Posts Tagged ‘George Romero’

h1

An interview with Tal Zimerman

October 19, 2013

(NOTE: this originally appears on the Swedish Gore Film Society website)

Tal Zimerman at Home

The world is full of creativity. That is certainly nothing new, but thanks to the digital age the odds for someone having their dream project realized has become much, much better. Thanks to Kickstarter and Indiegogo (easily some of my fave websites) anyone can pitch their idea to the world and with a bit of luck get it financed. Being a believer in all things D.I.Y. I consider this a healthy and promising phenomenon and try to support interesting projects as much as my wallet allows me.

Tal Zimerman‘s pretty known among horror fans as he’s not only a writer for both Rue Morgue Magazine and Fangoria, but also an authority when it comes to genre movie posters. I recently found out about his upcoming crowdsourced documentary Why Horror?, a look at the psychology behind this phenomenon, and immediately decided to jump on board.  Ambitiously aiming to produce the most comprehensive documentary on the topic, Tal and Co. already amassed an impressive list of interviewees (George Romero, John Carpenter and Eli Roth just to mention a few), and plan to travel around the world in order to cover every aspect of this old phenomenon. Wanting to find out more, as well as help spread the word, I sat down and sent off a couple of questions his way, which he graciously answered.

So tell me a bit of the origins of the documentary. From my understanding it actually mutated from a different sort of concept.
Yes, that’s true.  I wanted to shoot an hour for TV that focussed on Toronto, where I live.  We would see how very horror-centric this city is, from festivals to famous shooting locations, to social activities and everything in between. There’s a pretty big horror community here and we all agree that we are spoiled rotten with things to do.  The production company I approached, with whom I had worked on a comedy project, was kind of baffled by my outward horror fan persona.  We got to talking about why I like horror, and why people in general, everywhere like horror.  So we decided to abandon the local focus and go global and that a feature film exploring all these things was best for the scope of the idea.

John CarpenterYou chose to have this crowdfunded. Considering the popularity of horror these days, did you consider having it produced by a studio? Was there any pitching for producers involved or did you immediately decide to go with Kickstarter?
I’m actually working with a great production company who specializes in TV comedy here in Canada. The feature length documentary format is new for all of us. There are producers on the project and they pitched it at a local documentary conference. We secured a broadcaster and managed to acquire a bit of funding for development.  The Kickstarter idea came when we realized that the costs of travel and film clip licensing were going to require a lot of money.  Almost everything that you saw in the demo was shot here in Toronto.  To tell the story we really want to tell, we need to travel and we need to show movie clips.

You managed to amass a quite impressive list of people for this! Tell me a bit of that process.
Again that comes back to where the production is located.  We have the Toronto International Film Festival and the Fan Expo, two enormous festivals that bring in top talent.  Having attended both shows for over 10 years, you meet people who know people who can introduce you to people.  Nothing is ever that easy, though.  You still have to hustle and nag and beg.  TIFF is especially tough because distribution companies fly in these directors to talk about the movie they are promoting and we’re talking about horror in general.  It helps to have people on the inside to get those kinds of interviews.  Having an interesting subject matter helps, too.  In reading the description of our movie, a lot of people want to express their ideas on the subject, so it’s just a matter of getting our material into the right hands.

George RomeroCROPPEDAs far as I know, this is the first attempt at covering the psychology behind the horror phenomena. Has there been any real revealing surprises while conducting those interviews?
Lots.  Without spoiling anything, I will say that spooking each other out is a very old custom.  Reminding the people around us of our mortality goes back to pre-language civilization.  Wanting to explain what’s on the other side is a natural, human desire.  Not all of us are content with what religion, or even science has to say about death.  And the more you attempt to cover it up, or try to escape,  the more abstract and creative the ways it bubbles to the surface are.  That, and also the fact that John Carpenter is a huge video gamer.  That blew my mind.

Considering some of the past high-brow snubbing of the genre, did you notice a change of attitude among the academics, or has there been some typical “this is garbage and it turns children into serial killers” sentiments vented like back in the hysterical 80s?
Its funny, we have tried to find people who are vehemently opposed to horror, like a larger anti-horror sentiment, it’s not there like it was in the 80s.  We are getting individuals telling us that their parents or co-workers have voiced concerns about their mental health because of horror, and that they can’t wait for our movie to help them explain their passion, but no big anti-horror movement to speak of.  There was some interesting stuff happening when movies like Saw and Hostel came out, and the idiotic label “torture porn” reared its head, but that goes back ten years.  In the time since, TV shows like Dexter, True Blood, and The Walking Dead have brought horror to the mainstream and into people’s houses – and they LOVE it.  So the genre is really at its peak of popularity and that’s another reason why now was the right time to do this film.

Eli RothCROPPEDI agree. The timing’s perfect. Personally I’d like to know why this genre is so polarizing. (The only other form of cinema doing that being porn.) Do you have anything to share regarding that? Why do people either love it or hate it but rarely anything in between?
It’s sort of designed to do that.  It’s safe to say that there are reactions to horror, both physical and mental, in everyone who sees it, but not everyone is going to enjoy that reaction.  But anything that pushes boundaries, which is one of horror’s main functions, is going to upset some people and delight others.  Some people are naturally curious and adventurous.  Others are content in the safety of their shells.  It comes down to personality.

Also, covering the various aspects of horror all over the world. Have you noticed any big differences? With the exception of noticing Euro horror being a bit more “arty” than the pragmatic U.S. films I really can’t say I’ve studied it at any length, but are we afraid of different things?
We are most certainly afraid of different things, or at least, have very different ways of approaching our anxieties.  In Japan, for example, there are several examples of folklore with haunted spaces and spirits trying to manipulate the living.  These tie in to that society’s family-related anxieties.  In Australia, the vast emptiness of the deserts have created a fear of isolation, which has been the theme of many great Oz-horror films.  In the end, though, it all comes back to the fear of death.  How that fear is represented is very driven by local attitudes.

How much of the documentary is already finished? How are you looking to expand it with the crowdsourced budget?
It’s hard to say, quantitatively, how much is finished.  We have roughly 40 interviews, mostly with film-centric individuals.  We still need to talk to art and literature historians, psychologists, and video game developers.  We definitely know what we want to talk about, and a budget from crowdsourcing will, for example, allow us to show works of art in museums and galleries, as opposed to jpegs.  It will give us the ability to talk to video game developers in Japan directly instead of just showing their works.  The movie is definitely happening, but a little extra push can take us a long way.

As it is feature length: Will we see this having a theatrical release?
I hope so.  It will appear on TV here in Canada next year, and we’re hoping to show it at some festivals before that.  We’re shooting with the theatre experience in mind, so we’re all hoping for a theatrical release.

So am I! Best of luck with the project, Tal.

Interview by Magnus Sellergren.
Photos courtesy Tal Zimerman.

Make sure to check out the project on Kickstarter and join them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WhyHorror. Again, the pitch video:

h1

Why Horror?

October 11, 2013

Well, here’s an interesting new Kickstarter project you should check out: Tal Zimerman‘s documentary Why Horror? – A New Documentary. A look at the psychology behind the horror phenomena – be it film, art, literature or video games – it’s got a great round up of people in it trying to explain the wheres and whys of this polarizing subject: Film makers, historians, psychologists, sociologists etc., with names including directors George Romero, John Carpenter and Don Coscarelli (Phantasm! Yay!) just to name a few.

The project is helmed by quite an impressive roster of peeps: Tal has done work for both Rue Morgue and Fangoria magazines; and directors/producers/editors Nicolas Kleiman and Rob Lindsay got previous experience from several documentaries, including Kazak: The Making of Avraga. They aim to make the most comprehensive documentary on the subject, and by the looks of the pitch video I’d say they’re onto creating it.

Pledges range from $10 CAD up to $8,000 CAD, with goodies including everything from t-shirts, blu-rays and dvds to attending pre-screenings and premiere parties (and do note that a $20 CAD pledge or more gives you screen credit to add on your IMDB). Join ‘em on Facebook here and check out the campaign here.

h1

Bun-o-Ween

October 4, 2013

Well, here’s something that’s both funny and cute: Union Pool‘s series Bunnies. Created and produced by Jennifer Shiman, these animated shorts re-enacts various films in one minute or less – with an all bunny cast.

There’s tons of bite-size toons to be enjoyed – all available via their official YouTube channel – but considering the season I chose to focus on the more (classic) Halloween side of things. Check out Evil Dead II, Alien, The Wolfman, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (although I’m a bit miffed they chose the remake), The Shining, and George Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead.

How ’bout one more to sink your teeth into?

h1

“It’s about Audience Participation”

December 28, 2012
Original (and funny) VHS ad.

Original (and funny) VHS ad.

Yeah, well, once again the hostess with the mostest Eva Halloween makes me reveal my inner nerd as a recent post on The Year of Halloween offered a horrific animated .gif that I immediately recognized was taken from Lamberto Bava‘s 1985 Italian gorefest Demons. In fact it’s one of the highlights towards the end. But I’ll admit it was a bit unsettling realizing my said nerd-dom was at such a level one photo would be enough for me to recognize it’s origin.

Anyway, being directed by genius Mario Bava‘s son you’d probably expect this celluloid effort to be a beautifully shot and staged piece of subliminal Euro gothic and well, you’re wrong as it’s quite the contrary. Junior’s effort is not bad, it’s just loud, packed with gruesome special effects – how about maniacally laughing demons groping out the eyes of their victims? – and to top it off has a heavy metal soundtrack that I gotta admit fits nicely as “loud” is the word that pretty much sums it up. And as we’re talking a movie that was made during the height of 80s fashion there’s some pretty loud colors and outfits that smack you right in the eyes too.

Kinda re-imagining George Romero‘s zombie concept it’s basically about a collection of strangers in Berlin receiving invitations to a free screening of a horror movie at a recently renovated cinema. One of the patrons scratches herself on a mysterious silver mask outside in the lobby, and as the movie progresses she gets sick and turns into a demon. Once transformed she attacks the moviegoers and all her victims turn into demons too and soon all hell breaks loose. As someone has bricked up the cinema during the movie (!!!) a small bunch of uninfected barricade themselves in order to survive.

Quite gory and violent despite being 25+ years old it still has some strong material that certainly aren’t for everyone – I gotta admit the “teeth sequence” still makes me cringe and if you’ve seen it you’ll know exactly what I mean. Produced by Dario Argento himself it received enough success to warrant a sequel and a third (unofficial) that I frankly haven’t seen. Check out the trailer:

UPDATE: Well, as I stumbled across this on YouTube I thought I might as well share it. Ghoulfriends and boyfiends, I give you Demons in all its uncut glory! And as I already wrote this is a pretty gory piece of entertainment, so you’ll decide if it’s something you wanna watch.

h1

Return of the Evil Dead

December 22, 2012

Well, in keeping up with the subject of my last post – and oddly enough the X-Mas spirit as well! – make sure you check out Return of the Evil Dead! In between George Romero‘s classic Night of the Living Dead and the gorier Italian-produced onslaught of the late 70s/early 80s, Spanish director Amando de Ossorio produced a truly unique vision between 1971 – 1975 with his Blind Dead quadrilogy.

Debuting with Tombs of the Blind Dead he gave the horror world a different kind of zombie: A legion of the Knights Templar, executed for heresy and practicing satanic witchcraft that rises from their graves to wreak havoc on the living. Nothing more than mummified skeletal remains after rotting away for half a millenia, they’re blind and hunt the living not to feed, but to seek revenge. The second installment in this series is my personal favorite and takes place in a small Portugese village celebrating the 500th anniversary of executing the knights, who rises during the festivities to seek revenge. A perfect sequel it’s high-paced with trimmed dialogue, more action and an overall refined concept.

Heavy on the gothic influences (and the fourth, Night of the Seagulls, actually has hints of H.P. Lovecraft) it’s oddly enough one of those flicks I always pop into the DVD-player during the X-Mas Holidays. The third, The Ghost Galleon, deserves mention as it has more creepy sequences, but thanks to a stingy producer the “galleon” looks like a damn bath tub toy duck, ruining the overall feel. I don’t know if it’s still available, but Anchor Bay released the great The Blind Dead Collection 5xDVD box set back in 2005, and if you’re a fan of the zombie genre make sure to check it out.

h1

Audio! Video! Out Now!

November 2, 2012

Man, this week has been utterly insane. I thought I’d been intense before when it comes to output, but this has definitely been something else. And I’ve got the bloodshot, baggy eyes to prove it! But I am done. Finished. Allowed to just sit on my behind and spend the rest of the weekend getting into the second season of The Walking Dead. It’s a bit slower-paced than the first, and they sure do get a lil’ bit preachy in this one but it’s still – easily – one of the best tv-series I’ve seen in years.

Anyway, finishing up the final details for The Norliss Tapes It’s Halloween EP yesterday I decided to make a video for it on the spot. The song was great (Staffan had the verse finished, I wrote lyrics to the melody and he finished up with the chorus) and hearing the finished audio track I knew I just had to get going. And I totally lucked out choosing Herk Harvey‘s 1962 chiller classic Carnival of Souls as it has great tone, some beautiful photography and a truly great performance by lead-actress Candace Hilligoss. And lots of the edits in the video just came together so beautifully I can assure you it was such a fluid process it really didn’t feel like “work” at all. Easily one of my all-time favorite horror movies it was made for a ridiculously low amount of money and is considered by some to be an independent cinematic masterpiece. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it! Considered to be in the public domain you can find it online at Archive.org.

I gotta say that with this EP the whole project sure took some strides forward. Me and Staffan were truly riffing off of each other and like I already stated what began as an idea of doing one seasonal song and give away for free we ended up with a five-track mammoth offering tons of variety. We’ve got some Carpenter, some Kraftwerk, some Beastie Boys influenced weirdness and cool samples from horror classics like Dracula starring Bela Lugosi and George Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead. Check it out on Bandcamp here and how about a tiny taste? Maybe you wanna sing along?

Bonfires light up the night, offering protection
As we slowly retreat to the warmth inside
Under the full moon’s light, somewhere in the cold
There’s a sudden howl, come closer child
It’s Halloween
It’s Halloween

Soon skeletons walk, they’re the dancing dead
Demons gather in shadows, they’re allowed to feed
And as lovers caress, clutch themselves for safety
They pass through the trees, shrieking with delight
It’s Halloween
It’s Halloween…

 
 
h1

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2012

Yes, boyfiends and ghoulfriends, it’s Halloween!  My fave holiday of the year! Nothing wrong with spending X-Mas with your family or getting hammered on Midsummer, but All Hallows Eve is dedicated to horror fer chrissakes – how can you not love that? An age-old tradition it dates back to the 9th century, and unlike what some party poopers claim it is far from satanic and actually a mix of the Old religion and early Christian faith marking the Fall equinox. The Celts called it Samhain and the night was spent lighting huge bonfires to chase evil away while beggars went door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives souls in return for “soul cakes.” This of course mutated into the “trick or treat” tradition.

Being on a worknight I’m making bigger plans for the weekend but tonight I am definitely getting cozy on the couch with some old faves like George Romero‘s brilliant Night of the Living Dead, the super-chiller Carnival of Souls or Vincent Price‘s Last Man on Earth. And John Carpenter‘s Halloween is mandatory viewing of course (it’s pretty much a no-brainer), but I think I’m saving that for the weekend.

So how about lighting some Jack o’ Lanterns (actually an Irish tradition) to keep the darkness away and pop in a couple of old faves in the DVD player? I’ve got some soothing music to get you in the mood baby!

h1

(More) The Thing

July 31, 2012

A friend of mine recently sent me these videos showcasing the original concept art and mechanical effects that was produced for The Thing 2011 – making it even harder for me to fathom why on Earth the producers decided to go all CGI on us. These are some amazing, physical pieces of art showcasing just the sheer amount of talent and craftmanship the FX studios can offer these days. It’s mindblowing and gives you an idea of just how good this movie could’ve been.

Now, I’ve actually googled it and the only reason or explanation that I could find why the producers made their decision is that they thought the animatronic effects moved too slowly. Or the test audience (and don’t get me started on that subject!). I can see that, but that’s where CGI actually can prove to be a great, useful tool: cleaning up imagery or enhance speed etc. of certain scenes. Instead they turned it into just another awful-looking Playstation game. The problem: CGI is not and never will be a 3D object. And the technology hasn’t come anywhere near a stage where they can honestly say it fools the human eye. I’ve seen my fair share and still go “video game” as soon as it rears its ugly head. Background FX? No problem! I’ve seen some great usage of it in say George Romero‘s Land of the Dead. Or made to enhance physical effects in Sean of the Dead.

But let’s compare! Here’s the FX as they are shown in the movie. You decide what looks best.

h1

New Link

August 29, 2011

This guy Jeremy at Silver Ferox Design has the kinda job I really envy; he’s based in Italy and designs posters as well as DVD-sleeves for the film industry, mainly focusing on cool exploitation! We’re talking Lucio Fulci, Romero and Bava among others – now how sweet is that?

He’s got some pretty cool ideas and it’s nice seeing some of his innovations on these classic works of art, considering some of them has been around for at least 40+ years so you can imagine all the different versions that has been made up until now!

Check out his blog here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 110 other followers

%d bloggers like this: