The Vicious Brothers and Brittany Allen discuss their new film “Extraterrestrial”

Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz make up the duo known as the The Vicious Brothers. They are the dudes behind the found footage cult film “Grave Encounters” and its sequel “Grave Encounters 2”. In there latest film, “Extraterrestrial”, they are taking on aliens this time instead of ghosts. The film stars Daytime Emmy winning actress, Brittany Allen as well as Michael Ironside (“Scanners”, “Starship Troopers”). Media Mikes had a chance to chat again with The Vicious Brothers and the film’s star Brittany Allen to discuss the film and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: You guys tackled ghosts with the “Grave Encounters” films, why aliens next?
Colin Minihan: “Extraterrestrial” was actually the first thing that we have ever written even before “Grave Encounters”. We have always loved anything to do with UFO, aliens and abductions We have thought that no film recently has done justice to the sort of alien abduction concept, so we wanted to take it on.
Stuart Ortiz: I think there has been a lot of B-movies in the last early 2000’s with alien scenarios and they are always really low production value. Why hasn’t anyone ever tried to make a “Cabin in the Woods” movie with younger 20’s and instead of it being a slasher make the slasher an alien. When Stu and I write, we usually lock ourselves up on the remote northern tip of Vancouver Island, which is surrounded by woods. You kind of always wonder when you are in the place like that what else is there. You can feel the fear of what is out there in the sky when you are looking up at the stars. I can’t imagine that aliens don’t exist, so I think since we think it could be real it makes it as scary as ghosts, which I also think exist.

MG: Brittany, how did you come on board this project?
Brittany Allen: I got the script through my agent. As soon as I finished the script, I contacted my reps and said that “This is something different and special”. I felt that they took the genre and did something new with it. It was very refreshing to read a strong female character that had very human emotions that she was working through in the contexts of a horror/sci-fi film. I related instantly to everything about her from her pessimism on love and the journey that she takes throughout the film. I had a really strong feeling about it, so I pushed for it and ended up meeting with the guys over Skype and then I got the part.

MG: You guys have much more visual effects here than your previous films; tell us about how you accomplished such amazing effects in the film?
CM: The visual effects undertaking on the film was massive for the budget we had. Stu and I wanted to make a blockbuster and we only had a million dollars to do it with. So we pushed our visual effects company to the point that every artists probably lost some hair to make the film look as good as it does. It is one of those things that when you work on a low-budget film that doesn’t have a major studio behind it, I think people feel more involved with it since there isn’t a thousand person team working on it. It is more responsibility for less people and having them step up into those roles. There is a ton of CGI in the film. The UFO is completely computer generated. The alien in the film is also completely computer generated. I feel like the level of detail in the alien is really quite something because people are thinking that it is a model or even a practical effect. When Stu and I were making the film, we were torn in wanted to do it practical or not. We are fans of the genre dating back to “John Carpenter’s The Thing” where practical effects were at their height. To do that now, it just wasn’t realistic within our shooting schedule. But I believe it was a great choice and I am very happy with it.

MG: Brittany, you’ve done some sci-fi including “Defiance”; what do you enjoy most about this genre?
BA: I like putting myself in another world. I have a pretty wild imagination and being able to use that to get into these characters. There is a freedom that comes with this and it is a real playfulness in it. It was just a rush too. I remember one night we had like an hour left to shoot and it was like 3am in the morning and we would do this crazy scene running in the woods. We would finish and would be screaming with our adrenaline pumping. So it was a lot of fun.
SO: I want to be in the front of the camera, that sounds like fun [laughs]

MG: Your role was quite demanding, especially in the third act; was it a big challenge for you?
BA: I would say the biggest challenge in those scenes was using this stuff called Ultra Slime. It was lathered all over my body. That was probably the biggest challenge. It is exactly like you would imagine it to be, it was the slimiest, grossest feeling ever. It was a challenge that I really embraced though.
SO: You were covering in that slime for like a whole day
BA: Yeah, there was one day that I was covered in the slime all day and I started to feel cold and uncomfortable.
CM: I remember I got a piece of it on my finger and I was like “Eww, get this off me [laughs].
BA: Afterwards, it felt like it was all over me when it wasn’t anymore. Overall, emotionally those scenes were some of the most fun to shoot.

MG: How was it working with Michael Ironside? And I love the aspect of the aliens being able to controls your minds… Were you tempted to blow up his head like in “Scanners” [laughs]?
SO: Yeah, I think we had that discussion every single day.
CM: Or we could have torn his arms off (ala “Total Recall”) or his legs bitten off (ala “Starship Troopers”). Is there a scene montage of Ironside getting limbs ripped off in his film? I just want to shoot a movie so that we can add just one part to that if so [laughs].
SO: Working with Michael was just great. He is super intense and even though he has been making films for 30 years and been in a ton of movies, he is still super passionate and excited about the work. You never know what to expect when you bring an actor in for a few days of work. We are huge fan boys of Ironside and it was great getting to work with him.
CM: He also had a lot of great ideas for his character that he brought to the table right away. In the film, he is wearing these ridiculous shirts and that was all his idea. So he was just so cool.

MG: This is your third film together; how do you feel that you have matured as directors?
SO: It is funny because “Grave Encounters” is such a completely different film from “Extraterrestrial” in every way. “Grave Encounters” is obviously a found footage movie and meant to focus around amateur footage versus “Extraterrestrial” in which we are trying to achieve a huge epic sci-fi extravaganza influenced by Steven Spielberg. I don’t know if we could have made this film first…maybe. I think that we learned a lot on “Grave Encounters”.
CM: We are both self taught filmmakers. Stu and I have been shooting films since he was was 5 and I was 8, so we have grown up with it. So with “Grave Encounters”, it is a found footage movie, you have to abandon the language of cinema that we potentially thought ourselves and throw the concept of elaborately staging a scene out the window because it would feel fake within the context of a found footage film. So I think with “Extraterrestrial”, it shows more of that classic influence like Stu said Spielberg…Zemeckis, these guys that put the focus on the staging of talent and telling the story with a camera. I am grateful that we got the opportunity to showcase our ability to direct outside of the found footage world. I prefer this type of filmmaking much more.

Blu-ray Review “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – Anniversary Edition”

Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, K.C. Martel
Directors: Steven Spielberg
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Run Time: 115 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year and this film time being released on Blu-ray.  It has been digitally remastered from the high resolution 35MM original film elements,  supervised and approved by Spielberg himself. This release also only the original theatrical version of the film.  The 20th Anniversary edition version with the alternate cut is not present here.  Not sure the reasoning for that but the original is always the best especially for this classic.  I wish they would release the original cuts of the “Star Wars” trilogy.  E.T. reminds me of a time when Spielberg was at his best. Let’s just say this film’s today don’t have the charm that they once did.  Fans of this film should be thrilled with this high-def upgrade.

The Blu-ray presentation is honestly one of the best of the year.  The combo pack includes Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet.  I am very excited about the digital streaming copy since this is one of those films that I would want to watch whenever/wherever. The did a wonderful job on restoring this film in its 1080p transfer.  The real stare of this release has to be its DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track.  It sounds like it’s from another planet…and works perfectly with John Williams’ timeless score.  Overall, this film has honestly never looked or sounded better.

The special features are just as amazing as the film.  There is a new retrospective called “Steven Spielberg & E.T.”, which the director reflects on the film and its response through the years.  Another Blu-ray exclusive is “The E.T. Journals”, which runs about an hour consisting of original behind-the-scenes footage shot during the production.  To sup up the HD extras, there are two short deleted scenes, which are well cut.

The rest of the extras are presented in standard definition and ports from the 20th Anniversary Edition DVD. “A Look Back”  is a documentary on the production, which runs about 40 minutes. “The Evolution and Creation of E.T.”  includes some good interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. “The E.T. Reunion” is a reflections with Spielberg, Thomas, MacNaughton, Barrymore, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote and producer Kathleen Kennedy on the film. “The 20th Anniversary Premiere” is featurettes with composer John Williams and a full symphony orchestra. “The Music of E.T.” is an interview with the master composer John Williams. There are six images galleries including designs, photographs and marketing.  Lastly, there is Special Olympics TV Spot and Theatrical Trailer included.

Book Review “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial from Concept to Classic: 30th Anniversary Edition”

Author(s): Steven Spielberg, Melissa Mathison
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Newmarket Press
30th Anniversary Edition
Release Date: October 9, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

This 30th Anniversary Edition included the illustrated story of the film and the filmmakers. As I turn 30 myself this year, it is crazy to believe that this film that I grew up on is doing the same.  “E.T.” is one of Steven Spielberg’s most personal stories to date. This film was also the reason why John Carpenter’s “The Thing” flopped the same year since everyone wants to see aliens in a good light not evil.  This new addition is the only official book on the making of the film and includes an all new introduction from Steven Speilberg.

This book is also illustrated with more than 200 photos and drawings, which look amazing. I really would have loved this book to have been hardcover. It the illustrations aren’t eough this book includes the complete annotated screenplay by Melissa Mathison.  But that is not all either, there are reflections from many of the cast and crew, including designer Carlo Rambaldi and producer Kathleen Kennedy. Kennedy chats about the impact of the movie on today’s audience.  There is also a bunch of amazing little known facts and trivia revealed in this book about the film’s production.

I never knew that “E.T.” was a plant…that’s right kiddies, not male or female…a plant.  It is also told that “E.T.” had only 49 lines of speaking. This film is 30 years old and still very relevant today and still holds up. Since this book is timed to match with the Blu-ray release, the October is going to be the month of “E.T.” and having everyone “phone home” and revisit this classic film.  And what better want to accompany the amazing movie, than with this amazing book.  This is a no-brainer for Spielberg fans…unless you have the 20th Anniversary release,  since there is not much new in this edition.


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