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Exclusive: Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer Talk Drive Angry

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If you happened to miss Drive Angry 3D when it hit theaters this past February, now you’ll have an opportunity to right that wrong as the explosive flick is finally hitting DVD and Blu-ray shelves on Tuesday, May 31st.

In anticipation of its home release, Dread Central recently caught up with the two masterminds behind all of Drive Angry 3D’s mayhem – writer Todd Farmer as well as director and co-writer Patrick Lussier – to talk about assembling one of the most entertaining but eclectic casts in recent memory, the state of 3D filmmaking and whether or not they have plans for a Drive Angry sequel.

Farmer, who also previously collaborated with Lussier on the 2009 remake My Bloody Valentine 3D, discussed where the inspiration behind stemmed from and how the story evolved from the beginning. “The basic idea we had when we first started writing Drive Angry was a guy who escaped from prison on a mission. Then we started to toy with the idea that he could escape from hell, which is another kind of prison, even though we never come out and say it in the movie. As we started putting the pieces together, though, we knew we wanted to take the idea just a step further than just Milton escaping from an ordinary prison, and I think that him coming from another realm really worked in Drive Angry.”

Lussier went on to discuss the supernatural elements of Drive Angry (Blu-ray / DVD review here) and how Farmer fleshed out the story so that fans would be getting more than just insane action sequences.

“We knew we wanted to incorporate the car movies from the 70s we have always loved in Drive Angry 3D, but we wanted there to be something more going on, too, so that’s why there’s this supernatural element that can’t be explained by conventional means in the movie as well,” explained Lussier. “Todd and I also recognized that the characters all have an extreme nature to them so we had to make sure we balanced that out well so even though they were all motivated by villainous motives, you still wanted to root for them too.”

“Even though Drive Angry is very much about the action, we still had to have an emotional core at the center of the movie, and that was what Todd really excelled at bringing into the mix. Instead of Hell just being a ‘fire and brimstone’ kind of place, we wanted it to be an emotional experience too. So instead it just being a guy with horns, it’s more about you having to watch everyone you ever loved or cared about going through horrible things that you can’t do anything about. That was the true torment for Milton and that’s why he had to break out,” Lussier added.

Love it or hate it, the one thing everyone can agree on is that Drive Angry 3D was by far the most balls-out widely released film of 2011. Farmer explained that even though the story in the film definitely goes way past the line, the studio behind his and Lussier’s vision never asked the pair to tone down any of the extreme violence in the film. Farmer said, “We weren’t really given any restrictions on the story or what we wanted to do with Drive Angry. We told Millennium Films what we wanted to do, and they said, ‘Go ahead and just don’t go over budget’ so we really got to make the movie we would want to see as fans of genre movies. It’s definitely not a movie for everyone, but I’m okay with that.”

When it came time to start assembling the cast of Drive Angry 3D in late 2009, Lussier explained how producer Michael De Luca was pivotal in securing Nicolas Cage in the lead role of Milton.

“When Todd and I first originally wrote the script, we showed it to Michael De Luca first. He’s worked with Nic before and told us that we had to approach him for this role because it really fit well with the kind of roles he’s passionate about as an actor. And of course both Todd and I were fans of his so we took a chance and sent him the script. He absolutely loved it when he read it and told us it was by far one of the most outrageous things he ever read but he totally dug how outrageous it was. I’ve heard him say he approached the role of Milton as ‘The Terminator Meets Edgar Allan Poe’ and I think that’s very fitting.”

Exclusive Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer Talk Drive Angry

Apparently The Terminator didn’t only hold influence over Cage’s performance in Drive Angry 3D – it also had some influence on Farmer’s approach to writing the role of Piper, the strong but sexy sidekick to Milton throughout the film played by Amber Heard.

“My biggest influence when writing Piper’s character was James Cameron and the strong female roles he’s written over the years in movies like The Terminator or Aliens,” explained Farmer. “I’ve always loved seeing empowered women roles in cinema so I wanted Piper to be that kind of role too. Amber was definitely the key to casting because she had to be able to hold her own against a cast of all very strong men, but her character had to keep the story moving forward too. If she wasn’t able to pull it off, the movie would have sunk. I personally think Amber did an amazing job because she definitely kicked a lot of ass in Drive Angry.”

When it came time to find the right actor for the role of The Accountant, which had to have the right blend of comedic timing with deadpan delivery, Lussier remembered character actor William Fichtner from an audition some ten years ago. “I’ve always been a fan of Fichtner’s. He actually came in and read for me for Dracula 2000 for the role that went to Omar Epps. What’s funny is that when he came in to audition, he actually really wanted to play Dracula, which I think would have been pretty awesome – I mean, Gerard was fantastic in that role, but I always imagine an alternate-reality version of Dracula 2000 with William as Dracula. But in Drive Angry, he just nailed his performance for The Accountant perfectly. It was just how we imagined it when we wrote it, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role with the kind of cadence William brought to the table.”

And even if it seemed like all the stars were aligned for Drive Angry 3D to be a successful action flick, anyone who follows box office numbers knows that the movie definitely under-performed. Farmer, who is conscientious that the audacious nature of the movie may have had some influence on moviegoers, discussed how the mishandling of 3D filmmaking by the studios over the last few years is partially responsible for the weak performance by Drive Angry 3D during its theatrical run.

”When Patrick and I first did My Bloody Valentine, there wasn’t a glut of 3D movies like there are these days,” said Farmer. ”In fact, we were the first modern live-action 3D movie, and I still think we did a great job on that movie. We had always written Drive Angry to be made in 3D because we wanted to create something fans had never seen in the 3D format – an insane car movie that offered a lot of the spectacle we love seeing in the 3D format. We were definitely ahead of the curve because after we released MBV, suddenly there was this onslaught of post-converted 3D movies, which I think has ruined the 3D experience for audiences, and I think that’s why a lot of 3D movies are under-performing now.”

”You have to think of movies like rides at an amusement park – you don’t always want to go on roller coasters when you are riding all the different rides so there is no reason for the studios to make everything in 3D. Not every story needs to be told in that format. Plus, I really don’t think that theaters should charge more for 3D presentations because that is also ruining the business. People just don’t want to pay more, and I don’t blame them really,” added Farmer.

Even though both Lussier and Farmer are busy working on various upcoming genre projects including Halloween III and Hellraiser, we asked Farmer if he had given any thought to another Drive Angry movie down the road.

Farmer said, “Milton’s story is definitely not finished, and we definitely do have a sequel for Drive Angry already mapped out. It’s just hard to know if a sequel will ever happen because of how the movie did theatrically. It’s all up to the DVD and Blu-ray release now and what kind of numbers we do, unfortunately. But I know we all had a blast making Drive Angry, and I don’t think any of us would change a thing about what we did with the movie.

Special thanks to both Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier for taking the time to speak with Dread Central.

Exclusive Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer Talk Drive Angry

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Night of the Living Dead 4K and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection

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It’s been a long time coming for these two classics, especially Night of the Living Dead after the ridiculously bad transfer put out by Mill Creek Entertainment, whose transfer was supposedly remastered from a new 2K scan. I swear I thought it was some kind of a joke when I first put it on to watch. In any event…

IndieWire is reporting that horror classics Night of the Living Dead and The Silence of the Lambs will be added to the 2018 Criterion Collection, a hallmark label for home video cinephiles.

According to the site, Criterion will release a new 4K digital restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, which has been approved by the movie’s cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray sets are 35 minutes of deleted scenes and audio commentary from 1994 featuring the late Jonathan Demme (director), stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas.

Night of the Living Dead will also be released in 4K with never-before-seen 16mm dailies included as a bonus feature(!).

These will be added in February of 2018 so make sure you save up some cash after the holidays!

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DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

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4.5

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Director Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended!

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User Rating 5 (2 votes)
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Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review – A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End brings closure to hungry fans in all the ways they’d hope – albeit turned down a notch through animation. Over-the-top kills and headbanging metal riffs still reign supreme, they’re just drawn by hand instead of oozing practical effects this time.

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User Rating 3.11 (9 votes)
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