Writer-Director Lenny Schwartz and Actress Sheri Lee Discuss “The Haunted and the Hunted” (2022): An Interview

By Andrew Buckner

ANDREW BUCKNER: I have the distinct pleasure today of speaking with writer-director Lenny Schwartz and actress Sheri Lee. Welcome! Can you tell us a little about yourselves?

LENNY SCHWARTZ: I was born on the streets of Cranston, RI. For me, writing came at a time when I was considering joining a gang. I was a reckless, angry youth. One day after a family drive by, I started writing plays. That led into screenplays, and here we are! In all seriousness, I am just a lucky guy who has written a lot of plays. I am fortunate enough to be able to still do them. I am lucky to have written numerous screenplays and lucky to have them produced. Now I want to take all of that, and direct my first major feature film, which is something that I have never tried before.

SHERI LEE: I’m a NH based actress (and a mom of 4!) that loves all genres, but I excel in horror. I grew up on some of the greatest horror films. I’ve been dubbed New England’s scream Queen by a few directors now, haha! I’m ecstatic to be a part of Lenny’s film and always wake up feeling honored that he reached out to me that day.

LENNY: My god, it was four years ago I reached out to Sheri. I knew she was a “Scream Queen” and I wanted to deconstruct that.

Lenny, you are currently working on a script for a film you are set to direct, The Haunted and the Hunted (2022). What inspired this work?

LENNY: I always wanted to direct a feature that was unlike anything I had seen. I gave myself some parameters and huge obstacles to put myself into a really hard corner. I kept boiling the film down to essentials, and even took some of those away.

I also wanted to direct a film that was really unexpected for people who know me. I wrote plays which have a lot of dialogue. I didn’t want that. I wanted to take this to a place that is a purely cinematic experience. Something truly horrifying and beautiful.

So, what inspired me? The ambitious idea I had and the thought that this is going to be great.

Sheri, you have a role in The Haunted and the Hunted. What can you tell us about the role?

SHERI: The role in this film is seriously like no other I have taken on before. It is going to be the most challenging, the most emotional, and the most rewarding role to date. I can’t say much about her without giving some of the story away, but I can say that this character will have your attention throughout every second…. I hope I can pull that off.

Sheri, what are you doing to prepare yourself for the role?

Preparation for the role comes with really putting myself in her world. She has a lot of layers and so does the world that you’ll see in the film. Reading the script as much as I can really helps for me to dive right into the whirlwind of her beautiful chaos.

Lenny, you have a Kickstarter campaign for your upcoming film. Can you tell us about it? Also, can you please provide a link for the campaign for those of us who would like to be a part of the project?

LENNY: Yeah, we have a Kickstarter! It is at the link below. I ask that people donate or share it. If we don’t hit our goal, we will keep trying until we do. So, if you are friends with me on social media, pledge share or block me. You’re in it with us.

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Lenny and Sheri, how does The Haunted and the Hunted differ from other productions with which you’ve been involved?

LENNY: I have worked consistently with some of the best people in the business. I am very lucky and fortunate and always have been. I wouldn’t even attempt this without the lessons they imparted upon me and the friendships forged. This will be a very small production with the highest quality possible. I have no other plans to direct anything after this. This is the one.

While it does have horror elements of it, it isn’t just straight up horror. If anything, it’s a deconstruction of genres in a sense and it’s about the dissolution of the American family.

SHERI: This production differs from others mainly for the reason that I’ve been involved as a producer from the start. I love seeing the other side of productions and being a part of the growth.

The atmosphere that this film upholds is amazing and everyone will be in awe. I absolutely cannot wait to bring this to life and to entertain everyone with this extremely unique story.

Lenny, what are your plans for making the film?

LENNY: The plans for making the film will be to raise the most money possible to make the best possible film. I have also been assembling the best possible team for each aspect of this film. Only then, we will make it. But this year for sure.

Lenny, you have an interesting and unique approach to the dialogue and characters in the movie which should really help the work standout from related titles. Can you tell us about these aspects?

LENNY: I don’t want to give away too much except to say that I hear those things a lot. They are my crutches. For writers and directors and even performers, good or bad, we all have our crutches. I was interested in taking those crutches away. That’s all I can say.

Lenny, you’ve directed the brilliant and endlessly relatable political drama Vote M*********** (2020) and co-directed such terrific pictures as Comic Book Junkies (2020), which I have a speaking role in, and Far from Perfect: Life Inside a Global Pandemic (2020). How will the directorial style of The Haunted and the Hunted differ from these other ventures you’ve directed? What unique challenges will the director’s chair bring forth this time around?

LENNY: Thank you for the kind words about the other projects. I think the biggest thing for me on this one is that I will be able to be on an actual, physical set for these as all of those were filmed remotely on cell phones by the performers due to pandemic. It’s going to be nice to work physically with people! But it will be a safe set, both for creating and for the pandemic we are in.

The unique challenge is that I have a clear vision for what I want to see and then realizing it the closest I can to that vision.

Lenny, what has the process of writing the script for the movie been like so far? Do you have a routine for writing you utilize when working on the screenplay?

LENNY: It’s been weird. I finished the first draft in 2015…and now coming back to it again and again over many years has been great. I never get sick of the script and it is always on my mind.

I also reached out to my female friends a ton writing this script as there are feminist themes inherent in this script. I leaned a lot onto Sheri for that as well.

This also has the most action and tension I have ever put in a script. It’s like an anxiety attack that never lets up.

That sounds terrific. I can’t wait to see it.

Lenny and Sheri, is there anything else you would like to discuss that I haven’t asked about yet?

SHERI: I want to thank everyone that has donated so far and encourage others to do so if they can.

Don’t miss out on being part of bringing a truly unique werewolf film like this to life.

LENNY: Thank you to everyone who supported us thus far. The best is yet to come.

Thank you for your time.  I appreciate it. I also wish you all the best of luck on your project.

*The poster art featured above is the work of Mark Michaelson.

The Fifty-Five Greatest Films of the 2010s

By Andrew Buckner

The 2010s have been a terrific decade for films of all genres. Blockbusters. Award-winning dramas and critically acclaimed documentaries. Thought-provoking and spine-tingling horror films. They can all be found here in my list of the fifty-five greatest films from 2010-2019.

55. Memory: The Origins of Alien (2019)
Director: Alexandre O. Philippe.

54. Bridge of Spies (2015)
Director: Steven Spielberg.

53. Blue Valentine (2010)
Director: Derek Cianfrance.

52. Pasolini (2014)
Director: Abel Ferrara.

51. Drive (2011)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn.

50. Shame (2011)
Director: Steve McQueen.

49. Cosmopolis (2012)
Director: David Cronenberg.

48. Love (2015)
Director: Gaspar Noe.

47. Long Night in a Dead City (2017)
Director: Richard Griffin.

46. The Neon Demon (2016)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

45. Annihilation (2018)
Director: Alex Garland.

44. The Witch (2015)
Director: Robert Eggers.

43. The Babadook (2014)
Director: Jennifer Kent

42. Bodied (2017)
Director: Joseph Kahn.

41. Super 8 (2011)
Director: J.J. Abrams.

40. Ad Astra (2019)
Director: James Gray.

39. The Handmaiden (2016)
Director: Chan-wook Park.

38. The Post (2017)
Director: Steven Spielberg.

37. Crimson Peak (2015)
Director: Guillermo del Toro.

36. The Hateful Eight (2015)
Director: Quentin Tarantino.

35. Capernaum (2018)
Director: Nadine Labaki.

34. Filmworker (2017)
Director: Tony Zierra.

33. Us (2019)
Director: Jordan Peele.

32. The House That Jack Built (2018)
Director: Lars von Trier.

31. Boyhood (2014)
Director: Richard Linklater.

30. The Black Swan (2010)
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

29. The Artist (2011)
Director: Michel Hazanavicius.

28. The King’s Speech (2010)
Director: Tom Hooper.

27. Moonlight (2016)
Director: Barry Jenkins.

26. Django Unchained (2012)
Director: Quentin Tarantino.

25. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Director: Luca Guadagnino.

24. Lincoln (2012)
Director: Steven Spielberg.

23. The Image Book (2019)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard.

22. Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)
Director: Michael Moore.

21. The Master (2012)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.

20. Selma (2014)
Director: Ava DuVernay.

19. Once Upon a Time….in Hollywood (2019)
Director: Quentin Tarantino.

18. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Director: Tomas Alfredson.

17. Interstellar (2014)
Director: Christopher Nolan.

16.The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Director: Martin Scorsese.

15. mother! (2017)
Director: Darren Aronofsky.

14. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

13. They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
Director: Peter Jackson

12. Amour (2012)
Director: Michael Haneke.

11. Roma (2018)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron.

10. A Ghost Story (2017)
Director: David Lowery.

9. A Separation (2011)
Director: Asghar Farhadi.

8. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.

7. The Revenant (2015)
Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu.

6. Silence (2016)
Director: Martin Scorsese.

5. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

4. Life Itself (2014)
Director: Steve James.

3. Nightcrawler (2014)
Director: Dan Gilroy.

2. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Director: Steve McQueen.

1. The Tree of Life (2011)
Director: Terrence Malick.

Andrew Buckner’s 60 Favorite Horror Films of 2019

By Andrew Buckner

*Please note that the inclusion of all films on this list is based on an original 2019 U.S. release date.

60. Hoax
Director: Matt Allen.

59. The Furies
Director: Tony D’Aquino.

58. Between the Trees
Director: Brad Douglas.

57. Artik
Director: Tom Botchii Skowronski.

56.Winterskin
Director: Charlie Steeds.

55. The Farm
Director: Hans Stjernsward.

54. I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà vu
Director: Meir Zarchi.

53. Reborn
Director: Julian Richards.

52. Greta
Director: Neil Jordan.

51. Camp Wedding
Director: Greg Emetaz.

50. The Silence
Director: John R. Leonetti.

49. Incredible Violence
Director: G. Patrick Condon.

48. Devil’s Revenge
Director: Jared Cohn.

47. Annabelle Comes Home
Director: Gary Dauberman.

46. Blood Craft
Director: James Cullen Bressack.

45. Gwen
Director: William McGregor.

44. The Banana Splits Movie
Director: Danishka Esterhazy.

43. Pet Sematary
Directors: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer.

42. Seeds
Director: Owen Long.

41. The Hole in the Ground
Director: Lee Cronin.

40. Into the Dark: Culture Shock
Director: Gigi Saul Guerrero.

39. Nightmare Cinema
Directors: Alejandro Brugues, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Ryuhei Kitamuri, David Slade.

38. The Field Guide to Evil
Directors: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes.

37. The Night Sitter
Directors: Abiel Bruhn, John Rocco.

36. Satanic Panic
Director: Chelsea Stardust.

35. Critters Attack!
Director: Bobby Miller.

34. Crawl
Director: Alexandre Aja.

33. It Chapter 2
Director: Andy Muschietti.

32. Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark
Director: Andre Ovredal.

31. Child’s Play
Director: Lars Klevberg.

30. Belzebuth
Director: Emilio Portes.

29. Tigers Are Not Afraid
Director: Issa Lopez.

28. One Cut of the Dead
Director: Shin’ichiro Ureda.

27. Darlin’
Director: Pollyanna McIntosh.

26. The Wind
Director: Emma Tammi.

25. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Director: Stacie Passon.

24. Escape Room
Director: Adam Robitel.

23. Piercing
Director: Nicolas Pesce.

22. Ready or Not
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillet.

21. The Prodigy
Director: Nicholas McCarthy.

20. Knife+Heart
Director: Yann Gonzalez.

19. The Perfection
Director: Richard Shepard.

18. Starfish
Director: Al White.

17. Depraved
Director: Larry Fessenden.

16. The Whistler: Origins
Director: Gisberg Bermudez.

15. I Trapped the Devil
Director: Josh Lobo.

14. Hagazussa
Director: Lukas Feigelfeld.

13. Lords of Chaos
Director: Jonas Akerlund.

12. The Dead Don’t Die
Director: Jim Jarmusch.

11. Art of the Dead
Director: Rolfe Kanefsky.

10. Midsommar
Director: Ari Aster.

9. The Head Hunter
Director: Jordan Downey.

8. 3 from Hell
Director: Rob Zombie.

7. In the Tall Grass
Director: Vincenzo Natalia.

6. The Nightshifter
Director: Dennison Ramalho.

5. Velvet Buzzsaw
Director: Dan Gilroy.

4. Bliss
Director: Joe Begos.

3. Climax
Director: Gaspar Noe.

2. Luz
Director: Tilman Singer.

1. Us
Director: Jordan Peele.

AWordofDreams Presents: 31 Great Lesser Known Horror Films From 1920-2018

By Andrew Buckner

From the entertaining to the extreme, here is a list of thirty-one great lesser known horror films from 1920-2018 to make your Halloween season unforgettable.

1. At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964)
Director: Jose Mojica Marins.

2. Onibaba (1964)
Director: Kaneto Shindo.

3. Begotten (1990)
Director: E. Elias Merhige.

4. Possum (2018)
Director: Matthew Holness.

5. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Director: Georges Franju.

6. Haxan (1922)
Director: Benjamin Christensen.

7. Carnival of Souls (1962)
Director: Herk Harvey.

8. 10 Rillington Place (1971)
Director: Richard Fleischer.

9. Men Behind the Sun (1988)
Director: T.F. Mous.

10. Visions of Suffering (2006)
Director: Andrey Iskanov.

11. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2013)
Directors: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani.

12. Mark of the Devil (1970)
Director: Michael Armstrong.

13. Antichrist (2009)
Director: Lars von Trier.

14. Three…Extremes (2004)
Directors: Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park.

15. Hour of the Wolf (1968)
Director: Ingmar Bergman.

16. Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972)
Director: Bob Clark.

17. A Cat in the Brain (1990)
Director: Lucio Fulci.

18. Magic (1978)
Director: Richard Attenborough.

19. Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)
Director: Joel M. Reed.

20. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Director: Nicolas Gessner.

21. Curse of the Demon (1957)
Director: Jacques Tourner.

22. Vampyr (1932)
Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer.

23. The Old Dark House (1932)
Director: James Whale.

24. Dr. Cyclops (1940)
Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack.

25. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Director: Eugene Lourie.

26. Dead of Night (1945)
Directors: Alberto Calvacanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer.

27. I Bury the Living (1958)
Director: Albert Band.

28. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Director: Robert Wiene.

29. Brain Damage (1988)
Director: Frank Henenlotter.

30. Pieces (1982)
Director: J.P. Simon.

31. Eraserhead (1977)
Director: David Lynch.

“Alien: Reign of Man” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.

Much in line with Ridley Scott’s vastly underappreciated Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017), writer-director Justin Price’s Alien: Reign of Man (2017) is cerebral, ambitious science-fiction. Though bound by the iconic series Scott started with Alien (1979) in name only, there is a sharp focus on characterization, origin and exposition prevalent in Price and Scott’s aforesaid efforts. Such sharpens the many quiet moments of awe, planetary exploration and seamlessly woven elements of fear utilized in these endeavors. There is also a gradual and fluent pace to these presentations. Such makes each respective venture much more than a collection of routine space scares. A remarkable eye for masterfully designed shuttle interiors as well as a beautifully constructed atmosphere of impending dread also uplifts these exertions.

Yet, Price’s feature is distinctly its own endeavor. Chronicling a group of interstellar travelers who are tasked with triggering a mechanism which will bring Earth back to a time before its decline, the account is naturally intriguing. The marvelous, claustrophobic direction and pleasantly inquisitive scripting from Price make this low-budget narrative evermore engaging. This stellar handling of the material extends to the backstory of our lead, Zan (in a solid turn from co-producer Khu). Such bits are potently glimpsed in dream-like flashbacks throughout the endeavor. The inclusion of this element augments the sense of urgency and intimacy coursing through the proceedings. It also makes the wonderfully understated finale dramatically tense and satisfying. Correspondingly, this is a terrific bookend to a picture that grips audiences with its personal touch, elegiac essence, scope and inventiveness immediately. The commencing credits sequence is where this latter-addressed quality is especially evident.

This lean, effective and efficient eighty-five-minute affair, distributed through Uncork’d Entertainment, has a heavy reliance on effects. Luckily, they are largely impressive. Still, the animation of the multi-eyed entities spied in the creative cover art is questionable. Given that the viewing of these creatures is primarily reserved for a few quick moments during the opening and concluding acts, this isn’t as much of a problem as it could be.

Though the delivery of the otherwise fascinating dialogue is underwhelming at times, Price’s labor still sports solid performances all-around. Torrei Hart as Viceroy, Deanna Grace Congo as Constance and Cameron White as Reed provide solid proof of such a statement with their robust enactments. This is even if Price doesn’t focus on what drives them from a human level as much as he does with Zan. Further helping matters is the rousing, highly cinematic music from Julian Beeston.

In turn, Price has assembled a superior B-movie. Some of the motions of the film’s arc of events are routine in hindsight. Regardless, the photoplay is so well-made, thoughtful and broodingly tense that such criticisms barely register. It is also a lot of fun. Because of this. Price’s latest triumphs from both a technical and chronicle-oriented standpoint. Price’s work may not be as groundbreaking as Scott’s similar in moniker franchise. Regardless, it is a small wonder unto itself; a successful on-screen persona-minded action-thriller that pulsates with real heart.

Alien: Reign of Man will be available on Video on Demand on August 1st, 2017. It will be released on DVD November 14th, 2017.