Climate of the Hunter is a new twist on the vampire subgenre of horror. Combining arthouse flair, ‘70s vampire mythos, dark humor, and psychological family drama, it was one of my favorites of the year. The film stars Ginger Gilmartin and Mary Buss as sisters Alma and Elizabeth, who begin to compete for the affections of Wesley (Ben Hall), a man from their past who returns to the secluded wooded community they live in.
The film received a limited theatrical run in December and will be available for streaming on January 12, 2021. Director and co-writer Mickey Reece has made over 25 films in the last decade and I got a chance to speak with him about his unique new film and his style of filmmaking.
James Duval has had a long career in film, featuring in blockbusters like Independence Day and starring in major cult classics like Donnie Darko. The multi-talented actor, who is also a trained musician and yoga instructor, has a resume of well over a hundred credits on IMDb including many films in production right now. On December 1st, his latest film Beast Mode arrives on DVD and Digital. The film is a completely bonkers horror comedy which sees Duval star in dual roles: as the uber obnoxious Hollywood bad boy Huckle Saxton AND as Mike, a Huckle doppelganger. The film features a who’s who of big name talent including C. Thomas Howell, Leslie Easterbrook, Ray Wise, and James Hong. I got a chance to speak to Duval about the film, his career, and time during COVID.
Marcel Walz is a German-born, LA-living, horror director who embraces the slatterific past of the genre. In recent years he paid tribute to the Godfather of Gore by remaking Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast (2016), and has been able to work with genre icons Felissa Rose, Caroline Williams, and Robert Rusler. You can see Williams back in Walz’s new stylish slasher/romance Blind, available now on VOD. Blind was directed by Walz, written by Joel Knetter, and stars Sarah French as Faye Dayne, a successful actress forced into retirement due to a botched eye surgery which left her visually impaired. If having to deal with the loss of her career and new life with a disability, Faye also must deal with Pretty Boy, a masked psycho killer with a penchant for polls, eye torture, and Christmas lighting. I got a chance to speak with Marcel Walz on a break from shooting his latest project to discuss the film and his career.
Full interview below:
Geeks of Doom: I saw Blind a few days ago and man, this was a beautiful film. That may seem like a strange thing to say about a slasher movie, but there are some gorgeous shots and you used lighting so well. I went through a big giallo phase last year and this felt like a modern day giallo. Can you discuss some of your inspirations for the film?
Marcel Walz: Thank you very much. That was actually one of our goals. It’s not really a straight horror movie, it’s more of a horror/drama and with all the colors and styles we have in there, it is very giallo. That was definitely a goal from the beginning.
Geeks of Doom: In terms of giallo, do you have a specific filmmaker you look to, whether it is Argento, Bava, Fulci, etc.?
Marcel Walz: Not really; I am a huge fan of Fulci and Argento. Zombi is one of my favorite old Italian horror films. I am a huge fan because of the European touch the films have in them and it’s something we tried to do as well with Blind.
Geeks of Doom: You mentioned European influence, you are originally from Germany?
Marcel Walz: Yes, born in Germany. I moved to the U.S. three years ago and Blind was my first movie here. It’s very special to me and to the whole cast and crew as well. It was a very tense shoot with a lot of emotions.
Geeks of Doom: I love foreign horror, and European horror is fantastic. Can you speak to some of the differences you see between European and American horror?
Marcel Walz: Oh Jesus that answer is huge. As a filmmaker it’s hard to make a horror film in Germany because the big companies and the producers don’t believe too much in horror enough to give you a good budget. It’s super hard in Germany. We have a huge fanbase for horror, but it’s not a mainstream audience. There’s such a huge audience, but they don’t understand that. In the U.S. the market is huge and even the lowest budget movies get more of a budget than they would in Germany. That’s why I like it here in the U.S. It is easier for me to find a horror groove in the U.S. than in Germany.
Geeks of Doom: I tend to notice European horror films are more graphic and get away with a lot more. Do you think that’s the case?
Marcel Walz: We have ratings in Germany too. It’s weird because we’re fine with nudity in Europe, but with gore those scenes get cut drastically. A good example is Blood Feast. No problem with the nudity, that was fine. But when it came to the gore scenes, we lost about 6 or 7 minutes of the ending. They hate that part.
Geeks of Doom: I want to talk to you about Blind. I really enjoyed the film. You said the cast and crew put a lot into this movie. I LOVED the opening credits being in braille. This film was very respectful to people with disabilities whether it be the visually impaired or deaf mutes. Was that a goal while making it?
Marcel Walz: Yeah from the beginning we started talking about how we have to treat those people with respect. I have a lot of people in my family with disabilities, so we wanted to show the audience what life was like for them. We wanted to show Faye’s daily life and what she’s going through. Sarah, Caroline (Williams), spent two days with a Blind man, who’s actually in the film in the Blind group. It was important to us to not portray them stupidly. We wanted to do it right, to give those people a platform.
Geeks of Doom: You can tell, it was very well done. You mentioned Caroline Williams. Between Blind, Blood Feast, and Rootwood you have worked with some impressive horror icons. Caroline Williams goes back to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) was in Rootwood (2018), Robert Russler (ANOES 2) in Blood Feast. What’s it like working with these genre icons?
Marcel Walz: Here’s the thing, I grew up with all those movies, Sleepaway Camp, ANOES 2, Texas Chainsaw 2, I love them. The kid in me was really excited, but then you have to be professional and say “hello.” It’s really hard, but I don’t want to geek out or anything you know. Sometimes you have those moments when you realize “that’s Robert Russler eating people in your movie” and that’s great. It was super fun shooting with Felissa, she is such a great person and I love to work with her. She was great in Rootwood and the movie we finished two days ago, Robert Russler is in as well and he is such a professional person. It so great to look at the monitor and see him creating that character that Joel Knetter wrote and bringing him to life, it’s just so amazing.
Geeks of Doom: It’s obvious you have a great rapport with these actors because they keep coming back to work with you.
Marcel Walz: It’s a big honor for me.
Geeks of Doom: I wrote down a few shots from Blind that I loved. The shot of Caroline in the hallway that’s lit by Christmas lights. The killer also is really great, the character of Pretty Boy. His mask is so subtle, it sometimes looks human and that’s very unsettling. Can you talk about your killer?
Marcel Walz: Well, I’m glad you thought that because that was one of our goals. I know he’s the killer and he murders people in the movie and he is the “bad guy,” but in some scenes you feel for him and that’s great because he is still human. The mask was super creepy for me and in some scenes you just see the eyes which are so white and blue. I think that’s why it sometimes looks like a real human face. That was our goal. We got to work with Ken Hall and he built the mask and he also created the Strangers masks. The first idea was the mask without the eyes. I like it, but I told him I thought it would be creepier with the eyes and put in these blue eyes and I was like “yep, that’s it.”
Geeks of Doom: It totally worked and some of the shots were great. Especially given that your protagonist Faye (Sarah French) is blind in the film, he can get so close to her, it’s just really creepy.
I want to talk about a licensing deal you got made for a line of Blind products. Coincidentally I have known the two women you made the deal with for a long time. Ghost Girl Greetings run by Toni Gabriele and Laurie Necco. Can you talk about this deal and what type of merchandise they’ll be making for the film?
Marcel Walz: We got in touch with them through Joel Knetter, our writer who met them at some horror conventions. I saw all the stuff they made, the Halloween III stuff and it looked so great and I loved the paintings and everything. I mean to have Pretty Boy gift wrapping paper, I mean c’mon. They are doing the wrapping paper, stickers, coffee mugs, it’s just perfect. I love the pinks and blues they used, it’s beautiful.
Geeks of Doom: Full disclosure, I am sipping coffee out of my Ghost Girls Greetings Silver Shamrock Halloween III coffee mug right now. They do great work and I’m sure it’ll be a great promotion for the film.
I noticed on your IMDb you’ve been credited as a director, writer, cinematographer, as well as many other jobs on a film set. You’re kind of a Jack of All Trades. What is your favorite part of filmmaking?
Marcel Walz: That’s not an easy question because I love everything on a set. For me aside from directing, I love to do the set decoration. That’s a thing I really love to do. The last movie we shot we got a chance to shoot in a studio here in Burbank, and we created our own sets there, weird basements, we shot the sequel to Blind…
Geeks of Doom: Well, ok, breaking news.
Marcel Walz: Haha, yeah, we shot the sequel and we built this whole basement for Pretty Boy and some rooms for him. The second film is going crazy, because we’re going into full slasher direction. It’s a continuation from the same night like Halloween 1 and 2 so you see what’s happening after that crazy cliffhanger of the first one. So if it’s not directing that is my favorite part, it’s creating sets and costumes and that stuff.
Geeks of Doom: Well, my next question was going to be “What’s next for you?” but you kinda answered that. Obviously there will be a Blind Part 2, which is great because I did like the ending but it is abrupt and a cliffhanger. Anything else in the pipeline?
Marcel Walz: We finished Blind 2 which will be called Pretty Boy, and we have something we are planning to shoot in June or July of 2021. We will see. I shipped everything to Germany to my editor so we’ll see.
Geeks of Doom: And Robert Russler is in Pretty Boy?
Marcel Walz: Yes, Robert Russler is in this and I cannot wait to work with Felissa Rose again as well. We’ll see what happens next year.
Geeks of Doom: I can’t even imagine what it’s like working in the film industry during COVID. It has to be crazy.
Marcel Walz: It was but it was actually a good experience because we treated everyone right and we all got tested. We had individual bags so no one had to touch anything, we handled it very well, everyone was wearing masks on set. It definitely was weird, but we managed it and no one got sick so that’s a win already.
Geeks of Doom: Last thing I wanted to add: We mentioned the genre icons you’ve worked with. There was a deep cut genre star in Blind, the Greasy Strangler himself Michael St. Michaels. I am one of those who saw that and when I saw him I freaking died. Just wanted to say Thank You for that.
Marcel Walz: Haha, yeah not everyone caught that. We went to the theater for the premiere and I guess not too many people saw The Greasy Strangler because there was a laugh, but not a roar we expected. After it was released I got a lot of messages from people who noticed him in there now.
Geeks of Doom: Thank you so much for giving us so much time, best of luck.
Marcel Walz: Thank you for having me.
Blind is a gorgeously shot horror drama and is available on DVD and to rent or buy on VOD on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Xbox, Vudu, Fandango Now, Direct TV, Dish Network, Comcast/Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, Verizon Fios, and through local cable providers via Uncork’d Entertainment. Blood Feast and Rootwood, also by Marcel Walz, are both streaming free on Prime. The officially licensed Blind collection from Ghost Girl Greetings is available here.
Felissa Rose has endeared herself to horror fans for nearly 40 years. The New York-born star was just 13 when she got her first role as a shy teen, turned killer in the now iconic Sleepaway Camp (1983). That role, as well as the film’s infamous ending (no spoilers), has stayed with her, launching a career in horror that has garnered nearly 120 roles on IMDb as well as recurring role as “Mangled Dick Expert” on Shudder’s The Last Drive In starring Joe Bob Briggs. Rose makes countless appearances at horror conventions throughout the country, and speaking from experience, there is no one more genuine and pleasant with guests. It was my pleasure to speak with her via telephone last week to discuss her career, current films, and the uncertainty of life in a true horror landscape.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is the final chapter of the epic nine-film story arc that took over 40 years to complete. Though each generation has its trilogy, the entire Skywalker Saga belongs to everyone who has been a part of the Star Wars pantheon in any sort of capacity, whether it is through the films, TV series, video games, books, etc. Of course, fans will be interested in seeing how it will all come to an end and if it will meet or exceed their high expectations.
While Geeks of Doom and a group of selected journalists were able attend a press conference for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, where the cast and crew talked about the film’s legacy and what they would like to leave behind knowing that they are the ones to close the book on the Skywalker saga. Check out what they had to say here below.
Director J.J. Abrams immediately recognized the pressures that Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker had as it would bring an epic conclusion to over 40 years’ worth of storytelling. Though it has only been four years since he directed The Force Awakens, he says the difference between now and then is that the pressure has shifted, because he, Disney, and Lucasfilm did not know what kind of film they would have when they started this endeavor with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac.
“This is wrapping up not one film, not three films, but nine,” Abrams said. “The responsibility was significant and the movie. The scale of the movie is pretty enormous, and we knew none of that would matter and none of that would work if we didn’t care deeply about the people. So the most important thing, the people, we were good with. We knew we had this incredible cast who I think has gone above and beyond anyone’s expectations and are truly spectacular in the film.”
And if there is anything a Star Wars film has, it is a combination of action, drama, heart, and humor. Finding someone who can balance that throughout the entirety of one film is difficult, and it is one of the reasons why Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wanted Abrams to return because she believed he was one of those who could find that balance and bring the saga to a satisfying conclusion.
“The one thing I know about Star Wars and the one thing I know about these kinds of tentpole movies is this unique combination of needing dramatic storytelling, gravitas, and a great sense of humor,” Kennedy said. “I think there are a few filmmakers that really embody all of those things and also have the capability to manage something this huge, and J.J. was my first choice.”
Abrams then talked about how Star Wars, as a whole, was something more than just another blockbuster tentpole popcorn flick. It was something that represented hope in a time of despair when the underdog had their backs against the wall, and it was about bringing people together.
“I like to think that when you are working on something, especially something, and I say something like this as if these kinds of things come along all the time, and they never do, and I am still grateful for that call from Kathy, the truth is that there is the movie that you know you’re presenting to the world, and then there is the thing that you are doing not necessarily secretly but meaningfully,” Abrams said. “We live in a crazy world. We live in a crazy time. Star Wars for me was about hope, it was about community, it was about the underdog, and it was about bringing people together.”
While Star Wars has been a huge part of everyone’s lives, there is no doubt the franchise wouldn’t be where it is today without its core characters from the Original Trilogy. One of those characters is Princess Leia, who was played by the late Carrie Fisher. Though she may not have been alive to see her character’s story completed, Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico, spoke about what Fisher meant to the franchise, the new trilogy, and how they felt it was their duty to make sure they do it right.
“I can only speak for myself, there is sort of this idea that J.J. has talked about ending this in nine films, and Carrie was such a big part of all that,” Tran said. “So, I think for me, personally, there was a lot of wanting to honor this thing and do right by this thing. And I think she is pretty effing incredible in this movie.”
And Leia was always going to be an intricate part to the new trilogy, with her role increasing with every film. Though she passed before production for The Rise Of Skywalker could start, Abrams had another plan to have her be a part of the film. One that would not involve cheap gimmicks like holograms or superimpose.
“Like everyone here who knew her, loved Carrie, and I knew her for a long time but not very well, but for a while before The Force Awakens,” Abrams said. “Obviously, as we discussed continuing the story without Leia was an impossibility, and there was no way we were going to do a digital Leia, there was no way we were going to of course recast her, but we couldn’t do it without her. So when we looked back the scenes we didn’t use in The Force Awakens, what we realized is that we had an opportunity and we could use that footage and the lines that she was saying and the lighting…”
“We knew we had the opportunity to use the footage to create scenes that Leia would be in. Of course, had Carrie been around, and it is still impossible for me to believe she isn’t because we have been editing with her for about a year, and she has been very much alive with us in every scene. If we had Carrie around, would we have done things differently here and there? Of course, we would have. But we had an opportunity to have Carrie in the movie. Working with all the actors, including Billie Lourd, her daughter, who’s in scenes with her, we were able to, I think, do something Carrie herself would be happy with. She’s great in the movie, of course. It’s emotional and moving to think of her and how sad we all are that she’s not sitting here with us today.”
For Anthony Daniels, who has plays C-3PO, being a part of all three trilogies has given him a very unique perspective on the iconic cinematic franchise.
“I just realized, in the last few months, something that I haven’t gotten before because I have been in all the movies. The questions I really don’t like is ‘what was it like?’ or ‘how does it feel to be in Star Wars?’ Well, I only just realized because I have been in all of them and all of the spinoffs and stuff, I am so close to it it’s like having your nose up against the planet. You can’t see how big the planet is. And gradually I am beginning to get a perspective on it and that comes from talking to fans and people who say what Star Wars meant to them. It has meant something completely different to me. It’s a job, it’s kind of fun, awkward sometimes, as well all know, it’s not a smooth ride, but finally, I get to see it from the other perspective and that is the perspective of the audience who have been there all this time and I am really glad to have survived all of this long enough to get this perspective.”
Even though Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is the end of an incredible nine-film story arc, it will remain one of the greatest stories told in a cinematic form. But the films themselves are representative of something that is greater than that, which is something Ridley is proud to be a part of.
“I think, in itself, to be part of something, like a lot of people in cinema are talking about representation and change and aren’t doing it,” Ridley said. “So I think, in itself, being part of a team of people that look a little different, that are from different places, like in whatever form that is – gender, race, whatever it is – I think that, in itself, is a legacy to be proud of.”
“Like J.J. was saying, this is a film of hope. And I think we are reflective of the world at large. There are a lot of people up against magnificent forces that are fighting the good fight. And, you know, the characters aren’t real, but what they’re doing is perilous in cinema. So to be able to portray even a tiny part of that in this crazy world is very special.”
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker opened in theaters on December 20, 2019.
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil is the sequel to the 2014 alternative fantasy which gave audiences a new perspective on everyone’s favorite sorceress. Set five years after the first film, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) finds herself having to give Aurora (Elle Fanning), her besty and queen of the moors, away to Prince Phillip (Harrison Dickinson), who has just proposed to her. Although the two are deeply in love, Maleficent isn’t so convinced given her past history with humans. Her disdain only deepens when she is invited to meet Prince Phillip’s parents at a cordial dinner, where Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), his mother, subtly disrespects the all-powerful sorceress and plans to use the wedding as a means for the humans to go to war against the fairies.
Geeks Of Doom was invited so sit down with their fellow journalists at the official Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil press conference, where Jolie, Pfeiffer, and Fanning all talked about their characters, making a fairy tale feel modern, and more.
At this year’s New York Comic-Con earlier this month, I got a chance to meet some incredible women who helped shape and capture the world of one of TV’s biggest shows of all time, Game of Thrones. The HBO series just finished its 8-season run earlier this year and the fantastical series based on The Song of Ice & Fire books by George R.R. Martin is probably the largest endeavor in television history. One of the key women behind the scenes was Helen Sloan, principal unit photographer on the series since day one. At the Insight Editions booth on the NYCC show floor, Sloan was signing exclusive copies of her forthcoming book, The Photography of Game of Thrones, co-written by Michael Kogge and licensed by HBO, and available now for pre-order. I got a chance to speak to Sloan about her time working on the show and her upcoming book.
At this year’s New York Comic-Con earlier this month, I got a chance to meet some incredible women who helped shape and capture the world of one of TV’s biggest shows of all time, Game of Thrones. The HBO series finished its 8-season run earlier this year and the fantastical series based on The Song of Ice & Fire books by George R.R. Martin set new standards for production. At the Insight Editions booth on the NYCC show floor, I met with Deborah Riley, production designer on the epic series to discuss what it takes to make Game of Thrones look the way it did, as well as her new book, The Art of Game of Thrones, which is available for pre-order now.
Storm King Comics was formed in 2012 by Sandy King Carpenter and husband, Horror Master John Carpenter. They’ve been behind majorly successful titles like Asylum 1 – 2 and the annual Tales for a HalloweeNight anthologies. In the last few years they started a new series of monthly anthologies called John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction. Twitch was one of the latest stories in the series and is now available in a paperback trade. Telling the story of an alien signal from outer space that is turning humankind into a collective hive-minded bunch of zombies, Twitch was written by Duane Swierczynski with art by Richard P. Clark and lettering by Janice Chiang. This past weekend at New York Comic-Com at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan, I got a chance to sit down with artist Richard P. Clark to talk about Twitch, his creative process, and working for Storm King.
New York Comic-Con welcomed the cast and creator of TNT’s new Snowpiercer series to the Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday afternoon. Back in 2013, revolutionary South Korean director Joon-ho Bong (Okja, Parasite) translated acclaimed French graphic novel Le Transperceneige into a groundbreaking post-apocalyptic adventure film starring Chris Evans. From that, Graeme Manson (Cube, Orphan Black) created the new TV series, which will debut on TNT in the Spring of 2020. The story of a globe-spanning train with 1001 cars carrying the remainder of humanity after a climate-change disaster is rife with socio-political and class commentary and deals with many issues facing the world of today.