Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Alphabet Killer (2008) - Quick Review

The Alphabet Killer (2008) - Dir. by Rob Schmidt

In Rochester, a pre-teen girl is abducted, raped, and murdered. Detective Megan Paige investigates: she works long hours obsessively, and soon she's seeing visions of the dead girl. The FBI profiles the killer as a spontaneous drifter, lucky not to get caught; Megan thinks he's local and a methodical planner. She notes that the victim's first and last names and the place the body was left start with "C." When a second murder follows the same pattern, Megan is vindicated, but her obsessions get the best of her, and her mental state impedes her work. With the help of medication, therapy, and a friend, can she regain her equilibrium and catch the alphabet killer? Written by

The movie is based on the double initial killings that took place in Rochester during the 70's

The movie starts off strong. The first 15 minutes are a pretty good way to get me interested in the story. Then it is all down hill from there. The rest of the movie is slow, boring, and downright annoying. Eliza Dushku's horrible acting really drives the movie into the ground, and the twist isn't much of a twist at all, and it is actually really silly. When it comes down to it, even Eliza Dushku topless couldn't save this film.

Entertainment Value: 3/10 Wheelchairs
Cinematic Value: 3/10 Wheelchairs

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hellbent (2004) - the first gay slasher?

Hellbent (2004) dir. by Paul Etheredge-Ouzts

Two gay men on a date are murdered the night before Halloween in West Hollywood, California. Eddie and his friends Joey, Chaz and Tobey are going out the following night to the West Hollywood Halloween festival when they encounter the psycho, who sets his eye on them. The killer stalks them through the festival as Chaz parties, Joey chases his jock crush, Tobey tries dressing in drag, and Eddie pursues Jake, the bad boy he wants to get to know better. Not until the very end do you find out who dies and who survives their night of terror. Written by Esprix at IMDB

I don't know if it is the first gay slasher or not, but its definitely not bad. I first came across this movie when it was supposed to get a theatrical release back in 2005. I was talking about it to a gay guy I worked with at Pella Windows. Then I mentioned it a few times to my wonderfully gay brother. The problem is, I was so interested in seeing it, then it never released. I didn't come across it til today while streaming movies online. Paul hasn't directed alot of movies, but last year he directed Angel of Death with Zoe Bell and I loved it. I guess Paul is gay, and he wrote and directed Hellbent, starring almost an all gay characters, so I guess that is why they are calling it the first gay slasher. I think they might paint gay men in a bit of a negative light in this movie, as ever man in this movie is the gay/bi X-taking, sex in the bathroom, make out with every other guy type, and I know a lot of gay men, and none are like that. The other thing is, where are they living? Everyone in the movie is either gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or a tranny! I could understand a costume party at a gay bar, but everyone they run into on the street is gay as well. I just find it a little hard to believe. That being said I did enjoy the movie for the most part. The Devil dressed killer was extremely unique with a weapon no seen enough- a sickle! Jason Vorhees was picked on for being a retarded child, Freddy was burned alive by his own neighbors, but they didn't give any background or motive to this killer at all. I couldn't really tell you if that hurt the movie or helped it, but I just assumed the killer wanted to kill promiscuously gay men. The movie is for the most part predictable all the way down to the ending with a twist. That doesn't say that its not an entertaining film. If you are homophobic, I definitely wouldn't try to watch this movie, as there are alot of half naked guys making out. I'd still recommend at least one viewing to most people.

The acting in this movie isn't terribly great, but all of the characters seem to be a little different in some way, and that keeps things rolling. Luke Weaver, who played The Devil, did a really good job remaining his composure in his relentless pursuit of his prey. Everyone else did a pretty mediocre job.

They try to use the fact that hey have Joseph Wolf as a producer, as he was also a producer on Halloween II, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but he is really just a name. The film itself did have a lot of great things going for it. It has a pretty good soundtrack for starters. The lighting was phenomenal, and really added to the element of the film. Great use of shadows was there for sure. Most of the gore was off scene, but there was still plenty of blood, especially considering they originally wanted to make the film without using any blood at all. I'm extremely glad they didn't. The movie was pretty cool looking, but I half expected it to be coming from a Director who got his start in the Art Department on films. The thing is, the movie is still predictable, and that doesn't really make it buy worthy. I really hope Paul returns to direct a horror movie in the future, as I would like to give him a second chance, but I probably won't be purchasing this on DVD unless it is a gift to my brother.

Entertainment Value: 6/10 Decapitations
Cinematic Value: 6/10 Decapitations

Thursday, April 22, 2010

GIVE IT UP FOR THE LITTLE GUYS! and I'm not talking about midgets! (Horror Movie Shorts)

As a filmmaker myself, I know what it takes to put together a project and see it through. In fact, I am really shitty at the whole process. That doesn't mean that there are people out there that aren't amazing at making horror short movies. I decided it was time to give a shout out to a couple of my favorite horror shorts, well one is horror, the other is horror comedy. I think we need to show them more love, so these people can keep making the movies we love. The first one I want to mention is Incident no. 6, directed by Min Chung and starring Michael Tavares. This short film does an amazing job not only with the film as a whole, but especially with making something out of nothing in the special effects department. Watch how carefully this film is edited!

Hope you enjoyed that! The second film I wanted to mention is one of my absolute favorite Horror/comedy shorts I have ever seen. It is so well written, acted, and directed. For as low of a budget it had, this movie is flawless. It is from the 48 Hour Film Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2009. I am a big supporter of 48 hour film festivals and everything they promote. I know they also have one here in Iowa that I try to make it to every year. I really hope you guys take the time to watch this 8 min movie, and enjoy it as much as I did. As a horror fan, I was laughing hysterically through most of it. Brilliant film! I bring to you The Grave Review, directed by Matthew Olson, and written by Mitch Hansen, starring Isaac Witty, Eric Nigg, and Mitch Hansen

This is why we need to show as much support as we can to independent filmmakers, and most definitely short films! I hope you loved them as much as I do.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-Ass (2010) dir. by Matthew Vaughn

Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

I am a huge fan of the Kick-Ass comic and I couldn't wait for this to be on the big screen. So days prior to watching it, I managed to clear my head from all thoughts, and avoid reviews for it. I had a blast, and if it is a precursor to the rest of the summer- its going to be a great summer for movies. I though the movie was amazing and I haven't had that much fun in a movie for a long time. There is one thing I do need to say right away before getting into this review. Just because you may like the comic doesn't mean you are going to like the movie. The movie doesn't really have a whole lot in common with the comic, other than the characters. The movie does lack the level of gore, sickness, and disturbing characters that the comic has developed. Big Daddy is a much better father in the movie than he is in the comic. I won't go into comparing all the characters. I just wanted to give people a warning.

That being said, I really did enjoy this film. Where Aaron Johnson lacks in acting ability, he makes up for it in nerd ability. He is just like any other nerdy guy I grew up with including myself, and it makes his character easy compare to. The supporting cast is amazing on this film, with the exception of Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who just plays another version of character he played in Superbad. That never deterred me from the film, as Chloe Moretz pretty much takes control of the film. Her foul mouthed violent Hit Girl characters ends up being what the movie drives on, and its a good thing she is in it alot. Understanding her relationship with her father plays a large part in coming to terms with her potty mouth extremely violent nature. I really enjoyed the comedy of the film as it wasn't shoved in my face. The comedy was extremely subtle, and very dark comedy at times. I love dark comedy! Kick-Ass's two friends did help a bit as well, as I like both actors ( Clark Duke, Evan Peters) and things they have done in the past. Mark Strong was forgettable as the bad guy, but he doesn't actually play as much of a role in the film as you would think. He is pretty much there just to give the plot a general course of action. He is center piece to the film, but a small one at that.

I think Matthew Vaughn is probably the biggest winner here, as he creates an adaption that does take away from the comic, but he replaces those things brilliantly, and almost so you didn't notice. It took so long to get this movie green lit because of the content of the comic, i'm sure he had to tone this movie way down from what he originally wanted to show. He manages to please critics, the MPAA, and viewers all at once. I do think the low numbers for opening weekend were mostly due to a lot of underage fans. I know the theater I was in actually had a hired bouncer, and he would walk through the theater randomly, and take out youngers to check their ticket stubs. I know it happened at least four times during the course of the film. I expect this movie to continue strong for at least the next three weeks. Some of the shots the Vaughn pulls off were breath taking with the cheesy aerial exception. You will know which one I'm talking about. I would have to say my favorite part of the film is actually the 2D/3D comic style background to why Big Daddy is the way he is. It was short but amazing and definitely payed tribute to comics as a whole. Some of his video game style action was so much fun to watch, and a certain night vision scene double-tapped me in to grinning goosebumps.

With the only exceptions of weak villains and a less than stellar lead, I would have to say the soundtrack could have been a little bit better, as it went almost completely unnoticed. I recommend this film to almost anyone of age, as it is definitely a fast paced, violent, funny, action movie that kept me excited through the majority of the film.

Entertainment Value: 9/10 Batons
Cinematic Value: 7/10 Batons

Friday, April 16, 2010

Peacock (2010) is disturbing

Peacock (2010) dir. by Michael Lander

John Skillpa, a quiet bank clerk living in tiny Peacock, Nebraska, prefers to live an invisible life. This might have to do with John's secret: he has another personality no one knows about, a woman who each morning does his chores and cooks him breakfast before he starts his day. Then, in a moment, everything changes...

I know I said I was taking a full week off, but I can never pass up a movie that was filmed 30 miles from where I live. I had been waiting for Peacock to hit theaters,and it really just never happened. I think most of that is due to it pretty much just going straight to DVD. I think this is probably one of the best straight to DVD movies I have ever seen.

The idea behind what makes Peacock such a thriller is that it could legitimately happen in real life. Dissociative Identity Disorder is very much real, and it is not uncommon to be at the level it is for Cillian Murphy's character. The abuse he went through as a child forced his mind to split, and one side of him turned into this motherly figure. He was able to keep it under wraps until a train crashes in his backyard, revealing Emma (his alter) to the town of Peacock. This throws off the agreement the two identities had relied on for so long, and the consequences are enormous. This was the perfect movie to come out of the Midwest, by the Midwest, as it carries the general dark and dreary theme and environment that I live in every day. I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach throughout the whole film, as I almost felt uncomfortable with John/Emma being revealed. People still know very little about DID or how to handle it. I know this is a peace of fiction, but I also look at it as an educating piece. This movie is like a guideline for how to not handle a person with DID. While Cillian Murphy does look very believable as a woman, I did think it was a little far fetched for everyone to not notice it was him. Still, the movie was very strong from start to almost finish. I'll explain in a minute.

This movie is bursting at the scenes with actually amazing talent. Ellen Page was actually the weak link in the movie, as I feel it wasn't her most impressive performance. That being said, her being the worst makes this movie pretty damn good. Murphy definitely pulls off the performance of a lifetime, and while this movie will get extremely overlooked come Oscar time, his acting is nomination worthy. You almost feel bad for what his character had to go through as a child, and what he is going through now. It is not hard to distinguish the difference between his two personalities, one being weak and scared, the other being curious and strong willed. He is flawless as both completely original characters. I have never seen anything of his that could compare, not even Breakfast on Pluto. Susan Surandon gives one of her better performances as the strong independent woman activist Fanny Crill, and in her own way she kinda helps glue the movie together. Josh Lucas gives a great realistic performance as the towns Officer, and he doesn't try to steal the show every time he is on the screen. Its a smaller role for sure, but I'd say it was at the same caliber as his job he did on Undertow. Great job all around for the supporting cast. It was really hard to find weak points in the acting.

Lander manages to direct a great film without overpowering anyone and keeping it simple. The pace he keeps the movie at never falters. It is a gradual steady build of suspense to a fulfilling ending. The cinematography on this film is something that drives it. The countless shots of the emptiness that is the Midwest. The fields, and pastures give us a sense that John Skillpa is alone. The colors never show bright nor extreme dark. They hover in the middle giving the movie a necessary dull look. The musical score was a little on the light side, but showed its moody head when the times were right. Especially the opening montage with the mothers voice overlapping itself. That was a start that got my attention.

In the end, my only bone to pick with the movie is the last ten minutes or so. While the movie definitely does end, and doesn't leave loose ends, I felt like the movie came to abrupt flat stop. The last ten minutes was bouncing back and forth between basically two possible outcomes of the movie, and the tension was lost after the first couple bounces. Overall, I did extremely enjoy this movie, and it is always nice to see a movie that manages to make me uncomfortable without extreme gore, or unlikely situations. I recommend this to everyone and I will be buying it on DVD.

Entertainment Value: 8/10 Rear bike baskets
Cinematic Value: 8/10 Rear bike baskets

watch the trailer below

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


My wife informed me today that something hilarious had happened to one of her former neighbors in her hometown. here it is- this neighbor lady has a teenage son with down syndrome, but he is old enough to stay home by himself while the mom goes to work, but she calls to check in on him throughout the day, and goes home on her lunch breaks. Well, the mom called to check on the son, and he kept screaming over the phone he was so excited, he said "mom! mom! mom! I caught a troll, you have to come see it, i caught a troll!", and she responded, "I can't its only 9 and I don't get a break til noon.", but the kid insisted. She said she would be home as soon as she could, but the kid was freaking out about this troll he caught. The mom knew that he got excited about alot of things, so she shrugged it off, and went back to work. When she went home, the son met her at the door, and once again was screaming with excitement about this troll he caught. So he dragged her by the arm back to his room to see this troll he caught. When she got back there, the door on his closet was shut and he had stacked furniture in front of the closet. So now she was curious. Then she heard something inside, so she quickly opend the closet. Inside she found a midget! He was a Jehova's Witness, and the kid overpowered him and locked him in the closet!! The guy was pissed, so the cops were called on I'm sure the family has a lawsuit on their hands but, I thought it was frickin hilarious!!! That guy was locked in the closet for over two hours, just waiting for someone to find him! I had to tell everyone that story, wow I was in tears laughing when I heard it. It is 100% true and happened in Humboldt, IA

Monday, April 12, 2010

News from I Was A Teenage Demigod (Resist Evil) and a parting note about a break.

Here are some pictures from Adam Protextor's I Was A Teenage Demigod (Resist Evil) -

I tried to get a video on here in which the girl in the pics crawls out of the stomach of a guy, and she is wielding a sword!
On a side note - I might not be posting a whole lot this week. I really need to buckle down on some writing i've been meaning to do. I am finishing a short story about a Father and his six year old son surviving in a library during a zombie apocalypse. I am also working on a script about a dozen patients locked in a psych ward of a hospital, trying to escape a psycho killer and find out who turned him loose. Not to mention, I am still working on my latest full length novel, in which it collides a whole slew of my passions- its post apocalyptic/sci-fi/horror/fantasy/action novel. I have been working on it for the past year.
I hope you can understand my much needed getaway from this amazing distraction. I will return soon, and if I do see an amazing horror movie. I will be sure to peek in and mention something about it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Question for all my readers?!

The last couple weeks I have posted several interviews with top notch filmmakers and actors, yet I can't seem to get a response to any of them, other than by the people themselves. Are people not interested in the inside scoop on independent horror? Am I doing something wrong with the way I conduct the interviews? Are people reading them but just don't know what to say? These people I interview are amazing people, and I just want to know how I can get more people to respond. If you have any input, or answers to these questions, please leave a comment below. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

R.D. Penning
Here is a cute, yet scary baby, and he is going to hypnotize you into reading my interviews.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Time Out For A Talk - Bianca Barnett + Trailers

Time Out For A Talk - Bianca Barnett

I first came across Bianca Barnett while perusing some independent films on a website where I stream movies. The movie was called In A Spiral State, and a even though it took me a couple times to come around to the movie, I was blown away by the acting of this Bianca Barnett girl. I brought up the trusty IMDB profile, and saw that she was involved in a whole slew of Horror-ish movies. So I started making my way through her filmography, and by this time I had also sent her a message asking to do an interview. She agreed! I couldn't believe the range Bianca had for the characters she played. She is an unbelievably good actress, and I was so excited to do an interview with her. She has great movies like the previously mentioned In A Spiral State, not to mention Albino Farm, The Fear Chamber, Monster Mountain, Craig, The Devil's Muse, and Canes. These are the movies that have been completed. That doesn't include the ones coming out, which I'm sure she will tell you about. So without further time wasted, here is her interview:

R.D. - I suppose I can start it off with the typical boring question interviewers hate to ask, but readers love to see. How did you come to enjoy horror so much?

Bianca - I have loved horror since I was a little girl. I suppose growing up in the ‘80s definitely influenced that! It seems like horror and special effect makeup was being perfected during that era. I was always drawn to scary movies and books, and I definitely still have a place for them in my heart today.

R.D. - After watching my way through your current filmography, I can’t help but notice you seem to be taking larger roles as you go along. Are you ready for bigger (not necessarily better) roles, or are there a few leading lady performances in your future?

Bianca - I don’t have a problem with supporting roles in movies. I would love to work on something with a large budget that reaches a mainstream audience. I will always work on smaller films, too, because I am a big fan of independent cinema. I am in negotiations to have a leading role in an action film called, “Vengeance Wears a Skirt” and The Cthulu Key, which is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s writing.

R.D. - You have recently been involved with a project titled The New Face of Fear. Is there anything you can say about what the project is about, or what it was like to work with other amazing scream queens like yourself?

Bianca - They are all amazing girls, so professional and very easy to talk with. I love working with women and getting to know all of these interesting, creative people. I’m not sure what’s going on with that project, but I hope it gets released soon. As an actress, I just show and do my part, get paid, and go home. Sometimes what I work on ends up stuck in movie purgatory.

R.D. - Describe your thought process when choosing a film to audition for, or participate in?

Bianca - I begin to think about what this character is going to look like and what she is going through mentally, physically and emotionally. I always start by putting together a wardrobe and makeup/hair styles in my head. I know it seems odd, but I enjoy building a character from the outside to the inside. I want to really become them on-screen and lose myself in the part.

R.D. - You are in a genre filled with blood, gory guts, and pointless nudity. Still, you remain a strong willed, respectable woman with rules. How does it make you feel, knowing you are using your acting talent, rather than looks, to establish yourself in film?

Bianca - Thank you so much! I’m not sure that I’m that talented and I know that there are a million women that are better looking than me trying to get into the same business. I feel fortunate that I’ve been given the opportunities that I have and that people are interested in what I do. I really want to be a positive role model for people and not get caught up in any sort of scene or clique.

R.D. - Don’t get me wrong, you did an amazing job, but how does a woman as beautiful as yourself transform into Pig Bitch in Albino Farm?

Bianca - It took anywhere from three to four hours for Jason (Barnett) to apply the makeup. It weighed nearly five pounds and obstructed my breathing and eyesight. Some days I was in makeup for over twelve hours! It was a very, very challenging experience, but I gave it my all and was definitely glad that I had the opportunity.

R.D. - What do viewers have to look forward to in the future for Bianca Barnett?

Bianca - I have a cameo in the film, The Toy Box, directed by Michael Colburn in Texas. Jason Heath’s The Cthulu Key is going to be one of my first lead roles, and films this summer. I also am in negotiations for a film called Hellstorm that starts later this year. There are a few other projects in the works, but I cannot talk about those just yet!

R.D. - If you had to pick a favorite moment in your career, on screen or off, what would it be?

Bianca - I have been invited to Texas Frightmare Weekend ’10 as a guest! That’s just amazing!!!

R.D. - Have you given anything thought to behind the camera work, or are you strictly an actress?

Bianca - Strictly an actress right now, but when I am more financially stable, I’d love to produce a film.

R.D. - What is your favorite horror movie?

Bianca - I can’t just choose one!!! Lately, I’ve been watching obscure finds from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Some are lost gems and others are just so bizarre, they are great fun! Jason and I try to watch one movie every night and right now, we’re watching “The Severed Arm”.

R.D. - Is there a woman in horror that you look to for inspiration?

Bianca - I admire a lot of them, but there isn’t one person that I look to for inspiration. I would love to try other genres, and generally, I like to think of myself as an independent film actress... for now!

R.D. - Is there someone in the horror genre that you would like to work with in the future?

Bianca - Yes, Vincent Price, but alas, that will not happen. What a class act!

R.D. - You are married right? What is it like balancing your relationship with work?

Bianca - Jason and I each have our own identities, but we always spend quality time together, whether it is watching movies, going to dinner, or just grocery shopping. We definitely have films planned for the future that we would like to create together. I really love spending time with him- he is quite funny and a real joy. Things in my life have been very positive since I have met him and I hope our relationship, and our friendship, continues to grow. He is very special to me.

R.D. - Now here is a spot for you to give your shameless plug for anything coming out, or already out.

Bianca - Please stop by my website, which is in the process of being revamped, and other social sites- http://www.biancabarnett.com/.com , http://www.myspace.com/bianca_barnett, http://www.facebook.com/Bianca.A.Barnett , and http://www.twitter.com/biancabarnett .

Thank you so much for the interview Bianca. I know so many people are looking forward to seeing what you accomplish in the future. You are definitely heading in the direction of big things. I hope everyone else enjoy Bianca's interview as much as I did, and I hope every heads out there and tries to find ways to watch her movies. Well, that's it for this edition of Time Out For A Talk. Now back to more movie reviews! YAY!

Monday, April 5, 2010

All Things Distortion- Part 2

Ok well, here are a couple of stills from Distortion.

And now, the interview from the lovely and talented Deneen Melody:

R.D. - Wow it is a big year for you! You have Slices of Life, As Night Falls, and Don’t Look In The Basement all coming out in the next year, and that is just the horror films. What is it like promoting that many films? How do you keep yourself so busy?

Deneen - Thank you, Russ! It is a great thing to be able to promote these films...I am very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of them and get the word out! With films like Anthony Sumner's "Slices of Life" and Joe Davison's "As Night Falls", I worked with a cast and crew that was extremely hard working and dedicated to the project...and it is because of them I want to make sure people hear about the films. And with something like the upcoming "Don't Look in the Basement!", which features SO many wonderful indie horror actors (such as Caroline Williams, Debbie Rochon, Raine Brown, and Alan Rowe Kelly), it is important to gain support and interest.

As for keeping busy, I find it to be a mix of networking and working your butt off. If you just sit around expecting opportunity to find you, you miss out on so much. I also absolutely love what I do, so that causes me to put a lot of time and effort in finding ways to stay busy and involved. Even if I do not have a film project going on, I keep myself going with auditions, photo shoots, or stunt classes.

R.D. - Aside from the four films IMDB has listed coming out for you, are there any other films you are currently working on, or about to be released?

Deneen - I actually have several films coming up that haven't been added to IMDB quite yet. One project is the final segment of the "Psycho Street" horror anthology, "LEWIS", directed by the talented Anthony Sumner from "Slices of Life" and the upcoming "Don't Look in the Basement!". It is a very creepy and disturbing story that also stars some amazing talent like Susan Adriensen, Jerry Murdock, and Marv Blauvelt...who also produces the anthology along with the lovely Raine Brown.

This summer, I will also be working with K.M. Jamison and All Night Pictures on the set of "The Dead Light District". K.M.'s last project, "Serial: Amoral Uprising" is extremely impressive, and to be involved in any of his projects is just an honor. He brings something very raw...very REAL...to his films, so they become something more than just horror.

Aside from these films, one of my favorite projects that should be online soon is the web series, "Western X". Created by Michael Flores, this series is one I am extremely proud of. It is a supernatural western that stars some wonderful actors such as Dustin Hale, Richard Anderson, Kaily Alissano, Jerry Eselgroth, Jayson James, Anthony Tempesta, Aaron-Ginn Forsberg...and the amazing cult icon, Vernon G. Wells. (I also have to throw a shout out to the Arizona Roughriders...they have been a huge part of the series: http://www.roughridersaz.com)

R.D. - You definitely have one of the most unique background stories, as a ballerina turned scream queen. What was that transition like for you? When you were younger, did you ever imagine you would be where you are today, doing what you do?

Deneen - Most people know this about me, but for those that may not know and are curious, the reason why I stopped dancing was due to a foot injury. Not being able to dance ballet any longer was completely heart breaking...but, you know, injuries happen. There really isn't any point in feeling sorry for yourself over something you cannot control.

And actually, the transition was an easy one. For awhile, I was pretty devastated, but the second I started to audition for film work, I knew it was what I really wanted to do. It helped that I was always involved in theater when I was in school, and you know...I think deep down, I always knew I would end up doing something like this. (That includes the stunts, blood, running, and screaming...hahaha.)

R.D. - Speaking of Scream Queen, how did you feel when you were first dubbed a Scream Queen? What does that mean to you?

Deneen - I felt completely honored the first time I heard myself mentioned as a Scream Queen, to be honest! Some of the actresses I look up to the most have been dubbed with that title as well. I mean, it is just awesome. There are some actresses that really don't like being known as a Scream Queen, but you know, it doesn't mean you can't do other things. It just means you are an actress that does a darn good job when it comes to getting bloody, dirty, running, and screaming. (And there ain't nothing wrong with that!)

R.D. - Aside from your work as an actress, you also find the time to do some modeling. I also hear you do some modeling for comic books. What is that work like, and how does it differ from what you do as an actress? Has there been anything you have done recently?

Deneen - For the comic books I model for (through Comic Book Divas), the characters are really just based on my likeness. The artists use photos and create the character's look and expressions based on my own. It is really very interesting and is certainly awesome to see...I mean, how many people get to see themselves as a comic book character? (Maybe I am a nerd, but it has always been a dream of mine.)

My first comic through Comic Book Divas is called "FANGS", portraying the vampire known as Raven. This comic also features two other horror actresses, Devanny Pinn as the vampire leader Lilly Le Sang and Michelle Shields as Sapphire. You may keep up with news and updates on the comic through the official website: http://comicbookdivas.com

I will also be in a new version of the Legion Studios comic book, "Master's Devils", as the wild and kick ass Devlynn Envy. She was such a fun character to play...I am really looking forward to seeing how the comic will turn out!

As far as the difference between modeling and acting, well, for me there isn't much of a difference at all. This is because I personally prefer photo sets that are dramatic and even a little disturbing. For shoots like that, you have to use emotion and really get into the mood...you can't just sit there.

R.D. - I am one of many people highly anticipating Richard Diaz’s Distortion. I am also working on an interview with him. What was it like to work with him, and what is he like as a director? How was your experience working on the film?

Deneen - Richard is one of the most talented people I have ever met. I cannot express how much I adore him as both a filmmaker and friend! Working with him on "Distortion" was especially great...I was flattered when he asked me to be a part of it.

By the time we had met, most of the film was already completed, but there was one scene that hadn't been shot yet...and after seeing the trailer and information on the film, I couldn't turn down such an opportunity. We shot my scene in just a couple of hours...and it proved to be a race against the weather AND light. However, we were able to get it done, and it was definitely a fun scene.

I highly recommend Richard as a director. Apart from "Distortion", Richard has helped me with some audition clips, and he always knows what looks/sounds best. Also, he is a director that has a true passion for film. He isn't in it for the money or the fame...he genuinely loves movies...and I think that is what is really going to gain him success.

R.D. - Rarely do you ever see someone as beautiful as yourself willing to get dirty, yet you take classes about doing stunt work. Are you the type of person who wants to do all your own stunts?

Deneen - You better believe I love getting dirty! I also prefer to do my own stunts, unless a scene calls for something I am not experienced in...like on the set of "As Night Falls", there was an awesome stunt driver named Frank that did the crazy driving sequences, and he was AMAZING!

I've done some pretty fun stuff in my films (lots of fight choreography, falls, and getting thrown into a fence by Debbie Rochon)...but I want to do even more. Unfortunately, my schedule gets busy and I don't always have time to go to stunt practice, so I make sure not to push myself and stay with what I know I can do. Some people do not seem to understand that stunts require safety and training. I say it a lot, but it is true...I really do admire the professionals out there. What they do requires lots of hard work and guts!

R.D. - As an actress, is there someone you look up to as inspiration for you work? Another actress maybe?

Deneen - Lori Cardille's performance from "Day of the Dead" has always been an inspiration to me...as well as Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens". As someone that loves playing strong characters (not just in strength, but in spirit as well), I grew up wanting to be Sarah or Ripley, so both these ladies are two I have always looked up to.

Kate Winslet is another actress I strongly admire. She has played so many different characters and really knows her stuff. I hope to be able to play dramatic roles as well as her one of these days. Uma Thurman in the "Kill Bill" films is another inspiration, and I also really like Rose McGowan. I find her to be rather unique and quirky as an actress...and I like that.

R.D. - Here is a time for your shameless plug! Is there anything you want to say about what you have coming out, or what you have already done?

Deneen - Just recently, the teaser trailer for "SLICES OF LIFE" (I play the lead in the "Pink Snapper" segment) has been released. It also stars Jack Guasta, Toya Turner, Judith Lesser, Kaylee Williams, Galen Schloming, Marv Blauvelt, and Alan Rowe Kelly. Check it out on the official website: http://slicesoflifemovie.com

The "AS NIGHT FALLS" (with Debbie Rochon, Dwight Cenac, Joe Davison, Lily Cardone, Grace Chapman, Michael Ellison, and Raine Brown) teaser trailer is also up on the official site: http://asnightfallsthemovie.com

We also have an awesome You Tube channel up with interviews and behind the scenes videos: http://youtube.com/asnightfallsthemovie

"MASTER'S DEVILS", the film based on the comic by Legion Studios, has a great website: http://mastersdevilsthemovie.com (New trailer and photos coming soon, but in the meantime, a fun little teaser is up for viewing!)

"WESTERN X", the web series I have mentioned above, has a great website that everyone should check out with some great photos and wallpapers: http://westernxtheshow.com

"THE DEADLIGHT DISTRICT" has a great website as well, and if you are a horror fan, I strongly suggest you add this to your bookmarks: http://www.deadlightmovie.com

Hmmm, well, and if anyone would like to add me on Facebook...you certainly may! I try to keep it updated as much as possible with news on not just my projects, but other indie projects as well: http://facebook.com/deneenmelody

R.D. - Last but not least, what is your favorite horror film of all time?! If you had to pick one.

Deneen - Easy. George Romero's "Day of the Dead"!

Thank you very much for the interview Deneen. I know I look forward to Distortion coming out, and I'll pretty much watch anything you do. I hope these last two posts have given Distortion the boost I was hoping for. I am really excited to see this movie and I hope you are too. Richard Diaz gives hope to small filmmakers every, in that you don't have to have an extremely large budget to make quality movies. If there is any other news on Distortion in the future, I will surely be posting it. If you made it through both interviews, thank you for reading!

All things Distortion- Interview with Richard Diaz and Deneen Melody

Hitting the festival circuit right now is the highly anticipated movie Distortion from Chicago director Richard Diaz. The movie stars Brenden Patrick Hill, Lauren Elaine, Alan J. Campbell, Jeff Jamerson, Shon Lange, Jennifer Dymit, and Deneen Melody.

George is a video editor that starts to get visions through his TV of people getting murdered by a mysterious killer. As the visions become clearer and more intense he seeks help from his friend Jay and girlfriend Danielle and Detective Sam Blaine. The killer is not just any killer but one that has returned to murder people who will one day become soldiers in the war against good and evil. But he must kill them before they become aware. George has become aware early and is the only one that can stop him. Written by Richard Diaz

I had a chance these past couple weeks to interview both Richard Diaz and Deneen Melody. Here is what they had to say, not only about Distortion, but other stuff they are working on:

R.D. - Distortion is your first horror film. What was it like to transition from other genres to the horror genre?

Richard - As a film buff I love all kinds of movies but I so love the horror genre so it was a natural fit for me. I do though love how horror can incorporate every other type of film. A horror film can have elements of drama, comedy, science fiction, action. That is what is so great about them and why I gravitate towards it. I don't know if I would ever make a straight on drama but I like putting drama into a horror or action film. I'm able to go into emotional areas with the characters just like I would with a straight drama but then two seconds later I'm squashing someone's head into a wall. I love it!

R.D. - Your previous film Drop Off was nearly twelve years ago. What was the cause for taking such a long delay between films?

Richard - Drop Off was an emotionally draining project. It was supposed to be what Distortion eventually became which was my first feature film. Unfortunately it became nothing more than a very expensive promotional trailer. A complicated situation. Friendships ended and I felt the need to step away for awhile. Not a bad thing because I was young and right out of film school plus I needed to live life a little. After two years I was ready to get back in and dedicate my life to what I wanted to do. I got involved with so many projects and started working as a professional editor and videographer. The only thing was times had changed a bit. When I made Drop Off it was shot on 16mm as everything was still analog and film based. Then when I got back in the digital revolution had happened so I had to teach myself everything. Luckily the concepts never change just the tools so I was in good shape that way. But teaching yourself a digital editing program from scratch (in my case Final Cut Pro) is quite an experience. All those years of working on projects both creative and work related helped me greatly because I was able to put everything I knew into Distortion. So while there was a huge break between the two projects from a directing standpoint I was extremely busy doing everything else. Possibly too much but I always like to be busy.

R.D. - As a fan of horror, I have to ask this question. What was it like working with Reggie Bannister on Drop Off?

Richard - It was as cool as you'd think it would be. I was at a Fangoria convention and I knew that Reggie was going to be in Chicago for awhile recording his album so I wanted to ask him to play a cameo. With determination and complete nervousness I approached him and asked if he would be interested. He looked at me for a second and then gave me his number where he was staying. We talked a few times and then I sent him the script. He really dug it so he agreed and it was so incredible. Here is someone I am such a big fan of and they're in my film. I'm sure he doesn't know how much he helped me but he did. He gave me the confidence to think that maybe I was in fact on the right path in life. Something I am still thankful for.

R.D. - In Distortion, you also take a stab at acting. What was that experience like? Is that something you might consider doing again in the future?

Richard - Some may not refer to it as acting as much as just hamming it up. The one bit I did in Distortion was more of a necessity. For some reason I had never shot a newscast which plays during one scene. So the week I needed to mail out the film for submission to the Cannes Film Festival I realized I still had that missing. Originally I wanted an actor for that but I didn't have time so I threw up a green screen and shot myself. I did want to do a cameo in the film but I figured it would be more of an Alfred Hitchcock thing where I would walk by or something. But this worked out ok. I had a lot of fun doing it even though it was just me in my living room. Actually I have always loved acting. The funny thing is I used to get a lot of really good feedback from acting teachers back in college including one that insisted I become an actor. But it just wasn't my passion. I always looked at it as a way to know what it's like to be an actor because I felt it would make me a better director to know what they are going through. What they might need to get to a certain place emotionally for a scene. I think it's important for a director to know that. To know what it's like to be in front of the camera and not just behind it. As far as more of it goes I've done some small acting here and there but I would love to try doing an actual acting role. I do enjoy it. There is a film this summer that I might be playing a supporting role in. Can't say much about it at this point but we'll see. That would be fun because it would only be me acting and not me doing a million other things on a production and then jumping in and doing a quick cameo. I'll actually only be acting which would be so great.

R.D. - Is Distortion just a random horror movie, or did you have some sort of inspiration for the film? What made you decide to make a horror film in the first place? When did you begin to enjoy horror movies?

Richard - I have loved horror films since ... well, as long as I can remember. The great thing about them, especially from a filmmaking standpoint, is that most of them are made with little money and independently so learning about how a lot of them were made was a huge influence on me. Directors like George A. Romero, Roger Corman, Don Coscarelli, William Lustig, Larry Cohen are just some of the few that really taught me about just going out and making your movie no matter what.

A few years ago I was starting to feel discouraged because I felt like I was doing everything but the one thing that I really wanted which was directing. I knew no one was going to give me a shot so I needed to create my own opportunity which meant I needed to make a film. At first I thought about making an action film sort of repeating what I was going to do with Drop Off but the story I came up with was way too complicated to do for so little money. Still dig the idea though which was sort of a modern take on Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo. I put that one on the back burner and tried to come up with another idea. A friend of mine said to me that he knew I could do action but he really wanted me to do a horror film since he knew how much I love the genre. He was right. I needed to do what I loved. Slight problem - I didn't have a story. It was hard because normally you have your story that you turn into a script that you turn into a movie. I was sort of reversed. I wanted to make a movie but didn't have an idea. At first I came up with an idea that was cool and started writing it. I got about 52 pages in and realized I had no where to go. That was more of a slasher film but outside of the set up it wasn't overly different than what had already been done before plus done a lot better than anything I could come up with so I walked away from it. However there was a nugget of an idea from it that stayed with me. Then a few months later out of the blue I was thinking about that little idea and in one of those magical creative moments an entire story unfolded in my head and that was the basis for what Distortion became. I decided to not push it so I lived with it for awhile and found I was thinking about it all the time. So when I finally sat down to write it I knew I was ready.

All those years of working on friend's projects and the work videos I was doing really informed me on what I needed money for and what I didn't. So it was easy for me to put into the script what I knew I could do and what I had access to. Although I did write a few things that I had no clue how I was going to do them. But if you can't push yourself then what's the point? I knew since I couldn't pay the actors that I needed to schedule a lot of the shooting around their work schedules. It was decided early on to not have a crew because I knew I couldn't schedule actors and a crew. The film never would have gotten made. So instead I took the Robert Rodriguez route like he did with El Mariachi and made the film on my own with no crew. The funny thing is that most of the work shoots that I do there are maybe two of you doing them so it wasn't really that much of a stretch to what I was already doing. I'd show up with my camera, light kit, microphone and got to work. It was challenging sometimes but overall it was fairly easy since I knew what I wanted and didn't have to tell five other people. I just did it.

Stylistically while there are handheld shots I was aiming for an older style. Not the current shaky cam type of way. I aimed it more after John Carpenter in a lot of ways. Although if I listed every filmmaker that I drew inspiration from I'd be listing a hundred names. I will say though that I shot it in an older way but I edited the film like I was making a bigger film. I shot a lot of coverage so I was able to give the film an energy that I think helps make it feel like a bigger film. I made the joke to a friend that I shot the film like David Lean but edited it like I was making The Dark Knight. Not to compare it to such a talented director and to such a great film. Just as examples. I do think though it's one of the things that might make it stand out a bit too.

R.D. - Right now Distortion is hitting the festival Circuit. When do you think it will be available for everyone else to watch?

Richard - I hope soon. Right now I'm submitting it to the bigger festivals which have some strict rules as far as where the film has or has not been shown. Once I'm through this I will be getting it out to as many places as I can. You don't make a film for you to watch in your living room. You make a film so people can see it. Although I admit I am nervous. The film has gotten to the point where it is no longer mine and I just have to put it out there for everyone to see. Both good and bad. You hope at least most people enjoy your film but you never really know. I just hope when people see it that they find it entertaining and that it inspires others to go make their film. Even if someone doesn't like the movie I want them to know that they don't need a lot of money or even a lot of people to do it. Just go out and make your movie. If that happens then I will be really happy.

R.D. - I know you are super busy with all the Distortion stuff right now, but what does the future hold for you in directing and acting? I sure hope it is more horror films.

Richard - Absolutely more horror films. I have one script idea for a werewolf film that I would really like to make but it would need a pretty decent budget. My friend Kirk Sanders and I are trying to get an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth made. We wrote this amazing script and made a really incredible promotional trailer that Kirk directed (which you can see here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPvUXBeHkbk) so hopefully that will happen soon. Just needs to be done the right way and we don't want to settle on that one. I also wrote an action screenplay called Another Sunrise which might be my favorite thing I've written but that would also require a decent budget.

In the immediate future I am making another horror film called Killer Talk about a late night talk radio host that does this show on horror films but becomes obsessed with this serial killer in the news. He has this fan fascination and goes so far as to try and track the killer down. He discovers that real life horror is a far cry from fictional horror. I'm trying to get that one made this summer. It'll be made the same way as Distortion with very little money and once again no crew. Only instead of years I want to make this film very quickly. Go off of gut instinct with a lot of things.

Beyond that I guess it depends on what happens with Distortion. If it opens up the right doors I am ready to walk through them. I've wanted to be a filmmaker since I was a kid and it has taken me a long time to get here. There is no turning back now. I never set a fall back situation for myself because I needed to keep going at it. Whatever the future holds for me I know I will keep on going after my dream no matter what.

R.D. - Last, but not least, what is your favorite horror film of all time? Don’t say Distortion, haha.

Richard - Distort ... er ... um ... Actually I go back and forth between The Exorcist and Dawn Of The Dead. I think it depends on which one I watched last. The Exorcist still gets under my skin no matter how many times I see it. Plus the fact that it is so serious makes it more disturbing. But my love for Dawn Of The Dead knows no bounds. It is such an incredible film and George Romero is one of my idols. Today I am going with Dawn Of The Dead because it is just such a masterpiece.

Thanks for the interview Richard. I look forward to Distortion. These interviews are much longer than I remember, so I am going to have to make a second post with the interview from Deneen and I will also have some stills with it. So keep reading if you would like to see more.

Easter weekend sum-up

This weekend was anything but exciting, but I did watch a lot of movies. On Saturday I let he SyFy channel play all day long, and caught some awesomely crappy movies like Ice Spiders, Swamp Devil, Maneater, and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder! Today I start my new job at Nationwide Insurance, and depending on how it goes, I might not be keeping up on posts as much this week. Just a warning, but I want to get settled in on the new job. I will try my hardest to get a couple in. I also caught these two amazing trailers this past weekend. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mega Piranha! What the hell is this?

Is it me or does a Piranha take out a helicopter in this trailer? That is the 80's popstar Tiffany, and sadly I met her when I took my wife to one of her concerts.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Let The Right One In (2008)

Let The Right One In (2008) Dir. by Tomas Alfredson

Oscar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire.

Finally! A return to vampires that don't sparkle like frickin diamonds in the sunlight! People have been telling me to watch this movie for quite some time now, but I wasn't ready to believe the hype. I am ready now! This movie kicked so much as and gave me hope that there are people out there that still believe in traditional vampires. The vicious animals that burn when sunlight hits them, and can't come in unless you invite them. I loved this frickin movie. Tomas Alfredson and Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema gave me a movie I could lick my chops at. It was so beautifully filmed that I was left staring in awe with almost every shot. The black and whites really set the mood, as shadows dance across the white snow, and every building exceptionally bland, but in a good way. I would really like to get ahold of the book it is based on by John Ajvide Lindqvist, as he is the same one who adapted it into this amazing script. With a guy hanging a boy from a tree to drain his blood, from the very start the mood is set. The pace of the film continues from there, and each time I thought the movie was about to drag, it picks back up again. Like waves crashing against a coast, beautiful scene after scene come pouring in.

The acting in the movie was exceptionally well, considering the two main actors are twelve year olds. The chemistry between the two was undeniable and never once in the movie did I feel uncomfortable with two twelve year olds falling in love. The relationship was awkward from the start, and that is just how they built it. Even after Oskar finds out that Eli is a vampire, he only spends a short time dwelling on it, and acts more interested than afraid. It is his first true friend, and he would do anything for her, no matter what she is. While the focus is on the two kids for most of the movie, the subplots are brilliant in a way that doesn't take away from the heart of the story. The love and devotion that Hakan showed for Eli lead me to believe that he might not be her father, and might actually be a former lover. Like maybe she didn't want to turn him, so he stayed with her and grew old. He acted jealous when Eli would go see Oskar, yet he stayed devoted to her til the very saddening disturbing end. I could be wrong, but that is just how I felt. I really need to read the book, or they need to make a sequel or prequel. I would be ok with a less exciting sequel as long as I get some answers! I could feel for each of the characters in Let The Right One In, as they were all believable, and relatable. Every person out there that has been bullied can relate to Oskar, and the feeling of not being able to do something about it, and the feeling of being all alone. Many people out there would kill for the companionship he got from Eli. From start to finish I never lost interest in any of the characters, and they were easy to keep track of.

Everything about this movie is absolutely amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone. I will be buying the DVD as soon as I can figure out how to tell the difference in which copy has the fixed subtitles. The pool scene is spine-tinglingly smooth, scaling the outside of a hospital is unbelievably awesome, and the cats will forever make me smile. Great Movie! This might be the best vampire movie I have ever seen.

Entertainment Value :10/10 Wall-climbing Vampires
Cinematic Value: 9/10 Wall-climbing Vampires

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How To Be A Serial Killer (2008)

How To Be A Serial Killer (2008) Dir. by Luke Ricci

A serial killer decides to teach the secrets of his satisfying career to a video store clerk.

I have been meaning to watch this movie for some time now, but never got around to it until today. I'm glad I finally decided to watch it as it is a fun quirky little dark comedy. It is sometime listed under the horror genre but is in no possible way a horror film. I did find myself laughing quite a bit, especially the parts between Dameon Clarke and Matthew Gray Gubler (Reed from Criminal Minds). Dameon plays the serial killer, and Matthew plays his apprentice, Bart. The chemistry between the two of them is hysterical, but in an extremely awkward way. Gubler isn't too far off from his character of Reed on Criminal Minds, except less smart, but that didn't bother me that much.

From a film standpoint, there is nothing about this film that pops out in an extreme way. It is shot very simple, and rides on a perfectly written script. It doesn't rely on gore, or special effects to get the job done. Although, I will say the use of the headband camera was a nice touch. Mike (Dameon Clarke) always has a positive attitude towards what he is doing, and even refers to it as doing people a favor. This upbeat perspective towards killing people is reflected not only in the positive manor he carries himself in, but lighting and cinematography as well. Each frame is filled with vibrant colors, and well lit rooms. Even at night, streetlights are always around. I think this really helped keep me interested, as I always saw every little thing that was going on. The comedy on this film was extremely sarcastic, as you get to see every part of a serial killers life. In a crazy way, I couldn't help but feel like it was probably really close to how a sociopath might go about his day. This film does it with humor, and takes itself very lightly while it shows these things. It was almost like watching a comedy version of Dexter.

The acting in the movie was amazing. The serial killer, the student, the loving girlfriend- blind to her boyfriend's actions, and they were all done extremely well. Clarke was unforgettable as the upbeat positive serial killer, taking pride in what he has accomplished, and feeling confident in teaching his ways to another. Grubler was great as the nervous yet anxious student, always willing to do whatever it takes to make the teacher happy. These two carry the movie on their shoulders, and with good reason. They play their parts perfectly, and I felt like I could compare myself to either character. Yes I said that I could feel for what the serial killer was going through. The way Mike handles himself as the serial killer was amazing. Watching him slowly lose his control on the situations left me wanting more. At times, this movie almost makes fun of the way killers go about themselves, but it also makes fun of everyone else and how they handle them. Dumb cops, and dumb neighbors running towards gunshots. I think it was an easy way for the filmmakers to get their point across, and I'm glad they did it without jazzing the movie up too much.

I did extremely enjoy the movie overall, but I do have one bone to pic with it. The ending fell a little flat. I think it could have used a bit of a twist to spice it up, and I thought of the perfect twist. If you have seen this movie and want to know my thought on what that should have been, email me. The movie definitely ended, but I felt like it was to quick and without anything exciting about it. It just ended, and that let me down. I do feel like this movie is ownable, and I will look for the DVD. It will be interesting to see what special features it has. I recommend this movie to everyone. Go watch, and remember this line, " Oh, my friends having a bachelor party." I was laughing so hard in that scene!

Entertainment Value : 8/10 Blow Darts
Cinematic Value : 7/10 Blow Darts