Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back in the Saddle

After a long interruption, and having completed all the work I need to do on VIDEO WATCHDOG 154 prior to Thanksgiving, I am back to working on my screenplay based on Orson Bean's book ME AND THE ORGONE. I had a wonderful day of getting reacquainted yesterday, adding 13 new pages, and today has already been important in other ways.

One of the reasons to write anything is arriving at that Moment of Truth when the work reveals why you were chosen, above all others, to write it. That sudden eyelock between the writer and the written in which the work communicates, on a level no one else will ever read, that it knows you far better than you know it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

First Look: VIDEO WATCHDOG #153

Another one's coming back from the printer any day now. Contents info here.

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 Ancestry.com 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.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Important Thing is to Promote

Fabio Testi in the clutches of Romy Schneider in L'IMPORTANT C'EST D'AIMER.

This link will direct you to my review of Andrzej Zulawski's L'IMPORTANT C'EST D'AIMER ("The Important Thing Is To Love"), a film from my personal Top Ten, which appears in the November 2009 issue of SIGHT & SOUND, now on newsstands.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coralina Art Exhibit Opens Tonight

Popular cult actress Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni is making a personal appearance tonight at the All Things Project Gallery on Bleecker Street in NYC this evening, from 7:00 to 9:00, as her new solo art exhibit "Untraceable Spaces" opens there. The show continues through November 28, so if you plan to be in the area, drop in and see what's still available for sale.

Filippo Brunamonti's biography of Coralina, written with the help of Coralina herself and featuring a tributary essay by Yours Truly, will be published before year's end.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Night in the Infernal Spotlight

Your faithful blogger poses outside the New Beverly Cinema with Irene Miracle and Keith Emerson, the respective star and composer of Dario Argento's INFERNO.
Photo (c) by Lee Christian. All other photos (c) by Tim Lucas.
Before the screening, a group of 22 attended a private dinner at India's Oven, a restaurant just a few doors down from the theater. Excellent food! Here Irene poses at table with her good friend of 30 years, VARIETY reporter and screenwriter F.X. Feeney.

DVD producer Perry Martin (who supervised my audio commentaries for Anchor Bay's MARIO BAVA COLLECTION sets) joined us for dinner with his charming wife Kelly Ann.

THE BOOK OF LISTS: HORROR author Scott Bradley generously hosted the dinner, much appreciated by all!

Irene poses with both sides of a special souvenir postcard that she produced as a giveaway item to all INFERNO attendees. Each card was personally autographed and promoted her recent directorial debut, DAWNLAND.

Author John Skipp (center) listens in as documentarian Howard S. Berger (right) invited Keith Emerson (left) to participate in his in-progress film about legendary music producer Joe Meek. In the background, Peter Avellino.

Your faithful blogger with his favorite Argento heroine.

The New Beverly marquee.

Irene basks in the opening night glory she missed in 1980, when INFERNO bypassed US theatrical release altogether.

Tim, Irene and Keith pose for more than a half-dozen photographers outside the theater following the screening.

And who should I discover standing outside in the fog but two of the event's front row attendees: FEAST director John Gulager and his legendary actor dad, Clu Gulager (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD)!

Allison "Nekromistress" Grace poses in the evening fog with her copy of an original vinyl pressing of Keith Emerson's INFERNO soundtrack, freshly signed by Keith and Irene!

Irene Miracle poses with a special "Three Mothers" bouquet gifted her by three friends Amy Wallace, Scott Bradley and Tim Lucas. The bouquet featured three of each flower.