Jun 28, 2012

EVIL DEAD: AN ANIMATED TRIBUTE

Jun 26, 2012

REVIEW: THE AGGRESSION SCALE


I wasn’t expecting much from The Aggression Scale when I sat down to watch it. Its director, Steven C. Miller, had prior made Automaton Transfusion, which I absolutely despised, and Scream of the Banshee, through which I lasted the first fifteen minutes. In fact, had I noticed it was a Steven C. Miller film as I was placing it into my queue, I likely would have opted out.

Much to my surprise, The Aggression Scale was pretty entertaining. In a plot that can easily be described as Home Alone on bath salts (topical!), a group of mafia thugs hunt down a mob king’s missing money, which was stolen by one of his former employees. Despite the thief having bought a large and isolated house in the woods with his brand new wife, her daughter, and his own introverted son, the thugs locate the family easy. And shit gets real.

The introvert, named Owen, doesn’t say a word to anyone. Not much is explained about him right away, and so his stepsister, Lauren, pretty much treats him like shit—it’s bad enough that she came home one day to find her stuff in boxes and the parents preparing to move without having discussed it with her, but now she’s forced to live alongside a “freak” of a stepbrother. Well, once the thugs come calling, that freak comes in handy, as Owen suddenly comes alive, quite adept at fucking with his predators by setting traps and making them run in circles. 

And that’s where the title of the film comes into play: on the official medical “aggression scale,” Owen has scored 95 out of 100. In the past he’s beaten the shit out of school bullies with whom he was sick of dealing, though not in self defense, but pretending to flee from them into an isolated area, upon which he opens up a can of twelve-year-old whoop ass. Owen’s father, it turns out, has used the money for a shady deal to buy his son out of the psychiatric hospital where he was remanded before he was to be transferred to an adult prison.


The Aggression Scale is an intelligently conceived film in the sense that certain parts of it make you think, “oh, that was neat how Owen did that just then.” If the movie can show you a certain scenario that you yourself never would have thought of, you might be inclined to think that the movie is smarter than you. But it’s not (though the movie isn’t stupid, either. At least…not that stupid.) Because if you start thinking too hard about the movie’s premise, it starts to make less and less sense. For instance, I can buy that the kid is super aggressive, but since when has aggression and cunning been synonymous? Just because a kid has a bad temper, how does that suddenly equate to knowing how to mix noxious chemicals with basic household implements? How the fuck does he know how to drive all of a sudden? And you would think that after having bought his kid out of a psychiatric hospital, the father (portrayed as a good and loving man) might have sat down his new family additions and been like, “A’ight, here’s the deal with Owen.”

It’s petty quibbling on my part, though, because I enjoyed The Aggression Scale much more than I thought I would. It doesn’t want to be intelligent or well-thought out, it just wants to be entertaining and clever, and it is. It relishes in being a piece of pulp entertainment, which is never more evident than in the last ten seconds of the movie. Basically, it's okay with being cheap fun.


The notable stars of the film all happen to be the villains, and consist of Ray Wise as the mafia king, Dana Ashbrook as the leader of the thugs (you may remember him as the young cable repair man from Return of the Living Dead II—you know: “They want brains? We’ll GIVE them brains!”) and Derek Mears (the newest Jason Voorhees). Mears just might be my favorite character, playing someone somewhere between a pervert and a complete sociopath. It's fun seeing him in an actual role.

Young Ryan Hartwig does a great job as Owen, especially with the fact that he doesn’t say a single thing during the film, although at times what the kid is capable of doing comes across as more dangerous and intimidating than the kid himself: personally I would think that someone who scored 95/100 on an aggression scale would frown from time to time, but the kid wears one face the whole movie: looking at something.

Fabianne Therese plays Lauren, who is such a bitch during the first third of the movie that you kinda wish she’d be Owen’s first victim. She eventually loosens up after cutting her hand on a window and crying about it for pretty much the rest of the running time.


Miller is currently prepping a remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night, which to me sounds like a relatively difficult premise to fuck up. Killer Santa = killer gold, so let’s just see what happens.

Jun 20, 2012

SHITTY FLICKS: JAWS 5: CRUEL JAWS

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


Long ago, when the moon was high and the water was rising, a man named Bruno Mattei (R.I.P.) was born. His destiny for filmmaking greatness was carved in stone, but that stone, it turns out, wasn't stone at all - it was stinky, rotting cheese; and soon, Bruno began making the shittiest films you could ever imagine. Titles such as S.S. Extermination Love Camp, Porno Exotic Love, Porno Holocaust and Terminator II (but amazingly enough, not the Terminator II) were blazoned upon movie marquees. His films were hailed as exploitation trash, but gradually they developed their own cult following, as will anything incredibly stupid.

Bruno's masterpiece, Cruel Jaws, is something of a legend. Its title is whispered about on websites and blogs. Anyone who likes shark movies, or bad Italian cinema, has heard of its existence. And Cruel Jaws is unique, to be sure; not because of its plot, or of Bruno's presence, but because the film utilizes blatantly stolen footage from many different shark movies (the entire Jaws series, as well as The Last Shark and Deep Blood). The movie itself is a bold-faced rip-off of the original Jaws, and was even released as Jaws 5 in some foreign territories.

There are some out there who can look at a movie like Shark Attack or Deep Blue Sea and exclaim, "Pfft...Jaws rip-off!" simply because the movie is about sharks. Cruel Jaws is something much more than a rip-off, for it's a literal unauthorized remake of the first Jaws. Same lines of dialogue are spoken by their respective “characters,” only these new characters aren’t nearly as cool as the previous. Instead of Roy Scheider, we get a sweaty sheriff who plays second banana to the Richard Dreyfuss replacement, Wiener Man. And instead of the immeasurably cool and legendary Robert Shaw, we get a freakish-looking doppelganger of Hulk Hogan. Cruel Jaws also steals the disbelieving town mayor archetype. Peter Benchley even receives credit as a writer.

Drooping one step lower than you typical, half-assed shark film, the movie contains a mixture of stock footage, “original” footage, and the previously mentioned outright-stolen footage. Because this footage is so haphazardly smashed together, there is even a scene in which terrified onlookers point at a shark and scream during the day, and then we get a good look at the shark they are screaming at; a shark that's clearly swimming around in the dark ocean waters...at night.

Dag always laughs as he watches his crippled daughter
attempt to use the Slip-N-Slide.

The movie begins and we meet our the main protagonist, Dag, as he cavorts around in an obnoxious neon green hat and plays with dolphins at the aquarium he owns. Then we meet Dag's daughter, Gimp, who is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. However, said paralysis does not prevent said girl from kicking her obviously functional legs out from under her when she swims.

Wiener Man, along with his frumpy girlfriend, show up to celebrate the town's upcoming regatta. The couple bears some untold relationship to Gimp, but this relationship is left to wallow in its own obscurity.

It's pretty much right around here, I guess at the eight-minute mark, that the movie begins to blatantly steal from Jaws, as Wiener Man describes spending "18 months at sea on a floating asylum for oceanic research." This same character will later go on to explain that, "All sharks do are swim, eat, and make baby sharks...and that's all." Granted, the boy may be a geek, but he's not the Lord of the Geeks: Richard Dreyfuss, who originally delivered this dialogue exactly 20 years prior to this movie.

As the film continues, the stock and stolen footage continues to contradict itself, showing both tiger sharks and great whites, but hey, who's watching? You're not.

And just when you might notice such a glaring error as that, a man who seriously looks like the former dirty dancer himself, Patrick Swayzee (R.I.P.), shows up, playing the smarmy son of the smarmy mayor and dirtily dances around the beaches with his beach bunny.

Among other things "borrowed" from other films would be, oh, I guess the theme from Star Wars that is changed at the very last minute so as to sound different. I find it baffling that the filmmakers, who clearly have no problem stealing whole screenplay pages and footage from other movies would be remiss to steal the infamous Jaws theme as well. I also find it baffling that I am even watching this movie.

The nerdy couple goes to a disco dance club where they meet up with some equally nerdy friends. One of their friends, a stupid girl, exclaims, "I wanna dance!" as she is already dancing.

Thankfully, the titular shark of cruelty attacks and the town goes apeshit. As per Jaws, people go nuts trying to kill the shark to collect the handsome bounty.

Wiener Man tries in vain to tell the authorities what they are dealing with: "A sort of locomotive with a mouth full of butcher's knives." Shockingly, no one opts to listen to the wiener who spouts odd metaphors.

This event will, unfortunately, see the end of Patrick Swayzee and his battalion of cracker friends. The shark breaches, trying in vain to reach that hunk of meat that's nestled in the nether regions of the stock footage, and Patrick falls in the water.

As Patrick is gobbled up, his annoying girlfriend shrieks wildly and douses herself in gasoline in some half-assed attempt to burn the shark. Random boy figures this would be a perfect time to take aim with his trusty flare gun, and he fires at the shark (in order to edit in stolen footage of a boat explosion from Jaws 2 that this scene is depending on to conclude).

You wouldn't think it to look at her, but Marcy was
fucking hardcore during street fights.

Our idiotic trio has had enough of this sharkery, and the nerdy biologist and Dag decide it is time to go mano-a-squalo. As the two prepare for their battle on the dock, Gimp blatantly stands to hug her freak father before he sets off on a shark-hunting extravaganza of stolen footage and retardation.

Brutish men, on hire from the corrupt mayor, set out after the crew to silence them regarding some bullshit reason. But gosh, in all that open ocean, how will these men ever find them? Perhaps they could use that map that our heroes conveniently placed out in the open. You know, the map that depicts an area of charted ocean that is circled in fat red marker, with "IT'S HERE!" scrawled next to a fat red arrow confirming their destination.

And since we're now officially in a cartoon, I can't help but wonder when they're going to load up their ship with anvils.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Berger has a sudden attack of genius. He grabs a hunk of meat, a large hook, and hops in a helicopter to fly over the ocean, dangling said meat on said hook. He thinks this will work. We know it won't. You can pretty much guess what happens next.

Shark wailed in heartbreak as Helicopter,
who was biting back tears of his own, fled ashamedly.

Sheriff Berger shouts, "We're gonna need a bigger helicopter," gets pulled down into the water, and is instantly eaten. Then the shark lowers itself into the water and FARTS. (Granted, it was merely escaping air that had been caught in the head of the prop shark, but that's erroneous. It FARTED at me.)

Our idiotic trio sets some charges below in the sunken craft (kinda like exactly how Deep Blood ended) and causes the shark to explode… three different times in order to incorporate stolen footage from three different movies.

And at the very clipped ending of the third explosion, Mattei actually has the audacity to recreate the famous bone-to-spaceship shot from Kubrick's 2001, only this time, with a shark-exploding-multiple-times to jumping-dolphins shot.

I know what you’re thinking: you’re going to hop on Amazon to locate your own, personal copy of Cruel Jaws, perhaps one that comes with a digital copy that you could put on your iDag. But alas, the film is not available in the US, due to Universal Studios' immediate lawsuit filed against the movie's release back in '95. However, for the more savvy Googlers, there are copies of it floating around in cyberspace like a terrible shark prop, just waiting for you to Paypal your way into its heart.

In conclusion, when you're at the video store, staring at the case for Jaws, and wondering if you really want to watch it again for the 217th time, I recommend you go home, jump on eBay, and bid on a Region 0 DVD for Cruel Jaws. Then you can sit there and wait and re-bid and wait and re-bid and then get outbid by the big nerd who is willing to pay a lot of money for a stupid shark movie from Italy.

Jun 17, 2012

THE GATE


95% of the human genome is composed of redundant gene sequences. They appear to have no known biological function. Could a chance event reactivate them? Genetic freaks wander the streets courtesy of irresponsible pharmaceutical companies.

Jun 16, 2012

HAUNTED

"The caretakers will leave at midnight, locking us in here until they come back in the morning. Once the door is locked, there's no way out. The windows have bars that a jail would be proud of, and the only door to the outside locks like a vault. There's no electricity, no phone, no one within miles, so no way to call for help."
 






Jun 13, 2012

DO I DARE GET EXCITED?

Exclusive: Phantasm 5 a Reality
June 5th, 2012

You read the headline. You have the same questions we all do. While at this point in time we cannot elaborate on many details, we can tell you this... the ball has definitely not stopped spinning, and there are wonderfully ghastly things on the way!

Before we get into details surrounding what we know, remember this - we rarely publish stories that are pure rumor, and if we do, we're very upfront about it. We would NOT tell you guys that Phantasm 5 is happening and happening soon unless we were at least 95% sure of the news. That being said...

We just got off the wire with our very own Rob Delamorte, who has been informed by an extremely reliable source that Phantasm 5 is fully scripted and will begin filming this year. You can expect to hear more about this one soon.

Let the speculation begin.

Update
As expected, as of right now some of the folks behind the Phantasm franchise are either remaining tight-lipped or giving statements such as Don Coscarelli did to Bloody Disgusting... "I have no solid news to report on a new project now," which is kind of a standard and dubious answer. Why not just say this is definitely not happening or all the reports are false? There's always a margin for error when running a news site, but we're sticking to our guns with this one. Time will tell. Stay tuned.
I'd give this world a million Batmans, James Bonds, and Indiana Jones, if it gave me just one more Phantasm...

Jun 11, 2012

Jun 6, 2012

RIP RAY BRADBURY


THE LAKE
Ray Bradbury

The wave shut me off from the world, from the birds in the sky, the children on the beach, my mother on the shore. There was a moment of green silence. Then the wave gave me back to the sky, the sand, the children yelling. I came out of the lake and the world was waiting for me, having hardly moved since I went away.

I ran up on the beach.

Mama swabbed me with a furry towel. "Stand there and dry," she said.

I stood there, watching the sun take away the water beads on my arms. I replaced them with goose pimples.

"My, there's a wind," said Mama. "Put on your sweater."

"Wait'll I watch my goose bumps," I said.

"Harold," said Mama.

I put the sweater on and watched the waves come up and fall down on the beach. But not clumsily. On purpose, with a green sort of elegance as those waves.

Even a drunken man could not collapse with such elegance as those waves.

It was September. In the last days when things are getting sad for no reason. The beach was so long and lonely with only about six people on it. The kids quit bouncing the ball because somehow the wind made them sad, too, whistling the way it did, and the kids sat down and felt autumn come along the endless shore.

All of the hot-dog stands were boarded up with strips of golden planking, sealing in all the mustard, onion, meat odors of the long, joyful summer. It was like nailing summer into a series of coffins.

One by one the places slammed their covers down, padlocked their doors, and the wind came and touched the sand, blowing away all of the million footprints of July and August. It got so that now, in September, there was nothing but the mark of my rubber tennis shoes and Donald and Delius Arnold's feet, down by the water curve.

Sand blew up in curtains on the sidewalks, and the merry-go-round was hidden with canvas, all of the horses frozen in mid-air on their brass poles, showing teeth, galloping on. With only the wind for music, slipping through canvas.

I stood there. Everyone else was in school. I was not. Tomorrow I would be on my way west across the United States on a train. Mom and I had come to the beach for one last brief moment.

There was something about the loneliness that made me want to get away by myself. "Mama, I want to run up the beach aways," I said.

"All right, but hurry back, and don't go near the water."

I ran. Sand spun under me and the wind lifted me. You know how it is, running, arms out so you feel veils from your fingers, caused by wind. Like wings.

Mama withdrew into the distance, sitting. Soon she was only a brown speck and I was all alone. Being alone is a newness to a twelve-year-old child. He is so used to people about. The only way he can be alone is in his mind. There are so many real people around, telling children what and how to do, that a boy has to run off down a beach, even if it's only in his head, to get by himself in his own world.

So now I was really alone.

I went down to the water and let it cool up to my stomach.

Always before, with the crowd, I hadn't dared to look, to come to this sot and search around in the water and a certain name.

But now…Water is like a magician. Sawing you in half. It feels as if you were cut in two, part of you, the lower part, sugar, melting, dissolving away. Cool water, and once in awhile a very elegantly stumbling wave that fell with a flourish of lace.

I called her name.

A dozen times I called it.

"Tally! Tally! Oh Tally!”

You really expect answers to your calling when you are young. You feel that whatever you may think can be real. And some times maybe that is not so wrong.

I thought of Tally, swimming out into the water last May, with her pigtails trailing, blond. She went laughing, and the sun was on her small twelve-year-old shoulders. I thought of the water settling quiet, of the lifeguard leaping into it, of Tally's mother screaming, and of how Tally never came out….

The lifeguard tried to persuade her to come out, but she did not. He came back with only bits of water-weed in his big-knuckled fingers, and Tally was gone. She would not sit across from me at school any longer, or chase indoor balls on the brick streets on summer nights. She had gone too far out, and the lake would not let her return.

And now in the lonely autumn when the sky was huge and the water was huge and the beach was so very long, I had come down for the last time, alone.

I called her name again and again. “Tally, oh, Tally!”

The wind blew so very softly over my ears, the way wind blows over the mouths of sea-shells to set them whispering. The water rose, embraced my chest, then my knees, up and down, one way and another, sucking under my heels.

"Tally! Come back, Tally!"

I was only twelve. But I know how much I loved her. It was that love that comes before all significance of body and morals. It was that love that is no more bad than wind and sea and sand lying side by side forever. It was made of all the warm long days together at the beach, and the humming quiet days of droning education at the school. All the long autumn days of the years past when I had carried her books home from school.

“Tally!”

I called her name for the last time. I shivered. I felt water on my face and did not know how it got there. The waves had not splashed that high.

Turning, I retreated to the sand and stood there for half an hour, hoping for one glimpse, one sign, one little bit of Tally to remember. Then, I knelt and built a sand castle, shaping it fine, building it as Tally and I had often built so many of them. But this time, I only built half of it. Then I got up.

"Tally, if you hear me, come in and build the rest."

I walked off toward that far-away speck that was Mama. The water came in, blended the sandcastle circle by circle, mashing it down little by little into the original smoothness.

Silently, I walked along the shore.

Far away, a merry-go-round jangled faintly, but it was only the wind.

The next day, I went away on the train.

A train has a poor memory; it soon puts all behind it. It forgets the cornlands of Illinois, the rivers of childhood, the bridges, the lakes, the valleys, the cottages, the hurts and the joys. It spreads them out behind and they drop back of a horizon.

I lengthened my bones, put flesh on them, changed my mind for an older one, and threw away clothes as they no longer fitted, shifted from grammar to high school, to college. And there was a young woman in Sacramento. I knew her for a time, and we were married. By the time I was twenty-two, I had almost forgotten what the East was like.

Margaret suggested that our delayed honeymoon be taken back in that direction.

Like a memory, a train works both ways. A train can bring rushing back all those things you left behind so many years before.

Lake Bluff, population 10,000, came up over the sky. Margaret looked so handsome in her fine new clothes. She watched me as I felt my old world gather me back into its living. She held my arm as the train slid into Bluff Station and our baggage was escorted out.

So many years, and the things they do to people's faces and bodies. When we walked through the town together I saw no one I recognized. There were faces with echoes in them. Echoes of hikes on ravine trails. Faces with small laughter in them from closed grammar schools and swinging on metal-linked swings and going up and down on teeter-totters. But I didn't speak. I walked and looked and filled up inside with all those memories, like leaves stacked for autumn burning.

We stayed on two weeks in all, revisiting all the places together. The days were happy. I thought I loved Margaret well. At least I thought I did.

It was on one of the last days that we walked down by the shore. It was not quite as late in the year as that day so many years before, but the rest evidences of desertion were coming upon the beach. People were thinning out, several of the hot-dog stands had been shuttered and nailed, and the wind, as always, waited there to sing for us.

I almost saw Mama sitting on the sand as she used to sit. I had that feeling again of wanting to be alone. But I could not force myself to speak of this to Margaret. I only held onto herand waited. It got late in the day. Most of the children had gone home and only a few men and women remained basking in the windy sun.

The lifeguard boat pulled up on the shore. The lifeguard stepped out of it, slowly, with something in his arms.

I froze there. I held my breath and I felt small, only twelve years old, very little, very infinitesimal and afraid. The wind howled. I could not see Margaret. I could see only the beach, the lifeguard slowly emerging from the boat with a gray sack in his hands, not very heavy, and his face almost as gray and lined.

"Stay here, Margaret," I said. I don't know why I said it.

"But, why?"

"Just stay here, that's all…"

I walked slowly down the sand to where the lifeguard stood. He looked at me.

"What is it?" I asked.

The lifeguard kept looking at me for a long time and he couldn't speak. He put the gray sack on the sand, and water whispered wet up around it and went back.

"What is it?" I insisted.

"Strange," said the lifeguard, quietly.

I waited.

"Strange," he said, softly. "Strangest thing I ever saw. She's been dead a long time."

I repeated his words.

He nodded. "Ten years, I'd say. There haven't been any children drowned here this year. There were twelve children drowned since 1933, but we found all of them before a few hours had passed. All except one, I remember. This body here, why it must be ten years in the water. It's not…pleasant."

I stared at the gray sack in his arms. "Open it," I said. I don't know why I said it. The wind was louder.

He fumbled with the sack.

"Hurry, man, open it!" I cried.

"I better not do that," he said. Then perhaps he saw the way my face must have looked. "She was such a little girl…"

He opened it only part way. That was enough.

The beach was deserted. There was only the sky and the wind and the water and the autumn coming on lonely. I looked down at her there.

I said something over and over. A name. The lifeguard looked at me. "Where did you find her?" I asked.

"Down the beach, that way, in the shallow water. It's a long, long time for her, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is. Oh God, yes it is.”

I thought: people grow. I have grown. But she has not changed. She is still small. She is still young. Death does not permit growth or change. She still has golden hair. She will be forever young and I will love her forever, oh God, I will love her forever.

The lifeguard tied up the sack again.

Down the beach, a few moments later, I walked by myself. I stopped, and looked down at something. This is where the lifeguard found her, I said to myself.

There, at the water's edge, lay a sand castle, only half-built. Just like Tally and I used to build them. She half and I half.

I looked at it. I knelt beside the sand castle and saw the small prints of feet coming in from the lake and going back out to the lake again and not returning.

Then…I knew.

"I'll help you finish it," I said.

I did. I built the rest of it up very slowly, then I arose and turned away and walked off, so as not to watch it crumble in the waves, as all things crumble.

I walked back up the beach to where a strange woman named Margaret was waiting for me, smiling...


Today has not been a good day. Now it's even worse.

RIP, Ray Bradbury. Thank you so much for everything you've written.

Especially "The Lake."

Jun 5, 2012

ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES: AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER MARRONE

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (review here) is just one of the latest films released by the infamously prolific Asylum Films. While the film isn't perfect, it is among the mini studio's best releases in their ten year history. 

The film, whose release preempts that of the bigger-budgeted Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by almost a month, is a heavily inspired tale of our sixteenth president forced to fight legions of the undead. In this case, the film replaces one mythical creature with another – from vampires to zombies – who Lincoln decapitates with great vengeance and furious anger. It stars fan favorite Bill Oberst, Jr. in the title role, as well as a supporting cast of relative unknowns. Among the cast is Christopher Marrone, who sports a caterpillar mustache and Civil War-era garb to play Pat Garrett, historically famous for the assassination of outlaw William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. Chris was nice enough to share his experiences on the film, as well as his career, his views on the current state of horror, and what he has lined up in the future.



Was there a turning point in your life where you knew you wanted to be an actor? Was it a particular film or filmmaker? Or did you simply always have that desire?

I don’t know if there was a particular turning point exactly, because I was raised by two former actors. My father and mother met in New York while doing an off-Broadway play. I grew up with stories from both of them and knew at a young age that I wanted to be involved with the film business.

Were your parents involved in anything that might sound familiar to our readers? Did they take part in features or television, or did they strictly perform on the stage?

My mother was mainly a theater actor, her true love was the stage. I know she auditioned for film and TV, but with her voice and ability, she was meant for [the stage]. My father was also a theater actor, but he began to make his way into film and television. He was a big guy and worked as a security specialist for film executives and the talent, so it put him right in front of the people you'd want to meet. Being a talented actor and making healthy friendships with these people led to him working pretty consistently within TV/film. Some notable projects are Woody Allen's segment for New York Stories, "Miami Vice," and Men of Respect (starring John Turturro).

Because both of your parents are actors, how often does it turn into acting school at home? Do you all compare notes and swap advice? Have you ever dared critique a performance by either of them?

My parents were great about my upbringing when it came to the entertainment business, so it didn't turn into an acting school so much, but whenever we watched films and TV shows, they shared their input and commentary on the stronger talent in the project. I don't know if they knew at the time, but I believe subconsciously I was taking notes on who they talked about, and why they came across better on screen. I don't think that thought has ever crossed my mind until you brought it up.

Growing up, I was still able to see them perform on stage for some of my youth, and from what I remember they did a damn good job.

What was your first professional acting experience?

What I consider to be my FIRST professional experience was working on “Field of Vision” for NBC. I played a high school football player, which was amusing to me, because I had just gotten done playing college football… [and now I was] portraying a high school football player on screen.

You have spent time on both television and feature film productions. What would you say is the difference between the two, if any?

I feel like the difference is more with time. With television, usually one episode is 7-10 days of shooting, so there is this sense of pressure when the week is coming to an end. They obviously map it out in scheduling to work, but it still doesn't stop that feeling [of pressure]. With film, it’s not as “turn and burn,” so to speak, but more of a longer effort…but there's still a sense of urgency, as you only have the window of time to get what you can get during principal photography. I’m a fan of both styles of production, so if it’s strictly film for myself here on out I am fine with that, and if I land a re-occurring role on a TV show, I will be just as happy.

How did you come to be involved with The Asylum’s Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies?

Darla Clarkson. That is how. Darla is a local casting director here in Atlanta. I had originally submitted for a film she was involved with about a month before Lincoln vs. Zombies came along. Darla and I met, which went really well, and she told me she would keep me at top of her list of actors. She was offered casting director by The Asylum for Lincoln vs. Zombies and then my phone rang. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity if it were not for her. Granted, I still had to audition, but for a casting director to be a fan of yours, it truly goes a long way in this business.


Over the years, The Asylum has developed a divisive, love-them-or-hate-them reputation across the Internet, inspired by their history of releasing what’s become known as “mockbusters.” Were you aware of this reputation before becoming involved with the film? If so, did that make you hesitant at all to join the production?

Prior to doing Lincoln vs. Zombies, I wasn’t fully aware of who The Asylum was...until I looked into the films they had done in the past; then I knew. I was not as much hesitant, but there was more of a “let me stop and think” mentality, as one should have with any project. I called up my family, I called up my mentor (Patrick 'P-nut' Monroe), and I called my agency. I wanted to take the role immediately, but knew I needed to think it out no matter what. Needless to say, I was happy with the decision I made, and am happy with how the film turned out.

How much research did you perform for your role as Pat Garrett, known as assassinating the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid? Did you learn anything about him that surprised you?

I did look into Pat Garrett the moment I found out I got the role. I had about a week prior to filming to research him. Much of the Pat Garrett we know is as a bad-ass lawman, and for his killing of Billy the Kid. That really allowed me to portray him in my own way – because I was a younger Pat Garrett – and not exactly emulate him based on history, or other actors who have played him, so I really enjoyed that. I did find pictures of a young Pat Garrett and I seriously believe that man had that mustache even when he left the womb.

What was it like to work with Bill Oberst Jr., who plays Lincoln in the film?

Bill Oberst, Jr. is an amazing actor, person, and a friend. The first day of filming with Bill was the scene with Garret and Lincoln’s “walk & talk.” We rehearsed the scene outside the room we were to film in, and the moment we got done rehearsing, the first thing out of his mouth was a compliment of my acting abilities. I was really humbled by that moment and he went over a few tips that have helped his performances come across a lot stronger, which I immediately made note of. I enjoyed every day on set with Bill and really hope to work with him again in the future.

In a recent interview with Oberst, Jr., he explained his approach to the role, in that Lincoln, when performed correctly, is and always will be Lincoln. Whether Lincoln’s on the moon, or wherever else, an actor must approach him as if he is the real Lincoln finding himself in an outlandish situation. He said: “I used to tour with first-person stage portrayals; Jesus Of Nazareth, Mark Twain, JFK… sometimes I’d be in a gym; sometimes on a huge stage; sometimes in a community center. But if the character is present, the historical anomalies don’t matter.” For this film, the Lincoln that history has always held was plucked down into this situation and we’re observing how Lincoln would have responded—in this case, to the walking dead. Was this mindframe something you experienced yourself when working alongside Oberst, Jr., and was this also something that made its way into your own performance?

Bill brought an element to that performance that I feel rubbed off on all of the cast that he shared screen time with. I took it upon myself after Day 1, doing our scene together, to pick his brain and see what wisdom I could gain from him. I made sure not to allow any distractions cloud my performance as much as I could. I am a huge gamer so working on Lincoln vs. Zombies was like a new land, in an RPG, and I walked away with a few points to add to my "Skill Tree of Acting Abilities."


How did you and the cast/crew approach the film, knowing it had been largely inspired by the better-known Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which releases this month?

The cast bonded quickly and knew we wanted to achieve something different for this film. The ability to compete with a multi-million dollar film was just not possible with the budget we had, so we knew not to approach it as a competition. Instead, the approach I felt on set from the cast was a “co-existing” mentality with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It’s like a heavyweight and a middleweight within the world of fighting—those two should never fight each other; yet, they are both still fighters, so they treat each other with that type of co-existing respect. That is, in my opinion, how these two films should be looked at: we fight in the same ring and fight the same fight…we just don't fight each other. So, let’s not say one is better than the other, but let’s say they both put up a great fight and deserve respect.

What was your overall experience on the film?

I really enjoyed working this movie and believe that doors will open for all of us involved. I made some life-long friends off this set and met some people who were able to share wisdom that I plan to utilize as I move forward with my career.

Was there ever a moment on set where you just kind of took in all your surroundings and laughed to yourself at the kind of movie you were making? If so, what was it that you saw, or heard, or experienced that made you realize the oddball movie you were making? 

There was that moment, yes. I don't believe the scene made it into the final cut, but there was a scene being filmed where Lincoln beheads a child zombie, and at that moment I was like, "That just happened." Then a couple days after that, one of the couples playing some zombies had their one-year-old with them. They actually asked if they could make their baby a zombie and have it crawling after Lincoln. This all happened in the make-up room, which I was in, and [this idea] was being considered. In the back of my mind I formulated this zombie-baby crawling after Lincoln with a finger in its mouth. I believe the zombie baby idea was considered, but ultimately not used. I do think about how funny that would have been to see on film.


Would you consider yourself a fan of horror? If so, what are your favorites?

I am very much a fan of horror films. I always find myself watching a horror film frequently throughout the week right before I go to bed. Some of my favorites would have to be Insidious, Saw, Fire in the Sky, The Thing, Jaws, The Ring, and there are many more to go along with that list.

Are there any particular “new” horror filmmakers you’re especially enthusiastic about?

I am a fan of James Wan and the horror films he has made. I am a big fan of Insidious and Saw and what he did with those films. I think he is only getting better at his craft and would love to work with him some time.

I would agree. I think Insidious especially shows that James Wan is capable of providing genuine scares and creating genuinely creepy imagery – it’s so opposite of Saw, which was/is a very visceral and graphic experience. Another filmmaker with a similar agenda is Ti West. He’s a master at slow burn horror, a style that can sometimes turn off more the hardened, Saw-obsessed horror fan. Have you seen his previous films, The Innkeepers, or before that, House of the Devil?

I agree completely. I am all about the build up, as it really adds to the intensity one feels... not knowing when the scares are going to happen. I have not gotten a chance to see The Innkeepers yet, but I remember the trailer very clearly and that trailer freaked me out. Ti West did an amazing job scaring my ass with House of the Devil, so I am sure The Innkeepers will do the same. I know he was involved with The ABCs of Death, which is funny because I participated in a short film that was up for the competition for the letter T. Unfortunately we weren't selected, but was a fun time.

Horror comes in stages. There are always crazes that sustain the genre before the genre strangles it to death. Halloween gave us the slasher craze in the late 70s/ and most of the 80s; Scream gave us the self-aware, WB-starring, pop culture-quoting teens in the 90s; in the new millennium, Saw gave us what has been termed “torture porn,” and the remake craze seems to be finally be dying a slow death. We now seem to be in the very beginning stages of the “historical mash-up.” Do you think this is a stage that will last? If not, what do you think is next for the genre?

Hmm, that is a good question. I think the idea of an "Alternate History" is a great way for people to come up with various renditions of what could have happened. There are plenty of conspiracies out there and unexplained/undocumented time in our world's past, so the door is technically open for interpretation.

I can't put my finger on where I think the genre is moving, but I will say that films like Insidious, The Woman in Black, and I am sure The Innkeepers are showing the industry that we (the audience) can still be scared like they were during the Psycho, Jaws, and Alien days. We don't need all the gore and graphic violence. I think the real effect is when the viewer goes home from the theater and does the "not- look- into- the- room- but- move- their- hand- along- the- wall- to- find- the- light- switch" routine before entering the room. That's the real scare.

In a pre-Internet time twenty years ago, a mini studio like The Asylum would have great difficulty enjoying the kind of modest success it is currently enjoying. Do you think the Internet has changed the face of marketing low budget films? Where do you see the trend of small, grassroots marketing going into the future?

The Internet has, without a doubt, changed the face of marketing for filmmaking. The ability you have today to fund a film through sources like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, as well as promote your idea through Youtube, with the possibility of someone taking notice and wanting to put money into it…it’s phenomenal. I am a fan of the underdog, so when someone has the drive to make a film at a low budget and they are able to pull it off; well, you should, at the very least, applaud them for doing that.

How did you come to be involved in Lawless (formerly The Wettest County in the World)? Could you tell us about your role in the film?

Right before I was to work “Field of Vision,” I was speaking with my dad, getting some advice on what could I do to help myself before going into my first major role. He told me to find some work for any position, if I could, on a major motion picture that was filming in the area. When I saw that Lawless was looking for people – for crew and extras – I decided to send my stuff in to see what it would do. I got called in to work as Tom Hardy’s double, which was great because I was on set each day and able to watch the director, crew, and talent work. Also by working Lawless,  I was able to meet Patrick ‘P-Nut’ Monroe, who has become a very strong influence on my career/life and is like my other big brother.

What was your experience working with director John Hillcoat?

Working as Tom Hardy’s double put me in the same room as John Hillcoat the whole time I was on set. John Hillcoat is an amazing director and knows what he wants out of his scenes. His D.P., Benoit Delhomme, is his P.I.C (Partner In Crime) and they work very well together. Hillcoat would tell Benoit what he wanted, and Benoit would immediately come up with how to make it look beautiful on camera. It was probably one of the best parts of working on that film: watching the both of them work together.

Did you have much interaction with the primary cast?

I did, actually. There seems to be this “unwritten” rule of not talking to the cast while on set—at least that is what I was advised not to do. Now, being raised in a home like I was, there was no such thing as being “starstruck” to me, so when I was around the talent I talked to them; not much else to do when crew is setting up a shot. The cool thing was when they got to find out that I had just gotten done playing football at the University of Georgia, it opened up avenues of communication other than film talk, and knew I was just speaking to them as a normal human being. I felt like I had a very good standing with all of them: Shia LaBeouf is a real cool dude and very funny; his sense of humor is much like mine. Tom Hardy was laid back and easy to speak to, especially when it came to video games. Jason Clarke, who has a thick Australian accent, by the way, did an amazing Southern accent; it was fun to watch him perform. Jessica Chastain was one of the sweetest actresses I have met on a project; completely humble, super talented. She really loved her “Words with Friends” while on set. There was this one actor whose name I wasn’t familiar with at the time – Lew Temple – but once I got to know him while I saw him on set, [I found out] that man is one class act and an extremely down-to-earth guy. It was a pleasure getting to know him.

Did you have any interaction with the film’s screenwriter Nick Cave?

From what I remember, Nick Cave was on set for one of the days I was and he was playing a gangster who was all shot up in a vehicle. There wasn’t much interaction other than that.

What’s next for you?

Next I begin working on a new horror film, Plus One, directed by Dennis Iliadis (the Last House on the Left remake) this month. Ron Ogden, a good friend I made while working on Lincoln vs. Zombies, was also cast as one of the main roles. (That’s definitely going to be another fun time on set.) I have another film, which is about the most lawmen ever killed in the line of duty, with a leading role as Jennings Young, one of the cop killers. Then later this year I will be one of the leads in another horror film, about the spirit of a witch coming back to take her revenge on a town for her gruesome murder. There are some I can’t speak about yet, but once I am free to, I will share, and hopefully some more projects will be added to the rest of the year.

What would you consider your dream job as an actor?

I am a huge Punisher comic book fan, and if one day I got the opportunity to be Frank Castle, I would do it in a heartbeat. Other than that, every day on set is a dream come true.

If you found yourself surrounded by an army of the undead, would you want Lincoln by your side, or is there perhaps another former president who you think could kick some serious ass?

I think Lincoln would hold his own; that man could probably wrestle some of those zombies to death. Honestly, I would love to have Kennedy and Reagan. With their WWII experience and my zombie-video-game experience, we would decimate that zombie horde!

TEOS thanks Chris for his time. Fans can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is now on video from Asylum Films.

Jun 4, 2012

SHITTY FLICKS - BEWARE: CHILDREN AT PLAY

Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.


This is just terrible. God. The "plot" (forgive me) is embarrassingly vague, as are the motivations of the characters. What's actually going on in the movie is never clearly explained, and certain characters purposely given suspicious backgrounds are never explored. The film is lazily written and very poorly directed. Worst of all, it didn’t even offer that many Wacko-Jacko retarded bits, which is a sin ‘round these parts. So why the following enthusiasm?

I’ll get to that.

If you don't know you're in trouble by this point,
then you are the intended audience.
 
Let’s meet our characters.

Father and his son, Boy, are camping in the woods. Father chases Boy, screaming that he is a "human cannibal." How ironic that Boy will end up eating Father.

But up until then, it's pretty much your typical father/son trip.

The two run through the woods, screaming in father/son delight.

Father tells Boy campfire stories.

Father and Boy roast marshmallows.

Father gets caught in a bear-trap.

Chuckles and hugs all around.

For the rest of Father's life, which is approximately three days, the bear trap keeps him in place, much to his chagrin and my delight. Boy keeps Father alive for a bit, thanks to beans. Father, who is a literary professor, starts going insane-o after seeing maggots in his leg wound and begins reciting lines from "Beowulf," one of history's oldest and classic poems. Watch as it's ruined by people who fancy themselves artists.

Father's dying words to Boy are to eat him in order to survive. Boy cries for a few seconds in mourning of his father, but then quickly brandishes a bowie knife and makes a fine, smooth incision in Father's Play-Do chest. He withdraws a barbecue chicken-ish heart and raises it up, pretending to admire it, but really, the director wants the audience to see this awesomely graphic and realistic prop that probably took the FX guys all of five minutes to make.

"What's it feel like, son? Hot dogs?"

Boy smiles.

We smile.

God smiles.

The anonymous writer of "Beowulf" cries.

Boy goes on to probably eat that heart, and then his father, and then live in the woods for the next ten years. Why? Because this was the writer's first and last movie. That's why.

We then meet John DeWolfe. He is a writer who investigates aliens, or something, and his book-covers sport “garish” art featuring the “cleavages” of many women. John is driving out to Bumblefuck County, New Jersey, to help his old army buddy/the county sheriff look for his missing daughter. John brings along his annoying wife, as well as their precocious daughter.

Also there to lend a hand is Dr. Robert T. Fish. If there’s one thing that Dr. Fish is good at, it’s unemotionally responding to any onscreen developments as he blandly stands by and ultimately provides no help or expertise whatsoever.

Honestly, the movie is so retarded that it’s not even really worth getting into.

Long story short: main Boy from the beginning believes he is Grendel from the "Beowulf" and then brainwashes the town’s children into running away from their families and living in the woods where they can practice cannibalism and fasten giant caveman clubs for use in bludgeoning grown-ups.

Three cheers for access to public domain material!

Hank Hassey's greatest party to date ended with two
now-infamous words: Push Molly.

John gets to the bottom of this mystery-his inspiration in solving the case suddenly kicking in after his own wife is killed and his daughter taken-and attempts to thwart the ever-growing army of Bible-thumping hicks intent on shooting this rowdy group of children who steal pies and eat people. At this precise moment, John, taking his own daughter from the herd, promptly tells the men that he will have no part in their “cleansing” and attempts to leave when one of the rednecks shoots John in the face.

It was right at this moment when I literally said, “If this movie ends with all these kids getting shot, it will be the greatest thing I've ever seen.”

God smiles again, for I am treated to an all-out assault of rednecks with shotguns versus a bunch of snotty little kids with rags for clothes and primitive weapons straight out of Tom & Jerry.

Children ranging from 8-15 years old, with no regards for their age or their ultimate status as Our Future, are shot in every orifice available to receive a bullet.

Rob Zombie's The Sandlot.

  • A small boy in a Yankees cap magically transforms into a boxy still body before his head explodes, courtesy of a point-blank gunshot.
  • Main Boy defiantly curses the sky gods as he is shot several times in the chest.
  • Another boy is shot in the side of the head, and after realizing that the squib has been set-off, falls awkwardly to the side, the delay in reaction very noticeable. And hilarious.
  • One boy is shot in the gut by a bow staff, and he clutches the arrow residing within his person as the fishing line that provided the arrow’s entrance catches the glint of the afternoon sun.
  • One young girl attempts to escape and is clocked in the head with a meat cleaver. Another man approaches and very lightly "beats" her in the arm with a whiffle bat that has been painted brown in order to fool us into thinking it's wood because we're just that fucking idiotic as to not notice.
  • Perhaps the greatest kill comes in the form of a small blond boy being held by his hair as a gun is slowly inserted into his mouth. The look of pure calm on his face, since the boy has probably been directed not to move whatsoever so as to not upset the squib on the back of his neck, is so laughably distracting that I want to make love to this movie.

"I look after you. I do a lot for you. If you do not help
me now, I say 'fuck you, Jobu,' I'll do it myself."

The movie ends with John’s daughter having survived the sudden massacre, hidden by his crumpled body. She stands there for a little and looks around confusedly, and then the movie literally ends. I’m not sure what that ending was supposed to allude to, but you can be sure that after that finale, I really don’t care because this is the greatest movie in the entire world, that is if you skip to the second to the last chapter on the DVD and forgo all expectations of a well-executed, gut-wrenching scene, and instead watch the sloppiest massacre committed against kids since Jerry Sandusky.

Jun 2, 2012

IT CONTINUES...

Alexander Kinyua Ate Kujoe Agyei-Kodie's Brain, Heart In Maryland, Cops Say

In yet another horrifying incident of human flesh-eating this week, a student in Maryland allegedly admitted to devouring his roommate's brain and heart.

Alexander Kinyua, a 21-year-old Morgan State University student, admitted to murdering his roommate Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, who was reported missing last Friday, cops told the Baltimore Sun.

Alexander Kinyua allegedly admitted to killing 
his roommate, then eating his heart and 
portions of his brain.

Kinyua's father called police late Tuesday night when Kinyua's brother reportedly found human remains -- a head and two hands -- in a metal tin in the basement. The brother and father left the room for a short time, but when they came back, the body parts had been moved and Kinyua was washing out the tin, the paper reported.

Officers searched the house and arrested Kinyua. The man allegedly confessed a shocking revelation: not only had he killed Agyei-Kodie by cutting him up with a knife and then dismembered him, he ingested parts of the victim's brain and all of his heart. He then allegedly dropped most of the remains in a Dumpster behind a church in Joppatowne.

It's yet unclear what Kinyua's motive may have been, but he was charged with first-degree murder on Wednesday. In another incident on May 20, he was charged with first-degree assault when he allegedly beat a fellow student randomly with a baseball bat and then fled into the woods.

The gruesome case comes on the heels of a similar attack in Miami on Saturday, in which Rudy Eugene, 31, was killed by cops while in the process of chewing off most of a homeless man's face.

Ronald Poppo, 65, is alive, but the bizarre flesh-eating attack left doctors with a literal puzzle in how to put his face back together.



Jun 1, 2012

HALLOWEEN 2 & 3 SPECIAL EDITIONS!

Holy shit!

Halloween II Collector’s Edition Blu-ray & DVD

Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence, Halloween II follows the same ill-fated characters as they encounter the knife-wielding maniac they left for dead in the first film. It seems the inhuman Michael Myers is still very much alive and out for more revenge as he stalks the deserted halls of the Haddonfield hospital. As he gets closer to his main target, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) discovers the chilling mystery behind the crazed psychopath’s actions. Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween II is a spine-tingling dark ride into the scariest night of the year.

Special Features (preliminary confirmed line-up):
  • Audio commentary with director Rick Rosenthal
  • Audio commentary with stunt coordinator / actor Dick Warlock
  • The Nightmare Isn’t Over – The Making of Halloween II, featuring Rick Rosenthal, Lance Guest, Dick Warlock, Alan Howarth, Dean Cundey and more...
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds- Revisiting the original shooting locations
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer, TV and Radio Spots

Halloween III: Season of the Witch 30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition
Blu-ray and DVD
A murder-suicide in a northern Californian hospital leads to an investigation by the on-call doctor, which reveals a plot by an insane toymaker to kill as many people as possible on October 31st through an ancient Celtic ritual and deadly Halloween masks.” Starring Tom Atkins, Stacy Nelkin and Dan O’Herlihy, this third chilling film from the popular Halloween franchise is produced by John Carpenter and Debra Hill and is directed by Tommy Lee Wallace.

Special Features:
  • Audio commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace
  • Audio commentary with actor Tom Atkins
  • Stand Alone: The Making of Halloween III: Season of the Witch featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dick Warlock, Dean Cundey and more..
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds- Revisiting the original shooting locations
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots

Part of me wants to express my disappointment that John Carpenter isn't involved with any of these supplements, but then another part of me tells that first part to shut the fuck up, because the world is actually getting a special edition of Halloween III.

I hereby love you forever, Shout Factory.

Pre-order here. Street date is September 18.