Zombie Flesh Eaters Star Ian McCulloch Talks Meeting Fulci, the Public's Reaction to the Film, and More - Dread Central
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Zombie Flesh Eaters Star Ian McCulloch Talks Meeting Fulci, the Public’s Reaction to the Film, and More

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Zombie Flesh Eaters Star Ian McCulloch Talks Meeting Fulci, the Public's Reaction to the Film, and MoreWith the release of Arrow Video’s phenomenal Blu-ray treatment of Lucio Fulci’s classic Zombie Flesh Eaters upon us, we chatted with the film’s star, Ian McCulloch, about his experiences in the world of Italian horror.

It’s hard to believe Lucio Fulci’s now widely celebrated undead nightmare was once rotting in ‘video nasty’ limbo. Most of you reading this right now probably saw Zombie Flesh Eaters years ago in appallingly muddy VHS quality – as if you didn’t already feel dirty enough for deciding to watch the infamous Italian stomach-churner!

Now, thanks to the excellent folks at Arrow Video, you can see it in an eye-popping Blu-ray presentation with some meaty extras to chew through. That’s right; you can watch a zombie fight a shark in glorious high definition!

To celebrate this historical release, we had the good fortune to sit down with one of the stars of Zombie Flesh Eaters, Ian McCulloch, who played plucky reporter Peter West. Despite finding the footage to be uncomfortable to watch, he would later go on to star in spaghetti horrors Zombie Holocaust and Contamination. So just how was it working alongside a genre legend in one of horror cinema’s most infamous films?

Can you recall the moment you landed the role and first met with Lucio Fulci? How was it?

Ian McCulloch: I was offered the role of Peter West on April Fool’s Day. I was rehearsing a play in Plymouth when my agent phoned me with the offer. Having agreed to take it, the film company arranged to fly me to London to meet Fulci for dinner. He was accompanied by the casting director, and the meeting went as well as it could, bearing in mind my total lack of Italian and Fulci’s not so brilliant English. He was, I thought, rather boastful but not about his film career – more his prowess as a man of the world who directed films but also sailed the Atlantic and bred horses.

Did you stay in contact with Fulci after the film’s release?

Ian McCulloch: I did not meet Lucio again after I finished the film.

What were your initial feelings about the project?

Ian McCulloch: I thought I was going to make a ‘Hammer Horror’ type of film. I had no idea how Italians did things, and while I was aware that they did not hold back when they did sex type scenes, I had no premonition of how they were going to shoot the other special effects. However, the offer of a leading role and the locations in New York, the Dominican Republic and Italy, plus a generous financial deal, made me only too willing to accept the offer, especially as there would be no audition or test.

How was it working on set? Was there a scene in particular that was hard to shoot?

Ian McCulloch: I was impressed by the work ethic of the crew and the speed at which they worked. Most of them had worked with Fulci before and were used to his antics and style. An English unit would have taken twice as long. Breaks were few and short. They were also making another film at the same time. In the hotel and on various planes we travelled in. They went out of their way to be friendly and helpful, and there were no problematic scenes.

How does it feel now that the film has gone from a ‘video nasty’ to getting such a polished Blu-ray presentation?

Ian McCulloch: I was astonished that there was enough interest to make the 25th Anniversary DVD and more astonished that there was a huge audience attending conventions in the States who loved the film. The same proved true in the UK and Germany but surprisingly not in Italy, the country of its origin. I saw the Blu-ray, and they have done a tremendous job on it.

Can you remember the public reaction when the film was first released?

Ian McCulloch: I hoped, I suppose, for a bigger and better reaction. It did not set the world alight, and my wife walked out after five minutes. It took its classification as a video nasty to increase its popularity.

Why do you think the film still has such a strong following today?

Ian McCulloch: I have no idea except that it was the first of its kind and probably one of the goriest. Romero set the tone for one type of zombie film, and Fulci set the tone for the other. I am constantly surprised by its following, which now includes almost three generations of film fans.

What did you think when you saw the finished film? Is it true that the film shocked you? Which scene in particular?

Ian McCulloch: I saw the film for the first time when I did the commentary for the 25th Anniversary version with Jason Slater. I was, however, in another room, answering Jason’s questions and looking away to tell anecdotes as I remembered them from the screen so I did not see all of the film. I saw enough, however, to make me wince and feel that I had made the right decision in not seeing it before. I saw it for the first time properly at the Burns Centre in Dumfries where I was doing a Q&A and realised that I would have to see it to answer the questions.

Do many films shock you these days, or do you tend to stay away from horror?

Ian McCulloch: Horror films are not my cup of tea although I see from my CV that I have done more of them than any other!

Many thanks to Ian for taking the time out to chat with us! If you’re a fan of the film (and if not, what the heck are you doing here?), be sure to enter our UK Zombie Flesh Eaters giveaway.

Zombie Flesh Eaters Star Ian McCulloch Talks Meeting Fulci, the Public's Reaction to the Film, and More

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Night of the Living Dead 4K and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection

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It’s been a long time coming for these two classics, especially Night of the Living Dead after the ridiculously bad transfer put out by Mill Creek Entertainment, whose transfer was supposedly remastered from a new 2K scan. I swear I thought it was some kind of a joke when I first put it on to watch. In any event…

IndieWire is reporting that horror classics Night of the Living Dead and The Silence of the Lambs will be added to the 2018 Criterion Collection, a hallmark label for home video cinephiles.

According to the site, Criterion will release a new 4K digital restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, which has been approved by the movie’s cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray sets are 35 minutes of deleted scenes and audio commentary from 1994 featuring the late Jonathan Demme (director), stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas.

Night of the Living Dead will also be released in 4K with never-before-seen 16mm dailies included as a bonus feature(!).

These will be added in February of 2018 so make sure you save up some cash after the holidays!

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DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

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4.5

Summary

Director Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended!

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User Rating 5 (2 votes)
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Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review – A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End brings closure to hungry fans in all the ways they’d hope – albeit turned down a notch through animation. Over-the-top kills and headbanging metal riffs still reign supreme, they’re just drawn by hand instead of oozing practical effects this time.

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User Rating 3.11 (9 votes)
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