Delve Deeper

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Its Ho Ho Horror with Re-Santamator!


Kodie actor/director Abel Berry passed along a video that is sure to become a Christmas tradition here at Unfilmable.com in the form of Re-Santamator, his holiday homage to HPL's Re-Animator! Directed by Berry, and starring Justin Powers and Jennifer Stone, Re-Santamator is the first of many Lovecraft themed videos in the works over at BSEntertainment...

If you like what you see, you can check out more of their work here...


(Thanks to Abel Berry)

Monday, December 5, 2011

SHADOW OF THE UNNAMABLE (2011)



If you are a regular reader here at Unfilmable, you’ve probably seen our coverage of Shadow of the Unnamable.  A product from Germany, the filmmakers have teased us over the last year or so with slick looking production stills and an eye-catching teaser trailer.  Having premiered this past year at horror festivals worldwide, we were lucky enough to get an early peek at the project.


A straightforward adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s 1925 “The Unnamable” story, this short takes place in an atmospheric cemetery where fiction writer Randolph Carter (Robert Lyons) entertains his friend, Joel Manton (Jeff Motherhead), with stories of how he conceives his literary subjects.  “My novels don’t come without thorough investigation,” he says to his doubting friend of all things terrible that inhabit his stories.  Carter then tells the story of how the town and his ancestors battled a monster over a period of 200 years.  This unspeakable horror, Carter reveals, left a number of victims in its wake (“none of them found in one piece”).  The number of attacks dwindled over the years, but the odd author believes he has found the remains of the beast.  Where? In the creepy cottage that lays just a few yards behind Manton, of course.


Originally published in an issue of Weird Tales, Lovecraft’s “The Unnamable” is a solid short story with one of horror literature’s great “it is right behind you” stings.  The story previously provided the source for Jean-Paul Ouellette’s The Unnamable films and, while the first film does feature the characters and scenario from the short story, little is similar after that.  Director-producer-writer Sascha Renninger gives the story its first proper adaptation as he brings the scenario to perfectly realized life nearly word by word.  Renninger has taken great pains to give us a pure Lovecraft adaptation and his work is befitting the classic short story.  Opening with an impressive animation unfolding over a lush score by Andreas Meyer, the 16-minute short is incredibly well made. All of the technical elements are top notch with superb cinematography by Wilfried Keil (the opening steadicam shot is killer) and some really clever editing by Renninger and Florian Eisner.  Honestly, the production values are better than half the stuff littering the horror market right now.  Like its literary inspiration, the film keeps the monster hidden in shadows and brief glances with the beast being created via CGI (there is a great scene of the monster gutting a victim with only shadows on the wall giving the audience a glimpse of the action).


Helping further back up the superior technical aspects is an astounding attention to period detail.  Like the fine filmmakers at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, Renninger and his crew are able to amazingly recreate 1920s New England on a budget that I’m sure wouldn’t get James Cameron to roll out of bed in the morning.  Particularly impressive is the film’s coda which features vintage cars and dozens of extras in period costuming wandering around a vividly created Arkham Asylum.  The acting is also very solid for an independent feature.  Naturally, the film rests on the shoulders of its storyteller and Robert Lyons (not to be confused with veteran American character actor Robert F. Lyons) is quite good as the Lovecraft surrogate Randolph Carter.  He definitely gives his performance the necessary creepy edge and he even bears a slight resemblance to the celebrated author.


This brings me to my lone complaint about the film.  I was upset that this was only a short as such a handsomely mounted production is completely worthy of a feature length film.  Alas, Renninger set about to just give the world a faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s short story and he succeeded marvelously with Shadow of the Unnamable.  With a perfect combination of behind-the-camera professionalism and reverence for the source material, it is no wonder this short recently won Best Short Lovecraft Adaptation at the 2011 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Shadow of the Unnamable teaser:

 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Lot of Evil...


Writer/director Gary Lobstein, who previously worked on the Lovecraft inspired films Roe and The Picture in the House, has released his latest, a comedy/horror short titled A Lot of Evil! Written by Julie Lobstein and starring Jeff Gruhala, the film revolves around a H.P. Lovecraft fanboy who buys a book online that he thinks will help him summon a real Cthulhu monster...

Gary plans to submit the film to next years HPLFF, where both of his previous adaptations screened. Check out A Lot of Evil below...


(Thanks to Gary Lobstein)

New Rats in the Walls multimedia project...


Inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls is a multimedia project and thesis work from Petr Augustin, an artist from the Czech Republic. When finished, the project will consist of 15 hand drawn videos, with a new chapter released every week...

You can check out the first video below, and can catch later chapters here...


(Thanks to Petr Augustin)

The Whisperer in Darkness DVD is now available...


Sean Branney announced today, via facebook, that the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society is taking orders for the Whisperer in Darkness on DVD! Based on HPL's 1931 tale, and brought to life using their patented Mythoscope™ process (a mix of vintage and modern techniques), The Whisperer in Darkness tells of Albert Wilmarth, a folklore professor at Miskatonic University, who investigates legends of strange creatures rumored to dwell in the most remote mountains of Vermont. Wilmarth's investigation leads him to a discovery of horrors quite beyond anything he ever imagined, and ends in a desperate attempt to escape the remote New England hills with his life and sanity intact...

The highly anticipated follow-up to their now classic The Call of Cthulhu stars Matt Foyer and Barry Lynch, and was shot on location in New England and in Hollywood...

The deluxe 2-disc DVD features:

- The Whisperer in Darkness (103 minutes, black and white) with 5.1 surround sound
- a commentary track with the film's producers
- subtitles in twenty three languages
- a replica prop newspaper clipping about the Vermont flooding

Disc two features:

- a delightful and revealing 47 minute Behind the Scenes documentary
- seven documentary featurettes showcasing special effects and filmmaking techniques
- numerous deleted and/or extended scenes
- strange bonus features we cannot even describe
all Whisperer in Darkness trailers

Retail is $24.50...

Click here for more...


(Thanks to Sean Branney)

Hell on Earth is coming to DVD...


Hell on Earth is a film that I covered awhile back, based on an official site that described it as "Lovecraftian", and now according to Dread Central, it is finally coming to DVD courtesy of Elite Entertainment. From the producer of the cult classic The Deadly Spawn, Hell on Earth tells the story of seventeen year old Bobby, who plays with "imaginary friends" provided by the mysterious and ancient "Apocryphal Book of Tarkuhm" given to him by his eccentric and somewhat crazy Aunt Sadie. Little does he know that the monsters and demons are only biding their time until the planets are aligned and they can get him to read the passage freeing their master from the "Hell" of another universe...

The DVD features a director's commentary, still gallery and audition/casting footage, and will be released January 24th...


(Thanks to Dread Central)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Goat and beyond...


If you've followed the career of filmmaker Joseph Nanni, you would know that his knowledge of H.P. Lovecraft is second only to his knowledge of filmmaking. Four projects in, and he's raised the bar each time. He recently shared with Unfilmable.com his upcoming production slate, and from the sound of things, we haven't seen anything yet!

His last project, the short film Black Goat (watch the film here), was merely a teaser for bigger things to come, and the feature length film (of the same name) is ramping up with script revisions and casting taking place over the next few months. Watch for more news on this one...

Among the other projects Joseph has in the works, is a new Lovecraftian comedy short entitled The Innsmouth Look which should show itself in early 2012, as well as two more features, which brings us to his forthcoming "Necronomicon Cycle"...

Beginning with Black Goat, Joseph's "Necronomicon Cycle", will include three features including It Got Out, based on HPL's From Beyond, but taking place in a contemporary, corporate setting, and a third film, tentatively called Black Seas, which he promises is "total sci-fi cosmic horror". Look for It Got Out production art in the months to come...

It's good to see that Joseph plans to inhabit the world of Lovecraftian cinema far into the future, and provide its fans with quality films which push the boundaries of independent cinema...

As always, watch this space for more, and be sure to check out Bad Advice for Good Times for information on Joseph's previous films...


(Thanks to Joseph Nanni)

Cthulhu invades in 2014...


I don't have much on this one yet, but it sounds promising...

Written and directed by Helio Mira and co-written by Jesús Córdoba, Cthulhu Invasion is a 3D stereoscopic film from Lince Studios and Magic Gate Studios, scheduled for release late in 2014. As I said, more information is needed, but it looks as though the film may have been renamed Ages of Madness...

A short film, titled Helen, will be released in September of 2012 as a prelude to Cthulhu Invasion (Ages of Madness)...

About Cthulhu Invasion (Ages of Madness): The Cthulhu Mythos is a shared fictional universe created in the 1920s by American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Mythos stories tend to refer to the "Great Old Ones," a fearsome assortment of ancient, powerful deities who came from outer space and once ruled the Earth. They are presently quiescent, having fallen into a death-like sleep at some time in the distant past. The best-known of these beings is Cthulhu, who currently lies "dead [but] dreaming" in the submerged city of R’lyeh somewhere in the southeast Pacific Ocean. One day, "when the stars are right", the stones of R'lyeh will rise from beneath the sea, and Cthulhu will awaken and wreak havoc on the earth...

About Helen: Angelic Helen wakes up barely dressed and very confused after her first night at a hall of residence for female students during the Roaring Twenties. Her friend Elizabeth reminds her, mischievously, of the unbridled "petting party" celebrated in her room last night. Helen met other girls, new substances, adult games...However, the disappearance of a mysterious book may put them at a terrible risk...




(Information courtesy of the Ages of Madness facebook page)

New trailer, one-sheet for Jared Skolnick's The Earth Rejects Him...


The Earth Rejects Him is an original horror short written and directed by Jared Skolnick (The Music of Erich Zann), and revolves around a young boy who discovers a corpse while biking in the woods, and the unexpected and macabre consequences he faces when he tries to bury it...

Check out the new teaser trailer and poster artwork below...



(Thanks to Jared Skolnick)

New promo poster for Shadow of the Unnamable...


Fresh off two very successful screenings at the Sand Pedro and Portland H.P. Lovecraft Film Festivals, writer/director Sascha Renninger has revealed the latest (and final) Shadow of the Unnamable promotional poster, which can be seen below...

Look for a review of the film in these pages very soon...


(Thanks to Sascha Renninger)

Ah Pook The Destoyer: The Silver Key...


I get a lot of interesting things in my inbox, but one that really caught my eye recently was news of the debut album from Ah Pook The Destroyer, which according to their facebook page is a musical collaboration between Matthew Broyles of the matthew show and Paul Shapera of Mocha Lab. The band's intent is to "musically represent pieces of iconic literature", and their first release is The Silver Key based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft. Song titles include The Logical Relations of Things, Earthly Shackles, Gods of Their Elders and Providence...

Visit the official site to listen to The Silver Key...


(Thanks to Matthew Broyles)

MIST Opportunity


The following post originally appeared on Pete Von Sholly's VONSHOLLYWOOD blog, and is reprinted here with his kind permission. Examples of Pete's amazing Mist storyboards can be found here...


So, working on The Mist, for which I did the storyboards, I was also supposed to get to do some creature designs. This never happened for some reason... Frank??? Anyway if you know me at all I can't resist drawing a monster so here is a quick rough thing I did for the spiders... which I never even showed anyone. People like to keep you in the box they found you in I guess.

(Special thanks to Pete Von Sholly)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Updated: Toys For Tots - Horror Style: Horror creators and fans UNITE! !!


Update: If any filmmakers, musicians or writers would like to donate DVDs, CDs or books to Toys For Tots ~ Horror Style, please contact us here at Unfilmable.com, or Toys For Tots through the contact information below, and thank you for supporting such a wonderful cause!


You give a child a toy. We'll give you a MONSTER-size library [over 3 dozen so far]!

What is Toys For Tots ~ HORROR style?

This is a group of writers/editors/publishers of Horror/Weird/Dark fantasy/etc. who want to do something nice for needy children this year. Each contributor will donate a signed book(s) of theirs [any book, chap, collection, HC, trade, mass market, novel, mag, edited by, etc.][sorry, no “eBooks” as we cannot be certain the winner will have a reading device] and *ONE WINNER* will win them all.

Folks post the pics [2 pics] of them donating to THIS page. One pic showing them holding the toy, one pic of the toy in the box. Sadly, there are a few who might try to cheat and not put the toy in the box, so we need to see the toy really was donated. Take a pic of you holding the toy, then take a 2nd pic of the toy in the box. The donated toy will need to have a price point of at least 5 dollars. I thought a lot of folks have cell phone cams so pics would be easy to take.

How do you enter?

Entrants will need to post a pic of them dropping a toy into a “Toys For Tots” donation box and when all is said and done, say the day after X-Mas, we’ll pick ONE WINNER. Kids get a bunch of toys and we do a little good for those in need in hard times. And someone out there gets a very happy new year! !!

Can a family enter?

YES! You donate a toy, you’re in. Your SO donates one, they’re in! But only one entry per person!

I picked TFT as it’s fairly common and most everywhere in the States. Sadly, due to postage, entrants must live in the States. I also picked this charity as I couldn’t think of another charity where we could be certain we’d be putting something “hard” under trees this year.

We’ll have a predetermined number to pick the winner, between 100 -200 it will be #?, 200-300 will be #?, 300-400, 400-500, 1,000+, etc., etc. [Yes, I hoping for a lot of entries! !!] Then I’ll post the winner’s name here (after X-Mas) and they can message me w/ their address. Then the books will start coming. Each contributor will be mailing the book(s) they’re donating to the winner, so they will not all come at the same time. Books will begin to be shipped after JAN 1st.

We are not a part of *any* group or affiliated w/ any organization. This is just a group of writers/editors/publishers who want to do something nice for children! !! We picked TFT as it will put REAL toys under trees this year!!

Please share this and help spread the word. If you have a blog please consider doing a blog post about this, Tweeting as well. Sharing means word gets out and that puts more toys under trees! !! I know there are no bigger hearts than those of the horror community, so let it bleed!! !

No dealers or booksellers please. This is not for profit in any way, shape, or form. If we find out an entrant is a seller that entry will be not be considered for the drawing.

I’ll be posting what books the winner will receive and adding to the list as I get word of new additions.

Note to any writers and editors and publishers I have not contacted, if you would like to be part of this, please message me here on FB. We would love to have you be part of this! !!

Toys For Tots ~ Horror Style can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter
or via e-mail (tfthorror@googlemail.com) 

To all the current contributors, my deepest thanks! You make me very proud to be one of you! !!

All my bEastly BEST! !!

Joe Pulver

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Uncle Kitty vs Santa Claus


Today I will be reviewingRare Exports: A Christmas Tale.

You may wonder why I am reviewing a film about the Finnish version of Santa Claus on a forum usually reserved for darker subject material. Allow me to explain some background on the film and the legend it is based on (this will necessitate spoilers so quit reading here if you wish to avoid them).

One of the oldest Christmas traditions in Europe is the Yule Goat, or the Joulupukki as it's referred to in Finland. Originally a fairly dark figure that punished children it eventually merged with a more modern version of the Santa Claus myth. Except that Santa lives in the mountains at Korvatuntur1. Rare Exports plays off this, and is a prequel to the two short films it is based upon (both of which can easily be found on Google, and are amusing enough to be worth the look).

The film begins with an American mining company drilling on Korvatunturi in what is claimed to be an 'archaeological' dig, but which is obviously not, and the American liaison knows it. Moreover it's quite obvious he's looking for something, and knows what it is, and what rules need to be obeyed in it's presence to maintain safety. Nearby is an unsuspecting town of reindeer ranchers looking forward to their yearly culling. When the drill hits meters thick sawdust we are told through exposition that burying things in sawdust is an ancient way of keeping things cold. Simultaneously a local ranchers son, who is terrified the miners will awaken Santa reads up on old legends in books featuring a hairy goat horned man taller than the trees who eats children. Legend has it the tribes confronted it centuries ago on the ice but were unable to kill it, so when it's weight caused the ice to break they froze it and buried it in the mountain. Not long after the miners go missing, the reindeer herds are slaughtered, and children start to go missing, and of course no one believes the kid. The lone child who knows more than everyone else is an overused cliche in suspense films, but this time they don't seem to be to offensive with it (perhaps because the adults catch on pretty quickly).

Assuming wolves are responsible for the reindeer, the boys father sets spiked pit traps, and catches a frail old naked man covered in dirt. Marketing would have you believe this is the evil serial killer santa that is the focus of the film, but this is untrue. He's an elf, or a Father Christmas as they're referred to in the film. Father Christmases are apparently as strong as bears, can run for miles, and are primitive enough to have not seen a need for clothes (but adapt to tool and weapon use quickly enough). Temperatures don't bother them, they have an addiction to warm gingerbread, and they become homicidal when you violate certain rules in their presence and act 'naughty'. At which point you may have to put them down because once they develop a taste for human flesh after biting you in anger they wont eat anything else.

In a bizarre attempt at trying to get the town reimbursed for the loss of it's herds, the boy's father attempts to bribe the Americans only to learn they've unearthed a gigantic horned Santa, who has assumed mental control of the elves and commanded them to thaw him out of his prison and kidnap all the local kids for a snack. So on the one hand you have a traditional dark fairy tale involving Christmas and small kids, and on the other you have an ancient entity imprisoned in an isolated place because it couldn't be killed, that even in it's sleep has mental control over a servitor race of which it may be the progenitor (there appear to be no female elves). Sounds like familiar territory, especially with the inclusion of the 'goat' moniker.

The film may be better suited for Mythos fans than traditional horror fans. It was marketed as a film starring a demonic serial killer Santa Claus, somewhere between a horror movie and possibly an action film. It's neither. It's more of a comedy. Keeping in mind that Finn humor tends to be very dry and somewhat dark, it easily escapes the attention of most Western audiences who are used to less subtlety. The end scene where the town figures out what to do with the 'new' race of potentially homicidal anthropoids in their vicinity, and simultaneously find a way to save themselves financially inspires the films title, and is good for a chuckle. It would be like solving the Innsmouth problem by marketing the Deep Ones as pool boys. Traditional American horror fans will be disappointed as there is very little gore, and while nudity is common enough it's grumpy old man-elf nudity. Which is to say, not pretty. There are no women in this film (and I keep feeling there's a reason why, but I've somehow missed the joke).

Overall it's pretty good. The cgi isn't always as polished as it could be, and it focuses on story so it will feel slow moving to the impatient, but there's nothing else I've watched quite like it.

Also if you get the blu ray dvd, there's a hidden easter egg recipe for nummy ginger bread cookies. Make sure to look for it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Arkham Studios presents: The Mad Arab Abdul al Hazred...



Anyone with an interest in Lovecraftian cinema is probably aware of whom Bryan Moore is, or at the very least, is aware of his work which is released through the Arkham Studios banner. Bryan's Legrasse Cthulhu Idol can be seen in the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's film, The Call of Cthulhu, and his Lovecraft statue has been handed out, as the Howie award, for years at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in both Portland, Oregon and San Pedro, California. His Lovecraft statue is, I think, the ultimate representation of H.P. Lovecraft, and I never tire of looking at the one that adorns my desk...

Bryan's other work includes statues of Edgar Allan Poe (check out the images of Jeffrey Combs and Stuart Gordon with the Edgar Allan Poe statue at a Nevermore performance in Los Angeles above and below), Brown Jenkin (also given out as an award at the HPLFF), Aleister Crowley, Anton Szandor LaVey and his latest work, the Mad Arab Abdul al Hazred...


Anyone interested in learning more about Bryan's work can visit the official Arkham Studios site here, and be sure to like Arkham Studios on facebook...

Order information for the Mad Arab Abdul al Hazred can be found below...

In 738: AD on the Yemen border, the legendary Mad Arab poet Abdul al Hazred was torn apart in broad daylight by invisible forces in front of a crowd of horrified onlookers.

His crime? Penning the dreaded and unspeakable tome, the Necronomicon.

One of HP Lovecraft's most enduring creations, Arkham Studios presents the Mad Arab himself nervously clutching the chained up Necronomicon and glancing over his shoulder in apprehension of the horrors to come.

The bust stands 10 inches tall and is finished in Arkham Studios traditional bronze rub over sturdy polymer resin.

Whether you put him on a bookshelf next to your own Lovecraft volumes, ritual chamber or next to our other Lovecraftian figures, this bust of the legendary poet of darkness will be sure to conjure up all things dark and dangerous………

Price: $200.00
Shipping: $20.00

Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery


(Thanks to Bryan Moore)

Dead Shadows creature comes out of hiding...


Production has wrapped on David Cholewa's Dead Shadows and a new batch of images have hit the official facebook page, including the creature shot below! Click the link for more behind-the-scenes images and production stills...

About the film: Chris is a young man whose parents were brutally killed 11 years ago, on the same day Halley's Comet could be seen from earth. Tonight a new comet is going to appear, and everyone in his building is getting ready for a party to celebrate the event. There's even an apocalypse theory going around. As the night falls, Chris starts to discover that people are acting strange - and it seems to somehow be connected to the comet. People are becoming disoriented and violent, and it doesn't take long before they start mutating into something from beyond this world. In a fight for survival, Chris has to try to escape from his building with the help from some other tenants - but will they make it out alive?


(Thanks to Steve Hergina and Dread Central)

Contained Officially Released Online!


For Immediate Release:


Contained, the award winning short film from director Woodruff Laputka, has officially been released online.

Shot and produced in 48 Hours, Contained is the story of, Hope, a young woman living in an inner-city apartment building who picks up the slack of her ailing superintendent father. Longing for a better life far away from the confines of the old apartment building, and from the idiosyncrasies of her oddly eccentric tenants, she befriends an old man who entrusts to her the delivery of a strange, mysterious box. Unsure of the box's contents, Hope needs only remember the old man’s one request: "The box must not be opened…"

To view the film, or for more information, click here.

copyright, Laputka Films 2011. All Rights Reserved.

(Thanks to Woodruff Laputka)

Lost Land Selected for 2011 Anchorage Int. Film Festival


For Immediate Release:


Lost Land, the short film from director Woodruff Laputka, has been selected for competition in the Anchorage International Film Festival.

Lost Land follows, Carter, a bewildered asylum patient in the 1930's, who seeks the source of a mysterious call from his distant, long buried past. As Carter digs deeper and deeper, however, he discovers that some memories are best left buried.

Inspired by the work of H.P Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood comes this tale of lost souls, eldritch powers and the madness of horrors long forgotten.

The Anchorage International Film Festival takes place December 2nd – December 11th in Anchorage, Alaska. More information regarding the festival can be found here.

You can also view Lost Land online by visiting the Laputka Films Production Portfolio's Narrative section.

(Thanks to Woodruff Laputka)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Monsterpalooza Magazine now available...


For Immediate Release:


MONSTERPALOOZA MAGAZINE NOW AVAILABLE!

The premiere issue of Monsterpalooza Magazine, named after Eliot Brodsky's Monsterpalooza Convention held annually in Burbank, California, is now available and ready to order direct from the publisher! Monsterpalooza Magazine brings you the best of classic and modern horror, fantasy and science fiction, in film, literature, media, art, illustration, make-up and sculpture, in its glossy print pages! 96 glorious pages—advertisement free! All killer! NO filler!

WHAT: MONSTERPALOOZA MAGAZINE
No. 1, Autumn 2011. Published quarterly. $9.95 (plus S&H) Order direct from www.monsterpaloozamag.com

WHO: MONSTERPALOOZA MAGAZINE is published and edited by Michael Heisler and Mark Redfield. The cover art is by Jeff Preston. Writers in the premiere issue include Jeff Baham, Raymond Castile, Frank Dietz, Scott Essman, Pierre Fournier, David Gerrold, Daniel Griffith, Matt Lake, Sean Paul Murphy, Ted Newsom, Joe Nazzaro, Mark Redfield, Gary Don Rhodes, and Anthony Taylor.

WHAT'S INSIDE THE PREMIERE ISSUE: Packed inside its 96 ad-free pages is Pierre Fournier's story Dare You See It?, on the 80th Anniversary of the 1931 Frankenstein; David Gerrold (Star Trek, The Trouble With Tribbles) launches his regular column State of the Art; Anthony Taylor interviews sculptor Mike Hill; Ted Newsom contributed an in-depth career overview of the late Jimmy Sangster and his Hammer Film output; Joe Nazzaro honors the work of make-up maestro John Chambers; Jeff Baham (DoomBuggies) gives us the inside scoop on the creation of Disneyland's The Haunted Mansion; Raymond Castile takes us to St Louis for a report on the Vincentennial; Mark Redfield and Scott Essman pay tribute to Lon Chaney and Jack Pierce, respectively; and much, MUCH MORE!

THE STORY: MONSTERPALOOZA MAGAZINE launched in October, 2011 and is available now. Published and edited by Michael Heisler and Mark Redfield (through Redfield's company Damfino Media), Monsterpalooza Magazine is published quarterly, with the second issue out in January, 2012.

Named after the fabulous Monsterpalooza Convention held each Spring in Burbank, California produced by Eliot Brodsky, Heisler and Redfield, after considering several names for their new print 'zine, approached Brodsky with the idea of naming it after his convention, and a deal was struck, happily for all. Monsterpalooza Magazine captures the spirit of creation and creators in celebrating all things fantastic in the seven arts, and the magazine brings you the best of classic and modern horror, fantasy and science fiction, in film, literature, media, art, illustration, make-up and sculpture, in its glossy print pages.

Order your copy of Monsterpalooza Magazine #1—made with loving care—with in-depth writing and vibrant illustrations and photos—at www.monsterpaloozamag.com today!

(Thanks to Mark Redfield)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ravings: Two Trios of Terror...


For Immediate Release:

Ravings: Two Trios of Terror Dates: October 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 at 8pm

A night of six horror stories by two of the best writers of the genre, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe.

This presentation will mix readings, acted scenes, projected media, special effects and dance bringing together the talents of Art Director- David Butler; composer/sound designer-David Kane (both originators of the event) with director- Tim Newell and choreographer- Amy Taravella.

Ravings: Two Trios of Terror includes the following stories:

From the Beyond - The tale of a man returning to his desperate friend's attic laboratory where his mad machine rips open the veil between our world of reality and the world of terrible, dangerous and carnivorous things.

The Beast in the Cave - While touring an underground cavern a visitor wanders off and finds herself lost in total darkness, she soon senses the approach of something menacing and inhuman.

What the Moon Brings – This lush poetic narrative weaves a vivid vision of moonlit gardens, and the weird sea, below whose surface reveals an enticing ghastly city of the undead.

The Picture in the House - A genealogist exploring the back woods and farm lands of New England, finds himself taking shelter in a seemingly abandoned house full of strange literature and secrets beyond any horror he could imagine.

The Music of Erich Zann – A restless student of Metaphysics makes the acquaintance of a gaunt and queer viol player, and finds, to his horror, the purpose of the player's late night weird and increasingly intense music and its connection to the chill breeze and rattling shutters of the window.

The Cask of Amontillado – this classic tale of Poe, takes us through the slow and methodical revenge on Fortunato whose arrogance and love of wine leads him to his unforgettable and horrible demise.

Cast: Anthony Alcocer, Kay Kerimian, Nicholas Lama, Scott Malkovsky, Aaron Piepszny and Linda Stein.

Design team: Zach Serafin as Set Designer, Derek Heckler as Lighting Designer, Leigha Weeks as Costume Designer, and Seth Tyler Black as Media Designer. Puppet design & construction by David Butler.

Tickets:$16 for general admission and $12 for students, seniors and military.

Click here for more...


(Thanks to alttheatre.com)

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Rats in the Walls...


For Immediate Release:

Join The Four Winds Collective as we explore and adapt an early short story by one of Gothic Horror's greatest writers: H. P. Lovecraft.

Using Samuel Stong's House built in 1855 at the historic Black Creek Pioneer Village, The Rats in the Walls is a sight specific experimentation of madness, familial bonds and the mystery of the unknown. As a man known only as de la Poer reclaims the seat of his ancestry he uncovers the hidden truths of what drove his family to abandon it in the first place.


The Rats in the Walls


Written by H. P. Lovecraft


Adapted for the stage and performed by Peter Counter and Andrew Gaboury


Directed by Carla Johnston


October 21st & 28th

7PM + 9PM

$10 at the door.


For ticket reservations please send a note with your name and the # of tickets desired to info@fourwindscollective.com


Black Creek Pioneer Village:

1000 Murray Ross Parkway
Toronto, ON 


(Thanks to The Four Winds Collective and Joseph Nanni)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aaron Vanek's epic H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival wrap-up...


On September 17 of this year, the 2nd H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival® wrapped up in San Pedro, California. I was the organizer, and here are my thoughts on the event.

Innsmouth Free Press kindly interviewed me about the festival here. That link explains how the Lovecraft Festival started and my involvement. It also explains, I think, the motivation behind me starting the Los Angeles version.

Sometimes I say it's the San Pedro festival, sometimes Los Angeles. Officially, it's Los Angeles. San Pedro is an area within the Greater LA megapolis, and although SP sometimes acts as if it is a city, it's not. Secession efforts haven't gotten very far, though talk is cheap. San Pedro is part of the residential/commercial support to the giant Port of Los Angeles, which is the busiest container port in the U.S. Few Angelenos know where San Pedro is, much less visit. The exception being passengers on cruise liners and ferries to Catalina.

However, there is a lot of history to the area, which I have only just begun to plumb. The Warner Grand Theatre, home to HPLFF-LA, is a magnificent jewel that I don't think anyone with a shred of love for history will be able to resist admiring. It's a single screen theater with a large stage, a main floor and balcony that seats 1500. It is being lovingly restored, and I hear that it's haunted. Perfect for a Lovecraft festival!

I picked the theater for the surrounding community as well as the building itself. There are friendly pubs, art galleries, costume shops, and mom and pop restaurants nearby. It's Bohemian and reminds me of Portland. This year, the San Pedro community helped with the HPLFF. I was able to partner with the Grand Vision Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to restoration and promotion of the theatre, which allowed me to claim tax-exempt status for sponsor fundraising. They also gave me a great deal on their own annex space, which used to be a hardware store but now functions as a performance and exhibit area. This rental created one of the highlights of the HPLFF-LA—two receptions that book ended the festival.


The first was a VIP reception Friday night before the theater opened. We had food by Small Pleasures Catering and our sponsor, Bowen's Spirits, opened a bar to give everyone a sneak peek of their new whiskey, which should launch later this year or early 2012. Beer and wine was also available. Filmmakers, artists, vendors, authors, press, and anyone who paid for the VIP ticket could mingle together while viewing the amazing miniature set pieces, props, costumes, and other goodies from the movie The Whisperer in Darkness that the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society brought down from their shop in Burbank. The movie is playing around the world, and the DVD will be out soon (if it isn't by the time you read this), but only at the HPLFF-LA were you able to see so much exhibited with such loving detail and care while enjoying complimentary drinks and food. I also decided to show the Lovecraft art slideshow in an anteroom here instead of on screen in the theater, as Portland does. I did this because I wanted to encourage people to shop during our breaks instead of staying put and looking at slides. Artist Russ Lukich also added his life-size sculpture of H.P. Lovecraft near a tentacle-bent light post to the exhibit. It placed very well, with many photographs taken. VIPs were also treated to a swag bag with a Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, a taster bottle of Bowen's whiskey, an 11x17 2011 HPLFF-LA poster by David Milano, an Arkham Asylum badge from the HPLHS, and a Mythos lollipop from Cryptocurium.
The closing night reception was also here on Saturday, right after TWID played. We didn't have food—because catering is VERY expensive—but there was a cash bar; the Bowen's folks had to head home to Bakersfield on Saturday.

I plan on having more receptions at the annex at future festivals.
I also obtained some help in advertising at the very last minute from the San Pedro Business Improvement district, which allowed me to advertise on the Los Angeles Times online, plus Facebook and two indie papers, the LA Weekly and OC Weekly. With their help, I expect to spread the word of the fest wider next year.

The Whale & Ale Victorian-styled pub stayed open late for us on Friday night, and Williams Bookstore, which has been in business 100 years, hosted the Saturday afternoon Lovecraft author reading and discussion, with Cody Goodfellow, Ted E. Grau, Denise Dumars, Michael Tice, Jenna Pitman, and screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner. The space wasn't quite conducive to it, so we'll likely move it to the annex next year—I expect the authors will be pleased that there will be alcohol available at their event.


I was thrilled to see the San Pedro community turn out to enjoy the Festival and invite and encourage us back for next year.

Total attendance was 511, which exceeds my expectations. The festival was split over two days, Friday and Saturday, so we didn't have that full crowd both days. But we still have a ways to go before we sell out the place. There are pros and cons to using a one-screen theater: although I can't show as much material as the Portland HPLFF, I enjoy giving everyone a chance to see everything. Portland has grown so much that for the last four or five years, there was always some movie or panel that I could not make. I didn't book the Warner Grand because it was a single screen, but a side effect of having it is that everyone can enjoy the movies together. But...

I didn't have any wiggle room in the programming this year. The festival officially ran from 7pm to midnight on Friday, and 4pm to midnight on Saturday. That's 13 hours. I didn't want to start any sooner for two reasons: didn't want to pay theater staff overtime costs and didn't want to run into issues with parking. The meters around the theatre are two hours max, but free after 6pm. At worst, an attendee this year would pay for parking for two hours on Saturday (or longer if they go to the author reading), but wouldn't have to run out to feed the meter in the middle of the movie, something that happened in 2010.

To filling those thirteen hours, The Whisperer in Darkness was a definite yes, as was the shorts block, especially when Guillermo del Toro agreed to judge it, a nice consolation to his inability to attend (but I'll keep inviting him). HPLFF founder Andrew Migliore recommended HBO's Cast a Deadly Spell, 2011 being the movie's 20th anniversary. Additionally, screenwriter Joseph Dougherty and one of the actors, Peter Allas, were able to attend. Andrew also wanted to give the Howie award to Roger Corman for many years. Since I interned for Roger years ago, I contacted the office and invited him down. He agreed, but had to cancel at the last minute due to a troubled production. With Corman attached, I chose to screen The Haunted Palace, and we now had three features. I have long wanted to see Berkeley Square, the 1933 movie that Lovecraft watched multiple times and inspired him to write "The Shadow Out of Time". I'll explain how I got the print later, but once I booked it, more than half of the 13 hours were spoken for. I'm also a huge fan of the BBC short Whistle and I'll Come to You, based on the M.R. James tale. It was 45 minutes, so I wanted that one to play as well. Given breaks and Q&A times, raffles, awards, that only left about two hours, so I squeezed in La Sombra Prohibida, a new Lovecraft-ish movie from Spain. Sadly, that was the same slot that Die Farbe was slated to play, and I had the tragic duty of turning Die Farbe director Huan Vu to Portland. I had two reasons for doing this: first, I wanted a newer, more Hollywood movie in the docket, just to show the breadth of Lovecraft's influence (ironically, Universal Pictures distributed La Sombra Prohibida, the same studio that turned Guillermo del Toro down for At the Mountains of Madness), and second, I thought a Spanish language film would play better in Los Angeles than a German-language one. I am positive that there are people reading this that would have preferred to see Die Farbe, but I can't regret it. It's extremely difficult to select what plays and what doesn't, especially with 13 hours. One of the fiercest complaints I heard was that there wasn't enough time for socializing and shopping, so perhaps I shouldn't have shown either foreign film—but again, I want to show the global take on Lovecraft. I spent many hours looking at the programming options, but no clear solution presented itself to me.


The vendors were great, and my greatest worry—that someone would be upset that had to sell upstairs—never occurred (or I didn't hear about it). However, there is an upstairs problem: there are no doors to the balcony seats, so conversations would echo into the screening area. I spent a lot of time shushing people, which I didn't like doing, but I also heard a half-dozen complaints from attendees trying to watch the movies. That was probably the biggest problem we had next to a tight schedule.

The picture and sound for all the movies was, I felt, outstanding. We were leagues better than last year, and I can't imagine a better way to see and hear the Lovecraft movies than what we did at the festival, which was flawless (thanks Blake, Dave, Joe).

For the shorts block, there was also some shoving of pictures to get in. I relegated 90 minutes for shorts, but the fewer minutes I had, the more minutes I could put into breaks. There was one longer short I really liked and wanted to show, but lobbying from Migliore bumped my #1 pick to include my #2 and #3 picks. It balanced out, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. Going to my second and third choices for shorts instead of my first also meant I got another six minutes for a break. Whee!

Guillermo ended up picking two short films as winners: Static Aeons and The Raven. This screwed up my award-statuettes, because I only had three Brown Jenkins (crafted by Bryan Moore): one was going to be for best short, one for best feature, and one for best screenplay. It was too late to get another one, as Moore has relocated to Iowa and was still unpacking. I was wringing my hands until the last minute, when Migliore saved the day by volunteering one of his Deep One statuettes (made by Kevin Jones), which are the proper awards for the screenplay contest. That was FedEx'd to me, so the Jenkins went to the two shorts and The Whisperer in Darkness. Bill Barnett won the Deep One for his script, "The Old Man and the Box", a touching, haunting featurette using R.W. Chambers' King in Yellow tales for inspiration. It was a close competition between Bill's and "Death Wind", a feature by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto.


Money wise we did a tad better than break even, which isn't bad for the second year.

Although overall I think the 2011 HPLFF-LA would get a B+ or A- from most attendees, there were for me two big successes at the 2011 HPLFF-LA.

First was screening Berkeley Square. Here's how that happened. I've always wanted to play it, so first I had to find a copy. A friend managed to find the oft-copied bootleg DVD version, which is floating around bit-torrent and other sites. I saw it but the quality was shabby. Plus, I wanted the rights to screen it legally. As you might know, you have to pay the copyright holder of a movie whenever you screen it publicly, especially if you are charging for tickets. My hope was that there was a 35mm print somewhere, and if I went for the exhibition rights, I'd also find a print. There apparently was one in the 70's, according to the Wikipedia entry on lost films.

First stop: a friend of mine who used to work at MGM's DVD division. She sent me over to a contact of hers at Fox, the original rights holder, who sent me along to Criterion Pictures, the current exhibitor rights holder. Criterion and I went back and forth; I was talking to an accountant. They would grant the screening rights for 30% of box office sales against an advance of $375. That was higher than any of the other screening rights I paid for, so I negotiated that down to a reasonable fee. Then the accountant asked what I was screening, because Criterion didn't have a print. I said the DVD. There was a long pause before he sternly informed me that I couldn't screen something that was bootlegged. This pissed me off, as I was so close. Fortunately I run on rage, so immediately after that phone call I went hunted for a print of Berkeley Square. I didn't find one that day, but I did find the Frank Lloyd Films website, run by the famous director's grandkids. I contacted them and they were very generous in giving me details about their grandfather's favorite film. They also offered a few tips on where to find a print, but those didn't pan out.
I know of two film archives, my alma mater's (UCLA), and the Academy Film Archive. I tried both of them, leaving desperate emails or skipping through automated voice mail systems until I reached a living being. UCLA didn't have one and the Academy pointed me to the DVD versions. However, UCLA mentioned a Usenet board for film archivists and preservationists and said I could post publicly to see if anyone knew of a print. I had to register to do that, which took far longer than it should have to get approved. I finally sent my request to Web 1.0. About 24 hours later, I received an email from the same Academy contact I was talking to, who wrote: "I see that you were actually looking for a print of the film for a screening. You had emailed me about a week ago asking about a copy and I had assumed that you were seeking a copy for research purposes. We do actually have a new print of this title from a recent preservation. Sadly, we require at least four weeks notice for print loans and for theatres to be approved ahead of time for screenings."


I frantically looked at the calendar, and realized that the festival was four weeks and three days away. I hit my afterburners and started jumping through hoops to get that new, restored print. There are many requirements for the Academy Film Archive to loan a print, one of the main ones being a complete report on the theater showing it and the projectionist handling it. Luckily Lee Sweet, the manager at the Warner Grand, is an expert at bureaucracy and quickly turned the paperwork around as fast as I did. I added the Academy to the insurance contract, contacted Frank Lloyd's grandkids, and also dangled my non-profit partnership and exhibition rights via Criterion before the AFA. It was a close, tight week, but they finally agreed to loan it out. The next day, this same contact wrote something to the effect of "I have to check with my boss to make sure no one else booked it for that weekend. He won't be back for another week." But by that point, I knew I won. When I told Blake, the film fanatic who helped run projection, that I had a brand new never-before-screened restored print of Berkeley Square on loan from the Academy Film Archive, he summed up my victory: "Holy fuck!"
It was special to have Berkeley Square's director's grandson, Christopher Gray, in a tuxedo to introduce the movie. I then read H.P. Lovecraft's review of the movie from his letter to J. Vernon Shea in 1934 (in Selected Letters, vol. III). There's a story in that, too, because I left the copy of the text from the book, given to me by Mike Tice, at home. Thus a crazy series of phone calls to Mike's wife and a detour from picking up Die Farbe director Huan Vu from the airport by one of my generous minions, Brady, and the book was in my hands about an hour before I needed it. It was a hassle that I caused, but I felt that the screening, the first in decades, required Lovecraft's words. After I finished reading and thanking the Archive, the lights dimmed and the audience got a very rare treat: a 1933 speculative fiction movie seen in a restored 1931 art deco theater—much as I like to imagine Lovecraft himself saw it. Unfortunately, I had to run around and manage other things while it played, so I only caught about 15 minutes of it.


The second success of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival®-Los Angeles 2011 was the joy apparent on fest founder Andrew Migliore's face. Frequent visitors to the Portland festival probably recognize the furrowed look of consternation and stress on Andrew's face, which in recent years became the tired look of resignation. Knowing first-hand how difficult it is to run a film festival; I'm awed by Andrew's ability to do it for fifteen consecutive years. Having known him since before the fest started, I've had a front row seat on the 50-yard line for each trial and triumph the HPLFF and Andrew has faced, from devastating thefts (two) and family tragedies to the delightful birth of his son, Vincent, and the rise and fall of Silver Key Media and Lurker Films.

It's my belief that Andrew started the festival to indulge in one of his favorite past times: watching weird, bizarre, bad, and unbelievably awesome movies with friends and soon-to-be-friends. But with success comes sacrifice and in these later years Andrew was running a business, consequently the delight that fueled the business dwindled. Rarely, if ever, was he able to sit in a seat and watch the picture with all of us. There's always something else to do during the fest.

So one of my proudest moments this year was when Andrew called me late Friday morning from his hotel (the Crowne Plaza, a few blocks away from the Warner Grand) and asked if I needed help setting up. Of course I did, but I said I'd get in touch with him once I got there, that he should instead relax and I'll touch base in a few hours. I arrived at the annex and immediately set to work setting other people to work, as well as myself. I forgot about everything except getting the vendor tables set up, the art show working, the swag bags stuffed with goodies, the projection prepped, the green room stocked with sundries, or any of the other details needed to pull off a festival. I didn't see Andrew until about 4pm, an hour before the VIP reception began. He again offered to help, but I turned him to the bar. After fifteen years I didn't want him to have to worry about anything. The only request I had was to help present the screenplay and filmmaker awards on Saturday night. Other than that, Andrew could mingle, chat, drink a beer, eat popcorn, or watch movies secure in the fact that I had everything under control (barely). Every time I caught a glimpse of him through my own stress-pinched face, he was smiling and laughing, nary a worry visible. Andrew told me a few times how proud he was with the Los Angeles H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival®, but he didn't need to. Seeing him enjoy himself again was reward enough.


I missed the 2011 Portland festival in October, as I am taking the rest of this year off. But I know the HPLFF's HQ is in good hands with Brian and Gwen Callahan, who were also invaluable to me. I look forward to seeing them again in May when the full Portland festival will be up and running, and I invite everyone to come to San Pedro in September to see what we can do for 2012.

For more reports of the 2011 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival® in Los Angeles:


To see Guillermo del Toro's video announcing the short film winners: http://youtu.be/zqLhj0J8K7U (subscribe to the channel as well)

Be sure to "like" the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter at HPLC_Fest

(Thanks to Aaron Vanek)