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Manhunt Flips The Formula

By Gary Wien




This article was originally designed to be read in the October 2014 issue of
New Jersey Stage magazine. To read it in its original format, click here




When you think of horror films, chances are you imagine teenagers in peril. That's the classic formula but not what you'll find in Manhunt. In the upcoming horror flick from Jay Lee (Zombie Strippers!), we see what happens when a couple of guys who know how to take care of themselves wind up in a worst case scenario while on vacation with their lifelong pals. We're talking the ultimate wrestler versus psycho killer mountain man smack down!

Here's how the story is described on the film's website: For three years Buck Severs, World Wrestling Champion, has been M.I.A. After a family tragedy and a major injury in the ring, Buck decides to return to "Bro's Weekend" with his three best friends and try to put some perspective on his life. But Buck learns a little too late that the weekend will take place on a wildlife preserve, closed for 40 years, a vast, densely forested no-man's land of no laws, no rangers, and no rules. He will also find out a little too late that on the preserve lives a wild man, a feral and inbred killer whose one pleasure is to hunt the humans that dare to trespass onto his domain. It will be up to Buck to find the fighter within himself if he is to survive the weekend.

Ed McKeever, one of the producers of the film reached out to New Jersey Stage and said they were trying to get to the next level and do something different by shooting a kind of badass horror movie with bikers, deranged mountain men, great fight scenes, and a good story line. We said, "You had me at badass."

"It's fine to have the teenager in peril and the young girl, but we want to see some guys out there that can kick ass," said McKeever. "And it's known from the beginning that they can kick ass. That's the difference with this film, you know these guys can handle themselves. It means the killer has to become that much more scary because he's not going after teenage kids. The real incubus is what would happen if a bunch of guys who could handle themselves wind up fighting Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers."

McKeever is a Jersey guy who has produced several low budget horror films, including some shot in the Pine Barrens and Atlantic City areas. His role as producer involves connecting people and finding all of the different pieces of the puzzle. One of the biggest pieces is finding investors and finding the people that can help facilitate making the project "sexy" for investors. This means bringing on good actors, directors, the works. In this case, he's already got a director with a well known name in the business. Jay Lee's first feature, Noon Blue Apples, was an official selection of the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and his next release, The Slaughter, won a dozen awards on the festival circuit and was picked up by Lionsgate for distribution. His career continued to rise with the release of Zombie Strippers!

"We're going for broke with this," said McKeever. "We're not getting any younger. We're not that old, but we don't have that newness appeal anymore. We're all kind of established in our work life and the movies have always taken a back seat while we worked out our professional careers. Now it's time to go for the jugular. We want this movie to be over the top, fights, blowing up cars, destroying cabins - we want to make a movie that stands out! Jason Lee's name being associated with it will really help us with the distribution of the movie. We're hoping this is our foray into a bigger type of film, to catapult us to the next level, which would be shooting million dollar features."

McKeever draws on the classic horror films he saw as a kid for inspiration. Three films instantly pop out for him, The Exorcist, The Shining, and Jaws. "The Exorcist is a great film because of the way it was shot, it's just scary. The Shining was another beautifully shot film. And, to me, Jaws is the ultimate horror picture. It's got everything - comedy, drama, and what you absolutely need, an unbelievable protagonist!"



For more by this author, click here






UCPAC Presents Three Classic 80s Films on 35mm Film
 (RAHWAY, NJ) -- A series of three classic films is being presented on 35mm film at Union County Performing Arts Center’s Main Stage theater. All viewings cost a $5 admission ticket that includes a 30 minute pre-show on the theater’s historic "Biggest Little Wurlitzer" organ and free popcorn along with the film screening. The films include The Breakfast Club (January 25), Pretty Woman (February 15), and The Karate Kid (March 8).
Hopewell Theater Hosts Special Valentine's Screening of "Casablanca" With Supper
(HOPEWELL, NJ) -- Hopewell Theater will host a special “date night” celebration of Valentine’s Day with a screening of the classic romance film Casablanca paired with an optional Moroccan supper on Valentine's Day, Thursday, February 14. An undisputed masterpiece and perhaps Hollywood's quintessential statement on love and romance, Casablanca has only improved with age, boasting career-defining performances from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies, presents the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 which marks the festival's 37th Anniversary.  The Festival will take place between January 25 and March 1, 2019. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, experimental and short subjects, classic revivals, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 will feature over 35 film screenings. 
NJPAC Presents Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert With The NJSO
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns to New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert, on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. See the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform the magical score live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.


REVIEW: "If Beale Street Could Talk"
Outside of cinephile circles, filmmaker Barry Jenkins is perhaps best known for his role in arguably the greatest debacle in the history of the Academy Awards. On February 26th, 2017, La La Land was mistakenly announced as the Best Picture winner, only for it then to be revealed that Jenkins’ Moonlight was the actual winner.
New Jersey Film Festival: Spring 2019 - First 2 Weeks Preview
The New Jersey Film Festival - Spring 2019 takes place between January 25 and March 1, 2019 on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, experimental and short subjects, classic revivals, and cutting-edge documentaries, the festival features over 35 film screenings. Here is a preview of the first two weeks of the festival. For the full schedule visit www.njfilmfest.com
REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help view the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.
REVIEW: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
For better or worse (worse in this writer’s eyes), the success of the Harry Potter franchise is largely responsible for the current Hollywood landscape of endless sequels, prequels and that awful phrase “universe building.” The Potter films showed Hollywood that it was a far safer financial model to hook audiences into returning for instalments of an ongoing series rather than taking a punt on the unknown quantity of original properties.
REVIEW: "Shoplifters"
Earlier this year, writer/director extraordinaire Hirokazu Kore-eda surprised us with The Third Murder, a legal thriller that made for a stark departure from the sentimental family dramas he’s become known for. With his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, Kore-eda is back on familiar ground, but this particular family drama shares much in common with The Third Murder. With his thriller, Kore-eda deconstructed the genre, forcing us to question how willingly we place our trust in a storyteller. Similarly, Shoplifters sees Kore-eda lull his audience into a false sense of security, making us develop a warmth and affection towards people who may not warrant such empathy.






Event calendar
Sunday, Jan 20, 2019


MUSIC

The Brook Orchestra presents Fire & Ice @ Brook Arts Center, Bound Brook - 3:00pm

Bay Atlantic Symphony: Mozart & Verdi @ Stockton Performing Arts Center (StocktonPAC) in Galloway, Galloway - 2:00pm

Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes @ Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme, Succasunna - 4:00pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 2:00pm

Auditions: Born Yesterday @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 6:30pm







KIDS

American Girl Live @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 1:00pm


MISC

WWE Superstar Braun Strowman @ iPlay America, Freehold - 11:00am

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