Tag Archives: horror

Twisted Dreams Film Festival brings the macabre to Milwaukee

Feeling a chill down your spine even though Halloween is half a year away? It might just be the finishing touches getting placed on the Twisted Dreams Film Festival, Milwaukee’s inaugural horror film festival running at the Underground Collaborative April 8 and 9.

Milwaukee movie lovers Stephen Milek and Christopher House, founders of the blog Milwaukee Movie Talk, originally thought of the idea when they discovered that Milwaukee – which they claim has a large horror fan base – is the only major city in the state that doesn’t have a horror film festival.

“While we talk about movies of all genres on Milwaukee Movie Talk, it was clear we had a lot of horror fans,” Milek says. “When the Milwaukee Film Festival announced their films – and it felt like there wasn’t a whole lot of horror films to choose from – we decided that we wanted to do one for the horror fans.”

“Madison had its first horror film fest, (so) we decided it was time for Milwaukee to have one,” House adds. “There have been horror film fests here in the past but they have only run one year or haven’t been what we would have done. They didn’t have the indie focus and local content.”

To get started, Milek and House reached out to Ross Bigley, a Milwaukee filmmaker who has been organizing the Milwaukee Short Film Festival for nearly 20 years.

“Definitely the chat with Ross helped us realize that it was possible to do the fest. (He) has been a huge help in pointing us in the right direction,” Milek says.

“He made it sound so easy,” House says. “He convinced us it was possible when we had doubts in ourselves.”

“He did oversell the ‘easy’ part. It’s anything but,” Milek quipped.

It was easier for the two to start their blog Milwaukee Movie Talk — born of simple boredom. House says, “Steve and I worked third shift together, so there was not much to do at 4 a.m. but to talk hobbies. As it was, we both loved films.”

What began as a small Facebook group with Milek, a local pharmacist, and House, a system network tester, quickly turned into a larger group with a few added friends. Now it’s a full-fledged blog where they discuss everything film, from modern work all the way back to the silent era.

Despite the range of films the two discuss, they each have their “specialty genres.” Milek loves documentaries and short films while House has always loved horror and sci-fi.

In addition to talking about big-budget films that they’ve seen, the bloggers place an emphasis on local filmmakers.

“We realized that we didn’t know much about what was going on in Milwaukee and it turned out there was a lot,” Milek says. “We wanted to help spread the word about the great film community we have here in Milwaukee. This is another reason why we have an entire block devoted to Wisconsin filmmakers at the festival.”

As for every film festival, of course, the highlight is watching the movies. Milek and House both ended up getting more submissions than they had anticipated, forcing them to select only the best of the best for this inaugural year.

Along with an entire block of local Wisconsin shorts and features, there’s an eclectic mix of everything horror, sci-fi and over-the-top insane.

“One of the things I am most proud of is the diversity of the films,” Milek said. “While we consider ourselves a horror festival we do have something for everyone. Psychological thrillers, scary ghost stories, to straight up crazy grind house horror.”

The full line-up of films is posted on their website, but some of the highlights include the Wisconsin premiere of Dark the new film by Piranha and Gremlins director Joe Dante. The film is a psychological thriller that centers on a young woman alone inside of her apartment during the New York City blackout in 2003. As the night moves forward, she becomes increasingly mentally unstable and faces demons.

The craziest film of the festival, however, will be the 40th anniversary screening of the Troma Entertainment classic, Blood Sucking Freaks, a cult film about traveling performers who enact gruesome, sadomasochistic shows featuring torture and murder. Milek and House say that screening will include a special surprise from Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman.

Twisted Dreams will also feature appearances by three Madison-area TV horror hosts — Doctor Destruction, Deadgar Meyer and FreakShow — as well as iconic Milwaukee horror filmmaker Mark Borchardt as the opening night MC.

It’s a lot of work now, but once the festival opens Milek and House both are excited to get back to just appreciating horror films with likeminded moviegoers.

“It’s just fun to watch horror films in a dark theatre with a group of other fans,” Milek says. “It’s a great experience.”

“Horror films are also iconic,” House adds. “They will let you live vicariously through a looking glass into another world you could never imagine.”

The Twisted Dreams Film Festival runs April 8 and 9 at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets are $10 for feature films or short film blocks, with packages available. Visit twisteddreamsfilmfest.weebly.com for more details.

PETA: Turn ‘Silence of the Lambs’ house into animal museum

An animal rights group wants to convert the western Pennsylvania house used in the film “The Silence of the Lambs” into an empathy museum, where visitors could wear the skins of slain and abused animals.

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says in a release that it has written to the real estate agent handling the sale and wants to create a museum. The building was home to psychotic killer Buffalo Bill in the 1991 film.

PETA says by wearing animal skins, people would be reminded that animals also are “made of flesh, blood and bone.”

Scott and Barbara Lloyd listed the Layton home for sale last summer. It’s located about 28 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The asking price dropped from $300,000 to $250,000 earlier this month.

Book Review: ‘Ashley Bell’ is 1 of Dean Koontz’s best

Dean Koontz outdoes himself with his latest journey, which solidifies his reputation as one of the best storytellers in the book business.

Koontz’s stories get labeled as horror, but the lyrical writing and compelling characters in “Ashley Bell” aren’t commonly seen in that particular genre. Koontz stands alone, and this novel is a prime example of literary suspense if one is forced to classify.

Bibi Blair lives by herself, is engaged to a Navy SEAL and has published a novel and several short stories. One day while sitting at her computer, one side of her body starts to tingle and she realizes something is wrong. Doctors run tests and determine that she has a rare form of brain cancer. Even with chemotherapy, she has at most a year to live. She tells her doctor, “We’ll see.” That’s when the novel takes off.

Blair has a miraculous recovery, and she doesn’t understand why until a mysterious woman gives her a psychic reading, revealing that she’s lived so that she can save a woman named Ashley Bell. Who is this woman, and what does Blair need to do to save her?

Evil people want to harm Bell, and they’re determined to eliminate Blair as well. She’s cheated death once and feels that it’s her destiny to save Bell. What Blair doesn’t realize is that Bell has ties to her past, and various people she’s known might be involved in what has become a vast conspiracy.

Elements of other Koontz novels are on display, such as a prominent plot point involving a golden retriever and a diabolical villain who’s both charismatic and cruel.

How our lives are shaped by our memories and how much our childhood influences our adulthood are prominent themes of “Ashley Bell.” The major plot twist comes a bit early, and the book flirts with being too bulky. But Koontz knows what he’s doing, and the baffling story with the stellar character of Bibi Blair makes this thriller one of his best.

On the Web…


Stephen King ponders death in new 21-story ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’

Stephen King has always addressed his “Constant Readers” in prefaces or afterwords to his books. He likes to share what inspired him or what he was thinking about when he wrote it.

But with the release of “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams,” King takes it to another level. Each of the 21 works of fiction in the collection features at least a paragraph, sometimes a few pages, from the author introducing it or sharing some detail to enhance reader appreciation.

Or as he writes in an invocation to his “bazaar”: “Everything you see is handcrafted, and while I love each and every item, I’m happy to sell them because I made them especially for you. Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

The most toothsome of the bunch are “Morality,” an exploration of how far someone will go for a payday, and the longest of the lot, a 60-page tale called “Ur” that mocks today’s Kindle culture and contains more than a few veiled references to King’s beloved Dark Tower mythology.

This being King, there’s lots of death in these pages. And while there’s a smattering of the supernatural — n abandoned car on the Maine turnpike whose grill does more than catch bugs — there are also quite a few mediations on mortality. “Afterlife” tells the story of a man who dies from colon cancer and gets to keep living the same life; “Obits” mocks the TMZ-ification of media, featuring a columnist who can kill people by writing their obituaries in advance; and “Under the Weather” tells the story of an adman who can convince anyone of anything, including that his wife is just like the title says.

King fans will find a few clunkers here as well, according to their taste. I personally didn’t care for the two bits of poetry in the collection. King acknowledges in one of his intros that he’s a born novelist and that even short stories are a challenging discipline for him, so why bother sharing a few scraps of verse?

All in all, though, it’s a meaty collection with interesting insights into the creative process of a writer who caused many sleepless nights. Well worth keeping on your bedside table for those evenings when, as King puts it: “… sleep is slow to come and you wonder why the closet door is open, when you know perfectly well that you shut it.”

Review: Del Toro’s ‘Crimson Peak’ casts a gothic spell

The most pressing threat in Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror “Crimson Peak” isn’t the ooze-filled cauldrons of dead souls in the basement of the old Victorian mansion, nor the plotting, black-clad sister (Jessica Chastain), who serves a bitterly poisonous tea.

It’s the ever-lurking possibility that, at any moment, the lush, ornate tapestry of Del Toro’s film might swallow its performers whole.

It would be a grand death. 

“Crimson Peak” is so lovingly wrapped in the stylish trappings of the genre that it’s one of the few movies you could say is worth it purely for the wallpaper.

It stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain — a fine trio of actors. But the film’s true above-the-title artists are more properly cinematographer Dan Laustsen, production designer Thomas Sanders and costume designer Kate Hawley, who under the lordly command of Del Toro, summon an atmosphere gaga with all things gothic.

“Crimson Peak” casts a spell that fails to hold, but it’s unquestionably the work of a man who loves — I mean, really loves — movies.

It opens with a flashback and a promise from Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) that “ghosts are real.” After the death of her mother, she (or at least a ghoulish ghostly of her) visits Edith with a frightful warning: “Beware of Crimson Peak.” It’s a message that curiously fails to impress. 

The setting is turn-of-the-century Buffalo, where Edith lives with her father Carter Cushing (an excellent Jim Beaver). She wants to be a novelist, but her manuscript (a ghost story) is condescendingly rejected, praised only for feminine “loops” of her penmanship. Advised to write a love story, she pleads that the ghosts are a metaphor for the past.

Such is the tenor of Del Toro’s fable, which he wrote with Matthew Robins. You wouldn’t mistake it for Henry James or even for Hitchcock. The exquisite set design is more heightened than the emotions; the grotesques are too beautiful to be too deep.

From England, Thomas Sharpe (the splendid Tom Hiddleston) comes to town with his mysterious sister Lucille (Chastain), in search of a grant for a contraption of his invention to mine the red clay beneath their home. Cushing, an established business man, quickly rejects Thomas, but Edith doesn’t.

The Sharpes have clearly duplicitous motives, but Edith swoons for Thomas. Just as they’re departing Buffalo, Edith’s father is killed. The scene is a beauty: in the steam and golden light of a morning bathhouse, an unseen assailant sneaks up to Carter and crushes his skull over a sink, leaving blood and water flowing from the cracked porcelain.

Edith and Thomas wed and the trio returns to the remote Sharpe family manor in England, Allerdale Hall, where the movie moves into its more sedate, predictable house-of-horrors second half. A hole in the roof pours light and autumn leaves down the center, red clay bubbles beneath the floor boards, ghosts lurk in the closets, the bath runs blood red and (horror of horrors) the kitchen could use granite counter tops. It’s a fixer upper.

The movie settles into a “Notorious”-like plot where Edith is slowly poisoned while unearthing the Sharpe family secrets.

The rich atmosphere of “Crimson Peak” never wanes, but the story does. Having summoned the gothic ghosts, Del Toro never fully unleashes them. The director’s dark fantasy masterpiece remains “Pan’s Labyrinth,” but his affection for gothic romance is infectious; hopefully he has a Dickens adaptation in him.

As even his last film, the kaiju monster movie “Pacific Rim,” proved, there may be no better conjurer of color in movies right now. His dreams, and nightmares, are in technicolor. 

Stephen King wins mystery award

Stephen King isn’t only a master of horror. He’s also a man of mystery.

King and Gillian Flynn were among the winners this week at the 69th annual Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. King’s crime story “Mr. Mercedes” received the best novel prize at the ceremony in midtown Manhattan. King has been an Edgar “Grand Master” since 2007 and his novel “Joyland” was a finalist last year for paperback original. 

Flynn, best known for her million-selling “Gone Girl,” won in the short story category for “What Do You Do?”

William Mann’s Hollywood expose “Tinseltown” won for best “Fact Crime.” J.W. Ocker won in the critical/biographical category for a book about the author for whom the Edgars are named. “Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe.”

‘Ex-Machina,’ ‘It Follows’ breathe life into stale genres

Alex Garland has learned a few things in his years as a science-fiction screenwriter: namely, that money doesn’t always help.

Garland is now making his directorial debut with the acclaimed science fiction film “Ex-Machina,” after earlier scripting the influential zombie thriller “28 Days Later” and seeing his first book, “The Beach,” turned into the Leonardo DiCaprio adventure. The 2007 Danny Boyle-directed space thriller “Sunshine,” which Garland wrote, particularly drove home the lesson.

“The thing I really felt about ‘Sunshine’ almost while we were making it, is that we were spending too much money,” says Garland. “When you’re spending that much money, either consciously or unconsciously, you start to think about recouping. You start to think about the business of film and trying to make it entertaining or trying to adrenalize it at moments when it’s the wrong thing to do.”

Garland’s “Ex-Machina,” which opens in theaters April 10, was made for $15 million, not the $50 million it took to make “Sunshine,” a philosophical journey to the sun that eventually dissolved into more of a monster movie. “Ex-Machina,” however, holds its trance throughout the tale of a young computer programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) who flies to the remote lair of a tech billionaire (Oscar Isaac), and is introduced to a very realistic artificial intelligence (Alicia Vikander).

“The one thing I do know is that I really, really want creative freedom — not just for me but the people I’m working with,” says the British writer-director. “You need to be Christopher Nolan to have creative freedom at that level. That’s what, like, two or three people in the world.”

Instead of fighting those odds, a new generation of filmmakers is breathing fresh life into the often over-commercialized genres of sci-fi and horror. A regular diet of big-budget releases have helped stagnate genre thrills by over-relying on visual-effects spectacle (“Jupiter Ascending,” “After Earth”), while mainstream horror has been overrun by gimmicky shlock (the “Paranormal Activity” series) and familiar retreads (“I, Frankenstein”).

But many of the most exciting horror and sci-fi films in recent years — “Under the Skin,” “The Babadook,” “Her,” “Upstream Color,” the “Black Mirror” miniseries — have come from independent filmmakers working with small or even skimpy budgets, who prize creative control in genres where final cut is scarce.

Janet Pierson, head of film at South By Southwest, where “Ex-Machina” premiered, has regularly programmed inventive genre fare. While she’s witnessed steadily intrepid sci-fi and horror for years, she sees a larger shift.

“What I’ve noticed is that the young people that come in here, particularly more and more of the women, their first love is genre films — which is a real change, which is something that didn’t exist before,” said Pierson. “I come from the more traditional art-house generation.” 

David Robert Mitchell, writer-director of the indie horror sensation “It Follows,” is a kind of combination genre-art house filmmaker. His first movie, “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” was his version of a teen drama that portrayed the quieter moments of adolescence, rather than the melodramatic extremes usually depicted in the genre.

“It Follows” is his stab at horror. The DVDs he pulled off his shelf in preparation make a respectable horror syllabus: “Nosferatu” (the original and the Werner Herzog version), Romero, Cronenberg, Polanski, the classic Universal monster movies, the Hammer classics, “The Shining” and many more.

“There’s a bunch of us that grew up watching what are now seen as classic horror films,” says Mitchell, a Michigan native. “That’s probably affected a lot of us to, if not update them, be inspired by them.”

Mitchell’s deep appreciation of the genre is self-evident in “It Follows,” an atmospheric suburban teenager thriller with a synthesizer score evocative of John Carpenter. “It Follows” has crossed over from art house to mainstream: it expanded last weekend to some 1,200 theaters, despite earlier plans for video-on-demand. It pulled in $4 million at the box office, about twice its budget. 

While he acknowledges “more money would definitely be helpful” and that he may later be interested in directing bigger studio films, “my intention is to kind of take my time with that,” says Mitchell. “And that’s by choice.”

“Ex-Machina” and “It Follows” both create suspense by relying on acting and atmosphere. “It Follows,” in which an unseen, unknown entity is passed like a sexually transmitted disease, works like “Jaws” or “The Evil Dead”: What we imagine is more fearful than anything a movie can physically represent. “Ex-Machina” has the distilled feel of a chamber piece: It’s all questions and mysteries to unravel, none of the fat of special effects set-pieces.

“What that stuff does is it takes the heat off characterization and themes and story,” says Garland. “What a chamber piece does is it leaves you nowhere to hide.”

Stephen King returns to true horror in ‘Revival’

Remember when Stephen King announced that he was retiring? That was more than a decade and at least six books ago, and he’s done nothing but crank out best-sellers ever since.

The latest novel — likely to be No. 1 next week — is appropriately titled “Revival,” for it marks a return to true horror for the modern master of the genre. There are no soul-sucking vampires as in “Doctor Sleep,” or speculative historical fiction about the assassination of John F. Kennedy as in “11/22/63.”

“Revival” spans half a century, but at its heart are a young boy — Jamie Morton — and a New England pastor named the Rev. Charles Jacobs who captivates him from the moment they meet in 1962.

The plot is set in motion when the good reverend starts to heal the sick using something he calls an “Electrical Nerve Stimulator.” Over the years, as he ducks in and out of narrator Jamie’s life, he learns how to harness electricity to a greater and greater degree until he’s literally ready to revive the dead.

It’s no fun spoiling all the scares, but here’s a phrase — spoken by Jacobs to Jamie early in the novel — that neatly sums it up: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And lit with electric lights.”

King fans won’t find anything to complain about here. At just over 400 pages it’s one of his quicker reads and any hint of the supernatural is blended with tender moments that ground the characters. “Home is the place where they want you to stay longer,” narrates Jamie as he returns to the Maine town where his doomed relationship with Jacobs began. If this is your first King novel, it’s not a bad choice. You don’t need to know anything about his oeuvre coming in, and if you like the writing style, there are dozens of other King books you’ll probably enjoy.

On the Web



‘Carrie’ throws a blood-red light on bullying’s horrors

Whether in reference to Stephen King’s 1974 novel or either of the two film versions, the name “Carrie” instantly conjures images of a homely high school outcast covered in pig’s blood terrorizing her tormentors with telekinetic powers. Soon fans will be able to add singing and dancing to that visceral image.

Theatre Unchained’s production of Carrie: The Musical opens Oct. 10, just in time for the Halloween season’s horror binge. But the musical also offers a strong anti-bullying message, according to director Thomas Jacobsen.

“Bullying is a serious issue that, as uncomfortable as it is to discuss, demands our attention,” he says. “I think that is why Carrieis such a chilling piece of literature.”

In the play, Carrie White (Anna Pfefferkorn) is the only daughter of an abandoned mother (Liz Norton), whose fundamentalist fervor has flowered into full-blown psychosis. Her high school classmates endlessly abuse Carrie. When she experiences her first period in the shower after gym, the abuse ratchets to a fever pitch. At the story’s climax, she’s mockingly crowned as prom queen, then bathed in blood poured from the gym rafters.

Unfortunately for the bullies, Carrie has destructive telekinetic powers. With a few blinks of the eye, she conjures the ultimate revenge.

“You look at Carrie and see someone that could’ve been you, and that connection stimulates a lot of the terror in this piece,” Jacobsen says. “In lieu of horror fiction that attempts to scare audiences with shock and gore, this Halloween season we are hoping to haunt audiences with something far more harrowing — a story that reflects the realistic horror of bullying.”

That’s not to say Carrie: The Musical doesn’t provide some fun along the way to making its points, including a pop score by composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford, who are best known for their collaboration on the musical Fame. Lawrence D. Cohen, who adapted King’s novel for the 1976 Brian DePalma film starring Sissy Spacek, wrote the show’s libretto. 

Despite its artistic pedigree, the original 1988 version of the musical opened to bad reviews and a very short run. The show was reimagined, and a new version opened in 2012 to a much better response, Jacobsen says.

“The 2012 version maintains some of the material from the (original) show, but it has also seen a number of improvements, including new songs and re-worked scenes that improve the show and make it more accessible to modern-day audiences,” the director says. “Furthermore, much of the camp humor that made the show infamous was removed from the book.”

The music runs the gamut from rock opera to pop ballads, depending upon whether Carrie is confronting her high school tormentors or her mother, who torments Carrie in a different way.

“Carrie is a more realistic portrayal of horror than Sweeney Todd, which obscures some of its darker elements with humor,” Jacobsen says.

Carrie’s telekinetic powers will be on full display in Theatre Unchained’s production, complete with books opening, chairs moving and doors slamming shut.

“The prom scene will also incorporate a variety of effects, including moving objects, sparks and dry ice,” says Jacobsen. “Making these special effects appear realistic onstage is a challenge, but one that we are excited to undertake.”

There also is, of course, the blood, and lots of it. Unlike the recent touring production of Evil Dead: The Musical, which played in Madison in September, there is no “splatter zone” to enable audience members to share viscerally in the production. Jacobsen plans to keep his audiences clean while fully saturating his actors.

“After quite a bit of research, the production team decided to move forward with making our own stage blood in two different varieties,” Jacobsen says. “As an homage to the 1976 film, we will be dumping a gallon of blood on Carrie each night, using the original formula of corn syrup and red food dye.”

The crew has concocted a washable mixture of laundry detergent and red children’s paint to use on costumes the director can’t afford to permanently stain. And, the director says, the bloodletting will be blocked so no audience members take home unwanted red souvenirs.

The musical stays surprisingly close to the book rather than the film versions, with some obvious exceptions. Onstage, Carrie doesn’t set the town on fire and cause stones to rain down from the sky. The play’s close association with the novel is what Jacobsen likes most about the show.

“As a Stephen King fan myself, I have taken most of my inspiration for characters and costumes from the original novel, as opposed to the films,” he says. “There is a reason the novel is considered a horror classic, and I wanted to use it as a reference point to stage the best show possible.”

On Stage

Theatre Unchained’s production of Carrie: The Musical runs Oct. 10–26 at 1024 S. Fifth St., Milwaukee. For more information, visit theatreunchained.com or call 414-391-7145.

‘Sharknado 2’ a hilarious must-see treat

Don’t worry about me. The Sharknado Evacuation map supplied by Syfy network places me, as a resident of Lower Manhattan, smack in the zone most in peril this sharknado season. But I’ll be ready.

You might as well batten down the hatches, too. “Sharknado 2: The Second One” (which, if you hadn’t guessed, is an encore follow-up sequel to last summer’s campy classic) premieres Wednesday (9 p.m. EDT).

The original “Sharknado” depicted a weather aberration on the Southern California coast that caused bloodthirsty sharks to rain on hapless Angelenos. But hunky beach-bar owner Fin Shepard (get it: fin shepherd?!) saved the day with a makeshift shark explosion.

Now he’s back. Again played by “Beverly Hills, 90210” alum Ian Ziering, Fin, in the aftermath of his sharknado trauma, is heading to New York City for a quiet visit along with his beloved ex, April (the returning Tara Reid). It won’t surprise you to learn that an even bigger, badder sharknado siege awaits him.

That’s the bad news. The good news: “Sharknado 2” is a hilarious must-see treat.

The original film erupted as a social-media and pop-culture phenomenon, mostly celebrated for its unwitting awfulness. It was a throwback to drive-in movies of 50 years ago that you would have ignored while you and your date put your attention elsewhere. A would-be blend of “Jaws” and “Baywatch,” it was funny, but never seemed to be in on the joke.

Against all odds, “Sharknado 2” has wised up. Though it and its performers teem with conviction — no winking at the audience here _ the film is unabashedly awash with fun. And unlike laid-back Cali, New York — always spoiling for a fight — is the perfect arena for dramatic strife, even from killer sharks cascading from the sky.

In fact, “Sharknado 2” serves as a paean to the Big Apple. Veteran comedian Robert Klein (playing the mayor of New York in one of the film’s numerous celebrity cameos) delivers a rousing call-to-arms for all New Yorkers: “When something bites us, we bite back!” Hizzoner said a mouthful!

Adding to the merriment are the many New York locations. Director Anthony C. Ferrante (back again for the sequel, as is screenwriter Thunder Levin) proves himself as a guerrilla filmmaker, capturing the city up-close-and-personal yet with a remarkably sleek touch. It’s a fine-looking film, despite a budget (Ferrante hints) somewhere between $1 million and $2 million and a shooting schedule (he swears) of just 18 days.

“I had only been to New York a few times,” Ferrante, who grew up in Northern California, said recently, “and getting to come here and shoot at all these landmarks, I was like a kid in a candy store. When they told me, ‘You only get Times Square for two hours, and with only a crew of eight,’ I said, ‘OK, let’s do it!’ We shot the whole ferry scene in 15 minutes on the ride back from Liberty Island.

“We needed to do the subway scene, and got a meeting with the MTA. They didn’t know what a sharknado is, but we made our case. They said, ‘We’re gonna give you the platform at Citi Field and a functioning (subway) car for three hours.’ And the Mets gave us a 12-hour day at Citi Field. I’m from L.A., but I want the Mets to win the World Series this year. They did me a solid!”

The subway and Citi Field sequences are riotous, and, among the many star turns, “Today” personalities Matt Lauer and Al Roker do some of the best work of their lives providing poker-faced coverage of the raging disaster.

But the film will sink its teeth into you from its first moments as you join Fin and April on their terrifying airline flight. Fasten your seatbelt for a wicked homage. This “Sharknado” is the very definition of scared silly.

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