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Sneak Preview – Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights

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Sneak Preview - Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror NightsThe Halloween season is fast approaching, and the grand kick-off always comes from the opening of Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. Creative director John Murdy invited Dread Central and select members of the press for a special sneak preview of the 2013 event.

On tap for this year are mazes for Evil Dead, Insidious and Black Sabbath: 13 (!!!) along with Universal Monsters: Remixed and the Spanish-themed El Cucuy: The Boogeyman (featuring narration from Danny Trejo!). In addition, we’ll be getting two brand new scare zones featuring characters from Curse of Chucky and The Purge.

But the most interesting change comes to the Terror Tram, an old staple of Horror Nights that has been given a complete upgrade. Murdy tells us that the prison from “The Walking Dead” has been built on the Universal backlot, where visitors will be dropped off to encounter hordes of the living dead! It’s shaping up to a fantastic year!

Below you’ll find an image gallery showing some of the crazy costumes and make-up you’ll find at this year’s attraction.

Keep it here for our continuing coverage of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights!

From the Press Release
Tickets are now on sale for “Halloween Horror Nights,” Southern California’s premier Halloween event, taking place at Universal Studios Hollywood on 21 select nights from September 20 through November 2, 2013.

Tickets to this year’s event are available for purchase on the Halloween Horror Nights website, including a Front of Line ticket option that enables guests to enjoy priority access at each maze and theme park attraction, as well as a premium VIP Experience ticket offering guests an enhanced guided tour of “Halloween Horror Nights.” Advance purchase is recommended as event nights will sell out.

This year, the contemporary urban city streets, towering skyscraper, brick-faced facades and industrial exteriors that make up Universal Studios’ world-famous production facilities will serve as a backdrop location for “Halloween Horror Nights” as Universal Studios Hollywood creates elaborate maze settings from iconic movie sets and soundstages never before used in this popular, award-winning event.

“We’re thrilled to be working with today’s leading horror movie, television and music properties to bring another bone-chilling ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ to life at Universal Studios Hollywood,” said John Murdy, Creative Director, Universal Studios Hollywood. “Our collaboration with renowned filmmakers, producers and artists contributes immensely to the event’s authenticity. The limited amount of Front of Line and VIP Experiences tickets available to our guests provides great options to enhance this special experience.”

“Halloween Horror Nights” 2013 brings together the sickest minds in horror to immerse guests in the living, breathing, three-dimensional world of the most notorious and terrifying creatures. Featuring a slate of unparalleled film production quality mazes, fright-filled scare zones, compelling new backdrop maze locations and a new “Terror Tram” experience, uniquely themed to today’s most definitive horror properties, “Halloween Horror Nights” will taunt, terrorize and torment guests with incomparable spellbinding and horrifying haunted attractions.

AMC’s Golden Globe-nominated and Emmy Award-winning TV series returns to “Halloween Horror Nights” and will feature an all-new disturbingly real maze, inspired by Season 3 of the cult favorite television blockbuster. “The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven” maze will place guests at the core of the show’s once impenetrable prison, the West Georgia Correctional Facility, now overrun by decaying walkers. The disturbingly real haunted attraction will send them cowering through the walker-infested wilderness that surrounds the prison and into the seemingly utopian town of Woodbury where gruesome secrets are concealed.

Other haunted attractions will include “Evil Dead: Book of the Dead,” based on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s chilling remake of the cult classic; “Black Sabbath: 13 3D,” inspired by the darkest lyrics from the legendary rock band’s 43-year history of Heavy Metal music, and “Insidious: Into The Further” based on the disturbing “Insidious” film franchise that explores the darkest corners of the paranormal experience.

“El Cucuy: The Boogeyman,” a startling, terror-filled maze based on the Latin American legend of the mythical, shape-shifting monster, will feature chilling narration by prolific actor and producer, Danny Trejo, and “Universal Monster Remix: Resurrection,” will complete the lineup with new sounds from acclaimed artist/DJ Figure, and all-original monsters inspired by fan-generated character competitions along with a legion of Universal’s legendary monsters re-defined for the 21st century.

A new reign of terror in new scare zones based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster movie “The Purge” and Universal Studios Home Entertainment’s upcoming Blu-ray release of “Curse of Chucky,” will also come to life to terrify “Halloween Horror Nights” guests.

The highly-entertaining and edgy “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” returns in an all-new production, adding to the already dynamic “Halloween Horror Nights” event, while such theme park’s favorites remain open throughout the event: “Transformers: The Ride -3D,” “Jurassic Park® In the Dark,” “The Simpsons RideTM” and “Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride.”

Maze announcement videos are available on Halloween Horror Nights’ YouTube Channel. Updates on “Halloween Horror Nights” are available online at Halloween Horror Nights, on Facebook at: “Halloween Horror Nights – Hollywood,” on Instagram at @HorrorNights and Twitter at @HorrorNights, as Creative Director John Murdy reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information. Join the conversation using #UniversalHHN.

“Halloween Horror Nights” kicks off on Friday, September 20, 2013 and continues on 21 select nights through Saturday, November 2, 2013. Event dates are: September 20, 21, 27 and 28, October 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 31 and November 1 and 2.

If you’re one of our Florida readers, click here for all the info you need regarding Halloween Horror Nights Orlando.

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Interview: The Cured’s David Freyne and Sam Keeley Talk Zombies, Politics, and PTSD

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The Walking Dead, once the flagship of AMC and the envy of all networks, has been suffering a significant decline in both ratings and viewership over the past couple seasons. While many place blame on writers and producers, it could simply reflect changes in tastes and trends. The zombie subgenre of horror has become, objectively, saturated with few infusions of originality over the past few years.

In this climate, The Cured can be considered the cure for the 21st Century zombie movie, which has become stagnant and formulaic. It’s the debut feature from Irish filmmaker David Freyne and it stars Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. We’ve seen more outbreak movies than we can count, but The Cured takes place many years after an apocalypse that devastated Europe.

The hook is simple but brilliant: The infected are cured but returning to their pre-zombie lives proves a difficult transition. Though no longer compelled to kill and cannibalize, The Cured (as they are referred to) nonetheless remember every atrocity they committed.

Dread Central was lucky enough to sit down with Freyne and Keeley to discuss the film, their approaches, and the parallels to international politics. Check out the trailer for The Cured below, followed by our interviews.

The Cured arrives on VOD February 23, courtesy of IFC films.

Synopsis:
A disease that turns people into zombies has been cured. The once-infected zombies are discriminated against by society and their own families, which causes social issues to arise. This leads to militant government interference.

Dread Central: One of the most compelling aspects of The Cured is the cure! I’m hard-pressed to think of another film that explores the idea of zombies becoming human again. It’s a great innovation. Where did the idea come from?

David Freyne: I love zombie films and the idea for The Cured came about in 2011, so I’ve been working on this for quite some time. I really liked I am Legend, but I recalled that at the end, the patient, the female zombie gets the cure from Will Smith, and then she dies. I was like, “Hang on, this just got interesting!”  That’s pretty much the moment when the idea came. But it also has to do with what was going on in Ireland at the time; we were going through a recession. The banks were closing and we were all losing our jobs and it was like we were being blamed for things that were beyond our control. That’s the analogy for The Cured because they were being blamed for things that were beyond their control. All of that melded together and became the inspiration for the film.

There have been a lot of zombie films that mention a cure but like you said, it’s something we haven’t seen before.

DC: Yeah, we’ve seen reformed zombies, like in Day of the Dead and Fido, but they’re still zombies. We’ve never seen these fully cured zombies. It really sets The Cured apart and makes it worth seeing. Now, I saw a lot of potential parallels with current world issues, like the refugee crisis, the prison system, and soldiers returning home from war. The way The Cured were treated reminded me of how Vietnam Veterans were harassed when they returned home from war. Were any of these parallels intentional, or was it just the recession?

DF: PTSD and the treatment of soldiers was definitely something I had in mind. Like you mentioned, Vietnam wasn’t like World War II, where the soldiers returned as heroes. And the refugee crisis as well; we have a camp here in Ireland, where these people were institutionalized—almost like they were being quarantined from the rest of society. This isn’t just how we treat these people in Europe, it’s the way the world treats asylum seekers where they’re regarded as rapist and criminals and all the terrible things Trump is saying—like other countries are giving us their worst, which has been proven to be totally false. That crisis was definitely an inspiration.

But yeah, studying the effects of PTSD was a big part of my research for The Cured. I wanted to explore what would happen if these people remembered the things they had done when they were infected. With the memories of all that killing, how do you normalize again? Is it even possible?

But yeah, I don’t even know if you can separate the recession and the refugee crisis. Especially the way asylum seekers are portrayed as these boogeymen. We saw the rise of all of these populist politicians that stoked this hate to serve their own ends. That’s why there’s a character in the film who uses this fear to get The Cured all riled up, but it’s just to serve his own ambitions. I think that’s what we have now. The rise in racism and hate crime is all connected to the recession.

DC: The ending of The Cured was ambiguous, or rather, open-ended. Were you setting up a sequel or is your intention to let this story stand?

DF: I definitely want to do something non-zombie, but it will depend on the response to the film. I wanted the story to end with redemption, so its complete in that way. But there’s still a story left to tell so we’ll see. Maybe it will proceed as a graphic novel.

DC: Anything else you want to tell our readers?

DF: To me, the scariest things are real, not unreal, so I hope The Cured sparks discussions, whether it be about politics or something else. Nothing is black and white; none of the characters are all right or all wrong.


Dread Central: How’d you get into acting?

Sam Keeley: I wanted to be a singer/songwriter. I was working on an album in order to become a rock star. But I had this high school guidance counselor who was like, “Look, I’m not going to let you do this. You need to at least have a backup plan.” After banging her head against a wall for a week or so, she said, “What about drama? With a drama degree, you can teach, do film studies, or become a critic.” I loved the idea!

DC: You’ve been in a handful of horror movies. What are your thoughts on the genre?

SK: I love horror movies and thrillers. These films are filled with such interesting characters. There’s the opportunity to be a bit bigger, more eccentric if you will. There are so many great parts in these films.

DC: Your role [in The Cured] couldn’t have been easy; Senan is nothing short of tortured. How did you prepare to play the part?

SK: When David first offered me the part, I had to think very seriously about whether I could pull it off. I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, despite the fantastic elements. I did a lot of research about people who had been institutionalized and reintegrated back into society; murderers and sex offenders who have to go through a system to be reintegrated and accepted by society. I looked at the human side of that.

I did a lot of reading about stressful situations. It was heavy work but it was worth it.

DC: One of the most compelling parts of the film was your relationship with Abbie. Can you talk about what it was like to work with Ellen Page and did she influence your performance?

SK: Great question. Ellen is a wonderful human being; so unbelievably talented. I had only known her from her work before we met on set. It was a tricky character for her because it was a mother role, but there was something else to it. She never missed a beat, and it really helped me to see my character through her eyes.

DC: What were the most difficult parts of the role for you?

SK: I lost a lot of weight for the shoot; I went vegetarian. But mostly, it was staying in a perplexed state—keeping one foot in that world. It was tough to do because it weighs you down. It was nice to wrap and let go of the character go, to let Senan dissolve into the air. It was hard to maintain that guilt; it was mentally taxing.

DC: What’s next for you?

SK: I just finished a project called Peace, directed by Robert David Port based on a novel by Richard Bausch. It’s the story of four soldiers during World War II. It’s a psychological story about these characters who become lost and have to rely on each other to survive the situation. We filmed in British Columbia for four weeks and it was amazing; all outdoors in freezing weather! I’m really excited about that.

DC: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about The Cured?

SK: We worked really hard to bring something new to the genre and I hope people will see it with an open mind. The market is flooded with zombie movies, some of them good, some of them not so good. I think people have become somewhat jaded, but I hope they’ll see it with an open mind. Don’t expect your typical zombie movie.


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Joe Dante Will Executive Produce Teddy Bears Are For Lovers Feature Film!

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“Ahhh!” or “Awww”?

I’m a big fan of films that combine horror with, for lack of a better term, “cute shit.” Take for instances movies like Critters and Gremlins. Love them.

It is with this in mind that not only do I love the short film Teddy Bears Are For Lovers but I am excited about today’s news.

Today Deadline reports that “Lost” and Cloverfield cinematographer Michael Bonvillain will be making his directorial debut with the feature adaptation of the classic short (which you can peep in its entirtly below).

Yes, not only are we getting a Teddy Bears Are For Lovers feature, but Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop will be creating the film’s killer teddys, and Joe f*cking Dante (Gremlins, Piranha) will be executive producer.

Cool, huh?

“It’s rare to find a project with the right balance of humor, scares and emotions that can make a film entertaining on so many various levels,” director Michael Bonvillain said in a statement. “This project, which at its heart is a love story, builds so many different layers on top of it to create an absolutely horrifying and hilarious thrill ride that keeps you entertained from start to finish. Having been involved as a cinematographer on a number of great films over the years that blended elements of horror and thriller with comedy, I’m excited to direct a project that I think hits all those notes and is hugely entertaining”.

Najeeb Khuda, Gavin Lurie, and Andrew Joustra, who run Endless Media added: “Teddy Bears immediately drew us in from page one because it has something that has become increasingly lacking at the multiplex… it’s a blast. Taking inspiration from the type of films we grew up with, this film hits every chord of why we love going to the movies: mixing just the right amount of thrills and scares with a fun joyride.”

I hoping and thinking that this film could be the new “cute sh*t” horror movie I have been waiting for since the release of Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat (gotta love Sam). I don’t mean to get my expectations up TOO high, but if you’ve seen the original short film (again, available in its entirety below) then you know this premise and characters are utterly classic.

The original short film was directed by David Ernesto Vendrell, Matthew Hawksworth, and Almog Avidan Antonir. David Vendrell penned the script for the upcoming feature.

What do you think of the original short? Let us know below!

Synopsis:

Set during a Valentine’s Day party, follows college playboy Collin and his current head-over-heels girlfriend Sarah as they are targeted by a group of bloodthirsty, but adorable teddy bears who come to life seeking revenge for the broken hearts of Collin’s ex-girlfriends. Together, the couple must evade the teddy bears and earn the forgiveness of these begrudged and wildly different ex-girlfriends before the sun rises in order to break the curse, all while confronting whether their current relationship is meant to be.

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Netflix’s The Cloverfield Paradox Scored 2.8 Million Viewers in First Three Days

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A few weeks back we brought you a news story in which Netflix shelled out a whopping $50 million for the streaming rights to The Cloverfield Paradox.

If you are like me, then you’ve been wondering how that investment is paying out for the streaming giant in the wake of the resounding “thud” the film made after it hit late on Super Bowl Sunday.

Well, it seems the movie did pretty good… but nothing special (which is the general consensus to the film itself) and scored 2.8 million viewers in the first 3 days of release.

These numbers come to us from Variety, who reports that, while 2.8 million is no small number, when compared to the 11 million viewers that David Ayers’ Bright starring Will Smith pulled in late last year, The Cloverfield Paradox pales in comparison. But is it fair to compare The Cloverfield Paradox to Bright? Shrugs.

What do you think? Let us know below!

The film is directed by Julius Onah from a screenplay by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung and stars David Oyelowo, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Brühl, and Chris O’Dowd.

The film is now streaming on Netflix.

Synopsis:

Astronauts must fight for their lives after making a terrifying discovery in outer space.

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