Exclusive Interview: Filmmaker Jesse Thomas Cook Talks Monster Brawl, Ejecta and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive Interview: Filmmaker Jesse Thomas Cook Talks Monster Brawl, Ejecta and More



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In Jesse Thomas Cook’s Monster Brawl, we see the Canadian filmmaker blend both his love for the horror genre and classic ‘80s professional wrestling in the flick that features eight classic movie monsters fighting in the ultimate death match set in a haunted graveyard.

The independent horror/comedy/wrestling hybrid stars Dave Foley, Art Hingle and Lance Henriksen as the narrator as well as a handful of professional wrestlers including Kevin Nash, “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart and Robert Maillet.

Monster Brawl hit DVD and Blu-ray shelves everywhere this week, and in honor of the flick’s recent release courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment, Dread Central recently had the opportunity to chat with Cook about his ambitious project as well as whether or not fans can expect to see Monster Brawl 2 in the future- or perhaps even a bigger budget remake of the flick, which could very well be in the works soon.

Check out the highlights of our exclusive interview with Cook below, and make sure to check out Monster Brawl now that it is available everywhere!

Dread Central: I’d love to start off by hearing more about how Monster Brawl came about and more on your approach to creating this world where you blend together both horror and wrestling- two of my own personal faves.

Jesse Thomas Cook: Mine too; I knew that both professional wrestling and horror movies- especially the classic movie monsters- have huge followings so that was a huge draw for me. But I guess this all really starts off with us wanting to create a production company that would produce 10 films in our home town of Collingwood up here in Canada. We wanted to start off with a flagship film that would be our calling card and would get us noticed, and I figured that something that blended horror and wrestling would definitely appeal to a lot of people out there.

So we began throwing around ideas to do a comedy/horror movie, and that’s when I started thinking of all the different kinds of monsters that everyone loves and how much fun it would be to see them take on each other, kind of similar to Freddy vs. Jason but with an actual wrestling setting. Doing it in an isolated pay-per-view style event helped with the fact that one, we couldn’t afford a bunch of extras and two, you wouldn’t want a bunch of monsters on the loose anyway- so the graveyard idea really worked for us.

Dread Central: Considering that you guys made this independently and had to come up with a handful of monsters, did it ever strike you while putting this together just how ambitious a movie concept like this really is? Did you guys have to make any concessions because of the budget?

Jesse Thomas Cook: Oh yeah, it was definitely ambitious from the start just because we were creating something that we didn’t think had ever been done before, but then as we started putting all the pieces in place for production, I think we all then realized just how ambitious all of this would end up being for the budget. We only had 20 days to shoot everything, and our schedule included 20 different locations and working with 40 actors, too, so it was definitely a monumental challenge to say the very least.

And yeah, we did have to make some concessions. There was always talk of having a sasquatch and yeti tag team, but those are both expensive creatures so they had to come out. We also had an idea of a group of zombies versus a group of trolls, but that would have been really expensive so it never really worked out. Maybe for the next one (laughs).

Dread Central: Well let’s talk about the creatures and how you went about the design of them for the film. Who did you work with for all the effects?

Jesse Thomas Cook: We worked with a special effects team in Canada called The Brothers Gore. When I approached them with this concept and my budget, they were kind of shocked I think because of what we were trying to accomplish, but they somehow made it all work. They had to get really creative with the monster makeup because every single day they had a different monster to make up, which isn’t something they were used to. Usually each make-up works for a few days, but we didn’t have that kind of luxury with our time. But they really did a fantastic job, and I couldn’t be happier.

Coming up with the designs, or our original spin on certain monsters, was something I worked on with a friend named Jason Brown. We approached it by trying to appease the classic monster fans out there but giving fans a few new monster hybrids to root for, too, so that’s why there are some female monsters or a monster like Swamp Gut who is a hybrid of all the swamp creatures we’ve met throughout the years and comes off like a monster version of King Kong Bundy or Yokozuna. The monsters had to work within the classic wrestling gimmicks, too, and I think we pulled it off.

Dread Central: As someone who is also a huge fan of ’80s wrestling and grew up watching guys like Kevin Nash and Jimmy Hart, can you talk more about casting them and what they brought to the table on this project. Did you let them go off script at all since they’re both guys who have made a living cutting some great promos?

Jesse Thomas Cook: Jimmy Hart was a blast to work with; not only was he fun to watch on camera, but he was just an all-around great guy. We never asked him to, but between takes and stuff, he’d be running around set helping out by moving things or setting up props which was really cool. He was really a team player. He mostly stuck to the script, but we did do some takes where he just cut his own material and there’s some really funny stuff there. That’s in some of the outtakes.

And I knew from very early on in the process of Monster Brawl that I wanted to have Kevin Nash on this because he’s got such a great presence. We needed someone who could stare down Frankenstein and Nash was the guy.

Dread Central: Well, because of the ending I would suspect you guys may have plans for more Monster Brawl in the future? Is that the plan then because I could see the potential for a bunch more matches with all the monsters you guys couldn’t do this first time around.

Jesse Thomas Cook: Well, it’s sort of interesting; we have developed a story for a sequel and it would be much bigger than the first one, with a bigger budget, too, but there is also talk of a remake right now and we’re exploring that as well. Either way, we have three more projects this year which are our main focus so we’re kind of focusing on them for now. But yes, we’re definitely open to expanding this into a franchise if presented with the right opportunity.

Dread Central: Are you allowed to talk at all about those other three projects yet?

Jesse Thomas Cook: Well, I can talk about the one we just announced that we finished in May called Ejecta. It’s a high concept sci-fi film that was written by Tony Burgess, who did a brilliant job on Pontypool a few years back now. He’s going to be working with us on the others, too, but Ejecta looks pretty cool so far. It’s definitely a lot darker and more ambitious than Monster Brawl, and that’s what we want to keep doing- changing things up so we’re not always making the same movie again and again.

Exclusive Interview: Filmmaker Jesse Thomas Cook Talks Monster Brawl, Ejecta and More

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Superheroes You Never Realized Battled Xenomorphs



Though horror movie fans haven’t gotten an outstanding franchise crossover battle since 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, superhero movies have been at the forefront of bringing disparate characters together for some serious carnage. Upcoming films like The New Mutants and Spawn are courting horror fans by promising suspense and violence (refusing to shy away from previously taboo R ratings), but many don’t realize comics have been delivering terrifying crossovers featuring some of our favorite villains for years.

With the pending sale of 20th Century Fox to Disney, the future of the Alien franchise has been called into question. Though we may never learn the fates of characters introduced in 2017’s Alien: Covenant, horror and sci-fi fans might want to explore the vast universe unfurled in numerous comics and graphic novels. Not only do they delve into the lives of characters only briefly seen in films, you can find some unexpected crossovers that make Alien vs. Predator seem uninspired.

Superman and Batman are just the two most famous superheroes who have gone toe-to-toe with Xenomorphs in comics. Keep reading for a detailed summary of Alien franchise crossovers in comics.

Superman vs. Aliens

The Man of Steel first crossed paths with Alien’s titular extraterrestrials in a 3-episode series from Dark Horse Comics. Written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens, Superman vs. Aliens ran from July through September 1995. The story found Superman lamenting his isolation when a signal from deep space renewed hopes that there may be other survivors of Krypton’s apocalypse.

His hopes are dashed, however, when he arrives at the decimated city of Argo, where a Xenomorph infestation has wiped out the once-thriving community. Deprived of the powers he receives from Earth’s yellow Sun, Superman must face the Alien Queen while seeking a cure for the Xenomorph embryo growing inside him!

The Kryptonian would battle these fearsome foes again in Superman vs. Aliens II: God War in 2002; the 4-episode series from Dark Horse was written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated Jon Bogdanove. This time, Superman comes to the rescue when a renegade ship full of Xenomorphs crashes into the homeworld of The New Gods. In this series, Superman’s commitment to protecting all life is challenged, as he contemplates finding a suitable planet for the Alien Queen.

Batman vs. Aliens

Dark Horse released Batman/Aliens as a 2-part series in 1997; it was written by Ron Marz and illustrated and inked by Bernie Wrightson. The Caped Crusader uncovers a Xenomorph threat while investigating Mayan ruins, leading to a confrontation unlike anything Batman’s ever faced before. The clash continued in 2002’s Batman/Aliens II, a 3-part series written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Staz Johnson.

This time, the Xenomorph plague hits Gotham, when a sealed vault reveals unsettling artifacts from a doomed mission to the South Pole. Mayhem reigns when face-huggers invade Arkham Asylum, where Batman must contend with a shadowy black-ops agency in addition to the relentless decimation caused by the Aliens.

Green Lantern vs. Aliens

Green Lantern versus Aliens (2000) is actually a continuation of a series that saw several iconic superheroes battling Predator’s intergalactic bounty hunters—but that’s a story for another article! This 4-issues series (also from Dark Horse and written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Rick Leonardi) kicks off with a never-before-told chapter in the story of Hal Jordan, widely considered the greatest of those to have carried the Green Lantern mantle.

Jordan’s decision to contain rather than destroy the Xenomorph threat will haunt his predecessor, Kyle Rayner, who joins a group of former Green Lantern Corps members to rescue residents of a planet overrun by Aliens. Ultimately, he must face the Alien Queen while struggling with the ethical consequences of annihilating an entire species, no matter how insidious it is—the same conundrum that tortured Jordan.

Judge Dredd vs. Aliens

In 2003, the Xenomorph plague hit Mega-One City hard in the 4-issue series Judge Dredd versus Aliens: Incubus, a collaboration between Dark Horse and Rebellion Developments; it was written by John Wagner and Andy Diggle and illustrated and inked by Henry Flint.

When the Alien threat emerges, Dredd first suspects there’s a connection to an underground fighting circuit, but this case will force him to seek the very origins of the nefarious species. In addition to protecting the residents of Mega-One, Dredd must also contend with an embryo growing inside him.

Others vs. Aliens

Other unexpected Alien crossovers that took place in comics worth mentioning include Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Space No One Can Hear You Slay! Courtesy of (you guessed it) Dark Horse and released in 2012, an ill-advised “spacecation” finds Sunnydale’s savior facing off against the galaxy’s greatest scourge. The species’ acid-blood makes Buffy’s usual method of dispatch uniquely problematic!

Back in 1998, the WildC.A.T.s crossed paths with horror fans’ favorite E.T.’s after an outer space escape pod crash lands in New York City. With StormWatch out of commission, the remaining team must rally all their resources to defeat an unprecedented threat in WildC.A.T.s/Aliens, a one-off first published by Image Comics, and later picked up by Dark Horse.

Perhaps the most bizarre matchup occurred in 2012 when Vampirella battled Xenomorphs in a whopping 6-episode series published simultaneously in digital format by Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse and (of course) Dark Horse Digital. Aliens/Vampirella takes place on Mars and also includes an ancient race of Martian warriors.

As creative minds and artists continue to collaborate, we can expect many more unexpected crossovers in the years to come. Whether any of these comic book match-ups featuring Xenomorphs ever come to fruition in the form of feature films, however, remains to be seen (though it seems unlikely).

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Jesper Kyd Returning to Score Vermintide 2



From the cover of Kyd's first Vermintide OST

Get your headphones ready, Warhammer fans because State of Decay and Darksiders 2 composer Jesper Kyd is back to score the upcoming Warhammer title Vermintide 2! The game will be coming to PC and consoles early this year.

Kyd was inspired by Norse mythology, utilizing ancient tribal music as well as dark fantastical elements to build upon the acoustic soundscapes he composed for the first Vermintide game. Channeling his own Scandinavian roots, Kyd will blend Viking and Norse-inspired vocals with ritualistic percussion styles to create a unique soundtrack experience.

Three tracks from the score can be heard below.

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Like Me – Will You Like This Dystopian Thriller?



Starring Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden

Directed by Robert Mockler

While Like Me is not dystopian in the classic science-fiction sense, it does aptly put the downer vibe across. If the present is abysmal, then the future is downright hopeless. We learn this as we follow an unhinged teenage loner called Kiya (Addison Timlin) on a hollow crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. At first the world “likes” her—with the exception of YouTube rival Burt (Ian Nelson), who disdainfully denounces her viral videos—but pride goes before the fall, and Kiya’s descent is spectacular.

If you’ve peeped the trailer for Like Me, then you’re probably expecting a horror movie. I mean, they’ve got the requisite menacing masked baddie and they’ve got genre icon Larry Fessenden in a major role—those are a couple of the key ingredients, right? Yes they are, but this simmering, shimmering stew of Natural Born Killers, Excision and King Kelly, it boils down to a whole lotta nothing. Like Me is sort of a drama, kind of a road trip flick, and almost a thriller. It succeeds at none yet does stand on its own as a compelling collection of cool visuals and pertinent performances. But is that enough?

While Kiya is a compelling character on the surface, there’s barebones beneath. Sure, she’s a Millennial mind-fed on random online clips and snappy soundbites—but what turned her into a psychopath? Was she born that way? Is social media to blame? We’ll never know, because not a hint is given. I don’t mind ambiguity, but even a morsel would have been welcome in this case. As Kiya ramps up her reckless exhibitionistic extremes, the stakes are never raised. In the end, who cares? Maybe that’s the point.

A word of warning: If you plan on watching this movie while chomping snacks…don’t. There is stomach-turning scene after vomit-inducing scene of orgiastic easting, binging, and the inevitable purging. I’m sure it’s all metaphorical mastication, a cutting comment on disposable consumption. I get it. But I don’t wanna look at it, again and again and again. Having said that, Like Me is an experimental film and in its presentation of such grotesquery, it’s quite accomplished. Montages, split-screens and jittered motions are scattered throughout, showing us all sorts of unpleasant things…Kudos to the editor.

I didn’t hate Like Me. But I do think one has to be in the mood for a movie such as this. It’s not an easy or entertaining watch, but it is a peculiar and thought-provoking one. There’s some style and mastery behind the camera, and I am curious to see what first-time writer-director Rob Mockler comes up with next.

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