Thursday, December 22, 2011

Don Sullivan and the Gila Monster: An Exclusive Update

Further to the Backbrain's previous articles on Gila, the remake of The Giant Gila Monster (US-1959; dir. Ray Kellogg), the Backbrain has learnt that original star Don Sullivan, who is coming back for the remake, will have a major role in it, playing a character named Dawes. Dawes is the iconic Knowledgeable Old Scientist, who relays the crucial information that they are dealing with a giant gila monster. Previous experience, perhaps!

Here are a couple of pictures of Sullivan on set, in his role as Dawes:

The Backbrain has also learnt that Dawes has provided the producers with songs originally written for the Everly Brothers -- with new lead actor, Brian Gross, who will be reprising Sullivan's original Chase Winstead character, singing a new recording of the "Mushroom Song".

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A New Vampire in Town: Exclusive

Sick of the same old bloodsuckers? The sophisticated Draculas, the glittery and romantic Twilights, the schizophrenic Angels, the leather-clad denizons of the Underworld? Well, director Jordan Harland is preparing something new, in a feature based not on the usual European and post-European vampire lore, but on a lesser-known tradition that has haunted Africa for generations: the Tokoloshe (or Tikoloshe).

According to, the Tokoloshe, which haunts the Xhosa people of Lisotho and the southernmost African plains, is more of a psychic than blood-based vampire, feeding off the life-force of its victims -- though the whole hematic/sanguinary tradition is itself an analog for the spiritual draining of the life-energies of a person, blood being traditionally seen as the carrier of life (hence the use of such designations for blood as "life-blood" and "vital fluid" -- and of course the centrality of blood in the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist.)

Like the vampires of Joss Whedon's Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, the Tokoloshe is part demon, harking back to the origins of the vampire, when it was less the victim of a sort of semi-romantic, immortalising genetic infection and more a possessed corpse.

In fact, the Tokoloshe has little of post-Stoker romance to it. describes it as looking like a baboon:
It’s described as short, bulky, and has a high forehead and balding head. It walks around during night or day swinging its long arms like a monkey. But it has many powers and can shapeshift if it chooses to. It can take human form, which will make it look almost normal [though] some of its monkey-like traits will still show. It may also take the form of a big black bird-like creature with a skull head so that it can fly over villages in search of victims.
They also tend to be controlled by a sorcerer.

Meanwhile, like the European vampire (especially as recreated by Hollywood and popular fiction), the Tokoloshe has a voracious sexual appetite... though as depicted in the form of the traditional puppet pictured below, I don't like their chances of actually attracting even the most desperate member of the opposite sex, Bella included:

How much of this will enter into Harland's film, I don't know, as the traditions vary and cinema is notorious in freely adapting legendary tales according to the creators' own agendas. But from the trailers, Blood Tokoloshe: Dawn of the Beast (South Africa-2012; dir. Jordan Harland) certainly isn't sticking to the currently popular vision of vampires as perpetrated by the Paranormal Romance literary subgenre and such cinematic blockbusters as the Twilight franchise -- except, perhaps, in terms of the titular creature's sexual proclivities.

Tag-line: Under Your Bed, Waiting to be fed.

Strange attacks plague the township’s women, leaving the town leaders at a loss to defend them. At the same time Mthnuzi, a shrewd businessman,is becoming wealthier and more popular with the ladies – something is amiss. The local reverend, Simon Nkosi, learns that Mthunzi is controlling a Tokoloshe to fulfil his greedy desires. In his greed he breaks a golden rule of maintaining control over the beast and it goes on a rampage. Now its thirst for blood is strong and comes after Mthunzi’s women, saving the one he loves for last. Together with Reverend Simon they must take on a mythical beast that has never been defeated, to try and save.

I particularly liked this visual allusion to  the "original" vampire movie, F.W. Murnau's silent classic, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), based on Bram Stoker's Dracula.

compared to this iconic moment from Nosferatu:

Blood Tokoloshe: Dawn of the Beast is currently in development, with the above trailer filmed as a showcase. The full script is now complete and plans are that shooting will begin in early January. Below is a clay mock-up of the monster itself. From this basis, a latex mask will be made.

Check out this mini-doco Harland made from his script development research into Tokoloshe lore, which took place in Orange Farm, a small village 50 kms south of Johannesburg.

When completed, this film could provide a very welcome re-vitalisation of the vampire in cinema. I look forward to seeing the result.

Gallery of Stills:

Sources: Jordan Harland via Avery Guerra; Facebook page;

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Update: Images from The Night of the Chupacabras

An initial Brainspasm back in January revealed the existence of a new cryptozoological horror film hailing from Brazil: A Noite do Chupacabras [trans. Night of the Chupacabras] (Brazil-2011; dir. Rodrigo Aragão) -- with a subsequent update in March that revealed the true extent of the film's gorily outrageous nature. Since then our readers have obviously been keen to see more, as these pages have been getting decent visitor numbers.

Well, Backbrain cryptid hunter Avery Guerra has tracked down the official DVD cover, lots of pictures from the film and its production, as well as a Making-Of video, the latter of which isn't in English unfortunately, but is nevertheless worth a look:

The Official DVD cover:

Normally in the world of cryptozoological study we rarely get an effective in-your-face view of the titular monster, as cryptids have a tendency to be elusive -- blurring camera shots, mimicking elements of the natural landscape, evading capture and generally causing great frustration in the ranks of monster hunters. But in this case you get to look the Chupacabras right in the eye -- or at least the teeth!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Update: New Trailers for Astro Zombies: M4

A second teaser and the official extended trailer for the latest incarnation of Ted V. Mikels' ultra-low-budget exploitation franchise, Astro-Zombies, Astro-Zombies M4: Invaders from Cyberspace, have emerged from cyberspace to haunt our nightmares. Check 'em out! For something that began its cultish career rather inauspiciously in 1968, the series is showing remarkable resilience and getting increasingly apocalyptic -- in a low-budget sort of way.

Second Teaser:

Full Extended Trailer:

Earlier article on Undead Brainspasm here.

Production images can be viewed on the website.

Source: via Avery.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

World Premiere of Giant Monsters Attack Hawaii!

Take a look at this trailer for Giant Monsters Attack Hawaii! (US-2011; short [10 min.] dir. Dane Neves) -- and at the end you'll find out about the world premiere and how you can attend.

For more on the film, see these Undead Backbrain articles: Inspiring Giant Monsters To Attack Hawaii!, Update On The Giant Monsters Attacking Hawaii and this Brainspasm update: More on the Giant Monster Trip to Hawaii.

The Backbrain received a nice, shiny new DVD of the film recently and will be reviewing it soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Update: Jurassic Shark Trailer Debuts

The trailer for Jurassic Shark, Brett Kelly's contribution to the killer shark sub-genre of creature features -- currently undergoing some sort of upsurge -- has been released, filming having wrapped just a while back.

Looks like classic Kelly.

Check out more details on Kelly's website and the film's Facebook page.

Meanwhile, here are some pics from the film and the production. Click on them to enlarge.

The Chum (s)

Ian Quick, with friend, on the last day of the shoot

Angelstar L. Parent and Phil Dukarsky: "Why's it called a shoot?"

Emanuelle Carriere in classic shark movie mode

Brett Kelly and Kala Erin Gray consider the options: "Maybe I'll let the shark win this one?" 

Christine Emes: "I'm not afraid to throw this!"

Sources: Brett Kelly via Avery Guerra.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

News Update: Underground Lizard People at AFM and Cannes

Back in January, the Backbrain featured a new film chronicling the discovery of a race of lizard folk living under downtown LA, "based on actual eye-witness accounts". It's called Underground Lizard People and was directed by Jared Cohn.

The Backbrain has been sent an update on the film's current status, so listen up!

"Underground Lizard People now has distribution with [independent distribution company] R Squared Films," said director Jared Cohn, "and is coming to the American Film Market in November. Buyers should go to Suite 212 to check it out and chat to us about it!"

Buzz Remde of R Squared added: "We're very excited to feature Underground Lizard People this year at both AFM and Cannes in May 2012. We feel that Jared has done a great job on this and we are looking forward to presenting the film to buyers at both events."

Source: via Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Exclusive Update: The Killer Shrews are Back with a Vengeance

Word is that principal photography has wrapped on Steve Latshaw's long-awaited sequel/re-boot to the 1959 cult classic B-flick, The Killer Shrews -- the appropriately named Return of the Killer Shrews, which returns to the screen the character of Captain Thorne Sherman as played by original star James Best. The film is now in the important post-production stage, with the FX currently the main focus. Here Best visits SILO, the folk in charge of creating the titular beasties:

As you can see from the poster above, the film stars, apart from Best, such notables as John Schneider (best known for his role in Dukes of Hazzard and for his defining performance as Jonathan Kent in Smallville), seen here on set with Best:

Here Schneider talks about the experience: John Schneider on the set of Killer Shrews.

Also on board is Bruce Davison (Willard, X-Men, Kingdom Hospital and much else besides):

Here Davison has his say: Bruce Davison speaks about the Killer Shrews.

It was recently announced that Dean Torrance (of Jan and Dean fame) and Bruce Davison have recorded the song “Shrewd Awakening” together (written by composer for the film, Gary Griffin, and David Beard), a song that is to be featured on the soundtrack Return Of The Killer Shrews. (Source: Examiner)

Behind The Scenes:

Producer Dorothy Best here discusses the genesis of the Shrew sequel:

Check out these similar behind-the-scenes videos from the other members of the cast: 

Patrick Moran (writer, producer and actor)

James Best told Undead Backbrain that they should have a trailer available very soon and will send it to us as soon as it's finished. As for the film's release, they have a broker going to AFM, the film market, on November 1-6.  "Hopefully we'll get some good reactions,"he added.

More pictures from the production can be seen on the film's Facebook page.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Shark Strangeness: Exclusive Update

We seem to have been fielding a lot of weird, eccentric shark movies lately, what with the appearance of Mega Shark, Sharktopus, Ghost Shark, Jurassic Shark, Psycho Shark, the bionic, super-enhanced sharks of Dark Waters and Deep Blue Sea, and a plethora of just plain old killer sharks, alone or in packs (Shark Swarm). Now filmmaker Donald Farmer -- who has previously given us Chainsaw Cheerleaders (2008), the zombies of Dorm of the Dead (2006), An Erotic Vampire in Paris (2002), Vampire Cop (1990) and the just-released-to-DVD Demon Queen (1986), to name but a few -- is about to offer up Shark Exorcist.

This Jaws meets The Exorcist hybrid begs a lot of questions, of course, and so far Farmer is keeping the details to himself -- questions such as: is it about a priest who exorcises the demons from possessed sharks, or a shark who exorcises the demons from possessed swimmers? I guess we'll have to wait for 2012 to find out.

Farmer told Undead Backbrain that "Part of it is shot and edited. . . all the scenes we did in New Orleans. Scenes are being shot in other places now." Several of those New Orleans scenes you can see below:

The film is written and directed by Donald Farmer, and produced by Jamie Nichols, for Suicidal Productions with Stratosphere Entertainment.

Farmer added: "Also I'm starting an online comicbook called CLOWNS VS. ZOMBIES, the first installment of which will be online within a month or so. And my documentary about obsessive TWILIGHT fans called "TWI-HARDS" is finished..."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Exclusive: Sequel to a Classic Creature Feature Announced

Ever heard of Zaat (aka The Blood Waters of Dr Z, Attack of the Swamp Creatures and Hydra)? Well, it's a creature feature from 1971, directed by Don Barton (with uncredited assistance from Arnold Stevens, according to IMDb)* that is a delicious mix of classic mad scientist and mutant catfish hybrid imbued with a passion to pollute the entire "universe" (Don't blame me, that's what it says!).

The Backbrain has just received news that not only will you be able to buy a 40th Anniversary special edition of the film in mid-December, just in time for Christmas, but also director/producer Barton now feels ready to make the sequel that fans have, he says, been asking him about for years. Barton will make the formal announcement and unveil preliminary plans at the ZAAT 40th Anniversary celebration at the Five Points Theatre in Florida this Sunday, October 23, at 7:30pm. It will follow the showing of the original Zaat movie which was filmed entirely in and around Jacksonville, Florida. Barton is not divulging any details except for the title, Darn Monster. According to Barton, a "short video will show where we're headed with the fun story".

Based in Jacksonville, Barton was recently recognised by the Jacksonville Film Commission for his lifetime contributions to the industry. 

Tickets are available on-line all this week on the Five Points Theater website. Seating is limited and will be on a first come, first served basis.

As for the 40th Anniversary DVD of Zaat, it is being released by Synergy under their Cultra label.  It will be a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack and among other things will contain a feature-length commentary with several of the cast and crew.

Zaat Theatrical Trailer:

Behind the Scenes:

You can also catch three TV Spots on the film's YouTube Channel.

Source: Don Barton via Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood.

Addendum: we have received the following information straight from Don Barton, commenting on the supposed role of "Arnold Stevens" in the making of the original Zaat as well as the alternate titles associated with the film:
Here is some somewhat exclusive information for you since I see that this article perpetuates some misinformation that has surrounded ZAAT for years.  First of all, Arnold Stevens does not now and to the best of my knowledge has never existed -- at least not in connection with this film which was directed entirely be Don Barton. In the 1980s, Barton approached Vestron Video about releasing the film on home video and gave them a screener tape made from a worn print of Blood Waters which had seen better days.  He was turned down but a short time later the film appeared on one of Vestron's subsidiary labels, Lightening Video, in the Elvira movie series with falsified credits and the new title of Attack of the Swamp Creature.  All original cast and crew information had been replaced.  Hydra is another bootleg home video title that replaced the opening title card on a print of Blood Waters but kept the rest of the credits.  By the time these two misappropriations had been discovered, both video companies were long out of business and there was no one left to sue but these unauthorized products are still used to this day to unfairly represent the film ZAAT. The Attack title is particularly annoying because the print is very dark and damaged and the credits are incorrect but often quoted as factual in reviews and articles.  I hope you can make use of this information.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Exclusive: Mothman Flies Again

No, not a Watchmen superhero or the brand name of a pest extermination company, but the notorious cryptozoological critter that has already been given cinematic treatment in The Mothman Prophecies (US-2002; dir. Mark Pellington) and Mothman (US-2010; dir. Sheldon Wilson), and has been explored further in assorted documentaries, such as the feature-length Eyes of the Mothman (US-2011; dir. Matthew J. Pellowski).

Here, based on "actual" sightings, is what it's supposed to look like:

The phantom's appearance is said to presage disasters... well, one in particular -- the collapse of the Silver Bridge that crossed the Ohio River, between Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Kanauga, Ohio on the evening of December 15, 1967, killing 46 people. In the year leading up to the collapse, Point Pleasant had been haunted by this spectre. In the aftermath of the collapse, bizarre stories of premonitions and warnings came to light, and connections were drawn between reports of similar sightings and tragedies worldwide.

Of course, apart from the wings and prophecies, it was the glowing red eyes that caught the imagination of UFOlogists, who speculated that the creature was some sort of time-saavy, interdimensional alien.

Fascinating, no doubt, and now that fascination has given rise to another version of the story -- Two Red Eyes, an independent production starring, and being written and directed by, Austin Cochran (pictured above in a scene from the film).

Take a look at the trailer:

Cochrain (pictured below) commented to Undead Backbrain: 
Two Red Eyes is a personal project. There is a real film to go along with the trailer and the final product should be released eventually -- hopefully soon. As far as the cast/crew, everything was done by me. I began the project to show a few friends and then it became so much more ambitious.
Early Teaser:

Not too much by way of plot information yet, but check back if the Mothman holds a place in your heart. It looks like it could be a good film in the independent, low-budget spectrum.

For more, check out Cochran's YouTube channel and Vimeo page.

More Images: Click on them to enlarge.

  • Source: Austin Cochran via Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood.