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Interview: ‘Ma’ Director Tate Taylor
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Director Tate Taylor Octavia Spencer Ma movie

[Image Credit: Anna Kooris/Universal Pictures.]

In 2011, relatively new director Tate Taylor wrote and directed The Help, based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett. Taylor, born in Jackson, MI, helped tell the story of the Civil Rights-era South through the eyes of African American maids working for white families. One of those maids was Minny Jackson, played by Octavia Spencer. The film received rave reviews and was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture. It’s sole Oscar win went to Spencer, who took home Best Supporting Actress. Eight years later, Taylor and Spencer reunited for an unlikely movie, the Blumhouse produced Ma. Spencer stars as Sue Ann, a mysterious loner with a dark past whose home becomes a party den for teenagers until her true intentions are revealed. Spencer is wild, appearing to relish playing a psychotic stalker and she carries the film. Debuting in theaters this past Spring, the horror film grossed over $60 million worldwide on a $5 million budget. Ma arrives on Digital today, and Blu-Ray and DVD on September 3, 2019. I was lucky enough to talk to director Tate Taylor about the film, his Oscar-winning star, and his career.

Geeks of Doom: Hi, thanks for taking the time. I saw Ma and really enjoyed it, especially Octavia Spencer’s performance. What got you interested in this project and what was it like working with Octavia again?

Tate Taylor: It was kind of serendipitous how it all happened. I’ve been doing back to back studio films for awhile. And studios are corporations and corporations have shareholders and you can only push things so far. While it’s frustrating I also understand it. I was in this mindset that I wanted to shake things up a bit and do something just crazy. At about the same time, Octavia and I — we’re best friends, we talk everyday — and she had confided in me that she was really frustrated that she was being offered the exact same roles, which happens to everybody. She was really kind of bummed about it. And then Jason Blum, who’s a friend of mine, we had a meeting to see if we can find something to do together and I looked at him and I said, “What do you have that’s really f*cked up?” He says, “Really?!” He says, oddly enough they just got this script in yesterday that they optioned and haven’t even really broken it down. He lets me read it, I read it, and it needed work. It wasn’t written for a woman like Octavia. So I call her up and tell her “Octavia, I’m reading the most fun, f*cked up script, believe it or not it’s in the horror genre, but I found a way to find heart in the message.” She says, “I’m in! If I’m not the first to get killed and I’m the lead in a horror film, I’m in.” I told her to read it first and she did and I called Jason and asked, “What about Octavia?” and he yelled, “WHAT!?!?” And that’s it.

Geeks of Doom: Wow. I’m a huge horror fan. The joke with horror is usually it’s a stepping stone genre where big stars make their debuts there and then graduate out. It’s rare to see a big star, an Oscar winner like Octavia Spencer, take the lead in a horror film. I think it’s great for the genre. What are your thoughts on that?

Tate Taylor: It is. The Wall Street Journal just did a big article on that very thing worrying if this was going to be the future. We did this out of love and getting ready to get my repertoire of actors and crew together and go back to Mississippi and just have a blast. We didn’t really ever think of her as “the Oscar winner.” It was just, let’s go have a blast.

Geeks of Doom: She seems like she’s having a blast. You mentioned wanting to do something f’d up and there are certainly some messed up things happening in the film. Was there anything too dark or going too far where you needed to edit it out? I’m thinking of something that might be on a Bu-ray extra.

Tate Taylor: There’s a few deleted scenes, but nothing too crazy where you’d say, “Damn, I wish that was in there.” We did some f*cked up stuff in there. The frustrating thing of this genre for me was the expected lengths we have to go to keep the attention spans for many of the people that like this genre. A lot of the cuts were due to concerns over the amount of time.

Geeks of Doom: Speaking of genre, you have certainly made your way through a fair amount. You wrote and directed the historical drama The Help, the thriller The Girl on the Train, you’ve worked in comedies, and now horror. What’s it like bouncing between genres like that as a filmmaker?

Tate Taylor: It may be confusing for the town, but like I said it goes to the place of me of Octavia and I not considering her an Oscar winner and me a feature director doing a horror film. We truly love the joy of filmmaking. I really had to fight after The Help, honestly I just kept being given scripts of women who have cancer, over and over and over. And the irony is The Help and that subject matter, I did it because I understood it and I lived it. But my brain is closer to Ma. And The Girl of the Train was an example where I went too far in their minds. I did a biopic of James Brown after The Help, then I did a thriller, then I did a horror movie. Now I’m doing a TV series about religion in New Orleans, and I have an oxycodone movie I wrote that we’re going to do. I just like to eat at different restaurants.

Geeks of Doom: I never heard it put that way, but I like that way of thinking.

Tate Taylor: Yeah, like people are “foodies,” I’m a “Movie.” I want to try everything. And as you learn and sharpen your skills in different genres, it makes it easy to bring the hybrid together, and it makes you a better director I think. You may stumble, people may scratch their heads, but I think that’s how you get better.

Geeks of Doom: You mentioned your relationship with Octavia Spencer, but researching your filmography you work with the same cast members very often. You obviously have good working relationships. What is it like being able to go back to that well of talent?

Tate Taylor: Well, I am in NO WAY, and I want to capitalize that, comparing myself to Robert Altman, but I did see a documentary about his life. I found his approach to work and making films is much like mine. It’s about family, it’s about food, it’s about trust, it’s about collaboration. That’s what I love to do. When you find people, cast, and crew that like to play that way, you keep them around. They want to be around you. When I make a movie most people say it doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like camp. And I always laughingly say, “Let’s go to Movie Camp.”

On Ma, most of the actors lived with me in my house. I just think when you build a family the trust increases. They trust you and vice versa and you’re willing to take chances. It’s not like that when you hop in a van and go home to sit by yourself waiting to be picked up again.

Geeks of Doom: You’ve touched on a few of your upcoming projects. Can you go into any details about any of them?

Tate Taylor: I’m actually going to New Orleans tomorrow. I created a show called Filthy Rich that got picked up by FOX and I’ll be doing that till March. I’ll be directing five of the episodes, starring Kim Cattrall. It’s a comedic look at faith, people of no faith, sex, hypocrisy, you know all the juicy stuff. The right, the left, evangelicals, hard line conservatives; it’s just one huge photo of where we are right now in the country. And I’m really excited about it.

Geeks of Doom: Thank you very much, we look forward to Ma coming to Blu-Ray soon, and as a history teacher by day, thank you for The Help, I show it in my U.S. History classes.

Tate Taylor: That’s really cool, I appreciate you saying that.

Tate Taylor was a funny and down to earth interview. He is a total southern gentleman. Aside from Filthy Rich, Taylor has four other projects lined up according to IMDb. Ma, starring Octavia Spencer, Luke Evans, and Juliette Lewis, is available now on Digital and on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 3, 2019.

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Up All Night 2019 “Pay To Get Out” Horror Movie Marathon
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2019 Up All Night Pay To Get Out Horror Movie Marathon banner

Earlier this month, I attended the Up All Night: Pay to Get Out Horror Movie Marathon at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, Long Island, New York. This is the second year I’ve done this, so it’s now an annual tradition for me. The theater hosts many special events throughout the year, but for horror fans their movie marathons are something special. This year, 7 films were advertised with a mystery 8th film to cap off the marathon before a special bagel breakfast for those who survived the evening, along with the guaranteed $10 refund. Here’s a rundown of my experience at this year’s event, which took place on Saturday, August 3, 2019.

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Movie Review: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Dr. Zaius Review)
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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Director: David Leitch
Writer: Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Rated PG-13| Minutes: 136
Release Date: Aug 2, 2019

I am probably not the right person to be reviewing a film from the Fast & Furious franchise. The 2001 original did so little for me that I ignored all the following sequels, even after Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joined the party in 2011’s Fast Five. The franchise was originally built on a criminal underworld of car racing then evolved into a globetrotting Bond-esque stunt show on steroids forgoing logic, gravity, and physics for utterly ridiculous action set pieces and larger than life actors and characters. Despite not being a fan of the series, I felt compelled to see the spinoff film Hobbs and Shaw due to the undeniable chemistry of the two leads and a vibe that reminded me of some of my favorite silly action films of the 1980s, namely Commando and Tango & Cash.

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Ranking Quentin Tarantino’s Filmography and Its Best Moments
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Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino is the most influential American filmmaker of the past quarter century. A passionate lover of so many classic genres, Tarantino has spent 30 years re-inventing and combining those genres into modern films for modern audiences all while infusing a dialogue style never heard before and oft-imitated since. His movies are violent, loud, feature colorful language, and above all else, they’re just plain cool. Technically, his directorial debut was My Best Friend’s Birthday from 1987, but only 36 minutes of that project exists. His first official film was 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, and he wrote gangster True Romance and a draft of Natural Born Killers before hitting the stratosphere with Pulp Fiction in 1994.

With the recent release of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Tarantino officially has 9 feature films he’s both written and directed on his resume (when we count Kill Bill as one movie, which they do on the poster for the Once). And since rankings and lists are always fun, I’m going to countdown Tarantino’s filmography in order from worst to best, along with a mention of each entry’s Best Moment.

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Shudder Arrivals: What’s Coming To AMC’s Horror Streaming Service In August 2019
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A Nightmare On Elm Street Nancy and Freddy

Amazon’s horror streaming service Shudder continues to offer the best selection to fans of genre programming. After a successful showing earlier this month at San Diego Comic-Con, which saw the panel and trailer release for their upcoming Creepshow series headed by Greg Nicotero as well as a preview of the highly anticipated film Tiger Are Not Afraid by Issa Lopez, the streaming service is ready to continue heating up the summer as we head to August 2019.

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Is Tommy Doyle Returning To The ‘Halloween’ Franchise? Rumor Is That Paul Rudd Was Approached For Role
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Tommy Doyle Halloween 6 Paul Rudd

While the holiday is celebrated in mid Fall, the summer has been hot with Halloween movie news. We learned earlier this month that “The saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode will continue” with two sequels to David Gordon Green’s hugely successful 2018 Halloween. Halloween Kills is set to hit theaters in 2020 and be followed by 2021’s Halloween Ends. Jamie Lee Curtis is set to return as Laurie Strode in both films. Now rumors are circulating that another character from John Carpenter’s original 1978 classic could be returning to the series: Tommy Doyle.

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SDCC 2019: Shudder Releases First ‘Creepshow’ Trailer
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Shudder Creepshow header

San Diego Comic-Con is in full effect this weekend and while yesterday was a huge day for movie trailer debuts, today horror fans can rejoice as we get our first trailer for the highly anticipated Creepshow series coming to Shudder this September. Based on the original anthology film from 1982 which saw a collaboration between horror geniuses Stephen King and George A. Romero, the new series is run by Greg Nicotero, the effects wizard who has essentially been the backbone of AMC’s The Walking Dead for years now.

Check out the Creepshow trailer and poster here below.

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Movie Review: Child’s Play (2019)
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Child's Play Reboot

Child’s Play (2019)
Directed by Lars Klevberg
Written by Tyler Burton Smith
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill
Orion Pictures
Rated R | 90 minutes
Release date: June 21, 2019

The 1988 Tom Holland/Don Mancini Child’s Play took a ridiculous premise and elevated it to classic horror status thanks to a great cast, tremendous practical effects, and Brad Dourif’s iconic voice acting as Chucky. While that franchise continues to find new life on Blu-ray and TV, director Lars Klevberg and Orion rebooted the killer doll franchise with a movie that many hate and rip on general principle. Yet it’s perhaps thanks to having zero expectations that the updated Child’s Play is really freaking entertaining.

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Shudder Arrivals: What’s Coming To AMC’s Horror Streaming Service In June 2019
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Shudder Visitations banner

Shudder is bringing it this June, scaring audiences with tons of new additions to their plentiful horror catalogue along with plenty of new original content. AMC’s streaming genre service never disappoints and there is tons to be excited about for horror fans as we inch toward the end of the school year and the start of summer.

The good news started last week when it became official that Joe Bob’s Last Drive-In would be returning for a second season. Joe Bob Briggs returned for a drive-in overnight marathon last summer that literally broke the internet and the fan support swelled from a one-off special, into holiday marathons and finally a full weekly double feature on Friday nights. While you are waiting for Joe Bob and Darcy the Mailgirl to return, Shudder is loading up the schedule in June.

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BookCon 2019: ‘NOS4A2’ This Way to Christmasland Experience
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NOS4A2 Christmasland Sign

BookCon is an annual event that brings fans together with their favorite authors and works of literature. This year’s event just finished up at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, where one of the big focuses was on the upcoming AMC series NOS4A2, based on the 2013 novel by Joe Hill.

Hill, the son of Stephen King, has published multiple bestsellers in the genre his dad helped reinvent. He was at the Con on Saturday night for a panel and Q&A alongside NOS4A2’s showrunner Jami O’Brien. But if fans could not get into the panel room, they could go to the Christmasland display on the show floor and get gifts from Charlie Manx himself!

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