The review was originally posted at Gorepump's Horror Dump:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Bighead (2013, Michael Ling)

In case you're not aware, Edward Lee is a phenomenal horror novelist who specializes in the ultra sick-and-twisted. 
His 1997 book "The Bighead" has been made into a short film and it's looking like there's a feature in the works. I NEED 
this to happen!

What you have here is a well-made 25 minute 'sample', if you will, that takes a portion from Lee's book in an obvious 
attempt to gain funding for a full-length film. We're introduced to a pair of out-of-towner bar floozies who are craving hillbilly 
dick, a couple of redneck hoodlums mercilessly brutalizing a prostitute and a local legend concerning an inbred mutant with 
a giant cock that enjoys raping and mutilating folks...

Again, "The Bighead" short isn't a complete 'story', but I must say I am hoping for more. The production quality looks good. 
Better than I expected and the Bighead creature looks pretty badass. I liked the whole mean-spirited hooker ass-raping
and forced shit-eating scene. Well done, as well as the bar room brawling priest (kicking ass for the lord, I suppose). So 
yeah, I fucking dug "The Bighead"! I just need to see more of him in action.

This review was originally published on Horror Drive-In:

Tuesday, May 14. 2013

Crowdfunding campaigns like Kickstarter have come under fire lately, and I don't quite understand why. No one is forced to pledge support. It's not like a tax hike, or fuel oil increase. Some people have a Pavlovian reaction when they are even brought up, as individuals appear to be outraged at the notion that they have to fund a project.

Well, like it or not, the Internet is changing every aspect of our lives. The way creative projects are financed and distributed are no exception. I see it as a good thing. Some cool projects stand no chance of being funded without crowdfunding. I don't see Kickstarter, Indiegogo, PledgeMusic, and others going away anytime soon.

Some reject the very concept of crowdfunding, and that is their right, of course. Others have had a bad experience or two in the relatively short while these things have been going on.

I am very pleased to report that the people behind the movie adaptation of Edward Lee's The Bighead did it right. The production was completed in a timely fashion, funders received frequent updates, and DVDs were manufactured and sent out very quickly. I have nothing but praise for the way this campaign has gone.

Which brings me to Edward Lee. The man should need no introduction to those who visit Horror Drive-In, but suffice to say that Lee is the undisputed, the one, the only King of Hardcore Horror. Many have tried to copy his approach to writing. Few, in my opinion, have even come close to The Master at brutal, hilarious, grossout horror. None have exceeded him at it.

For one, Lee does not simply pour the guts, blood, and other body fluids upon the page. He weaves a tight plot, creates vivid characters, and tells a story at a breakneck pace. Not all of his fiction is over the top, but when he goes for broke, be prepared to be shocked, sickened, and sick from laughter. Simultaneously. 

Astonishingly, The Bighead is not the first piece by Edward Lee to be adapted to the screen. A lunatic named Archibald Flancranstin directed a movie version of Lee's notorious short story,Header. He did a good job, too. Flancranstin captured the the vision of Edward Lee. Header is crude, and the acting is barely adequate, but it still works. It was distributed on DVD by the good people at Synapse Films. 

Now we have the short movie based on Lee's even more notorious The Bighead. Before it was published, the author made the claim that The Bighead was the grossest book ever written, and that no publisher would touch it. That changed when Necro Publications had the balls to put it out in a limited edition. The Overlook Connection reprinted it later in an expanded form.

Did The Bighead live up to its creator's bold statement? Oh yeah. It sure did.

I received my DVD yesterday, and you can make bet that I didn't wait long to watch it.

It is amazing. Director Michael Ling and his crew captured the look and the atmosphere of the story to perfection. All the actors nailed their roles. Dicky and Balls are particularly effective. In fact I found them more disturbing in the movie than in the book. Lee makes his fiendish characters sickeningly amusing. They are absolutely terrifying in the adaptation.

Best of all, the star of the show, The Bighead himself, is perfect. I cannot imagine a better representation of the character than has been done in this movie. I applaud everyone involved.

If I have a complaint, it is that it is very short. I want more and I hope that the producers can get the necessary funds to make a feature based on The Bighead. If they decide to Kickstart it, I will sign on with no hesitation.

The history of horror movies is ripe with ballyhoo. Outrageous claims have been made for decades about how brutal, how terrifying, how disturbing, they are. Most of these claims are hollow. Trust me on this, people: The Bighead is NOT for everyone. Be advised: Horrifying depictions of murder, rape, torture, and gore are in this short. So make sure your parents are out for the night before watching it. No adults, please.

This interview/review originally published on Way Too Indie:

Interview: Michael Ling of Edward Lee’s the Bighead

 May 13, 2013 INTERVIEW
Interview: Michael Ling of Edward Lee’s the Bighead
In Michael Ling’s adaptation of Edward Lee’s gory-as-hell novel The Bighead, he channels the gritty, uncompromising exploitation horror films of the ‘70s. He’s made a short film version of the story, which acts as a sampler of the unrelenting violence he has in store for the full-length feature, for which he and his crew are actively seeking funding. Full of gruesome kills, horrifying rape, and rednecks galore, Edward Lee’s the Bighead is a bloody throwback to the golden days of horror.

How do you feel about horror cinema today?
I think the horror genre in America is pretty half-assed. I can’t think of the last good American horror movie I saw. There are a bunch of great foreign horror films. French, Asian—they’re making some great, extreme horror movies. Tonally, those films touch on things US companies wouldn’t. Inside is a French movie about a pregnant girl who is terrorized in her home by a psychotic lady. It goes places you can’t even imagine, like “Holy shit! This is being done?” Of course it is, because it’s not a US movie. High Tension is amazing, though the twist at the end is ‘meh’. A Serbian Film and Human Centipede aren’t perfect, but at least they’re trying new things.

Is The Big Head representative of where you would like American horror cinema to get back to?
I love ‘70s exploitation movies. I would love to see more of those get made, because they’re great ways for young filmmakers to make cheap, easy movies, too. You don’t need special effects, you don’t need huge sets. You just need a good story and characters, and you’re off and running.

Talk a bit about your cast. Orson Chaplin is great as the redneck rapist.
We knew that would be a hard role to cast because he’d have to be creepy, but also a bit likable and almost charming. If you’re one-note in that role, he becomes just a creepy psycho. You wouldn’t have that connection to the character. Orson nailed it from his first audition. He was scaring folks on-set, but off-set, he’s a super nice guy. He works retail at a kids store (laughs).

The rape scenes are pretty intense…
We show a lot in those scenes, but we don’t show ultra-close-ups or anything. You get the idea. You get how evil and sick Orson is. Ashley Totin was great to work with, open to getting beat up and thrown around. She got in a car wreck the week before shooting and broke her nose and wrist. She said “Don’t hit my nose, and don’t touch my left wrist.” Of course, on the first take when Orson throws her on the car, he grabs the wrong wrist and she screams. It was definitely a real scream (laughs).

Edward Lee’s the Bighead

What makes Bighead special when compared to other movie monsters?
Mark Villalobos from Monster FX kicked ass for us on a low budget and went above and beyond. Bighead is half alien, half redneck. He has a huge backstory. An alien came down to earth, raped a woman, and she had twins. One was normal, the other was Bighead. I think it gives him a different edge. It’s not your typical story. It’s sci-fi, it’s horror, it’s a redneck thriller, it’s exploitation. It’s a unique blend of genres.

What makes a good horror movie?
You have to be intense. For some reason, the studios [in the US] just don’t want that level of intensity. They want the first half hour to be a set up of fluffy, one-note characters, and then start killing them off. They like the endings to wrap up nicely too. Ils, a French movie which The Strangers totally ripped off, is a simple story about a couple in the woods attacked by random people. **SPOILERS** In the US version, the couple confronts the attackers, fight them off, and it just kinda ends. In the French version, the killers are 14-year-old kids who kill the couple for fun and go back to their high school. It’s a creepier because there’s no moral to the story—it’s just a bunch of fucked up kids killing a couple.

This review originally published on Film Bizzaro:

Title: The Bighead

Also known as:
Edward Lee's The Bighead (Complete title)

Year: 2013

Genre: Short / Horror / Exploitation

Language: English

Runtime: 24 min

Director: Michael Ling

Writer: Michael Ling (screenplay), Edward Lee (novel)


Charity and Jerrica are visiting Charity's home town, and they go for a night out at the local bar. Charity brings up the myth of the Bighead when the bartender denies the myth, claiming it's actually true. Meanwhile, local boys Balls and Dicky are out for a dirty, good time. And somewhere out there, The Bighead is lusting...

Our thoughts:
After reading Edward Lee's "The Bighead" last year, and actually wrote a 5 page essay on it for an advanced English class (class was confused when I talked about all the murder, rape, nightmares of pissing nuns, the mega-sized Bighead cock, etc.), I was definitely interested in this short film when they were fundraising. Sadly I didn't have money to help at that point, but I kept the page saved to make sure I wouldn't miss it. I wasn't a huge fan of the novel, but I did enjoy some of that dark humor and intentionally over-the-top filth that goes on. It's not a novel I think badly of at all, even though I won't revisit it. However, the thought of seeing some of those things on screen had me curious. Would it even be possible to do it justice? And would it be really gritty and dark, or more Troma-esque considering the nature of the story?

This short film takes a chunk of the massive plot of the novel, and focuses on just a small snippet. It has no real beginning, and no real end. But it does introduce the main characters. Charity and Jerrica are two girls visiting Charity's home town. They didn't know each other before the trip, but there's a friendship brewing. They hit the local bar, where they realize mostly men go. They take a seat and start drinking, when Jerrica notices scribblings in the bathroom and by the bar - something about the Bighead. Charity tells Jerrica about the local myth of the Bighead, a freak out nature that parents scared their children with. But the bartender begs to differ, claiming that the Bighead is indeed real. Not only has he been seen, but they have found bodies... dismembered... brutally raped. Soon they meet a new face in town, a prist - Father Tom Alexander. He's there to rebuild the Abbey, which has a dark past that the town is desperate to forget. While the Bighead is roaming in the woods, killing and raping whatever he gets a chance to, two local boys are stirring up just as much shit. Drinking, raping and killing girls for fun, and they're soon headed to the bar that Charity and Jerrica are currently at.

This short film manages to introduce everyone really well, but it does feel more like a short film made to fund a feature. And I believe they are trying to make a feature, so it's possible. This short film is actually perfect in respect to the novel - the style, the atmosphere, the filth, it's all there (though I'm sure they wish they could've pushed it into something much more graphic, to truly respect the novel). The characters were excellent as well, I hadn't imagined any of them differently (except maybe the looks of one or two). The biggest problem here, for the watchabilty of the short, is that it seems made for people who already know the story. We're not sure why Charity and Jerrica are there, though they stumble around the subjects, and by the end of the short film we have only gotten to know the characters - not actually had a story evolve.

It's safe to say that this is a perfect short film for them to use if they are funding a feature. It shows exactly what they are capable of - the black comedy, the fucked up people, the gore, the nudity (though we're only treated to the boobs at this point), etc. I am surprised that it's as well made as it is, even the make-up on the Bighead is spot on. Though the short film ends when we've finally met all the people, I think it was a joy to watch because it stays true to the novel. The novel itself wasn't deep or meaningful, so why should the short be? They have managed to do exactly what the novel did, and I really respec that. It's rare to adapt something this well. It's a great tease for the, hopefully, upcoming feature. If they keep this up and are ready to go all the way with it, we're in for a fucked up, silly, over-the-top treat.

Positive things:
- Stays very true to the novel. It even feels like the same people.
- Great make-up on the Bighead.
- Much more well made than expected. It could easily have fallen into Troma territory, but luckily it didn't.
- Doesn't shy away from being graphic.
- They're planning a feature.
Negative things:
- The novel is even more graphic.
- As a standalone short film, ignoring the novel, it's quite weird how it has no real beginning or end.

This review originally published on Bizarro Central:

At the Hollywood Premiere of Edward Lee’s “The Bighead”


Edward Lee’s novel “The Big Head” has been described as many things. “Distinguished by pornographic violence and sex” – Tim Kreider of CITY PAPER and “Exploitation fiction” – Kyle Scott of THE HORROR HOTEL are just a few, and these were people that enjoyed it. Having read it, I can say the story is both disgusting, and irresistible. But, don’t be fooled. It’s more than just torture porn.

The savagery of “The Bighead” is some deep shit, trust me. In contrast to the, ‘can I trust myself’ element that we see all too easily in fiction, we get a story that breeds fear of those around you. Not blatant xenophobia, mind you. It’s that bestial, often sexual violence that lies in every stranger we pass. Every one of them waiting for you to be alone, with your guard down.

The real monster of the book is the epitome of this ultra-nastiness; a regular Jungian archetype on rape quest from hell. So, naturally I was fucking psyched to see the movie that was goo g to be made, based on the book. When I found out that it was premiering at the Acme Theater in Hollywood, only a quick jaunt from me, I knew I had to see what was what.

Surprisingly poppy music filled the small theater before the start of the show. The front row was sunk into a concrete pit that reminded me of a trench. The crowd that filtered in already had the lay of the place. The fashionably late were still on their way; the bulk of the seat-fillers had been laying in wait. They had skulked through the bar for god knows how long before the start movie, and they were ready for blood.

The music took an ominous turn as the crowd reached its peak, but the screen remained black. Already familiar faces were starting to crop up among the newcomers. Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp showed their mugs, as did John Palisano. Edward Lee was there, of course. The director might have been there, but I’d never met him before, and couldn’t pick him out. More than one of the attendees had the look of possible magicians.

The director, the producer, and some other guy did make an appearance. Suddenly, something happened in the room. It was easy to tell by the way he spoke, and the way the people in the room who worked on the project received him, that this had been a passion project. A project that had been group funded through the notorious Kickstarter; something that the crew had rallied behind from the beginning.These people had a great time making the movie that I was about to see, and were proud of what they had done.

And then, the movie started. The first thing to know about this movie, and this especially goes out to the people who read the book, this movie does not run the whole plot. I don’t know if they are seeking more funding to do a part two, but this is only a very small chunk of the book. All-in-all, the movie is about twenty minutes long, and while intriguing, only wets the tongue.

The Bighead himself was creepy, which says a lot. The movie had a bit of camp, sure. But, it would have been easy to go overboard with the monster. This rampaging rube is actually unsettling; the kind of freak you might almost expect to see. The rest of the cast was well
rounded, Dicky and Balls didn’t disappoint, and the bartender was a damn gem.


But, what everyone really wants to know, is how gruesome was it? Did it live up to the name of Ed Lee?

Well, it made my girlfriend squirm.

The thing about what the director chose to show, was that it was extreme, but it was believable. Believable enough to make that extremeness terrifying, instead of silly, which is what made the novel work.

            I got a chance to chat with Mr. Lee after the screening, as he smoked a cigarette in the warm Los Angeles night. He seemed pleased with what he had just seen, but thoughtful as well. Perhaps inspired, perhaps constipated. He did say that he would be at Killercon this September, for all of you that want to stalk him there.Image

This article originally published on Dread Central:

Indie Horror Month Exclusive: Michael Ling Discusses Upcoming Short Film Edward Lee's The Bighead

thehorrorchick's picture
March 14th, 2013

Dread Central recently hosted the online premiere of the brand new trailer for writer/director Michael Ling's upcoming short film Edward Lee's The Bighead, and with its LA premiere just a few weeks away, we thought now would be a great time to chat with Lee.

Based on Edward Lee's seminal and wildly controversial 2003 novel Edward Lee's The Bighead, this harrowing tale is set in the West Virginian backwoods where vicious monsters, both human and supernatural, go on a terrifying rampage in search of a special young woman. Their path of destruction uncovers long held secrets and puts the fate of the entire world in jeopardy.

The short film stars Raquel Cantu as the untamable sexpot Jerrica, Carrie Malabre as the shy Charity, Orson Chaplin as the demented psychopath Tritt "Balls" Connor, and Lance Trezona as Tritt's dim-witted accomplice Dicky. Award-winning director of photography Fady Hadid shot the film, and Geoff Skinner and Donald Wygal, Jr., produced.

Check out the highlights from our exclusive interview with Ling below!

Dread Central: So talk a bit about what got you into filmmaking and how you started in the industry.

Michael Ling: Well, like most folks my age, I got sucked into movies when my parents took us to see Star Wars. That just blew my mind as I had no idea there were movies like that out there. The next big step was my parents (or rather Santa if you can believe it) giving me The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film when I was around twelve. Now I had a giant book of cool movies to seek out which timed nicely with the video store boom. My friend Dennis and I would watch three or four movies a night, numerous times a week, and the video stores in our small Michigan town knew us by name and could barely keep up with our renting habits.

This lead to the two of us moving to LA for film school, which eventually lead to getting jobs as a PA and then advancing into different jobs on various movies.  In my spare time I always wrote scripts, and with the recent boom of sites like Kickstarter, after wrapping a long gig on John Carter, I decided enough was enough and now was the time to make our own movie.

Dread Central: What was it about Edward Lee's story that you felt was ripe for a cinematic adaptation?

Michael Ling: The Bighead was the second of my forays into 'extreme horror' (Jack Ketchum's Off Season was the first) and it blew me away with its originality. I didn't even know you could do that kind of stuff in books. Besides the crazy gore and sex, though, Lee had great characters that made for quite a page-turner.  I thought that level of nutso scenes and likable, well thought-out characters would make for a great movie and a movie that people hadn't seen before too.

Dread Central: So where did you guys shoot then and how long did production go for?

Michael Ling: We shot a couple days in Agua Dulce for all the exterior scenes. They have an amazing space with everything from a pond to woods to jungle-like settings out there. The bar scene was done at the Hideaway Bar in Sylmar. Both places were very generous to us and worked with our low budget. We shot for four days in total and managed to squeeze everything (big thanks to our co-producer Greg Guzik for keeping us on a tight schedule).

Dread Central: Any surprises along the way?

Michael Ling: I'd say the biggest 'surprise' we had was having to change out one of our leading ladies on the fly. We had a slight 'name' cast as Jerrica, and the day of the shoot she didn't show. We later found out she was sick, but for a few hours we were on location with a limited time at the bar and more than a little stressed. Luckily for us Raquel Cantu, our script supervisor, was really an actress just doing this as a favor to a friend. We managed to talk her into taking on the role and she nailed it. It turns out we were much better off with her playing Jerrica and sorry we never cast her in the first place; I will never be able to thank her enough.

Dread Central: I noticed this is a very monster-heavy story- can you talk about the special effects process and what went into the design work? Did Lee's story inspire all the designs or did you get to give some input as well?

Michael Ling: Our Bighead was brought to life thanks to Mark Villalobos at Monster Effects. We had a start of what he needed to look like based on the book, of course, but that was always a bit vague so we could really let Mark do his thing. I got to visit his studio and go over designs with him, which was amazing as I've always loved make up and effects. As a kid that grew up reading Famous Monsters and Fangoria, this was a dream come true.  Mark really kicked ass for us though and made a creature that stands (deformed) head to head - and mutated body - with the best of them.

Dread Central: Tell us more about your cast and what they brought to the table for their respective characters.

Michael Ling: Just like our amazing crew, our cast was outstanding too. I was worried that being a low budget flick meant that we would have to 'settle' for whoever auditioned that didn't suck too badly but that was so not the case. Since we were going to be doing this on the quick, we wanted good actors but also people that we wanted to hang around with that wouldn't have egos.

Orson Chaplin really nails the twisted psychopath, Balls, and I think people will be talking about him after they see the movie (and probably be scared to talk to him as well).  Casting Charity was tricky as we wanted someone that could pull off the shy and mousy bits of the character but not get lost on screen; Carrie Malabre was perfect for that and we were lucky to get her.

I've already mentioned how great Raquel was in bringing Jerrica to life, but really everyone just brought their 'A' game to set as we didn't have time to do numerous takes on every scene. 

Dread Central: I noticed this is something that you're also hoping to adapt into a feature; was it hard determining what aspects of the story to show for the short and which ones you'd have to keep for the feature?

Michael Ling: Producer Geoff Skinner has been working with me for a few years in trying to shop this around Hollywood and helped me choose the best bits for the short.  I would have LOVED to have Jesus (via Tom's visions) in there and cannot wait to cast him for the feature version.

It was tricky trying to introduce all the key characters and still tell a fairly brief stand-alone story, that's for sure. I liken this to a TV pilot where it can stand by itself as a short film but there is also a hint of much bigger story that we could tell.  Hopefully people are going to want to see more of what is happening in Luntville with all these great characters.

So first and foremost we are actively seeking funding to get the feature made. We have the script and a budget ready; now we just need the money.  There has been some interest from financial backers already, which is very encouraging. I hope once people see the short they will be impressed with the quality and enticed by the earning potential to give us a shot with a low budget; of course, if someone wants to fork over Avatar-type cash for us, we would be okay with that too (laughs).

So for the immediate future, I am just focusing on The Bighead and getting the feature version prepped (and made). Down the road I have a couple of other scripts we have been shopping around, and Large Melon is eager to adapt a few more of Edward Lee's books too.

Edward Lee's The Bighead will premiere in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 30, 2013, at 7:00 PM at the Acme Theater in Hollywood (135 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036). Check out the trailer below, and keep your eyes peeled on the short film's Facebook page for news on upcoming screenings and more!