Playstation 4 Video Game Review “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes – 2.0 Edition”

Platform: Playstation 4
Developer: Avalanche Software
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Release date: September 23, 2014
Rating: Everyone 10+

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Disney Infinity” is back and better for its second edition called “Marvel Super Heroes”. Superheroes have never been bigger and this latest 2.0 edition features 16 Marvel figurines and 40 power discs (82 in total to be released in future wave), so there’s no shortage of options at all. After playing the original “Disney Infinity”, I found myself picking it apart quite a bit. This game really improves on the first games issues and delivers a mush more fun and content filled game. It is still not perfect but it is a blast to play and I have a feeling I will be playing this for many months to come.

“Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” is split up into different two game modes much like the original. There is the Playset mode and Toybox mode. In the playset mode, you can transport into the world of one of the hit franchises from the game and generally run anywhere between 6–10 hours in length, so they are no incredible long but do back some great content. The Toybox mode still allows players to create their own games and worlds, using items unlocked in Playset mode.

When it comes to figures, we get the following three franchises covered to start including “The Avengers”, “Spider-Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”. In the Starter Pack, we get Iron Man, Black Widow and Thor. Captain America, Hawkeye and Hulk are available in single character packs and complete the roster for “The Avengers”. I cannot wait for Wave 2 to come for this franchise since Loki and Falcon have been confirmed!

Next up is “Spider-Man”, only with the web slinger himself, we also have Nova, who is included in the play set. Venom, Iron Fist and Nick Fury are available as single character packs. I am a bit taken back that Nick Fury is seated with Spider-Man. I am sure some young kids aren’t going to make the connection just yet since he is primarily seen with “The Avengers” in the film and TV series.

Lastly and easily my favorite film of the year, we have Guardians of the Galaxy. Included in the playset is Star-Lord and Gamora, while Drax, Groot and Rocket Raccoon are available in single character packs. Future wave 2 release for this series include Ronan and Yondu, so there is plenty of growth and expansion available here as well.

Unlike the first game, you are only able to play specific characters in specific playsets. This new edition allows you to collected “Cross Over Tokens” scattered throughout levels in order to bring character like Nova, Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon and Hulk into more than one playset. This gives the game and entirely new dynamic and I really enjoyed it.

These new figures are really a big improvement over the first game. I really enjoyed the “Guardians of the Galaxy” characters. The abilities were great and really run to play with. My real surprise honestly has to be Nova from “Spider-Man” play set. I really enjoyed him as well. With “The Avengers” each of them are equally amazing. Hulk has a great special move. Iron Man can sort of glide. Captain America has his shield to through around. There are 16 characters and I spent a lot of time just fighting with myself to figure out who I should try first.

Since there are 40 power discs in wave one, I will highly a few of my favorite. S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Strike is a great ability. Infinity Gauntlet is a rare and very powerful disc. If you are an “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” fan, getting to ride in Lola is a blast. There is also Ability discs that allow Team Up with characters like YOndu, Winter Soldier and Ant-Man. In the toy box, the customization for “Guardians of the Galaxy” is pretty cool with Groot’s View and Groot’s Roots.

Also a very cool expansion feature is that you are able to take all of your original Disney Infinity figures and power discs and they can still be used in the Disney Infinity (2.0 Edition) toy box. You cannot use original play sets though with the 2.0 gam though. This adds a lot more ability to play with this new game and to have original Disney Infinity characters meeting 2.0 edition characters.

The control are a bit tighter in this new edition. I felt that the driving in the first game was absolutely horridenous and this time around it is much smoother. The violence is not too bad but I am honestly not a fan of the ability to turn on civilians in the game. You are able to drive down the street and literally plow down people. I am sorry but this isn’t “Grand Theft Auto”. There isn’t any blood or anything, so it doesn’t seem that bad but still could have been tamed a bit and feels very unnecessary.

November 4th brings us a new wave of Disney Original figures for use in the Toy Box. Included characters in the first batch are Donald Duck, Aladdin, Jasmine, Tinker Bell, Stitch, Hiro Hamada & Baymax from Big Hero 6, Merida and Maleficent. I can’t wait to check these characters out. Hopefully in the the next edition of “Disney Infinity” isn’t to far, far away 😉 Fingers crossed Disney! Cross over to the Dark Side!

Marvel’s Spider-Man Play Set Swings Into Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes

With the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo beginning today, Disney Interactive is officially announcing the latest Play Set to appear in Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) – Marvel’s Spider-Man Play Set. Please check out the new gameplay trailer for a first look at new characters coming to the Play Set and Toy Box 2.0.

The Spider-Man Play Set will feature a storyline which follows the Green Goblin as he tries to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. once and for all. After capturing Venom to extract and clone symbiotes from him, he hires Mysterio to be his second in command and wreak havoc on the Marvel universe. Players will fight the spreading symbiotes and face Mysterio and Green Goblin in in the sewers, labs and skies above Manhattan.

Key highlights for the Spider-Man Play Set include:

  • Play Set: Playable characters include Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Iron Fist, Nova and Venom with additional appearances by White Tiger, Black Cat and Luke Cage. Players will be tasked to destroy the cloned symbiotes and advance to fight Mysterio.
  • Toy Box: Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Iron Fist, Nova and Venom will be playable in the all-new Toy Box 2.0 mode of the game, along with all characters previously released for Disney Infinity. Players will be able to use these characters, plus hundreds of Marvel and Disney-themed items, locations, props and vehicles, to create new adventures in customized worlds. Once players complete the Spider-Man Play Set, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Hover Car, S.H.I.E.L.D. Sky Cycle, Daily Bugle Building and more will be unlocked and can be used in Toy Box.

The Spider-Man Play Set will be available in retail stores this fall. Additional Play Sets and characters will be announced in the coming months.

About Disney Infinity
Disney Infinity is an interactive gaming platform where players have unprecedented freedom and endless opportunity to create stories and play experiences starring the beloved characters from across the worlds of Disney. Building on the success of last year’s initial launch, Disney Interactive announced that Disney Infinity’s next chapter, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, will hit stores this fall. In the all new game, players use real-world interactive figures to activate original storylines (Play Sets) in the virtual game worlds of popular Marvel franchises and create new adventures with other Disney Infinity characters in the Toy Box mode. For more information, visit Disney.com/Infinity.

“Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” Avengers Play Set Trailer Released

Disney Interactive today released additional details and a new trailer for Marvel’s The Avengers Play Set which will be available for Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition). Slated for release this fall, gamers will be invited to take part in a brand new true-to-property storyline crafted with the help of award-winning Marvel comic writer Brian Michael Bendis and featuring The Avengers Super Heroes Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Hawkeye.

Play Set: The Avengers Play Set is the first play set to be announced for Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes and features Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow, with Captain America, Hawkeye and Hulk sold separately. Players will take the role of earth’s mightiest heroes as they try to put an end to Loki’s cold-hearted plans to invade New York City. Along the way, they will learn that Loki isn’t working alone and that this is but the first step in a villainous plot that threatens the entire planet. The Avengers will need not only their strength and wits, but also the technology and insight of S.H.I.E.L.D. to have any chance of saving the world.

Toy Box: In the all-new Toy Box 2.0, players will be able to use Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow and all of The Avengers characters, plus hundreds of Marvel-themed items, locations, props and vehicles, to create new and exciting adventures in customized worlds.

The Avengers Play Set and new Toy Box mode will be included in the Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack. Additional Play Sets and characters will be announced in the coming months.

Disney and Marvel Team Up for Super-Powered Sequel – Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition)

                       New Chapter in Best-Selling Disney Infinity Franchise Delivers More than 20 Marvel Super Heroes Including Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor and More

BURBANK, Calif. – (April 30, 2014) – Today, Disney Interactive and Marvel Entertainment confirmed that the world’s most iconic Super Heroes are assembling for Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes – the 2.0 edition of the #1 best-selling new hybrid toy / video game of 2013, according to the NPD Group’s video games retail sales data.

Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes features more than 20 new interactive figures from across the Marvel universe, original storylines penned by award-wining Marvel comic writer Brian Michael Bendis, and an all-new Toy Box mode that makes it easier for players to create and share their one-of-a-kind levels and mini-games with family and friends. In addition, all characters and power discs from last year’s release of Disney Infinity will be compatible with the Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Toy Box.

Disney Infinity was, from the start, built to be an interactive experience where players could bring together their favorite Disney characters and stories to create new Disney memories.  With the introduction of Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, we’re ushering in a new chapter of adventures, featuring a cast of the world’s most popular Super Heroes,” said Jimmy Pitaro, President of Disney Interactive.  “Bringing popular and iconic Marvel characters to the Disney Infinity platform truly takes this game to the next level.”

“We’ve worked closely with the Disney Interactive team to deliver an incredible line-up of Marvel characters and great storytelling for the next chapter of Disney Infinity,” said Peter Phillips, EVP and General Manager, Interactive & Digital Distribution at Marvel Entertainment. “The 2.0 edition will allow Marvel fans around the world to interact with their favorite Marvel Super Heroes in entirely new ways, including compelling gameplay and a new line of collectible interactive figures.”

The Avengers’ Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Hawkeye will debut when the game launches this fall, along with additional Play Sets and characters from other popular Marvel and Disney franchises, which will be announced in the coming months. Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes will be available for the PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems, Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system and Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, the Wii U™ system from Nintendo, PC and iOS tablets and smart phones.

“Marvel Super Heroes fit perfectly into Disney Infinity, and with them we are pushing the platform’s limits of creativity and imagination,” said John Blackburn, VP and General Manager of Avalanche Software. “We’ve enhanced and redesigned the gameplay to match the Marvel characters, while also making it easier than ever for players to express and share their own creativity.”

Disney Interactive
Disney Interactive, one of the world’s largest creators of high-quality interactive entertainment across all platforms, is the part of The Walt Disney Company responsible for the global creation and delivery of interactive entertainment, multi-platform video games, and family-focused content across all current and emerging digital media platforms.  Disney Interactive produces and distributes a broad portfolio of content from Disney Interactive Games and Disney Interactive Media.  Products and content released and operated by Disney Interactive include blockbuster mobile, social and console games, online virtual worlds, #1 kid’s entertainment destination Disney.com and the #1 Family/Parenting portfolio on the Web.  Disney Interactive is the interactive entertainment part of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS).

About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years

Book Review “Disney Infinity: Prima Official Game Guide (2014 Revised Edition)”

Author: Howard Grossman
Series: Prima Official Game Guides
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Prima Games
Revised edition
Release Date: March 11, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been playing “Disney Infinity” since the first game it was released and it is so much fun. But to be honest, I probably would have enjoyed it as much without reading the Disney Infinity: Prima Official Game Guide. The book was jam-packed with everything you need to know about the game. Well, since this game is ever-expanding it is only expected that the book should as well. Prima Games released an updated 2014 Revised Edition with over 175 new pages included. I was hesitant at first since I already owned the original guide but this one is a must own for anyone playing Disney Infinity, no question!

This book features easy-to-follow walkthroughs for all ages. Are you stuck on a specific puzzle, mission or quest? If so this book really lays it out for everyone to be able to follow and get the most out of the game. Since the release of the last book, Disney Infinity has released tons of new characters and play sets including “Toy Story in Space”. Included inside are exclusive maps cover every play set with detailed locations of hidden areas, items, and collectibles. If you are looking to max out your new characters like Jack Skellington, Phineas, Agent P, Sorcerer Mickey, Rapunzel, Anna & Elsa and many more you can find out how to unlock their powers and gadgets along with details on the entire power disc collection.

Most importantly if you are a fan of “Disney Infinity” then you enjoy to play in the Toy Box mode. You are able to learn how to build and customize your own virtual world with the detailed guide given on the variety of Disney characters, powers, gadgets and accessories. This new revised edition also comes with free mobile access to the eGuide. This will allow you access your guide from PC, Mac, tablet and smartphone devices etc. I found this really handy when I didn’t have the book right in front of me. So if you are playing “Disney Infinity”, I cannot recommend this guide from Prima Games anymore!

Video Game Review “Disney Infinity: Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Pack”

Video Game: Disney Infinity
Format: Any Platform
Media: Accessory
Release Date: April 1, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Disney Infinity is like the gift that just keeps on giving. The latest toy box pack released is “Phineas and Ferb”, even though it included Phineas and Agent P (while excluding Ferb). Personally, I would want Agent P anyway over Ferb (poor Ferb, you don’t talk much…you don’t get much love). The Disney Channel animated series has become so popular over the years. I remember about back around 2008, I was dying to find a Perry the Platypus plush doll and I couldn’t find anything anywhere. Now there is so much merchandise and this show is still going strong with over 200 episodes aired to date.

I play this game a lot and of course we all have our favorite characters to kick around the toy boxes with. Previously I have been having a blast with Sorcerer Mickey but I think Agent P might be taking the reign for sure. He is such a fun character and also has a pretty wicked flying fedora is in artillery. Phineas is no less cooler though. I can see tons of kids getting very creative with their toy boxes and taking on the persona of the character. Plus he also packs a very handy baseball blaster on him.

Along with these two toy box characters, this pack also included two wave 3 power discs. If you follow the game, you will realize that Wave 3 has not even been released yet, so this is a real treat as well. The first is “Tri-State Area Terrain” Texture set and the second is “Danville Sky” Skydome. The transformation of the toy box really looks spot on with the show’s aesthetic value. If you are a fan of the show you get to run around in these well know locations from the show.

I am not sure that this is the absolute final word but I have been following this game for a while and I have a feeling that this might be the last toy box set in series 2. I have been searching online and I have not heard any word about future characters, which means that Disney Interactive might be gearing up and holding out for “Disney Infinity 2”. Either way if you are looking for more ways to expand this amazing game, the Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Pack is a must have for any fan of the show.

Product Review “Disney Infinity Figures: Rapunzel & Wreck-It Ralph”

Disney Infinity Series
Platform: Nintendo Wii, Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3
Disney Interactive Studios
Exclusive Release

Rapunzel: 4 out of 5 stars
Wreck-It Ralph Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Since the release of Disney Infinity late August, I have been obsessed with this game. There are so many endless possibilities and Disney has been releasing so many great characters this year. Two of the latest figures released are Rapunzel & Wreck-It Ralph. They are also from two of my favorite movies of all-time…yes all-time! My daughter seriously watching “Tangled” at least 3-5 times a week and I try and watch “Wreck-It Ralph” at least once a month. I was really excited to give these characters a go in the Toy Box mode in Disney Infinity. They do not have their own world’s like “Toy Story” and “The Lone Ranger” but you can at least transform your Toy Box into their respective themes since both “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph” has Texture and Terrain Power Discs, which were available in Series 1. I would highly recommend both of these characters.

What is great about these both is that they speak to both male and female audiences. Obviously Wreck-It Ralph is no question going to be over so well with the “boys” and Rapunzel will be a must for the “girls”. My daughter in fact loves both of them equally…given she is only 18 months old but from the minute I took them out of the box she is carrying them around (even in the car) when I am not playing them in the game.  Wreck-It Ralph has a really cool special attack, in which he throws cherry bombs that when hits the ground or it’s target explodes and looks like something from an old 8-bit game. Ralph also runs and pounds the ground with his fists and he destroys everything or everyone in his path. Rapunzel is quite fun as well, she has a killer special move, which is a called Frying Pan Bash. Frying pans…who knew right? Sorry I’ve seen this movie was too many times. Plus there is nothing cooler than see Rapunzel piloting a Recognizer from “TRON” personally (another favorite of mine).

Overall, they are really well designed and look quite amazing. I love Rapunzel’s animated look and I also love her pose as well. That seen in the movie when she gets to the town and gets her hair braided is so sweet. Wreck-It Ralph has little subtleties as well that I love that he a really cool 8-bit sound when his attacks are done. Totally cool for a retro gamer like myself. There is tons of fun to have with these characters and I have a feeling that I have only just began to explore the many possibilities to enjoy with these.  I really can’t wait to see what they have planned for 2014 because this year will be very hard to top. Currently the Wreck-It Ralph and Rapunzel figures are sold exclusively at certain retail stores. Wreck-It Ralph is available only at Best Buy and Rapunzel is only available at Wal-Mart…if you can find them due to the holidays.

Interview with James Wan & Leigh Whannell

James Wan & Leigh Whannell are the director and the writer of “Insidious” (respectively).  The started their career by creating the “Saw” franchise.  Since then the guys have worked together on various other projects including “Death Sentence” and “Dead Silence”.  James and Leigh took aside some time during their very busy press day for “Insidious” to chat with Movie Mikes about the new film and working together again on this project.

Mike Gencarelli: James, Tell us about how you became attached to “Insidious”?
James Wan: This is a project that happened when I met with one of the producers of “Paranormal Activity”, we hit it off.   I met with the rest of the gang and introduced them to my partner in crime Leigh Whannell.  We said “Guys we want to do a project together”. We all got along so well, we decided to go out there and work on a film together.  That marriage became “Insidious”.

MG: Leigh, Tell us about coming up with this idea for the script?
Leigh Whannell: This idea, like all, James and I came up with it together, even before we came up with “Saw”.  We were trying to find something that we could shot in a really low budget way.  We had a goal for a $5,000 budget for a film and we were trying to come up with idea that would suit that budget.  The core idea at the heart of “Insidious” is what we came up with.  I don’t want to give anything away to the readers but the end is what we essentially came up with.  We thought it was pretty good and almost went with it.  But one day James called me and said he had the idea of two guys chained up in a public toilet.  I thought that was a better idea and I am glad we went with that.  So we filed the idea for “Insidious” in the file cabinet in the back of your brain. When James had the meeting with Steven Schneider, one of the producers of “Paranormal” that he was just talking about… we came to the belief that we would be pretty foolish by not making this film.

MG: You guys have worked together on every project now, would you consider this project to be you’re most difficult?
JW: I think this actually has been the most fun project that Leigh and I have working together on.
LW: I agree, but not easiest in terms of coming up with the idea, writing the film and directing it.  That stuff is hard…and it is definitely hard to do those things on a small budget. But the ease came from great people.  The cast and crew were just so easy to get along with.  The producers were so great and stayed true to there word by letting us make a film we wanted to make, while also giving us great ideas and thoughts.  They were true collaborators. Everything was just so great.  I definitely have had the most fun working on this, the same as James.

MG: Since the film was low budget, did you feel still feel you were able to achieve everything you wanted?
JW: Oddly, this film actually cost less to make than “Saw” and “Saw” was very low budget.  Yet the ironic thing is I managed to pretty much make the movie I wanted to make.  I think this is the reason why, “Saw” was my first film and  I didn’t have a filmmaking infrastructure around me.  I didn’t have the support or a crew that I knew.  Fast forward to four films later… “Insidious” is my fourth movie, even though it is less money, I have brought in a really great team of people and crew.  I got a cinematographer that I love…an AD that is brilliant…costume and production design…hair and makeup…everyone came to work on this film because they wanted to work with me again. I managed to get an A quality film for basically a no-budget movie.

MG: James, Why did you take on the task of editing as well as directing?
JW: Purely because I love editing [laughs].  It is a simple as that.  I love editing just as much as directing.  I have always edited my own stuff back in film school.  When you get to Hollywood people do not want you to wear yourself too thin.  So usually you have to give up the editing aspect of it.  Due to this being such a small movie and in some way real garage filmmaking for me, it was very experimental.  I got to shoot digital for the first time, which I loved.  It allowed me to do a lot of things that I couldn’t do with film.  I cut it myself in my bedroom on my little Macintosh Apple computer.  It was very liberating.  I thought only I would be able to crop the scare sequences because I shot it knowing how I planned to edit it.  That is the only way I would be able to get around shooting a film in only 22 days. I had a very strong specific way on how I was going to cut.  For me, I felt the scare scenes needed to be very effective and that all comes from how the film is edited and how the sound interacts with that footage.  If you are one second off, then your whole scare sequence is thrown off the curve.

MG: This film looks quite scary especially for PG-13, tell about working within that rating?
JW: Particularly, I know for Leigh he was just setup to write the script and it just so happened to fall into the PG-13 world.  For me it was definitely more conscious.  I didn’t want swearing, I didn’t want blood and guts.  I honestly believe that a lot of it has gotten lost in the last few years.  I think in a big part thanks to the franchise that Leigh and I have created.  People have forgotten that you can make a very scary movie without blood and guts.  You can make a very suspenseful with out throwing buckets of blood at the screen and you can do it this creepy atmosphere that gets into your head.

MG: How was it working with horror genre favorite, Lin Shayne?
JW: I have known Lin Shayne for a while now and there was only one person I wanted to cast for the role.  Most people know here for some of the over the top stuff that she has done but for me I know her and she is more than capable of doing the drama.  She is really great at it.  I really I wanted to give her the chance to do that on this film. Since she comes from a comedic background there is a great quirkiness to the role, which I think is fantastic.

MG: Leigh, did you right the part with Lin in mind?
LW: James told me very early on that he wanted that character set for Lin Shayne to play.  I have worked with her and I was able to write the character for her, which is awesome.  It is always easier to write a character for somebody you know.  You can take years of life experiences, quirks and habits and put it into the character.  That is actually how I build from the ground up. I always like to base characters on people I know because it is the easiest access point.  It was great writing the character having her in mind.  I also wrote the ghost hunters characters for myself and Angus Sampson.  With Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson’s characters, I didn’t know them so I based the characters on people I know in my life.

MG: Leigh, you not only started the “Saw” franchise but also starred in it, were you always planned to take on both roles?
LW: Yeah, that was our plan! As I said before we were trying to make a film for $5,000 dollars. That was our post film school plan. James wanted to direct something and I wanted to act in something. We were frustrated, so we came up with the idea and went out and did it.  I love acting.  I just enjoy it as much as I do writing.  I am not afraid to say that if I write a film I love to put myself in it, that way I can still be involved in the filmmaking process after the writing is done. The writing is where it all starts.  These are the plans for the house and you can’t build anything without the blueprints. Once I start I want to be there on the building site.  I want to be hammering some nails and helping out.  So the best way to do that is to be acting.

MG: What do you guys have planned next together?
JW: We have separate things we have been working on that we always check with each other about.
LW: Together as the team the Wan/Whannell brand…we are talking about doing a Sci-Fi.  We have come up with an idea and we really like it.  We ran the idea past some investors and they really liked it.  So that is definitely upcoming.

MG: Do you feel nervous going up against this weeks new films?
LW: Yeah for sure! We are always nervous about going against big films.
JW: Our film is a small little film and it is hard to compete with big studio films, “Hop” and “The Source Code”.  Those are big studio films, with huge marketing behind them.  We are here to nip at the hills.

Interview with Brian Yunza

Brian Yunza is a Director/Screenwriter/Producer known best for his work on the “Re-Animator” and “The Dentist” series. Most of his film work falls into the horror genre. Brian has also started production company, Fantastic Factory. He has worked quite a bit with Stuart Gordon and they are both big fans of H.P. Lovecraft and together they have developed several of his stories into films. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian about his films and what he has planned upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you reflect your favorite film in the “Re-Animator” series?
Brian Yunza: My favorite of the “Re-Animator” films is the first one because that not only invented the thing but it was also the first movie I had produced. Not to mention that it was the most successful. When you make a movie for the first time everything is new, every situation is unique, each challenge is fresh. Just like a first love, a first film is a process of discovery that can’t be repeated. If “Re-Animator” had turned out badly perhaps I would have buried the memory and moved on to another movie for my fond reminiscences. The sequels have a place in my heart, of course, but I am well aware that each of them had the goal of fulfilling certain expectations created by the first film.

MG:Tell us about working on “The Dentist” series? Would love to see that series continue?
BY: The first film in the series originated as an idea by the head of Trimark Pictures, Mark Amin. I agreed to develop and direct his idea and at that time my company would have also produced it for him. Mark didn’t insist on a particular story, only that the film should focus on the fear of sitting in the dentist chair, not on some fantastical or sci fi type of twist. We listened to pitches from over two dozen writers before settling on the story, and even then the script didn’t give us what we wanted. The process of working with Trimark was a very supportive and congenial one, and when I went off to Canada to produce Crying Freeman I was happy for them to make the movie without me if that worked out better for their schedule. When I returned and new writer had made some interesting improvements in the script and Pierre David had come on board to produce. I rejoined the project even though the budget had been slashed and worked on the script with on of Pierre’s executives while we were in pre production. Trimark did a great job of helping us find an appropriate and talented cast for the movie, and I can’t say enough about Corbin Bersen and his contribution to the film. He was more than just a lead actor, he was always there to help solve problems with creative solutions. I was insecure about The Dentist- I just didn’t know if it was going to work. I had never had such a minimalist situation for a story which led me to design the shooting of the movie more than I ever had before. It also had something I was not experienced in which was a ‘body count’. I was concerned that the killings be stylish and visual. All the sound and music was done by Alan Howarth in his studio in a very short time. Finally, when it was all over and I had seen it with a few audiences my fears were allayed and I realized that it did work and Corbin’s dentist character was truly memorable. The sequel was more difficult in many ways, not just because the budget was even smaller, but because I was unable to work with the script until the weekend before we began shooting. So, Corbin (and leading actress Julian McWhirter) would have dinner each evening after work to review and amend the scenes for the next day. The sequel is less successful than the original, but a lot of fun in its own way- mainly because the Dentist character is so much fun to watch. Corbin and I have discussed often our desire to continue the series. But we can’t because we don’t control the rights. Corbin is determined to revive the character. It was the character that introduced him to genre films and he now he loves the genre.

MG: When making “Return of the Living Dead III”, how much did you lean on the prior films in the series?
BY: I don’t think I “leaned” on the previous “Return” films at all. I admire the first one greatly, and was very aware that it was an unofficial sequel to “Night of the Living Dead”- so I wanted to respect both of those movies while doing something original. The straight forward horror of Romero’s film and the EC Comics style of O’Bannon’s film both influence “Return 3″”, but I think that the film that screenwriter John Penney and I fashioned goes its own way. Some fans were not happy that “Return 3” wasn’t as comedic as the first, but as a fan myself I find “Return 3” to be a very satisfying, fun horror film. I changed interpreted the underlying mythology of the living dead in a way that I felt did justice to both Romero and O’Bannon- the Trioxin gas remains as the reanimating agent, but the saliva of the living dead was able to turn victims into zombies. The studio, Trimark, insisted on only one requirement- that the movie contain “brain eating”- so I decided that the living dead ate flesh, not for the meat, but for the nerves in it, and the biggest bundle of nerves was the brain. So, you can see that I wanted to take the story a little more seriously that “Return 1”.
I didn’t draw on “Return 2” for inspiration as I thought it had been burdened by the requirement to carry on characters from the first film and to be wildly comedic. I was actually more inclined toward an ironic humor and especially the character of Julie as a living dead heroine. After making “Bride of Re-Animator” I realized that I was most interested in the character of the “Bride” and she only showed up in the third act. So with “Return 3” I was able to make that kind of character the core of the movie.

MM: Going from working in the horror genre, how did you get involved with Disney and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” as co-producer and writer?
BY: After making “Re-Animater”, Stuart Gordon (director of “Re-Animator”) and I were having a BBQ at my house and decided that we should make a movie for our young children. I recalled imagining myself to be smaller than a blade of grass as a kid, riding on an ant, and how exciting that would be. Stuart immediately saw it as a Disney movie and we quickly came up with the idea of an inventor who shrinks his kids. We were able to get a meeting with a development executive at Disney and on a plane ride back from Rome (where we were shooting “From Beyond and Dolls”) Stuart and I wrote out the whole story on a legal pad and pitched it upon arriving in LA. Surprisingly Disney loved the idea and immediately and put it into development. For the next year we worked on the project making set designs and storyboards, casting and special FX. We built all the sets in Mexico (full sized since there were no digital FX back then). Unfortunately, a few weeks before shooting Stuart had health problems and had to bow out.

MG: What was the most challenging film you have worked on?
BY: That’s almost impossible to say because there have been so many difficult ones. But, I would say that the first film I did in Spain, the one that kick off the Fantastic Factory and demonstrated whether the idea of producing genre films in Spain using Spanish crew and talent would work, is one of the candidates for most challenging. That was “Faust: Love of the Damned”. One that would top “Faust” is the one I just finished, “Amphibious 3D”. Shooting in Indonesia with Indonesian crew and some Dutch key personnel, doing it in 3D and having lots of creature FX and CGI- well that was incredibly challenging. The guys who built the 30 foot long sea scorpion lived in the middle of the island of Bali, worked on the floor and had never been on a movie set before. But the main thing that made the production difficult was the collapse of the financing in the middle of the production. This is one of the main reasons for disorganization and insanity on a movie set: the lack of a solid financing structure. Everything is in flux. It is like building a house with a faulty foundation. However, maybe by challenging you don’t mean difficult, but, well, “challenging”. In that case certainly “Re-Animator” qualifies because it was the first movie I produced, and it was immensely challenging to try to do something one has never done before. Or “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”. Designing a movie for a mass audience with the Disney tradition to live up to is pretty challenging. Or how about “Beyond Re-Animator”? Making a “Re-Animator” movie that isn’t a complete failure when the only other person on the set that has an inkling of what we are trying to achieve is Jeffrey Combs. Shooting with a completely Spanish crew with mostly Spanish actors and trying to live up to the expectations of the fans was seriously challenging. You know all the movie productions have been involved with been very challenging, and a lot of that has to do with the goals we set for ourselves. One each one I try to raise the bar as high as I possibly can – and that’s the challenge.

MG: Do you think you will ever continue the “Re-Animator” franchise?
BY: I have been doing my best to continue it. After my years doing the Fantastic Factory I came to LA with the plan to get financing for a trilogy of “Re-Animator” sequels that would continue and bring the saga to a close. It was kind of shocking to be to not find a strong desire to participate at places like Lionsgate and New Line. Well, even then the business was changing. I continued developing the stories for the three films, and at one time thought that we had the financing in place for the first of the trilogy, “House of Re-Animator”. That was to be Herbert West in the White House. Stuart Gordon was going to direct and William Macy agreed to play the re-animated president. I wanted to have Dan Cain come back so we could have a good confrontation between him and West. But, the financing fell through. Then Obama got elected and Stuart lost his enthusiasm because he enjoyed the idea of using some of the irony in the film in political satire. The political angle to me was less interesting because I am of the opinion that politics works fine in sci-fi, but horror is more the domain of psychology and religion. At present I am actively developing a script for “Re-Animator Unbound”! It is the story of what happens after Herbert West’s adventures in the White House and he has gotten black ops funding for an experimental project. For the first time he has a fully equipped laboratory. Once I get the script in order I will try to get Jeffrey Combs to agree to do it and, one way or another, get the financing for it.
By the way, Stuart Gordon is presently presenting his adaptation of “Re-Animator” into a musical comedy- entitled, believe it or not…”Re-Animator :The Musical”. It is really entertaining and should be a big hit.

MG: Tell us what other upcoming projects are you woking on?
BY: I am currently working with The Little Film Company’s Robbie Little on the financing plan for “The Men”, a sci-fi thriller by Dan O’Bannon (“Alien”, “Total Recall”) which Stuart Gordon will direct. The script is really great, about a woman who discovers that all men are aliens – so you can see that even though it is a thriller it will have a good dose of irony. It is a project that I worked with Dan on way back twenty years ago so I am really thrilled to be seeing it finally get going. Of course, I am working on “Re-Animator Unbound!” I am developing a 3D immersion film called “Necronauts” based on the short story of the same name. And I just finished co-writing with John Penney a pretty wild script called “The Pope”. Mainly I am working on arranging for a financing facility for making another label, or line, of films.