#SDCC15: Ash vs. Evil Dead - Gory New Details from Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and More! - Dread Central
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#SDCC15: Ash vs. Evil Dead – Gory New Details from Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and More!

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While everyone is still buzzing about yesterday’s trailer for “Ash vs. Evil Dead” here in San Diego and all over the world, we got a chance to speak with showrunner Craig DeGregario, stars Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless, and executive producers Sam and Ivan Raimi. Read on for the goods.

“Judging by how the show is coming along and the reaction here, I think we’ll be seeing more of Ash and the Evil Dead once this season is done,” remarked DeGregario on the prospect of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” only lasting a single season. “I’m a huge fan of Evil Dead, especially 2 and 3, but what drew me to this project is without question the Ash character. The heart of any good show or franchise is great characters, and Ash is just one of the best. He’s incredibly versatile. He can be a badass, he can be funny, he can be romantic if need be. The character’s totally well-rounded. There’s something really interesting in seeing what happened to this guy… this same guy who’s never married and has unapologetically stayed the same… now that he’s in his fifties approaching his sixties.”

There was a bit of discussion regarding the show’s runtime consisting of 30-minute long episodes as opposed to 60-minute long episodes. DeGregario elaborated on that decision. “We wanted to be the craziest, punchiest, viewing experience possible, and once you extend things out to an hour-long, you immediately have to pad it with melodramatic moments… but this is not the kind of show that lives in the world of melodrama. The show just moves SO fast. If there’s a moment you don’t like, just hang on a second because something is coming that you will. It goes from crazy to funny to insane to scary effortlessly. Hopefully by the time each episode ends, you’ll be like, ‘Holy shit! That was nuts! What the hell did I just see?!’ I mean of course there’s a story to the first season; it’s not just one loony set piece after another, but we tried to put a lot of emphasis on getting to those really big and fun moments. There are even scenes that pay off later; for instance, we have this one moment in a bookstore in which we find out a bit more about the Necronomicon, and what we learn in those fleeting moments will end up paying off big time down the road a bit.”

The possibility of a single season only came up, and we inquired whether or not in that worst case scenario would we get a satisfying ending that can stand alone, or would we be left with a cliffhanger to hold on to?

“We thought a lot about the [Season 1] finale,” says DeGregario. “Since the film universe and of course the show exists on so many different levels, we had the opportunity to really play with things so hopefully you’ll be getting a satisfying stand-alone ending along with a cliffhanger so, yeah, it basically works both ways. As Ash goes along in this season, he’ll have to make some tough choices, and they become tougher because he makes these relationships with these other people. Something really big happens at the end of the season that’s open-ended that leaves us with a REALLY interesting setup for Season 2.”

“Ash is a real pain in the ass to play,” says Campbell himself when asked how he felt revisiting S-Mart’s favorite son. “Get covered in blood and stay that way for a few days. It’s awful. It’s sticky. You pull the hair off of your arm when rolling up your sleeves… it’s terrible. But on the bright side I can now tell fans to ‘SHUT THE HELL UP’ when they start asking when we’re getting a new Evil Dead movie or something. *Laughs* No, seriously though… we all feel great. Make no mistake though; without STARZ I don’t think this project would have happened. At the very least I don’t think I’d be the one sitting here. They gave us exactly what we were looking for… unrestricted content. Look, we’re not out to offend anyone with this material or try to take advantage of the freedom. We just don’t want anyone demanding that we shoot an alternate version of a scene in which we say ‘golly’ instead of ‘fuck-face.’ Now we get to say and do whatever we want, and there’s just no issues. I cannot tell you how liberating that is as a filmmaker.”

Bruce Campbell

“The movies have always been percolating over the years, but this show is a very recent happening,” says Campbell of when the idea to do a TV show came to be. “The new movie did it’s thing and is good, but it didn’t satisfy fans. They were like, ‘Yeah, thanks, but where’s Sam? Where’s Bruce?’ You guys aren’t idiots. You like what you like. Once the transition in ideas happened from making another movie to making a TV show, everything came together fast. Rob Tapert ended up putting together one hell of a team to get things going in New Zealand. Those guys are incredible out there. These are crew members who were weaned on “Hercules” and “Xena” and of course Lord of the Rings. All they know how to do is stunts, special effects, green screen, sword fights, special props, explosions. These guys can do ANYTHING. They recreated one of the sets from one of the original films in the most meticulous of ways… I had chills when I walked into the room for the first time. I was like, ‘Holy fuck. I’m back here again.’ Everywhere I looked, no matter what the angle, everything was the same. Even the view out of the windows was the same. The hallways, the doors, the furnishings… it was mind-boggling. We’re building a world. We’re creating more sets than we normally would. I mean, an Evil Dead diner is not gonna be an ordinary diner. It’s gonna be fuckin’ cool. An Evil Dead bookstore is not gonna be a regular bookstore. It’s a Harry Potter bookstore, know what I mean? The fans… you guys… you’re important to us. You put us on the map, and we don’t want to let you down.”

“I love Bruce. I messed up once when I was talking to a reporter and I said I worship Bruce Campbell, and the next thing I know it’s all over the internet,” laughs Bruce’s co-star Lucy Lawless, and from the other side of the room we hear Campbell chime in, “I thought that was a great choice of words!” Lawless continues, smiling, “I truly adore the Ash character; he’s like Wayne Newton on Viagra and crack. You’ll see his character do wrong, incongruous, hysterical things. There were things on this shoot that I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It goes from one level to another to another… these people have taken this show somewhere that most people’s imaginations just could not go. It’s actually super-funny how Ash lets the Deadites out. That’s when my character, Ruby Knowby [the second daughter of Professor Raymond Knowby, who read the book aloud on tape in Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn], comes about and begins gunning for Ash because she believes he’s the source of the new Deadite plague.

In terms of the show in relation to the films…

“When we first started, we weren’t exactly sure what the show was, but I can tell you that it is tied directly to the second film,” said Lawless. “Fans are going to see so many familiar things. The crew on this shoot is really part of every scene. It’s hugely collaborative, like we’re all part of this massive huddle. Everyone is so happy going to work every day. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?!? Believe this, fans, everything you’ve ever dreamed is about to happen.”

Finally, executive producers and brothers Ivan and Sam Raimi came over to drop some Evil Dead goodness on us.

“When we made Evil Dead, our only objective was to make a movie that wouldn’t be rejected at the drive-ins,” says Sam. “To see what it’s turned into all of these years later… it’s just like science fiction to me. Just hard to believe.”

Word broke yesterday that series favorite Ted Raimi is not going to be featured in this season of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” but we wouldn’t worry just yet… “I heard it from the audience loud and clear last night… We actually looked for a place to put him that was substantial, but just couldn’t come up with one. If we ever get another season of the show, we will DEFINITELY come up with a role that’s worthy of Ted and the fans’ expectations.”

Another thing that came out of the panel yesterday was word that we might actually see an Evil Dead film featuring both Ash and Mia (Jane Levy) from the remake. We asked Sam to explain a bit more if he could…

Ivan and Sam Raimi

“Honestly? I probably shouldn’t have said that just yet. I’ve only had one conversation with Fede Alvarez [the remake’s director] about it, but that’s it. The remake is his movie, and I should talk with Fede more before talking about that particular project. That being said… if we did end up doing that, there’s so many ways it could go and so much material to utilize. Right now, though, the focus is on Ash and his adventures going forward.”

In terms of how it feels to be playing once again in their sandbox all these years later…

“It’s great to be able to revisit Ash again after all of these years,” says Ivan. “We left him in a place in which we really weren’t finished with him… in both universes [referring to Army of Darkness’ two different endings] so it feels really great to see what he’s been up to. He hasn’t changed a bit aside from getting older and he’s unapologetic for that. There’s a lot more story to tell, and it’s super fun now to tell it while he’s older. Even funnier, he still has more or less the same old problems.”

It was indicated early that “Ash vs. Evil Dead” was directly tethered to the second film, so we inquired whether or not Ash is still working at S-Mart. Unfortunately it sounds as if that particular market has closed down due to various legalities.

“Because of some licensing issues we no longer have the rights to use the name ‘S-Mart,’ and the same goes along for anything that came out of Army of Darkness,” Sam told us. “I’m not sure exactly who owns the rights, but we’ve made sure… even gone out of our way… to make sure that will not inhibit the fans’ enjoyment of the show.”

Finally the time came to get the one definitive answer about Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn… remake or sequel?

Sam thought for a moment… “Okay, this is it… the definitive answer to put this matter to rest… Oh wait! It’s time to go,” said Raimi with a smile and a wink while looking at his watch.

We may never really know.

Related Story: #SDCC15: Go Inside Ash’s Trailer

The series will premiere on Saturday, October 31st, at 9:00PM.

About “Ash vs. Evil Dead”
Ash vs. Evil Dead” is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead and will premiere on STARZ October 31, 2015. The 10-episode first season of the half-hour series is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers of the franchise, and Craig DiGregorio, who serves as executive producer and showrunner.

Ash Vs. Evil Dead

Campbell is reprising his role as Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario, and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity, and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons – personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its “Evil” grip.

The cast is led by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, “Burn Notice”) in the role of Ash Williams; Lucy Lawless (“Salem,” “Spartacus”) as Ruby, a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks; Ray Santiago (“Touch,” Meet the Fockers) as Pablo Simon Bolivar, an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick; Dana DeLorenzo (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) as Kelly Maxwell, a moody wild child trying to outrun her past; and Jill Marie Jones (“Sleepy Hollow”) as Amanda Fisher, a disgraced Michigan State Trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner.

Ash Vs Evil Dead

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The Strangers: Prey at Night Official Site is Live and Waiting

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It was just last week that we shared the all-new trailer and poster for the upcoming sequel to writer-director Bryan Bertino’s home-invasion thriller The Strangers.

If that trailer for The Strangers: Prey at Night wasn’t interactive enough for you then you’re in luck – the film’s official site has just gone live.

The site starts off playing the film’s trailer but you can click that shite off asap and get to the other goodies.

From there the site tells you that “They’re only Strangers until you tell them your name” and then asks you for your name, your email address, and your phone number.

Yeah. Right.

That’s how they get you.

Truthfully, I’m not brave enough to put my info on the site. Not that I’m scared of, you know, a knock at the door late at night or anything… Just… I don’t feel like it is all.

If you are brave enough to give the site your info, make sure to hit us up and let us know how it goes in the comments below or on social media! If you can… Moo-haha.

Visit the site HERE.

The Stranger: Prey at Night is directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) from a script by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai. It stars Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Lewis Pullman.

The film hits March 9, 2018.

Synopsis:
A family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive. Johannes Roberts directs this horror film inspired by the 2008 smash hit THE STRANGERS.

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Exclusive: Patrick Brice on Creep 2

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Patrick Brice blipped onto our radar a couple of years back with his audacious horror film debut, Creep. He directed the film, plus he cowrote and co-starred in it with Mark Duplass (interview) (Baghead, Manson Family Vacation). Creep introduced Aaron, an affable serial killer who lures people to his remote cabin by placing ads promising a fun filmmaking experience… while you could see where the story was going in terms of plot, what made it so striking was the way in which it was written and directed. There’s a massive amount of dread throughout.

Brice is back for Creep 2 (review), and we caught up with him to ask about it.

Dread Central: It must have been hard to try to top Creep. Or did you already have a sequel in mind?

Patrick Brice: It’s funny, but when we made the first movie, we had no idea we would eventually be making a sequel. So we didn’t necessarily set ourselves up for an easy road that way. It ended up being something we had to reverse engineer a bit. And we had actually came up with maybe three or four other ideas for Creep 2 before we landed on the one that we ended up shooting. Including a feature length screenplay that I had written but I shelved because it didn’t feel right. And so, it was a combination of things in that we didn’t want to make a sequel until we knew there was an audience for it. Once we realized the first Creep had caught on in the way it did, that was when the idea of making one did started to come up a little bit. Then it wasn’t until we landed on the idea we landed on, sort of the approach we ended up taking, that things started to feel right and it started to make sense with going forward to making one.

DC: Is you audience mainly horror fans? Because it seems serial killer stories are mainstream now, what with “Hannibal” having been on network TV and now we have “Mindhunter” on Netflix.

PB: I’d say a lot of horror fans, and, I think people with masochistic tendencies as well. I think it’s a pretty dark endeavour for an audience to be brought into with that movie. I think because of the sort of minimalist approach, when you’re watching it, especially when you’re watching it alone, it demands a different kind of attention than a normal movie. Because the Creep is only two characters, if you’re an audience member, you essentially become the third character in the movie, bearing witness to it. So I’m grateful that people are willing to engage with this type of material in that way. I’m also just surprised by it because I think it’s a challenging film on some level. I think it’s a rewarding film. And I think if you’re willing to give in to the conceit of it and willing to take the ride, it is a rewarding experience, but I also completely understand anyone who’s not willing to do that, just because it is such a specific thing. And so going into a sequel, there was a certain amount of confidence that we had associated with a lot of the decisions we were making that would have felt strange and odd with the traditional movie being make in a traditional way, but because we were doing it this way and kind of replicating at least the production style of how we made the first one, we were willing to take that leap a little bit more than we would normally do.

DC: Would you consider dropping the found footage format if you do another Creep movie?

BP: Completely. I think that down the road that would be a nice surprise and a nice way to inject sort of a new form into the story telling. One of the things that’s been fun with Creep 2 and thinking about other Creep movies is giving in to that sort of style completely and letting that be something that informs the character. A huge thing with cracking the second movie was creating the character of Sara that Desiree Akhavan (interview) plays and giving her her own specific needs and motivations for being there, which then hopefully justifies the camera being on. That is the big challenge with found footage movies. It’s something that Jason Blum says that all the time, ‘don’t make a found footage movie unless the story dictates it.’ And so we knew we wanted to do it this way and so it was really delving into character and sort of the more emotional side of things to justify that.

DC: One of the intriguing things about Aaron is that he has no backstory. But it seems eventually audiences demand origin stories and prequels. Will you reveal how Aaron got started someday?

PB: It’s something that’s emerging, having made the second one. We have him tell two long monologues. And it’s detailed, it’s very specific, it makes sense as far as the character goes, but there is still this layer of knowing that this guy is a pathological liar and none of this could be true. And so the hope with that was to have this be a story that convinces Sara, the other character in the film, that it’s true but the audience once again, existing on this other level where they know what this guy’s capable of, they also know he’s a total liar and it may or may not be real.

DC: Do you see yourself ramping up the horror if there are more Creep sequels?

PB: I still think there’s a lot of places to go in terms of the horror aspect of it. I think we only scratched the surface with the second one. I think it made sense we sort of upped the blood and gore with the second movie but also, like you said, kept things pretty much in the space of just uncomfortable tension for eighty minutes. I think that’s something that always going to be our ultimate goal with these movies and that’s sort of the trademark of these movies. What’s nice about knowing that there’s other places things can go whether it be, further into the slasher genre, further into the supernatural, we’ve got some options and we’ve left a lot of doors open in terms of having other avenues to explore.

DC: Any horror stories on the horizon apart from Creep 2?

PB: Yes, actually. I’m going to be directing a few episodes of “Room 104” on HBO and at least two of them are horror based. I’m really excited about that, because I get a chance to delve into more pure classical horror than I’ve been able to do with Creep movies.

Written by Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass with Brice directing, Creep 2 stars Duplass, who reprises his role from the first film, and Desiree Akhavan.

Synopsis:
CREEP 2 stars Desiree Akhavan as Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men. After finding an ad online for “video work,” she thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Mark Duplass). Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on, she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can’t escape.

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Exclusive: Director Dennis Bartok and Lead Shauna MacDonald Talk Nails

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With writer and director Dennis Bartok’s feature film Nails having bowed Friday on VOD via Dark Sky Films, here’s a bit of our interview with the flick’s filmmaker, Cinelicious Pics Head of Distribution and General Manager of the American Cinematheque Bartok (he wears many hats), as well as the film’s star, Shauna MacDonald (of The Descent series).

Nails revolves around “…track star Dana Milgrom (MacDonald), who, having survived a near-death car accident, finds herself almost completely paralyzed and trapped inside her own body, and while recovering, she becomes convinced that some evil presence exists inside her hospital room and is intent on killing her,” and was executive produced by Joseph Kaufman (Assault on Precinct 13) and produced by Brendan McCarthy (Cherry Tree, The Hallow).

Bartok, who previously wrote and produced the 2006 feature anthology film Trapped Ashes, said of his approach to the narrative of Nails, “It’s very ‘anti-flight.’ Most horror movies are built around the idea that you are running away from something. The Halloween and Friday the 13th movies, there’s a mysterious creature that’s trying to track you down, or conversely you are walking into some horrible haunted house that nobody in their right mind would ever go into, for example, The Woman in Black, which is a really terrifying film. But from the very first moment Daniel Radcliffe’s character goes up to the front of that house, the audience says, ‘Turn around! Get the hell out of there! You are going to die!’ And of course he walks in. So I was really fascinated by a narrative in which the lead character was physically trapped in one space, and actually trapped in her own body. So I thought a lot about narratives like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Sea Inside and Hitchcock’s Rear Window, where the protagonist is physically handicapped and forced to confront that, so both as a writer and as a filmmaker and for Shauna it was a huge challenge, in that how do you make that (type of story) kinetic and compelling, and how do you build suspense when the lead character is trapped in the bed for eighty percent of the story?”

MacDonald said of the script’s appeal, which is a departure in ways from the action-packed The Descent films for which she’s most known, “Oddly, I don’t want to be labeled a horror girl, although the older I get, the cooler I think that sounds. Certainly in the UK they like to fit you in the box of low-budget horror films, and every year after The Descent (films) I get scripts to read, and some of them would say, ‘OK, the lead actress is tied to a stained mattress in her underwear,’ and I would be like, ‘Next!’ and for me, I knew it would be a massive acting challenge to play the lead (as it was written) in Nails, someone who is bed-ridden and paranoid and can’t speak. Her physical journey and her emotional journey is what attracted me to the role.”

“I think it’s important also that she has self-doubt,” MacDonald continues of her role, “and that she thinks she may be having a mental breakdown. No one else is seeing the things she is seeing or experiencing what she is experiencing, so I thought upon that a lot, and also I thought, as a mother of three girls myself, that the character’s connection with her daughter in the script was really heart-wrenching, and I love mother/daughter stories.”

Filmmaker Bartok added, “I thought very much about the bond between a mother and her daughter while writing it, and the sacrifice a parent would make in order to protect their child, and that was one of the main themes from the very beginning. When I set out to make the film I knew that there were two things that I needed to make it work. One was that I needed to make it scary, and to really unnerve people, and to build that suspense and a rising tension throughout, and the second thing was, that I’d really need someone amazing to play the character of Dana, because she’s in nearly every scene of the film, and we experience the story entirely through her perception. And if we hadn’t cast someone with Shauna’s acting gifts, the film would have fallen flat.”

In regards to casting the film’s antagonist, the gaunt, towering and ghostly figure of ‘Nails,’ Bartok states of actor British Richard Foster-King, of which he’d been introduced to via an audition tape for an entirely different movie, “Richard had done these beautiful movements (in that tape), as if he was swimming in the air and elongating his arms, and I think he had even crawled along the floor at one point. And as soon as I saw that tape, I said, ‘That’s it. That’s Eric Nillson. That’s Nails!’ And the producers, because they wanted to keep the budget as low as possible, had wanted to hire local actors out of Dublin, and I would look at those tapes, and they were OK, but I felt we really needed to get Richard. So bit by bit I kept saying, ‘No,’ to these other suggestions, and finally I was able to convince them to bring Richard in from London.”

As for the evolution of the character, which itself possesses some of the nuanced tragedy of Universal’s classic monsters, Bartok stated, “It was really fascinating because we had reached out to several gothic, surreal artists who had been recommended to me by various friends, and asked them to submit concept designs, and the one that we liked the best, and they were all actually excellent, was by a French photographic artist named Nihil, who takes photographs and then manipulates them digitally. So Nihil did an amazingly creepy concept, which provided the blueprint as to how we approached the character’s design. There were several steps in getting it onto the screen, though. Maybe seventy-five percent of it came from Richard’s physicality and his on screen presence, and the rest could only be achieved digitally, and we brought in an incredibly gifted visual effects artist named Eli Dorsey, who had worked on Ted Geoghegan’s film We Are Still Here. And Eli created the milky white eyes, and the dentures which kind of sit outside the palate, and the ghostly pallor. But primarily, I think its Richard’s performance which makes the character, an evil tormenting character who is also tormented, so very haunting.”

Nails also stars Ross Noble, Steve Wall, and Charlotte Bradley. You can watch the film on iTunes.

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