Wednesday, October 31, 2007
For Hallowe'en: A Forgotten Horror Star, Part Nine--The End of Laszlo Revik?
Dear god. Despite my flippant reply to the comment by Sparkle Plenty, I'm more afraid this Halloween than I've been in 30+ years. And it's just because of some news from Ted.
He has sent two e-mails that have left me reeling-- no film pun intended.
First there was the news of the death of the horrible death of "Faye", that cable exec who tried to sink the cable deal for the Revik films. Now I've learned that the details of her death are pretty nasty, even gruesome. From Ted:
Oh, boy, Max, is this the cynical replay of “the show must go on.” No sooner does this female executive get attacked, mauled, raped and—for God’s sake—partially eaten—does her twerpy preppie assistant get boosted into her job. The queen is dead, long live the prince. This 24 year old twerp reversed her decision and the cable company is dumping the Revik films onto the market, fast. The distributor, Andy Hensley (oh, go ahead and use his name. It’s been in all the trades) plans to saturate the media and try to make money quickly, then get out: coordinated dvd release-- they’re already working overtime pressing thousands of discs-- a cable marathon, and simultaneous streaming video. It’s gonna be radio station KRVK, all Revik, all the time, thirteen films, one after the other, in constant rotation. He’s pretty much forced to do it by circumstance. Once he learned they were ALL in PD, that’s giving video pirates a license to steal, clone every one of them a jillion times.
About Faye’s death: Somebody had followed her that night, through the dark park, stalking her. It was foggy that night, and I’m hearing old Hans Salter themes when I imagine it. There were BIG animal tracks leading up to the location of the body (it was found the next morning)—but the tracks didn’t lead anywhere, they just stopped. The local papers followed the police party line, suggesting she was attacked by an escaped animal from Griffith Park Zoo. They had to say something. My cop pal Brian told me they’ve again got conflicting clues, like they’re straddling realities—either that, or somebody’s faking things REALLY well. The forensics guys found human hairs on her body. And canine-family hairs. And yak hairs. Hint: the zoo is not missing an escaped disappearing, flying yak.
[Yak hair's used in film makeup, for those of you who aren't film geeks like me, or film pros like Ted.]
Remember Eva, Sam’s girlfriend? They’ve split, rather acrimoniously. If she’d been venal, she’d stick with him into the “big time” he thinks he’s going to hit, but she’s a sweetie, and he’s become a total dick with this Laszlo Revik fixation. Too bad. She’s got a part in some little Equity-waiver play, an Agatha Christie mystery. She deserves a better guy (I’d volunteer, but I’m busy), or at least a sober Sam Lee in his right mind. Or at least somebody who wasn’t a suspect in three homicides.
Yeah, three: a cleaning lady found Lorette dead in her hotel bathtub, naked and “completely ex-sanguinated.” ["Drained of blood", to spare some of you a Google search.] The hotel (Beverly Hills) is big enough to pressure the papers to keep quiet about this, but again, my pal Brian is giving me the inside scoop. She was naked (well, sure, it’s a bathtub), drained nearly dry, with two little marks on her—you know. So that’s one more obstacle out of the way of showing these movies. The old, obvious investigator’s question: Who benefits? The cops haven’t arrested anyone yet, but there are “persons of interest.” Sam, because the deal goes through; ditto his distributor, Andy Hensley; maybe the upwardly mobile ladder-climber at the cable company. And of course Laszlo Revik, because his creepy face and form become part of world-wide consciousness forever. Problem with him is, he’s been certifiably dead for 27 years and he only exists on films no one’s ever seen. I don’t think the cops consider him a serious suspect.
Given what they found in the hotel bathroom, off the top of my head, I’d put out an all-points-bulletin for Count Dracula, but that’s the romantic in me. And here’s one for Sherlock Holmes. Know anything about electric blueprint symbols? Lorette apparently drew a symbol on the tile in her own blood:
My Shop classes in eighth grade were a LONG time ago. I had to poke around the ‘net for an hour before I found it. It’s the symbol for grounding a circuit.
I’ve got to make this one short. Jeff Richards just called. He’s edited a video together, and says there’s more bad news. Should be an interesting Halloween. * * * * *
After reading this, I wasn't sure I wanted to open anymore e-mails from Ted. Seriously! As I feared, this morning the forthcoming news got worse. MUCH worse. Well, it gives me an excellent excuse to drink...
More pictures of Laszlo Revik below-- why I share the face of this bastard here, I don't know, but I feel compelled to-- followed by Ted's second message...
Sorry. I think you can use the distributor’s proper name now, Max. Andy Hensley’s a dead-un, along with a priest named McFarren. They’re probably both too obscure to make splash headlines, but tabloid TV might pick it up for surreal weirdness.
They found Hensley in his home/office, slumped on the floor, strangled, with a face like Barbara Leigh-Hunt in FRENZY. The priest was outside in his car, throttled with his own rosary, no less. Laszlo Revik sell-sheets were scattered around—the 8x10 color handouts with the cover art: THE KIND OF EVIL with Price, TRIUMPH OF EVIL, and the original 1943 ALIAS DR. GHOUL. There’d clearly been a scuffle. In the fireplace were the ashen remains of a cashier’s check, made out to cash, in the amount of one million frigging dollars. AND in the priest’s briefcase out in the car, there were three OTHER checks, one for a quarter million, one for half, and one for two million.
Jeeze Louise! Lets Hensley off the hook for the murders, I’d say. Not looking good for Sam.
Now, what kind of fight? That’s another dose of bizarre world. Hey, Hensley was a film distributor, so there’s any one of a thousand people who wouldn’t mind seeing him croak. But the culprit left something behind. His clothes. A herringbone jacket, shirt and tie, pants, shoes… this must’ve been an interesting business meeting!— plus a pair of dark sunglasses and a length of Ace bandage. The one “normal” clue the cops found was a small .22, but even that was outré. It’s been fired (they dig the bullets out of the wall), but there was a near-transparent length of mono-filament fishing line attached to it—as if someone had been puppeteering it to make it appear to “float.”
The cops finally issued and arrest warrant for Sam Lee, and he’s skated. Jeff Richards tells me “I don’t know where he went,” but I’d probably say the same thing for a friend. Jeff also brought over a little montage he’d edited from the Revik films—bits and pieces of all of them, like a cinematic acrostic puzzle. I watched it and saw what he was getting at. It goes into “what if--?” territory, and neither of us could prove anything. The cops and any sane person would laugh us out of the room. But it fits the stuff that’s happened.
What if you’re a brilliant attorney but on a mystical quest through life-- and you discover the secret of true immortality in some long-forgotten medieval grimoire stored in the Vatican archives? On the surface it would be an obliquely-worded thing, an illuminated manuscript like a thousand others. It would be an arcane, coded explanation that probably meant nothing in 1374, seemed like Latin gibberish in 1750, but by 1937, with a little imagination and insight as to what technology could do—or might do-- some day, the ideas and the method to achieve them started to make sense—but were impossible to achieve at that time? Stealing such a book would get you booted from the Church; offering the secret to Nazi occultists has certain drawbacks, like the threat of death once they found the secret. But Hollywood would have possibilities. Lots of high-profile people have gotten away with murder there. And that’s Laszlo Revik’s life up to the time he made his first film—about a devious alchemist seeking eternal life.
What was alchemy, anyway? Magically turning lead to gold? No, that’s the comic book version, the fairy tale view. It was about transmutation, changing one thing into the other. All “things” are energy (E=mc2, y’know). Energy can never be destroyed; it can only be transformed, or transmitted. And the human mind is incapable of differentiating between the “real” and the vividly imaginary. Our memory makes a thing real. Or, in this case, a person.
And say you could capture some of your energy, your essence, your personality, in a fixed medium— such as a coating of silver nitrate on 35mm film, silver being an excellent conductor of energy. When that “essence” was enhanced by energy (the light from a projector), the “personality” becomes alive.
But to what end? Showing a crummy monster movie to a dozen drunks in a Times Square flea-pit or a backwoods Thai movie house or some adobe shell in the plains of Madrid? You’d dribble it all away. But if you made sure no one would see these things until the proper time— until Goddard’s experimental rockets grew up to spawn broadcast satellites, until Vladimir Zworkin’s funny little picture-radio became ubiquitous TV screens, until a digital technology could give a viewer the exact image that was captured on the film…
There’s a line in Jeff’s video from ATOM-AGE ZOMBIES that made the hairs on my neck curl. Dr. Ghoul looks directly into camera and says, “My essence shall exist forever in the minds of men. I shall walk the earth in a thousand forms.” Through a combination of 21st century “alchemy,” manipulation of consciousness, and the power of instant worldwide transmission, that’s the plan—existing, eternally, in the real world via the implanted memories in a million minds.
And if you could go one way—coming “out” of a movie into the “real” world-- could you go another? Sending 2 dimensional “people” from our minds out into our three dimensional world? The string of killings—the characters from the Revik films, doing his bidding. Jeff and I think it was intentional, that the “accidental” public domain status of the 13 Revik films was exactly what he intended. The “unexplained” vault fires, studio bankrupcies, “lost” negatives. And like a character in any given Revik movie who thinks he’s going to get the edge on Joseph Elwin, Sam Lee is the fall guy. It’s crazy. It’s happening.
I don’t know what the hell any of us can do about it.
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For god's sake-- be careful, readers. The only advice I have to give is-- well, I'm not sure what to say. But I know what I'll do. You should do it, too.
Watch the shadows.