Friday, March 09, 2007

Complications in writing reviews

While working on a new review for Patrick Desmond's The Absence of Light, a project I've had the pleasure viewing multiple incarnations of, I've come to the unshakable conclusion that my days of reviewing indie movies may be numbered. I've professed in the past that I'm done reviewing anything, period, only to allow myself to be sucked back in a few days later. But after ten years in the industry, I just may be too entrenched to churn out an unbiased review.

I had no hand in the production of Absence, though, as I said, I've seen multiple versions as Desmond fine-tuned it over the past two years or so. Since I was first asked to check it out, Patrick and I have become close friends. His lead actor and sound engineer, Rich Conant, has become a good friend as well, and did me the favor of serving as post sound engineer on both Abattoir and the new version of The Resurrection Game (more on that in a minute). Other members of the cast of this film (both the stars and the lesser-knowns) have become acquaintances and con friends (actor Eric Thornsberry has been jokingly referred to as my "Twin" by more than one passerby). Patrick and I continue to discuss the possibilty of our working together on a project in the future.

And, of course, this isn't the first time this has happened. Nor will it be the last. JimmyO Burril and family have become close friends of ours since he first sent me Chainsaw Sally to review. He and Sally star April appear in Abattoir and we've stayed at their house on a couple of occassions.

The entire Project: Valkyrie crew have become members of the Happy Cloud family and we, in turn, have become members of the Hero Headquarters family. We've taken part in Piranha Pictures' Fifth City (and Eric Thornett also appears in Abattoir).

There's talk of our joining in on an upcoming Low Budget Pictures project. We'll likely work with Henrique Couto on an upcoming Freak Production. We have hopes of joining forces with the Wicked Pixel team as well. It's just what happens when you travel the con circuit and like and respect each others' work.

So as our circle of friends widens, the number of people I am not associated with in some small way grows smaller and smaller. Even when I do write reviews for movies I haven't been associated with, I still get dinged by fanboys on message boards - "Of course, this movie gets it's good reviews and quotes from friends", etc. To make matters worse, I don't generally write reviews for movies I don't like, so I'm constantly accused of associate nepotism. It's an ongoing headache. So this current review of The Absence of Light might be one of the last ones I do. I say this now, of course, knowing full well I'll get suckered again in the future. But my intentions, right now, are pure.

With all this in mind, I was also going to review Skin Crawl, which is coming out on DVD at the end of the month through POP Cinema, but I will probably have to pass these duties off as well. Skin Crawl is the feature debut of Justin Wingenfeld, who is quite possibly my oldest friend in the industry. We met when I was a freshman in college and we've shot movies together, performed on stage together, hung out, got drunk, watched endless amounts of movies together. I was at his wedding, but I have yet to meet his brand new baby daughter (which is what comes from living in different states). I also put him in touch with the folks who run Pop Cinema, way back when, back in my Cinefantastique/Femme Fatales days. So my excitement over Skin Crawl's pending release has as much to do with fraternal feelings of affection and love as it does the fact that it's really an amazing, intelligent, disturbing and multi-layered horror movie.

To make things worse for my ethics, Skin Crawl also stars one of my other very best friends, Debbie Rochon, in one of her very best performances. And she has to eat bugs, so how's that for devotion to craft? And I have a vast number of friends within Pop Cinema as well - folks I've known for more than a decade. When you consider that I also wrote the questions for the interview portion of the DVD extras, there goes any hope of being unbiased.

So, I'll console myself by saying that everyone reading this should make it a point to rent or buy Skin Crawl when it's released on March 27 (the same day that the new Fangoria Magazine hits the stands, containing an article on Debbie in which she talks about Skin Crawl - how's that for circular publicity?). There are two articles on this film in Sirens of Cinema #7, due out next week - one by Debbie, the other on co-star Julian Wells - so I at least feel like I've done something to get the word out.

What makes all of this - all the above and even things I haven't mentioned - so amusing is every now and then I'll run across someone on the web who just hates me. Doesn't want anything to do with me. Will go out of their way to avoid me at shows, events, etc. And will say, publically on message boards or whatever, that they not only want nothing to do with me, but won't have anything to do with anything/anyone I'm involved with.

And like I mentioned above, this is a very small community. The number of folks working in the business that I don't know or at least know of is a very small number indeed.

So good luck avoiding me, friends. I'm just one of those guys...

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I mentioned a new version of The Resurrection Game... for reasons I can't yet talk about (though I'm positively dying to), we are in the process of retooling and repolishing this movie for what will be - and this, I swear by the paint-flaking dinosaur outside the Art Institute of Pittsburgh on the Boulevard of the Allies! - the last time. For this final version, I am foleying new sound effects, having the sound tracks remastered and - very exciting - have commissioned a brand new score by none-other than Scooter McCrae. While much of Paul McCollough's original score will remain, Scooter has taken it upon himself to create several new tracks to reinforce the noir tone of the film - saxophones, bass cellos, all the stuff Bernard Hermann was made of.

With all of this will come two new audio commentaries, possibly a new documentary to commemorate the movie's 10 year anniversary, and new motion menus will accompany the new DVD (these hosted by non-other than the one and only Necro-Phil).

I'll be announcing the where's and why's of this new DVD very soon. As soon as I can, anyway.

In the meantime, drop me a line and try to wheedle more out of me. It'll be fun.

* * *

Abattoir, incidentally, will be screening at Cinema Wasteland on March 31 at 7:00. This is very cool news for us. Our brand new baby playing at our all-time favorite show. Don't miss it!

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