Exclusive: Director David Guy Levy on Would You Rather and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Director David Guy Levy on Would You Rather and More

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David Guy Levy’s wonderfully twisted thriller Would You Rather (review here) is now in select theaters and available on VOD. With his Clue, Saw and House on Haunted Hill mash-up, Levy has conjured up an unforgettable and often uncomfortable affair.

Dread Central recently chatted with Levy about his indie project and heard more on how he got involved with this sick and twisted (albeit entertaining) game of Would You Rather with screenwriter Steffen Schlachtenhaufen, why Jeffrey Combs would be the best game show host ever, their plans for a potential sequel and much more.

Dread Central: Congrats on making one of the more uncomfortable movies I’ve had to sit through in a while- which I mean as a compliment of course (laughs).

David Guy Levy: Thanks! That’s what we were aiming for so I’m glad to hear the movie worked for you (laughs).

Dread Central: Can you talk about what attracted you to the project and how you got involved?

David Guy Levy: Oh sure; well, Steffen (Schlachtenhaufen) approached me with a very simple pitch- he said, “What if we made a movie about a game of Would You Rather, but in our version, people had to choose whether or not to do awful things to themselves or each other?” So we took that idea and thought about all the movies we loved and figured out how we could tell this story the best way possible on a very small budget but still tell it the way we wanted to.

We wanted to approach the concept very realistically because I think seeing how playing this game affects ‘real’ people makes it all the more terrifying. We needed real characters and a real story to this, or we would have just ended up making an entirely different kind of horror movie altogether. We didn’t want to make anything too gratuitous either- for both Steffen and myself, Would You Rather was all about creating that tension and holding it from beginning to end.

So I had this idea for a dinner party, much like you see in Clue, where there’s this really disturbing mystery that’s unfolding, all led by this man who is just untouchable. I remember seeing this movie once about a roofer who’s doing a job at a mansion and overhears his employer getting a special invitation to an exclusive event. The guy dies so the roofer doesn’t think anyone would notice if he stole the invitation so he does; and when he shows up, it’s actually this high-stakes tournament of Russian Roulette that you aren’t allowed to leave once you arrive so he gets thrown into something far more sinister than he could have imagined. That’s the kind of tension we were going for.

Dread Central: Can you talk about bringing on Brittany (Snow) and why she was perfect for the role of Iris?

David Guy Levy: You know, she was one of the very first people that popped into my head when we were developing this story; I had a friend of mine, Adam Scott, reach out to her for us, and she agreed to meet with me for lunch to talk about the project. She really loved the story but was of course concerned like we were about Would You Rather turning into a torture porn movie, but I just convinced her that what we were going for was a far more ‘refined’ approach and asked her to trust me. Thankfully she did, and she was absolutely wonderful to work with.

Dread Central: And how about Jeffrey Combs- Lambrick just seemed like a role tailor-made for him.

David Guy Levy: When we were creating Lambrick, I sort of had Christoph Waltz’s character from Inglourious Basterds in the back of my mind. I wanted him to have that kind of flourish to him since Lambrick is essentially a very twisted version of a game show host; so one day Steffen showed me Jeffrey’s reel and I knew immediately that this was the guy. He just had that sensibility to him where I could picture Jeffrey being at the head of this really messed up ‘game show’- it’s all that charisma. Jeffrey would make a perfect game show host if he wasn’t already such a brilliant actor.

So we sent him the script, and one day later he sent back not an acceptance letter but a thank you note, which I thought was really special. And Jeffrey really brought this amazing energy with him to set each and every day, which ended up being somewhat infectious because I could see everyone from the cast to the crew really feeding off of and responding to that, which was just amazing.

There was this really great moment with John Heard’s character, a recovering alcoholic, who has to drink a full decanter of brandy. Originally it was supposed to be a bottle of wine, in reference to John’s glass of wine he refused to drink, but Jeffrey saw that a bottle of wine wasn’t really that much of a threat so he suggested upping the ante and making it a decanter of booze since that will really mess someone up. That was just brilliant, something I hadn’t really considered, and so it was little things like that from Jeffrey that really elevated Would You Rather and also encouraged the other actors to find their own little moments to improve upon, which just made the movie that much stronger.

Dread Central: So what’s coming up next for you then? Are you planning on working in the horror genre again?

David Guy Levy: People always like to say that they don’t like to label themselves- well, I don’t like to unlabel myself if that makes any sense so I’d love to come back and do more horror and even do another Would You Rather movie, too. Steffen and I are working on writing a potential sequel now so we’ll see where that goes. Right now I’m just focused on getting my new comic book out called “Back to Back to the Future,” which is about what would have happened had Eric Stoltz had never been replaced by Michael J. Fox. I originally wrote the story for a class thesis when I was in college and just developed it from there. I knew I could never get it made as a movie so I thought a comic book would be a great treatment for this story.

Synopsis
In the wake of her parent’s death, Iris struggles to make ends meet while caring for her terminally ill younger brother. Shepard Lambrick, a seemingly philanthropic aristocrat, expresses an interest in helping them. When he invites her to an exclusive dinner party, she accepts. Also attending the dinner party are seven more desperate individuals. They soon find themselves trapped in Lambrick’s mansion and forced to play a sadistic game of Would You Rather, where the winner will be awarded untold amounts of money. As the game progresses, the dilemmas Iris and the other players face grow increasingly deadly.

Exclusive: Director David Guy Levy on Would You Rather and More

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Vampire Hunter D: The Series Gets Writer For Pilot Episode

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It’s been a little while since we’ve heard news about “Vampire Hunter D: The Series”, the CG-animated series based on Hideyuki Kikuchi’s titular character. However, some new news broke today over at ANN as they’ve reported that Brandon Easton, who is writing the scripts for new Vampire Hunter D comics, has been tapped by Unified Pictures to write the pilot for the series. The pilot will be based on Kikuchi’s “Mysterious Journey to the North Sea” storylines, which make up the 7th and 8th titles in the book series. Unified is making this series in conjunction with Digital Frontier, the Japanese animation studio behind the CG Resident Evil titles.

Easton told the site, “I’ve had to manage the expectations of three entities: the creator Hideyuki Kikuchi, the producers at Digital Frontier and Unified Pictures, and ultimately myself. This means that you have to find new and exciting ways of telling a story that has a set of concrete rules that have been fully established by the novels.

Meanwhile, the studio has also announced that Ryan Benjamin is taking over as the artist and colorist on the Vampire Hunter D: Message From Mars series with Richard Friend inking the issues.

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Ash vs. Everyone: Eight of the Most Exciting Evil Dead/Army of Darkness Crossover Comics

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To the excitement of fans everywhere, long before he even returned in the exceptional “Ash vs. Evil Dead” TV series, Ash Williams found a second life in comic books. His comic history began with the Army of Darkness adaptation by Dark Horse, painted by John Bolton and overseen by Sam Raimi. But it really took off in 2005, when Dynamite obtained the Army of Darkness license and published their first sequel miniseries, Ashes 2 Ashes, about Ash accidentally transporting himself back to the day before he went to the cabin and then trying to stop himself from ever reading the book.

Since then, there have been several more miniseries as well as a few ongoing titles and, well, a whole lot of crossovers. In the 10+ years since Ash firmly planted his feet in comics, he’s teamed up with—or more often, butted heads with—just about everyone. From some of the most classic heroes in comics to some of the biggest horror movie icons, to other Sam Raimi creations and even other characters Bruce Campbell has played.

Narrowing down the most memorable crossovers can be difficult, of course. But the best of them tend to be the ones that actually challenge and sometimes even question Ash as a character. They’re not just about fighting someone he’s never fought before. One of the most appealing things about Ash is that you can put him in just about any situation.

He’s always going to be Ash. He’s always going to think he’s the toughest, even the smartest guy in the room, he’s always going to have that ego trip that will leave every character around him rolling their eyes. He’s always going to sarcastically comment on what he sees. These crossovers, if anything, prove what a successful character he is by showing how well he can be placed into virtually any scenario.

Having said that, most of the following crossovers are absolutely big, dumb fun. And a few of them are genuinely exciting, innovative takes on both the character and the mythology… that also happen to be big, dumb fun.


Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness

OK, so Ash finds himself in the Marvel Universe, which is a great concept in and of itself. But it’s not the main Marvel Universe, as it turns out, it’s the Marvel Zombies Universe. Created by Mark Millar in the pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four, this is a world ravaged by a zombie plague that affected its superheroes, causing them to cannibalize one another. This is obviously a Marvel timeline that’s much more Ash’s speed and so he attempts to help the survivors with the aid of the classic chainsaw/boomstick combo.

This miniseries features several insane, delightful moments like Ash fighting an undead Howard the Duck, unsuccessfully hitting on Dazzler, using the Necronomicon to purposefully raise an army of Deadites to combat the unending hordes of hungry dead heroes, and Dr. Doom opening the doors of his castle as a safe haven to survivors, only for Ash to realize that this safe haven excludes the sick or the elderly.


Darkman vs. Army of Darkness

The idea of putting Darkman and Ash together is all kinds of genius. First and foremost, they’re obviously two Sam Raimi creations—both of them the heroes of cinematic trilogies, even—but they’re also polar opposite characters. Darkman is obviously dark. He was affected by his trauma in a serious way, defined by it, whereas Ash has spent his entire life avoiding his trauma.

The crossover also sees Peyton Westlake’s long-lost love Julie (who he’s been spying on since the event of Darkman III) being turned into a Deadite, referred to by other Deadites as “The Queen of Darkness.” As death isn’t quite as permanent in the Evil Dead universe, the comic takes advantage of this to bring back Darkman franchise villain, Durant.


Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: Nightmare Warriors

The second Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash crossover miniseries deserves a mention of its own because of how genuinely insane it is. Whereas the first comic was a sincere combination of the three characters, based off of the actual treatment for the film had it been able to move forward, Nightmare Warriors is entirely its own beast. The story not only unites Ash with nearly every survivor of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series, but involves Freddy becoming a cosmic entity with unlimited power and Jason returning to human form with luxurious hair as a reward for leading a Deadite invasion on Washington, DC.

Baby Jacob from Dream Child and Baby Stephanie from Jason Goes to Hell (both now teenagers) hook up, and Freddy’s Dead protagonist Maggie, as well as Stephanie, wind up joining their respective family businesses and going evil to the point of basically being sexy female versions of Freddy and Jason. It’s not better than the first miniseries by any stretch, but it’s so ungodly bizarre that it absolutely warrants a look.


Army of Darkness: Ash vs. The Classic Monsters

Imagine The Monster Squad with one manchild instead of a group of children. That’s the beauty of Ash vs. The Classic Monsters. As a fan of all of these characters, especially one who considers the modern icons as a part of a longer legacy dating back to the Universal days, it’s great to see Ash interact with these old-school monsters.

Much like The Monster Squad, Dracula serves as the primarily villain for this storyline. Werewolves, mummies, vampires and Frankenstein’s Monster all turn in appearances as well. On top of that, Evil Ash makes a return appearance, teaming up with Dracula and the others to try and take Ash down. It weaves Evil Dead into so many other landscape horror mythologies in a neat way.


Army of Darkness/Xena: Warrior Princess: Why Not?

This crossover manages to top Darkman vs. Army of Darkness by not only having two Sam Raimi helmed properties collide, but throwing two Bruce Campbell characters into the mix as well. Campbell, of course, played Autoclys on the show and you better believe the four-issue comic series has a field day with that. The plot, however, is the real kicker here as it might be the strangest set-up of any of the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness crossovers.

The Wise Man from Army of Darkness flings himself into the present to warn Ash that one of the Mini-Ashes from the windmill sequence of that film got ahold of the Necronomicon and transported himself into the distant past of Xena where he has used Ash’s crafty modern engineering skills for evil, creating all kinds of ridiculous weapons. The crossover was so successful that it spawned two sequels, the most recent of which was released in 2016.


Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator

Evil Dead and Re-Animator are perfectly matched for a crossover. They’re both cult classic franchises of similar stature. They’re also both extremely similar franchises as well, both in terms of tone and style as well as the tongue-in-cheek, often outrageous amounts of gore. Seeing Combs’ interpretation of Herbert West, as well as Ash as we know him and love him interacting is awesome. They’re two completely different characters in just about every way.

The neat thing that this crossover does, though, is that it uses West and Re-Animator to introduce the larger H.P. Lovecraft mythology as well. It’s a nice nod, because the name of the Necronomicon hails from Lovecraft’s stories, so West seeking the book to unlock bigger mysteries of life and death is perfectly fitting. It’s super cheesy, but in a way that feels completely appropriate and delightful.


Army of Darkness vs. Hack/Slash

Hack/Slash is a wonderful comic so deep-rooted in ‘80s horror lore that it has crossed over with the likes of Child’s Play, Vampirella, Re-Animator and Hatchet. But when it comes to Ash, Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad are butting heads with another likeminded hero. The fact that Cassie is young and attractive and Ash is Ash makes for a great personality clash, because she is exactly the kind of person who would not put up with any of his obnoxious flirtation or advances.

But even despite that, they’re incredibly similar characters. Both of them have alienated themselves from their trauma, put up an isolationist wall, even though they deal with their lack of dealing with their problems in very separate ways. The crossover is great because it’s fun and really well-paced, but it also genuinely reveals things about both characters by pitting them against one another. Definitely one of the best.


Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash

This is the big one. Easily the most famous Evil Dead crossover, it has the added bonus of at least at one point being considered as a feature film. Obviously it didn’t pan out, but we’ve still got the crossover based on Jeff Katz’ treatment for what the film could have been. It’s Freddy, Jason and Ash as we know them and love them. It’s a direct sequel to Freddy vs. Jason. It deals, like “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” with Ash being older than the last time we saw him.

On top of that, though, it also gives fans the snowy Friday the 13th they’ve always wanted to see, as the comic is set at Crystal Lake in the dead of winter. In fact, it’s set around the Christmas season, which makes for a few great gags and even gives the whole thing a bigger “event” kind of feel. There’s also a great climactic showdown between the three title characters on the icy lake.


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Watching A Quiet Place’s John Krasinski Get Scared by Freddy on Ellen Will Brighten Your Day

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I was just researching the new Platinum Dunes horror-thriller A Quiet Place and stumbled across this video. It features the film’s writer-director and star John Krasinski getting scared by a man dressed as Freddy Krueger on “Ellen.”

It’s as much fun as it sounds, and I’m sure it will make your day. It sure as hell just brightened mine.

Give it a watch below, and then let us know what you think!

John Krasinski directs the film, which will be the opening night entry at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, TX. Emily Blunt stars alongside Krasinski, Noah Jupe, and Millicent Simmonds.

A Quiet Place will then open wide on April 6.

Synopsis:
In the modern horror thriller A Quiet Place, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threatens their survival. If they hear you, they hunt you.

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