Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween, Everybody! (This message has been brought to you by Silver Shamrock Masks.)

It's that time of year, the day that kicks off a month-long celebration for me as we enter into November, the month of my birth. And what a day to do it with. The day of the dead. The feast of Samhain. The day to dress up and scare the crap out of people under the pretext of getting candy for free. Not a bad racket.

In honor of the day I'll be taking my daughter our for her first trick-or-treating, I've composed a special top 5.

Top 5 Movies to Watch on Halloween:

1. Halloween: Nuff said here. It's a classic and sets the mood perfectly and Michael Myers makes an awesome costume. The movie is chilling and perfectly put together and I even tolerate Jamie Lee Curtis in it, as she hadn't learned to act badly in it.

2. Night of the Living Dead: Another classic in tone and craft. Zombies attack stranded travelers in a farmhouse and the world goes to hell. Perfect when you're home alone and the streets are packed with shadowy beings wandering your neighborhood.

3. The Halloween Tree: Good luck trying to find this animated gem anywhere, but it's worth tracking down. It's based on a Ray Bradbury book where several kids travel through time to save their friend's soul and learn about the holiday in the process. Touching and exciting at the same time, it's sure to please the child in you. Hopefully you can find it on tv or bootleg somewhere.

4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Great for what ails you, this flick is a terrifyingly real ride through the horrors that a group of motorists experience at the hands of a family of madmen. It's stark and brutal and particularly awesome. Leatherface is a true villain to fear and I kinda get hungry for BBQ whenever I watch it. Go figure.

5. Dawn of the Dead: I know you weren't expecting another zombie movie, but here you go. It's the original movie, full of metaphor and satire and zombies munching bodies and orange blood. It continues the breakdown of society from the original and shows the depravity of humans and what we do to each other instead of our common foe. You might as well follow this up with Day of the Dead (takes place on Halloween), Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead to be a completist. It's full of shocks and scares and although it's a little dated, you can't go wrong with it.

Maybe I'll bust out some more Top 5s for horror movies throughout the month, since everyone does it for October, it'll be a nice change and continue the fun for those who like to be scared a little longer than 31 days.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Self-Publishing

I have an opportunity to have my book I'm currently editing published for free. I'd get a copy and it would be available on Amazon.com. When I've looked into the publishing before, it seems to be looked upon with scorn by the majority of the writing world, called, for the most part "vanity publishing". You see, true self-publishing is done by your own printing press or a small press or by carving it into stone, apparently. This is odd to me and seems to be solely a preconception of in the realm of literature. If you're not getting paid to do it or have a real book deal, you're not an official author, despite the fact your book has an ISBN and can be ordered through most stores. We don't really see that in other walks, at least not that I can think of.

In the music industry, if you pay to put together your own cd and put it out, it's all the more power for you. I have many friends who have done that and they're playing the game and making some cash and maybe they won't be signed, but they're trying to make it honest.

In the art game, you pretty much pay for all of your stuff yourself, from canvas to paints and then have to find a gallery to sell your stuff or you can do it yourself. Nobody seems to frown upon that. In fact, along with music, people pride themselves on discovering new talent.

In movies, you might find something similar with the divide between video and film, but that's more like the divide between novella and novel if anything. People who take on the initiative to do it themselves and not rely on a studio to help them out are pioneers and rebels. They're keeping their art true to themselves. Sure, they're taking a hit on budget which may affect the overall outcome, but they're doing it. Without this initiative, we wouldn't have classics like Night of the Living Dead or the huge moneymaker Blair Witch Project. People admire what the creators of these films have done.

Books, however, get a bad rap. You're either part of the machine or you're not worth reading. I'm still going to do it, as I think it's a good book and for the price, I can put they money I save towards an agent or more stuff for the baby and my wife. You know, something respectable. I don't see anything wrong with it at all. Is there a lot of crap out there that's self-published? Yeah, there is, but you know what? There's a lot of crap out there by established authors from the big publishers too you won't catch me reading either. When it comes out, however, I hope you read mine.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ginkers: The Ginkening

Sunday we had another shoot and it went very well. Our subject was very receptive to being filmed and quite relaxed, which made for a good shoot as Rob elicited great anecdotes from her as Matt and I sat back and watched. It's one of the last shoots we're going to do as we wrap up the film and it has been a hell of a fun ride. Between the people I've met and the stories I've heard, I'm going to be sad to see it end. Of course I'll see them all again on the computer as we edit them, but there's something so personal about filming the documentary that it's hard to shake the thrill of peeking into a bit of someone's history. I also got to use my steadicam, which was a thrill. It worked well from what I could see. I can't wait to check the footage more, as I was walking backwards and that's tough to do normally, much less when you're walking through the woods and trying to avoid branches, trees and elves. We have another shoot coming up at the end of the month. More on it then.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Madman

Yep, that's what people call me. Madman. Ok, so they don't really call me that. They do, however, call the title character of the movie Madman that. Madman Marz to be specific. It's another entry from 1982 in the camp slasher movie genre that was left in the wake of F13's success. It, like The Burning, is also allegedly based on the campfire tale about Cropsy the maniac, who would kill campers and counselors. In this film, he does so only after people yell out his name in the woods by his house. Then it is game on.

It's a mediocre film highlighted only by some decent gore and the always great Gaylen Ross (Dawn of the Dead). Madman Marz isn't particularly scary as he looks more like a retarded Ugnaut that a menacing foe and he acts the same. In the flashbacks he's methodical and in reality he runs around like said Ugnaut, practically skipping from his house. The counselors get knocked off in a variety of ways, all starting because one camper saw Madman Marz hanging out in a tree and decided to follow him. The counselors go looking for said kid, alone, and one by one get picked off. Nobody listens to poor Gaylen, who said she saw some huge figure lurking about and they go off to look for the missing people and die along the way. You would think that after three people go off and don't come back, you'd either send a search party or call the cops. They do neither.

I do like the end and beginning titles as they have a cool red and black tree background and minimalist electronic theme song. If you're a slasher completist, it's worth checking out, but if you're looking for a good scare, I'd watch the Burning or another superior film.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Long Live the New Flesh

Man, I love Videodrome. I just watched it again for the first time in about 12 years and I have to say, I'm still in love with it and it is still relevant. Who could have thought that our television would amount to the S&M violent pleasures that Cronenberg imagined. Life imitating art, I reckon. James Woods is scrawny and taut and Debbie Harry is sexy and naked and the whole thing is a crazy and fun ride through hallucination and imagined reality that shows up in Cronenberg's later Existenz. It's dated, for sure, but stations still use the tapes to broadcast so you never know when a tech might try to insert one into the vagina-like cavity in your chest to control you. I live with that fear every day. Well worth checking out for James Woods' gun hand alone.

In the Name of the King, on the other hand is pure trash. It's Uwe Boll's newest film and he has successfully raped a franchise of video games and managed to cast the film with some top level stars somehow. It's not terrible at first, but it slowly winds its way into stupidity and after and hour and fifteen minutes, I found out I still had almost another hour to go and punched out. Avoid it. It's a shame, because I love Jason Statham and a lot of the other actors, but I just can't do this to myself anymore.

Death to Uwe Boll. Long live good movies.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Burning

No, it's not a movie about a urinary tract infection, but instead a fun little slasher gem from 1981. Cropsy was a dick of a caretaker and some campers played a trick on him that went awry, burning him horribly. Five years later he's out of the hospital and looking for revenge and he sets his sights on a summer camp in the area and picks up a pair of garden shears to chop his way to a peaceful mind. In the meantime, we meet some of the campers and learn their life stories while they try to get in each other's pants. We also see quite a few familiar faces. This movie was a starter for the careers of Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens and Holly Hunter and you can see them in all their youthful glory as they try not to get murdered.

It's fairly tensely plotted and doesn't get too stupid, making it a breath of fresh air from the killer at a summer camp movies that seemed to crawl out of the woodwork after Friday the 13th made it vogue. The acting is well done and Tom Savini does a bang up job on the special effects and you get some great cinematography and scares out of the whole thing. A worth addition to a Halloween movie list. Check it out.