ACTOR’S CORNER – VICTORIA THAINE (THE LOVED ONES)
I am an unabashed fan of this film. I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival – all but forcing the programming staff of AFI FEST to see it with me: “Come on! It’s Australian…crazy prom girls with power tools and mirror balls… It’s gotta be great!”
And I was so right on this one. They still freakin’ owe me for leading the way to this demented goodness. We brought it to L.A. for Halloween and now we’ve brought it to Dallas. Happy, happy, “MISERY meets PRETTY IN PINK Aussie-style”, joy, joy. Seriously, Sean Byrne’s little bloody masterpiece is your basic cautionary tale about ignoring the fact that a psychotic high school girl with an equally crazy henchman for a father is crushing out on you before the big dance.
And Victoria Thaine, who plays the girlfriend of said crazy girl’s target dreamy boy does her part to add to the fun by being much more than your standard issue tie a yellow ribbon type while he deals with uhmmm…. things. Because she’s Australian. And beautiful. And she’ll kick ya’ if she has to.
How much training did you do to prepare for the stunts in THE LOVED ONES?
Myself and the girl in hot pink (Robyn McCleavy) had a couple of serious sessions of stunt choreography to prepare for our tussle in the car. It is definitely one of the more fun scenes I’ve ever had to do. It took about four hours to shoot and despite the training, both of us ended up covered in bruises and I had a swollen ankle that had to be attended to by the nurse. Kicking someone in the head while wearing a pretty apricot frock made me feel pretty tough. I’d like to do it again. Not to Robyn, maybe someone else!
What’s the main difference with working with an Australian film crew versus working with an American film crew?
We work much, much faster. There’s no fart-arsing around! I once sat in a trailer for three full days on an American production waiting for my scene to come up and I’m sure that’s not unusual. That would just never happen in Australia. We don’t have the money. I also think Australia film crews are probably very inventive as we cut our teeth on productions with such small budgets that we have to think outside the box. On the best productions there’s a real sense of everyone being in there together – there’s less hierarchy than on American sets.
In order for love to conquer all, does it help to have power tools at your disposal?
I always sleep with a drill under my pillow just in case I need to get my boyfriend to tow the line. A staple gun works too but a drill bit through the penis is better.
Now that Xavier Samuel is going to be part of the TWILIGHT universe, will you feel obligated to actually watch those movies?
It’s pathetic but I’ve now watched the first two films in the TWILIGHT series just to get up to date. Both times were on a long-haul flight under the mild influence of valium and I would highly recommend watching them in this manner. I find it amusing that literally overnight Xavier suddenly had fan pages on the net with paparazzi photos of him at LAX. I’m sure he’ll be fantastic in the film.
What’s your position on road kill?
If you’re going to eat it, braise it for a very, very long time.
THE LOVED ONES screens at the Landmark Magnolia 4 on Friday, April 9 at Midnight and on Sunday, April 11 at 10:00PM.
AFI FEST 2009 PRESENTED BY AUDI
ANNOUNCES HALLOWEEN PROGRAMMING
“THE HOLE” IN 3-D, “THE LOVED ONES,”
“WAKE IN FRIGHT,” “BEST WORST MOVIE”
Los Angeles, CA, September 29, 2009—AFI FEST 2009 presented by Audi today announced films scheduled for Halloween, all of which celebrate the horror genre. Joe Dante’s THE HOLE, Sean Byrne’s THE LOVED ONES, Ted Kotcheff’s WAKE IN FRIGHT and Michael Stephenson’s BEST WORST MOVIE will screen on Saturday, October 31 at the Mann Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood.
Presented in 3-D, Joe Dante’s family friendly thriller THE HOLE marks an auspicious return to the big screen by the celebrated genre director after 11 years. In the film, two young brothers stumble upon a mysterious hole in their basement that houses an evil force that can create a physical manifestation of their deep-seated fears. After unwittingly unleashing the force, the brothers must team with the teenage girl next door to find a way to defend themselves against the darkness. The film stars Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble, Bruce Dern and Teri Polo.
THE HOLE will mark the first time a feature film has been presented in 3-D at AFI FEST or it’s precursor, Filmex since Paul Morrissey’s FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN screened in 1977. Michael Medaglia’s short film THE RATSNITCH ANGEL was presented in 3-D in 2006.
The Midnight Madness Audience Award winner of this year’s Toronto Film Festival, Sean Byrne’s THE LOVED ONES is an Australian thriller about a troubled high school senior who finds himself trapped in a bizarre “prom” and fighting for his life after he is abducted by a psychotic father-and-daughter pair. The film stars Xavier Samuel (who will star in ECLIPSE, the third installment of the TWILIGHT film saga), Robin McLeavy, John Brumpton and Victoria Thaine. THE LOVED ONES screening will be sponsored by Fangoria Entertainment.
Also hailing from Australia is Ted Kotcheff’s underground classic WAKE IN FRIGHT. Originally released in 1971, the film was nominated for the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival and has developed a reputation as one of Australia’s great, lost films. Recently recovered and restored, the film is a brutal and uncompromising thriller about a young teacher who arrives in a rough outback mining town planning to stay overnight before catching a plane to Sydney. However, his dealings with the hard-drinking, violent locals and a harrowing kangaroo hunt plunge the man headlong toward his own destruction. The film stars Donald Pleasence and Gary Bond.
Michael Stephenson’s documentary BEST WORST MOVIE looks at both the behind-the-scenes origins of TROLL 2 and the film’s journey to become a cult classic years after its initial release. Two decades later, Stephenson, the legendarily inept film’s child star, unravels the improbable, heartfelt story of an Alabama dentist turned cult movie icon and an Italian filmmaker as they try to come to terms with this genuine, internationally revered cinematic failure.
Also screening on Halloween will be the previously announced South Korean Academy Award pick, Bong Joon-ho’s MOTHER and the acclaimed RED RIDING TRILOGY of films.
“These are films that are targeted specifically to AFI FEST audiences looking for excitement on Halloween,” said AFI FEST Director of Programming Robert Koehler. “They run the gamut from the family friendly scares of THE HOLE, to the incredible Australian duo of THE LOVED ONES and WAKE IN FRIGHT, to the intense crime dramas of the RED RIDING TRILOGY.”
“Rollicking cult movie worship and Ozploitation lead the way in our celebration of Halloween at AFI FEST this year,” added AFI FEST Senior Programmer Lane Kneedler. “We are thrilled to be embracing fringe filmmaking and alternative cinema once again as core components of our festival. When audiences come to Hollywood and Highland on Saturday night, we will deliver an unforgettable Halloween experience.”
Complimentary tickets are available beginning on October 16 to all Festival screenings at AFI.com/AFI FEST, at the Mann Chinese 6 Theatres (6925 Hollywood Blvd.) beginning October 26, or on the day of scheduled screenings via Rush Lines. Priority seating to all screenings can be secured by becoming a patron of the Festival and purchasing an AFI FEST Patron Pass. For more details, visit AFI.com.
Toronto Film Festival – Day #2 – A Viggo and Charlize sandwich between crazy-ass Spanish and Australian Horror buns
So, I decide to start my second day at TIFF with the Spanish film, REC 2. Now, for me this is a highly anticipated sequel (as they say in PR land). But there’s no one in the theatre. I mean it is seriously sparse with reviewers in here. I don’t get it, because I really liked the first film. Hunted a PAL DVD of it down at a Fangoria convention and felt like I was buying contraband the way the transaction went down, but it was worth it. Just a solid shot of virus-laden zombie-fied paranoia-filled, claustrophobic, no holds barred horror adrenaline delivered straight to your region-free machine (in my case).
So, I was genuinely curious as to what Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza were going to come up with for their second visit to the quarantined apartment building filled with rabid zombie tenants.
The film picks up immediately where the last film left off, where the television hostess that suffered and struggled through the last film was the “last man dragged off”. Literally.
And then we cut to the SWAT team getting locked and loaded as they race to the scene of the whatever-the-hell-it-is they’ve got sealed up in there.
So it’s the ALIENS treatment, right? The cops are all cocky with their firepower and body armor and ignorance of the horror that lies in store. That always spells a good time. And, of course, the idea is that we are watching recorded footage so they have to tell each other over and over “Record everything!” So we’ll be fine with the fact that they are focusing on the auto focus while trying their best to keep from getting bitten or something – rather than throwing the camera at one of the crazies before running away from it while peeing down their leg.
You almost expect someone to reply, “What about when I getting killed?” Stern answer: “Record everything – ESPECIALLY while you’re getting killed!” But our directing tandem knows you’ve seen this bit before so they’re gonna give you a little extra. And that is…
That’s what I’m talking about! I get to watch one isolated group fight for their life while keeping tabs on the other unfortunates surrounded by gory monsters with the munchies in another part of the building. Fun!
Anyway, the SWAT guys are escorting some Health Official into the building to find out what the source of the plague is so they can stop it, blah, blah, blah. Okay, fine, we’ve got our excuse, let’s go play with the bad things.
And no sooner do the SWAT guys get into the penthouse apartment where the doctor lived that launched this little plague when our health official reveals he is actually a priest and that we don’t have the zombie virus version of the common code – no, this is actually a biological extension of demonic possession.
That’s right, the devil’s virus. What will The Vatican think of next?
But before we can dwell on that silliness, a zombie kid attacks from the ceiling (check your ALIENS’ playbook) for a thrill ride scene to throw you right out of your seat. And that’s the beauty of this film. Is it ridiculous as all get out? Yes, of course, it is. But it’s full of ideas, madly derivative, or not. And it keeps them AND the adrenaline-fueled gore-ified action coming. And coming. And more coming around the corner. Think you’ve seen every way there is to kill a crazed zombie person? How about by bottle rocket?! How about a demon zombie that can do impressions? What’s that you say? Okay, but other that Rich Little? Anyway, REC 2 successfully does that even up to the very last shot. Which, I won’t spoil for you. Just get the popcorn, strap yourself in and enjoy.
Next up is John Hillcoat’s film of Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD. Your first image of Viggo Mortensen’s ashen, skeletal face of survival basically asks “Would like some cream with your bleak?”
I’m sorry, I meant to say “Would you like some cannibalism with your bleak?” And I hope your answer is yes, because apparently when the neo-cons get done playing nuclear Frisbee with the rest of the world then scorched earth means nothing left to eat.
But each other.
“Are we still the good guys?”
This is a question that Viggo’s character’s son frequently asks throughout the film. In other words, have they still managed to hold on to their humanity despite the fact they are starving. And not just for food. Frequent flashbacks to the time when their nuclear (pun very much I intended) family included Charlize Theron’s mother character – both pre-disaster and post-disaster add to the gut-wrenching heartbreak the father and son endure. But they continue on, painstakingly making their way to the coast, trying to find food and steering clear of other people that might want to eat them along the way. Occasionally, they’ll happen upon a bountiful harvest of canned goods or maybe a can of Coke (which apparently, just like cockroaches, will be one of the few things to survive the apocalypse) or a kindly old coot (an unrecognizable Robert Duvall), but this imagining of what that kind of future holds contains no kindness. At one point Mortensen asks Duvall’s old man character, “Ever wish you would die?” And his reply sums it up: “No. It’s foolish to ask for luxuries in times like these.”
So, we’re left to ponder what would keep us going and clinging desperately to life. And wonder if a father’s love for his son and his stalwart sense of hope for something, anything – would be enough. THE ROAD takes the bleakest, most arduous path to pose that question and it is an endurance test to be sure. But ultimately, I think it’s worth asking.
After the screening, I ran into Joe Leyton, longtime (and I mean, loooong time…) film critic for Daily Variety and as more than a few film legends would attest: THE film critic for the state of Texas. He is a true professor of film, has talked to or interviewed everyone at some time during the last thirty or so years, and can speak at length about the entire package – and do so lovingly and entertainingly. So it was very cool to have a nice long conversation with him with anecdotes abounding. Those meet-ups and subsequent conversations are one of the things that make going to film festivals a constant thrill for me.
The final film of the day was the Australian thriller, THE LOVED ONES. Directed by Sean Byrne it’s your basic awkward girl with a crush on the unattainable cute boy has daddy abduct him for her own private DIY prom…uhmm, story.
Now, the object of her obsessions has his own issues, having caused his father’s death by wrecking the family car while trying to avoid hitting what turns out to be one of our girl’s previous “boyfriends”.
So, now he can work out those feelings while he tries to escape teenage MISERY. And as he tries to mollify her to stay alive and buy time to attempt an escape, daddy is making moony eyes at his lethal little girl while princess makes loony eyes back at papa.
Let’s just say it out loud: Australians know crazy.
And Byrne is not shy about letting his crazies play. A little fried chicken meal with the happy couple, daddy and a lobotomized mommy, a little alternate hardware use with a hammer and a power drill, etc. And, of course – what do-it-yourself prom would be complete without carving your initials surrounded by a heart in your date’s chest and then salting the wound – literally?
Trust me, there’s more. All kinds of dance with a teenage psycho girl more. And under a sparkly disco ball.
Which is exactly as it should be.