Thunder Levin, Writer of Sharknado talks to The Movie Guide Blog

I’m pleased to say today we are joined by Thunder Levin, the writer of SyFy’s Sharknado and director of such films as AE: Apocalypse EarthAmerican WarshipsMutant Vampire Zombies from the ‘Hood! and SoulmatesSit back and enjoy this Interview..

Firstly, what inspired to become a director?

TL:  When I was a very little kid, my favorite TV show was Star Trek.  I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be Mr. Spock.  Or at least work on the Enterprise with him.  But I was just old enough to understand that TV wasn’t real and that was depressing.  One of my first memories was the Apollo moon landing and that just seemed so primitive that I knew I didn’t want to be an astronaut.  Then someone gave me a book called “The Making Of Star Trek”.  It was really to adult a book for a little kid, so basically I just looked at the pictures.  The very first photo in that book was a group of 1960’s studio technicians working on the Bridge set.  It suddenly clicked in my head that there was a way I could work on the Enterprise!

Then, later, in high school, I took a TV production class, and just got hooked.  I went to film school at New York University and then moved to Los Angeles to take over Hollywood.  It’s been going slowly until a few days ago!

Can you tell us about some of the other projects that you are and have worked on?

TL:  I’ve written and directed three films.  MUTANT VAMPIRE ZOMBIES FROM THE ‘HOOD! starring C. Thomas Howell, AMERICAN WARSHIPS starring Mario Van Peebles & Carl Weathers, and AE APOCALYPSE EARTH starring Adrian Paul and Richard Grieco.  And I’ve written the screenplays for 200 MPH and SHARKNADO.

Let’s Talk Sharknado!

 Firstly, Where did the idea of Sharknado come from?

TL:  The title and therefore the idea, came from the Syfy Channel.  They gave me about half a page of notes and I created a story from that.

What is the plot of Sharknado in your own words?

TL:  On the Pacific Coast of Mexico, a super hurricane fueled by climate change drives tens of thousands of sharks up the west coast. When the storm hits Los Angeles, flood waters swamp the city. There are sharks on the freeway, sharks in Beverly Hills, sharks everywhere! And it just gets worse, because huge waterspouts form over the ocean, spinning even more sharks into the air and onto the populace. It’s a sharknado! Several in fact. But I think the Syfy commercial really said it best: Sharks…  Tornado…  Sharknado!  ‘Nuff said.

Can you tell us a little about the cast on Sharknado?

TL:  Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills 90210) plays Fin, the owner of a waterfront bar, who along with his beautiful young bartender Nova, played by Cassie Scerbo, and regular customer George, played by John Heard (Home Alone), travel across a flooded Los Angeles to rescue his ex-wife April, played by Tara Reid.

Can you tell us a little about the crew on Sharknado?

TL:  Sharknado was produced by David Latt, David Rimawi & Paul Bales, partners at The Asylum, the production company that makes many of SyFy’s original movies.  The film was directed by Anthony Ferrante.  I was actually in Costa Rica shooting AE Apocalypse Earth at the same time Sharknado was being filmed in L.A., so I didn’t really get to work with any of the other crew.

 Can you tell the UK Viewers what to expect from Sharknado?

TL: It’s a scientifically accurate documentary about the dangers of global warming.  😉  No, seriously, it’s 90 minutes of insane fun.

Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us! 

TL:  You’re welcome!

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Fear Clinic: The Movie – Are you Ready? – Indiegogo Campagin

Are you ready for this! Kane Hodder (Jason, Friday the 13th), Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm Street), Danielle Harris and Angelina Armani all in the same movie, It can only mean one thing, Fear is back in one hell of a way! fear clinic movie poster version 2

We’re all afraid of something, right?  How many of you horror fans out there would die to see Robert Englund (aka Freddy Krueger) play a new scary horror franchise character?  Hell yeah! .

With over five million viewers, FEAR CLINIC is the most-watched horror web series in FEARnet history.  Now the filmmakers are taking things to the next level by making Fear Fear Clinic: The Movie. Join the cast and crew in making horror movie history…

Fear Clinic are trying to raise $150,000 dollars to take this film into production. To be honest, I need to see this as much as anyone else! Hell, I’ve been an Robert Englund, Kane Hodder Fan for many years and these were some of the icons that got me into the horror genre. So anything we can do to help, lets support this amazing project!

Fear Clinic Pitch Video from Almost Human Inc. on Vimeo.

You can visit the Fear Clinic Indiegogo page at: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fear-clinic-the-movie, where you can donate as much as you possibly can. If you can’t contribute, have no fear—there are scary ways you can help us:

  1.  SHARE this Indiegogo campaign with EVERYONE you know on the entire planet.  (link to share:igg.me/at/fearclinic) and use the hashtag: #fearclinicmovie
  2. Visit and LIKE our Facebook page at:  www.facebook.com/fearthecure
  3. Create some scary fan art and share it on our Tumblr: http://fearclinic1.tumblr.com
  4. Participate in our upcoming CONTESTS on our FB and Twitter fan pages!

I’M BACK!

Hey Guys, Jamie here!

I wanted to apologise for the long delays in new posts, I’ve been busy at University and seeing how I’ve got 3 weeks off I’m going to try and get in the swing of things and do some more posts on the blog.

Hope you enjoy what is to come!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Horror Remake Debate

I remember watching my first horror film.  A newly purchased Betamax video player, my brother, my dad, myself and Creepshow.  It terrified me.  My second horror film followed soon after.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It terrified me.  I think I should add that I was 7 years old.

In all it was a bit too much for me and I didn’t see another horror until I was the ripe old age of 10.  My brother convinced me to watch The Thing and to say I loved it would be a huge understatement to the raw, chilling excitement I got from it.  There began my true love for horror.  However there is now another connection between these three films, one which saddens me and makes a real statement about the current position of horror today within the Hollywood movie machine.

I am talking about the modern penchant for remaking horror films.

While Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Thing have already had suitably poor remakes, Creepshow’s remake is currently in development.  I’m not holding my breath for anything that will deliver the same sense of fun and fear that the original did.  So why is it happening?  Is it a new phenomenon?  And the big question; should we be saying no to remakes?

Lets start at the top.  Why is it currently happening?

Well during the 2000’s we saw a rise in the volume of remakes being released with perhaps the largest volume in 2008.  But in 2009 the big horror remake releases made over $370 million for the studios with the likes of Friday 13th, Sorority Row and Last House on the Left. Putting this alongside their notoriously lower than average budgets it kinda became a no brainer.  But with two years of concurrent high volume and high performance would the bubble break?

Lets look at 2010 and did it follow the trend or were the audiences already saturated with remakes and therefore protesting about their slew of releases by staying away from the cinemas?

Simply, yes it did follow the trend with over £450 million being taken through the likes of Piranha 3D and A Nightmare On Elm Street.  However 2011 saw the slow down in both releases and box office success with $100 million from Fright Night, Silent House, The Thing and Straw Dogs.  There was a continuing decline this year with only the one notable remake getting a release which was The Woman In Black (the original was in 1989) taking $128 (Maniac is still yet to see a general release – however it’s actually really quite good).

Yet this doesn’t seem to have stopped the studios giving the greenlight to continue this way of making a quick buck.  I guess they’ve looked at the 2000’s overall and seen the likes of The Omen, The Amityville Horror, The Hills Have Eyes, Black Christmas, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, The Fog, Halloween, Prom Night and When A Stranger Calls having performed well.  This is by no means an exhaustive list as the last 10 years has seen such a variety of remakes it’s a wonder to think anything original is being done (especially when you add in sequels!!).  The studios can find a cheap director wanting their big break with almost a guaranteed hit.

So we’ve looked at why.  Now lets look at whether is this something particular to our generation of movie goers.

It certainly isn’t a new thing to remake films but the way in which they are remade and the choices of films to remake is certainly something unique to modern movie making.  Previously directors would take films they loved or saw potential in but perhaps were long forgotten or never particularly performed well.  They wanted to get these films to a wider audience with their own stamp on them.  John Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly, Paul Schrader’s Cat People, Chuck Russell’s The Blob and Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of The Body Snatchers are some examples.  These in their own right have become well loved films.  The horror fans were not particularly happy about Carpenter’s remake getting a remake (well technically speaking the 1982 version of The Thing is a sequel to the 1951 film The Thing From Another World and the 2011 is the remake of the ’51 version).  Would anyone touch Cronenberg’s The Fly without getting lynched?  So these outcomes suggest remakes aren’t always hated and it obviously isn’t new.

What is a new phenomenon, however, is taking well loved, successful films and needlessly remaking them.  When did The Fog or The Omen become so bad to watch or forgotten that we needed a newer version of it?  The result of this need to spin remakes out is that we get gun for hire directors making films that Hollywood have asked for simply as they see them as a cash cow.  And in turn that makes for rushed, uncared for films which generally and simply put, suck.  In fairness this isn’t the case with all of them as some are actually better than the originals such as The Hills Have Eyes and Last House On The Left (sorry Wes, I know they’re both your originals).  But these two almost fit the mould of how remakes used to be done. And some are okay films like Dawn of the Dead, The Crazies and The Amityville Horror.  However did these need to be made?

But it’s when films like the aforementioned The Omen and The Fog as well as Day of the Dead, Friday 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street which are just truly awful that you fear for the memories of the originals when there will be those people that only ever know these versions.

I can’t imagine the current crop of remakes giving kids the same amazing memories that I had from my early days of watching horror films.  So many are so average and who remembers an average film.

So this brings us onto my last question. Should we be saying no to remakes?

When you look at the list of upcoming and rumoured remakes; Carrie, Poltergeist, The Evil Dead, Susperia (even Argento doesn’t understand why this is being remade), Hellraiser, Near Dark, Return of the Living Dead, Childs Play, Creepshow and all the others, you would have to say we absolutely should be saying no to remakes and the way to do this is with our wallets.  Stop going to see them, stop handing over your cash to watch an inferior version of a film you love.  If you have kids that you think are old enough to go see it, show them the original.  Let them love the films you loved.

However when you think of the films that could be remade such as Evilspeak, The Black Cat, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, The Burning, The Prowler, Slumber Party Massacre, Rawhead Rex, Pin, 976-Evil, Deadly Friend (sorry again Wes) there is an argument that the remake remains relevant.  I am hoping that your reactions to my suggestions were either “oh yeah” or “hmm not heard of that”.  That should be the litmus test to if a horror film should get a new treatment.  Bring back something that was inventive or cool or great but budget prevented it from going anywhere.  There are some which had brilliant ideas but lacked the execution.  Or it has been so long people have forgotten they ever existed.  The Black Cat was one of Universal’s most successful films the year it was released.  But it’s themes (which would sit very nicely in today’s horror environment) were a bit too much for it to be given the positive notoriety it deserved at the time.

Remakes (even the bad ones) also serve their purpose in us seeing those brilliant new and cool low budget horrors (which no doubt will be remade themselves in 20 years) due to the profits they bring in.  These will be redistributed by the studios, funding some of these smaller films that no-one ever knows have studio involvement.  For anyone that has been lucky enough to see American Mary, it could well be the case brought in from The Wolfman that enabled it to be made.

Personally I think there is room in the world for a remake.  Sometimes it is a necessary evil.  That said I do think we need to protest with our feet and stop them taking every great horror film and turning it into something grossly inferior.  If audiences get too fed up of this then it could be detrimental to the horror scene as a whole (sequel after sequel, remake after remake) with people simply not wanting to bother with it at all.

What I’d hate is in 20 years to hear people saying “oh do you remember The Fog?”, “yeah, God that was a rubbish film”.  Replace The Fog with any other poor remake and you get the picture.  The films we loved and watch over and over will be replaced in the memory of the next generation with their poor copies, lost to time and perhaps never heard from again.  In the words of the current Hate Piracy advert; Just Imagine.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) Review

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Release Date: September 28, 2012
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
Runtime: 103 min

Tagline: We are infinite.

Not any writer has quite analyzed teen angst as well as John Hughes, but Chbosky comes pretty close.

* Alternate opening hook: And some people said Project X was a good teen film, anyone can take a Super 8 camera and film garbage, but not everyone can create something quite as beautiful as this.

Meet Charlie (Logan Lerman), a young freshman outsider who has to deal with his own inner demons of the past, depression, and loneliness, and the death of his best friend. Charlie is extremely nervous for his first day of high school, and doesn’t want any old nice teacher to be the only friend he makes. He encounters two fellow outcasts, Sam (Emma Watson) and her hysterical step brother Patrick (Ezra Miller). They take him under their wings, show him lessons of love, pain, friendship, belonging, and overcome being a complete wallflower.

Stephen Chbosky directs, and adapts his own novel for the big screen. And he does it quite well. The cast really fits each character, and their performances are awesome for such a young cast.

There are some really cool visuals, like when one of the main characters is on drugs. The writing is brilliant through and through. One can sense that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is set in the 1990s (according to the film’s IMDb trivia page, it’s set during the 1991-92 school year) because of all the vinyl records, wardrobe, mix tapes and not CDs, the typewriter (some of you may not have even heard of this stuff..)and the  older music. This film is a perfect example of a film that offers a great atmosphere, and it’s  one that the viewer can really fall head over heels in love with.

For the majority of people – and high schoolers especially – it’s a film that is very easy to relate to – everyone feels out of place at some point in their lives, don’t they? A lot of the characters are easily relatable; and they are all substantially, and utterly effectively, developed. They all have great depth, and each have some sort of inner demons. When Charlie finally shakes off his inner cloak [feeling] of invisibility (I don’t think it’s a spoiler, it’s obvious he would – and I just had to do the Harry Potter pun), it’s enough to fill you with happiness. Just remember though, these loner kids have dreams too, just like you or me. There is a great sense of poignancy, and can easily cause the viewer to get choked up in several areas because of sensitive subjects. The poignancy is large, and the comedy is also hysterical. The funniest character is definitely Patrick. There’s a lot of romance mixed in, Logan Lerman’s character was kissing people left, right and centre. The mix of genres is beautiful, and the film can definitely make the viewer feel extremely emotional at one point, and fall-off-their-chair-laughing at the next minute. That is always an aspect of films that I truly admire.

The depiction of the high school world feels a little off, because I know I’ve never seen a high school quite so brutal. Granted, the majority of high school films depict it in that fashion, so I can’t hold it against this film for following that cliché.

The three primary actors were extremely impressive, Logan Lerman proved he’s an incredible actor; Emma Watson proved she’s destined for greatness (like you couldn’t already tell, she has great star power); and Ezra Miller proved that he’s a diverse actor that can take on a great list of roles, from the terrifying Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin, to a flamboyant character like Patrick.

Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh, Johnny Simmons, Nina Dobrev, Mae Whitman, Erin Wilhelmi, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Rudd and Joan Cusack star in this film.

The profound, and unique, analysis of teenage angst is accurate, brilliantly touching, and heartbreakingly poignant. Thinking back, there isn’t a flaw visible in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The performances are great, the story is awesome, and the atmosphere it offers is perfect. It has a cool use of visuals and flashbacks when they are there. It also has a nice use of voice-over narration from Charlie in some scenes. This is a film that I didn’t want to end, and I can’t wait to watch it again (and I didn’t even mind being choked up half the freaking time!). That’s one heck of a definition for an enjoyable experience. It’s one of my favourite experiences and atmospheres of 2012 – it’s a must-see. It’s a fine classic of 2012 that can define a generation as well as John Hughes could.

It deserves to be seen; so get off the couch, grab a few friends – but if you don’t have any, it’s okay to be a wallflower* – and go see this movie!

*For those of you who do not know, a wallflower is just slang for a loner. I certainly didn’t know what it meant before I saw this, so hopefully this may be helpful information.

100/100

REVIEW – Sinister ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Review by Damon Rickard
Stars Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Fred Dalton Thompson & Vincent D’ononfrio
Written by C Robert Cargill & Scott Derrickson
Certification UK 15
Opens October 5th 2012 (UK)
Runtime 110 minutes
Directed by Scott Derrickson

True crime writer Ellison Oswald (Hawke) is desperately trying to recapture the success that his first novel brought him.  He continually moves his family from place to place, living just doors away from the crime scenes he investigates.  Dwindling book sales mean his is struggling to maintain the lifestyle he created for his family with the large house become to costly to keep.  In an effort to drive down costs whilst seeking his next big story he ultimately buys the incredibly cheap family house where the previous occupents were killed in and a child went missing from.

Shortly after moving in, Ellison discovers of a box in the attic of the Oswald’s new home with old cine film footage, spanning 3 decades.  He quietly sets it up in his new office and what he finds on the films becomes a game changer and Ellison found he was onto a story that would not only put himself in danger but his whole family too.

C Robert Cargill has crafted a horror story that maybe retreads ground that Hollywood has tried on several occasions to cover but does it head and shoulders above the rest of the big budget offerings that have gone before it.  The overall story may not necessarily be something you haven’t seen before but the execution (excuse the pun – when you watch it, you’ll get that) is certainly done in a way that avoids all the pitfalls that normal big budget horror fare falls into.

This coupled with Derrickson’s superb direction makes for one of the scariest films for not only this year but for a number of years.  Derrickson previously showed us his horror hand with The Exorcism of Emily Rose where he successfully merged drama and horror in a way I hadn’t seen before.  He created some truly creepy moments in that film with a deft touch, avoiding the requirement for any extreme violence with the fear played out through his leads.  The performances he manages to get are half the battle here and you genuinely feel that Ethan Hawke is slowly becoming more and more terrified as the film progresses.  In turn you mirror this in yourself as the tension ratchets up.

I mentioned that the films pulls off the tricks that are usually missed and this is true.  The biggest one being so many modern horror films (discounting the slashers) forget to introduce a sense of dread into the proceedings.  If you don’t know what the outcome for your hero could be, why should you be frightened of it?  So to cover this off we are given something right from the beginning in a scene that I certainly didn’t expect.  I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I won’t go into detail here.  The film doesn’t need any real gore or excessive violence (one of the scariest scenes cuts from the nasty stuff to reaction, leaving your mind to fill in the gaps which can often be more powerful) and relies on intense imagery to leave you feeling unsettled.  By doing this and keeping you on edge it makes it much easier to play with your fears, mixing genuinely creepy moments with more standard shocks (loud bumps and the like) and all work.  Well I say all, there were two pieces, one with an image on Hawke’s laptop and another where he wanders round the house looking for what is going bump in the night that, for me, were a bit more average.  However, that said, these two scenes will still play extremely well in the mulitplexes.  This may just be me being a tad fussy and they probably stick out more as slightly poor relations to other parts of the film due to the overall high quality of the film.

The other ways in which they pull this film off is by keeping it believable that the family wouldn’t be rushing out of the house immediately.  This is done through Hawke’s character’s continual attempts to rationalise everything that is happening and it is done successfully.  Part of this is through his desire to be famous again and it is here that Hawke’s casting in his first horror film is a masterstroke.  Ellison Oswald, for all intents and purposes, is not a very nice person.  He’s a loving dad and devoted husband but as soon as his story comes to him, his family take second place and they become the forgotten element of his life as he throws himself into his work.  With a lesser talented actor and indeed a less likeable actor, this character could have lacked any form of sympathy but Hawke plays him brilliantly. So whilst he maintains his standing as arsehole of the house, you still find yourself rooting for him.  Without this, again you wouldn’t care what happened to him.  And this, dear reader, is the basis of a scary film being scary.  Caring. If you don’t care then it’s not scary, no matter how well the film has been made.  This is why horror films are so subjective.  You may not connect to characters that others do and this takes you out of the film and subsequently out of the scares.  This is why Sinister worked so well for me, it kept me engaged all the way, even throwing in some light relief with Deputy So and So (again you need to see it for that to make more sense).

I genuinely found this a scary film and I’ve seen a lot of horror and, without wanting to sound pretentious, not a lot really scares me these days as I’ve become accustomed to the tricks of the trade.  I can’t guarantee this for you but being a gambling man, I’d happily put money on the fact you will find the same.

I have given this five stars as I couldn’t find much to fault with it.  Is it as well crafted a piece of work as Saving Private Ryan? Well if we look at it in terms of within its own genre then yes it is.  It stands above its peers.  The performances are very good (Juliet Rylance perhaps reduced to little more than the good housewife role but she performs it well), especially young Michael Hall D’Addario who plays Hawke’s son, Trevor.  The dialogue is slick, the humour fits and doesn’t feel forced, the pacing is spot on and it delivers what it promises.  Need I say more.

Sinister – Disturbing New Red Band Trailer Will Put Asses In Seats!

HORROR BOOM

The Red Band trailer for  Sinister is unnerving because we’re used to dialogue–or voice-over narration– telling us the set-up for the film. Here? No such thing. We simply see all the increasingly scary images, and the tension builds to freaky levels...

I think I first saw the Sinister  trailer this summer, and it definitely and swiftly was added to my “must see”  list.These days, that doesn’t always equate to “must see in theater”,  sometimes it’s “must watch as soon as I can obtain it, as long as it costs less than ten bucks”, but you get the idea. However this, THIS  new Red Band trailer, may very well get my ass in a movie theater seat!

OK, I’m not above admitting the main thing that sold me was that ten-word review from Eric Walkuski at JoBlo.com:. SINISTER IS GOING TO FUCK UP A LOT OF PEOPLE.  DEAL, 

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