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Exclusive: Craig Spector to Direct Dead Lines, Denesa Chan to Co-Produce

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Exclusive: Craig Spector to Direct Dead Lines, Denesa Chan to Co-ProduceFresh into the international premiere of her horror-comedy film Hail Satan! at Fantastic Planet Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, actress-producer Denesa Chan has announced that her next project will pair her with author-turned-director Craig Spector for the feature Dead Lines.

Adapted by Spector from his bestselling novel of the same name, Dead Lines is (according to the PR), “a ghost story of seduction and psycho-sexual manipulation between two young women and the man who killed himself in their NYC loft before they moved in — and whose soul has become trapped in the subatomic DNA of the place. It’s a sensually charged and viscerally disturbing portrait of a toxic love triangle between the living and the dead. Meryl thought she had found the perfect fantasy, and he wants inside of her completely. But what if her dream come true is a hellish nightmare that refuses to leave?”

“I had already been working on another Spector project, and I was instantly gripped by the writing,” Chan told us yesterday from Australia. “Every color, every sensation, thought and experience was turned up to a deliciously intense 11 out of 10, and Dead Lines was particularly captivating. I was drawn to the part of ‘Meryl’: an intense loner, guarded and fierce, longing to connect, to be seen, heard and felt. She’s a hopelessly romantic child in a woman’s body who finally opens up to an equally passionate man, only to discover that he is twisted and feral. Meryl is an actor’s wet dream, or wet nightmare, come true.”

The Dead Lines script was written by Craig Spector (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Animals) and Philip Nutman, co-writer of the Jack Ketchum adaptation of The Girl Next Door, and is based off the novel by John Skipp and Craig Spector. It’s Spector’s directorial debut. Dead Lines will be the first co-production between Chan’s Fierce Pixie Films and Spector’s Serendipity Creative, with veteran scribe Nutman.

“I’ve never really planned on directing, but I have a clear vision for this film, and given some of my previous film experiences, I feel like it’s time for me to step up,” Spector explained from Los Angeles. “I’m very excited and a little nervous, but I have a great team working with me so I’m psyched!”

“We are thrilled to have a solid core team and are currently considering other key players, including DP, FX and casting,” said Chan. “We’re shooting the trailer summer 2012 for a 2013 production. Production is slated for a 21-day shoot in New York and Los Angeles.”

“We’re opting to shoot on 35mm in order to achieve a 21st century ‘Nuevo Retro’ old school vibe,” Spector said of the intended look of Dead Lines. “Think young Scorsese grittiness meets the flesh-crawling creepiness of early Cronenberg. Dead Lines will be an inexorably intimate descent into surrender and submission, control and carnality, dominance and destruction, and one woman’s nightmare fight for her freedom and survival.”

Dead Lines is currently fundraising for a budget under a million dollars and planning on a 2014 theatrical, DVD and VOD release.

Given his prolific literary accomplishments and vast source material, we asked Spector, “Why Dead Lines?”

“It’s perhaps my most intimate and character-driven story to date,” Spector answered. “It’s very scary, very creepy, very ‘in the skin’ of the characters, and thus perfect for an indie horror movie. It’s also a very women-driven story, which I think is important in the evolution of the genre: we need more kick-ass roles for women. Jack is a bastard and a user, and he’s after both Meryl and Katie, but it’s really Meryl’s movie. He seduces her through her dreams, he needs her to literally let him in, and she has no idea what’s in store for her if and when she does. Her journey is our journey through the story.”

Of this, Spector is confident is his choice of Chan for the film’s lead and as co-producer.

“The character of Meryl is a very strong-willed, smart and emotionally armored young woman who comes to New York City to make it on her own,” said Spector. “She mourns the childhood loss of her mother and wants to escape her overbearing and controlling father, and she’s very much a loner. She finds a friend in Katie, another young woman who came to the big city to find something and escape something. And when Meryl discovers the mysterious secret of Jack — the brooding, fatally romantic writer who lived and died in the apartment and left his unpublished manuscript hidden in a crawlspace — his dark vision stirs something in her. She starts fantasizing about him, dreaming about him. What Meryl doesn’t know is that Jack’s soul is trapped there… and the energy of her fantasies is bringing him back.”

“I first met Denesa on another project, and I had this instant feeling that she was perfect to play Meryl,” Spector concluded. “When I approached her with the role and we started talking, it instantly confirmed that she was born to play this part. Her grasp of the material and insights into its layers are dead-on; I feel like I wrote it for her. Plus, seeing what she accomplished as the producer of Hail Satan! made me want to work with her even more.”

Chan is equally enthusiastic.

“I’m honored to be working with Craig on his directorial debut,” she said. “He is uniquely suited to direct this film because he knows the story and characters inside and out. I’ve worked with many directors and have never met one who got so deeply inside the soul of the characters. Craig transcends the flat page and screen and brings entire worlds to life with tantalizing detail. He also has a background in the visual arts, which is instantly recognizable in his writing. His novels read more like films than books.”

Exclusive: Craig Spector to Direct Dead Lines, Denesa Chan to Co-Produce

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Dread Central UK Enjoys a Box of IT

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One of the best things about writing for Dread Central is the cool gifts companies send us in exchange for covering their releases.

With Stephen King’s It now being available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, Warner Bros. were kind enough to send me an It-themed gift box absolutely free of charge. I collected this beautiful piece of merchandise from Organic Marketing’s London headquarters, and it is quite possibly my favorite thing in the world. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Inside this beautiful box were four Pennywise-themed cupcakes, a Pennywise Vinyl Pop figure in its original packaging, a laminated flyer, and of course, a copy of the film on Blu-ray. As you can see from the images below, a red balloon, just like the one held by Pennywise in the film, was attached to the box, although I’m sorry to say that it has now been burst (and I’m keeping the remains).

It, which now has the honor of being the highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time, was directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Finn Wolfhard. With the film now being available on home video in the UK, you shouldn’t waste any time ordering your copy, especially since we gave it a perfect score in our review.

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Fearsome Facts

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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Reviews

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.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

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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