Exclusive: Darren Lynn Bousman on The Barrens, an Abattoir Feature Film and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Darren Lynn Bousman on The Barrens, an Abattoir Feature Film and More

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Writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman isn’t one to sit still for very long; after helming three successful Saw sequels from 2004 to 2007, he’s gone on to direct a string of genre flicks, and his latest thriller, The Barrens, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Films.

Recently Dread Central caught up with the ever-busy Bousman on the phone to chat about his Jersey Devil-inspired project that stars Stephen Moyer, Mia Kirshner and Shawn Ashmore. During our interview we heard more from him on his experiences making the film, his thoughts on collaborating with Moyer and how he pushed the “True Blood” star to his limits, and much more.

Read on for the highlights from our exclusive interview with Bousman.

Dread Central: I really enjoyed the fact that The Barrens wasn’t exactly the “Jersey Devil” movie you think it’s going to be; can you discuss why you decided to go with such an unusual approach?

Darren Lynn Bousman: You know, for me it was all about the idea that if you can remove the gimmick to the story, the movie would still work on its own merits. With Repo! the movie still worked if you removed the singing. With the Saw movies they all still worked when you took away the gore elements. And in the case of The Barrens, it needed to still work even if it didn’t have a movie monster aspect. Does it still hold water?

It’s a monster movie that has this sort of “descent into madness” feel to it, which I thought was something that really hadn’t been done before; not a lot has been done with the Jersey Devil in fact. I really don’t feel like this creature has been exploited as much as other creatures like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness or maybe even the Chupacabra; so I saw the Jersey Devil’s mythology as this untapped resource, and I thought that would be a perfect monster to set this terrifying psychological thriller against.

Dread Central: Talk about casting. Stephen Moyer as your lead; it was definitely against type in comparison to his work on “True Blood,” which I’ve enjoyed.

Darren Lynn Bousman: Yeah, Stephen was great; the whole movie rests on his shoulders, and he just kicks ass. I have tremendous respect for this guy; he always wanted to be on set as much as humanely possible, and it wasn’t necessarily an “easy” set to be on considering our location. But I think that to me is what makes for a great actor- someone who was going to be there not only for the job, but as a team player in this whole process.

The range of emotions that he has to go through in 90 minutes is astounding, and I think his work here really showed his acting chops off. He was totally down for anything, and he took a big risk with his movie. I think that he saw it as a chance to do more than he gets to do on “True Blood” – being a reserved vampire – and show off that he does have this extreme emotional range when he’s got the right material.

Dread Central: How did shooting go on The Barrens? It doesn’t really look like you guys had a glamorous shoot at all.

Darren Lynn Bousman: Well, we shot this in Toronto- we wanted to shoot in the Pine Barrens, but logistically we just couldn’t. I knew that would be a sticking point for the Jersey Devil fans out there, that our forest doesn’t look like the Pine Barrens, but we got as close as we could; and I think overall it still looks pretty damn close. I don’t think it detracts from the story either.

So this movie was made for a very small amount, and we shot it in what turned out to be 16 days; it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever made. It was a really, really rough shoot; we were plagued with weather issues and forced to shut down shooting numerous times- it was a nightmare, literally. Plus, this was the first film that I have done which was shot entirely on location. Before, I had sound stages and controlled environments, but with The Barrens we were in the forest the entire time, and you forget to take into consideration things like having to move cables and lighting through the forest. You could spend half a day just moving cable- it was awful.

Dread Central: Let’s talk about the monster- the design and how you conceived the look of it. I appreciated that these days when so many people would have gone digital, you decided to take the complicated route and do a practical creature in this project.

Darren Lynn Bousman: I did not want to do a CG monster movie at all; that was never my intention at any point on this movie so I always intended to have a practical monster in The Barrens. That being said, one of the problems that we ran into is that we were very limited to what we could actually afford and get away with for our Jersey Devil; and given our time constraint with production moving so quickly, I never saw the Jersey Devil until the day it showed up on our set.

So when it actually showed up on set, the thing weighed hundreds of pounds, and the actor that was in it couldn’t move at all inside the costume. Originally we were supposed to see the monster more in the movie but it got to a point that he couldn’t move in the suit, and after all was said and done, it actually took five or six guys to operate it. So the Jersey Devil ends up being in less than a minute in the entire movie.

Dread Central: Any future plans to do more with the Jersey Devil mythology then?

Darren Lynn Bousman: I’m not sure, but I know that I would love to continue this mythology on because I think it’s such a fascinating creature. There’s a lot, too, that we couldn’t really put into the script – more on the witchcraft and Satanism – that I would love to explore in the future, too.

Dread Central: So what’s up next for you then?

Darren Lynn Bousman: Well, I’ve got the Blu-ray and DVD of The Devil’s Carnival coming out October 23rd, and I’m currently getting my next film project ready – Abattoir – which is based on the comic series I did a few years back. I’m writing the script right now, and I think that’s going to be the next movie I make.

Synopsis
It’s known as the Jersey Devil, the winged beast spawned 400 years ago by Satan himself. Some say this creature still inhabits the dense pine forests of southern New Jersey, where Richard Vineyard (Moyer) takes his family for a rustic weekend camping trip. As the Vineyard family ventures further into the woods in search of the perfect campsite, Richard teeters on the edge of sanity. Welcome to a new kind of horror that lives – and kills – in a place called The Barrens.

Bonus features on The Barrens Blu-ray™/DVD combo (review here) and DVD include commentary by writer/director Bousman and director of photography Joseph White and a deleted scene.

Exclusive: Darren Lynn Bousman on The Barrens, an Abattoir Feature Film and More

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Graham Humphreys Reveals His Poster For An American Werewolf In London

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Graham Humphreys continues to cement his position as one of the top horror artists in the business with his stunning new poster for An American Werewolf in London. This piece was created as a private commission, and fans of John Landis’ 1981 classic are going to love it. You can view the final design of this incredible poster below.

Final design with text.

Graham also provided us with a detailed statement about the creation of the piece, along with a bunch of screen grabs taken throughout the process. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can see how the final image looks before the text was added. In case you missed it earlier, you can also check out our extended interview with Graham here.

Exclusive Statement from Graham Humphreys
As a commercial artist and illustrator, there is only limited scope to make a job entirely your own – so with each project you are answering a brief in order to fulfill the needs of a client. Of course, the client may choose to give you free reign, though this is with the understanding that you are acknowledging their needs and thus expected to work within certain unspoken parameters. Mostly, these confines are defined by how a product is to be sold, licensing instructions and an understanding a market. With this in mind, the client is paying and thus nominally always right… though it would be unprofessional not to make them aware that other options might work better for them!

Without these commercial constraints, a private commission can remove the barriers because no market is to be met and there is only the artist and the private client to answer to. Creating a poster for a familiar and heavily licensed title is an entirely different prospect if it is not going to be generating money in the public domain and is thus essentially ‘fan art’. Unlike say, a T-shirt company ripping off someone elses art and charging money for the printed image, or perhaps a poster reproduced without permission by either the license owner or artist, then sold for profit.

Here, Dread Central have asked me to talk through one such commission, ‘An American Werewolf in London’, painted as a private commission for an individual that wishes to own a unique image that they themselves have made happen. NB: All likenesses and specific imagery (including the title and names etc) are subject to license and copyright and not for any use other than as examples of a work in progress (and of course, all rights are reserved!). Just need to make sure that it absolutely clear!

The client had commissioned two previous posters from me (as well as numerous poster designs from fellow artists), so a basic understanding of expectations had already been established.

My work begins by watching the film from beginning to end – to re-establish my own connection to the film (if one already exists). I saw ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (in London!) on it’s first run and the proximity to many of the locations (Tottenham Court Road tube station, Piccadilly Circus, being the obvious ones) made it instantly impressionable for me. Existing posters, in particular the official theatrical versions and various home-entertainment sleeves, focused on a limited image pool. My job was to find new ways of representing the film, free of the past baggage, but also to listen to my clients requirements.

Looking for a fresh perspective means avoiding the familiar stills that have defined the past marketing, this is achieved by making screen grabs from the DVD or blu-ray. As with most commercial jobs, I generally make a selection of about 40 images, then review these reducing the number to about 15 that have the best narrative potential, including a good visual range of actor expressions and reactions. My client required the Werewolf, London references, the moors, David and Jack, a full moon and the ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ pub sign… then whatever else I chose to include.

On the basis of the selected screen grabs, I make necessary light and contrast adjustments in photoshop, make them greyscale (removing the distraction of colour) and print them out at a size I can easily trace in pencil onto paper. All the pencil sketches are then scanned into photoshop, so that I can rearrange, resize and move around in order to determine the best layout, one which tells a story and has a visual impact. (I find it’s better to present sketched layouts rather than a photocomp’s, partly because the photographic material is usually of varying quality, but also because a pencil rough is more fluid and does not dictate the final impression).

Selected screen grabs.

Selected screen grabs 2.

My first idea involved a portrait of David looking lost and frightened (I felt this was essential to the story), the Werewolf with it’s head bursting through the cinema shutters/signage (the idea of breaking the fourth wall), the decomposing Jack (a perfect metaphor for David’ s own life falling apart), his nightmare of the home invasion (one of the most effective and horrific moments in the film, I felt), plus Brian Glover’s ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ local – a look that defines rednecks and racists the word over when confronted by ‘other’!). I also wanted to add the tube attack victim to open up the carnage. Although Jenny Agutter’s nurse added the romantic dimension for an audience that expects the convention, I wanted to concentrate on David’s story, so chose to only include her face as if she were painted on the shutters, ie. a film poster element.

I was surprised that the client didn’t want the home invasion creatures, nor the reference to the sleazy cinema hordings (which I thought made a good location gag – obviously not!), they also did not want the rotting Jack. It was disappointing to lose these great horror elements, especially as they’d particularly wanted ‘horror’! But a compromise was reached by including the transformation scene at the bottom, and reinstating the moors (which I’d thought unnecessary).

Fortunately, my second sketch was well received and the painting could commence.

On the basis of the selected screen grabs, I make necessary light and contrast adjustments in photoshop, make them greyscale (removing the distraction of colour) and print them out at a size I can easily trace in pencil onto paper. All the pencil sketches are then scanned into photoshop, so that I can rearrange, resize and move around in order to determine the best layout, one which tells a story and has a visual impact. (I find it’s better to present sketched layouts rather than a photocomp’s, partly because the photographic material is usually of varying quality, but also because a pencil rough is more fluid and does not dictate the final impression).

Once I have my sketch approved I reintroduced the photographic source material over the sketched parts, so that my layout remains exactly as approved and so that I’ll have the best possible likenesses to trace onto the watercolour paper.

Early sketched elements.

I usually have a basic idea of what colours I’m going to use. In this instance I knew that I wanted a silvery blue moonlight to bathe the entire image, but also the contrast of the orange glow of artificial lighting, the pub and cinema foyer. I knew the big splash of red in the wolf’s jaw would jump out, becoming the focal point. This painting took about three days to complete, the sketch process (including the grabs) about a day upfront.

Composition design.

The final painting was scanned and all the text added in photoshop.

My client will now make a full size poster print, to be framed, from the file I send him. Next up, ‘The Thing’!

Final painting before text was added.

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Syfy Renews Z Nation for a 5th Season; Season 4 Finale Airs Tonight!

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Syfy’s popular zombie series “Z Nation” just keeps shambling on, and tonight the two-episode Season 4 finale, “Mt. Weather/The Black Rainbow,” airs. If you’re a fan of the show, we have good news for you… it’s not over yet as David Latt of The Asylum has announced on Twitter the pickup of “Z Nation” for a 5th season! So you can expect lots more adventures with the gang in 2018.

Below is the official word from David along with a brief synopsis of what’s ahead tonight in the finale, which kicks off at 9/8c.

Synopsis:
In the mind-bending two-hour Season 4 finale, Warren and the team must stop Zona from launching operation Black Rainbow, which will cleanse the landscape of both zombies and humans. In Part 2 the secret of Warren’s Black Rainbow dream is unlocked when they reach their final destination. The cast includes Kellita Smith as Roberta Warren, Keith Allan as Murphy, Russell Hodgkinson as Doc, Nat Zang as 10K, Gracie Gillam as Sgt. Lilley, DJ Qualls as Citizen Z, Ramona Young as Kaya, Justin Torrence as President Donald Trump, Michael Berryman as The Founder, Micheal Daks as Mr. Sunshine, Anastasia Baranova as Addy, Sydney Viengluang as Sun Mei, Joseph Gatt as The Man, and Natalie Jongjaroenlarp as Red.

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First Look at Chris Alexander’s Space Vampire

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Who says all vampires have to be all extra-broody or sparkly or take up residence in Transylvania? Certainly not indie filmmaker Chris Alexander, who has just unveiled the first images and posters for his latest foray into film, Space Vampire!

The movie stars Ali Chappell as a beautiful female alien parasite who falls to earth with an intent to drain women of their life forces. As if women don’t have enough problems in this day and age!

Alexander wrote, directed, edited, filmed, and even provided the score for this intergalactic terror tale. Talk about a jack of all trades, eh?

Enough talk! Dig in!

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