Director Gary Sherman Walks Us Along The Death Line - Dread Central
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Director Gary Sherman Walks Us Along The Death Line

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Death Line

If you know the name Gary Sherman, then you’re definitely familiar with the man’s work over the years in the horror genre, especially with titles such as Dead & Buried and Poltergeist III under his worklist, but think way back to 1972 – anything ringing a bell? How about that well-known British shocker known as Death Line (Raw Meat for us here in the States).

If you aren’t up to speed on this one – first of all, shame on you, and secondly, get ready to have your mind blown when the cannibalistic chiller gets the Blu-ray restoration treatment and becomes available for fans from Blue Underground on June 27th. Jammed with bonus features aplenty, this release promises to get the horror fanbase all lathered up in a bloody mess!

Mr. Sherman was gracious enough to spend a few minutes discussing the film and what he’s got coming up next, so settle in, read on and enjoy!

DC: How did you feel when you were approached with the news that your film would be restored after all this time?

GS: Well, it wasn’t like I was approached – I actually had a lot to do with it. We’ve been following getting back the rights to Death Line from day one, and the moment that MGM’s contract lapsed Jay Canter and I jumped in there to see exactly what the rights were going to be, and we then got together with Alexander Byrne – the grandson of the person who originally put up the money for the picture 45 years ago, and I knew that Bill Lustig was interested, so I called him to see if he’d like it, and his response was “like it? I’d love it!” He asked me where the original negative was because he wanted to scan the original, and I was into it, so I contacted William Fowler at the BFI, who is the head curator at the archives, and he was really excited telling me “Death Line is one of my favorite pictures!” So he started looking, and it was like a Dick Tracy detective novel – along the way we actually located the actual camera negative, which was in a vault at ITV, so we found all the original sound elements. The negative ended up going to Deluxe in London, and we tried a 4K scan, and it looked awful because the original was shot in 52/47, which is a very grainy stock as compared to today’s stock. So when you do a 4K scan of something like that, it was interpolating grain structure and it looked awful, so we went with a 2K scan and it was perfect – exactly like the original print. I own the original technicolor answer print, which the color is as perfect today as is it was 45 years ago, so we matched the two prints together, and in a couple of cases actually improved upon it. We basically created a DCP that rivals when this film actually premiered in London in 1972. When Bill and I sat down and watched the DCP I was blown away, and felt like I was transported back 45 years ago. We then remixed the sound, and we stayed away from stereo because it wasn’t made in stereo, and it shouldn’t be that way now, so we created a monaural mix that’s exactly the same, if not a little bit better than the original.

DC: Was this a brand new commentary that was recorded for the special features?

GS: Yes – I got together with my first assistant director (Lewis More O’Ferrall), and he was in London and I in Los Angeles with Paul Mazlansky in screening rooms that were hooked up together, and the three of us just had this wonderful conversation while the film was running, and it’s a really fun commentary.

DC: Take us back to 1972 – what inspired you to come up with the story of Death Line?

GS: My brain (laughs) – I had moved to London in 1968 following the convention in Chicago – I had to get out of here, as I was not going to live here with Richard Nixon as President, and my mother was British so it was an easy choice for me to go to England and get a green card. So I went there to do commercials and had quite a successful commercial career going for myself, and everyone was telling me to do a feature – then they were saying to write a script, and I knew John Daly at Hemdale and a few other people, and my producer who worked with me on commercials at the time was the same age as me, and his name was Johnathan Demme (laughs), and it was way before he ever thought about directing, and he sold me. Someone finally said to me “write a horror film” – and I’m a dyed in the wool researcher – I love to research stuff, and when I first researched The Tube in London I found out that it started off as a competition, and lots of people got killed – there really were cave-ins where they couldn’t get the bodies out, and this was all in my brain. I then read a story about Sawney Bean, who was a Scottish highwayman who became so notorious that the price on his head got so high that he couldn’t afford to be seen again, so in order to survive they began to start eating their victims. I found that to be interesting, so I decided to combine the stories and throw a little Donner pass in there and came up with the idea for the story. So when I was filming a Proctor & Gamble commercial, I wrote the script and gave it to Johnathan, and he really liked it. Johnathan then gave it to Paul Mazlansky, and it got passed to a few other people, and the decision was made to make the script.

DC: What was it like to work with names such as Donald Pleasence and Christopher Lee?

GS: It was scary (laughs) – I was this young twenty-something, who outside of my documentaries and music films had never done anything over sixty seconds, and here I am with Donald Pleasence, Norman Rossington, Christopher Lee, Clive Swift and all these amazing British actors, and it was nerve-wracking. When Ceri Jones and I wrote the script, we originally did it with Donald in mind, and at that time, he was the actor’s actor. He’d never done any kind of low-budget or horror film, and at the time he was doing “Man In The Glass Booth” on Broadway, and people had told me that he really wanted to do a comedy, and we had said that while Death Line wasn’t a comedy, the inspector Calhoun character definitely was comedic, and we’d had the idea with contrasting the idea of the comedy up above with the seriousness down below. So, he read the script and said that he’d always wanted to make a movie like this, and once we had Donald everyone else called us. Christopher Lee did it based on the promise that he wouldn’t have to wear fangs, and that he would have a one-on-one scene with Donald. Paul told Christopher that our whole budget is less than you make for a whole picture, and he told Paul that he was doing it for scale and to get to work with Donald. Norman Rossington’s agent then called and said that he wanted to play in the film with Donald as well, and it was the same with everyone else. Clive Swift had just done Frenzy with Alfred Hitchcock, and the entire process was unbelievable. Donald tested me the first day, and once I passed his test, then we all felt better.

DC: You’ve split a lot of time between film and TV, with horror as your main focal point – where do you see the direction of the genre heading, what do you see as the biggest thing it’s lacking at this stage?

GS: No, I think it’s better than it’s ever been – for one of the reasons why I left horror when I did was because as Rodney Dangerfield said, “It got no respect!” (laughs) I made Death Line, which is sort of heralded as a classic, then AIP (American International Pictures) took it and turned it into shit. They did an advertising campaign that had absolutely nothing to do with the movie, and renamed it Raw Meat, then cut the shit out of it. I said that if this is what they’re going to do to my films, then I don’t want to make movies.

DC: What was your initial reaction when you’d found out that the title had been changed?

GS: I hated it, and fortunately Robin Wood wrote an article that he called “Butchered” which was regarding the whole name change, and he said not to go see this movie – wait until you can actually see the original. Unfortunately it took close to 45 years before the American audience could see it – in Europe, the film’s been playing for years, and up until 2003 people could only get pirated copies of VHS, then with the inclusion of the internet it could be watched online, but they were shitty prints, but people were watching it. In 2003 MGM got the rights because they inherited the AIP library, and released a DVD, which was awful. It looked like a third-generation interpositive that they made a scan from, muddy as hell. Samuel Z. Arkoff, the head of AIP pictures, was in London and wanted me to come in for a meeting, and I absolutely hated it -hated the meeting, hated him, and they wanted me to come to L.A. to do more pictures for them and I told them “no thank you.”

DC: Lastly, what can fans look forward to seeing from you down the road – working on anything currently?

GS: Suddenly, with the re-emergence of Death Line, Blue Underground is starting to put together a restoration of Dead & Buried, because the last Blu-ray we did was from a scan about 10 years ago that was an internegative , and hopefully it will be done with Vice Squad. With all of that going on, there are some people who are talking to me about wanting me to make a comeback into the horror genre, and due to guys like Johnathan Blum, there’s a whole new respect for the horror genre that didn’t exist before, and I’m ready and willing to jump back into it. In the meantime I’ve been doing documentaries for the last 10 years, doing “The First 48: Missing Persons” on A&E – that lasted for 3 and a half years. I’m also involved in the filming of a documentary about the rehabilitation project that’s happening at Cook County Jail, where inmates are being taught the culinary arts – it’s called Recipe for Change and it’s to watch guys change…it’s incredible. We’re aiming at either a feature-length documentary or the possibility of it going to series on PBS. There’s also something that I can’t talk about yet (laughs), but there may be an announcement soon, and it has to do with television.

A special screening of Death Line will be happening on June 20th in NYC.

Death Line

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Amazon Developing Stephen King’s The Dark Tower TV Series

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The Dark TowerIt’s been a while since we brought you guys an update on the planned TV series based on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower book series.

But today it looks like we have confirmation via Deadline that, “Amazon… is developing a slew of high-profile titles, including The Dark Tower…”

The series is being developed by Amazon as part of their bid to move into bigger budgeted spectacles ala their recent acquisition of the rights to The Lord of the Rings.

No further info is available at this time but we will keep you up to date as we hear word on Amazon’s “The Dark Tower.”

Are you excited about this series? Let us know below!

Synopsis:

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), also known as the Man in Black. The Gunslinger must prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together. With the fate of worlds at stake, two men collide in the ultimate battle between good and evil.

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Rutger Hauer Says There Was No Love and No Soul in Blade Runner 2049

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I don’t know about you, but I dug the hell out of last summer’s Blade Runner 2049. I found the film to be a tonally perfect addition to the Blade Runner universe and appreciated how it built on the story established in the original film.

That said, there are some out there that aren’t fans of the sequel – most of all, it seems, is the original film’s baddie, Rutger Hauer.

Recently, Hauer spoke with THR and didn’t hold back on his dislike of the new film.

“I sniff and scratch at it,” Hauer says. “It looks great, but I struggle to see why that film was necessary. I just think if something is so beautiful, you should just leave it alone and make another film. Don’t lean with one elbow on the success that was earned over 30 years in the underground.”

He continues: “In many ways Blade Runner wasn’t about the replicants; it was about what does it mean to be human? It’s like E.T. But I’m not certain what the question was in the second Blade Runner. It’s not a character-driven movie and there’s no humor, there’s no love, there’s no soul. You can see the homage to the original. But that’s not enough to me. I knew that wasn’t going to work. But I think it’s not important what I think.”

Wow, don’t hold back, Hauer. Tell us how you really feel!

I’m kidding. And while I don’t agree with Hauer on this particular issue, the man has more than earned the right to think it IS “important what [he] thinks.

Do you agree with Rutger Hauer on Blade Runner 2049? Let us know below!

Synopsis:
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

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Ash vs Evil Dead Set Visit Part 2: Learning About Kelly, Pablo, and Brandy

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If you haven’t read through the first part of my set visit for the third season of “Ash vs Evil Dead”, make sure to do so here.

After walking through the halls of Brandy’s high school, the sperm bank clinic that has been seen in the trailer, Brock’s house, and the streets of Elk Grove (all through the magic of set designs), it was time to sit down with stars Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago, who told me about their characters Kelly and Pablo through this season of “Ash vs Evil Dead”! Oh, and there’s also a lot from Arielle Carver-O’Neill about her character Brandy as well, because who can resist hearing from Ash’s daughter?

After finding out that Dana, who is from Youngstown, Ohio, is a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, our interview nearly ended. After all, your boy is a Wolverine, through and through, and anyone who knows sports rivalries knows that Buckeyes and Wolverines don’t get along. That being said, we managed to put aside our differences so that I could learn a bit about Kelly and what she’ll be going through this season.

I really loved Kelly’s journey in season one and two. It was very exciting to play because, in a way, it mirrored my own as an actor coming into a franchise like this. Just like Kelly was dragged into this fight against evil and was caught completely off guard, it was very similar to the actor struggling for 10 years. I was living in Los Angeles working at a bar when I got this job. All of a sudden I’m being thrown into this with this incredible franchise, with the amazing producers of Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, where a franchise that’s built upon one man, a lone wolf as we’ve said, who is the star of this show and now he’s going to have sidekicks, that was terrifying as well! But it was really cool because I feel like I got to grow with Kelly and every time Kelly did something new, it was me doing something new,” DeLorenzo explains.

Expanding on that, DeLorenzo starts telling me more about Kelly and how she specifically changes through the upcoming season, saying, “At the end of season two, there’s the parade. And if you look, you can see that Kelly isn’t happy. Kelly is the smart one of that trifecta, the ghostbeaters. She knows that evil is not gone for good, which brings us to season three. Now that she’s tasted blood, she’s constantly chasing that high. So, at the start of season three, Kelly is a warrior without a war. She wants to stay on her game for when evil comes back. Her journey for season three…evil paints Kelly in a bloody corner and sets up her to fail where she can’t do what she does best, which is kick evil’s ass. She’s put in these catch-22 situations that she can’t fight her way out of without someone she cares about getting hurt. I think fans will be shocked at her transformation [this season].”

The theme of family running throughout this season of the show is not lost on DeLorenzo, who recognizes that Kelly’s ultimate purpose throughout this series is called into question through events that she wasn’t able to elaborate upon. However, she did tell me, “It was always about protecting and staying by the side of Ash and Pablo because they are not her family by blood but they are her family by bloodshed.

When describing the ghostbeaters, she calls Ash the “brawn”, Pablo the “heart”, and Kelly the “brains”. Later, as I sat with Arielle Carver-O’Neill, I asked what Brandy represents, to which she stated, “the hope”. “They all become very protective of Brandy and are very supportive of her journey,” Carver-O’Neill explains.

I asked her to envision a world where a fourth season is confirmed and how she’d like to see Brandy’s role expanded. Pondering this for a couple of moments, she then told me, “I’d like to see her find herself a bit more. I think just because she’s a teenager, you go through that journey at that age where you are figuring out who you are and your parents, either consciously or unconsciously, play a large role in that. For her, she only had her mum and then she found parts of herself in her dad. But she’s got a lot of growing up to do and I think that’d be really fun to explore how she goes about that.

For Santiago, the character and evolution of Pablo throughout the series has a very personal meaning for him. “As a kid, I grew up watching horror films and I always wanted to be the hero saving people from the monster and I always wanted to be the person chased by the monster. I think, in this show, I have the opportunity do that every day as Pablo and I’m one step closer to becoming the superhero I wanted to be as a kid,” he states.

As for his evolution, Santiago sees Pablo as going from a pushover in the first season to someone very important and potentially very powerful in the third season. “We’ve seen Pablo go from this naive guy [in the first season] that’s pushed through the ringer to last season and…the Necronomicon and Pablo have an undeniable relationship that will never end. As we move into this third season, Pablo sees things differently. He’s not just tormented by his visions of darkness, we see that he may not be just a sidekick but also psychic! We’re going back to his family and we callback to his roots. Perhaps it wasn’t just a coincidence that he met Ash and that he himself was always destined to be somewhat of a Jefé. I think season three is where we see all that coming to fruition. He’s not just along for the ride, he’s become an integral part of the team.

Part III of our set visit coming soon!

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