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Killer Joe Roundtable Interview with Stars Gina Gershon and Juno Temple

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Opening this weekend in limited release is iconic filmmaker William Friedkin’s latest, Killer Joe, a controversial thriller based on the stage play by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Tracy Letts which will have most fans seeing fried chicken in a whole new light.

Kind of like how he forever changed pea soup with The Exorcist.

In anticipation of Killer Joe‘s release on July 27th, Dread Central recently had the opportunity to catch up with two of the film’s lovelier co-stars, veteran actress Gina Gershon and newcomer Juno Temple, who discussed with us their thoughts on the controversial material as well as gave us some insight into their characters and the challenges and advantages to working with Friedkin’s ‘one-take’ approach on set.

Check out our roundtable interview with Gershon and Temple below, and look for Killer Joe in limited theaters this weekend courtesy of LD Entertainment.

Killer Joe Roundtable Interview with Stars Gina Gershon and Juno Temple

Question: So what was your reaction when you first read the script?

Juno Temple: I wanted to be part of it the moment I read it. As a young actress, being sent a role like Dottie, for that specific age group, is so rare and so extraordinary. She’s got so many levels of emotions. There is so much she is not saying, and I think that is so interesting.

Then you add on top of that that this is a Tracy Letts play and he is a master of his craft. Then you’ve got William Friedkin directing, and he is a genius and a man who has been doing this a really long time and really knows what he is doing. Then there is a fantastic cast to go along with that. For me, it was a challenge I really wanted to be a part of. There was something very daring about it. I want to be part of things that are really making a difference and I think this film will, in some way, make a difference.

Gina Gershon: I thought it was time I did a nice family movie [Laughs]. You watch this movie, and they are so dysfunctional, you can feel good about your own family. As Juno said, Tracy is such an amazing writer. He writes incredibly complex, yet complete characters. Their motivations are very clear, but nothing is obvious. If Joe Schmoe were directing this, I probably would have been worried about some of the scenes, but with William Friedkin directing, and this cast, it was really a no-brainer.

Question: Juno, how did you prepare to get into Dottie’s mind?

Juno Temple: Originally, the way I thought about it was that there is something completely childish about her. People might say she is simple, but I don’t think she is simple; I think she is holding on to her childhood desperately, because she is living in her fantasy world, with the fairies and her dolls. She doesn’t want to be in the living room of that trailer.

When I sent in my video from London, I got my 10-year-old brother to read my sides with me. It is a very interesting thing to watch, especially where she gives that speech about her mother trying to suffocate her. He said it like it was a fairy tale; there was no judgment there and I think that is such an important thing. Actually, with all the characters, there is a lack of judgment going on. You can’t judge those people and they can’t judge each other.

But then I also spent a lot of time talking with Billy about this rage that she’s been developing her whole life. She is bottling up an extreme amount of rage, and she is hiding it. So before every take, he would tell me, “Remember the rage.” It was always there, but it had to be hidden – it was just something to be aware of. Then you have the level of innocence and an angelic quality that she should have in this trailer full of madness and toxins and whatever.

But she is more aware than all of them because she is listening to everything. She is digesting it, she is swallowing it, and she is bottling it up. You get a sense of that at the beginning, when she is listening to their conversation [about killing her mother] and she comes out and says, “I think it’s a great idea.” So she is aware, but it is her choice as to when she is going to tap into that. They treat her like a child, then Killer Joe comes along, and for the first time, she is treated like a woman. And it’s magical. The way he looks at her, the way he speaks to her, the way he respects her… to her, he is her Prince Charming.

Question: Do you think that is why she falls for Joe?

Juno Temple: Completely.

Question: Gina, in that scene where Joe is, for a lack of a better word, abusing you, do you need a few hours to get yourself together, or can you just slap on some fake blood and say, “Let’s do this?”

Gina Gershon: I wish it were so simple. Sharla is so in control – secretly – of everything that is going on. As an actress, I am a preparation junkie. But for that particular scene, I didn’t want to over-analyze it and, frankly, I didn’t want to think about it. It is the one time when she is really out of control, so I just said, “I don’t want to rehearse it, I don’t want to talk about it, just tell me where you want me and what the movement is, and let’s just do it.” Because if I thought about it too much… I don’t know. As it was happening, I just wanted it to happen, how it all just plays out.

Question: Too much contemplation might make you balk?

Gina Gershon: Well, it did. This was presented to me years before, as a play. As much as I loved it, how well-written it was, the characters… when I got to that last scene I thought, “Oh my god. There is no way I am going to do this scene eight shows a week for six months straight.” These characters… you have to play them so truthfully, and they are so layered. The psychology behind them is deep. At that moment, I just couldn’t go for it for that many days in a row.

Question: Did you carry a lot of the characters with you off set then? Did they resonate with you?

Gina Gershon: It was a very intense shoot – we shot for 28 or 29 days. It was very short. But since we didn’t have a lot of takes or a lot of time, you kind of have to “stay there.” I’m a big believer in, at the end of the day, “wiping your feet,” have a drink, eat something, then go to bed to get ready for the next day. Especially after certain scenes. It was difficult – it definitely gets under your skin.

Question: Did you need to shower after that one scene?

Gina Gershon: I took the longest bath ever after that day. I can’t say I was sad to let Sharla go at the end of the movie.

Question: Since these are already established characters within the theater world, did William let you bring your own touches to the characters, or is everything we see pretty much what is in the script?

Gina Gershon: I never went to see the play.

Juno Temple: Yeah, I’ve never seen it either. I thought it was better to approach it like that. It needs to be your own take.

Gina Gershon: Yeah. I was so happy I hadn’t seen the play. I believe Amanda Plummer played my part originally, and she is a terrific actress. Then I didn’t have to spend any time erasing what I had seen because you want it to be–

Juno Temple: –fresh, and yours.

Gina Gershon: These are fantastic characters. When you do Chekov plays or Shakespeare plays, everyone has their own take on it. For me, it’s better not to have seen someone else’s performance.

Juno Temple: Yeah, definitely for me too. I wanted it to be fresh. But also, working with Billy, he told us not to change the dialogue. And why would you? It’s flawless. So I really stuck to the dialogue, but I totally got to say it and use it in the way I wanted to.

Gina Gershon: It was so refreshing to be on a movie set and not be thinking, “This isn’t working, what should we do? Should we change this?” There was one day where someone wanted to say something like “oh” instead of “ah” – something very simple like that. Billy would say, “Hey, he’s just a Pulitzer Prize-winner, but go ahead and change it.” Just being very sarcastic, but he was right: you didn’t need to change a word.

Question: Did you find it easier to let yourself go, knowing that you only had one or two takes to do it in?

Juno Temple: I think you are torn between that. What an incredible experience to work with a director who has that much trust in you as an actor that you can get it in one take. [Billy] didn’t move on unless he was happy with a take, but he had such belief in you, if you did do it in one take, he’d say, “Well, it’s not going to get better than that.” But then sometimes you would question yourself. Honestly, when it came down to it for me, I had such trust in him that if he said it was time to move on, then I was ready to move on.

Gina Gershon: Sometimes when you don’t have such a talented and competent director and DP – Caleb Deschanel is no slouch, it is nice to kind of warm into a scene and you are finding it as you are going in, so you get a couple takes here and there, and maybe it is the fifth take before everyone is on the same page. But Billy was so clear with what he wanted, Caleb is so talented, you had to come ready and prepared that you were getting just that one take. We were all super-prepared before we actually shot.

Juno Temple: It becomes life-like. You’ve only got one take of something, so you have to be so prepared for it that it becomes a second part of you.

Killer Joe Roundtable Interview with Stars Gina Gershon and Juno Temple

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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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