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Meet the Butcher Babies!

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Meet the Butcher Babies!I try to never make an interview article about myself, but I had to mention just how I discovered Heidi Shepherd, Carla Harvey and their kick ass metal band, Butcher Babies.

Last August, I was in the pit at the Mayhem Festival in Saratoga Springs, NY. I was waiting to see Children of Bodom, but there was one other act scheduled before Alexi Laiho and his Finnish brethren took the stage. A group called Butcher Babies. Fronted by two incredibly beautiful and awesomely aggressive ladies, Butcher Babies absolutely slayed the crowd in Saratoga and I knew I had to catch up with this band and interview them as the Dread Central readership would certainly fall in love with them as I did.

Although I wasn’t able to coordinate a meeting at Rock and Shock 2013 where the band played, I was finally able to catch up with the two lead singers of the band after they blew the doors off the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY in support of Down and Black Label Society recently. So finally, nine months after they originally rocked my world, I give you Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey (representing their fellow bandmates, Chris Warner, Henry Flury and Jason Klein) of the Butcher Babies!

Butcher Babies

The stage presence of both Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd is amazing and the duo have such incredibly explosive energy onstage, one has to wonder where it comes from. “I think we’ve all had it inside ourselves since we were kids,” Harvey said. “We all grew up as metalheads, so that’s a huge thing. When you grow up as a metalhead and you grow up in the pit and you grow up going to rock shows, how else are you going to behave onstage? We’re not going to stand there. We feel the music. So as soon as we get up there, we go crazy.”

Heidi Shepherd added, “As Carla said, we were kids that grew up in the pit and the second we heard that music, we raged. That was our outlet to let everything out and it’s still that to this day. I like to blame it on the fact that I was a really angry teenager and I still have that inside of me. I could see myself at 11 or 12 years old as an angry kid, sitting in my closet, writing swear words on the wall. So, for me, it’s that anger and that energy as a teenager that has guided me through my adulthood.”

Harvey and Shepherd also credit other factors to their energetic onstage personas. “Writing our record was a very cathartic experience, getting those emotions out,” Harvey said. “And now we can live it out in kind of a safe manner. We can be as crazy as we want, but when we’re onstage, we’re letting it go in a safe way.”

Butcher Babies

“Plus we’re a bunch of party animals,” Shepherd said. “We like to have fun and the whole band is that way. So when we get up there, we can’t help but jump around and party with our best friends.”

For a band who’s first album dropped last year, the Butcher Babies have had the incredibly rare opportunity to play in front of tremendously large audiences. Shepherd and Harvey spoke on the experience. “We know how lucky we are,” Shepherd said. “We’ve worked our asses off. Carla and I have been working together for seven years. This band has been together for four and a half years. We’ve worked really hard over the past couple years. We still are newbies, but we’ve been very lucky to share the stage with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Korn… For us, it’s a huge dream come true. Sitting in your room as that 11 or 12 year old kid envisioning you’re the singer of your favorite band, and for me that was Korn or Slipknot…”

“For me that was Pantera,” Harvey said. “I would sit in my room and draw comics and listen to Phil Anselmo scream. I wanted to be Phil, and now we get to tour with him. It’s a really, really cool experience.”

“It’s really nothing you can describe,” Shepherd said. “The oddest sense of accomplishment because you don’t want to let every day pass by. You want to take full advantage of every single day. Like tonight, we’ll be at the soundbooth watching Down as we will be for every night on this tour because this is something that we’ve been looking forward to our entire lives. Carla and I, when we worked with Marilyn Manson, stood at the soundbooth every night. Carla said to me, about Manson, ‘This is one of the last true rock stars of our time.’ And for our names to be attached to that is indescribable. We definitely don’t take that for granted.”

Butcher Babies

Harvey added, “We didn’t get this when we were 20 years old. None of us are kids so we realize how lucky we are to have this and to still be doing it. We’ll never take that for granted.”

With one killer album under their belts, Butcher Babies will soon be turning their attention away from their seemingly endless tour schedule and begin working on album number two. “We’ve been really busy touring, but we’ve been getting writing sessions in here and there,” Harvey said. “We’re taking the whole summer off to write our next album because it’s that important to us.”

“With the success of the first album, the second album means more, in our eyes,” Shepherd said. “This is an exciting time, but also a very scary time for the band because your sophomore album can make or break your career. So we want to take all the time in the world, fall off the map for a little while and write a really good, honest record. And by honest, I mean honest in the sense that we’re not going to conform to what’s popular right now. We never have. We have so many people who say, ‘You guys are girls. You should not be screaming, you should be singing.’ You should do this and you should do that. And what we want to do is push all that away and put ourselves into our project and that’s what I mean by honest.”

And speaking of the tour schedule, Harvey and Shepherd spoke about life on the road. “We’ve done a couple of tours. We did Danzig after Mayhem and then we did In This Moment and then we did Europe,” Harvey said. “So we’ve been home a couple months, maybe, in all that time. It’s rough, but it’s the best time of our lives. We get to share it with our best friends. We love being onstage.”

“It’s funny when you think about living out of a suitcase,” Shepherd said. “When we put our bags right here on these seats and we live out of them day to day, some people would look at that like ‘Oh my god, you live out of a suitcase. That must be terrible.’ For us, this is our lives. I have everything I treasure right in that suitcase and in this RV and for us, this is where we know we belong. So if we’re on tour, we’re happy.”

A successful album, endless tour dates and adoring fans have all come the way of the Butcher Babies, a creation not of a corporation, but of five lovers of music. “All of us have been in bands prior to this,” Shepherd said. “What musician hasn’t been in a band prior to the successful one? You have to fail to win. Carla and I did in a band before this. In all honesty, all of us came from other projects and formed something original and fought our way to the top. We used to practice in Chris’ (drummer Chris Warner) garage. We were a garage band. I want to clear the slate, sometimes people think some manager put us together…got some really great musicians together with some girls, that’s a common misconception. This is actually a brainchild of all of us in the band.”

Butcher Babies

And the common thread that ties the Butcher Babies together with the Dread Central readership? Of course it’s the horror. “We’re all horror fans,” Harvey said. “We kind of started off like horror rock because we used a lot of blood, so people associated that with us being a horror rock band.”

“It’s really hard to shower off, though. It’s really hard to tour and be covered in blood all the time,” Shepherd joked.

“We used to have torsos and decapitated heads that we got from real movie sets on our stage,” Harvey said. “But we’ve kinda toned it down a bit because we want people to see us, who we are as musicians and people on stage and not just the blood and gore.”

“But we’re still horror fanatics,” Shepherd added. “If we have an off day…our off day the other day consisted of seeing Oculus (which Heidi recommends!) and for us, we’ll sit around and talk about different things horror-based. Tomorrow we’re going to that museum…”

“We’re hoping to go to the Mütter Museum in Philly,” Harvey explained. “It’s a museum that has all these cool medical oddities in it, like the famous double-headed fetus skeleton. It has just a ton of weird medical shit. I’ve never been there, but I’ve been dying to go for years and we’re finally getting a chance to go.”

“We’re really looking forward to doing that,” Shepherd added about the Mütter Museum. “For us, everything we do is more horror-based. We write about the things that scare us. Our stage antics as of late are not as horror-based, but the things we write are horror-based. We have a song off our album called The Grim Sleeper about serial killer Lonnie Franklin in Los Angeles and the whole song, we really dove into this story and we wanted to feel what it would be like to be the killer and the victim. Also another song we have, called The Werewolf of Wisteria (on the Japanese version of the album), that’s about Albert Fish in the 20’s who would take the babies and eat them and write a letter to the parents. We really like to dive into horrific stories.”

Catch Butcher Babies on their current tour. For dates and info, visit the official Butcher Babies website, “like” Butcher Babies on Facebook and follow Butcher Babies on Twitter (@butcherbabies).

Butcher Babies

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

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Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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