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DREAD CENTRAL: Legendary Horror Website Shifts To Publicly-Funded Format

DREAD CENTRAL: Legendary Horror Website Shifts To Publicly-Funded Format

Dread Central, the premier website for breaking news and in-depth original content in the world of horror, has announced that after a decade of independently serving fans, independent filmmakers, and studios, it will shift its operations to the publicly-funded service Patreon by March 2017.

“Due to sweeping shifts in studio advertising dollar allocation and the ever-shifting landscape of horror, if we are to survive, we need to make this change,” said Dread Central Editor-in-Chief and horror pillar Steve Barton. “Over the past ten years, we’ve supported filmmakers and their projects by sharing their films with our extensive readership free of charge.  We don’t want to sell out to a conglomerate or shut down the site so we are joining with crowdfunding platform Patreon to keep our independent voice.  We need everyone’s support.”

Through a monthly subscription of just $1.00 a month, or $12.00 a year, via www.patreon.com/dreadcentral, Dread Central will be able to provide a new, ad-free experience with cutting-edge and exclusive content to horror enthusiasts and subscribers.  This move will ultimately allow the site to continue to support the unique voices of genre filmmakers worldwide.

“In order to survive, Dread Central must now become a publicly-funded service, and WE absolutely NEED to subscribe,” said Halloween director John Carpenter. “$12.00 a year. $1.00 a month. That’s it, and Dread Central will remain able to continue to support the filmmaking community and horror audiences alike, with the love, care, and voice that they historically have.”

“Patreon is all about making it easy for websites like Dread Central to connect with patrons and share exclusive content,” said Jordan Cope, Patreon Creator Talent Lead.  “We’re excited to partner with such a renowned horror website and can’t wait to be a part of the next decade of incredible work.”

Founded in 2006 by Barton and long-time collaborator Jon Condit and staffed with such notable horror journalists as Staci Layne Wilson, Sean Decker, Andrew Kasch, Debi Moore, Buz Wallick, and countless other contributors (many of whom have gone on to filmmaking careers of their own), Dread Central has strived tirelessly to provide objective and all-inclusive coverage of horror cinema and culture in all its forms: from on-set visits to red carpet premieres and everything in between – all with an historic and keen eye on independent cinema.

To subscribe to Dread Central, visit www.patreon.com/dreadcentral, and for more information visit www.dreadcentral.com.

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ABOUT DREAD CENTRAL
Founded in 2006, Dread Central Media, LLC, provides one of the leading, most well respected horror news sites on the Web (DreadCentral.com) and offers the most up-to-date information on the latest horror projects, including trailers, stills, video interviews, and audio podcasts.  In addition to films, Dread Central covers all aspects of the genre including television shows, video games, music, literary offerings, live events and other gatherings, and collectibles; and it also houses one of the largest horror review databases found anywhere.  Along with working with all the major studios, Dread Central is a champion of independent filmmakers, and many of them have chosen the site to premiere their efforts.  As a result, Dread Central has been instrumental in assisting them with gaining exposure and procuring distribution. If it has something to do with the dark and horrific, you’ll find it at DreadCentral.com.

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MONSTERLAND: Producers Jesse Baget and Steve Barton Discuss Their Spine-Tingling Project!

MONSTERLAND: Producers Jesse Baget and Steve Barton Discuss Their Spine-Tingling Project!

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Some of the best films the horror genre offers are anthology films. From “Creepshow” to “Tales From the Darkside” to more recently, “Trick r’ Treat,” horror anthologies are adored among horror fanatics. After a down period in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, the horror anthology film has recently come back to life in the form of films like the “V/H/S” series and “Tales of Halloween.” While a great thing for fans, the horror anthology is also a place for producers to provide talented new filmmakers an outlet to showcase their abilities.

Fresh off the successful experiment that was 2015’s “Zombieworld,” producers Jesse Baget and Steve Barton shifted their attention to monster films and brought a brand new group of young filmmakers along with them. While there are some hits and misses throughout its 109-minute runtime, “Monsterland” is an excellent addition to the rapidly growing sub genre. These guys know what they are doing and you should pick up the film.

Steve Johnson of Icon vs. Icon recently sat down with producers Jesse Baget and Steve Barton to discuss their influences, the challenges and rewards of their careers in the filmmaking industry, and the process of bringing their most recent anthology, “Monsterland,” to life.

Jesse Baget

Jesse Baget

Jesse, I’ll kick things off with you. What attracted you the the film industry early on?

Jesse: I probably just wanted to be super famous. I think that’s all it’s been about. [laughs]. That hasn’t worked out very well. [laughs]. I’ve always loved storytelling. I think that’s the bottom line. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, whether it’s writing or directing or producing or distributing. I’m pretty entrenched in every aspect of the movie world at this point. It’s fun. If I get bored with one aspect of it, I can start working on another aspect.

Steve Barton: Jesse has worn many hats. This cat has done everything in the industry. He’s amazing dude.

Steve, you came from the world of horror. How did the experience inform what you would end up doing with film?

Steve Barton: This the deal. I am a firm believer in you do what you know. I’ve always been the person who loves horror movies. When everyone else was growing up they had pictures of chicks and cars on their walls. I had fucking Leatherface and Frankenstein posters hanging up. [laughs] That’s who I was and who I am. When I started with Fangoria about 15 years ago and now that I’ve been with Dread Central for 10 years … this is all I know. This isn’t a job or act for me. It’s in my blood. By the grace of God, I’ve gotten a chance to really explore all aspects of the horror genre from making the movies, to seeing how they’re made, to overall being a fan and always loving them. The horror genre ends up being very personal to the fan and I recognize that in everything we do collectively with Ruthless Pictures and Dread Central. We try to keep the frame of mind that we are making these movies because we want people to have a good time. We want people to not only get introduced to new filmmakers, but to order a fucking pizza, get some beer, and sit down and watch these things and have that personal communal experience with you friends. Whether you like the movie or you’re just sitting there tearing it apart, at least you’re having that experience. We’d prefer that you like the movie though. [laughs]

Who would you guys cite as the biggest influences on your careers? Was there anyone in a mentoring role or someone behind the scenes giving you a push?

Steve Barton: An unstoppable force!

Steve Barton: An unstoppable force!

Steve Barton: I’ve had two influences in my life when it comes to the horror genre. I’m honored to say that both of them have become very close friends. George Romero’s work raised me. I cut my teeth on his movies. His movies taught me the difference between right and wrong because I’m from a dysfunctional family circus. Someone had to teach me something and I learned a lot from George’s movies Once I got into the business I was lucky enough to kind of be mentored by Sid Haig. He took me under his wing. He explained to me how this shit worked, what I needed to look out for, and what I needed to focus on. Without those two people in my life to foster me and teach me, I don’t know where I would have ended up. They were the voices of reason for me. I love them both dearly and I hope I don’t annoy them too much when I am around. We do give tips to each other and stroke each other’s hair. [laughs] In all seriousness, of course there’s no stroking going on, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it … [laughs] They are really gentle people and we do have a little bit of a bromance. We really dig each other. How’s that for a long winded answer. [laughs]

Jesse: I’m having trouble thinking about anyone in particular. I moved out to Hollywood knowing that I wanted to make movies. I didn’t know anybody. For about 12 years I got fucked in the ass by almost everyone I met. Maybe they were my greatest teachers. I certainly learned a lot about this business from them.

You paint such a great picture!

Jesse: Yeah. There were many people who helped me. I certainly like to remain close to those people you can actually trust and can have fun making movies with. At the end of the day, I think Steve and I just want to enjoy the process.

Steve Barton: We keep each other from fucking up. Jesse and I are like the dynamic duo in a weird way. Wow! How smarmy does that sound! He learned everything from being put through the ringer by people from L.A. I’m lucky enough to have a few folks around me who, because we were friendly with each other, showed me the ropes. What each of us learned coming up we applied to working with the younger filmmakers when it comes to putting together these kind of movies. Almost every time we will have a meeting with a filmmaker, whether it be on Skype or on the phone, it always sounds like they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. They’re like, “What’s the bad part about this?” We don’t drop the shoe. We want to work with these people and help get them into the business. There is some talent out there. We get sent a lot of movies. When we see something that we think is really cool or really fucking weird like “Happy Memories,” we want to help that and move that along. We want to help nurture it and work with these cats by teaching them how to make the movies and what to put together. What Jesse and I are effectively doing is creating a friendly environment where a young filmmaker doesn’t necessarily have to get fucked in the ass. We know how badly things can suck and how much of this business has been some of the most cutthroat shit we’ve ever seen. We try to really shield people from that because it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Zombieworld” preceded your most recent release, “Monsterland.” What did you learn from that experience that you brought over to the new film?

'Zombieworld'

‘Zombieworld’

Steve Barton: We learned a fucking lot! [laughs] “Zombieworld” was very much an experiment. We didn’t know what we were doing. We had a concept, but we had no idea if it would work or not. I think that if you watch the two films back to back, you can see that with “Monsterland” we’re a little bit smarter. We came up with a little bit more of a cohesive theme, than the anarchy that was “Zombieworld.” We took all of the valuable lessons we learned, whether it be to go to work with specific filmmakers, how to deal with filmmakers from other countries, contacting them in their own time zones, which is always fun. [laughs] We took what we learned and we took every cent that we made, which wasn’t a hell of a lot, and we put it right back into “Monsterland.” I think what we mainly learned is we can do this and we can give people this avenue that hadn’t existed before. It’s good for everybody and I’m really happy to say that two of the filmmakers who worked on “Zombieworld” have gone on to make feature films. That is the greatest bit of success you could ever have. That’s what these movies are for man. Short films are supposed to be a filmmaker’s calling card. Their, “Hey! Look what I can do!” Unfortunately, a lot of those fall by the wayside, or it’s on YouTube, or it has a festival run and it’s forgotten about. These filmmakers end up with nothing. We’re trying to stop that by giving these projects new life on VOD, or DVD, or whatever.

Jesse: We have a lot of stuff up our sleeve for the future. Some of this is very unique and is stuff you’ve never seen before.

Steve Barton: We like to keep them fun and keep them scary.

What led you guys to choose the films for “Monsterland?”

Steve Barton: How high we were! [laughs] It’s real simple man. If it’s something that hits our happy button we try to go after it. If someone has some sort of flair that sets them apart from every other person out there, these are the people we try to track down. We’re actually working on something where we’re not going to have to work so hard to track them down. They’ll be able to find us, but that’s coming at a totally different time. It’s been a circus and I don’t think we’d have it anything other way. It’s fun for us. It’s gratifying for us. It’s great for these filmmakers. It’s a win-win.

Jesse: I think the “Happy Memories” puppet short out there is probably the most prime example of something that we all thought was brilliant. Where do you try to place something like that? Being able to incorporate stuff like that and having fun with it, I truly enjoy that.

Steve Barton: I want to put “Happy Memories” on everything! [laughs]

I’m still trying to figure out what the hell that was about. If you guys could explain it to me, I’d appreciate it. [laughs]

Jesse: Nobody knows! [laughs]

Steve Barton: It’s that Faith No More song dude. “Epic. It’s it, what is it?” That’s it! We do know that it made us laugh our asses off. [laughs]

I sat there saying to myself, “What the hell am I seeing?”

Steve Barton: You know what … where else are you going to have that experience? That’s exciting. We were able to put something so weird out there, that nobody else would give a chance to, and let it have a life. That’s exciting!

Speaking of horror anthology films. What are your favorites?

Steve Barton: I like the Amicus ones. The Hammer ones. They were fun. My all time favorite is “Creepshow.” There’s never a wrong time to watch “Creepshow.” It’s like chicken soup for my soul. “Creepshow” was spooky, and it was funny, and it was fun. That’s what we’re trying to emulate. We’re not trying to force it. We can’t force it. “Zombieworld” for instance, that ended up being a very funny movie. People loved that it was so fucking out there. It squeezed that way organically. We didn’t set out to make a funny horror movie. We set out to make an anthology with zombies. How it ended up, that happened on its own. We don’t necessarily try to dictate direction to the directors. We just see where different pairings and different groupings of movies can take us. “Monsterland” is both funny and weird. Some of the stuff is scary. We tried to make everybody happy. Of course there are people who don’t like it and don’t get it. That’s cool too. A lot of times on both projects, one of the main critiques was that they are totally uneven. Well … yeah! It is!

Jesse: Life is totally uneven man.

Steve Barton: Yeah! You’re going to have ups and downs, but at least it’s interesting for you to watch. You like it, or you don’t like it, or you get mad enough to say that it sucks. At least you’re enlisting a reaction. I love all of the reviews. I love the positive reviews. I love the negative reviews that say Dread Central sucks dick. I love all of it. It shows that people are taking the time to see these things.

monsterland-2016-boxart

My go to horror anthology is “Creepshow.” Yours Jesse?

Jesse: Trilogy of Terror. I always liked that one.

Steve Barton: The zuni fetish doll man! The answer should have been “Monsterland,” but I’ll let that slide. [laughs]

Now that you guys have “Monsterland” in your back pocket, what’s next up for you guys?

Steve Barton: We don’t want to tip our hands just yet …

Jesse: We have quite a few upcoming projects that we are close to finishing that we are going to announce real soon.

Steve Barton: You know what we’re going to do. We’re going to gather all of the critics that didn’t like “Monsterland,” put them in one room, and we’re just going to fucking kick them all in the balls.

I’d pay to see that! [laughs]

Steve Barton: And there’s my Jay and Silent Bob homage for ya! [laughs]

Jesse: I just love the really long, bad reviews. [laughs]

Steve Barton: I can say this, I guess. The one we really want to make is just because of its really cool title. It’s one with werewolves. I don’t want to say the title because it is cool and if I say it, 7,000 people are going to say, “OK! I’m making that now!” [laughs] If you guys have werewolf shorts, please send them in. Let us take a look at them.

I am 100% behind you on that! That is one of the genres where they can’t seem to get it right!

Jesse: That’s because there is a lot there to do. Multiple creature artists say it’s the hardest thing to get right.

Steve Barton: We’ll get there one day though. I really want to put it out. I really want to use that title.

'Mosnterland' is available now on DVD and Digital platforms!

‘Monsterland’ is available now on DVD and Digital platforms!

Looking back on your careers, what are your biggest milestones?

Steve Barton: Career wise, I’ll say that the thing I am most proud of is the fact that two of the filmmakers from “Zombieworld” went on to make feature films. If Dread Central could be used for anything, we’d want it to be for that. To get these people out there. Get really good movies made, instead of just the homogenized Hollywood bullshit that’s spoon fed every day.

Jesse: The satisfaction of getting a young filmmaker both money and exposure. Having them feel good about the experience is definitely super rewarding.

That being said, what is the best advice for someone who wants to get into the entertainment industry?

Steve Barton: Run for the hills! [laughs]

Jesse: Make sure you understand why you are doing what you are doing. If you’re doing it solely for the sake of art, you’re just making something, it’s hard to work on that within a business structure most of the time. If you’re doing it and you want to actually make a living, it becomes a completely different story. Having worn so many different hats, I see things from a more pulled back perspective. My advice would be to explore all the different aspects of filmmaking.

Steve Barton: That was a great answer. The only thing I have to add to that is that you need a really thick skin. You’ve got to be prepared for everyone and their grandmother to tell you no, you’re not going to do this, this sucks or you’re dreaming. You’ll hear a lot of really bad, horseshit kind of things. Whether or not these people that tell you that are right, that’s completely up to you and how bad you want it. You’ve always got to keep that in mind. If someone tells you no, evaluate why they told you no. Think about why they said it. Think about what you could have done to make it better. Being told no is not a bad experience. You should learn from it. That’s what I did dude. I sat up one day and said, “OK! I’m going to be involved in the horror genre and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get there!” Everyone and their grandmother told me no. There is a lot of rejection. There is a lot of heartache. A lot of nights eating Little Debbie snack cakes and Ramen noodles because that’s all you can afford. If you really have it in you, you’re going to do it. Don’t get discouraged. Always learn. Learn fucking everything.

Do you have any last words for your fans out there?

Steve Barton: First of all if they’re a fan of me there is something really wrong with this world! [laughs]. If you are, hang tight because this ride is going to get a lot crazier. [laughs]. I would also like to thank Jesse. [laughs]

Jesse: Aww. Thank you … [laughs]

Thanks for taking time out of your day to speak to me guys! Best of luck out there!

Jesse and Steve Barton: Thanks man!

‘Monsterland’ is now available on DVD and Digital on June 7th via RLJ/Image Entertainment. Check out Icon Vs. Icon’s review of the film – Click Here! Follow the continuing adventures o  Steve Barton on Twitter! Last but not least, like ‘Monsterland’ on Facebook!

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MONSTERLAND: A Look Inside Dread Central’s Spine-Tingling New Release!

MONSTERLAND: A Look Inside Dread Central’s Spine-Tingling New Release!

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This week Icon Vs. Icon’s in-house horror aficionado, Shrieking Steve Johnson, turns his attention to Dread Central’s newest release “Monsterland.” Featuring a who’s who of upcoming horror directors and writers, Monsterland stars Josh LaCasse, Ebon Moss-Bachrach (“The Last Ship,” “Girls”), Eileen Dietz (“The Exorcist,” “Helter Skelter”), Trent Haaga (“Cheap Thrills,” “Deadgirl”) and John Franklin (“Children of the Corn”).

Here’s a quick synopsis before entering the gates of Monsterland:

Amidst a bloody backdrop of chaos and carnage, one panicked, lowly survivor of the Monster Apocalypse takes shelter in a movie theater to buy a few extra moments of precious life. Little does he know, he’s taken a flying leap out of the frying pan and smack dab into the fires of hell by attending the last movie marathon he’ll ever see. Welcome to Monsterland! A terrifying place where savage beasts, carnivorous creatures and grotesque abominations are the new normal, and the human race is at the bottom of the food chain.

REVIEW: I’ve been a horror fan my entire life. This is no secret if you’ve had the luxury of looking at my ridiculous blu-ray collection or if you’ve looked at the reading material on my bedside table. Of all of the horror films I watched throughout my 36 years, one type has stuck out as one of my favorites. This, dear readers, is the horror anthology film. Who doesn’t love “Creepshow,” “Creepshow 2,” “Body Bags,” “Tales From the Darkside,” and more recent films such as “Trick r’ Treat” and “Tales of Halloween?” How the hell can you go wrong with several macabre tales surrounded by a great wrap around story? Well enough of my rambling, let’s get down to business and discuss the newest kid on the horror anthology block, “Monsterland.”

Following up on their 2015 release of “Zombieworld,” RLJ Entertainment and Dread Central return with a new anthology of short films. This time around zombies aren’t on the menu, instead the viewer gets treated to a wide variety of stories involving monsters. There are some hits and misses throughout its 109 minute run time, but overall it was an enjoyable experience. The best way to tackle this is to mention a little about each story.

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The wraparound story to “Monsterland” involves an unnamed man (Josh LaCasse) roaming through a world ravaged by monsters. He eventually finds himself inside a movie theater surrounded by dead bodies, enjoying his popcorn and the shorts I am about to discuss. Written and directed by John Skipp and Andrew Kasch, this wraparound story does little but provide a pathway to get to following shorts. It’s not terrible, but don’t expect a “Creepshow” or “Tales From the Darkside” type of story.

The first short of the anthology is “Don’t Go Into The Lake.” Written by Tyler Wood and Haley Norman and directed by Corey Norman, this film involves a group of friends who decide to do a little late night skinny dipping. Unfortunately for them, there is something in the lake waiting to pick them off one by one. Initially I thought I would like this one, but it ended up falling flat for me due to an obvious reason. I won’t get into that here, as it would spoil this short. You can do a lot worse than this, but to start a film called “Monsterland” with this one didn’t make sense.

Next up is “The Grey Matter,” which is brought to the screen by writer Peter McCoubrey and is directed by himself and his brother Luke. The story revolves around a man named Simon (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) who wakes up on the street with a gaping wound in the back of his head. After wrapping up his head, he proceeds with daily life until he begins hearing a voice. I won’t give away further spoilers, as the reveal and the events following it are a lot of fun. Initially I wasn’t sold on this one, but by the halfway mark I was on board. “The Grey Matter” is one of the highlights of this anthology and would make a great feature-length film.

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After the greatness that is “The Grey Matter,” “Monsterland” takes a fall into not so great territory with “Curiosity Kills.” This one is written by Kaspar Ainelo, Jan Andresson, and Sander Maran, and is directed by Maran. The short follows what happens to a young child (Peeter Maran) who gives his pet rat nuclear material from his dad’s briefcase. “Curiosity Kills” quickly becomes a gory slapstick comedy and features no dialogue. Excuse me, I believe there was one word said in the entire run time. If you aren’t a fan of the goofy side of things, this one is not for you.

“Hag” is next and is one of the better shorts in “Monsterland.” Written and directed by Eric Gardner, “Hag” follows the story of Scott (Drew Wicks) and Marie Somers (Megan Duffy). Every night Scott wakes to find his wife sleepwalking and talking in her sleep. What begins as simple sleepwalking becomes a real life nightmare for Scott. You thought I was going to give the ending away? I don’t think so. Watch it to find out. Be on the lookout for a creepy cameo by Eileen Dietz in this one. It is worth picking this disc up for “Hag” alone.

The second worst short of the film is next. “Monster Man” is an animated effort that follows a man and a monster who kills his friends. He is eventually aided by an old man that kills the monster, but reveals a terrifying surprise. “Monster Man” is written, directed, and animated by Frank Sudol. I did not like this one out of the gate and it carried on throughout the entire three or so minute run time. You can skip this one.

How do you follow up one of the worst shorts of the film? Simple, you give the viewers the best short of the bunch. “House Call,” written by Dick Grunert and directed by Graham Denman, is a great tale revolving around a crazy man (Sean Keller) who makes a late night visit to the home of a dentist (Ruben Pla). The stranger insists the dentist remove his teeth because he thinks he’s turning into a vampire. Is he turning or is he not turning? That is a question you will have to find out for yourself. This short is well acted from beginning to end and the final shot is fantastic.

Next the viewer is left to tackle “Happy Memories.” I’m not sure what to think of this short. It is a little bit of puppetry with some stop motion mixed in. I have no clue what this was about and it is the worst thing in the film. It is written and directed by Jack Fields. Maybe you can shoot him an IM or tweet him to find out what the hell this was about.

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We’re nearing the end and it’s about to get strange. I hope you guys are ready. Next in line is “Stay At Home Dad.” This one was brought to you by writer Cody Goodfellow and is directed by John Skipp and Andrew Kash. Seriously guys? What the hell is wrong with you? I like your style, but damn you’re weird. Anyway … Steven (Matthew Currie Holmes) and Brenda (Alicia Seaton) just had their first child and Brenda is offered the job of a lifetime. While Brenda is worried about how she will feed the child, Steven comes up with a great idea. He undergoes an experimental treatment that leaves him with milk-filled breasts to feed their new child. Still with me? Well, everything goes according to plan for a while, until an unforeseen twist throws Steven’s world for a loop. This one was a bit too much at times, but is definitely one of the better shorts featured in “Monsterland.”

Finally, we end the shorts with “Hellyfish.” This is written by Kate Fitzpatrick and Patrick Longstreth and directed by Robert Mclean and Patrick Longstreth. After a nuclear bomb begins to leak radiation into the ocean off the coast of Tybee Island, jellyfish grow to enormous size and begin attacking people on shore. It’s a good thing there is a hot russian spy (Agnes Asplund) who has a rocket launcher to help clear the path. Yeah you read that right and it is a lot of fun. The CGI is a little on the cheaper side, but the gore and entertainment more than makes up for it. Well done!

After the shorts get wrapped up, the viewer is thrown right back into the theater with the focal point of the wrap-around story. It doesn’t take long before our moviegoer realizes he isn’t alone. As you can probably guess, it doesn’t go well for him.

“Monsterland” is a bit of a toss up. There are good shorts surrounded by a few bad ones. Despite the bad, I enjoyed the film as a whole. “Monsterland” deserves a place next to all of the other horror anthologies in your collection. — Steve Johnson, Horror Aficionado

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