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Exclusive: Chris Smith Talks Black Death and More!

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After the release of Christopher Smith’s 2009 haunting boat trip gone wrong flick Triangle, I was a bit surprised to hear that for his follow-up he was heading to the medieval time period for Black Death, which can be described as Black Hawk Down meets Wicker Man (and not the Nic Cage version either).

While doing his press rounds for his latest project, Dread Central had the opportunity to chat with the British filmmaker about his work on Black Death, how this film is unlike any other period piece you’ve seen, and what it is about the horror genre that keeps bringing him back for more.

Smith’s journey to get Black Death made started while he was still at the helm for the Melissa George vehicle Triangle in Australia. “Halfway through Triangle the original director pulled out of Black Death so the producers contacted me and sent me the script. When I saw on the first page it said ‘1348, the Year of our Lord,’ I was immediately interested because I love that time period. So much of what made that time period fascinating to me was because of how crazy the times were and now to see what has changed in the last 600 years and what, at its core, has not changed at all.

Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in medieval times, Black Death is centered around a young monk (Eddie Redmayne) who is tasked with leading a group of warriors (led by Sean Bean) who are on a mission to find out the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a remote village that seems to be unaffected by the growing plague of death surrounding them.

However, as Smith finished the script, the one thing he realized is that while the first part of the film was very gritty and realistic, the second half went in a more of a supernatural direction, which wasn’t where he thought the heart of the story was. For him Black Death was about the journey of these men during the very troubled times during the bubonic plague.

Exclusive: Chris Smith Talks Black Death and More!

Smith explained, “The first half of Black Death is from the original script, and I ended up working with the writer Dario Poloni to rework the second half because originally the film took a fantastical approach, but I didn’t want to go in that direction. I just felt the real story was about these men and what fate held for them in those dark times.

The filmmaker went on to discuss how he collaborated with cinematographer Sebastian Edschmid in order to deliver a cinematical experience for fans unlike anything ever seen during a period piece horror film.

I wanted Black Death to be shot in the style of a war movie, like Saving Private Ryan,” said Smith. “There could be no sweeping helicopter shots here- there needed to be an intimacy that draws the audience in so you feel like you were really taking this journey with these characters. I also took my time with a lot of shots, leaving the camera lingering on characters longer than what you see usually these days. It’s pretty common in movies now to see a lot of quick cuts, but I think our approach really gives fans a sense of what it feels like when you’ve hung around a crime scene too long. There’s a cold brutality in that feeling.

Another thing we did was to make sure that every kill in the film is just cold and merciless, which is a reflection of those times. You usually see in most modern horror movies that everyone falls victim to their weaknesses, but with Black Death everyone is just brutalized. It’s not their weaknesses that get them; it’s just the cold reality of the situation they’re in,” Smith added.

With Smith being such a huge horror fan himself, he knew that when it came time to create the deaths in the film, practical effects was the only way to go. “Even though we did have a huge CG budget on Black Death, we still opted for practical effects. Everything needed to look authentic not only because the movie has a sense of realism to it but also because I think CG blood always looks terrible and can pull you right out of a movie when you’re watching it. Look at An American Werewolf in London. You know why everything in that movie still looks so great? Because they really did it. And that never ages. It’s brilliant and proves why you should go practical whenever you can.

Now, with Black Death already available for fans who have access to VOD services and about to hit theaters in a few short weeks, Smith is already looking towards the future and says he still has plenty to offer genre fans in the coming years.

What I really love about the horror genre is that I’ve just done a movie, Black Death, which fits into the world of horror, and yet it’s a complete departure from anything I’ve done so far,” explained Smith. “There are still so many subgenres in horror I want to explore so I could keep going for a long time and never do the same concept twice, which is what I think makes horror so great.

I honestly want to stay working in horror for as long as I can because I really love the genre. I’ve enjoyed the responses I’ve gotten from fans so far, and I just can’t imagine making any other kind of movies, at least for now,” Smith added.

Smith remained tight-lipped on the specifics of what we can expect from him in the near future but gave us this tease. “I’m working on two projects right now, but I can’t really say too much on either of them except that the first one is a film noir piece with some definite horror elements to it, and the second project is a werewolf movie with some very Tarantino-esque qualities to it.

For more info visit the Black Death website and become a fan of Black Death on Facebook.


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Exclusive: Chris Smith Talks Black Death and More!

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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?

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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