Monday, November 5, 2012

Movie review: Excision (2012)

When the credits rolled on this feature, the first from director Richard Bates, Jr., I had - as the kids today say - conflicted feels. There was so much that was great about it and so much that was lousy. And this film illustrates exactly why I don’t want my first feature to be from one of my short films.

EXCISION is the twisted tale of a teenaged aspiring surgeon’s coming-of-age in an uptight household whose whole attention is devoted to their chronically ill younger daughter. It’s based on the short film of the same name, which I’d gotten to see at ShockerFest in 2008 (funny side note: the “women’s horror film festival” I mention near the end of the post was Viscera...funny how things work out!)

I loved the original short film. Unfortunately, the feature length version suffers greatly from a lack of focus that was evident, but controlled, in the short.

According to the IMDb, the director has only made Excision and its feature length sister. Excision was released in 2008, after God knows how long in development and production, and then he made the feature in 2011/2012. The feature has a complete lack of proper development for Pauline and her family. If he’d focused less on the pseudo-psychosexual fantasies, or had worked them into the story better, and instead focused on the psychotic devolution of this troubled young girl, the feature would’ve been better.

To expand more on the above: the “psychosexual” fantasies felt like the director was imitating other filmmakers (Lynch and Kubrick in particular) and their definitions of psychosexual, but because they weren’t weaved into the story well, they felt completely hollow. As it stands, if they’d been taken out, it wouldn’t have affected the story at all.

This is not to say that Excision is a complete loss. The minimalist score from Steve Damstra II and Mads Heldtberg was pretty perfect and Itay Gross’ cinematography was mostly gorgeous. The real stand out here, as in the original short, were the performances. I’m going to say this right now: AnnaLynne McCord was fabulous as Pauline, but Traci Lords stole the show as her mother, Phyllis. It would’ve been amazing to see a more developed interaction between the two of them.

The film is frustrating because there’s so much that’s good about it, but it needed at least one more pass while still a script.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

A promotion and a note about rude people...

Viscera Organization 2012 trailer. from Viscera Organization on Vimeo.


As some of you may know, I'm involved with the Viscera Organization, a 501(c)3 non-profit out of L.A. that works to support, promote, and encourage women working in genre media by offering a variety of services.

My film aftershock is a part of their library and played the L.A. kick-off event in 2011. This year, I started working for them as a tour coordinator with James Morgart, the Director of Media and Distribution for the Organization. In August, I was given a different role: I was asked to run the yearly L.A. carpet ceremony which basically means that I'm in charge of everything for the Viscera Film Festival EXCEPT the actual film program (that's all up to the rockin' Heidi Honeycutt and the amazing Kayley Viteo) and which includes the other activities for the weekend such as the Mistresses of Horror Alliance dinner on Friday and the Post Apocalyptic Brunch on Sunday.

My role has expanded again as I've been voted onto the executive board of the Viscera Organization as the Director of Operations!

This won't be affecting my filmmaking, though it's more important than ever that I move out to the Left Coast. Not to L.A., though. I LOVE my L.A. friends, but I really don't want to live there.

On the filmmaking side, however, I have some great news! Tonight, Stella Buio is up for Best Horror Short and our leading lady, Linnea Quigley, is up for Best Actress in a Short at the Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival! Good luck to all of the nominees, but fingers crossed for Linnea! :D

And, speaking of screenings, the film also screened last weekend in the October FilmSlam at the Enzian! It's a great venue and the crowd was wonderful, surprising to me since we were the only horror film in the 'Slam. It was a great time and I have to thank Tim Anderson for screening the film and just being a really awesome guy! He loves indie film and it shows in the twinkle in his eyes.

And, finally, for this post anyway...Stella Buio screened at Creative Loafing's Reel Terror Film Festival in Tampa last night and we won an award for Best "Jaw Dropping" F/X!!

This was my second year taking part in Reel Terror and I like what Creative Loafing Tampa is trying to do. So far, it doesn't seem to be about fostering relationships with "celebrities," but about fostering a community. I did have one problem with the event this year, however, and it's not Creative Loafing's fault. My problem was this: if you want to have a conversation with someone and there's a panel or screening going on at the same time, either whisper or take it the fuck outside.

It's fine if you're not interested in whatever's going on because it's not about you, but you don't have to be rude to whoever is on stage, the filmmakers whose film is on screen, or the people who are trying to watch what's playing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Music review: Just Tell Me That You Want Me

I’m going to step out of my comfort zone a little bit and review an album I bought off of the other day. I don’t normally review music because that’s not where my “expertise” lies. I make horror films. But, in this case I’m going to make an exception because the album in question is Just Tell Me That You Want Me, a collection of Fleetwood Mac cover tunes by some of Today’s Biggest New Stars! and a couple of Yesterday’s Biggest Shining Beacons!

I’m a HUGE fan of Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac because I’m a HUGE fan of Stevie Nicks and I have been since I was eight years old. Now, I normally HATE covers, really of any group, but especially of Fleetwood Mac. It’s the same problem I have with most film remakes: it’s very rare that a band doing a cover can capture the emotion of the original song and what comes out is usually a trite, paint-by-numbers affair offering up so little innovation as to be a carbon copy of what came before or so much innovation that the song is completely lost.

Overall, the album is meh, but the handful of songs that I feel got it right are nearly worth the price of the entire album.

WARNING: foul language ahead.

“Albatross” covered by the Lee Ranaldo Band (featuring J Mascis). It’s not too far removed from the original instrumental piece from the Peter Green era. They’ve added a few filters to make it sound more indie, I guess. Passible.

“Landslide” covered by Anthony. I know people have this same problem with Stevie Nicks, but I find this guy’s vibrato to be very distracting. It’s like he doesn’t have control over his voice. Stevie has tight control over her voice and has maintained that control through the drugs, drinking, and smoking (I said I was a fan, that doesn’t mean I’m not realistic.) There’s no power behind this guy’s voice in this song so it comes off whiny.

“Before the Beginning” covered by Trixie Whitley. I’m familiar with quite a few of the pre-Nicks era songs, but not enough to be considered a fan. I sought out the original version of this song after hearing the cover, but I have to say that this version is AMAZING. I love love love this song.

“Oh Well” covered by Billy Gibbons and Company. “Oh Well” is one of my favourite songs. I usually prefer the faster, more intense Lindsay Buckingham version, but this version, by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, has taken Buckingham’s version and shown it how its done. This song is so damn good...it’s gritty and sexy and surprisingly controlled in its chaos. Love it!!

“Rhiannon” covered by Best Coast. What the fuck? Who the fuck thought this was a good fucking idea? GAH!! FUCK THESE PEOPLE IN THEIR EARS! This version makes me want to smash things. It’s like the Chopsticks rendition of Rhiannon. I probably can’t hate a cover song more than I hate this one. I can’t even listen to the whole thing. HATE HATE HATE.

“Think About Me” covered by The New Pornographers. Passible. I don’t think I’d search it out, but it’s got a fairly groovy surf vibe to it.

“Angel” covered by Marianne Faithfull. This is easily the most disappointing track in the collection. I expected far better from Marianne Faithfull. Angel is one of my top favourite Stevie Nicks songs, but this arrangement strips all of the dynamism and power out of it. Marianne Faithfull’s voice is just not up to this song. To be fair, Stevie Nicks’ voice may not be up to this song now, either, but it deserves better treatment. (1:55 and from around 7:03 to the end in this video (Click "this video" to be taken to the YouTube. :D)

“Silver Springs” covered by Lykke Li. More filters. What are these indie bands hiding behind all that crap? Oh, right. That they’re really not that good.

“Dreams” covered by The Kills. The garage-as-recording-studio sound does nothing to enhance the lack of enthusiasm shown in this song. It gets...okay...at the chorus, but it’s not impressive in the least.

“Gold Dust Woman” covered by Karen Elson. More thick reverb filters on another passible cover, but, it’s yet another paint-by-numbers piece.

“Storms” covered by Matt Sweeney and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Another favourite Stevie Nicks song turned into a pretty good cover. Not outstanding, not horrifying (I’m looking at you, Rhiannon.)

“Straight Back” covered by Washed Out. It’s got a slight Spanish feel to it and a lot of layers, but there so many filters on the “singers” that you can’t really understand the lyrics unless you already know them. Overall, however, I really like this cover. The original is very intense and the intensity here is approached from a different angle and with a lot of respect.

“That’s All for Everyone” covered by Tame Impala. 70s sci-fi version of one of Lindsay Buckingham’s better songs. Meh.

“Sisters of the Moon” covered by Craig Wedren and St. Vincent. This is another deep cut of Stevie Nicks’ that I adore and this cover came thisclose to blowing my mind. There are only three missteps in this song: the singer is singing through his nose for the majority of the first verse and chorus wherein he also sounds like he doesn't know the lyrics ("the black widow spider makes more sound than she // and the black pools in those eyes of hers make more sense to me.") And, finally, when the chick singer comes in, she really should've belted out “Does anyone know her name?” That’s the thrust of the song. Stevie’s asking if anyone knows her name, her real name...it should be heartrending. Instead, the chick who sings it in this cover is just like “Whatever...” and can’t even be arsed to sing over the drums (the drums should not be lowered in this song...) Even Lindsay belted it out in this amazing live version from the Mirage tour.
(edited to add: Turns out my talent for mishearing lyrics has struck again. I've always thought Stevie was singing "black pools", but it IS "black moons". Geez...lol)

“Dreams” covered by The Kills. Not a cover I would seek out in the future. Forced power, but true earnestness.

“Gypsy” covered by Gardens and Villa. Boring and trite cover of an incredible song.

“Tusk” covered by The Crystal Ark. This cover doesn’t make me as angry as Rhiannon, but come on...how can you take such a dynamic song and make it so incredibly boring? Where’s the power? Where’s the emotion? Instead it’s all electronic beeps and boops and some drummers who are bored even before their section starts.

“Hold Me” covered by Haïm. An okay cover, more paint-by-numbers, but there’s a section I really like, I think it’s the rhythm guitar that’s playing under the solo and then the picking part that comes before the series of choruses that finish out the song (for those who have this album and are keeping score, anyway.)

“Green Manalishi” covered by The Entrance Band. An original Mac song that I’m kind of familiar with and a remake that’s just sort of meh.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A passel of great news!!

It's been a while, but I've got quite a bit of good news to share! First, the biggest news... When I feel that something is worth my time, I become dedicated to that thing. It doesn't replace any current passions, it tends to add to them. In this case, that thing would be the Viscera Organization, a non-profit based out of L.A. that works to support and encourage female genre filmmakers. Among their services is the Viscera Film Festival which has a carpet ceremony every July and then the current's year's selections go out on tour around the world. My film aftershock is one of the films in the library, as an official selection of the 2011 Carpet Ceremony and Tour.

I started working for them in April as the assistant to James Morgart, the guy who's in charge of the tour (his official title is now Director of Media and Distribution.) In July, after an offhand, but sincere, series of remarks, a lot of contemplation, and quite a bit of discussion, it was proposed that I take on a different task...that of the Director of Operations for the L.A. Carpet Ceremony. According to the list of duties, I'm essentially in charge of the weekend festivities for the Viscera Film Festival. It's a bit daunting, but I'm up for it!

Viscera is very important to me. For years, I've felt alone as a woman who directs horror films. On the rare occasion that I met other female filmmakers (before Viscera, that is) they tended to be snobbish and catty. I don't see the point in that kind of attitude. It's boring. And I expected the same treatment when I got to the carpet ceremony last year. While there are certainly those who think they're better than the rest of us (there always are), the majority of women I've met thanks to Viscera have been people I'm so happy to have met, some of whom I now call friends. I'm so happy and so honoured to be a part of something as meaningful as Viscera!

By the way, we're looking for volunteer staff members! If you want to help out an amazing film-oriented non-profit, head over to the contact page, look at the staff PDF and send us an email!



On the film side, Stella Buio has gotten its first two festival acceptances!! The lovely Miguel Rodriguez of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, who played my film JustUs last year, has accepted Stella Buio into their line-up and I've since learned that fellow Viscera staff member Maude Michaud's film Red and my soul-sister-in-horror Karen Lam's film The Stolen will also be playing there this year! This festival takes place November 10 and 11.

Stella Buio has also been accepted to the Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival in Buffalo, New York! This festival takes place October 17-21.

But JustUs isn't dead...it was just accepted to the ShockerFest Horror Film Festival in Modesto, California! ShockerFest has morphed into a local access television film festival and JustUs will be screened on October 14 on KAZV-TV, channel 195 / broadcast channel 14.

And, finally...I GET TO SEE STEVIE NICKS IN CONCERT IN A FEW DAYS! That's not really career related, but whatever...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Travel...


I share the following story to share the humour part, not the complainy part because, when you think about it, it really is funny. Believe me, I know full well that these are First World Problems. That said...

I’ve traveled a lot in the past few years. It was mainly for film festivals, but I always had an ulteriour motive: find a new place to live. Some place where everyone isn’t so bloody angry all the time, that won’t bog me down with phonies and “filmmakers” and fish who think they’re bigger than they are and take their egos out on everyone else. Also, con men seem particularly prevalent in Sarasota. Either that or my cute dimples, boobs, and bubbly enthusiasm for filmmaking and films in general make them think I’m an easy target. 

I usually head out to Washington in September and had made plans to do so a little early so I could attend PAX Prime, a gaming convention in Seattle, and stay a little later so I could look at potential places to live around Portland. I made these plans a month or so ago. But because I have other plans after Washington state, my route is circumlocutious so I had to get one way tickets all the way through (which turned out to be a stroke of luck). 

Last week, Hurricane Isaac formed and the track took it across Tampa (Sarasota is an hour south) so I had to make a decision: try to arrange to go early or wait it out and see if the track changes.

You have to take between two and three planes when you’re flying within the contiguous United States and flying out of Sarasota. Their landing fees are so high that they’ve lost a lot of airlines and, at most, ten flights leave from there a day. So, considering all of this, I decided to call Expedia and see what my options were.

After an hour of “traveling music” (‘Hotel California’ ‘Driving in a Fast Car’, etc), I finally get someone on the phone and they told me that according to Delta’s policy, they could cancel my ticket and give me airline credit (my one way ticket was $180 with fees and all that.) Then, the next time I book a one way ticket, I could put that $180 toward the flight, pay the remainder and then pay $150 on top of that for “ticket reissue.” That’s probably not bad for a normal round trip ticket on Delta, but on a “cheap” one-way? 

My second option, the ticket change, would be to put that $180 toward a new one-way ticket. Sounds reasonable, until he told me that the new ticket would be $700.

It wasn’t the agent’s fault, he worked for Expedia not Delta, so I didn’t tell him to blow me.

I called Delta and got the exact same answers, but the new ticket was $800. I didn’t tell them to blow me, either. The person on the phone doesn't deserve my ire. I did come close, though.

At that point, I’d decided to wait it out and see what was going to happen, but my mom...she’s a worrier. And she suggested that I go ahead and get the ticket because if I didn’t, I most likely wouldn’t be able to go. And all of the weather models suggested the same thing. So I bought a ticket out via US Airways for Sunday.

The plane from Sarasota was running a little late. It was starting to rain and the wind had picked up a little bit and I was thinking, “Y’know, this was a good idea.” We got to DC a little early, but then the plane I was to take next, to Philadelphia, was late. And then, once they finally landed and we could board, they kept us sitting on the tarmac for an hour or so until a teeny-tiny storm system could pass by, which of course meant that we all missed our connections and were stuck in Philadelphia when we eventually arrived.

US Airways fixed us up with new tickets, but didn’t give us hotel rooms. They gave us a little pink slip that we could call to get cheap hotel rooms and free shuttle service. I guess I’m a snob because I didn’t want to stay in a crackshack so I went to the hotel that’s attached to the airport and stayed there instead.

My flight route now runs like this: I leave Philly for Charlotte at 5:00 pm and then I leave for Portland at 8:05.

The best part? I called my mom this morning and all’s well. There are a lot of hurricane parties going on today. New Orleans is now in the path of the storm...yet again. New Orleans needs some of Florida’s luck...and I want to leave even more now. We’re due a big storm and I’d like to be safe in the shadow of Mount St. Helens before that happens (my first time in Portland, Mount St. Helens erupted for the first time in two decades.)

The moral of the story? If I lived in Portland, I'd be home already...

*edit to add* Just got a weather update from the Mommy Channel: it's still all stormy and bad down in Florida, just not hurricane level in intensity.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Stella Buio finished and already garnering some reviews!



It's been a crazy time since coming back from Comic Con, but I finished the new short last week and have started sending it out to festivals and for review (see the trailer above.) Now it's the waiting game as more festivals announce calls for entry (I missed a few really big festival deadlines that I wanted to hit, but I'll send them the flick next year) and wait for the ones I have submitted to to get back to me.

The film has already garnered two reviews, one review ("Lori Bowen's Stella Buio Pays Homage to the Good Ol' Days") came from Justin Hamelin of Mangled Matters and the newly-renamed women in horror blog Cup of Stars. The other comes from the tall and goddessly Heidi Honeycutt of Planet Etheria (Stella Buio (2012)). It has to be noted that Heidi is a friend of mine and I hearts her dearly. Yes, her cheque is in the mail.

(edited at 7:13 pm EST to add a new review by Char Hardin at Char Hardin Horror Reviews  -- Unfortunately, it looks like a staple of Italian horror cinema, the Strangely Passive Victim, is going to be a sticking point for people...)

In the meanwhile, I can (and will!) share the preliminary artwork for the poster! Bonni Reid has painted (PAINTED) an astounding piece for us. She's currently working on one more element of the image so this isn't complete, plus the typeface will change and the credits will need to be added, but holy crapamoly!! It's GORGEOUS!


My plan with this short is much like the plan I had for JustUs except I don't have to contend with the (very reasonable) constraints of any union when it comes to putting the short on DVD. I won't be putting it on the internet publicly for a year to give the festivals a chance of running it without worrying about it being freely available.

Speaking of JustUs, I recently released that short film to the public, for free, via Vimeo! Click here to go watch it!

That's all the news that's currently fit-to-print! Be safe and be good to each other!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

San Diego Comic Con 2012

I shouldn’t have to post this warning, but this post contains language that may hurt delicate sensibilities. If it does, what in the hell are you doing reading the blog of a horror filmmaker?


For photos from my trip, head on over to my Flickr account! http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimyoo_films/
Anyway, you always read about how crazy San Diego’s Comic Con is, but it doesn’t really sink in properly unless you’ve lived it. I was there from at least 8 am until 9 pm every day from preview night until Sunday close. I definitely lived it.
But first, let’s start with my initial couple of days in San Diego. You may have noticed that I’m careful about using names in my posts about certain adventures I’ve had and certainly try to not name the people I’ve stayed with. I even avoid telling people where I’m staying when I’m in L.A. because safety is paramount and I don’t want to be the unwitting cause of some stupid, pointless drama or to have people suddenly start talking to me because I know this person or that person (I’m more familiar with this than you might think.)
My kind San Diego host was nice enough to give me a lift to Balboa Park early on Monday morning, a beautiful, huge area smack dab in the middle of the city that houses pretty much every single museum San Diego has to offer including the San Diego Zoo, which was my main goal for the day. I walked around just taking in the architecture and the biological house (where they have a lot of exotic flowers like the Venus fly trap!) and then headed over to the Zoo where I promptly got a sunburn.
A slideshow of my San Diego (not including Comic Con) photos, with some L.A. thrown in there for good measure.

On Tuesday, I ventured into downtown San Diego just to get a feel for where I would be spending the next five days of my life and walked along the bay via the Embarcadero Marina and Seaside Village. The weather was absolutely gorgeous the entire time and, of course, I managed to make my sunburn worse, but I saw a wild seal (who needs Sea World?!) and the Midway (what a huge boat!) and then my host and I went out to the Hotel del Coronado where they filmed Some Like It Hot and had dinner, then went back to the house to prepare for the next day. Preview Night.
Wednesday is Preview Night at Comic Con. What that means is that they let you in to the exhibitor floor around 6, I believe it was, and you can start spending your money early and then, alter on, you can watch some special screenings of new genre pilots. Since I’d already planned my weekend (HA!), I decided to do my shopping on Preview Night, well aware that sometimes you can get better deals on Sunday. I’m a t-shirt person and got a Carrie Fisher Wishful Drinking tour shirt, a Miskatonic University shirt, and a Facehug shirt (a parody of Facebook with a facehugger. :D)
It was fairly well packed on Wednesday night, but I kept telling myself, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” And I hadn’t.
Afterwards I went to a screening of Street Fighter hosted by Miguel Rodriguez of Horrible Imaginings for GamerCon. I, perhaps not surprisingly, hadn’t seen Street Fighter before. I don’t think I’ll see it again, even if the late Raul Julia was so good in it.
Wednesday and Thursday, I did what I call calorie packing. I ate more than I usually do and had actual ice cream (god, it was delicious, too). I got the idea from marathon runners because I figured that I wouldn’t really have a chance to eat during the con. I was right. Other than whatever breakfast bars I brought in with me (which, let’s be honest, are like Lembas bread...they might fill you up for a hot minute, but don’t taste like much), I didn’t eat at Comic Con and usually afterwards, I was too tired to get something to eat. I feel like I lost weight, but the scale’s all like “Nope.”
Thursday was the true start of Comic Con. I managed to just barely make it into a couple of panels, but even though I left one early, I didn’t make it to the screening of my friend Karen Lam’s film Doll Parts. This made me a sad panda. Not making it to things became common throughout the con. How in the hell do people make it to all of the panels they want to see? Oh yeah, they camp outside the night be-fuckin’-fore.
Really?
Yes, really.
And they stay through panels they don’t care about, pretty much guaranteeing that those who want to see that panel don’t get to.
Obviously, I’m really annoyed by the way Comic Con handles the panels and am going to sum up Thursday like this: I got to see the Disney panel and Jackie Chan in Hall H by sheer luck. The rest of the panels were in smaller rooms and no one really cared about them enough to line up for days in advance.
Friday, though...Friday was going to be a big day. The Firefly and Walking Dead panels were that day as well as the Resident Evil movie and Looper/Elysium/Total Recall panels. Firefly was in Ballroom 20 which is a big room, but not Hall H size. I got in line for that, but first i had to find the end of the line...which was all the way down by the bay. Eventually, volunteers came out and told us that where we were in line meant that we probably wouldn’t get in. I was fine with waiting to see until they came out and told us to sit down. For whatever reason, that got my hackles up and I left the line, wandered for a moment, then got in line for Hall H. It was still early so I hoped that maybe I could get into the Walking Dead panel at 1:30 I think it was, even though that line wrapped around a large sidewalk by the bay...twice.
I got into line around 9 am, I believe. I didn’t get into Hall H until the 3 or 4 pm Resident Evil panel and even then, I almost didn’t make it for that.
What.
the.
fuck.
I’d thought ahead and put a couple of movies on my iPod, including a great flick called The Cellar Door. It starts out a bit slow (I’m sorry, but motherfucker kidnaps me for some weird fetish thing and I get a chance to escape, I’m not going to just knock him out and run. He’ll Always Be There if I do that. No, no, I’ma make sure he can’t follow me, y’dig?), but the film picks up in the second act or so and doesn’t relent. Most of that intensity is thanks to lead Michelle Tomlinson and how well she plays off the antagonist.
I survived a six hours wait in line to see these panels. Now that it’s over, I can say it was kind of worth it, but I would not do it again unless I had friends who were willing to stand with me. Because Comic Con apparently refuses to figure out a better method (reserved or ticketed seating, separate lines, clearing the fucking rooms in-between panels), they’ve made standing in line a team sport. You need at least two people so that one can go to the bathroom or make a Starbucks run and the other can hold the fort. All of the friends I had at Comic Con were WORKING the convention either as press or in a booth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to being by myself and doing a lot of things by myself. When I was a kid, I was once yelled at by my brother’s then-girlfriend because I said that I wanted to go bowling with them and for a long time afterward, I just waited for invitations to hang out. Eventually, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait anymore and started to invite myself. My conversations with me often go like this:
“Hmm...I want butterbeer.” -- “Do you have money to go to Universal?” -- “I have an annual pass.” -- “Let’s go!” -- “WHEE BUTTERBEER!”
In case you can’t tell, I’m pretty socially awkward. Thankfully, I understand that.
Shit, now I want some butterbeer and my annual pass has lapsed.
Anyway, after wasting most of my day in a fucking line, I escaped and went to things that didn’t really have lines and the next day, Saturday, where the big panel I wanted to see was Django Unchained, I skipped out on lines almost entirely and hung out with a couple of friends who came down from L.A. I missed out on Django, Mythbusters, and Carrie Fisher, but hanging with people I like, even in a madhouse such as this, was far better. When they left, I caught the Tromatize Me panel about branding yourself / your work and that was pretty much it.
Sunday, I headed in and went right to the dealer room for try and snag some free stuff. Because I wasted my time in line on Friday and didn’t want to waste my time on Saturday, I missed out on the swag, but Sunday I was able to grab some free stuff and I got a good deal from the Famous Monsters of Filmland booth that had a buy-one-get-one-free deal on their shirts and hoodies.
I had a couple of panels I wanted to get into that day and I managed to get into two out of three of them. I missed the Drew Struzan panel, though. Ah well. Since I missed that, I ended up going to the Sega pop-up arcade and playing Aliens: Colonial Marines and then went over to the Nintendo lounge and played the new Castlevania 3DS game. I was disappointed in their 3D, though. Either it needs work or they need to take that handset off the display.
After that, I went back to where I was staying, hung out for a bit, then passed out for I was leaving very late the next day and wanted to be all fresh.
The next day was a Monday, the start of a new week. I popped back downtown to check out what I didn’t get to see while there during the event, got some food, and then went back to make sure I had everything packed up and ready to go for my trip home. 
I left San Diego International Airport at seven pm and got home around 11 the next morning. That was rough.
So there you have it. I survived Comic Con. If I ever have a film that makes people stand in line like that at a con, I’m going to make sure they’re taken care of. I’m going to have volunteers take them bottles of water and Lembas bread and maybe even line-exclusive swag because the way Comic Con handles it is bullshit.

As far as costumes go, I saw a lot, but very few really stood out. I saw a lot of men in drag, like male Slave Leias and a male Catwoman, even a male Princess Peach. Lots of Doctor Whos (not Doctor Whose) of varying gender associations as well as a couple of Hot TARDISes and Hot Daleks.I don't have a whole lot of costume pictures, though. Most of the time, I really just wanted to get to the point B...

Would I do this again? Sure! But I'd hope for a panel or friends to be with me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The guts of the story in all of it's bloody glory; Viscera 2012


Alright so I’m back from my trip to California which spanned not only L.A. for this year’s Viscera Film Festival, but also San Diego for the San Diego Comic Con. Chronologically, Viscera was first so that’s what this post is about.
THURSDAY, JULY 5, 2012:
I got in to L.A. in the afternoon and pretty much got right to work, heading first to drop off my bags at my kind host’s house then heading in to the Egyptian for the volunteer meeting. I didn’t have a film in this year’s festival, but that’s not going to stop me from coming out and supporting my fellow filmmakers! Since I was going to be there regardless, they asked me to shoot the weekend. 
I shot their Marrow event in February and learned a lot about live event sound -- remember, I shoot my brother’s band, but either don’t worry about sound or have my Zoom set up to capture it separately. For Marrow, I used my wireless lavalieres, thinking hey, they’re small, will travel well, and are really excellent. While all of that is true, lavs aren’t good for events involving lots of people speaking very loudly in enclosed spaces. Since I would have to check a bag for the week and a half I was in California, I packed my boom mic in that so I could take it with me, a HUGE improvement in the sound area.
In an attempt to be more like my brother, who had an accident while on a hike in Peru (sounds so exotic!), within an hour of arriving at the Egyptian, I...heh...fell and sprained my ankle. Spectacularly. I did this last weekend and I still have bruises and my ankle is still very sore (but I also limped my ass through all of Comic Con...) It was no one’s fault. I was hoping to get an interesting angle and knew where I was stepping, but my ankle decided that it didn’t want to go down that step and let me know...violently and painfully.
I would be standing still for most of the shoot anyway, so to me, there’s no real point in complaining about it so long as I could get my kind host to stop by a pharmacy before we went back home so I could get a wrap. I just had to knock my posture out of whack for a while as I supported my weight on my left leg. No biggie.
The rest of the volunteer meeting went well and I got to hang out with a couple of friends afterwards for a bit before the HOLY SHIT started. Then, we went and got me a wrap for my ankle and went to sleep. 
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2012:
Friday was only jam-packed in that I’d made plans to spend some time with a very good friend of mine and then had to get back to the house and get ready for the MoHA dinner. My friend and I walked Lake Hollywood -- yes, with my sprained ankle...I don’t get to see this person very often and I’d never been to Lake Hollywood. Thank goodness for Tylenol through my entire stay! -- and then we had a great lunch at Aroma Cafe. 
When we walked up, there was a gentleman sitting by the entryway to the cafe. I instantly recognized him; it was Johnny Dark who is most famous -- to me anyway -- as Danny the owner of Danny’s Pizzaria in Just the Ten of Us. However, he was also in the surprisingly good Up Your Alley, a romantic comedy starring Linda Blair and the formerly Unknown Comic, Murray Langston (I used to be a huge Linda Blair fan.)
Part of me really wanted to go up to him and just say thank you, but the rest of me, the part that didn’t want to bother him, won out and I didn’t. This is a common motif for me...
After lunch, I made my way back to where I was staying and got ready for the MoHA Dinner. What is this MoHA dinner I’m talking about? It’s a gathering for the Mistresses of Horror Alliance, a new branch of Viscera headed by the fabulous Miss Maude Michaud. Where Viscera seeks to promote and encourage female filmmakers externally, MoHA seeks to connect those filmmakers with each other to encourage collaboration amongst our ranks. This is all a part of the message of Viscera, that we’re better working together like the organs of the human body (y’know...viscera.)
The MoHA dinner was at the Caña Rum Bar, a posh, exclusive, members-only joint in downtown L.A., and was catered by Anarkitchen. It was freakin’ awesome! I couldn’t film all of it, the lighting was pretty bad once the sun went down, but trust me when I say that it was a fabulous event.
After the MoHA dinner, it was time to get some rest for the next day was V-day, baby.
SATURDAY, JULY 7, 2012:
Up and at ‘em fairly early for it was The Big Day, the film festival at the Egyptian. Holy crap, you guys. You don’t understand. It’s the Egyptian. It’s one of the Holy Grails of film, one of the most famous and historic landmark theatres in the United States if not the world and they were allowing Viscera to be there. Not only that, but they welcomed Viscera with open arms into their gorgeous building and courtyard.
The carpet was rolled out down the middle of the courtyard leading to the front doors of the theatre. Blood spatters were still being added when we got there around 12:30 pm. The step and repeat banner and carpet were already set up and the lighting guy was putting up his lights, the raffle table was being loaded, and the MoHA table was raring to go. I was there a couple of hours early so I started getting B-roll almost immediately (B-roll is “extra” footage that will be intercut with, say, an interview or cut together to go under a voice-over.)
I loved shooting at the Egyptian, but I could’ve done without the curious stares from the Hollywood tourists. I stayed inside the courtyard most of the time, but I knew the sun would provide some interesting lighting to the Egyptian signs and eventually had to go out to the sidewalk for footage. I got some great shots, though, and at least the tourists weren’t so boggled by Something Going On that they tried to bug me about it. I did feel like paparazzi at one point when I was waiting for something out on the sidewalk. I’m the worst paparazzi, though.
I loved shooting the event and have to give a special shout out to the woman who did the actual interviewing part for me, Savannah Schoenecker. She did a great job!
There was a slight set-back in that the step-and-repeat set up had to be moved to another part of the courtyard due to a tiny oversight, but we still ended up finishing the carpet ceremony on time, if not a little early, and ushered everyone inside where the real fun was to take place!
During this time, I discovered that had one battery with full power whereas I had planned it so that I would have at least two. I shot director Mary Lambert receiving the Inspiration Award and the rest of the introduction, but because of the battery woes, I got to see some of the films as I needed to keep the one full battery for the intermission B-roll, the raffle table during the intermission as people came to claim their goodies, the formal MoHA announcement, and the awards / Q&A as the other batteries charged, painfully slowly, in the VIP section.
I loved pretty much every film I got to see this year. Some of the stand-outs for me were The Dump (about two serial killers who find themselves in an awkward position whilst trying to dispose of their victims), Escape from Hellview (a beautiful animated piece out of Israel), How to Rid Your Lover of a Negative Emotion Caused by You (which was about accepting each other warts and all), and Barbie Girls (about friendship and obsession.)
After the screening was the presentation of the awards and, I’ll be honest, I can’t remember who won what. I know that Rebekka McKendry won something for The Dump (best director?), and that Bloodtraffick won (I think that was best cinematography), and The Night Caller won and I think that was for best film. I feel crappy for not being able to remember, but my footage is on my laptop and my laptop is in my room and my room is waaaaaaay over there and my foot is stiff and sore waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. /whine
Afterwards, we all headed over to Hotel Roosevelt for the afterparty. I shot a little bit there, but bars keep things dark for a reason. It was a great time talking to friends and seeing other friends who, for whatever terrible horrible no good reason, couldn’t make it to the main event. A few of us headed out a little early and got some rest for the next day was the brunch!
SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2012:
The first official Viscera Post-Apocalyptic Brunch was held at the Wirsthaus, a German bar and restaurant. Delicious Bavarian pretzels for brunch? Yes, please. (They really were flippin’ awesome.) I was a little loopy and tired, not unlike my compatriots, but all in all it was a great day! After that, I climbed into the car of my next kind host for the trip to San Diego and my first Comic Con experience, but in the immortal words of the voice over at the end of The NeverEnding Story, that's another story.

Now that I’m at the end of my post, and you, dear reader, have made it this far, I want to send a special thank you to Shannon Lark, Heidi Honeycutt, and Stacy Hammon, the triforce of awesome behind the Viscera organization. My love and my loyalty are not easily won and these ladies have mine in spades. Thank you Shannon, Stacy, and Heidi for proving to me that I’m not alone and that there are others out there who want to nurture and support other filmmakers, too. Now, I just need to get the hell out of Florida (but not move to L.A. I want to live in Portland, Oregon.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

the STELLA BUIO trailer!

I finished cutting the trailer for Stella Buio the day before yesterday and posted it to YouTube, then decided to take yesterday, today, and probably tomorrow off from the post process. I wrote the film, I produced the film, I cast it, directed it, shot it, am doing any computer based visual effects I need to, I'm editing it, and I'm promoting it. It's a lot and I'm feeling a bit toasty, but that's what you do on no-to-low budget movies - length doesn't matter.

So, here it is! The trailer for Stella Buio! The film stars Chris Cline, Lance Flint, Laura D'Anieri, Shawn McBee, Melanie Robel, and Linnea Quigley.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stella Buio wrapped! Yay!!

I'm sitting here, editing the teaser for Stella Buio (well, doing VFX work first, which was something I had not anticipated doing especially for minor issues, but the name of the game in indie film is roll with the punches!) and I realized that I hadn't updated my blog to say "FILM'S DONE!"

I've been posting a new behind the scenes photo every day on my Tumblr (http://kimyoofilms.tumblr.com) and trying to get the first teaser cut before I take a day or two off to recuperate a little before launching myself into full blown Post Land.

We didn't make our IndieGoGo goal, which I figured would happen. Or not happen. You know what I mean. But we got enough to shoot the film, make sure people were fed and hydrated, make sure the actors and crew got a little bit of money for their time and gasoline for their drive, get it out to festivals and the contributors, and to get proper art done by Bonni Reid.

Other than a few surprising issues, the shoot itself went beautifully! The cast was amazing and I'm so lucky to have gotten such amazing people: Chris Cline, Lance Flint, Laura D'Anieri, Shawn McBee, Melanie Robel, and, of course, the amazing Linnea Quigley.

The footage looks gorgeous thanks to my lighting guy Wheat! I'm good at framing shots, but he's the master of the lights and that makes all of the difference.

My brother came along for the ride this time. He hasn't been on one of my film sets before. He was kind enough to shoot all of the behind the scenes photos and videos (which I'll also be working on) and helped Wheat set up and move lights and gear around.

Janine, of course, was back for more torture. She recorded sound for me again and helped out where she could. So much couldn't happen if it weren't for her awesomeness.

We shot the main stuff over two long days so we could get the out-of-town actors wrapped quickly. Last night, we wrapped principal photography entirely. Now, it's just a matter of editing the footage, seeing what, if anything, needs to and can be reshot or picked up, and then I can send it to Shawn (my brother) for scoring!

This has been a great break, but I'd better get back to the teaser. These VFX shots won't effect themselves and I want to have this one shot done before I go to bed.

Monday, May 28, 2012

STELLA BUIO Production Diary: 8 Days Until Principal Photography.


I’m sitting here, listening to my friend Miguel Rodriguez talk to Matthew Kelly about John Carpenter’s The Fog, when I realized with a start that it’s May 28. Counting on my fingers, we start filming Stella Buio in eight days. I’ve never had so much pre-production time on a film before, which you wouldn’t think would be true because I’m the producer, but it is true. When I “get excited and make something”, it’s usually a pretty quick process and that’s what I’m used to. When it comes to “proper” filmmaking, with the paperwork and professional actors and crew and all that, you really have to be a little more patient.
This script originally came about because my partner-in-crime, Chris Cline, said, “Hey, we should write a giallo together...” Giallo has turned into a catch-all phrase for 70s Italian horror cinema, but it really refers to gorgeous, lurid, pulp-y Italian murder mysteries like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. I love gialli, don’t get me wrong, but my favourite films from that era in Italian filmmaking are films like City of the Living Dead, Black Sabbath, and Suspiria. When he brought this up, I went off and wrote the first draft of the script influenced by my likes, and let it sit for a minute, then I edited and sent him the second draft. Chris loved the second draft and said that he didn’t even want to touch it. I did a little more editing to it and then locked it.
It had to go onto the shelf, though, because at the time, I had a few other projects I needed to get to before I made Stella Buio (I wrote it a couple of years ago, while I was still working at the movie theatre), but when a short film fell through earlier this year, I pulled this out and said, “I am going to make this.”
And make it I will.
Firstly, I knew that I’d need some money. All of my stuff in the past has been very low budget because I had to pay for it out of pocket and my pockets are shallow. Film festival submissions are the most expensive thing for a low-budget indie filmmaker at $35 a pop (on average), but also, I’m not very good at lighting and I need someone to do special effects. And, I’d like to not have to design my poster art myself.  And there’s someone I really, really want to work with. So, I decided to start an IndieGoGo campaign so I could pay the people I’m bringing on board.
I chose IndieGoGo because I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to raise the full amount of my estimated budget ($10,000, but that, unlike quite a few productions I’ve seen that crowdfund their budgets and then come back looking for “finishing costs”, includes everything), but IndieGoGo lets you keep what you’ve earned. Like I say in every plea for help, every little bit helps. Kickstarter is great because it does instill more trust that the money will be used for what it’s intended, but if you don’t raise the full amount, you get nothing. I was (and am) making this film regardless so it truly is a matter of every little donation helping to make the film (you can donate here= http://igg.me/p/78472?a=55968 ).
As I said before, I’m not very good at lighting. I’m not afraid of admitting my limitations. Thankfully, I know someone who IS good at lighting. I’ve known Wheat for a few years now thanks to the wonderful Sage Hall. He does a lot of cinematography and is truly ace at sculpting and painting with light. I shoot my own stuff 
Effects. Normally, I have to rely on VFX more than I’m comfortable with because I LOVE practical effects so so so much. For this, I wanted and needed to dedicate as much money as I could to good, solid practical effects and the first name that came to mind was a friend I’ve had since I worked in his haunted houses in high school: Greg Baker. I knew he’d be able to get me what I needed and keep the cost down if it came to that (and it did).
Earlier this year, I was in L.A. while an exhibit was going on featuring a new friend I met in Vancouver, B.C.: Bonni Reid. What I saw literally blew my mind (of what was there, that piece is my favourite, but click here to explore her website.) As soon as I saw these pieces, I knew that I wanted to work with her. And when my shoot in February / March fell apart and I picked up Stella Buio, I knew THIS was the project to work on with her.
As for casting, the first person I cast was Chris Cline as the zombie. He knows exactly what I’m going for here. My friend Shawn McBee was second. Thirdly, I cast Linnea Quigley. In my genre, when you see a name like Linnea Quigley attached to a film, it’s usually a stunt to get people to pay attention. But let’s be honest...this is a short film. I’m not trying to sell anything on her name. Ever since I realized that I wanted (and could) make horror films, I’ve wanted to work with Linnea Quigley and I’m incredibly fortunate that she came on board.
I’ve known of Melanie Robel for a while now thanks to the wonders of Facebook, but Linnea was the one who recommended her to me and the rest of the cast trickled down from there. I’m really excited to work with all of them...in eight days! WOW!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stella Buio production video blogs.

So, I've started making video blogs for the production of the new flick. It's not something I've ever done before and, if you know me at all you know this is so not my thing, but I need to promote my work, right? So, here it is. We're about a week away from shooting and I've made two videos. This one is my favourite, it's the reality of doing paperwork. You can't tell me that you don't do the same thing...

We're still accepting donations! We haven't made our goal, but every little bit helps because we're going to make the film regardless! And if you don't like IndieGoGo or want to do the public thing, just leave a comment with your email and we'll talk! (Sorry for the extra step, but my spam has been very interesting lately...lol

Thursday, May 10, 2012

STELLA BUIO full cast announced!

I've finalized my cast and now feel comfortable listing the full cast for my new short film, Stella Buio!

First, we have Lance Flint playing the character of Frederick, one of Julie's brothers.

Constant readers with long memories might remember the next two names from earlier Kimyoo Films productions. Chris Cline, who played the Priest in my film A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema and A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: and be at rest, will be playing the lead zombie, Philip. This script came about because he wanted to work on a giallo-style script with me and while this film isn't technically giallo, and he had little to do with the plot of this one, I still say he came up with the concept. Also, Shawn McBee, my cinematographer on Without/Within and a producer on Without/Within and A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema, will be making his formal acting bow as Victor, Julie's other brother.

Lastly, Laura D'Anieri will be playing Greta, the family matriarch (like I said in my announcement on the Stella Buio campaign page, I love that word...matriarch.)

They join the previously announced Melanie Robel as our lead protagonist Julie and Linnea Quigley as our lead antagonist, and title character, Stella Buio.

I'm so incredibly excited for this flick, you have no idea!

26 days!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

thoughts on Fangoria Legends presents: GEORGE A. ROMERO

I should preface this with the following full disclosure: I love George A. Romero. His Dead cycle specifically has informed my work almost as much as Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, but his philosophy about filmmaking in genre is in there, too. For the record, my favourite of the Dead cycle is Day of the Dead.

Also, I love Fangoria. I haven't had a subscription as long as some of my counterparts because I couldn't afford it until I was in my late 20s, but I've been getting it off-and-on since I was at least eleven or twelve years old (unlike most people, I'm not afraid of my age: I turn 34 this October). I still have some of my older issues. For a long time, however, it became increasingly difficult to read Fango because they gave everything away in the interviews and major pieces on the films they were covering. If I already wanted to see the film they were writing about, I would skip the article entirely. If I started to read an article for a film I didn't know about and became interested in it, I would be spoiled for the plot. Then Chris Alexander came in and while I won't say that the spoiler situation has changed too much, I will say that he's brought some of my favourite pieces back to the mag and done some really good things with it. Yes, I say this even in spite of his...interesting...comments about Women in Horror Month.

When I heard that Fango was doing a line of special issues dedicated to the greats, I gigglesnorted and chairdanced as I'm sure most of my fellow horror fans did (but won't admit to because, you know, they're too cool for that). I plunked down my $9.99 plus shipping for the first issue, which is dedicated to George A. Romero, months ago and it was delivered to my P.O. box from which I picked it up yesterday.

It's very pretty and well put together. The interview with Romero at the end is strangely short and I would've loved to have heard ANYTHING from Lori Cardille or Gaylen Ross or Judith O'Dea. I mean, they interviewed Lynn Lowry from The Crazies, why not the ladies of the Dead cycle as well? And they interviewed John Russo, John Amplas, and Tom Savini, but where are Ken Foree or Joe Pilato or Russell Streiner? Also, if they're going to charge $10 for a special issue, there shouldn't be adverts for things not directly related to the subject. Such as, why are there adverts for Dark Night of the Scarecrow or Lost or Forgotten Photography on the first two pages? This isn't a standard issue of Fango, guys. As the blood spatter on the front says, it's an "ALL NEW SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION ISSUE!" And let me repeat: it doesn't come as part of the subscription. You have to order it separately for $9.99 plus shipping.

All right, now that that's off my chest, I can get to the nitty-gritty of why I'm actually writing this post. I'm not an expert; I'm a huge freakin' fan. Reading these pieces, it's easy to tell that these writers are fans, too. So imagine my surprise when I get to page 8 in which Fango editor Chris Alexander makes a mistake while recounting the plot of Romero's seminal NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD for those who've never seen the original: he says that Barbra and Johnny visit the grave of their mother. Uh, no. Not in the original. In the original, Johnny and Barbra are visiting the grave of their father at the behest of their mother. (2:30 into the video I linked to here.) In the Tom Savini-directed remake from 1990, they're visiting the grave of their mother.

Fast forward to the Dawn of the Dead piece, also written by Chris Alexander. On page 24/25 is this quote in the recap of the film's plot: "It's the end of the world - perhaps following Night, perhaps in another universe altogether." It's the same universe. Dawn starts in the Night, if you will, and when Stephen (Flyboy) flies the helicopter over the field of rednecks out hunting the ghouls, that's the end of Night. Because Dawn takes place over several months, it's possible to correlate the end of Dawn to the beginning of Day except for the fact that the ghouls aren't as decomposed at the end of Dawn (a slight technical issue, but one worth noting.)

And then we get to the Day of the Dead piece written by Sean Smithson. On page 36, Smithson misquotes the film by saying that the underground caverns are a "three-mile-long-tombstone." What John actually says is that it's a "great big, 14 mile tombstone." (Specifically around the 1:15 mark in the video I linked to.) (Smithson graciously ignores the fact that Romero screwed up in placing the film in Florida, where I live. You can't have underground caverns here, not without some major water issues.)

As for the rest of the pieces (including Land, Diary, and Survival), they're correct as far as I can tell. I really like Land and Diary, but have only seen Survival twice. Knightriders and Creepshow are probably my favourite of his non-Dead films. Martin's a great take on vampire lore, but I've never been a big vampire fan so it ranks fairly low only for that reason. But, because my nerdity doesn't extend as much to the rest of Romero's oeuvre, I can't verify if the pieces are correct. My point is that I, and other fans like me, shouldn't have to. That's the job of the people writing the pieces and, finally, Chris Alexander's job as editor of the magazine. Typos happen. Mistakes happen. But so many mistakes in an "ALL NEW SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION ISSUE!" from Fangoria, the preeminent American horror movie magazine? Disappointing.

Let's lighten things up (yeah, yeah, it's mainly sci-fi...)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stella Buio fundraising

I'm raising money for my new short film which is called STELLA BUIO. It's in the vein of classic Italian zombie flicks from the 70s like Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, and THE BEYOND with lighting in the vein of Mario Bava (specifically "The Drop of Water" from BLACK SABBATH and Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA.) I've got less than a month to raise the funds via IndieGoGo. It's more ambitious than I've done in the past. I've got someone handling the lighting for me (Wheat!), I've got someone handling the practical effects for me (Greg Baker of Divine Imagery!), I've got a professional artist doing my poster art (Bonni Reid!) and I'm bringing in some immensely talented actors such as Melanie Robel and the legendary Linnea Quigley. My brother, Shawn Bowen of World Collision, will be handling the score for me and if you go to the gallery page of my campaign, you can hear sample of the tracks he's already sent to me. The $10,000 goal encompasses everything: practical effects, props, food, gasoline, hotel rooms, actors, festival fees, promotional materials, post-production, everything. I won't come back a month or two later asking for more money for this project or finishing funds or money to help me get to festivals or anything like that. This money does not go to me, it goes toward making what I think will be an awesome, fun short film. If we don't meet the goal, the film will be made anyway. If you want to help, but you're uncomfortable with online donations, email me at Kimyoo . Films @ gmail . com. If you can't donate, but want to help, please pass the link to the IndieGoGo campaign to others.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Film Festival Confessional: The Sarasota Film Festival Day One

Last night, I went to the opening night film and party for the Sarasota Film Festival. I got there a little early, rolling up in my boldly emblazoned taxicab (the venue where the event was held is within walking distance, but oi with the sweating and the nice clothes, so no thank you) and I took a deep, fortifying breath before walking up to a volunteer to ask about doing the red carpet. They didn't know so they asked another volunteer who said that I couldn't walk the red carpet.

I asked this volunteer: "Even though I'm an artist with a film in the festival, I can't walk the red carpet?"

"No."

"So it's reserved for the big names like Frank Langella?" (Who is very nice, by the way, at least in my limited interaction with him.)

"Yes."

Welcome to the Sarasota Film Festival!

After that, I got in line to get into the venue to watch Robot and Frank starring Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon (unfortunately, either she said no, the festival couldn't afford her, or they didn't try to get her because she wasn't there...though there was one woman in the audience who resembled her.) It was a cute flick, though it felt a little long. And needed more Susan Sarandon (but I'm biased as I love her like whoa.)

Afterwards was the opening night party replete with fog and lasers and a video D.J. playing music by the Black Eyed Peas, but the volume was at a reasonable level since the doors were open. I said a few hellos, I was interviewed by SRQ Magazine (it's not up yet and lord knows if they'll put it up), I met Frank Langella, and I had a chocolate cake pop, then I walked my ass home.

All told, it was an okay night. Let's see what tonight holds!

Friday, April 13, 2012

More Kimyoo Films screenings!

JUSTUS screens this week in Sarasota, Florida, at the Sarasota Film Festival, April 19 at 1:30 pm and April 22 at 11:45 am! AND I WILL BE THERE! :D I'd better be, I live there, dammit (Janet)!

JUSTUS also screens this week at the Bare Bones Film Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma (I'm unsure about exact times and their website doesn't list the times independently.)

Next week, JUSTUS screens at the Motor City Nightmares Film Festival in Novi, Michigan, Saturday, April 28, in the 1:30 shorts block and Sunday, April 29, in the 11:30 am shorts block!

AFTERSHOCK plays in Toronto May 15 as part of the Viscera Film Festival and Fangoria's Fright Nights at the Projection Booth! My soul sister Karen Lam's feature film Stained plays first so if you're going to see the Viscera films, you should definitely go early enough to watch Stained, too!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Movie Reviews: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

I've been excited to see this film since...Jesus, wasn't it shot in 2009? You attach Joss Whedon to my beloved genre, then add in David Leroy Anderson and AFX Studios (and, of course, therein adding Heather Langenkamp in a slightly tangential way and whom y'all know I adore :D) and you have an extremely happy fangirl who's been anxiously awaiting this flick and has been building it up in her mind for three years. With that kind of build up, there's plenty of distance to fall. And then, it was torture as some of my friends got to see it super early and were posting reviews and stuff and I was all like "LALALA! I'M NOT LISTENING!" while my fingers were stuck in my ears and I turned green with jealousy. I wasn't jealous in a hateful, spiteful way like "f**k them for being awesome..." or something, I was jealous because I would've loved to watch it with them and had someone to talk to about it.

Here's the gist of the plot: Five college kids go to a secluded cabin in the woods. Even though the film is fairly straight forward, to say any more might be a disservice to the film and to you, the viewer. As much as I've wanted to see this film, I've remained spoiler free for three years, watching only one trailer and not looking at any galleries or my Fango or even reading certain interviews with Whedon. I KNOW it helped me enjoy the film that much more. Trailer cutters put entirely too much into trailers these days.

I don't want to say too much more than that and possibly spoil anyone else's experience, but listen now and listen good: GO SEE THIS FILM IN THEATRES. It's fabulous! I loved it from fade in to blue band. The cast is pitch perfect, the story is awesome, the make-ups are spectacular (the visual effects were...okay), and keep your ears open for a very familiar voice. Though *NAME REDACTED*'s cameo is kind of random, especially considering that *GENDER SPECIFIC PRONOUN REDACTED* career never went into this territory, it's still freakin' awesome! For me, it's an instant top favourite.

Here's to hoping that the flood of ripoffs is more like a trickle.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Movie Review: MUOI: THE LEGEND OF A PORTRAIT (2007)

Muoi: The Legend of a Portrait (2007) is a South Korea / Vietnam co-production about a young Korean writer who travels to Vietnam to chase down the legend of the century-old curse of Muoi, the spirit of a vengeful woman, for her second novel. While there, she’s taken in by an old high school friend whom she wronged by writing a novel based on rumours about her being promiscuous.

The film is fairly obvious from the get-go in a set up heavily reminiscent of Ringu with a side of Ju-on. Muoi doesn't look like the onryō of those films as the producers opted for a more gory visage, but the similarities are so striking as to lead me to wonder if Vietnam (or Korea for that matter) have their own version of onryō or if they were simply compiling all of the Asian ghost cliches they could for what was (apparently) Vietnam’s first horror film.

That all sounds fairly negative, and it is, but the film isn’t without its good points and, surprisingly, one or two of those good points was in the writing. Even while being derivative, it was engaging enough a film to make me stick with it and it ended almost exactly as I would’ve done it. The performances were excellent across the board, too, which goes a long way toward making this flick watchable.

I wish they’d taken more care when delivering it for streaming as there were scenes that were far too dark and this even ruined a few of the scares. The score was good, it just faded into the background like a good score often does, and added that extra bit of dimension to the scenes.

Overall, an okay film. It doesn’t revolutionize horror or Asian horror, but it does a pretty good job of telling the same ol’ story in a pretty, new (to American audiences) setting.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Movie Review: JU-ON: WHITE GHOST / BLACK GHOST (2009)

In celebration of the ten year anniversary of his monster hit JU-ON, director Takashi Shimizu produced two “short” films called JU-ON: WHITE GHOST and JU-ON: BLACK GHOST (2009). I used quotation marks because they’re each an hour long and made up of tiny non-linear segments dealing with a ju-on which is described as the curse born of the death that happens when the perpetrator is in the grip of a powerful rage.

Here’s some background on this series...it’s a little confusing, but it needs to be gone over. The first film is called Ju-on: The Curse which was followed by Ju-on: The Curse 2. These were released directly to video, but because they did so well, Shimizu-san was given more money and made Ju-on: The Grudge and Ju-on: The Grudge 2 for theatrical release.

He was then given a pile more money to make The Grudge and The Grudge 2 for American audiences (and to produce The Grudge 3 which went directly to video here.) All six films revolve around the vengeful spirits of Kayako and her son Toshio who were brutally murdered by her husband when he thought she was stepping out on him and that the boy wasn’t his son. Everyone who comes into contact with her house is touched by the curse and will die.

In both White Ghost and Black Ghost, the house plays a huge part. Toshio even makes an appearance for no reason. Kayako actress Takako Fuji declined to return; thankfully, they didn’t simply replace her. They took the Kayako character out completely which is kind of confusing in White Ghost, the first of the two films, especially when Toshio appears and Kayako’s trademark sound is heard.

White Ghost is about a family who is murdered in Kayako’s house and how the curse spreads out from there.

While technically accomplished, it’s quite obvious that Shimizu-san is not behind the camera on White Ghost; Ryuta Miyake wrote and directed this segment. It felt strangely...American and, a couple of good set ups aside, it wasn’t very frightening.

Black Ghost departs drastically from the formula Shimizu-san set up and used in six films (I haven’t seen Grudge 3, but I’m sure it’s exactly the same as the rest, but with 100% more American people) and it’s not a bad thing. In this story, a woman contacts her sister (a psychic Buddhist) to heal her daughter who, it is discovered, has a cytoma formed from the absorbed embryo of her twin sister who is now starting to assert her personality in the form of the grudge she’s held since birth at how she wasn’t born instead.

Black Ghost is also technically accomplished and far more interesting in its story, though if you’re not at least vaguely familiar with the anime version of Buddhist monks, the film can be unintentionally funny at times. Also, and I admit a great deal of surprise when I looked this up, but it was written and directed by a woman named Mari Asato! I don’t know what the percentages are for Japanese women as directors, but I have to think they’re pretty low. Now I know of one! Yay!

Overall, they’re okay entries to the series, but I think it’s time to just let the curse die out.

The trailer:

Movie review: BURKE AND HARE (2010)

I pranged my knee whilst exercising yesterday (or, more likely, during yoga the night before) so I took today off and watched...

BURKE AND HARE, directed by John Landis and starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis respectively, which is a black comedy based on the true story of two poor Irishmen in 1800s Scotland who found out that the medical colleges in Edinburgh paid very, very well for fresh corpses. They’re the source of the term “Burke’d” wherein a victim is suffocated by smothering and compression of the chest (if the lungs and diaphragm can’t expand, they can’t take in enough oxygen and it’s all down hill from there.) The film also stars Isla Fisher, Jessica Hynes, and Tim Curry (whom I call Timmykins because I love him so and he doesn’t know me.)

Pardon my American, but how in the world did John Landis fuck this up?

Seriously, you have an amazing cast supported by people like Bill Bailey, Stephen Merchant, and Ronnie Corbett and not one damn laugh in the entire film. Is it the fault of the screenwriters, Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft? Yes, in part. Making a comedy out of the true story of a pair of murderers who racked up a total of seventeen lives taken is dicey at best. I think they needed at least one more pass on the script. And, how do you end a comedy where the one character you want everyone to like has to die? (This isn’t a spoiler unless you know nothing about the West Port Murders...oh, wait...)

John Landis knows comedy (Animal House, Blues Brothers, Trading Places). He knows horror (An American Werewolf in London, Innocent Blood, Blues Brothers 2000.) He knows how to combine them. Subject matter aside, comedy and horror are not that different and both types of films rely on timing to work. Jokes were rushed or cut too short, like the director was embarrassed by what was going on on-screen when he sat next to his editor in post. Or, even worse, one joke was held a little too long (at least, when compared to the rest of the flick.)

The film was, surprisingly, shot on 35mm, and I couldn’t be more disappointed with how it looked. It was blown out and weirdly graded and the vignettes on the actors faces (used to isolate them so as to make them brighter) were painfully visible.

All in all, a terrible disappointment.

The trailer (the worst trailer ever y/y?):

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Movie Review: THE RING VIRUS (1999)

Wow...haven't done one of these for a while, but I watched something tonight that I really wanted to mull over a bit, figure out what exactly was it that I didn't like...that and I want to get back to writing reviews. I should write one for Mahakaal: The Monster, which I saw last night.

Anyway, when I first saw Ringu (1998), the amazing film directed by Hideo Nakata based on the amazing novel by Koji Suzuki, it was probably 1999 or 2000. It was a bootleg VHS we’d rented from an art house video store so the quality wasn’t the best and we were watching it in broad daylight.

And it scared the crap out of us.

Before you spit your drink of choice all over your computer, just know that I don’t scare easily. I make horror films, for cryin’ out loud. I’ve been watching them since I was six. But there was something so compelling about this film and how Nakata-san handled the material (which, let’s face it, could have easily veered off into Velveet-landia) that I was completely enthralled and I honestly did not sleep that night. It probably didn’t help that I had a television at the foot of my bed.

The Ring Virus (1999) is almost exactly like the Japanese film. It’s about a young female journalist named Sun-Joo who starts investigating the mysterious deaths of her niece and three of her friends seven days after watching a videotape while at a resort. She finds the tape and discovers that it places a curse on whoever watches it that they will die in seven days if they don’t -- and then you don’t know what will break the curse because some damn fool’s recorded something over the most crucial bits of information.

As the film progresses, she gets a young man -- in the Korean version he’s a stranger whom she contacts only after she’s seen the video, but in the original film it’s her ex-husband -- and her daughter -- another deviation from the original film -- involved as they both see the video and are cursed.

Eventually, they track Eun-Suh (the Korean Sadako / Samara) back to where it all began: the well underneath the room at the resort where she planted the images on the videotape using telekinesis. They find her remains and give her body a proper burial. If this had originally been made anywhere else, that’s probably where the story would end, but in a brilliant twist, that’s not at all what Eun-Suh / Sadako / Samara wanted. She wants the WORLD to feel her pain and her anguish. Our pretty young journalist is spared because she made a copy of the video for her compatriot and because he didn’t propagate Eun-Suh’s virus, if you will, Eun-Suh came out of the television and killed him with fear.

The journalist figures it out and takes her VCR with her when she goes to pick up her daughter from her parents’ house where she will make her daughter copy the tape and pass it on...to her grandparents.

It’s interesting to see the subtle (and not so subtle) changes between all three films and how much they differ from Suzuki-san’s novels, particularly in the realm of gender. Sadako (novel) / Eun-Suh is what is now referred to as an “intersexed” person; or a hermaphrodite, possessing the genitalia of both a man and a woman. The Korean version is a little more interested in sex than the Japanese one. Neither the Japanese nor the American versions of the film touched upon her condition or the incest / rape.

In the novel, Asakawa (the main protagonist) is male. In each of the three films, they made the character a woman. I read somewhere that the Japanese producers felt that a woman would appeal more to the box office and to have a love story so, voila! sex change! In the Asian versions of the film (moreso in the Korean one than the Japanese one), she’s whiny and marginally useless, constantly told by the male protagonist to calm down and to use her head.

The male protagonist in the Korean version takes the whole thing almost too lightly, delighting in the “game” of it all. I desperately missed the slow burning intensity of the wonderful Hiroyuki Sanada who played Asakawa’s ex-husband in the original Japanese film.

Technically, this flick was just as fabulous as the original. The cinematography was great (I have to note here that I watched the Tai Seng special edition and it looked like it had been mastered from a VHS or VCD. It added a special touch to the film, made it look like I was watching a bootlegged version, but I don’t think that was the intention) and a special mention must be made of the score and sound effects. Both were excellent!

The only problem I had with this version is that it lacked the intensity, the punch, of the original Japanese film. The score, the sound effects, the cinematography, the acting and direction, they were all great, but they weren’t utilized to their full potential and at the end, I felt kind of deflated and disappointed.

There was no tension, no fear, nothing in the male protagonist’s final moments. It’s like they took their time with the whole film trying to craft something more than just a heartless ripoff, and when they got to what should’ve been the big payoff (Eun-Suh climbing out of the well and through the television) they said, “Let’s just get this over with, this is stupid...” Even the American remake had more oomph to it. It was good and worth seeing if you’re a completionist like me, but if you haven’t seen Ringu or The Ring, I wouldn’t make this your first sojourn into the world of Sadako. See Ringu, then The Ring. Read at least the first book.

The Ring Virus trailer:


SIDENOTE:
This summer, as is the traditional time of releasing horror films in Japan, SADAKO 3D (written by Koji Suzuki!!1!!) comes out. We'll probably never get it over here, but I wants it, precious. Oh, how I wants it.