Interview: Brian Yuzna

Growing up on Society, Re-Animator and Return of the Living Dead 3, it was a huge honour to speak recently to cult filmmaker Brian Yuzna about his plans for a new horror graduate film training academy in the UK.

220px-Return_of_the_living_dead_3_dvd_coverYuzna intends to set this up at Birmingham City University (BCU), in collaboration with Associate Professor in Film Dr Xavier Mendik who is also Director of the Cine-Excess International Film Festival running 12 – 14 November in Brighton

“It’s a project I’ve been developing with Xavier over the last few years, looking at training students at an undergraduate level on how to make a commercial horror film,” says Yuzna.

“It’s important for this training to be on the curriculum, and that students have the experiences and training that prepares them for the jobs they want to do.

“Any product made by the academy at Birmingham City University will certainly have a unique character to it. There will be enthusiastic students burning to get their ideas out there, and I’m confident we can work with the students to make product in a format that will have a market.”

Whilst concrete details on the academy are still to be announced, Yuzna is impressed by the interest so far from the university.

SocietyPoster“The intent seems very serious, and BCU are open and fast moving,” he says. “I’ve been very surprised by the interest at every level, there’s a lot of energy and openness.

“We’ve got a fairly good idea on what may work as a pilot course. If it did happen, I’d probably have to be here fairly intensively, especially at pre-production and production stages.”

“We’re honoured to be working with such an iconic filmmaker like Brian Yuzna on the Horror Academy, which will be a unique opportunity to train the next generation of horror talent under the mentorship of such a legendary genre figure,” Dr Mendik adds. “After the upcoming festival, Cine-Excess 2016 takes place at BCU for its 10th anniversary event and a selection of Horror Academy training activities will be on offer then.”

And with so many cult horror films being remade and rebooted, is there anything in store for a new Re-Animator or Society from the horror supremo?

“I’m trying with a Re-Animator cable TV series, and I’m in talks with a couple of different places to do a new Society movie. We’ll see!” says Yuzna, tantalisingly.

Brian Yuzna image, photo credit: Xavier Mendik


Review: Blood Creek (2009)

A jumbled mess, Blood Creek has potential but the over complicated plot and messy script make it fall on its bum. When you have Michael Fassbender and Henry Cavill in the mix, it’s hard to see where you could go wrong yet this is a strange little film that never gives us true scares or pay off. It’s hard to care about any of the characters or their motivations, let alone the sinister back story of Fassbender’s German professor Richard Wirth.

In 1936, Wirth visits German migrants living in West Virginia, USA; he may act all professor charming, but he’s actually after an ancient Viking runestone buried on their farm. As he is a Nazi occultist! The family, seeing his potential power, imprison him on their farm which involves human sacrifices to keep his bloodlust at bay. Still with us? We don’t blame you if you’re not…

Step forward to the MODERN DAYS, and Henry Cavill’s brother has gone missing in the woods after a camping trip. He suddenly appears three years later, long-haired and covered in scars, having been a chewy, blood-letting toy for Wirth. He encourages Evan (Cavill) to go back to the farm with some big ol’ guns to finish the family and Wirth; the family are somehow frozen in time with Fassy, so they’re not ageing either. The film then turns into a ‘cabin in the woods vs evil threat’ scenario, as the family are held captive inside whilst Wirth goes apeshit and tries to drink their blood to TAKE OVER THE WORLD outside. He kills a horse and makes it into a zombie horse, which then storms the house like an Evil Dead possessed creature. It really is trot.

The interesting bit comes at the end, when we see the potential of Evan in his future quest. And that really is about it. The rest is absurd.

It’s also kind of weird to see Fassbender playing a demonic, gross Nazi vampire thing. Creeeeeepppyyyyy.





Watch it for: Zombie horse. Yeah! 

Watch out for: Fassbender’s ‘third eye’. No laughing please…

Review: Maniac (2012)

A remake of the 80s horror cult classic, Maniac is a gruesome slasher where Frodo goes seriously bad; Elijah Wood is serial killer Frank Zito, a loner with Mummy issues who likes to kill women and scalp them for his mannequins. He’s like a more extreme Andrew McCarthy.

Beautifully shot with a haunting 80s synth score by Rob, we prowl the streets at night with Frank as he goes in search of his victims. Shot in Frank’s POV, we become the killer; we stab, we strangle and we scalp. We catch clever glimpses of Frank in mirrors or reflections, as he looks at himself/us in disbelief. It’s a brave move for Wood, who takes some great chances with his films. We’re reminded it is Wood. Sometimes we forget, as we’re the killer. It’s incredibly voyeuristic and intense.

Frank strikes up a ‘friendship’ of sorts with artist Anna (Nora Arnezeder) who wants his mannequins in her show, and he hopes for a normal relationship with her. We know there’s no hope, and have fear for Anna as she gets closer and closer to him. Will she find out what he is before it’s too late? Can Frank be stopped?

This version doesn’t have anything that matches the original’s infamous ‘Disco Boy Scene’ with the shotgun, but it’s creepy and brutal with two particularly graphic scalpings. The camera doesn’t shy away, and french director Franck Khalfoun has made a modern horror masterpiece. The night shots are as good as Drive, Shame or Collateral. We can’t wait to see what he does with Amityville: The Awakening, coming next year.





Watch it for: Elijah Wood is genius

Watch out for: The opening murder. You won’t be able to scream