Vitals Interview Series Part 1: Charlene Amoia - Dread Central
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Vitals Interview Series Part 1: Charlene Amoia

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Vitals Interview Series Part 1: Charlene AmoiaCharlene Amoia of the ever-popular TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” had only appeared in a few episodes before we caught up with her on the set of the gory new organ-theft thriller, Vitals, far from her cushy network TV gig.

Now she’s spending her days covered in fake bruises and blood, sequestered in a remote independent studio in the San Fernando Valley. In Vitals Amoia plays Dr. Jane Carson, a woman whose medical degree gets her nowhere after her husband is kidnapped and surgically plundered for his kidneys right before her eyes.

Still, the knowledge does come in handy – read on to find out what she has to say about that.

Dread Central: So, what sort of doctor do you play in this film?

Charlene Amoia: I can’t say what kind of doctor I am, but what I can tell you is that my character’s occupation only comes into play when her husband’s kidney gets removed and there’s massive internal bleeding. By looking through the hole in the wall, she is able to talk him through opening it back up and fixing it. So, other than that, that’s all that’s really dealt with.

DC: These themes are so upsetting to a lot of people, but I think there’s a lot to play with the urban myth and the horror aspect and the physical parts of it.. what, among those things, made you want to be in Vitals?

CA: The script is really well written and this role specifically is an amazing role for a woman to play. I mean, I just fell in love with it. It’s one of those roles that you would do a theatre piece in because it’s really juicy and often times we don’t get those roles with TV and film so it was a really easy decision for me, it was something that was going to be challenging and require a lot of emotions and colors and fun in the same time. I’m playing a woman who appears to be a victim who turns out to be not so much the victim. And it’s just great. It’s really juicy.

DC: What’s the tone of the film? I mean, is there any levity in it or is it all pretty harrowing?

CA: It’s harrowing. Completely. If there is any levity, it would be with Sachin’s character, who you just interviewed, because you know he’s a bad guy, but there’s a callousness that brings humor with his stuff, so depending on how it’s edited and all that, that will bring some funny possibly if they decide to go that way.

DC: Well, he mentioned that you guys had been shooting for almost a week now… so what kind of things have you done on set that you maybe were surprised by- as you were reading the script maybe you thought, “Oh this is going to be easy” but then it wasn’t- is there any scene that kind of stands out that you’ve shot so far?

CA: Because I’m alone in my motel room, there’s no other actual other characters once they throw me in there. The whole movie I’m pretty much talking through the hole in the wall to my husband or on the phone, but I’m with myself. So the first three days of shooting were only me, all of my scenes, just my half, so it was the most amount of material I’ve ever had to prepare in such a short period of time. Monday, I had 20 pages and three huge scenes. One of them was this huge monologue were I’m pouring my heart out. So I guess that was my biggest surprise… getting the schedule and seeing that I’m going first, and it’s all of my stuff, and there’s no turn-around so there’s no time to even breathe, you know?

DC: How did you feel in that moment?

CA: Completely overwhelmed and panicked. Even just memorizing it. And the work goes way further than just the memorization. Just even the task of memorizing a whole script and being ready to go for three days, so that was a great challenge. The benefit of it was I didn’t have time to over-think anything. I just had to know the material and then let my instincts take over and that was a beautiful thing.

DC: It’s so good to have that behind you now!

CA: Oh yeah! Now I just have little bits and pieces. So I feel better.

DC: What is the organ of choice that these people are harvesting?

CA: They harvest his kidney, and then are coming to do his heart.

DC: Ouch! Yeah, he’s not going to survive that one, I don’t think!

CA: Right, exactly!

DC: Does Vitals have a similar feel to Turistas or Hostel or some of those films? Are you a fan of those?

CA: I’m not a fan of scary things… they get into my psyche, so I don’t really watch them, but someone had referenced Saw because you know…

DC: Right, you wake up in a strange room.

CA: Yeah, you’re in a room. And so I watched it to kind of get an idea of the world, but yeah I don’t really jump out to go see those movies.

DC: Well let’s hope a lot of other people will!

CA: Yeah, yeah, well there’s a huge market! Most people love this stuff.

DC: So what kind of scenes have you got coming up today?

CA: Well, today is where they kind of abduct us and throw us into the room and knock us out. Later today I have the second part of the scene where I actually go and kill someone which you don’t really see coming and will require a lot of emotion and stuff. But it’s not heavy in the dialogue area, so that’s a relief.

DC: I watched you getting thrown around a little bit on the monitor there. Do you enjoy that aspect of it?

CA: No, it’s my least favorite part of it. I get scared that someone’s going to have an accident. There’s just a bunch of big guys whaling around and I don’t like to be around it. So this is probably my least favorite.

Vitals comes to us from writer/director Marc Morgenstern. Christopher Showerman, Sachin Metha, Tim Russ, and Claudia Wells co-star. In it Showerman stars as an unassuming electrician who wakes up in an abandoned motel room in a tub of ice with his kidney missing. It’s only a matter of time before he finds his wife in the adjacent room waiting to be the next victim to a horrible organ harvesting organization. Now they must use each other’s wits and skills to escape before their captors return and their dark secrets are revealed.

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Night of the Living Dead 4k and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection

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It’s been a long time coming for these two classics. Especially Night of the Living Dead, after the ridiculously bad transfer put out by Mill Creek Entertainment whose transfer was supposedly remastered from a new 2K scan. I swear I thought it was some kind of a joke when I first put it on to watch. In any event…

IndieWire is reporting that horror classics Night of the Living Dead and The Silence of the Lambs will be added to the 2018 Criterion Collection, a hallmark label for home video cinephiles.

According to the site Criterion will release a new 4K digital restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, which has been approved by the movie’s cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray sets are 35 minutes of deleted scenes and audio commentary from 1994 featuring Demme, Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas. Night of the Living Dead will also be released in 4K, with never-before-seen 16mm dailies included as a bonus feature(!).

These will be added February of 2018.

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DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

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Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review: A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

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