Saturday, September 28, 2013

Only now does it occur to me... PET SEMATARY

Only now does it occur to me...  that The Ramones were more deeply connected to PET SEMATARY than I previously imagined!

The Ramones don't wanna be buried in a Pet Sematary.

Most everybody knows that Ramones music ("Sheena is a Punk Rocker") plays during the infamous "Truck vs. John Hughes' Son" scene,

and that the Ramones jumped on the spectacular bandwagon of 80s horror/rock collaborations to record the end credits music "Pet Sematary" [thus joining Alice Cooper ("He's Back– The Man Behind the Mask" for FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI), Dokken ("Dream Warriors" for NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART III), W.A.S.P. ("Scream Until You Like It" for GHOULIES II), Mötley Crüe ("Shocker" for SHOCKER), The Dickies ("Killer Klowns" for KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE), and AC/DC ("Who Made Who" for MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE), among others!], but little did I know– until I finally read PET SEMATARY– that the Ramones are all over the book!

Page 54 sees a random radio appearance:  "Louis turned on the radio and dialed until he found the Ramones playing 'Rockaway Beach.' He turned it up and sang along– not well but with lusty enjoyment..."

Page 213 gives us one of Stephen King's famous rocker quotes:  "Hey-ho, let's go!     –The Ramones 

And starting on Page 232, "Hey-ho" becomes a typical Kingish recurring subliminal thought:  "What is it the Ramones say? Hey-ho, let's go!   He thought he wanted to laugh but there was no laugh in him..."  and so on– so clearly The Ramones were fated to be a part of the film!

As for the film itself– it's not nearly as good (or scary) as I remembered, and it pales in comparison to the book, which is one of King's more depressing efforts with a mean streak worthy of Richard Bachmann (that's a good thing!).  Furthermore, Fred "Herman Munster" Gwynne appears to be the only actual actor in the whole movie, and despite his best efforts he is outnumbered.

Herman Munster emotes.

And hey, look, it's a Stephen King cameo– always good for a chuckle!

King's big moment.

In closing, this would have made a kickass melancholy horror flick if it were directed by George A. Romero in the early 1980s.  Oh, well.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Praise for THE DEAD DREAM MACHINE!

The reviews are in!

Flavorpill says: "The Dead Dream Machine is a thoroughly entertaining compendium of dark skits ranging from a teenage horror spoof to a hilariously foul-mouthed puppet show to gothic burlesque ballets and aerialists... [Sean Gill's] creepy projections on an old red velvet curtain complete the Silencio-scene-in-Mulholland-Drive vibe."

Time Out New York names it a "Good Odds" pick: "a boundary-dissolving horror show, which includes magic, puppetry, aerialism and live song and dance... the imaginative Rachel Klein directs and choreographs."

Black Book Magazine says: "The show stars various luminaries from the alternative stages of New York City... The whole shebang is directed and choreographed by the amazing Rachel Klein... this is amazing. You must go."

City Guide says:  "...this Brooklyn-based show pumps the horror genre through a mad-scientist’s dream-extracting device, spinning out musical numbers, a zombie dance, aerialists, puppetry and assorted luminaries from the City’s alternative stages – all profoundly nightmarish."

Broadway Spotted says: "... the best parts of old school horror movies [are] the comedy, and when Machine connected to that, it was gold... with Halloween coming up it is just the right kind of show to get you into the spooky spirit!"

There are still three more weekends to go– get your tickets here, watch the trailer I made here, and get more information here!  Our luminary guest shamans for this weekend include Mx Justin Vivian Bond (September 26th), Lady Rizo (September 27th), and Michael Musto (September 28th)!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Television Review: DESPERATION (2006, Mick Garris)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 131 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew:  Tom Skerritt (ALIEN, CHEERS), Ron Perlman (THE NAME OF THE ROSE, QUEST FOR FIRE, HELLBOY), Charles Durning (SHARKY'S MACHINE, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS), Steven Weber (MICK GARRIS' THE SHINING, WINGS), Henry Thomas (Elliott in E.T., CLOAK & DAGGER), Matt Frewer (MAX HEADROOM, THE STAND), Annabeth Gish (MYSTIC PIZZA, NIXON), and Kelly Overton (THE RING TWO, TRUE BLOOD).  Based on the novel and adapted by Stephen King.  Music by Nicholas Pike (CRITTERS 2, CAPTAIN RON).   Edited by Patrick McMahon (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, WILD PALMS).
Tag-line: "In this town, there are no accidents."
Best one-liner:  "I see you're an organ donor.  Are you sure that's wise?"

A Stephen King adaptation directed for television by Mick Garris– you're probably wondering why I'm even reviewing this at all.  We already know it's bad, right?  Well, sure, Constant Reader, you're right– but let's just say this one's for the love of the game. 

Author's Note:  The following review will be written in a style vaguely resembling Stephen King's.  That means it will be peppered with old-timey patois, sudden and ridiculous jargon, a smattering of rhymes, absurd foreshadowing, head-scratching use of curse words, parenthetical presentation of subliminal thoughts, and maybe a few 1950s bullies.  This is all good-natured ribbing on my part– I love the man and still read a few of his novels each year.  In fact, I read DESPERATION this summer, and while it felt a little bit like an oddly churchy TWILIGHT ZONE episode peppered with elements of IT and THE DARK TOWER, I still enjoyed it and against my better judgment found myself wanting to see the movie.  And so follows this review.  Here goes:

I'm going down, down, down, down
I'm going down, down, down, down
–Bruce Springsteen

Mick Garris– the Grand Wazoo of bad, made-for-television Stephen King adaptations– has struck again with a film that isn't all bad, although it mostly is.  Spinning the tale of a demon-creature named "Tak" who has emerged from a strip mine and begun to terrorize, possess, and murder the citizens and visitors of a small Nevada town, DESPERATION succeeds in building a modicum of atmosphere

DESPERATION'S DEAD DOGS WELCOME YOU


REDRUM DOG MURDER GOD

only to shatter it with bad acting, mawkish piano riffs (from the composer of CAPTAIN RON!), bloated pacing, and a result that feels less than the sum of its parts– the sort of adaptation where afterward you even begin second-guessing your fondness for the source material.

When I read it, I imagined DESPERATION's primary antagonist (Collie Entragian, a possessed, psychotic brute of a local cop) as Gary Busey.  I almost couldn't imagine anyone else doing justice to this fusion of "country boy" and "short-circuiting demonic madman."  Of course, as it turned out, Ron Perlman plays the part– and he does a pretty damn good job, all things considered.  Any movie where Perlman accuses people of being "unisex swingles" can't be all bad. 

He's the kind of character actor who doesn't necessarily require "direction" to deliver a fine performance, though he wages war throughout against the cringe-worthy crazy-person dialogue (adapted by King himself) and, no, he doesn't always win.

 
 
"I mean, how can you sing 'Puff the Magic Dragon' without Peter, Paul, and Mary?" 

But sometimes Ron Perlman doesn't give a tin shit about bad dialogue, and he can rise above it like a bad-gunky yum yum boogersnot mothersmucker bringin' death to all shitters of the world (all of those terms actually come from different King novels –SG), like in this insane moment when he shakes Tom Skerritt's hand LIKE HE CHRISTING MEANS IT.




Wait– Tom Skerritt!?  I wasn't told you'd be joining us, Mr. Skerritt– and dressed a bit like a 50s bully, to boot!  Skerritt plays a popular novelist and 'Nam vet who's passing though Desperation for a
(acting paycheck)
 book he's writing about a cross-country motorcycle journey, a kind of pastiche of Steinbeck's TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY called "TRAVELS WITH HARLEY."  Unaware that he would play Ulysses S. Grant seven years later in 2013's FIELD OF LOST SHOES, Skerritt seems at first enthusiastic, then fatigued, and finally "phoning it in."  And that is your right, Tom Skerritt:  that is your right.  Tak!

And hey, look who else showed up:

Stephen "the less-talented William Fichtner" Weber, who played Jack Torrance in the adaptation of THE SHINING that Stephen King prefers (hint:  it's not the Kubrick).

Stephen Weber does a style of acting that's very distinct
(bad acting)
and I can't really think of any way to describe it
(sitcom acting)
but it's worthy of discussion.  It's almost on the tip of my tongue
(schmacting?)
and if I could remember what it was called
(bad schmacting)
 I'd share it with you.  I really and truly would.
Well, at least DESPERATION finally affords us the opportunity to see Stephen Weber 
regale us with his exceptional shadow puppet abilities.  Kabam, kabam, kabam alama ding dong.

And you didn't really think we were going to see a Mick Garris movie without Matt "MAX HEADROOM" Frewer, did you?

While I've referred to Garris as "a one-man Matt Frewer employment agency," I've really got nothing against Frewer, who's a fine character actor in his own right.  Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out whether Frewer's a poor man's James Rebhorn, or if Rebhorn's a poor man's Frewer.   I suppose it doesn't matter.  Yes, indeedy.

As always, there's an insufferable kid, cut from the mold of, say, MR. BELVEDERE's Rob Stone.

In most King adaptations, there exists the possibility of an insufferable kid, but the non-Garris films have actually had a pretty decent track record (Danny Lloyd in THE SHINING, Drew Barrymore in FIRESTARTER and CAT'S EYE, Corey Haim in SILVER BULLET, the whole crew in STAND BY ME, etc.).  However, in mishandling child actors and embracing the cornier aspects of King's canon, the whole grisly affair begins to slide into Hallmark movie territory– which is why, for example, Kubrick didn't end his SHINING adaptation with Jack Nicholson's ghost cheering on his son at his college graduation (as was the case in Garris' "approved" version).

Speakin' of child actors, we have E.T.'s Henry Thomas!

Not much to say here.  I'm not going to say anything bad about Henry Thomas.  Love CLOAK & DAGGER.  Yes, sirree.

Well now, hold on one goddamned gadoodlin' minute– who's this, hitting the hooch, there?

Why, it's gruff, potbellied, character actor extraordinaire, Charles Durning– professional aficionado of growling the word "goddamned" and part-time member of Sharky's Machine

He's not given a whole helluva lot to do, but he gets to fight a mountain lion and pretends to ignore Steven Weber's shadow-puppetry, so let's just give him that, shall we?

Also, I have to give Mr. Garris and his crew credit for some nice practical effects, from face-rippin' gore (on network television, no less!)
 
to tarantulas crawling out of the mouth of a prosthetic Ron Perlman.
NOM NOM NOM

It's pretty refreshing after the CGI atrocities we've witnessed in Garris flicks from the "Hand of God" in THE STAND to the army of killer hands in QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY to the "Killer Topiary" THE SHINING '97.  So... well done on that front!

And to you fans of TV's LOST– a series that borrowed much from a number of King novels, from THE STAND to THE DARK TOWER series– we have a finale that prefigures a number of LOST tropes, with Tom Skerritt facing off in an ancient temple against a shape-shifting, manipulative smoke monster with an aversion to dynamite



and a descent far below the earth to plug up a deadlight-y hole of mystical energy.  I guess we should be thankful it doesn't end with people hugging in a church?  (Though it certainly comes close enough!)

In closing, I think it's simply impossible to manage a great adaptation of one of King's sprawling, spiritual epics– all the best ones are either based on considerably shorter, more focused stories (CARRIE, THE MIST, CHRISTINE, STAND BY ME, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) or take brilliant or hilariously absurd liberties with the source material (THE SHINING, THE RUNNING MAN).  If only Romero had done his fabled adaptation of THE STAND, back in the day.

Now, if this review really was a Stephen King epic, there'd be a couple of false endings, an epilogue, some old-timey wisdom, and everybody would forget about
(this movie)
all the misadventures that had befallen them.  But it's late, and I think I've said enough.  Two stars, DESPERATION– but ya earned 'em.  Boogedy-boo!

–Sean Gill

Sunday, September 22, 2013

GIRLS BEFORE SWINE today at the Coney Island Film Festival

Girls Before Swine, a short film I directed with Rachel Klein, will be screening today as an official selection at the 2013 Coney Island Film Festival.    We'll be screening as a part of Program 14 at the Coney Island Sideshow (1208 Surf Avenue) Sunday, September 22nd at 4:00 p.m.  Tickets are $7 and are available at the box office today.  For more details, go here.
 
It stars Aimee DeLong, Jillaine Gill, Meghan Holland, Joe Stipek, Robyn Nielsen, Scooter Pie, David F. Slone, Michael Porsche, Brian Ferree, and Megan O' Connor.  Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DEAD DREAM MACHINE opens to previews tonight, September 18th!

Details HERE and tickets HERE!  I hope some of you can make it out.

(More reviews forthcoming– it's been a busy couple of weeks.  Don't worry, I have plans for the Halloween season!)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

DEAD DREAM MACHINE opens next week (September 18th)

Here are the details for my latest show, THE DEAD DREAM MACHINE, for which I did the sound and video art design.  Tickets can be purchased HERE and more info is available HERE!

RAGING SQUID INK and ERIC SCHMALENBERGER
present
Jake Thomas’ THE DEAD DREAM MACHINE


with video art & sound design by Sean Gill, and directed & choreographed by Around the World in 80 Days’ Rachel Klein, who has been called “clever” by the New York Post, “inventive” by Theatermania, and “a new generation’s Julie Taymor” by Woman Around Town.

La Luz (135 Thames Street, Brooklyn, NY)
Wednesday, September 18–Sunday, October 13
Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m.

In an abandoned theater on the outskirts of town, an experiment is being conducted--one which extracts dreams. But if this insane enterprise works, what dreams may come? Mad scientists, monstrous killers, tyrannical royalty, government witches and nightclub occultists (and not one damn vampire or zombie) explode forth in this crazed horror anthology that incorporates song, dance, puppetry, aerial, magic and more to build an out of body theatrical experience.


Monday, September 2, 2013

GIRLS BEFORE SWINE screening on September 22nd at the Coney Island Film Festival

Girls Before Swine, a short film I collaborated on with director Rachel Klein, will be screening as an official selection at the 2013 Coney Island Film Festival.    We'll be screening as a part of Program 14 at the Coney Island Sideshow on Sunday, September 22nd at 4:00 p.m.  Tickets are $7 and are available here.  For more details on the festival as a whole and a special screening of THE WARRIORS, go here.


Girls Before Swine– Trailer from Sean Gill on Vimeo.