Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An Open Letter to Fright Fest: Part Deux (08 Edition)

Hello all (or, rather, "Cheerio"...sorry Paul for the flub),

Well, another wondrous weekend of blood, guts, scares, screams has come and gone, and its taken me almost 48 hours to muster up the strength to write this. It's a bittersweet affair, almost like the final recognition that FrightFest 2008's curtains have closed, and I don't want to believe it was over. It can't be, can it? It all happened to fast!!

Since last year's whirlwind UK experience at FF07, Green and I came back to the states in a glorious daze, telling anyone and everyone how spectacular last year's festival was, how the programmers had heart and soul behind their selections of films to unleash on our senses, how the visiting filmmakers were all treated so well and "like family" & how the fans were some, if not THE, best, gracious, opinionated and most respectful horror/genre nuts in the woods. It's that feeling you get when you walk in a room and DON'T feel like an outcast, the welcoming warmth of belonging...maybe that's because we all were outcasts at one point for our love of the genre, and this annual event was, in a way, like "H.A." (Horror Anonymous) where we can all gather, partake in the refreshments off to the side and just commiserate with each other on our addiction: Horror films...good, bad and ugly. Being with you all last year felt like being home, and we vowed to return for FF08, this time with some form of gift to give back a little of the love that we experienced last year. Yes, we were drunk on the experience, and sure, when summer this year rolled around Green and I were still looking at each other going "Holy crap, did we actually promise to do that? Yikes!!!" but dammit, we were men of our word, and by George we were going to return with the goods.

The "Douche Brothers" shorts that we presented exclusively to you guys this year as promos before the main films were some of the most rewarding creative endeavors I've ever been part of, and to finally collaborate with Mr. Green was the most fun I've had since spilling entrails out of a reality show celeb's V-Jay Jay. Seriously speaking, amidst all the craziness in our lives right now, to be able to step aside from the madness and create these little labors of love, almost on the fly and with no time or money (and a LOT of favors pulled), reminded me why we make movies, why we are drawn to dealing with daily bullshit in (he)L.A. and the mighty Hollywood rat-race, and our goal was to MAYBE get a few chuckles from the crowd, and have a legit reason to tell people back home why we were going out to the UK again. Kinda hard to say "Oh, we're just going to sit in a theater with 1000 of our friends and watch horror flicks all weekend"...but saying (in a snooty, up-turned nasal accent) "Oh, we have 5 short motion pictures that we are screening" has a much more dignified ring to it, no?

The shorts were serving as a "thank you" for the hospitality you all showed us last year, and what was so great was while we were writing, shooting and editing them as a furious clip (literally, we began them less than a month before the festival and were finishing the edits a day before Opening night...whew!) we would always be asking "Will they get this joke?" "Do you think that gag will work?" "Will they know who this person is or that reference?" and then thought back to all the great conversations we had outside the Odeon, or in the theater, or at the Phoenix, and we both agreed that if anyone was gonna get our in-jokey horror humor, it was THIS FRIKKIN' CROWD....and lo n' behold, the nights we got to sit with you all and watch our ugly mugs rant, rave (and of course, sing!) on that huge screen, you all just GOT IT. Every joke, every gag, every cameo and reference seemed to get a reaction, and it only validated that if there is one audience that every horror filmmaker needs to show their film to, its the FrightFest Family. Thank you all so much for embracing our was like Christmas morning and watching the eyes of the people you love light up when they unwrap the gifts they always wanted, and know that they were produced with total love. it was an opportunity of a lifetime...especially to finally channel the Aykroyd. Good times.

Ok, enough of that bollocking....

To Paul, Alan, Ian, Greg and all the programming partners that make FrightFest the horror event of the year: Again, you knocked it out of the park boys. Even if we just came back to watch some great Sinema, you guys selected some great films and were always so welcoming to everyone who walked into the Odeon, ready for a right scaring. I will never forget experiencing movies like LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Beautiful), TIMECRIMES (Twisty and twisted), BAD BIOLOGY (Henenlotter is back, muthaf**kaz!!) and of course MARYTRS (which has still been messing with my head for days, damn you Pascal!). Thank you for indulging us in showing our geeky lil' shorts, practically sight-unseen till they screened for everyone, and that trust you had in our meager creative abilities was greatly appreciated. Special thanks to Ian for working with us on the many format issues and never failing to deliver when all hope seemed to be lost...I hope you are getting a well-deserved rest for at least a week! But to all of you beautiful bastards, thanks so much for making FrightFest the best place to see and screen the latest and greatest in the genre. Can't wait to see what you have planned for the big 1-0! Your baby's almost all grows up!

Plus, those programs were the bee's knees, great work!

To Jen, Suzi, Sian, Ailsa, Gareth and all the other "Lovelies": Shhhh...don't tell those blokes I was just talking to above...but YOU guys were the gory glue that held it all together. When the guys were off doing their own thing, you all were the ones who made sure that the bags were packed, the people were set and everyone in-between were where they needed to be. When you go to festivals like these, everyone behind the scenes kinda becomes a blur, but you all were so personable, funny and accommodating to us again, the other filmmakers and of course the fans that its a delight to see you all every year, kicking ass, taking names and of course, raping faces. From the opening night party to the final round of drinks at the hotel, we always felt comfortable and taken care of with a smile and a chuckle...and a few hair extensions left in my room for good measure (that's another story, gang). If it wasn't for these tireless few...FrightFest would probably not be the event it still is and will continue to be for years to come.

To Gregg, Pascal, Joey, Stephen, Adam, Jace, Bishara, James, John, Trevor, Sir Henenlotter and all the filmmakers we got to hang out with while there: It was so great to be there with you during your special FrightFest weekend! Our previous FF's were so memorable (clearly or we wouldn't have returned!) and we hope that you all had the same joy of seeing your passion projects unspool in front of the best possible "test audience" around, not a bunch of assy Valley Girls or some old farts in Topeka, Kansas who wouldn't appreciate what you were trying to pull off. It was great to make some great new cinematic allies with you and hope you walked away from FF a little more confident in your hard work and will want to come back next year, either with new stories to tell or just to kick it with the gang again!

To Neil, Axelle, Amanda, Phil, Giles, James, Scotty, Ian, Dave, Adam, Russell, Doc, Tony, Tabitha, Emily and all of our UK family, the fans and friends who fill every seat at the Odeon (way too many to keep naming...Im trying to wrap it up here so sorry if I missed someone): Thank you for welcoming us back with open arms. You guys are the reason that all the above mentioned make film and want to screen them. The horror genre has always been seen as the red-headed stepchild of the media, yet for 5 days in London, Horror was considered the highest form of art out there (save maybe that ZORRO musical...looked bloody brilliant!) and it was an honor and pleasure to be there, celebrating every scream, shock, scare and blood splash with the best horror crowd in the world. It was a shame we didn't have anything more "meaty" to show in terms of new features (blame those damn strikes!) but crossing fingers we will be back with new bloody endeavors to show you guys. Funny how Adam and I are always saying "Well, I dunno, will this project play at FrightFest?" when considering our next projects, and it's true to say, we will always be staunch supporters of the festival in any way possible.

I think I can speak for Adam in saying now, throwing down the gauntlet...we'll be seeing you again next year for the 10 year anniversary! Im already counting the hours...8712 as of this us a seat at the Empire!

F*ck Beijing, this past weekend was where the Horror Olympics took place, at FrightFest 2008!

Staying Scary,

"The Ghosts of Joe & Adam"

PS: Im gonna blog the shit out of this weekend when I can, dont you worry...lots to tell!

PPS: Thanks in advance to eye4images & Neil for the pics...still trying to upload mine, dammit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

4 Days till FrightFest...

Hey all,

OK....first off, sorry for the long gap; been very crazy around the here (Ill fill you in more later on that, bear with us) but just to get up to snuff, let me recap a bit:

HELLBOY 2: Amazing, it had creative juices bursting from the seams of celluloid. I love Del Toro, and this one swept me off my feet...again. Great job G!

DARK KNIGHT. AMAZING...IMAX: AMAZINGER. Been a while since ive seen a movie like that, a full-blooded crime epic that just sweeps you away, leaving you breathless. Sure, people compare it to HEAT, and like that film, I see the comparison. Its very much like a crime thriller with a Soap Opera structure, so many layers shrouded in shadow. Ledger's Joker will be on the chests and lapels of many an anti-establishment steam-punk for generations to come, his performance was that iconic. Fucking masterpiece. Damn the backlash!!

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS: *COUGH COUGH* What? Oh, yeah...amazing hype. Pretty solid movie. Too long. Franco and McBride rock. Probably better at home...

TROPIC THUNDER: Might be comedy of the year. I love Ben Stiller as a director (and if you try to speak ill of CABLE GUY I will fight you and win) yet ZOOLANDER left a bad taste of Blue Steele in my mouth (shut up). Bri and I saw it a few weeks back and haven't stopped thinking about it, and we would have stayed for the next show if there was one. This movie is a must see just for the Travolta/PULP FICTION like performance from Tom Cruise (Spoiler Alert! Oh wait, that was after I spoiled it...whoops). Seriously, his scenes stole what was already "hot". Welcome back Maverick....we missed you.

COMICON: Didn't go this year. Thank fucking god. Stayed home and, thanks to the ole' Information Superhighway, I got to see pretty much all the footage out there (TRON 2!!! FRIDAY REDUX!!! WOLVERINE!!!! THE SPIRIT!-er...maybe not that. Ouch) and got all the scoops as if i was in Hall H with all the screaming TWLIGHTERS. Next year Ill be back, but so glad I missed it this year. Didn't need to get the "Nerd Flu" again.

NIGHTMARE 3/FRIGHT NIGHT Double Feature: A few weeks back, Diablo Cody got to program a week's worth of films at the New Beverly, and the highlight, at least for me, was the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS & FRIGHT NIGHT double bill. I loved both films as a kid, absolutely adored every bloody frame of each, and was psyched to jump in the Delorean and go back in timmme.
Fuck off, you got the reference, even if it was slight to the topic.
...So Green, Miller, Collins, the Schifrins, Spooky and a few other friends met up for the film festivities, and lo and behold, both Frank Darabont AND Chuck Russell showed up, along with Tom Holland, also making a rare appearance. Darabont sat somewhat in front of us, and we were all jazzed to take another stroll down Elm Street, you could feel it in the theater. People were pumped. When the lights dimmed, in true New Bev fashion, a great selection of old trailers popped up...including one of my all-time slam dunk guilty pleasures, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE!!!

Pretty amazing huh? When that gem came on, the crowd roared with laughter, and it was funny watching the master of the macabre actually trying to convince us that he was "gonna scare the hell out of us" with M.O., looking right into the camera as the Green Eyes of the truck glowed behind him. As the trailer ended, sitting behind one of the few filmmakers who actually DOES King right (SHAWSHANK,GREEN MILE, THE MIST), i spontaneously shouted out:
"Top THAT Darabont!"
People roared, reacting in mock-shock, "Oh snap!!!". Even Frank turned around and laughed. Pretty obvious I was kidding...right? Thank god he got the joke, or it would have been a LOOONG night.

NIGHTMARE 3 was wicked fun, but I gotta admit, it showed some cracks. There's some juicy ham 'n cheese moments ("It's a Door!") and begins the downward evolution of Freddy from slasher to jokester, but it's still one of the highlight films in the Freddy series, and its much more clever than it deserves to be. But it also fell prey to the New Bev crowd, who can be salacious when it comes to cheesy moments; like a Greek Chorus looking for a moment to make that shouted out one-liner MST3K-style that brings the house down...I know I know, pot calling the kettle black, but NIGHTMARE 3 had enough moments to fan those flames. In the Q&A afterwards, even Chuck and Frank had a hoot of a time ripping the film a new one, so it was in good spirits that everyone was laughing with and at the film at times. It's still a solid movie, and that veins scene still makes me sick. Damn you Darabont!!!!

FRIGHT NIGHT, however, got such an amazing response. The film is dated (watch out for those sweaters!) but its still wildly effective, amusing and funny in all the right spots, tightly crafted and the performances by Chris Sarandon, Roddy Macdowell, William Ragsdale and Stephen ("Evil Ed") Geoffreys still work like a charm. Even that dude who looks like james Woods is charming and dangerous. Its a wild ride of a movie, and unlike NIGHTMARE 3, there was hardly a comment from the peanut gallery. You could tell Tom was thrilled it got a great response from the crowd, who stayed past midnight to hear Holland, a childhood hero of mine, talk about the film with the love and reverence of a first child. it really warped me back to the first 5 or 6 times i watched it on HBO and VHS, and how it was flawless in my eyes. Still today, its one of the few 80's horror films that grabs you by the throat, but done with style and a smile....and the J. Giles Band song RAWKS.

...The night was so memorable that after a shitty Saturday, I actually went to go see the midnight film there (and my grandma's favorite film, no shit) JUST ONE OF THE GUYS. Love that film, and yeah, "She's got tits" (probably my first introduction to the wonderment of Skin Pillows...ah, the mammories...Damn you Troma!!!) and I guess I wanted to chase that nostalgia dragon, so there I was, midnight on Beverly Blvd, and noone from the normal 'FC" crew is there...its just me, kinda feeling like a creep. It wasn;t packed, but it wasn't the night before where the theater was practically Standing Room Only. What, no love for Joyce Hyser?? As the movie played out and Buddy showed his sister(brother?) Terry how to scratch a beanbag, for some reason I was spectacularly bored. I dont know why, but something was just off, the crowd just didnt have the same vibe, and I still cant put a finger on what it was. After about an hour, I left, just not into watching the film there, it just wasn't the same and I sudenly felt old. Still got a cool button, though.

STEELY DAN (!?): When our good friend Christel Adventure was coming out to (he)L.A. to visit, she told us "Do you like Steely Dan??" Now, I think of myself as an appreciator of the many different genres of music, but if you asked me about Steely Dan, I probably would have said "Who's he?" Sad, I know. Once i heard which songs were in their discography though, then I knew their songs, like "OH!!! THAT STEELY DAN!!!" So Christel actually bought tickets for us to go, and hell, who am I to pass up this opportunity? Since Bri couldnt go, Christel and I headed down to Anaheim, and you know what? What a GREAT show!! it was 2+ hours of pure jazz rock, and i was swept up by it. I honestly wouldn't have predicted how much fun I had, nor admitted it like I am here. Sure the music was a generation behind me, but you cannot deny the staying power of the songs like "Reelin In The Years" and 'Do it Again". Donald Fagen, one half of the masterminding behind the Dan (and, according to Miss Adventure, supposedly a HUGE perv) was in full effect, rocking out with the best of 'em. Consider me a SD convert....but right after the show I had to listen to LAMB OF GOD'S "Ashes in the Wake" front to back, some random DOKKEN & Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party" about 4 times just to keep my hardcore roots in check. Thanks so much Christel, you rock! Onto the next Adventure!!!

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: Fuck me, I got sucked into it. I never thought it would be possible, but I actually looked forward to it at night. Its one thing to watch Joe & Jane Everyperson to step up to the mic like in IDOL, but its another to watch these artists put together dance moves and execute them with amazing grace, style and sheer passion. Plus, we loved to hate that Mary Murphy judge chick and her 'Hot Tamale Train" malarkey. Will someone get that bitch a cock to stuff that big mouth with? Sheesh...Regardless, it was an addicting show that at least held us over till the dramatic shows come back in the fall (I needs my Vic Mackey & Dharma Initiative). Here is one clip that gave me gooseflesh:

Why do I want to watch STEP UP 2 now, besides navel-gaze (which I can just get from the box)?
By the way, Twitch should have won. UPSET!!!

Ok, let me pull my balls out of my ass and get back to more, um...masculine topics-

ohmagowdohmagowdohmagowd, did I mention we just got SQUARE PEGS on DVD? Fabulousss!

On that same tip....Last Saturday Bri and I went to an 80's prom, and it was like, totally killer. Our good friends BT4 and his brother Bear, along with some of the Galactica Orchestra (like Boingo master Steve Bartek & Paul Cartwright, who is an AMAZING of the most passionate people ive ever seen on stage), were playing at The Mint as part of this faux-80's prom night, and we both agreed we had to rock that shit. We always wanted to do a prom, and plus, at our wedding we never really got a chance to have our "first dance", and this felt like the perfect time to get it, goddammit. So we actually pulled out our Wedding garb, unleashed the Aqua Net, ray-bans and white frilly gloves and together CONQUERED that bitch. Funny how we drove over there looking like some LESS THAN ZERO rejects as Jack-FM is playing "Walking In LA" by Missing Persons...and we pull up in a Prius. Like...timewarp!! Some people went like, totally "all out" like us, some didn't (lame), but it was actually a real to go and glad we went (and went all out in our Totally Excellent costumes).

Some decent bands played, BT4 and friends rocked, even playing "Magic Song" by David Bowie from LAYBYRINTH, which was a nice touch. We were even nominated as Prom King and Queen! Radical!! Yet, when it came time for the contest, we we like, so bummed that we didn't get this drunk bitch next to Bri had like, ALL her babe friends there, who were like, soo lame and got her to win since they were the loudest. Then when 'Chad Worthington" (my pseudonym for the evening) was in the line and got some mad applause, the dude next to us, who WAS IN ONE OF THE BANDS playing that night, had his fans we were like, totally robbed. Bogus. But in the end, we got our "first dance" and some amazing pictures to boot. Like, totally historic to the max.

...Its just a few days from my second UK excursion, and Im nervous and excited in the same beat. Last year Green and I were so blissfully drunk on the whole experience at FrightFest, the film festival where WRONG TURN 2 had it's world premiere, that we promised to come back the next year, and this time, we'll bring something we created just for the fest and our new friends there, the 1000+ hardcore horror attendees that make the festival the blood-soaked extended holiday.

By george, we were men of our word.

So over the last few months, we brainstormed some ideas of what to do, came up with something we HOPE everyone will find mildly amusing, and over the past few weeks we've been juggling all the different things going on in our lives AND putting this special secret double-probation project together, which has been a bit maddening, but so much fucking fun, let me tell you. With the tiny cast and crew that made it all happen in a very short amount of time, resources and with cash vapors, I'm so pleasently surprised we made it happen, I couldnt thank everyone involved enough for making a tiny dream of mine come'll get it when you see it.

Frankly, Im jazzed to hit the British shores again for another weekend of fun, fright flicks, friends & "face-rapes". While I dont have that pressure of having a film there this year and get to enjoy the experience of just being a fan amongst fans more, there's also gonna be a slight hint of nervous excitement for what we're bringing this year. I just pray we dont get boo'd and have fish wrapped in newspaper thrown at us. Plus I hate leaving Bri for so long, and while I'll be sitting in the theater for 12-14 hours a day, Ill be missing her at my side. Then again, Im saving Bri from enduring THE STRANGERS again, so maybe Im doing her a favor. Really hoping to go back again together when we can actually look around more than the walking commute from the hotel to the theater. I love it in the UK.

I just hope we have enough gas to get there, and plenty of music to listen to on the way. I think Green made a few killer mix-tapes for when we aren't jibber jabbering away on various topics. Im so glad Im not doing the trip alone this year; sometimes travelling can be easier solo, but damn if it aint lonely, and when you ipod runs out of spark and you've read through all your mags, books and even the in-flight reading, its nice to talk to someone who isn't a Single Serving Friend (Thanks Jack).

So to my British family, save me a seat and see you at the movies! I can't wait to be back for more FrightFest! Ill try to blog as much as I can...actually just so i can remember what the hell just happened. Last year was such a glorious blur that Im so glad I wrote everything down!

Oh, one last thing....thought I would share this with you guys (till someone tells me to take it down). I love mashing music to cinema visuals. Theres just such a thrill when you watch a movie and the right song comes up, or when you place a new song in a scene and it gives the moment new relevance, new life. I've been doing it since I was 11 when i figured out how to edit with 2 VCR's put togehter, so I used to make "remixes" of my favorite horror and action scenes set to new music; for example, putting Pantera's "Fucking Hostile" set to the scene in LETHAL WEAPON 2 when Mad Mel pulls the house from it's stilts...classic. I got off on that shit like huffing paint thinner, just with less brains cells destroyed. Or putting The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky" over the scene in HARWARE when Dylan McDermott trips balls and dies from the Robot's actually worked! So, even thought it might be considered Tarantino-like or Scorcese-esque to fuse music and visuals like that, Ive always loved it. In prep for one of my new projects, I heard a particular song one day and INSTANTLY it fit like a glove into a scene from this one movie Im praying happens. When I sent the music track to Luke, he was like "meh", not fully convinced that the song would work in an complex and highly-stylized action piece, whereas I'm using the song as if it was hardcore choreography, making the scene almost into a musical (shades of SYTYCD?). So I made a little video that I feel shows the power of the song when put to the right moments using one of my favorite scenes in recent memory, just augmented a bit to heighten the audio, just like the good ole days of the dual VCRs. Nothing special, but after I made that first pass in the edit, I got goosebumps when the beat and the shot hit that right moment. There's no bigger high than that, seeing the creative juices at work. I wish I could post something else up here that shows that kind of fun I have mashing clips together, but it might be too early (once things get going I will, promise) So, if you see a scene in a future movie of mine (crossing fingaz) with this song in it, here is the genesis of that inspirado:

So UK, lock up your daughters, grandmothers & impressionable youths, here we come!

Staying Scary,