Monday, November 30, 2015

Exclusive Interview: Actor Robin Ward on the ‘Lost’ Frankenstein Flick ‘DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS’!

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Exclusive Interview: Actor Robin Ward on the ‘Lost’ Frankenstein Flick ‘DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS’!



SHOCK tracks down actor Robin Ward to reflect on the ultra-obscure 1970 psychedelic horror film, DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS.

With the unfortunate VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN setting new highs for low box office openings (shame, really as the movie is really rather good) we decided to assume the role of the good Dr. Frankenstein. ourselves, sifting not into the soft dirt for corpses, but rather digging deep into horror’s maniacal past to find a film that time has seemingly forgot…

Indeed, a mere week or so before VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN saw release, SHOCK decided to stick our tongue deep into cheek and roll out a list of 5 Frankenstein films that failed to make the grade or effectively trade on the visions birthed during that fateful ‘haunted summer’ by Mary Shelley and her famous kinky friends. Sitting at number 3 on that list was the ‘lost’ Canadian psychedelic horror romp DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS, a totally daft 1970 melodrama about mad science, substances, sex and silliness that was in fact the first film funded by the Canadian government!

Free healthcare AND z-grade horror movies financed by tax dollars. Aint Canada grand?

Originally titled FLICK (we know this because the word FLICK remains on the bottom corner of the screen for the entire opening of the picture), DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS stars future Canadian TV weatherman Robin Ward as a young Baron Frankenstein, blacklisted from his native Austria and hiding out as a student at the University of Toronto. There, he conducts brain experiments on cats and dogs and has weird psychedelic sex with his comely girlfriend before launching a reign of terror on his classmates and the faculty. Oddly, the similarities between this and RE-ANIMATOR are interesting (and almost certainly accidental).


Briefly released theatrically in the US under its “FRANKENSTEIN” handle on a double bill with the skeezy NIGHT OF THE WITCHES, director Gilbert W. Taylor’s mad movie appeared occasionally on Canadian television but otherwise is about as obscure a horror film as you’re likely to (not) find. And while it’s not a great Frankenstein film, it is just so insane, so bizarre and so…so…Canadian, that watching it truly is a singular experience.

Ward is well known in Canada for his stint as a weatherman on National network CTV but he has had a long and interesting career in Canadian film and television including prominent roles in a slew of interesting genre projects like the noted Sci-Fi series THE STARLOST creepy “twinsanity” thriller MARK OF CAIN and SAW II; he even once channeled Rod Serling, serving as the narrator of the third season of the 1980’s revamp of THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

After penning that piece, the spirit moved me enough to make an effort to locate Ward and, with a little bit of effort, I did. The actor is currently in rehearsals for a new play but spared us some moments to chat about his stint making cinema’s strangest Frankie “flick”: DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS.

SHOCK: It’s rather amusing to think that DR. FRANKENTSEIN ON CAMPUS was funded by the Government, especially since it deals with mind control….

WARD: Yes the film was the first to get CFDC (Canadian Film Development Corporation) backing, which I think was ultimately a mistake because it set a doubtful tone. Because DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS was of course a ‘B’ horror film and would not normally have received the scrutiny or the reviews or respect that a pioneer CFDC project would and should have inspired. Consequently it was castigated by all and sundry…

SHOCK: How did you end up in the film?

WARD: I can’t remember how I got the role, whether I auditioned or just met the director. I was quite inexperienced as an actor, but I guess my work at the time suggested something that wasn’t quite real, hence my suitability for the role, perhaps?

SHOCK: The film opens with you fencing in Austria. Where were these sequences shot?

WARD: The Austrian scenes were all shot in and around Toronto, with the Scarborough bluffs substituting for the Alps!


SHOCK: It’s a demented film, truly. Was it always supposed to be sold as a horror movie?

WARD: God knows what the film was supposed to be! None of us really knew. I guess it was a horror film. It was certainly horrible.

SHOCK: Why did they change the title?

WARD: At some point it went from FLICK to DR. FRANK…I think they thought FLICK was too ironic and artsy. It got a limited release in the theaters, but went on to become a cult favorite on university campuses where it’s previously undetected satirical aspects were much appreciated.


SHOCK: The film is an extra curio in that noted Canadian rock band Lighthouse is the house band in the movie! Did you get to hang out with them?

WARD: We did see members of Lighthouse occasionally, especially Paul and Skip, who sometimes appeared during the shoot.

SHOCK: Any funny stories to tell from the shoot?

WARD: Well, I was supposed to wear an electroencephalogram on my head which they jerry-built from masking tape and which reduced the cast to tears of helpless laughter when they saw it perched on my head like an inverted jock strap. I remember we did take after take on a scene that had me wearing it because we kept breaking up.

SHOCK: What do you think of the movie now?

WARD: I haven’t seen the movie for decades. Years of therapy had almost erased it from my memory till you reminded me of its existence. As I said the film did have a kind of cult following and I sometimes am recognized for my part in creating one of the silliest films ever made. An honor I am not worthy of. It was a lot of fun to make; I think I laughed a lot during the film…especially during some of the actual takes when I wasn’t supposed to. Now it’s back to the shrink, I guess…

Here’s hoping that someone, somewhere puts some effort into making DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS available to strange cinema enthusiasts everywhere. It most certainly is a film that needs to be seen. And, once seen, I promise you…it cannot be unseen!

The post Exclusive Interview: Actor Robin Ward on the ‘Lost’ Frankenstein Flick ‘DR. FRANKENSTEIN ON CAMPUS’! appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Toronto! Acclaimed Hitchcock Documentary to Open at TIFF Bell Lightbox

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Toronto! Acclaimed Hitchcock Documentary to Open at TIFF Bell Lightbox



Celebrated documentary about monumental meeting HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT to open in Toronto.

The legendary, week long series of interviews conducted by French New Wave founder Francois Truffaut and iconic Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock in 1962 is the subject of Kent (VAL LEWTON: THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS) Jones’ acclaimed new documentary HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT. Now, after its festival run at both Cannes and TIFF, the film is set to open on December 4th at the beautiful TIFF Bell Lightbox film center in Toronto.

Screen Daily has called the film, which features heavy-hitting filmmaking talent like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Peter Bogdanovich, Paul Schrader and many others, “a little slice of film buff-heaven,” while Esquire noted it “will thrill you and change the way you watch movies.”

Using the original recordings from the Hitchcock sessions, HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT is a cinematic depiction of that most cinematic of conversations, the likes of which were published as a book that helped shape film history and elevated Hitchcock’s reputation from craftsman to auteur.

For more on showtimes and ticket sales visit the the official TIFF site.

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SHOCK dissects the first and best adaptation of Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH.

Dr. Robert Morgan is not a well man. A mysterious airborne, plague-bearing dust storm has smothered the world, killing every man, woman and child and reviving them as sluggish, dull witted and eternally ravenous vampires. And yet, somehow, someway, Morgan has remained immune, completely unscathed…well, physically, anyway. He lives his life like a machine, by day rising early, clearing the streets of comatose, emaciated ghouls and throwing their barely living bodies into an eternally burning tar pit, tracking the sleeping stronger ones to their lairs and driving his specially made stakes through their hearts.

But by night, when the sun sinks below the horizon, the fanged echoes of mankind come-a-crawling out of their hiding spots, stumbling towards Morgan’s garlic and mirror fortified bungalow, clawing at his windows, screaming for his flesh and his blood. Such nerve shredding conditions might drive a weaker man to madness but, though he skirts insanity often, Morgan instead opts to play his jazz records loud, pour scotch, crawl into bed, squish a pillow against his head and wait, always wait, for the break of day when he’ll get up and start the horrible cycle all over again. Unbeknownst to Morgan however, he’s being watched by something other than the monsters, something that views him as an even bigger threat than the red-eyed viral vampires themselves.


This is the story charted in directors Sidney Salkow and Ubaldo Ragona’s 1964 Vincent Price vehicle THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, the first (and to date, best) stab at adapting influential dark fantasy author Richard Matheson’s still blistering existential 1954 vampire novella I AM LEGEND to screen. Written, then disowned, by the notoriously cranky author, the low budget Robert Lippert (THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING) Italian/US co-production had often been dismissed as a failed attempt to capture the psyche-destroying , bloodsucker-staking exploits of Matheson’s eternally put upon virus survivor, Robert Neville. Thankfully, that perception has changed through the years. Because although it inexplicably changes its hero’s name from Neville to Morgan, and tweaks the ending somewhat, it otherwise seldom strays from the novella’s narrative and perfectly captures it’s bleaker than bleak tone, downbeat mood and broken heart.

The history of I AM LEGEND and its checkered journey to screen is rather fascinating. Matheson’s gripping, intelligent and horrifying novella became a hit in sci-fi /dark fantasy/pulp fiction circles upon release, eventually landing squarely on the radar of fledgling UK studio Hammer Films. The lads at Hammer commissioned Matheson to self-adapt a screenplay, which he did, reportedly brilliantly and faithfully from a straightforward text that almost read like a script to begin with. But, when the British censor skimmed that script, they were disgusted, promising that the downbeat, violent and depressing film would never, ever get passed. Hammer, still in their relative infancy, were terrified of the all- powerful board and released Matheson from his contract, his screenplay left untouched and un-filmed.

The property floated around for years before American born, British based B-movie producer Robert Lippert got his mitts on it, finally inking an Italian co-production deal, oddly altering the script, hiring a fresh from Roger Corman-ville Vincent Price to play the lead and shooting the whole affair on a shoestring in Rome. When Matheson heard of the changes and rewrites to his script, and the casting of the larger than life Price as his reluctant working class hero Robert Neville, he balked and demanded his name be removed from the credits, instead sticking his often used pseudonym Logan Swanson on the final print. The movie was dumped into drive-ins, dismissed by critics and almost completely forgotten.

Title: LAST MAN ON EARTH, THE (1963) ¥ Pers: PRICE, VINCENT ¥ Year: 1963 ¥ Dir: SALKOW, SIDNEY ¥ Ref: LAS111AB ¥ Credit: [ THE KOBAL COLLECTION / AIP ]

But what makes THE LAST MAN ON EARTH the superior cinematic vision of Matheson’s somber, frightening text is the profound way it handles Morgan/Neville’s search for grim purpose. His is a life pushed to the brink and beyond and yet, as his heroic, defiant nature dictates, he fights back; through his terrifying nights, his blood-drenched days and his bittersweet dawns, Morgan refuses to succumb to his hopeless situation, refuses to even abandon his ramshackle bungalow. He becomes a kind of lone wolf, a vigilante, and then a kind of prophet, finally a martyr but always he’s a caretaker, one whose life’s work is to dispose of the sub-human monsters that have insidiously infested what was once a bright and beautiful world and have so cruelly cannibalized any fond memories he may have once had anything resembling a happy life. And though they come to scrape at his windows like clockwork and though the rotting females pout and slink in a vulgar attempt to arouse him, he accepts the vampires, he adapts. To quote Matheson from an interview I conducted with him many years ago, it’s the ultimate “portrait of an everyday Joe confronted with the arcane and emerging somewhat triumphant.”


Even more resonant is the fact that THE LAST MAN ON EARTH retains the absolutely pivotal character of Ben Cortman (though Anthony Zerbe’s mentally unbalanced mutant albino cult leader Mathias in the second and strangest version of the story, THE OMEGA MAN, is certainly a loose variation on him). If you’ve read the novel, you’ll recall that Ben Cortman was a friend, neighbor and colleague to Robert Neville who, post plague, became his chief vampiric adversary. Along with his tireless pack of drooling undead, Cortman is really Neville’s perverted connection to his former humanity, a distorted nightmare logic vision of the man he once was. Over the span of time that the action in Matheson’s story unfolds in, the presence of Ben Cortman is both horrific and hopeful, distilling our hero’s misery and re-focusing it as anger, as a need, a divine mission to kill Cortman, a desire that almost single-handedly saves him from suicide. Cortman is in essence Neville’s ‘El Dorado’ his quest, his reason for waking, yet the kind of quest in which the searcher secretly pines to never complete, lest he be left with nothing to chase. LAST MAN keeps this disturbing dichotomy and mutually corrosive relationship wholly intact. In flashback, the film shows Ben Cortman (here played by Giacomo Rossi-Stuart from Mario Bava’s KILL BABY, KILL) and Morgan socializing at their children’s birthday parties, then trying to develop a cure for the plague, before finally emerging as otherworldly enemies, as a constantly reversing of the hunter/prey dynamic.

It’s a crucial narrative element that’s deftly handled and is both appropriately unsettling and almost overwhelmingly tragic.


Just as beautifully rendered are the final days in the lives of Morgan’s wife and daughter. As the rapidly disintegrating government insists on incineration of the deceased plague victims remains, Morgan, in a temporary fit of unbearable grief and searing madness, goes after the federal body burners in a vain attempt to rescue his little girl’s corpse from the fire. When he returns home, morally beaten and empty handed to find his wife dead, he takes her corpse to a nearby field for a proper burial. Later that night, while Morgan reclines in a chair and waits for the inevitable, a la ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, his spouses’ now gurgled voice chants ‘Robert, Robert…”, her unseen dirty and bloodless hands twisting the door handle, as she grins and moves in to give her still living husband the kiss of death.

And what of poor Vincent Price, the chief reason Richard Matheson turned up his nose at the film to begin with? How does this hammy, wonderfully theatrical icon of horror fare as the haunted, tortured last living man on the planet? In the context of the film, fucking great, I’d say. Price’s hangdog, wounded face and melancholy internal monologue voice-overs are amazing and, if not quite the blue collar Neville of the book, his Robert Morgan is never anything but believable and sympathetic.


Ultimately however, the three (four if you count Romero’s 1968 self-proclaimed LEGEND rip off NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) filmed versions of Matheson’s soul-destroying masterwork fail to translate his unpretentious majesty verbatim, but really why would you want them too? Movies are dreams. They should be visions of their inspirations, not duplicates. I love THE OMEGA MAN for its bombast, its 70’s action movie bravado, affecting Charlton Heston performance, its then topical sexual/racial politics and of course, that brilliant Ron Grainer score. I really like the 2007 Will Smith version for its haunting urban decay tableaux, its wrenching isolation and magnification of the heart sinking Neville/dog incident and relentlessly sad tone (though the film falls apart in the final reel). But thus far, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH is the only one that has managed to exist as an aggressively depressing and lyrical nightmare, taking all that was profound and painful in the source text and re-presenting it as a low-budget but evocative and funereal slice of semi-cerebral pulp.

Flawed but unforgettable, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH deserves multiple viewings and a secure place in the annals of classic horror cinema. The recent inclusion of the film in Scream Factory’s second Blu-ray Vincent Price Collection means you can see this once though lost to the public domain gem in glorious high-def and the commentary on that release by horror historian (and SHOCK scribe) David Del Valle is marvelous.

If you haven’t seen it…see it. Soon. And to the late, great Richard Matheson, wherever you are….thanks man.

The post The ‘Legend’ of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sculptor Bryan Moore To Give Bram Stoker the Bronze Treatment

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Sculptor Bryan Moore To Give Bram Stoker the Bronze Treatment

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Noted artist to tackle new Bram Stoker bust project.

Celebrated master sculptor Bryan Moore made a splash a few years back with his stunning bronze bust of iconic dark fantasy scribe H.P. Lovecraft and later, of Gothic godfather Edgar Allan Poe. Now Moore is about to mold another master of horror, that of DRACULA author Bram Stoker.

Says Moore:

“The character of Count Dracula embodies what we’d all like to be: sexy, immortal, wise from centuries of lost l’amour, status hard won and enduring to the last. The undead Count represents everything timeless and deathless that never goes out of style throughout the romantic ages.”

With this latest bust, Moore will continue the trend of casting the statue in the city of his subject’s birth, in this case Dublin, Ireland.

“Fans across the globe helped me to place busts of Lovecraft in Providence, Rhode Island and Poe to Boston, Massachusetts. It seemed only fitting that Bram Stoker should return to the Emerald Isle and will be donated to the Dublin Writers Museum in Parnell Square.”

“Placing a bust of Stoker here puts emphasis not only on his personality but also on his nationality” said Robert Nicholson, Curator of the Dublin Writers Museum. “Being born and bred a Dubliner was just as important to Stoker’s genius as it was to that of his contemporary and acquaintance, Oscar Wilde, and to many other writers born here on the cultural fault line.”

Joining Moore in his literary quest of honoring Stoker is no less than Bram’s great grand-nephew Dacre Stoker, who manages the Estate of Bram Stoker as well as co-author of both the sequel to DRACULA entitled DRACULA: THE UNDEAD.

“The Bram Stoker Estate is very pleased to endorse the Bram Stoker Bronze Bust Project. The Stoker family would ultimately like to see a statue of Bram displayed in a prominent location in Dublin. A bronze bust is certainly a fitting tribute and this effort by Bryan Moore is to be commended and is worthy of our family’s support.”

Also on board is noted DRACULA scholar, author and filmmaker David J. Skal, whose book HOLLYWOOD GOTHIC: THE TANGLED WEB OF DRACULA FROM NOVEL TO SCREEN paved the way for his much anticipated biography, SOMETHING IN THE BLOOD: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BRAM STOKER, to be published by Liveright next year.

As with the Lovecraft and Poe projects, Moore will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the costs of the bust as well as personally making a financial donation to Children’s Books Ireland, a local organization that promotes children’s literacy.

“It’s an incredible amount of work for many months to plan and launch these bust projects with the project team, but also incredibly rewarding” says Moore. “So many fellow fans from across the world rally to the cause and help me turn this vision into a reality, which is to celebrate these legendary authors of works that mean so much to the public consciousness and to pop culture. It’s about time that the authors of these classics of horror literature were seen as legitimate scribes of something really special that never becomes dated. Horror will outlast us all.”

The post Sculptor Bryan Moore To Give Bram Stoker the Bronze Treatment appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: KRAMPUS

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Graphic Novel Review: KRAMPUS



SHOCK looks at the graphic novel companion to Michael Dougherty’s upcoming chiller KRAMPUS.

With Thanksgiving over and Christmas on its way like an unstoppable monsoon of ugly sweaters and eggnog, movie-goers are being treated to a selection of seasonal films to set them in the mood for the coming of ol’ St. Nick. Among the feel-good comedies and feel-good dramas is a new arrival on the market, KRAMPUS. A holiday tale of horror, KRAMPUS promises to show the dark side of our merry revilement, or lack there-of, as a family trapped in their house learn after a snow storm soon gets a visit from the grimmest version of Santa Clause, one with hooves and a bag full of tricks. Thanks to the films production company Legendary Films recent interest in the comic business, Christmas is coming a bit early this year with the recent release of the KRAMPUS graphic novel.

The comic presents three new stories set on the same night as the movie. While our film family is battling KRAMPUS in their house, the town outside is also battling the creature in its own way. The first story focuses on a mall Santa who has pretty much given up on everything but the bottle, but once the storm brings the first sign of KRAMPUS’s evil elves, he takes up arms and joins the fight. But will his change of heart be enough to save him from the creature’s evil present bag? The second tale is about a cop who had never gotten over the death of her sister and her vigilance has kept away from her family for years. After picking up a robber who was Grinching presents from families in the neighborhood, they soon find themselves face-to-face with a town full of monsters and a secret that the two share. The final yarn spins its own version on A Christmas Carol as a penny pinching billionaire takes a trip down the path of his greed.

KRAMPUS is not only helmed by KRAMPUS director Michael Dougherty of TRICK ‘R’ TREAT fame, but many of the writers and artists that he used for the TRICK ‘R’ TREAT comic make a returning appearance. It’s fun to see the artists who have worked on his previous stuff come back for a second round and those who were fans of the TRICK ‘R’ TREAT comic that came out a couple months ago can expect a lot of the same quality. The only drawback is since this comic is out before the movie, it sets the standard for what to expect in the film where with TRICK ‘R’ TREAT, it’s the other way, so it’s easier to find flaws in the KRAMPUS comic instead of thinking of it as an extension of the movie universe (and cutting it some slack). An example would obviously be the stories in this collection came off as a mixed bag. The first two were fun and original, if not unexpectedly dark, but the third simply came off as another re-telling of the same Dickens story that has been told a hundred times. Perhaps in the context of the movie, it all makes sense, but without the source material it comes off as a bit trite and unnecessary. Maybe if the two were released at the same time, the comic work would seem more complete.

The art was very similar to the stories where the first two shorts seemed to have the luck of the draw while the final piece came off as a bizarre ode to late nineties, graffiti style, ‘attitude’ art with cut corners and unfinished background pieces. Its predecessors had a very solid look, especially with the drunk Santa tale presenting fantastically dark line work by Christian Dibari. The last one seemed barely inked, but the facial expressions were spot on and the action scenes turned everyday situations into acrobatic feats.

Either way, this is a fun work for those who hunger for a little twisted morality with their Christmas stockings and, with less than a week until the movie hits theaters, it’s a great way to prepare for the blood-filled holidays!

The post Graphic Novel Review: KRAMPUS appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Exclusive Photos From Buffalo Indie Flick DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN VS. THE CANNIBAL COP

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Exclusive Photos From Buffalo Indie Flick DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN VS. THE CANNIBAL COP



SHOCK chows down on exclusive pics from indie horror/comedy DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN Vs. THE CANNIBAL COP.

Buffalo based filmmaker and funnyman John Renna’s new microbudget comedy/action/horror flick DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN VS. THE CANNIBAL COP is currently chomping through festivals and public screenings as we speak and SHOCK has a few exclusive pics to share.

The film stars Renna (who wrote and directed) and fellow Buffalo, NY indie film personality Sam Qualiana as a pair of bumbling cops (the movie also stars Indie film legend Debbie Rochon, pictured above) who are assigned to bring down a rogue cop who is kidnapping and eating young women across Western New York. It’s like an old Monogram picture, with goofy gags bashing up against somber – and in this case gory and explicit – scenes of shock and it’s tons of fun. And, believe it or not…it’s based on a true story!

Feast on the fotos and trailer below and be sure to visit the CANNIBAL COP official Facebook page.

The post Exclusive Photos From Buffalo Indie Flick DICK JOHNSON & TOMMY GUN VS. THE CANNIBAL COP appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Remember When Siskel & Ebert Reviewed JAWS: THE REVENGE?

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Remember When Siskel & Ebert Reviewed JAWS: THE REVENGE?


Ebert1 SHOCK grabs another classic clip of critics Siskel & Ebert reviewing horror films.

As part of our ongoing series digging up vintage clips of lamented critics Siskel & Ebert making sport of horror and dark fantasy films on their long-running, now defunct TV series AT THE MOVIES.

Both critics were often very fair and astute with their assessments of contemporary cinema and certainly, their impact on the art of film criticism (such as it is) cannot be properly measured.

But when they hated something, they used it as fodder for a kind of Statler and Waldorf-esque roasting routine. And while often amusing, horror fans rightfully recoiled at seeing entertainments they adored so casually dismissed.

Now that said, sometimes, just sometimes…their genre jeering was the money.

Witness their attack on Joseph (NIGHTMARES) Sargent’s universally lambasted sequel JAWS: THE REVENGE, the fourth – and to date, last – installment of the man (or woman) vs. shark series that started with director Steven Spielberg’s first masterpiece, 1975’s immaculate JAWS.

1978’s JAWS 2 was a well-produced, well-acted but often tedious and shallow attempt to duplicate the energy of the original. The Richard Matheson co-scripted JAWS 3D was ludicrous but at least it tried to do something different.

JAWS: THE REVENGE, however, is an anomaly; a film that carries over characters from the series, which are based in reality, only to trash the soul of the series by tacking on a quasi-supernatural angle wherein the long-shark-suffering Brody family seem to have been targeted by a dynasty of sharks, with one of the fuckers even following the matriarch of the family from Amity to the Bahamas to finish off the bloodline!

Throw in Michael Caine collecting a paycheck and Mario Van Peebles with a distracting accent plus shark FX that are massive steps down from the already troubled 1975 incarnation of Bruce and you have one of the most ridiculed films of the 1980’s.


In retrospect, JAWS: THE REVENGE isn’t that bad in the sense that it’s well-acted, fast-paced and at least has some class, taking itself seriously and positioning an older female as the hero. Rare for 1987 and just as rare today.

But…it aint a good movie. By any stretch.

And so, when I caught this clip of S&E digging in, I wasn’t mad. At all. God knows the movie had it coming!

Check it out. Be prepared to laugh….

The post Remember When Siskel & Ebert Reviewed JAWS: THE REVENGE? appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Ridley Scott Announces Plans to Make More ALIEN Prequel/Sequels

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Ridley Scott Announces Plans to Make More ALIEN Prequel/Sequels

Alien: Paradise Lost

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Visionary director Ridley Scott reveals plans for two more PROMETHEUS/ALIEN: COVENANT sequels.

We already now know that the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s ALIEN sidebar/prequel PROMETHEUS has changed titles more times than a a Xenomorph changes its underpants and we know that the film will now be called ALIEN: COVENANT. 

What we didn’t know  – but now do – is that Scott is planning THREE sequels, for a grand total of FOUR PROMETHEUS/ALIEN films that will eventually tie into his 1979 original masterpiece.

Speaking from a press conference in Sydney, Australia (where ALIEN: COVENANT will be filmed), Scott had this to say, The Hollywood Reporter reports:

“Its a very complex story. Its an evolution of what I first did with PROMETHEUS 1…(that film) was borne out of my frustration that on ALIEN 1 in 1979 – I only did one as I don’t normally do sequels. I was amazed that in the 3 that followed that no-one asked the question ‘why the Alien, who made it and why?’ Very basic questions. So I came up with the notion of PROMETHEUS 1, which starts to indicate who might have made it and where it came from.”

He added: “So I’m now going to the next one, which is the next evolution directly connected with the first one, which was this Shaw, when [s]he replaced Michael Fassbender in two pieces and we’ll kind of pick it up there and it will evolve. When that’s finished there will be another one and then another one which will gradually drive into the back entrance of the film in 1979… So in other words, why was this space jockey there and why did he have an Alien inside him? And those questions will be answered.”

Well, this writer worships Scott and absolutely loved the somewhat flawed and absolutely visionary PROMETHEUS.. And we all worship ALIEN so…I say bring em on! The more ALIEN-centric films the better!

What say you?

The post Ridley Scott Announces Plans to Make More ALIEN Prequel/Sequels appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Review: Polish Mind-Bender THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM on Blu-ray

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Review: Polish Mind-Bender THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM on Blu-ray



SHOCK looks at the Blu-ray release of 1973 Polish surrealist film THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM.

Cannes Special Jury Award Winner THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM is a journey within a jaunt perpendicular to a peregrination and overlapped with a transmigration; Wojciech Has’ sumptuous adaptation of the works of Polish writer Bruno Schulz results in a strongly visualized odyssey through the life and thoughts of a man, a undulating promenade of dreams and nightmares.

Beginning with motion, following a black bird flapping in the sky as we pull in through an open moving window, Józef (Jan Nowicki) travels on decrepit train to visit his ailing father Jacob (Tadeusz Kondrat) in a sanatorium. A foreboding train keeper with a candle lantern around his neck and white eyes alerts Józef of his impending stop. Upon arrival he merely walks out the train door, makes his way through a snowy graveyard, and ascends to the massive doors of the crumbling establishment. After attempting to find food in a deteriorating dining hall coated with spider webs, he is led by a nurse to his father in a bizarre room, seemingly under no care at all, with a single bed and a single lamp to illuminate him. Dr. Gotard (Gustaw Holoubek) explains the conditions of the sanatorium and his father to Józef: they’ve managed to slow time down and play with it, ‘recreating’ it, but there is still much left to chance.


Józef looks out a broken sanatorium window, only to see his own self arriving earlier in the day to the same door he first entered. And so begins multiple trips through time, space, and the ether of consciousness through his own life, encountering his youth, parents, relationships with women, and other events both inside and outside himself through extreme vagaries taking him from one reality through another, a truly experiential tale, an Alice in Wonderland of adulthood, sans white hare.

Jerzy Maksymiuk’s flute-centric score haunts the frames as Józef finds his mother in one room, the encounters a group of Jews praying as if they were in synchronized dance. Climbing a ladder he finds a redheaded nearly nude woman who hurriedly brings him into the room. He finds pages of a book, then the book itself, explaining its importance to the woman. He finds more pages under the page, and crawling underneath finds another man underneath, and a soldier in white at the foot of the bed, asking if he is Jacob, his father. He crawls toward the soldier and is then in a city square with buildings with domed tops and men in colorful bird masks about.


He finds the young boy he saw from earlier in the day at the sanatorium who shows him a stamp book he carries filled with stamps from around the world. He finds the train keeper with the lantern on a house and is led to a patch of elephants in the smoky woods. He finds a rotting butterfly, which he holds up to the sun.

Peeking through a fence, he sees a woman in all black who appears to be in mourning. He is told she is ‘inhabited by ghosts, phantoms, larvae, and chrysalises” by the woman’s daughter who covers the hold he’s peering through with her hand. He leaves this scene and finds another broken construction, climbing down a rope ladder into a room filled with mechanized mannequins. One falls over and its mechanical guts erupt from her its face.

The film plays like a dream, or nightmare, though Józef never breaks stride, adapting to every new adventure as a condition of being alive. He doesn’t flinch or pause, just moves through each new world as part of the entirety of life. The fluidity of Witold Sobocinski’s cinematography (also responsible for Andrzej Zulawski’s THE THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT) infuses Has’ adaption of Bruno Schulz’s prose, whose texts Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass and Spring form the basis of this jaunt.

Schulz’ works are visual and based on sensation over narrative. From this following passage you can see why Has would go for a cinema of sensation over attempts at linear storytelling:


“Fall is a great touring show, poetically deceptive, an enormous purple-skinned onion disclosing ever new panoramas under each of its skins. No center can be reached. Behind each wing that is moved and stored away, new and radiant scenes open up, true and alive for a moment, until you realize that they are made of cardboard. All perspectives are painted, and only the smell is authentic, the smell of wilting scenery or theatrical dressing rooms, a pile up of discarded costumes among which you wade endlessly as if through yellow fallen leaves.”

By the time Józef is rejoined with his father, time has indeed elapsed, folded back on itself, and metamorphosed again, with Józef taking on a new identity, rising forth from an open grave into a field of candles, ready to begin an even newer chapter in the prolongation of his existence.

Boldly visual, exceedingly sensual, and formed from the clay of subconsciousness, THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM is a film that plays particularly well in the dark and strange cavern of a motion picture cinema, filled with strangers both onscreen and off, though presented with eloquence on Blu-ray, its visuals and sounds are smokily intact.

Now available on Blu-ray from Mr. Bongo .

The post Review: Polish Mind-Bender THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM on Blu-ray appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Event Report: BLACK CHRISTMAS Reunion at the Hamilton Film Expo

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Event Report: BLACK CHRISTMAS Reunion at the Hamilton Film Expo


BChrist4 To time with Anchor Bay’s new Blu-ray release, SHOCK reports on the BLACK CHRISTMAS reunion in Hamilton, Canada.

We all know what an Expo or fan Convention is about. A wild, fun adventure filled with Vendors, Celebs, Cosplay, pop culture and more! In our first year doing the Hamilton Film Expo, and going forward, we wanted to earn our name. “Hamilton” is not just the city the event is staged in, it’s where I live and work. “Film Expo” is not just a way to drop all of pop culture on people. “Movie Stuff” is our tagline and that is what we wanted to deliver. Year 1, we accomplished that with our All-Canadian celebrity guests, & movie-themed vendors.

Backing up one day, the night before the Expo, Anchor Bay Canada gave us permission to screen BLACK CHRISTMAS for a free midnight screening to raise awareness and items for the Eva Rothwell Centre. All week, the 10th Annual Hamilton Film Festival had been running a promo for the ‘Season’s Greivings Editon’ of BLACK CHRISTMAS on Blu-ray. Basically, we were getting pumped…

Backing up to August 2015, I had a Facebook conversation with actor Art Hindle. I had never met him but we had mutual “friends.” I reached out and asked him if a) he would be interested in doing an introduction at the 10th Annual Hamilton Film Festival for a showcase of Michelle Latimer’s work (art had worked with her on the syndicated TV show PARADISE FALLS), and b) would he be interested in being a part of our first Film Expo. He did his research, got back to me and his response to me was “I want to help you grow this.”

Not only is that a massive compliment to the years of work we have put in, but a real example of a good person who is interested in giving back to the film & TV community. “Just doing my part” is how he worded it. This lead almost immediately to two more guests. BLACK CHRISTMAS co-stars Lynne Griffin and Doug McGrath. In the matter of a few days I had a mini BLACK CHRISTMAS reunion!


During the panel discussion (moderated by Aaron Allen of Hamilton’s Fright Night Theatre Film Festival, pictured above), Doug discussed the importance of his early work in Canadian cinema, but not in an egotistical way. It was in a way that a teacher is proud of seeing a student become successful. BLACK CHRISTMAS, PORKY’S and GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD all paved the way for films that hadn’t been made yet. Doug was very optimistic that Canadian cinema has, and will continue to have, it’s own identity but more importantly that it has this vast legacy of movies to point to.

Lynn Griffin (who also starred in Canadian slasher classic CURTAINS) is a warm soul with a genuine smile and a passion for the arts. It’s obvious when you first meet her. She recalled Bob (Clark) asking her to imagine that she was hearing some scary things on the phone. Then when she saw the movie, had no idea it would be so disturbing! She talked about “the bag” and went on to explain that she was a swimmer and could hold her breath for a long time. “Probably why I got the part.” She said.

A lesson for filmmakers in the horror genre, came from Art Hindle. He never missed a chance to bring a laugh into the conversation, and said as much about horror filmmaking. “Bring humour into your films.” The “fellatio” scene comes (ahem)  to mind across the panel. Later on, a question was asked to the panel, “what prop would you most like to have from the movie?” Art Hindle, without missing a beat said “Olivia Hussey.”

An nice addition to the panel, or audience I should say, was when a question regarding the audio of that scary scream from Olivia at the banister, was asked. The panel wasn’t 100% sure…but an audience member was certain. Bruce Craig worked on the film 40 years ago doing sound special effects work out of a studio (Mirrophonic) at King and Spadina streets in Toronto. The scream was also a mix of their receptionist’s screams! He talked fondly about mixing the film while Bob Clark bounced his new bride on his knee. Bruce also remembered being scared at the premiere, even after seeing it so many times while editing. Bruce is also optimistic about the future. “We felt we were leading edge at that time, but with the equipment and personnel now smaller productions can have longer reaches around the world.”

What was an incredible, intimate, meeting of these wonderful Black Christmas alumni, also turned out to be a great discussion about the Canadian film industry. That is something that we can truly be proud of.

Nathan Fleet is an award winning filmmaker / composer and is the director of the 10th annual Hamilton Film Festival and the organizer of the 1st annual Hamilton Film Expo.


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ShockTreatment!   In this ongoing SHOCK column, editor Chris Alexander muses on classic and contemporary films and music worthy of a deeper discussion.


One of the rarest of lycanthrope-centric films is the unfortunately late, Oscar-winning British cinematographer (David Lynch’s THE ELEPHANT MAN) and noted horror filmmaker (DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, TALES FROM THE CRYPT) Freddie Francis’ little discussed1975 Hammer-esque wolfman shocker LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF. And really, I have to ask why it’s so obscure, because the movie is rather fantastic.

As the films’ star Peter Cushing (whose work here is first rate as always) so helpfully explains in LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF’s weird opening sequence, it has been said that the beasts of the forest shall watch over and protect human children on Christmas Eve, because, well, their forefathers and mothers did it for Jesus, so if they didn’t do it too they’d be jerks. This bit of made up myth provides credibility for the ensuing tale of poor little Etoile, a baby who, after his immigrant parents are chomped on by a pack of starving wolves, is inexplicably adopted by the now sated pack. He grows up like a sort of lupine Tarzan, a wild untamed thing who is eventually ‘rescued’ by a sleazy carny (the amazing, wild eyed actor Hugh Griffith from, among many, many other fine films, Ben Hur) and top billed in his skid row circus as the feral ‘Wolf Boy’. Eventually Etoile grows into a strapping young lad (played by veteran actor David Rintoul who recently appeared in Polanski’s excellent thriller THE GHOST WRITER) who makes the rather startling discovery that, when under pressure of full moon, he grows fangs, sprouts fur, pops his shirt and end up looking a lot like Oliver Reed did in Terrance Fisher’s 1961 Hammer horror classic CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF.


In fact Jimmy Evans’s Roy Ashton-esque make up schemes for Etoile’s furry face and transformations and the idea of a Christmas curse aren’t the only things that recall that admittedly superior film. See, Etoile ends up ditching his promising career as a rabid roustabout and flees to late 19th century Paris (the Fisher film was based on Guy Endore’s novel “The Werewolf Of Paris” and both pics were penned by Anthony Hinds, under his pseudonym John Elder) where he gets a gig working at a zoo run by OLIVER! heavy Ron Moody and falls in love with a beautiful whore, a woman who – like Reed’s squeeze in CURSE- seems to temper his inner lycanthrope. Of course all goes sour when a jealous Etoile turns wolfy and rips the throats out of the local bordello’s patrons (complete with red optical effects, the kind that Francis was fond of playing with) and it falls on the narrow shoulders of Peter Cushing, here playing an intrepid police pathologist, to line Etoile’s homicidal cloud with a sweet silver lining.

LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF was produced by Tyburn Films, a tiny, short-lived UK studio founded by Francis’s son Kevin and one that sought to capitalize on Hammer’s massive, decade spanning, international success. Problem was, by 1974 Hammer Horror was already passé and, after one more picture (1975’s fine John Hurt/Ian McCulloch vehicle THE GHOUL) took a permanent dive.

In Canada (where I was born, raised and still live) a little budget video distro outfit called Interglobal Home Video (which I raved about HERE) ended up distributing LEGEND in the 1980’s. I bought that VHS cassette for $10 at a local Kmart and I’m certainly glad I did. Because I’ve never, ever seen the film legitimately available in any other format on these shores. Needless to say, I treasure my copy…

Though hampered by its low budget, and aforementioned plot familiarity, and though its not necessarily Francis’s best work (though it’s about a gazillion times better than his worst film, 1970’s awesomely insane caveman vs. Joan Crawford opus TROG) -LEGEND is a well paced, blackly humorous, creepy and oh-so-very British slice of rough-around-the -edges, modestly budgeted Gothic horror. And Hammer vet Harry Robinson’s brash, often romantic score amplifies the production value considerably.

You should find it. That beaten up tape of mine has seen the insides of no less than 7 VCR’s and it still goes strong, it still pulls it’s LP recorded weight with blood dripping, hairy backed finesse and flesh shredding, electro-magnetic grace. A muddy rip of that VHS is on YouTube and it’s a perfectly acceptable (though faded and fuzzy) version to at least get the sense of the film. Here’s hoping someone cleans this wonderful little flick up and dresses it up for Blu-ray someday…

The post ‘Chris Alexander’s SHOCK TREATMENT’: In Praise of LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Top Ten Horror Directors Making Non-Horror Television

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Top Ten Horror Directors Making Non-Horror Television




SHOCK goes wild and reveals ten horror legends and their ventures into mainstream television.

It’s a sad fact that theatrical feature films are today suffering through a sort of creative dormancy, causing Hollywood’s top talents to migrate over to television’s artist-friendly climate. The horror genre has been especially affected by this trend, with beloved directors seeking work in TV not only for a paying gig, but also to stretch out with subject matter not usually brought their way. Many of these directors have actually been tacking television for years, as the examples below illustrate. Now, this list isn’t to showcase horror folks doing yet more scary stuff on the small screen, such as stints on TWILIGHT ZONE or HANNIBAL or THE WALKING DEAD, but are a look at familiar filmmakers using (or having used) the dominance of television programs for the chance to do something a little unexpected…


No filmmaker felt more ghettoized by the horror genre than the late Wes Craven, and he famously leveraged his SCREAM clout for the opportunity to direct Meryl Streep in the cloying biopic MUSIC FROM THE HEART. But in 1986, well before his Streep gambit, Craven was thinking of the kids—his film DEADLY FRIEND was something he hoped would connect with younger audiences, and it was instead hijacked by the studio and loaded up with ridiculous gore sequences. That same year, Craven would finally get to make a genuine kiddie flick, as he went into league with the House of Mouse to direct an installment of their stalwart WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY program. Craven’s effort, feeling very much like an aborted series pilot, is called CASEBUSTERS, and it concerns a brother (Noah Hathaway of TROLL) and sister, the latter of which is obsessed with detective novels. The duo are helping out their kindly, podgy grandpa (character actor Pat Hingle), who happens to be a private investigator-slash-neighborhood watchman. Teaming up with local delinquent “Ski”, Grandpa and the youngsters take on a geeky Rick Moranis clone and a harridan in mom jeans who are out running a lame counterfeiting scheme. From hilariously awkward and misplaced narration by Hingle, to three (!) ineptly-staged car chases, to dumbed-down and preposterous plotting (the little sister blackmails a guy into chasing down the baddies by threatening him with a fine for dumping garbage?), CASEBUSTERS is juvenile, moronic fluff. Sorry, Wes.

GAME OF THRONES (Neil Marshall)

Fiendishly popular GAME OF THRONES has no shortage of epic set pieces and enormous battles, something Neil Marshall had previous experience in mounting through his swashbuckling 2010 film CENTURION. Marshall got the nod to direct two of GAMES’ heaviest episodes, and it’s difficult to discuss the particulars without spoiling any of the series’ intricate political machinations. Suffice it to say that when Marshall’s name flashes up on the credits of a particular episode, in-tune viewers know that they are primed for scope and scale—it was Marshall who marshalled the massive brawl between the sentries of the Night’s Watch and the feral tribe known as the Wildlings, and the results can be witnessed in the clip below:


Having set or broken ratings records with his Stephen King miniseries, it makes sense that Mick Garris would be recruited over the years to hop aboard a number of successful programs. Garris has thus demonstrated his ability to work with the darker corners of teen-driven dramas like PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and RAVENSWOOD, and macabre grownup fare like THE WITCHES OF EAST END and HAPPY TOWN, but it was his helming an episode of Dick Wolf’s mid-nineties cop actioner NEW YORK UNDERCOVER that comes out of left field. UNDERCOVER was part of the then-upstart Fox network’s attempt to coax a younger demographic, and featured regular performances from hip-hop and R n’ B stars of the day. Garris’s episode has cool-guy detectives Williams and Torres backing a local reverend against an evil cigarette conglomerate’s attempts to discredit him, and boasts an appearance by controversial social critic Al Sharpton.

CSI: MIAMI (Rob Zombie)

For Rob Zombie’s many critics who would dearly love to see him direct a script that he didn’t write himself, look no further—in 2010, Zombie was behind the camera for an episode of CSI: MIAMI, conjuring that Bruckheimer beige glow around star David Caruso. There are traces of Zombie’s visual flair during an opening party sequence, and members of the Zombie zoo show up in the form of William Forsyth, Malcolm McDowell, and Sheri Moon Zombie (and there’s also a cameo by ZZ top’s Billy Gibbons!), but the episode hews closely to the standard CSI procedural outlay. The far more amusing result of Zombie’s network television dalliance is his interview anecdote regarding the notoriously crotchety Caruso, starting at 3:55:

DREAM ON (John Landis)

John Landis will the first person to tell you that he’s hardly a horror icon, having only ever made two features in the genre. He most definitely has a dozen blockbuster comedies to his name, so it was hardly an out of character move for Landis to concoct his own sitcom, bringing in FRIENDS’ Marta Kaufman and David Crane to assist in developing it. Alongside TALES FROM THE CRYPT, DREAM ON was a key component of HBO’s early wave of original programming, and Landis would direct many of the episodes himself. The show starred Brian Benben (with whom Landis would reunite in the awful MASTERS OF HORROR episode ‘Deer Woman’) as Martin Tupper, an NYC book editor fumbling through post-divorce dating life. The show’s gimmick is that Tupper spent so much time in front of the television as a child that footage from ancient programs would be spliced in to comment on the action, as Tupper’s brain presumably would do. While DREAM ON’s risqué humor, spicy language, and frequent instances of nudity broke ground for the TV sitcom format, the plots were repetitive and the clips themselves quickly become annoying. Still, Landis can take heart in knowing that his show was in on the ground floor of the towering program slate for which HBO has since become renowned. Here’s a trailer for the show, in German:

 HAWAII FIVE-0 (Joe Dante)

Joe Dante has made the odd venture into television throughout his career with a number of forgotten series, such as the excellent kid-oriented spookshow EERIE, INDIANA. And like Rob Zombie, Dante dipped his toe into the CSI world by directing an Amityville-themed 2009 episode of CSI: NY. It’s no big stunner to see that Dante can handle horror on large or small screens, but the surprise is how he became a staple of the HAWAII FIVE-0 revival, directing a total of nine episodes of what has proven to be a solid and consistently entertaining cop series. Of course, the assignment of shooting this year’s atmospheric Halloween-themed HAWAII episode went to Dante, and here’s a nasty, maggoty clip of that particular work:

SCALES OF JUSTICE (David Cronenberg)

As most die-hard fans are aware, David Cronenberg veered into television by directing an episode of FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES, a show that conveniently shot in Cronenberg’s hometown of Toronto. Less prominent on Cronenberg’s T.V. resume is his direction of two episodes of SCALES OF JUSTICE, a crime re-enactment program hosted by esteemed Canadian defence attorney Edward Greenspan. SCALES was adapted from a long-running radio program of the same name, and the screen version was, to be honest, a stiff and amateurish Northern answer to slicker U.S. fare like UNSOLVED MYSTERIES. Surviving episodes are almost impossible to find—though a brief, unremarkable clip from one of Cronenberg’s efforts can be viewed here:

THE WINNERS (George A. Romero)

Laurel Entertainment was the name of the Pittsburgh production company founded by George A. Romero and partner Richard Rubenstein. In addition to Laurel’s involvement with feature films, the company also produced a series of sports documentaries during the mid-seventies under the title THE WINNERS. Romero himself would cut several episodes of THE WINNERS together; besides a celebration of legendary Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Willie Stargell, there was also a 1974 ode to the gridiron accomplishments of one O.J. Simpson. In retrospect, this short doc is arguably the most horrific project of Romero’s career, but at the time Simpson was a spotless paragon of athletic prowess and adored for his affable, approachable public demeanor. The documentary itself amounts to standard sports-profile fawning, and fairly drips with hilarious seventies’ funky-flute music and graphics, but brush aside the now-odious subject matter and it stands as an excellent example of Romero’s tremendous editing skill, especially in the short pre-credits locker room sequence.


In between shooting his features TCM2 and SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION in the late eighties, Tobe Hooper also got sidetracked by several TV projects. There were the shows that one might expect, from Spielberg’s Garris-guided AMAZING STORIES to the pilot of FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES, and a real curveball among them—an episode of righteous action-drama THE EQUALIZER, a sort of upscale A-TEAM in which a retired British spy (played primly by THE WICKER MAN’s Edward Woodward) is contacted via personal ad by New York’s downtrodden, and then Woodward goes to work in their defense. Hooper’s episode has a family battling a slumlord, and features an uncharacteristically restrained performance by a young Michael (HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER) Rooker, which balances a hilarious, over-the-top Michael (BARTON FINK) Lerner as the heartless slumlord. As with most EQUALIZER episodes, the two-dimensional melodrama is laid on thicker than mayonnaise, and Hooper can’t manage to impart enough of his personality to rescue a single minute of this soppy network slop.

RAKE (Sam Raimi)

Sam Raimi is no stranger to filling up T.V. schedules with Renaissance Pictures’ output in the capacity of producer, and he very recently directed the opening salvo of the Starz channel’s ASH VS. EVIL DEAD series. Less acknowledged is his participation in 2014’s Greg Kinnear vehicle RAKE. Any inch of film or byte of DV directed by Raimi is prized by film nerds for its visual inventiveness, but beyond the splatstick of the EVIL DEAD trilogy or the grandiose spectacle of his SPIDER-MAN and OZ films, Raimi is also an unheralded master of slow-burn drama (Sure, THE GIFT may be spotty, but A SIMPLE PLAN is an American crime classic). RAKE sits squarely in the comedic side of Raimi’s repertoire, and gives him another puffed-up protagonist to torture through karmic misfortunes; this one deftly played by Raimi’s GIFT star Kinnear. Kinnear’s character Keegan Dean isn’t quite in Ash’s delusory league, but roguish attorney Dean is a pretty flawed hero nonetheless. Raimi directed RAKE’s pilot, guest starring the great Peter (FARGO) Stormare as a serial killer, and returned for episode four. Entitled ‘Cannibal’, the episode has AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s Denis O’Hare playing a debonair flesheater that Kean is hired defend in court—before horror fans get too excited, know that this cannibal is handled mostly for laughs, and that the consumption turns out to be consensual. Overall, the short-lived RAKE was a witty, acerbic show gone too soon. (And yes, Raimi devotees, “The Classic” makes a split-second cameo at the end of ‘Cannibal’.)

The post Top Ten Horror Directors Making Non-Horror Television appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New THE CONJURING 2 Set Photos Show the Warrens in 1970s London

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New THE CONJURING 2 Set Photos Show the Warrens in 1970s London


New Conjuring 2 Set Photos Show the Warrens in 1970s London.

James Wan has shared new The Conjuring 2 set photos with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson

Director James Wan has shared some new The Conjuring 2 set photos via social media. Check them out below for a look at returning stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, set to reprise their The Conjuring roles as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. You’ll also get a first look at the retro London location and Simon McBurney (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) in period costume, so check out the pics from The Conjuring 2: The Endfield Poltergeist below!

In between shots, posing w the coolest cats-Simon McBurney, @patrickwilson73 @VeraFarmiga #Marylebone #theconjuring2

— James Wan (@creepypuppet) November 22, 2015

Taking gorgeous #MaryleboneStation back in time to seventies London. Beautiful Victorian architecture #TheConjuring2

— James Wan (@creepypuppet) November 22, 2015

Recreating snowy Christmas in the 70’s on the streets of London. Outside a pub, naturally! #Conjuring2

— James Wan (@creepypuppet) November 18, 2015


I bring my crane into every pub I visit. #warringtonhotel #london #conjuring2

A photo posted by James Wan (@creepypuppet) on Nov 18, 2015 at 9:55am PST

Unlike the recent spinoff film, Annabelle (which explored the back story of the first film’s terrifying doll), The Conjuring 2 will continue the based on truth adventures of the Warrens, whose cases have also inspired the likes of The Haunting in Connecticut and most notably, The Amityville Horror. The sequel is also set to feature Frances O’Connor, playing the part of a desperate mother whose daughter is experiencing a haunting.

The Conjuring 2: The Endfield Poltergeist features a screenplay by Chad and Carey Hayes who penned the first film along with House of Wax and The Reaping. James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Furious 7) will return to direct for a June 10, 2016 release.

What do you think of these latest The Conjuring 2 set photos? Are you looking forward to another terrifying big screen experience? Let us know in the comments below!

The post New THE CONJURING 2 Set Photos Show the Warrens in 1970s London appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

New CONJURING 2 Set Photos Show the Warrens in 1970s London

Shock Till You Drop
New CONJURING 2 Set Photos Show the Warrens in 1970s London


EvilQueenB’s Horrific Guide To Black Christmas Shopping

Horror Movies, Horror News, Horror Reviews | Anything Horror
EvilQueenB’s Horrific Guide To Black Christmas Shopping
EvilQueenB just made you Black Friday shopping experience all the more easy with a list of suggestions on where to find the perfect gift for the horror fan in your life. She’s truly a lifesaver!! — Anything Horror Scott _____ It’s that time of year again, when we as horror fans, must suffer with the … Continue reading

Epic Exclusive Interview! Swedish Film Fan Creates Definitive NIGHTBREED Cut!

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Epic Exclusive Interview! Swedish Film Fan Creates Definitive NIGHTBREED Cut!



Swedish blogger, film archivist and fan goes back to the vaults and sculpts a massive new “definitive” version of Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED.

At some point in time all film enthusiasts come to that thrilling moment when the hunt for a distorted, low quality work-print of a film considered lost forever pays off. It may even be a passionately assembled fan edit crafted from various sources to create the ultimate version of films they are obsessed with, but never before seen in its entirety. They are rarely anywhere near the quality of film that we are accustomed to these days, but the satisfaction of finally seeing it in it’s intended shape is rewarding, filling that hole of curiosity that only a film-completist can recognize. It’s like finding the holy grail of genre cinema.

One man, Fillip Önell of Uppsala, Sweden, has taken his obsession with Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED to an all-time high as he’s made it his mission to craft the definitive version of NIGHTBREED, complete with it’s intended complex characters, the sanctuary of Midian midst assault, and all it’s lurking inhabitants, even the deleted ones.

SHOCK: So how did your obsession with NIGHTBREED start?

Filip Önell: It started about five years ago when I first saw the film. I already knew that this was a film that had suffered from studio interference and that it had a long history of some mystic underground fan affection. Which is what drew me to it to start with, as I’m generally fascinated by films that where messed up by the studio, like Exorcist 3 or Michael Mann’s The Keep,. The kind of film where you notice that something is not quite right, but at the same time see that there’s a really cool film in there somewhere. My initial reaction was kind of mixed. I saw this rich and imaginative film, but I could also see the studio meddling. The story barely made sense and was edited in a kind of like Michael Bay fashion. It was so quick and the pacing was all off. Also, NIGHTBREED was unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s not quite a horror film, it’s something of a fantasy film, but its also something else, it’s just a unique film, and the fact that Clive Barker got millions of dollars to make what basically is a monster film where the monsters are the good guys, porcupine women are sexy and David Cronenberg runs around in a gimp mask, it is just astonishing!

Around the same time, they also found the two NIGHTBREED work prints that they edited together and began screening under the “The Cabal Cut” name at conventions. I heard that it was going to be screened in Germany at a convention there, so I took the opportunity to go see it.

SHOCK: And what where your reactions to the Cabal Cut.

Filip: At that point I’d already read the book and the screenplay, so I had some kind of idea what it would be like, or should be like. After actually seeing it, I remember my initial reaction being “God I wish I could edit this myself.” Because I was like, if I put that shot over here, and this one over there it would make more sense. I had very high expectations for this expanded vision of NIGHTBREED, which where met, but at the same time not.

SHOCK: So made you decide to make it your mission to craft the definitive version of NIGHTBREED?

Filip: When it was announced that they where going to release the Directors Cut after they had found the original 35mm film elements, I thought great, now we are going to see something that might be even better than the Cabal Cut. But then, in all honestly, I was quite disappointed with the Directors Cut because it still felt like a compromised version of NIGHTBREED. It felt like I was watching an eight, or ninth Directors Cut that Clive would have turned in back in the nineties for the studio to watch. Things where missing, certain aspects to the story where still unclear, certain characters didn’t quite blossom within the story, and some of the editing I felt was just flat out poor. I’d already made a few fan edits previously, or at least attempted too. I’d done some re-editing on Exorcist 3 to make it more like the film that William Peter Blatty wanted it to be, I worked on a version of HELLRAISER 2, and then I started this crazy project of trying to take Stephen Kings THE STAND and turn it into a three hour long movie using the screenplay that George A. Romero was going to make into a film back in the eighties, but I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t save that ending when the Hand of God comes down and saves everybody. That ending just doesn’t work.

So with NIGHTBREED I was just going to do this re-edit of the climax, the battle at the ending, because on the Blu-ray that Scream Factory had released, there where tons of outtakes and deleted scenes, so I was like wow this is cool! If I could just add this to the battle at the end and re-edit it, it would be something awesome and different, because the battle at the end is just a mess, especially in the Theatrical Version. Then somebody told me that the Cabal Cut had been put online, which initially kind of surprised me, as I was expecting the Cabal Cut to be kept under lock and key in storage. But no, there it was, and I was toying with the idea of what I could do with that footage and the new footage from the Blu-Ray. So I decided to contact the actual editor of the Cabal Cut and told him what I was doing and he was very impressed with the fact that I was reconstructing Clive Barkers original cut. Because that’s what I wanted to see with the Directors Cut, I that original cut that Clive had put together before the studio hats came in and started messing around with the film. Anyway, my conversation with the Cabal Cut editor ended with him saying that if I needed any help just ask him and he’d see what he could do. So jokingly, I kind of asked him if he could send me the work print footage, and he was like, why not! That led to me having two, over two hour-long work prints of NIGHTBREED. With all this footage, I decided that I had to get deeper into this than just fixing the ending. Both of these versions contained alternative footage with quite significant quality variations between the two prints. Occasionally certain scenes or special effects are missing so there’s like “scene missing”, or “FX here” slates in there. The work prints are in no way finished, there’s sound missing; they have dialogue, but no sound effects, music or anything like that. So now I had the movie with just the dialogue to work from, so I could be much more creative work on the sound design, add new sound effects and really work with the music and re-edit the movie in the way that I wanted. So that’s really what I’ve been working on for a while now, going through these work prints and putting it all together, taking the BluRay version and inserting the high definition quality scenes.


SHOCK: Have any of the people involved with the film heard of what you are doing?

Filip I’ve tried to get in touch with Barker and his right-hand man Mark Miller, because it would be interesting to get some kind of comment from them. After all, this is Clive Barkers movie, and he made an awesome film, so it would be cool if he saw it and felt that it was an even better movie now. I honestly don’t feel that the Directors Cut does Barker fully justice as a director. There are edits in there that I feel give it a rushed and kind of uncompleted feeling.

But during the process of re-assembling this cut, something amazing did happened. I got in touch with Christine McCorkindale who plays Shuna Sassi, the porcupine woman, because there’s this famous scene, a kind of monster love scene between her and Peloquin, and I was baffled that it wasn’t in the Directors Cut. For me that scene should have been in the film, because it’s like the most Clive Barker thing ever, two monsters making out on screen! The footage in in the extras on the Blu-ray but there is no audio or anything. So I thought, well Christine is still around, she is here, so on a crazy chance shot I sent her a message and asked if she might be interested in recording some dialogue for me. She responded by asking if I was going to make any money off this, which I have no intention of at all, this is all just for my own personal satisfaction, and her response was yeah, sure I’ll do it. I also got in touch with Nicholas Vince who plays Kinski. There’s a scene between him and Peloquin which I’ve asked him to help restore too.


SHOCK: What sort of sources are you using as a road map through your edit?

Filip: One of the most important sources for my cut is the original Barker novella, because I’m trying to create a faithful adaptation of the Cabal novella with this version. Between that and the films, I don’t actually have a shooting draft, but I have two drafts of the script. One, which is dated, February 1989, both of them are quite similar to the final product, but there are things that are different. The dialogue is different and some of the structure in those scripts. An odd thing in the scripts is that when they are invading Midian, and setting off all the bombs to destroy the cemetery, Boone arrives before all that and tells them to prepare for what is about to happen. Where in the movie, both Theatrical and the Directors Cut, he arrives after they have blown up Midian. As said, I had some issues with that battle in the end, and it’s been a nightmare to edit that whole sequence, because there’s so much happening at once and I’m trying to tell a story in the midst of all the action. But it’s there now. Also the script doesn’t really explain that much or describe the battle, it’s basically humans are fighting monsters written in the paper. So I had to be creative and improvise with some of this material. It’s actually crazy how different this version is, and how much alternative footage there is. The Theatrical Version was almost like this dark strange superhero movie in some ways, this is, as I write on my blog, more like Schindler’s List with monsters. At the end you see all these humans coming in shooting all these monsters, and it’s just horrible.

SHOCK: In which way will your way differ and why have you chosen that route?

Filip. Well it will be different in the sense that characters will make more sense, relationships will be a lot stronger, there are certain aspects to the story that will be much clearer and some of the relationships within characters will be clearer and some of the mythology has been fleshed out. The biggest change is the character of Dr. Decker, who in the Theatrical and Directors Cut is simply a psychiatrist who is killing breeders and now he wants kill the NIGHTBREED because they are like the breeders he’s been killing… see, it’s kind of confusing already there. But in the novella, Decker is a completely different character. He is a psychiatrist who is trying to cover up his own ass, which is why he’s trying to frame Boone. And if you think about it, this is never really explained in the Theatrical or Directors Cut, it’s kind of just glossed over and then it’s like what’s the point of that? What was that all about? In the Cabal Cut and in my version, you find out that Decker is a schizophrenic who has this internal conflict with this mask he’s wearing. He’s like Willem Dafoe in Spiderman, he’s talking to the mask and the mask is telling him to kill people. He’s afraid that the police are going to get him and that’s why he had to frame Boone. One of the things that I’ve done in my cut is that I’ve added a new dubbing for the mask, which allowed me to be more creative with the voice elements. So there’s more of the mask talking to Decker and you realize how he’s going insane through out the film and you understand that he can’t control himself, and that’s who he is. They made Decker a bigger character in the Theatrical version because the idea was that he’d be the next big thing, he was to be resurrected beyond that film. So they kept that stuff for the Directors Cut except the scenes where he’s resurrected at the end and I don’t really think that it works in the Directors Cut, because I feel that the scenes with Decker towards the ending are unnecessary, because he doesn’t really matter at the end of the film. At that point it’s really only about Boone, Lori, the Priest and the Police Captain. The Police are the real bad guys at the end, and Decker was really only supposed to be this antagonist at the beginning of the film, for the first act of the story. Apparently the audience at the test screenings back in 89 where confused by the character of Decker and why he wanted to kill the Breed, but really, he only wants to destroy Boone because he knows who Decker really is.

I guess you know that NIGHTBREED suffered from reshoots right, and most people really only know that the scenes with Cronenberg, like where he kills the woman at the hotel and when he interrogates the old man, where added later. But actually characters like Shuna Sassi where part of those reshoots. They where not in the original film at all. According to Doug Bradley, they where added because the studio said that they wanted the monsters more nastier, more horrifying so Clive added those scenes. If you look at those scenes these monsters are cackling and hissing and enjoying killing humans, which is very different when you look at the work print footage where the monsters are hurt and afraid and really don’t want to fight and it’s Boone who has to get them to fight back. It’s a very different. I have been having some tonal issues with my cut where I’m going, “hmm”, because the original footage doesn’t match some of the reshoots. But my version is a lot more dramatic.

So that’s what I’m trying to do here, to put the narrative back the way it was supposed to be, and focus on Boone and Lori, which I felt that the Directors Cut was close too, but didn’t really fix the narrative issues that I had with the film.

It was interesting, because I had read about this extended scene between Boone and Decker in Decker’s office where he’s telling Boone that he might be a serial killer. In the Theatrical Version and the Director’s Cut you don’t really understand why Boone would so easily believe himself to be a serial killer. But in the work print, after Decker calls Boone, there’s a scene where Boone visits Lori and is concerned why Decker wants to meet him again, fearing that he might be going crazy again and Lori is trying to reassure Boone that he is all right.
That’s a very important scene because it tells you that Boone has had mental issues in the past. Things like that that just makes the story clearer. There’s also a lot more scenes between the Lori and Boone in the work prints and their love story blossoms much more there. That whole scene with the two of them in the jail it works so much better in the work prints. In the directors cut and especially the theatrical version it’s so brief when she comes in and tells him that he has to fight back. In the theatrical version she just goes in to the jail, and goes “I’m not afraid of you” and then they are kissing, there’s a little bit more in the Directors Cut, but not everything, and the work print is so much more of her talking to him and he’s suicidal at that point he doesn’t want to live anymore, he thinks that he’s a cannibal freak and he doesn’t care about Midian, and she has to convince him to fight back. So I’m using that footage, fleshing it out, making it more comprehensible. It’ s just a lot stronger story wise now.

So that’s some of the differences that I’m making to it. But I have to say that in many ways Clive improved on the book with the film, giving more texture and flesh to the creatures, and the world of Midian. The book doesn’t really go much into detail of Midian and is really more of a love story, which you see partially in the movie where the love story is kind of bubbling under the fantasy horror movie story. The version I’ve made is more… and this is going to sound terrible… more like Twilight, but a good Twilight, because it’s basically about a girl who’s in love with a guy who’s dead, but of course in that perverse Clive Barker way, she loves him more when he’s dead.


SHOCK: So you are basically putting back more character development?

Filip: Yeah, character development, more monster action and I also think this makes my version much more coherent, because I’ve reconstructed the film and put it back in order. You’d be surprised if you knew how many scenes actually are out of order, even in the directors cut. There’s also a character who dies in the Theatrical and Directors Cut, but who actually lives on in my cut. That’s the character of inspector Joyce, who has a much bigger role in my cut and he becomes the voice of reason at the end of the film, the one character that understands. There’s actually a scene between him and the other police officers when they are waiting for the cavalry to arrive where Joyce questions the others if they have though about what they are doing and questions if they are about to wipe out an entire new unknown species. And of course the fact that he’s colored and I’m sure that Clive was trying to say something there as the only character that realizes that what they are doing is wrong is colored. He’s kind of like Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night, the one intelligent person who’s stuck with all these dumb racist redneck cops. But I think that’s what Clive Barker is trying to say here, NIGHTBREED is about intolerance, and with Clive being a gay man, the NIGHTBREED are an obvious metaphor for the gay community, hiding in the day and only coming out at night. That was almost the status in eighty-eight. Of course you don’t have to be gay to get the film. There are modern movies films that are similar to NIGHTBREED like X-Men and Avatar. But those movies blew it for me because they glamourize their mutants and aliens. The most beautiful teenagers on the planet play all the mutants in X-Men, and the aliens in Avatar are seven-foot tall cat people; they look like they were designed by some 13 year old on deviantart. They are made to be as easily appealing as possible to mainstream audiences. But Clive makes the NIGHTBREED kind of challenging to like. Yeah, they are deformed and demonic, but you have like them anyway! Its message is universal. NIGHTBREED speaks to me being an outsider who has always been considered weird and different; when I was younger someone would tell me, “That’s not normal” or “Why can’t you be like everyone else?” I love the fact that NIGHTBREED says “Fuck normality! Be whatever you want to be!”


SHOCK: So you have footage without audio that you can match with scenes with audio to create extended and alternate versions, but what about music?

Filip: I’m surprised how the Danny Elfman score doesn’t really work for NIGHTBREED, so I’ve had to take some of that out. You know, there’s this weird joyous feeling to the Theatrical Version, especially with the Danny Elfman score going duh, duhp, duh, duhp, duh, duhp, in the quirky way that Elfman scores often go. You never really get the sense of how horrifying the ending actually is, and I think that that might have been a studio thing along the way to make it more light-hearted or something. I know they didn’t want the audience to have empathy for the monsters of course. So, I’ve actually added new music to the film that’s not Elfman. I’ve searched online for music that sounds like Elfman, because some of his music doesn’t really fit the edit I’m making. His music was composed for the theatrical version, so it’s shorter, has a different pace to it so I had to rearrange parts of the score. And I think it’s music that you’ll hear and go yeah, that sounds like NIGHTBREED, so it works perfectly.

SHOCK: You also mention on your webpage that you’re not just putting together an alternative cut, you are also getting in there and fixing FX that never was completed on work prints and dailies right?

Fillip: I have new footage of the God Baphomet and he’s supposed to have these glowing eyes, which they didn’t fix in the directors cut. There was new footage, but no FX, so you just see the actors’ eyes. So I’m fixing that with rotoscoping, a painstaking procedure where you go through frame by frame and add these elements. But it’s going to be so worth it when I’m done. There is also this one special effect scene I had to get into, and it’s when the priest is trying to take this bowl of Baphomets blood and the liquid just sort of flies up into his face. I think I had a shot of Baphomet angry looking at him, and in one of my scripts there’s a line of Baphoment shooting this laser beams, so that is something I want to try and create. In fact that happens in the comic book adaptation of NIGHTBREED, which also has been something of a guide for my version. I’m looking at that and going, cool, I can edit this version like that, I can make that happen. There’s one scene where the character Rachel transforms into smoke, and I’ve added a new shot of her transformation where you actually see her becoming the smoke. So the cops reaction is not shooting into smoke, but shooting at this figure in the smoke. So things like that, that’s what I’ve been adding to the film. It’s very interesting how much actually was cut from this film.

SHOCK: So what are your ambitions with this project?

FIlip: Well my ego is quite big, so I have some thoughts that this is going to be my big break. Maybe open something up for me, because I think that it will make something of a splash on the fan-edit circuit. I’m hoping to upload my cut onto Vimeo so that people can watch it, this isn’t something that will be up for sale because that’s just insane, and bad. I don’t think I’m going to run into any problems with copyright infringements. This isn’t the Theatrical, Cabal Cut or the Directors Cut anymore; this is a definitive fan edit.

There is a whole fan edit community out there and I’m curious what their response to this will be because this is so ambitious and I think it will make people go “Oh, some guy in Sweden just made a whole new version of the film as it’s never been seen before.” So I’m hoping that the fans will look at this and go, Oh cool, this is what the film should have been back in 1989. In some ways I made this just so that my friends can watch it with me, because I’ve been telling them for so long that “There is this other version out there which is so much better” and then the Cabal Cut wasn’t that version I thought it would be. As I mentioned initially, the Director’s Cut has some flaws I can’t really get along with. One of them being that it has some kind of lack of coverage to it. Which is why I get the feeling that it was rushed in some way. An example is this one scene where Decker shows up with Narcisse head and I’m thinking any minute now they are going to cut to this medium shot of Decker… and it never happens! He shows up with the head and he throws the head to Boone and it’s all in a close up, and I was sure that this can’t have been the way Clive Barker shot this scene. So I’m looking at the extras and what do you know, there’s this perfect medium shot of Decker throwing the head and I’m going, This should be in the movie! So I’ve edited it now so that it goes, Boone turns around, you see Decker with Narcisse head in a close up, you cut back to Boone going what the hell am I looking at, and then you cut to the medium shot to reveal what your looking at. That’s how you edit a scene. I feel that I can say that as I’m someone who loves film, I’ve watched documentaries on how to make film, I’m very interested in how you make films and so my approach to this wasn’t as someone who doesn’t know anything about film editing, because I do know. I know how to edit scenes, and that’s why I approached it from a professional perspective, not just as a fan boy bitching about wanting to see more monsters. I think you are going to look at it and go, this is very well edited!

With all the rearrangement, new scenes, work print footage and changes I think that I will be satisfied with this cut. You know, at the end of the day, it’s a child of labor, because I want to see and share with likeminded fans, a definitive version as I imagine Clive Barker would have completed it without any studio interference.

You can read more about his project and keep tabs on Filip’s work and progress on his definitive cut of NIGHTBREED on his official blogspot.

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