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Garris, Mick (Dark Delicacies III: Haunted)

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An interview with Mick GarrisAnyone in the horror industry who HASN’T heard of Mick Garris, the Nicest Guy in Hollywood, needs a good smack! A prolific producer/director of many of the TV adaptations of Stephen King’s works including The Stand and The Shining as well as being the father of the Masters of Horror series, Garris is also a published author. His two books to date, Development Hell and A Life in the Cinema are hilariously scathing looks at the “real” Hollywood (if Hollywood has any elements that could be called “real”). And now, he has contributed another “roast” of La-La Land for Dark Delicacies III: Haunted, “Tyler’s Third Act”.

Dread Central managed to catch the never-stopping-for-a-breather Garris for a brief interview before he hits the editing room for his latest film. And as always, he is THE nicest guy!


DC: Hello for the, I believe, third time now, Mick. One of my favorite interviewees! And thank you for taking time out of your production schedule to participate in this Dark Delicacies” “project”. How did you find yourself becoming a part of Del and Jeff’s latest anthology?

MG: Jeff and I have been friends since the Seventies, when he was a DJ on a local rock radio station, and I was the singer in a band in San Diego. We were both genre hounds at the time. Del and I have been friends for a long time as well, but not nearly so long as Jeff and I. They’d asked me to be a part of the first one, but I just didn’t have the time then. I’ve been writing fiction since I was 12 years old, and been getting it published with some regularity since the Eighties, so with my visibility in the horror film and TV world, as well as a track record with fiction, and the not-so-coincidental friendships, it was just a matter of when I’d be able to do it. The time was right: I had a story idea and the time to write it.

DC: Your story, “Tyler’s Third Act”, reminded me of something Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., and Jack Black all said in the behind-the-scenes for the Hollywood-skewing Tropic Thunder, which is that none of them would ever get work again after the movie opened. Obviously they were kidding and Downey even got an Oscar nomination, but this story really exposes the nasty underside of Hollywood and the film industry. I assume you fear no man or woman in the industry taking umbrage at your story?

MG: Well, hell, I’ve made a bit of a sideline writing the kind of fiction that nobody will make into movies. My novel, Development Hell, was even more of a feeding-hand biter than “Tyler”. I always enjoy reading an insider’s view of what he’s satirizing. And the world of movies and television is easily satirized. But I wanted to take it down to the level of the troops, not the usual movie-star, People Magazine celebrity, but the real-world, get-up-before-dawn work in the trenches types and the inevitable career hills and valleys the guys without marquee names go through. And, of course, exaggerate it just enough to not lose credibility. And I find that the darker you go, the funnier it gets. To a point.

DC: How did this story come into being? Some true-life event or just your observation of the film industry and how it eats its young?

An interview with Mick GarrisMG: No one event. But seeing the worlds I’ve worked in evolving as everything does, particularly in these times of financial woes. I love to look at the egos of those involved in this business and puncture them a bit. It’s like any other business, just with a spotlight shining on it. As movies for television and miniseries have sort of disappeared, as independent film production is fading away, as unique and interesting stand-alone films are increasingly replaced by sequels and remakes for and about teenagers, I wanted “Tyler” to have a primal scream, so I can keep a smile on my face.

DC: What is Mick Garris’ definition of “haunted”, as it applies to this collection?

MG: I haven’t gotten a copy of the book yet, so I couldn’t tell you. But as far as “Tyler” goes, in this story he’s being haunted by the dreams of what he could have been (a contender?), crushed in the ashtray of his life. Only in his ultimate failure could he have achieved the fame and fortune of his dreams. It sure isn’t his talent that would rescue him.

DC: Being in the thick of the film industry, it may be hard to show “favoritism”, but what are some of your current favorite horror films?

MG: I love the stuff by Guillermo del Toro, who seems to be doing some of the most original works of horrific fantasy of recent years. I thought Midnight Meat Train was terrific, a lot of the work the guys did on Masters of Horror, without having the burden of being mall-tested and focused-grouped to death, allowed some of the best filmmakers in horror history to do some of their best work without interference. I can’t say I’m much enamored of teen horror, or horror comedy, or franchises.

DC: And some of your favorite horror writers/novels?

MG: Well, King, of course. We’re working on getting Bag of Bones off the ground, and it’s one of my very favorite of his. I love Matheson, Bradbury, Barker. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, but I’d love to find the best of the new breed. There’s so much going on in publishing that it’s becoming harder to find fresh new work in horror fiction, just like in Hollywood. I’m a big fan of Charlie Huston, though he’s not exactly a horror writer. And the noir authors of the Thirties and Forties—Cain, Chandler, Woolrich, and a bunch of the pulp guys that Hard Case has been publishing—have some of the richest, most compelling work on the printed (or Kindled) page.

DC: The question everyone seems to be asking in one way or another is, “Where are the current trends in horror films taking viewers?” What are your feelings about the current batch of CGI-driven/PG-13/pretty 20-something “actors”/torture porn in horror films?

MG: I just don’t have much interest. Give me a story I haven’t heard before, people it with characters I recognize and can empathize and sympathize with, and I’m hooked. Take me somewhere unexpected, and I’m yours. But franchises and remakes and bland teen-appeal, frightless fright films don’t really interest me. CGI is just a tool, and you can use it well or badly. If it’s your raison d’etre, well, wake me when it’s over. But if it’s used because it’s the best way to tell the story, then hurray. I mean, Jurassic Park was the first movie that relied on CG effects, and I thought it was wonderfully successful. It’s the only way to tell that tale.

An interview with Mick GarrisDC: Many people may be unaware that you ARE a published author yourself as well as an amazing director, Development Hell and My Life in the Cinema being two of your books. Which outlet do you enjoy more: writing or directing?

MG: I love them both. Screenwriting is a bit more limiting than fiction writing, as there are a lot more rules: you have to consider budget, schedule, actors, studio notes, all of that. But in fiction, it’s much freer. But directing is a wonderful explosion of creativity that you’re sharing with a massive crew and cast. It’s a train that takes a long, slow ride climbing the hill of pre-production, but once you’re shooting, it’s a runaway train that you can’t jump off of or run out of the way.

DC: According to the ever (un)reliable IMDb, you are currently in production directing Stephen King’s Bag of Bones as well as producing King’s From a Buick 8. Do you ever SLEEP, Mick??

MG: Well, we’re not in production on either one yet, but getting closer. There are several other things in the works, but ultimately, only a small percentage of the stuff on the table ever sees the light of day. I used to only work on one thing at a time (and literally, I still do), but having several projects on the burners is the only way to keep going. And ultimately, the next production comes up unexpectedly, and you’ll find yourself shooting in Toronto on something you’d never heard of three weeks before you’re on the plane.

DC: May I make the assumption that as long as Stephen King continues to write, you and Frank Darabont will have major films to direct/produce/etc.?

MG: Well, Frank’s will surely be more major. But I love Steve and his work. We just seem to connect, as friends as well as collaborators. There are plenty of people making “Stephen King Movies”, but nothing would make me happier than to continue being among them.

DC: What advice would you give people who want to break into the horror fiction genre? There is a LOT of crapola out there right now (no titles, please).

MG: Just write something that can stand out from the pack, develop a voice and use it. And keep writing. It’s something you can get better and better at as time goes by, just by living. But practicing keeps you getting better. The more you read, the more you experience, the more you see, the better writer you can become. But you have to tell a story that feels new and fresh. Not that you can’t be successful as a hack, in publishing as well as screenwriting, by regurgitating what’s already out there. You might even find greater success by following trends and focus groups and box office charts. If so, more power to you. But if you can give voice in a unique and compelling and entertaining way, I think your success can last longer.

DC: Are there more novels in your future, Mick?

MG: Yes. I hope. Depends on time and all, but I actually wrote a script that I meant to be an expanded outline for a new novel called The Director’s Cut, but it looks like we might actually be turning it into a film. But that would be my next novel, if I get the time to write it.

DC: Would you like to add anything I haven’t covered?

MG: No, it’s fun to talk about fiction rather than the filmed material for a change. Thanks for the opportunity.

DC: Finally, do you ever get tired of being (honestly) described as The Nicest Guy in Hollywood?

MG: Well, I blush. I haven’t heard it that much, but the name of my corporation is Nice Guy Productions. I used it as a joke on my first short film. I had recently been divorced, and when I was going out again, I started getting “you’re such a nice guy” from women I was dating, and it really wasn’t the response I was hoping for. But it’s important to me that you don’t have to be an asshole to live a decent life in this business. So it’s a joke and a philosophy.

A big thanks to Mick for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with us.

By Elaine Lamkin

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Check Out the Opening 2 Minutes of Another WolfCop

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It was just earlier today that we brought you guys The Dude Design’s the newest poster for writer-director Lowell Dean’s horror-comedy sequel Another WolfCop.

And now we have the movie’s opening 2 minutes!

The clip showcases the new flick’s villain trying to sell us on his “Chicken Milk Beer” before losing his cool and taking it out the commercial’s crew. We then cut to a ragtag group of criminals, dressed as homeless Santas trying to outrun the cops.

A fun two-minutes if you ask me!

You can check out Another WolfCop‘s opening scene below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media!

The film is written and directed by Lowell Dean, produced by Bernie Hernando, Deborah Marks, and Hugh Patterson, and distributed worldwide by Cineplex.

Another WolfCop co-stars Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, and Serena Miller. The film also features special appearances from Canadian music icon Gowan and legendary filmmaker Kevin Smith. It was executive produced by Sean Buckley, J. Joly, Bill Marks, Brian Wideen, Michael Kennedy, and Michael Hirsch.

The film is slated for a wide Cineplex theatrical release on Friday, December 8, 2017, with the film seeing a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital home entertainment release through A71 and Black Fawn in 2018.

Synopsis:

A month has passed since the eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou into the crime-fighting hellion WolfCop. Although the Shape Shifters controlling the town have been extinguished, Woodhaven is far from returning to normal. Lou’s liquor-fueled antics and full moon outbursts are seriously testing his relationship with Officer Tina Walsh – the new Chief of Police. An old friend has mysteriously reappeared with a truly bizarre secret to share, and a homicidal new villain has emerged from the shadows looking to finish what the Shape Shifters started. To defeat this lethal adversary, it will take more than a lone wolf packing a pistol.

Prepare for the next chapter of WolfCop that will be more dirty and hairy than the original! Consider yourself warned.

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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.86 (7 votes)
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Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – First Trailer and Artwork!

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As a fan of flicks like Mad Monster Party, I was surprisingly pleased with the last two Hotel Transylvania affairs. For my money you can put the classic monsters in just about anything, and I’ll watch it happily, and these animated features feel like a natural progression of the 1967 Rankin and Bass classic. Which is why I’m looking forward to Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and if you are too, check out the film’s new trailer and poster.

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who co-wrote the film with Michael McCullers, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation features the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, and Mel Brooks.

Look for it in theaters on July 13, 2018.

Synopsis:
In Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. It’s smooth sailing for Drac’s Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans.

But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.

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