Tag Archives: sam neill

The Puppet Master: An Interview with Kevin McTurk by Kent Hill

They say in the film business, never work with children or animals. Of course you may find yourself working with dinosaurs, aliens, lions, beast-people, scrunts, kothogas, ghosts, morlocks, Batman, Spiderman, Hellboy, kaijus, wolfmen, clones, cliffhangers, vampires, giant crocodiles, homicidal maniacs, killer sheep, Predators, cowboys and mysterious brides out to Kill Bill.

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? But that’s just some of the astounding creations and magnificent beasts that Kevin McTurk has encountered in his eclectic career in the realms of special effects.

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Working under the banners of legends like Stan Winston, Jim Henson and the new titans like Weta Workshop, Kevin has had his hand in erecting and simulating everything from the real world as he has from empires extraordinary. And, while I could have spent the entirety of our chat talking about his adventures working on the countless films, which are favourites of mine, he has in his CV, his impressive effects background is only part of the story.

For Kevin McTurk is a bold and visionary filmmaker in his own right. His puppet films, The Narrative of Victor Karloch, The Mill at Calder’s End and now The (forthcoming) Haunted Swordsman are exercises in capturing a style from a bygone era with modern filmmaking techniques. The results are beautiful, not only in their aesthetic quality, but in the level of excellence from the many different disciplines on display.

There is still time for you to join Kevin in his latest cinematic offering (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/935772123/the-haunted-swordsman-a-ghost-story-puppet-film), and to listen in now to the man himself talk about his movies, influences and career.

I give you the talented Mr. McTurk.

Visit Kevin’s website for more: http://www.thespiritcabinet.com/

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Tales of Enchantment, Aliens, Arthurian Legend and the Lone Ranger: An Interview with Edward Khmara by Kent Hill

Edward Khmara grew up in California and had the desire to become an actor when he sold his first script and his career was set in motion.

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It was not the first script he’d written, but he was the one that got him noticed. It was a little film called Ladyhawke. But, as all first-time screenwriters know, once you make that sale, you have very little input into the journey your film will take from there.

Still, now a screenwriter, Edward would go on to pen one of the truly great, often forgotten gems of the eighties, Hell in the Pacific in outer space: Enemy Mine. This time he would right in the middle of it all. From being on set, to being invited to watch dailies, to having to comfort his daughter after her terrifying encounter with a completely transformed Louis Gossett Jr. in his Drac make-up.

Like most folks who have worked in show business, Edward has known the lows as well as the highs. But those negative experiences didn’t discourage him as he charged ahead, tackling to legends. One in the form of a lavish television production with an all-star cast; Merlin would be the telling of Arthurian days solely from the perspective of the mythical wizard. Then of course there would be his work on the retelling of the life of another legend, one who achieved this status during his own lifetime, Bruce Lee.

But one of the truly heart-warming moments of our conversation was chatting with Edward about him finally getting his shot at the profession he sought after before he took to the typewriter – his part in Gore Verbinski’s Lone Ranger.

A true gentleman of the old school, full of great tales and tremendous experiences – it was a real pleasure to interview him and now to present to you my conversation with the legendary screenwriter (and sometimes actor) Edward Khmara.

DO YOU SEE? Back to the Event Horizon with Philip Eisner by Kent Hill

 

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It was a good day for a movie. When is it not? I was home from university and had the agenda to go to a flick that started soon and looked good. Science fiction looked good and I had heard and read little about this new offering from the director of Mortal Kombat, the future impresario of  the Resident Evil franchise, Paul W.S. Anderson.

My buddy Paul was just coming out of the theatre, and as it happened he had just watched Event Horizon. I recall him being angry, “That’s shocking, terrible, grotesque,” he said. Well it’s been a while. But I certainly remember the look on his face and he was, for lack of a better word, mortified.

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Now when someone tells you not to look at something, what’s the first thing you do? That’s right, you go check it out. I knew I was going to. I knew my friend to be no coward, so I was automatically intrigued by the prospect of seeing this movie that had gotten to him on such a visceral level. I recall him saying, before we parted company, “Don’t waste your time with it,” or something to that effect.

I bullshitted and said sure, don’t worry, I’m seeing a different movie. After that review I was definitely going inside, and the movie I encountered therein was really cool.

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Coming out I felt satisfied. The movie worked on all levels. It was terrifying, impactful, funny at the right time, suspenseful, beautifully composed, strongly acted and above all, well written.

The world was not as socially connected at the time. Nor was it part of my complete breakfast during that period to track down and try to arrange interviews with the good people who make the movies.

Behind the scenes material was scant at best, and Event Horizon, no one at the time could have known, would go on to become a cult favorite and get a really nice re-release with a handsome collector case and lots of juicy bonus features. There is a great documentary included, commentary and the likes. But there was little about the film’s author and the script is only a brief part of the BTS discussion.

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Fortunately the world has moved on and we are all now accessible via a myriad of networking tools. Thus it was my good fortune to finally get in touch with and interview the very excellent screenwriter and all-round gentleman Philip Eisner. The man who was once locked away with nothing but The Road Warrior for a week, was an absolute pleasure to interview.

I feel, like I often do, when talking to the makers of my favorite films, like I’m getting the commentary track that should be included with the feature. After all, it is the with the screenwriter that these journey’s begin.

As I like to keep things as informal as possible, our chat was not restricted to Event Horizon. We discussed Philip’s journey to writing, the genesis of the script, how sometimes you homage and other times steal, what he thought of Rogue One (’cause us Star Wars boys can’t help ourselves), how it’s easier to say “No” in Hollywood and much more.

I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did and, in case you have wanted to know more about the true gem that is Event Horizon, or were looking for an excuse to watch it, if indeed you haven’t already…

Well now folks . .  . you’ll see.

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Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilderpeople: A Review by Nate Hill 

Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilderpeople speaks to the lost boy in all of us, tweaks our sense of humour with subtle doses in all the right places, taking what could have been a familiar feeling story and sending it miles down the road less traveled, in terms of emotion, comedy, script and pacing. This film has the largest scope of any he has made so far, but it’s purely for atmosphere; he remains steadfast in his need to explore what fascinates him the most: people. Their fears, desires, eccentricities and idiosyncrasies laid out bare and blunt, with none of the trademark gloss or cookie cutter cue card normalcy that so much writing has these days, clouding the potential for characters to feel geniune. They feel just that here though, and inhabit a world of harsh realities, unpredictable outcomes and organic, unforced interaction. Hell, even when his protagonists are vampires, they still feel far more lifelike than many a human character in film these days. The story is benign, until slowly kindled by all the elements I have just outlined. Child services, in the form of a tyrannical bitch (Rachel House), bring wayward boy Ricky (Julien Dennison, a wicked new talent) to stay with his new foster parents on a remote farm in rural New Zealand. The couple (Rima Ti Wiata and the legendary Sam Neill) couldn’t be more different than the young lad. He’s a hoodie wearing, rap rhetoric spewing, pop culture paintball gun of colloquial gibberish and big city malarkey. They are a withdrawn, earthy, isolated type of folk, content with farm life and each other’s company. Ricky is a disruption which they both need, creating a mini culture clash that provides countless moments of amusement as we wade our way into the story. The aforementioned unpredictability strikes when Neill’s wife passes away without buildup or ceremony, leaving him and a kid he barely knows, let alone likes, alone in the world. What follows is a touching, picturesque and endlessly funny glimpse at two people who are thrown into the thick of it together. These people are both lost in different ways; Ricky has never known a real family, tethered to nothing and set adrift among a sea of cyber role models and unreliable elders. Neil has just spent the majority of his life in a rock steady routine with his farmer’s wife and clockwork existence, suddenly unmoored and left with not a clue how to proceed. The two are hilarious together, providing each other with bushels of character development and scene after scene of purely inspired, bona fide human interaction that feels so utterly, blessedly unforced. They’re set among a slide show of breathtaking scenery, lively supporting work and attention to detail that adds up to quite the unforgettable package. If Waititi’s latest is any indication of what’s to come, lay down that red carpet runway post haste, because he’ll continue to take us by storm.

Daybreakers: A Review by Nate Hill

  

As each genre evolves, it has to find new and creative ways to stay alive and entertain it’s audience. The vampire genre has come a long way, from the grainy film stock showcasing a theatrical Bela Lugosi, to the slick, throat ripping Baltic nocturnal terrors of 30 Days Of Night. No other corner of horror (except perhaps the zombie arena) has worked so hard to reinvent, rework and revamp (hehe) it’s aesthetic than the bloodsuckers realm, and it’s in that area that Daybreakers is a huge success. Not necessarily the most groundbreaking or incredible outing as a film alone, it breaks impressive new ground in the vampire genre and had me wondering why no one had come up with such ideas sooner than 2009! In the year 2019, ninety five percent of the world’s population are now vampires, following an outbreak decades earlier. The remaining five percent of humans keep an understandably low profile and continue to dwindle in this harsh new world. There’s just one problem: vampires need blood to thrive, and once the last human is drained, they face a serious problem. In this lore, a vampire deprived of sustenance turns into a savage berserker that will attack anyone and everyone in pure feral mania. Vampire scientist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) searches endlessly for an artificial blood substitute, partly out of an instinct to preserve a race that was never his own, and partly out of compassion for the humans he once called kin. Corporation executive Charles Bromley (a downright creepy Sam Neill) hordes the scarce resources, and chaos threatens on the horizon if a solution is not found. A bombshell drops, however, when Dalton stumbles across a rebel band of humans who claim that they were once vamps, until some variable turned them back into fleshy human critters. Led by hotshot renegade McCormac (Willem Dafoe dialling up the grit) they see a glimmer of hope in Dalton, not to mention his scientific prowess. Bromley sees the end of days and gets dangerous with his power, Dalton and newfound friends work to overturn the Vampire order, and gore splatters all over the screen in a sleek, entertaining and supremely gory film that should have a little more infamy. The R rating is gloriously wrung out as gallons of blood are thrown, flung and dripped all about the place and a real sense of supernatural, apocalyptic danger is attained with the story. Neill is an inspired choice to play a vamp too; Even when he’s playing a gold hearted protagonist (remember how ominous he got with the raptor claw in Jurassic Park?), there’s a semi dormant aura of menace that always dances in those Aussie eyes. Dafoe is at his best when his playing around in the genre theme park, and he’s having a barroom blast here, getting to play the ultimate badass. There’s a reverence for humanity here too, attention paid to a last ditch effort to save our race from a predatory one that is just trying to survive as well. Terrific stuff.