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Day of Reckoning – Exclusive Interviews with Stars Jackson Hurst & Nick Gomez and Director Joel Novoa

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Day of Reckoning

We recently visited the set of Epic Pictures’ latest monster movie (because Epic Pictures monster movie), Day of Reckoning, and we came back with exclusive interviews with stars Jackson Hurst and Nick Gomez as well as director Joel Novoa.

Jackson Hurst

Dread Central: Jackson, you have some rather formidable opponents in Day of Reckoning. What are they exactly? Demons? And do you just act against nothing? We hear they’re all CGI.

Jackson Hurst: Yeah, we have actually, and when we do work with the creatures, I’ve asked that they actually show me images of them so I know what I’m up against, they’re pretty impressive but yeah, we did some pretty good stuff as in crawling through tight spaces, being chased and some bigger, you know down the L.A. River, we were up against some pretty intense stuff so it was pretty cool.

DC: Tell us about whom you play in the film.

JH: You know, he kind of starts out as, I don’t want to say a deadbeat dad, but kind of a chill guy, had a run of bad luck I would say, he ends up as a maintenance man and he’s separated from his wife and loves his son and still loves his wife but just can’t pull it together and when he’s thrust into the craziness of the story, he has to pull it together, and his heroic side needs to come out or he’ll die, everybody will.

Background is, he was an engineer with some fight type of experience, military type experience, but fifteen years ago shit kind of hit the fan when this happened the first time around and things went haywire and he ended up separated from his wife and ended up where he is today.

DC: Does he actually want to be where he is?

JH: Yeah, he was thrust into it, kind of like The Purge, once it happens one year you’ll know what’s going on the next year, it was the same type of thing but this is, you don’t when it’s going to happen so everyone’s always… when a few certain variables start to line up, that’s when the signs start to happen. That’s when you know that it could be coming and in this case yeah, he was in it but it was fifteen years ago, he was young, he was like twenty and now here we are fifteen years later and so he hasn’t quite prepared as much as one might hope and that kind of goes along with his whole personality where he just kind of chills and goes with the flow and then it ends up catching up with him, but yeah The Purge, that’s a good analogy, it has that vibe, like World War Z, they all kind of fall into that vibe.

DC: Sounds like you’re a fan of the genre.

JH: Love it, absolutely love it. You know, when I read the script, I could immediately visualize it. I’m a fan of the genre, I’m a fan of the creature flicks, the disaster flicks, the kind of apocalyptic flicks, it’s got it all.

DC: So you must have jumped at the chance to star in Day of Reckoning.

JH: Yeah, well that’s actually what drew me to the project, was when the opportunity came up, I wanted to watch Joel’s stuff and his style to see if was something that would mix well with mine, and what I liked is that he is very character drive, it’s a lot of hand held so you feel like you’re constantly in the mix of everything but there wasn’t horror or apocalyptic or that type of stuff, it was all character driven. A lot of political pieces but a lot of relationships and that’s what really drew me to this more than anything, was to see how his style would match up to this genre. I think it’s a brilliant mix because sometime in this genre you can lose the relationship of the characters, the passion and you’ll just get caught up in violence, violence, violence. He brings those deeper levels and when we met before shooting, we talked fiver percent about creatures and demons and ninety-five percent about relationships and the arcs of characters, where we’re going to take it, my background, what brought me to where I am, that’s the type of stuff, and I love that, digging deep into a character like that.

DC: Were you the first actor cast?

JH: When the offer came in, they said they had my son cast but I think my wife was still in the works so I think maybe I was the second person to come onboard.

DC: Looks like there’s a lot of physicality to the roles in the movie, just going by what we’ve seen on set today. Seems you’re doing a lot of running and stuff… do you do all your own stunts?

JH: I want to do all my stunts, you know? There aren’t’ a lot of high flying dangerous types of stunts, a lot of this is what you would see in some of the other stuff we were talking about, running, jumping, a lot of that stuff but there’s definitely been a lot of wild driving and so we had a stunt guy come in for some of the stuff. I wanted to do it and asked to do it but they said no, insurance won’t cover that so, but for the most part I’m doing everything but the driving, which I like, I want to do as much as I can.

DC: I know you’re early into the shoot, but what has been, or will be, the most challenging bit for you?

JH: There is a lot of that and it’s hard to say without spoiling but I’ll say this. In about the middle of the script there is a scene that is a huge turning point, it’s kind of a live or die moment, tons of special effects, very intense and we haven’t shot that yet but it’s coming up and I cannot wait.

DC: What’s it like, having to emote to, well, nothing? Acting for CGI-based movies is different, isn’t it?

JH: It’s actually, your right, it is a different level of acting because aside from imagining it, you need to know exactly what you’re doing, what it’s doing, whatever this thing is that you’re imagining but luckily I’ve worked with green screen and I’ve done some special effects but it’s help me to ask to see the composite, whatever you guys have come up with, whatever image they have, if they show me that it helps me a lot but after that you just have to imagine and sometimes it’s even more liberating than working with a person because you can imagine whatever you want, respond to whatever you want, it’s actually in this movie specifically it can be terrifying because you can take it to any level you want in your imagination, it’s pretty cool.

Nick Gomez

Dread Central: So, Nick… it looks like you’re in a military uniform. Since we haven’t seen you working today yet, can you fill in a few details?

Nick Gomez: I play Garrett Abare and that’s correct, I am in uniform. Homeland Security, ma’am, Homeland Security.

DC: You have so many fans, especially from your work on “The Walking Dead.” So… are you a fan of scary, apocalyptic stories yourself?

NG: Well, I love me a good apocalyptic horror film and, especially with this role, also some of the other actors. I’ve been a huge fan of Ray Barry for a long time, I actually worked with him on a film a decade ago so when I saw he was attached I was in, and then the character itself is just a fun character to play.

DC: I hear he’s not such a nice guy.

NG: I’ve played a lot of ‘bad guys’, and I like playing those guys because it gives me a chance to defend them and understand why they’re the way they are and Garrett is a really interesting guy because he’s a strong guy, a military guy but there’s this sense of being very afraid and so a lot of times when these guys are afraid they act out in very specific, sometimes barbaric ways and my character in this script is a wild card amongst this group.

DC: How so?

NG: Well, when we first meet him he seems like a decent human being, a military guy, and he is, and then when we find him in the bunker there’s a little bit of tension and then we go back and forth, we don’t trust him, we trust him and so we’re kind of walking that fine line with this guy, we’re not sure where he really stands.

DC: Kind of reminds me of the character John Goodman played in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Did you see him in that?

NG: Yes. And exactly, it was really good, it was to taunt and thrilling and all took place in that little bunker and I think that’s the same kind of feel we want to go with this and with this character specifically, with Garrett, because we’re not sure what side he’s on and unfortunately for them, he’s on his side really, that’s the side he’s on and you don’t know how you’re going to react in certain situations, you don’t know how you’re going to react in an apocalypse. That’s why The Walking Dead for instance is so huge, because everybody wants to think about what they would do in that situation and which character they would identify with. Would they be like Rick, would they try and keep their morals, would they be like Shane and say no, every man for himself and so people want to think about who they would be, how they would react and how bad-ass it would be, or not. So Garrett, as much as he wants to be the tough guy, the thing that he’s scared of the most is other people thinking that he’s scared and so to cover that he becomes a bully a little bit.

DC: Have you shot much yet?

NG: Actually, it is in my first day of filming, I actually haven’t memorized a lot of my dialogue yet but I do have a great monologue about what happened on the first day of reckoning and the audience and actually the director don’t even know, because it’s my choice on whether that was real or not, so it will be up to the audience to decide if that’s the real story or not. Keeping it ambiguous, because we’re not sure if that’s the truth or not and we might never find out but that keeps it interesting.

Joel Novoa

DC: Joel, how’d this movie come about for you – because I know it’s kind of a departure from your previous works.

Joel Novoa: Actually, I found out about this job when I was in Germany. I had finished another film and I found through a mutual contact, they sent me the script without even knowing Patrick they sent me the script and said look, this film is shooting in Los Angeles and take a look at it so I read the script and I was super engaged with it. It was completely different from what I’ve done before. I come from this political thriller, intellectual type of films.

DC: Were you excited about trying your hand at a monster movie?

JN: I’ve been looking for that type of project for a long time and what motivated me was that even if it was entertaining and it’s something that’s fun and something that is fast paced, I think there is a message underneath about our arrogance as human beings and how we keep digging deeper and deeper and how fragile we are when things are out of our control and you know, I kind of found my own voice with it and something that I could put my own stamp on it. It’s a very heavy v effects project so I met with Patrick the first day and I was very honest, I’m not a v effects guy, I’m about characters, I’m about story, I loved the script, I would be glad to do the story but it’s important to know that I would be able to make it into a character piece. It will be bloaty and it will be fun but I want the story to be about character, to have good actors, to take our time and get the best actors. I think they went along with it and that motivated me a lot and they have endorsed every single decision that I have made and I think that’s why we got the level of the cast that we got and I just went for it and now I’m here and I’m giving all my heart and my life to it.

DC: How’d you get all these different kinds of monsters together, not only in your imagination but on the pages of the script and eventually on the screen?

JN: It’s a collective work. I sent about fifty or sixty references for different creatures, animals, demons and human characters, that’s why we created different type of demons. The first thing I did when I got on board was I asked the producers to put me in touch with the writers so I met with Greg, the writer, and I wanted to try and get into his mind and he actually shared with me a little bit about where it came from and everything had a story. For me, the genes are based on the Islamic culture of demons. The [monster] is more of the Japanese culture, every demon is inspired by a different culture so I kind of wanted to have the sound they make, the way they move, how the approach, they move like animals not in a supernatural kind of way, like very fast animals.

DC: What’s your point of reference?

JN: I have Wesley around here in a costume all the time. Sometimes I’m not able to do it because the chart’s so big that it’s not enough, the measurements that I need but usually I do have some sort of reference, that looks kind of funny when you do it but then after that it will look rather scary.

DC: The demons are all different shapes and sizes…

JN: Yeah, we have from very big demons, very muscular shaped demons to very skinny humanoid demons and other very surprising animals.

DC: Sounds like you are kind of touching on lots of genres, here.

JN: Yeah, but it’s a sci-fi/horror. I’m actually into the general world of science fiction because I think it’s the best way to talk about important themes but it is a horror film with lots of moments that are going to make people jump. They were making scenes specifically to make people jump out of their seats, so it’s a mix between that, the sci-fi world we’re creating, some things practical effects, some later on in CGI and lots of characters who are very interesting in their own way and the conflicts they bring, it’s going to be a very fast paced, high adrenaline movie.

Novoa (God’s Slave) directs Day of Reckoning from a script by Gregory Gieras (Big Ass Spider). Hana Hayes, Jay Jay Warren, Raymond Barry, Barbara Crampton, Jackson Hurst, Nick Gomez, and Randy Vasquez star.

Epic Pictures holds worldwide sales and distribution rights to the film.

The story is set in Los Angeles 15 years after the world suffered a horrendous disaster when demon-like creatures invaded Earth and nearly destroyed mankind. Hurst plays mediocre husband and father David Shepperd, who tries to save his family when the demon creatures return to wreak havoc.

Day of Reckoning

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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John Carpenter … NOT DEAD!

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We currently live in a world of false alarms. Within the last several days we’ve suffered everything from warnings of doomsday to Rotten Tomatoes accidentally celebrating the passing(!) and career of the very much still alive John Carpenter.

That’s right, kids; earlier today RT tweeted, “John Carpenter would have been 70 years old today! We celebrate his birthday by looking back at his five favorite films.” The tweet… has since been deleted.

We are here to tell you… John is very much alive! Alive and well, even. Carpenter himself responded on Twitter by alerting the site that “despite how it appears, I’m actually not dead.

This is great news indeed. One of horror’s best and brightest is still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now then, let’s take this time to celebrate the man’s birthday PROPERLY by talking about our favorite films of his. Speaking personally for myself…

Prince of Darkness is a movie that both unnerves and scares the hell out of me. One of Carpenter’s most thought-provoking works is just as frightening now as it was when we first received that grainy transmission as a dream from the year…

Tell us your favorite Carpenter movie in our comments section below.

…and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN!

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