WonderCon 2016: Damien Creator & Cast Shed Some Light on the Antichrist - Dread Central
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WonderCon 2016: Damien Creator & Cast Shed Some Light on the Antichrist

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Barbara Hershey, Damien

So, turns out you’re the Antichrist. No, not the kind your mom called you when you decided to shave the side of your head and start wearing blue eyeliner. The literal inverse of Christ. For all that he’s holy and good, you’re unholy and bad. He’s rainbows and forgiveness, and you’re eternal damnation and violent dismemberment.

The kicker is that you didn’t even ask to be the Antichrist! And you thought inheriting your dad’s receding hairline was a bummer.

This is the story that A&E’s new series “Damien” aims to tell. If that weren’t enough to spark your interest, this also serves as an official sequel to the 1976 horror classic The Omen. Yup, we’re talking about that Damien. With the titular character now in his 30s, it’s time for him to take his rightful place as the herald of end times. The problem is that he doesn’t remember any of that being the spawn of Satan stuff and isn’t quite sure how to take it.

As if making a serial drama about the Antichrist as a sequel to a film that’s 40 years old wasn’t already a big enough task, this also replaces the canon that the second two films established. Even if you are of the opinion that this is probably a good thing, it’s still a monumental task.

So when the good people at A&E reached out and asked if I’d like some time to talk to a few of the cast members and the executive producer at WonderCon 2016, it didn’t require any divine prophecy for me to figure out my answer.

At the forefront of my questions was a simple one, “Why? After all this time, why make a ‘Damien’ show? What story do you hope to tell?” It’s a loaded question despite being simple, but one that I think most fans are honestly thinking. Luckily, I was able to address this right off the bat as I sat down with executive producer Glen Mazzara. Here’s what he had to say about the show:

Glen: When the people at [production company] Fox approached me, it was after the success of shows like “Hannibal” and “Bates Motel,” and they were wondering what they could do reviving their other iconic characters. They came to me and asked, “What would you do if you could make a show based on The Omen?” So I thought about it and realized that I wondered what that character was like now. With “Damien,” I had a chance to tell a unique story. You see all kinds of devils and demons in TV and movies, but I haven’t seen a really good telling of what it would mean to be the Antichrist. As a Catholic, I was taught that Christ was fully human and fully divine. With Damien, I wanted a character that was fully human and fully evil. Both of them are still men. They both have the capacity to doubt and have folly. No matter how much they might struggle against it, they can’t change what they are. It’s more than just destiny; it’s who they are incarnate.

I got the chance to ask him about the decision to disregard the second two films and what respect he had for the canon. Here’s what Glen had to say about that:

Glen: At the end of Damien: Omen 2, Damien is fully aware that he is evil and has a task. You get into this rhythm where he looks at someone funny and they get killed in an accident. I felt that would constrain me to a repeating style of storytelling. With the story that I wanted to tell, the struggle between the human and evil side of Damien, I needed to split from that formula. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have an incredible respect for the source material. We really thought about the world that “Damien” is set in. For example, the seven daggers of Megiddo. We thought about, “Where did these daggers come from, and who made them?” So we added to that mythology. In the Book of Revelations, there are seven original churches. In the show, each of the daggers bears the name of one of those original churches. Now that these daggers are in play, who has them, where they are, or if they are missing adds characterization to that story element. I felt that the original film was rich enough to just pull from, and my goal was to take that and deepen it.

Glen Mazzara

A bit later, he went on to explain some more of the creative choices he made:

Glen: By about episode three or four, we are telling our own story. This isn’t just an appendix to The Omen. We took what we needed, built upon it, and are telling our own story now. We start in Damascus with Damien working as a war photographer so he already knows the dark depths of reality. A fundamental part of this story is that evil exists in the world already. I didn’t want this to feel magical and hokey, like the apocalypse was some supernatural event happening at midnight on this exact date, and it’s only a matter of getting the right talisman with the right spellbook to do the banishing incantation. We wanted this to be real, how people examine questions of good, evil, God, our nature, and all that. It’s about characters, not a plot. It’s grounded in the real world.

It was a fascinating discussion. If you were on the fence before, you should check it out with what Glen said in mind. There’s more to “Damien” than initially meets the eye.

I was eager to follow up with the cast to see what they had to say about all of this. First up after Glen was Bradley “Makes Watching This With My Girlfriend Awkward” James, star and portrayer of the titular “Damien”:

Bradley: While portraying Damien, it was crucial that I tap into that darkness that’s within all of us. We all have it, those thoughts in the back of our mind that if anyone heard we’d have a lot of explaining to do. For Damien, that darkness is closing in around him and becoming harder to avoid. He hasn’t lost his moral compass, but events keep happening that make the needle point ever more directly into this role as the Antichrist.

Bradley James, Damien

He went on to explain more about the grey area that both the character and show “Damien” inhabit:

Bradley: It would be very easy for Glen to have written a show about the Antichrist where he shows up twirling a moustache and sowing chaos and destruction. People would have fun watching it for a few episodes, but it would get boring. What’s compelling about Damien is that there’s a truth to his character. Evil in the show isn’t just pure “evil.” He’s given compelling reasons to turn to the darkness that we can all relate with. Even saving a child, there’s no telling what kind of person he’ll grow up to be. Damien isn’t just succumbing to darkness because it’s his destiny; we can see the reasons why. There’s a truth to that in all of us.

Barbara Hershey (Ann Rutledge) had more to say on this:

Barbara: With the quality of Glen’s scripts, we don’t have to look hard for our motivation. My character, Ann, is a true believer in the Antichrist. She isn’t some cultist in a robe; she truly believes that the darkness is more true than the light. She doesn’t believe that this is all “God’s” plan, but someone else’s. She’s devout. It’s why she fits in so well into this more subtle world. Even when falling on the extreme spectrum of worshiping evil, Ann is believable. It doesn’t come off as forced or fake because we can see her point. Even if we don’t agree with her, we can understand how she believes this.

Barbara Hershey, Damien

If you haven’t checked out “Damien” yet, hopefully this will give you some insight as to what to expect. It’s a slower paced show that doesn’t sacrifice characterization for scares, and that alone might make it not for everyone. In my opinion, it’s exactly this kind of slower progression that makes it a worthy successor to The Omen.

A new episode premieres tonight on A&E, so tune in and see if it’s for you. You might be a little lost in the thick plot, but I think the quality of the writing speaks for itself.

Fan of the show? Looking forward to trying it out? Wondering if Bradley James is as devilishly good looking in person? (Trick question, he’s even more gorgeous up close.) Let me know in the comments below!

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Friday the 13th: The Game Welcomes Back Shelly Finkelstein This Monday!

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Earlier this past year, all of us Friday the 13th Part 3 fans we delighted when “Friday the 13th: The Game” added in Fox (Gloria Charles) as a playable character.

And now we have the announcement that another beloved character from Friday the 13th Part 3 will be joining the game this December.

Yes, Shelly Finkelstein (Larry Zerner) will be coming back to Camp Crystal Lake!

The Shelly playable character will be available for free with the latest patch. The new update will be coming for PS4 and Steam on Monday, Dec. 18th. The Xbox One patch to follow shortly.

Below you can watch the announcement trailer which was posted on Twitter earlier tonight.

After giving it a watch make sure to let us know how excited you are to see Shelly (aka the man who gave Jason his mask) back in action below!

Shelly Finkelstein hits Friday the 13th: The Game for PS4 and Steam on Monday, Dec. 18th.

Welcome Back Shelly!

The man responsible for 'handing' Jason his mask, Shelly Finkelstein will be coming back to Camp Crystal Lake to troll his fellow counselors…that is until Jason shows up! Get Shelly for free with the latest patch!The latest update will be coming for PS4 and Steam on Monday, Dec. 18th with the Xbox One patch to follow shortly!

Posted by Friday the 13th: The Game on Friday, December 15, 2017

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Graham Humphreys Reveals His Poster For An American Werewolf In London

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Graham Humphreys continues to cement his position as one of the top horror artists in the business with his stunning new poster for An American Werewolf in London. This piece was created as a private commission, and fans of John Landis’ 1981 classic are going to love it. You can view the final design of this incredible poster below.

Final design with text.

Graham also provided us with a detailed statement about the creation of the piece, along with a bunch of screen grabs taken throughout the process. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can see how the final image looks before the text was added. In case you missed it earlier, you can also check out our extended interview with Graham here.

Exclusive Statement from Graham Humphreys
As a commercial artist and illustrator, there is only limited scope to make a job entirely your own – so with each project you are answering a brief in order to fulfill the needs of a client. Of course, the client may choose to give you free reign, though this is with the understanding that you are acknowledging their needs and thus expected to work within certain unspoken parameters. Mostly, these confines are defined by how a product is to be sold, licensing instructions and an understanding a market. With this in mind, the client is paying and thus nominally always right… though it would be unprofessional not to make them aware that other options might work better for them!

Without these commercial constraints, a private commission can remove the barriers because no market is to be met and there is only the artist and the private client to answer to. Creating a poster for a familiar and heavily licensed title is an entirely different prospect if it is not going to be generating money in the public domain and is thus essentially ‘fan art’. Unlike say, a T-shirt company ripping off someone elses art and charging money for the printed image, or perhaps a poster reproduced without permission by either the license owner or artist, then sold for profit.

Here, Dread Central have asked me to talk through one such commission, ‘An American Werewolf in London’, painted as a private commission for an individual that wishes to own a unique image that they themselves have made happen. NB: All likenesses and specific imagery (including the title and names etc) are subject to license and copyright and not for any use other than as examples of a work in progress (and of course, all rights are reserved!). Just need to make sure that it absolutely clear!

The client had commissioned two previous posters from me (as well as numerous poster designs from fellow artists), so a basic understanding of expectations had already been established.

My work begins by watching the film from beginning to end – to re-establish my own connection to the film (if one already exists). I saw ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (in London!) on it’s first run and the proximity to many of the locations (Tottenham Court Road tube station, Piccadilly Circus, being the obvious ones) made it instantly impressionable for me. Existing posters, in particular the official theatrical versions and various home-entertainment sleeves, focused on a limited image pool. My job was to find new ways of representing the film, free of the past baggage, but also to listen to my clients requirements.

Looking for a fresh perspective means avoiding the familiar stills that have defined the past marketing, this is achieved by making screen grabs from the DVD or blu-ray. As with most commercial jobs, I generally make a selection of about 40 images, then review these reducing the number to about 15 that have the best narrative potential, including a good visual range of actor expressions and reactions. My client required the Werewolf, London references, the moors, David and Jack, a full moon and the ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ pub sign… then whatever else I chose to include.

On the basis of the selected screen grabs, I make necessary light and contrast adjustments in photoshop, make them greyscale (removing the distraction of colour) and print them out at a size I can easily trace in pencil onto paper. All the pencil sketches are then scanned into photoshop, so that I can rearrange, resize and move around in order to determine the best layout, one which tells a story and has a visual impact. (I find it’s better to present sketched layouts rather than a photocomp’s, partly because the photographic material is usually of varying quality, but also because a pencil rough is more fluid and does not dictate the final impression).

Selected screen grabs.

Selected screen grabs 2.

My first idea involved a portrait of David looking lost and frightened (I felt this was essential to the story), the Werewolf with it’s head bursting through the cinema shutters/signage (the idea of breaking the fourth wall), the decomposing Jack (a perfect metaphor for David’ s own life falling apart), his nightmare of the home invasion (one of the most effective and horrific moments in the film, I felt), plus Brian Glover’s ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ local – a look that defines rednecks and racists the word over when confronted by ‘other’!). I also wanted to add the tube attack victim to open up the carnage. Although Jenny Agutter’s nurse added the romantic dimension for an audience that expects the convention, I wanted to concentrate on David’s story, so chose to only include her face as if she were painted on the shutters, ie. a film poster element.

I was surprised that the client didn’t want the home invasion creatures, nor the reference to the sleazy cinema hordings (which I thought made a good location gag – obviously not!), they also did not want the rotting Jack. It was disappointing to lose these great horror elements, especially as they’d particularly wanted ‘horror’! But a compromise was reached by including the transformation scene at the bottom, and reinstating the moors (which I’d thought unnecessary).

Fortunately, my second sketch was well received and the painting could commence.

On the basis of the selected screen grabs, I make necessary light and contrast adjustments in photoshop, make them greyscale (removing the distraction of colour) and print them out at a size I can easily trace in pencil onto paper. All the pencil sketches are then scanned into photoshop, so that I can rearrange, resize and move around in order to determine the best layout, one which tells a story and has a visual impact. (I find it’s better to present sketched layouts rather than a photocomp’s, partly because the photographic material is usually of varying quality, but also because a pencil rough is more fluid and does not dictate the final impression).

Once I have my sketch approved I reintroduced the photographic source material over the sketched parts, so that my layout remains exactly as approved and so that I’ll have the best possible likenesses to trace onto the watercolour paper.

Early sketched elements.

I usually have a basic idea of what colours I’m going to use. In this instance I knew that I wanted a silvery blue moonlight to bathe the entire image, but also the contrast of the orange glow of artificial lighting, the pub and cinema foyer. I knew the big splash of red in the wolf’s jaw would jump out, becoming the focal point. This painting took about three days to complete, the sketch process (including the grabs) about a day upfront.

Composition design.

The final painting was scanned and all the text added in photoshop.

My client will now make a full size poster print, to be framed, from the file I send him. Next up, ‘The Thing’!

Final painting before text was added.

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Syfy Renews Z Nation for a 5th Season; Season 4 Finale Airs Tonight!

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Syfy’s popular zombie series “Z Nation” just keeps shambling on, and tonight the two-episode Season 4 finale, “Mt. Weather/The Black Rainbow,” airs. If you’re a fan of the show, we have good news for you… it’s not over yet as David Latt of The Asylum has announced on Twitter the pickup of “Z Nation” for a 5th season! So you can expect lots more adventures with the gang in 2018.

Below is the official word from David along with a brief synopsis of what’s ahead tonight in the finale, which kicks off at 9/8c.

Synopsis:
In the mind-bending two-hour Season 4 finale, Warren and the team must stop Zona from launching operation Black Rainbow, which will cleanse the landscape of both zombies and humans. In Part 2 the secret of Warren’s Black Rainbow dream is unlocked when they reach their final destination. The cast includes Kellita Smith as Roberta Warren, Keith Allan as Murphy, Russell Hodgkinson as Doc, Nat Zang as 10K, Gracie Gillam as Sgt. Lilley, DJ Qualls as Citizen Z, Ramona Young as Kaya, Justin Torrence as President Donald Trump, Michael Berryman as The Founder, Micheal Daks as Mr. Sunshine, Anastasia Baranova as Addy, Sydney Viengluang as Sun Mei, Joseph Gatt as The Man, and Natalie Jongjaroenlarp as Red.

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