I’ve mentioned before that Adam got his start doing comedy, especially during romantic comedies but also stand up and sitcom kind of work. Holliston is a sitcom that is described sometimes as the big bang theory for horror fans.
It’s semi autobiographical in the way that my Violent Blue is – that is to say a lot of the events and situations happened in one form or another but have been so dramatised and fictionalised dad you can’t rightly refer to it as a non-fiction any longer. Things are tweeked for comedy and heightened for the best plot – along with certain fictional elements and ideas thrown in out of nowhere.
It’s low budget – man is it low-budget.
It’s cheesy and cheap and it shows. I stress this, I have to point this out because you have to know this going in. If you expect this thing to look like “Friends” then you are going to be seriously upset. Still, it’s strength isn’t so much in the production values as it is in the characters that you genuinely connect with the characters Adam and Joe and Corey and Laura, and that makes you forget the terrible looking robot cat, or some of the sillier gags, or the extremely clumsy attempts to break the fourth wall. That’s the thing about Holliston, it has so many technical imperfections that are just glaringly obvious, and yet for some reason it endears itself to the viewers despite all of these shortcomings (and it’s definitely DESPITE these shortcomings, not because of them…).
When I met Adam Green at Days of the Dead a few years ago he was on a publicity tour for Holliston. Seriously, I had not even heard of this show. It was nowhere near being on my radar. Even after meeting Adam I wasn’t quite sold – what did it for me was seeing the Holliston panel, and watching Adam along with Derek Mears and Dave Brockie laughing it up on stage and really selling the show. To the best of my knowledge, it was Dave Brockie’s last convention appearance – I am incredibly grateful that I got a chance to meet him. By the time I got on to him, he was out of the Odorous Urungus costume and in some ways that’s a bit of a drag, but in other ways….
See, if it had been Odureus, I would’ve approached him differently. We would have joked and gotten the picture and that would be it. But I didn’t meet Odorous, I met Dave. We chatted about radio and how Danny Bonaduche was constantly referring to GWAR as his favourite band – Dave seemed taken aback by that… “I love Danny Bonaduce… “He said in slight awe. Dave was friendly and charming outside of the costume and I’m very glad I got to meet him. He was the epitome of my own philosophy for sitcoms where what you need is a pretty girl some good friends and a smart mouth puppet. Dave was such a smart mouth and could not have been more of a cartoon… Not even in the animated episode – ha ha!
Houston is available on DVD and Blu-ray, and eventually it will be streaming somewhere… But the time you read this it may have already shown up on geek nations website. (remember I write these things months, if not years in advance) it’s definitely worth checking out.I remember I found it a little difficult to get through at first, but it didn’t take long for me to be hooked – waiting each week for new episode (which I would watch legally every week streamed off of fear net website) It’s addicting, and it’s amazing how easy it is to invest in these characters start it’s an even more amazing how the investment in these characters washes over to these people – these actors, and Adam Green himself. That’s important to remember, as we explore Digging up the Marrow next month.
Today’s cinematic atrocity is Arcade! It’s a Full Moon classic starring little Ralphie from a Christmas Story and Q from Star Trek : the next generation. It also features a VERY young Seth Green and is pretty worth watching just for that.
I’ve had to defend the special effects in the past though – if you look there on that old VHS box, you’ll notice it exclaims “virtual reality special Effects”! They may be pushing the definition of virtual reality – they might be pushing the definition of special effects for that matter… Zacherly used to refer to certain SFX as special DEFECTS, and that’s far more appropriate here. There is a lot of primitive CG splashed up against a blue screen – and what’s really frightening is the original set of special effects were even more primitive, to the point where Charles Band put the movie on hold until they could find somebody who could do you something little better.
The original version of the CG villain had no moving parts – he was a far more blocky solid character, where as the finished product as a bit more personality and movement to it. You can get a glimpse of what it would’ve looked like at the beginning of the video zone featurette’s at the end of every full moon videotape. Those graphics have a lot more in common with Tron – not a bad movie, but back in 1993 that look was quite seriously behind the times. You can see huge differences between the two pictures below – the very static face of Arcade, a mask really with no movement except shadows from the flickering lights behind the mask, transport that looked more like light cycles than liquid metal terminators, and a title font that would look extremely cool in a children’s cartoon but not in an r-rated horror movie. It’s stuff that would pass on VR Troopers or in an 80’s movie, but not in ’93, not after T2 had redefined CG forever (or at least until The Matrix arrived seven years later)
I’ve seen some of those original,and I can see why they decided to redo the effects. Not just the models, we also go from grids and gradients to textured backgrounds with clouds and atmosphere. Electrical effects and far more detail. The original effects were simpler. They took less time to create (one or two moving pieces and slap a bitmap on it for color) and would take FAR less time to render. The finished effects have multiple textures applied, with great detail, are made up of far more polygons and include more lighting effects. The difference in both build time and render time must have increased by months.
Despite the computer generated FX even worse than those in the Lawmower Man, I’m a fan of this film. The CG does not age well, but it’s not meant to – and you can forgive it because of that.
The story is practically paint by numbers. New game put out, someone developed AI. AI turns evil. The girl who can’t play video games is the one who has to save the day.
Despite that, it has the sense of fun and adventure that Full Moon Films typically have. I really love watching this, and another big selling point here is the cast. These are all kids (at the time anyhow), and you can tell they are all having a genuinely good time with each other. watching the behind the scenes feature in particular REALLY brings this out.
Can I talk a little about the actual video arcade they feature in this movie? Because seriously, this place is awesome. A little basement hole-in-the-wall with black lights and glowing stickers all over? A nice mix of old games and new, man I would have loved this place and spent every dollar I ever made if I’d had one of these joints in the 90’s. The only arcades around here were at the Mall and the Bowling Alley. This however, this feels real. It feels like a teenage hangout and it made me want to be there. It’s little details like this that I’m talking about, this is the stuff that makes a mediocre film come alive and entertain.
Truth is, this is a FUN movie. You forget about the low budget, Even though the effects make you feel like you crawled in to your Packard Bell micro tower to play DOOM you don’t care. This isn’t T2 or the Lawnmower man. You didn’t pick this up to stare at the pretty SFX. Sure you can see that plot twist coming a mile away, but you’ll find yourself rooting for it anyhow.
You’ll see it on the shelf at the Record Exchange or Flea market sometimes. It’s sure to be on Full Moon Streaming. Seriously, give this one a try some lazy Sunday afternooon. It’s got to be better than watching the Browns lose.
I wonder if anybody ever asks her about this one? Her inclusion in the movie actually makes it feel a little bit more like pet semetary– and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I guess Mortuary is basically a stylised zombie story? There is a findish sort of moss that turns people into the walking dead – you don’t necessarily have to be bitten either. I almost feel like we also have a kind of Lovecraft story going on with a vast monster hiding behind the mortuary itself. This is a solid fun horror film – it’s not going to win any awards and the 90s CG I is actually looking pretty dated, but it’s forgiveable because of the period and because they’re trying to create something that looks otherworldly done kinder in the way that stop motion is forgiveable on monsters because we knows? Maybe that’s just the way they move down there some fun make-up choices here as well – green beans on action faces things that point back to the plant-based nature of this infection doesn’t think kind of the Stephen King segment show. I like this that it’s probably one that upload again or have running at a Halloween party… I’m not convinced that it’s the best offering in this sad, but it certainly one of the highlights.
For some strange reason, I can’t remember anything about this film except the band. I know I’ve seen it in the past, but honestly as I looked at it and was kind of drawing a blank so I thought I’d throw it in for a viewing while I was watching the rest of this collection. I still can’t believe that I just don’t remember any of this! It’s an anthology film with three stories told against the backdrop of a train ride to heaven or hell – we’re not exactly told which. God and the Devil are examining the lives of certain people and bargaining for who is going to go where.
During these framing sequences, we also get treated to an extremely 80s rock band playing the same song over and over again. It’s not aparticularly good or bad tune but it does get stuck in your head.
There’s stories about the devil trying to recruit as well as tales of mad scientists and doctors of using patients… I can’t believe I forgot Richard Moll is in this! He plays two different characters into different segments! I love Richard, I especially love his exploitation and horror work – and I told him that myself by the way. Of all the people from my favorite Sitcom;Night Court, he has by far had the most interesting career. Night Train to Terror is a fun film, it’s very much a product of its time and also very much a direct to video kind of film. The back and forth between God and the Devil – I can’t argue the conceit, but it does come off as cheesy. So does the band. The vignettes are utterly forgettable, indeed, Not only have I forgotten them once… But even as I attempt to write this article the stories are a little fuzzy. It’s a nice quick watch though – and really good fodder for horror hosts (in fact that maybe where I’ve seen this previously), More than anything and I can say for this, is that it is a fun film – and definately a recommend. I’d even go as far as to say this one is a buy. You can usually find it cheap, and considering I can never remember these plots – it’s a great value because I feel like you’re seeing a new movie every time!
For a low-budget micro production, the farm sure does feel like it’s got some good production values. he film is shot well and the actors are reasonably competent done the problem with the bar, is that it takes itself way too seriously. This wants to be a serious interpersonal drama with musings on mortality and purpose – but it doesn’t earn it.
Moreover it’s a zombie film that forgotten that it’s a zombie film. The monsters are somewhat alluded to – that is, we know there is a thread out there, but we don’t actually see the zombies until we are well past the half way point here.
This is the story of two brothers that have survived a zombie apocalypse on the family farm, when a girl stumbles into their life searching for her sister – a sister that they had just killed moments before she turned up. The story is actually much simpler than that, it’s looking at the wounded younger brother, the protective over older brother, and let’s go get some supplies so that we can actually shoehorn some zombies into this story. I think this film could work better if they attempted to have fun with that. If they injected some core humour… But the film insists on itself, and this makes it come off as way too heavy handed. It wants to be an art film instead of a zombie film, but in doing so it succeeds it being neither.
The greatest care is given to the brothers make up, which is an interesting scarring along with the missing arm – it’s cleverly pulled off, though it’s fairly simple see how it’s been done and the greasepaint doesn’t always match his skin tone. The zombies on the other hand are far simpler – shambling ragged clothes with blood poured over them. I’m a little less impressed by this. In some ways it almost feels like someone wanted to make the walking dead but didn’t want to put in the effort. Really that’s the perfect way to sum up this film – it’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see at a film festival with dozens of other movies, or in a film class where the student is just a little bit too impressed with himself. This one is definitely a pass.
Eaters : Rise of the dead is a by the number is zombie film.it’s right out of the Romero playbook, zombie outbreak and fall of society. Very standard fare, with a lot of actors who are definitely into horror and genre films. The zombies here are viral, not quite as fast as rage zombies but certainly that same origin done make up is good, the splatter is fun and the filmmakers are trying very hard to make an enjoyable film. They realise this is not art, and there are definately not trying for a high concept piece here. It’s good bloody fun to throw on and play in the background at a party or will you do something else.it’s exactly the sort of thing that I expect to see a compatible like cinema wasteland done it also exactly the sort of film that I could see myself renting back in my College days. It’s a recommend, but a shaky one. Go in with low expectations and you’ll have fun.
As the blue skull face alien stepped up to the urinal, a blood soaked priest burst out of one of the stalls. The crimson stains on his white vestments matched the red pus oozing out of the recesses in the zombie-like aliens face.
“Is that Skelly over there?” The priest yelled out as he was joined by another man slowly been eaten by the zombie on his shoulder.
What’s funny is the part I find most disturbing about the scene, is that there are guys actually talking to each other in the bathroom – it’s kind of a violation of bro code, whereas everything else I’ve described here is perfectly normal for Cinema Wasteland. Strap in. You know it’s going to be a long post when I can’t get it out on Monday….
Sometimes Fridays are a slow night, where you ease yourself in with the short film block and panels, other times it’s just as busy as Saturday. This time around I came in, greeted friends and grabbed my autographs because it looked like it was going to be a busy day. They had already been busy, braving the snow that Cleveland had dumped on us overnight. As I sat at work Friday morning I watched as Wastelanders built a snowman in the hotel yard. My friend Bruce Wayne was in attendance this year and I had his room number, so as soon as I arrived, I started to post Superman pictures on the door to his weekend batcave. Then it was time to pop over to some of the guests – this time round we were doing a Night of the Living Dead Reunion, and Wasteland had brought in a number of the stars. It just so happens that my daughter is making her own zombie video at this very moment and I spent some time securing cameos for her movie. Stuff like this is one of the joys of small conventions; you have time to spend with the guests and get a greater connection.
I discovered I had some time to kill between panels and movies so I made my way over to the Mummy and the Monkeys show. They were screening King of the Zombies, a film I’m very fond of – Mantan Moreland was a genius and because this is in the public domain it’s a horror host staple. As the mummy, Janet Decay did her segment I gasped with delight. She covered one of our local zombie walks, and I found myself appearing in the video – a zombie clad in iron man out armor carrying around a skeletal Spiderman. This is actually the Second time I’ve appeared on the Mummy and the Monkey, and that’s not even counting my appearance on Janet’s previous show.
I slipped out of there in time to catch the first panel – Rick Cazoine is an animator whose work you seen even if you don’t realize it. He did the end credits for Night of the Living Dead, as well as the animation for Creepshow, and even some work on Evil Dead two. With that kind of a filmography under his belt, you can imagine this was a fascinating talk. Rick came prepared, complete with a slideshow covering his career – it was a really fun way of transcending the normal movie panel chitchat, and made it all the more engrossing.
After pasting more Superman on Bruce’s door, I snuck into to Gunga Jim’s screening. I really like Jim and his approach to her hosting, the commentary that he lays over tracks is always hilarious – unexpectedly so sometimes. He passed out graduation caps and introuced his presentation for the evening. Cinema Wasteland is basically a show that celebrates bad movies, but the Bigfoot movie that Gunga was screening this weekend was so terrible I couldn’t even manage to get past the half an hour mark. I struggled from the room in search of my team for that nights trivia challenge.
The Red Robsters were all huddled around a table in the bar as Nicole tried in vain to set up a Skype session with Angelique and her sainted fiancé – the two of them had to unexpectedly cancel their trip wasteland this year and we were all missing them back in Georgia. We got the video working, but the audio never came through which was just as well – the noise level in the bar was so high that she probably wouldn’t of been able to hear us anyhow. We communicated through Skype by holding up handwritten notes to each other, jokes and sketches and general wasteland like conversation. It was by far my favorite part of the night.
The trivia contest itself was a bust, taking too long, with the organization too confusing not to mention the questions being really stinking hard! I figured the questions would be similar to the ones we used to get during Ghastlee night at the movies, when we played 42nd Street Pete’s 42 questions. No such luck, these questions were truly obscure and crazy difficult stuff. I threw my graduation cap down in disgust
“It’s like this doesn’t work at all! Look this cap comes right off!” I exclamed as Nicole grabbed a knife and tried to take out the competition.
The game ran long and I missed the final movie of the night leaving me tired and about ready to be done for the day. I politely declined everybody’s invitation to head back to the hotel room and eat junk food while watching the Greasy Strangler in favor of running home and heading the hay, to be fresh for the next day.
After getting up, making the girls breakfast, and then presenting them and my wife with the surprises I had brought them from Wasteland I was back in the car and ready for day two.
Saturday is always the big day in Wasteland. There are movies galore, not to mention panels and events. With two Night of the Living Dead panels, split between the actress and the original investors, even the most diehard fan was going to learn something new about the seminal classic.
I managed to sneak out for lunch with friends and then shuffle into my make up between panels. I was trying out a They Live look…it’s a make-up I’ve never quite perfected – and Saturday was no exception. Everything is still a little bit too big, the chin hangs down to low, and the eyes are too bulky. They also didn’t want to stay in place. I had tried these out at home previously, but only for a short while – just to see if they would stay when I put them in and to discover whether or not is was possible to hold them in with my eyebrows and cheeks; much like a monocle. It was okay at first, but after 20 minutes they started popping up and did not want to stay in any longer. I ended up sealing them in with liquid latex (Spirit Gum didn’t hold either), which meant the bug eyes would render everything around me somewhat blurry for the next six hours.
Outside the convention hotel, I grabbed Rhonda and Criss and we sat and played her new board game “go to hell! “. Rhonda is the only person that I know who brings card games and board games to a convention, but really it’s a brilliant idea. It’s a great way to fill some of the dead spots between movies and panels, not to mention giving the smokers something to do while they feed their addiction in exile.
I slapped some more Superman stuff on Bruce’s door, only to discover that I wasn’t the only one doing this now! There were superman towels and stuff there that I hadn’t taped up there. I added a few more contributions and headed back down the hall, because it was time for Ghastlee Night at the Movies.
This is always my favorite part of the convention, with bizarre games and activities going on after the house band opens the ceremonies. I jumped up for the first game, and found myself standing on the stage with Rhonda and another young man who was attending wasteland for the very first time. We played a game where they revealed movie posters and characters on the screen, one small part at a time – the goal was to guess the character with as little of it showing as possible. Ghastlee came up to me to introduce me as one of the players and ask my name. “My name is Matt, “I replied. Ghastlee stepped back for a second, aghast.
“Oh my God, it really is Matt! “He turned to the audience. “Matt’s a friend, and I didn’t recognize him with all that stuff on his face! “. Yes, the game is off to a roaring start.
“And the picture is – Ghastlee’s wedding night video! ”
“Oh God, I hope not – if that’s the case EVERYONE loses! ”
“Hey, YOU wanna come up here and host this thing? I didn’t think so! ”
Of course, keep in mind that my vision is impaired – and we are playing a picture game. How I won this one by correctly identifying Tarman from Return of the Living Dead is absolutely beyond me. It may have had to do with me clapping my hands over Rhonda’s eyes when it was her turn to guess…. The festivities carried on with murder mysteries, appalling displays, and of course the S@#%heel of the year award. I tried with all my might to sway the vote for Ryan, but alas it was to no avail.
As things wound down, I ran to the bathroom to peel off my make up before the late nights screenings. It was clinging much harder to my face then I had expected and had dried into something somewhat different than the look I had intended. Like I said earlier, I really need to refine this particular lock.
Sundays are always a bit melancholy and I frequently skip them. It’s a day to say goodbye to everybody, and catch up on any films that you may have missed throughout the weekend. It’s also cheaper day so people like my friend Sean will pop in just to shop on those days. Still, everyone is moving just a bit slower than usual – my friend Jason refers to Sundays at Wasteland as “the unofficial Strongsville zombie walk”. The film selection this Sunday gave me a very VHS vibe. They really felt like the sort of movies that I’d pull off the shelf at Heights Video on the Friday evening to take home with a pizza and friends. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is a slower film but has moments of magnificent gore, and the style that is very distinct. The same can’t be said for Nightmare City, which seems to break all rules of zombies by having them cognizant, fast, and using tools and weapons. Really not sure what I was watching here!
In between my two features, I managed to sneak back in for the tail end of the 16 mm screening of Night of the Living Dead – it was about half over, but still worth watching. Midafternoon on Sunday feels like a good time for this movie and I let myself be drawn in with the familiar faces – faces that I had just spoken to over the weekend.
I tried not to glance at the dealers room as I left. It always feel sad to see them packing everything up and to watch people checking out of the hotel, but it’s okay – because it will all be back in just six months. My friend Nicole says “You know why Wasteland is only three days? Any longer and God would notice and rain fire on us.”
See you in October.
Population 2 is a story about a post nuclear apocalypse told mostly in flashback from the perspective of the sole survivor – a woman who wanders the earths looking for supplies and attempting to stay alive. Ther production values here are extremely good, well lit, well shot. In some ways it feels a bit like a student film, but with real actors – done, say at the end of the semester.
There is a good story here somewhere, but it gets lost in the form – the way that the story jumps back and forth between present day and it’s flashbacks can sometimes be a little bit jarring. While all the characters are extremely well performed and giving a compelling narrative, I spent about half the film A little confused and off balance – I get why now that I know the story, but as I was watching I frequently found myself not totally certain what’s going on or why – the set up is occasionally too vague, but the payoffs generally explain away my confusion.
The CG is the most daunting part of the film, the cutaways to the bomber aeroplane that occur in between just about every flashback and flash forward to the present. The plane itself is a compently constructed CG model, but it never feels right to the eye – the movement and the shadows are off, it just doesn’t work. Inside the plane, we have an equally CG cockpit – obviously a guy on a flight suit shot against a green screen and we cut back and forth between angles of him and a cockpit dashboard that again has obviously been created by computer. I understand the limitations of budget, but they use this sequence so much – and it’s the same footage again and again and again, with voices overdubbed to give the impression of the pilot in a casual conversation with whoever is on the ground. It does nothing to drive the story, and you can’t even find any sympathy for these characters as you’re still not sure what the deal is. I genuinely wonder if the sequences want inserted just to inflate the running time and get a respectable distance past 60 minute mark. This is a perfect example of how this film loves its stock footage. We also get stock of the Holocaust itself, as well as bits and pieces introducing talk shows and such – it all becomes a little over the top. The film earns its beats, the drama that we feel is absolutely justified, but undermined by those aeroplane sequences. Even the framing sequence is poorly paced – it’s too long to really be considered just framing sequence, but too short to really contribute anything other than some interesting imagery.
This film would probably work far better as a short feature – trimming the stock, trimming the present day, dropping the aeroplane stuff altogether to bring it down to a tight 35 to 40 minutes – I think we’d feel the drama and engage with these characters far better then.
It really is the perfect kind of film for a collection like this… I’m glad I saw it, and if I’d watched it at a film festival, it would’ve stuck with me just like it does now. But I don’t think it be too happy if I plunked down $10 for a DVD. Great get a collection like this and definitely worth a watch, but not worth the buy by itself.
To Survive is the story of an ex cop in a surprisingly green post apocalyptic world – doing just with the title says trying to survive. Early in the film he gets on the wrong side of some bad guys and takes refuge in a church. There he finds a family who he sort of adopts and takes responsibility for protecting. As the film progresses a few more people join the group.
To Survive is really the Walking Dead, just without the zombies. It’s the breakdown of society and the interpersonal relationships that spring from this ragtag band of survivors. Generally with an apocalypse like this we see more desolation, more Desert Mad Max style landscapes. This is a little strange to have so much woodland and such an intact looking world. Again, it’s very reminiscent of the walking dead – the main character even looks more than a little bit like Rick Grimes. It’s obvious that’s what they’re going for, and it fits perfectly in this box set with the cover being so walking dead inspired. It’s a good film, competently made, but the comparisons to the walking dead are inevitable and they kind of taint the film for me. It makes me realize just how important this zombies are to this story as a McGuffin… as a storytelling device. I miss them here.
Still, all in all it’s a good film – and I wish we could see more of these kind of movies on the sci-fi channel rather than the dregs they constantly spew on the screen. It’s definitely worth a watch, and a great inclusion in a box set like this.
Of course the problem is, it’s another anthology. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate anthologies? I know some people really dig them – like you’re getting three films for the price of one… But for me I have this strange problem where I’m always way more interested in what’s going on in this framing sequences that I ever am in any of the film segments – indeed, I had the same problem with most horror host shows… But I digress.
Cheny plays the devil in this film, and as he is judging peoplehe comes across a suicide victim and decides to give her another chance – “you’re only sinwas against yourself, that’s a different matter”. He offers to take care of her and maybe try and get her into heaven if she agrees to be his messenger on earth for a couple of tasks. As such this leads us into our stories.
I’ll admit, I only later discovered that there are actually three separate episodes of an anthology horror television show. It makes sense, and it definately feels like one. The first involved a cavewoman, preserved in an iceberg – something like the film iceman, but with a chick and a scientist who is obsessed with her. It’s actually very good and I was a little disappointed that it ended as quickly as it did. We move on to the story of an artist – photographer who sees a woman at the house, smaps a photo of her and yet no one else ever sees her in the photo. It’s a charming ghost story that really ends up feeling spooky. We move on, finally ending up in a tale of infidelity that features the very man our messenger fell in love with and committed suicide over. Indeed he appears in Hell with Cheny and his messenger at the very end of the film… Great way of tying everything together. This one is an extremely high recommend. More than any of the others, it passess the watch test and Cheney’s presence is totally worth it. Oh he’s chewing the scenery, but his name lends it a certain degree of horror cred. This one is worth the buy even outside of a collection like this.