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Exclusive: The Cast and Crew of The Lodgers on Bringing Horror to 1920’s Ireland

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The last we wrote about Let Us Prey director Brian O’Malley’s The Lodgers, it was to notify everyone that it had begun filming in Ireland, much of the production taking place in Loftus Hall, reputedly one of the country’s most haunted locations. Since then, there hasn’t been any information about the period Gothic horror film.

That’s going to change as I had the chance to speak with O’Malley, producers Ruth Treacy and Julianne Ford, and stars Charlotte Vega and David Bradley about how they came aboard the supernatural horror/drama and what filming was like.

You can read everything below as well as get a first look at six exclusive images.

Synopsis:
The story follows a sister and brother haunted by a secret curse that forces them to remain in the large estate home left to them by their dead parents. But when a young man who falls in love with the sister tries to free her, his attempt sets off a deadly chain reaction.

Epic Pictures Group’s Gothic horror story was scripted by David Turpin and stars Charlotte Vega, Bill Millner, David Bradley (“The Strain”), Eugene Simon (“Game of Thrones”), and Moe Dunford.

For Charlotte Vega, who plays lead character Rachel, joining the cast of The Lodgers was a very welcome surprise. “I thought it was really, really beautiful from the start and there was something so special about the character that I really liked, but I just didn’t think they would see me as the part physically,” she told me.

Producer Julianne Ford touched on this, saying that for their original vision of Rachel, “…we were thinking black hair, pale skin, typical Goth style.” However, they soon realized that they had their Rachel, with Ford adding, “…she’s just so watchable and engaging so quite early on in the process, Brian and myself and [casting director] Manuel [Puro] identified that she was the strongest and so we cast her first.

Choosing Vega wasn’t a simple process. For one, she lives in Spain and submitted her first audition as a tape. Producer Ruth Treacy explains that Puro brought “…hundreds of different girls through self-tapes. We saw Charlotte quite early on, and I remember at the time saying, ‘She’s really got something; I think we should look at her.’

From there, they had to find the right Edward to play as her twin brother. Treacy adds, “Bill Millner hadn’t auditioned but then decided he would and he was there with Charlotte and the chemistry was great. When we saw the tape of the two of them, we said, ‘Oh my god, it has to be Bill.’

Vega explains that what drew her into the story was the character of Rachel herself. “I don’t think there are that many strong female leads around as there should be, especially for young women. When you’re kind of in your twenties, there’s not many roles like that; and when I read the script, there was just something so captivating about her, about her struggle throughout the film. She’s so passionate and so brave and she’s real,” she says. She elaborates, “…the whole film is partly about her being torn between her brother and the life she’s always known and freedom. So she risks everything, really, for a chance at that and that’s what I thought was so amazing about her.

After seeing her performance, Ford adamantly states, “We’re convinced that Charlotte is going to be a star,” a sentiment shared by “The Strain” actor David Bradley, who said, “I thought the young actors, Charlotte and Bill [Milner] and the others, were utterly terrific. They just had that eerie, otherworldly quality.”

As mentioned previously, much of the film was shot at Loftus Hall, a residence that is supposedly haunted by the Devil. While no one experienced any strange or supernatural events, they all spoke glowingly of the atmosphere and tone that it helped create. Bradley explained, “It was just such a wonderful location because in terms of acting, if you’re in a place like that, half of the work is done for you, you know what I mean? You’re already surrounded by the most amazing atmosphere.”

Treacy also spoke about the house, which she described as “perfect.” “As soon as we saw it, we knew it was the ideal location because it’s such a character itself,” she states while Ford joked, “…our production designer will kill me for saying that, but a lot of production values came from the house itself.”

O’Malley joined in and talked about the “hugely positive energy” that he felt during the shoot, saying, “…the house was presenting me with this magnificent palette.”

When I asked O’Malley to describe The Lodgers, he started laughing and said, “Oh man, this is the dilemma…Can we come back to that one?” About 15 minutes later, in the middle of answering a different question, he unknowingly offered the best response, telling me, “I set out to make an elegant, beautiful, delicate ghost story.

It’s the kind of movie that everyone I spoke with compared to films like The Others, The Orphanage, Pan’s Labyrinth, and similar other titles. At the end of the day, David Bradley summed up The Lodgers with the confident statement, “…[it] will have a strange, compelling magic about it.

the-lodgers

Disclaimer: Epic Pictures Group and Dread Central are affiliated. As a result, this post does not feature any opinions or personal commentary. We’re sticking to the facts here, folks!

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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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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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John Carpenter … NOT DEAD!

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We currently live in a world of false alarms. Within the last several days we’ve suffered everything from warnings of doomsday to Rotten Tomatoes accidentally celebrating the passing(!) and career of the very much still alive John Carpenter.

That’s right, kids; earlier today RT tweeted, “John Carpenter would have been 70 years old today! We celebrate his birthday by looking back at his five favorite films.” The tweet… has since been deleted.

We are here to tell you… John is very much alive! Alive and well, even. Carpenter himself responded on Twitter by alerting the site that “despite how it appears, I’m actually not dead.

This is great news indeed. One of horror’s best and brightest is still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now then, let’s take this time to celebrate the man’s birthday PROPERLY by talking about our favorite films of his. Speaking personally for myself…

Prince of Darkness is a movie that both unnerves and scares the hell out of me. One of Carpenter’s most thought-provoking works is just as frightening now as it was when we first received that grainy transmission as a dream from the year…

Tell us your favorite Carpenter movie in our comments section below.

…and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN!

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