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Exclusive Interview with Trick ‘r Treat Writer/Director Michael Dougherty

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Trick 'r Treat - Exclusive Interview with Writer / Director Michael DoughertyMichael Dougherty gave us something good to eat with his feature directorial debut, Trick ‘r Treat. While several horror movies have been situated on or around the holiday of Halloween (John Carpenter’s Halloween itself of course…

…plus a few using the razor blade in the apple trick like Night of the Demons or the costume as a disguise like House of 1000 Corpses), none ever quite used the notorious date to its full potential until Trick ‘r Treat debuted in 2008. Trick ‘r Treat is an expertly sewn bit of witch stitchery, blending four freaky fables together like a creepy cloak of subterfuge and shock.

Exploiting the myriad of superstitions surrounding the holiday, we follow an eerie imp called Sam. He’s a diminutive demon, slight and about the height of a six-year-old child, but with a great, rounded pumpkin-shaped head that’s draped with a burlap mask. Sam goes out every Halloween, armed with candy. Yes, armed… to harm! If you’ve never seen anyone brutally stabbed with a half-eaten lollipop, that is reason alone to watch Trick ‘r Treat. And now you can!

Trick ‘r Treat is showing on the big screen this month. Legendary Pictures has partnered with Beyond Fest for a one-night only theatrical screening of the movie – which stars Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Leslie Bibb and Brian Cox – at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on October 28. The screening will be followed by a panel that will include Dougherty along with several members of the cast. Both the showing of the film and the panel will be live streamed nationally on Legendary’s Facebook page.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Michael to see what’s up with this special event and to pick his brain on favorite Halloween costumes.

SW: Hi, Michael! So good to talk to you again. Of course, I have seen your excellent film, but would you just recap a little bit of what the plot is, for people who haven’t been so lucky yet?

MD: Sure. It’s four interwoven stories all set in the same small town on Halloween night. I guess the really crafty way of describing it is “Pulp Fiction meets Halloween.” (laughter) But, you know, it’s really about how all these characters experience sort of the strange events of the holiday in different ways.

Q: Wow, it’s funny that you should mention Pulp Fiction because my Halloween costume this year is going to be Mia Wallace with the hypodermic needle, bloody nose, and the whole bit. So what’s your costume going to be this year?

MD: I am still trying to figure it out, to be honest with you. Last year I went as Magneto.

Q: Ah, perfect! [Note: Michael wrote the script for X-Men 2] (laughter.)

MD: It was ‘Party Magneto’ to describe it.

Q: I loved seeing Trick ‘r Treat on the big screen, even though it never played beyond festivals (a travesty!)… That is how it should be seen. So tell me, as the filmmaker, how do you feel about the fact it’s a cult classic?

MD: If it’s a theatrical release where you know your movie does okay and then it disappears in a couple weeks, that’s not great either… versus this very slow but steady build and a natural following that grows with it. I would do the same thing all over again. I think there are a lot of theatrical films that come out and they make their money and sort of just disappear, but longevity [is] key. I think true love is a lot harder to achieve for a film, especially if it didn’t have the support from the studio.

Q: It’s a good film to begin with, that’s why it’s building as a modern classic legend, but what do you think about the psychology of an audience — especially genre and horror audiences — who feel like, ‘Oh if the studio won’t let me see this, then it must be something that I have to see, no matter what!’

MD: Yeah. I think fans love that. And the horror audience especially I think gets that. They are the ones that if someone says don’t go inside the creepy old house (laughter), they are the ones to go in the creepy old house. And there is something inherently mischievous and rebellious and fun about horror fans. And so yeah, when some studio says, ‘We are not going to release this; this is too much,’ they are like, ‘No, we want it, and we are going to find it. You can’t stop us.’ (laughter) I think it’s been that sort of fervent dedication that has kept the movie going. And I am so appreciative of it. And I think it’s the online websites and geek blogger world especially [that] really rallied around it at a point when I couldn’t have been at a lower point with the movie. And they really just kept it real.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about your own relationship with the film, and how this movie has sort of helped shape you over the years from the beginning to now?

MD: I have definitely learned a value of patience (laughter). You know I’ve definitely… it sort of taught me to think about the bigger game, you know, that it’s not just about opening weekend and how the only care is of opening weekend. I learned that it’s more about quality than quantity in terms of the amount of film that you do. It’s matured me a lot and it definitely helped me realize the kinds of stories I want to tell and the movies that I want to make. I had a really great time making these big tent pole superhero movies, but I think there is something really more interesting and more rewarding about doing these smaller, obviously more personal film. I mean Trick ‘r Treat is definitely a more personal film for me of stuff that I generally love. So it’s really refined me both as a filmmaker and just as a person.

Trick 'r Treat

Q: You know, I have to say out of the dozens and dozens of set visits I have been on over my career, yours stands out as one of the more memorable — mainly because of the obvious care and love you had for Trick ‘r Treat. You had your office upstairs from the sets, with that bulletin board mood wall with all of your fall leaves and your candy wrappers and fabric samples pinned to it… and it’s very evocative of the film’s ultimate atmospheric feel. Can you talk a little bit about your initial inspiration to make Trick ‘r Treat look the way it does?

MD: Yeah. I mean, to me this is the best time of year, hands down. It doesn’t mean just Halloween — it means October. To me the month is Halloween, it’s not just a night, the night is a culmination of the entire season, and there is something I think that is apparently magical and mysterious and fun about this time of year. Out of all the holidays it’s the one where you get to… I feel like the fun, creative, mischievous side of everyone comes out a little bit more. Whereas Christmas, it’s all about family and being nice and donating to charity and gifts and all that jazz, and for Halloween you get to cut loose. You know I like to say it’s the one night out of the year where people get to wear costumes so they can be themselves. And I find it so fitting and ironic. There is something really, really special about this time of year. I just wanted to make a movie that I felt captured that.

Q: You definitely did. So, I was reading the press release here and I am a little unclear exactly what the release is because when I saw it, it was on the big screen; it was at Screamfest, and it was packed to the rafters… so was that the only other theatrical look at the film?

MD: Well, this is the only one that is Legendary. The other one was Screamfest in 2008 and presented to other film festivals is different. This is the one Legendary is hosting.

Q: And you will be at the Beyond Fest, which is beyond fantastic! I have been to a couple of the screenings there already this month. The Egyptian Theater is perfect for this; can you talk a little about what people can look forward to on the 28th?

MD: Yeah, it’s going to be crazy, it’s going to be fun (laughter). Legendary sort of filled me in on some of the stuff they have planned, and even that sort of ancient Egyptian style courtyard is going to be part of the environment. So it might get transformed from ancient Egypt to more of a Halloween kind of festival. And then we have the cast coming in for the whole event. Both the film and the Q&A afterwards will be streamed on Legendary’s Facebook page. So even if you’re not in L.A. it will be great for people to participate and watch from home. There are going to be a lot of really cool, fun surprises throughout the night.

THE STORY OF TRICK ‘R TREAT
Although never released in theaters, Trick ‘r Treat became a cult classic through its release on DVD, digital platforms, and extensive play in festivals. Additionally, the film received rave reviews for its originality and ambition. The passage of time has not diminished the fan fervor for this horror classic, which continues to achieve a life of its own with each new technology but has never been seen in theaters – until now.

Dougherty’s story takes place in a small Ohio town on All Hallows’ Eve, where four interwoven tales – including a high school principal who moonlights as a vicious serial killer, a college-age virgin who’s saving herself for that special someone, a woman whose hatred of Halloween is only exceeded by her husband’s love of the mischievous holiday, and a callous group of teens who carry out an unforgivably cruel prank – deliver the kind of chills that can only occur on the darkest day of the year.

Trick 'r Treat

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Exclusive: Rocky Gray Talks Halloween Horror Anthology 10/31

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The last time we gave you guys word on the upcoming Halloween horror anthology 10/31 was to bring you the knock-out exclusive official poster, which you can peep to your left (click for a higher-res version).

The new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S and Creepshow joins an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is executive produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

The film’s stories are directed by the likes of Justin M. Seaman (The Barn), Zane Hershberger (Devilution), John William Holt (The Dooms Chapel Horror), Brett DeJager (Bonejangles) and Rocky Gray making his directing debut.

This past weekend we were able to catch up with producer-director Rocky Gray and ask him a few choice questions about the anticipated upcoming anthology film.

You can check out our quick interview below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are to check out 10/31 in the comments below!

Dread Central: How is the film coming along?

Rocky Gray: The film is now completed and we are getting the perks out to our Indiegogo backers. The backers and Death By Festival got to see the first cut of the film in October and they loved it so we’re very excited to get the film out to everyone else very soon.

DC: What can expect from this anthology?

RG: Expect to have a lot of Halloween themed fun. Each segment has its own flavor so the pacing and the look change throughout the film. With masked killers, vampires, scarecrows, tricksters and old hags there’s something for everyone.

DC: Will there be a sequel?

RG: If there was a demand for it we would make it happen!

Sounds good to us. Thanks for chatting with us, Rocky!

You can become a fan of the film on Facebook HERE.

SYNOPSIS:
A Halloween treat bag of all the things that go bump in the night. From masked killers to scarecrows, witches, and tricksters. There’s a scare for everyone in this anthology of horror and the macabre from the creators of The Barn and Volumes of Blood.

Red Letter Entertainment, Inc. brings you the directorial debut from Rocky Gray (composer of The Barn, Killing Floor 2), two-time Grammy-winning musician and former drummer for Evanescence. A new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S/ and Creepshow brings an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is Executive Produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

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The Duffer Brothers Have Begun Working on Stranger Things 3

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I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of the first season of Netflix and The Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things” to tell you the truth. That said, I absolutely loved the second season (read our reviews HERE).

It is with this in mind that we are all looking forward to “Stranger Things 3”.

Recently Deadline reported that at Vulture Festival LA the Duffer Brothers, producer Shawn Levy, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Reiser, and Linnea Berthelsen talked about season two and teased season three.

“We are [in] very early days on season three, and we’re still figuring it out,” Ross Duffer said, before taking a beat, then adding: “I probably wasn’t supposed to say that. That’s not official; that wasn’t an official announcement — we’re just working on it, just for our own amusement… for fun!”

Whatever.

We all know at this point that there is going to be a “Stranger Things 3” and that The Duffer Brothers will one day begin working on it. Don’t worry so much, Ross Duffer.

After all, your brother already let us know that season three will begin after a time jump:

“Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn’t,” says Matt Duffer. “Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They’re going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can’t start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. It’s a long way of saying that yeah, we’re going to do a time jump.”

What did you think of “Stranger Things 2”? Did you dig it more (or less) than season one? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

“Stranger Things 2” is currently streaming on Netflix.

Synopsis:
It’s 1984, and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana, are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down, but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

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James Cameron’s Terminator Reboot/Sequel Hires Screenwriter

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The last word we brought you guys on producer James Cameron and Deadpool-director Tim Miller’s new Terminator film was when we let you know that Paramount had set the film’s release date for July 26, 2019.

Today we have news via The Wrap that the studio is bringing in screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) to pen the movie’s script based on a story crafted by Cameron.

You may remember that Cameron and Miller created a writers room a while back to plan out an all-new trilogy of films, but while that writer’s room included David Goyer, Charles Eglee, and Josh Friedman, it seems like Ray will be the first film’s sole writer. For now.

Story details are, of course, being kept under wraps, but Cameron and Miller are treating the new movie as a direct sequel to Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day.

“This is a continuation of the story from ‘Terminator 1’ and ‘Terminator 2.’ And we’re pretending the other films were a bad dream,” Cameron told THR. “Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse.”

We also know that Cameron plans to center the new film/trilogy around a new group of younger characters, who will eventually carry on the baton as it were.

“A lot of this is handing off the baton to a new generation of characters,” Cameron said. “We’re starting a search for an 18-something young woman to essentially be the new centerpiece of these stories. And then a number of other characters around her and characters from the future. We still fold time in the story in intriguing ways. But we have Arnold’s character and Linda’s character to anchor it.”

How excited are you for James Cameron’s new Terminator flick? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social mdeia!

The new Terminator film is produced by James Cameron and will be directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool). The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.

Terminator 2.5 is expected to hit July 26, 2019.

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