Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fewdio's latest!

What's FEWDIO, you ask? Weh-heh-hell, I'll tell you!

Fewdio Entertainment is a group of five guys who've worked in show biz as screenwriters, directors, actors, and producers, and who are making short horror films together. Exploring alternative avenues of distribution to get their horror films seen, they're rapidly creating buzz at horror websites, blogs, and forums with their sometimes horrifying, sometimes twistedly funny flicks. The Drunken Severed Head is going to be keeping tabs on this interesting bunch, and you will want to, too. This month, their web site debuted, (it's the web's first all-horror-shorts site) and I recommend you take a peep at it.

They describe FEWDIO as "a sinister entity that brings your darkest nightmares to life in rapid bursts of story and film which feed on your terror, horror, and grief." They leave out the fact that some of their films have a dark and inside-out sense of humor, but they do.

Previously I wrotten -- I've wroted -- I posted about them, and their first film The Easter Bunny Is Eating My Candy, (a gory gag film) here.

Ladies, and gentlemen, the latest odd offering from the frightening folk of FEWDIO:

Audio interview clips with the men of Fewdio can be found at the excellent site Dead Harvey, which reports on independent horror filmmaking. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How my mind works

Recently, Jane the Voodoo Queen and I were out in the woods of a park north of us, enjoying the nice weather. Jane was interested in the flora and fauna, and hoping to find interesting stuff like old bottles, or unusual rocks, lying on the forest floor. (I actually started to type "florist four," as that was what I mumbled while pecking at the keys.) Me, I like that stuff too, but I had to laugh when I realized that I was hoping to find animal skulls or bones. (I didn't dare hope to find a human bone or skull-- that would be so cool that I'd likely faint. Then there'd be temptation of wanting to keep it to myself, when I oughtta turn it over to the authorities. Sigh.)

When thinking earlier today about "how my mind works", I remembered that when I was a kid, I was excited to read that Giant and Night of the Iguana would be on TV-- and being disappointed they weren't horror movies.

Speaking of movies-- and things that run through my head-- I thought up three titles for musicals I want to see come out of Bollywood:

Hair Krishna
Vishnu, Pussycat?
Hello Kali!

Why have there been no movies made anywhere that feature a giant, man-eating clown? THAT would be scary. Here's a picture from the Flickr account of one "Vidiot" that ought to inspire prospective screenwriters for such a film:

The things I think about! Clearly, I need help...and I think I'll help myself to another drink.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Princess Layya

Model Christy Marie at Chicago's Wizard WorldCon in 2007. From the Flickr account of jrjenks_agiletek comes this picture with a high hubba-hubba factor:

This is only a partial picture, of course. To see the photo in its entirety, click anywhere on Christy. (Not there, you perv!)

To see a whole page of photos of Christy as Leia at the recent San Diego Comic Con, go to this page.

Image above belongs to the photographer, no rights given or implied

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Patchwork Blog of Fournier

(Or, The Modern Diary of Frankenstein.)

Today is the first anniversary of the day that the blogsite Frankensteinia came to life.

Its first year of life has been a remarkable one. Embraced by scholars, artists, writers and ordinary fans of all things Frankenstein related, the number of daily visits, along with the scope of its reputation, have grown amazingly in one short 365 day span. For a blog that is not "sexy" in the popular contemporary sense (despite featuring a beautiful topless Bride of Frankenstein in a recent post), this is incredible.

Exploring historical and literary aspects of the Shelley novel, examining its stage, radio, comic and film adaptations and continuations, and discussing the impact the novel has had on art, political and social discourse, Pierre Fournier's internet journal and picture book has become a recommended source for research. And it, unlike many sources for research, remains fun. (Hey, that sounds like something the Monster might say: "") Frankensteinia is intelligent and even at times academic, but it is never fussy or musty.

Nor is his blog solipsistic or indulgent; Fournier stays behind his interest in all things Frankenstein. His intelligence, sense of delight, and even his sense of humor serve, rather than distract, the reader interested in Victor Frankenstein and his distorted doppelganger. Anyone interested in the iconic artificial man described first by young Mary Shelley (and by countless others since), has no better guide to introduce him than Pierre Fournier.

Fournier's ability to find Frankenstein or its spirit in all manner of places, times, and topics, and to do so eight to ten times a month or more, is impressive. How does he do it? As illustrated by the picture above, he obviously gets no sleep. ; ) I think he himself must be artificially created-- he's no ordinary mortal.

Today I post only on Frankensteinia. Do yourself a favor and explore this virtual world of marvels, monsters, and ideas that will stimulate your brain, whether it is in your skull or sitting in a jar!

Congratulations, Pierre-- Mary would be proud. Your site does her honor.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Two independent film makers

This is Geno McGahee:

This is Andre Perkowski:

Amateur, independent film-making has no more industrious or ambitious proponents than these two forefinger-pointing guys. (I'm tempted to say "compulsive.") They approach making films from different perspectives-- Geno makes serious horror films ( he is a self-described "horror nut") and Andre makes comedy horror/sci-fi/genre films.

McGahee's Evil Awakening is now available at Amazon; a review of the film can be seen at this website. He will be releasing his Rise of the Scarecrows later this year. A review of that film can be seen here.

Perkowski's short films, and previews of his feature-length films, can be seen at Andre's recommendations: "Try KINDERHOOK: THE RISE AND FALL OF MARTIN VAN BUREN as told through Jim Kelly with an afro and a katana. LIVINGSTON! the true story of the Louisiana Purchase with Charles Bronson... and some odd little commercials with Trace Beaulieu of Cinematic Titantic and MST3K doing cameo voiceovers... with TOTAL RECALL (REHEARSED) - a dazzling and horrible adaptation by one man oozing with actability."

I asked Perkowski about how his feature films came to be (they are close in spirit to Ed Wood's films, if Ed Wood had the smarts to send up his own material.) Perkowski replied:

"Back when I was 22 I over-earnestly (barely) pulled off two feature films based on Edward D. Wood Jr. pulp novels and old screenplays: DEVIL GIRLS and THE VAMPIRE'S TOMB - shot on Super-8, 16mm, Video, with acres of stock footage and scrupulous dedication to the angora-ed one. Recently through acts of dark alchemy I've assembled them into a viewable form after noticing 9th generation bootlegs floating around of a rough cut of the first film."

After corresponding a bit with both filmmakers, I decided to put a matching set of questions to both. Here's their answers-- Geno McGahee starts first.

TDSH: Why do you make low budget films?

GM: I make low budget films basically because I don't have many other options. I have a love of film and I'm a writer and when you put those together, it's a natural to combine the two. My love of horror and low budget horror films made me think that I could probably put something together and after years of doing skits, I made the decision to do a full length horror film called Evil Awakening. I hope that I will not be doing low budget films infinitely. I think that I have learned a lot on the job and have improved enough to hopefully turn some heads. I'm on my third film now, Scary Tales, and it's a step up from my other ones, Evil Awakening and Rise of the Scarecrows, although I would still match those two against ANY other film in this genre, let alone the low budget films.

AP: It's a horrible compulsion best explained by a competent psychologist, anything out of my mouth might be self-serving gibberish. I feel compelled to, the movies I want to watch are short in supply so I try to fill the gaps where I can with these shambling celluloid messes. Its very fun to gear up in small groups and fight a short-lived melodramatic "war" where death isn't particularly likely and the worst you can expect is credit card debt and a malfunctioning squib blowing a hole in your chest and embedding melted plastic in your skin.

TDSH: The film(s) that most inspired what you've done?

GM: I'll begin with Don Dohler and his best movie Galaxy Invader. When I saw that, I saw that it was possible to entertain without a lot of money. Obviously, you cannot look at Evil Awakening and not see some influence of the films like Friday the 13th and Madman. Basically, the 1980's slasher films were my influence initially, but now I think that I'm growing as a filmmaker and it's becoming more complex and more influenced by the great gritty films of the 1970's, which was the best time for film, period.

AP: Eraserhead, The World's Greatest Sinner, Wild Guitar, the Kuchar brothers, John Cassavetes stuff - particularly Husbands and Opening Night, Vileness Fats, all of John Waters' 16mm epics, the Firesign Theatre's peculiar little productions, and a huge clamshell 1980s VHS box labeled "Mafia Vs. Ninja" with very little Mafia and inept "Ninja" with holes badly cut into their masks interacting with stock footage in an attempt at summoning guys with paste-on Hitler moustaches to do their dirty work.

TDSH: Who's the audience for your films?

GM: OK, let's cut out the elderly right away. [GM's films are heavily laced with profanity--Max] They are not going to be my fans, but I think that it's safe to say that my audience will mostly be males from 18 to 40 or so, but I'm hoping that others will see what I see. In fact, the very talented writer Polly Frost had some very kind words for Evil Awakening and women are not the target audience...but then again, women love blood and violence too and I think that if the story is good, they could even look beyond the gore and profanity.

AP: I'd love to know. Send details to: Deadbeat Filmmakers of America with SASE and precise measurements and food allergies. Who watches these things? I make them for myself and my friends but that's stretching the truth a bit to make my friends feel better. I make them for myself and desperately hope a few other folks might get a hollow chuckle here and there out of my over-ambitious folly. The YouTube hits swing from 12 (yes, TWELVE) to 22 thousand. One of them got over 30k but I think its just due to folks seeking Asian torture porn or something rather than threadbare old political satire.

I barely ever attempted to get screenings or distribution over the past decade, if it did happen it was almost by accident. I suppose I thought I needed some time to simmer and boil to develop a more original aroma and sick flavor to my stuff. I'm hoping they are fully marinated now in my bile and resentments and are ready for meager audiences to devour during insomnia spells. Who do you think would be the audience for these, Max? And have they gotten help yet?

TDSH: Described something that surprised you (good or bad) while making your films? How did working on the cheap affect shooting?

GM: Something that surprised me (bad) was when I was filming Evil Awakening at my Aunt's house. Well, she shares property with her sister inlaw that doesn't have too many years on me, and she got really bitchy with me and said she didn't want me around her property. I was baffled but I had permission and wasn't on her property. That's when she kicked in with the racial comments because I had a bunch of black guys with me. I guess this woman, Christine, was using that property for her KKK meeting that night and she wasn't going to have time to prepare. What an idiot! Good surprises was just the enthusiasm of some of the team and when they sing my praises. To hear that is something that surprises me. The positive press across the board were pleasant surprises because many can't look beyond the budget to see the heart and the story. I think that an entertaining film is a good film.

Having nearly a zero budget really hurts shooting because of the people. Some have work and some don't care or they don't take it seriously and don't give a good performance intentionally. We've also had others that have seemed to want to sabotage the film by giving me their word that they would be there to film and then never show up and never answer their phone. Frustrating stuff, but you get what you paid for I guess. So, if I had my way, I'd have a budget and paid actors that have to be there to make money, and it'll happen.

AP: Working on the cheap limits everything, overrides taste and good judgment, and makes you rely on coffee and instinct to get you through obstacles and potential temper tantrums. The pressure and pathetic-ness often gives way to grim diamonds in your crappy movie charcoal, moments of inspiration where everything clicks and the cardboard works miracles. That's the hope, anyway. The reality can make you cry yourself to sleep now and again.

TDSH: Name a recent independent, low budget film someone else has made that you recommend.

GM: Can I recommend a couple? I'm a big fan of the Campbell Brothers and their work and they just came out with Poison Sweethearts, a great and funny anthology. These guys are fantastic and I'd also mention I Dream of Dracula by Jim Haggerty. He's got so much grit and ambition that I have to mention him. He is on his way and the Campbell Brothers are already there...the people just need to realize it.

AP: Guy Maddin's MY WINNIPEG is gorgeous, hilarious, and deserves more eyeballs and endless enthusiasm. He's a mad genius and I'm filled with jealousy and awe at the magic he can work with beloved Tri-X Super-8 and 16mm. Canada needs to get its act together and make him some kind of saint and give him whatever he needs to keep making films. I would eat icy terrified horseflesh for months to work on one of his productions but am worried I'd end up plotting to seal his soul in amber or some such in a misguided bid to rule the world.

TDSH: What question didn't I ask that you want to be asked, and what's the answer?

GM: Max, I have never been asked a question like this before, so let me thing [sic]. Hmmmmm.... OK, I guess I would ask myself what are my future plans? Is that OK?

My future plans are to make one movie a year and hope for the best. I'm very pleased that I have a distributor and that my films are given the chance to get me out to the masses and that in and of itself is a great thing. I am hoping that Evil Awakening will sell like crazy and the word of mouth will sell it enough to create a demand for a sequel. I don't think that there is another movie like Evil Awakening and certain scenes will be talked about by many, I think. With all of that Asian remake crap and the American remake crap and the continued watering down of horror, I think that I have the perfect opportunity to make some noise and win over the horror fans. I'm here for them and I'm one of them and critic or not, what they say means something to me. Of course I'm hoping that they love it and demand a sequel and action figures and all that, but if they hate it, then that's fine too. Just give it a chance and if you do and still don't enjoy it, then you're entitled to your opinion. Just remember that it's only good if you like it. Film and music are very subjective and I have a thick skin, unless it's really bad and that's when I trace their IP and find them.

AP: Surely watching my atrocities raise many more questions than answers. Questions of sanity. Questions of judgment. Questions of not knowing what to say here and desperately filling space...

TDSH: Bonus question: Is watching your films made better with a few drinks first?

GM: Are you trying to tell me something (laughing)? I guess they must be if you are asking this. Sure, why not? I do think that people can enjoy them sober. I guess this point is subjective too. Some may like my films while drunk more...I never took that poll.

AP: A light concussion or high fever works very well, failing that one should pursue extreme sleep deprivation for optimal states of exploitation receptivity. If you're not willing to go to such extremes, a decent amount of drink and/or illegal diet supplements can do in a pinch. Just make sure you get your alchemy right to avoid unsettling after-effects and don't say your parents didn't warn you... because they did, you ungrateful little shit.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Expired clowns, Verne Langdon, and Me: Part Two

Below is the "expired clown"* who was most on my mind when recently I contemplated how much the image of clowns has changed since I was a kid. I blame news and photos of John Wayne Gacy with having the most negative impact on how we think of clowns.

This face, with its angular makeup design (you could describe it as sharp-edged), and bald head with no visible ears, was seen by millions of TV news viewers in 1978-- the year of his arrest-- and again in 1994, the year of his execution. No wonder today people see clowns as creepy with this murderous buffoon becoming so widely infamous.

In a phone conversation with Verne Langdon (a Hollywood makeup artist for many years, distantly related to silent film "clown" Harry Langdon), I asked him if he felt the same way. He didn't agree entirely, but felt Gacy "did have an impact." He also identified "lipstick clowns" as part of the problem. The term, he said, was one used by professional clowns to refer to the amateur who wears a banal (or worse) makeup design and performs at children's birthday parties, parades, charity events, mall openings, etc. (The kind that typically wear cheap "rainbow 'fro" wigs.) "Typically, they're dentists, attorneys, businessmen, with little understanding of the true Clowning Art - including makeup. They won't shave their mustache or and beard, but try instead to work it into their character's makeup" said Langdon, and generally look disappointing, as compared to "the professional career clowns of yesteryear who worked for circuses." The lack of performing talent is a problem for some of these clown wannabes, who rely too much on looking like what they think a clown should look like and acting silly. "Generally speaking, the makeup isn't funny, it's the face underneath making expressions that make clown makeups work," he said. "Too many real clowns are gone. It's a hand-me-down profession that just dried up and blew away."

He pointed out that the lipstick or party clowns are seen close-up, and that can be frightening to a small child. Professional circus clowns don't pick up kids or get right in their face; "kids judged those clowns from a distance as they performed, usually," he said. He recalled a photo-op picture of Liza Minneli as a small child looking "apprehensive and terribly concerned" while being held by Pinto Colvig in his original Bozo the Capitol Clown makeup. And Minnelli would have been used to seeing adults wearing makeup and costumes. A clown's appearance is so out-of-the-ordinary it can be frighteningly weird to a child, much like Santa can be.

Of course, it probably didn't help the clowning profession that the world's most famous clown for the last 40 years is this guy, a shill for junk food:

Of course, I refer to the clown on the right. (From the look on their faces, I'd say both of them were getting super-sized.)

Some photos of truly bad lipstick clowns can be seen here, here, and here.

Langdon said he was less concerned in the way clowns are perceived than in the way circuses are perceived. He longs to see them under canvases again, and with elephants, whom he adamantly insists are not mistreated as PETA, primarily, claims.

But such grand entertainment like an old-fashioned circus is fading, because, Langdon says, "we're a fast-food society, in a hurry. We demand things right now and again in an hour."

I asked about how he got interested in clowns and clowning. He said he was fascinated with clowns from seeing his first circus when he was five. So it was only natural that as a boy of eleven he'd be pulled out of school one day by his father and mother and taken to the Ringling Bros./Barnum and Bailey circus, to watch them unload and see the Big Top go up, and meet the clowns before the matinee. That day he met famed Ringling veteran clowns Felix Adler and Emmett Kelly, who invited him to watch them make up for the show.

Not long after, when visiting Polack Bros. Circus with his mother, young Verne met the famed "picture clown" Harry Dann. Fascinated by Dann's meticulously-detailed, classic makeup, Verne asked the performer if he could touch it. Dann gave permission, and when the young Verne felt the clown's powdered face, he was amazed that the makeup felt dry and didn't smear. Like it was real. And there was green eyeshadow in the clown's makeup design, something never seen then, because most formulations for green greasepaint were toxic.

Verne was so fascinated with clown makeup and clowning that Dann invited him to hang around backstage in "clown alley" and observe the clowns applying their makeup and working in the show. Verne was encouraged to return as often as he liked; he was welcomed because of his interest and the fact he was quiet and stayed out of everyone's way. The clowns liked and therefore befriended him. As an adult in the 1970s, Verne dabbled in circus clowning himself, performing with the Dewayne Bros. Circus and the famous Ringling Bros./Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Eventually, things came full circle while he worked as a clown. A kid who was fascinated by Verne's makeup approached Verne and asked if he could touch it. "The youngster was amazed my makeup was dry and didn't smear! That gave me goose bumps as I recalled my first meeting so many years before with my circus pal Harry Dann."

Speaking of things that cause goose bumps, the fear of clowns is a real disorder, known as coulrophobia. From a National Geographic documentary comes this clip profiling a woman suffering from severe coulrophobia.

Below are two pictures of Verne Langdon from his days as a professional circus clown. The first is a publicity photo for the Dewayne Bros. Circus, the bottom one is from his time at Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey. Standing next to him is Mark Anthony.

Personally, I love clowns. Used to watch Bob Keeshan, Marcel Marceau, and Red Skeleton clowning on TV when I was a kid-- also dressed and made myself up as a hobo clown back then to entertain my baby sister. But if you're a clown bigot (the last acceptable prejudice ;^P ), you'll want to read this funny essay by a clown-hating young woman .

I'll close with a clown joke:

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One asks the other why it took so long to fix supper. The other cannibal replies, "Have you ever tried to clean a clown?"

Recommended website: PAT CASHIN'S CLOWN ALLEY.NET

* I like the term-- it sounds like a clown that is past its freshness point and is turning sour.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Drunken Severed Head Show... the name of a short film I and an enthusiastic cast and crew just photographed this past Thursday! Shot at the amazingly detailed Castle Blood, a haunted house attraction in Beallsville, PA, here are some pictures taken during and just after the shoot!

I was lucky to have two talented filmmakers, Josh Hehr and Justin Crimone, shooting, lighting, and recording sound. They were experienced and creative, which was of immense help to me, since I've never done this before and was kinda flying by the seat of my (figurative) pants. I'm the nominal director, but they were more than crew.

The film is/will be sort of a cross between Shock Theater, a sitcom, and a bad cable-access show. It's silly and schlocky and of low moral character!

Above, from left to right: Justin Crimone, Amberleigh Miller (seated) Josh Hehr, Chuck Alexander, Ricky Dick (owner of Castle Blood), and Jane the Voodoo Queen.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Incredible and horrifying...

More news almost too bizarre to believe. A man, described as a "model employee" kills his seatmate on a public bus, beheads him, and...

Thought of this...

Just realized I had a severed-head-on-a-cake photo that I hadn't used (a family friend sent it not long ago.) Since I've just posted a severed head news item, thought that was enough reason to run it.

Unlike the poor diver of the news item, this pic is of a living severed cousin, actually! He had a bit part in the movie Saw and this photo was taken at the cast party.

Update 09/06/09: Okay, the explanation above is BS. My cousin would never let his picture be taken! This guy just reminds me of him.

This picture actually comes from the blog Multiplayer, an blog for gamers "who play everything from 'Halo 3' to 'Desktop Tower Defense.'" The cake above (complete with a posing model on top!) was made for a "grossest cakes bake-off" meant to celebrate the release this year of an M-targeted Halloween horror game called “Dead Space” from Electronic Arts.

The game I'm playing this Halloween is "Jack-O-Lantern"-- I get lit and wind up smashed in the driveway!

This just in...

A real severed head story involving a shark can be found HERE. (Warning-- a true news item; tragic and rather gory.)

Just after I post some pictures of sharks, I read of this awful incident-- of course, I had to post it here at The Drunken Severed Head. You may need a drink after you read the story.

In other weird news, a German farmer receives the first double arm transplant. (And both transplants were complete arms, which is unusual; most similar transplants are of a hand and maybe part of an arm.) Positively Frankensteinian!


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