Tag Archives: Halloween

Remembering Wes Craven

31 Aug

I was just a little girl when I was first introduced to the works of Wes Craven.  I had a friend for a sleepover when I was eleven and somewhere in between the chips and salsa, putting on dresses and pretending we were fortune tellers, we were in front of the TV, looking for something to watch.  My child’s mind was still new to the concept of horror but I already loved the smell of Halloween, I liked to scare my friends and at this point the only episodes of The Simpsons I would watch were Treehouse of Horror specials.  While skipping through the channels my older brother walked into the room and remarked at a certain movie title he saw in the satellite guide.

“Oh Jess, you HAVE to watch The People Under the Stairs!”

peopleunderthestairs

Wanting to show my big brother that I could be cool too, I agreed.  My friend, my brother and I watched this movie, and although it was not his scariest film, it definitely left a mark on my psyche.  The twisted mother and father figures (Wendy Robie and Everett McGill, who were just as watchable and intriguing on Twin Peaks), the image of the dog chewing on a severed hand and the way its skin looked so rubbery and wrong, the actual PEOPLE under those STAIRS…  And more importantly Roach, the most awkward and confusing crush of my young life…

*licks finger* Tssssss  (I can't believe I just wrote that...)

*licks finger* Tssssss
(I can’t believe I just wrote that…)

I wouldn’t be brought back into the mind of Wes Craven again until I was 13, and while hanging out with my cousin, my brother, again, decided that we would watch a Wes Craven film called A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, which at the time he stated was the best one.  Now that I have seen them all, I beg to differ, but I still enjoyed the flick, the bus ride at the end stuck with me more than the gore and questionable undertones.  That night I dreamed that I was in a fist fight with Freddy.  And pretty much from that point on, I was hooked.

In my collection now, at 26, is the entire collection of NIGHTMARE films, all four SCREAMs (1, 2, and 3 on VHS, 1, 2, 3, and 4 on blu-ray…  I really like SCREAM…), CURSED, MY SOUL TO TAKE, and THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW.  To say that I was a little effected about the news of Wes Craven’s passing is a definite understatement.  I don’t think I have ever ugly cried like that over the death of someone I have never met.

I stand corrected.

I stand corrected.

Wes Craven directed my youthful and teenage explorations in the horror genre.  People who love horror grew into it in different ways.  I believe those who were teenagers watching HALLOWEEN, or FRIDAY THE 13th, HELLRAISER, all have different experiences with the genre and are formed in their tastes accordingly.  When I was a teen, SCREAM is what really drove home the concept of good horror for me.  Not since (in my opinion) has a slasher franchise even touched the success or standing power of those films.  And to come out with a fourth film over ten years later and have it WORK?  Boy.

Wes Craven’s films have a certain flair to them.  When I was younger, and still on my way to being a surefire film nerd , I was about halfway through CURSED when I thought, “I bet this was directed by the same guy who did Nightmare.”  Wes Craven’s films have a personality all their own.  And with them, his memory will live on.

I am moving apartments soon and today decided I would throw on the SCREAM movies again (I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen them) but only just in the background while I packed…  Something I had seen at least a dozen times wouldn’t distract me from my business…

I couldn’t help but to watch them all from beginning to end.

Even SCREAM 3…

So with that little ramble I say rest in peace to a legend, to a great filmmaker, and to one of my heroes.  Wes, you formed my tastes in the horror genre, and dare I say made me a horror fan to begin with.  Your films (even the ones other people “SAY” they didn’t like) will continue to grow with me until I die.  Your brand of meta, semi-humorous, gore-filled films have made me who I am today and for that I thank you.

You and Freddy will live on in my nightmares.

xo
Jessie

<3

“Horror films don’t create fear, they release it.”  ~  Wes Craven

Interview with Leslie Easterbrook (!!!!!!!)

10 Sep

I am so honoured to say that I have had the absolute privilege to speak with the very talented Leslie Easterbrook.  This interview would have reached your eyes and brains and souls much sooner, had we not both been busy with different projects and in my case, gallivanting around.

I assume that we must have crossed paths at the busiest times of our lives, but somehow we made it work!

You will know Leslie from such films as: POLICE ACADEMY, HALLOWEEN (2007), THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, COMPOUND FRACTURE, SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE, and many others.

A legend of the genre, Leslie put up with your scatterbrained and eccentric blogger and gave us stories that may just rival anything you’ve ever gotten from this little blog that could.

I want to thank Leslie again for being so patient, and taking time out of her own overloaded schedule to give me (and YOU) some great answers.

Leslie Easterbrook

What’s your favourite scary movie?

Easy!  The Colossus of New York (1958). I’m not suggesting anyone rush out and buy this movie.  I love it, but not because it’s good.  It was the first scary movie I ever saw, and I took such a risk to see it that I nearly scared myself to death!

When I was in 5th grade I lived one block from Loup City, Nebraska’s only movie theatre.  That’s where I saw a ‘Coming Attraction’ for The Colossus.  It was only playing once as a ‘Midnight Movie’ the next Saturday night (Sunday morning) at 12:30 AM.   Gasp!  I HAD TO SEE IT, despite a resounding “NO” from the parents…

Never being good at taking direction, I cooked up a plan.  I invited my friend Jackie Tucker ( bless her heart, if she sees this I hope she will howl) for a sleep over on that Saturday night. We pretended to go to sleep, but kept our clothes on under our PJ’s, and our eyes on the clock.  We tossed the pj’s, tip toed out of my house, and ran to the theater just in time for the big event.  We had no trouble getting in because the theater was owned by parents of another classmate, Elaine Slomenski. Of course we had permission from our parents, duh…

The movie was wonderful, and we screamed our heads off.  That would be the end of the story if we hadn’t gotten cocky.  Feeling invincible, after the movie we stopped for hamburgers at the all night diner between the theater and my house.  The diner owner, and RAT, called my dad, and before we could gobble one bite of burger we were dragged out the door.  Yup, It was the best and worst night I can remember.  My punishment?  I was grounded for life, of course.

One of the most delicious coincidences of my career is that I got to work with Mala Powers, the young leading lady in The Colossus of New York, 3 times before she passed away.  Once on an episode of Murder She Wrote, and again in two separate radio dramas we recorded together for California Artist’s Radio Theatre.  She was a marvelous actress — and just as cool as I’d always imagined!

How did you get started in the business?

I will try to control the length of this answer — but your questions are too good, Jessie.  And complicated.  The problem with “How did you get started in the business?” is that my career has started over and over and over…  A nice flow would be ideal, but that ebb before each flow can break your heart.

Now, the best thing about starting over is it’s ultimately better each time out, but no one ever tells you this while you’re beating your head against the wall, and hanging by your fingernails…

I had the chance to choose between two careers at the same time.

I received an invitation to sing with the Burbank Symphony in Burbank, CA shortly before graduating from Stephens College in Columbia, MO.  My major was music, and my focus was opera.  A magnificent harpist, Virginia Ehrlich, was graduating with me and asked me to come to CA that summer and sing with the Burbank Symphony.  Her father was the president of the symphony.  Coincidence?  Yes!

It was a thrilling opportunity to meet and sing with the revered Rudolph Friml.   He was an important composer of classical and contemporary music.  He scored early films in Hollywood and was being honored by the concert.  He played piano for me as I sang his songs with the orchestra, many of which I already knew.  He was 92 that summer, and it turned out to be his last live orchestral appearance.

It was a wonderful experience, and while I was visiting and performing in CA my life (and plans) changed dramatically.

  1.  A trombonist in the symphony invited a friend who was a talent agent at a very fancy agency in town.  We met after the concert.
  1.  Talent agent, and lifelong friend, Frank Levy convinced me to give up grad school at Juilliard, join The Opera Workshop at UCLA, audition for the Musical Theatre Workshop at the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, and to stay in LA for at least a year.  (well, he put me on a good path.  I got into the workshop — and to pay for all this I became an usherette at the Music Center.)
  1.  Near the end of that year I had two job offers.  The first was from Spring Opera, San Francisco Opera’s touring company, to play Flora in the glorious opera “La Traviatta,” and the second was to play Snow White in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” at the St. Louis Municipal Opera for The Disney Company.  Flora paid $70 a week, but Snow White paid $1000 a week, and offered the chance to join Actors’ Equity.  Who was kidding who?  I grabbed Snow, bid a fond adieu to the opera, and began a career in the theatre, TV, and film.  Was I crazy?  Who cares?  I rant and rave at the BUSINESS…but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
  1.  And now, as a ‘well seasoned’ actor, I am getting to work for indie filmmakers.  I love it!  Sometimes it’s like riding bareback, but I broke ponies as a girl, so bring it on!

What was it like working with Rob Zombie?

Working with Rob Zombie is absolutely wonderful.  His social demeanor is very much like his professional one.   He’s friendly, warm, courteous, thoughtful, irreverent, funny –and  the smartest guy in the room.  He is also always on the move!  His fans often tell me that he is quick and abrupt when signing autographs after his concerts.  I always laugh at the responses I get when I ask if he was discourteous, because he isn’t.  He just tries to be fair, and get to everyone he can before being whisked off to another location.

Rob can handle a vast number of things at the same time without shorting any one of them.  As a director this is his job, of course, but very few accomplish it with the grace he does.  In the height of the moment, and even when he’s losing the light and still has two set-ups left on his shot list for the day, he always welcomes questions and/or suggestions, considers them, and responds fairly.  He is quick, clear and decisive, never demeaning or impatient.  He’s as good as it gets!

Do you have any more film opportunities coming up?

Funny you should ask.  I have been having the time of my life working in Indies, and often with new filmmakers.  It is a thrill to be asked, and I learn something valuable on every shoot.  I find that when you take away the glamour and the gloss, the work becomes more honest, making it ultimately more gratifying.  It seems that working for passion is miles above working for a living, but learning to live on passion has been a bit of a challenge!

I will be shooting a film called Finger of God later this month here in LA, and Sugar Skull Girls in PA in July.  Hopefully, in July, as well, I will be shooting Penance Lane for (and with) my dear friends Tyler Mane and his very talented wife, Renae Gerlings in North Carolina.  Down Angel (Colorado) has been postponed.  We’re considering doing an Indiegogo campaign for it later this summer, and I am definitely planning a big Indiegogo push for yet another film, Vendetta.  I will take my first producer plunge with Vendetta, partnering with film composer Timothy Andrew Edwards, who introduced me to you.  (I have received a producer credit on several other movies, but only participated on camera and/or in post production.)  Neither Timothy or I have produced a film from scratch before, so luckily we won’t be producing it by ourselves.  Hopefully we will be quick learners.  Wish us luck!!

I know this answer is long, but I would like to mention some other films which are in different stages of completion and distribution.  Your readers may be able to view some of them if they know the titles.  The movie Greater is an exception to the rule here.  It had a bigger budget and has a more recognizable cast — Neal McDonough, Michael Parks, Nick Searcy.  It is the story of Brandon Burlsworth, an extraordinary young man who was the first college ‘walk on’ football player ever to be picked in the first round of the NFL draft.  Tragically, he was killed before he ever got to play his first professional game.

Here are some other titles to look for:  The Wedding Pact, Compound Fracture, Clubhouse, NightLights, Hollywood and Wine, Black Water Transit, L.A. Dirt, Rivers 9, House of the Witchdoctor, Daddy, and Number Runner

Do you prefer working in film or on stage?

I love them both. but I prefer film.  The work can be more subtle, intimate and immediate.  You can take risks with a character.  And, thank the Good Lord, you don’t have to live with your first take!  Creating out of sequence can be frustrating, but the challenge makes it worth it.

On stage you tell an entire story in every performance.  It’s more satisfying, yes, but also terrifying.  If you screw it up, that audience will never see the play the way it was intended.  And the audience is always a part of every moment of every play.   On stage you can hear it breath, whisper, and rustle.  It becomes a character in the drama.

I prefer working on film, but oh, you make me realize how much I miss the community of the theatre.

A Rash Exclusive: Interview with Justin Beahm!

9 Jan

With the 35th anniversary of the HALLOWEEN Franchise coming up in October, I figured what better way to get the celebration started early than to treat you (and me!) to an interview with Justin Beahm!

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Justin Beahm works with Trancas Films (they own the HALLOWEEN franchise) and is a senior writer for Fangoria Magazine.

Justin was freaking awesome enough to sit down with me (over social media (I can’t afford a ticket to L.A. (yet))) and talk about the upcoming anniversary, his new book “Halloween: The Complete Authorized History” and the sCare Foundation, a non-profit organization that he is a part of.

I hope you guys enjoy the interview!

Jessie:  So you’re a part of Trancas Films, what exactly do you do there?

Justin:  My official title is Vice President of Licensing and New Media. That translates into my role being in development of new products/releases for digital, theatrical, web, print, and other outlets. Also work with the merchandising side of things, dealing with licensed products. Currently working on some new masks for the mass market, for example. In addition, I handle the websites and social media side of things.
We are very much a team, with everyone wearing many hats and working together in every way. 

Jessie:  Speaking of theatrical, we saw a re-release of HALLOWEEN I (1978) to some theaters last Fall. Tell me a little bit about the decision making behind that.

Justin:  That started out as a relatively compact concept to put the original film back into theaters in a few cities around the country, and blossomed into something we never expected. Originally we were just chatting with several theater chains, and eventually Screenvision approached us wanting to take it on in a much bigger way.
It was clear from the start that the principal people involved at Screenvision were fans of the film, which made all the difference in the world. They got it. Originally we all talked about an estimated 300 theaters, and in the end we did more than double that, including the first ever theatrical run for HALLOWEEN in the UK.
Fan response was amazing, the box office was very strong, and I think it proved that re-releasing film in this way is legitimate, despite a lack of studio backing or anything like that. We were thrilled that everyone showed the support they did. Just amazing.

Jessie:  Along with the re-release, the 35th anniversary of the franchise is coming up this October, and I hear that you are writing a book to be released around the same time. What are you going to be covering in the book?

Justin:  Yeah, I am writing the official book on the franchise, although we are looking at a 2014 release at this point. The book is going to give each film in the series equal attention, with behind the scenes stories from many of the people involved, as well as wall to wall photos, artifacts, and memorabilia. Quite an undertaking!
We are very excited about this year being the 35th Anniversary, and we are putting the pieces together on some special things for fans over the next 12 months.

Jessie:  Are they all surprises or can we get a sneak peek on a few of them right now? 😉 haha

Justin:  This series is perfect for this kind of treatment, because most of what has been documented has focused on Carpenter’s 1978 original. That leaves nine other films (to date) to explore, so the stories are plentiful, and the revelations are many.
I don’t want to give too much away in advance, but one interesting story that I have shared came when Robert Englund and I were chatting a few months ago about something unrelated, and he happened to mention he actually helped out on the set of the original Halloween, acting as a leaf wrangler for several days.
That blew me away. Horror cross pollination…
Oh…you are talking about for the 35th…
I don’t want to build any hopes just yet, so I would prefer not to comment on what is in the works, sorry haha.

Jessie:  The best kind of cross pollination haha. And I was hoping for either/or in secrets, both are appreciated! I for one am extremely excited about the book, I think it’s going to be very popular.
Can you tell me a bit about the sCare Foundation?

Justin:  Founder (and Trancas President) Malek Akkad’s sister Rima, and his father Moustapha, were lost in a terrorist bombing in Jordan in 2005, and Malek created the sCare Foundation in 2010 to carry on Rima’s philanthropic and humanitarian legacy.
Malek and I teamed up on the Foundation in the summer of that year, and it has been growing and expanding ever since.
sCare is a group of horror and suspense entertainment personalities working to combat teenage homelessness and poverty. Our honorary board includes people like John Carpenter, James Wan, and other familiar faces. Our advisory board is a cross section of the entertainment world, with everyone from Fangoria editor Chris Alexander to Rob Zombie’s manager Andy Gould and beyond.
Each year our key event lands at the end of October, something we call the Annual Halloween Benefit, and that has really become our calling card. The first year we celebrated the career of Jamie Lee Curtis, presenting her our Humanitarian of the Year award. Last year we raised our glasses to Malcolm McDowell with a Lifetime Achievement award, and Halloween alum Kyle Richards as our Humanitarian of the Year.
This year’s award recipient is a big one, and we will be making the announcement very soon. Stay tuned! 

Jessie:  Wow, that is a very touching story and a wonderful cause. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for any news coming from the sCare Foundation.
I’m really excited and honoured that you agreed to do this interview Justin and I thank you for your time and the information you provided.
To wrap things up I’ve got one last question. What’s your favourite scary movie and why?

Justin:  It is hard to pick out just one favorite scary movie, as I have been swimming in them for so much of my life. My first exposure was with the Universal monster film cycle. I fell in love with all those classic creatures, and reading about them led to everything else. I was hooked on those Crestwood House monster books, and wore out all the copies at the Marion, Iowa public library (where I grew up). That library was a temple for me. Oddly enough, it is now a temple…converted into a church, from what I hear.
I had a buddy in grade school who was lucky enough to have a subscription to Fangoria magazine, and he would bring them to school for me to read. That had a big influence. Then Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and so on. When video became a big thing, I started renting any and everything I could get my hands on.
My family had accounts everywhere, from Phar-Mor to Best Buy (they used to rent videos!), the drug store, and so on. Those were the days. My buddies and I would rent armloads of videos at a time and pour over them all. That is how I was introduced to Troma, AIP, and all the side roads in cinema. Through that education, I learned to love all film, and not just restrict myself to one genre. I also learned to embrace the low and ultra-low budget stuff that I now probably celebrate more than anything else.
Sorry to ramble. I get all nostalgic for those days, and can talk forever about it.

I will be waiting (bated breath and all) for any news coming from Trancas Films for the 35th anniversary of HALLOWEEN and, I’m sorry, I just can’t wait for the book.

I would like to thank Justin again for taking the time out of his crazy busy schedule to answer a few questions. It was hugely appreciated and a little nerve-racking 😉

You can check out Justin’s great cause the sCare foundation’s website or make a donation here (sCare is a 501c3 non-profit organization).

You can also check out Justin’s website here, and Trancas Film’s website here

Stay scared my friends!
xx
Jessie

Tweet Tweet Horror

8 Jan

With everyone joining Twitter nowadays (even my mom has a Twitter account now) I got to thinking about all of the amazing celebrities that have verified accounts and even better, all of the HORROR celebrities that have verified accounts and thought, hey… there are probably like a bajillion fans out there who have no idea about half of these people.

So… today (or should I say this year…) I decided to make a list of awesome Horror people that are on Twitter.  From actors to directors to parody accounts of your favourite movie slashers, I’ve compiled a gigantic list that I will be adding to periodically.

I’ve also categorized them… So you don’t get all confused… Here goes.

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The Classics – These are the people we know and love from classic horror films

  • @GroovyBruce – Bruce Campbell or Ash from the Evil Dead series…  Need I say more?  Oh, yeah, HAIL TO THE KING BABY!
  • @RobertBEnglund – The Freddy Kreuger.  The.
  • @CurtisLeeJamie – For all of you Halloween fans out there, or Prom Night fans… or Terror Train fans.  Just think eighties slasher flick.  Jamie Lee Curtis probably rocked the hell out of it.  The original Scream Queen.

CABIN IN THE WOODS – Ok, ok I’m obsessed.  But if you loved CABIN as much as I do, here are a couple for you.

  • @iJesseWilliams – regular on Grey’s Anatomy also happens to be Holden in CABIN.  And he like… totally retweeted me.  Like for realz.  I’m serial.

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  • @FranKranz – MARTY!!! “Poptarts? Did you say you have Poptarts?”
  • @actorbrianwhite – Truman!  The new guy.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – I like sexy vampires.  Do you like sexy vampires?  Here’s some sexy vampires…

  • @iansomerhalder – Yeah.  Ian Somerhalder.  A.K.A Damon Salvatore.  You’re welcome.
  • @JosephMorgan – Or if you’re like me, Team Klaus and all, you’ll looove this account.  And every time he refers to his followers as “sweethearts”. *swoon*
  • @PaulWesley – This is for the Stefan fans.  Because apparently there are some out there somewhere…

SUPERNATURAL – Oh those brothers…

  • @jarpad – Jared Padalecki, A.K.A Sam Winchester
  • @MishaCollins – The adorable angel Castiel (LOML…(love of my life))
  • @jumblejim – Jim Beaver!  Bobby!  Ok so he’s not on anymore.  But he was such a big part I had to include him.
  • @Mark_Sheppard – Crowley!  Love him.
  • @OsricChau – Our prophet Kevin Tran.
  • @TyOlsson – The lovable teddy bear/vampire Benny
  • @LaurenTom9000 – Mama Tran!
  • For more Supernatural Tweeters, past and present check out the freaking awesome SuperWiki page.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY – My new favourite show.  I am fully addicted.  And I keep getting my friends and family addicted.  I’m like a pusher.

  • @adamlevine – Ok so he was only on for five minutes or whatever.  He did a great job!  Props. (S2)
  • @t_farmiga – Taissa Farmiga, or, Violet Harmon.  (S1)
  • @MsSarahPaulson – She’s been in both seasons, playing the strong-willed Lana Winters this season (S2).
  • @DylanMcDermott – Both seasons, Doctor Harmon in season 1.
  • @Zachary Quinto – Both seasons as well.  Doctor Oliver Thredson this season (S2).

HALLOWEEN (2007)

  • @RWZombie – Mr. Rob Zombie himself.
  • @PoutyScouty – Scout Taylor Compton or Laurie Strode

Industry Folk – A couple of people working in the idustry

  • @JustinBeahm – Justin is with Trancas Films (HALLOWEEN franchise) and senior writer for Fangoria Magazine… But we’ll find out all about him soon! (Muah-ah-ah!!!)
  • @DrewDaywalt – Director of some of my favourite shorts, and a couple awesome features too!  Read the interview!
  • @Ti_West – beautiful man, makes beautiful movies.  THE INNKEEPERS, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, and most recently the V/H/S segment “Second Honeymoon”.

Parody Accounts – Random people taking on murderous monsters and slashers personas for fun… Seems legit.

  • @ElmStreetWired – Freddy Kreuger
  • @JasonLVoorhees – That’s kinda straight forward who he is…
  • @OfficSlenderman – There’s even a Slenderman!  A little spooky when he starts following you…

There you have it.  And yes… This DID take me a long time.  Have fun being scared through social media.

Thanks for coming out – ♥

Jessie