Delve Deeper

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)

New Goodies

Lord Bassington-Bassington mentions in his blog that Kim Holm will shortly be releasing a graphic novel adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's story 'Pickman's Model' (and also links to where it can be read online for those of you unable to immediately pick it up on release).


IDW Comics has announced a sequel to last years Infestation crossover, in which a supernatural threat ran simultaneously through several of their comics. This year the threat is the Old Ones, and they'll be invading Transformers, DND: Eberron, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, as well as a one shot featuring Bat Boy from the Weekly World News and Archibald from Groom Lake. I thank goodness I'm not the editor in charge of continuity for this...They will also be releasing a comic adaptation of the Dunwich Horror.


This month Fall River releases H.P. Lovecraft Goes to the Movies, a historical retrospective of films based on Lovecrafts works. It picks a handful of Lovecrafts stories, and proceeds to discuss each (as well as the films inspired by it) one at a time.

The Orphan Palace.............. .your room is ready




Chomu Press has released my new novel THE ORPHAN PALACE.
And what is it you ask?


It is
NOT Sugar & Spice & everYthing nice . . .
Here is a ‘Route 66′ synopsis in exactly 66 words:
“Cardigan heads east through the night-bleak cities of America. His destination? Zimms County Home for Orphaned Children, the palace of dementia where Dr. Archer, ‘Lord of Chaos’, evilly presides – a trap baited with memories. Fires blaze in the rear-view mirror. On the roadside, ghosts, bounty hunters, mermen, Ghoul Hotels. Will D’if, the talking rat, help Cardigan escape this maze, or do all roads lead to madness?”


And here are the blurbs of two highly-respected weird fiction authors:

“Joe Pulver is like the answer to some arcane riddle: What do you get when you cross one of Plato’s Muse-maddened poets with a Lovecraftian lunatic, and then give their offspring to be raised by Raymond Chandler and a band of Beats? His work caters to a literary hunger you didn’t even know you had, and does it darkly and deliciously.” - Matt Cardin
The Orphan Palace kicks you in the face and doesn’t stop. Pulver’s prose sees the world through a cracked lense of 60’s hedonism and 70’s grit, with a side order of unshakable terror. A serial killer novel that explores the dark side of America via Kerouac in a shell of cosmic horror. What he does is electrifying. I’ve never seen anything like it. My hair is still standing on end.” - Simon Strantzas
And you can sign up [until NOV 2] to enter the "Prize Draw for uniquely inscribed copy of The Orphan Palace". Where?

http://chomupress.com/news/the-orphan-palace-a-road-trip-to-madness/

And what do you get?
                                        The CP “contest ed” will contain –
          postcard(s) [with a note~.S.~] from Carcosa East

                                                                              signed & dated{RIP}
an unpublished poem/tExt;;;; or 2 . ?. ?.

                                  a “few” special annotationS sprinkled here & there . . {in REDink? ??}.

a drawing of a RAT [this is good for a laugh as P’ull-yverre can’t draw! !!]

                                                                                         an illo of a bEastie [see above]
a TOP bookmark [one of only 25 made]
                                          a "selections" from the TOP "SOUNDTRACK" CD -- I'll BURN~ ~~ it just for you! !! [Yes, there's a soundtrack for TOP~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Did you have anY d;o..u\b/t? ??]

[& maybe some stickers?/rubber stampings??/
. . . .................. and only CTHULHU knows what the hell else? ??]

Here's the CHOMU PRESS page for THE ORPHAN PALACE

http://chomupress.com/news/the-orphan-palace-a-road-trip-to-madness/

I hope you read it/like it/share it/tell Ma/tell Pa/.............. I hope it bothers you! !!

See you in Carcosa............... .~ ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~.~..
                                                    yer bEastie


http://www.amazon.com/Orphan-Palace-Sr-Joseph-Pulver/dp/1907681116/ref=wl_it_dp_o_npd?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3EQO0NH83VTHU&colid=2F4V4U3J4GAY8

http://www.amazon.com/Orphan-Palace-Sr-Joseph-Pulver/dp/1907681116/ref=wl_it_dp_o_npd?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3EQO0NH83VTHU&colid=2F4V4U3J4GAY8

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Uncle Kitty vs the Thing

Spoony gives a decent, if profanity filled review here.


Obviously both it and this review will contain spoilers. Spoony gets it pretty much right on the money, so be sure to watch his review.

Let's compare the two films shall we?

Atmosphere: The original Thing began with a sense of isolation, which quickly devolved into paranoia, mystery, and a foreboding sense of doom. In the new film you don't feel any isolation at all until maybe halfway through the film. But once the monster escapes, the paranoia has a brief moment before it turns to relying on jump scares, and then devolving into an action film cliche of a badass woman with a flamethrower gunning down aliens in the third act. It's not an exact comparison, but think Alien vs Aliens. One is a horror film, one is a monster/action film. This Thing is not truly a horror film, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead definitely doesn't have the presence of Sigourney Weaver.

The cast: The original film took some critical flack for lack of character development, but personally I think that was undeserved. All of the original actors were veteran character actors, and you could see the personality of their characters in the way they reacted to the situation they were in. In the new film you don't really get a glimpse of the personality of any but three characters, and it's a very shallow glimpse. If you asked me what either of the three were I'd answer by the job title they held in the film, because that's as far as it gets. Hell you don't even know the name of half the Norwegian victims. Whereas in the first film you felt something for the characters, in the new one they quickly get separated into three faceless groups: heavily bearded Norwegian victims, beardless American victims, and lightly bearded pompous Norwegian pricks who deserve what they have happen to them. By the end of the film you aren't even sure what happens to some of them because the monster rampages after the leads and you don't learn of their fates.

The Monster: Hoo boy. In the first film the monster was sneaky, and didn't want to be found. You don't see the monster much, it takes a different form each time, and it's smart. Obviously it learned from this film. Because in this one it takes time to transform, it's loud, and it's a rampaging Hulk. Once it's on screen, it's constantly on screen. And there's less imagination used because it tends to repeat itself when appearing. There's always a giant mouth erupting from someone's body, or placed somewhere on the critter form. Basically, it's dumber, it's slower, it's louder. You can't develop paranoia and suspense when there's a giant freak roaring it's head off crushing things and running about. You always know where it is.

The Setting: In the original there was a storm on the way, and it was apparent going outside was deadly. You don't get that feeling here. People go outside all the time with no repercussion. Also the alien ship is visited. In detail. Because the alien tries to use it to escape (isn't it supposed to be a wreck?). In the original it was established the ship was in a crater because the Norwegians were excavating it with thermite, but in this one it's apparent it's in a crater because the alien fires the ship up melting the ice above it. Also with it being the size of Times Square you'd think someone would have noticed. The American camp for example.

The Effects: There are a few practical effects in this film, and they aren't bad. Don't get used to seeing them. Once the alien is revealed we go cgi, and the cgi varies from being pretty good in the quick cut scenes to absolutely piss poor when it needs to stand out. Once you get to the ship, the Thing basically becomes a cartoon. Granted it's an icky, Lovecraftian inspired cartoon, but it's not scary.

Overall: This was originally intended to be a remake before they made it a prequel, and it shows. It shows really bad. You have newer versions of several scenes from the classic (the autopsy, the failed blood tests, etc), and you have nods to the first film in that they show how some of the Norwegians die but not others (implying deleted scenes). Instead of building characterization and paranoia, the first half is exposition. Some of which is pointless. If you've seen the first movie, you know whats happening. If you haven't, the film has no subtlety, so you don't need it explained. It kind of exists to 'explain' the first one, and only succeeds in demythologizing it. It also mentions a Russian base 50 miles from the Norwegian one, setting up a sequel as you never find out the fate of the female lead (although by all rights she should freeze to death in the snow). Then they tie it to the first film with a scene shown after the credits.

My Impression: This was kind of rushed. The cgi doesn't seem finished in some scenes, you never find out what happens to several Norwegians (implying scenes were cut for time or to keep an R), and there are huge gaping plot holes. It's a mediocre alien monster film. Accent on mediocre. If they'd tightened up the script, and took their time with the effects, and established some characters it could have been great, or at least a worthy sequel to the original. This just feels like they got lazy or ran out of money. So all in all the monster of the film is like a metaphor for the movie itself. It makes an imperfect copy of it's target that doesn't stand up to serious scrutiny. Much of what made the original special is gone, and you are left with only an imperfect copy without the soul of it's predecessor.

Also on a side note, after the boring expositiony bit when the monster is on the loose, this movie is LOUD. At least it was in the theater I saw it in. Avoid sitting near speakers or you will leave deaf.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Guillermo del Toro talks Black Goat and HPLFF winners...


For Immediate Release:

Guest judge Guillermo del Toro announces via the video below, the 2011 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival "Brown Jenkin Short Film Awards" (the award was created by Bryan Moore of Arkham Studios)! The awards were presented by Andrew Migliore and Aaron Vanek at the Grand Warner in San Pedro on September 17, 2011...

Runner up - Black Goat by Joseph Nanni
Co-Winner - Static Aeons by Gib Patterson
Co-Winner - Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven by Don Thiel III & Christopher Saphire

Andrew also gave special consideration to The Shadow of the Unnamable by Sasha Renninger for "Best Short Lovecraft Adaptation"...


(Thanks to Aaron Vanek, Sascha Renninger and Joseph Nanni)

First Devil's Mile still appears...


Back in August we told you about a new Lovecraftian thriller called The Devil's Mile, and now we can tell you that the film has wrapped and the first image has hit the web! Written and directed by Joseph O'Brien, the film stars Maria Del Mar, Casey Hudecki, David Hayter, Samantha Wan, Amanda Joy Lim, Frank Moore, Craig Porritt and Shara Kim. Look for it to be released sometime in 2012...

About the film: A relentlessly-paced hybrid of gritty crime thriller and Lovecraftian supernatural horror, The Devil's Mile follows a trio of kidnappers who take an ill-advised detour en route to deliver their hostages - two teenage girls - to their mysterious and powerful employer. When they accidentally kill one of the girls during a botched escape attempt, their simmering mistrust explodes into shocking violence. But what they thought was their worst case scenario is only the beginning, as they are engulfed by the hellish forces that haunt the road - a road they realize they may never escape. Now captors and captive must fight together to escape the monstrous forces pursuing them and somehow survive, The Devil's Mile...


(Thanks to Dread Central)

Pickman's Models: The Lands of Dream...



As we mentioned back in September, Jason B. Thompson started what has turned into an extremely successful Kickstarter funding drive to turn his out-of-print Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath comic book into a graphic novel, and he's just revealed the latest artwork to be included, an insanely detailed map of H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands! Self-published in the late 90's, the mini series was a 122-page, five-issue all-ages adaptation of Dream-Quest, drawing inspiration from underground comics and classic children's books and the "naive fairy-tale wonder-spirit" that Lovecraft, in his own words, was trying to capture...

The graphic novel will include all five issues along with his adaptations of the Dreamlands stories Celephais, The White Ship and The Strange High House in the Mist! It will also include concept art and the following map of the Dreamlands, 176 pages in all...

Check out the image below, and head over to Kickstarter for more info...


(Thanks to Jason Thompson)

The latest issue of Strange Aeons is out now...


There are very few magazines worth waiting by the mailbox, or dimensional doorway, for, but Strange Aeons is definitely one of them! Featuring a gorgeous cover by Mike Dubisch, Strange Aeons Magazine #7 is 52 pages of amazing B&W and color comics by Rob Corless (Hell Dorado), Lee Davis (Bloodworm), Vincent Ferrante (Witch Hunter and the Harbour Master of Innsmouth), and Tim Sparvero (What the Moon Brings), and short fiction by S. G. Browne and Robert M. Price, accompanied by illustrations by Ben Hansen and Nick Gucker. The magazine also includes book and game reviews, an artist spotlight, an exclusive ruleset for Strange Aeons, the eldritch miniature game, and the latest limited edition 'Lost Lovecraft Film' mini movie poster replica...

Pick up your copy through the official site here, or ask your local comic book retailer to carry it...


(Thanks to Kelly Young)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The 2011 Portland H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival Wrap-Up, Part Two

(From Plan D: The Official Website of Derek M. Koch)


The second day of the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival started the same way - a gathering at Magnolia's beforehand (this time for a scheduled reading with author Jenna M. Pitman that I missed out on as I ended up writing a bit myself while waiting outside the Hollywood - hey, when the muse calls, one must answer!), a long line forming in front of the Hollywood and another sold out night.

The Shorts Block began with a repeat showing of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" before a recorded message from Roger Corman as he was presented with this year's Howie Award for his contribution to Lovecraft cinema. He told an abbreviated story of the events that led to his 1963 film The Haunted Palace being promoted as an Edgar Allen Poe film upon its initial release even though it's clearly derived from the original Lovecraft story "The Cast of Charles Dexter Ward." (A lot of this was also covered in the special feature A Change of Poe from the DVD release of The Haunted Palace.) The short films included:

The Window Into Time (dir. Thomas Nicol) - This was one of my personal favorites of the festival. William Kephart plays Dr. Schenker, a scientist working with an old classmate . . . in a lab . . . studying old formulas and old books . . . with conequences involving an encounter with things from another world. This is a period piece, set sometime within the past forty-or-so years (in the days of reel-to-reel personal tape recording), and handles this period setting gracefully. It's not over-the-top in design or performance. It easily could have been a film that's been locked away somewhere for the past forty years and just recently dusted off for the festival.

Haselwurm (dir. Eugenio Vallani) - This was interesting, had some good-looking monster effects, but ultimately I think will suffer with most American audiences. It's steeped deep with a "rural legend" story of Italy by way of Lovecraft, and while I don't have a problem with foreign films, I feel Haselwurm short 16-minute running time didn't give us enough time to bridge the culture gap.

Black Goat (dir. Joseph Nanni) - This short was slick, it looked good, it "felt" good . . . but it was a little empty. The HPLFF program included a synopsis for each of the shorts, and the blurb about Black Goat gave us more story than the film itself did. What ended up on screen felt like the opening of a longer film I'd LOVE to watch, but it ended just as it was getting good! The film's website - http://blackgoat.ca - tells us there's a feature on the way, and if it's as engaging as this taste was, it should be good! (I just wish there was something in this short proper to indicate that it actually was just a teaser!)

The Island (dir. Nathan Fisher) - Less Lovecraftian and more post-apocalyptic, The Island tells the story of a man who's managed to find a bomb shelter while the rest of the world struggles to survive in a world overrun by . . . something. It's never quite explained, and that's okay, because that's not what the story's about. The story is about how this man reacts when a woman comes banging on his door for help . . . and how she reacts when he doesn't turn out to be the hero she was expecting . . . and then how he deals with that!

Static Aeons (dir. Gib Patterson) - There didn't seem to be a lot of animation this year. There were the stop-motion pieces, Call of Nature and this one. With most animation, it's possible to put anything on screen ; there aren't any real-world budgetary restrictions. What's interesting here is that Patterson didn't let this "anything goes" approach creep into Static Aeons. The short is a series of images depicting an empty earth after the worst of Lovecraft's bestiary has had its way with humanity while a single narrator provides an epitaph for all mankind. It's a restrained bit of storytelling that left the audience with a sense of dread.

Shadow of the Unnamable (dir. Sascha Renninger) - I remember seeing a trailer for this years ago. It's a rather straight-forward telling of "The Unnamable" whose strength lies in the performance of Robert Lyons as Carter. As it's fairly accepted that Randolph Carter was Lovecraft's surrogate, Lyons brings a sense of odd to his portrayal that made this short enjoyable.

The Shorts Block ended with a recorded announcement from Guillermo Del Toro who chose Static Aeons and Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" as his favorites. After one final stroll by the vendors' tables, it was time for the final feature of the night.

"The Colour out of Space" is my favorite Lovecraft story (for now - ask me again in a month or so from now and I might have shuffled something else into the top spot!). It's creepy, it's evocative, it's distrubing, it's just GOOD . . . which, of course, means Hollywood can't get it right when it comes to trying to adapt the story as a film. (Not that Hollywood's had a stellar record when it comes to bringing Lovecraft to the screen, but that's besides the point!)

(I actually have a soft spot for Die, Monster, Die!, but I will be the first to loudly criticize it for botching the source material! The less said about The Curse, the better . . . )

Die Farbe (dir. Haun Vu) pulled it off. This German production follows American Jonathan Davis (Ingo Heise) as he searched for his missing father in the forests of Germany. His father served in World War II, and Davis' search has brought him to a small village where his father encountered . . . Lovecraftian.

The execution is smart and subtle. The choice to present the film in black-and-white was an inspired one. I overheard Festival Director Brian Callahan telling the director (who was at the festival for a question-and-answer session after the film) that Die Farbe wasn't just "good for an independent film," but that it was "good for any kind of film." I have to agree, and I immediately bought the movie from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society's table after the film.

The festival ended with another after-party at Tony Starlight's (and more of that "Midnight Special: The Legendary Performances" DVD in the background). Old friends ate and drank, and congratulated Brian and Gwen on a job well-done running the festival.

Sure, it's different. There's a different vibe, and I missed having more features, any panels and more vendors (I start saving around mid-summer because I know I'm always going to find something at the festival that needs to come home with me!), but it's still the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, and it was still a lot of fun. The Callahans have a passion for the festival, and it's in good hands.

I'm looking forward to the next go-'round. The Daily Lurker - the festival's newspaper-like program - announced that the next HPLFF will take place in May ("when the stars will be right . . . again!").

I know I'll be there.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Raven trailer debuts on the anniversary of Poe's passing...


Edgar Allan Poe died on this date, October 7, 1849...

The trailer for James McTeigue's forthcoming film The Raven debuted today (check it out below), the 162nd anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's passing. The film, which hits theaters on March 9th, 2012, stars John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Jackson-Cohen...

About the film:
A detective partners with Poe to search for a serial killer who has kidnapped the Poe's fiancee and has gone on a murder spree that mimics the author's work...




(Thanks to Dread Central)

The Elder Sign, and Other Games

The people at Fantasy Flight Games are turning out more Lovecraftian goodies for gamers this month. Aside from the usual stream of new expansions for their Call of Cthulhu LCG, Arkham Horror novels, and Mansions of Madness, they have put out a new game: Elder Sign.

Ostensibly it's a rewrite of Arkham Horror of a sort, in that it's more a card/dice game than a board game. AH fans will recognize many aspects of play, and will take to the rules readily, but it's different enough to require them to learn the new rules set. It's also somewhat less complex will make it easier to teach the little one, and costs less than Arkham Horror. It's for 1-8 players too, so you can do it solitaire.



You may also wish to take a peek on Kickstarter for the Miskatonic School for Girls deck-building game. They're making decent headway on their goal, and the card game looks to be a hilarious take on all things Mythos set in (obviously) a girls school.


And finally on a side note, for those of you whose fandom extends into Kaiju territory, in a month or two you should be able to get Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla vs Megalon on DVD and Blu Ray from Tokyo Shock.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Charles Band announces the release of The Evil Clergyman…


The Holy Grail of Lovecraftian Cinema, the Empire Pictures short film The Evil Clergyman, is finally seeing the light of day according to cult filmmaker Charles Band, and he's released footage of the film to prove it! Produced and directed by Band as part of his Pulse Pounders anthology in 1988, the film is a who's who of Lovecraft film veterans including writer Dennis Paoli (Re-Animator, Dagon), the Re-Animator trio of Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and David Gale (who plays Brown Jenkin, borrowed from Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House), and genre favorite David Warner (The Unnamable, Cast a Deadly Spell). I've asked Charles many times over the years about the film, and he's always said that he would love to release it, but was unable to because of legal issues, but it looks like he's finally found a way to make it happen...

The film will make its debut on FullMoonHorror.com, which launches at 7:00 pm on October 21st, but you can get your first taste of The Evil Clergyman in the clip below! A specific screening date has yet to be announced, but watch this space for details...


(Thanks to Shawn Francis)

The 2011 Portland H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival Wrap-Up, Part One

(From Plan D: The Official Website of Derek M. Koch)


The 2011 Portland H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival has come and gone. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was a smaller event; it only ran two nights and it only ran on one screen at the Hollywood Theatre. Because of this, there were only two feature films shown, and they were SOLID and more than carried the load for a festival typically carrying multiple films. But more on those in a bit.

While some congregated at Magnolia's Corner across the street, the line started forming in front of the Hollywood Theatre as early as 5:00pm on Friday. It quickly became obvious that this was going to be a crowded event. When the doors opened at 6:00pm, the lobby of the Hollywood was flooded with Lurkers eager to visit the vendors' tables, hit the concessions bar, and make their way to a seat in front of the main screen.

A fez-topped Andrew Migliore took the stage to welcome us, and then quickly turned the show over the new keepers of the eldritch flame that is the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival - Brian and Gwen Callahan. After a quick welcome, introduction and Mi-Go-Brain-Canister-in-the-Ladies-Bathroom joke, the movies rolled.

Rick Tillman's Call of Nature started the Shorts Block. It was short, sweet, to the point, and got some laughs with its animated Cthulhu. Other shorts I saw that night included:

Flush With Fear (dir. Christopher G. Moore) - This was a fun short following a woman escaping her breaking down relationship with a good cry in the bathroom. In the bathroom, she unfortunately makes the mistake of reading some of the graffiti-that-should-not-be-read on the stall walls. Fortunately for us, Moore and company gave us some great visuals and scare moments as a result of that damned graffiti.

Doppleganger and Idle Worship (dir. Theo Stefanski) - These two shorts were nothing but beautiful. These were stop-motion animation pieces featuring a skeleton in some sort of desert wasteland setting either looking for others like him/her/itself (Doppleganger) or searching for something to worship (Idle Worship).

Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven"
(dir. Christopher Saphire) - I should be completely honest. I can watch hours upon hours of Lovecraft-based or -inspired movies, but I really don't enjoy the Poe-movies as much. I get the reason why Poe always has representation at the HPLFF as Poe's influence on Lovecraft is evident, but . . . I, personally, am kind of over it. It's a personal thing. That said, this short, featuring Saphire as a troubled writer, remembering his lost Lenore while a raven taunts and haunts him, was striking. The imagery slowly cycles into a fast-paced nightmare with some stunning cinematography.

Dirty Silverware (dir. Steve Daniels) - I've got a few pieces of mismatched silverware - an odd faux-wood-handled soup spoon, a fork with a plastic stem, etc. - and Dirty Silverware tells us where these pieces of unfortunate utensils come from. Not only are they "dirty," they're also capable of great evil, and this short tells the story of one man who loses more than most would dare to sacrifice to stop this table setting madness.

I had to step out of the theater for the final shorts of the night, but I've heard that Ethereal Chrysalis was amazing.

After the Block and a few minutes to stretch our legs, it was time to settle in for the movie I was most looking forward to seeing at this year's festival - The Whisperer in Darkness (dir. Sean Branney).

I've been a fan of the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society for years. I've snatched up their Dark Adventure Radio CDs, their Prop Collection .pdf CD-ROMs, and have always looked forward to their vendor table at the Festival. Seeing their The Call of Cthulhu on the Hollywood Theatre a few years ago was a fantastic experience, and I know we've all been counting down the days until we could see The Whisperer... at the HPLFF.

It didn't disappoint. Branney's skill as a director are on full display; Troy Sterling Nies' score is his best work yet; Matt Foyer's physical performance reminded me of the best of Dwight Frye while his unique vocal delivery pulled me into the film's story effortlessly. This was an ambitious production, and everyone delivered.

The HPLHS' mission is to create time-period-appropriate-but-modern-audience-acceptable props and materials based on the work of Lovecraft. The Whisperer... is an ideal example of what they do. The movie is presented as a film that could have been produced and released in 1931, the same year the original story "The Whisperer in Darkness" was published, but I'd argue that it would probably be more at home in the mid-30s as films like Frankenstein and especially Dracula were a bit "stage-y." Nies' score is a bit more "full" than the scores from this time period's films, but none of this distracts or detracts from The Whisperer.... In fact, this is one of the strengths of the HPLHS, Sean Branney and co-writer Andrew Leman - they know when to bring just a touch of modern sensibility into their work to make the work accessible to modern audiences. (That's not to cast a negative light on the film at all!)

I really enjoyed The Whisperer in Darkness, and can't wait for it to hit DVD and Blu-ray (and for the score to hit CD!). Yeah, there are a few long stretches and, yeah, there are some changes and expansions made to the original story, but as a film . . . I see it easily becoming one of my favorite Lovecraft adaptations.

The night ended with a Q&A with director Branney and special make-up effects artist Dave Snyder before drinks at the after party at Tony Starlight's Supper Club (where an odd choice to play a "Midnight Special: The Legendary Performances" DVD was made!).

I'll follow-up with a Part Two/Day Two wrap-up later this week.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The ABCs of Death: T is for Termite...


Steve Daniels (Dirt Dauber, Dirty Silverware) is one of the most original filmmakers working in Lovecraftian cinema, and his latest short film, T is for Termite, is no exception! The four minute short, which Steve describes as "in the pulpy spirit of Robert E. Howard's weird, horror western tales", was created for a contest being held by Drafthouse Films, where one lucky filmmaker will join 25 established directors on a feature length horror anthology called The ABCs of Death...

The anthology revolves around deaths surrounding a particular letter of the alphabet, and the top ten films voted on by viewers will then be watched and judged by the 25 filmmakers already participating on the project. The winning filmmaker will become the 26th director and their film will add the "T" to the ABCs of Death...

About the film: T is for Termite is about a crust punk exterminator who has to go into abandoned houses to clear them of unspeakable termite monstrosities...

Check out the film here, courtesy of Drafthouse Films...



(Thanks to Steve Daniels)

You Are My Everything by Edward Lee, review by Steve Hergina


This novella was supposed to be another H.P. Lovecraft short, but I found it to be another Ed Lee "hardcore" story instead. The only resemblance to Lovecraft is that the main character is a writer. It's all about a husband and wife living in the backwoods, and her finding him cheating on her, so in turn she kills him. I'll spare you the details of a "header", because if you’re not sure what it is, well...you really don't want to know. She then meets a writer while in town searching for a tape recorder, because she wants to record a Lovecraftian chant to bring about "things". But other than that, it's a gory, sex filled, short 71 pages, not a story for most Lovecraft fans. Enjoyable to me, but I've been told I'm not normal either, so be forewarned, not for the squeamish.

First look at Dead Shadows...


Production is underway on David Cholewa's Dead Shadows, and the first official images have appeared, via the film's facebook page. The film stars Fabian Wolfrom, Blandine Marmigère, John Fallon, Rurik Salllé and Laurie Cholewa...

Look for the film to hit theaters sometime in 2012...

About the film: Dead Shadows tells the story of a young man named Chris whose parents were brutally killed 11 years ago, on the same day that Halley's comet could be seen from earth. Tonight, a new comet is appearing 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 discovers that people are starting to act strange – and it seems to somehow be connected to the comet. They are becoming disoriented and violent and it doesn't take long before they begin to mutate into something far beyond this world. In a fight for survival, Chris tries to escape from his building with the help of a gun taunting tenant named John – but will they make it out alive?




Monday, October 3, 2011

The Innswich Horror by Edward Lee, review by Steve Hergina


I was very skeptical entering into this novella due to the past H.P. Lovecraft stories Edward Lee's written, but I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly the story flowed. It almost seems like he went more traditional Lovecraft than his usual "hardcore" sex and violence. It definitely has its elements of horror but a serious lack of sex usually apparent in his novels.

Foster Morley decided to take a trip and follow the path of the greatest author of his time Howard Phillips Lovecraft. On his motor coach trip to Salem, they stop in Olmstead, like in The Shadow over Innsmouth. He figures maybe Lovecraft stopped there to write the story itself. He finds the town’s real history by talking with the locals, only to find it is more and more like the novel. Lovecraft, it seems, came up with the whole story from Olmstead, just changing the names and places slightly. Then it is revealed Lovecraft had been there and had taken a picture with one of the locals, a must for this die hard fan. He ventures around rather than traveling to Salem. He opted to scope out the town and tries to visit with the people and places Lovecraft might have been there to experience what Lovecraft had only a few years ago.

He was in town looking for his friend, who had been out looking to locate work during the hard times of the era. His friend was an accountant, by trade, so Morley figured he had found work. The town was rich in an abundance of fishing. Exporting to all the other local towns were nothing for them, even though most were fishing towns, it seems Olmstead had the best fish and the most.

Upon his travels he met Mary, who he fell hard for. As they talked more about Lovecraft and the town, he found out she had eight kids, with a ninth on the way. He heard about her husband running away, and soon realized most every woman in town was pregnant. After much more digging, the more he found out about the town, the more he concluded that Mary needed a stable life, with him of course, so he decides to take her away. Being rich didn't hurt matters either, he could support her and the nine kids better than how they were surviving now. He knew too much about the town and it's past now, the townspeople believed; he had become a liability and couldn't leave now.

This has to be the best Lovecraft story Edward Lee has written yet. His usual "hardcore" style has been tamed but, as I believe, has enough potency to make this a 21st century Lovecraft story.