J.J. Abrams Talks Super 8, Gives Star Trek 2 Update - Dread Central
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J.J. Abrams Talks Super 8, Gives Star Trek 2 Update



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Undoubtedly, one of the biggest movies of this summer is Super 8, the creature feature blockbuster with heart, written and directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by the iconic Steven Spielberg. In the film a group of youngsters in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making their own super 8 movie and start to think that it may not have been an accident.

Soon people in the town begin disappearing and the group of friends come to realize there’s something more terrifying going on around them than any of them could have ever imagined.

Over the weekend Dread Central had the opportunity to chat with Abrams during the Super 8 (REVIEW) press day to talk about the nostalgic feel of the film, why creatures are fun but story always reigns with his films and a brief update on Star Trek 2 (which isn’t necessarily horror, but still noteworthy to a lot of genre fans worldwide).

Abrams discussed how his own nostalgia for making super 8 movies as a kid and the films created earlier by producer Spielberg were both huge inspirations behind his latest feature film. “The thing about making Super 8 is that it was inspired initially by my desire to go back in time and tell a story about a kid making those kind of movies on super 8 that I used to make but were often not great films really. But going back to that experience was the first thing. So when I had this idea to go and do a movie about this time period, the very first thing I did was call Steven because I knew he had also made super 8 movies like I did, and luckily he said yes.”

“Then we were working on the story over time, and as it developed, it was clear that it fell under the umbrella of the Amblin kind of movies,” added Abrams. “They’re all very different movies, but they do share a basic DNA about suburban America with ordinary people going through extraordinary circumstances when either hyper-real or supernatural things came into their lives. It was about the relationships or broken families in some form with kids often at the center of the films. So there are all these different elements that I love in Super 8, especially the spectacle of seeing something you’ve never seen before.”

For Abrams, though, he knew it would take a lot of different key elements to create the perfect sense of nostalgia in Super 8, and he discussed how even though the movie is very much a monster movie, a solid story with compelling characters was just as important to him as a storyteller.

“Part of the ambiance of Super 8 was about the era, the wardrobe, the set design and all that stuff,” explained Abrams. “Those were definitely huge elements to the movie, but what really was important to me personally was that after all the visual effects, the action sequences and that stuff were done and over with, that audiences felt something and you cared about the story.”

J.J. Abrams Talks Super 8, Gives Star Trek 2 Update

“There are times when a monster is great for a particular scene or an action sequence. Or there are even times when a monster is a great premise for a movie, but in this case the idea of a creature was cool to me but just because the idea was to make it externalize as a metaphor for what this kid was going through. This creature represented what he was going through, which was the idea of never getting past his loss. Obviously, physically and technically I had to do the creature as one thing, but to me, I’m more interested in the idea of why something is there. What does it represent? What does it mean for a character? Obviously, it’s fun to do just monsters. But I remember seeing the original Hunchback of Notre Dame when I was a kid and just sobbing at this movie. The idea of finding a way to make you feel something while using effects (visual effects, make-up effects, whatever) has always been really exciting to me,” added Abrams.

Despite Super 8 being one of the few original blockbusters to be hitting theaters this summer, Abrams spoke about how he doesn’t really see his latest feature as truly original, but more as an homage to the summer blockbuster films many of us grew up with in the late 70s or early 80s. “The funny thing about Super 8 is that while it’s an original story and an original idea, it owes so much to the films that it was inspired by so it was a fun way to riff off those themes that matter to me so much. I love that if it works for people, it’s probably because Super 8 feels like a sister film to those movies that existed back then.”

With Super 8 set to storm theaters this Friday, Abrams is clearly focused on one project in particular and nothing else currently: the follow-up to the 2009 summer hit Star Trek, which breathed some long overdue life into the franchise.

“The next thing I’m focused on is the next Star Trek movie, which we’ll hopefully have news on soon,” said Abrams. “Honestly, I care much more that Star Trek 2 be good than be ready by the already announced release date, and we’re still working on the script right now. Then we have to make sure everyone’s schedules work so we’re a ways off still.”

So will Star Trek 2 be coming out in 3D then? Abrams addressed the matter by saying, “I’m not yet considering doing the movie in 3D until the phone call comes in from the guys in the suits who say any differently. But so far I have no plans for 3D.”

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Graham Humphreys Reveals His Poster For An American Werewolf In London



Graham Humphreys continues to cement his position as one of the top horror artists in the business with his stunning new poster for An American Werewolf in London. This piece was created as a private commission, and fans of John Landis’ 1981 classic are going to love it. You can view the final design of this incredible poster below.

Final design with text.

Graham also provided us with a detailed statement about the creation of the piece, along with a bunch of screen grabs taken throughout the process. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can see how the final image looks before the text was added. In case you missed it earlier, you can also check out our extended interview with Graham here.

Exclusive Statement from Graham Humphreys
As a commercial artist and illustrator, there is only limited scope to make a job entirely your own – so with each project you are answering a brief in order to fulfill the needs of a client. Of course, the client may choose to give you free reign, though this is with the understanding that you are acknowledging their needs and thus expected to work within certain unspoken parameters. Mostly, these confines are defined by how a product is to be sold, licensing instructions and an understanding a market. With this in mind, the client is paying and thus nominally always right… though it would be unprofessional not to make them aware that other options might work better for them!

Without these commercial constraints, a private commission can remove the barriers because no market is to be met and there is only the artist and the private client to answer to. Creating a poster for a familiar and heavily licensed title is an entirely different prospect if it is not going to be generating money in the public domain and is thus essentially ‘fan art’. Unlike say, a T-shirt company ripping off someone elses art and charging money for the printed image, or perhaps a poster reproduced without permission by either the license owner or artist, then sold for profit.

Here, Dread Central have asked me to talk through one such commission, ‘An American Werewolf in London’, painted as a private commission for an individual that wishes to own a unique image that they themselves have made happen. NB: All likenesses and specific imagery (including the title and names etc) are subject to license and copyright and not for any use other than as examples of a work in progress (and of course, all rights are reserved!). Just need to make sure that it absolutely clear!

The client had commissioned two previous posters from me (as well as numerous poster designs from fellow artists), so a basic understanding of expectations had already been established.

My work begins by watching the film from beginning to end – to re-establish my own connection to the film (if one already exists). I saw ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (in London!) on it’s first run and the proximity to many of the locations (Tottenham Court Road tube station, Piccadilly Circus, being the obvious ones) made it instantly impressionable for me. Existing posters, in particular the official theatrical versions and various home-entertainment sleeves, focused on a limited image pool. My job was to find new ways of representing the film, free of the past baggage, but also to listen to my clients requirements.

Looking for a fresh perspective means avoiding the familiar stills that have defined the past marketing, this is achieved by making screen grabs from the DVD or blu-ray. As with most commercial jobs, I generally make a selection of about 40 images, then review these reducing the number to about 15 that have the best narrative potential, including a good visual range of actor expressions and reactions. My client required the Werewolf, London references, the moors, David and Jack, a full moon and the ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ pub sign… then whatever else I chose to include.

On the basis of the selected screen grabs, I make necessary light and contrast adjustments in photoshop, make them greyscale (removing the distraction of colour) and print them out at a size I can easily trace in pencil onto paper. All the pencil sketches are then scanned into photoshop, so that I can rearrange, resize and move around in order to determine the best layout, one which tells a story and has a visual impact. (I find it’s better to present sketched layouts rather than a photocomp’s, partly because the photographic material is usually of varying quality, but also because a pencil rough is more fluid and does not dictate the final impression).

Selected screen grabs.

Selected screen grabs 2.

My first idea involved a portrait of David looking lost and frightened (I felt this was essential to the story), the Werewolf with it’s head bursting through the cinema shutters/signage (the idea of breaking the fourth wall), the decomposing Jack (a perfect metaphor for David’ s own life falling apart), his nightmare of the home invasion (one of the most effective and horrific moments in the film, I felt), plus Brian Glover’s ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ local – a look that defines rednecks and racists the word over when confronted by ‘other’!). I also wanted to add the tube attack victim to open up the carnage. Although Jenny Agutter’s nurse added the romantic dimension for an audience that expects the convention, I wanted to concentrate on David’s story, so chose to only include her face as if she were painted on the shutters, ie. a film poster element.

I was surprised that the client didn’t want the home invasion creatures, nor the reference to the sleazy cinema hordings (which I thought made a good location gag – obviously not!), they also did not want the rotting Jack. It was disappointing to lose these great horror elements, especially as they’d particularly wanted ‘horror’! But a compromise was reached by including the transformation scene at the bottom, and reinstating the moors (which I’d thought unnecessary).

Fortunately, my second sketch was well received and the painting could commence.

On the basis of the selected screen grabs, I make necessary light and contrast adjustments in photoshop, make them greyscale (removing the distraction of colour) and print them out at a size I can easily trace in pencil onto paper. All the pencil sketches are then scanned into photoshop, so that I can rearrange, resize and move around in order to determine the best layout, one which tells a story and has a visual impact. (I find it’s better to present sketched layouts rather than a photocomp’s, partly because the photographic material is usually of varying quality, but also because a pencil rough is more fluid and does not dictate the final impression).

Once I have my sketch approved I reintroduced the photographic source material over the sketched parts, so that my layout remains exactly as approved and so that I’ll have the best possible likenesses to trace onto the watercolour paper.

Early sketched elements.

I usually have a basic idea of what colours I’m going to use. In this instance I knew that I wanted a silvery blue moonlight to bathe the entire image, but also the contrast of the orange glow of artificial lighting, the pub and cinema foyer. I knew the big splash of red in the wolf’s jaw would jump out, becoming the focal point. This painting took about three days to complete, the sketch process (including the grabs) about a day upfront.

Composition design.

The final painting was scanned and all the text added in photoshop.

My client will now make a full size poster print, to be framed, from the file I send him. Next up, ‘The Thing’!

Final painting before text was added.

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Syfy Renews Z Nation for a 5th Season; Season 4 Finale Airs Tonight!



Syfy’s popular zombie series “Z Nation” just keeps shambling on, and tonight the two-episode Season 4 finale, “Mt. Weather/The Black Rainbow,” airs. If you’re a fan of the show, we have good news for you… it’s not over yet as David Latt of The Asylum has announced on Twitter the pickup of “Z Nation” for a 5th season! So you can expect lots more adventures with the gang in 2018.

Below is the official word from David along with a brief synopsis of what’s ahead tonight in the finale, which kicks off at 9/8c.

In the mind-bending two-hour Season 4 finale, Warren and the team must stop Zona from launching operation Black Rainbow, which will cleanse the landscape of both zombies and humans. In Part 2 the secret of Warren’s Black Rainbow dream is unlocked when they reach their final destination. The cast includes Kellita Smith as Roberta Warren, Keith Allan as Murphy, Russell Hodgkinson as Doc, Nat Zang as 10K, Gracie Gillam as Sgt. Lilley, DJ Qualls as Citizen Z, Ramona Young as Kaya, Justin Torrence as President Donald Trump, Michael Berryman as The Founder, Micheal Daks as Mr. Sunshine, Anastasia Baranova as Addy, Sydney Viengluang as Sun Mei, Joseph Gatt as The Man, and Natalie Jongjaroenlarp as Red.

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First Look at Chris Alexander’s Space Vampire



Who says all vampires have to be all extra-broody or sparkly or take up residence in Transylvania? Certainly not indie filmmaker Chris Alexander, who has just unveiled the first images and posters for his latest foray into film, Space Vampire!

The movie stars Ali Chappell as a beautiful female alien parasite who falls to earth with an intent to drain women of their life forces. As if women don’t have enough problems in this day and age!

Alexander wrote, directed, edited, filmed, and even provided the score for this intergalactic terror tale. Talk about a jack of all trades, eh?

Enough talk! Dig in!

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