Sunday, January 30, 2011

New: Germ

In the tradition of 28 Days Later... comes a new zombie apocalypse flick where the undead epidemic is basically a viral infection, as the title suggests. It's called Germ (US-2011; dir. John Craddock) and is in the final stages of post-production.

The military's attempt to shoot down an orbiting satellite unleashes an alien virus on a small town in upstate New York, an epidemic that frees humanity's most primal urges -- such as cannibalism -- and turns its victims into "zombies". A deputy named Max and his girlfriend Brooke must battle their way through an army of infected townsfolk and soldiers as they struggle to save themselves and their loved ones from a horrible death.


Germ stars Marguerite Mitchell, Michael Flores, and Mark Chiappone.

Some commentators argue that the term "zombie" refers to those who aren't actually dead but have lost their self-control and hence identity to madness. I'm not one of these commentators. The not-really-dead type I refer to as "Near Dead" and consider the films that use such cannibalistic maniacs to be related to the zombie apocalypse sub-genre, in that they utilise many of the same tropes, but not actually zombie films. Pedantic, I know, but sorry, folks, zombies are dead by definition.

We're yet to discover if we're dealing with the not-quite-dead-but-crazily-cannibalistic or the dead-but-cannibalistically-re-animated in Germ, but finding out looks like it might be fun. The orbiting satellite idea is reminiscent of a scenario suggested in Romero's seminal Night of the Living Dead (1968), which of course started the whole zombie apocalypse thing and changed zombies from Haitian slaves or vengeful ghosts into cannibalistic -- and virulent -- corpses.

The "zombies" of Germ are clearly of the non-shambling kind, at any rate.

Short Production Film:

  • Sources: John Craddock via Avery Guerra; News item; IMDb. Written by Robert Hood.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New: The Niles Monster

OK, folks, this is definitely a tease -- we don't even have a plot summary for this one. But you know, there's definitely something effectively creepy going on here:

What do we know? Not much. The film's called The Niles Monster, produced and directed by Steven LaFontaine.  It's coming soon. From all appearances it has a cryptozoological bent, featuring a monstrous beastie that's haunting the city of Niles, California (which happens to be most famous for being "the original Hollywood").

La Fontaine sees The Niles Monster as sitting in the tradition of the 1950s B-horror genre. He has  more to say about it in this clip from a local creepshow horror program, Creepy Kofy. Notably he says that as Milpitas has a monster (see Undead Backbrain), he thinks it isn't right that Niles, "the original Hollywood", doesn't have one, too -- and he plans to right that wrong:

For your information, the following gives you some idea of Niles' claim to being "the original Hollywood":
But it was the arrival of Essanay Studios in 1912 that truly put Niles on the map and in the history books as being the "first" Hollywood. Broncho Billy, owner of Essanay Studios, started making films in and around Niles. He shot over 300 films during the studios four-year run in Niles. Broncho Billy shot many train robbery and chase scenes in Niles Canyon and around the town of Niles. Actors Ben and Carrie Turpin, Wallace Berry and Chester Conklin were seen around and about Niles as they worked on Broncho Billy's films, but the most famous actor to grace its streets and history was Charlie Chaplin. The highly acclaimed "The Tramp" was filmed right in downtown Niles on Niles Boulevard. (from Travel Destinations tourism website)
Anyway, The Niles Monster is still in production, with some interesting developments occurring on a daily basis. LaFontaine revealed this bit of gossip:
We're close to getting a free special effect shot courtesy of a gentleman who let us film on the property where you see the armed search party. Can't give away too much info on that. However, I can say that it involves the demolition of two large brick towers. Should be fun to film. We may have to sacrifice a camera for the impact shot.

And he said this about the titular monster:
I've been advised that I should never actually show the monster. But I want the beast in the film. All of my favorite B horror films show the monster and the more jacked-up the better, although of course I believe in building suspense. I'm leaning towards puppetry and some CGI, depending on the scene. What it's like? Well, it's a quadruped (think An American Werewolf in London), and as to size I haven't figured that one out yet. But as you can see from the poster, it's a giant angry mutant opossum!
The website can be found here. And, yes, there's t-shirts for sale.
  • Source: Steven LaFontaine via Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Exclusive: Journey to the Centre of the Tay

The Scottish giant monster spoof, Terror ‘Neath the Tay! (UK-2009; dir. Kyle Titterton) — which Undead Backbrain revealed in depth here -- was reportedly the first in a trilogy. Well, true to his word Kyle Titterton, the director, has sent us news of the first sequel, Journey to the Centre of the Tay, which he expects to be released in about three months' time.

Titterton commented:
As you can see from the poster the monster, this time is a plesiosaur -- like 'Nessie' from Loch Ness -- though seeing as it inhabits the Tay estuary it gets dubbed 'Tessie'. Because of this we managed to get media rights to The Drop Kick Murphy's song "Tessie" -- which is actually the official theme song for the Boston Red Sox! Daft but there you go... However, there is a brief cameo featuring the monster octopus from the first film...

New Trailer:

Titterton told us that Tessie, when she arrives, will be created via CGI. He added:
I have some shots but I'll hold off till we're finished -- but she's looking pretty good. Overall the scale and scope is bigger though it'll still clock in around 45-50 mins, certainly under the hour mark. It does indeed form part of the Tay Thrill-ogy, the final part being: The Land That Tay Forgot! which I'll make if this one is at all successful.

It is taking a lot longer than I had planned though I think it's been worth taking our time as unusual opportunities have presented themselves -- such as getting hold of a tank, more ambitious SFX, as well as getting a few British celebrity cameos. We managed to get Lorraine Kelly to do a cameo.
Kelly, though "completely unknown across the pond" is "the Queen of morning talk shows" in Scotland.

Titterton is currently pursuing screening possibilities, including a North American premiere, and a DVD release. Undead Brainspasm will keep you informed.

Source: Kyle Titterton via Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood.

First Lake Van Teaser Trailer

A teaser trailer for the Turkish lake monster flick Van Gölü Canavarı [aka Lake Van Monster] (Turkey-2009; dir. Bünyamin Yaşar) has just surfaced. If you can't recall anything about the film, there are two Undead Backbrain articles here and here, and some production footage on the Brainspasm.

Even after seeing the trailer (which is not subtitled), I don't feel any the wiser about how the monster fits into the story, though we're assured it does.

Meanwhile, here are some more stills:

Source: Avery Guerra

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Underground Lizard People?

Urban legends concerning reptilian humans living on the outskirts of society abound. Some are aliens. In fact, there's a rather large cult of "believers" who see alien reptilians hiding beneath the skin of world leaders -- all part of an invasion plan that has been pottering along for some time, apparently. Metaphorically astute, yes, even if you're skeptical about the theory's literal reality.

Others speculate on the possibility of reptilian humans as an evolutionary offshoot from the dinosaurs. Leaving aside issues of genetic incompatibility, this idea does rather ignore the well-accepted fact that dinosaurs weren't reptiles. Still, reptiles or not, dinosaurian-hominid hybrids make for a neat exercise in imaginative paranoia.

Here are two other accounts of reptilian humans, supplied by Jared Cohn, who is directing an upcoming documentary-style film on the subject.
Hopi Indian Legends
The Hopi Indians of northern Arizona have traditions that recall a time when their "Snake Brothers" built and occupied underground cities in Arizona, California, Mexico and Central America. Once such underworld city is believed to have been built on the west coast, near the Pacific ocean, under Los Angeles, California.

The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp
South Carolina is home to one of the most perplexing creature sightings reported in modern times. The animal, known as the “Lizard Man”, was seen several times around Scape Ore Swamp, outside of Bishopville in Lee County. Could this lizard man be an animal from prehistoric times, who has escaped detection by inhabiting the rural swamplands? And if not, then just what is it?

Cohn's film centers around a bunch of young filmmakers who encounter a race of reptilian humans in the sewers of Los Angeles. Here's one of the first interviews they recorded on the subject.

Commented the filmmakers:
Jacob Cohen worked in the Banning tunnels [a series of catacombs under downtown LA]. We met up with him to hear his side of what really happened. His testimonial may help us uncover the truth about the Underground Lizard People.
The upcoming film is Underground Lizard People, currently in post-production, and is described as "the true story of five documentary filmmakers who are attacked by a cannibalistic civilization of half human, half lizards!" Director Jared Cohn also wrote the screenplay with Ed Erdalac. It stars Caitlin Gold, Clint Byrne, Colin Walker, Lauren Klemp, Hugo Dillon and Courtney Hammond. (See full credits at the end of this article.)

The story of a group of passionate filmmakers who venture deep into the mysterious underground Banning Tunnels to unearth the truth regarding a series of disappearances. The group soon finds the answer to the mystery, a forgotten civilization of half human, half lizards!
Extended Synopsis:
This is a unique horror/thriller, based on real urban legends, that incorporates both narrative storytelling and documentary style interviews to show the viewer that these creatures really do exist among us. 
A group of passionate filmmakers, led by director Jason Watts, venture deep into the mysterious underground Banning Tunnels to unearth the truth regarding a series of disappearances. 
After a series of run-ins with some of the tunnel’s inhabitants including the childlike Roy and the mysterious Chip, the group soon finds the answer to the mystery, a forgotten civilization of half human, half lizards. 
The young film crew soon become victims of vicious attacks from the creatures and learn that they are lost in the maze of tunnels. They must run and fight for their lives to avoid making the Banning Tunnels their graves. (Press Release)

It is claimed that Underground Lizard People is "based on actual eye-witness accounts" and certainly the film's approach is the faux-documentary style that has become so popular since The Blair Witch Project made its huge paranormal splash back in 1999 -- though from the following official trailer this one is not nearly as chaotically jerky as Blair Witch and others that have followed, making it watchable for those whose stomachs don't handle all that irritating movement too well.

So, is this fictionalised fact or just another film that has embraced the faux-doco approach? Look for it later this year and decide for yourself....

Just keep in mind that there is a back-history to all this. In the early 1934, for example, a geophysicist mining engineer named G. Warren Shufel, working on assorted urban legends, put his own scheme for unearthing the secrets of the Underground Lizard People into effect. A report in the Los Angeles Times for  January 29, 1934 says:
Busy Los Angeles, although little realizing it in the hustle and bustle of modern existence, stands above a lost city of catacombs filled with incalculable treasure and imperishable records of a race of humans further advanced intellectually than the highest type of present day peoples, in the belief of G. Warren Shufelt, geophysicist mining engineer now engaged in an attempt to wrest from the lost city deep in the earth below Fort Moore Hill the secrets of the Lizard People of legendary fame in the medicine lodges of the American Indian.

So firmly does Shufelt and a little staff of assistants believe that a maze of catacombs and priceless golden tablets are to be found beneath downtown Los Angeles that the engineer and his aids have already driven a shaft 250 feet into the ground, the mouth of the shaft being on the old Banning property on North Hill street, overlooking Sunset Boulevard, Spring street and North Broadway.

And so convinced is the engineer of the infallibility of a radio x-ray perfected by him for detecting the presence of minerals and tunnels below the surface of the ground, an apparatus with which he says he has traced a pattern of catacombs and vaults forming the lost city, that he plans to continue sending his shaft downward until he has reached a depth of 1000 feet before discontinuing operations.
 Read the whole article here.

In case you live in the LA area and want to check out the tunnels for yourself, here's Shufelt's secret map (click to enlarge):

Underground Lizard People Credits

  • Directed by: Jared Cohn
  • Written by: Jared Cohn & Ed Erdelac
  • Produced by: Joe Accardi
  • Executive Producer: Ron Dubey
  • Director of Photography: Mike Bauman
  • Edited by: Mike Bauman & Jared Cohn
  • Gaffer: Albert Phaneuf
  • Associate Producer: Pete Raab
  • Makeup Artist: Ingrid Dubberke*
  • Makeup Assistant: Ashley Stewart*
  • Wardrobe: Patrice Zapiti, Nathaly Proano
  • Grips: Matt Prager, Zack Fox, Pierre Bonny, Tyrone Rhabb
  • Production Assistant: Dina Agusta
  • Sound Design: Chris Pinkston*
  • Music:
    Underground Lizard People: written and performed by Mother F’Nature*
    Prettier Than The Picture: written and performed by Mother F’Nature
Special Thanks: Eddie Reyes, Don Fizzinoglia, Jim Fauvell, Robert Sherwin, Jennifer Contino

  • Rachael: Caitlin Gold
  • Jason: Clint Byrne
  • Jack: Colin Walker
  • Lynda: Lauren Klemp
  • Cheryl: Courtney Hammond
  • Chip: Jared Cohn
  • Lizard 1: Hugo Dillon
  • Roy: Mike Baez
  • Tunnel Worker: Ray Soltani
  • Lizard 2: Pierre Bonny
  • Lizard Queen 1: Dandi Richard*
  • Lizard Queen 2: Ren Valentine*
  • Lizard Child 1: Christian Musto
  • Lizard Child 2: Brittany Falcone
  • Lizard Child 3: Chloe Falcone
  • Lizard 3: Joe Accardi
  • Lizard 4: Mike Baez
  • College Kids: Pete Raab, Nathatly Proano, Samantha Schwartz
  • Hooker: Ren Valentine*
  • Homeless People: Keith Abrami, Dost Khalique, Dean Glenn, Karyn Cohn
  • College Extras: Patrice Zapiti, Melissa Coreas, Frank Papik, Amy Choi, Jessica Mandel, Megan Conley, Stanley Hiresh, Suzy Chang, Gio Pietrobuono, Debra Milles, Vernon Skinner, Joseph F. Bate 
* indicates that it is subject to change

  • Eye Witness 1: Mike Pirozzi
  • Eye Witness 2: Michael Golden
  • Eye Witness 3: Angela Perri
  • Eye Witness 4: Bob Socci
  • Roy: Antonio Banx (Real Name: Rafael Guillen)
  • Professor: Jim Fauvell
  • Government Agent: Robert Yongren
  • General: Edward Lansdale

Source: Jared Cohn via Crypid Hunter Avery Guerra; Official website; Facebook page; the movie on Twitter; Traplight Media;

Friday, January 7, 2011

Exclusive: The Night of the Chupacabras

The chupacabra is a cryptid with a territory that centers on Latin American countries, particularly Puerto Rica and Mexico, though it has been sighted in the US as well. The name is Spanish and derives from two words meaning "goat sucker". Yes, it has a habit of drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats.

The chupacabra featured in the X-Files episode, "El Mundo Gira" and came up against the Scooby Gang in the film Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico. There have been several independent films featuring the legendary critter -- such as El Chupacabra (UK/US-2003; dir. Brennon Jones, Paul Wynne); Chupacabra Terror (US-2005; dir. John Shepphird); the Troma flick Legend of the Chupacabra (US-2000; dir. Joe Castro); Guns of El Chupacabra (US-1997; dir. Donald G. Jackson); Night of the Chupacabra (US-2005; dir. Ted Rivera), a sci-fi parody that interprets the chupacabra as an alien; and assorted other low-budget efforts. Coming up in 2011 is, apparently, a studio-based US horror thriller titled Chupacabra, starring Billy Zane, Daniel Stern and Daryl Hannah.

Cryptid Hunter Avery has located an interesting-looking Brazilian film featuring the Chupacabra, titled A Noite do Chupacabras (trans. Night of the Chupacabras). Directed by Rodrigo Aragão, it tells the story of a family feud sparked by something monstrous lurking in the jungle.

Synopsis (roughly translated):
A young couple returns to their land of origin in the interior of Espírito Santo in Brazil, a journey through forests and mountains full of mysteries, legends and natural beauty. Douglas Silva (Joel Caetano) finds his family upset over the mysterious death of their farm animals and old conflicts that have long plagued the area's rival families resurface. The Silva brothers are increasingly certain that the deaths were orchestrated by the neighbouring Carvalho family. However, Douglas' father knows that something more sinister lurks in the woods. With the families at war, they are faced with an evil greater than they can imagine. Between fights, chases, hunts and lots of shooting, the mythical creature, the Chupacabra, reveals itself for the first time. (Source)
Here is the teaser trailer:

Aragão's previous film was Mangue Negro, or Mud Zombies (2008), in which pollution of the local mangrove swamp causes zombie-like creatures to rise from the waters and do that thing that zombies do. (Source)

The Night of the Chupacabras, produced by Fábulas Negras Produções, is currently filming, and aims for a release date of July 2011. It is expected that it will have Spanish and English subtitles like the previous film.

  • Executive Producer: Hermann Pidner
  • Director: Rodrigo Aragão
  • Production: Kika Oliveira, Mayra Alarcón
  • Production set: Ana Carolina Braga, Kika Oliveira and Mayra Alarcón
  • Director of Photography: Secundo Rezende
  • Camera: Secundo Rezende and Dani Marchesi
  • Special Effects and Visual Effects: Rodrigo Aragão, Douglas Belasco, Murillo Ribeiro, Reginaldo Dallmaschio, and Alexandre Mello.
  • Set Designer: Giovanni Coio, Ulisses Debian and Walderrama dos Santos
  • Costumes: Mayra Alarcón
  • Continuity: Giovanni Coio
  • Editing Musical, Sound Design and Mixing: Hermano Pidner
  • Pyrotechnics and Electronics: Rodrigo Aragão, Alzir Vaillant and Jorgemar de Oliveira.

  • Chupacabras: Walderrama dos Santos
  • Kika Silva: Kika Oliveira
  • Maria Alicia: Mayra Alarcón
  • Mr. Pedro Silva: Markus Konka
  • Mrs. Clara Silva: Margot Benatti
  • Alzir Silva: Alzir Vaillant
  • Douglas Silva: Joel Caetano
  • Ricardo Silva: Ricardo Araújo
  • Jorge Silva: Jorgemar de Oliveira
  • Antonio Carvalho: Fonzo Squizzo
  • Ivan Carvalho: Petter Baiestorf
  • Agnaldo Carvalho: Foca Magalhães
  • Reginaldo Carvalho: Reginaldo Secundo
  • Raul Carvalho: Raul Lorza
  • Raul Child: Hector
  • Old Chico: Cristian Verardi
  • Mrs. Italia Carvalho: Margaret Galvão
  • Matilde Carvalho: Milena Zacchè
  • Mr. Tadeu Carvalho: Secundo Rezende
  • Mr. Otto: Afonso Abreu
  • Alvaro: Eduardo Moraes
  • Drunk: Hermann Pidner
  • Movie Extras: Giovanni Coio, Ulisses Debian.

Below is a gallery of images from The Night of the Chupacabras, showing the location, the cast and some nudity and gore, but not the monster. Producer Mayra Alarcón told the Backbrain that "the appearance of the Chupacabras is being kept a secret until the debut of the film. It will be our surprise for the public." Director Aragão, who wrote the film, also designed the creature.

Note that, according to Alarcón, "the image that looks like a zombie is our Man with a Sack [that is, O Homem do Saco -- a version of the Bogeyman], a Latin myth about an old man who kidnaps children".


Sources: Producer Mayra Alarcón; Cine-Monstro; Recursozero. Research: Avery Guerra. Written (with additional research) by Robert Hood.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Exclusive: Get on Ya Camel (Spider) and Ride!

Camel spiders -- you know, those nasty-looking spiders that have been one of the lasting B-grade legacies of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq -- get big in Jim Wynorski's latest non-T&A epic, Camel Spiders (US-2011; dir. Jim Wynorski).

Camel spiders are real, but have become the subject of a huge number of myths, especially after the following picture did the rounds of the blogsphere:

Big, eh? In fact, if you check the size of the barely visible hand holding the dead spider, it's not so big -- its apparent size being the result of forced perspective. Here is a neat list of current myths about camel spiders (collected on
  1. Camel spiders can move at speeds over 30 mph, screaming while they run.
  2. Camel spiders can be as large as a frisbee. 
  3. Camel spiders venom is an anesthetic that numbs their prey. 
  4. Camel spiders can jump three feet high.
  5. Camel spiders get their name because they eat the stomachs of camels.
  6. They eat or gnaw on people while they sleep. Due to the numbing effect of their venom, the victim is unaware until they awake.
In reality, camel spiders, which are not actually spiders as such but Solifugae and thus part of the Arachnida family along with spiders, scorpions and the like -- have a max. leg span of about 12 cm (4.7 in), with a body length reaching 7 cm (2.8 in) (which is bad enough, I reckon), and they run at speeds of up to 16 km/h (10 mph) (which is still rather impressive). They are mostly found in deserts -- and not just in the Middle East and are also known as wind scorpions or sun spiders. Apparently they don't scream, disembowel camels, anesthetize humans in their sleep and eat them, or any of that fun stuff. (Source)

Wynorski's camel spiders will, of course, veer toward the fun variety rather than the real ones (only bigger), as shown in this early teaser for the film [note: at the request of the producers, we've been asked to remove this teaser trailer from YouTube. Sorry, folks!]:

Ah, they're always fun, are giant spiders, even if they don't get to daikaiju size. Something to look forward to on SyFy.

Based on actual creatures that for years have tormented our armed forces in the Middle East, these creatures have invaded the southwestern deserts of the United States. The Camel Spiders now freely hunt for prey, unafraid of any predator - including man. No place is safe no one is beyond their paralyzing sting. In the end, a small band of hearty fighters are forced to make one last stand against the creatures. (IMDb)
A Roger Corman produced film for CineTel Films, Camel Spiders stars C. Thomas Howell (from ET, The Outsiders, Red Dawn, The Hitcher and in recent times assorted Asylum exploitation flicks), Brian Krause (Charmed, Beyond Loch Ness and the upcoming Area 52), GiGi Erneta (El Chupacabra, Risen, Fire From Below) and Rocky DeMarco.

Some Production Stills:

  • Source: Jim Wynsorki via Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood
  • Take a look at another upcoming "war against mutant camel spiders" movie called Extraction, featured a while back on Undead Backbrain.