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Exclusive Event Report: Dread Central Hosts a Private Screening of MoniKa

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Exclusive Event Report: Dread Central Hosts a Private Screening of MoniKaHeld Thursday, May 2nd, in Hollywood, CA, the Dread Central co-sponsored private industry screening of Steven R. Monroe’s Monika was a resounding success. Read on for photos from the carpet and a few comments from star and co-executive producer Cerina Vincent.

In attendance at the event held at The Lot/Audio Head (in addition to the free-flowing wine from Sarzotti Vineyard) were Vincent (Cabin Fever) and writer/director/producer Monroe as well as MoniKa co-stars Jason Wiles (“Third Watch”) and Daytime Emmy nominee and winner Jeff Branson (“Guiding Light,” I Spit on Your Grave) and the film’s executive producer Aaron Hofmann. Other industry appearances included Shaun Menzie (The Victorville Massacre), Bill Millsap (Jurassic Block), Barbara Nedeljakova (Hostel, Isle of Dogs), Carlee Baker (The Woman), Ryan Dillon (Littlerock) and producer Clinton H. Wallace (Blue Dream).

Prior to the screening and subsequent enthusiastic response to the stylized revenge/thriller (which is slated for a fall 2013 release and also stars Andrew Howard, Elisa Donovan, C. Thomas Howell, Chad Linberg and Lew Temple), we chatted with Vincent on the carpet regarding her experience with MoniKa.

“She’s a pretty bad-ass character and very different than anything I’ve played before, so that was a blast and a challenge at the same time,” Vincent stated of the titular blonde, gun-toting character which she portrays. “MoniKa’s a tough chick,” she continued, “and she keeps her emotions inside. She’s stoic and laser-focused on her mission: to get revenge on the bad guys. She’s passionate, too, but not in an emotional way. She’s controlled, calculated, and although she’s on a mission for revenge, she’s at peace with her reality. This is so opposite than who I am as a person. I’m a huge romantic. I’m incredibly sensitive and emotional. I want to cry at everything. Not in a crazy way, but in an ‘everything tugs on my heartstrings’ kind of way.”

“So it was a challenge to maintain that stoic sensibility,” Vincent mused. “There were moments where I felt MoniKa would be rather emotional, but Steven would cut and remind me that MoniKa doesn’t cry. Cerina cries. Monika is a bad-ass. So it was a challenge, but I really enjoyed it and am so grateful for the role.”

Of her decidedly different look in the film, “Audiences can expect to not recognize me,” she stated with a laugh. “I’m platinum blonde in it! And it’s not a wig! It was sixteen hours of straight bleach. It was pretty crazy. And yes! There is lots of gun-play in the film, and it was so much fun. Steven made me go through some serious gun training for months before the shoot so that I was comfortable, and I got more than comfortable. I ended up really growing to love shooting. Like my character, I grew up in the desert in Nevada. Not to get political, but we’re a huge Democratic family, but my dad does have a ton of guns, and I think he’s finally happy that I love to shoot [them]. I didn’t dig it as much as a little girl, but after playing the role of Monika, I can honestly say I really enjoy it.”

While Vincent has worked three times with Monroe previously as an actress (in 2005’s It Waits, 2006’s Sasquatch Mountain, and 2008’s Complacent), MoniKa was her first foray as a co-executive producer.

”It was very interesting,” she reflected of that experience. “The tough part is the huge sense of responsibility you have to make sure that the film a success. You want your investors happy, the cast to be happy, and the fans to be happy. I may not sleep soundly until I know all three of those things have been accomplished! The beauty of being a producer on this, though, was seeing the art come to life. Steven sent me this script about eight years ago, and being a part of taking it from just words on a page to being on set with one hundred people having good, fun work was a great feeling. I’m grateful for the experience, and I want to do more, learn more, and create more.”

As for distribution plans, “All of the details are getting finalized now, but audiences can expect to get it this fall!” stated Vincent. “I’m excited for the world to see it. It’s a really fun movie. Great characters. Kind of a mind-trip. It’s stylized and cool, and all of the actors are phenomenal in it! Fans will recognize some of their genre favorites. Jason Wiles rocks it as the lead; Jeff Branson, who was just nominated for an Emmy, is intense and totally killed it. Andrew Howard, C. Thomas Howell, and Lew Temple all bring some comedy with their quirky characters. Everyone is so great. And one of my best friends (who plays my best friend), Elisa Donovan, who is famous for her comedy, is stellar, edgy, and sexy as hell. And Monroe’s writing and directing is just fabulous. It’s a fun film. It’s eerie, sexy, funny, bloody, action-packed, and keeps you guessing. I think fans are really gonna dig it.”

Regarding what’s next for the actress in the horror genre, “I’ve got a few things cooking that I’m really excited about,” Vincent told us. “I’ve been working with a group of dear friends and great filmmakers, and we are writing, producing, and shooting short films. We have one horror picture that will be out this Halloween and most likely be at some fun genre film festivals. It’s called Skypemare. I star in it along with two of my dear friends, Ryan Dillon and Annika Marks, and it’s directed by another dear friend, the very talented John Fitzpatrick. We have a great team in place, and we are all genuine friends. I’m actually writing a horror/thriller feature for us to shoot this summer. Fingers crossed that all goes as planned. There will be more on Skypemare soon. I think fans are going to love it!”

Dread Central thanks Hell’s Belles filmmaker Christian Ackerman for shooting the event (with additional photo credit going to Clinton H. Wallace/Photomundo International).

Synopsis
The film is a violent, edgy ride focusing on the forlorn Reagan Tyler, a man who is troubled by visions and premonitions that ultimately lead him to Las Vegas. It’s there that Reagan meets the beautiful and mysterious Monika, a young woman who turns out to have been killed the night before he even met her. Reagan is then forced to put the puzzle together of what happened, how she is still present, and help Monika with her revenge on the killers of her younger sister.

Steven R. Monroe’s MoniKa

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Creep 2 Starring Mark Duplass Hits Netflix This December

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Just the other day we shared with you guys an exclusive interview with Partick Brice, the director of the Mark Duplass-starring found footage flicks Creep and Creep 2.

Today we have the awesome news that the killer sequel Creep 2 will be hitting Netflix streaming on December 23rd.

The original creeptastic motion picture is already streaming on Netflix so if you need to catch up – or just watch the original again – you can do so tonight and get ready for the sequel which, personally, I found to be superior (if even just slightly) to the original.

What did you think of the original film? Are you excited to check out the sequel? Or have you already seen it? Make sure to let us know in the comments below or on social media!

Creep 2 starring Mark Duplass and Desiree Akhavan hits Netflix December 23rd!

Synopsis:

Desiree Akhavan (“Girls”, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR) stars as Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men. After finding an ad online for “video work,” she thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Mark Duplass, reprising his role from the previous film). Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can’t escape.

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Waxwork Records Unveils Phenomenal 2018 Subscription Package

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Our pals over at Waxwork Records have unveiled their 2018 subscription bundle and it’s packed to the brim with some absolutely fantastic titles! Horror fans who enjoy spinning their music on turntables can look forward to two Romero titles, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, Joe Dante’s The ‘Burbs, Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell, and lastly they’ll have Jordan Peele’s smash success title Get Out. On top of getting those five records, those who join the subscription program will also receive a t-shirt, coffee mug, poster, notebook, magnet, enamel pin, calendar, and more.

For Night of the Living Dead, Waxwork Records worked closely with the film’s original creators, including Romero himself prior to his passing, the Museum of Modern Art, and The Criterion Collection so that they could source audio from the 4K restoration. It will be released as a 2xLP package.

Dawn of the Dead will also get a 2xLP release that will include brand new artwork, re-mastered audio, and more. The same kind of treatment is being given to The ‘Burbs. Christopher Young’s Drag Me to Hell soundtrack will be a single LP but will get the same level of attention and quality as the other titles.

As for Peele’s Get Out. Michael Abels; score will be released on a 2xLP vinyl set and will pay tribute to one of the most culturally significant movies of the past several years.

The Waxwork Records subscription package will be $250 ($285 in Canada) and will open up for sale this Friday, the 24th. More information can be found on Waxwork’s website.

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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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