This Day in Horror

29 March 2011

Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen

In case you haven't heard, the very talented actor, producer, writer, director, SUPER sexy Michael Worth is currently working on an Indie film that tackles ageism in Hollywood. Great concept right?? He's teamed up with film icons like Lance Henriksen, Tim Thomerson, Adrienne Barbeau, George Cheung, John Saxon and many more to shine some light on the dwindling roles for the more "experienced" actor.

I'm not sure why I haven't written about this before now. I guess the 65 hours left on the Indiegogo campaign lit a fire under my ass. The campaign has raised a good bit but as any filmmaker or fan knows, it takes A LOT to make a good film. This is a project that I have much faith in and am proud to be a part of in a small, miniscule, ok not really but sort of kind of way. Make sense? Yeah probably not. BUT, it's definitely worth checking out. They have all kinds of great perks for donations for as little as $1 and as much as $500 so at least visit and get a feel for what they're trying to do. Every dollar counts and if you are unable to donate you can still support it by helping to spread the word.

You can keep up with the progress of Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen on Twitter by following @HenriksensHead or @MichaelWorth or check it all out on Facebook as well. AND, while you're at it, head over the super awesome BACKTOFRANKBLACK.COM and get the scoop from Michael himself as he talks with those guys about the project.

New extended trailer for Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen

Untitled from Grizzly Peak Films on Vimeo.

27 March 2011

10 Great Home Invasion Films

Scelerophobia (fear of bad men or burglars) is a documented fear that many people suffer from, including me. I function just as good as the next stressed out mom/writer without it disrupting my life but even as I sit here and type out what is just suppose to be a simple article on home invasion films my heart is pounding and my hands are shaky. If you read my tweets then you know I was very hesitant about how much information to give away in this article. I'm a fairly private person but in order to get my point across with this post I feel it's necessary to share some things I normally wouldn't. Over the years, I've become pretty desensitized to all things horror and gore. Sick? Maybe. Twisted? Most definitely. BUT, this subgenre of films is one that I can barely watch by myself. I get extremely uneasy when a film contains this kind of subject matter. Why? Because it CAN happen. Because it DOES happen. Because it happened to me. I was tormented and brutalized in my own home. Before I turned the tables on my attacker, I had my collar bone fractured, teeth broken and was stabbed multiple times. I like to think I survived because I'm strong but I got lucky, plain and simple. I could've easily been just another statistic. I'm much better prepared now. I have a weapon of some sort in every room. I carry pepper spray EVERYWHERE and my house is guarded by 6 dogs.
Each one of the films in this article are great in their own way and I would recommend them to anyone. So, in no particular order, here are my favorite home invasion films.

In this thriller, a baby-sitter is terrorized by an anonymous telephone caller who turns out to be a particularly persistent serial killer. When a stranger calls to ask, "Have you checked the children lately?" teen aged sitter Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) is understandably spooked. After a series of increasingly creepy calls culminates in a request for "your blood...all over me," Jill learns from the police operator that the man is calling from inside the house. One narrow escape and two dead children later, the police capture British maniac Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley). Several years later, the killer escapes from a mental institution and plagues Tracy (Colleen Dewhurst), a hard-drinking New Yorker. Foiled by John Clifford (Charles Durning), the same cop who investigated the original case, Duncan sets his sights back on his original victim, Jill Johnson, who, now married and out to dinner with her husband, has left her own young children at home -- with a baby-sitter.

Independent and resourceful, Susy (Audrey Hepburn) is learning to cope with her blindness, which resulted from a recent accident. She is aided by her difficult, slightly unreliable young neighbor Gloria (Julie Herrod) with whom she has an exasperated but lovingly maternal relationship. Susy's life is changed as she is terrorized by a group of criminals who believe she has hidden a baby doll used by them to smuggle heroin into the country. Unknown to Susy, her photographer husband Sam (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) took the doll as a favor for a woman he met on an international plane flight and unwittingly brought the doll to the couple's New York apartment when the woman became afraid of the customs officials. Alone in her apartment and cut-off from the outside world, Susy must fight for her life against a gang of ruthless criminals, led by the violent, psychotic Roat (Alan Arkin). The tension builds as Roat, aided by his gang, impersonates police officers and friends of her husband in order to win Susy's confidence, gaining access to her apartment to look for the doll.

Clémentine (Olivia Bonamy) teaches at the French Lycée in Bucharest. Lucas (Michael Cohen) is a novelist. The young couple lives happily in the middle of a forest. But tonight, their lives will be turned upside down. They don't know it yet but they're being spied upon; they're being surrounded. When night falls, Clémentine and Lucas will come up against THEM. They are here, they are there, they are everywhere--they are even in their home. Who are they? What do they want? The answers will take them to the very limits of fear itself.

A suburban couple returning to their semi-secluded house after attending a wedding finds their lives suddenly thrown into chaos with the arrival of three malevolent, masked strangers in director Bryan Bertino's tense tale of survival. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star as the couple forced to resort to violence they never thought themselves capable of as they struggle for their lives.

To avoid the Vietnam-era social chaos in the U.S., American mathematician David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) moves with his British wife, Amy (Susan George), to the isolated Cornish town where she grew up, but their presence provokes antagonism among the village's men. As the hostilities escalate from routine bullying to the gang rape of his wife, David finds his pacifistic self backed into a corner. When the hooligans attack his house, David finally resorts to the gruesome violence that he abhors.

Still grieving over her recently deceased husband, a pregnant woman (Alysson Paradis), alone on the eve of her delivery, is terrorized by a raging psychopathic woman (Beatrice Dalle) who is determined to retrieve the baby from her womb by any means necessary.

The survivor of a vicious gang rape turns the tables on her attackers in this remake of director Meir Zarchi's notorious 1978 horror classic. In order to seek inspiration for her next book, urbanite author Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) retreats to a secluded cabin in the woods. Little does Jennifer realize that she's just caught the attention of some particularly depraved locals, and her peaceful retreat is about to become a living hell. At first the sadistic intruders attempt to frighten Jennifer by breaking into her cabin, but then the attack gets out of hand. Desperate to escape after being badly brutalized, Jennifer throws herself into the river and allows her body to be carried away by the rapids. When her attackers fail to locate her corpse, they assume she is dead and return to their normal lives. But Jennifer isn't dead, and she doesn't forgive. Her attackers will pay for what they did, and nothing they say or do can prevent her from savaging them in the worst way imaginable before she sends them to hell screaming.

Best friends Marie (Cécile De France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) go out to the countryside to visit Alex's parents. However, a homicidal delivery man (Philippe Nahon) ends up at their house and starts killing everyone. Alex and Marie fight for their lives with help from several means of weaponry.

A teenage girl agrees to meet a thirtysomething fashion photographer in person after becoming acquainted with him in an online chat room, and the resulting encounter finds the line between predator and prey slipping slowly out of focus in director David Slade's provocative and topical thriller. Hayley (Ellen Page) is a 14-year-old teen whose emotional maturity seems to betray her tender age. Jeff (Patrick Wilson) is a potential child predator whose intentions toward his young chat buddy seem less than honorable. After meeting in a coffeehouse and getting to know each other briefly in person, Jeff invites Haley back to his place, and it's not long before Jeff's underage guest is pouring drinks and posing provocatively for an impromptu photo shoot. As the evening's questionable activities take a decidedly sordid slant and the raptorial Jeff appears poised to strike, a sudden turn of events finds that his apparent victim has had a plan of her own from the very beginning.

Notoriously nihilistic filmmaker Michael Haneke revisits one of his most controversial works in this remake of 1997's Funny Games starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. When a family of three arrives at their remote summer cabin for a quiet getaway, the sudden arrival of two psychotic men sets the stage for a harrowing life-or-death struggle that offers savage commentary on the use of violence in entertainment.

Film synopsis courtesy of MSN Movies

19 March 2011

BOOK REVIEW - Memorial Series by Robert R. Best





















Zombies and tigers and bears, Oh My!

The first book in this series follows Angie, a nurse at Lakewood Memorial Park,
a friend of a patient there, and Angie's kids, Maylee and Dalton, as they try
to figure out what's happened and stay alive. There's a lot happening and a lot
of exposition and background is thrown into the narrative in clever and creative ways. Lakewood Memorial is 159 pages long and covers about a minute of action per page. There is enough gore dripping off of every page to satisfy any
gorophile.

How everyone dies is the key feature of every zombie story, whether you're on
the side of the zombies or the Brains, and this series has lots of inventive
ways for zombies AND Brains to meet their fate. The descriptions of the deaths
don't bog things down at all and that's a tricky thing to accomplish. Kudos
to Best for that!

I have to confess that I don't normally read zombie literature, preferring my
zombiepocalypses to be presented visually, but by the end of the first book I
was really anxious to see how things turned out for the characters. Best didn't
let me down, as the second book in the series, 'Ashton Memorial, picks up right
where the first lets off and continues the action as the party moves on to Ashton, a town up the road where friends and family await.

This second book isn't just more of the same, though, as most of the action takes place at Ashton Memorial Zoo. Not only do Angie, Park, and the kids have to deal with zombies, they also have to deal with a power struggle, crazed animals, cult figures and followers, and some really dangerous people. So much happening!

I hope the third in the series comes out soon, though there's no mention of it
on his website robertrbest.com.

Overall, I give this series a rating of 'very good'.

You can connect with Robert via Facebook, Twitter or on his blog. You can also check out his work by visiting his Amazon page.

Reviewed by Ed Rafalko

18 March 2011

Hit and Run 2009 - REVIEW

In 2001 a Ft. Worth, Texas woman named Chante Mallard struck a homeless man named Gregory Biggs as she was driving home, intoxicated of course, from a party. Did this crazy bitch stop to see if the guy that just impaled her windshield was okay? No, she drove home, with the dude lodged in her windshield, and parked her car in her garage. Biggs died from his injuries sometime during the night. Did this crazy bitch call the police? Of course not... she called Clete Jackson who then called his cousin Herbert Cleveland and together they dumped the body of poor Mr. Biggs in the park and set fire to the car to try to hide the evidence. Bad story, good end because she was sentenced to fifty years in prison and the other two dipshits were charged with tampering with evidence. Why am I telling you this? Because it's roughly the plot for the film Hit and Run... I did say roughly.

When Mary (Laura Breckenridge) goes out with some of her girl friends over Spring Break, it seems that they are going to have a fun night. Mary never expects that while driving home after having a few drinks she would encounter a situation that would turn her world upside down and running for her life. On her drive home, Mary swerves to avoid something in the road and narrowly avoids crashing her Jeep into a tree. She is a bit shaken, but seems okay otherwise, so its no surprise that she goes home and goes to sleep. However, she is not allowed to rest for long as she is awakened early in the morning by a strange noise coming from her garage. When she investigates she finds that the source is a man horribly mangled and hanging from the front bumper of her Jeep. When the man makes a grab for her she "accidentally" finishes the job her Jeep started. She then takes his body into the woods and buries it hoping no one will ever know what she'd done.

There's no denying that Breckenridge is a good actress. Good, not great and definitely not strong enough to carry an entire film by herself. Yes, there is still Christopher Shand and Kevin Corrigan but I would say 75% of this film is just Breckenridge running around psyching herself out and fighting a guilty conscience. The few scenes where she actually had to give dialogue were just okay. I haven't seen Amusement in a while but I remember her giving a pretty good performance there as well. So, let me just reiterate that I have no problem with her level of talent, I just don't think she is strong enough to carry a film with minimal dialogue and not much of a supporting cast.
If you didn't read that Kevin Corrigan was in this film, you'd probably never know it was him. He is pretty unrecognizable with the amount of make up on his face, really weird lenses and extremely nasty teeth. Normally, I like Kevin Corrigan, he does great work and his comedic timing is pretty spot on but there was no comedy here unless you count the laughable number of bad decisions Breckenridge's character makes.

Speaking of bad decisions, I'm not quite sure what first time director Enda McCallion was thinking with some of the direction here. Parts of it are so badly put together that that it's distracting and it's stricken with some pretty bad computer graphics as well. For a film with an estimated budget of 3.5 million I really expected a lot more.
If writers Arthur Flam and Diane Donio-Valcroze, who also brought us Penny Dreadful, were trying to deliver a solid horror, it didn't work. For me it was more of a thriller than anything and I use that in the loosest of terms... like a drunk girl on prom night. As I said before there is very little dialogue to it and the last twenty minutes or so of the film are full of one bullshit scene after another. It's laughable for the writers to create a situation where someone drives 90 miles an hour down the highway, rear ends another vehicle and stops for gas along the way with a chick tied to the bumper (with Christmas lights mind you) and no one, no one gives chase.

I think it's a pretty big wake up call for the director and the writers when your film is billed as a horror/thriller and pretty much every review says it's a horror/black comedy. In fact, the more I replay this film in my head, the more and more I dislike it. There's not much of what I would call "impact" gore but plenty of bloody puddles and so forth. If you're bored and have nothing else to watch, I guess it would hold up. But definitely don't go into it expecting anything horrific... or great.

14 March 2011

INTERVIEW - Composer Corey A. Jackson


In my opinion, composers for film and television or even video games are severely underrated and never given the credit they deserve. I recently had the pleasure of having a little chat with I Spit on Your Grave composer Corey A. Jackson. Our hour long conversation at times came off more like a bullshit session but it was a lot of fun!!

TC: This will be a hard interview for me because I don’t know the first thing about composing music.
CJ: Neither do I but don’t tell anyone.

TC: How does it all work? Do you watch the film first and then put the music to it or does the director already have something in mind?
CJ: Normally I don’t even see the film until the edit is locked. Well locked edits don’t really exist anymore but supposedly locked. Then I’ll watch it and usually the director and probably the producer and composer will all usually sit around and it’ll probably already be temped with something. I remember It Waits, the first picture I did with Steven a large amount of the temp was from the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre score. So they kinda stick that in there to preview scenes and see if it’s working for them. The good thing is they know if it’s working for them bad thing for me because I have to try to come up with something and not rip it off. But that score actually sounded nothing like it so we got to kinda do what we wanted to on that one.

TC: I’m sure it’s the same if you’re writing or directing. There may be a shot that sticks in your head that you use and then it’s “oh, you ripped off so and so”.
CJ: Well you only have twenty four letters and there are only twelve notes on the piano so things are gonna get repeated. Now I have heard some blatant things but… you never know what’s going on behind the scenes of any production so I try not to even judge anymore. When I started out, I was real cocky and I was like “Ah, I could do that better.” But once you get into it you realize, maybe you can’t do better, you’re not in complete control of anything. You can only do the best you can with what you have and that’s all you can do. It’s like that with any job. I get questions now like “how do you become a film composer” and it’s like… you’re not gonna be out here doing this unless you have to because there are few things in life more difficult in terms of location. When you’ve got two thousand people going for the same job… and it’s the same with acting. I know so many great actors that are waiting tables. It’s just so competitive. You do it because you have to, there’s no other reason.

TC: How long does that process usually take, from the time you get it to the time you’re done with it?
CJ: It should take a month [laughs] but I think It Waits was two and half weeks. I Spit on Your Grave was three weeks so it’s not a whole lot of time.

TC: How long did it take you on Complacent because I just watched that and the score is really… it kinda lends new life to the whole film because it’s a really powerful score.
CJ: Well thank you. That’s probably the only score that Steven and I, and he would probably tell you, it’s the only one we’ve ever disagreed on and in the end he was right. Since I was a producer on the film I wasn’t thinking creatively for the whole shoot and then when we got to it he said “I need something temp to score with so just write me something real quick.” So I wrote… um… actually I was listening to a lot of U2 at the time and I said, I’m gonna do something like Joshua Tree, or influenced by Joshua Tree, because I just love that band. And so I wrote two queues just so he’d have something to put in there and he put them everywhere and he didn’t wanna change them. Then I was like “No dude, I didn’t really score it, that was just for you.” And he said “No, it works perfectly. Trust me.” Then I finally sat down and watched a cut and I was like “Okay, you’re right.” That was the problem with producing because I was coming from a completely different mindset than when you just compose and it completely threw me for a loop.

TC: Complacent was your first producer credit right?
CJ: Yeah.

TC: I talked to Steven about it a little bit. Wasn’t Complacent something he had on the back burner for a while?
CJ: Yeah, well you know it all came about so strangely. We were at a Christmas party at his house and we started talking and stuff and were kind of like “Ok, well maybe we can put this thing together.” It took a lot of favors and a lot of sweat and I can’t believe Complacent actually came out because it was so… well I was always confident in Steven but we just didn’t have a lot of preproduction time and the budget was so minimal and everyone just came in, I mean like Adrienne Barbeau, Cerina Vincent and Kerry Green and all those guys just came in and were just amazing. Amazing people to work with, it was really cool.

TC: All of those are pretty familiar faces to y’all.
CJ: Yeah, I was really nervous when I met Adrienne, you know, because I’m such a John Carpenter fan. The Fog and Escape From New York and all that, I met her and I didn’t even tell her who I was. She said “And you are who?” [laughs] She had this little grin on her face because she knew I was nervous. I was just being a dork.

TC: How many projects have y’all actually done together?
CJ: Hmm, let’s see… It Waits, Left in Darkness, Sasquatch Mountain, Dual, Complacent, Spit… I’m forgetting something. And Michael, I don’t know if you’ve seen Michael’s film, God’s Ears yet.

TC: I have not, (I have since watched it… FABULOUS!) but I want to so bad.
CJ: It’s really good.

TC: Michael sent me a link a while back to hulu.com where you can watch it and it had all the… you have to set up an account and all that and I just haven’t had a second to spare to do that. But I plan on doing that very soon.
CJ: Yeah, it’s a nice story. They did a really good job on it.

TC: Are you working on that ‘Love in a Texas Sky’ with him or is that just Michael Worth?
CJ: That’s one we’ve been trying to… that was gonna be our second production and now we’re talking about doing maybe, kind of a supernatural thriller instead. It’s just easier to market than dramas. We all love dramas but they’re not big sellers. It’s kinda one of those things that if we can get [stupid recording crapped out] Both of them are so great though, just great scripts. We wanna do Texas down in Austin.

TC: You’ve done a lot of work on video games too.
CJ: Yeah, I have.

TC: Is there a big difference between doing the score for a movie as opposed to a video game?
CJ: Yeah quite a bit in a sense that, whereas in a movie it’s kind of the storyline that dictates everything. Like if there’s a lot of dialogue you really try to… I usually, I hate even being in on dialogue unless it’s suppose to be something really impactful to the viewer then you kinda sneak something in. Video games are so stage and level driven that… like on The Punisher we got to really like just write it just balls to the wall. [stupid recording crapped out AGAIN] There’s a lot of action so you didn’t really have to pay attention to that type of thing. So, dramatically it’s really different but they’re both equally as much fun to do.

TC: I have to say before I started reviewing films, I never even paid attention to the music in a film because it was always more of a visual thing for me. Then you go and read other reviews and people are talking about the music and I started paying more attention. I told Steven the same thing, with Left in Darkness, I didn’t really care for the story itself but with the music that you did and the direction that he gave it with the lighting and all just brought it to a whole new level and saved it for me.
CJ: Oh cool.

TC: I’d love to go back and watch all of these now so I can pay more attention to the music. Sasquatch Mountain is one of my favorites that you guys did and for the life of me I can’t get the music in my head, if that makes sense.
CJ: You know, that’s actually a compliment because you don’t… as a composer I don’t want the music getting in the way of the story. Then I haven’t done my job. I’m supposed to support it or kind of give it an emotion. You know, Steven will say “make this more melancholy or something right here.” So you kinda don’t want people noticing it and that’s part of the difficulty of film scoring. It’s probably the most difficult thing to do is to get in and out without people noticing.

TC: You also do a lot of work with Bill Plympton as well right? How did you get in with him?
CJ: You know I got in with Bill and Steven the exact same way and it’s the way everyone says you can’t, I sent them a demo and they listened to it. I was very lucky in that respect because everyone told me you can’t just blindly send demos to people and I said “well I gotta do something.” And I still do it to this day. But the first thing I did with Bill was Hair High and he called me and said… well I was actually at home in Oklahoma with my brother who is a big fan of Bill’s… but he called and I said “Bill Plympton?” and my brother looked at me and said “Are you shitting me!?” [laughs]. He just needed a cut off my demo to license to fill in spot that he needed music for to finish the film, and I said “Great”. Then he called again and asked if he could use some more of this music for this and I said, “No. I will score it for you but no, you’re not licensing anymore.” I wasn’t quite that direct with Bill but that’s kind of the short version. Since then, I’ve worked on pretty much everything he’s done. The last two projects we did he was on the short list for the Oscar and it was so disappointing we didn’t get it.

TC: Is there a big difference between scoring for a regular movie as opposed to an animated movie?
CJ: There is a difference. I mean generally you kind of think about the same things. You can kind of flex your composer muscle a little bit more because you can, I know that sounds stupid, but you can kind of write maybe some more difficult stuff because with animation you can hit a lot more things. Watch the old Warner Bros. cartoons. Watch it and then rewind it and listen to the music. That music is insanely difficult to play. Since there’s so many hits to make it work it’s a little more difficult. And with Bill it was more of a mixture of modern scoring and old scoring so we kinda did a little bit of both. So it is a little different. You kind of take a different approach but dramatically you still watch out for the same things. If that makes any sense at all.

TC: When you compose music, please forgive me if I sound stupid, is all computerized or do you have an orchestra that you work with?
CJ: God, I wish I had an orchestra. [laughs] You do everything on the computer beforehand. You write it and you mock it up, if there’s no budget for an orchestra, you’re mocking up something that is probably gonna sound like one. If you’re doing an orchestra, it’s a general representation of what it’s gonna sound like once it’s recorded. If it’s gonna stay on the computer, sometimes you have to write it differently because if you write how you would for a real orchestra in a computer, it sounds really bad. The technology is getting better but it’s never gonna be as good as the real thing. On the bigger budgets where I’m helping people out, yeah you usually get the orchestra. The last orchestra thing I helped out with was Vampires Suck and Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.

TC: Have you been keeping up with any of the negative press on ‘I Spit’?
CJ: I do a little bit because I’m really curious to see the pros and then the cons. You’ve got the die hards that say it never should’ve been remade because the original was so great. I personally didn’t think the original was great, I thought it was novel. It was different, it was so 70’s. Some of the best films every made are from the 70’s. I find the dialogue interesting. If someone can champion it with all of their heart or if someone can just say… Oh my God, somebody wrote a review and said that Sarah was too boyish. Can you believe that crap? So, somehow he’s condoning pedophilia now? It’s really interesting how people react and I knew, even when we made Complacent, that it was gonna be a love it or hate it film and Steven’s stuff seems to be that way. He seems to strike a cord with people but with the history of this film I knew it was gonna be a love it or hate it but also as a remake, I think he nailed it. It’s so good.

TC: Horror is good if you don’t take it too seriously, it’s a movie. I’ve read reviews where they attack Steven’s character because of it and it just angers me.
CJ: Yeah, you know Steven didn’t write it for one thing and then you hear, “Steven Monroe’s script”, and it’s like man, you don’t know how movies are made. The director does get all the kudos so he also takes a lot of shit. He looks at it like that’s his baby and he’ll take it but a lot of people give directors shit that don’t have anything to do with the decision making.

TC: I know as far as ‘I Spit’, the decision to make it was already made before Steven was even brought in so it wasn’t even his idea to remake it.
CJ: You know he didn’t tell me for the longest time that he was doing it then he told me he got it and I was like, “are you kidding me?” He fought like hell to get me and Neil Lisk in on that. You know we lost Neil a couple of months ago? He was such a sweetheart. It was very sad. He was such a hard working guy. He had such a good eye. He and Steven were really great friends and they could trust each other and they had the dialogue and you know…

TC: That’s another thing I love about you guys. Y’all have done so much work together and I think that to do good work, you have to have people around you that you trust.
CJ: Yeah, definitely. I’ve been really lucky that Steven took me on and kept me on and has fought for me when he could. He introduced me to Michael because he and Michael were friends before. I think I’ve done two films with Michael, War Wolves and God’s Ears and he wrote Dual. But it is so hard to make it to the next level out here and Steven is on the cusp right now with I Spit where he’s got nice offers coming in and stuff but as soon as he gets to that next level he’s got all these people on top of him saying, “you need to use these people and these people and these people”. And that really happens to a lot of people that helped someone… and that’s not any fault of the people… if someone told Steven, “I’m making a 15 million dollar movie and you’re my director but I’m picking your crew,” what do you say to that? You either don’t work or you work and if he said he was doing this film but they want a different composer, I’d say take the damn film. You’ve got a family to take care of, do it. There’s not question about it, I’d support him 100%. Would I love to do the film? Heck yeah but it’s not always reality.

TC: And that says a lot about your character as well because not everyone would say that.
CJ: There’s a backstory to that… I am a five year cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage 4 Non Hodgkin Lymphoma about five years ago. I’m perfectly fine now and I don’t keep it secret but I don’t advertise it as well. Sometimes it hurts your career. Some people don’t wanna work with that and it’s usually someone who’s lost somebody with it and that’s a lot of people. But I remember when I was first diagnosed I did Left in Darkness, I think I was diagnosed two weeks before I started scoring it. Steven said, “I want you to do this.” I said “Okay, I’ll do it.” My wife didn’t understand how I could watch that with all that I was going through but it was keeping me busy. Following that, a few months later we did Dual and it was a little further into the treatment and the further you go into treatment the more debilitating it becomes. It’s just more exhausting. Steven said, “Look, we need a score for this to try to get it into Sundance. If you can’t do it we’ll throw someone else in there and we’ll wait for you. “ That’s the kind of guy we’re talking about. Ever since he said that to me I’m like… I knew we could get along, we understood each other’s dialogue, when he’d point at the screen and say “I need this”. We had that kind of rapport almost instantly… but when he said that thing I knew I was dealing with someone pretty damn special. First of all, he could’ve just found somebody else, instantly, and who would’ve blamed him? That was the reason I talked to him when we started doing the Complacent project. If I was gonna do it, I wanted it to be me and him. I didn’t wanna do it with just anybody. He would probably brush off all that and blah, blah, blah but that’s the kind of person we’re dealing with. He and his wife are pretty special people.

TC: I’m gonna forgo my horror roots for one review and put out something on Complacent.
CJ: Oh cool, you know that’s been one that people have either loved it or hated it. It’s not a happy story, there’s some hope at the end but it’s not a happy story. It’s like a 40-something story. You know we were thinking of people our age and stuff that they go through. To watch Steven work with those guys, I would be off… like the dinner scenes… I’d be just around the corner watching. It was really organic and it was just really cool to be there.

TC: Is that the first time you were on set while a film was being shot?
CJ: I was on set for Left in Darkness for a little bit.

TC: That was one of the Stephen J. Cannell films you guys worked on?
CJ: Yeah, that was the last one we did with him. He was really nice. I went up to him and told him I was a big fan and that I grew up with his stuff and he was cordial. The thing I remember about him most was that if there was candy in the room… and he was just the fittest guy, he worked out all the time, just svelt… and I remember we were at the dub for Left in Darkness and he would just horde all the jelly beans or whatever candy was out. It was just one of those things that if he was talking to you, he had a handful of candy.

TC: You've done quite a bit of work in the horror genre. Is that a genre you've been into for a while?
CJ: I’ve been a horror fan since I was probably five or six, I can’t remember. Whatever year Prophecy came out. The kind of nature gone wild movie. They were on an Indian reservation and some company was dumping stuff in the water supply and it started basically deforming some of the people. Then some creature developed out of it. I remember I went to see that when I was really young and I couldn’t sleep for three days after that. I have no idea how it stands up today but ever since then I’ve always liked horror.

I want to extend every thanks to Corey for taking the time to call in and for putting up with my ramblings (not seen here). When I hung up the phone, I had a whole new respect for music in film and the effort that goes into something that is purposely tucked away in the background. One thing is certain, if life really had background music, I'd want Corey A. Jackson to compose mine.

10 March 2011

Dreadful Hallowgreen To Wow Wonderfest

Horror Host Howl As Halloween Comes Early For Wonderfest March 10, 2011

The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special will be making a special big screen appearance at this years Wonderfest during the Saturday Night Chiller Cinema Live Event hosted by Dr. Gangrene.

This marks the big screen debut for the Dreadful Hallowgreen Special after its television premiere last October on stations all around the country. The show was met with critical acclaim, and currently is nominated for best short film at The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special pairs TV horror hosts Penny Dreadful & Dr. Gangrene together. The duo finds themselves readying for the upcoming Halloween season when suddenly all things go awry. It’s up to the physician of fright, Dr. Gangrene, and the eerie enchantress, Penny Dreadful, to set things right and save Halloween for everyone in this half hour special. Narrated by Washington DC’s legendary horror host Count Gore De Vol, this Halloween treat is packed with fright.

The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special is a co-production of Shackle Island Studios and Peculiar Productions. Cast and crew members from Dr. Gangrenes Creature Feature, and Penny Dreadful’s Shilling Shockers produced segments in both Massachusetts and Tennessee, as well as California and Washington D.C.. The special was co-directed by Cameron McCasland and Rebecca Paiva.

McCasland said of the event. “We’re so glad to have an opportunity to share The Dreadful Hallowgreen with everyone at Wonderfest. Dr. Gangrene promises a great show, with some special treats that won’t be available again. This simply is not to be missed.”

The Wonderfest crowd is in for a special treat, as the big screen cut of Dreadful Hallowgreen features all new scenes that didn’t air on television. It is the first picture on a double bill with the Roger Corman classic Star Crash. The event will be hosted by Dr. Gangrene, and the star of Star Crash Caroline Munro will be in attendance to introduce the feature.

Wonderfest will be held may 14-15th 2011 in Louisville, KY. Wonderfest is an international hobby event now in its 22nd year that celebrates the art of movie monster artists, and model makers. For more information please visit www.wonderfest.com.

The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, named after 1940s character actor Rondo Hatton, are a completely fan voted event that promotes scholarship and preservation. Rondo honors the best in film, television, and publishing in the Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy genres.The Awards are overseen by USA Today front page editor David Colton, and presented by the Classic Horror Film Board. Voting for the Rondo Awards ends on Saturday March 27, 2011. For more information and to view the full ballot, please visit www.rondoaward.com.

Penny Dreadful’s Shilling Shockers, set to premiere it’s 8th season, is based in New England and airs in over 150 cities. Penny Dreadful is portrayed by Danielle Gelehrter who, in 2007, was awarded the prize for Favorite Horror Host by the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

Dr. Gangrene’s Creature Feature airs on its home station WNAB CW58 in Nashville TN. Dr. Gangrene is portrayed by Larry Underwood. The Good Doctor has been shocking the Scare-waves since 1999. His programs have won countless praise and have been nominated for two Emmy Awards for Public Service.

For more information on Dr Gangrene or Penny Dreadful please visit www.drgangrene.com and www.shillingshockers.com.

05 March 2011

Complacent 2010 - REVIEW


Yes, yes, I know, this is a horror site but as Bleaux Leaux says "all horror all the time can stunt the creative process". So, I decided to venture outside my comfort zone and take on a drama by one of my new favorite directors, Steven R. Monroe. I'm sure it's obvious by now how I feel about Monroe, Corey A. Jackson and Michael Worth, they're "my guys" and so I struggled with whether or not I could objectively review this film. With that said, I distanced myself from all of that and watched it again and I'm confident that I can give a fair review without leaning toward one side or the other.

Complacent is a portrait of the middle American lifestyle. The 9 to 5 at a desk job, cookie-cutter homes with manicured lawns, golf three times a week, Florida vacation each year with the family. Only problem.... No one loves the other.... No one strives for more.... No one sees outside his or her own front yard.... They just coast... Question is, can you really go through life like this without deteriorating from the inside? Myah (Cerina Vincent) decides that you can't, you have to do more, want more, care more and it sets off a chain of events within the group of friends that is at times amusing and at times heartbreaking, but eventually fatal in both reality and metaphor.

Filmmakers have to be confident in the cast they choose. Monroe has done lots of work with Vincent and Worth and he knows that when he puts a script in their hands, they're gonna knock it outta the park. Which is exactly what they did. They have an amazing onscreen chemistry that makes it possible for them to play off each other's strengths.
In fact, the entire cast gave stellar performances but it was Keir O'Donnell who stole the show. His portrayal of the dedicated but betrayed family man was spot on. As a viewer, I always want to be able to relate to a character and he nailed the emotion that comes along with it.
Elisa Donovan plays the disrespectful, alcoholic adulteress to a tee. It's evident by their performances that this is a couple in trouble. They also have an onscreen chemistry that helps a lot in the progression of the story.
Kerri Green plays Beth, the dependent, mentally abused housewife who wants nothing but to keep the peace between the two sides of her family. She does a great job in this and shows just how much she's matured as an actress since her role in The Goonies. Her character is easily relatable and from the get go you sympathize with her.
Joey Kern is Robert, the controlling business exec who would rather spend his days golfing than with his family. His performance was probably the weakest of the bunch but still good.
Monroe's wife, Melanie and Christopher Showermancome in as the only happily married couple of the bunch. Their characters aren't really explored that deeply and I'm assuming it's because they ARE happily married.

Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age but this film was like an emotional roller coaster for me and I think it's because I can relate to each couple in one way or another. I've been the happily married person. I've been the mentally and physically abused wife. I've been cheated on. I've had the white knight ride in and rescue me so as far as storyline, I feel like Monroe did a great job capturing the despair of the differing situations. He also utilizes the moving/shaking camera shots well which seem to draw the viewer into the story more with a kind of personal POV.
Corey A. Jackson, in his first producer role, also did the score and in my opinion, it brings a very powerful feel of desperation to the film. It also just goes to show you how the simplest of scores can make or break a film.

There is no gray area with this one, you either like it or you don't. It's slow paced with a lot of music overlayed shots of the characters contemplating their situations. I found it engrossing and sad and at times shockingly realistic. One part in particular had me covered in goose bumps because I felt for every character involved. Again, this is why I don't watch dramas. More often than not they have no affect on me but occasionally, I'll watch one that hits a little too close to home and forces me to deal with emotions that were put away a long time ago. Monroe does give the audience a little glimmer of hope at the end but don't go into it looking for a happy ending because it's just not there. Obviously, there will be people who disagree with me and that's ok. I'm smart enough to know that it's quite possible my emotions are fueling my fondness for this film. Regardless, it's a film that has done to me exactly what Monroe intended it to. It got in my head and played with my emotions and stuck there. Kudos to Monroe and everyone else for delivering a raw, eye opening film that I enjoyed very much.

03 March 2011

Steven R. Monroe


I recently had the pleasure of talking with Steven R. Monroe director of I Spit on Your Grave 2010 but unfortunately due to technical difficulties... ok operator error... our interview didn't record. However, the show must go on and out of respect for the completely awesome and totally underrated Mr. Monroe, I felt I should do something about it. I'm not 100% certain that this is THAT something but I felt that ignoring it would just make me seem lazy. Believe me when I say I'm insanely mad at myself and embarrassed that I blew it but I will do my best to give him the credence he deserves.

After over an hour on the phone, I can no longer say I'm a fan of Steven R. Monroe's films... I'm now a fan of HIS. Not only is he a fantastic filmmaker, he is one of the most down to earth people I've ever had the pleasure to talk with.
You may be saying, "eh, she's just saying that because he is who he is", and I'd have to say, you don't know me very well. I'm not the easiest person in the world to impress. I've dealt with a lot in my life and I have a pretty thick skin but Steven got to me. He has spent his entire life in the industry, his mother was a theater producer/director, his father was a cameraman and his sister is a respected editor. You'd think he'd have a bit of a chip on his shoulder but he doesn't. He loves his job and he loves his fans and he works damn hard to put together something that touches, inspires or sticks with fans of all genres.

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of remakes, they're either poorly done by directors and actors who are just looking for a paycheck or they're just taken in a completely different direction in which case, to me anyway, they shouldn't be called a remake. Steven, also not a big fan of remakes, stuck close to the story line of I Spit and did so with grace and elegance. He's taken a lot of shit from a lot of people who want to attack his character (which pisses me off) regarding the film but he also realizes what he signed on for when he made the decision to do it. He handles the criticism like a pro and says that he only wishes people would do their research before busting out a review or slamming him personally.
As for the cast of I Spit, he says from the very beginning he wanted to do it with a lesser known cast because he felt a big name would do more harm than good. He's also extremely defensive/protective of them when it comes to reviewers critiquing them in a negative way. He doesn't understand how anyone could watch this film and say that those actors did a poor job.

We also discussed in detail his work on the SyFy originals. His most recent work, Jabberwocky is done filming and they are in the process now of adding the CG to it. As far as an air date, all he could tell me was some time in the Fall 2011. Jabberwocky stars Tahmoh Penikett, Michael Worth, Kacey Barnfield and Raffaello Degruttola and chronicles the story of a young squire along with his brother must become a warrior to save his people and the woman he loves after a horrific beast is unleashed on the Kingdom.
Other SyFy originals under Steven's belt are Mongolian Death Worm, Ice Twisters, Wyvern, Ogre, and, one of my favorites, Sasquatch Mountain.


He spoke fondly of the friends and coworkers that he's lost along the way. He described them all as great people to know and work with. Neil Lisk was his long time friend and director of photography on many films including I Spit. He did a couple of films for Stephen J. Cannell and had the pleasure (I'm way jealous) of working with the very talented Dennis Hopper.

He's not all horror and SciFi though. He's working closely with Michael Worth to get a drama called Love in a Texas Sky up and running. He says it's something that he's wanted to do for a long time and now has the opportunity to get it started. He's also teamed up one again with composer/producer Corey A. Jackson, Michael Worth and actress Cerina Vincent on a drama called Complacent about a group of friends living the average American lifestyle until they're forced to deal with all the underlying issues in their relationships.

Although I may have failed at bringing you this interview, rest assured that Steven will never let you down. He's proven that he can take even the meekest of scripts and give it new life with his direction. He cares about his fans and wants nothing more than to please them, you, us, visually. Personally, I haven't watched any of his work and thought "Man this is shit,". He works hard at what he does and stands behind what he does 100%. He'll let the haters keep on hating and he'll just keep doing what he's doing. Why not? He ROCKS at it!
Much thanks to Steven for taking time out of his schedule to talk with me... even if I did fuck it up... it was definitely a pleasure and the highlight of my reviewing/blogging career. I look forward to seeing your next project!!