San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Co-Directors Chris Butler and Samuel Fell Talk ParaNorman and More! - Dread Central
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San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Co-Directors Chris Butler and Samuel Fell Talk ParaNorman and More!

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For ParaNorman two of the brightest talents working today in animation, Samuel Fell and Chris Butler, have teamed up to co-direct what appears to be another modern animated classic.

Their tale of an unassuming boy (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) who must save his town from a zombie outbreak looks pretty damned fun.

During last week’s San Diego Comic-Con, Dread Central had the chance to briefly chat with the pair about the inspirations behind ParaNorman, making a zombie movie for kids and how this project was a dream job for the duo.

Check out the highlights of our interview with Butler and Fell below, and look for more on ParaNorman closer to the film’s release on August 17th courtesy of Focus Features.

Dread Central: This seems like a very personal project for you guys; can you talk a bit about what inspired ParaNorman?

Chris Butler: Well, it’s sad to say, but a lot of the inspiration behind Norman is a lot of me as a kid; I was him. But in terms of Norman’s world, I was a bit obsessed with horror movies- you know, all the stuff I never should have been watching as a kid. But at the same time, I was also watching a lot of other stuff like John Hughes’ movies, The Goonies, E.T., Scooby-Doo, so for me it was like getting all of those inspirations together, mixed them up and made a zombie movie for kids. John Carpenter meets John Hughes.

Samuel Fell: There’s a lot of great character stuff in there, too; a lot of comedy, some horror of course, but not gory horror at all. You know, we just had some fun with the spooky stuff.

Chris Butler: But there is also something intrinsic about zombie stories that you can use them to tell relevant stories that also have some comment to make as well. George Romero has been doing it for decades, and everything he’s done is still relevant today. So I thought it would be interesting to use zombies in a story about middle school kids bullying each other because bullying is a huge issues.

Samuel Fell: ParaNorman kind of hearkens back to the days of Ray Harryhausen and his models that were all stop-frame. That’s the period that we were looking at and that we love the most so everything just felt right.

Question: Being fans, is it a dream come true to work on a movie like this then?

Samuel Fell: Oh yes, I was just saying the other day that there is stuff written into the script that I actually had forgotten – like a bunch of our horror movie references. Even our character names are references; there are just so many different references I had forgotten many of them. We had 325 people working on this movie, and they’re all horror fans, too, so they added some of their own touches. There’s probably well over 200 horror ‘Easter eggs’ in this.

ParaNorman is directed by Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux, Flushed Away) and Chris Butler (Coraline, The Corpse Bride) from Butler’s original screenplay.

Synopsis:
A small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches, and worst of all, moronic grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

The voice cast includes Academy Award nominee Casey Affleck (The Killer Inside Me), Tempestt Bledsoe (“The Cosby Show”), Jeff Garlin (Toy Story 3), John Goodman (Red State, Matinee, Monsters, Inc.), Bernard Hill (Titanic), Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Leslie Mann (Rio), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fright Night 3D, How to Train Your Dragon), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In), Tony and Emmy Award winner Elaine Stritch (“30 Rock”), Tucker Albrizzi (Good Luck Charlie), Alex Borstein (“Family Guy”), and Jodelle Ferland (Case 39, Silent Hill, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse).

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Co-Directors Chris Butler and Samuel Fell Talk ParaNorman and More!

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Satan’s Cheerleaders Blu-ray Review – Sacrifice This Snoozer At The Altar!

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Starring Jack Kruschen, John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jacqueline Cole

Directed by Greydon Clark

Distributed by VCI


The ‘70s. Satanism. Sultry cheerleaders. Sex appeal. With these tools nearly any low-budget filmmaker should be able to turn out something that is, at the very least, entertaining. The last thing a viewer expects when tuning in to a film called Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977) is to be bored to tears. But that is exactly the reaction I had while watching director Greydon Clark’s wannabe cult comedy. Even on a visual level this film can’t be saved, and it was shot by Dean Cundey! No, unfortunately there isn’t a cinematic element in the world that can overcome a roster of bad actors and a storyline so poorly constructed it plays like it was written on the day. The only saving grace, minor as it may be, is the casting of John Ireland as Sheriff B.L. Bubb (cute), a hard-nosed shitkicker who adds all the gravitas he can muster. But a watchable feature cannot be built upon the back of a single co-star, as every grueling minute of Satan’s Cheerleaders proves.

The cheerleaders and jocks of Benedict High School rule the campus, doing what they want, when they want, with little else on their minds except for The Big Game. Their belittling attitudes rub school janitor (and stuttering dimwit) Billy (Jack Kruschen) the wrong way. What they don’t know is Billy is (somehow) the head of a local Satanic cult, and he plans to place a curse on the clothes (really) of the cheerleaders so they… suck at cheerleading? Maybe they’ll somehow cause the jocks to lose the big game? When Billy isn’t busy plotting his cursed plans, he spies on the girls in the locker room via a hidden grate in the wall. I guess he doesn’t think being a sexual “prevert” is fair trade enough; might as well damn them all, too. Billy has his own plans to kidnap the girls, for his Lord and Master Satan, and he succeeds with ease when the girls’ van breaks down on the highway; he simply offers them a ride and they all pile in. But when Ms. Johnson (Jacqueline Cole) gets hip to his plan the two tussle in the front seat and Billy winds up having a heart attack.

The squad runs off in search of help, coming across the office of Sheriff B.L. Bubb (John Ireland), who, as the name implies, may be a legit Satanist. Bubb invites the girls inside, where they meet his wife, Emmy (Yvonne De Carlo), High Priestess of their quaint little satanic chapter. While the girls get acquainted with Emmy, Bubb runs off to find Billy, who isn’t actually dead. Wait, scratch that, Bubb just killed him for… some reason. The girls figure out things aren’t so rosy here at the Bubb estate, so they hatch an escape plan and most make it to the forest. The few that are left behind just kinda hang out for the rest of the film. Very little of substance happens, and the pacing moves from “glacial” to “permafrost”, before a semi-psychedelic ending arrives way too late.

“Haphazard” is one of many damning terms I can think of when trying to make sense of this film. The poster says the film is “Funnier Than The Omen… Scarier Than Silent Movie” which, objectively, is a true statement, though this film couldn’t hope to be in the same league as any of the sequels to The Omen (1976) let alone the original. It is a terminal bore. Every attempt at humor is aimed at the lowest common denominator – and even those jokes miss by a wide berth. True horror doesn’t even exist in this universe. The best I can say is some of the sequences where Satan is supposedly present utilize a trippy color-filled psychedelic shooting style, but it isn’t anything novel enough to warrant a recommendation. Hell, it only happens, like, twice anyway. The rest of the film is spent listening to these simple-minded sideline sirens chirp away, dulling the enthusiasm of viewers with every word.

A twist ending that isn’t much of a twist at all is the final groan for this lukewarm love letter to Lucifer. None of the actors seem like they know what the hell to be doing, and who can blame them with material like this? I had hoped for some sort of fun romp with pompoms and pentagram, like Jack Hill’s Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) for the Satanic set, but Clark provides little more than workmanlike direction; even Cundey’s cinematography is nothing to want on a resume.

Viewers have the option of watching either a “Restored” or “Original Transfer” version of the 1.78:1 1080p picture. Honestly, I didn’t find a ton of difference between the two, though the edge likely goes to the restored version since the title implies work has been done to make it look better. Colors are accurate but a little bland, and definition just never rises above slightly average. Film grain starts off heavy but manages to smooth out later on. Very little about the picture is emblematic of HD but given the roots this is probably the best it could ever hope to look.

Audio comes in the form of an English LPCM 2.0 track. The soundtrack sounds like it was lifted from a porno, while other tracks are clearly library music. Dialogue never has any obvious issues and sounds clear throughout. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

There are two audio commentary tracks; one, with director Greydon Clark; two, with David De Cocteau and David Del Valle.

A photo gallery, with images in HD, is also included.

Special Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Greydon Clark
  • Audio commentary with filmmakers David De Cocteau & David Del Valle
  • Photo gallery
  • Satan's Cheerleaders
  • Special Features
1.3

Summary

Although the title is enough to reel in curious viewers, the reality is “Satan’s Cheerleaders” are a defunct bunch with little spirit and no excitement. The ’70s produced plenty of classic satanic cinema and this definitely ain’t it.

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Friday the 13th Part 3: In Memoriam Documentary Now Available For Free!

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It’s been a while since we’ve brought you guys any news of the Friday the 13th Part III documentary Friday the 13th Part 3: In Memoriam.

But no worries as today’s news couldn’t get much better. Yes, the entire 36-minute documentary is now available in its entirety online for free!

I know that as soon as I sign off for the day I’m going to be watching this doc at least twice. It seems like I’ve been looking forward to this forever now and I’m a big fan of Part 3 so I can think of no better way to spend my Monday night.

You can watch the full doc below and then make sure to let us know what you think!

Synopsis:

This is a documentary featuring the last known footage of the set of Friday the 13th part 3 prior to its destruction. The plot involves what happened that fateful night in 2006 with additional stories from the cast members of Friday the 13th part 3 telling their memories of the production that took place in 1982.

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Such Sights to Show You – 01/17/18

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Working on shedding those holidays pounds at your local gym? As you’re about to see from the latest entry of Such Sights to Show You, things may not always be what they seem, and the best of intentions can lead you straight to the old coroner’s slab!

Kevin D. Clark is a cartoonist from Scotland who grew up watching classic monster movies, cartoons and wrestling, as well as reading comics. He started drawing at an early age and hasn’t stopped since. His sense of humor is a veritable cornucopia of the wacky and weird inspired by the likes of Monty Python, Mel Brooks, “MST3K,” Rab C. Nesbitt, as well as his older brother.

Kevin was diagnosed with Aspergers and because of that, he tries to push himself to work as hard as possible. Kevin also has a self-published comic book and helps run a film club for autistic people. He has recently earned a degree in cartooning from the London Art College and he’s pretty sure that he could take an octopus in a fight.

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