Exclusive: Writer/Director Sion Sono Talks Cold Fish - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Writer/Director Sion Sono Talks Cold Fish

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If you’re a fan of writer/director Sion Sono’s work, you know one thing is for sure: He always seems to push the boundaries of storytelling when crafting his cinematic vision. From 2001’s Suicide Club, which featured a gaggle of Japanese schoolgirls jumping in front of a moving train, leaving onlookers dripping in blood, to 2007’s Exte, a movie about killer hair extensions that was as gruesome as hell.

In his latest film, Cold Fish (review here), Sono manages to continue to challenge audiences and push the boundaries of sex and violence while exploring the human condition.

For those of you who may not have had the opportunity to experience Cold Fish for yourselves just yet, the film is centered around struggling family man Shamoto, who gets mixed up in the world of a Japanese crime boss named Murata, which has devastating consequences for Shamoto and the family he’s desperately trying to do right by.
Recently Dread Central had an opportunity to talk with Sono about his latest directorial endeavor, if he ever had any concerns about boundaries when making Cold Fish and what project the masterful storyteller is working on for his next feature film.

Since Cold Fish was a project loosely based on a real serial killer in Japan, we asked Sono to discuss what it was about this story in particular that spoke to him when creating the script and just how much the feature film’s story parallels what really happened. “The producer of Cold Fish introduced me to the events that the movie was based on. At first I didn’t think it sounded that interesting to me, but as I wrote the script and the true story evolved into the story in the movie, I saw its potential.”

“The main character of Shamoto was entirely fictional, though; he’s one I made up on my own because in these kinds of tragic true events, someone is always the bad guy, and you rarely hear about the good guys. So what I wanted to do was take this person (Shamoto) who essentially is a good person and surround him with these bad people and see what would happen from there,” added Sono.

With Sono being one of the leading visionary directors working in Japan these days (in addition to being a world-renowned poet), we asked him to talk about his use of imagery throughout Cold Fish where the filmmaker would often balance out the gritty and destructive events unfolding around Shamoto with stunning shots of aquatic life and religious imagery.

“I liked the idea of shooting and using the tropical fish in the film because when you look at them, they are such beautiful creatures, but they also have a dangerous side to them as well,” explained Sono. “For example, if you were to stick your finger in the tank, they will attack you. They definitely relate to the character of Murata. He has this appearance of being a very nice, easy-going kind of man who’s easy to get close to because he seems so inviting, but he’s actually a very evil and dangerous man. So if you get too close to him, Murata will most likely do something very bad to you.”

“The religious imagery that was used in Cold Fish was a reflection of the kind of person Murata was. He had this trauma when he was young in the cabin where he now kills, but he’s still very much attached the power of this trauma any time he goes back to that house. The crosses, for example, were associated with Murata’s father, and the reason they were still hanging everywhere in the house was because it was like his father was still there, watching what kind of man Murata was becoming,” added Sono.

Undoubtedly, Cold Fish is one of the more brutal and explicit films of 2011. The film features plenty of grisly murders, sexual taboos being explored, several dismemberment scenes, one of the more messed up rape scenes this writer has seen in the last five years and a suicide to boot. Sono discussed whether or not he even thinks about boundaries when creating a story. “Thinking about social boundaries and those kinds of limitations when telling a story would have resulted in a far more boring film, I think. The perspective of the events of Cold Fish come from Shamoto’s point of view so that’s really the only limit I put on the level of sexual violence in the film. I just made sure that everything you saw that was shocking was coming from what Shamoto was experiencing himself so I didn’t show anything additional in the scenes where characters were chopping up bodies- what the audience sees is what Shamoto sees. Everything that may be shocking in nature in the movie is integral to the story I wanted to tell.”

“I know that I am not a mainstream kind of director at all. I don’t make romantic movies or family movies so I think if mainstream audiences came to see my films, they would be shocked. I know that there is a specific kind of audience that comes to see my movies so I never try to make something for the mainstream; I make it for the audiences that are looking for something a little different than a regular movie. Anyone who knows my work as a director knows what’s in store for them when they come to see my films,” added Sono.

Now that Cold Fish is enjoying a limited theatrical release in selected AMC Theaters courtesy of the fine people at Bloody Disgusting Selects, Sono talked about what he’s looking forward to directing next.

“I’ve been talking with several US producers to make my next movie here in America so that’s the next thing I’m looking forward to,” said Sono. “It’ll be in English and have American actors, and I’m not planning on changing my filmmaking style at all either so I’ll be staying true to the kind of stories I like to tell as a director. The movies I’d like to make here are the ones that explore some of the more American-type taboos and see how far I can push the boundaries here in cinema.”

You can catch Cold Fish in theatres at the following locations:

NY: August 5 thru 12. Check local listings for show times.
-reRun Gastropub Theater, 147 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

LA: August 6 and 7. Check local listings for show times.
-Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 90036. (323)655-2510

Austin: August 15 thru 18. Check local listings for show times.
-Alamo Drafthouse, 1120 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin TX 78704. (512)476-1320

Phoenix: August 19 thru 20. Check local listings for show times.
-The Royale, 108 W. Main St., Mesa, AZ 85201

Salem, MA: August 26 thru Sept. 1. Check local listings for show times.
-Cinema Salem, 1 East India Square, Salem MA 01970 (978)744-0660

After that look for it on DVD and iTunes August 23rd. VOD fans can catch it as it begins to spread from September 23rd through November 22nd.

Exclusive: Writer/Director Sion Sono Talks Cold Fish

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DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

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Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review: A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

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Kevin Bacon Lets Us Know the Tremors Reboot Pilot Has Wrapped Filming

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Two weeks ago we let you guys know that Tremors mainstay Michael Gross, aka Burt Gummer, was, unfortunately, not asked to be a part of the upcoming Syfy reboot series starring Kevin Bacon.

While that news upsets us a bit, being that the series has only filmed its pilot episode, we feel that there is still a big chance we could see Burt return to kick some more Graboids in the tentacle-thingies with elephant guns.

Fingers crossed.

Speaking of the “Tremors Syfy pilot, recently star Kevin Bacon took to Instagram to let us all know that filming has wrapped!

You can check out The Bacon’s post below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are for Syfy’s “Tremors” series in the comments below!

In the Tremors follow-up, written by Andrew Miller, the killer Graboid worms that nearly destroyed Perfection, NV, 25 years ago are back; and the town’s only hope for survival is Valentine McKee (Bacon), who beat them once. But to do it again he’ll have to overcome age, alcohol, and a delusional hero complex.

“Tremors” the TV series is headed our way courtesy of Jason Blum’s Blumhouse TV and Universal Cable Prods.

We’ll let you know when we hear more about the series!

So long to NM. Had an amazing time shooting this pilot. Hope I can keep walking in these boots #Tremors

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