Exclusive: Dread Attends the World Premiere of The Last Exorcism; Eli Roth Talks PG-13 Rating, Thanksgiving, and More! - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Dread Attends the World Premiere of The Last Exorcism; Eli Roth Talks PG-13 Rating, Thanksgiving, and More!

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This writer attended the world premiere of Lionsgate’s The Last Exorcism last night at the Ford Theatre in Hollywood, CA, and while there chatted with the flick’s producer Eli Roth, who riffed on the Arcade Pictures/Strike Entertainment/STUDIOCANAL production as well as giving us word on the status of the long anticipated feature version of his Grindhouse Thanksgiving trailer. Read on!

Hosted by the Los Angeles Film Festival and Screamfest LA, The Last Exorcism opens nationwide on August 27th, and on-hand for the event were director Daniel Stamm, producers Roth, Eric Newman and Marc Abraham, composer Nathan (“True Blood”) Barr and cast-members Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Tony Bentley, Irs Bahr, Louis Herthum and Caleb Landry Jones.

I’m very excited!,” said the very personable Roth of the screening, which, in addition to last night’s audience, was the first time the majority of the cast in attendance had ever seen the completed, PG-13 rated film. Dread would have been remiss in not asking Roth’s feelings on the more audience-friendly rating The Last Exorcism was granted, given his reputation as the progenitor of American ‘torture porn’ (a misnomer, but one undoubtedly born from his creation of the Hostel films).

Switching hats,” conceded the 38-year-old writer/producer/director-turned-notable actor (Roth won awards for his portrayal of the ‘Bear Jew’ in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning 2009 film Inglourious Basterds), “but I’ve produced my own films and I enjoy producing, and I’ve always wanted to continually have movies going where I’m working as a director or a producer. You know, I’ll never be able to make all of the movies I want to make in one lifetime so producing is a great way to have a hand in it creatively without carrying the burden of the film. Also, it’s exciting to introduce a new director to the world like Daniel Stamm, who’s just done an amazing job with the movie.”

As for his name having become synonymous with harder-edged splatter films, “It’s interesting and it’s so funny,” replied the filmmaker, “because at the beginning of my career, Cabin Fever was my strong reaction to horror films that I saw as ‘watered-down’ PG-13 horror, where you can feel where it got trimmed down to ‘hit a wider audience’ but therefore cut the balls off of it and took away the very thing fans wanted to see. But then again the R rating has gotten pushed (to the envelope), and so has PG-13. When I saw (Matt Reeves’ 2008 PG-13 rated film) Cloverfield, I thought that movie was really scary.

I remember when we shot The Last Exorcism, we didn’t have a rating in mind,” continued Roth. “We just shot what was scariest, and we cut the film to be the scariest, and I actually realized in editing that, ‘I think we are going to get a PG-13, and I hope the fans aren’t bummed out.’ It’s a film about possession and not power tools. It’s really much more at The Ring and The Grudge end of the horror spectrum. It’s a very weird, creepy and disturbing movie, but it doesn’t call for graphic violence the way a film like Hostel does. I feel like if you are going to make a film that’s rated R, you should really take advantage of the rating. I mean, like when you see (the new) Piranha 3D (note: Roth appears in that film), that’s an R rated movie that will satisfy your gore quotient, and that opens the week before The Last Exorcism. This film is much more on the psychological end of the horror spectrum, and Daniel’s done a really great job with it.

When I read the script (penned by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland), it was one of the smartest and most compelling scripts I’d ever read,” Roth expounded. “I think the film hasn’t lost any of the teeth (the source material possessed), but the ratings board gave us a PG-13 and we accepted it. Let’s not forget Jaws is rated PG, which is considered by many one of the scariest films of all time, so it is possible, but we didn’t want to remake The Exorcist.

Like an eight-hundred-pound gorilla, William Friedkin’s classic and two-time Oscar-winning The Exorcist would invariably be brought up in such a conversation, given that the film is what all exorcism flicks have been measured against since its chilling release in 1973.

Anything The Exorcist does – the voice, the vomiting, the yellow eyes, we can’t do that,” replied Roth. “The Last Exorcism is a different movie, and I think Daniel has made a very compelling and different film, and one that will be a really fun and original addition to the canon of exorcism movies. I mean, with vampire films, look where it’s come from, from Dracula and then to Twilight and to True Blood. I mean, it’s never-ending. People love them. And I think for many years, people were so afraid to make an exorcism or possession movie because as The Exorcist is so prevalent in pop culture, how do you make it scarier? Well, you don’t, because you’ll never make it scarier, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be original and fun, and I felt the script was a really ingenious take on the material, in the way that Cloverfield was a really great take on a Godzilla movie.

Dread queried Roth on his predictions concerning the religious right’s eventual response to the film, a group who, while having historically lambasted the horror genre, embraced The Exorcist as a pro-religious film upon its release.

They are going to love it,” he said of The Last Exorcism. “I think the film presents both sides equally. If you are an atheist or if you believe in the devil, you’ll love it, and if you are devoutly religious, you’ll love it. I think it presents both sides very intelligently, and I think that’s one of the things that I loved about the script, that it wasn’t one-sided and that it does keep making you think. It’s a really interesting clash of scientific logic and religion coming together.

Roth’s next project has been reported as the mass destruction flick Endangered Species, and while we’re certainly looking forward to that one, fan anticipation has been running high for a feature version of his holiday-themed slasher flick Thanksgiving. This isn’t surprising, given the gonzo scene of an unlucky cheerleader performing a split on a vertical butcher knife in the trailer of the same name in Tarantino and Rodriguez’s 2007 flick Grindhouse.

I’ve been a little busy with finishing up The Last Exorcism, and Inglorious Basterds took up more of my time than I’d anticipated,” communicated Roth, “but my co-writer is working on the script, and he’s supposed to come out this summer so that we can finish it together. We are outlining it right now, and so far in the first twelve pages we have thirty-nine kills so we have to cut back a little! It’s a little too much! But yes, it’s an idea that doesn’t let me sleep at night so I have to do it before I die, or my life will be a failure.

For more on The Last Exorcism visit the official The Last Exorcism site – and stay tuned for our review coming shortly. In the interim dig on some images from the event below!

Exclusive: Dread Attends the World Premiere of The Last Exorcism; Eli Roth Talks PG-13 Rating, Thanksgiving, and More!

Exclusive: Dread Attends the World Premiere of The Last Exorcism; Eli Roth Talks PG-13 Rating, Thanksgiving, and More!

Exclusive: Dread Attends the World Premiere of The Last Exorcism; Eli Roth Talks PG-13 Rating, Thanksgiving, and More!

Exclusive: Dread Attends the World Premiere of The Last Exorcism; Eli Roth Talks PG-13 Rating, Thanksgiving, and More!

Exclusive: Dread Attends the World Premiere of The Last Exorcism; Eli Roth Talks PG-13 Rating, Thanksgiving, and More!

Exclusive: Dread Attends the World Premiere of The Last Exorcism; Eli Roth Talks PG-13 Rating, Thanksgiving, and More!

Sean Decker

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Fearsome Facts

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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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

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Summary

Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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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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