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After Dark Originals: Brett Simmons Talks Husk

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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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Kevin Bacon Lets Us Know the Tremors Reboot Pilot Has Wrapped Filming

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Two weeks ago we let you guys know that Tremors mainstay Michael Gross, aka Burt Gummer, was, unfortunately, not asked to be a part of the upcoming Syfy reboot series starring Kevin Bacon.

While that news upsets us a bit, being that the series has only filmed its pilot episode, we feel that there is still a big chance we could see Burt return to kick some more Graboids in the tentacle-thingies with elephant guns.

Fingers crossed.

Speaking of the “Tremors Syfy pilot, recently star Kevin Bacon took to Instagram to let us all know that filming has wrapped!

You can check out The Bacon’s post below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are for Syfy’s “Tremors” series in the comments below!

In the Tremors follow-up, written by Andrew Miller, the killer Graboid worms that nearly destroyed Perfection, NV, 25 years ago are back; and the town’s only hope for survival is Valentine McKee (Bacon), who beat them once. But to do it again he’ll have to overcome age, alcohol, and a delusional hero complex.

“Tremors” the TV series is headed our way courtesy of Jason Blum’s Blumhouse TV and Universal Cable Prods.

We’ll let you know when we hear more about the series!

So long to NM. Had an amazing time shooting this pilot. Hope I can keep walking in these boots #Tremors

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Exclusive: Buzzard Hollow Beef Brings Cannibal Gore to the Holidays

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Holidays at the end of the year seem to be focused on one major aspect: food. From Christmas hams to Thanksgiving turkeys to Hanukkah latkes to who knows what else, eating is a very important part for end-of-the-year festivities. Personally, I’m totally okay with it because it means great food and TONS of leftovers, ensuring that I don’t have to concern myself with cooking for at least a couple of days.

But what if the holiday season were a bit more sinister and what if the food was a bit more…unsavory? Allow us to introduce you to Buzzard Hollow Beef, a new vision of horror that blends cannibal hillbillies, intense and terrifying hallucinations, and small town mysteries. If this sounds up your alley, then don’t fret about waiting because the film comes to Amazon Prime, iTunes, and other transactional platforms on Tuesday, November 21!

We’ve got a trailer, poster, and several stills for you to check out, so peruse at your will and enjoy!

Directed by Joshua M. Johnson, who co-wrote the film with Tara C. Hall, Buzzard Hollow Beef stars Bruce Jennings, Nadia Kamil, Scott C. Brown, Emily Letts, Janet Chiarabaglio, Amanda Spinella, Will Frazier, Gabriel Caste, and Doug Perkins.

Synopsis:
Still reeling from her divorce and struggling as the single mother of a 9 month old, Jordan Vollmer looks forward to a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend with her family and her best friend, Paige. As the group ventures into the small town of Buzzard Hollow, they are greeted with strange and unsavory characters, known around these parts as the Solomon family. Their suspicions surrounding the Solomons are aroused by the fact that they all seem unwilling to talk about the beef that they serve in their hamburgers and sell in their butcher shop. When the Vollmers experience horrifying hallucinations, they begin to suspect that the Solomons are somehow involved.

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Exclusive: Confrontational Bewitches and Hypnotizes With Fade/Into the Burning Dawn

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Earlier this year, I introduced you readers to Italian synthwave artist Confrontational and his cover of Sabrina’s “Boys (Summertime Love)”. While that track was pure summertime brightness, we recognize that many of you are more interested in the darker side of music, where songs are melancholic yet brimming with a hypnotic sexual tension. To that end, we’ve teamed up once again to bring you the exclusive track premiere of “Fade/Into the Burning Dawn” featuring Tying Tiffany, which you can listen to below.

Melding equal parts of The Cure and John Carpenter, the song pulsates sensually, evoking imagery of electric blue and hot pink lasers piercing through vantablack darkness. Furthermore, the dynamic between the female and male vocals adds a wonderful sense of intimacy. This song was clearly a child of the 80’s that is now grown up and ready to stand on its own.

Confrontational tells Dread Central:
The final chapter in the triptych, once again graced by Branca Studio’s outstanding artwork, recounts the striving for light in spite of the devouring darkness that surrounds us all. Unrequited love, loss of innocence, loss of identity, temptation and anger – the story finally comes to a close. There is a deep and heartfelt sense of longing throughout each of the tracks, a hard-hitting feeling of nostalgia – which is something Tiffany found out to be a constant in my songwriting. I have been a fan of her work for a long time and I am ecstatic to have finally worked together on this. Her unique take on the lyrics is what makes it so very special, and her vocals blending seamlessly with mine throughout the choruses turned it into a true personal favorite. To have Tiffany on the album along with these amazing heroes of mine – Cody, Tobias and Trevor – is simply dream-like, and makes me so very proud to finally share the effort with you all. I look forward to checking out everyone’s comments on this and I can’t wait to bring it to the stage soon!

“Fade/Into the Burning Dawn” comes from Confrontational’s upcoming album The Burning Dawn, which can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. Guest appearances on the album include Tobias Bernstrup, Cody Carpenter, and more!

Confrontational can be followed at his official website, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify.

Upcoming tour dates:
January 25 – Milano (TBA)
January 26 – Savona (TBA)
January 27 – Ravenna (Bronson)

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