Friday, February 29, 2008

Best Vampire Hunter of 2007... and the winner is -


Hey, I didn't know I was even nominated, which would have been an honor in and of itself! Does that mean I beat out Kate Beckensale in Underworld 2? Or did that come out in 2006? Okay, regardless, she was a vampire hunter, but still...

Anyway, you can check out the other winners of The Horror Oscars, hosted by Desert Screams Productions, HERE.

So, to you three or four people who hated me in A Feast of Flesh, I say to you "Nyah!" To the rest of you who loved me, including me, I humbly accept this award on my behalf.

* * *

It's still snowing, the mine is still drilling, my cold continues to plague me. On the plus side, I may have conquered my insomnia. At the very least, I'm attempting to sleep it off.

Tomorrow, Amy and I head to the set of George A. Romero Presents Deadtime Stories, written and produced by our friend, Jeff Monahan. I'm shooting stills and covering the production, Amy is playing a nurse in a key scene. The first part of the shoot is at Penn State, the second at Laurel Caverns. Yep, nothing like heading underground during the winter! But check out the movie HERE. It's gonna be cool!

* * *
The new issue of Sirens of Cinema is going to press this weekend. It has a beautiful cover by Daniel Horne and features interviews with Lena Headey (Sarah Connor: The Terminator Chronicles), Mary Lambert (Pet Sematery) and a special goodbye to Malia Nurmi (aka Vampira). I mention this because I want everyone who reads this to go out and buy multiple copies, subscribe twice and force complete strangers to make purchases of their own, at gunpoint if necessary.
Sales aren't down, I just want to see who will do it. I love exercising power!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Back from Chicago

Okay, I'm dying from some new, exciting cold, thanks to the multiple temperatures my body was subjected to this weekend, not to mention ongoing insomnia, so I'll make this fast.

We spent the weekend in the wonderful world of Chicago for the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, one of our favorite shows of the year (after Cinema Wasteland, of course). As usual, we got to see the airport and the hotel, but this year, we also saw a very icy parking lot and a very clean Target (we needed supplies - sandwiches, chocolate, booze, etc.).

The folks at Creation - Adam, Stephanie, Leticia - treated us like stars. Fangoria's editor, Tony Timpone (the man, the legend), brought the layout for my Rage article for me to check out, which was awesome. And we were set up across from Kane Hodder on one side and Ari Lehman and Sid Haig on the other. And we were back-to-back with composer Harry Manfriedi! So, we had great neighbors. And because Kane actually noticed this time when I hit him back (he usually punches me hello), he swore he'd never hit me again. Now instead of taps to the chest that collapse my lungs, he gives me bear hugs that compress the rest of my organs. Not sure which I prefer, actually.

I had planned a number of projects for the slow periods of the show -- interviewing people for the upcoming Resurrection Game DVD, proof-reading the new issue of Sirens of Cinema, etc -- but oddly enough, we didn't have any slow periods. Thanks to many pounds of cookies provided by our producer and sponsor, Tim Buchholz, much of my time was spent harassing people into taking freebies (you'd think they were poisoned or something? Of course, as one fan said, "This isn't a show that engenders trust!"). The rest of the time was taken up by the stampede of people who wanted to buy copies of A Feast of Flesh, take pictures with Amy and Sofiya, and snatch up our 30 copies of Splatter Movie.

Yes, for the first time in our convention career, we sold out of a title. Completely SOLD OUT of Splatter Movie by 1pm on Sunday. Most of those copies had sold even before our screening on Saturday. And the screening itself went over pretty well. We had a pretty packed house, even though you needed two sherpas and a sled dog team to find the screening room, and the two guys who decided to "Rocky Horror" the movie stayed for the entire thing, so at least they weren't bored!

We sold a number of subscriptions to Sirens as well, four of them without having to talk them into it! They wanted them because they'd read the magazine! (See? I TOLD you people read it! They don't just buy it for the free gum!)

The only drawback came at the very end of the show. A sextet of douche-waffles decided to attempt to take advantage of our and Sofiya's good graces. But they were the instruments of their own misfortune, which turned out to be very funny in the end. Still, we should have allowed Kane to hurt them.

And while I'm sure I'll forget a few names, we just wanted to say thanks to Rob, Tammy, Amber, Codger, Chris (Phreeq), Yo Joe, Johnny, Harry (sorry we were out of #4), Debbie, Mr. Skin, Marv, Chadwick and company, Ryan and Michelle, Gabby, Betsy, Sid, Ari, Kane, Megan, Ron, Cathy, Jeremy, Jen, Monique, Saint, Monet and August. And, especially, Tim B.

And Acid and my Monkey, Kory Chupacabra (and maybe I'll explain that one later).

So let's hear it for selling out of Splatter Movie! Hear that, distributors? People LOVE US!

Right... going to bed now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sleepless in Waynesburg

My insomnia continues to be my best friend, though I have been a little more successful at the shut-eye thing of late. Slowly but surely I'm remastering the fine art of sleeping.

Of course, I can't just blame the stress or my natural penchant towards spaz-ism. One of our local coal companies misrepresented itself to us and our neighbors. Instead of the single line of pipe they claimed they would lay (to vent methane from one of the mines), they have begun to drill a methane capture well on our neighbor's hill. Which is directly in between two of their biggest pastures. Being sheep farmers, they need the pastures to feed their sheep. Without grazing land, sheep tend to do stupid things like starve and die. To make matters even more fun, the drilling goes on 24 hours a day, the sound travels over four miles to our land, keeping me awake even more. But, since I'm usually up anyway, the noise gives me the opportunity to be angry as well as exhausted.

When our neighbors complained to workers that this is not what was agreed upon, the workers replied, "We'll do what we want when we want."

So I'll be taking this up with the news--TV and paper. And internet. And, possibly, from my roof, shouting at God.

It's a character flaw of mine. I hate oppression. Not a big fan of corporate lying, either. Makes me testy.

With all this in mind, I've been trying to focus on getting things prepared for the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors in Chicago this weekend. It's always a great show for us, economically and funwise. And this year, we're listed as official guests. And Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut is premiering (in front of an unbiased audience, as terrifying as that may be) at 4:00 pm on Saturday. Which is a great time slot. The proof of my claims can be found HERE.

In other Fangoria news, my third-ever article for them runs in the current issue. It details my and Amy's set-visit to The Rage, where we got to hang with Robert Kurtzman and Andrew Divoff for the better part of the day, as well as get a personal tour of Precinct 13--Bob K's studio in Ohio. Seeing this piece in print gave me a special little thrill. Even though I've been writing professionally for about a decade now, I think that I've mentioned that Fangoria was always a market I'd dreamed of "cracking". And now I have, three issues in a row. So now I await Satan's collection on the contract I must have signed on one of my insomnia-enduced episodes.

Enough babbling - if you're going to be in Chicago this weekend, and, really, I see no reason why you shouldn't be, swing by the Happy Cloud table and say hi, pick up a copy of the pre-release of Splatter Movie, buy a subscription to Sirens of Cinema and say nice things about my hair.

Good night, good luck and good news tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008



Every time I finish a movie and announce it's completion, I feel like I'm lying. It feels utterly strange to think of a movie as "finished". Even in this case. Really, Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut needs some minor sound work, and likely needs a few tweaks to the credits. And I still need to work out a deal with the special guest end credits musicians (not Lorraine 'a Malena this time sadly, but a band completely different but still awesome to be announced later). But, ostensibly, this movie is complete.

The final piece of the puzzle was provided by Alan Rowe Kelly (writer and director of the brilliant I'll Bury You Tomorrow and the delightfully-demented The Blood Shed). Alan came aboard at the last minute to provide the voice of "Devora Simmons", the off-screen documentrix who is motivating the whole shebang. And his voice gives the movie, strangely, an even deeper edge. Alan's voice has a Barbara Walters tinge to it, so the movie now feels even, dare I say it, 'legitimate'.

A consumate professional, Alan read each line in the three-page voice over script six times, giving me plenty to choose from. Which was awesome. Less awesome was treating each line with filters and room tone to make it match the existing sound while, at the same time, removing my voice as much as possible from the tracks. And, of course, while doing that, I couldn't help but tweak shot-length, fuss over color corrections, remix certain musical stings, futz with some additional effects shots... Still, all in all, the final pass on the film only took a few hours on Friday and Sunday.

And then it was done.

To really add to the surreal "final pass", I was also transferring some old Resurrection Game behind-the-scenes footage from VHS to DVD. So parts of our first movie played while I finished up our latest one. The ten years in between felt like a dynasty. Watching old, ancient footage of us--we were all so young!--struggle with confined spaces and war-era equipment as we strived beyond logic to finish our first ridiculous epic. There were two images in particular that struck me simultaneously.

On our snazzy i-Mac, I edited the end Splatter Movie credits and found a shot of me behind our new (-ish) XL-2 DV camera. Meanwhile, on the television, there came an ancient shot of me jerry-rigging a rented 16mm Arri-BL with duct tape and a trim of black leader to keep the film magazine and focus rings from falling off. And I'm talking about shooting the assembled movie off a flatbed linear editing machine with my own ancient VHS camcorder.

How far we've come. And yet, we still often wonder what the hell we're doing and why. Just as we did ten years ago.

Right now, we're making advanced Splatter Movie DVDs to send out to prospective distributors. At the same time, I'm readying more VHS footage (over 60 hours of the crap!) for Jeff Waltrowski as he labors over the new Resurrection Game documentary for the upcoming 10th Anniversary DVD. For this doc, I'm running down our stars for new interviews. Francis Veltri I caught the day before he and his entire family moved to Indiana. Ray Yeo is in the process of readying his own house for sale before moving his family to a new school district. Kristen Pfeifer, at last message, lives in Oregon with her new husband. Dave Shremp passed away of a brain tumor three weeks after principal photography was completed. A special memorial is also planned for the DVD in his honor.

And I was continually struck with how far we've come as artists (or "artists", whichever) in ten years. We may not be rich or world famous, but we achieved a great deal of what we set out to do. And that's enough to get me to sleep at night.

Or would be, if this damned insomia would go away... but that's another blog.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Brief notes before unconsciousness

Okay, I haven't slept for more than two hours at a time in over three weeks, so I'm taking one last shot at relearning the fine art of unconsciousness in a few minutes, but I wanted to bring a few things to everyone's attention.

First, thanks to Jeff Waltrowski, Patrick Desmond and the awesome Alan Rowe Kelly, Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut is 99% complete. Alan (The Blood Shed) stepped in to play the voice of off-camera interviewer, "Devora Simmons" and did a fantastic job. I still have a few more lines to add into the mix, but we can't thank Alan for helping us out. Now go and check out his movies, I'll Bury You Tomorrow and The Blood Shed, both available from Heretic Films.

Jeff and Patrick helped me out with a couple of really startling effects shots that occur later in the film and, again, thanks so much to them both. Jeff is, of course, Splatter Movie's director of photography and Patrick shot a terrific day of Steadicam for us as well. So you should all go and check out Jeff's Project: Valkyrie from Tempe Films (Valkyrie is the best "robots vs. nazis film" since Schindler's List). And you should check out Patrick's star-studded The Absence of Light from York Entertainment.

With Splatter Movie nearing completion, the Happy Cloud clan is turning its attention back to the movie that started it all: The Resurrection Game. Celebrating its 10-year anniversary in October (the script celebrated that anniversary in 2007). We're putting together a brand new anniversary DVD and Jeff, Amy and I are working on a brand new documentary for the disc, featuring interviews with the film's stars (including Ray Yeo and Francis Veltri), menus hosted by the one and only Necro-Phil and at least two commentaries. Plus other surprises. Jeff is currently sifting through over 120 hours of behind-the-scenes video (much of it in terrible, terrible shape, unfortunately). The likelihood of deleted scenes, however, is slim for the primary reason that we shot on film and only transferred the footage we needed to DV. I'll see what I can cull from past work-print versions, however. So this stuff won't be in the best of shape, but for you loyal 2 dozen fans out there, you're in for a treat. Or, at least, an upgrade to the dreadful VHS bootlegs you've been hanging onto all of these years.

Also, you guys should head over and show some love to JimmyO and Debbie Rochon, both of whom have some medical problems that will end happily but could use some support anyway. As everyone knows, we count these two among our very best friends, so let's send them all our best karma, prayers, positive energy and bushels of money.

Yesterday, February 6, marked a number of things and, depending on your beliefs, will either mean a lot to you, or nothing at all. First, it was a New Moon, the last of Winter, which means, according to Wicca, that it's a perfect time to start new projects. Second, it was the beginning of the Chinese New Year--either The Year of the Rat or the Year of the Mouse, depending on what menu you read; whatever, it's a rodent. And for my money, the new year has always felt "newer" on the Chinese New Year. But the better news is for people born between February 1972 and February 1973 (like me). This Year of the Rat/Mouse is YOUR year. Your birth year. It's the perfect time for new ventures, new outlooks on life and good change all around. So, stay tuned for some (hopefully) awesome news for us, since 2008 will be blessed for us.

(And we're on the cusp of a new administration, getting rid of the current band of idiots--apologies to the staff of MAD Magazine. Personally, I don't care WHO gets into office, as long as they make the current guy leave.)

Finally, and more importantly, yesterday saw Amy and my 14th anniversary together. Yes, fourteen years ago yesterday, we decided to take our relationship to the next level and have been happy and healthy together ever since. We've known each other, however, for almost twenty years, now, which is pretty frightening when you think about it. So here's to US, the Nick and Nora of the indie industry (or something like that). Love you, Amy!

Right... I'm going to bed.