Thursday, June 12, 2014

Distortions Unlimited: Die Zombie Die! Prop (2013)

I often get asked 'what's my most favorite item in the shop?' Well, to be honest I've got a lot of favorite items. Here lately I've been really into the props. Go figure, that is some of the most expensive items we have. But, I don't know what it is about them that attracts me. Is it their lifelike size? Is it because they are so detailed?

Currently at the shop, we have several props in stock. Including a life size Hellraiser Pinhead, Teddy Bear Girl Walker from AMC The Walking Dead and a couple of zombies. One of the props I like the most is a prop called 'Die Zombie Die!'. We got this prop in last year.

This prop is just absolutely amazing. A must see in person. Stands at almost 4 feet tall. Reminds me of a famous walker off The Walking Dead that goes by the name 'Bicycle Girl Zombie'.

Distortions Unlimited, featured on the hit TV series 'Making Monsters' (Travel Channel) made this amazing prop. The prop is also signed on back by Distortions Unlimited. This is a must for the die-hard collector! Distortions Unlimited is one of the premier Halloween Animatronics manufacturers in the industry. Featuring a huge selection of various Halloween Animatronics and Halloween Props, Distortions Unlimited has something for everybody, from low-budget home haunts to high-end professional Haunted Houses. Their work is top notch. They are considered the best in props.

Distortions Unlimited, known in the world of animatronics and mask makers as innovators with their impeccable design and execution. Ed Edmunds, the founder and co-owner of Distortions Unlimited Corporation, specializes in building animatronic monsters, creatures, zombies and aliens. Edmunds also constructs props, masks, set designs and haunted houses that have changed the industry across America. In Making Monsters, Edmunds and his team create some of most realistic and frightening masterpieces for events and tradeshows.


Edmunds’ fascination with popular sci-fi flicks and television began when he was a teenager living in rural Illinois. He studied Art Education at the University of Northern Colorado, and he used his artistic abilities to make and sell high-quality masks which eventually led to the creation of his company. He currently resides in Greeley, CO, with wife and co-owner of Distortions Unlimited, Marsha Taub-Edmunds.

Martha began working for Ed Edmunds in 1981 while working on her Teaching Certification in Biology at the University of Northern Colorado. She became intrigued by the creations of this booming local business and took it upon herself to learn the business, inside and out. Marsha and Ed connected through their shared artistic passion and wed in 1992; they have been running Distortions Unlimited as a team ever since. Together, the couple has spurred a revolution in America’s haunted house industry.

World-renowned designer and sculptor, Jordu Schell, assists Ed Edmunds and his Distortions Unlimited crew with sculpting their unbelievable monsters. Although Schell lives in Hollywood, he has become a dear friend and colleague of Edmunds over the years and often travels to Greeley, CO, to contribute to the Distortions Unlimited creations.
 
Schell became infatuated with Ed Edmunds at the age of 14 when he came across a Distortions mask at his local Halloween store. From that moment on, he knew he wanted to make monsters. Schell’s creativity led him to Hollywood, where he has contributed to award-winning films including Avatar, 300, Men in Black and Batman Returns. Schell also teaches sculpting and design at his studio, Schell Sculpture Studio, in Chatsworth, CA.
 
The Die Zombie Die! Prop is also signed on back by Distortions Unlimited.

There is also a animated version of this prop. The animated zombie shakes, twitches and moans in pain but just won't die! Foam-filled body with metal armature and heavy duty motor. All electric. Soundtrack CD is included. You provide CD player. But, the downfall is it's more expensive. We have the regular version in stock at our shop. But, you can order the regular or animated version at Amazon.



Amazon: Die Zombie Die! Prop (Distortions Unlimited) - $232.95 (REGULAR)
Amazon: Die Zombie Die! Prop (Distortions Unlimited) - $332.95 (ANIMATED)

Photo credits: Little Shop of Horrors (London, KY)

Nightmare Factory: Dug Up Afterlife Prop (2007)

Here's another cool prop we have in stock at our shop. This prop is called 'Dug Up Afterlife'. We have had this one for a couple of years. Surprisingly, no one has purchased this prop. Which I sort of hope they don't, so I can keep it for myself. I really dig this one. I love zombies.

Seasonal Visions International's Nightmare Factory produced this prop. Sculpted by talented Mario Chiodo. This prop was produced in 2007. It is discontinued, no longer made. Good luck finding it online. I've searched all the Halloween shops, Amazon and Ebay. It was listed sold out or no longer available. There was only one listing on Ebay. It costed a arm and a leg, literally.

But, lucky for you. We have one in stock. Before anyone asks. Sorry, at the moment we don't do online ordering. We only sell out of our shop. We are a affiliate with the trusted online retailer Amazon. Unfortunately, this prop is not listed on Amazon. For more information about our shop read this post: ABOUT US.


Nightmare Factory: Dug Up Afterlife Prop - $139.99 (IN STORE ONLY)

The Exorcist (1973, USA)

Directed by: William Friedkin
Produced by: William Peter Blatty
Screenplay by: William Peter Blatty
Based on: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Starring: Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, Mercedes McCambridge
Music by: Jack Nitzsche (additional)
Cinematography: Owen Roizman
Editing by: Norman Gay, Jordan Leondopoulos, Evan A. Lottman, Bud S. Smith
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Release dates: December 26, 1973
Running time: 122 min, 132 min (Director's cut)
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $12 million
Box office: $441,071,011
Plot: A visiting actress in Washington, D.C., notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, a young priest at nearby Georgetown University begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother's terminal sickness. And, book-ending the story, a frail, elderly priest recognizes the necessity for a show-down with an old demonic enemy.

Info: The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 exorcism case of Roland Doe, deals with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother's desperate attempts to win back her child through an exorcism conducted by two priests.

The film features Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb, and (in voice only) Mercedes McCambridge. It is one of a cycle of "demonic child" films produced from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, including Rosemary's Baby and The Omen.

The Exorcist was released theatrically in the United States by Warner Bros. on December 26, 1973. The film earned 10 Academy Award nominations, winning two (Best Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay), and losing Best Picture to The Sting. It became one of the highest-grossing films of all time, grossing over $441 million worldwide. It is also the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture.



The Exorcist original 1973 trailer.

The original teaser trailer, which consisted of nothing but images of the white-faced demon quickly flashing in and out of darkness, was banned in many theaters, as it was deemed "too frightening".

The film has had a significant influence on popular culture. It was named the scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly and Movies.com and by viewers of AMC in 2006, and was No. 3 on Bravo's The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. In 2010, the Library of Congress selected the film to be preserved as part of its National Film Registry. In 2003, it was placed at No. 2 in Channel 4's The 100 Greatest Scary Moments in the United Kingdom.

Aspects of the novel were inspired by an exorcism performed on a young boy from Cottage City, Maryland, in 1949 by the Jesuit priest, Fr. William S. Bowdern, who formerly taught at both St. Louis University and St. Louis University High School. Hunkeler's Catholic family was convinced the child's aggressive behavior was attributable to demonic possession, and called upon the services of Father Walter Halloran to perform the rite of exorcism.

Although Friedkin admits he is very reluctant to speak about the factual aspects of the film, he made the film with the intention of immortalizing the events that took place in Cottage City, Maryland in 1949, and despite the relatively minor changes that were made, the film depicts everything that could be verified by those involved. It was one of three exorcisms to be sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the U.S. at that time.

 The Exorcist 1973 VHS distributed by Warner Home Video.

In order to make the film, Friedkin was allowed access to the diaries of the priests involved, as well as the doctors and nurses; he also discussed the events with the boy's aunt in great detail. Friedkin doesn't believe that the "head-spinning" actually occurred, but this has been disputed. Friedkin is not a Christian of any denomination.

Although the agency representing Linda Blair did not send her for the role, Blair's mother brought her to meet with Warner Brothers's casting department and then with Friedkin. Pamelyn Ferdin, a veteran of science fiction and supernatural drama, was a candidate for the role of Regan. April Winchell was considered, until she developed Pyelonephritis, which caused her to be hospitalized and ultimately taken out of consideration. Denise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, was considered, but the material troubled her parents too much, and they pulled her out of consideration. Anissa Jones, known for her role as Buffy in Family Affair, auditioned for the role, but she too was rejected, for much the same reason as Ferdin. The part went instead to Blair, a relative unknown except for a role in The Way We Live Now.

Friedkin originally intended to use Blair's voice, electronically deepened and roughened, for the demon's dialogue. Although Friedkin felt this worked fine in some places, he felt scenes with the demon confronting the two priests lacked the dramatic power required and selected legendary radio actress Mercedes McCambridge, an experienced voice actress, to provide the demon's voice. After filming, Warner Brothers attempted to conceal McCambridge's participation, which led to a lawsuit from McCambridge and opened a grudge between her and Friedkin.


The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. 1971 hardback 1st edition (left) and 1974 paperback (right).

The studio wanted Marlon Brando for the role of Father Lankester Merrin. Friedkin immediately vetoed this by stating it would become a "Brando movie." Jack Nicholson was up for the part of Karras before Stacy Keach was hired by Blatty. Friedkin then spotted Miller following a performance of Miller's play That Championship Season in New York. Even though Miller had never acted in a film, Keach's contract was bought out by Warner Brothers, and Miller was signed. Jane Fonda, Audrey Hepburn and Anne Bancroft were under consideration for the role of Chris. Ellen Burstyn received the part after she phoned Friedkin and emphatically stated she was going to play Chris.

Warner had approached Arthur Penn (who was teaching at Yale), Peter Bogdanovich (who wanted to pursue other projects, subsequently regretting the decision), and Mike Nichols (who did not want to shoot a film so dependent on a child's performance) and John Boorman—who would direct the second film—said he did not want to direct it because it was "cruel towards children". Originally Mark Rydell was hired to direct, but William Peter Blatty insisted on Friedkin instead, because he wanted his film to have the same energy as Friedkin's previous film, The French Connection. After a standoff with the studio, which initially refused to budge over Rydell, Blatty eventually got his way. Stanley Kubrick was offered the film (and later on its first sequel) but declined. Production of The Exorcist began on August 14, 1972, and though it was only supposed to last 85 days, it lasted for 224.

Friedkin went to some extraordinary lengths, reminiscent of some directors from the old Hollywood directing style, manipulating the actors, to get the genuine reactions he wanted. Yanked violently around in harnesses, both Blair and Burstyn suffered back injuries and their painful screams went right into the film. Burstyn injured her back after landing on her coccyx when a stuntman jerked her via cable during the scene when Regan slaps her mother. According to the documentary Fear of God: The Making of the Exorcist, however, the injury did not cause permanent damage, although Burstyn was upset the shot of her screaming in pain was used in the film.

The Exorcist on the cover of HorrorHound and Fangoria magazine.
 
After asking Reverend William O'Malley if he trusted him and being told yes, Friedkin slapped him hard across the face before a take to generate a deeply solemn reaction that was used in the film, as a very emotional Father Dyer read last rites to Father Karras; this offended the many Catholic crew members on the set. He also fired a gun without warning on the set to elicit shock from Jason Miller for a take, and only told Miller that pea soup would hit him in the chest rather than the face concerning the projectile-vomiting scene, resulting in his disgusted reaction. Lastly, he had Regan's bedroom set built inside a freezer so that the actors' breath could be visible on camera, which required the crew to wear parkas and other cold-weather gear.

The film's opening sequence was filmed in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. The people of Sinjar are mostly Kurdish members of the ancient Yezidi sect, which reveres Melek Taus. Outsiders often equate Melek Taus with the Devil, though this benevolent being has little in common with the Islamic and Christian Satan. The archaeological dig site seen at the film's beginning is the actual site of ancient Hatra in Nineveh Province.

The "Exorcist steps", stone steps at the end of M Street in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. were padded with 1/2"-thick rubber to film the death of Karras. The stuntman tumbled down the stairs twice. Georgetown University students charged people around $5 each to watch the stunt from the rooftops.

The MacNeil residence interiors were filmed at CECO Studios in Manhattan. The bedroom set had to be refrigerated to capture the authentic icy breath of the actors in the exorcizing scenes, while the bedroom scenes along with many other scenes were filmed in the basement of Fordham University in New York. The temperature was brought so low that a thin layer of snow fell onto the set one morning. Blair, who was only in a thin nightgown, says to this day she cannot stand being cold. Exteriors of the MacNeill house were filmed at 36th and Prospect in Washington, using a family home and a false wall to convey the home's thrust toward the steps. In fact, both then and now, a garden sits atop the embankment between the steps and the home.


Curtis Reynolds's The Exorcist leg tattoo. Tattoo by Clint Lewis R.I.P. 1973-2012 (London, KY).

The scenes involving Regan's medical tests were filmed at New York University Medical Center and were performed by actual medical staff which normally carry out the procedures shown. In the film Regan first undergoes an early type of cerebral angiography, then (when the results come back negative) a pneumoencephalography – two painful diagnostic tests nowadays obsoleted by far less invasive neuroimaging studies using modern CT or MRI scanners. As was the common practice in those days, the angiography was performed by direct puncture of the carotid artery resulting in blood squirting that caused some movie viewers to faint. The follow-on procedure, pneumoencephalography, though routinely performed through the 1970s, was very taxing on patients and sometimes required months of recuperation. In the film Regan is shown to be in great distress while undergoing it, as actual patients often were. Consequently, Chris MacNeil experiences a breakdown when the doctors suggest it be attempted as the other tests failed to locate a brain lesion they are certain would be found.

The interior of Karras' room at Georgetown was a meticulous reconstruction of Theology professor Father Thomas M. King, S.J.'s "corridor Jesuit" room in New North Hall. Fr. King's room was photographed by production staff after a visit by Blatty, a Georgetown graduate, and Friedkin. Upon returning to New York, every element of King's room, including posters and books, was recreated for the set, including a poster of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., a paleontologist on whom the character of Fr. Merrin was loosely based. Georgetown was paid $1,000 per day of filming, which included both exteriors, such as Burstyn's first scene, shot on the steps of the Flemish Romanesque Healy Hall, and interiors, such as the defilement of the statue of the Virgin Mary in Dahlgren Chapel, or the Archbishop's office, which is actually the office of the president of the university. One scene was filmed in The Tombs, a student hangout across from the steps that was founded by a Blatty classmate. The motion picture St. Elmo's Fire includes scenes filmed at The Tombs.


The Exorcist 'Regan Possessed' deluxe box set (left) and 'Regan (Spider-Walk)' action figure (right) by NECA.

Amazon: The Exorcist 'Regan (Spider-Walk)' Fig.

The Exorcist contained a number of special effects, engineered by makeup artist Dick Smith. In one scene from the film, Max von Sydow is actually wearing more makeup than the possessed girl (Linda Blair). This was because director Friedkin wanted some very detailed facial close-ups. When this film was made, von Sydow was 44, though he was made up to look 74. Alan McKenzie stated in his book Hollywood Tricks of the Trade that the fact "that audiences didn't realize von Sydow was wearing makeup at all is a tribute to the skills of veteran makeup artist Dick Smith."

Contortionist Linda R. Hager performed the infamous spider-walk scene on April 11, 1973. Director Friedkin deleted this scene just prior to the December 26, 1973 premiere because it was technically ineffective due to the visible wires suspending Hager in a backward-arched position as she descends the stairs. According to Friedkin, "I cut it when the film was first released because this was one of those effects that did not work as well as others, and I was only able to save it for the re-release with the help of computer graphic imagery." Additionally, Friedkin considered that the spider-walk scene appeared too early in the film's plot and removed it despite screenplay writer William Peter Blatty's request that the scene remain. In the book, the spider-walk is very quiet, and consists of Regan following Sharon around and occasionally licking her ankle.

In 1998, Warner re-released the digitally remastered DVD of The Exorcist: 25th Anniversary Special Edition. The DVD includes the BBC documentary, The Fear of God: The Making of The Exorcist, highlighting the never-before-seen original non-bloody variant of the spider-walk scene. To appease the screenwriter and some fans of The Exorcist, Friedkin worked with CGI artists to digitally remove the wires holding Hager. The director reinstated the bloody variant of the spider-walk scene for the 2000 theatrically re-released version of The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen. In October 2010, Warner released The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut & Original Theatrical Edition) on Blu-ray, including the behind-the-scenes filming of the spider-walk scene.

 The Exorcist 1973 premier at the Rendevous Jewelbox Theatre in Seattle, WA.
 
The film earned $66.3 million in distributors' domestic (US/CAN) rentals during its theatrical release in 1974, becoming the second most popular film of that year (trailing The Sting). After several reissues, the film eventually grossed $232,671,011 in North America, which if adjusted for inflation, would be the ninth highest-grossing film of all time and the top-grossing R-rated film of all time. To date, it has a total gross of $441,071,011 worldwide.

Roger Ebert, while praising the film, believed the special effects to be so unusually graphic he wrote, "That it received an R rating and not the X is stupefying." Theaters provided "Exorcist barf bags".

The Exorcist was also at the center of controversy due to its alleged use of subliminal imagery. Wilson Bryan Key wrote a whole chapter on the film in his book Media Sexploitation alleging multiple uses of subliminal and semi-subliminal imagery and sound effects. Key observed the use of the Pazuzu face (in which Key mistakenly assumed it was Jason Miller made up in a death mask makeup) and claimed that the safety padding on the bedposts were shaped to cast phallic shadows on the wall and that a skull face is superimposed into one of Father Merrin's breath clouds.

Key also wrote much about the sound design, identifying the use of pig squeals, for instance, and elaborating on his opinion of the subliminal intent of it all. A detailed article in the July/August 1991 issue of Video Watchdog examined the phenomenon, providing still frames identifying several usages of subliminal "flashing" throughout the film. In an interview from the same issue, Friedkin explained, "I saw subliminal cuts in a number of films before I ever put them in The Exorcist, and I thought it was a very effective storytelling device... The subliminal editing in The Exorcist was done for dramatic effect—to create, achieve, and sustain a kind of dreamlike state."

In August of 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that obscene content was not protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and went on to define obscenity. This ruling gave states more power to bring cases against what the community felt was "obscene." After the film's release in December of 1973, a case was brought against film distributors in Boston siting a new obscenity ruling; the case sought to ban The Exorcist in Boston. Although the judge's ruling stated that "it does not meet the guidelines of obscenity as laid down by the United States Supreme Court" and the case was dismissed, the field was open for additional lawsuits. Soon after, the Division of Film and Broadcasting for the U.S. Catholic Conference rated the film A-IV, morally objectionable. They condemned the MPAA for giving the film an 'R' rating. Finally, in Washington DC, community action achieved a success.

On New Year's Day of 1974, the U.S. District Attorney's Office ruled to ban the film's ticket sales to anyone under 17 and warned theaters that arrests would be made for any violations of this ban. Luckily for the film, produced by the author William Blatty, the 'R' rating stuck and The Exorcist became one of most talked-about films and biggest money maker in film history.

The religious nature of the film was also very divisive, and a release date one day after Christmas heightened reactions. Billy Graham claimed that the film itself was possessed, while the Catholic Church called the film “deeply spiritual.” Religious controversy is always fodder for the media, and Walter Cronkite devoted 10 minutes of his nightly news broadcast to covering the reception to the film. This is another example of how the film changed cinema and how movies are promoted: The Exorcist became a cultural phenomenon that people were eager to experience so they could join the conversation about, and Hollywood studios learned that controversy was something to embrace rather than run from.

The enduring legacy of The Exorcist is that audiences want to be terrified, and that filmmakers can achieve spectacular results when they step away from the safety of the tried and true. Horror films have become the testing ground for new ideas, often taking cinema in completely different directions. Without the success of The Exorcist, studio executives may not have been willing to back the wide release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999. That film went on to turn a $25,000 production budget into a $248 million box office return and pioneer the new found footage genre.

The Exorcist promotional press photo. Linda Blair was 13 years old when The Exorcist was filmed.
 
However, these quick, scary flashes have been labeled "[not] truly subliminal" and "quasi-" or "semi-subliminal". True subliminal imagery must be, by definition, below the threshold of awareness. In an interview in a 1999 book about the film, The Exorcist author Blatty addressed the controversy by explaining that, "There are no subliminal images. If you can see it, it's not subliminal."

The Exorcist was nominated for ten total Academy Awards in 1973, winning two. It is the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture. At the 46th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, the film won two statuettes.

Film Facts: Due to death threats against Linda Blair from religious zealots who believed the film "glorified Satan", Warner Bros. had bodyguards protecting her for six months after the film's release.

Father Dyer is played by William O'Malley, an actual priest who still teaches to this day at Fordham University.

On the first day of filming the exorcism sequence, Linda Blair's delivery of her foul-mouthed dialogue so disturbed the gentlemanly Max von Sydow that he actually forgot his lines.

Upon its initial theatrical release the film affected many audiences so strongly that at many theaters, paramedics were called to treat people who fainted and others who went into hysterics.

The Exorcist promotional press photo. The infamous levitation scene.
 
In A Decade Under the Influence (2003), William Friedkin talks about the original poster that the studio created for the film. It was a drawing of Regan's hand holding the bloody crucifix that she masturbates with. The original tag line was "God help this girl". Friedkin rejected the poster, stating that the word "God" should not be used in a movie tag line.

One of the most famous scenes in the movie and the shot used for the posters and the cover of the DVD/VHS releases was inspired by the 1954 painting "Empire of Light" ("L'Empire des lumières") by René Magritte. It is the scene where Fr. Merrin steps out of a cab and stands in front of the MacNeil residence bathed in an eerie glow.

In the scene in the language lab, a white banner is visible with the following letters TASUKETE written in red. TASUKETE means "Help me" in Japanese.

Director William Friedkin eventually asked technical advisor Thomas Bermingham to exorcise the set. He refused, saying an exorcism might increase anxiety. Rev. Bermingham wound up visiting the set and gave a blessing and talk to reassure the cast and crew.

There are tales about ominous events surrounding the year-long shoot, including the deaths of nine people associated with the production and stories about a mysterious fire that destroyed the set one weekend. Actors Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros died before the film was released.

Author William Peter Blatty once won $10,000 on the Groucho Marx show You Bet Your Life (1950). When Groucho asked what he planned to do with the money, he said he planned to take some time off to "work on a novel." This was the result.


Turning Linda Blair into 'Possessed' Regan. Before and after makeup.

Ever since Thomas Edison Studios produced the first Frankenstein film in 1910, movie makeup artists have been shaping the faces of Hollywood monsters. As one of the grand masters of this bizarre art, Dick Smith has thrilled audiences and inspired colleagues with his innovative makeup techniques for more than half a century. Recently turned 85 and retired in Connecticut, Smith has had a career as legendary as the work he created.
 
Richard Emerson "Dick" Smith (born June 26, 1922) is an American special effects make-up artist (nicknamed "The Godfather of Make-Up") known for his work on such films as Little Big Man, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, and Scanners. He won a 1985 Academy Award for Makeup for his work on Amadeus and a 2012 Honorary Academy Award for his career's work.
 
"'The Exorcist' was really a turning point for makeup special effects," Baker says. "Dick showed that makeup wasn't just about making people look scary or old, but had many applications. He figured out a way to make the welts swell up on Linda's stomach, to make her head spin around, and he created the vomit scenes."
 
According to William Peter Blatty, Warner Bros. wanted to change the title of the film after taking a survey which found none of the participants knew what an exorcist was.

A filmgoer who saw the movie in 1974 during its original release fainted and broke his jaw on the seat in front of him. He then sued Warner Brothers and the filmmakers, claiming that the use of subliminal imagery in the film had caused him to pass out. The studio settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Ellen Burstyn agreed to doing the movie only if her character didn't have to say the scripted line: "I believe in the devil!" The producers agreed to eliminate the utterance.

The Exorcist behind the scenes photo. Linda Blair in makeup.
 
When originally released in the UK a number of town councils imposed a complete ban on the showing of the film. This led to the bizarre spectacle of "Exorcist Bus Trips" where enterprising travel companies organized buses to take groups to the nearest town where the film was showing.
 
During the scene where Father Karras visits Chris MacNeil as she's ironing, the infamous Ivory Snow box featuring porn star Marilyn Chambers can be clearly seen in the background.
 
Christian evangelist Billy Graham claimed an actual demon was living in the celluloid reels of this movie.
 
William O'Malley refers to this movie to students as the "pornographic horror film" he once did.
 
Upon its 1973 release in the Middle East, the film was shown only in Lebanon while in the rest of the Middle East, the film was banned. On its re release, the film got banned throughout the whole Middle East including Lebanon.
 
To entertain and distract Linda Blair during the long makeup process she had to sit through, the crew set up a television near her makeup chair so she could watch The Beverly Hillbillies (1962).
 
The entire exorcism scene, from start to end, lasts 9 minutes. The sound of the demon leaving Regan's body is actually the sound of pigs being herded for slaughter.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hell Night (1981, USA)

Directed by: Tom DeSimone
Produced by: Irwin Yablans, Bruce Cohn Curtis
Written by: Randy Feldman
Starring: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Peter Barton
Music by: Dan Wyman
Cinematography: Mac Ahlberg
Editing by: Anthony DiMarco
Distributed by: Compass International Pictures, Media Home Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release dates: August 28, 1981
Running time: 101 min
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: Unknown
Box office: Unknown
Plot: Before being able to join Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity and its sister sorority, four pledges must spend the night in Garth Manor, twelve years to the day after the previous resident murdered his entire family. Some, however, say that one member of the Garth family survived, and still resides somewhere in the now-deserted mansion.
Info: Hell Night is a 1981 American independent horror film directed by Tom DeSimone, written by Randy Feldman, and starring Linda Blair. The film depicts a night of fraternity hazing ("hell night") set in an old manor, during which a deformed maniac terrorizes and murders many of the college students. The film blends elements of slasher films and Creature Features, and has developed a large cult following.

Of all the slashers to be unleashed in the early eighties, few had as a distinctive look and feel as Hell Night, Tom DeSimone’s gothic thriller that replaced the splatter aspect with old fashioned atmospherics. Starring Linda Blair, the notorious child actress who had masturbated with a crucifix in The Exorcist, and hosting a selection of future successes, the movie was less of an exploitation and more of a throwback to the days of Hammer and Roger Corman. Utilizing the haunted house formula, a rarity for the slasher genre, Hell Night used striking cinematography and lavish production designs in place of Tom Savini-style gore effects, a decision which some horror fans applauded whilst others felt short changed. Released in the summer of 1981, amidst the height of the slasher boom, Hell Night was greeted by an enthusiastic audience and has since remained a cult favorite.



Even though Hell Night is noted for its lack of bloodshed, there had been one special effect shot that would have satisfied the gore fans, though sadly the MPAA insisted that it be severely censored. This involved the decapitation of May. Instead of the head falling to the floor, DeSimone had decided that he wanted to try something a little different and so had the axe-wielding monster hold her still twitching head for a few seconds afterwards, revealing her moving eyes and open mouth. This was achieved by a hole being cut into the wall with which the actress, Jenny Neumann, would place her head through. A prosthetic body was then placed below her, with the artificial neck created from mortician’s wax, which the axe could simply slice through.

Despite all of the difficulties that had dogged the production, the filming of Hell Night was a surprisingly enjoyable experience for all involved. Many of the actors would enjoy various genre appearances throughout the rest of the decade, with Neumann starring in the hit science fiction show V and Blair enjoying success in Chained Heat and Savage Streets. The movie was released theatrically on August 28 1981 and became another victory for Yablans, who would soon follow it with a return to the Halloween series. Over the years, Curtis has expressed interest in either a sequel or a remake to Hell Night, despite the fact that the Garths were not created as ‘re-usable monster.’ He even considered bringing back Blair, who would now play a school teacher, but as his features still operate outside of the union and DeSimone is a member of the Director’s Guild he would not be returning. But at this time, a return to Garth Manor has not been approved.

 Hell Night promotional press photo of Suki Goodwin.

Film Facts: Filming took 40 days.

Several residents of Redlands, California, were hired as extras. Kimberly Crest, the mansion in Redlands where much of the film was shot, was also the locale for Fleetwood Mac's 1987 music video, "Big Love". Despite the depiction in the film, Kimberly Crest has no underground tunnels.

The majority of the movie was shot in three locations. The outside of Garth Manor was shot at a mansion in Redlands, California. The inside of Garth Manor was filmed in a residential home in Pasadena, California. The frat party was filmed in an apartment lobby in Los Angeles, California. The mansion used as Garth Manor is now a museum in Redlands--the owners made the change from private residence to a museum shortly after filming was completed.

The hedge maze was brought in, as there was no actual garden maze on the mansion property.

The two actors who portrayed the Garth killers are not listed anywhere in the credits, and their real names remain a mystery. However, on the DVD commentary, it is noted that they are both German nationals whom spoke little or no English, and that one of them (the middle aged bearded man) died shortly after the release of the film.

Hell Night promotional press photo of Vince Van Patten and Suki Goodwin.

Hell Night is considered a slasher film.

The filmmakers had a hard time with the owl that was supposed to fly directly at the camera. They couldn't get the bird to do it, so they eventually settled on a shot of the owl flying to the upper right of the camera.

Though there were several shots of actors running from the front of the house to the front gates, the distance between the two is actually one mile.

The many underground tunnels shown were actually two separate corridors in which the director had the actors running repeatedly through them from different angles.

This was the last film released by Compass International Pictures (Halloween (1978), The Day Time Ended (1979), etc.).

Future director Frank Darabont (The Blob, The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption, etc.) had one of his earliest film credits on this movie, as a Production Assistant.

Actress Linda Blair on the set of Hell Night.
 
The film was nominated for a Razzie Awards for Worst Actress for Linda Blair.

Frank Darabont is a writer and developer for the hit TV series AMC The Walking Dead. He developed 52 episodes and written 3 episodes.

Future film director Chuck Russell, who would helm A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors & the remake of The Blob in 1988 and 2002's The Scorpion King, served here as an executive producer.

The scene where Jeff (Peter Barton) is thrown down a flight of stairs and hurts his leg didn't require much acting on Barton's part; he actually did hurt himself, and his limping was due to the fact that he was really in pain from his injury.

Of course, you can't really refer to this (Hell Night) as being a good film. But, I really enjoyed it. It's an 80's slasher, produced in-between two Halloween films. The only reason of this film's existence is to raise more money, so you can't be too demanding for plots, logic or credibility. In it's own specific category, this is a more than decent film. Hell Night is very underrated film. I can name you over a thousand similar films that are worse but only a few that are better.

Hell Night original 1981 newspaper ad.
 
It's amazing what a competent director (Tom DeSimone – specialized in 'Women Behind Bars'-flicks) and a devoted cast (Linda Blair!!) can achieve. There are quite a few suspenseful sequences in Hell Night and the gore is not exploited for once. The settings are decent but sometimes underexposed, which is a bit of a shame. Overall, this a lot more tolerable than the average flick in which teens are slaughtered by the dozen.
 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Blob (1988, USA)

Directed by: Chuck Russell
Produced by: Jack H. Harris, Elliott Kastner
Screenplay by: Chuck Russell, Frank Darabont
Story by: Irving H. Millgate
Based on: The Blob by Theodore Simonson, Kay Linaker
Starring: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark, Joe Seneca
Music by: Michael Hoenig
Cinematography: Mark Irwin
Editing by: Tod Feuerman, Terry Stokes
Studio: Palisades, California Inc.
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Release dates: August 5, 1988
Running time: 95 min
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $19 million
Box office: $8,247,943
Plot: Remake of the 1958 horror sci-fi about a deadly blob from another planet which consumes everyone in its path. A strange lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows. Teenagers try in vain to warn the townsfolk, who refuse to take them seriously. Man is no longer the supreme being on this planet.

Info: The Blob is a 1988 monster horror film written by Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont, and directed by Russell. It stars Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch, Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark and Joe Seneca. This film is a remake of the 1958 film, The Blob, which starred Steve McQueen.

Screenwriter Frank Darabont first met director Chuck Russell in 1981, while working as a production assistant on the film Hell Night. Before working together on The Blob, the two also collaborated on the script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Actor Del Close had been scheduled to direct a "mock opera" about Ronald Reagan at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts during the filming of The Blob. The opera, entitled Ron Giovanni, was to feature the writing of Tony Hendra and the music of Paul Jacobs in a story that combined details of Reagan's life with the story of Don Juan.



The Blob original 1988 trailer.

Rehearsals were to run during November and December of 1987, with an opening date of January 22, 1988. However, the production was cancelled by Lincoln Center's artistic director Gregory Mosher, out of concern that the show's satire was not as funny and unbelievable as some recent actions performed by the real Reagan, such as the controversy over his visit to the German cemetery at Bitburg housing the bodies of members of the Waffen-SS.

As a result, the Chicago-based Close was unexpectedly available to audition for The Blob in New York at a time when Russell was conducting auditions in the city. Fortuitously for Close, he had recently written a blob-themed story for the DC Comics horror anthology Wasteland, while Russell had just watched an example of Close's work as the in-flight movie on his flight in to New York, Brian DePalma's The Untouchables. Close had worked in the past as a fire eater and human torch, and he was set on fire for some insert shots within the film. He also lost a substantial amount of weight at the request of Russell, dropping from 198 pounds to 173 pounds during the course of the production.

Production began on January 11, with the cast and crew of approximately 150 staying at a Travelodge in Abbeville, Louisiana. Due to the large amount of night shooting, the cast often slept during the day. On off days, they watched videos at the hotel and ate crawfish, a popular item of local cuisine.

The Blob 1988 VHS distributed by TriStar Pictures.
 
Special effects in the film were handled by Tony Gardner. Gardner was originally supposed to provide only a few small effects, but after personnel changes he ended up running a crew of 33, including artist Chet Zar and mechanical effects designer Bill Sturgeon. Close's makeup for his role as Reverend Meeker required extensive preparation time: five and a half hours for scenes where Meeker had fresh burns, and seven and a half hours for scenes after his burns had healed.

The film functions as a conspiracy theory film. The threat of the original film was an alien entity from outer space. The remake differs in making the threat a biological weapon, created by a secret government agency. The Blob is closely followed by soldiers and scientists in protective suits. The change reflects the mentality of a more cynical era. The sinister government agents are opposed by rebellious teenager Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon). His depiction as a rebel and a "tough guy punk" includes wearing a leather jacket, sporting long hair, driving a motorcycle, and distrusting authority figures.

Jacqueline Foertsch argues that the blob of the original film served as a symbol of communist ideology. The more "deathlike" 1980s version served as a metaphor for the AIDS pandemic. The dull-red colors of the original changes here to a glistening, pearly grey. The change makes the creature resemble a mucous membrane. While the original creature rolled and lumbered on, the newer version slides and strikes aggressively, using phallic tentacles.
BeastPop: The Art of Jared Moraitis. This art was featured as a Fright Rags t-shirt design. Jared Moraitis, better known by his alias, “BeastPop" is a North Carolina native. Jared’s work is extremely reminiscent of vintage/ retro illustration and design work, which he has played off successfully repeatedly. He is also known to have done t-shirt artwork design for the metal band The Black Dahlia Murder.
 
The original blob was a singular organism which increased its size, strength, and velocity by feeding. The newer version not only enlarges itself, but also splits into multiple parts. Allowing for simultaneous attacks in multiple locations. Indeed the largest part of the creatures is eventually frozen and contained. But a crazed preacher hoards a few shards, implying the survival of the threat.
Foertsch calls attention to another significant shift from the original. The blob invades the bodies of its victims. Then springs from the remnants of a previous host to seize a new victim. For example, Vicki is infiltrated by the creature and becomes its host. When Scott reaches to touch her breast, the creature emerges to engulf him.

The film was released theatrically in the United States by TriStar Pictures in August 1988. It grossed $8,247,943 at the box office. The Blob received mixed reviews from critics. As of January 17, 2014, it holds a 61% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.8/10.

The Blob had some outstanding makeup affects, thanks to Tony Gardner and his makeup crew.
 
The film was released on DVD in the United States by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in September 2001. It is also scheduled to be released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time in October 2014.

Film Facts: As a Theater patron in the second row, left of center, during the wide shot of the Theater audience reacting to an on-screen fright. Chuck Russell makes a director cameo.

Two minor roles were played by Playboy Playmates. Vicki De Soto was played by Erika Eleniak (July 1989) and Susie was played by Julie McCullough (February 1986).

Bill Moseley has a minor role. He's credited as "soldier no. 2"; he is the panicky, hurt one who Brian and Meg run into in the sewer. The one who says "It got the both of them." Bill is the soldier wearing the bio-medical suit that is trapped in the sewer with the two main characters.

Rock salt was dyed purple to create the crystallized Blob for the ending of the movie.

Of the film's US$19 million budget, US$9 million went toward visual effects.

The motorcycles used by Kevin Dillon in the film are a 500cc T100R Triumph Tiger and a 200cc T20 Triumph Tiger Cub for the jumps.

All of the exteriors for the movie were shot in a small south Louisiana town called Abbeville. Abbeville is laid out almost exactly the same as Arbeville, Colorado, where the movie takes place. Abbeville was used because filming took place in late 1987 and Arbeville was covered in snow. It's just a weird coincidence that the names are so similar.

Mentioned in Bill Watterson's comic "Calvin & Hobbes", when Hobbes asks Calvin if they can watch "The Blob" on TV.

Theatrical trailer shows part of deleted scene in which Fran is chased by the blob through the restaurant. In this deleted scene she is running towards the doors while the blob is knocking down tables and chairs. When she gets to the doors she realizes that they are locked and that she doesn't have a key so she jumps out the window.

The sheriff was named after famous jazz musician Herb Geller.

The Blob Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. This rare CD, featuring music composed by Michael Hoenig, is limited to 2000 copies.
 
The credits at the end of the movie are pink colored to match the monster's color.

Donovan, who plays Paul Taylor, had to have a full body cast made of himself for one of the more complicated scene where Paul underneath the blob. There were about 50 people running the unstrung Paul. However, 'Chuck Russell' did not tell Shawnee Smith it was really Donovan underneath the Blob for the first part of the scene. She believed it was going to be an unstrung person. This was so he could get more of a shock out of her. That is the take that is now seen in the movie when Meg screams out Paul's name upon discovering him.

The film, co-written by Frank Darabont - who has adapted a number of Stephen King's works for the screen - contains several references to King's novel 'The Stand':

• In the novel, a viral "superflu" is engineered by the U.S. government in a biological weapons laboratory that is accidentally unleashed, resulting in a worldwide pandemic; in the film, the blob is likewise the result of experiments in biological warfare accidentally unleashed by the government. Additionally, though the government agents know the blob's true nature, they tell the citizens of Asheville that they are dealing with a highly contagious disease.

The Blob makes the cover of Gorezone magazine, issue #3.
 
• Kevin Dillon plays Brian Flagg; the demonic Randall Flagg appeared in several of King's novels, making his first appearance in THE STAND.

• The blob's first victim, the homeless man, is credited as "Can Man," a reference to the STAND character "Trash Can Man." Trash Can Man was Randall Flagg's most devoted follower; in this film, Can Man shares nearly all his scenes with Brian Flagg.

Michael Kenworthy fondly recalls on-screen sister Shawnee Smith as his first major crush in real life. According to him, "She and I hit it off pretty well... Whenever she went to hug me, I'd give her the hug plus a kiss. That *always* made her blush!"

Shawnee Smith ("Meg Penny") was once asked whether or not the producers remembered to heat the sewer-water she plunged into while fleeing the Blob. Chuckling, she answered, "Well, they TRIED."

Everything that was awesome about 50′s creature feature movies is in this movie and then amplified with pure 80′s cheese. It’s a blast! This version of The Blob is not just a great remake, but is also a very solid, well-made, tremendously entertaining monster movie. As much as I may bitch about the plethora of remakes these days, I wouldn’t mind seeing so many of them if they were all as fun as The Blob.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It’s Alive (1974, USA)

Directed by: Larry Cohen
Produced by: Larry Cohen
Written by: Larry Cohen
Starring: John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, James Dixon, William Wellman Jr., Shamus Locke, Andrew Duggan, Guy Stockwell, Michael Ansara
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography: Fenton Hamilton
Editing by: Peter Honess
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Release dates: October 18, 1974
Running time: 91 min
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: Unknown
Box office: $7.1 million
Rentals: $6,900,000 (USA)
Plot: Heavily pregnant Lenore Davis tells her husband, Frank, that she is in labor. They leave their eleven year-old son Chris with their friend Charley and they head to the Community Hospital. Lenore feels that something is wrong and delivers a monster that kills the team in the delivery room and escapes through a skylight. Lieutenant Perkins comes to the hospital to investigate the murder and the press divulges the identity of the parents. Frank discovers a dark secret about Lenore and the baby.

Info: It's Alive is a 1974 American horror film written, produced, and directed by Larry Cohen. In the movie, a couple's infant child turns out to be a vicious mutant monster that kills when frightened. Notable talents involved in the movie were Bernard Herrmann who composed the score (noted for his work on many films of Alfred Hitchcock) and Rick Baker for makeup and puppet effects.

The film was a financial failure in its initial 1974 release. Three years after its original release, it was reissued with a new advertisement campaign. The new 1977 TV advertisement showed a baby carriage with the music "Rock-a-bye Baby" playing, then a claw came out and a voice-over said, "There is only one thing wrong with the Davis baby. It's alive". The new ad drew people into theaters, ultimately earning Warner Bros. $7.1 million in U.S. domestic rentals.



It's Alive original 1974 trailer.

Although some countries such as Finland banned the film, the movie received a MPAA rating of PG in the United States. It originally received an 18 certificate in the UK that was recently lowered to a 15. It originally received an R rating in Australia, where it has been lowered to an MA rating. It received an R16 rating in New Zealand.

Relative to the movie, the movie-tie-in novel and two film sequels expound on the dangers of various prescription drugs administered to expectant mothers during the 1950s and early 1960s (i.e. Thalidomide), the use of fertility drugs, and the indirect use of pesticides on people. No doubt, Cohen was inspired by the various and possible iatrogenesis, mutagen, teratology effects of these drugs on the unborn baby—especially when these drugs were used either in succession or combination. Fictionally, the mother of this story—Lenore Davis—had a history of taking combined oral contraceptive pills prior to planning her second pregnancy, whereupon she instead began taking an inadequately tested fertility drug to facilitate the conception of her second child.


















It's Alive 1974 VHS distributed by Warner Home Video.

It's Alive has two sequels and a remake. It Lives Again (AKA It's Alive 2), the first sequel was released in 1978. The film was written and directed by Larry Cohen. This film continues with Frank Davis (John P. Ryan) still reeling from the death of his child and the part he played in it, sees his chance to atone by assisting other would-be parents of mutant children. He tries to warn soon-to-be parents Jody and Eugene Scott of the vast and dangerous conspiracy to murder their baby and the other unborn mutant children who are being born around the country.

It's Alive III: Island of the Alive, released in 1987, it was also written and directed by Larry Cohen. This film occurs years after the first two. The monstrously deformed children are now living on an island. During 2008, the film was remade in Bulgaria, with Bijou Phillips as the creature's mother.

Promotional photos of the baby creature from Larry Cohen's It's Alive.

Film Facts: Bernard Herrmann titled the music cue where the milkman meets his demise "The Milkman Goeth."

It's Alive is also known as Baby Killer in Denmark.

The film is also blessed with one of the last soundtracks to be composed by Hitchcock favorite Bernard Herrmann.

It's Alive has been spoofed in South Park: Cartman Joins NAMBLA (2000), Kenny's nightmare is based on this movie and Hell Baby (2013), a killer baby parody.

Presumably It's Alive was inspired by Rosemary's Baby (1968) and a desire to see what happened next. The poster even repeats the image of the pram (though there isn't one in the films). But rather than link this mutant baby to religion, Cohen switches the probable cause of abnormal size and psychosis to manmade - suggesting food additives, pollution, and radiation.


Bump in the Night Productions It's Alive baby creature puppet. As seen at Little Shop of Horrors.

Amazon: It's Alive Latex Puppet (Bump in the Night Productions) - $50.68

Director Larry Cohen creates a thoughtful script about the effects of our environment on our reproductive systems in this thoroughly predictable yet immensely entertaining film. A father and a mother expecting rush to the hospital to have their second child. The only snag is that when the baby comes out of the womb it has razor-sharp fangs and claws with which it kills every doctor and nurse in its reach before fleeing the scene. The effects by Rick Baker (who of course became one of the top effects guys in Hollywood and did the work on Star Wars, An American Werewolf In London, Men In Black and so many more) are rather cool-the baby puppet is creepy. The film is full of insights and revelations as to what may be someday as we abuse our environment and use chemicals to sustain life.

The father has a conversation in the waiting room with other expecting fathers. This conversation covers the ill-effects of pesticides, drugs, and other additives we use in our daily lives. The film uses the baby as a means to move action. With a distorted camera lens, we see things in the world through the eyes of this mutated infant. Initially the father wants to kill his beastly progeny. The police want to pump it full of lead. The doctors and drug companies want it destroyed to negate any possible backlash. A university professor wants the carcass for study when captured. Cohen shows us the underbelly of humanity.

It's Alive poster art print by Jon Smith.

The people surrounding this infant are often no better than the child. All they want is gain...and it matters not at whose cost. John Ryan plays the introspective dad and does a fine job with this rather difficult role. He plays an ad executive who begins seeing the good in things and then slowly sees only the stark horror of his own life, his family life, his job, and his child. The other actors all do credible jobs. Cohen obviously likes horror as he names the wife Lenore and has the father talk at length about the novel Frankenstein. The production values and budget are minimal, but the film has a lot of heart where it counts.

Photo credits: Little Shop of Horrors (London, KY)