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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.

 

Nightmare Cinema: Fall Festivals & Events

September 16th, 2018

These are busy times for the Nightmare Cinema team.

This weekend, Mick Garris (the film’s producer and writer/director of “Dead”) and Sandra Becerril (writer of the Ryûhei Kitamura directed “Mashit”) are in Strasbourg for the film’s French premiere at FEFFS — Le Festival européen du film fantastique. The premiere will take place at a special midnight screening on Monday, September 17, with additional screenings scheduled for September 18 and 23.

Since its launch in 2008, FEFFS has become one of Europe’s most comprehensive genre events, with a focus on international fantastic films as well as thrillers, film noir, black comedies, and even video games and virtual-reality cinema.

This year, the FEFFS Guest of Honor will be John Landis, director of Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, and Into the Night (the film that made stars of Jeff Goldblum and Michele Feiffer).

While Mick Garris and Sandra Becerril are hosting the EU premiere at FEFFS, David Slade (“This  Way to Egress”) and  Ryûhei Kitamura (“Mashit”) will be in London and Japan respectively, with David working on the upcoming season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and Ryûhei hosting the Japanese premiere of his thriller Downrange, which has been receiving strong notice since its L.A. premiere last spring. And there’s more, as some of the film’s actors and producers will be hosting a panel at Son of Monsterpalooza in Burbank.

Next month brings more premieres, with Nightmare Cinema screening in Spain and England before returning to Canada (where it had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in July).

First up will be a UK premiere at Grimmfest in Manchester (October 4-7), where I’ve been invited to take part in a question-and-answer session following the film’s screening at the Odeon Theatre on October 6. There’s a chance that an additional guest could be joining me on stage to help celebrate the connection that “This Way to Egress” has to the Manchester-Sheffield area. More information coming soon, as I plan to blog about that connection soon and speak about it at the screening.  Please stand by!

Beginning the same week as Grimmfest, the Stiges Film Festival (October 5-14) — regarded by many as the world’s foremost film festival specializing in fantasy, horror and science fiction — will host Nightmare Cinema‘s Spanish premiere on Thursday, October 13.

Other Stiges highlights will include the Festival’s Grand Honorary Award (going to M. Night Shyamalan) and a special screening of the new 4k restoration of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Running concurrently with Stiges, the 13th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival (October 11-19) will mark Nightmare Cinema’s return to Canada, where the film had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 12.

It’s busy line-up indeed, and one that will enable more viewers to discover what capacity crowds in Montreal and Mexico City have already seen firsthand.

The Nightmare Cinema project has come a long way since producers, writers, and directors gathered at Xiomara on Melrose in December 2016 to celebrate the green-lighting of the film. And the excitement’s still just beginning.

Stop back soon for more updates … and for a special Grimmfest preview in which we’ll consider how the UK screening will be a homecoming of sorts for “This Way to Egress.”

Until then … scop on!

Images:

  • Above: Promotional graphics from Festival européen du film fantastique, the Japanese premiere of Ryûhei Kitamura’s Downrange, Grimmfest Film Festival, The Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, and the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
  • At right: Nightmare Cinema directors and writers gather at Xiomara on Melrose Avenue, L.A, on December 8, 2016. Pictured from left to right, front to back, are Alejandro Brugués, Ryûhei Kitamura, R.C. Matheson’s hands. Sandra Becerril, Lawrence Connolly, Mick Garris, Joe Dante.

Nightmare Cinema Premieres at Fantasia

July 13th, 2018

An enthusiastic crowd gathered well in advance of Nightmare Cinema’s premiere. By 9:00 last night, the line already stretched around the block, assuring a full house for a project that producer-director Mick Garris began dreaming up over a decade ago.

Shortly before 10:00, Festival Programmer Tony Timpone took the stage to introduce directors Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugues, Ryuhei Kitamura, and Joe Dante. (David Slade is in the UK working on the upcoming season of Black Mirror.)

Before the film, Joe Dante was honored with the Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a presentation that included a montage of scenes from Joe’s five decades of filmmaking.

After Joe’s acceptance, the lights dimmed, and the 800 seat auditorium filled with animal sounds – mostly mewing – as it the audience members had suddenly transformed into cats. The mewing is a Festival tradition, and I must admit it’s pretty cool.

Then came Nightmare Cinema, the result of a collaborative effort of many producers, directors, writers, actors, and technicians (that’s 13 of us on the red carpet on the left).

I won’t review the film here. I’m too heavily invested in the project to be objective.

Instead, I encourage you to take a look at some of the reviews that have followed in the wake of last night’s premiere.

Here are some highlights:

  • “How Nightmare Cinema comes together is proof of exceptional teamwork and extraordinary planning. Each director brought their experience to the table to create something epic. As with any nightmare, this movie will have you thinking about it right after you watch it.” Read the entire review at Dread Central.
  • “This Way to Egress was truly nightmarish and weird, and of a completely different kind of horror than anything up to this point. This one leaves you unsettled….” Read the entire review at Nerdist.
  • This Way to Egress is perhaps the film’s most psychologically disturbing. It follows a mother of two who is hallucinating — or is she? — that the people she meets are transforming into monsters.” Read the entire review at Entertainment Weekly.

That’s just a sampling. Check them out if you like, and while you do, I’ll be putting together some reflections on how the Nightmare Cinema segment “This Way to Egress compares to the original story “Traumatic Descent.”

Stop back here tomorrow for more updates from the Festival. We’ll save you a place.

Images:

The standing ovation for Joe Dante’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Joe Dante.

Alejandro Brugues, Mick Garris, Ryuhei Kitamura, and Joe Dante outside the Auditorium des Diplomes de la SGWU. Photo by the 21st-Century Scop. 

Thirteen members of the Nightmare Cinema team on the red carpet following the premiere. Fantasia Film Festival.

Lunch before the premiere (clockwise from lower left) Alejandro Brugues, Kyle Newmaster, Ryuhei Kitamura, Lawrence Connolly, Stephanie Caleb, Mick Garris, Sandra Becerril, Joe Russo, Joe Dante, and G. Brandon Hill. Photo by Sergio Becerril.