Exclusive: Composer Corey Allen Jackson Talks Hansel & Gretel Get Baked and More! - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Composer Corey Allen Jackson Talks Hansel & Gretel Get Baked and More!

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Exclusive: Composer Corey Allen Jackson Talks Hansel & Gretel Get Baked and More!With the feature Hansel & Gretel Get Baked releasing February 19th On Demand and in select cities on February 22nd via Tribeca Film, we thought it time to bring you our interview with the flick’s composer, Corey Allen Jackson.

Prior to becoming the recipient of the BMI Award for Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television from the University of Southern California, 44-year-old Jackson studied music composition at the La Schola Cantorum in Paris, France, and to date has racked up an impressive list of genre scores, including those for the Steven R. Monroe-directed horror flicks It Waits, Sasquatch Mountain, Left in Darkness, I Spit On Your Grave (2010) and the upcoming MoniKa, among others.

We recently chatted with him regarding his process as well as his approach to scoring director Duane Journey’s Hansel & Gretel Get Baked.

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“I started as a metal guitarist, and I just assumed that if you played, you wrote as well,” Jackson told us of his musical beginnings. “I was fifteen or so when I began playing. Later in college I majored in music composition because it was the closest thing to songwriting available, and I kept hearing the classical works of fellow student composers, and I thought to myself, ‘I can do that.’ So I composed my first concert piece.”

After earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition and his studies abroad, Jackson landed at USC’s program for film scoring.

“For the first half of the program, I thought, ‘I cannot do this,’” he recalled. “But then I started working, and I was absolutely hooked.”

As for his work on director Journey’s Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (the David Tillman-scripted project stars Michael Welch and Molly C. Quinn as the titular characters, who together run afoul of an evil, drug-dealing witch played by Lara Flynn Boyle), “I researched some scores to prepare,” Jackson told us. “I rarely listen to film scores without picture, but I do watch films while listening critically to see how great composers of the past and present approach scenes. I [also] checked out films scored by the late Elmer Bernstein, including his An American Werewolf in London, and Christopher Young’s Hellbound score and Geoff Zanelli’s [composition for] Disturbia. I absolutely love all of these movies and their scores.”

“I wanted to be a little ‘old school’ on this one, in terms of melodies and instrumentation, to get that ‘fairy tale’ vibe,” offered Jackson, who employed strings, harp and celesta as well as an 80’s orchestral sound, in his aural approach. “Not too much ‘old school,’ but just enough magic to sell it. I played the comedy dark, but with a hint of fantasy, and the horror scenes as ‘full on’ horror. I played it straight but a bit over-the-top. I think it was successful and worked with the horror/comedy elements, but I wouldn’t play a full-blown horror film that way as a contemporary film composer.”

“I had three weeks to write and produce this project,” Jackson stated of the tight schedule, “and we had to score using players from out of the country, due to union and production company restrictions, so I had one day with the players and two days to mix in ProTools. I wrote the score using Apple’s Logic.”

Chatting about his affinity for the genre, Jackson told us, “Although I can score in many different genres, I’ve been a horror fan since I first saw Jaws, Halloween and Prophecy in the 70’s. It would drive my parents mad because I could not sleep for two days after [watching them], but I always had to go back for more. There’s a comfort I get from the genre, something I think most avid fans understand. A scary movie makes you totally forget about real life for a while. I think the world is a much more interesting place with horror films and books in it.”

As for his prolific working relationship with director Steven R. Monroe, “I love working with him and have been very fortunate to do several films with him,” offered Jackson. “After ten or so projects, we have a rhythm to our process and can work quickly. Films are usually temped with other music in the editing process. Monroe and I then discuss whether the temp works, what should be highlighted with certain instruments or motifs, etc., and then I start scoring. Interestingly, Monroe sometimes temps with my music.”

“This process is similar with other directors,” he continued. “There is variety in personalities, however. Some directors want to be extremely involved with the process, and others give me just a few notes and I turn in the score. I generally encourage directors to communicate with me in dramatic terms, rather than in musical ones, because the language is more universal.”

As for whether we’ll hear Jackson’s work in the upcoming Steven R. Monroe-helmed I Spit On Your Grave Too, “I hope so!” stated Jackson. “Steven and I have discussed a few ideas already, but the paperwork has not been signed. I’ve not scored a sequel so it would be great to see what problems or benefits arise.”

For more on Hansel & Gretel Get Baked, visit its Facebook page, and be sure to also stop by the official Corey Allen Jackson website.

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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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Netflix to Tell The Frankenstein Chronicles in the States

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There’s still a big part of me that wonders why Universal – or anyone for that matter – has not been able to reboot classics like The Mummy, Dracula, and Frankenstein. Maybe they’re trying too hard? Maybe they keep putting the wrong people at the helm?

Look at del Toro’s The Shape of Water… It’s pretty much a new version of The Creature of the Black Lagoon with a heavier emphasis on the relationship between monster and chosen mate. Even though there are a couple of hokey parts, it really works and is excellent. So maybe we need to look elsewhere throughout the world to meet with success. Case in point: “The Frankenstein Chronicles.”

Variety is reporting that the hit six-episode UK series starring Sean Bean will be coming Stateside and more via the ever-growing streaming service Netflix.

This deal opens the way for Netflix to make further seasons should it resonate with its U.S. and global subscribers.

“The Frankenstein Chronicles” is a re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s classic novel. Set in 1830s London, Bean (“Game of Thrones”) plays John Marlott, a war veteran and river policeman. Season 1 of the serialized show sees him investigating the case of a corpse made up of body parts from different children and finding the matter involves senior establishment figures and demonic forces.

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Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn Returning to the Horror Genre

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Know what’s funny? We horror fans have known how good James Gunn was all along. It just took the rest of the world time to catch up! Now that Gunn has made his big Hollywood bones with his two Guardians of the Galaxy flicks, he’s returning to the genre to produce a new horror flick! Oh, happy day!

Word came across our desks that Gunn has signed on to produce an untitled horror feature with The H Collective. It was written by James’ brother Brian and cousin Mark Gunn. James will produce the project in between writing the highly anticipated feature Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 and starting production. Gunn’s longtime collaborator David Yarovesky will direct.

The H Collective will fully finance the project and produce alongside Gunn and his shingle, Troll Court Entertainment. Brian and Mark Gunn, Dan Clifton, and The H Collective’s Nic Crawley will executive produce.

The project is expected to go into production in the spring of 2018 and brings Gunn back to his horror roots. The filmmaker, whose credits included mostly fan-favorite horror gems like Slither prior to writing and directing Guardians of the Galaxy, is responsible for turning the Marvel property into one of the most memorable franchises in the Marvel universe.

More as we get it!

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