Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Evil Dead News Exclusive - Plague Town Book Review/Interview with author Dana Fredsti, sword fighting Deadite
Dana Fredsti is not only a novelist and screenwriter, but is an ex B-movie actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting. She has worked on various films, including Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness as an armourer's assistant, sword-fighting captain, and sword-fighting Deadite. She also starred in the movies Princess Warrior (1989) and Bloodbath (1999).
I recently had the pleasure of reading Dana Fredsti's new book Plague Town. I am not a huge book reader, by any strech of the imagination, but certain books tend to catch my eye. I might add it usually takes me a while to finish a book but that was not the case with Plague Town. Plague Town is a delightfully quick read, filled with lots of action and zombie excellence.
Before I go any further, here is the synopsis from the book's official website:
In the small university town of Redwood Grove, people are succumbing to a lethal strain of flu. They are dying—but not for long. Ashley Parker and her boyfriend are attacked by these shambling, rotting creatures that crave human flesh. Their lives will never be the same again.
When she awakes Ashley discovers that she is a “wild card”—immune to the virus—and is recruited by a shadowy paramilitary organization that offers her the chance to fight back. Fatally attracted to her gorgeous instructor, and bonding with her fellow wild cards, Ashley begins to discover skills she never knew she had.
As the town falls to ever-growing numbers of the infected, Ashley and her team fight to contain the outbreak—but will they be enough?
Plague Town is reminiscent of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If 4th season Buffy Summers were a tad bit older and thrust into the world of The Walking Dead as a zombie-killer, rather than a vampire slayer, she could be Ashley Parker. There is plenty of action and, yes, even some romance in Plague Town. In addition, the book references almost every zombie movie ever made. I won't say much more, as I don't want to spoil it for you, but take my
word and pick up a copy if you are a fan of Buffy or The Walking Dead. You won't be disappointed! I can easily see this book being developed into a TV series or even a movie.
Look for Plague Town: An Ashley Parker Novel on April 3rd, 2012, in the United States (amazon.com) and April 27th, 2012, in the UK (amazon.co.uk).
Titan Books | Titan Books - Twitter
Keep on reading for our exclusive interview with Dana Fredsti:
How did you first get involved in acting?
My fifth and sixth grade teachers had high-falutin' ideas about class plays. In fifth grade we did Antigone and I got cast as the lead. I don't remember the audition or if there even was an audition, but it was fun. Then in sixth grade we did Hamlet and I was Queen Gertrude. I just remember the scene where Hamlet stabs Polonius (who is hiding behind Gertrude's curtains while Hamlet confronts his mother) and Polonius, played by a sixth grade kid with curly blond hair, freckles, and the acting chops of a block of wood saying, "Oooh, I am slain" and falling to the ground with a thud. Hamlet and I lost it and had a fit of the giggles that lasted longer than the scene. How could I not want to continue with acting after this?
You played Curette in the B-movie Princess Warrior (1989). Can you tell us a bit about working on that movie?
Heh. I actually wrote an entire essay for an issue of Morbid Curiosity (edited by Loren Rhoads) about my experiences on Princess Warrior. Two weeks of 12-14 hour shooting days, $25 a day, I was thrilled to death to get cast as the villainess, Curette. Basically you have two princesses on a planet where the men are slaves and the women have no fashion sense. Queen Mom is dying and calls her daughters (Curette/brunette/evil and Ovule/blond/good) to her deathbed to hand over the Ring of Power. It's supposed to go to Curette, being the eldest, but she's a skanky 'ho and Mom passes it on to Ovule instead 'cause she's all blond and sweet and blond (because blond equals good, and brunette equals EEEEEVil). Curette and her minions stage a coup (or have a cow, not sure which), there's a goofy light saber battle and Ovule is sent by the good blond priestesses to earth, smack dab in the middle of a wet T-shirt contest. Curette and her minions soon follow and the rest of the movie consists of much silliness.
The wet T-shirt contest is endless (and dull). It is seriously the longest wet T-shirt contest in cinema history. And the only one where the contestants were wearing industrial strength cotton-polyester shirts that defied all efforts to get them wet and translucent. The filmmakers spent eight hours shooting this scene and only gave us two hours to choreograph and film the climatic fight scene between me and the actress playing Ovule. Priorities!
Funniest memory is when we tried to choreograph a fight with the "light sabers" (these Plexiglas tubes filled with colored water) and the damn things shattered with the first hit. That's why you won't see any actual contact in that epic battle at the Queen Mother's deathbed. So much badness in this movie, including the director playing a cameo as some douche on a payphone and you actually hear these words "Are we... are we filming yet?" in the take used in the film. All in all it's a shame MST3K never got a hold of the film.
You also have a background in theatrical sword-fighting. How did you develop your sword-fighting skills?
Lots of training. I started when I was eighteen and met Christopher Villa, a sword choreographer with SAFD (Society of American Fight Directors), who taught me my first sword choreography. I ended up working as his assistant on a production of Rashomon in Eugene, Oregon. I had a very brief stint training for the Conan Show at Universal Studios (this was during an actor's strike), and then worked with a group called The Duelists doing workshops and shows at conventions (I remember Comic Con when it was small and friendly, dammit!) and Renaissance Faires, and then was the feminine half of Rose and Rapier, a comedic swordfighting act. I joined the Academy of Theatrical Combat in the late '80s and trained with them until I moved from Los Angeles up to San Francisco a few years ago. My current boyfriend also loves fencing/swordfighting so it's still a part of my life even though I don't do it professionally any more.
Dana as a sword-fighting Deadite in Army of Darkness
You worked as an armourer's assistant, sword-fighting captain, and sword-fighting Deadite on Army of Darkness. How did you initially get involved with the movie?
I was a student at the Academy of Theatrical Combat, run by Dan Speaker and Jan Bryant, who were the sword choreographers for the film. They pulled some of their students to be Deadites and to help train extras in the basics and I was one of the lucky ones. My then boyfriend was the onset armourer and needed a couple of assistants, so I also got hired to do that for the first few weeks because the Deadite scenes were going to be filmed later in the production.
You got to choreograph your own sword fights on Army of Darkness. What makes for good sword choreography?
For me, it’s making sure that the fights are realistic. No telegraphing moves (when you see someone get into position for a parry before their opponent has started the attack), for instance. Every fight tells a story that depends on the characters involved; their relationship (if they have one), their respective skill levels; their intent...you get the idea. A good choreographer will take all of these things into consideration, as well as make use of the terrain/set on which the fight takes place. The actors need to be able to not only learn the moves, but have to be able to act the fight. Nothing clunks more to me than watching either people executing moves with precision but no real intent (unless their character is a really skilled and really bored swordsman and even then, you’d want to see some intent to the moves) or fights where the combatants think letting out great bellowing yells sells sloppy sword-work. Even scarier is to be on the receiving end of someone’s cuts when they haven’t learned the techniques for making it look like they’re sending their energy into the blow without actually hammering the shit out of their opponent.
What do you remember most about working with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell?
Sam: always a gentleman. He always wore a dress shirt and tie on set, and at the end of each shooting day would go around and thank everyone for the work they put in. He also really did seem to enjoy torturing Bruce via the trials and tribulations of Ash.
Rob: quintessential producer in a good way. Very good at handling the various problems, personalities, and egos (lots of all ‘em) that you get on film sets and I never saw him lose his cool, although he did look a bit frayed around the edges at times.
Bruce: What I remember the most about Bruce is that damn line “This is my BOOMstick!” uttered over and over again when they filmed that scene. It was an auditory Chinese water torture and since I was on set as one of the castle villagers that day, I was trapped. I also remember him being very Ash-like most of the time.
What made you want to write novels, rather than pursue acting or teach sword-fighting?
I’ve always loved to write. I started very young, my first epic story entitled – and about – The End of the Sun having been written at the age of five or so when I first learned how to string one syllable words together. I still have a partially finished YA novel I started in ninth grade. So the writing has always been something I’ve loved to do. I developed the acting bug fairly early on too, but realized fairly quickly that I did not have the driving passion for it needed to make a living at it. Didn’t want to go out on cattle calls, hated having to worry about what I could or couldn’t eat in order to stay thin (and this was before size 2 became the norm), and just did not want to get a boob job. I did enough acting projects to keep my hand in and satisfy my inner ham, but given the choice between experiencing lots of rejection based on my appearance or working at home in my pajamas and sipping hot chocolate, the flannel jammies and hot chocolate won. As far as the swordfighting, I love doing it, but I’m not patient enough to teach full time. I managed to control my impatient tendencies while working as one of the sword captains on Army of Darkness, but overall I lack the teaching gene. I’d be one of those teachers whacking my students with the flat of the blade and yelling all the time. Those that can’t teach should just do instead. :)
Can you tell us where the idea for Plague Town originated?
I was originally asked by Lori Perkins if I wanted to write a trilogy of books. She pitched it as “Buffy, but with zombies. And different.” The specifics of characters, plot and setting were left entirely up to me. Being a Buffy fan and a zombieholic, I jumped on the chance. The challenge for me was writing something that (I hoped) would appeal to paranormal romance/urban fantasy readers as well as the die-hard zombiephiles. I like to read both genres so I figured there had to be others that swung both ways, so to speak. As I worked on the first book, Lori shopped it around to other publishers (it was slated as an eBook with Ravenous Romance to start) and eventually sold it to Titan Books. I worked closely with Titan editor Steve Saffel (whom I refer to as my Dark Editorial Overlord, DEO for short), and we made some changes (picture my original manuscript dripping with bloody red edits) to further broaden the potential readership and just make it a better book overall. I think it’ll still appeal to fans of the original version, but I’m really happy with the new and improved Plague Town.
What sets Ashley Parker apart from other strong-willed female characters in today's horror/urban fantasy novels?
She doesn’t have a tramp stamp crawling out of her butt crack. Seriously, those things remind me of Cthulhu emerging from his dark lair beyond the stars… Okay, REALLY seriously, I like to think what makes Ashley unique is her narrative voice and sense of humor. She lacks a major chip on her shoulder too, which a lot of the bad-ass female heroines seem to have. And she’s not a vampire, witch, shapeshifter, fae or psychic. She’s just an average twenty-something Liberal Arts Major without a clue what she wants to do with her life until the Zombocalypse makes the choice for her.
The next two Ashley Parker novels are called Plague Nation and Plague World. Can you reveal a little of what is next for Ashley Parker?
Well, I can promise you more zombies. LOTS more zombies as the contagion spreads beyond the California college town of Redwood Grove, and our heroes have to go further afield to try and find a cure for the plague ... if one even exists. I'm big on no spoilers so I don't want to say too much more, other than don't get too attached to any particular character. I'm still deciding who lives and who dies... ooh, it's a heady power trip! :)
You are obviously a zombie aficionado. What are your favorite movies about zombies?
Okay, this list includes the ones I love because they’re good and the ones I love because they are bad: Dawn of the Dead (the original and the first ten minutes of the remake), Night of the Living Dead (original and Savini’s remake, but NOT the special 30th Anniversary edition), Day of the Dead (“choke on it!”), The Dead, La Horde, Zombie, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland (although it needed more zombies), Dead Meat, Gates of Hell (silly fun!), Hell of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later (not exactly zombies but close enough), Rec, Resident Evil, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, Brain Dead, Dead Snow, Dead Set, Return of the Living Dead, Reanimator. And probably more than I’m just not remembering here. And yes, I left Army of Darkness off the list since Deadites just aren’t the same thing as zombies. And I consider AoD in a category all on its own. :)
Just for fun, if the zombie apocalypse comes, what are the most efficient weapons to use against them?
After watching The Walking Dead, I’d have to say my very first weapon of choice would be a crossbow … attached to the character Daryl. :) After that I’d say anything that a person can use effectively and efficiently. If you don’t know how to use a firearm, it doesn’t matter how kickass it might be; if you can’t load and operate the thing, it’s not going to do you any good if you’re surrounded by even a dozen ravenous corpses. So if you’re planning on raiding the local gun store when the zombies show up, make sure you know how to load, aim and fire whatever firearms you take. One of my favorite things about the original Dawn of the Dead is that two of the main characters, Fran and Stephen, are totally incompetent with firearms at the beginning of the movie and we actually see them training once they’ve set up shop in the mall. So much more realistic than everyone suddenly becoming crack shots at the advent of a zombie attack, the way vampires automatically get mad martial arts skills in the Buffyverse.
Lastly, any thoughts on the upcoming Evil Dead remake?
I am very embarrassed to admit it's been totally off my radar. I went and looked it up on IMDB as soon as I read your question. I'm not a fan of remakes as a general rule, but I did like Tom Savini's remake of Night of the Living Dead and I figure since Sam, Bruce and Rob are involved in the Evil Dead remake, I'll at least give it a look-see. But I just don't see how you could improve on the original... or the original's kind of sort of remake/sequel Evil Dead II.
For more info on Dana visit:
Dana Fredsti - Twitter
Posted by Evil Dead News Editor at 12:50 PM
Sunday, March 25, 2012
-------------Review by contributing writer Elise Holmes------------------
Note from the Editor: I asked Elise to do this comic review for Evil Dead News because the website's workload is steadily increasing. Elise is extremely knowledgeable about all things Evil Dead, especially collectible items. Elise maintains a fantastic Tumblr page and a YouTube channel that every Evil Dead fan should check out. I have included all of her links below. Now on to the review ...
Dynamite Entertainment after a long hiatus has finally risen from the grave for its new Army of Darkness revival in the form of Volume 3. Written by Elliot Serrano, the series has taken a new direction with the introduction of a new character this time around, an alternate universe version of Ash. Catch is, this Ash is a woman. With this concept in mind, many fans have anticipated the new series hoping for a new and fresh start. Unfortunately, long time readers of the Army of Darkness comic series just may be disappointed.
Issue #1 follows our new female lead known as Ashley K. Williams, exploring a bit of her back story with how she became a chosen one in her own right. Though this sounds promising, it turns out to be a little bit of a let down. This issue borrows heavily from Army of Darkness itself such as the opening, narrative style, S Mart-esque job, and setting of the story. The story itself is rather confusing as well. It doesn't help to include the introduction of another character other than Ashley K. that seems to serve no purpose to the storyline. There could have been more fleshing out of the storyline if this seemingly pointless character was removed and replaced with better back story. Instead, this issue simply feels rushed. It just plays out more like a sorry excuse to get our main character to go from its normal everyday life to Ashley J's universe.
One reason for this rushed storyline is that a section of the storyline is literally missing. It is never explained how the character got from her world to another timeline. It just happened. The series may have benefited from adding an extra issue and fleshing her story over two issues instead. Ashley K. seems to be a clone of the original Ash we all know and love as well, except presented as smarter, more grounded, and less arrogant. A special ability of hers serves as the best use of originality in the entire storyline which isn't terrible but it might not win over all readers.
Issue #2 jumps into some action between our original hero Ash and some deadites after some narrative from Ashley K. at right where it left off in the last issue. This bit immediately reminded me of older issues in previous volumes of Army of Darkness, except this time the more experienced Ash has brought with him some new weapons other than his trusty chainsaw and boomstick to do battle with. Other than this, the beginning is definitely just a rehash and steals lines from Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. It's not like this hasn't already been done countless times. This is pretty formulaic and nothing too new is shown here. Simply the question "What is Ash up to these days?" is raised and answered. He is working solo here. Probably after this, the series is probably meant to play out like a buddy cop film between our two Ashes after they meet up. The issue then turns to a family in Brazil where setting of the next two issues are presumably going to occur. In the quickest manner, the main antagonist is introduced. It is the impeding challenge our two heroes are to take together.
There is nothing much to criticize here as the story just becomes a set up for both Ashes. We have yet to see both of them together other than the throwback narrative between the two at the beginning of the first two issues. If the reader simply loves seeing Ash battle deadites, it definitely does offer that and not much else. This issue unlike the last is at least very straight forward and is easier to follow. If this issue was meant to simply have readers get excited at references to the movies and just watch the Ashes battle deadites, it wouldn't probably be frustrating for long time fans to read. Otherwise, it is still an improvement over the last issue. Despite these complaints, the first two issues of the series are still a fun romp despite their confusing nature.
One definite positive aspect of the series is artist Marat Mychaels. His art style catches our original hero's likeness and the design on female Ash is simple but spot on. The artistic style is perfect for Army of Darkness though the deadites seem to be stereotypically drawn much like in older issues with nothing new particularly standing out, but this isn't necessarily a big problem.
Overall, the new Army of Darkness series so far seems to be lacking in a decent and easier storyline to follow with much reused elements from both the original film and the previous comics. There isn't too much originality but there's still some deadite carnage thrown in the mix which is very well drawn and wonderful to look at. Those looking for something fresh may want to pass. But if you're simply a fan excited to see Ash in the new scenario that will arise in issues #3 and #4 as he is teamed up with our female character with deadite violence in the mix, it is worth a look.
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TheDeaditeSlayer - YouTube
Posted by Evil Dead News Editor at 10:14 AM
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Casting for the Evil Dead remake was going fast and furious for a while, but has slowed considerably in recent weeks. Between February 2nd and February 10th the project added Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez and Lou Taylor Pucci, however, there's been no more news on the project in nearly a month. Today it has kicked back up again as two more actresses have signed on.
THR has learned that Jessica Lucas is in talks and Elizabeth Blackmore is set to head into the woods for director Fede Alvarez. While Blackmore is a relative newcomer - most of her work has been on Australian television - Lucas is best known for playing Riley Richmond on the Melrose Place reboot that ran from 2009 to 2010. The new film, which is being produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, is about a group of five friends who travel to a cabin in the woods to help their drugged out friend (Levy). While there, however, they discover the book of the dead an unleash an ancient evil. Should the deal be completed, Lucas will play Levy's best friend, who also happens to be a nurse, and Blackmore will play Fernandez's fiance, who is "new to the group." Production will begin this April in New Zealand.
Click Here To Read More - Source: www.cinemablend.com
Posted by Evil Dead News Editor at 6:12 PM
Friday, March 2, 2012
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Posted by Evil Dead News Editor at 1:33 PM
2 Featured Videos: Army of Darkness Atari 2600 (Package & Gameplay) and Rich Reviews - NECA Evil Dead 2 Ash Figures
Oops i had the exposure setting on my camera too high so the gameplay looks too bright. The first wave of Deadites are blue and the second wave is red. But you would hardly know it.
Quick review of the new NECA Evil Dead 2 Ash Figures!
Posted by Evil Dead News Editor at 9:04 AM