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Set Visit Coverage: David Woodruff and Dave Elsey Talk Fire City: The Interpreter of Signs

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Set Visit Coverage: David Woodruff and Dave Elsey Talk Fire City: The Interpreter of SignsIt’s not every day you get to interview an Academy Award winner while wearing a demon hat. Well… actually it is, for me. I love my job!

Dread Central sent me to the set of Fire City: Interpreter of Signs to chat with cast and crew. It’s the directorial debut of monster master Tom Woodruff, Jr., and he’s got his own junior, David Woodruff, following in his F/X footsteps.

Along for the ride into the depths of hell is makeup/effects artist Dave Elsey (The Wolfman, 2010 Academy Award – Best Achievement in Makeup).

Dread Central: So how did each of you hear about Fire City initially?

David Woodruff: Well, when they started the project, they went over to my dad’s studio ADI to do the creature for the first of what was then, three years ago I believe, supposed to be a web series. And then his first time directing with these guys was for King of Miseries, which was a short that was a one- to two-day project that I came into to do makeup for and then from there I formed a relationship with the guys and they asked me on the feature.

DC: And yourself?

Dave Elsey: Well, I talked about the project a little bit with Tom Woodruff who I’ve known for a long while and but not in terms of really doing the film, and we talked generally of it happening and what he was trying to do and I literally got a random email from Tom saying would you like to do one of the makeups and I said yeah absolutely because I knew what Tom was trying to achieve and you know what he was trying to do with this film, and I just wanted to be involved and to help him out. I didn’t realize at the time that it was gonna be Vine, the main makeup. I didn’t actually realize that until I turned up and realized that I volunteered for the whole movie and not just one day.

DC: Oh boy. So how’s it going so far? You are like two weeks through shooting.

DE: Yeah it is actually going really well, and the makeup is going really well and Tobias the actor is fantastic to work with. Everybody is fantastic to work with and it has been a lot of fun. And you know that was the main thing because we are basically working all night every night on this thing you know, six days a week. And if it wasn’t fun it would be horrible. I’ve done a few jobs like that before where it’s been hideous. But this is actually every night we come in, we do it, we do the makeup, we get it done and have a laugh, and I’ve got to say the results [are] looking really great on film. I think Tom is doing a fantastic job of making everything look as good as it can and as you would expect from somebody with his background.

DC: How have the creatures evolved or been modified since you first heard about the project to what you are actually shooting?

DW: Umm you know, not much honestly. I think they had a plan coming in of what they wanted and we knew some stuff that we could repurpose at ADI and kind of piece together some of these creatures so they really had a plan of what they wanted. I think they might have even gone through and looked at extra stuff that we had or pieces that we could put together and wrote some of the characters around stuff that we had access to, I believe that is what I heard but they changed very little from that concept initially.

DC: Can you talk a little about Vine’s look in this film and how it sort of makes him embody the character?

DE: Well I had previously only seen illustrations of the character and we did a quick makeup test just before we started on it and it went really well. And this is the first makeup in about twenty-five years that I didn’t design… but of course I’m happy to do that because it is Tom and I just know it is gonna be good and everything is gonna work and it is gonna go together. So, so far it has been going great. Like I said, I didn’t come to this project really knowing an awful lot about it except that Tom was involved; that was my gateway into it. But having said that, now that I am involved I can’t wait to see it.

DC: Yeah, the creatures look really scary, and they look sort of, you know, like the “Bosch” style old school demons. But is that what audiences want and expect? They want the horns and the teeth and the bone.

DW: Yeah, I think there is a level that they are expecting. I’m really pleased with what we’ve done and taking that and alternating that and making it fit to the style of this film. You look at a character like Vine and he doesn’t have your stereotypical demon horns; he doesn’t have two horns coming out of the top of his head, but what we have done is we have taken this kind of horn aspect and turned it almost into a crown, if you will. There is something very kind of a royal looking [about] his character. I think the other thing is, too, especially gluing down somebody else’s makeup, he also had a lot of play room to make it his own. We had a sketch or one, kind of full Photoshop render in the case of Vine, but for the others they had a single sketch or no concept work at all and they kind of designed themselves in the clay.

DE: But I’ve got to say the beauty of this job is that because of everyone who is involved with it, that’s a strength rather than a weakness because if this was a big budget movie we’d spend months doing millions of designs, going around in circles and arguing about every single look, every single wrinkle, every single face, and we’d probably end up with going back to the very first design again, which is what we normally do, but in this case everybody’s main thing is does it look cool and if it looks cool, we go with it. There is no real filter system. So that really frees you up. It’s really nice; it’s been a really pleasant part of the job because I know whatever we do if we think it looks right and think it is exciting to us, and Tom agrees, that’s it. It’s in.

DW: That’s the other thing… just like with Danny, of all people. She’s just the interpreter and she’s the character the movie is based around and we didn’t have her. She was the last person at least that has any demon makeup or outfit that was cast and so it got to the point where I would sit down with a generic face which would be the approximate size of what only we could imagine… And we brought Danny in the Wednesday before we shot, so I think that was four or five days before we shot. We brought her in to life cast her and we had this rough clay sculpture that we had essentially matched on her face to guarantee a better and proper fit. But that was the extent of that design. We had this roughed out concept and we got Danny in and we got this five days before. We did a one-day sculpture that matched the direction we were going in, and we came in with that makeup. I think when you are stuck with that kind of a time constraint and that open of a design aspect it is an opportunity to be more creative than you would have on something else.

DC: Are you guys also doing the blood and gore effects too, or is that someone else?

DW: Yes!

DE: I’m just staying to one character, but David is doing everything else.

DW: Yeah, I’m kind of heading the show for the first time. Hit the ground running I guess. I think the human gore is very minimal in this one. We did have a death that was very graphic; there was one human death. I don’t know how much we wanna say about that.

DE: But it was so beautifully shot though. I was looking at the frame – it’s what we shot last night, right?

DW: No, this was ah… Maria’s death… the throat gag that we did. We had to have somebody’s throat torn out and we had a blood gag underneath you know so it’s running blood down her face and the way that was shot was fantastic too and just because of the pieces themselves we had to have Danny step in. There is so much going on in this one scene – it’s where we are introduced to the transition between the human and demon world and what humans can and can’t see so we went from our human Cornelia (actress Mary-Margaret Humes) to Danny. In this sequence Mary-Margaret is there to initially slash out the throat, and then we cut to the character of Maria. We start at her face and then we come down and we see that she is bleeding out and there’s this gaping wound in her neck. We cut back and it’s Danny in full demon makeup dropping this piece of larynx on the table… we made it bleed right out of the trachea I believe so Danny is able to reach in and pinch that shut. And we watch Maria die from lack of oxygen; it’s not because she is bleeding out but it’s because she can’t breathe. Like she’s being choked from the inside. And that was great because we got to take advantage of a couple of background characters and for Maria’s throat we are able to take advantage of another FX expert who has been in the business for years; his name is Roland Blankaflore of RBFX. And he has done an entire line of custom generic foam rubber appliances that are just made to fit anybody. We didn’t have anybody cast for Maria for a while and it’s a pretty generic throat gag, and at that time we just finished and started preparing his ripped-out throats. And we went over and took a look at his catalog and yeah, perfect timing !
We picked up that and picked up a couple pieces for our demons later in the club sequence. But that is just a fantastic library to pull from; until he started that under a year ago, that wasn’t an option for people. They would be scrounging or something so we had a brilliant quality bloody professional piece to do that effect.

Fire City

Fire City

Fire City

Fire City

Fire City

Fire City

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Check Out the Opening 2 Minutes of Another WolfCop

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It was just earlier today that we brought you guys The Dude Design’s the newest poster for writer-director Lowell Dean’s horror-comedy sequel Another WolfCop.

And now we have the movie’s opening 2 minutes!

The clip showcases the new flick’s villain trying to sell us on his “Chicken Milk Beer” before losing his cool and taking it out the commercial’s crew. We then cut to a ragtag group of criminals, dressed as homeless Santas trying to outrun the cops.

A fun two-minutes if you ask me!

You can check out Another WolfCop‘s opening scene below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media!

The film is written and directed by Lowell Dean, produced by Bernie Hernando, Deborah Marks, and Hugh Patterson, and distributed worldwide by Cineplex.

Another WolfCop co-stars Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, and Serena Miller. The film also features special appearances from Canadian music icon Gowan and legendary filmmaker Kevin Smith. It was executive produced by Sean Buckley, J. Joly, Bill Marks, Brian Wideen, Michael Kennedy, and Michael Hirsch.

The film is slated for a wide Cineplex theatrical release on Friday, December 8, 2017, with the film seeing a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital home entertainment release through A71 and Black Fawn in 2018.

Synopsis:

A month has passed since the eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou into the crime-fighting hellion WolfCop. Although the Shape Shifters controlling the town have been extinguished, Woodhaven is far from returning to normal. Lou’s liquor-fueled antics and full moon outbursts are seriously testing his relationship with Officer Tina Walsh – the new Chief of Police. An old friend has mysteriously reappeared with a truly bizarre secret to share, and a homicidal new villain has emerged from the shadows looking to finish what the Shape Shifters started. To defeat this lethal adversary, it will take more than a lone wolf packing a pistol.

Prepare for the next chapter of WolfCop that will be more dirty and hairy than the original! Consider yourself warned.

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Reviews

AHS: Cult Review: Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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User Rating 4 (3 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.86 (7 votes)
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