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Meg Foster Bewitches Us With Talk on The Lords of Salem

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Meg Foster Bewitches Us With Talk on The Lords of SalemLegendary actress Meg Foster plays Margaret Morgan in the new Rob Zombie film, The Lords of Salem, which hits theaters on April 19. Foster was kind enough to sit down with Dread Central and talk about her role, the film and working with Rob Zombie.

Foster began by filling us in on just what we can expect when seeing The Lords of Salem. “It’s about Heidi, mostly,” Foster said, referring to Heidi Hawthorne, the lead character played by Sheri Moon Zombie, “and her co-workers, played by Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ken Foree, who are DJs at a radio station in Salem, Massachusetts. Heidi receives a record which is on vinyl, and it’s strange and it has, in my opinion, absolutely fabulous music. It’s this haunting tune which sort of casts a spell on some people. Heidi has stopped doing drugs or alcohol and she’s dealing with that, and the music on this record, when she plays it, affects her. And one comes to find out that there was a coven of witches in 1692 that were burned at the stake by a certain magistrate of Salem and there was a curse that was put on the ancestors of the people who perpetrated this. I play Margaret Morgan, a witch who’s the head of the coven that was burned.”

Foster was absolutely blown away by the completed product that The Lords of Salem became but always knew she was helping create something special by the work and detail that went into making it. “I feel that the film is really wonderful,” Foster said. “I saw it at Sitges in Spain even though I normally don’t see films that I’ve done. I’m in the 1692 part of the film and recur throughout in bits and pieces as we are haunting Heidi. [The film] has so many layers. It’s brilliantly shot by Brandon Trost, and the art direction is by Jennifer Spence for the witches in 1692. And everything, of course, is overseen and chosen by Rob Zombie. What the art department created for the witches in 1692 was really quite extraordinary. The artistry that went into it and the environment that was created by the makeup and the costumes was really such a gift.”

Foster continued, speaking on the mysterious aspects of The Lords of Salem as well as the depth of the movie. “The film is about what happens to Heidi,” Foster said. “You follow her, but one doesn’t really know if this is real. Is she really being haunted? Is it the result of stopping the drugs? Is it her mind? Is it a fantasy? There are some other people who live in the building where she lives who get involved also. It’s really about so many things. As a viewer I wasn’t sure which way to turn; every character spoke to me, which I thought was brilliant. The visuals are extraordinary. There’s this wonderful 1970’s feel about everything. And being from New England (they did their exteriors in Salem), I loved it. I was very personally reminded of when I grew up in the 1950’s. And for the 1692 witches, Jennifer Spence created this incredible hovel out in the wilderness and it was so beautiful. There were chickens and birds that came and made nests. It was just extraordinary.”

The Lords of Salem - Meg Foster

Foster feels that Zombie seriously delivers with The Lords of Salem, getting into the psyche of the audience. “People will have their own particular experiences,” Foster said. “It’s an amazing vision that Rob has given us, and it’s a film I want to see again and again. I went so many places, personally, as an audience member, which is what I love to have happen to me. I followed Heidi into her depths. And the film moves at a very haunting pace. While I was watching it, I just kept feeling heavier and heavier and more foreboding. I was very uncomfortable. I was so moved. It’s an amazing tale. One doesn’t know…are they witnessing a nightmare, are they witnessing the demise of someone…and it’s so beautiful. I got all these sensory feelings, and I really felt like I was entering a labyrinth where I encountered each character and had an experience with each of them, but I followed Heidi. I followed Sheri Moon because I think all of us, in our lives, have things occur and they’re very personal. It doesn’t matter if you’re a child and a friend is cruel to you or if there’s prejudice going on or if it’s a breakup of a marriage. One can get lost. And so Heidi’s descent could have manifested itself in me in many ways. It took me to places where I began remembering my first nightmares. It’s quite surreal in a very beautiful way.”

One aspect The Lords of Salem that was particularly powerful for Foster was the relationship between the lead character, Heidi, and Whitey, played by Jeff Daniel Phillips. “They have the most wonderful relationship,” Foster said. “In the midst of all this confusion and pain for her, he’s a friend. He’s so tender with her and she’s having such a difficult time. It’s really like he’s holding her hand through all the hauntings and confusion and her trying to figure out what’s happened to her, or what’s happening to her…there’s this ally and that relationship was lovely.”

And Foster could not say enough good things about Rob Zombie as a director and a person. “I’ve never worked with someone so generous,” Foster said. “He holds space for his actors. It was an absolute gift to work with him. I worked with the coven witches but we didn’t have a lot of dialogue. My presence was very different. But working with Rob Zombie was…I felt so safe and it is due to his interior goodness and generosity. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and I don’t know if it had to do with playing the witch; it certainly had to do with Mr. Zombie. I adore his films. Rob’s so brilliant. The Devil’s Rejects is one of my favorite films. My favorite horror film, if you can call it a horror film. Rob incorporates so much into the characters of the film and how he casts it. You can say you’re watching a horror film, but they’re like novels. They’re epics. They’re epics of characters. They’re so specific, the characters he created and the actors he’s chosen to embody them so beautifully. He is gifted in that way. He’s gifted to the sensibility of mankind and the frailty and the strengths and the horrors and the vulnerabilities and the violence; it all mixes into one. Some horror films are horror films, and others aren’t. The Lords of Salem is a romance, in my opinion, as an audience member watching it. There’s the romance, there’s deception and some evil.”

The Lords of Salem - Meg Foster

Foster spoke on the effects and makeup used in the film. “I wore a wig and my body was painted,” Foster said. “We all had dirt put on us, and at one point I had my body painted as if it was burned. But there are some special effects that go into the whole of the film that are really quite extraordinary.”

Foster was absolutely impressed by the cast, crew and entire experience of creating The Lords of Salem. “There are wonderful, wonderful actors in it,” Foster said. “In my part, it was really just us in the coven and Sheri, but I got to know a few of the actors I didn’t know before. And Rob Zombie… he writes, he directs, he produces, he’s an incredible musician. And he has such a respect for everyone’s input. It was really a gift to be able to work with him.”

As for The Lords of Salem, Foster says, “It’s something to see again and again. It’s haunting and beautiful.”

The Lords of Salem opens in theaters on April 19.

Synopsis
Heidi, a blonde rock chick, DJs at a local radio station and, together with the two Hermans (Whitey and Munster), forms part of the “Big H Radio Team”. A mysterious wooden box containing a vinyl record arrives for Heidi, “a gift from the Lords”. She assumes it’s a rock band on a mission to spread their word. As Heidi and Whitey play the Lords’ record, it starts to play backwards, and Heidi experiences a flashback to a past trauma. Later Whitey plays the Lords’ record, dubbing them the Lords of Salem, and to his surprise, the record plays normally and is a massive hit with listeners. The arrival of another wooden box from the Lords presents the Big H Team with free tickets, posters and records to host a gig in Salem. Soon Heidi and her cohorts find that the gig is far from the rock spectacle they’re expecting: The original Lords of Salem are returning, and they’re out for BLOOD.

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Editorials

Thanksgiving Flesh Feast: A Cannibal Holocaust Retrospective

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“Why ban films? If you don’t want to go watch something, don’t go. Don’t spend your money to watch it. To me it’s against your civil liberties. Censorship is against your human rights. It just takes a critic to exaggerate and say the film is over the top, it’s gruesome and full of terrible violence.” Words from legendary cinematographer Roberto Forges Davanzati on the special edition Blu-Ray of Cannibal Holocaust.

As you celebrate this holiday of stuffing your face full of delicious gooey goodies and cooked meats, let us look back at a feast for the ages that was buried in lawsuits, censorship, exploitation and even jail time for its creator. Cannibal Holocaust, one of the most infamous video nasties of all time, is not only one of the most gruesome and horrifying collection of images put to celluloid but also, in its own way, one of the most beautiful. Often times it’s notoriety as a horrid exploitation film overshadows the artistry that crafted it and the true message behind it.

First off, let’s look at the fact that this is truly the first found footage film. Its narrative is about four young documentarians who set out into the Amazon into an area dubbed “The Green Inferno” to find and document several primitive tribes of cannibals. While this narrative is the backbone of the movie opening up the film, this footage is not shown until the latter half. Professor Harold Munroe is assigned by the television studio that employed the documentarians to go into the Green Inferno himself to see if he can unravel the mystery of the youth’s disappearance or obtain the footage they filmed. Today we have found footage movies left and right but it’s rare we get a movie within a movie in this style.

Davanzati has talked about his different shooting styles for the time on the Blu-Ray for the film. Munroe’s section of the film was shot on 35MM film while the “found footage” shot by the documentarians is shot on 16MM film, giving a much grainier and dirty look to their footage. Not only that, but since the four youths within the film at all times had two 16MM cameras operating, Davanzati would often film the two camera men within the film and then switch around showing the point of view of each camera man within the found footage, which he states helped edit the movie as they shot it. The artistic decision to have two narratives wrap around each other like this are perfect antithesis to each other as Munroe’s footage shows a completely opposite depiction of the cannibals compared to the documentarian’s footage. This style informed a generation and still does, but has never been stylistically approached the same way.

Some may argue that regardless of the artistic vision and groundbreaking filmmaking style of both Davanzati and director Ruggero Deodato that it doesn’t matter, because what good is beautiful footage of despicable trash? How dare they film something so atrocious? Actor Robert Kerman can maybe answer that in a quote from an interview on the Cannibal Holocaust Blu-Ray. “What’s the difference between Cannibal Holocaust and Schindler’s List? Or the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan?” The world is full of horrible atrocious things and sometimes we don’t like to acknowledge them. To simply not acknowledge them would seem an injustice to the victims. In this case, what may offend might be the same reason audiences were offended about the Universal Monsters: the fact that perhaps we are the villains. Perhaps those victimized within Cannibal Holocaust are the titular cannibals.

Deodato opens the film with a reporter speaking about how far the world has come and how advanced we are as a civilization, that it is strange that indigenous tribes still exist in the jungles of the Green Inferno. All the while, during this news report on the savagery of those tribes, Deodato cleverly shows us the jungles of the modern world as the imagery put to this news cast foreshadows the film’s true intentions. It would be easy to assume the “Holocaust” in Cannibal Holocaust refers to the humans devoured by cannibals, when in reality, the holocaust is the devastation inflicted upon the cannibal tribes by the so-called “normal” humans. Deodato cleverly misleads the viewer showing off all-American kids as the documentarians. He quickly follows the opening with a scene of the Yacumo tribe devouring a human body as the Colombian soldiers gun them down and capture one of their tribe. It’s a brutal scene that depicts the Yacumo as monsters.

As Professor Munroe ventures into the Green Inferno with his Yacumo captive and guide, Chaco, it is discovered that the Yacumo tribe itself has had some hardship and pain. They are the more peaceful of the tribes who simply thrive and survive. Their Yacumo captive who was found devouring a human was doing so as part of a ceremonial practice to ward off evil spirits. Befriending the tribe, they venture deeper to find the two warring tribes that scare even the Yacumo: the Yanomamo (Tree People) and the Shamatari (Swamp People). While the Shamatari are depicted throughout as vile and dangerous, the Yamamomo befriend the professor and Chaco due to the pair aiding them against the former tribe.

Munroe and the Yanomamo friendship gives way to a very beautiful scene in the movie. Munroe disrobes himself completely and swims in the river naked with a group of Yanomamo women. There is nothing sexual about the scene, only curiosity and playful ignorant bliss. This sense of peace is elated by the score of Riz Ortolani, which permeates the entire film with melancholy melodies and themes of religious experiences. This scene in particular is boosted amazingly by his score.

Munroe’s journey is the audience’s point of view where we watch in horror and wonder at what these “cannibals” are capable of but, upon venturing further for ourselves with respect towards the tribes, we find perhaps there is more to these people than monstrosities. There are definitely horrible things the Yacumo and the Yamamomo commit, but our eyes are slightly opened as to why.

Enter the found footage aspect of the film, which is the core of Deodato’s message. The young documentarians headed by Alan are the true villains of the piece. While the indigenous peoples within idolize their gods and ways, this crew of documentarians only idolize the gods of entertainment and visceral mind rape. What’s worse is the discovery of the studio behind them condoning their efforts in order to get people to watch. The found footage approach descends into madness as Alan and his crew are responsible for the Yacumo’s problems that Munroe discovered when he arrived. We see them burning down the village and even having sex on the ashes of their homes in a horrifying shot that pans out to show the Yacumo watching in sorrow as they are huddled by the river for warmth. As the television executives watch this footage unfold it is stated, “The more you rape their senses, the happier they are.” It’s disgusting.

The footage goes on and gets progressively worse as Alan and his crew commit horrible acts of rape and violence that parallels the natives actions. But while the natives at least have a misguided sense of purpose, there is none for the documentarians. They set up a girl on a spike after they rape her just to have something visceral to film. “Watch it Alan, I’m shooting.” Alan has a smile on his face from the atrocity he’s committed, their excitement paralleled by Ortolani’s score. This scene plays on the typical thought of things we don’t understand being weird. As the filmmakers have no concept of what makes the Yanomamo tick or of their religious rites, they just create something ghastly. Because their audience will not understand it, they lump it in with their actual spiritual and cultural beliefs, making it all seem bereft of rhyme or reason, confusing audiences just to entertain.

“Keep rolling, we’re gonna get an Oscar for this!” The final act of found footage is more intense and more satisfying than any you can see. As one of the cameramen dies, they keep filming, that prize in their eyes with the camera lens as a separation from what’s before them. Their friend is no longer a person but a spectacle to be shot as he’s torn limb from limb and prepared to be eaten by the cannibals for their transgression. Who is worse, those that created the situation or those simply reacting to it? The Yanomamo stand triumphant over the interloper and, as stated in the beginning of the film, they eat him ceremonially in order to keep out the evil spirits of the white man. Each is taken down and each filmed. Debts paid in blood to the cannibals and
the white man’s gods of entertainment. The found footage has all been viewed as Munroe and the rest of the executives walk off, “I wonder who the real cannibals are?” 

True, there are very vile things depicted in this film. Rape, animal cruelty, extreme violence. It is definitely not for the squeamish. I, myself, cannot stand the animal violence as it shouldn’t be in the film and is lingered on for far too long. However, each scene of extremism beyond those shots serves a purpose in the film, juxtaposing the actions of the protagonists and antagonists, often times blurring the lines of those roles.

Watch this film with an open mind and a filmmaker’s thought process. You’ll see the amazing direction accompanied by brilliant and, at the time, never-before-seen cinematography. The score elevates the film with its beauty against the ugliness of the visuals. While the actions of many of the characters are disgusting, you have to admit the level of excellence each actor gives in their portrayal of these characters, especially the tribes.

We must not forget in these dark times not to judge the cultures of others before we truly understand them as people.

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I Already Have a Dog But Now I Want a Baby Dinosaur

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The first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World, is rumored to be attached to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Since that film is going to be coming out in less than a month, it’s no surprise that the marketing campaign for the dino-filled trailer is already starting and today it kicks off with a six-second teaser that is as adorable as you can get!

In the teaser, Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady is petting a baby velociraptor, which coos and twitters in the cutest of fashions. Is there anything else going on? Nah. Does something else need to happen? Nope. The movie already has me sold.

Directed by J.A. Bayona (When a Monster Calls), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also stars Bryce Dallas Howard, B.D. Wong, and Toby Jones. However, the biggest and most important star of the film will be the return of Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, who is, in my humble opinion, the best character in the franchise, besting even the T-rex that seemingly cannot die.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will evolve into theaters on June 22, 2018.

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John Landis’ Rejected Pitch for American Werewolf 2 Was Brilliant

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If you’re anything like us then you consider writer-director John Landis’ horror-comedy An American Werewolf in London to be one of the best f*cking movies of all-time.

Horror (or comedy), or not.

But did you know that Landis was asked back in 1991 to make a sequel to his original classic? Neither did I. But he was, and his pitch for the sequel was amazing.

“I was asked to do a sequel by PolyGram in 1991,” Landis told Digital Spy. “I entertained the idea for a little bit and then came up with something that I liked and wrote a first draft of the script.

“The movie was about the girl that the boys talk about at the beginning of the movie, Debbie Klein. She gets a job in London as a literary agent and while she’s there, starts privately investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Jack and David.

“The conceit was that during the time in the first film where Jenny goes to work and David is pacing around the apartment, he actually wrote Debbie Klein a letter. It was all to do with this big secret that David had never told Jack that he had a thing with her.

“She tracks down Dr. Hirsch, who tells her that Alex now lives in Paris because she was so traumatized by what happened. She went back to the Slaughtered Lamb and everyone is still there! I think the only changes were a portrait of Charles and Diana where the five-pointed star used to be and darts arcade game instead of a board.

“It’s then when she speaks to Sgt McManus, the cop from the first movie who didn’t die, that she finds out that Jenny is still in London. She calls her and leaves an answer phone message, which we then reveal is being listened to by the skeletal corpses of Jack and David, watching TV in Alex’s apartment!

“The big surprise at the end was that Alex was the werewolf. It was pretty wild. The script had everybody in it from the first movie – including all the dead people!”

But then Landis adds:

“I gave the script to Michael Kuhn and he loathed it! He absolutely hated it and was actually pretty insulting about it. Clearly, he would have hated the script for the first movie because, like that, it was funny and scary – and if anything, a little wackier.”

Is it just me or does this sound like a perfect sequel to An American Werewolf in London? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think below!

Synopsis:

David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), two American college students, are backpacking through Britain when a large wolf attacks them. David survives with a bite, but Jack is brutally killed. As David heals in the hospital, he’s plagued by violent nightmares of his mutilated friend, who warns David that he is becoming a werewolf. When David discovers the horrible truth, he contemplates committing suicide before the next full moon causes him to transform from man to murderous beast.

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