Here We Are Again


It’s been an awfully long time since I used this blog. It’s not because I was deliberately neglecting it. There have been many reasons. First of which was all the things I have been doing. Back in November I embarked on directing my second short film, Terrestrial, starring Bill Oberst Jr. and a few faces from Lepus. The shoot was quite an ordeal. I had such a bad migraine on day one that I began vomiting that morning. The next few days were smooth. Since we shot it there have been some stumbling blocks. The editor’s mom fell ill causing the first pause in completion. Then we started shooting an ill conceived improv web series and put Terrestrial on the back burner yet again. I stepped away from the series after two very stressful shoots. By that time I had accepted the position of Film Festival Coordinator for Phoenix Comicon and it consumed a lot of my time. In what little downtime I had between work and an con duties I was the subject of a short documentary about fathers and sons. It was a very cathartic thing for my father and me. All the while I have been working on writing scripts for a sitcom based loosely on my family and a horror film about demons. The latter is going to be a big collaborative effort between myself and some old and new friends. I’m very excited about it.

So let’s get to talking about each thing individually. First Terrestrial. I have talked about the movie briefly on here before. Bill was fantastic. The rest of the cast was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to make this with. Everyone was awesome. Bill’s performance was at times childlike, murderous and evil, funny and creepy. It’s got sides of his talent rarely seen on screen. We will be getting back to finishing this up very soon. I’m excited to get people to see it. As for the rest of the cast what can I say? Willman Vergara Jr. was someone I wanted to work with on Lepus but couldn’t find a good spot for. I’m so glad we found a place for him on this one. Randy Robinson and RJ Markham, who were both in Lepus, came back for more twisted fun and did a wonderful job. Everyone was very well prepared and kept us moving ahead of schedule. They were on point with their characters and delightfully funny.

As for the next bit. It’s a sore subject and I really don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or offend when I speak of it. It was a web series about ghost hunting called Specter Quest. The reason I say it was ill conceived is because we all seemed to have different ideas of what it should be and how to get there we didn’t stick to the plan I laid out. They have decided to continue on without me. And I wish them the best of luck with it.

Phoenix Comicon was a great experience this year. It was my first year as Film Festival Coordinator and it couldn’t have gone better if I actually knew what I was doing. The film selections were better than ever this year. We even had the chance to screen a little seen movie called Moontrap from the 80’s starring Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig. Campbell was kind enough to come up to the film festival unannounced and do a little introduction to the film, much to the delight of the audience…and the staff. We had some standout movies and shorts this year. Jessica Cameron sent me her directorial debut, Truth Or Dare, to screen at the con. It’s a shame she and the cast and crew couldn’t be there. We had something happen I had never seen with my own eyes before. Two grown men came out of the screening room looking weak and pale. Both nearly threw up at what they had seen. It was incredible. I met some very talented and great people this year working at the con. I have been volunteering for years but this is the first time having this level of responsibility. I can’t wait for next year.

I was anxious to work on another movie. I have wanted to experience what it’s like to work on a documentary so I responded to an ad. I met the director for dinner. We got to talking and he wanted to make something about fathers and sons and estrangement. My father and I have had some serious ups and downs over the years. There were years at a time I refused to talk to him. Other times he was so messed up on drugs he was stealing my belongings and selling them for drug money. He even tried to convince a Mexican former boxer that I was calling him “spick” and “wetback” behind his back just to get this boxer to beat me up. My dad has been sober for more than four years now and was recently married to a great woman. I was his best man. We’ve worked out most of our issues. I asked my dad if he’d be a part of this documentary and he immediately agreed. In fact, he almost started crying before I could even tell him fully what it was all about. He hasn’t seen it yet but I am very proud of it. It was not my project. It belongs to a new friend. I am excited to continue it on. He wants to stretch it into a feature at some point and add in new subjects.

Finally, without giving too much away, I want to talk about a new movie I’m working on right now. We have a title. We have the story. We all just need to sit down and put it into proper screenplay format. I will say this – it’s about demons. It’s technically an anthology film but more in the vein of Pulp Fiction or The Signal. Each story carries over characters from previous shorts and they are all connected into one large story. I will only be directing one or two parts. The others are being done by some other new friends, one I met through Phoenix Comicon. He had a great eye when it came to making something visually striking with very little. The short I want him to do may actually be a silent film with a healthy dose of violence, kidnapping and maybe a little sex. Each story deals with a different kind of demon. We have stories ranging from half demon babies to a man everyone believes to be schizophrenic to a crossroads demon story. We’re really looking forward to our first script meeting in a few short days.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll be back soon. I kinda promise.

 

Lepus Is Part Of Scream Machine!


Alrighty folks, from the start it has been talked about that we would be a part of something once Lepus was finished shooting. Well, as it turns out that something is a feature called Scream Machine. The other shorts were all done by former horror host Scarlet Fry. He and our DP David Sabal had worked together on all the other shorts. They were looking to add another one to the line-up before they put this baby to bed. Because Brian Smith and I are friends with David and happened to show him a script right around the same time he jumped at it and off we went. 

I don’t know how we got so lucky to be able to get distribution on our first short film but it happened. We also got incredibly lucky with our cast. It’s been amazing how things went for us. Just a few months ago Brian and I were feeling dejected because nobody even wanted to read our feature script, “Welcome To Deadsville”. Now, Tyler Gallant wants to star as the lead in it. He wants to make the proposed sequels to “Lepus” and he wants Brian and me to collaborate on a feature he and Kat Garcia came up with. And, about a month ago, I was talking to Bill Oberst Jr. about “Welcome To Deadsville” and he wants us to keep him in mind when we are ready to shoot. I would love for him to play the Phil character. Things are looking good. 

We still have a couple pick up shots to do. The biggest thing is just making sure my sister’s death scene is sufficiently gory. Unfortunately we have to wait about a week or so for David to get back from Boston to shoot it. There are a bunch of photos from the last night of shooting up at our Facebook page. There are a lot of great shots of Victoria Paege dressed like a sexy nurse before, during and after she gets all bloodied up and bruised. Also, you can check out the iMDb page. It’s still not complete yet. There are a few fixes to be made. First, I am listed as an actor in it but when you click on my name it goes to some kid in Texas. Not me. Second, Brian’s credit somehow got attached to a different Brian E. Smith. Third, my director credit isn’t up yet. Otherwise everything else is there. Go check it out, “like” it, and come to Phoenix Comicon for the premiere!

Why Did I Watch Dead Heat?


During the dark period of Saturday Night Live there was only one reason to watch – Eddie Murphy. Period. I know Hollywood wanted Joe Piscapo to be a star until they realized what SNL viewers already knew…he was bland. There is nothing he has ever done that people look back on with fondness. Even Jon Lovitz has Mom & Dad Save The World. And, let’s face it, that really is a bad movie.

Dead Heat stars Piscapo and Treat Williams as a couple of boring cops doing boring cop stuff. Then criminals won’t die when the LAPD uses excessive force. Eventually we discover they are the undead. Then Williams and Piscapo join the undead ranks and fight against their own kind to bring down their crime spree.

This was supposed to be an action comedy yet the action sucked and the comedy wasn’t funny. I tried to think back to what made me laugh as a child to see if it made the movie better. It didn’t. In fact, I couldn’t think of a single kind thing to say about this movie other than Treat Williams seemed to really be trying to elevate the material to something he wouldn’t be ashamed of.

When I had the chance to interview Bill Oberst Jr. he told me that about how he goes into some movies with the best intentions. He said Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies was a good script that was hampered by budget. I believe that. I don’t know if that was the case with Dead Heat or if it was an inexperienced director making bad choices. Either way the finished product was not good. I like Williams. His performance in Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead was amazing. His performance in Dead Heat was good. I’m really liking what he’s doing on White Collar right now. It’s just a shame that his promising career in the 80’s was destroyed by this kind of mediocre material.

I harbor no ill will toward the writers, director, or stars of this film other than the fact that I wastes an hour and a half of my time watching it. This movie gets 1/2 star out of 5. It’s painful to sit through.

The Gorram Nerd Hour Video Podcast


The Gorram Nerd Hour Video Podcast

This is a link to the video podcast for The Gorram Nerd Hour with our very special guest, Mr. Bill Oberst Jr. who joined us for the first half of the show. We reviewed Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies with him there. It was a lot of fun. But don’t take my word for it. Just watch it. 

If you like what you see go “like” our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour

Video Interviews From Rapture Horror Expo


It only took a week for my friends to get the video interviews posted from Rapture Horror Expo. Not only are there 9 video interviews with the likes of Betsy Rue and Jake Busey, there is also video of our podcast featuring the funny and talented Bill Oberst Jr. as well. The Gorram Nerd Hour is quickly making a name for itself in the world of podcasts.

Also, tune in tomorrow to hear Brian forget everything he wanted to talk about, me sing part of the theme song to “My Secret Identity”, as well as make fun of Jaime Ruiz for his Ewok hat. That one will be posted tomorrow.

And next week we have a special treat for Star Wars fans. My friend Dave Attaberry will stopping in to argue with me about episodes 1-3. You can find it all at http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour or http://gorramnerdhour.blogspot.com, audio and video.

My Thoughts On Rapture Horror Expo


This weekend was a long one. But it was great. The Expo hit a few snags along the way. KB, the director of the Expo, put the whole thing together in record time. Normally when putting together a convention of any sort you want to have roughly nine months. This affords you time to get all your ducks in a row. You can schedule guests, make sure the panels are secured, and you have to get the word out. From what I understand they put this all together in under four months. That is amazing.

Sadly, this means there are going to be parts that are going to be a little disorganized. Even working at Phoenix Comicon where people never stop organizing and prepping all year long there seems to be snags and disorganization every year. It’s unavoidable. The important thing is to keep your head up and power through to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for your guests. And Rapture accomplished that.

There was another uphill battle they had to fight. I will not name names but I will say that there were people out there spreading fear about coming to the Expo, claiming it may be cancelled. It was all over Facebook. Some folks that I talked to said that they were going to buy the full event pass for $35 and didn’t because of what they read. This cut the profits of the Expo down considerably. It’s a shame this talk got started because the people who came to the Expo really seemed to enjoy it.

There were events at the convention center that ran through the evening including the screening of The Black Dahlia Haunting. There was also a lot to do at Monsterland in downtown Mesa. I was lucky enough to see the band First Jason perform a few tracks before having to leave on Friday. I was too tired, unfortunately, to see the burlesque show performed last night.

As far as guests I have to say that the highlights for me were Bill Oberst Jr., Jake Busey, Jessica Cameron and Devanny Pinn. They were all so nice. I was able to talk for a few minutes to Betsy Rue, star of My Bloody Valentine. You will want to see that interview. I was not about to ask any of these women about their nude scenes but she brought it up and talked in detail about her scenes in My Bloody Valentine. She was really open and fun about it. Brooke Lewis was a great deal of fun to talk to. Her work as an actress is fascinating but she doesn’t want to limit herself. She has also become a motivational speaker and a life coach. She talked to me about that for a while. Everyone was so nice and willing to talk. There was a wonderfully open atmosphere on the floor that was given off by all of the guests.

I want to make sure I give a quick thank you to everyone that helped put this together – KB, you were awesome. Thank you for the opportunity. Kara, without you we would have been lost. Thank you. Chadington, what you did for Rob Edwards was amazing. You rock. Thank you. Bill Oberst Jr., you gave us our best show yet. We love you and will watch even the most terrible movies if you’re in them. Thank you. Jake Busey, you gave me a great 15 minutes and you were just plain cool. Thank you. Devanny Pinn, keep doing what you do. Making movies on the cheap and making them look pretty is a hard thing to do but you’re doing it. And I love your enthusiasm. Thank you. Jessica Cameron, you gave us not one but two interviews now. You are so sweet and we really want to see Shadow. We love your work. Keep it coming. Thank you. Ari Lehman, from acting to music to your love of the craft you’re just an all around cool guy. And thanks for the bumper. Brooke Lewis, even if you never act again what you’re doing is amazing. We love you for it. Thank you. Tommy Piech, watching you work crafting a zombie was amazing. You have something for sure. I can’t wait to see where you go from here. Thank you. I know I have probably left people out and I’m sorry. My brain is fried right now from the weekend. But I have to thank a couple more people. Tony and David, if it hadn’t been for you this would not have gone as smoothly. Plus we got free sandwiches at Denny’s. Thank you both. This leaves Brian. I’m not gonna sing Wind Beneath My Wings but we make a damn good team. I had a lot of fun this weekend. I don’t know that I would have wanted to do this if it hadn’t been for you.

A New Installment Of The Gorram Nerd Hour, Yes Please


Today marks the day that our latest episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour hits web in many streaming and downloadable ways. You find it on http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour, http://gorramnerdhour.blogspot.com, and even iTunes. Go check it out.

As I mentioned before we talked about many things that may interest horror, science fiction, and genre fans. We had Bill Oberst Jr. with us live. He was amazing. He joined as we reviewed Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies and encouraged us not to hold back in the review. He also Hung out and talked with us for a while after that. He was really funny and told us about how he gets offered mostly psychos, rapists, and creeps because of his look. We would love to get our feature film going and fast him in a role we think he would do amazing in.

After that we talked about the rumors of Tom Cruise leaving Scientology for love, priests, Robocop vs. racism, and then had a couple other guests. It was the first time we did video with our podcast as well. Unfortunately we can’t make that a regular thing yet but maybe in the future. We rounded out the show by talking to a few other people – the folks behind the upcoming web series called The Dead Inside about a prison filled with zombies, and our own Randy Robinson came in to talk about our upcoming short film Lepus in which he appears. There’s also a huge announcement about our Lepus star and what he’s doing right now. It’s huge! I promise you that this is our best episode to date. It will be available tomorrow on the website as well as Stitcher and iTunes. Don’t miss it.

A Quick Update From Rapture Horror Expo


Things have been going well at Rapture Horror Expo this weekend. They could have been a little better. Unfortunately they ran into some snags and a few guests dropped out at the last minute prompting a rumor the show was being cancelled and so attendance was a bit low.

They still had a lot for people to do, though. Brian and I worked like crazy to provide you, the readers and listeners of the podcast, with some great stuff. First off we recorded yesterday morning with special guest Bill Oberst Jr. who told us up front we didn’t have to hold back when reviewing Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies on the show. He stayed and talked with us for the first half of the show. After that we talked with guys producing an upcoming web series called The Dead Inside. Then Randy Robinson who will be playing the coroner in Lepus popped in to say hello. Not only did we record audio for the podcast but also video. The audio will be up tomorrow. The video portion will be up later in the week.

Besides the podcast we also went around and talked to some very nice people in the horror community. Brooke Lewis, actress/motivational speaker/life coach was nice enough to talk to me for a while. I had a chance to interview Betsy Rue from Halloween 2, True Blood and My Bloody Valentine. She talked about being naked so much in Valentine without any prompting from me. Jessica Cameron, whom we spoke with in episode 3 of the podcast, was nice enough to a video interview with me. Ari Lehman, the very first Jason from the original Friday The 13th, talked to me about his experiences as well as his band called First Jason. I also got to see his band perform at Monsterland in Downtown Mesa.

Today I will be getting a few more interviews. Devinny Pinn will be talking to me about The Black Dahlia Haunting which had it’s southwestern premiere at the Expo last night. I’m also going to try and talk to Erik Marie Hogan from Paranormal Entity and hopefully Brian Pulido.

All our video interviews will be up hopefully by the end of the week. Check them out at http://gorramnerdhour.blogspot.com and don’t forget to like our Facebook page http://facebook.com/TheGorramNerdHour

A Haunting In Salem


This concludes our Bill Oberst Jr. trifecta. A Haunting In Salem is another “quality” production from The Asylum, the makers of Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies. This movie was directed by Shane Van Dyke, the sale director of Paranormal Entity. Salem treads familiar ground. It’s about a family who moves into a bit old house and strange things begin to happen. This has been done so many times it is nearly impossible to keep track. Salem takes its cues most notably from The Amityville Horror. The strange things happen, the dad starts to go crazy, and things get bad. Once again Bill Oberst Jr. was the bright spot in a film far below his talent level. It seems that Van Dyke has found a pretty comfortable home at Asylum making these types of films and that’s fine. There does seem to be a market for them. But, from what I have seen, he won’t go from making Troma level productions to helming a Marvel movie anytime soon. And that’s fine. I don’t mean that to sound cruel. I just mean that he found his niche and seems to be comfortable with it. The performance of Carrie, the wife of Oberst’s character, played by Courtney Abbiati was also very good. The problem, like the previous Van Dyke film I reviewed, was the lack of subtlety. It was shot in a way that answers questions before you have a chance to ask them. I couldn’t ever get into the movie. Instead I just sort of kept looking at my wrist wondering why I wasn’t wearing a watch so I could wonder how much longer the movie was. I’m still going to be nice here and award it two stars, not because of the movie but the performances that elevated it from unwatchable to “it’s good background noise for an insomniac”. So to sum up – Asylum movies bad, Bill Oberst Jr. isn’t, and neither is the rest of the cast. 2 out of 5.

Nude Nuns With Big Guns


Getting prepared for Rapture Horror Expo this weekend means I have had to watch some movies I didn’t really want to see. I watch a lot of low budget campy horror and scifi movies but there is still a line. Normally I wouldn’t bother with a movie like Nude Nuns With Big Guns. I watched it because Bill Oberst Jr. was in it and I have only seen The Secret Lives Of Bees and Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies. I wanted the chance to talk about more than that. So I watched it.

Here’s the deal with this movie – it is trying desperately to be a grindhouse style revenge story, something that pushes the bounderies of good taste and delivers campy fun. Instead it became a Robert Rodriguez film without any of the style or flair. The movie opens with a bus full of priests and nuns driving through the desert to meet the leader of a motorcycle gang. The music in the opening scene sounded like they lifted opening music from Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and changed 1% of it just to keep from getting sued. Later there is a scene that appears to be lifted from Desperado if you took out the enjoyablity and pinache of watching Cheech Marin and Steve Buschemi play off each other. It was as if they took all the things that worked when Rodriguez did them and found a way to make them fail.

The small saving grace of the film was Bill Oberst Jr. and his crazy priest character. Mostly silent, Oberst found a way to elevate his all too brief scenes from stupid to disturbing. I don’t how many of my readers saw my review of Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies but Mr. Oberst himself commented and called his movies questionable. That may be true but that doesn’t mean that good actors can’t be in questionable films. Some break out, some become Bruce Campbell. I told him it’s better to be a talented actor in a questionable film than to be Adam Sandler in anything. I hopd to that statement. I would rather watch Lincoln Vs. Zombies on a loop for the rest of my life than watch Jack And Jill or Grown Ups a second time. Unfortunately with Nude Nuns Oberst wasn’t enough to save the movie. He just wasn’t in it long enough to really elevate the material enough to make this film enjoyable.

Part of the problem with this film is tone. It doesn’t know whether to go for the type of campy fun that made Planet Terror, Death Proof, Machete, and Hobo With A Shotgun so enjoyable or if it should go for the feeling of dark, gritty revenge story. Couple that with the blatant theft of scenes from Rodriguez films and this movie gets what may be my lowest rating yet – 1 star out of 5. It got 1 star for Oberst and, of course, nude nuns.