San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Exclusive Interview: Gale Anne Hurd Discusses The Walking Dead Season Three, Reflects on The Terminator Franchise and More! - Dread Central
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San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Exclusive Interview: Gale Anne Hurd Discusses The Walking Dead Season Three, Reflects on The Terminator Franchise and More!

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San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Exclusive Interview: Gale Anne Hurd Discusses The Walking Dead Season Three, Reflects on The Terminator Franchise and More!With more than 30 years in the filmmaking world behind her, writer and producer Gale Anne Hurd has been one of the creative forces behind some of the genre world’s most beloved projects.

Hurd quickly rose to fame in Hollywood after penning and producing the 1984 sci-fi/action classic The Terminator; soon after, she produced several more projects alongside James Cameron including Aliens, The Abyss, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day as well as countless projects like Bad Dreams, Alien Nation, Tremors, The Relic, Dante’s Peak, Armageddon and the underrated cult comedy Dick.

Hurd’s days now are consumed by zombies as she is currently one of the executive producers on AMC’s wildly successful series “The Walking Dead.” During the recent 2012 San Diego Comic-Con convention, Dread Central had the opportunity to sit down for an exclusive chat with Hurd. During our interview we of course spoke to Hurd in-depth about “The Walking Dead”: what fans can expect going into Season Three, more on the new and returning characters that fans of the comic series should definitely look forward to and the lowdown on the animatronic zombies that KNB will be using during next season.

Hurd also reflected on the film that put her on the map –The Terminator– and gave us her thoughts on a potential Terminator 5 if indeed the project ever does move forward with a new director at the helm (Justin Lin exited the project to focus on the upcoming Fast & Furious sequels).

Check out Dread’s interview with Hurd below and look for more coverage on “The Walking Dead” from SDCC 2012 coming this way soon!

Dread Central: Do you feel any pressure going into the new season of “The Walking Dead” where maybe you feel like you have to exceed what you guys managed to accomplish with the first two seasons which were both so incredibly successful?

Gale Anne Hurd: How we look at it is as an opportunity, an opportunity to do things a little differently. The first season we were getting up-to-speed, establishing the world and establishing the characters; the second season we wanted to delve even more into character and have a bit of a respite from the running. On the other hand, by the end of the season we had to establish that there is no safe harbor and we’re not going to just stick with the farm.

I mean, there we were able to explore more of the love triangle aspect and let that develop while they were there because if you’re on the run, you definitely have more critical things to be worrying about like survival. So that really allowed that whole maelstrom to fester. And now they’re on the run again, which gives a whole new set of opportunities.

Of course we’re sad to say goodbye to some of the beloved characters and yes, even sometimes the not-so-well-loved characters, too. But now we can introduce new characters like Michonne and The Governor and bring Merle back, too.

Dread Central: Is it a challenge for you to balance out the series to meet the expectations of the built-in fanbase from the comic series and still keep it open and accessible enough for mainstream audiences?

Gale Anne Hurd: We look at it from the point of view of how can we tell the best character-driven story that can take place within a zombie apocalypse? Plus we have Robert Kirkman, who is not only an executive producer but he’s in the writer’s room, too; he’s working closely with Glen Mazzara and the rest of the writers, and he’s really the litmus test for us. Our feeling is that if he’s happy and he’s proud of the work, then we’re good; he’s the fan we need to please the most.

Dread Central: Can you talk more about how Michonne and The Governor will play into the storylines for Season Three and more about the actors you chose to bring them to life?

The Walking Dead Season Three

Gale Anne Hurd: They’re both really critical, absolutely critical. The thing is, we never do anything for stunt’s sake. You hear people talking about stunt casting, and that’s not part of what we do at all. That’s not our show- there won’t be stunt cameos, there won’t be stunt guest stars. These are two characters who are important to the comic book series and will be equally important in our show but in different ways because we do like to keep people guessing.

Our show is very much actor-driven, and we always want to keep it that way; sometimes we luck out and the actors look a lot like the characters, which is always good, but sometimes the actor may only have a few physical similarities to the character in the comic. In the case of The Governor, David Morrissey looks nothing like the character really, and Danai (Gurira) happens to look somewhat like Michonne but she doesn’t have the dreads; it’ll be that she’ll have to wear a wig actually.

Dread Central: I heard you guys are doing some animatronic zombies this year; is that something we’ll be seeing a lot of in Season Three?

Gale Anne Hurd: We’ve done one already actually! If you look closely at the promo, you may be able to figure out which one. We do have a little more money to spend this season, yes, but Greg (Nicotero) has it down, and his team and KNB have it down so well that because we can break the season so well in advance, they have sufficient time to prep and build everything properly.

Dread Central: I’d love to talk about The Terminator/i> for a bit; it is interesting that it is still this movie that everyone knows regardless if they’re 8 or 80. That has to be pretty amazing for you to look back at something you created early on in your career and see how influential it has been on pop culture over the last 28 years.

Gale Anne Hurd: It really is amazing; it’s always surprising to me when I meet 12-year-olds who say, “I love The Terminator.” I mean, this came out in 1984, and that was a long time before any of them were even born. It has this legacy that far exceeded anything that Jim (Cameron) and I could have ever possibly expected to happen.

It was even chosen as part of the National Registry in the Library of Congress, which is wonderful; but when we first made the film, one of the marketing executives there said that he was embarrassed that they even had to release the film. They said it was a down and dirty exploitation film and they didn’t even want to screen it for critics because they thought it was so terrible.

And that was the first feedback that we had; obviously we were crushed. But it turned out that the fans and the critics felt quite differently about it.

Dread Central: Was it ever a struggle for you back then because you were a woman writer working within the male-dominated genre in the early 80’s; other than Debra Hill, I can’t think of too many others really off the top of my head.

Gale Anne Hurd: You know, Debra was my idol. She is missed every day. Contrary to what a lot of people may have heard about the industry, I’ve always had women as mentors who reached out and helped me in my career, and Debra Hill was one of them.

Dread Central: In regard to Terminator and all that negative feedback from the studio- how did you guys respond to that? How did you manage to get the film out there in front of people after all?

Gale Anne Hurd: You know what really helped was the late agent Ed Limato, who was everything an agent really should be. He represented Michael Biehn, and he also represented at the time Mel Gibson, Richard Gere and a number of other actors who were doing films with Orion also. He saw the film and he loved it. He thought it was fantastic so he said to Orion, “You either screen this for critics or I’ll have to reconsider whether or not my other clients will be working with you in the future.” That was the only reason The Terminator ever got screened for critics, and as it turned out, it made Time Magazine’s 10 Best List of that year.

There are very few people that will put themselves on the line like that, and I miss those people a lot. Debra was one of them and Ed Limato was one, too.

Dread Central: It seems that over the last few years that the industry has truly felt the effects of our economy in some major ways; how does that affect your job as a producer? Are you finding it harder and harder to get original projects up and running as well?

Gale Anne Hurd: That’s why I love television. Obviously, people take risks there, and I have to give full credit to AMC and Fox International for not just wanting a pilot; they wanted six episodes right out of the box. I mean, it could have bombed and they would have been out all that money. There’s really not much you can do with six episodes when you think about it so this is really due to the teams at both places for understanding something that no one else did. It had been passed on by all the other broadcast and cable networks before this.

Dread Central: Does AMC ever send back episodes for changes because of the material or the gore you guys have on “The Walking Dead”?

Gale Anne Hurd: We have never had a single thing sent back to us by AMC. Not once. They don’t censor us; they’re always very clear with us in advance about what the limits are, and I don’t think the fans can ever complain that we pull any punches either because there is a good amount of gore to our show. I also think because AMC has their annual FearFest in October, this isn’t a new culture to them; they love the horror genre as much as we do.

Dread Central: I know that there were some fans out there who said that you guys spent too much time on the farm in Season Two; what do you say to the fans who were looking for less character stuff and more zombie-related stuff? Personally, I loved it, but that’s mostly because I love Scott (Wilson) from Behind the Mask so I was happy to stick around Hershel’s farm for as long as we did.

Gale Anne Hurd: I love Scott, isn’t he fantastic? Again, he’s another one who doesn’t look anything like his character; he looks nothing like Hershel, and yet, he’s a brilliant Hershel. But you know, it’s fine; everyone is entitled to their opinion. We just never want to be the show that the only thing the fans have to look forward to is the weekly unique zombie kill; that’s not what the show is. I mean, we do provide a lot of that, but you are only going to be invested in someone’s death if you have enough time to develop their character so you can miss them when they’re gone.

We were really happy with the way the fans responded overall, especially when Sophia was revealed in our mid-season finale, which was directed by the fantastic Michelle MacLaren. That’s another fantastic thing we’re able to do on “The Walking Dead”, feature a lot of women directors. We have two more terrific female directors on board this season- Lesli Linka Glatter and Tricia Brock.

That’s another thing for us- diversity. We have a pretty diverse cast, and it’s even more diverse now. Plus, we also have an African-American director, Ernest Dickerson, who has directed quite a few wonderful episodes for us, and considering the lack of opportunities still for minorities in feature films, I believe that television can be a wonderful opportunity for everyone.

Dread Central: Because you are so busy these days in television, do you still look at film scripts to produce? Is that hard managing both worlds simultaneously?

Gale Anne Hurd: I do, and in fact, I have a film currently shooting right now called Very Good Girls, which is an independent movie that I’m executive producing. Naomi Foner is writing and directing it, and it stars Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen.

I also have a project in development that I’m very excited about; Neil Marshall would direct it, and it’s called Hellfest. We’re hopeful it will be in production later this year.

Dread Central: When you’re looking at scripts to produce, what kinds of things are you looking for then? What catches your eye when considering a potential project?

Gale Anne Hurd: It has to be a story that I would want to go see in the theater or watch on TV; it has to be the kind of project that I’d want to really spend a lot of time and effort working on because I never just put my name on a project. I want to invest in the characters, I want to invest in the world and I don’t want it to be a retread of something that someone else has already done.

Dread Central: Since this is my last question, I want to go back to The Terminator for a moment; taking into consideration how underwhelming the last two sequels were and really abandoned a lot of the core elements that made the first two films so good, what do you think it would take to get things back on track if Terminator 5 goes ahead?

Gale Anne Hurd: You know, it’s hard to say anything when you don’t have the rights to a property anymore. I do think it’s important to remember what grounded the first two films, which was the characters. Everything else can be fantastic, but if you’re not rooted in the characters, that becomes tough for audiences.

Special thanks to Gale Anne Hurd for taking time during her hectic SDCC schedule to chat with Dread Central!

San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Exclusive Interview: Gale Anne Hurd Discusses The Walking Dead Season Three, Reflects on The Terminator Franchise and More!

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Exclusive: Director Dennis Bartok and Lead Shauna MacDonald Talk Nails

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With writer and director Dennis Bartok’s feature film Nails having bowed Friday on VOD via Dark Sky Films, here’s a bit of our interview with the flick’s filmmaker, Cinelicious Pics Head of Distribution and General Manager of the American Cinematheque Bartok (he wears many hats), as well as the film’s star, Shauna MacDonald (of The Descent series).

Nails revolves around “…track star Dana Milgrom (MacDonald), who, having survived a near-death car accident, finds herself almost completely paralyzed and trapped inside her own body, and while recovering, she becomes convinced that some evil presence exists inside her hospital room and is intent on killing her,” and was executive produced by Joseph Kaufman (Assault on Precinct 13) and produced by Brendan McCarthy (Cherry Tree, The Hallow).

Bartok, who previously wrote and produced the 2006 feature anthology film Trapped Ashes, said of his approach to the narrative of Nails, “It’s very ‘anti-flight.’ Most horror movies are built around the idea that you are running away from something. The Halloween and Friday the 13th movies, there’s a mysterious creature that’s trying to track you down, or conversely you are walking into some horrible haunted house that nobody in their right mind would ever go into, for example, The Woman in Black, which is a really terrifying film. But from the very first moment Daniel Radcliffe’s character goes up to the front of that house, the audience says, ‘Turn around! Get the hell out of there! You are going to die!’ And of course he walks in. So I was really fascinated by a narrative in which the lead character was physically trapped in one space, and actually trapped in her own body. So I thought a lot about narratives like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Sea Inside and Hitchcock’s Rear Window, where the protagonist is physically handicapped and forced to confront that, so both as a writer and as a filmmaker and for Shauna it was a huge challenge, in that how do you make that (type of story) kinetic and compelling, and how do you build suspense when the lead character is trapped in the bed for eighty percent of the story?”

MacDonald said of the script’s appeal, which is a departure in ways from the action-packed The Descent films for which she’s most known, “Oddly, I don’t want to be labeled a horror girl, although the older I get, the cooler I think that sounds. Certainly in the UK they like to fit you in the box of low-budget horror films, and every year after The Descent (films) I get scripts to read, and some of them would say, ‘OK, the lead actress is tied to a stained mattress in her underwear,’ and I would be like, ‘Next!’ and for me, I knew it would be a massive acting challenge to play the lead (as it was written) in Nails, someone who is bed-ridden and paranoid and can’t speak. Her physical journey and her emotional journey is what attracted me to the role.”

“I think it’s important also that she has self-doubt,” MacDonald continues of her role, “and that she thinks she may be having a mental breakdown. No one else is seeing the things she is seeing or experiencing what she is experiencing, so I thought upon that a lot, and also I thought, as a mother of three girls myself, that the character’s connection with her daughter in the script was really heart-wrenching, and I love mother/daughter stories.”

Filmmaker Bartok added, “I thought very much about the bond between a mother and her daughter while writing it, and the sacrifice a parent would make in order to protect their child, and that was one of the main themes from the very beginning. When I set out to make the film I knew that there were two things that I needed to make it work. One was that I needed to make it scary, and to really unnerve people, and to build that suspense and a rising tension throughout, and the second thing was, that I’d really need someone amazing to play the character of Dana, because she’s in nearly every scene of the film, and we experience the story entirely through her perception. And if we hadn’t cast someone with Shauna’s acting gifts, the film would have fallen flat.”

In regards to casting the film’s antagonist, the gaunt, towering and ghostly figure of ‘Nails,’ Bartok states of actor British Richard Foster-King, of which he’d been introduced to via an audition tape for an entirely different movie, “Richard had done these beautiful movements (in that tape), as if he was swimming in the air and elongating his arms, and I think he had even crawled along the floor at one point. And as soon as I saw that tape, I said, ‘That’s it. That’s Eric Nillson. That’s Nails!’ And the producers, because they wanted to keep the budget as low as possible, had wanted to hire local actors out of Dublin, and I would look at those tapes, and they were OK, but I felt we really needed to get Richard. So bit by bit I kept saying, ‘No,’ to these other suggestions, and finally I was able to convince them to bring Richard in from London.”

As for the evolution of the character, which itself possesses some of the nuanced tragedy of Universal’s classic monsters, Bartok stated, “It was really fascinating because we had reached out to several gothic, surreal artists who had been recommended to me by various friends, and asked them to submit concept designs, and the one that we liked the best, and they were all actually excellent, was by a French photographic artist named Nihil, who takes photographs and then manipulates them digitally. So Nihil did an amazingly creepy concept, which provided the blueprint as to how we approached the character’s design. There were several steps in getting it onto the screen, though. Maybe seventy-five percent of it came from Richard’s physicality and his on screen presence, and the rest could only be achieved digitally, and we brought in an incredibly gifted visual effects artist named Eli Dorsey, who had worked on Ted Geoghegan’s film We Are Still Here. And Eli created the milky white eyes, and the dentures which kind of sit outside the palate, and the ghostly pallor. But primarily, I think its Richard’s performance which makes the character, an evil tormenting character who is also tormented, so very haunting.”

Nails also stars Ross Noble, Steve Wall, and Charlotte Bradley. You can watch the film on iTunes.

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Exclusive: studioADI and 20th Century Fox Unveil Stunning Alien 3 and Resurrection Art Collection

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Today, Yahoo! Movies have announced that studioADI, who we’ve seen this year in IT and will see next year in The Predator and in 2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and 20th Century Fox Consumer Products have launched The studioADI Collection, a new initiative that will see the award-winning FX studio create art inspired by Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. The pieces that will come from this collection are not to be confused as collectible figures but should rather be seen as high-quality works of art as each one will be hand-crafted based on original molds and they will then be individually painted. Prices will range from $250 to $4,000 and they will go on sale beginning December 1st through Big Cartel.

StudioADI’s Alec Gillis states, “The studioADI collection is our tribute to the films that have been an important part of our legacy as artists. Each piece of art reflects the same detail and passion we poured into the characters when we created the original Alien films.

Tom Woodruff Jr. adds, “This is the collection designed for fans of these entries into the Alien franchise as well as aficionados of the art of creatures and monsters of iconic pedigree.

The studioADI Collection will include the following seven pieces:
Queen Alien Embryo from Alien³
Newborn Alien Design Maquette Bust from Alien: Resurrection
Newborn Alien Full Body Design Maquette from Alien: Resurrection
Swimming Alien Study Model from Alien: Resurrection
1:1 Alien Warrior Half Head from Alien: Resurrection
1:1 Newborn Alien Head from Alien: Resurrection
1:3 Scale Queen Alien Head from Alien: Resurrection

These are descriptions of two of these items:
“The Newborn” from Alien: Resurrection was the terrifying mix of human and Alien DNA gone wrong. This Full-Scale Bust is cast from hand-laid translucent polyester resin from ADI’s original production molds and is painted to the same exacting specifications by ADI’s painter who painted the character for the original film. The piece measures 30″x20″x40″

“The Queen Alien Embryo” was seen in David Fincher’s Alien³ was nestled next to the beating heart of Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver. Cast in translucent urethane and hand painted by the same ADI artists who created the piece for the film in 1991.
At 7″ x 9″ this piece of art is perfect for desktop display.

Here are images of some of these pieces:

We got our hands on three exclusive images from this collection that add a glorious vision of how detailed and intricate these pieces are going to get.

The first image is of the back of the 1:3 scale Queen Alien Head from Alien: Resurrection. You can see that every square inch of the design is tended to and that no stone is left unturned when it comes to the mold and paint.

The second image shows the Newborn Alien Full Body Design Maquette from Alien: Resurrection from a wide, almost full-front angle. You can really see the spindly, almost delicate structure to its body while also being intimately aware of the grotesque yet hypnotizing physique.

Lastly, the third image is a closeup of the Queen Alien Embryo from Alien³. Here you can see just how detailed the mold is, each wrinkle and crease in the Xenomorph’s body etched finely and with precision.

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Whatever Happened to Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving?

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Back in April of 2007, we all sat in our local darkened theater and watched as Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s exploitation double feature Grindhouse (review) blew the roof off the place for 3 hours straight.

Well, it’s ten years later, and I think we are all asking ourselves the same question: Where the hell is Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving?

Like every other human out there, I enjoyed both Tarantino and Rodriguez’s films – along with the fake trailers by Rob Zombie and Edgar Wright – but the big takeaway was Eli Roth’s faux trailer for the greatest 80’s slasher that never was.

So what happened to the feature?

Well, Roth was originally working on the feature back in 2007 after finishing his work helming Hostel: Part II, telling Cinema Blend:

“I’ve been working on the script with my co-writer, Jeff Rendell, who plays the pilgrim in the trailer,” Roth told the site. “And it’s me imitating Jeff’s voice [for the narration]. But Jeff has been working. I said that his deal is he has to work on the script while I’m promoting The Last Exorcism, and as soon as I’m done in mid-September he’s going to fly to California, we’re going to sit down, and bang out the script.”

But then the planned film died out as Grindhouse flopped at the box-office. Following the film’s underperformance, all talks surrounding Edgar Wright and Eli Roth’s Grindhouse double feature spin-off were silenced in a single weekend.

In fact, the last update we received on the possible standalone Thanksgiving film was last year when Roth did a Reddit AMA, and said this about the film’s current development:

“Have a draft not totally happy with. I want to put some more work into it so the film lives up to the trailer. We have the story and mythology cracked so now it’s about getting the kills right.”

Nice. Seemed like the film was making some headway. Nothing to do but gut the T’s and cut the heads off the I’s. But then nothing happened. At all. No updates. No nothing.

With that in mind, we here at Dread Central decided to reach out to Roth personally and see if there were any new happenings in regards to the film. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach him so I guess we’ll all just have to keep wondering and waiting.

Maybe it’s the pressure he no doubt feels making the much loved faux trailer into a feature. After all, he did say this back in 2007: “No matter how many movies I make my whole life, that two-and-a-half minute trailer is what I’ll be remembered for: ‘Eli Roth — he had a guy fucking a turkey with a decapitated head on it.’”

Or maybe the rights to the film were just tied up with the now infamous Weinstein company. But with that company finally going under (thank God) maybe now the rights could be sold off to new producers and finally, we’ll see not only Thanksgiving but features based on Don’t and possibly even Werewolf Women of the S.S.

But I dream…

Until we get the full-length feature flick of Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, we can always look back on the comments he made to Rolling Stone way back in April of 2007, in which he talked a bit about the Pilgrim’s backstory.

“My friend Jeff… we had the whole movie worked out,” Roth told the magazine. “A kid who’s in love with a turkey and then his father killed it and then he killed his family and went away to a mental institution and came back and took revenge on the town.”

Jesus, please us. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the f*cking perfect setup/backstory for an 80’s slasher throwback flick set on Thanksgiving.

So ten years later, let me be the one to come right out and say it: Please, Eli Roth, make Thanksgiving. Please. Every horror fan in the world would thank you. Forever.

Sigh…

We’ll make sure to update this article in another ten years.

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