Tag Archives: Indie News

James Tucker and Kelsey Zukowski Terrify Us In “Within These Walls”

By Michael Goth

During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s three low budget horror films redefined the horror genre. The films were George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left (1972) and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

Craven’s film was and remains to this day the most unsettling of the three, which is probably why it didn’t take in nearly as much at the box office as Hooper’s and Romero’s. It’s my guess that until MGM released Last House on video during the summer of 2000 that more people had probably heard about the film then had actually seen it. And that MGM release, like an 80’s release of the film that was banned as a “video nasty”, featured many of the film’s more graphic scenes edited down. It wasn’t until 2003 that MGM put out an uncut version of the film on DVD.

The Last House on the Left starts out rather comical and lightweight before an almost unbearable horror and sense of dread takes over. Even in the early scenes there is a certain intensity and feeling of doom just beneath the surface of the humor.

While recently watching the teaser trailer for a new film currently In production called Within These Walls, I was reminded of my very first time seeing Craven’s classic but unquestionably disturbing classic.

Within These Walls is a psychological horror film written by Kelsey Zukowski and James Tucker, with Tucker directing. The story is about a young woman (Zukowski), who has recently lost her mother. She decides to stay in the house that her mother had lived in. However, the house is home to more than just memories. There is a lurking evil possessing the house that will pray on all of the young woman’s weaknesses and will bring her to the edge of madness like Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Kelsey Zukowski has stated to being an admirer of Wes Craven, which may account for why the scenes in the teaser trailer for Within These Walls feels so much like early Craven such as Last House and 1977’s The Hills Have Eyes. Also, director Tucker seems to have a documentary film like style which Craven also brought to his first two films.

Another trait that the team of Zukowski and Tucker share with Craven is the desire to take an audience on a psychological trip that will test their endurance. When Craven made The Last House on the Left there were cases of grown men crying while watching the film as it presented an intensity and realism in its portrayal of violence that no one had ever seen before.

In an era when many horror movies rely too much on CGI effects and bloodletting to get a reaction from an audience, Within These Walls represents a return to old style movie making when horror was a way to address cultural and psychological issues. James Tucker and Kelsey Zukowski are using horror today very much the way Wes Craven did in the 1970’s.

Trapped “Within These Walls” with James Tucker and Kelsey Zukowski!

Of all the monsters, creatures, Demons, serial killers, Zombies, and Vampires etc. Nothing has ever been quit so terrifying as spirits, in my opinion. Why is that you might ask? Well why not? Most of us easily forget that death is the final path all must take. And once that step is taken it’s done, there’s no going back… But the thought that one could come back is both thrilling and terrifying. Could you imagine all the killers, rapists, psychos, and maniacs continuing their work from beyond the grave? Worst yet, how do you stop, let alone hurt something that isn’t even alive?

Now try to imagine being a prisoner in your own home being tormented and repeatedly assaulted by such a force… The thought alone sends chills down my spine. Scream Queen and Writer Kelsey Zukowski (What They Say, Words Like Knives) and Director James Tucker (Aunt Rose, Skinned Alive) join forces to terrify use with WITHIN THESE WALLS. A gripping horror about a young woman trapped within her own home and tormented by unknown forces she is only beginning to understand.

Official Synopsis: A prisoner in her own home, a captive in her own body. Assaulted and trapped with no one to hear her cries for help…and knowing no one will believe her if they do.

This is the terrifying reality Alaina finds herself in when she moves in to the house her mother died in. At first she thinks it’s this loss that is haunting her, but she is soon shown it is something far more malicious and unrelenting. The spirit taunts her as it invades her body, mind, and soul, completely trapping her. Alaina fights for answers on what really happened to her mother if she has any hopes of survival. She must find a way to endure this monster which lives and breathes to rob her of her sanity as it demands a savage hold on her.

Within These Walls comes from the team of Kelsey Zukowski (What They Say, Words Like Knives) and James Tucker (Aunt Rose, Skinned Alive). They set out to dive deeper into a minimalist (practical effects and very little, if any, CGI) but compelling ghost/haunted house story that is far grittier and intense than you typically get from the sub-genre. Zukowski and Tucker were both eager to tackle this taboo and unnerving subject matter, making the circumstances of the main character (played by Zukowski) even more difficult to endure.

Zukowski comments on the collaboration process of the film thus far with filmmaker, James Tucker, “We immediately clicked on this project. We’re totally on the same page of what we want to create artistically through the film and to bring out within the vast capabilities of horror. Even better, we work off one another’s ideas to come up with something that neither one of us would have been able to realize on our own; a true collaborative project, which can be rare to come by. This is only the beginning for the film and world of Within These Walls as well as our future working relationship.”

Everything in the film is centered around a total entrapment through isolation and fear and one’s control being viciously ripped away in nearly every way. Some of these ways are hard to even wrap your mind around, but she is reminded how real and horrible they are, making it impossible to deny the torment that is escalating. Through this haunting, Alaina, the main character, is pushed as we explore the limits of what the human mind and body can endure. It takes place almost entirely in the single location of a haunted house. The only escape seems to be the surreal dream world that is often even more terrifying than the grim reality our character now lives in– thanks to an unknown malicious and demanding force, which slowly suffocates our protagonist.

“I was first interested in the project simply by the subject matter. I’m very drawn to intense horror, taking brutality and struggle and coupling it with rich story and powerful themes, making my main characters go through complete hell and examining how that changes them. The theory of struggle actually showing power as it means you’re still fighting is a major theme in the film and seems to allow Alaina to keep pushing forward in this hopeless battle that is demanding her defeat. There are some very disturbing elements in Within These Walls that push it that much further that I think will really stick with people.” says Zukowski.

“What I like most about this script and our collaboration, is that we were both truly interested in this type of character driven horror.” “We both wanted to and were willing to look closely at how some people deal with this extreme physical and psychological violence.” “Unfortunately, in the news these days, real life stories of captivity and prolonged torment continue to appear, it’s just not the stuff of fiction” says Tucker. “These personal struggles are many times glossed over, but we wanted our main character to have the chance to truly tell her story and include all the uncomfortable details.”

Within These Walls is currently raising funds on Indiegogo, where the teaser trailer can be seen. The film is moving forward with a prospective shoot date to begin around late August or early September in Pasadena, California. Zukowski will be starring in the character-based film, as she struggles to uncover the truth and her inner strength among the suffering she has to endure or find a way to beat. Cory Graham and director, James Tucker will also have featured roles in the film. The rest of supporting roles are currently being cast.

Teaser Trailer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/withinthesewallsmovie
Indiegogo Link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/within-these-walls/x/323841?c=home

‘Hand of Glory’ Director Responds to Threat of Picketing Premiere

Jan. 25, 2012 – Stuart Wahlin, writer and director of upcoming thriller Hand of Glory, responded today to what he described as a “veiled threat from anonymous cowards” who allegedly plan to picket the film’s March premiere at the Indie Horror Film Fest in Chicago.

Wahlin said he received the message from an individual via Facebook, an online social-networking community. The message expressed concern regarding the content of the upcoming film, which centers on an alcoholic prostitute.

“When we learned your movie is to include a child-rape scene, we found that particularly troublesome,” the message indicated. “That eclipses the already-questionable glorification of alcohol abuse, degradation of women, violence, murder and immoral spiritual themes.”

The message signature claimed to be from a group calling itself the “Coalition for Decency and Ethics in Film,”or CDEF, but when Wahlin tried to reply to the individual’s message, he found the account had been deleted.

Calling the tactic cowardly, Wahlin noted the sender also suggested the group would “crash the party…to send a clear message that this type of irresponsible trash has no place in cinema.”

Wahlin, however, feels the anonymous sender is overreacting.

“I can count on one hand the number of people on my crew who’ve seen the film, so I know it hasn’t been leaked,” Wahlin stated. “Without having seen it, these [CDEF] people simply don’t know what they’re all in a huff about. This guy’s distorted summary of what we believe to be an excellent film is unfortunate, because I’m willing to bet it’ll be one of the tamer pictures at the festival.”

Wahlin said he hasn’t had an opportunity to discuss this development with promoters yet, but that he’d understand if asked to withdraw from the festival.

“There are a lot of great films screening that weekend, and I don’t want to be the reason someone’s big day is ruined if these people show up with megaphones and picket signs,” he concluded.

Extra Tidbit: I can’t help but wonder if this group will actually show up or not during the festival.

Words Like Knives!

The most dreadful thing about a rumor is that it’s like a feather in the wind; once it gets momentum there’s no telling where or how far it will go, but the worst part about the existence of a rumor about you is the long term repercussions that comes with the territory. The more time passes by, the more the rumor becomes fact, and once that happens, it becomes truth. Words Like Knives is an up and coming psychological horror written, produced and starring Kelsey Zukowski (What They Say and Echo Lake) the WLK is a compelling short that deals with real world issues such as rumors and how dangerous they can be to someone’s life, and how far it can spiral a person down to the edge of sanity.

Synopsis: Emma has a loving family, caring boyfriend, and loyal best friend. One rumor might rip this all away from her though. She fights to hold on to her old life as one mean-spirited rumor becomes so real she can’t find the light through the encompassing darkness. Emma tries to run from it, but it becomes so real and takes on a life of its own. She finds herself powerless to it and unable to distinguish rumor from reality. What if she can’t escape it and hold on to her dwindling sanity?

Words Like Knives is a short dark drama written and starring Kelsey Zukowski and directed by Travis Legge. It also features Jeff Scaduto, Valerie Meachum, Myke Wilson, Melissa Revels, and Aley Kreinz. Shooting is scheduled for April 2012 in Rockford, IL.

Legge and Zukowski first worked together in March of 2011 on a Grindhouse trailer entitled, Monster Mash, which also starred Revels and Kitsie Duncan. Legge was a producer on the dark short, What They Say, which Zukowski wrote and acted in. The film was nominated for Best Short at The Chicago Horror Film Festival in September of 2011.

Legge has worked with the entire primary cast before, being well aware of their abilities and how they work best. Valerie Meachum appeared in Legge’s twisted Christmas short, Holiday Carvings, as well as Legge’s first feature film, Raymond Did It. Myke Wilson directed one of Travis’ scripts, Event Invitation, which wrapped filming in October of 2011. Legge worked with Melissa Revels both in Monster Mash and Windershins along with a number of projects they have in the works.

“Words Like Knives deals with very disturbing material, but that’s part of the point. I like tackling uncomfortable material. I find it far more interesting. It’s a delicate balance between seeming exploitative and meaningfully bringing out the darker side of humanity. I’m thrilled with the team that has signed on for the project. Everyone involved really believes in what the film is trying to accomplish and will be a part in bringing this disquieting vision to life”
Said Zukowski while discussion the upcoming project.

Although, it tackles very taboo material it also deals with the universal themes of a rumor spinning out of control and how damaging idle gossip can be. It simply takes this to a more severe level and examines the possibility of the horrors that can be locked deep inside any one of us when pushed far enough.

Words Like Knives Teaser Trailer

You can show your support to Words Like Knives by going to their official IndieGoGo Page and show your support by donating to the project or by helping spread the word.

To learn more about this developing project and stay up to date visit the official Words Like Knives Facebook Page and click “Like.”

Also stay up to date on twitter by following the official Words Like Knives Twitter Page.

Side Tidbit: Words Like Knives (2012) will be the second film consecutively that Kelsey has written and starred in with a three word title, the first being What They Say (2011).

Casting Call for New Indie Horror “The Hazed”

One of the worst things about joining a fraternity or sorority is the hazing that comes with the territory of pledging. Yeah it’s commonly known that hazing is highly unethical then alone illegal in today’s age, but just because something is deemed wrong doesn’t mean it stopped. But what if some took hazing to a whole new level of humiliation? What if some elevated it to a whole new level of horrors? From the creators of Echo Lake and Sick Flick Productions comes “The Hazed” a psychological thriller that explores the unforgiving and vindictive nature of sorority life. Once you’re in you’re in for life, and the only way to leave this sorority is through death!

The Hazed is set to begin filmming summer 2012 in the Chicago area. The film is written and produced and will also star Jonathan Moody and Kelsey Zukowski. The Hazed will also be Kelsey Zukowski’s directorial debut! Currently they doing a full casting call for both male and female actors and of various age brackets that range from age groups of 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. scroll down to read the synopsis and to get a full detail of the roles up for casting. And when you’re done be sure to drop by the official Hazed Facebook Page and click “Like” to keep up to date on all things regarding the project.

Synopsis: When Kate tries to pledge a sorority, she learns that a mistake from years ago is still haunting her. The sorority sisters are completely unforgiving, deciding to have their fun with Kate by torturing her and the other girls to no ends. Kate is determined not to let her win. She has her friends, Tyler and Hailey by her side to help her stay strong. The deeper Kate gets in though the more she realizes that these are not your typical hazing pranks. There is something much darker that lies within these girls, setting up a brutal cycle of jealousy, revenge, and a very twisted perception of reality.

The Hazed Character Breakdown

Kate: Female (18-25). Independent, determined, and spunky. Kate has always been an outsider, but isn’t going to let that get in the way of what she wants. She made a mistake years ago that Melissa isn’t willing to let her forget. Kate refuses to be a weak person though and is ready to take everything she throws her way. Role requires nudity, limited or implied is negotiable.

Melissa: Female (18-25). The head sorority sister. She loves being in charge and is used to everything going her way, blaming her problems on others when they do arise. She’s unforgiving and has a very dark nature, far beyond the bitchy façade that lies on the outside. Role requires nudity, limited or implied is negotiable.

Courtney: Female (18-25). One of Melissa’s best friend’s, runs the sorority house under her. She sticks by Melissa no matter how merciless the hazing becomes.

Kelly: Female (18-25). Melissa and Courtney’s other best friend. She is loyal to her sisters and is determined to get vengeance on Kate for Melissa’s sake.

Jenna: Female (18-25). The only reasonable sorority sister. She isn’t out to humiliate and torment the pledges and isn’t interested in getting revenge on Kate. She goes along with it to an extent, but she wants to just get through this year more than anything. She’s far more concerned with school and her long distance boyfriend who she hopes to be with when she goes to graduate school next year.

Brittany: Female (18-25). As she gets deeper in to the sorority and sees the consequence of Melissa’s jealousy her enthusiasm for the sorority quickly falls. She has a lot to deal with, but refuses to let Melissa and the other sisters run all over her. Limited clothing is required.

Lexy: Female (18-25). Almost connected at the hip to Anna. Both of the girls put all of their energy and hopes in to getting in to the sorority. They have more shallow reasons than the other girls. No matter how twisted things get the price is never too high to get what they want. Limited clothing is required.

Anna: Female (18-25). Lexy’s best friend. It quickly becomes them against the other girls. They intend to do whatever they can to get in to the sorority even when things turn morbid. It’s shocking to them at first, but they put their better judgment aside when their own desires blind them. Limited clothing is required.

Brad: Male (18-25). Head of one of the school’s fraternity’s. He treats woman horribly, especially his girlfriend, Melissa. He has been cheating on her for years and really has no qualms or guilt about it. He comes from a wealthy family in the same social circle as Melissa’s; part of the reason their parents want them to be together. Nudity is required.

Chase: Male (18-25). Sexist and objectifies woman. He’s Brad’s best friend and one of the brothers, but cannot stand Melissa. He’s a good friend to him regardless. Chase is one of the only people to really reject Melissa and show his interest elsewhere.

Chris: Male (18-25). School football star and one of Chase and Brad’s brothers. He’s crude and violent towards others.

Jennifer: Female (22-35) Jack’s wife. She loves her husband, but is going through a very hard time in her life. She hasn’t really been happy in a long time and acts on this unhappiness. She desperately wants to put that all behind them and learn to be happy with Jack again.

Jack: Male (25-40) Jennifer’s husband. She’s broken his heart and he can never be the same again. We begin to see him breaking before us, unable to hold on any longer.

Bryan: Male (20-30) Jenna’s long distance boyfriend. He is very caring and sincere, doing everything he can to try to be there for her. He tries to keep her rational and focused amongst all of the mayhem that ensues in the house.

Dr. Lucas: Male or Female (Min. age 25, but could preferably middle aged). The psychiatrist who tries to piece everything together in the aftermath. (S)he is desperate to reach his/her patient so they can accept what they’ve done and have hope for recovery so nothing like this ever happens again.

Lauren: Female (20-30). Kate’s Resident Advisor. Once she realizes Kate is going through something serious she steps in.

Delivery Man: Male. (Min. age 20, but preferably middle aged) Once he’s in the house he lets his curiosity and imagination get the best of him. He never would have expected what lies within this house.

Waitress: (Min. 18, but can be any age). Waitress at a steak/seafood restaurant that serves Hailey and Tyler.

Please email the character or characters you are interested in auditioning for to kels_z3@sbcglobal.net they are accepting video auditions for desired roles. Filming is set for summer 2012.