Archive | September, 2013

Chris Alexander’s QUEEN OF BLOOD Announcement!

3 Sep

Fangoria editor-in-chief and filmmaker Chris Alexander’s critically acclaimed film BLOOD FOR IRINA (2012) moved audiences around the world this year and now we have received word that his follow-up feature QUEEN OF BLOOD is in pre-production!


(New York, NY – August 28, 2013)

Following the critical and festival success of multiple-award winning experimental horror film BLOOD FOR IRINA, Autonomy Pictures is proud to announce they will be producing Chris Alexander’s next project, QUEEN OF BLOOD. The new film will further deconstruct the vampire myth created in IRINA and will continue Alexander’s filmmaking style of blending mood, startling imagery and original music all drenched in a sea of deep red blood. The film is currently in pre-production and will be released in Spring 2014. 

“With my first film, which was an education in filmmaking, I created an unconventional, mood piece tackling themes such as death, birth, redemption, addiction and loneliness,” says director Chris Alexander.  “With QUEEN OF BLOOD, I will continue to expand on those themes and fuse them into a Horror/Western hybrid which will make it a darker, stranger and visceral film experience. I’m excited that I’m working with Autonomy Pictures again as they give me complete creative freedom to bring my vision to life.”

QUEEN OF BLOOD follows the rebirth of Irina (once more portrayed by Shauna Henry), who rises from the center of the Earth, ready to bring a wave of death and madness to the battered wastelands of the Wild West. A parasite who roams the alternately breathtaking and dangerous rural landscape, Irina leaves of path of bloody destruction and victims as she aims her sights on a young widow whose unborn child may hold the secret to Irina’s longevity.  Dark, erotic, beautiful and bizarre, QUEEN OF BLOOD will be an immersive, horror dream and nightmare brought to vivid, violent life.

The film will also star horror art/music pioneer and Skinny Puppy frontman Nivek Ogre with additional cast members announced soon.  QUEEN OF BLOOD is written by Chris Alexander, Editor-in-Chief of FANGORIA, who will also direct and compose the film’s score. Costume design will be handled by Toronto-based artist Alex Kavanagh, who has designed costumes for multiple films including the SAW franchise (including parts of the elaborate death traps), REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA and LAND OF THE DEAD.

Music in Horror Week | Interview with Timothy Andrew Edwards!

2 Sep
Hello delicious readers and adoring fans!
This week on Ashes and Rashes I have decided to focus on one of my favourite elements of the genre.  I want to talk about MUSIC.  The terrifying cues, the suspenseful crescendos and everything else that goes along with them.  We will be looking at my favourite scores and what makes a score effective.
But first!  I am so pleased to announce that this week I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to “sit down with” the man behind the chilling music of the film NECROMENTIA as well as some interesting television series themes, Timothy Andrew Edwards!
So let’s start with my favourite question. What’s your favourite scary movie?
I have two. The very first “Halloween” and Dario Argento’s “Suspiria”. 
With “Halloween”, I loved the use of long, wide camera shots of people going about their business; unknowingly being watched from Michael Myers vantage point. It puts the viewer in close proximity to the antagonist, forcing us to participate in The Shape’s voyeurism. Chilling. One’s imagination is left to fill in the blanks. The setting drew me in as well. It doesn’t matter what time of year you watch that film, you immediately feel the chill in the air. You are transported. It feels like Autumn. Pasadena, where it was primarily shot, became the Midwestern community of Haddonfield… everything is right about that film. I also have to tell you, I was beyond honored last year to score the mini-documentary, “You Can’t Kill the Bogeyman” which screened theatrically here and in the UK along with the original “Halloween”. It was amazing to be asked to be a part of such an iconic film…
Everything about “Suspiria” held my attention for the entire ride. The look, the extreme colors… The scene where the taxi is driving through the woods and the headlights are cutting through the trees? It is so composed it looks like a painting. We dont know what we are seeing for a few seconds until the headlights come into full view. Suspiria, for me, is a Technicolor Grimm’s fairy tale. It has that vibe. And there are such fine details in that film. Argento wastes no time. For example, the closeup and sound of the hydraulic doors at the airport shutting rapidly behind Suzy foreshadows; It’s sinister. Speaking of sinister sound, the score by the Italian band Goblin is incredible! I have a Suspiria story too…
Tell me your Suspiria story!
Well, it’s funny because Hollywood is a really small town in that you can connect people in the most unlikely ways based on the projects you work on. It really is a small community. Robert Englund turned me on to Dario Argento’s work and I loved the fact, beyond the incredible films, Argento used a band (Goblin), not a traditional composer, to score many of his films so I started checking out the Argento DVD’s and the Goblin scores. A few years later, I scored a Danny DeVito comedy directed by Sam Harper, who was a lot of fun to work with. His sister, Jessica, made a brief appearance in the film. While at Private Island Trax, the studio we used for mixing, I jokingly laid claim to the “Argento chair” as my seat for luck at each session because Dario just did a film prior and used to sit in this one specific chair. Sam casually said… “Oh, my sister Jessica made a film with him…” So, here I am working on this mainstream comedy and the last name hits me and the horror connection pops up again. “Suspiria?” I asked. “Wow, yeah… you know the film?”. 
Jessica Harper, his sister, was the lead in “Suspiria”.
That’s insane! Also, you’re the second person I’ve interviewed who just casually throws in “Oh I was talking to Robert Englund and…” 
Well, Robert directed the first film I ever scored, the horror/comedy “Killer Pad”.
I just saw SUSPIRIA for the first time this year and was so impressed by the lighting, colour and music. What made you think about getting into the music industry?
Music. Literally. I know that sounds obvious but I truly cannot remember a time when I didn’t hear music either via my parents or siblings or in my own head and I’m talking about from when I was maybe three years old. When you’re three, you don’t know what a band is, what a composer is or that a music business even exists. I just heard music. But that’s probably taking it too far back…?
So tell me about how you got your start in the business.
To paraphrase Robert Fripp “Music is a language spoken through many dialects” so playing guitar in a band or writing orchestral music at the same time didn’t feel off to me. It was all music. That being said, I had a childhood friend who I was in a band with in high school. He ended up quitting music and working on a show on the Paramount lot in Hollywood. He only really knew me musically as the guitarist in his old band. He came over to just hang out one day and asked what I had been working on and I played him some instrumental music that was very different from what he had heard from me in high school. Fast forward about two weeks, he called me from Paramount and said “Look, this show wants to use this fanfare written by John Williams but it’s super expensive… do you think you could write something similar?”. I only had one synth and an awful sampler at the time so I layered and layered and layered all these brass sounds and added a ton of reverb, (laughs) and sent it in thinking “Here we go!”. They loved it and followed up by asking me if I could also give them a timpani drumroll. I was trying to think if my sampler had any good timpani sounds so I was silent for a moment and they took that as hesitation and said “Of course, we’ll pay you for it as a separate (music) cue…” so I said “Uh… of course!”. Fast forward another two weeks and they asked if I wanted to compose twenty more pieces of music to be used on the show so I did and that was the beginning of my career. Next, I did their theme music and the word got out that not only did my work speak for itself but that I was on point and could realize a producer’s or director’s vision quickly. Opportunities just started presenting themselves after that. So, I have Maestro John Williams to thank!
That is amazing, now you’ve done a lot of music for television, what are some of the shows that you have worked on?
I think all in all I have worked on 44 shows and all within a relatively short period of time. Lets see… “eXtra”, “Ellen DeGeneres”, “TMZ”, “The Bachelor”, “The Bachelorette”… a lot of “reality/unscripted” shows like “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”. Again, all music, just different dialects. I’ve had songs I’ve written placed on “The Vampire Diaries” and “Smallville”… things like that. A funny thing… Fangoria magazine reviewed my horror score to “Necromentia” and used one of my favorite lines to this day to describe my music for it which was “…an almost unbearably oppressive meltdown of aural darkness”. Afterwards, the reviewer went through my credits on a website called imdb, the Internet Movie Database ) and said (paraphrasing) “I can’t believe the same composer that did this severely dark, horror score also wrote the theme for eXtra!”. But you see, for me, it’s about getting to the core of the story or the show regardless of what it is about and enhancing the experience for the audience. Period. It can never be just about the music. It has to work with the story, the acting, the lighting, the editing, the direction…
That is such a perfect way to go about it. How exactly did you prepare yourself for your work on Necromentia? I would like to point out that the scene with Mr. Skinny’s theme haunted my dreams last night, thanks.
Oh no! I would say I’m sorry but I think that actually means I did my job! Ha! “Necromentia”. I received a call from the director, Pearry Teo, saying I was recommended and would I like to come check it out and, by the way, we have like eight days to do this because it has to go to Cannes by a certain date. He also said a few other composers were being considered. I wanted to do a score that was uncompromising and strictly based on the terms of the film. With this in mind, I went in and we immediately found a common language, as artists, regarding ideas for the score and I was hired. Pearry was so fantastic to work with! He placed a lot of trust in me because he was also working on other elements of the film while I was scoring it and we could only touch base a few times a day. This turned into twenty hour days. Despite the time constraints, I had to make it effective because I truly can’t see working any other way. I decided to create a sound palette of cellos, contrabass, piano… a lot of lower ranged instruments to keep it dark. Strings actually produce sound by tension. I worked hard so the audience could hear all the bowing across the strings very clearly so they felt that tension coming across in the music… like in the shaving scene. Instead of letting the time constraint dictate the work, I used the limitations forced on the project to our advantage due to the ever present, ticking clock. That presented itself as a different way to work. Not a better way but not a wrong way either. I’m proud of that score because it did give the film a voice and the film and it’s visual impact shaped the score and that’s a great situation to have even with those kind of time constraints. “The Mr Skinny Show Theme” song was meant to be a horrific bit of comic relief. It ended up being one of the most talked about parts of the film, partially due to the music, particularly the lyrics and partially due to the fact that Pearry had the lyrics appear onscreen with this demented clown’s head animation as a “follow the bouncing ball” type of thing for the audience to sing along with. I’ve heard death metal covers of it on YouTube and even a version in French. We hired a voiceover artist who voices kid’s cartoons to sing it so that gave it an extra twisted dimension. One reviewer said the song must have been delivered to the director by “Satan himself”. Gee… thanks…? Ha!
Well the score is definitely effective! People don’t really seem to understand that music plays such a big part in film and how a film effects you after viewing it. And I have to say that Mr. Skinny’s theme is my favourite part in the movie so thank you for that insight! What are some of your favourite film scores? Horror or other genres?
I love anything that brings you back to the film immediately upon hearing it. The themes from “Halloween”, Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” from “The Exorcist” (although a licensed piece of music and not truly score), “Jaws”, “Star Wars”… I don’t hear that happening as often in films these days. The main title theme from “Necromentia”, “In Secundum Vita”, was my first real effort into composing something that would bring you back to the film immediately upon hearing it. It was a stylistic choice. I mention this because composers have so many options now, sonically, that a shift has occurred from scoring melodically to texturally. Before, composers were a bit more limited with sounds so they generally were restricted to writing for the instrument. Now, they have the technology to produce sounds that do not occur in nature or from any traditional point of reference so I hear a shift to “sound” driven scoring from the more traditional approaches. Of course, composers are still writing great music that is melodic and harmonically rich, but I hear a focus on texture more than ever. I think, and hope, at some point we will hear scores that will meet somewhere in the middle more often than they currently do. I mean, drones are great and make for a good, creepy ambience, but not throughout the entire film. It loses any and all impact it could have had. Give us shadow AND light. Transport and entertain us. All this being said, aside from memorable themes, I think a great score is one that enhances the film to the point that you are almost unaware of it because it is moving you forward or drawing you deeper into a scene without you really knowing it. A common mistake among non-film (and a few film) composers is the mindset that because they can write and orchestrate a huge orchestral piece of music or on the other hand, produce interesting, cool, textural ambiences, they can score a film. If a film needs a huge orchestral score (for example), then you absolutely must have that skill-set, however that skill-set is just one aspect of scoring. One must have and continually develop their sensibilities to a point where they can help tell the story with their music or to make the music another character or to give an alternative point of view or to let the audience hear what the character is feeling… AND at precisely the right moment, sometimes within a fraction of a frame. It’s another layer of storytelling that cannot be taken for granted. A bad score might be a great piece of music on it’s own bit if it distracts you and takes you out of the story, it’s a bad score.
I also was just talking to someone about scores and how when you think of good music in horror the two that immediately come to mind are HALLOWEEN and THE EXORCIST. Do you have any new projects coming up that you can talk about?
I am always scoring something. I compose and record everyday and when I don’t it’s because I’m meeting someone about scoring.
Anything horrific?
There are two films I cannot quite talk about yet but as soon as I get the green-light, I’ll be certain to update you. One is a psychological thriller, a “cat and mouse” game, that has an amazing cast, a great script and a director I really am looking forward to working with. The other is horror based on a Bulgarian folk tale that is incredibly intense so I’m excited! I am signed on to score Justin Beahm’s “Blood Flower” starring Andrew Divoff and Philip Friedman from “Insidious”. I’m very excited for all of these projects. I also score the promos for the sCare Foundation which is a charity that enlists actors, directors, producers, composers, you name it… from the genre community to help combat teen homelessness and raise funding and awareness. That’s a cause close to my heart.
Well, I am very excited to hear all of it! I want to thank you Timothy for your time! Before we go, any last words?
Last words? Is this turning into a kill?
Haha for the interview. Its supposed to be cheeky.
As you said earlier, Jessie, music is so important to a film. It can change the temperature in the room, it can define a project, sometimes for the best and sometimes… not. Some filmmakers, not all, look at music as something to add in post-production but I recommend bringing your composer in as early as possible. If they can make it to the set, invite them out! Let us hear and see your direction and intent while shooting. Have late night conversations about your vision, your favorite music or even life in general… the overall result could, and should, be a better film because as I said before, filmmaking consists of many parts but everything must absolutely work together to make it one, amazing experience for the audience and because horror fans are a true community, a smart community with highly developed tastes and a truly supportive community, we owe them the best ride possible.
I would like to thank Tim again for the opportunity to pick his brain about what makes a good score, and I will be updating the blog soon on some new and exciting things coming from TAE Music. 
To find out more about Timothy, check out his website here, his IMDB page here, and why not mosey on over here to listen to the chilling score of NECROMENTIA.
Stay scared my friends!