Cynema

Cynema

How Cynicism is Killing Entertainment

DEAD.TV: The Slasher Film Grows Up

Venerated film critic Roger Ebert gets the credit with coining the phrase "Dead Teenager Movie" for the slasher sub-genre. When the time came around to doing a new film on the heels of 6 Degrees of Hell, the Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp type of killer film was the last thing on my list.

 

DVD cover art for the November wide release of 6 Degrees

Our financier wanted a Friday the 13th kind of movie. There was the demand for gore, nudity and all the hallmarks that go with this type of picture. The knee jerk response was, "that's not the kind of picture I want to write, let alone make." I was then told I would be expected to direct it as well or there would be no deal. Since any indie filmmaker worth their salt will tell you, the goal is to continue working, I agreed to the project, if anything to keep the bills paid and the lights on.
 
So this is where I could easily be a hypocrite since the overall theme of this blog is against cynical filmmaking. By accepting the terms outlined above for a paycheck, there are few other words aside from cynical that can be used. However I tried to look at it as a challenge and the hope was to possibly do something different, if not the run of the mill slasher Dead Teenager Movie.
 

 

It's all been done: the nudity, the over the top splatter murders, the hulking masked maniacs or reverse sex killers...power tools, machetes, chicks smashed in sleeping bags...nothing new under the sun or on the camp ground. As with 6 Degrees, I also did not want to move it into misogyny. I sat down at the computer and tried to do something else but keep the main things the fans of the genre want.

 

The goal was to go more mainstream this time. The Fields, my first film, while successful could not be classified as mainstream. Even with Cloris Leachman and Tara Reid, the film was not quite horror and not quite drama. The second film, 6 Degrees of Hell with Corey Feldman stepped firmly into horror territory. If you read our blog entry on the kind of film 6 Degrees is, again I could not call it mainstream. 6 Degrees appeals to the real horror fan who is familair with names like Vincent Price, Lugosi, Universal Golden Era, Hammer, Lee, Cushing, etc. Leanly directed by upstart young director Joe Raffa, the film hits every mark I could have hoped for, but will not be the mainstream thousand theater type of horror. It's for people who "get it" and will be lost on much of a generation force fed CGI-laden remakes.

 

A publicity still for the creepy and loving horror tribute, 6 Degrees of Hell
 
Fans expect twist endings. The staple of the 80s twist ending was the sudden resurrection of the killer in the final seconds of the film. The eye snaps open, the hand moves or the survivor is suddenly snuffed and that worked for awhile. The best horror also works as a social commentary. George Romero's 1979 Dawn of the Dead comes to mind as a critique of our consumerism as well as the redneck, animalistic "civilization" we degraded to. The issue with the Friday the 13th series is that aside from Corey Feldman's Tommy Jarvis, there really isn't a single stand out young character audiences remember, let alone care about or identify with. Yes, there's Jason and Mrs. Vorhees, but they're villains. When you think of the constant array of counselors and young folks parading along the death march, few can name character names or really care too much about them.
 

Sleepaway Camp killer, Felissa Rose all grown up and now a counselor with her campers onset of Dead.tv

 

There had to be real characters, people with backgrounds and some you're gonna root for and others you hope get it in the worst way. There had to be solid character development and most of all a good story instead of the "kids gather at a camp/cabin in the woods and die one by one." It was not going to be Ten Little Indians with blood and boobs.

 

I wrote the film for Felissa Rose, the cult actress best known for her mind bending ending in Sleepaway Camp. I saw that film when I was 15 and it so freaked out my date, she had to rethink our relationship if this was the kind of horror movie I thought was fun. Since then I wanted to put Felissa Rose in a movie and I wrote the part of Rachel Steele solely for her. Thanks to associate producer Joshua Emerick, I got the script into her hands and she took the part and was Rachel in every way I could have hoped.

 

Felissa Rose as Camp Sunfish counselor, Rachel Steele in a scene from Dead.tv

 

Casting was important. Danielle Harris is a strong female figure in the horror community. Her role as sheriff Donlyn Eldridge was something different for her and it was hoped that would appeal to her. It did and we locked her in. While there are female victims in Dead.tv, the guys are up for slaughter as well and the killer(s) may be both sexes. This is NOT a "Binders full of women" horror film concerned with degrading females. In fact it's one of the things we turned on its ear.

 

Danielle Harris with Eric Roberts in a scene from Dead.tv

 

Eric Roberts rounds out the cast as horror director Julian Barrett. His legendary status as an Oscar nominee for Runaway Train, his roles in The Pope of Greenwich Village, The Dark Knight and The Expendables...he was at the top of the list for the role. Roberts laid back LA style, his light Southern twang and his silver fox appeal brought a legitimacy and uniqueness to a horror film like this.

 

Oscar nominee Eric Roberts in a scene from Dead.tv

 

Dead.tv works. If you're a fan of blood and gore, relax...Cleve Hall, SyFy Channel's Monster Man designed and executed the makeup FX. No CGI here, folks. Real, practical makeup gags, lots of blood and violence and all the things fans of the slasher want and will expect.

 

Cleve "Monster Man" Hall did the makeup FX for Dead.tv

 

All of the expected things are here but there's more. The slasher film has grown up, this isn't your father's 80s killer movie. Instead it has a slamming take on the reality TV obsession and the Cult of Celebrity and the voyeuristic society we have become. The line between entertainment and reality has never been more blurred...bloody.

 

Yep...the quasi homoerotic lesbian suntan lotion scene is in Dead.tv and lots more hijinks...and terror.

 

The film's website: www.deadtvmovie.com Follow it on Twitter: @deadtvmovie

 

A smart script, solid and detailed performances and top notch makeup effects makes Dead.tv a more mainstream and wide appealing horror that dissembles Ebert's Dead Teenager Movie and approaches the sub-genre from a whole new angle.

 

So what would you do for your fifteen minutes of fame?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prometheus: Somewhere Over the Prequel

THERE BE SPOILERS HERE. BE WARNED. BE WARNED. SPOILERS.

 

Ridley Scott and his creation that "isn't a prequel" to itself.

 

Damon Lindeloff is full of it--along with his cohorts on the "Lost" TV show; lied for seasons saying the island wasn't purgatory and everyone was dead, he does it again with Prometheus:

 

PROMETHEUS IS A PREQUEL TO ALIEN.    Period. If you refuse to believe it, you did not see the original 1979 film or you don't know half as much about it as you thought  you did. None of that  fanboy studio parroting "now wait...there are strands of Alien's DNA in it but..."     

 

There's so much Alien DNA it's a alien porn facial.

 

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- The film uses the exact same HR Giger bio-mechanical/sexual art design:

HR Giger's concept art for the 1979 film, Alien.

 

- The company financing the exploration is Weyland. It will become known as Weyland-Yutani in the subsequent Alien films, with the second film, Aliens creating the "Building Better Worlds" company tagline

 

- The horseshoe shaped alien ship is the exact model in the 1979 film:

 

 

- The Space Jockey(s), known in Prometheus as "Engineers" are the same discovered in the derelict spaceship in the 1979 Alien film

Top: Prometheus. Bottom: Alien

 

- The alien creatures morph with each victim closer to the original 1979 Alien design and if you watch to the end credits you are either in serious denial or did not see the 1979 Alien to see what is birthed in that crashed craft. The creature that attacks the "Engineer" in the final moments of the film is a giant precursor to the "Facehugger" that will become so famous in 1979. Oh yeah...the eel-like creatures in the derelict ship wrap tighter when removing them and they bleed acid when cut. Sound familiar? Wait! They also enter the mouth and incubate embryos inside. Still not a prequel, huh?

 

 

Above: The wormy creature entering the mouth to do its business Bottom: Nah, that has NO resemblance to the alien from the 1979 film. The creature appears in the closing minutes of Prometheus.

 

These are the most obvious. Throw in the filmmakers either subtle Easter eggs or outright treats with dialogue like: "Are you seeing this?" This line is said when the alien pyramids are discovered by the explorers back to the ship. This same line was the same used in the 1979 film spoken by Captain Dallas back to Ash on the ship when they see the derelict craft for the first time. The film ends as both Alien and Alien 3 ended with the lead female survivor signing off to the ship's log.

 

Enough of all of that. If you don't believe it is a prequel by now, stop reading and go rant on your own blog. Fanboys go away, you've done enough to wreck movies.

 

Charlize Theron perhaps wondering what she's doing in this movie. Many in the audience were.

 

The advance press and back story of this film's inception being a prequel and then merging into something different is half correct. There's a a civil war of scripts going on in this film and it lessens the impact of what could have been a revolutionary classic in the science fiction genre.

 

Noomi Rapace setting the stage for Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley in Prometheus.

 

The original Alien was a horror film. It succeeds because it's pure. Alien, in this writer's opinion,  is close to perfect. Like the android Ash says in the 1979 classic, he admired the alien's purity--the best reason to admire the original Sigourney Weaver classic.

 

Where the original Alien was pitched as "Jaws in Space" this prequel could easily be pitched as "Frankenstein Meets The Wizard of Oz." Everyone's looking for something in this one: a robot is looking for a heart, a scientist wants courage, another wants eternal life and Charlize Theron just wants to go home. They've all come a long way to meet the Wizard and indeed they find that there's something very different behind the curtain.

 

There's a lot going on in Prometheus but it doesn't always click well together.

 

Michael Fassbender as David, setting the stage for Ash and Bishop with a little HAL thrown in.

 

When Prometheus is busy evoking wonder, it works beautifully and that's the right word: it is beautiful. However, this is a cynical age, far more so than in 1979. "The Company" (the studio) wants profits, much like "The Company" in the Alien films so sacrifices must be made. Audiences want their big screen scares and heaven forbid they sit through a truly high concept motion picture without someone in a cape or doing a mighty CGI flyby these days.
 

 

 

So a conscious effort was made to connect this film to a series of films that waned into the same flaccid goo that is discovered in the derelict ship canisters. Most critics and fans will agree that the series should have stopped at Aliens. While the third film is not a "bad" one, it is a mess, with even its director, David Fincher disowning it; citing studio interference as making the production a living hell. On top of it Alien 3 is downright depressing, nihilistic and nullifies everything that the second film worked so hard for.

 

It was downhill from there with the ridiculous graphic novel come to life Alien Resurrection (Joss Whedon gets credit for the script but he says they butchered his screenplay). That's okay, Whedon gets his revenge this summer as his film The Avengers will pummel the aliens anyway. The ridiculous and "let's make a buck" Alien vs. Predator series knocked Sigourney Weaver and Ridley Scott away from the series for awhile, as they rightly said going in that fanboy mashup direction would kill the series and whatever dignity it had left.

 

Now it's full circle. Alien returns to meet its maker and it left me and from what I could hear of the people exiting around me, wanting more and wishing it wasn't so Alien heavy. To this day, Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind still leaves me with a genuine sense of wonder--a real "what's out there beyond us?" kind of feeling. There were parts of Prometheus that had me starting to feel this way and then: cut to monster stuff or worse yet, a cheesy 1950's bad guy plot that has become a science fiction cliche and was before the 1979 film.

 

 

As reviews have said, the technical aspects of the film are magnificent. It looks real and Rapace and Fassbender indeed deserve the accolades they are getting for their performances (although I think Fassbender's praise is a little over exuberant. Lance Henrickson and Ian Holm did much better android turns).

 

When Prometheus is challenging you to think, it's on its 'A' Game. However it cowtows to an ever dumbed down audience that, right now, most prefer their films heavy on the action, less on the story and thinking.

 

And maybe, that's the answer to the ultimate question Noomi Rapace asks: "What happened to make them hate us?" What IF we were created by other world beings? What WOULD they think if they came to visit and saw how we are running things--if they read our tweets, watched E News, reality TV and looked at our political and legal systems?

 

Hell, all they have to see are the comments sections under any news article and we might have the answer to Rapace's question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHANGING THE PARADIGM: 6 Degrees of Hell

"TROPES" are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means "stereotyped and trite." In other words, dull and uninteresting.  We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them. -- www.tvtropes.org

Brian Gallagher breaks The Fourth Wall  in 6 Degrees of Hell, in a scene that functions as a tribute to classic horror and William Castle style filmmaking of the 1950's

 

SUBVERTING GENRE EXPECTATIONS

 

6 Degrees of Hell was described in recent test screenings as a "horror film with Easter eggs." The film is packed with classic horror inspiration and references without going the route of self-reference or parody. 6 Degrees  is straight up horror but owes its soul to the Golden Era of Universal, 60's Hammer and the best of 80's horror. The 1985 classic Fright Night played a major influence in 6 Degrees of Hell in both style and tribute to previous days of of the genre.

 

We want and need our audience to know their horror genre as this film is chock full of references and inspiration from the genre's long and diverse history.

 

I had so much fun seeing horror films as a kid and teenager. Audiences screamed, applauded, cheered and shouted at the screen. I remember the terror of Alien as a packed house shrieked and I almost bolted from my seat when John Hurt gave "birth" at the dinner table.  I laughed my ass off in the James Brolin Amityville Horror (the puking nun is classic) and saw John Frankenheimer's Prophecy, the mutant bear monster movie at least three times in theaters just for that kid in the yellow sleeping bag scene.

 


The late, great Dr. Shock, horror's gentleman host of Horror Theater out of Philly

 

I ate up Dr. Phibes, The Tingler, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Werewolf, Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Pit and the Pendulum and knew the names of William Castle, Roger Corman, Sammy Arkoff and others before I hit my teens. Dr. Shock on WPHL-17 brought Universal monsters, Lugosi, Lorre, Godzilla and so many Saturday afternoon treats from Horror Theater and Creature Double Feature.

 

In writing 6 Degrees of Hell, I wanted to bring that same fun of being scared back to the genre. While we went for scares in 6 Degrees of Hell, we also wanted to pay homage to so many of those great films that made up such an important part of my life. George Romero and Stephen King's Creepshow so moved me in 1982, I left the theater and went home to write in my journal about the movie going experience. Creepshow embodied fun and yet delivered the scares in the uneven anthology.

 

1982's Creepshow played a major influence on style in 6 Degrees of Hell

 

 

SOME OF THE HORROR EASTER EGGS YOU'LL FIND IN THIS BASKET: How we bend the tropes...

 

FRIDAY THE 13TH & OTHER SLASHERS: The opening scene with our four young stars is a direct reference to those camp counselor introductions in the Friday the 13th series. That forced dialogue and the lame sexual innuendos are all there. This is a direct tip of the hat to the venerable slasher franchise as our star, Corey Feldman stole the show in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.

 


The young cast of 6 Degrees of Hell (left) in a direct nod to Friday the 13th and other slasher films like those randy, oh so carefree camp counselors from the 1980 slasher classic (right).
 

 

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE EXORCIST: We focused our makeup effects to reflect iconic images from specifically these two films. Our undead girl was modeled after George A. Romero's game changing 1968 zombie classic:

 

Left: The iconic zombie makeup from Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Right: Our "dead girl" patterned on the photo to the left
 

Our makeup for Jeff Wilde (left) is a nod to the "strobe face" demon in 1973's The Exorcist

 

 

 

HAMMER FILMS: I educated my young director of photography, Charlie Anderson and director Joe Raffa on the lighting for the film. I wanted specific attention to be paid the graveyard scene which is a turning point in the film. The lighting, the fog...everything right down to the size of the hole dug in Kelly's grave had to be done to reflect the great style of classic 1960's Hammer horror. 

The graveyard scene in 6 Degrees (above) designed to reflect the style of classic Hammer Films (below):

 

A Hammer Films mortuary scene (L) and a scene from 6 Degrees of Hell:


 

 


POLTERGEIST, CREEPSHOW, BURNT OFFERINGS, THE MONKEY'S PAW AND MORE:

6 Degrees of Hell draws heavily from Creepshow in its lighting and set design while the pacing of 6 Degrees of Hell reflects the frenetic last 15 minutes of the 1983 classic, Poltergeist (above). Below : scenes from 6 Degrees of Hell illustrating the influence of the aforementioned films on its design and lighting

 


Lighting style and the random terror chaos of the film's climax in 6 Degrees of Hell

 

The Hotel of Horror is very much a character, much like the house in Burnt Offerings, The Legend of Hell House or even the Amityville films. Inanimate objects take on a life of their own, lending a tip of the hat to Trilogy of Terror and the killer Zuni Doll that plagued Karen Black.

 

June's incident at her front door in the dead of night evokes the dread of the classic short story, The Monkey's Paw while the chaos that erupts at the conclusion of 6 Degrees is like the roller coaster ride conclusion of Poltergeist. Perhaps even closer, the startling events inside the Hotel of Horror in the third act recall a Grand Guignol style as it plays out before an unsuspecting audience.

 

GOTHIC HORROR: HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?

Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte: The Bette Davis thriller is invoked in our main female character June who could easily be compared to the mental anguish Charlotte Hollis endured in the famous film. June's plight is long and tortuous having been stalked by something sinister for her whole life...chipping slowly away at her...


Poster for the classic Gothic film and Nicole Cinaglia as the long suffering June in 6 Degrees
 
We have a direct reference for quick ears in 6 Degrees of Hell to the other Bette Davis classic, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? We hope fans will catch it.

 

MUSIC: There are so many references to classic scores from great horror: Bride of Frankenstein, Fright Night, Psycho II...too many to mention but the horror score fan will be in heaven listening to this film's soundtrack.

 


 

 

The true horror fan will pick up references to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Monkey's Paw, Psycho II, Rosemary's Baby, Dracula, The Tingler, The Haunting, The Last Man on Earth, Fright Night, Ghost Story, The Werewolf, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Mad Monster Party, Beetlejuice and so much more.

 

Will 6 Degrees of Hell be "the scariest movie of 2012?" Who knows? Who cares? However it will be a blast--the perfect scary movie date picture that evokes a time missing from present day horror. Top quality production value, fantastic acting, a fresh supernatural story and scares played out to do just that: scare.


 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 


 



 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

COREY HAIM: Fighting Cynema in the Most Personal Way

"When I was 19 years old, I was the number one star of the world for two years; when I was 40, nobody wanted me -- I couldn't get a job." -- Mickey Rooney at his Oscar acceptance speech, 1980.

 

It's easy to forget the human element of filmmaking and despite the toll the industry takes on an individual film, it sometimes takes a greater toll on a human individual. That's the focus of this entry.

 

INDIEGOGO FUNDRAISING STAR CAMPAIGN: http://www.indiegogo.com/CoreyHaim

Fans have set up a petition: CLICK  to sign the online request for a star for Corey Haim.

A fan created TUMBLR PAGE to the cause can be found here: CLICK

 

All photos courtesy of Judy Haim, Corey's mother for this article

 

We were approached on Twitter by Corey Haim fans asking for help in securing a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the late actor and former teen box office heartthrob. I assumed we were approached because 6 Degrees of Hell stars the other half of "The Two Coreys", Corey Feldman. The two defined the 80's with their films and became the "Dynamic Duo" of high school lockers, notebook covers and subjects of popular teen fanzines like Tiger Beat.

 

Photos courtesy of Judy Haim

 

As the film's screenwriter and producer, I decided to use whatever influence our film had to help this cause after giving it some thought and thinking back on a young man who brought so much to so many people and was collateral damage in such a darkly seductive industry. To be fair, I like to claim that I "grew up" with both Corey's. I saw all of their films but can't say I shared the same thrill for them as the girls around me. They had their good films and bad. There is no doubt that Feldman's horror pedigree and my appreciation of his genre films played an influence on soliciting him for 6 Degrees of Hell. I do know for a fact that had Haim been alive while casting 6 Degrees I would have gone for both Corey's to be in the film. It would have been an 80's lovers dream and a distribution coup.

 

Corey Haim is gone now, having died a little over two years ago amidst a swirl of media scrutiny, speculation and outright hypocritical exploitation. The industry that made him a star also contributed to his deconstruction, and if Corey Feldman is correct, far darker, individual forces were at work--things worse than any horror movie could dredge up because it resides in reality.

 

This article will not focus on these things. The Internet is awash with unsubstantiated "facts", out of context analyses and boldface lies about Haim, his life and those last days. Only Haim, his family and those truly close to him knew what demons tormented him and how he lived his life. Anything else is nonsense as many former child stars can testify to this horrid persecution by the press and an increasingly ignorant and shallow public.

 

Photo courtesy of Judy Haim

 

Tara Reid, the star of my previous film, The Fields (www.thefieldsmovie.com) is a living record of what happens when the media conspires to assassinate one of its own. For whatever reason, these stars run afoul of the "the system", and they find that the same executives, studios and media that built them up are more than happy to tear them down. A career can turn on a dime and I have included Tara's plight in a book I am writing on this savage business. What exactly did Tara Reid do to earn her such enmity and become the target of cowardly bloggers and their even more cowardly anonymous comment makers that punctuate such yellow journalism?

 

“How many more years are [the media] going to pick on me? There's other new young bad girls. Move on to someone else!” – Tara Reid

 

Cynema is the fuel that drives such an cannibalistic engine. The industry devours its children.

 

Photo courtesy of Judy Haim

 

Dana Plato, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Linda Blair, Tara Reid, Drew Barrymore, Robert Downey, Jr., Judd Nelson, MacCaulay Culkin, Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, Anthony Michael Hall, Jay North, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Charlie Sheen, Michael Jackson, Ed Furlong, Crispin Glover, River Phoenix...this list can go on.

 

All of these names were associated with lavish success and then "fallen on hard times." Some regained luster to their Hollywood crowns and are once again looked upon favorably by the Powers That Be. They have been "rehabilitated," made amends or atonement" in the eyes of an industry that is hardly the paragon of virtue or moral piety.

 

Oscar winning producer and self-admitted hypocrite, Julia Philips once said that "Hollywood is a place that attracts people with massive holes in their souls." Philips succumbed to cancer a number of years ago, but also knew Corey Haim and put him in her scathing Hollywood memoir, You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again which is now recognized as one of the most venomous and scathing accounts of Hollywood behind the scenes ever put to paper. She was also referring to herself in that statement.

 

The Internet has created the "cult of the fan," giving a new outlet for obsession and star scrutiny. In a day and age of 24 hour, instant download news, the line between information and entertainment is gone. Now an inadvertent crotch shot can translate into big bucks and race around the globe in moments. More and more comments under such articles ask "why is this news?" but they are whispers in a hurricane. It's news because people want it. Period.

 

This new "Cult of the Fan" has allowed ignorant people to become "experts" on a celebrity's life. From judgmental statements to stalking; many fans believe and are fueled by what is fed to them by the media. Celebrities on the wrong side of industry find themselves trying to ride this wave of ignorance. They will shop themselves out to reality shows for drug rehab or worse yet, turn the cameras on their private lives as if offering some sort of sacrifice to the Media Gods to appease them and find redemption that will make them "right" in the eyes of the industry and a distracted, silly public.

 

Photo courtesy of Judy Haim

 

Which brings me to Corey Haim. We are going to work in securing this star because Corey Haim was someone's son. He was someone's brother. He was a lot of people's friend. He loved animals. He helped out children. He had birthday parties. He cried. He laughed. He went to school and struggled with homework. He wanted to be loved and he gave love. He made girls swoon. He watched a sunrise. He played with toys and went swimming. He bled when he fell down and knew the worse pain of a broken heart.

 

Photo courtesy of Judy Haim

 

He gave wonderful memories and enjoyment to fans. He sacrificed a normal childhood to grow up in front of a camera. He was rewarded with adulation, money, prestige and more, but when all is said and done, Corey Haim gave far more to his fanbase than he received. We get to have Corey for as long as we watch his films and he reminds us of the fun of being 16. Many of his fans lived vicariously through him, modeling their childhoods on his onscreen misadventures . Critics fell in love with him in Lucas while now Gen X fans get to think back on their teen years every time License to Drive, Dream a Little Dream or The Lost Boys hits their TV screens.

 

Corey got little in return. The cynical fans and media will say he was rewarded with large paychecks and everything a young teen could have want. Yet, we get to learn through his exposed life, that these things did not bring him what was needed to fill that "massive hole in his soul." Corey Haim performed for us and now entertains a whole new generation that didn't grow up in the decade he dominated. Many are his fans because of their parents, and those parents are now looking back on their own lives through nostalgia or regret. Maybe a little of both.

 

Judgmental people will convict him of a life misspent. Yet they have the luxury of enjoying him without the pain of truly losing him. When fans tell one of his family or friends how much they loved one of his films, and own it, there is the fact that most likely Corey's films are not taken from the shelf too often in his family's households. Some may not even have them at all. The memories are not as fond for those who knew and loved him, for the films are a reminder of his absence and how much he is truly missed.

 

Fans may say "I miss him." They did not know him and it is ignorant to truly believe a fan's pain can come anywhere close to a mother's or sibling's loss. They say such things with the best of intent, but it is a hollow statement, kind of like saying "I'm sorry" to someone at a funeral. It means nothing, but it is the thing to say nonetheless.

 

Grief is not a public thing to be shared on Twitter or Facebook. Grief is private. It is personal. Anyone who says it is not is grandstanding and self-serving.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Judy Haim

 

Corey Haim was not mentioned in a televised "in memorium"  segment on the Academy Awards. The excuse was "he was on a long list but there was a short list" and simply the old "we didn't have enough time" chestnut was used. For all the money Corey Haim made people, for giving as much as he did to an industry that fed off him like the vampires he and Feldman once fought , 10 seconds was not a lot to ask. Corey Haim was abandoned by the industry that profited from his life. A-list celebs and industry personalities did nothing to make sure his picture made that Oscar screen. There was apparently no effort other than to shrug shoulders and say "that's show business."

 

Indeed.

 

 

6 Degrees of Hell will push for a star for Corey Haim. I never met him. I never knew him. I enjoyed his films and I ignored his final TV show and the press that went with it, because unlike many that cast dispersions, I am in the business and I knew what it was doing to him as his pain was broadcast for entertainment. We do this for his family and because it is the right thing to do.

 

A star sunk in cement is the least this industry can do. Being left off a simple memorial list, our official stance is, if you can't memorialize everyone then you don't do it at all. Cut down on film nominations, nominees or enforce the speech time limit and cue up that exit music faster. "Long list, short list" subterfuge is just nothing more than movie smoke and mirrors.

 

We will be organizing a benefit screening this fall to raise the required application funds for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. We will be inviting those industry personalities that have professed their love and allegiance to Corey Haim. We hope they will come to honor his memory and send a message to the industry that there are those who take care of one their fallen.

 

Fans have set up a petition: CLICK

 

Photo courtesy of Judy Haim

 

I end this entry with a quote from the great poem Hurt Hawks by Robinson Jeffers that I feel evokes what Corey Haim was in his life. However that is simply my own speculation. Richard Adams used this passage in his brilliant novel Watership Down. It came to me as I wrote this entry.

 

He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse.
The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head
...

You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him;
Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;
Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him.

 

Our efforts for a star are ironically not for a "star" but a human being, Corey Ian Haim.

 

Photo courtesy of Judy Haim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TESTING THE FILM: 6 DEGREES GETS ITS FIRST FEEDBACK

Test panels from the 6 Degrees of Hell graphic novel in production
 

The big question for indie filmmakers, once your film is done is: to test screen or not to screen?

The panels above are test panels for a graphic novel adaptation of our film by artist Mark Kosobucki. While we loved them, we were also eager to show them to the public to keep buzz generated. Feedback was enthusiastic but you always run the risk of negative reception which can put a hurt on the subject matter.

 

However, artists can't live in fear or be corralled by public opinion, critics, or fear of negative feedback. If a film is made for the right reasons: passion, love of the art, respect for the audience and the genuine commitment to the best quality and production values then there is no reason to fear. The films that know they are cynical cash grabs forgo advance information and do their "hit and runs" at the boxoffice (see The Devil Inside as a shining example).

 

Test screening is tricky in the digital age. Blogs, Facebook and other online media are game changers so confidence in the material has to be strong. Film is subjective. Coppola's Apocalypse Now tested "boring" by its test audience and yet scored the top honors at Cannes and Oscar nominations and is now seen as a classic. As we discussed in previous entries, the Internet has allowed everyone to be a critic. Many of these "critics" have never even held a video camera in hand let alone know the first thing of what goes into filmmaking.

 

Many believe their opinion trumps experience.

 

Corey Feldman, an 80's icon, headlines 6 Degrees of Hell as paranormal investigator Kyle Brenner
 

We decided to test the film out on varying demographics. The film was shown unpolished, with several sound and visual effects plus the ending titles needing to tweaked. However we felt it was able to stand on its own legs 95% done.

 

We issued a survey and collected the feedback and are placing it here in this article. This also includes the constructive criticism AKA negative feedback. This day and age it's easy to just post one side and spin it all into the hype machine. We are not posting any feedback either way if it contains a SPOILER.

 

TEST GROUP 1 : One dozen people. 6 female. 6 Male. Ages: 28-64 

2 in the group noted they were NOT fans of horror, which is why they were selected. Here are the highlights of answers both positive and negative on 6 Degrees of Hell:

 

Questions :

 

1. Did you like the film? All 12 marked YES  Overall scale rating from one (bad) to ten (perfect): 8.5 

OVERALL GRADE: B+, A-

 

2. If there was anything you could magically cut out what would it be?

"The blood! The [murder scene] was so bloody I couldn't watch."

 

"Nothing. I felt this moved along so fast. Nothing dragged. It really flows and most of all comes together at the end. You really gotta pay attention but I like that."

 

"I would cut down on some of the violence."

 

" You shouldn't cut anything because it all connects. I felt like I had to work a little to keep up with the plot. Lots going on but that's a good thing."

 

3. Anything you'd like more of in the film?

 

"I wish it was longer. How long was it? 90 min?"

 

"I wanted more of the romance between June and Eri[c]? They had really good chemistry."

 

"Nothing. You didn't overdo it. Don't add anything that's when films kill it."

 

"I really don't like horror, so I certainly don't want it LONGER! ha ha but I really, really liked this."

 

"Tweak the things you said it needs and you'll have a ten from me."

 

4. What was your reaction to Corey Feldman? Did you know who he was & did it make a difference that he was in this movie?

 

"Been a fan of his since I was a kid"

"Was not expecting such a mature performance from him. Expected him to be cheesy or over the top."

"He gives the film legitimacy. He's a legend."

"Great to see him in a good movie again. It's been awhile. Thought he was gonna suck like those Lost Boys sequels."

"No one else would have mattered as a celebrity name to this movie. Great choice!
"

 

5. Were there any moments you felt annoyed, frustrated or confused-in-a-bad-way by the movie? (please list)

"It is tough to follow at times in the beginning but it all comes together in the end. I guess I was expecting a dumbed down slasher movie. It is definitely not that."

 

"I couldn't go to the bathroom because there was so much going on I thought I'd miss something!"

 

"I hated  Corey's cigarette. I know it's an e-cigarette but I hated it. If he hunts ghosts he should smoke the real stuff."

 

"Nothing confusing, but you gotta pay attention."

 

"I thought the one character, Chris, was a pussy. June shoulda been with the guy who had the TV show."

 

6. Would you see 6 Degrees of Hell again or recommend this film?  All 12 said YES.

 

How would you rate the following elements? You can elaborate in the margins, or the space below.
(1 = Poor, 5 = Excellent)


The ending 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 4
The music 1 2 3 4 5    Overall: 4

The humor 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 4
The pace 1 2 3 4 5      Overall: 5
The story 1 2 3 4 5      Overall: 5
The beginning 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 5
The drama 1 2 3 4 5       Overall: 5

Quality of Acting: 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 5

Special FX: 1 2 3 4 5    Overall: 4

The horror/Scariness 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 5
Corey Feldman (Kyle Brenner,) 1 2 3 4 5
    Overall: 5

 

GENERAL LAST THOUGHTS:

"It's scary but also has a lot of drama to it. It isn't constant gross out stuff. That's what surprised me. If there is such a thing as "intelligent horror" this is it. It is creepy, builds a lot of dread in the opening and then really goes nuts at the end. Not the grossest movie I have seen but this was a blast."

 

"You told us the epilogue. Would have been good to see that but from what you explained that really works and adds a lot. I felt brought out of the movie when it was explained what still needed to be done to finish the various things you outlined."

 

The lead young actors in 6 Degrees of Hell (l-r) Joe Raffa, Nicole Cinaglia, Ashley Sumner, David J. Bonner

 

TEST GROUP 2 : 17 people. 14 PEOPLE WERE AGES: 16-18. 3 PEOPLE WERE AGED: 24, 41, 42

All were fans of horror. Here are the highlights of answers both positive and negative on 6 Degrees of Hell:

 

Questions :

 

1. Did you like the film? All marked YES  Overall scale rating from one (bad) to ten (perfect):

OVERALL GRADE: A

 

2. If there was anything you could magically cut out what would it be?

"Nothing."

 

"That murder scene was brutal. Don't know if you should cut it but it was awkward for me."

 

"The chief of police is a dick. He played a really good dickhead cop. Wouldn't say cut him but I hated him."

 

3. Anything you'd like more of in the film?

 

"It should be longer!"

 

"More naked girls! The girls were hot and June shoulda got naked."

 

"More blood. Love the chainsaw stuff and that murder in the apartment. I love the Saw movies so was wanting more weird murders like that but I loved what was there. Just wanted more."

 

"More of Uncle Jack. He had some funny lines."

 

"More of that white monster."

 

4. What was your reaction to Corey Feldman? Did you know who he was & did it make a difference that he was in this movie?

 

I had never heard of him before, but Googled him during the film and now wanna see his other movies. He was really cool.

He was funny, liked his wiseass comments like "just so you're clear on the law" to the cop. He had some great lines

I was expecting him to be in it for like 5 minutes but he holds the whole movie together. Really liked how you kept coming back to him, keeps the film moving along and his scenes are really interesting!


My parents told me about him before we came tonight. He was excellent in this movie. It was not what I was expecting at all.

 

5. Were there any moments you felt annoyed, frustrated or confused-in-a-bad-way by the movie? (please list)

"Not annoyed, but I thought it was like the Sixth Sense where I really had to pay attention."

 

"The cop annoyed me. I hated him."

 

"I wasn't confused but I wasn't expecting to have to think so hard but I have a short attention span!"

 

"No changes. Leave it alone!"

 

6. Would you see 6 Degrees of Hell again or recommend this film?  All 17said YES.

 

How would you rate the following elements? You can elaborate in the margins, or the space below.
(1 = Poor, 5 = Excellent)


The ending 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 5
The music 1 2 3 4 5    Overall: 5

The humor 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 5
The pace 1 2 3 4 5      Overall: 5
The story 1 2 3 4 5      Overall: 5
The beginning 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 5
The drama 1 2 3 4 5       Overall: 5

Quality of Acting: 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 5

Special FX: 1 2 3 4 5    Overall: 5

The horror/Scariness 1 2 3 4 5   Overall: 4
Corey Feldman (Kyle Brenner,) 1 2 3 4 5
    Overall: 5

 

GENERAL LAST THOUGHTS:

Does not look like a low budget movie at all. Caught me completely by surprise.

It's a mind fuck. It's scary but it's really, really smart and cool.

It wasn't the same old stuff. I was expecting "Saw" but it's nothing like those movies

Acting was great. Great characters

Scared me and it's a lot of fun. The whole hotel goes nuts at the end. Loved this movie

I'd see it again. You have to just to catch everything that's going on

This was excellent. I loved it and want to buy it! When can I?

 

 

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