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Director Jesse Thomas Cook Talks Septic Man

Director Jesse Thomas Cook Talks Septic ManA more serious take on slime punk films like Toxic Avenger and Slime City, Jesse Thomas Cook’s Septic Man (review) has more in common with Cronenberg’s tragic transformation tale The Fly.

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Director Jesse Thomas Cook Talks Septic ManA more serious take on slime punk films like Toxic Avenger and Slime City, Jesse Thomas Cook’s Septic Man (review) has more in common with Cronenberg’s tragic transformation tale The Fly.

Thanks mostly to the twisted mind of screenwriter Tony Burgess (Pontypool), Septic Man has a lot more going on under the surface than just a basic story about a man trapped underground inside a tank of absolute filth who begins to transform into something monstrous.

Director Cook spoke with us about the film and how it was one of the hardest, grossest experiences of his professional life thus far – but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a hell of a time doing it.

DC: How was your experience at Fantasia with your latest sci-fi film Ejecta? Is there a favorite project you and [Tony] Burgess have worked on so far?

JTC: Oh, Fantasia was awesome, man. It’s sort of the Fantastic Fest of Canada. Everyone’s open to new, original content and Ejecta went over tremendously well. We got to take Tony Burgess there and Julian Richings, who had a big role in Septic Man, too. We love doing these fests; it’s what gets our films out there and spreads the word.

DC: This is my second time seeing [Septic Man], I just watched it again a couple days ago, and last weekend I was trapped in an elevator and had an unexpected panic attack here in Brooklyn. So, watching it a few days after that and seeing that kind of confinement really hit home for me! Do you have any claustrophobia yourself or fear of confinement?

JTC: (laughs) I definitely do, yeah; my entire life I have, and with this film in particular I wanted to make that sort of claustrophobic atmosphere and do sort of a chamber play all set in one confined space. Initially the idea was just about a man trapped in a well, which I had pitched to Tony Burgess, and his disgusting mind was able to transform it into what he later called ‘a gift’ for him as a writer, to be able to do this movie about a guy slowly entering this existential crisis and transforming into this shit demon. But yeah, absolutely, the idea was about a claustrophobic, in the vein of Buried and Saw; I looked at it as a straightforward survival horror film. Tony was able to add a ton of philosophical underpinnings that only he can add to a project.

DC: Did the space restriction make this one of your most difficult shooting experiences? What was the day-to-day like?

JTC: Well, you see early in the first act there’s a few scenes set outside of the septic tank. Those were fun and easy, and we banged them out fairly quickly; everything in the septic tank was incredibly difficult. It was a big set that we had built with all sorts of windows and secret hatches so that we could film by staying out of the tank for a little bit. But, for the most part, there were seven or eight of us stuck in this nightmare of a film set that became very difficult to work in. Simple things on a film shoot you take for granted, like walking across the set and moving an apple box or tweaking a light – all of those were elaborate coordination amongst the crew that were stuck in there. So we would kind of get in there, shut the door, and we wouldn’t come out for six hours until our lunch because we were worried if you did come out, you wouldn’t want to go back in! It stunk, it was wet, it was cold and just generally uncomfortable – but those type of things tend to develop a brotherhood, I think, with crew members that you’re collectively suffering with.

DC: I’m sure just trying to go out for a smoke break or a “safety meeting” must have been pretty difficult.

JTC: (laughs) Well, thankfully, the crew were all fine with us just smoking right in there and just tossing our cigarette butts right in the septic tank. We had this very squeamish focus puller who, I think, once or twice actually vomited right in the set. We couldn’t clean it up, and even if we could of, it just added to the realness of the set.

DC: How big was the set?

JTC: It was 16 x 20 x 16, I believe. We could do bird’s eye views through the hatch. Six weeks before the shoot, [Jason Brown] had been a production designer on our last films with small acting roles in them, so he was primarily a designer. But we went to him to play the role and who better to build it than the guy who’s gonna be trapped in it. The whole set actually blew up on us. We were filling it with water before wrap, we had to fill the tank up into ten feet of water, and midway through the entire set walls just buckled and unleashed a wave of water and we had to scramble to repair it for the last day of the shoot. We had to change a couple major scenes in the script to work in the fact that the tank could not hold ten feet of water.

DC: With Septic Man, it feels like an origin story. Is there any chance of a Septic Man crossover with Bad Milo? If you saw that film, they could be the shit demons of Groot and Rocket Raccoon.

JTC: I just saw Bad Milo about two weeks ago! Yeah, it would be interesting to explore the character outside of his little hive of where he grew to become Septic Man. You’re right; it was all in the back of our mind that it was supposed to be this kind of origin story sort of like The Fly and Toxic Avenger. Tony [Burgess] was able to add in all sorts of bizarre existential underpinnings so that it does leave it open-ended for sure.

Septic Man is now in limited release in theaters and is also available on VOD across multiple platforms.

Septic Man

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Horror is Strongly Represented at This Year’s Oscars!

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The nominations for the 2018 Academy Awards have been released and both The Shape of Water and Get Out have received some serious nods in major categories!

Jordan Peele’s socially conscious horror/thriller got noms for Best Director, Lead Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), Original Screenplay, and Best Picture! For a directorial debut AND a horror movie, it’s amazing to see this film get some richly deserved love. Peele even tweeted, “I just spoke to Daniel. You know when you’re on the phone trying to disguise the sound of an ugly cry? I failed at that.

Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro’s delightful fantasy creature feature The Shape of Water racked in this impressive list: Best Picture, Lead Actress (Sally Hawkins), Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins), Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), Best Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing (Sidney Wolinsky), Sound Editing (Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira), Sound Mixing (Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern), Production Design (Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau), Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), and Costume Design (Luis Sequeira). WHEW!

Having seen The Shape of Water just recently, I can assure you that it deserves every one of those accolades. It’s a gorgeous movie that kept a smile on my face through pretty much every single moment.

Other nominations that are equally important for us are the Visual Effects nods to both War for the Planet of the Apes and Kong: Skull Island and the Day of the Dead-themed Coco getting attention for Best Original Song and Animated Feature.

Congratulations to all nominees and we can’t wait to see what happens this March!

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Ice Cream Man Comic Sells Out, Will Receive Second Printing

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If you happen to be one of the many people who believe that print media is dying, this news story will make you fuck right off. I’m talking about the fact that the first issue of Image Comics’ Ice Cream Man series sold out shortly after hitting shelves. Image have confirmed that the book will receive a second printing on February 14 to keep up with what they referred to as “overwhelming customer demand”. Retailers will need to order their copies by January 22.

Each issue of Ice Cream Man is a self-contained existential horror story revolving around the themes of sorrow, wonder, and redemption. As the name of the series implies, the titular ice cream man serves as the narrator of each particular tale, with the official synopsis below suggesting that he may be more than just the driver of a frozen pudding wagon.

The series is written by W. Maxwell Prince and illustrated by Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran. If you can’t wait until the second printing, you can purchase a digital copy of #1 from either ComiXology or Image’s official website.

Ice Cream Man #1 Official Synopsis
Chocolate, vanilla, existential horror, drug addiction, musical fantasy…there’s a flavor for everyone’s misery.

ICE CREAM MAN is a genre-defying comic book series featuring disparate “one-shot” tales of sorrow, wonder, and redemption. Each installment features its own cast of strange characters, dealing with their own special sundae of suffering. And on the periphery of all of them, like the twinkly music of his colorful truck, is the Ice Cream Man—a weaver of stories, a purveyor of sweet treats. Friend. Foe. God. Demon. The man who, with a snap of his fingers—lickety split!—can change the course of your life forever.

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AfterShock Comics Announces New Series Brothers Dracul

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We’ve mentioned AfterShock Comics a few times around these parts, and now they’re about to release a new series that has Dread Central’s name all over it! Read on for the first word on Brothers Dracul from Cullen Bunn (X-Men) with art by Mirko Colak (The Punisher), who previously teamed up for AfterShock’s Unholy Grail.

Bunn and Colak are joined by colorist Maria Santaolalla and letterer Simon Bowland. Cover A is by Colak and Santaolalla while Francesco Francavilla provided Cover B.  Issue #1 hits stores on April 11th.

Bunn describes a bit of what the book is about and discusses working with the same creative team as AfterShock’s Unholy Grail“I’m thrilled to be working on BROTHERS DRACUL, a 15th century horror tale that explores the ‘true’ history of the infamous Vlad the Impaler. With this book, we’ve brought the entire creative team of Unholy Grail along. I’m working with artist Mirko Colak, colorist Maria Santaolalla, and letterer Simon Bowland once again. We had so much fun telling a horror story with King Arthur as its central figure, we had to get the gang back together for this story, featuring one of the most shocking icons of horrific history!”

Synopsis:
From writer Cullen Bunn and artist Mirko Colak comes a tale of brothers and blood that HAD to be told at AfterShock Comics.

The legend of Vlad the Impaler is the stuff of nightmares. The inspiration for the most iconic of monsters—Dracula, Vlad tortured and murdered thousands of victims. But what turned him into such a depraved killer? The truth lies in his teenage years, when Vlad and his brother, Radu, were held hostage by the Ottoman Empire. During this time the brothers learned many things—archery, riding, the art of combat, matters of court… and how to stalk and slay vampires.

Cover A

Cover B

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