Friday, January 26, 2007


Hey Gang,

Here is a review for the EVIL DEAD musical playing on Broadway now that I saw while in New York. A little long in the tooth (kinda like the Scott Deadite in ED2...god what a dork)...Enjoy!

A deliciously deadpan, splat-tastic romp, with a Necronomicon's worth of memorable tunes, Evil Dead: The Musical (Currently playing in New York) is a definite must-see for both die-hard fans of the E.D. series and anyone looking for a hell of a night on Broadway…without the frou-frou theater snobs and $200 ticket prices.

As much as horror fans call themselves "purists", they also tend to succumb to the Industry ploys that recycle well-known properties into endless sequels, remakes (and otherwise) to cash in on fan loyalty. The people behind the “product” seem to enjoy squeezing every last drop of artistic dignity a cult hit or fan favorite to where it nearly becomes an mockery of the original’s impact. 

Exhibit A: Freddy Kruger. In 1984 he was considered one of the most frightening characters to burst from the silver screen and into our pop-culture conscience and our nightmares. The public begged for more, and by God, we got it with a slew of sequels--some good, some not so.

Along the way, Freddy's modus operandi morphed from humor-as-menace to humor-as-gimmick, and every subsequent kill in a Nightmare flick was complimented with a clever pun or catchphrase that related to said murder most foul (usually followed by "...bitch" for good measure). This seemed to work well for a while, creatively peaking with Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, which blended the horror and humor with nary a tongue in cheek.

By 1990 however, Freddy's finger-knives were dulled to the nub, with dolls, comics, and despite it's network ties, a decent TV anthology spin-off. So much for the Freddy that haunted our dreams; by Freddy's Dead, everyone's favorite child-molesting serial killer had become the Henry Youngman of Horror, and yet they still keep 'em coming. Why?


The same can be said for the Evil Dead series, one of the most creative and successful fear franchises in horror history. Created by young Goreteurs-in-Training, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert with a bull-chinned Bruce Campbell acting as their every guy hero/extreme whipping boy (sorry Johnny Knoxville; "The Chin" was the original Jackass), the series was a fan favorite from the get-go, going from cult classic to full blown franchise, following the wacky and bile-ridden misadventures of Ash as he hacks and slashes (and chainsaws) through "deadites" of all shapes and forms.

The films blended the most extreme horror and gore with a dose of humor and slapstick. Sequel/remake Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1986) peppered in the humor then 1991's Army of Darkness in 1991, had laughs as the primary focus.
Unlike Freddy and other horror icons, Ash was an average nitwit, a bumbling fool stumbling through space and time as he kicked some evil ass, occasionally throwing a memorable quote or two around to keep us guessing when to laugh or scream. "Groovy" is indeed the perfect catchphrase for this series.

But, to the surprise of all involved in the Evil Dead trilogy, what started in 1981 as a quick calling card for the filmmakers (dubbed "Video Nasty" by the UK upon it's mostly banned video release) slowly became a cult phenom, spawning the two sequels, endless comics and videogames, multiple versions of the film on laserdisc and DVD (the best being the "Book of the Dead" editions made to look like the Necronomicon, the cause of all the "evil" in the series) and launching the career of both creators and it's fan-beloved star. With countless new versions of the movies being re-released almost every other year, the comic book series chugging along and a planned remake in the works by Raimi and Tapert themselves, it seems the Evil Dead's spawn will be stealing our geek dollars for years to come, but where will it end?

Now, just when you thought it was safe to scream, "Jump the Shark!", Evil Dead is alive and well...and LIVE as Evil Dead: The Musical!

Ok…before you dismiss this as just another campy cash-cow a la Grease, Footloose and Joe vs. The Volcano: Live on Ice (OK so that last one is a wish, sue me), know that the creators of the musical are also ardent fans of the Ash vs. Deadite mythology, going so far as to reference not just the first film but the entire Evil Dead story, including some choice lines and moments from Army of Darkness ("Good, bad...I'm the guy with the gun") thrown in for a fan's delight. Of course, this being an Evil Dead  musical, there is PLENTY of blood, so much so that the first 3-6 rows have been anointed "The Splatter Zone" which allows hardcore Gorehounds to bathe in the on-stage splatter (Gallagher would have been pleased…or pissed).
But what makes Evil Dead: The Musical stand out from the pack of overbaked, Hollywood-to-Broadway adaptations is it's ambitious & earnest attempt at making the storyline entertaining not only for horror fans, but general audiences as well. Using a healthy heaping of pop-culture humor, some well-written songs and some hilariously sick set-pieces that will have you screaming with delight, even if you don’t know what happens if you read the Necronomicon (advice: don't read it, idiot), Evil Dead will make you smile, squirm and tap your feet to the final bloody end.

The basic storyline follows close to the first film's bible: 5 college friends, Ash (Ryan Ward), Lynda (Jennifer Byrne), Scott (Brandon Wardell) Annie (Renee Klapmeyer) and Ash's sister Cheryl (A new and welcome addition to the storyline, played with demonic glee by Jenna Coker) head out to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend of youthful debauchery when they happen upon the Necronomicon (i.e. The Book of the Dead). Our hapless heroes starts reciting some passages, which in turn unleash an evil force that descends upon them, possessing each member and leaving  lone survivor Ash to hack and slash his way through a small army of bleeding, frothing, dancing "deadites" to survive the night.

At first the production design and direction is almost on par with a School play or WAAAY Off-Broadway production; crude landscape backdrop, colorful animal cutouts passing by as our heroes travel to the cabin, stark lighting, etc. But once inside, the stage transforms into the atmospheric cabin, complete with iconography reminiscent to the films (the creepy Deer head, the haunted furniture, et al) and a looming sense of danger lurking at every corner (or fruit cellar).

Once the crap hits the chaise lounge, the show, co-directed by Christopher Bond and Hinton Battle (with book and lyrics by George Reinblatt) goes full tilt boogie on your senses and never lets up. Such rousing numbers as "Do The Necronomicon," "Bit Part Demon" and my personal favorite "All The Men In My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons," all evoke a "Rocky Horror" spirit, but are still examples of the clever writing involved and the genuine infectiousness of the songs.

The tone is playful, mischievous and comedic, and each character’s random transformations into the Evil Dead are cleverly executed, using the nooks and crannies of the set to give the "spirit" of Raimi's Gonzo visual style. The musical never slows with its many visual and aural gags, and the audience I attended with ate up every crazy moment, even down to the S-Mart climax, which to some E.D. fans is considered the "Return of the Jedi" ending, not the original intended climax to the series where Ash is transported into an alternate "Deadite" infested future. 

Speaking of crazed, Ryan Ward's Ash is a singin', dancin' revelation, even for the hardened Evil Dead fan who will take nothing less than the image of Bruce "The Chin" Campbell in the role that made him famous. Well, fellow Dead fans, as a tried and true Deadite devotee myself, rest those bones easier, because I can attest that Ward, who originated the role in the original Canadian production, takes the essence of Ashley and makes the character his own, yet never deviates too far from the "Groovy" mugging we know and expect from the bumbling hero.

Even when watching Ash pull off some soft-shoe action whilst contemplating chainsawing his lover's head, Ward grounds the performance in Ash's lovelorn misery and simultaneously keeps the warped fun intact (especially in the hilarious "What the F*ck Was That?" number, or when he continuously bellows "Noooooooo!" at every tragic event). The rest of the cast is also wonderfully in on the joke, with some actors even playing multiple roles ("Fake Shemps" if you're a Raimi nerd), but always keeping their tongues firmly sticking out of their cheeks, especially with the addition of Ash's prickly sister who serves as a Greek Chorus...albeit one that lives in the fruit cellar and pops up to give color commentary on the proceedings like a zombified John Madden.

Filled with plenty of moments to make both the Broadway crowd as well as the Horror Geek scream with joy, Evil Dead: The Musical  is an adaptation that is worthy to be part of the world created by Raimi and Co., not just a quick franchise cash-in. Hopefully it travels to other cities and would make an AMAZING Vegas show (screw you Cirque Douche Soleil), and if you're looking for something different in your quest for live entertainment, Evil Dead: The Musical  puts the "dead" in this raucous live act and could be the heir apparent to "Rocky Horror"...hail to the king, indeed, baby.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

A fan-made Trailer!?!

Holy shit, how cool is this?

There's been some really killer fan-made promo material out there and fuck it if I'm not honored on behalf of everyone involved in the flick. From the get-go there's been an unbelievable amount of support for the film, both from the studio and from the fans out there who I've both met in-person and on the Interweb thus far, and I'm floored, grateful and of course crossing pubes that fans dig the direction we went with the movie. Don't worry, there's plenty of WRONG TURN 2 goodies to come once the film locks a date and the PR machine starts cranking. Lots of closed door meetings right now, so hold tight...but for now keep checking out these really cool D.I.Y. promos that i keep finding out there; great work "Vicent1987", especially the way you appropriate and manipulate some iconic shots from some macabre classics ...can you guys name which movies he uses?

Pretty cool reminds me of my youthful days, taking two VCR's, wiring them together and editing music video remixes using footage from movies like MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, HARDWARE & LETHAL WEAPON 2 (imagine the "House on Stilts Collapse" set to Pantera's FUCKING HOSTILE...tits) and show them at parties, which was usually met with curious looks and dismissive smirks.

Now people can upload video elements directly from the web, edit using flash based software and upload for the world to see with no muss, no fuss, no bullshit "record pause....record! Pause!! fuck...roll it back, do it again...record pause...". You lucky bastards! Kids: learn Final Cut Pro, get a shitty DV camera and kick some ass...cinema is at your fingertips and yor worldwide distribution in a few uploads away.

God bless modern technology. Skynet will be aware momentarily.

Check this fothermucka out HERE.

Yeah Yeah...I'll get to the rest of the New York 07 soon as i get back from Vancouver. Tim Hortons, here I come!

Stayin' Scary,

PS: THE HITCHER: "Worst music cue in an action sequence ever"? You be the judge...or, not.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

NEW YAWK #1 (1.10.07)

So, yeah, we're back in New York and loving it. It's chilling as fuck. L.A. as made W.T.P.'s* out of us. I'm a wind-chill softie now and need to acclimate before my frakkin toes fall off. But let me back up...

I've been dying to get back on here with alllll the time I thought I had with Xmas and new years to get to my reflections on an amazingly crazy year, one that changed my life in so many ways, and of course my favorite dork tradition of the year: making a Top 10 fav movies of the year. I started doing it in 1989 (Batman was top of the heap, with Lethal Weapon 2 and Parenthood a close 3rd) and it's been part of the experience of seeing and experiencing films; sitting in a theater or watching a DVD hoping for it to rank when I examine it's merits at years end. This year has been fucking stellar, with so many films I was dismissing this time last year (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND for example...It was the RETURN OF THE JEDI of the series, which to me ain't a bad thing. Ratner rocked it faithfully, face it people.) and so many exceeding expectations (PAN'S LABYRINTH, anyone?) that I think I've just been intimidated. Plus with a few writing projects that are WAY overdue (sorry, guys!) and with working over the break it really didn't feel holiday-esque and kept me from sitting down to finally finalize the list, which would be considered past due in bloggerville I could see. But I'm here now in Long Island on the 3rd day of our "We Are Family Post-Holiday Tour 2007" and despite our ill-preparation for the wind-chill...W.T.P.'s to the's been a blast. We spent yesterday just readjusting to driving around the island, where it's illegal to talk on a cell phone in a car and noone seems to care. Driving around Long Island, Queens and the city was a trip; instantly my brain seemed to download all the best traffic and route information that lay dormant and dusty in my brain for the last few years and we were speeding from the Bklyn Queens Expressway, through Queens (our old stomping ground from 2000-02) where we left the car (a Pontiac Vibe, which is like the slightly less gay cousin to the P.T. Cruiser) to bask in the glory of the N train, our old commute route into Manhattan.

Now we dont go to the city for the museums or the sights or the other tourist traps...we go for the food. Each point we hit from 59th street to the Bowery was from eatery to eatery and everything in between is considered "sight-seeing". So first we hit downtown, where one of our favorite places, RICE, resides on Mott. Just by chance, we walk in to greet a shivering little Boston Terrier that INSTANTLY made me miss The Banz, but this particular Boston looked familiar....especially since it was tethered to one Famke Jansen, one of the most striking women in existence, who was also eating a bowl of Curry by herself (well, with "Licorice" in tow) so we had a nice lunch with some light conversation with Famke and away we went. Super nice, Famke is tops in many of my book (aqnd of course, on "the list").

Walking down the Bowery in the FREEZING cold (the wind chill factor outside would actually freeze off a witches tit, this I assure you) so between Point A and Point B was a fucking ordeal, with bri and I doing our own remake of Carpenter's THE THING all bundled up looking like Al Queda chanting "Lee Lee lee" to keep ourselves chuckling and warm as we bee-line across the east side till we get to Teany. This is a cool little tea bar owned by Moby and it's a must stop if you like a funky Roibus and a side of "hip", check this place out. No Moby playing, which might be a good thing.

After warming up with a Teanychino and some baked goods, we walk to Broadway and Houston, which is "Ground Zero" for chick hotness. I used to work in this area years ago (for and later a Chinese TV show) and now that I've been on Melrose and among the Hollywood fashionistas and I can proudly say that 365 days a year, even when the cold can peel any exposed flesh off in seconds, you will ALWAYS find a beautiful woman who you can take a mental picture of for the spank bank home witcha. I guarantee it, and just imagine what it's like in April when the coats come off and the Spaghetti string shirts are slipped on. Bliss. But I digress...

So we take the N on Prince street up to Times Square, just to make sure we hit that landmark and of course it was absolute chaos in a croissant (or a Bagel, this being New Yawk) but we got our digital shots out, checked on tickets for the play we're going to hit on Friday (which you cannot begin to fathom my geek-excitement for) and then headed back to Queens to hang out with some good friends who live in the area. By 11pm we both felt like a bus hit us FINAL DESTINATION style and we headed back to the Island exhausted but exhilarated. As much as NYC is a hassle to deal with, I'd move back here in a...well...a New York Minute, for lack of a better cliche. Sorry Im fucking spent.

Yesterday we spent the day with my family on the Island, going to Lunch and just doing the requisite family thang, and with my ipod (in shuffle mode) constantly playing tracks off of Stone Temple Pilot's CORE album as i drove through the once familiar (and not-so-mean) streets of Port Jeff, Setauket and Stony Brook, it was a pretty nostalgic day. Part of me is so proud I stuck to my dreams and passions in making movies and that in many ways they are coming true, and being home only made me cherish my accomplishments all the more, but also put my head into a cautious, realistic space, knowing it can all go away so quickly, and to keep my head down and continue "dreaming". Got me this far...and i can't wait to make Long Island scary'll see soon...

One note: Just looking around my room, it's so funny seeing how a room is a chronicle of one's childhood dreams & interests...posters, hanging pictures, bric-a-brac on shelves and walls, all the things we end up shedding when we grow older and responsibilities begin to interweave into our lives. But being in my room, with the posters and figures and books, was a real trip, seeing how in retrospect, they were both minor and major influences. One book in particular caught my eye: Stephen King's CHRISTINE. The book you see is the first book besides Sweet Pickles and Disney's The Black Hole movie book that I ever read front to back...when I was 7. This book scared me shitless, more than the face-ripping in POLTERGEIST, more than the burning Nazis in RAIDERS, more than that fucking Calagari-esque vampire in SALEMS LOT (notice how all three of the aforementioned films are PG, which was the only way I got to watch horror since PG was broadcast on HBO before 8) and when I look at it, I see where my love for having the poop scared our of my body, my love for scaring other people (I would go into school and read passages from this and Clive Barker's BOOKS OF BLOOD to my friends, much to their excitement when i got to the gore or descriptions of boobies) and also my undying love for anything Stephen King. This book, more than my mom exposing my brothers and I to classics like DAWN OF THE DEAD and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and BLOOD BEACH, more than my subscription to Fangoria, is the genesis of my dreams, and to flip through it's galleys was like taking a time-warp back when I first read the book and was amazed how words could affect me so much. Now I'm creating nightmares, the torch has been (somewhat) passed, and holding this book again filled me with geek-joy. Thanks Sir King.

Today we're back in the city to wrap a few things up and eat some more (magnolia Cupcakes, here I come!) and then tonight's the play...Im giggling with anticipation. Then it's off to Syracuse to see Bri's family for a few days before we're back to (he)L.A. so hopefully we get a LITTLE snow, even for nostalgia....

I promise to put up my Top 10 movies of 2006 up soon when I can finally lock a set list down so sorry to both of you guys reading this.

Ah...New Yawk.


*(Weather Tolerance Pussies)

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Soapbox: Quiches and Gustav

Hi All,
Lots to talk about with our New York trip, but for now I just wanted to get this off my hairy fuckin' chest.

I was really itching to get on an E-soapbox about the current and dire state of today's marketing. It's really pissing me the fuck off, and here are two relevant examples:

1. BUGER KING vs. The Quiche Cliche.
Hi. My name is Joe. And I like a good Quiche.
Why do I feel like a social miscreant when it comes to this fluffy, savory egg delight? Where did the negative stigma come from? I think it's ripe material for a documentary, but for now I'll save you the conspiracy theories and hard statistics. I just don't get the lack of Quiche love among men. Is it considered "feminine" to enjoy a good florentine and cheddar slice? Well Burger King thinks so: for their new "Texas Double Whopper" ad campaign, they name check the quiche as being for wussies, where man-handling a Heart-Attack-on-a-Bun will properly confirm your masculinity.

This is an unfair judgement on the Quiche, a tasty delicacy that despite it's froufrou origins, is worth a second chance. Maybe it needs a commercial on SPIKE or a 3 page full color spread in Maxim, maybe we need to see Clive Owen, Brad Pitt or Statham or take a big bite between gunfire and fuck scenes for the macho community to take note. For now I will be actively protesting the Texas Double Whopper while enjoying an entire Quiche (I'm thinking....ham, cheddar and asparagus) every time I'm playing one of the Burger King X-Box games. Fuck you King!

2. PRIMEVAL vs. Moviegoers: OK, I've known about this movie for a while from the horror trades and sites and originally it was slated to be released in April. But at the 11th hour, the fine folks at Disney decided to do the ole' switcheroo with another genre release, David Goyer's THE INVISIBLE, supposedly to give the latter film more post time or maybe they are trying to save it. No matter. I was moderately psyched to see PRIMEVAL because...come on, its a giant Croc movie, which in turn means it's a grounded monster movie, and I was sold. If you've ever seen John Sayles brilliant B flick ALLIGATOR (or the final momnts of ROMANCING THE STONE), you know the cinematic potential for huge lizards chomping down on flesh and bone. Plus, the poster that was released was pretty bad-ass and subtly set up the idea that this fucker is HUNGRY. But why the release date switch? Is PRIMEVAL just fulfilling a theatrical distribution window set up my the Mouse House to give THE INVISIBLE more time to finish? Is Disney thinking that PRIMEVAL is just a Giant stinker worthy of the dumping ground that is usually known as January, or maybe that it's actually a good horror flick worthy to counter-program the Oscar hopefuls being released wider, similar to what HOSTEL and WHEN A STRANGER CALLS did?

But then the trailers and commercials started hitting the net and the airwaves, and i got pissed. Really pissed.

"He is the world's deadliest serial killer"? Huh?!?!

For the past few weeks I've heard people from all sides asking about this new serial killer flick coming out, with nary a lizard scale or a huge tail or anything, just Dom (Gravedancers) Purcell and Orlando (Evolution) Jones throwing the "big eyes" and looking at....something.

Look, I understand that a big croc movie that DOESN'T have Paul Hogan in it might be a hard sell...but dont LIE to the consumer. Sure, the stats could be true: "He" might be real..."he" might be still at"He"?!?! A crocodile named "Gustav"?!? It might be the name someone actually bestowed on the thing, but that is one development meeting I would have loved to be in just to give the ugly green fucker a better moniker. Gustav? Is he gonna kill you with Swedish Meatballs?

I'm sorry but I'm calling BULLSHIT on this marketing campaign. I can appreciate the ambition behind the campaign, but again, when it comes to horror fans, treat us like the smart and savvy viewers we are, not the gullible idiots they make us seem to be. I thought it was 100% Idiocracy when, this time last year, there were reports that people were walking out of HOSTEL when they discovered that Quentin Tarantino did NOT direct the flick, saying they were confused by Q.T.'s name above the title. Come on people, you can read the movie times in the paper or on-line or even "IN" line at the can read that it says "Presents" and frankly, Eli was all over the thing more than Eddie Murphy's name in the HARLEM NIGHTS credits, so that just seemed like negative spin on HOSTEL's success, but it's not bad marketing. Having Quentin's name on it was a masterstroke, a seal of geek quality. Hey if it's good and fucked up enough for THRILLER:A CRUEL PICTURE's biggest fan (if you haven't seen THRILLER, the inspiration for Ellie in KILL BILL, leave this site now and dont come back till you have purchased a copy), then it's gotta be at least partially interesting right?
...and then some. Look at the teaser poster for HOSTEL PART II, the meat tapestry. Gross? Yes. Misleading? If you know the first film, you know it's going for maximum sickness, and this poster is just ILL, both in the "Im going to blow chunks" as well as the "Beastie Boys" sorta way.

Long story short, shame on you Mouse and your shitty marketing tactics. As of this writing, the total Box Office hasn't been tallied, but it's pretty clear from the reviews alone that PRIMEVAL will die a quick and painful death. Who knows? Maybe it will live on on DVD...Hey Gustav, just be prepared to get your ass kicked by WRONG TURN 2, pal.

OK...stepping down from my Soapbox derby, but I do want to leave you with an odd and intriguing image I just saw this morning...the gaming world is about to play with fire and unless they want "Human Sacrifice. Cats and Dogs, living together...mass Hysteria" they better get this right...

So, New York is still in full, chilling swing and will give you guys the full report you care.

Staying Scary,

Friday, January 12, 2007

I Heart NYC

I love the smell of urine on the N train platform.
I love the steam rising from the streets like Satan's farts.
I love the people who briskly move in and out of your personal space with a smile AND scowl.
I love that SNL is rehearsing only a few blocks away.
I love that Magnolia Bakery is holding my cupcakes away a few blocks more.
I love that CHUD's are lurking under my feet, and hoping the ECTO-1 speeds past.
I Love New York City.

Stay tuned for more...