Comic-Con ’07: Dark Castle’s Joel Silver

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Lives updates from the Haunted Hill, Moonlight panel

In 1999, power producer Joel Silver constructed a new horror haven known as Dark Castle Entertainment, an outlet through which the works of master showman William Castle would be re-imagined. The grim and perverse spookshow House on Haunted Hill marked the company’s debut; this was followed by an eclectic blend of remakes (Thi13en Ghosts, House of Wax) and originals (Ghost Ship, The Reaping). Yes, Silver and co. have strayed from their mission statement, but they haven’t lost site of their attempts to deliver slick, often grotesque, entertainment suitable for any Halloween party.

This year Dark Castle is looking to the direct-to-DVD market to scare the shit out of you with Return to House on Haunted Hill (debuting on October 16th).

Here are the highlights from Silver’s Dark Castle presentation featuring “Haunted Hill” director Victor Garcia and stars Cerina Vincent, Amanda Righetti and Jeffrey Combs. (Below are excerpts about Silver’s upcoming vamp television series “Moonlight.”)

– Trailer: Garcia has maintained the visual style established by William Malone back in ’99. More flashy cuts, more pale ghosts – this time “you choose how the characters live and die.” Mostly a promo piece, less about giving insight to the story.

– Silver was inspired by something at the World’s Fair where you would watch a film that would allow audiences to choose where the film would twist and turn. He was disappointed the movie would always end the same way – for “Haunted Hill” he wanted to create “navigational cinema” that would lead to 96 different conclusions.

– Combs: Admits to being confused to the “branching” technique while they were shooting in Bulgaria. Shooting alternative takes was difficult, but he was excited about the notion of varying narratives.

– Silver: Sees no reason to make sequels to the Dark Castle films, but the DTV market was wide open to experiment.

– Righetti plays the sister of the Ali Larter character, Sarah – survivor of the first film.

– Combs: Sequel stays true to the style of the first film. The essence is the same.

– Silver: Branching works on HD, however, a fixed movie will be available.

– Silver: Isn’t sure if they’re going to make sequels to the other Dark Castle films. The company is focusing on Whiteout and a new Guy Ritchie film.

– Garcia: Script started at about 90-pages then grew to 130 when they began to explore the branching storylines.

– Continuity was a bitch to maintain while shooting for all of the obvious reasons.

– Combs: Returns as Dr. Vannacutt, was thrilled to be asked to come back. On Vannacutt, he says, “He’s up to his same old tricks and I’m a presence everybody talks about.”

– Righetti: Plays Ariel Wolfe who gets a copy of Vannacutt’s journal. Paladino kidnaps her to get the journal and gets her into the house.

– Vincent: Plays Michelle, a college student who “has an attitude and a secret. I’m not very nice.”

From “Moonlight” panel with Joel Silver, actor Alex O’Loughlin, Sophia Myles, Jason Dohring and Shannyn Sossamon…

– Trailer: Goofy little piece that finds O’Loughlin’s vamp in a Q & A. The jist: He plays a vamp P.I. who was turned by his wife.

– Silver: This is different from “Forever Knight.” It’s a world where vamps live among us; and there’s an interesting dynamic that stems from all of the characters because of this.

– Dohring: Plays the oldest vampire on the show so far. “I get to work with beautiful women, what more can I ask for?”

– Silver: Shannyn’s character is “not a good person and haven’t been in a long time.” They’re in the middle of shooting the first episode and wanted to gauge the reaction at Comic-Con.

– Silver: People are digging on original television (“Lost,” “Heroes”) and thinks this offers audiences something involving and cool.

– O’Loughlin, on how this is different from other vampire offerings: “It’s a well-balanced show with romance and action. The scripts keep delivering. How it’s different from ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ is we don’t deal with demons and trolls and stuff. We’re dealing with vampires based in realism. The rules are the same, there are few things that have changed…”

– O’Loughlin: “I think the show is full of heart.” Read the original pilot script and felt every character was, “full, balanced and sophisticated. There’s no cheese that I can see. The drama and the stories are all balanced in the drama of our lives, the fear and the struggle. ”

– O’Loughlin plays a guys who was bitten on his wedding night by his newfound bride, he’s pretty pissed at first, but learns about and accepts the gift he’s been given to help people.

Source: Ryan Rotten