Exclusive: Screenwriter John August Talks Frankenweenie, Preacher and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Screenwriter John August Talks Frankenweenie, Preacher and More

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Longtime Tim Burton collaborator- writer John August- has enjoyed a rather remarkable career in a considerably short amount of time. Read on for his thoughts on everything from Frankenweenie to the much talked about adaptation of Preacher.

He hit the ground running when he saw his very first script out of college- the now modern cult classic Go– being helmed by director Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity) and just a year later found himself working on the feature film update of Charlie’s Angels with McG. It was in 2003 when August found something of a kindred creative spirit in Burton when the pair worked on Big Fish and eventually four other feature film projects including the iconic filmmaker’s latest- the Disney stop-motion animated flick Frankenweenie which hits theaters everywhere this Friday.

Tasked with fleshing out the story that Burton first brought the story of Victor and Sparky to life in his award-winning stop-motion short film back in 1984, Dread Central recently caught up with August on the phone to talk about his experiences working on Frankenweenie, discussed his approach in creating a kids story that adults could love too and gave us an updated on the long-rumored about Preacher feature film adaptation of the comic series.

Check out the highlihgts of our exclusive interview with August below and look for more on Frankenweenie coming soon!

Dread Central: So what kind of notes did Tim give you before you started working on the script for Frankenweenie?

John August: Tim knew that the most important aspect of the feature film was that we had to stay true to the short. He also had a list of monsters and he had sort of an idea of the other kids in this universe but that was about it really; it all happened very quick. All he really said was ‘Give me the story that ties this all together and makes it a movie.’ So that’s what I did; I made this world a much broader canvas than the short had and really developed the other characters beyond Victor and Sparky.

Of course Victor and Sparky are the heart and soul of this story but I really felt like they deserved to exist in a world with other lively characters so that’s why you have all these quirky kids and teachers, a town that has very unique issues with lightning and nightly storms and then we decided to explore the idea of the good and bad side to science. That was a lot to work in but I think we found a successful balance and made a movie that hopefully reaches people on an emotional level but also entertains them too.

Dread Central: I found so much of the humor in the movie really delightful; was it a challenge for you at all making a kid-centric story that adults can appreciate as well?

John August: I always kept that in mind when writing Frankenweenie; the important thing to remember was that this story is from their perspective- from Victor’s perspective- so we always treated the events in this movie that maybe seem trivial to us as adults like they were the most important things happening in the world. Maybe we don’t worry about our science projects but kids do so we really kept our focus on telling this story from a child’s POV. It was all about being honest with these characters and this world.

What’s great though is that the overall themes in the movie are really things we can all relate to, no matter what our age- we’ve all experienced loss, we’ve all felt like an outsider at one time or another- those are all universal ideas whether you’re 6 or 60.

Dread Central: You’ve been a longtime collaborator of Tim’s- any future plans for working together yet?

John August: There’s nothing on the horizon just yet; it’s really just a matter of seeing what Tim’s next project is and whether or not he wants me to be the one writing it. But I love writing movies that he can make; he’s so incredibly supportive of my work all the time and I really love his vision and the way he tells stories. It’s almost magical.

Dread Central: One project I know that has been through the rumor mill over the last few years was Preacher– is that a project that’s pretty much done with now?

John August: This is what I can say about Preacher- it’s a project I would love to see happen; it is something that could be greenlit at some time but honestly, it won’t be any time soon. There’s no one in the world that wants to see this movie happen more than me because I’m such a huge fan of this character and this world.

The Frankenweenie voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands), Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas), Martin Short (Mars Attacks!), and Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow), along with Charlie Tahan and Atticus Shaffer.

Synopsis
A heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.

A stop-motion animated film, ‘Frankenweenie’ will be filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D, which will elevate the classic style to a whole new experience.

Exclusive: Screenwriter John August Talks Frankenweenie, Preacher and More

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George A. Romero’s Daughter, Tina, Wrote a Script For Queens of the Dead

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The loss last year of director George A. Romero was a huge blow to the horror community, as well as the filmmaking community at large. The passing of the man responsible for creating the modern day zombie and whose work influenced “The Walking Dead”, Dead Alive, 28 Days Later, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out was felt far and wide but we take solace knowing that his work and legacy will live on forever.

Something that brings a smile to my face is hearing that his daughter, Tina, who DJ’s under the name DJ TRx, has written a screenplay for a zombie film that is called Queens of the Dead. And yes, it’s very gay! Romero has not only written the script but also plans on directing the film herself.

Romero tells The Saunder Blog about the film, saying, “Queens of the Dead is a fusion of two huge parts of my world: zombies and Gay nightlife. It’s a tribute to my father as well as my entrée into the genre he grandfathered. I can’t say too much yet, but what I can tell you is that this film will have all the hallmarks of a George A. Romero classic: farce, politics, heroes, assholes, and most importantly, herds of silly and slow moving walkers that you can’t help but love. But I’m doing it Tina-style, and bringing the glitter, choreography, queers & queens.

Romero’s father always brought some sort of social message into his work, so to hear that she will continue that tradition is inspiring, especially since it comes on a topic that is so discussed and topical.

If you want to read more about Romero and her DJ career, click on the link above.

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?

Wanna See Something REALLY Scary? Local 58 Contingency Emergency Broadcast

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary

“Wanna see something REALLY scary?”

To horror fans who came of age in the 1980s, the line above instantly evokes memories of Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks in the opening scene from Twilight Zone: The Movie. Now, on a bi-monthly basis, I’ll be asking, “Wanna see something REALLY scary?” with the goal of shocking you with chilling footage plumbed from the darkest corners of YouTube.

As a child of the Cold War born in the 1970s and traumatized by films like The Day After and Threads, I remember immediately panicking every time an Emergency Broadcast broke into a TV show I was watching. That alarming tone made my stomach drop and in the moments before it was confirmed to be “only a test” I had already imagined a barrage of nuclear warheads bursting overhead.

My heart went out to the residents of Hawaii who, due to a false alarm, believed a missile attack was imminent this weekend. For almost 40 minutes, families scrambled into fallout shelters, bathrooms, and even storm drains, believing war had begun between the United States and North Korea. Even after the all-clear was announced and the warning revealed as a mistake, nerves were severely rattled. I can only imagine the potential long-term damage done to the psyches of Hawaii’s youngest residents.

For a taste of the pandemonium that occurred, check out an excerpt from CNN’s reporting below.

While the shock must have been unprecedented for most, a bizarre alert that accidentally aired in the late 1960s puts the Hawaii debacle to shame. What viewers of a local station saw just before the end of programming at 3 am was a message announcing the fall of the US Government, and included instructions for committing suicide rather than surrendering to enemy forces.

Wanna see something REALLY scary?

The message bore the seal of The U.S. Department for the Preservation of American Dignity, included a statement from President Lyndon B. Johnson, and warned that failure to commit suicide as instructed would have consequences:

“Your local law enforcement has been ordered to ensure your compliance,” the message cautioned. “It is against the law to delay.” The final instructions remind adult viewers to put down their children and pets first while promising “There is nothing to fear.” Though the station later posted a statement ensuring viewers the message was a hoax, the potential loss of life this broadcast could have inspired is staggering. Have a look:

If the Local 58 Contingency, as it’s become known, seems too outlandish to be true, that’s because it isn’t. Though the video doesn’t include an admission of fiction, it’s written and directed by Kris Straub. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the writer of the popular creepypasta Candle Cove, recently adapted into a TV series on SyFy.

Still, the vintage look of the Local 58 Contingency, not to mention the current climate of heightened tensions between American and a rogue nuclear nation, make this video a truly terrifying viewing experience.

Got an idea for a future installment of “Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?” Hit me up on Twitter @josh_millican!

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The Housemaid Haunts a New Trailer

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Here’s the thing… if we had the choice between cleaning up our own house or being haunted by a vengeful spectral servant of sorts, well… just hand us a friggin’ mop, wouldja already? Still, in the case of The Housemaid, it looks like nothing is gonna stop her from sensing shivers! Dig on this new trailer.

Derek Nguyen directs the flick, which stars Kate Nhung, Jean-Michel Richaud, Kim Xuan, Svitlana Kovalenko, and Rosie Fellner. Look for IFC Midnight’s release of The Housemaid coming to select theaters, VOD, and via Digital platforms in the U.S. on February 16, 2018.

Synopsis:
A forbidden passion awakens vengeful spirits within a haunted mansion in this bloodcurdling, erotic tour-de-force.

Vietnam, 1953: Linh (Nhung Kate), a poor, orphaned young woman, finds employment as a housemaid in a crumbling rubber plantation presided over by the emotionally fragile French officer Sebastien Laurent (Jean-Michel Richaud). Soon, a torrid love affair develops between the two – a taboo romance that rouses the ghost of Laurent’s dead wife, who won’t rest until blood flows.

Submerged in moody Gothic atmosphere, this stylish supernatural saga confronts the dark shadows of Vietnam’s colonial past while delivering heart-stopping scares.

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