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Friday, April 29, 2011

RATSCLUSIVE! Pray For Dawn, new Aussie vampire movie about to start shooting! My interview with the writer and director

Howdy horrorphiles! Ratatouille here again, this time with a super exciting report! As many of you who have read my blog before know, I live in Australia, and more recently I have moved out into the country. I love this country, and I love its films, but there has been a massive gap in Australian horror for some time - Aussie Vampire films! Before I asked to do this interview, I was trying to think of a definitive Australian Vampire movie, and came up with only a very low budget cult film called Bloodlust made in 1992. NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

Well, the good news is a lot of people agree with me, also a lot of people agree that with the current "supernatural romance" trend, too many lame Vampire franchises are being created. The answer is NOT to stop making films about bloodsucking undead, that won't stop the swag of swill that continues to pump out of the open sewer feeding the tweenage watered down horror market. The solution lies in simply making some good ones. Let The Right One In is the perfect example, and even the title is completely accurate. We need to let the right films into our lives; by supporting and promoting the people making them, not just watching the films, or worse, supporting and promoting Hollywood studios that clearly need neither from us.

Australia, our time has come. Well, it's on its way. I'm excited to announce that Darklight Studios, previously infamous for making great metal music videos and all kinds of other great film work, are about to start shooting on a Vampire film that will not only be definitively Aussie, it's going to be scary, dark, ass-kicking and awesome. How do I know this? Read on as I chat with writer Stephen Batchelor and director Dan Jensen, about their film Pray For Dawn, which is about to start shooting! First, have a look at some images, namely the film poster and some teaser character posters! First, I want you ALL to click through to the Pray For Dawn facebook fan page and like it, nay love it.

Rat: Gday Stephen and Dan, welcome to A Safer Injection. First of all I'd like to say fangs so much for giving me this opportunity to take a bite of your time, I know in Stephen's words you're getting to the "pointy end" of the production now...

SB: Any time Ratman, as the production gears up I'm finding there is never a dull moment lately.

DJ: I'd respond but I'm still reeling from those puns...

Rat: So before I ask you about Pray For Dawn, let's quickly talk vampire films in general. Two-pronged question (I'll stop these puns, I promise) - what is your earliest memory of a vampire film, and what's the one vampire film you love the most? For me it was seeing the wonderful Robert Quarry as "Count Yorga" on one of my late night TV sneak sessions as a kid, and my all time fave is Romero's Martin.

SB: God I had forgotten about the Count Yorga films. My very first experience with vampire films came from the combined genius of Stephen King and Tobe Hooper. The images Salem's Lot burned into my brain as a child caused MANY sleepless nights. As for my all time fave? It's a really tough call, The Lost Boys is so much fun, I love the animal nature of the vampires in 30 Days of Night, Let the Right One In is almost perfect.... do I have to pick just one?

DJ: Growing up I watched a lot of horror films. I had the cool type of parents who let you do that. Honestly, I couldn't say what the first one was. Might have been Salem's Lot as well. Could have been the 1931 Dracula or any of the number of Hammer productions. As for a favourite, and I know this is a slap in the face of vampire purists, but I've gotta go with From Dusk Till Dawn. The first collaboration of 2 of my most favourite filmmakers and a damn entertaining flick. Rodriguez is my favourite director so I'm a little biased towards that one.

Rat: I have to say that I'm really pumped about the movie from all I've seen and heard, for a few reasons, patriotism for one! Also the fact that a uniquely Aussie vampire film is almost a non-entity, it's been almost 20 years since the low-budget classic Bloodlust was made, a "definitive" list I found online included Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (stone the crows!) and COUNTED Hollywood productions Queen Of The Damned and Daybreakers that simply shot here in its tiny list (ugh). What does Brisbane's Darklight studios have in store for a nation in anticipation?

SB: It's a film that's proudly Australian. It returns vampires to the side of the fence they should be on, the side that scares the shit out of you. I've tried to give the film the scope of a Hollywood production, but still retain the character of an Australian film.

DJ: Exactly. I'm sick to death of Australian films depicting our country as a barren wasteland and always wanted to do Australian Hollywood movies. When Stephen came to me with the script I knew we shared that vision. I'm also obsessed with Asian horror movies and will be bringing a heavy influence to Pray For Dawn in the style of the movie. So it'll be kind of like this Australian-Hollywood-Asian amalgamation. And I think that could be a first!

Rat and Josie: nb vb nnnnn That's not a question, just Josie the black cat with no tail who is desperate for my lap and has literally walked across the path of this interview. Maybe she wants a beer? Nice bottle, Victoria Bitter, now now now now now! Surely this is s sign of good luck for a horror film. Have you had any really good or bad fortune come your way leading up to the shoot? Pray tell.

SB: I'll tell you a funny story. A few months back I sent out a revision of the script to all the key crew members, about a week later I got an email from 80's scream queen legend Brinke Stevens. She loved the script and thought the dialogue was fantastic but wanted me to remind her what part we had discussed for her. The problem was, I had sent her the script by mistake, I had contact with her last year and had her email address in my contact list, and in my hurry to send out the new script revision I sent her a copy. We explained what happened and decided this was a lucky accident. That's about all I say say at the moment, ha!

DJ: Aside from that, there has been nothing but one lucky moment after another so far! I'm still waiting for something bad to happen. We've been blessed with the most amazing good fortune and it makes me believe that this movie is meant to be put out there. This is my feature directorial debut and if every movie for the rest of my days is this easy then I won't have any complaints!

Rat: The artwork by Richard Disley is absolutely stunning (I'm afraid of Stitch already), and gives us all an idea about how strong these characters are looking - Stephen, how long have you developed this idea for, and Dan, are you confident you can get your cast to really own the roles?

SB: Richard is a true talent and an absolute workhorse, I love his work, I'm glad you do too. As for the script, I wrote the original draft about eight years ago, and then it sat in a drawer for about six. I had the idea that maybe Facebook would be a good way to get word of it out to the public. And about ten drafts later, here we are.

DJ: As for the cast, I believe that rehearsal is key. I've seen what happens when actors aren't prepared and aside from not getting the desired result on screen it just takes too much time, and I like to work FAST. I'm planning on taking the cast through a lot of rehearsals prior to shooting so when it comes time to roll camera we can all breeze through the takes with total confidence. (And give Josie a pat for me.)

Rat: Seeing what equipment you have to work with for shooting tells me this will be super slick (the Crank 2-inspired RC chassis mount sounds radcore!) - as far as SFX go, without bleeding too much out of you (there I go again), can we expect a mix of traditional and digital shazammery stunning our senses, are you leaning one way more strongly? Talk to me.

SB: I can only write so much, Dan gets the incredibly tough job of turning what I've written into something watchable, so I think this is a Dan question...... Dan?

DJ: The previous draft had the producer and I sweating as there was to be a ton of visual effects, and VFX costs money. Not only do I work fast but I work cheap. It's a myth that you need a lot of money on screen to make a good movie, and there are always things you can do creatively to compensate for lack of money. I think we'll only use digital effects when it's necessary. I love practical effects and believe you can always tell the difference. I've long been a fan of people like the KNB effects group and what they can achieve - there's a true art to their craft. We've got a lot of talented people raising their hands to be involved with Pray For Dawn, and I'd hate to let that talent go to waste!

Rat: Last but not least, will there be any scenes with multiple extras, and if so, more specifically, is there a chance you could use one more very piercing (and pierced) face in a crowd scene? *Ratman points directly at himself with no subtlety whatsoever*

SB: Dude, if you want to pop over over when we start shooting you're more than welcome to do an on set report, I'm sure Dan might be able to slot you into the background somewhere, ha!

DJ: And bring Josie, too!

Once again I really thank you guys for letting me cover this scoop, and as you head into the nitty gritty of this wonderful dream, all my best thoughts and prayers to Bela Lugosi are with you. Screw "break a leg", bite a neck, guys.

Remember to like the facebook page, they just had liker number 666! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Popcorn! And there goes a weasel.

Howdy horrorphiles! Rattus Von Ratt here again, this time with a piece I felt was necessary to write for a few different reasons. Promotion, emotion, and demotion for starters. Promotion of a wonderful project that needs a bit of funding, emotion at the recent personal attack on one of my best buddies, and demotion of a jag-off hack from his place on the bottom rung of nowhere to somewhere subterranean. 

Confus? Good. Let's do this thing in that order. Serious stuff first. What can I say about Kristy Jett? There is so much I can rant and harp on about; she is such an amazing, talented, beautiful and important member of the horror writing community, it almost makes me dizzy to try and think about everything she has done in a collective sense. There's SO much there! Kristy Jett may be best known to you horrorgeeks as a principal, and featured, and guest writer on over 50 websites, one of the the geniuses behind the iconic Bloodsprayer site and podcasts, stalwart in the promotion of Hannah Neurotica's Women In Horror Recognition Month, and tireless in her recognition and exposure of new horror writers, both male and female, anywhere in the world. 

Not only all of this, she's the customer care manager of Benjamin Scrivens' amazing T-shirt company Fright-Rags, which is actually the only place I get horror shirts from! Kristy is the reason A Safer Injection exists, as she gave me my start when I returned to the scene by securing me writing gigs at no less than 3 separate websites/magazines, 2 of which I turned down to follow my own little dream, which seems to be growing more every day. My friendships and work with Jen and Sylvia Soska, Hannah Neurotica, and a swag of other awesome writers and film makers all began with a t-shirt order and friendly string of emails with Kristy. I LOVE YOU JETT! 

Kristy's current personal project, her "white whale", is to secure independent production and distribution of one of her favourite (and mine!) 80's classics, Popcorn! The plan is to get the sorely missing release out there, along with a documentary about the film, and lots of awesomesauce extras we just wouldn't find on the average release! 

Like many other fans of horror, even folks who don't particularly like Popcorn all agree this is a worthy crusade, and the support for her project had thus far been really positive. Kristy decided to use Kickstarter, an online fund-raising hub to try and take care of the high dollar factor needed to really nail this project and convert it from a dream to something tangible we can all put in our collections, a victory requiring an amount of $16,000 - considering the sheer amount of horror geeks in the community, this should be do-able! And to me, kickstarter seemed an appropriate platform to spearhead this incentive. There are amazing things on offer to all of those who donate, even a donation of ONE DOLLAR gets you a personal thank you in the credits of the documentary! Let alone the swag of other goodies available from the $50 tier all the way up!

Here's a link to the project!

The emotion and demotion part really isn't worth going into much. A douche launched a hackneyed personal trolling attack on Kristy today. She was so upset by this dipshit, she was even considering scrapping the project altogether! A better way to spend some time would be to DONATE EVEN A DOLLAR, and have a look at the great art from top illustrators Christpher Ott, Steve Jencks and Jeff Zornow, even get them signed by ORIGINAL CAST MEMBERS FOR HIGHER DONATIONS! COOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!

The main thing I need to say about him is this: NOBODY FUCKS WITH KRISTY JETT AND GETS AWAY WITH IT! This dickshaft attacked her weight, gender, integrity as a writer, and her entire Popcorn project as "money for plane trips and conventions and herself", among other things. He TRIED to insult me about being from Australia, called me a "faggot" and tried on a whole bunch of other shit. Anyway, he can go die now.




Till next time


Friday, April 15, 2011

Beat My Shorts! My Interview with Drew Daywalt

H.....H.......Hang on, let me just get my head together..... Howdy Horrorphiles! Rattus Von Ratt here again, this time to bring you something very special, the first official interview on A Safer Injection - and I could not be happier with how this has happened, and with whom.

If you say you are a horror buff and do not know the name Drew Daywalt, you need to hop on youtube right now and search the following titles: Camera Obscura, Mockingbird, Cursed, Creep, Bedfellows, Conviction, The Tale Of Haunted Mike, Stark Raving Mad. Actually, even if you know them, go on and watch them again. I'll wait. *tickticktick*

Now that you're back, (with new trousers I see! you should have worn brown ones, sometimes these things repeat on you), you'll have seen that Drew Daywalt can do in less than 5 minutes what most modern writers and directors of horror cannot achieve given an entire feature length, a massive budget and endless shoot time. Give us a genuine scare, send the willies and the creeps straight to the top of our spines to have a hootenanny with the heebie-jeebies, and restore our faith in the genre, and indeed ourselves, for those who might have thought they were well and truly jaded before watching these mini-masterpieces. 

If you think about big-budget action comedies, Drew's name pops up more often than a malfunctioning mole in a carnival game. He has worked on many big Hollywood productions, but following the Hollywood writers' strike in recent years, decided to move into horror. With shorts. On the Internet. For free. I liken this to Ronald McDonald hanging up his clown suit to sell organic corn by the roadside with a cheery smile! 

After reading a certain piece of news and the below interview he did today with Drew Grant, I was very pleased to get a facebook note from Drew in response to a discussion about him as a film maker.

You know what they say, if you don't ask, you don't get! I asked Drew for a bit of his time, and he was very kind to agree to this interview. Read on, and get excited, for the new force to be reckoned with is here to prove a point: that horror is not dead. In fact it's undead!

Rat: Firstly, I'd just like to say thanks very much for finding me on facebook and agreeing to this little interview!

Drew: Of course! I really liked your blog on madcap comedies - and when I watched your link of Jonathan Winters tearing up that gas station in it's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World (were there enough "Mad's" in that? I'm not sure) - but anyway when I saw it, it brought me to tears of laughter just like the first time I saw it. After seeing that, I knew we were on the same wave length.

Rat: Haha! One Mad too many, I forgive you. Your attitude toward tackling the horror genre is quite simply inspirational, you've stepped away from working with some of the big boys of the action comedy scene, and delivered the finest horror shorts the Internet has ever seen. How did you feel when the responses first started rolling in, and how does it feel now to be a true pioneer?

Drew: Ya know, at first I didn't even think of it as pioneering. My goal at the beginning was just to direct some short films to prove to horror producers that I had the chops to scare people. And when Bedfellows went viral on me, I realized I'd struck a nerve, maybe filled a gap. My formula was childishly simple in premise - "try to do horror in the same manner as sketch comedy - in short, contained bursts." And instead of one good laugh per skit, it was one good scare. Then I became addicted to making the shorts because I really feel that, artistically I've found my voice. My favorite horror literature is short form - Poe, Lovecraft, Bierce, all those old Creepy and Eerie comics... it was all short form and very effective. People told me I was crazy to try and do short form horror, and THAT'S when I knew I was on to something. 

Rat: As a fellow "worst case scenario" type, I allowed all kinds of things to scare me as a kid. My first experience with a horror film was sneaking out of my room late one night and watching The Blob with Steve McQueen on television. What is your earliest memory of a horror film?

Drew: Oh god... For me it was stumbling into the room when my brothers were watching THE EXORCIST... F*cked me up for life. I had Reagan MacNeil and Captain Howdy nightmares well into my 20's from that. I also remember nearly shitting my pants to the opening credits of Rod Serling's Night Gallery. I remember being frozen with fear on that one. My parents were only one room away, but I couldn't move my legs to get to them. I was transfixed on the horrible faces on the TV screen.

Rat: I can't help but be a bit offended at some people's e-attitude about George Romero directing this project - "He's lost it", "Once great", "I'm excited about Daywalt writing this feature, but Romero?" blah blah fucking blah - have you anything to retort to these negative nay-sayers?

Drew: I think when someone is a master, they're always a master. Every film they do may not be pure 100% amazing, but we're talking about guys who defined and invented new genres of film. Maybe expecting everything that comes from someone to be a masterpiece is too high of an expectation. I mean, how many masterpieces can we, as a culture, expect an artist to create. How many of us would be thrilled to create even one? It's crazy how much pressure we put on our idols, isn't it?

Rat: Though I am not a huge vampire fan, and I AM a massive zombo-phile, Martin is my favourite Romero film because it is pure visionary reinvention of a hackneyed concept, something you share with George one hundred percent. Which of his films would you take with you into your nuclear fallout shelter if you could only choose one (and why)?

Drew: Ha! I'd take Martin and Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid. Saw it at a friend's house, then had to go home after dark through a forest trail - I ran the whole way home through the woods and when I got home I saw I'd gotten a bloody lip from a tree branch smacking me in the face -- and I was so scared that I hadn't noticed it until I was safe at home.

Rat: You have mentioned that horror is suffering from too many remakes and re imaginings. Now you have been handed a remake to pen yourself. I am convinced that really good remakes are as much a part of the solution as bad new trends are part of the problem in horror. Can you give me one sentence on what we may expect from Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things?

Drew: To me, it depends very much on who's directing the remake. For instance, with THE CROW, I'm not very excited, but if you told me Alex Proyas was coming back... then maybe... I think it has a lot to do with the elements. And as far as what to expect? Zombies. A LOT of zombies... 

Rat: Once again, I thank you SO much for your time, I am already on the edge of my seat, as I'm sure many movie-goers will be when this one is in the can. Cheers!

Drew: Thanks for talking to me. I'm grateful that my work is starting to resonate with people, and that there is a hunger for horror as a legitimate art form, as literature... That was always my goal. To tell dramatic (and sometimes comedic) stories, but have all of them be literate, well constructed, and at their heart, truly horrifying.

So there you have it folks, the enigmatic and inspirational Drew Daywalt! 

Till next time


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's a Sad Sad Sad Sad World - Why don't we want a good caper?

Howdy film-o-philes! It's the Ratman with you again, and as you can tell by my intro, today's topic strays away from my usual dark and comfy cave of the horror genre, out into the open in search of madcap antics, crazy characters and a really big score. No, I'm not back on the drugs - I speak of the comedy caper film. 

Those of us who are a little bit longer in the tooth will remember growing up and watching comedy films with a real sense of whimsy, adventure and playful conflicts, knowing lots of things will go humorously awry and trying to guess who will come out on top! These films hold on to the Punch and Judy and pantomime tradition of cheering for the good guys, booing the baddies and having lots of fun and laughs along the way. These were films for all ages in the truest sense, the core storyline being enjoyed by young and old alike because of the simple formula they followed, played out by great character actors.

When I think of family films these days, the approach is quite the opposite - animated films are the biggest culprits - some eye candy and severe focus on "merchandising potential" for the children, and sneaky dirty double entendres and in-jokes to stop parents from ripping their own hair out in the cinemas. The common parent's statement of "Oh, you must go see this new family movie, it's great! The kids didn't even get half of the jokes!" - to me indicates the sad state of affairs we are in. 

As a new member of a country family including four children who have never been exposed to the rampant consumerism of modern society; it's plain to me (and these kids) that without the pressure to keep up with believing that they need every battery operated toy and endless useless trading card set and cereal and clothing line and fucking Shrek green coloured douche refill pack ("When your bum's a bit shtonky, don't be a donkey!") - the films themselves are in most cases fairly forgettable fare. 

In contrast, if you were to quiz me on the details of some of the films in the list to follow (I have not seen most of these in YEARS either) - I'm sure that strings of wonderful memories and moments will come flooding joyfully back into my mind. In fact, since sitting down and starting this article, for which I had 5 films in mind, I am now already mentally shaving down a much bigger list. So I am right already!

To me, the term "caper" may be broader than some filmsnob definitions. A good caper to me is a film with a bunch of characters with outrageous personalities and traits competing against or thrown in with each other in a madcap situation, all vying for the same prize or payoff. It encompasses heists, whodunnits, treasure hunts and challenges. Anyway, enough of this fannying about, time's a wasting! Let's embark on my top 5 most memorable capers that brightened my young eyes, had me laughing, cheering and second guessing all the way. If you have kids, or are a big one at heart, give some of these a go. Hopefully the kids have not been so broken by soulless hype machines to not immediately tout them as "boring", and your good selves have not been so saturated with torture porn and puerile teen barf comedies to enjoy a good old fashioned caper! Here they are, in order of which I scribbled them into my idea pad. As is my usual style, I give no massive amount of detail in these lists - I write this as a movie lover, not a film critic!

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)

This is the film that inspired so many others ahead of it, but to me stands as the greatest all-star extravaganza comedy of all time. The classic greed caper which sees a phenomenal cast frantically racing for a suitcase full of cash, will always stand up as the perfect working of the caper formula. Here's the infamous gas station scene, many consider the funniest scene in the film, or any film for that matter!

Scavenger Hunt (1979)

I was appalled when I had to find a VHS rip of this film a few years back, not being able to even see a release on DVD anywhere - I don't even want to check, lest that still be the case. A cavalcade of 70's TV stars embark on a caper of a different kind - a classic hunt for unusual objects, but still following the same basic formula of a giant payoff, this time in the form of a last will and testament of an eccentric. Every review I have seen while referencing this film describes it as a "guilty pleasure" or "dated" - I see it as "innocent fun" and "a benchmark of it's period" - amazing cameos abound too! Here's the entire film in parts.

Murder By Death (1976)

I tracked this film down and watched it again recently, the all-time classic whodunnit parody from master playwright Neil Simon is brought to the silver screen with a knockout cast, and more genuine twists and layers than Christopher Nolan could dream of dreaming of dreaming about in some ridiculous imagined world, all in the confines of a manor house on a dark and stormy night. The greatest sleuths are gathered to test their mettle against their elusive and mysterious host, Lionel Twain. If this does not have you guessing again and again in between laugh cramps, I'll gas up the oven for you right now.

Topkapi (1964)

The Great Race (1965)

As a very young child, I was charged up when my dad let us watch The Cannonball Run, the cheesy Burt Reynolds race caper. A couple of years later, on a rainy day containing no video store bribe, we tuned into The Great Race on television. I'll never forget the magic of this experience, each member of the family backing a different character to complete the race first, and literally rolling around on the rug with laughter and excitement. Right from the first frame, a tribute to comedy legends Laurel and Hardy (and the first time I remember seeing a novelty credit sequence in the opening of a film); to the crazy conclusion across the finish line, this is the film that Blake Edwards hit right on target with, creating his own caper formula which he would emulate to perhaps lesser impact in his later films. This still stands as a true rainy day classic, fun and frivolity showcasing classic autos driven by mad motorists. A must. Pie fight anyone?

So there you have it folks, something a little different from me - I hope you had as much fun reading as I did reminiscing, and never forget how these films can lift your spirits and make you smile.

Till next time


Ratman presents: A day at the Roxy Theatre

Somewhere in Saskatoon......

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dead Hooker In A Trunk CENSORED? How the Roxy Theater made an instant enemy of the horror scene.

Howdy horrorphiles! It's Ratticus here once again, this time I am here in protest, indignation and disappointment. Rather than my presenting one of my usual light-hearted articles, today for the first time I am writing about something that I am deeply upset about, in relation to a form of evil control I have been opposed to my entire conscious life - censorship. And who are the victims of this fate? None other than the Canadian crusaders, the Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska, my dearest friends and supporters, and of course the now international sensation behind the little movie that could, Dead Hooker In A Trunk, and the most anticipated follow up film I have ever been on the edge of my seat (even including the toilet) about - American Mary.

For those of you familiar with myself and my blog, you already know my involvement with the Soskas. You could say I am indirectly responsible for bringing Dead Hooker In A Trunk to my home Australia - after discovering the beautiful Twisted ones through blog-gurus Kristy Jett and Hannah Neurotica, I made it my mission in life to organise a small screening in Sydney, with so much excitement, support and love from Jen and Sylvia in making it happen. Just as I was securing a small venue, I had the exciting news that a major festival had picked up on some of the hype generated by my humble blogs and facebook page, and of course the snowballing momentum of this instant modern Grindhouse classic - a film which some (including myself) has resurrected the genre to a wider audience and paved the way for self-starting film makers everywhere to be inspired to just do what they are passionate about - making films no matter how restricted budget or resources may be.

Everything about this is positive, right? In the wake of a string of festival triumphs, awards, now major dvd distribution, and so much support and championing from the horror community, the Soskas can do no wrong. Or so we all thought......

And then there was the Roxy Theater. This establishment (In Saskatoon CANADA, no less) was due to screen a double feature including DHIAT, and flipflopped and withdrew the film from screening - why, you may ask? This film is a zany, fun, tongue-in-cheek, madcap masterpiece. It's not realistic or based on any real crime, and the women portrayed in the film by the kickass twins themselves and the incredibly talented and beautiful Rikki Gagne, are powerful and funny and smart and and and.... You get the idea! Even the hooker herself has an identity, a sad figure who dies from circumstance, a victim in the purest sense, not a glorified hole or object not cared about, a subject of mockery such as in the popular "black comedy" Very Bad Things, a highly accepted film which essentially promotes machismo bonding between males after they kill a prostitute in a Vegas hotel room. So, to quote the 25th letter of the alphabet, Y?????????

The name. The name. The name. Yes, I just repeated this three times. I bet it still hasn't sunk in yet. They BANNED a film from being shown because of its NAME. They BANNED a film from being shown because of its NAME. They BANNED a film from being shown because of its NAME. I am sitting listening to Rodriguez - Cold Fact just to keep myself calm. 

So what is to be done about this perfect example of douche-baggery? It's already gaining more momentum than a sumo wrestler on a ski jump (humour! Ratty is back from his rage) with petitions, blogs galore, letters being written and forwarded, facebook sharing of every single step of this now only 2-day-old travesty is in FULL effect. Be a part of this and show The Roxy and any other agents of control that the horror community is bigger and stronger than they could ever dream, and something like this simply fuels the fire of resolve and strengthens the bonds we share to bring them and their house of cards reality crashing down with a casual flick of our tongues and pens.

Here are some links to assist in this process.

The open letter itself - (write one of your own, even if it is 3 words long - "You suck ass", "Eat Buffalo Gnard", "WE WILL OVERCOME", something like that.

The petition started by the amazing Scott Ruth of the National Horror Examiner:

You may have noticed that this is the first issue of A Safer Injection that has no pretty pictures, I just wanted your full attention on this topic. For every obstacle there is a motivation to jump higher. For every act of putrid conformity there is a rebellious uprising. For every loss there is a victory. My small victory came last week, when the soon to be launched OneUp Microcinema in Perth Australia contacted me directly to screen DHIAT as one of their first features. I would do just about anything for Jen and Sylvia, if in reality the three of us were faced with a Dead Hooker In A Trunk, I would absolve them from blame, take the rap, do the time and write to them every day from the big house.

I feel strong as I finish this piece, though writing it has literally brought tears streaming down my face when I think of how much of a part these incredible women played in rescuing my belief in myself, helping me to return from the brink of drug addiction, homelessness and self abuse and even suicidal thoughts, to be just another horror blogger. But I know to them, I am so much more than that, and for that I will end with 3 words of my own for both of them.

I love you.

Till next time! (likely later today, I gotta counter this with more yuk-yuks!)

Joel Ratman Wells

Monday, April 4, 2011

Must MISS - Platinum Dunes presents..... The Birds 3-D

Howdy horrorphiles! Ratty's back again to deliver another parody to ease some of the wincing pain one feels in the spleen every time another classic piece of cinema history is set for the modern remake disaster zone. Of course, some of these things hit the mark, but it's just no excuse to keep making them. 

Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho is now a long distant memory for most of us; relegated to a few dusty message boards where some still try to rationalize the Zen-like stupidity of a director wanting to remake a film exactly as it was first made. Now Hitchcock aficionados have the ultimate project to dread - Michael Bay does The Birds?

I don't give my rat's ass if he's not directing it. His baby Platinum Dunes, who could not even manage to successfully re-imagine ONE of the three classic slashers (Bubba, Jason or Freddy) to a standard that resulted in something the majority of viewers liked or thought was worthy; have had a big budget production of The Birds on the cards. This 3-D craptacular has now been pushed back a third time to 2013 according to the most popular sources. Prolonging the inevitable is silly. Surely they can take a page from the ultimate failure that was 1994's The Birds 2 - Land's End, which Halloween 2 Director Rick Rosenthal could not even bring himself to attach his name to (enter Mr Alan Smithee!).

So I have chosen to give you a first hand look at the REAL horror of Hollywood. My prediction of things to come, ironically on a film that is a classic example of just that. A grim prediction. Here we go.

The Birds - 3-D Interactive! A serious parody review

Melanie D (Lady Gaga) is the number one social columnist in the Hills. Her weekly vlog column "Gone to the birds" exposes the world (but more importantly the greater Los Angeles area) to the hottest celebrity scandals, muff slips and meltdowns as they happen. The film opens with a hilarious short sequence of Melanie recording her latest video, an interview with Hollywood badboy Charlie Sheen, played ironically by himself! In the full definition of digital 3-D, his face looks like a haunted pizza base with 2 dead black olives in it. 

Mitch "The switch" Brenner (George Clooney) is a slick corporate lawyer who is too busy winning the important cases to have time for romance. His latest case sees him embroiled in a battle to sue an infants school who actually encouraged young children to draw their own versions of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, tainting these timeless cartoon characters with their childish re-imaginings; without paid permission. The resulting victory against the St. Agnes of Rome Volunteer Infants School for the Blind and Spastic nets millions for Disney and leaves Mitch the Switch on a well deserved vacation at the finest destination he can think of - his own luxury mega-mansion which recently replaced the quaint town of Bodega Bay. The crowning achievement of this futuristic super-estate is Birdland, the animatronic theme park crammed with robotic examples of every bird species, because Brenner really likes birds for some unexplained reason. Who cares, these things look AWESOME! SO much scarier than actual nature. It's better. Trust me. And the name was a true original, it had only ever been used by some black musicians playing alleged "jazz".

The two meet at one of Birdland's regular weekend parties, in the lovebird exhibit (a subtle wink to the original film! If you look closely in this sequence, you can see Seth Rogen dressed as Hitchcock subtly tweeting on his ipad 4. Tweeting.... birds.... this shit works on so many fucking levels, it's Inception times a hundred million). They fall instantly in love and plan to combine their talent and wealth to form the perfect team! She will keep digging up dirt on people, and he will sue them when they try to protect their own privacy! The perfect match is obvious, Gaga and Clooney's 50 foot egos on the enormous Imax 3-D screen almost look larger than real life. The resulting duet they sing at the end of the party, "Peck out my eyes (for love is blind)" becomes quite ironic in the next scene. It's almost like they gave it that name intentionally.

A sudden burst of dramatic music shatters the ears of the audience as the focus turns to a slow pan over a sleek, black ravenbot that appears to be malfunctioning. A small screen on the ravenbots techno-control collar displays the ominous message that can barely be read before the relief of the dramatic zoom to a glowing red flashing display which reads "MALFUNCTION IN PROGRESS". 

Then two ravenbots start to flash red. (now for some magic that Hitchcock simply didn't have the rendering skills to achieve - his movie was good, but you must surely admit the graphics were terrible) - Then four. Then all sixteen thousand birdbots all at once! The blood-curdling cacophonous banshee wail that emanates from Gaga's mouth upon seeing this spectacle should surely have her at least nominated for a Grammy. 

The next 56 minutes were kind of confusing and made me dizzy. Many flashing cut shots of beaks striking and steel feathers sparking and Clooney's eyes got pecked out (SEE?) and no one could stop them and I think there was a secret Gaga muffslip shot but it was so brief I may be mistaken and it may have been a mangled dead bird. Bot. 

An eyeless and surprisingly still very dapper Clooney, on his final breath, finds the perfect solution to end this ungodly siege of naturebots taking their revenge. Via his battered ishoe still hanging off his one remaining foot, Mitch the Switch tweets via Melanie B's account that birdbots are popular with stupid young people, and the enjoyment they get from this harmless gimmicky creature should be derided and used as fuel for hatred and discrimination by older people who should know better on every network available, including the physical destruction of the creatures themselves. The tweet reads 

*spoiler alert*

"Birdbotz is emolame, raep and keel birdbotz lul"

Melanie B seems confused at first, she almost looks as though she may ask why he didn't call the police or the army, and then a rumble. Then a slightly louder rumble. Then a MEMBRANE-TEARING THUNDEROUS ROAR as the millions of e-haters descend on the birdbots and claim victory for the greater good of LA, which this week is the endangered Revolvimoe of Scislacs, a rare creature from the Anagram forest of Australia.

The closing credits are actually the new video clip for Gaga's tie-in single "Flapping around like a feather-head", featuring breakdancing birdbots, outrageous costumes, and a neat and funny trick where Clooney puts grapes in his dead eye sockets, it's by far the highlight of his career, and I don't usually give out high ratings!

10 out of 5.

So there you have it folks, by far my silliest parody, and definitely the one revealing the most hidden bitterness! I hope you enjoyed reading.

Till next time


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dead Hooker In A Trunk finally in Australia, no FOOLIN'!

Howdy horrophiles! It's the absent rat, back again with the most incredible news I have received this year! This is more than just a review, update or story - this is is the first piece I can write for this blog that is 100% relevant to both my passion for horror and cult films, and the everyday struggle of my life. But let's keep it simple to start with.

By now, if you have not heard of Jen and Sylvia Soska, CJ Wallis, Twisted 
Twins Productions or the film Dead Hooker In a Trunk it's clear you're not too concerned about independent film sensations or the resurgence of the grindhouse style to low budget film making. The little film that could continues to wow audiences and critics and bloggers alike, so it's not my position to write it up yet again, it's awesome and you need to see it and support it and that's all you need to know from me. A simple search will lead you to a plethora of like opinions if you don't want to trust in me. 

Living in Australia is wonderful. We have the most laid back climate, a choice of any weather system you please, and the most diverse and trouble free culture on the planet. One thing Australia does not have enough of is horror and cult film events, screenings or conventions. Knowing this, when I first discovered the Soska sensation at the end of last year through my good friends and mentors Kristy Jett (Geek goddess of Bloodsprayer and Fright-Rags fame) and Hannah Neurotica (the genius gender writer behind Ax Wound and WIH recognition month), my first question to them was "have you had ANYONE in this country interested in the film?" - to which the reply was no.

Something awoke inside me that day, I faced all the inhibitions that prevent myself and most others from nurturing an inkling into an idea, raising the idea to an action and producing a result. I threw caution and fear to the wind, and politely asked Jen and Sylvia if I could look into getting a screening for them. From this point, a lovely friendship of mutual appreciation, support, love and respect blossomed in further communication and my efforts to promote the film and it's beautiful creators. They sent me a copy of their film and gave me the authority to organize something, however small. I remember thinking "well, I won't get it into the Dendy, but a small hall or pub venue will still break it here" - as I continued to investigate a venue and costs, I receive a note from Jen - "GUESS WHAT MOVIE IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA????!!!!"

At the Dendy in Newtown, the one cinema I saw as the ultimate venue for this, on April Fool's Day of all days, as part of the Night Of Horror festival (one of the only ones we have), Dead Hooker In A Trunk will be showing for the first time in Australia, with DVD release following so all my friends down under can enjoy the film I have ranted and raved and driven them all crazy about in the last 5 months. Everything I had hoped to try for is now a reality, and my desire to organize screenings of my own is only stronger after this news. It proves to me that Sydney has the potential to have a scene, and others are already making it happen too.

So if you're in Sydney and free on Friday, come along. I will be sitting right at the front centre, wearing my DHIAT t-shirt and the biggest sense of happiness, pride and joy I have felt in some time. From a day dream, to a notion, to a new friendship, a new direction, the reawakening of a dormant passion, so much has come from this experience - this may seem insignificant, silly or over the top for some readers, those that know about my struggles will agree that this is a fine day to be a rat.

Thanks so much Jen, Sylvia and CJ - it's so wonderful that your film can make it all the way around the world to some people other than me, your number one Australian supporter. Cheers mates!

Till next time


Friday, February 18, 2011

WIH Recognition Month - My top 10 memorable performances - Part 2

Howdy horrorphiles! Ratty here to deliver the fantastic (well, it's not really dramatic) conclusion to my top 10 list. This is a list of memorable performances by women in horror films, in every case I feel these actresses were pivotal in the transcendence these movies make from the status quo into the mighty realm of the classic. With these next 5 titles, I am venturing into the world of foreign films, by this I mean anywhere but Hollywood. 

Once again these come in no "order" of merit, for they are all essential viewing, and to me they highlight the importance of a convincing performance when dealing in the currency of terror. Here we go!

Cécile De France in Haute Tension

Haute Tension is probably still my favorite horror film made this century. Alexandre Aja's debut film was a flagship in the new trend of "high impact violence" in horror films, and was poorly emulated time and time again by Hollywood in the following years. It was spared a remake, but re-released in the USA under the awful title Switchblade Romance. Cécile De France's flawless performance in a truly multi-dimensional role as both victim and perpetrator shows us vulnerability, fear, strength and pure insanity. 

Elizabeth Moody in Braindead (Dead Alive)

Peter Jackson's all time splatter comedy opus will never be topped, the gore sequences are the most inventive and brilliant use of traditional makeup and special effects on a limited budget. But if not for the fantastic performances, this is all we would ever remember. No one who has seen this film could ever deny that Vera is the embodiment of the mother from hell, and that's BEFORE she is infected with the rabid monkey-virus and transforms from the undead into a 20 foot tall monstrosity. Poor Lionel! Jackson also featured Elizabeth Moody in Heavenly Creatures and the first Lord of the Rings film.

Manuela Velasco in REC

First of all, I must say I am not a fan of the hand-held camera style shooting appearing more often in films, it is a fantastic concept but requires extreme skill to be pulled off successfully by both the cameraman and the actors, and of course in most cases (Blair Witch, Cloverfield, The Last Exorcism) it comes off hokey and noticeably takes away from the enjoyment of the film. To me REC is an exception to the rule, thanks in no small part to the lead role of Angela Vidal, the news reporter who is trapped in a building where an unknown contagion is sending the residents bonkers. Velasco's beautifully understated performance allowed me the very rare suspension of disbelief I don't usually experience these days. 

Nanako Matsushima in Ringu and Ringu 2

The film that started the explosion of Asian horror films that would grab the Western film-goer by the throat; and provide Hollywood with endless poor remake fodder. It also set the iconic "evil little girl with long hair over eyes" as a standard for many other Asian films to emulate, in most cases poorly. It is a truly eerie, harrowing and inventive film, and the fate of the main character Reiko is what leaves the viewer in suspense with every scene, as she tries to uncover the mystery of Sadako's deadly video tape. I include both the original and the sequel, as in my mind they are equally good and should be watched as one story. Matsushima's terror, especially in the well sequences, is convincing enough to chill the blood of any viewer.

Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï and Isabelle Chasse in Martyrs

I only watched this film recently, and was blown away. I had heard about how 
incredibly graphic and disturbing it was, and like many films I waited for all the
hype to die down a bit, and expertly avoided spoilers so I could watch the film 
without someone else's opinion in mind. I did the same thing with A Serbian
Film, which also blew away my high expectations, but to me this is the winner
when it comes to recent shockers. These young women give ridiculously
well crafted performances, I had to end with this example as protest to the 
cheesy "Scream Queen" article that started me writing this to begin with. There
is so much screaming in this film, terrifying, awesome, realistic, cringe inducing

The film has the unique storyline which makes both female leads main 
characters, of course I have included Isabelle Chasse who plays the "creature", 
possibly the finest full body makeup job I have seen in any film. This is not 
to be missed, brutal, upsetting and perplexing from the first minute to the 
explosive conclusion. This is probably the ultimate example of a film which
required extraordinary acting for it to work at all. A triumph.

So there you have it folks, I hope that this reminds you of the tireless efforts 
of all the women of horror, and indeed of film.

Till next time