Screamfest LA 2011: Filmmaker Andy Fetscher Talks Urban Explorer Premiere - Dread Central
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Screamfest LA 2011: Filmmaker Andy Fetscher Talks Urban Explorer Premiere

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With Screamfest LA running Friday, October 14th, through Saturday, the 22nd, at Manns Chinese 6 in Hollywood, CA (at Hollywood & Highland, buy tickets here), we chatted with Urban Explorer filmmaker Andy Fetscher regarding his tense gore-fest, which is set for its West Coast premiere on Tuesday, October 18th at 10pm. Read on for his comments as well as exclusive stills.

Produced by Oliver Thau, written by Martin Thau and directed, filmed and edited by Andy Fetscher, Urban Explorer (review here) stars Nathalie Kelley (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), Nick Eversman (Hellraiser: Revelations), Klau Stiglmeier, Max Riemelt, Catherine de Lean and Brenda Koo. According to the film’s synopsis it centers around ‘an international group of four urban explorers who hire local guide Kris to lead them into the maze of escape tunnels and subterranean fortifications under the city of Berlin. When their guide has a bad fall, two of the girls in the group frantically set off to seek help while Denis, the young American, stays behind. Armin (Stiglmeier) a former East German Border guard, suddenly appears from nowhere. Out of sheer desperation, Denis allows Armin to lead them and their unconscious guide to safety, and it is at this moment that Denis realizes he has just made the biggest mistake of his life!

Urban Explorer

Said German filmmaker Fetscher of his all-too organic (and accidentally macabre) inspiration for the flick, “I’ve been obsessed with urban exploration for a long time. As kids my friends and I spent all our summer holidays climbing through run-down factory buildings, abandoned Bavarian breweries and even one day a burnt-down family house in our neighborhood, where we found the remains of the people that had died in a fire. That was eerie and somehow beautiful at the same time. When I moved to Berlin some years ago, it became obvious to me that I wanted to do a movie about it. My producers and I pretty soon came to the conclusion that the capital of Germany is one of the best, if not the best, filming sites for an illegal spelunking tour into the urban underground world of a city full of history. The writing process went comparatively fast since we all talked the same language. The principal question for us was, ‘How far can we go in depicting violence without setting local authorities against us?’”

As for as the process of location scouting in regard to how integral the locations themselves were to the film’s narrative, “We went down into Berlin’s underworld before scripting started,” related Fetscher. “Since the movie is called Urban Explorer and the main aspect of that adventure sport is to enter and explore sites that have not been entered end explored before, our approach was to show very special locations to our audience and locations that have not been filmed before. About eighty percent of the movie is set in real locations – real tunnels, real sewers and real bunkers – so location scouting became pretty delicate for us.”

In true independent form, “We had to bribe hands to get access or sometimes we also had to sneak down into the tunnel systems without permission,” Fetscher expounded. “Again and again we had to run away from security officials! But then again finding those locations was easy compared to shooting in them, of course. Lots of crew members got arrested during the shooting process. My assistant director and I had to spend one day in custody, and that was bad because we lost one whole day of shooting.”

Pertaining to the challenges of financing Urban Explorer, “It definitely took a while to get the money together to start. In Germany they don’t do many horror movies. Why? It’s frowned upon. They do ‘art-house’ movies, not entertainment! So we did not get one cent from any kind of film subsidy or state money like you normally do, but on the other hand that gave us free (creative) reign, and we really enjoyed being the misfits. One day I got a letter from some European film commission, and they asked me to stop working on the project since it would cast a bad light on German cinema. The letter was very crude and funny. Of course I didn’t take it seriously because we were not making that movie for any kind of a commission. We made it for the audience, and so far they’ve liked it.”

Raising the budget of Urban Explorer wasn’t the only challenge for the director, given the scripted narrative and locations. Finding a cast willing to endure what would be required of them was as well.

“From the very first moment of casting I told every actor that this shoot would become a very delicate and unpredictable adventure, as we were mainly shooting in real locations and places you don’t want to be in. On each day the actors would get new scratches and bruises and everything was full of dirt, and we would have to run away from police pretty damn often! Nathalie, Nick, Brenda and Catherine were the most ready ones to face these grim conditions, and that’s why we picked them. And of course they did a marvelous job in performing their roles and in an intriguing way.”

Urban Explorer

Shot over the course of twenty-nine days, Fetscher said of principal photography, “(Having so much time was a) luxury. I loved it. But still it was exhausting. On some days we would work until we’d drop. On other days we maybe just had one or two hours because police would expel us from our sets! In those cases we would have to wait for hours until the sun would set, and then we would secretly sneak back into the location.”

Filming in subterranean catacombs and vast tunnel systems, the shoot itself was one of actual urban exploration and according to the filmmaker was nearly as dangerous as his scripted narrative.

“One day we were shooting in a former autobahn tunnel that was built by the Nazis around 1939 and sealed by government people during the Cold War,” Fetscher related. “In the middle of the night, while taking down our equipment and distributing electricity, we bumped into some three-phase electric power supplies, very professionally installed behind fake concrete walls. Before we knew what was happening, the cable-way led us into a subterranean dance floor that was built by some drug addicts in 2000. There were deep green flickering lights, smoke all over, and an illegal underground rave party going on! Literally everyone was on crack and dressed in surreal latex costumes, and when they saw our filming gear, they immediately shut down the music, and it was dead silent. They were not happy to see us.”

It got worse, according to Fetscher.

“One of those creeps was a fire-breather, and he started to try to burn my camera assistant,” said the filmmaker, who was rescued by none other than Urban Explorer ‘heavy’ actor Stiglmeier. “He saved us, as (coincidentally) that same morning he had stolen a battery power drill from the art department and threatened the fire-breather that he’d do some ‘Mujahideen-stuff’ to him that he had learned in Afghanistan. I even had to intervene so that the poor devil would not panic and accidentally ram the drill chuck into his own head, as he was so scared of Stiglmeier.”

Possessing multiple layers of scripted menace, from the all-too real historical terrors of Nazi Germany and the East German Occupation to the more fantastical and scripted tale of the ‘Oden People’ (Nazi super-soldiers still dwelling beneath the city), we asked Fetscher of how his country’s past and its world view informed his narrative.

“There are a lot of historical elements of Germany’s past involved in our story,” answered Fetscher. “They do justice to the expectations that tourists do have when they come visit Berlin. Our main protagonists are tourists. They’re extreme sports tourists that want to descend even deeper into the Hauptstadt’s past so they encounter many different factors down there. On the other hand, some of those elements are nothing else but part of a (scripted) diversionary tactic to play with the expectations of the audience. I think that a lot of people expect a Nazi villain when they watch a horror movie that takes place in Germany. In this film it’s not that easy. There’s much more lurking underground.”

Urban Explorer

As for the post-production process, “After the very difficult shoot, locking myself into the editing room for almost two months where most of the day I was on my own, going over the same hypnotizing movements over and over again on the computer, it almost felt meditative. I love this part of the production process though, where you can cure your bruises and watch the images become scenes, and the scenes become a story. Working with both my musicians and the sound designer was great fun. We didn’t have much money so we had to be inventive in creating the proper atmosphere in sound. But it all worked really well.”

Admittedly partially inspired by Neil Marshall’s intense and claustrophobic feature The Descent, “I like that movie, and I certainly was inspired by it, but we created a villain that is more human and sarcastic and (I think) almost funny! If you want to compare the evil in our movie with the evil of an old-time classic, maybe one could compare it with A Nightmare on Elm Street. Does that sound odd? All the better!”

Commenting on the flick’s premiere at Screamfest, “I’m absolutely excited about showing the movie to a US audience for the first time,” effused the filmmaker. “We were just at Busan International Film Festival in Korea, and every nation has a different individual code of fear so I’m very much looking forward to see if they tear me into pieces or if they like our Berlin underground horror flick. It’s a delight being able to come over to LA and screen the movie to all those genre lovers.”

As for what’s next on the filmmaker’s plate, Fetscher revealed, “Well, we’ll wait for our first theatrical release in Europe (of Urban Explorer). It all depends a lot on this obviously. Then I have to make sure that I can convince my supporters to trust me a second time! We have several horror stories in our repertoire, but there are also other different genres (I’d like to tackle). I like the multi-lingual aspect of making movies: having people from all over the world gather to work on a film set is stimulating. So maybe my next movie will take place somewhere in Asia or Africa? I don’t know yet.”

Be sure to “like” the film by visiting the Urban Explorer Facebook page, and also stop by the official Urban Explorer website for more.

Urban Explorer

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Spoilers: Which Major Walking Dead Actor Might Leave the Series After This Season?

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*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***

Like many of you out there, I gave up on AMC’s The Walking Dead a long time ago. In fact, I gave up after they fired Frank Darabont following the horrendous second season.

That said, I’m not bitter towards the series, and hell, even I watched the season premiere where Negan beat the brains off Big Red and the dude from Mayhem.

Also, I’m aware there has been some controversy surrounding the “death” (yeah, right) of Chandler Rigg’s character. I have no opinion on the matter.

Speaking of character deaths, we might want to expect another this season as it looks like Lauren Cohan, aka Maggie, has taken another job on the ABC pilot “Whiskey Cavalier.”

While this doesn’t immediately mean Cohan’s Maggie character will kick the big old zombie-bucket… it pretty much means that.

Variety reports that Cohan has been in negotiations with AMC for months over her return, but she does not currently have a contract for the ninth season and will instead take the lead in the new ABC pilot.

Do you think this means Maggie is done for? Let us know below!

“The Walking Dead” returns on Sunday, February 25th.

Season 8B Synopsis:
All-out war has had a devastating impact on every person involved. The communities themselves are fractured. Alexandria has been destroyed, the people at Hilltop finds themselves pinned, and the Kingdom is shattered — half of them dead, the other half controlled by the Saviors.

At the very center — Rick, having been distracted by the conflict, has just returned home to learn that Carl, who heroically shepherded the Alexandrians to safety during Negan’s attack, has been bitten by a walker. Once his sole motivation in this otherwise stark existence, Rick is forced to deal with this reality. Carl has always been a beacon of hope, a symbol for the remaining thread of humanity — lessons that the survivors around him would be wise to take with them as this war surges onward.

But Rick isn’t the only person who’s living in peril. Aaron and Enid are in a dire situation at Oceanside — unclear if they’re in friendly territory, or if they’ve just made new enemies. Father Gabriel will do his part in attempting to smuggle Dr. Carson safely back to the Hilltop, and a pregnant Maggie is wrestling with the many moral gray areas that come with leadership during war. In a standoff with the Saviors, she must decide how to proceed with the dozens of POW lives she’s currently in control of, as well as new complications that come with being a leader.

In addition to the war, Negan continues to deal with struggles within his ranks as workers, traitors, and others’ thirst for power cause conflict at the Sanctuary. Having gifted the Saviors a major victory, Eugene’s loyalty is repeatedly tested as new obstacles present themselves.

As all-out war consumes us, the line between good and evil continues to blur. People fighting for what they believe in. Everybody working together for something bigger — to feel safe and have a world worth living in.

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Filthy and Fine! The Best Shots of Ash vs. Evil Dead

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The Evil Dead franchise is my all time favorite horror series, which evolves its mythos with each entry. Of course, the original Evil Dead has been just a straight-up horror film, but thanks to the fateful meeting of filmmaker Scott Spiegel, director Sam Raimi took the franchise into a strange comedic territory, using slapstick while still keeping the tones of sheer terror. What makes this terror stay with the franchise even with Ash’s loudmouth persona is it’s influential and inspiring camera work that Sam Raimi makes a legend behind the camera.

After years of waiting for the master of horror to return to the Evil Dead franchise, our palates were satiated with “Ash Vs Evil Dead” which continued the inspiring cinematography. With two seasons of a television show under Raimi’s watchful eye and a third season on the way, I took a look at every episode in the series to see if each director on board the project kept that eye for cinematography and shooting style. The series was notorious for it’s over the top gore and gags and I could’ve sat here and just gushed over the geysers of blood emitting from every orifice in the show, but, what I found in each episode brought more and more to the table. There are still horrifying shots to balance out the comedy of the show, but there are also amazing character moments within that foreshadow and evolve each character.

Think about it, other than Ash we’ve never had a cast of characters that survived more than two minutes but now there’s a crew of Ghostbeaters! Don’t worry as we still have randoms coming in and out that leave you to ponder, “How long can this poor Shemp live?” as they burst into blood and viscera. There are shots that revel in the grotesque, but there are also shots that revel in who our heroes are and delve into their psyches, the specialty of the Deadites! For those who’d like to follow along with the shots in the show, I’ve given you the time these shots show up if you’re watching the show on Netflix skipping the recaps.

To see the images in their full-size glory, give them a groovy little click!


S1E1: “El Jefe”
Directed By Sam Raimi
12:53
The flashlight twirling on the ground illuminating the scene as it spins on the two detectives faces gives way to one of the best sequences in the series. As Amanda’s deadite partner attacks her, the light spins furiously with the actions of the scene as she tries to retrieve her gun. When she retrieves the gun and aims it at the deadite the audience member would get a sigh of relief that she would triumph but is then tricked into terror. The flashlight spinning becomes slower and slower on both their faces as the man cries in pain pleading to his partner. The light illuminates his transformation back into a deadite horrifyingly for a slow dread filled shot. This shot and sequence show Sam still has it and sets up the series for what’s to come.



S1E2: “Bait”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
12:30
As Ash brings down the cross upon the ground the camera pans to Pablo and Kelly with a bright sunrise upon them. While the horrors of the night are over it is this sunrise the signifies the dawning of Kelley’s new life and her dialogue over this shot swears her vengeance.


S1E3: “Books From Beyond”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
2:38
Up until this point, Ruby has remained a mystery and not given us a sense of danger. Against the howl of the windmill in the background bathing in the moonlight we see her unleash the Kandarian dagger upon the already impaled deadite with a smirk on her face. This shot unravels her mystery bit by bit hauntingly as the first person besides Ash to stare down a Deadite with no fear.


S1E4: “Brujo”
Directed By David Frazee
22:40
The Brujo’s entire set up is pretty creepy with all sorts of totems that he utilizes for good but look haunting. When Kelly steps into the barn possessed by Eligos the totems come to life and react to the evil stepping before them. The best one though is the face that quickly begins to disappear bit by bit as Kelly approaches. It utters the word Mentirosa, Spanish for a liar, as she steps forth, giving way to a visually striking and terrifying warning.


S1E5: “The Host”
Directed By: David Frazee
21:26
Pablo bids farewell to his youth and tutelage under the Brujo while stepping into a new life with Ash that is more in tune with his family’s spiritual upbringing. With each totem lighting up as Pablo walks by the shots build Pablo’s feelings of loss toward a teacher as Pablo emerges a warrior that foreshadows his importance later to come as the first magical force of good in a fight that’s only ever cast spells of evil.


S1E6: “The Killer of Killers”
Directed By Michael Hurst
20:24
This is one of the most hilarious yet meaningful shots of the episode. Amanda’s boss has become a deadite ready to kill her. Ash shoots Amanda’s boss in the head, making her question the authority she had adhered to so much. Her idea of Ash as a villain changed with that charming Smile and look to Amanda in a gory pose over the lower jaw of her former boss. Ash looks to her like Uncle Sam simply saying join us! Blood and viscera flowing around him like a fountain. Dangling legs in the background as an added bonus!


S1E7: “Fire In The Hole”
Directed By Michael Hurst
19:25
Actions in combat can tell a story just like any dance. The compatibility between our heroes is evocative of Ash and Amanda’s budding romance during the entire sequence. However, it is this one masterful shot of the two working in unison dodging hellfire that tells the story of warrior’s love lit by demon fire!


S1E8: “Ashes to Ashes”
Directed By Tony Tilse
18:21
Ash can never escape the past it seems as the series goes on. He is hesitant to trust Pablo and Kelly as friends in his adventure for fear of losing them like he has lost so many others. This infamous shot from Evil Dead 2 is one of the few things that could make him question his machismo. This time he doesn’t even bring the chainsaw down on his beloved Linda but is forced to watch as an invisible chainsaw comes down upon her head forcing him to be reminded of what he did. This plays heavily into his decision making near the end of the season.



S1E9: “Bound In Flesh”
Directed By Tony Tilse
25:20
We finally get to see the book speak and beg Ash to not destroy it. This is something we’ve become accustomed to in the comic series, but have never been treated to the book itself speaking to Ash otherwise. We as the audience become the eye of the book and in true Evil Dead fashion watch, Pablo scream as the camera rushes toward him and he fuses with the book. This moment is the change in Pablo that clashes with his new direction discovered in the shot in Episode 5, which then tortures him internally until the end of season 2 where he is constantly being pulled by the necklace of the Brujo and the evil of the books spells.


S1E10: “The Dark One”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
19:06
A dreary moonlight shot of blues against the cabin looking ominous as Kelly stares on drenched in blood and anger. It’s a hauntingly beautiful shot. Kelly has fully embraced herself as a ghost beater and is done being tormented ready to start saving her boys. For a lot of characters, this could easily be a breaking point, but this shot affirms Dana Delorenzo as Kelly among some of the most powerful and able Final Girls on the rise.


S2E1: “Home”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
27:31
This shot is very telling of Ruby’s betrayal to evil. As her children surround and attack her, she is obscured by darkness and where she lies in terror a bright light emanates from behind her illuminating the scene as if to show her becoming a hero against evil.


S2E2: “The Morgue”
Directed By Tony Tilse
16:41
When this episode aired it was one of the most talked about and disgustingly depraved things to see. A simple Camera rig in front of Ash as he struggles to get out of a corpse, pubic hairs and dick swinging in his face. If Dead Alive wanted to take Evil Dead’s title of biggest gross-out scenes, then “Ash Vs Evil Dead” took the title back with excrement and body fluids all over our hero.


S2E3: “Last Call”
Directed By Tony Tilse
23:08
There are a ton of great shots of the evil Delta but perhaps the best one is this single frame of Lacey telling her boyfriend she loves him as he is splattered across the windshield. Blood and glass between them as they try for one last kiss against the fire and demonic lighting coming from the Delta and then splat! It’s a small touching moment that makes Lacey’s character a bit more sympathetic as the show goes on. As for her boyfriend? Well, I told you there would be plenty of Shemps to kill off.


S2E4: “DUI”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
1:45
After splattering Ash’s dad across the street, The Delta pulls up with a camera spin into the grill revealing an eye stuck in it. Ash’s one true love, his car, that’s survived everything has turned against him and killed his father just as they had reconnected. A perfect role reversal as Brock William’s severed eye is now staring down Ash through the grill of the car. No longer a window into Brock’s soul, but a sick vision of Ash’s love turned enemy.


S2E5: “Confinement”
Directed By Michael J. Bassett
17:46
Flashing between light and darkness as the skin is ripped and blood is splattered gives us a horrifying look for the first time at the main antagonist of the season. Baal emerges from the flesh of humanity showing how we are all merely tools for his psychological deceptions.


S2E6: “Trapped Inside”
Directed By Mark Beesley
11:37
The moon reflects an eerie light upon Cheryl’s picture as it begins to bleed like the statue of Mary. The innocence of Ash’s sister was never saved and her soul weeps as the flesh is resurrected for evil’s bidding.


S2E7: “Delusion”
Directed By Mark Beesley
23:59
This entire episode is about breaking down Ash’s spirit and character, making him think he’s truly insane. As he’s at the breaking point he sees his friends and his love for them saves him. It’s a really simple shot that’s amplified by Bruce’s performance, but that disturbed look against the shadowy bars across his face in the dreary room give him his eureka moment where he comes down from his insanity and understands what he has to do to win.


S2E8: “Ashy Slashy”
Directed By Tony Tilse
14:13
Throughout the season the town builds up a boogeyman mythos in Ashy Slashy that we know as an audience member isn’t true but this shot brings Ashy Slashy to life. That boogeyman becomes real as the straight jacket becomes Ashy Slashy’s costume and the fire created by the chainsaw shows a side of Ash we’ve never seen. In this shot, we are convinced he had become a mindless killer.


S2E9: “Home Again”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
19:51
We’ve only ever heard his voice and seen his ghost save for a few shots of him discovering the Necronomicon in Evil Dead 2. Professor Knowby watches his student, Tanya, bleed out on the floor. She looks up at her mentor with horror as light swings back and forth casting shadows on his face. He is almost serial killer in nature and the shot reflects how his quest for knowledge outweighs his humanity. We see Professor Knowby and his daughter Ruby are not too dissimilar.


S2E10: “Second Coming”
Directed By Rick Jacobson
26:12
The finale brings Ash back to the cabin having to completely confront his past to change the future. With Pablo dead, because of Ash’s own follies, it is in the ashes of Ash’s dark past that Pablo is reborn, no longer tormented by the Necronomicon he takes his first breath as a new human. The evil within him gone and his life ready to begin anew.


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McKenna Grace Snags Lead in Rob Lowe’s Remake of The Bad Seed

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Okay so, evidently Rob Lowe is remaking The Bad Seed. Meh, I’m interested. But wait, evidently it will be a Lifetime original film. Urgh, interest is waning.

All jokes aside, I’m intrigued by this remake. Not only is it set to star Rob Lowe, but the man will be directing and executive producing as well.

Another interesting variation is that this film will follow Lowe’s father figure dealing with the evil child, instead of the original film’s mother character played by Nancy Kelly.

And on top of that, today we have news via Deadline that McKenna Grace (Amityville: The Awakening) has been cast as the titular bad seed, Emma, and Patty McCormack – who played the evil little girl in the original, and received an Oscar nomination for performance – will co-star as the psychiatrist who treats Emma.

Grace will next be seen in the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House from director Mike Flanagan (Hush, Gerald’s Game).

The Lifetime remake is directed and executive produced by Rob Lowe from a script by Barbara Marshall. Lowe as executive produces with Mark Wolper and Elizabeth Stephen and stars alongside Patty McCormack and McKenna Grace.

Synopsis:

Lowe plays a single father who seems to have everything under control. But when there is a terrible tragedy takes place at his daughter Emma’s (Grace) school, he is forced to question everything he thought he knew about his beloved daughter. He slowly begins to question if Emma’s exemplary behavior is just a façade and she played a role in the horrific incident. When more strange things begin to happen, he’s faced with keeping a terrible secret to protect Emma, but ultimately must stop her from striking again.

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