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Dread Comes to Universal

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Halloween Horror Nights (click for larger image)Friday, October 13th. It’s the premiere night of Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood, CA and Dread Central has been invited to take part in the opening gala event. Trudging through the rain, I meet up with screenwriting pal David Rosiak and his girlfriend Diana, and we’re quickly led into a large press auditorium. Corpses and severed body parts are strewn all over the buffet tables and cages hold kidnapped park tourists who cry and scream for help. Naturally, we’re too busy to oblige because Universal has provided us with an open bar.

The press has been invited by Pavel Pranevsky, AKA “The Director”, a demented Slovakian auteur once hired by Universal to make the most hardcore horror film ever made. We’re shown footage of Pranevsky’s extreme work-in-progress (which looks suspiciously like Un Chien Andalou) and told that the Universal execs had second thoughts regarding the sociopathic director. Upon his termination, Pranevsky fled deep into the wilderness behind the studio and now roams the back-lots of Universal, determined to finish his bloody masterpiece with the park’s visitors as his new cast.

The event kicks off with the Zombie Graduation ceremony, presided by a demented undertaker who sounds exactly like Clancy Brown. One by one, the recently deceased receive their diplomas and head out into the audience to terrorize party-goers for the rest of the evening. Several drinks and one large buzz later, we decide to leave the party and (not unlike the walking dead) stumble out into the theme park for some action.

Halloween Horror Nights (click for larger image)The foggy streets are littered with every demented spectacle imaginable. Chainsaw-wielding maniacs jump out of the darkness. Sweeney Todd deals out free throat slashes. Undead vendors offer human guts for sale. This isn’t your typical family-friendly Halloween event with happy witches and white-sheet ghosts. Universal has gone all-out to deliver the genuine goods and for all intensive purposes, they’ve delivered in spades.

First stop: The Asylum – a giant walk-through mental hospital where the lunatics have taken over. This place is as good as haunted house attractions get, dishing out all the gory goods and even making this writer jump a few times. Is it time for a change of underwear? Outside eclectic percussion/electronic/experimental band The Mutaytor blasts through the night on stage with blistering drum sets, burlesque acrobatics, and ten-foot high pyrotechnics. You could easily waste the entire night watching their act.

We feel ourselves start to sober up, so we run back to the party for more drinks and make our way over to Chucky’s Insult Emporium, where the killer doll dispenses his unique brand of raunchy insults to audience members (the “warning” signs plastered all over are well justified). After about ten minutes, we’ve had our fill of the routine and make our way over to the big attraction: The Terror Tram.

Halloween Horror Nights (click for larger image)The line is long, but moves fast. It’s a good thing too, because an obnoxious Latino radio station has set up a booth nearby (if I hear “Gasolina” one more time, I’m gonna gut something). We board the tram and are whisked into the Universal back-lot by a foul-mouthed tour guide. It doesn’t last long though: The driver panics, drops the entire group off at the Bates Motel, and takes off. We walk by all the rooms, which have strung up Clive Barker-ish corpses inside. A little girl comes running up to me with her eyes gouged out and asks me where her mother is. Over to the left, there’s a wrecked tram where the tourists are in the middle of being disemboweled by Leatherface. We proceed up the hill to the infamous Bates house and come face to face with Norman who brandishes a carving knife and screams to his mother at the window.

Next door is the most impressive thing in the entire park: A destroyed neighborhood from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds set that has been converted into a full-on zombie apocalypse. The sheer sight of this place automatically makes one hunger for a $200 million dollar Romero movie. We walk on and on, watching the undead feast on hapless victims and stumble through the ruins of houses and crashed planes. Just when it looks like there’s no end to the zombie invasion, the tram comes back around and picks us up, taking us through a trippy rotating tunnel and finally back to the studio.

Halloween Horror Nights (click for larger image)As midnight rolls around, the park begins to close but we decide to hit one more exhibit on the way out: Universal’s House of Horrors which is being held in the Van Helsing fortress (yes, there’s still a Van Helsing exhibit). After seeing the entire park, this one is a bit of a disappointment; it’s simply a few horror characters (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, etc) thrown into the same attraction, which isn’t nearly enough to clean out the vile stench of that god awful Stephen Sommers film. Skip this and check out one of the other cool shows instead.

Minor quibbles aside; Universal has kept up their streak of excellence with the annual Halloween event. In fact, they do it so well, one can’t help but ask: Why the hell don’t these guys make more horror films?

Special thanks to Universal for giving us one helluva night and David and Diana for all the juicy pictures. Halloween Horror Nights will be at both the Los Angeles and Orlando parks throughout the month of October, so get your ass out there. It’s well worth it!

Halloween Horror Nights (Click for larger image)Halloween Horror Nights (Click for larger image)Halloween Horror Nights (Click for larger image)Halloween Horror Nights (Click for larger image)

Halloween Horror Nights (Click for larger image)Halloween Horror Nights (Click for larger image)Halloween Horror Nights (Click for larger image)Halloween Horror Nights (Click for larger image)

Andrew Kasch

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That is One Gigantic Steampunk Squid…

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Perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi adventures novels ever written, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a landmark book, one that was decades ahead of its time. The story follows the crew of the Nautilus, a submarine commanded by Captain Nemo, as they venture in search of a giant sea monster. It was the basis for several film adaptations and the character of Captain Nemo played a pivotal role in the graphic novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

So why am I bringing this up, you ask? Because Tor Books is releasing Nemo Rising, a sequel this Christmas! Written by C. Courtney Joyner, the story once again follows Nemo, although this book sees him a prisoner that must be pardoned by President Ulysses S. Grant in order to face an onslaught of more sea monsters.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother you all with this but I happen to have a soft spot in my heart for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the cover art for the book is fucking epic! I’ve always been a fan of cephalopods and I’ve found the steampunk aesthetic to be pretty fascinating. Combine them both along with giant monsters and you damn well better believe that I’m 100% into it! Plus, it’s wrapped itself around the Nautilus, which is already a giant vessel, so now I’m wondering just how large these mechanical monstrosities are…

Nemo Rising will be released on hardcover from Tor Books on December 26th, 2017.

Synopsis:
Sea monsters are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Enraged that his navy is helpless against this onslaught and facing a possible World War as a result, President Ulysses S. Grant is forced to ask for assistance from the notorious Captain Nemo, in Federal prison for war crimes and scheduled for execution.

Grant returns Nemo’s submarine, the infamous Victorian Steampunk marvel Nautilus, and promises a full Presidential pardon if Nemo hunts down and destroys the source of the attacks. Accompanied by the beautiful niece of Grant’s chief advisor, Nemo sets off under the sea in search of answers. Unfortunately, the enemy may be closer than they realize…

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Filming On Blumhouse’s Halloween Pushed to January

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Looks like filming on Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween from Danny McBride and David Gordon Green has been pushed back a few months.

Not a huge deal, though. Only till January.

Filming on Halloween (2018) was supposed to begin this October (natch) but now it seems the film still has some cast to fill out.

The news comes to us via a South Carolina casting agency, The Island Packet, who are still seeking extras for the new film. In fact, if you are from the South Carolina area, you can be an extra in the film. Just click the link above for more details.

I wish I lived in or around South Carolina because being in this new Halloween would be a f*cking dream come true. If you’re in the area, get on it. You owe it to the rest of us! Haha?

How excited would you be to be an extra in this new Halloween? Let us know below!

Blumhouse’s Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green from a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer and is executive produced and scored by John Carpenter.

Halloween (2018) hits theaters Oct. 19, 2018.

Synopsis:

Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

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Horror Movies to Be Thankful for on Thanksgiving

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After you’ve gorged on your Thanksgiving feast and the L-tryptophan is kicking in, you’re probably thinking about parking your carcass on the couch and watching movie after movie. But not just any movie – this is a holiday, so naturally you want to celebrate on-topic and gobble some gore.

We’ve got you covered with this curated list of choices from a 25-item menu of Native American-themed thrillers and chillers.

Death Curse of Tartu (1966)

A group of students on an archaeology assignment in the Everglades decide to throw a dance party one night. The spot they choose happens to be the burial site of an ancient Seminole shaman named Tartu. He returns from the dead to take his revenge on those who desecrated his grave site.


Stanley (1972)

A Seminole Vietnam vet (Chris Robinson) goes on the warpath when a leather goods merchant (Alex Rocco) tries to grab his pet snake Stanley to turn him into a belt. A William Grefe cult classic!


Hex (1973)

Set on the Nebraska prairie in the immediate aftermath of World War I, the story follows the spiritual clash between the daughters of a recently deceased shaman and a gang of ex-aviators. Christina Raines, Scott Glenn and Keith Carradine star in this largely unknown, bizarre body-count thriller.


Shadow of the Hawk (1976)

A Canadian Indian (Jan-Michael Vincent) and a newswoman (Marilyn Hassett) join his grandfather (Chief Dan George) on a tribal walk among evil spirits.


The Manitou (1978)

A psychic (Tony Curtis) recruits a witch doctor (Michael Ansara) to get a 400-year-old Indian medicine man off his girlfriend’s (Susan Strasberg) back…. literally. The demonic Native American spirit is a tumor trying to reincarnate.


Prophecy (1979)

When a dispute occurs between a logging operation and a nearby Native American tribe, Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) and his wife, Maggie (Talia Shire), are sent in to mediate. Chief John Hawks (Armand Assante) becomes enraged when Robert captures a bear cub for testing, but he’s not as angry as the mutant grizzly mom! George Clutesi plays an Original Person who believes the monster is the personification of the god Katahdin and is there to protect the land.


Nightwing (1979)

A policeman (Nick Mancuso), his girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold) and a scientist (David Warner) track vampire bats on a Maski tribe reservation. Abner Tasupi (George Clutesi) is the shaman who helps them.


Wolfen (1981)

A New York cop (Albert Finney) investigates a series of brutal deaths that resemble animal attacks. His hunt leads him to Native American high worker Eddie Holt (Edward James Olmos) to see if there’s any connection between the killings and old myths and legends from the area. Finney’s character refers to as “the Crazy Horse of the Seventies… the only one of our local militants left alive who’s not making money off of Levi’s commercials.”


Scalps (1983)

Hapless college science students go on a dig around a sacred burial ground for artifacts. Unfortunately, one of them becomes possessed by the evil spirit of Black Claw… and that means only one thing: Now he must slaughter all of his friends.


Eyes of Fire (1983)

Almost lynched in 1750, a preacher (Dennis Lipscomb) leads his followers (Guy Boyd, Rebecca Stanley) west to a valley whose dirt holds a devil of Indian origin.


Firestarter (1984)

Pyrokinetic protagonist Charlie McGee (Drew Barrymore) is in trouble when an evil Native American named Rainbird (George C. Scott) wants to kill her because he is convinced her death would give him special power to take to the mystical other world of his ancestors.


Poltergeist 2: The Other Side (1986)

The Freeling family have a new house, but their troubles with supernatural forces are not over. Whoops, looks like it’s another haunted Native American resting place!


Creepshow 2 (1987)

In the anthology film’s first vignette, “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” thugs who terrorize small-store grocers played by Dorothy Lamour and George Kennedy are attacked in kind by the general store’s wooden Indian.


Pet Sematary (1989)

After moving to an idyllic home in the countryside, life seems perfect for the Creed family…but not for long. Louis and Rachel Creed and their two young children settle into a house that sits next door to a pet cemetery – built on an ancient Indian burial ground.


Ravenous (1999)

Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is sent to investigate reports of missing persons at Fort Spencer, a remote Army outpost on the Western frontier. After arriving at his new post, Boyd and his regiment aid a wounded frontiersman, F.W. Colghoun (Robert Carlyle), who recounts a horrifying tale of a wagon train murdered by its supposed guide — a vicious U.S. Army colonel gone rogue… and who’s developed a taste for human flesh.


Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

In 18th century France, the Chevalier de Fronsac and his Native American friend Mani (Mark Dascosos) of the Micmac tribe are sent by the King to the Gevaudan province to investigate the killings of hundreds by a mysterious beast.


The Wendigo (2001)

Director Larry Fessenden movie uses the Native American Wendigo legend to tell an eerie and hallucinogenic tale about a family trapped in the woods with a dark force.


“Masters of Horror: Deer Woman” (2005)

A burned-out cop believes that a recent string of murders prove that the killer might be a deer-like creature in the form of a beautiful woman (Cinthia Moura) come to life from a local Native American folklore legend.


Skinwalkers (2006)

A 12-year-old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives. Based on the folk legend from Utah about the spirits of murdered Indians returning to seek revenge upon those who disrespect the land.


The Burrowers (2008)

A search party – played by Clancy Brown, William Mapother and Doug Hutchison – sets out to find and recover a family of settlers that has mysteriously vanished from their home. Expecting the offenders to be a band of fierce natives, the group prepares for a routine battle. But they soon discover that the real enemy stalks them from below.


The Dead Can’t Dance (2010)

Three Native Americans discover they are immune to a zombie virus in this whacky indie comedy.


Savaged (2013)

After thugs brutalize a deaf-mute woman (Amanda Adrienne), the spirit of an Apache warrior takes over her lifeless body and sets out on a bloodthirsty quest for revenge.


Volcano Zombies (2014)

Danny Trejo as a Native American who warns campers about the legendary and very angry lava-laden “volcano zombies.”


The Darkness (2016)

Peter Taylor (Kevin Bacon), his wife and their two children return to Los Angeles after a fun-filled vacation to the Grand Canyon. Strange events soon start to plague the family, and the Taylors learn that Michael brought back some mysterious rocks that he discovered inside an ancient Native American cave.


Mohawk

Mohawk (2017)

After one of her tribe sets an American soldiers’ camp ablaze, a young female Mohawk finds herself pursued by a ruthless band of renegades bent on revenge. Fleeing deep into the woods, Mohawk youths Oak and Calvin confront the bloodthirsty Colonel Holt and his soldiers. As the Americans seem to close in from all sides, the trio must summon every resource both real and supernatural as the brutal attack escalates. Mohawk is a dark, political drama with horror undertones. “While set 203 years ago, Mohawk is unfortunately a timeless story,” says director Ted Geoghegan. “It’s about marginalized people being decimated simply because they exist and scared white men who fail to realize that their racism and bigotry will place them on the wrong side of history.

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