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WonderCon 2016: iZombie with Rob Thomas and Friends!

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There are certain shows that everyone involved with just seems happy to be a part of. Not in that “just happy to be getting paid” way that minor stars of yesteryear feel when charging $20 for a selfie (although I’m sure getting paid is nice).

It’s that fresh, Season Three feel, when they are well out of the realm of getting canned too early but not yet fatigued by a dozen seasons and a hundred contrived plotlines. Side characters are all getting their own development, villains turn to heroes, heroes to villains, and anything still feels possible without yet being dumb.

Never has that been more true than when I sat down in the “iZombie” press room at WonderCon 2016. Every actor and show have their own personalities, but I’ve never seen a room of people so dedicated to just having a good time with it. Rahul Kohli was wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt, David Anders was discussing the finer points of dying his hair white, Robert Buckley was drawing on tables and doing his darndest to distract the rest of the cast, and Rose McIver was the beacon of warm sunshine she always is.

It was the kind of genuine excitement of people who love their job. And it’s easy to see why. Not only is “iZombie” a hit, but the top-notch writing of executive producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright has given them opportunity to grow both as characters and actors. Robert Buckley had a lot to say on this particular topic:

Robert: When I first signed onto “iZombie,” I wasn’t sure what was in store for the character. After filming the first few episodes, I was pretty sure that I was just eye candy. I wanted to do more, but you do what you can, and I figured I could come to terms with being the typical CW conflicted love interest. I think it was around when we were wrapping Episode Six that Rob came to me and said, “So I had some ideas about Major’s character and where I want to take him. Want to talk about it?” I was like, “Hell yeah, man!” It’s just amazing to go from playing a part to really making a character.

David Anders sat down after Buckley and had a similar take on the topic:

David: It seems sometimes like I’ll forever be cast as the moustache-twirling villain. It’s fine; moustache twirling is fun. What I love about Blaine is the kind of fun I can have when twirling my ‘stache. He’s a more complex character, but he proves that doesn’t always mean good. He definitely has more weakness in this season, but he isn’t about to do a full 180 because it would make the plot smoother. We’re having fun seeing where the character is going in his own way, and it isn’t the way most normal stories would.

David Anders

Rose McIver made my life immeasurably more delightful when she sat down next. She had a similar sentiment to the rest of the cast:

Rose: What I love about playing Liv is that I get to go in so many different directions. I mean, this is a character whose personality changes in every episode. On top of that, she’s growing this superhero complex, which presents its own challenges. At the core, she’s still Liv though, just a girl who was thrust into all of this without any say. Every time I portray the character, I have to layer it through all of those lenses. It’s honestly really tough but makes for a role unlike any other. It helps me grow in my craft but is also just a ton of fun. We have a great cast and amazing writers, so it feels more like an adventure than a job.

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It’s refreshing to see a cast so pumped about the show they are working on. It was clear that everyone had a ton of respect for their peers, and that went triple for the show’s superman creator, writer, and producer Rob Thomas. Rob is one of the most likable men I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing and, in an industry full of disingenuous Hollywood types, is a genuinely honest and all around swell guy. Here’s what he had to say about the future of “iZombie”:

Rob: Working on this show has been incredible. No one on the crew is difficult to work with, and everyone shows up every day excited to see what we have in store for them. The show has evolved in a really unique way, which was important to me from the start. We were inspired by Chris Roberson’s comic book series but have always maintained a loose association. We had a distinct identity from the start, and it’s given us a lot of freedom to make this our own. We still might pull from it from time to time. But you’re not going to suddenly see were-terriers in Season Three. Maybe in Season Eight, but who knows what’ll happen by then?

Rob Thomas

The topic soon switched to the format of the show and how we would see that evolve in the future:

Rob: For the last two episodes of this season, they’re going with a serial format. There will be no “case-of-the-week.” We’re just focusing on the characters and main story. This was born out of necessity, so don’t take this as us abandoning the procedural format. Basically, I was naive and expected us to get a 22-episode season. To my surprise, instead of getting a nine-episode backend coming out of our hiatus, we got a six. So instead of being smart and trimming it down to fit that, I just shoved it all into the last two episodes. It’s a really explosive finale, so I think it’ll work out. I like the procedural format, so we’ll be going back to that when Season Three starts. Nothing concrete, but I have some idea where we might go with that.

The whole thing felt like a wrap party, and I was half expecting someone to crack open a bottle of Patrón and start pouring shots. It’s always a great experience to see a cast that’s just as excited as the fans about the show.

If you haven’t seen “iZombie,” you should check it out. It’s dark, funny, bloody, and has a lot of heart. It’s got something for everyone without feeling bland. Hell, even my dad loves it. Whether you’re already a fan or just checking it out now, let me know below what you think of it and what you’re hoping for in Season Three!

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Like Me – Will You Like This Dystopian Thriller?

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Starring Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden

Directed by Robert Mockler


While Like Me is not dystopian in the classic science-fiction sense, it does aptly put the downer vibe across. If the present is abysmal, then the future is downright hopeless. We learn this as we follow an unhinged teenage loner called Kiya (Addison Timlin) on a hollow crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. At first the world “likes” her—with the exception of YouTube rival Burt (Ian Nelson), who disdainfully denounces her viral videos—but pride goes before the fall, and Kiya’s descent is spectacular.

If you’ve peeped the trailer for Like Me, then you’re probably expecting a horror movie. I mean, they’ve got the requisite menacing masked baddie and they’ve got genre icon Larry Fessenden in a major role—those are a couple of the key ingredients, right? Yes they are, but this simmering, shimmering stew of Natural Born Killers, Excision and King Kelly, it boils down to a whole lotta nothing. Like Me is sort of a drama, kind of a road trip flick, and almost a thriller. It succeeds at none yet does stand on its own as a compelling collection of cool visuals and pertinent performances. But is that enough?

While Kiya is a compelling character on the surface, there’s barebones beneath. Sure, she’s a Millennial mind-fed on random online clips and snappy soundbites—but what turned her into a psychopath? Was she born that way? Is social media to blame? We’ll never know, because not a hint is given. I don’t mind ambiguity, but even a morsel would have been welcome in this case. As Kiya ramps up her reckless exhibitionistic extremes, the stakes are never raised. In the end, who cares? Maybe that’s the point.

A word of warning: If you plan on watching this movie while chomping snacks…don’t. There is stomach-turning scene after vomit-inducing scene of orgiastic easting, binging, and the inevitable purging. I’m sure it’s all metaphorical mastication, a cutting comment on disposable consumption. I get it. But I don’t wanna look at it, again and again and again. Having said that, Like Me is an experimental film and in its presentation of such grotesquery, it’s quite accomplished. Montages, split-screens and jittered motions are scattered throughout, showing us all sorts of unpleasant things…Kudos to the editor.

I didn’t hate Like Me. But I do think one has to be in the mood for a movie such as this. It’s not an easy or entertaining watch, but it is a peculiar and thought-provoking one. There’s some style and mastery behind the camera, and I am curious to see what first-time writer-director Rob Mockler comes up with next.

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Last Toys on the Left

Funko Giving Jurassic Park the Pop! Treatment as Only They Can

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It is no secret we’re BIG fans of Funko’s Pop! Vinyl line here at DC HQ, and now they’ve announced a new series that has made our hearts just about burst… read on for a look at Pop! Movies: Jurassic Park, heading our way in February. The regular figures are awesome on their own, but wait until you see the exclusives!

From the Funko Blog:
Jurassic Park fans, get excited! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic film’s appearance on the silver screen, Jurassic Park is coming to Pop!

This series of Pop! features paleontologist Dr. Grant, Jurassic Park CEO John Hammond, mathematician Dr. Malcolm, and embryo-smuggler Dennis Nedry. (Keep an eye out for Dr. Ellie Sattler in Pop! Rides coming soon.)

We couldn’t forget the Jurassic Park dinosaurs! Featured in this line are the great T. rex, Velociraptor, and Dilophsaurus. Look for the Dilophosaurus chase, a rarity of 1-in-6.

Be on the lookout for exclusives. At Target you can find a wounded Dr. Malcolm, and the Dennis Nedry and Dilophosaurus 2-pack is available only at Entertainment Earth.

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
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Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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