Cheesey Dibbles

While Alex, Gloria and Melman, party with the travelling circus throughout Europe; Skipper, Private, Rico and Kowalski make their daring escape. They’re sick and tired the “Move It” song that haunts my dreams. Certainly breaking into Fort Knox is a better way to spend one’s time. Not to steal gold, but to steal the known world’s remain supply of Cheese Dibbles. Coincidentally, it’s Private’s birthday and we’re treated to a peek in to the origin of the quartet on the way to Kentucky. Though short, it’s all the back-story we’re allowed as trouble stirs when Dr. Octavius Brine starts penguin-napping from the world’s zoos. Apparently, Dr. Brine was an octopus named Dave in the Central Park Zoo. A star attraction until the penguins arrived, Dave was neglected and sent to many zoos before retired. Hell bent on world domination, Dave and his octo-minions want to make the penguins of the world as ugly as people have made him feel. Our flightless heroes and a group of crime fighters called ‘The North Wind’, lead by “Classified” (not actually his name) , are tasked with bringing the Doctor/Octopus down; if they don’t turn on each other first. 

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Now that Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have imprisoned, killed and blackmailed their ‘Horrible Bosses’; the trio, now liberated from the monotony of the office has started a company based on their invention. After their live television appearance pitching The Shower Buddy goes impossibly bad, NicKurtDale Inc. may be dead before it gets off the ground. Now seeking the financial help of a private investor, the boys get an offer from the smarmy Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), who will lend $3 million for production of the first 100,00 units. When Hanson suddenly backs out of the deal, the boys need cash to pay their debts, or lose their business. 

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Movie Review – Animals

November 23, 2014

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The 2014 South by Southwest (SXSW) Special Jury Recognition for Courage in Storytelling winner: Animals, is a gritty look at the grim existence of drug users. Addicted to their only source of calm, heroin in this case, Jude (David Dastmalchian) and Bobbie (Kim Shaw) survive the Chicago streets however they can. Whether its reselling stolen merchandise, stealing gifts from weddings they’ve crashed or having Bobbie work as an escort who steals client’s money before rendering services. Jude and Bobbie have are constantly hustling for money to buy more drugs. Their hard work pays off when they get a chance to feed their addiction. Suddenly, both their drug induced fantasy world and the harsh reality are shaken to the core when one is hospitalized. 

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Wes, April, Ian, Johann

There are more than a few movies about Costume Role-playing, also known as cosplay. Most of which are documentaries about the passion that cosplayers have for their craft. Much more than a simple hobby, cosplay contests can be as intense a fashion week in Paris. In ‘Cos, Play, Life” written, produced and starring Michael Lindenbaum; we take dramatic approach to cosplaying and how it can affect those that aren’t as open-minded.   (more…)

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Jude (DASTMALCHIAN) & Bobbie (SHAW) look on in ANIMALS

Closing off my coverage of the Virginia Film Festival, another highlight of my festival experience came in the form of festival selection, ANIMALS. Directed by Collin Schiffli, the film tells the story of a young couple that exist somewhere between homelessness and the fantasy life they imagine for themselves. Though they masterfully con and steal in an attempt to stay one step ahead of their addiction, they are ultimately forced to face the reality of their situation. (more…)

Pegeen Mike Stapleford (GRETA GERWIG) & Simon Axler (AL PACINO) in THE HUMBLING

Pegeen Mike Stapleford (GRETA GERWIG) & Simon Axler (AL PACINO) in THE HUMBLING

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Virginia Film Fest and check out the many sights and sounds to be had.  Hosted by UVA in Charlottesville, the festival had much to offer in the way of films, special guests, and (of course) parties.  With that said, among my highlights as a returning visitor was catching up with one of this year’s special guests, Barry Levinson.  Perhaps best known for his Oscar-winning directorial effort, RAIN MAN, Mr. Levinson has been recognized (with nominations) by the Academy many times over not only for his directing talents, but also for his writing talents as well.

This year, the critically-acclaimed filmmaker/writer was on hand at the festival to not only promote his latest film, THE HUMBLING, but also to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of his baseball classic, THE NATURAL.  Adapted from a novel by Philip Roth, the former film tells story of aging actor, Simon Axler (PACINO), who, after an incident on stage finds himself serving a brief stint in a psych ward and later retreating his Connecticut home.  Once there, a tragic comedy ensues as he engages in a heated affair with his actor friends’ lesbian daughter, Pegeen (GERWIG).

Seeing that the film is an adaptation, in our interview together I asked Mr. Levinson to compare the challenges of helming an adaptation vs. an original screenplay.  In addition, we also manage to discuss his next upcoming film, ROCK THE KASBAH, set to hit theaters next year.  Check out the interview below…. (more…)

998722_488975404524425_313405673_n Michael Myers.  Jason Voorhees.  Ghostface.  What do each of these characters have in common?  They are all legendary icons of the horror slasher subgenre; however, one could argue that the elusive status that each of these respective characters share would not be possible without the use of sequels.  With that said, before any sequels can be established, the tone must be set with the first film-a challenge which filmmakers Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer are intent to accomplish with their newly created killer in BILLY CLUB. Recently, I spoke with the two filmmakers to discuss what inspired the character.  However, (of course) in the process of asking about the character’s creation, we cover other topics such as the film’s financing, the possibility of sequels, and MUCH MORE!  Check it out in the interview below…. (more…)

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Closing up the 2014 Spooky Movie Film Fest, I gave another unexpected gem a whirl with the festival selection, TEENAGE GHOST PUNK.  Written and directed by Mike Cramer, the film follows a family who, after moving into a creaky house just outside Chicago, find themselves being haunted by a charismatic teenage punk rocker and his eclectric group of spectral pals.  Injected with witty dialogue and unforgettable characters, I was full of questions in my interview with Mr. Cramer.  More specifically, I took to the opportunity to ask the writer/director about what inspired idea for the film as well as how he acquired his talented cast.  Check it out below…. (more…)

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Laurie Curtis (Tammy Kaitz) in THE BONE GARDEN

One of the unexpected surprises of the 2014 Spooky Movie International Film Festival was the festival selection, THE BONE GARDEN.  Written and directed by Mike Gutridge, the film tells the twisted tale of Alice Hardy (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 scream queen Tracie Savage), an attractive woman who seems to have it all: a successful husband, a beautiful Victorian house, and a best friend. However, beneath the veneer of this seemingly idyllic life lies a sense of sadness and doom as nothing turns out as it appears.  After watching the film, I had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Gutridge to chat about the film.

In the interview, the writer/director (and John Carpenter-aficionado) reveals how the film came together and what Carpenter-esque easter eggs are sprinkled into the film.  In addition, he also reveals his stance on the remake/reboot trend happening in the horror genre as well as details about his next feature, WOOD FLOORS.  Check it out below….     (more…)

In today’s tabloid driven, celebrity obsessed culture, it’s easy to forget that celebrities are people too. Hideously wealthy, revered, beautiful people; but still just people. In ‘Beyond The Lights’, we’re introduced to Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). She’s come a long way from Brixton in South London, UK. Driven by her mother/manager Macy (Minnie Driver) Noni is on the precipice of greatness. On paper, she has it all; a high-profile rapper/boyfriend, Kid Culprit (actual rapper MGK), a hit single that lead to a Billboard Award nomination, and more money that some small countries. 

However, the image of Noni, created by her record label and mom is nothing more than a sexy, demi-glace piece of bacon, that may or may not own an inkling of talent. Haunted by her conscious and  haters on twitter, we find Noni pondering the meaning of life and all that there is; from the ledge of her 12th floor balcony hotel room. 

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Movie Review – Big Hero 6

November 6, 2014

Through the eyes of Baymax

Through the eyes of Baymax

The 54th film from Walt Disney Animation Studios is Big Hero 6. Loosely based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name; Big Hero 6 should be another win for the House of Mouse. Following the very successful blueprint perfectly; Big Hero 6 has colorful, enjoyable heroes and a mysterious villain, cloaked in black. Then there’s Baymax. A robotic nurse that’s built to treat every ailment, Baymax has the prowess of Clara Barton, though it looks like the Michelin Man. 

Set in the fictional town of San Fransokyo, a town that I wish were real, Hiro Hamata is a child prodigy that spends his evenings competing in underground robot fighting matches for money. Swindling local thugs while avoiding the police is an easy way to make a buck for Hiro, much better than his brother Tadashi’s “Nerd School”, the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. In an impromptu visit to the “Nerd School” Hiro is floored by the innovations flowing through the lab. This is where we meet Baymax, Tadashi’s pet project; a robotic nurse that can detect and treat common ailments with a simple scan. Lovable, huggable and damned squishy, Baymax’s deadpan delivery is stern, yet comforting. Just as he is designed. Hiro, now with a new appreciation for higher education, decides to enter a science competition , where the winner gets accepted into S.F.I.T. 

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As mentioned before, in addition to the newcomers on hand at the 2014 Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival, there were some returning faces on hand (with their respective films) as well. Perhaps one of the most notable returnees from prior years would be director Eduardo Sanchez. Likely best known for his film THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, the Maryland native was in attendance at the festival to promote his latest horror film, EXISTS.  Written by Jamie Nash, the film follows two brothers, brian and Matt Tover, as they secretly sneak out to their uncle’s abandoned cabin in East Texas with a group of friends.  Hoping to engage in an unforgettable party weekend, the group soon finds themselves in a cat-mouse game with the area’s legendary inhabitant known as the Sasquatch.   (more…)

Call Girl of Cthulhu

Last week I had a chance to check out the local horror film festival known only as the Spooky Movie International Film Festival.  Hosted by AFI in Silver Spring, the festival this year boasted a number of impressive horror entries, some of which saw the return of a few directors (from prior years).  However, aside from the returning filmmakers, there were (of course) newcomers as well.  Among these newcomers was 2014 festival selection CALL GIRL OF CTHULHU.

Directed by Chris LaMartina, the film follows a virginal artist who falls for a escort; not knowing that she is (in fact) the chosen bride of the alien god known as Cthulhu.  Intrigued by the film’s unique premise as well as its H.P. Lovecraft-esque style and inspirations, I caught up with the screenwriter, Jimmy George, at the festival to pick his brain about the film.  In the interview, we chat about how the idea for the film came about as well as the financial efforts taken to ensure that it was made.  In addition, Jimmy comments on the scope of the film, which boasts more than twice the effects of his prior film (that he also collaborated with LaMartina on)!  Check out the interview below…. (more…)

Movie Review – Birdman

October 24, 2014

Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton) was kind of a big deal. Sure, it was twenty years ago, when Thompson starred in  the ‘Birdman’ trilogy. Now separated from his wife, broke and caring for his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) in New York City; Riggan mortgages the tattered remnants of relevancy and his Malibu beach house on adapting the 1981 Raymond Carver short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” for Broadway. Written, directed and starring Thompson; it looks like the last hurrah for the once revered ‘Birdman’. 

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Movie Review – John Wick

October 23, 2014

After a storied career as a trained killer, our hero looks to retire his special set of  “skills”. However this isn’t Taken. Recently widowed, our hero finds solace in his quieter surroundings when thugs of Eastern European (probably Russian), shatters the calm by senselessly hurting a loved one. No, this isn’t The Equalizer. What sets John Wick apart from these successful films how upfront the film is with its ridiculousness. When word of his son’s idiocy, gets back to Mob Boss, Viggo (Michael Nyqvist) Tarasov he simply tells Iosef:

 

“It’s not what you did that angers me so, it’s who you did it to.” Described as “the man you send to kill the Boogeyman”, John Wick is not the man you’d want to piss off. Ever. 

 

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School in a Social Media World

 

37 years later and over 12 billion miles away, the Voyager Spacecraft is still out there, traversing unknown territories of space. Why? Well, why not? Humans have explored the world around them the beginning. Only in the very recent past have we taken to space, continuously venturing into the unknown. Therein lies the metaphor that sets up Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children. It’s supposed to represent mankind’s insatiable desire for discovery. Today, through the internet exploration, especially within oneself; can lead to enlightenment or ruin. 

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One film that is sure to make a splash on the festival circuit (not only this year but also for the better part of early next year), is the new crime thriller known as THE WOLVES OF SAVIN HILL.  Written and directed by John Beaton Hill, the film follows two childhood friends from Boston following a shocking discovery in the woods of Savin Hill.  Years later, a tragic murder brings them together again, resulting in one of the friends serving time in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.  Now, Tom Greys (David Cooley), recently released from prison, must confront the man who set him up, his childhood best friend and L.A. cop, Sean O’Brien (Brian Scannell).

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Beaton Hill to discuss his experience in making the film. At the time (of the interview) eagerly anticipating the film’s debut at the 2014 San Diego Film Festival, the writer/director was unaware (at the time) that he would soon earn the festival’s prestigious Chris Brinker Award.  For those unfamiliar with the award, it is named after the late producer and filmmaker (best known for producing the cult hit BOONDOCK SAINTS) and recognizes gifted first time feature filmmakers who have been accepted into the festival.  In the interview, Hill not only reveals the film’s humble beginnings, he also sheds light on the film’s unique casting process as well as his”detailed” approach to filmmaking.  Check it out below…. (more…)

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(left to right) Chad Lindberg and John Tenney are The Ghost Stalkers

What happens to us when we die?  This is a question which we, as human beings, have pondered since our existence.  This coming Saturday, however, Destination Discovery hopes to provide insight into this question with their new paranormal series called Ghost Stalkers.  Hosted by Chad Lindberg (THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS) and John Tenney, the series follows the two guys as they investigate various American locales that are rumored to house doorways to other dimensions.  Recently, I spoke to the two hosts of the show to discuss what fans could expect from the series.  In the interview, the two investigators not only share their thoughts on the afterlife, they also discuss the raw emotions that surfaced in the course of making the upcoming series.  In addition, Mr. Lindberg even opens up about the passing of his FAST AND FURIOUS’ co-star, Paul Walker.  Check it out below…. (more…)

Film Title: Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold wants you to believe that its the true story of the Infamous Transylvanian count. There won’t be any references to the Bram Stoker’s characters here. What we have is a war worn Prince Vlad. Also known as Vlad The Impaler; he knows that the Turks are coming and there’s little stopping them. With limited resources and options, Vlad heads into the woods where the rumors say that a condemned man lives in a cave. The rumors are true and the vampire in the cave makes Vlad a deal.  (more…)

That's Steve Carell about to face a metaphor for his career.

That’s Steve Carell about to face a metaphor for his career.

I was prepared to completely rip apart this movie in this review. Instead, I’ll  take a cue from the main theme of this film and look on the bright side. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. More importantly than that; there’s a brief appearance by an Emu. I love Emus. This straight forward family comedy is mostly benign and nothing more than Saturday matinée filler. 

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Movie Review – The Judge

October 9, 2014

Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) has come a long way from his small town beginnings in rural Indiana. Now a hot-shot lawyer in Chicago, Hank hasn’t been home in years, leaving behind his brothers and parents. His tough as nails father is a local judge, Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall), who has been on the bench for 42 years. When his mom passes away suddenly, Hank returns to his native Carlinville, Indiana, and the dysfunction he left. 

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Movie Review – Gone Girl

October 3, 2014

Affleck at his least hateableThe wildly popular 2012 novel ‘Gone Girl’ has had a lot of hype about it since its premier at the New York Film Festival, in late September and festivals afterwards. The Gillian Flynn book, adapted for the screen by Flynn is directed by the director of The Social Network (2010) and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), David Fincher. Gone Girl could be worthy of the very early Oscar buzz it’s receiving, as it is a truly gripping tale of a disintegrating marriage that becomes national news. The writing is crisp and purposely throws curveballs to the audience. If you’ve read the book and see this film in theaters, count the number of quizzical murmurs during key scenes. So much effort and detail in crafting a taught, thrilling composition is almost award worthy…almost.

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The Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya houses over 174,000 men, women and children that were victims of the various conflicts, civil wars and failed governments throughout the Horn of Africa. Over 55% of the refugees are from what is now South Sudan and The Republic of Sudan. Known as the Lost Boys of Sudan, they’ve walked hundreds of miles to the Kenyan border. Since 1992, during the height of the Second Sudanese Civil War, Kakuma is a haven for the displaced; but it’s struggling with disease prevention, assault, rape, murder and overcrowding. It’s a problem that isn’t limited to the Sudanese. Those that oppose the current regime in Ethiopia are imprisoned and/or killed. Homosexuals, or even those rumored to be gay in Uganda are charged with a capital offense and sentenced to death. And in Somalia…well it tried to replace its dismantled government 14 times; and was finally successful in 2012. For an impossibly lucky few, the United States government and United Nations has a program that will allow those “randomly selected” via a lottery to leave the camps for the opportunity of a better life in America. For Mamere, Jeremiah and Paul Deng; divine providence will lead them to the far off lands of Kansas City, Missouri. 

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Movie Review – The Equalizer

September 25, 2014

Being very loosely based on the 1980′s CBS show of the same name; The Equalizer stars Denzel Washington as Bob McCall. His days as an agent in one of the alphabet soup of federal agencies, Bob, a widow, lives alone in his cozy Boston apartment. He spends his days working at Home Mart, a Lowes/Home Depot knockoff and his many sleepless nights at a local diner. At the diner he befriends Elena (Chloe Grace-Moretz), a teenage Russian prostitute who stops in to grab a bite to eat in between jobs. Uh OhWhen Elena is hospitalized by her pimp, Bob does the honorable thing and tries to buy Elena’s freedom. Just under $10,000 should cover costs, but as you may have guessed by the picture above; negotiations break down quickly and five dead Russians in a pool of blood is all that remains. 

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We all know it when we see it, but how does one define happiness? Where does it come from and how do we get it? Much like describing color to the blind; the ideal of happiness is as common of knowledge as the sky being blue. For Hector, a London psychiatrist who lived a painfully routine life. On paper he had it all, a good job that he likes, a girlfriend named Clara that he adores and caters to his mundane, well planned existence. 

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Hector eventually realises that he may not be actually happy. Content, but not happy. Lingering feelings for an old flame and the constant fear of being mocked by Clara’s peers; Hector decides to throw caution (and his checking account) to the wind in search of happiness. Makes sense. How can a psychiatrist council the depressed, when he isn’t happy himself? With his notebook and pen at the ready, Hector embarks on a journey of self-discovery and the real pursuit of happiness. 

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A Walk Among The Tombstones

Based on the 1992 Lawrence Block book of the same name, A Walk Among The Tombstones isn’t your typical Liam Neeson movie. Neeson as retired Detective Matthew Scudder, does possess a certain set of skills. Skills used again the criminal element of New York city in the 1990′s. The recently retired Scudder free-lances as a private detective part-time; unlicensed and therefore unregulated, Scudder does “favors” for people, accepting “gifts” as the only payment. Peter Kristo needs a big favor. His brother’ Kenny’s wife Carrie was kidnapped. The ransom was set and paid, but Carrie was returned to Kenny in many, many pieces.  (more…)

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James Dashner’s 2009 novel The Maze Runner starts with a bang. Actually a series of speaker rattling bangs and passing lights, as our elevator ascends to its top floor destination. The only cargo in the elevator is a nameless boy who doesn’t remember his name, nor how he got in the elevator. He isn’t alone though; greeted by the residents of this walled oasis known as The Glade (shot in rural Louisana); the nameless boy has a lot of questions with little hope of finding answers. The square mile wide Glade is actually the center of a life-sized maze. How the residents got there and why remains a mystery, yet life isn’t all bad. The Gladers, as they’re known; are as ethnically diverse, as they are mild-mannered. Leader Alby has been in the Glade the longest and has three simple rules. 

  1. Do your part, no freeloading
  2. No fighting
  3. DO NOT enter the maze (except Runners)

Seems easy enough. The all male Gladers have fire, tools for crafting and vegetation, the essential for maintaining some quality of life; while Runners set out daily into the maze hoping to find an exit.  The nighttime shrieks of something known only as Grievers, along with the noises of the ever-changing maze itself shatter the calm of the Glade and reinforce the ideal that the maze must be something more. But what?

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It’ll be a weekend of firsts starting Friday, September 12, 2014. The Wizard World Comic Con will invade the Greater Richmond Convention Center for the first time. The year-long comic con tour will stop in more than a dozen cities from Portland, Oregon to Philadelphia and other major cities in between. Comic Cons in general are great people watching events. Cosplayers throughout Central Virginia and surrounding areas have an opportunity to show off their costumes, on a scale never seen in Richmond before. You won’t have to fight the crowds of San Diego or New York, nor will you freeze to death in Boston. For three days, the place to be is in Richmond, and Reel Film News will be there to cover it all. 

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When it comes to action films, there are likely only a handful of action stars that may come to one’s mind.  However, for my money, Mr. Michael Jai White would absolutely be a name found on my list.  With an impressive body of work that includes larger than life real life figures, iconic superheroes as well as memorable villains, Mr. White has “been there and down that,” starring in projects such as the television movie, TYSON, as well as the films, SPAWN, THE DARK KNIGHT, UNDISPUTED, and BLACK DYNAMITE (to name a few).  Recently, I took the opportunity to speak briefly with the actor/director at the Wizard World Comic Con event in Chicago. (more…)

Photo Credit: Angela Marklew

Photo Credit: Angela Marklew

This past spring, the horror film, ALTERGEIST, kicked off its festival run at the prestigious BIFFF 2014 (Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival) to enthusiastic and vocal audiences.  Because of all the buzz the film generated there and elsewhere, the film enticed many territories at the Berlin Market to consider it for distribution.  A plan, which (as we speak) is still in the process of being done.  This of course does not include the unique domestic distribution planned for the film.  Directed by TERMINATER 3:RISE OF THE MACHINES and TANK GIRL scribe, Tedi Sarafian, the film follows six paranormal investigators who travel to King’s Ransom Winery in the hopes of finding evidence of what lies on “the other side.” Led by Theresa Augland (KRISTINA ANAPAU), the team soon bears witness to the strange happenings and horrors awaiting them on the Winery’s grounds. 

Recently, I spoke with Ms. Anapau to chat about her experiences working on the film.  In the interview, I not only inquire about what draws her to a given project, I also manage to ask her about her memorable stint on TRUE BLOOD as the faerie, Maurella!  Check it out below… (more…)

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