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Sullivan, Tim (2001 Maniacs)

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On Saturday, July 9th, 2005 Fantasia hosted a midnight Canadian premiere screening of Tim Sullivan’s sequel to/remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 2000 Maniacs, apporpriately titled 2001 Maniacs. The full-house crowd really seemed to dig the film’s 80’s teen comedy sense of humor, and over the top gore effects. Tim and one of his lovely maniacs, Christa Campbell, were on hand for a Q&A session following the screening. Dig the results!


Tim Sullivan: We were in Lumpkin GA, a civil re-enactment town. There were 100 civil war reenactment soldiers who were going to be in the film. The day before the first day of filming they finally read the script. There I am on the first day of filming of my directorial debut, my AD comes up to me with a letter signed by all 100 reenactment soldiers damning me and my film with the curse of the confederacy to my grave. I don’t know what the curse of the confederacy is, but apparently I have it.

It was a helluva time making this movie. I wrote it in 2000, hence the reason it’s called 2001 Maniacs. I was naïve to think I would get it shot and released in a year. We shot this movie in 18 days. They shoot a fight scene for Batman Begins in 18 days. It was a real one take film. The key to independent filmmaking, especially horror films, is place. You find a great place, like the true great horror films; Halloween has the house, Night of the Living Dead, the graveyard. We got our location for 10 grand for the run of the show. The only thing was we had to remain open as a tourist attraction from 10 until 5. So every morning, in the freezing cold, we had to shoot all the nudity and violence, before all the kids showed up in their school buses.

When we shot the “Rick on a stick” scene, we had the barbecuties do their ramming speed thing, and we hear all this clapping, and turn around to see all these kids watching.

The town was right next to a crack alley. Imagine, “Crackville”, and you make a right hand turn down a dirt road and you’re in Pleasant Valley. We had to stay an hour away from the location, it was so dangerous. I got shot at one day. Anyway, anybody got any questions?

Q: Was that Eli Roth doing a cameo of Justin from Cabin Fever?

TS: You can always tell the true horror fans because whenever Eli comes on they all go “Yeaaah.” Did anybody else notice another cameo? Ya, Kane Hodder is in the film. They were shooting The Devil’s Rejects one set over from us, and we thought it would be cool to have Freddy and Jason in the same film.

Q: I thought the opening credit sequence was interesting, how did you decide to do them that way?

TS: Good question. First of all, I want to apologize for the print you saw tonight. This film was shot on 35mm, it is going theatrical, we’re going out in October, it’s going to be a limited theatrical run followed by a premier DVD release in January with Lion’s Gate. What you saw tonight was a Beta 5, so some of the colors were kind of murkey, it really is a beautiful film.

I wanted the film to be shot more like a western than a horror film. In a lot of horror films the murders take place at night, but we had a lot of stuff going on at day. In fact the guy that shot 2001 Maniacs shoots the television series Deadwood. I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood, I don’t know if anybody saw the movie The Beguiled? It’s a great Clint Eastwood horror film. Our opening credits are similar to that. I wasn’t sure who we could kill before the credits. I didn’t want the audience to be introduced to Pleasant Valley until the characters are, so I couldn’t show the massacre that occurred there. So to create the mood, we decided to go for the montage approach. We wanted to have some blood and guts every ten minutes, so we came up for the fake death of Nelson every ten minutes (Travis Tritt is in this scene).

This is a good story. Travis Tritt loves horror movies. He happened to be winning a country music award the day before we were filming. I got a call saying Travis Tritt wants to be in your film. I was like “Sure!” He was such a trooper, he agrees to go in the trunk of the car. I did it first, just to try it out. Then we try it with Travis, and Dillon comes over with the key, and it doesn’t open, and we can’t find the right key, and I’m thinking to myself, great, I’m going to be the guy that suffocates Travis Tritt to death.

Q: Was Robert England your first choice for the mayor?

TS: Robert England was the only choice. I can’t say enough great things about Robert England. I used to work at New Line cinemas, I used to read scripts for them, and suggested which ones should be bought, and I knew Robert from that. When I wrote the film, he was my only choice, and I asked him if he would play Mayor George W. Buckman, and he said he would.

He also does his own stunts. The guy is like this Laguna Beach surfer dude. I’m not kidding you, he’s a surfer, his first movie was Big Wednesday, the John Milius surf movie, he narrates that film. He had a stuntman, but he wanted to do that job where he jumps over the fire. It’s hard enough to do that to begin with, but he had a patch on one eye, and a forty-pound sword. I was terrified, but he did it in one take.

Q: Your movie reminded me of Deliverance

TS: You might have noticed that Bill Mckinney was in this film. The scene with the chef and his assistant, that was Bill Mckinney, he raped Ned Beatty, maybe that’s why you were reminded of Deliverance. I had to put in the reference with the banjo boy, and it takes place in Georgia. We’re getting a lot of comments from people about red state/blue state, and 9/11, but 2001 Maniacs was written before 9/11 and the election. I think some of the greatest horror films, the people that make them subconsciously tap into the zeitgeist. Whether it’s Romero tapping into civil rights by having a black hero, which was unheard of, and after surviving these horrible zombies, is then shot by rednecks.

Q: Has Herschell Gordon Lewis seen the movie?

TS: I don’t think he has. I don’t think Herschell likes me. I love Herschell, no matter what he thinks of me. What happened was, about 2 weeks before doing this movie, Herschell called me up with this great idea he had, that he should come to Georgia and direct all the murder scenes. That’s the most fun part, I mean I love Herschell, but come on! He hasn’t talked to me since. He liked the script though.

In the original opening of the film John Landis was Professor Ackerman. What happened was that we ran out of time, and we couldn’t use our big college set, and John Landis was there, so we shot it. When we cut it together, we needed a bigger opening, with Peter Stormare from Fargo, and John was off directing something at that time, but the alternate opening will be on the DVD.

Q: What was the budget for the film, and how did you secure it?

TS: Well, they tell me don’t tell, but it was 1.2 Million dollars, and 18 days. I don’t recommend that. My first film 1.2 million, 100 extras, horses, sheep, children, 12 principle speaking maniacs, 8 victims. I should have just done two guys in a room with a dead body and a saw. But we did it.

How did I secure the budget? This movie was up and running several times. But the last time it fell apart, Eli Roth was having this great success with Cabin Fever, and had just put together his production company Raw Nerve, with Scott Spiegel, and Boaz Yakin. I had just met Eli, and he loved the script, so he got Raw Nerve to put up half the financing. The hardest thing about independent filmmaking is getting that first dollar in. Nobody wants to be first, but everybody wants to be second.

When we were filming these movies, these young WB actors, I was going to call the movie 2001 nymphomaniacs…the behind the scenes crap at the hotel…and then when we were editing, the financiers and producers, I wanted to call it 2001 egomaniacs. The sequel will just be 2 maniacs in a room with a saw.

Q: What’s the next project you’re working on?

TS: Well Christa will be the Playmate centerfold, with the cover in November.

(Crowd erupts in applause.)

CC: Thanks Tim

TS: Well you’re following the tradition of Connie Mason, the star of the first Maniacs was a Playboy centerfold. Back in Los Angeles, a film I wrote that I’m producing starts today. It’s an urban horror film, it stars a very famous rapper, who I can’t name, but he hangs out in the dog pound…The next film I’m directing is called Driftwood. It’s the total opposite of this; it’s a teenage Cool Hand Luke set in an attitude adjustment camp, haunted by the ghost of a murdered youth. It’s got a little Devil’s Backbone. In America, they love to take teenagers and lock them away. If you’re under the age of 18, you’re really screwed. If your parents decide you’re into Marilyn Manson, and they like the Carpenters, they can do this. I found an abandoned juvenile corrections facility in LA, so that’s what’s next. And then the sequel, which is being written right now.

Q: Would you like to come back to Fantasia?

TS: I’d love to come back to Fantasia. You guys are great, you can just feel the passion here, it’s like a rock concert. I always thought horror movies are to film what rock and roll is to music. Horror movies are the rock and roll of film. Most people who are in to horror movies are into rock and roll. I guess that’s why growing up I loved monster movies, Fangoria, and Kiss, they all go hand in hand. That’s why it’s so great to have made a rock and roll horror movie.

Q: After seeing Lin Shaye in Dead End, and now 2001 Maniacs, I’m just wondering if there’s anything she won’t do? Did you have to direct her to lick the bloody rod?

TS: She made that up! I didn’t know she was going to do that. I had initially envisioned her as Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies, and she came to it and said no, I want to be an aging southern belle. That was her idea at the end to scream “You raped and dismembered my babies!” We were playing it so comically for most of the film, but the flipside reality is that these people were wronged, and did suffer. Lin Shaye is in the urban horror film I’m doing, and she’s in Driftwood, and she was in Detroit Rock City. She’s my good luck charm.

Thank you all for being the first paying virgin audience to 2001 Maniacs, hope you enjoyed it!

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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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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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The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

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Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

Directed by Alan Lougher


The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

  • Film
3.5

Summary

Ultimately chilling in nature!

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User Rating 3.29 (7 votes)
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