Anyone interested in auditioning for a horror movie in the Minnesota area should check out this opportunity. Simply follow the instructions below and let them know Conrad Zero sent you.
I’m not related to the filmmakers in any way, nor do I receive any compensation for forwarding this info, although I’d certainly be interested in hearing about your experiences if this opportunity pans out for you.
Specify which role(s) you are interested in and an audition script will be sent to you.
Auditions will be held in Minneapolis the week of June 10th.
Logline: Trapped in an abandoned insane asylum, five college students and the rogue pharmacists who abducted them must band together against a supernatural threat.
The college students
Jack Ramsey: Late teens to mid 20s, Caucasian or Hispanic, Slim Build
Jack is a cold loner who\”™s drugged and trapped in an unfathomable situation with people he’s only known for five days. Distrustful and rebellious, Jack is calculating and thinks long-term, but he also tries to do the right thing. The main thing he wants is answers.
Vanessa: Early to mid 20’s, Caucasian, Curvy Build
Vanessa is a big fish in a small pond, Vanessa is gorgeous in a sultry way and is used to being the princess. She is, like Jack, calculating, but she has a manipulative streak and seeks personal gain and security above all else. Grant is her boyfriend and Jaime is her best friend.
Corey: Late teens to early 20s, African American, Average Build
Corey is soft-hearted and slightly clingy, Corey is best friends with Grant and is practically incapable of making decisions on his own. He is sensitive to others\”™ needs and is adept at smoothing situations over. He has a slight attraction to Jack, whether platonic or sexual is ambiguous and up to interpretation.
Grant: Early to mid 20s, Caucasian, Athletic Build
Grant is the leader of the clique, headstrong and physically fit. He is determined to get from point A to point B and is not distracted by peripherals. He is neutral toward Jack, has a tit-for-tat relationship with his girlfriend Vanessa, is protective of Corey, and abhors Jaime.
Jaime: Late teens to mid 20s, Asian, Slim Build
Jaime is a free spirit and supposedly in touch with her spiritual side, Jaime is high on instinct, low on common sense. She agrees with everything Vanessa says, but thinks that Jack is more intuitive than he lets on.
Heather: Late 20s to mid 30s, Caucasian, Athletic Build
As head of surveillance, Heather has a militaristic mind. She is strategic and methodical and used to being in control. While she has respect for Jack’s ingenuity, she is not one to easily be swayed. She has intense feelings for Hanson and their relationship is based on extreme protectiveness.
Hanson: Late 20s to mid 30s, Caucasian, Athletic Build
Hanson is in charge of ground operations. He is clever, but only sees short-term whereas his girlfriend, Heather is more a bigger picture person. He is an equipped soldier and follows superior’s orders, though he isn’t completely ignorant of the goings-on.
Dr. Broward: Mid 40s to early 60s, African American, Average Build
Dr. Broward is in charge of the drug trials. He is very devoted to his work, but the deals he has made to make this test possible are shrouded in mystery.
Agent Trapper: Early to mid 30s, Caucasian or Middle Eastern, Muscular Build
Agent O: Late 20s to mid 30s, Asian, Slim Build
Nurse Li: Late 20s to early 40s, Asian, Average Build
Anne: Mid to Late teens, Caucasian, Slim Build
Anne is a projection that only Jack can see. While it’s clear she wants to help him and the other students escape the insane asylum, her methods are often unorthodox.
The Bandaged Doctor: Early 30s, Caucasian, Average Build
Imagine a cross between the action of Fight Club, the mystery of recent Sherlock Holmes films, a splash of horror a’la Seven, the darkness of The Crow, and maybe a dash of paranoia from Angel Heart or Jacob’s Ladder…
I know, you can’t really imagine such a thing. So stop stretching your imagination and go see The Raven starring John Cusack as the enigmatic granddaddy of all horror authors, Edgar Allan Poe.
I haven’t seen a bad John Cusack film yet, and he continues to impress even though he still looks, sounds and acts like John Cusack, and you half expect him to whip out a boom box and hold it overhead like he did in Say Anything (1989). All the same, he does a great job as Edgar Allan Poe…that is to say, a drunken lush of an author-slash-suffering-artiste.
The sound was wonderfully loud and clear. I usually make mental notes about the score/soundtrack throughout movies, but The Raven kept me so engaged that I never had time to notice the music. Obviously, this is a good thing, because bad background music will pull me right straight out of most films, and that didn’t happen here. Till the end credits anyway, see below.
The horror that occurs in The Raven is the top-shelf psychological stuff crossed with enough really-real gore to set a disturbing mood and enough mystery and mind-screwingly, insidious, underlying darkenss to keep you biting your nails right up until the end.
You needn’t be well-versed in the works of Edgar Allen Poe to appreciate this film. I doubt there’s any historical accuracy in this, but it’s a good primer of Poe’s stories for those who don’t know much about them. Many of his classics come up throughout the movie, wonderfully woven into the actual plot by a serial killer who murders his victims in the method of Poe’s writings: The Pit and the Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado, (which I’ve been apparently pronouncing wrong all these years), Murders in the Rue Morgue, Masque of the Red Death, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Raven of course…
Don’t try to solve the mystery. I’m not spoiling anything by telling you there aren’t enough clues shown in The Raven for you to solve it. In fact, I’m saving you the trouble. Just keeping up with the plot will keep you busy. Actually, the film attempts to duplicate the hectic pacing and feel of the recent series of Sherlock Holmes films, with limited success.
The denouement seemed like a “we’re about to run out of film!” rush-job. While it provided ample closure after a marginal climax, it would have done better as a cookie; a bonus feature shown after the movie credits.
At the very start of the end credits there was some annoying music and some metallic-animated-thing that that was so utterly bizarre that if it didn’t actually say “The Raven” in it, I’d swear the projectionist screwed up the reels. My guess is that someone got a new After Effects Plugin. It belonged in a music video behind a Tool song remixed into dubstep. Whatever it was, it did not belong in this movie.
If you like your fiction as dark as your coffee, and if you enjoy John Cusack, then you owe it to yourself to check out The Raven while it’s still in theaters.
A hefty package showed up today from Sam’s Dot Publishing. It was no surprise that my preordered copies of Sky-Tinted Waters had arrived.
The second MNSpec compilation was supposed to be completed in time for this year’s MiniCON, but the printing was delayed. Just as well, because I wasn’t able to make it to MiniCON this year. But the book is out NOW, and I’m told the release party will happen at CONvergence 2012.
The cover art for Sky-Tinted Waters looks great. It was a rush to open the box and see the lush, multi-colored landscape, Ethereal Beach II by Mitchell Davidson Bentley. Nice work.
Opening to the table of contents, I had to laugh.The title of my story, Pinky the Invisible Flying Pony vs the Giant, Carnivorous, Poisonous, Exploding Spider-Leeches took up three whole lines of the Table of Contents! And I was pleased to see “…an invisible flying pony” get special mention on the back cover.
Little did I realize, those extra lines would be taken back…plus interest! As I read through Pinky…etc, I was disappointed to find that seven of the eight section breaks were missing from the story. The text just ran together, which affected the pacing and obscured the location changes, making the story confusing. I’ve noticed this same problem in several other stories in the anthology, so I’m guessing it’s some kind of conversion error and not an editing decision.
Unfortunately, there was no ARC (advance release copy) to proofread for typos or errors like this. I’ve hand-written the section breaks into the books that I’m personally handing out. Oh well, it’s a small price to pay for taking up so much space in the table of contents!
If you pre-ordered a copy of Sky-Tinted Waters from me, I’ll get you a signed copy next time I see you. And stay tuned for updates about the upcoming book release party at this year’s CONvergence.
This episode is “Killing Off Your Characters: Q & A with the Happy Coroner.” Struggling to kill off your characters in interesting ways? Want to get the bloody details right? Never fear! We bring in the wonderful and charming Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a Minnesota Regional Coroner in a department that serves 8 different counties in the metro area.
I am legally required to tell you that “I was invited to a pre-release screening of The Devil Inside by Paramount”, which is how I’m able to review it before it’s technically released in theaters.
Good thing too, otherwise you might actually have gone to see it.
I am not legally required to tell you that I actually watched the movie as research for the story I’ve been working on about Demons and Demonslayers, called Evil Looks Good.
I feel ethically required to tell you that the movie is a joke, and it actually makes The Blair Witch Project look good.
Review of The Devil Inside
Believe me, before seeing The Devil Inside, you’ll want to get a few spirits into your own body. I recommend Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. One quart should be sufficient.
First of all, for a movie about demonic possession, it’s about as frightening as tepid queso dip. Here’s a hint to producers wanting to make a horror movie: if you feel the need to have something jump out (be it person, car, dog, cat, bird or whatever) to keep the suspense up… guess what? Your writing sucks. Try adding suspense to your story, and you won’t have to rely on stuff-jumping-out-at-you tactics as a crutch for your lame writing.
Also, is there some law that requires indie films to be shot as a “documentary”? Sure it worked great for Trollhunter, but no one fell for that bullshit with The Blair Witch Project, and no one’s falling for it with The Devil Inside. This story would have been much, much scarier if it were scripted, filmed and cut together like a regular horror film, using the exact same resources. Remember, there’s not much difference between a “documentary” and a “mockumentary”.
The heart of the story was not bad, but parts of the story were so bad that they were able to actually detract from the movie and scream “SCRIPTED”. For example, why did the cameraman follow the priest to a baptism which had NOTHING to do with the plot of the movie? Ah, that’s right, otherwise we would have missed an IMPORTANT PLOT POINT. Wow. Good thing the cameraman was there, or the screenplay writer(s) would have had to write that plot info into the script some other way. Who has time for that?
Why did a mom have to move her daughter to the basement of the house before calling the exorcists? Guess her daughter’s bedroom had too much lighting and not enough grungy textures and peeling paint in it for an exorcism. No, I’m not kidding. Moved her demonically-possessed daughter to a bed in middle of the fucking basement. Wow, good thing, because that dingy, poorly-lit basement was much creepier than any kid’s bedroom.
And the ending? The audience laughed out loud. And I heard several people actually say out loud: “Oh no they did-int!” and “Aw, hell no!” and there was even one “That’s it? Really? You gotta be shittin’ me!” Wish I were kidding. It was the cheapest, “We’re out of time, so let’s wrap this up! Cut! Print! Where’s the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey?” that I’ve ever seen. And the end credits were an exercise (pun intended) in patience, crawling across the screen slower than the credits in Pray For Daylight, and that had to be a challenge.
This Review of The Devil Inside Is Not, I Repeat, NOT Sanctioned By The Catholic Church
So much for the review. The movie sucked. But what I really want to talk about is the marketing genius of the promotional/street team who were on hand to introduce the movie The Devil Inside, because they were far, far more intelligent than the screenplay writers.
Just before the film started, three prim, young people stood up in front of the audience and made an announcement. A clean-cut kid dressed as a priest, wearing a banded collar and flanked by two Polly-pureheart-puritan girls. He produced a notecard, and in a head-down, self-conscious monotone, (soliciting some “louder” and “we can’t hear you” responses from the audience) he read off some gibberish about how he did not condone the film, and he would be available for discussion after the film.
Now these three were even more fake than film itself, if that were possible. He never said he was a priest, but that was obvious. No priests are that young, and they aren’t shy in front of crowds. They introduce themselves by name, and by religious branch, including the location of their place of worship. They know to project their voice. And they don’t read off notecards.
And the Polly Purehearts? They ain’t that pure. I checked.
But, the very idea of having people dressed as religious authority stand up in front of the entire theater audience and tell them that they DID NOT CONDONE your decision to watch the movie? That they did not endorse the movie content?
Sheer marketing genius? Definitely. But I can do better.
Here’s a Million Dollar Idea:
If you want people to remember your movie, you should have “plants” in the audience – members of the street team disguised as regular theater patrons, who scream, puke, and/or pass out at strategic moments during the film. I could have slept through The Devil Inside, but if someone near me barfed or passed out? Now there’s something to blog about!
Remember, you heard it here first. Drop me a thank-you if this idea works out for you.
And don’t waste your time with The Devil Inside. If you want to see a real horror movie, check out The Thing remake instead.
Of all the re-imaginings of Lewis Carrol’s classic, Alice In Wonderland, my favorite is a video game released in 2000 called American McGee’s Alice. The game took the Alice mythos and gave it a dark and disturbing twist.
In 2011, American McGee released a followup game: Alice – Madness Returns. Either Mr. McGee has grown less conceited or more tasteful, because he left his own name out of the game title this time.
Dark Fiction Author Carole Lanham let me preview her upcoming collection of dark fiction short stories titled The Whisper Jar.
From the Publisher
“I do not know what you have done, but put your mouth right here. Confess your crime to this fruit jar as though it were God’s ear.” ~ from The Whisper Jar
Some secrets are kept in jars, others, in books.
Some are left forgotten in musty rooms, others, created in old barns.
Some are brought about by destiny, others, born in blood.
Secrets, they are the hidden heart of this collection. In these pages, you will encounter a Blood Digger who bonds two children irrevocably together; a young woman who learns of her destiny through the random selection of a Bible verse; and a boy whose life begins to reflect the stories he reads.
Most importantly, though, if someone should ever happen to offer you a Jilly Jally Butter Mint, just say No!”
Review of The Whisper Jar
[2016 Update – The cover has changed. I’ve left the original review text here. -Z]
The cover shows a red eye peering through an ornate door/windowframe. This looks great, and a touch unnerving. Definitely fitting for a work of dark fiction, but I was disappointed that it wasn’t more directly related to the title itself. I would rather have seen a visual of an actual Whisper Jar.
The Whisper Jar consists of nine stories:
The Whisper Jar
The Good Part
The Blue Word
Maxwell Treat’s Museum of Torture for Young Girls and Boys
Friar Garden, Mister Samuel, and the Jilly Jally Butter Mints
The Reading Lessons
The Adventures of Velvet Honeybone, Girl Werewuff
The Forgotten Orphan
The running theme of this collection is secrets, and none of the stories capture this theme more succinctly than the first story/poem, also named The Whisper Jar. This is a riveting story/poem written (in rhyming couplets) about people capturing their secrets in glass jars, and the troubles that follow… A quick and fun read, this first story definitely piqued my interest right out of the gate.
Another delightful poem/story is The Adventures of Velvet Honeybone, Girl Werewuff – a short, rhymed couplet that gives a new twist to the classic Red Riding Hood mythos.
The stories Keepity Keep and Friar Garden, Mister Samuel, and the Jilly Jally Butter Mints both have a Brothers Grimm feel to them. Keepity Keep is about a fairy discovered by two brothers. (Or two brothers discovered by a fairy, if you like.) The contrast of this innocent fairy and these two nearly-innocent brothers is fun to explore. I enjoyed Friar Garden… but it was tough for me to put my finger on exactly what was real in the story and what was imaginary. Actually, I think I enjoyed Friar Garden…because it was tough for me to put my finger on exactly what was real in the story and what was imaginary.
The Good Part is the highlight of the collection for me. A wicked, incestuous story reminiscent of Let Me In but set in the deep South. The story highlights the relationship between coming-of-age teens and coming-of-age vampires. The Reading Lessons is another awesome addition of teenage angst, lust, and doubt about who-is-really-in-control. These two stories work so well because Carole’s writing really sells the characters. They are disturbingly real, and so are their actions.
The Blue Word is a post-apocalyptic genre tale with a clever twist. But I don’t want to tell too much here, lest I spoil the surprise. Suffice to say, the story twist in The Blue Word would make this story a great Twilight Zone episode.
Carol Lanham’s stories flirt with relationships, sexuality, paranormality, brutality and even reality. The stories are glimpses into dark places and alternative realities which never go to full-on Horror, but there is at least one implied death. Plenty of sexuality, but very little actual sex.
The Short Story
The Whisper Jar blends dark and sometimes paranormal situations into the really-real everyday world with clever writing, an Edgar Allen Poe sensibility, and a splash of Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things. Carole Lanham writes in her own carefree but intuitive voice. Audiences will slip into these short stories as easily as they would a warm bath, only to be surprised at how quickly the waters deepen. Those looking for a variety of dark character studies, whimsical situations and disturbing relationship dynamics will enjoy The Whisper Jar.