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Cult of Chucky – FX Designer Tony Gardner Speaks! Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Video and Images!

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Tony Gardner is one of the most accomplished special effects designers in the biz. He has designed and created effects for Zombieland, 127 Hours, Smokin’ Aces, Hairspray, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Addams Family, Shallow Hal and many more. Not the least of which are the last three Child’s Play movies. With the newest one, Cult of Chucky (review), out now we caught up with Gardner at his studio, Alterian Ghost Factory, and picked his brain about all that went into the latest installment.

Dread Central: When did you first get to work on a Chucky movie?

Tony Gardner: We had met David Kirschner (producer of the Child’s Play franchise) on Hocus Pocus; we did Billy Butcherson and the animatronic cat. When he was going to pitch Bride of Chucky to the studio, he wanted to go in with a display presentation. So he had us build Chucky carrying Tiffany, sort of like the classic bride and groom over the threshold kind of pose. And we built an arch, they were full size, and did a presentation piece for that. And that was sort of our first taste of Chucky. It wasn’t until Seed of Chucky – it wasn’t until three months before they were supposed to pack everything to ship to Romania, that I was contacted and asked if I’d be interested in doing some animatronic characters for a film. It was so vague at first, because I think they were trying to work stuff out still, and then three months prior to them needing to ship out, they were like, ‘okay, we need three animatronic characters that need to be able to do full dialogue, get in fights with each other, throw things,’ and I don’t know what I was thinking but I said ‘sure, that sounds great, let’s go for it,’ and we did. So my first professional experience I didn’t really even have time to think about what we doing. We just had to do it. We were matching photos and trying to be as accurate to photos as possible. There were no physical items to be had. So it was just a constant scramble and literally throwing things into boxes and getting on a plane. Then sorting it out for a week or so before filming in Romania.

DC: Chucky’s gone through a few different incarnations.

TG: Yeah, it’s interesting because when we did Seed, we were trying to match everything to Bride, but at the same time they wanted to reference the characters had a little bit of a Hollywood makeover because this was a film inside of a film. So there was a slight shift there and some things were sort of tweaked or cleaned up in a way. And then when we came to Curse, the idea was that the Good Guy doll face was actually a fake face stretched over the scarred Chucky in disguise and I think we took it a little too literally and I think that wasn’t such a great idea on my part….. But then when we went into do Cult, I was really adamant that we got everything really right, one hundred percent accurate – like start over and start with the Good Guy doll, let’s start with the original and go back to what everybody wants to see. So I was really sort of a little obsessed with hand size and body proportion and the face, even the eyes. And the eyes change a bit in the first three films and I really got analysing the first three films and the scenes that Don [Mancini, director] liked the most and trying to mirror his look there but then there were a couple concessions to the location this time. Where because there was such a white stark background the idea was to amp up the color of his hair, so that it popped a little bit more against the white. So, it wasn’t quite so auburn but it was a little more vibrant. So that’s why his hair is a little bit more intense than it should be. And then there was the idea here with him being able to go back and forth between the Good Guy doll and an evil version in kind of, an instant. The question was, he’s not turning human so what can we do to mix it up a bit and get a little bit more of the humanity of Brad Dourif into it. One of the ideas was sort of a sense of eye bags underneath the eyes, which goes against what to doll has, so that’s something people found interesting. So that also allowed us to be able to have the eye lids track more with the eye balls when he looked around so we could make them a bit more human and a little less doll like. So, he’s sort of evolving as time goes and a lot of times it’s kind of, at least lately, what serves the story better.

DC: Which Chucky is your favorite?

TG: Wow, tough one. I like him in almost every film in different scenes for different reasons, and I know that sounds kind of weird. Child’s Play Two he’s on a dresser, completely inanimate and his body posture and everything looks like a doll and when he comes to life and he straitens up and he suddenly possesses an attitude, the performance in that to me, is just as inspiring as the animatronics – like that’s the kind of stuff that we’re trying to push him to now, albeit on a budget one fifth of what all those original films had but that’s a challenge as well in and of itself. But I have to say I think I like – I honestly like him in all his incarnations. I think the scar Chucky was pretty fascinating just from the sort of Frankenstein perspective, you know, I really enjoyed that. I feel that in the new film now that we have multiple versions within the same film, I have to say my favorite at the moment, is really the new Chucky, buzz-cut Chucky, the guy with the haircut. Because he’s new to all of it but he’s so excited by everything and the idea of putting that enthusiasm in his face, in his mannerisms and then Brad actually having his voice crack when he does that character. I mean that was the most enjoyable of all of them to do. And there’s a lot of stuff buzz cut does that isn’t in the film that – maybe it’s in the deleted scenes, I don’t know, but it’s a very humorous character – so he’s my favorite right now.

DC: What’s it like to collaborate with Don Mancini?

TG: It’s interesting working with Don, because essentially Don is the franchise. He’s written all of them, he’s directed the last three, he knows the cannon, he knows how everyone’s story fits, he’s followed everything tonally, he’s directed it on paper tonally for seven films, he’s actually directed the last three. So you go to Don with a question and you get an answer that’s immediate and specific and he’s not hemming or hawing or wondering about options. He knows all of this stuff inside and out. And that is so rare and it’s kind of what makes this whole thing amazing and what gives this whole franchise it’s longevity is the fact that Don is behind it and he steers the boat with the big picture all the time. Every character motivation, every bit of dialogue, every angle choice, he’s just really amazing.

DC: What’s it like watching Cult of Chucky with an audience?

TG: The first time the film screened was Fright Fest in London. It was over a thousand people and they’re all horror fans so all the reactions and responses were huge. So it was interesting to watch it and see where the audience was willing to go and then also how extreme their responses were to some of the stuff and how much they actually really enjoyed it. And what was nice there was were able to talk to a lot of people beforehand and then afterwards and hear their feedback and how positive everything was and how much they enjoyed that it wasn’t re-hashing stuff. It was keeping things fresh, incorporating new characters and that was exciting to hear because you don’t know how people are going to respond to a lot of that stuff. And the end itself, the end of the movie is such a huge surprise with suddenly the ability to sort of, do the split your soul up and spread it out to a couple of different places. It just opens up so many doors for the future as far as possibilities of what could be done. How many story lines could go on at the same time in different places, how many off shoots could you do. Could you take the Star Wars universe idea and you’ve got one through line with the main characters and then every other film that comes out, is somebody shipped a box off to Japan or to Germany or to a specific person that was referenced in another film. It seems like there actually really is a Chucky universe, in and of itself, that could be tapped into and I think this film made that really obvious.

Written and directed by Don Mancini, Cult of Chucky stars Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Michael Therriault, and Elisabeth Rosen. Cult of Chucky is available NOW!

Synopsis:
Confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for the past four years, Nica (Dourif) is wrongly convinced that she, not Chucky, murdered her entire family. But when her psychiatrist introduces a new group therapy tool — a “Good Guy” doll — a string of grisly deaths plague the asylum and Nica starts to wonder if maybe she isn’t crazy after all.

Andy (Vincent), Chucky’s now-grown up nemesis from the original Child’s Play, races to Nica’s aid. But to save her he’ll have to get past Tiffany (Tilly), Chucky’s long-ago bride, who will do anything, no matter how deadly or depraved, to help her beloved devil doll.

Special Features:

  • Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky — Viewers will discover what it was like to film inside an insane asylum and the challenges production faced on set. They’ll also hear from the cast and filmmakers as they discuss why they were attracted to this story and how the filmmakers’ vision brought this fun-filled horror film together.
  • Good Guy Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky — This featurette offers a peek into Alterian’s workshop, the studio behind Chucky’s puppeteering, to see how the magic is created and focuses on how the look of Chucky has evolved over the years.
  • Feature Commentary with Director and Writer Don Mancini and Head Puppeteer Tony Gardner.

BUY IT NOW!

Cult of Chucky

Cult of Chucky

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Last Toys on the Left

Funko Giving Jurassic Park the Pop! Treatment as Only They Can

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It is no secret we’re BIG fans of Funko’s Pop! Vinyl line here at DC HQ, and now they’ve announced a new series that has made our hearts just about burst… read on for a look at Pop! Movies: Jurassic Park, heading our way in February. The regular figures are awesome on their own, but wait until you see the exclusives!

From the Funko Blog:
Jurassic Park fans, get excited! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic film’s appearance on the silver screen, Jurassic Park is coming to Pop!

This series of Pop! features paleontologist Dr. Grant, Jurassic Park CEO John Hammond, mathematician Dr. Malcolm, and embryo-smuggler Dennis Nedry. (Keep an eye out for Dr. Ellie Sattler in Pop! Rides coming soon.)

We couldn’t forget the Jurassic Park dinosaurs! Featured in this line are the great T. rex, Velociraptor, and Dilophsaurus. Look for the Dilophosaurus chase, a rarity of 1-in-6.

Be on the lookout for exclusives. At Target you can find a wounded Dr. Malcolm, and the Dennis Nedry and Dilophosaurus 2-pack is available only at Entertainment Earth.

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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