Friday, October 24, 2008

A Halloween Gift from VW's Shane Dallmann


Greetings, friends--

To pave the way for Halloween, and to pay tribute to a fallen--but NEVER to be forgotten--friend, we of the MANOR would like to share a special project with you.

Officially unreleased (for now), THE WOODEN GATE was the second feature length effort from Labcoat Productions. This "evil in the woods" tale from the makers of FLESH EATERS (previously exhibited as an "independent cinema" special at the MANOR) was filled with local (Monterey County) talent, with writing/directing chores shared by Christo Roppolo and yours truly.

THE WOODEN GATE features guest appearances by directors Jeff Burr (THE OFFSPRING, LEATHERFACE, STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS) and Jim VanBebber (DEADBEAT AT DAWN, THE MANSON FAMILY)--and also boasts the final role of our dear friend Jonelle Snead (as "Lucy"). Refusing to let a terminal diagnosis keep her down, Jonelle gave the part everything she had.We couldn't do anything about said diagnosis--but there WAS something we could do for her. It was 2004, we were still working on the movie, but Jonelle had greater concerns--she needed a place to live. At the time, MANOR was transitioning from the Barbary Coast Theatre to the R.O.P. Studio, but the Barbary was still available for our concept--an independent genre film festival in the name of charity--with all proceeds going directly into a fund for Jonelle's temporary residence (we were all willing to help, but couch-crashing and car-bedding weren't the way to go).

The MANOR crew hosted the event. Christo and I supplied FLESH EATERS. Gary Ambrosia (Super Genius Productions) served up his WWII thriller THE ANGELS OF DEATH ISLAND. Jeff Burr screened THE OFFSPRING and Jim VanBebber premiered THE MANSON FAMILY... without a doubt, the nastiest piece of work ever run in the name of charity!

Also on the card was horror-host/storyteller/FRIEND Carpathian (of the Patient Creatures), who regaled the audience with amusing anecdotes and a heartfelt tribute to Jonelle (who, despite initial misgivings, proudly attended the event front and center). The WOODEN GATE cast and crew joined the MANOR team for setup, concessions, cleanup and everything else under the sun, while fellow hosts and friends coast-to-coast donated special auction items and video encouragements.

I will always remember this event--but more important was the aftermath: we did, indeed, secure lodgings for Jonelle (in the company of a registered nurse, no less) for the space of several months before she was relocated to pass away in peace and comfort at the local Hospice House (now known as Westland House) in October of 2004.

So whither THE WOODEN GATE? As frustrating as it has been for the cast and crew, we have been holding out for a PROPER release of our sophomore effort rather than go the "self-publishing" route. At one point, we held out hopes that a certain genre-affiliated DVD company would take advantage of the fact that it was releasing several other properties associated with Jim Van Bebber... but after several months of what amounted to stalling and teasing, their appointed lackey finally admitted that they'd never actually planned to do anything with it.

Whoa--whoa... stop... getting bitter here and that's not where I meant to go. We are shopping THE WOODEN GATE (which sold out the Osio Cinema in Monterey for its Halloween premiere) to a worthy distributor and it's going to happen. But this weekend, on the anniversary of Jonelle's passing, we're going to give it to you FREE.

The MANOR timeslot will kick in with a special introduction and some cartoon fun at 10 Pacific... delaying the start of the feature mayhem to approximately 30m into the show. We did that for a reason--THE WOODEN GATE is one EXTREME piece of work. No hardcore sex or anything like that... but everything ELSE is a go. So as we're fond of saying, "Give the youngsters a book to read."

This is an unofficial MANOR episode--an "independent cinema" special which will run UNCUT and UNINTERRUPTED. Save for our intro material, we will NOT be breaking in and "hosting" it. You'll be getting THE WOODEN GATE full-strength for this pre-Halloween weekend ONLY.

You can meet several of my "Gate-Mates" through my Myspace profile. You'll find lead actor Douglas Matthews as "Douglas," co-players Alfonso Milla and Kat Reina (as "El Chingon" and "kittykat") and special makeup effects mistress Robin Shaw (as "KAT").

And if so moved? Please make a donation to the American Cancer Society--or to the MANOR's current charity of choice, www.twotrees.org (tell them DR. CREEP sent you).

Friday (Oct 24) and Saturday (Oct 25) 10PM Pacific

Saturday (Oct 25) and Sunday (Oct 26) 5AM Pacific

Monterey cable channel 24 (AMP) or on-line at http://www.ampmedia.org/

Choose "Programs" and then "Web Stream" for Channel 24

All my Halloween best,

Shane "Remo D." Dallmann

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Se telefonando"

No less a musical authority than FILM SCORE MONTHLY's John Bender considers this song, written by Ennio Morricone and performed by Mina Mazzini, to be the most sublime few minutes in the history of pop music. He directed me to this 1966 performance on YouTube, which reminded me that I knew the song well (if not by name) from various Morricone anthologies and have never failed to be moved by it. What's especially wonderful about this live performance is that you can tell that Maestra Mazzini knows perfectly well that she has found her defining moment of stardom and, for three minutes and change, she rides that wave in a state of perfect joy and confidence. May we all be so well prepared when our moment comes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

First VIDEODROME Review

While doing my morning net browsing, I was pleased and surprised to discover the first review of my new book VIDEODROME that I've seen on Steve Bissette's S.R. Bissette.com site. (Pictured on the left is a photo not included in the book, showing me interviewing actor James Woods on the set.) Go ahead and click on the review, then come back after reading it and I'll comment.

As with his earlier review of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, Steve is wonderfully enthusiastic and commendatory about the book itself ("a brilliant dissection of the collaborative creative process at work, hence of interest to anyone who is either a creator themselves or eager to understand the creative process") and his review is one that any writer would be pleased to receive. He also has some strong opinions on the subject of what he sees as my ratification of "pejorative terminology" -- in this case, my identification of VIDEODROME as a conceptual granddaddy of the subgenre we know today as "torture porn" -- and I'd like to take a moment to respond to this.

In the book's final chapter discussion of VIDEODROME's influence on contemporary horror trends, the phrase I actually use is "so-called 'torture porn'" and I hardly "dismiss these successors" with the "simplistic contempt" Steve mentions. In fact, my space limitations being what they were (I was contracted to deliver a 144-page book and was generously granted an extension to 160 pages), the whole discussion is limited to a single paragraph that is shared with its influence on films such as THE RING.

Steve may be needled by the fact that I've used the phrase without the "so-called" in some of my past VIDEO WATCHDOG writing, but I've always used it as a convenience, without any political bias nor, as best I can recollect, any critical bias. I see the term as analogous to one that I coined back in my 1980s writing for GOREZONE and FANGORIA -- "gornography" -- a humorous pun that, as a matter of fact, I remember Steve enjoying at the time. I suppose this is a particularly appropriate explanation of anything apropos of VIDEODROME, but Steve seems to have an entirely different subjective take on "torture porn" than I do, one that may well be more connected to reality (as most people perceive it) than my own. I've never seen it as anything but a descriptive term, poppy rather than pejorative, referring to films meant to arouse audiences with dramatizations of reductive cruelty. This probably has something to do with me finding the term "porn" more amiable and user-friendly than its more severe-sounding root word "pornography."

For all that, I've had letters on the subject in the past, which is why I took care to predicate the term with "so-called" in VIDEODROME. Even though I don't take the term as nergatively as some, I would hope this gesture shows a dawning sensitivity on my part to how other people perceive it and a resolve to use it with greater care and awareness.