California, Here I Come

I am off to La La Land tomorrow, for a well needed break from the mundane and bleak that is life in, this, The Garden State.

I am no stranger to The City of Angels, I spent a wonderful "lost weekend" there many, many moons ago, and since then I've dreamt of the day when I would return. Granted, the Los Angeles that I spent time in was a tad seedy, and a bit flashy with disco being all the rage, and punk rock just starting to rear it's nasty little head. But in spite of, and because of, its strange beauty L.A. seduced me, and I've never been the same. To this day, when I think of Los Angeles I imagine a neon lit world that's equal parts Raymond Chandler, Exene Cervenka, and, Charles Nelson Riley.

I was 19 the last time I was in Babylon; but that's a whole other story, for a whole other time.

On Wednesday afternoon, when I depart from my flight at LAX, I won't be walking fifteen blocks to a rundown little hotel; this time I'll be taking a shuttle to a four star joint on Wilshire blvd. I'll be in the company of my partner, the guy I love, and I won't be stumbling around all green and wide eyed. This time I've got tours lined up, and a couple of nights out with an old pal who now lives in West Hollywood (he's a part time actor, aren't they all?) - I plan on taking in a few tapings of a few shows (if all goes as planed), and since my better half will be working most of the weekend that we are here at Book Expo America, I am hoping to rub shoulders with a few authors - or at the very least, get a glimpse of a few of them.

Of course I am planning on seeing a few of the darker sides of Tinsel Town; The Dearly Departed Tour seems to be right up my alley ... and I am hoping to get a chance to see The Hollywood Forever Memorial Cemetery.

I wish someone would have started an Edward D. Wood Jr. Musuem. I'd tour a place like that in a heartbeat! After all, nothing says Hollywood like the films of Mr. Wood! Damn, maybe when I retire, I'll move to L.A. and open up a memorial shrine to the greatest no-talent director of all time! Angora sweaters gets you in for half price! Imagine for a moment what a wild place the Wood Shrine could be: A Gothic mansion festooned in a nonsensical monster motif with splashes of 50's style space-age decor! Of course, there'd be a special room set aside for Vampira and Tor Johnson, and of course, the unforgettable John "Bunny" Breckinridge.

I wonder if anyone understood that for his lack of talent, Ed, was a hard working guy who never gave up. Even when he was churning out titty flicks and writing pulp trash novels - he was, in fact, creating. My shrine would include a library of every damn book, script and cocktail napkin he ever doodled on.

Well, for the handful of you who even bother looking at this blog of mine, I will try and come up with something to post during my little vacation. Maybe a shot of Ed's apartment building, or a picture of the house Sharon Tate met her untimely death in, or a word about the pretty boys who line up on Sunset at dusk, or maybe just a shot of the Hollywood sign and a small mention of Peg Entwistle ...

California, here I come.


Dear Diary

There is a brief moment in the last act of George Romero's Diary of the Dead where we see a shot of a woman from the back, sitting in a high back leather arm chair, a cigarette sending up a plume of smoke. You can't see the woman's face, just the top of her head, as well as her hand holding the cigarette. It's a startling moment in that it seems lifted from an entirely different film - as if Diary of the Dead has suddenly morphed into film-noir.

But see, that's the thing; Diary of the Dead, for better or worse, is several different films rolled into one.

First and foremost, it is of course a horror film - a so called, "re-boot" of the Romero
Dead Mythos. In Diary's universe, the first instance of the living dead is occurring in the modern day. A world of cell phones and cable news, Internet access and instant messaging. There's no need to find a television in the basement of a farm house, or tune in to an AM radio station, the news is coming in from everywhere and every place at mind numbing speeds (fans of Romero, will no doubt recall that the media played a big roll in Dawn of the Dead's opening scene which took place in a television studio).

Just before all hell brakes loose, we meet a group of young filmmakers and their teacher, making a horror movie somewhere in the woods of Pennsylvania. Thanks to the lightning speed that information travels, it does not take long for the posse of students to find out that the unbelievable is happening, and as such, movie maker, Jason Creed (Joshua Close), picks up his camera and documents the entire event as it is happening... and this is where the second movie, a documentary of sorts, begins (with much less jerky camera movements than in say, Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project). This is also where Diary... begins to ask the questions like: Why do we as a society seem so detached from all of the suffering and horror we see on a daily basis? Is it that we are all just numb? Is the 24 hour/7 day a week news-feed that is available working like anesthesia on us as a whole?

As the hapless cadre of survivors attempt to make it back to safety, they encounter fiendish military men, a helpful (but ultimately doomed) deaf Amish farmer, a group of African American survivalists, and of course, flesh eating zombies.

Oh yes, the zombies! That's what we've come to see, kids, the monsters. Well, they don't disappoint. You've got your basic shambling walking dead: Cop zombies, hillbilly zombies, nurse zombies, and, god help me, one of the most horrifying: a clown zombie seen briefly terrifying a suburban child's birthday party... Of course this being a zombie film, dispatching the blasted things is necessary. By now everyone knows a bullet to the brain is the best way to put the pests down, but how about a defibrillator (paddles to the head- CLEAR!) ? Or maybe a scythe? Or hows abouts my fave: a bottle of hydrochloric acid smashed over the head of one of the bastards - sheer fucking genius - watch as the acid eats away at the zombie's noggin and slowly dissolves his brain.

While the gore is flying fast and furious, you will also notice the social commentary doing the same. George Romero has never been a subtle film maker (which is what I love about the guy), he is a cantankerous product of the 60's who is still pissed off by what he sees - so he uses ghouls as his raison d'etre, and that allows him to vent about what is really bothering him. Frankly, I applauded all of the "messages" , as heavy handed as they might have been, in Diary of the Dead. Would that other film makers today be as committed to inform as well as entertain, we'd be much better off.

Be that as it may, when our heroes (minus several who have met their ends) finally get to the mansion of a friend, we are in yet another movie ... suddenly Diary of the Dead becomes The Ten Little Indians: a group of people wandering about a spacious mansion, and one by one they are meeting an untimely ending. It is during the third act that the afore mentioned "noir moment" occurs, and it's a beautiful, albeit, brief moment in the film.

By movie's end, with the filmmaker dead, and another student, Debra (Michelle Morgan) picking up the camera to finish what he started, Diary... shows us it's most brutal view of mankind: Debra narrates some found footage of a couple of rednecks hunting zombies for sport in the woods. We see that the creeps are now tying zombies to trees for target practice, and finally we watch as they take aim at a female zombie hanging from a tree limb by her hair. The rednecks end up looping off the woman's body leaving the top of her head still attached to the tree while Debra asks in a voice over: Are we really worth saving? You tell me. Of course, the viewer can not help but think of the photographs from Abu Ghraib of American solders tormenting prisoners of war...and I am sure that Romero meant for us to associate that scene with the infamous photographs.

In the end, Diary of the Dead leaves the viewer with a lot to chew on (sorry, I could not resist), and maybe that is a good thing. Are we numb? Are we insensitive? Are we media obsessed? Are we really the monsters? And, Are we really worth saving?

You tell me.


Just call me "Michael Bay"


Love 'em, hate 'em, they just keep on coming. We've seen great horror films like Psycho, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and countless others remade, rethought, retreaded and rebuilt, and no matter what you or I say or do, the madness will continue.

So I say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!!

Always looking to diversify here at Pax Romano Inc, I figured now was as good a time as any to try my hand at movie producing. With that in mind I bring you the following, from Pax Romano Inc. in association with Santanico Pandemonium Productions and Billy Loves Stu Studios:

Coming May of 2009: Misery - Starring Liza Minnelli and Harvey Firestein.
Horror strikes Broadway author, Paul Sheldon (Firestein) when his golf cart tips over at a Catskills resort, and he is nursed back to health by crazed fan, and ex Broadway chanteuse, Annie Wilkes (Minnelli). At first Wilkes seems to be a caring individual whose only purpose is to nurse Sheldon back to health, but when she discovers that her patient is planning on adapting her favorite romance novel into a musical, (and not cast her in the lead) she goes ballistic; making Sheldon a virtual prisoner in her cabin as she forces him to rewrite the lead role for her!

Coming June of 2009: The Bad Seed - Starring Tom Cruise and Suri Cruise.
Terror strikes a devoted Scientologist mother, Mrs. Pennmark (Tom Cruise), when she discovers that her beautiful little daughter, Rhoda (Suri Cruise), is actually a body-thetan filled homicidal maniac! You'll thrill over the battle of wills as Mrs. Pennmark tries to audit her daugh
ter and cure her of her wicked behavior. Also stars Kirstie Alley as the nosey lady upstairs and John Travolta as L. Ron Hubbard.

Coming July of 2009: Whatever Happened to Baby Joe? - Starring Harrison Ford and Richard Gere.
Insanity strikes at an old Hollywood mansion where the cross dressing Hudson brothers, Blaine (Ford) and Joe (Gere), live in relative obscurity. Years ago, Blaine Hudson was the biggest action star in Tinsel Town, of course the albatross around his neck was his kid brother, Baby Joe, who was a TV star in the 50's, but who, as he aged, lost his appeal. After a tragic accident that left Blaine a paraplegic, and virtual prisoner in his own home, he is cared for by his psychotic brother who is waiting for his big comeback.

We are looking for investors!!!!


"Keep Your Gift Wrapped": Lessons Learned from Teeth

* It's never a good idea to play "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours" with the little girl who lives near a nuclear power plant.

* Beware the seemingly sweet boy in your Teen Abstinence group.

* Ditto for the seemingly kind hearted nerd that you loose your virginity to.

* If your step brother is pierced and obnoxious, he's worthless.

* Your dog, no matter how faithful he's been to you, will probably eat your penis if it falls off of you and lands on the floor.

* Director, Mitchell Lichtenstein obviously watched John Waters' "Desperate Living", and took notes!

* Straight guys, never piss off the nice girl you're having sex with ... you'll live to regret this, trust me.

* Some gynecologists are kind of slimy.

* Vagina dentata is not to be fucked with!



Arbogast has tagged me ...

The rules are as follows:

1) Pick up the nearest book.
2) Open to page 123.
3) Locate the fifth sentence.
4) Post the next three sentences on your blog and in so doing...
5) Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged me.

Right then, so here goes:

1: Picking up book - Duma Key by Stephen King.
2: Opening up book to page 123.
3: Locating fifth sentence, ah there its...
4: Posting next three sentences on my blog:

"My daughter and I went exploring one day. It looked like outright jungle south of here."

Wireman looked alarmed.
Well, that was fun.

Oh, as for rule number five: feel free to play along, I won't appoint anyone.


The One (or Two or Possibly Three) I Might Have Saved

After another one of his brilliant posts (this one in particular) , movie blogger , Arbogast threw the following wish out into cyberspace:

I wouldn't be disappointed if you bloggers out there carried the "The one you might have saved" torch to your own sites and wrote about those horror movie victims whose plights especially touched you and whom you wish you could have carried to safety.

...and I am happy to play along!

From the first time I saw Brian DePalma's film adaptation of Stephen King's first novel, Carrie, there were two characters that I really wanted to spare...

First, there was the Prince Charming, Tommy Ross, (played by the impossibly handsome William Katt). Tommy was essentially a blameless soul, who only took Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) to the prom because he wanted to help his girlfriend, Sue Snell (Amy Irving) get over her guilt for having earlier taunted Carrie (along with the other girls) in the gym showers after Carrie had her first period and freaked out. Tommy not only does his girlfriend's bidding, he actually begins to like Carrie, and after the two of them waltz dizzily on the star spangled dance floor, he begins to fall for her...

...So when we watch him get beaned by the dull, heavy edge of the steel bucket that had been filled with pig's blood, we are shocked and horrified. Of course we also assume that he is left for dead once Carrie's lost it and starts raising telekinetic hell.

Would I have tried to save Tommy Ross? Damn straight! To hell with those falling lights, electrical wires, and fire hoses that have seemingly come to life, I would have hoisted him over my shoulder and tried to beat a hasty retreat from the Bates High Prom.

I am sure that the blow to his head would have given him amnesia, so once he came around, we'd be long gone and headed to a little shack somewhere in Malibu. I'd have made something up and convinced him that we were long time lovers ... and then we'd while away our days, him unaware of his traumatic brush with death, his ex girlfriend now a basket case would have problems of her own (what with all the bad dreams she'd been having, her mother would just "take her away" for a bit), so she would not come snooping around ... yeah, that's how it should have ended; me and Tommy getting away, him teaching me how to surf, me teaching him what Greek passive means...sigh, a guy can dream, can't he?

Of course the only problem here is that I would have also saved Miss Collins (Betty Buckley).

And why not? Clearly, Carrie's gym teacher was family. That is, she was a lesbian. What with her knee socks and butch attitude. Let's face facts, when she bitch- slapped that slut, Chris (Nancy Allen), you knew you were dealing with a true Sister of Sappho.

Of course, Miss Collins was one of the few adults, maybe the only adult, who treated Carrie with respect and care. She even suspects that Sue might be up to something when she discovers her plan to have Tommy ask her to prom ... unfortunately, Miss Collins' hunch is a bit off, as the real trouble makers are not the golden boy and his girl, they are the aforementioned Chris and her scum bag boyfriend, Billy Nolan (John Travolta). Still though, her heart is in the right place.

Therefore, when we see the basketball backboard come slamming down on her, crushing her mid section, once more we gasp in disbelief.

Yes, I would have tried to save Miss Collins.

Of course, she'd be the fly in the ointment for my plans for Tommy, but what the hell, maybe she'd play along, maybe we could have gone back in to the gym and saved Helen (Edie McClurg), I think Miss Collins and her would have made a great couple!

Yeah, and the four of us could have then set up shop somewhere in San Francisco.


I Love You Seth Brundle

I've always had a thing for smart, tall, mad scientists. I guess that's why I've always loved Seth Brundle.

As played by Jeff Goldblum in 1986's remake of The Fly, Brundle is a fast talking, enthusiastic, scientist working on a teleportation device. Unfortunately , when he finally tests the device on himself, a common house fly enters the chamber , and after the actual teleportation takes place, Brundle is on his way to becoming a pretty big bug.

At first, things are pretty good. Brundle has more energy, a big appetite, and an out of control libido (I guess flies like to fuck a lot), and director, David Cronenberg uses these parts of the story to show us plenty of shirtless Brundle as he gets into all kinds of shenanigans like doing athletic flips, arm wrestling guys and breaking their limbs, and picking up bimbos for nights of wild Brundlefly sex.

Of course things start getting bad for Seth. First his skin starts getting splotchy, and then he starts sprouting coarse body hair ... and of course there is that unfortunate new way of eating he's discovered (throwing up on the food, and then slurping it all up).

Fans of the film know what comes next, and The Fly delivers; this is one of those rare movies that not only succeeds as a horror/sci-fi piece, but also as something much deeper. It's about love and sickness and disfigurement and betrayal and paranoia.

I'd be remiss if I did not mention Geena Davis who delivers a fantastic performance as Goldblum's love interest,Veronica Quaife, this is one of Davis's best performances ... and of course, Davis and Goldblum eventually married, so the chemistry these two exhibit in The Fly is pretty genuine.

That said, I can never get enough of this movie. The Fly turned me into a major Jeff Goldblum fan ... that is, I became fascinated with this wacky, oddly sexy man. But more so, with his alter ego, Seth Brundle.

I guess I could stand by a guy who is morphing into a giant insect. As long as his life insurance premiums are paid up. And when things got really crazy, I would just spray him down with a can of Raid, mount him on a wall somewhere, and every day when I passed his monster corpse I'd say, "I love you Seth Brundle".