Screamfest LA 2011 Exclusive: Filmmakers Talk Stormhouse U.S. Premiere - Dread Central
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Screamfest LA 2011 Exclusive: Filmmakers Talk Stormhouse U.S. Premiere

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The supernatural feature Stormhouse is set for its U.S. premiere at the Screamfest LA Film Festival on Saturday, October 22nd, and in honor of the occasion we spoke with the film’s writer Jason Arnopp and director Dan Turner.

Penned by Arnopp and produced by he and Dean Fisher with directorial duties handled by Turner, Stormhouse stars Katie Flynn (daughter of Jane Seymour), Grahame Fox, Patrick Flynn and Grant Masters. The film’s synopsis is as follows: Six months before the invasion of Iraq, the British military caught and imprisoned a supernatural entity at a secret base in the English countryside. This film documents the days that followed, culminating in a battle that transcends their worst nightmares.

Filmed last year, director Turner told us of the Stormhouse production, “The whole turnaround from script to screen was very, very fast. We had the idea in May 2010, and by August 2010 we were shooting. The premise came out of the blue and was, ‘What if the military actually had captured a ghost?’ Ordinarily, horror films work under a ‘Where is it?’, or ‘What is it?’ kind of structure, but we wanted to say, ‘They caught it. It happened, and look how scary it is’. Plus, it’s a frightening notion to wonder what the repercussions might be of capturing a supernatural entity.”

Offered writer and producer Arnopp, “Stormhouse’s gestation was pretty speedy. That was a really thrilling time. The shoot was dictated by the availability of the location, which was a disused military base in Suffolk, England, where we wanted to film.”

“It was immediately evident that we needed it (due to the narrative), and preferably one that was still in good condition,” said Turner regarding the military base. “As soon as we arrived to check it out, it was apparent that we had the perfect location. It was challenging, though, because it was in the middle of nowhere with no phone signals or anything approaching civilization. And of course, that only added to the whole atmosphere!”

Working on elements of the script post-location lock, “As I wrote it, I was receiving photographs and production design artwork of the exact places where we’d be shooting,” related Arnopp, “and I plastered the walls of my office with them, which really helped give me the feel, and establish various logistics, too.”

Filmed over the course of three weeks, Arnopp stated of Stormhouse’s principal photography, “We got everything we needed in that time. I can tell you that the budget was under £100K, but we aspired to make it look and feel like way more, thanks to Dan’s attitude to directing, our brilliant director of photography Richard Swingle and all our tireless crew.”

Like any independent film shot on a tight schedule, Turner related, “Every day was a challenge! The visual effects-heavy days were the most grueling. It takes time and patience to get the right elements that can then be used by the visual effects artists.”

Speaking with the director concerning his approach to the flick (it’s not a ‘found-footage’ film per se, although it is interspersed with surveillance clips), “It’s important to say that we never set out to go down a path stylistically,” said Turner. “The script informed the shooting choices, which is how it should be. It can be a hindrance to go down one path like ‘found-footage’ as it can tie you up creatively. You begin to wonder how someone is filming, why they are filming, etc., and in a military base where they have caught a supernatural entity, we felt the military would not want someone with a camera walking around! Instead, it made sense that the military would want to record everything in the ‘holding area’ where the entity was being held captive so we used CCTV for that because any kind of movement or sound could be captured night or day, with time and date stamps. Technology was also a consideration, as we set Stormhouse in 2002.”

Given the now period setting of the film, we questioned Arnopp if there was any intended geo-political subtext in the wartime narrative. “There’s nothing too heavy in it, in all honesty,” the writer and producer answered. “The post-9/11 setting simply gave us an effective backdrop for the film. 2002 saw the world still shaken by that terrible event and more concerned with security than ever. If the military had caught a supernatural entity back then, their first priority wouldn’t have been to use it to discover all the profound secrets of life and death, as our lead in the film hopes to do.”

Of their lead (actress Katie Flynn) and other Stormhouse cast members, “We really lucked out,” reflected Arnopp. “Perhaps the most random piece of luck was the fact that our LA-based star Katie was on holiday in the UK when the Stormhouse casting calls were put out! Katie extended her stay in order to shoot this movie. We’re very glad she did that, as she put so much into it.”

As in any filmmaking venture, a movie comes to life (or death) during post, and Turner related of that, “It was pretty long due to the intensive visual effects we had in the film. The VFX had to be realistic and not feel like VFX, if that makes sense. So that takes longer. That level of authenticity requires a lot of time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it. Editing the film was quite tricky, too. Horror is all about pace and pulling an audience in and not letting go. The jumps and the scares have to be carefully timed.”

“One of the best things we did in post was to invite a bunch of horror fans, lured from the London Film4 FrightFest’s forums, to watch an early cut of Stormhouse at London’s plush BAFTA venue,” said Arnopp. “Afterwards we gauged reactions and asked questions. More than anything, though, we encouraged the audience to ask questions of us, and some of those frequently asked questions really helped us step the finished film up in terms of storytelling clarity and impact.”

As for the Screamfest debut of Stormhouse, “It’s the perfect place to hold our U.S. premiere for the movie!” concluded Arnopp. “I’ve attended the festival twice before and loved it both times. The festival’s director and founder Rachel Belofsky is a true supporter and connoisseur of the horror genre, and the event’s advisory board seriously reads like a ‘who’s who’ of horror. I really hope people enjoy this ghost story from across the water! U.S. horror fans will also be glad to hear that it was recently rated ‘R’, mainly for violence and gore.”

For more info “like” Stormhouse on Facebook and follow Stormhouse on Twitter.

If you’re planning to hit Screamfest before it wraps up on October 22nd, buy tickets here.

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George A. Romero’s Daughter, Tina, Wrote a Script For Queens of the Dead

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The loss last year of director George A. Romero was a huge blow to the horror community, as well as the filmmaking community at large. The passing of the man responsible for creating the modern day zombie and whose work influenced “The Walking Dead”, Dead Alive, 28 Days Later, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out was felt far and wide but we take solace knowing that his work and legacy will live on forever.

Something that brings a smile to my face is hearing that his daughter, Tina, who DJ’s under the name DJ TRx, has written a screenplay for a zombie film that is called Queens of the Dead. And yes, it’s very gay! Romero has not only written the script but also plans on directing the film herself.

Romero tells The Saunder Blog about the film, saying, “Queens of the Dead is a fusion of two huge parts of my world: zombies and Gay nightlife. It’s a tribute to my father as well as my entrée into the genre he grandfathered. I can’t say too much yet, but what I can tell you is that this film will have all the hallmarks of a George A. Romero classic: farce, politics, heroes, assholes, and most importantly, herds of silly and slow moving walkers that you can’t help but love. But I’m doing it Tina-style, and bringing the glitter, choreography, queers & queens.

Romero’s father always brought some sort of social message into his work, so to hear that she will continue that tradition is inspiring, especially since it comes on a topic that is so discussed and topical.

If you want to read more about Romero and her DJ career, click on the link above.

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?

Wanna See Something REALLY Scary? Local 58 Contingency Emergency Broadcast

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary

“Wanna see something REALLY scary?”

To horror fans who came of age in the 1980s, the line above instantly evokes memories of Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks in the opening scene from Twilight Zone: The Movie. Now, on a bi-monthly basis, I’ll be asking, “Wanna see something REALLY scary?” with the goal of shocking you with chilling footage plumbed from the darkest corners of YouTube.

As a child of the Cold War born in the 1970s and traumatized by films like The Day After and Threads, I remember immediately panicking every time an Emergency Broadcast broke into a TV show I was watching. That alarming tone made my stomach drop and in the moments before it was confirmed to be “only a test” I had already imagined a barrage of nuclear warheads bursting overhead.

My heart went out to the residents of Hawaii who, due to a false alarm, believed a missile attack was imminent this weekend. For almost 40 minutes, families scrambled into fallout shelters, bathrooms, and even storm drains, believing war had begun between the United States and North Korea. Even after the all-clear was announced and the warning revealed as a mistake, nerves were severely rattled. I can only imagine the potential long-term damage done to the psyches of Hawaii’s youngest residents.

For a taste of the pandemonium that occurred, check out an excerpt from CNN’s reporting below.

While the shock must have been unprecedented for most, a bizarre alert that accidentally aired in the late 1960s puts the Hawaii debacle to shame. What viewers of a local station saw just before the end of programming at 3 am was a message announcing the fall of the US Government, and included instructions for committing suicide rather than surrendering to enemy forces.

Wanna see something REALLY scary?

The message bore the seal of The U.S. Department for the Preservation of American Dignity, included a statement from President Lyndon B. Johnson, and warned that failure to commit suicide as instructed would have consequences:

“Your local law enforcement has been ordered to ensure your compliance,” the message cautioned. “It is against the law to delay.” The final instructions remind adult viewers to put down their children and pets first while promising “There is nothing to fear.” Though the station later posted a statement ensuring viewers the message was a hoax, the potential loss of life this broadcast could have inspired is staggering. Have a look:

If the Local 58 Contingency, as it’s become known, seems too outlandish to be true, that’s because it isn’t. Though the video doesn’t include an admission of fiction, it’s written and directed by Kris Straub. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the writer of the popular creepypasta Candle Cove, recently adapted into a TV series on SyFy.

Still, the vintage look of the Local 58 Contingency, not to mention the current climate of heightened tensions between American and a rogue nuclear nation, make this video a truly terrifying viewing experience.

Got an idea for a future installment of “Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?” Hit me up on Twitter @josh_millican!

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The Housemaid Haunts a New Trailer

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Here’s the thing… if we had the choice between cleaning up our own house or being haunted by a vengeful spectral servant of sorts, well… just hand us a friggin’ mop, wouldja already? Still, in the case of The Housemaid, it looks like nothing is gonna stop her from sensing shivers! Dig on this new trailer.

Derek Nguyen directs the flick, which stars Kate Nhung, Jean-Michel Richaud, Kim Xuan, Svitlana Kovalenko, and Rosie Fellner. Look for IFC Midnight’s release of The Housemaid coming to select theaters, VOD, and via Digital platforms in the U.S. on February 16, 2018.

Synopsis:
A forbidden passion awakens vengeful spirits within a haunted mansion in this bloodcurdling, erotic tour-de-force.

Vietnam, 1953: Linh (Nhung Kate), a poor, orphaned young woman, finds employment as a housemaid in a crumbling rubber plantation presided over by the emotionally fragile French officer Sebastien Laurent (Jean-Michel Richaud). Soon, a torrid love affair develops between the two – a taboo romance that rouses the ghost of Laurent’s dead wife, who won’t rest until blood flows.

Submerged in moody Gothic atmosphere, this stylish supernatural saga confronts the dark shadows of Vietnam’s colonial past while delivering heart-stopping scares.

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