scop (noun):

Old English – bard, minstrel, storyteller

A World of Nightmares:
Latest Festival News and Reviews

October 21st, 2018

Two weeks after its UK Premiere at Grimmfest, Nightmare Cinema is continuing its run of successful festival screenings, winning fans and garnering strong reviews in the process.

In an earlier post, I listed some of the screenings scheduled for October and November. Since then, new screenings have been announced in Dublin, Melbourne, and New York City — all of which should (hopefully) bring us closer to a big west-coast premiere and a release to theatres and home video.

A few months ago, following Nightmare Cinema‘s world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, I posted links to some of the film’s initial reviews here and here.

At left, a banner featuring Grimmfest Guest of Honor Barbara Crampton stands at the foot of an escalator leading to the Odeon Cinema. The renovated industrial site bears a resemblance to the L.A. locations for “This Way to Egress.” (Poster: Uncle Frank Productions)

This month, as a result of Nightmare Cinema‘s prominence on the film-festival circuit, the blogosphere is again buzzing with audience reactions, making this a good time for assembling another list of reviews.

Since many of the recent screenings have been in places like Latin America, Spain, France, and Austria, some of the blurbs below are translations. All are accompanied by links to the original posts. If you are proficient in any of the languages, feel free to submit corrections in the comment section below or on Facebook and Twitter (via the buttons at the top of this page).

At right: Writer Sandra Becerril and Producer/Director/Writer Mick Garris at Macabro in Mexico. (Photo: Sergio Becerril)

So here they are, a sampling of the latest round of viewer reactions from festival screenings:

“The most notable segments are the most aware of their nature: ‘Mirari,’ a grotesque look at the culture of aesthetic surgery, directed by Joe Dante; and the first episode, a parody of slasher cinema […], which Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead) directs with conviction. Also very remarkable is ‘This Way to Egress’ by David Slade (Hard Candy), shot in elegant black and white, very morbid and dreamlike.” – espinof.com

At left: Sarah Withers in Alejandro Brugues’s slasher parody “The Thing in the Woods.” (Photo: Michael Moriatis)

“‘The Thing in the Woods,’ by Alejandro Burgués, is absolutely hilarious and one of the most original […]. ‘This Way to Egress,’ by David Slade, is based on the gritty […] aesthetic to which he accustomed us in his collaborations on Hannibal and American Gods. But my personal winner would undoubtedly be ‘Mashit,’ by Ryuhei Kitamura, a story of wild exorcisms […] that is an absolute catharsis to see.’ — almasocuras.com

At right: Director Ryuhei Kitamura at a live recording of Post Mortem with Mick Garris, following Nightmare Cinema‘s World Premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival. (Photo: Julie Delisle)

“The most disturbing entry is David Slade’s surreal black-and-white chiller […], which stars Elizabeth Reaser as a mother who seems to be experiencing apocalyptic hallucinations as she passes time in a doctor’s waiting area with her two sons. The situation doesn’t improve when she finally sees Doctor Salvador (Adam Godley), who seems entirely unruffled by what she tells him. Augmented by some unsettling effects work, the resolution is genuinely nightmarish and all the more effective for being under-explained.” — Nerdly.com

Director David Slade and director of photography Jo Willems set up a shot on the waiting-room set of “This Way to Egress.” (Photo: 21st-Century Scop)

“David Slade tells the story […] of a woman on the verge of nervous collapse, whose sense of reality seems to slip away more and more. Slade blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction in an oppressive way and delivers the darkest as well as the aesthetically most impressive contribution of the film.” — Uncut Movies

At right: Director David Slade, producer Joe Russo, and A.D. Joe Moore on the set of “This Way to Egress.” (Photo: Michael Moriatis)

“‘This Way to Egress’ is the episode that stands out. This is not only because it is completely black and white and shows more dynamic images than any other episode. The at-first-glance, quite-simple behavior of the woman, who seeks help because she cannot cope, reveals in her few dialogue scenes […] a little masterpiece that I would have liked to see in feature length.” – 100 Years of Terror

A technician walks a nightmarish corridor on one of the “Egress” sets. (Photo: Joe Russo)

“An anthology of five horror shorts from some very accomplished horror directors, all linked by a quirky and interesting host. These included a body horror/plastic surgery story, possession in a corrupt Catholic school, and my personal favorite “Egress”: a heart-wrenching black-and-white short concerning a mother’s descent into depression and disassociation during a difficult time in her life.” —  Visit Manchester

“Perfect for Black Mirror fans, Nightmare Cinema is a creepy anthology that ticks every box if you take your horror with a pinch of satire, gore and a whole lot of creep.” — Fraghero.com

“Without doubt the greatest horror anthology of the past thirty years […].” – Cult of Monster

At right: Mick Garris shooting Nightmare Cinema‘s wrap-around segments in the Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena. (Photo: Michael Moriatis)

Yeah! You gotta love that last review. And the buzz is still building. For now, I’ll leave you with an interview recorded at our UK Premiere, in which I tell Grimmfest programmer Simeon Halligan a bit of the story behind the writing and development of “This Way to Egress.” Check it out, and stop back here soon for more festival news and perhaps some details about the upcoming release to theatres and home video. Until this, scop on!

UK Premiere:
Nightmare Cinema & “This Way to Egress”

October 7th, 2018

I first read Traumatic Descent – Larry Connolly’s short story that would be adapted into “This Way to Egress” 17 or 18 years ago.

Soon after I worked with my dear friend Charly Cantor on ideas to adapt the story into a feature-length film which Charly would write. I loved Charly like a brother and he passed away in 2002 leaving a gaping hole in me.

I would describe the story as a dark but benign fog that infiltrated my subconscious. It resonated for me in ways that took all of this time to become clear.

I’m grateful to Mick Garris and most of all to Larry for allowing me to complete part of this project. It does not fill any part of the hole but it helps.

David Slade, director of “This Way to Egress”

Saturday was the day it all came full circle, some 18-years after two young filmmakers from Sheffield reached out to this American writer to begin work on a project that became “This Way to Egress.”

In the Q&A session that followed our UK premiere, I got the chance to unpack the journey in more detail – first in responding to questions from festival director Simeon Halligan and then in conversations with the audience.

Along the way, I was able to able to acknowledge the debt that both David and I owe to Charly Cantor, so much so that I felt his presence. It was – as I predicted it would be in an earlier post – like coming home.

The day of our premiere also provided the opportunity to discuss Nightmare Cinema and “Egress” at length in a couple of recorded interviews – one with the website FilmDaddy.com and the other with Simeon Halligan (above left) for the festival’s video feed. Both should be available soon.

There was even some time for ice-breaking, where  I got the chance to throw axes at targets courtesy of an establishment called Whistled Punks. My friendly competitors in the event included Witch in the Window director Andy Mitton and festival director Rachel Richardson-Jones (right). That’s us, posing like ax-wielding superheroes even though it was Horror Channel director Stewart Bridle and Grimmfest photographer Kenneth James who proved to be the true ax-tossing masters.

Grimmfest continues apace, wrapping up tonight with an awards reception and the much-anticipated Christmas-themed-zombie-fest Anna and the Apocalypse. I’ve heard good things about that one.

Nightmare Cinema’s next festival appearances will include screenings in Stiges, Toronto, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Dublin,  Vienna, and beyond. It’s all part of what we might call the Nightmare Cinema World Tour … so there’s sure to be much more news in the days ahead. Be sure to check back soon. And don’t sleep. Nightmares are coming.

Images:

  • The projected backdrop for the Nightmare Cinema Q&A session at Grimmfest. The photograph is from the “Mashit” episode, directed by Ryuhei Kitamura and written by Sandra Becerril.
  • The 21st-Century Scop in a video interview with festival director Simeon Halligan.
  • Standing tall with fellow ax throwers Andy Mitton and Rachel Richardson-Jones at Whistle Punks.
  • Witch in the Window director Andy Mitton wields an ax.

 

This Way to Egress: More UK Connections

October 6th, 2018

A couple of posts ago, I touched on the UK connections of the Nightmare Cinema segment “This Way to Egress.” That post dealt with my collaboration with David Slade (left) and the late Charly Cantor — both from the Manchester area. In this post, I’d like to consider another UK connection.

Eight years ago, the collection This Way to Egress (Ash-Tree Press, 2010) was released at World Horror in Brighton. Featuring a cover illustration by Jason Zerrillo and a re-edited version of “Traumatic Descent” (retitled “This Way to To Egress”), the book launched along with four other Ash-Tree titles: Pieces Of Midnight by Gary McMahon, Tragic Life Stories by Steve Duffy, Walkers in the Dark by Paul Finch, and Lost Places by Simon Kurt Unsworth. The five-title book launch was organized by Ash-Tree’s Christopher Roden and proved to be one of the most successful book events I’ve taken part in. It drew quite a crowd, helped along by the presence of Barbara Roden, who was also on hand to sign copies of her collection Northwest Passage (Prime Books, 2009). Sales were brisk, and friendships were forged that have continued to this day.

The photo at right was taken in the ballroom of the Royal Albion on the night before the book launch and just a few minutes after the advance copies of Egress arrived. As I recall, there had been some concern about the cover, which had not reproduced well on the proofs. Fortunately, the actual printing looked spectacular, capturing the nuanced play of light and shadow of Jason’s art. That’s Jason to my right in the photo. To my left is Brian Showers of Ireland’s Swan River Press.

Look closely, and you will see a hand cheekily inserting another Ash-Tree Press edition into the picture. The hand and book belong to my good friend Simon Kurt Unsworth.

Fittingly, Simon and I managed a get together last night, stopping in at Wagamama’s to catch up on all that’s happened since our last get together at World Fantasy in Brighton, 2013. At the time, Simon was anticipating the release of his first novel, The Devil’s Detective, and we had the chance to talk about it and how it came about. You can listen to that interview here.

Since then, a second book in the series (The Devil’s Evidence) has been released. It’s a worthy follow-up to the first. Strongly recommended.

As I write this, I have just finished a couple of interviews with the local media here in Manchester, and I’m now looking forward to the UK premiere of Nightmare Cinema, which is set to take place in about an hour. I’m also looking forward to catching Andy Mitton’s film The Witch in the Window, which screens later in the evening. I hope to post about both screenings tomorrow.

Until then … scop on!

Grimmfest Film Festival: Day 1

October 4th, 2018

Manchester, England.

Grimmfest.

Day One.

This year’s festival kicks off with the screening of a remastered classic, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, which Entertainment Weekly has called “One of the greatest horror film of all time.”

Based loosely on H.P. Lovecraft’s Weird Tales novella “Herbert West–Reanimator,” the film helped launch the career of Barbara Crampton, this year’s Grimmfest guest of honor.

But Grimmfest isn’t just about the classics. Among the new films screening today are Await Further Instructions, which looks to be a dark blend of horror and science fiction worthy of The Outer Limits and Black Mirror. Here’s the setup:

“A dysfunctional family awakes on Christmas morning to discover they’re sealed inside their house by a mysterious black substance. On television, a single line of text reads: ‘Stay Indoors and Await Further Instructions.'”

Await Further Instructions had its world premiere at Chicago’s Cinepocalypse Film Festival last June and has been getting strong notice ever since. At Grimmfest, its screening will be followed by a Q&A session with director Johnny Kevorkian, screenwriter Gavin Williams, producer Jack Tarling, and star Grant Masters – all taking part in what will be the film’s UK premiere.

Naturally, the big event on my list this week is the UK premiere of Nightmare Cinema, scheduled for 4:15 PM Saturday at the Odeon Great Northern Theatre. I’ll be on hand to take part in a Q&A session immediately following the film.

I plan to post periodically throughout the festival, so be sure to stop back soon. I expect some exciting developments as I get into the thick of the festivities.

And speaking of exciting developments, I’m even now in the process of working with W. H. Horner Editorial and Design to revamp this website. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be cooking up some new banner and page designs to reflect some of the things that have come out since the release of the Veins Cycle books.

First up is a new 21st Century Scop banner (above).

As much as I liked how the previous banner (Scop with Stratocaster) provided a likeness of the contemporary minstrel-storyteller, I felt it was time for an image that better reflected the direction this blog has been going in recent months.

The new banner makes use of a Jason Zerrillo illustration for the story “The Death Lantern,” which appears in Voices: Tales of Horror (recently re-released in a second edition from Fantasist Enterprises). The banner features a man backlit by the glowing lens of a film projector, his face illuminated by the reflection of a movie screen. Since my recent posts here have dealt with film as well as story and song, the change seemed fitting. What do you think?