SXSW comes to a close! We’ve gathered pics from throughout the festival, including the MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND and LIKE ME premieres and the GEP / Dogfish Pictures / Palomo Films party.
New York horror mogul Larry Fessenden was among the executive producers of DIG TWO GRAVES, a supernatural film starring THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS’ Ted Levine. It’s coming later this month; keep reading for the info, trailer and poster.
Area 23a Movievents releases DIG TWO GRAVES to select theaters and VOD March 24. Directed by Hunter Adams from a script he wrote with Jeremy Phillips, the film also stars Samantha Isler, Troy Ruplash, Danny Goldring and Ann Sonneville. The synopsis: After 13-year-old Jacqueline Mather [Isler] loses her brother in a mysterious drowning accident, she is soon visited by three moonshiners who offer to bring her brother back to life—but at a grim cost. As the dark history of her grandfather, Sheriff Waterhouse [Levine] is unearthed, the true intentions of the moonshiners come to light.”
Two Glass Eye Pix pics, Rob Mockler’s LIKE ME and Ana Asensio’s MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND, will world premiere in competition at SXSW.
A reckless loner, desperate for human connection, sets out on a crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. Her reality quickly splinters into a surreal nightmare as her exploits spiral out of control. Cast: Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden, Jeremy Gardner, Stuart Rudin, Nicolette Pierini. Written & Directed by Rob Mockler. Produced by Jenn Wexler. Producers: Jessalyn Abbott, Rob Mockler, James Belfer, Larry Fessenden. Executive Producers: Peter Phok, Leo Joseph, Anya Joseph, Anthony Gentile, John Gentile. A Dogfish Pictures / Glass Eye Pix production.
MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND
An undocumented young woman struggling to begin a new life in New York City is offered an opportunity she can’t pass up. But as day turns to night she discovers she’s been lured to the center of a dangerous game. Cast: Ana Asensio, Natasha Romanova, David Little, Nicholas Tucci, Larry Fessenden, Caprice Benedetti. Written & Directed by Ana Asensio. Produced by Jenn Wexler, Chadd Harbold, Ana Asensio. Producers: Larry Fessenden, Noah Greenberg. Executive Producers: Peter Phok, Gill Holland.
Fessenden also appears in Evan Katz’s SMALL CRIMES, also world premiering at SXSW.
More on these films coming soon. Check out the full SXSW lineup right here!
The new crime drama Stray Bullets (out Feb. 10) was written, directed, and edited by Jack Fessenden, who also stars in the film, composed its soundtrack, and is among the movie’s credited chefs. That’s an impressive array of contributions to this tale of two teenagers in upstate New York whose lives intersect with a trio of gun-toting hoodlums. But the amount of hats Fessenden sported on Stray Bullets is doubly noteworthy given he is only 17 years old and was just 15 when he directed the film.
“I’d been making little movies my entire childhood [but] I started taking movie-making more seriously when I was maybe 12 or 13,” says Fessenden. “When I was 13, I made my first real short film, called Riding Shotgun. We showed it at the Woodstock Film Festival and, ever since I’ve known that I wanted to make a movie like Stray Bullets. I always referred to it in my mind as ‘my epic.’ It wasn’t necessarily going to be a feature. It was just something that would incorporate a story [in] my comfort zone — of kids upstate — as I’d done before, and then also the story of these crooks. In the summer before I started high school, I started to write the story and realized that it was very dense for a short film. My mom, one day, said, ‘Well, why don’t you just make a feature?’”
It could be said that Fessenden was born to make films — certainly, he has been involved in their creation virtually since birth. His mother, Beck Underwood, is an animator and production designer while his father, Larry Fessenden, is the director of such influential indie-horror movies as Habit and Wendigo. Fessenden Sr. has also nurtured a long list of filmmakers through his Glass Eye Pix company, including Ti West (House of the Devil), Jim Mickle (Stake Land), Mickey Keating (Darling), and now his son, whose film was overseen by the production outfit in conjunction with Jack’s own Fessypix. Jack himself appeared in Wendigo when he was just a few months old and, down the years, helped out on a number of other GEP movies, including 2008’s Dominic Monaghan-starring I Sell the Dead. “I helped age some old boxes,” he laughs. “I got paid $50. That’s a pretty big payday for a 7-year-old.”
Larry Fessenden recalls that it was the time he spent goofing around with Jack and his friends which really inspired his son to become a director. “Instead of going out and playing with a ball, we’d go out with a video camera,” he says. “Jack would have three friends over, and we’d say, ‘Let’s pretend you’re running from something terrible!’ And I’d have the fun of designing the shots. I used to edit them, put the music in and so on, and [say], ‘Look, that fun thing we did this afternoon, this is the result.’ Eventually, Jack would take the camera and I’d see him off telling the kids what to do, and I think that’s how he became a filmmaker.”
Jack and his friend Asa Spurlock play the lead teenagers in Stray Bullets while the movie’s three criminals are portrayed by John Speredakos (Wendigo, The Mind’s Eye), James Le Gros (Living in Oblivion, Girls), and Larry, who also shot the film and produced it with Jack. Indeed, with Underwood overseeing the movie’s production design, Stray Bullets is very much a family affair, although Jack insists his father was careful not to offer too much input during the shoot. “He was always there to help, whenever I needed it,” he says. “But I mostly think he wanted to give me some space, so that I could feel that it was my project — and he did that very well.”
Stray Bullets premiered last September at Germany’s Oldenberg Film Festival and won a rave review from The Hollywood Reporter which described it as “an enjoyably bloodsoaked thriller with unexpectedly lyrical interludes.” Jack says he has plans to make another film, but has to first deal with some matters which aren’t usually an issue for first-time filmmakers. “I’m in junior year in high school, so I have to crack down a little bit more than I have been,” he says. “I have to keep my grades up!”
Stray Bullets is released Feb. 10.
When it comes to my Halloween season viewing, I often fall back on the vintage stuff: Hammer favorites, Universal monster classics, the Val Lewton cycle, or any previously unseen golden oldies that catch my eye.
But despite the plague of “found footage” cheapies and an endless streak of inferior remakes and sequels, there have been some very good recent horror movies. It’s just that many of the best have gone virtually unnoticed except by the most insatiable horror fanatics. And I know for that diehard crowd, much of this list might not seem so overlooked. So, while I certainly do want to hear about that grainy $5,000 stalker film from Uruguay you found in a black market video shop, understand my definition of “overlooked” isn’t quite that obscure.
The list was restricted to films released over the last five years or so, just to have some sort of cutoff. There are other movies from the same period (like Trick ‘r Treat, House of the Devil and Splice) that also should have received a wider release or more media attention, but those films have found a very devoted cult following. The films below have some fans, but continue to fly way too far under the radar for my liking.
Five of the ten films are debut features, so maybe there’s something to be said for new chefs contributing to the horror stew. The rankings are a bit meaningless considering how different the films are, but the hierarchy is simply those I felt were the most essential viewing.
Oh … and Happy Halloween!
I Sell the Dead (2009): A fantastic debut feature, Glenn McQuaid’s joyful throwback to genre traditions is horror-comedy of the highest order. Getting convincing period detail on a very low budget, McQuaid also brings filmmaking verve to every scene. And it’s a darn funny film too, with great hammy performances by Larry Fessenden and Ron Perlman and a reactive comic role to treasure from Dominic Monaghan in the lead. If you grew up with Hammer horror films on TV and grisly EC Comics reprints, I Sell the Dead will seem letter-perfect. It never played in a Chicago theater, which is a goddamned shame, as this was made to see with an audience.
“Save for the role of a circus ringleader played by Larry Fessenden, there aren’t any other notable characters to Rush of Blood and frankly, a horror game of this nature isn’t necessarily required. The lack of Peter Stormare reprising his role as the psychiatrist from the first Until Dawn is certainly lamentable, but Larry Fessenden does a great job in his role both in vocal performances as well as overdramatic facial work. Fans of the original Until Dawn should recognize him as the very same actor that portrayed The Stranger, Jack“.
Read Full Article HERE
“Until Dawn: Rush of Blood may be a brief and silly spin-off, something far removed from 2015’s fantastic adventure game, but it’s the most fun I’ve had with a virtual reality game to date, and it’s just a brilliantly entertaining pop horror experience with enjoyable shooty-bang-bang combat.”
Written by Graham Reznick and Larry Fessenden for Supermassive Games, RUSH OF BLOOD features Fessenden as the mad Carnival barker in this crazy thrill-ride shoot ’em up. Take the ride if you dare.
On this week’s New Flesh, Brett Arnold sits down with legendary horror filmmakers Larry Fessenden and Glenn McQuaid (I SELL THE DEAD, V/H/S)! Joe is nowhere to be found.
After confirming once and for all how to pronounce Larry’s last name, Larry and Glenn detail their audio drama series “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” which is now available on iTunes and their website, and discuss the allure of making strictly audio rather than a typical feature.
After promoting their upcoming live show (October 20th at Lincoln Center in NYC!), Larry explains just how close he came to remaking THE ORPHANGE with Guillermo Del Toro and Kate Winslet, and ultimately get into a discussion on what’s wrong with the mainstreaming of the horror genre.
In addition to writing and directing numerous films (NO TELLING, HABIT, WENDIGO, THE LAST WINTER, BENEATH), you may recognize Larry from his roles in countless horror films, including HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, YOU’RE NEXT, STAKELAND, WE ARE STILL HERE, THE BATTERY, and many more.
Tickets for Tales From Beyond the Pale Live go on sale this Thursday.
Also available on iTunes!
THE STAKELANDER! PSYCHOPATHS! STRAY BULLETS! LIKE ME! MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND!
Fessenden chats with Rue Morgue about current and upcoming GEP projects.