Archive for the Jason Harris Interviews Category

Jason Harris’s TOP 10 FILMS OF 2010

Posted in 2011, Best Of Lists, Jason Harris Interviews on January 12, 2011 by knifefighter

(My list isn’t in any particular order. These were movies I loved in 2010. ~Jason Harris)

  1. Toy Story 3
  2. The Expendables
  3. Inception
  4. Piranha 3D
  5. The Book of Eli
  6. Frozen
  7. Hot Tub Time Machine
  8. Iron Man 2
  9. Machete
  10. Faster

(Jason Harris writes interviews for CinemaKnifeFight.com)



December’s MONSTROUS QUESTION – Answer # 3

Posted in 2010, Jason Harris Interviews, Monstrous Question of the Month, Nightmares with tags , , , , on December 10, 2010 by knifefighter

THE MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – DECEMBER 2010
(This month’s question comes courtesy of Dan Keohane)

DECEMBER QUESTION:

Has any horror film actually given you nightmares?  Name the movie, and if you remember any of the dream, describe the nightmare.

Which is scarier, the film or the dream?

ANSWER # 3 – JASON HARRIS:

I have never seen a horror movie that has truly frightened me.

I have seen THE EXORCIST (1973), CHILD’S PLAY (1988) and many more. Nothing has scared me. I have always wanted to see something that would have me waking up in the middle of the night screaming and drenched in a cold sweat.

I did have a dream about THE BLOB after reading a review of the 1988 remake back when it was in the theater. In the dream, I am upstairs in the back bedroom of the house. The blob is outside the house below the window. It slowly extends itself. It looks like it has eaten a number of people, but they are only covered by the ooze and not being dissolved by it. It slowly becomes level with the window and starts looking in. At this point, I am cowering underneath the window. That is all I remember from the dream.

The other scary dream I had when I was younger was when I was stung by a wasp before going to bed. I dreamed about bees the whole night. It’s not fun dreaming about bees attacking people and myself throughout the night. The lesson I learned from this experience is never to air out a sleeping bag, then help your dad put it away.  I’ve seen THE SWARM (1978), and that didn’t cause me any bad dreams.

~Jason Harris

—END—

Interview with: KEALAN PATRICK BURKE

Posted in 2010, Jason Harris Interviews with tags , , , , on July 9, 2010 by knifefighter

INTERVIEW WITH: KEALAN PATRICK BURKE
by Jason Harris



Kealan Patrick Burke has gone from writing horror to acting in a horror movie.

Burke is starring in SLIME CITY MASSACRE (2010), which was written and directed by Greg Lamberson. SCM is the sequel to SLIME CITY (1988). As horror writers, Burke and Lamberson move in the same circles, Burke said.

Lamberson offered Burke a role in SCM after reading one of his Live Journal posts about his theater work in Ireland, Burke said. “This caught Greg’s attention and he asked if I be interested in reading a script for a movie he was developing.”

Lamberson was willing to offer Burke the role of Cory if he liked the script, Burke said. He loved the script, but the movie never got started. Lamberson got back in touch with Burke a year or so later about SCM. He was once again interested, but had reservations after the first experience. “I accepted the part of Cory half-expecting the project to stall. Much to my delight, and a fair share of nervousness, it didn’t,” Burke said.

He had an incredible experience on SCM even though he thought the production was going to be “home movie quality” if he was cast as the male lead. He was astonished to see top of the line equipment and hundreds of extras.

“I showed up on the first day to a full-blown movie set,” Burke recalled. “Everything from that first day suggested relentless professionalism, and this extends from Greg to the other actors and crew, right down to the extras.”

Burke had some tough scenes to shoot. Some of these scenes had him and Jennifer Bihl, the film’s female lead, covered in cold slime for a number of days. “It was not pleasant, but all that mattered was getting the shots, which we did,” Burke said. “But any discomfort was … made up for by the end result, the overall experience, and the good friends I made along the way.”

Even with the tough shoot, Burke would do it all again. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. After all, I’m a writer by trade, not an actor, but among the ambitions I’ve had all my life was to be a monster and to die in a horror movie. I won’t tell you if I achieved both – you’ll have to see the movie to find out.”

Burke doesn’t have any other acting roles on the horizon.  “I didn’t accept the part in SCM with any expectations of fame or a movie career,” Burke said. “It just seemed like fun, an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, if at all, and a great experience to cross off my bucket list. I don’t expect movie offers to come rolling in, though if they did and I found something I liked, I’d have no qualms about doing another film.”

Before acting for the silver screen, Burke got a dose of a movie production when one of his short stories was the basis for the short film. PEEKERS (2008). This came about through an Internet relationship with “low-budget filmmaker” Mark Steensland. They met while visiting the Internet message board, Shocklines. Burke described Shocklines as “made up of authors, editors, publishers, filmmakers, fans, and a host of other folks, all united by their love of horror.” Steensland approached Burke about turning one of his stories into a short film after reading good reviews about some of Burke’s stories. “I sent him a few of what I considered to be the most filmable, particularly on a shoestring budget, and he chose PEEKERS.”   Horror author Rick Hautala wrote the script for PEEKERS.

Burke is focusing more on writing screenplays and short film scripts.  He wrote a short teleplay “Snowmen” which appears in Richard Chizmar’s SMOKE AND MIRRORS collection which features screenplays and teleplays by Frank Darabont, Neil Gaiman, William Peter Blatty, Joe Hill, Stewart O Nan, Brian Keene, Poppy Z. Brite, Joe R. Lansdale and Mick Garris. “Currently, I’m working on a short called ‘Where the Sun Hides’ for a filmmaker in Los Angeles.”

Burke would like to see all of his stories filmed. “It’s always great to see a filmmaker’s interpretation of your work.”  He would also like to see the deeper psychological stories like “Cobwebs,” “Empathy” and “Underneath” filmed. The latter was optioned by the production company run by Ehren Kruger, who wrote SCREAM 3 (2000) and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009), but nothing came of it, Burke said.

Growing up, he was inspired by Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft, to name a few. “I’ve discovered quite a few authors and filmmakers over the past decade whose work I enjoy immensely, like Glen Hirshberg, Sarah Langan, Michael Marshall Smith, John Connolly, David Fincher, Bryan Singer, Christopher Nolan, The Coen brothers. Again, the list is enormous …”

He does have a few books and stories coming out this year. “On the novel front, KIN, my longest book to date, should see the light this year. It’s a heartbreakingly beautiful story about misunderstood psychopathic cannibals.  The next few months should see “Cobwebs,” which originally appeared in Pete Crowther’s wonderful POSTSCRIPTS magazine (#11, Summer 2007), reprinted in the next SHIVERS anthology, from Cemetery Dance; a new story “Deadlocked“, in SHROUD magazine; a reprint of my story “The Man Who Breaks the Bad News” in James Roy Daley’s BEST NEW ZOMBIE TALES: VOLUME 1; a segment in Cemetery Dance’s round- robin book THE CRANE HOUSE: A HALLOWEEN STORY; ..on the non-fiction front, I wrote the feature review for the Bentley Little special issue of Cemetery Dance magazine (issue #64); and the short teleplay, ‘Snowmen.’”

© Copyright 2010 by Jason Harris

GEORGE ROMERO SPILLS HIS GUTS

Posted in 2010, Interviews, Jason Harris Interviews, Zombie Movies with tags , , , , on June 2, 2010 by knifefighter

Director George Romero Spills His Guts
by Jason Harris

George A. Romero with Jason Harris

George A. Romero is back with his sixth zombie movie, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (2010).

His latest movie takes place on an island off the coast of Delaware, where the residents are fighting zombies and hoping to find a cure for the undead epidemic along with having a conflict between two feuding clans, the Muldoons and the O’Flynns. Romero made his characters Irish because of the subject matter, he said. “If you do a movie about feudalism or feuds, that kind of long standing conflict, Ireland comes to mind,” Romero said. “I thought it make more sense than to have an Arab and a Jew.”

Romero had Kenneth Welsh in mind for the role of Patrick O’Flynn right from the moment he starting writing the script, he admitted. “I had the actors in mind. I just knew they be great doing these roles.”

Romero didn’t have any trouble getting the actors to sign onto the movie, even though he didn’t think he would get Welsh. Welsh is in demand at the moment, he said. “[Welsh] is starting to chill and do a little more theater,” Romero recalled. “[Welsh] liked the script a lot. He was really gracious.”

The movie took 25 days to shoot, which was three days over the schedule, Romero said. The extra days came about because of “lousy weather.”

This movie continues Romero’s trend of killing zombies in interesting and unusual ways. In the new movie, the characters use a fire extinguisher and a flare gun to dispatch the undead. “I get so tired of the head shots,” he laughed, referring to the way most zombies are killed in his movies.

Romero said that he has a “little resentment” about how “big and popular” zombies have become. In his movies, he hardly ever calls the creatures “zombies.”

“I always look for something else to call them instead of zombies,” Romero said. “It just sounds so ordinary.”

In LAND OF THE DEAD (2005), he called them “stenches,” “walkers” and “extensions.”  In the current movie, he calls them “deadheads,” clearly not worried about offending any of the late Jerry Garcia’s fans.

Romero doesn’t think people would call them “zombies” if the situations in his movies were happening in the real world, he reflected. “Would they think of them as zombies? It’s one of those things that goes through your head.”

Romero uses a lot of special effects in his movies. He uses computer and mechanical effects, he said. “You can’t screw around with an effect if it doesn’t work.” This includes work with “squibs and head shots.”

Romero didn’t care for THE CRAZIES (2010), a remake of one of Romero’s early works.  The new version was directed by Breck Eisner, and while Romero didn’t like the final product, he doesn’t fault the director. “It certainly isn’t the movie I would have made. I think Breck did a good job with it,” he added.  Romero was the producer on the remake and thought he would have been involved with it more than he was. “A lot of the shocks were just cheap, surprise gags. It’s more like 28 DAYS LATER (2000).”

In his original, Romero’s message was that you couldn’t tell who was crazy from the guys at the Pentagon to the soldiers or the people next door, he said. The remake only touched on this theme with the inner circle and the deputy, he mentioned. If a character has corpuscles on their faces and red glowing eyes, you know who’s crazy, he scowled, referring to the remake.

Romero would love to do a straight up comedy. His idea is basically to change up the Warner Bros. coyote and the road runner with one human and one zombie. “It would be one gag after another,” he speculated.  “I haven’t been able to sell it.”

After DIARY OF THE DEAD, he got the idea of following the minor characters from the movie and seeing what directions they would go. He likens it to the fictional town of Castle Rock in horror novelist Stephen King’s stories. “If you read all the books, you know everything about this town.”  Romero would love to do more movies about the minor characters from his previous movies, but it will never happen since different people own them. “I can’t get any cooperation to reuse characters or anything.”

The first characters he chose to follow with his current movie are the soldiers from DIARY OF THE DEAD. He would like to do something with “the looters and the blond that escapes in the end of DIARY,” he said. With these current movies, he wants to show a collage of what is happening in the world.

No matter what Romero does in the future, he wants to have creative control over it. This is something he hasn’t had since NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), but he regained with DIARY.  “I was scared to death to work with Universal,” he admitted. “I was warned off them, but they were great. I made two films for Orion [Pictures]. It was a hideous experience. It was just awful because of people telling me what to do.”

Romero’s doesn’t have any other movie-making plans after this movie. It all depends on the box office receipts. “This movie wouldn’t exist if DIARY OF THE DEAD (2007) hadn’t made money. It wound up making a lot of money for the producers. That is why [SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD] exists and why it happened so quickly.”

© Copyright 2010 by Jason Harris

Interview with: FILMMAKER MARK STEENSLAND

Posted in 2010, Jason Harris Interviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by knifefighter

INTERVIEW WITH MARK STEENSLAND
by Jason Harris

Writer and Director Mark Steensland has been making movies since his directorial debut in 1997, the crime drama THE LAST WAY OUT. Since then, he has directed a documentary (THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PHILIP K. DICK (2001)) and a bunch of short films.

Steensland’s first short film was SUCKER (2006). This film is not based on a short story like his other short films. “I had the idea of wanting to lead an audience down one path and have it be not what they thought,” he said about SUCKER. “There are a few things that make us uncomfortable, like a pedophile. I wanted to make the audience uncomfortable with telling that story.”

The idea for SUCKER came to Steensland with an image of a guy hitting a girl with a hammer and her saying “Why did you do that?” “If I made it like the [little] girl was abducting the guy, [the ending] wouldn’t have been a surprise,” he said.

After SUCKER, his next short films were written by author Rick Hautala, whom he met at one of the Rod Serling conferences that Serling held at Ithaca College in upstate New York near the end of his life. “[Rick and I] went to all the different sessions together,” Steensland said.  It was there they discovered that “We have a lot of similar tastes.”

Steensland showed Hautala SUCKER at this conference. He liked it and suggested “We should do something together,” Steensland recalled.

His second short film, LOVERCRAFT’S PILLOW (2006), was inspired by horror author Stephen King, and written by Hautala. King wrote an introduction to a book about H.P Lovecraft, “H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life.” In this introduction, King talks about the 1980 World Horror Convention in Providence, Rhode Island, Steensland said. As King walked around Providence, he ended up looking into a pawn shop window and getting an idea. King wrote it down and toyed with it. King realized he couldn’t do it justice so he urged in his introduction that every writer to take his idea as a jumping-off point and write the story. Hautala did just that, and Steensland filmed it.

Steensland and Hautala’s second project together was DEAD@17 (2007). It is based on a graphic novel by Josh Howard. They were hoping the short film would help them get a theatrical deal. “We optioned the rights to the whole series and found out the film rights weren’t available.”

They learned from their DEAD@17 experience.  They decided to make sure to get the rights to a property before going forward on something. “We made it known on [the] Shocklines [message board] that we were interested in getting the rights [of a property] for a small amount of money,” Steensland recalled of their next step.

Horror writer and actor Kealan Patrick Burke (SLIME CITY MASSACRE (2010)) saw the Shocklines posting and sent them a couple of stories. Steensland liked the stories, but, “They were beyond our scope,” he remembered. Then Burke sent them the story “Peekers,” which Steensland thought was “perfect” for them to do with their resources.

Burke loves the movie, which debuted in 2008, Steensland said. “[PEEKERS] did well at festivals.”

The last short film Steensland has done was THE UGLY FILE (2009) which is based on an Ed Gorman story. There were a few changes he made to Gorman’s story. “Ed’s story doesn’t have the whole end sequence,” Steensland said “It doesn’t have the wall of photos. That’s my invention.”

Steensland and Hautala are now working on PIGEONS FROM HELL based on a short story by Robert E. Howard, the author who created Conan, the Barbarian. “It’s my favorite short story,” Steensland said. “It is the scariest thing I have ever read.” He has always wanted to film this Howard story. It took a long time to find out who owned the rights to the story. His plan is to make it into a feature-length film, with a release date in 2012.

Steensland’s short films can be found on his website: www.marksteensland.com.

© Copyright 2010 by Jason Harris

INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR GREG LAMBERSON

Posted in Jason Harris Interviews with tags , , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by knifefighter

INTERVIEW WITH GREG LAMBERSON
by Jason Harris


Greg Lamberson is bringing back the slime!

Back in 1988, Lamberson brought audiences SLIME CITY. This year he brings everyone SLIME CITY MASSACRE.

“[After] I made my first three films [and] moved to Buffalo, [New York], I wasn’t going to pursue film anymore,” Lamberson admitted. He was going to pursue novel writing, but “the film bug never left me.”

When asked why make a sequel 20 years after the original? “It made sense for me to make a sequel because of the fan base and to expand the mythology,” Lamberson said.

In SLIME CITY, when the characters of Lizzie and Alex talk about the back story of Zachary, Lamberson made it up on the spot, he said.

Lamberson got into directing because of his love of the films of George Romero, who directed and wrote NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD,(1968) and Jack Arnold, who directed the original CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954).

SCM was shot in an abandoned train station which Lamberson found when he was asked to direct PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED: TERMINAL REMIX (2006). He never directed the movie because he didn’t get along with the producer.

“I thought if I ever did a sequel to SLIME CITY, the train station would work well for it,” Lamberson said. “The train station is a smaller version of Grand Central Station in New York City.” A lot of films have been shot there like Red Screen films, which were horror films shot in eight days and at night. Scenes for Barry Levinson’s THE NATURAL (1984) were also shot there. SCM was shot in 20 days.

The city of Buffalo was fine with them shooting in the abandoned train station as long as they had insurance. “We had the full run of the place,” he said.

Lamberson did get a few of the actors from SLIME CITY to come back for SCM. Robert C. Sabin portrays Zachary as “a beatnik type rather than a Satanist.” Mary Bogle, who has gotten married in the last 22-years, was Mary Huner when she did SLIME CITY. Bogle returns in her role as Lori Swan, “an edgy Lori.” It was tough getting Bogle to come for the shoot since she was dealing with a sick family member at the time, Lamberson recalled. “[Bogle] has a lot to do in SCM.”

There are 10 actors in SCM that have been in all, or at least one, of Lamberson’s film projects. One of those actors is Jennifer Bihl who plays Alexa, the lead in SCM. She first worked for Lamberson in his short music video “Gruesome, based on his book JOHNNY GRUESOME. He had his regulars filming their scenes over two days.

According to Lamberson, Bihl, who is a local actress, looks like Bogle. “I never had any doubt she would do a perfect job.”

Roy Frumkes and Lloyd Kaufman, who both had a hand in the 80s horror scene, are in SCM. Frumkes, who wrote STREET TRASH (1987), was Lamberson’s film school teacher and is an associate producer on the film. “SLIME CITY has been talked about being a knock-off of STREET TRASH,” Lamberson said. “I thought it be a nice joke for [Frumkes] to be in the film.”

Kaufman, who brought audiences the cult hits THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984) and THE CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH (1986), was brought into the film because Debbie Rochon, who plays Alice in SCM, is good friends with Kaufman.  “Debbie went to Lloyd to tell him he should do it,” Lamberson said. The question for Lamberson after Kaufman agreed to be in the film was what to do with him. “Where should I place Lloyd Kaufman?” he recalled with a laugh. “[Kaufman] always plays goofy characters in his movies.”

The Alice character was specifically written for Rochon by Lamberson. “I wrote the part for Debbie when I learned that she was a trained actress not just a scream queen.”

He had a great experience working with Rochon. She brought a lot of professionalism to the shoot.

There is one break-out star in SCM: horror writer Kealan Patrick Burke. Lamberson knew he had charisma from hearing Burke read his work during Podcasts.  Lamberson is waiting to see “what the horror writers think of his performance.” He was going to cast Burke in another film, but that fell through. Burke was joined by another horror writer, Sephera Giron. Giron was cast for the part after Lamberson read her blog. One of her performances got a round of applause from the movie crew after “a semi-striptease,” Lamberson said. It was only one out of three instances of applause that he remembers during the filming of SCM.

Medallion Press, his book publisher, has been involved with all his projects from writing to filmmaking. “I would still be working on [SCM] if they hadn’t come forward with the money” to finish the movie, he said.

For the next year, Lamberson isn’t planning on working on a movie project. He will be taking SCM around to conventions and festivals in hopes of finding a distributor for the movie.

Along with being a filmmaker, he is also an author who has two books coming out this year, THE FRENZY WAY and DESPERATE SOULS.

-end-

© Copyright 2010 by Jason Harris