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Back to Chelsea…
for Nightmare Cinema’s US Premiere

November 29th, 2018

It’s the summer of 1977. I’m crashing at my brother Mark’s apartment at Hotel Chelsea, dreaming of following in the footsteps of other writers who used that iconic landmark as their home base in New York City. It’s the place where Arthur C. Clark worked on 2001: a Space Odyssey, where Alan Ginsburg revolutionized American poetry, and where Dylan Thomas drew his final breath. It’s also where Nancy Spungen (girlfriend of Sid Vicious) was found stabbed to death. But that was a little later. For me, in the summer of 1977, it was a great place to launch some writerly dreams.

(Above) Hotel Chelsea, back in the day. (Right) Brother Mark and the 21st Century Scop with significant others in front of the Aristocrat Deli, next door to Hotel Chelsea, 1977.

Then, as now, Hotel Chelsea is flanked by the Aristocrat Deli on one side and a theatre on the other. But although the deli is the same, the theatre has changed. Back then, it was a performance space called the Squat Theatre – an experimental venue frequented by the likes of Andy Warhol and Nico.

Today, Hotel Chelsea is cover in scaffolding, its distinctive red-and-white canopy (a newer version of the one shown above) hidden in a cavern of interlocking metal beams as the building undergoes a long-overdue renovation that began in 2016. Work is expected to continue into next year.

The Aristocrat Deli is much as before, but Squat Theatre is gone, replaced by the gleaming facade of Cineopopolis Chelsea, a massive movie theatre that later this evening will host the US premiere of Nightmare Cinema.

(Above) Hotel Chelsea under renovation. (Right) Squat Theatre at 256 West 23rd, as it looked shortly after its opening in 1977.

Today’s screening of Nightmare Cinema is part of the New York City Horror Film Festival, where I’ll soon be joining Producer-Director Mick Garris and Artistic Director Lauren Fitzsimmons for the opening-night event.

Also on hand will be filmmaker Nick Schwartz (who is currently developing an adaptation of my story “Prime Time!”). Nick will be joined by Dave Conte and Matt Braunsdorf. Their script The Blood Grinder is a finalist in the festival’s scrip competition. It should be an exciting night.

Cineopolis Chelsea, on the site formerly occupied by Squat Theatre. 

Nightmare Cinema screens this evening at 7:00 PM. This will be your chance to see it before its general release to theatres and streaming in early 2019. If you’re in town, I’ll hope to see you there.

Also on the bill tonight is “Inked,” a short film by director Kyra Gardner.

The program runs through the weekend.

I’ll post some updates soon. Until then … scop on!

Nightmare Cinema Bought for 2019 Release

November 10th, 2018

A couple of interesting links this week.

The first arrived a few days ago from G. Brandon Hill, Executive Director of Acquisitions and Distribution at Good Deed Entertainment. It’s a link to an exclusive piece in Variety that includes the long-awaited details about Nightmare Cinema’s release.

According to the article:

Cranked Up Films has partnered with AMC Network’s streaming platform Shudder to buy North American distribution rights to Cinelou Films’ Nightmare Cinema

Although not mentioned in the article, I have it on good authority that a release to physical media (DVD and Blu-Ray) is also in the cards. You can read the complete article here.

Also of interest is a post at the blog-site of World-Fantasy-Award nominee Michael Liebling, in which he considers how “Traumatic Descent” became Nightmare Cinema‘s “This Way to Egress.” You can read Michael’s account of the story’s dramatic ascent here.

And finally, I’ll leave you with a video in which Joe Dante talks about his contribution to Nightmare Cinema. The interview was shot last summer at Fantasia Fest, but the video was just posted this week. It presents an interesting overview of the anthology format and some insightful comments on the changing face of cinema.

 

Nightmare Cinema at Irish Film Institute

October 27th, 2018

Nightmare Cinema screened last night before a packed house at the Irish Film Institute. The event included a Q&A session with producer Mick Garris, who will also be screening his earlier hits Critters 2 and Sleepwalkers at the festival.

Next month, Nightmare Cinema returns to England for a screening in Leeds on November 9, then travels to Melbourne for an Australian premiere at Cinema Nova on November 23. After that, it returns north for two screening at The New York City Horror Film Festival on November 29.

Above: Mick Garris at IFI. Left: A full-house gathers in advance of Nightmare Cinema‘s Ireland premiere.

Clearly, Nightmare Cinema continues to be well received. Here’s a sampling of some of the latest reviews, many of which have singled out our “This Way to Egress” segment as one of the film’s standout episodes:

“This Way to Egress” [is] by far the slickest of the five in terms of production value. Shot in crisp black and white, as with his recent Black Mirror episode, Slade’s segment mines nightmarish, surreal imagery as a woman (Elizabeth Reaser) suffering depression finds herself in a bizarre form of purgatory. — “IFI Horrorthon 2018 – NIGHTMARE CINEMA,” Eric Hillis. The Movie Waffler.

A highlight is David Slade’s surreal black and white offering, “This Way to Egress” – a hideously realised Silent Hill-esque metaphor for mental health. Unshackled from the thematic limits of mainstream horror cinema, it is a treat for the seasoned horror fan. —  “Mayhem Film Festival 2018 – Nightmare Cinema,” Gemma Finch. Leftlion.

“This Way to Egress” combines the monochrome industrial landscapes of David Lynch with the body horror of David Cronenberg and Roman Polanski’s vision of mental illness — “Review Sitges 51 – Nightmare Cinema,” William Maga. Il Cineocchio.

It’s good to see the film connecting so well with its intended audience.

Above right: Figures conspire behind frosted glass on one of the nightmarish sets created by Lauren Fitzsimmons. 

Above left: Elizabeth Reaser in her riveting performance as Helen, desperate to find a way out of a deepening nightmare.

So when does the rest of the world get to share our nightmares? Soon. I have it on good authority that an announcement regarding the release is imminent. When that news breaks, I’ll be sure to report it here. For now, I’ll leave you with a new video interview recorded this week at IFI featuring Mick Garris on the dream that became Nightmare Cinema.

Here's Mr Mick Garris giving the lowdown on Nightmare Cinema. More to come with his interview from 20.20 this evening! https://ifi.ie/horrorthon-2018-nightmare-cinema/

Posted by Irish Film Institute (IFI) on Friday, October 26, 2018

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.