#SDCC15: What We Know About A&E's Damien So Far - Dread Central
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#SDCC15: What We Know About A&E’s Damien So Far




Finally we’re getting to the reason we here at Dread Central attend the San Diego Comic-Con: to talk about horror with those who create it for the big and small screens and share what we learn with you guys.  First on my agenda were “Damien” cast members Bradley James, Barbara Hershey, and Scott Wilson plus exec producer/showrunner Glen Mazzara, who is also writing all of the episodes.

But before we had a chance to chat with them, we encountered dueling religious groups outside the Convention Center.  We of course sided with the supporters of the Anti-Christ, who also provided us with the “Who Is Damien?” booklet you’ll find at the end of the interview along with a few more photos.

Per usual, all the parties were pretty tight-lipped when it came to specific details about the upcoming series, but Mazzara did share with us that the tone is “very realistic.”  The original 1976 film was the source of the story and style, but grounding the show in realism is what “makes the horror play.”  So we’ll have a good mix of horror and thriller with the element of “a conspiracy run by Satan.”

We asked if there’ll be many special effects to look forward to, and Mazzara coyly promised a “big surprise” in the first episode that he didn’t want to spoil, but it sounded like we horror fans especially will appreciate it.  That led into a discussion of the state of mind of the character of Damien, and Glen said he is “always facing the question of fate vs. free will” and holding on to his humanity.

James mentioned how the first script he read sparked his imagination, and the passion of everyone behind the project is what really got him to sign on.  Going back to his character’s mental condition, he said that Damien is the type of guy you’d want this “burden” to fall on.  He “knows there’s something strange about himself” and is trying to get away from it.  So, it sounds like he’s more a man of action than someone who’s angsty; however, Mazzara added that as Damien is trying to gain control of his life, things do go in “unexpected ways.”


Hershey and Wilson (who have worked together in the past and share an obvious admiration for each other) joined us next, and while Barbara said she hasn’t seen anything of the show other than the scripts — which she called “wild” — and what’s been happening on the set, she did describe it as seeming “very contemporary.”  There are all these forces that want Damien… but her character is “completely complex” and her motives aren’t always clear.  She’s protective and very powerful and warped.  (Our kind of gal!)

Scott said we’ll see forces of good and evil, often leaning toward the darker side.  He described Barbara’s character as “a woman of mystery.”  She has been in the shadows for Damien’s whole life and is just coming to the forefront now that he’s the right age (30, the same as when Jesus began his ministry) to learn who he really is.  Their two characters are “partners,” or more like “frenemies” who are watching over Damien.

The show is set in New York City, and according to Wilson, we’ll be seeing some quite “provocative ideas” being brought up.  He teased that since Lucifer is Latin for “bringer of light,” we can expect some typical religious conventions to be flipped.

And with that, they rushed off to their signing and panel.  But as you no doubt saw earlier, we finally have a trailer, and I’d say they’re all off to a great start!

“Damien” stars Bradley James as Damien Thorn. Barbara Hershey co-stars as Ann Rutledge, the world’s most powerful woman, who has been tasked with making sure Damien fulfills his destiny. Omid Abtahi portrays Amani Golkar, a close colleague of Damien’s whose fierce loyalty will be tested when he realizes who his brother-in-arms actually is. Meganlyn Echikunwoke plays Simone Baptiste, a woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when tragedy unexpectedly strikes. Scott Wilson, who worked with Mazzara on “The Walking Dead,” where he portrayed fan favorite Hershel Greene, guest stars.

The first season of the series, from Glen Mazzara and Fox 21 TV Studios, will include ten episodes.  In his TV directing debut, Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) will helm and executive produce the first episode.

“Damien,” slated to premiere in 2016, is written and executive produced by Mazzara via his 44 Strong Productions.


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Fearsome Facts

Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)



Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.


Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!


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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD



Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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John Carpenter … NOT DEAD!



We currently live in a world of false alarms. Within the last several days we’ve suffered everything from warnings of doomsday to Rotten Tomatoes accidentally celebrating the passing(!) and career of the very much still alive John Carpenter.

That’s right, kids; earlier today RT tweeted, “John Carpenter would have been 70 years old today! We celebrate his birthday by looking back at his five favorite films.” The tweet… has since been deleted.

We are here to tell you… John is very much alive! Alive and well, even. Carpenter himself responded on Twitter by alerting the site that “despite how it appears, I’m actually not dead.

This is great news indeed. One of horror’s best and brightest is still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now then, let’s take this time to celebrate the man’s birthday PROPERLY by talking about our favorite films of his. Speaking personally for myself…

Prince of Darkness is a movie that both unnerves and scares the hell out of me. One of Carpenter’s most thought-provoking works is just as frightening now as it was when we first received that grainy transmission as a dream from the year…

Tell us your favorite Carpenter movie in our comments section below.


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