Exclusive: Writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton Talk Piranha 3DD, Sequels and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton Talk Piranha 3DD, Sequels and More

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This week the silly, sexy and ultra-gory creature feature romp Piranha 3DD is hitting DVD and Blu-ray shelves everywhere, and to get you guys ready, Dread Central recently chatted with horror’s dynamic duo of writing: Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton!

The duo penned the sequel for a frequent co-collaborator of theirs, director John Gulager (the madman behind the Feast trilogy and a “Project Greenlight” winner alongside Dunstan and Melton in Season Three).

Check out what both Melton and Dunstan had to say about their sequel, pushing boundaries, deconstructing “The Hoff,” sequel potential and more in our exclusive interview with the screenwriting team below.

Exclusive: Writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton Talk Piranha 3DD, Sequels, and More!

Dread Central: Can you guys talk about what kind of touchstones you made sure to keep from the first movie for Piranha 3DD? Clearly the location was different and – I would imagine – more challenging.

Marcus Dunstan: There were challenges, but having Piranha 3DD take place in a water park was also a prime testing ground for just how far we could push things. We wanted to push the lines in regard to that weird kind of glamour that’s associated with a sleazy adults-only type of place; sort of that same feeling you get when you’re swimming and you accidentally pick up a Band-Aid floating in the water and it’s not yours (laughs).

Patrick Melton: We knew from our work on the first one that this one was going to have to do something more extreme like a water park so we found two great locations down in Louisiana with Gulager- one in Shreveport and one in Baton Rouge. We just decided to stay down there and wrote the first draft while we were there. We just always had to be conscientious of the budget; that was a big challenge.

Dread Central: I was a huge fan of the humor in Piranha 3DD, particularly “the line” Katrina Bowden drops later on in the film–

Marcus Dunstan: Isn’t that great? She just nailed that so perfectly, I loved it! (laughs) It really was a make or break moment in the film, and her delivery really paid off and sold that moment.

Patrick Melton: You know, for that we had a studio mandate…

Dread Central: Wait, that was a studio mandated moment? Wow. (laughs)

Patrick Melton: Oh yes, really. (laughs) We really had a mandate that said there needed to be a moment when a piranha comes into a woman’s…um…’hoo-ha’ and then out of it so we just went with that and kind of worked backwards with the concept. It ended up being sort of the unintentional centerpiece moment of the movie, but yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

Oh, and that didn’t even end up being the weirdest note we had on Piranha 3DD either; that involved another location on a dude, if you can imagine (laughs).

Marcus Dunstan: We really cranked it up to 17 on Piranha 3DD; we originally wanted to have an homage to Humanoids from the Deep where a baby piranha would bust out of a pregnant woman’s stomach, but we had to keep our budget in mind.

Dread Central: Let’s talk about another great part of Piranha 3DD– David Hasselhoff; was he entirely on board with this role from the start? This kind of deconstructive role isn’t usually the type of thing we see a lot of actors do in movies- sometimes people aren’t very good at poking fun at themselves.

Patrick Melton: Our original idea was to have this water park that was filled with D-list celebrity lifeguards who hate being there, but we had to scrap that idea and eventually went with the idea of the lifeguard being The Hoff because he is really the best. He has been around for like 20-30 years now and was great about everything, but of course we had a line with how far we’d go with it just so he didn’t come off as really unlikable.

It really came down to the humor of The Hoff’s general reluctance to help anyone around him when things go bad at the water park; that humor really helps bridge the story in the movie and especially all the different horror and comedy elements.

Marcus Dunstan: People ended up really caring about The Hoff’s character in the end, which was great (laughs).

Dread Central: Since I have time for one last question, I wanted to know whether or not the three of you (Dunstan, Melton and Gulager) have talked about another sequel if there’s a chance to do a third Piranha flick?

Patrick Melton: We would love to come back and do another one, definitely. And of course we’d love to work with John again because he really gets what these movies are all about.

Marcus Dunstan: We’ve already set up for what the third movie could be since the piranha are continuing to evolve, and there are plenty of common-place water systems like plumbing in your home or in office buildings so yes- there is plenty of carnage out there to be had if we get to do a third Piranha.

Exclusive: Writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton Talk Piranha 3DD, Sequels and More

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The Open House Review – Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

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Starring Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune, Sharif Atkins

Written by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote

Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote


Mere weeks, even days, after effusively beating Netflix’s original horror content drum (The Babysitter, Before I Wake, Creep 2), I’m here to confirm that The Open House is emptier than an vacant bomb shelter. Cold, unappealing and thoughtlessly plotted to the point where “generic” would have been an improvement. From the moment we’re welcomed into Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote’s scripted imprisonment, it’s nothing but loose floorboards and busted plumbing. The home invasion genre has rarely been navigated with such little attention to detail, asking for our suspension of coherent storytelling early, often, and without earning the right to be deemed mindless genre fun. Not even Ty Pennington could save this extreme renovation disaster.

Dylan Minnette plays Logan Wallace, a track star and student who must find closure after watching his father fall victim to a fatal car accident. It is his mother Naomi’s (Piercey Dalton) idea to spend a little time away from their suburban home – escape those painful memories – so they retreat to her sister’s luxurious mountain getaway. The catch? It’s in the process of being sold and open houses are on the regular, so Naomi and Logan must vacate their temporary premises on certain days. It’s after one of these very showings that Logan begins to notice slight changes around the house, and he fears that an unwanted visitor may be in their midst. Guess what? He’s right.

To understand how little The Open House cares about conscious blueprinting, just read the poster’s tagline. “You can’t lock out what’s already inside” – right, but you could have prevented them from coming in, or checked the house to make sure they weren’t squatting, or explored numerous other possibilities to avoid this scenario. The mansion’s realtor allows prospective buyers to come and go but it’s not her job to make sure no one’s hiding in the basement? Naomi can’t even keep track of the *single* visitor she lets look around the house? It’s infuriating to see so many people neglect safety out of forced coincidence because the script couldn’t rationalize the killer’s entry any other way – a confounding strike one.

This is also a film that admits no reasoning for why its own murderer has targeted the Wallaces, or why he stokes a violent fetish when it comes to open houses. We never actually see his face, just his imposing handyman-looking attire, nor do we savor any kind of tangible backstory (his family died during their own open house and he suffered a psychotic breakdown – just give me *something*). His undefined form never demands curiosity like John Carpenter’s “The Shape” once did, because scripting is nothing more than bullet notes for basic horror movie necessities. Here he is, your bad guy – too bad he’s introduced without fear, handled without originality and unable to characterize beyond torturous kidnapper dotted lines. He’s just, you know, a guy who sneaks into open houses and kills – COMPLETE WITH A FINAL PAN-IN ON AN OPEN HOUSE SIGN WHEN HE MOVES TO HIS NEXT TARGET [eye roll into infinity].

Every scene in The Open House feels like an afterthought. “Ah, we need a way to build tension – how about a senile local woman who lives down the street and wanders aimlessly into frame?” Overplayed and in no way suitable to most her inclusions, but sure. “Oh, and we need inner conflict – what about if the breaker-iner steals Logan’s phone and frames him for later acts?” I mean, didn’t Logan canonically lose his phone even before Naomi’s mid-shower water heater issues – but sure, instant fake tension. “How are people going to believe the killer is always around and never blows his cover – think they’ll just buy it?” No, we don’t. Worse off, his cat-and-mouse game is dully repetitive until a finale that skyrockets intensity with jarring tonal imbalance. This closing, dreadful end without any sort of redemptive quality. More abusive than it is fulfilling.

If there’s anything positive worth conveying, it’s that Minnette does a fine job shuffling around as a character with severe sight impairment. The killer makes a point to remove his contacts as a final “FUCK YOU,” just to toy around a bit more, and Minnette frantically slips or stumbles with nothing more than foggy vision. Otherwise, dialogue finds itself ripped form a billion other straight-to-TV Logo dramas about broken families, no moment ever utilizing horror past a few shadowy forms standing in doorways after oblivious characters turn away. You can’t just take an overused subgenre and sleepwalk through homogenized beats…case and god-forsaken point.

Even as a streamable Netflix watch, The Open House is irredeemable beyond fault. The walls are caving in on this dilapidated excuse for home invasion horror, benefiting not from the star power of a temperamental Dylan Minnette. I have seen most involved players here in far better projects (Minnette’s stock has rightfully been skyrocketing, Matt Angel in The Funhouse Massacre, etc), but this is bargain bin theatrics without a fully formed idea. A nameless villain, doomed nice guy (Sharif Atkins), woefully unaware plot advancement – all the worst cliches found in one rage-quit worthy effort. Anyone who makes it through deserves an award…or a dunce cap.

  • The Open House
1.0

Summary

Unless you’re irrationally afraid of cold showers, The Open House fails to deliver on a premise that can be summed up by no more than two lines of text.

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Michael C. Hall Buried in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary

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Now here’s an audio book we can REALLY get behind! Entertainment Weekly is reporting that former “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall will be narrating the first ever unabridged recording of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Sometime’s audio is better!

Readers have been asking for this audiobook for a very long time,” Stephen King said in a statement. “I know the listening experience will be worth the wait with Michael as narrator.

We’re thrilled to finally bring Pet Sematary to King’s audiobook fans,” Simon & Schuster Audio president and publisher Chris Lynch added. “Michael C. Hall is a perfect match for this timeless story, which has long deserved an unabridged production.

The unabridged audiobook of Pet Sematary will be released by Simon & Schuster Audio on March 27. Speaking of Hall… you know he would make a pretty friggin’ good casting choice to play Victor Pascow in the upcoming Pet Sematary remake. Just sayin’.

BUY IT NOW!

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Saw-inspired Game Play With Me Sets a Trap on Steam

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Saw fans have a lot to be happy about right now. In addition to Jigsaw being teased for Dead by Daylight, a new Saw-themed game called Play With Me has launched on Steam, and although it’s not officially connected with the franchise in any way, developer Airem promised that they created a videogame which looks and plays as though it were made by Jigsaw himself. As you can tell from the trailer and screenshots, the production values and overall quality of Play With Me appear to be considerably higher than most other indie horror games released on Steam, and you’ll probably be very happy to see that Airem took the time and effort to create stylized hand drawn environments rather than using purchased assets from the Unity Store.

The killer behind the sinister traps in Play With Me is known as the Illusion, with the player taking control of investigative journalist Robert Hawk as he tries to fight his way through a series of sick and twisted obstacles created by the lunatic. The voice acting in the trailer was a little cheesy, although we see at 1:09 that the player will be tasked with using a kitchen knife to cut open a dead body (presumably to retrieve an item hidden in the cadaver’s stomach), which is not an image you’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

IQ Publishing are offering a 15% discount off Play With Me for those who purchase the game before January 24, so Saw fans might want to mark that deadline in their calendars and purchase it from Steam before the time is up. After all, it can’t be worse than Konami’s awful official Saw videogames.

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