Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Interview With Jacqueline Lovell!

So without further ado, and after a month or so of arranging the details, here is my interview with the amazing Jacqueline Lovell Nyahay!

See? She's awesome.

The Horror Revolution: Ok, first off is the obvious: what's your favorite scary movie? What movie scares you the most?

Jacqueline: Oh God… I can be frightened so easily when I fall into the music of scary movies.  My favorite scary movie is Rocky Horror Picture Show, thought that is not very scary, that is just fun and I love my memories of going to RHPS in high school with all my friends to yell at the screen and dress sexy and test boundaries.  But what movie really scares me…Nightmare on Elm Street use to always freak me out as a child, The Exorcist, Michael Myers, Clive Barker’s imagination... but as an adult, I could not handle Saw, that was just too much horror…

THR: What's your favorite movie you've been in? What was your favorite movie to work on?

J: My favorite movie I’ve been in…I have so many amazing memories from all of them.  I loved all the friendships/relationships I formed with other people in these make-believe places we played pretend.  My favorite would have to be when I’m being flown to a foreign country to film.  That has happened to me twice.  Once for Full Moon on Hideous and once for Zalman King's Company on Black Sea 213.  When I shot Hideous I was flown to Romania.  Charlie had an amazing studio set up and the cast was put up in a huge castle.  It was like living in a faery tale.  I love romantic gestures.  When I shot Black Sea 213 I was flown to the Ukraine.  A two-month all expenses paid vacation on the Russian Riviera.  Starring in a spy-thriller-espionage-Mission Impossible-James Bond-esque vibe film.

THR: What are your favorite moments while filming?

J: My favorite moment while filming is looking out at the entire crew who have come together to set up this scene, this shot, this moment for me to perform and put on film this memory of creating a world that a writer has written from his mind and interpret that magic and bring to life art.  I love being with passionate people who love what they do and are excited to create something new.

THR: What accomplishments in film or in life in general are you most proud of?

J: Starring in the animated feature film Dwegons and Leprechauns was a big accomplishment for me.  Crossing genres can be hard so I felt really blessed for this opportunity.

THR: You started your career as an adult film actress, a career most people associate with poor acting talent. Do you feel that it's a fair stereotype, present company excluded? Is it a hard stereotype to overcome? How did you do it?

J: Adult film acting is stereotyped.  But so are soap stars.  Some actors may not be the best with memorizing and delivering dialog, but some are.   Acting is acting and a lot of actors practice their craft in different places.  I overcame because I took acting seriously and went to acting classes.

THR: What are you up to now?

J: Currently I work as a full time stand in.  For the past 6 years I have been booked on network TV shows to stand in for the lead blonde of the shows.  Usually I get one show a year and stay with the show the entire season.  Being a stand in means that I watch my actress perform all rehearsals, then I have to perform exactly as she did for the camera and crew to set up all the lights, camera angles, etc.  On multi-cam sitcom shows, I also perform with the cast of the show for the producers and network to see if they like day player parts that have been added in.  They use stand ins to test characters and lines with the principal actors of the cast before they ever hire actors for the littler roles.  I love stand in work because I love being part of the crew and not under the pressure of being the star.  I am so busy with my marriage and raising my daughter I do not feel I have the time I would need to give to being the lead of a TV sitcom, so this is the next best thing.  Being there and going through the whole process with my actress, playing her doppelganger is fun and I never bring work home.  Unlike when I have to prepare for a part, constantly memorizing and performing my piece, which can take up a lot of time I would have spent with my family.
I am also excited about my husband Edward Nyahay’s Gotholic Horror ministry and I helped co-write his latest movie The Witch Chronicles 2: Spirit of Ayahuasca as well as help paint artwork for prop use in the movie.  He is currently editing the film and I help give a second pair of eyes to the work.

THR: What's a fact that would surprise your fans to learn about you?

J: After over 20 years in the business, I can’t imagine there are any facts that my fans don’t know about me.  I write a blog memoir type story on my website at www.krushtheserpent.com which tells of my adventures on set for over the past decade.  With every day I discover new things and am open to the magic of the Universe.  I surprise myself at the challenges I face and how I make my path through them.  It is all by the grace of God.

THR: Tell us about Trophy Heads! It looks like a really fun movie. What's it like to not be the only scream queen on the set?

J: Trophy Heads was awesome!  I love Charlie Band, he is an amazing person and great director to work for.  He always has his actors best intentions at heart.  I had never worked with any of the other girls, but knew of them all, so I felt really privileged to be part of this iconic group of historic scream queens.

THR: Who is the best actress/actor you've worked with? Best director?

J: I could not say who was the best…I’ve worked with so many amazing artists and I love them all.

THR: My brother is an actor, though he hasn't hit it big yet. What tips can you give someone who is trying to make it in the industry? (Shout-out to Jason!)

J: It is hard, it is expensive, be prepared with back up plans for money.   Get into great classes with teachers connected to top casting agents.  So much is all who you know, so get out there and meet everyone.  First impressions mean everything, be prepared at the top of your game when you start auditioning.  Ultimately you have to follow your heart and live your dream wherever that may take you.

THR: A lot of people believe that horror has died, that there's very little new and it's gone stagnant. Other people point to some of the recent work by newer directors, like the Babadook or It Follows, saying that there's a resurgence. How do you feel horror has changed since you were in the game, and do you think it's for the better or worse?

J: Lately I do feel it has all been done to death.  It is challenging to find new material, new ideas.  When I entered the acting industry in 1995 the B movie industry was on its last leg.  I think the high point was the 80s.  Mainstream horror just recycles the same themes.

THR: Thank you again for taking the time to talk to me and give me some awesome answers. For real, you've more than made my whole year. Again, I'm truly honored.

J: You are very welcome, Chris. It was fun!

So that's it, folks. I hope you've enjoyed reading, and if you have any questions you want answered, let me know, I'll see what I can do. Check out her blog at www.krushtheserpent.com and read what she has to say about her many years in the industry, or better yet, go check out some of her movies! They're fantastic, and definitely worth the watch for any B-Movie fans, or horror fans in general.

Thanks for reading,

The Horror Revolution

My Horror Journey: An Introduction To An Interview

As anyone who's read my blog knows, and obvious by the content herein, I am a HUGE horror movie fan. It started for me when I was a kid. I was absolutely terrified of horror movies. I remember when I was very little, I used to get so afraid walking by the horror VHS covers in the video store, and there was one especially that had light-up eyes on the cover and played a cheesy MIDI of a high pitched "spooky sound." My dad used to press it because he thought it was funny that I would cover my ears and run away. Needless to say, I was not a brave child. However, one thing that I always noticed after a trip to the video store was that I could never quite tear myself away. I always looked. I always checked out the covers, because deep inside, I kinda liked being scared, and nothing scared me quite like Child's Play.

Several years later, I went to my cousin's birthday party. I was something like 13 years old, and I had still, at that point in my life, never seen a horror movie before, at least not on purpose. I mean, I had seen the older stuff, the Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature From The Black Lagoon (which I always loved), but nothing new, and nothing really scary. My cousin was a big fan, and he decided to spend his birthday playing touch football in the backyard and watching a veritable ton of scary movies. Needless to say, I was less than pleased. I remember calling my mom kinda worried about it, and I ended up telling her that I'd spend several hours with them playing football, and then she could just come and pick me up. It was at that point that my mom said the words that would change my life: "Chris, just give it a try. Watch one."

So I did. I decided then and there that I was 13 (and they were 8, which was a nice blow to the ego), and damnit, I wasn't going to be scared anymore. So he picked the first movie and put it in. The first screen popped up, and I realized what I was in for: Child's Play 3.

And I absolutely fucking loved it. I laughed, I yelled, it was a stupid movie, and it was completely amazing.

From then on, I was insatiable. Movie Gallery (which was a thing that used to exist) ran a 5 for 5 special, where you could rent 5 movies, 5 nights, $5.99, and I spent the next several years doing this every weekend and every 3 days throughout the summer. I rented everything. I must've watched 5000 horror movies over the next 5 years, and I never really slowed down. To this day, horror is by far my favorite genre, and unlike other genres, I can watch great movies, I can watch horrible movies, and I can watch everything in between and not feel like I've wasted my time.

It was during these beginning stages that I discovered the B-Movie, scream queens, and the lovely horror institution that is Charles Band and Full Moon Pictures. I immediately fell in love with a young scream queen named Jacqueline Lovell.

And here I am today. As stated in a previous entry, I was watching two of her movies preparing for my Christmasween celebration, and one thing led to another, and she granted me an interview. I cannot tell you how pumped and excited I've been to work out the details with her, and she's been absolutely amazing through the whole process. 13-year-old me is super jealous of present-day me. As well he should be.

Tonight, this half-rate blogger is going to post an interview with one of his movie heroes, quite possibly his first celebrity crush, and someone that he deeply respects and appreciates, both for her impact on his life and the genre he now knows and love. So without further ado...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Quick Update: Big Things Coming!

Alright, folks, I've been out for a few days, so I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging again! I've actually been watching a lot of movies for once, so I've got a lot to talk about in the coming days. Coming up, I've got my take on The Green Inferno, The Human Centipede 3, The Lords of Salem, and Starry Eyes. Hopefully I can get some nice discussion going, and we can take a tour of some movies available right on Netflix for anyone to watch. Tends to be a lot easier than amassing a 1000-strong DVD collection like I have (#humblebrag), not to mention a lot cheaper. And honestly, half of what I have isn't particularly interesting, though there are a few gems as well.

Anywho, for anyone reading, thanks for bearing with me, and we'll get right back into it with, without a doubt, the Horror Revolution feature of the year!

This is it! Fans, come check the blog out tomorrow for my exclusive interview with a scream queen, Miss Jacqueline Lovell! Same Bat time, same Bat channel!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Is Awesome

Can you hear the music just by seeing the logo?
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas brought us Star Wars: Episode I IV: A New Hope. And lo, it was awesome. It inspired a generation of fanboys, the likes of which haven't been seen before or since (except for Trekkies). It inspired millions of pages of fanfiction, and websites, and enyclopedias. It inspired countless actors, directors, and writers, and it changed the face of American media as we know it. It was, in a word: Epic. From this epic, Lucas made five other movies, some good, some not so good, but all of them good enough to make him billions of dollars. In case you've been living under a rock for the last two decades, a lot of fans feel that he ruined the franchise by releasing the ill-advised prequels (which wasn't even a thing before Lucas created them). While I count myself among those fans who hated the "first three parts of the story," I was a little concerned that the new movies wouldn't have him at the helm. I wasn't so sure that someone else would be able to see the vision, and anything less than the vision just wasn't acceptable to proceed with the story that Lucas began. And after LucasArts got bought by Disney? God, this was all just setting up so horribly. A movie series with recent criticism for being too toy-pandering and kid-centric is being bought by the kings of all things kid? It was all set up for a ridiculously over-the-top cheese extravaganza, and was clearly going to be another cash-grabbing attempt to ruin everything we've held dear from our childhood.

Holy shit was I wrong. Episode VII was a tour de Force (see what I did there?) of brilliance, from writing, directing, acting, special effects... It was magnificent. And, interestingly enough, I haven't heard many people say otherwise. I've heard a few naysayers here and there, but for the most part, everyone ate it up on its way to becoming the largest grossing movie of all time. And while it's certainly not Gone With The Wind or its ilk, it was exactly what you want a blockbuster to be. And the best part? Every original cast member (that mattered) showed their faces in the new one! That's what the prequels were missing, the nostalgia factor... and action, and writing, and a plot... but that's for another time. The Force Awakens had that in spades. All of it, actually. 

And that's what was so spectacular about SWTFA: It pandered to its fans like nobody's business, but still had enough to draw new and younger fans. The prequels were a money-making machine, but there just wasn't anything of substance there. And holy shit Jar Jar was annoying. I actually tried to watch the prequels shortly before watching the new one, and I couldn't make it through the first one. The new one? I could watch it a hundred times, and never get bored. Which is just like the originals... which is what made them so powerful and popular.

Here's the best thing, though. My wife hates Star Wars. Well, hate is too strong of a word. She's just not a fan, at least not like I am. Sure, she's seen the original movies, and she loves the "little bear things" (Ewoks, goddamnit), but she just didn't see the magic in it all. And she's 6 years older than me, so she's just the right age, as I was, although she's more A New Hope and I'm more RotJ. She gave me a wonderful present by surprising me with tickets to go see The Force Awakens on opening night. Not ticket, ticketS. Plural. She went with me. I was shocked, because I really didn't think she'd see it anytime soon, but she agreed to go with me. And she loved it. She's talked about it several times since, she's held conversation about Star Wars with me for one of the first times ever. Her favorite part? She loves how you didn't have to have loved the originals to enjoy the new one.

So in one fell swoop, the newly Disney-aquired Star Wars franchise was somehow able to appease almost 100% of the existing fanbase while drawing in new fans, some of whom were just never particularly thrilled with the originals. That's amazing. That's something that just doesn't happen. 99 times out of 100, if you made a classically-loved movie series again, it would either be loved by fans and hated by newcomers, or loved by newcomers and DESTROYED by the fans of the originals. Not this time. Not this time at all.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was absolutely awesome. It was everything I hoped it would be. It set itself up very well for future installments, and it's given a world full of fans A New Hope for the future, one that was completely depleted and ruined by the prequels. And maybe, just maybe, than can actually pull of a logical, coherent, and mind-blowing trilogy again. I, for one, can't wait to find out.

Bottom Line: It's hard to believe that anybody reading this hasn't seen it yet, because everyone has seen it at least once already... but if you haven't, you need to. Even if you're not a fan of the original (like my wife), please, please check it out. The Force is strong with this one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Express Yourself: Straight Outta Compton

Today was a huge release I've been waiting for for awhile, the DVD release of F. Gary Gray's Straight Outta Compton. I was a HUGE fan of this movie, and I think it's the best movie I saw last year (outside of Star Wars; I promise I'll get to that eventually). An incredibly well-made, well-acted, awesomely scripted movie, Straight Outta Compton was a big hit, much more successful than I thought it would be when I heard they were making it. When I saw this movie in theaters, the first thing I said to my wife as we were walking out was, "This movie about gangster rap is gonna win an Oscar." Yeah... more on that later.

I'm a big NWA fan, and have been as long as I've been listening to rap music. (Fun fact most don't know about me: I won a rap battle in college. I'm kind of a big deal, and I got mad flow.) NWA was the first gangsta rap that I ever really listened to, and I love Dre and Ice Cube's solo careers as well (I was actually listening to Westside Connection earlier in the day). They were a massively important group, practically putting the West Coast on the map as far as hardcore rap goes, and they were one of the first to speak out about the injustice of the police in the African American community. They've directly launched the careers of rappers like Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Tupac, and influenced artists as wide ranging as South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. NWA, as Ice Cube said, "has made it ok for artists to be themselves."

I had to use two NWA songs for the title to this article. Why? Because, while the movie was titled Straight Outta Compton, arguably their biggest hit along with Fuck Tha Police, Express Yourself is as big a part of this movie as anything else. SOC was a hard-hitting, tell it like it is song, and Fuck Tha Police was a once-in-a-generation societal force... but Express Yourself was NWA in a nutshell.

I'm expressing with my full capabilities
And now I'm living in correctional facilities
Cause some don't agree with how I do this...

When you got a subject and a predicate
Add it on a dope beat, and it'll make you think

That's it right there. That's what this movie, what NWA, was about. It was about the freedom to express yourself, and the power behind that. It's about using your power, your position, and your talents to make the people around you think instead of just going with the tide. It's about standing up to The Man, whoever that may be in your life or your society, and in theirs, it was Darryl Gates and the LAPD. As much as this movie was about the lives of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy Motherfuckin' E, and the rest of the crew, it was about that. Freedom, in a place in time that wasn't free at all.
Well won't you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say...
Now, as far as it doesn't directly affect or bother me that no African Americans were nominated for Oscars this year, I think it's a damn crime that this movie got practically nothing. Best Picture? Maybe not, but definitely in the discussion. And I haven't seen a supporting actor this year better than Jason Mitchell as Eazy. Hell, Ice Cube's son was great as his old man. I haven't seen a lot of other movies released this year, so I can't really comment on the #OscarsSoWhite of it all, but I saw this one, and it's just wrong that the white screenwriters got credit while the fantastic African American actors and director did not. This was the first movie I saw this year that gave me a "Wow" moment, and that should be recognized.

Well, if they won't do it, I will. Straight Outta Compton was the hands-down best movie I saw in 2015. So I'm giving it an award. Introducing The Horror Revolution Kick Ass Award:

Given for exceptional performance and general all-around kickassery.
So there you go. In a surprise absolutely no one saw coming, Straight Outta Compton win's the inaugural Horror Revolution Kick Ass Award{patent pending}.

Straight Outta Compton was fantastic. Mitchell's Eazy, Jackson's Cube, and Giamatti's Heller were absolutely outstanding, and it's one of those films where you can tell everyone involved was having a whole lot of fun. While there have been critics who have problems with the whitewashing of Dre's involvement in violence against women (which was touched on, however briefly, in the film), and whether or not everything that happened in the movie was actually what went down (including Heller himself, big surprise), from everything I know and have read about the rise and fall of NWA, it all seems pretty legit.

Bottom Line: Stop reading (you're at the end already anyway) and see the movie if you're one of the five people in America that haven't already. Watch it again. Great movie. Great acting. Great directing. Right up there with Walk The Line for the best music biopics of all time. And now it's an award winner!

Monday, January 18, 2016

(Dis)Respecting A Classic: Rob Zombie's Halloween

Christmasween Part Whatever

Let's kick the fun off again with Rob Zombie's Halloween, a remake almost nobody asked for, most didn't want, and almost everyone hated. I fucking loved this movie.

Let me start by saying that I'm a HUGE Halloween fan. It is, in my opinion, the best horror movie ever made. It's legitimately scary, especially for a slasher movie, and the atmosphere and general anxiety created by Carpenter's direction is outstanding, especially for an incredibly low budget movie. When they announced Rob Zombie's remake of this beloved classic, most horror fans were not too thrilled. To be fair, almost any movie classic reimagined has been almost universally panned by fans of the originals. Rob Zombie's Halloween is no different.

But here's the thing: The biggest problem most seem to have with remakes are that they are seen as disrespecting of the originals. Movie fans, and horror movie fans especially, are rabid fan bases, and to change something that some of them have built their identities around can be quite jarring at times. However, just because a movie isn't a shot-for-shot remake of the original doesn't mean it doesn't have merit in its own right.

I think the primary reason fans are not pleased with remakes are because they're not looking at them the right way. For most, its all about the comparison to the original, and if its not as good, its a "disrespect to the original". That's simply not fair. These are different movies, often telling a different story, or at least different parts of the story. Sure, if its a shot for shot remake and has much worse acting and direction than the originals, that can be irritating. But for the most part, that isn't what these movies do. They are retellings, plain and simple. Rob Zombie took Halloween and, instead of making a shot for shot remake, he made it a gritty origin story. Gritty reboots get a lot of hate from fans as well, but that doesn't qualify here either. You can't have a gritty reboot of a gritty movie. That just makes it a reboot. It's not like the original Halloween was a story of a happy-go-lucky teenager and her relationships to her friends and parents. It was about a guy who went around killing people to get to his sister. Rob Zombie doesn't take anything away from the original at all; he takes the store and adds to the lore.

And that leads us to the biggest reason why I loved his version of Halloween: It's not just a reboot; it's a sequel. Sequels don't carry the same hatred that reboots do, but I really don't understand why. If you have a problem with things adding to or taking away from the originals, why would you ever make or watch a sequel? It's the same damn thing. Sure, Zombie's Halloween goes back to the beginning (so maybe more of a prequel), but it gives you a deeper understanding of why Michael Myers is the way he is. Some fans hated this aspect, but I really enjoyed it. There's not much that's scarier to me than someone who is, as Loomis put it, simply evil. A lot of fans mentioned Myers' rough upbringing as explaining away his psychosis, and saying that he was a product of his environment instead of a plain-old psycopath. But that's not the case at all. Sure, he had a rough childhood. But the first scene shows him killing his pet rat. That's one of the first signs of a serial killer. He also later murders his step-dad. He beats another kid to death. He goes to a mental hospital and kills a nurse and some orderlies, and then, during his escape, brutally murders his only friend in the hospital. This isn't a broken man; this is an evil man. And that, to me, is why Zombie's version doesn't take away from the lore, it adds to it.

Plus, Danielle Harris is fucking hot. So there's that.
Daniell Harris, being hot.
Look, in the end, you have to look at these remakes as different stories. Scary stories have traditionally been told around the campfire, or in a dark room enhanced by the shadows thrown by candlelight. You'll never hear the same story twice. But when you remake these movies, fans are expecting the same story, and that's not a legitimate expectation. The Evil Dead remake was great, but if you went into it expecting Bruce Campbell, you were sorely disappointed. But it was creepy as shit, and incredibly gory, and everything everyone knows and loves about the original. Maybe a little less humor, but that's pretty much it. Zombie's Halloween takes the boring monotonous parts of the original, cranks them up to 11, and delivers an intense thrill ride through the damaged psyche of one of the most famous movie killers in history. What's not to love?

Bottom Line: Don't expect the original, you will be disappointed. View it through a different lens, however, and it's really quite fantastic. Definitely worth a watch, see if you agree. If not, watch the new Star Wars. More on that later.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

So Here's The Thing...

So here's the thing... plans kinda fell apart. Combination of reasons on this one, actually.

First, I lost my job. Technically I quit, but it's only technically because I quit before they could fire me. Trumped up charges, yada yada, they can't function without me, blahdiblah, none of that really matters. The important thing is, I've had a helluva lot more things to do than write my blog, unfortunately. Thankfully, I found another job after about a week, so for the last month or so I've been getting in the swing of things in my new job as a pawnbroker (yay for my DVD collection, not so yay for my wallet). Pay's not anywhere near the same, hours are longer, but huzzah for overtime I suppose. Anywho, that's certainly put a damper on my blogging timeframe.

Secondly, my plan to take time to reflect before writing about all of the movies I've watched backfired, as I apparently don't have nearly as good of a memory as I thought I did. I struggled writing even my last couple of reviews, so that plan went right out the window when dealing with another 50-some-odd movies I had watched throughout the month.

Thirdly, I, uh... I fucked up. My list of movies that I was planning on reviewing was on my phone, and my son broke his (which was perfect timing with the loss of my job), resulting in me giving him my phone and taking an old busted-ass iPhone we had laying around. Also unfortunately, I reset it without remembering to make a copy of my list of movies. Apparently Apple's iCloud service is really more of a suggestion than a guarantee, and it was lost, never to be found again.

So yeah... between finding a new job, and completely losing my movie list and all its accompanying notes, I've kinda been at a loss for where I go from here.

Never fear, faithful reader(s). I have returned! I've seen enough movies and thought enough about them over the years that it shouldn't be too terribly difficult to pick up relatively unscathed. In other good news, now that the holiday season has winded to a screeching 80-degree-weather halt, I've finally been able to complete my interview process with Miss Jacqueline Lovell, so I'll have that coming relatively soon as well!

All in all, crazy last couple of months, as I'm sure they were for those of you reading as well. December and January tend to do that to people. I'm excited to get back into the blogosphere, and I'm excited for you all to take that ride with me.

Next up, my tribute to Star Wars and a review of Rob Zombie's loving rendition of Halloween!