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Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

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Filmmaking is a hard business at any budget, but especially at the independent level, which is why you always have to make sure to have a strong support team in place. For his slasher flick Madison County, director Eric England collaborated with producers Daniel Dunn and Ace Marrero to ensure that Damien and all his victims had their chance to be enjoyed by genre fans everywhere.

Now that the film is well into post-production, Dread Central had the opportunity to chat with Dunn and Marrero about their experiences making Madison County, what lessons they came away with from their experiences, and why they believe Damien is a contender to become a contemporary icon of horror.

Heather Wixson: So, guys, when Eric told you that he wanted to move production to the middle of nowhere to shoot Madison County, were you at all apprehensive about what that experience might be like?

Daniel Dunn: Not at all, actually. I had confidence in Eric’s vision for the film. The movie is written about a county in Arkansas and is based on true events, so in my opinion it makes it a more realistic and believable film to have it on location. Also, the kind of scenery and sets needed for this film could not have been recreated on a sound stage in Los Angeles.

Ace Marrero: I was never personally apprehensive about it because I love to visit new places and experience new things. But as a producer on the film, I was more concerned about everyone else. We had some fun experiences with lodging and wildlife while in Arkansas so you never know how much people will tolerate so thankfully it all worked out in the end.

HW: Now I know Ace mentioned some of the living conditions the cast and crew faced while working on Madison County, but can you talk about some of the other challenges you guys faced as well?

DD: I would say the biggest production challenge for me was acquiring the appropriate resources to make this film as great a picture as it was a script considering it was a low budget film. Also, the fact that it was filmed in Arkansas limited our time frame and corrections abilities. But in the end we pulled it off.

AM: For me, because I was also acting in addition to production, I think it was taking on as much as I did and not having the proper team in place from the jump. We thought we could manage it all, and in the end we did, but it was tight. We didn’t have all of the key players from the beginning that you’d need like a Line Producer, a UPM [Unit Production Manager] and we didn’t even have an official AD for the whole shoot. That’s not something that will happen again on future productions.

HW: I know it takes real dedication to work on a film on an independent budget. What was it about Madison County and working with Eric that made you want to dig in to make the project successful?

DD: From a business side of things, I believed that this film was well written by Eric and very marketable. I also had faith in the crew we hired that they had the skills needed to make Madison County successful.

AM: For me, I think it was part ignorance, part naivety and the rest was made up by a passion for making movies. It was always exciting for me to bring pieces to the puzzle. This was my first official producing credit, but I faked it till I made it. To be fair, I had been going to classes through SAG, reading books all before Daniel approached me to be in the film as an actor. I basically from there just invited myself to the producing party and essentially worked like I was part of the plan. I was actually already knee-deep in Madison County before we ever had an official conversation about me producing.

It also helps that the script was good and there was a great interest from other parties. Plus, horror is Eric’s pure passion and there’s no way I’d miss out on being a part of that. It was my personal challenge to provide him with tools he’d never had to take his filmmaking to an entirely new level. It never was about money.

Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

HW: Now that you guys have moved into post-production, how involved are you staying with Madison County until the film is completed?

DD: As far as my role in post-production, I’ve been more involved with things in the editing room more than anywhere else, just making sure that everything is on schedule and looks great. To be honest, we went with a pretty green editor named Levi Blue, but I can say that he has more than exceeded our expectations on Madison County. His work on the film blew all of us out of the water.

AM: We’ve all been very active in post-production. Personally, I’m still wrangling the boys and making sure things continue to get done in a timely manner for the most part. I make phone calls when something needs to get done and do my best to stay on top of it all. During editing, I popped in at least once a week to check in and offer my notes and suggestions for changes, but Daniel and Eric spent most of the time in the lab with our editor, Levi.

The way we look at it, though, we’re young hustlers and we know we will continue to put out great products, brands and franchises to keep us as busy as we want to be until Hollywood recognizes that we are not waiting for opportunity to knock.

HW: I’m sure you both have to be horror fans in some regard, so from a fan’s perspective, what makes Damien such a badass slasher?

DD: As far as Damien goes, I always liked the fact that he speaks for a whole community and has become their enforcer in the most brutal ways.

AM: For me, Damien is scary because he is unpredictable. There is an eerie dynamic between him and the townspeople. It is clear that he is the protected son, but he’ll quickly bite the hand that feeds him. The people of Madison County are his caretakers, but they are also the ones afraid of him the most. Their “perk” is survival, but they’re left to live in endless fear. That makes them just as crazy in my opinion and that scares the hell out of me. With that being said…there are no rules…just pure mayhem, and what you’ll see in the movie is barely scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.

HW: Now that you can reflect a bit on your collective experiences as a producer on Madison County, what would you say is the biggest lesson you learned?

DD: I would say that the biggest lesson I learned was this is not a job I would want to try to do by myself. Having Ace and Eric help me out throughout the process was key to making this movie work.

AM: I’ve learned that being genuinely excited about a project and finding people that feel the same goes a long way. Everyone believed in it 200% and even more so now, which is amazing. We’ve had many people compliment us on the tight ship we ran and what we’ve been able to accomplish so soon in our filmmaking careers, and it’s because we had the right team. The perfect team? No, but I’m not interested in that personally. I think room for growth inspires new thinking and fresh creativity in my opinion. We have all made mistakes, but with a crew that averages out at 25 years old, it was expected and encouraged.

Our cast and crew are STILL the biggest supporters of the movie, plugging it at every chance they get and we’re not paying them to do so; that speaks volumes. I truly feel that it’s because we established a solid base to build from and did a good job of keeping that belief growing strong with professionalism, enthusiasm and honest fun!

For more visit the official Madison County website, follow @MadisonCoFilm on Twitter, and befriend Madison County on Facebook.

Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

Exclusive: Q&A With the Producers of Madison County

Heather Wixson

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Night of the Living Dead 4k and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection

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It’s been a long time coming for these two classics. Especially Night of the Living Dead, after the ridiculously bad transfer put out by Mill Creek Entertainment whose transfer was supposedly remastered from a new 2K scan. I swear I thought it was some kind of a joke when I first put it on to watch. In any event…

IndieWire is reporting that horror classics Night of the Living Dead and The Silence of the Lambs will be added to the 2018 Criterion Collection, a hallmark label for home video cinephiles.

According to the site Criterion will release a new 4K digital restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, which has been approved by the movie’s cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray sets are 35 minutes of deleted scenes and audio commentary from 1994 featuring Demme, Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas. Night of the Living Dead will also be released in 4K, with never-before-seen 16mm dailies included as a bonus feature(!).

These will be added February of 2018.

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DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

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Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review: A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

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