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Event Report: Michigan’s Freakshow Film Festival

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Regular Dread Central readers are well acquainted with the sight of announcements for special screenings and film festivals across the country. Usually these events are held in locales like Los Angeles, Austin, New York City, etc. While that’s all well and good for those who live in or around a major metropolitan area, the rest of us who live in less glamorous settings aren’t so lucky.

Indeed, flyover country is not the place to be for those who crave anniversary screenings or Q&A seasons. Imagine, then, this fan’s surprise in early July when an event called Freakshow Film Festival arrived in the wee hamlet of Charlotte, Michigan.

Freakshow Film Festival Event Report (1)

The brainchild of horror fan Marty Kelley along with cohorts Mari Rosario and Douglas Hoy, who plays festival host/mascot Molotov the Clown, Freakshow Film Festival was designed with two goals in mind. One is the obvious purpose of gathering together the local horror community to enjoy some classic scares. Beyond that was the hope of using these events to raise money for local causes. During the initial weeks, the idea was to help the historic Eaton Theatre in their efforts to restore the old marquee.

Having missed the first several screenings, I was finally able to attend the festival’s fourth feature, Return of the Living Dead. Arriving early to talk to the organizers, I found the group spirit was a bit dampened that night as it was the end of their first round of showings. Their original plan had been to make this a weekly event for the foreseeable future. Sadly, the first weekend suffered from disappointingly low attendance, around eleven people or so, from what I’m told. Word seemed to have spread during the following week as I counted a good 30 people in attendance for this feature, with more arriving after that initial count. While it may not sound like a huge crowd, this was a larger audience than when I saw Batman v Superman in the same location during its opening week.

Before the film, there were a few small festivities to be enjoyed. Attendees were encouraged to show up in their best zombie attire for a brief walk around downtown, complete with sparklers. During the march, I began to wonder how Syfy has so far ignored the potential for a pyromaniac zombie flick. After the zombie march, the second activity commenced indoors, a costume contest judged by the non-zombie members of the audience. Prizes were administered in the form of gift certificates to a nearby video rental store. Yes, those still exist. Finally, with all of that out of the way, it was showtime.

The retro atmosphere extended to the original trailers for more classic horror tales. Not only did this serve to enhance the event, it also allowed the organizers to judge interest in movies for future shows. Out of everything on display, Re-Animator took the prize for Best Crowd Energizer.

Next up was Molotov the Clown, who give us an intro to the night’s film along with a story that mixed elements of dirty jokes and real-life events. Unfortunately the setting, combined with the lack of a microphone, made some of this intro hard to understand… a hiccup that will likely be smoothed out in later events.

Finally, with previews and Molotov out of the way, it was time for the feature film. It should be noted that this showing was a simple Blu-ray projection of the new Scream Factory edition. I’ve heard fans complain about this practice, crying out for the legitimacy of a proper print. Being my first experience with a Blu-ray theatrical presentation, I came away not completely understanding the nerd rage. Watching a disc projected through theater equipment actually yielded better audio visual quality than several new films I’ve seen in theaters this year.

Having seen Return of the Living Dead nearly every year since I was ten, viewing it on the big screen was practically a revelation. Scenes that had become tiresome over the years were revived, and with superior sound I realized just how truly incredible the soundtrack really is. Most people wouldn’t think it’d make that much of a difference, but the big screen and a group of strangers made the film seem new again. Most of all, there was a certain charm to seeing fans in their forties and fifties attending with their teenage children to usher in a new wave of horror fandom. Even for a hardened cynic such as myself, this was an almost heartwarming sight.

Freakshow Film Festival Event Report (2)

Something important to note about the environment is that The Eaton Theatre is, let’s say, classically equipped. There’s no leather reclining stadium seating, no D-Box or IMAX, not even one of those specialty soda fountains that allows you to make orange strawberry root beer. No, sir, this is the old fashioned kind of movie house where you sit in somewhat uncomfortable chairs and guzzle a giant cup of Wild Cherry Pepsi. It may not sound fancy, but in all honesty it made for a far more accurate recreation of seeing these films in their native format. They were released in a time when theaters didn’t resort to La-Z-Boys and steak dinners to get arses in the seats. Back then, people came for the movie, not the amenities.

After the tentative success of their first few showings, Freakshow Film Festival has changed locales to the nearby Windwalker Arts & Underground Galleries. The hope is that this new setting will allow for a looser viewing environment with the potential for a wider selection of movies. Even the food options will change, as grub is being provided by a local pizza joint. Whether or not this new venue will make for better showings remains to be seen. I for one will miss the authenticity of the original Eaton Theatre setting but hold out hope that the new spot will allow the festival to grow.

If you live near the Lansing metro area or are planing on traveling through Mid-Michigan anytime soon, consider stopping by for a good old spooky time. You can keep abreast of future developments via the group’s Facebook page for news and announcements.

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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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