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After Dark Originals: Steven C. Miller Talks Scream of the Banshee

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Steven C. MillerSo far, Steven C. Miller’s Scream of the Banshee has already turned some heads with an admittedly fascinating poster. Now the director chats with us to shed some more light on his upcoming After Dark Originals contribution.

“The idea of the banshee – the folklore, the legend – is that she pretty much can take many forms,” Miller says of his film’s infamous creature. “She can take the form of seductress, she can take the form of the banshee itself – which is the way it comes to take you out, and can she can also come as almost like a spirit-type entity that haunts you. She definitely has a lot of ways to scare the audience, that’s for sure.” Indeed, the banshee can also appear as a freakish old hag. We’ll learn much about this creature throughout the film, according to Miller.

“The opening of the movie takes place in ancient times so we get a great feel for where the character comes from, how they have to trap it, how they have to stop it… We get that right at the beginning so we know what we’re in for for the rest of the movie.” And how evil is this thing that haunts its victims for days after they’ve heard its legendary shriek? “The only way to protect yourself is not to scream. She feeds on your screams – once you scream, you’re dead. It’s really about her haunting you, her trying to scare you, her getting you to scream.” Miller won’t say exactly what the banshee does to end your time on earth, but we suspect it ain’t pretty or painless. But how will the viciousness be presented?

“In a movie that was only shot in roughly 14 days [without] a big budget, you don’t really have the opportunity to do a lot of CGI effects. [CGI’s] just not my thing. I’m much more of a hands-on person – what I see, what I can touch is what scares me. So I really wanted a physical presence onscreen.” Miller also shares a bit of insight into a few of the banshee’s “morphing” effects we may enjoy. “With the amount of time, we weren’t able to do everything I wanted to do and make it look as great as I think it could have. But I think at the end of the day, it’s definitely something for old school, 80’s, monster movie fans. This is a movie they’re gonna relate to and have fun with…”

The “old school” approach wasn’t always the plan, however. “The [initial] script idea (written by Anthony Ferrante) was that it was all gonna be CG. And that was just not something I wanted to do. When I came on board, it was much more, ‘Okay, this is gonna be practical.’ And I think in the long run it saved them a lot of money anyway.”

Even once that decision was made, there would still be a bit of trouble. The original effects artist that Miller was “forced to use while I was in Louisiana turned out to be terrible” and was quickly let go. To the rescue came effects artist Vincent J. Guastini. “Vincent came in and saved the day. We didn’t lose any shooting days – we didn’t have time to. He was able to come in, and we were able to move the schedule around so he could do all of the prosthetics there in Louisiana. There was a lot of stuff involved – a lot of props – and he built all of those as well.”

Miller chose Bulgaria to film the centuries-ago opening to “make the film look huge,” courtesy of Bulgaria’s impressive mountains, landscapes and structures. “I’ve never been there before – it was really fun. The place just looks like it’s been bombed out, like an apocalypse hit it. But it’s weird because there are still all of these old monasteries standing and castles all around. We were able to shoot in an old monk monastery – there was no production value needed.” With only one day to shoot in Bulgaria, Miller scored the opening sequence, including a horse chase.

The cast includes Lance Henrickson and Lauren Holly, both of whom Miller grew up admiring. This writer wonders if Miller has any stories to share after working with two important figures from his youth. “I think my favorite of Lance is the day he showed up. We’d talked about his character a little bit on the phone – we didn’t have a lot of time to talk before he got there. He kind of mentioned that he was gonna do something a little wacky, and I was kinda nervous. Well, he shows up and he had his nails completely painted. He had a wig on – a toupee – that was on backwards. And he looked like a complete mess, but it worked! And it actually made the character way more three-dimensional and much more of a fun movie. Lance himself, he’s just a funny guy and he constantly kept everybody on-set laughing. It’s also got Lauren Holly, who is just a pro. She’s one of those girls that can be joking one minute, then I say ‘action’ and she’s crying – in the moment, in the scene and she’s good to go. In a movie like this, we pretty much told everyone that I wasn’t doing more than two or three takes, so the actors really had to be prepared to just get it done. And Lauren and Lance are both those kinds of people – as actors, you don’t have to worry about [them], you don’t have to do too much directing because they understand, they get it. You tell them what to do and they do it. They take direction really well, and it’s awesome to work with people that you grew up watching and thinking were amazing…”

Miller is also super-excited about his upcoming film, Apocalypse: Undead. Keep checking here for more updates on that flick, out in the fall of this year, which Miller has promised us will be “WILD.”

Check out the After Dark Originals website for more!

After Dark Originals: Steven C. Miller Talks Scream of the Banshee


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George A. Romero’s Daughter, Tina, Wrote a Script For Queens of the Dead

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The loss last year of director George A. Romero was a huge blow to the horror community, as well as the filmmaking community at large. The passing of the man responsible for creating the modern day zombie and whose work influenced “The Walking Dead”, Dead Alive, 28 Days Later, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out was felt far and wide but we take solace knowing that his work and legacy will live on forever.

Something that brings a smile to my face is hearing that his daughter, Tina, who DJ’s under the name DJ TRx, has written a screenplay for a zombie film that is called Queens of the Dead. And yes, it’s very gay! Romero has not only written the script but also plans on directing the film herself.

Romero tells The Saunder Blog about the film, saying, “Queens of the Dead is a fusion of two huge parts of my world: zombies and Gay nightlife. It’s a tribute to my father as well as my entrée into the genre he grandfathered. I can’t say too much yet, but what I can tell you is that this film will have all the hallmarks of a George A. Romero classic: farce, politics, heroes, assholes, and most importantly, herds of silly and slow moving walkers that you can’t help but love. But I’m doing it Tina-style, and bringing the glitter, choreography, queers & queens.

Romero’s father always brought some sort of social message into his work, so to hear that she will continue that tradition is inspiring, especially since it comes on a topic that is so discussed and topical.

If you want to read more about Romero and her DJ career, click on the link above.

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary? Local 58 Contingency Emergency Broadcast

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary

“Wanna see something REALLY scary?”

To horror fans who came of age in the 1980s, the line above instantly evokes memories of Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks in the opening scene from Twilight Zone: The Movie. Now, on a bi-monthly basis, I’ll be asking, “Wanna see something REALLY scary?” with the goal of shocking you with chilling footage plumbed from the darkest corners of YouTube.

As a child of the Cold War born in the 1970s and traumatized by films like The Day After and Threads, I remember immediately panicking every time an Emergency Broadcast broke into a TV show I was watching. That alarming tone made my stomach drop and in the moments before it was confirmed to be “only a test” I had already imagined a barrage of nuclear warheads bursting overhead.

My heart went out to the residents of Hawaii who, due to a false alarm, believed a missile attack was imminent this weekend. For almost 40 minutes, families scrambled into fallout shelters, bathrooms, and even storm drains, believing war had begun between the United States and North Korea. Even after the all-clear was announced and the warning revealed as a mistake, nerves were severely rattled. I can only imagine the potential long-term damage done to the psyches of Hawaii’s youngest residents.

For a taste of the pandemonium that occurred, check out an excerpt from CNN’s reporting below.

While the shock must have been unprecedented for most, a bizarre alert that accidentally aired in the late 1960s puts the Hawaii debacle to shame. What viewers of a local station saw just before the end of programming at 3 am was a message announcing the fall of the US Government, and included instructions for committing suicide rather than surrendering to enemy forces.

Wanna see something REALLY scary?

The message bore the seal of The U.S. Department for the Preservation of American Dignity, included a statement from President Lyndon B. Johnson, and warned that failure to commit suicide as instructed would have consequences:

“Your local law enforcement has been ordered to ensure your compliance,” the message cautioned. “It is against the law to delay.” The final instructions remind adult viewers to put down their children and pets first while promising “There is nothing to fear.” Though the station later posted a statement ensuring viewers the message was a hoax, the potential loss of life this broadcast could have inspired is staggering. Have a look:

If the Local 58 Contingency, as it’s become known, seems too outlandish to be true, that’s because it isn’t. Though the video doesn’t include an admission of fiction, it’s written and directed by Kris Straub. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the writer of the popular creepypasta Candle Cove, recently adapted into a TV series on SyFy.

Still, the vintage look of the Local 58 Contingency, not to mention the current climate of heightened tensions between American and a rogue nuclear nation, make this video a truly terrifying viewing experience.

Got an idea for a future installment of “Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?” Hit me up on Twitter @josh_millican!

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The Housemaid Haunts a New Trailer

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Here’s the thing… if we had the choice between cleaning up our own house or being haunted by a vengeful spectral servant of sorts, well… just hand us a friggin’ mop, wouldja already? Still, in the case of The Housemaid, it looks like nothing is gonna stop her from sensing shivers! Dig on this new trailer.

Derek Nguyen directs the flick, which stars Kate Nhung, Jean-Michel Richaud, Kim Xuan, Svitlana Kovalenko, and Rosie Fellner. Look for IFC Midnight’s release of The Housemaid coming to select theaters, VOD, and via Digital platforms in the U.S. on February 16, 2018.

Synopsis:
A forbidden passion awakens vengeful spirits within a haunted mansion in this bloodcurdling, erotic tour-de-force.

Vietnam, 1953: Linh (Nhung Kate), a poor, orphaned young woman, finds employment as a housemaid in a crumbling rubber plantation presided over by the emotionally fragile French officer Sebastien Laurent (Jean-Michel Richaud). Soon, a torrid love affair develops between the two – a taboo romance that rouses the ghost of Laurent’s dead wife, who won’t rest until blood flows.

Submerged in moody Gothic atmosphere, this stylish supernatural saga confronts the dark shadows of Vietnam’s colonial past while delivering heart-stopping scares.

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