• Fango Flashback: “THE SENTINEL”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-04 15:30:10 by Tim Janson

    THE EXORCIST spawned dozens of films dealing with devils, demons or Satanic cults in the 1970s, and one of the best but most underappreciated of those films was 1977’s THE SENTINEL. Directed by DEATH WISH’s Michael Winner, it opens with a young model, Alison Parker (Cristina Raines), moving into an old New York brownstone apartment whose only other tenant is a blind priest (John Carradine) who spends his days staring out his window.

    Not long after moving in, Alison begins experiencing strange phenomena—weird sounds coming from the supposedly empty apartment above, physical illness and dreams that flash back to her traumatic failed suicide attempt. It appears as if the building isn’t quite as uninhabited as she believed, as Alison meets several bizarre neighbors. Her boyfriend (Chris Sarandon) assures her everything is OK…just enough for you to know he’s up to no good.

    Alison finds out that she didn’t choose the apartment as much as it chose her. The apartment is in reality a gateway to hell, and the blind priest is the guardian who keeps the demons from escaping. But his time as Sentinel has come to and end and a new successor must be found, and it has to be a person who has attempted suicide—Alison! The other residents turn out to be demons that can only stop Alison by driving her to take her own life. The story climaxes in a march through hell itself for Alison’s life and soul.

    THE SENTINEL sparked controversy for its use of people with genuine physical deformities, rather than relying on makeup alone. While this approach may have been exploitative, it undeniably results in powerful, lingering images. The film features one of the great jump-out-of-your-seat moments in horror-movie history when Alison goes exploring the noises coming from another part of the house; in fact, this scene made Bravo’s list of THE 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

    What sets THE SENTINEL apart from so many other films of its ilk is its outstanding supporting cast that features several veteran and up-and-coming actors, including Carradine, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Jose Ferrer, Eli Wallach, Jerry Orbach, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum and Beverly D’Angelo (who provides one of the more memorable scenes). The weakest link in the cast is actually its female lead, Raines. In her mid-20s at the time, she didn’t have the chops to pull off what should have been a stronger female lead. This was at the height of the Women’s Liberation movement; Alison is independent, earning her own living and wanting her own apartment, but Raines plays the role too timidly. Fortunately, the fine supporting ensemble helps carry her, including Meredith, who plays another seemingly amiable tenant who hides his true malevolence.

    THE SENTINEL shows its age in its fashions and styles of the day, especially the ’70s-porn-star mustaches on many of the male characters, but its genuine chills and heart-thumping atmosphere have lost none of their potency. While it’s not in the same class as the best devil-themed films of the era, it’s certainly better than most with its terrifying imagery and superb cast.

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  • Monsters of Art

    Originally posted on 2010-09-04 15:23:21 by Freddie Young

    Scott Jackson is a talented artist who is truly inspired by the world of horror. His website, MonstermanGraphic.com, showcases the work he has done for several bands and musicians, such as Kiss and Megadeth, along with the custom artwork and logo designs he’s done for many publications. Jackson also runs The Monster Store, where he sells T-shirts sporting his designs as well as incredible posters depicting many horror icons. In this interview, he discusses when art changed from a hobby to a career, the origins of both his websites and other ventures and what his future holds.

    FANGORIA: Your artwork is incredible. Can you tell us when you first got the itch?

    SCOTT JACKSON: Thank you. As far back as 3 years old, you’d find me doodling on just about anything I could get my hands on. Especially with cartoon characters, growing into the comic heroes. With only a child’s skill, I gave most of them square heads—but made damn sure Superman had the trademark curlicue on his brow. I enjoyed the attention from entertaining people with these scrawlings, and ultimately got better at it.

    FANG: When did you realize that art was more than a hobby, and you wanted to take it professionally?

    JACKSON: I tried many different hobbies, usually entertaining folks—doing magic shows, screening horror movies in my garage, singing in a band…although they all came to the conclusion that I could draw better than sing! In junior high, I started hand-drawing hot-rod/hippie-culture posters in trade for lunch money. That was probably the first incarnation. While still in my teens, my “big break” was a $25 payment for a gig poster created for a rock band named Saffire.

    Shortly thereafter, many local bands in the area were hiring me for T-shirt and poster art. By college, I had already been commissioned for album covers by GWAR producer Ron Goudie for Numskull and Montrose’s Ronnie Montrose for a band he produced called Wrath. It was just happening, without much thought or choice. I decided at that time that I wanted to do album covers and band art for a living, and moved from Wisconsin to the west Coast.

    FANG: Who are your inspirations?

    JACKSON: Among them are Frank Frazetta, Richard Corben, Berni Wrightson, Robert Crumb, Basil Gogos, Jack Kirby, Marie Severin, Graham Ingles, Charles White III, Basil Wolverton, Wally Wood, Bill Elder…EC and 1970s underground comix, CREEPY, EERIE, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, TOMB OF DRACULA, HOUSE OF SECRETS, MAD magazine…and Wacky Packages. Mix that with old movie posters, album covers from the ’70s and ’80s, and this is what comes out.

    FANG: Tell us about the origins of MonstermanGraphic.com.

    JACKSON: Having moderate success with the Scott Jackson Studio for many years, creating 100 or so covers for ROCK ’N’ ROLL COMICS in the ’90s, I turned back to my early childhood love of horror movies and created the three-part HEAVY METAL MONSTERS comics anthology. About five or six years ago, I released a trading-card set through Diamond Comics titled MONSTER MASTERPIECES: THE PAINTED HISTORY OF THE HORROR FILM, doing cover-style illustrations based on 50 of the greatest horror movies of all time. Volume one had a good run, into second printings.

    It was a little over four years ago, after a chance meeting with Ari Lehman—Jason Voorhees from the first FRIDAY THE 13TH—that I decided to try a new studio name and website. Ari brought me to my first horror convention, and at that event I was commissioned by none other than Tom Savini, The Lurking Corpses, and the Dark Carnival Film Festival. Soon after, it was VAMPIRA: THE MOVIE art, Texas Fearfest, Monster-Mania website design and so on. Monsterman is definitely my calling.

    FANG: How long does it usually take for you to complete a piece of artwork?

    JACKSON: Three days to three weeks, depending on the complexity. I usually ask my clients for about a month to play it safe.

    FANG: You’ve done artwork for legendary bands like Kiss, Megadeth, Pink Floyd and many others. How did those deals come about? Did they come to you, or did you go to them?

    JACKSON: My art has been either directly hired or featured by those bands as a result from my work with ROCK ’N’ ROLL COMICS. In the case of Megadeth, as told to me, a young fan named Eddie Parker was backstage at a show, intent on getting his comic book autographed, but instead it was snatched by one of the band members. I shortly thereafter was contacted by Megadeth’s management for a T-shirt commission. Kiss had been involved with and dictated much of the three-part HARD ROCK comic series, and those covers were included in the leather-bound KISSTORY book. Pink Floyd’s official fan club approached our booth at San Diego Comic-Con requesting copies of the five-part “Pink Floyd Experience” series…and about a month later, I discovered a layout of the comics and cover art included in their SHINE ON boxed set.

    So I guess in each case, it was their choosing. It has been great to meet and receive compliments from the likes of Alice Cooper, Geoff Tate of Queensryche, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Glenn Danzig, Kirk Hammet of Metallica and Frank Zappa, among others, about the comics. Many of them I have signed, and I’m very grateful to in some way touch those artists who inspired me along the way.

    FANG: You also founded Chicago’s annual heavy metal conference, Metal Mergence, as well as the Annual Halloween Art Exhibit. Can you tell us about those ventures?

    JACKSON: OK, let’s see…a love for all three genres—horror, metal and Halloween—initially inspired these happenings, but you could say they were born more from desperation. As a commercial/comic-book artist moving to Chicago from the West Coast, I didn’t really fit into the fine art scene so predominant in that area, and having minimal or no connections to the music scene whatsoever, it spurred me on to create an event that would not only advertise my own work, but speed up the process of meeting who I needed to connect to. The Annual Halloween Art Exhibit started meagerly in a little studio, and it’s now in its 12th year and has been hosted everywhere from TransWorld’s Haunted Attractions Show to some of the most reputable galleries, featuring over 65 artists from around the country.

    Metal Mergence began as a whim to gather music professionals in the heavy metal industry, kinda like a mini-NAMM show), and it’s now in its fourth year, getting response from national labels and bands. This is all just so amazing to me, and I’m extremely grateful for all the support and love from the friends, artists, bands and sponsors who have seen it through.

    FANG: Social networking has become the new method of self-promotion. How have MySpace and Facebook helped you and your artwork?

    JACKSON: Yes, yes…Facebook and MySpace can never be underestimated as great promotional tools. I use them both in the capacity that they drive potential customers to my website, and in many cases act as mini-versions of the site itself. Both of them have helped out immeasurably.

    FANG: Have you ever considered doing animation? Your art would really kill as a cartoon.

    JACKSON: Thank you. Yes, I’ve always dreamed of seeing one of my paintings animated—although I know myself well enough that I simply don’t have the patience to redraw frames as an animator does [laughs]. The focus of my craft has been to make one overall statement for the story or image, and that’s why I love doing cover work so much.

    FANG: What is the future for Scott Jackson and MonstermanGraphic.com?

    JACKSON: I’m currently enjoying the latest requests for DVD and CD art, along with website design. The future is to pursue my on-line Monster Store, continue building the events I’ve created and finish out the Monster Masterpieces, which will be all compiled into book form. As long as folks are diggin’ the work, I’m happy to contribute to the genre that has given me so much pleasure while connecting with fans at the conventions. Retiring as an art teacher couldn’t make me happier.

    FANG: Do you have any advice for potential artists out there who want to create a brand name for themselves?

    JACKSON: 1. Decide exactly what it is that you want to offer or work for. 2. Pay attention to the reactions you’re getting from your work. 3. Be flexible in your approach to things. If something isn’t working, try something else. 4. Find those artists you like who are successful, and model yourself after them…they must be doing something right. 5. If you can’t get hired immediately, start your own thing.

    Check out Jackson’s work on-line at Monsterman Graphic, The Monster Store, MySpace and Facebook.

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  • “SO HORROR-BLE” (Comic Review)

    Originally posted on 2010-09-04 15:14:35 by Jorge Solis

    SO BUTTONS PRESENTS: SO HORROR-BLE, from Alchemy Comix, is a quirky collection of short stories covering paranoia, night-walkers and the zombie apocalypse. Equally scary and funny, these fast-paced tales of terror are surefire bits of entertainment.

    The first entry, “In Need of a Hand,” delivers out-of-the-ordinary insights about the parallels between relationships and decomposition. At a diner, the narrator recounts his recent road trip to Santa Barbara. His lovely relationship with Lara starts out wonderful until they end up at a sunny beach, where events take a drastic turn for the worst. When they stumble upon a dead body lying on the shore, mistrust and tension kick in to the max. The decaying carcass brings out the worst in the two lovebirds, who accuse each other of ruining their romance.

    In the second entry, “In the Old Fashioned Way,” a dismayed reporter analyzes the recent phenomenon of vampires demanding equal civil rights. Why are the bloodsuckers perceived as heroes in this universe? Because the unwanted dregs of society are seen as a solution to their food intake. The reporter must decide if he should expose the conspiracy or become a hated enemy to the vampire clan.

    The best of the collection, “In the Head, Please!” is a unique twist on the zombie genre. Insanity has just taken command of Morty’s mind. Past memories are clashing with the present ones, distorting his perception—this is what happens when someone becomes undead. The victim loses control of their body, but the mind is still alive, helplessly watching as their walking corpse feeds on others.

    The last tale is the hilarious “In the Heat of Battle,” which is recommended for movie enthusiasts. In this story, a homeless bum is playing chess with a slow-thinking zombie. While playing, the vagrant, who also happens to be a film fanatic, debates the winners of the 2010 Academy Awards. This guy incessantly discusses each film, from THE HURT LOCKER to THE BLIND SIDE, while the ghoul struggles to move his chess pieces.

    The cover, by artist Danny Hellman, is a spot-on and colorful homage to EC Comics. The mishmash of artwork inside ranges from cartoonish, by T.J. Kirsch, to hyperrealism, by David Beyer Jr. Each narrative sprang from the talented mind of Jonathan Baylis, who was an associate editor at Topps Comics—and some of them, especially “In the Head, Please!” have enough potential to be expanded into features.

    SO HORROR-BLE is a fun-filled anthology that will leave you wanting more, its variety of approaches delivering both shocks and laughs. This comic will officially premiere at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD the weekend of September 10-12; you can also pre-order it from the official website.

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    Originally posted on 2010-09-04 15:10:56 by Bekah McKendry

    FANGORIA has a few copies of THE ROCK: ED WOOD OF THE 21ST CENTURY to give out to a few lucky fans. The double-DVD set focuses on David “The Rock” Nelson, a filmmaker who became known for directing low-budget, schlocky but fun horror films during the 1990s.

    This release from November Fire Recordings includes a documentary on Nelson, two of his full-length films and tons of other special features. To enter, send an e-mail to rebekah@fangoria.com and be sure to type “THE ROCK” in the subject line. Please include the following:


    E-mail Address

    Mailing Address


    And let us know if you would like to receive the FANGORIA weekly e-mail newsletter, which brings you the latest in horror news and Fango events. Good luck!

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  • New “DEVIL” clip

    Originally posted on 2010-09-03 21:19:49 by Samuel Zimmerman

    A brand new clip from DEVIL popped up today, hit the jump to find out what bit her..

    The film, produced by M. Night Shyamalan and directed by John Erick and Drew Dowdle (QUARANTINE) sees a group of strangers trapped in an elevator- only one of them just may be the as evil as they come. Check out FANGORIA #297 (on sale this month) for our preview of the film and keep an eye out for an exclusive interview with star Bokeem Woodbine right here on FANGORIA.com.

    DEVIL hits theaters September 17. 

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  • New “ATOMIC BRAIN INVASION” pics, premiere details

    Originally posted on 2010-09-03 20:28:28 by

    The ATOMIC BRAIN INVASION is getting closer! And New England director Richard Griffin sent along a few exclusive new photos from his sci-fi/horror/drive-in homage, to go with info on the movie’s world premiere next weekend.

    Written by Griffin and Guy Benoit and produced by Ted Marr, ATOMIC BRAIN INVASION is set in the village of New Shoreham, where evil cerebrum creatures arrive to kidnap Elvis Presley (Brandon Luis Aponte), who’s in town for a concert. Can a group of local teens (Sarah Nicklin, David Lavallee, Jr., Daniel Lee White, Colin Carlton and Michael Reed) and the local grease monkey (Rich Tretheway) stop them? Find out when the flick premieres next Friday-Saturday, September 10-11 at Foxboro, MA’s Orpheum Theater Foxboro (1 School Street), with screenings at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. both days. Griffin and his cast and crew will be on hand to introduce the shows. Watch the ATOMIC BRAIN trailer below the photos; for more info on this and other productions of Griffin and Marr’s Scorpio Film Releasing, check out the company’s official website, and see ATOMIC BRAIN INVASION’s Facebook page here.

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  • Ridley Scott talks “ALIEN” prequels

    Originally posted on 2010-09-03 20:23:10 by Samuel Zimmerman

    Everyone is anxious to see just what Ridley Scott will do with his return to the ALIEN franchise, so while not terribly detailed, this batch of quotes is pretty interesting, especially since it looks like he’s trying to best James Cameron’s sequel. Hit the jump for what he had to say..

    Scott spoke to The Independent about his entire career, and this excerpt towards the end is what deals directly with the upcoming ALIEN films:

    “The anticipation for his next project is building to fever pitch: it will be a two-part prequel to Alien, shot in 3D. Scott was never asked to make a sequel to ALIEN; that honour went to James Cameron, before a further two sequels and two ALIEN VS PREDATOR spin-offs milked the franchise dry. But with the Lost co-creator Damon Lindleof polishing the first prequel’s script, you can sense the competitor in Scott, desperate to put his stamp back on the film series that launched him. ‘Jim’s raised the bar and I’ve got to jump to it,’ he says, in a friendly jibe at Cameron. ‘He’s not going to get away with it.’

    “Set 30 years before the 1979 original, so with no room for Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, the prequels will explore the origins of the deadly aliens. ‘The film will be really tough, really nasty,’ he notes. ‘It’s the dark side of the moon. We are talking about gods and engineers. Engineers of space. And were the aliens designed as a form of biological warfare? Or biology that would go in and clean up a planet?’ 

    I love Ridley Scott as a filmmaker and when he’s at the top of his game, it’s incredible. I also can’t see a reason he would want to cheaply return to ALIEN, it’s not as if he’s in a crappy position right now, so let’s hope he’s going at this with tenacity and actually makes some good films. 

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  • Vote for “PIRANHA 3D” sequel victims!

    Originally posted on 2010-09-03 20:00:27 by

    Dimension Films’ announcement that there would be a sequel to PIRANHA 3D came before the movie took a dive at the box office, but apparently the company is still intent on making it. And it’ll be interactive in ways that go beyond the 3-D visuals.

    According to an item in today’s New York Post, there will be an on-line contest in which fans can vote on which celebrity they’d like to see devoured or otherwise dispatched in PIRANHA 3D II. This is apparently in response to favorable audience reaction to the graphic demise of Jerry O’Connell’s sleazy video-producer character (his most valued organ gets eaten in your face), whose persona is close enough to that of GIRLS GONE WILD impresario Joe Francis that Francis threatened to sic his legal piranhas on the producers. Apparently, Dimension expects lots of votes for assorted castmembers from JERSEY SHORE and the REAL HOUSEWIVES shows. Sounds like the makings of a bloody Situation! We’ll keep you posted on where you’ll be able to vote.

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  • Terrifyingly Gnarly: Wes Craven, Week 2: “CHILLER”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-03 19:30:02 by Samuel Zimmerman

    Quite recently, a blog went up on FANGORIA taking a handful of legendary horror directors to task for essentially riding the waves of their legacy and failing to continuously and contemporarily put out excellent work. No doubt, it’s an interesting theory worth debating and investigating. However, in my eyes, its author made one fatal mistake (and no, it wasn’t that confrontational opening line—although that was slightly devoid of taste). Nick sought to claim that Wes Craven neither is, nor ever was, great. I’m under the belief that no matter how you feel about many of his films, that’s simply a falsehood. So with seven weeks until the filmmaker’s latest, MY SOUL TO TAKE, hits theaters, I’ve decided to look at one of his movies a week (excluding the landmarks like LAST HOUSE, NIGHTMARE and SCREAM) to showcase that even during misfires and his lesser praised works, Craven displays talent, chops and incredible imagination (see last week’s entry). Read on for week two: my examination of his made-for-television CHILLER.

    I had taken a bit of a gamble on this week’s piece, choosing a film I was wholly unfamiliar with in Craven’s oeuvre. I hoped it wouldn’t be one I came out hating on the other side, failing to see the positives of his contribution to, especially considering it’s a film made specifically for television and one he isn’t credited with writing. CHILLER is another probe of the potential horrors of our own technological and scientific progression as a society and especially how that may interfere with the natural or spiritual course of things. In the film, wealthy company man Miles Creighton (THE WARRIORS’ Michael Beck) is the victim of a terrible accident. and due to the lack of sufficient medical procedures at the time, is unable to be revived. Miles’ mother, sick with grief, opts to cryogenically freeze her son until a time when medicine has caught up to his ailment. Ten years later, when a malfunction causes Miles’ chamber to thaw out, Doctors Stricklin and Collier are successfully able to return the man to the land of the living, albeit as we come to find out, without his soul.

    I’ve owned a very low-quality pan and scan version of the film for many years now, so when it was time to actually see CHILLER, it was initially hard to settle into the film. Through no fault of the filmmakers, it was visually dark, the audio was often muddled and the colors were certainly not as they were meant to be. When revisiting something of a more ridiculous nature, all of these qualities can add to the fun, but CHILLER is a bit of a serious and subdued thriller, which makes the traits of a god-awful transfer more of a hindrance. Beck’s creepfest of a performance amongst other strong points, though, helps one look past the home video release’s detriments.

    Miles quickly returns to and reassumes his position as the head of the family company, however, his conscience and moral standings seem to have stayed in the frozen chamber. He reneges on the company’s longstanding charitable donations, kills his dog  (who, of course, very much senses something’s wrong with the undead Miles from the beginning), fires and murders his father’s best friend who had kept the business afloat and profitable, and physically and sexually assaults one of his employees.

    While it’s obvious Craven was working within the confines of television (limited budget, what he could and couldn’t show), you could see why he’d be taken with J.D. Feigelson’s script, namely its keeping in line with Craven’s interest in some sort of social commentary and indictment of rich, upper class, suburban living. One doesn’t have to dig incredibly deep to see the subtext of a man with no soul running a faceless, corporate entity, shunning family and loved ones, refuting god and the church, all in favor of selfish and sadistic desires. Almost every negative aspect of a greed-laden mid-‘80s yuppie/privileged child is addressed in the film. Doing anything in favor of a profit? Check. Backstabbing and betraying those who’ve stood by you? Check. Offering a female employee a higher paying and more powerful position, but only after violently and sexually demeaning her, plus treating her like an object? Check.

    But not only does Craven touch on the practices of such a person, but the environment that enables them. Miles’ mother, Marion (Beatrice Straight of POLTERGEIST) is a woman full of denial and blinded by her perfect son returning to her. In fact, it seems everyone else can sense something is wrong with the boy—most prominently, Stacey (POPCORN and THE STEPFATHER’s lovely Jill Schoelen) who had become sort of an adopted daughter to Marion after Miles’ death, but didn’t necessarily grow up in the exclusive lifestyle. And when Reverend Penny (a nice appearance from GOODFELLAS’ Paul Sorvino) tries to intervene, Miles literally runs him and his spirituality over.

    Aside from what’s underneath, however, does CHILLER work as a film? Yes and no. It’s not incredible in any sense, and I definitely won’t look back on it as fondly as THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, but it’s solid at times, most often thanks to the eerie atmosphere Craven creates around Miles. The character is almost a supernatural precursor to Patrick Bateman and the director’s photography of him (specifically by the fire, watching, ready to pounce on Stacey) coupled with Beck’s acting is highly effective. The supporting cast all put in strong work as well, except for Straight who at times comes off a bit too melodramatic and almost a caricature of a wealthy mother. But then again, that might’ve been what she was going for. CHILLER doesn’t and didn’t break any new ground, and the scares are better when they’re subtle and performance-based rather than the often telegraphed “jump” shocks, but its synthy score and high points definitely make it worthy of discovery. I just hope there’ll be an opportunity for a better looking CHILLER than what’s available on the market now.

    You can read the blog that incited my seven week response right here, as well as check out my initial idea and drop me suggestions for what Craven films you’d like to see me tackle here.

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  • Tom Savini is now a “SADIST”; new trailer

    Originally posted on 2010-09-03 19:07:12 by

    Back here, we first gave you the news about SWINE, an independent horror feature starring Tom Savini that marks the feature debut of short filmmaker/Fango scribe Jeremiah Kipp. The movie has since been retitled THE SADIST and its first trailer is on-line; you can see it after the jump.

    Scripted by producers Frank Wihbey and Joe Pisani with Pedro Ondrush, THE SADIST stars Savini as a combat veteran with serious psychological damage who stalks campers and hunters in the woods. Wihbey also co-stars alongside Mackenzie Christine Hawkins, Miguel Lopez, Jerry Murdock, Santo Fazio, Zoe Daelman Chlanda, Carl Burrows and Tom Reid; THE BLOOD SHED’s Alan Rowe Kelly served as line producer, with VINDICATION’s Dominick Sivilli as cinematographer and THE ROOST’s Daniel J. Mazikowski on the makeup FX. We’ll bring you more on THE SADIST in the near future.


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  • Exclusive pics, comments: “BUNYAN”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-03 18:21:16 by


    A lot of big guys with axes have stalked through horror movies over the years, but the biggest yet may be the titular menace in BUNYAN, a Kinetic Filmworks production directed by filmmaker/FX artist Gary Jones. He gave us a bit of info on the movie, and producer Jeff Miller supplied us with a couple of exclusive pics.

    BUNYAN, which recently wrapped its main shoot in the Los Angeles area, is a horrific takeoff on the legend of Paul Bunyan, who in this scenario is a malevolent, 15-foot-tall human monster that terrorizes a boot camp for first-time offenders in Minnesota. Scripted by Jones, Miller and Jason Ancona, it stars Joe Estevez, Thomas Downey from Jones’ JOLLY ROGER: MASSACRE AT CUTTER’S COVE, Tim Lovelace from Jones’ MOSQUITO, Amber Connor, Jesse Kove, Kristina Kopf (first photo), Cliff Williams, Victoria Ramos, Jill Evyn (taking a stunt fall in the second photo) and Ryan Hooks. More cast will be added for additional filming to take place this fall. The FX were created by Robert Kurtzman’s Creature Corps, with additional contributions by Acme Effects, DEADGIRL’s Jim Ojala and Michael Kallio.

    “I’m really excited about BUNYAN,” Jones tells Fango, “and I must say I have the good fortune to be working with this really talented and cool, cool cast and crew. A lot of my films have been giant-creature features, and I’ve kind of been labeled as the MOSQUITO and SPIDERS and CROCODILE 2 guy. BUNYAN is my first giant humanoid monster movie, and of course—I must quote my old buddy Ron Asheton here—‘He’s big, man, really big!’ Bunyan does a lot of killing and causes plenty of destruction along the way, but is a monster you still have just a little bit of sympathy for—like King Kong.

    “We are using every old and new special effects technique to bring BUNYAN to life,” he continues. “There are going to be some big surprises for the audience, so stay tuned, horror fans! You won’t be sorry.” You can see more pics and find more info at Kinetic’s official website.

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  • Fango Flashback: “COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE”

    Originally posted on 2010-09-03 17:50:04 by Tony Timpone

    I’m a sucker for seeing vintage frights on the big screen, and if you’re a New Yorker, it has been a cinematic feast in the Big Apple these last few weeks. The Film Forum recently concluded its 3-D fest and then directly segued into a gimmick-laden William Castle salute (ending this Monday), while Lincoln Center has a bunch of cool screenings coming, starting with Ridley Scott’s ALIEN on Monday (see item here). Meanwhile, over at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s repertory house, the ongoing Bela Lugosi’s Dead, Vampires Live Forever festival (see item here) will be running till September 30. That’s where I caught 1970’s COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE on the big screen for the first time last week, and dug every grindhouse minute of it.

    Just like today’s modern vampire craze with TWILIGHT and TRUE BLOOD, ’70s audiences had no shortage of bloodsuckers, with DARK SHADOWS and THE NIGHT STALKER staking out the boob tube and Christopher Lee’s Dracula putting a bite on drive-ins. Legend has it that COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE—about a cultured Romanian blood-drainer who settles in modern-day LA—started out as a softcore movie before star Robert Quarry convinced the producers to take a legit approach to the material. Smart move. Reportedly shot for a meager $64,000 (with Quarry only earning $1,200 for his lead role!), the film became a hit after American International Pictures acquired it for release in 1970. Plotwise, writer/director Bob Kelljan closely follows the template set by Tod Browning’s 1931 DRACULA, with the aristocratic Yorga settling into his new mansion while preying on two romantic couples. A blood doctor (Roger Perry), suspecting a supernatural menace afoot, matches wits with Yorga—not unlike the verbal dueling of Bela Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan in DRACULA. And there’s also a mute henchman named Brudah (Edward Walsh) serving as the Renfield substitute, and a climax where the good guys sneak into the villain’s lair to put a stop to the bloodshed.

    The unflappable Quarry sets COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (originally lensed as THE LOVES OF COUNT IORGA, the onscreen title on the BAM print) apart from other typical fanged fare from the period. The guy exudes a commanding screen presence, has a great air about him, but can also launch into Lee-style animal ferocity when his back gets pushed up against the wall. The California-born, classically trained actor wisely plays the role straight and sans accent, and seems to relish his verbal sparring with Perry and company, with the Count almost too proud to hide his true nature. This vampire, alas, also has a romantic streak, and keeps a harem of turned lasses in his basement. Both COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE and, even more, its year-later sequel THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA emphasize the vampire’s equal needs for love and blood, angles further explored in 1992’s BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (also playing BAM) and THE TWILIGHT SAGA, to name a few. Oh, the eternal loneliness… The film’s best shock scene finds the bitten (and smitten) Erica (Judy Lang) discovered gorily feasting on an eviscerated cat by her startled friends.

    Symptomatic of its budget, not a whole lot happens in COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE. There’s a lot of talk between the protagonists, plus a long travelogue scene with two of our heroes wandering the sunny streets of Los Angeles (fun for nostalgia/time-capsule reasons, though). Yorga’s eventual demise comes a little too abruptly, and the film’s surprise ending probably worked much better 40 years ago than it does today.

    Director Kelljan went on to co-write and direct YORGA’s better-budgeted sequel and SCREAM, BLACULA SCREAM, as well as tons of ’70s TV action shows like CHARLIE’S ANGELS and STARSKY & HUTCH. Actor Michael Murphy, whose love-van-driving character suffers Yorga’s violent wrath, carved himself a nice Hollywood career after this exploitation debut, appearing in such diverse films as Woody Allen’s MANHATTAN, Tim Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS and Wes Craven’s SHOCKER. Quarry, alas, never emerged as the ’70s successor to Vincent Price, which AIP unsuccessfully groomed him for. Audience tastes changed, and by 1973, tuxedo-wearing monsters were just not as scary anymore when compared to devil-possessed 13-year-old girls.

    Watch for a Fango Flashback on THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA next week, and check out the classic Quarry (who died in 2009) interview in Fango #64.

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