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Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2017 by The Horror In Blog

The Horror In Blog

Welcome to The Horror In Blog! I’m horror author, journalist, and assistant editor, Moaner T. Lawrence. You may remember me from such esteemed macabre publications as Rue Morgue: Horror in Culture and Entertainment, Virus, or Pseudopod, the world’s largest horror fiction podcast.

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…More likely, you have no clue who I am, and your being here is the result of a porn search gone awry. Don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. Just go wash your hands, come back (yes, in that order), click the back button a couple of times, and quest onward!

…You’re still here? …wow. …you sure? …Okay. …Ummm, then let’s go over some fine print. The devil’s in the details! The Horror In Blog (THIB) is the personal creative space of me, Moaner T. Lawrence. All are welcome here until they wear out their welcome – then I’ll ban them…

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Sinister Seven: Edward Douglas of Midnight Syndicate

Posted in It Came from Another Magazine! on November 17, 2016 by The Horror In Blog

There’s already a Midnight Syndicate Sinister Seven with Edward Douglas from 2011 done by the talented Sean Plummer, so why do another one? The last Sinister Seven covered Midnight Syndicate’s collaboration with Destini’s Beard on the album “A Time Forgotten.” This time around, we’re going to delve into Midnight Syndicate’s origins. Who cares? You should, if you like Halloween and Horror themed music. Before Midnight Syndicate, a two man group comprised of Gavin Goszka and frontman Edward Douglas, Halloween Music didn’t have a real market. A decade ago, it was difficult to find Halloween and macabre themed soundtracks at your local music store. Sure, there were a few spooky songs that trickled into vinyl and cassette collections like Louis Armstrong’s ‘Spooks’, Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller,’ Alice Cooper’s ‘He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)’, or Ray Parker’s ‘Ghostbusters’, but Halloween Music, as a genre came, into it’s own with the success of Midnight Syndicate’s Born of the Night (1997). As a result of that – for better or worse – it’s hard not to go into a party or music store during the Halloween season, and trip over a stack of Halloween themed CDs that try to sound like Midnight Syndicate. After over fifteen years, the duo still records and performs musical macabre masterpieces which have kept fans begging for more. I was lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Douglas at a game convention in Essen, Germany – here’s what he had to say:

What are Midnight Syndicate’s origins?

I began the Midnight Syndicate project in the early 90s. The idea behind the band was to create “soundtracks to imaginary films” – CDs that would blend instrumental music and sound effects with the goal of transporting you to a world (or movie) of your creation. The first self-titled Midnight Syndicate CD was released in 1997. It was a very eclectic disc. Although most of the tracks were horror-themed and some would appear on later Midnight Syndicate discs, not all of the tracks were dark. Additionally, there were several other styles of music included with the orchestral instrumental songs we’re known for. These other tracks included rock, 80s-style goth, techno, and horrorcore! It was wild combination. Although I wrote the music, I utilized a lot of guest artists to capture the different styles. After that first disc, I knew I wanted to focus on just horror instrumental music and sound effects for the next one. Not only has horror been a part of just about everything I’ve ever done creatively but I also felt that orchestral instrumental music is what worked best for my vision for the band and what I enjoyed doing most. I approached a local gothic fantasy artist, Joseph Vargo to handle the CD design and marketing of the next disc which would be called “Born of the Night.” His artwork was a good match for the music. The first disc was more of a solo project and I was looking for a fellow songwriter and bandmate going forward. I approached my friend Gavin Goszka. We had met at our music store years earlier and shared a common love of the horror genre, the supernatural, as well as similar music tastes. Together Gavin and I wrote and arranged the music for “Born of the Night.” It’s a process we’ve done for every Midnight Syndicate CD since. In the studio, we were aided by engineer, Tim Blue, who helped with the mix and mastering. Another friend, Dan Owens contributed some of the sound design and Joseph added voiceovers. When we released “Born of the Night” in 1998, there wasn’t anything quite like it out there. Certainly no Halloween music CDs like it. At that time, no one had ever really taken Halloween music seriously. However, there was a demand for high quality, seriously dark atmosphere by fans of Halloween, professional haunted houses, and amusement parks. We filled that niche. The response to the disc was great. Things really took off. Even with the early success though, we couldn’t find a label or distributor. I had to go the indie label, self-distribution route. I began by cold-calling hundreds of stores, pitching the music and the band. It took a while, but we built our own international customer base and distribution network. We’re going on 16 years now, fourteen discs. It’s been a great ride.

Can you tell us a bit about your method of storytelling in music?

After we decide what the theme of the disc will be (i.e. a haunted asylum, dark carnival, vampire’s crypt), Gavin and I go off and immerse ourselves in that world. We’ll read books, do historical research, watch films, explore artwork and photography, etc. From there ideas for scenes, images, and characters just come and we begin to write music based around those things. One thing about our discs is that although we might hint at a story, everything we do is about allowing the listener determine what’s happening, what they’re seeing. Sure, we want to create as cool a pallete as possible for listeners to spark their imagination, but it’s up to them to take the disc and imagine what’s going on story-wise on their own. We love hearing how fans interpret the discs and songs.

How much research do you do on an era/subject when preparing to do an album?

As much as possible. I really enjoyed doing the research for “Carnival Arcane.” I read a lot of books on the history of traveling carnivals, talked to historians, etc. Our carnival is set in the early part of the 20th century (the heyday for traveling carnivals in the U.S.). I wanted the sounds and scenes we explored to to be as historically accurate as possible. For the song, “Carousel Ride,” I listened to as many classic carousels and mechanical instruments as I could. Then I did my best to recreate that. Gavin used his background in Victorian era music to write “Under the Big Top” which is pretty close to what you might hear at the carnival’s main event of the time. When the disc has a theme like our new disc (classic horror from the 30s/40s/60s), I try and immerse myself in films from that era. Doing the research really helps keep things consistent – and I enjoy it.

Do you have a favorite composer (classical or modern) that you draw inspiration from?

So many. Of course anyone who listens to our material will guess John Carpenter – you can hear that influence immediately. Danny Elfman is a huge influence for both Gavin and I. John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith are composers I listened to growing up. They inspired me to dream of scoring films and making this type of music. Other composers include: Hans Zimmer, James Bernard, Bernard Herman, and Elliot Goldenthal. James Horner’s soundtrack to “Aliens” is one of my all time favorites. We’re also influenced by heavy metal acts like Black Sabbath and King Diamond as well as bands like Dead Can Dance and Sisters of Mercy.

What are the craziest ideas fans have run by you?

We’ve gotten a lot over the years. Most of the crazy ideas are actually really good ones. From the day we began we’ve been hearing “Midnight Syndicate you gotta do a Christmas album!” That may sound crazy to some but it does have a lot of appeal to us. Christmans instrumentalists Mannheim Steamroller did a Halloween CD a few years back , I can see us crossing over and doing a dark version of a Christmas album in the future. We even have a fan who sketched out the artwork already. We really appreciate our fans. We definitely listen to them.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to the group while trying to record an album?

I think it was for “13th Hour,” Gavin had just moved to his new studio and we were recording the sound effects for the disc. We were running all these extension cords and microphone cables out the top floor of his window to the garage. Then we were out there smashing wood, glass, and dry wall. Also, we had Lily Lane on that disc – not screaming – well, yeah… screaming, moanining, and making strange noises. We had a few neighbors coming by. We used real swords for the sound effects on the “Dungeons & Dragons” soundtrack, that was kind of fun, took a chunk out of the wall. It wasn’t hillarious at the time but looking back at it now it’s kind of funny.

You and Gavin took a hiatus for the next cd – Can you tell us about what we’ll see next?

2012 was a crazy year. We were working on the new CD when I got called in to score the horror film, Bunyan. It’s a fun, grindhouse-type horror film about the American folklore character, Paul Bunyan, except in this scenario, Paul’s got a big blood-soaked axe and is running around in the woods, chasing unfortunate teenagers. Classic beer and pizza movie – a lot of fun, especially for fans of creature features. Scoring the film was fun and fans can expect some sounds they haven’t heard from Midnight Syndicate before in there. We’ll be releasing a soundtrack CD along with the movie when it comes out late next year.
Our main focus now is on the next Midnight Syndicate CD. It’s called “Monsters of Legend” and it’s a tribute to the great Universal Monster films from the 30s and 40s as well as the Hammer Films, Amicus, and other European horror films of the late-50s, 60s, and early 70s. We are really excited about this one! Most of the tracks are already written and we just finalized the song list a week ago. Sonically I think that we’ve taken things up another notch. We can’t wait to release this one. It will be out in mid-2013, well before Halloween.
There are also a few other really cool projects in the works right now that I hope pan out. We should have more information on those in the next several months. As always, folks can visit us on Facebook, Twitter, our our website to keep find out the latest or hear samples of our music.

Sinister Seven: Phantasm’s Angus Scrimm

Posted in It Came from Another Magazine! on November 17, 2016 by The Horror In Blog

Writer, director, and producer Don Coscarelli was well ahead of his time when fathoming Phantasm back in 1974. It was a film that tackled multiple phobias not the least of which included abandonment, bereavement, and separation anxiety. Above all, we, the audience, were reminded that ‘death’ was not a slasher, but a stalker. A stalker, that we will all inevitably meet. Of course, death’s personification – the tall man – demanded some theatricality: He bled yellow, commanded silver spheres which could fly through the air and drill into peoples heads, and his agenda was to abduct the dead and turn them into his personal army of zombie dwarves. As a child I made the mistake of watching Phantasm II, and every night thereafter I lay awake in bed as the words “You think that when you die, you go to heaven. You come to US!” echoed through my head as I imagined my eventual demise, and then, no release of an afterlife, but, instead, a swift transfer to some undead oompa-loompa retail chain to lumber after some ice cream truck driver for the rest of my days. The Tall Man was as rich and charismatic a figure as the story itself. He may not be the most well known of the horror icons, but he commands respect with strut of his plat-formed shoes. Almost 40 years later his talent and performance led to the creation of four Phantasm films with fans still begging for a 5th installment. I am proud to say that Angus Scrimm was my first interview at the Weekend of Horrors in Bottrop, Germany.

You wrote liner notes and were a journalist before you turned to acting?
Angus Scrimm:  In the late 1950’s I was working on TV Guide magazine’s Los Angeles programming pages for $50 a week,  writing the brief squibs that told you what Lucy and Desi, or Matt Dillon, were doing on their shows at night.  To better my income, I answered a blind ad in the Times for a freelance writer that led to occasional assignments from Capitol Records writing  LP album notes.  Ultimately I left TV Guide and went on staff full time at Capitol attending recording sessions and writing liner notes for their great stars of the day; Sinatra, Nat Cole, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Jo Stafford, Miles Davis, the Beach Boys, the Beatles — on and on.

What exactly is a liner note?
AS:  A liner  is simply the explanatory matter on the back of an LP jacket or in the compact disc booklet.  A pop liner note is essentially advertising copy which talks about the artist and the music in the most glowing terms to lure the  store customer into purchasing the record on the spot.  A classical music note is lengthier, scholarly, informative and analytical and designed to provide information that will enhance the listening experience.  Of course, nowadays Compact Disc booklets, especially for box sets, often contain reams of  well-researched material for all genres of music.  Capitol produced pop, jazz, rock, blues, country and western, folk, religious, spoken, and with its Angel and EMI labels classical releases, and I wrote for them all, switching exclusively to classical after ten years to work with their   formidable array of superb instrumental virtuosos, conductors, singers —  Itzhak Perlman, Christopher Parkening, Andre Previn, Barbirolli, Rostropovich, Du Pre, Richter, Gilels, Callas, Domingo, Sills  —  it doesn’t end.  Capitol was genially tolerant of my acting proclivities and gave me a month’s vacation with pay to go off to play George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” at the Edinburgh Festival in 1967, and,  as long as I got my editorial duties done, to be absent as needed to film “Phantasm II”  in 1987/88.  So sometimes when you see the Tall Man staring moodily into the camera, he’s actually thinking  of  Itzhak Perlman and the Beethoven Concerto.

You must have quite an education in music then?
AS: I got far more of an education from Capitol Records. As a child in the 1930’s Depression Era, I managed to scrounge together a meager collection of used 78’s — Crosby, MacDonald and Eddy, Heifetz — and took violin lessons on my dad’s old pawnshop violin — he’d been a barn dance fiddler in his early years.

That’s right, you had a violin scene in ‘I Sell the Dead’!
AS: Correct. Funny thing. I was in New York for the premiere of Jim McKenney’s “The Off Season” and visited Glass Eye Pix producer Larry Fessenden’s home. While he and Becky were busy with rehearsal’s for Larry’s annual marionette production of “A Christmas Carol” their son Jack entertained me with his piano playing and asked me if I played. I told him about my five years of violin lessons, an admission he passed on to his dad. Larry went to Glenn McQuaid who was finalizing the script for “I Sell the Dead” and said, “‘We’ve got to add a scene with Angus playing the violin!” I was aghast. I had five weeks before I was scheduled to return to New York for Glenn’s picture and spent them restudying the violin. I was lucky enough to get a couple of lessons with Mitch Newman of the L.A. Philharmonic string section before he and the orchestra went East for concerts. Mitch reminded me how to hold a violin, hold the bow, and do the fingerings and then left me with a book of basic violin methods. I practiced two to six hours a day in my bathroom where I thought nobody could hear me. Unfortunately my next door neighbors could hear me all too painfully. That nice lady subsequently confided, “I said to my husband what on earth does he think he’s doing?” That’s me you hear on the movie soundtrack. Fortunately clear heads prevailed and a professional violinist was hired to play the melody on the compact disc of Jeff Grace’s beautiful “I Sell the Dead” score.

You’ve done four films and the radio play serioes ‘Tales From Beyond the Pale’ with Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix. How did you get involved with Glass Eye Pix?

AS:  James Felix McKenney as a youth had greatly admired “Phantasm.”  In “The Off Season,” his first film for Glass Eye, he had a part for a retired rodeo cowboy and thought of Lance Henrickson or me.  Their budget was slim, I was scheduled to do a Chiller convention in New Jersey while Jim was filming, saving Jim them my air fare back East, so I got the first offer. I liked the script, loved the role, said yes.  We filmed in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, with a superlatively talented cast and crew —  I worked on the film two or three days with the radiant New York actresses Christina Campanella and Brenda Cooney, Don Wood, Ruth Kuhlerman, Fessenden himself, and   they filmed the whole neat little ghost  movie in nine days.  That experience led to the role of the Scientist in Jim’s mini-phenomenon “Automatons,” a micro-budget, critically extolled anti-war film in which the human race has been all but eliminated by  endless warfare leaving robots to carry on the fighting,  and to “Satan Hates You,”  “I Sell the Dead,”  and Graham Reznick’s “The Grandfather” in the “Beyond the Pale” series.  I’m most fortunate  McKenney and Fessenden brought me into the Glass Eye cauldron of brilliant young East Coast filmmakers.  In addition to McKenney’s oeuvre and Fessenden’s own “Habit,” “No Telling,”  “Wendigo,”  “The Last Winter” etc., the company has recently brought forth such diverse winnere as “Wendy and Lucy,” “Bitter Feast,”  “I Can See You,”  “I Sell the Dead,” “Stakeland,” and the  Ti West threesome of thrillers “The Roost,”  “The House of the Devil”  and “The Innkeepers.”

How do you get into character to play ‘The Tall Man’?
AS:  I’ve done the Tall Man so many times that it’s like, to use the apt cliche, stepping into comfortable old shoes.  I don the black suit and tall boots and the Tall Man materializes, takes me over and plays himself.  I’ suspect that when a Robert DeNiro does “Raging Bull,” he must do formidable preparation.  My prep usually is to read the script through, memorize the dialogue, and as I am memorizing and thinking about mine and the other characters’ lines and actions, my character forms spontaneously  That was true of Buddy, for example, in Coscarelli’s “Incident on and Off a Mountain Road.”   In the 1970’s/80s,  I studied with Stella Adler, famous acting teacher of Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty,  countless others.  Stella offered a class in which she’d take a script — a Clifford Odets play, perhaps — and analyze every sentence of the dialogue word by word including even the articles “a,” “an,” and “the,” seeking depths of meaning in each.  I think that that, to a degree, is the way a lot of actors instinctively work.    You get the  the characterization from the lines.    In a well written script, it’s all there on the page.    But I don’t advise obsessing over the “a”s, “an”s and “the”s.
Can you give us any insight into the character Jebediah Morningside (The Tall Man) from the Phantasm series?
Scrimm:  Certainly.   From an early age Jebediah Morningside hated his name.  First of all “Jebediah” was Biblical and he himself was a confirmed atheist, and “Morningside” was also the name of all the family cemeteries, for God’s sake.  To shed that identity, he pretended to be a battlefield doctor in Civil War skirmishes he restaged at considerable expense on the back acres of his estate.  When that failed to help, he donned a severe black suit, and sometimes a lavender dress, and went about the countryside in a schizophrenic rage exhuming corpses, murdering people, and destroying whole towns, known — and this was the therapeutic factor — only as the Tall Man.

Do you own any piece of memorabilia from the ‘Phantasm’ series that you’re particularly proud of?
AS:  Bob Ivy. a stuntman on “Phantasm III,”  performed one of the greatest car stunts in the history of movies on that picture.  Strapped at the wheel of a hearse, Bob raced it down the road  at incredible speed to a prearranged collision spot where it was propelled into a spectacular air flight that seemed endless, flipped, and landed with a sickening crunch.  Miraculously Bob was extricated uninjured but a little dazed.  Before he was taken off to a hospital for a safety check, he was asked, “Bob, can we get you anything?”  Bob said, “well, could I have a silver sphere?” So the silver sphere designer on that picture Carey Pryor made a special sphere for Bob and presented it to him.    Several years later —  before he racked up a couple of notable acting credits himself as “Phantasm IV’s” Demon Cop and the “Bubba-Ho-Tep” Mummy — Bob insisted upon giving his sphere to me, saying only “I think you should have this.”   It’s still with me and I treasure it because it’s the only silver sphere I have and there aren’t many authentic ones around now, discounting the commercial replicas, but also because Bob gave it to me.   I’d give it back in a minute though, if he ever asked me for it.

If there was a fifth ‘Phantasm’ besides Catherine Zeta Jones playing a mate for the Tall Man what would you like to see in it?
AS:  I’d like to see a story with all the sparkle and inventiveness of the first “Phantasm,” and it would HAVE to be made with Coscarelli’s creative genius behind it.  I would like to see the original cast reunited, plus as many of the exceptional talents who joined us in later installments as the plot would accommodate, and I still think Catherine Zeta Jones would  be terrific.

Who do you think would win in a fight to the death: Reggie or the Tall Man?
AS: Reggie Bannister?   If it came to grips, all I would have to do is offer Reggie a beer and he’d calm down like a puppy.

Let me rephrase that: The ice cream man, or the super-human mortician?
AS:  The Tall Man is allergic to cold.  All Reggie need do is find a way to bury him beneath a mountain of Rocky Road.    I’d love trying to eat my way out of that situation!

If you could change anything about the horror film industry, what would it be?   
AS:  I’m sure many things could be done to change the horror film industry for the better, but I honestly can’t think of anything I particularly object to.  I like it the way it is: a nice community of extremely friendly, mutually supportive people —  and that includes the fans —   an amiable little society to belong to. I wish we had bigger budgets. Be nice to see some of those super rich folks who endow art galleries, symphony orchestras and universities with millions of dollars siphon off a little loot to help Coscarelli get “Phantasm V,” “Bubba-Ho-Tep II” and some other projects off the ground, and Fessenden, McKenney and the other terrific talents at Glass Eye and Monsterpants get their films into production.  A recent Oscar show did a montage tribute to horror films and their villains (no, the Tall Man didn’t make the cut but he was glad to see Chucky there) and another Oscars saluted Roger  Corman with Life Achievement.    How about seating Corman in the Kennedy Center Honors balcony alongside the deserving Streeps, YoYo Mas, Rollinses and the  President and First Lady?  I forget — have they or have they not yet acknowledged Stephen King?  Ray Bradbury?  I demand more respect!  Where do I go to Occupy?

Dawn of the Dead: 35 Years Later

Posted in It Came from Another Magazine! on November 17, 2016 by The Horror In Blog
Image courtesy of 'Ghoulish' Gary Pullin

Image courtesy of ‘Ghoulish’ Gary Pullin

Thirty-five years before the world went Gonkers, director George A. Romero released Dawn of the Dead, a film depicting four people taking shelter in a mall while attempting to evade a mysterious plague where dead people come back to life and kill other people, creating a large undead army. The world is shown spiraling out of control, with looters, renegade police, and politicians so busy disagreeing with their opposition about what’s causing the problem, that no solution is ever reached.

In spite of the fact that it was banned in some countries, and cut for censorship everywhere else, the film received mostly roaring praise, most notably from the late Roger Ebert who said, “Nobody ever said art had to be in good taste!” Today, Dawn of the Dead is still acclaimed as one of the best cult movies of all time, having launched the careers of all associated with it: including Tom Savini (Friday the 13th, Creepshow), and Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead.); as well as having inspired the Zombie Apocalypse trends we see today. Actors Scott Reiniger (Roger), Jim Krut (Helicopter Zombie), Leonard Lies (Machete Zombie), and Joe Pilato (Renegade Cop) join Rue Morgue from the Weekend of Horrors at the Turbinenhall in Oberhausen, Germany to reminisce about the film that started it all.

How did you get the part?

Scott Reiniger: I was an actor in New York and it was the first film I ever did. Before I had done some commercials, and classical stage work. One day I received a call from George Romero’s then girlfriend, Christine, “You know George Romero?” I said “Sure I know him from Night of the Living Dead” and she said “Well he’s auditioning for this new film called Dawn of the Dead and would you like to come in and audition? Geroge was very relaxed and down to earth, and he liked what I did at the first audition, but I could tell there was something quizzical in his eyes and so he called me back and said, “That was really good.” but I could hear the ‘but’ in his voice and said “Yeah?” and he said “I got a problem cause I’m planning on casting this guy who you would be working with as a character who’s probably twice your size.” I said, “George I don’t think the audience is gonna give a shit about that after the first 5 minutes,” and he laughed because my take on the character was not really quite what he envisioned. He envisioned a more rough-hewn, Nick Nolte kind of person for Roger.

Jim Krut: I got the part because I lived in Pittsburg, and Tom Savini and I had gone to college and worked together in theater. After college, I was in the army for three years as a medic in Vietnam, and Tom Savini was a photographer in Vietnam so we had very similar experiences. After Vietnam, I moved back to Pittsburgh, and one day I ran back into Tom. We got reacquainted, and he took me to the school where he was teaching make up and special effects, Carnegie Melon University, and then sometime later he called me and said “Jim I have this great role for you. You know George Romero who made Night of the Living Dead?” I said sure, and Tom said, “Well he’s making another movie called Dawn of the Dead and I’ve got a great role you.” Tom did the make up and special effects, took a cast of my head. This was done over a two week period in his workshop which was in the basement of his family home. The first time we did took the mold the plaster cracked so we had to do it again, that’s why it took two weeks. From there, I was on set for two days. The second day Tom did the helicopter shot, and that was only on one take.

Leonard Lies: I was working on the film as a grip, and one night we were waiting for the actors to come onto the set, and the director, George Romero, happened to be standing next to me, and I said, “George I’d like to play a zombie,” cause some of the other crew members were becoming involved as either bikers, or zombies, and we were near to the end of the shoot, and I really wanted to be considered. He said, “Go upstairs, and see what they have,” and upstairs, on the 2nd floor of the Monroeville Mall was the community room where we met to prepare for the days work. (In this case, the night’s work.) I went upstairs, and there was one person in the community room, in the casting area, his name was John Amplas who played Martin, and also in DOD and I said, “Hey John, Geroge told me to come up and see what you have.” Out of the darkness, John pulled this machete with a shape cut into it for his head. We started talking about it, and he said, “You go ahead and take it.” I said, “Really? Cause I don’t wanna be shot,” I didn’t like the idea of being shot. He said, “No do it, I’ve done so many extra parts that it’s okay.” You couldn’t just do that in a film today -Like just tell someone to go ahead and be in the movie. Twenty-four hours later, to the moment, I was doing the scene with Tom Savini where I knock him off his motorcycle, he becomes very upset with me, runs at me, kicks me in the chest, knocks me down to the floor. I start to get back up, grab him by the leg. As I’m gonna’ go in for the bite, he pulls a machete out of his boot, and says the magical line, “Say goodbye creep!” Then of course he hits me in the head with a machete, at least figuratively speaking in movie terms. The producer’s wife took magnificent photos.

Joe Pilato: I originally flew from Pittsburgh, to New York cause and auditioned for Scott Reiniger’s, or David Emge’s role, and they had four seats like the inside of a helicopter, and we did one of the scenes. I think it was either that I was the same size as Scott Reiniger, or not tall enough to be the helicopter pilot, I can’t remember which it was, but I ended up doing the loading dock scene. It got cut in the American version, and when Dario Argento put the black box together, fortunately he put the entire scene back in.

What’s your favorite scene in Dawn of the Dead (1974)?

SR: Going into the basement of the tenement building and seeing all the zombies in a cage.

JK: I like the scenes in the movie where Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, David Emge, and Gaylen Ross are together and the combination of involvement that they have the empathy they portray, the characters they have and I think they just do such a wonderful job of capturing it. There are so many moments that knowing what it took to produce them like Tom Savini drives a motorcycle through a glass window. Well it’s not actually glass, it’s simulated glass. It’s a material that looks clear, but they made it too thick, and Tom Savini almost got killed driving through the glass because it was so hard. He thought it would move like a curtain but it didn’t. There’s also the difficulty that people went through. When Tom Savini fell off a balcony, if it didn’t look right or didn’t feel right he went and re-did the shot, and did it again. So the amount of dedication people had, throughout the movie for me even being a part of it is still amazing because I worked a lot in theatre, and in theatre you work very closely with every individual. In films you might do a scene and nobody else is around, like my scenes at the airport. I was not at the mall, so I didn’t see what everybody else did, but there was that comradery and dedication to the art that I felt in theatre, and to me is one of the strengths of acting.

LL: When David Emge finally appears as a zombie. His zombie is unforgettable. It wasn’t just being a zombie. He was acting, contorting his body, and showed he was a wonderful actor without saying a word. Little known fact: Although Flyboy was a clumsy idiot in the film; he was the only actor of the three men who could really shoot a gun, because he was a Vietnam veteran.

JP: Tom Savini going off the balcony during the biker scene.

What did you do to prepare for your role?

SR: I did a lot. I mean I was a really well trained actor so I had to break down the script and do all those preparation techniques: figure out the beats and the conflicts and on and on and on. I decided Roger was an ex-marine sharpshooter, and that after the service, the only work he could possibly do was police and/or swat work because he liked to live on the edge. The job provides stimulation and lots of adrenaline for him, and he prides himself on being able to the control things. In the movie what happens is that he starts to lose control, starts to slip, and then a spring goes loose in his head and he starts to fracture.

JK: I used to work in repertory theatre, and we would carry seven plays with us as we traveled different parts of the United States. We did shows in Scotland. Sometimes the plays would run an hour and a half; sometimes the promoter would say we could only run an hour, so we would edit the plays. So I was very used to a lot of quick preparation, quick changes, adapting to whatever happens. For this role, I had no exposure to any of the other filming that was done, or how it was done, or where it was done. I didn’t know what the other zombies looked like, how they acted or moved. I remember asking Tom Savini on set, “Do these zombies talk or say anything?” and he said, “Do whatever you wanna do. You can be your own zombie.” I liked that. So my experience, in terms of being a zombie, stemmed from some of the earlier films and references, such as the Haitian zombies, or Night of the Living Dead. However, George Romero never called them zombies he just called them the undead. So we didn’t say I don’t wanna be a zombie like that. I just did my own thing, my own interpretation.

JP: George makes things easy for people. Ninety percent of your preparation is in the script. Of course, I was playing a renegade cop with visceral hatred for the cop mentality. It was pretty easy, because we weren’t too far away from 1960s radicalism, so it was easy to find the emotional center to being mean, rude, and enjoying intimidating people with a firearm.

Did you draw any inspiration from Night of the Living Dead (1968) at all?

SR: No. I knew the movie, but I didn’t watch it to prepare for the part.

JK: Yes and no, and I’ll tell you why because when I was asked to do the role, Tom Savini said Night of the Living Dead, so I had a picture in my mind of what the movie was, and what the undead moved like, but my role was not to imitate, it was to create. A lot of people, when they do theater they say ‘Lets look at the movie of it’ and try to imitate that character perhaps and I said, I don’t wanna watch the movie I wanna read the script, and I wanna understand the character. So that’s what I brought to it, a kind of perspective of, “there’s never been one like this and there never will be again.” So I’ll be me as the zombie in me.

LL: When I was 12 I saw Night of the Living Dead with three of my friends, and I laughed through the whole film. It’s not that it wasn’t scary, but somehow, intuitively, I knew that they got it right. I thought, wow this is great: real, flesh-eating zombies and there was a kind of a texture, a rawness to it that I loved. In that sense Night of the Living Dead propelled me. I had always loved monster films like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman. I also thought vampires were really exciting creatures, but there was something about these zombies existing by some other cause than voodoo. I don’t think I realized it then, but Night of the Living Dead inspired me to keep loving monsters, and also to get a resume together when Dawn of the Dead was being made, and to present it to the director. I had a wonderful talk with George Romero and a week later I was hired.

What was it like working with director George Romero?

SR: It was great working with George cause he’s incredibly organized, very low-key, and he gives you a lot of space as an actor. If you have an idea, he’ll try it out.

JK: I liked George. I loved watching him work. I would say it was kind of a soft direction. He knew what he wanted and everybody seemed to understand what George wanted. There was not a lot of “I need you to do this!” or “Do this now!” He was very casual. In terms of my scene, Tom had done all the preparation, and the lay out, and I think he explained it all to George what was going to happen. I think George may have directed the sequence where I come out from under the airplane wing. However, when it came to the actual Helicopter sequence I think he turned that over to Tom, to direct the helicopter sequence. George was fantastic in terms of the overall picture, in terms of working with people, and he’s been described as a great big teddy bear of a guy: Someone you can understand, or share a beer, or a cup of coffee with.

JP: George is an actors dream. He knows exactly what he wants yet he gives you the ability to make your choices: In Day of the Dead, Rhodes didn’t say anything when he died. He just got torn in half, and that was it. Before shooting that scene, I turned to George and I said, I don’t think Rhodes is going out this way, and George said, “Well, don’t forget: You’re being torn in half,” and I said, “Yeah, but I’m Rhodes,” and George asked, “Well what would you like to say?” and I said, “I’m a little embarrassed to say it out loud let me whisper it in your ear.” I whispered, “Choke on em’!” and he bent back, looked at me, and said, “Yeah! But remember: It’s one take, and you better hit it!” Now it’s a memorable line, and fans always ask for it.

Because the Monroeville Mall was being used during Christmas season the cast and crew kept odd hours: What was it like on set?

SR: It was kind of strange because we had to shoot the interiors at night and what was strange about it was sleeping during the day and shooting all night long and there were zombie extras all over the place. It was like being in the Twilight Zone. Then we’d come out in the morning and it’s just getting light we’d go to the hotel and then go to sleep and then do that day after day after day. It was a very eerie feeling, out of time out of space kind of feeling.

JK: I was not at the mall and all of my scenes were done in daylight at the Monroeville Airport. The airport was nothing but a grassy runway strip, a couple ramshackle buildings, and a little block building that was used for the setting where Ken goes in, hits the coffee machine, and shoots the zombie children. There was really nothing more to that then a couple of gas pumps. A few years ago, I did a show in Pittsburgh and part of it, was going to the Monroeville Mall and leading groups of fans through there. On another day of that event, we visited the airport and that was my first time back there in about thirty years. The ramshackle building was still there, the grassy strip was still there, the block building was still there, but we couldn’t go inside. Instead of two gas pumps there was one gas pump, and it was amazing how many people on the buses wanted to get their picture taken with the gas pump.

LL: Well, when you’re working on a film it doesn’t really feel like odd-hours because we would have worked day, or night, or any other hour. It became a pattern: I would drive in at 8pm, at 9pm the mall music would shut off via satellite. Then we would do setups and sound recording. We couldn’t do sound recording with the music playing. At 7am the music would come back on, so we had to be done with synchronous sound recordings by that time. We also sometimes kept working if there was an action scene.

JP: It was pretty crazy because we’d work at night, and even though you’d say you got enough sleep during the day, adrenaline, and coffee were what really kept us going.

How do you feel about today’s Zombie Apocalypse trend in mainstream culture?

SR: It makes me laugh. It’s funny whenever somebody brings that up and I ask “Do you really believe in zombies?” and some people say “Oh yeah!” I don’t know if they’re putting me on. I hear Max Brooks does seminars where he’s totally straight about that. I think the idea that it’s going to happen is a fun thought for people.

JK: The rising tide floats all boats. That includes the social context, survival aspects, and the threat. In terms of survivalism, apocalyptic scenarios, homeland security, and even the center for disease control, people in these groups pick up on the trend and say, “Here is an avenue by which I can get my message across to the population.”

People won’t necessarily listen to a government plea to keep three weeks of water and food in your home; or to stock up on ammunition for self-sufficiency. There’s a show called ‘Doomsday Preppers,’ about people who build caverns, caves, walls, or forts, and stock them with things like swimming pools that they can use to create drinking water. It makes you think “Oh my God they’re getting ready for something!” Getting ready for death is turning into a great business: I had a sociology professor who once said, “Don’t believe everything you see in terms of advertising and promotion. Otherwise you would be going to buy (at that time) a nuclear fallout shelter because the world is going to end in two weeks… and we have seven years of easy payments.”

As someone who does a lot of camping, when there’s a black out I know what to do. For a lot of people, who are so dependent on the modern conveniences of cell phones, electricity, and running water, they’re completed stumped. They think their world has come to an end. So an apocalypse for some people is camping and roughing it for others, and for, others still, my mother lives in an Amish area in Pennsylvania. They don’t have electricity, grow their own food, make their own clothing, keep their own animals, and don’t drive cars, but horse-drawn buggies. If there’s a news or electricity black out, for the Amish, living in that lifestyle is not an apocalypse. I think an apocalypse, may refer to an invasion of people looting and scavenging for the basic essentials.

LL: I’m doing a film now called zombie culture, exploring the whole zombie phenomenon, but I haven’t come to any conclusions yet. I think it has to do with us as a race that we’re getting to a point where we consume so much that we’re not going leave anything behind to consume except ourselves, and that could mean internally or externally.

Zombies always represent an impending threat, but it’s not always about them. It used to be nuclear arms during the Cold War, its all we thought of as kids we thought: We’re going to get bombed! That’s kind of dovetailed into zombies. That’s the new threat. I think that we’re all dealing with the threat of, maybe not an apocalyptic end, but, a very painful end to our existence. So we try to face it in our own mirror, which is dressing up like a zombie. However, some of it is just that we want to socialize with other people. Maybe we’re a little shy, and we don’t have a place where our ego gets stroked enough. So we go out as zombies and congregate with like-minded people and have some fun.

JP: I’m not quite sure what it’s supposed to be about, but I know it goes back to some deep mythological auras about life and death that George has tapped into the fundamental reality of life and death where if there’s not a Heaven, and there’s not a Hell, then there is certainly this other thing, that happens to people.

Do you participate in zombie culture any way? (ex. Zombie Walks, zombie-themed literature.)

SR: Only if it’s at a convention – Otherwise, no. I do see some very fun funny things that my friends do. Like paying $25 for a zombie run, or hunt zombies in a forest setting. I think that’s a hoot.

JK: I’ve done two zombie walks. One was a few weeks ago in Flint, Michigan, which was a lot of fun. However, I didn’t actually do the walk; I was too busy talking with fans. The next thing I knew, the walk took off. I said, “Wow, how long is it going to last?” They replied, “The first people are coming back.” So I missed it altogether. I did one in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and they said it was going to be the world’s largest zombie walk, for the Guinness book of world records. I was stuck in the convention center so I couldn’t do the walk, and most people didn’t come into the convention center. I thought it was great. We’ve got pictures of the world’s largest turn out of zombies. I don’t see it as apocalyptic. I see it as a group of people with an affinity for the art, for the idea.

LL: I do a lot of shows, but I don’t do zombie walks. I go to events where zombie walks are involved. In a way it’s exciting. What do zombies do? They try to eat living human flesh, and in most of the zombie walks they’re raising food for people in food banks allowing them to survive. So those Zombies Walks flip cause people are actually helping other people, and food banks are getting more food on the shelves cause people are bringing food to contribute during the walks. I think that’s a nice and humanitarian thing to do.

JP: Whatever floats your boat! When I was a kid everyone had a garage band, and thought they were The Beatles, so I think it certainly is an expression of something.

Do you feel the film’s political statements regarding society vs. survivalism are still relevant today?

SR: Oh yeah! I think the satire of consumerism remains. I think after we’re done consuming everything on the planet that the only thing left to do is consume each other. It’s still relevant.

JK: Everything about it is still relevant today. You can read a social message into any film, whether it’s there or not. I think in the case of Dawn of the Dead there are some social messages. There were controversies. At the end of the film there was a black man surviving with a white woman, and at the time there were a lot of racial conflicts in the United States – not that those conflicts have completely gone away. Although today, I don’t think people will have a full appreciation for the social aspects and the political aspects of that time like the riots on the streets in the 1970s and things that were leading up to them in the 1960s. All those aspects of social unrest were happening.

LL: I don’t think George ever purposely put in any kind of issues or political undertone. He didn’t plan it. It just kind of happened. The film was a bit ahead of it’s time, and it was only the second film ever that discussed abortion clearly in a film. (The first was Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965) with Steve McQueen.) When Flygirl is pregnant, Peter asks Flyboy, “Do you want me to take care of it?” They were talking about abortion. I don’t the film dealt with things in terms of political issues, but social ones. Some of the social issues were being dealt with. What was wonderful was that George allowed characters that were African American to be in the lead role. Again, I don’t think he did that cause it was political or social. He thought about what was best for the script, what made it believable, and whether the actors played their roles realistically. I think that’s why AMC’s The Walking Dead works so well today because it feels believable.

JP: Yes, and I think those statements are overlooked. I think one of the successes of Dawn of the Dead was the political relevancy, and the fact that after thirty-five years, these still attract a fan base, and we’re still seeing many resurrections of Dawn of the Dead, and I assume that audiences are consuming those ideas.

What was the funniest thing that happened to you while filming DOD?

SR: The scene where I slid down the escalator in Dawn of the Dead was unscripted. It was scripted that my character run down the escalator and I turned to George and asked “What if I slid down instead?” and George gave me a look and said “Okay.” and I said just have someone stay at the bottom and spot me. It was just a one take thing and it was so much fun.

JK: The terror I had at the idea that we were going to be at that airport for two days, and after the first day passed, my scene wasn’t done. I figured my chances of being in the film were cut by fifty-percent. The really good part was I was working in Pittsburgh, and, Have you heard of the starving artist? Well, that was definitely me. Theater and acting, in terms of income, is somewhat hit and miss. However, they had craft services, this food vendor, and for a starving actor, all my time was spent there, stocking up on all the good nutrients, proteins, minerals and vitamins that I needed to successfully do the role.

LL: On the night we filmed the final scene where the helicopter flies into the dawn, the wind was blowing turbulently that night. The rest of the grips and I were forced to wear almost four layers of clothing, and had to physically stand on top of the light stand, with sandbags on it, so it wouldn’t fly away. So we had three or four lights, three or four people, holding the lights down with sandbags for dear life, so we could shoot this final scene where they fly off into the dawn.

There was an actor named Pat Buba who played one of the cyclists when we threw pies during the biker raid scene. All the bikers were running around slapping pies into every zombie’s face. It was very chaotic. Buba was nearsighted like me, and ran and hit a zombie in the face with a pie, and they have these big columns at the mall. He ran right into them, flush, and he bounced off and landed on the floor. When it happened, we all went, “Oh my God!” We kind of laughed, but we all felt bad.

When filming the ending to Dawn of the Dead, there’s a scene where Ken Foree decides to not commit suicide, and he fights his way through the zombie horde to make his way to the helicopter. Ken was a big guy, and he had all this energy. Well, Ken got carried away. He didn’t pull some of his punches, and was knocking people on the ground for real.

JP: Slapping white-face on hundreds of zombies alongside a young Greg Nicotero, who was cutting his teeth and learning about the business.

Thirty-five years later, what do you think makes Dawn of the Dead so special?

SR: I think it’s the combination of the fact that it’s a horror film but it’s built on real human relationships with the four characters, and because people identify with being trapped and having to answer the question, “What would you do if you were trapped?” Whether it’s zombies, or something else, and you have to survive, what would you do? I think some ruminate on that. Plus all the blood and the gore.

JK: The special draw of Dawn of the Dead depends on the individual. There are so many ardent fans that were not born when the film was made. Was it the remake? I don’t know. There’s something about the characters the story the way its told, You can visually appreciate it it’s engaging, it keeps moving forward it keeps your attention it doesn’t become boring because it’s so groundbreaking people didn’t know what to expect. I’ve talked to people who’ve watched it 50 times, or over 100 times. Why do they keep coming back to it? There’s a special message to them.

Not to digress, but a few weeks ago Jeremy Ambler from the Walking Dead did a convention with me called Pennsylvania Sci-Fi Valley Con, did a panel called Walking Like A Zombie. Jeremy spoke about what it was like to have been a zombie in AMC’s The Walking Dead, and I spoke about the training and preparation that I had for Dawn of the Dead. In the history of zombies in film, first we had these slow moving zombies, then came an era of fast moving zombies, and now it’s moved back to slow-moving walkers in AMC’s The Walking Dead. We had 60 people at that seminar doing their interpretations of zombies. There’s a special slowness and a better visual understanding of who that person was. In the remake, hands come out of the darkness, a blur faces and moving feet, and other fast moving zombies don’t quite have that identification factor. I think the authentic characteristic of these zombies is that they could be anybody, and that makes them more sympathetic. Audiences identify with them more, and that’s what keeps them coming back.

LL: I think it’s one of those classic films that just keeps on giving back. It has so many great moments in it, and I think that’s what makes a film, regardless of it’s genre. To me, the most dramatic moment is when Scott Reiniger’s character dies, and he says, “I’m going to try not to come back,” and he says it with such pain and conviction in his voice. I saw in not too long ago in a theater and I thought it was such good acting. To me the those little special moments. It’s some people’s favorite film, not horror film, just film and I understand why. If you’re a horror fan, if you like zombies, then Dawn of the Dead is like the perfect cup of tea, or the perfect first film: You will fall in love with zombies for the rest of your life.

JP: I think it was the desperate plight to stay alive against staggering odds against you, (Much like nuclear, terrorist, biological threats.) and I think it will still strike a chord in peoples’ hearts today.

Sinister Seven: Delivery’s Brian Netto and Adam Schindler

Posted in It Came from Another Magazine! on November 17, 2016 by The Horror In Blog

Delivery is a game changer to the found-footage subgenre. Concealed under the premise of a giddy, daytime-television series exploring the adventures of a pregnant couple, Delivery, instead, mercilessly drags us down the path of a pregnancy gone demonically wrong. Currently hailed as a modern rendition of Rosemary’s Baby, and the newest installment from Anchor Bay, Delivery was recently screened at Rue Morgue’s Cinemacabre Movie Nights. Writer/Director Brian Netto and Producer/Co-Writer Adam Schindler join us to discuss how they pulled off their diabolical theatrical debut.

Filmmakers are giving all kinds of sub-genres found-footage makeovers. What was your interest in the demonic pregnancy sub-genre?

BN: The real interest in doing the story the way we did it was the reality television show angle. We loved the idea of taking something that was very much not like a horror film – a reality TV show – and showing a reality show the way they are in the U.S. – very upbeat, very bright – and slowly turning that into a horror film. That was really the goal. When we figured out what the supernatural issue was going to be we found this was the best way to go about it. We didn’t want to mimic Rosemary’s Baby too closely, but it felt like something people would understand.

I loved watching stuff that Ti West was able to do: Slow-burn films that lull you into a false sense of security, and bring you into a world where you’re not exactly sure what ground you’re on. A lot of times a film will start off with a cold opening and they’ll tell you you’re watching a vampire film, or a zombie film, or a ghost story. With us, it was a matter of saying, “We’re gonna take you some place dark,” but we really loved the idea of playing with peoples expectations, and, a lot of times, from people who have seen Delivery we’ve gotten audience reactions such as, “I got so far into the reality show that I forgot it was going to go bad,” and that transition was our goal. I am a really big fan of films that take their time, set up the characters, and lets you get to know them before you put them in peril. You have to give a shit about them before you put them in the ringer. So it was about the format, and the transition, more than it was the demonic pregnancy. It was really the transitioning.

AS: Given the format, I think it was important that people could grasp the idea of what the entity was right off the bat, and you wouldn’t have to go into a bunch of explanation. People are already very familiar with the demon type of entity. They’ve seen it on film, they’ve read about it in books, and they permeate most horror films. This makes it easier for us to tell the story of these characters, and get into the question: Is Rachel crazy, is she not crazy? Is this really happening, or is it not happening?

 Possession films are currently popular; were you looking more towards more modern movies with this theme, the cycle of films in the ’70s that featured evil offspring (there have been comparisons to Rosemary’s Baby), or neither?

AS: We were well aware of Rosermary’s Baby going into this. There’s no way you could not be. We wrote Delivery before the first Paranormal Activity came out. So we had this idea where a reality show would basically turn into Rosemary’s Baby. We said, “Let’s do this. This is exciting!” However, at that point in time, there hadn’t been anything like it. The only films that had come out at that time were Blair Witch Project, ten years prior, Cloverfield came out earlier that year. We called up our manager and explained that we needed to get our hands on some found-footage films. We got our hands on a film called Lake Mungo from Australia, which is similar in tone to our film. It’s a ghost story told with interviews and such. So we used that film as an example of how to format a film – or how this type of film would work. We also got a chance to sit down with Oren Peli before Paranormal Activity came out, and pick his brain on how he cast people and how he created this real world. Once Paranormal Activity came out we said, decided that there was an opportunity to do more than we thought, and that we could scale back at other points, letting the audience fill in the blanks a little bit more.

BN: In terms of inspiration, I would definitely say we leaned toward the older school, given the fact that we play up the whole idea of whether Rachel is or isn’t going through this ordeal. It’s a tight rope to walk, and it required us to really pull back in some scenes, and then examine whether or not we’re giving audiences enough to go off of. What older school films tend to do is use your imagination to fuel what’s happening onscreen. You may hear something; see some hoof-prints in the baking powder; or a door may close. Those are old school tricks that people have forgotten about for a while, which Paranormal Activity brought back to the forefront. So we leaned more toward the ‘less is more’ philosophy and decided it was more about using our female protagonist as our window. If Rachel’s scared out of her mind then we’re going to be scared for her.

In most found-footage films there’s usually a very limited perspective offered from a first-person point of view, but in Delivery you’ve blended first-person with a reality TV show. What inspired that dynamic?

AS: What inspired that dynamic is how engaging reality television shows are. I don’t tend to watch a lot of reality TV, but my wife watches them religiously. When you walk through the living room, my wife will be watching them, and I’ll pause, stop, begin watching, and the next thing I know it’s 30 minutes later. It makes you wonder what it is about a reality show that innately makes you get sucked in so quickly. Is it the quick cutting, the polish, the colors? The idea that you could take something so engaging, pop-y, happy, and twist and turn it into something dark, dank, and sinister really excited us.

BN: The thing that a lot of found-footage films have trouble with, something that we also battled with as we were putting the film together, is that audiences spend a finite amount of time with the characters, and can’t get to know them as quickly as you’d like them to. Found-footage doesn’t have a three-act structure. It’s usually an event. You get into a haunted house, you’re a ghost hunter, and you have ninety minutes with these characters, and it all feels very real-time. Our goal was to take these characters and see them throughout the pregnancy – almost a full year you’re spending with these characters and you’re watching them go through this roller coaster. The other thing we wanted to do was – the original Rosemary is so great at getting inside of your head and having you question what you’re seeing through her – which is something really subjective and you cannot really do in found-footage so what we did was we crafted these video diaries of her filming herself going through the process of whatever she’s experiencing, and with the exception of one or two all the video diaries she’s filming – she’s alone. And so it’s our attempt at getting inside her head the way a psychological drama, or psychological thriller would do. Because you can follow a character in a traditional narrative but you can’t in found footage. So that was our goal, and I think it really helped sell the idea of this character who is possibly going crazy and possibly going through this horrific possession experience inside her house.

Are either of you fathers? How did that affect making this film?

AS: I am. This whole production was steeped in pregnancy: My wife gave birth to our first child two weeks after we shot; Two weeks before we started shooting the film Danny’s wife gave birth to their first child; and our director of photography adopted an infant a few months before we started shooting. Now we read a lot on the subject of pregnancy and demonic possession before we shot, but going through the pregnancy beforehand let us in on a ton of minute details during shooting process.

BN: I have a dog. (Chuckles)

Tell us about how you built the mythology for the demon Alastor.

BN: Alastor is a real demon. It was difficult because we wanted to find a name that could be the name of an actual child. We first see the name on the baby name board so it couldn’t have been Beezlebub or anything too outlandish. The great thing with Alastor is that it’s linked to blood ties, sins of the father, and you could play with sins of the father in a familial curse type of storyline, which we did have written into the script, but eventually scaled back.

AS: When we were pulling demon images and doing our research we were looking for something that was a little restrained, but that tonally felt creepy as hell. Previously we had pulled off some stuff that had gone way too far with the blood and dismemberment and it felt way too heavy handed so we scaled back to something that would feel creepy.

BN: His symbol is an actual thaumaturgic triangle which is used to summon demons.

AS: We didn’t want to use the pentagram because it’s been used so often and you get people rolling their eyes when they see a pentagram.

Given the subject matter, was it difficult to cast the film? Did your actors know the ending from the get-go?

BN: Casting the film was difficult. We had a great crew, but we literally financed and developed the film on our own. None of the actors saw the script. We were feeding them the story scene to scene, and they had to trust us. At the end, we pulled our lead actress into a room, and explained what was going to happen in the final sequence. That was the scariest part of the whole shoot – Trusting that she’ll trust you to not write a shitty ending. Early on, we realized that the only way to do something like that was to get people who were skilled at improvisation.

AS: We brought in hundreds and hundreds of people, had our own casting calls, and took a tip from Oren Peli on how he cast Paranormal Activity. We’d bring a male and a female in, like a couple, sit them down, and fire questions at them to see how they would interact with each other. How long have you guys been dating? Where did you guys meet? When did you get engaged? Where was your wedding? Then you hit them with something like, “Why do you think your house is haunted,” to throw them off guard and see where they go with it. There’s a lot of the dialogue from the movie in Delivery, but a lot of it was made up on the fly because we wanted that improvisational component.

What’s next for you both? Will you be collaborating on any other horror films in the near future?

AS: We’re writing something called Method which is tonally similar to Delivery, but it’s not found-footage. t’s about an actor taking on a very intense roll. Then we’ll be developing some other things, which are all genre. Hopefully one of these things will hit, but you never know so it’s best to just spread your fingers, develop projects that are coming in, or write your own stuff, and see where the chips fall, but hopefully we’ll have more news for you in the next couple of months.

Sinister Seven: Prometheus’ Ian Whyte

Posted in It Came from Another Magazine! on November 17, 2016 by The Horror In Blog

Withholding the fact that, thirty-five years ago, director Ridley Scott provided the benchmark for all future science-fiction horror films (Alien, 1978), the audience was left with questions. The biggest of these (pun intended) was the corpse of an alien space pilot that failed to safely transport its cargo, setting the stage for the catastrophes that ensued… and not just the studio version of Alien 3. For over thirty years we’ve learned all about the Ellen Ripley, The Weyland Corporation, Xenomorphs, their hive, and their queen, but who was this other being that set everything in motion? Where was it going? What were these eggs for? Apparently Ridley Scott was asking himself these things as well – Enough to inspire a totally new trilogy of films revolving around the answers those questions. The role of the engineer in Prometheus (2012) required big shoes to fill – literally and figuratively. Standing at seven foot one, Ian Whyte was no stranger to portraying larger than life characters. The Welsh actor has portrayed predators in both Alien Versus Predator films, was a double for Maxime Olympe in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as well as a white walker and the part of Ser Gregor Clegane in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Mr. Whyte was kind enough to discuss his experience in his role as the engineer with Rue Morgue at the Weekend of Horrors covention at the Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen, Germany.

How did you get the part of the Engineer in Prometheus?
A good friend of mine, Conor O’ Sullivan, [the prosthetic supervisor], asked me if I would do some initial make up tests for the engineer character. It kind of mushroomed from there. We did a few tests, and one rainy Sunday afternoon, I was invited to Pinewood Studios to do a camera test where I met Ridley Scott. Then I went through a formal audition. Ironically, the scene that I auditioned for with the casting director was the only scene in the film that I didn’t do, which was the ‘sacrifice’ scene right at the beginning of the film.

What was it like working with Ridley Scott?
It was an incredible experience. The man is a genius, an artist, and a gentleman. He was very focused on the exact minutia of everything. Every aspect of the film is very much his film, and his vision.

What was your favorite moment in Prometheus?
Definitely the ‘Awakening’ scene, where I awaken from the sarcophagus; meeting the humans; and killing them all.

What do you think the overall message of Prometheus was?
Prometheus was a film that was meant to be enjoyed by the audience. Take away the subtext, the subplots, whatever you want to believe, whether it’s ultimate Creationism, or Darwinism. It doesn’t really matter, the movie was made to be enjoyed.

What was the Engineer suit like?
The suit was an absolute work of art. It was an honor, and a privilege, to be truly honest because this was a character that incubated inside Ridley Scott’s head for 32 years ever since Alien. I’m a huge fan of the art and the technology that goes into films like Prometheus, as well as the stuff that happens in the background. A lot of my very good friends are make up artists, and a lot of good friends were the make up artists on Prometheus. You know, when an artist makes a work of art they do it once. These guys had to replicate this makeup day after day after day. It really was a work of art. When you see it on film you don’t really get a sense of the depth of the finish. There were multiple layers of paint, all different designs in the costume, When you got really close to it you could see all these different layers, and iridescent designs. It was just a real pleasure to play the character.

Do you own any memorabilia that you’re proud of?
No. Everyone always asks me if I keep the costumes. To be honest, they make terrible souvenirs because they’re made of latex and foam rubber. On the inside they’re absorbing sweat the whole day, and on the outside they’re gonna get covered in slime, and blood and dirt and dust, and dirt, and all sorts of other stuff. Also the actual prosthetics – the stuff that’s glued to my skin – is destroyed as soon as it comes off. So they really make terrible souvenirs, just happy memories.

What’s the strangest thing anyone’s ever asked you to sign?
Body parts. I don’t like signing body parts.

Sinister Seven: David Naughton, An American Werewolf in London

Posted in It Came from Another Magazine! on November 17, 2016 by The Horror In Blog
David Naughton at Weekend of Horrors 2011 in Bottrop, Germany.

David Naughton at Weekend of Horrors 2011 in Bottrop, Germany.

An American Werewolf in London was a milestone for the werewolf genre. Before David Kessler, werewolves had the benefit of a breather during the day while they contemplated what to do about their “situation” before the next full moon. David Kessler had no such luxury. After incurring the mark of the beast (and losing his best friend), David woke up to a never-ending barrage of guilt, nightmares, loss of sanity, and the only reprieve from all of this would be death. Being a werewolf was not cool – it was a curse. As far as dramatic roles in cinema are concerned, the role of David Kessler required an actor whose talent could reflect the melancholy nature of the role. John Landis wisely chose David Naughton for the part. Thirty years after the release of An American Werewolf in London, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Naughton at the Weekend of Horrors convention in Bottrop, Germany.

What’s your favorite horror movie?
When I was a kid I saw this movie called “The Man Who Could Cheat Death,” and what was particularly weird about it was they had some serious make up when, this guy, toward the end of the film, lived down in this dungeon and he kept you know prisoners and it was very bizarre – I was a kid when I watched it – and I remember at the end there was this potion that kept him young and when he ran out of it (or when they took it away from him) He started to just contort and melt down which was pretty scary for a kid. I guess I was around 10 when I saw it.

Were you a fan of horror movies growing up?
Well I didn’t really get a chance to go see them. We weren’t allowed to go see a lot of stuff. There were more science fiction things: Sin Bad, and those kinds of early Ray Harryhausen movies. There wasn’t anything really scary about King Kong, but I absolutely enjoyed it.

How did you end up getting into the acting business?
Growing up in Connecticut I went to public school where we had a great drama teacher and high school musicals is how we got involved. My brother James is also a director, and actor and we went to the same school. So we were both inspired by this great teaching at the high school level, and then it continued into college, and then I decided this was something I wanted to pursue, and so, I went on to drama school and started a theater major in New York.

Is it true you had a singing career once?
Well yeah,  besides just doing musical theater, and a doing a number of off Broadway shows, when it came time to do a television series called ‘Makin It’ I got a chance to record the title song for the series and the song just wouldn’t quit, even though the series didn’t get a fair shake – I’m sorry to say. We just lasted one season, but the song could not die and just climbed right up the charts. It was was pretty amazing.

Who do you think would win a fight: David Kessler or Twilight’s Jacob Black?
Well you know I have to say my transformation turned me into a four legged, pretty good sized werewolf. I think I could probably handle him. Yeah I’d definitely tear him from limb to limb.

10 hours of makeup, 5 hours in the floor, countless re-takes: Would you do it all again to be the werewolf we remember?
I’m sure Rick Baker has some new, much faster ways of doing what he wanted to do. I mean at the time I did this scare face make up wearing these full glass lenses in my eye. Today, with the soft lenses people have it easy. So yeah I think there are some streamline ways to get it done. Then I’d go back into it and get it done.

You’d go back into it with better technology. But would you do it again with the same technology?
(Laughs) Well there’s this certain blend you know? There’s this transformation between regular make up and CGI. I think CGI can work but there has to be that bridge. Rick Baker is the best with those techniques and the opportunity to work with him again would be really fun.

If there’s anything you could change in the horror industry today what would it be?
Less reliance on CGI, and not just for horror, but, for all films. CGI is generally a major portion of the budget. In my opinion, you could do more with less and go back to traditional forms of make up.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while filming a horror movie?
In [An American Werewolf in London] we got out of the street when I was in half makeup so I just wore a shirt with a big hairy chest and I ripped my hair off inside a pub going “Hey what’s wrong with the service in here?!” and it got some incredible looks from people going “Did you see what that guy did?! He just pulled the hair right off his chest!”