One of our staff reporters Mike Pereira attended Rue Morgue Magazine’s first annual Festival of Fear for us in Toronto, Canada and wrote in a detailed report about everything you missed. Inside you’ll find part one, which includes talk of Land of the Dead by Tom Savini and George Romero and a Tales from the Crypt box set coming next year! Read on for the goods and see why you don’t want to miss out next year…
Festival of Fear Part 1
By B-D staff member: Mike Pereira
I have been attending the Canadian National Expo for the past two years and the one thing that always bothered me was that there wasn’t anything for the hardcore horror fans in Toronto let alone Canada. I would always spend the most time at the Rue Morgue table, convincing myself that it was a mini-horror convention.
Leave it to the amazing folks at Rue Morgue magazine to finally bring that dream to life. The Festival Of Fear has arrived and it didn’t disappoint one bit. They have injected life into a rather ordinary convention. There was this air of excitement when you were in the FOF section that was pretty vacant from the other sections. Not only did Rue Morgue bring us some of the top names in horror but they have also presented screenings of classic genre films and some of the latest, unreleased flicks like Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning and Dead And Breakfast. From August 27th till the 29th, I like many fans were in horror heaven (or hell if you prefer).
The voice behind Tales From The Crypt’s Cryptkeeper was the perfect way to start off this exciting weekend. The panel had by far the smallest attendance but it didn’t stop Kassir from giving a very funny and informative chat with the fans. Here are some of the tidbits he gave us:
-There was in fact a third Tales From The Crypt film called Fat Tuesday! It was based on an old TFTC story titled, “They Walk With Zombies”. It dealt with voodoo in New Orleans. Kassir shot the Cryptkeeper segments three years ago. He has no idea when it would release if ever.
-Warner Brothers are releasing a box set of the series to release sometime next year.
-His latest project is Reefer Madness: The Musical, based on the old 1938 movie starring Alan Cumming, Neve Campbell, Steven Weber. He didn’t give much insight on the plot but did say at a certain point in the movie, his character goes insane and begins to eat people. Nice! It will air on television sometime next year.
Special make-up effects wiz, Tom Savini is a legend among horror fans. Who can ever forget his brilliant work in Dawn Of The Dead, Day Of The Dead, Maniac and Friday The 13th?! He also gave us some very memorable performances in both Dawn Of The Dead films, From Dusk Till Dawn, Maniac, Creepshow 2 and Knightriders (if you have never seen it, what are you waiting for?! It’s Romero’s most underrated work.) His panel rocked as expected. Savini gave the jam-packed crowd one hell of a great time!
-Savini has a couple of roles in Romero’s highly anticipated fourth chapter in the Dead saga, Land Of The Dead. He will reprise the role of Blades from DOTD, as well as play a new character that will be named either “Pretty Boy” or “Foxy”. He hopes it’ll end up being “Foxy”.
-There is talk that there might be 8 CG zombies in LOTD, mainly to enhance a look like half of a body missing. Also, the location of the building and the 9/11 references have been put back into the screenplay.
-Tom really liked the remake of Dawn Of The Dead or as he likes to put it “more” DOTD. He thought after the first ten minutes the film would be better but it didn’t quite get there. He also referred to the zombies as “fast and ugly” so you would never get a really good glimpse of how good the make-up work was. He saw the Director’s cut and he feels that it not only an amazingly better but a completely different film.
-Savini’s haunted house, Terrormania will open on September 25th this season in Pittsburgh. Damn! Supposedly the “Spider Room” is what he calls a “pants pisser”. It’s only the fourth room! Many cannot make it through it so security has to lead them out of the building. Man I got go!!!
-Savini has a pet project called Vampirates that he is trying to get financing for. He is thinking of resurrecting the project since Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 is going into production soon.
-He has contributed photos and files towards the upcoming Friday The 13th box set. Savini also said that he would love to do effects for another one. He would savior the opportunity to create some “outlandish ****”. He would also relish the opportunity to direct a sequel. Savini would want to end the series as a major comedy but be grisly as hell. The first and fourth films were Tom’s favorites.
-No news if ever Scream Great Vol. 1 will ever release. But Savini did mention if ever someone wanted to make the DVD’s, he would go that way.
-He hates putting make-up on! He despises the feeling of being sticky. Who would have known?!
-Despite the rumors, Savini insists he loved making Maniac.
-From Dusk Till Dawn was his favorite on-set experience to date. Savini had many fond things to say about the cast and crew especially George Clooney, who he thought was the nicest guy he ever met.
-Day Of The Dead is his favorite make-up effects work. I would definitely agree on that one!
-He has absolutely no involvement in the 1981 flick titled, Nightmare. The filmmakers put his name on it without asking Savini’s permission.
-Savini will be continuing work on Chill Factor. He is very proud of the series.
Horror icon George A. Romero was the guest of honor at the first annual Festival Of Fear. The man needs no introduction. He is the most influential director of the genre. Romero has without a doubt the most distinguished filmography that includes the Dead series to Martin to Creepshow. The list goes on and on. There was no question that this thrilling panel would be mainly focused towards the highly anticipated Land Of The Dead, the fourth chapter of the Dead series. It’s been a 19-year wait! Romero was clearly excited to finally be able to bring it the big screen.
-Land Of The Dead begins shooting in Toronto from October 4th-11th right up to mid-December. He wrote LOTD’s script before 9/11 and once that happened he couldn’t get the funding for the project. But since then people have been more at ease and Romero was able to not only inject those original aspects of the screenplay back but also tweak in some new stuff dealing with post-9/11 attitudes like living with the threat of terrorism.
-LOTD will be R-rated in North America during the initial theatrical release but Universal has allowed him to shoot the film the way he envisions it. Markets like Japan and Germany will get a director’s cut during the theatrical run. He jokingly apologizes that probably like Dawn, there will be like 14 editions released on DVD. I wouldn’t be surprised.
-Like Savini, Romero loved Shaun Of The Dead which releases on September 24th theatrically in North America. He felt that it was the only zombie film that he didn’t make that was better than anything he’d ever done! I saw the film recently and personally I feel that there is NO FUCKING WAY that it matches even a tiny fraction of almost anything Romero has ever done and I enjoyed SOTD!
-Shaun Of The Dead star Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright want to do a cameo. It all depends if SOTD really hits. They might have to do a tour with the film. Romero would love for them to be part of it as well. Also there are talks with Dennis Hopper and Asia Argento to star in the film but nothing is official as of yet.
-He didn’t care one way or the other about the Dawn Of The Dead remake. It was a lot better than he originally felt it would be. Romero felt it was a “decent action flick” but thought that it lost some of its reason of being and satire along the way. He would rather have zombies develop “mental powers than body coordination”. He doesn’t think they should run until they’ve learned. Romero feels that his zombies were menacing because they were misunderstood. He was always into the humor since growing up with EC Comics so instead he always went for synthetic scares, motion and sound. It was never meant to be scary but and “allegory of social behavior”.
-He brought up a great incident in which Stephen King answered a fan’s question concerning what he felt about people ruining his books. King responded by saying that in fact it will never be ruined, the books are right up on the shelf. Romero feels the same way concerning remakes of his films.
-Romero co-wrote with his partner, six drafts for the Resident Evil adaptation he was originally attached to do. Capcom and a German company called Constantine produced it. Constantine is one of those companies that are basically run by one guy who lives in Germany. He would show up every eight weeks and say what he liked and didn’t like. Capcom and everyone associated with the project loved the script…except that German producer, Bernd Eichinger. Romero felt that the guy didn’t get it. He just bought the rights because it was popular. So after a year and a half of work on Resident Evil, Romero got fired. He found the end product to be a “bit cheesy”. That’s an understatement in my opinion.
-CG zombies have not been officially confirmed but there are scenes that more zombies are required then they can possibly recruit in terms of physical bodies. Romero felt in the new Dawn that the big mob scenes looked like “worms in can”. They were faceless. He prefers that the zombies become characters through wardrobe and the things that they are carrying. There are slated to be between 8 to 12 CG shots to enhance crowd shots. But what they are planning to do is shoot 100 to 300 live action zombies in some days in the foreground and then add the CG zombies in the fog. He doesn’t want to do a swarm.
-The City Of The Dead video game has nothing to do with anything Romero has written. A video game company called Asylum wants to simply attach “George A. Romero Presents” to it. He has no script or creative involvement. He knows nothing about the game but he has approval over the contents of the game like the storyline. Universal is supposedly trying to get that deal away from Asylum and make it part of LOTD.
-Romero is involved in a six-part DC comic series. It was one of the greatest experiences he ever had. It is supposedly very good and much gorier than even Romero’s films. It is slated to release in October. This is part of DC’s plan on a six issues a piece series made by filmmakers.
-Romero still wants to work on Diamond Dead once he completes LOTD. He described the film as being “spoofy”. Richard Hartley of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame wrote the music. It’s about a garage rock band that is having no success. The lead musician’s girlfriend wants to join the band but they won’t allow it since they are a boy band. She gets pissed off and kills them with an “atomic subwoofer”. She has remorse over it so she makes a deal with the devil to bring them back to life. But that ole’ devil screws her once they are revived. Their noses start to fall off since they are dead. It’s not like Rocky Horror. There are no homosexual overtones. Marilyn Manson was going to play Jesus in a sequence set at the MTV awards in the afterlife in which the band are sitting next to him. Romero loves the project and felt it was the most fun he had in a very long time. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
-Romero has made more money in the past 10 years writing and rewriting scripts than during his whole life!
-George wrote a whopping 32 drafts for a project titled Before I Wake. He loved the project but sadly it went nowhere. Romero loved the 12th draft but felt it went downhill from there.
-He has been working on a novel for 19 years titled Alligator Point. It isn’t finished yet.
-There will be a remake to The Crazies by Paramount. He has no involvement with it but supposedly someone really cool is working on the screenplay.
-Romero would kill to do another Creepshow. He would like to incorporate CG in order to make it look more like an EC comic book. The film is also being remade by the same fools that are behind Day Of The Dead: Contagium. Be afraid, be very afraid!
-If you want to be a zombie or extra on LOTD, stay tuned to www.rue-morgue.com. They’ll post an update asap.