Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Animals Have Had Enough: Now They Rise!

A Backbrain Exclusive

The natural world turning on us has always been good for a scare or three. After all, according to Genesis (the first book of the Bible, not the band), God gave humanity "dominion" over the animals, so they should know their place, right?

Wrong! With power comes responsibility and humanity hasn't been exactly forthcoming in that regard. So an alien eggs the animals to get nasty in The Beast With a Million Eyes (US-1955; dir. David Kramarsky and Roger Corman), The Birds go berserk thanks to Daphne du Maurier and Alfred Hitchcock (1963), rabbits rebel in Night of the Lepus (US-1972; dir. William F. Claxton), and nature in all forms goes for the throat in Long Weekend (Aust-1978; dir. Colin Eggleston) and its 2005 remake. And that barely scratches the surface. It certainly doesn't even cover all those species that have never been inclined to refrain from biting and eating us, such as piranha, sharks, lions, tigers, bears, snakes and spiders small and giant-sized. Humanity might be at the top of the food chain, but it's a pretty tenuous thing.

Now a bunch of young filmmakers are looking to add to our natural paranoia with Rise of the Animals, under the direction of Chris Wojcik. A horror-comedy along the tonal lines of Evil Dead, Rise of the Animals tells the romantic tale of a young man, who, in a world where animals have turned on humanity, travels across the country in search of the girl of his dreams.

The above poster, put together "unofficially" for the film's premiere screening back in May last year, suggests semi-fantastical heroism (sans chain-mail) and an angry bear, but don't be fooled by those docile-looking deer in the background. The film's current tagline is "Bambi doesn't want a fucking salad". Assorted members of the family Cervidae, no doubt rather miffed about all those decades of sanctioned "sport hunting", have their own CGI-spawned agendas. At the very least, there will be blood.

Check out the teaser trailer:

After infiltrating an all girl's slumber party in a remote cabin, Wolf, an awkward pizza delivery driver spends a passionate evening with a beautiful teen named Samantha. The next morning Samantha is gone, and the cabin in the woods is attacked by a family of deer. After a brutal massacre the cabin is bathed in the blood and gruesome remains of deer and teenage girl. Wolf, his best friend Jake, and Jake's sister Rachel are the only one's left standing.

Wolf finds Samantha's cell phone amidst the blood bath, and the trio set out on an epic, cross-country journey to return the lost phone to the girl of Wolf's dreams. As animals across the globe turn on humanity and society quickly collapses into chaos, Wolf's determined spirit pushes him forward against all odds. But is she worth it?
Rabid animal activist Kaiju Search-Robot Avery (who is, I believe, a hybrid of man and mongoose) spoke to director Chris Wojcik about his film.

How did Rise of the Animals come about?
Chris Wojcik: The film started out as my senior project at film school, and it ended up exploding quite a bit beyond that. I didn't want to come out of four years of film school with just another short film about an awkward young man in love. So I blew it up to feature length and threw in animals attacking everybody to spice it up a bit.
What was your inspiration for Rise of the Animals?
CW: The idea to do a movie about animals turning on humans kind of came about as a way to do a twist on the zombie genre. So, Dawn of the Dead was definitely an inspiration, as was Spielberg's recent War of the Worlds movie ... which I think for the most part is an entertaining end of the world movie. And you'll definitely be able to spot a couple references to the Evil Dead movies in there. The deer attack scene in our movie was actually inspired by that bit in Evil Dead 2 when the deer head mounted on the wall comes to life.
Where was the movie filmed?
CW: We shot the movie in upstate New York. Every location was within about an hour of Rochester, New York.

What type of budget were you working with?
CW: The budget was extremely small, around $7000. We were in school at the time, so we had access to all of the school's equipment. Everyone worked for free. Honestly, more of the money went to feeding the crew and paying for gas than anything else.
How did you go about casting the film?
CW: The main three characters, as well as a large majority of the cast are played by friends of mine that were in film school with me at the time. So, the whole time we were shooting Rise they had their own projects going on, and I can't imagine how overloaded and stressed they must have been. But we made it work. Aside from friends and fellow students, I went to everywhere from Craigslist to local talent agencies to pull the rest of the cast together. You definitely run into some interesting people when you're using Craigslist to cast your movie.
Beyond the basic plot, what is the film about?
CW: At its core it's your typical teen, road-trip love story. But everyone's seen a million movies like that. The raging animals are in there to bring a lot more excitement to the whole thing. I mean, it's hard to go wrong when you have humans and animals tearing each other apart in every other scene. 

What all sort of animals are seen in the film?
CW: I didn't want to get too crazy in terms of how exotic the animals were. So you won't see lions and tigers. There is a bear, though. And they do encounter a gorilla at one point, but for the most part I wanted to keep it restricted to the sort of animals a typical American would run into in this situation. Deer, squirrels, household pets, birds, turtles, a giant croc, a horse, a sea monster … There's definitely no lack of animal action in this movie.
What types of fx were incorprated to bring the creatures to life?
CW: We used everything. CG, puppets, and real animals were all used. And a lot of fake blood. About 35 gallons worth.

When and where might fans be able to see it?
CW: The movie is being distributed by Midnight Releasing / Brain Damage Films, and it will be available on DVD later this year. We'll be keeping everyone up to date on our Facebook page (
So, what next for you?
CW: Right now I'm working on a script for another horror/adventure/comedy idea that I've had rattling around my brain for a while. I've also got a few cool ideas for a Rise of the Animals 2. So, that's always a possibility...
Produced by Whacked-out Entertainment, Rise of the Animals looks like it could be quite a B-flick hoot. Check out the following brief Behind-the-Scenes videos, one for each day of the main shoot (and two on Week 7):
Source: Christopher Wojcik via Avery Guerra. Facebook page; IMDb entry. Interview by Avery Guerra. The rest was written by Robert Hood.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Fair Zombie Trailer Starts to Sing

A Brainspasm Exclusive

Remember we promised details of Brett Kelly's upcoming zombie musical, My Fair Zombie some time ago?

Well, it's a comedic musical version of Pygmalion with a zombie twist. It stars Sacha Gabriel (singer of the lounge-core band My Tiny  Circus) as Zombie Elisa and Lawrence Evenchick (star of many stage productions in Ottawa, Canada) as Henry Higgins. Barry Caiger (Attack of the Giant Leeches) plays Colonel Pickering.

And the trailer has just gone live! Brief but tantalizing!


Check out the website for more details.

Source: Brett Kelly via Avery Guerra.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Getting Together for the Zombies: Dead Team

So some sort of zombie "event" happens and a large area of the US is declared a disaster zone and blocked off from the rest. Those inside are either dead, and shambling around looking for someone who isn't dead to eat, or they're in trouble. So a bunch of ordinary folk get together and take action, the aim of which is to free others who have got themselves cornered -- and maybe to escape from the dead lands. They are the Dead Team.

Writer/producer/directer Wes Young is the inspiration behind the new zombie apocalypse horror/action flick, which is currently in existence as a concept trailer, with money being sort to produce the full feature-length film. The trailer looks well-film and promising, despite some rather pointless quibbles on the part of some commenters on its YouTube site -- "pointless" because most of the criticism doesn't recognise the fact that a feature-length film is likely to have more detailed development than a teaser allows for.


Undead Brainspasm newshound Avery Guerra sought out Young to ask about both the film and the in-progress IndieGoGo appeal for funding.

Why this film?
I've been producing my own films for about 6 years now. I shot a short zombie film Dead Exit a couple years ago, which went to a bunch of festivals and won several awards. I also produced a pilot webseries A Cure for Dead that was pretty popular online. I came up with Dead Team because I wanted to continue with zombie films, but I also wanted to do something a little more like an Action Adventure movie. So Dead Team is a combination of Horror and Action Adventure.

Can you tell us what Dead Team is about?
In response to the viral outbreak five strangers discover that their everyday mundane skills can be adapted into hardcore zombie killing techniques. With the lack of military support for rescue, they use their combined skills in extraordinary ways to fight their way through the hordes of undead and make their way to a military safe zone.

Their journey to make it to a safe zone brings them across other non-infected citizens who are trapped by the undead. The group overcomes their fear and decides that they have to help. They put themselves in harm's way to save the people. The further they travel the more undead they encounter and the more people they rescue. Their trip gets detoured even further when they discover that the wife of one of the group members is trapped in a city 300 miles away. It becomes a race to save her and escape the dead lands alive.
Who's to be in the cast/crew?
Right now the only actor cast is Ilea Matthews. I've worked with her several times and she really fits this role perfectly. She was just in the film The Violent Kind and she recently finished shooting Sprawl with Michael Madsen and Jennifer Taylor. I also have brought on music composer Jeff Duran whom I have worked with exclusively since I started making films. He is extremely talented in picking up in the subtle emotions of a scene and he emphasizes them with his music. Ryan Goff who co-wrote and co-directed Dead Exit with me is coming on board as my master prop builder. He has skill making almost anything you can imagine and making it cooler than you thought it could be. He built his own full size R2D2 from scratch. Yeah, he's got skills.
How about telling us more about yourself?
I have always wanted to be a part of the film industry. I originally wanted to be an actor/stuntman. When I was younger I wanted to be Bruce Willis in Die Hard. After dreaming about it for a long time I tried to find a way to make it happen for me. I read an article in Back Stage West and it said that a good way to get known as an actor was to make your own movie and star in it. I ended up making my own Star Wars fan film called “A Deception of the Force”. I quickly noticed my lack of skill as an actor and realised it’s not what I wanted to do. I did however LOVE producing and directing my own movie. I knew quickly that I was going to be a director.
Who are some of your influences?
My earliest influence would probably be James Cameron. Mostly from back in the days of Aliens, Terminator 1 and 2, True Lies and The Abyss. I am a huge fan of action movies with a really solid dramatic subplot. Cameron has a real knack for that and that is one of the most important things I want to inject into my projects.
You have just put up a proposal for funding through IndieGoGo, with a target of $10,000. Why is it necessary?
We are looking for final development and pre-production funds. We have done a lot of the major steps to get this project fully funded but its an expensive process just to get a film moving along. While on the "no-budget indie" level you can get away with a lot by using people who will volunteer their time. We want to take this movie to the next level and actually hire professional people to help make this project amazing. Imagine that!
One of the biggest things that we need is to hire a legal representative. Movies are a huge business and there's a lot of paperwork and legal matters that need to be handled.
While we have some people attached to the project, right now I am heading up production development mostly myself and it is time to get some other professional people involved with the process. In film production it takes a good number of talented crew members to be hired on in the development stage to make the project go smoothly. We need a UPM, script consultants (to help make sure the script is perfect before shooting), budget consultants, makeup artists need to be brought on early to start designing the zombies, Special Effects experts need to be consulted to figure out the gags. Storyboard and animatic artists to get to work conceptualizing the look of the film, location scouts and other key personnel to put together a professional project.
Is $10,000 enough? That's just start-up, I guess.
Yes. If we can exceed our goal, any money we get over the amount will go into the actual final movie budget. Movies are expensive which is why we are seeking investors. However the more money we can raise through crowd funding the more we can bring to the table when speaking with investors. 
It would be amazing if we could fund the entire movie through crowd funding and create a zombie movie made by all the amazing fans out there. We ask you to look over the incentives and make a donation and help us fund this project!
If anyone reading this is interested in exploring investment in this exciting new zombie venture, you can read more about what you get for your dollar here. Meanwhile check out this campaign pitch:

Source: Wes Young via Avery Guerra; Official website.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Breaking News: Rat Scratches Appear on DVD

The breaking news is that Rat Scratch Fever (US-2009; dir. Jeff Leroy) -- which you can read about on Undead Backbrain -- is at last arriving on DVD and you can get a first look at the cover art right here.

The release date for the DVD is 10th April and it's coming to us through Media-Blasters' new horror label "Meat Shriek Show" and distributed by Allegro Media Group. You can pre-order the DVD here.

This is pretty exciting news for giant rat film fans (and who isn't?), as Rat Scratch Fever looks like a lively and affectionate entry into what is a long tradition of rat-based B-monster flicks.

As a side note, it should be said that our resident newshound Kaiju Search-Robot Avery votes for an earlier version of the artwork, as seen below (not that democratic processes are likely to enter into this!):

What'd you think?

Source: Jeff Leroy via Avery Guerra.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Jurassic Shark Trailer

More shark, more blood, more immersion in the monster shark subgenre...

See more about Jurassic Shark on Undead Brainspasm.

Source: via Avery Guerra.