Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Submit your Days of the Dead questions.

We're less than three weeks away from Days of the Dead Atlanta (check out their website HERE). Since it's Atlanta's first horror convention, you know Son of Celluloid will be there covering the event. I'm going to be prowling the hotel and interviewing anyone and everyone I can. That's where you come in. Below is the guest list for the con. I know you've got those burning questions you've always wanted to ask these folks. Well, here's your chance. If there's anything you want me to ask any of them (provided I get the opportunity), tell me and I'll be glad to ask for you. Leave comments with your queries, and I'll see you at DOTD.

- Rowdy Roddy Piper (They Live, Hell Comes to Frogtown, WWF)

- Sid Haig (Devil’s Rejects, Spider Baby, Galaxy of Terror, Big Bird Cage)

- Bill Moseley (TCM 2, House of 1000 Corpses, NOTLD90, Repo)

- Gary Busey (Piranha 3DD, Predator 2, Silver Bullet)

- Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons, Silent Night Deadly Night, my dreams...er…I mean Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers)

- Mark Patton (NOES 2)

- PJ Soles (Halloween, Carrie, Rock & Roll High School, Uncle Sam)

- Dey Young (Rock & Roll High School, Serpent & the Rainbow, Running Man)

- Amelia Kinkade (Night of the Demons 1-3)

- Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Chopping Mall, Lords of Salem)

- Laurence Harvey (Human Centipede 2)

- Jeff Burr (dir: From a Whisper to a Scream, TCM3, Pumpkinhead 2, Puppetmaster 4)

- Tyler Mane (Rob Zombie’s Halloween 1 and 2, X-Men, WCW)

- Micah Sloat (Paranormal Activity 1&2)

- Circus Envy & Lily White (local horror hosts, official DOTDA MC’s)

- Elissa Dowling (Dread, Theatre Bizarre, Bloody Bloody Bible Camp)

- Derek Mears (Friday the 13th remake, Hills Have Eyes 2, Predators)

- Brian Steele (Predators, Underworld, Hellboy)

- John Russo (writer/producer Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Santa Claws)

- Ari Lehman (Friday the 13th, First Jason (band), ThanXgiving)

- Walking Dead Zombies: Melissa Cowen, Ashleigh Joe Sizemore, Larry Mainland, Sonya Thompson, Charles Casey, Keisha Tellis

- Nick Principe (Laid to Rest 1&2, Madison County)

- Alex Vincent (Child’s Play 1&2)

- J. LaRose (Saw 3&4, Insidious, Mother’s Day)

- Jake Busey (Starship Troopers, The Frighteners, Identity)

- Tom Woodruff Jr. (effects: Pumpkinhead, Aliens, Monster Squad, Leviathan, Tremors)

- Alec Gillis (effects: Galaxy of Terror, Aliens, Monster Squad, Leviathan, Tremors)

- George Kosana (Night of the Living Dead, The Booby Hatch, Incest Death Squad)

- Patterson Lundquist (Elvira Impersonator)

- Taaffe O’Connell (Galaxy of Terror, New Year’s Evil, Caged Fury)

- Nivek Ogre (Skinny Puppy (band), Repo: The Genetic Opera, 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Interview: Days of the Dead promoter Adolfo Dorta

The ‘ol Son of Celluloid is excited folks. Really excited. Downright giddy to tell you the truth. As a horror freak, one of the things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance was go to a horror convention. There has never been a horror con in Atlanta, and traveling can be a rather expensive proposition. I’d look at those ads in Fangoria and Rue Morgue and hear people talk online about what a great time they had and think “Why? Why can’t something like that come to Atlanta?” Yes, there were horror events in town, but not a convention. The closest thing we have is DragonCon. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with D*Con, but there’s very little for the hardcore horror fan there. What little there is you have to search through a jungle of superheroes, Klingons, anime, steampunk, and D&D to find.
Well folks, the prayers of the dirty south gorehounds have been answered. Finally a real horror con is coming to the Atlanta Area. March 9-11 at the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center in Peachtree City is Days of the Dead: Atlanta. Go check out their website HERE. Guests like Sid Haig, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bill Moseley, Barbara Crampton, Gary Busey, and Linnea Quigley will appear, along with some killer movie screenings, events, and partying with fellow horror geeks. I, for one, can’t wait! I want to see all of my Cellmates there. It’s going to be epic. I spoke with co-promoter Adolfo Dorta to get the lowdown on what kind of coolness he has in store for us.

SOC: First of all, thank you for finally bringing a horror convention here. Why do you think it took so long for a horror convention to come to the Atlanta area?

Adolfo: You know, I'm puzzled by that myself. While other, much smaller, cities have gotten horror conventions in their respective backyards a major market such as Atlanta has gone woefully neglected. With such a rich underground horror scene and close proximity to other attractive markets in the southeastern United States, Atlanta seemed like a no-brainer to us.

SOC: What was it that made you choose to come here?

Adolfo: I'm originally a Florida native and have lots of friends from the Atlanta area who I know have longed to have a horror convention in their area for years. Additionally, with the success of Indianapolis, we were looking to expand and our good friend Circus Envy (who is from the area), did a great job of selling us on the idea of setting up shop in Atlanta on account of it having such a thriving underground horror culture. Finally, you have guys like Luke Godfrey (with Gorerhound Productions) and Shane Morton who have been raising such an excellent scene there for years, really setting the precedent for something like DAYS OF THE DEAD, and we're very thrilled to be working alongside them in taking the city to the next notch on the nationwide horror ladder.

SOC: Why did you decide to hold the event in Peachtree City instead of actually in Atlanta?

Adolfo: Our exact location was more a product of finding a great host hotel. The Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center was one of several on our list of possible locations but turned out to be the one who was willing to work the most with us in bringing DAYS OF THE DEAD to the region - they went so far as to call the site of our last Indianapolis show, the Wyndham Indianapolis West, to gather as much information about us and were ready with long list of ideas on how they could best cater to our needs based on a logistical level based off what they learned. They really did their homework on what it takes to host a horror convention successfully and have really gone above and beyond for us throughout the entire process.

SOC: What has the response been like from the Atlanta horror community?

Adolfo: It's been great so far and well exceeded our expectations. We've gotten a ton of emails from people excited to finally have a great horror convention in their home town area as well as a lot of enthusiasm from the local horror personalities, film makers, and media outlets. We're very stoked to be coming into a situation where we are being so warmly embraced.

SOC: Who are some of the guests you’re particularly excited about?

Adolfo: I look forward to all of our guests but being a total special FX geek, I always get excited about meeting the guys who make the props and creatures in my favorite horror films and Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. are about as talented as they get in the business. I also love the "Men behind the Mask" guys, such as Derek Mears, Tyler Mane, and Brian Steele. Finally, I'm very interested in meeting Laurence Harvey after his excellent performance in Human Centipede 2.

SOC: What can con goers look forward to as far as programming and panels?

Adolfo: We love to keep the fans busy and out of their hotel rooms - basically if you have any down time, we didn't do our jobs. Aside from having over 30 celebrity guests on hand to meet fans and two dealer rooms with over 50 vendors, patrons will be kept busy all weekend long with an array of events including Wickedbeard's Costume Contest, our Scream Queens and Men Behind the Mask panels, close to a dozen film screenings, a tattoo contest, and other unique shows you wont see at other conventions. The party only just begins after the dealer room and celebrity rooms close, with our Monsters Among Us Costume Ball and An Evening With Roddy Piper on Friday night, VIP Party and Girls and Corpses Beauty Pageant on Saturday, and all manner of revelry and debauchery that has come to make the first DAYS OF THE DEAD show in Indianapolis legendary among convention fans.

SOC: Yeah, I've heard about the crazy party atmosphere of the Indy DOTD. Care to elaborate on what we're in for in Atlanta?

Adolfo: Haha. The last interview that I did where I spoke about this caused a local stir and got some local officials within Peachtree City a little concerned about the kind of party DAYS OF THE DEAD is anticipated to be. As with everything else that made that show so great, I hold the fans completely responsible, albeit in the best way possible. I’m curious to see if Atlanta can party as hard as Indianapolis, which left me VERY surprised mostly due to the fact that nobody got arrested that weekend. (SOC Note: Oh, let me assure you, Atlanta can party!)

SOC: What kind of movie screenings will there be?

Adolfo: We're very excited to be showing some great indie films from up and coming film makers in the genre, such as Joshua Hull's, Beverly Lane, and Zach Parker's, Scalene. We also have some films from local talent being featured such as Ace the Zombie and the much talked about, Dear God, No!. Finally, we also will be presenting the world premiere of The Collective: Volume 3 from Jabb Pictures, as well as a special never before shown workprint screening of Return of the Living Dead and a special midnight screening of Human Centipede 2 on Saturday night.

SOC: As a convention promoter, how important to you is using the con as a platform to help promote independent horror?

Adolfo: I’ve always said that while the mainstream celebrities are the glamour and glitz of a convention, the indie filmmakers and artists are its heart and soul. I have many of friends who are in the independent film business and their spirit well represents the future of the genre as well as film in general. As important as it is to be aware of your history, it is equally important to nurture the future.

SOC: Was DOTD Indianapolis the first con you promoted and if so, what did you learn that you instituted with DOTDA?

Adolfo: DAYS OF THE DEAD's Indianapolis show was in fact the first convention myself and Rick were involved in, however our other partner, Bill Philputt, has been doing them for many years and was even one of the people responsible for starting the HorrorHound convention in Indianapolis. While Rick and I may not have had much hands on experience going into the first one, we do have many, many years of convention going experience as fans which gave us quite a bit to draw from in terms of ideas when crafting THE ideal fan going experience. There were a few logistical hiccups in Indianapolis that we have learned from for Atlanta, but most of it is behind the scenes stuff that fans don't notice, the kinds of things were by correcting them we hope to work smarter and more efficiently as opposed to harder. It's actually flattering to repeatedly hear from many vendors, fans, and guests, that the first DAYS OF THE DEAD was one of the most organized and well run show they have ever attended.

SOC: It seems that horror cons are popping up more and more frequently in the last few years. What sets DOTD part and makes it unique?

Adolfo: It seems like many conventions out there are what I call "Coffee Shop Shows" - you walk in, make your selections, pay your money, and leave. From the onset, one of our biggest area of focus is to make DAYS OF THE DEAD a weekend long experience, almost like a mini-vacation for horror fans to enter a world outside of the one they occupy in their "normal" day to day lives. Between the film screenings, panels, guests, parties, and other events, there is plenty to do for a full 3 days. Most importantly though, DAYS OF THE DEAD is a "by the fans, for the fans" show - many other conventions may make similar claims, but DAYS OF THE DEAD truly lives up to it. Every patron is a member of our extended horror family and an individual reason as to why our show is unique and special. We provide all the ingredients for a killer reunion of horror fans and then turn it over to them to do the rest.

SOC: I've heard other con promoters/attendees talk about cons in the south having a unique atmosphere. What do you think will give DOTDA that "southern horror flair?"

Adolfo: Every show I've ever brings its own regional flavor as an influence to the overall product, from the midwest to the east coast to the south west. I don’t know that I can predict exactly what DAYS OF THE DEAD Atlanta is going to look like and I’m actually very excited to find out and be surprised by what the fans have in store for us, much as I was surprised with how Indianapolis turned out. The best we can do is set the stage, provide the tools, and then turn it over to the fans to dictate the direction in which the party goes in. In the end, it's the convention goers that represent the most important ingredient in any successful event.

SOC: What is your earliest memory of the horror genre, and what was it that made you a fan?

Adolfo: Much like most people my age, I grew up in the wonderful VHS era, where there was a mom and pop video rental store on every other corner. My mother was always strict about making sure I stayed out of the horror section lest I be stricken with nightmares by some of the ridiculous cover art that was so common back in those glory days. Despite her best attempts, I always found a way to sneak away and marvel at the gruesome, gory, and over the top imagery that adorned those beautiful boxes, and the fact that it was “forbidden fruit” made it that much more enticing. My curiosity went on to grow into a way of life, one which I have been fortunate to now turn into two really awesome projects – my website, From Dusk till Con, as well as DAYS OF THE DEAD.

SOC: If you had the power to bring in any one person, live, dead, or otherwise, as a guest at DOTDA, who would it be?

Adolfo: It would probably have to be Christopher Lee or Jamie Lee Curtis. Because as requested as they always are, I could probably retire after bringing them in. On a personal level, I would probably choose to resurrect Lon Chaney and have him as a guest. On a more realistic note, there are two living guests that would fit this criteria, and one of them will be a guest at DAYS OF THE DEAD's next Indianapolis show. The other is David Cronenberg.

SOC: Do you have any last words?

Adolfo: We're all very excited to be bringing DAYS OF THE DEAD to the Atlanta area and are hoping to have this be the first of many years of invading the Peach State. For those who haven't already, you can get your discounted advance tickets and book your hotel room at http://www.DaysoftheDead.net/Atlanta. See you at the show.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Skew

I’ve said before that there are some movies where the credits are the best part. Usually I’m saying that the movie sucked, but sometimes I mean something entirely different. As much as I hate to sully the good name of a flick I liked by bringing up an M. Night Shamwow film, do you remember the first time you saw The Sixth Sense? Once you found out that Bruce Willis was dead, you went back over the movie in your mind and started picking out the clues. You’ll be doing the same thing with Skew. As much as I dug the movie, the most enjoyable part for me was during the credits when I began to go back and process the film in light of the final twist, putting all of the pieces together. That’s the sign of a well written film.

In Skew, Rich, his girlfriend Eva, and their friend Simon set off on a road trip to a wedding. Laura, Simon’s girlfriend, has decided at the last minute not to go. Simon brings his new camcorder and is constantly filming, much to the annoyance of Rich and Ava. Tensions begin to mount as we slowly discover that there may be more to the three friend’s relationship than meets the eye. Further complicating matters is Simon’s camera. It distorts people’s faces. Then those people die. Then the camera shows their ghosts. Is Simon losing it, or is the camera, which he just can’t put down, really showing him these things? As nerves fray and people die, can the three friends survive? Who’s next? What happened with Laura? What’s up with that camera? Is it still under warranty? Did Simon keep the receipt?

According to the press kit, Skew was filmed in 2005. That fact is very important to my enjoyment of the film. I have made no bones about the fact that I am absolutely sick of found footage movies. It’s like any cinematic or musical genre. The first wave was mostly good. Then we got the imitators, which were a mixed bag at best. Now we’re seeing the imitators of the imitators, and in some cases the imitators of the imitators of the imitators, and their originality and quality have suffered accordingly. Since this was filmed in ’05 however, that puts it way ahead of the curve. It was after Blair Witch in ‘99 but before Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield in ‘07. In fact, the only FFFs I can think of made between ’99 and ’05 were The Last Horror Movie and the August Underground flicks. Watching the conventions of the subgenre, like night vision or the slow pan around the room culminating in a jump scare, is incredibly irritating when watching one of the third or fourth generation flicks. Watching this and knowing that it was innovative at the time makes these things impressive. It’s a damn shame that post production and distribution took 5 years, because if this had beat the FFF glut it would have been a big hit.

The best thing about this movie is that it’s smart. Extremely smart. It has the kind of plot that you get on a surface level while it’s going on, but you really get when you ponder it later. The way we slowly find out about the underlying tensions and sub-plots between the three main characters keeps the tension high and the revelations coming. This is the only time I’ve ever seen a found footage movie where the audience is not sure if what we’re seeing is real. We see the footage being rewound, so are we seeing through the camera or the eyes of the cameraman? The strange stuff is gone when it’s rewound, so was the camera really showing it or was it just what Simon was seeing through it. It would seem that questions about visual identification wouldn’t lend itself to this subgenre, but this flick plays with the concept perfectly.

This would probably be more accurately described as a psychological thriller than a straight ahead horror flick, as it focuses more on the story and less on visceral shocks. When the film did go for a jump scare, however, they were great. There’s one in particular that is one of the most original “startle shocks” I’ve seen in a long long time. I’d much rather a movie show me a few scare moments done well than rely on constant cheap jump scares throughout. One performance stood out as particularly good, that of Amber Lewis as Eva. She came across as very genuine. She kept an air of mystery about her character that helped the subplot of…wait…I’m not giving that away. Almost slipped up there. Anyway, she’s very good, Taneal Cutting is good (and really hot for the record) as Laura, and Rob Scattergood does some good voice acting as Simon, who we never really see. Richard Olak, who played Rich, was pretty good for the most part, but there are a few moments where he’s looking into the camera while Simon is talking, and I have no idea what emotion he’s supposed to be conveying. Honestly, he looks like he’s taking a dump a couple of times there. At the end when he confronts Simon, his performance felt kinda restrained.

I did have a bit of a problem with the pacing of this movie. It’s slow. I mean really slow. I have no problem with a slow burn, but there were parts of the movie where it drug. The back of the DVD describes it as “steady-paced.” I think that’s stretching it a bit. It does a good job of holding the tension about 85% of the time, but I think a couple of minutes trimmed from certain parts would have kept things moving at a steadier clip without sacrificing the deliberate pace. The movie could have benefited from being tightened up a little. A couple of these spots that could have been tightened up involved the camera being put down pointing at nothing while we hear the action going on off camera. I see and dig what they were going for here, basically turning it into a radio drama and making us imagine what’s going on, but I think that technique would have been more effective if it had been used more sparingly.

This flick has been making quite an impression on the festival circuit, and I can see why. Smart storytelling like this is, sadly, getting more and more scarce in the horror genre. Skew rises above the POV-shot pack to deliver an atmospheric, intelligent, well made independent thriller that’s definitely worth seeing. I know, I’m burned out on found footage flicks too, but don’t let that stop you from seeing Skew. It’s damn good. It’s one of those movies where you realize just how intricate the seemingly simple plot is after the finale. Pay attention, just about everything in this movie means something, from major occurrences to little seemingly insignificant lines. It does get a little slow in places, but the payoff is worth the wait. Just don’t watch the trailer before you watch the movie. I’m serious. In fact, I IMPLORE you not to watch the trailer. Remember those really good shock scares I was talking about? The trailer gives most of them away, and they’re too good for you to want to spoil. Trust me. To tell you the truth, the production stills and press photos reveal too much. In fact, just avoid any press about this flick until after you see it. Well, except for this review. It’s a little late now, isn’t it? Oh well. I don’t believe it’s available commercially on DVD yet, but it is available on Netflix. One and a half severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

SOC's first giveaway: Win screen used props from Dear God No!

You've heard Son of Celluloid and every other horror blogger, reporter and newssite out there worth it's salt rave about the best American flick of last year, Dear God No! The bikers vs. bigfoot indie phenomenon is proving to be a force to be reckoned with on the festival circuit, just picked up international distribution, and will be invading the US on DVD soon. If you haven't seen this flick, you're missing out. You're in luck too, because there's a screening at Days of the Dead, Atlanta's first horror convention, coming up March 9, 10, and 11. Go HERE for all the info.
Anyway, director James Bickert has hooked me up with some killer prizes to give away to my Cellmates. These are not just any prizes, these are actual props from the movie. As much as I want to keep these for myself, I'm giving you a chance to win them as my way of saying thank you for reading Son of Celluloid and supporting independent horror. Here's what we've got...
If you read my interview with Bickert (
HERE) ...what am I talking about? OF COURSE you read it. In that case you remember us talking about the hilarious homages to his favorite filmmakers throughout the film. Well, you can now own some of them. In the "bait shop scene," Quint's Hushpuppy mix, Jess Franc-O's, and Uncle Bruno's Country Style Peas & A.I.D.S. can be seen stocking the shelves.
Later, Dr. Marco's daughter brings the Impalers wine spiked with...well, you'll have to see the flick to see what wicked concoction she serves. All you need to know is that when you want to serve the bikers murdering and raping your family the very best, you serve deOssario. 1918 to be exact. A great vintage. Well, here's one of the bottles that appeared in the flick. Don't worry, it's empty. No bigfoot juice. Just "La noche del terror" goodness.

In addition to one of each of these kick ass rare collectibles, the winner will also receive a copy of the insanely awesome poster featuring art by the insanely awesome Tom Hodge. That's it at the top of the post. That pic is the censored version, the poster I send out will be the original nipple baring version. It will even be autographed by the director. If I'm feeling generous, I might pick a couple of runners up to give posters to.
So, by this point you're thinking "Holy crap! What do I have to do to win this awesome prize pack?" Well, it's pretty easy. There are three steps...
1. If you haven't already, become a follower of the blog.

2. If you haven't already, go HERE and like the facebook page.
3. Leave a comment on this post with your name, email, and the answer to this question: All of these items are references to a film or filmmaker. Tell me what/who at least one of the items is a reference to.
See, it's that easy. The winner will be chosen at random on March 20. Sorry guys, but because international shipping costs an arm and a freakin' leg, this contest is only open to those in the continental US. Good luck folks, and I hope to see you at the Dear God No screening at Days of the Dead: Atlanta. You do not want to miss this flick.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rest in Peace Bill Hinzman

The world of horror lost a beloved icon when Bill Hinzman lost his battle with cancer on Sunday. There are few faces more iconic in my mind than that of Zombie #1. Night of the Living Dead is my favorite film of all time and, with the possible exception of Rocky Horror Picture Show, the movie I have seen the most times in my life. I couldn't begin to count how many times I've watched him shuffle among the graves as Johnny intones "They're coming to get you Barbara." I also couldn't begin to count how many times I've thrown that flick in at the end of a long day and faded off to sleep watching him bash Johnny's head in and break that window. It's my go to cinematic comfort food, and he is definitely one of the main ingredients. His pale visage is imprinted on my mind the same way Misfits songs are. I know that might sound overly sentimental to some, but I don't care. He terrified audiences, and at one time he scared me too, but for years seeing him has actually warmed my heart, and I'm sad to see him go.
Hinzman holds a very special place in horror history. He was the first zombie seen in the film that redefined what a zombie was, making him the first modern zombie ever on celluloid. He worked with Romero again, appearing in The Crazies and Season of the Witch. Since then he's appeared in films such as Santa Claws and Shadow: Dead Riot. He also directed a couple of fright flicks; The Majorettes and, ironically, Flesheater. In recent years was a fixture on the convention circuit. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but I have never heard him described as anything but pleasant, friendly, fun, and genuine by those who have. Son of Celluloid would like to offer condolences to his family and friends, and thank him sincerely for his contributions to the horror genre.
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