An exclusive Q&A with Echoes of Fear co-director Brian Avenet-Bradley headlines today's Horror Highlights, along with details on American Cinematheque and Korean Cultural Center's A Genre of One: The Cinema of Bong Joon Ho retrospective screenings and Pixel Elixir's Halloween III-inspired enamel pins.
Exclusive Q&A with Echoes of Fear Co-Director Brian Avenet-Bradley: "Veteran genre filmmaker Brian Avenet-Bradley is winning raves for his – and co-director Lo Avenet-Bradley’s- new film Echoes of Fear. As the director prepares to unleash the supernatural feature onto North American theatre audiences, he looks back at the film’s conception, favourable feedback and explains how he nabbed a theatrical release.
18 years after Freez'er (2001), how has the industry changed – and how has it affected you, sir?
Brian Avenet-Bradley: The film biz has changed tremendously since 2001, especially overseas. Back then VHS was still big and there were mom and pop video stores and video store chains. And if you didn’t want your film to look “video,” you had to shoot on film. And the foreign markets were really strong for horror, even for low budget indies.
By today, we’ve flown right through the DVD hey day and into VOD and streaming land. Shooting video now has no stigma because it’s called shooting Digital, and Digital cameras in the hands of a great DP like Lo can look amazing. But there’s now a glut of “content”, including lots of indie horror movies. So overseas, indie horror doesn’t sell for what it used to. Is it because there are just so many indie films out there? Or the break down of international sales territories because of streaming and VOD over physical media? Or the rise of subscription streaming subscription services choosing to spend their money on their own created content? Or piracy? I don’t know. It’s probably a combination of all this. And this has all affected North America sales as well.
But none of this business stuff has stopped us yet. Lo (Laurence, my wife and filmmaking partner) and I make horror movies because we have horror stories that we have a strong desire to tell. They’re all passion projects for us. This is our latest horror feature together, and we certainly hope not the last—because we have so many horror scripts ready to go.
Are the types of films distributors are buying different to what was selling back then?
Brian Avenet-Bradley: Distributors have always bought and sold horror films. It’s the genre that won’t die—pun intended. When we started prepping our first horror film, FREEZ’ER, an industry person told me that horror wasn’t doing well anymore. Lo and I didn’t care because we wanted to make FREEZ’ER, and of course, by the time the film was finished-- horror was “hot” again. Really, the genre is always there—and that’s because audiences have always loved horror movies—and there are so many subgenres from creature features to slashers to supernatural to psychological and etc. And all of those subgenres can be different in terms of tone—scary, serious, disturbing or funny. Add to that, all the different genre blends like science fiction horror or western horror. So it’s an amazingly diverse genre and that keeps it fresh.
The biggest difference in what distributors want now is not genre—it’s the budget. The good distributors aren’t as interested in low budget indies because they don’t make the same amount of money for them anymore overall. But fortunately, there are still a few good distributors left who care about indie horror and will actually put some effort into selling it.
How long had you been working On Echoes of Fear before it went before the cameras?
Brian Avenet-Bradley: We were working on the beginnings of the story all the way back in 2010. Lo and I moved into a house then. We all know that every house will make spooky noises—creaks, pops etc. But we realized right away that this house had a lot more going on. The house has a very strange architecture because it’s built up into the hill, so each floor stair steps back over the previous. So it’s very unique with high ceilings, lots of staircases and a lot of hidden crawlspaces. Soon after sleeping here we started experiencing weird things—intercoms going off on their own, pipes groaning in the walls, footsteps in the hallway at night. Then we heard a cat crying from a crawlspace that when we investigated-- there was no cat and no way a cat could have gotten inside there. It finally escalated to me seeing a dark shape, which for some reason, I knew was female. One time, I saw it sitting on the edge of the bed, her back towards me. Another time, I woke up and saw her standing in the master bathroom… then she rushed me, and I jumped up screaming. That woke Lo up. She wasn’t happy about that. Anyway, there were a lot of strange things happening. And I kept notes, jotting everything down. That was the kernel of the story. We had these experiences, but we knew it was only the beginning of the first act of a story. We had to figure out what it meant for the film. Cause in real life, we don’t know. So for the film, we needed to come up with-- What’s causing this? What’s the mystery? How does it escalate? So the idea simmered, and we made another horror film, MALIGNANT, starring Brad Dourif and Gary Cairns. As we finished that film, I came across two other true stories of horrific events, one of which happened near where the house is and the other in another country. These true events we read about inspired us, and we realized that there was way we could combine them with what we experienced. And that’s when I started writing the script in 2015.
The film is scoring some great reviews – what do you personally attribute that to?
Brian Avenet-Bradley: We know from festival Q&A’s that horror festival audiences are really responding to the story-- and how it becomes something that they’re not expecting. Also, they’re loving the atmosphere, tension and the scares of the film. And the fact that even hard-core horror fans are getting scared means a lot.
On top of that, this horror film is a passion project for Lo and I, and I think audiences are responding to that passion-- the effort we put into the making the film the best it could be. Lo brings amazing cinematography to the film, with all the camera movement and high contrast lighting. The editing is tight and flows. I worked hard with Mark Lee Fletcher on creating a very unique, creepy sound design, and Benedickt Brydern created a powerful score. Renae Goodhew did amazing special make-up effects to create the entity, and Sarah Paul, the visual effects supervisor, blended her work seamlessly with the practical fx. And we have strong performances from the cast, Trista Robinson, Hannah Race, Elif Savas, Marshal Hilton, Paul Chirico, Ian Heath, Danilo De Julio and Norm Zeller.
Finally, audiences have really responded to the way the lead actress, Trista Robinson, portrayed her character, Alisa. Audiences have great empathy with her. Trista has a lot of scenes in the movie where she has to convey so many levels of fear—and she’s able to do that just through her expressive eyes and face, with no dialog.
So I think all these things combine consciously and subconsciously to create a strong reaction from people to the film. It’s now played in 14 horror festivals and won 6 Best Feature awards, so hopefully positive word of mouth will continue to spread as the film is released.
The film is getting a wide theatrical release – which is amazing in this day and age – how was that accomplished?
Brian Avenet-Bradley: It’s a different kind of wide theatrical release—at least not the traditional sense. Instead, it is playing across the country as something more like theatrical event screenings, almost like a touring band. And it’s only happening because of our North American distributor, Artist Rights, and their use of TUGG.com. It’s all very grass roots; fans of the film host the screening in their town through the site. Some of these people have seen or heard about the film because of the festival run; others have heard about it through our past work or from reading advance reviews. It’s an exciting new way for more horror fans across the country to see our work on the big screen and spread the word about the film. So we’re very excited about it.
To see where the film is screening, click here: https://www.tugg.com/titles/echoes-of-fear
A Genre of One: The Cinema of Bong Joon Ho: LOS ANGELES, Oct. 17, 2019 – American Cinematheque is proud to present A GENRE OF ONE: THE CINEMA OF BONG JOON HO, a complete feature retrospective of BONG JOON HO’s work two decades in the making. The series will take place at both the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, 2019. Co-presented with the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles, as it celebrates 100 years of Korean cinema, the internationally renowned writer/director will showcase his work and participate in an in-person Q&A at both venues. Films to be featured include THE HOST, OKJA, SNOWPIERCER, BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE, MEMORIES OF MURDER, MOTHER and the critically acclaimed PARASITE (99% on Rotten Tomatoes).
BONG JOON HO’s PARASITE has pushed boundaries, becoming the first Korean film to win the Palme D’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival. It set several box office records in the U.S. since its opening just this past Friday, including the highest per screen average of 2019 and ranking as the 17th highest per screen average of all time (8th highest among all live-action films). PARASITE earned the title highest per-screen average for a foreign language film of all-time. The film has already amassed over $90mm worldwide.
“PARASITE is the perfect hallmark to celebrate 100 years of Korean filmmaking and we are thrilled to host a full retrospective of BONG JOON HO’s masterful 20 years of cinema,” said Grant Moninger, American Cinematheque Film Programmer.
“Director BONG is a cinematic mastermind who has amazed audiences around the world for nearly two decades with his innovative stories and singular vision,” said Wijin Park, Head of the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles. “It is an honor to present his latest revelation, PARASITE, and his astonishing body of work to mark the 100th anniversary of Korean film history.”
Known for his cutting, socially incisive wit and twisting of genre conventions, Korean-born filmmaker BONG JOON HO has continually raised questions about modern institutions and the inequities of society with his unique blend of humor, emotion and suspense. In this sense, PARASITE is both highly characteristic of BONG JOON HO's work, while at the same time evolving to a new level. The Palme D’Or-winning tragicomedy implants an unemployed family of four, one by one, into a wealthy household and the sparks fly from there. “For people of different circumstances to live together in the same space is not easy,” notes the director. “I think that this film depicts the inevitable cracks that appear when two classes brush up against each other in today's increasingly polarized society.”
The seventh feature film from BONG JOON HO, PARASITE provides thought-provoking social commentary in pulpier genre trappings that range from horror and sci-fi to crime thrillers. Among other titles that thread that needle - SNOWPIERCER also concerns itself with class struggle, though it’s set on a post-apocalyptic train ride across a frozen Earth. The havoc-wreaking river beast of THE HOST makes it nominally a monster movie, but the heart of the film is the human family that races to save one of its own. The strange creature OKJA similarly provides a platform to look at bioengineering and our relationship to the rest of the food chain.
BONG JOON HO doesn’t need fantastical elements to upend audience expectations; his films combine dark comedy, empathy, and tension in wholly unpredictable combinations, making for a particularly dynamic viewing experience even when the setting is mundane. Feature debut BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE takes place in an apartment complex and centers on an out-of-work teacher – whose aversion to dogs reaches epic proportions. The title character in MOTHER is quite ordinary until the murder charge against her son pushes her to extreme measures. At first glance the serial killer tropes of MEMORIES OF MURDER look familiar until the unorthodox methods of the detectives on the case take the story into uncharted territory. While the work of BONG JOON HO resembles contemporary films, it is really a genre of its own.
In conjunction with the complete retrospective of BONG JOON HO’s feature films, the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles and the American Cinematheque are proud to present a twelve piece exhibit in the Shield’s Gallery of the Egyptian Theatre featuring the works of South Korean artist Jung Jae Hoon (aka Zibezi), whose original painting “Parasite” is featured prominently in BONG’s latest masterpiece. In recent years, Zibezi, a self-proclaimed “outside artist,” has made a major splash in the intersecting worlds of art and fashion, and has created over 100 artworks that attempt to “draw a new world out of existing forms and frameworks.” His online gallery and store can be found on his website at https://zibezi.com/
For purchase tickets, visit AmericanCinematheque.Com. BONG’s films will be featured during the following screenings:
EGYPTIAN THEATRE - 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028:
Wednesday, October 30 – 7:30 p.m. BONG JOON HO IN-PERSON
PARASITE (GISAENGCHUNG), 2019, Neon, 132 min. Dir. BONG JOON HO. When Kim Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) agrees to take over the position of English tutor for the daughter of a wealthy family from his friend Min-hyuk (Seo-joon Park), the stage is set for an epic showdown as class warfare meets black comedy, with the stakes deadlier than you could ever imagine. Working with some of the most outstanding actors in South Korea, writer-director BONG JOON HO (SNOWPIERCER, OKJA) crafts a brilliantly layered world filled with outstanding gasp-out-loud moments. An intricate blend of bravura sequences, stellar character work and narrative twists, PARASITE was the Palme d'Or winner at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. In Korean with English subtitles. Discussion following with director BONG JOON HO. Special Ticket Prices: $15 General, $13 Cinematheque Members. No vouchers.
Thursday, October 31 – 7:30 p.m. BONG JOON HO TRIBUTE
THE HOST (GWOEMUL), 2006, Magnolia Pictures, 120 min. Dir. BONG JOON HO. Much more than just a monster movie, BONG JOON HO’s third film spans the intimate and the epic, the personal and the political, in a fantastical tale about the lengths to which a family will go in recovering one of its own. Due to the negligence of a U.S. military installation, an amphibian beast emerges from the Han River, wreaking havoc on city residents and abducting the daughter of riverfront vendor Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho). With the help of his elderly father, listless brother and archery medalist sister, Park races against time for save the girl while government authorities concoct their own, ecologically reckless means of vanquishing the creature. “A loopy, feverishly imaginative genre hybrid.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times. In Korean and English with English subtitles.
10th Anniversary! MOTHER (MADEO), 2009, Magnolia Pictures, 129 min. Dir. BONG JOON HO. In a small South Korean town, an intellectually disabled man (Won Bin) follows a young woman (Moon Hee-ra) down an empty street at night; when the woman is found dead the next morning, authorities summarily charge him with the murder. Only the man’s mother (Kim Hye-ja), an unlicensed acupuncturist, is convinced of his innocence. As she pieces together the night of the murder and the cast of characters surrounding it, no measure seems too drastic to protect the son whose condition she has always lamented. Starkly shot and arrestingly unpredictable, MOTHER stretches parental love to its extremes, tempering violent impulses with BONG’s characteristic flashes of humor. In Korean with English subtitles.
AERO THEATRE, 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Friday, November 1 – 7:30 p.m. BONG JOON HO IN PERSON
SNOWPIERCER, 2013, Swank Motion Pictures, 126 min. Dir. BONG JOON HO. One of the most dazzling visions of our dystopian future since Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER, this sci-fi thriller takes place on a train carrying the last survivors - Chris Evans, Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton and Octavia Spencer among them - of a manmade environmental catastrophe. But a rigid class structure has been imposed on the passengers, leading to a bloody rebellion.
BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE (FLANDERSUI GAE), 2000, Magnolia Pictures, 110 min. Dir. BONG JOON HO. A mix of gallows humor and character-driven chaos, BONG JOON HO’s directorial debut stars Lee Sung-jae as a jobless academic living in an apartment complex. Driven to the brink by his demanding wife and by the persistent sound of a barking dog, he resolves to rid the complex of noisy pooches wherever he finds them. Faced with the disappearance of one beloved pet after another, the complex’s unassuming bookkeeper (Bae Donna) finds herself under pressure to uncover the culprit. Smartly satirical in its depiction of confined living, BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE both shocks and delights with a tale of two unfulfilled people and the surreal series of events that bring them into collision. In Korean with English subtitles. Discussion between films with director BONG JOON HO. Special Ticket Prices: $15 General, $13 Cinematheque Members. No vouchers.
Saturday, November 2 – 7:30 p.m. BONG JOON HO TRIBUTE
OKJA, 2017, Netflix, 120 min. Dir. BONG JOON HO. A decade after biotech CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) launches a contest to raise the world’s finest genetically designed “super pig,” South Korean farm girl Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) learns that her super pig, Okja, has won the title. When Okja is hauled off to be exhibited in New York City, Mija undertakes a rescue mission that puts her in league with the Animal Liberation Front – and into the clutches of the profit-minded Mirando Corporation. An imaginative adventure with friendship and humanity’s nearsightedness at its center, OKJA is a moving reminder that courage can take small forms. In English, Korean and Spanish with English subtitles.
MEMORIES OF MURDER (SALINUI CHUEOK), 2003, Palm Pictures, 132 min. Dir. BONG JOON HO. Inspired by the first serial murders in South Korea’s modern history, this engrossing crime story is marked with textural richness and tonal finesse. After two women are found raped and murdered in quick succession, rural detectives Park and Cho (Song Kang-ho and Kim Roi-ha) are tasked with finding the killer. Their crude methods ill-suited to the task, the pair are soon joined by an urban detective who proposes to solve the case by subtler means. Gripping throughout and laced with the humor of a bumbling cop routine, MEMORIES OF MURDER invites surprise up to its final frame. In Korean and English with English subtitles.
ABOUT AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE
Established in 1981, the American Cinematheque is a 501C3 non-profit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms. The American Cinematheque renovated and reopened (on Dec. 4, 1998) the historic 1922 Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. This includes a state-of-the-art 616-seat theatre housed within Sid Grauman's first grand movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. The exotic courtyard is fully restored to its 1922 grandeur. The Egyptian was the home of the very first Hollywood movie premiere in 1922. In January 2005 the American Cinematheque expanded its programming to the 1940 Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.
ABOUT KOREAN CULTURAL CENTER, LOS ANGELES
Dedicated to Expanding Knowledge of Korea, the Korean Cultural Center is the axis of Korean heritage in Los Angeles. The Korean Cultural Center welcomes the general public to experience the rich traditions and history of Korea through specialized programs, sponsored events, and multiple learning resources.
Operated by the Korean government's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Cultural Center is dedicated to providing insights into the rich cultural heritage of Korea. We encourage everyone to visit and learn something new about a nation with a history spanning more than 5,000 years.
For more information - http://www.kccla.org/english/home.asp.
[Photo Credit: Above Bong Joon Ho photo courtesy of Cine21.]
Pixel Elixir's Halloween III-Inspired Enamel Pins: "Happy, happy Halloween, Silver Shamrock! These gross Madballs-inspired pins are also an homage to those infamous masks from Halloween III: Season of the Witch. They're fun, they're frightening - and they glow in the dark!
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To learn more, visit Pixel Elixir's website.