Interview: Michael Ballif Talks The Witching Season and They Live Inside Us Feature - Dread Central
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Interview: Michael Ballif Talks The Witching Season and They Live Inside Us Feature

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Recently I watched an indie horror anthology series online called “The Witching Season.” The series was created by Michael Ballif and consists of 5 separate short films centered around the most beloved holiday of Halloween.

Being a fan of anthology series like “Tales from the Crypt” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” I took to Ballif’s indie-series immediately. And I think you will too.

While all 5 of the short films are f*cking fantastic in their own ways, the best of the bunch is a short called “They Live Inside Us”. This short focuses on a screenwriter locking himself within a (possibly) haunted house in the endless search for inspiration. The short got me on multiple levels and is a must-watch.

In researching the series I came across the fact that the filmmakers involved are currently planning to produce a feature film based on the anthology’s best entry The Live Inside Us.

As quickly as I could, I contacted the filmmakers and asked them if they would answer a few questions on behalf a fan of the series, such as myself. Creator Michael Ballif was kind enough to accept my request and what follows is our quick back and forth on the upcoming They Live Inside Us feature film.

Dread Central: Tell us a bit about your series The Witching Season.
Michael Ballif: It’s an anthology of short horror films, all set during the spookiest time of year—the Halloween season. It was designed as a bit of an homage to classics shows like Tales From The Crypt and Are You Afraid of the Dark? but with its own original flare. One of the main things I tried to do with the series was capture the feeling and atmosphere of the Halloween season in each episode.

DC: How did the series come about?
MB: I had been in a bit of a creative lull prior to launching the series. I had just finished a short zombie film called 2 Hours that took me nearly two years to complete (yes, probably longer than anyone should spend working on a short film). Ultimately, I was stuck trying to figure out what story I wanted to tell next. I knew that whatever it was, it needed to mean something to me personally. I found that I was most creatively engaged when I began recalling experiences of my childhood. Two key ingredients continued to emerge—horror anthologies and Halloween. I decided to pair the two together and The Witching Season was born.

DC: Tell us about They Live Inside Us.
MB: They Live Inside Us is the fourth episode of The Witching Season. It follows the story of a struggling writer who breaks and enters into a notorious haunted house in hope of finding inspiration for a new project. Haunted by his past, he soon begins to realize that he is living in his own horror story. It’s an idea that I had been working on, off and on, for a few years. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get it to work right. It took a lot of time and finding the correct group of people until it finally clicked and I managed to get it made. The film was by far the longest and most complex episode of the series, clocking in at a whopping 31 minutes.

DC: What made you decide it was time to move from shorts to features?
MB: I always knew that eventually, I wanted to make features, but I didn’t want to dive into that world until I felt I was capable of making something truly good. Short films offer a great opportunity to gain experience in the process of filmmaking with minimal investment. They are also a fantastic way to test concepts and hone your creative style. After working on The Witching Season with an incredibly talented group of hungry, creative, passionate individuals, I feel we are ready to take that next step.

DC: What can we expect from the feature-length version of They Live Inside Us?
MB: Just like the short, the feature will blend elements of classic horror with psychological, mind-bending storytelling. It takes my favorite aspects of the genre; what I consider “fun”, entertaining horror and meshes that with more serious, thought-provoking and psychological ideas. The feature will tackle the same general premise, but with some new elements tied in. I have some new characters in mind and different ways of visualizing some of the ideas we explored in the short. I’d also like to expand and enhance the stories the writer is constructing. You should also expect a return of Choppy The Clown, the Scarecrow, and the Slasher, all more fully realized than we were capable of in the short.

DC: They Live Inside Us comes from a quote by Stephen King. If you could adapt one King story for the screen, what would it be?
MB: IT, for sure. Although now is probably the worst time ever to say that, haha. The newest adaptation was obviously a major hit that most everybody loved, including myself. The story just ticks all the boxes for me; coming of age horror with darker tones, humor, and psychological elements. I absolutely love the 90s IT Miniseries, too. Maybe we’ll be ready for another reboot 27 years from now. Pennywise is due to return, after all.

***

You can check out all 5 episodes of Michael Ballif’s “The Witching Season” right HERE, including of course the short film “They Live Inside Us”.

After looking through all of that, make sure to hit us up and let us know which short was YOUR favorite in the comments below!

Michael Ballif and his team are currently running an IndieGoGo campaign to secure the final bits of financing for the They Live Inside Us feature film. As of today, they have extended the deadline another week. Help them out if you can!

You can contribute right HERE.

Thanks for chatting with us, Michael!

Synopsis:

Fueled by nostalgia, this anthology of short horror films tells original tales of terror set during the Halloween season.

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POLL: Who Should Direct Wan and King’s TOMMYKNOCKERS?

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It was just last month that we learned James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) is going to be producing a new big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers.

While I’m sad that it seems Wan will not be directing the film, I think it’s a great time to bring up the question: Well, then who the hell SHOULD?

You can find my top 3 choices below and then make sure to let us know who you think should direct James Wan’s upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

ABC mini-series’ executive producer Larry Sanitsky: “It is an allegorical tale of addiction (Stephen was struggling with his own at the time), the threat of nuclear power, the danger of mass hysteria and the absurdity of technical evolution run amuck. All are as relevant today as the day the novel was written. It is also a tale about the eternal power of love and the grace of redemption.”

Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers will be produced by James Wan (The Conjuring), Roy Lee (Stephen King’s IT) and the ABC mini-series’ executive producer Larry Sanitsky.

Synopsis:

A town in Maine that falls under the influence of a dangerous gas from an unearthed spacecraft. The gas begins to transform the people, giving them enhanced abilities, but also making them violent and subject to an alien hive mentality. One man, thanks to a steel plate in his head, is immune to the effects and tries to stop the townspeople.

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Guess Who Just Snagged Wan and King’s New TOMMYKNOCKERS

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Earlier this month we passed along the exciting news that that none other than James Wan plans to bring Stephen King’s novel The Tommyknockers back to the screen.

Wan will be producing (but not at this time, directing) the film along with Roy Lee (IT) and the original ABC mini-series’ executive producer Larry Sanitsky.

And today Deadline reports Universal won the bidding war over the new adaptation, barely beating out fellow heavyweights Sony and Netflix. And thus Universal, home of the classic movie monsters, will be bringing us Wan and King’s first (and hopefully not last) collaboration.

Are you excited by this news? Do you think Universal is the right fit for this new film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Synopsis:

A town in Maine that falls under the influence of a dangerous gas from an unearthed spacecraft. The gas begins to transform the people, giving them enhanced abilities, but also making them violent and subject to an alien hive mentality. One man, thanks to a steel plate in his head, is immune to the effects and tries to stop the townspeople.

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PUPPET MASTER Reboot Gets Theatrical Release Date!

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Puppet Master: Littlest Reich

The upcoming reboot of Full Moon’s classic Puppet Master just premiered at the Overlook Film Festival and is said to “maintain all of the brutally inventive puppet-kills infused with the comedic tendencies that made the original franchise so popular with fans while expanding upon Toulon’s backstory and developing richer dialogue, characters, and narratives.”

I’m looking forward to the film and if you’re like me then you’ll be excited to hear Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich looks like it will be heading it’s tiny way into theaters this summer via RLJE Films! More specifically the film will be hitting in August of this year.

“We are incredibly excited to be able to bring the first film under the new Fangoria brand to audiences this summer,” RLJE Films’ Chief Acquisitions Officer Mark Ward said in a statement. “With an amazing script from S. Craig Zahler and performances from horror legends Barbara Crampton and Udo Kier, we know Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich will thrill fans of the original films and new audiences alike.

Are you excited to check out Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich in theaters this August? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

The reimagining is directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund from a script written by S. Craig Zahler and stars Thomas Lennon, Jenny Pellicer, Nelson Franklin, Charlyne Yi, Michael Pare, Udo Kier, and Barbara Crampton. The film is produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian.

RLJE Films plans to release the movie in theaters in August 2018.

Synopsis:

In Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, recently divorced and reeling, Edgar (Lennon) returns to his childhood home to regroup his life. When Edgar finds a nefarious looking puppet in his deceased brother’s room, he decides to sell the doll for some quick cash at a small-town convention celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders. Girl-next-door Ashley (Pellicer) and his comic book shop boss, Markowitz (Franklin), join Edgar for the doomed road trip. All hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets at the convention, setting them on a bloody killing spree that’s motivated by an evil as old as time.

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