Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights
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In our further coverage of the 2011 Eyegore Awards held this past Friday, September 23rd, at the Globe Theater at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California (see our report of the award ceremony itself here, courtesy of our own Heather Wixson), this writer hit the event as well and brought back some ocular candy from the carpet as well as interviews with a few of the night’s principals from the same.
Paying respect to some of horror’s most venerated players and notable newcomers, the event was hosted (as it has been in years past) by The Lost Boys co-star Corey Feldman (who arrived with two blondes and attired in a hybrid glam/matador get-up) and attended by celebrity presenters Thomas Jane (The Mist), filmmaker and musician Rob Zombie, James Gunn (Slither, Super), Calico Cooper (daughter of shock-rocker Alice Cooper) and Frozen and Hatchet director Adam Green.
Also on the carpet were Eyegore 2011 award recipients David Arquette (the Scream series), Rainn Wilson (House of 1000 Corpses), Jamie Kennedy (Scream), Bailee Madison (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) and Emma Bell (Final Destination 5 and “The Walking Dead”), as were The Thing (2011) stars Mary Winstead Elizabeth and Kim Bubbs and effects team (comprised of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr.), chatting up the flick in anticipation of its October 14th theatrical release. Bridget Marquardt (“The Girls Next Door”), Christopher Knight, Derek Mears (Friday the 13th), Tyler Mane (RZ’s Halloween films), actor/producer Tom Malloy, Fright Night director Tom Holland and Halloween Horror Night’s Creative Director John Murdy also made it to the event, as did actresses Sheri Moon Zombie, Bella Thorne and Karen Black, Chillerama directors Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch and Tim Sullivan and Hostel creator Eli Roth.
“It’s nice to see you!” said Roth, looking snazzy in a black tie as we chatted on the carpet. “I’m really excited about the maze (Hostel: Hunting Season is Halloween Horror Night’s recreation of Roth’s film series’ more grisly set pieces), and I can’t wait [to tour it]. I’ve been dreaming of doing a maze, and I pitched this idea last year at the Eyegore Awards, and it’s all come together. It’s really exciting.”
We queried Roth on whether during the writing of Hostel (a flick that enraged mainstream critics, who labeled it ‘torture porn’ at the time of its release) he ever envisioned it becoming so woven into the tapestry of pop culture that it would become a Universal attraction, to which he replied, “No! I mean, when we were making it, we thought that if the film made it into ten theaters that we would have been lucky because there hadn’t been anything near that level of gore [in widely releasing genre fare]. To see it here as a maze is surreal, but it also shows that people are able to separate movie violence from real violence … and how far the genre has come. It’s the fans that made this happen. It’s that there is a demand for these films, and these films can apparently live on in another form and in another incarnation. I mean, if you’ve seen Hostel and it no longer scares you, you can actually have that experience here and be terrified.”
On the future of the Hostel series (Hostel 3 was shot last year in Detroit, Michigan, although to date has yet to receive a release), “I haven’t seen it, but my thoughts are, if the fans want it to continue, then that’s great,” offered Roth. “Once you make something and you put it out in the public, it kinda belongs to them, and part of horror is continuing the franchise, and even though I’m no longer involved and it’s in Scotty Spiegel’s hands and all of my friends are doing it, I actually have kept myself completely in the dark about it so I can experience it like a fan, just like everyone else.”
Of the two features Roth is attached to in a producer capacity, one being director Nicolas Lopez’s Chilean earthquake thriller Aftershock and the other director John Watts’ supernatural/slasher feature Clown, he had this to say, “Both are in the pre pre-production phase, but next year they are going to start shooting, probably Aftershock first and then Clown.”
With November just around the corner, we couldn’t help but question Roth on the status of the feature version of Thanksgiving, a film which genre fans have for the most part been clamoring for since its Grindhouse faux trailer in 2007, and one which the filmmaker has been teasing ever since.
“My co-writer and I have finished the script,” said Roth, “and we are working [on getting it into production]. He and I have known each other since we were five, though, so the conversation often turns very silly when we sit down to have a serious conversation about anything.”
Chatting with Tom Malloy on the carpet (who appeared alongside Eliza Dushku in the flick The Alphabet Killer), “My company Trick Candle Productions will be doing three to five films in the next five years,” said the actor/producer of his in-development productions, “and I can guarantee that at least two of those films will be scary movies. I think horror fans are the best in the world. They aren’t ‘star-based’ and they don’t give a shit if Jake Gyllenhaal or whoever is in the damned movie. They care if it’s scary, and so being here tonight at Halloween Horror Nights feels like a big reunion for me.”
Speaking with director Tom Holland, who’s collaborating with Malloy on one of those projects, “We met each other at the DGA, when they had a digital day when they were showing off all of the new digital cams,” said the Fright Night filmmaker of his introduction to Malloy. “I really liked his The Alphabet Killer film.”
Holland remained tight-lipped on the narrative of his and Malloy’s upcoming feature collaboration (which he’s been tapped to direct), although he was forthcoming when asked of his thoughts on this year’s Fright Night remake, and its poor box office take.
”I thought they did a terrific job [with making the film],” Holland reflected of the Craig Gillespie-directed redux. “I just don’t think Dreamworks or Disney supported it at all. I don’t think they publicized it all that well. They gave it a big theatre break, but you couldn’t find anything about it in the mainstream media, which was very odd because the people that loved [the original] and originally saw it would be anywhere from thirty to forty-two years old maybe, and that’s a slightly older demographic than just the people [they marketed to] on the web, and they didn’t reach out [to that older demographic] at all. So I don’t know. Maybe they ignored [the original audience]; I just don’t know.”
Speaking with director Tim Sullivan, who’s currently touring the country with his horror/comedy anthology Chillerama (which premiered September 15th in Hollywood), “We are here first and foremost as fans,” he stated of the evening’s energy. “We are all bonded because of our love for the horror genre, and for me, with all due respect to all of the other films, to be standing here at Halloween Horror Nights on the carpet next to Tom Holland, who directed Fright Night, which is my favorite 80’s horror movie, is amazing!”
As for the Chillerama ‘Roadshow’, “We just screened it in Chicago at a drive-in, and since the movie is about a movie on a drive-in screen and we played it at an actual drive-in, to watch the audience instead of clapping their hands instead honk their horns and flash their headlights was amazing!” said the filmmaker. “We did our Q&A on a flat-bed truck and (actor) Anton Troy sang a song from ‘I Was a Teenage Werebear’ (Sullivan’s segment of the multi-director film), and I literally felt like I was in a time machine. We were in lawn chairs in the front and they kept bringing us out Fosters and nachos, and it was like, ‘Who wants to watch a movie at home when you can watch it like that?’ We want to bring Chillerama back to L.A. and do the Tiki Drive-In and The Vineland Drive-In. That would be fantastic.”
The man of the hour, however, was of course John Murdy, who since 2006 has been producing the park’s mazes and scare-zones, which are the heart of Halloween Horror Nights; and we spoke with him briefly regarding this year’s attractions.
“I started to think, ‘I’m forty-four years old, and I’m not going to be able to do this forever,’” said the event’s Creative Director of the workload he’s faced, regardless of his infectious enthusiasm for the material, “so I wanted to start talking about this experience with our fans and took to my Twitter account. There are a lot of fans that want to do this for a living, and there really is no school for it – it’s all experience based. So I’m sharing the whole production process with our fans this year, in hopes that the next generation will pick up the torch and carry it forward. I want to help the kids that are at home dreaming of doing this, to maybe give them some tips, and to help them to do this, because it takes a lot.”
Halloween Horror Nights runs through October 31, 2011.
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