Thursday, January 14, 2016

Interview with Filmmaker, Eduardo Sánchez of Haxan Films

Family, friends, good food, great fun and a strong cultural heritage; Eduardo Sánchez is a practical-minded, frank man with strong priorities. Being passionate about his successful film career has not disallowed him from setting limits to focus on what’s truly important: living life, his supportive wife and his three beautiful children. Like Eduardo says, “It’s all about balance.”

Body Count Rising: I see you are executive producing “The Night Watchmen” (now in post-production.) How did you get involved with that project?

Eduardo Sánchez: I was supposed to direct “The Night Watchmen,” but couldn’t because of scheduling conflicts. I’ve known the film’s producers, Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca, for quite a while and Ken and I collaborated before on “Lovely Molly.” So they had another director came on board, and I stayed on as an executive producer. Executive producing is just basically helping out and lending your name to a film, and this comedy horror was my kind of film.

Body Count Rising: I’m sure many wouldn’t have thought of you as a proponent of comedy. How did you become interested in the horror genre?

Eduardo Sánchez: Actually when I was in film school, I made action films and comedies. When Dan Myrick and I came up with the idea of “Blair Witch,” it was really the only horror idea we had. Neither Dan nor I thought of ourselves as horror filmmakers, ”Blair Witch” just happened to be the cheapest movie we could do with commercial potential of success. Once that blew up, we were suddenly horror filmmakers. I don’t really like being scared, so I use that. I figure if something freaks me out then it would freak other people out too. A lot of inspiration just comes from what scares me.

Note: Sánchez’s film “Altered” has a convincingly excruciating intestinal tug-of-war scene that so well-acted and with such excellent effects the viewer not only empathizes but will feel that throbbing pulse of nausea and fear, so characteristic of truly great horror. 

And no matter how much you may want to do an avant-garde, black-and-white art piece, you have to look at what would be feasible to make money, be pragmatic as possible. You constantly have to juggle the artistic side with the fiscal side.

Body Count Rising: You inferred that you don’t consider yourself a horror filmmaker. Do you feel pigeon-holed at this point?

Eduardo Sánchez: Let’s just say that it’s a lot easier for me to get funding for a horror movie than any other type of movie. You know, there’s a lot of talent in horror though. And horror filmmakers don’t receive the level of recognition that they deserve nor does the genre. It is difficult to create a film that evokes tension and truly scares people. Being a horror filmmaker is amazing because it allows you to experiment within so many sub-genres. You never would need to do the same type of film over again. Fans of the genre are always open to experimentation and something new, and I think that’s what inspires me and other filmmakers to branch out within the genre. 

Body Count Rising: The editing process can make or break a film. How much control do you take with editing?

Eduardo Sánchez: That’s true. It really can. I am always involved to some extent, but then every stage of filmmaking is collaborative. You hire a lot of talented people, and while you do make decisions and are involved in the entire process, it’s your job as the director to bring out the best work in people and really inspire them. Now having said that, I do try to take a back seat, but I get most involved with editing. There is a lot you can do during the editing process not just to change scenes, but the entire structure of the film. I love that kind of creative energy in the editing process. If someone asked me what my true talent was, I would say editing. I wish I could edit more feature films. I would really love to edit someone else’s film one day.

Body Count Rising: Besides editing, what other element would you say is key to the success of a film?

Eduardo Sánchez: There’s really no single component. It’s crucial that they all come together. Cinematography, editing, set decoration, effects, sound, costume design… it’s all integral. For example, you can’t do anything without actors, or have a good film without good actors. And then it all starts with the page. There are very few examples of films that start with a bad script and end up being good films. Even though you can screw up a good script, having a good script is a really solid place to start. Think of craft services and catering. That can affect the mood of all involved. People work really hard and look forward to a good meal, so even that is sometimes crucial to making a good film.

The most important thing is that filming is a fun, positive, productive experience. Part of the job of the director is keeping people happy and energized to do their best, and insure everything works together cohesively. There is no one “more important thing.” It is all important. Everyone working on the film is important. I get great work out of people because I respect their talents.

Body Count Rising: I hear some directors say that they didn’t value film school at all, and others say it was integral. What has film school has taught you that you use regularly?

Eduardo Sánchez: All of the guys I worked with on “Blair Witch” were the “guinea pigs” with me at our film school in central Florida. We called ourselves the “guinea pigs” because it was the first year that the school had a film program. The greatest thing is that we had a lot of freedom and a lot of nice equipment to work with. I learned collaboration. Filmmaking is the ultimate collaborative art form. You learn to work with people and how to work with others to achieve the best efforts from everyone. You make connections that will give you moral and financial support. If I didn’t go to film school there would be no “Blair Witch Project” and who knows, maybe I’d be somewhere selling cars or something. You certainly don’t need to go to film school, but for me it was pretty crucial.

Body Count Rising: When you were a kid were you always fascinated with film?

Eduardo Sánchez:
I was but I wasn’t aware of what being a filmmaker meant. I loved Star Wars and making a film was really just like a dream. I was thinking of becoming an architect until high school when I took some classes and realized I hated drawing screws and shit like that. But then my junior year I took a tv class taught by this teacher Mr. Baron, and he showed us careers and opportunities in the tv and film industry. It opened my eyes and gave me a pass to really follow that path. It was the first time anyone really ever talked to me like that. I decided that was what I was going to do. I was going to make films. Gary Dorr, Media Specialist for the high school, gave me a lot of freedom and time to explore filming because he knew I was serious. I was going to be the next Steven Speilberg. That didn’t quite work out as planned, but I do consider myself fortunate that I am still a working filmmaker to this day.

Body Count Rising: As a dad, how do you keep the family close while balancing a film career?

Eduardo Sánchez: When you have kids your priorities change. My wife and I decided we wanted to stay in Maryland for the sake of the kids rather than move to LA. My career actually allows me to be home when the kids get out of school and stay home on most days. It’s difficult sometimes, like when I need to be away on work or business trips. When the kids are little they really notice if you’re there or not. When they get older, they don’t care quite as much (laughing). I’ve been fortunate that my first film did well, so I could really set my own time and determine when I wanted to work.

Note: Sánchez is being modest. “Well” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The "Blair Witch Project” had a box office gross of $248,639,099.That’s the equivalent of $3,069,618 per minute of film, or $31,071,887 per shooting day! The film has been lauded as one of the most successful indie films of all time for good reason. The budget was less than $60,000.

It’s really a balancing act. Maybe after the kids are out of the house, we’ll consider moving to the west coast so I can work more, but I do truly love my life here. You can’t spend all your time working and expect to have a relationship with your kids. Even if they’re young, they know what’s up. I like where I am and I feel like I’ve made pretty good decisions. I would never sacrifice my family for work.

Body Count Rising: What advice would you have for an aspiring filmmaker?

Eduardo Sánchez: It really does help to be cool. People will do so much more if you get along with them and believe in them. Don’t think you’re more important than anyone else. You’re not. Don’t think of yourself as being special. Everyone has the same problems and frustrations. You always just have to work on being a better human and just keep on staying calm and being positive. Be professional. There is always an opportunity to learn from others. Artistically - take chances. This is your time to go out and do something original. Don’t copy someone or try to compete with Hollywood.

When I was in my early 20’s I did a film called “Gabriel’s Dream” inspired mostly by Spike Lee. I really loved “Do the Right Thing,” so I wanted my film to be like that. I was trying to be just like him with my social commentary on the working class and religion or whatever else my 20-year-old brain was thinking was important at the time. It went to a couple of festivals, but didn’t generate the excitement of something that was completely original or that involved taking a true artistic risk. So, just make sure you create a film that will set you apart. 

There are also so many other careers out there besides just directing that are creative and rewarding, such as cinematography, editing, set design, costume design, sound... and the list goes on. Most of the people I work with are having a blast. They’re professionals that love what they’re doing. If you love film and want to be a part of that world, there are so many different opportunities to get in on the action. Keep that in mind and have fun in your journeys!

Eduardo Sánchez is currently developing a Cuban-based series for Starz called “Santaria” with his partner, Gregg Hale and filmmaker, Alejandro Brugués. Both Sánchez and Brugués directed episodes of “From Dusk till Dawn: The Series” in 2015. Sánchez also has a feature film in the works that is planned to be revealed this spring. Watch out for upcoming project announcements on IMDb or visit his Haxan Films Facebook page.
Ed loves to be followed... on Facebook or Twitter!

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Have a Bloody Good Time with the Universal Horror Playbuzz Quiz!

Universal has a fun little game for you to play. Check it out as well as our Blu-ray reviews of The Green Inferno, The Visit and Sinister 2.





When Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are sent to their grandparents’ secluded Pennsylvania farmhouse for a weeklong stay, they quickly discover something is not right with the elderly couple. Faced with strange rules and increasingly frightening behavior, the children soon realize it will take all their wits to make it home alive. Critics rave the latest heart-pounding thriller from the director of The Sixth Sense and Signs and the producer of Paranormal Activity and The Purge is a “deliciously creepy triumph.” (Scott Mendelson,

The Visit stars also Kathryn Hahn, Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan.

  • Alternate Ending
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Making of The Visit
  • Becca’s Photos




New York college student Justine (Lorenza Izzo) meets student activist Alejandro (Ariel Levy) when he goes on a hunger strike on behalf of underpaid janitors. Smitten, she agrees to help Alejandro undertake his next project: rescuing an Amazon village from destruction by a greedy multinational corporation. But Justine soon comes to regret her decision when their plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle and the students realize they are not alone. No good deed goes unpunished as the well-meaning students are captured by the cannibalistic tribe they came to save.

The first feature film directed by Roth since Hostel: Part II, The Green Inferno also stars Aaron Burns and Kirby Bliss Blanton.

  • Feature Commentary - With co-writer, director and producer Eli Roth, producer Nicolás López, and stars Lorenza Izzo, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton, and Daryl Sabara




In the aftermath of the shocking events of Sinister, a protective mother (Shannyn Sossamon) and her nine-year-old twin sons (real-life brothers Robert and Dartanian Sloan) find themselves marked for death in a rural house as the evil spirit of Bughuul continues to spread with frightening intensity.

  • Extended Kill Films

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Time to Watch Another: Making of Sinister 2 – In this behind-the-scenes featurette, filmmakers discuss how they built the new story upon the first film and brought back “Deputy So & So” to continue the hunt for Bughuul.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Ciarán Foy
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Wild Eye Dials Up Death With 'Serial Kaller'

Scream Queen Slasher Comes to DVD and VOD January 26th

Serial Kaller DVD cover

Wild Eye Releasing's latest slasher flick, Serial Kaller, cuts to the bone of modern technology, where everyone broadcasts themselves through hashtags and filters. The lovely ladies of Babealicious TV flaunt what they have for all the world to see, but one deranged fan wants more than pixels. When he calls, the game changes forever. Serial Kaller comes to DVD and VOD January 26th, featuring legendary Scream Queen Debbie Rochon (Return to Nuke 'Em High, Phobia, The Theater Bizarre) and horror favorite Suzi Lorraine (Wrath of the Crows, Won Ton Baby).

A group of beautiful Internet models are trapped inside their recording studio and hunted down by a mentally unstable fan they insulted live on the air. Now the girls must join together to escape and face their murderous stalker, or be picked off one by one. Beauty may only be skin deep, but revenge cuts to the bone.

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Shriekfest 2016 is Open for Submissions

It's Time to Enter Your Film in the 2016 Festival!

Shriekfest 2016

Have a film or screenplay that you would like to get more attention via the festival circuit? Read the news that the folks from Shriekfest were kind enough to pass along.

Shriekfest, the Los Angeles Horror/SciFi Film Festival continues its tradition as Los Angeles' Premier horror film event, presenting an exciting program of films each fall with beautiful Los Angeles as its backdrop. Now, in it's Sweet 16th year, Shriekfest takes place at the legendary Raleigh Studios, which is the largest independent studio operator in the country. We offer filmmakers and film fans alike an ideal setting in a world-famous city. Both established and emerging filmmakers gain media exposure, connect with the region's diverse audiences, and participate in an acclaimed event attended by industry professionals as well as horror and scifi fans. Over the past Fifteen years, Shriekfest has welcomed numerous indie icons into its family.

We are looking for original films and screenplays. We are accepting films/screenplays in five categories: narrative feature, narrative short, narrative super short, feature screenplay, and short screenplay.

Shriekfest has a NEW category and we are very excited about it. "We wanted to come up with a category that would allow more people to be involved and receive exposure in the festival." said Denise Gossett, Festival Founder and Director. "Most filmmakers don't have a project to submit every year and this will allow everyone to be involved in the festival." This new category will cover demo reels from anyone in the industry: directors, producers, editors, actors, writers, sound design, visual fx, makeup, etc. Most industry people have a demo reel and many have trouble getting people to watch it. This new category allows industry people to judge it and then the top demo reels will screen at the festival!

Demo reels can be any genre and must be 2 min or less.

We will be awarding prizes to the winning filmmaker in each category.

Last year's festival was a great success. We had our biggest audience yet, with a 20% increase over the previous year and more than 35 filmmakers in attendance.

HOW TO ENTER - Entry form and information:

We look forward to seeing your film!

Shriekfest Film Festival Staff

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Sinister 2 (2015) - Blu-ray Review - Universal Pictures

Bughuul is Back for More Children in 'Sinister 2'

Sinister 2 Blu-ray cover

Released by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Production Year: 2015
Region Code: A 
Running Time: 1:37:13
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Video: 1080p (2.40:1 Aspect Ratio)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

THE FILM - [ 3 / 5 ]:

In the followup to the 2012 hit horror film, a protective mother (Shannyn Sossamon of TV's Wayward Pines) and her nine-year-old twin sons (real-life brothers Robert and Dartanian Sloan) find themselves marked for death in a rural house as the evil spirit of Bughuul continues to spread with frightening intensity. James Ransome, who played a deputy in the first film, returns and ends up trying to help save Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her young boys from the clutches of Bughuul. Director Ciaran Foy follows up his impressive full-length directorial debut "Citadel" with "Sinister 2." 

This sequel could have easily gone the route of paint by numbers and give us a near-cookie cutter copy of the first film. What I liked was that we get a glimpse behind the curtain at the spirits of the children. We don't fully step in to their world like in "Insidious," but we do get to poke our head in the door. I think the film had a couple rather good scenes that unfortunately had their effectiveness spoiled due to their inclusion in the trailer. Ciaran Foy also touches on it during the commentary. As is sometimes the case, in an effort to make trailers more exciting and attract viewers, film effectiveness is sacrificed. It is why depending on the type of film, I try to avoid most trailers beyond the first one that I see. Anyhow, I enjoyed this film more than its predecessor. I did only watch "Sinister" one time so perhaps I need to watch it again. But as of now, I would say if you enjoyed the first film, I think you will be pleased with its sequel. I have read rumblings that a third film may be in the works which shouldn't be a surprise since nowadays if a film is a success, it's sure to get at least a sequel if not become a trilogy. 

I thought the principal cast did an admiral job in their roles. I don't know if I have ever been disappointed with Shannyn Sossamon. She always seems to do a good job of playing a woman suffering in some way, from something. The Sloan brothers and the main ghost children did a great job, I thought. I appreciated their work more after seeing them being themselves in the making of featurette. Lea Coco also gives a nice performance in his small but effective role as Clint. He certainly makes it easy for the audience to hate him which is a good sign he's done his job. 

"Sinister 2" supplies some wicked kill films, the first one (seen around 19 minutes in to the film) being my favorite. The creepy ghost kids gleefully share their films as they proudly admire their grisly handiwork. You can see a little more of the films in the special features section under "Extended Kill Films."  Sinister 2 still
AUDIO - [ 4.5 / 5 ]:

"Sinister 2" features an English DTS-HD Master Audio track. The audio sounded excellent on this Blu-ray release. The overall balance between dialogue, sound effects and score was well done. The dialogue can sometimes come off sounding a little quiet but I really didn't find it to be a big issue. The sound effects were used effectively to help create jump scare moments with sudden jarring effect. Some haunting music provided by tomandandy ("The Strangers") successfully helps set and further the mood. I did not encounter any problems with the audio while watching the film. The Blu-ray also includes English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Shannyn Sossamon in Sinister 2
VIDEO - [ 4.5 / 5 ]:

Bughuul returns to Blu-ray in "Sinister 2" thanks to Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The film is presented in 1080p with a 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio. The film looks very clean and detailed on this Blu-ray. It really shines in close-up shots with an increase in sharpness. A fair amount of the film takes place in areas of varying darkness and while the Blu-ray could have really faltered with its black levels and shadow detail, it instead did a wonderful job of providing deep black levels and an abundance of eerie and effective shadows. Colors were represented well, appearing strong without suffering from being over-saturated. Skin tones looked natural and pleasing as well. I didn't notice any negative issues with the video portion of the Blu-ray. 
Sinister 2 still

Audio Commentary with director Ciaran Foy - I thought this was an entertaining and fascinating commentary. Mr. Foy is very technical and precise in his dissection of scenes as well as his explanations of mood and intent throughout the film. He talks about numerous aspects of the production from the cast, characters and script to special effects. 

Deleted Scenes (9:22) - There are five scenes titled, "New Chain," "A Late-Night Warning," "Stupid Bird," "Lipstick" and "Stomberg's Last Drink." You can watch the scenes individually or consecutively via a Play All option. 

Time to Watch Another: The Making of Sinister 2 (10:11) - Here we are treated to several brief snippets with a few members of the cast and crew regarding the film. 

Extended Kill Films - Included are "Fishing Trip" (1:32), "Christmas Morning" (1:34), "Kitchen Remodel" (1:41), "A Trip to the Dentist" (:35), "Sunday Service" (3:05) and "Cornfield (3:11)." 

Previews - Trailers for seven films are included with several playing automatically when the Blu-ray is first inserted.

This Blu-ray release also includes a Digital HD copy of the film.
Sinister 2 still

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment once again delivers a great home video release that sports superior audio and video quality as well as several added special features. If you already own the first film then I probably don't even need to suggest adding this to your collection. I would recommend that those who were maybe a little unsatisfied with "Sinister" to rent this one from Redbox, DigitalHD, etc. as you may be pleasantly surprised. 


For more information visit the following:


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