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Exclusive Interview: Cloris Leachman Talks The Fields and More

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Exclusive Interview: Cloris Leachman Talks The Fields and MoreIn the upcoming thriller The Fields, award-winning actress and comedienne Cloris Leachman portrays Gladys, a protective grandmother whose family is being harassed and threatened by a group of transients passing through her small town.

Directed by Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni, The Fields also stars Tara Reid, Joshua Ormond, Bev Appleton and Brian Anthony Wilson. On April 24th, the indie thriller comes home on DVD and in honor of its release, Dread Central had the opportunity to briefly chat with Leachman about her role in the project as well as more on her experiences working on the indie thriller and what other films the actress has coming up.

Dread Central: So how did you get involved with The Fields then?

Cloris Leachman: Well, I got involved the usual way- my manager brought me the script and since I’m originally from Iowa, the rural aspects of this story really interested me. I also really liked this role- there was no ego in it and she was a strong-willed woman who wasn’t written to be your typical overbearing mother character. She was stubborn but she had a heart too and her grandson was part of what kept that character very humanized.

Dread Central: In The Fields, the story uses the Manson Murders as a way to set up this eerie atmosphere in the story; did you follow what happened with Manson and everyone back then and is that something that affected your world at all when it was happening?

Cloris Leachman: Well, I never really felt my world impacted by the Manson Murders the way these characters were impacted; I do remember all the news reports and stories in the papers but it’s not something that affected me at all when it happened. It’s some pretty creepy stuff though when you think about it.

Dread Central: Can you talk a bit about your experiences making this film since I know it was an independent project with somewhat limited resources?

Cloris Leachman: Yeah, our shoot was pretty bare bones but it was a lot of fun to make this movie. When we got out into the farm house, it felt really natural and I settled in quickly. I really felt like that was my farmhouse, that was my kitchen and this was my real family that I was working with. It was wonderful. I felt at home in this world and loved making this movie.

Dread Central: Since you don’t necessarily do a lot of thrillers, did you have to change up anything with your approach while working on The Fields?

Cloris Leachman: I wouldn’t say that I had to change anything really. I mean- sure, I’ve done a lot of theater and comedy work in my career so it’s nice having that experience in your back pocket on something like this thriller; usually I’m keeping in mind pacing for laughs but on this, it was more about just keeping an overall steady pace as a performer.

I’ve studied the piano and I have found that music is very much like acting- it’s all about the different rhythms and getting them to sync up to make a melody. That’s how it is when you’re acting alongside other performers or with your director- everyone has their own rhythm so bring all of that together and do the best we can to make it a wonderful experience.

Dread Central: With The Fields coming out soon and “Raising Hope” doing so well on Fox, do you have any plans for more feature film work in the future?

Cloris Leachman: Absolutely; it’s pretty easy to balance television and movies so I like to keep doing both while I can. I’ve got a few movies coming out including Gambit with the Coen brothers and Adult World with Emma Roberts. I’m really excited to see how those turned out.

Exclusive Interview: Cloris Leachman Talks The Fields and More

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Giallo Makes A Comeback With Crystal Eyes

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The giallo genre has somewhat fallen off the radar in recent years, but that’s all about to change with the new Argentinian film Crystal Eyes (original title: Mirada de Cristal). Set in 1985, the film’s about a series of murders taking place in the glamorous and colorful fashion world, so it sounds like a true giallo throwback.

Crystal Eyes was directed by Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, and stars Silvia Montanari, Anahí Politi, Erika Boveri, and Claudio Armesto. It screened at both the Mar del Plata International Film Festival and the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre Film Festival, and received a great audience reception at both. We were sent the trailer for the film along with the poster and a bunch of lobby cards, which we proudly present below.

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Black Christmas Blu-ray Review – Making Its U.K. Debut From 101 Films

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Starring Keir Dullea, Olivia Hussey, John Saxon, Art Hindle

Directed by Bob Clark

Distributed by 101 Films


There is only one Bob Clark Christmas movie I watch each year and it doesn’t feature Ralphie and his Red Ryder fantasies.

The endurance of Clark’s 1974 legendary slasher, Black Christmas, can be chalked up to a number of factors but the greatest is this: it is a disturbing film. I frequently come across horror message board topics asking for genuinely scary titles devoid of jump scares and excessive gore, but oddly enough Black Christmas doesn’t get many mentions. Maybe because it has been relegated to the “seasonal viewing only” heap? Regardless, fans will agree that the unsettling events portrayed don’t diminish with repeat viewings; if anything, subsequent watching serves to reinforce that it is a standout among a sea of imitators. The film is also a noted influence on John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) – arguably the granddaddy of slasher films – adding a bit of prestige to its legacy.

The girls of Pi Kappa Sig are throwing a holiday party before the Christmas break when, toward the end of the night, they receive a phone call from a man they’ve been calling “The Moaner”, who has a habit of calling and making unusual noises. Jess (Olivia Hussey) initially accepts the call but also allows her other sisters to listen in, prompting outspoken Barb (Margot Kidder) to jump on the line and goad this mystery man. She and Phyllis (Andrea Martin) argue over the possibility this guy may be more threatening than anyone realizes. Unbeknownst to the ladies partying downstairs, however, moments before the phone call came through an unidentified person (very likely this same caller) snuck up the side of the house and into the attic. And once the party wraps up that same person is found hiding in Claire’s (Lynne Griffin) closet, whereupon she is strangled and placed in a rocking chair in the attic.

The next day Claire’s father comes to the campus to meet her and is understandably stood up. He heads to the sorority house and reports her missing, at which point the girls and their housemother, Mrs. Mac (Marian Waldman), agree to help him locate her. The file a report with the police, led by Lt. Fuller (John Saxon), and Jess also wrangles in Claire’s semi-boyfriend, Chris (Art Hindle), who helps bolster the search by raising hell at the station. Jess, meanwhile, is having problems of her own after confessing to her boyfriend, Peter (Keir Dullea), she is pregnant. She wants an abortion; he is vehemently against it. Claire’s absence grows more concerning when another missing girl is found dead in a nearby park, prompting the cops to ramp up their efforts. The girls are being picked off one by one as the unseen assailant remains hidden in the attic, continuing his phone calls that come after each murder. The cops suspect Peter may be a person of interest, as his interactions with Jess have become increasingly aggressive, but everyone is in for a shock when a tap on the line reveals the true source of the calls – they are coming from within the house.

With the film having been around for over forty years, and fans having been sold one “upgraded” home video version after the next, I suspect most readers are more interested in how Scream Factory’s Blu-ray stacks up against similar editions – which is basically my way of saying this review is a bit glib. For the uninitiated, however, let me say that I cannot overstate how exceptional Clark’s film is – never giving the killer an identity, an entire subplot concerning abortion, a palpable sense of grief for Claire’s father, a cast of interesting, unique people who don’t ever feel like archetypes, and a potentially downer of an ending. Some of his moviemaking tricks are brilliant, like the decision to create Billy’s voice from a combination of three different people (one a woman) and using interchangeable actors to portray the killer so you’re never quite sure who is in the attic. Carl Zittrer’s score is disorienting and minimal, making use of odd instrumentation to add extra unease; it also appears infrequently, giving the movie more of a real life quality. Black Christmas was a reasonable success upon release, more so commercially than critically, but time has been kind to this old gem and many now view it as an outright horror classic.

Hell, it was Elvis’ favorite Christmas movie.

Cult label 101 Films is giving the film its U.K. debut, presenting a transfer that is nearly identical to the remastered version Scream Factory released last year in North America. That 1.85:1 1080p picture is very likely the best this film can and will ever look. Black Christmas has a long home video history of looking very grainy, murky, dulled, and soft. I can’t say the new disc’s results are far off that mark but there are clear improvements. For one, grain has been resolved in a tighter field that looks less “noisy” and more “grindhouse-y”; do not expect an image clear as a crystal unicorn by any means. There is still softness to many faces and objects though detail looks far better here than it ever has before. Colors are more vibrant, too. Black levels run on the hazy side but they’re more stable than ever. The only noticeable difference between the Scream Factory and 101 Films versions are the latter is a touch brighter, allowing for a little more detail to filter through.

Audio is available via an English LPCM 5.1 surround sound track or a 2.0 stereo option. The multi-channel effort grants the unsettling soundtrack and Billy’s insane vocalizations more room to breathe, ratcheting up the creepiness thanks to the sense of immersion. Unlike the Scream Factory edition, the original mono track is not included.

Only a handful of extra features have been included, all of which can be found on the Scream Factory edition, too.

“Film and Furs: Remembering Black Christmas with Art Hindle” – Hindle, who still owns that jacket, talks about being a working actor in Canada when there wasn’t much work, as well as how he wound up auditioning for Clark for a different role.

“Victims and Virgins: Remembering Black Christmas with Lynne Griffin” – The actress who is most famous for having a plastic bag over her head tells a few tales from the set.

“Black Christmas Legacy” – This is a lot of interviews from the film’s actors and notable fans. I found it to be a bit tedious.

A handful of original TV and radio spots have been included, along with the “40th Anniversary Reunion Panel: Fan Expo Canada 2014”.

The package also includes a fold-out poster, reversible cover art, and a DVD copy.

Special Features:

  • Film and Furs: Remembering Black Christmas with Art Hindle
  • Victims and Virgins: Remembering Black Christmas with Lynne Griffin
  • Black Christmas Legacy
  • Original TV and Radio spots
  • 40th Anniversary Reunion Panel: Fan Expo Canada 2014
  • Black Christmas
  • Special Features
4.0

Summary

This is an easy recommendation for purchase if you live in the U.K., since this is the film’s Blu-ray debut. Stateside readers may find this region-free version attractive due to the price, but know that it does contain significantly fewer extras than the in-print Scream Factory release. Either way, fans on both sides of the Atlantic have a version worth buying.

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Take Out Serves Up Some KILLER Chinese Food

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Just when we thought that we’ve seen it all… the good folks over at Funny or Die have uploaded a flick that will terrify you for 4 minutes, and then an hour later you’ll be hungry again! That’s right, kids… steel your nerves for the arrival of Take Out!

The film from director Joe Douglass stars Tricia Alley, Jon Barbee, Junie Hoang, and Douglass. What happens when some leftover Chinese food decides to bite back? Found out right here, right now! Then vote… Funny? Or DIE?!?

Enjoy!

Take Out – watch more funny videos

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