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By tomsoterwriting - Posted on 16 December 2011





Screenplay by TOM SOTER, based on a story by CHRISTIAN DOHERTY.


Directed by CHRISTIAN DOHERTY. 2011.

$9.99 + $3.00 P&H

Producer/screenwriter TOM SOTER on THE PLACE:

It was Christian Doherty's first film in black-and-white and his first horror film with a plot (1971'sVisual Horror, a series of horrific and ludicrous images has a great title but not much else going for it). It was based on a story wrtitten by Doherty writing as "Fred Daper" (one of a dozen nom-de-plumes he would assume in a prolific teenage writing period).  We shot it in two weekends, one afternoon at my parent's house and one evening in Riverside Park, on a particularly cold night, at Grant's Tomb on 121st Street. The tomb substituted for Harrap's cave, and the drive became "Old Mayberry Road." We took the essence of the story – the hermit, Harrap (Tom Sinclair) was now a homeless man (though back then we called them "bums"), and (because we knew few girls at the time) grandma became Uncle Silas (Alan Saly), who still told horror-filled stories (in this case, lifting text from another story, "He Had All He Wanted"), and placed a curse on young Harrap for discovering Silas's dread secret ("Uncle was a warlock.") That discovery scene was our most spectacular sequence to that date. We put lighter fluid in three or four ashtrays and placed them around the room. We then set flames going in each and when Sinclair entered, he found Saly raising his arms to Satan as the flames burned around him (needless to say, when we extinquished the flames with cool water, the glass ashtrays cracked apart). The final touch came when Saly dipped his finger in rubbing alcohol and lighter fluid and set it on fire as he pointed the flaming finger for a few seconds (that was all he could take.) The offbeat horror story – Doherty's expressionist take on a Twilight Zone-style tale – is a fascinating and bizarre portrait of a man on the edge of madness, all set in a castle in Mayberry! No chases, no guns, a lot of long takes, and, of course, some crazy violence. It was more influenced by Caligari  than Callahan and was the most unusual film in Doherty's oeuvre.

Cut to 2010. The director had recently returned to filmmaking after a 36-year hiatus. He had been avoiding his trademarks – absurd violence and equally absurd-but-exciting chases – and instead been concentrating on drama (Is This Love?) and a trilogy of comedies (Hugh & I, A Girl Like YouAll the People). After warming up on these films, he asked me to help him create a horror movie. Since all old Apar Films players and fans admire The Place, we agreed that it might be time to make a new version of the classic (which had a new life thanks to webcasts of it).

I went back to the original tale and concocted a new screenplay based on some of the ideas in it (and even lifted some of the dialogue), and in early December we went out and shot the new version of The Place. Tichenor plays Johnny Powell, the man in search of the truth (Jones in the original story and film), and we added traditional horror film staples: two women in peril, here named Nora and Myrna (the naming of the three characters was my little joke: referencing William Powell and Myrna Loy – and the character she played in The Thin Man series, Nora Charles; Loy often played the perfecrt wife, a far cry from either the Myrna or the Nora in The Place). As a nod to the original film, Sinclair has a brief cameo as Harrap,

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:628:]]his part in the 1972 version.

We tried to make it spooky, and I think the cast – Tichenor, Chris Griggs, Amy Bettina, Krissy Garber, Eileen Cole, Larry Cioppa, and Rosemary Hyziak – all do bang-up jobs in their performances. Does it hold up to the original Place? Let's say it's different, like Chinese duck is different from Russian caviar. But you can love them both.

THE PLACE is now available in a deluxe DVD which includes:

THE PLACE (2011)

THE PLACE (1972)

THE HOUSE OF HORROR (the color re-edit of the 2011 remake)

ANATOMY OF A NIGHTMARE (a documentary about the making of both versions of the movie)





ALL FOR ONLY $9.99 + P & H ($3.00)