Monday, December 31, 2007

Some food for thought as we enter 2008...

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year... thanks to all of you who drop in from time to time to be entertained. More of the same for next year, hopefully.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

IDIOCRACY is a documentary...

... how else to explain this?

Irony and Satire - died an agonizing death: 21st Century.
Winter's Discontent

Winter has officially arrived, with the ice and snow currently blanketing the NE Kansas landscape.

Mentally, I've been primed for winter since early Fall - mainly due to things beyond my control (the work hiatus when cold weather hits; family members dying suddenly). I'm keeping busy with a couple of things of my own that I'm working on, but even that isn't quite as satisfying as it has been before. There's no real reason to complain, though -- I end up going through these spells every so often (not quite as often when I was younger, thankfully), and I have to say that although life isn't perfect - like it ever was perfect, at some point - I'm in much better shape than I thought I ever would be. I've had friends who have gone, and are currently going through, horrendous things in their own lives - compared to what they're going through, my life is a cakewalk in comparison. It's not always going to be that way, so I should save any complaining until things REALLY get bad.

I've finally gone ahead and posted some older stuff on YouTube - the link to that is to your right, if you're interested in seeing some of my video work.

Have killed a lot of time via the usual ways - reading/watching stuff... enough to regularly comment on, if I were more disciplined on updating this blog. Some recent observations:

Was motivated enough to actually go to a theater a few weeks ago to see THE MIST, Frank Darabont's continuing affair with Stephen King... mainly because he's a great adapter of King (even with no prisons apparent in the story - well, I guess the prison metaphor can apply as well, now that I really think about it), and because I was a huge fan of the story when I read it some 25 years ago. More than likely, you didn't see it in the theaters, if it's even still playing in theaters now.

It pretty much faded away at the boxoffice, but I think a lot of people will catch up with it when it goes to DVD in a few months... it's easily one of the top King adaptations to film, even though some won't appreciate some of the allegorical elements, and a LOT of people will have problems with the ending. To which I say that the ending makes perfect sense if you've been watching the film - PAY ATTENTION!!

Two other films I've had the chance to see, though they've not hit any theaters in my neck of the woods as of yet: Larry Fessenden's THE LAST WINTER and Richard Kelly's SOUTHLAND TALES. Two movies which barely got released this fall, and certainly not in 'flyover country' - both will get their due via DVD release in 2008, although if you're curious enough to want to see them sooner than that, there are ways... just ask your kid when they're back from school this holiday ;\ or ask your friendly neighborhood computer geek.

LAST WINTER continues Fessenden's above-average work in 'horror', though the horror involved here is more of the variety established by Val Lewton - think of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH crossed with THE THING and THE SHINING. Recommended highly - this will be worthbuying once it's available with the director's commentary and extras... and it's worthwhile to check out Fessenden's earlier works to either get you in the mood to watch LAST WINTER, or to sample more if you've already seen it.

SOUTHLAND TALES comes with a lot more baggage - it's safe to say that this was roasted by the critics during its limited release, after hearing rumors fly since it's screening at Cannes over a year and a half ago... I can say, after watching it last night, that it's one of the few films where EVERYONE is right -- it's a flawed, messy, sprawling spectacle that takes itself so seriously it's laughable AND it may possibly be a work of demented genius that will only get its due in the future (which may be more futuristic than predicted), when we look back at this period of time.

I liked DONNIE DARKO (the theatrical cut - haven't seen the 'Director's Cut' which "explains" everything), but I'm not part of the Cult of Darko, so it's been amusing looking over the reviews of SOUTHLAND - I think that there were quite a few lying in wait for Kelly (who hasn't made things any easier on himself by believing some of his own press in the wake of DARKO; and also for writing DOMINO), and SOUTHLAND does suffer a bit from "Sophomore Jinx Syndrome; but in his defense, there are damn few people who would even take a risk such as this, for as much as the film is irritating - if you're one of those people who like coherent stories, you're better off staying away from this - there are things that are absolutely dead on that keep you watching - the movie FEELS right, in terms of capturing the emotion of the times.

There's a lot of stuff referenced - the works of Philip K. Dick, David Lynch, the cult of celebrity, the blending of entertainment and news and how it's impossible to tell the difference, KISS ME DEADLY, REPO MAN, SNL has-beens, WILD PALMS, Thomas Pynchon, STRANGE DAYS - actually the movie plays like a version of STRANGE DAYS with the script written on mushrooms and minus Juliette Lewis' channeling of Patti Smith via P.J. Harvey - yet there's a case to be made for this mad collage... a more experienced director probably could've melded the visuals to a more disciplined story, but I wonder if the fever dream quality would've remained as strong, because that's the main thing that hangs with one after watching it - that, or a headache. You get the feeling that there's several films going on at once, and that the director didn't tell any of the cast members.

Some critic remarked that SOUTHLAND TALES might be this generation's SKIDOO; after watching it, I declare SOUTHLAND TALES to be the BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS for the Millennium Generation.

Worth checking out when the DVD hits shelves; and expect even more critical realignment when the Cannes cut (20 more minutes and much more of Janene Garafalo) eventually gets released too.

If you haven't discovered the work of Joe Hill yet, now's the time -- I finally picked up HEART SHAPED BOX and became a fan - before I discovered who he actually was. Then I got to read his short story collection 20th CENTURY GHOSTS, and am jonesing for the next work to come down the line - considering his lineage, there's plenty good stuff to come.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Adventures in the Film World - THRILL

Inspired by a recent post on Jim Emerson's SCANNERS blog, here's some artifacts from my 5 seconds of Network Exposure...

Whenever I post about working in movies, it's always been from behind the camera - I've never felt the need to be in front of it, an odd position coming from an ex-theater major who used to act regularly on stage. My last acting role was for a friend's film shot over in Scotland about a decade ago, and that project went bust, and will probably never see the light of day... if I'm lucky. It was fun, but I just cannot watch myself onscreen, and I'm certain that a paying audience would agree. But in my younger, vain days, it was a different story...

One of my last jobs before leaving SF back in 1996 was a two-day gig as an extra on a TV movie called THRILL, with Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Stephanie Kramer (of HUNTER fame). It was a staple of cable-tv for the past few years, and I actually stumbled across a DVD of it back in 2004 (which is now out-of-print, and not even available on Netflix anymore - go figure). It was shot mainly on the Santa Cruz boardwalk; the story concerns roller coaster sabotage at a amusement park, so I was part of a large group of background extras.

The first day was pretty uneventful - we didn't even get to see most of the stars, except for a small bit with Antonio and Stephanie walking along the boardwalk. But before they come into frame, someone brazenly walks through:

Should you ever catch this on broadcast, or god forbid, find the DVD, this turns out to be my last appearance in the film... I show up within the first 22 minutes. And the foreground actor turns out to be a very important plot point, as I learned when I first watched it.

The other part of the day was spent filming pick-ups of crowd reactions to another act of sabotage on the log flumes. They paraded several people in front of the camera to react, so I was shocked to see who made the final cut.

Since I was also working as an AC (camera assistant), of course, I hung as close as I could to the camera guys, who were great - the DP, Alan Caso, has gone on to a pretty good career. I remember talking with one of the AC's (whose name I cannot remember) because he was wearing a THE FANTASTICKS jacket - he had worked on the film adaptation, and I struck up a conversation with him about that (the film was shelved for a time and didn't get a release until the late 90's, in a truncated form). Oh - and the woman who was doing craft service was the mother or stepmother of Meeno Peluce.

The second day consisted of mainly standing in line - they were shooting the sequences in the building which housed the rollercoaster. Not anything with Antonio crawling around on the coaster - mainly shots of the coaster with terrified passengers coming and going (since the brakes have been sabotaged and it's unable to stop), and a couple of shots before Antonio does his hero bit. I was in the line of anxious patrons waiting to get on the coaster... and yes, shooting it was as tedious as it sounds. That was done for a good part of the day - then after lunch, I caught a break.

Bill Cobbs had the role of the grizzled old mechanical hand, and it was great getting to see him up close. For this sequence (which opens the film, as it turned out), he needed to turn to someone to get some help in stopping the roller-coaster - so I was pulled out of line, and given a blue windbreaker. He barks out a line to me, and I give a nod right as the scene cuts.

Not bad for a beginner, eh?

I had one last bit - at the end of the day, they held me over briefly as a hand double for Mr. Cobbs. Most of the closeups of him typing the computer keyboard... if they're isolated shots, they're my hands.

So that was it... as I recall, the production was a quick one. It was shot in March of '96 and was broadcast over the Memorial Day weekend - I remember because I was back in MO and saw a promo for it, shocked that it was ready so quickly; but then, most of the projects I was working on had long post times and wouldn't be seen until the late 90's.

And, as far as I know, this is the only movie in circulation that I appear in - I did extra in GETTING EVEN WITH DAD, but I'm fairly sure I'm not in that - never have seen the film. The only other thing that's close is that I get a mention in the commentary for John Michael McCarthy's SUPERSTARLET A.D.

I have no plans to get back in front of the camera - although I wouldn't rule out another appearance, if it was cheesy enough, I guess.

A more recent photo of me with "Heavy Metal Parking Lot"
co-creator, Jeff Krulik.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Two Asians + Mathematics = Success

That's the name of this short by one Franco Leng - I met Franco while working on "The Only Good Indian"... he was in charge of video assist. He's also a pretty talented filmmaker, as you can see.

Link courtesy of the guys at ThroughAGlass.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Heading West on the Hellhound

My new name for Greyhound bus lines...

My trip to CA was pretty decent, except for the mode of transportation, which I had qualms about, but it was an issue of going, or not going - and of course, I had to go.

Leaving Topeka and KS was pretty uneventful, except for driving through the mass of storms. The problems started when we got of Oklahoma City. The bus was packed, due to people who had been waiting since 3pm that afternoon - it was about 9pm when we got on the road to Texas... about 45 minutes passed before we had to turn back to O.C., due to a faulty alternator.
There was talk of a bus coming up from Dallas, but that was at least a 5 hour wait!

Finally, we did get on an Eastbound bus at around 2am - early! - and got to Amarillo, then on to Albuquerque, NM, which we got to at around noon on Thursday. The next bus wasn't due out for about 5 hours, so I decided to hit Downtown, and get some decent food.

Albuquerque looked like a pretty decent place - we didn't leave until close to 7pm, and I was threatened with being thrown out of the station after I strongly expressed my displeasure at the level of service. The station people stressed that "they only sell tickets - they're not employees of Greyhound", therefore, they had no responsibility. One ticket girl told me point blank that if I had any expectation of getting to my destination in a timely fashion, I should have flown.

Had they put that sentiment in their advertising, I would've looked harder for a cheap fare.

I do make it to Oakland, at 6pm Friday - a good 9 hours after my originally scheduled arrival time. I was totally burnt by the time I got to my motel. I had hoped to maybe see a couple of pepple while I was out there, but I had pretty much thrown out any grand plans by Thursday night.

The wake was very nice - my uncle in Topeka and his family did fly out and had gotten to CA that morning. People who he'd known over his 35 years in CA came to share their memories of him.

I did get the chance to go into SF on Sunday - it was very weird, comparing my memories of a decade ago with the present.

The saying is very true - You Can't Go Home Again.

Got back on Hellhound Monday afternoon, to head back to KS. Like before, the first part of the trip was pretty uneventful - we changed buses in Salt Lake City and was on the road for about 4 hours when the engine started to smoke, and we pulled off to the side in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming.

The driver got us to a truck stop which was fortunately nearby - it took 5 hours to get a replacement bus to us. Even more excitement, when the State Troopers showed up to cart off a girl who was on the bus - turns out she was part of a car theft ring and had stolen a van from the same truck stop earlier... someone there had recognized and called the police!

We got to Denver where most of us did get onto a bus that had been held - but about 7 of us didn't get on, due to the bus filling up.

You can probably guess which group I ended up in...

Overnight in a Hellhound station isn't very relaxing - most of the stations have been refurbished, or at least have flatscreen t.v.'s to entertain the sheep now. But the seats are not designed for long term sitting and certainly not for sleeping (the better to keep the homeless moving on). The Denver station locks their doors after midnight, and NO ONE gets in... if you happen to be outside and have a ticket, the steroid thug whose job is Security will not let you in... which happened to one poor bastard in our party - he had to overnight in a hotel.

I knew that ridin' the Hellhound wasn't going to be fun, but I'm truly amazed that a company whose business is transporting people over distances has seemingly adapted their business plan to the German model of the early 40's - all that was missing was someone to tattoo numbers on our arms.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


It's been awhile in the pipe - but now, it's here!

Also available is the soundtrack CD, with songs that didn't make the final cut of the film.

There's a release party at the Ragtag Cinema Cafe in Columbia, MO on Nov. 17th, at 10:45 pm - see the official site for more details.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Headed to San Francisco

Taking another short hiatus, for about a week or so. This time, it's to travel out to the Bay Area to attend the wake for my uncle. Since time isn't a huge factor, I'm busing it there and back - I had hoped to drive out, but that fell through quickly -- and though I'm not afraid of flying, I like een less the idea of spending $500 just to go there and head right back...

It's been about 10 years since I last visited SF (back in the summer of '98), and I'd like to take some time to enjoy myself - visit old hangouts, if they still exist; see some friends, though most of the people I knew are no longer in the City, which is one of many reasons why I haven't been back as often as I would have liked to have been.

Since TOGI has wrapped, and I've gotten back into the house routine, most of what I've been doing is going through the backlog of DVD's I've accumulated:

FLASH GORDON - I have this on laserdisc and the previous DVD release (which was going for crazy amount of money on eBay), so when they announced the new R1 release, I was interested, but it wasn't something that I needed - unless there were bonus features, of course. With that in mind, I ordered the R2 "Silver Anniversary Edition" - again, another good reason to hack your player to 'all region'.

Although the R1 release has a good transfer, the extras are pretty 'meh' - the interview with screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. sounds interesting, and though I like Alex Ross' work, I don't think it's worth $20 to hear him go on about FLASH being his favorite film. It is a pretty nifty cover that he did, though; and at least the movie gets exposure to old fans and new audiences.

The R2 has Chapter 1 of one of the original Buster Crabbe serials (about the only feature that was ported over), and TWO commentaries - one by Brian Blessed (Vultan), which turned out to be better than I thought, and a commentary by director Mike Hodges, as well as a 30 minute interview with Hodges that goes into his whole career. That alone made it worth the cost for me - the only other Hodges movie with commentary is GET CARTER (the good version with Michael Caine) - every other movie of his (The Croupier, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, Black Rainbow, Pulp) has been a bare bones release.

I've long been curious to see Robert Altman's QUINTET - although it has the reputation of being the worst film of Altman's output, the little I've read about it made it very enticing.
It's NOT Altman's worst film, by any measure, although I have my suspicions that its origins probably involved lots of bong hits while watching Bergman films.

It plays a lot better now, I suspect, than it did on it's original release... if you've had a chance to watch lots of foreign films, you can appreciate the film's assets (mainly the production design and atmosphere), as well as its flaws (lots of obtuse philosophizing and director pretentiousness) - it's worth a look for the adventurous.

I also got a jump on Halloween viewing - far too undisciplined to do anything as organized as a "31 Days of Halloween" or anything like that... plus, I've developed into a horror snob - much of the torture porn/slasher flicks don't really cut it for me.

As viewed:


So, look any of those up, if you haven't seen them already, and am tired of SAW 4: $AW THAT.

Back in a week.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Some more TOGI

It's been a pretty heavy couple of weeks... so time for some fun!

Another appearance by "Rappin' A.D." Chris Weaver. This time, he's singing a familiar song, one that we heard constantly on set:

And these are from the second to last day of shooting - featuring actress Thirza Defoe as her character "Sally":

Monday, September 24, 2007

Paul is Dead.

L to R bottom: Vertle Lewis, Fern Hubbard, Virginia Hubbard
L to R top: Albert Hubbard, Jocelyn Hubbard, Paul Hubbard

I had intended to post news of wrapping principal photography of THE ONLY GOOD INDIAN on Friday... unfortunately, it also was the day that I was informed that my uncle, Paul E. Hubbard, of Newark, CA had died earlier that morning, due to complications related to heart disease. He had been hospitalized for about a week and a half - fortunately several of his brothers and sisters and his mother did manage to make a quick trip out there and see him before he passed on.

Paul was the youngest of my uncles; he made it possible for me to relocate to San Francisco when he gave up his spot in the apartment he was in, to move in with the woman who eventually became his wife. And, because he also spent time doing odd things through the years to get by, I think that he was probably the closest to understand what drove me, when I was pursuing work in the film industry...

A memorial service will be held in Topeka, KS and in California.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bike ridin' and White Rappin' - some behind the scenes on T.O.G.I.

I mentioned earlier that I probably wouldn't post photos from the shoot - a little thing about non disclosure - but humorous behind the scenes stuff is probably alright.

First off, here's a small clip featuring Wes Studi test riding the motorcycle, which plays a major part in the film:

That wasn't really humorous, but this clip featuring the mad skylz of Chris "Rappin A.D." Weaver definitely is:

More to come... maybe?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Crazy Sexy Cancer

Not an example of my sick humor; this is the title of a new documentary that premieres August 29th (this Wednesday) at 9pm on The Learning Channel (TLC).

I bring it to your attention, since I know the subject of the documentary: Kris Carr, a wonderful actress who I had the pleasure of working with back in 2000 on Brett Wagner's FIVE YEARS (aka THE HIDDEN).

Click the link to her site, which has all sorts of information about the film and information related to cancer... she also has a blog, and is about to start a book tour.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


After the brutal heat of Wichita, we're doing some filming closer to home for the next week and a fhalf - then it's back out to the Flint Hills.

Not putting up any stills, as of yet - there are things such as 'non disclosure clauses' in contracts, and why tempt fate? Instead, I can lead you to the official site - which, admittedly, doesn't have very much content at present time, but that will change in a bit.

For a listing of cast & crew, as well as a glimpse of some early stills, check out the IMDb listing.

And maybe, by the shoot's end, I'll have permission to post just a few choice stills.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Finally!! A REASON....

Pretty clever song - thanks to my friend Jon for bringing it to my attention.

Now, I bring it to yours.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


... is the name of the next film by Kevin Willmott that I'll be working on very soon. I'll try to put up a few more details as the start date looms and I leave for location.

What I can say at this point: it's a period Western, and the script, by Thomas Carmody, is wonderful. Most of the BUNKER HILL team will be back on this one, so it'll be a good reunion.

Speaking of BUNKER HILL, it should be finished later this year and hopefully audiences will get to see it sometime in 2008.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


A few posts ago, I mentioned picking up the Alejandro Jodorowsky DVD boxset...

Despite my claims of being a film buff, Jodorowsky was someone I'd mainly read about for years and never saw any of his films.... SANTA SANGRE I'd missed when it came out, and never did pick it up for a rental - his other films were hard to find and I'd never encountered anyone who had copies. Besides, Jodorowsky always seemed to fall under the category of someone who did "wierd hippie shit" films, and a little of those films goes a LONG way with me.

At least it was that way until mid-April, when I got a chance to see EL TOPO on the big screen, and was surprised that I liked it... instead of the wigged-out hippie western I was expecting, I got a very idiosyncratic, but intelligent and satisfying experience. I missed THE HOLY MOUNTAIN the following week, but having heard about the boxset, figured I'd catch up with it later.

THE FILMS OF ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY (the official title) is a tight collection of prime-Jodorowsky -- there's his first feature, FANDO Y LIS (previously released), his first film short LA CRAVATE (shot in the late 50's and thought lost until rediscovered last year), and EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN in excellent transfers, and with commentaries.
Most people may just want the latter films alone - they're a pretty powerful combination as a double feature - but there's great stuff to be found in the other films, as well.
Putting it in food terms: LA CRAVATE, FANDO Y LIS are the appetizers, EL TOPO is dinner and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN is the big-ass holiday meal, where you feel stuffed for a day or two after. In addition, there are extras such as photo galleries, a documentary shot in '94 (LA CONSTELLATION JODOROWSKY featuring interviews with Marcel Marceau, Peter Gabriel and comic artist Mobius), commentaries on all the features (EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN are new and all are extremely informative and entertaining), and CD sountracks for EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN.

I haven't said much about the films themselves; plots, etc. I'm assuming that whoever's into film may have heard of Jodrowsky and his work... there will be as many or more who'll go "Huh?" Look him up - it's easy! The fact is, Jorodorsky falls into that shrinking category of directors with a VISION... which means that like it or hate it, he doesn't apologize for it. Far from the "wierd hippie shit" label that I earlier applied, Jodorowsky definitely had things to say... as much as I was surprised by EL TOPO, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN was, literally, a mind-fuck - and I mean that in the best possible way!

If you're not that cinematically adventurous, you're not going to rush out to get this -- but the discs are available on Netflix and other rental places. If you're curious, check it out first, then grab the set for your home, if you dig it.... "Can you dig it?"

Now I need to see if I can scare up SANTA SANGRE....

While looking up material for a friend on You Tube... he was interested in finding examples of 'Mod' science-fiction (think BARBARELLA), I stumbled upon this.

Which led to this... and this... then this...

then, finally, this definition/explanation of "RAUMPATROUILLE"

SPACE PATROL, as the term translates to English, was Germany's first science-fiction series, broadcast in 1966 (days before STAR TREK's debut on NBC) - in fact, the STAR TREK comparison is pretty apt, as both shows feature multinational crews zooming around the universe in spaceships... although STAR TREK didn't have an underwater bar/club where the crew could relax, as far as I can remember.

SPACE PATROL lasted 7 episodes, then became a cult show in Germany when it was rebroadcast in the 80's. It never cracked the English market, though there was an attempt a few years ago, when the episodes were edited into a 90 minute theatrical film. Probably more of the English speaking crowd may discover it via You Tube clips.

Being a cult hit in Germany, there are DVD sets out there, but they're not Region 1, and apparently hard to import (I couldn't find anyone who carried them - even the dealers on eBay wouldn't ship to the US) - well, there's not much demand for them over here.... duh! Intrigued by the crumbs on You Tube, some well focused sniffing around on the Net produced results - and I was able to view the show's run, albeit with no English subtitles and no extensive knowledge of German.

That said, it was still interesting viewing - I do know some vocabulary, and the plotlines are easy to follow, in a general sense. I've read that there's a high level of irony, most of will go over my head until my comprehension of German improves. Still, it's a pretty good show - low budget, but they made good use of the money, and some of the fx work is pretty clever, if not spectacular. It's good example of 60's serious sci-fi for T.V. -- a good alternative to some of the American shows at the time.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

More SONG news... it's screening this Saturday at the Santiago Rojo Sangre festival in Santiago, Chile.

It's gotten plenty of play overseas... now when are we going to see this on DVD?

Soon, perhaps, if rumors I've heard pan out...

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Life of Reilly

R.I.P. Jose Chung... and a host of other characters that Charles Nelson Reilly played, including himself -- if you grew up in the late 60's to early 70's, the man was practically a close uncle, although a very wiggy one, that would appear on the tv from time to time. LIDSVILLE, MATCH GAME, a lot of tv commercials, guest appearances and voiceovers...

Nowadays, people know him from reruns on the Game Show network, and from his appearance as Darin Morgan's put upon author, Jose Chung, from THE X-FILES and MILLENNIUM.

Not a bad note to leave on...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Leisurely observations in late April...

NEVER SUBMIT has pushed back their starting date to late June... which gives me a whole month to do the things I was going to put off until July. Not necessarily a bad thing - the basement flooding finally spurred that long overdue purge we've been talking about doing every year...

With all this unexpected extra time, I've been catching up on watching the increasing pile of DVD's I've accumulated in the past year or so. I haven't written much film criticism as of late; the Internet needs another film critic almost as much as the t.v. networks need another reality show -- let's face it, GOOD criticism is very hard to find, and the people who manage to do it day after day -- they're treasures. There's LOTS of bad/half-assed stuff that passes itself off as film criticism, and I'd prefer not to do that -- that said, I don't mind informally sharing several sentences about something interesting that I have seen.

I think I have relatively good taste in film. It's a bit odd, I admit, but you can say that of anyone who considers themselves a film buff - and in 'film buff' I mean people who actually understand AND care about aspect ratio... people who track down and burn VHS obscurities to disc... people who will buy an all-region DVD player - or at least will find a hack code to convert their player to all region.

I've been wanting PRETTY POISON ever since seeing it on the big screen almost 15 years ago in San Francisco. This malign gem finally came out last year on disc - which is reason enough to celebrate. But that just wasn't good enough - I finally decided to take the plunge and order the R2 disc, and convert my player. The reason? The R2 disc included a commentary track with director Noel Black, as well as including the script from a deleted scene. If you've never before heard of PRETTY POISON, those extras probably won't matter squat - although they probably might after seeing the movie. Either version includes the film in widescreen in a pretty good transfer - the better to watch Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld in 2 of the best roles in their careers.

Converting the player did come in handy - I dipped twice more into the PAL pool, obtaining a copy of a film that I worked on back in 2000 - THE HIDDEN (AKA FIVE YEARS), an above average domestic drama written and directed by Brett Wagner. Obviously, any good thing that I say about it is going to be very biased - and also frustrating, since the audience that would enjoy the film are more than likely not going to hack their players or shell out for all region machines to watch this.
While it's great to have a copy other than my VHS screener from when it was on the film festival circuit, this release (in English and German - it was released theatrically in Germany, retitled and sold as a 'thriller'), I'm still wondering why this isn't out on R1, where it could've had a commentary and features (all of which were available, but not used for the R2 release)... still, that's just vanity. Maybe that R1 disc will happen at some point, and more people will discover this film.

The second disc was essential - THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION, Jonathan Weiss' adaptation of the J.G. Ballard work. I'd heard about the film while it was in production, and outside of a screening at Slamdance in 1999 and some overseas festival dates, hadn't been released anywhere. First of all, it's a film with a niche audience - it's mainly "experimental" - which means there's not a traditional plot and not particularly plot driven -- there is a narrative, but it's not presented in traditional form; and there's a lot of heavy lifting to be done by the spectator in terms of forming associations and meanings. But, if you're an admirer/fan of the work of J.G. Ballard, then the above won't scare you off. Put it this way: in comparison to David Cronenberg's adaptation of CRASH, CRASH is far more audience accessible...
Even so, the spectator isn't totally left on their own - EXHIBITION has two commentaries, one by director Weiss who chats at length about the film's making and meaning and a second track with Weiss and author Ballard. Both tracks are above average, and essential to the package/presentation. Fans of 'challenging' cinema are advised to give this a try - Ballard fans should have this on order, if they don't already have the disc.

Both of these were ordered from Xploited Cinema, one of the best places to go to for discs that aren't Region 1.

I was on the fence about buying THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION, VOL. 1 (called hereafter "The Bava Box"). I've heard and read about Mario Bava for years in various books about horror/Italian films, but I'd never seen any of the films until relatively recently (in the last 5 years and two films: PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES - not great, but OK - and heavily stolen from -- er, I mean HOMAGED, in ALIEN; and DANGER:DIABOLIK, which is GREAT.) I never got the chance to see the English versions of his movies on late night/afternoon matinee television showings, so I've always been a bit nonplussed when mention of the films came up.
A sales clerk working on the up-sale, and cashing in of store credit, eventually tipped me toward grabbing the box -- and I'm very happy about that up-sale.
If you haven't seen any of the Bava films, then the Bava box is a pretty good introduction - it has 5 of his films in 3 genres: Gothic Horror (BLACK SUNDAY, BLACK SABBATH, KILL BABY... KILL!); Thriller (THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH) and Adventure/Epic (KNIVES OF THE AVENGER).
The versions are the uncut, international versions - the U.S. versions are in legal entanglements - but this isn't a bad thing, especially if you've never seen the films before.

Halfway through the TWIN PEAKS Second Year set... the extras aren't as good as on the (now out of print) Artisan first year box, but it's just great to finally have the whole run of the show. Well, except for the pilot - which is rumored to pop up on a mega set later in the year... probably with a lot of extras.

Also purchased with the Bava Box was The Alejandro Jordoworsky Box - I did see El Topo at the Screenland Freakshow screening in KC, but missed THE HOLY MOUNTAIN - the set also has his first feature FANDO Y LIS and a short film. That will be tackled in a couple of weeks, after I finish up some work and can take a break.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

'Nuff said...

Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Wedersein, Goodnight...
and Good Riddance!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

After the Storm

LAST BREATH wrapped principal photography on the last weekend in April - there's still some pickups to be done, but for the most part, it's done. And it looks as though I'll be working on the film NEVER SUBMIT, which shoots in KC later this month.

Most of my time would be spent finishing one project and prepping for the other - in addition to that, I'm also doing a bit of basement cleaning. We got flooded during the week of rain, and although it wasn't quite as bad as it could've been, there's lots of soaked stuff to throw out and it looks like our washing machine and dryer will need to be replaced.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Another faux "Grindhouse" trailer... pretty good animation. And the payoff joke is priceless.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Taking a short break from the filming of LAST BREATH - there's more to do over the next few weekends, but in the short term, it's nice to get away from cold, dank warehouses in 20 degree weather for awhile. My cats are certainly appreciative of my being around, as well as family members.

Notwithstanding, I took the chance to pick up a couple of longly-awaited DVDs - The Second Season of TWIN PEAKS, which I'll start to crack next week, and the original version of BEDAZZLED, with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, of which Jaime Weinman over at Something Old, Nothing New, has some good things to say.

If the weather lets up (it's been rainy and cold all day), I might get out the riding mower my aunt recently bought and give the yard a buzz.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Joys of Lo-Budget Filmmaking, Parts 7 & 8

More clips from the shoot... the light is at the end of the tunnel and we finish warehouse shooting this week - sometime. Then we go into week-ends.

Part 7

Part 8

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Joys of Lo-Budget Filmmaking, Part 6

The importance of a set with a dry floor cannot be stressed enough...


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Joys of Lo-Budget Filmmaking, Parts 2 and 3

More behind the scenes treats from LAST BREATH, currently in production.



Monday, March 26, 2007

"I (heart) Last Breath"

On our first day off after the first week of shooting on "Last Breath".

By sheer coincidence, the big thing on YouTube the past week was the appearance of some choice behind the scenes footage of the making of David O. Russell's "I (heart) Huckabee's", featuring a pissed off Lily Tomlin, and Russell throwing a tantrum on set.

As anyone who's worked in film can tell you, this sort of bad behavior is nothing new... However shocking it may be to people, one thing to keep in mind is that Lily CAN vent her frustrations, being what they call "above the line" and not worry too much about her job prospects. For "below the line" personnel, they could merely fart in the wrong direction when the director is in a bad mood, and then they're gone - and have acquired a reputation.

Here, in the following clip, is probably the best example I've seen to illustrate the relationship between Directors and Producers:

The Joys of Lo-Budget Filmmaking, Part 1

(now also on YouTube)

(Actually, they're just testing a stunt effect - No Actors Were Harmed!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

When The Lord Closes the Door, He Opens A Little Window

Had one of the strangest days today... 20 minutes before time to get off work, I get told by my supervisor to "not come in tomorrow"... or forever, for that matter. This after a little after working there for the past 5 years.

A bit odd (or not so odd, since she waited until there were no other people around)... but no skin off my ass, since I start work on a feature film on the coming Monday and would've been gone the next 3 weeks.

I come home, check my phone messages - and after a quick call, I'm booked on another feature that starts shooting in late May into June... and there may possibly be two more features coming up in late summer.

Not that I'm resentful about the booting - after all, the first time I got booted from a job turned out to be a Very Good Thing Indeed - I'm more torked over the way that it was done, but not at all surprised.

It was a nice gig while it lasted, and some of the people were great - but I have to say I like my other work a lot better. So, we'll see what the rest of the year brings.

Lastly - there ARE exceptions, but for the most part - anyone who claims they're a Christian - 99 times out of 100, they're lying their asses off.

[for the entire story that the above link refrences - go here and look for the "Shootout at Pettit and Martin" pages.]

Monday, March 05, 2007


Just got back from KC, where David Lynch's new film opened with little fanfare... Kansas City wasn't listed on the film's official site, but it's a nice surprise - it opens in Tulsa this weekend, and that would've been the closest place to go, if one is willing to drive 5 hours to see a movie.

I don't know what the fuck I saw, but I liked it... as to what the movie is about, it's about "a woman in trouble", and the best way to describe it is 'Lynch-in-a-blender' - there are recognizable faces and tropes from his other work, but there's also some new tricks up his sleeve.
Think of IE as a lot like ERASERHEAD, but less alienating as a viewing experience.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Spread the word, you dirty cocksuckers!" - Hobo With a Shotgun

"Grindhouse" fever begins with lots of faux trailers clogging the Internets.

This is pretty damn funny... and one of the best ones out there.


My friend from high school, Doug Baltz, recently completed his first graphic novel, EPITAPH, now available from Indy Planet. It's a moody tale of contemporary vampirism... the Indy Planet site has sample pages up for viewing, and if interested, you can purchase the entire work.

More of Doug's artwork can be viewed at his site.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sick as a dog

With all of this Winter weather coming through the area (week after week of snow/ice storms?!), comes the Winter cold - sneezing, coughing, general feelings of lousiness... - this morning, I was watching PINK FLOYD-THE WALL followed by The Anna Nicole-Smith Death Hearings... a dangerously surreal combination that should probably only be viewed by people heavily narcotized by cold/flu medicine. I have to say the hearings were harder to understand than THE WALL, and THE WALL made me feel a lot better about people in general, in retrospect.

THE WALL was a newly arrived laserdisc that I'd been looking for, and found off of eBay - mainly since it's the edition with commentary by Director Alan Parker, which the DVD doesn't feature. Parker goes quite a way toward explaining some of the imagry and choices made in the picture, as well as some interesting techincal information.

This sickness is cutting into DVD watching/review time, as it's better to sleep than to attempt to stay awake... as it is, I'm horribly backlogged. But soon, I should have some impressions up about a couple of discs I just received: one is a German disc of a film I worked on a few years ago, FIVE YEARS, but released in Europe as THE HIDDEN; and a Dutch disc of THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION, an adaptation of the 'unfilmable' J.G. Ballard novel - I heard about the film since it was in production and it's screening in festivals, but doubted I'd ever get to see it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Another slow week...

Actually quite a bit has happened. My attention has not been on practically anything for the past few days. Last Friday, I took the day off to attend the free dental clinic held in Topeka - I had two teeth that needed extraction and as fees go, you can't beat 'free'. Even with the painkillers, it's still distracting - the feeling is similar to teething, but there's nothing to actually chew, and to do so would be worse than the teething sensation.

I'm officially on the crew for Ty Jones' upcoming feature, LAST BREATH, which starts shooting in March... just got the word last night.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Just got the word that the official site is now up... and it's pretty good!

The promotional trailer is up, to give you a taste of what to expect; as well as stills and information about the film, cast & crew. - put it in your bookmarks.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

You Fill Me With Inertia...

Can't wait for April!
Recent bizness...

I haven't commented very much on films recently - mainly since I haven't had time or the interest to actually make it to the theatre to see anything currently playing. A good part of time was spent with DVD sets of the second seasons of CARNIVALE and DEADWOOD, both of which I enjoyed immensely; CARNIVALE especially, since the first year took a bit too long to get things in motion - the second year is a big improvement... too late, of course, to save the show from being cancelled. I wish they'd worked out a deal similar to DEADWOOD's impending conclusion after the third year - doing a couple of television movies to wrap things up.

I promise to get back to some film commentary very soon... and speaking of films, the Screenland Freakshow has posted a schedule up for their debut month.

The first REALLY good novel of 2007 is THE TERROR by Dan Simmons - and it's NOT a horror novel, despite the title. I didn't like his last book, OLYMPOS very much - after the strong build-up of ILIUM, it seemed like weak filler, and I suspect a third volume will see the light of day in the near future.

Currently waiting to hear if I'll be on a project shooting in March. It just got announced that KS lost an Anthony Hopkins film that wanted to shoot at KU - due to no tax incentives, the production company will shoot at U of Colorado at Boulder.
Bummer, Man

I just discovered this item on Laughing Squid earlier in the week...

Now I know how Baby Boomers felt when they realized the 60's were over.

Well, not really... but it's still very weird for me. I stumbled upon The Cacophony Society several months after moving to San Francisco in mid '89 and was on the periphery of events that eventually morphed into Burning Man Inc. -- I was at the gathering at Baker Beach and remember clearly the cops allowing the Man to be raised, but not burned; and I was one of the attendees in '91, when the amount of people on the Playa topped out at about 250 and things were anarchic, but not crazy-dangerous. Fun and exciting and wonderful as it was, I felt no need to repeat the experience.

I've written about John Law earlier, so it's pretty clear where I stand regarding his character. It's obvious that this was no rash action. Take the time to read the documentation provided - it makes crystal clear the motives for his action. And his argument for making Burning ManTM public domain is sound, although I couldn't help picturing a prankster smirk on his face as he typed it up.

Not that I have any stake in BM in any way, shape or form - I know that there are those who've attended recent BMs who've gotten something out of the experience... but I also think that when you're at the point where you become a punchline for a Microsoft commercial, it's time to Kill The Man - at least as he exists in this aspect and let Him be reborn in some other fashion.

What makes me sad... well, sadder - is that all the recent events cloud further my memories of things like this (made before the Spectre of The Man began its corrupting influence). But that just makes it more special, I guess, to be able to remember.

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Box in a Box

Oh, yeah. Thanks to Olbermann at COUNTDOWN, we all can bow down to the genius of "Bunny".

The website for the video is currently down, due to all the hits after tonight's COUNTDOWN. So, enjoy!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Year! & early heads-up about The Screenland Freakshow

We've made it to the start of the end of the decade... let's hope we can continue blogging all the way up to the end.

To add to new beginnings, I just got notice about a new film series/group in the KC area - picking up the baton left by the late, lamented Chucky Lou A/V Club, is the SCREENLAND FREAKSHOW, scheduled to start WEEKLY screenings at the Screenland Theatre on Wed. February 28 at 8pm - and thereafter every Wed. night.

Very ambitious... but so are a lot of things just out of the gate.
Here's hoping they have as long, or even longer tenure than Chucky Lou.

More information should be available in the coming weeks - check out their MySpace page.