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.

 

We Need A New Iconic Horror Villain!


ImageGrowing up in the 1980’s was awesome. We had great movies genre movies coming out constantly like The Thing and Aliens. But one thing that really made genre movies so special in the 80’s was the glut of iconic horror villains we had to fear. From the 1970’s on through the hayday of the 80’s we had the likes of Leatherface, Freddy, Jason, Michael, Chucky, Pinhead and so many more. To a lesser extent you can include the Predator and the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. These were characters we rooted for, feared and hated all at once. They were wiping out the sinners. They were sparing the pure while making them strong. This was something I still feel that churches should get behind. 

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In most horror films from the 80’s you had a bunch of immoral types likes druggies, drinkers, fornicators and just all around undesirables, Then you had the heroine of the film – a girl filled with chastity and virtue. Who lived and who died? It’s pretty simple, really. The chaste girl always won out in the end. Why? Because she was pure of heart, mind and soul. This should be something the church recognizes and backs. They should want these films made and should show them in Sunday school. After all, most churches try to instill fear into their children to keep them on the straight and narrow. Catholics, I’m talking to you!

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But I got away from my original point. We don’t have iconic villains being created anymore. At best we get inferior remakes of A Nightmare On Elm Street and Halloween. But where are the new guys? Ghostface Killer from Scream? He doesn’t quite fit the bill but he’s close. Jigsaw from Saw? He’s been dead since the third movie. But he’s also a little closer in theme. He did go after sinners, people not living life to their full potential and attempted to purify them. What about the invisible demon from Paranormal Activity? Nope. Although there is the family connection there as there was with so many horror films in the 80’s. Death in Final Destination? Again we never see him. And I always felt they should refer to him as Rube for the elaborate Rube Goldberg style traps we see in each kill. 

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The closest thing we have to 70’s and 80’s style icon is Victor Crawley from Hatchet. He’s one bad mammajamma. But, sadly, the Hatchet films barely get a theatrical release. It’s as if Hollywood doesn’t think we want a new crop of evil baddies…unless they’re remake versions of the originals.

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But here’s my question – is it Hollywood or is it us? What do we want to see? More of the same watered down PG-13 ghost stories, torture porn, or do we want a return to old school horror? I vote for old school. I hope I’m not the only one. I also hope it’s not because I was raised on them.   

That’s all I have to say on the subject until Wednesday when the next edition of The Gorram Nerd Hour hits. You can follow me on Twitter here, here and here. Or find us on Facebook.

The Phoenix Film Festival


Hello everyone,

I have been awfully busy as of late. Between my podcasts, prepping for the premiere of Death By VHS, and trying to get my next short moving forward after some speed bumps slowed me down I have not had much time to blog. Sorry for that. But, if it’s any consolation, I do miss you.

Here’s what’s going on with me right now. Starting today I am going to be spending some time at the Phoenix Film Festival. We were able to score some press passes to the event thanks in part to the wonderful Andrea Beesly. This festival also includes the annual International Horror and SciFi Festival. This year they have Meg Foster coming by to screen They Live, the John Carpenter classic starring Roddy Piper. I’m hoping I get a chance to interview her for you all. If I do it will be up on the Abnormal Entertainment page soon.

Among other guests I am hoping to chat with are DB Sweeney, Teller, Natalie Imbruglia and one of the producers of the Saw franchise. I will try and update you as soon as I can on what we were able to score from our time at the fest.

Also, we are going to be at Phoenix Comicon next month, C4 (a first year comic convention in Ventura, California) in September and the Rapture Horror Expo in October in Tempe. If you are planning to come to any of those shows make sure you come by and say hello. We always love to meet people who listen to either The Gorram Nerd Hour or From The Underground.

More Podcasting Is More Better


Hello everyone,

 

Sorry it’s been a few days since I posted anything. It’s been a busy time. I have been working like crazy. As some may or may not know I’m a cab driver and you can hear a story about that on the latest episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour. Besides working I have been trying to find time to sleep. That hasn’t been happening so instead I’m just throwing myself head first into more podcasts. Besides The Gorram Nerd Hour I have been doing a limited series under the Gorram banner called Holodeck Malfunction with my good friend Isaac Hulke. It’s a show about Star Trek if you couldn’t guess that from the title. 

In each episode of Holodeck Malfunction we pick a series or movie and talk about it for an hour, sometimes two topics. It just depends. We have recorded eight episodes so far and just started putting them up. So, you will be able to hear me twice a week on the Gorram page. You can also hear me and some free music on a new show I’ve started with my friend Ryan Ford. It’s called From The Underground and it will focus on indie bands of all genres. You can read more about it by following the hyperlink above. 

Lastly, I want to talk about the Abnormal Entertainment crew as a whole. These folks are awesome. I love each and every one of them…even Taylor Made from Bank On Action. He may not realize it since I do nothing but make fun of him all the time but I do appreciate him. David Hayes, one of the hosts of Cinema Head Cheese has a new book out. Follow the link on the other pages I’ve already hyperlinked and you’ll find it. It’s called American Guiginol. 

Thanks to everyone at Abnormal Entertainment. I’ve had a blast working with you all and can’t wait to see nearly everyone in one place for Phoenix Comicon.

Notes From The Underground – Some Podcast Updates


I’ve been busy lately. Not only am I prepping my next short film that will be shooting next month after a few delays but I’ve also been doing a lot of stuff in the world of podcasts. I recently talked to a co-worker who happens to be a music promoter here in Arizona. I’ve been wanting to do a music podcast for a while now. It’s something that’s been sorely missing from the Abnormal Entertainment lineup. Well, we found a way to do it. Big thanks to Ryan Ford for helping us get it done. 

The first episode was recorded about a week ago and had been turned in to the big guy at Abnormal. We’ll keep you posted for the date it’s released. The other podcast news is that one of the shows I’ve been sitting on for a while is finally going to see the light of day. My fellow nerd Isaac Hulke and I have secretly been recording a limited series of Star Trek podcasts. The first episode is all about Star Trek: The Original Series. That has also been handed in. You may be hearing a lot from me in the coming weeks. 

If you have a band and you want us to showcase your work on From The Underground send me an email and a sample MP3 and we will see what we can do. If you’re local to Arizona we would love to set something up at our studio for a live acoustic set as well.

A Bad Day To Die Hard


I have a huge love for the original Die Hard. The second movie has its moments as well. The McClane character was still intact at that point. Part three felt like a great follow up to the first. Part four was really the beginning of the end but performed well having been edited down to a PG-13 rating.

This time around John McClane is back in all his R rated glory. Or is he? The movie is about John going to Russia to find his estranged son. When he gets there he finds more than he bargained for when he barely steps of the plane and is involved in a car Chase through Russian streets while chasing Tue people chasing his son. The cavalier attitude Bruce Willis shows as McClane amidst all this destruction is seriously disconcerting. This is the man who didn’t even want to let Hans Gruber die at the end of the first movie. Now he’s driving around in a foreign country destroying cars and presumably injuring their drivers in the process.

This is the new jaded John McClane. And that is not an improvement. He used to be someone we rooted for, someone we could relate to, someone we could have a beer with. Now he’s this larger than life Superhero that doesn’t connect with the audience.

I will give writer Skip Woods a small bit of credit when it comes to the script. He tried to bring the feeling of the first film back by trying to add some heart to the story. It didn’t work but at least he tried. Willis didn’t seem like he was trying at all. He seemed morose and bored through most of it.

The story was also very weak, the directing was technically good but there seemed to be a disconnect there…and not in a good David Fincher sort of way. Even the action scenes were bad. At one point I actually said out loud in the theater “You HAVE GOT to be kidding me!”

This movie is my new least favorite Die Hard film. I feel bad for Jai Courtney who hopefully will recover from this and still get hired for movies in the future. He was the only real bright spot in a film that was bogged down with nods to the previous films but done in a such a manner that you wanted to punch Bruce Willis.

One last thing before I finish here – I have a bad feeling 20th Century Fox is going to look at lower returns and think it is due to the R rating and not because it sucked. So I just want to say this to Fox – this movie sucked. It would have suck just as bad, if not worse, if it had been PG-13. I know Bruce Willis wants to make another one. If you are dumb enough to let him at least get John McTiernan back to direct and give him full creative control because he seems to be the only who understands the John McClane character.

This movie should get no stars. Yes I really disliked it that much. But I fear it’s partially due to my feeling about the Dying Hard franchise. So I’m going against my better judgement and giving it 1 1/2 stars.

Matt’s Chance – An Early Review


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Before I get into the proper review of this movie I want to talk about my experience meeting the director and his co-writer/supporting actor over the weekend at The Bloody Hero International Film Festival. Nicholas Gyeney (co-writer/director) and Edi Zanidache (co-writer/”Daddy Dave”) both came to Phoenix this past weekend to support their movie, Matt’s Chance starring Edward Furlong, Gary Busey, Lee Majors and Margot Kidder. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a sit down interview with either of them during our time there. They didn’t come back on Sunday when we were recording our podcast. But I did have a chance to talk to both of them.

Over the course of the weekend I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Edi. He was a very funny and engaging guy. We talked a little about his performance as Daddy Dave in the movie, a role he won Best Supporting Actor for at the festival. He said that he and Nicholas have been friends for years and he never imagined he would be acting. It was something that he just sort of fell into. I’m glad he did. He was hilarious in the film, one he helped write. The subject rarely stayed on the topic of the movie, though. Instead he was asking me about the whole podcast thing and how he’d like to do that himself. He also told me about a series of sketches he’d like to do and post on the internet. I won’t tell you what they were because I don’t want anyone stealing his ideas because of me.

Nick was a really nice guy as well. Unfortunately, I had less time with him. Most of what I heard from him was the Q&A after the Saturday screening of the movie. He talked about the funding a bit…which is a very interesting story. He had made one film and his mother had a movie poster of it in her office at work. A Chinese man came in to have some repairs done on his car and asked her about the poster. They got to talking and then Nick said he got a call from his mom telling him to get down there right away. Nick went there and met with the man. He said they talked for about two hours. Shortly after he was signing contracts with a billionaire Chinese family for a ten picture deal. Unfortunately we can’t all be that lucky. But it goes to show that you never know when or where your break will come.

On to the movie itself – Matt’s Chance is the story of Matt, a down on his luck loser who discovers his girlfriend screwing another man in their bed while she’s pregnant with Matt’s baby. He then meets a mobster…excuse me…an Eastern European Businessman, and is asked to dress like a bunny for a children’s birthday party at the EEB’s house. Things just go from bad to worse from there.

Overall, this movie was quick and funny. I loved Matt’s best friend Daddy Dave. He was the funniest part of the film. The small roles filled by Majors, Busey and Kidder were all great as well. One thing I noticed as I was watching the film was that Gyeney seemed to have a good eye for composition through about half of the film and the other half looked very low budget. I don’t know if it was an issue of money or if a director of photography just wasn’t working out. It’s hard to say. Either way it takes nothing away from the movie itself.

I have to give this movie 4 out 5 stars. Smart dialogue, fun characters and really messed up situations make this movie a must see for fans of crime comedies.

Bloody Hero Film Festival Recap


The weekend has come and gone. It was a long long one but a lot of fun. Chris Martin, the festival director, was awesome about letting Brian Smith and myself be on the jury and doing our little podcast from the event. We can’t than him enough. As far as the festival itself I have to say I was very impressed with the movies and shorts that were shown there. There were so many talented people that submitted it almost made me think I should get out before I have truly begun. But I won’t. Even if I’m the next Ed Wood I have to stick it out. It’s in my blood.

I am going to start by listing off some of my personal favorite movies I got to see while I was there or got to screen in advance. These will be in no particular order. I really enjoyed Matt’s Chance. I thought it was quite funny and I loved meeting the director and his co-writer/supporting actor over the weekend. They were great guys and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future. American Courtesans, a documentary from Kristen DiAngelo that is a very honest look inside the world of the sex industry. She was a very warm and smart woman and I wish her and her film success. Some Guy Who Kills People, a movie starring Kevin Corrigan and Barry Bostwick. This movie was funny, sweet, bloody, dark and just plain good. It already has distribution and will be available soon on DVD and Blu-Ray. I watched so many movies over the weekend everything is such a blur but I do want to mention some of the great movies from other countries – Agon, Crawl and Beyond The Grave. All of these films are worth looking for. Agon was filled with some amazing performances. 

I also want to take a moment to apologize to Tom Weston, director of The Wind That Blows, for not having a chance to see his documentary. I had a great time talking with him last night. He’s a great guy and I hope he can get distribution soon so I can watch it along with the rest of the world. 

Now let’s take a moment to talk about the short films. There were some really clever and funny ones, wonderfully dark ones, and great animated pieces that came through the festival. The first one I want to mention is a stop motion Lego animation by an eleven year old boy. It was called Parkour Race and it was very impressive. I always like to see when someone find that thing they love to do early in life. Pierre is a very gifted young man and I hope he keeps it up. Some of the other really cool shorts I got to see where Late Lunch, Time Out Of Mind, Whatever Happened To That Weird Kid?, Pride Of Caldwell, Paper People, Him Indoors, Kerry And Angie and Apartment 15. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone there. Several of the short filmmakers were at the festival as well. I loved meeting every single one of them and wish them success in everything they do.

I would like to apologize to Ryan Ondriezek for not having seen his short film before interviewing him yesterday. I hope I get a chance to see it soon.

Now I want to take a quick moment to talk about the people that made this festival so much fun for me. Randy Robinson and Rob Edwards – you guys are awesome. I can wait to get started on Ded Moroz so I can boss you around some more. Chris Martin – Brian and I can’t thank you enough for everything. Thanks for putting on the fest. And if you’re doing it again next year we will be there. Barbara Gresser – Thanks for everything you did all weekend. It seemed like anytime someone needed you there you were before they could even ask. Sylvie and Frank Cohen – You guys were awesome. Sylvie, I really want to see New World Order and I really want to get started on Ded Moroz to finally get to work with you properly and not just a quick gag on the podcast. Jai Yunae – thank you for coming out to do the podcast with us. You were awesome as always. Sorry we didn’t get to say goodbye before you left. Kevin Moyers – thanks for coming out, watching podcast, hanging out for lunch and just letting us do whatever we want on your network. Brian Smtih and David Sabal – I know you guys didn’t to spend as much time there as you would have liked but you were there when needed and did what had to be done. That’s why we’re friends. Kristen DiAngelo – It was a pleasure talking to you. Sorry we went to a gluten filled restaurant. If there’s ever a next time we know now. And last but not least Mr. Brian Burroughs – You made the long weekend so much easier. You were a lot of fun to talk to and I really loved your short film Shotrocity. 

Everyone go listen to The Gorram Nerd Hour on Wednesday for our show from the Festival.

The Bloody Hero International Film Festival


Hello out there. I’m coming to you live from The Bloody Hero International Film Festival. It started this morning. I have to say that I’m already exhausted. That’s not the fault of the fest. That’s my fault for working until 5am then coming here just 5 hours later.

Being on the jury I have already seen many of the movies showing over the weekend. Bit I didn’t see them all. I just sat through a documentary called American Courtesans about sex workers in the United States. I will hopefully be interviewing the woman behind the documentary for The Gorram Nerd Hour this weekend as she made a special trip to Phoenix just to be here. She seems like a fascinating woman.

Several of the movies have multiple screenings this weekend. If you’re in the area we would love for you to come and support the fest in its first year. There are some great movies being shown and we are very happy with the winners in each category.

I will be reporting back later this weekend with a recap. Tonight there is an industry mixer for all the local talent, guests and filmmakers that made the time come. I’m sure we will really he enjoying our time here for the rest of the weekend. And I can’t wait to unleash our little surprise of what’s to come for our podcast this weekend. We have something really crazy planned. If you can’t see it live make sure you check out the podcast on Wednesday.

Highlander, What Have You Ever Done For Me?


The Highlander movie and TV franchise has always been a mess. Always. But one thing I’ve noticed as I began re-watching Highlander: The Series on Netflix recently is that even the so called good immortals just tend to amass a small fortune and hide till it is time to take a head.

These people are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years old. And what do they do with all that time? Fight, hide, sleep with as many people as possible. The don’t spend their time trying to find ways to make the world a better place. Just because they’re immortal and therefore free of disease doesn’t mean that hundreds of years in the field of scientific research wouldn’t come in handy in curing cancer.

Maybe if these immortals weren’t so selfish a cure for polio would have been found sooner and FDR wouldn’t have been in a wheelchair. Maybe these immortals with brains working for so many hundreds of years could help figure out how to stop brain diseases.

In watching the series again I have noticed that the immortals shown on the series are as follows – good guys who hide on holy ground, good guys who try to keep a low profile, morally ambiguous thieves, downright grunting and gravelly voiced bad guy evil, and simpletons. Nowhere in there is an immortal who tries to change the world for the better.

What a waste of life.