The haunted house trope never gets old. At least, not for me: I’ve seen everything from The Uninvited to Annabelle Creation. And now, I can’t wait for Truth or Dare. In Truth or Dare, a group of college friends head to a “Haunted Rental” for Halloween. But when they replay the game that made the house infamous, they awaken an evil spirit intent on stealing their souls.
Aside from the subject, I’m a fan of the director, Nick Simon. That’s why I was glad to be able to ask him a few questions about film, as I gear up to see it when it debuts on the SyFy Channel next month.
Dread Central: I saw this line is the synopsis… “You must do the dare, or the dare does you.” Wow, that sounds intriguing. What does it mean?
Nick Simon: First off, I just want to thank you for your continuous support. You might not know this but you, (Staci) actually wrote the first film review of my career with Removal. So it’s always good to talk to you.
DC: Really? No, I did not know that! I’m glad it was a good one. You’re welcome!
NS: So… “Do the dare or the dare does you”, is a warning that keeps coming back to our characters and haunts them throughout this brutal little film. Basically if you get a dare in the game and you don’t do it, the dare – however crazy it is – somehow happens to you regardless.
DC: I didn’t know IMDb would even let you post a movie without a writer… but I sure don’t see one listed on there or anywhere else? Did you write it? Or… are you building an air of mystery around the film by not telling?
NS: I do love that there is a mystery around this! It’s funny, I always have several scripts that I’m writing at any given time. This was not one of them. Thing is, I’m a really slow writer. So one day last year when I’m at home banging on the computer keys (slowly) this script is sent to me that Thommy Hutson wrote called Truth Or Dare. There are about 500 different “Truth or Dare” films, books, Madonna movies, whatever… out there, so I didn’t think much at first, based on the title alone. But, I knew Thommy’s writing. I’ve read his book on Wes Craven and the making of A Nightmare on Elm Street called Never Sleep Again. I was also very aware of his work on the documentary. So I sat down and read his vicious little script. It’s a really “fun and games” type of horror script that reminded me of the things I loved about the Final Destination franchise. I absolutely love watching those films. He knew me from my work with Wes on The Girl In The Photographs, so when we met and talked about the script, we clicked very well.
DC: Did you play “truth or dare” as a kid? To what do you attribute the enduring appeal of the game? I feel like it’s been around forever and yet even people today are still interested in it.
NS: I think I played Truth or Dare as a kid? I mean, I assume I did. I was and am a pretty big nerd, both growing up and now. There is a higher probability that my Dungeons and Dragons character played Truth or Dare before I did. People must be still interested in it, because it has been around forever. It’s a thing that will be around forever, I think. What’s compelling about the game is by playing it alone, the player feels some sort of underlying pressure to complete the task, no matter what. Even if it’s confessing a secret or running down the street naked, just because everyone agreed to play this game they are beholden to its unspoken, yet simple, rules. And, of course, there is also a chance you can kiss the girl you would never get to kiss otherwise.
DC: Heather Langenkamp is in your movie! That should be enough, but I’d love to know more. Who does she play? What was it like to work with her? Tell us something about Heather we may not know!
NS: Okay, so working with Heather is definitely checking a mark off my bucket list. Heather is a total pro. We made the offer to her and never in a million years did I think she would say yes. She is playing a character named Donna. Without giving too much away, the movie opens in 1983 and something happens to Donna as a teenager that leaves her scarred and damaged. When we catch up to her now she meets our cast and tries to help them through the pickle they got themselves into. Heather is such an amazing sport to work with too. She sat through about 4 hours of prosthetics each day she worked. She’s great in the picture and it was just such a true honor to work with a legitimate scream queen.
DC: Your films are really varied – from instance, 2 Lava 2 Lantula! could not be more different from Removal. Is this something you’ve endeavored to do, or do you just kind of take whatever interesting filmmaking opportunities that come your way? Where do you see yourself professionally, 5 years from now?
NS: Hopefully you’re still talking to me in 5 years. I have a pretty weird filmography going right now. I think if you know me, it makes perfect sense. I love so many types of films, especially in these different genres. I love horror, science fiction, action, and comedies. I think the one thing all of my films have in common is that they’re all comedies to some degree. Wes Craven came on board to produce The Girl In The Photographs because he thought it was a really funny script. 2 Lava was pretty much a straight up wacky comedy and giant creature feature – action flick. Something I’ve never had the opportunity to try before plus working with Steven Guttenberg was just a dream. It was a fun challenge for me to incorporate the big action elements into that film and I had a great time doing it. That said, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever accomplished. We shot that picture in 13 days with a set of Lincoln Logs and about 6 bucks. I would say the next projects that I’m writing and reading now are probably as weird as everything in my past. I have a quirky thriller that I’m writing that takes place in the early 80’s. I just read a script I loved that is literally a comedy/horror/sci-fi (in that order). It’s one of the craziest scripts I’ve ever read. I’m also trying to get a kid’s show off the ground. All of it is in the genre space that I love and hope to continue working in.
DC: I haven’t seen Truth or Dare yet… so please tell our readers (and me!) what to expect and what you hope the takeaway will be.
NS: Truth or Dare is just a fun film that the Syfy network let us go nuts on. The network and my producer, Lisa Hansen really just let us make a crazy little Halloween movie that is a ton of fun with plenty of blood. Lisa also made the current retelling of the I Spit On Your Grave movies so you know she is willing to push boundaries. Hopefully it will make you laugh while scaring the shit out of you. We had a blast making and it and I had such a rock-solid cast too. I put some of these actors though hell and back. Cassie Scerbo and Brytni Sarpy can attest to this. Watching those two perform in this film was incredible. I got to work with Luke Baines again who I absolutely love working with. You might remember him as Tom from The Girl in the Photographs. He’s one of my favorite actors to work with. I wanted people to see him play a… good guy? …I guess? I really hope people enjoy watching this film and have as much fun with it as we did making it. It’s a completely different kind of horror picture than I have ever made. But I think it’s also a lot closer to the horror films I grew up loving.
Simon’s Truth or Dare stars Cassie Scerbo (Sharknado franchise, “Make It or Break It”), Ricardo Hoyos (“Degrassi: The Next Generation”), Brytni Sarpy (“General Hospital”), Mason Dye (“Teen Wolf,” Flowers in the Attic), Harvey Guillen (“The Magicians”), Alexxis Lemire (The Other Mother), Luke Baines (The Girl In The Photographs, Under The Silver Lake), Christina Masterson (“Power Rangers Megaforce”), and Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street).
Look for Truth or Dare on October 8th, only on Syfy.
Eight college friends head to a “haunted rental” in a remote town for Halloween weekend. Once there, they play the game rumored to have caused the deaths of seven teenagers decades earlier, Truth or Dare. What starts out as vodka-induced fun quickly turns serious when the dares become sickeningly dangerous and the truths threaten to tear the group apart.
When players attempt to refuse the increasingly challenging tasks, they’re met with deadly consequences, quickly discovering: You must do the dare, or the dare does you. As the death toll mounts, the remaining players must race against the clock to outrun, outsmart, and outlast the simple game of Truth or Dare.
Interview: Composer Olivier Deriviere Talks Us Through VAMPYR’s Soundtrack
Vampyr is shaping up to be one of the best horror games of 2018. With the release date approaching, we decided to talk to the game’s composer Olivier Deriviere about the unique soundtrack you’ll be listening to as you prowl the streets of London.
“London, 1918. You are newly-turned Vampyr Dr. Jonathan Reid. As a doctor, you must find a cure to save the city’s flu-ravaged citizens. As a Vampyr, you are cursed to feed on those you vowed to heal. Will you embrace the monster within? Survive and fight against Vampyr hunters, undead skals, and other supernatural creatures. Use your unholy powers to manipulate and delve into the lives of those around you, to decide who will be your next victim. Struggle to live with your decisions… your actions will save or doom London.”
Developed by Dontnod Entertainment, Vampyr will be published by Focus Home Interactive on PC and consoles on June 5, and you can order your copy over on its official website. If you missed it earlier, you can also listen to our exclusive preview of Deriviere’s soundtrack here.
Dread Central: Because the game takes place shortly after the First World War, I understand that you wanted the music to have an industrial feel to it?
Olivier Deriviere: Yes. The creative director Philippe Moreau wanted to avoid any reference to Victorian London. He made it very clear that the game was dark, gritty, atmospheric and since it was the beginning of the industrial era he wanted something more “industrial” for the music. I spent a lot of time creating some unique textures for the game, to create a signature sound and what helped me was the fact that your journey takes place in the streets of London. You are always surrounded by buildings so I felt the music should echo like the sound echoes in any street. That’s why you can hear the electronic sound echoing from left to right (or the opposite) and I think this is what makes the signature of the electronic sounds.
DC: Are there any other major themes or influences at play?
OD: The use of a cimbalom was quite an obvious choice but one cannot create originality by ignoring the stereotype. This instrument really defines London and this period of time.
The choir evokes the inner conflict of Jonathan Reid; ‘The Thirst’ is the call for blood and ‘The Cross’ represents the vampire’s fear of religious symbols, and the redemption.
DC: How will the music echo Jonathan Reid’s struggle between becoming a monster and holding on to his humanity?
OD: Great question! What happened during the game’s development was that once I was done with the atmospheric textures of the game we all felt we were missing something. It brought this gritty tone to the dark nights of a plagued London but there was still another dimension to explore….the condition of the main character, Jonathan Reid who is both a doctor and new born vampire. I thought about this duality and I didn’t want to separate the monster from the doctor. I wanted the two of them to be one but to fight against each other; this is when the idea of a cello solo came up. By doing so we now have represented in the music what is in the game, a lonely human being in despair and starving for blood.
DC: Why did you opt for fierce cello sounds, and how did you find working with Eric-Maria Couturier from Ensemble Intercontemporain de Paris?
OD: I must say my collaboration with Eric-Maria went beyond my expectations. As I mentioned I needed the cello to express both the humanity and the monstrosity, and the music I write is quite difficult to perform so I needed an excellent cellist. Hiring the best cellist in the classical world will give you an incredible sound and performance but there is little chance you will get a visceral performance. What I mean by that is the relationship between a musician and the music is generally as it is written. But with Eric we explored together and he introduced me to so many different sounds that sometimes I felt he was from another dimension. He really brought the emotion and they are as complex as they sound.
DC: Rather than just being in the background, would you say that Vampyr’s music is a major part of the interactive experience?
OD: My first concern when writing music for games is the player’s experience. The music of Vampyr is highly interactive but with subtleties for most players. Obviously the music reacts to the main situations of the player. If you are exploring, you have the “exploration cue” relative to your location. If you are fighting you have the “fight cue” relative to whom you are fighting against. Now, what people may not initially get is that, in exploration, the music dimension varies depending if you are conversing with another character or not. When you’re not in conversation the music is quite pronounced but as soon as you enter a discussion then the music starts to be more intimate, in a seamless transition. It makes, unconsciously, the conversation a more intimate moment for the player, and because the cello becomes softer, it adds an extra layer of emotion. Additionally since the game reacts to the number of citizens you kill to feed your darkest side, the music will follow your decisions by getting darker and darker.
DC: How did you find the experience of once again working with Dontnod?
OD: It was a real delight to be back with the team behind Remember Me. I am amazed by what they have achieved on Vampyr. The “open world” they created is not too big so you can really appreciate the game in its whole, the art style is very beautiful, the fighting system is fun and the whole concept of having to choose between the vampire and the doctor works amazingly well. This may not be a AAA budget title but is nevertheless a passionate project where everybody who worked on the project made a difference. I couldn’t be prouder to work on this game and I hope the players will enjoy what makes Vampyr a unique game experience.
DC: How would you describe the process of composing for a game compared to composing for a film or TV series?
OD: This question requires a lot of words so in short I would say that video games scoring has no rules, no boundaries, no limits, no language. Video games are a young medium, so is the art of composing music for games. However, I believe that for years music for games has neglected what makes games unique and I am quite confident to say that in the next decade music for games will come into its own and surprise you…and hopefully me as well!
Exploring a Variety of Horror in Japanese Anime
In the early 2000s, Japanese horror films took American audiences by storm. These pictures took form through numerous remakes, with such classics as Ringu (The Ring), Ju-on: The Grudge (The Grudge), and Honogurai Mizu no soko kara (Dark Water). These J-Horror remakes offered stories woven with Eastern folklore, dealing with ghosts, precognition, and yōkai, including lots of psychological twists. For some American filmgoers, these remakes were their first horror films, kicking off a life-long love for the genre.
In regards to other Japanese art forms, horror has shown remarkable promise through manga. One need not look further than the work of Junji Ito; the writer and illustrator is responsible for creating some of the most visceral and disturbing work within the genre. His short story collections, as well as his famous graphic novel Uzumaki, present worlds of psychological madness and despair.
It’s no secret that American audiences continue to love all sorts of media from Japan. However, there’s one medium from Japan that is met with as much love as it is met with criticism: Anime.
For as much as the medium is loved by fans, there are others that point out how the form is home to many tropes. While we may love Dragon Ball Z or Sailor Moon, we can’t deny the overt melodrama of character’s dialogue and actions. Whether it’s the over-the-top machismo or extreme cutesy nature, it’s difficult to deny the, at times, cringe-worthy elements of the art form.
However, it’s extremely important to note that these elements do not speak for all of anime. There are just as many shows that does not rely on tropes (or uses them effectively within a story’s framework). And when the right combination of elements comes together, anime and horror can go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and chocolate.
So with that said, I want to highlight four excellent anime titles that do the horror genre justice. These works present their own blend of horror, and masterfully use their medium to give viewers chills (or even turn their stomachs).
The original video animation (OVA) is the main highlight of the Hellsing works (given that there was an anime and manga before Ultimate). What the OVA successfully accomplishes more so than the original works, however, is the extreme level of violence and darkness it exudes. Hellsing Ultimate follows our protagonist Alucard (the anime’s iconic vampire), along with the Hellsing organization; they work together to fight the monsters of the night that threaten mankind. The series overtime throws numerous antagonists at them, including the likes of Nazis, the Vatican, and other vampires.
What character tropes the anime uses work in its favor. There are a couple characters that act as comic reliefs, but other than those brief moments, the anime includes scenes of theatrical dialogue. In general, there are quite a few crazed antagonists throughout the anime; for the most part, many of these characters work. An example is Alexander Anderson, one of the show’s best antagonists, whose back story helps us understand his drive and personality.
However, it’s Hellsing Ultimate’s action sequences that make the show sincerely brutal and grotesque. Alucard is one of anime’s most powerful and iconic protagonists; while he takes on the role of anti-hero, his personality and ideals go beyond that of a flat archetype. For as repulsive and cruel as he can be, he also has a solid loyalty and respect to those close to him (or who he battles).
We see Alucard driven by pure bloodlust, but are also shown the somber traits of his personality. The former is where we see much of the anime’s ability to instill tension within its characters (and the viewer). His dialogue, as well as the voice acting behind it, present a sinister, even threatening aura. Given his extreme power, we see foes tear into Alucard, even tearing his limbs apart, and yet, he laughs and begs for more. His voice contains such a controlled, yet hysteric, masochistic nature, that we can empathize with the horror on his foe’s faces.
The violence is also splendid to witness for those looking for a gory rush. Hellsing Ultimate is packed with flailing limbs and literal waves of the undead. This animation also serves to masterfully capture the emotion of characters as mentioned previously; the show incorporates a hyper-realistic character design. Using a combination stellar line work, coloring, and shadowing, the emotion of each character is genuinely felt. And for those seeking more pleasing aesthetics, the world of Hellsing Ultimate is a gothic delight. Weaving in those elements of shading and detail, the European structures are as beautiful as they are creepy.
For the horror fan who needs gallons of blood, you won’t want to miss out on Hellsing Ultimate.
Unlike the previous title, Perfect Blue is a film. Directed by Satoshi Kon and written by Sadayuki Murai, the picture tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a famous pop singer who retires to pursue acting. I won’t give away plot details, but let’s just say that this film has a lot of similarities to Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.
The film is nothing short of brilliant. As the story progresses, the viewer will begin to question the reality of events as much as the protagonist. To sum Perfect Blue up as a psychological thriller may technically be accurate, but would also leave out a lot of the film’s details.
For all of Perfect Blue’s weirdness, it makes for a sincerely disturbing picture. As Mima strives to succeed as an actress, the stress continues to build upon her. Along with this stress comes a mysterious stalker and random violent actions taking place around her. This stress ends up taking over much of her psyche, altering her sense of time and reality. Getting into specifics would spoil the film, and the shock value of Perfect Blue is absolutely worth exploring firsthand.
The shock works in a way like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive; sporadic jumps in time and random bits of disturbing nature ripple throughout each scene, and will have the viewer scratching their head as to what is genuinely taking place. These transitions are jarring, revealing a combination of unsettling imagery as we witness Mima’s sanity unravel. Perfect Blue represents masterful editing, as well as relatable characters.
In a unique way, the world of Perfect Blue feels close to the real world. Beyond the psychological elements, there’s nothing that fantastical that plays into anime stereotypes; even the way characters are drawn is plain, even bland. Wherein a lot of anime characters are given flashy detail and spruced up with bright colors, Perfect Blue gives us very ordinary people (with the exception of Mima and some other girls). For an animated film, Perfect Blue feels very human; in turn, this makes the blend of unsettling, even horrific scenes, more believable.
This is a film about obsession, and how some people are always striving to fit into an image. Mima is an empathetic character and watching her descent into madness is not only grim, it’s heartbreaking.
For those who like mystery and stories that involve ghosts and curses, Another is right up your alley. The show follows Kōichi Sakakibara, a young boy who has just moved back to his birth town. The show opens with him waking up in the hospital after being sick for a month. Students from the new school and class he will attend come to visit Kōichi, but immediately begin to act strange around him. He meets a girl be the name Mei Misaki, and eventually learns of the curse that haunts class.
The show does a great job keeping you in the shadows, slowly trickling bits of important information overtime. In the beginning, the viewer will sense a great deal of weirdness coming from the characters. It’s this feeling that, while people may appear normal, the viewer can tell there’s a larger act at play. Details slowly trickle throughout each episode. The events that have led to the class’ curse are grim and make for sinister context in regards to their present state. Another comes with a compelling atmosphere. The animation utilizes stellar shadowing, casting a foreboding presence throughout the show.
If you are a fan of ghost stories like The Ring and The Grudge, you’ll love Another; there’s a consistent air of dread and uneasiness that roams about the characters and school. If you live for supernatural mysteries, Another offers a thrilling, dark journey in hopes to learn more about a curse. The show presents plenty of creepiness and twists, feeding into its overall gloomy plot.
This is the one anime on the list that comes with a warning. I had a friend recommend the show and say to me, “You won’t see what happens coming.” What takes place in episode one is super out of left field, and one of the most unique ways to trick an audience.
So before going into this show – please keep in mind that the following will include the first episode’s twist.
When you start episode one of School-Live!, we are introduced to Yuki Takeya, a cheerful high school girl that is the ideal example of cutesy anime tropes. Yuki’s friends are just as bubbly, all playing into typical girly anime tropes. As you watch the girls run throughout the school, you notice all the delightful colors and decorations.
The first episode continues in this way for the majority of its run time, up until the end. It’s revealed to the viewer that all this cuteness is inside Yuki’s head. The school is not full of bright colors and life, but is actually quite the opposite. We learn that Yuki’s friends are playing along with her to protect her, for the majority of the school’s population has been desolated by a zombie outbreak. Barricades protect broken windows and walkways, and the girls work to keep Yuki safe while trying to survive.
School-Live! throws tropes into the viewers face, amplifying the shock value of the twist. The rest of the girls use Yuki’s delusional mind state as an excuse to leave the school grounds for supplies. When we see the world through Yuki’s perspective, the animation becomes bubbly and full of color; the tone drastically shifts when we see the point of view from the other girls. This shift allows us to see the real horrors that surround them.
What transpires from there is a somber story of each girl’s desperation to survive and protect one another. The show also utilizes a series of flashbacks to provide context for each girl and where they were the day the outbreak first took place. The grim nature of their world weighs heavily upon their shoulders, and as the show progresses, the darkness of their reality leads to strain and despair.
This show is a surprising gem within the realm of horror anime. It’s a smart anime that knows not only how to play into the medium’s tropes, but the viewer’s expectations as well.
These four are just the beginning. There’s so much horror anime out there for fans to enjoy, including titles like Vampire Hunter D, Parasyte, Shiki, and more. You can find many of these titles on Hulu, Crunchyroll, as well as the Funimation streaming service.
Anime has much to offer horror fans through story, stellar voice acting, direction, and superb animation. While some of the horror to be found may be fun and action-oriented, there are plenty of titles that offer a sincere atmosphere of tension and fear.
What are some other horror anime titles you enjoy that are worth checking out? Let us know in the comments!
Dread Central and Scream Factory Present the SUMMER OF SCREAMS Tour: Kissing Candice Haunts The Stage
For our third reveal for the Summer of Screams tour, which is presented by us here at Dread Central as well as our pals over at Scream Factory, we’re stoked to announce that Long Island, New Yorkers Kissing Candice are joining the fray alongside The Browning for the whole tour with Powerman 5000 and Psychostick joining on select dates! Also, as you can see via the announcement image below, we’re going to be revealing the full touring schedule in a couple fo weeks, so get ready to see when this tour is coming to your area!
The masked metal band’s most recent release was the Safe Word EP from last November, which you can pick up via Amazon.
- Rottenjesus The only reason it's dark is because the DU is dead and it's never coming back.
- Jack Derwent Slappy Halloween was a much better title.
- Nicholas McCrae Kimble Excuse me, but, Toho did the cinematic universe thing first. The Showa Era movies. From Gojira, Rodan, Varan, Mothra, Godzilla vs Mothra, Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster (which had Godzilla, Mothra...
- TheRedHood Great list. Lately I've been listening to Tremble https://threeangrynerds.com/category/tremble/ And Return To Camp Blood http://campbloodpodcast.com
- Steven Millan Hopefully,the majority of those films(and novels) that Fangoria will release under their fourth(or is that fifth) new media entertainment label will be an awful lot better than the large majority of...
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
Interview: Composer Olivier Deriviere Talks Us Through VAMPYR’s Soundtrack
Exploring a Variety of Horror in Japanese Anime
Dread Central and Scream Factory Present the SUMMER OF SCREAMS Tour: Kissing Candice Haunts The Stage
New HEREDITARY Poster Morphs Into a Nightmare
Interview: Bear McCreary Showers Love on OINGO BOINGO on the Eve of Danny Elfman’s Birthday
Brad Dourif Confirms CHILD’S PLAY TV Series
6-HEADED SHARK ATTACK and MEGALODON Details Surface from The Asylum
Quick Update on THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES TV Series; Pilot Is Written But Fuller Is Out
Exclusive: END TRIP Trailer Will Make You Delete Your Uber App
Epic Stephen King DVD Collection Coming Soon For $20
Exclusive: ANOTHER SOUL Trailer Possesses All Who Watch It
Exclusive: Travel Into the Recesses of Space With This LOST IN SPACE Soundtrack Video
Exclusive: COURT OF THE DEAD Gallevarbe Premium Figure Reveal From Sideshow Collectibles
Exclusive: Video Calls Are Never Going to Feel The Same Thanks to THE NURSERY
Exclusive: Venture Into Body Horror With This SEQUENCE BREAK Trailer
News4 days ago
Stephen King Releases Free Short Story LAURIE
News6 days ago
These Publicity Stills and Shots From 1950’s Horror Movies Are a Blast From the Past!
News6 days ago
Bad Robot’s Nazi-Zombie Horror Movie OVERLORD Lands Hard R Rating
News5 days ago
THE HAUNTING OF NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON – More Details Come in
Editorials3 days ago
FORBIDDEN ZONE and Political Correctness
News5 days ago
Brutal Trailer Hits for Lars von Trier’s THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT
News5 days ago
Netflix’s LOST IN SPACE Returns for Season 2
News4 days ago
Cinepocalypse 2018: Full Slate of Films Unveiled Including Nine World Premieres!