Celluloid Ceiling, Lexi Alexander, and Etheria Film Night

I've missed out on posting a lot of really cool news about women directors lately. I took a huge imaginary trip to Iceland and Spain and have been gone for 6 weeks, which has prevented me from blogging. But since blogging is my full-time, lucrative job, I felt I needed a mini-vacation to the realms of frost giants and Gaudi.

In the past two months, some amazing things have happened that I need to catch up on, and catch you up on. First, did you hear the amazing quotes from director Lexi Alexander (PUNISHER: WARZONE) about sexism in Hollywood? Her statements were re-posted on Indiewire's Women and Hollywood blog in January 2013:

There is no lack of female directors. Repeat after me: THERE IS NO LACK OF FEMALE DIRECTORS. But there is a huge lack of people willing to give female directors opportunities. I swear, if anyone near me even so much as whispers the sentence "Women probably don't want to direct," my fist will fly as a reflex action.

Side note: The previous statement labels me as "difficult".

Alexander's statement was prompted in part by the baffling treatment she had received earlier in 2013 when fans overwhelmingly supported her as the choice for the director of the all-female EXPENDABLES film. But partly she represents numerous women in the Director's Guild of America that feel they are given unequal treatment when it comes to hiring practices based solely on the basis of their sex. Alexander now self-deprecatingly jokes that she is the new "Gertrude Stein of filmmaking," but largely due to her outspoken attitude recently, and the diligent efforts and research of director Maria Giese and the Women Directors in Hollywood Blog, the ACLU is now conducting its own investigation into any sexism that women directors may face in Hollywood. Get ready for a lawsuit, sexists!

The ACLU's announcement was followed shortly thereafter by comedian Will Ferrell (I know, right? Who knew?)  launching a brand new division of his production company called Gloria Sanchez Productions to spearhead female-led film projects.  Now I have a reason to like Will Ferrell, which is really my one big take-away from this entire thing.

February 2014 was Women in Horror Month, and there were many awesome new film projects, film festivals, articles, exchanges, and artwork created in celebration. But since December 2013, I have been in the process of creating a new film festival (sort of). The Viscera Organization and the Viscera Film Festival officially disbanded in December 2013, with creator Shannon Lark and board member Lori Bowen finishing, screening, and promoting their new psychological-yet-gory horror film I AM MONSTER (you can check it out here at the official website: www.iammonstermovie.com). In January 2014, I decided to revamp the Etheria Film Festival, the science fiction and fantasy film festival that I had put together under the Viscera banner in Boston, Massachusetts, and move it to Hollywood, CA. The new Etheria Film Night will screen not only new science fiction and fantasy, but also horror, thriller, action, and even some comedy and drama – all directed by women. You can check out our official website here: www.etheriafilmnight.com. We'll be screening the selections at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, California on July 12th, 2014 with the support of the American Cinematheque.

I also took that 6 weeks off to write a chapter in the film journal Celluloid Ceiling Spring 2014, thanks to the patience of my editor Professor Gabrielle Kelly, of NYU Tisch Singapore. It was fun. I wrote a lot about lesbians and feminism in European film history.

Hard at work on my book about women directors of horror films, I plan to finish that sometime before my 80th birthday. And no I continue blogging about stuff other women are doing. Carry on.

Madeleine Olnek's Dark Comedy THE FOXY MERKINS

A foxy merkin is a toupee for your vagina that's made of fox fur. Seriously. Madeleine Olnek's (CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME) new comedy THE FOXY MERKINS looks freakin hilarious. It's also been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and is playing at Sundance 2014. Olnek herself describes the film as a "a feature length, female prostitute buddy comedy," which is, like, the best description of anything so far in 2014.

Margaret is a down-on-her-luck lesbian hooker in training. She meets Jo, a beautiful, self-assured grifter from a wealthy family and an expert on picking up women, even as she considers herself a card-carrying heterosexual. The duo hit the streets where they encounter bargain-hunting housewives, double-dealing conservative women, husky-voiced seductresses, mumbling erotic accessory salesmen and shopaholic swingers. Navigating the bizarre fetishes and sexual needs of their “dates” brings into focus the hilarious and pathetic disparity between the two hookers, as fellow travelers who will share the road together but only for a while.

You can read some pretty cool recent interviews with Olnek here and here. What sucks is that there is no official trailer for THE FOXY MERKINS yet, but you can see glimpses of it in this fundraising video from Olnek (she looks pretty normal – who knew?):

Zoe Cassavetes' DAY OUT OF DAYS

I love film writer Mike White. I do. Don't tell him though, I'll DIE of embarrassment.

On his entertaining podcast THE PROJECTION BOOTH, he often has realllly neat guests that I'd like to know. Most recently he featured Zoe Cassavetes and discussed her new movie DAY OUT OF DAYS.

DAY OUT OF DAYS

is about about a once well known actress who struggles to maintain her sanity and dignity in the obstacle course known as Hollywood. Mia Clarke is an actress quickly approaching 40. She's had her moment in the spotlight and now struggles to get back to where she once was. Or anywhere. Mia can't catch a break, and in the cut throat world of The Business, Mia is her own worst enemy. Her world seems to be closing in on her, with no where left to turn. No matter how hard she tries, she's competing in a younger woman's world and she can't get used to the idea that she's "too old" and no longer viable. Her agent wants to get rid of her, she's got a controlling mother she supports and an ex husband who is poised for stardom. Then, a strange and humiliating turn of events gives her the chance to come back into the spotlight. But what will it cost her?

Cassavetes is, of course, the daughter of famous movie people who probably have a ton of money, so it is telling that in our crappy economy even rich movie people have to crowdfund for their films (welcome to my world, Zoe! We're excited to have you).

EDIT: Zoe Cassavetes says in response to this post: No trust fund here! But if I did have money I would just finance my own film. And I already put a lot of my own money into it. But thanks for the support, just wanted to make that clear. I think if people thing I'm well off it must come from my parents. Take a look at their movies and see how hard it was for them as well, sometimes taking several years to pull funds together.

So, bad on me, Zoe.

Says Cassavetes,

I love movies. I was brought up in a house where movies were made. Literally. I can’t really think of anything that would make me happier in the world than to make movies all my life. But today the kind of movies I want to make, the kind of movies I want to see, these smaller, more personal, touching films are getting harder and harder to do. The balance really needs to come back and let film makers have more control of their vision.

You can watch some of her work here, and you can see the crowdfunding video below. It looks like a poignant, interesting, and well-crafted story with a strong female lead (no wonder Hollywood won't produce it!)

Guinevere Turner's CREEPS

Writer and director Guinevere Turner (AMERICAN PSYCHO) is raising funds for her new dark comedy feature CREEPS.  Turner, who penned the scripts for AMERICAN PSYCHO and THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE for director Mary Harron, will direct CREEPS from an original script.

CREEPS is about two best friends, Mona and Freddy, who quit partying and drinking and doing drugs for one week so they can have great skin for a party thrown by Mona's ex-girlfriend. Their "7 days of sobriety" pact is much harder to stick to than they imagined, and, according to the official synopsis, "disaster ensues." This story, with its classic wry Turner sense of humor, reminds me of ROMY & MICHELLE's HIGH SCHOOL REUNION.  I also like movies about fucked up people, so that also may explain my excitement.

Turner describes the film as "ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS meets FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF" – and that is a film I really want to see.

In 1994 I made a film called GO FISH with director Rose Troche. Back then our mission was to show that we homos are like everyone else- we date, and have friends – we have dinner parties and jobs. Now, almost 20 years later, my mission is quite the opposite: I feel we’ve graduated in LGBT cinema to be able to REALLY show that we can be like anyone else: flawed, mean, lonely – in other words real.  That said, CREEPS is a comedy, and a celebration of how far we’ve come on the big and small screens as LGBT people and filmmakers. But it’s going to be fun, don’t get me wrong. You will laugh. And hey, if Walter White, Dexter Morgan and Hannah Horvath can be heroes, then so can Mona and Freddy.

Of note also is that the Director of Photography is Alison Kelly (who also shot WHO'S AFRAID OF VAGINA WOLF?, THE OWLS, and three segments of FUTURESTATES).

More of note is that you can watch scenes of the film acted out by Rabbit Puppets by Turner herself in this pitch video:

Anne Fletcher's MURDER MYSTERY

Anne Fletcher (who will be directing the upcoming fantasy ENCHANTED 2) is set to direct a murder mystery called, appropriately, MURDER MYSTERY.

Produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s TWC-Dimension, the script is written by James Vanderbilt (ZODIAC, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, WHITE HOUSE DOWN) and the plot synopsis thus far is:

A married couple takes the honeymoon they never had in hopes of saving their struggling marriage, but soon find themselves in the middle of their very own murder mystery when one of their fellow cruise passengers is found dead. They must travel across Europe to discover the true murderer’s identity while trying to reignite the spark to their relationship.

"MURDER MYSTERY is a throwback to Agatha Christie novels with a comedic spin. We have been huge fans of Anne Fletcher for years and have wanted to work with her. This film seems like the perfect project to team up with Anne, Endgame and Tripp," said Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairmen of The Weinstein Company, who continued with, "We hope it makes lots of money. I own an island. My wife is 57 years younger than me. Money buys happiness."

It sort of sounds like a "Nick and Nora Charles"-style couples mystery. I'm hoping it has lots of murder, suspense, and witticisms and not so many stupid romantic comedy things in it. Fletcher has directed some really inane films (THE PROPOSAL, 27 DRESSES) but I guess there's always room for improvement?

 

We Interview Rena Riffel About SHOWGIRLS 2

Director Rena Riffel's follow-up to the original 1995 film SHOWGIRLS is SHOWGIRLS 2: PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN, and it's every bit as weird, unpredictable, and surprising as you would expect. It's also quite funny, often in a surreal, avant garde manner that is difficult to understand or digest: just what is Riffel doing – comedy, or tragedy? A tragedy that is unintentional comedy? A comedy that is unintentional tragedy? A Tragu-edy? History, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral…?  It's not always clear, and somewhere in the 2 plus hours there is some kind of funny magic that engrosses the audience and bares Riffel's heart, soul, incredibly keen comedic talents, and her unabashed, total disregard for shame in a touching and compelling way. As director Devi Snively said after we watched it together, "it kind of haunts me now, like some mentally unstable ghost."

And it does haunt me, too.

rena riffel ford austin showgirls 2Riffel was cast in the original SHOWGIRLS as a naive aspiring dancer who is exploited by the corrupt and vice-ridden crooks around her. Riffel wanted to parody/pay homage/reinterpret the film, incorporating her experience acting in artistic, creative, silly, and sexual films like STRIPTEASE and MULHOLLAND DRIVE. Like Riffel's previous film TRASHARELLA, SHOWGIRLS 2 explores  art and surrealism with trepidatious steps. Unlike pretentious art-house nonsense, however, Riffel's films have absurdist comedy written all over them. Riffel herself refers to them as "camp," and while there is definitely some camping going on, ultimately I feel like there's something else wonderful happening in a difficult to process, innovative manner. There is nothing she won't do to get her vision on film or express herself and for that Riffel is a fearless director to be watched. SHOWGIRLS 2 lacks a budget, suffers from long and confused narratives and subplots, and numerous crazy characters, but the film itself is the archetypal "stripper with a heart of gold":  there's real magic in there, evident when Riffel whips out extremely funny and well-delivered dialogue, or when she unabashedly writes all of her characters as crazy, lonely, loving or too-loved, and we find ourselves identifying with them against our own better judgement, even during the ten-minute-long ballet dance class segments.

SHOWGIRLS 2 was JUST released on DVD on September 17th from Wild Eye Releasing. As a director, Riffel belongs up on a pedestal with Damon Packard, Anna Biller, and Everything is Terrible and I hope people start putting her up there.  Riffel explains in the following Q n A we conducted all of her inspirations and joy at making this incredible and nearly inexplicable absurdist comedy (even the title is absurd: Penny's from heaven. Penny is from heaven? Puntastical. I love it). She also discusses her next project, a more subdued film titled ASTRID'S SELF-PORTRAIT, and her desire to film her own take on the story of Marie Antoniette. Seriously, you have to make that Rena. My life would be better if you made that film.


The trailer for SHOWGIRLS 2

Planet Etheria: What is it about the original SHOWGIRLS that people love so much? Why does it still have fans and a legacy to this day?

Rena Riffel: I have found two different groups of SHOWGIRLS fans in my Post-SHOWGIRLS life: One group who loves it for it's campiness, loves it for winning the most Razzie Awards in Razzie history, loves how much fun it is, loves the dialogue to the point of memorizing every scene, and will show up to midnight movies of Showgirls and yell out interactive dialogue back to the silver screen, fly across the world to attend Peaches Christ's Annual Showgirls Spectacular in San Francisco at the Castro Theatre in a SHOWGIRLS-inspired costume, and love it in that way of embracing all the flaws as gems, and laugh during the pool scene, and appreciate the dry humor and comedy.

And then there are the other group of SHOWGIRLS fans who love the movie because it is an amazing story of a girl from different places who sets out to over come all obstacles to accomplish her dream and they relate to the struggles of the characters, they don't find it funny during the pool scene, and usually own a lot of the movie posters and memorabilia, and sometimes rename themselves after the character they relate to most in the film, they do love it as a real masterpiece and see it as the drama it was meant to be, and also know every line in the film but they say the lines as a way of giving good advice, not as a way to joke around.

I believe it still has the die hard fans after all these years because Paul Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas made a great film, along with the help of everyone who worked on the movie, of course, we all came together and made something special that the critics panned but it stood the test of time because, at the end of the day, it's not boring, it is entertaining, and it doesn't suck.


Riffel in the original SHOWGIRLS, in the same role

PE: What is Penny like and what happens to her? What does she learn? 

RR: SHOWGIRLS 2 is about a girl who is going to give everything up to follow her dream of being the star dancer.  Although, she doesn't have anyone else in her life that wants her to follow her dancing dreams.  And the world seems to set one obstacle after another in her way, as she continues to fight on moving forward towards her desire.  But, she is a damaged woman who is naive to the point of being dangerously delusional, and she is chasing after her dreams from a place of fear and deep down she feels resentful about the way her life turned out, not the life she had dreamed of, and she kept believing the lies she was told and continues to be led down roads of lies.  She then gets pretty much lured to the "dark side" and begins learning how to use it in her favor, going against her own morals. She made a promise to God that lap dancing was as far as she would go.  But, then finally accepts the role of being a prostitute because that is the trade they put in front of her: sell your soul (to the red devil), and you will then get what you wished for.  It's really a fable, it's a warning of how things can go so wrong when you don't stand up for yourself and say no to things that are going past your own boundaries.  Her instincts have been broken, and there are things that weren't said in the film, there is a mystery about her and she has more baggage than meets the eye.  She struggles through life, but kind of has a guardian angel who gets her through bad situations by the skin of her teeth.

At the end of the story, she is heading off to Broadway, either to get back together with her long time boyfriend/baby daddy who loved her (though he didn't really support her to go after her dreams, because he believed she didn't have what it takes to be a real dancer, he wanted her to be happy doing what he wanted her to do, to be a wife and mother, cook and clean, and be happy about it).  Penny is more of an entrepreneur, (maybe you could say she is a feminist) and she wants to be a star.  Or, what road will she take, is she going to Broadway to continue trying to find fame and fortune? I leave the ending up in the air, and I don't know where she went.  I don't think she has really come to her senses.  But, she has learned to stand up for herself and became confident in her survival instincts leaving home and going out into the world on her own, but has also become a bit hardened.  She did become famous, but not the way she intended, she became famous in the tabloids for the crime she was involved in, not famous for being a great dancer.

PE: How long did it take you to make the film, from when you first had the idea to when it was edited? And, what specific challenges did you experience making it?

RR: I experienced just about every challenge there is to experience.  I took on way too much, while filming I was running around doing way too many things, probably doing the job of 20 people at one time.  I was so determined to complete this film, I just pushed myself.  I somehow would make it through each day, thanks to the help of my friends (who were my crew and producers and actors, so much help from Ford Austin!  He would do random jobs, too, like making the police line up with tape on the wall, to finding random things and props we needed, to doing a great job stepping in as an actor, playing the role of Mr. Von Brausen the owner of the show Star Dancer, to putting out fires of on-set drama, producing stuff from muffins to making things happens.  And my other producer, Josh Eisenstadt, he personally made so many props, got so many costumes for us, so he doubled as prop master and wardrobe. He booked so many locations for us, and stepped in as actor, but his scenes were cut because of the long length problem that happened).

While filming sometimes I would realize how my dream was coming true, and how what I wrote on paper was appearing before my eyes, how the location I was imagining has now materialized, and I would have these little moments of trying to enjoy the present, which was usually while we were acting the scenes. It was truly rewarding in these little fleeting moments, especially working with Peter Stickles (Godhardt) because we had such intense scenes together.  Most of the other scenes were all filmed stop and go, stop and go through out the scene, picking up where we stopped, mostly because actors would forget their lines, or the DP would need to stop because of something. It really affected my editing because I never did have a smooth full take of any scene and had to piece it all together like a huge puzzle with miniature pieces. A nightmare.  But, my nightmare story is usually the case with filmmaking.  All and all, it probably went much smoother on a certain level than even SHOWGIRLS did, there was some drama like on Showgirls set, but we all survived and at the end of the day, the movie was made and got distribution with Wild Eye Releasing! So, through all the mud it finally did find the end of the rainbow!

I actually wanted to make another SHOWGIRLS since 1995 really, when there was some talk about doing a sequel while still making SHOWGIRLS, and it was mentioned to me that it might be all about the Penny character.  I loved working on SHOWGIRLS, I loved the dancing, the big budget movie with all the excitement surrounding it, I wanted more!  But, after it came out, no one wanted to make a sequel anymore.


The trailer for Riffel's previous film as director, TRASHARELLA

I wrote the first act in 2004, but then couldn't make up my mind what the tone should be or what the theme should be.  Should it be comedy? Should it be Sundance-style? Should it be like MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS? Should it be campy, or should it be the movie that SHOWGIRLS was "supposed" to be: a serious erotic drama.  Then, after TRASHARELLA, I had made up my mind, I was gearing up to make this SHOWGIRLS movie happen.  It took me a year of writing to come to a script I was happy with, I wrote 28 drafts which were all very different from each other, but mostly with WIZARD OF OZ themes and big special effects, tornadoes that sweep Penny away, witchcraft, Lipizzaner Stallions, and of course ballet, all this surrounds the show Star Dancer with the underlying plot being a human trafficking ring. (it's still in there, but most of it was also cut out)  It would be a big budget studio film.  I presented it to Verhoeven, he did give me his blessing and wished me good luck.  And another year went by trying to find investors.  I then shot a 12 minute short film, on 35mm film, and then cut that down to a short trailer for Kickstarter, this was in 2010.  The short film actually cost me almost as much as I had raised on Kickstarter, so, looking back, I should have asked for more money on Kickstarter, or should have not bothered with the Kickstarter nor the short film I had to make for it.  I ended up with $4,200 after all the fees that are taken out.  A few weeks after the Kickstarter, we began filming, Summer of 2010 in July and by the end of October we completed filming the very long script I had written.  We shot about 20 days over the three or four month period.  I had done a rewrite when I decided I would go ahead and make the movie with a micro-micro-budget.  But, then I kept adding parts for actors who wanted to be part of the project, so the script kept creeping up in length, and I did a bad thing which came back to bite me, I cheated my margins and spacing in the script writing program, making the script seem like less pages, and did this just to make myself happy that it was only 100 pages (in reality, it was still 130 page script). Note to self: do not cheat margins, just cut scenes.

PE:  How do you feel about comedy and shame and how they relate on camera? 

RR: Well, it's a curse or it's a blessing, right?  I have always had the "blessing" of being uninhibited as an actress. In real life, I am always censoring myself, because I don't want to say something stupid that might hurt someones feelings, and then I will feel bad because I accidentally made someone else feel bad, blah blah blah…that sort of thing, and other angles on that psychology. So, for me to play an outrageous character, it is actually a safe place to do something wild and crazy.  Also, I knew for this film, I have my fans who will be having fun getting into the SHOWGIRLS spirit of leaving your inhibitions at the door: the show is about to begin, again!  To take risks in that way feels empowering actually.  And if I am on a set with others who are in that same spirit, there is no shame.  And that's how we were on Showgirls and Showgirls 2.  I have been trained like that from working with so many great directors, and when you have to be shameless and do what they hired you for, you have to be bold and do it.. and then you have done a good job. I can't go on set and be inhibited and worried about everything.  So, that's where all that comes from. I am okay to embarrass myself, as long as the camera is rolling. Maybe it is my Meisner technique that got me to that point.  It's weird, really.

PE: Why do you choose to direct? Tell me what that role means to you.

RR: At first I was kind of scared to direct, thinking it would be exhausting and not wanting to deal with so many problems.  But, I have come to a point where I am spoiled now with so much freedom that I can't go back to the box I had been in and my imagination has really opened up to create the whole picture.  I used to be focused just on my own character and what my character does and feels.  And now, I am in touch with the entire story and process, I feel what all the characters are feeling, and writing the script is the most rewarding and my favorite part.  Directing for me feels like just not having someone else change my script/story or my vision of what this is suppose to be.  I love giving practically no direction to the actors, just talk a bit about it and how I see the character doing things or the motivation or back-story I know about that character, and then let them do their thing, and that's where most of the "collaboration" has come in for me.  I let the actors do their job, and trust that what they do is how it is meant to be, they bring it to life.  It has given me so much more control over my life and future, now that I am writing and directing, and editing…and can act in my own films.  But, I have also come to the point where I want to allow myself to have more people help on my projects, I take on too much and it is really great when I can work with someone who I enjoy or admire their talent.

PE: What do you want audiences to take away from watching SHOWGIRLS 2? How do you hope people feel when the film credits roll?

RR: I hope that they find it interesting and enjoy it.  I hope they learn something from it, like what not to do if you want to be a dancer.  And I hope audiences take away knowing that I sincerely tried to make this film something special that they could relate to and enjoy watching.  And yes, I went campy and Warhol with it.  I know the technical part of it is not a slick studio picture, to say the least.  And I am still planning to fix the sound quality.  That's the thing with a film, some people have said a film is finite, but making a film is infinite.  A film is truly never done, I am still toying with ideas of different versions/edits.  When the credits role, I hope they feel the triumph for Penny that she survived the maze of this twisted underworld she went into, and I hope they also feel that because of them, my audience, I was able to triumph in a way of finally getting this SHOWGIRLS film D-U-N, dun, after all these years, and they just watched the credits role to what was a fantasy for 18 years, and now you see SHOWGIRLS 2 has materialized on your screen.

PE: Tell us about your future directing projects.

RR: After SHOWGIRLS 2, as I have been going on about, I was burnt out.  So, instead of setting my sights higher and making that 50 million dollar film.. I made the smallest movie I could dream up, it has only 2 other actors in it and is titled, ASTRID'S SELF-PORTRAIT  I call it my recovery from SHOWGIRLS 2 film.  It's avant-garde, not too spaced out, but it's definitely an art film.  Astrid has been widowed six times out of seven marriages and her one surviving Ex-Husband comes to her rescue to help her make her art film after being fired from her job as a film critic.  She is struggling with alcoholism and she reveals her checkered past in the segments of her art film, which turns into a disaster and leads to her demise. It's a comedy. Just kidding.

I also have two other scripts I am focusing on to go into pre-production.  One is a big romantic comedy based on a TV series I did back in the early 1990s.  The other is my "Marie Antoinette" project. I wrote it as factual but with my own twist of theories on what really happened, but historically all my timeline is from facts.  And it kind of exposes the behind the scenes that weren't written in history because the monarchy kept it all hush hush.  It is erotic thriller/horror, but still has the touch of camp.

Keep tabs on Riffel at her official website.

Have You Seen The QUINTIPUS Trailer?

QUINTIPUS is a 1950s-style comedic sci-fi short directed by Victoria Angell, currently making the festival rounds (incidentally, she produced Karen Lam's award-winning horror short THE MEETING) about an alien that resembles a human hand. Yes, a human hand. The film is edited by director Ashley Lynch (LAST FLIGHT OF THE FIREFLY, CHLOE DIDN'T COME HOME LAST NIGHT).

It's kind of a riff on that whole disembodied-horror-hand-thing of yesteryear's horror films (the other film it reminds me of is Lark Arrowwood's 2013 Viscera Film Festival short PHANTOM LIMB, which I loved). Here's the QUINTIPUS synopsis:

The evil Metatarsal Empire marches across the galaxy, attempting to crush all opposition under their jack-booted heels. Corporal Carpal Quintipus, our handy hand-shaped hero, is one of the few who dares to raise a fist against them. But lacking arms to defend himself, he is shot down in battle and crashes to Earth. Wounded and hungry, he begins a desperate journey on this strange planet. Stumbling onto a lavish tea-party picnic, our hero is confronted with a lady hand in the clutches of peril. Will love escape his grasp?

Currently playing at 2013 fests like Broad Humor (with other films' I've written about before like ZOMBLEBEES and MAID OF HORROR and CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME)  in Los Angeles and The Toronto Independent Film Festival, it seems to be doin' alright. Can't wait to catch it in LA on September 22nd!

Heather Jack's Apocalyptic LET'S NOT PANIC

LET'S NOT PANIC is a sci-fi/comedy NYU Grad Film thesis short written and directed by Heather Jack. Jack says her new short will be, "optimistic, witty, and fun" despite being about an impending asteroid crash that will demolish New York City.

Recently, End-of-the-World comedies have been hitting the fan. Edgar Wright's THE WORLD'S END, Lorene Scafaria's SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, Michelle Steffes's 2011 short THE INTERVIEW, Jen Moss's short MY BROTHER'S KEEPER (OR HOW NOT TO SURVIVE THE APOCALYPSE) and Drew Barrymore's upcoming THE END all take a romantic, comedic, ironic, and heartfelt-yet-dark-and-poignant look at what happens to people when, literally, their worlds fall apart. It must be some kind of post-911, 21st century phenomenon. It's poetic and yet hardboiled, an attitude of hope despite situations so horrifying they're laughable.

When an asteroid threatens to hit New York, Sadie, a neurotic and anxious 20-something, embarks on a quest from Brooklyn to Manhattan to reunite with her therapist, who she is in love with. She believes they can finally be together in a post-apocalyptic world since all social structures will be broken down and the rules keeping them apart will cease to exist. Along the way, Sadie accrues a small group of other modern, neurotic New York evacuees, Wizard of Oz style. As the group adapts to their new survival needs, looting an upscale restaurant and contending with newly-assembled bicycle gangs, Sadie emerges as their unlikely leader. But will the doctor be the ultimate source of their salvation, and can they reach him before disaster strikes?

LET'S NOT PANIC is currently raising funds and I'm hoping we'll be able to see it in 2014. (Thanks to Kate Tsang for tipping me off about this one!)

A ZOMBIE NEXT DOOR by Trish Geiger and Frank Dietz

I recently had the pleasure of writing a 4-pager for Famous Monsters of Filmland's June 2013 issue on BEAST WISHES, a documentary directed by Trish Geiger about Bob and Kathy Burns, those genre film memorabilia collectors.

I'm so happy to learn that Geiger is back, with Frank Dietz (who also was a part of BEAST WISHES) on a new mockumentary, A ZOMBIE NEXT DOOR. Like most Monster Kid endeavors (and Dietz is one), A ZOMBIE NEXT DOOR is lighthearted, silly, but shows a strong love and understanding of practical makeup FX, horror homage, and what makes classic horror films so special to so many horror fans.

The film is complete, and is currently in post production. Check out the teaser, and enjoy it. It seems like the kind of zombie film parents could enjoy with their kids, while still packed chock-full of references only adults will understand (you know, like a Bugs Bunny cartoon). I'll keep you posted on new developments…

Marion Kerr's MISDIRECTED Web Series, Season 2

Marion Kerr's dark comedy series MISDIRECTED is gearing up for Season 2. It's best described (by me) as that show THE NEW GIRL, but actually funny, and not boring.

If you've never seen it, all season 1 episodes are on the website.

MISDIRECTED is a comedic web series that follows a young woman facing a life that is completely unfamiliar to her, and the awkwardness that comes with trying to unravel it all. Thankfully she has her friends to help reintroduce her to her life… though they may not be entirely truthful.

I highly suggest watching it. Check out their fundraising page as well and consider contributing. After all, they did a LOST parody photo shoot. You wish you did it first.

Misdirected Web Series

MARTINI MOM AND DEVIL SPAWN, The Feature

Devi Snively's comedic, fantastical web series MARTINI MOM AND DEVIL SPAWN has been turned into a feature film. Accidentally.

The series, described as ROSEMARY’S BABY mixed with ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, is about a woman named Rosemary who unexpectedly births the Spawn of Satan.

 It’s not easy mothering this mischievous man-eating “messiah”, especially when gun-toting bunnymen, Dick Cheney robots, King Kong and the entire state of Arizona constantly interrupt martini time with their own evil agenda

The 15 episodes total 98 minutes when strung altogether on one big sitting, which makes basically some kind of feature film! It will be premiering as a film at Gen-Con (along with Snively's short film DEATH IN CHARGE) on Friday, August 16 at 8pm.

Episodes 1-10 are HERE, so watch them!