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Fairuza Balk Talks Return to Oz Documentary

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Thirty-two years ago, Disney’s Return to Oz premiered in theatres and managed to scare the living hell out of children across the globe. Between the terrifying images of the Wheelers and Princess Mombi’s hall of stolen heads (not to mention allegations of botched electroshock therapy, of which Dorothy Gale is almost a victim)… at first glance, there is no obvious rainbow to be found in the film. Not a sequel to the Judy Garland musical but an adaption of L. Frank Baum’s second and third Oz books, Return to Oz is a dark fantasy (emphasize dark, at least by Disney standards) released in the midst of such films as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth; a precursor to the type of family film that Tim Burton would become known for.

But Return to Oz was not an initial success. Audiences seemed incapable of disassociating the film with the 1939 version and because of the “joyless” subject matter, critics were almost unanimously negative. The film began development in 1980 under the direction of Walter Murch, the Oscar-winning film and sound editor behind such films as American Graffiti, The Godfather: Part II, and Apocalypse Now

Around this time, Disney was attempting to shed the negative notions of its image. The world had changed since Walt Disney’s death in 1966 and in turn, so did audiences’ interests. The whacky family comedies of the ’50s and ’60s couldn’t sustain the company any longer, going up against the gritty-heavy releases of the ’70s (not to mention, competition from other non-Disney children’s entertainment). Films like The Black Hole, The Watcher in the Woods, and Something Wicked This Way Comes had attempted to break new ground, ultimately proving to be disappointments, but it was at this time in the company’s history that brought forth a rather confusing project like Return to Oz. During the course of production (which included budget overruns, financial cuts, and at one point, the firing and eventual rehiring of the director), the Disney company had went through two series of management changes (deemed a necessity given the company’s dire prospects at the time). This left final studio heads, Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenburg, unsure of what to make of this upcoming film. Despite a gala premiere at Radio City Music Hall, promotion was relatively weak given the uncertainty of how to market the film. Coupled with the negative reviews, mainstream audiences predominantly forgot about this gem post-release.

Fortunately, Return to Oz has come to thrive with repeated DVD viewings, continually frightening new audiences while also coming to be more warmly embraced. In her film debut, The Craft‘s Fairuza Balk gives a captivating performance as the stoic Dorothy Gale; the characters of Tik-Tok and Jack Pumpkinhead are brought to life to perfection via alumni of the Jim Henson company, and David Shire’s hauntingly beautiful score remains powerful all these years later.

To underline the post-release success, Family Film Productions is currently in the midst of shooting a documentary titled Remembering Return to Oz, which focuses on the history and legacy of this Disney cult classic. We recently caught up with Fairuza Balk to chat about the project, and while she says she hasn’t shot her portion of the interviews yet, she is excited at the prospect of her debut film receiving the documentary treatment. “It’s wonderful because I’m very proud of Return to Oz. At the time the film came out, it was very controversial and it’s really wonderful to see there’s such a huge fan base now, and that it’s being appreciated because Walter Murch is a genius. I love the movie and I’m very proud and happy to see there is a documentary in the making about it. I was a child so it’s been a long time and I’m sure there’s plenty of stories from other crew members that I’d love to hear from.” 

Balk also took the time to reflect on one of her favorite memories of shooting. “It was my birthday and I was sad because I was working. I had thought that my mom and everyone had forgotten and I was trying to be a little trooper and not say anything. And then at lunch, Robbie Barnett, who played one of the Wheelers… He came out dressed as a giant bunny on stilts with an enormous carrot. He picked me up and put me up on his shoulders and walked me around on the stilts, and he brought out a big birthday cake and everybody wished me happy birthday. I was just so, so surprised and felt so loved. It’s a very, very pristine and clear memory of how they treated me on that film and how protective and loving everyone was. You hear these horror stories about what kids go through on movies and it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone treated me like I was their kid. It was wonderful.”

Scheduled to be released next year, Remembering Return to Oz will also include interviews with director Walter Murch, producers Gary Kurtz and Paul Manslansky, composer David Shire, and actors Emma Ridley (Ozma), Justin Case (Scarecrow), Deep Roy (The Tinwoodsman), Denise Bryer (voice of Billina), Sophie Ward (Mombi #2), Fiona Victory (Mombi #3), Pons Maar (Lead Wheeler), Lyle Conway and Brian Henson (son of Muppets creator Jim Henson), who were the puppeteers and voices for the Gump and Jack Pumpkinhead, respectively. For more on the doc, be sure to check out the official Remembering Return to Oz Facebook page for further updates!

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Exclusive: Rocky Gray Talks Halloween Horror Anthology 10/31

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The last time we gave you guys word on the upcoming Halloween horror anthology 10/31 was to bring you the knock-out exclusive official poster, which you can peep to your left (click for a higher-res version).

The new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S and Creepshow joins an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is executive produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

The film’s stories are directed by the likes of Justin M. Seaman (The Barn), Zane Hershberger (Devilution), John William Holt (The Dooms Chapel Horror), Brett DeJager (Bonejangles) and Rocky Gray making his directing debut.

This past weekend we were able to catch up with producer-director Rocky Gray and ask him a few choice questions about the anticipated upcoming anthology film.

You can check out our quick interview below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are to check out 10/31 in the comments below!

Dread Central: How is the film coming along?

Rocky Gray: The film is now completed and we are getting the perks out to our Indiegogo backers. The backers and Death By Festival got to see the first cut of the film in October and they loved it so we’re very excited to get the film out to everyone else very soon.

DC: What can expect from this anthology?

RG: Expect to have a lot of Halloween themed fun. Each segment has its own flavor so the pacing and the look change throughout the film. With masked killers, vampires, scarecrows, tricksters and old hags there’s something for everyone.

DC: Will there be a sequel?

RG: If there was a demand for it we would make it happen!

Sounds good to us. Thanks for chatting with us, Rocky!

You can become a fan of the film on Facebook HERE.

SYNOPSIS:
A Halloween treat bag of all the things that go bump in the night. From masked killers to scarecrows, witches, and tricksters. There’s a scare for everyone in this anthology of horror and the macabre from the creators of The Barn and Volumes of Blood.

Red Letter Entertainment, Inc. brings you the directorial debut from Rocky Gray (composer of The Barn, Killing Floor 2), two-time Grammy-winning musician and former drummer for Evanescence. A new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S/ and Creepshow brings an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is Executive Produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

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The Duffer Brothers Have Begun Working on Stranger Things 3

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I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of the first season of Netflix and The Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things” to tell you the truth. That said, I absolutely loved the second season (read our reviews HERE).

It is with this in mind that we are all looking forward to “Stranger Things 3”.

Recently Deadline reported that at Vulture Festival LA the Duffer Brothers, producer Shawn Levy, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Reiser, and Linnea Berthelsen talked about season two and teased season three.

“We are [in] very early days on season three, and we’re still figuring it out,” Ross Duffer said, before taking a beat, then adding: “I probably wasn’t supposed to say that. That’s not official; that wasn’t an official announcement — we’re just working on it, just for our own amusement… for fun!”

Whatever.

We all know at this point that there is going to be a “Stranger Things 3” and that The Duffer Brothers will one day begin working on it. Don’t worry so much, Ross Duffer.

After all, your brother already let us know that season three will begin after a time jump:

“Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn’t,” says Matt Duffer. “Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They’re going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can’t start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. It’s a long way of saying that yeah, we’re going to do a time jump.”

What did you think of “Stranger Things 2”? Did you dig it more (or less) than season one? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

“Stranger Things 2” is currently streaming on Netflix.

Synopsis:
It’s 1984, and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana, are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down, but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

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James Cameron’s Terminator Reboot/Sequel Hires Screenwriter

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The last word we brought you guys on producer James Cameron and Deadpool-director Tim Miller’s new Terminator film was when we let you know that Paramount had set the film’s release date for July 26, 2019.

Today we have news via The Wrap that the studio is bringing in screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) to pen the movie’s script based on a story crafted by Cameron.

You may remember that Cameron and Miller created a writers room a while back to plan out an all-new trilogy of films, but while that writer’s room included David Goyer, Charles Eglee, and Josh Friedman, it seems like Ray will be the first film’s sole writer. For now.

Story details are, of course, being kept under wraps, but Cameron and Miller are treating the new movie as a direct sequel to Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day.

“This is a continuation of the story from ‘Terminator 1’ and ‘Terminator 2.’ And we’re pretending the other films were a bad dream,” Cameron told THR. “Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse.”

We also know that Cameron plans to center the new film/trilogy around a new group of younger characters, who will eventually carry on the baton as it were.

“A lot of this is handing off the baton to a new generation of characters,” Cameron said. “We’re starting a search for an 18-something young woman to essentially be the new centerpiece of these stories. And then a number of other characters around her and characters from the future. We still fold time in the story in intriguing ways. But we have Arnold’s character and Linda’s character to anchor it.”

How excited are you for James Cameron’s new Terminator flick? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social mdeia!

The new Terminator film is produced by James Cameron and will be directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool). The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.

Terminator 2.5 is expected to hit July 26, 2019.

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