Exclusive Interview: Writer/Director Michael Gallagher Talks Smiley, Sequel Plans and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive Interview: Writer/Director Michael Gallagher Talks Smiley, Sequel Plans and More

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This week Michael Gallagher’s indie urban legend slasher Smiley arrives on DVD via Arc Entertainment. Gallagher’s film explores the dangers of Internet chatting through a serial killer that can be summoned if given the proper command (“I did it for the lulz”).

Smiley is a bit of Candyman meets Bloody Mary meets Hackers (minus Matthew Lillard’s sweet braids of course); and Dread Central recently hopped on the phone with Gallagher to talk about what inspired the story, his experiences working with both his younger stars as well as the more seasoned actors including Roger Bart, Keith David and Liza Weil, and whether or not Smiley will strike fear into computers once again in a sequel.

Dread Central: It’s funny to me just how much technology has changed society in the last ten years; it’s even something you can see when watching movies. Was that something that resonated with you while working on the story of Smiley?

Michael Gallagher: It was; 20-somethings now have a hard time remembering a time when there wasn’t HD video online. Just thinking about that makes me a little bit sad in some ways (laughs). But I think every generation acclimates to technology differently, and this generation has been brought up on the Internet and existing in this ‘unreal’ space rather than in reality, which is something we wanted to explore in this.

So we built our idea around the launch of these websites that allow you to video chat anonymously with strangers on the Internet, like ChatRoulette. When you think about it, ChatRoulette is really creepy, and it’s sort of unreal just how willing people are to put themselves out there like that in front of strangers. It’s so dangerous, especially with kids, and so we saw that and thought it would be the perfect launching pad for a new urban legend. Kind of like a digital Bloody Mary; it’s a new way to summon evil.

Dread Central: The design of your killer is really striking; can you talk about that process and what inspired his look?

Michael Gallagher: Because we were a microbudget movie, we knew it was going to be hard to come up with something that would be memorable so it was something we really had to put a lot of thought into. My first thought was that our killer wouldn’t be human, but because of our budget we had to forget that idea. Originally in the script he was just a guy with a stocking over his face with a smiley face sort of painted on, which was kind of creepy but just wasn’t scary enough. Then I thought of a guy who stitched an emoticon into his own face and thought, “Wow, that’s really creepy.” That’s where the idea began.

All of the credit really should go to our make-up team; they were the ones who were able to nail that really creepy vibe we wanted and create something truly memorable. Plus we did all our gags in-camera so they really worked hard on this movie to get everything to work just right.

Dread Central: You had a lot of newer actors in Smiley but also a few ‘veterans’ I always enjoy like Roger (Bart), Keith (David) and Liza (Weil)- how was it collaborating with both groups of performers on this?

Michael Gallagher: It was great; I think because this was my first feature, I kind of had low expectations going in just because I knew that it was going to be challenging, but my casting director came in and really put together a fantastic cast for this. Both Roger and Liza brought so much to this movie, too; they really added so much to those roles. Keith, too; it was a blast having him in Smiley as the cop who doesn’t believe anyone (laughs).

Dread Central: Are you thinking about a Smiley sequel at all?

Michael Gallagher: I would love to do a sequel, especially considering the ideas we were able to work with in this really lend themselves to more stories. With Smiley what I wanted to do was make a film that was smart and appealed to young teens; I don’t think there are enough movies for that demographic, especially females. That being said, if I did get to make a sequel to Smiley, I would definitely skewer it in a darker direction for the horror fans out there. Because the Internet has become such a part of our identities now, I think there are so many fascinating themes out there about the evils online and the awful nature of humans when they are left to their own devices and hiding behind anonymity that could be explored.

But since Smiley has been such a huge part of my life for such a long time now, because we did the theatrical ourselves and all the marketing, I think I want to get back to comedy for a while and then come back to this world. I guess I just need a break from this guy (laughs), but I would definitely love to make another one if we get the opportunity.

Exclusive Interview: Writer/Director Michael Gallagher Talks Smiley, Sequel Plans and More

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?

Wanna See Something REALLY Scary? Gruesome Demonic Possession Video

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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.

While The Blair Witch Project, released in 1999, didn’t invent the found footage subgenre of horror, it certainly popularized the concept, making it a common trope throughout the 2010s. The idea of finding misplaced film or video that reveals a terrifying truth is instantly compelling, and films like The Ring and Sinister have taken this concept outside of the found-footage arena, promoting the concept of cursed media.

One of the main goals of the found-footage presentation is to blur the line between fiction and reality. From this perspective, it’s as though a filmmaker is acting as an objective third party, offering a “discovery” without validating its authenticity. And while there are indeed real-life examples of lost media revealing compelling or harrowing secrets (surveillance footage, lost cameras, etc.) has anything ever been unearthed that compares to the terror induced by movies like Blair Witch.

Perhaps.

The Paranormal Scholar is a YouTube channel dedicated to scientific, academic explorations of supposed real-life supernatural phenomenon. While the majority of their video essays end by debunking popular urban legends and modern creepypastas, they recently explored a potentially legitimate reel of found film—and it’s utterly horrifying.

Wanna see something REALLY scary?

According to The Paranormal Scholar, the footage below was discovered in the attic of a newly purchased home in Iowa around 1973. Unfortunately, no other significant details are known—which is convenient if it’s a hoax. The video looks almost too good to be real (meaning it’s genuinely disturbing) but the fact that it can’t be immediately debunked is instantly unnerving.

The subject of this supposedly found footage is one many horror fans find intriguing: Demonic possession. Give it a spin and let us know what you think in the Comments section. Do you know anything about this mysterious footage? Do you think it’s real or a clever fake? Let the debate begin!

Warning: Mature Content!

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

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Class of 1999 Graduates to Blu-Ray in 2018

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Coming to blu-ray in early 2018 will be Class of 1999, which was originally released in 1990 and designed to be an unofficial sci-fi sequel to 1982’s Class of 1984, which itself received a special edition blu-ray in 2015. Confused yet?

In 1982, writer-director Mark L. Lester made Class of 1984, a slightly futuristic action thriller about teachers contending with teenage gangs in an inner-city high school. Lester would go on to grace us with Commando and Firestarter before returning to the premise in 1990 to give us the very futuristic Class of 1999. This time the action takes place near the turn of the millennium when gang violence overruns inner-city high schools to the point that the government steps in and replaces the teachers with reprogrammed military-grade battle androids. The super soldier cyborg faculty revert to their militaristic ways, naturally, and rack up quite a body count as they declare war on the student body leading to teenage gangs putting aside their difference to lead an anti-robot uprising in the halls of the school.

The time is the future, and youth gang violence is so high that the areas around some schools have become “free fire zones” into which not even the police will venture. When Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell), the principal of Kennedy High School, decides to take his school back from the gangs, robotics specialist Dr. Robert Forrest (Stacy Keach) provides “tactical education units.” These human-like androids have been programmed to teach and are supplied with weapons to handle discipline problems. These kids will get a lesson in staying alive!

Boasting a screenplay by Full Moon stalwart C. Courtney Joyner and a cast including the likes of Stacy Keach, Pam Grier, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, and Traci Lind; Class of 1999 and its unique Stand and Deliver meets The Warriors meets The Terminator premise has garnered a loyal cult following over the years. We won’t mention the sequel. Forget I even brought it up. Sequel? What sequel?

Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced Class of 1999 will be the next title getting a blu-ray release as part of their Vestron Collector’s Series in the first semester of 2018 with a fully loaded edition guaranteed to please fans and those that have yet to be educated on this enjoyable early Ninties b-movie extravaganza.

Disc extras will include:

Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Mark L. Lester
Interviews with Director/Producer Mark L. Lester and Co-Producer Eugene Mazzola
Interview with Screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner
Interviews with Special Effects Creators Eric Allard and Rick Stratton
Interview with Director of Photography Mark Irwin
Trailer & TV Spot
Still Gallery
Video Promo
Optional English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles for the main feature

Class of 1999 graduates to blu-ray on January 30th.

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Buy Stuff From Eibon Press, Get More Stuff For Free

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Eibon Press have announced that they’re starting Black Friday a day early and will be running their specials for almost a week, through November 28th. This year, they’re doing something a little different, a little more interesting. Rather than reduce prices on their inventory, they’re doing a deal where depending on how much you buy from their store, you’ll get a certain amount of free swag in addition to your order.

The first tier sees anyone who makes a purchase getting two double-sided mini-posters featuring art from their upcoming Bottomfeeder and Maniac and The New York Ripper series. The second tier sees anyone who spends at least $30 getting a free copy of their VHS Comics titles Laserblast plus the mini-posters. The final tier is for those who spend $50 and more and that will net the mini-posters, the #1 issue of Laserblast, and a free copy of Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell #2.

Lastly, five random people will receive an extra bonus gift, which they won’t reveal but promise that, “…you’ll love it!

All order cans be placed via Eibon Press.

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