Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Military marksman Col. Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) is called into top-secret duty to neutralize a surveillance robot gone haywire in San Francisco. It won't be easy, because for one thing, the android is undetectable from a human. For another, it has a built-in nuclear bomb that will detonate upon imminent threat.
I plead guilty: My friends and I have goofed around with a camcorder before and made stupid movies, but we were smart enough to know that no one outside ourselves would think they were funny. If only the makers of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas realized the same.
Who’s Joe Nimziki, you ask? He’s just made his directorial debut with “The Howling: Reborn,” now on Blu-ray and DVD just in time for Halloween viewing. It’s not required that you read our review of the franchise’s eighth chapter before the breezy convo below, but it sure won’t hurt, either.
R&R: How did you get involved with the film? Were you approached to do it by the rights holders or was it the other way around?
Nimziki: I was approached by (producer and rights holder) Joel Kastelberg. He wanted to make a film called "The Howling," but I was free to create whatever story I desired.
R&R: Were there any other wildly different concepts considered before this one was chosen?
Nimziki: I always consider many options before settling on one. I did know that I wanted the werewolves to be in the present-day city, though, instead of in the woods or some past or future time, because I felt like I hadn't really seen that before. But I considered many story incarnations including older and younger leads before settling on teens. It just seemed like such a natural pairing to me: coming of age, lust, hormones, trying to stay in control and werewolves.
R&R: Did the success of “Twilight” figure in the decision to make it youth-centric?
Nimziki: I actually wrote and registered the script before there ever was a "Twilight” movie or book. The irony is, at the time, it made studios nervous to have a teen love story at the center of the movie. They wanted more of a “visceral creature killing off victims one by one in the woods” type of thing ... but we weren't interested in that. I do think once “Twilight” came out and did well, it helped people realize more of what we were going for and that there was an audience for it, and got the project off the ground.
R&R: Where do you think this one fits in the entire “Howling” franchise?
Nimziki: Hard to say, since I've only seen — and am a fan of — the original. But I will say this is an original story with a few nods to the first “Howling,” and I think it leads to an even better story next time around. I thought it had some interesting commentary on the human condition, and the werewolves were groundbreaking at the time.
R&R: Although the original “Howling” was a hit, it doesn't enjoy the same staying power today as, say, “An American Werewolf in London.” Do you think the name brand still means anything to today's audiences?
Nimziki: “An American Werewolf In London” was honestly my favorite all-time werewolf movie. I loved how they combined humor and scares and characters you were vested in, and I think that's why it has aged so well.
But I think “The Howling” as an entity is just as well-known. The poster for the original is so iconic, and the logo and art is probably the most imitated in key-art history. So even though I know much of our audience has never seen a “Howling” movie or is consciously aware of the title, unconsciously it's made an impression. And from the research screening and early reaction, they seem to really enjoy the film which, in the end, is the important thing.
R&R: The end credits seem like an obvious setup for a kick-ass sequel. Are their plans to do one, and would it go the route as implied?
Nimziki: Yeah, I would like the next chapter to go that route. Funny enough, the next story is one I considered telling in this movie, but it would have been a little too ambitious for the limited dollars and shoot days we had, so I wrote what I considered a prequel. But hopefully, we'll get a chance to tell that story next time. —Rod Lott