Director Aaron Mento combines horrid holiday threads with the scare-centric setting of summer camp in Ugly Sweater Party (co-starring Sleepaway Camp’s Felissa Rose), and we're exclusively debuting the teaser trailer for the new horror comedy right here on Daily Dead.
In today's Horror Highlights, we also have a Q&A with It Watches director Dave Parker and release details and a trailer for Charles Band's Ravenwolf Towers.
Press Release: "In 2017, you're invited to the bloodiest Christmas party ever!
Ocular Migraine Productions presents UGLY SWEATER PARTY, a new holiday horror comedy from writer/director Aaron Mento (Standards of Living, Crypt TVs Choose Their Kill)! The film was produced by Mento, Charles Chudabala (Death House) and Hunter Johnson (2 Jennifer). Enjoy our first NSFW teaser trailer- just in time for the holidays!
On Christmas Eve, at a bible camp deep in the woods, an ugly sweater party is in full swing. But an outside visitor has unknowingly brought an ancient evil to the yuletide fun. An ugly sweater that is possessed by the ghost of a brutal serial killer...
Mento on the film, “If I had to describe the tone of Ugly Sweater Party, I'd say it's a mix of John Waters and John Landis. A violent holiday horror comedy that is completely unpredictable, shocking, but also really fun and jolly. Unlimited replay value is the goal.”
UGLY SWEATER PARTY features a cast of horror studs, including Sean Whalen (The People Under the Stairs), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Brad Potts (Puppet Master X, Zombies vs. Strippers), Lara Jean Mummert (Anomaly) & Tiffani Fest (Circus of the Dead). The film also features a wild ensemble including Marv Blauvelt, Emily Dahm, Berna Roberts, Matt Holbrook, Jody Barton and Kevin Caliber as several misfit campers invited to the party.
Mento was particularly thrilled to work with scream queen Felissa Rose. “Sleepaway Camp was like my gateway drug for awesome oddball horror movies. So having Felissa Rose play a vampy camp counselor in Ugly Sweater Party was a dream come true. I wrote the role specifically for Felissa, and she completely kills it.” Felissa Rose returns to camp!
Next year, grab your ugliest sweaters and come to the UGLY SWEATER PARTY! You'll be dying to be there! Happy Horror Holidays!"
Q&A with It Watches Director Dave Parker: "Director Dave Parker’s “unpredictable terror tale” It Watches is now available on VOD from Uncork’d Entertainment.
Ivan Djurovic (Zoombies), Rick Irwin (30 Minutes or Less), Sanny van Heteren (Hellraiser : Revelations) and James Duval (Donnie Darko) star in a film that will “keep you guessing the entire time” and “delights in delivering the shivers.”
Andre, recovering from a recent accident, agrees to help his friend Robert by taking over a house sitting job at a creepy home nestled in the hills above Los Angeles. As night comes, the house reveals its insidious nature as Andre begins hearing ominous sounds and experiencing strange occurrences throughout the house that lead him to believe he is not alone, and that someone, or something is in the house with him.
Congratulations on the release. Will the VOD release be the first time North America has seen the film?
Dave Parker: Yeah, this will be the first time that anyone, except for a few, will have the chance to see what we did. It’s been a long road, but that’s usually the case with these smaller independent movies. It’s a very tough market out there right now. People are watching movies in a lot of different ways. Dozens of new titles come out every week. It has become a much more complicated thing to make an independent movie. It’s tough on the filmmakers and distributors now more than ever. That’s why it’s taken longer than expected to get this one out there – I mean, I did this one before I did Tales of Halloween - but I guess in that sense having it released at all is a kind of victory.
How much did the script change between that initial draft and shooting script?
Dave Parker: The core of the idea that Ivan Djurovic and I came up with didn’t change that much from when we wrote it, to when we filmed. Many things changed while we were filming, though. We kind of put a daunting challenge ahead of ourselves with how we approached making this movie. Personally I wanted to have a very experimental experience. I wanted to work untraditionally on this one, and we worked really fluidly with the story. I knew the direction that we were going towards, but as far as exactly how we got there, I left myself open to try any number of things within scenes. It was an experiment, really. I can’t stress that enough. With that, you have successes and failures, but that’s how we were committed with doing this one. Again, being a DIY movie, we were allowing ourselves this kind of openness that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we had big investors or a company that was watching over our shoulders all the time. It can certainly put you in the firing line when people see the final film, but you stand by what you did knowing that you aren’t making a movie for everyone.
Is it important to you to make a film that’s as much about character as it is scares? How do you manage that?
Dave Parker: I think that if you don’t know or relate to the characters, then the best you can achieve is jump scares. We have some of that, but we tried our best to not just have that or be too predictable. This was about trying to create an atmosphere and mood that maybe I wasn’t able to do on previous works. I think in a lot of ways I was focusing a lot on that. You go with your gut hoping that it will work for some, and knowing that it won’t for others.
How important is audio to a film like this?
Dave Parker: When you are working with such a small budget, the things you have in your “tool box” are different than with a larger one obviously. We didn’t have a huge amount of make-up effects, very little to be honest. In that sense, audio was hugely important on this film. We were very fortunate that we had three really talented and dedicated people on our side to create that. We had Justin Cruse as our sound designer, who really did some beautiful and subtle work. Friederik Wiedmann, my composer from The Hills Run Red, graciously came in and embraced the entire experimental nature we were going for. His score is unlike anything he’s done before, that I’ve heard. He’s normally a much more traditional style of composer, with melody and themes. We asked him not to do that this time, but he still created I think a very interesting score that compliments the nature of the movie well. Scott Jennings was our sound mixer, and we worked very closely together. He brought great instincts to this project and created a very full and encompassing sound that makes this small movie feel larger. I was very lucky to have each one of them agree to do this.
Did you encourage any of the actors to improvise?
Dave Parker: Absolutely. I embraced the improvisational nature of it. I did my best to keep it all in my head, but really let the actors try things, and bring new ideas to the table. It was a very organic process in that sense. I knew where I had to guide things, but by letting all the actors have more freedom in their choices allowed us to go in different directions that I might not have. I think it was tough at first for some of them, but because they knew that they had an open door to try things, I think it invested them more in the project. I would also guide them individually at times, telling them to say this or that during a scene so I could see how the other actor would react. In that aspect we got some very genuine moments. It was a true collaboration with the cast and crew. Everyone brought ideas to the table. This style went to how we shot the movie with director of photography Will Barratt as well. Working together we would find the scene, go for the unconventional shots, and just be open. We weren’t risking hundreds of thousands of dollars, so we allowed ourselves to risk in other ways.
How did you go about getting distribution?
Dave Parker: Getting distribution took longer than we had expected, but that’s because we were looking for the best home possible. Through friends and other connections we got the film to Adam Whitton, who is a sales agent. He then sent it out to distribution companies that he had a relationship with, and then Keith Leopard and Uncork’d were interested, and have been great to us. The deal was good, and they are taking care of selling the movie world wide, and we are very happy that they wanted it. They’ve been really supportive.
Can you discuss the title change?
Dave Parker: The reason for the title change really was that during the time that we made the film, finished, and then went about setting it up with Uncork’d another film called Coldwater came out. There really wasn’t much of a debate about it really. Keith and Uncork’d came up with the title It Watches, I’m sure in part looking to follow the success of It Follows. At the end of the day, Ivan and I said to them that if they think it will help their sales and placement, we really couldn’t argue with that. It’s a business, and that gets lost a lot of times when people talk about these independent movies. It’s harder and harder to get things out there, and as much as you want to be original, and not look like you are riding on the coattails of someone else’s success, you also have to focus on more important things. I hope that people will give us a chance, and regardless of what the movie is called, see that we are trying to do something different.
Ravenwolf Towers Release Details & Trailer: Press Release: "Legendary cult filmmaker and Full Moon Entertainment founder Charles Band is thrilled to present his new series RAVENWOLF TOWERS, which he describes as a “love letter to Full Moon fans past and present”.
The chilling, seven-part horror series is directed and produced by Band, who will release one episode every full moon, beginning December 13th. And as a bonus for Full Moon film fanatics, embedded within each weird and wicked episode of the series, Band has found novel ways to re-introduce some of Full Moon’s most famous and feared characters and creatures into the narrative.
Full Moon Entertainment will release RAVENWOLF TOWERS on their Amazon Channel (www.fullmoonamazon.com), at FullMoonStreaming.com and on DVD. The first episode, titled Bad Mary, will debut on December 13.
And as a premium for customers who order the DVD, Band has committed to personally signing every copy sold.
RAVENWOLF TOWERS, the dark saga of a family of incestuous lunatics lording over the remains of a looming, formerly opulent and now dilapidated Hollywood hotel.
Like a cross between Jack Hill’s 1964 Gothic shocker SPIDER-BABY and Dan Curtis’ beloved horror soap opera DARK SHADOWS, RAVENWOLF TOWERS follows the gruesome and bizarre adventures of Jake, the new assistant manager at ‘The Towers’ who is soon subject to the horror at the heart of the building: guests disappear without a trace, mad doctors meddle with madder science, degenerate monsters lurking around every corner and a beautiful woman who may be a distressed damsel in need of saving…or just might be the most terrifying resident of RAVENWOLF TOWERS.
At the center of it all is the spastic, inbred clan whose minds have become irrevocably warped as they live, love, die and commit all manner of sin within the walls of ‘The Towers’."