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Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’ To Hit Home Video On February 6th, New Poster Art Revealed!

Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’ To Hit Home Video On February 6th, New Poster Art Revealed!

Dark Sky Films today announced the official release date of VICTOR CROWLEY, the surprise fourth film in the fan-favorite Hatchet franchise. The film will be released on VOD, Digital and Blu-ray and DVD on February 6, 2018. Kept tightly under wraps for over two years, the slasher reboot unexpectedly debuted this past August. The highly anticipated release was shown in theaters across the country in October  as part of the “Victor Crowley Road Show.”

Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, VICTOR CROWLEY reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7X‘s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou.

In 2007, over forty people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

VICTOR CROWLEY’s ensemble cast also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes),

Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”). Writer/director Adam Green proudly returns to the director’s chair of his series that, upon debuting in 2007, was energetically touted as a return to “old school American horror,” and whose maniacal fan-favorite villain quickly secured a place among slasher royalty.

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www.darkskyfilms.com
www.victorcrowleylives.com

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Francesca Eastwood, Natalia Leite & Leah McKendrick On Bringing ‘M.F.A.’ To Life!

Francesca Eastwood, Natalia Leite & Leah McKendrick On Bringing ‘M.F.A.’ To Life!

When director Natalia Leite (“Bare”), writer/actress Leah McKendrick (“Bad Moms”) and leading lady Francesca Eastwood joined forces to bring the ‘M.F.A.’ to the masses, they had no idea of the incredible bond they would form during the process. The hauntingly powerful film, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, “Final Girl,” “Outlaws” and “Angels”), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with the trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation culminating in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she needs. Directed by Natalia Leite from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick. McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (“Westworld,” “Knight of Cups”).

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught with the inspiring women responsible for the success of this powerful film  — Natalia Leite, Leah McKendrick and Francesca Eastwood. In the interview, they discuss their passion for the film, the challenges they faced in bringing it from script to screen and the lessons learned along the way.

It’s great to have you all here today. Tell us about what sparked the initial idea for this film and what made it a story you all wanted to tell.

Leah McKendrick: It started from me feeling very frustrated by the things I was seeing in the media. There were stories on constant repeat about girls being assaulted on and off college campuses who the system had failed. I was feeling frustrated, hurt and angry, so I started writing this script. Eventually, I got it to a place where it wasn’t so dark because it had been very dark originally. I tried to infuse some humor and levity into it along the way. It wasn’t long before I was on the hunt for the perfect director. I knew in my mind that I needed someone who loved it and had a connection to it. To be honest, that’s not that hard to find as most women have experienced something and would feel a connection to a story like this, so that wasn’t even the hard part. For me, the hardest part was finding a director who understands it and knew what to do with it. I’m not a writer that wants to direct. I’m a writer that loves directors and I want a director to make it their own. That’s the most important thing to me; that it’s someone who is going to share your baby. Natalia was that person! I had seen her work and I had felt that she had a very intimate connection in film. I also felt that she could be the perfect addition and the perfect person to helm the ship. That’s when she came onboard.

Natalia Leite: The script came my way and Leah reached out to me. I read it and really loved the script. Honestly, I just felt that I had to make this movie. I was really drawn to the concept and thought the writing was really strong. We had some conversations where I told her what I would do. I felt that we were a really good match and the film would be a good way to talk about a social issue that I care a lot about in a way that is so accessible to people and can be entertaining while still opening up a bigger conversation.

What went into finding the right mix of actors to bring these characters to life on screen?

Natalia Leite: In terms of casting, we had to cast very fast because we had access to Chapman University and we had to try to shoot it before school started. We hit the ground running as soon as I signed onboard. Francesca Eastwood’s work came my way through our casting director, Arlie Day. Arlie sent over some materials and I loved Fran’s work, so we met for lunch and talked about what I was going to do with the film tonally and what she would bring to it. We wanted to make sure we were on the same page and that we were gelling together. It was perfect! Once we found her, no one else could have fit the role! Peter Vack is someone who I’m friends with and Leah had also thought of him for that part, so he came on. A lot it came from reaching out to people we had some connection to and thought could be good for the part. Clifton [Collins] came onboard somewhat last minute but was fantastic in the role!

Leah McKendrick, Natalia Leite and Francesca Eastwood.

You all came together to make this film and you all saw it from different angles given your role in the production. What was the biggest challenge you faced on the project?

Francesca Eastwood: I think the biggest challenge for me was the subject matter and the timing. While it wasn’t something I had initially thought of when I read the script but my mom said to me, “Wow. You really go through a lot physically in this film.” It was a very physically demanding role in terms of running around, long shoot days and shooting every day relatively quickly. That was a challenge but it’s also part of why this project is so awesome! The challenges were all good things! It was just as emotionally challenging as it was physically challenging. It was an extremely rewarding project to be a part of.

Natalia Leite: For me, it was a lot about tone. Like Francesca said, it’s a very sensitive subject matter and a controversial film. Finding the right balance between making it feel very realistic, yet not having it be a sad story all the way through was a challenge. It came down to making good informed decisions on how we would talk about this issue while still having moments of being entertaining and thrilling.

Leah McKendrick: I think the hardest thing for me was getting over the idea of the script being your baby. It’s just one thing and it’s going to change. A lot of things may end up on the cutting room floor and you have to get over the initial vision you had when it was just you and no one else involved!

Natalia Leite: Yeah, that was a difficult thing for me as well.

Francesca Eastwood: Yeah, as an actor reading it, that was hard for me too.

Leah McKendrick: I think, as an actor, when you pick up a script and are reading it, you become attached to the vision you have in your head. Maybe that comes from being an actor; becoming very attached to the journey that the characters go on. If one character gets cut out or whatever, your vision starts to feel incomplete. I think the strongest writer is the writer who can get over that. My mentor, Shintaro Shimosawa, who is also a producer on this film, is a writer. He is so un-precious about his work. He is always all about the best idea. I think while you can think you just want the best idea, I think you can be emotionally stunted by the fact that you’ve only been seeing what you have in your head and can be cutting yourself off from greater possibilities. Sometimes you’re just not seeing straight and you just want what is in your head. Getting over that and realizing that what can be created is better than what was in your head or on the script is definitely a lesson I’ve learned. It took me two years to write my script. There are points where it is just you alone in the coffee shop with your vision and you have to fight for it. Every step of the way you are fighting for that vision, so as it gets dismantled it can be heartbreaking. With that said, I’m very proud of our film and how it changed because of Nat and Franny, the producers, performers and creators on the film. I’m really proud of the end product!

It’s cool to see you all working together in this capacity and creating such an awesome film as the end product. What did you bring out in each other creatively?

Leah McKendrick: Building off of what I just said, I would say that Nat forces me to see my work in a completely different way. An example is that, as a writer, I use a lot of my real-life experiences. The scene where Fran’s character, Noel, is being peer-critiqued was different initially. In the original script, it was a conversation she was having with her professor and her professor is saying, “This isn’t good enough.” Nat came in and said, “I went to art school and a big part of art school is being critiqued by not only your professor but your peers.” I thought, “Oh my god! I love that!” I would’ve never thought of that because it wasn’t something that occurred in my real life. I went to school for acting and there is also peer-critique but, in my mind, I was remembering these moments where professors would pull me aside and say, “This isn’t good enough.” So, to answer your question, I think that Nat brings this whole world of experience to my work. I love the sense of judgement that it brings to Noelle’s early life in the film. She feels so naked initially. I really love that Nat is always forcing me to come up with the weirder, more unique, intimate and vulnerable version. Another great example is with the pool. Initially, after she went through her trauma, she ran and got in the shower because that is where I go when I feel very alone and very vulnerable and I need to feel more in touch with myself. Nat said, “I want her to do something weirder, more unique and more off because she is feeling off.” So, we had her walk into the swimming pool. That’s some of my favorite footage in the film. I think that another director might have just taken my script and made it the way it’s written, where I think Nat has challenged me to get a little weirder. With Franny, I think you are right in that we just trusted her and you ran with it but I love that! When I watch the film, sometimes she looks like a little girl to me, especially the scenes with my own character, Skye. I feel like we look like little girls and that is something we bring out in each other but, at the same time, there are times where we are vicious to each other, crying, upset and angry. I feel, as an actress, I’m able to both love and hate her at times in the film. In real love, I have the most love for you! I think we played it really well from both sides and it’s something that comes across really well. I think that is why people say to me so often that we work well together in the movie because it’s so sad, loving and all of these things. I think that is because we have that chemistry in real life?

Natalia Leite: I would add to what Leah said about pushing her to a certain place, I feel that you also did the same for me. I have a tendency to linger in these moments and I’m sure from an outsider’s point of view, I seem like a pretentious artist to sit in this scene for so long! [laughs] Leah would be like, “No, no. We’ve got to move. We’ve got to get to the point. We don’t just need to sit here. We get that she’s in pain.” I think that gave it more of a commercial appeal and made it a little more hard-hitting and faster, which was really good. It was such an amazing collaboration between the three of us because we are all strong women with strong ideas and all felt very invested in this story and film. There were times where we had to hash it out. I might think something should be one way in a scene but someone else felt it should go another. We would have to figure it out. For me, as a director, I’m also like, “OK, if you feel really strongly about it being this way that I didn’t really envision, convince me.” I’m always open to hearing someone else’s opinion about something, especially when it’s not my writing and ultimately Fran is the one who is living the character. It was a really awesome collaboration in that way.

You are inspiring females. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as artists?

Natalia Leite: Thank you for calling us inspiring females! [laughs] I love that! Thank you! I almost dropped the phone. [laughs] This film had a small, small budget and we really had to be a team and work together to make it happen. We had to really trust each other. Starting out, we didn’t even know each other when she sent me the script. Since making the film, we have all become friends, which is awesome! I think the lesson is that we all need to do it together!

Francesca Eastwood: I would say the most important lesson is to take risks, to do the things you believe in and also the things that you’re afraid of. If you believe in it and your heart’s in the right place, it’s a pretty good feeling getting to share that.

Leah McKendrick: If somebody would look at my career, I would hope it would inspire more women to take things into their own hands. No matter if they want to be directors, writers or actors, they shouldn’t be afraid to create their own work. You don’t need to wait for the industry to give you permission. As many leaps forward as we are making as female filmmakers, there is still so much work to do. I think you’re in trouble if you’re waiting for permission. For a long time, I felt so frustrated by the industry while trying to get work as an actress. That’s when I started making my own work. I’m glad that I did because not only can I make my own roles but I can make work that I believe in and speaks to the sort of issues in the world I feel need to be spoken on. I hope more women will do that!

That’s an awesome way to look at things! Thank you all for your time today! We can’t wait to see what you all have in store for us in the years to come and wish you continued success!

Dark Sky Films’ will release the haunting thriller,’M.F.A.’, in theaters, VOD and HD Digital October 13, 2017.

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Dark Sky Films To Release ‘M.F.A.’ Starring Francesca Eastwood on October 13th

Dark Sky Films To Release ‘M.F.A.’ Starring Francesca Eastwood on October 13th

Dark Sky Films has unveiled the release date of M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A. will be released on October 13th.

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety‘s Andrew Barker said, “An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre … Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style.” Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting called it “intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing.” “Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite,” said We Live Entertainment’s Nick Casaletto.

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Dark Sky Films To Release High-Octane Thriller ‘M.F.A.’ On October 13th!

Dark Sky Films To Release High-Octane Thriller ‘M.F.A.’ On October 13th!

Dark Sky Films has announced the release date of M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A. will be released on October 13th.

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety’s Andrew Barker said, “An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre … Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style.” Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting called it “intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing.” “Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite,” said We Live Entertainment’s Nick Casaletto.

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VICTOR CROWLEY: Teaser Trailer Debuts For Adam Green’s Surprise ‘Hatchet’ Film!

VICTOR CROWLEY: Teaser Trailer Debuts For Adam Green’s Surprise ‘Hatchet’ Film!

Hot on the heels of last night’s successful SURPRISE premiere of VICTOR CROWLEY in Los Angeles, Dark Sky Films unveiled the first teaser for the film. Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, VICTOR CROWLEY reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7X‘s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou.

In 2007, forty-nine people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

VICTOR CROWLEY’s ensemble cast also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes), Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”). Writer/director Adam Green proudly returns to the director’s chair of his series that, upon debuting in 2007, was energetically touted as a return to “old school American horror,” and whose maniacal fan-favorite villain quickly secured a place among slasher royalty.

Says Green, “I couldn’t be happier to partner with Dark Sky Films and bring Victor Crowley back to horror fans around the world. Resurrecting the series for its tenth anniversary was our way of saying thank you to everyone in The Hatchet Army and beyond who have supported this series since its inception. This bloodbath is for all of you.”

VICTOR CROWLEY will hit select U.S. theaters in October 2017 as part of Dark Sky Films’ “Victor Crowley Road Show”, wherein writer/director Adam Green (and other cast) will travel with and introduce the film at special one-night screening events across America. Internationally, the film is slated to bow at festivals worldwide – it will receive its international premiere this Saturday, August 26th at FrightFest in London, England. Adam Green and Kane Hodder will be in attendance for the gala screening.

Full road show schedule and additional release information will follow.

#victorcrowleylives

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VICTOR CROWLEY: Director Adam Green Unveils Surprise Reboot of His ‘Hatchet’ Franchise

VICTOR CROWLEY: Director Adam Green Unveils Surprise Reboot of His ‘Hatchet’ Franchise

Dark Sky Films has announced VICTOR CROWLEY, the surprise fourth film in the fan-favorite Hatchet franchise. Kept tightly under wraps for over two years, the slasher reboot unexpectedly debuted tonight at Hollywood’s ArcLight Cinema, shocking fans, celebrities, and industry professionals who gathered this evening to celebrate at an event coined as a “Hatchet 10th Anniversary Celebration.”

Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, VICTOR CROWLEY reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7X‘s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou.

In 2007, forty-nine people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

VICTOR CROWLEY’s ensemble cast also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes), Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”). Writer/director Adam Green proudly returns to the director’s chair of his series that, upon debuting in 2007, was energetically touted as a return to “old school American horror,” and whose maniacal fan-favorite villain quickly secured a place among slasher royalty.

Says Green, “I couldn’t be happier to partner with Dark Sky Films and bring Victor Crowley back to horror fans around the world. Resurrecting the series for its tenth anniversary was our way of saying thank you to everyone in The Hatchet Army and beyond who have supported this series since its inception. This bloodbath is for all of you.”

VICTOR CROWLEY will hit select U.S. theaters in October 2017 as part of Dark Sky Films’ “Victor Crowley Road Show”, wherein writer/director Adam Green (and other cast) will travel with and introduce the film at special one-night screening events across America. Internationally, the film is slated to bow at festivals worldwide – it will receive its international premiere this Saturday, August 26th at FrightFest in London, England. Adam Green and Kane Hodder will be in attendance for the gala screening.

Full road show schedule and additional release information will follow.

#victorcrowleylives

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Colin Minihan and Brittany Allen On Bringing ‘It Stains The Sands Red’ To The Screen!

Colin Minihan and Brittany Allen On Bringing ‘It Stains The Sands Red’ To The Screen!

Director Colin Minihan and Brittany Allen on set.

Colin Minihan and Brittany Allen are an unstoppable force in cinema. This dynamic duo first joined forces with Minihan’s ‘Extraterrestrial’ in 2014 and have continued to build their creative chemistry with their latest project, ‘It Stains The Sands Red.’ A truly unique zombie film, ‘It Stains The Sands Red’ centers around Molly (Brittany Allen), a troubled woman from Las Vegas who finds herself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Stranded in the desert with a ravenous zombie on her trail, she easily outpaces her undead pursuer initially, but things quickly become a nightmare when she realizes the zombie doesn’t need to stop and rest. Running low on supplies and beat down by the harsh environment, Molly will have to summon the strength she never knew she had to face the zombie and the demons that chased her all her life. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with director Colin Minihan and leading lady Brittany Allen to discuss their creative journeys, the challenges of bring ‘It Stains The Sands Red’ from script to screen and what the future holds for them!

What attracted you to the arts early on in life and led to you pursuing your passion as a career, Brittany?

Brittany Allen: I was one of those kids who, as soon as I could walk and talk, I was singing and putting on shows in my backyard. I was always trying to get my parents and neighbors attention by doing shows! When I was in junior kindergarten, when I was about 4 years old, I begged my parents to ask one of my teachers if I could audition for the school talent show. Now, I can’t even fathom that I was that ambitious and driven as a 4-year-old! [laughs] I did and my parents were always so supportive and awesome! They asked the teacher, I auditioned and I sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” from the “Wizard of Oz,” which was my favorite movie at the time, in front of the whole school. It was always something that was in me and because I did it from such a young age, in my adult life I have kind of had to reassess what it is that draws me to it. I’m not doing it for the same reasons I was at 4 years old but, even through the trials and tribulations of this rollercoaster of a business, I have always come back to it and I love it.

What drew you to filmmaking and captivated you about telling stories?

Colin Minihan: Oh, good question! For me, I grew up in a really small town. I’m just one of these guys who stumbled upon his mom’s VHS camera at the age of 8 and never put it down! Maybe it was the sense of escapism that I needed in the situation that I grew up in within the town and with whatever problems I might have been facing at home. Being able to see the world through a different lens and create a fictitious tale within that I think is something that played a big part in my initial discovery of appreciating cinema and how it can take you to another world. That was a big thing for me as a little kid. Then I developed more of an understanding and appreciation for it is an art form, in terms of the technical side of it. Once you get going down the rabbit hole, it just kind of goes and goes and goes! So, here I am! [laughs]

You have been hard at work crafting a resume, Brittany. Which project had the biggest impact on you?

Brittany Allen: I would say “It Stains The Sand Red” is one of them, for sure. It’s challenged me in a way that I’ve never been challenged before. I think, for a lot of years, I was achieving a certain level of work in my acting classes, in a small circle of friends and even in auditions but I had yet to be given the opportunity to showcase that work in a substantial way. This was the first film to really give me that platform. It forced me to work through any habitual ways of approaching the work and allowed me to dig deeper, get more truthful and vulnerable in front of the camera than I ever had before. I was incredibly grateful for this film. Colin and I actually just finished another film about a month ago that was equally as fulfilling. He tends to write these really incredible roles for females. Leading up to the shoot, sometimes the feeling I find taking over me is fear of how the hell I am going to do this physically, mentally and emotionally! Then you show yourself that you can do it and you come out feeling so powerful and inspired, so much so that you think, “Okay, I just proved to myself I can do that. What more can I do? What other challenges are out there?” There is often more opportunity in independent film to have roles like that.

How did the idea for “It Stains The Sands Red” come about and what made it a tale you wanted to bring to the screen?

Colin Minihan: The idea came about pretty organically. I had just relocated to Los Angeles after making another film called “Extraterrestrial.” “It Stains The Sands Red” came out of the desire to want to create something new and build on what I had done in the past. Moving to California, I was seeing a lot of the desert for the first time and was really inspired by the landscape. The whole zombie element came out of a conversation I had with Stu [Ortiz]. We had just finished watching “World War Z” and were like, “Jesus, man. They’ve really done everything with zombies now. It’s not even like a horror thing anymore. It’s an action/tentpole kind of a thing, ya know. What hasn’t been done with zombies?” He was like, “I don’t know, man. Maybe like … just one zombie.” I was like, “That’s a great idea!” We combined that initial thought with our bleeding desire to shoot something in the desert for whatever reason … whether it was to conquer it or, well, I don’t know. The story eventually started to find itself. At first, it found itself as a film about a guy struggling to outrun this zombie. Eventually, we changed it to a girl and I think that made the script really come together a lot better.

What is your process for bringing a new character to life, long before you step on set?

Brittany Allen: It is something that is always evolving for me. It depends where I’m at in my work and maybe with some new techniques that I might have learned. It’s a combination of things. I have studied with a lot of teachers and learned a lot of different methods and approaches to acting, so I pull from all of them. It’s a combination of really understanding who the character is on the page, their history, where they are at in their life and what they need from the people around them. I really try to visualize and empathize with who this person is but I also work a lot with substitution. Substitution is the process of using facets, relationships and experiences from my own life to channel into the character and relate back to the character. If I haven’t experienced something they have, I can think, “OK, what’s the core thing that is going on here and how do I feel that in my own life?” For this film, there was a lot of that because Molly is so different from me. She had a very different upbringing than I did and sees the world through different eyes. On a surface level, at least, I had to find the ways that we were similar. In fact, it really did tap into a lot of my own insecurities, fears and struggles with the things I have run from in my own life. It was an opportunity for me to confront those things and make it more real and personal for me.

Every project presents unique challenges. What were the biggest challenges in bringing “It Stains The Sands Red” to life?

Brittany Allen: One of the biggest challenges for me was the amount of material coupled with exhaustion and the cold! We were trying to avoid the drastic heat of the desert during shooting but none of us realized that it gets freezing cold in the desert during the winter! [laughs] We actually shot just before the winter but it was particularly cold for that time of year. Having to balance all of those elements was quite a challenge. There are hardly any other characters that speak in the film, so the amount of material for my brain to process every single day was huge! The hours we were working were really long and the role was also physically demanding, which led to incredible exhaustion. I would step on set and be freezing cold! Right before a take, they would spritz water on me to make it look like I was sweating from the desert heat. Meanwhile, everyone else is in their parka and I’m in a little tube top and tights! [laughs] Those things combined definitely made for a very challenging shoot but it was all the more rewarding because of that!

Colin Minihan: It was kind of a weird thing. Stu and I were about to step into a new project and direct a different film but that project kind of went away at the last second. We had the script for “It Stains The Sands Red” and we knew we had written it for a low budget. We just kind of said, “Ya know what? We’re shooting it by this date.” We had a friend in Nevada who wanted us to shoot it out there. We went and visited him and he convinced us that we could do it. I would say the biggest challenge was doing it on the money we had available. It’s always a challenge. The same challenges you have on a $3 million budget are the same challenges on a movie that costs $300,000. It always comes down to time. In this case, we decided to shoot in the winter, so the conditions would be better and people wouldn’t be dying of heat stroke but that meant they were horribly uncomfortable in the cold. It was challenging for Brittany, for sure, dealing with the weather and terrain. For me, I was constantly racing the sunsets. There weren’t a lot of hours of daylight. I would be shooting the last few scenes with just a sliver of the sun above the horizon. You are racing the clock every day, shooting in 20 days and could always use another 20 days! It all comes down to time. It’s a universal challenge.

You both worked together in the past and just shot another feature together. Brittany, what does Colin bring as a director and out of you creatively?

Brittany Allen: Great question! He’s a genius, pretty much! He has such a strong vision and is the hardest working person I know. He’s deeply passionate about filmmaking. The first film we made together about four years ago, “Extraterrestrial,” was the first time I had met and worked with him. Watching him was exhilarating. It felt as if his energy was contagious to the rest of us! His passion and dedication to achieving the best things he could out of everyone at any given moment really pushed people to rise to the occasion and made them feel like they were making something special. I think that level of passion, commitment and attention to detail is really great for everyone to be around. I really admire him deeply as an artist and he challenges me to be my best. Now that we have worked together so much and we know each other so well, he doesn’t let me do anything less than what I am truly capable of. With that said, he knows how to push my buttons and sometimes, in the moment, it might not be what I want to hear. Anyone standing nearby might think, “Wow, that was intense!” Then we look back and it’s like, “Oh, wow! If he hadn’t of said that, I might not have gotten to that place.” I’m so incredibly grateful for the partnership.

 

Brittany, you mentioned adding to your skill set as an actor as time goes by. How have you evolved at your craft?

Brittany Allen: I think the biggest thing I have learned, that I’m still learning and the most important thing I have worked on as an actor, is becoming more comfortable with myself as a human being. As I have gotten older, worked on different projects, worked with different teachers and worked on myself more, it’s been mostly about letting down my guard. It’s not about performing but being OK with letting people see the parts of yourself that, in your daily life, you might instinctively try to hide. It’s been about bringing down those walls, being comfortable and not only letting the people in your direct surroundings see that part of yourself but knowing that it’s going to be captured on film and seen by many, hopefully! I think that is the biggest area of growth for me. Our instincts as a society are to hide the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves, so it’s a long journey to let down those walls but I do think that I have made strides towards that over the past few years.

You have interesting projects on the horizon, Brittany. Where should we be on the lookout for you next?

Brittany Allen: Shortly after the release of “It Stains The Sands Red,” I have “Jigsaw” coming out in the fall, right around Halloween. That’s a film I was really happy to be a part of and I got to work with the Spierig Brothers, who are a really great directing duo. It was super fun to shoot! I think they have given the brand new life. Based on the trailer alone, I think that film is going to be pretty cool! That’s the next thing and following that will be the film that Colin and I just made. It’s called “What Keeps You Alive.” Hopefully, it will start playing the festival circuit soon and it will be out soon enough!

Brittany Allen as Molly in ‘It Stains The Sands Red.’

It’s inspiring to see everything you created on your own terms, Colin. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as a filmmaker?

Colin Minihan: I don’t like to take 100 pitch meetings and pitch on projects that are not my scripts, that I’m not passionate about or that I would just be doing as a job. I feel like I thrive the most when, although I am making it for an audience, at the end of the day I’m making it for me and I’m not trying to play anybody else’s rules to get it made. In the case of “It Stains The Sands Red,” we raised the money independently and just went and made it! I think it’s a doable thing in this generation and in this day and age with how advanced everything is in terms of technology and what you need to create a really high end result. You don’t really need a lot. You just have to have that creative spark and idea that you can do it on a lower budget and enough drive, determination and craziness to go out and do it! I don’t think the amount of money you have necessarily dictates how good the film is going to be. If you are willing to take the artistic risk, go there and put yourself out there, then that’s all that really matters!

Well, said! Well, seeing as you both have plenty of irons in the fire, I’m sure we’ll be chatting again soon! Thanks for your time today and I wish you both continued success!

Brittany Allen: I’m sure we will! Thank you so much!

Colin Minihan: Thanks for you time, Jason!

Colin Minihan’s ‘It Stains The Sands Red’ hits select theaters and on VOD and Digital HD July 28th from Dark Sky Films.

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‘STAKE LAND II’ To Hit Blu-Ray and Digital Platforms This February

‘STAKE LAND II’ To Hit Blu-Ray and Digital Platforms This February

Stake Land set a new standard in vampire apocalypse thrillers in 2011, and now the eagerly awaited sequel arrives to push the story and its characters to the next shocking level. STAKE LAND II, again starring Nick Damici and Connor Paolo, will be available across digital platforms on February 7, 2017.

The film will also be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning February 14, 2017.

STAKE LAND II, a Dark Sky Films presentation of a Glass Eye Pix production in association with Berserker Entertainment and Last Pictures, is a new adventure set several years after the events in Stake Land, in which mankind must struggle to survive in the wake of a vampire apocalypse. When his home in New Eden is destroyed by a revitalized Brotherhood and its new Vamp leader, Martin finds himself alone in the badlands of America with only the distant memory of his mentor, the legendary vampire hunter Mister, to guide him. Roaming the wilderness of a steadily decaying country, Martin searches for the one man who can help him exact revenge.

Once reunited, Mister and Martin prepare to confront the ravenous Brotherhood and its monstrous overlord. But it’ll take more than the two of them to battle this terrifying new threat, and with the future of humanity hanging in the balance, the stakes are higher than ever before.

Reuniting one of horror cinema’s most memorable heroic teams, STAKE LAND II is an epic exploration of a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by blood-thirsty vamps and social collapse, where only the strongest survive.

The film brings back some of the key cast and creative team behind the post-apocalyptic hit Stake Land. Nick Damici (Hap and Leonard) reprises his role as Mister and is also the screenwriter, while Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl, Revenge) is back as Martin, and director Jim Mickle (We Are What We Are, Cold in July) is back as executive producer. It is the second film from directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, following their gripping debut, Body. Also starring in STAKE LAND II are Laura Abramsen (Basic Human Needs), A.C. Peterson (Shooter), Bonnie Dennison (Beneath), Kristina Hughes (Green River) and Steven Williams (TV’s Supernatural).

The original Stake Land received prestigious international festival play and won the Midnight Madness Audience Award at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. It was a commercial and critical success around the world, praised as “The American horror film of the year” (Twitchfilm), “terrific” (New York magazine), “bold and memorable” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “nothing short of epic” (Dread Central).

Praise for STAKE LAND II has been equally enthusiastic since its world premiere at the 49th Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival (2016). Horror Society called it “the perfect sequel, the perfect continuation of the story … the vampiric sequel we’ve all been dying for.” Amy Seidman of Fangoria opined: “Olsen and Berk’s direction is as strong as Matt Mitchell’s cinematography which is beautiful and, at times, reminiscent of Robert Altman’s westerns.”

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STAKE LAND II: Official Poster Art And Release Date Revealed!

STAKE LAND II: Official Poster Art And Release Date Revealed!

Stake Land set a new standard in vampire apocalypse thrillers in 2011, and now the eagerly awaited sequel arrives to push the story and its characters to the next shocking level. STAKE LAND II, again starring Nick Damici and Connor Paolo, will be available across digital platforms on February 7, 2017. The film will also be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning February 14, 2017.

STAKE LAND II, a Dark Sky Films presentation of a Glass Eye Pix production in association with Berserker Entertainment and Last Pictures, is a new adventure set several years after the events in Stake Land, in which mankind must struggle to survive in the wake of a vampire apocalypse. When his home in New Eden is destroyed by a revitalized Brotherhood and its new Vamp leader, Martin finds himself alone in the badlands of America with only the distant memory of his mentor, the legendary vampire hunter Mister, to guide him. Roaming the wilderness of a steadily decaying country, Martin searches for the one man who can help him exact revenge.

Once reunited, Mister and Martin prepare to confront the ravenous Brotherhood and its monstrous overlord. But it’ll take more than the two of them to battle this terrifying new threat, and with the future of humanity hanging in the balance, the stakes are higher than ever before.

Reuniting one of horror cinema’s most memorable heroic teams, STAKE LAND II is an epic exploration of a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by blood-thirsty vamps and social collapse, where only the strongest survive.

The film brings back some of the key cast and creative team behind the post-apocalyptic hit Stake Land. Nick Damici (Hap and Leonard) reprises his role as Mister and is also the screenwriter, while Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl, Revenge) is back as Martin, and director Jim Mickle (We Are What We Are, Cold in July) is back as executive producer. It is the second film from directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, following their gripping debut, Body. Also starring in STAKE LAND II are Laura Abramsen (Basic Human Needs), A.C. Peterson (Shooter), Bonnie Dennison (Beneath), Kristina Hughes (Green River) and Steven Williams (TV’s Supernatural).

The original Stake Land received prestigious international festival play and won the Midnight Madness Audience Award at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. It was a commercial and critical success around the world, praised as “The American horror film of the year” (Twitchfilm), “terrific” (New York magazine), “bold and memorable” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “nothing short of epic” (Dread Central).

Praise for STAKE LAND II has been equally enthusiastic since its world premiere at the 49th Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival (2016). Horror Society called it “the perfect sequel, the perfect continuation of the story … the vampiric sequel we’ve all been dying for.” Amy Seidman of Fangoria opined: “Olsen and Berk’s direction is as strong as Matt Mitchell’s cinematography which is beautiful and, at times, reminiscent of Robert Altman’s westerns.”

stakeland-2-poster

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John McNaughton Talks ‘Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer’ On It’s 30th Anniversary!

John McNaughton Talks ‘Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer’ On It’s 30th Anniversary!

john-mcnaughton-2016-1

Since he was a boy, John McNaughton wanted to make movies. Little did he know his directorial debut would still be thrilling audiences 30 years after it’s release. It was a game-changer, a film so upsetting in its blunt depiction of an amoral murderer it made the slasher films of its time look like cartoons by comparison. “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” became a lightning rod in heated debates about cinema and censorship but has only grown in stature since its first showing in 1986.

“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” is a chilling profile of a cold-blooded killer that, 30 years after its historic festival premiere, has lost none of its power to shock. The film, loosely based on a true story, has been hailed as one of the most disturbing and terrifying examinations of mass murderers ever filmed. Henry (Michael Rooker, “The Walking Dead”) is a psychopathic drifter who coldly murdered a number of people for no reason and without remorse. Leaving bodies in his wake, Henry makes his way to Chicago, where he settles into the run-down apartment of his drug-dealing former prison friend and occasional roommate Otis (Tom Towles). Also moving into the space is Otis’s younger sister Becky (Tracy Arnold), who is fleeing her abusive husband. As she fends off her brother’s incestuous advances, Becky finds herself attracted to Henry – unaware he, along with Otis, are continuing their murderous rampage.

Director John McNaughton completed the film in 1986, and it was shown at that year’s Chicago International Film Festival. But it wasn’t until 1990 that a U.S. distributor gave it a wide release. Henry predates the NC-17 rating and received its predecessor, the X rating, on three separate occasions. As a result of it and related issues with Almodovar’s “Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down,” Phillip Kaufman’s “Henry & June” and Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover,” the MPAA created the NC-17 as its replacement on Sept. 26, 1990. Henry’s current rating is “X (Surrendered)” though a renewed rating is pending. The film’s violence, and the clinical, detached portrayal of Henry by the unforgettable Michael Rooker, originally earned it the MPAA’s highly restrictive NC-17 rating.The response from critics and the public was as visceral as the film, and it went on to gain praise as one of the most compelling and disturbing films of modern cinema.

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” returns with a thrilling, cinematic presentation that cements its reputation as one of the most harrowing and original American films of all time. Dark Sky Films, a division of MPI Media Group, presents it in a brand-new 4K scan and restoration from the 16mm original camera negatives, featuring a new 5.1 audio mix from the stereo 35mm mag reels, all approved by director John McNaughton.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with John McNaughton to discuss the making of the film and how the story ripped from the headlines impacted not only it’s audience but the course of his career.  

Your debut film, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer,” has become a cult classic. What got the ball rolling early on for you and this film?

The inspiration was my lifelong dream to become a filmmaker. It wasn’t that I had this particular idea in mind, I just had the bug! I had gone to school and making films is what I had intended to do with my life. However, life throws you curve balls occasionally. It certainly threw me a few! [laughs] I went around out on the road with a traveling carnival for a number of years in addition to living in New Orleans for a few years. I had a lot of big adventures in life that had nothing to do with filmmaking, although I did take a lot of still photographs of the carnival and my life on the road. Eventually, I found my way back to Chicago and decided that those days were behind me and it was time to really buckle down and do what it was that I had intended to do with my life. I wound up getting a job in my cousin’s bar, in the south suburbs of Chicago, so that I could have an income. I had no idea of how to get from there to a career as a filmmaker, although I had bought some film making equipment and was doing whatever I could.

One afternoon, a gentleman came into the bar and had a few extra drinks. It was a small, tight knit group of people who hung out in the bar. Many of them have grown up together and their families know each other. If you became part of that group, you pretty much knew everybody and they knew you. Everyone knew my intention was to become a movie director and they all thought I was crazy! [laughs] This guy who came into the bar, who I had never really seen before, came in wearing a trench coat and had a mustache and said, “Oh yeah! You’re the guy who wants to be in the movies, right?” I said, “Yeah?!” He threw a card on the bar that said Maljack Productions, Inc. This card was not designed by one of the world’s greatest graphic artists! He described what these guys were doing at the time. This was about a year or so before there was any such thing as home-video. They had these black plywood boxes that contained Super 8 projectors that projected a one-hour loop of Super 8 film featuring mostly public domain cartoons, old comedy shorts and Charlie Chaplin stuff. It was in the public domain so they didn’t have to pay royalties on it. It was silent because the machines did not reproduce sound and there was no sound on the Super 8 film. They had a deal going with Pizza Hut and some other chain restaurants in the suburbs where they would lease them this box. It would project on a movie screen and play this one-hour loop over and over again. Everyone loved it and it was a big novelty. The film had to be changed just like the program has to be changed at a real movie theater. You can’t play the same film forever. It was my job to go from Pizza Hut to Pizza Hut and bicycle the prints, which is what they used to call it in the film business. I would move prints from Pizza Hut A to Pizza Hut B and move them down the line. I was doing that for those guys. I did that for about a year until I left their employ and my cousin’s bar to become a union carpenter. I actually ended up remodeling Burger King’s at night. It had its charms and left me time in between Burger King’s to actually pursue my so-called film career.

Michael Rooker and John McNaughton on the set of the cult classic.

Michael Rooker and John McNaughton on the set of the cult classic.

After a while I got a call from Waleed Ali. The Ali Brothers had gotten into the video business and they wanted to talk to me about some ideas. I went out there and wound up working with a guy named Ray Atherton, who appears in “Henry” as a guy who gets the TV smashed on his head. Ray was a wheeler-dealer and kind of a nefarious character! [laughs] He was a very bright man and had been one of the original video pirates. He had been a film collector as a kid and it’s a very odd group in those days because they collected prints. Back in those days, you could buy prints of TV shows for $10. Prints of movies? I don’t know but they weren’t that expensive because once they had their initial run they were often ground-up because they were not considered to be of any value. There were certain people, especially in Hollywood, that love the movies and they would collect prints. They have screening rooms and they would show them. Even though it was copy written material, they were only showing it to six or 12 friends in their screening room in Bel Air, so no one was going to arrest them! [laughs] Once home video came in, you could not duplicate these things and sell them if they were in the public domain. You will be surprised what fell into the public domain. People like MPI, in their initial business, were dealing in a fair amount of public domain. They will acquire the rights to whatever they could afford but there’re a lot of things I didn’t have to acquire the rights to. For instance, “Night of The Living Dead” had fallen through the cracks. Their copyright was improperly registered and it fell out of copyright as did a few other valuable properties. If you could duplicate it, you could sell it because it wasn’t copywritten!

Every wheeler-dealer thought they could get rich in the video distribution business because it was a Wild West market in the beginning. It then became a matter of who had the best print to duplicate from. A lot of it was just really bad. Ray, being a film collector, knew all the other film collectors of which there really weren’t that many in America. He could always locate the best prints, so he worked with those guys, got them the prints, advised them on public domain and what they had to buy. It got to the point where they were buying the rights to old B horror films. They were doing very well because a lot of those films had not been seen in years. They weren’t showing them on TV because they were too sleazy. Although they were big hits in the theaters, they were very popular rental items. The Ali brothers were buying the rights but as they became more and more popular the cost to buy the rights became more and more prohibitive. At that point, Waleed decided they would make their own horror film and would own all rights until perpetuity. He offered me $100,000 to make a horror film. It didn’t matter what it was and there was no supervision whatsoever! No creative interference ever on that film!

Michael Rooker in 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.'

Michael Rooker in ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.’

How did the story of Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole come onto your radar? What type of research did you do to flesh this idea out?

This was before the Internet, so we went as deep as we could. Right after Waleed had offered me the $100,000, I left his office without knowing what I was going to make the film about. I had no idea! [laughs] I walked about 20 feet to an office two doors down from his wherein was an old friend of mine named Gus Kavooras. We went to grammar school and high school together. I had gotten him the job there because I was friends with the Ali Brothers. Gus had this odd job of being a connoisseur and collector of arcane, crazy, dark, weird stuff that they would try to turn into things that they could sell. He had his office just piled with video cassettes of all this stuff that he had gleaned. I walked in and said, “Gus, Waleed just offered me 100 grand to make a movie.” He said, “A movie about what?” I said, “I have no fucking idea! Horror but that is the only parameter.” [laughs] He reached over and grabbed a VHS cassette and popped it in the VHS player. Up comes the news show “20/20,” which is a one-hour newsmagazine with three segments. I don’t remember what the other two segments were about but the one that he showed me was about Henry Lee Lucas. As I say, I have always been a true crime aficionado and I’m pretty well brushed up on all the major crimes and criminals. I, to this day, watch true crime documentaries on TruTV, et cetera, et cetera. It was presented that this guy was a serial killer and that the whole idea of serial killing was something new. I hadn’t heard the term. I found out years later that the term was exactly two years old and had been coined by the FBI two years prior because it was something they hadn’t been experiencing before — random murder!

There was Henry! He was speaking to the camera and it was like, “Holy geez!” He had a wandering eye and as scary as he was to look at in some ways he had an ease and slow charm where he was able to get close enough to kill them. They didn’t have video of Ottis but they did have pictures of him. When you saw this guy walking down the street, unless you were blind, you would run! They also had photos of Becky. They told Henry’s story on that segment. We had footage of him in various photographs that were gleaned by the group who put together that show. We also had various magazine articles and newspaper articles from the time. Like I said, there was no Internet at the time so there was no Google! We amassed a little portfolio and that’s what we worked from!

The actors in the film gave tremendous performances. As a first-time director, what did the cast bring to the table you might not have expected?

It is really starting to occur to me now, many years later, now that I have actually done some theater what they brought from that world. Tom Towles was a member of The Organic Theater Company, along with Richard Fire, Joey Mantegna, Dennis Franz, Dennis Farina and Stuart Gordon was the artistic director. They had some really big successful plays in Chicago and they were really gifted people. They had all been trained in theater arts. Tom Towles, I believe, had trained at Second City and came from an improvisational comedy background. Tracy Arnold was originally from Texas and I think she went to school to study drama. Michael Rooker studied drama at The Goodman School. Michael had worked in theater, along with the rest of them. Tommy had extensive theater background. While they had almost no movie credits, they certainly had experience.

Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold and Michael Rooker.

Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold and Michael Rooker.

One could argue Chicago is the fourth lead character in “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” Many films are shot in Chicago but few are able to capture it. What was it like capturing the grittiness of the city where you grew up in your first feature film and did you experience any blowback from the public for capturing a dark side of your hometown?

No. I think Chicago was just happy to be photographed! [laughs] I often tell people that I didn’t go to film school but I did go to art school. I did study hard at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana for two-and-a-half years. By the time I got the film and television, I switched schools and came back to Columbia College of Chicago and took television production as a major and still photography as a minor. My passion was still photography because it was an art form. I love the streets of Chicago because I grew up on them and I’ve spent a lot of time photographing things on the streets of Chicago. Some stuff I still have! I quit taking photographs for quite a number of years, especially when I got into the movies and had people to do it for me, but once I got my first iPhone I got back into it. I have 35,000 photographs on my laptop right now! I just love taking pictures again! I don’t even use my iPhone as a phone that much, I use it more than anything as a camera! It’s just so convenient. A lot of those places in the movie were places that I had put a pin in, so to speak, thinking, “Someday!” When it came time to pick the locations for the film, I knew I would shoot something there because they were such great locations. Other locations we had to find like the motel at the end of the movie. At the screening the other night someone came up to me and said that The Sunset Motel is still there in a town on the Illinois/Wisconsin border. When I first got on Facebook, I was putting up Chicago pictures from my iPhone and I had mentioned that my opinion of Chicago is that it’s one of the most photogenic cities that I’ve ever been in and I have lived in numerous! Someone immediately said, “Well, have you ever been to Paris?” It’s like, “Yeah, I have been to Paris numerous times. Everything is absolutely beautiful. When you go to press the doorbell, the little sconce around the doorbell is like a prize. It’s a beautiful little art nouveau work of art. Everything in Paris is gorgeous, no doubt about it!” However, I didn’t say Chicago was the most beautiful city, I said it was the most photogenic city! It is. You can almost hold up the camera, click it without looking and bring it down and say, “Wow! Look at that!” It’s got everything from some of the greatest modern architecture in the world to the worst slums available, in the United States at any rate, and everything in-between. It’s just a wonderful city to shoot in!

Michael Rooker as Henry in one of his most riveting performances.

Michael Rooker as Henry in one of his most riveting performances.

How did the making of the film impact your future work?

Well, it affected my future work in that I think the folks that funded it were kind of shocked by it. I think what they were looking for was genre exploitation and this was their worst nightmare — an art film! [laughs] They didn’t know what to do with it and they didn’t think they were going to be able to sell it. They just kind of put it away and figured they would make a real genre horror film and when they sold that they would make them take “Henry.” That was their plan but it didn’t work out that way! It took a while for the film to pick up some momentum. I went 18 months without any income. I had the money I had made from making Henry, I had credit cards and I had a free place to stay at my cousin’s house across from the bar where I had been working. Eventually, because they were a video business and they had a young man named Chuck Parello doing their PR and because I knew a lot of people, I would just keep having him send out cassettes until it got shown a few places. It finally hit a critical mass at the Chicago Film Festival 30 years ago. There was also a little screening in New York where a critic from the “Village Voice” went all out and wrote a two-page piece saying it was the best film of the year. Then it went to Telluride, where Roger Ebert saw the film and boom, that was it! At that point I started to get offers of very bad horror films to direct! [laughs] But it did begin a career for me and that was a good thing!

How do audiences respond to this film 30 years later and how does it differ from the initial reaction?

henry-portrait-of-a-serial-killer-2016-posterThere is something I hadn’t expected. Since “Henry,” I have written a lot. I worked with Richard Fire writing the original script for “Henry” and he had come from years in the theater. He had been writing for years and I had not. I learned so much from him. It seems when I’m not correcting I am almost always writing something or rewriting something. When I sit all alone writing, I make things funny so that I can amuse myself. If I can make myself laugh at least I’ve accomplished something! [laughs] Richard had a great sense of humor and was a wild, wild character. Unfortunately, he passed away last year. Thirty years ago when we showed the movie, we would usually lose 10 percent of the audience. Ten percent of the audience would go flying out the door, especially during the home invasion scene. No one laughed. There was never a peep of laughter. I always tell people, “Watch that movie three times and once the shock wears off, it’s pretty funny, especially Tom Towles!” Tom Towles studied improvisational comedy and he is basically playing a comedic role as Otis: a buffoon, a clown! At the screening Friday night, there was quite a bit of laughter! I don’t know if we’ve just become numbed or more coarsened in the last 30 years or what. Someone asked during the Q&A how many people have never seen the movie before and well over 50 percent of the people in the room raised their hand. They did not have the benefit of having the initial shock wear off and they were laughing at the funny stuff, which I found to be quite a change from 30 years ago.

A successful filmmaker, what is the best lesson we can take from your journey?

Director John McNaughton

Director John McNaughton

[laughs] Well, as my father often told me and I never listened and as I often tell young people, “Become a dentist!” [laughs] It’s a much more guaranteed way to make a good living. I don’t know what to say. Some of the breaks have to fall your way. I had a lot of bad breaks fall my way. As I often say, my late cousin whose bar I worked at had Polio very young. He was pretty disabled from it but he was the luckiest man I have ever known. He would get in the football pool, he would win. When he played cards, he would win. When it was just pure luck, he would win but he was not terribly fortunate and he eventually ended his life. He had something called Post-Polio Syndrome where people who had polio as children would have it come back on them in their 40s and disable them severely. He ended his life because he was losing mobility. I have never been lucky at all. I never win anything but I’ve been very fortunate. To recognize the difference between good luck and good fortune is important and I’ve been very fortunate.

What else is in the cards for you in the near future? Last time we spoke you mentioned getting your fourth feature with Bill Murray off the ground. Where do we stand with that and everything else you have going on?

That movie has been up-and-down I don’t know how many times. We have been working on it for eight years. It seems like we’ve been making these little baby steps but we are still working on it. We have Linda Cardellini, who gave Bill that script over eight years ago. Interestingly in this business, she was going to play the girl and now she’s going to play the girl’s mother eight years later. [laughs] We also have Josh Hutcherson involved and for a short while we had Miley Cyrus on board but the money just didn’t come together and Miley had a career to maintain, so she had to leave. So, we need a girl and we are working on that. I think we get a little closer month by month. A couple of things happened and for the first time I can sort of feel that we’ll get a girl pretty soon and then I think we’ll be able to go. I’m looking forward to that! I’m getting ready to open the doors of the little company that I have put together that is in control of eight to 10 scripts that I have either written, co-written or own the rights to. It’s called Mr. Punch Productions, which is based upon Punch and Judy, which is something very dear to me! I will be trying to get those projects out into the marketplace, get them set up and made! I’m hoping that “The King of Counterfeit,” which is the Bill Murray project, will happen as well!

That’s awesome! Thank you so much for your time today, John! I wish you continued success wherever the journey takes you!

[laughs] I have no idea, I never have, so we will see!

The 4K restoration nationwide re-release of John McNaughton’s ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ begins on October 21, 2016. Connect with John McNaughton on Facebook and Instagram.

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