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The Strain’s Natalie Brown Talks Bigger and Bolder Episodes Ahead!

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The character of Kelly has come a long way since being turned into a strigoi back in the early days of “The Strain” Season 1.  With Season 2 now well under way, we had a chance to hear from the actress who portrays the newly sentient ex-Mrs. Goodweather, Natalie Brown.

During a recent roundtable interview, Brown discussed the process involved to turn her into the monster that she has become – both via makeup and her own techniques; working with the “Feelers”; what’s ahead for her ever-evolving character, including more Kelly/Eichorst bonding moments; and lots more.

Read on for the highlights, and be sure to tune in tomorrow night for Episode 2.09, “The Battle for Red Hook.”

THE STRAIN -- "Intruders" -- Episode 208 (Airs August 30, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Natalie Brown as Kelly Goodweather. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

Q:  Can you tell us about getting into your strigoi makeup?  And now that you’re kind of back to your human version, which do you prefer?

Natalie Brown: I’m not going to lie.  Costume change and a little bit of lipstick can go a long way to making even Ms. Strigoi happy, but the four and a half hours of the prosthetic makeup process is something that I really enjoy.  The gifted artists that work on the hair and makeup make my job really easy.  They definitely bring the terror before I’ve even set foot on set, but being able to experience Kelly as a human turned vampire turned back to human looking is a challenge that I really relished…  and the products are a lot better smelling, shall we say.  A little more pleasant.  It’s like a day trip to the spa for Kelly.

Q:  And what about getting into the character itself?  Your movements and manner of speaking now that you’re evolving?

NB:  After having gotten the hang of the physical expectations of a newly turned strigoi, the challenge at the beginning of Season 2 was letting go of a lot of those expectations of a newly turned strigoi and becoming a more sentient being, more regal if you will. And in Episode 8, “Intruders,” then it was a matter of restraint.  Keeping a lid on my own human tendencies and speaking less articulately and moving more mechanically is something you’re required as an actress to not do, but our director, Kevin Dowling, was quick to remind me of when to hold back and when to let the foot off the pedal, so to speak.  She does now have access to all of her memories and emotions, and it’s like hearing an old familiar song and knowing all the words.  It’s like an old familiar sweater.

Q:  Now that you’ve played through three phases of the character (human, strigoi, and now sort of a hybrid), have you approached it as three different characters, or just sort of three evolutions of the same character?

NB:  You hit the nail on the head.  It is three different evolutions, and it’s been a process of adding and eliminating and being expertly guided by our vamp choreographer, Roberto Campanella, as well as the writers and directors. And it’s just a matter of choosing what to keep and what to throw away, what to layer on, and just knowing… having that sense of restraint at all times…  The character just keeps growing in complexity and more nuanced, and with each evolution of Kelly I enjoy more and more…  You’ll just have to see what’s in store to see how much better things continue to get – or worse, depending on your perspective.

Q:  Can you talk a little bit about working with those creepy Feeler kids?  How did they come to get hired in the first place?

NB:  They had castings at dance studios in the greater Toronto area, and they hired some of the most gifted dancers and acrobats.  Most of them were girls, but we had a few boy Feelers, and they’re so physically gifted that they’re creepy looking enough on their own, but they are also aided with the help of speeding up their movements with visual effects, and they would employ the use of trampolines to help with the springing side.  Generally, they become pretty creepy once they’re processed in hair and makeup, and they were just a joy to work with.  They were so enthusiastic, and they loved the makeup process.  They did all of Kelly’s dirty work.  They’re the ones down on their hands and doing her bidding.  So we had a lot of fun playing make believe and turning some of the darkest subject matter into the most fun days on the set.

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Q:  In the last episode your companion Feelers were killed.  Is it safe to assume we might see more, or were they the last two?  If you can say, that is…

NB:  I may not be able to say, but there just might be a couple still lingering in the nest.

Q:  When you’re this strigoi character and you have to go to some pretty dark places, what do you tap into to get you through that darkness of your character?

NB:  It’s that burning desire to connect with her dearest one… that has not gone away.  It has changed.  Human love does turn to vampire need, but that longing, that yearning, that fight for Zach is still very much alive.  That’s what makes vampires different from other monsters… that they still feel.  They still have purpose.  They have drive. There are different levels of course, and Kelly, being a more sentient one, has special gifts bestowed upon her, and what a blessing because all vampires once newly turned want to connect with their dear ones, and she’s just very fortunate to have been blessed with the assistance of Eichhorst and Feelers, and she’ll stop at nothing.  So she’s still very much focused and driven by that desire and need.

Q:  We got to see Kelly and Eichhorst kind of bond when he was teaching her how to apply her makeup, etc.  How will we see that relationship progress throughout the rest of the season?

NB:  Well, I will say that one of the most poignant scenes from Season 1 was Eichhorst’s ceremoniously putting on his face, and I had joked with some of the writers last season that now that Kelly has become a strigoi, my only wish would be to hang out with Eichhorst and maybe borrow some concealer.  You can only imagine how thrilled I was when that wish came true.  Eichhorst would be one of my favorite characters from Season 1, and being one of the most fully fleshed-out strigoi, I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.  Richard Sammel portrays Eichhorst superbly, and he has coined the relationship a “Bonnie and Clyde partnership.”  I’m just very fortunate to be in his—or to be his people.  I look forward to more of the Eichhorst/Kelly relationship.

Q:  Now that Kelly is more sentient, do you feel that her human nature is coming forward more, and is it so forward that her desire to protect Zach might make her at some point turn against The Master, or is she still in control?

NB:  He is The Master, after all.  So he is the wheel.  But the emotional palette in the well is running deeper the longer that she’s a sentient being, and access to the memories definitely fuels her need to connect, and there is a possibility for more connection and possibly confusion, but The Master is at the helm at all times.  So I think that once you are a strigoi, your only desire is to connect, and that way is, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, to turn.  So I don’t know if it’s something that would necessarily go against her new instincts as this new being, but I do think that she still ultimately wants to protect him.

Q:  So then, does she want to turn her son, or does she just want to be with him?

NB:  I think they’re one and the same.  I think that a vampire turns a loved one because that is the way to be with them, that is the way to protect them, to offer them protection from how vulnerable they think they are as humans, and that is still the goal…

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Q:  Is it just that she wants to get Zach, or is she also trying to hurt Eph at the same time?  Is she that aware of what she’s doing?

NB:  I think she will take no prisoners, and whoever is in her way will have to suffer the consequences.  I think that a lot of the circumstances that were present before Kelly was turned are retained within her memories and fuel the feud that was between Kelly and Eph.  I’ve said it before — and Guillermo [del Toro] had described this as “the custody battle that never ends” in the first audition — and now, I know exactly what he was talking about.

Q:  What can fans expect the rest of the season and into the next?  Because it seems like the stakes are getting higher and higher…

NB: I know… the battle lines continue to be drawn.  Alliances continue to be formed and made.  Alliances continue to be crossed.  This story just get richer and more exciting by the episode, and I’m as anxious as everyone else to see what the writers have in store next season and can’t wait for everyone to see how the rest of this season unfolds.  It does only get bigger and better and bolder.

“The Strain” Episode 2.09 – “The Battle for Red Hook” (airs 9/6/15)
Justine (Samantha Mathis) takes drastic measures to counter a surprise invasion. Nora (Mia Maestro) and Fet (Kevin Durand) perform a useful mission while Eph (Corey Stoll) and Setrakian (David Bradley) face off against an old foe.

Check out “The Strain” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more.

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Battle of the Hell Priests: Gary J. Tunnicliffe’s Idea for Hellraiser: Judgment Sequel

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I think it’s safe to say that many of us were pleasantly surprised by director Gary J. Tunnicliffe’s Hellraiser: Judgment. The film was a fun blast of twisted horror, and Tunnicliffe’s performance as The Auditor was a killer addition to the Hellraiser lore.

But has the director thought about a sequel to his film? Not during shooting evidently.

“I had no concept of a sequel, a spinoff, nothing at all,” the director told Screen Rant. “People suggest, ‘Oh, you’re trying to write a sequel for The Auditor and stuff like that.’ It’s like, ‘Are you f***ng kidding?’ I was just trying to swim to the other bank and survive without being eaten by the sharks.”

But now that filming is long over with, Tunnicliffe says he does have some ideas for a sequel.

“I have thought about it afterward, what I think would be great fun,” he says. “Maybe a new Cenobite ruler comes in or takes over, and a new head priest comes in, and it’s not working out and clearly this person, this Cenobite’s not doing a great job. And underhandedly, The Auditor is leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the guy who is Pinhead to find his way back, and he gets pulled in. And then it’s like, he turns up, and it’s like a showdown between the newly born Pinhead and this guy who’s taken over his mantle… we do a bit of a standoff, and it’s like a battle of the Hell priests.”

Battle of the Hell priests? Pardon the pun, but Hell, yeah! Would you like to see Tunnicliffe’s Hellraiser sequel? Let us know below!

Hellraiser: Judgment stars Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, Jeff Fenter, Helena Grace Donald, Grace Montie, John Gulager, Diane Goldner, Heather Langenkamp, and Paul T. Taylor as Pinhead.

The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital.

Special features:

  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Gag reel

BUY IT HERE!

Synopsis:
The dreaded Pinhead returns in the next terrifying chapter of the classic Hellraiser series. Three detectives trying to stop a diabolical serial killer are sucked into a maze of otherworldly horror, where hellish denizens including the Auditor, the Assessor, and the Jury await to pass judgment.

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Such Sights to Show You – 02/21/18

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What’s in a name? In this latest edition of Such Sights to Show you’re about to find out a great deal, that’s what! Read on for the usual cartoon shenanigans.

Kevin D. Clark is a cartoonist from Scotland who grew up watching classic monster movies, cartoons and wrestling, as well as reading comics. He started drawing at an early age and hasn’t stopped since. His sense of humor is a veritable cornucopia of the wacky and weird inspired by the likes of Monty Python, Mel Brooks, “MST3K,” Rab C. Nesbitt, as well as his older brother.

Kevin was diagnosed with Aspergers and because of that, he tries to push himself to work as hard as possible. Kevin also has a self-published comic book and helps run a film club for autistic people. He has recently earned a degree in cartooning from the London Art College and he’s pretty sure that he could take an octopus in a fight.

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Last Meeple Standing

Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination – Last Meeple Standing Game Overview and Review

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I’m going to kill you. Well, actually, me and few friends are going to snuff you. We are going to use… ummmmm… a bunch of old socks, a bucket of lighter fluid, and a piece of quartz to do it. Believe it. This is all because a machine that took a drop of your blood told you your cause of death would be “Blaze,” whatever that means. As assassins, it is our job to see you shuffle off your mortal coil in that manner (somehow, no matter how vague) using only a random assortment of items to force that death upon you. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. And we LIKE our job. It makes us laugh, you see.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Hahn

In the world of Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination (MoD for short), a device has been invented that uses a single drop of your blood it takes when you stick your hand in it to predict, in VERY vague terms, how you are going to die. The catch lies in that vagueness. When the machine spits out the card with your cause of death, it is going to be one or two words that may or may not make any sense to you. For example, the card that pops out of the machine might say “Elephant.” How the hell is an elephant going to kill you if you live in Modesto? Just avoid circuses and trips to Jakarta, right? Wrong. What about that billboard for Elephant brand tires that falls off a four-story building and squishes you into strawberry jam?

MoD puts players in the role of killers whose job it is to make sure the Machine of Death pays off in…well…death. The problem, and the fun, of the challenge is that you HAVE to use a randomly drawn assortment of items to send your victim on to the next life. If MoD didn’t have such a dark theme, I’d call it a party game. Wait…fuck it. It IS a party game. Who am I kidding? It is hysterically funny to try, within a limited amount of time, to bring about the timely end of your target.

COMPONENTS:

Shall I start drooling all over this game right away? Yes! Commence drooling. The hefty, glossy game box comes packed with goodies: a huge pack of Death Cards, the cards that pop out of the MoD; a big box of Black Market Gift Cards, the items used to kill the victims with; a pack of Specialist Cards, bonus cards you can be awarded with to aid in our murderous adventures; a book of Target Intel Sheets, slips where you list various important traits for your victim; a wooden Fate Coin, which is flipped at various points in the game to help with decisions; a Mission booklet; and a nifty, red, custom die with a skull symbol for the “1.” All of this schwag is top-notch, high-quality stuff. The art on the cards is whimsical and very functional. The Death Cards look like those cards that used to pop out of the Fortune-Telling Gypsy booths on the boardwalk when you put a quarter in. The Black Market Gift Cards are designed to look like credit cards on one side with cute iconography identifying the item in question. The Specialist Cards have really fun artwork depicting the helpers you are awarded with if you kill particularly well. Lastly, anyone who frequents this column knows I’m totally nutty for custom dice, and this game scores with theirs. An embossed skull? Yes, please!

SETUP:

Separate out and shuffle the Death, Black Market Gift, and Specialist Card decks, and place each deck nearby face down. Draw one Death Card face down to the table. Count out 20 of the Black Market Gift Cards face down as your “shopping budget” for the game and put the rest away. Create your victim on an Intel slip using the tables in the rule book or select one from the Mission booklet. This will give the players some important and helpful insight into the target, allowing them to manipulate both their tools and the target for the kill. Turn over the Death Card and draw three Black Market Gift Cards face up in a row. Put the sand timer nearby, and you are ready to annihilate the victim.

GAMEPLAY:

It is important to remember that the game is more about fun storytelling than beating the dice. The more the players work together to come up with good stories, the better the gameplay is going to be. If you lose, so what? The game sets up in moments and is ready to go again, with fresh people just lining up to visit with Death.

Each game lasts for four rounds (four assassination targets). Each round you will do the following in order:

  1. Generate a target.
  2. Make an assassination plan.
  3. Attempt the kill.

If you fail at any kill, you lose. Too bad, so sad. If the kill is successful, you stand a chance to earn bonus Specialist Cards before moving on to the next assassination.

To generate a target, you use a series of simple tables and basically answer questions Mad Libs style to come up with Name, two pieces of intel (such as likes, dislikes, fears, beliefs, etc.), and a location for them. This meta-game is sorta fun all by itself. Making up goofy characters to slaughter shortly thereafter is a good time, right?

Next, the players look at the gift cards that have been turned up and try to come up with a way to use them to bring about the demise of the target. Keep in mind that these gifts are not going to be simple, single words, like: chainsaw, acid, or rifle. More than likely, they will be something like “something red.” In this case you could say, for example, it is a pile of bricks, a red dump truck, or a red baseball bat. String together a story of sorts from all of the items you have to form the death plan. If you had the cards music, something red, and batteries, you could come up with: “We’re going to block him into an alley with a red dump truck, confuse him with loud Skinny Puppy music so he doesn’t try to escape, and then pour battery acid on him from above.” All is good and well, but now you have to, as a team, try to assign a difficulty, from 2 (easy) to 6 (hella hard), for each of the three parts. How hard is it to accomplish each part? You might say that backing the truck block the alley is easy, so a 2, but getting enough battery acid together to kill the person might be hard, so maybe a 5.

To attempt the kill, you turn over the sand timer and get started as quickly as possible, because once the timer runs out, it’s game over, man! Starting with the first item in your plan, select a player to roll the die, in an attempt to roll the decided-upon difficulty level or greater. If you succeed, move on to the next item! If you fail, discard that item card, draw another, and revise you plan using the remaining items. The remaining items can operate the same way they did before, or you can create new uses and new difficulty levels for them. Then start over, attempting to succeed with all three items in your plan. If you roll greater than the difficulty level you set for all three items, your assassination is carried off for that victim. If you still have time on the clock, roll the die and consult the Aftermath table, which will let you attempt to flee the scene, establish an alibi, cater the target’s wake (really), etc. by drawing one item card and attempting a plan against that item. Win and you get to roll again, draw again, and try again if there is still time on the timer. For each successful roll, you get to draw a Specialist card and set it aside for the moment. These cards allow you to switch them out for item cards on subsequent assassination attempts, basically giving you more options of a unique and interesting kind (e.g., “water into wine,” “killer solo,” or “flying saucer ride”).

WINNING:

You win by successfully killing all four targets. Good job. You’re a serial killer. You lose if at any time you run out of both Gift Cards and Specialists before all four targets are dead. You also lose if you fail to kill a target before the timer runs out. What? You think you get a lifetime to snuff anyone you want? Guess again, killer!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

By now, my enthusiasm for this game should be self-evident. I fricking LOVE MoD! The components are great, but the gameplay is even better! You’ve got a winner already, but I’ve been holding some info back from you, readers. This game is based on two awesome books of short stories delving into the possibilities of the wicked machine: Machine of Death and This Is How You Die. Both of them are chock full of hysterical…and creepy…stories of the fates of folks who fall victim to the machine. Not only that, but the website dedicated to this game, machineofdeath.net, is packed with bonus goodies for players: an Intel randomizer, timer music albums you can use in place of the sand timer (fun!), more missions, and target Intel blank sheets. Wow! The website also has pins, patches, posters, death certificates, t-shirts, etc. for fans to pick up if they love the game, which I suspect they will. Mind you, I’m not trying to sell you anything here, but WOW! What a bunch of cool-ass stuff! But wait, there’s MORE, and this may be the best part: there is a gigantor expansion for MoD. The Side Effects expansion includes more than 600 additional cards to plan deaths with: Death Cards, a Genre Deck, Intel, and what they call “Web Pals + Chums,” cards designed by famous Web personalities and illustrators (these cards are particularly awesome, according to ME).

There you have it…one of my favorite games in my collection. I’m happy to admit I have pretty much everything available for this game. Yes, I love assassination THAT much! This game is perfect for nights when you need a break from heavier games but are still in the mood for some mayhem and murder. I’ve rarely played MoD in public without some random stranger begging to please sit in on the next game. I strongly urge all of my readers to take the time and effort to find a copy and pick this up as soon as possible…or my friends and I will kill you.

PRODUCT DETAILS:

Designer: David Fooden, David Malki, and Kris Straub
Artists: Kris Straub
Publisher: TopatoCo
Published: 2013
Players/Playtime: 2-4 players/30 min
Suggested Player Age: 15+

RATING:
5/5

Last Meeple Standing is brought to you by Villainous Lair Comics & Games, the ultimate destination for board game fanatics in Southern California. For more information visit the official Villainous Lair Comics & Games website, “Like” the Villainous Lair Facebook page and be sure to follow Villainous Lair on Twitter and Instagram.

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