Exclusive: Matty Beckerman Talks Alien Abduction and The Brown Mountain Lights Phenomenon - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Matty Beckerman Talks Alien Abduction and The Brown Mountain Lights Phenomenon

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Exclusive: Matty Beckerman Talks Alien Abduction and The Brown Mountain Lights PhenomenonMatty Beckerman’s unsettling extraterrestrial thriller, Alien Abduction, will be landing on VOD and in limited theatrical release via IFC Midnight on April 4th and we had a chance to catch up with the director and discuss all things extraterrestrial.

Based around the real-life Brown Mountain Lights phenomenon down in North Carolina, a vacationing family winds up taking a much longer ride than they had planned for. Below, Beckerman himself talks in detail about the film and what inspired him to look up to the stars to find his latest inspiration.

DC: I’ve seen a lot of found footage movies, more than I care to even mention, and few of them were as effective as this one actually is. The Brown Mountain Lights are based on an actual phenomena, correct?

MB: Oh yeah, it’s very very real. I’ve seen the lights myself and taken video of them and pictures of them. It’s completely real.

DC: In the film, when the family first encountered the lights when they’re woken up in the middle of the night… is that how the lights actually appear or is that more of your spin on things?

MB: No, that’s what they look like. They are about four or five feet wide and they shoot off in different directions and they float above the mountain line. It’s completely freaky.

DC: When you decided to do a movie about this, what made you feel like the found footage way was the way to go as opposed to more of a narrative structure?

MB: Well, I met with a psychologist who had a patient that was autistic and this patient brought a video camera everywhere he went. That was the way he was able to communicate with the rest of the world and really connect with people was by using this video camera. And I thought it was a terrific medium to tell this story.

DC: It was one of the few found footage movies I’ve seen where there was actually a reason for the camera to be rolling. In terms of creature design, they were all practical, right?

MB: Yeah, everything we did, we had such a small budget we couldn’t afford CG. So, everything we did was all practical and I like the practical stuff more. It looks more authentic and you get that real feeling that something’s actually in the room, it doesn’t move awkwardly. It’s a completely realistic feeling. The actors can react to it the right way, too.

DC: Speaking of the actors, in a lot of found footage some of the dialogue is improvised. Was this scripted? Did you give them an outline?

MB: We had a whole script written but we went off script I’d say 90 percent of them time. We had to get from point A to point B and we gave the actors enough room to improvise and really get into who these characters were. And most of these characters are really just the same people who were the actors. There’s no real difference between them and the people they were playing. It was easy for them to do this ad-libbing.

DC: It all comes off as very natural. Joshua P. Warren, a noted Brown Mountain Lights investigator, appears in the film… did you interview him specifically for the movie or was that pre-existing footage?

MB: No, I interviewed him and all the locals up there, and the scientist at Appalachian State University – the Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Those are real people who have witnessed the lights and know all about it. I interviewed a bunch of locals, too, who claim they’ve been abducted there, who know the lights. That’s all real footage, it’s all authentic … Some people refused to let me put it out because they claim they’d been abducted there, including police officers. These aren’t people who are wacko’s, they’re people who have jobs and who have lives.

DC: Was the flick filmed on location?

MB: It was. Everything was filmed where the real lights are see: Burke County, North Carolina; in Avery County, North Carolina; in Watauga County, North Carolina; and in Bryson City.

DC: Did you guys see anything while you were filming?

MB: Yeah! Totally. I took the whole crew there and we witnessed the lights one night and actually took pictures of it. I put the pictures up on my personal website and put a little blog together on it and the pictures are up there, you can take a look.

DC: Will we be seeing some of this stuff on the DVD extras when we cross that bridge?

MB: I hope so. I just put this EPK of behind-the-scenes stuff together and we’ll see what makes it and what doesn’t.

Again, Alien Abduction, will be landing on VOD and in limited theatrical release via IFC Midnight on April 4th. Don’t get abducted!

Written by Robert Lewis, Alien Abduction stars Katherine Sigismund, Corey Eid, Riley Polanski, Jillian Clare, Jeff Bowser, and Peter Holden.

Synopsis
A terrifying sci-fi story inspired by dramatic found footage, Alien Abduction preys on our fear of the unknown as we follow an average American family who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While driving to a campsite in the Brown Mountains of North Carolina, the Morris family’s GPS malfunctions, and they are lead to a remote tunnel surrounded by abandoned vehicles. The father, Peter Morris, is abducted, leaving his traumatized wife and children to flee and seek refuge in a nearby cabin. There they are horrified to learn that strange lights in the nearby mountains have been linked to alien abduction and human sacrifice for centuries.

When their attempts to alert the authorities are intercepted by the deadly extraterrestrial threat, the surviving members of the family find themselves under siege. A brutal and bloody attack unfolds as we witness the horrors through the lens of the youngest child’s video camera.

Learn more over on Alien Abduction‘s viral website!

Alien Abduction / Project Blue Book

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French Thriller Series Glacé Now Streaming on Netflix as The Frozen Dead

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New to Netflix this month to kickoff the year for the killer crime genre and miniseries streams, is “The Frozen Dead,” translated from its original French title, “Glacé.” It made its debut on our screens as the next foreign language series to bring us chills and thrills since the German-language time travel series, “Dark,” released in October of 2017. It looks like we can look forward to more of these international inclusions on our bloody palette.

So, if you are looking for a serial slasher in an icy setting to hold you over this winter and give you an investigative mystery fix, watch “The Frozen Dead” for a six-episode look at the bloody chaos the mind of a disturbed killer spews on The French Pyrenees.

From the very first introductory scene and the creepy children’s chorus that accompanies the goosebumps – inducing snowstorm view that is in the show’s theme, the eerie tone is set pretty early on. If that does not offer enough incentive to go watch, the camerawork and imagery alone throughout the show are incredible and worth appreciating. These striking visuals are significant if you know it is a television adaptation based on Bernard Minier’s dark novel. All-embracing, the series carries an increase in dread and suspense all throughout, so be prepared to be uncomfortable and most of all, confused as you unravel.

If you happen to enjoy this chilling setting that forces a detective to confront an unsettling past, you’ll be happy to know I found that same cold-evoking, murder mystery intrigue in Christopher Nolan’s work on Insomnia (2002), a film in which Robin Williams unconventionally and successfully jarringly plays the enigmatic man being chased by Al Pacino’s detective character. There’s a film to check out (if you haven’t already that is) if that parallelism interests you – after bingeing the six hours of “The Frozen Dead” that is.

Synopsis:
A grisly find atop a mountain in the French Pyrenees leads investigator Martin Servaz into a twisted dance with a serial killer in this icy thriller. Starring Charles Berling and Julia Piaton. Available now on Netflix.

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Editorials

We Need to Stop Our Alarming Obsession With Child Actors

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On Sunday, January 21, Buzzfeed tweeted an article with the byline “Millie Bobby Brown just Insta-confirmed her relationship with Jacob Sartorius and I have butterflies”. Quite quickly, the tweet was met with a barrage of comments, ranging from mild tuts that it was in poor taste to extreme condemnations of pedophilia and sexualization of a minor (Brown is 13-years-old as of this post). I personally weighed in on the matter.

Earlier that day, CNN ran a video and story where actress/director/producer Natalie Portman opened up about her own experiences being a young girl in Hollywood. Portman’s breakout role was at 12-years-old in The Professional, a movie that celebrated her phenomenal acting abilities. Per CNN, she received her first fan letter a year later, after the film had come out. In it was a rape fantasy. Her local radio show began counting down the time until her 18th birthday, when she would be of legal age. Mind you, she was 13 when all of this was happening, the same age as Millie Bobby Brown.

The parallels between these two stories should immediately be understood and seen. The sexualization and fanatical obsession with children, much less celebrities, is a plague that can only cause damage and harm to those who are on the receiving end. It is time that we recognize that this practice needs to stop. It is time that we all held ourselves accountable.

A cursory search of Browns’ name on Buzzfeed will bring up at least 50 separate articles, on top of the one previously mentioned. These include what was said between “Stranger Things” co-star Finn Wolfhard and herself before their kiss in the second season. There’s a strange obsession with Brown’s instagram account and the conversations between her and other celebrities. There’s even one that states Brown looks like a young Natalie Portman. The irony here is undeniable and it seems very difficult to say that the site doesn’t have an obsession with the young actress.

Hollywood is under a great deal of pressure, rightfully so, from the #MeToo movement as well as Corey Feldman’s pursuit of revealing the truth about widespread pedophilia in that world (watch as he’s shut down by Barbara Walters). His claims have been echoed by Elijah Wood, although he himself states he did not suffer at the hands of any abusers.

Eliza Dushku’s alleged abuser Joel Kramer was recently let go from his agency twenty years after supposed events took place. When those who wonder why the actress didn’t come forward sooner, they overlook the fact that she went to authorities at that time. She details everything in an emotional post on her Facebook page.

The issue, however, does not just lie within those who create in Hollywood. It is exacerbated and pushed on by those who report on Hollywood’s actions and those that read it, lapping up the non-news proclamations with unabashed glee, not recognizing that they are feeding the same system that many are fighting against. Then, even more worrying, is that these “fans” feel entitled to these children, as though they are objects for their pleasure at any time, puppets that need to dance when beckoned.

Sophie Turner weighed in with her thoughts on the matter:


Wolfhard himself has asked that the infatuation and near assault of him and his co-workers come to an end:


And yet even on that particular tweet, Wolfhard’s fans responded with, “Ma babe trust no body“, “I love the right person bixo ♡“, “Love you finn“, and more. “Fans” are declaring their love for a 14-year-old boy that they’ve never met, a person that they’ve only really seen playing someone other than himself.

A culture has been established and reinforced that celebrities are somehow open for our sycophantic obsessions. This needs to stop. We need only to remember our own experiences as children so that we can apply them to these kids today. As Kevin Brown so wonderfully put it on Twitter:

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Reviews

Ruby Blu-ray Review – ’70s Drive-In Psychic Shocker From VCI

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Starrign Piper Laurie, Janit Baldwin, Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis

Written by George Edwards and Barry Schneider

Directed by Curtis Harrington

Distributed by VCI Entertainment


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and director Curtis Harrington’s Ruby (1977) is paying it to a few of the ‘70s most notable horror films. Cribbing liberally from such better pictures as The Exorcist (1973) and Carrie (1976), this is a picture that could have worked well despite being a pastiche because it begins with a decent setup and the elements for something interesting are present. Unfortunately, nothing ever gels like it has to and Ruby loses focus early on, dashing from one death scene to the next and allowing for little salient connective tissue to tie it all together. The big mystery presented early on should be easy enough for horror fans to deduce, and the film never brings the scare factor. A few of the deaths are novel in their inventiveness, especially the use of the drive-in theater surroundings, but a couple kills do not a movie make and Ruby spends too much time middling and being weird to be of any note.

Florida, 1935. Low level mobster Nicky Rocco (Sal Vacchio) is gunned down by a lake as his pregnant girlfriend Ruby watches on in horror. Just before dying, Nicky swears vengeance on whoever did this to him. Cut to sixteen years later and Ruby (Piper Laurie) runs a drive-in movie theater and lives in a home nearby with her daughter, Leslie (Janit Baldwin). Ruby is a tough broad, quick-witted and foul-mouthed; able to hold her own with the guys. But those guys are beginning to vanish one by one as the bodies start piling up at the theater. Ruby suspects there’s something off with Leslie, so she brings in her own psychic doctor, Dr. Paul Keller (Roger Davis), to examine her daughter. Leslie, as it turns out, is acting as a conduit for the wayward soul of Nicky, who blames Ruby for his ultimate demise. Possessed and programmed for vengeance, Leslie and Ruby have an all-out battle in a search for the truth.

The second half of this film is where things go right off the rails, with scenes aping The Exorcist so much it feels like a knock-off. This isn’t always such a bad thing because knock-offs of better films can always turn out great (see: most of the post-Gremlins little creature features), but Ruby never makes a clear case for introducing these fantastical elements in the third act. This is a story that could have worked better by exercising restraint, playing closer to something like J.D.’s Revenge (1976), a similar gangster-soul-out-for-justice film, than a wild, possessed ride.

What does work, for me, are the drive-in theater setting (I’m a sucker for movies that also involve the craft of film in some way) and the kills, a few of which make great use of the theatrical setting to deliver fitting fatalities. One employee winds up stuffed into a soda machine, with his blood getting pumped into a dark, syrupy drink and served up to guests. Another meets his end on the screen, impaled by the pole on which car speakers are kept. Harrington does inject this picture with a strong sense of atmosphere, too. The locale is woodsy and feels remote; the countryside is dark and foggy, the perfect setting for something grim to occur. None of these elements are enough to fully save the feature, though they do bring enough production value to ease to burden of a poor script.

Personally, I’m a sucker for almost any horror from bygone eras – especially the ‘70s and ‘80s – so, deficiencies aside, Ruby is still worth a spin if you enjoy reveling in this particular era. This is far from an unheralded gem or little-seen treasure, but it does, at the least, rip-off good pictures in spectacularly bad fashion.

This is a rough film and every bit of work done for the 2K restoration still can’t do much to polish it up any better. First, a note: there is a video drop-out for approximately ten seconds around the 21-minute mark. VCI is offering replacement discs via their Facebook page, so check there for further details. Future copies will be corrected, and those should already be on “shelves” now, so consider this an FYI. The 1.85:1 1080p image is frequently soft and murky, darkly shot and poorly lit. Shadow detail is virtually non-existent. The color temperature looks a bit on the warm side. Film grain is noisy and occasionally problematic.

An English LPCM 2.0 track carries a clean & balanced audio experience. Voices sound a touch muffled at times, though nothing too severe. The murders scenes are accompanied by creepy ambient sounds, adding a slight chill. The film’s closing theme song is awesome cheese that must be heard. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

There are two audio commentary tracks; the first, with David Del Valle and Nathaniel Bell; the second, with Curtis Harrington and Piper Laurie.

The film’s original trailer is included in HD.

Also included are a few interviews with Harrington, conducted by David Del Valle, including “2001 David Del Valle Interview with Curtis Harrington”, and “Sinister Image Episode Vol. 1 & Vol. 2: David Del Valle Archival Interview with Curtis Harrington”.

Special Features:

  • NEW 2K RESTORATION from the original camera negative
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Audio Commentary with Director Curtis Harrington & Actress Piper Laurie
  • New Audio Commentary with David Del Valle and Curtis Harrington historian Nate Bell
  • Two Interviews with Curtis Harrington by Film Critic David Del Valle
  • Photo Gallery
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • Ruby
  • Special Features
2.3

Summary

A simple plot becomes wildly unfocused but Ruby does have intermittent camp value fans of ’70s horror cinema should dig. VCI’s Blu-ray is no beauty by any means, though it’s likely to be the best this poorly-shot feature will get.

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