After Dark Originals: Brett Simmons Talks Husk - Dread Central
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After Dark Originals: Brett Simmons Talks Husk



More After Dark Originals love with Husk director Brett Simmons, who was kind enough to talk us up about his wicked scarecrow flick. Having already shown his original short at Sundance, the director tells us about turning his corn-stalking scare-show into a feature film.

Chris Haberman: Where were you filming and how did the shoot go? Any fun set stories?

Brett Simmons: We shot in Ames, Iowa, outside of Des Moines. We shot for three weeks, 18 actual days. It was a lot of fun, but pretty intense because shooting in cornfields is challenging. There isn’t any space for anyone or anything to work because the stalks are so tall and thick. We had to get pretty creative with how we operated in there. Also, we had a ton of weather issues. A normally sunny, blue sky state was suddenly stormy and rainy for the three weeks we shot, so the already difficult cornfields were oftentimes pretty muddy and swampy…which was horrible.

Probably the best story to share for readers that’s the worst story for me is the day one of our hard drives failed. We shot on the RED, which was a great experience considering the environment and conditions. Using film and changing reels in a swampy, bug-infested cornfield doesn’t lend a lot of confidence. I’ve shot on the RED a bunch with no problems, but of course, the day after we shot the biggest, most involved sequence in the film…we showed up the next day to learn the storage drive failed and we lost everything from the day. Everything. Our actor lost his voice giving his all for the performance, stunt guys were bruised and had broken knuckles doing the stunts, the crew slaved tirelessly for hours, everyone gave their all…and we lost it. It was the worst feeling in the world. That was also nearly halfway through our 18 days, so the later half of the shoot was characterized by trying to figure out how to finish the movie AND re-shoot a scene that already took an entire day. Yeah, that was a fun series of emotions. But the good news is, we DID re-shoot it. It’s the version in the movie. And it came out much better than the first time. Rather than be bummed, we were instead inspired to view the first round as a dress-rehearsal so that we could knock the re-shoot out of the park. I really think we did. And we did it in half a day, thanks to knowing exactly what to do. So there’s fun set story to read that was a nightmare to live.

CH: What was the most fun and/or challenging aspect of adapting your own short film into a full-length feature film?

BS: The most fun was having the length and space of a feature to dive into things I could only graze upon in the short. The short film format is so limited (which is actually why I love it so much), but feature length opens up a lot of room. Truth is, I deliberately avoided certain creative territories in the short, hoping for the chance to instead explore them in a feature. Thankfully I got the chance, and it was a rewarding one. The hardest/most challenging part was achieving the objectivity to tell the story well. By the point I started writing the feature, I had already been on a two-, almost three-year journey with the short film. The short and I were close…but a little too close. My mind had adapted to the size and limitation of a thirty-minute horror movie; it became hard for me to stay as clearly open-minded about the feature as I probably would have been without the short.

It’s like the kid from the country moving to the big city. Where you’ve been makes it pretty hard to instantly comprehend where you’re going. You gotta live there a little while. Fortunately, I had enough time to work and re-work the feature to finally get the objective view I needed to make sure I was telling the story I wanted to tell.

CH: Did you take any inspiration from or take intentional departure from previous scarecrow-centric genre films?

BS: I would say more of an intentional departure, but seeing those movies is what inspired me to depart my own way. I’ve always appreciated the potential for scarecrows and cornfields. It’s a natural place to be drawn toward because scarecrows and cornfields are automatically so spooky and recognizable, your job is largely done when you get there. I think where I’ve been let down in the past was by story. In the past I’ve seen so much focus put into making sure that the scarecrows and cornfields are scary that ultimately neither are because I’m not interested or engaged enough in what’s happening. Scarecrows, for me, don’t need glowing eyes or sharp teeth to be scary. The burlap head alone already freaks me out. I’ve always been more drawn by the potential of what/who the scarecrows could be and why they’re doing what they’re doing. So when I wanted to make a horror movie, I decided to attempt what I had been missing.

CH: How were the FX handled? Practical, CGI, or a combo?

BS: 99.9% of the effects were handled practically. Only one effect wasn’t, and even that was just a separate practical effect superimposed on top of another practical effect…which probably means we were 100% practical, but I’ll let you be the judge. I prefer doing things practically as much as possible because I enjoy capturing everything in camera. I like knowing that everything I need has been shot. I’m open to CGI when it better serves production and/or the story, but with a low-budget horror movie, I felt there was no excuse and no need. Mike Regan and Blake Bolger did the FX. They were amazing. Mike and Blake came up with some amazing stuff. If you’ve seen the After Dark Originals teaser (or the Husk trailer), all the “nail through finger” stuff was them, and it’s awesome. I can’t take any credit other than giving them license to do what they do best. And they did.

Gary J. Tunnicliffe created the scarecrow masks, and he did a phenomenal job. The masks had to be my biggest worry going in because I knew if the scarecrow faces weren’t up to snuff, Husk could be facing some big trouble. A scarecrow movie about scarecrows better have cool looking scarecrows. Fortunately, Gary saved me by doing an amazing job and creating some faces that I think are both chilling and memorable. I love how the scarecrows look.

After Dark Originals: Brett Simmons Talks Husk

After Dark Originals: Brett Simmons Talks Husk

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Fearsome Facts

Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)



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



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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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



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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