Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
This week it's Freddy vs. Jason the remake.
Freddy Krueger, a power plant worker and a child murderer/molester. Krueger was also worked as the groundskeeper at Badham Preschool. Though Freddy initially appears to have been wrongly accused, the parents, after observing slashes on the kids skin and clothes consistent with his trademark glove, burn him to death rather than turn him into the police to spare their children the trauma of having to testify against him in court.
In 1980, a young Jason Voorhees witnessed his mother beheaded by a camp counselor, who was trying to escape Mrs. Voorhees's murderous rampage at Camp Crystal Lake. 30 years later, a group of vacationing friends run afoul of a now grown Jason. This Jason likes to set traps and is much faster then the original.
We've seen the original Freddy vs. Jason, now it's time version 2!
Last week's winner
Intergalactic hunter and all around badass The Predator took home another trophy. Beating Boba Fett 8 to 5.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
William Francis has never been afraid to expose his listeners to new perspectives on universal subjects such as love (and its close relationship with pain), theological hypocrisy, and art’s role as a belief system (not unlike the 19th century English movement of Aestheticism, which counted Oscar Wilde amongst its members). On “Novus Ordo Seclorum”, the latest William Control release, Francis has taken these themes to exciting new places, once again holding a mirror to a vain and narcissistic society to reveal the decay that festers just below the surface.
The album begins with “New World Order”, a rough translation of the Latin phrase that comprises the EP’s title. This track is a call to arms for the listener to change their perspective on the world. Society isn’t working the way as intended; people are led astray (and in turn made to suffer) by leaders whose only beliefs are in currency and antiquated ideals. In this track, it is mentioned a poet should be called upon to reshape society, which brings to mind the philosophies of Aestheticism mentioned above. The tempo is kept fast for most of the piece, and William’s voice is rich and full against the keyboards, once again providing an excellent series of contrasts that I feel is the hallmark of his sound. The almost chanting backing vocals offer the perfect complement to the subject matter, as they underscore William’s words of a new faith based on creativity.
Next is “Disconnecting”. This piece is almost Shakespearean in its themes of a love betrayed. References to ancient Rome are given, perhaps as a nod to Pablius Virgil, the Roman poet who’s fourth Eclogue contains the phrase “Novus Ordo Seclorum”. Although keyboards are featured prominently, this particular song is less electronica influenced then the others appearing on the album. William presents the lyrics in a crooning fashion that truly conveys the heartbreak felt by the song’s subject.
“Love Is Worth Dying For” explores the relationship between pain and love, a continuing theme in William’s work (such as “Strangers” from Hate Culture). While the subject matter is dark, and may not be every listener’s cup of tea, the points William makes are valid (whether or not Francis means them metaphorically or not is open to interpretation), and like all good art, it challenges the audience.
“1963” (note this track is only available on the physical CD of “Novus Ordo Seclorum “) is a New Order cover that is right at home on this release as it contrasts a love gone horribly wrong juxtaposed with ultra-listenable (some may even say happy sounding)hooks. William always provides excellent versions of others material (for example his gorgeous rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” from Noir), and this is no exception.
“Perfect Servant” deals with the darker side of pleasure, not unlike “Love is Worth Dying For”, but on this piece the style is reminiscent of 80’s era synthpop (a style that may be unfamiliar to some of today’s listeners). While bondage may not be understood by all, the love and pain antecedents are brought to the fore here, which links it thematically with many past pieces from the William Control catalog (such as My Lady Dominate from the noir album). As one who immensely enjoys 80’s electronica, I found this track a welcome and refreshing take on a classic style.
Finally comes “The Optimist Within Me”. This track seems to represent William’s farewell to the ways of old. His hatred of the decayed society manifests itself in his witnessing its demise, uncaring and unremorseful. And while unsure of what the new ways will bring, anything has to be better than what came before. William makes a bold choice to end the album with a dark and melancholy track, as most would have left the listener with an upbeat representation of what is to come. It is with this unexpected, unflinching honesty that William makes his mark. There is always hope, always joy and love, but are we willing to explore the road less travelled to arrive at a better place?
William Control’s “Novus Ordo Seclorum’ can be purchased here: http://williamcontrol.bigcartel.com/, and it is highly recommended that you do!
Monday, November 21, 2011
When I last spoke to horror director Dante Tomaselli he'd just wrapped filming on his fourth feature film, Torture Chamber. It's been a privilege to be able to do these interviews with Dante. They've not only shown the progression of Torture Chamber from idea to film, but give insight into Dante's creative process. Hope everyone enjoys the interview!
How did editing and soundmixing go?
Dante Tomaselli: Before I started picture editing, I spent a few months watching all the footage, getting to know every detail. It got to the point where I could go to any sequence in my mind. After a month of editing, I began the sound mix and as you know, I've always placed a strong emphasis on the sound design, I need complete control over it. I wanted the soundtrack to feel like a seance...or incantation, a spell being cast. A place where people feel powerless and dominated by forces they have no control over. I wanted a kind of Black Mass feel. I collected many thousands of layers of sounds. All kinds of sounds, they could come from anywhere, I place no restrictions. I'm a sound hunter. So I purchased these sounds and mixed them like colors of paint on a palette. I divided the sounds into categories like...low tones, glacial, staccato, and suspense. Months earlier, throughout the writing of the screenplay, I was listening to Halloween 3, music by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. Just like when I was a kid, I had this album playing constantly....It made me feel younger...and more aligned with the images that I was channeling. I love all those early John Carpenter movies and soundtracks, Halloween, The Fog, Christine... At the same time, the soundtrack to Torture Chamber is personal and it's a continuation of the world I've previously created...a space where picture and sound bleed into each other. You never know what's around the next corner. Colors and sounds are pristine. There are many gates, tunnels, windows, doors, holes. Each portal takes you to the next. For months, I'd go to the post sound studio in NYC and mix Torture Chamber with the engineer, just like making an album. Just me...alone with the engineer...and my sounds. Aside from some dreamy horror piano and subtle strings that I incorporated, tracks composed by Joseph Bishara, I kept this score orchestra free. I'm really getting tired of big budget Hollywood soundtracks. They're so assembly line. Don't get me wrong, I love orchestral music...but I hear the same music in movies, over and over again. It's like an annoying formula. I wanted the sound design on this film to be mostly indecipherable. Subliminal. It's a mixture of moans and breaths and brooding low toned synths and pulses. A witches brew of sounds. I prefer an electronic soundscape. I've always admired composers like Wendy Carlos, Tangerine Dream and Giorgio Moroder.
From first conception, to finished film, how long has Torture Chamber been in your head? And how has it evolved and changed since its beginning?
Dante: Well, I was very depressed when I didn't get to shoot The Ocean, the movie I was planning. I had it all ready-to-go with Adrienne Barbeau as the lead. I was so looking forward to shooting the film in the unique locations I scouted in Puerto Rico. I had Adrienne Barbeau over my apartment in New Jersey and we went over the character; it was a dream come true. I thought the money was there. It wasn't. Some more time passed, too much time...and soon Adrienne was starring in a play about Judy Garland...so she wasn't available for a period. Around this time, I was told that the money was in fact in place and we had to cast someone quickly. I knew that Margot Kidder read the script and was interested in the lead...a psychic haunted by visions of a watery apocalypse. The money turned out not to be there again. I paused and found some new producers. Soon Dee Wallace read the screenplay and came onboard. We were all ready to start production...again. Dee was so committed and loved the script. We had beautiful conversations where I felt her depth of emotional attachment to the project. I was so moved. When the money wasn't there again, I felt like I betrayed her and everyone because in the end it all goes back to me. I'm the one to blame for not getting the film off the ground. Consciously or unconsciously, I create the events that happen in my life. So I was depressed and defeated and angry. I channeled that rage and conjured a new low budget horror film. Torture Chamber. I wrote it throughout 2008. I knew I wanted to create a movie about a demon of blasphemy and murder. Something that returned to the puzzle-like feel of my early films, but faster-paced and more engaging. I wanted to create pure cinema...on a low budget. When I visualized Torture Chamber, it had a kind of epic exuberance. I imagined unspeakable sin...eternal damnation...a family in deep psychic pain. Around the end of 2009, everything started to come together financially...and in early 2010, I was literally planning the shoot. During this time, I was scouting locations non-stop. In late May, I started principle photography. I shot Torture Chamber in 19 days. For the entire rest of the summer, I immersed myself in the footage...and then in September and October I began picture editing...Next was the sound mix. It was December...January...winter...There was so much snow in New York City. So many snow storms. I was in my own little world, constantly hunting for sound fx and previewing all kinds of compositions in my mind, editing layers of audio design in my mind. I was in a trance. It was just me alone with my movie...and my hand-picked sounds. I finished my first cut in the summer of 2011 but it was too long. Once I trimmed, and I trimmed a lot, twenty three minutes, the sound temperature changed. I spent a few more months in the studio, giving the film more of an aggressive, nightmarish vibe.
Working with your actors, where there many rehearsals before filming? How much leeway did they have to ad-lib? How much input did you give them about their characters?
Dante: There was some rehearsal. This was the first time I was working with many child actors and I had a casting agent, Pamela Kramer, who helped me find these performers through her database. With Pamela, we had some rehearsals together in a studio in New York City. Mainly, I believe once on set it all begins to click. Everything falls into place when the actor is in the frame, in the world of the scene. I give pointed input before the camera rolls but once we are shooting I allow for experimentation and ad-libbing...if it feels right. Whatever works. It's an exploration to deliver the best scene. Overall, though, everyone pretty much adhered to the script. We had tutors on set, as required through child labor laws, and those actors could only perform for a limited time. Scheduling was rough. Plus our locations were spread out around New York and New Jersey, in all different locations.
There's a tendency in modern horror films to make characters unlikable and stupid. What steps did you take to make your characters different than the usual horror victim?
Dante: I don't really watch most modern horror films but I know what you're saying. I do believe in the lone disposable victim, though. I've had one character in every film...a random death...that sets the tone. At the core, this is definitely a movie about a family in deep psychic pain. The characters are revealed through dreams, flashbacks and hallucinations. They're revealed though their surroundings. Torture Chamber is about madness, being trapped in childhood. There's a scene in the kitchen during a family dinner. It's the heart and soul of the movie and spotlights the unhealthy family situation. We see that the mother is very religious and conservative and has a special bond with her older priest-son. The Dad is disconnected, drunken, chain-smoking cigarettes, immersed in a sports game that is droning in another room. And there's little Jimmy, without his facial scars, innocent looking, frightened. The food looks intimidating. He just can't eat. Everything around him overwhelms...shapes, feelings. Young Jimmy, a pyromaniac, sees his brutish father as a cloud of smoke. There's emotional violence in the air.
What challenges did you face budget wise?
Dante: Well, the budget on this film was $200, 000 so I really had to plan each and every shot way in advance. Other independent films have been shot in 19 days, it's been done before, but usually when you have a low budget like this and such a small amount of shooting days, you try to consolidate and film all in one main area. I did the opposite on this film. I allowed the locations, and there were many, to be completely spread out, all over New Jersey and New York. The crew had to pick up and move to another site a lot. And there's a lot of artwork and production design in Torture Chamber. So many props and sets for a film of this budget. Plus my crew was fairly large, as usual. I had such a talented, hardworking crew on Torture Chamber. We had crew and some actors...staying in a motel in a small mining town in New Jersey and other crew members were picked up each day in a van or truck that would bring them back and forth to the locations. Many craftsmen I've worked with already were there but there were just as many new entities involved. Prior to the shoot, I spent almost a full year looking for the right settings and I had the NJ Film Commission helping me all the way. NJ Film Commission...invaluable. The locations, the settings, were so specific...and an important part of the fabric of the movie. Scheduling the production was a logistical nightmare. Everyone around me was saying it was impossible...too many locations. How can we ever move the crew around so much? But I stood my ground and made sure, for the most part, that we filmed in the settings that I scouted and fallen in I love with. Before filming, I did a lot of storyboarding...and fantasizing.
Who's been handling those cool posters for the film? They definitely evoke a 70's feel.
Dante: Sean Hartter has been handling most of those posters. For Torture Chamber, I would message him about what I needed. Like for one poster, I said I needed a possessed boy's face on a black page. I supplied him with the tagline, Jimmy is 13-years-old. Possessed by an unholy power...Sean came back with a fantastic poster. He knows that my films are 70's style and he injects that into everything. My favorite poster that he created from scratch, Jimmy is 13-years-old. And he has escaped...It's an outline of grinning boy with a white possessed-looking eye. It's very Italian horror, which matches this film. I think Torture Chamber rides the line between arthouse and grindhouse. Sean's poster of the shadowed boy captures that and makes it very accessible and appealing. Sean also contributed a few sound textures in the movie. I created the smoky poster with Christie Sanford as Mrs. Morgan, burning, singeing. Should all sinners be damned? That's actually a tagline for Desecration that I never used. It fit the world of Torture Chamber.
In many of the stills we've seen so far there's a Gothic feel to the settings. Were you influenced by any of Hammer's films?
Dante: There is definitely a Gothic feel to the entire movie. I'm not influenced by Hammer's films, though. I do love British horror like Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, Pete Walker's films and Tales from the Crypt. The images in Torture Chamber came from the deep pit of my psyche. The places I conjure are nightmares that I need to replicate. My nightmares, growing up, were extreme. Sometimes I still fear putting my head on the pillow and going to bed. I try to replicate the look and feel of those childhood terrors. Colors and sounds are pristine. I see in my mind a misty image bursting with light, color and design. Glowing, electrified. Usually someone is trapped. In Torture Chamber there are people constantly trapped. We shot a big portion of the film in an actual underground mine in New Jersey. I was so glad because for a while, it seemed that I had to shoot certain sequences on sets. Shooting in the cavy mine perfectly matched the idea of the movie being encased in rock. After a while you begin to feel buried under there and it looks like the caverns of hell.
The world seems to get crazier every day. Do you feel we need the cantharis that horror provides more than ever now?
Dante: Oh definitely. For me, making these films. it's almost like painting. That's exactly how it has always worked for me. Horror films are a form of...art therapy...though it's rarely ever described that way. You can't get to the light without going through shadows. I'm a Scorpio and it's my nature to move through the rocks in shadows. Torture Chamber is encased in stone. That's a repeating image, in all my films. In a past life, or vivid nightmare, I was buried under rocks.
How does this score compare to your previous ones?
Dante: It's very electronic...and satanic. Right from the opening credits theme, which I composed, there is a wall of sound...churning, swirling. It's a bit of a preview of the collection of sounds to come. It's best to experience this film in stereo...loud. Any other way diminishes it. You get the feeling of floating, dreaming, being locked in a...psychedelic dungeon. You won't know where it's leading, suddenly the audio takes a turn. As the movie progresses, sounds trigger colors and patterns and vice-versa. Shapes are emphasized. Shapes of sound. Sometimes it should feel like an out-of-body-experience...or ecstasy trip. Taste color. Touch sound. I had some excellent composers on board like Joseph Bishara, Kenneth Lampl and Allison Piccioni. They never actually viewed the footage. That was my wish. I would give them direction, descriptions of scenes and they had the script. I like to know what's in a composer's imagination. That's more interesting to me. It feels fresh and experimental when it's juxtaposed with the right images. If it doesn't work at least I tried. As the film's main score composer and sound designer and writer and director, it's my job to pull all the details together. In addition to Bishara, Lampl and Piccioni, I had a few other of freelance musicians contribute some devilish sound textures or sound fx that I mixed and edited with other sounds, layers of audio paint that I own. My brother, Michael Tomaselli contributed some twisted aural textures and pulses. He composed the opening and closing themes to my first film, Desecration. As a listening experience, Torture Chamber's ambient tracks are ethereal and brooding. It's a soundtrack for a dark-night-of-the-soul.
Many independent horror directors broke into making studio films by directing for one of the franchises. Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween. How would you feel if you were offered the chance at one of these franchises?
Dante: I love every one of those movies, especially Halloween, so I'd be honored and excited.
How close are you to locking down distribution?
Dante: I just finished the film so I really can't answer that yet. I know it's definitely on the horizon.
Have you thought about what your next film will be?
Dante: Alice, Sweet Alice. A re-imagining of my cousin, Alfred Sole's 70's horror movie. Yes, the mask will be back. We've got to keep it in the family. There's something in the blood.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
It's hunting season this week on the Sunday Smackdown. And what better hunters to have her then two icons of the sport.
Boba Fett. That name alone just conjurers up all sorts of cool. Just don't think about that whole Sarlacc Pitt debacle. A child clone of bounty hunter Jango Fett, who is raised Boba as a son. He witnessed Jango's decapitation by Jedi Master Mace Windu. Years later Boba captured smuggler and Rebel hero Han Solo, and brought him to Jabba the Hutt for the bounty. Mr. Fett carries numerous weapons on him, plus the ones in his armor, which is also tricked out with a jetpack.
The Predator is from a race of extraterrestrial hunters. After he lands in Val Verde via starship. The Predator begins hunting down a United States Army Special Forces group, stationed there to rescue kidnapped Cabinet ministers. Our alien hunter dispatches the soldiers one by one with a vast array of weaponry until just one of the team, Major Dutch Schaeffer is left. Like Boba Fett this ugly motherfucker brings tons of weapons to the hunt, not to mention the thermal optics in his helmet and camouflage wrist gear.
It's hunting time! who will be crowned the galaxy's deadliest hunter?
Last week's winner
Mr. J showed Jigsaw a magic trick or two and won in a very decisive nine to nothing battle.