Director Larry Blamire, the man behind 2002’s cult fave THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA, gave Fango the exclusive lowdown on his in-the-can follow-up, the Chanceuse Production TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD. An indirect sequel to CADAVRA, FOREHEAD, like its predecessor, pays homage to the low-budget genre films of the 1950s, and is presented by none other than stop-motion icon Ray Harryhausen.
Shot during summer 2005 in and around Los Angeles, TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD is about “a small town that is invaded by crawling foreheads that begin taking over folks’ bodies,” Blamire tells Fango. “Meanwhile, a scientist who is trying to prove that the forehead is the seat of human knowledge gets her colleague to act as a guinea pig, and injects him with ‘foreheadazine.’ So his head starts to become one large forehead!”
Blamire, who wrote, directed and stars continues, “[Sony VP of acquisitions] Mike Schlesinger calls it INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS as directed by Douglas Sirk! I’ve also heard it referred to as a ‘What if Disney made a sci-fi/horror film in 1962?’ film, and there are probably echoes of FIEND WITHOUT A FACE and others.”
While CADAVRA embraced old-style black-and-white, Blamire chose to film in color this time around, and says, “We deliberately emulated the early 1960s Technicolor scope look.” Shooting in the “miracle of Crania-scope,” cinematographer Kevin F. Jones returns from CADAVRA, with Lauren Taylor Swift serving as executive producer. “I always saw this story in color,” explains the director. “The characters have an almost comic-book feel—in fact, very few ever change costume, à la comic book/strip characters.”
As for Harryhausen’s involvement, Blamire reveals, “Well, maybe spiritual advisor is a good way to put it. Ray’s one of my heroes, and besides the obvious connection—‘Ray Harryhausen Presents’ helping to keep the magic of stop-motion alive and thriving, a goal I heartily embrace in this and other projects—we share a desire to make monster movies accessible to kids again. At some point they sort of became excluded, and that’s too bad. Fantasy can really spark a child’s imagination—even in a comedy like this. Not that this is simply a kids’ movie by any means. We’re constantly surprised, and pleased, at how kids and adults both enjoy LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA on entirely different levels,” and he has the same hopes for FOREHEAD.
Also on board the new movie is Arnold Kunert, producer of the documentary RAY HARRYHAUSEN: THE EARLY YEARS. “Arnold has been very involved,” Blamire says, “and we’re proud to say this is the first feature under the ‘Ray Harryhausen’ banner. They’ve got some exciting stuff in the works, by the way!”
The cast also includes returning CADAVRA thespians Susan McConnell, Fay Masterson, Andrew Parks (as the unfortunate test subject), Brian Howe, Dan Conroy, Robert Deveau and Jennifer (CADAVRA’s “Animala”) Blaire as “Droxy” (pictured below). Genre vets Daniel (THE DEVIL’S REJECTS) Roebuck, James (POLTERGEIST) Karen, Dick (DEMON KNIGHT) Miller and screen legend Kevin McCarthy (1956’s INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS) round out the troupe. “The idea was to see this ensemble in completely different roles,” Blamire notes. “I love working with the same group of actors; it doesn't get better than collaborating with friends! The scope of FOREHEAD is quite a bit larger, though, and it was good fun filling out the cast with folks I hadn’t worked with.”
Providing the FX for FOREHEAD were the Chiodo Bros., previously responsible for the CRITTERS series’ titular aliens and the creators of KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE. “Stephen, Ed and Charlie Chiodo have been great,” Blamire says, “so gung-ho, ready to jump in on a limited budget, largely because of the type of material, but especially our mutual love of stop-motion.” While the filmmaker adds that FOREHEAD isn’t particularly FX-heavy, the Chiodos certainly didn’t lack for things to do. “Their work falls into two fronts,” he reveals. “Makeup prosthetics for our ever-changing scientist, and the crawling foreheads themselves (pictured below). The amount of stop-motion is limited by time and budget, but the magic it adds is icing on the cake, managing to be both creepy and funny.”
With TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD gearing up to make the festival rounds, Blamire concludes, “I hope seeing this film makes people want to know more about our foreheads. I hope people really learn about their own forehead and what it can do. What it means to have a forehead and how that privilege should never be abused…or taken for granted.” For an interview with Harryhausen, see FANGORIA #252 (now on sale).