Death Note: L’s the Name: Exclusive Interview with Lakeith Stanfield - Dread Central
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Death Note: L’s the Name: Exclusive Interview with Lakeith Stanfield

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After springing to life as a manga (created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata), anime and four Japanese live-action movies in its native Japan, Death Note has now been transformed into a US-production by Asian remake master Roy Lee (The Ring, The Grudge, Dark Water, etc.).

The new movie follows a Washington high school student named Light (Nat Wolff) who finds a supernatural notebook with a most unusual power; if the owner writes someone’s name into it while picturing their face, he or she will die. Egging the teen on is fearsome death god Ryuk (voiced by Willem Dafoe) and girlfriend Mia (Margaret Qualley of “The Leftovers”). With a body count passing the 400 mark(!), you could say Light gets a bit carried away, which attracts the attention of brilliant but eccentric crimestopper L (Get Out’s Lakeith Stanfield). Adam Wingard (Blair Witch, You’re Next) directed the Vancouver-lensed film, which boasts some nasty splatter FX by “Supernatural’s” Toby Lindala. Dread Central spoke with busy 26-year-old actor Stanfield, who loved playing the enigmatic and quirky L. Death Note drops this Friday on Netflix and opens in select LA and New York theaters.

Tony Timpone: What attracted you to the character of L?

Lakeith Stanfield: He is a very cute, cuddly character. I almost instantly fell in love with him. I thought the character would be interesting to explore and investigate within the confines of this story, which was new to my awareness. I never heard of Death Note prior, and I was really happy with the idea that I might get to play this character.

Lakeith Stanfield

TT: Did you watch the previous movies and anime in crafting your interpretation of the character?

LS: I did. It was fun homework. It is such a great series. I read three volumes of the manga and watched both the Japanese version and the dubbed anime series to get a reference for L’s voice. And then I watched all three live action Japanese movies. And it was great. Gave me a wealth of knowledge.

TT: What did you strive to bring to the character that may not have been there before?

LS: L’s social awkwardness and his high intelligence level appealed to me. I wanted to maintain those critical faculties. Also the fact that he’s lazy looking, but not lazy at all. I wanted that to come across as well. Plus the fact he loves sweets so much. I kept asking them for more candy. It was a lot of candy!

TT: I love how you copied L’s unique body language and odd tics from previous incarnations…

LS: Yes, that was something I wanted to pay attention to. I also liked how particular he was with his movement, almost like a ninja. Every move of his was methodical. That was fun to play with.

TT: Anything else specifically that you brought to your interpretation of the character?

LS: I liked the way he grabbed things. I did a lot of that, but less wound up in the actual movie. I wanted to put that in there. And also I wanted to add a level of physicality that I didn’t see in the anime, like the way he might move when he was running or pursuing someone. So I made sure his running style was very deliberate and opposite of how you would think a person may move. In order to do what he does he has to be in great shape; I know he eats a lot of crazy candy and stays up for long hours, but he must work out and run in order to stay healthy.

TT: Why does Death Note have such a strong international following?

LS: The question of morality, and mortality, is as old as time itself. And how that applies to life and death and who has the right to determine life and death. And also the magical nature; at some point, everyone can imagine, “What if I had a book where I could just right down the names of people I hate and they would disappear?” People have been finding that attractive ever since the Death Note manga, the anime and now the live action version.

TT: What does Adam Wingard’s film get right that previous Asian remakes got wrong?

LS: What’s interesting to me about these adaptations is that they are interpretations. And by virtue of that, I don’t think they can get things right and wrong. It’s up to the audience to decide what they feel is right and wrong. The artists, the filmmakers, the cinematographers, the actors…we just come in and interpret what has already been there.

TT: Were you a fan of Wingard’s previous films?

LS: Yes, I do like his films a lot. I love how he executes, and I do use that word meaning both, his stories and the way he kills people. He makes his movies quite fun to watch.

TT: Do you think the story will appeal to a mainstream audience unfamiliar with the Death Note legacy?

LS: Yes. I hope the teenagers come out and watch it, provided their parents will allow them. It will be a really good time for them.

TT: Were you ever concerned that the new movie strayed too far from the source material?

LS: I was concerned about being true to the original content. I was a fan, so I wanted to makes sure we paid homage and nods to what came before and I wanted to do that with L as well. I did realize we were making a whole other story based on Death Note. It was not a direct translation of the original content. Just me being black made that obvious. I dove into this story without clinging too much to the past, but [other elements] I said, “We’re putting this in.” I kept that in a sacred place.

TT: Get Out was the horror sensation of the year. By comparison, Death Note is kind of flying under the radar with its Netflix release, especially theatrically. Are there any drawbacks to this distribution model?

LS: No, it’s great we’re in this time of technological revolution. The way cinema is consumed is different and changing rapidly. It’s great to be a part of this new movement. Now you get to have all your favorite stuff at your fingertips. If you want to, you can still go to the theater, but you have more options available to you. It’s an awesome thing. Death Note will be ingested in a different way than Get Out.

TT: Not everything is tied up at the end of Death Note. Was there talk of a sequel while you were shooting to resolve the story later?

LS: Not with me. I have no idea where it goes from here. I definitely want to see more.

TT: Were you surprised by the success of Get Out?

LS: Yes, very. It took us all by storm. We were working with a very humble budget. We didn’t expect the film to take off the way it did. And I’m glad it did, because it dealt with issues that black people and I think about a lot. The issue of being in a situation where your consciousness is always directly under attack and how to navigate this world where you are considered a minority and tucked away in the under chambers of society. And then having to face the blanket hypocrisies. That’s a dope conversation to have. Hearing a black person talk about it is different than putting yourself in that position for two hours. It was healthy for the nation.

TT: What’s next for you?

LS: Stay tuned.

Willem Dafoe and Nat Wolff star alongside Margaret Qualley, Keith Stanfield, Paul Nakauchi, and Shea Whigham. Roy Lee (The Ring) and Dan Lin (Sherlock Holmes) are producing Death Note with Jason Hoffs and Masi Oka. Jonathan Eirich and John Powers Middleton are executive producing with Miri Yoon and Brendan Ferguson. It was directed by Adam Wingard (Blair Witch).

Death Note will be hitting Netflix on August 25th.

Synopsis:
Based on the famous Japanese manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note follows a high school student (Wolff) who comes across a supernatural notebook that gives him the ability to kill anyone by writing their name while picturing their face. Drunk on power, he begins to kill those he deems unworthy of life.

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Synapse’s Suspiria 4K Restoration Gets a Release Date

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Earlier this year, we wrote about Synapse Films’ Suspiria 4K restoration and how it was available for pre-order. The weird catch was that there was no release date confirmed and that pre-orders would go out sometime in December 2017. Today that changes as we can confirm that the 3-disc special edition Blu-ray collection will come out December 19th, just in time for Christmas but a little late for Hanukkah. Any chance we can have one extra night this year?

Restored over three years, Synapse has been working tirelessly to create the ultimate version of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic supernatural horror film, which has since gone on to become one of the most recognized and lauded titles in the genre. This cut has been overseen and approved by Luciano Tovoli, the Director of Photography on the film.

Pre-orders are still available via Synapse Films’ website.

Special features:
*Limited edition of only 6000 units produced
*Exclusive Steelbook packaging and collector’s o-card sleeve, featuring artwork from Malleus, Van Orton Design, Juan José Saldarriaga & Chris MacGibbon
*Three disc [Two Blu-rays + One CD] limited collector’s edition (only 6000 units) containing a new 4K restoration of the original uncut, uncensored Italian 35mm camera negative exclusively done by Synapse Films, with color correction supervised and approved by SUSPIRIA Director of Photography, Luciano Tovoli
*Original 4.0 1977 English language LCRS sound mix not heard since the theatrical release in 1977, presented in high-resolution DTS-HD MA 96 Khz/24-bit audio
*Italian 5.1 surround sound mix
*Two audio commentaries by authors and Argento scholars, Derek Botelho, David Del Valle & Troy Howarth
*Do You Know Anything About Witches? – 30 minute SUSPIRIA visual essay written, edited and narrated by Michael Mackenzie
*Suzy in Nazi Germany – Featurette on the German locations from SUSPIRIA
*A Sigh from the Depths: 40 Years of SUSPIRIA – All-new anniversary retrospective on the making of the film and its influence on cinema
*Olga’s Story – Interview with star Barbara Magnolfi
*Original theatrical trailers, TV spots and radio spots
*Special Collector Edition Booklet containing an American Cinematographer interview with Luciano Tovoli, liner notes by Derek Botelho and restoration notes by Vincent Pereira & Don May, Jr. Cover artwork by Matthew Therrien Illustration
*“International Classics” English “Breathing Letters” opening credit sequence from U.S. release version
*Alternate All-English opening and closing credits sequences, playable via seamless branching
*Newly translated, removable English SDH subtitles for the English language version
*Newly translated, removable English subtitles for the Italian language version
*Exclusive CD remaster of Goblin’s SUSPIRIA motion picture soundtrack, containing additional tracks not included on the original 1977 soundtrack release

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Creep 2 Starring Mark Duplass Hits Netflix This December

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Just the other day we shared with you guys an exclusive interview with Partick Brice, the director of the Mark Duplass-starring found footage flicks Creep and Creep 2.

Today we have the awesome news that the killer sequel Creep 2 (review) will be hitting Netflix streaming on December 23rd.

The original creeptastic motion picture is already streaming on Netflix so if you need to catch up – or just watch the original again – you can do so tonight and get ready for the sequel which, personally, I found to be superior (if even just slightly) to the original.

What did you think of the original film? Are you excited to check out the sequel? Or have you already seen it? Make sure to let us know in the comments below or on social media!

Creep 2 starring Mark Duplass and Desiree Akhavan hits Netflix December 23rd!

Synopsis:

Desiree Akhavan (“Girls”, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR) stars as Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men. After finding an ad online for “video work,” she thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Mark Duplass, reprising his role from the previous film). Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can’t escape.

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Waxwork Records Unveils Phenomenal 2018 Subscription Package

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Our pals over at Waxwork Records have unveiled their 2018 subscription bundle and it’s packed to the brim with some absolutely fantastic titles! Horror fans who enjoy spinning their music on turntables can look forward to two Romero titles, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, Joe Dante’s The ‘Burbs, Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell, and lastly they’ll have Jordan Peele’s smash success title Get Out. On top of getting those five records, those who join the subscription program will also receive a t-shirt, coffee mug, poster, notebook, magnet, enamel pin, calendar, and more.

For Night of the Living Dead, Waxwork Records worked closely with the film’s original creators, including Romero himself prior to his passing, the Museum of Modern Art, and The Criterion Collection so that they could source audio from the 4K restoration. It will be released as a 2xLP package.

Dawn of the Dead will also get a 2xLP release that will include brand new artwork, re-mastered audio, and more. The same kind of treatment is being given to The ‘Burbs. Christopher Young’s Drag Me to Hell soundtrack will be a single LP but will get the same level of attention and quality as the other titles.

As for Peele’s Get Out. Michael Abels; score will be released on a 2xLP vinyl set and will pay tribute to one of the most culturally significant movies of the past several years.

The Waxwork Records subscription package will be $250 ($285 in Canada) and will open up for sale this Friday, the 24th. More information can be found on Waxwork’s website.

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