Sunday, October 31, 2010

Short Fiction: BOG

[Here's a short story I wrote for Halloween. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you are walking by a cranberry bog at night and you hear something strange... run.]

By Michael Gibbons

Andy didn't want to be out in the woods so early. He didn't want to be in the woods at all. It was still dark out, around 4 a.m. on a crisp October morning. The sky was clear of clouds, the air was dry. His breath wafted up into the still morning air like he was an industrial smokestack, up like smog towards the brilliant ceiling of stars and out of sight. He felt out of place in the pre-dawn stillness, an interloper in a strange and foreign natural world. In these woods, however, the time to jack a deer was early in the morning. It wasn't yet shotgun season, but seasons and licenses meant little to Andy. He had to kill something large as soon as possible or...
Or what? He thought. The old lady, if the wrinkled thing in the rags was in fact female, had told him that he absolutely HAD to kill something big and fresh. His life depended on it. More than his life, she had said, he guessed she meant his soul. He had never really been religious, he went to church because it made his mom happy and he basically stopped going once the alcohol and weed kicked in around his Junior year of high school. He never had reason to believe in such things as souls and spirits and God and The Devil, but that was before it happened.
Before it happened. His entire perception of the world and his place in it, everything from the big guy in the sky down to the dirt below his feet was altered after the events of last Saturday night. What he had seen with his own eyes made his worst collegiate acid trips look like a G-Rated family film. He almost wished he had been on drugs so that he could chalk what he saw up to them. He had been a little tipsy beforehand, but as soon as he saw the Blue Man emerge out of the mist in the cranberry bog, he was rendered sober.
The Blue Man, he thought. The name had already taken on the air of a legend in his mind. Capital letters. Big, Important. The mere thought of what he had seen had driven him into a quagmire of fear and anxiety, and ever since that night, he thought of it constantly. He hadn't been doing much sleeping since last Saturday night. His immediate reaction to this trauma was to drink enough whiskey to drown a horse. For all those country songs about drinking to forget and dull the pain, Andy found it didn't work. Even in a besotted state, his mind played the scene over and over like some perverted highlight reel. Like ESPN Sporscenter in the 9th ring of Hell.
Thick mist down in the bog. Andy walking back from the bar, marvelling at how creepy it looked in the moonlight, like something from an old horror movie. Then, the sounds. Gasping. Grunting. Water splashing. He thought maybe it was a deer in rut acting crazy out there. He didn't hear yips and barks, so he ruled out coyotes. He had to see what was making this noise. He creeped down the embankment a bit, hoping that he wasn't making enough noise to alert whatever was out there to his presence. The sounds changed then, the sound of heavy footsteps sloshing through the bog. Towards him. Whatever was out there had two feet. That's when he started to get scared. He ran back up the embankment and looked down. The vague shape of a man, only it wasn't quite right. Drooped over, with long arms swaying by its sides. With each approaching step it became a little bit clearer. More nightmare details to behold. He could tell that it wasn't an ordinary person. He knew that even before it had fully broken through the mist. It had to be at least seven feet tall, even in its drooped over state. Its skin was a shade of grayish blue. Its eyes, those were the worst part of it. It looked right at him and its eyes burned through him, heavy lidded obsidian orbs that twinkled in the moonlight. That's when he screamed. He ran as fast as he could in the direction of his house. He could hear other voices out in the bog, yelling in some bizarre foreign tongue, in cracked, gravelly voices. Their voices seemed to bounce around the inside of his head. No matter how far he ran, they were just as loud. He lost his mind right then...
That's the funny thing about losing your mind, Andy thought later. If you've never lost it, you never know what its like. The comforting blanket of reality that we keep ourselves comfy in ripped away in a second. There was a literal feeling of falling, like the floor below him had given out. The forest became an infinite carnival funhouse, with horrors of unimaginable pain tucked in every shadow. He ran, and screamed until his lungs burned and his eyes shed tears. He didn't feel the pain, however. He was in the cradling arms of extreme shock. His mind still echoed with the voices in that unfamiliar language. Beyond the indescribable nature of the words, the voices themselves did not sound human. They sounded older and stranger than any person he'd ever heard. They sounded mad, too. He got to his house, locked the doors and windows, loaded his shotgun with slugs and proceeded to sit in the dark in the second floor bathroom, which provided the best view of the woods and drank whiskey while staring out the window. He sat there all night, and was only able to get about an hour of sleep once the sun came out the next day. Even in his drunken stupor, he could not relax enough to sleep until the sun was shining. He knew somehow, that whatever The Blue Man was, and whatever was shouting out in the bog, would not come out in the sunshine. Somebody else would have seen it by now, he reckoned.
His life in the ensuing week took a painfully predictable plunge into hell. He couldn't sleep, so he drank. He couldn't go to work drunk, so he was fired. His ex-wife and his two children wondered what had happened to him. She informed him to stop calling her after about the 200th drunken phone call. She threatened to go to the police. She was scared of him already. The marriage had ended badly, he had slapped her and swore at her as she left with the kids to stay at Jeff's house, the man she had been cheating on him with. Andy had a booze problem, and an anger problem. Jeff was a laid back artist, the decision was clear. The kids had been sad, they loved their father, at ages 4 and 6, they were a little too young to have such low opinions of him as their mother did. So when he started calling her, leaving frantic voicemails at 4 a.m. about voices in his head and things he saw in the bog, she was justifiably terrified. He had gone off the deep end. She felt sorry for the children. They might not see their father for a long time.
The worst part of it for him, more than losing his job, his family and his sanity, were the voices. They rattled around in his head all day and night. He blasted music, but they were still there. Even heavy metal couldn't dislodge them. The neighbors were scared, as he looked just as out of control as he was. The cops were called after one drunken night where he had started screaming and breaking things in the house. It was the voices. They made him very mad. The cop that arrived was an old acquantance of Andy's. They had gone to school together. So he went easy on Andy, figuring that it must be living alone in his house and shelling out tons of money in alimony and child support that was driving him to such behavior. That and the fact that he was visibly intoxicated. So he told Andy to drink some water, get some rest and quite down. The cop, Jim Nickerson, was frightened by what he saw in Andy's eyes. He wouldn't be surprised if he had to come out here some night and help clean up Andy's brains after the poor bastard blew them out of his own head.
Around the 7th day of Andy's self-imposed exile and ever strengthening insanity, the old woman arrived at his doorstep. A hunched over thing, dressed in rags, holding itself up with a cane. He peered through the window at it, unable to decide whether to answer the rapping of its cane on the door, or tell it to get lost or to simply hide and pretend that it wasn't there. What the hell, things can't get much worse, he thought as he opened the door.
One milky cataract covered eye glared up at him, and even though it looked blind, he could tell that it was looking at him.
"You need my help," the rag covered thing said in a ragged, dry whisper.
"Uh, excuse me?" He asked.
"I know that you saw them. I can hear their voices in your head."
Andy's face cracked, and his eyes welled up with tears.
"Come in," he said.
The rag thing shambled into his kitchen and sat at the table. Andy poured himself a bourbon, neat, and offered some to it. It obliged and revealed its mouth full of rotten, yellow teeth when it took its first sip.
"I know things. I see things. Not everyone can see me. I have been a part of this town for longer than most people here have been alive. I know about the bog, and about the Kraggs."
"Who are the Kraggs? Are those the.... things I saw?" He asked the question like it pained him.
"No, the things you saw, those things have no name. The Kraggs worship them. The Kraggs are all dead in a sense, but they worship those things still. They are held by a pact stronger than life and death. Nobody but the Kraggs is allowed to see those things from the bog. You are dead, already."
"What the hell do you mean? I'm talking to you, aren't I?"
"Yes, but they have talked to you. The white man was never meant to hear them. They are talking to you right now, I can hear them in your head. They will drive you to your death. It is far worse than a spell, you would never be able to fathom such a thing."
"So, you show up to tell me that these voices of these things with no name will make me kill myself, eh?" His voice rose and slammed his fist as hard as he could into the table, making their whiskey glasses jump.
"TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW! I've wanted to blow my brains out ever since these VOICES got inside my head! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!"
It was silent for a moment as it watched Andy stare at the table, his whole body moving up and down with the rhythm of his quick breaths. His eyes burned with pain and were bright red and glossed over.
"There is only one way to reverse this curse. I am not sure that it will work, but it is the only chance you have. First, you must kill something large. A deer might work..."
Then it told him all the strange and foreign words he was supposed to say, words that sounded oddly familiar to him, where to put the entrails and where to sprinkle the blood and what to do with the heart. He couldn't believe what he was hearing, but he knew that this was his last chance. If he had to go one more day with the damn voices bouncing around in his head, he would end his life. After the thing finished with its speech, he went to get the bottle of whiskey. When he returned to the kitchen, the thing was gone.
He stayed up all night studying his notes, preparing for what he had to do. And here he was, out in the woods, trying to find a nice big deer. He thought for a second about the insane blind corner his life had taken. One minute you're walking home from the bar with a 5 beer buzz, thinking about the hot British woman you had been talking to over your Sam Adams, feeling like an idiot for not getting her number, and the next you are running screaming from seeing something that simply couldn't and shouldn't exist, your head full of voices that belonged not on this planet, let alone in the confines of your skull. It was like getting the floor pulled out from under you, falling into an abyss of madness and confusion.
And there it was. Silent as a ghost, a large 6 point buck seemed to appear in a small clearing not even 30 feet from where he stood. It looked around, snorted, and seemed completely and totally comfortable with itself and its domain. Andy silently offered a prayer of thanks to the deer, raised his shotgun and aimed. The strange and foreign voices in his head seemed to raise in volume and become more excited. As if they could tell that he was about to kill something. His head felt like it was going to explode. His eyes watered and he tried not to cry out in pain. He bit his tongue and pulled the trigger. Time seemed to stop as the voices crescendoed into a wave of evil noise in his head. The buck's eye exploded as the 12 gauge slug tore through its head, spraying brains, blood, eyes and bone fragments for ten feet into the forest. It immediately fell, as did Andy. The voices then faded to a whisper, and even though he could not understand the words, he knew they were commanding him. His conscious thought stopped as he rose up like a marionette puppet, jerky and stiff. He stumbled through the brush, not pushing branches and prickers out of his way. He had cuts all over his face by the time he reached the deer.
His eyes were glazed over as he reached to his waistline and pulled his knife from its scabbard. He held the knife above his head for a moment, then bent down and thrust the knife into the deers belly, ripping downward, towards its crotch. Foul smelling gases rose from the deer, and it made an obscene farting sound as a revolting mixture of food remnants, stomach acids and black blood poured from the jagged incision. Specks of blood spattered Andy's face as he worked, but his expression remained neutral. He pulled the intestines out and they lay steaming in a coil at his feet. He cut out the heart, held it in front of his face for a moment. The voices sounded very excited. He scooped up the entrails and walked toward the bog, leaving the carcass and his shotgun behind.
He walked down the embankment, the entrails dragging behind him through the brush. At one point a coil of intestine snagged itself on a small pine tree sapling. Andy still shuffling ahead, looking very much like a zombie, what with the glazed over eyes, slack expression and gore soaked face. He almost fell as the intestine pulled back on his arm. He grunted and tugged on the rope of intestine until it came free, then continued his perverse morning stroll to the bog.
He stepped into the foot high water and started arranging the intestines atop the cranberry bushes. Once he was finished, he had a circle of about 6 foot circumference made out of the bloody entrails. He stepped into the circle, held the heart above his face and looked toward the sky. Blood dripped from the heart onto his face as he began to chant in a voice that sounded disembodied and nothing like his own. The words were in the same tongue of the voices in his head. But now, it seemed, that those voices had become his voice.
As the blood dripped into his face, he didn't flinch. Great streams of it covered his face as he began squeezing the heart. The incantations began to rise in volume and urgency. A thick fog rose from the bog with incredible speed, billowing and filling the area within seconds. As he continued to shout, or rather, as the voices continued to shout, figures began to approach Andy and his circle from all different directions. The voices finished their bizarre chant and Andy lowered the heart to his mouth, which opened and proceeded to bite into the tissue. Black arterial blood poured down his throat and overflowed from his lips and down his neck. And there it was. The Blue Man. Standing right outside the circle. The voices in his head went silent as its bizarre, oversized eyes cored into Andy's, burning into his brain. It was as if the eyes bored into his consciousness and saw everything in his head. The thing's face remained expressionless, but its eyes glimmered with a hint of a smile.
Andy's consciousness returned and the fear was all encompassing. But he found he could not cry out, he couldn't run, though every impulse in his body told him to flee. He was completely under the control of the Blue Man. It showed him things that were unimaginable, visions of suffering and desperation, evil images of men, women and children dying at its feet, and of other things that no mortal human being could even begin to comprehend. Visions of a void worse than hell, that extended for infinity. Andy began to shake and foam at the mouth, the foam red with deer blood. The things eyes glimmered with a hint of glee as it saw the extreme pain these visions gave Andy. Somehow it spoke to Andy in his mind with words not in human tongue. But Andy could understand.
You will serve. You will join. You will never leave.
The other figures approached the circle, and they all were the same grayish blue color. They looked like they had been human once, natives of this soil from hundreds and thousands of years before. Their black eyes, also oversized and endless, gazed into him, through him.
They all began to speak inside his head in their strange, soulless tongue.
You will serve. You will join. You will never leave.
Andy's mind, which now occupied some small corner of his consciousness realized that this was what the voices had been saying all along, since the night he first saw the Blue Man.
As he shook and gyrated in a frenzy, the old woman who had visited him appeared out of the mist. She cackled and pointed at him. He realized that he was damned, that somehow that woman was in league with these things. As he watched, she changed, her nose, brow and ears growing longer and distended. She became not an old woman, but an old thing, eyes aglow with shimmering yellow light. Her cackling became a roar as the circle of intestines began to glow with white light.
The circle dropped out below Andy, and he stood in air, over a black tunnel that appeared endless and without walls. It was like a hole into another dimension, like someone had just bored through everything in creation with some cosmic drill. The things repeated their chant over and over.
You will serve. You will join. You will never leave.
Then Andy fell. He fell forever, his screams were soundless as air did not exist in his new home. Nor did time, gravity or light, but he still felt like he was falling. The hole into the world closed above him. The only thing that existed still was his soul, his mind was gone, as was vision and hearing. But in that endless blackness, the life that flowed through his veins existed, as did the knowledge that he was a servant, that his energy was feeding something foul and evil against his will. They had shown themselves to him and spoken to him for it was his fate to serve them. And his energy flowed through the Blue Man, and the Old Woman Thing and the Natives, which were members of a lost tribe named the Kraggs, as did the energy of thousands of other beings, all lost spirits serving an endless master, a force more powerful than death.

Orleans Man Missing
Andy MacGowan, an Orleans man who was recently fired from his job at Cape Cod Academy, has been reported missing. His estranged wife, Deborah Hill, told the Times that she has not heard from him for weeks, since he called her and complained to her of "hearing voices." The Orleans Police had been called to his residence on Child's Homestead Road several times recently for noise complaints from his neighbors. One neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous says, "He was getting really crazy. Breaking stuff in his house, drinking all the time, screaming and yelling. It was almost like he was speaking in tongues."
Police are asking for any tips leading to MacGowan's whereabouts and they have not ruled out suicide.
"Andy was a friend of mine, and he was a good guy, if somewhat troubled. If you are reading this, Andy, please contact us and let us know that you are okay so we can stop our search for you," says Officer Jim Nickerson.
MacGowan is 6 feet tall with dark brown hair and sometimes wears a goatee. If you think you have seen him or have any information on his location, please contact the Orleans Police at 508-555-0110.
-Cape Cod Times, October 31st, 2010.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Godfather of Gore

Check out my article about all things Herschell Gordon Lewis over at cinespect: The Godfather of Gore.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

This incredible documentary has its premiere tomorrow night at 9 p.m. on PBS, I highly recommend that you watch it! Check out my review for!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Male Growth Hormone Cinema

Check out my review of 'The Expendables' over at

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Crispin Glover, Live and In Person, New York City, Memorial Day, 2010

This whole marquee was actually just for Crispin, he is now going by "The Father of My Children, The Human Centipede: Crispin Glover".

My girlfriend and I love Crispin Glover. His nervous, awkward, bizarre charm always makes anything that he appears in more fun or more disturbing. From his brilliant, ultra-manic performance in "River's Edge" to his brilliant, ultra-manic dance moves in "Friday the 13th Part IV - The Final Chapter", to his legendary 1987 appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, the man is basically a human highlight real. He'll show up in a huge blockbuster like "Charlie's Angels" and make it way cooler just by smelling the Angel's hair (which we will talk about later.) Beyond his inspired work in movies, both major and indie, he is a truly subversive intellectual and some would even say deranged and/or brilliant artist.

I'd heard about "What Is It?" for years. A crazed art film with a cast made completely of people with developmental disabilities and Crispin. I didn't know how I felt about it. I respected Glover for making movies that nobody else would ever make in Hollywood (or elsewhere, for that matter), but I also wasn't too sure about his approach. If it was exploitative of the actor's conditions, I couldn't support it. If it was just meant to freak people out, still can't really get behind that. I decided I would never really know how I felt until I saw the film.

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend were doing a random google search for Crispin Glover, and there it was: "Crispin Hellion Glover: Appearing Live at the IFC Center, Manhattan to present "What Is It?" and "It Is Fine! Everything is Fine." We both had the day off, so we bought our tickets to see "It Is Fine!". What we got was definitely not what we expected.

A long line on a rainy Manhattan sidewalk on a sweaty Memorial Day, mostly made up of hipsters and artsy looking folk, and strangely enough some extremely drunk frat looking kids. After a long wait, we filed into the theater. The lights go down. A door near the screen opens and I catch the distinct profile of Crispin Glover. Myself and a few others that caught his profile cheer. He shouts "Welcome!" in the dark then proceeds to read six of his art books from giant projections on the screen. They are visually interesting and wild, sometimes funny, sometimes just weird and sometimes scary. This goes on for quite a while. Glover never relents in his dramatic delivery. Shouting, shaking his fists, sweat pouring off of him. He finishes. The crowd cheers, then he shouts 'Enjoy The film!'

The dramatic opening thundering classical music blares and the title credits roll. The first time we see lead character, Paul Baker, played by Steven C. Stewart, he is falling from his wheelchair, his head smacks the institutional linoleum and an old, demented looking woman stares at him. We enter his world as an orderly lifts him back into his chair. He wheels to a room where the theme music starts skipping on a record player and he stares at a picture of what we can assume is his mother.
Stewart had severe cerebral palsy and can't really communicate verbally, though he tries.

This film completely surprised me. At first, I thought it was a sympathetic view of a man with a horrible disease, but I had no idea what I was in for. This turns into a deranged, psycho-sexual serial killer film where the killer in question has severe cerebral palsy. I was incredibly disturbed as the sex killings ramped up. I couldn't help but think that Glover was a completely demented person responsible for one of the most deeply fucked up films I had ever seen. In my heart, I knew that this couldn't just be exploitative trash, but the images are so incredibly strong and deeply disturbing that I couldn't handle it at some points. I haven't covered my eyes at a film since I was 11 at 'Predator 2'. This film actually made me feel sick while I was watching it.

I was actually tempted to leave at the end of the film, but I wanted to see how Glover would explain himself. As the credits ended, Glover jumped up in the still dark theater and yelled 'Any questions?' in a somewhat sardonic tone. Everyone cheered. A Crispin Glover Q and A is more like a Q and then he rambles for about a half hour, then a Q. This technique proved to be excellent, however, because Glover completely explained the entire movie, his philosophy on art and culture, how to be an outsider while still being inside the corporately funded film industry and basically everything else that came into his impressive mind.

Turns out, this film wasn't even Glover's idea. He read the screenplay, written by Steven C. Stewart, the main actor in the film. Glover was impressed and knew that only he could make the film happen. He flew out to Salt Lake City and met with Stewart and a dynamic creative partnership was formed. Once I found this out, I wasn't as offended by the film. Stewart was an intelligent guy, a good writer, and knew exactly what was going on. Not knowing this going into the film makes it incredibly more disturbing, however. So sorry for ruining that brain-fuck for you.

From a strictly male point of view, it makes sense that a man with severe cerebral palsy would write a bunch of sex scenes with beautiful women into a film he was going to star in. It actually would make sense that any guy would write a movie starring himself the same way! Glover said that the original screenplay was 150 pages long and would have basically been a hardcore porn film. They cut the script down to fifty pages, but maintained some of the explicitness of Stewart's screenplay.

Stewart actually died one month after this film was finished. Glover said that Stewart called him one day and asked him if he was needed for the film anymore. Glover said it was a very bittersweet conversation because he knew that if he said no, Stewart would die. If he had said yes, Glover said, he would have lived as long as it would have taken him to complete the film.
Glover financed this film himself, because he thought it was important that Stewart's film be made. He knew how important this film was to Stewart and knew how little time they had to make it. Learning this made me completely respect Glover in a completely new way, one that I couldn't have predicted. He went above and beyond to help a man that had been ignored and looked down upon his entire life. Sure, the movie is sick as hell, but that's the way Stewart wanted it. That is profound.

Stewart was put into a nursing home for his entire 20s because the antiquated mental health community of the Salt Lake City of the 1960s just thought he was retarded. The fact that he couldn't express himself verbally made him a 'mongoloid' in their minds and he was locked away for a decade. Glover says that this severe mental and emotional trauma reverberates through all his work. He was a pissed off guy. Imagine being perfectly intelligent but not being able to express yourself and being held somewhere against your will for ten years. You'd be pissed as well.

Glover rambled on, and I was very impressed not only by his level of intelligence, but by his level of empathy for people that struggle outside of mainstream society. He said that he acts in big budget Hollywood films and then takes that money and does his independent art with it. For example, "It is Fine!" was financed with the money that he made on "Charlie's Angels". He completely created his villain character for that role, including the hair-smelling fetish. Steven C. Stewart had a fetish for smelling hair, which is actually one of the main themes in "It Is Fine!". He loves women with long hair, and when they tell him they will cut their hair short, he murders them. Glover said he never consciously made that a part of his character in 'Angels', but it must have been lurking in his subconscious from working with Stewart.

It was a rollercoaster of a night, confusing one minute, horrifying the next, fascinating then confusing yet again. I walked out with much more respect for Glover than I ever thought I would have. He's so much more than George McFly.

As I walked through the lobby, Crispin raced past me. I said, "Hey, Crispin!" He spun around and said "Yes?"
I said, "Hey, that was amazing."
He flashed a truly maniacal smile, his eyes alight with strange fire and said, "Thanks."
No, thank you, Crispin. A truly misunderstood genius, an outlaw auteur. These people are getting more rare by the day, so thanks for sticking to your guns, Mr. Glover.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Exclusive Interview with 'Night Feeders' Director Jet Eller

I really like regional films. Especially regional horror films. There is something about a bunch of non-pro actors doing their best to scare you and or amuse you with limited resources that really speaks to me. These are the real people. The guy who gets his arm blown off? He could be your mechanic. The lady whose tongue gets ripped out? She works at the mini-mart. Etc., etc.
My love for regional, 'Outsider' horror films has taken me into some pretty fetid waters. I have watched about 200 too many horrible home made horror films. But the good ones strike such a chord with me that it makes the unwatchable stuff worth sifting through.
Enter Night Feeders. This film from Asheville, North Carolina's own Jet Eller peaked my interested after I read about it on the excellent movie review site Critical Condition. They gave it a good review, so I added it to the queue.
I sat down on a lazy day off with a few beers and popped in the movie. I really enjoyed it. It is way, way better than 99% of the straight to video horror stuff out there. Its a simple tale of small town southerners versus alien invaders. It looks great, the acting is good, and the special effects (aside from a minimal amount of cheesy CGI) are excellent. I posted a positive review of the film over at the Rue Morgue forum, and none other than the director/writer, Jet Eller sent me a thankful message. We continued to correspond, and just recently I was lucky enough to sit down with Jet (via the internet) and get a little q and a going. So without further ado, I am proud to present the first interview on this site! Welcome, Jet Eller!

Fermented Film: What are your favorite horror films?

Jet Eller: Hands down, Night of the Living Dead. No film ever had such an impact on me. Yes, the acting was bad and it looked like it was shot on burlap, but it had impact. Not only did it break several "rules", but it did it brazenly.

FF: Who are your favorite horror directors?

JE: I liked early John Carpenter. His first few films were great. Ridley Scott is no longer a horror film director, but he has my vote as one of the best. Alien was a masterpiece. He took a simple story and kept you on the edge of your seat.
James Whale and Alfred Hitchcock are also favorites of mine. Hitchcock had such a great eye. I admire Whale because he was a pioneer (Frankenstein).

FF: Does 'Night Feeders' have any influences?

JE: Sure. Jaws, NOTLD, Last Man on Earth, Alien, and believe it or not, Attack of the Killer Shrews.

FF: Donnie Evans is great in this film, is this his first movie?

JE: No, not his first. Donnie and I did a feature together in 1990 called "Marley's Revenge-The Monster Movie". It was shot on 16mm (old school) and took 2 years to shoot. He played a bad guy redneck named Sloth. A very entertaining piece of crap (not Donnie, the movie...but Donnie is entertaining, too).

FF: 'Marley's Revenge'! Whoa, this sounds like fun. Is there any way to get a copy of this film?

JE: This summer, Marley's will be 20 years old and will be available on my website Probably around late July.
Marley's revenge was a blast to shoot. We had 60 zombies, crazed vigilantes, a 14 foot skelotasaurus, and an Indiana Jones wannabe. Terrible, but a lot of fun for a fan of low budget films. If you only knew the work that went into it.

FF: 'Night Feeders' looks great, what kind of equipment was it shot on?

JE: Believe it or not, we shot it with a Panasonic DVX100. We shot it a 24 Frames per second (to give us a grainy "drive-in" look). This choice bit us in the butt later when we tired to put the CGI aliens in. The blacks were not true enough to match the composite and it gave us a "bad separation".

FF: Why did you choose CGI for the creature effects?

JE: It's a case where our hearts were in the right place, but our wallets weren't big enough. We chose CGI because I wanted something that scrambled in the dark and was vicious. I figured a person in a suit wouldn't work and if we kept the image in the dark, we could hint at odd size and skin textures without having a direct focus on it. Quick moving shots. Unfortunately, we had to make them brighter than I would have liked (to make the blacks go grayer to match the grain of the Panasonic). Shooting HI def would have prevented the problem. Back to the money thing.

FF: I was impressed by the performances you got out of your actors. What is your approach with directing your performers?

JE: I try to stress keeping it natural (easier said than done). But its much easier when the material is written with certain actors in mind. Donnie's part was written for him. What you see is what you get with Donnie. We've been friends for 30 years and I couldn't imagine doing a film without him in it somewhere.
The other actors work in the commercial industry here in North Carolina and I've worked with them on many projects.
If I could give a director's tip, this is it...drop any pretentious "I'm the director" bullshit and loosely work with the actors one on one. You'll get a better performance and the actor will have much more respect for you if you personally take the time and eliminate the problems he or she has about the part. A mass rehearsal without "one on one" can be intimidating to some. They can't read your mind and they look for you to guide them through the scene. With a ultra low budget, you want as much in your favor as you can get.

FF: The gore effects in 'Night Feeders' are excellent. Can you tell me a bit about the effects and who created them?

JE: We had a fellow named Andy Boswell handle those effects. He worked on Evil Dead 2 and tons of industrial films. He was also the fisherman with the life vest at the beginning of the film.

FF: Another Asheville, NC indy director is Joshua P. Warren. Are you familiar with his first and last film, the infamous 'Inbred Rednecks'?

JE: That sounds like fun! I've heard of him only through his Ghost books and paranormal activities. I didn't realize he had made a feature, also.

FF: Another indy genre vet who made some 'small townsfolk versus aliens' films was the late Don Dohler. Are you familiar with Don's work?

JE: Oh, yes, of course. Galaxy Invader was one of my favorite no budget films. Alien Factor was another one that reeked to high heaven, but it was fun as hell to watch.

FF: How do you feel about the current state of horror films, major and indie?

JE: I keep waiting for the new face of horror to show up. I'm not complaining about the great movies I've seen over the years, but most have become mirrors of other films. Nobody seems to have the balls to try something different. Remember how The Exorcist changed the way most people thought of horror? They brought in factors you just aren't suppose to bring in...#1 Harming a child...#2 Using religion so strongly in a film...#3 masturbation with the cross? Holy smoke, nobody's suppose to do that! A true assault of a filmgoing experience...I loved it and I miss it.
Just around the corner, one is waiting.

FF: What were the biggest challenges of the 'Night Feeders' production?

JE: Deer hunters...REAL deer hunters. The farm we rented to shoot on was in deer hunting country. We didn't know it but a lot of the hunters used the house as a hunting cabin (illegally). We were threatened with physical harm (said they were going to shoot our asses if we didn't leave). We didn't and they (or somebody) came back and destroyed our house set...completely.

FF: What's coming next from Jet Eller and co.?

JE: We just finished shooting "Never Feed The Troll". It will be available on the website this summer, also (BTW, the site is up, but not in a completed form). Night Feeders was sold to a worldwide distributer about 4 years ago. I refuse to go that route again. Distributers get so much of the money, there's nothing left for the filmmaker. "Never Feed The Troll" will be distributed by us, Jet Powered least for now.
I have written 15 scripts over the years and I hope to continue shooting my own projects. I'd really like to do another horror/comedy. I have one in mind, but we'll have to see how "Never Feed The Troll" does.
Three of my scripts are biographies, my favorite being "The Harpes" which I co-wrote with the decendant of Micajah and Wiley Harpe. If you don't know who these guys are, do a Google search and prepare yourself for monsters that even Leatherface couldn't rival. Absolutely terrifying story. America's first serial killers.

Special Thanks to Jet Eller for conducting this interview. Even specialler thanks to Jet for being an independent filmmaker who makes awesome horror movies! Keep up the good work!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Top 2 Movies of the 2000s

Because I am lazy, I will just post my top two films of the past decade, if you want me to tell you why, just shoot me a message or leave a comment. I think they are both pretty self-explanatory.

I count Kill Bill parts 1 and 2 as one movie. And what an amazing movie it is.

1. The Best Movie of the 2000s IS

In my opinion, Wet Hot is one of, if not the funniest, comedies ever filmed. It is definitely the best movie of any category for the past ten years. It completely set the tone that the best comedies of the 00s followed. Its a perfect film. That's my 2 cents.
Now that this is out of my system, stay tuned! Tons of crap coming soon!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pulp Fiction: Messenger By Edward Lee

I'm a voracious reader, and Horror has been one of my favorite genres of fiction since I was old enough to read. I'm kind of sick of writing about movies for minute, so as a change of pace, I'll be throwing in reviews of the juicier, pulpier stuff I've been polluting my brain with lately.

Disclaimer: the review I am giving this book is not on the same rating scale as all literature. This is so out there, you couldn't review it with the same rating system as say, Moby Dick. That would be like stacking up The Toxic Avenger against The Hurt Locker . The only thing these works have in common is their medium, so I've decided to rate this book on its merits as a work of Pulp Horror alone. And in that arena, this book kicks serious slimy demon butt.

Ed Lee has a reputation in the literary horror world as being the most intense, most grossest, most disgustingest writer there is. Apparently his mass market novels published under the Leisure Books imprint are somewhat toned down when compared to his small press, hard to find work. If this is Ed Lee toned down, I can't even fathom what his 'hardcore' stuff is like. I mean, how much more intense and nasty could fiction possibly be? Are his small press books printed on poisonous paper that burns your fingers when you turn the page? Is the copy printed in a font that eventually makes your eyes bleed? Does the book explode when you close it? The only way any book could be harder and nastier than this book is if it did those things.

Back in 2006, when my discovery of the works of Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon stoked my post Stephen King interest in horror fiction, I picked up Ed Lee's newest novel, The Backwoods . I figured 'hey, if all these authors I love love this guy, he must be awesome.' The book sucked. Really hard. In fact I couldn't even get more than about 80 pages into it. It was embarrassingly bad. Since then I've never picked up another book by Lee, until the other day when I was doing laundry. I forgot the book I was reading at that time at home, so on the way to the laundromat I stopped into the local library. I picked up this book, read the summary and the first page and decided to give old Mr. Lee a whirl. I read the first 70 pages in the laundromat. I wonder if the little Mexican kids there thought I was weird, this big bearded dude reading some creepy looking book with his eyes bugging out of his head, turning the pages as fast as he could.

The premise is pretty silly sounding: The Messenger, a mysterious demonic figure possesses postal workers in a small Florida town and uses them to carry out his heinous acts. Lee takes this idea, and basically pumps it full of steroids, LSD, crack and demon blood and lets it loose. This is one king-hell, rip-snortin' beast of a horror novel. Its also very well plotted and actually has a soft tender side that doesn't beat itself over your head, but is there enough so that you actually care about the main characters.
I think that's the book's greatest feat. Combining mayhem, gore and violence that goes as completely over the top as it definitely does here with characters you actually care about is not an easy feat, and Lee pulls it off seemingly without effort.

The Messenger is an amazing villain, as well. I don't want to go into too much detail into what he does and how he does it, as I don't want to give away too much and ruin this book for someone brave enough to read it. Lets just say that he's one of the most nefarious bad guys I've come across in a horror novel, and I read tons of horror fiction. The level of nastiness is cranked up to 11 here, and all because of this one bastard.

Also there are some deliciously clever twists towards the end that will seriously take you by surprise.

Basically, if you like pulpy horror, you have an iron stomach and are brave enough, give this book a try. You won't be disappointed. (But it may make you question your own sanity for reading these kinds of things.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jennifer's Body: The Almost Classic Horror Film of 2009

I thought 'Jennifer's Body' looked lame. Megan Fox is the kind of actress that looks out of place unless there are giant cgi robots fighting around her. She pretty much always looks like she should be in a Maxim photo shoot. Which is why people think she is hot. By people I mean dudes who judge hotness by looking at Maxim. By those dudes, I might mean douchebags, but if I were to go ahead and say that, I might lose half of my 20 or so readers. (Fuck you, Boston Phoenix.) Okay, where was I? Oh yes, Megan Fox is a terrible actress, and she's good looking in a way that I don't agree with. She looks computer animated. Seriously. Try to watch her try to act. Her face looks completely unnatural. Like it needs to be completely motionless to be admired. Plastic surgery, maybe. Not into it, personally.
The worst thing about 'Jennifer's Body' is that Megan Fox is in it. This movie is one smart, funny, deeply cynical and satirical bastard. Minus Megan Fox and released with a lower profile, this would have been the 'Heathers' of ... what do you call this generation, the lower case generation z?
If you are anything like me, you are pretty sure that 99% of these intensely terrible pop-punk/emo/hipster bands kill virgins to get large. I don't want to give anything else away, but this film surmises just that. The cheesiest, crappiest, emo hipster bands sacrifice virgins to Satan. I couldn't agree more. Beyond that, the movie is excellently written, the CGI is kept to a minimum and the worst thing about the movie is Megan Fox. Awesome.
It really feels like an incredibly smart film got dumbed over big time by 20th Century Fox, hence Megan Fox, etc. If this had been an indy flick, minus Megan Fox, it would have been a sensation.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Quick Political Aside: Jesse Ventura for President 2012!

A quick political aside, then I'll get back to my snail's paced inventory of the Top Ten Movies of the Oughts. I watched this speech today and it really spoke to me. Cheesy 'reality' show aside, Jesse Ventura is a very smart guy, and I agree with much of what he says. The Democrats and Republicans have driven this country into the ground while furthering their own power. Its a natural progression, I suppose, the government's only goal seems to be furthering their power and influence at the expense of the common people. Its sick, either way, whether the Republican oil and military complex or the Democratic drive to expand the government's role further and further into the private sector. Either way, they win, we lose. This speech is great, even if you don't agree with Jesse, you should be able to appreciate a good speech for what it is. I personally think any American politician who is comfortable with the people overthrowing the government is a breath of fresh air. Enjoy:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Top Ten Movies of the Oughts: Number 3


This double feature is the ultimate gift from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez to their hardcore fans. It is also a tribute to just how much fun going to a ratty Times Square movie theatre or a drive-in was back in the 80s or 70s. I was too young to experience this back then, but I have spent most of my adult life scouring the world for the rarest, weirdest, gnarliest films I can find on VHS or DVD. This film is a gift for people like myself. Its Q and Rodriguez's homage to the weirdest and wickedest aspects of underground cinema. Each of the movies aren't the greatest movies ever made, but they both are fun and fit the concept perfectly. Out of the two, I like Deathproof the best. Some of the most exciting car chase footage ever, expertly directed by Tarantino. This package didn't translate very well to DVD. For some reason, when you watch these movies on TV they lose their power. This is a double bill, two for the price of one movie going experience. The fake trailers, the whole presentation is so cool and fun. I remember having a really great time at the theatre when I saw this film. The whole theatre was yelling, laughing, etc. This movie is really about how much fun going to the theatre could and should be. An awesome concept, delivered in full.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Top Ten Movies of the Oughts: Number 4

4. Rambo

If your nose wasn't turned up at my list yet, I bet it is now. Yep, Rambo is one of my favorite movies of the past decade. Beyond the surface-level reasons that a rad dude would like this movie "its wicked frickin gory, dude!", lurks possibly the most insane anti-war film ever made. Its perfect, when you think about it. The tail end of 8 years of terrible government, war at home and abroad, the shadowy aftermath of 9-11, where the country's deepest fears and darkest impulses were lived out day to day on a global stage. The past decade has been a non-stop war. So, here comes Rambo to save the day. Pickup trucks with American flag stickers on their bumpers jammed the multiplexes to see John Rambo defeat Old Glory's enemies, just like he did in the Reagan era. The 2008 Rambo was different, however. Stallone went completely batshit insane on growth hormones and made one of the most unrelenting, dark, and horrific action films ever. If you feel good about war after you see this movie, you have some serious problems. When I saw this film in the theater, the tension was palpable. There were older guys there, who looked like Nam veterans, there were dumb kids, and there were my friends and I. We all thought we'd be in for a jolly old over the top romp. The level of viciousness, the completely disgusting and terrible stuff on display in this film made me really uneasy. A little part of me wanted to have fun with the film, but I was absolutely revolted and sickened by the actions of the bad guys, the 'Burmese' army. Burma is now known as Myanmar, but maybe Stallone kept the old name to avoid a lawsuit, or something.

This isn't gore for gore's sake, either. Stallone filled this film with innocent people, women and children being butchered to show you what is really going on all over the world. If the big, bad U.S.A is all for what is right and good in this world, why aren't we trying to stop the genocide in Myanmar, or the Congo or anywhere else in the world where the only law is respect the man with the biggest gun? Fact is, if there is nothing that serves the wishes of the government and the economy, there is no reason for us to be the good guys. Stallone doesn't spell this out for the audience, but if you are a thinking person, this movie will stick with you and really make you think. I remember I couldn't sleep the night I saw it. The violence is so intense and sickening that it will haunt you.

Stallone really makes you hate the bad guys to the point where you are just really, really excited to see them get theirs. And, oh boy, do they ever. The aging Stallone, hulking around sullenly, is more menacing than he was back in the 80s and in the dark, rainy jungle, as he stalks his prey, the film almost becomes like a Friday The 13th movie with Rambo instead of Jason. I mean, he even machetes people. This movie is a work of pure whacked out, sick brilliance, and I think its the best and most effective anti-war movie I've ever seen. Its also one of the only truly great action movies of the past decade.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Top Ten Movies of the Oughts: Number 5

5. Bubba Ho-Tep

This is the sleeper of the list. Brandon Collins and I drove all the way to Nickleodeon Cinemas in Falmouth from Orleans in the middle of a horrific blizzard in the winter of 2004 to see it. It took us about an hour in the swirling snowflakes, and when we got there, the movie hadn't made it over the bridge. The distributor was scared by the snow. Viking warriors that we are, we waited out the storm in the Quarterdeck in Hyannis, then drove about 15 mph all the way back to Exit 12. It was a good night, after all, but I wish we had seen this movie like we planned. I bought the DVD as soon as it came out in the summer of 2004, for some reason I wasn't that taken with it. (It may have had something to do with the fact that I spent most of my time blaring heavy metal and jumping into bushes for fun back then. Damn, that was a long time ago now. It was fun. What I can recall of it.) This DVD went to Santa Cruz, back to Cape Cod, back to Santa Cruz, down to Louisville, KY, back to the Cape, up to Somerville, MA, back to the Cape and finally wound up in Roslindale, MA with my girlfriend, me and our hedgehog, Huey. About 3 weeks ago, scouring my shelves for something to watch (I have an enormous DVD collection but am too broke to afford cable, a weird predicament that I have a feeling isn't too rare these days.) I stumbled across this movie, popped 'er in. I was immediately in love.

This film is based on a short story by the brilliant Texas author Joe R. Lansdale. I call him brilliant but I've never even read any of his books. The writing in this film, however, which is apparently incredibly faithful to Lansdale's story, is absolutely brilliant. Cult legend Bruce Campbell plays Elvis Presley, who is now a sickly old man in an East Texas rest home, bedridden and depressed. Everyone thinks he's insane, that he's an Elvis impersonator who has dementia and thinks he is really the King. Elvis, it turns out, actually traded places with an Elvis impersonator, also played by Bruce Campbell, in the 70s. He was never into the fame. He just like rock and roll and ladies. He hated all his leech-friends, so he was happy to live a semi-obscure life as an impersonator of himself. But, all this backstory is told by Elvis himself, so it could very well all be made up. Now, this on its own is a brilliant premise, but this is just the beginning.

One of Elvis' neighbors is JFK. JFK is played by Ozzie Davis. Yep, JFK is an old black guy. They took JFK's brain and switched it with a black man's before the assassination. So JFK's room is full of pictures of Jackie O, a diorama of the scene of his assassination, and all sorts of odds and ends relating to JFK. And it still gets better.

An ancient mummy is in the rest home, eating the souls of the old people, because they are weak and easy to prey on. Elvis and JFK team up to battle the mummy and protect their home. The dialog, and Elvis' monologue is SO good, its some of the best writing ever in a movie. Seriously, the dialog is perfect. Its genius. From the opening scene: Elvis lays in bed and looks in the mirror. Bruce Campbell VO: "How did I go from the King of Rock and Roll to this? An old guy in a rest home in East Texas with a growth on his pecker. And what is that growth? Nobody's talkin." And the direction, by the legendary Don Coscarelli, is perfect as well. So, you have an amazing premise on top of an amazing premise on top of an amazing premise paired with genius writing and excellent effects and direction. This film is hilarious, fun, creepy, depressing and uplifting, usually all at the same time. Its just about a perfect movie and like no other movie you will ever see.

UPDATE: Made a hot link to Don Coscarelli's page and discovered that they are making a sequel called "Bubba Nosferatu"!!! Its written by Lansdale and Coscarelli!!! See "Ho-Tep" now so you can be as excited about this as me!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Top Ten Movies of the Oughts: Number 6

6. The Devil's Rejects

Film nerds may turn their noses high at this choice. After all, Rob Zombie did direct the much loathed Halloween remakes (which I loved, even the second one, which might be the most hated horror film ever. I seriously think I'm the only person on earth that liked it.), keep on pointin' your noses to the stars, nerds, while me and the rest of the real people on the ground enjoy this seriously effed up, jet-fueled, shock-a-minute piece of pulp thriller sleaze. This movie is SLEAZY. There are not a whole lot of newer films that you can say are really SLEAZY. That is a term left mostly to describe by-gone drive-in and grindhouse fare of the 70s and 80s. This is the genre that Zombie was paying homage to in this film, and he wound up making a sleazy piece of art that is actually a solid addition to the grindhouse canon. When I saw this film, I was hoping that it wasn't the type of movie that tries to make the serial killers look cool, to appeal to some psychobilly, kids who wear Charles Manson shirts and think they are rebels demographic. It does, I guess, but it balances out the folk-legend of the evil, killer 'family' with an even bigger, more awesome folk hero: Sheriff Wydell. Bill Forsythe, who is always amazing, in anything he's ever been in (especially this movie and Out For Justice), is a massive one-up to the killer family. He's the ultimate avenging cop, who gets so caught up in his 'demon killin' that he goes completely insane and becomes a monster so awesome and vengeful that he scares the crap out of the killer family themselves. Wydell is my favorite part of this movie, and he's really the reason the film is above and beyond. He's an original invention created by Rob Zombie that is greater than the sum of his parts. He's part Johnny Cash, part Dirty Harry Callahan, part Wyatt Earp and 100% badass. Try not to cheer as he humiliates and tortures the sick serial killing family. Its messed up justice at its best. The soundtrack, direction, writing and acting (except for Sherri Moon, who is as annoying as she is gorgeous... wait, maybe she was supposed to be like that... yeah, I think she was, so yeah, all the acting) is top notch. This is Rob Zombie's best movie and definitely one of my favorites of the past 10 years.