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Shriekfest 2011: Exclusive Q&A with Filmmakers Mike Bradecich and John LaFlamboy

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Shriekfest Film Festival

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In The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue (which has to be one of the catchier names on the indie horror scene these days), we meet down on their luck brothers Jarman (LaFlamboy) and Marion (Bradecich). Following a failed stint raising llamas, Jarman has just returned to the rapidly depopulating Chicago building managed by his deadpan brother, Marion, who’s got his own struggles to contend with.

See, the gas has just been shut off in the building, and Marion’s been left to deal with the fact that their building’s electricity is being stolen from a church next door. The only tenants that remain are a generally disagreeable bunch including a couple of cranky oldsters (including horror icon Robert Englund), a prostitute and an apartment full of stoners.

As if all of that weren’t enough to deal with, the brothers suddenly realize that all the pets in the building are disappearing at an alarming rate, and after witnessing the film’s titular creature trying to seize a small dog through a mail slot, they set out to capture the creature. What they didn’t plan for was that the “Mole Man” would still be hungry once the pet supply ran out, and he’s now set his sights on the human residents so it’s up to reluctant heroes Jarman and Marion to capture and kill the “Mole Man” before there’s no one left to pay rent!

After recently screening in Chicago (Flashback Weekend), Atlanta (Atlanta Horror Film Festival) and Iowa City (Landlocked Film Festival), the horror-comedy The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue is set to make its West Coast premiere during the 2011 Shriekfest Film Festival on Saturday, October 1st, at 2:00 pm.

Dread Central recently caught up with Second City Chicago alum Bradecich and Zombie Army Productions founder LaFlamboy to chat with the pair about their feature film debut, how the concept behind The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue came about and their plans to continue working in the realm of horror comedies.

Dread Central: Let’s start at the beginning for both of you- can you talk about what brought you into the industry and, more specifically, how did you guys meet and decide to collaborate on movies together?

Mike Bradecich: We met each other doing theater in college at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. We started collaborating with each other and a core group of friends then and have continued working with those people ever since. John and I both started doing on-camera work as actors in Chicago, getting agents through theater work and just auditioning whenever the chance came up. Then we started making shorts as a means to give ourselves the opportunity to act and write and direct, knowing it would be a much longer road if we waited for someone else to give us those opportunities. After we had built up some experience and a network of people that we loved working with, we felt like it was time to make a feature.

DC: Where did you guys come up with the idea for The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue? Was the game plan always that you guys would co-direct and star in the flick too?

Bradecich: The idea came the same way that we always got the ideas for our shorts, which was by looking at the assets we had on hand and figuring out from there what we could make using those people and materials and locations. Since college John has been designing and operating some of the largest and most popular haunted houses in the Midwest so horror was a natural fit. I had spent the last few years working at a sketch comedy and improv theater in Chicago called Second City so comedy was another natural fit. With the designers and artists John knew, the comedic actors I knew and access to this great old building on the south side of Chicago, John put the initial idea together and pitched it to me. I thought it the dumbest idea I’d ever hear for a movie, but after a couple more drinks John started talking me into it. Once I saw that the monster could be a device to set these two idiot characters into motion, the potential for having fun with it quickly became clearer and clearer.

John LaFlamboy: The original concept came from a short flight from Chicago to St. Louis, three Jack and Cokes and the insatiable desire to make a feature film with Mike. I started with casting us, creating a ridiculous monster and then built the idea around our own assets. I took my original Southwest Airline napkin to the bar to pitch the idea to Mike, and he did not like it. He told me that it didn’t sound funny at all so I bought another round and pitched it again. After the third round Mike did what I count on him to do so often; he took my ridiculous loosely formed idea and turned it into a smart and funny script. I am glad he let me pitch it three times; otherwise, I would still be holding on to that napkin.

DC: How quickly did the project get off the ground once you guys had your script together? Since you both wear so many hats in this project (writers/producers/co-directors/actors), how did you balance all of those responsibilities between the two of you?

Bradecich: We started writing the script in November of 2008, knowing that we would start shooting in the summer of 2009. We met once a week to hash out an outline, and once that was done, it wasn’t long before we had a first draft, which we just kept revising until there was no more time to revise and we had to start committing to pre-production on the script we had. Luckily, by that time we were pretty happy with what we had.

The balance of responsibilities worked surprisingly well and worked very much the same way in the writing, on set and in the editing. Usually one of us had a very strong feeling about the way a line or a shot or a cut should go, and the other would defer. Most of the time we were on the same page about the way things should go since we had conceived of the thing together from the very beginning of the process. On the rare occasion we differed, the one who was more emphatic always won out. It was all very 50/50.

When we started getting our hands full with all the aspects we were overseeing, we also had great people working with us that we were eager to get input from. Our AD Jeff Hadick gave a lot of great input to the acting, having also come out of Second City. Our DP Nance Jordan had a lot of great ideas with the look of the movie, and our actors needed very little direction because they were all just so brilliant. John and I wore a lot of hats, but we had a lot of help putting and keeping them on our heads.

DC: Can you talk a little bit about how Robert Englund and some of the “Strangers With Candy” alumni came on board the project?

Bradecich: The “Strangers With Candy” guys (David Pasquesi and Gregory Hollimon) are both from the Second City/Chicago comedy scene, and so our casting directors in Chicago (Mickie Pascal and Jennifer Rudnicke) had great relationships with them.

Our LA casting director Rachel Tenner put the script out to Robert, and we were just lucky that the right people got it into his hands and he had an immediate sense of the character. He knew how he should dress, where he was coming from, tons of stuff that hadn’t even occurred to us in the writing. So the short answer is just that we asked and they, luckily for us, said yes!

DC: Had you guys always intended to make Mole Man on the independent level? Did you ever consider taking it to the studios at any point?

Bradecich: No, we wrote it very specifically knowing that we were going to make it ourselves. Like I said before, it was written to take advantage of the assets that we knew we could get our hands on. The only big questions were with equipment and post-production. We had relationships with people that worked with our producing partner, Resolution Digital Studios, so we knew we could at least get a meeting there to pitch the idea of them coming on as a partner, and luckily that meeting turned into what has been an incredibly relationship. We would have made the movie if they hadn’t provided the cameras, lights, gear and post-production, but I have no idea how we would have.

DC: Talk a little bit about what your experiences have been so far with screening the movie during other conventions and fests. How does it feel to be making your West Coast debut this weekend as part of Shriekfest?

LaFlamboy: The Mole Man has been making friends on the festival tour. I am constantly surprised by the reception that it is getting. We have made fans in the horror world, comedy crowd and the coveted demographic of high school/college kids. We have recently been honored with the “Best Directors Award” at Atlanta Horror Film Festival and “Best Comedy Horror” at Chicago Horror Film Festival. But I must say that the moment I realized we had something going on was when I began to hear people quoting the film several days after seeing it.

Bradecich: We are VERY excited to be at Shriekfest, so excited that we hired a PR person specifically to help us promote here and at the other fests we have coming up for the rest of the year. To be screening at a festival here in Hollywood that has such a great reputation and history is really huge for us in terms of letting people know that this movie exists. And that’s the big challenge- just letting people know that we’re here among all the other things being made right now. The reception we’ve gotten at festivals so far has been very good- people are really enjoying the movie so we know that there’s an audience out there; it’s just a matter of making sure they know we’re here and can get their hands on the movie once it’s available.

DC: What’s up next for you guys, and more specifically, do you see yourselves continuing to collaborate as closely as you did on this movie on future projects?

Bradecich: We definitely plan to keep working together. This experience, for being at this budget level and for being a first feature for both of us, was WAY more fun that it had a right to be. It should have been a nightmare, but it just made us instantly ready to do it again.

Before we made Mole Man, we shot a trailer for another comedy/ horror called Haunted House: The Movie, and the feature version of that will probably be our next project once we’re finished ushering Mole Man into the world. We are anxious to apply what we learned on our first movie to our next one and to exploit the great talent pool in Chicago once again. It’s a great place to make movies, and we’re also excited to do our small part in making sure the rest of the world is aware of that.

For more information on The Mole Man of Belmont Avenue check out MoleManMovie.com.

Shriekfest 2011:  Exclusive Q&A with Filmmakers Mike Bradecich and John LaFlamboy

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases: November 21, 2017

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We have kind of a slow week for you, folks. Aside from 1957’s Daughter Of Dr. Jekyll, all seven of our other releases are from the past five years, and I hate to admit this but I don’t know much about them.

I can say that American Mary, is always a fun title to watch. Fans of Katharine Isabelle, take notice. You can grab this on both Blu-ray and DVD.

For more information on some of this week’s other titles, from other Dread Central contributors, check out the following links:

Dark Signal

The Night Watchmen

Scarecrowd

And

Under The Bed

Keep checking back each week, folks. Next week is another smaller list but they will begin picking up again for the Christmas season. As always, pleasant viewing.



MOVIES:

American Mary (2012)

Starring:

Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk

Synopsis:

Strapped for cash while putting herself through medical school, medical student Mary Mason takes a job as a waitress at a strip bar, run by Billy Barker. As she becomes increasingly disillusioned with her studies, Billy introduces Mary to a new and extremely lucrative sideline, performing extreme body modifications to an odd collection of flesh-obsessed characters. Subsequently forced to drop out of medical school, she soon takes refuge in her new career. But as her demeanor steadily darkens, and her actions take on an altogether more vengeful twist, she begins to be known and feared as ‘Bloody Mary’.

BUY IT NOW!


Dark Signal (2016)

Starring:

Siwan Morris, Gareth David-Lloyd, Joanna Ignaczewska, Duncan Pow

Synopsis:

The spirit of a murdered girl returns with a message. Now a stranded woman must team up with the staff of a local radio station to solve the mystery of her death.

BUY IT NOW!


Daughter Of Dr. Jekyll (1957)

Starring:

John Agar, Gloria Talbott, Arthur Shields

Synopsis:

Janet, a young woman discovers she is the daughter of the infamous Dr. Jekyll. She begins to believe that she may also have a split personality, one of whom is a ruthless killer after the bodies start to pile up around her. However, all is not what it seems…..

BUY IT NOW!


Housebound (2014)

Starring:

Morgana O’Reilly, Rima Te Wiati, Glen-Paul Waru

Synopsis:

Kylie Bucknell is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. Her punishment is all the more unbearable because she has to live with her mother, a blabbermouth who’s convinced that the house is haunted. But soon Kylie has reason to believe that her mother may be right.

BUY IT NOW!


The Night Watchmen (2016)

Starring:

James Remar, Matt Servitto

Synopsis:

Three inept night watchmen, aided by a young rookie and a fearless tabloid journalist, fight an epic battle to save their lives. A mistaken warehouse delivery unleashes a horde of hungry vampires, and these unlikely heroes must not only save themselves but also stop the scourge that threatens to take over the city of Baltimore.

BUY IT NOW!


Scarecrowd (2016)

Starring:

Fabrizio Occhipinti, Gabrielle Bergère, Antony Ferry

Synopsis:

Radiation from a nearby meteor strike turns farmer Tony Maio in a crazed mutant. He hides his appearance in the guise of a scarecrow, hunting down and killing nearby town folk to satisfy his newfound blood lust. The town will dread sundown and screams will be echo in the dark night when this Scarecrow hunts them down.

BUY IT NOW!


Teenage Slumber Party Nightmare (2014) (Limited Edition, Just 100 Sold)

Starring:

Kaitlyn Yurkiw, Lauren Richardson, Hillary Kaplan, Martha Staus, Kirk Munaweera, Payton John Bonn, Kevin Paynter

Synopsis:

Four teens on Spring Break plan the ultimate slumber party… Beer! Porn! Dancing! Girl Talk! There’s a first time for everything – including the deranged stalker who’s followed them home. He leaves them love notes, but the girls laugh it off. He spies through the windows, but they don’t know it. Soon he sneaks in, masked and carrying his rusty power drill. A young man’s obsession becomes a nightmare in this driller killer slasher.

BUY IT NOW!


Under the Bed (2012)

Starring:

Jonny Weston, Peter Holden, Musetta Vander

Synopsis:

Two brothers team up to battle a creature under the bed, in what is being described as a “suburban nightmare” tale.

BUY IT NOW!

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Three 1970’s Horrors That Remind Us Why We Enjoy Getting Mental at the Movies

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Crazy is always creepy in horror movies, and it usually comes in two forms: insane escapees or the sane among the crazies.

It’s one storytelling technique when a mental patient escapes and enters our own ordered, peaceful world. It’s quite another when a film drops us in the middle of an asylum to cope with crazy people who, in those movies, always seem to want to stab us.

First off, let me say the mentally ill are one of the most misunderstood and scapegoated minorities in movie history. Other stereotypes have disappeared from the silver screen over the years, but it’s still convenient to blame a killing rampage on an escaped mental patient. We’ll just chalk this up to lazy writing and move on.

Yes, “mentally ill” has become shorthand for “bloodthirsty and lacking in social etiquette.” Kudos to “American Horror Story’s” second season, subtitled “Asylum,” for adding some subtlety to that convention. Seventies horror movies, though, were riddled with stereotypes, enough so that when we travel back to that groovy and dangerous time, we can merrily ignore them and enjoy the scare.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) is a fairly standard who-is-the-killer flick that turns terrifying in the last 20 minutes, when all hell breaks loose and the inmates, quite literally, take over the asylum. There is a nice, icy buildup throughout.

The populace of a small town are suspiciously nervous when a local mansion that had once been a mental institution goes up for sale. Mary Woronov (Eating Raoul) plays it numbingly cool throughout, until the climax, adding punch to the big reveals.

Also known by Night of the Dark Full Moon and Death House, this film is directed by Theodore Gershuny and written by Gershuny, Jeffrey Konvitz and Ira Teller. It’s always a good sign for consistency of vision when the director is also a writer.

I don’t know a lot of people raving about this film. It’s certainly not perfect, but a solid effort in that ’70s B-movie category, seriously creepy, and worth watching. Recommended.

Asylum (1972) has everything I enjoy about well-done, early ’70s horror: a fairly simple premise, creepy sets, and solid acting. The anthology setup works well here, stringing four Robert Bloch stories together. Peter Cushing and Herbert Lom show up along with Britt Ekland and Barbara Parkins.

The effects are not at all bad. Hope you view a cut of this movie that shows a stagehand rather obviously moving a prop in the “Frozen Fear” segment because those kinds of mistakes are fun to see.

Directed by Roy Ward Baker, Asylum delivers like any of the Amicus horror movies: similar to Hammer in that you know you will be entertained. Recommended for classic pre-slasher horror movie fans.

Then there’s Don’t Look in the Basement (1973). I was smart enough to see this in a theater when it came out… but dumb enough to bring a date. What a terrible first date movie!

On the other hand, Don’t Look in the Basement is a very creepy horror film due to several elements that come together beautifully:

– First, it has that grainy, cheap look to it like many early ’70s B-movies that, for me, adds to the mood. That look tells me positively this is not a big studio production. “Oh, this is one of THOSE movies,” says my head. “Anything can happen!” Tension builds.

– Second, it has an obviousness to it that can be unnerving when filmed correctly. Hitchcock used to do this well: We in the audience know the danger, but the hero on screen is completely clueless. We know from the minute the blonde nurse accepts her new job she shouldn’t be there — heck, we knew she shouldn’t even have come into the house!

– Third, most all of the characters may be insane, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own distinct stories, personalities and phobias. Crazy is not random. As Grant Morrison wrote in Batman: Arkham Asylum, the thoughts of the insane are not unpatterned. Each person has his or her own complex view of reality, no matter how wrong that perception might be.

There’s also a good deal of blood. And a surprise reveal. Don’t Look in the Basement has been recognized as a B-movie classic, and I enthusiastically recommend it here.

Three 1972 to 1973 horror movies and all three recommended! You may or may not disagree, and if so, I want to hear why! What are your favorite asylum flicks? Comment below or on social media.

Gary Scott Beatty’s graphic novel Wounds is available on Amazon and Comixology. Is madness a way to survive the zombie apocalypse? The strangest zombie story ever written, Wounds throws us into a world where nothing is beyond doubt, except a father’s concern for his wife and daughter. If you enjoy that “What th-?” factor in graphic novels, you’ll enjoy Wounds.

For more from Gary Scott Beatty, visit him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Samuel L. Jackson Wraps on M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass

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That was fast. It was just two weeks ago that we shared your first on-set look at Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass in M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming Unbreakable/Split sequel, and today we have news that Jackson has wrapped his role.

The update comes to us directly from Shyamalan himself who took to Twitter to let us all know that not only has Sam Jackson wrapped his role in Glass, but there is only one week left of filming overall.

Here is his tweet:

Does this mean the crew has gathered up enough footage to give us all a teaser trailer in the near future? I would think so, so let’s not be too surprised if that’s just what we get before the end of the year.

Fingers crossed.

The film is written & directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Anya-Taylor Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, and Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass.

Glass hits theaters January 18, 2019.

Synopsis:

Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

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