Mere months after premiering its latest short, Trouble Will Cause, which delved into the real-life mystery surrounding the Lawson Family murders on Christmas Day 1929, those merry (and prolific) moviemakers at Wreak Havoc Productions are back with their latest cinematic offering – Countdown to Midnight – which will have its world premiere March 7 at Marketplace Cinemas in Winston-Salem.
A sequel to Wreak Havoc’s popular 2017 “found-footage” horror short Midnight Shift, which will also be screened Thursday, Countdown to Midnight sees Joan Schuermeyer reprising her role as the intrepid exorcist Rev. Eliza Obadiah, this time confronted with a dilemma less supernatural than before – but no less perilous.
Writer/producer/director Dan Sellers hadn’t planned on following up Midnight Shift “but was always asked at film festivals if there would be a feature-length adaptation,” he recalled. “As a filmmaker, I’m always interested in moving forward and telling new stories.
“However, I loved the main character of the exorcist, Rev. Obadiah, and I knew there was a lot of potential to expand that character. I knew from the start that the follow-up couldn’t be another demonic-possession story, but I wanted to find her once again in a very dangerous situation and forced to make a difficult decision. Like Midnight Shift, Countdown to Midnight finds the protagonist in a deadly scenario at the messy intersection of church and state, as Rev. Obadiah is used to negotiate with a suicide cult hell-bent on destruction.”
Sellers and much of the film’s production team will be on hand Thursday for a post-screening discussion. “I’m very pleased with Countdown to Midnight and can’t wait to present it to our cast and crew and then to a wider audience,” Sellers said. “There’s nothing better than to watch an audience be on the edge of their seats. We have tentative plans to do even more with this character and to perhaps include both Midnight Shift and Countdown to Midnight into a horror anthology featuring Rev. Obadiah.”
This is only the latest in a long line of projects for Sellers and Wreak Havoc, which already includes the Wreak Havoc Film Buffs Podcast (which is self-explanatory) and the Carolina Haints Podcast (which explores legends and myths of the Tar Heel State), as well as the annual Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival held at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro.
“We decided to do something special for our 100th episode of the Wreak Havoc Film Buffs Podcast, and on March 26 we’ll be performing a live reading of Smokey and the Bandit at Monstercade in Winston-Salem,” Sellers said. “We did a regular episode on Smokey several years ago with our friend Chad Hunt as the guest, so we’re having Chad back to play the Bandit, while my co-host and producing partner Sammie Cassell as Cledus, and I’ll be performing as Sheriff Buford T. Justice. We’ve never done this before, but we know it’ll be a lot of fun for our audience. We recently got a chance to rehearse the script and my sides are still hurting from laughing so hard!”
If that wasn’t enough, Wreak Havoc will soon go into production with Sea Salt Wind, a dramatic short directed by Zack Fox (cinematographer of Countdown to Midnight and Trouble Will Cause), and are in pre-production with Uncle Otto’s Truck, an adaptation of the short story by Stephen King, originally published in King’s best-selling 1985 anthology Skeleton Crew.
That, Sellers said, “is the next big thing on our plate, and we’ve recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the necessary funds. We’ve obtained the rights from Mr. King to make the film, (and) the plan is to host the world premiere at the fifth annual Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival. But first we have to raise the funds; we made a small ‘proof-of-concept’ video that can be found on the campaign’s page or the official Facebook page for Uncle Otto’s Truck featuring our lead actor Mike Burke. The film will also star comedienne Jennie Stencel in a leading role and will feature frequent collaborators Tom Gore and Sammie Cassell. We plan to go into production this summer in North Carolina.”
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The world premiere of Countdown to Midnight and the encore screening of Midnight Shift will take place 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at Marketplace Cinemas, 2095 Peters Creek Pkwy, Winston-Salem. Tickets are $5. For more information, call 336.725.4646 or visit the website. You can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the official Wreak Havoc Productions website.