Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007!

While there were a few setbacks that came with 2007, it was infinitely better than 2006, and I feel fondness towards this dying year. 2007, for the most part, was good to us, though it kicked the asses of a lot of our friends and family. Because, of course, that's what years do. We've forced our lunar cycle into this arbitrary box of time-telling--our year ends tonight, China's ends later in Febrary, and the Aztecs STILL thumb their noses at us--so the year acts appropriately as it trudges along through the 365. It slaps us with tidings good and bad and never in equal amounts. (Good luck, after all, arrives at the door alone, with a small gift and threadbare clothes; bad luck comes with overfilling sacks and has brought all his drunken relatives.)

What 2007 is leaving me with, however, is a sense of calm and inexplicable optimism towards 2008. I can't explain it--no more than I could explain the optimism I felt at the close 2006 (though perhaps that was more desperation than anything else)--but I have high hopes for 2008. And I wish everyone the very best of all possible fortune for the coming year.

So tonight, let us all eat, drink and be merry (or be Carl, what do I care?). Or rest, or cower or hold your breath until the damned ball drops. In other words: Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sirens of Cinema and a free gift!

Let's see, I've pimped the new Fangoria appearance and our blatantly-positive Feast of Flesh reviews, what's next?

Oh, yes: Sirens of Cinema 10! With our swanky wrap-around cover by Holly Golightly (School Bites) celebrating 30 years of Star Wars! Also boasting interviews with Angela Bettis (May) and Kristen Kerr (Flight of the Living Dead), Julie and Lizzy Strain (Black Dahlia Movie), Debbie Rochon on The Colour from the Dark - and oodles more! Plus, the word "oodles"!

AND, we have a special treat for new subscribers: for a VERY limited time, if you pick up a subscription to Sirens of Cinema (for a ridiculously low price, click HERE) you'll receive a free DVD copy of The Splatter Movie Companion. This special DVD was created by Amy and I strictly for Sirens readers and boasts footage that cannot be seen anywhere else. (When the official DVD of Splatter Movie is finally released, this Companion featurette will NOT be included - this is the only way you'll get to see some of this footage, which ties directly into the Splatter Movie mythology.) Plus, a sneak-peek at one of the stories from the upcoming Brinke's Tales of Horror created by the late Joe D. Casey.

All this-- all the Leia goodness, the reviews, the articles--come for the nouns, stay for the verbs! Buy the consonants and the vowels come free (including "Y" for a limited time!)

Keep Sirens alive and subscribe. That way, you won't feel all sad and rejected when you go to Barnes and Noble only to discover that the issue is sold out! (And if it isn't sold out, do us a solid, willya, and move it down in front of lesser magazines like People or Time. Corporate bastards...) You'll get a year's worth of cool issues and eye-popping, suitable-for-framing covers (seriously... Joe Jusko? Mike Lilly?? How DO we do it?). And seriously, what else were you planning on doing with your money? Buying food? Didn't you eat yesterday?

So CLICK HERE and get your subscription and your free copy of The Splatter Movie Companion. This is a limited offer so strike while the fire is hot, or whatever that saying is. Or don't come crying to us when all of your friends have theirs and won't let you see them (seriously, guys - don't let them see it! It'll be our secret and we can giggle and text each other behind their backs!).

Only after you receive your subscription will you ever truly be happy...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Feast of Flesh reviews for fun!

The reviews for A Feast of Flesh are still coming in. The majority of them have been positive, and the negative ones have been truly negative. I've only seen one so far that was just "eh, it's okay". So what we have here, folks, is a "love it or hate it" movie. Which is fine by me.

I thought I'd post links to some of the positive ones, here, just to keep the momentum going. I'd post links to the negative ones, too, but we're contractually not allowed. I don't particularly care - the joke's on the guys who hated it, ya know? They're the ones who requested the screeners and had to sit through it! - and I enjoy a good insult as much as anyone, even if I'm the recipient. But there's this mode of thinking that negative press doesn't help sales. So... okay, I'll remain eyes fixed upon the financial prize and keep the negative reviews sequestered to Google searches.

Anyway, my most recent favorite comes from Tim "Tex Massacre" Anderson over at Bloody Disgusting, who wrote that I come off like a "leprechaun with a Tommy gun".

Another favorite comes from Movies Made Me Do It, who wrote "A Feast of Flesh is a great vampire film, and this is coming from someone who normally skips over any DVD that even references another vampire flick." He seems to like all of our movies, so he holds a special place in my heart.

Speaking of people I love, Doug Waltz gave us a glowing review on Cult Cuts, but the site seems to have vanished. I'll try and get Doug to send me a transcription and post it here, because he always makes Amy and I seem like geniuses. Doug makes us happy.

Another of my favorite people, Michael Den Boer, says that, with AFOF, "Director Mike Watt avoids the sophomore curse" and goes on to say other nice things about the movie over at his wonderful site 10,000 Bullets.

David Carter at Film Fanaddict liked Amy a whole lot: "Amy Lynn Best does a commendable job as the film’s lead and displays a broader range of emotions that one typically sees in a low budget horror film."

Eros-LA gave A Feast of Flesh "Six chainsaws, five vibrators, and a high-five."

Oddly enough, the ones who seemed to enjoy it the most were the kind fellows at Mr. Skin. I don't have an account so I'm not sure how the rest of the review plays out, but it starts off enouraging HERE.

AND... in other news, Fangoria #269 just hit the stands and I finally got to hold a copy in my hands... and I've been leaving the other copies on the shelves open to our page. I'm thrilled beyond words. If you haven't bought your copy yet, you really don't love me, do you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Horrible Allegation

After battling the cold and spending over three grand on a new furnace, Amy and I received a very disturbing email on Saturday. The message was sent by a former acquaintance who is not a friend of ours any longer (in fact, the email stated "We're not friends and I don't wish to be, however I can't allow this to happen to anyone I know"). The Good Samaritan told us to check out our Feast of Flesh page on the IMDb and told us that we should "do something about it".

I was sitting with my back to the door and a cyber terrorist came up behind me and shot me in the back of the head. Someone had taken it upon themselves to steal the review from—which is a legitimately negative (and scathing) review—and add a single line, hidden several paragraphs down, accusing me of being a "true life" criminal, guilty, it alleges of a particularly heinous crime. It was all of six words, but it was the most damaging accusation I've ever received and it was—I hope it goes without saying—completely untrue.

I've been accused of being a lot of things, many of them justifiable and fairly accurate. I'm belligerent, egotistical, sarcastic, insulting, unnecessarily cruel to family and friends—I'm not proud of (most of) these things. But I can't deny they're true. But I'm not a criminal of any sort and I'm not a danger to anyone. And I didn't appreciate being accused of such. At all.

(This blog is going to be vague for a variety of necessary reasons. For one thing, I don't want to come right out and state the accusation because one of the things we killed ourselves to achieve over the past few days was getting that accusation expunged from the IMDb in the first place. I'd rather not have this allegation anywhere on the web. So let your imagination roam—what could possibly be the one accusation that would send me over the edge? Secondly, I'm not going to name names here, either. The party responsible would like to have the attention, even the negative attention, and I'm not going to give him the satisfaction.)

The post was signed with the title of a movie I recognized. So as to not cause the producers of this film undue harm, I'm going to make up a title, let's say Hellnukkah (don't steal it—that one's ours!). I was familiar with the project and knew a couple of folks involved with the film, including one who I'd never met but had caused a lot of problems for a very good friend of ours. We'll call this problematic person "Asshole 1". Because of recent horror stories about "Asshole 1" and our good friend (we'll call her "Gloria" for no particular reason), I was convinced very quickly that "Asshole 1" was the one who plagiarized the CHUD review and added the Horrible Allegation. I know a little bit about psychology and came to the conclusion that "Asshole 1" did this to a) prove to "Gloria" that she couldn't get away with leaving him and hurt her obliquely; b) attack me for being a friend of "Gloria"'s. The fact that he buried the Horrible Allegation in the body of the review proved that he wasn't very confrontational and the only people who would see it would be people searching for it (like, say, the FBI). Using a previously-published negative review, he was hoping I'd go after the author. Since I was familiar with the review in its original form, and since it didn't originally have the Horrible Allegation, I contacted CHUD and told them about the plagiarism, while, at the same time, sent half a dozen complaints to the IMDb to have them remove the comment.

Now, I actually had no problem with the review being on the page. I don't mind negative reviews at all, even scathing ones. There are a couple of funny lines in the piece, it's well thought-out and he backs up his opinions, rather than just spewing insults. He didn't like the movie; that's his right and it's fine. I just wanted the Horrible Allegation removed.

I was sinking deeper and deeper into a rage, however, and wanted to enact vengeance on Asshole 1. Violent vengeance. But I couldn't prove, yet, that Asshole 1 was indeed the author of the post. The breadcrumbs were leading to him though. Particularly signing the post with the "Hellnukkah" screen name. I attributed that mis-step to ego. Like the Zodiac Killer taunting the police and the newspapers.

When you work in any community or industry for a long enough period of time, you make enemies. Not as many as you do friends, provided you're not a complete wretch of a human being. So we have them. I have more than Amy does because, frankly… well, see above. I can be a bit of a bastard. I have people who dislike me in the publishing industry, people who dislike me because of reviews I'd written or general dealings I'd had in the past. Or they don't like me because their friends don't like me or… pick a reason. But the most "dangerous one", the ones who have been the most outspoken of my enemies, make up a very small group.

We went through the short list of people who would be most likely to pull something like this and came up with… bagel. None of the current persona-non-gratas of the Happy Cloud Clan would stoop that low. Not all of my enemies are classy, but the bulk of them would prefer to vilify me and vindicate themselves at the same time. The majority would be more apt to post "This is what he did and this is how it affected me!" And very few of them—again, as near to zero as I can calculate—would ever be this oblique. They'd want me to know what they said about me and how they felt. Because the fact of the matter is, most of my enemies used to be my friends. We're no longer friends because of a disagreement or falling out and there are more hurt feelings than there are thoughts of vengeance or ruining my life. And the same goes for how I feel about them. There are rifts that can't be mended. I'll draw your attention to the person who alerted us to this situation in the first place, the Good Samaritan. We're not friends any more and there's very little chance we ever will be. I can't think of anyone who hates me more than he does.

But even he had my back when it came to something like this.

Amy took the reins from there. She called Pop Cinema to see if anything could be done on their end. Paige Davis logged on and found a name associated with the account. A guy named Steve. A guy we know named Steve. A guy we know named Steve who lives in Pittsburgh and has been to our shows, we've been to dinner with him, we've worked with friends of his and, indeed, are friends with his friends. So my theory—my assurance—that it was "Asshole 1" went completely down the drain. And so did my rage.

Depression quickly replaced my fury. Instead of having an enemy out to destroy my life, I was now faced with the prospect of having a jokester plaguing me. The Horrible Allegation was, suddenly, a very unfunny joke at my expense. We called friends of Steve and told them that he should contact us immediately, or I was going to have his ass thrown in jail.

Again, the Horrible Allegation, particularly in this political climate, is something that could have gotten me arrested "for my own good and the good of the community" pending an investigation. Which, possibly, could mean my being thrown into general population of any number of judicial facilities until such a time as an investigation could be set underway. In which case, my good friends would be called upon to 25th Hour my ass so I didn't wind up a subplot on the OZ reunion movie.

I was expecting Steve to email us or call us with denials, and he did. And in my paranoid state, I was ready to judge any denial as a lie or a CYA, but then, midway through the email, he dropped a name that I recognized. We'll call this person "Asshole 3" because he's just not cool enough to be the next asshole on the list. Actually, I think we'll bump him down to "Asshole 11" because that's what kind of nobody he is.

"Asshole 11" is one of those people who wants attention and wants to be noticed by people he admires. But he fixates on these people early and comes out on the offensive even before he introduces himself. It's an insecurity, a social dysfunction. He wants so much to be the badass in the room, the guy who knows everything and knows how to do it better than everyone else and wants everyone to look up to him for his badassedness. The problem is, he's not much of a badass and is more of a jerk than anything else. After a very annoying first encounter with him—through the internet, never in person—I started to ignore him. There was no sense in responding to him because I'd always be met with more abuse, more insults. He didn't weigh very heavily on my thoughts as I find flame wars to be very boring, so I stopped giving in. And, after a while, I stopped hearing from him. Everyone has one of these dipshits in their lives. They don't go by their real names on the web, you only have a vague idea of who they are, and you suffer them until they find someone else to annoy.

Message boards are filled with these people.

Apparently, Steve ran afoul of "Asshole 11" on a couple of boards and the guy started using Steve's name to flame other people. For fun. To discredit any opinion Steve would have. To make trouble, etc. Because of one particular board they both frequented, one from which "Asshole 11" was banned, I found the connection between him, Steve and the Hellnukkah people. "Asshole 11" had no idea that we had any connection with "Asshole 1"; the Hellnukkah thing was just to make them look even worse. As it turns out, he'd been using Hellnukkah in addition to Steve's name to flame other people. The Hellnukkah people even posted that on their official site—that the flames were not coming from them.

The vengeance returned, but not in the religious sense. I was suddenly very tired. I called a lawyer friend of mine and asked about my options. Most people recommended that I nail the motherfucker to the legal wall. My lawyer friend replied that there isn't a lot to be gained from it, that I'd spend more on legal fees than I'd get from suing him. Libel isn't a crime in PA, it's a civil matter, and the statutes might be different in the state that "Asshole 11" calls home. My lawyer friend asked me, point blank, "What do you want to get from all of this? Revenge, or the Horrible Allegation removed?" If it's the latter, then taking "Asshole 11" to court would just shine the light back on the Horrible Allegation, and then it would never go away. The Horrible Allegation and my name would be forever linked. And that's what would ruin my life. My own actions.

At this point, holes in the ground were starting to look really comfortable. As enraged as Amy was herself, however, she helped me try and get through all of this.

I don't insult easily. I'm not quick to get offended. But this Horrible Allegation fucking hurt. And when "Asshole 11" was revealed, I wondered what the hell I'd ever done to him to deserve it. The answer was: I'd ignored him. You don't ignore a psychopath—have horror movies taught me nothing?

But here I was again, with the only course of action available to me: ignoring it.

At this point, other people started coming to my aid. JimmyO, my parents, Pop Cinema, multiple other friends and family—thank you to everyone who helped out and sent in emails and phone calls of support! Seriously, thank you one and all!—all contacted the IMDb to report the libelous Horrible Allegation. Other people too including, again, someone who does not consider me a friend any longer, someone with whom I'd had a horrible falling out where terrible things were said on both sides. They went to the IMDb and demanded that the Horrible Allegation be removed because it was Just Not True. My enemies, people I'd hurt or had hurt me, had my back.

By Six O'Clock yesterday evening, the IMDb gave in to the countless complaints and took down the entire post. The plagiarized review was gone, the Horrible Allegation was gone, even my former colleague went back and deleted the Horrible Allegation from her quoted demand so that it could be expunged from all records. The Hellnukkah account had been deleted, along with any connection to Steve—whether by the IMDb or by "Asshole 11", I have no idea.

The only thing not gone at this point is the depression and the rage. I don't know how to box shadows. There's nothing saying that "Asshole 11" won't resurface again. Or that Assholes 12 through Infinity won't come with him or follow his lead. The Internet is an endless root knot of computers and there are Assholes all over the world, hiding behind their screen names and Second Life identities. They delight in being the bullies in the digital world because they're powerless in their analog life. There is truly nothing that can be done. I have to remain diligent, alert, and rely on my friends to keep me safe. And marvel that the people I deemed against me really aren't.

There are a lot of Assholes out there. But I have to remember what I learned through all of this: that there are a lot of Really Good People, too. Even if we don't like each other.

And to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Freezing cold and good FANGO news

Our furnace gave out over the weekend, just in time for PA's first cold snap. We're currently bundled up inside the house surrounded by space heaters (thanks to my co-worker, Jessica, for donating her office one for our current cause). No idea how much a replacement will cost or, really, how the fuck we'll pay for it, but, what the hell, right? That's what makes life fun! Anyway, one bit of news before my nethers snap off: pick up a copy of Fangoria 269 in stores now.

Why? Happy Cloud Pictures is featured in the "Notes from the Underground" section. Mr. Gingold and Mr. Timpone invited me to chronicle our ten years a few months back and now here it is in all its glory (with photos by Mike Haushalter, Carolyn Oliver, Bill Homan and Jeff Lewis). Sneak preview of the cover HERE, with a lovely caption summing up the article about midway down the page. The article covers not only our recently-released-through-Bloody-Earth DVD A Feast of Flesh, but talks about our beginnings with the rarely-seen The Resurrection Game and our upcoming Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut. It's like a history lesson and a scoop all at the same time!

I have to confess that this is an abject honor for us. I know it's fashionable among the indie elite to kick Fangoria, but I've been a reader of the mag since I was a little kid—like so many others among us. My dreams have always been to both write for the publication and have one of my movies featured within. With this issue, both dreams have come true and I couldn't be happier!

If only inner warmth could translate to outer warmth…