Category Archives: Horror

UNDERRATED GEMS to watch: Darlin’

Darlin’ (2019)

Starring Lauryn Canny, Bryan Batt, Nora-Jane Noone, Cooper Andrews, and Pollyanna McIntosh

Written and Directed by Pollyanna McIntosh

I checked out Darlin,’ and I will have to say that this film is ambitious. Like its predecessor The Woman, it continues the concept of a feral person being transformed into a “good woman.” Its mix of social commentary, coming-of- age drama, and gory horror(even though its less graphic than The Woman) makes this a decently executed story. I was expecting a better payoff towards the end, but I will have to commend the filmmakers for tackling a provocative subject. This comes highly recommended. My score: 8.5/10.

 

2021 Oscars Postponed by two months due to Coronavirus Pandemic

With the world adjusting to the Coronavirus pandemic with various events being canceled and the deployment of several health guidelines, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced its 93rd Academy Awards event has been postponed.

The announcement came last week the 2021 Oscars which was scheduled for Feb. 28 will be delayed by two months and the new date being April 25, 2021. This announcement is in line with Variety’s report in May in which the report said the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was planning on delaying the upcoming event due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released by Dawn Hudson (CEO) and David Rubin (Academy President), they said: “For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control. This coming Oscars and the opening of our new museum will mark a historic moment, gathering movie fans around the world to unite through cinema”.

Also, the academy announced that the annual Governors Awards gala scheduled to take place in November has been postponed with a date later to be announced. Also, the opening of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures building in  Los Angeles, California has been pushed back to April next year.

Alongside postponing the date of their major events, the organization also updated its eligibility rules for the 2021 Oscars Academy Awards. In the new rules, feature films that want to be nominated for an award must have a release date between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb 28. 2021. The new submission deadline for specialty categories has been pushed to Dec. 30, 2020, while submission deadline for general categories (such as Best Picture, Original song, Best Actor and Actress, etc.) is now Jan. 15, 2021.

The novel Coronavirus outbreak has caused a lot of changes in the entertainment industry. Many studios have turned to digital distribution platforms for the release of some of their movies due to the shutdown of movie theaters. Some other studios however decided to postponed their upcoming blockbuster movies with dates to be announced when movie cinemas reopen.

There is still no certainty what the future holds for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards telecast but we will definitely keep you updated. 

Los Angeles Sets Strict Rules for TV and Film Production Restart

With many countries now switching from total lockdown to partial lockdown, many activities have now been allowed to resume albeit under strict and extensive regulations.

Film and TV Productions is one such activity set to resume again in some states as early as Friday although with extensive regulations issued by Los Angeles Country. This new extensive regulation is not much of a surprise considering professional football has also restarted behind closed doors.

While productions are allowed to restart Friday, 19th of July, many producers would probably only start filming around July or August.

As would be expected, the first major rule is for cast and crew to maintain social distancing while on sets. The county also sets the use of face masks and coverings as an important detail not to be overlooked by cast and crew members as actors and musicians who cannot perform with face-covering on are expected to be eight feet apart. Furthermore, it mandates that only essential cast crew be present on set at any given time with the directive that actors must wash their hands before shooting any scene.

Also, it discourages all prolonged physical contact that arises from sex and fight scenes and mandates that all actors and crew keep information about any film shooting from the public. The country also directs that all crowd scenes are discouraged.

The rules also direct that makeup artist are only allowed on set when the actors cannot apply makeup to fit the scene. Also, Craft service buffets are temporarily forbidden on all sets.

Talk Shows and Sitcoms also looking to film new scenes in Los Angeles that must follow new rules. The rules now mandate that audience members must sit six feet apart and must not occupy more than 25% of the available space. It also allows paid staff and crew to serve as audience members. And capping it all, the rules set that only the same group of the audience present at the restart of filming are allowed for subsequent productions.

Although the entertainment industry released some rules for crews and cast to follow when production restarts, the rules released by the county are more strict. This is because the entertainment industry task force didn’t mandate many of their rules like the county did.

Following the release of the entertainment industry’s rules and guidelines, Donna Langley – Chairman Universal Film, stated in a statement that the rules, in his words, are “a significant step in getting our industry back to work in Los Angeles County”.

In his statement, the chairman expressed gratitude to the County Board of Supervisors as well as the county’s mayor for their commitment to the region’s economic recovery. He also expressed gratitude to the County’s Public Health Department for their efforts to keep their region safe. He then went ahead to say “Teams across the Studios, production companies, guilds, and unions in every facet of our business have shown and will continue to show innovation and creativity in bringing film, TV and digital production safely back to Los Angeles”.

Though production restart is imminent, there are still several things that will come into play which might delay restart to mid or late August. One of the obstacles production restart faces includes the detailed protocols all guilds and unions are yet to agree to.

Another major obstacle many productions will face pending the restart is whether or not they will be able to obtain insurance. Bob Jellen, the managing director for entertainment at HUB international believes many productions that were underway before the lockdown would be spared from “additional costs that are required to make filming safer for the actors and crew”. In other words, this obstacle is only for new productions that have not yet started filming before COVID-19 lockdown that caused productions to stop. Obtaining insurance is even going to be more difficult for independent filmmakers.

Many in the film making industry have expressed concerns about the difficulty many new productions will face when trying to secure insurance. To this end, Congress has introduced a bill that gives insurance companies the power to sell policies covering the coronavirus shutdown. The bill, however, is yet to pass.

Bring Back Real Horror!

The 1970’s, 80’s and even the 90’s horror movies were a unique era, where the genre was at it’s finest.  Many features eventually became classics during this time.  Budgets were structured and simple.  Locations were cost effective and multiple.  The resources to get distribution and funding were at an easier path.  There were also many legendary directors that created masterpieces.  Whether it was a feature, sequel or prequel.

The horror industry, then suddenly started to decline when the year 2000 hit.  Less and less horror flicks were being produced due to the economy tanking and scam artists became relevant.  When this happened,  it devalued the business and put greed before creativity.

Whether a horror film is a classic or not, it’s viewed as a coping mechanism or an escape from this sick and crazy world we live in.  Stress from our jobs or personal issues take a toll on our lives, as creature of habits, our minds are always looking to break free, to find a release and break out of this bubble, we all live in.  Digging into our creative thoughts when watching horror, gives us the ability to become mentally stronger, to better cope with the craziness that we deal with, from day to day.

The population sees horror in different forms.  Whether its, a creative form of artwork, from a visual perspective, serious illness or death.  I get it, not everyone is going to buy into the horror genre.  The big picture is to look deeper into some of these films.  Subliminal messages are a perfect example, or just listening to strong delivered dialogue, makes us more aware of what’s really going on in the world.

Some of the best horror films are the ones that come from the heart.  Real stories from the past,  tied with a balanced amount of special effects, can create unique stories that your audience can relate to.  Setting the tone, developing an intriguing story and delivering a killer ending, will keep your audience on the edge of their seats and continue the emotional rollercoaster rides in their heads.

So where do we go from here?

I truly believe and want this genre to make a comeback.  There’s so much good, the horror industry has produced in the past.  Let’s go back to the grass roots and bring it back!

ASH VS. EVIL DEAD’ CANCELED AT STARZ AFTER THREE SEASONS

Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Canceled at Starz After Three Seasons

Ash vs. Evil Dead has been canceled at Starz

The series will air its third season finale on April 29, which will now serve as the series finale. The series saw Bruce Campbell reprise the role of Ash Williams, the chainsaw-wielding anti-hero tasked with saving the world from evil in the “Evil Dead” film franchise. The series also starred Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, and Lucy Lawless.

The third season saw Ash, having gone from murderous urban legend to humanity-saving hometown hero, discovering that he has a long-lost daughter who has been entrusted in his care. Meanwhile, Kelly (DeLorenzo) witnessed a televised massacre with Ruby’s (Lawless) fingerprints all over it, and she returned with a new friend to warn Ash and Pablo (Santiago) that evil wasn’t done with them yet.

Campbell was also an executive producer on the series, along with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert from the original film franchise. The show had seen a steep fall off in its ratings during Season 3, averaging just a 0.08 rating in adults 18-49 and 177,000 viewers per episode with two episodes remaining in the season.

Starz current originals slate includes “Power,” “American Gods,” and “Counterpart.” They will also launch the shows “Sweetbitter” and “Vida” in May. The premium cabler previously canceled the comedy “Survivor’s Remorse” back in October after four seasons.

FILM REVIEW: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN’S ‘THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH’

Film Review: William Friedkin’s ‘The Devil and Father Amorth’

William Friedkin films an exorcism, all to revive the mystique of his most famous movie. But is it real?

In The Devil and Father Amorth director William Friedkin , still hale and hearty and hectoring at the age of 81, returns to the subject of his most legendary film The Exorcist. The new movie is a documentary built around a video, recorded by Friedkin in 2016, of what purports to be an actual exorcism. If you think that sounds like material that’s ripe for a musty old episode of “Unsolved Mysteries,” you’d be right. But if you claim that you aren’t just a wee bit curious as to whether you’re going to get to witness something…demonic, you’re probably lying. The Devil and Father Amorth is Friedkin’s shot-on-the-cheap, reality-based version of a “Mondo Cane” stunt, yet for 68 minutes (it’s that short), it is often an oddly compelling tabloid foray, since it winds up shedding a crucial ray of light on the mad moment we’re in now. Whether or not you believe in the Devil, the film helps to color in how our culture got possessed.

Most of the movie takes place in Italy, where Friedkin walks around talking directly into the camera, in what sounds like scripted “off-the-cuff” narration (though it’s possible he improvised it). To call him blunt would be an understatement; there’s a distinctly Trumpian bombast to his in-your-face oratory — he sounds like an ambulance-chasing lawyer on a late-night commercial. He’s working hard to sell us something, though there’s no denying that he’s an arresting carny barker.

Friedkin serves up a shocking statistic: that 500,000 Italians, out of a population of 60 million, have undergone exorcisms. For them, it’s like Californians getting high colonics — either that, or the Devil is alive and working overtime in Italy. The director also returns to Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., where he shot The Exorcist” 45 years ago, and speaks to us from the famous concrete stairway where Father Karras met his death, as if something genuine had happened there. That’s a standard shlock-TV-news ploy, but in this case it has a resonance. The real theme of “The Devil and Father Amorth” is the degree to which people now believe that exorcism is real.

The belief didn’t begin yesterday. Friedkin sketches in how William Peter Blatty came to write his smash-hit novel “The Exorcist,” spinning it out of a 1949 case of demonic possession that he became obsessed with when he was a student at Georgetown. In hindsight, that case, along with the alien incident at Roswell in 1948 and the 1974 Amityville haunting, constitute a kind of popular triptych of the otherworldly: a testament to how the spirit of the uncanny got recast — re-mythologized — for a secular age. “Rosemary’s Baby,” in 1968, famously pictured the Time magazine cover that asked “Is God Dead?” This trilogy of incidents — and, beyond all of them, the film version of “The Exorcist” — answered that question by saying: “Yes, He is. But He’s now going to be reborn as occult tabloid sensationalism, with a patina of Old Time Religion.”

A lot of movie buffs, especially if thy saw “The Exorcist” at a certain age, will tell you that they think it’s the scariest movie ever made. I wouldn’t call it that (“Psycho,” in its day, was scarier), but “The Exorcist” is the movie that terrified people into believing. It made the Devil “real.” It has often been noted that the film proved to be an extraordinary recruitment tool for the Catholic Church (exorcism became a part of the Church’s brand), though the “presence” of the Devil on our ’70s multiplex screens didn’t hurt the rise of the Evangelical movement, either. “The Exorcist” was a cinematic earthquake that has never stopped giving off tremors.

“The Devil and Father Amorth” shows you how deep the mystique of the demonic goes. Friedkin introduces us to Gabriele Amorth, an Italian Roman Catholic priest who’s also an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome — essentially, the Vatican’s chief ghostbuster. Ninety-one when the film was shot (he died in September 2016), Father Amorth is an ancient bald elfin tribal ringmaster who understands that religion, like politics, can always use a dash of showbiz. His favorite movie is “The Exorcist” (though he thinks the special effects were a bit overdone), and if he seems more casual about his work than Max von Sydow’s Father Merrin did, maybe that’s because he’s performed hundreds of exorcisms and lived to tell the tale.

The woman he’s going to be exorcising is no stranger to the Devil. Her name is Cristina, she works in an architecture firm in a small town 200 kilometers from Rome, and this will be her ninth exorcism. Friedkin interviews her, and she’s a polite, self-aware, rather neurasthenic woman in her mid-thirties, officious in manner, with a slight aura of damage. Then, having agreed to the stipulation that he’ll bring no crew with him at all (no lighting or sound assistants — just himself and his small camcorder), Friedkin enters a rather humdrum-looking conference room to film the exorcism. Cristina is surrounded by 20 or so of her relatives, and we can see that this is, for them, a therapeutic ritual that they accept and believe in. It’s the spirit version of an intervention, only with screams and a dash of holy water.

What do we see? Cristina sits in a chair, as Father Amorth talks gently to her, places his hand on her head, strokes her knees, and listens as she — or could it be…Satan? — screams at him. Cristina certainly seems like she’s channeling another personality, one that’s fierce, raging, merciless, insane. Yet this doesn’t necessarily strike us as all that exotic; it could be footage from an old est seminar. A lot of us would probably agree with the team of Columbia University psychiatrists Friedkin interviews, who say that Cristina journeys to a place deep inside her, but not necessarily a demonic one. The most striking aspect of what goes on has to do with her voice, which hits a low register rather strikingly like that of Linda Blair’s Regan in “The Exorcist.” In fact, the voice sounds as if it’s been manipulated. By Friedkin? He’s not telling, but in a movie like this one the devil is in the details.

Watching the exorcism in “The Devil and Father Amorth,” what we see is that Italians, in the DNA of their consciousness, still carry around the seeds of a medieval culture. The Devil, and exorcism, is part of the psyche of this passionately Catholic country. But we also see something that Friedkin, with supreme irony, never acknowledges: the profound influence of his own movie. Whether or not Cristina’s deep dark Devil voice was tweaked in post-production, it seems more than likely that she is, in fact, imitating the sound and spirit of the Devil when he spoke through Regan MacNeil in “The Exorcist.” The movie has fed, like a loop, into religion, which is now feeding into the chaos of a world that, increasingly, needs the Devil to explain why everything appears to be spinning out of control. “The Devil and Father Amorth” is a rather tawdry charade. But it channels that force.

NETFLIX Q1 PREVIEW: ANOTHER BLOCKBUSTER QUARTER DESPITE PRICE HIKES?

Netflix Q1 Preview: Another Blockbuster Quarter Despite Price Hikes?

When Netflix reports first-quarter 2018 earnings Monday after market close, investors again will laser in not on revenue or profits — but on the number of net adds, a key indicator of the subscription streamer’s momentum.For Q1, Wall Street analyst consensus estimates are for 1.48 million net streaming U.S. subscriber adds, and 4.84 million internationally. That’s roughly in line with what Netflix’s forecast in January (1.45 million domestically and 4.90 million internationally).

The expected strong showing comes after Netflix raised the price of its streaming plans in the fourth quarter of 2017 for customers in multiple territories, a demonstration of its relative pricing power. In the U.S., for example, the standard two-stream HD plan rose from $9.99 to $10.99 per month,  still a great value, analysts observed.

“A steady stream of new content introduced throughout Q1 likely mitigated churn associated with higher pricing on standard and premium plans,” Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter wrote in a note issued last week.

Analyst consensus estimates for Netflix Q1 see revenue of $3.89 billion and earnings per share of 64 cents. Investors remain upbeat on the company, even as it doubles down on its heavy content-spending strategy (with content expenditures of up to $8 billion this year, vs. $6 billion in 2017).

Netflix’s cash burn (negative free cash flow) is expected to increase from $2 billion in 2017 to $3 billion for the full year 2018, Goldman Sachs’ Heath Terry wrote in a note last week. Terry raised his price target on the stock, from $315 to $360 per share, citing a strong originals slate, new distribution partners  and returns from increased marketing spending.

Over the past eight quarters, Netflix has on average topped its total net subscriber addition guidance by around 950,000, mostly on stronger-than-expected international additions, Pachter noted. However, a year ago, Netflix turned in subscriber metrics slightly below forecasts, delivering 4.95 million inQ1 2017

Is Netflix poised for a Q1 2018 beat? Thanks to its continued growth — and bullish analyst forecasts — Netflix’s stock is up 62% year to date, besting nearly every other company on the S&P 500 and outperforming the other stocks in the FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Alphabet/Google) cohort tracked by Wall Street.

Netflix has “an increasingly robust content slate,” Cowen & Co.’s John Blackledge wrote in a Q1 earnings preview. He estimated Netflix released some 483 hours of U.S. original programming in the first quarter, up 85% from a year earlier.

In the first quarter, Netflix debuted 18 new original series, including 11 returning series, and 14 new original movies. Those included season 2 of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and sci-fi series “Altered Carbon.”

But Netflix currently has a weaker originals lineup going into Q1, with nine original series (five returning and four new series), including “Lost in Space” and second seasons of “Dope,” “3%,” and “Marvel’s Luke Cage.”

Wall Street expects 5.2 million net streaming adds in Q2 2018, but that “may be on the high side,” RBC Capital Market’s Mark Mahaney wrote in a note. He cited “what doesn’t clearly appear to be a rock-star spectacular Q2 new content slate” as well as typically weak Q2 seasonality and “tough comps” with Netflix’s huge beat in the second quarter of 2017.

Two wildcards on Netflix’s Q2 content performance remain, according to UBS’s Eric Sheridan: When season 2 of popular teen drama “13 Reasons Why” will be released and whether Netflix “is enjoying success in its local-language content initiatives outside of North America,” he wrote in an April 11 note.

In addition, Netflix’s newly expanded deal with Comcast — under which the cable operator will bundle Netflix service with new and existing TV packages — could give Netflix a boost in Q2, which is historically weak for subscriber additions.

Meanwhile, Wedbush’s Pachter pointed to Netflix’s potential longer-term risk from losing content-licensing deals. It’s worth noting that the bulk of the viewing on the platform remains generated by licensed TV shows and movies — with licensed content estimated to account for 80% of Netflix’s U.S. streams for the 12 months ended September 2017, per a study by 7Park Data.

“[T]he combination of less content from Disney (pulling the majority of its newer content at the end of 2018) and a steady migration of Comcast, Time Warner, and 21st Century Fox content towards exclusive deals with Hulu will ultimately lead to lower subscriber satisfaction,” he wrote.

R. LEE ERMEY, ‘FULL METAL JACKET’ GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINEE, DIES AT 74

R. Lee Ermey, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Golden Globe Nominee, Dies at 74

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1635983a)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, R Lee Ermey
Film and Television

R. Lee Ermey, best known for his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket,” has died. He was 74.

Ermey’s longtime manager announced the news via a tweet to Ermey’s official Twitter account.

“It is with great sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (‘The Gunny’) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us,” the tweet reads.

In addition to his role in Stanley Kubrick’s Oscar-nominated film, which earned him a best supporting actor Golden Globe nod, Ermey had several other mostly authority figure roles to his credit, including Sheriff Hoyt in 2003’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” a police captain in “Se7en,” and the voice of the plastic army men’s

Ermey was a former United States Marine Corps staff sergeant and honorary gunnery sergeant, and served as a drill instructor during his tenure from 1961-1972. He was stationed in Okinawa, Japan for one year until 1968, when he was moved to Vietnam and spent 14 months in country.

His first film role occurred when he was studying in the Philippines, and he played a First Air Cavalry chopper pilot in “Apocalypse Now,” also serving as a technical adviser to Francis Ford Coppola. He had a series of other small roles until his casting in 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket.”

Ermey was originally meant to function only as a technical adviser to Kubrick, but when Kubrick was impressed by an instructional tape Ermey put together in which he went on long rants at extras, he instead cast him in the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Kubrick allowed Ermey to improvise and write or edit his dialogue, and he said Ermey often only needed two or three takes to finish a scene — both unusual for Kubrick films.

All told, Ermey had roles in some 60-plus films, as well as several voice credits, including “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Simpsons,” and “Family Guy.”

On top of his voice acting, he hosted two programs for the History Channel: “Mail Call,” in which he provided expertise on military issues, both modern and historic, and “Lock N’ Load with R. Lee Ermey,” which focused on the development of different types of weapons.

R. Lee Ermey

@RLeeErmey

Statement from R. Lee Ermey’s longtime manager, Bill Rogin:

It is with deep sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (“The Gunny”) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us.

Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.

‘RAMPAGE’ SNEAKS UP ON ‘A QUIET PLACE’ TO WIN WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

‘Rampage’ Sneaks Up on ‘A Quiet Place’ to Win Weekend Box Office

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (9627975a)
Dwayne Johnson
“Rampage” Film – 2018

After a weekend of fluctuating projections, Dwayne Johnson (just barely) owned the North American box office after all.

Though earlier estimates looked like the second frame of  A Quiet Place would take the weekend, Johnson’s Rampage  snuck up to take the top slot with $34.5 million from 4,101 theaters.

New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.Rampage opened under initial predictions  that estimated between $37 million to $40 million. Though the sci-fi actioner has an impressive A- CinemaScore and 80% audience approval on Rotten Tomatoes, “Rampage” will need to rely heavily on overseas to carry its costly $120 million budget.

Still, its opening was enough to just narrowly take the box office crown from A Quit Place” which earned $32.9 million in 3,589 locations. “A Quiet Place” has been riding high with rave reviews only dropping 34%. That brings its cumulative domestic gross to an impressive $100 million.

Also benefitting from the Friday the 13th weekend was Universal and Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare starring Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey. The supernatural thriller debuted in third place with $19 million from 3,029 theaters.

“This is an outstanding debut considering the competitive landscape,” Jim Orr, head of domestic distribution at Universal, said. “For original horror, Blumhouse has define the genre for many years. They built a model that is just terrific.”

The third frame of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” made $11 million from 3,661 locations, lifting its domestic gross to $114.5 million.

Rounding out the top five is the sophomore weekend of Universal’s “Blockers.” Kay Cannon’s raunchy comedy starring John Cena, Leslie Mann, and Ike Barinholtz took in $10 million from 3,418 locations. In total, the pic has made $37 million.

The wide release of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” made $5 million from 1,939 locations. The stop-motion animated film, which has grossed $18.5 million, opened in limited release at the end of March with the best per screen average of 2018 to date.

Another newcomer, Entertainment Studios’ canine-themed “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” made $1.1 million in 1,633 locations. Directed and co-written by Richard Lanni, “Sgt. Stubby”  features the voices of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu.

The 2018 box office is down 2.4% compared to 2017. The same weekend last year, where “The Fate of the Furious” opened with $98.8 million, is down 15.5%

REVIEW: BUS PARTY TO HELL, INCLUDING AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AMAZING SADIE KATZ

Bus Party to Hell (2018)

Directed by Rolfe Kanefsky

Starring Sadie KatzDevanny Pinn…and Tara Reid

Thanks to October Coast for screening this one for me.

Bus Party to Hell is the perfect movie review for me to go on an itty-bitty rant.

There is this thing in horror films that is rather common where indie creators do everything they can to get a “star”. This makes perfect sense as it is perceived that stars sell tickets. However, it has also been shown that, except for a few celebrities at the top, stars no longer have the selling power they once did. People are more likely to go see their favorite character or series regardless of who is in the movie. Generally, horror films don’t get those big-name stars and I think that most of us have our favorites that probably aren’t on the A-list.

It feels sort of cheap to me when a “star” is shoehorned into a film just to put their name on the poster. I feel robbed in a way. Perhaps this is something that shouldn’t get to me at all, but it does. Tara Reid is billed as this movies star, yet I am happy to say that she is barely in it. The moment that she kicks the bucket is her finest moment. The poster has a giant image of her on it. All of the production stills I have seen feature her. In my opinion, Sadie Katz is the actual star of this movie – which is something we talk about in an interview that you can read at the end of this post.

So, while I understand the reasons for it, I wish that filmmakers would stop this shit. I loathe purchasing a movie because it says it stars Brad Dourif only to find that he is in it for 2 minutes – for example. It puts a stench on a movie that could have done without it. I’m already bummed that I am out 10 or 15 bucks for a 2-minute cameo, even if the rest of the movie is really good, I might be too upset to care. That wasn’t the case here. This was a screener and I would never buy anything because freaking Tara Reid was in it anyway.

Rant over.

Party Bus to Hell, or as the kids are calling it these days, Bus Party to Hell is a pretty decent flick once it gets going. The story goes that a bunch of young folks are traveling to burning man on a bus driven by Joan (Katz). It just so happens that the bus “breaks down” in the desert at the same spot as a murderous group of Satan worshipers are hanging out. As you might expect, a massacre takes place, leaving 7 people alive on the bus.

 

There is plenty of comedy and gore to feast on in this one and I had a pretty good time chowing down. Lots of boobs, creepy crawly things, killer tattoos, and a demon performed cunnilingus. While some of the acting is a little weak here and there, mostly with the smaller parts, and some of the jokes fall flat, Bus Party is still a really fun ride.

I know that most of this review didn’t really cover the film itself and was rather self-serving, but my interview with Sadie Katz will cover more of that stuff, and I didn’t want to be too repetitive. She was really cool and I loved talking to her.

Sadie Katz has been in Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort and Blood Feast. On April 13th you can see her in Bus Party to Hell. She also is the creator and star of the documentary, The Bill Murry Experience. I got a chance to talk with her about these films and plenty more.

Tara Reid. She’s the top-billed person in this movie, right? But, she’s barely in the movie. Your character is clearly the star of the movie. So I guess the way to ask is – What is it like to deal with that sort of thing? Knowing that someone can show up for a scene and be the big deal.

Yeah, ya know, that’s kind of like a producer’s choice there…um, that’s a really fun and fabulous question. Let me answer diplomatically. You know, it’s one of those things where you go -Well, if that’s what brings eyes to the film. If someone says I’m gonna get this film because Tara Reid is in it, then Tara Reid did you a favor, ya know?

It’s in my contract that I would be 2nd billed. I took a pay cut for that. You should see the new international poster. A huge picture of Tara Reid and I’m the tiniest little thing, you can’t even tell it’s me.

It’s just the way it is.

What’s the main goal for you? Will you be happy to settle into a scream queen role, or do you want more?

I would just be happy to make enough money to afford my apartment. In seriousness, I have a 16-year-old and I think it would be pretty cool – I love your questions. They’re so honest – I think it would be pretty cool if I got consistent work. The scream queen thing – I don’t care about being famous. It’s more about getting jobs on a consistent enough basis where I can make a somewhat living doing what I love. The billing isn’t an ego trip, it’s about being able to get work. You have to be able to sell a movie to get your next job.

Unless people know your name, you’re not getting that next job. If I was doing one type of movie that would be cool, but if I were to do movies that were not horror, and, you know, Sundance movies – yeah that’d be fucking great. But, last year 30,000 movies were submitted to Sundance. So, you’ve got to be realistic about what is able to happen.

I looked at your IMDB page and it looks like you’ve got 7..8,…9 movies coming out this year?

Yeah, I do have some feature films that I don’t have top billing on but I’m really crossing my fingers that they do well enough. The horror genre, why it’s really good is that I can also supplement by doing conventions and maybe making a couple bucks. That kind of stuff means I can make a living.

Hopefully, I marry a guy that makes decent money and live happily forever after. Boom!

Actually, I would really like to make my documentaries and I’m a writer. I’d like to write a novel. so, I don’t need to be a super-millionaire but I would like to be a little comfortable, and hopefully not die a miserable death, and be able to afford botox.

Ah, botox. Is that expensive? I have no idea.

No! It’s like 400 bucks. I’m still young so I don’t need that much. You know, you start to get older and say, Oh yeah, I forgot, I’m supposed to have a savings. I don’t have a retirement account and I can barely afford, ya know, a steak dinner

Anyway, I would really like to make documentaries. To be a female Morgan Spurlock – that is my dream. And then do the horror films on the side because I love that too.

Tell me what your experience was like working on the movie. I know that’s a normal generic question, but it is what it is.

Well, I shot it in Vegas and I think it was very interesting because it was an ensemble film, which is always fun. Like American Pie but in horror. We shot it in that little bus. Originally we were going to do it on a sound stage but we ended up using an actual bus from Sin City Party Bus. We kind of had to be in close quarters and it was a challenge for me because my character is filled with all these crazy ass creatures and I’m being possessed by this sexual being. I didn’t have all this space to move while everything is happening inside me, and as an actor – not to get too thespian here, but – one of the tricks you play is that your character always has a secret. This character really did have a secret and I wanted to, hopefully, play the character so if someone watched the movie again they would actually see the progression. That I was tipping my hat to the audience a little bit, just enough so you would see that she really is kinda starting to twitch a little bit.

Even though I play these silly characters, I do try to play them as truthful, fun, and committed as I can. That’s fun for me. If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability and try to play the truth of the character.

It was fun because I was really only acting in about 2 feet and I wanted to see if I could make it cool, and you know, topless. Hopefully, people will see it and go, “That bitch is acting her ass off!”

Ok, Bill Murray. I really enjoyed Party Bus and my site focuses on horror but I really wanted to talk to you about The Bill Murray Experience too. So, I will just come out and ask – Do you consider yourself a crazy person?

Um, yes. I am a crazy person. That is a great question. I used to, when I was younger, tried to really run from that but I think while doing the documentary and watching so much footage of myself I started to go – Oh. I’m really a crazy person. Like, I’m different than other people and that’s ok.

If you were savvy, or not so savvy, you would say she’s bipolar. I’m bipolar. I feel things a lot. I’m not bipolar where I’m going to kill you but I’m bipolar where I feel things. I’m very, very intense so if I love something, I LOVE it. I’m very committed to things, and when I feel sad; I’m devastated, and when I’m happy, I’m VERY happy

There was some talk when I was editing whether or not I should say that and I thought it would take away from the journey. People would say that this isn’t about Bill Murray, it’s about being bipolar, and so I was decided that we won’t say that. The savvy people will understand that.

I really took finding Bill Murray to heart and if that makes me crazy to believe in something – I think it’s crazy that most people don’t.

Did you ever get your experience? Like after the movie was done.

No. So two things happened. One is that I went to go promote the film, Bill was playing, so I went to Portland and Seattle to watch his performance and to give out balloons outside the show. So, my son and I got tickets and went to the show, and at the end of the show he goes into the audience and gives out roses to certain audience members. Well, I ended up leaving before he did that. My son said, Why are you going to leave? I said because if he doesn’t hand me a rose I’m going to be upset and if he hands me a rose, I’ll be upset because I’ll just feel strange. It’s just too…I can’t explain it.

Then, I entered a contest for the Bill Murray golf tournament to be his caddy. I figured I’d leave it up to chance. I feel conflicted and I didn’t include this in the documentary because I didn’t want to say anything negative, but in some ways, I feel like Bill doing what he wants to do with fans is a little more about Bill that it is really about fans. Maybe that’s just my own opinion, but yeah I do have a little bit of jealousy because I feel like I’m promoting this and the more I talk about it, everybody is like, “Oh, I was just on the airplane and sat by Bill Murray”, and I’m like, God, as much as I said I was over it at the end of the doc, it’s going to be on my fucking gravestone. Here lies Sadie Katz. She never officially met Bill Murray.

I was going to ask about that. The “journey is the experience” ending to the documentary. It works well for a movie, but it has to be bullshit right?

Well, I have to tell you. We did a screening and it ended with me in tears saying that I am still open to having my experience. I was surprised that the audience didn’t realize that it was like a big cartoon. The people, they were really upset. they loved the doc, it won an award. I flew home and called my editor and said – They don’t understand that the whole documentary is a cartoon. I am the cartoon. I told him that I need a new cartoon at the end and said just trust me. So I sent him this voiceover and said, just animate this voiceover for me.

He did exactly what I wanted and made it even better. I couldn’t have wanted anything more for the doc. Every time I see it I get chills and it is exactly what I wanted.

So, It’s not like I don’t agree with it, I just wish it was another way. It truly is my Bill Murray experience, but I wish it weren’t. My goal was to meet Bill Murray, give him the balloons, and for him to grab me by the hand and run through [the crowd] handing out balloons, then maybe go get tuna melts at a cafe.

It seems so ridiculous, but wonderful.

My heart is still like, boy I hustled and I worked so hard. As an artist you give everything and people shit on your dreams. I wonder what it all means at the end of the day, but I look at the poster, and like, it’s in my house. I finished what I started, and you know, I think maybe that makes me a better person. I accept it. I’m a little nuts but I think when I’m 60 I’ll always have that. No one can take that away from me. It gives me an identity.

I truly wish that I didn’t have to edit this interview down so much. Sadie was a delight to talk to. So sincere and hilarious. Hopefully, I will get to talk more with her about her next project.

Casey Bartsch is a horror novelist and film critic. You can find this and other reviews – as well as top 10’s, interviews, and news – at www.FullBlownPanicAttack.com

He also recently started a youtube channel to go with the site that you can see here, but it is very early days on that.

You may find him and other like-minded people in the Facebook group, Horror, Horror on the Wall.