Monday, November 29, 2010

New Artwork For The Man-Cave

My blog buddy Zach (Z is for Zombies and The Bloodsprayer), who I hope to meet in person one of these days, had a Twitter contest back in June, in which he would create original artwork based on anything contestants could think of. Three servings of Damnation (read the Booze Review here) in under a half-hour led to vision of a wrestling match between the Hard Rock Zombies and the band KISS with Jaws/Bruce as the referee and lumberjacks Ash, Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and Pinhead. It is a potential PPV match that would shatter the records of Wrestlemania 3 and Zach was creative enough to get it on paper. And very well done might I add. His idea was Robocop on a unicorn, which I would pay money to own one day, but he shelled this art out for me.

Watch this video and see the artwork for yourself. This was a very difficult piece to create and you can tell Zach out some serious elbow grease into this sucker. And make sure to hear some quick announcements before you go into vacation-mode.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and help celebrate National Man Cave Day

Before I dip out for the long weekend, I wanted to wish everyone a safe and Happy Turkey Gobblin' Day! I also wanted to tell you about Ron Thompson, a man from Allentown, PA who is starting something called a National Man Cave Day (NMCD). This has been receiving a great amount of coverage on my local news all day. And no, this day has no affiliation to this site or it would have been called National "Man-Cave" Day.

While all their wives and girlfriends are braving the doorbusters and large shopping crowds during Black Friday, men are encouraged to hang out in their man caves to watch movies, sports, play video games, or perform any other "man cave" activities during NMCD.

Hailing from the same state as yours truly, Thompson has even created a website that contains an official countdown, lots of videos and a detailed televised sports schedule for that day.

If you are interested, check out the official National Man Cave Day site here.

Have a great Thanksgiving holiday and make sure to check out my post-holiday weekend material, which will include an artwork reveal, a vlog entry, a review on the film In Memoriam, and more.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Concert Review: Roger Waters: The Wall 11/11/10

So ya, thought ya, might like to...go to the show.

Well I certainly did. I have never made it a secret how huge of a Pink Floyd fan I am, so once I found out that Roger Waters was coming back to Philly (I missed him due to illness in '07) to perform The Wall, I bought tickets as fast as my fingers could type the credit card number into the Wells Fargo Center's website. Now I have been to a lot of concerts in my life (yet only reviewed one so far, Safetysuit earlier this year) with some high budget effects, but let me tell you that NOTHING compared to the creative output of what I saw close to two weeks ago.

For the uninitiated, Roger Waters left Pink Floyd close to 20 years ago after drama between him and lead guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour. The band and Waters made an agreement that the band can play a few songs from The Wall, but Waters owns The Wall, as it is his opus. He has been playing live shows internationally for I don't know how long and now he is back on tour with a major spin on the show's original format.

Now on to the "show"...

A half-built wall surrounded each side of the stage with Waters and accompanying band members performing in the center. He took the stage to perform In the Flesh 1 which caused the crowd to erupt, but I knew that the audience was in for a real treat when an airplane flew down from the top of the arena and crashed into part of the standing Wall. And that is just how the show started!! From a special effects aspect, it only got better from there, if you can believe that.

As Waters continued to play the songs from the album in chronological order, the Wall started to be built brick by brick. There was a video monitor hanging high above center stage showing many images (my view of that was obstrcuted by the large center stage hanging speaker), while even more images were being projected onto the Wall driving home some relevant meaning to the songs' lyrics.

Early on, Waters treated the fans by playing Mother, while an old video of him playing the same song at a show in London played simultaneously on a video projection. Before he started the song, he jokingly stated, "Wish us both luck". When he sang the lyrics "Mother, should I trust the government?", the crowd yelled "NOOO!!". But a greater reaction ensued when the words "NO...FUCKING...WAY!!" spelled out on the Wall after the crowd's initial reaction. At this point, it was defeaning!

For Another Brick in the Wall, Waters was joined on a stage by a children's choir, who sang the appropriate sections of the song. It was great to hear the kids join him in song due to it being funny how this music continues to spread from generation to generation. A big highlight from this part of the show was the giant animatronic evil schoolteacher, who delivered abusive lines to the children, who in turn retaliated to beat him in the end.

Another use of political imagery transpired during the song Goodbye Blue Sky. An animated video began with bombers flying over a white-colored depiction of our planet. The bombers open their drop doors which were filled with religious icons as well as Shell and Mercedes insignias that dropped them onto various continents, making it all blood red. It is a shame how much innocent has been spread due to industry and non-acceptance of different religious views.

Empty Spaces played while the same video from the 1982 film projected on the video screen. This imagery is my favorite part of the film and I was totally shocked to hear What Do We Do Now? play immediately after. This is my second favorite song from The Wall, which unfortunately is not included on the original album.

By intermission, the Wall had been completely built thus completely blocking Waters from the audience. A three-dimensional image of wall bricks were projected onto the now-completed Wall, creating an illusion of a dirty brick wall for the half-hour break.

The second half of the show contained a heavier emphasis on the imagery used from the film projected onto the Wall, including the hammer marching sequence from Waiting for the Worms. That got the crowd going crazy!

The show's most powerful moment was definitely during Bring the Boys Back Home. That song is just as relevant and means as much now as it did for the originally intended WWII soldiers of Waters' past. It was also Veterans' Day and there was not a dry eye in the house as real images of soldiers coming back to embrace their children were played. Again, it was so powerful that I still feel the energy and drama of that moment as I type these lines.

What can I say about Comfortably Numb, except that it is one of my favorite songs and of course it was such an awesome experience to hear it live again (heard it live at Pink Floyd shows in '04 and '05). Sorely missed was David Gilmour's vocals and guitar work during the song's long solo, but the replacement guitarist did Gilmour right. Again, it wasn't Dave but it is what he have to settle for due to the band's divorce. It was also a bit odd to see Waters dancing around during this part and playing air guitar for the solo.

The courtroom/trial scene from the film played during the song Trial. Not only was that entertaining in and of itself but the new 3D effects used during the "Crazy" lyrics literally blew my mind and made me feel like I was on another planet. I don't really know how to describe it except for that the visuals were unreal. And I swear I only had two beers all night.

As usual with all of his live Wall performances in the past, the show ended with the "judge's" verdict to "tear down the wall". The Wall exploded, bricks flew everywhere and Waters received a well-deserved standing ovation for over 5 minutes.

I need to mention that the only drawback and disappointment of the show was Dave Gilmour being M.I.A. There were strong rumors flying around since I bought the tickets in May that Gilmour was going to show up at either one of the New York or Philadelphia shows. I went to the last show in Philly and figured he would show up since he did not at the previous NY or Philly performances. Of course I was bummed because I would do anything to see them perform live on stage together, especially The Wall. The vocalist who imitated Gilmour was very good, but nothing can beat the original.

But I don't want to end things on a down note because the show's quality was amazing. One thing that I want to touch is my appreciation of the use of footage from the film. I know that Waters and director Alan Parker clashed many times during the film's production and that he has openly displayed his somewhat displeasure with the end product, but I, as well as Floyd fans and film enthusiasts in general, absolutely adore the movie and think that it matches the tone of the album perfectly. So to see him embrace the high points of the film and implement them into this show was nirvana.

In an age where youngins like Lady Gaga (no offense to her is intended here) put on high tech, mega budget shows filled with stage effects and animatronics, Roger Waters surpasses them all with his new Wall tour. He created a show based on an album recorded 30 years ago and took it to a whole new level with a technological 3D concept that I think more performers are going to borrow in the near future. The videos in this post, taken from with my still camera, don't really do the visualizations of the show any justice, but trust me when I tell you how cool they appear in person.

If you are a fan of Roger Waters and/or Pink Floyd, you absoutely MUST see this show. Heck, even if you have never been initiated into the Pink Floyd universe or have never heard one song off The Wall, I implore you to see this show before Waters calls it quits for good. Believe me that you have never and will never see a show like this again.

Photos courtesy of ; No copyright infringement is intended with the display of minimal second clips...I'm just a mega fan.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interview with Josh Grote, star of Die-ner (Get It?)

It seems like it is Die-ner (Get It?) week at The Man-Cave. But if you read yesterday's post, you know that I loved this little indie zom-com and contacted both the director and lead actor Josh Grote for interviews that I saved for this site's relaunch.

Now the thing about Josh, besides being an another talent from my home state which I had no idea about until this interview, is that this is his first lead acting gig and one of the reasons that this film works on so many levels. He plays Ken, who is not your stereotypical sociopath. He starts out as the villain and then he, well he stays the villain, but one you can't help but root for throughout the film.

I was amazed by Josh's acting skill, so I was really surprised to learn how and why Josh landed the role in the first place since he originally pursued screenwriting. And the fact that he worked on The Apprentice some time back! It was also a good thing that he appreciates the vocal chord comparison to Ed Norton because even though I mentioned that he was not physically intimdating in his role as Ken, I'm sure he can probably whoop my ass. Glad I'm on his good side.

After this brief introduction, let's learn more about Josh Grote.

The Man-Cave (TMC):
Considering that Die-ner (Get It?) is listed as your first acting credit, how exactly did you land the lead role?

Josh Grote (JG):
It's funny because I moved to Los Angeles with zero acting ambition. My goal was/is to become a screenwriter, and at the time (March 2008) I was laid off from my job and had plenty of time to kill, so was spending my days on Craigslist, looking for screenwriting gigs. Long story short, that's when I saw the ad for Die-ner and thought, "Well, that sounds like fun." So I contacted the people in charge of casting, was sent my lines and spent the next few hours memorizing them as best I could before heading off to the audition. After that, I guess I just lucked out.

I read that you were a production assistant on NBC'S The Apprentice. Any interesting stories from that show? Does The Donald's dead badger hair look as ridiculous in real life as it does on television?

Looking back, the funniest thing about The Apprentice was how excited I was just to get the job. I'm from a small town about forty miles south of Pittsburgh, and I remember freaking out after I was hired. It was like, "I've made it! Just give me a few months and I'll be writing Jurassic Park 4!" Obviously, it didn't (and never) works out that way, but what did I know? I mean seriously, I've been out here for just shy of five years and still have no idea how it's done.

In terms of Donald, you very rarely saw him. He'd show up once every four days or so, tell someone they're fired and that would be it. There was one time, though, when we were shooting at a newspaper printing factory that I turned a corner and literally bumped into him. He apologized and I apologized and that was that. I'll never forget he apologized first, though. I thought that was a nice gesture. As for his hair, I guess I should have seen it coming.

Are you a big horror genre fan? Favorite film of that genre?

I'm a fan of pretty much every genre, but what really gets me going is Sci-fi. I suppose that's why if I had to name my favorite horror film, it would be a tie between crossovers like Alien and John Carpenter's The Thing.

What was your first reaction to the script and the sociopathic role of Ken?

To be honest, I was so thrilled to have a part in a feature-length movie that I don't even know if I had a reaction to the role, at least at first. I just thought it was awesome and wanted to make sure I did everything I could not to screw it up. Upon the second and third read, though, I became very impressed with the economy of Patrick's [Horvath] writing and how he was able to paint a picture of exactly who this guy was with just a line or two of description. But in the end, it was just cool to know I'd be playing a serial killer.

In my review of the film on The Man-Cave in September, I stated that your voice sounds exactly like Ed Norton, which is a compliment. Has anyone told you that before? I'm thinking of hiring you for some prank calls.

You know, ever since Primal Fear was released (and especially American History X), countless people have told me that "Oh, my look like the white supremacist from that X-rated movie!" But until Die-ner came out, I've never heard that I actually sound like him, too. So yeah, I'm not sure if it's actually true or people just see my face and associate his voice. Either way, does he have a movie coming up where they need someone to play his little brother?

Well I enjoy his thespian talents, but I heard he's difficult to work with, Josh. You might want to stay clear. But I'm not one to gossip, so you didn't hear that from me. If I were you, i'd get in contact with the creators of the upcoming New Avengers flick since he does not want to be a part of it. You have my vote as Banner.

Ok back to being serious...any interesting stories you would like to discuss from the set?

Since I have absolutely no training as an actor, I had no idea how to simply switch my character on and off in-between takes. That's what impresses me about people like Liesel, Parker, Maria and everyone else involved with Die-ner. They can totally become someone else the moment "Action!" is called, and then after "Cut!" go right back to being themselves. For me, the only way I could keep things straight was to become Ken at the beginning of production and try to stay in that mindset for the duration of shooting. Because of that, I pretty much kept to myself when I wasn't needed so that I could focus on whatever scene was coming next.

Ken is a character that the audience should despise but your portrayal made him out to be the driving force of this film. Did you use any other actors/characters to help mold the character of Ken?

I don't know if I used any pre-existing characters to mold Ken, but knowing that actors out there like Daniel-Day Lewis or Klaus Kinski weren't afraid to stay in crazy-land for the duration of their productions (although I suppose it's debatable as to whether or not Kinski ever left crazy-land once he stepped foot inside), it made me feel less self-conscious or silly or whatever you want to call it for trying to do things the same way.

You and the other two leads (Liesel Kopp and Parker Quinn) have great chemistry and stage some really hilarious scenes. Was this chemistry just a natural occurrence or did you spend a lot of time getting to know each other before the shoot?

Luckily, the chemistry must have been a natural occurrence, because other than a quick meeting where we all had the chance to say hello to one another and read over the script, we only rehearsed as a group twice.

Do you personally have a rope and duct tape bag?Your reaction in the film flowed rather believably.

I'm confused. Doesn't everybody?

Well I certainly do now, haha. What is in the pipeline for you right now? Any upcoming projects you would like to promote?

I'm not sure about when it'll be available for a wider audience, but Liesel Kopp and I had roles in another horror feature called Entrance from the makers of Die-ner (Patrick Horvath and Dallas Hallam), and in the next few months Patrick and I will begin working on another project together...but you'll have to ask him for the details!

I'd like to thank Josh for his time to hang out in The Man-Cave for an interview and for having a great sense of humor. Keep an eye out for him and his upcoming projects because if his presence in Die-ner is any indication, Josh has a great career in front of the camera ahead of him.

Die-ner (Get It?) is available from Osirius Entertainment and Amazon.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Interview with Die-ner (Get it?) director Patrick Horvath

Recently, I reviewed a fun little indie zom-com (zombie comedy) called Die-ner (Get It?) on the old site if you remember. If not, please read it here. This film totally took me by surprise based on the fact that the punny title was a huge turn-off from the get go. Fortunately, that was the worst thing about this film and I have actually grown to accept it over time. I enjoyed the film so much that I contacted director Patrick Horvath and actor Josh Grote for interviews to use, but held off until the relaunch to post them.

Without further ado, my interview with director Patrick Horvath.

The Man-Cave (TMC): How did you get into filmmaking?

Patrick Horvath (PH):
When I went into college, I jumped into it knowing that I wanted to make movies. So fast-forward four years... I found myself with a film degree from the University of Iowa, a couple of short films under my belt and a job at a video store in Chicago. I spent the better part of three years playing the "what now?" game and I continued to just consume a ton of films. I wrote a lot of screenplays that I tried to show around and realized after a while that Chicago wasn't the best place for me at the time.

I reached a point where I needed to just DO something if I was ever going to get the ball rolling, so I bought a couple of spring-wound Bolex cameras off of Ebay and shot my first little feature project that I wrote and directed. I paid for the whole thing using credit cards and learned all sorts things about filmmaking in the process... Namely, that I wanted to do more.

After I finished up that first project I made my way over to Los Angeles where some of my gracious friends offered me a couch to crash on for however long I needed to get on my feet. It was on my first job out in L.A. where I met Seth Martin who would later be the producer for Die-ner (Get It?). A couple years after we first met, we got to talking about a short that I had written and the possibility of stretching it out to a feature that I would write and direct and voilĂ .

TMC: Any projects you directed/wrote before Die-ner?

PH: The first project that I wrote and directed was a feature in Chicago called 100 Years From Now and I still haven't been able to get it out in the world as much as I'd like to. It's still coming though, I swear. The story follows a slacker-fellow who realizes a little late in the game that everyone else on Earth has bailed and gone on to another planet. Since he didn't really have any friends or family he realizes on his own that he's been left with the whole world to do whatever he pleases... Which isn't much. He makes due with an imaginary girlfriend, who's generally dissatisfied with him, and he finds that the Earth is slowly being populated by these aloof demons. The project turned out pretty great and I'm hoping to have it out in the world soon.

TMC: The opening scene of Die-ner (Get It?) was a great homage to Tarantino's works and I see his influence floating around this entire picture. What other director(s) is your biggest influence?

PH: The Tarantino comparison has been pretty amusing to me because it's popped up a lot with Die-ner, but to be honest it wasn't something I was aiming for. When I started reading that, I thought about the opening sequence and, yeah, it's pretty similar to that first Marsellus Wallace scene in Pulp Fiction. When I wrote that first scene, I just never wanted to show Ken's face because if you're not seeing the reverse shot of a conversation then the whole thing becomes unsettling.

That all being said, I love movies, A LOT, and one of the side-effects is that all these things are just seeping into your brain and manifesting themselves whether you're aware of it or not. If you're lucky, you can recognize and do something interesting with it.

In terms of directors who are my biggest influence: well, I suppose if I could make a movie that was equal parts Ingmar Bergman and early John Carpenter I'd be a happy man.

TMC: What gave you the idea to have a zombie film in a diner of all places?

PH: The idea to set it in a diner was pretty much the main seed of the short that I'd written. The directive was to have a horror story that was contained in some sort of roadside stopping point. The idea of having it be zombies was my de-facto horror element that I figured I'd have the most to play with. You've got a lot of room when it comes to figuring out how you can represent them on a tiny budget and to be honest they're the metaphorical gift that keeps on givin'.

TMC: Let's talk horror flicks for a second. What is your all-time favorite and least favorite zombie film?

PH: Hmmm... That's a tough question. I'd probably say that my all-time favorite hovers somewhere around Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead (although I don't know if you'd qualify that as ghost-zombies or what?), Michele Soavi's Cemetery Man, or Romero's Dawn of the Dead. My least favorite could possibly be Uwe Boll's House of the Dead, but it's bad in an incredibly fascinating way.

TMC: Great picks. And I agree about House of the Dead. Anyone who states that is a good film is obviously a crew member or one of Bolle's relatives.

I read the film was shot in 8 nights. What was the biggest obstacle you had to tackle besides time management?

PH: The film was technically shot in 9 nights, not that one more night gave us a lot of breathing room. I'd say the hardest thing to pushing something through that quickly is keeping your focus on the through-line of the whole film, and keeping the big picture in view. The whole script was of course chopped up based on when we could shoot in which rooms of the diner depending on sunrise and sunset, and you're always double checking everything: props, making sure the proper tone is there for the scene at hand, etc. It wouldn't have been possible if we didn't have the great crew that we did and the excellent cast.

TMC: What was the budget on this film?

PH: The budget was pretty minimal, but I couldn't tell you what it was exactly.

TMC: Any weird/funny stories on the set that you would like to share?

PH: My favorite story during production happened on the last night of shooting. We were primarily shooting all exteriors that involved the semi-truck and it was a whole process of getting the rented truck and driver situated for camera. We shot out a couple of scenes and were getting ready to move on to some interior truck-cab shots. I jumped up into the driver seat and started to go through the blocking with our D.P. Jon Rigattieri. As I was talking to everyone who was standing below me, I thought I noticed something move inside the truck. I looked behind me and just noticed a pile of blankets in the back seat of the cab. I tried to continue and thought I saw something again. Upon looking down behind the seat, I saw a hand poking out from under the blanket. The hand moved a little bit so I took my cue and climbed out. Apparently our truck driver insisted that he'd like to sleep in the cab throughout the shoot. So yeah, every shot of Josh or Parker where they're doing a scene inside the cab, there's a sleeping driver directly behind them.

TMC: What made you switch gears to full-blown horror for the last third of the final act?

PH: It made sense to me to have Ken's problem multiply exponentially by the time we get to the end. Also, if I was going to do a zombie film there were a couple things I wanted to check off my list: specifically a fella walking around carrying his own head and somebody getting torn apart. The fact that the dude gets to scream, "I regret nothing!" while getting torn apart was a feather in my cap.

TMC: That was a great line and I loved the way Josh delivered it. What was behind the dream sequences? It seemed like it was going to mention how Ken became a killer, but it was left open-ended. Was that open-ended intentional or did it just fly over my head?

PH: The open-ended quality was definitely intentional. I thought it would be interesting to have Ken's mind continually reverting to this un-ending loop of an impossible game of hide-and-seek with a mother-figure every time he was knocked unconscious. I specifically didn't want it to explain anything overtly because that's usually what everyone expects to see and it's something that I don't really think you can explain in a moment. What makes a sociopath a sociopath is a great question, but I think that it has to do with something hardwired in the brain versus something experiential.

TMC: What is in the pipeline for you right now? Any upcoming projects you would like to promote?

PH: The Assistant Director from Die-ner, Dallas Hallam, and I have just finished co-writing and co-directing another feature titled Entrance. We're getting ready to put it out into the festival circuit and hopefully we'll be making the rounds soon. It's a character piece thriller that's in a much different direction than Die-ner and we're pretty psyched about how it's turned out. There's also a webisode series that I'm doing with Shot In the Dark Productions that we're getting ready to ramp up. It's a sort of take on Sisyphus that's based on a recon-squad in late-60's Vietnam. It should be coming out towards the end of this year, it's a comedy and it's called Hell Parade.

TMC: Should we hold our breaths for a Die-ner sequel? Is one planned?

PH: Hmmm... Well don't hold your breath. We definitely didn't plan on doing a sequel to Die-ner, but I'm finding it pays to never say "never." If the bag-o-money police showed up at my door tomorrow demanding to pay me for a new chapter then, brother, I'd probably say "yes."

I want to thank Patrick for taking his time for this interview and I really hope to see his upcoming projects get released soon. Especially 100 Year From Now. Again, if you have not seen this film and want to watch a flick that has an original and unique spin on the zombie genre, please see Die-ner (Get It?) as soon as you can.

Die-ner (Get It?) is available from Osirius Entertainment and Amazon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Man-Cave Makeover: Thank You

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the many friends who helped promote my new site relaunch and makeover. My appreciation goes out to the following, in chronological order:

- The many of you who used your valuable time to visit The Man-Cave last week in order to check it out, follow and comment during my launch week. You guys rule the world, just like Tears for Fears has always predicted.

- Allison from Allison-Writes, who believes my relaunch as the prelude to creating an empire...of one. If you are aren't following Allison, please check out her site. A very talented writer, friend and long time supporter of the artist formerly known as Enter The Man-Cave.

- Powdered Toast Man, of the funniest blog you might not be reading, Just the Cheese. One day will drink an enormous amount of beer together! One day!! He promoted my makeover during the Monday Minute, which is like promoting a Div II football team during the NCAA National Championship parade. So danke, my friend.

- Kristy Jett of the many, many, many accomplishments reeking of awesomeness, including the Bloodsprayer. Most of you who are reading this know who the QoA is and if not, shame on you. Her Facebook pimping of the new Man-Cave is what legends are made of. Sign her petition to get the film Popcorn released on DVD. MAKE IT HAPPEN!

- Cortez the Killer of Planet of Terror, who used my relaunch to headline his News You Can Use feature. This was quite a compliment considering that there were also other bullet points of exciting news from other great writers this week. He also dropped the first comment on the new blog, thus achieving another milestone in his illustrious career.

- The previously mentioned Strange Kid and Reverend Phantom for the creative side of this site's new look and feel.

- The Wall Street Journal for their article on "Man Cave" makeovers. Actually, screw them for taking the shine off my big week to write an article on other man caves and not even mentioning me in the process. Shouldn't they be talking about the stock market and bonds and stuff?! Jay Ryan of the Sexy Armpit and John Squires from Freddy in Space brought it to my attention. John even sent me the headline...

They forgot the dash between Man and Cave. How dare they!

- Speaking of Mr. Boots, thanks for his shoutout after I posted a belated mock interview with us at Monster-Mania back in August, that is also available on my Youtube channel. Check it out if you haven't yet. And of course go to Freddy in Space, which I am sure you all already have by now.

Once again, thanks for the promotion, support and feedback from everyone. Keep on rocking on and check back for more awesomeness to come. If you haven't yet, please join The Man-Cave on Facebook and subscribe to The Man-Cave on Youtube.
Did you promote me and I missed you? Call me out on it so I can include you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Man-Cave Live Interview with Freddy in Space's John Squires

Last summer I purchased I HD video camera in hopes of doing vlogs and interviews for this site. My learning curve decreased when I went down with an eye injury for over a month and could not really learn the ins-and-outs of my camera before last August's Monster-Mania, where I intended to conduct a lot of interviews. I posted my first interview with the Queen of Awesome Kristy Jett in September which was a fairly easy initial editing project because it was done in one shot. However, the one I had with Mr. Freddy in Space's John Squires took me a little longer because in all honesty, the lighting and sound is not great. I had yet to master my camera and learn its advantages and disadvantages. That and we all had been partying pretty hard that day too, so that didn't help things.

After trying to raise the audio for each clip without causing over-modulation and trying to brighten the screen shots, I figured "F*** it". I am not trying to make a motion picture here. This is an interview with a friend, talented writer and willing participant Johnny Boots. And we, along with John's wonderful girlfriend Jen and the hilarious Dan, had a helluva lot of fun doing. Hopefully you will like it as much. I have so much unused footage that I can even make a whole other interview if I wanted to, but we'll see.

The idea was to be a very low budget knock-off of Inside The Actor's Studio with low, soft lighting and me repeating the tail end of most of the guest's sentences. I even really made it trashy by wearing a bright green Barnaby's Bar t-shirt. And we were going to drink beer on camera. Lots of beer. The end result is The Man-Cave meets Freddy in Space, all made for the enjoyment of my loyal readers.

Without further ado, please watch this video from The Man-Cave's youtube channel. An interview with John Squires aka the badass mofo from Freddy in Space!

Disclaimer: TURN YOUR SPEAKERS WAY UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks again to John, Jen and Dan for their participation and to you all for watching. And make sure to check out Freddy in Space.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Enter The Dark - short film review (2010)

- Me after the conclusion of Enter The Dark

With all the
Paranormal Activities floating around the megaplexes and the Ghost Hunters crew dominating cable TV over the last few years, why would any independent filmmaker even try to complete with the big boys in the ghost story arena? A better question is what could an independent film maker do to separate himself from the rest of the pack with a smaller budget than his or her competitors? And how can someone accomplish that without being a cheap, total knockoff like Paranormal Entity?

Filmmaker Todd Miro answered that question with his short film, Enter The Dark.

Charles and his family are having a little problem with their home, but it's not high levels of radon or cracked heating pipes. You see, Charles believes his house is being occupied by some unearthly forces and he wants to rid them from his residence once and for all. After recording what seems to be one of his unwelcome ghostly house crashers, Charles recruits his buddy Rob to assist him on getting them out of the house so he can get on with his life.

On the flipside, Rob is really worried about Charles and his sanity. He offers to help his friend in a time of need, but he isn't buying Charles' ghost story and blames these apparition abnormalities on stress and other underlying factors. Rob is willing to do whatever he can to be real friend to his buddy even if it means running around the house in the dark for two hours before going out to ingest some alcohol at a local bar.

Is Charles really going mental or should Rob have gone out for those drinks before entering neck deep into a night of terror? You are going to have to watch it for yourself to find out.

At only a little over 15 minutes, it is hard to detail the story without giving away the whole film. What I will tell you is that while the plot might seem a little too familiar on the surface, the audience learns that this little flick is anything but formulaic
once things get going.

I will say, and I am man enough to miss this embarrassment, that the ending not only made me let out a little yell (see my quote at the top of this review), but also do jump up in my seat. And I am honestly admitting my reaction as a credit to Mr. Miro's film making. I do not scare easily, so after a night of being bored out of my mind by Paranormal Activity 2, Miro provided me with something that I crave as a horror fan. A legitimate scare. And he accomplished that with his short film that has a running time three-fourths less than the aforementioned record-breaking film and shot for a heck of a lot less money to boot, which includes marketing and advertising.

I have said enough and refuse to spoil anything for potential viewers who wish to Enter the Dark. You can watch this film in the time it takes to eat your lunch and it still delivers a massive impact. Not only will you get a nice scare or two, but the film will have you walking away from it feeling a bit uneasy.

If I have to talk about any negatives, I wish it could be have been longer and actor Rob Sandusky was a bit irritating as Rob. However, the length is probably due to budgetary limitations and I am guessing that Rob's character was written to be that way for a reason. So in my finding any fault with this film, I really have to stretch as you can see. But the positives can be summed up by what Miro promises on the film's website in one sentence - it is scary.

Enter The Dark
is now available to watch via Indie Flix. So you can go check it out in a matter of minutes after reading this review. For more information, check out the film's official website. Please go check this out to give yourself a post-Halloween treat.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saw 3D (2010): New Look, Same Act

Saw franchise hops aboard the 3D train with the seventh installment for the series' supposed final chapter.

Picking up right after last year's Saw VI, Detective Hoffman escapes his jaw trap and pursues Jigsaw's widow Jill to avenge the thwarted attempt on his life. Meanwhile, one of Jigsaw's survivors details his story in a S.U.R.V.I.V.E. self-help book to rake in some cash. Unfortunately for him, he lied about the whole experience and now has to play one of Jigsaw's game to prove that he can truly practice what he preaches.

No this is not one of the launch scenes from the Buck Rogers series

Once again Jigsaw tackles a real life villain in our society. In
VI, Jigsaw used the game to target the health insurance companies, while this year's focus turns to shady life coach gurus. These are scam artists who prey on the desperate for their hard-earned cash in returns for books and "systems" that offer an empty promise of healing and life improvement.

At this point, what is there left to say? The lying self-help novelist Bobby Dagen, played by Boondocks Saints' Sean Patrick Flannery, does the rinse-wash-repeat sequence that every other sequel has executed. Dagen must now complete tasks in order to save his publicity team who are accomplices aware of his scam as well as his poor wife, played by Gina Holden of Harper's Island, who truly believes Dagen faux survival tale.

Then we follow the continuing the "John/Detective Hoffman/Jill" plot line, which leads me to believe that Costas Mandylor, returning once again as Hoffman, has either truly sold his soul to the devil or is sleeping with one of the executive producers. These could be the only reasons that the underwhelming has-been actor is free to run around for yet another sequel in such a dominant role.

How and why is he STILL around?!

We are also treated to the return of Dr. Lawrence Gordon with Cary Elwes reprising his role. His cameo seems to spawn from fans' persistence pleas to the producers to bring him back due to the fact that we never saw his dead body after the conclusion of the original. Gordon is involved with Dagen's therapy group consisting of Jigsaw survivors that he also uses to generate more revenue from his S.U.R.V.I.V.E. scam system.

I would not say that I didn't like it because it is what it is, a Saw sequel in 3D. Didn't love it and didn't hate it. It just seems a little tired at this point. Sure there are the Saw film's unique traps, twists and gore, but don't expect anything Earth-shattering or truly shocking.

I just hope 3D truly is the end because at this point, the sequels just seem to be the same film with a different underlying storyline. Even though it is a fun film that should be seen at the cinema to take advantage of the 3D, the formula is stale.

Is this truly the end? Are they being serious this time?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Enter the NEW Man-Cave!! Now in 3D!!

The relaunch is upon us! Welcome to The Man-Cave!!

It's been a long time in the works, but finally the Man-Cave has received a much needed makeover. Thanks to two extremely talented and creative friends: Reverend Phantom who helped me during the early stages of development, and Strange Kid over at the Strange Kids Club, who developed the final end product you are reading this on now. Thanks to you guys for helping me realize my vision.

What does this "relaunch" mean? Don't worry. Awesomeness will still be pumping in the site's veins, but there are going to be some much needed changes.

First of all, the "Enter" in the title is adios. From this day forward, this site is now simply "The Man-Cave", just like the url.

More importantly, the content (like the film reviews, beer reviews and all the usual ETMC banter) is going to remain the same, but the topics are going to be optimized. Expect more vlogs, interviews with indie film-makers and some other surprises I have in store down the road.

So to my loyal readers, thanks as always for your support. You all make this worthwhile. And thanks to the newcomers who are stopping by to check out my new digs. Feel free to check out The Cave while you're here and hope to see you all back soon.

Make sure to check out Strange Kids Club and Reverend Phantom if you have not visited their sites already.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Enter the DVD Giveaway at ILHM!

My buddy Carl over at the ever so kickass I Like Horror Movies, or ILHM as us cool kids like to call it, will be giving away one copy of the recently re-released Park Chan-Wook's ground-breaking Horror series The Vengeance Trilogy on DVD and Blu-Ray for free to one lucky winner, courtesy of Palisades/Tartan home video, the leader in Asia Extreme Horror!

Click on the link below to get started...

So head over to the giveaway before time runs out and trust me when I say the deadline is near. This Monday to be exact.

I.C.U. (2009)...and I wish I didn't

is an Australian horror/thriller import focusing on voyeurism and murder seen from the perspective of personal hand-held and closed-circuit security cameras. The film's description sounded so promising but it never comes close to meeting the premise's potential.

The children of a recently divorced cop and their friend spy, or snoop, on residents of an adjoining high rise complex using binoculars and a video camera. Soon the innocence of spying on beautiful, half naked women turns deadly when they view what appears to be a woman's murder. They inform their father, who in turn confronts the would-be suspect, but somehow he is able to prove his innocence. Then the killer flips the script by spying back on the teens and make them his next targets.

More than 85% of the film is made up of useless diatribe between the teens inter-cut with brief torture and murder scenes from the mysterious killer. And that is a major problem with this film. The failure of a legitimate creepiness factor or sense of fear. The film is slowly paced, using a whole lot of nothing to get to the meat and potatoes.

Besides the aforementioned quick vignettes of people getting abused and slaughtered, nothing of significance to the story actually happens until it's almost over. We are given a subplot involving the emotional strain between the kids' separated mother and father, with the father established as a hard ass who does not really have the best relationship with them. For a thriller or even horror film, the scares are never there and the film becomes a clock watching exercise as you try to get through it.

The coup de grace is the twist ending, which is too coincidental to be considered believable even for this film, that ultimately falls flat. Then the audience is delivered a double twist to the ending which is absolutely even more absurd and laughable than the original twist. It doesn't even benefit from the Usual Suspect-type montage showing the audience clues (that are completely forced) to why the film ends the way it does therefore making the last two minutes groan-worthy.

One final issue is the soundtrack, which is a cross between industrial music and the Chemical Brothers circa 1996. Maybe it is a cultural thing, but the music makes you think that you time-traveled back to the last decade when this type of music is blaring through nauseating first person scenes. That being said, the techno-driven music sounds like it would fit better into a flick like Run Lola Run as opposed to this type of film. The music builds too much energy instead of building tension. And tension is sorely missed as I.C.U. is about as terrifying and suspenseful as an episode of Mad TV.

As previously stated, this film had an interesting premise that failed to deliver. There's too much pointless babble that feels like over 45 minutes of filler, there are not enough murders, the music has too much octane to build any type of suspense, the camerawork is beyond unwatchable even for a first-person perspective feature, and the double twist ending is silly. The only positive factor is the casting choices. The performances are quite good, even from the younger and inexperienced cast members. Female lead Margot Robbins is major eye candy and a cameo by director Aash Aaron is very well done. Unfortunately, the acting is the only diamond in the rough.

Not recommended even if you catch it on cable. Nothing is more painful than trashing a low budget film, but it can't be helped when the execution is disjointed and the film itself is simply bad. Nothing to see here...move along I.C.U., but I wish I didn't.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bring It All Home With CSN Stores

Literally you can bring anything and everything home from the online CSN Stores, including barstools (because you know how beer, barstools and The Man-Cave go hand-in-hand),

mounted wall speakers so you can optimize your entertainment experience,

something I have been desperately needing for a long time - a mobile laptop table with plenty of room to hold my laptop and beer or Dr. Pepper (depending on the time of day, of course),

and even exercise equipment, so you can work on your fitness without a witness, unlike Fergie.

CSN Stores literally sell everything you can think of! They even have DVDs, shoes and tools too. The bigger question to ask is what don't they have. In fact, if you look hard enough you'll probably find me for sale on there somewhere. I'm in the bargain bin section in case you are interested.

But seriously, if you have not perused the many items, all of which are surprisingly very affordable considering the quality of the products, check out the CSN stores today. I am glad to find one-stop place for all my needs without having to bust my wallet. Hope you appreciate the heads up on CSN Stores from me as I did from my friends who alerted me of their existence. Now I have to go to buy that laptop table so ETMC can stay mobile.

Happy shopping, peeps!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Highlander 2 Syndrome Rant Reviews Continue with Highlander 3: The Final Dimension

Last week, I wrote about a rant review on Highlander 2: The Quickening. This film is so god awful that it caused me to invent a a term: The Highlander 2 Syndrome. This term goes out to all horrible sequels that are dead to me and I pretend they never existed. So what better way to follow up this theme than with the next installment of the Highlander franchise, Highlander: The Final Dimension.

Anytime Mario Van Peebles is involved in a project you know you are going to be watching some real cinematic feces. Combine Mario's acting with a Highlander sequel and you have a full-out colon blow! Now onto the premise...

The first signs of trouble: Mario and his gnarly ass tattoo

Completely disregarding any and all references to The Quickening (thank all that is holy!), The Final Dimension takes place a few years later after the original. Now the father of a young boy, Connor MacLeod (played once again by Christopher Lambert) does not understand why he is still immortal and feels that nothing is physically different with his body since taking down the Kurgan. To explain this reason, we get a flashback.

When Connor was younger, he trained with an immortal master of illusion and magician named Nakano after Ramirez's demise. One night, an immortal barbarian named Kane (Peebles not the pro wrestler unfortunately) busts into Nakano's cave, takes his head and the forthcoming quickening causes the cave to collapse and bury him. Of course MacLeod thinks he was dead all these years until an seismic incident frees Kane from his tomb, who then heads off to find MacLeod in a final battle of immortals. MacLeod's new love interest Alex, played by the then sexy Deborah Kara Unger coming off her role in the mainstream hit Whispers in the Dark, and his son are now Kane's targets of torture and revenge for leaving him buried alive all these years.

Making matters worse for MacLeod is even though he has a major strength advantage after taking Kurgan's lifeforce, Kane is more crude then Kurgan, if that's even possible, but also a formidable opponent due to the fact that Kane now has the power of illusion transferred to him from his quickening received after killing Nakano all those years ago. This definitely plays into Kane's advantage.

Connor never made it to the "head" of Nakano's class - har har!

MacLeod and Kane finally go head-to-head, pun intended, which ends in MacLeod taking Kane's head. Finally MacLeod has truly won the Prize and lives happily ever after with his new hottie and also his young son. The film ends with MacLeod visiting his long dead women's grave in the Highlands of Scotland as Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever" plays on the soundtrack in one of many nods to the original.

This film is still in sharply etched in the soul of the original, but the problem is that it still severely downplays the final battle with Kurgan, like The Quickening. The bigger issue is that while it tries to capture the feel of the original as an apology to fans for Highlander 2, it also comes off as a remake of sorts. Kane is very much a Kurgan-lite and many scenes are plucked from the original, i.e. Kane driving at top speed with music blaring to scare MacLeod's young ala Kurgan perfoming the same act with Roxanne Hart's character.

Look familiar? No I'm talking about Mario kidnapping a child.

Of all the Highlander sequels, this one gets a slight (and I mean slight) pass from me, but I still discount it from the Highlander universe. MacLeod kills Kurgan and ends "The Game"...and that is that. Story over. And I still don't understand why is it called The Final Dimension? What dimension? The film takes place in parallel storyline to the original. Maybe The Final Battle (sorry V) would have been more appropo?

While it is an improvement on The Quickening, which is very easy to do, I want to mention again that the film plays out like a remake instead of an apology and therefore is a totally unnecessary sequel.

And did I mention it has Mario Van Peebles stars in a major role? Oh I did? Mario Van Peebles and Highlander should never be mentioned in the same sentence, unless that sentence is "at least Mario Van Peebles has nothing to do with the Highlander films". Well there's the final piece of important evidence in my case for tagging it with The Highlander 2 Syndrome and striking it from my mind.

Blonde or brunette, Unger is by far the sexiest MacLeod girl

If I have to give some positive factoids about The Final Dimension, I do like where the creators added on to the Highlander mythos with successful results. First, I like the fact that an immortal can acquire the talents of another immortal once they take their head. This allows Kane to participate on an equal playing ground with Connor. Also, I am pleased to learn what happens if you cut a body part off an immortal besides his head. They simply reform back together again. It echoes Ramirez's words "You can never die...unless you lose your head" and makes total sense. But the best addition to the mythos is the answer to the question of what happens when the main commandment of immortals not allowed to fight on holy ground is broken. Well who is to stop that from happening? In my favorite scene from the film, Kane does not abide by this rule and forces Connor to scrap with him in a church. When their blades finally connect, both their blades shatter into particles. It comes across as a warning from the "powers that be" to basically "knock it off" so to speak before something worse happens to them.

Unfortunately the Final Dimension was not the "Final" Highlander sequel as things get even worse with Highlander: Endgame, a game that should never been played in the first place. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Man-Cave in Boston: Has it Been a Week Already?

Recently I have been withholding some personal stories off my site unless they bear some kind of interest to my readers, so I thought I would tell you all about my trip to Beantown. Last week, I was in Boston for an industry trade show, running the show with an awesome co-worker/friend, which was a treat within itself. But the highlight of the busy week had to be finally meeting The Darkness Within director Dom Portalla in the flesh, whom I will now refer to as "friend" Dom Portalla.

I have been to Boston so many times since 2004 and I can honestly say that I have never spent a bad day in the city. But nothing will take the cake (what does that expression even mean?) as what went down on when I met up with Dom Portalla. Dom and I have been in contact with each other since he sent me a screener for Dom's latest feature The Darkness Within (thanks to my boy Cortez the Killer over at Planet of Terror). And all of you loyal followers know the rest - I loved the film, reviewed it, interviewed Dom, did a giveaway, and have been promoting the film like I have stock in it. So it seemed like a good idea to shoot over a message when I landed in his city to potentially hang out.

We met up the night before and threw some brew back at Cheers (The Bull & Finch Pub) where we met up with some other people who also worked on The Darkness Within in some capacity: Dennis (aka Pinto), one of the producers, and Sean Pierce, one of the film's stars. These guys were f'n great and I can't say enough good things about these guys in the 4-5 hours we hung out.

Pinto pimping his G-style!

Pinto and our waitress recommended me some great local beer including the
Brick Red. I had seen this on tap at another bar the night before and read some stellar online reviews, so I was happy to throw one or two or three back. Then we tried another local beer on my radar called the Green Monsta which was 8% APV of deliciousness which we all had another one or two or seven. I need to spotlight these brews on some special upcoming editions of Booze Reviews coming soon.

This waitress kept forcing beer down my throat and I love her for it

Now I have said plenty about Dom and Pinto, but I have to say that Sean is also one hilarious mofo who kept me laughing all night. The wit on that guy is top-notch and worthy of a man whose nickname is Chooch (like Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz). I mean how great is that nickname? Chooch! I must have yelled Chooch a zillion times that night.

Chooch and Dom

Again this post is just to give a shout out to these guys who treated me like we were BFFs since high school or something and how much fun we all had last week. We clicked early on and after that it was laughs and good times for the remainder of the evening. Something completely unexpected that definitely ranks at the top of my cool list is that they refused to let me pay for anything and treated me like family. So if you are reading this my friends, much thanks to you for your northern hospitality and I hope to return the favor one day of you guys can head down to Philly...or maybe we tear it up again on your stomping grounds for round 2.

The Darkness Within is now available for purchase from the official Door Eleven Productions. And check out Cheers/Bull and Finch Pub next time your in Boston.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010): An Un-Necessary Evil

Last year's
Paranormal Activity took the world by storm, using some creative marketing tactics on an old concept - the first person/found footage angle. The Hollywood formula is film + blockbuster gross = automatic sequel, so after being a box office juggernaut, an expedited sequel was not a surprise in the least. Unfortunately in this case, the powers that be in Hollywood should have just left well enough alone.

The second installment is more prequel than sequel with events taking place 60 days before Micah's murder at the end of
Paranormal Activity. This time around, demonic forces target Katie's (Katie Featherston) sister Kristi Rey (Sprague Grayden) and Kristi's family which includes husband Dan (Brian Boland), stepdaughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) and newborn baby Hunter (William Juan Prieto and Jackson Xenia Prieto).

In an attempt to not reveal any major spoilers, the demon from the original terrorizes the Rey family with the same shenanigans, like door slamming and pot banging, that afflicted Katie and Micah in the first one. There might be some tweaks to the household appliances used to inject some of the film's scares, if you want to call them that, but at the end of the day it is all just a rehash that personifies the "bad horror sequel" stereotype.

There are some scenes that attempt to develop a little more backstory to the demonic forces that plague the two sisters since their childhood, while other incidents attempt to tie the original and sequel together. The problem is that these ideas deliver a sensation of being forced. Trying to invent some elements in order to continue a story for an originally unplanned sequel is one thing, but it is a known fact that this sequel is a complete afterthought, created with sole purpose of riding the Paranormal cash cow until it dries out. Therefore the attempted cleverness of trying to align these two films feels rightfully unnatural.

The original's slow pace was acceptable because it was all a setup for a fantastic set of effective payoffs in the late second and entire third acts. Meanwhile the sequel's pacing is even slower, less suspenseful and delivers a climax that is both rushed and absurd. It's too bad because the acting is quite good, especially with Featherston's reprisal of the Katie character and majority of the scare scenes carried by the young Eprhaim. Acting is definitely is not accountable for the overall disappointment that this film leaves you with as you exit the theater. And this disappointment stems from the fact that the original was eerie enough to get under my skin, but this follow-up is simply not scary. There might have been one effective, legitimate jump scene that was played for comedy unfortunately and wasted in the process.

Sure their wallets got a lot thicker after the record-breaking opening last weekend, but after the final product delivered in
Paranormal Activity 2, I am sure a majority of the same moviegoers will be more cautious when an inevitable third installment comes around next year. Recommended for extreme fans of the original or those who want to see Katie's cleavage, which you do get to see a lot of this time around.

I was just kidding Katie. You know I love you.

But in all seriousness, don't go out of your way to see this in the theater and wait for DVD/Blu-ray - which by the way will contain a "shocking" alternate ending that will be available when it is released for home systems. Looks like they are already trying to cover up bad press with promises of meaningful deleted scenes and alternate endings. If these are going to be so good, maybe they should have been put in the theatrical release and not used by a safety net after the film's weaknesses are exposed.