Monday, November 02, 2009

The Latest

It's been awhile since I've blogged anything substantial, at least in a verbal sense, so I thought I would grab some time on this lazy Monday in which to flex this somewhat atrophied muscle.

Donna and I are presently in the latter stages of preparing VIDEO WATCHDOG 153, which will contain an unusually high number of reviews (everything from THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD Blu-ray to Richard Lester's THE BED SITTING ROOM to DEADGIRL), as well as an interesting feature article on the making of the 1973 regional horror film MALATESTA'S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD, including many never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes photos. For this issue, we'll be swapping out my Video WatchBlog column to include an all-DVD installment of Things From the Attic, for which there has been a lot of demand. I have also written the next issue's AVI Watchdog column myself, focusing on some of the fan-subbed delights available to the lucky members of the file-sharing website Cinemageddon.

While I was in Los Angeles recently, to promote the ISHI script I wrote with Diane Pfister and to introduce and interview Irene Miracle and Keith Emerson at the New Beverly's record-breaking INFERNO screening, I was invited by David J. Schow to participate in recording a couple of audio commentaries for Image Entertainment's release of the complete THRILLER series with Boris Karloff, scheduled for September or October of 2010. David, Ernest Dickerson and I shared the commentary duties on "The Grim Reaper" featuring William Shatner and Natalie Schafer (my favorite THRILLER episode) and "The Premature Burial" featuring Karloff himself. The sessions went really well. I'm told that other episodes will feature commentators like episode director Arthur Hiller, LOST SKELETON director Larry Blamire, filmmaker and soundtrack buff Jim Wynorski, Eighties TWILIGHT ZONE producer Alan Brennert, TWILIGHT ZONE historian Marc Scott Zicree, FANTASTIC TELEVISION author Gary Gerani, and others -- including a dozen or more by Mr. Schow, author of the justly celebrated book THE OUTER LIMITS COMPANION. The producers at Image are also trying to involve some of the surviving actors from the series for comment. Some isolated music scores are also promised. Image's THRILLER, sublicensed from Universal, promises to be the most important archival horror DVD release of next year.

As at least 750 people know, I've been spending most of the time I used to spend here over at Facebook, mostly because I crave the interaction and the exposure to my friends' thoughts and activities. Some relationships I've founded there have truly changed my life, and I seem to be much more focused on my life this year than on my work. This was probably necessary after the time and effort I've applied to this blog, the Bava book, VW and my screenwriting pursuits over the past several years, but it has also been exhausting in its own way. Now that work on the ISHI screenplay is finished, I will be returning to my script of ME AND THE ORGONE, which I abandoned back in February when the ISHI project was brought to me. There is also another script I have agreed to write, about which I'll say more when the time comes.

There are also a couple of novels I have in mind. One is a sequel to THROAT SPROCKETS, already begun, which would take the story in truly unexpected directions; the other would be a contemporary rewrite of a favorite classic novel, a mainstream effort about the changing face of human relationships. I feel so out of the habit of this kind of writing, but know that getting back to it is essential to my sense of well-being.

Also, though the contract is not yet signed, I have accepted an offer for the Italian translation rights of my 2005 novel THE BOOK OF RENFIELD: A GOSPEL OF DRACULA.

But the most exciting news at the moment is that my original horror script SCARS & STRIPES is steadily approaching production, and the producers at Livestock Entertainment have been showing me actors under consideration to play my characters, conceptual art and so forth. As I mentioned above, while in Los Angeles last month, I got to meet Ernest Dickerson, who will be directing the film, and we got along like a house on fire, sharing much the same tastes about horror films and the aesthetics of the genre. He's working on a redraft of the script now and I was excited by everything he said he would be introducing to this draft. Ernest is also preparing an in-title-only remake of RKO's LADY SCARFACE, to star Paz Vega (SEX AND LUCIA), which means he actually has two films in development at present, both with the word SCAR in the title! What are the odds?

I should also mention here that, recently, my ISHI associate Diane visited where she discovered that she was a direct descendant of Matoaka P. Powhatan (1595-1617), better known as Pochahontas. This was an amazing discovery, but a still more personal discovery awaited me when her eureka inspired me to visit this website. I found no discernible celebrities in my family tree but did learn some new things like my father's birthdate (May 22, 1926) and the circumstances of my maternal grandfather's death at age 29 (bronchial pneumonia). I was also able to trace my mother's side of the family to a John Cartwright, born 1600 in Northamptonshire who became my first ancestor to sail to America, where he died in 1666, in Virginia.

But the most startling discovery awaited me at the opposite end of the familial timber, where my mother Juanita was listed as having died on March 5 of this year, at the age of 80.

My mother and I had a difficult relationship, impossible in many ways; we were separated for most of my life, and we had been estranged for her last six years. I still don't know her cause of death, but her sister and only friend, my aunt Rosalie, is likewise listed as having died the day after, on March 6, somewhere in California, so it's possible that they were involved in an accident together. It would have been my mother's first trip to California. We are still searching for answers, even for a burial site, but Rose's daughters Kim and Susan are long since married and hidden behind married names, so I don't know where or how to reach them for further news. Donna and I have written to the house where Rose last lived, in the hope that someone in a position to answer questions will reply. I've written in more detail about my mother in the editorial of the issue now under construction, but it was such a strange, remote way to learn of her death -- oddly typical of the way things always were between us.


  1. Anonymous4:17 PM

    Tim, I'm very sorry for your loss, such as it is, and also for the fact that you received the news in such an impersonal and shockingly coincidental manner. Perhaps you can perform an online search of public records databases in California to try and obtain more information, although you may have attempted that already.

  2. Thank you, Mike. I appreciate the suggestion and the sentiment.

  3. Tim- I am truly sorry to hear about your Mother. I could never begin to approach your vast knowledge about all things film; however for this I feel we can share a more even ground…

    My Mom died a few years ago and I too had not spoken to her in years. When my parents divorced when I was 13 or so, I sided with my Mom and had frozen my Father out of my life, but as time went on it became obvious why my Dad had left. The worse she fell into alcoholism, the greater a strain it was on us, and for my 18th Birthday, I received a registered letter from her lawyers putting me out into the streets…

    I spent years recovering, basically having to start my life on my own. I eventually found a wonderful woman to marry, and as someone who had very close ties, tried to reconcile us. It ended with hurt feelings and her not showing up at our wedding. Again, a few years later, I tried to reach out, letting her know that she was going to be a Grandmother for the first time, and again promises weren’t kept, and we only had cursory contact a handful of times for the many years up until her death. I know that in her later years, she had cleaned up, remarried and saw the passing of her new husband and moved on, but apparently felt that I was part of a past she wanted nothing to be involved with. Her loss…

    I know that in my case, it was a void more than any deep feelings. Actually, it made me think of Diana in ‘A Chorus Line’ when she sings “…and I dug right down to the bottom of my soul... and cried…'Cause I felt... nothing”. The absence of something was the saddest thing I felt…

  4. Your story is very close to mine, though in my mother's case the problem was mental illness rather than alcoholism. She attracted alcoholics though, so I had my fill of experience with them, as well. The important lesson to learn from being dealt a hand like this is to not let a parent's impaired ability to love make us feel unloved or unloveable. I find I can still be attracted to that sort of negative, draining, abusive energy, and it is important to me, especially now, to cut it out of my life and accentuate the positive. I wish you well, jbeeching, in your own pursuit of happiness.

  5. I've always appreciated it when you've shared your stormy relationship with your mother in your VW editorials, Tim, and took inspiration from how you transcended it. My sincerest condolences, though; that had to be an existentially disquieting discovery, no matter the circumstances.

  6. Thank you, Bill. I tend not to write my editorials until they are absolutely needed, and then I promptly forget them, so I'm surprised to read that I've discussed my relationship with my mother in past editorials, much less classified it as stormy. Perhaps I did, I can't remember. The fact is, she had an uncanny way of making me feel that I didn't exist whenever she was in the same room. She gave birth to me, but it was other women who gave me life.

  7. Anonymous3:19 AM

    I don't suppose they uncovered the missing footage of "The Grim Reaper" episode of Thriller where he walks out of the painting.

  8. That story appears to be apocryphal... or if the effect elements ever were shot, they were judged to be unusable. We recorded our commentary while looking at a broadcast copy, since the remastering of the series is not yet completed.

  9. Anonymous2:33 PM

    I always wondered if that missing footage story was an urban legend, but I had always heard it was creepier without the footage anyway. About the remastering, it's hard to believe it could possibly look better then the laserdisc version. That will be something to see.

  10. Sam Juliano6:19 PM

    My deepest condolences Mr. Lucas. I lost my own mother five years ago, and the pain is still there.

    Well, I've waited many years for the THRILLER release, and as I'm now in my mid-50's I was beginning to think I'd never see it. I've bought maybe a dozen bootleg sets, the legit Universal LD set referred to here, and the VHS tapes. I have lived and breathed this series for more time than I want to talk about. But I must admit this is a time for celebration. THE INCREDIBLE DR. MARKESON, with its ghoulish conclusion and expressionistic direction, was my favorite on the LD set, and among the very best of the series along with PIGEONS FROM HELL, THE CHEATERS, THE WEIRD TAILOR, WELL OF DOOM, LA STREGA, THE HUNGRY GLASS and THE GRIM REAPER.


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