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Sam Raimi Talks Drag Me to Hell

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In 1981, a young director named Sam Raimi set out to give audiences a new vision of the horror genre with his now cult classic film The Evil Dead. Twenty-eight years later (and one Spider-Man trilogy behind him), Raimi is looking to do the very same with his latest project, Drag Me to Hell.

Raimi explained, “I was trying to do an original piece with this feature and to do something very different than what’s out there now. Drag Me to Hell was my way of telling a different story than I ever have before but using a lot of familiar elements that, as a fan, I love to see when I am watching horror.”

Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell (click for larger image)

“When writing the story, I had to make sure I stayed true to the characters and still built suspenseful sequences in ways that I hadn’t done before. I feel like my job as a director is to entertain and give the audience something they haven’t experienced before,” Raimi added.

Drag Me to Hell centers around Christine (played by Allison Lohman), a young woman who works at a bank. Desperate to earn the respect of her boss and a promotion, she makes the mistake of denying the elderly Mrs. Ganusch (Lorna Raver) an extension on her defaulted mortgage which drives the old woman to curse Christine as her punishment. The curse states that within three days, poor Christine will be carried off to the bowels of hell and it’s up to her to figure out a way to spare her own life before the demons come for her.

Although Lohman’s character is the main subject in Drag Me to Hell, Raimi is quick to point out she isn’t your typical horror film protagonist.

“Christine starts out with the idea that she is a good person but by the end of the film, she really is a despicable character to watch,” said Raimi. “I think the audience can identify with her in the beginning because she seems generous, but when push comes to shove and she has to get this job promotion, she sins with greed and forces this old lady out of her home hiding behind the rules of the bank.”

To bring Christine along on this horrific journey wasn’t enough for Raimi. He felt it was important as a storyteller to make the audience just as accountable as the main character they were watching.

Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell (click for larger image)

Raimi said, “I wanted the audience to make this choice with her. We know that we are all nice people but the truth is, we are sinners too. Here you have this old woman who is unpleasant looking and the audience, like Christine, just wants to do anything to not have to look at her and get her out of the way. So, when the effects of the curse start to happen, you as a viewer know that this thing is coming not only for Christine, but for you because you are sinners, too.”

“There are all sorts of reasons for any of us to be greedy or cruel,” Raimi added. “People try to hide behind logic or institutional rules, like Christine does in the film. But it doesn’t make a difference. In the end, everyone is responsible for the choices that they make. Christine is no exception to that rule and neither are any of us, despite what we may think about ourselves.

Even though Raimi sees Christine as the villain in Drag Me to Hell, he knew that he had a tricky task with finding someone who was able to balance being the nice girl next door as well as someone who could also representing the sinner in all of us.

What makes the audience compelled to follow Christine as she fights to stay out of hell has to do with the casting of Allison Lohman,” explained Raimi. “She has a positive charm about her which helps the audience stay with her despite all the horrible things she does. She goes against her own values, lies, asks people to risk their lives, tries to blame her boss when confronted by the demon, and selfishly tries to give the curse away to save her self.”

“She was a good person on the outside but when you see what she’s willing to do, she’s just not a good person at all. She deserves what she gets. Although, maybe she’s just a little overpunished for her sins,” Raimi joked.

Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell (click for larger image)

Raimi is aware of the initial reaction of the horror community had when they found out Drag Me to Hell was going to be PG-13 and wants to assure fans that a rating isn’t the driving force behind whether or not a movie will be entertaining.

Raimi said, “We always knew that we were aiming for a PG-13 rating for Drag Me to Hell. We (his brother Ivan helped Raimi co-write the movie’s script) didn’t want to rely on outrageous violence or blood and gore like we did with the Evil Dead movies. I thought it would be interesting as a director to go in a slightly different direction and try not to have a lot of that this time around.

Of course, there is still some violence and blood because it is a horror movie but we make up for it by using different techniques in the film so that it’s still entertaining and suspenseful,” added Raimi.

Something that recently surprised the long-time director was the fact that Drag Me to Hell was picked to screen at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France.

Universal approached me with the idea that we should show the movie to Cannes Viewing Committee,” said Raimi. “I honestly didn’t think it was a good idea at all but decided to not say anything to the studio about my reservations. So, you can imagine how surprised I was to find out it got picked.

Raimi joked, “I think it actually says a lot about the depravity of our society.

Now with Drag Me to Hell set to hit theaters this weekend, Raimi is getting ready to return to the world of Peter Parker and his alter-ego Spider-Man in the coming months.

Raimi said, “Spider-Man 4 is still in the script development stage so I have no idea what we’re going to be doing this time. I think we’ve learned our lessons on Spider-Man 3 and I am really looking forward to exploring Peter’s character further with Tobey (Maguire).

I feel like the last two years have been a vacation with working on a horror film,” Raimi added. “What I love about these movies is the fact that the audiences are truly the greatest audiences to entertain for. They have so much appreciation for these projects that it makes my job as a director that much more worthwhile.

Drag Me to Hell opens in theatres this Friday!

Heather Wixson

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Dread Central Presents The Lodgers – Vegas Screening and Wider Release

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Last weekend fans got their first taste of the next Dread Central Presents film, The Lodgers (review); and we’re not done yet! There’s another Dread Central Presents screening TOMORROW, February 22nd, at 7:00 PM at the Eclipse Theaters in Las Vegas, Nevada (tickets here); and then the flick will be opening wider the very next day!

To see if the film will be playing near you, click here for a list of cities The Lodgers will be haunting!

Directed by Brian O’Malley and starring Charlotte Vega and Bill Milner, the film made its worldwide premiere at 2017’s Toronto International Film Festival and has since won many awards across multiple festivals.

Make sure to follow and “like” Dread Central Presents on Facebook to stay in the know regarding this and upcoming titles!

Synopsis:
In this Gothic horror tale, a family curse confines orphaned twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) to their home as punishment for their ancestors’ sins. Bound to the rules of a haunting childhood lullaby, the twins must never let any outsiders inside the house, must be in their rooms by the chime of midnight, and must never be separated from one another. Breaking any of these three rules will incur the wrath of a sinister presence that inhabits the house after midnight.

While Edward is committed to this ill-fated life, he’s becoming more unhinged due to the fact that Rachel is not. Smitten by a local soldier (Eugene Simon), Rachel grows skeptical and begins to rebel, desperate to escape the oppression and misery of their captivity.

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Exclusive Clip: Primal Rage – Bigfoot Causes Chaos!

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Ever been driving in the woods and see or hear something that you cannot explain? Something so shocking that it makes your skin crawl off of your spine? Yeah, those moments, that usually chalked up to something completely innocuous, can be mucho unsettling. Such is the case with our bloody exclusive clip from the latest sliver of Sasquatchploitation, Primal Rage, which illustrates what can happen when you play with your food.

Directed by Patrick Magee, who co-wrote the film with Jay Lee, Primal Rage stars Andrew Joseph Montgomery, Casey Gagliardi, Eloy Casados, Justin Rain and Marshal Hilton. You can also catch this one of the big screen as on February 27th, Fathom (tickets here) will be hosting a one-night theater event for Primal Rage.

Enough talk! Get your Squatch on!

Synopsis:
Lost deep in the forest of the Pacific Northwest, Ashley and Max Carr are stalked by a terrifying creature that might be Bigfoot. Soon they find themselves embroiled in a strange land of Native American myth and legend turned real. Hopelessly trying to survive, with a handful of unsavory locals, they must fight back against this monster in a desperate battle of life or death.

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The Strangers: Prey at Night Set Visit Part 2: Screams and Flames

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[SPOILERS] As mentioned in our earlier set visit story, The Strangers: Prey at Night maintains the same feeling of isolation as the original. Even though a full-fledged production was going on in Gatlin Lake Getaway, it is hard to shake that feeling of being totally alone once wandering away from the set lighting. The dark surround woods start to close in and threaten to swallow any who stray too close to the tree line. Then the silence is broken as a beat-up 1972 Ford Ranger’s engine revs and a scream slices through the night.

Back on the lit street, the familiar looking truck has collided head-on with the side Wagner County Sheriff’s SUV. At the driver’s seat of the Ford is a man sporting a white cloth bag as a mask. The Bagman has returned. His appearance has not changed. The empty sockets of the mask still glare ominously and the painted smile poorly hides the stranger’s murderous intent.

An air of frustration surrounds the Bagman as he attempts to free the truck from the SUV. In vain, the Ford revs and struggles to no avail. Bad news for him, but good news for whomever the Bagman was pursuing. The law enforcement vehicle, with its lights flashing, had been driven by a young woman decked out in a black Ramones t-shirt and blood-splattered jeans. Her hair is jet black. The woman’s skin is streaked with dark blood and open slash wounds. The dark punk eye makeup is running, but the wearer is not.

It is obvious that this woman has been through a lot as she limps from the wreck. The context of her current state is not clear, but the shrieking that emanates from her as she produces a lighter and throws it to the ground under the collided vehicles speaks volumes. It can only be assumed that she has been chased, slashed, and emotionally beaten for hours. The scream is packed with emotions from fear to outright spite and rage. It is so powerful, in fact, that the crew members uttered stunned laudations.

As the gasoline ignites, the flames climb and spread of the mangled metal of the two collided vehicles. The Ford’s engine still violently revs as the Bagman emotionlessly tries to break free. The young woman is slowly backing away, unaware of the chain reaction occurring. The darkness of 1 AM is broken by two giant fireballs that erupt, engulfing the metal mayhem in the middle of the street. The surroundings fall silent, cut is called and the crew erupts in exclamations at the awesome spectacle.

This powerful moment was brought to us by Bailee Madison (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark).

The Strangers: Prey at Night was now on its twenty-second day of shooting and only eight more days remained. The cast and crew are well accustomed to their routines and the late night shoots have become second nature. When asked if the constant schedule of night shoots had been difficult, Madison elicited some of the virtues that the darkness has to offer, “There’s something very vulnerable about night shoots. You are emotionally in a different place when you’re awake and rested in the daytime. I think for something traumatic like this, you need to be able to access different emotions; at night you’re a lot more capable.”

At this point in production, Bailee’s character has seen a lot of action. A heavy amount of blood adorns the actor’s arms and a thick clotting mass of the red stuff covers most of her forehead. Keeping track of that damage for continuity from day to day looks like a grueling task, and makeup department head Jodi Byrne dropped some details about the process, “We have continuity photos and we take pictures of Bailee constantly throughout the day … We have to determine which takes are actually going to be used in the film and we move from that point.”

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..

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