Tom Hiddleston talks about playing Loki in “Marvel’s The Avengers”

Tom Hiddleston is known best for his role of Loki in “Thor” and the upcoming “The Avengers”. Media Mikes was able to attend a recent press conference and got a chance to ask Tom a few questions about the role and also what we can expect from “The Avengers”.

Mike Gencarelli: Loki traditionally doesn’t have as cool of a signature weapon as most of the super-heroes out there. What prop or weapon from the “Avengers” were you jealous of?
Tom Hiddleston: Well, if you’ve seen the new trailer, I do get to play with a rather wonderful toy in the film. But there was one day on the set when I managed to get a hold of Captain America’s shield and I went parading around with it. One of the producers stopped me and asked, “What are you doing with that?” (laughs)

Q: If you could put together your own team of super-heroes – let’s say – super-villains, who would be your evil super friends if you could choose from any characters in literature, comics, movies, etc
TH: Hmmmmmm (thinking) A little bit of help from Darth Vader, if I might. Hans Gruber from “Die Hard.” Scar from “The Lion King.” Robert Patrick from “Terminator 2” – the T-1000. Probably Schwarzenegger from “Terminator.” Iago, absolutely. That’s a pretty awesome group of people

Q: Since you brought it up, what was the “rather wonderful toy” you eluded to that you get to play with?
TH: It’s a kind of evolution of the staff that he played with at the end of “Thor.” But that’s Odin’s spear. So at the end of “Thor,” it’s Odin’s spear – this is his own makeshift staff of destruction.

Q: Will Odin be in “The Avengers?
TH: Odin won’t be in “The Avengers.”

Q: In the trailer it looks like all of the action takes place in New York. Is Loki coming to destroy New York or is he here to do damage on a global scale?
TH: Well, no…it’s not just one city. But inevitably Manhattan becomes the focus point, partly because that’s where Tony Stark lives. There’s one shot in the trailer where you can see, I think, the Quinjet flying towards Manhattan and in the middle of it is Stark Tower, which is in the fictitious world of the comics. Tony Stark has a huge interestingly-shaped tower opposite the Chrysler building, which is his base of operations. That’s where Stark Industries works out of. And so Stark Tower becomes a focus point for lots of reasons.

Q: What is Loki’s relationship with Stellan Skarsgård’s character in this movie?
TH: (laughing) This is where I can sense the red dot forming on my forehead. (laughs again) And the Marvel sniper in the corner on the roof over there — he’s got his eye on me. Working with Stellan…he’s amazing. He’s someone I’ve long admired as an actor. I really do think he’s an exceptional, exceptional actor and is really capable of bringing a level of complexity and truth to roles and performances which in another actor’s hands could seem dry or slightly invisible. So I loved working with him — he’s a real actor’s actor. He’s been doing it for so long. He plays the same character in “Avengers” that he played in “Thor”… Erik Selvig, who is a scientist. He’s employed by S.H.I.E.L.D. after his encounters with S.H.I.E.L.D. in “Thor,” to do some work for them. That’s all I can say.

Media Mikes rave about “The Avengers”

Get ready for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to assemble on the big screen for the very first time in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” only in theaters May 4th!

“The Avengers” will bring together the super hero team of Marvel Comics characters for the first time ever, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk and more, as they are forced to band together to battle the biggest foe they’ve ever faced.

When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.

Click here for Mike Gencarelli’s review

Click here for Mike Smith’s review

Film Review #2 “The Avengers”

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Joss Whedon
PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 22 mins

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Phew! That is the sound I made at the end of “The Avengers.” After two plus hours of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and their pals, I was able to take a breath and say to myself, “he did it…he pulled it off.” Of course, in the capable hands of Joss Whedon did I really need to worry?

The story concerns an evil plot to take over the Earth hatched by the very jealous Loki (Tom Hiddleston), brother (kind of) of Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Loki seeks an object called the Tesseract, an almost endless source of energy currently in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D. and under the watchful eye of Nick Fury (Jackson). After infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters Loki steals the Tesseract, intending to turn it over to a race of beings that want to destroy earth and, seemingly, put Loki in charge. After learning that one of his best men has turned on him, Fury summons a little help. Avengers assemble!

A roller coaster ride of non-stop action, “The Avengers” manages to take the different tones set by the previous films and fashion them into one strong voice. Each character remains true to him/her self, clashing with the others at first but eventually finding a common goal to unite.

My biggest fear for the film was that some of the actors would just walk through their roles, hoping to get lost in the crowd. But instead they deliver strong performances across the board as if they were worried they WOULD get lost in the crowd. Downey sets the tone perfectly as Tony Stark/Iron Man. His sarcastic style is still around (he refers to Thor as “Point Break”), but behind that self assuredness lies a man who longs for more than a flashy suit. The other characters are involved in their own things. Besides Iron Man and Thor, we meet Captain America (Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Dr. David Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who has a habit of getting angry and becoming the Hulk. Each maintains the characters they brought to life in previous films, with the exception of Ruffalo. Taking over from Eric Bana and Edward Norton, Ruffalo gives Banner just the right amount of humanity needed to make us care about him. Sure, we want to see him get big and green, but we also know the toll it’s going to take.

The on screen battles are well choreographed and, though they sometimes seem to go on forever, manage to build in excitement. The script, by Whedon and Zak Penn, is clever and full of comments that seem to have been lifted directly from the comic pages. The 3D effects were well rendered and, more importantly, well utilized. And, like in other films, there are a few surprises left over for after the credits.


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Film Review “The Avengers”

Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Running time: 143 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“The Avengers” was a project that was simply destined to be something amazing. With the brilliant mind of Joss Whedon, writing and directing, it was a sure bet. Of course there was still concerns. “Iron Man 2” was not up to par with the first film and of course everyone has seen the films focusing on The Hulk. “The Avengers” is the best superhero film, might I say ever?! I have never been to a screening where the audience is as engaged in the film. Five times, at least, there was rampant cheering,  clapping and even standing ovations…and that was only during the film let alone when it ended.

Now let’s get to our superheros in “The Avengers”. I was wondering how they were going to split this film over all the superheros that it complied. Well let me tell you they did it perfectly. I would say that Captain America (Evans) was the lead focus in the film, which is ok with me, with Iron Man (Downey Jr.) following in close second.  Both were perfectly in their roles and delivered the best performance yet for their respective characters. I gotta give it to the Hulk (Ruffalo) though for completely stealing the entire movie. I wouldn’t imagine after two disappointing films, but damn was I pleasantly impressed. Chris Hemsworth is just bad-ass as Thor and holds his own. Smaller less-known characters like Scarlett Johansson, playing Agent Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner, playing Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, definitely play well with the others and kick some ass. Lastly major props need to go to Tom Hiddleston, playing Loki, for sealing the deal as the film’s major villain.  He is one bad son-bitch. Overall though, this cast just shined and really worked as a team.

Joss Whedon is known for his amazing TV work like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel” and “Firefly” but he has never had major success theatrically. This film will change all that, he is now a superstar. I really hope that Marvel/Disney allow Joss to follow-up with “The Avengers 2”. He has such a fantastic handle on the series and know exactly what the fans wants to see and delivers it…and more.  The film also run impressively long at almost 2.5 hours, which I wouldn’t have wanted it a minute shorter.  “The Avengers” also not only sums up some of the best visual effects, I have seen in the last few years, it is also FUNNY AS HELL!  That’s right, I mean belly laughs. If the audience wasn’t cheering or sitting on the edge of the chair, they were laughing out loud.  Great job again of perfectly blending the action and comedy of the series.

Let me tell you one thing, whether you like this film or not, if you are a fan of the Marvel Universe you better stay through the credits!!! Holy crap what a great lead-in the the next project in the ever-expanding world that Marvel is creating. Get ready for next year with sequels to both “Iron Man” and “Thor”. This Marvel superhero franchise shows no signs of slowing down and as long as they follow from the lead of “The Avengers”, they will not be able to fail. Thanks again Joss Whedon, you are a God!

DVD Review “Ultimate Avengers Movie Collection”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 / PG
Distributed by: Lions Gate
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Running Time: 217 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

With “Marvel’s The Avengers” on the way this May, this is very hot content. The “Ultimate Avengers” series was made back in 2005 and “New Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow” was made in 2008. If you already own the “Ultimate Avengers” films, you don’t need to re-purchase this for the bonus film “Next Avengers”. If you don’t own any of these I would run out to the store and grab these, especially since they are being sold at a very reasonable price. If you have a Blu-ray player, I would recommend you grab this set

“Ultimate Avengers” is inspired by Marvel’s best-selling books, The Ultimates. It focuses on six heroes, lead by Captain America, who must fight as one to save the world. “Ultimate Avengers 2” forces our heroes to reunite in order to fight a rematch of heroic proportions in order to assist The Black Panther. “New Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow” focuses on the spawn of The Avengers taking the lead after their parents demise was met by Ultron.

To top off this impressive collection of movies, there is also a ton of bonus features included on this release. There are a few making-of featurettes, interactive games, concepts art gallery and more. The animation on this film are very colorful and sharp. The movies are just plain fun and if you are fan of Marvel’s work it is a no brainer. If you are looking to get more excited for “Marvel’s The Avengers” to hit theaters then this collection is a good way to brush up on your favorite superheros and get ready for May 4th.


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Marvel Studios to Present Exclusive Look at Marvel’s “The Avengers” at New York Comic Con


Producer Kevin Feige and Select Cast Members to Appear Saturday, October 15th in the IGN Theater – Presented by Sprint!

Norwalk, CT, October 4, 2011: New York Comic Con (NYCC) is proud to announce Marvel Studios, for the first time ever, will participate in this October’s NYCC. Marvel Studios will present a special event in NYCC’s IGN Theater – Presented by Sprint on Saturday, October 15th from 6:30-7:30 PM, a high-profile panel focused on the upcoming feature film Marvel’s The Avengers. Marvel Studios will debut never-before-seen footage from The Avengers, and panelists will include Kevin Feige (Producer), Chris Evans (Captain America), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), and Cobie Smulders (Agent Hill). The Avengers is scheduled for release on May 4th, 2012.

The sixth annual New York Comic Con will take place October 13-16, 2011 at the Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan. NYCC, which attracted 96,000 attendees in 2010, celebrates comics, movies, television, toys, games, and the popular arts from around the planet. Tickets are now on sale via the website, with limited 4-Day tickets remaining.

“I am incredibly honored Marvel Studios has decided to participate in New York Comic Con in such a significant way,” notes Lance Fensterman, Group Vice President for ReedPOP and Show Manager for NYCC. “The center of our show is creating exclusive opportunities for fans to meet their favorite stars and creators. The Avengers presentation is exactly this kind of once-in-a-lifetime event. We’re very excited to be able to host cast and crew from The Avengers and know our fans will be on the edges of their seats. As always, we want to present the very best that the pop culture world has to offer in art and entertainment, and The Avengers panel is at the head of that list!”

As previously announced, Marvel will also be bringing high profile comics guests to New York Comic Con including Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, Axel Alonso, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, and notable Marvel creators Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, and Stuart Immonen.

“Marvel’s The Avengers” is the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.


Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Joss Whedon “Marvel’s The Avengers” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since. Prepare yourself for an exciting event movie, packed with action and spectacular special effectswhen “Marvel’s The Avengers” assemble in summer 2012.

“Marvel’s The Avengers,” is presented by Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures.  The film is being produced by Marvel Studios’ President, Kevin Feige, and executive produced by Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Jon Favreau, Patricia Whitcher and Louis D’Esposito. Marvel Studios’ Jeremy Latcham and Victoria Alonso will co-produce. The film will be released May 4, 2012.

For further information about all ReedPOP shows and activity, please visit Lance Fensterman’s blog, Convention organizers note that many more guests will be announced over the next few weeks leading into the show and fans should keep their eyes on NYCC’s website and blog for additional comics, entertainment and anime announcements.

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 over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years.  Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing.  For more information visit  Super Hero(es) is a co-owned registered trademark.

ABOUT REEDPOP: ReedPOP is a boutique group within Reed Exhibitions which is exclusively devoted to organizing events, launching and acquiring new shows, and partnering with premium brands in the pop culture arena. ReedPOP is dedicated to producing celebrations of popular culture throughout the world that transcend ordinary events by providing unique access and dynamic personal experiences for consumers and fans. The ReedPOP portfolio includes: New York Comic Con (NYCC), Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East & West, Star Wars Celebration V, New York Anime Festival (NYAF), and UFC Fan Expo. The staff at ReedPOP is a fan based group of professionals producing shows for other fans, thus making them uniquely qualified to service those with whom they share a common passion. ReedPOP is focused on bringing its expertise and knowledge to world communities in North America, South America, Asia and Europe.

A MEDIAMIKES EXCLUSIVE – On the set of “The Avengers”

If you travel to the city of my birth, Cleveland, Ohio, you will find many great things to see downtown. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Progressive Field. Cleveland Browns Stadium. New York City.

You read that right. Smack dab in the middle of downtown Cleveland the new Disney/Marvel Films production of “The Avengers” is going full force, with Hollywood doing it’s best to turn “C-Town” into the Big Apple.

From what I can tell, parts of New York City have been badly damaged. Piles of rubble and vehicles, including a city bus, are strewn across East 41st Street (one quibble with the production if I may – the “East 41st Street” sign was large and purplish – not what you’d normally see if you visited Times Square. If these scenes are, in fact, set in New York City – the bus and taxi cabs bear New York state license plate – let’s be accurate).

“The Avengers,” starring, among others, Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Renner, is scheduled to open on May 4, 2012.

A vacant city bus rests against a pile of rubble.

Note the New York State license plate.

 Taxis stacked liked pancakes.

More destruction.  Note the sign on the Parking Garage reads “Premium
      Parking for Grand Central.”

On Set.

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.