Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built - We Visit the Home with Directors the Spierig Brothers - Dread Central
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Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built – We Visit the Home with Directors the Spierig Brothers



On an isolated stretch of land fifty miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester (Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren) heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, it is a structure that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant 24-hour a day, 7-day a week mania for decades, it stands 7 stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness.

But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece (Sarah Snook), or for her physician (Jason Clarke). No… She is assembling a prison, an asylum for a legion of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters and their legacy of bullets and death.

Based on a true story, Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built is set for release in February of 2018. But we, along with a select group of genre sites and channels, got to visit “the mystery house” – the real Winchester Mansion, and were treated to a sneak peek at what fans will see in the film.

We were given a guided tour by the directors, Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (Undead, Daybreakers, Jigsaw), not once – but twice! The first walk through took place in the amber light of late afternoon, then we returned in the dead of dark for a spooky candlelight expedition complete with recreation actors and eerie things going bump in the night.

Check out our exclusive photos, taken mostly during the day (we’re not kidding when we say the night time tour was in the dark!).

It’s really a stunning structure, and deserving of its Historical Landmark status. Before the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 toppled the top two floors, it stood 7-stories tall. Even now, it’s quite the trek from basement to belfry, with lots of stairs, twists, and turns.

When it comes to the more delicate bits of interior design, a lot of thought went in. Sarah was fascinated with the number 13 and worked the number into the house: There are 13 bathrooms, windows have 13 panes, chandeliers have 13 candles, etc. There are also dozens of daisies worked into the décor. The daisy was special to Sarah for two reasons. First, it symbolizes the initiate to spiritual awakening. Second, it is nature’s finest examples of the “hidden” number 13. Many varieties of the daisy have 13 petals. What’s more, most daisy plants have 13 branches growing out of their stalks.

The richness of history is lush and deep, begging further investigation. But for now, let’s focus on the film.

Dread Central: It seems like there would be a lot of difficult and painstaking things involved with bringing the very first Winchester major motion picture to life. Even though it’s not really a standard biopic and more about the supernatural, what was the hardest part in making it real?

The Spierig Brothers: Well, we haven’t finished it yet so the hardest part might still be coming! The shoot is always hard, you try and do a lot and the budget wasn’t that high. But really, the hardest part is crossing over to a period film. You’re trying to get that accurate and right. You can’t just go and shoot on the street. You have to get every element – costume design, production, vehicles, whatever it may be, right and when you shoot a real place, like just out here you can’t even do an aerial shot and just drop it in the movie. You have to do the aerial shot with a ton of visual effects, because the mall doesn’t exist in 1906. So the period element is really complicated part of making the movie.

DC: Since this house is so old and historic and shrouded in mystery, you must have had a hard time deciding what to fit into the runtime.

TSB: Yes. There’s a couple of things that didn’t fit into the story. If there was a sequel we’d throw them in. The Door to Nowhere is in the film, but it’s just sort of in the background. We’d love to use that some more. With a sequel, we can play with that one. But we tried to incorporate just about everything we could in the house. Even things we didn’t quite show, there’s cupboards that open up to rooms and stuff like that we’d play on that quite a bit as well. You open a closet door and it’s a window into another room and there’s things like that that are really trippy.

DC: Did you work all the staircases into the story?

TSB: Yeah. There’s the stairs that go to the ceiling that you see in the trailer. There’s certain things that are true stories in the house that you saw on the tour. But we found more doing a bit more research – that’s in the movie so I won’t spoil it for you – but there’s things that are real that we didn’t invent for the film. They’re actually part of the history of the house and Sarah Winchester. The hard thing is the house [now] doesn’t have all the rooms and stories it did before the earthquake. We don’t actually know what a lot of the rooms were for back in that time period because they were torn down, so you can assume certain things, but it was a much bigger house a hundred years ago. So much was built and torn down and rebuilt.

DC: The people who do the Winchester House tours are so great. They really get into character.

TSB: We also used some of the employees in the film, so they are actually in the movie. When we shot here at the house we put them in period costumes and got them to play maids. A lot of these people are theatre actors.

DC: You also built a set of the house in Australia. So, how much was actually filmed here in the house itself?

TSB: There’s maybe 10% at the actual house. But that 10% goes a long way because there’s a lot of big wide shots. We shot the grand ballroom, we shot a lot of the hallways. In the trailer you can shots where there’s a maid opening up the door inside that’s looking straight up [and that’s here]. There’s lots of little pieces that we put into it that we shot at the actual house and integrated it into the film. There’s gonna be a point where we forget what we actually built and what was at the house.

DC: Who from real life, aside from Sarah Winchester, do we see in the movie?

TSB: The foreman, John Hanson, is in the film and her niece Marian I. Marriott. There were a lot of gardeners and maids, aside from the construction workers. It’s interesting because when she died, no one ever said a bad thing about her. I don’t think she was ever this mean old lady. I think she was very nice and I think she really cared for her employees. We tried to make that a part of the film, that she cared for them.

The film stars Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester along with Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook, Angus Sampson, and Finn Scicluna-O’Prey. Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig directed and co-wrote the script with Tom Vaughan. Tim McGahan and Brett Tomberlin produced for CBS Films.

Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built comes out February 2, 2018.

Inspired by true events. On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester (Academy Award winner Helen Mirren), heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms.

To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness. But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece (Sarah Snook), or for the brilliant Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke), whom she has summoned to the house. She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters


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Vampire Hunter D: The Series Gets Writer For Pilot Episode



It’s been a little while since we’ve heard news about “Vampire Hunter D: The Series”, the CG-animated series based on Hideyuki Kikuchi’s titular character. However, some new news broke today over at ANN as they’ve reported that Brandon Easton, who is writing the scripts for new Vampire Hunter D comics, has been tapped by Unified Pictures to write the pilot for the series. The pilot will be based on Kikuchi’s “Mysterious Journey to the North Sea” storylines, which make up the 7th and 8th titles in the book series. Unified is making this series in conjunction with Digital Frontier, the Japanese animation studio behind the CG Resident Evil titles.

Easton told the site, “I’ve had to manage the expectations of three entities: the creator Hideyuki Kikuchi, the producers at Digital Frontier and Unified Pictures, and ultimately myself. This means that you have to find new and exciting ways of telling a story that has a set of concrete rules that have been fully established by the novels.

Meanwhile, the studio has also announced that Ryan Benjamin is taking over as the artist and colorist on the Vampire Hunter D: Message From Mars series with Richard Friend inking the issues.


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Watching A Quiet Place’s John Krasinski Get Scared by Freddy on Ellen Will Brighten Your Day



I was just researching the new Platinum Dunes horror-thriller A Quiet Place and stumbled across this video. It features the film’s writer-director and star John Krasinski getting scared by a man dressed as Freddy Krueger on “Ellen.”

It’s as much fun as it sounds, and I’m sure it will make your day. It sure as hell just brightened mine.

Give it a watch below, and then let us know what you think!

John Krasinski directs the film, which will be the opening night entry at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, TX. Emily Blunt stars alongside Krasinski, Noah Jupe, and Millicent Simmonds.

A Quiet Place will then open wide on April 6.

In the modern horror thriller A Quiet Place, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threatens their survival. If they hear you, they hunt you.


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Interview: Director Jeff Burr Revisits Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III



Director Jeff Burr was gracious enough to give us here at Dread Central a few minutes of his time to discuss the Blu-ray release of his 1990 film Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Recently dropped on 2/13, the movie has undergone the white-glove treatment, and he was all-too-happy to bring us back to when the film was being shot…and eventually diced thanks to the MPAA – so settle in, grab a cold slice of bloody meat, read on and enjoy!

DC: First off – congrats on seeing the film get the treatment it deserves on Blu-ray – you excited about it?

JB: Yeah, I’m really happy that it’s coming out on Blu-ray, especially since so many people bitch and moan about the death of physical media, and this thing made the cut, and it’s great for people to be able to see probably the best-looking version of it since we saw it in the lab back in 1989.

DC: Take us back to when you’d first gotten the news that you were tabbed to be the man to direct the third installment in this franchise – what was your first order of business?

JB: It was fairly condensed pre-production for me, and there really wasn’t a whole lot of time to think about the import or the greatness of it – it was basically just roll up your sleeves and go. It was a bit disappointing because a lot of times in pre-production you have the opportunity to dream what could be – casting had already been done, but certain decisions hadn’t been made yet. A very condensed pre-production, but exciting as hell, for sure! (laughs)

DC: R.A. Mihailoff in the role of Leatherface – was it the decision from the get-go to have him play the lead role?

JB: No – I totally had someone else in mind, even though R.A. had done a role in my student film about 7 years earlier, and we’d kept in touch, and I’d felt strongly because I’d gotten to know him a bit that Gunnar Hansen should have come back and played Leatherface, which would have given a bit more legitimacy to this third movie. He and I talked, and he had some issues with the direction that it was going – he really wanted to be involved, and it ended up boiling down to a financial thing, and it wasn’t outrageous at all – it wasn’t like he asked for the moon, but the problem was that New Line refused to pay it, categorically. I think the line producer at the time was more adamant about it than anyone, and Mike DeLuca was one of the executives on the movie, and he was really the guy that was running this, in a creative sense. I made my case for Gunner to both he and the line producer, and they flat out refused to pay him what he was asking, so after that was a done “no deal” I decided that R.A would be the right guy to step into the role. Since New Line was the arbiter of the film, he had to come in and audition for the part, and he impressed everyone and got the part. He did an absolutely fantastic job – such a joy to work with, and he was completely enthusiastic about everything.

DC: Let’s talk about Viggo Mortenson, and with this being one of his earliest roles – did you know you had something special with this guy on your set?

JB: Here’s the thing – you knew he was talented, and I’d seen him in the movie Prison way back in the early stages of development and was very impressed with him, and he was one of those guys that I think we were really lucky to get him on board with us. I really believe that The Indian Runner with he and directed by Sean Penn was the movie that truly made people stand up and notice his work. Every person in this cast was one hundred percent into this film and jumped in no questions asked when it was time to roll around in the body pits.

DC: It’s no secret about the amount of shit that the MPAA put you through in order to get this film released – can you expound on that for a minute?

JB: At the time, I believe it was a record amount of times we had to go back to the MPAA after re-cutting the film – I think it was 11 times that we went back. What a lot of people don’t realize is after Bob Shaye (President of New Line) had come into the editing room and he thought that it was very disturbing, and cut out some stuff himself. He thought that it would have been banned in every country, and it was banned in a lot of countries but so were the previous two. It was definitely on the verge of being emasculated before even being submitted to the MPAA, and I would have thought just a few adjustments here and there – maybe a couple of times to go back…but eleven? It was front-page news in the trade papers then, and I think that the overall tone of the film was looked at as being nasty. The previous film (Chainsaw 2) had actually gone out unrated, and with the first film being so notorious, I think it was a combination of all of that, and now even the most unrated version of this would be rated R – that’s how far the pendulum has swung in the other direction.

DC: Looking back at the film after all this time – what would be one thing that you’d change about the movie?

JB: Oh god – any film director worth his salt would look back at any of their films and want to change stuff up, and with this being 28 years old, I can look back and say “oh yeah, I’d change this, this and this!” You grow and learn over the course of your time directing, and this was my third movie and my first without producers that I had known, so the main thing that I’d do today would be to make it a bit more politically savvy. I had always thought that they wanted me to put my vision on this film, and that wasn’t necessarily the case, so maybe I’d navigate those political waters a little better.

DC: Last thing, Jeff – what’s keeping you busy these days? Any projects to speak of?

JB: Oh yeah, I’ve got a couple of movies that I’m working on – I’m prepping a horror movie right now, and then I’ve got a comedy film that I’m doing after that. You haven’t heard the last of me! I’ve had a real up and down (mostly down) career, but I still love it – it’s what I love to do, and it’s still great that after 28 years people still want to talk about this movie, and are still watching it – that’s the greatest gift you can get, and I thank everyone that’s seen it and talked about it over all these years.



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