Vera Farmiga Cast as Millie Bobby Brown’s Mother in Godzilla: King of Monsters

The news surrounding the production of Godzilla: King of Monsters keeps getting better and better for horror fans. First, we learned that Michael Dougherty (the writer/director of Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus) would be co-writing (along with collaborator Zach Shields) and directing the project. Then we learned that Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown was cast in the film, hot off her tremendous success with the popular Netflix project. Today, The Hollywood Reporter, um, reports that Vera Farmiga will be playing Brown’s mother in the film!

Horror fans know Farmiga for her portrayal of famous real life ghost hunter Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring film series, and as Norma Louise Bates in the popular Bates Motel television series. Film buffs know Farmiga for her captivating performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Today’s news also reveals that Kyle Chandler will play husband to Farmiga and father to Brown in the film. Chandler is known for performances in Super 8 and The Wolf of Wall Street. This is shaping up to be one talented family!

Stay tuned to Horror News Network for more casting information for Godzilla: King of Monsters as it breaks.

Final Trailer Released for Kong: Skull Island

Warner Bros. Pictures has just released the final trailer for Kong: Skull Island. The lengthy clip, entitled “Rise of the King” dials back on some of the humor found in the previous trailer and ramps up the frequency and intensity of the giant monster battles that will be on display in the feature film. Check out the full trailer below:

While John C. Reilly provided all of the comic relief in the previous trailer, Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston step up to the plate and add to some of Reilly’s signature awkward humor in this clip. This final trailer proves that even though the film will have a light side to it, it will also be chock full of interesting monsters for Kong to battle.

Stay tuned to Horror News Network for more information on Kong: Skull Island, including a full review when the film hits theaters on March 10th.

Women in Horror Month: Interview with Erika Sanderson

February is Women in Horror Month! As part of the Horror News Network spotlight on women this month we have interviewed Erika Sanderson about her experience as a voice actor for the horror audio drama, “The NoSleep Podcast.” Erika joined the NoSleep team as a narrator and has been a very prolific contributor since then. If you have listened to the show, odds are good you have heard her voice as a child, a demon, a woman with any number of accents, or all of the above. This fantastic actress told us about her experience in the industry and offered some insights into voice acting in the world of horror.

Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Have you always been a fan of horror?

Erika Sanderson: Ah, this is my huge confession – I am rubbish with horror! If I’m watching a scary movie and a creepy bit comes on I have a habit of suddenly becoming engrossed in reading up the plot ahead on IMDb so as not to get too scared. Having suffered from sleep paralysis since I was a child, I’m not very good at adding more fodder for my nightmares.

Stephanie: What inspired you to become involved in a horror-fiction podcast?

Erika: It was really by accident. I was performing in a theatre show with another NoSleep cast member, David Ault, and mentioned how I wanted to get into voice work. He recommended me to David Cummings who cast me in an episode of The Drabblecast he was working on. Then I started to be offered scripts for NoSleep.

I love the challenge of the wide variety of characters the podcast offers each week and I absolutely relish playing the evil demonic creatures. Pouring all that maliciousness and venom into a few short lines and knowing that you have the ability to unnerve your audience is strangely satisfying. Sometimes I get a role where the character morphs through a single line of dialogue, usually from an innocent child to some monster. Those are an absolute joy to play with, vocally.

Stephanie: Podcasting as audio-drama, even though based on “old-time radio,” is a newer horror medium. Do you think the more contemporary establishment of the medium is affecting the opportunities for women?

Erika: NoSleep takes the majority of its stories from the Reddit of the same name. There a lot of women who are writing fantastic stories with strong female voices which in turn is creating more opportunities for actresses in audio drama. It’s been a great pleasure for me to perform tales by wonderful authors like Rona Vaselaar and Caitlin Spice.

Stephanie: How does your experience in podcasting compare to your experience in theatre?

Erika: They are very different disciplines drawing on the same tools. In theatre you (generally) have the luxury of a rehearsal process that allows you to explore the character and the relationships with your fellow actors under the guidance of a director. On a show like the NoSleep Podcast, the turnaround of scripts is very intense, usually 48-72 hours, and you are recording in isolation. There isn’t time to do several different versions of a character. While I do sometimes give alternative line readings, in a lot of ways you have to be an actor and director, making creative decisions not only about your own performance, but also filling the blanks in your head imagining how someone else (usually on the other side of the world) would play their part and respond. Our producers do an incredible job of editing and mixing us so it sounds as if we are acting together in one room.

Stephanie: What is your favorite medium for experiencing horror (comics, film, tv, audio, etc.)?

Erika: From behind a cushion! Probably tv series. During my teens I was a huge fan of The X Files (the early supernatural episodes) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also remember watching Twin Peaks and a fantastic, though short-lived, show called American Gothic. I’ve always enjoyed reading a good ghost story or something that sends chills down your spine like Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, and Susan Hill.

Stephanie: Any advice you would like to give to women entering horror?

Erika: Trust your instinct and creative force. Watch what those you admire do. Whatever medium you choose, writing, performance, make-up and effects, filmmaking – learn your craft and keep working at it.

Stephanie: Thank you for your time, Erika!

Headshot Photo Credit: Marcus Charter

About WiHM: Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre. Visit WomeninHorrorMonth.com for more information.

Ryan Murphy Provides More Details on American Horror Story “US Election” Season

The internet was aflutter last week when Ryan Murphy told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that next season of American Horror Story will focus on “the election that we just went through.” When asked if the season would feature a Donald Trump character, Murphy responded with, “Maybe.” 

Now, Indiewire reports that Murphy has since clarified his ideas for next season during a speech at the Publicists Guild Awards Luncheon in Beverly Hills:

“The themes of ‘American Horror Story’ have always been allegories,” he said, while accepting his award for Television Showmanship of the Year. “You will not see [Donald] Trump and [Hillary] Clinton as characters on the show.”

“Watch What Happens Live” is known for serving its guests plenty of booze, which Murphy blames for the slight misdirect. “They gave me three martinis in 20 minutes! That’s not good.”

Hopefully no one gives Mr. Murphy any martinis when he actually sits down to write the season!

Murphy supplied more details to The Hollywood Reporter. He stated that he is looking to explore the election from multiple points of view and “express all sides of that equation.” He further elaborated:

“What needs to happen in our country now is for people to listen to each other – we may not always agree with each other and we may be horrified by what the other side is doing but we have to move toward understanding. So that’s one example of what I’m going to do.”

These are impressive goals, and it will be interesting to see how they translate to the upcoming season. Stay tuned to Horror News Network for more information on the production of this season and other American Horror Story news as it breaks.

Rest in Peace: Aliens Actor Bill Paxton Dead at 61

Bill Paxton, the prolific and versatile actor of Aliens, Titanic, Tombstone, Twister, Predator 2, The Terminator, True Lies, and many other projects, has passed away due to complications related to a recent surgical procedure.

Born on May 17th, 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas, Bill Paxton rose to Hollywood stardom in the mid eighties after small roles in films like Stripes. He has the distinct credit of being the only actor to be killed by both a Predator and an Alien from the two hit Fox franchises. Paxton’s Private Hudson in Aliens is known to have some of the most quotable lines in all of the franchise, including the classic, “Game over, man. Game over!”

Beyond his famous genre roles, Paxton practiced his craft in other recent works, such as the television shows Big Love and Training Day. He remained a staple in major science fiction works right up until the end of his career, working on projects like Edge of Tomorrow and the Call of Duty video game series.

A family representative has issued the following statement to the press:

“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery. A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”

May Mr. Paxton remain in the thoughts and hearts of movie lovers all over the globe.

 

Get Out Dominates Oscar Weekend Box Office With First Place Finish

Get Out, the directorial debut by Jordan Peele, crushed the competition at the box office over the Oscar weekend, bringing in an estimated $30.9 million dollars.

For a film that started with a bit of skepticism from fans due to the director’s background in comedy, Get Out succeded on every level this weekend. Not only did it debut at number one, the film currently holds a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes with 134 positive reviews.  It also earned a A- Cinemascore from viewers of the film, which, accordind to deadline, is almost unheard of for a horror film, as horror films, “Typically (these movies) are lucky to earn a B or B+, and that’s considered awesome, but Get Out is in rare air alongside The Conjuring 1 and 2 which both received A- grades.”

Get Out also debuted on fewer screens (2,781) than recent horror films, with stiffer competition for show times due to a larger amount of high profile and popular films.  Earlier horror flms this season such as Split and The Bye Bye Man did not face this level of competition, which makes the success of Get Out even more significant.   Split was able to earn $40 million during its first weekend, and during its extended run at number one, it was surrounded by box office bombs such as xXx: The Return of Xander Cage and Rings.

In comparison, Get Out had to contend with The LEGO Batman Movie, John Wick Chapter 2, and Fifty Shades Darker which all continue to earn healthy returns at the box office.  Get Out also had to deal with a potentially smaller viewership due to its R-rating, which may have excluded the younger teen audiences that flocked to see the Pg-13 rated Split.

With a summer blockbuster level of competition this March (Logan, Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast, Ghost in the Shell), it will be interesting to see how Get Out fares in coming weeks and if it is able to come close to Split’s final box office total (which should end up north of $140 million).

Stay tuned for further coverage of Get Out’s box office fate and check out the Horror News Network Review here.

 

 

Jordan Peele’s Successful Horror Debut: Get Out Movie Review

Fans are often skeptical when their favorite artist attempts to experiment in a new genre.  Jordan Peele has always been known for comedy, specifically Comedy Central’s Key and Peele sketch comedy show.  The success of Key and Peele is primarily attributed to a brand of comedy that skewers social and cultural conventions (like all great sketch comedy does) and is willing to “cross the line” to make a joke and, more importantly, when it comes to satire, make a point. Although Peele’s directorial debut happens to come from the world of horror and not comedy, Get Out is an impressive and successful first film from the director, that is able to scare audiences while also delivering bitting social commentary about the perception of race in America.

It would have been very easy for Peele to create a horror film that dealt with overt racism.  It also would have been a very succesful and yet unoriginal debut. Instead of tackling the standard “red neck” horror tropes that would inevitably lead to torture, jump scares, and an easy lesson in the dehumanization that racism allows, Peele thankfully decided to be more adventerous and controversial.

Peele’s “monsters” in this horror film are not Deliverance-style back woods types that we are used to seeing on screen; they are instead well-dressed and manicured neo-liberals with a rather sinister agenda.  These are wealthy aristrocrats with not only an admiration for African-Americans, but a deep-seated envy and desire to become them, without giving up their own elitist ways.  The best example of this is the “cool dad” Dean Armitage (played by Cabin in the Woods Bradley Whitford).  Dean is the type of guy who enjoys “collecting” treasures from a wide range of exotic cultures (such as his candlesticks from Bali) and displaying them as a sign of worldliness.  What this type of “collecting” presents is just the opposite however in the form of the co-opting  of native cultures for personal ornamentaion and a shield against accusations of “White privilege”.  In essence. Mr. Ambrose is saying “I may be a wealthy White man but I am ‘down’ with indigenous people!”

The set-up for the film is very simple:  Rose Armitage (played by Allison Williams of HBO’s Girls) wants to bring her boyfriend Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya of Sicario) home to meet the parents.  What starts out as contemporary riff on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, quickly veers towards the paranoia-fueled stories of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Eyes Wide Shut (Peele’s admiration for Stanley Kubrick is clearly evident in the film from a subtle “hedge maze” reference that opens the movie, to more stylistic choices that are actually reminiscent of The Shining in terms of camera movement and the score).  

The paranoia and psychological terror is provided primarily by Catherine Keener’s Missy Armitage.  The mother of the Armitage clan is just as dangerous (if not more so) as her husband, but she approaches her quarry in a different fashion.  Instead of appealing to Chris’ trusting nature with out-dated slang and praise for former President Obama, Missy is the one who knows what’s best for Chris in terms of his “dirty” smoking habit.  Missy represents the other side of the neo-liberal coin: the politician who wants what’s best for you, whether you want it or not.  Whether it is regulating what size soda you can purchase at movie theater in New York City or what charter school you need to attend, she embodies all the worst characteristics of the evil mother figure and neo- liberal crusader.  Her expertise with hypnosis is the way that she enacts her change, mystifying her victims and making them truly believe that she wants what is best for them (hiding her ulterior motives of profit and exploitation).

Another aspect of Peele’s subtext does an excellent job of destroying the “White savoir” archetype which includes everyone from To Kill A Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch to The Help’s Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan.  In Get Out, the main character doesn’t need saving; he is ingenious and crafty enough to save himself in a world that is stacked against him (in a few memorable scenes at the end of the film, the protagonist is even able to turn some of the trappings of their high society enclosure against them).  The only help that Chris receives is from his best friend Rod (the very funny Milton “Lil Rel” Howery) who, like Chris, is the character who has (mostly) figured out the conspiracy, yet no one will believe him, even a room full of African-American police officers.

Viewers who don’t pick up on the subtext of  Get Out will probably still enjoy this film as it is an intelligent, witty, and original take on the “stranger in strange land” motif, but ticket buyers who don’t leave their “thinking caps” (which is a subtle reference to the only gory scene in the film) at the door will have a much richer experience than they can usually expect out of a contemporary horror film.

 

Adi Shankar Reveals Poster for Castlevania

The first poster for the upcoming Netflix series Castlevania made its debut yesterday on series producer, Adi Shankar’s Facebook page.

The series is written by English author, Warren Ellis, the man behind “The Authority,” “Transmetropolitan,” “Red,” and “Global Frequency.” He has also worked on several series for Marvel Comics have including “Astonishing X-Men,” “Moon Knight,” “Thunderbolts,” and “Iron Man.”

Developed by Konami, the Castlevania video game follows the Belmont family as they do battle with the evil Dracula and his monstrous minions. The game first premiered in Japan for the Family Computer Disk game console in 1986. The game was released in North America for the Nintendo Entertainment System just a year later.

Although not much is known about the series at this time, Shankar promised that the series will be “the western world’s first good video game adaptation.”

Castlevania is set to debut on Netflix in 2017. Keep it locked to Horror News Network for more news on the Castlevania series.

Barbeau, Others Officially Sign On to Jeepers Creepers 3

The long-awaited third movie in the Jeepers Creepers franchise appears to be close to production, with several familiar faces signing on to be a part of the film in recent days.  Cinema Runner is reporting that Gina Phillips, who starred in the original movie along with Justin Long, will reprise her role as “Trish Jenner” alongside the Creeper himself, Jonathan Breck.  However, horror fans may be more excited to hear that scary movie icon Adrienne Barbeau (Creepshow, The Fog) has also been added to the cast for the third installment, in a role that has not yet been announced.
After several false starts and unending rumors regarding a third film over the years, this news is the closest to a production confirmation as we have.  While no plot synopsis has been officially announced, there is speculation the that movie will follow Trish Jenner as she returns to the Creeper’s realm to save her son and avenge her brother.  Phillips and Barbeau will be joined by a very strong supporting cast, including Chester Rushing (Stranger Things), Brandon Smith (From Dusk Till Dawn) and Ryan Moore (Pitchfork).  Victor Salva will once again write and direct this film, as he did with both Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2.

It will be great to see Adrienne Barbeau back on the big screen in a horror film (it’s been too long!!), and finally wrapping up Salva’s Jeepers Creepers trilogy will be cool as well.  Jeepers Creepers 3 does not yet have an official release date, but is currently filming in Baton Rouge, LA with a chance to premiere before the end of 2017.

Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 1 “Dark Paradise” Review

With three sparkling 2017 People’s Choice Awards in hand(Favorite Cable TV Drama, Favorite Cable TV Actor (Freddie Highmore) and Favorite Cable TV Actress (Vera Farmiga) Bates Motel returned for its fifth season on February 20th. At the San Diego Comic-Con last July, the show’s panel “officially” announced that Season 5 will be the end. We have known this for a while, with executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin professing their 5-season vision all along. And according to Ehrin, “It’s going to be cathartic as shit. Bring your tissues.” (Yahoo!TV)

I usually steer clear of teasers; I prefer to don my blinders and chew my fingertips live. I’m making a semi-exception this time. Being that this is the final (sniff) season of one of my favorite shows, I’m treating the premiere as a farewell party and it’s helpful to know what kind of grab bag gift to bring. Some things we know about the next 10 weeks: the story picks up 18 months after Norma’s death, a woman named Marion Crane checks in (portrayed by Grammy Award-winner and series fan Rihanna); several episodes are written and directed by Freddie Highmore (“Norman”), Max Thieriot (“Dylan”) and Nestor Carbonell (“Romero”), and the reshoots of the classic A&E posters prove that a frosty, cerulean mother’s love has no boundaries.

The most important thing we know (and need to remember) is that the creators of the show have “pulled Psycho into Bates Motel, not vice-versa.” (Entertainment Weekly) At SDCC, Carlton Cuse told IGN, “We will be intersecting certain events in the ‘Psycho’ mythology but definitely doing our own versions of them.”

Norman’s relationship with Norma has significantly evolved in the 18 months since her death and it’s pretty simple: Norma is dead but Norma is alive. In his world, Norman has separated his mother into different dimensions– both the undead Norma and the undead Imaginary Norma. At times he appears to be in control of her, most notably in his rule that she must stay in the house – mentally and physically. Even though he visits (and embraces) Norma’s frozen cadaver locked in the basement, Norman genuinely fears that someone will see her peak out the curtains.

Norman also seems to manipulate how Norma will interfere to the point where she will only tell him what he expects to hear. Normally, I would call this predictable but because this dynamic is nearly two years in the making, it has a lucid dream quality to it. Norman becomes smitten with the new hardware store owner who wears blonde locks and flowered cotton frocks? Norma ridicules him for his pseudo-incestuous crush. Norman peeps into Room #1 from the motel office at the man and his female companion looking to book a room at an hourly rate? Norma rings the office forcing Norman to juggle the phone while zipping his fly.

Norma’s interference also serves multiple purposes, another layer of Norman’s psychological restraint. Norma insists that Norman skip a town meeting with the hardware store owner so that they can dump the latest murder victim instead. Prevent a murder to cover up a murder?? But it gets even better when we discover that Norman has killed in self-defense for presumably the first time. Norman “sees” his mother commit the murder, but soon learns that the corpse they’re about to toss into the lake was a hitman hired by the imprisoned Romero to take out Norman. Having been denied parole, Romero will have to try again from the inside which creates an enticing bridge between the two worlds.

Dylan and Emma have turned their escape from White Pine Bay into an endearing new start. A new baby, a new job, a beautiful home….a visit from Dad. I get that Dylan feels obligated to Caleb considering he got him the cash for Emma’s lung transplant. When Emma finds out, however, she’s grateful but doesn’t give a shit. Kudos to her for choosing her storybook life for as long as she can because as soon as Dylan finally learns that his mother is dead…well, I smell a road trip!

The season premiere, “Dark Paradise”, is aptly named as it continuously drifts from radiant normalcy to murky reality. When Norman is home with Norma, the house is filled with music, fresh flowers, sunshine, candlelight, aromatic delicacies, big-bowed aprons, knitting, etc. When Norman leaves, the viewer sees the shadowy disarray of his true surroundings – dirty dishes, unmade beds, piles of clothing on the floor. The oxymoron is also evident as we watch Caleb darken then lighten the doorstep of his son’s family.

“Dark Paradise” was a good opening; a solid start with a passage of time that felt smooth and seamless. Freddie Highmore’s delivery was mature and vulnerable – both in and out of control. Vera Farmiga was precisely what you would expect of someone who was alive, dead, real and imagined all at once. Subtleties with colors and props such as the powder blue pickup truck, the stack of shower curtains in the hall closet added a layer to the story. The teasers for the remainder of the season are intriguing and I am excited to see Chick Hogan. I just hope they don’t make me wait too long…