Indie Filmmakers to Watch: Howard Ford Talks The Dead - Part Two - Dread Central
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Indie Filmmakers to Watch: Howard Ford Talks The Dead – Part Two



In the first part of Dread Central’s interview with writer/director Howard Ford for his latest project, The Dead, we heard about some of the challenges he and his crew faced while filming in Africa. In this second installment we talk to Ford about his thoughts on why slow zombies are the only true zombies, collaborating for 20 years with his brother, Jon, and some of the interesting experiences he had with African natives along the way.

Before he was struggling to get his film made in Africa, Ford was struggling alongside his sibling to find their creative vision. It was while working on a commercial shoot for napkins that both Ford brothers felt the urge to make the switch back to filmmaking.

We were on a commercial shoot, and it just hit us that what we’ve been doing was totally not us, and at that point we were doing it for the money,” said Ford. “In our minds we felt that we had kind of sold out, which of course we said that we would never do. Jon then reminded me on that shoot about making the zombie movie we never got to make, and the rest is history from there.

More Carnage Fills the Air as The Dead Walk the Earth (click for larger image)

For both Ford brothers filmmaking has been a family affair since they were pre-teens. Ford said Jon was one major reason The Dead was able to get completed while in Africa.

Ford explained, “Jon is very technically minded, which is something that I am not at all. We were out in Africa, and for a long time half of our equipment was held at Customs so we were missing essential things like batteries for the camera. All of the sudden, my brother would make his own batteries for the camera. I still have no idea how he did it, but he made it all work. I think our teamwork is the reason we’ve had such a long career. We’ve never been to film school so we’ve literally been learning from our mistakes together for the most part over the last 20 years. As professionals, we work well together because we don’t have to waste too much time in explaining things to each other. We get each other,” Ford added.

The writer/director said that Dawn of the Dead was part of their inspiration not only to get into making features but also to go with slow zombies for The Dead as opposed to the new wave of super-fast zombies fans have grown accustomed to in films like 28 Days Later, Zombieland or even the Dawn of the Dead remake.

Slow zombies are the original zombies, the way George Romero did it, and Jon and I agreed from the very beginning we would be very loyal to the original zombie rules for The Dead,” explained Ford. “Also, with slow moving zombies you can create suspense, and I think there is more horror in suspense. Horror films can’t just have the quick gore sort of things going on – you have to have some sort of build-up to it. When you have zombies running to and from, you miss out on that suspense.

Even though Ford had more obstacles than he ever could have imagined shooting The Dead in Africa, he explained that some of the bizarre and horrendous things the cast and crew witnessed helped shape the ambiance of the project and gave some truly unknown faces a chance to be part of a feature film, making the experience worth it in the end.

We were filming in villages that had real suffering of various kinds, and a lot of these people didn’t have anything like electricity, or much of anything at all,” explained Ford. “We used a lot of these villagers in the film as extras and things like that. Someone said after our cast and crew screening that they had never seen a genre film that had those kinds of realities mixed in, the suffering of villagers and the surrealism of zombies. There is one scene in the film that is very disturbing, where villagers are very casually tossing bodies onto a fire and you can see limbs on the ground and burning corpses and things like that. That really happened, and we shot that footage in a sort of gritty documentary style so it would remind people somehow of the newsreel footage they have seen from Africa. I even remember filming in one of the huts where cockroaches were crawling up my legs continuously and there were pots around the sides of the huts, and I was told that no matter what, I could not touch the pots because they contained the remains of their dead relatives. It was death around us all the time. I think The Dead is the most aptly title film in the business,” Ford said.

The Dead – Trailer Variant 1
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Africa is a continent well known for its rituals and traditions, and Ford discussed how one ghastly and disturbing African custom in particular left him horrified while working on The Dead.

Ford said, “When we arrived, people in the villages were extremely happy to see us because it meant that money would be brought in, and we paid people in local terms incredibly well. But before we stopped filming each day, they would have to sacrifice an animal. Half of the time they would sacrifice a goat, and we had to pay for this animal strangely. I already can’t stand cruelty to any animals so having them slit a goat’s throat for me is a really unpleasant thing. That kind of thing stays with you.

While in Africa Ford also experienced a case of life imitating art when, at one point, he was introduced to a local cannibal. “Some local guy stopped past the set one day, and my local translator called me over and said, ‘You know, you must meet this guy because he’s a real cannibal. He eats people but only when they’re dead.’ I couldn’t believe it so I went over to talk with him.

I found out that when someone dies in his village, they cook them, and he was being completely serious with me, too. He’d seen our flesh-eating zombie and kind of laughed at the idea. He was telling us how nice flesh is and I sort of made a joke saying, ‘Have you tried any white meat?’ The guy looks me up and down and made some remark about my thigh or something, and once the natives started laughing amongst themselves, I realized it was time to leave,” Ford added.

More Carnage Fills the Air as The Dead Walk the Earth (click for larger image)

Corrupt police officers. Malaria. Animal slayings. Cannibals. Any one of those things on their own would be enough to make a filmmaker run for the hills; yet, while facing all of these things, Ford never wavered. I asked him if there was ever a point while deep in the throes of shooting that he felt like throwing in the towel and heading for safer ground.

Maybe I should have stopped and packed it up while in Africa, but I was too invested to get this film made,” explained Ford. “One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t control filmmaking at all, whether you are in Africa or the US or your own backyard. I think we did incredibly well under the circumstances, and my God, the circumstances were awful.

I don’t really think we could’ve done much else differently, but the one thing is, had I known what we were walking into, I think I would’ve been much more flexible with the shooting schedule. I remember at some point halfway through the shoot I caught a look at the original schedule, and it was one of those few moments that I laughed during the entire production. Everything about making The Dead was crazy and surreal, but I don’t think I would change a thing, even now,” Ford added.

Our thanks to Howard for taking the time to speak with us (click here for Part One of our interview).

The Dead will be making its debut at the Film4 FrightFest and will then be having its North American premiere on September 24th at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. Visit the official The Dead website here.

Heather Wixson

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Exclusive: Rocky Gray Talks Halloween Horror Anthology 10/31



The last time we gave you guys word on the upcoming Halloween horror anthology 10/31 was to bring you the knock-out exclusive official poster, which you can peep to your left (click for a higher-res version).

The new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S and Creepshow joins an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is executive produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

The film’s stories are directed by the likes of Justin M. Seaman (The Barn), Zane Hershberger (Devilution), John William Holt (The Dooms Chapel Horror), Brett DeJager (Bonejangles) and Rocky Gray making his directing debut.

This past weekend we were able to catch up with producer-director Rocky Gray and ask him a few choice questions about the anticipated upcoming anthology film.

You can check out our quick interview below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are to check out 10/31 in the comments below!

Dread Central: How is the film coming along?

Rocky Gray: The film is now completed and we are getting the perks out to our Indiegogo backers. The backers and Death By Festival got to see the first cut of the film in October and they loved it so we’re very excited to get the film out to everyone else very soon.

DC: What can expect from this anthology?

RG: Expect to have a lot of Halloween themed fun. Each segment has its own flavor so the pacing and the look change throughout the film. With masked killers, vampires, scarecrows, tricksters and old hags there’s something for everyone.

DC: Will there be a sequel?

RG: If there was a demand for it we would make it happen!

Sounds good to us. Thanks for chatting with us, Rocky!

You can become a fan of the film on Facebook HERE.

A Halloween treat bag of all the things that go bump in the night. From masked killers to scarecrows, witches, and tricksters. There’s a scare for everyone in this anthology of horror and the macabre from the creators of The Barn and Volumes of Blood.

Red Letter Entertainment, Inc. brings you the directorial debut from Rocky Gray (composer of The Barn, Killing Floor 2), two-time Grammy-winning musician and former drummer for Evanescence. A new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S/ and Creepshow brings an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is Executive Produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

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The Duffer Brothers Have Begun Working on Stranger Things 3



I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of the first season of Netflix and The Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things” to tell you the truth. That said, I absolutely loved the second season (read our reviews HERE).

It is with this in mind that we are all looking forward to “Stranger Things 3”.

Recently Deadline reported that at Vulture Festival LA the Duffer Brothers, producer Shawn Levy, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Reiser, and Linnea Berthelsen talked about season two and teased season three.

“We are [in] very early days on season three, and we’re still figuring it out,” Ross Duffer said, before taking a beat, then adding: “I probably wasn’t supposed to say that. That’s not official; that wasn’t an official announcement — we’re just working on it, just for our own amusement… for fun!”


We all know at this point that there is going to be a “Stranger Things 3” and that The Duffer Brothers will one day begin working on it. Don’t worry so much, Ross Duffer.

After all, your brother already let us know that season three will begin after a time jump:

“Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn’t,” says Matt Duffer. “Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They’re going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can’t start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. It’s a long way of saying that yeah, we’re going to do a time jump.”

What did you think of “Stranger Things 2”? Did you dig it more (or less) than season one? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

“Stranger Things 2” is currently streaming on Netflix.

It’s 1984, and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana, are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down, but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

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James Cameron’s Terminator Reboot/Sequel Hires Screenwriter



The last word we brought you guys on producer James Cameron and Deadpool-director Tim Miller’s new Terminator film was when we let you know that Paramount had set the film’s release date for July 26, 2019.

Today we have news via The Wrap that the studio is bringing in screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) to pen the movie’s script based on a story crafted by Cameron.

You may remember that Cameron and Miller created a writers room a while back to plan out an all-new trilogy of films, but while that writer’s room included David Goyer, Charles Eglee, and Josh Friedman, it seems like Ray will be the first film’s sole writer. For now.

Story details are, of course, being kept under wraps, but Cameron and Miller are treating the new movie as a direct sequel to Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day.

“This is a continuation of the story from ‘Terminator 1’ and ‘Terminator 2.’ And we’re pretending the other films were a bad dream,” Cameron told THR. “Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse.”

We also know that Cameron plans to center the new film/trilogy around a new group of younger characters, who will eventually carry on the baton as it were.

“A lot of this is handing off the baton to a new generation of characters,” Cameron said. “We’re starting a search for an 18-something young woman to essentially be the new centerpiece of these stories. And then a number of other characters around her and characters from the future. We still fold time in the story in intriguing ways. But we have Arnold’s character and Linda’s character to anchor it.”

How excited are you for James Cameron’s new Terminator flick? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social mdeia!

The new Terminator film is produced by James Cameron and will be directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool). The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.

Terminator 2.5 is expected to hit July 26, 2019.

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