Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kong: King of Skull Island News

Not real news, just a hint. The long-anticipated live action film of Joe DeVito and Brad Strickland’s illustrated novel, Kong: King of Skull Island appears to be still in play, with Andy Briggs writing the script. A report on a seminar on writing for Hollywood at this year's London Book Fair (in April) confirms that Briggs was working on the King Kong "prequel" at that time (Source).

Briggs, who commented that even European companies without Hollywood-level budgets were looking for "high-concept" projects,  defined the term as "whorishly commercial". Briggs pointed out that screenwriters are converting unsold screenplays such as 30 Days of Night into graphic novels. "You must do anything you can to help executives see the finished movie," he stressed. Hence the appeal of a Kong prequel, one can assume, the great monster ape being one of the World's most iconic figures -- and let's face it -- the graphic novel already exists and has a strong fanbase.

Elsewhere, the completion date for Kong: King of Skull Island has been given as both 2011 (IMDb) and 2012 (interview with Harry Marcos). I guess we wait and see.

Briggs has written several genre films, including the in-production Jericho (2010; dir. James Isaac), but we'll mention the TV movie Rise of the Gargoyles (2009) in particular, as it has monsters in it and gives us an excuse to include the following posters:

Research: Avery Guerra. Writing: Robert Hood

No Budget Horror: Werecoon

If Australia can have a were-marsupial in Howling III (Aust-1987; dir. Philippe Mora), why can't North America have were-raccoons?

Werecoon (release date to be advised)  is a small severely under-budgeted horror film made by Christina Thiele and her brother Ben Rio Thiele. Going on production shots available on the film's website, it was shot largely in a lounge-room, with occasional excursions into the great outdoors (the backyard). At any rate, it appears to have been made out of a great sense of fun and will no doubt be a hoot.


Original Trailer:

Daniel has been dumped by his girlfriend, scratched by an unknown creature and he is starting to -- change.
Werecoon stars David Wilson as Daniel/the Werecoon, here seen with co-star Ben Rio Thiele, who plays Keith:

Director Christina Thiele said of Wilson:
David Wilson was born to play this role. His research and dedication to the role is definitely seen in the film, and will be enjoyed by all. I hope you all enjoy his audition [in the video below].

Cassie Owsley plays Maggie (the girlfriend):
JoAnn Garrett plays the "young werecoon", here pictured with her co-stars and the director:

For more information on the stars, check out the Werecoon website.

Director and co-writer Christina Thiele commented that she "took this project on in my hometown with very few resources and only a few people to help out." In translating her lifetime love of monster movies, "with their absurdity, inventiveness and creativity" to film, she set out to give Werecoon a "B" movie feel and look.

Currently Werecoon is in its final stages of editing, during which time it will be given an original score.

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Budget Horror: Ghoul from the Tidal Pool

In his unremitting search for the best and the worst of ultra-low budget film-making, Kaiju Search-Robot Avery has discovered a beauty -- Ghoul from the Tidal Pool (US-2010; dir. Burgundy Featherkile).  Even the director concedes that it may be one of the "best" bad films of all time. Made through Featherkile's determination and a structured re-organisation of no experience, little knowledge and an indomitable spirit, along with the combined efforts of the entire citizenry of the Oregon coastal village of Yachats, Ghoul makes other guerilla film-makers look like rabid monkeys.

"It's so bad it's horrible!"

A cantankerous librarian reluctantly joins forces with a red-blooded, All-American boy and his bodacious grandmother to lead their isolated coastal village into a ruthless scuffle with a Ghoul from Hell!


Desperate to get to the bottom of this horror, Avery travelled the length and breadth of the internet to interview Burgundy Featherkile. What is revealed will shock and horrify you!

Here is Burgundy herself -- the face of evil incarnate:

Avery Guerra: When did you know that you wanted to become a filmmaker?

Burgundy Featherkile: The insanity struck shortly after I finished reading Robert Rodriguez's book/diary Rebel without a Crew in 2008.

AG: Who are some of your influences/idols?

BF: There are many great directors who educated me by example. Including but not limited to (as the lawyers say) Gene Wilder, Ron Howard, Paul Bartel, Clint Eastwood, Val Lewton, Spielberg, Alex de la Iglesia, Irvin S. Yeaworth, and Guillermo del Toro.

AG: Where did the idea for this film Ghoul From the Tidal Pool come from?

BF: I came away from a "White Elephant" party with an incredibly ugly, star-shaped, metal thingy designed so candle light could shine out through the perforations along the arms of the star.

As a devout recycler I was in a quandary -- should I stoop so low as it throw it in the garbage? My husband, Dave Baldwin (author of Snake Jazz and Limbic Hurly-Burly), came to the rescue with the suggestion that I could make a horror film and use it as the monster. The original script was written by Dave; it was about one page in length and included a lot of sock puppets and screaming. He really likes sock puppets. After laughing a lot, the script was put on a shelf and forgotten. Then my granddaughter, J.H.S. Featherkile, told me how thrilled her co-workers were when she told them that her cool Granny was making a horror movie. Oops! A Granny will do virtually anything to retain her "cool" status, so the movie project was promptly set back on track.

AG: How would you best describe the film?

BF: It's a tardy entry in the 1950s horror genre, and was strongly influenced by The Blob. Ghoul From the Tidal Pool is the product of a community effort to show off our community and have a lot of Yachatian-style fun. It shows many of the popular businesses and local scenery, as well as approximately 223 residents of, and visitors to, Yachats, Oregon.

AG: Some may say that the film looks to be a strong contender for the "best bad movie of all time". Was that ever your intention while you were filming? What would you say to this?

BF: We set out to make a really bad movie, and clearly succeeded.

AG: What would you like the audience to take from the experience that is the Ghoul?

BF: I hope that anyone who sees the movie will recognize that over 200 people got together to prove by example that anyone can do something they've never done before, learn something, have a lot of fun, and have something to show for it when they're done.

AG: Where did you find the cast and crew to make your movie? Can you tell us a bit about them?

BF: What a crew! There was a small core group of locals who helped me move equipment and set up scenes; and they all appear in the movie, most of them as leads or in strong supporting roles. Even if they hadn't planned to be in front of the camera, they ended up there because we always needed more people than showed up to be in a scene. Many of the bit parts were done by people who passed by and turned their heads to look as we were setting up or shooting; the next thing those gawkers knew they had signed a release and were standing in front of the cameras! Everyone who was in and worked on the movie was an unpaid volunteer. The title song was written by a member of the "Polka Dots", a local singing group and performed by them in the studio of one of our fine local artists. We had two cameras and I operated both; I ran back and forth between them while both cameras were taping.

AG: How did the production go? Any funny or horror stories from the set that you'd care to share?

BF: The film is dedicated to the late Andrew Batchelder, our Ghoul Wrangler Extraordinaire, who also appears in the film as Zeke, the drunk. Andrew wrote his own scene and co-directed it as well. His part of the scene was taped on one day, and the General's part was taped a couple of months later. I learned several important things about editing when I set out to make it look like they were talking to each other.

There was only one person (in 223 participants) involved in the movie who didn't have a good time. We were scheduled to tape the last few major scenes of the movie when I received an email from "The Librarian", who was supposed to be the main character of the movie, saying:
"It is now 4:33 am and I have been suffering from the most extreme panic attack. I simply cannot continue with this movie, it is just too much."

My blood pressure rose significantly until about 10 minutes later when I decided that with some re-shooting, and shifting the lead to the young man who was originally the Librarian's sidekick [Jordan Ostrum, pictured below], we could still limp through to the end. It wasn't the story I wanted; it was a story I could live with.

AG: As a monster fan, I'm always interested in a monster's origin. Where does the Ghoul come from?

BF: That question actually comes up in the movie. Watch for it in the early part of the party on the upper deck of the house with the bomb shelter in the garage. The answer, of course, is "from the tidal pool". In the second part of the movie, you discover that there is actually an army of ghouls, mutated by strange chemicals in a secret military (possibly underwater) facility that's been in the mythical village of Yachats for 50 years. We don't really have anything like that, of course. (At least, not that we know of.)

AG: I believe there are some references to Japanese giant monster films in
Ghoul -- even a scene in Japanese with subtitles!

BF: The scene in Japanese was a tribute to all those wonderfully bad Japanese horror movies from the 1950s and 1960s, plus an opportunity for Japanese speakers to share an inside joke, knowing that the subtitles are completely different from what they're saying. The Japanese people who did the scene were so young that they didn't recognize the names of any of those monsters, except for Godzilla.  It was one of my favorite scenes to tape; they were very charming as they took my English script and translated it into Japanese, deciding who would say which lines.
For reference, this is what the Japanese were really saying:
MIDORI: Did you hear the girl in the chicken suit warning people?
JIRO: That was odd. And did you notice that their "wise woman of the woods" sounds like Nostradamus.
CHIKAKO: I feel like I'm in the middle of a 1950s horror movie.
YOICHI: And it’s a bad movie! How can making a few locals and tourists disappear compare to the destruction of Tokyo!
MIDORI: Rodan could fly in and grab off their Ghoul, just as an appetizer.
JIRO: I suppose that next they'll kill their monster.
CHIKAKO: Our Godzilla is a real monster. He always comes back.
YOICHI: Even Gamera and Ghidrah keep coming back.
MIDORI: Hmmm. I wonder what these people will do for a sequel.
[Note: Rob: The adjectives used to described Japanese tokusatsu of that period are purely those of the interviewee. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Editor of this site. Wonderful, yes. Bad, no. -- Avery: Perhaps Burgundy meant: "those wonderfully bad US edits of the great Japanese monster films of the 1950s and 1960s."]

AG: What have the reactions to the film been like so far? Has the community where the movie was made been very supportive of it?

BF: The movie's Premiere in April 2010 was completely booked out just 9 days after it was announced, with some people flying in from other States for the event. Yachats, our neighbors in Waldport, and our visitors support the movie strongly. After all, many of them are in it! Hundreds of copies of the DVD have been sold at "Mari's Books and..." and at the "Drift Inn", both of which are in the movie. We've had monthly showings in Yachats with large and enthusiastic audiences. October 30, 2010 will be the last one.

AG: So what's next for you? Any other films in the future perhaps other monster movies or a return to the Ghoul?

BF: Who knows what my future will bring in regard to movies or anything else? The Ghoul is still sitting in the garage, still as ugly, and I've not recanted my belief in recycling so I am still in my original quandary. At present, I don't intend to do another movie unless there's money to hire a crew. I'm 73 years old now, and I think I might not have the energy to take on another big all volunteer project.

AG: In closing is there anything else that you'd like to say?

BF: Making the Ghoul was a significant learning experience for me, both technical and managerial. One of my friends commented that the ability to produce this project was probably much more significant than directing it. And, having done it, I'm inclined to agree.

Ghoul from the Tidal Pool was shown free at Yachats Commons on May 22 and June 19, and is due for a rematch on October 30, 2010. 

It is also available on DVD-on-Demand from Amazon. Click on the cover image below to enlarge.

  • Sources:; IMDb; Burgundy's Facebook page. Many thanks to Burgundy Featherkile for giving so generously of her time and thoughts. 
  • Interview and research by Avery Guerra. The rest by Robert Hood.

Addendum: Auditions Scenes

Addendum 2: The Theme Song

In the tradition of the Burt Bacharach and Mack David theme for the 1958 monster flick The Blob (the best part of it, I reckon), here is the 1950s-style theme for The Ghoul from the Tidal Pool, sung by the "Polka Dots":

Friday, October 15, 2010

Update: Waiting For Gorgo

Waiting for Gorgo, scripted by M.J. Simpson and directed by Benjamin Craig, is a short film that draws its inspiration from the UK's best-known -- and probably best -- giant monster film Gorgo (UK-1961; dir. Eugene Lourie).

You can read about it on Undead Backbrain.

Frankly it looks excellent, even if -- as I suspect -- Gorgo herself may not appear in person. After all, Godot never turns up in Samuel Beckett's surrealist masterpiece, Waiting for Godot -- which Simpson and Craig's giant monster film is obviously referencing.

Here's the new trailer:


Source: Official website via Avery

Trailer of the Vampire Women

Here's the new trailer for Planet of the Vampire Women (US-2011; dir. Darin Wood), brought to you by the folk behind Monster from Bikini Beach (US-2008; dir. Darin Wood). This is, in fact, the PG version, the alt version with nudity and such having been removed from YouTube due to violation of their puritanical rules on sexual content. It's a pity really. It had many good points. But this one's pretty good, too.

Just remember, it's more terrifying than science fiction!

For more details, see this early Undead Backbrain article, where you can check out the cool poster.

Thanks, Avery.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Demeking is here!

So today Demeking: The Sea Monster [aka Demekingu; Space Monster Demeking] (Japan-2009; dir. Kôtarô Terauchi) hits DVD in the US.

In 1969, a young man finds an anonymous letter in a glass bottle which describes the apocalyptic arrival of a cosmic monster known as Demeking. Since then, he has physically prepared himself in a lone struggle for that fateful day when the monster will arrive. 
In case you haven't been paying attention and want to know what the monster Demeking looks like, well, he's a sort of undersea/space Gastropod -- a snail-like monstrosity with eyes on stalks and what looks a bit like coral vents on his back.

Here he is from a distance and direct from the movie:

Here are models of him -- puppets used as part of the SFX collateral:

Finally, a Demeking toy:

Cute, eh?

Information on Demeking from Undead Backbrain and Undead Brainspasm:
Source: Various via Avery. Wriiten by Robert Hood

Friday, October 8, 2010

Raiga is Here!

We've been talking about Raiga, the Monster From the Deep Sea [aka Shinkaijû Raiga] (Japan-2009; dir. Shinpei Hayashiya) for sometime now -- just check out these posts from Undead Backbrain and Undead Brainspasm!

Hayashiya's follow-up to his own confusingly titled Shinkaijû Reigô [aka Deep Sea Monster Reigo; Reigo vs. Yamato; Reigo the Deep Sea Monster vs. The Battleship Yamato] (2008/2005) is at last coming to DVD.

Sixty years after the monster Reigo battled the famous Yamato battleship on the high seas, global warming causes the southern polar ice cap to gradually melt, disrupting the ecosystem and luring ancient sea monsters to Japan. An enormous sea monster called Raiga enters Asakusa from the Sumida River and begins to rampage through the city. The army is called into action.

Already available even in the West, is the soundtrack for Raiga -- and Kaiju Search-Robot Avery reckons the image suggests the existence of a "Mecha-Raiga" who "flies like Gamera":

Hmmm, I guess we'll see.

You can download the album from Amazon UK now.

Meanwhile, here's the main theme song, performed live by a typically perky J-Pop girl group, the members of whom also feature in the film:

Beloq are some production pics. It's always cute to see shots of the director and crew interacting eye-to-eye with giant monsters:

Raiga to Hayashiya-san: "Hey, can't you read no-smoking sign!"

"Help! I'm being absorbed into Raiga!"
On set
"Can someone show me to my dressing room?"
Raiga has already inspired some excellent fan art, not least of which is this sculpture by "Fossy" (see more of it here):

And for those of you who can read Japanese, here's a one-sheet advertisement for the film (click to enlarge):

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Update: Death Kappa images

Death Kappa (Japan-2010; dir. dir. Tomoo Haraguchi) is a new kaiju film that uses traditional suitmation methods to create its giant monsters in retro 1960s style and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray in the West. Check out the original Undead Backbrain article and these Brainspasm postings for details on this most recent Gojira wannabe.

Below we provide a bunch of images from the film, including funky new cover art, though I'm uncertain what it's for as the DVDs are already out and appear to sport the above image.

Image Gallery: