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Ghosts of the 80s Haunt ‘The Summoner’

In just a few days, fans of 80s-retro culture will have the opportunity to help fund an action-horror film featuring some of their favorite artists. The flick is The Summoner, starring Le Cassette singer Adam McNab, and its soundtrack will have music from the likes of Waveshaper, Nightstop, Maxthor, and Vincenzo Salvia.

The Summoner, produced by Rob Yeomans, is about a place where vengeful spirits refuse to leave people’s homes and other buildings, and “brute force is the only course of action,” according to the film’s marketing materials. People can hire these summoners to expel these violent and unwanted guests, so there’s a Ghostbusters or The Frighteners element to the story.

McNab plays the lead character, a hard-drinking summoner whose only remaining interest in this world is his job, so he goes full-bore into ridding the world of the spirits. He encounters some major struggles along the way.

Although it’s not set in the 1980s, the film’s look and effects will summon that decade, thanks in part to retrosynth composer and video artist Irving Force’s editing and post-production prowess. In addition to starring McNab, who joined the project as an actor after Secker initially sought his band’s musical input, The Summoner also has Braveheart actress Mhairi Calvey.

Photo Credit: The Summoner.

Before the Indiegogo campaign goes live on Thursday, get to know the project and its shepherd, writer and director James Secker.

Secker, a fan of the synthwave scene and 80s retroism, got the idea for the film about 18 months ago.

“I’d always been attracted to damaged characters in film and the main character, played by [McNab], in our project is no different,” the Briton told Vehlinggo recently. “[Also,] I’m a huge fan of the retrowave scene and it was the perfect chance to incorporate the music into a project.”

A year ago, before there was a script, Secker chatted for hours with Waveshaper about the concept. Waveshaper was interested and agreed early on to do the project, Secker said. The other notable parties followed.

This film will be made by some of the biggest supporters of the retrowave community for retrowave’s hardcore fans and for those who have yet to experience the genre’s joys,” Secker said. “From horrorsynth to pumping workout jams, [the soundtrack will] be a fusion of action and horror.”

Last year’s double-dose of 80s retro films, Kung Fury and Turbo Kid, each had their own distinct vibe. The former was a satirical take on the 80s pastiche — it was in many ways “more 80s than 80s.” The latter, in contrast, had the more heart-centric vibe of 80s coming-of-age flicks like The Goonies. Both films were enjoyable for those reasons.

The Summoner, Secker says, offers yet another approach to the art of 80s retro.

Photo Credit: The Summoner.
Photo Credit: The Summoner.

It will have “a much more serious tone than [recent] retro movies like Turbo Kid and Kung Fury, but it will still carry that nostalgic love those films emanated,” Secker said. “It will play like a film straight off the video shelves and Irving Force will show off his skills in the editing process to create the stunning look of the movie.”

“It’s not set in the 80s but [in] more of a modern synthwave world — a world where the 80s never really moved on,” Secker continued. “We are aiming to create a unique and exciting world.”

For inspiration, Secker has looked to an array of filmmakers and projects.

The visuals will be influenced by films such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Richard Stanley’s Hardware, and Mike Marvin’s The Wraith, he said.

“Smoke machines [will be] filling up the sets, and various different color schemes [will be] lighting up our scenes,” he said. ”It’s an action/horror hybrid, so it will be full of juxtapositions. For example, the darkness within the properties [will be] contrasting with the blinding sun outside.”

Sum-CF-pic“If I had to explain it as a whole,” Secker continued, “I would say The Summoner is a cross between Poltergeist, Rocky IV, and Blade Runner.”

Going forward, Secker hopes to bring the film to festivals and eventually release it on Vimeo for a larger audience. The film is slated to be released this year.

“We aim to create something original, something enthralling, whilst also celebrating the greatest decade in film and music,” he said. “All I ask of the fans is to please share and donate so that we can make the best possible film we can.”

The Indiegogo page for the The Summoner will go live on March 31. Watch for an official announcement post on that date on the film’s Facebook page.

In addition to making attire for on-screen purposes, popular retro-outfitter Like Totally will also make limited-edition t-shirts for backers of the crowdfunding campaign. Other awards will include the official soundtrack, digital copies of the script, exclusive posters, behind the scenes footage and executive producer credits, Secker said.

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