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Mitton, Andy and Holland, Jesse (YellowBrickRoad)

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While at the 2010 Slamdance Film Festival, this writer had the pleasure of meeting the cast and creative forces behind YellowBrickRoad, an indie genre film that ended up being one of the most buzzed about entries in what has turned into Park City’s true independent film festival.

What impressed me most about YellowBrickRoad’s directing duo of Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland was their passion for the film. Now with their Slamdance debut a few months behind them and their film about to play the also prestigious Atlanta Film Festival on April 19th and 20th, I thought the timing was perfect to talk to the pair about their film, their journey to get to this point, and what’s next for them.

Mitton and Holland met while attending school at Middlebury College in Vermont. Brought together through their mutual admiration for both horror films and theater, they found a kindred creative spirit that resulted in them collaborating on the script for YellowBrickRoad.

Our goal was to make a horror movie you don’t see every day. We wanted to do something that was story-driven and gave us the opportunity to really work with our actors to develop great characters,” said Mitton.

Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland - YellowBrickRoadThe writer/director went on to discuss their decision to move forward with making YellowBrickRoad on their own terms.

We had worked on the script for YellowBrickRoad for two years so we were very attached to the story,” Mitton explained. “We decided to go ahead and make the film because we didn’t want to wait around on anyone else, even thought that meant it would be a three-year-long process for us. We found our own private investors, assembled an amazing cast, and found our location in a remote area of New Hampshire.”

Holland added, “I am glad we made the choice to shoot independently because we really got to do almost everything we wanted to do with YellowBrickRoad. That may not have happened if things worked out differently.

For those unfamiliar with the plot of YellowBrickRoad, it tells the story of Friar, New Hampshire, where in the fall of 1940 the entire population walked together up a winding mountain trail and into the wilderness. During their mysterious excursion they left behind all their worldly possessions and just one clue: a single word etched into stone near the forest’s edge, YELLOWBRICKROAD.

In 2009 (when the film takes place), the coordinates for the ‘YELLOWBRICKROAD’ trail head are still declassified, but an expedition begins in search of answers. However, the group gets more than they bargained for as their journey ends up turning into a descent into terror.

While setting a horror film in the wilderness isn’t a revolutionary concept necessarily, for both Mitton and Holland the location was a key element for the film’s success in delivering the chills.

We wanted to have a movie where the location was just as much a part of the story as the cast itself,” explained Mitton. “We wanted it to feel like The Thing. We saw what that movie did with a very isolated location, and that motivated us as storytellers.”

We ended up shooting literally in the middle of nowhere where we had barely any cell coverage and no Internet. We were entirely cut off, but I think that only helped the feel of the movie,” Holland added.

Mitton and Holland trekked out to shoot YellowBrickRoad with their crew and cast, which included genre favorites Anessa Ramsey and Alex Draper as well as up-and-comers Cassidy Freeman, Laura Heisler, Clark Freeman, and Michael Laurino.

YellowBrickRoad was shot during June, 2009, and both Holland and Mitton were determined to keep the movie’s momentum going full steam ahead. They had it completed in just a few short months, and by late 2009 they learned their determination had paid off: YellowBrickRoad was an official selection of Slamdance.

Mitton discussed the warm reception the cast and crew received when they arrived in Park City this past January.

I think Slamdance was the perfect place to debut YellowBrickRoad. It allowed us to be a big fish in a very cozy pond, and we were in very good company alongside some amazing filmmakers. The buzz we got while in Park City really felt like everything was worth it in the end,” said the writer/director.

Now both Mitton and Holland have their sights set on the South: Atlanta to be more specific. The duo’s thriller will be playing as an official selection of the Atlanta Film Festival, which prompted Holland to talk about how his life has changed since Slamdance.

It’s hard to believe we’ll actually be playing Atlanta later this month,” explained Holland, “but it is very gratifying to know how many people have seen our project in such a short amount of time and how much our world has changed because of YellowBrickRoad.

Changes in their world include both Mitton and Holland fielding directing offers as well as weighing over several different distribution offers for YellowBrickRoad.

Mitton said, “We are still working on an official distribution deal, but there are several great offers that we are looking at right now. We do anticipate that fans will be able to experience YellowBrickRoad at some future festivals, too, so keep an eye out for those announcements. I would say that this is a really exciting time for us.

YellowBrickRoad has led to a lot of exciting meetings for us and been an exciting ride, but we’re now looking towards our next project, which is a high school thriller,” Holland revealed.

With the brand new horror project looming, Mitton discussed his thoughts on working in the genre that both he and Holland are fans of and why he thinks the timing is right for independent horror filmmakers.

Right now I think is the prime time for independent directors to make their voices heard, especially with what horror fans only seem to get in theaters these days,” explained Mitton. “There is a great opportunity for filmmakers to make original films that fans are hungry for because of the remake trend we seem to be stuck in the middle of.

I know a lot of directors are worried about getting pigeonholed in the horror genre, but we think that’s not a bad place to be pigeonholed because we’re such fans of this genre,” Mitton added.

For more check out the official YellowBrickRoad website.

Heather Wixson

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Bobby Joe vs Evil Dead: The Female-Driven Evil Dead Spin-Off That Should Have Been

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Whatever Happened to Bobby Joe?

That is a question that has plagued me since the first time I saw Evil Dead 2 at a party in high school. There might be a comic book that explains her final fate, but I don’t know about it, so I’m writing this up all the same.

This is my pitch for not only what happened to her after she was drug out into the middle of the woods by killer trees but also what could have happened after to our badass backwoods beauty queen (BBBQ).

Let’s call it: Bobby Joe vs Evil Dead

To begin, let’s start with the last time we saw little ol’ Bobby Joe. The poor girl got a mouthfulla eyeball and a hair fulla Ash’s hand and ran off into the woods alone, only to be taken by the trees. Dead, right? I call BS. After all, we have seen numerous people attacked by the Evil Trees (Cheryl, Scotty, and Mia spring to mind) and guess what? All of them survived, to varying degrees.

The point is the Evil Trees tend to, you know, molest and mutilate, but they aren’t known for their life-taking skills. Therefore it makes total sense that Bobby Joe survived her encounter with the trees out there. But that begs the question, “What happened to her?”

One of the coolest aspects to remember about her character is that she is (to my memory) the only character in the Evil Dead series that is “killed” and doesn’t come back as a Deadite. Strange huh? Almost seems like Raimi and co. were setting her up for an eventual return and then just kinda, I guess, forgot about her. But let’s not make the same mistake over and over, Bobby Joe needs her redemption and she needs her revenge. Bobby Joe needs to reemerge as the series’ badass female hero. But how?

Let’s get into it now. Bobby Joe is pulled off by the trees and, duh, fights back. Or maybe gets Mia and Cheryl’d but still walks/limps away from the ordeal. Now she’s pissed. That could work, but I have one better. She is pulled off by the trees and just as things are about to get really bad, she is rescued.

Rescued? Yes! By who? We’ll get to that. First I want to make sure to point out that just because she recused doesn’t mean she is a weak character. After all, Ash is about the weakest of all characters for most, if not debatably all, of the Evil Dead films, so this isn’t a damsel-in-distress situation. It’s a means of introducing a very interesting side spin-off to this spin-off.

So, Bobby Joe is being taken by trees when a shadowy male saves her at the last minute. They fight off the trees and then turn to each other… but don’t recognize one other. “Who are you,” she askes the man in the shadows with bitchin’ hair. And out steps, you guessed it, Scotty from the original The Evil Dead.

We’re now in an alternate timeline because the cabin sure as hell could pull off that kind of thing and now we live in a world where all of the events from all of the Evil Dead films – including the remake – can co-exist.

But back to the Scotty thing at hand. What happened was Scotty walked off from the original film and was going to be beaten by the trees but then happened upon Bobby Joe. The two then head back to the cabin where they find Ash fighting with Linda’s Deadite. They accidentally distract Ash and Linda whacks off HIS head with the shovel. Ash is dead!? This is getting crazy now. Yes, with Ash dead, Scotty and Bobby Joe fight off the remaining evil in the original film, with only Bobby Joe making it to morning.

This time around she is the one to lose her hand. This time around she takes up the chainsaw appendage. This time she is the victor. But just as the sun is rising and she moves out of the cabin in the woods – the Applehead Demon attacks! She reads from the book of the dead and the portal opens bringing us up to speed with the end of Evil Dead 2. Bobby Joe is sucked through the portal and lands, yep, in Army of Darkness.

We’re not through yet. Bobby Joe lands just where Ash did but this time she isn’t surrounded by knights played by Sam Raimi’s siblings. This time she is all alone. But wait… there is a cave a ways off… she enters to find Ash sleeping from too much of the sauce – and wakes him up.

Now it’s Ash & Bobby Joe vs Army of Darkness II: Dead by Modern-Day.

That’s a working title, by the way. But yes, Bobby Joe has now found her way into the original Evil Dead timeline and will join forces with newly awoken Ash (following his adventures in Army of Darkness). The story continues from there with the alternate heroes of the two Evil Dead universes going back-and-forth on who’s more badass, and their general shenanigans as they fighting their way through history (courtesy of fun and ironic random time-jumps via the main evil force).

Will the two chainsaw-handed warriors take to each other like soulmates and quickly join forces or will they see each other as arch-enemies? After all, Ash did shoot Bobby Joe accidentally in Evil Dead 2, and I highly doubt she’s just going to let that go. The mind reels with possibilities.

In closing, yes, all of this is a bit silly, but what have the Evil Dead films become other than sillier and sillier. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I would love to know the origin story of Bobby Joe. What must it have been like to grow up as a BBBQ? How did she end up with such a catch as Jake? These questions intrigue the hell out of me and I would love to see them explored in a possible comic series.

The Evil Dead series needs a strong female lead. In the years since the original trilogy, both the remake and the STARZ series have tried to give us strong “Female Ash” characters with Jane Levy’s Mia and Lucy Lawless’ Ruby. While both were arguably successful attempts (I love Mia especially), I still think the best candidate was always Bobby Joe from Evil Dead 2.

That’s my pitch. What do you think? Let us know!

#BobbyJoeLives

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Exclusive: This Poster Premiere Challenges Your Concept of Perfect

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The Eddie Alcazar-directed sci-fi/thriller Perfect will be having its world premiere at this year’s SXSW festival (info) and we’re here to bring you the exclusive poster premiere for the film, which is produced by Steven Soderbergh (Solaris, Unsane, Contagion). To see it in a larger size, just click on the poster.

Featuring music by Flying Lotus, the film sounds like a daring and bold entry into the body horror subgenre.

Synopsis:
A boy in a cold and stark modern house, in a vaguely science fictional world, is seduced by advertisements of perfection to install implantable characteristics directly into his body. The implants heal his dark, twisted visions, but come with a corporeal cost. He persists on applying them, hoping to reach perfection, but ultimately he discovers that purity of mind is not exactly as he’s imagined.

Starring Garrett Wareing, Courtney Eaton, Tao Okamoto, Maurice Compte, and Abbie Cornish, Perfect is directed by Eddie Alcazar.

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Bruce is Back in Bitchin’ New Retro Poster for Eli Roth’s Death Wish Remake

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Bruce. Is. Back.

A few weeks back we shared with you guys the awesome retro grindhouse trailer for Eli Roth’s upcoming remake of Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis.

That trailer was a ton of fun so we wanted to make sure to also share with you the new retro grindhouse poster for the film as well.

You can check out the poster to the right and the grindhouse trailer below and then let us know what you think!

Personally, I’m digging the hell out of this new marketing strategy, but then again, I love me some Grindhouse cinema. And if we can’t have Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, then I guess this flick will do, for now.

Death Wish is a remake of the Charles Bronson-led 1974 film of the same name, which itself was based on Brian Garfield’s original novel.

This film is directed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) from a script written by Joe Carnahan (The Grey, Narc) and stars Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Norris, Elisabeth Shue, Camila Morrone, and Kimberly Elise.

Bruce is Back March 2, 2018.

Synopsis:

Dr. Paul Kersey is a surgeon who often sees the consequences of the city’s violence in the emergency room. When home intruders brutally attack his wife and young daughter, Kersey becomes obsessed with delivering vigilante justice to the perpetrators. As the anonymous slayings grab the media’s attention, the public begins to wonder if the deadly avenger is a guardian angel — or the Grim Reaper itself.

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