Many genre fans today know the name William Castle, but not so many are aware of his full and lasting impact on it. Back in the late Fifties and on through the Sixties, his was a name that was synonymous with horror films. Further, his name was – and remains – one that defines the term “spectacle” in modern film history. Castle was a man who never forgot that “show” is the first word in “show business.” He knew, instinctively, that if you gave the movie-going audience a decent show, the business part would take care of itself. Give the audience their money’s worth and they would love you forever.
And so, in 1955, after an already successful career in film, he noticed lines that wound around the block for a small French film called DIABOLIQUE and he leapt into horror filmmaking with both feet. Since he knew he couldn’t compete with bigger budgeted films or those that were more widely distributed, he decided to give the audiences something more. He decided to give them a little “ballyhoo,” offer them the old “razzmatazz,” a bit of what they used to call “the business.” He decided to give them a Show.
And so, until his death, he did just that by offering audiences $1,000 life insurance policies in case they were to die of fright during his movie (MACABRE), by creating “Emergo” which brought the terrors on the screen out into the theater with the help of a plastic skeleton on wires (HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL), by engineering Percepto which wired specific seats with a buzzer (THE TINGLER), handing out “ghost viewer/remover” glasses so audience members could see or not see the ghosts in his film (13 GHOSTS) and even offering a Fright Break so scaredy-cat folks could walk the yellow line out of the theater and, after spending time being subjected to public ridicule in The Coward’s Corner, actually get their money refunded. His antics defined the “B” movie-going experience for that era.
Now, at Film Forum in New York City from August 26 – September 6th, 2010, a program of Castle’s creations are being presented in their original format; with new prints and even the time-honored gimmicks. There have even been hints that William Castle himself will make his presence known at a showing or two – despite him being dead for over thirty years.
I know … I know … impossible. I mean, the man died in 1977. But, when you consider that there has been a lot of online activity under Castle’s name lately (a web site, a blog, a Facebook page, even a Twitter account), the man who knew a thing or two about piquing the audience’s interest may still have a few tricks up his sleeve.
As a result of the Film Forum shows, Dread Central was offered a chance to have a chat with Castle’s daughter, Terry, who is an authority on all things William Castle and, of course, we jumped at the chance. Terry Castle is a delight and very much her father’s daughter. She is bright, easy to laugh, and has enough moxy to pull off exactly the kind of stunts her father did so long ago.
Dread Central: Terry, I wanted to get a little bit of background on you. I mean, growing up with your dad. He’s such a huge figure both physically and in American Cinema. Can you talk a little bit about what your childhood was like?
Terry Castle: It’s funny because he was such a huge figure. He was actually quite tall and quite big and he had this unbelievably magnetic personality, but he was my dad. It’s so funny because there’s that larger than life figure – the character who my friends would always want to come over and see him and not me – but there was also the man who was my Daddy. I couldn’t have had a better, kinder, nicer dad and a better childhood. So, it was sort of a funny split. Here he played in such a macabre world, but he was a great guy and a champion of the underdog.
Dread Central: Were you brought to sets and things like that?
Terry Castle: Family was everything to my father. I mean, Joan Crawford would call him and invite him to a dinner party and he’d say, “I’ll only go if I can bring my girls.” I learned at a very young age to not enter a set when the red light was on. I’m terrified of red lights to this very day. I walked in once when the red light was going and I got in trouble. I’m telling you that when I come to a stop light now I’m scared.
Dread Central: Would he ever bring you onto the productions?
Terry Castle: Absolutely! It was more than that. It was funny because I was very young when the early movies were made, but I have an older cousin and they would come over to the house and he would read them scenes and ask, “How does this play?”
Dread Central: Did you ever try acting?
Terry Castle: Growing up with this larger than life father who made films, I was of course going to be an actress because that was just my destiny, right? It was either that or a ballet dancer and being a ballet dancer just wasn’t as pretty. Now, dad was doing a movie called STRAIT JACKET which starred Joan Crawford (which was his biggest gimmick of all according to John Waters) and Diane Baker and I happen to look very much like Diane Baker as a kid. So, my dad said, “Ok, here’s your chance.” What I was supposed to do was walk into the room and watch my mother (who was played by Joan Crawford) hack her husband and her husband’s lover to death. [laughs] I practiced that scene over and over for six weeks. I would walk in. My dad would have a baseball bat and hitting the bed with it. He didn’t tell me the specifics of it at the time, but I knew something bad was happening. I was supposed to open my eyes very wide and gasp with terror. It was supposed to be the most horrifying thing, but I wasn’t supposed to say anything and then… “Cut! Cut! Cut!” and that would be it. I had this down to a science. So, the day they brought me to the set, unfortunately Joan Crawford was there and she came and had me sit on her lap. Well, I took one look at her and I was so terrified. Needless to say, I didn’t go on and that career was over. Plus, the set was so frigid. I mean, it was freezing in there because Joan Crawford made the set so darn cold because she wanted her skin to stay fresh and tight. I had goose bumps the size of Mount Rushmore. I haven’t acted since.
Dread Central: But you’ve been behind the camera with co-producing the HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL and 13 GHOSTS remakes, correct?
Terry Castle: Yes, I have and I worked for Nickelodeon for many years. I worked on a series with D. J. MacHale called ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? They were really fun to make and D. J. is a great guy and a great writer.
Dread Central: Are you planning at all to do any more remakes of your father’s work?
Terry Castle: I’m really ready for some new William Castle films. The idea of remaking THE TINGLER does not sit well with me. I mean, that’s one that can’t be remade. It’s perfect the way it is. But there is one film of his actually that I would like to remake and that is LET’S KILL UNCLE because I didn’t like the way my dad made it to be honest, it’s an unbelievable book and needs to be retold.
Dread Central: It seems like the landscape is so ripe for it what with the current 3D craze. I mean with the release and popularity of PIRHANA 3D, it just seems like a perfect time.
Terry Castle: The idea of augmented reality is really interesting to me and I know that if Dad was back from the grave, which I’ve heard that he is, he would really want to be playing with those sorts of toys. I’m not sure he’d be playing with 3D, although he’s played with 3D in his life many, many, many times. It would excite him to see what the possibilities were, but the idea of augmented reality would really get him excited. I mean, can you imagine what he would do with phone apps on your phone?
Dread Central: Uncle Creepy here at Dread Central hit it on the head when he recently referred to your dad as The Godfather of Viral Marketing.
Terry Castle: He really was. This is why he went to every single theater, he talked to every single kid who would talk to another kid who would talk to another kid who’d say, “You got to go see this! There’s a skeleton that comes down in the middle of the theater” or “I got my butt buzzed!” or “You should’ve seen so-and-so… he had to sit in The Coward’s Corner!” It was viral marketing and it was done on the cheap. I mean, it was done inexpensively, but it was done with such passion. People come up to me today – mostly men – and they’ll say, “Oh, my god… I can’t believe you’re William Castle’s daughter. I was wearing…” and they’ll know exactly what they were wearing when they saw specific films. “I had on my blue jeans and blue shirt and my mother dropped me off at the theater in Youngstown, Ohio and I didn’t sleep for a week after I saw HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. It was such an incredible event that it has stayed in their minds. And they’re so loyal, these fans.
Dread Central: A friend of mine said once that horror fans are incredibly loyal, but they are also incredibly forgiving. You can make a film that is less than stellar, but they still love it and they appreciate any attempt to give them the kinds of films they enjoy.
Terry Castle: Well, that’s the whole idea. Within this genre, people want to suspend their disbelief. That’s the whole fun of it, right? That’s why you can be forgiving.
Dread Central: Well, not only is horror fun, but it also allows a creator such as your father to address big topics – Life, Death, Grief, Loss, Loyalty, Jealousy – all of those things that seem a little ham-fisted in drama or thrillers, in horror you seem to be able to address those because you’ve already bought into, for example, a thing that grows on your spine when you’re afraid and then gets out into the theater. You’ve already, as Hunter S Thompson said, “Bought the ticket, now take the ride.”
Terry Castle: I hate to get all historical on you, but I also find that horror films really reflect the times. 1968 to me was such a pivotal year for what was going on with horror films when you look at what was going on in the world. It’s so reflective. You had the Tet Offensive and then you had Robert Kennedy’s assassination and then, at the same time, you have ROSEMARY’S BABY come out and then you had NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the whole world changed.
Dread Central: I was just going to say, isn’t that what George Romero has been doing for the last forty years? Every decade he comes out with a zombie film that somehow reflects the time in which it was made.
Terry Castle: To me it’s astonishing. What’s so interesting about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and why it was so important to my dad’s life was that, up until then there was a sense of innocence and kids would be dropped off at the theater to watch a Saturday feature or a double feature. Then, some kids were dropped off in 1968 to go see NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and I remember going to see it and it was truly horrifying. I mean, these kids were traumatized. It changed horror films forever.
Dread Central: As did ROSEMARY’S BABY which was a film your father produced. I remember that furor…
Terry Castle: It was huge. First of all, it was the first time you heard the word “shit” in a film. My dad got such hate mail from The Church. I think kids today need the same sort of experience that we had. It’s just so much fun going to see horror films, but maybe I feel that way because my father was who he was.
Dread Central: Well, I think that what’s interesting is how much your father’s films were a reflection of him and of the way movies were once made. Today… it’s all filmmaking by committee and focus groups.
Terry Castle: [laughs] I can’t believe you’re saying this. I remember sitting around the table and… My dad died, you know, in 1977, when I was nineteen. It was mortifying in the end for him because that was exactly what he would say, that films were being made by committee. He said, “Harry Cohen [Columbia Pictures studio boss] was the biggest asshole, but I knew where I stood. Now, you’ve got twenty people in the room, nobody’s read your script or the book, and they’re all commenting on it, Everyone wants to give you notes.” The other thing is… My dad was an orphan and he had a lot to prove and the gimmicks that he did pull off weren’t easy at that time. To get exhibitors to electrify seats was not an easy feat. I mean, he went to war to get done what he wanted to get done. For example, in HOMICIDAL, during The Fright Break where he offers your money back if the film was too scary and you can’t stay to see the end, but you have to walk the yellow line and go stand in The Coward’s Corner… Theater owners thought he was absolutely crazy. They really put up a fight and I have all these letters saying, “What are you crazy, Castle? Do you know how hard it is to get their money? You’re going to offer them their money back? They’re going to leave!” And, in fact, at a theater in Youngstown, Ohio, he had some studio executives with him and at the climax of the film where my dad’s voice comes up and says, “This is the Fright Break” and you hear his voice and the clock is ticking, the entire theater got up and actually left. The manager of the theater came running to him and said, “Don’t you understand what happened? They had sat through the earlier performance…” My dad was so cute, he was like, “They’re just a bunch of swindlers in Youngstown, Ohio!” After that, they changed the ticket color stubs and it worked fantastically. But he had chutzpah and he had tenacity. He was definitely the PT Barnum of movies.
Dread Central: So, tell me about the Film Forum program. How did that all come together and how were the films picked?
Terry Castle: Bruce Goldstein sent out an email to friends and family about how there was going to be a Return of William Castle program at Film Forum. He’s done the series a couple of times there, but he’s also taken it around the world. I was here when he did it before and it’s amazing! I was over there today. For the first time, I got to see Emergo happen. I finally got to see the skeleton rush across the room. He’s electrifying seats for THE TINGLER. He’s really doing all of the gimmicks. It’s really great fun and quite an honor, quite a tribute.
Dread Central: So, are there plans to bring this program to other theaters in other areas?
Terry Castle: I think for Bruce there are. This is what he would like to do. Yes, absolutely. He’s taken the films to Switzerland and to France, but I think he would love to take it around the country.
Dread Central: What I’d like to do next is to talk a little about the specific nights and get some of your impressions on certain films. The first night at the festival, we have STRAITJACKET and HOMICIDAL.
Terry Castle: HOMICIDAL, to me, is one of my dad’s scariest films. I was a little bit older when that one came out and my father actually had a 16mm print of it and a 16mm projector at home. I remember at midnight he would have me invite my girlfriends over and he would carefully weave the film into the projector. My mom would pull down the little screen and we would watch HOMICIDAL which really was quite scary. That was great. Half of my friends couldn’t watch it. It was really funny because my dad gave my sister, my mom and I a charm from every horror films he made. So, my charm bracelet has axes and daggers and coffins. It’s pretty cool. I was kind of a weird chick. “There’s that girl with that weird bracelet!”
Dread Central: Did that ever hinder you later… like when it came to boys?
Terry Castle: You asked me about my father being a larger than life character… On my very first date, poor guy… He came to the door to get me and my father met him with this big cigar in his mouth and he’s really imposing. The poor guy was literally shaking. “I-I-I’m here to pick up your daughter.” My dad looked right in his eyes and he blew smoke right in his face and said, “I just want you to know… whatever you do to my daughter you’re going to have to do to me.” [laughs] I was home by eight o’clock.
Dread Central: [laughs] As a dad myself… that’s awesome!
Terry Castle: I didn’t think it was that awesome! [laughs] This was also how sweet my dad was… Every Sunday night, we’d go to this restaurant in Beverley Hills called Scandia. It was actually right in West Hollywood. He loved going to Scandia. He’d get the best table… He loved it. We’d sit down and look at the menu and he’d look at me and say, “Terry, when you’re with me, you can order anything off the menu you want, but as soon as you go on a date, you have to order the cheapest thing on the menu.” [laughs] He felt sorry for the poor guy I was going to date. He didn’t want him to have to pay. That’s the type of person he was.
Dread Central: So, the next night at Film Forum is HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL and, a personal favorite if mine, MR. SARDONICUS. I love that movie.
Terry Castle: Isn’t it good? That would be a fun one to remake, actually. Do you want to remake it with me?
Dread Central: Oh, sure! Absolutely!
Terry Castle: So, let me ask you… Did you vote Mercy or No Mercy? Of course, you voted for No Mercy.
Dread Central: What, are you kiddin’? No Mercy, of course! No quarter!
Terry Castle: Yeah! When I see the end of that film though, when I see my father… I just saw that today. They were just playing that trailer at the rehearsal today… Every time, I start crying hysterically. It is so my father. When he is up there with his hat on with his tongue in his cheek and he asks, “What are you gonna vote?” It’s like, “There’s my daddy!” I can’t even tell you what it does to me. It gets me right to my soul.
Dread Central: I first saw MR. SARDONICUS on Bob Wilkins’ CREATURE FEATURES back on KTVU 2 in the Oakland / San Francisco area. What a great movie.
Terry Castle: Ok, I have a question for you… I saw on your web site that you studied mortuary science. Is that really true?
Dread Central: Yes.
Terry Castle: Ok, I want to tell you something and I have a question for you. We were in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Kahala Hilton. My dad is sitting around the pool with a big cigar, his hat on, and he’s reading PLAYBOY. And in that issue was the short story, MR SARDONICUS. They always had really great short stories back then. So, he read it, he optioned it and that’s how that happened. He loved it and knew it had to be a film. And what happened with the ending was that he had the No Mercy ending and the studio said it was way too cruel. They said that he couldn’t have that ending. He had to change the ending. And that’s how my father came up with the idea of, “We’ll have two endings and we’ll let the audience vote.” So, here’s the question… Do you know that you’re friends with William Castle?
Dread Central: Yes, I am… on Facebook, you mean.
Terry Castle: Yes. I just wanted to make sure. Do you believe he’s back from the grave?
Dread Central: Sure! There’s a part of me – the cynic – that suspects that it’s shtick. But then, there’s another part of me that thinks that if he was back, it’d be so awesome! I mean, the prospect of communicating with someone from beyond the grave… would be awesome.
Terry Castle: Wouldn’t it be fun?
Dread Central: In fact, I gotta tell you something… I just got a note from your father. When I opened my email and saw “William Castle has sent you a message” there was a part of me that got very excited.
Terry Castle: It’s wonderful to believe. And that’s something that every twelve year old in 1961 would want as well.
Dread Central: So, what about HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL?
Terry Castle: Well, I was really young when that was made. I was maybe just conceived or maybe just born. But the reason it got remade was… I was living in New York at the time and I would walk into those small mom-and-pop video stores and every one of them would have HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL as their horror pick of the night. I couldn’t believe it. It was the first time I realized that Dad’s films were still being remembered. That was a film in particular that I really loved. And I have such great memories of Vincent Price. I remember him coming over and cooking turtle soup and those sorts of things. He really made THE TINGLER work. The non-sequiturs in that movie… and when he takes LSD it’s just the best moment. When you see it with an audience today, it gets quite a laugh.
Dread Central: What about THE WHISTLER films… were those just “for hire” gigs for your dad?
Terry Castle: My dad was a contract director for Harry Cohn and Columbia for many years and then he went over to Universal for a few years. He then came back with a property that he wanted to produce and direct which he did with Allied Artists and that was MACABRE. That was after he saw DIABOLIQUE and saw the lines around the block for it. It was then that he said, “This is what I want to be doing.” He’d always played in the horror genre and it always interested him. He’d done Broadway and he’d met Bela Lugosi. Horror was always there. Then he went and got this property and then woke up panicked that nobody was going to want to come see his film. So, he said, “I got to figure out a way to get them into the theater.” That was when he went over to Lloyd’s of London and said, “How about we insure people against death by fright?” So, if anybody died, their beneficiary would get $1,000. It was a great gimmick. I still actually have the policy. It was a real policy. Lloyd’s of London would insure anything. It was beautiful.
Dread Central: So after that… Film Forum is running MACABRE, 13 GHOSTS, and then THE TINGLER… They’re also running the PSYCHO trailer with that. I can’t imagine seeing those on the big screen.
Terry Castle: Dad absolutely loved Alfred Hitchcock. He thought he was the best. He had a signed picture of him and the two of them had a running relationship. Hitchcock made the “A” films and my father made the “B” films, but my dad really respected him. But Dad was also really proud because, PSYCHO and HOMICIDAL came out kind of close to each other, and everybody always called HOMICIDAL a rip-off of PSYCHO, but TIME magazine said that they liked HOMICIDAL better than PSYCHO.
Dread Central: So, the Film Forum thing is going on and I saw the Sony collection of your dad’s films from a few years ago. Will there be more of those released?
Terry Castle: I don’t know if Sony or any other studios are planning to release more of them. The thing that’s sort of interesting right now is that DVDs are kind of going away. So, I don’t know what the studios are planning or how much they’re putting into new DVD releases right now.
Dread Central: Well, Blu-Rays of these movies would be great. Can we talk about this manuscript that was unveiled recently?
Terry Castle: The one my father wrote, FROM THE GRAVE, you mean? Yes, we can. All I know is what you know and that is that William Castle is back from the grave. I know that it’s time for a new generation to get to enjoy the same thrills and the same gimmicks; some hi-tech, some low-tech. I know that if there ever was a place for my father to present a new manuscript, it would be at a place like Film Forum where his fans would be because he loved them. So, I won’t be surprised if people smelled Don Diego #5 cigar smoke there.
Dread Central: Well, despite your dad’s death, he’s managed to remain pretty active on the Internet with a web site, a blog, a Facebook page… even a Twitter account.
Terry Castle: He’s spent a lot of time looking over people’s shoulders at the Apple store. That’s where I’m sure he’s hanging out. I can tell you as his daughter, if he were alive, he would have his butt parked there and would have some salesman wrapped around his finger. He would be like, “Ok, tell me how I can buzz everybody’s butts when they’re at home in their dining room, eating their dinner with their families. Give me an app for that!”
Dread Central: Now that he’s back from the grave, do you think he’ll be experimenting at all with things like the iPhone?
Terry Castle: Absolutely! I mean, a TINGLER app. I can see that. There’s also a low-tech gimmick that he never used that I’m sure he would love to use now… If you notice – and you’re going to be the first to hear this, so this is an exclusive – if you notice on my dad’s Facebook page where he lives, he lives in Gordes, France. It’s not in Hollywood. When I saw that I was rather startled, but then I went to his autobiography, STEP RIGHT UP!, I’M GONNA SCARE THE PANTS OFF OF AMERICA which, by the way, I’m re-releasing because it’s out of print. It’s already available on Amazon on Kindle, but it will be a real book in about a month. Anyway, I noticed it was Gordes, France and I wondered why he wasn’t… if he was anywhere, he was buried in Forest Lawn in Glendale, CA and he lived in LA his whole life and he was born in New York, what the hell is he doing in Gordes, France? Then, I saw in his autobiography and there’s a page in there that I actually didn’t ever remember reading. He was with my mother in 1959 and they were on a tour promoting one of his films, probably HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. They were in southern France and he saw a house and the house was really dilapidated and it looked haunted. He then said to my mother, “Ellen, look at that house. Doesn’t it look haunted?” And my mom said, “Yes, it’s scary!” He said, “I want to buy that house” and my mom said, “What are you, crazy? Why would you want that house?” He said, “I want to make five or ten million keys and I want to give them away to every person who goes to see my movie and whoever has the right key will be able to spend the weekend at this haunted house. Then next day, my dad went and bought it. He never used that gimmick. I’m sure… that’s where he is.
Dread Central: It’s funny… all I can think about right now is, “How can I get one of them keys?!?!” [laughs]
Terry Castle: They’re going to all be skeleton keys and they’re all going to be numbered. I think every book should get one of those keys, don’t you?
Dread Central: And the idea of having someone actually winning and spending the night there… and the opportunity that presents to have your dad actually making his presence known…
Terry Castle: Yeah… ya think?!? [laughs] It’s HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL all over again.
Dread Central: Do you think that your dad has more to say and more manuscripts to impart?
Terry Castle: Yes. There are many, many more films that he wanted to make and didn’t get a chance to make. There’s one in particular called THE MIND THING by Frederic Brown that my dad loved, but it never got made and needs to be. I know dad would be really interested in producing it if he had an opportunity. And I think he could do that from the grave. I don’t think you can direct from the grave, that would be a little difficult, but I think he could definitely produce from there. Or at least Executive Produce.
Dread Central: So, your mission is to continue the promotion of your dad’s work?
Terry Castle: My mission is to do my dad proud and to come to Film Forum and honor him because I love that people still come out and see his films. I’m touched and it makes me cry. I just want to carry on his legacy as best I can because I’m the only one left. But I think my dad has his own ideas and I don’t know if I’m privy to all of them. I think that his mission is to scare a whole new generation of kids out of their wits.
Dread Central: So, what are you up to then? Do you have your own projects?
Terry Castle: No, I’m the mom. I’m pursuing some properties and doing some work on my own, but I’m really happy raising my two boys. One is getting ready to go off to college. Then, I’m going to take a breath and I’ll figure out what I’ll do next. But I have to say… something did happen that might have started this whole occurrence. My mother had severe Alzheimer’s for the last fifteen years – she’s still alive, but my sister passed away in 1993 and she was my best friend. The three of us were “his girls” and I’m his only legacy, but he had a lawyer for a many, many, many years since the 1940s and all of his boxes were in storage with him. This man is getting on in age and I finally got the nerve to ask for all of the boxes to be delivered to my office. And now, I have fifty boxes filled with stacks of contracts, of options, of deals, of movie memorabilia, of unbelievable treatments… The dust is still settling around me. I mean, I finally got the guts to dig in and that’s where I’m at.
Dread Central: Was your dad a big note-taker and a big documentarian?
Terry Castle: There are two things I can tell you about this. One is that I have all of his working scripts and it’s so much fun. In THE TINGLER, in the back of it, I have all of his working notes. He was taking notes constantly on his scripts. And then, every single book that he ever read, in the margins, he would have notes – usually financial notes – like estimates on how much it would cost to make them into movies. He wanted, for example, to get the James Bond series and, in all of his copies of the books, you can see him trying to figure out how much it would cost for him to make it. [laughs]
Dread Central: What about this Broadway musical I’m hearing about?
Terry Castle: SPINE-TINGLER – the musical is a horror story that utilizes all kinds of William Castle-like gimmicks. It’s as much a story about the “monster kids” that loved him as the man that loved to tell stories – especially tales of terror.
Dread Central: Well, I gotta say, I’m so looking forward to all of this. Your dad is exactly the kind of person the American cinema landscape could use right now. It’s in such a sorry state and it’s going to take someone with your dad’s vision to revitalize it.
Terry Castle: I hope he comes back to do that because that would be so cool – on so many levels. [laughs] You know, when he died and we went to Forest Lawn, we were all traumatized. It was my mother, my sister, and myself and this friend of ours who was my dad’s assistant. We went to Forest Lawn and the guy behind this big, round desk opens up this drawer and shows us these Barbie doll-sized coffins and you have to pick which one you like. There was one where he said, “Now, this one is the super deluxe that seals and it’s got the hinges and it seals so tight that no air could ever escape this coffin.” And my mother turned to me and she said, “He’ll never be able to get out of that!” We didn’t buy that coffin. So, maybe we made the right choice. Maybe William Castle really IS back from the grave!
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Blumhouse’s Halloween Wraps Filming
It was just yesterday that Laurie Strode aka Jamie Lee Curtis wanted Halloween fans to know that we’ll be “very happy and VERY scared” by Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel.
And today we have news that we might be on track to be “very happy and VERY scared” this October as filming has wrapped completely on Blumhouse’s Halloween!
Co-producer Ryan Turek broke the news on Twitter and you can check out his tweet HERE.
Are you excited to know that filming has wrapped on Halloween? Let us know below!
Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green based on a script he wrote with Danny McBride. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode as does Nick Castle as Michael “The Shape” Myers. They are joined by Will Patton, Andi Matichak, and Judy Greer. Halloween creator John Carpenter is on board as executive producer of the film as well as the composer.
The anticipated release date is October 19, 2018.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.
Troy Baker and Emily O’Brien Confirmed For Death Stranding
While there’s still no release date for Hideo Kojima’s mysterious Death Stranding, there have been regular(-ish) updates for the sci-fi/horror game. These little tidbits act not only as seeds of information but also as additions to the overall mystery surrounding the game, which is basically what gets Kojima’s all hot and bothered.
Last night, actress Emily O’Brien posted a photo on her Instagram where she revealed that she has been working on Death Stranding alongside Norman Reedus and another actor who is renowned in the gaming community: Troy Baker. No description of either of their characters’ roles were revealed in the description, which leads to the “mystery” part of the story. With Reedus already being shown as the main character, Mads Mikkelsen as the villain, and Guillermo del Toro having a role of unknown size, I’m curious where Baker and O’Brien fit into the story. With side characters having just as much importance as mains in many games these days, you never know what kind of impact these actors will have on the greater story.
Baker is known for playing Joel in The Last of Us as well as Samuel Drake in Uncharted 4, Booker DeWitt in Bioshock: Infinite, and Bruce Wayne in Batman: The Telltale Series, as well as a great deal more. O’Brien has offered her voice in titles such as League of Legends, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, and Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul, as well as acted in film and TV.
Below is a fascinating dive into Death Stranding from my pal RagnarRox.
Annihilation Review – A Fascinating, Gorgeous New Take on Body Horror
Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac
Written by Alex Garland
Directed by Alex Garland
Have you ever walked out of a theater and thought to yourself, “That was more than just a movie. That was an experience“? It’s only happened to me a handful of times, the last one I remember being Mad Max: Fury Road. Last night, that sensation washed over me as the credits for Annihilation began their crawl after a near two-hour runtime. I remained in my seat until every name slipped by before I found it within myself to stand up and leave the theater. All I could think was, “I’ve just witnessed something incredible.”
An adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s first book in his The Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation follows Lena (Portman), an ex-soldier-turned-biologist professor at Johns Hopkins whose husband Kane (Isaac) has been missing for a year after leaving on a covert mission of which Lena has been able to get zero information about. When Kane mysteriously returns and almost immediately falls gravely ill, Lena finds herself in a secret government facility that is monitoring a strange and potentially cataclysmic phenomenon: a strange shimmering dome that appeared in a remote region after a meteorite landing, a dome that grows larger with each passing day. Realizing that the answer to her husband’s malady may very well lie within that area, Lena joins four other women as they embark on an expedition into what is called “Area X”. However, it’s quickly realized that nothing is quite what it seems to be and that the laws of nature no longer apply.
The majesty of Annihilation is the time in which it takes to build the story and to ramp up the tension. While it has no problem with frenetic scenes, the film moves at an almost poetic pace, every moment adding something to the overarching narrative. From showing the relationship between Lena and Kane to the interactions between the five women who venture into “Area X” to the action sequences, every part of the movie feels necessary. This is even seen in the climax of the film, which is a 10-minute scene that features almost zero dialogue and yet feels fraught with danger.
Visually, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. The jungle that takes up most of Area X is lush and beautiful. Crepuscular rays break through the leaves and tease a rainbow iridescence thanks to the “shimmer”. A wide variety of flowers impossibly blossom from the same source, a result of the genetic mutations occurring within the dome. Strange fungal patterns explode across the walls of abandoned buildings, their patterns a tumorous cornucopia of colors and textures. Even when the movie brings gore into the equation, it does so with an artist’s gaze. Without ruining the moment, there is a scene where the team comes across the body of a man from a previous expedition. For as macabre as the visual was, it was equally entrancing, calling to mind the strangely beautiful designs of the “clickers” from The Last of Us.
Each setting in the story has a visual style that sets it apart from one another but still feels connected. The governmental facility feels cold and sterile while the jungles of Area X are warm and verdant. As the team ventures further into the contaminated zone, we are taken to the beach next to the lighthouse that acts as “ground zero” for the mysterious event. Here we see trees made of crystal and bone-white roots clinging to the nautical beacon. In this 3rd act, we’re taken into the basement of the lighthouse, which can only be described as Giger-esque, with strange ribbed walls that feel like they pulsate with a life of their own.
The characters of Annihilation feel real and the exposition given doesn’t feel forced. When Lena is rowing a boat with Cass, the sharing of information feels like camaraderie, not awkward plot reveals. Additionally, no character is without their flaws. Even Lena has her own issues that burden her with guilt, making her journey into Area X all the more understandable. As the stress of the mission wears on these women, the seeds of distrust begin germinating into deadly situations that have very real consequences, including the appearance of a bear that would be right at home in the Silent Hill universe. Also, kudos to Garland for writing the film in such a way where the gender roles not only feel natural but are never focused on in a disingenuous manner.
Musically, Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, who scored Garland’s previous film Ex Machina, create a soundtrack that is atmospheric, haunting, and hypnotizing. The music elevates the dreamy phantasmagoria of the film without overpowering any scene. Meanwhile, cinematographer Rob Hardy, who also worked on Ex Machina, helps create a film where nearly every frame is a work of art.
Those entering Annihilation expecting a clearly defined sci-fi/horror offering will be disappointed. There is certainly a great deal of both to be had but the movie doesn’t want to offer something fleeting. Instead, it uses those genres as a foundation to create a film that will stay with viewers long after they leave the theater. When you get to the core of Annihilation, it’s a body horror film that pays homage to the work of David Cronenberg while carving an entirely new path of its own. Just don’t expect it to hold your hand and answer all of its mysteries. Some questions are left for you to see through on your own.
I do not say this lightly but I truly believe that Alex Garland has offered audiences one of the best genre films in recent years.
Annihilation is a bold, gorgeous, and stunning melting pot of horror, sci-fi, and drama, culminating in one of the most fascinating films I’ve seen this decade.
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