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SXSW 2012 Film Festival Announces Midnight Features and Short Films

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SXSW 2012The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival has announced the highly anticipated features in its Midnighters section, as well as the complete short films lineup, which will debut at this year’s Festival from March 9-17, 2012 in Austin, Texas.

The eleven films announced in the 2012 Midnighters program include a feast of titles that promise to rouse, haunt, and thrill the eager SXSW late-night audiences with an eclectic mix of thrills from genre filmmakers at the top of their game.

“Though our regular program already includes a healthy sampling of genre fare, the Midnighters section highlights those that go a bit crazier, gorier, and all-around balls out-ier,” said SXSW Senior Programmer and Operations Manager Jarod Neece. “This year’s program includes both veteran names with anticipated follow-ups and fresh discoveries with new voices and charts otherworldly, insane territories that breathe new life into horror conventions.”

The SXSW Film Festival will open on Friday, March 9th, with the world premiere of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods. In addition to nine full days of film screenings, SXSW Film will ultimately feature over 100 informative and entertaining panels, workshops, mini-meetings, and mentor sessions. The final conference lineup and remaining late addition features will be announced February 15th.

Joining the previously announced features (learn more about them here), the Midnighters additions to the 2012 SXSW lineup are as follows:

The Aggression Scale – World Premiere
Director: Steven C. Miller, Screenwriter: Ben Powell
Cast: Fabianne Therese, Ryan Hartwig, Dana Ashbrook, Derek Mears, Jacob Reynolds, Joseph McKelheer, Boyd Kestner, Lisa Rotondi, Ray Wise
4 hitmen + $500,000 of stolen cash + 1 family = WAR

Citadel (Ireland, Scotland) – World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Ciarán Foy
Cast: Anuerin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wumni Mosaku, Jake Wilson, Amy Shiels
An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children.

Girls Against Boys – World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Austin Chick
Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Nicole LaLiberte, Liam Aiken, Michael Stahl-David, Andrew Howard
A psychological thriller about two girls on a killing spree. With edgy and ironic humor and a darkly meditative tone, it is also a coming-of-age story about a girl learning how the world really works.

Intruders (Spain, UK) – US Premiere
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Screenwriters: Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques
Cast: Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala
The haunting story of two children living in different countries, each visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them.

Iron Sky (Finland, Germany, Australia) – North American Premiere
Director: Timo Vuorensola, Screenwriters: Michael Kalesniko, Timo Vuorensola
Cast: Julia Dietze, Götz Otto, Christopher Kirby, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul, Tilo Prückner, Michael Cullen, Udo Kier
In 1945 the Nazis went to the moon; in 2018 they are coming back.

John Dies at the End
Director/Screenwriter: Don Coscarelli
Cast: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman
On the street it’s called “soy sauce,” a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is under way. Can college dropouts John and Dave save humanity? No, they can’t.

Modus Anomali (Indonesia) – World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Joko Anwar
Cast: Rio Dewanto, Hannah Al Rashid, Izziati Amara Isman, Aridh Tritama, Surya Saputra, Marsha Timothy, Sadha Triyudha, Jose Gamo
A man tries to save his family who go missing during a vacation in the forest.

[REC]3: GENESIS (Spain) – World Premiere
Director: Paco Plaza
Screenwriters: Luiso Berdejo, Paco Plaza
Cast: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin
Koldo and Clara’s wedding is horrifically interrupted when some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding.

Super Secret Screening
Be the first to see this feature film coming to theaters near you.

The Tall Man – World Premiere
Director/Screenwriter: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie, William B. Davis
When her child goes missing, a mother looks to unravel the legend of the Tall Man, an entity who allegedly abducts children.

V/H/S
Directors: Ti West, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence
Screenwriters: Ti West, Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Radio Silence, Glenn McQuaid
Cast: Joe Swanberg, Calvin Reeder, Kate Lynn Shiel, Sophia Takal, Lane Hughes, Helen Rogers, Adam Wingard
A group of misfits are hired to burglarize a house in the countryside and acquire a rare tape. The guys are confronted with a dead body and an endless supply of cryptic footage, each video stranger than the last…

As for the shorts, 135 short films were selected from 3,306 short film submissions and will screen as part of twelve overall shorts programs. Rather than list them all here, we recommend you browse the official South by Southwest lineup for all the details on the narrative shorts, documentary shorts, SX global shorts, animated shorts, midnight shorts, music videos, Texas shorts, and Texas high school shorts.

“The shorts selected this year truly maximize the form’s potential. They employ clear directorial vision and draw the audience in with original characters, revealing the constant struggle to define identity,” said Shorts Programmer Claudette Godfrey. “While many of these films exist near the boundary between narrative and documentary, they ultimately cultivate their own terms, which is exactly what SXSW is all about.”

Visit the official South by Southwest website for more, and register for a Film, Gold or Platinum Badge by clicking here.

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

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Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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