Sunday 19 February 2012

In The Devil's Courthouse (2011)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by Kenneth S. Comito 

Written by  Kenneth S. Comito 

Stars:  Ashley Marie Nelson, Dustin Webb, Kristen Snider, Patrick Ferrara

Release – DVD, January 2012, available through Brain Juice

A low budget monster flick which delivers some great gore and an effective atmosphere of being hunted by the unknown.

Set in the Appalachian mountains, the movie features 'Leah' a young woman on the run from the mysterious beast which has slain her boyfriend. After putting a panicked call through to her police officer brother 'Steve', Leah seeks refuge at a nearby house, resided by a family of three. Soon Leah's brother shows up with his girlfriend 'Lauren' and cop partner 'Max' and those still alive must try to make it through the night. Unluckily for them there is also a group of happy clappy girl scouts out in the woods, many of whom will be judged before the night is done.  I must start by saying that the movie does a good job of keeping viewers entertained. The horror kicks off immediately and there are enough characters and attack scenes to satisfactorily fill the 85 minutes running time.

Some of the characters grate a bit. The bitchy character of Lauren (Kristen Snider) is the main culprit - her constant whining and acerbic comments made me want to kill her. Luckily viewers will get their wish as Lauren suffers the best death scene in the film; an insanely gruesome tree branch impalement. The after shot of this particular attack scene just looks incredible so hats off to the team in charge of the special effects. I really enjoyed Ashley Marie Nelson and Dustin Webb’s performances as sibling leads Leah and Steve. I found their strained relationship to be realistically conveyed and Ashley in particular did a great job of acting scared yet determined to live.

Some viewers may be surprised by the movies rather sad and downbeat ending. I wont give this away but will mention that it includes a brief but effective 'found footage' scene where we get an idea of the final fates of some of the remaining characters. There is also one last scene involving one of the Pine Cone girls which I don’t really feel added anything to the movie as a whole. That besides I enjoyed the way the movie wrapped up and there is definite potential for a follow up.

I would recommend checking out In The Devil's Courthouse. It is an entertaining little indie horror with a decent script and some great gore. You can see that the budget was low but the film looks well shot with very good audio. Head on over to Brain Juice to snag yourself a copy of the DVD!

Evidence (2011)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by Howie Askins

Written by Ryan McCoy

Stars: Ryan McCoy, Abigail Richie, Ashley Bracken and Brett J. Rosenberg

Release: DVD (UK) 12 March 2012. Courtesy of Showbox Media Group

I love the found footage style horror film. That's a total fact. Its a tricky sub genre to love at times because there are soooooo many duds and so few truly effective and/or terrifying ones out there. However, when they are effective and/or terrifying they are truly brilliant and for Evidence, despite a bit of a dragging opening, really hit the mark. You may think you know pretty much what you are in for with this film if you judge it by the trailer but trust me - you don't. I don't think I have ever seen a film of this type where things get so damn crazy in the final 30 minutes. What starts as a 'four friends' hunted by a mysterious creature flick turns into something far more interesting and elaborate and it is this that gives Evidence a superb edge.

The film tells the story of four friends: Ryan, Abi, Ashley and Brett who are heading off camping so that Ryan can film Brett for a project. Brett isn't keen on Ryans' intrusive filming and the girls are just there for a laugh so its not long before petty squabbles and drunken antics kick in.The morning after the night before, the group catch an eerie glimpse at what appears to be a large creature in a nearby ravine. So what exactly is out there? And why do the group suddenly get the horrifying feeling that they are being hunted? It's this fear that begins to cause a nasty friction within the group and very soon the really bad stuff begins. It's the final 30 minutes that the film veers from a simple beast in the woods flick to an elaborate, conspiracy style horror film and it's an exceptional way to stun viewers. My only complaint about the ending is the final credits. The last scenes are brilliant, don't get me wrong, but they are also extremely important. Therefore while splicing these scenes with the end credits was a cool way to end the film, it was also a bit distracting, I personally felt.

The acting in Evidence was pretty great across the board. All of the initial scenes where the friends are drinking and joking around came across as very natural. When the character of Ryan starts to become nasty and aggressive, Ryan McCoy (Also Evidences' writer) plays it extremely well and I for one, by this point wanted him gone! Both girls are convincingly terrified and desperate to survive in the final act and there is a scene with one of them which made me jump in horror. You will know it when you see it.

Another plus point for the film is the way in which it is shot.We are not treated to a lot of the often dizzying side effects of a found footage style horror film. Sure, when things gets a bit frenetic there is some crazy camera action but it never feels like being trapped on a very unstable rollercoaster for the movies running time.

Evidence is an inventively written, well acted, and often frightening good time. Find out more about the film and its upcoming UK DVD release here -I think this is one you will want to check out!

Monday 13 February 2012

Sloppy The Psychotic (2011)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by Mike O'Mahony

Written by Erich Ficke and Mike O'Mahony

Stars: Mike O'Mahony, James Costa, Fred Ficke, David Folger, Lauren Ojeda, Julie Ann Hamolko, Lou Beaver

Children's birthday parties will never be the same again.........

Maniac Films second feature following slasher throwback Deadly Detour, lovingly cranks the bad taste factor up to infinity with crazed clown horror Sloppy the Psychotic. I have to be clear that that is not a criticism from me - I found the movie to be both entertaining and hilarious and I think that horror movie fans looking for a gory good time - which doesn't outstay it's welcome - will get a real kick out of Sloppy.

Concerning down on his luck Mike, Sloppy the Psychotic, explores what happens when a dude has just had enough. Living at home with his nagging parents, working as a not-so-successful children's entertainer (aptly calling himself Sloppy the Clown) and being constantly harassed by the locals, Mike (Director,Writer and Producer, Mike O'Mahony) is slowly but surely losing his mind. The final straw comes when he loses his job followed by some further humiliation by a few local a-holes and this is when Sloppy the Clown gives himself a deadly makeover into Sloppy the Psychotic!

I enjoyed the scenes where 'Mike' paints his face in time to a macabre version of 'Pop Goes The Weasel'. Its an effective and even slightly creepy sign post of the insanely high body count to follow. That said this is the only really creepy scene of the whole film. The remainder is an eye opening kill fest which demonstrates what might happen if you piss off the wrong clown! I'm not sure where to begin here but you have anal impalement, urine drowning, mass poisoning, 'grilled brat', vehicular slaughter and SO much more. Things get batshit crazy, I promise you that! The ending of the film is also a killer - literally. It may possibly cause offence to some (I can imagine a number of mothers going off the deep end at this scene!) but if you take it in the intended spirit then you should just be able to revel in the sheer audacity of Erich Ficke and Mikes O'Mahonys script. It's supposed to be tongue in cheek and I think its definitely pulled off in that way so just  enjoy it for what it is. I might also advise you to give some careful consideration to who you are asking to perform at your child's birthday party from now on!!

Mike O'Mahony impressively has dual roles all over the place in this movie. Not only does he direct, produce, co-write and do the special effects he also plays the downtrodden central character: 'Mike'. Mike, you really cant help but feel for in this film - he is just one of life's nice guys (you might disagree after seeing this!) who cant catch a break. Even when he releases his pent up rage and starts offing kids like its going out of fashion, I cant recall truly thinking of Sloppy as a monster.Maybe that's an issue I need to work through though....

Acting wise there were some weak performances, such as a few of the parents at the end and some of the pool party kids - but there are also a number of really good ones. Mike as...well...Mike played his character really well as mentioned above and I also thought his female friend was great and should have had a bigger role. Its a shame we didn't see her again after her few scenes. The low budget nature of the movie is very obvious from the outset, but I don't think you go into a film like this expecting top notch special effects or Oscar winning acting. What has been made with a small amount of money has been made with a real love for the genre and a lot of heart. Blackened heart ...but heart all the same.

I hear Sloppy the Psychotic will be available to order on DVD VERY SOON so to find out more about the film and its upcoming release please visit here. Its also screening at the next Cinema Wasteland, held in March in Strongsville, Ohio. Specifics on this should be forthcoming so keep an eye out if you are lucky enough to be able to attend!

Friday 10 February 2012

An Interview with Andrew Roth - Actor and Producer

Hacked in the Head recently got to talk to Andrew Roth, star and producer of creepy religious thriller Abolition. Andrew shares some great insight into Abolition and also shares his great passion for the industry. Check it!

Hacked in the Head: Hi Andrew! Great to talk with you! First off tell me how you actually became involved with Abolition? I bet are you are made up with the positive response it has been receiving?

Andrew Roth: I became involved with Abolition because I already worked with Skeleton Key Films on their 1st feature called "48 Hours In Purgatory" which I played Brody Hawkins, a controversial Documentary film Director. It was written & Directed by Jason Armstrong & Mike Klassen was the 1st Assistant Director. Mike really liked my work on it & asked me to take on the role of Joshua in his film.

HitH: Now you played quite the tormented soul in the movie. Was this a tough role to play?

AR: Joshua wasn't a tough role for me to play as I highly identify with all of his struggles. I prefer roles that deal with individuals who are fighting deep internal conflicts within themselves because I too have a a background that dealt with heavy issues just like many of the characters I play. So for me it's a cathartic process when I'm offered the chance to take on heavy characters like Joshua, it gives me the chance to release my own demons so to speak & allows me to share with the audience & hopefully I can reach someone out there that might also relate with the same experience.

HitH: Also tell me a bit about the shoot itself? How long did it take to film?

AR: The shoot was a tumultuous 2 week roller coaster ride. We had very little time to squeeze in a tremendous amount of emotionally charged scenes with some great talent that also deserves mention & that would be: Miss Caroline Williams, Reggie Bannister & Colin Paradine. As you know in the indie film world you usually have limited funds to work with so every actor needs to come to set prepared, ready to shoot & also be flexible to shoot scenes that might not have been planned for that day just in case there's a location issue or if you get ahead. It's always wise to continue to hammer out more scenes not on the schedule so you never lose time which is also Money.

HitH: I thought both you and Elissa Dowling had amazing chemistry in the movie and really carried it with ease together. How did you find working with one of indie horrors top new scream queens?

AR: Elissa was fantastic to work with & her role was executed to perfection. I believe it gave her a chance to grow to another level with her acting as well because her character was also being pulled in many directions from forces outside of herself.

HitH: You also got to work with horror greats Reggie Bannister and Caroline Williams! How was that? Your scenes with Caroline were particularly brilliant and included some images I still cannot forget!

AR:  Reggie & Caroline were great to work with! They really brought my game up to the next level & I went into the shoot with that attitude. Reggie has some really soft scenes in Abolition, scenes which I've not seen him do before & he nailed them (Me too on The Cross) wink, wink! Miss Caroline was a dream to work with & I'm happy to say I remain in close contact with her to this day. As both an Artist & as my Mom in the film she was kind, nurturing & very giving. I'm fortunate to have her as a Friend.

HitH: Mike Klassen, director of Abolition seems like a great guy with a lot of passion for this project. How did you find working with him?

AR: Mike is super professional, very efficient & deeply passionate about films & basically anything that he can get his hands on. Like myself, Mike grabs onto something & doesn't let go until he's finished extracting every piece of information out of whatever he's working on. I know he has some new projects in the works so Fans should be keeping their eyes & ears open to what he has next up his sleeve!

HitH: Abolition aside, tell me more about your new and upcoming projects. I know there is one film you are particularly excited about.....

AR: Brother I wouldn't know where to begin! I've been really blessed in 2011 to have worked on some outstanding films that will be released this year. At the top of the list is  "Squid-Man" I play a down & out super hero that is an Alcoholic, can't really fight, doesn't wish to help out anyone unless it serves his own needs & basically his sense of Apathy & himself are his own worst enemies. It was Written & Directed by the brilliant mind of Charlie Cline, Produced by Bill Ellis. 

"Crimson Winter" is a Vampire film I shot in Montana last year that was Written, Directed, & Stars the fiercely talented Bryan Ferriter & offers an entirely new take from the Vampire's perspective. Bryan's vision was to give the Vampires more of a humanistic approach that I've not seen done before & he works to make the audience empathize with the plight of the Vampires hiding in the Mountains of Helena, Montana. I play Paul, Leader of the Hunters, & hardened Killer that will stop at nothing to eradicate their population.

"Backwater" Written & Directed by my great friend Christopher Schrak will also be released this year & it stars Liana Werner-Gray, Justin Tully,Thomas Daniel & yours truly. It tells the story of 2 young lovers (Werner-Gray,Tully) on a weekend getaway in the lush woods of Maryland that come become entangled in some dark & terrible events in the woods. It's Schrak's 2nd film that I've worked on with him, his 1st was ''Elysium'', a psychological thriller also shot in Maryland.

Another that comes out this year by the very talented team of Clark Birchmeier & Jason Whittier is: ''Waterfront Nightmare'' which was written by them both & Directed by Clark. It's a thriller set on a beautiful lake location where a bunch of college friends look to spend a fun weekend together until people start dying. I was really fortunate to work with & make great friends with actor Kef Lee & our chemistry inspired Clark to write a film about our characters on a road trip across the U.S.. Clark & Jason also have their 2nd feature that's now heavily into pre-production which both Kef & I are attached to called "Crazed". Keep your eyes on these Guys! 

Finally; "Inspiration" will also be released this year which is the brainchild of my great friend Jason Armstrong of Skeleton Key Films. It stars Emily Alatalo, Colin Paradine, Chris Carnel, & also myself. Alatalo plays a writer whose cult classic books "Grinning Charlie" which have launched her into fame status becomes the bane of her existence. No longer wanting to write them anymore she retires to a secluded vacation getaway in the back country of Ontario, Canada but is asked by her publisher to write 1 more which she does & all Hell breaks loose. 

"Lucifer's Unholy Desire"  written & Directed by Cody Knotts also will be released this year & I play Jacob Wilcox a Detective/Priest that helps prove or disprove Exorcisms for the church & also start 1st Emily Cordes & Raymond Wade. Cody also has his 2nd feature which I'm acting in & also helping Produce called "Wrestlers VS. Zombies" an action comedy that is similar in nature to the feature "Zombieland". 

Raymond Wade also has a series of films that will under the Umbrella title of "The Breed" which h I'm featured in 2 of the films & I'm also assisting in Producing. Some films I'm really excited about shooting this year are: Concrete Jungle" which will be Directed by & stars James Russo, William Forsythe, Armand Assante, Myself & Kevin Gage. It's about the corrupt 77th Police precinct in NYC during the late 70's. '

'The Infected Life'', Written & also being Produced by David Leiter which I'm both acting in & Producing which is about a Zombie like virus that breaks out. I play Andy Lanford, head of the CDC & I help come up with the anti-virus allowing the Infected to suppress the virus so long as the "Rewakes" as we call those who take it, continue to using it. Of course many don't & the virus spreads. 

A film I'm also very excited about is called  "Dakota" Written & will be Directed by Martin Bentsen, another I'm both Acting & Producing & is about a damaged man I play named Kurt Lawson that is eventually saved from his destructive tendencies by a beautiful Husky that speaks to him in order to save his Life.

HitH: On a personal level, did you grow up wanting to be an actor or is it just something that kind of happened? Would you like to turn your hand to anything else such as writing or directing? I see you have produced/associate produced on a number of films (Abolition included) which is fantastic.

I grew up always wanting to work in the medium of the Arts but it took me a long time to figure out just where I was going to fit in. I dabbled in many different areas of cooking, music, writing & eventually when I went to College the Theatre & Acting kind of found me. I remember the 1st time I walked into an empty "Black Box" theatre & it was like; WOW, I just walked into my Church, I never looked back. I've been recently picking up the pen these days & have started writing a treatment I came up with many years ago. It's a collaborative process I'm taking on along with the talents of Brian Taylor & Eric Burres, I should also mention that I'm playing the Detective in their next feature later this year called "Search"  which is written by Eric & will be Directed by Brian. As a Producer I've about 17 films on IMDB to date & a number that have yet to post so keep your eyes out for more.

HitH: Finally is there anything else you would like to add/tell fans out there?

AR: On a whole I've been BLESSED to have been given the opportunities presented to me in my Life. I did work hard to cultivate the relationships & jobs that have come my way as I have no agency affiliation & no Formal Manager. I believe in making my own circumstances for myself rather than sitting back & waiting for them to come to me. However I did not do this on my own, I have a great amount of friends that have constantly referred me to others & I in turn always look to connect the talents of those that I've worked with others that I know in order for our "Family" to grow bigger & better. I wouldn't be here if not for those people, my Fans & most importantly my Family; Mom, Dad, Grandma & Grandpa, they are my Heart & Soul. I just want to close by thanking everyone out for taking time to read this & share with their friends & say thank you for putting me where I am today. You can stay up to date with my current & upcoming projects on my Facebook Fan Page: "Officially Andrew Roth" as well as my website's & IMDB page (Links Below)

Keep your dreams alive!! 
Andrew Roth

HitH: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me Andrew and all the best for your future projects! Stay in touch!

Monday 6 February 2012

Monsters in the Woods (2012)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by Jason Horton

Written by Jason Horton

Stars: Glenn Plummer, Lee Perkins, Linda Bella, Edward Hendershott, Claudia Perea, Blaine Cade, Ashton Blanchard, Paul Misko, Gladys Otero

USA DVD release – 21 February 2012 (Osiris Entertainment)

A low budget creature feature with blood, boobs and gags. The film misses the mark for me but the intentions are clear and some more money may have made this a brilliant  little popcorn flick.

Monsters in the Woods  tells the story of a film-maker and his cast/crew bending to the usual studio pressure by taking off to the woods to film some gore/T&A to 'improve' their production. That's life after all and people want to make money! Throw in some quirky characters such as the sparky Script Supervisor (Ashton Blanchard) pissed off actor Burt ( Edward Hendershott) sexy make-up girl Ariel (Claudia Perera) and down beaten Director (Glenn Plummer) up against some truly mean looking monsters and you have the recipe for a fun and campy horror flick. Sadly for me Monsters in the Woods was a great idea let down by some performances, a bit of an overblown story and lack of funds. I dont blame writer Jason Horton going for something more interesting with his script at all but in this instance I couldn't help but think 'why cant there just be monsters that happen to be in the woods, killing people?'.

The story veers from a few nasty attacks on the crew to a plot concerning an angel hell-bent on wiping out the beasts before they claim their intended twelve victims. It's ultimately up to actors Burt and Bianca (Gladys Otero) to get out of the woods in one piece before the creatures (which are actually hellhounds) complete their heinous plan. In spite of saying all of that, I still think the movie sounds like it could have been a hell of a lot of fun, but in this case I just feel that its low budget got the better of it in a number of places. Take for example the scene in which a blonde actress refuses to believe warnings about the monsters and ends up a victim. Unfortunately it's so poorly acted that I cringed for all the wrong reasons.

I can usually take a horror film with flaws if there are aspects to make up for it and there are some fun gore effects. Possibly due to budget there are an awful lot of cutaway kills but there are also some nice gory, comedic touches. For example: aforementioned Script Supervisors untimely face removal. She's understandably upset that a hell hound just took off with her face but she just kind of...continues with the group...for a while anyway. Its silly moments like this that give the film a really enjoyable angle - its supposed to be laughed at and it works. I also really enjoyed the ending, firstly with the final two survivors and then the additional part involving a bickering family in their car. The final monster shot was also really cool and actually made me then want to continue watching!

Its shame to be negative as I really wanted to enjoy this little indie flick. It has a fun idea behind it and I bet it was a hoot to make, therefore I wouldn't deter anyone from checking this out. I'm still very keen to check out Jason Hortons previous film Trap and intend to do so ASAP.

Find out more about Monsters in the Woods  here and if you think it might be up your street then you can pick the DVD up from all good USA retailers on 21 February.

The Sleeper (2012)


Directed by Justin Russell

Written by Justin Russell

Stars: Brittany Belland, Luke Frost, Paul Moon, Tiffany Arnold, Beverly Kristy, Jessica Cameron, Riana Ballo, Ali Ferda, Jenna Fournier, Elizabeth Lane and Jason Jay Crabtree as 'The Sleeper'

Release: DVD (US) 31 January 2012, Gamma Knife Films

 Justin Russell takes horror fans back to the 1980s in style with creepy sorority girl slasher pic The Sleeper.

The Sleeper tells the simple story of a deranged madman terrorising a sorority house with horrifying phone calls before slowly taking them out, one by bloody one. So what makes this movie 'a cut above the rest'? For me it was mainly down to presentation. The film promises a film set in the 1980s, capturing the spirit of the kind of stalk and slash films that came in spades back then and for me it does just that. The soundtrack is just perfect - I actually felt like I was watching a grossly belated sequel to Black Christmas. With Black Christmas being my second favourite horror film (hey it's up against Carrie!) this was a fantastic surprise for me. The storyline being pretty much identical to Bob Clarks 1974 shocker, the atmosphere needed to be suitably creepy and again The Sleeper very much excels. Other details such as the old style telephone and the cheesy disco dance routine also give the movie an authentic old school feel.

So what's the main plot? The film features sweet natured Amy, a girl who wants to pledge to the Alpha Gamma Theta sorority, much to the disdain of her sarcastic best friend Ava. Amy has chosen the wrong time to involve her self with the girls of AGT because a heavy breathing lunatic has been planning the gruesome demise of the five main members of the house. As the maniac begins his reign of bloody terror both Amy and Ava find themselves in the firing line as well and a battle for survival soon begins. I have to say there are some very impressive gore effects as the victims begin dropping like flies. Some that stood out are a hammer to the eye, a brutal beheading and a knife to the head. The movie also has a very high body count though so expect a hell of a lot more where that came from!

I enjoyed many of the characters in the film. 'Mrs Joy', the house mother was sweet and me and the other half watched, hoping she wouldn't fall foul of the killer. I really loved the moody, broody 'Ava' and thought Brittany Belland nailed the good girl role of 'Amy'. Luke Cross' character was a great nod to the John Saxon role in Black Christmas which was another impressive feature personally for me. My favourite character was sweet at heart party girl 'Laura' and her immediate friendship (potentially more) with Ava was nice to see unfold. My only true complaint of the movie was that the fate of Laura and another main character was left unclear. Justin Russell was really kind enough to email me back about this and it turns out this was due to budget issues. This is obviously understandable for an independent film project so in this instance viewers will need to use their imaginations. Maybe a potential sequel could help to shed light on the fates of these characters, that would be really cool.

In summary,The Sleeper is a real treat for horror/slasher fans. It is low budget but manages to be well acted, well shot, and more importantly extremely entertaining. Please show your support and go and pick up a copy at the Gamma Knife Films website or Amazon - money well spent I assure! You can also hit the movie up on good old Facebook, so go take a look!

Sunday 5 February 2012

Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2011)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by Vito Trabucco

Written by Vito Trabucco, Shelby Mcintyre

Stars: Reggie Bannister, Tim Sullivan, Deborah Venagas, Ivet Corvea, Elissa Dowling, Matthew Aidan, Jennifer Sonneborn, Christopher Raff, Jay Fields, Jeff Dylan Graham and Ron Jeremy as 'Jesus' (Yes Jesus!)

Hillarious, gory and downright wrong - Vito Trabuccos Bloody Bloody Bible Camp takes us back to the sleazier side of the summer camp slashers of the 80s. When I say sleazy think the likes of Sleepaway Camp where characters were not your typical kind hearted counsellors or happy go lucky campers. While films such as Sleepaway were not intentional comedies (well the original anyhow) like BBBC is they are still comparative in their inclusion of unsavoury characters with less than honourable intentions.

So what's the movie all about? It's 1984 and a group of bible thumpers are headed to the Happy Days Bible Camp for some fun, frolics and supposed harmonising with the good Lord. Unluckily for this hapless bunch, the camp was the setting of a grisly massacre back in 1977, supposedly at the hands of a crazed nun named Sister Mary Chopper. Being an homage to the slasher pics of the 80s it's safe to assume that the lives of the new arrivals are very much in danger and when Mary Chopper makes her reappearance, heads will literally roll!

While it does take its sweet time in getting to the gory goods, BBBC manages to keep viewers entertained with its abundance of what I call 'wrongedy'. Because while the film is very funny it is 100% wronger than wrong. That's fine by me as its my favourite type of comedy, it's never intended to be taken seriously! So you have: perverted men of the cloth, musings on Jesus' manhood, crucifix sodomy, Shelly Duvall used as masturbation material (yeh you read right) and much much more. If you read all that and felt physically sick then...maybe steer clear.Otherwise enjoy it for what it is! Comedy besides, once the movie hits it's final act there is gore galore! Heads fly, crotches are chopped and campers are crucified - with all effects practical and done really well to boot! Special mention also has to go to the slash happy opening sequence which depicts the 1977 massacre mentioned previously. It's a brilliantly inventive way to roll your opening credits and I'm sure a lot of red blooded horror fans will love the final freeze framed shot...I won't spoil what that is but once you watch this..well you will know!

Tim Sullivan shows some impressive acting chops here which is great to see. I love his work as a Director and it was fun to see him doing something completely different. Reggie Bannister is truly entertaining as the suspiciously named 'Father Cummings', the less than well intended head of the camp and special mention must go to both Matthew Aidan as the ditzy jock and Jennifer Sonneborn as the camp bimbo respectively who have the funniest one liners throughout the flick. I also thought Deborah Venagas as 'Jennifer' played her moody goth character really well and 'Timmy'...well 'Timmy' just scared me! Its a shame that the always game Elissa Dowling wasnt a main character but her scenes at the start were very funny so I am sure people will love this part.

I am also pleased to announce that there are zero sound and picture issues here as found in a great deal of low budget films - the film looks and sounds professional and the soundtrack is both appropriately dark and light depending on the scene. I was also really impressed with the scene where darkness descends on the camp and all the clouds start to roll, it looked like a great homage to the scene in Friday the 13th where Jack and Marcie get caught out in the sudden rain storm.

In short, if you are looking for a gruesomely good time, with a  lot of laughs, then you cant go far wrong with Bloody Bloody Bible Camp. Stayed tuned for news of a wide DVD release through the official movie site and Facebook page as I hear Sister Mary Chopper is coming to a convent near you soon!

15 - An Exploration of Human Violence: Exclusive Cast and Crew interviews

If you read my review of Jason Hawkins 15,  you will know that this little indie horror really got under my skin. Its a dark, disturbing exploration of human violence that truly stays with you after the credits roll.
Telling the story of a camera crew who travel to the remote home of self proclaimed serial killer Edwads 'Ed' Payne to capture his final moments before he gives himself up, 15 tries and succeeds in fraying the nerves.
Hacked in the Head was lucky enough to interview several members of the cast and crew of the movie and it was an absolute pleasure to find out more about the people involved.

Thank you to you all for taking the time to talk with Hacked in the Head Reviews! It’s a pleasure to discuss the movie 15 with you and any other stuff you want to talk about!

Jason Hawkins (‘Edward Payne’) and Director/Writer 

Hacked in the Head: My first question is to Jason – how did the idea for 15 come about? Did you have a clear idea from the outset on how you wanted the film to turn out? ‘A study of human violence’ is a very apt subtitle for the movie.

Jason Hawkins:
Well, we had shot a short film, called “Girl 15” with Dara Davey, Bob Olin, and myself. I really wanted to take a non-glamorous look at sociopathic behavior, and explore that aspect of human nature. Abnormal Psych was always one of my favorite studies, and I felt like Hollywood tended to glamorize the behavior of serial killers –I didn’t want to do that. They’re frightening, and I wanted to scare people. So we shot the short film, and it’s pretty good (I’ll probably put it on the DVD bonus features), and while watching the final product I thought: “There’s more… we didn't get all of it… there’s… something else here we need to explore.” So, we re-visited it, and went to work. The cast only got the first 60 pages of the script. They had NO IDEA what was going to happen in the final 30 minutes of the film. I wouldn’t give them the pages. The day we got ready to shoot, they still didn't know, the crew didn’t know, nobody knew but ME… they showed up on set, nervous, a little afraid of me, and ready to work. I told them: “Trust me.” And of course, foolishly, they did. (Lesson there kids, never trust a sociopath.)

That final scene is 27 minutes, one camera, no cuts. People have gotten up in the middle of it and walked out of the theater in tears. But most of them stay to watch it, and that’s my point. How numb are we to enjoy…. That.

HitH: Secondly Jason – How did you find the experience of writing/directing as well as playing such a central role? It must have had its challenges?

JH: Actually, it wasn’t too bad. I slip in and out of character pretty quickly, and really… to be honest, I don’t remember most of the film. I remember the direction, setting up shots, etc., but once I became Ed, Mr. Director Jason was loonnnnnnng gone. When the scene was over I sometimes couldn't remember what Ed had said or done, or why people were really crying and giving me funny looks….

Maybe I shouldn’t tell you guys that in public….

Next question! Haha.

HitH: Your role in the movie is a pretty terrifying one. I know in correspondence you mentioned how hard it was to shake such a character off which I can completely understand. Tell me a bit about the creation of Edward ‘Ed’ Payne and the difficulties faced with portraying such a detestable ‘human’ being.

JH: Damn, next question was about Ed! I should have read ahead…

Ok. Yeah, Ed isn't a nice guy. But the worst part is that you get the sense that Ed isn’t quite right, that there is something lurking just inside of his skin, and if that something gets out, or gets too close, you’re in danger. Going there as an actor wasn’t easy at all. I had to live in Ed’s mind almost 24/7 to really get the feel of it. To get ready for scenes, I had to just forget that I was a human being, because while Ed is wearing a human suit, he’s far from a normal human. It caused a lot of problems. I lost friends I had known for a few years.

One of them came to me after the film and said we couldn’t stay friends. I thought he was joking. He told me, he thought Ed was the real ‘me’, that I wasn’t acting when I was Ed; and that the ‘ me’ that was standing there talking to him like a normal person, was actually the act.

I thought that was a compliment. As an actor, I scared the shit out of people. They didn’t see me, they didn’t think it was ‘acting’, they 100% believed what they were seeing on the screen, that it was all real, and that’s a pretty big compliment.

HitH:. Is there any news you can share regarding the film’s release? I did read something about a possible upcoming DVD release.

Circus Road is our sales agent for the film. We’ve received a few offers, with smaller distributors, but are working on a larger, mass market DVD release. I hope to have the deals worked out sometime over the next couple of months so we can get the film out there.

HitH: Lastly is there anything else you would like to say about the movie or tell horror fans out there? Are there any new, exciting projects in the pipeline?

JH: Sure. We set out to make a scary movie, something that wouldn’t jump out at you, or shower you with gore, but something that would fucking terrify you, because it felt real. I’ve always felt that the most successful horror was horror that was personal to the person watching it. I felt with ‘15’ we hit that right on the head. It’s personal. I hope you enjoy it, though enjoy may not be the right word.

We are busy beyond words. In addition to working out the distribution deals for our two features ‘15’ and ‘The Innocent’, we are getting ready to shoot a horror film called ‘The Suffering’ which stars some pretty big genre names, like Eileen Dietz, Shannon Lark, and Denton Blane Everett. It’s a powerful film, and in test readings there have been lots of real tears, and real screams… In addition, my long-time friend ‘Big Adam’ has been after me to shoot the horror film ‘Keeper’, which now looks like a summer shoot.

After that, we get to tackle a massively huge project. A sci-fi/horror trilogy called ‘Shatterpoint’, a terrific project starring Dara Davey. This has been our dream project for the last year, and it looks like we’ll finally get to start working on it in the fall/winter of this year.

In case you can’t tell, I don’t sleep much. Not with Ed rattling around in my brain anyways…

Natasha Timpani  (‘Brenda Hill’)

Hacked in the Head: My next question has to go to Natasha Timpani who plays lead gal ‘Brenda Hill’. Now ‘Brenda’ is quite the character isn’t she? What were your thoughts when you first read the script? Were you surprised at how gritty and dark the film was going to be and how complex your character?

Natasha Timpani: Isn't she quite the character? I had a discussion with Jason Hawkins where he told me about the plot, the character Brenda and his idea for how she would be involved in the film. With "15" we had different versions of the script where scenes or dialogue was omitted or not shared until right before we filmed, so it was my conversation with Jason that really captured my interest. Brenda is exactly the type of role I have been dying to play and I was surprised that Jason believed in my ability to play such a dynamic role.

HitH: How tough did you find the role? Or did you relish playing such a meaty character?

NT: Playing Brenda was exciting! It pushed me as an actor to really become someone I don't relate to at all. It was challenging because I joined on four days before we began filming and I had to immerse myself in a very dark world, and do a lot of disturbing research in a short time. The message we wanted to deliver was important to me, and the role was on my wish list of roles, so I really did love playing Brenda.

HitH: How were your experiences working with Jason Hawkins? It must have been strange being directed by someone who you are also acting with, in a central capacity. Especially with Jason’s role being so evil and menacing!

Jason is incredible to work with and "15" was my first opportunity to work with him. I was able to see Jason work as a director, a co-star, and a co-producer and really learn so much from him in each area; he is an incredibly talented, intelligent, hard-working, professional who is always on the move. He’s fun to be around, and supports and stands behind his cast and crew every step of the way. His character was a drastically different from who he really is, but filming scenes with him as Ed was easy, because when we film, I’m not me, I’m Brenda.

HitH: Have you seen the finished movie and what are your thoughts on the final product? Are you a fan of horror movies in general?

NT: I have seen the film at the Crypticon Seattle horror convention, and at a screening in Portland, and I also have a few copies at home. We all co-produced the film together and had a message we wanted to deliver, and wanted to leave the audience with something that impacted them. I couldn't be happier with the final product and it turned out to be than I could have imagined. The performances from my co-stars are incredible and it really blows me away to see them bring such intense, deep characters to life. Plus it scared me, and very few things truly frighten me. I have always liked watching horror films and seeing if it will be scary or not. The genre in general I love, except when there is overt gore in horror films, then, I can't watch.

HitH: Do you have any new projects coming up? Or is there anything else you would like to share with fans?

NT: I am excited to come back and play a role in the feature film "The Suffering", which Jason and Dara are producing in a few weeks. I also have a huge role in Jason’s "Shatterpoint" trilogy, which is to start by early fall, and, I am also in discussions for two other features to be filmed this summer, but can't give any details. I do want to say how truly thankful I am for the wonderfully supportive fans, and for all the interest in the film. I couldn't be happier than to do what I love and to have it enjoyed by others. Thank you guys for your time it was fun to chat about the movie.

Bob Olin: (‘Jack Hamil’)

Hacked in the Head: Next I want to go to Bob who plays struggling camera man ‘Jack Hamill’. Hi Bob – your character goes on quite the journey in 15. Tell me a bit about your experiences playing him.

Bob Olin: I guess I’d have to say that playing Jack was a bit like a roller coaster; there were some ups, some downs … and lots of screaming. Jack was a very interesting character to play and one that I’m glad I got the chance to bring to life, if only for a few days. We filmed this movie in almost real time, over 4 days, and it really called for me to focus at all times, and to be immersed into the emotions that he went through in a very short time frame. It also was an odd thing to not only act as the character, but to be the camera operator for 95% of the film as well. I had to be thinking about the shots, and catching what we needed while at the same time, in a lot of cases, improvising a lot of the dialogue with my fellow actors: Jason, Natasha, and Dara. We had a script, (which we only got part of, and just one day before filming so we couldn’t become overly familiar with it) but we decided to use it as more of a loose basis to work from rather than stay word for word. We felt that it would bring a more realistic feel. This is true from the beginning, when I really did have a flat tire, so Jason told me to take the camera with me and we incorporated it into the film. The “man on the street” interviews were also all real people and real interviews. They weren’t told about the movie until after the interviews were over. Those were so much fun to film, and meet all the folks and get so many interesting opinions. The scenes just kind of flowed like a river no matter who was in them. We all relished the chance to just play around and see what we got, including the final scene.

HitH: How did you cope filming your final scenes? Personally I found these to be more than a little harrowing – did these stay with you afterwards or were you able to go home after and think ‘that was work’ ?

BO: I'm really glad to hear that the scene stuck with you. It means that my pain and suffering worked –and that’s good to know. That final scene was by far the most difficult one I’ve ever done in 12 years of film work. The whole thing was improvised. It was cold and dark, and I was truly frightened. I had no clue what Jason was going to do or say. Trust me when I say that Ed Payne is not a guy you wanna get upset, or be in the same room with in such a vulnerable state. It was one of the last scenes we filmed so I had 4 days to get myself there, and the tension increased as we went along for me just like it does for Jack and the audience. It was intense, to say the least. You asked if the scene stayed with me afterwards. In 2 words, fuck yes. To do a scene like that you have to totally immerse yourself into the moment and I was all over the map with emotion and fear. I had to try block most of it out and believe it or not I don’t remember a great deal of it. As much as I’d like to say it was “just work” it sure didn’t feel like it. I actually got a call from Jason about 2 weeks later, and he said that he thought we might need to film the scene again (which we did, but didn’t use) to try to get more emotion out of it. I agreed to it if it would make the film work better. That very night I woke up 3 times from nightmares fighting in my sleep. I find it difficult to watch still, so I’d say yes that it stayed with me. But, I’m glad I did it.

HitH: Are you satisfied with the films outcome in respects to your character? Or would you have liked a potential for Jack to come back from his experiences? (Non spoiler as per the opening of the film)

As a performer, sure I’d love to see more of Jack in order not only to play him some more but also to have the fun on set with our cast and crew. But, I also know too that the story just doesn’t allow for it. His story has an Act 1, 2 and 3, and I think it’s a nice and well told peek into one down on his luck, slightly awkward, loving husband, who’s having a difficult time of life. I personally don’t wanna go and tell backstories, or a story of what happened to Jack after the camera shuts off. I think leaving it to the audience to imagine is much more interesting in this case. To have a sequel for sequels sake is something I personally don’t like… however, if there were more stories to tell, then we’d have discussed it and left it open to do so. There are a few characters that I’ve played where there is that option, but unfortunately, this isn’t one of them, and I’m ok with that.

HitH: You had some rather sexy scenes with Natasha at one point in the film! I thought you had great chemistry together, particularly when ‘Brenda’ warmed to your character but did you find filming Natasha’s seduction scene uncomfortable in anyway?

Uncomfortable?? Have you seen this wonderful young lady? She’s an incredible person and an amazingly talented woman. Thank you for the compliment and I totally agree that we had a crazy chemistry that just came out. It’s funny because the chemistry was almost instantaneous, and that’s not always the case on a film set, but it was easy with her. We met literally the first morning of filming and almost immediately became very good friends. We spent some time together traveling to set and back into town to film the interviews and had some deep discussions about the film and our views on the story and what we wanted our onscreen relationship to be. A bit of behind the scenes trivia: We didn’t know our whole relationship storyline until the final day of filming. You asked about the seduction. When it came to that scene, at first yes, I was a little uncomfortable but again we talked about it a bit one on one and just decided to go with it and we got what we got, which I’m very happy with. Her opinion is the same as mine, do what we need to do to make the film work. She does that and I can’t wait to work with her again and again.

HitH: Same question as to Natasha. What are your thoughts of the final product of 15 and do you enjoy horror movies in general?

BO: I'm very happy with the final product. I’m not sure if Jason has mentioned it, but this is only the theatrical / DVD version that was cut down from I believe a 2:45 original run time. There are some cool scenes that had to be cut, but not everything’s always gonna make it into the final cut. All in all I think though, that the story flows nice, and it builds and builds until the very brutal ending, which was the idea. Can you stick around and watch it all the way through? We wanted the film to feel raw and unblinking and that’s what we give you. When you think the intensity should be over, think again.

You asked also if I’m a fan of horror movies. Hell yeah I am, in fact most of my early work, and of course, some of my latest work is in the horror genre. The first horror film I remember was “Curse of Frankenstein” with Christopher Lee and a scene where an arm is amputated really stuck with me. I loved it and knew that I’d always be a fan of the horror genre. It was such an honor and a great experience to get to work with Adrienne King from the original “Friday the 13th” when I co-starred in “The Innocent” (another Gravestone film) and also “Gabby’s Wish”. There’s nothing like a good scare, and I’m always looking for a film to scare me. So come on filmmakers….get to it.

HitH: As I asked Jason and Natasha – what would you like to say about any upcoming projects and is there anything further you would like to add about 15?

Anything further on “15”, huh? 

I guess I’d have to say, it was tough, it was intense, it was horrifying, and it was one of the most fun times I had on a set. 4 days of go go go go, and on the fly filmmaking. I’m really hoping that you all enjoy it and that each time you watch it you’ll find something new, and I have to say I hope it bothers you. Some upcoming projects for me are actually mainly horror related. I have 5 feature length films in post-production: “Lake Noir” (possibly the 1st in a trilogy) “Blood Creek Woodsman”, “Evil Rising” “Twisted Fates” (which I directed a segment for) and “Downcast” all Oregon based films. I’m also playing a supporting role in Gravestone Entertainments “Shatterpoint” trilogy and I’ve also been cast in a few short films with titles like “The Circle” (with Dara Davey) and “Overqualified”. Busy you say, well never busy enough in my book. Of course, I have to say that if anyone likes what they see in my performances, I’m always looking to work on more. Feel free to get in touch with me and let’s talk about making a movie. Thanks for watching “15” and stay scared.

Dara Davey: (‘Maggie’) and Co-Producer

Hacked in the Head:  Finally I would like to talk to Dara Davey who plays Jacks wife ‘Maggie’ and also co-produced 15. Hi Dara – I wondered how you found both acting in the movie as well as being co-producer. Were there any challenges you would like to share?

Dara Davey: First off, thank you for taking the time to interview me. It means a lot to get the opportunity to talk about my experience with this film. To answer your question, I found myself acting in this film because I had landed a co-starring role in Jason Hawkins film The Innocent. He had told me after seeing my acting in The Innocent that he wanted to see me play the lead in one of his films. He called me up one day and described the concept of 15 and asked me if I wanted to play the lead. We actually shot this film originally as a short which is a whole other story of its own (and hopefully we will be releasing footage of it soon, as there are some equally terrifying moments in that one). He loved the short film so much he asked me if I wanted to make it a feature. In order to make it a feature Jason had to create more plot line and Natasha’s character was born and my character completely switched from a college girl to Maggie. I was no longer the lead but was just as happy it turned out the way it did and am so proud of Natasha in this film and the character of Maggie is a critical role in this film. 

As far as co-producing goes, we all actually are co-producers on this film. Jason wanted to try something new, and ultimately we all helped in any and every capacity we could. There really weren’t any challenges insofar as acting and co-producing. I was still able to drop the role of producer and become Maggie. The challenge in this film lied more in taking me to that dark place rather than producing.

HitH: Your role as ‘Maggie’ required acting out some truly horrific scenes. How did you find this? There were a few moments in the film where it looked as though something absolutely appalling was about to happen to you (I won’t go into spoiler territory!). This must have been uncomfortable to a degree?

DD: It was uncomfortable all right. Everything about this film was uncomfortable. One of the biggest challenges was that I had to drop knowing Jason as a writer/director and see him as Edward. Somehow I found that place inside me to imagine the reality of this happening to me. Jason’s performance as Edward was so strong that he really felt like a he had split personalities. There were some scenes I just couldn’t bear to watch because if I didn’t have to make my mind make that switch, I didn't want to because of the amount of terror and stress it put me through.

Yes there were moment where it did look like something appalling was going to happen to me, and really it’s true. I mean, I didn't know what was coming and it was scary because it required me to surrender to the fact that anything could have happened down there. I had to make myself believe that I really could be hurt and killed and that I had no control. Whoever wants to imagine this? But I knew what I was doing was for a good cause, which is to bring awareness to people that we need to question how comfortable we as a nation have become with violence. This wasn’t your typical horror movie where we WANTED to show violence to scare people; we wanted to show violence to make people uncomfortable with it and get to thinking.

HitH: Could you tell me any on set experiences that spring to mind? What was the atmosphere like filming 15 – it’s such a dark dark movie that it would be nice to hear that you were all able to have a laugh while making it!

DD: You know the best part about filming with Gravestone Entertainment is that we have become somewhat of a family. We take care of each other on set. We check in with each other, feed each other, laugh together, bounce ideas off each other, but ultimately we all share the same love for film and when it comes time to shoot, we hustled together and create magic…even if it’s dark. We shot this film in 4 days. When we set our minds on something, we just make it happen, and we let our guards down so we can give the best performance possible. There was definitely laughter on set but honestly most of the time, we were so focused that we didn’t have a lot of time to relax and let loose. We saved that till the film wrapped. However, none of us will forget Jason being deep in a serious scene with Bob and he whips out a banana and started seductively peeling away the peel while talking to Bob. Bob’s being super serious, really in the moment. Then Jason looks at Bob while uh… entertaining the banana orally, and ask: “So tell me something, big boy… Do you like gladiator movies?” Bob about choked to death on the laughter when he realized it was all a setup. All of this in the dead middle of a 10 minute serious scene… We shoot fast, but there’s always time for a banana.

HitH: Were there any moments where you stopped and thought ‘some of this material is a bit too graphic’? I guess it would have been hard to convey the intentions of the film without getting quite hardcore.

DD: Actually I had times where I thought the very concept was too scary and too graphic. But you know what is so great about you asking me this? This film really wasn’t that graphic. It just makes you feel it was terribly graphic. There is very little blood, no severed body parts, very little nudity but somehow you walk away feeling horrified with what you saw and feel you witnessed terrible things. That was our point; to trick the mind. We wanted the acting to carry you through this horror, not the blood. You don’t need blood and guts to know something is terrible and wrong. There were so many people uncomfortable with the content of this film and to us, we know we did it right. I don’t think people are used to getting uncomfortable with violence anymore. We are so accustomed to it, look forward to it in movies, and expect it. We wanted to make it raw and repulsive. It almost seems the more blood and guts in film these days, the less we are afraid, the less we care.

HitH: What’s next for Dara Davey and anything else you would like to add?

DD: Actually I am working on a wonderful new SAG Indie Feature Film called The Suffering. I will be producing in conjunction with Jason Hawkins. Once you make one film with him, you just can’t wait to make more. This time I wanted to step away from the front of the camera and learn the craft of movie making. I believe this knowledge will make me stronger as an actress.

After that, we will get to dive into a feature film trilogy project called ‘Shatterpoint.’ This is a film I’ve really been looking forward to, as the role really speaks to me and will offer new challenges for me as an actress.

I think the last thing I would like that add, is that 15 is not for everyone and that people should be warned before they see it. Some people aren’t ready for it, or don’t want to take themselves to this place and that’s ok. We don’t want them to be subject to seeing it without being warned. It will shake you up. And rightly, it should.

Thank you again for taking the time to talk to me, I am sure readers would agree that you all gave some great answers and insight into the movie. I am still stunned that Jason lost a friend over the film!! Sincerely -the very best of luck with the release of 15!