Monday, January 31, 2011

Choose Your Adventure-Like Interactive Games Hits Youtube

In the "why the hell didn't I think of this first category?" comes a recent string of interactive online adventure games created in the image of the old Choose Your Adventure-style (CYOA) franchise that dominated bookstore sales in the 80's and 90's. Now the trend has received a reboot, so to speak, in the video medium using the uber-popular Youtube as the tool to bring this idea to life. Instead of reading paper pages and flipping to even more paper pages after reaching a decision point which will either continue or end the story, you use the same principles except you watch videos instead.

Loosely titled Choose Your Path, here are the simple rules to playing these games: 

- you watch the first video in a story

- when the video ends, you reach a decision point for your character that you must click on

- one leads to continuing the story and the other usually ends it quite badly

- the goal is to make the right choices and guide you (and your character) to a happy ending

For those of you who are already familiar with CYOA, it's the same game. For those of you who are not, it's that simple...and can really addictive.

Personally, I only found out this craze from an article I recently read on Yahoo but have already checked out three of them. I give these people A LOT of credit, because there seems to be a great deal of work involved to produce these vids. While they are done on a humble budgets, the passion for the interactive/CYOA subgenre and creativity really shine through.

My favorites so far include The Murder and The Time Machine by creators Chad, Matt and Rob, which are examples of why these guys are the top dogs in this new arena. There is another "free running" game I really enjoyed, but didn't think I would at first, called Livewire and Damien. Basically, if you like playing free roaming console games like Tony Hawk's skateboarding games, for example, where you just roam around through rendered environments and perform cool tricks for fun, then you'll totally dig this one as much as I did.

There are a ton of these games that I want to check out, so I'm going to stop typing and get to playing. I recommend you check some out as well, whether or not you are well initiated with CYOA. Here are some links below to get you started.



The masters of the craft, Chad, Matt and Rob's The Time Machine and The Murder...










The free roaming game Livewire and Damien that I got hooked to...





If you don't like these examples, just head to Youtube and type in Choose Your Path. Looks like these are taking off!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rewind Review: Strange Brew (1983)...beauty, eh?



"Cooooo coo-coo-coo-coo-coo-coo-coooo!
Cooooo coo-coo-coo-coo-coo-coo-cooooo!"


For the third season of the Canadian comedy sketch show SCTV, which was a show originating from the Second City stage show in Canada, the CBC network, that aired SCTV at that time, asked for an ongoing sketch that was strictly all things "Canadian". This led to the pairing of one of the show's newcomers, Rick Moranis, and SCTV semi-vet Dave Thomas to form the McKenzie brothers for a segment entitled "Great White North" aka "Kanadian Korner". As brothers Bob (Moranis) and Doug (Thomas) McKenzie, they hosted a faux public access talk show with the brother parodying every Canadian stereotype perceived by many to be true. The McKenzie Brothers were two beer guzzling, cigarette smoking, back bacon eating, tuque wearing, and goofballs who could never finish their program's "topics" because they were too busy ripping on each other. They said things like "Eh" to complete almost every sentence, "Take off!", "Beauty!" and most of all "Hoser". And most of all, they always were drinking their beer. 


According to Moranis and Thomas, their sketches were 95% impromptu, thus giving some of the legtimacy of their characters' stupidity and likability. In fact, they even inspired a "Hoser Day Parade" in their native Canada. However, their success was not just limited to the Great White North. When NBC aired episodes of SCTV, the McKenzie segments were the most popular among American viewers. And you always know what happens when a comedy sketch catches fire, right? Exactly...they get their ow
n film. In 1982, MGM put the boys in their own movie, Strange Brew.

In the film, Bob and Doug's failed "mouse in a bottle" scheme leads to them getting employed at the Elsinore Brewery, which is probably not the best place for these beer enthusiasts to get jobs. Not just because of their hops chugging ways, but because it happens right in the middle of the corporation's recent ownership change and the politics that surround it. The old owner John Elsinore mysterious dies and leaves the factory in the hands of his daughter Pam (Lynne Griffen), not his jealous brother Claude (Paul Dooley). We soon learn that Claude teamed up with the owner of the Asylum for the Criminally Insane, which is strangely located just next store to the brewery, Brewmeister Smith (played by the legendary Max Von Sydow) to murder John in order to release all Elsinore brew with a mind-controlling drug to take over the world. Bwah-hahaha! Next on the agenda for them is to elminate Pam, so they can finally take control of the brewery without her interference and execute their diabolical plan. But they did not expect that the fumbling idiot brothers were a threat to put a stop to their world domination.

Bob and Doug act and dress exactly the same as they did in their SCTV skits, tuques and all. They are immature, bickering siblings who still live at home with their folks (also played by Thomas and Moranis) with the goals in life to create horrible homemade films like "2051 A.D.", a ridiculous nickel-budgeted ripoff of Omega Man ("beauty, eh?") and ingest as much beer as possible. With no revenue coming from their film making aspirations, they decide to obtain free brew using a scheme based on a supposedly true story of a man who found a mouse in his beer bottle and received a whole case for free in return. So after they "put a baby mouse in the bottle, fed it for a month and filled the bottle with beer", you know so it doesn't look like they crammed it in there, they end up at the brewery to get their compensation. Instead they get jobs and befriend Pam.


When they aren't drinking beer right off the manufacturing line, they meet ex-fictional hockey superstar Jean "Rosy" LaRose, played by Angus MacInnes of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, who has a mega crush on Pam. During their shift, the boys are taken to a large cooler room converted into a bootleg ice rink where the employees play hockey, but not just a normal pickup game among friends or for employee morale. They wear gear that resemble Stormtrooper outfits and beat the living hell out of each while strange organ music plays over the loudspeakers. The reasoning for this is that the employees are guinea pigs to the drug created by Smith, since they drink the factory's laced beer. Smith's concoction of beer and his mind control substance make those who ingest it almost zombie-like and are easily controlled to perform actions based on certain musical notes.

After John's accidental death becomes exposed as a murder, Claude and Smith develop a perfect plan to murder Pam and frame the boys for her demise plus kill them off in the process. Due to their uncanny ability to substitute beer for oxygen underwater, they all survive, but Pam is put under the care of Smith for mental treatment due to the stress of her recent peril. On the other hand, the brothers are arrested and put in lockup. After they con their way out of getting jumped by fellow prison inmates, because "lawyers are for sucks", their Chuck Norris-esque lawyer brings them to court, where their shenanigans lead them to be found guilty. Instead of going back to the slammer for good, Smith offers to institutionalize the boys, like he did with Pam, when their idiotic antics are viewed as complete lunacy by the court. Now with Pam and the brothers trapped in the asylum and Rosy a complete zombie from the tainted ale, Smith and Claude believe they have won. But once again they underestimate the dim-witted brothers will to win...so they can drink beer all day long. 

Post-Blues Brothers and before Wayne's World, Strange Brew is probably the best sketch from a live comedy show adapted for the big screen. There are so many hilarious moments and memorable lines (see the many inclusions in the review above), which make this an enjoyable romp. The comedy stays true to the sketch show thanks to the performances of Moranis and Thomas and the fact the story they are invlovned in is a good one. Yes the story is a good one - it is based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, except with beer-laden comedy, laughs and taking place in Canada. Another factor of the film's greatness is due to the many film parodies, including Star Wars, Superman and Jaws.


How did they reel in Sydow, a man who worked closely with the late cinema visionary Federico Fellini, into a motion picture with a plethora of beer jokes? The story is that his son was a McKenzie brothers fan and asked him to do the film, but he sure looks like he is having a blast playing a mastermind in an offbeat project much like he did as Ming the Merciless in prior year's Flash Gordon. Dooley plays the perfect meddling and feeble brother, MacInnes portays the big and dumb yet lovable Rosy and Griffin is the sweet and fragile as Pam. Combine them all with Sydow and the Moranis-Thomas duo and the peformances as a whole are a beauty, eh?

The film almost doubled the original budget and gained an ever greater following via cable and home video outlets. It is a major surprise that this did not generate a sequel given the box office success and buzz, but that might have been due to Moranis appearing in Ghostbusters the following year and heading into superstardom. The pair still were involved as Bob and Doug in song (their 12 Days of Christmas take is hilarious!), commercials for Molson as well as Pizza Hut and TV specials, but they never appeared in their own film again. Maybe it was inevitable that the greatness of Brew, could probably never be matched or exceeded. Thus the world was left with a standalone comedy cinematic gem to enjoy forever.


For a film that is close to 28 years old, the laughs it provides still holds up today. Just as Superman made you believe a man could really fly, this flick will make you believe that a man could drink a whole vat of beer...and live to tell the tale. "Take off, you nob!"


 RETRO RATING: 

4 of out of 5 Creeper Santa Hoseheads


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Man-Cave Interview: Simone star Jennifer Ward



Yesterday I sat down with director Joops Fragle to discuss his short Simone and today I have the privilege of talking to the other half of the film’s one-two punch. She is a beautiful and extraordinary talented actress, who definitely flexed some impressive thespian muscles (and fur) in this flick. 


The Man-Cave (TMC): Please welcome the lovely Jennifer Ward to The Man-Cave!

Jennifer Ward (JW): Thank you for having me!


TMC: You are only the second female that has been interviewed on this site, so thanks for being brave enough to participate and show females that it is safe to enter The Man-Cave.

JW: Wow, really? It's an honor to be here. And ladies, it's totally safe . . . well, so far . . .

TMC: This is also the first opportunity I have to interview a fellow University of Central Florida Golden Knight (they’re just called the Knights nowadays). When did you decide to embrace your acting bug? Can you tell us some background on how you got into the craft?

JW:  Acting is something that I have always loved and have been drawn to. However, when growing up, you tell people you want to be an actor and it's kinda like a joke - No, seriously, what are you REALLY going to do? I grew up in a small town so there were not really any acting opportunities that I knew of, so at the time I thought that the best way to break into acting was to start modeling. So at 16 I started doing some of that - and for the most part enjoyed it - but then high school graduation was looming ahead and it didn't look like I would be making a living acting or modeling so I applied to a few colleges in pursuit of a degree that would aid me in obtaining a "realistic" career. 


After earning a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida, I started working at UCF in hopes of saving up some money for grad school. While applying to several colleges for a Masters in Counseling, fate stepped in. I received a phone call from my sister that my brother had died - he was only 10 years older than me. Suddenly my life was a whirlwind of grief and coming to terms with such a horrible tragedy. It also brought into sharp focus for me that I was NOT doing what I loved with my life. While psychology has most definitely helped me with breaking down characters and figuring out why people do what they do - nothing felt more right than the first time I stepped onto a film set. I knew right then and there that this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life and I haven't stopped pursuing my dream since.

  
TMC: Who are some of your acting influences?

JW:  I love Natalie Portman, Sandra Bullock, and Nicole Kidman - all very strong, diverse actresses. I admire them deeply and hope to work with each of them someday.


TMC: When you auditioned for Simone, what exactly did you do in your audition that you believed sealed the deal with Joops Fragale?

JW: Well, the truth is, I didn't audition - I had worked with Joops before in Parting and Mike Long, one of the producers of Simone, asked if I would read over the script and consider doing the role. It was a tough decision for me. I can't tell you how much I loved working with 386 Films, but the fact that the role did require some nudity was a concern. I had never done a film like this and once it's out there - then it's out there.  I really had to weigh the potential future consequences that could occur - in the end, I determined that I could not give up the opportunity to work with 386 Films again and I knew that they would handle the nudity and love scenes like the professionals they are. It has been the best decision I have ever made and I couldn't be more proud of this film.


TMC: How did you prepare to play a character like Simone?

JW: Honestly, I did not do anything specific to prepare for this role. Although right before we shot there was a song by Skillet called Monster that I listened to again and again. The lyrics definitely resonate with what Simone was going through. I really attached myself to the words of the song and through that was able to create the type of thoughts that would be going through her head. Other than her secret alter ego, Simone is just like everyone else. Someone that wants to be loved and be happy.


TMC: What did you do to appear and act so hungover? It seemed very genuine.

JW:  No special technique there except I pulled from past experience. I thought of all the things you feel when you are hungover - headache, achey, stiff, being really out of it, etc. I just relived those moments I'm sure we all have experienced one time or another.


TMC: So were you really getting sick in those bathroom scenes?

JW: Nope. Although some of the crew thought they might start getting sick just from hearing me cough like that.


TMC: The moment you first made me, as a viewer, feel your pain was in the vodka mix up scene - an extremely realistic reaction. Have you ever awakened dehydrated and mistaken water for vodka in real life? I ask you because it has happened to me before and I reacted the same as you.

JW:  I can honestly say that I have never done that.  It sounds like I captured the moment right though.


TMC: If we can talk about the love scene for a second and maybe expand on some of your comments from earlier on - was it uncomfortable or awkward to shoot the love scene with fellow actress Erin Cline? Or have you previously been filmed in nude/love scenes which prepared you for this challenge? You looked extremely natural and passionate, which really sold that part of the film.

JW:  I have never done a scene this extensive before in that regard. While there is some degree of uncomfortableness going on simply because you are half naked and making love in front other people - when the cameras are rolling I am my character and feel everything that she does. I thought that 386 Films captured the moment beautifully.  


TMC: Is this the first time you have been cast in a horror project?

JW:  Not at all.  I have done four other indie horror films.


TMC: Are you a fan of the horror genre? What other genres are you passionate about?

JW: Absolutely! I have loved horror since I was born it seems. I'm not sure why but I have always been drawn to it.  I also love romantic comedies, dramas, and the occasional action flick.


TMC: You are in the film for a majority of Simone's running time and have little dialogue to deliver. How did you prepare emotionally to deliver everything the audience needed to know about your peril without the assistance of exposition or deliverable lines?

JW: Joops and I talked about the fact that there was little dialogue extensively. He made it clear that I would need to show through my facial expressions and movement everything that Simone was going through. It was a daunting task but once I got on set and became Simone it just seemed to fall into place.


TMC: What is next for you? Any other projects coming up that you would like to promote?

JW:  My latest film Risen is an official selection of the Gasparilla International Film Festival taking palce in Tampa, FL on March 24-27, 2011. I will be attending the festival so please find me and say hello if you are going to be there. Web sites for Risen can be found at http://www.facebook.com/risenmovie and at http://www.sleepingweasel.com/about.html.

I also just finished up a full-length indie film called Terrestrial Soup with A Wolf! Productions.  The film is expected to be released this Summer. There is a Facebook Fan Page at http://www.facebook.com/TerrestrialSoupMovie

At the end of February I am scheduled to start shooting a web series called Mr. Healthy's Happy Land. The web site for the film is http://www.mrhealthyshappyland.com/.  

I have a Fan Page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Faith-Ward/163180967044809) where you can see Behind-the-Scenes Photos of my latest projects and find out what I'm doing next.


TMC:: Before I go, I want to thank you for scaring the bejesus out of me. It is very hard to do so I appreciate it when someone gives me a much needed jolt in my horror film viewings.

JW:  You're welcome!  That's great!


TMC: And Jennifer, from the bottom of my heart, I wanted to you to know that you are the sexiest werewolf alive.

JW: *blush*


TMC: Thanks again for taking time to interview in The Man-Cave and I wish you all the best for your upcoming roles. I am sure I’ll be seeing you showing off your talents on film again real soon.

JW:  Thank you for having me!


TMC:  Simone is available to own through 386 Film’s official website (see the link below). Whether you are a horror fan or not, I recommend you check it out. There is a lot of tension, mystery, thrills, and sensuality, but more importantly, it is entertaining.


To order your copy of Simone, please click this link to access 386 Films.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Man-Cave Interview: Simone director Joops Fragale




Last week I reviewed Simone (386 Films), a short film that really took me by surprise. If the phrase "good things come in small packages" were ever to ring true, it would be stated in mentioning Simone. The film was less than 10 minutes yet I couldn't get it out of my mind all week, even in the middle of a major snowstorm. The film was fun, well acted and scary...but most of all it was entertaining.

That is why I have asked the film's director Joops Fragale to join me today in The Man-Cave for an interview. Joops' past directorial efforts include the short films Mama's Boys, Breaking Val and Parting.


The Man-Cave (TMC): Without further ado, I would like to introduce director Joops Fragale to the Man-Cave. Welcome, Joops.

Joops Fragale (JF):
Thanks for inviting me to the Cave. I love what you’ve done with the place.


TMC: Thank Mother Nature. Those wavy lines on the wall aren't trendy new hipster designs, Those are full blown watermarks from this summer's flood.

First off, a general question. What is your educational background and training for film making? Did you attend film school or did you develop your craft on your own?

JF: For training, I usually start with some light stretching and a few wind sprints. ;)

My education is actually in Illustration and Graphic Design, with one semester of Television Production. But, I’ve been making “films” since junior high, running around with the giant VHS Camcorders and editing between two VCRs. The rest is just being a student of the craft. Watching tons of films and all the behind-the-scenes stuff and just drinking it all in. Then I just went out, experimented, and made mistakes. I got involved with different productions and learned from people who know more than me.  I’ve done a little bit on both sides of the camera throughout the years, and I think it helps in the balance of what is needed. 
 

TMC: When did you first realize that film was your passion and that you wanted to delve into film making? 

JF: Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was such a fascinating adventure. I was captivated by how cool Dr. Jones was and the journey you went on. Back then the making-of stuff was not as easy to find. But there were a few small documentaries and books hidden in libraries. I would just stare in amazement at the pictures with the mountains of gear they used. I knew I wanted to tell stories. My junior year in high school, we started the first A/V class taught, which lead to a ton of cutting academic classes to fuck around shooting nonsense. Not that I recommend ditching class of course.

 
TMC: Let’s talk about your film. Where did the idea for Simone stem from?

JF: Simone was born from British blood of acclaimed horror writer Frazer Lee. We found his script “Hair of the Dog” on-line, contacted him and he graciously let us run with it. Frazer’s story dealt more with the haziness of the hangover. But as we started to develop our story we began to see it as a tragic love story. We saw the character of Simone as another victim. It began to take shape as something deeper than your standard horror short.


TMC: Considering that vampires and zombies have been ruling the horror market at the time of Simone’s conception, was it a conscience decision to go against the grain so to speak and tackle werewolves? Werewolves are slowly starting to flood their way back into the game and you beat the rest to it.

JF: Enough with the zombies and vamps! I couldn’t stand reading another vampire or zombie script. So it was refreshing to see something outside of that realm. It’s simple to pigeon hole Simone into the horror category because of the werewolf element. Visually, we obviously tried keep the proven elements of hot chicks, blood, sex, and death. But, I was more interested in telling the story of this person who just wants to be loved. She harbors a certain affliction that keeps her from forming lasting relationships. It’s very much a normal tale of hiding personal demons from others, whether it is drug addiction, life’s secret or a disease. And yes, I’m glad we got it out there before the flood of werewolf flicks get shoved down our throats.
 

TMC: Was it a challenge to tell your story considering a majority of the dialogue is delivered from lead actress Jennifer Ward, who plays Simone. She was on screen alone for all but a few moments of the running time, so developing a story with little dialogue must have been a hurdle. Am I right in that assumption?

JF: Yeah, it presents certain challenges having to do it primarily with image, foley, and music. With my partner-in-crime, producer, Mike Long, we came up with the feel and structure to base the story on. We probably could have gone a 100% no dialog but it didn’t feel natural. Our previous film, Parting, was really dialog heavy so this was a 180 from that.  It’s harder, in the fact that you really need to work with the actors to get the right emotions out, physically. We talked it through a bunch. We created character back stories so they can find their place in this Simone world. They both did a great job. Jenn was really able to find that dark space to bring the torment out. For this particular story, we also had to try to hide the real intent behind the emotions to keep it a guessing game.
 
Simone is really a two-parter. At first viewing, you have one story and I think if you watch it a second time it has a totally different feel because now you understand the “real” reason for her angst. 

The other aspect is then to find how the camera is going to help facilitate the storytelling. The angles, the movements, and the shot choices. I have crazy notes all over my shooting script and I storyboarded out some of the more challenging sequences. And after all of that, the music and sound play a big role in setting the mood. My brother, Chris Fragale, does all our scoring, and I think he found the perfect old school vibe mixed with modern tones that really shape the film and move it along.


TMC: What were the other major challenges you had to overcome in order to complete this project? 

JF: The two normal hurdles…Money and Time. Never enough of either. Time especially on this one since, Mike and Executive Producer, Nicole Long were expecting their first child (or as I like to say “future DP”) at literally any minute. Baby popped out a week and half after filming.


TMC: Simone does contain a couple of special effects sequences. What was the budget on this project? 

JF: Honestly, about $65 was spent on actual production. Plus a few hundred on food and supplies. We own our equipment, and we luckily have a fantastic and dedicated crew. This was our biggest crew of 14 warm bodies. The house was donated by our craft service champion. For the effects, I did the latex work, Mike and our DP did the bloody set dressing and then we mixed some physical effects with some creative frame-by-frame digital effects in post.


TMC: The film runs less than 10 minutes long and occurs mostly at night. How many nights did it take to shoot all of your principles scenes?

JF: It was a 3-day/night shoot, Friday through Sunday.


TMC: Going back to Jennifer Ward and her large presence alone on screen throughout the film, what factors led to your decision to cast her in the lead role?

JF: Jenn was in our previous film, Parting. When Simone came along, we went to her first, to see if there was an interest, and we also held a casting which brought us Erin Cline. Of course, we needed her to be comfortable with certain aspects of the story. Mike talked with her about our direction and the overall concept. I think having that previous relationship she felt comfortable and she put a load of trust in us. And, honestly between Parting and Simone, which are so diametrically different, I think it is some her best work to date. But I’m slightly biased.


TMC: Horror aspect aside, Simone includes an eye-raising lesbian love scene that I am sure will please both the male and female audience, and you shot it in a very sexy, yet classy way. You used some unique angles and effects to deliver that sensual moment, so can you elaborate on how you executed some of those elements and where the idea to shoot it in such that fashion originated?

JF: I just get inside the mind of a lesbian werewolf and imagine what she would imagine. I joke…sorta. It’s back to trust factor. We developed a great bond and trust with Jenn and Erin Cline. They were comfortable what we were doing which allowed us to get the shots we wanted. Sex scenes are always interesting to shoot because of the initial awkwardness, and throw in the lesbian aspect and multiply. But, five minutes in it was game on and really is just technical at that point. Put your hand here. Turn your head into the light. Move the camera and do it again. I wanted the scene to be more “romantic” and emotional rather than the standard bumpin’ uglies horror flicks usually have. 

It had to still fit within the feel, visually and emotionally, of the rest of the film. At that point in the story Simone is remembering back to that human contact she craves and it intercuts with glimpses of the horror coming. It’s the ecstasy and agony of her life at that moment. When we first screened Simone for the ladies, they loved the scene and thought it was beautiful. So we knew we got it right. They did an amazing job. Now, if it were a dude remembering a night of knockin’ boots, I’m sure it would just be close ups of sweaty flesh parts.


TMC: I read that this is your fourth project, all of them being shorts. Is this your first foray into horror other than what you have listed on IMDB?

JF: As a youngster we shot really awful horror in the woods with someone wearing a monster mask jumping out of trees. Of the four on IMDB this is the only one that can be classified horror, although all of them have their own darkness. We joke “386 Films, where someone always dies”. We just enjoy the dark, gritty stories.


TMC: Are you a horror fan?

JF: I am, but more the classic horror. The original Halloween is still the scariest movie since I was a kid. Most new horror is all flash and gore but no scares, no deep dreading fear while watching. It’s amazing what you can create today with special effects and digital manipulation but where is the story? Where is the bone chilling fright where you almost want to stop watching?

Mike is a huge horror fan with an amazing collection and knowledge of horror films. He has educated me on the horror genre and has taught me to love it, maybe more than I should.


TMC: Which filmmakers have influenced you? Are there any directors you hold in high regard and did you use that appreciation for your own style? 

JF: Inarritu, Scorsese, De Palma, Spike Lee, Fincher, Eastwood, The Coen Bros, Tony Scott. While I completely admire the work of these masters, I really have no desire to emulate what they do on screen. I’ve never wanted my work to be like anyone else’s whether it was illustration, music or film. I think it’s important to have your own style, your own vision. Hopefully, with an atomic bomb of luck, you do something someday that stands out and people take notice. 

  
TMC: Any plans to develop Simone into a full length feature?

JF: We’d love too. We have the story. What we don’t have is the funding to do it properly. 




TMC:  What is in the pipeline for you and 386 Films?

JF: We just shot another short, “Date Night” currently in post-production. This one stars Erin Cline from Simone. It’s a smaller fun piece that has some dark twisted elements. We have a back log of short ideas as well as developing various feature concepts that range from dark drama to horror. All we need is funding. So if you know of any investors that would like to put something together…You got my number. Hello…Andrew Rona, Dark Castle

 
TMC: Joops, I read you are an avid softball player. Do you know that I play a mean right field? And I have a high OBP. Yes I am nerdy enough to calculate that.

JF: If you ever want to be traded for a player to be named later…? The night your awesome review for Simone posted I was in the middle of a game in a downpour. I’m not ashamed to admit it, there is an old Excel file somewhere that tracked all my stats for a time. Ah crap, I am ashamed. 


TMC: Thank you for your time, Joops and best of luck with your future endeavors. Is there anything else you would like to discuss about Simone or your future projects?

JF: Super thanks for having me to the Cave. Thanks for the great questions. A quick shouts outs to the 386 crew. You don’t make movies on your own and these people devote their time and talent to help little me create the big vision. Oh and seriously…anyone who dreams of being an executive producer… contact us.


TMC: Simone is available to own through 386 Film’s official website (see the link below). Whether you are a horror fan or not, I recommend you check it out. There is a lot of tension, mystery and sensuality, but more importantly, it is scary.

Be on the lookout for tomorrow's interview with the lovely Jennifer Ward, star of Simone. 


To order your copy of Simone, please click this link to access 386 Films.






Monday, January 24, 2011

Music Bloghop (AJ.C's) - Top 10 Favortie Songs

This is my third time participating in one of Alex J. Cavanaugh's bloghops, with the previous two being favorite top 10 films and top 10 television shows. While these bloghops are fun to partake in, they are also the hardest articles to write. I didn't think it could get any more difficult than picking out my favorite films and television, as I consider them my specialty. Even though I am pretty knowledgeable about music, picking my Top 10 favorite songs is definitely the most brainteasing believe it or not. But hey, I am always there to support a blogger buddy when the opportunity arises and helping out a fellow blogger friend is worth this self-induced brain-picking by helping get the word out.

So I decided to leave it to chance, but hitting "random select" on my iPod, but understand that I am extremely selective about what I put on there, so the songs listed below are ones I feel very strongly about and are all technically "favorites".

And with that out of the way, here is my top 10 list in no particular order.  


(Presses random select button)


Comfortably Numb 
by Pink Floyd

Forget random select, this is easily my favorite song ever. From Pink Floyd's epic LP, The Wall, this Roger Waters - Dave Gilmour collaboration takes my mind to a different place without the use of any mind-altering substances (hee-hee). Gilmour's voice is almost angelic during the chorus and his guitar solo is just as moving. Also, listening to Comfortably Numb helps me relax in times of stress.

Previously believed as a song about heroin, Waters dismissed that at a concert I saw last year. He said he was in Philadelphia many years ago and had the flu. The doctor gave him some medicine that helped him bounce back enough to play in Pink Floyd's concert that night and thus Numb was born.



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Sound of Madness 
by Shinedown
 
From one extreme to another. This track is always something I listen to before hitting the gym and lifting weights, when I need an energy boost with no caffeine around or before delivering a presentation. If I was a pro wrestler, this would be my entrance music. It just gets me all pumped up and ready to go. 

Of course, lead singer Brent Smith's vocals and Zach Myers skills keep the energy going through this whole "angry" tune.



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Closer 
by Nine Inch Nails

One of the songs that got me to check out the industrial scene back in the early 90's. Very cool, stylish song with a touch of creep and suspense. It invokes an emotion in me, but I can't figure if it is a mellow or adrenaline-injected one. The use of the synthesizers, bass bears and piano chords at the end blend together like some bizarro orchestra.

Probably best known for Trent Reznor proclaiming "Ï want to fuck you like an animal!", but if you listen to the edited radio version, the song is still cool and holds up today.  It is kind of timeless in a sense, like if it came out today, it would fit in with all the auto-tuning and electric beats that clog the charts.



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Burden in My Hand 
by Soundgarden

Chris Cornell, especially teamed with the rest of Soundgarden, is the voice of so many mainstream hits like Spoonman, Black Hole Sun, Rusty Cage, Pretty Noose, etc. And while I enjoy so many of their songs, my favorite is the under appreciated Burden. Sure it sat at number one for five weeks on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, but all the songs I previously mentioned always get the glory over this one...except for on this site.

Based on drug addiction, the song is a dark one. Funny thing is that when I first heard it, I thought it was about someone who threw a good relationship with a lover away and how he regrets it. Later I found out it was about drug habits but I totally loved it by then anyways. I still make it to mean what I originally thought it was and if you listen to the lyrics with my interpretation in mind, you'll see it fits.



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Love Gun 
by Kiss

I am not an uber KISS fan. I mean, I like them, but I am not a die hard to the point where I own all things KISS. However, this is my favorite KISS song and an awesome track on its' own merit. Of course when you have Ace Frehley (not) sober and in the zone, he is hard to top.

I love the chorus: "You pull the trigger of myyyyyy...Love Gun!" I'll stay classy and not make a pervert-y comment here, but that line is great.




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Plug In Baby 
by Muse

The guitar intro is to die for. The cryptic meaning behind the song makes you think. The lyrics are powerful, "My Plug In Baby...crucifies my enemies!" I take this to mean that front man Matthew Bellamy kills his critics by jamming on his guitar! If only we could all have a vice that was so revenue-generating.

This song was my first exposure to the band back in '01 and long before they became the mega power they are today.




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Kashmir
by Led Zeppelin

No, not the disgraceful Sean Combs foolish mix either! Zeppelin is legendary and among my top favorite bands. This track is probably the song most liked in the mainstream, but that doesn't mean it rules any less.

Do I have to say anything else? It's Led Zeppelin. Plant, Page... And it's Chase Utley's walk-up batting music.

 


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Los Angeles 
by Frank Black

Want to know something ridiculous? The first time I ever heard this song was in a Tony Hawk PS2 game about 5 years ago. My friend Nick in Florida introduced me to The Pixies and thus I made the vocal connection that Los Angeles was voiced by Frank Black (aka Black Francis when he was with The Pixies). So I went to Ebay and bought pretty much every CD of his stuff that I could and am a major fan.

This is another song that gets me pumped up, even though I don't live in or have never visited the city. And one day I need to find someone who can dance the "Beta Can-Can" in front of me. 




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Go with the Flow 
by Queens of the Stone Age

I'll admit that QotSA flew under my radar until the release of Songs for the Deaf and didn't really like too much on the debut album until I got a better appreciation for Queens years later. Now, I adore any and all tracks, when I used to goof on their name all of the time.

The video is AWESOME as hell, but I loved the song long before that came out. Josh Homme's voice is amazing and the fact that his songs sound completely unique from anything else (like Pink Floyd) is a major plus. I could pull at least 5-6 great ones off the top of my head, but Flow is simply my favorite.

 


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Vasoline 
by Stone Temple Pilots

Here is another band that I could pull about 10 or so of their hits that I absolutely love, but Vasoline always sticks out. I don't think that I am proclaiming anything profound when I state that Scott Weiland's voice and on stage presence is phenomenal.

An interesting point is that even though I love this song and it is one of my favorites, my favorite STP album is Core. Core has a better overall collection of songs whereas Purple, which contains Vasoline, has a couple of major hits with the rest of the songs being so-so., IMHO.





Honorable mentions:

Hey Man, Nice Shot 
by Filter

The song's verses build to a highly energetic chorus and I will just state bluntly, it kicks ass! There are a lot of rumors out there concerning what the song is "really" about, but a fact about the song is that it is awesome! I'm in shock this song didn't pop up in the above ten.




Crash 
by Safetysuit

Hands down favorite song by this band that is going to drop on their upcoming, yet to be titled, second album. While it has a good beat, the story behind the lyrics is incredible! Basically, lead singer Doug Brown saw a man purposely push a young boy out of the car ahead of him, while it was still in motion. Brown pulled to the side and kept the kid conscience and, more importantly, alive while help and medics arrived. Since it is unreleased, I can only provide the video I shot when I took my wife to see them last spring, which is only a part of the song performed acoustically.



Ghost Town 
by Shiny Toy Guns

I only found out about this band less than a year ago and I am already a huge fan, particularly of their effort, A Season of Poison.




Master of Puppets 
by Metallica

Highly charged song. Yes I love One, Enter Sandman, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Wherever I May Roam, but this is my favorite.




Humpty Dance 
by Digital Underground

It's stoo-pid (thanks Humpty!) but it is hilarious, Add in the fact that I can sing this song in reverse with no problem and I would be lying if I didn't include it on my list.




Heart Shaped Box
by Nirvana

Kurt Cobain left the world too soon. He also gave us many beautifully haunting songs, but none more so than this track. It's powerful, deep and it feels "real". There is a soul behind this song and out of all of Nirvana's hits, this is my favorite.






Thiggity-thiggity-thiggity...That's All Folks.

Make sure to check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's site and I cannot wait to see what all of the other bloghoppers are offering today! See you all at your sites.



Friday, January 21, 2011

Podcast Now Airing on the Planet of Terror



Last evening, the talented James Cortez has launched his first ever podcast over at the ever so awesome Planet of Terror. His maiden voyage into the internet airways features guests from the indie flick The Bunny Game, Writer/Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer/Caterer Adam Rehmeier and Actress Rodleen Getsic. It is an extremely interesting interview that you certainly do not want to miss out on...seriously.

Before you kick into full weekend mode, click on the "ENTER THE PLANET OF TERROR PODCAST" link below and head over to the PoT to support for James' new venture. Cortez the Killer promises more new episodes coming soon.

ENTER THE PLANET OF TERROR PODCAST!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Simone (2010) makes a great blind date


Simone wakes up with a whopping hangover, unaware of anything that happened the night before. Once she recalls the events of the previous evening, Simone wishes for her temporary alcohol-induced insomnia to become permanent.


A young woman awakens in her bed with a major hangover and absolutely no recollection of the night before. She's so discombobulated that she even mistakes a glass of vodka for a much needed hydrating glass of water and drinks it. Ouch! We've all been there before, right? Then she learns that her supposed alcohol-induced vomit is actually a huge chunk of hair with a touch of blood mixed in when she hurls in her bathroom sink. Ok, so we probably have NOT been there before, but let's move on.

She begins having disjointed flashbacks, through which we learn her name is the same as the one in our title, Simone (Jennifer Ward). Once she listens to a voice mail from her friends, asking why she ditched them without paying for her drinks, her sporadic mental visions begin to link together.




Simone remembers that she met an extremely gorgeous woman named Eve (Erin Cline) at a bar. They had some drinks, went back to Simone's pad, yada yada yada, one thing led to another, and then had a moment of hot passion. These happy memories begin to expire when she starts having visions of Eve being brutally assaulted, bringing Simone's anxiety level to an all-time high. And the best of the film is yet to come.

The film runs only around 17 minutes long, but there is more quality film making here than in some of the 90 minute features you saw at the cineplex in 2010. Horror film or not, director Joops Fragale boasts a keen cinematic poise for someone who only had three projects under his belt before filming Simone. His use of shooting certain scenes out of focus during Simone's memory and hangover recovery process to present a feeling of mental blurriness is nothing short of outstanding cinematography. The lighting also helps as supplement to the interesting angles he supplies the audience. 




Technical execution aside, there two major keys to Simone's success. The first lies in the incredible acting delivered by lead Ward, who has "superstar potential" written all over her her performance. She has a way of genuinely making you feel what her character is feeling throughout the film. The second factor is the tension that develops as thick as heavy fog and slowly escalates until the conclusion. Not only does Fragale have the technical prowess, but he also knows how to tell a damn good story in a limited amount of time. Oh and he knows how to scare you too, which is ultimately the most important element in a horror film.

This is The Man-Cave after all, so a mention must be made about the sensual lesbian sex scene that takes place between the two beautiful actresses around the midpoint of the film. It was shot very sexy but also with class and style. Mind you, this sexual exchange is just the sweet sugar added into this freshly brewed cup of high quality Colombian coffee of a film.

You definitely do not want to miss out on this flick! Horror lovers or not, Simone is well worth your time for a viewing guaranteed to give you some thrills. 

If you want to get in on the action, you can buy Simone from the 386 Films website by clicking this link: 386 Films

Be on the lookout next week when Simone director Joops Fragale and star Jennifer Ward visit The Man-Cave for interviews


RATING:
4 of 5 Creeper Santas