Movie cannibals hunger for Western Mass

Springfield Republican
July 25, 2010

GREENFIELD – Michigan didn’t have much of an appetite for it, but Greenfield’s mayor finds it quite palatable that his town might be the setting for “The Woman,” a movie filled with cannibalism and more cannibalism. Whether the project would be tasteful in Amherst is another question.

Directed by Andrew van den Houten, “The Woman” is being billed as a sequel to his 2009 film “Offspring,” a virtual flesh feast. As one review puts it, “Survivors of a feral flesh-eating clan are chowing their way through the locals.” Few details about “The Woman” are available, but much of it also reportedly revolves around flesh-eating. According to the film company, both Greenfield and Amherst are in the running as production sites.

Although “Offspring,” based on a novel by Jack Ketchum, is set in Maine, it was filmed in Michigan, which offers a 30 to 42 percent tax credit on movie expenditures made in-state. “The Woman” was originally scheduled to be filmed there as well, but the state’s film commission pulled the plug on the project. Kenneth M. Droz, a communications consultant with the Michigan Film Commission, said it was financing problems, not gore, that led the state to bow out of hosting “The Woman.”

“We would have been glad to have it made in Michigan,” Droz said. “We have horror films shooting right now.” Droz acknowledged, however, that the movie’s content did become part of the discussion. A New York Times story quotes Michigan film commissioner Janet Lockwood saying, “The film is unlikely to promote tourism in Michigan or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light.”

Whether or not “The Woman” will stimulate tourism in Greenfield or Amherst is anybody’s guess. Greenfield Mayor William F. Martin said he has heard little about the project but is not pre-judging it.

“If they’re going to make a (Martin) Scorsese film in town or this one, it’s not something that’s going to have a huge impact on our economic base,” he said. “I can’t judge it without seeing it. If they’re here, fine. I hope they like the area.”

Amherst Select Board member James J. Wald said he has heard nothing about the movie but doubts it will taint the town’s reputation for peace, tolerance and whole foods.

“‘Godzilla’ and ‘King Kong’ didn’t make a big difference in Tokyo and New York,” he said. “As long as they’re not showing Amherst people as cannibals.”

Van den Houten is the executive director and founder of Moderncine, a company that, according to its website, is “dedicated to making high-quality films by telling stories that are edgy and ground-breaking.” He has directed and acted in several of his movies. Along with blood baths like “Offspring” and “The Girl Next Door,” he has produced the comedy “Made for Each Other” and the psychological thrilled “Headspace.”

The New York Times reported this week that “The Woman” could begin shooting Aug. 2. Officials from the Massachusetts Film Office could not be reached Friday. Massachusetts offers filmmakers a 25 percent tax credit on money spent in the state. In recent years, that has been enough to draw movies like “Shutter Island” and “Gone Baby Gone” to the Bay State. In 2008, parts of the Mel Gibson movie “Edge of Darkness” were filmed in Northampton and Deerfield. Although Gibson’s character shot and punched numerous people in that film, he did not eat any of them.

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