Horror Director Talks about His First Movie

Horror Director Talks about His First Movie

by Jason Harris


Writer and director Eric England talks about Madison County, his first horror movie; his first movie ever.

England said that this is his version of “a backwoods slasher movie.”

“I wanted to do something that was faithful to all the films that had come before it, but also tries to stand on its own two feet.”

He drew inspiration from several different places, including things that had happened to him and from the local legends he was aware of in Arkansas, where he filmed Madison County.

The idea for England’s movie came to him when he was 14, he said. He wrote the script back in 2009 and the movie was released last year.

“The idea for Madison County had been sitting in my brain for years before I ever sat down to put it on paper.”

He is planning a follow-up to his $75,000 first movie, and this time he will give audiences more of prolific serial killer Damien Ewell’s history.

“I always planned for Madison County to be part of a much bigger picture. I don’t want to beat people over the head with exposition, but I’ll definitely hint at information about his origins,” England said about his movie.

His serial killer is not a supernatural being under that mask, he said.

“He’s 100 percent a human being. If you cut him, he bleeds. If you hit him with a shovel, he goes down. Under the pig head, he’s just a man.”

It took him under two years from the written word to filming. He had gone through almost 10 different producers and teams of producers before the finished product came to be.

“A lot of promises were made and never made good on, so I eventually went off and made a little experimental movie called Hostile Encounter in November of 2009.”

His experimental short inspired producer Daniel Dunn to find financing for film to make “a bigger film which was ultimately Madison County.”

There are many movies that have inspired England.

“My favorite movie of all time is Scream. I like a lot of really weird movies. Everything from The Sound of Music to Last House on the Left to American Pie. It’s hard to pinpoint where my brain gets inspiration from.”

Along with favorite movies, he has some favorite directors that include Alfred Hitchcock, Wes Craven, Quentin Tarantino, and David Fincher. He also likes Tim Burton’s older stuff.

He is currently working on a few projects, the Hitchcockian thriller Roadside and a psychological-horror-sex-thriller called Contracted. He also attached to direct a studio film, which he couldn’t talk about.

“I’m kind of a workaholic.”

Editor’s Note:
This article also appears on the DVD Snapshot website. Click here to check out other interviews, dvd reviews, and contests.

‘Savages’ is Intense and Entertaining

‘Savages’ is Intense and Entertaining

by Jason Harris

Three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone is back with a new thriller, Savages, which is reminiscent of one of his previous hits, Natural Born Killers.

Savages starts off with a voiceover by Blake Lively (Green Lantern), who portrays Ophelia, but has shorten it to “O” for a number of reasons. She states that she may or may not be alive by the end of her story, which was is a device used in American Beauty (1999). Except in that movie, the character of Lester tells the audience he’s already died.

O introduces Chon and Ben who are in the drug business. Ben, portrayed by Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass), is the brains behind their superior marijuana and Chon portrayed by Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is the muscle that deals with problems that arise. Since he is an ex-Navy Seal and ex-mercenary, this makes him well equip to deal with these problems that make-up about one percent of their business. The other 99 percent is violence-free.

Savages

Chon, O and Ben live an idyllic life in Laguna Beach in a scene from Savages. Picture courtesy of Universal Pictures.

O, Chon and Ben make-up a post-modern family except in this family O is the girlfriend for both men. O states the men together make-up the perfect guy. The men have no problems sharing her. There is great chemistry between these three actors, which keeps you hoping that they are all alive at the end of the movie.

Their lives become endangered when their operation comes to the attention of the Mexican Baja Cartel, headed by the ruthless Elena “La Reina” portrayed by Salma Hayek (From Dusk Till Dawn). The cartel wants to form a partnership with Ben and Chon, who decline her invitation. This causes O to be kidnapped by Elena’s enforcer, Lado portrayed by Benicio Del Toro (Traffic), who brings a menacing demeanor and look to his role. Earlier in the movie, Lado is shown dealing harshly with a cartel lawyer whose client went to prison. By knowing how lethal Lado is, it puts O in a more precarious situation when she is his prisoner.

There were moments where Stone seems to have been inspired by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Vol. 1). Those inspired elements are the picture going from color to black and white a few times and his choice of music. One piece of music, “Psycho Killer” by Bruce Lash played after a scene where Lado talked to Elena about killing Chon and Ben. Del Toro has the look of a killer and is only slightly held in check by his boss. Stone made an excellent choice in music for this scene, which is a talent Tarantino has.

The movie is based on Don Winslow’s best-selling crime novel of the same name that was one of The New York Times’ Top 10 Books of 2010. Recently, Winslow released The Kings of Cool: A Prequel to Savages, which is available in paperback on Amazon for $16.50.

Stone fills Savages with intense and funny moments along with a few action scenes. All together the movie is an entertaining thrill ride.

‘Breaking Dawn’ Actress Talks Twilight

‘Breaking Dawn’ Actress Talks Twilight

by Jason Harris

Julia Jones at the Liberty Hotel (Photo by Jason Harris)

Actress Julia Jones has dabbled in television, movies, and plays, and this week she was in her home state of Massachusetts promoting the DVD release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (2011).

Jones, 31, spent Thursday at the Liberty Hotel in Boston talking about the series. The latest chapter debuts on DVD this Saturday, Feb. 10. Jones portrays Leah Clearwater, who first appears in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), the third movie in the popular series.

When Jones got the initial phone call to audition for the movie, she never thought about not doing the movie. She considers the series a “cultural phenomenon.”

Her friend, who is a huge Twilight fan, thought she would be perfect for the character of Leah Clearwater and this helped her with the “daunting” task of bringing the character to the big screen, Jones said.

“When you are playing a character based on a book, let alone a widely popular book, you are playing a character that belongs to the world.”

Jones was aware of the “Twihards,” who are die hard fans of Twilight, when filming the movies.

“One of the most unique parts of the experience is just being part of something that so many people feel so passionate about, and that’s an energy you take with you. It’s pretty powerful.”

The Twilight fans’ excitement “is palpable,” Jones said. “There is no way to know what you’re getting into because it’s such a unique thing.”

Jones recounted some fan stories. Recently, she started tweeting and a fan sent a picture of her daughter dressed up as Jones’ character.

“She was so cute,” Jones said about the fan’s daughter.

The craziest costume she has seen was a fan who dressed up in a nightgown and had bruises and feathers all over her. The fan was dressed as the ‘Morning After’ Bella from Breaking Dawn, Part 1.

Jones has been on the television series ER, and has an upcoming appearance on the series In Plain Sight.

“I got to do stunts and work with guns,” Jones said about her In Plain Sight experience. “It was really fun.”

ER was executive produced by John Wells and Jones would love to be on his new show, Southland.

“It would be so exciting to do anything that he’s involved with,” Jones said about Wells.

Jones said there are a lot of good shows on cable like The Killing and An American Horror Story, which are two series she would like to act on, she said.

Along with being on the silver and small screens, she has also performed on the stage. Jones likes “dabbling” in film, television, and the theatre, and it is one of her favorite parts, she said. She considers these separate venues like “having different jobs.”

“I think part of the reason I’m an actor because I couldn’t see myself going to a desk every day and doing the same sort of thing.”

Jones would love to work with actresses Jessica Lange (The Vow) and Marion Cotillard (Inception, Contagion) and directors Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Terrance Malick (The Thin Red Line), and Nick Cassavetes (John Q).

She met with Malick a few times when she was auditioning for a role in The New World and thinks “he’s magical” and considers Cassavetes an “actor’s director.”

Jones was “impressed to death” with Tarantino when she was working on Larry Bishop’s Hell Ride, for which Tarantino was the executive producer.

“I would do anything to work with him as a director,” Jones said about Tarantino. “Hell Ride was a trip.”

She considers her time in the three Twilight movies a “rewarding” experience.

“It’s kind of lucky in a way to be a supporting character in the franchise.”

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 comes out in theaters in November.

Nick Cato’s Book Review

Nick Cato’s book review of
Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers Du Cinemart Collection by Mike White
(2010 Bear Manor Media / 377 pages / trade paperback) from Cinema Knife Fight (www.cinemaknifefight.com)

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From 1994-2008, Cashiers Du Cinemart was a fanzine featuring wildly opinionated movie reviews and retrospects, as well as interviews, with everyone from Crispin Glover to cast members of seldom-seen 70s blaxploitation films. Impossibly Funky collects some of the fanzine’s finest moments, and features introductions from exploitation film guru Herschell Gordon Lewis to the founder of Film Threat, Chris Gore.

Author Mike White is perhaps best known for calling Quentin Tarantino out for certain “similarities” between the 1989 Hong Kong movie, City on Fire, and his own film, Reservoir Dogs. White even made a short feature, Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?, which shows (side-by-side) shots from both films, calling Tarantino’s motives into question. The opening chapters of the book deal with this whole saga, and while I had seen White’s film online, there’s plenty more here for those interested in this on-going celluloid grapple.

Among my favorite sections were Mike Thompson’s look at the original script for the Nicolas Cage film 8mm, Mike White’s section on Alien 3, White’s interview with Canadian cult film director Guy Maddin, and of course, the huge section dedicated to the 1975 blaxploitation classic, Black Shampoo, which features an overview of the cast, interviews with the director and a few stars, and an interesting story on how Mike and his friends became addicted to it (and still hold annual viewings).

While I haven’t mentioned even half of what’s on display here (Star Wars fans will get a kick out of the small section dedicated to it), Impossibly Funky looks at films through the eyes of super-geek film fans, and while (at times) things get a bit obsessive (I mean, what film geek doesn’t get obsessive when talking films?), film fans will not be bored, even if a topic being discussed isn’t of particular interest.

A fun. informative, and smart book to garnish any film freaks’ book shelf.

© Copyright 2011 by Nick Cato