Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Now Where Did That Astro-Zombie Come From?

As it happens, the fourth entry in Ted V. Mikels' Astro-Zombies series features skull headed Astro-Zombies that come -- somehow -- from cyberspace.

Astro-Zombies M4: Invaders from Cyberspace has just been confirmed as "in-production." Commented independent grindhouse veteran Mikels:
[It] is now officially in development ... I have identified a few key production staff members and we have begun story development. (Source)
Mikels told Undead Backbrain that this continuation of "the Astro-Zombie saga" is scheduled for a February 2011 start date.

Nevertheless, something has begun, as evidenced by the screenshots on this page and the teaser trailer below.

Produced by TVM Global Entertainment, in association with Blue Heron International Pictures, the film looks like it takes the franchise another rung up the ladder with some nifty possibilities in the SFX area.

"The world loves the Astro-Zombies," Mikels added.

Veteran screenwriter Cory Udler and Florida filmmaker Gary Lester is on-board as Mikels' creative story consultants, along with veteran TVM Studios actress, Shanti. Gary Lester will also serve as assistant director, with Blue Heron's Richard Lester as associate producer.

Ted Mikels News: AZ3 and Demon Haunt on DVD

Irrepressible exploitation director (and Salvador Dali look-alike) Ted V. Mikels may not have produced Oscar-winning films, but he has certainly been responsible for contributing a significant body of low-budget genre classics to the post-60s grindhouse tradition (see this Undead Backbrain article for details). Dodgy acting, cheap FX, simplistic stories, blood and gore, gratuitous violence ... say what you will, his films tend to remain in the memory of those who sat through them at the drive-in or watched them on scratchy VHS tapes rented from the local trash cinema repository. The fact that he is still making films with glee and passion has to represent the triumph of determination over reason, and as such is rather inspiring to independent filmmakers everywhere.

One of his fan favourites has always been The Astro-Zombies (US-1968), the tale of a machete-wielding, artificial, undead assassin that in a way defined the genre.

This was followed much later, in 2002, by a sequel -- Mark of the Astro-Zombies. In this one, the undead assassins have become the mutated servants of alien invaders. In 2009, Undead Backbrain looked at the coming of a second sequel, officially making the Astro-Zombies into a franchise -- Astro-Zombies M3: Cloned (see Astro-Zombies Back for More!)

These Astro-Zombies are the product of a secret cloning project by the US Government.

Now the film is available on DVD for your delectation, through

Official Trailer:
Extended Trailer:
Alternative/Early Cover Art:
Images (Promotional, production, screenshots):

A Collection of Clips and Production Videos:
More from Ted:
Also now available on DVD is Mikels' demonic horror film, Demon Haunt (see previous Undead Backbrain article):
See Trailer here.

Coming Soon! News of a fourth instalment in the Astro-Zombies saga. Watch this space!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Images from The Man Who Summons Kaiju

Here is a bunch more images relating to The Man Who Summons Kaiju [aka Kaijû wo yobu otoko] (Japan-2010; dir. Daisuke Andô). Some are production shots, some gag shots ... and one is an image from that key monster moment in the film, when the kaiju makes its presence felt:

 This one, however, isn't from the film!

The rest:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Update: Imagining the Monster

As a quick update on The Man Who Summons Kaiju [aka Kaijû wo yobu otoko] (Japan-2010; dir. Daisuke Andô) -- the 25-minute kaiju short film made for NHK television in Japan and soon to be broadcast there -- we have some conceptual drawings of the monster itself... and this, the first released shot of the actual monster from the film, as he drags his tail through the sand on his way back out to sea:

One of the interesting things about these conceptual drawings is that they not only give us a view of the kaiju as it will appear in the film, but are actual props from the film -- drawings made by the young filmmaker whose obsession with making a giant monster film manages to awaken a long-dormant "sacred monster" from the Yayoi period of Japanese history (c. 300 BC–300 AD).

This following image looks like it may be part of the film's actual storyboard. At any rate, it's a scene I want to see in all its glorious live-action spectacle!

In related news, apparently the SFX for The Man Who Summons Kaiju are being handled by Kiyotaka Taguchi, who did assistant digital FX work on Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Daikaiju soukougeki  [aka Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack] (Japan-2001; dir. Shusuke Kaneko), and built miniatures and set-dressed for Gojira tai Mosura tai Mekagojira: Tôkyô S.O.S. [aka Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo SOS] (Japan-2003, dir. Masaaki Tezuka) and Gojira: Fainaru uozu [aka Godzilla: Final Wars] (2004; dir. Ryuhei Kitamura). He also directed the short kaijiu films G (2008) and Chohatsu Daikaiju Gehara [Long-haired Giant Monster Gehara; Geharha, The Dark and Long-Haired Monster] (2009), as well as episodes of the kaiju TV series MM9. His 2D digital FX work appears in films as diverse as The Grudge 2, The iDol, Battle Royale II, the Sinking of Japan remake, Monkey Magic, the American remake of the Thai ghost film Shutter and the 20th Century Boys trilogy. Such an impressive resumé bodes well for The Man Who Summons Kaiju's monster!

Below Taguchi is at work on some very miniature miniatures for The Man Who Summons Kaiju -- with the monster artfully blocked from view:

Other new images from the film:

Director Andô (I think) and his two leads, Gen Hoshino and Nao Nagasawa

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bio•Slime Gets Contagious

The slimy horror film once known as Bio • Slime has undergone a name change.

Fangoria reports writer/director John Lechago as saying:
“Since [Cannes], Contagion was offered as the alternative title for the international market, and every buyer seemed to prefer that one ... We are making a point to include ‘John Lechago’s’ in the title—not because of my raging ego, but because there are actually a few movies out there called Contagion, including one coming up from Steven Soderbergh."

Doesn't seem like a great idea to me -- and it's much more conventional and uninteresting as a title. Oh, well. The film itself still looks excellent.

Meanwhile, here's the latest trailer:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Budget Horror: One Dark Night

One Dark Night is a short [10 minute] sci-fi/horror film that came about when three UK school friends dreamed of making it big in Hollywood -- and then decided that a step in the right direction was simply to make some enjoyable films and have a good time while doing so.

The plot is simple. When fragments from a small meteorite come crashing down all across the UK, all hell breaks loose -- in the form of alien bugs that hatch from the fragments and subsequently have a rather deleterious effect on human victims: the bugs bite and paralyze them, then crawl inside and take over the body. Victims' eyes go black and the skin turns pale. The creatures' main plan is, of course, to enslave mankind. And there's a lot of the little buggers.

Oblivious to what's happening around the country three guys are having a lad's night in watching their local football team playing on TV and drinking a crap load of beer. Their game suddenly gets disrupted when the picture on their TV dies.

Original Test Trailer:

We asked producer/director Paul Dowers about the project.
The script for this film and the film itself was originally written and shot in 1998 in hi8 format. As it was one of our very first attempts at making a horror/scifi film, we were never really satisfied with the outcome and our abilities at the time. Twelve years later I stumbled across the original script and decided that the time was right for a remake. Everyone else seems to be remaking old films, so why not us.
This time around we are slightly more experienced, with many short films under our belts.
Technology has also moved on so much in the last twelve years, which makes it easier for a bunch of amateur film makers like us to add our own special effects, such as the motion-tracked CGI zombie makeup, the meteor and bugs in this film.
The original "One Dark Night" was 9 minutes long.
Note: you can see the trailer for the first 1998 version of the film on Vimeo here.

How did Barking Mad Films come about?
At the time there weren't any video clubs in our area so we decided to start one ourselves. Our first film was called "Life's a Bitch", a comedy about an under-the-thumb husband who hires a hitman to kill his wife but forgets to insure her. Our second film was the original version of "One Dark Night". On and off we have made many films since these, each better than the last -- learning as we go and meeting some great people along the way.
The Future?
We plan to continue what we enjoy doing, that is, making movies and one day in the not-too-distant future we will be releasing a feature film. The script is being working on as we speak.

Meanwhile, the "remake" version of "One Dark Night" was completed about two months ago and Dowers is waiting to hear if it gains entry into the Newport international film festival. "If accepted," he commented, "it will be premiered in the first week of December at this festival. But it's early days yet and I plan to enter the film into other festivals, too."

Several early films from Barking Mad Films are currently featured on Undead Backbrain's Weekend Fright Flick: Paul Dowers Festival.