Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SDCC 2012: Panels Part 1: American Mary

I actually went to more than one panel this year! Amazing! The first panel I went to was for an indie horror film called American Mary by Jen and Sylvia Soska. The film is about a med school student (played by Katharine Isabelle) who drops out of school to perform illegal body modification procedures. I assume blood and gore ensues. Not only does the plot sound awesome and unlike anything I've ever seen before, but Katharine Isabelle is one of my all time favorite horror actresses because of her role as Ginger Fitzgerald in Ginger Snaps. Anyway, I was introduced to the Soska sisters and their last film, an homage to grindhouse films called Dead Hooker in a Trunk, from posts from Women in Horror Recognition Month this past February. I've been following their blog for some time, so I knew I had to go to this panel come hell or high water.

I arrived early and saw Jen and Sylvia chatting and taking pictures with people outside the ballroom. When I saw an opening, I went up to them and told them how excited I was for their new film and how much I enjoyed their blog. They both hugged me and were friendly and sweet. They seemed just excited to see me as I was to see them. The panel consisted of Jen and Sylvia Soska, FX master Todd Masters, actress Paula Linderberg, and Beth Accomando as the moderator. I loved hearing about how they got started in film and how their film school essentially failed them but didn't stop them from making a kickass, self funded, and offensive final project.

American Mary official trailer:

American Mary sounds like an amazing project. After finding out it was about underground body modification, I was concerned about how the people in that community would be portrayed since it is within a horror film. I was happy and impressed to learn that a lot of research and care went into that aspect of the film. The inspiration came from Sylvia searching weird things on the internet and finding this story about twin brothers who modified their bodies drastically. In the film, Mary finds the body modification seekers to be more normal and nice than the so called normal people in the legal medical field. The Soska sisters are using this as an allegory for their own experiences in the film industry. A lot of people from the body mod community are included in their film, which I think is a great way to get the support of the community they are portraying in their film and show it accurately. I had heard of body modification, but I had no idea it was illegal to perform. I personally think it's ridiculous since "normal" plastic surgery to look younger or conventionally prettier is fine in the view of society as a whole, but to get horns or attach your brother's arm to your chest isn't. Body mod enthusiasts are forced to pay medical students to perform these surgeries instead of actual medical professionals. I'm excited to see how these two different types of modification will be compared and treated within the film.

American Mary teaser trailer:

The other 2 things that I'm excited for in the film are Todd Masters effects and how their cinematic influences effect the look and feel of the film. Jen and Sylvia are all for practical and make-up effects over CGI. Ginger Snaps is a perfect example how a film can keep its longevity and look amazing with make-up effects. CGI would have severely dated the film and made it look horrible. Todd Masters is a great make-up and effects artists with projects such as True Blood, Slither, Fido, and Six Feet Under. I am so excited to see the effects in the film, especially the body for the over the top revenge scene they mentioned. The cinematic influences for American Mary are European and Asian horror films, which just delights me to no end. The look will be completely different from Dead Hooker in a Trunk. I LOVE European and Asian horror because they are allowed to go places and do things that American films can't because of our society or the MPAA or any number of reasons. Their cinematography is also very different. Even if the subject matter is gory or disgusting, the cinematography can be absolutely beautiful, like in Let the Right One In, I Saw the Devil, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (please go out and watch these films if you haven't). Horror doesn't have to look brutal and raw even if the images are.

I can gush about this panel all day, so I think I will stop myself. After the panel, I was first in line to see them at their booth and got an American Mary poster and a picture of Jen and Sylvia as the twins from the Shining signed. We nerded out about Asian and European horror longer then probably was polite to the people behind me. I cannot wait to see this film and I hope it runs in theaters in LA so I can actually watch on the big screen.

Here is the panel in its entirety, which is well worth an hour of your time.

More panels tomorrow!

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