Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Horror Writers on Strike - They Eat Scabs

An article from The Hollywood Reporter - "Striking horror writers haunt Warner Bros." Here's the link.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New low-budget Horror available today - Nov 27, 2007

Only a few DVD's to report about today, so few that I'll even talk about the rerelease of "The Omega Man". (if you didn't know, "The Omega Man" is basically a previous version of "I am Legend" - it's actually the second movie to be made from the original Richard Matheson novel) Then there's the made for TV and should've stayed there, "Skinwalkers", as well as "This Hollow Sacrament" and "Day X".

"Skinwalkers" is "from the producers of "Resident Evil" and the director of "Jason X", who would be Don Carmody and James Isaac, respectively, and it marks the first collaboration between Lionsgate and Constantin Films. Shot entirely in Canada, the coolest thing about this movie is definitely the poster. Seriously, it's a cool poster. I can't say much good about the movie, so I won't say anything at all. However, if you want to see what Lionsgate marketing dollars look like, check out the website. Hell, they didn't even need the website, they had me at the poster... and it really is a cool poster.

"This Hollow Sacrament", distributed by Unearthed Films, is the only true independent horror being released this week. It's written, directed and produced by Greg William Stechman and was made between August and December 2005 with a budget of $200,000. It's based on the true events around the murder of four young women in Northern California in the late 1990's and the subsequent criminal investigation. Stechman's been called "an original voice in the popular serial killer subgenre". It's his debut film, so buck up and check it out, the buzz is really good.

"Day X" is being released by Image Entertainment, even though I read that it was actually made in 2005. 'As a mysterious outbreak transforms the general populace into a throng of marauding, flesh-eating creatures, eleven strangers find themselves trapped in an abandoned steel mill." So, it's a zombie movie... I can't find out much else, but it's only 81 minutes long, so I'll check 'er out. Can't be THAT much of a waste of time.

Okay, so "The Omega Man" is being released on DVD again and why not? "I am Legend" comes out this Friday, may as well try and make a few extra bucks, huh? Anyways, "The Omega Man" was made in 1971 and stars everyones favorite gun-toting republican, Charles Heston. It's the second version of the novel, the first being "The Last Man on Earth", starring Vincent Price. "The Omega Man" really is a pretty good movie, even though it could be viewed as kind of goofy now... however, if you're interested and haven't seen it, it's worth a watch.

New on DVD - November 27, 2007:

Monday, November 26, 2007

The writers are on strike? Go get yourself an agent

Quick note here - The WGA is on strike, so, obviously, the writers aren't working, the producers are sticking to existing projects, studio heads have their hands full and guess what all the agents are doing? My bet is - not much. Could be a great time to try to get something in front of one of them. I'm not saying you'll get a job, that would make you a scab, but it's probably a good opporunity to get something read. Here's a list from the WGA of agents who represent film, television and interactive. Pick up the phone and start calling. You never know, it's either talk to you or watch Oprah reruns.

28 Days Later + C.H.U.D. - story = Mulberry Street

I just saw "Mulberry Street" a couple days ago - here's a link to the official site. They definitely had a bit more budget than a lot of the crap/low-budget gems that I'm used to watching and it had a great feel to it - almost exactly like "28 Days Later". "Mulberry Street" screened at a ton of festivals, is part of the "8 Films to Die For" festival that runs November 9 - 18 across the country and Lionsgate picked it up, so you can expect to see it out on DVD soon. It's a great film to watch if you've got some budget and want to know what the festivals are looking for. It had a dark, artsy feel and I'm pretty sure it had some sort of politcal/sociological slant, but I'm not entirely sure. I was a bit buzzed and into the rat people.

Speaking of the rat people, they reminded me of C.H.U.D.'s, which, of course, can only be a good thing. The all-time classic, "C.H.U.D", takes place in New York and is about a bunch of deformend, cannibalistic, humanoid, underground dwelling vagrants, who lived in the sewers and ate people... "Mulberry Street" takes place in New York and is about an outbreak that turns people into a bunch of deformed, cannibalistic, humanoid, above-ground dwelling rat creatures who eat people. You know what they say, don't try to reinvent the wheel, ripping off classics is just paying homage to it. And, yes, I'm calling "C.H.U.D." a classic.

Side note here: C.H.U.D. needs to be remade...

My only issue with "Mulberry Street" was with the writing, which is a minor flaw when you're talking about horror. For example, I just read that one viewer thought that the girl coming back to find the boxer was his girlfriend and I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be his daughter. That storyline is weaved throughout the entire movie, so if two movie-goers have completely different opinions about who she even IS, you've got a problem. That's not to mention the fact that I had no clue of what the hell was going on with her at any point in the movie. She had a massive scar on her face that caused her plenty of psychological grief, yet it was never really explained. Granted, it was the fourth horror movie I saw in the span of around 11 hours, so I could've just missed that because I was up grabbing a beer, but that's beside the point. Also, for a movie that was about people turning into rats, it was a little short on humor. You really shouldn't take yourself too seriously when you have people mutating into vermen. I could go on, but I risk spoiling the intricacies of the plot, which was basically - people turn into rats, rat people eat normal people.

I did like it, though. Really. It just goes to show that you don't have to be David Mamet to write horror. In fact, they could've dumbed this down a bit, eased up on the plotty stuff and gone into the rat people a bit more. Ahh... save that for the sequel, "Mulberry Street 2: Matt the Rat".

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cloverfield - Snakes on a Plane or Blair Witch?

I'm not going to ridicule you if you don't know about J.J. Abrams "Cloverfield", which is scheduled to come out January 18th... but, come on. Having said that, all anyone really knows is that it's about a giant monster's attack on New York City - check out the trailer here.

P.S. - I LOVE the poster. (My favorite part of it is the subtle claw marks on the neck of The Statue of Liberty)

Now, as I'm more about films on the slightly lower end of the scale as far as budget's concerned, I'm not as much interested in the film itself as how it's being marketed. If you don't know, they've been keeping a really tight lid on any information about it. (When they auditioned actors, they didn't even read from the "Cloverfield" script, they read from other, old Abrams scripts.) On top of that, they've been keeping knowledge of the project a secret from the online community and only releasing information in little bits. What does this do? It gets the online community all abuzz about the film, especially this one because Abrams is the same guy who produces "Lost". They're minimizing the traditional advertising methods and concentrating more on timed release of information, plus other online, viral efforts. Both "Blair Witch Project" and "Snakes on a Plane" pulled similar marketing campaigns, one just a bit more successful than the other... but why did one fill the theatres and the other didn't do squat. (I have to admit, I liked "Snakes on a Plane", by the way) I can't tell you why, but I sure would like to know the answer.

The internet is the number one growing medium for advertising movies and what's best about that, is that anyone can afford it. Low-budget films aren't going to be able to afford a banner on the front page of Yahoo!, but you can make a Myspace page or create viral clips. The internet, as a marketing tool, evens the playing field a bit, as far as I'm concerned and indie filmmakers need to learn how to use it effectively. I wish I could tell you how, but I don't know... but I'm going to do my best to find out.

Until then, what the F is this "Cloverfield" all about, anyhow?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Patrick Bateman as John Connor

Ain't it Cool News calls it "Bruce Wayne as John Connor", but as far as I'm concerned - Christian Bale IS Patrick Bateman. Regardless, it looks like my personal favorite "American Psycho" will be starring in the fourth installment of "The Terminator", Arnie must be rolling over in his grave.

Read the article here.

Patrick Bateman as John Connor... I like it. However, "Terminator Salvation" is going to be directed by McG. Sorry, not as sold. I'm a huge Terminator fan, I even liked T3... a bit. Well, I liked the ending. However, "The Terminator" with a "Charlie's Angles" feel? I don't know.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New on DVD - November 20, 2007

There's a couple of DVD's that are worth checking out, including: "Zombie Town", "Darkness Surrounds Roberta", "I am Omega", "Hate 2 0" and even "Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming".

"Zombie Town", written and directed by Damon LeMay, is really the one worth checking out, mainly because it's a true independent horror. It's a kind of "Shaun of the Dead" meets every other low-budget zombie movie ever made. Parasites are the cause of the living dead in this case... Side note: the only time the I really liked the explanation of why the dead were coming back to life was "Return of the Living Dead", so let that be a lesson - you don't need to explain why the dead come back, they just do. Anyhow... these guys have been working on this film since 2005, so... do them a favor and check it out.

"Darkness Surrounds Roberta" is an American indie horror, shot entirely in Italy. According to the director, Joe Zaso, he "was trying to make a giallo film for the SAW crowd”. So, if you check out my last post, check this one out to see what those foreign horror investors are into. This flick is supposedly filled to the brim with violent murders, mayhem, decadent sex, and untold mystery. I like the odd 'giallo" film... and I like nudity, so... I'll check it out.

Our buddies over at 'The Asylum', the production company that basically rides the waves of other, big name movies, by bringing out films that are very similar ("Snakes on a Train", "AVH - Alien vs. Hunter", "Pirates of Treasure Island"... you get the idea) are coming out with "I am Omega", the blatant rip-off of "I am Legend". That's all I have to say... I love these guys, seriously.

"Hate 2 0" is another shot in Italy horror. I haven't seen it, but it's getting decent reviews. It's about a bunch of girls who go to fast on nothing but water at some cabin, when... it turns out that there's something in the water.

Then, finally, there's the made for TV sequel to "Stir of Echoes", "Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming". Hey ladies, it's got Rob Lowe in it...

New on DVD - November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tons of money for indie filmmakers, seriously

Apparently there's tons of money out there for indie filmmakers, or so says "Hollywood Today" in this article.

A weak currency will always attract filmmakers and producers from other countries, it's simple economics - they come over and pay a fraction of what it would cost to film in their home country. This has always worked against the U.S., driving Hollywood studio's to places like Canada, Mexico and overseas. However, I never really thought about foreign investors and distribution. Effectively, an investor from, say, the U.K. can now fund a $500K project in the U.S. for around half of what it would've cost him a year ago. So, what does this mean? I guess you're going to have to write scripts that'll gain the interest of overseas investor. What kinds of stories do overseas investors like? Good question, let me know when you figure it out... until you do, I'm going to write a script where a British police chief buys a haunted Italian Villa next to a lake that's inhabited by a huge, mutant lizard that steals children and regurgitates them out into a Chinese rock garden.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Time for a new Hollywood?

Could the writers strike spark a radical shift in how the Hollywood system works? Check out this post by Marc Andreesessen on his blog. Andreesessen's a smart guy, a lot smarter than me... If you're a computer nerd - he's one of the co-author's of Mosaic, a co-founder of Netscape, was the chair of Opsware and a co-founder of Ning. If you're not a computer nerd - he's a guy who's made a truckload of cash in the Silicon Valley.

Ever since I read "The Long Tail", which I recommend reading, I've come to the realization that the Hollywood studio system is going to collapse. Well, not collapse, but fundamentally change. What would be the catalyst to shake things up? Personally, I thought it would just be time. Very slowly, bit by bit, you would see small, independent filmmakers and studios starting to make some money, by utilizing the web and it would eventually, somewhere down the road, hit critical mass and change how things work. Now that indie movies can be made for nothing - shot on DV, cut on a PC, marketed on the web, but... can you pay a mortgage with the handful of DVD's you sold on Ebay? Not likely. However, according to Andreesessen, the writers strike may just be the straw that breaks this big girl's back and pushes us to a new system.

Now, a Hollywood studio system shifts towards a system like Silicon Valley's is a really good thing for almost everyone except the studios. It'll be a very good thing for people who are into horror, specifically low-budget horror. Not only will there be a flood of it into the market, every indie horror filmmaker worth his weight in prosthetic arms will have access to venture capital, as well as distribution channels for their finished products. Who's kidding who? Much like porn, horror has always broke ground on being as cheaply produced as possible, without losing much of its audience. So, if there's a bunch of financiers running around, ready to throw money at low-budget project, you can bet that a lot of them are going to be of the horror variety.

What can I say? I'm ready for it... make sure you are, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Just reading through Fangoria online and came across this article about "The Wild Man of the Navidad", a new horror from Duane Graves and Justin Meeks. It's their first feature, but they've had a few short films distributed on compilation DVD's from POPcinema. What's really cool about it is that Kim Henkel, co-scripter of Tobe Hooper’s classic "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", is one of the producers. Graves and Meeks studied film under Henkel at Texas A&M, who also produced their short films. Let that be a lesson, if you go to film school - abuse your professors, if not - abuse your contacts. Do whatever it takes to get your movies made!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New on DVD - November 13, 2007

Once again, it's slim pickin's today, but there are definitely a few DVD's worth mentioning.

"Jerome Bixby's The Man from Earth" isn't really a horror, per se, but it's getting a ton of buzz. It was shot on DV for next to nothing and is a great example of how to make a decent movie on no budget. I'm not sure which festivals it showed at, but this one's worth checking out... It was written by Jerome Bixby and was conceived in the 60's and finished on his deathbed, less than 10 years ago. It's about an impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman, which becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he is an immortal who has walked the earth for 14,000 years.

"Innocence" is a Canadian independent film that's been touring the festivals for the last few years. Once again, it's not really horror, although it has some horror-esque elements. "Innocence" takes place at a remote French boarding school in the woods where little girls arrive, and sometimes leave, in coffins.

There's a few others of interest, including "The Period", which is about a girl who has her period every day and it's a never ending Nile of Blood. "Rise of the Dead" is about a baby who accidentally dies, but then comes back to possess people and tries to kill his natural birth mother. "Creature from the Hillbilly Lagoon" actually screened at a few festivals. I think the title says everything you need to know before making a decision on this one. The last one I'll mention is "Welcome to the Jungle", about cannibals.

New on DVD - November 13, 2007:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Horror Screenplay Competitions

PAGE International Screenwriting Awards

Deadlines - Early Entry is Jan 31st, regular deadline is Mar 15th and late entry is Apr 15th

Link to Dead Harvey post on PAGE International Screenwriting Competition

The PAGE Awards were established by an alliance of Hollywood producers, agents, and development executives. Our goal: to discover the most exciting new scripts by up-and-coming writers from across the country and around the world. And due to the success of our winning writers, the PAGE International screenplay competition is rapidly becoming one of the most important sources for new screenwriting talent within the Hollywood community and worldwide.
It's a Catch 22. While producers and agents continually complain that they can't find good material, talented writers who live outside Los Angeles and have no "connections" within the movie industry find it virtually impossible to penetrate the barriers of the Hollywood system. Our objective is to bridge that gap – giving new screenwriters the opportunity to get their scripts into the hands of industry professionals, while also serving as a much-needed resource for Hollywood producers, agents, and studio execs who are searching for quality material.

ABOUT THEM - The administrators and judges of the PAGE International screenwriting contest are all working professionals in the film and television industry, and they, their partners and associates are always seeking fresh and innovative new projects. They're looking for a wide variety of material, so we encourage writers to submit all types of screenplays, and we present awards in ten different genre categories.

Link to their site

Link to "how to enter"

Link to "prizes"

Shriekfest Film Festival

Run by Denise Gossett and Todd Beeson, this is one the best horror fest's of the year and 2008 call for entries is currently open. Deadline will be somewhere around late June. (It's not up on the site right now) They recently announced a new relationship with C.A.A. (one of the biggest agencies in town) and their horror division. "C.A.A's horror division is actively searching out directors and screenwriters for representation. C.A.A will also be a finalist judge of all finalist films and screenplays."

AAA 'Access, Acclaim, Achievement' Screenplay Contest

This contest, sponsored by creativescreenwriting, not only looks like it's always accepting submissions, it looks like they just randomly give away prizes whenever they feel like it. They had winners from June '05, December '05, June '06, January '07 and February '08. They're currently looking for submissions for their 'Spring - Summer 2008 Contest'. It says they're sponsored by 'creativescreenwriting' (all one word) and I have no idea what the hell that is, but they have prize money and prize money is nice. Remember, "AAA" stands for Access, Acclaim, Achievement... but, I'm thinking it stands for "get me at the top of every listings page".

International Horror and Sci Fi Screenplay Competition

They're not accepting submissions now, but they will be some time in May (so, depending on today's date, click on the link, they may be accepting now). Screenplay winners not only win cash prizes, but they also get the opportunity to have their screenplays reviewed by major entertainment companies. Well, one major entertainment company, Lionsgate. The other two, Jaret Entertainment and Energy Entertainment are a slight step down.

Screamfest Horror Film Festival and Screenplay Competition

This is the largest horror film fest of the year. They were formed a few years back by film producers Rachel Belofsky and Ross Martin to give emerging filmmakers in horror and sci-fi a venue to showcase their work to people in the industry. They have a bunch of success stores and they're currently accepting submission, deadline is August 15, 2008.

Eerie Horror Screenplay Competition

This is part of the Eerie Horror Fest and they're now accepting submissions, final deadline is August 1, 2008. These guys are also one of the more respected names in this category... and what's really cool is that they also incorporate video games. So, you can submit your film, screenplay and video game all at the same time.

Extreme Screenplay Contest

To find exceptional screenplays to promote to Hollywood and to provide feedback to all entrants. They actually seem like they're more of a service than a contest, but... there is a contest. (Entry fee: $40)

Gotham Screen

They're not accepting now, but may be soon. They were set up by a group of Gotham based producers and productions companies and claim to be the newest addition to the international screenplay contest circuit. They're specifically targeted at up and coming writers who don't have agency or management representation yet but would otherwise have the talent and craft to make it in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Check the site for new dates, etc.

Screenplay Festival

They're open to all genres, specifically: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family and Thriller/Horror and they give awards and stuff, but I'm not going to go into to much depth, as it's not really about horror, although you can enter your horror script. I'm just thinking that what they think is good horror, may not be what I think is good horror. Either way, they're now accepting submissions, final deadline is October 1, 2008

Slamdance Horror Competition

Slamdance is another one of the big ones of the year. The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is dedicated to new writers, accepting screenplays in every genre, on any topic from every country around the world. Their mission is to bring attention to the most talented emerging screenwriters and introduce them to the industry. There's various reasons to enter Slamdance, including: $7,000 first prize, a bunch of prizes for the top 10 screenwriters and production companies, studios, agencies and managers request to read their top scripts. Final submission date is June 2, 2008

Worldfest - Houston Int'l Film Festival

It was April 11-20. However, it's one of those festivals that is open to EVERY category, like... there's an award for best Public Affairs program in Television and Cable Production, as well as best Horror/Thriller/Mystery Screenpaly. So, excuse me if I haven't been keeping a close eye on this one. I'll be sure to keep you posted NEXT year, though.

I don't have much info on the following competitions, as they're new to me. I'll get more and fix these up later. Until then, the links do work.

Terror Film Festival

Deadline is May 1, 2008.

H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival

I covered these guys in the film festival section, but I wasn't aware that the accepts screenplays, as well. So, there you go. You learn something new every day.

2008 Great Lakes Independent Film Festival

They boast as being one of the top 100 most popular film festivals in the world, has various horror screenplay categories. Final deadline is August 30, 2008.

Rhode Island International Film Festival

Another festival that's covered in our film festivals section, but not in our screenplay competitions. A lot of these guys have screenplay competitions, who knew? They're final deadline is July 15, 2008.

The Movie Deal! Screenplay Contest

Respected Industry Judges, Potential Review for Representation by a Hollywood Lit. Agency and A chance to Have your movie made. Final deadline is September 30, 2008.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New on DVD - November 6, 2007

New on DVD this week is a long list of movies that I haven't seen (but kind of want to) and a couple of low-budget films that I have seen, that should be checked out.

"Blood Car" was screened at a ton of horror film festivals over the last year or so and was a bit of a fan favorite. For a low-budget horror movie, I have to say... it's pretty good. For that reason only, do pick this up and support indie horror. "Amateur Porn Star Killer" is another one that you need to check out. It's extremely low-budget, it was filmed in something like 4 hours and it was made in 2004. It's finally coming out on DVD now after bouncing around a bit. Once again, for the sake of indie horror, check it out. The last indie horror that needs to be mentioned is "Horrors of War", an extremely ambitious film that screened at a whole bunch of festivals. I know very little about... but I'm definitely going to be checking it out soon. The plot? "Feeling the pressure from Allied advance, Hitler unleashes his secret weapons giving rise to a type of warfare the world has never seen." The weapons? Zombies, werewolves and other monsters.... like I said, check it out. Also, be sure to check out "She Wolves of the Wasteland", "Blood Monkey", "Werewolf in a Woman's Prison" and "The Slaughter".

New on DVD - November 6, 2007

Film Festival page is finally... kind of updated.

If you click on the "Film Festival" page, I've finally written up a bit of a blurb on each horror film festival, plus I've arranged them chronologically. My next step on that section is to start contacting all the festivals, so I can relay any news from any of them, as well as information about deadlines, etc. I'd like to encourage people to enter them, so it's best to find out as much as I can about each one...

Next up, I'm going to do the same with Screenwriting competitions.

I'm getting there, bare with me...