AMC Developing Shock Theatre, Wicked West, Underbelly, Eli Roth’s History of Horror, Ballad of Black Tom, and More - Dread Central
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AMC Developing Shock Theatre, Wicked West, Underbelly, Eli Roth’s History of Horror, Ballad of Black Tom, and More

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If you’re a follower of TV news, you’re well aware that the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour is in full swing; and AMC definitely brought a boatload of announcements to the event. The network has a slew of new projects in development, and most fall on the horror or sci-fi side of the fence.

We have all the details right here – check ’em out, and let us know what show sounds most intriguing to you!

From the Press Release:
AMC announced a current slate of select scripted and non-fiction projects in various stages of development for 2018 and beyond. New projects include many from existing AMC creative partners like “Better Call Saul” producers Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment; “Talking Dead” host Chris Hardwick’s production company Fish Ladder; and “The Walking Dead” executive producer, director, and special FX make-up designer Greg Nicotero, among others.

“We are at our best when we bet on and support exceptional talent; and this diverse development slate, from exceptional creators with distinct points of view, includes multiple projects from longstanding and successful AMC partners,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV, and AMC Studios. “Our deep pipeline of projects embodies our ‘eclectic by design,’ quality programming approach and our ‘scripts-to-series’ development model that puts the emphasis on the most important part of our strategy – outstanding writing, a commitment to worlds you’ve never seen on TV before, and rich character development.”

AMC’s upcoming development slate includes:

“Shock Theatre”
Greg Nicotero, director and executive producer
Matt Lambert, executive producer
Gail Berman, executive producer
Joe Earley, executive producer
A Jackal Group Production

Description: An anthology wherein each episode will be a brand-new sci-fi horror tale in the style of the B-movie classics.

“Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor LaValle
Victor LaValle, co-executive producer
Based on the novella “The Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor LaValle

Description: Tommy Tester is a street musician and hustler in jazz age New York who works odd jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over his father’s head. But when he delivers an occult object to a reclusive sorceress, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic and becomes caught up in a Lovecraftian conspiracy to conjure the destruction of the world.

“Wicked West” (Non-Fiction)
Producing Studio: Blumhouse Television (Jason Blum, Jeremy Gold, Marci Wiseman)

Description: Non-fiction horror anthology produced by Blumhouse Television (Get Out, “The Jinx,” Split), “Wicked West” uncovers the most frightening and disturbing tales from the Wild West. And they’re all true. “Wicked West” utilizes Blumhouse’s chilling cinematic style on this weekly series, telling stories of sadistic serial killers, murderous black widows, bloodthirsty family clans, and local legends laced with the supernatural. With a tense horror, modern cinematic style, “Wicked West” brings a haunting approach to the untold stories of the bloodbath known as the American West.

“Underbelly” by Dan Connolly
Dan Connolly, executive producer
A Fish Ladder Production (Chris Hardwick, Mike Clements)

Description: A deep dive into the dark-side of pop culture. Using the lens of the horror genre, this anthology explores storylines related to the fan experience, celebrity, greed, alienation, obsession, and vanity. The sensibility of the series is darkly funny, shocking, subversive, and trippy. If pop culture is a kind of new religion, this show is the deranged heretic who interrupts the service and gets thrown out.

“Liking What You See” by Eric Heisserer
Eric Heisserer, executive producer
Ted Chiang, consultant
A Chernin Entertainment Production
Based on Ted Chiang’s short story “Liking What You See”

Description: Set in a near future saturated with advertising and media images of beauty, the exception being the community of Saybrook, whose residents have all voluntarily adopted calliagnosia, a reversible, non-invasive procedure that eliminates their ability to perceive beauty. Once you have calliagnosia, no one looks prettier or uglier than anyone else; the people of Saybrook judge each other purely on their merits. But is this something the rest of the world is ready for?

“The Age of Miracles” by Sinead Daly
Sinead Daly, executive producer
Karen Thompson Walker, Consultant
A 21 Laps Production

Description: Julia’s world is shifted, literally, when a shocking fact is made public: Earth’s rotation is suddenly, dramatically and inexplicably slowing down. As the days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, and people start falling sick to a mysterious new illness. Julia is also forced to cope with the normal disasters of everyday life as her parents’ marriage falls apart and she struggles with lost friends and first love.

“Untitled Rainn Wilson Project”
Rainn Wilson, executive producer, actor
Naomi Odenkirk, executive producer
Marc Provissiero, executive producer
A Odenkirk Provissiero Production

Description: A one-hour scripted series that follows an alien entity which takes over the body of a poly-addicted, middle-aged man living in the San Fernando Valley.

Along with these horror/sci-fi projects, “Fear the Walking Dead’s” Colman Domingo is exec producer on “In the Middle of the Street,” inspired by his critically acclaimed play Dot, in which a family in fading West Philadelphia must confront old secrets in order to face the challenges of their present. Themes explored include aging parents, marriage, sexuality, and politics, tinged with humor and joy.

In addition, the network is expanding its docuseries “AMC Visionaries,” and Eli Roth is helping them do so!

From the Press Release:
AMC announced that it will be producing a year-round documentary series “AMC Visionaries,” partnering with prolific artists to unveil the untold stories and fascinating histories of pop culture genres from the masters themselves. One new installment under the “AMC Visionaries” umbrella is “AMC Visionaries: Eli Roth’s History of Horror” (working title) to be executive produced by award-winning horror film director, writer, producer, and actor Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel). “AMC Visionaries: Eli Roth’s History of Horror” will be produced through Asylum Entertainment and Marwar Junction Productions.

Previously announced series now falling under the “AMC Visionaries” banner include “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics,” featuring interviews with Stan Lee, Patty Jenkins, Lynda Carter, Kevin Smith, Famke Janssen, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Rodriguez, and Todd McFarlane, among others, and “AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction,” featuring interviews with Paul W. Anderson, Roland Emmerich, Paul Verhoeven, Bryan Singer, Keanu Reeves, and Jonathan Nolan, among others.

“AMC Visionaries: Eli Roth’s History of Horror” brings together the masters of horror – the storytellers and stars who define the genre – to explore its biggest themes and reveal the inspirations and struggles behind its past and present. Each one-hour episode will take viewers on a chilling exploration of how horror has evolved through the eras and impacted society as well as why such a loyal fan base continues to be addicted to fear.

“‘AMC Visionaries’ is all about going deep into areas of fan passion,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV, and AMC Studios. “In addition to Robert Kirkman on comics or James Cameron on sci-fi, that AMC is going to be the home of Eli Roth’s deep dive into horror makes perfect sense given our decades-long commitment to the genre. He’ll shed light on the stories and storytellers that keep us up at night… We’re all in and excited for these leaders to share their vision.”

“I’m thrilled to be part of this incredible series. For years, I’ve wanted to create a definitive ‘History of Horror,’ a living record of the genre with interviews from all the greats, old and new,” said Roth. “Sadly, we lose more of these masters every year, and with them go their stories and experiences. This show will serve as a record for future generations – fans and filmmakers alike – to enjoy. I could not be prouder to create this with AMC.”

“AMC: Visionaries: Eli Roth’s History of Horror” is produced by Asylum Entertainment (ESPN’s “30 For 30,” Nat Geo’s “Breakthrough”) and Marwar Junction Productions (A&E’s “Autobiography,” Lifetime’s “I Am Elizabeth Smart”). Executive producers are Eli Roth, Steven Michaels, Jonathan Koch, Joseph Freed, and Allison Berkley.

In addition, the following “AMC Visionaries” projects are currently in development: “AMC Visionaries: Rap Yearbook” (working title), “AMC Visionaries: History of Video Games,” and “AMC Visionaries: Outlaws of the Internet.”

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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John Carpenter … NOT DEAD!

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We currently live in a world of false alarms. Within the last several days we’ve suffered everything from warnings of doomsday to Rotten Tomatoes accidentally celebrating the passing(!) and career of the very much still alive John Carpenter.

That’s right, kids; earlier today RT tweeted, “John Carpenter would have been 70 years old today! We celebrate his birthday by looking back at his five favorite films.” The tweet… has since been deleted.

We are here to tell you… John is very much alive! Alive and well, even. Carpenter himself responded on Twitter by alerting the site that “despite how it appears, I’m actually not dead.

This is great news indeed. One of horror’s best and brightest is still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now then, let’s take this time to celebrate the man’s birthday PROPERLY by talking about our favorite films of his. Speaking personally for myself…

Prince of Darkness is a movie that both unnerves and scares the hell out of me. One of Carpenter’s most thought-provoking works is just as frightening now as it was when we first received that grainy transmission as a dream from the year…

Tell us your favorite Carpenter movie in our comments section below.

…and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN!

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