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AICN HORROR talks with THE GATE/I, MADMAN director Tibor Takacs about his new film SPIDERS 3D! Plus a review of the film!

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Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I had the pleasure of talking with director Tibor Takacs a while back about his new film SPIDERS 3D. The director helmed a couple of my favorite films as a kid, namely THE GATE and I, MADMAN, both classics in my book. SPIDERS 3D is going to be showing in 3D at the Philip K. Dick Sci-Fi Film Festival this Friday December 7th at the the Indie Screen Theater in Brooklyn, NY. Here’s what Tibor had to say about it all…

BUG: Hi, Tibor. How are you doing today?

TIBOR TAKACS (TT): Pretty good. I heard that you saw the film only in 2D!

BUG: I did.

TT: I’m a bit disappointed.

BUG: Well, maybe one of these days I will get a 3D television, but I just can’t afford it right now, so I had to see it in 2D. Tell me about how you came to start working on this film, SPIDERS 3D.

TT: Well it started out with a couple of years ago…I’ve always been a big fan of 3D and a lot of software starts to become available…it’s all very democratic nowadays where there’s a lot of stuff off the shelf that will give you pretty amazing results and it got to a point about two years ago when I said “Hey man, we could do one of our movies”, we typically do sci-fi movies, but with a little better budget, better story in 3D without too much more of a budget. So I was very excited about that, and then kind of said, “Hey, you know what? We will think about it.” It took another six months or so before somebody said “Hey, we need a spider movie.” Then we went up and wrote something that would suit this type of venture.

BUG: Very cool, and giant spiders have had a great history in horror.

TT: Exactly. I’ve always loved spider movies and spiders are one of the only kind of earthbound monsters that I have fond feelings of. (Laughs)

BUG: So in order to make a film, do you have to have that kind of visceral connection?

TT: I think it just helps, especially with the design of the creature, because there’s a lot of idiosyncratic things that I personally wanted to see with the spider, with what would make him scary…I didn’t want it to be an earthbound spider, because spiders on earth, even when they look strange, are almost cute, you know?

BUG: (Laughs) It the big eyes, those big brown circular eyes I guess.

TT: Exactly. There was this dilemma about how big the eyes should be. Right up until the very end we were discussing how big the eyes should be, and I think we settled on something that’s about right.

BUG: So in doing something with spiders and in 3D and obviously there are a lot of digital effects going on, how did you instruct the actors to respond to that sort of thing? With some of the actors, they’ve been in a lot of films with special effects.

TT: That was partly how we chose the actors. I wanted to work with people that I had worked with in the past. I didn’t want any sort of learning curve; I just wanted to get right down to it, because we have a very tight schedule and extremely ambitious and I would really be expecting a lot from everyone. If my attention is divided on a movie like this…there’s a lot going on, and trying to shoot it in the amount of time that we had, and I needed people I could really rely on and people who would take it seriously. I believe in being nostalgic without being campy and wanted people who could understand that and people who lent themselves to that sort of thing. It’s not easy. It’s hard to capture the tone of a movie like this. Try to bring it up to date, but also have a nod to the nostalgia of it all, you know?

BUG: Sure. Was there ever a time when you wanted to use practical effects?

TT: I always think that spiders don’t necessarily lend themselves to the practical, because they are such an interesting design by nature that gravity…I’ve played around with spiders before trying to do some stuff, and even though that was a much parodic film, ICE SPIDERS, I learned a few things from that, just trying to move a spider and his legs and his weight and the weight of the mechanism that would be involved in that. It’s a gravity thing, so it ends up being a gravity question and plus “what kind of budget do we have to build something?” Then “How big would it be? How much could we use it?” I wanted the spiders to be really big, that was one of the things. We’ve seen small spiders scaring people. So “let’s start with a taxi cab”, basically.

BUG: I guess after a while it almost comes to the point of a rubber spider on a string. You definitely don’t want to have that effect in film.

TT: Yeah, and part of what made me want to do the spiders was the fact that to me 3D works very good in a kind of certain range of distance, like from ten feet to thirty feet when you’re on a set and when you get too wide, you kind of lose the 3D effect and then when you’re too close it’s not all that interesting, but it becomes very immersive when you’re in a room or like a cross the street.

BUG: Is this the first 3D film you’ve shot?

TT: Yes, but I’ve been a fan and a student of 3D for twenty years. I was just itching to make a 3D movie.

BUG: You’ve had such a long history in film. I remember seeing THE GATE…I think I remember seeing THE GATE in theaters, I’m that old, so coming from way back then until now, what have you learned? You’ve done quite a few films and TV work since then. Do you have an overall philosophy that you’ve had working through all of these years? You’ve seen things come and go, all of these trends and everything in horror.

TT: Yeah, I’m sort of a guy that…I like to do things, and I’m sure everybody says this, things that appeal to me, and that has a lot to do with the tone of a movie. Like the stuff that matters to me is stuff that lends itself to a certain tone, and that is what I’ve focused on and I like things that appeal to younger kids, but for me it’s a nostalgic thing, like when I did THE GATE, I was already into the nostalgia of childhood and whatever, just the coming of age type story and to make sure that it’s PG 13. This movie is PG 13 as well, except I think maybe the version you saw had some guy that gets shot in the head?

BUG: Yes, I believe it was.

TT: Yeah, that’s the only thing that we had to avoid showing and kind of blood or anything at that moment, when the guys were shot in the head. The PG 13 version just has that a little tighter.

BUG: Okay. Are you going to be releasing it in a more uncut version? Like maybe on DVD or BLURAY when it comes out?

TT: I think the version that you have will be the one that’s on the DVD. There’s no scene we shot that’s not in the movie.

BUG: Were there any reactions from the cast? Did they have arachnophobia or anything like that coming into this story?

TT: Yeah, I think everybody hates spiders. We never had any live spiders on set, though.

BUG: So that helped, I guess.

TT: That’s what I was saying about the selection of the actors, people that will play along and sell it and take it seriously. Some actors look down on the genre and maybe would not give it the absolute seriousness that I thought it needed, even. For the comedy to work, I think the story and the characters inside have to absolutely believe everything and they have to react naturally, you know?

BUG: Yeah. So with this one finished and you worked on ICE SPIDERS as well, do you have another spider movie in you at all?

TT: No, not for now, anyways. If there was a sequel, I would do it, but you know.

BUG: So what else do you have coming up? Are you working on anything now?

TT: Yeah, a bunch of different things. I’m sort of playing around with a slasher movie that will maybe class it up a little bit. It would be a remake of TOOL BOX MURDERS, possibly.

BUG: Cool, I love the original. That’d be great.

TT: Yeah, and I’m thinking of doing it a little more like SEVEN, have the gore in it, but have that kind of investigative type thing as opposed to just killing a bunch of people all in a row. I did enjoy the first one, the original. It left a mark on me when I saw it.

BUG: Also another film that you’ve done which left a mark on me was I, MADMAN. Looking back on that film, is there any chance of getting a Blu-Ray release?

TT: Well there was at one point talk of a Criterion version. That was a couple of years ago. I would love to see that Blu-Ray. I think eventually it probably will. The negative is really nice. If they were to retransfer it, it would be beautiful.

BUG: I hope that happens very soon. It’s a fantastic film and it was really nice to see that tie in to THE GATE. It seemed like you used the same type of special effects in those two films.

TT: I’m a big fan of stop motion, but nowadays it just takes too long to do it.

BUG: Definitely. Well, I’m a huge fan of your work and I can’t wait to see THE TOOL BOX MURDERS. Best of luck with SPIDERS 3D, too. It was a really fun film. I can’t wait to see reactions from people who actually get to see it now.

TT: Well the 3D sort of makes it…to get inside the legs of the giant spider, that’s really the fun I wanted to have.

BUG: And that stuff really hasn’t been seen before in these types of films.

TT: Too bad you saw it in 2D, but I guess you can imagine the 3D.

BUG: Sure, I have a vivid enough imagination mostly because of seeing your films.

TT: There is a 3D trailer on YouTube that if you have the blue and red glasses…

BUG: I’ll try to post that as well, so people can check it out.

TT: Yeah, that would be cool. That’s not the 3D they will see in the theater. Make sure they know that, because our 3D is really good actually. That’s one of the surprising things that at the end of the day--I was like “This 3D is right up there with all of the big Hollywood releases.”

BUG: I’m going to try to have friends go see this movie and everything. It’s a really fun film. I wish you all the best of luck with it.

TT: Well, thank you.

BUG: And thanks a lot for talking the time out to talk with me today. I really appreciate it. When can people see the film?

TT: Well, we are thinking that it’s going to be released in the spring.

BUG: Good. Well thanks so much for your time, I appreciate it. You have a great day.

TT: Thanks. Okay, bye.

BUG: Look for SPIDERS 3D at the at the Philip K. Dick Sci-Fi Film Festival, December 7th at the Indie Screen Theater in Brooklyn, NY. Below is my review of the film!

Advance Review: To be Featured at the Philip K. Dick Sci-Fi Film Festival, December 7th at the Indie Screen Theater in Brooklyn, NY and released in early 2013!

SPIDERS 3D (2012)

Directed by Tibor Takacs
Written by Joseph Farruggia & Tibor Takacs
Starring Patrick Muldoon, Christa Campbell, William Hope, Pete Lee Wilson, Jon Mack, Sydney Sweeney
Find out more about these films here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Giant monster movies seem to have been cornered in the market by the Japanese and by SyFy Channel and I can’t necessarily say that either are my cup of tea. Maybe PACIFIC RIM will change all of that, but for those of you who can’t wait until next summer for Guillermo Del Toro’s giant monster epic, I present to you SPIDERS 3D. Now, not that this film is anywhere near the projected caliber of PACIFIC RIM, but it does deliver a pretty fun time all around. It ain’t a perfect slice of cinema, but it does have one thing going for it…

Big, ugly, evil spiders!

I don’t know a person alive that doesn’t get ooked out in some way by the creepy, crawly things. I sure do. And Tibor Takacs, who brought us the novel-to-life serial killer yarn I, MADMAN and the Amblin-esque, young Stephen Dorff ,dimensional nightmare THE GATE, goes much bigger with SPIDERS 3D. Not the most groundbreaking of giant monster on a rampage films, but definitely able to capture the fun of it all.

What this film gets right are the monsters themselves. Eight legged creatures with sharp mandibles and squinty yellow eyes. Four inches or forty feet, they are ugly suckers and some of the best stuff in this film involves the tiny critters moving around in the periphery, causing chaos, ambushing rats, and sneaking up on human prey. When they grow to gigantic proportions, they are equally ugly and it is in these scenes that I see the old genius I saw at work in I, MADMAN and THE GATE come to life. Every scene with the spiders in this film is pure, uncut fun.

The problem is that the story around the whole thing is not that strong. Conflict is necessary in any story, but the conflict in this story seems to exist only to complicate things and none of it makes much sense. When a fiery comet crashes in the middle of New York City, of course everyone from the EPA to the FBI to the military is interested. Transit worker Jason (Patrick Muldoon) is especially concerned, because this makes for a backed up rush hour in NY. But traffic proves to be the least of their worries as vicious spiders begin biting and laying eggs in anyone who crosses their path. Therein lays the problem. First off, I don’t know much about spider physiology, but I think it’s the female of the species that lays eggs, but for some reason, here the males are implanting eggs in human hosts.

Even if this is the case, the actions of the military in this film are all the more baffling. Things are just kind of shuffled around as if the military knows what they have and want it for weaponization, but then they turn out to be completely unprepared for the beasts and are completely overcome and in over their head when they start rampaging through the streets. This murky motivation as to why the military would want such a thing makes the middle section somewhat hard to follow. But if the military weren’t such bumbling idiots then we wouldn’t have a rampaging monster movie, so I guess it is necessary.

Patrick Muldoon and Christa Campbell run a lot in this film holding hands and searching for their missing daughter in a one set street that is shot from different angles to accommodate for a modest budget. Their performances are decent, as is ALIENS’ William Hope as the idiotic military leader who doesn’t see the rampage coming though it’s projected from a mile away. As I said, the production is low on this one, but Takacs seems to try everything in the book to make it seem bigger than it really is. Had he chosen to go smaller, it wouldn’t be a rampaging monster movie, but I think it would have been a more effective film. As is, the seams of production’s limitations are definitely showing as the same street is used numerous times for different sets.

But dammit if the monsters aren’t fun as hell.

Go in looking for a fun little monster romp that is a few levels above your typical SyFy flick and I think you’ll have a good time with this. Though I didn’t see it in 3D, I was imagining the three dimensions as it went on and Takacs seems to do a good job with managing and manipulating depth in this one, so I’m sure the 3D is pretty impressive. Just ignore the bonehead acting and actions of the cast when the spiders aren’t on screen and you’re bound to have fun with SPIDERS 3D.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over eleven years & AICN HORROR for two. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be available on iTunes and soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK last year from Zenescope Entertainment & look for his exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81 released August-December 2012. Mark will be writing GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES to be released in February-June 2013. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.

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