a fun character to play for my first role.

What’s funny is that the story of “Pelt” is about a group of people who have been friends forever and I think over the course of filming, that’s what we all became. It’s one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on!

gJg: Were you always a big fan of horror movies?

SZ: Truth be told, I grew up in a very religious family and wasn’t allowed to watch many horror movies. They always gave me nightmares. It wasn’t until I watched this one all the way through and actually saw how they’re made that I discovered they weren’t really quite as scary as I thought. <laughs>

gJg: Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?

SZ: Entertaining is the only thing I’ve really ever wanted to do. I love performing and acting. I danced from the ages of  3-15 and also performed in school plays. When I was 14, I suffered a dance related injury which gave me the opportunity to audition for a spot in a local theater’s version of “Anne Frank and Me”.

I remember it was my first, really big time audition, but when they called my name I completely freaked out. I just started bawling my eyes out while doing the read; it was horrible. Needless to say, I didn’t get the role. <laughs> But, I didn’t give up.

The next show they had in the spring was “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs”. I went back in, did a great job and was cast as part of the backup ensemble. From there, I began doing show after show and just working my way up.

Eventually, I won best actress of the year at the theater and shortly after college made the move here to LA to make this dream come true. I’m trying to change the world, one movie at a time. <laughs>

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

SZ: I’m pitching a superhero show that I’ve been developing. It’s about a girl who grew up with privilege and decides that she wants to share her wealth and fix problems. So, she goes around town as a superhero trying to solve them. It’s a really cute script.

I’m also in the process of starting a fashion media/marketing company as well with a couple of friends. We’ve been helping our first designer get her dresses in stores and on celebrities for the red carpet. I love to design clothes so that will also be a great outlet for me once we begin to develop a rapport with outlets and designers.

gJg: It sounds like you’re really beginning to live the dream!

SZ: I am. I’m of the mindset of, if you don’t like what you’re doing, you should do something else!

gJg: Is there anything else you like to do outside of acting?

SZ: I love to bake. So much so, that as a child I was actually able to send myself to summer camp by selling cupcakes. My parents didn’t have the money to send us, so my sister and I baked cupcakes and made over $2000 that summer selling them.

I think if you want something you just have to work hard and you can get it. Dreams don’t come true by sitting around and waiting for your fairy godmother to come along. Perseverance and putting in hard work is what it takes!

You can keep up with Sarah Zurell by following her on Twitter: Click Here!

Article first published as A Conversation With Actress Sarah Zurell on Technorati.

A Conversation With Actress Ashley Watkins

Ashley Watkins

Ashley Watkins has arrived. The Hollywood newcomer has already made her mark in the horror genre by playing the lead role in the Richard Swindell film, “Pelt“; her first feature film.

Ashley plays the role of Jenny, a level-headed girl whose instincts are put to the ultimate test when a camping adventure goes horribly wrong.

From the film’s website: Sudden, gory, death, hides behind every bush. When beautiful Jennifer and her friends embark on a backpacking excursion deep into the woods, they come chest to chest with an evil as old as the trees. Listen…above the crackling of the campfire…is that the sound of a twig snapping or your best girlfriend’s neck? The interlopers discover that when the locals warn you not to trespass, it’s a warning you should heed.

I recently spoke with Ashley and discussed her character as well as what she enjoyed the most about her experiences filming “Pelt”.

goJimmygo (gJg): I love your role in this movie. Your character is so dramatic and level-headed.

Ashley Watkins (AW): Thank you! Jenny was the smart one. If they would have listened to her, they would have survived. <laughs>

gJg: How did the role come about for you?

AW: The casting director gave me a call and told me about the audition. She didn’t have much information and the audition was that very night. I almost didn’t go because it was so last minute. But I went in, auditioned and got a call back. To this day, it’s still one of the best shoots I’ve ever been on.

gJg: Did you originally audition for the role of Jenny?

AW: I originally auditioned for the role of Debbie and actually got a call back for that role. Sarah (Zurell) was the original choice for Jenny. During the table read, the two of us along with Richard (Swindell) decided that something just didn’t seem right. So, Sarah and I wound up switching roles and it worked out awesome for both of us.

gJg: What did you like most about playing the role of Jenny?

AW: It was a fantastic role to start off my feature film career with. I am a huge Wes Craven fan and “Scream” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Neve Campbell is one of my inspirations.

This was kind of like that role for me; the lead in a horror film. Jenny is smart and intelligent but she’s not being a superhero; she’s normal.

As a female actress starting out in Hollywood, it’s very rare to find good, strong female roles. Jenny was not only the latter, but intelligent as well. One thing that Richard did great was create all of Pelt’s characters as fighters, including the women.

Nobody just “accidentally” tripped over a log or instantly got killed. Every character went down with a fight!  So, it was great to experience that level of empowerment for the entire cast, and especially as a female. They didn’t just give up or give in!

gJg: What did you like most about making the movie?

AW: I remember how excited I was during pre-production when Richard was explaining his vision of Pelt to me.

Richard is a fan of Judd Apatow and I’m a big Wes Craven fan, so when he said he envisioned it to be a “Scream meets Superbad!” I smiled REALLY big! I knew right off the bat; this was going to be great! It’s a horror cake frosted with comedy!

I’m also a nature freak so for me, getting out of the city was a lot of fun. Then of course, we had such a great cast and crew. We were out in a remote area where there was limited cell phone service and contact with the outside world. 

The location scouting was also amazing. I remember the tower scene, it took us 45 minutes just to get there and pretty much everything you see inside was already there.

gJg: What’s the story of Pelt?

AW: Pelt is the story about seven young friends who go out exploring the uncharted territory of the woods and unfortunately, begin to get knocked off one by one. It quickly becomes the process of survival. For me, it was more of a mind game. It’s a horror story with over the top goriness but also has some funny moments mixed in as well.

gJg: Were you always involved in the arts while growing up?

AW: I figure skated competitively & danced here and there for many years during my childhood. I then transitioned fairly easily into dance during college because of my skating background. When I moved to LA, I started with a few small dancing gigs, which eventually lead into a full professional dance career. 

I have been blessed to make a living as a dancer for the past three years, while pursuing acting. I get paid to work out and enjoy losing myself in the moment to music!

gJg: You’ve also done some TV work as well. What would you say are the differences between filming a feature like “Pelt” as opposed to “Entourage”?

AW: It’s cool to be on set for television, but unless you’ve got a specific role, it’s only a one day taping. For Entourage, I was a featured dancer. As far as films go, you become more like a family when you make them. You develop as a character, as an actress and a person.  But most of all, as is the case with Pelt, you also make great friends for life!

Article first published as A Conversation With Actress Ashley Watkins on Technorati.


CUT! : A Conversation With Filmmaker David Banks

David Banks – Actor, Writer, Producer

David Banks is forging his own path. The actor, known mostly for his comedic side, isn’t one to sit idle and let opportunity pass by.

Instead of just waiting for roles and auditions to come along David, together with longtime friend David Rountree, decided to take a more “aggressive” approach. The team wrote and developed “CUT!”, an upcoming horror film with a unique storyline.

While indirectly paying homage to the original “The Hills Have Eyes” movie by casting Suze Lanier-Bramlett and Gabrielle Stone (the daughter of legendary actress Dee Wallace); Banks and Rountree have also created a horror film within a horror film.

With a release date of Halloween 2012, it seems likely that the stars are aligned for a new horror classic!

I had the chance to speak with David Banks and get his thoughts on the movie and why it’s so unique.

gJg: Is CUT! the first collaboration for you and David Rountree (Actor/Director)?

DB: David and I have actually been friends for a long time and we’ve written quite a lot of comedy based stories together. CUT! is the first time we’ve collaborated on a genre outside of comedy.

gJg: What’s the current status of the film?

DB: With the film near complete, we are beginning to shift our focus toward getting a trailer for the fans to see. Our film is tentatively scheduled for a Halloween release and we’re really excited about it!

We were looking for the ideal person to “cut” a trailer for us that would really convey our film best, and put it to life, and we found gold with Ryan Thompson from Britain! We were searching YouTube late one night for hours and came across this guy, wrote him and told him we were instantly a fan and could he work his magic. It was a real blessing to find him.

gJg: What made you decide to write a horror movie like CUT!?

It always sparks my interest to see that something is “based upon true events.” That adds an immediate element of realism and credibility to a story. One of our biggest complaints; however, is that with traditional horror movies, they don’t quite grasp that natural element of being as raw as what the real thing may be. We’ve all seen those moments where we stop and say “Aww come on, that would never happen!”

For CUT!, we decided to play on that fact by having a horror movie within a horror movie. Two people actually decide to kill people for real and capture it on film, yet market it as a film with just great raw acting.

gJg: You and David both wear multiple hats in this movie (acting, producing, writing, directing). Why did you decide to go that route?

DB: A casting director once told me something very interesting. She said, actors can always wait around for the right role and audition to come along, but what better way to shine then to do your own thing. Write your own project that’s catered to you and do it as only you can do. For us, CUT! is the end result of that.

gJg: What was the casting process like?:

DB: The whole casting process wasn’t your typical one where we held auditions. We didn’t want to do that. What we did was find really great talent who can deliver. People like Sam Scarber, William McNamara and Dahlia Salem.

Gabrielle Stone & David Banks

We also found out about this “new” girl: Gabrielle Stone. We already knew about her Mom from “The Hills Have Eyes” and “ET” but when she sent her reel over we were completely blown away.

She was so good and I remember telling David right then and there: “We need to get her, RIGHT NOW!” She’s going to be huge someday!



gJg: You also have another “Hills Have Eyes” connection with Suze Lanier-Bramlett!

DB: Suze is amazing. We were always a big fan of hers and the original film. It just so happens that David and I both share the same manager (Eileen O’Farrell) as she does so it really worked out for us!

gJg: Tell me about you character, Lane Hayes and the CUT! story:

My character, Lane Hayes, is an ex con with an addiction to drugs and violent tendencies towards women. Rountree plays Travis Simon, a guy who spent years in film school trying to become a director, but has only managed to find work renting out equipment to other filmmakers.

With access to everything we need to make a movie, the idea is born to just scare people and capture the footage. However, something goes horribly wrong and the first person in this attempt is killed for real.

After reviewing the video to help cover our tracks, it is decided that we have such shock value in the real kill, that maybe that is what we need to do. The story takes off from that point as every gut wrenching authentic death “scene” is captured on film and I do all the dirty work.

gJg: What’s next for you?

DB: David and I have another project we wrote called “Mr. Reality”. That’s going to be a lot of fun and we’ve already got people in mind for casting.

When David and I get together and write, good things happen.

 

Article first published as CUT!: A Conversation With Filmmaker David Banks on Technorati.

A Conversation With Actress Marie Bollinger

Marie Bollinger

It’s not often you come across someone as cool as Marie Bollinger, an actress making her mark on the Hollywood scene in commercials and movies like “Pelt” and the soon to be released suspense/thriller: “HUFF“.

Marie is an adventurous powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. One look at her video reel shows that she can play a multitude of roles.

From scream queen to dramatic actress to comedy she’s the total package. Did I also mention she’s cool?

My first encounter with Marie was from her role as the voyeuristic Jessica in “Pelt”, a Richard Swindell film that pays homage to the classic camper/serial killer movies of the 1980’s. Marie was fantastic as the promiscuous camper who winds up getting captured, caged and, well you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

Marie’s latest role is that of Brixi in the Paul Morrell directed film “HUFF”, a twisted take on the classic story of “The Three Little Pigs” which also stars former “Bachelor” Charlie O’Connell, scream queen Elina Madison, Elly Stefanko and Jenna Stone.

“HUFF” was recently screened to an enthusiastic crowd at the Texas Frightmare Weekend and received rave reviews from hardcore horror fans. With an official release scheduled for September, Marie’s star is certain to rise to new heights.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Marie and discussing her roles in both “HUFF” and “Pelt”. In addition to being a phenomenal actress, I also discovered that Marie has amazing athletic prowess, an interesting musical hobby and an awesome sense of adventure.

Yeah, she’s cool.

goJimmygo (gJg): Marie! It’s so great to speak with you!

Marie Bollinger (MB): Yeah! Same here!

gJg: Was the “HUFF” screening at Texas Frightmare Weekend your first experience at a horror convention?

MB: Yes it was. It was the first time I’ve been to any convention actually. It was something I’ve never experienced before and it was amazing! I couldn’t believe how many horror fans were there. They’re so loyal. Texas Frightmare was really a great place to premiere the film.

I remember at one point meeting a guy who told me that it was his sixth time coming. He said he keeps coming back to them because he likes meeting the film makers and hanging with friends watching films. Everyone there just shares their love of the genre together. It’s pretty cool.

gJg: What was the screening like for “HUFF”?

MB: It was awesome! There was such a great turn out and most of the cast was there too which made it even better. I actually sat next to Elly and Jenna and we watched the completed film together for the very first time.

gJg: When is “HUFF” going to be released for the rest of us?

MB: We’re being told sometime in September. That’s what we’re shooting for.

gJg: How did you the role of Brixi come about for you?

MB: I actually landed the role in part from a movie I had done previously called “Pelt”.

A mutual friend had introduced me to Paul Morrell (the director of “HUFF”). Paul had seen “Pelt” and liked my performance. He found me through Facebook and called me in to audition for the role of Brixi.

gJg: How did it go?:

MB: I remember the first audition went really well. But after the callback I remember walking out thinking I had just blown it. I went home down on myself. And then on 11-11-11, of all dates, Paul called me up and offered me the part. <laughs>

gJg: What’s the premise of “HUFF”?

MB: It’s actually a really twisted take on the story of “The Three Little Pigs”. There’s an abusive step father, Huff (Charlie O’Connell) and a selfish mother, Lorelei (Elina Madison) who is blind to what is going on between her daughters and Huff.

My character, Brixi knows that she has to get out of the situation and ends up taking on the role of martyr in order to protect her sisters Shay (Elly Stefanko) and Styx (Jenna Stone).

Meanwhile, Lorelei takes Huff’s drug money and gives it to us to start new lives. That’s when Huff comes after us and the real horror element of the film begins. Up until that point the movie is more of a thriller.

So we run off and without giving too much away, let’s just say we make some decisions that got the crowd going at Texas Frightmare. <laughs>

gJg: What was it like working with Elina Madison?

MB: Elina is awesome! I’ve known her from seeing her at some of the commercial auditions I’ve been to. It wasn’t until later that I discovered she had this extensive resume of horror which was very cool.

I remember her coming to the table read and just laying all of her cards on the table right away. She just told everyone that she was going to do her own thing and for us to not be offended if she went off by herself. She was that focused on the story. I respect that. She was very professional.

gJg: I have to ask you this important question: Did you know that Charlie O’Connell (Huff) was “The Bachelor”?

MB: I honestly didn’t. I had never watched “The Bachelor” before and had to look it up. I went in blindly so I really didn’t really know anyone. <laughs>

gJg: Any interesting stories you remember while filming the movie?

MB: Well, I actually lived on the set pretty much. We were offered places to stay while we were filming but I didn’t want to drive so I just decided to stay on location. Our casting director, Meg Hairell, didn’t feel comfortable with me staying there by myself so she stayed there too.

I remember having to wake up every morning before anyone, even if I wasn’t due on the set, because the makeup room also doubled as my bedroom.

If I wasn’t shooting I was often napping. Meg has a whole collection of photos showcasing my skills of being able to nap anywhere but mostly curled up in a corner of the room. <laughs>

It was a creepy place because it was next to a burial ground and people had said they saw ghosts walking around on the property. I was really hoping for something scary to happen but nothing did.

gJg: Having now seen the movie, what do you like most about it?

MB: I think the fact that there was a subtle comedic element to it. Some of my favorite horror movies all have a little bit of comedy in it. It’s not always obvious but it’s there. Charlie really brought some awesome comedic elements to it. I was surprised at how well the sprinkle of comedy worked. It’s all so subtle, yet also real.

Pelt

gJg: What was your experience like filming “Pelt”?

MB: “Pelt” was a really fun shoot. I remember we all stayed in this great cabin-like hotel and really bonded together. It was great fun.

Here’s an interesting story:

One of my favorite movies from a few years ago was a film called “The Signal”. I remember that there was this guy in the movie who I thought was absolutely phenomenal but I didn’t know who he was.

Justin Welborn (who plays Jon in “Pelt”) and I became good friends during filming. After we had completed shooting the two of us were hanging out together and he asked me to check out this movie he had made: “The Signal”.

I was like: “No way, that’s YOU??” I had just gotten done working with him and had no idea that he was in one of my favorite movies, which says a lot about his ability to transform as an actor. He’s a chameleon of sorts. <laughs>

gJg: I found “Pelt” to be just like some of the other horror movies I loved watching during the 80’s. The “Friday the 13th” types with the over the top kills, the promiscuous ladies, the funny one-liners at the “wrong” time….

MB: Exactly! It’s supposed to be fun!

I remember being at the table read and Richard Swindell (director and a really cool dude) told us: “I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Let’s just have fun. It will be a great experience.”  And he was right, it was.

gJg: I remember reading where Richard said he knew a joke was going to work in “Pelt” if it made you laugh during the table reading.

MB: Yeah, I have a sense of humor of a 12 year-old boy and so does Richard. It was a blast. <laughs>

Acting:

gJg: When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?

MB: I think it was when I was in elementary school. I remember being involved in a poetry contest and at the time just thinking to myself that acting was something I really wanted to do.

I had always been involved in plays and drama during school but I was also an athlete. I won State my senior year in the high-jump and went to college on a scholarship. Being an athlete was a big part of my life.

I graduated college with a BFA in Electronic Media but was never brave enough to take that first step and do what I really wanted to do. Then one day my father, who always knew I had the desire to act, told me to just go for it. So I did. I moved to LA and immediately started booking commercials.

gJg: I was watching your video reels and saw your sky diving adventure. What was that experience like?

MB: It was such a great experience. For one second, and quite possibly the longest second of my life, I literally thought I was going to die. But once I realized that I was actually just free-falling, it was awesome! I love stuff like that: heights, being scared, adventure.

gJg: What do you like to do in your spare time?

MB: One of the things I like to do is collect vinyl record albums. I have a lot of classics like David Bowie, Brian Eno, Phil Collins, Patti Smith, Billy Joel. A lot of punk rock from the 70’s. Some garage rock from the 50’s and 60’s. Just a wide range of music.

I’m actually going through a big Leonard Cohen/Patti Smith phase right now. I think if I could have been born in another time it would have been the 60’s.

gJg: What’s projects do you have coming up?

MB: I have a couple of short films in the works along with a feature film called “Listening”.  It’s a story of two broke college grad students who invent mind-reading technology. If it gets into the wrong hands, well then it may just be the end of free will.  I play a brainy vixen in this one.

It’s a fantastic screenplay and I’m very excited about it! 

 

Article first published as A Conversation With Actress Marie Bollinger on Technorati.