Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Premiere! Bone Tomahawk

It was back to Hollywood last night for some Happy Hour at Boardner's, much better deals than Pig & Whistle, for the west coast premiere of Bone Tomahawk! I've been pumped for this flick since first hearing about it, I mean come on, a gothic western with cannibals starring Kurt Russell?! The screening officially sold out and the packed audience included no less than Clu Gulugar, Sid Haig, Martin Kove and Quentin Tarantino! #ActionMovieBro David J. Moore was in the house, his action movie opus The Good, the Tough and the Deadly hits shelves this February, featuring a couple of things by yours truly, so be on the look out for that and for accompanying screenings and signings. Beyond Fest maestros Grant, Christian and crew kicked things off in ridiculously awesome fashion as usual, shooting and winging tee shirts into the crowd along with DVD's.

Bone Tomahawk takes place around the turn of the century in the quiet town of Brighton Hope, population 200 and something. A couple of rustlers run afoul of a tribe of savage cannibals dubbed troglodytes who kidnap Samantha (Lili Simmons), the wife of local cowboy with a broken leg Arthur (Patrick Wilson). Along with Sheriff Franklin Hunt (KURT RUSSELL), his old timer deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins) and cold blooded dandy Brooder (Matthew Fox), the quartet sets out to rescue Samantha. What follows is a beautiful, funny, brutal and gorily violent adventure that had the audience laughing, cheering and cringing throughout. Written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, the first time director makes good use of his deep cast, wild west setting and hardcore if not over the top violence. It kind of reminded you of The 13th Warrior, the vikings, men on a mission flick as it was an odyssey to battle a strange and unforgiving enemy. But as a western. The dialog has a certain panache and tilt to it and the actors all deliver their lines in their own special ways. You had hot head Arthur, overly calm and deadly Brooder, funny/dumb/crazy Chicory and Hunt right in the middle. There aren't any huge gun fights or horse chase sequences but Zahler makes effective and shocking use of violence throughout. Beyond the poster names, familiar faces like Sid Haig, David Arquette, Michael Pare and Sean Young pop up briefly.

After the film, Zahler was joined by actors Matthew Fox and Lili Simmons for a podcast interview with Jeff Goldsmith from The Q&A:

- Zahler went to NYU, is a huge heavy metal fan, wrote fanzines, worked full time as a caterer then started writing. Can finish a script in 30 days, a novel in 45 or so. Has had 22 scripts optioned but only one produced by a random international consortium.
- Simmons started off at Disney, landed an agent through her manager. Currently wrapping up series Banshee.
- Matthew Fox grew up in Wyoming with no TV until his teens, encouraged to read a lot of fiction by his father and graduated with an Economics degree before booking commercials and acting jobs.
- After so many projects optioned but never produced, Zahler wrote Bone with an eye to direct and get something made. Friend and partner Dallas Sonnier secured financing.
- Small movie, under $5 million to make it. At one point $1.8 million was mentioned, phew!
- Kurt Russell was attached from the beginning and stuck with it for two and a half years. Zahler describes him as having the energy of 5-10 Kurt's.
- Fox loved working with Russell and Jenkins, described them both as easy going guys, excited to be making movies, down to earth and totally supportive.
- Fox grew up riding horses and had a crazy mare to work with but ended up taming the creature.
- Film shot for 21 days, partially in upstate New York.
- Not much music in film, didn't want to use it as a crutch.
- Inspired by R. Rider Haggard and books like King Solomon's Mines as well as micro-budget horror films. Wanted to create his own race and gave them a distinct look and feel.
- Original script was 128 pages and basically shot all of it. Miraculously never fell behind.
- Fox doesn't choose roles based on anything much more than the material presented. Studied photos of people from the era, impressed with how they carried themselves and used it in film.
- Zahler and Fox are developing a crime/mystery TV series.
- Film is going to be released uncut and unrated.

Of course much more was discussed but you can catch the full podcast when it's released. A great flick that I hope lands on a special features loaded Blu-Ray soon! Beyond Fest keeps on chugging this week with He Never Died, Men & Chicken, Too Late, Eraserhead, The Mind's Eye and The Phantom of the Opera among others with guests like Henry Rollins, John Hawkes, Bernard Rose and more scheduled to attend. We'll be back for Dog Day Afternoon followed by a chat with Al Pacino!

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