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An American Terror (2014) Review

rsz_aat1An American Terror (2014)

Director: Haylar Garcia

Starring: Graham Emmons, Louise Macdonald, Brian Thompson

If there’s one thing the American educational institution has taught us, it’s to keep your wits about you.

Ever since the 18th Century American school shootings have sadly been a common occurrence across various states in the USA. A lot can be traced back to mental illness however within the subject matter we are going to look at today bullying is the perpetrator. Diving into his first creative output within our world of monsters Haylar Garcia makes his horror debut with An American Terror. Released back in 2014 An American Terror is the story of 3 outcasts battling their way through high school in an American suburb over run by popularity rather than morality.

The film opens with Protagonist Josh played by Graham Emmons making his feature film debut, awakening to the sound of a Harsh but relentless alarm. A narration of voices begging Josh to go back to sleep wash over the scene of Josh laying in a rickety bed. Giving the impression that this is routine the scene cuts to waist level shots of Josh’s parents arguing with josh sat at a table watching his childhood figureheads unfold in front of him. The way one scene cuts to the next is done in a very gritty style, this can be comparable to Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.

rsz_aat2Arriving at high school that day with fellow misfits Ray and Sammy we soon run into a group of jocks that add fuel to the inevitable fire. After an altercation, the 3 misfits then make a pact to seek revenge on the jocks that had so effortlessly ripped them a new one.

The acting within the group of jocks is fairly tepid and unconvincing but then again, it’s sometimes hard to capture the essence of being a dumb jock unless you’re one of those twats from high school musical. The choice of soundtrack is very suited to what an outcast would be associated with, ranging from genres of Punk to Industrial. This really compliments the montage scene of 3 teenagers drinking and plotting out a massacre.

A plan is formulated for Josh and Ray to find some guns while Sammy is in charge of making explosives. In their search, Ray and Josh come across what looks to be a legitimately run junk yard but little do they know what they’ve stumble across. After a mild break in they soon discover an underground tunnel not long before the one and only owner of the establishment returns trapping them within said tunnel.

rsz_aat3From this point in the film it very soon develops into a traditional teenage slasher type ordeal with our characters trying to outrun a masked maniac within an underground torture chamber. A criticism can be found is the films lack of elaboration on the character known as The Junker. Although mystery can be a positive I feel that with all the unique torture instruments and cult like memorabilia scattered around a bit of back story would have helped the flow of the film and made for a more memorable character.

Although with its dark subject matter An American Terror is average at best. 5/10

THE CHAIR: An Interview With Creator and Producer Peter Simeti by Matty Budrewicz

THE CHAIR:
An Interview With Creator and Producer Peter Simeti

chair1

A potent blend of twisted psychological horror, savage violence and hard-arsed prison drama, Alterna Comics’ cult 2008 graphic novel The Chair is about to make the big screen adaptation leap. The story of a perhaps wrongly imprisoned man’s fight against the brutality that surrounds him – barbarism most often meted out at the hands of one truly sadistic warden – The Chair has all the potential to become a fine mind-bending indie splat-pic classic; well, crowdfunds pending. In a UK exclusive, we got in touch with The Chair’s creator and now adaptation producer Peter Simeti for a quick confab about all things Chair related, and how you guys can help get this peach-in-waiting made…

UKHS: You’re a comic book mogul and now a movie producer; you’re not even thirty yet! For readers of UKHS who may not be too familiar with you, would you mind giving us a little background on yourself and the Alterna Comics brand?

Peter Simeti: Well that’s the first time I’ve heard it all put together like that! I’m not sure if it quite fits, but I won’t split hairs about it [laughs]. So a little about me, I created Alterna back in 2006 as a means to get my own work out there under a label so it wasn’t just a self-published work. It was just something to make it all seem a bit more official. But shortly after, I started receiving submissions and a lot of the stuff was actually really really good. I thought maybe I could help creators get their work out there and in turn we all would help each other. Alterna’s got a community aspect in that way. The books are all creator-owned, similar to publishers like Image, so Alterna doesn’t own any rights other than publishing and distribution.

chair2UKHS: How did the The Chair come about as a graphic novel? I understand that after you’d done your first book, Spectrum, the only good thing you took from it was realising that you didn’t want to do comics that were just superhero based.

PS: Yikes! We’re digging up the dirt here, huh! What an awful book Spectrum was [laughs]! Yeah, well the only really good thing that came from it was actually the fact that I had created Alterna Comics as a label to house my self-published work. Years later, Alterna’s published about sixty to seventy titles and because of that, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really talented people.

The Chair though was mostly spawned from the idea of having a character that was morally ambiguous. I really wanted to create something that would make people put themselves in the situation of these characters and decide on whether or not they’d behave the same or different. I think all the best stories do this kind of thing, showing a mirror up to the reader and making them think or feel the way the characters do. So with that, I created the Warden who has a bit of a sadistic and psychotic streak to him but at the same time, he’s a character that many people could probably relate to – which in itself is a bit odd, right? He’s kind of like a judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one.

He’s by no means a hero, but is he really a villain? And then the character of Richard Sullivan was created as a means to set up a conflict in the story; a character that you want to see where his journey takes him. But Richard also has a sordid and mysterious past, so is he really a guy to root for? That’s the kind of stuff people should be thinking about when they read The Chair and when they eventually watch the film.

UKHS: At what point did you start looking to turn The Chair into a movie then?

PS: I think it was around 2009 or so. We were getting approached by different production companies at the time but we always heard the same answer: it was a good story but just too dark for them. So we ended up putting it on the back-burner until about 2012 or so and interest started popping up again. Erin Kohut came up with the screenplay for the film and once we had that figured out, I got in touch with director Chad Ferrin about coming on board. I liked Chad’s indie mentality and I really enjoyed his film Someone’s Knocking at the Door so we thought he might be a good fit for The Chair. Chad loved the script and at that point we moved forward on finding a cast.

chair3UKHS: Ferrin is certainly the perfect fit for it. The Chair is every bit as dark and as uncompromising as The Ghouls, Someone’s Knocking or Unspeakable – which it’s very similar too – say. So how faithful an adaptation has Kohut crafted? Has anything been added or adjusted? How big a hand did you have in the scripts development as both the stories originator and the films producer?

PS: Erin edited the graphic novel as well, so that probably helped her to craft the screenplay since she was already close to the source material. The book is relatively short as far as feature films go, it’d probably be more like an hour of material. So for the most part Erin added some scenes, fleshed out characters, tightened up the plot and basically shored up any cracks that were in the book’s story. There really wasn’t a time where I’d read some of her changes and I’d ask her to change it back or to cut a part out. If anything, she really made it a better story than the book – how often does that even happen [laughs]?! So yeah I’m really happy with how it’s gone.

UKHS: It’s a creepy, oppressive and nasty book. Would you like to talk about some of your influences on it? You’ve said that The Twilight Zone was a major influence on you…

PS: Yeah it’s got a bit of Twilight Zone influence in there and probably some Batman as well, particularly any stories that had to do with Arkham Asylum or The Scarecrow since there’s a lot of psychosis involved. But there’s nothing that’s really derivative I think; something that you can pinpoint a scene and go “hey! that’s just like that other story!”. It’s more The Chair’s overall vibe.

chair4UKHS: How about your cast? It’s a very genre-friendly line up: Brian Thompson [The X Files], Eric Roberts [The Dark Knight], Zach Galligan [Gremlins]… There’s even two Ferrin regulars in there with Timothy Muskatell and Ezra Buzzington. How have they all responded to the material?

PS: Oh, everybody’s been so great about the material. Bill Oberst Jr. is just a perfect Warden, he’s going to be great in that role. Same thing for Brian [Thompson] too: he’ll be able to bring that vulnerability to Sullivan’s character, as well as that meanness and grit. All the actors have been very passionate about getting this film made, they all really believe in it. Naomi Grossman and Noah Hathaway are just tremendous additions as well – so talented. And we’ve got some great nods to comic fans with Susan Eisenberg, who’s the voice of Wonder Woman, and the voice of Green Arrow Kin Shriner in a scene together. Walking Dead fans will recognise Travis Love as the Commanding Officer too; it’s just a one after the other kind of cast. Just a great ensemble.

The crew is pretty terrific as well by the way, with a few notables like Tim Eckel who worked on Heroes and Veronica Mars; Paul Lacovara who was Tom Hiddleston’s stunt man in Thor, Thor 2, and the Avengers, and Charles Bernstein who composed the music for the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Between the cast and crew, it’s seriously a pile-up of who’s who in horror and comic films and I couldn’t be any happier!

UKHS: Now, I was going to bring up Oberst Jr. next. He certainly makes a strong impression in your teaser trailer [see foot of article]!

PS: Yeah, he’s great right?

UKHS: Completely! The face of the excellent Take This Lollipop app too… Anyway, let’s talk about that teaser. When and where did you guys shoot it? I take it you put it together as a taster for investors.

PS: Chad and David DeFino [The Chair’s gaffer] shot the teaser with Bill in Los Angeles, maybe about 2 months ago – some time in April. Yeah, we wanted everyone to have some kind of an idea of what they were in for and what the story would primarily be about. So we chose to highlight the Warden character in the teaser.
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UKHS: The Chair is being crowdfunded right? How’s it going and can UKHS readers contribute? It is UK-friendly yes?

PS: Yeah, so far we’re moving along nicely with twenty-ish days left and we’re at the $21K mark out of $300K. Our Kickstarter is indeed UK friendly – and all other countries as well – with shipping rates specified for each reward. Your readers can contribute with a pledge and by sharing the campaign on Facebook and on twitter:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/petersimeti/the-chair-a-horror-film-adaptation-of-the-graphic

UKHS: Finally, how far along are you in the films production? When are you hoping to have it before cameras?

PS: Other than the teaser trailer, we haven’t filmed a single second yet. That’s why the Kickstarter is so important. A lot of films get on Kickstarter to raise money for post-production work or to build buzz on their film and get rewards and pre-orders out to backers. But The Chair is still in pre-production and actually needs to raise its production budget. That’s why the mark has been set at $300K – to enable us to film a high quality movie with the cast that we currently have. If all goes as planned, we’ll start filming this October.

**********
Thanks to Peter Simeti.

Once again, check out The Chair’s kickstarter here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/petersimeti/the-chair-a-horror-film-adaptation-of-the-graphic

Dig on the flick’s teaser here:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/H66d9ppBScw]
Follow Matty on twitter @mattybudrewicz

 

 

 

Doctor Mordrid (1992) DVD Review

drm1Doctor Mordrid (1992)

Directors – Albert Band, Charles Band.

Starring – Jeffrey Combs, Yvette Nipar, Brian Thompson, Jay Acovone, Keith Coulouris, Julie Michaels.

 

Released in the UK on DVD by 88 Films on 17th Feb 2014.

 

Whenever I hear certain things to do with Horror I get goosebumps. Now when I received Doctor Mordrid (which I haven’t seen since the mid-nineties) I immediately got them there goosebumps.

Why? I hear you ask. Well Doctor Mordrid features many things which moulded me as a horror fan as I grew into the genre. Firstly it is from Full Moon Entertainment, directed by Charles AND Albert Band (I think this was there first together?) , stars the legend that is Jeffrey Combs and has a cameo (naked) from the lovely Julie Michaels.

 

Doctor Anton Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs- Reanimator , From Beyond) has been on earth for 100 years. He is in fact a sorcerer from the 4th dimension and is here as a guardian . He is awaiting the return of Kabal (Brian Thompson – Terminator, Cobra) who is his arch enemy and another sorcerer.

 

drm2Mordrid and Kabal had been childhood friends , happily playing with their powers until Kabal became power-hungry and evil . Thus started a 100 year war which ended when Mordrid locked Kabal up in a prison.

 

But Kabal has escaped and is on Earth to enact his revenge on Mordrid and make the planet his slave and plaything. But with the help from a new friend Samantha (Yvette Nipar – Robobcop TV Series) Mordrid sets about protecting the earth and also trying to keep alive while under attack from Kabal. Can Mordrid save himself and all of mankind?

 

Doctor Mordrid is a huge amount of fun, there is very little violence and no gore whatsoever but it is a hugely enjoyable piece of cinema. Jeffrey Combs is in fantastic form as Mordrid who is an intergalatic sorceror, he lives in an apartment block (which he owns) and then befriends his neighbour Samantha who just happens to be a special police advisor on cults and demonology (of course) , and this is very lucky for Mordrid as he later gets arrested for a murder.

 

The sets on Doctor Mordrid are brilliant, I just loved his huge and tardis like apartment which is just so much roomier on the inside. And Jeffrey Combs looks stunning in his later scenes as he wears his official high waisted sorcerer’s jump suit, very tasty indeed.

 

This is a great piece of early 1990’s low-budget filmmaking, admire how Mordrid watches a bank of TV screens showing the news, so he can see if anything points to a return of Kabal. And when he finds something he records it on long-lasting VHS tapes and even writes on the spine what is on the tape. I just hope he has removed the tab so he doesn’t tape over it!  Oh what retro lovliness.

 

Doctor Mordrid is a little confusing at the start , it basically just kicks straight into the story and tells the backstory as we go along. But once everything kicks into gear then Doctor Mordrid goes along at a great pace , is just the right length and is an enjoyable gem of a film.

 

drm3The ending is a little disappointing with a crappy dinosaur skeleton fight , but all in all this is a great addition to the 88 Films collection and will look great on your shelf.

 

So the last line must go to Kabal “ Before this is over I will drink your blood and eat your flesh, and it will taste sweet”!

 

7/10

SPECIAL FEATURES

• ALL REGION CODES
• VIDEOZONE – MAKING OF
• ORIGINAL TRAILER
• 88 FILMS TRAILER PARK
• BLUE CASE
• REVERSIBLE SLEEVE INCORPORATING