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Exclusive: Director Susanna Lo Gives Us The Skinny on the Upcoming Film Manson Girls

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Exclusive: Director Susanna Lo Gives Us The Skinny on the Upcoming Film Manson GirlsAlthough the actual crimes happened nearly 45 years ago, the Charles Manson murders continue to intrigue people to this day. Understanding that fact, filmmaker Susanna Lo is bringing us a film that looks at the insanity from a new angle. Prepare yourself for Manson Girls.

Based on the unimaginable events leading up to the 1969 murders performed by the Manson Family, Lo’s Manson Girls tells a unique story from the perspective of the girls. “This is not Charles Manson’s story. This is not Vincent Bugliosi’s (Manson’s prosecuting attorney who wrote Helter Skelter) story. This is the girls’ story, and it predominately takes place in their earlier years from their high school days through when they start meeting each other and their life on Spahn Ranch, and it actually ends a minute before the actual Tate/LaBianca murders,” Manson Girls writer/director Susanna Lo said. “I felt like the murders had been represented enough, and for me the story was how did so many girls get seduced by this one man? Not just to do drugs or have crazy, wild sex but to actually murder people and commit multiple crimes. That’s really the perspective I took on it after I found out, a few years ago, that I was living across the street from the LaBianca house.”

Unsure why so many tourists were curious about her neighbor’s house, Lo investigated. “There were a lot of tourists showing up from around the world, and I couldn’t figure out why,” Lo said. “It was that Hollywood famous dead people tour. I finally couldn’t help it and had to do some research on all the girls. That started to pique my interest, and then I found out that Sandra Good (one of the real Manson Girls) had the exact same birthday as me. And I just had to keep researching.”

Lo spoke on why, nearly 45 years later, the Manson murders are still such an intriguing case. “I think it was the first time it was such a horrific crime,” Lo said. “Even in 1969 with Vietnam going on, Vietnam was happening in another country. Vietnam was somewhere else. This was right in our backyards. These were girls everybody grew up with. And I think the last element was the amount of fame that surrounded not only the people that were murdered but the people they were hanging out with. In my telling of the story, Terry Melcher and Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys are definitely represented and how Charles Manson and the girls were hanging out with them and how Terry was going to produces an album for Manson. And, of course, the murder happening to Sharon Tate. And you just don’t hear about women, and these were just young girls, committing such horrific crimes. They were just brutal. This is not poisoning somebody. These were multiple, multiple stab sounds. It was just so shocking at the time that I think America went from innocence to no longer a safe place. People started locking their doors after the summer of ’69.”

Lo managed to make some pretty intense connections between the story she had written and some of the people who were working on Manson Girls. “I talk to John McFee and Guy Allison of The Doobie Brothers regularly,” Lo said. “Guy is the musical composer of the soundtrack for the film, and Guy and John are the producers of the soundtrack. When John read my script, he was just mortified because there was actually a party scene where he was actually there, hanging out with Susan Atkins, and he realized he had not talked about this since it happened. He was so shocked that someone he considered a casual friend that he partied with regularly did what she ended up doing. And Guy, who’s slightly younger, was 10 years old and living in the neighborhood of the LaBianca murders and said, ‘We started locking our doors after the murders were reported.’ It was shocking to have everything validated by two people who were around the scene at that time.”

Fans of Bill Moseley, who portrays Charles Manson in the film, may be curious as to what inspired Lo to cast the actor in the role of the leader of the family. “When I was casting this role, I was amazed that we received hundreds of submissions, many of them highly recognizable names, for the Charles Manson part. To play Charles Manson is an amazing challenge; it was clear to me immediately that there’d be nobody better than Bill Moseley for the role. Hands down.”

As Lo is creating a film based on a story the world is very familiar with, she explained that it is indeed her fictional take on a true story. “It’s inspired by very true events, but I’m not a documentarian and this is not a documentary at all. It’s more my take on how America raised a nation of female killers and finding out about the neglect and isolation and, sometimes, downright abuse that happened to these eight girls, the eight I focused on,” Lo said. “I tried to hone down what was the truth and what wasn’t the truth. There have been so many conflicting stories.”

Finally, on a side topic, Lo talked about the recent surge of quality female directors within the horror genre. “I just attended a film festival of female horror directors,” Lo said. “Danielle Harris, who’s done a lot of horror films, is now directing one. The films that were there were really quite amazing. It was international, from all over the world, and I didn’t see one bad film there. I think the reason female horror directors are succeeding is a no-brainer. Always the woman survives to the end. And, admittedly for actresses, in a lot of the horror films directed by men, you’ve got to get naked but don’t get to speak much. I think a woman director will help you develop the character a little more. So if you’ve got to get naked or slaughtered, at least you’ve got a great scene beforehand!”

Synopsis
Manson Girls is the story of an American tragedy that could very well be destined to repeat itself if we don’t shine a light on this group of once innocent girls, who became monsters through neglect and abuse. Their often tragic childhoods led them to the devil incarnate, Charles Manson. This is the girls’ story, told from their perspective; a part of world history that will not go away, told with a fresh twist, not from Charlie’s perspective, not from Bugliosi’s perspective. This is all about the Manson Girls.

Manson Girls describes how America raised a nation of female serial killers. It’s told from the perspective of eight of the girls in the infamous Manson Family, starting from their teenage years before they met Charles Manson and ending just prior to the Tate/LaBianca murders.

Exclusive: Director Susanna Lo Gives Us The Skinny on the Upcoming Film Manson Girls

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Todd and The Book of Pure Evil: The End of The End Coming to Blu-ray

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If you were a fan of the kickass Canadian series “Todd and The Book of Pure Evil,” then you’re in for a real treat as the final chapter of the terrifyingly funny series, Todd and The Book of Pure Evil: The End of The End, is coming home.

Continuing where the critically acclaimed cult TV series left off, Todd & The Book of Pure Evil: The End of The End (review) returns to Crowley Heights to find Todd, Jenny and Curtis grieving the loss of their dear friend Hannah, whose death may or may not have been caused by Todd’s banishing of the Book. The three must reunite to fight evil when the Book of Pure Evil returns to Crowley High, bringing with it some familiar faces (Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr., Jimmy the Janitor, and The Metal Dudes) as well as some new foes, such as the Sweater Vest Beast and an Acidic Acne-Faced Teen. But these enemies are merely warm-ups to the final battle with their greatest nemesis yet: The New Pure Evil One, whose intimate knowledge of our heroes may ultimately lead to their destruction! Todd & The Book of Pure Evil: The End of The End is loaded with the same juvenile jokes, gore gags, and satanic sing-alongs that made the original TV series a world-wide hit.

Featuring the original award-winning cast providing their voices – Alex House, Maggie Castle, Bill Turnbull, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins and Jason Mewes, among others. The animated flick is directed by Craig David Wallace (co-creator and showrunner of the live action series) and Richard Duhaney, with a script by Wallace and co-creator Charles Picco, and original music by Shawn Pierce.

Raven Banner’s limited edition includes a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD/CD combo of the feature film (all region), a “Mini Book of Pure Evil” 20-page colour limited edition “making of” booklet, English commentary, never-before-seen artwork, exclusive special features, bonus CD soundtrack, and more!

Order your copy here!

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Metro Exodus Gets a Haunting New Cinematic Trailer

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One of the biggest horror games of 2018 is Metro Exodus, the third installment in the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic first-person franchise based on the novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky. We haven’t heard much about the game since it was announced at E3, although a brand new cinematic trailer debuted at the Game Awards ceremony. And while it didn’t show any actual gameplay footage, it did give us a look at some of the hideous monsters we can expect to encounter in the Russian wasteland when Metro Exodus launches on PS4, Xbox One, and PC late next year.

Like the previous entries in the franchise, Metro Exodus will be developed by Maltese developer 4A Games and published by Deep Silver.

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Children of the Fall Review – This Israeli Slasher Gets Political

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Starring Noa Maiman, Aki Avni, Yafit Shalev, Iftach Ophir, Michael Ironside

Directed by Eitan Gafny

Reviewed out of Utopia 2017


Slashers are a subgenre of horror that are often looked down upon. After all, what can a movie about a killer slaughtering multiple people have to say about, well…anything. Those of us in the community know full well that this is nonsense and that any kind of horror movie can be a jabbing (no pun intended) commentary on society, culture, politics, art, etc… And that’s precisely what Eitan Gafny aims to do with Children of the Fall, one of the few Israeli slashers ever created.

Set on the eve of the Yom Kippur war, the film follows Rachel (Maiman), a young American woman who comes to Israel to join a kibbutz after suffering some serious personal tragedies. Her goal to make aliyah (the return of Jews to Israel) is however hampered by some rather unpleasant encounters with local IDF soldiers and members of the kibbutz. Pushing through, she makes friends with others in the commune and her Zionistic views are only strengthened, although they do not go untested. Once Yom Kippur, one of the holiest holidays in Jewish culture, begins, a killer begins picking off the kibbutz workers one by one in violent and gruesome ways.

Let’s start with what Children of the Fall gets right, okay? As slashers go, it’s actually quite beautiful. There are wonderfully expansive shots that make use of the size and diversity of the kibbutz. The film opens with a beautiful shot of a cow stable, barn, water towers, and miscellaneous outbuildings, all set against a dark and stormy night. The lighting of this scene, and throughout the film, is also very good. I found myself darting my eyes across the screen multiple times throughout the film thinking I’d seen something lurking in the shadows.

The kills, while unoriginal, are very satisfying. Each death is meaty, bloody, and doesn’t feel rushed. In fact, the camera has no problems lingering during each kill, allowing us to appreciate the practical FX and copious amounts of blood used. And if you believe that a slasher needs to have nudity, you won’t be disappointed.

The acting is middle of the road. Maiman is serviceable as Rachel but the real star of the film is Yafit Shalev as “Yaron”. His range of emotion is fantastic, from warm and welcoming to Rachel when she arrives to emoting grief and pain during his Yom Kippur announcement where we learn that he was a child in a concentration camp. The rest of the cast are perfectly acceptable as fodder for the killer.

So where does Children of the Fall stray? Let’s start with the most obvious part: the runtime. Clocking in at nearly two hours, that’s about 30 minutes too much. The film could easily have gone through some hefty editing without affecting the final product. Instead, we have a movie that feels elongated when unnecessary.

Additionally, the societal and political commentary is very in-your-face but the film can’t seem to make up its mind as to what it’s trying to get across. Natalia, a Belarussian kibbutz worker, raises the concept of Israeli racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, her hostility unabashedly pouring out in the midst of IDF soldiers, locals, other kibbutz members, and more. Is there validity to what she’s saying? Undoubtedly. But there is also validity to Rachel’s retorts, which include calling this woman out on her own vitriolic views. This back-and-forth mentality frustratingly prevails throughout the film, as though Gafny was unwilling to just commit.

The dialogue is also quite painful at times, although I attribute this to difficulties with translating from Hebrew to English. Even the best English speakers in Israel don’t get everything perfect and the little quirks here and there, while charming, are quite detracting. Also, why is this movie trying to tell me that Robert Smith of The Cure is a character here? While amusing, it makes absolutely no sense nor does it fit in Smith’s own timeline.

Had this film gone through a couple rounds of editing, I feel like we’d have gotten something really great. Eitan Gafny is definitely someone that we need to be watching very closely.

  • Children of the Fall
2.5

Summary

While Children of the Fall has a lot going for it, it has just as much working against it. Overly long, you’ll get a really great slasher that is bogged down by uneven social and political commentary.

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User Rating 3 (11 votes)
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