Exclusive Interview: Director Keith Arem Discusses His New Graphic Novel INFEX - Dread Central
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Exclusive Interview: Director Keith Arem Discusses His New Graphic Novel INFEX



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A unique new graphic novel titled INFEX is now available for iPad 2 and is scheduled to launch its next phase this month. The graphic novel blends as many storytelling genres as it does creative mediums to tell the story of Evelyn “Ivy” Kendall in a futuristic world.

Dread Central recently sat down with the creator of INFEX, video game director and producer Keith Arem, to discuss his creative new approach to the graphic novel. Read on to learn more!

AMANDA DYAR: INFEX is a unique concept that is hard to categorize solely as a book, movie, or game. Since this piece of interactive media has never really been utilized before, where in the world did you come up with the idea for both the technology and story of INFEX?

Exclusive Interview: Director Keith Arem Discusses His New Graphic Novel Infex

KEITH AREM: I’ve always been fascinated about the ability of an organism to change its surroundings from within. Similarly, that was the goal of this property – from the foundation of the story to the way it was presented as a product. INFEX was designed to be a true transmedia experience, allowing the audience to experience the story on a variety of mediums. Brandon Humphreys and I created the original story concept, and our initial effort was going to produce my next Contagion album as a conceptual album with music, dialog, and sound design. That quickly evolved into the development of the INFEX graphic novel and viral/ARG campaign, which suddenly had thousands of people following the story online through hidden websites, Facebook pages, Twitter sites, and convention appearances.

When we finally released the limited edition INFEX graphic novel and Origins comic at Comic-Con in 2009, we were restrained by traditional print publishing and distribution methods. Now, in 2012, we chose to develop the INFEX App exclusively for iPad 2 because it offers the viewer the most engaging experience, and the display and sound quality are superb. Because of my background in games, working with actors, writing music, and conceptualizing scenes, I wanted to bring these elements into the novel, without losing the tactile experience of reading a book. With the iPad’ s technology and features, the result was an immersive approach to make each panel of the graphic novel come to life, with all of these elements combined. I was finally able to incorporate my experience in games, music, animation, and film into one product.

AMANDA: INFEX‘s storyline revolves around a woman named Evelyn “Ivy” Kendall–a cancer survivor turned mutant thanks to a special cure delivered by her father. What was your thought process when creating the protagonist for your story, what type of person is Ivy, and how does the character evolve over the course of INFEX‘s phases?

KEITH: Much like the viewer in this book, I wanted Ivy’s experience to be one of discovery as she progresses though the story. Instead of a linear progression of novels (sequels, prequels, etc.), the INFEX world was built using the idea of story “threads” that would intersect at a central point in time. The book instantly opens in the middle of this intersection, throwing the reader into the story without a background or history for the events that lead to this moment.

Ivy’s story is the first “thread” that occurs 15 years after this intersection. Ivy is a strong, sensitive, compassionate person who is trying to complete a legacy left by her father. I wanted Ivy to be an innocent victim of a battle between her father and his rival, and she becomes the key to ending their conflict. Her father, Dr. Leonard Kendall, had created the cure for the world’s diseases but hid the technology inside her to protect it from his company’s sinister intentions. Throughout the book Ivy learns about her father’s tragic struggle and realizes her destiny was part of an elaborate chess game between him and his business partner, Dr. Harlan Griffin. She realizes that she is a pawn in their war, but as she unravels her father’s history, she understands she must evolve to survive and bring an end to the company that murdered him.

AMANDA: In the first phase of INFEX, we find Ivy teaming up with former IngenBio Commander Garret Thorne ironically enough. Can you tell us about Thorne’s character and how his relationship with Ivy will be affected over time? Also, who is the primary antagonist in INFEX?

Exclusive Interview: Director Keith Arem Discusses His New Graphic Novel Infex

KEITH: At the beginning of the story, Garrett Thorne is a former Gulf War soldier, working as the Head of Security for IngenBio Corporation – the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Thorne befriends Ivy and her father, Dr. Leonard Kendall, but soon also becomes a victim of the chess game between Kendall and Griffin. Harlan Griffin is the President of IngenBio, and he uses Thorne’s relationship to manipulate Kendall. When Thorne is eventually sent in to retrieve Kendall’s technology, he becomes responsible for Kendall’s death and given the responsibility of protecting Ivy from Griffin.

Fifteen years later we discover Thorne has been captured and genetically modified by Griffin. When he discovers Ivy has been captured, he escapes and uses his new abilities to guide Ivy and protect her from Griffin. As his name implies, Thorne is a polar opposite of Ivy, both in his abilities and physical attributes. Their combination of unique abilities and opposing strengths make them a powerful rival to Griffin’s army.

AMANDA: The voice acting in INFEX contains an all-star cast of talented actors including Lance Henriksen (Aliens and Terminator), Michael Wincott (The Crow), William Fichtner (The Dark Knight and Date Night), and even video game veterans such as Will Yun Lee (Sleeping Dogs) and Troy Baker (The Last of Us and Bioshock: Infinite). How did you assemble such an amazing cast for INFEX, and how much has the talent contributed to the success of the project?

KEITH: I have been very fortunate to work with such an amazing group of actors over the past several years. My work in games has fostered amazing relationships with some of the most talented people in the industry, and we love working together. Not only do I have a strong respect for their work and abilities, but I am drawn towards people who love their craft. I love what I do and collaborate best with people who are more excited about a concept and story than just a paycheck. The cast of INFEX has brought the story to life in a way no other book has done before. I wanted the viewer to experience each panel of the graphic novel as if it was a scene from a movie, and their performances deliver this and more. I was extremely impressed with everyone’s contribution, and I can’t wait to do more.

AMANDA: INFEX is definitely an exciting title that we can’t wait to complete. What do you hope the lasting impact of INFEX will be on the entertainment industry, when will the remaining phases of the story be released, and will INFEX ever move to another platform or possibly produce a full fledged spin-off video game or other project?

KEITH: We are submitting Phase 2 with Apple this week and hope to release the successive phases each month through October. Our goal is to develop INFEX into a true transmedia franchise and expand the other story threads in a variety of mediums. I plan to develop a series, game franchise, and film around the INFEX universe and utilize a range of new technologies to tell these stories. My hope is that INFEX will create a new breed of entertainment, allowing graphic novelists, actors, game developers, writers, musicians, artists, and creators to play in a new medium of storytelling.

You can learn more at the rather spooky INFEX website or download the first phase on iTunes.

Exclusive Interview: Director Keith Arem Discusses His New Graphic Novel Infex

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Dread Central UK Enjoys a Box of IT



One of the best things about writing for Dread Central is the cool gifts companies send us in exchange for covering their releases.

With Stephen King’s It now being available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, Warner Bros. were kind enough to send me an It-themed gift box absolutely free of charge. I collected this beautiful piece of merchandise from Organic Marketing’s London headquarters, and it is quite possibly my favorite thing in the world. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Inside this beautiful box were four Pennywise-themed cupcakes, a Pennywise Vinyl Pop figure in its original packaging, a laminated flyer, and of course, a copy of the film on Blu-ray. As you can see from the images below, a red balloon, just like the one held by Pennywise in the film, was attached to the box, although I’m sorry to say that it has now been burst (and I’m keeping the remains).

It, which now has the honor of being the highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time, was directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Finn Wolfhard. With the film now being available on home video in the UK, you shouldn’t waste any time ordering your copy, especially since we gave it a perfect score in our review.

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)



Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.


Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!


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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It



Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow

It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

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Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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