Indie Horror Month - Exclusive: Scott Leberecht and Matt Compton Talk Midnight Son - Dread Central
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Indie Horror Month – Exclusive: Scott Leberecht and Matt Compton Talk Midnight Son

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Before writer/director Scott Leberecht embarked on the sometimes difficult journey making his latest film Midnight Son (review here), he was working as a visual effects artist for Industrial Light & Magic. He said it was while he was still working for the prestigious company when the inspiration for his twist on modern vampires struck.

“I actually had the idea for Midnight Son percolating for a few years before I wrote the script,” explained Leberecht. “I got the inspiration for the story from when I was working up in San Francisco for ILM. There was this one house on a corner I would pass all the time that had all the windows blocked out, and there were handmade paintings in the windows. I can vividly remember just standing there, staring at this house, and found the idea of someone living like that so fascinating – like there was someone inside that house that wanted so badly to connect to the outside world but just was unable to do so for some reason. And that’s the world I created for Jacob in Midnight Son.”

As a storyteller, Leberecht didn’t want his take on vampires to be like anything fans have been exposed to over the last several years, especially with the growing popularity of the bloodsucker culture due to the success of projects like Twilight or “True Blood.” “From the start, I always wanted to take the realistic approach with Midnight Son and make audiences understand that there’s nothing glamorous about being a vampire when you think about it. You can’t go outside during most normal hours, you have to drink blood to survive, and if you’re a good person, how do you get that blood? These are the struggles I wanted Jacob to face.”

“It was important to me for audiences to see just how isolating it could be when you treat vampirism like a congenital disease. Midnight Son is about Jacob’s fight against this disease he’s had his entire life but is only now starting to manifest in some pretty big ways. We see him struggle with his own humanity as he comes to terms with what he’s becoming, and we watch him make some pretty devastating choices as he keeps getting pushed along this dark path,” Leberecht added.

Indie Horror Month - Exclusive: Scott Leberecht and Matt Compton Talk Midnight Son

For producer Matt Compton Midnight Son was a story he immediately recognized as unlike anything going on in the horror genre at the time. “When I first read the script, I knew there was something so amazing and unique about Scott’s story so I knew I had to get on board to help get this movie to the finish line. Scott had such an enthusiasm for the story, which is why I think we all went above and beyond to make sure we got to this point of getting the movie out there for audiences. That enthusiasm was almost infectious.”

Compton pointed out that even though Leberecht was adamant about making something “new” in the world of the night stalkers, the writer/director also saw the importance of paying homage to the classic vampire tales as well, which is part of the reason behind Midnight Son’s homage to Tom Holland’s 1985 classic Fright Night.

“The homage to Fright Night was definitely Scott’s idea,” explained Compton. “He shot the footage without knowing if we could get the rights. I guess he just trusted in his intention. The first time we asked, we got quoted a huge rate, not even in the realm of possibility. So we had to go back and literally beg as fans, and everyone was kind enough to lower it down to something that was feasible for our budget. I know Scott was thrilled it worked out, especially since the movie is a classic and a favorite of all of ours.”

When it came time for Leberecht to find his lead actor, he had no idea that Jacob would actually come looking for him in the form of actor Zak Kilberg. Kilberg, who had heard from a friend about the up-and-coming director’s project, contacted him without reading one single script page and told him he had to be in this movie. That kind of enthusiasm left an impression on Leberecht.

“When Zak first contacted me about the movie, it’s almost like I knew he was going to be Jacob even at that point. I still had him send over his photo, his reel, and a video audition just so I could get a better sense of him as an actor; and they all just blew me away. He was Jacob, and the first time we met in person, I gave him the role, which was completely a gut decision by me. Zak just understood what I was going for from the start and was so great to work with in developing this role. My gut just knew he had the talent to pull off the performance I wanted for Jacob, and he never let me down,” said Leberecht.

While the first-time feature filmmaker said he was expecting a lot of pressure when it came time to make Midnight Son in 2008, he said he had no idea just what was going to be in store for him, and part of the reason for the film’s completion is an amazing producing team that had aligned for the project.

“There’s definitely a different kind of pressure as a filmmaker once you start spending other people’s money,” explained Leberecht. “You don’t get the luxury of experimenting when you have people investing in your idea so you have to know what you want as a filmmaker. I was lucky I had such a great team in place – Kevin McCorkle, who plays Dr. Barnes, came onto the project early on as an investor and got the ball rolling. His enthusiasm from the start was integral to the film’s success. Maya (Parish), who I met in film school, came on as both an actress and as a producer and has been such a huge part of Midnight Son from beginning to end. Then there’s Matt. I’m telling you; the hours that guy has put into this film, not to mention his unwavering patience and devotion, have taught me a lot about how to roll with the seemingly never-ending indie filmmaking punches.”

Leberecht went on to discuss how a modern indie horror pioneer was another driving force behind Midnight Son’s completion. “Another huge person behind Midnight Son was Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project). We had spent our entire budget on the shoot and had no money left for post production because some of the money we were expecting to come through didn’t when the 2008 economy tanked. We were absolutely screwed.”

“Then David C. Hughes, our Sound Designer, called and told me that he was working with Ed on Seventh Moon. He told Ed about Midnight Son, and Ed emailed me, asking to see some footage. I sent him some raw footage, and he asked to read the screenplay. Once he did, he said he wanted to come on board as an executive producer. He was able to raise a ton of money and was nothing less than a mentor during the editing process. He worked his tail off, tirelessly watching cut after cut of scene after scene and giving me great notes the whole way through. Again, I consider him a true creative collaborator and guide through the entire post production. This film would not be what it is if it weren’t for him,” Leberecht added.

Now with Midnight Son’s world premiere just a few short hours away, the first-time feature director was honest enough to admit he does have a small case of jitters going into tonight’s bow at the Cinequest Film Festival “Honestly, I’m really quite nervous about the premiere. We’ve never screened the movie for the public so Cinequest will be the first real test. I just hope audiences will respond positively to the story of Midnight Son. I feel so grateful to have gotten to this point, and I know that the reason we’re here talking about this movie now is due to the tireless efforts of every single person involved in making Midnight Son happen.”

For more visit the official Midnight Son website, befriend Midnight Son on Facebook, and follow Midnight Son on Twitter!


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Indie Horror Month - Exclusive: Scott Leberecht and Matt Compton Talk Midnight Son

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Three 1970’s Horrors That Remind Us Why We Enjoy Getting Mental at the Movies

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Crazy is always creepy in horror movies, and it usually comes in two forms: insane escapees or the sane among the crazies.

It’s one storytelling technique when a mental patient escapes and enters our own ordered, peaceful world. It’s quite another when a film drops us in the middle of an asylum to cope with crazy people who, in those movies, always seem to want to stab us.

First off, let me say the mentally ill are one of the most misunderstood and scapegoated minorities in movie history. Other stereotypes have disappeared from the silver screen over the years, but it’s still convenient to blame a killing rampage on an escaped mental patient. We’ll just chalk this up to lazy writing and move on.

Yes, “mentally ill” has become shorthand for “bloodthirsty and lacking in social etiquette.” Kudos to “American Horror Story’s” second season, subtitled “Asylum,” for adding some subtlety to that convention. Seventies horror movies, though, were riddled with stereotypes, enough so that when we travel back to that groovy and dangerous time, we can merrily ignore them and enjoy the scare.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) is a fairly standard who-is-the-killer flick that turns terrifying in the last 20 minutes, when all hell breaks loose and the inmates, quite literally, take over the asylum. There is a nice, icy buildup throughout.

The populace of a small town are suspiciously nervous when a local mansion that had once been a mental institution goes up for sale. Mary Woronov (Eating Raoul) plays it numbingly cool throughout, until the climax, adding punch to the big reveals.

Also known by Night of the Dark Full Moon and Death House, this film is directed by Theodore Gershuny and written by Gershuny, Jeffrey Konvitz and Ira Teller. It’s always a good sign for consistency of vision when the director is also a writer.

I don’t know a lot of people raving about this film. It’s certainly not perfect, but a solid effort in that ’70s B-movie category, seriously creepy, and worth watching. Recommended.

Asylum (1972) has everything I enjoy about well-done, early ’70s horror: a fairly simple premise, creepy sets, and solid acting. The anthology setup works well here, stringing four Robert Bloch stories together. Peter Cushing and Herbert Lom show up along with Britt Ekland and Barbara Parkins.

The effects are not at all bad. Hope you view a cut of this movie that shows a stagehand rather obviously moving a prop in the “Frozen Fear” segment because those kinds of mistakes are fun to see.

Directed by Roy Ward Baker, Asylum delivers like any of the Amicus horror movies: similar to Hammer in that you know you will be entertained. Recommended for classic pre-slasher horror movie fans.

Then there’s Don’t Look in the Basement (1973). I was smart enough to see this in a theater when it came out… but dumb enough to bring a date. What a terrible first date movie!

On the other hand, Don’t Look in the Basement is a very creepy horror film due to several elements that come together beautifully:

– First, it has that grainy, cheap look to it like many early ’70s B-movies that, for me, adds to the mood. That look tells me positively this is not a big studio production. “Oh, this is one of THOSE movies,” says my head. “Anything can happen!” Tension builds.

– Second, it has an obviousness to it that can be unnerving when filmed correctly. Hitchcock used to do this well: We in the audience know the danger, but the hero on screen is completely clueless. We know from the minute the blonde nurse accepts her new job she shouldn’t be there — heck, we knew she shouldn’t even have come into the house!

– Third, most all of the characters may be insane, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own distinct stories, personalities and phobias. Crazy is not random. As Grant Morrison wrote in Batman: Arkham Asylum, the thoughts of the insane are not unpatterned. Each person has his or her own complex view of reality, no matter how wrong that perception might be.

There’s also a good deal of blood. And a surprise reveal. Don’t Look in the Basement has been recognized as a B-movie classic, and I enthusiastically recommend it here.

Three 1972 to 1973 horror movies and all three recommended! You may or may not disagree, and if so, I want to hear why! What are your favorite asylum flicks? Comment below or on social media.

Gary Scott Beatty’s graphic novel Wounds is available on Amazon and Comixology. Is madness a way to survive the zombie apocalypse? The strangest zombie story ever written, Wounds throws us into a world where nothing is beyond doubt, except a father’s concern for his wife and daughter. If you enjoy that “What th-?” factor in graphic novels, you’ll enjoy Wounds.

For more from Gary Scott Beatty, visit him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Samuel L. Jackson Wraps on M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass

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That was fast. It was just two weeks ago that we shared your first on-set look at Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass in M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming Unbreakable/Split sequel, and today we have news that Jackson has wrapped his role.

The update comes to us directly from Shyamalan himself who took to Twitter to let us all know that not only has Sam Jackson wrapped his role in Glass, but there is only one week left of filming overall.

Here is his tweet:

Does this mean the crew has gathered up enough footage to give us all a teaser trailer in the near future? I would think so, so let’s not be too surprised if that’s just what we get before the end of the year.

Fingers crossed.

The film is written & directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Anya-Taylor Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, and Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass.

Glass hits theaters January 18, 2019.

Synopsis:

Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

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Short Film: Tony Morales’ Hada Will Creep You Out

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Here at Dread Central, we are always on the lookout to peep and share cool new horror shorts from around the web. Case in point, director Tony Morales’ Hada.

The short film was selected for 260 festivals and received 50 awards, and you can now check it out in its entirety below.

I watched it this past weekend and there were more than a few shots contained within that chilled my bones. All about those feet moving up onto the bed. Brr. That’s all I’ll say.

Actually, I’ll say a (tiny) bit more: Someone needs to give Morales a shot at one of the new Conjuring-universe films. I think he’d knock it out of the park.

Watch the flick and you’ll see what I mean.

Again, you can check out the short below and then after giving the film a viewing, make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below!

You can become a fan of the short film on Facebook HERE.

Synopsis:

Tonight Hada comes to visit Daniel because his last child tooth has fallen out. What Daniel doesn´t expect is that his worst enemy is the light.

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