Screamfest LA 2011 Exclusive: Director P.J. Pettiette Talks Julia X 3D U.S. Premiere - Dread Central
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Screamfest LA 2011 Exclusive: Director P.J. Pettiette Talks Julia X 3D U.S. Premiere

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With the Screamfest LA Film Festival now under way through October 22nd at Manns Chinese 6 in Hollywood, California, we chatted recently with P.J. Pettiette, the director of one of the fest’s selections, the 3D feature Julia X, and got the skinny on the horror-comedy flick, which is having its U.S. premiere this evening, October 16th.

Written by Matt Cunningham and produced by Greg Hall, Claude Viguerie and the film’s director Pettiette, Julia X 3D stars Valerie Azlynn, Kevin Sorbo, Alicia Leigh Willis, Joel Moore, and Ving Rhames and follows, “’Julia’ (Azlynn) who meets a man on her third Internet date. As she is is leaving, she is abducted by ‘The Stranger’ (Sorbo) and branded with an ‘X’. After a cat-and-mouse game, she eventually subdues The Stranger, and we discover that Julia and her younger sister, Jessica (Willis), are Internet predators themselves.

“I wanted it to in some ways mock the trends of these women brutality films,” said Pettiette of the genesis of his idea for Julia X 3D, “but then take the audience on a ride that twists the story and flips it around where you really don’t know what is going to happen next. That way it becomes funny, ironic, and satirical. At the time I was working on the story, I really couldn’t think of anything fantastical that really scared me, but the thought of a woman who ends up on an Internet date with a serial killer? I thought that would be frightening. Then I thought, ‘Well, what if the woman was a crazy serial killer also?’ In the development of the story there were two young girls I knew who did everything together. They would sneak out of the house, share boyfriends (or steal them), fight over bras, and one of them definitely seemed more conniving and dangerous than the other, or at least that’s where my imagination went. That became the twist factor for me to really create a story about two sisters disguised as a horror abduction picture.”

Julia X

“The first draft of Julia X 3D went quickly,” related Pettiette (who previously co-scripted the 1998 film If I Die Before I Wake), “but I started really twisting the story up and changing the protagonists and the tones. We probably took two years to get the financing, which was very difficult as the economy fell out while my producing partner Claudie (Viguerie) and I were looking to capitalize the film. It’s one of the most difficult things about an independent project. We ultimately found Greg Hall, who joined us as a producer.”

As for his decision to give Julia X the 3D treatment, “I really felt that 3D would totally enhance the story tonally so we decided to find an affordable 3D rig and company, and Matt and I began to rewrite the script to create more depth to the total visual experience.”

Filmed over the course of thirty days outside Dixie, Louisiana, where Pettiette grew up, “Greg (Hall) and I know the bayous and other locations we selected so Matt and I wrote the new draft with them in mind,” offered the filmmaker. “It was more about adding 3D depth to the project by adding these locations using master shots and all three fields of depth perception, rather than gag shots.”

“Our budget was very small for a 3D picture, and shooting it in 3D was very challenging. For one, I knew that with 3D there are audience limitations in regard to editing (the film). Understanding that with 3D you can’t do fast cutting, I knew I would have to use more master shots and therefore create something different and disturbing, yet twisted in the story’s construction. A film that I thought did well overcoming this hurdle was Resident Evil 3D, but since our film’s budget was (probably not) even their craft service budget, we had to be smart and allow that limitations to work for us. Using the depth 3D allowed as a character gave me the opportunity to make a true throwback picture with a lot of practical effects.”

Of casting Sorbo in the role of the nefarious ‘The Stranger,’ “He made the character sympathetic, likable, and funny,” said Pettiette. “Kevin plays a pivotal role in the tonal shift in the film. Only Kevin could create a killer who is narcissistic, lovable, endearing, and a man’s and woman’s man, and being as likable as he allowed us I think to take the picture to an ironic, satirical, and sometimes over-the-top place. Kevin got the script right away. A lot of people missed the point tone initially by misinterpreting it, but Kevin saw the deadpan humor in it immediately.”

Balancing horror with comedy effectively isn’t an easy feat, and we queried Pettiette on his approach to the mash-up.

Julia X

“I knew all along that we wanted a movie that was winking at the viewer the whole time,” responded the filmmaker, “(where we lure them into) thinking it’s going to be one kind of a film but then twist it and inject some real deadpan situations of people talking very frankly about killing, dating and idyllic and romantic notions. We hoped the audience would get this, and so far in most places, especially at its world premiere in Germany, the audiences have responded really well! It’s important for me to not give anything away (about some of the twists of the narrative), but when Joel David Moore enters the film, his performance and his character takes us to a realization of the truly madcap place which he and the audience have landed in. There are some uncomfortable moments in the film, and we worked hard to keep the tone shifting back and forth to create a constant drama and tension. I did want the audience to have fun. The film is meant to be an intense but fun ride.”

As for post-production, “The thing I love about the 3D process is that it’s totally collaborative from the very beginning, which makes for a better crew experience and movie,” offered Pettiette, “especially for a low-budget film trying to compete with Avatar in the 3D realm. I knew then early on with all the unknown issues of 3D to bring my editor Rob Neal and the 3D team from 21st Century with us to Louisiana. We also began to work early on with Light Iron Digital and Katie Fellion, who really brought the 3D to another level in the final stages of post. The picture’s visual design was done by Mark Tanner, and we really wanted a surreal but very colorful palette in the movie. Light Iron Digital kept the colors rich so it’s almost like with the colors and the 3D you are eating visual candy the whole ninety-two minutes of its running time. We really wanted to go against the reality horror de-saturated look and washed out colors and make our movie a fresh visual experience.”

“Claudie (Viguerie) and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of Screamfest,” concluded Pettiette of the Screamfest LA premiere. “We love Rachel (Belofsky) and her real commitment to the genre as a fun experience and not a pretentious sell-out. It is a scary experience, though, in its own way to screen the picture with an audience, but it’s so friggin’ cool to do it at the Chinese Manns Theatre so who cares if I’m nervous: I get to eat a hot dog and see a movie, our movie! I’m also excited to see the other films selected. I actually like the programming Rachel does. It’s always been tasteful and entertaining!”

For more visit the official Julia X 3D website, and if you’re planning to hit Screamfest during its remaining week-long run, buy tickets here.

Julia X 3D

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New Insidious: The Last Key Trailer Speaks Softly But Carries a Big Whistle

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The last word we brought you guys on the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise was when we let you know the new film had snagged a PG-13 rating from the MPAA for “disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language”.

Today we have a new trailer/TV spot for Insidious: The Last Key, and if you aren’t already on board for a fourth round of spooky shite courtesy of screenwriter Leigh Whannel, maybe this quick trailer will do the trick.

You can check out the new trailer below; then let us know how excited you are for Insidious: The Last Key!

I’m digging what I’ve seen from the new film thus far, and this new trailer only strengthens that. Plus I’m excited to see what director Adam Robitel can do with this series after his fucking terrifying previous film The Taking of Deborah Logan.

The film is directed by Adam Robitel from a script by Leigh Whannell and stars Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Josh Stewart, Caitlin Gerard, Kirk Acevedo, Javier Botet, Bruce Davison, Spencer Locke, Tessa Ferrer, Ava Kolker, and Marcus Henderson.

Insidious: The Last Key hits theaters January 5, 2018.

Synopsis:

Parapsychologist Elise Rainier and her team travel to Five Keys, N.M., to investigate a man’s claim of a haunting. Terror soon strikes when Rainier realizes that the house he lives in was her family’s old home.

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Luke Genton’s The Bone Box Trailer Proves Not All Graves Are Quiet

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Sometimes a fright flick comes along that sells me on the logline itself. And writer-director Luke Genton’s upcoming supernatural horror movie The Bone Box has just such a premise.

The film follows the story of a grave robber who comes to believe he’s being haunted by those he stole from. And if that premise doesn’t sell you on at least checking out the film’s trailer, I don’t know what to do for you.

Speaking of the trailer, you can check it out below. Then let us know what you think below!

The film stars Gareth Koorzen (The Black That Follows), Michelle Krusiec (The Invitation), and Maria Olsen (Starry Eyes), Jamie Bernadette (I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu), David Chokachi (Baywatch), Aaron Schwartz (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and Tess Bellomo (Liked).

Look for updates on Facebook HERE and the Director’s Instagram: @lukegenton.

The Bone Box is currently in post-production. It is scheduled to be completed by November 2017 and is seeking distribution.

Synopsis:

Depressed and reeling from the recent death of his wife, Tom (Koorzen) has built up quite a gambling debt. He goes to stay with his wealthy Aunt Florence (Olsen) in hopes that she will write him into her will. When a nasty creditor makes it clear that Tom is out of time, he devises a plan with Elodie (Krusiec), the undertaker’s daughter, to rob the graves of the rich townspeople buried in the cemetery across the road. After plundering the graves, Tom begins hearing and seeing strange things that seem to coincide with the deaths of the people he robbed. Even more disconcerting… he appears to be the only one sensing the occurrences. One question lingers: Is Tom’s conscience playing a trick on him… or is he really being haunted by those he stole from?

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Last Meeple Standing

H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game, Overview and Review – Last Meeple Standing

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Yeah, I know. I’ve said it before, and I will scream it to the heavens again: There is an abysmal glut of Lovecraft Mythos games out there (and still streaming into the market). For a while there, it was vampire games (wanna take a sparkly guess why?). Then, it was zombie games (only Robert Kirkman knows why). Now it is Lovecraft games, and it is a LOT of them. Shambling, fish-headed masses of them, weighing down the game shop shelves like heavily laden buckets of freshly shorn tentacles (calm down, hentai fans). It’s true, and a lot of them seem to be sad doppelgangers of other games, just skinned with a rotting coat of Elder God goo.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Hahn

For that reason, it is nice to run across a Lovecraft-themed game that is GOOD. H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game is one of those… it’s good, but it’s not great (for ONE painful reason). But, for our nefarious purposes today, that’s good enough. The stars are PARTIALLY in alignment. There is one little detail to get out of the way before we wade into the spawn-infested miasma of this game: it is the hellish offspring of an earlier, more complex game called (you guessed it) H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival the board game. Much has been said about the relationship between these two games and many comparisons have been made, but since I neither own the board game nor have I played it, let’s leave it to fester in cold, barren space all by its lonesome for now. I’m sure its time will come…when the stars are right (rolling his eyes).

COMPONENTS:
It is RARE (like fresh Deep One filets) that the components of a game are as nice as the gameplay, but there are two elements of Kingsport Festival: TCG that really make it shine. The first is the titular cards that make up the bulk of the game. The artwork on the tarot-sized cards depicting the various gods, lesser gods, demons, and evil corgis (I kid) from the Mythos is dark and shows off the creatures to good/evil effect. I have to admit that these are some of my favorite depictions of the creatures from Lovecraft’s mind I’ve seen. They really look threatening here. The portraits on the cards presenting the investigators/evil cultists look dignified, a little creepy, and mysterious, as is only right for nogoodniks taking on Cthulhu’s worst. The graphic design is really classy with easily interpreted iconography and border artwork. Equal care has been taken with the backs of the cards, which have appropriately aged and Victorian elements. The only parts to this game are the cards and the dice. Wait, this is a card game, right?

Well, yes and no.

Although cards make up the lion’s share of the game, there is a heavy dice aspect as well, and these are some NICE dice. I’m a SUCKER for custom dice, and Kingsport Festival: TCG comes loaded with them. There are three types of dice: a white d10 with a clock icon on one face, brain-pink (a nice touch) d12 dice representing the player’s sanity with a Sanity icon on one face, and grey Domain d6 dice with three types of domain faces: purple Evil, black Death, and red Destruction. All of the dice are high-quality and engraved, not printed, with easily recognizable faces for ease of play and match up nicely with the icons on the game’s cards. Squee! Wonderfully evil custom dice!

SETUP:
Set up is pretty basic. All of the cards depicting the horrid gods are displayed in order of their power in six rows within reach of all of the players. The total number of copies of each type of god card is dictated by how many people are playing, so the number varies. Each player gets one of the brain-ilicious d12s with which to track their sanity and sets it to 10. All players white timer die, with the high roller taking the role of the starting player. Then each player sets their Sanity die to 10 (yes, the value can be increased up to 12 through game effects. That player takes the white d10 and sets it to the clock face. Players can pick an investigator card, but I suggest dealing them out at random to each player to liven things up (before they get driven insane, of course).

GAMEPLAY:
Gameplay is equally simple, yet strangely engaging. The first player takes the white timer d10, passes it to the next player to their left, who turns it to the number 1, effectively creating a timer that will count up from 1 to 10, ending the game. That player becomes the starting player. Once the white die is passed, the passing player increases their Sanity by one, as will be the mechanic throughout the rest of the game.

At the start of a game, the players will have no cards in their hands. They acquire them throughout the game, but we’ll talk about a general turn. The starting player rolls one of the domain dice and notes the resultant face. If they have cards to play, now is when they would play them. The card effects are varied. They might instruct the player to roll more dice, add specified domains to their pool of domains, change rolled die faces, etc. There are many possibilities. After the player has played all the cards they wish to and resolved the card effects, the player may spend the resources/domains gained through the dice they’ve rolled and the cards they have played to buy ONE god from the displayed cards and add it to their hand. It should be noted that players are limited to one and only one copy of each available god.

Once the player has completed their turn, they check to see if the round indicator on the white d10 matches one of the Raid rounds shown on the investigator card at the very bottom. If the numbers match, the player must compare the Gun icons on his cards to the strength of the raid indicated on his character card. If the Cultist’s strength is greater, he gains the difference in Sanity points. If the Cultist’s strength matches the Raid strength, they neither gain nor lose Sanity. If the Cultist’s strength is less than the Raid strength, they lose the difference in Sanity points. After this, the next player to the left will take their turn.

WINNING:
The game ends at the end of the ninth round, unless a Cultist is able to invoke the Elder God Azathoth, which results in dogs and cats sleeping together (no, not really). The cultists look at all of their god cards and add up the Elder God symbols at the bottom of each card. The Cultist with the most Elder God symbols/points at the end of the game WINS!

FINAL THOUGHTS:
So, there you have it: an epic battle between creepy Cultists and ghoulish Gods in one rather small box. I’ll get to the point. I really like H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport Festival: The Card Game. I happen to be fond of little filler games like this. The box lists the playtime for this game as 30 min, but once the players know the rules, you can cut playtime down to 20 min, easy. It lists the age limit at 13+, which I think is absurd. There is nothing in the theme or artwork that would preclude players 10 and up from playing, other than rule complexity. Between the awesome art, the devilish dice, and the rad rules (ugh…), there is not much to dislike about this game… other than the hellish rules. You may be asking what I mean. The rules seem easy. They ARE. It’s the rulebook that is a pain in the neck. For some reason, the graphic designer (I’m looking at you, Savini -no, not Tom-) decided to print all of the rule examples in the book in a nearly unreadable “old-timey” font that is TINY. I think they thought they were adding flavor. If so, that flavor is YUCKY. When learning a new game, you want crystal-clear rules, not something you have to squint and struggle over, like this sad, arcane tome. The same hellish font appears on the cards in places, as well, making me one unhappy game collector. You may look past it, but I had a hard time doing so. Other than that, though, the game is great fun, a nice way to fill in time between bigger games, and beautiful to look at. You make your own judgement.

PRODUCT DETAILS:
Designer: Gianluca Santopietro
Artist: Maichol Quinto and Demis Savini
Publisher: Passport Games/ Giochi Uniti
Published: 2016
Players/Playtime/Age Rating: 3 -5 players/30 min/13+ (seriously?)

RATING:
3/5


Last Meeple Standing is brought to you by Villainous Lair Comics & Games, the ultimate destination for board game fanatics in Southern California. For more information visit the official Villainous Lair Comics & Games website, “Like” the Villainous Lair Facebook page and be sure to follow Villainous Lair on Twitter and Instagram.

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