"Stone Cold" Steve Austin Talks The Stranger, The Expendables and More - Dread Central
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“Stone Cold” Steve Austin Talks The Stranger, The Expendables and More

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Stone Cold Steve Austin Talks The Stranger, The Expendables and MoreIf you were a fan of the WWE during the “Attitude Era,” there was one man that clearly embodied this new direction in sports entertainment: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin, who worked steadily in the wrestling industry from 1991 up through last year, wasn’t satisfied after almost two decades in the business with just electrifying wrestling audiences. He was ready to take his shot in Hollywood.

I started off acting while I was still hot in the WWE, doing a run of episodes on ‘Nash Bridges’, and I just had a blast,” explained Austin. “I think that’s right about when I realized I wanted to pursue acting.

Since his run on “Nash Bridges” some ten years ago, Austin has steadily worked as an actor in Hollywood outside the ring. His latest project, The Stranger, is set to be released on DVD June 1st courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment, and in honor of the occasion Dread Central had the opportunity to talk with Austin about his transition into acting, The Stranger, and the upcoming balls-out action flick The Expendables.

In The Stranger Austin plays a man plagued by amnesia who finds himself as the subject of a manhunt by not only the FBI but the Russian mob, too, who takes matters into own hands to solve the mysteries of his past and putting them to rest. I asked Austin to discuss what made The Stranger a standout project from other action films he had made in the past.

Austin said, “The Stranger was a really cool script to read and a little different than what I usually get asked to do. It gave me the opportunity to speak Spanish and Russian and even allowed me to get a little emotional during flashback scenes between me and my wife. It was a lot more than just a straight-up action flick, and I feel like it was a great way to further transition myself into being an actor.

I always felt like I was doing homework for this role. From the time I got offered the part to when we started shooting was really fast so I had to do a lot of preparation in just a short amount of time. I really liked what we got to do with The Stranger,” Austin added.

As the summer movie season is now in full swing, I asked the actor about his experiences working on what is one of my highly anticipated films in the next few months – The Expendables. Starring a who’s who of the action genre, for Austin The Expendables was a dream job.

I seriously love doing action movies,” explained Austin. “I always have a killer time on set, and it’s funny to me that other people call it work. But being asked to be part of The Expendables was a feeling you could hardly describe. I just remember sitting in Sly’s office and he’s talking to me about the movie, and I just sat there thinking that he could have asked me to do anything in the film and I would have been ecstatic to just be asked.

The kind of action in The Expendables isn’t like anything you’ve seen in a while, and I think it’s going to end up being a movie that comes out of nowhere and kills at the box office. Fans are going to love it; everything I’ve seen so far is beyond badass. Fans have no idea what’s in store for them,” Austin added.

Now that Austin is gaining momentum in his acting career, I asked the 2009 WWE Hall of Famer if he ever considers returning to the squared circle.

There comes a certain point in every wrestler’s career where they realize they need to get their ass out of the ring,” explained Austin. “Professional wrestling will always be my first love, and I will always be grateful for all of my fans and what I was able to accomplish in the ring, but acting is what I am focused on now. I realize that I’m back to being the ‘green’ guy again, but you just have to keep working at getting better, and I think that’s what I’m doing. I am learning something new every day about working in Hollywood, and it’s a whole new game compared to what I was used to with the WWE,” Austin added.

So what’s next for Austin? The actor couldn’t talk specifics, but he’s got quite a few projects that he’s looking at currently and is toying with a return to television.

Austin said, “Right now I’m looking at a few different movie deals that I can’t quite talk about yet, and there’s also some talk of doing TV work as well so you never know where you’ll see me next. But don’t worry, you’ll see me soon.

To which this writer says, “Hell yeah!

Heather Wixson

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House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn Announced for Arcades

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Aside from various ports, the House of the Dead franchise has been dormant since the release of Overkill on the Wii back in 2009, so the news of a brand new entry in the series is a huge deal for us horror gamers. So we couldn’t be happier to learn that Sega have officially announced House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn, which will take the franchise back to its arcade roots. According to Gematsu, the game will be undergoing preliminary location testing at Sega’s Tokyo headquarters from January 19 to 21, before launching in Japanese arcades at a later date.

House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn will be powered by Unreal Engine 4, and will be capable of featuring more onscreen enemies than all previous House of the Dead games. The arcade cabinet will include air cannons, vibrating seat, and motion sensitive lights in an effort to create a full immersive experience, although there are currently no details on the game’s plot.

The House of the Dead franchise remains hugely popular around the world (even Uwe Boll couldn’t destroy its reputation), so it’s probably safe to assume that Scarlet Dawn will probably be making its way to US arcades at some point in the near future, with a console release also looking likely.

You can stay updated with House of the Dead: Scarlett Dawn on its official website, although you might want to learn Japanese first.

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Dread Central UK Enjoys a Box of IT

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One of the best things about writing for Dread Central is the cool gifts companies send us in exchange for covering their releases.

With Stephen King’s It now being available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, Warner Bros. were kind enough to send me an It-themed gift box absolutely free of charge. I collected this beautiful piece of merchandise from Organic Marketing’s London headquarters, and it is quite possibly my favorite thing in the world. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Inside this beautiful box were four Pennywise-themed cupcakes, a Pennywise Vinyl Pop figure in its original packaging, a laminated flyer, and of course, a copy of the film on Blu-ray. As you can see from the images below, a red balloon, just like the one held by Pennywise in the film, was attached to the box, although I’m sorry to say that it has now been burst (and I’m keeping the remains).

It, which now has the honor of being the highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time, was directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Finn Wolfhard. With the film now being available on home video in the UK, you shouldn’t waste any time ordering your copy, especially since we gave it a perfect score in our review.

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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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