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Science+Fiction Festival Report: Christopher Lee on Modern Horror Movies

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Christopher Lee (click for larger image)In late November the 2009 Science+Fiction Festival was held in Trieste, Italy. This happening is an international science fiction event dedicated to exploring the worlds of fantasy, experimental languages, and new technologies in film production, television, and visual and performing arts.

Most of the movies and lectures were concentrated on science fiction and fantasy, but there was quite a good share of horror related happenings. While the majority of attendees were psyched that cyberpunk guru Bruce Sterling was presiding over the international jury, I was mainly interested in visits by two legendary horror icons — Roger Corman, who was just awarded with an “early” honorary Oscar, and Sir Christopher Lee, who had recently been knighted during the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

These two genre heavyweights were certainly the icing on the top of a well produced and run film festival for me, but unfortunately, due to business obligations I missed Corman, who gave an introduction to a couple of screenings of his cult movies The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven, and Masque of the Red Death. Christopher Lee was the star of the final two days of the event, and it was certainly interesting to listen to his 90-minute masterclass as well as an honor to meet him afterward.

The masterclass was held inside a nearby museum building in a jam-packed auditorium. I was pleasantly surprised that Mr. Lee decided to attend the event as just a couple of weeks ago, shortly after the final shot of Hammer’s The Resident with Hilary Swank, he tripped and seriously injured his back. Lee is now in his late eighties, and he looked a bit shaken-up (who wouldn’t be?), but the man was still full of energy.

The topics discussed with the general audience were not something of grave importance to horror movie buffs as Lee talked about Lord of the Rings, meeting Tolkien way back in Oxford, his career that almost bypassed movies and went to opera, and more. Overall it was an incredible treat to listen as this living legend shared of himself.

Science+Fiction Festival Report: Christopher Lee on Modern Horror Movies

After his talk was over, a select few members of media had a chance to do one-on-one interviews with him. Mr Lee was a bit tired and slightly upset that said interviews weren’t brought to his attention earlier so I decided to ask him just one of the several questions I had planned.

My question was “What do you think about modern horror movies?” “I don’t watch them,” Lee paused for a bit and then carried on, “I have seen photographs of them, and I find them revolting. They make a fatal mistake – they show everything. They say that this is what the audience wants, which to me is incredible. It is what you don’t see, not what you do see, that is frightening. Everything is sex, blood, insides taken out, and blood, blood, blood … I am just not interested in that at all”.

During the interviews Mr. Lee was accompanied by Philip Bergson, a fairly pompous film critic from the United Kingdom, who almost shut me down when I started with my horror related questions. Apparently horror is not one of the topics Christopher Lee likes to discuss. Especially his portrayal of the Dracula character. During the masterclass, when the questions began to delve into this area, Bergson abruptly put a stop to things. He didn’t even refer to the Count character by his name; instead he was referred to as “that character based on Bram Stoker’s novel“.

When it was over, in the elevator I learned one of the questions a local journalist was planning to ask but didn’t get a chance to. It would have been a blast to see the reaction of Lee and Bergson. The question was as follows: “Mr. Lee, what do you think about the differences between Dracula and the Twilight vampire movies?

Oh, the horror…

BK

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George A. Romero’s Daughter, Tina, Wrote a Script For Queens of the Dead

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The loss last year of director George A. Romero was a huge blow to the horror community, as well as the filmmaking community at large. The passing of the man responsible for creating the modern day zombie and whose work influenced “The Walking Dead”, Dead Alive, 28 Days Later, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out was felt far and wide but we take solace knowing that his work and legacy will live on forever.

Something that brings a smile to my face is hearing that his daughter, Tina, who DJ’s under the name DJ TRx, has written a screenplay for a zombie film that is called Queens of the Dead. And yes, it’s very gay! Romero has not only written the script but also plans on directing the film herself.

Romero tells The Saunder Blog about the film, saying, “Queens of the Dead is a fusion of two huge parts of my world: zombies and Gay nightlife. It’s a tribute to my father as well as my entrée into the genre he grandfathered. I can’t say too much yet, but what I can tell you is that this film will have all the hallmarks of a George A. Romero classic: farce, politics, heroes, assholes, and most importantly, herds of silly and slow moving walkers that you can’t help but love. But I’m doing it Tina-style, and bringing the glitter, choreography, queers & queens.

Romero’s father always brought some sort of social message into his work, so to hear that she will continue that tradition is inspiring, especially since it comes on a topic that is so discussed and topical.

If you want to read more about Romero and her DJ career, click on the link above.

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?

Wanna See Something REALLY Scary? Local 58 Contingency Emergency Broadcast

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary

“Wanna see something REALLY scary?”

To horror fans who came of age in the 1980s, the line above instantly evokes memories of Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks in the opening scene from Twilight Zone: The Movie. Now, on a bi-monthly basis, I’ll be asking, “Wanna see something REALLY scary?” with the goal of shocking you with chilling footage plumbed from the darkest corners of YouTube.

As a child of the Cold War born in the 1970s and traumatized by films like The Day After and Threads, I remember immediately panicking every time an Emergency Broadcast broke into a TV show I was watching. That alarming tone made my stomach drop and in the moments before it was confirmed to be “only a test” I had already imagined a barrage of nuclear warheads bursting overhead.

My heart went out to the residents of Hawaii who, due to a false alarm, believed a missile attack was imminent this weekend. For almost 40 minutes, families scrambled into fallout shelters, bathrooms, and even storm drains, believing war had begun between the United States and North Korea. Even after the all-clear was announced and the warning revealed as a mistake, nerves were severely rattled. I can only imagine the potential long-term damage done to the psyches of Hawaii’s youngest residents.

For a taste of the pandemonium that occurred, check out an excerpt from CNN’s reporting below.

While the shock must have been unprecedented for most, a bizarre alert that accidentally aired in the late 1960s puts the Hawaii debacle to shame. What viewers of a local station saw just before the end of programming at 3 am was a message announcing the fall of the US Government, and included instructions for committing suicide rather than surrendering to enemy forces.

Wanna see something REALLY scary?

The message bore the seal of The U.S. Department for the Preservation of American Dignity, included a statement from President Lyndon B. Johnson, and warned that failure to commit suicide as instructed would have consequences:

“Your local law enforcement has been ordered to ensure your compliance,” the message cautioned. “It is against the law to delay.” The final instructions remind adult viewers to put down their children and pets first while promising “There is nothing to fear.” Though the station later posted a statement ensuring viewers the message was a hoax, the potential loss of life this broadcast could have inspired is staggering. Have a look:

If the Local 58 Contingency, as it’s become known, seems too outlandish to be true, that’s because it isn’t. Though the video doesn’t include an admission of fiction, it’s written and directed by Kris Straub. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the writer of the popular creepypasta Candle Cove, recently adapted into a TV series on SyFy.

Still, the vintage look of the Local 58 Contingency, not to mention the current climate of heightened tensions between American and a rogue nuclear nation, make this video a truly terrifying viewing experience.

Got an idea for a future installment of “Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?” Hit me up on Twitter @josh_millican!

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The Housemaid Haunts a New Trailer

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Here’s the thing… if we had the choice between cleaning up our own house or being haunted by a vengeful spectral servant of sorts, well… just hand us a friggin’ mop, wouldja already? Still, in the case of The Housemaid, it looks like nothing is gonna stop her from sensing shivers! Dig on this new trailer.

Derek Nguyen directs the flick, which stars Kate Nhung, Jean-Michel Richaud, Kim Xuan, Svitlana Kovalenko, and Rosie Fellner. Look for IFC Midnight’s release of The Housemaid coming to select theaters, VOD, and via Digital platforms in the U.S. on February 16, 2018.

Synopsis:
A forbidden passion awakens vengeful spirits within a haunted mansion in this bloodcurdling, erotic tour-de-force.

Vietnam, 1953: Linh (Nhung Kate), a poor, orphaned young woman, finds employment as a housemaid in a crumbling rubber plantation presided over by the emotionally fragile French officer Sebastien Laurent (Jean-Michel Richaud). Soon, a torrid love affair develops between the two – a taboo romance that rouses the ghost of Laurent’s dead wife, who won’t rest until blood flows.

Submerged in moody Gothic atmosphere, this stylish supernatural saga confronts the dark shadows of Vietnam’s colonial past while delivering heart-stopping scares.

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