6/30/11

This Little Light of Mine: VANISIHING ON 7th STREET

What to make of Brad Anderson’s Vanishing on 7th Street?

On the one hand it is an atmospheric little Twilight Zone-flavored piece concerning itself with a handful of survivors of an apocalyptic happening. On the other, it’s a convoluted tale that wants to tackle spiritual, philosophical and existential themes. Sadly, that mixture never seems to gel.

When Luke Ryder (Hayden Christensen) wakes one morning to discover that most of the populace of Detroit has vanished into thin-air, leaving behind only their clothing and other physical artifacts, one can not help but be drawn in to the nightmare scenario. A particularly chilling moment occurs early on as Luke wanders the barren streets and a jet plane falls silently from the sky exploding into flames behind him bringing to mind the horrors of 9/11.
 As the story progresses it becomes apparent that mankind was done in by some kind of malevolent black- inky–like-smoke-stuff that thrives in the dark, and feeds off of people. It can only be dispelled by light. Furthermore, the afore mentioned  black-inky–like-smoke-stuff seems to be filled with the spirits of the dead – or something like that. To make matters worse, the sun only rises for a few hours a day and most electrical products don’t seem to work.

Eventually Luke finds himself drawn to a bar named, “Sonny’s”, (as in Sunny? or Son of God?) where the power is still going strong, the jukebox is playing righteous R & B, and the beer is still cold thanks to a gasoline powered generator. While at the bar he meets a little boy named, James (Jacob Latimore), and a theatre usher named Peter (John Leguizamo). Joining our biblically named trio, is Rosemary (Thandie Newton), a nurse who is grieving her missing child (Rosemary’s baby?). Soon, these four characters in search of an exit are trying to figure out the who, what and why of their situation. Much like the sad souls in Satre’s No Exit, our foursome begin to ponder their own souls and wonder if they are not already dead and being punished for their sins. While at this juncture, one would hope that Vanishing on 7th Street might start to tackle more heady subjects, instead the movie just falls apart and throws in a seat-of-the-pants escape scene, a series of boneheaded moves by the hero, and a quasi-religious dénouement that might leave the viewer shaking his head in disbelief.

Referencing everything from The Rapture, to the Roanoke Colony ,Vanishing on 7th Street provides its audience with plenty of questions, but no damn answers - I mean I love ambiguity as much as the next guy, but there comes a point  after you've spent ninety minutes watching a film, you'd like a few answers.  Unfortunately there are none to be had.  The best we get is a little girl with a flashlight that she claims never turns off, and a final scene of two small children riding a horse to escape Detroit as night falls while the little girl's light keeps on shining. 

6/26/11

The Bad Boys of Bon Temp

 In honor of the new season of True Blood, a little something to whet your appetite from last year:


I once heard HBO's vampire soap opera, True Blood, referred to as, "The closest thing to prime-time-soft-core-gay-porn out there".  I don't know If I'd go that far - but since series creator, Alan Ball does play for my team, I can't help but notice that the ratio of bare chests to boob shots is pretty much off the charts (with the bare chests vastly showing up more than any boobage).  With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the hunky werewolves, vampires, shape shifters and mortal bad boys of Bon Temp Louisiana.

Jason Stackhouse: Dumb as dirt, hornier than hell, and hotter than Georgia asphalt, Jason Stackhouse is Bon Temp's resident hot blooded stud.  Honestly, I do believe that Ryan Kwanten's contract stipulates that he must go bare ass and shirtless at least once an episode - no complaints!
Lafayette Reynolds: Fierce, fashionable, flamboyant, and tough enough to kick any red neck who get's all up in his business, Lafayette is the troubled yet compassionate bad boy who works as a short order cook, and sells "V" on the side. Three cheers to Nelsan Ellis for taking the gay stereotype and playing it a whole other way.
"Eggs" Benedict Talley:  "Satan in a Sunday Hat" indeed.  Eggs was the brief but unforgettable lover of Tara.  Sadly he was under the spell of an evil maenad, and was killed off.  He was played by former Calvin Klein underwear model, Mehcad Brooks. 
 
Hoyt Fortenberry:  Hoyt was a Mama's boy, that was until his mom went crazy thanks to the afore mentioned evil maenad - and then, after the maenad's spell was broken, Hoyt's mama further alienated her son when she dissed his vampire girlfriend.  Poor Hoyt, such a lovable big galoot!  Played charmingly by Jim Parrack.
Bill Compton:  A southern gentleman vampire, Mr. Compton is polite, and charming.  Eventually he wins the heart of True Blood's heroine, waitress, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), and despite all of his seemingly honorable intentions, brings a world of trouble into Sookie's life. That said, who could deny Bill, and his hairy chest, anything he might want.  Bill Compton is played by Stephen Moyer.

Eric Northman: The Yin to Bill Compton's Yang, Eric Northman is a a greedy, manipulative, vampire who dates back to the Norse Vikings .  Currently he runs a "fang bangers" bar that serves as a front for some seedier operations. So blond, so evil and so irresistible ... played to perfections by Alexander Skarsgård.
Sam Merlotte:  The say all men are dogs, and in Sam's case, they'd be right.  Actually, sexy Sam is a shape shifter, but his preferred shape to shift in to would be that of a cuddly little dog .  Dependable, likable and the proprietor Bon Temp's favorite watering hole, Merlottes, sometimes you can find Sam runing through the woods naked as the day he was born...
...furthermore, Sam recently had a dream about Bill Compton that ended rather abruptly...
...just before the shifter and blood sucker were going to kiss...sigh.  Sam is played by Sam Trammell.
Alcide Herveaux: Behold Bon Temp's newest slab of sex!  Alcide is a werewolf with a heart of gold, and like his Bon Temp brethren, is prone to take his shirt off at a moment's notice!  Damn, draw blood! Played by Joe Manganiello

6/17/11

Letter From Camp Stonewater

For gay pride month: time to (once again) dust off this letter from camp...

Dear Mom and Dad,

Camp Stonewater has been a lot of fun, thanks for sending me.

I really like the head counselor, Todd,  he is such a nice guy.  He's really tight with this other guy here ... I think that other guy looks a lot like George Costanza, except he has hair.

Most of the kids are pretty cool, but there's this one dude who is always giving us a hard time, his name is Glazer,   He's a real jerk, and he wears his swim trunks kind of tight and every time I see him in them I get this funny feeling that I don't know how to describe.

Anyway, it's cool because ,Todd knows what a jerk that Glazer really is, and he's already read him the riot act ... but you know what?  As I was watching the two of them getting all up in each others grills, I had that same funny feeling that I can't put into words.

Oh, dad, you are always asking me about the girls at Camp Stonewater ... why is that?  Anyway, this one girl named Sophie  is kind of nice, she looks a lot like Holly Hunter ... you know, that actress from The Piano?  What do you think?

The other day, a bunch of us went on a canoe trip to one of the islands near the camp.  It was awesome fun!  This one guy they call Woodstock, is really funny.  I noticed that his shorts ride up  when he's paddling a canoe ... well, let's just say, he lets it all hang out ... ha ha!


You might have heard that we had some problems up here ... it's true, seems that one of the former groundskeepers went a little nuts-
o after some kids burnt him up a couple of years ago, and now the killjoy is trying to ruin it for everyone else.

What a jerk.

They call him Cropsy.  What kind of name is that?
The jerk even went and chopped off Woodstock's fingers before he ended up killing him and a bunch of the other kids!   Man, it was a real mess!   But you'll be happy to know that your son is a hero!

Me and Todd hunted down this Cropsy creep and we let him have it, but good.  I stabbed him with his own shears and then Todd set him on fire ... it was awesome!

No body is going to be bothered by that guy again!

The funny thing is, after we jacked up that bastard, Todd told me how proud he was of me and ... well .... I got that funny, indescribable feeling again .  But this time, I told Todd all about it and he said, "That's cool."

So, I guess you both should know that I will be moving in with Todd.

I'll send you our address as soon as we get settled.  Until then, I remain,

Your Loving Son,

Alfred

6/13/11

Frankenstein's Gay Daddy - Guest Posting by Brian Bara

Brian Bara (aka Prospero), proprietor of the fabulous Caliban’s Revenge was kind enough to supply today's posting for Gay Pride Month. Submitted for your approval, here is a piece on one of gay horror's ground-breakers, Frankenstein's Gay Daddy, James Whale:



As a child in the 60’s, my first introductions to horror movies were the Universal Monsters films on UHF TV. You know you know them: Dracula; Frankenstein; The Wolfman. -- movies my father loved and saw on the big screen when he was a kid. But my favorite was Bride of Frankenstein, now considered to be director James Whale’s masterpiece.

Openly gay James Whale's directing career started as WWI POW, directing plays and skits in order to maintain morale amongst his fellow POWs. After the war, he returned to England and took up a career as a cartoonist before returning to the stage with a production of Journey's End, a play about WWI. He subsequently went on to make Journey's End into a film in 1930, starring frequent collaborator (and rumored homosexual) Colin Clive, who later gained fame as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, maker of monsters. Whale made two more WWI films that year, Hell's Angels and Waterloo Bridge.

The following year, he made the first of many film adaptations of Mary Shelley's classic Horror novel Frankenstein, starring Clive and Boris Karloff as the Monster (a role Bela Lugosi turned down because he thought he'd be unrecognizable under so much makeup).  The film was sensation and like Tod Browning's Dracula, caused women to faint in the aisles.

Whale's next foray into the genre was 1932's The Old Dark House, starring Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton and Gloria Stuart. It tells the story of a group of travelers seeking shelter from a storm in a gloomy castle in Wales, and is probably the primary inspiration for The Rocky Horror Show. In 1933, Whale's tackled H.G. Welles' The Invisible Man, starring Claude Rains and Ms. Stuart as his ill-fated love, which also featured familiar character actress and hysterical screamer Una O'Connor in one of her many appearances in a Whale film. Sadly, Whale's next genre film would be both his best and his last. 1935's Bride of Frankenstein would reunite him with Colin Clive and Boris Karloff, but would be the last time Whale visited the genre. It is also one of the best genre films of the era, made at the height of Whale's artistic prowess.

Filled with in-jokes, camp performances, furtive gay references and then state-of-the-art special effects, Bride of Frankenstein actually made the monster a sympathetic character this time around. Hated and misunderstood because he was different, the creature learns to speak (thanks to a kindly blind hermit) and eventually expresses his loneliness. Of course when Frankenstein and his collaborator Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) finally create a mate (Elsa Lanchester) for him, she rejects the monster who then declares “We belong dead!” and promptly blows the lab (and his ‘bride’) to smithereens. Sadly, “We belong dead!” was probably the prevailing attitude among gay people in the 30’s. Even sadder, it’s still the attitude among many straight people, today.

Whale went on to make several dramas and romances, including the first version of Jerome Kerns' musical Showboat with Irene Dunne, Paul Robeson and Hattie McDaniel. He lived with his partner David Lewis for 22 years, until they separated in 1952. By then, Hollywood homophobia had ended his career as a filmmaker, though he had rediscovered his love of painting. His later life was fictionalized in Bill Condon’s brilliant 1998 film Gods and Monsters, starring Ian Mckellan, Brendan Fraser and Lynn Redgrave. Whale drowned himself in his swimming pool in 1957.

James Whale made 22 films over his career, but is best remembered for his astonishing genre films, which have rightfully earned the title "Classic." Whale was openly gay at a time when being so often meant the end of one's career but his artistic vision was so strong, it transcended sexuality and affected audiences worldwide and for generations to come. I fear we will not see his like again, though I pray I am wrong.

Prospero

*Portions of this post first appeared on Caliban’s Revenge in October of 2010.

6/11/11

Profiles in Horror: Terry Geralds, The Solitary Man

Sarcastic, sequestered and sensational, that's Terry Geralds. The proprietor of the blog, Slasher Film Sanctuary is one of my favorite Facebook buddies. Recently he (and his blog) were cited and quoted in the book, The Complete History of The Return of the Living Dead.   With a theatrical background, and a talent for telling it like it is, Geralds is my go-to-guy when I need some information on classic slasher films of the 80's. Once you meet him, you'll see why.

Terry, what is it about the horror genre that drew you in?


It scared the living shit out of me! However, the monsters were always safely confined to my television, where they could never hurt me. As a kid I was afraid of everything. I believed monsters lurked within the shadows, around every corner. Horror films were a way for me to conquer that fear. A step in self-healing if you will. It was during this “self-help journey,” that I developed an undying love for the horror genre. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Like another esteemed member of this interview series (Chris Moore), you have a background in performing. Is it your desire to return to that? And if so, what would be your dream horror based project?

I would love to return to the stage. I miss acting so much that I can’t even bare to go see plays anymore. It just reminds me of how much fun I had in the theater and how much I miss it. I’ve always wanted to be part of a kick-ass horror film. One that would be remembered forever, like John Carpenters Halloween or Night Of The Living Dead. A film that I could be forever proud to have been a part of. Sadly, my life is a bit complicated, in a Lifetime Movie kind of way, so the odds of me returning to the stage are extremely slim. But it is something I continue to dream about every day.

What is it about horror films of the 1980's, specifically slasher films, that you like so much?


Horror films of the 80’s were my portal to horror. They were what first introduced me to the genre I love so much, and there will always be a strong connection because of that. Also, 80’s horror films are just so much fun to watch! Some of the best horror flicks came out of the 1980s, in my humble opinion. How could you not love all the big hair, awesome 80’s music, and killers sporting masks and knives?

I get the feeling that you are something of a loner (if I am wrong, then tell me!) . What horror film event would it take to get you out of the house? Or what event in general?

I am somewhat of a loner. However, I do have loads of amazing friends that do I see on occasion. If an opportunity presented itself for me to get to travel to horror conventions and meet so many of the people I adore, I would most likely go. I’d be attending horror conventions already if I didn’t absolutely suck when it came to having the nerve to drive to places I’ve never been. Heavy traffic and strange places make this boy a little uneasy.

I understand that you worship the ground Kristy Jett walks on. What if Kristy were coming to your house for dinner – what would you serve, and what type of entertainment would be provided?

Oh absolutely! Kristy Jett is one fabulous “chikadiva” (A word I concocted to describe any gal that I absolutely adore!) When I first discovered her online, something just clicked. She has impeccable taste in horror, and we both absolutely adore the 1991 film “Popcorn,” which Kristy is working her fingers to the bone to get re-released. I’ve never met her in real life but I’m absolutely certain that I would still adore her just as much, if not more. If she and I were to have dinner, I would serve whatever Kristy wanted. As for entertainment…..we would watch “Popcorn” of course!

What is your all-time favorite horror film, and why.

That has always been the hardest question for me to answer. How could I possibly pick just one to be my all-time favorite? The truth is that many films rank in my #1 favorite film slot. John Carpenters Halloween, Night Of The Living Dead, I could go on and on. But if I had to pick just one, out of my all of my number one faves, I would go with the 1984 film “Night Of The Comet.” It’s just so much fun! It has big hair, 80’s music, zombies, Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, and Mary Woronov! What’s not to love?!

In your opinion, do you think the genre is better or worse today than it was in the 1980's?

Worse. Most all films made today don’t leave a last impression on the viewer like films from yesteryear did. At least they don’t in my cinematic viewing experience.

Do you think horror films speak to the disenfranchised in general?

Absolutely. Yeah that’s all I got, lol!


What horror movie hunk (not the actor, the character) would you like to have a fling with, and why?


Mike Brennan, played by John Terlesky, from the 1986 film “Chopping Mall.” He was manly, muscular, beautiful, fun, and unbelievably sexy. When I first saw that film, I instantly fell in love with him. Odd enough, as a child I always developed crushes on adults. Had I actually known any pedophiles, I would’ve been their dream come true! Okay, maybe I should‘ve left that last part out. LOL!

What Final Girl (not the actress, the character) would you like to be BFF's with, and why?

None of them! Usually the final girls BFF’s get “K.I.L.L.E.D.” I’d like to avoid that thanks, so I’m checking the “No I will not be your friend box.”

Does it ever bother you (like it does me), that Mrs. Voorhees' revenge in the original Friday the 13th was actually bogus because Jason was alive and not really dead?

That was always something that both confused and irked me. But I’ve always tried to overlook that and understand why Mrs. Voorhees did what she did. It was justice for her son, she just got a little confused about whom the enemy responsible was. Her heart was in the right place, but her mind sure wasn’t.

Finally, what do you want the world to know about Terry Geralds?


That I’m single and looking for someone beautiful, outside as well as in. Someone willing to accept me as I am and work with me. Someone who knows the true meaning to love. Someone who can help make all my dreams come true, someone who…….wait, this isn’t an eHarmony questionnaire, is it? Ummmm, check out my blog @ www.slasherfilmsanctuary.blogspot.com. Go Horror!

6/9/11

Profiles in Horror: Justin Roebuck-Lafleur, The Married Man


PLEASE NOTE : Due to a technical difficulty, this interview was initially posted last night and then taken down.  We worked diligently here at Billy Loves Stu World Headquarters to rectify that situation.  So without further ado, let's get it on: 

Surely I'm not the only person that gets the sudden urge following a funeral to just grab someone and wrap my naked body around theirs and just sweat and thrust and feel ALIVE!


  Justin Roebuck-Lafleur, is a relatively new (and outrageous) voice in the horror blogosphere. His blog, The October Country is a terrific journey into the grotesque, the erotic and the musical (downloadable soundtracks, anyone?). He has also recently started up a photo blog that I can only describe as David Lynch style Gay porn with some animal pictures thrown in. Seriously, I love this guy, he’s creative and opinionated and is not afraid to speak his mind. So pull up a comfy chair (you'll be her for a bit, trust me) and let's meet my main man, Justin:

Justin, what was it that drew you to horror films originally? Was this a life-long romance or did it happen later on?

Oh, it was definitely a life long love affair. I think my very first exposure to anything horror related was Disney's animated adaptation of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (with Bing Crosby). Watching that movie was my daily custom when I was two years old. Sitting crossed legged in front of our old monstrous floor television set in my footie pajamas, probably with chocolate all over my face, I couldn't get enough and every time the Horseman's howl sounded throughout the foothills, my heart would just pound out of my chest. In fact, when I was trying my hand at screenwriting as a young adult (natch) I found that my more, shall I say adult horror fare, kept getting sidelined by these less "respectable" slasher components, that I'd dreamed up over the years. I decided that I really needed to exorcise these elements from my system, if I was ever going to move on and write the things that were really eating at me, so I resolved to put every single stalk and slash scenario that I thought was awesome, into one screenplay once and for all. When I was looking for what this particular story's hook would be, I quickly went back to my very first love, which was "The Legend of Sleep Hollow", only updating the scenario of Tarry Town's haunted history to modern times and titled the project "Old Haunts". I knew even then that meddling with such a classic story was kind of ridiculous (such endeavors usually get under even my skin) but I did my best to be respectful of Irving's tone, his nostalgia for the New York countryside locale in addition to bringing forth many hinted at ideas from the novel, regarding the town's affinity for the supernatural. It favored atmosphere over bloodshed (I think the body count was kept to a minimum of 5) and I even got the opportunity to turn an old ghost story my grandfather told me before bed every night, into a rather cool set-piece of prolonged tension. Though ultimately the script never saw completion, it was an absolute blast to write, probably the most fun I've ever had writing anything. But yeah, my love of scary things started with the Headless Horseman chasing down lanky 'ol Ichabod Crane.


However that was just the first baby step. I would say that the man most responsible for making me the horror nut that I am today would be Steven Speilberg of all people. "Jaws" and his executive produced "Gremlins" and "Poltergeist" were my holy trinity of fright for the first 10 years of my life (also, in most cases I wasn't allowed to view anything over a PG-13 rating in our home, so I took what I could get back in those days). But I didn't just watch them (individually, between then and now, I've probably seen each one of those movies over 200 times, if not more). I was constantly "starring" in them while every other kid on the block was busy playing with their G.I. Joes. In my review for Lew Lehman's "The Pit", I spent over half the article (I over-related to the plight of that movie's pint sized protagonist) recounting embarrassing scenarios from my childhood wherein one of those three films were always the root cause of some public spectacle I was making of myself and my family; playing "Jaws" all on my own, on a daily basis, at the public swimming pool involved me giving the lifeguards near heart attacks (or I imagine) as I was constantly screaming and splashing and crying for help before sinking beneath the surface for as long as I could hold my breath, having been "devoured" by the bloodthirsty "shark". "Poltergeist"? I reenacted Diane Freeling's (JoBeth Willaims, all hail) muddy swimming pool slide into a sea of decaying corpses routinely in the back of my parent's car (we didn't buckle up back then) utilizing the backseat itself as the "slanted, slippery side of the swimming pool", the space above it and beneath the window as my "goal" and a rather realistic looking decrepit skull (a Halloween decoration, complete with a long mane of filthy hair) that would "spring forth from the ground" (rather simply, held in my hand and shoved into my own face) ala the film and "frighten" me so badly that I would then "slide" back down to the bottom of the "pool" (the foot well of the backseat) and start again. Going so far to sound like a screeching banshee (I imagine) on most occasions as I was constantly "humming" (or something akin to that) the scores from the films I was, er, "interpreting" and so my parents were treated to little Justin Roebuck's acapella rendition of Jerry Goldsmith's "Night of the Beast" in addition to my own pre-pubescent lady-boy screams. A battered and weathered Gizmo doll was my only security blanket in those days, so it goes without saying that everywhere I went, he went as well, and there were always nasty Gremlins up to no good that needed dispatching. Later on, movies such as "The Gate", "The Midnight Hour", "The Monster Squad" and "Critters" got added to the mix and there were more than a few babysitters that got fired as a result of me convincing them that I was allowed to watch harder fair like "Friday the 13th Part VI" Jason Lives" and "April Fool's Day", but those initial three Speilberg vehicles were my much loved constants.


As far as what constantly drew me to stories of misty graveyards and creaky crypts and all the scary creatures that lurked within them, it's anyone's guess I suppose. For starters, I was always a very imaginative kid. I didn't have many friends growing up and spent most of my waking life retreating into my own daydreams. Horror, what with it's dark fantastical elements was a perfect breeding ground for sowing seeds of adventure in our backyard, our dusty basement or dirty garage. Science fiction, which I do appreciate, was too specific, too limiting. Horror had it all! Vampires, zombies, crazed killers and a whole host of supernatural entities that could bend the laws of nature anyway they saw fit. The genre captured my young imagination and it hasn't relented it's grip since. Also, my other theory is that it was a comforting escape from a messy home life that was constantly in flux. Both my parents were constantly in and out of marriages and as a result I had a revolving door of mother and father figures, not to mention siblings, constantly coming and going. Add to this we were seemingly, constantly moving around. That instability, and the real feeling of never ending loss of loved ones, led to a lot of unhappiness. Then throw into the mix my even then apparent, childhood homosexuality all the while growing up in a small, conservative Midwestern town. This aspect of myself left me with a constant suspicion that there was something "wrong" or "off" about me. Even at the age of 5 or 6, I was perceptive enough to realize that many adults and most children regarded me as something "alien" or different. Some people like escapism that reaffirms their belief that all is right with the world or rather, everyone is a comic and all is lighthearted and fun. The guy always gets the girl, nobody ever dies or leaves unless the story is a noted "downer", there is always a storybook happy ending and all that jazz. I guess I'd fall on the opposite side of that spectrum. I think I related an awful lot to the inherent darkness that runs throughout all of horror, be it cinema or literature. It was reflective of my inner mood. I'm certain on the outside I appeared to be a happy, if somewhat strange child. But on the inside I was finger painting black swirls again and again and again ad infinitum. The adults in my life always fought against this preoccupation with the genre of course and loved ones would say that I was a pessimist even then, but I choose to believe that I was a realist. The world was and is a scary place and I've always known that to some degree and the horror genre is one of the few precious realms, where we don't have to pussyfoot around that reality. There is no sugar coating things when you discover the hacked up bodies of your friends strewn about the dark campground, ya know?

You are a married man (congratulations), does your husband share your love of the macabre, or does he just tolerate it?

Well first off, thank you. Sometimes it's still a shock that my name carries that big moniker above it especially because for the longest time I refused to not only date, but I resisted being domesticated in anyway (the latter of which is still something that I stubbornly fight). Thankfully, my love of horror has been one of the easier, more tolerable aspects of married life with me. When Daniel (my husband) and I met he enjoyed horror movies sure, but I'd say more in passing. He wasn't obsessed with them and he surely didn't possess a background education on the big players and important landmarks in the genre's history. I suppose he has had no other choice but to pick up on things through his daily exposure to me and my incessant prattling about the subject. Over the years though he's constantly surprised me by blurting out some tidbit of information that he took the time to learn on his own; a director's body of work, a composer's notable contributions, why someone was considered a scream queen. At first, I imagine that my brow would probably always furrow and I'd look confused and then realization would set in and I'd give him a big proud kiss. I'd say that through his own volition he's become nearly on par with my knowledge of the genre and in some cases he's even surpassed me. Our tastes are radically different sometimes as much as they can be the same. We both love slow burn, atmospheric creep-fests and vintage monster movies, we're both partial to many of the artier foreign offerings and we both also appreciate a good old fashioned gore flick. However, he's struck out on his own of late and has discovered that above everything else, he really enjoys some plain awful, exploitation cheapies, which is not an enthusiasm that I share even though he's slowly whittling away my reservations. The one aspect where we are really different though would be that he has yet to fully tumble into fanboy territory. Save for the occasional film that he absolutely must own (recently it's been J. Michael Muro's "Street Trash" and Giorgos Lanthimos' "Dogtooth"), he certainly has resisted the call to purchase things like action figures, vintage promotional standees and all that other good stuff that comes with the territory. Also, he occasionally helps me out with The October Country so I gotta love him for that.


Just like in any other marriage though, we have to make compromises. Sometimes he wants to listen to Pink Floyd and I've had Fred Myrow's "Phantasm" score stuck in my head for the better part of an hour. Other times he is in the mood for "Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS" and I'm leaning towards "The Mist" for the billionth time. On his behalf, I've done my best to keep the horror related shit regulated to one room, so when we moved into a small house last year, I was designated a space that became our library (thereby fulfilling my life long dream of having such a thing) which is where all the horror novels, movies, posters and general memorabilia is on display. So yeah, it's a total holy matrimony. From the very beginning though, there were three stipulations he had to possess if I was even going to give him the time of day, in my utterly jerkish, geeky way. First, he must have reverence for the almighty David Lynch. Secondly, he had to promise that he would at the very least give author Ramsey Campbell a shot and third, he must accept that throughout the month of October we are consistently going to be flat broke as I would be buying any and all Halloween decorations that even mildly struck my fancy. Also, in short, our house was going to be transformed into the Haunted Mansion for 31 days. Obviously, he passed with flying colors.

Speaking of marriage, since most states in the US still do not allow gay couples to marry, what horror icon do you think would be the best spokesperson for gay marriage?

Oh, good question. And a tough one I might add. I guess that begs the question as to who ultimately is more influential in the eyes of heterosexual voters; out of the closet gay men and women or their heterosexual allies. Obviously, the more iconic they are the better. If it were the former I would say Anthony Perkins, if he was still with us. Perhaps I'd nominate him because I know he caught the eyes of many ladies in his (and their) youth, which never hurts. That and my grandfather loves him (and as everyone knows, the elderly vote can mean millions). Unfortunately though, he is no longer, so perhaps Clive Barker (though he may be too obtuse for the average fella).


If we were to go the latter route, I'd say perhaps Robert Englund or Stephen King. Englund, because he is probably one of the genre's most recognized and beloved modern madmen whose popularity back in the day truly crossed dozens of demographics (be thy age, color or gender) all the while he's shown himself to be a likeable, intelligent and astute individual. I mean, who wouldn't just smile if Freddy Kruger was talking to you? I'd buy whatever he was selling (except for maybe "Strippers vs. Werewolves"). But if he were unavailable, I'd say Mr. King would be an ideal runner up. Even though he himself seemed to suffer from a slight case of homophobia in the 70's (if his reminiscences from "Danse Macabre" are to be believed) he seems better of it now. I'd nominate King because though his style isn't my cup of tea (I appreciate his ideas and worlds, just not their execution), his work is already in the majority of every household in this country, sitting right next to Americans' copies of Rush Limbaugh's "An Army of One" and Bill O'Reilly's "Pinheads and Patriots".

What is your favorite horror film, and why.

George A. Romero's "Dawn of the Dead". Hands down. I think that that movie is the most perfect horror film ever made, and on first viewing, one of the most horrifying. Honestly, you really couldn't ask for more. Romero's biting social satire has never been stronger. The story on a whole is intelligent and sophisticated. There's its eye-popping, stylish color palette. The four leads are all great, each and every one of them earning a memorable, iconic place in horror movie history. Despite mostly being confined to the shopping mall, the film's scope and canvas feel huge and despite many attempts at ripping it off (and bigger budgets) since, nothing has trumped its epicness (at least in my mind). There is Goblin's awesome score and even the stock, incidental music rocks (and might I add, there's nothing in this world that I cherish more than the memory of my husband tooling about the house in his underwear humming Herbert Chappell's "The Gonk"). You've got Tom Savini's beautifully executed gore. I mean really, I could just go on and on, but I highly doubt that I need to sell your readers on this particular masterpiece.


"Dawn of the Dead" was also the first real gore film I'd ever seen (around the age of 15 I think). Spurned on by the pages of Fangoria, I hunted down a copy in the small, do-nothing town my father was living in and bought it sight unseen on some boring summer afternoon. I watched it right after eating lunch from the hot dog / root beer stand across the street from us, and then spent the next 2 hours trying to keep all that chili sauce down as I witnessed the most graphic bloodshed I'd seen up to that time splash across the screen. Actually, the neck / arm ripping during the opening SWAT invasion still gets to me a little. Additionally, and this is despite the daylight beaming in through our windows, I think I had the blanket pulled up to my eyes on more than one occasion. It's not so much that I am a pussy, but I usually go into these things with an over eagerness to be frightened, the opposite of many viewer's puffed-up stance of "I DARE you to try to scare me." That's whats fun for me. Not getting grossed out (though I can take it) but really having the hairs on my arms raised. You'll never find me standing there, hands on hips, legs spread, chest to the sky acting like I've seen it all (even though really, I think I have) and proudly declaring that nothing can or will effect me. Sometimes, I really can't wrap my head around that attitude, outside of its macho posturing. I'd practically take a film maker by the hand and beg them "PLEASE scare me" if I could. And "Dawn of the Dead", with it's sea of gnashing, rotting teeth and decayed, clawing hands, did just that.


David Lynch is coming to your house for dinner, what do you serve and what kind of entertainment would you provide?

Oh goodness. For starters I can only cook one thing, West African Peanut Soup and that's probably not what I'd wanna serve him because we only have one bathroom. So I think I'd leave this in the hands of my husband, who can whip up anything really. I know Mr. Lynch is partial to Bob' Big Boy so perhaps we'd just serve plates of greasy bacon, eggs, pancakes, hash browns and toast. As far as entertainment is concerned, my first instinct would to have a regular three ring circus twirling about the dinner table; Monkeys wearing white clay masks with elongated noses, burlesque dancers shaking their business in our faces, somebody who knows magic fire tricks and could sit in a corner silent and still, shooting flames outta their hand with the snapping of their fingers and so on. However, I'd probably ignore the urge for theatrics and resign myself to a very quite, very entrenched evening of picking his brain. In all honesty, I don't think Mr. Lynch would have very much fun because he wouldn't be allowed to leave our home until he spelled out the entire season three of Twin Peaks for me, scene by scene. Maybe even season four. In fact I've already got the pliers, duct tape and ball gag.

Your blog sometimes celebrates sexuality. Do you think there a link between the darker side of sex and horror in general?

Absolutely. Hence the inclusion of such content on the site. That and the marriage between the two has always been a highly controversial, often hush hush aspect of the genre that frequently is only ever discussed or acknowledged by those that seek to condemn it. Well, I want to celebrate it. I think that that is possible without stepping over too many lines, even if certain lines sometimes need to be crossed for no other reason than it can be healthy to stop and ponder the darker, less seemly side of life sometimes. To take your torch to those shadows. It's there, it always has been and it always will be no matter how much censorship or letter writing campaigns you throw in its way. So why not examine that and dispense with the knee jerk judgements. That and quite frankly, I live for pushing certain people's buttons. Anytime a largely complacent, doe-eyed person crosses my path, I have this overwhelming urge to shake things up a bit. Does some of the art make you uncomfortable? Good. Does some of the art turn you on too? Awesome. That is the point. Look, I'm not attempting anything straightforward here, or rather there hasn't been an open dialogue on the site as far as feedback between the dealer (me) and the user (everyone else) is concerned. Whatever confrontational aspect the art possesses, the readership thus far has dealt with it privately. Add to that, the art in question isn't always nude bodies slathered in blood or gore. Some of them are just good, cheeky fun. Others are so under the radar I think that only certain fetishists will pick up on the purpose of their presence. For instance, sometime ago I posted a vintage photo of a fully dressed woman with her stockinged, high heel clad foot perfectly positioned a top a shovel as she hovers above an open grave. Now for many, the picture seems like just that, a fully dressed woman perhaps up to no good (made all the more apparent by the accompanying text) but nothing more. But for some, her very means of dress and position of dominance is incredibly sexually charged. It's certainly nothing new that I am attempting, I'm just openly and unabashedly nodding to it's ubiquity. It's present in most if not all horror films with an R rating. From the completely mundane T&A that you find in most hack n' slashes, to the more adult aimed, erotically tinged thrillers of the 90s (really just slasher films for yuppies in most cases) to just about everything that Clive Barker, David Cronenberg, Jess Franco, David Lynch or Takashi Miike has attached themselves to. Sexuality, much like Grim Reaper that haunts the sidelines of all horror films, never really leaves us.


As far as sexuality's importance or relevance within the horror genre is concerned, this is how I see it (if you will allow me to get pseudo-philosophical for a moment). Some years ago when I was being hopelessly undeveloped with my bottom of the barrel creativity, I was looking up at this antique, oil painting of Jesus that I had hung in my bathroom above the toilet bowl (it's very position should be enough of an indication as to where my beliefs lie) and I had the sudden urge to cover the majority of the thing in images of penises and vaginas (even though ultimately I didn't, as I recognized that my means and approach would just look infantile and amateurish). Despite what some may think though, the urge wasn't born out of some need to be crude or offensive. On the contrary, the spark stemmed from the exact opposite. I'd got to thinking about how most Christians, or most religious types claim to have this deep reverence for life (as we all should) and in their case, eternal life. But I've always found it funny that they would hold such a notion, eternal life, in such high regards when most can't even look life and where it begins for us all, right in the face. That's what the penises and vaginas were about. I just thought it silly to talk about living forever when you can't acknowledge the true forces that brought you into being in the first place.


Anyway, I guess as far as my personal outlook is concerned (and yes, this relates back to what I was just saying and I'll get to that in a moment), I've applied that particular thought process to horror over the years. I've never been one to watch scary movies and rejoice and applaud the brutality on screen. Sure, I'll get as excited over an excellently executed gore effect as the next fanboy, and I'll appreciate it if you make me squirm from the red stuff. But on a deeper level, the death and carnage I'm witnessing usually instills within me a sensation of loss (assuming the screenwriter or director has done their job and the characters are somewhat three dimensional). Which is a wonderful thing really, because outside of some weepy chick flicks, where else in cinema is the handling of such unavoidable human destruction seriously, and routinely dealt with? It's not in action films I'll say that much. When Bruce Willis or Jason Statham blows several hundred people away in one film, where was the respect and honor for human life presented in any way by the time the closing credits roll? When throughout do they ever pause and with any recognizable human emotion, reflect about the heartache that has been wrought? They don't because it wouldn't be an action film if they did. That's pixalated dead bodies, video game nonsense. That's modern warfare propaganda. With the horror genre, when someone dies, when someone is lost, there are real consequences to that within the story for our characters. Our protagonists don't light a cigarette and swagger off into the sunset all cocky and proud of themselves when and if they vanquish the villain (unless of course, you're Bruce Campbell). No, they are oftentimes broken or destroyed as a result of what they endured. The lives that have been lost in the 90 minutes we just sat through carry a real weight for our hero or heroine. Death, as it is in real life, is ugly, messy and it's accompanied by much screaming and hysterics and sorrow. Which brings us back to my philosophy about sexuality's place within the genre. I feel as though if one is to respect the presence of death in horror films, in all its incarnations and visages, if you are to feel the gravity of it, you must respect life somewhere along the line. There is no weight or horror from death unless you cherish life, and much like the content of the bad art I almost made so long ago, you cannot cherish life without celebrating the very act that creates it. I think the two are eternally intertwined. Linked, whether we know it sometimes or not. Surely I'm not the only person that gets the sudden urge following a funeral to just grab someone and wrap my naked body around theirs and just sweat and thrust and feel ALIVE! It's one of the few natural acts that many of us employ, unconsciously or not, to fight back against our own mortality. To push back against death, to deny it, even if in the end we all lose. Anyway, that's my personal philosophy about it.


Do you think horror films in general speak to the disenfranchised?

Without a doubt. First off, the people who create them many times seemed to have had awkward childhoods, so that little seed is already planted right there. I'm not saying bad childhoods, just awkward. Many of them (and us) were the "weird" children down the block. This was all a misunderstanding of course, many didn't know what to make of us and wrote us off as strange. We just liked scary things more than most is all. This was a never ending "problem" for me when I was growing up. Add that to being gay in a small town and I just wanted to escape into horror films all the more, where the creatures were as freakish as I felt. It can be a life lived in solitude, in our our heads and wonderful imaginations and that just naturally leads to feelings of disenfranchisement, of being cut off from everybody else. Whether you be gay, transgendered, black, white, brown, or just a nerd, whatever it is that made people give you a hard time, who among us can't relate to the misunderstood "monster"? From Frankenstein's monster to vampires to Carrie to May and little picked on Jason Voorhees, the horror genre is THEE genre for outcasts. We celebrate them, honor them, give them half-baked motivations in an effort to understand them. Our heroines even tend to be rejects, oftentimes shy, reserved, virginal or saddled with a traumatized back story that has left them scarred and removed from the rest of society in some way. It could be seen as the genre of victimization, but the end message is almost always a positive one of triumph over terrifying odds, the opposite of victimization. Wherein our put upon hero rises up and vanquishes the snarling, blood hungry metaphors for society's ills, the very things that have seeked to hold him or her back, or end them entirely. Or society's meat grinder if you will. The genre's monsters may be there to scare us, but I think most of us suspect that underneath the glowing red eyes, or behind the mask, there is a little bit of each of us. Which is the duality, we recognize the "oppressor" and the "oppressed" and often times the role reversals they go through, oftentimes relating to both as many times the oppressed become the oppressors later on in life. Many of us can understand that bitterness, that pain with little to no explanation needed as it's amazing what some people endure; the unbelievable cruelty and heartache that is so prominent in the world. Sometimes I think that that is merely our lives thrown up there on screen. Metaphorically speaking of course.

Your blog ran a countdown to Scream 4 – was it worth the wait, what did you think of the film in general?

That was a lot of fun to do, really nostalgic. Reaching back into '96, '97 and 2001 (the release dates of the first three), I was shocked at how much useless "Scream" related trivia was cluttering up my brain space but it certainly came in handy when I was writing all those articles. Though I can't say (what with an at times demanding home life), I'm eager to start another countdown for anything anytime soon. As far as whether or not it was all worth it, or more specifically, was the wait for "Scream 4" worth it, I'd have to say...partially, on both counts. The film itself presented quite a conundrum for me as a critic. On one hand, I enjoyed myself immensely with each viewing (I had to see it 3 times to suss out my feelings about it). I thought it was fun and sassy and possessed a wicked mean streak, a really good time. On the other hand, my criticisms (mostly related to the script and it's paired down running time, which was heavily edited) were legion and at odds with my aforementioned enjoyment. It walked like a "Scream" film, it talked like a "Scream" film, but I felt a lot of elements were lacking and that review, my God, that review had to be one of the most frustrating things I've ever tackled. Discussing films within films within films that are remakes, reboots, retellings of previous "Scream" films. Murders that are copycats of movies which are retellings of murders. I got it all, but trying to explain the various, clever plot threads whose tentacles stretch back over a decade in printed form without the whole piece ending up a corpulent mess was a real headache. As far as the countdown. Well, despite my...I'd say passing enjoyment of "Scream 4", I felt like the countdown amounted to a whole lot of nothing in the end. It was meant as a build up to something quite monumental so that was a bad call on my part. It was the cock tease of 2011. In my heart, when I decided to run a countdown, it was for an imagined, hypothetical film that was going to be a whole helluva lot more groundbreaking than what we got. My deepest wish was that "Scream 4" would turn the mainstream, Hollywood financed horror industry on it's head all over again. I wasn't hoping for another glut teen slasher films mind you (even though that is probably what we would have got), but a changing tide of some sort. A diversion away from remakes and rehashes, or as I like to call them, whore copies, at the very least. But alas it wasn't to be as I think "Scream 4" has been certified a bomb now and it certainly didn't make any ripples that I've detected.

In your roundup of the “worst films of 2010” you sited Skyline. I loved that movie, but I know most found it lacking. Why do you suppose certain genre films cause such extreme reactions either positive or negative, with no in-between?

Well with "genre anything", be it horror or science fiction or fantasy, you are dealing with the fanboy contingent and their preponderance with obsession tends to make them a vocal lot. Even when it's not something that they are entirely in love with, they already know how to argue their hundred and one reasons as to why something is "great" or a "masterpiece". They can be quite formidable to go head to head with about anything. I worked in a comic book shop for about year not to long ago, with a staff of about 30 working in the shipping department and those boys could really go at it sometimes, bless them (I only vaguely knew what they were talking about most times, but it was entertaining to listen to). I think with our particular sub-culture, the sub-culture of geekdom, what you occasionally have are very intelligent, very bright people who haven't necessarily had the most fulfilling of social lives sometimes (which is fine) and have built up a lot of love and loyalty for things that have substituted for actual fullfillment elsewhere in life. God knows I've done it throughout some of the harder patches in my life (I could probably quote every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from beginning to end, as a result). Anyway, I think that that particular, pre-existing way of living just naturally lends itself to being protective of things that bring us happiness. I think that those fanboy obsessions sometimes have been the safe and protective cushioning that we have built up around some of our childhood wounds. Some of those fictional, fantastical worlds have been our salvation sometimes.They have been for me anyway. They're comforting for us and they have treated us well and so we're very guarded with them. If you are a horror nut, your kinda use to not being excepted as you are, you are use to having to defend much of what interests you from grade school onwards. The great thing is though once you get older nobody but Focus on the Family gives a shit and you are left with some really great debate skills. Even if it's for a shitty movie like Skyline (love ya Pax). Other than that, human beings don't agree on anything ever anyway. I'm certainly an argumentative fella through and through.

Finally, what do you want the world to know about Justin?

What indeed. Hmm, well I've run the gamut as far as what I've wanted pursue with horror over the decades. I spent the better half of my teen years convinced I was destined to be an author but realized later on down the line that I wasn't very good at it. Likewise, I experienced a short bout of wanting to make horror movies. I still kinda do. However, I deduced early on that I didn't have it in me to play the Hollywood game of ladder climbing and ass kissing. Really perhaps I just wasn't ambitious enough, but I think I'm just too nice a guy to be vicious on a set when need be, play hard ball with studio execs or tolerate or humor exaggerated, monstrous celebrity. Plus, I can't imagine living in a city where everybody is there pursuing the exact same dream. I imagine that would get quite boring and tiresome really fast. I need variety in company.


As far as as the here and now is concerned, I'm busy having fun with The October Country. My initial aspirations for the site seem to be a bit bigger than what one man is capable of pulling off though. Which was a downer when that realization set in. However, I've been talking with people here and there and seeing if they might like to come aboard and contribute so that it's content can expand. We'll see how that goes I guess.


All of that and I intend to do my very best at getting the world to view our beloved genre with the seriousness and respect that I think that it deserves, which has become kinda hard again considering some of films that have been getting released of late. Or rather, the films that have been getting released to cineplexes nation wide. But then people shouldn't slight an entire genre because of the greedy, number crunching idiots sitting at the top and currently pulling the strings. Hopefully horror will always be the black sheep of the creative universe, I hope that never changes no matter how successful it becomes at the boxoffice. When things become too mainstream and popular, you end up with what we've had these past couple years coming out of Hollywood; watered down whore copies streamlined for mass consumption. The same 'ol thing time and time again wherein nobodies buttons are getting pushed in anyway meaningful. That's not the job of the genre, to lay there flaccid and ineffective. Horror is meant to make you feel uncomfortable. This doesn't mean that it must disgust you, it can achieve this oftentimes on a purely emotional level. But it's meant to shake you one way or the other. This unique side to our genre, which really no other genre has, is something that I think deserves serious respect. Where else can filmmakers routinely have a conversation with their audience about subject matter oftentimes deemed too dark to be discussed? Metaphorically and thinly veiled of course but discussed nonetheless. The horror genre isn't trash, it can be cinema. Horror fiction can be literature. If I change just a handful of minds and they in turn continue the argument, I'll be satisfied.


Also, all the while people have been bemoaning their belief that the genre has sucked of late, I think that many of them have failed to notice that that statement couldn't be further from the truth. Because, (and seemingly this has always been the case) the films that are contenders to be considered classics later on down the line, films like "Martyrs", "The House of the Devil", "Frozen", "Antichrist" and so many more, have all come out of the independent world. They haven't garnered the exposure of films like Nic Cage's "Season of the Witch", "Skyline" or "Legion". Which goes to show that the more things change the more they stay the same. The majority of movies that we now know are masterpieces, movies like Carpenter's "Halloween", Romero's original Dead trilogy, Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and hundreds upon hundreds of others, all came from the indie world and if they were released today, would likewise probably play 5 select cities and then go straight to DVD. I guess I'm just trying to urge people who think horror is in dire straits to get off their butts and do the leg work required to really track down the worthwhile titles. Stop allowing yourselves to be spoon-fed the dreck that Hollywood is trying to distract and disappoint you with. Don't give up on the genre because the good stuff is always out there. That's my other goal, to get more people to open their eyes to this amazing world of cinema that decidedly is not being shown in 3-D. I guess I'm a man on a mission these days.

























6/6/11

Actor, Author, Monster, Gay Icon: Thomas Tryon

From Last June - Some Gay Horror History:


Actor, author, bon vivant ; Thomas Tryon lived the kind of life most have only dreamed of.

After a stint in the armed services , Tryon entered Yale University where he studied art history.  Shortly thereafter, he switched his major to acting and eventually found his way to the stage.  In a few short years, Tryon lucked out and made his way to films.  In spite of his good looks, and decent acting abilities, Tryon had to muddle through taking roles in several horror / sci-fi / b-films.

One of Tryon's most infamous roles was that of Bill Farell, an alien passing as a red blooded All American Male in I Married A Monster From Outer Space.

Bill's wife (Gloria Talbot) realizes rather quickly, that her hunky hubby might have a secret.  He does not drink, smoke, or like sports - he's just not like the husbands of her friends...and since this was the 50's there could only be two reasons for a man  acting this way, he's either a commie or a monster! 


Considering the theme of this film, and the fact that Tryon was a gay man, he probably incorporated his real life dilemma (trying to pass as a straight man) into the way he played Bill Farell, who, after all, was trying to pass himself off as something he really was not.

After Monster..., Tryon landed  less flamboyant roles in  more mainstream films.  Two roles that brought him a lot of notoriety were in the World War II themed films, In Harm's Way and The Longest Day.

Tyron almost ended up making  a film with Marilyn Monroe when he was cast with her in the film, Something's Got to Give, however, when Monroe dropped out of the film, it was recast and Tryon was dropped.

Tryon's swan song in cinema came after he was constantly humiliated by Director (and noted son of a bitch) Otto Preminger on the set of the film, The Cardinal.  Even though he garnered a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in this film, Tryon, thanks to the bullying of his director, soured on acting and turned to writing.

In 1971, Tryon published, The Other, a terrifying tale of a little boy and his "twin" brother who wreak havoc on a small farm in rural Minnesota in 1935. The book was later made into a film (with Tryon penning the screen play).

The follow up to The Other was Harvest Home, a phenomenally disturbing tale about a New York City couple and their young daughter who pull up stakes and settle down in the bucolic hamlet of Cornwall Coombe Connecticut only to discover that the quaint village has a deep dark, pagan secret.

Over the years, Thomas Tryon moved on from the macabre and started publishing more mainstream novels including the celebrated collection of novella's Crowned Heads,  and Lady.

Writing proved to be a perfect fit for Tryon, who, as the 70's progressed, became more comfortable in his skin, and while he never openly proclaimed his sexuality, he seemed to be coming to terms with who he really was...to a point.

Always seen at the best clubs, discos and art openings in Gotham, Tryon began dating men in the arts - a long term relationship occurred when he met, Cal Culver (who was known to gay porn fans as Casey Donovan) - the duo continued a high profile relationship for several years, until Tryon grew  weary of his partner's notoriety , and how it might hurt his career as a mainstream novelist.   The monster was still not strong enough to break out of the closet, it seemed.

Thomas Tryon continued writing up until his death in 1991 from Cancer, he was 61 when he died.

At the time of his death, Tryon had just finished, Night Magic, a modern re-telling of The Sorcerer's Apprentice with a much darker undertone as the book's hero not only must choose between fame and his immortal soul, he must also choose between a malevolent but fascinating older man, or the love of a decent girlfriend.   It would seem that even in his twilight years, Tryon was still struggling with that same monster he had confronted many years earlier.

6/5/11

Profiles in Horror : Patrick Campbell, The Work in Progress.

Known for his minimalist blog, the late lamented, Stabbing Stabbing Stabbing, Patrick Campbell is the kind of guy who can watch almost a half a dozen films in a day and have an opinion on each one. Having recently made peace with his sexuality as well as his spirituality, Patrick is a work in progress. Be warned, I’ve read this guy’s writing; if he ever buckles down to it, he is probably going to set the literary and critical world on fire.


Patrick, What drew you to horror films? Was it a gradual thing, or were you fond of the macabre as a child?

Aside from The Nightmare Before Christmas and my brother's lucky find of Poltergeist at a book sale, not much horror as (a) young one. My teen years brought in more, and then there was conservative Catholicism, and then I watched like crazy.


I understand that you recently returned to Catholicism, do you ever find your spirituality at odds with your enjoyment of horror films?

Not really, no. I'm really open minded, don't care what path you take as long as it's a healthy one. If God's sending me to simmer for eternity for watching horror movies, then I really don't know God.


Let’s talk ex Catholic to current Catholic, what did you REALLY think of The Exorcist and its portrayal of The Church?

I think it portrays evil realistically and shows Priests as they really are, human. I'd recommend it to the religious, non-religious, sorta-religious, etc.


What is your all time favorite horror film, and why.

Friday the 13th, 1980 one. I've seen a lot of times and never been disappointed with it, it kick started my favorite horror film series, and it has my favorite slasher villain. No, not the one in the lake.


Since you identify as bisexual this will be a two part question:
A – What Scream Queen or Final Girl would you most like to date (not the actress, the character)
B – What Horror Movie Hunk would you most like to date (not the actor, the character).

Oh good gravy. Um, for A I'll choose Sidney Prescott. She's dealt with a lot of people who have a lot of problems. She might be able to put up with me, and she'd kick my ass if I deserved it. I haven't seen Scream 4 so this is based on Scream 1-3 Sidney. She may have become an alien in the fourth for all I know.


For B, Friday the 13th's Steve Christy. For the facial hair alone.

Do you think horror films in general speak to the disenfranchised?


Um, yes, they tend to focus on people who don't fit in with what's considered average society. And judging by their popularity, there's a lot of disenfranchised folks out there.

OK, you get a call from the Vatican, Pope Benedict is coming over. What do you serve for dinner, and what horror film do you show him?


Um, oh boy. Is there any way to answer this and not actually receive a call from the Vatican? We're having pizza, who doesn't like pizza. And we're watching Rosemary's Baby. What can I say, he is my Pope, but we're not friends, and if I'm getting kicked out, might as well leave with knowing the Pope's expression if he did watch Rosemary's Baby.


Finally, what do you want the world to know about Patrick Campbell?

I'm a work in progress, and I hope the final art piece is a good one.

6/3/11

Profiles In Horror : Chris Moore, The Entertainer

Director, singer, performer, student, artistic-provocateur; Chris Moore defies description, and dislikes labels. With one full length horror film already under his belt (well before the age of 30). Moore is one of those those guys who seems destined for big things. I can honestly say, that I find Chris to be an interesting guy with a future in front of him so bright, he’ll probably have have to wear shades.  

Pull up a seat and meet a guy who loves blood and gore, as well as a  good showtune. 

Chris, I already know that you have a love for musical theater, comedy and music in general – where did the love of horror come from?

I think the love of horror really came from my love of fairy tales back in the day. I was never a fan of the glossy, sugary Disney versions, although I did enjoy them an awful lot. What I remember most are the countless volumes of these stories that I'd check out at my local library. The REAL versions! The Grimm brothers versions! I just loved the villains. They were so much more dimensional than the heroes and heroines. Even before I knew what real horror was, I was drawn to stories like that. The first horror films I can remember seeing all the way through were Psycho and House of Wax when I was around 5 or 6 years old. Before then, if I saw a poster, video tape, or a TV spot for a horror film, I'd rush out of the room, terrified, and then have nightmares about it for weeks.

What would you consider your favorite horror film and why.

Wow! That's a tough one! So many to pick from! I guess I'd have to say Halloween. I know it by heart. It was one of the first horror films I ever saw (the week before Halloween on USA Network! I can remember it vividly!) I just love the atmosphere, the pacing, the music, and the diverse selection of characters. Everyone knows a Laurie, a Dr. Loomis, an Annie, a Lynda, etc. It's such a relatable  film on so many levels. I always felt a little bit like a Laurie Strode with a little Annie Brackett thrown in, of course. Even in a crowd, I sometimes feel alone. I think everyone can identify with that. I've also had a group of friends where I'd stop and think "Why am I with these people? I mean, I like 'em and all, but we're such a strange group!" Plus, I'm sarcastic like Annie and a lot of people around me don't seem to get that. I think lots of people find me cold because I'm a mix or those two. Shy, reserved...but also loud, opinionated, and a little bit of a smart ass!

If you could adapt a horror film and turn it into a big Broadway musical, which would it be? And who would you cast (other than yourself)?

A Broadway horror musical, eh? Gee, Officer Krupke, I don't know! I always felt that Flowers in that Attic might make a good musical, but is that really horror? Hmmm...maybe Pieces if it was staged in an over the top manner! I'd love to hear a big, belty 11 o'clock number called  "BASTARD!" C'mon, that would be gold! I'm glad they're bringing back Carrie: The Musical, though. I think with a few tweaks here and there, it could be a hit! The music is gorgeous!   Actually, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? would be GREAT for a musical! It just came to me!

Your feature film, Perversion , had a very 1970’s vibe to it. Was that intentional? Are you a fan of 70’s cinema in general?


Oh, it was totally intentional! I LOVE 70's cinema! There was such a great "anything goes" vibe to the films of that time period. You could make a film about anything, get it financed, and shown in theaters and drive-ins all around the world. It was a very creative time for filmmakers and they were able to break a lot of barriers and taboos because there were no rules anymore. The studio system had collapsed, so there was no one to say "No! That topic is too hot button!" or "No one wants to see a film about people like that!" It was a terrific time. Plus, the gritty aesthetic is something I like a lot.

Perversion also had a very homoerotic vibe to it. Was that intentional as well, or was it something that just occurred as your worked on the script?

Perversion was originally written with a female lead in mind, but as I was going into the 2nd act, I realized no girl I knew would do this film. And then it hit me! If it was a guy, it would be a million times more disturbing, because no one's used to seeing a guy in jeopardy, especially that kind of sexual jeopardy. I thought it would be fun to play with that and see how an audience would respond. I've seen it with a few different audiences and it's a fascinating experience. I don't think the film would have stood out as much had it just been another "female in jeopardy" film. It would have been old hat, but by simply subverting the audience's expectations, it became something far more interesting.

Are you going to do anymore horror films, or are you planning to strike out in a totally different direction?

I'd love to do more horror films. It's my favorite genre. I'm actually working on a script right now that deals with some other hot button issues. It's about bullying and how it can go too far. It has a sort of Prom Night-esque feel to it. People think it's going to be a typical slasher/revenge film, but it veers off into a different direction and shows how the bullies really feel about what they've done to this poor kid. It's got a pretty sick sense of humor, too, which is what I'm starting to get known for. It's a very dark concept, so I'm trying to help lighten it up a bit, y'know! I'd love to do some more comedy! I love comedy! It's so much fun to play! Acting wise, that's my favorite genre, cause I'm such a goofball, but writing wise, my comedy, like I said, is very dark and twisted. I'm really open for anything right now. A good drama would be fantastic. Or a musical. Always up for a musical. Hey, Mr. Sondheim, give me a call!

Do you think that horror films in general speak to the disenfranchised?


I think horror films totally speak to the disenfranchised. Look at something like Carrie or May. These are profoundly beautiful and moving films where the characters are feeling what most of us have felt at least a few times in our lives. We just want to be noticed. I think that's what all humans want. It's basic and simple. It all comes down to wanting other people to realize they exist. Horror films give a lot of people a way to see that they're not alone. It's kinda beautiful when you think about it. Sure, some of those characters don't win in the end, but it at least puts the spotlight on those wallflower type characters. I wish I knew why I was drawn to these films. It's hard to describe. Believe it or not, I wasn't always the sultry sexpot you see before you today. LOL! I felt very isolated and alone. While I never had any real enemies until I went to an arts college (you don't even have to be looking for them for them to find you there), most of my friends moved away, transferred to different schools, etc. It's hard having your best friends leave you like that. You start to feel alone. I was never that cool , mainly because I was never good at sports in school, although I tried very hard for a few years. Funnily enough, I now enjoy playing sports every now and then. Isn't it hilarious how now, when I don't need them as a social crutch, I enjoy them? I also stuttered, as well, so that never helps! I still don't understand what caused it. Some found it cute, but I just found it annoying. My mind was working faster than my mouth. Maybe that means I'm some kind of genius, huh? One can only wish! I think horror films let me see that maybe I don't have it as bad as I think I do. Plus, they're fantasy films! They take you away into a different world for two hours. What's wrong with that? We all need a little break every now and then.

OK, this is a question that only you could answer: A knife fight between Ethel Merman’s Mama Rose and Bette Davis', Baby Jane Hudson – who gets cut?


Ethel Vs Bette? Oh, my! Well, you know that the real Rose Hovick actually did kill someone and buried her on her farm. I think she was a lesbian, too! I think they should do a sequel to Gypsy and show that stuff. It would be fascinating. As for a fight? Well, Rose was a strong dame! Poor Jane was so in her own world that Rose might very well be able to take her down. She'd at least talk her ears off until she got what she wanted. Rose was far more verbally violent, whereas Jane always seemed more unhinged. She'd probably the one doing the cutting, but I'm sure Rose would cut right back!

Finally, here is your chance, what do you want the world to know about Chris Moore?

What do I want people to know about me? Well, I guess that I'm loyal. Pretty much, pay me a compliment or do something nice for me and you're my friend for life. I love chicken 'n dumplings! I'm a good ol' Southern boy, so my taste in food is pretty simple:if it's fried, I'll probably like it. Except fried Twinkies or (in Oprah voice) deeeeeeppp frrrrriiieeeddd buuuuttttteeeeer! That's just nasty as Hell! I went to a state fair with my friends last year and they had a whole booth of deep friend everything. Even deep fried, chocolate covered bacon! Yeeeesh! Anyway, I'm obsessed with the TV show Gilmore Girls! I think Lauren Graham and I would be a very cute couple! It's my dream to one day play Rose in Gypsy, although it will never happen, as I'm not a big fan of drag. I'm hoping they'll make a version of the show with a Papa Ross instead. It's possible, right? I'm a Stephen Sondheim freak! I love that man. He's a total genius. I have to work with him one day. If I did, I could die happy! I've got a great little YouTube review vlog called Confessions of A Horror Baby, which is coming back this month, where I review the best, worst, and most ridiculously weird films I can find. I work in skits, musings, and the occasional musical number in there. It's a lot of fun! Everyone should check it out! I really just want to get my name out there and have people enjoy my films and my performances. I want to be employed! I'll take anything I can get! Low budget, big budget, birthday parties, weddings, strip clubs, etc.! It's always been my secret dream to be one of those big cult movie stars like Mary Woronov, Joe Dallesandro, Divine, Mink Stole, Pia Zadora, etc. It'd like to at least get to a level of mainstream success where I don't have to worry about money ever again and just do great b-movies for the rest of my career. In the next few years, don't be surprised to see me whoring myself out in movies like High School Musical 6 or on T.V. shows like Gossip Girl. I need the money to make good movies! I just want to entertain! Always have, always will!