Texas Frightmare Weekend 2010: Panel Discussion Round-Up (Pt. 3)

I Spit on Your Grave remake one-sheet

My plan of attack at the TFW was to hit the convention floor hard on Friday and get all my autographs and pictures with the icons of the industry (see my pics here).  I wanted to clear my schedule so on Saturday and Sunday I could be more flexible in going to various panel discussions and screenings.  And here’s a round up of those panels (please note that besides the poster of the I Spit on Your Grave remake, all the following are pics I took at the convention):

I Spit on Your Grave Remake Panel:

I was pretty excited about this one.  I’m a fan of the original 1978 version (as much as you can “be a fan”) but truthfully it isn’t really that great of a film.  There’s a lot of room to improve and update the ’78 version and after the panel discussion I think we may have a winner (original director Meir Zarchi is an executive producer).  Besides getting to see the never-before-seen trailer, we were also treated to seeing two scenes from the film.  One scene was from the first half where our innocent heroine Jennifer is the victim and the other scene is from the later part of the film where Jennifer turns the tables on her tormentors.  The scenes were well shot, well acted and looked very tense.

the I Spit on Your Grave Remake panel

Present at the panel were director Steven Monroe, actress Sarah Butler (Jennifer), and actors Chad Lindberg, Rodney Eastman, and Daniel Franzese.  They gave us many great stories about how difficult the shoot was and how emotionally drained they all were after every day of shooting (they would all just sit in the hot tub at the end of the day chain smoking, drinking, and not talking to each other).  I’m also pretty optimistic about the film after hearing what director Monroe had to say.  He wasn’t concerned with making a film for a wide distribution; he wanted to push the envelope and make a movie that wasn’t exploitive but realistic.  And from the stories he and the cast told I’d say they accomplished that mission!!  Monroe also related some stories that were real eye-openers about the realities of being a director.  It’s not the vision we all have of the director sitting is his tall chair running the show and putting his vision on film.  The reality, as Monroe bluntly puts it, is that the the director has to “fight many fights to get what he wants up on the screen.  And he’s fighting a suit sitting in an office who has no idea what the audience really wants.”  And the problem is that “suit” is the one cutting the checks.  Very eye opening!!

Bad to the Bone:  The Christine Reunion

The star of the movie Christine, present at the convention!!

This was a pretty exciting one.  Not only was John Carpenter present for the convention, he was also the head of the Christine reunion which also had Keith Gordon, Alexandra Paul, John Stockwell, and William Ostrander present.  We got a lot of really funny stories about the shooting of Christine and how no one ever thought it would become an iconic horror film.  As Carpenter put it:

“I had just come off of a movie that tanked big … BIG; maybe you heard of it?  It’s a little film called The Thing [the audience erupts into crazy-loud applause].  So I figured I didn’t have much bargaining power here and someone approached me with the script for Christine.  After I read it I thought to myself, ‘Do I really wanna make a film about a killer car?’”

Carpenter at the Christine panel

We learned from the cast how supportive Carpenter was as a director and how he liked the actor’s input, and we get the inside about what a great sense of humor Carpenter has.  Here’s the best story we were told.  Christine was filmed in some very bad parts of town and the associate producer, Barry Bernardi, was always worried about ne’er-do-wells around the set.  So Carpenter had one of the key grips wear a coat with a large clover on it and Carpenter would tell Barry that he was part of the Clover Gang, a really brutal gang in the area.  And when Barry wanted security to get rid of the “gang member” John would send one of the 70 year old guys on the set to “kick him off the set.”  Funny stuff.

Carpenter receiving his award

But most interesting was Carpenter’s views on remakes.  Someone from the audience asked him, “How do you feel about your films being remade.”  His first response was, “It doesn’t bother me as long as I get that check in the mail.”  But then he got serious:  “Look; they can do whatever they want with my films because those remakes aren’t my films.  I already made my film.  The second someone else starts making it, it’s no long my film; it’s there’s.”  What a great way to look at it!!  After the panel, Carpenter then received the Texas Frightmare Weekend Lifetime Achievement Award.  Good times.

The Short Films of Rodrigo Gudiño (Founder of Rue Morgue Magazine):

Filmmaker Rodrigo Gudino

Rodrigo showed us three of his short films (collected in 2009‘s Curious Stories, Crooked Symbols).  All three stories were compelling and well done.  The first, The Eyes of Edward James, is the story of a man going through a hypnosis session with a doctor to try and decode a recurring dream that’s haunting him.  The ending has a nice little twist that totally works.  The second short, The Demonology of Desire is a twisted little tale of  a sociopathic 13-14 year old girl and how she passive-aggressively torments her best friend and a boy that has a crush on her.  Great performances by the young cast and just wait until you see what’s in the cage!!  The last short, The Facts in the Case of Mr. Hollow, is the most experimental of the three and in some ways is also the most effective.  Trying to describe it is futile but just “pay attention to the picture.”

After he screened his three shorts he then talked a little about his upcoming feature Cuts Throat Nine, a Western-ish violent yarn.

Texas Frightmakers Show N’ Tell:

That’s a lot of talented Texas indie horror filmmakers!!

The last panel I attended on Sunday was comprised of a group of Texas independent horror filmmakers and actors.  We got to see the trailers for about eight upcoming indie films all made in Texas by Texas talent; and you all know how much I love indie horror films.  We saw the trailer for Possum Walk (written and directed by Jeremy Sumrall, who played The Beast in the Texas indie horror film Sweatshop, which was screened on Friday night); The Judge, a supernatural-horror-action flick that is the first part of a trilogy; Boggy Creek, a violent Bigfoot story written and directed by Brian Jaynes (for more info, check out the website http://boggycreekthemovie.com/); Nonexistent, written & directed by Robert Luke; Dead of Knight, the tale of a medieval Knight killing in modern times (directed by Joe Grisaffi); Kodie, the story of a killer teddy bear (directed by Abel Berry); Zombiefied, a slasher-zombie epic (written-directed by Todd Jason Cook); and perhaps the most impressive was My Sucky Teen Romance by 17 year old Emily Hagins.  That’s not a typo.  Ms. Hagins is 17 years old and this will be her third feature film.  I’m sorry but that’s friggin’ awesome!!  I’m definitely keeping my eye on all these projects and especially on the career of Emily Hagins.

17 yr old filmmaker Emily Hagins (3rd from left).

We also got the scoop on the Don’t Look in the Basement remake, being directed by Josh Vargas (who is the son of S.F. Brownrigg who directed the original).  There’s some impressive actors attached to the project:  Judith O’Dea and Bill Hinzman (who haven’t worked together since 1968’s Night of the Living Dead), Kelli Maroney (Chopping Mall, Night of the Comet), Tim Sullivan (director of 2001 Maniacs: Field of Dreams), and Texas indie horror staple Parrish Randall.  We didn’t get to see a trailer because as Vargas tells us, “I couldn’t get my s**t together to put something together,” but at the least it sounds like it could be a fun project.

What’s more impressive is that the credits for all these flicks (and pretty much any other Texas indie horror film) has practically the same cast and crew in each film.  The Texas indie horror scene is a thriving, passionate, and creative scene full of energy, blood and guts, and originality.  There’s a lot of what I call “inbreeding” going on:  All the filmmakers help each other out and there’s no back-stabbing or one-up-man-ship going on.  Could you BE any more anti-Hollywood??  Get out there and support the Texas indie horror scene.  I’ll keep you updated as I hear more about release dates and distribution for all these and other films.

All my signed loot from the convention!!

So that’s pretty much it for my time at the Texas Frightmare Weekend.  It was a hugely productive weekend for me in that I got to meet my “horror heros” and I learned a lot of info about filmmaking and the world of horror in general.  Let me know what you think about my convention weekend.  Ask me anything I may have forgotten to cover!!  But most of all …

Stay Bloody!!!

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9 Responses to Texas Frightmare Weekend 2010: Panel Discussion Round-Up (Pt. 3)

  1. 3DMOVIEMAN says:

    Here is my video from Texas Frightmare 2010 in 3D http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftpWfliaFHw
    Put On Your 3D Glasses NOW!

  2. Pingback:Interview with Special F/X Guru Chris Bridges « AnythingHorror Central

  3. autumnforest says:

    Yes, I promise, definitely not the candle kind of sex. So you’re trying to be everyone’s go-to guy, why you horror whore! (my new nickname for you)

  4. autumnforest says:

    Wow–so much info! I would like to see you be an extra in a Texas-made Indie film. You gotta put that on your “bucket list.” I have to admit I cringed when I heard they were remaking “I Spit on Your Grave.” It’s one of my fav’s but I think the time period it came from called for it to be quite striking. Women were just doing things on their own and having to take their own fate in their own hands so culturally, it was an perfect timing for the movie, especially as women with new found sexuality were a threat to men. I’m not sure the context works nowadays. I know I’ll end up seeing it just to compare. I love Carpenter. I can’t help it. He’s no master filmmaker, but damn, I just think the guy is quick and bright and really gets the regular person out there and what unsettles them, including the music to set the mood. Don’t Look in the Basement, really? It’s kind of like “When a Stranger Calls,” hardly worth remaking. Not gonna rush to see that one. I am hopeful that the Indie filmmaking is taking off. I just want to see things through different points of view and different eyes–not all slick and the same old/same old. Hey, have you seen “Animals?” I did a review on my blog on it. I will say without a doubt that it has the best sex I’ve ever seen in a horror movie of all time–bar none! I won’t talk about the werwolves, they made me giggle–worse than SyFy movies by a mile! Interesting filmmaking techniques, though. I want to see thie director when he gets a bit more under his belt, this I think was his first time being the director, other times just being an assistant. He used some interesting short scene techniques but god-almighty, the guy gave the best sex scenes ever ever ever! You can’t tell I like erotic horror, huh? That’s probably why I write it.

    • I am VERY curious to check out Animals now … especially with that endorsement from the “Queen of Erotic Horror” LOL

      I agree with ya on Carpenter … by no means is he a master director (don’t get me started on the original Halloween) but his films really strike a chord. I really think its his amazing scores for the films. I Spit remake will definitely not have the cultural texture it had back when the original was made. From the sounds of it they are going for a tight revenge/”worm turns” kinda story, but most important is that they were trying to avoid being exploitive and be more “realistic”. Yeah; Don’t Look in the Basement …. i don’t know…. but I will be covering it to support local indie horror; but it’ll get a brutally honest review.

      • autumnforest says:

        I just had my best friend watch Animals with me today and she was like–jeez, your write up on your blog was exactly right and the sex was amazing. Yeah, I can be sucked in by good sex scenes and not a stupid bimbo and a jock going at it grinding their groins–I mean, really hot, adult, sexy, animal stuff. Yeah, I want that director to become an erotic director unless he can learn to stay clear of CGI. He screwed the pooch on using that–it was godawful, but if he had shown the transformation to werewolf with the same orgmasic organic movements of the sex scenes, it would have been a dream movie. I have hopes for him in the future. I will watch “I Spit on Your Grave” just because I love the original, but I am skeptical it’ll have the same cultural thing with men threatened by newly independent women on the pill and controlling their own fates… I an so looking forward to your review of “Don’t Look in the Basement.” You are my go-to guy for movie reviews. You really don’t steer me wrong. I love your POV.

      • Usually when a woman tells me there was a great sex scene in a movie it usually entails a lot of candles, possibly a fog machine, and lots of flowers. But when AutumnForest recommends a sex scene in a movie, that’s one movie I’m gonna check out!! 😉

        Yes yes yes … the Don’t Look in the Basement remake should be an interesting one. Lets hope its not a case of me “jumping on a grenade” for everyone!! I’m glad I’m your go to guy for reviews …. I’m trying to be everyone’s go to guy!!! LOL