Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Motherf**kin' Rat!

A recreation of Annie Hall that I helped some friends do. I'm the dude in the film. Weird seeing me act...

A Motherf***in' Rat from Lucas on Vimeo.

Oh, The Horror! #33: I Walked With A Zombie

I Walked With a Zombie was a 1943 movie directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Val Lewton. A common thing about Lewton's films were that he had a title and had to make a story around that title. This was one of them. The movie is about a Canadian nurse, Betsy Connell (played by Frances Dee) who gets hired to watch over an ill woman named Jessica Holland (Christine Gordon), wife of Paul Holland, a sugar plantation owner in the Caribbean island of St. Sebastian. In the first night she meets Paul (Tom Conway) who warns her that the beauty she sees in this island is really misery and death, his brother Wes, Alma the maid, and Jessica who walks zombie-like to the protagonist at the dead of night frightening her and beginning the problem of the story. Betsy is told that a tropical fever had caused the strange case of Jessica's condition but underneath it may in fact be a supernatural cause to this. After a few nights of Jessica's condition not improving, Betsy becomes desperate and searches other means: finding a houngan, the local Vodou priest to help her recover. When she reaches the village, a mob of Vodou practitioners approach Jessica, stabs her with a sword and sees that she doesn't bleed, thus revealing her state as a zombie. This then leads to many other complications as the film goes on with Jessica's condition and a Vodou priest getting involved in trying to recover Jessica for whatever reasons.

Now I will say that although not much happens in this movie, I had a delightful time watching it. It could be my bias as to my recent interest in the religion of Vodou, but I was intrigued into this film since the beginning till the end. The atmosphere and mood of everything was very chilling and engrossing. The characters all stood out very well, even if they weren't main characters. I especially loved the depiction of the black characters in the movie. For a film done in 1943, I was expecting some random offensive depictions, for example the maid and Vodou practitioners, but I was surprised to see them depicted quite well.

A few aspects had caught me by surprise, though, that got me intrigued. One being the scene when Betsy travels with Jessica through a mysterious field to reach a Vodou ritual. As they move deeper and deeper, the scene gets creepier and creepier and very tense until we meet Carre-Four, an actual zombie who appears throughout the film in very creepy fashion. The scene caught me entirely off guard and would scare the living hell out of me if I were in her shoes. But the thing that got me was that Carre-Four was explained to be a guardian of the crossroads and that you wouldn't be able to pass through him without a Vodou badge, which Betsy had lost on her way there. Carre-four just walks away, letting them pass. After that, we see Carre-Four being controlled by a Vodou priest to retrieve Jessica. Now what got me questioning this was that ever since hearing "Carre-four" was in this movie, I was expecting to see "Kalfu" which was pronounced the same. Kalfu in the Haitian Vodou religion is a god and not someone to mess with, the Lord of crossroads and known as the grand daddy of sorcery and black magic while he allows bad luck and destruction. There was no way in hell Kalfu would allow a Vodou priest to control him as a zombie. It was until I did a bit of research of the movie and saw the name was used mostly as a nod to him. I will say, though, Carre-Four was creepy as all types of hell in this movie. Especially when he creeps towards us, arms wide-open... sheesh!

Another scene I especially loved was when Betsy found the village and the locals were singing in actual Haitian dialect. That made me proud, oh yes, especially hearing that the film-makers did a big bunch of research, even hiring actual Vodou practitioners and Vodou musicians. But something did get me later... the use of a Vodou doll. So I'm guessing it was this film that gave Vodou dolls a bad name, huh? The Vodou priest begins to use a Vodou doll to control Jessica and later causes things to happen while in control of her. Now, from what I understand, Vodou dolls have nothing to really do with Haitian Vodou but with Louisiana Vodou and is actually used to bless and protect people, not control or do harm. Thanks, Hollywood. Heh.

So yes, throughout the movie, there is a constant sense of questioning where all this is going to go. You're not too sure which characters will do what or how they'll act out through the movie. There's simply a sense of not knowing anything, who's to blame, who's the villain, etc. That definitely gives the movie a big plus from me with the ambiguity as questions are left unanswered in some way despite there being... well, let me stop before I spoil something. But overall, definitely watch this movie. I especially loved the depiction of zombies- not the cannibalistic superhuman monsters we're used to now, but the monsters that are easily controlled and aren't too frightening, but you sure as hell don't wish it to happen upon you. Although Carre-Four is scary as fudge. Watch this for Carre-Four!

edit: Oh yes, I also read that the Saw creators are planning on remaking this movie... WHY?!? PLEASE DON'T!!! NO!!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I was interviewed...

As mention, part of this website mission is to unleash hidden talent for the world to see. To expose goldmines regarding stories and art that might be tucked away from the general public. For our second interview, we've contacted Greg Anderson who recently published a short story within an comic anthology called Loving memory.

let's get this interview started.

So can you tell us what the name of your published piece is called and what it's about?

Hey, it's great to be here. The name of my piece is In Loving Memory... and could be found in an anthology called RX Tales: Stories To Make You Feel Better! published under MC Studios. It's a very short story, about 8 pages, of a woman speaking to her comatose husband to awaken. There's a bit of a reversal at the end which I won't spoil. It's also drawn by Kotsu, a fantastic artist from Jersey. We were very fortunate to find her.

Wow, that's pretty deep. So did you have plans to expand this into a mini series or was this going to remain as just a one shot?

Always meant to be a one-shot deal. I tend to leave some of my short stories with a bit of a cliff-hanger which I developed through my love for reading and writing horror stories but this was a one-shot story and not horror, but a complete love story.

I see, so how exactly were your approached with this opportunity, did they come to you?

Nepotism. Heh, nah, just something my cousin-in-law, George Hartman, and I started discussing. George is a big comic geek and whenever there's a family reunion we're to the side just talking about comics. One day he told me he was putting together an anthology that focused on hospitals, whether it be doctors, nurses, patients, etc ranging from all types of genres. He asked if I wanted to contribute and there was no way I was going to pass that up. I at first wanted to write a horror story but decided to challenge myself and write something else out of my element and I have to say I loved how it turned out.

Wow, and how was that for you? As an aspiring artist, I can definitely admit it's a daunting task to work outside your element. Did you feel you did it successfully, and how did you feel about the finish product of your writing?

It was great. Although I'm mostly a bit of a horror writer, I definitely try and love to dabble in other genres. There's usually a good bit of comedy and character moments I love to put into my writing. Even if a work isn't horror, I've added at least a very small element or supernatural thing to it. But I do like to challenge myself as a writer. Sometimes it's a little hard for me to step out of my element, but that's usually when it comes to poetry. When writing scripts, I could come up with anything of whatever genre/topic, but tell me to write a poem, it'd usually come up quite morbid, haha. And I swear it's not intentional. When I do try to write poetry out of my element, you could tell it comes off a bit forced but it's something I'm trying to cross as I don't feel depressed, least not for the past few years, But I think it's one of those things where it's said pain makes good art. I tend to only write poetry when I'm down. Only a few times I've written poetry in a good ecstatic mood... I just may do that right now...

So tell us a bit about the artist. How did you find her and do you feel she captured your script the right away? How did it feel to see your creation come to life?

The artist is Kotsu. A girl from New Jersey and a damn good artist. Funny, she's also more of a horror fan from her love for zombies. It was George who found her in time to do the art for my script. After locking her in, George sent me a link to her myspace and deviant art and I was excited. What was funny was that her and I were already friends from myspace, but never interacted. When George sent the first batch of preview pages to me, I was the giddiest school girl you'd ever see. I was speechless for a while with a twinkle in my eye. I was truly beyond ecstatic to see something of mine produced into such good artwork. I printed a few pages out and showed it off to some friends and folks at my comic shop, haha. I feel she truly helped bring the story to life, especially the flash back scenes of the main characters' date. I was also very excited to meet her at the Mocca Fest a few months back. Sadly I didn't get to take a photo with her or have her sign my copy of the anthology.


Wow, the art does appear very impressive. So how have sales been so far, and for those that maybe interested in this anthology, how can they purchase it?

Well, I don't know much about overall sells, but the one day I was at the Mocca Fest promoting, we did sell a good amount. I know George was able to sell a lot more the days I wasn't there. Anyone interested in purchasing a copy could get one by e-mail George at Just leave a subject topic indicating RX Tales.

Excellent, so now we have an avenue for those interested in the anthology. So how much is the price of the anthology, and what are you currently working on?

It's $3, so pretty cheap. Currently I'm mostly working and focusing on school. Planning on turning one of my comic scripts into a thesis film, hopefully half live-action/half animation. Fingers crossed on that one. Beyond that just writing scripts as practice. But George is planning on another anthology which I've written a script for. This time a horror, heeeh heeeeeehhhh......

So we definitely know what to expect from you in the near future lol. Thank you so much for conducting this interview with me. Do you have last words for our readers out there?

Eat a roach.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


"Icon is that rarest of creatures -- a well-told adventure story that achieves genuine political depth. Highly recommended."
-Alan Moore (writer of WATCHMEN)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by M.D. Bright and Mike Gustovich
Cover by Denys Cowan

The flagship character from Milestone Comics is back in this new printing of the classic title collecting Icon #1-8. This is the title that introduced Augustus Freeman, a successful lawyer who covertly uses his alien super-powers to help those in need. But when a teenaged girl from the streets convinces him to use his abilities to inspire his people and becomes his sidekick, Rocket, the affluent Augustus embraces his true destiny and becomes Icon, the hero of Dakota.

Advance-solicited; on sale September 30 • 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Monday, September 7, 2009

Oh, The Horror! #32: Cat People

For this semester in school, I enrolled in a film class showcasing horror movies by Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur. The first movie we watched was 1942's Cat People. It was directed by Tourneur and produced by Lewton. The movie stars Simone Simon as Irena Dubrovna and Kent Smith as Oliver Smith. The film focuses on these two stars as they play a couple who meet at a zoo, fall in love, and get married. But there lies a problem. A problem in which Irena fears that if there were any moment of passion, even a slight kiss, she would turn into a cat and kill her lover, a curse that was passed on in her old village of Serbia. Oliver struggles to love Irena as he continues to try to convince her that it's all in her mind while Irena pleads against it and grows jealous of her husband's budding friendship with co-worker Alice, played by Jane Randolph. Tom Conway plays Dr. Louis Judd, a psychiatrist who tries to help Irena get through her fears but also starts to develop feelings for her.

A continuing point that gets made in my class, starting from the supernatural class I took over the past summer, was that horror - usually films of the supernatural - dealt with the eruption of the repressed, usually sexuality. This is showcased in films like The Innocents (my favorite horror film) and also in this movie. In this movie, if Irena's frigidity or passion is unwrapped, the horror comes out. Underneath, this film is about a woman unable and afraid to express and develop her sexuality. This is one plot point that makes it a very interesting movie to watch, as we begin to wonder if Irena isn't in fact crazy.

This wasn't my first time watching this movie. I had seen it previously during the summer and wasn't entirely sure how I felt about the movie. To me it was very slow but I did enjoy parts with Irena freaking out and her scenes with animals who all seem to have a sixth sense and would react wildly around her. One particular scene with a canary gets a good chuckle out of me and people who watch it. Second time watching, while I still felt was a little slow, I was more into the movie. Despite having over 90% over at Rotten Tomato, I do feel that watching this film may be a required taste for people use to watching movies of the now. But who knows, maybe there are some who'd enjoy it. Though I'm not too sure who among my friends would sit through it.

Another note about the movie: it was the first to use the horror technique bus. From wiki...

"Lewton and his production team claim credit for inventing the popular horror film technique called the "bus". The term came from the scene where Irena is walking behind Alice; the audience expects Irena to turn into a panther at any moment and attack her. At the most tense point, when the camera focuses on Alice's confused and terrified face, the silence is shattered by what sounds like a hissing panther—but it is a bus pulling over to pick her up. After the excitement dies down, the audience is left uncertain whether anything supernatural or life-threatening actually happened. This technique has been adapted into a great many horror movies since then. Anytime a movie creates a scene where the tension rises and dissipates into nothing at all, merely an empty boo!, it is a 'bus'."