EVIL in the Family Tree Makes for a Terrifying “Reunion” reviewed! (101 Films / Digital Screener)

Recently separated from her philandering fiancé, a pregnant Ellie moves in with her estranged mother, Ivy, whose staying at Ellie’s recently-deceased grandparents family home and packing up home furnishings to put the house on the market.  Strained with going through a pregnancy alone and tirelessly working on her theoretic book of modern medicine deriving from the roots of barbaric magic and medieval practices, Ivy pledges to take care of her while providing space to let Ellie continue research work, but the house lends to the painful memories long thought suppressed in Ellie’s mind, manifesting visions of her adopted sister, Cara, who died suddenly in house when they were children.  As the visions become more prominent, stronger, and real, Ellie questions her remorseful memories and her mother’s recollection of events that sheds light on her family’s horrendous secret of anatomical science.

From the start, the realization that Jake McHaffy’s “Reunion” isn’t going to be a happy one comes as soon as Ellie crosses the threshold into her late grandparents’ home and is immediately swathed with a blanket of unsettling ambiance.  The “Wellness” and “Free the Deed” McHaffy writes-and-directs his third film with a steadfast sense of dread in the New Zealand mystery-thriller that tackles human inbred themes of long suffering guilt, prenatal anxiety, and the role of an estranged family during a time of need.  McHaffy compounds layered fears by compositing them with the confines of an old dark and creaky house witness to all the past secrets.  “Reunion” is a production from a conglomerate of New Zealand and U.S. companies that embark on independent filmmaking endeavors by Greyshack Films, the strong female character supporting Miss Conception Films, Overactive Imagination, and Water’s End Films in association with New Zealand Film Commission, MPI Media Group, and Department of Post.

“Reunion” obviously isn’t going to be your typical relative gathering shindig with your bad joke-telling uncle wisecracking over his 10th Miller Lite or a nose picking brat of a cousin cheating at horseshoes near the pit; instead, “Reunion” a tightknit cast playing the roles of mother, father, daughter, and adopted daughter drawn together not by the sake of longing for bloodline companionship but by necessity and circumstance and imploding by the unfun games of revelations hidden inside the closest deepest and darkest of descendants. “Witches of East End” stars Julia Ormond in a nearly unrecognizable far cry of her more glamourous bewitching role in Joanna Beauchamp on the FOX produced Lifetime Television series. The English actress, who hails from Surrey, assumes the matriarchal presence of a helicopter mother overextending herself beyond the limits of her control in order to seize some kind of power she once had living in the archaic house. Ormond bounces off mother-daughter indignities with her sole child, Ellie, played by Emma Draper in her first feature lead performance. Thick tension between them causes reserved friction Ormond and Draper do well to nurture throughout while a stammering posture by “Lord of the Rings” actor John Bach as the wheelchair bound infirmed father adds a whole new layer of irregular rigidity to Ellie’s nerves and to Ivy’s patience. Aside from being blood related, father, mother, and daughter also have another thing in common – present in the moment of the death of Cara (Ava Keane). Peeling back each emotion output struggles, in a good way, to grasp the character mindset made murky by uncontrollable shaking and crying, sneaking and conniving, lies and deceits, and the disillusioned rambles that vortex around the house without pure clarity. “Reunion” rounds out the cast with Nancy Brunning, Cohen Holloway, and Gina Laverty as young Ellie.

Jake McHaffy’s “Reunion” has the hairs on the back of your neck standing from beginning to end with prolonged foreboding leading up to a shocking finale.  Between the manic and enigmatic performances from Julia Ormond and Emma Draper, a chance to rekindle the past feels like a distant thought and a lost cause being blockaded by the past’s poignant trauma they share.  McHaffy isn’t hesitant about revealing a stymieing history with flashes of image splices and flashbacks cut with an antiquated VHS-style playback producing a statically charged visual incumbrance.  The stress and strain burden’s Ellie’s pregnancy, dam breaking flood of memories, her research into the occult, and the surrounding chaotic state of the house contributes to teetering mental stability creating a visceral unintelligible and augmented reality that is too real for Ellie to keep an authentic perspective and the longer she stays and the more she’s immerse into Ivy’s poisonous maternal supremacy, only fabricating a new and scary world can Ellie dig herself out of her family’s troubling past.  There’s much going on in McHaffy’s story to be bog down fully understanding what you’re seeing and trying to piece together the puzzle is nearly impossible – I, frankly, still don’t understand much of it – but the beleaguered attention of beguiling imagery and that overwhelmingly wild ending entrusts “Reunion’s” place in psychological terror. 

Modern gothic has never looked this good as “Reunion” rises to be a stalwart of horror. 101 Films and MPI Media Group has released “Reunion” digitally this month of March, one year after the start of the pandemic that has kept families away from each other and when eases of restrictions set in that’ll shorten the gap between estranged loved ones that becomes a distressing reunion in itself. Quite a masterful brush stroke from director of photography Adam Luxton building the house into the frame and framework of the story, which goes hand-and-hand with a house that’s deemed a toxic surrounding symbolized by the black sludge that drips out of the sink and into Ellie, as well as crossing video outputs and weaving them in as well. Luxton’s imagery has formulation maturity that combines hard and soft lighting, blurring, a range of depth shots, delineated night scenes, and the capitalization of utilizing the clutter of boxes and knickknacks to tell an eclectic visual odyssey culminating toward an all-consuming finale. The 95 minute runtime film is presented in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio with no bonus scenes during or after the credits. “Reunion” creeps unsuspectingly into the skin, eyes, and soul as a metastasizing slow growth of appalling family drama.

EVIL’s Greatest Trick Was Convincing The World Giallo Was Dead. “Abrakadabra” reviewed! (Cauldron Films / Blu-ray Screener)


In Milan 1951, a prestigious magician, Dante the Great, is tragically killed when a deadly trick goes wrong. Fast forward 30 years later, the magician’s son, Lorenzo Manzini, has trouble finding his own success following his father’s footsteps as a struggling magician. The night before his grand debut, a woman has been gruesomely murdered on the very stage his father had died. As a compulsive gambler and an excessive drinker in over his head in debt, Manzini goes on with the show, but the events following his performance inspire a grisly, sadistic murderer to uses magic tricks to kill and point all evidence toward him. Hounded by a mysterious, chain-smoking detective, a frantic Manzini must split his efforts toward his own investigation into the murders, but as the bodies start to pile up and the evidence grows even more against him, there may not be anything left in Manzini’s bag of tricks to prove his innocence.

In the old traditions of an Italian murder-mystery, “Abrakadabra” is the 2018 released giallo inspired film from the Argentinian filmmaking brothers, Luciano and Nicolas Onetti, along with Carlos Goitia serving as the third wheel scriber on the script. The trio have worked previously on one other project from 2017, another horror of course, with the haunted ruins premised, “What the Waters Left Behind.” With the Onetti’s being brothers, their collaboration runs deeper, sharing an affinity for the genre that has inspired the duo to collaborate on another giallo thriller, “Francesca” in 2015 and “Deep Sleep,” where Nicolas served as producer to Luciano’s writing and directing duties. “Abrakadabra,” as well as “Francesca,” are not only far cries from the haunting and terrifying reminiscence of the ruins in “What the Waters Left Behind,” but also varies in direction, cinematography, and production design that more in lines with giallo hallmarks, such as extreme closeups, awkward camera angles, and posh interiors. “Abrakadabra” is a production of the Nicholas Onetti and Michael Kraetzer New Zealand founded company, Black Mandala, and another Nicholas production company on a more localized level with Guante Negro (Black Glove) Films co-founded with brother, Luciano.

Despite being dubbed in a fine-tuned homage of an Italian overlay track, the actors involved are hail from South America, as where the film is shot. The story centers around Lorenzo Manzini, played by German Baudino (“2/11: Day of the Dead”), and Baudino shepherds Manzini toward the brink of desperation, spinning out of control from the malevolent forces that seem to be binding his hands to gruesome murders. Baudino captures the marks of the giallo fervor in his animated performance, especially when running through a memorial park with arms flailing and a streak of fear across his face, but since it’s a murder mystery swarming around Manzini, the magician’s encounters with other rich characters comes key to unravelling Manzini’s dubious circumstances. His lovely assistant Antonella (Eugenia Rigon), the lurking chain-smoking detective (Gustavo Dalessanro), and a hospice-housed convicted murderer (Abel Giannoni) become cryptic pawns that turns “Abrakadabra’s” into a deadly game of chess soused deep into the thralls of a calculated whodunit. The remaining cast, including Clara Kovacic (“Jazmin”), Ivi Brickell, Raul Gederlini (“Francesca”), Pablo Vilela, Alejandro Troman, and Luz Champane, are perhaps the weakest link in the chain to hold “Abrakadabra” back from being a well-rounded giallo. There presence seemingly come into the fold without much creditability to their substance toward the story are, some of them, are easily dispatched with the same loosy-goosiness that firmly dilute their characters.

You have to give the Onetti brothers tremendous credit. Their attention to detail techniques, production design, and overall wardrobe schemes accomplished a toppling feat in taking the natural aesthetics, textures, and sounds of an Argentinian setting shot film and transformed all the blatant aspects to resemble an Italian giallo filmed in Italy from the 70’s or 80’s. Yet, does the veneer alone make “Abrakadabra” a good giallo film or just an immaculate carbon copy? The Onetti’s certainly know enough to exact a perfect replica as seen in “Francesca,” which was my first experience with the Onetti brothers, but “Abrakadabra” is a step backwards form “Francesca” from a story standpoint with some mishmash editing and character underdevelopment around the midsection of the second act that immobilizes the story from going forward properly, leaving the lead character Manzini in a circular rut rather than a tailspin to the climax. The prologue of Dante the Great’s accident and the twist ending that harks back to a opening Harry Houdini quote, “What the eyes see and the ears here…the mind believes,” solidifies as the best riveting acts of the Onettis’ film that becomes equalized negatively by a drab dynamic interior. In any case and though an Argentinian production “Abrakadabra” is an invigorating slice of Italian cinema with razor-sharp characteristics and a well shrouded and gloved killer.

Open sesame on the inaugural, limited edition Blu-ray, release of “Abrakadabra” from the new genre distributor on the block, Cauldron Films, who plans to release a full slate of cult films from 70s and 80s in the coming months. Limited to only 1000 copies, the Blu-ray release will include inserts of promotional artwork, a limited edition high quality slipcase with original poster art, and a CD soundtrack with music by Luciano Onetti. However, I won’t be able to review in full the finished package or the audio and video qualities as this review is based off a disc screener, but I can tell you reaffirm that DP Carlos Goitia’s scenes are amazing well established, lit, and a glimpse into the past. The Luciano Onetti score can be invasive at times, but a pure product of the electro-synth rock that goes hand-in-hand with the giallo cinematography. Audio options include an Italian 5.1 surround sound, and an Italian and English 2.0 stereo that come with optional English and Spanish subtitles. Accompanying the unrated 70 minute film is the theatrical trailer and raw behind-the-scenes footage without subtitles. As Cauldron Film’s maiden release, “Abrakadabra” is anything but hocus-pocus with a bloody homage to Italian giallo films complete with a vital synthesizing soundtrack and a shocking twist finale.

“Abrakadabra” Available on Prime Video!

Where Does Evil Stand in the Post-Apocalypse? “Blue World Order” review!


Nuclear war had demolished the quiet rural areas harboring bio-engineering plants and has crumbled societies in a post-apocalypse. The nuclear fallout caused a deadly bacteria to thrive and spread amongst the region, wiping out millions of lives in its path. A group of scientists seek to rebuild the devastated population by devising a plan to send an electromagnetic pulse that will directly input inhibitors in the brain to block the bacteria from overwhelming a dwindling human race, but the success of the pulse came with a severe cost involving the death of every child on the planet. Also embedded in the pulse is a mind altering virus that encoded itself into every person’s brain to act as a mind control device. The only person virally immune, a fallout survivor, is a struggling father, Jake Slater, trying to protect his adolescent daughter, Molly, at all cost as she’s the only child left on Earth due in part to her father’s immunization. Malevolent creators behind the virus aim to get their hands on Molly and experiment on her immunization before inevitably releasing upon the world a much more sinister version of the virus from the pulse tower that only Jake can destroy.

“Blue World Order” is the martial arts, post-apocalyptic, science fiction flick from first time feature directors Ché Baker and Dallas Brand. Baker and Bland co-wrote the screenplay with Sarah Mason that flaunts a major concept, perhaps better suited as a major Hollywood studio concept, but wouldn’t quite cross that threshold of positive public opinion stemmed from cramming too much into the a non-stop, action-packed contiguous acts laid simply out to illuminate an aged old theme of power hungry Government against meager do-right resistance. To further add on top of all that doesn’t feel right about this film, we’ve all seen this film before or, perhaps, a similar rendition of it. The 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme film, one of many Van Damme guilty pleasures, “Cyborg,” blends martial arts with a futuristic wasteland decimated by a deadly plague and while the gritty and dark “Cyborg” carries itself vastly different from Bland and Baker’s more flashy and glossy approach, the story’s core is virtually the same with oppositions desiring to save the world for an interior motive.

Since this is an Australia production set on location in Australia, seems like a no brainer that Melbourne born actor, Jake Ryan (“Wolf Creek” the television series), would snatch the lead of Jake Slater. Ryan’s beefy build and rugged appearance have him a prime candidate for a hero, a fighting father, in a world in turmoil, but the way the film’s edited, Ryan comes off a bit aloof and a droll warrior. Ryan is joined by a few other familiar Australians and New Zealanders such as Jack Thompson (“Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones), Bruce Spence (“Mad Max”), and Stephen Hunter (“The Hobbit” trilogy) as a screw loose rebellion leader with a awful martial arts stand-in that dons a lighter shade wig. There’s also Billy Zane. Zane, a native of Illinois, has a knack for hitching himself onto foreign products; his last venture we reviewed was a Greek production entitled Evil – In the Time of Heroes, but Zane’s a remarkable actor whose able to morph into the essence of any character, especially characters that sport lopsided power like his character Master Crane, a martial arts instructor turned catastrophic savior post-fallout. The cast rounds out with newcomer Billie Rutherford, Kendra Appleton, and Bolude Fakuade.

One headache smoldering as a consistent motif throughout is the lack of character development. Before his calling as the one to save humanity, a dream sequence exposition touches upon Jake Slater’s time before nuclear war. Slater’s seen engaging in a friendly, if not slightly competitive, martial arts bout with instructor Master Crane. The two have an important, intrinsic history, involving Jake contracting a debilitating disease and able to bounce back with rehab through Master Crane’s teachings, that goes sorely unexplored. Most likely, the lack of development can be a direct result of the aforementioned with too much jammed into an already cluttered heap that jumps from one thought to the next without a proper seque. Even the introduction and the removal of characters has a nauseating sway. For example, when Stephen Hunter’s Madcap is introduced, he suddenly runs up to a fleeing Jake Ryan and the overweight, disheveled, rambler is able to best the physically fit, martial arts instructed, desperate father in more than one occasion. More instances like these can be exploited throughout, but we could be here all day breaking down the details or lack there of.

Random Media delivers Ché Baker and Dallas Brand’s fantasy-action “Blue World Order” onto DVD and VOD nationwide. A DVD-R screener was provided and can’t officially comment on the presentation or the audio tracks, but if there’s one issue to be said about the image quality, the special effects are horrendously Sy-Fy channel cheap with superimposed flames reaching six feet high in a monolithic-like pose. With effects like that, the indie Sci-Fi picture’s intended purpose is to solely entertain on a round house kick and uppercut punch level and not to invoke too much thought into a series of concepts. Instead, to sell the next Billy Zane installment, the selling point long shot of a “Back to the Future” Delorean car chase through the Australian desert is nice and attractive and proven to work. Shoddy blaster sounds and crumbling CGI put the last few straggling nails into “Blue World Order’s” vast coffin for a film that aimed really high for the bar but missed really low with unfocused material and devastating plot holes on a world-ending scale.

Rent “Blue World Order” at Amazon Video today!

Evil Scores Big by Burning Rubber! “Death Race 2050” review!

vlcsnap-00027
In the dystopian America of 2050, commercialism presides over the middle and lower classes in the constructed wasteland that is United Corporation of States led by an impeccable and blood thirsty Chairman. A popular, carnage-laden sport known as the high octane Death Race has become beloved by all Americans, giving them an escape from their mundane and pitiful existence. The Death Race is simple: war-modified cars trek across the United Corporation of States in a 3-day race to score points by running down citizens of an overpopulated nation as an encouraged way of resetting the out of control producing rate and racers can also seek glory to reach the finish line with best time. Four-time champion, Frankenstein, is the returning crowd favorite and seeks to win a fifth crown, unless the powerful and conniving Chairman decides otherwise.
vlcsnap-00034
Under Universal Studio’s filmic sequel and reboot sublabel, Universal 1440 Entertainment’s “Death Race 2050” is a rip-roaring start toward 2017’s best intense action cinema and despite being pre-labeled as just another diluted and benign remake of the Roger Corman produced, Paul Bartel directed “Death Race 2000” from 1975, the modern day G.J. Echternkamp directed and co-directed film with Matt Tamashita honorably doesn’t lose the rich, yet full of cheap thrills, heritage that makes the original “Death Race” so fun, so entertaining, and so campy keeping the pandemonium on four high-performance, face-shearing tires. Even though Death Race has been quiet for over thirty years since 1975, the last decade has been riddled with Death Race films produced by the legendary low-budget filmmaker Roger Corman and all have been complimentary exclusive in their charm, mayhem, and versions of the lead character Frankenstein to thrill audiences, but it’s “Death Race 2050” that revs in true remake fashion of similar plot structure that changes all but one character.
vlcsnap-00045
New Zealander Manu Bennet carries the torch in portraying the original character Frankenstein, a four time champion with a leather covered body that’s been ravaged and cybernetically repaired from previous race crashes. Manu’s charisma and rugged image will win over audiences as he perfectly embodies a conflicted champion on the brink of doing what’s right; a tone very similar in all “Death Race” films. Manu is paired with actress Marci Miller, as Frankenstein’s passenger proxy, who dishes out the good girl sex appeal with a self-reliant rind. Beyond these two characters, even with a moniker like Frankenstein, the remaining characters make Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” a college course of rocket science! Deliveries were timely, actions were precise, and performances couldn’t have been more meticulous in scenes with Jed Perfectus, the genetically engineered and ambiguous pretty boy played by Burt Grinstead, Minerva Jefferson, the wealthy ghetto rapper forged to life by Folake Olowofoyeku, and with Tammy the Terrorist, a cult leader with a celebrity high power portrayed by 2007’s “The Signal’s” Anessa Ramsey. The relatively unknown cast is whole-heartedly glued together by the flamboyant performance of “Clockwork Orange’s” and “31’s” Malcolm McDowell as the Chairman.
vlcsnap-00063
One could take a good stab in the dark on what the quality of the effects would be like for any Roger Corman produced film. In this instance, “Death Race 2050” channels much of Corman’s style with Echternkamp and his visual effects supervisor Anthony J. Rickert-Epstein (“Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf”) supplying rotoscope blood and dismemberments that pin-pricks a visual stimulate into the vein of the snobbiest of film aficionados and can be on an everlasting high. The simple, but effect, gasoline based pyrotechnics attest to the dedication of the crew and to the stunt work to know that if they miss their spot, they’re literally toast. However, the sometimes choppy, rapid editing drains some of the juice from the kills that attempt to piece coherent death sequences with humor and action. In fact, “Death Race 2050” redlines just like the modified, manslaughter vehicles used to rundown babies and the elderly to score points by quickly jumping to the next segment in order to sustain all the gory story’s girth.
vlcsnap-00062
“Death Race 2050” is adrenaline flowing wildly adjacent with gasoline, exploding with gore, and is terrifically enjoyable. Echternkamp’s script bares no sense with the sensitivities, secreting American wealth, greed, and stupidity in an environmentally degraded America filled with large high fructose corn syrup soda, an addictive cheese whiz byproduct, and borders that are named after corporate conglomerate of brands such as Walmart or Texaco. Universal’s R rated Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD release of the New Horizon film is an 1080p of the 1.78:1 widescreen presentation that makes the film look cheap due it’s hi-def attributes. The image quality is sleek and vibrant with a wide range of rainbow hues and the definition doesn’t ever thrown in the towel. The three option audio selection that consists of an English DTS-HD Master Audio has a lossless appetite that delectable distinguishes the channels where explosions are bombastically LFE and the gory parts are viscerally squishy. The dialogue is surprisingly clear through the amount of chaos. Bonus features include “The Making of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050,” “The Look of 2050″ featurette,” a closer look at the cars in a segment entitled “Cars! Cars! Cars!,” a cast car tour, and deleted scenes. Even if the story’s timing is a spastic, “Death Race 2050’s” a guilty pleasure from start to finish line under the caustic cinematic eye of Roger Corman!
vlcsnap-00064

Buy it today on Bluray/DVD/Digital HD!

Its Bloggin’ Evil Interviews I Survived a Zombie Holocaust’s Harley Neville!

hn
“Harley Neville is an Actor, Poet and Producer, his feature film credits include supporting roles in Second Hand Wedding and Older as well as lead roles in the films Ghost TV and most recently I Survived a Zombie Holocaust in which his performance received rave reviews from critics. Harley is one half of the filmmaking duo ‘Pigville Productions’ alongside Writer/Director Guy Pigden, together they have been creating content for 17 years, including two feature films. They are also YouTubers with 20,000 subscribers and more than 11 million views.

As a poet Harley has performed at TEDxRuakura and is a 2016 Auckland Slam finalist and his poems continue to find an audience online.”

I wanted to say first that I’m a big fan of “I Survived a Zombie Holocaust” (as you can my positive review here) and all of its actors and crew.

Lets get this interview started:

How were you approached (or coerced) to star in “ISAZH?”

Guy and I had been creating content together for about 10 years by the time we applied for the funding so the character was actually written with me in mind to play it, however that didn’t guarantee me the role, Guy had a say in the casting but ultimately it was the Producer that needed to be convinced and from her perspective I wasn’t necessarily the best person to carry a feature film, I was relatively inexperienced and I think that being ‘Guy’s friend’ actually worked against me because that was all the Producer could see when she looked at me. However I did 2-3 auditions and managed to convince everyone that I was the man for the job. The stakes were quite high for me because if I didn’t get the role of Wesley Pennington then there wasn’t really any other roles that I would have been suitable for, I would have been relegated to a small one or two line part.

Was funding very difficult to obtain for this zombie-comedy?

Yes it was, in fact it is the only funding we have ever received for any of our productions in nearly 17 years of filmmaking, it was a long, drawn out process that required a very in-depth proposal, we had to do a full budget as if we had the money already, we had to create video content saying who we were and what we had done, mood reels, a full script, character breakdowns etc, it was months and months of full time work.

What did you do to prepare for the role of Wesley Pennington, a dreamer and optimistic horror nerd who has just secured his first job on set as a runner? Comedy seems to come natural for you, did that help Wesley obtain his quirkiness?

I approach acting the same way I approach women, I walk up, I say my lines, and I leave before security ask me to. Just kidding. Mostly. Physically for Wesley I had to lose some weight so I was doing a lot of boxing, I was very poor at the time so my diet mostly consisted of toast, but somehow that worked for me. As far as preparation for the character goes, I like to know my lines inside out so I did a lot of rehearsal with Guy and the other actors, beyond that I simply let Wesley shine through, when the cameras were rolling it was almost as if he was possessing me a little bit..

Did the cast and crew tease you when shooting some of the more embarrassing and awkward scenes, such as your sex scene with Jocelyn Christian?

The cast and crew were far too busy to be giving me grief! We were on quite a tight schedule which meant that everyone always had something important to do, that being said we did all develop a great camaraderie. We actually had to shoot the sex scene twice, so if you look at how hairy my body is in that scene you will notice ‘back hair continuity’ issues, that is because the first time we shot it I wasn’t at full-power hairy because I had manscaped some weeks before the shoot, but when we shot pickups for it months later my body hair was fully grown. If you go back and have a look you will see what I am talking about!

hnjc

Harley Neville and Jocelyn Christian


Wesley is a very demanding and physical role with a lot of sticky gore effects, was it difficult to stay in character sometimes?

No, it wasn’t really a problem for me to stay in character for a couple of reasons, one was that it was at the time the biggest role I had ever had in my life so I was very happy to be there and took it very seriously, it was important to me that other people on set saw me as a reliable and passionate actor that would get the job done, I also had to prove to the Producers that they had made the right decision!
The second reason I was so focused was because I was personally invested in the production through my relationship with Writer/Director Guy Pigden, I would talk to him outside of the shoot and get the inside information on how things were going and what areas needed more time, so because I understood how time-sensitive the shoot was I did my best to nail every take. There was one take when I got shot in the eye with a brain cannon that was far too powerful and far too close to my head, the lens of Wesley’s glasses popped out and hit me in the eyeball, it felt like I had been punched in the face! I stayed in character as best as I could, however there was no chance of me delivering my next lines, I was in agony, so instead I just whimpered and cringed like Wesley would until they called cut.

How’s working with director Guy Pigden? This was Pigden’s first feature film; how was the director on set as far as confidence, direction, and stylistic creativity? Did you also throw in your two cents into the creativity?

Guy is great to work with, he always has a very strong vision but is also open to suggestions, which can be a difficult combination to find! On set he was confident and was definitely in charge, it was great to see this young, first time Director taking control of hundreds of people, I am very proud of how he held himself. Unfortunately due to the budgetary and time constraints he didn’t get much time for stylistic creativity, often times we were so far behind schedule that he just had to get what he could and move on, fortunately he always found time to rehearse with the actors before a scene which is why the performances are all so great. I put my two cents into the creativity but mostly in the writing process, months before we were on set.

You and Guy seem to have built up a strong relationship in the last 17 years, putting out a self titled mini-series television show together and a weekly podcast amongst other content. How did that relationship come about?

Guy and I met when we were 13, at first he didn’t like me but eventually we became best friends, when were were 16 we shot our first short film, it was a zombie comedy called ‘Superstition Bites’, we filmed it on a Hi8 camcorder and Guy edited it on two VCR’s, after that we continued creating content together and with each project we learned something new and honed our art a little bit more. We continue to be best friends and create content together to this very day.

hngp

Neville and Guy Pigden

Why do you think New Zealand horror is so far and few in between or so under the radar?

I think the problem is that New Zealand is a small country at the bottom of the world, we have four million people here so the film industry is actually quite small, which means that securing funding to shoot a local horror is difficult. I think due to our small population the people that hold the purse strings are more inclined to invest in content that is more likely to see a financial return, so we have an abundance of really shit reality shows and very little good, original, scripted local content.

American audiences don’t seem to be enamoured with New Zealand horror. What did the “ISAZH” team try to accomplish to appeal to audiences Stateside, if any?

Often times New Zealand cinema tries too hard to be ‘Kiwi’, the result is a lot of cringeworthy content that doesn’t appeal to either international audiences or local ones. We didn’t go into this film with a particular country in mind, we wanted to tell a universal story that happened to be set in New Zealand, ironically I think this is what helped increase our appeal to American audiences, the USA is the place where ISAZH has been the most widely distributed of any country so far, in fact it is playing on Showtime at the time of this interview which is a premium cable channel.

What can you tell us about “No Caller ID?” Do you think the story will go from short to full feature if received well?

No Caller ID just screened at Screamfest in Los Angeles, I attended and it was an amazing screening, people seemed to really love it. It was so nice to see a cinema full of people jumping and screaming on cue. The reviews have been universally excellent, the worst rating we have had so far is 4/5 Stars.
The interesting thing about ‘No Caller ID’ is that it is actually part of our second feature film ‘Older‘ which will be out in 2017. Older is a Drama/Romance about an aspiring filmmaker that released his first film and it was a smash hit, however despite it making a lot of money it was critically panned, and he hates it. We needed to show a couple of scenes of this ‘film within a film’ but instead of shooting just a few scenes we decided to shoot a standalone short film with the hope that it would turn out well and we could submit it to festivals. We succeeded! I don’t think the story will ever be developed into a feature film, but never say never!

YYou, Jocelyn, and Guy have teamed up once again with “No Caller ID.” Was this because of the chemistry with “ISAZH?”

We teamed up with Joce again because she is a great actor, easy to work with and a good friend of ours, she actually went to high school with us and starred in our second ever short film when we were 17, Guy and I really wanted to find a way to get her into ‘Older’ and we realised a great way to do that would be to cast her as the lead in ‘No Caller ID’

Are there horror projects coming up in the near future for Harley and team?

We are still deciding what our next project will be but there is talk of shooting a horror set in the world of New Zealand gang culture, watch this space! If people would like to keep an eye on our future projects please go to the Pigville Productions Facebook page.

What are your top three horror movies of all time?

I really enjoyed Rec, 28 Days Later and The Grudge (Japanese version)

I appreciate your time in between being a producer, actor, writer, poet, and a great beard enthusiast. Would you like to add anything in conclusion?

Guy Pigden and I do a weekly podcast called The Guy and Harley Podcast, it is about love, life and loss in the pursuit of filmmaking glory..

If people would like to keep up with my career please add me on Facebook and subscribe to us on YouTube.

Thanks!

Harley

“I Survived a Zombie Holocaust” trailer

“No Caller ID” teaser trailer

“Older” trailer