One of the most popular looks into the world of possession could be coming to the big or small screen, as we have details on Penchant Entertainment acquiring the film and TV rights to Father Malachi Martin's book Hostage to the Devil. In today's Horror Highlights, we also have release info on the graphic novel Mr. Higgins Comes Home, as well as two Q&As and details on the home media release of Heidi.

Penchant Entertainment Acquires the Film & TV Rights to Hostage to the Devil: Press Release: "Los Angeles – (April 10, 2017) – Penchant Entertainment has announced that they have picked up all film and TV rights to the critically-acclaimed New York Times and Amazon bestselling book Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans by Father Malachi Martin with plans for film and series adaptation, each focusing on different elements from the source material.

Originally published in 1976, Hostage to the Devil has sold well over a million copies worldwide and now, in eBook format, this chilling nonfiction account of possession and exorcism in modern America has been embraced by a whole new generation of readers, even inspiring a 2016 feature-length documentary. The multiple projects based on the book will be produced by Erin Eggers, Chase Hudson and Matthew Porter for Penchant.

In Hostage to the Devil, Martin presents a chilling and thoroughly researched analysis of demonic possession and the Rite of Exorcism, offering rich new details on the practice and its participants never explored on screen. Presenting exorcism as an epic battle between priest and demon, Martin reveals how this profoundly personal battle can span a lifetime, exacting an enormous toll on the priest, who sacrifices a piece of his humanity each time he confronts these demonic forces.

Malachi Martin, a former Jesuit priest, professor and theologian-turned-author of 15 novels and nonfiction books, was an acknowledged expert on and frequent critic of the Catholic Church. After moving to New York in 1965, Martin began to focus extensively on demonic Possession and assisted in nearly a dozen Exorcisms before beginning his work on Hostage to the Devil.

Although frequently referred to as the inspiration for William Blatty’s famed novel, THE EXORCIST, Malachi Martin was a harsh critic of the book and the resulting film, believing both to be grossly inaccurate and potentially dangerous. Professional feuds aside, Martin feared the eroding effects of reducing demonic Possession into simple entertainment and wrote Hostage to the Devil “as a clear warning that Possession is not—nor was it ever—some tale of dark fancy featuring ogres and happy endings. Possession is real, and real prices are paid.”

“Since its publication, Hostage to the Devil has been the canonical book on possession and exorcism and we are thrilled to finally be able to bring it to life,” said Penchant co-founders. “With such vibrant, character-rich material at our disposal, our goal is to shatter genre expectations and reset the bar for elevated supernatural fare.”

Feature film and television executives and producers Eggers, Hudson, and Porter launched Penchant earlier this year to create sophisticated, commercial entertainment for audiences worldwide.

The deal for the rights was brokered by The Gersh Agency and Lila Karpf of Lila Karpf Literary Management on behalf of the author’s estate and by Dan Stutz of Stutz Law Corp. on behalf of Penchant.

About Penchant Entertainment:

Penchant Entertainment, a full-service feature film and television development and production company, was launched in 2016 by feature film and television executives and producers Erin Eggers, Chase Hudson, and Matthew Porter. The company is based out of offices in Los Angeles."


Release Details for Mr. Higgins Comes Home: Press Release: "MILWAUKIE, Ore., (April 10, 2017)--Mike Mignola, the legendary creator of Hellboy, and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, the acclaimed artist of Helena Crash, are creating an original graphic novel about vampire hunters, the undead, and the importance of avoiding the crime scene of your wife’s death. Mr. Higgins Comes Home is an unexpected and unusual stand-alone story, featuring all new characters in a send-up of classic vampire stories. Dark Horse Comics will release Mr. Higgins Comes Home as a hardcover graphic novel in October, in time for Halloween, featuring a cover by Mignola colored by Eisner Award-winning colorist Dave Stewart.

“This one started when a mutual friend pointed out Warwick Johnson-Cadwell’s affection for sad werewolves. Then Warwick and I exchanges a few words about vampires and that was it,” said Mike Mignola. “Mr. Higgins Comes Home is my very obvious nod to any number of old Hammer Dracula films and my all-time favorite vampire film, Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers.”

In Mr. Higgins Comes Home, preparations begin at Castle Golga for the annual festival of the undead, as a pair of fearless vampire killers questions a man hidden away in a monastery on the Baltic Sea. The mysterious Mr. Higgins wants nothing more than to avoid the scene of his wife's death, and the truth about what happened to him in that castle.

However, these heroic men, sworn to rid the world of the vampire scourge, inspire Higgins to venture out and to end the only suffering he really cares about--his own.

“Working on a project with Mike Mignola is an amazing thing to be able to do,” said Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. “His art and storytelling is a massive influence and inspiration for me and chatting with him about werewolves, vampires and the like was very exciting.

When Mr. Higgins Comes Home turned up in my email I was in awe. It’s a rollicking vampire romp right in the Hammer vein and it’s a pleasure to be slapping that crimson goop they used for blood all over it.”

This outlandish tale, set outside the Mignolaverse, will go on sale in comic book stores on October 25, and in bookstores on October 31.


Heidi Release Details: Press Release: "New York, NY - Wild Eye Releasing has opened the toy chest and brought Daniel Ray's Heidi to DVD and Digital HD to punish all the bad children. Available nationwide on April 11th, Daniel Ray's first feature took home five awards at the Pollygrind Film Festival of Las Vegas, including Audience Choice for Best Feature Film. Heidi stars Samuel Brian, Joei Fulco, Joey Bell, Eva Falana, Elizabeth Callahan and Michael Monteiro.

After investigating a neighbor's attic, two high school pranksters are increasingly plagued by a series of disturbing, supernatural events involving a creepy, vintage doll named Heidi. As she stalks them day and night, no one will take their claims seriously until it is too late."


Asylum of Darkness Q&A: "Jay Woelfel has spent his career working in all phases of production and post-production in film, video, and interactive productions. Jay won the Interactive Academy Award for Best Documentary for TITANIC, a project he wrote and directed which was narrated by Patrick Stewart. It is one of five awards Titanic has won since its release in 1994. In 1993 he won an OBIE and TWO EMMY awards for his production of NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE'S THE BIRTHMARK. (THE BIRTHMARK has aired Nationally on PBS since the award) He edited the Academy Award-nominated short film BRONX CHEERS. On the strength of his body of work, Jay Woelfel was selected by The United States Information Agency as one of the six best film students in the United States to represent it at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.

Wild Eye Releasing unlocks the doors to Woelfel’s supernatural horror feature Asylum of Darkness this April.

Woelfel’s stirring cocktail of supernatural suspense and goosebump-inducing horror features a superlative cast of sci-fi and horror icons including Golden Globe nominee Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), in one his final film appearances.

Tim Thomerson (Trancers, Near Dark, Nemesis) and Tiffany Shepis (12 Monkeys, Tromeo, and Juliet, Tales of Halloween) also star in the movie, a striking, spine-tingling horror jaunt, shot in 35mm, that resembles the works of genre icons Lynch and Cronenberg.

After awakening in a mental asylum, a patient plans his escape to freedom while fighting off supernatural forces in both the real world and some that may only live inside his head. But once on the outside, he learns that the life awaiting him is more twisted and dangerous than anything he could conjure in his head, one that is luring him back to the asylum forever.

This mightn’t be Richard Hatch’s final film – but it might be his last horror film. Did he get to see it before his passing? 

Yes, he came to the cast and crew screening and post-party at Universal Studios and did a convention appearance with us once after that too.   I gave him a copy too, so could have watched it since then as well.  There is some interview material with him about the film that will be on a DVD and hopefully a Blu-ray, along with some other Richard related extras.

He did not, however, know it was coming out this year.  When I got the street date I called him and reached out in other ways, but he was too far gone to respond.  That’s really how I knew he was seriously ill as he was always very quick to get back to you. The end came very quickly for him, it comes too soon for all of us.

What was it about him that made him the right actor for the role of the doctor?

First off I didn’t think he’d ever done it before.  He was the right age and type to come across as someone in authority who could be compassionate or, maybe not….   I’d tell

you some other reasons but they fall into a spoiler kind of zone.

He told me his character could be the jumping off place for other stories about the Asylum.

The movie is full of icons. What does Tim Thomerson add to the movie in your opinion?

Thomerson actually plays a recurring character in my writing life, though this is the only script the character has made it into that’s been produced.  The idea of a rude detective, who is kind of funny in his rudeness and also a person who could go either way and knows it, depends on what day of the week it is and if he feels like being a good guy that day or a bad one. Thomerson has played good and bad guys, he’s naturally funny and he also knows how to fight and enjoys fight scenes and has one in this movie.  He loves horror movies and brings that too.  He’s also a character actor who people know even if they don’t know his name.  He’s also a people person on set, he enjoys all the cast and crew and they enjoy him, and it’s easier to make a good movie when you’re in a good mood.   Tension leads to stiffness and distraction.

Looks like a lot of the movie uses practical fx. Is that right?

Virtually all of them are.  There are some ghost effects, but even those are effects being done to real people in costume.   Three or four shots had a little bit of post production clean up done to them.  There is no digital blood in the movie.  The entire movie is done without digital, shot on film, even cut the negative, made some prints right from the negative no what they call digital intermediate even.    Had the practical effects not worked we would

have done what we had to do, but Brian Spears—the head special effects guy and Peter Gerner his assistant—wanted to do them all on set if possible and they made that possible.  We also had two units/cameras, running which gave them time to do the effects on set while we were off to other locations and sets shooting something else.

Tell us about the release plans. Is it going worldwide? 

Wild Eye Releasing has the domestic rights.  Leomark Studios has foreign.  They are taking it to Cannes in May which will be its first presentation to foreign buyers.  I had other offers for the film but these guys were the right fit.

What are some of your favorite horror films?

I think now I’d tend to list favorite directors more so than even favorite movies but to answer your question will leave out, unfairly, Lucio Fulci and Wes Craven among others….

In no particular order and while still leaving many out

Jaws—yeah it’s a horror film if you ask me.

Frankenstein—Despite studio tampering, I prefer it to Bride of Frankenstein

Horror Of Dracula—and most Hammer films.

The Haunted Palace—and most of the Corman-Poe cycle, though this one isn’t Poe.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—please don’t ask which one, you know.

Psycho/The Birds.

The Thing—don’t ask which one either.

Legend of Hell House—yes the ending kind of falls apart but I think works better in the movie than in the novel.

Deep Red—though it’s a Giallo too and that’s why I may like it even more.

Black Sabbath – and most Mario Bava films.

Curse of the Demon—the monster makes the film for me.

Onibaba—if you don’t’ know what it is, you should.

More recent films that I liked some of which are subject to debate among fans.


And last but certainly not least are some that maybe have more to do with this film in particular and are:

Asylum-written by Robert Bloch

Vertigo-not a horror film or even one type of film

Dead Ringers and Videodrome."


The Last Immortal Q&A: "Wassim Hawat has been cast in the sci-fi fantasy blockbuster The Last Immortal. The Australian actor, whose credits include Alex Proyas’ Gods of Egypt and TV’s Home & Away, gives us the 411 on the project, in which he plays an evil genius.

Q: What inspired you to become an actor, Wassim?

The freedom to utilise your imagination, body, mind, spirit, senses and instincts to portray a live character which is not yourself. Also the opportunity to step into a spectrum of characters and voiceovers.

Q: You’ve been in some big fantasy/horror movies – even played Dracula. What do you like about fantasy and horror?

I very much enjoyed being part of an international fantasy/adventure big budget Hollywood movie "Gods of Egypt" but also having the opportunity to witness and observe A-listers on-set work their craft, that alone itself helped me increase my appreciation and understanding for the art.

Playing Dracula was to me the ultimate dream and satisfaction as this is an iconic character. I grew up watching Dracula movies and only dreamt of playing such character because I enjoyed scaring people with my performance, mostly enjoyed the “ Escape “ into the world and journey of this great character, that’s the ultimate satisfaction to me.

Q: What was your first film in that genre?

My first TV series in this genre was “Atomic Kingdom“ which is a fantasy action depicting the struggles of various heroes within as they fight to stop evil from taking over the world.

My first film in this genre was “ Gods of Egypt “, an action fantasy adventure inspired by the classic myth of ancient Egypt.

Q: The Last Immortal is going to be a big science-fiction fantasy. Who do you play in it?

I originally expressed interest in an acting role to the genius creator of the project, “Lee Chavis.”

Not long after that, we scheduled a chat via Skype, in which we immediately hit it off, the connection and chemistry between us was amazing, we both knew working together will be a great journey on this project and it has been so far very enjoying and fulfilling.

Now not only I am playing the main “ Villain Lasaram “ a very complex evil genius character, but also I’m helping produce this mystery/thriller film.

Rivers McKinley develops a drug hoping to cure his ailing wife, only to discover that he needs to find a compatible blood donor to make the drug work. With time running out, an old nemesis from a past life resurfaces, plotting to ruin McKinley's plans as revenge for an ancient ritual gone awry. At this stage, the estimated budget is 5M.

Q: Is it similar in tone to Highlander?

Yes and No, While The Last Immortal has some fantasy elements featured in The Mummy, this film is more of a drama/thriller feature with fantasy and time-travel as a byproduct of realism. Lasaram [the antagonist] is as cunning and manipulative as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (and especially in Hannibal). By contrast, Rivers McKinley [the protagonist] has a very vulnerable side to his personality and demeanor, such as Guy Luthan in Extreme Measures. Yet the themes are similar: Both characters are on a mission to save humanity, though each one has very different perspectives on how to approach the “human subject” aspect in achieving those goals.

Q: Do you have to learn to swordfight for it?

No, my character is not involved in physical fight, he’s an evil genius.

  1. You do stunt work, too. Does that mean you’ll be doing stunts for The Last Immortal?

Yes, I do stunt work and I perform my own stunts.

  • Tamika Jones
    About the Author - Tamika Jones

    Tamika hails from North Beach, Maryland, a tiny town inches from the Chesapeake Bay.She knew she wanted to be an actor after reciting a soliloquy by Sojourner Truth in front of her entire fifth grade class. Since then, she's appeared in over 20 film and television projects. In addition to acting, Tamika is the Indie Spotlight manager for Daily Dead, where she brings readers news on independent horror projects every weekend.

    The first horror film Tamika watched was Child's Play. Being eight years old at the time, she remembers being so scared when Chucky came to life that she projectile vomited. It's tough for her to choose only one movie as her favorite horror film, so she picked two: Nosferatu and The Stepford Wives (1975).