Saturday, November 25, 2006

Other places you can find us

A few months ago, my good friend at EI Cinema, Mike Raso, approached Amy and I to contribute to the suppliamental section to the anniversary DVD of John Russo's Santa Claws. We managed to run down Bill Hinzman, another friend, who appears in the movie and did the movie's cinematography. We interviewed him, I whipped up some liner notes and additional interview questions for Debbie Rochon and sent the raw footage in.

The DVD finally hit the shelves in September. EI sent me some copies, which I promptly misplaced during the Genghis Con hoopla. Debbie emailed me to compliment me on the liner notes, though, particularly in my restraint as I refrained from ridiculing the movie in the slightest. Santa Claws is a fun little slasher that opens itself up to a lot of cheap shots. I felt it was my duty to mention Russo's missteps with Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition and Children of the Dead, but they aren't slams. It wouldn't be fair to beat up on the movie you were hired to introduce. It was the first "film scholar" duties I was hired to do since the commentary for SRS's DVD of Campfire Tales.


In October, a brand new edition of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre hit the stores in a snazzy gold tin keep case. It boasts a number of extras including a new documentary, Flesh Wounds: Seven Stories of the Saw, directed and edited by Mike Felsher of Red Shirt Productions. I had forgotten that he'd shot a good deal of footage at our first Genghis Con, PA show, when Gunnar Hansen and Ed Neal were our headliners. He also interviewed me about Chain Saw a month later at Monstermania in New Jersey.


A large amount of this interview actually wound up in the documentary, along with interviews with the extremely wonderful Ken Kish of Cinema Wasteland. I was shocked at how much Mike used, actually. I was also shocked at how self-deprecating I was during the piece, but oh well. Sometimes, that's me.


Even though I've been in the game as long as I have, it's always a surprise to see the things that I've contributed to or wind up involved with, even in small ways. I recently wound up as the publicist for the exemplary Severin-Films due to the recommendations from Alex and Ian at Heretic Films and Ed Samuelson from DVD Maniacs. Apparently, publicity is not something I suck at. But it was still nice to learn that people I work and with for have a high opinion of me.


I'm hoping that the work for EI turns into more work next year. Quite honestly, stuff like the job I did for Santa Claws and Campfire Tales were just fun. I'd like to do more. But, in the meantime, I'm content to kill myself over our own stuff. Speaking of such things, look for Blood Bath: Blood Wrestling Vol. 1 to be available in January. We're taking pre-orders now. We'll also be beefing up the official Happy Cloud site in the coming months and starting two new and exciting projects (as I've already mentioned). So maybe I shouldn't be so quick to wish for more work. I'm already busy with more than I can handle. If the Film Gods are truly benevolent, they'll let all this effort translate into money...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Robert Altman and the GOP Majority: Rest in Piece

I’m surprised that no one has commented on Robert Altman’s death. Maybe it hasn’t resonated yet. Maybe a lot of you thought he’d already died just after “Gosford Park”. I always had a fascination with Altman, but never really especially enjoyed his movies. I don’t particularly like any of his films, though I do respect them. I think he revolutionized dramatic presentation and know he was an actor’s director. He just wasn’t much of an audience’s director. I do think that American filmmaking will suffer from his loss. Like him or hate him, there was no one else like him.

* * *

I've been meaning to mention the best thing about the last elections: all the voters were so adamant about sending the Republican incumbents a message that they had forgotten to get hysterical about the Democrats sneaking into their houses in the middle of the night and revoking the Second Amendment as they slept, taking their guns away. When Kerry was running, that’s all I heard from the galloping galoots in my little rural paradise. “If the Democrats gain power, they’ll take all your guns away. You won’t be allowed to hunt no more! Or protect your family!” Protect them from whom, I’m not really sure. If a rampaging maniac wants to trek the three miles into the country to reach my house and kill me, he’s earned the right to try.


But this time around, most people were more concerned with getting rid of the current crop of GOP warmongers. But now that the dancing has died down in the streets, the fear is starting to creep in. I saw a little sign—actually a big sign—taped in the back window of a large mom-mobile, lettered in hysteria and blocking the driver’s vision, screaming that PA’s Governor, Ed Rendell, is “going to take your guns away”. And must be stopped. Even though he was just re-elected.


Now I don’t follow politics quite that closely, but I have never heard Rendell make any rumblings about gun control in the slightest. He’s a hunter, for one thing. And he’s also far more concerned with making slot machine gambling legal in the state. And figuring out how to lower property taxes without allowing anyone to really benefit from this lowering. Those are his two main concerns—you might even say, his only concerns.


So to all the hysterical gun-toting, meat-eating folks out there (and I consider myself to be both), *ahem*: No one is going to take your guns! For one thing, most of you own multiple guns. What happens if Ed Rendell, or Al Gore, or whoever, shows up at your door asking for them? You’re going to pull a gun on him. They all know this. Your guns are safe.


So shut the fuck up and go hug your kids.


* * *


Personally, I’m happy that the Democrats took power. I really am. Now I’m only terrified that over the next two years, George Bush will somehow declare himself Caesar and never go away. Rather than my former terror that the U.S. will be simply blotted off the face of the map by our own hands. Or that intellectuals will be rounded up, sodomized and shot (no, wait, that could very well still happen).


Now, while I’m happy that the Republicans got their asses handed to them, I’m not so na├»ve to think that anything is actually going to change. I understand how the world works. Governments of any nation attract only the corrupt and ineffectual. No one sane or with any integrity would want the job!


However, I do understand psychology. So while I don’t think change will happen, I am convinced that change will actually happen. Or, rather, that people will believe that something has changed. The economy will recover because people will think that, with the regime change, the economy has recovered. Even if gas prices stay where they are, so long as they don’t spike another dollar, people will be content. And they’ll start to relax and begin to deficit spend again. And thus, the economy will recover.


With the Democrats in power, people will think that the war will come to an end, despite all evidence to the contrary. So when Bush does leave office in 2008, the war will inevitably end and the American people will attribute this end to the change in power. Even though nothing really changed.


And I’m desperately hoping for this perception. I need the American people to believe that change is occurring.


Because I have movies to sell. They don’t have stars or big budgets or media tie-ins. And I need people to start risking their money on movies they’ve never heard of, just like they did a decade ago, when I didn’t have movies to sell. So I need movie fans to relax and start spending money they don’t have. I want a little chunk of wonderful Capitalism.


I’m not asking the entire country to sacrifice baby formula or insulin for copies of The Resurrection Game, but if they could go without a pack of cigarettes for a single day… Yes, I realize that doing without insulin might be more realistic…


Anyway, isn’t that the spirit of Capitalism? The American Dream? That if you work your ass off, you can be rich and famous and tax exempt? Puppies and blow jobs for everyone? Isn’t that what it breaks down to in Econ 101?

Or did I make that last part up?

Brief updates

There's a whole slew of updates over at the Happy Cloud Pictures blog. That should answer all the nagging questions that four of you have been asking.

Been meaning to update this for some time but either couldn't get around to it, couldn't slog my way through the rest of the work fast enough or, to be honest, just didn't have the energy. I'm a strict believer in only blogging when I have something to say. As strange as it may seem, there are days when I just don't have anything to say.

But, I will now perservere:

After a few crazed weeks of trying to put the new issue of Sirens of Cinema to bed and editing Blood Bath: Blood Wrestling Vol. 1 (see below), we managed to fit two more shows into the year. The first, It Came From Lake Michigan, granted us the opportunity to catch up with friends Sofiya Smirnova, Brinke Stevens, Michael Berryman and Debbie Rochon, and allowed us to meet a whole slew of new cool people like Elske McCain, the musician Mars, the awesome Eddie Deezen, a cool collective of Wisconsin filmmakers and the guys behind the upcoming Hot Rod Zombies.

While the show itself left a bit to be desired, this could have more to do with the fact that nobody seems to live in Racine, Wisconsin. To prove this theory, I went for a walk in search of any kind of food and passed one person on the street. My walk took place at one pm on Saturday afternoon. The only people in the Quiznos (the only open restaraunt I stumbled upon) were myself and the two people behind the counter. It was nice to come home that weekend.

The next week, we were supposed to head out to Tampa for a show I won't mention here. No point in running it down. Amy had been helping promote this convention in its various forms for about three years. When it finally came to it, the inexperienced promoter hadn't been able to raise the money to bring us down, but didn't let us know about his dilemma until the Wednesday before we were supposed to leave. Annoyed, but having no choice, we elected to stay home and take a road trip to Cleveland to see A Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D.

I was a lot more pissed off than Amy (who was only a little bummed that she was missing spending her birthday in the warmth of Florida and, more specifically, the hotel pool), as it turns out, the show barely attracted thirty people in three days. Again, I was more annoyed than Amy was at this promoter, I don't wish those kinds of numbers on anyone. It is my sincere hope that this show didn't bankrupt the poor, misguided guy.

Finally, this past weekend, we were guests at the first Hotel Horror Convention in Warren, Ohio, held at the same odd little Comfort Inn that Dark X-Mas had been held last year. The show did fairly well for a first-year, thanks to the dilligence of promoters AJ, Josh Maldonado and Lynn Mars (of Doorway Productions). And it was nice to finish out the year with Brinke, Tim Gross and our new favorite person, Dee Wallace. I even managed to line up some new content for next year's run of Sirens, so a good weekend all around. Sadly, I was unable to drink as much as I usually enjoy to at these things. My Irish side felt a bit cheated.

But with the year coming to a close, it'll be nice to have a few weekends to ourselves at home. Of course, those weekends will be filled with the cringe-inducing combination of filming and Christmas shopping. And I'll be facing the wonderful inevitability of aging again in January.

But there are some cool things that might possibly pay off over the next few months and, provided I'm not standing on a large white 'X', said things might actually happen. So I remain optimistic. Or, at least, too exhausted to worry about it.