Tuesday, 30 October 2012

An Interview with SHIVER producer Robert D. Weinbach by Paul Worts

“There’s a lot of obstacles in the way of making a movie; it’s like fighting a small war.”

Shiver producer and screenplay writer Rober D. Weinbach began his film career in Spain as producer of Platero & I (based on the Nobel Prize winning book by Juan Ramon Jimenez). Subsequently, he produced and co-authored two other films in Spain. One, Hallucination Generation starred George Montgomery and a young actor by the name of ‘Danny Stone’, aka Danny Steinmann, the director of Friday the 13th part V: A New Beginning.  The other film, Cauldron of Blood (aka Blind Man’s Bluff) starred the legendary Boris Karloff. Amongst his many other projects Mr. Weinbach co-authored and produced The Mutations (aka The Freakmaker) starring Donald Pleasence and Tom Baker, and directed by Academy Award and New York Film Critics winner, Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes, African Queen and Sons and Lovers).  Today he lives in Los Angeles and is a Directors Guild and Writers Guild member. Shortly after the screening of Shiver at the Raindance Film festival in London I caught up with the films’ remarkable producer and screenplay writer.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

An Interview with SHIVER director Julian Richards by Paul Worts

Julian Richards with Paul Worts at the Raindance Film Festival
Invited as an Official Selection for the 20th Annual Raindance Film festival, ‘Shiver’, directed by multi film festival award winner Julian Richards, was recently screened at the Apollo Cinema in London. Featuring an award winning tour-de-force performance by horror genre favourite Danielle Harris (Halloween, Hatchet 2, Stake Land) and a cast including John Jarratt (Wolf Creek, Rogue); Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow); Rae Dawn Chong (Commando, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie) and a soundtrack by ‘Re-Animator’ composer Richard Band, there were more than enough reasons for Fleapits and Picture Palaces to be there. Following the film’s screening and the director’s on stage Q&A, Paul talked exclusively to Julian.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

SHIVER - a review by Paul Worts

Adapted from Brian Harper’s 1992 novel by producer Robert D. Weinbach, Shiver is a psychological thriller starring Danielle Harris who once again finds herself being stalked by a seemingly unstoppable serial killer. 
This time her tormentor doesn’t wear a mask; nor does he bear the scars of a hatchet; but instead wears a mask of normality: at least at first glance. We first meet ‘Franklin Rood’ (played by John Jarratt) in a diner and witness his awkward and unsuccessful attempt to invite Kathy, a beautiful waitress (Nikita Esco) out to the movies. Unsurprisingly rejected, something inside Rood snaps and whilst initially appearing to leave the diner, he is in fact waiting in his car for darkness to fall and for Nikita to finish her shift. Rood brutally beats Kathy to death in the car park, and with his until now latent bloodlust fully ignited, ‘The Griffon’s’ trail of slaughter begins.

12 years later and Rood has set his sights on ‘Wendy’ (Danielle Harris), a legal secretary who lacks the self-belief to ask her boss for a well-deserved pay rise; has a platonic relationship with nice-guy ‘Jeffrey’, and an incredibly unsupportive mother played by Valerie Harper. As Rood closes in on Wendy, and bodies begin to pile-up all around her, Detectives ‘Sebastian Delgado’ (Casper Van Dien) and ‘Mavis Burdine’ (Rae Dawn Chong) are left to deliver some fairly clunky dialogue whilst playing catch-up with ‘Rood’ using pre-digital 1990’s methods of investigation.

We’ve been here many times before of course, but director Julian   Richards (Darklands, The Last Horror Movie) just about manages to navigate a path through generic thriller clich├ęs whilst pulling off some genuinely unsettling and disturbing moments. Veteran Australian actor John Jarratt (terrifying in Wolf Creek) here gives a more restrained - if at times uneven - performance as Rood, with sudden outbursts of violence punctuating more quieter subtle moments of suppressed threat.  But the film is carried head and shoulders on the intense performance of Danielle Harris. Having faced-off against the likes of ‘Michael Myers’ (four times in total, including twice as a child), and having beaten deformed swamp-monster ‘Victor Crowley’ (Hatchet 2) into a bloodied pulp, it’s hard to be in any doubt that ‘Wendy’ will eventually find the strength and courage within to fight-back and overcome her tormentor. It is a testament to Danielle Harris’ award winning performance that the journey her character is forced to undertake is made more riveting than either the script or her onscreen nemesis fully warrants.

Filmed largely in rain-drenched Portland Oregon, director Richards makes the most of some visually arresting locations; gives us several powerfully visceral set-pieces and a deliciously macabre unveiling when killer ‘Rood’ treats ‘Wendy’ to his little ‘light-show’. Some ropey digital blood effects lessen the impact of a key shoot-out scene; law-enforcement officers seem to practically queue up to be dispatched by ‘Rood’, and naming a detective ‘Mavis’ really doesn’t work on a dramatic level. But Shiver is Danielle Harris’ film, and her performance alone is worth the price of admission.    

***(out of 5*)

See also: interviews with Shiver director Julian Richards, and producer / screenplay writer Robert D. Weinbach

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Mark Patton - An Interview By Paul Worts

Shortly before Mark Patton arrived in London to appear at the Entertainment Media Show and to host a very special evening at The Misty Moon Gallery, I caught up with the world’s first male ‘Scream Queen’ and star of Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.

Mark Patton is a fully paid up subscriber to the notion of serendipity. “I’m a firm believer that if one door closes it’s so another can open”. At the tender age of 11 Mark was offered a recording contract: “I could’ve gone onto become the first openly gay Country & Western singer!” (He had to turn it down due to his father’s objection to him singing in bars at such a young age). In 2011 Mark was scheduled to appear at a signing event in the UK for the first time but injured his back shortly before he was due to fly over which forced him to cancel. Oh yes, and in-between these two events 33 years apart, he would audition for a role in a low-budget horror film to be directed by Wes Craven. The part of Glen in Nightmare on Elm Street eventually went to a then unknown actor by the name of Johnny Depp... “You know at the time I was a bigger name then Johnny Depp. That was his first film. I’d already made Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean directed by Robert Altman, having previously performed the stage play on Broadway and Anna to the Infinite Power and Johnny Depp was just Johnny Depp. Nobody knew who he was.” [Johnny’s door certainly opened on Elm Street – even if he seems to have since forgotten this].  (cont'd...