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Jorge Michel Grau Talks We Are What We Are

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We Are What We Are depicts to what extent people will go to survive in the decaying, violent slums of Mexico. Director Jorge Michel Grau knows of this struggle first hand, having grown up in the nation’s dark recesses: streets filled with gang violence, drug wars, and inconceivable poverty. His film acts as a visceral metaphor for these grim realities, complete with cannibalism family, a decaying City backdrop, and graphic violence and mutilation. Here, “home” — that is, the family, the tribe, and its rituals — can save you from being swallowed up completely by the Hell surrounding you.

Heather Buckley: How does your film reflect the state of Mexico?

Jorge Michel Grau: What I want to convey is the sense that in current Mexican society, everyone pretty much is left to their own devices to survive because of the social disintegration and the violence, the rampant, brutal violence that is ongoing now as a result of the drug war. But also, in this process of trying to survive, people are creating small tribes, which help them with their process of survival as they create systems of protection for individuals. And so through the metaphor of the tribes, I would also develop the theme of cannibalism in the way that man’s only predator is another human being. In the film, the stronger tribe preys upon the weaker one. So some of the weaker tribes in society, such as the homeless children, prostitutes and gays, these would be the natural prey for the stronger tribes, in this case, this family.

HB: When did you decide that this metaphor would be best expressed using the horror genre?

JMG: First of all, I love horror films, I grew up watching horror films of the 1970’s but, I wanted to make a story about the disintegration of the family and social disintegration as well, and that is pretty much what is developed in the first part of the film. Then there is a sudden turn towards horror, because I thought it would be a context and framework that would work well. And partly because it would reflect this sense of society surrounded by violence. In Mexico, if I am inside my house, I am protected, but the moment I walk out, I’m open to attacks and aggression all around me.

HB: What is your attraction to the genre?

JMG: What I like about horror is its elasticity, its capacity for expansion, so you could include elements from other genres within a horror film, for instance, humor, and in my case I also wanted to add drama. So that is actually what I really like about it, the possibilities of horror, that you can open it up and insert other styles and feelings.

HB: Do you want to continue to make a horror films or do you want to make things outside the genre?

JMG: I don’t know. What I’m really more drawn to is the cinema of violence. Along the lines of Sam Peckinpah, or Miike, where it’s really more the violence rather than the frightening—that’s what draws me to the genre, that with the aesthetic of gore, you can explore the genre of violence.

HB: What is your attraction to violence as an artistic expression?

JMG: I grew up in the neighborhood where the film takes place, and it was a very violent neighborhood, and I lived with that violence all throughout my childhood and teenage years, and I’ve gotten used to that, those levels of violence, I feel very comfortable relating to the people. It’s a type of community where the violence is sort of endemic, or internalized. Parents beat their kids, brothers beat each other up, so violence sort of comes natural to the way that I look at the world, and I make films.


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HB: What art, film or literature or even music influenced you as an artist/director?

JMG: Sonic Youth is my favorite band. In certain ways I feel frustrated that I was never a musician. Other than that, I like the writing of J.G. Ballard, the South African novelist [J.M.] Coetzee, Chuck Palahniuk. I like the cinema that really hits you in the gut, the really dark, desolate type of films, Also, in Mexico, we have something called ‘Dark Literature’, I don’t know if you would say “gothic”?

HB: What is it about Mexico’s culture that is breeds this sort of cinema?

JMG: I think that we’re a society that, for instance, is suffering the weight of Catholicism. Catholicism really applies pressure and squashes everything. And squashing things, as if you had a cake, and put your hand down and applied pressure to it, it spills to the side. It’s something similar to that happening with religion. Also, because there are so many limitations, people are living in situations with very limited means, so there is a sense of violence. It’s not so much violence, an aggressive or offensive violence, people are more defending their territory, they’re defending their tribes. But you’re living in an environment with tall grey buildings and wires hanging all over the place, you’re stepping on dog shit everywhere, it just creates this situation of aggression and violence around you. Those feelings hanging around, they permeate the work.

HB: How is it to raise money and shoot in Mexico considering that’s the environment?

JMG: There are many problems, it’s almost impossible to make a movie. The only way you can make films in Mexico is with the government, if you take government funds. So, very established filmmakers who started their careers in the seventies, those directors are still making films today, still applying to those same funds that filmmakers like myself, all of us who are new, up and coming filmmakers, have to get in line for the same limited amount of funds, and so it’s a very difficult process. So, one way out is to make very low budget films. When you have a low budget, you can maybe get some money from friends, acquaintances, or other people to get help finishing the film. In the case of my film, it was made through a prize from my film school, without that prize I couldn’t have made this movie.

HB: How dangerous was it to shoot in the areas where you shot your film?

JMG: If you recall the scene with the homeless children, the attempted kidnapping with the homeless children underneath the viaduct, we were actually shooting the film, and further out we had a group of kids who were barring access to the location, and they were assaulted with guns while we were shooting the scene. In the actual neighborhood where I grew up, where we shot the film, since my grandmother still lives there and my mother still lives there and my sisters are still living there, where I happen to know just about everybody, we didn’t really have any major problems. The problems came up in the surrounding areas.

HB: What was “the ritual” that they keep referencing in the film?

JMG: I wanted that to be on purpose, the sort of sense of lack of information that you have, in part because in Mexico, there are many people who are Catholic, or claim to be Catholic, but they don’t really know very much about the nature of the rituals that they perform, the background of the rituals, they just say they’re Catholic, and that’s it. So, in the same vein, I wanted the characters in my film to feel that they are performing, or have to perform a ritual, but they really don’t have a lot of information as to what they actually have to do, or anything behind it. So, first, I actually wrote out, in the screenplay, a very detailed scene with the ritual, explaining what all the details meant, but I never told the actors anything about it. I wanted them to sort of be lost when it came time for them to actually perform this ritual.

We Are What We Are (review here) is available now on IFC Midnight’s video on demand platform, available to over 50 million homes in all major markets.

Jorge Micheal Grau Talks We Are What We Are

Heather Buckley

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Danielle Harris Tried to Get Jamie Lloyd into New Halloween Movie

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One of the top films all of us are looking forward to the most here at Dread Central is Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel/reboot thing to John Carpenter’s Halloween.

The new Halloween (2018) film is written by Danny McBride and David Gordon Green and is all set to be directed by Green this year. Recently we learned that original Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis was going to be returning to the new film.

Not only that, but Curtis’ classic character Laurie Strode would have a daughter… played by Judy Greer. But what about Danielle Harris?

After all, Harris was the star of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Curse of Michael Myers. Let alone, she had a starring role in both Rob Zombie’s remake and it’s sequel. So how about the new film?

Turns out Harris tried to get her character Jamie Llyod (aka the daughter of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode) from Halloween 4 and 5 into the new film… but she was turned down by Blumhouse and the new creative team. That sucks.

Harris was pretty bummed about the whole deal and took to Facebook recently to clear the air. You can check out quotes from her video, along with the video itself, below.

After that make sure to hit us up and let us know how much you would have liked to see Harris return to Halloween in the comments below or on social media!

“What I am bummed about is… [Laurie] has a daughter,” Harris says. “I was okay with it when she had a son… but they’re saying it’s the last one and… she has a daughter. And it’s not Jamie. It’s just kind of a bummer, I guess. I think somebody had said, it wouldn’t have hurt the movie to have Jamie reunited with [Laurie]. But that didn’t happen.”

“We did put in a call, thought it’d be kinda cool even just to have a little flashback…” She continues. “They were not interested. So. I tried.”

Blumhouse’s Halloween hits theaters October 19, 2018.

halloween and germany

Posted by Danielle Harris on Monday, November 6, 2017

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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Jordan Peele Is Open to the Idea of Get Out Sequel

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Recently we shared the baffling news that this year, the Golden Globes were considering writer-director Jordan Peele’s psychological horror-thriller Get Out a comedy.

Hurm. While that bit of news still doesn’t make a bit of sense to me, today we have an update on Jordan Peele’s possible sequel Get Out 2. Which is always welcome.

Deadline was recently speaking with the filmmaker and Peele told them that although he still hasn’t cracked the sequel, if he comes up with a fresh spin he would have no problem revisiting the first film.

“I haven’t decided anything yet,” Peele told the site. “I am allowing the creative part to bubble up, and not force it. I know if a follow-up is meant to happen, it will. I’m open to figuring out what it is. But I also don’t want to let down the original and its fans. I simply would not do something like that for the cash.”

Good to hear!

I don’t know about you, but if Jordan Peele does decide to revisit the world of Get Out again in the future, I will be there. After reading these comments, I have faith the man will not return unless the story deserves it. Money be damned!

Unless… the sequel is called Sell Out… Ooohh. Snap. All jokes aside, in this world of sequels and remakes, it feels pretty damn good to hear a filmmaker talk this way.

What do you think of a Get Out sequel? Do you think the first film needs a continuation? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

You can buy Get Out on Blu-ray HERE.

Synopsis:

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

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