Owing to busy schedules (these things happen with a house full of teenagers), our traditional Halloween movie marathon had to be bumped from its normal slot on the Friday before Halloween to the week before that. Fortunately, my kids are all as eager for our marathon as I am, so we find ways to make it work!
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) – My dear, beautiful wife Michele is the one member of the family who does not look forward to this marathon tradition. “Could we start with at least one movie that I’d like?” she asked. So we amused ourselves with plenty of shots of Cary Grant reacting to things. Even though the references to Raymond Massey looking like Boris Karloff (in the role originated on stage by Boris Karloff) are getting less and less relevant every year, and kids these days don’t know Teddy Roosevelt from Franklin Roosevelt from [trying and failing to find another famous Roosevelt to throw in here], it’s still a quality entertainment product, nearly timeless in its ability to amuse.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) – There’s only so many times one can watch this movie, and I think I’m nearing that limit: I’ve memorized most of the memorable dialog (“Your stupid minds, see? Stupid! Stupid!”), I can point out to others the cardboard gravestones and the mismatched vehicles… But one does what one must to educate one’s children. And really, aren’t we all interested in the future? It is, after all, where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012) – That’s right, I just barely watched this for the first time myself a few weeks ago, but I decided my kids needed to see it. Yes, they said, “Aw, yeah!” at all the right spots (i.e., when Lincoln was being particularly bad-ass), and I think that at least one of them might attempt to handcraft a snap-open folding scythe of their own. One thing I realized on this re-watch: The score by Chris Ridenhour, known as “The Asylum’s Secret Weapon,” truly made this movie seem a couple of notches better than it is. And because of the subject matter, Ridenhour was able to play with recognizable themes and get away with it. The blending of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” is particularly impressive.
Robo Vampire (1988) – We really only lasted a half-hour with this one — and when I say “we,” I mean “I”; everyone else had wandered away or found something else to pay attention to by the time I finally pulled the plug. Given that it was directed by Godfrey Ho (as “Joe Livingstone”) and producted by Tomas Tang, it is therefore one of their infamous hack-job features, in which footage from an unfinished, usually bankrupt production — or two or three — was bought, edited together, and maybe interspersed with a bit of original footage; that, plus the fact that dubbed dialog can be changed to anything you want it to be, results in something like a for-real movie! Except that this “for-real movie” was anything but; at a half-hour in, all I knew was that there was something about drug lords who worked with Chinese hopping vampires, and something about a drug agent who was resurrected as a Robocop ripoff in a costume so low-budget that Tom Baker would have been embarrassed to share the screen with it. When apparently the third set of main characters was introduced — the two previous sets having been brought on and then promptly killed — I decided to cut my losses.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) – Capping it off with a movie that you don’t have to make excuses for: This an enjoyable movie, yes, but more importantly it’s a good movie, without camp or diminished expectations. Sariah was going to beg off and go to bed, but I made her watch the first five minutes. She stayed.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012) – For a cheapo Asylum mockbuster made to cash in on the release of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this is actually a surprisingly sincere movie. Yes, the locations are all obviously historical landmarks with manicured grounds, but at least the production went to Savannah, Georgia, instead of sticking with the “fifteen-mile diameter around LA” environs of most Asylum shoots. Bill Oberst Jr. plays the role of Lincoln absolutely straight, having played Lincoln in non-fantastic circumstances on stage twice before. Very few moments are played for obvious laughs or camp (aside from Lincoln slashing a zombie’s head off with his collapsible scythe while shouting, “Emancipate this!”), and the one which is obviously over the top — Lincoln striding in slo-mo out of the smoke cloud from a zombie-destroying explosion — still wasn’t too much to swallow. Heck, it made me want to stand with my hand over my heart, my other hand pumping the air. “U! S! A!”
It’s a movie of strange contrasts. On the one hand, it’s played almost completely straight, prompting me to say that it’s definitely the best family drama you’re going to set that’s set during a massive hurricane hitting Los Angeles which has driven swarms of sharks ahead of it to swim up streets during the storm surge and be carries aloft by waterspouts. (I say this not having seen the sequels, of course.)
On the other hand, this production’s reach exceeds its grasp just a little. Footage of for-real flooding is used to great effect (sometimes with SG sharks composited in), but there are just too many shots of dry streets, calm trees, and blue skies in the background of stormy scenes edited in.
But seriously — it’s a movie from The Asylum that premiered on SyFy, about a tornado full of sharks. By the expectations of the genre, it’s a hit.
The Bourne Identity (2002) – I guess if they’re going to keep making these, I might as well start watching them. I also read the original novel about three decades ago and barely remember anything from it, but I’ve also heard that this movie version basically takes a one-line description of the premise and then goes its own way.
Looking back now, it seems like a fairly generic premise — amnesiac government assassin hunted by all sides — and it certainly paved the way for Tom Cruise’s role in all of the Mission: Impossible movies (aside from the “amnesiac” part), but it’s a great example of the “we’ll keep things moving fast enough that you don’t have time to say hey wait about plot weaknesses” school of action filmmaking. (The biggest hey wait for me was, Why would a secret agent have a laser-light fob with his Swiss bank account number surgically implanted in his leg?”)
The rest of October has really filled up for me — and you can get your fill of Nathan at the same time!
Friday, October 14th:
I’ve been invited to perform again with the Freestyle Gargoyles, a cadre of musicians who provide improvised free jazz along with writers reading their short stories. (The last time I performed with them, at World Horror Con earlier this year, there turned out to be a sound system error and the recording was unsalvageable. I haven’t decided whether I’ll be reading the same story I did then, which I’ve grown to like less and less in the time since, or whether I’ll scramble and write something new that I will similarly grow to unlike in the future.) It’s free to come and watch; check it out here.
Saturday, October 15th:
I hadn’t planned to be a part of Halloween Expo, but I was offered half of a booth for free on Saturday by the mighty mighty David J. West, so there I’ll be! I’ll have both woodcut prints and monster movie posters for sale (first time in public for the latter), and likely some books, too. Booth #139, just across from the carved pumpkin display; I should be there from 9am to 9pm.
Friday, October 28th:
I’ll be right beside Carter Reid at Halloween Epicness: Deadman’s Ball, which shall also be filled with far more attractive people. (More attractive than me, I mean. Carter’s in a class all his own.) Again, woodcuts and movie posters — including, I hope, the still-in-progress Circus of the Living Dead poster.
Saturday, October 29th:
Pandemonium Art Gallery has done a series of “Saturday Art Live” evening events, where a local artist comes in and, you know, arts right there. This will be my turn for arting, so I shall art my artiest! Come see how I can turn otherwise unassuming wood into a woodcut for printing, plus a bunch of shavings!
A little bit different this time (not as specifically a SyFy-style creature movie), but fun nonetheless.
I haven’t posted this one for sale yet; I’m making a new arrangement to have them directly printed from orders here on the website, but I’m still battling out the technical details. Stay tuned!
(Next up: Circus of the Living Dead.)
In the SLC area and looking for something to do on the Friday before Halloween? I’ll be here, displaying art (including the recent B-movie posters):
See you there.
Update #1: I now have an account at Society 6 for ordering prints of these posters, as well as uploading them to DeviantArt and enabling print orders. (For some reasons, CafePress isn’t allowing me to select poster prints still — if that’s your preferred venue, stay tuned.)
Update #2: However, both Society 6 and Redbubble have auto-rejected the following for content. I’m corresponding with their service department to make my case, but until then, you’ll just have to use Zazzle or DeviantArt to order your prints of… NAZI SHARKS!
My woodcut print sales at Salt Lake Comic Con were underwhelming. Not surprising: They were priced as appropriate for hand-pulled prints from a woodcut block, not as mechanical reproductions from Kinko’s, and as such they were a high-priced item compared to most of the art displayed around me.
I was casting around for some kind of mechanically reproduced art category that I could make more of a profit with (I don’t like doing straight-up “fan art” of media properties, which is the most obvious option), when I hit on what seemed to me a killer idea. Carter Reid thinks it’s an excellent idea too, so if you disagree, you’re wrong.
Consider this: The most awesome part of all those silly SyFy Original-style movies — Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, etc. — is their audacious concepts advertised in their unsubtle titles, together with the imagery advertised in their posters/DVD covers. The movies themselves are uniformly underwhelming — sometimes moderately so, most of the time depressingly so.
So since the poster is the best part, why not do an original series of “movie posters” for concepts of that same ilk, without any intention of making the movie?
With that, I present to you the first of (hopefully) many: Octosaurus Rex.
I’ve signed up so far with Redbubble and Zazzle to provide print-on-demand posters of this, plus sundry other products (T-shirts, etc.); I plan also to have them available at CafePress, DeviantArt, maybe Society6, etc. And I’ll get some printed locally for hand-selling at conventions.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m halfway through the poster for Nazi Sharks.
If you picked up my card at Salt Lake Comic Con, welcome! I’m in the process of setting up an Etsy shop, so you can get the woodcuts you saw at SLCC and others in the future. If you want to know when the Etsy shop is up and running, leave a comment on this post and I’ll let you know.
I’ll be at Salt Lake Comic Con this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They’ve only got me on minimal panel duty:
…but most of the rest of the time I’ll be at a table [LOCATION YET TO BE DETERMINED], not only with all the Cold Fusion Media books you know and love, but also with both framed and unframed prints from the woodcuts I’ve been doing: