Category Archives: American Indie
What do you get when you’ve got a wannabe vampire and an actual vampire living together? Well, in episode 2 of Vampz! you get a dead, coked up vampire hunter. Whoopsies! Not to mention a very drunk little brother who stumbles upon the scene.
I am totes digging on this web series – it’s fun, it’s quirky and it’s got so many things I love (like vampires!). Plus the special effects are pretty groovy for a (I’m assuming) lo-budget production. There’s not a ton of special effects, no over the top CGI or anything but the few they use feel very organic and really enhance the plot. Major kudos for that, guys.
I also really, really love the character of Ashlee (not to mention the actress that plays her). She’s adorable (like me! ;)). All the characters are fun but she’s definitely my fave.
I’m not sure how many more episodes are in this season (I know 3 is out and 4 is about to hit the net) but I’m excited and I really hope there’s a second season as well. Hmmm…I wonder if there will be new characters? Or bit parts? Ahem….
Check out Episode 2 in all it’s glory, y’all and let me know if you’re digging it as much as I am!
This was originally posted on Rogue Cinema back in February but now that the rest of the series has been going up, I’m reviewing the whole thing here, episode by episode. To read the original, go here!
VAMPZ!, written by Omar Attia and Lenny Buccellato, is about the supernatural hijinks & misadventures of Simone, a “wannabe vampire” and her ditzy cheerleader roomie, Ashlee. Described on their Facebook page as “a horror comedy webisode series that could be described as Fright Night meets Three’s Company (without even a whiff of Twilight)”, I’d say it’s exactly that (although Twilight is mentioned though only in mocking ;)).
Currently, there’s only the first episode of this web series up on YouTube and it starts out strong with Simone interviewing several people as potential roommates. As the view switches from potential roommate to potential roommate, their hilarious stories of roommates past and their interests (really? Tentacle porn??) overlap to create a hysterical montage that really drives home the fact that finding someone to live with is scary business. To add to that scariness, when the three potentials say to Simone, “Gee, you kind of look like a vampire…” she responds with, “I AM a vampire! Duh!”. Oh Simone, with your black hair and gothy ways…we’ll see how far that gets you in life…
After another day of hapless searching, Simone’s annoying fraternal twin brother comes over to cheer her up. Or something. Then arrives, Ashlee, who can best be described as one of those annoyingly cheerful, ditzy cheerleader girls that you always kind of wanted to kick in high school. Simone is full of “No effing way!” till her brother points out that she’s already said no to 30 something other people and can’t pay the rent herself. With a sigh of disgust, Simone agrees to let Ashlee move in.
So what happens next? Oh, but that’s much too fun to give away, dear reader, so you’ll simply have to watch for yourself. This is exactly the kind of web series I love – silly, irreverent and with a touch of darkness. The script is fun and I love the way this is shot – not sure what kind of camera they used but there’s a blur around the edges that makes it all a little dreamy (oh and speaking of dreams, wait till you see the dream sequence in this one. Ha!). All the actors do a fine job with their parts with the stand out being Louis Bacigalup as Simone’s annoying brother (seriously I kinda wanna give the guy a good kick to the shins).
So head on over to Youtube and check them out!
So I’m having a problem wherein I keep trying to watch movies, ALL the movies, and my heart just isn’t into it. It’s entirely frustrating. I have more free time now but every time I turn something on, I just can’t seem to get into it no matter how good (or ludicrous) it may be. So as a result, I’ve been either catching up on tv shows on Netflix (Walking Dead, Chuck, that Breaking Bad thing people seem to love) or just not watching anything – I’m in a really big reading mood lately (probably because this is honestly the first time I’ve had a chance for reading in like, 6 months and I’m somewhere a step beyond the “avid” reader type so not being able to read has been just devastating. Yes, that’s melodramatic, I know. ;)). So I dunno, maybe I’ll throw some book reviews up on here at some point. I’m finally reading Doctor Sleep btw – the book I got for my birthday TWO MONTHS ago. I’ve missed blogging though and missed the interaction so I’m trying to blog and read you guys’ blogs as much as I can.
What else? Well, filming on my web series is almost complete. One more day of filming this Sunday and we move into post. I’ve seen some of the footage and it looks good. :) There’s small things of course – I think I’ll have to make it a game when it comes to continuity errors – we tried our hardest but sometimes trees will have leaves and sometimes they will not… ;) But it does look good and I hope that it actually IS good and I REALLY hope that you guys enjoy it. I just started writing Season 2 as well!
Other than the web series, I’m about to start work on a short film, something dark and artsy and gritty and a whole 2 minutes long, with one of my favorite directors…and I can’t wait. :) Then in January, we start pre-production on the movie version of our updated Hamlet where I’ll be playing Horatio again. And I’m waiting to hear back about one more project. So there’s definitely no lack of work happening here! I love it.
And other than that, I’ve been sick – really sick. Like rushed to the ER one day kind of sick. I’m okay now, much better, but these issues are going to be ongoing (it’s a combination of a lot of smaller issues – some physical, some more on the emotional health side of things). I’ve got a team of doctors though and am considering switching out some doctors and yeah, am doing what I can to get back to 100% but it definitely affects blogging and movie watching (may be the reason I’m having trouble watching things as of late).
I HAVE watched a lot of stuff I can’t review, lol. I watched the newest Star Trek last night and saw the new Thor on Sunday. Watched Pacific Rim a couple of weeks ago along with This is the End. So yeah, I’ve actually been mainstreaming it more lately (shhhhh! Don’t tell!!! ;-p). Light and fluffy seems to be the way to go at the moment. Ah, well, I’m sure the conflicting movie emotions will get resolved right? Probably just similar to writers’ block.
Anyway, for the moment, here’s this month’s Rogue Cinema offerings. Hopefully you’ll find something you like!
So…was I the only person who wasn’t aware that Lisa Loeb had an acting career? Because yeah…that was the best thing Serial Killing 101 had going for it. Not even Thomas Haden Church could save this atrocity (although he had the one funny line in the whole thing). Okay, Corey Feldman’s cameo was kickawesome too. Just overall…it always makes me sad when a movie has a decent cast, has a decent idea and just can’t follow through.
Casey (Justin Urich) is a teen who is having some issues lately – he’s moody and cranky and well, ya know, a teenager. Plus his dad died a year ago, so there’s that. And there’s of course a girl, Sasha (Lisa Loeb), whom he desperately wants to impress. And a gym teacher (Thomas Haden Church) who seems to have a personal vendetta against him. What’s the solution to all these issues? Becoming a serial killer – DUH! Although that works mostly to impress Sasha because she’s like TOTALLY GOTH and shiz. TOTES.
And one more thing – while Casey is studying up on how to be a serial killer (because basically this film is just that, a tutorial), there’s a real serial killer running around serial killing teenage girls. We only see one murder but it’s a doozy. Our serial killer kills the Annoying Ditzy Popular Blond by…wait for it…stuffing a doll in her mouth! OMG. The insanity.
Basically this flick is suffering from a severe lack of plot. All we see are Casey and Sasha reading books on serial killing and going to the library (apparently this was before internet?); Casey’s lame attempts to kill (he can’t even dissect a frog in biology, y’all!) and his murderous daydreams which are just downright stupid. I read on Wiki that someone said this movie is better than it has any right to be – um…I’m guessing someone has never seen another movie before? This is much worse than it has a right to be. The story is inane and there’s no mystery as to who the real serial killer is. There’s also not much in the way of funny happening. The only thing I liked were the PE coach’s insistence on always referring to PE as “gymnasium class” (with a Southern accent) and Corey Feldman’s “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo.
Don’t waste your time on this one. There’s way better dark comedies out there.
I recently got the opportunity to chat with director/writer Daniel Benedict whose latest film, Bunni, premieres today. The premiere is being hosted by Verite Cinema and owner Pj Starks has this to say, “I’m stoked that Verite Cinema will be hosting the premiere of Daniels film. Since 2007 my goal was to showcase local talent and ultimately use my connections to help aspiring filmmakers reach the next level. By setting up the premiere of BUNNI, this definitely falls into line with what I want to accomplish. It should be a fun event and I look forward to seeing Daniel get his film out there. It’s a big and exciting step. I’m glad I can be apart of that journey.” Learn more about Daniel, his love of horror and all about Bunni below! Also be sure to visit the Red Serial Films website to watch the Bunni trailer (I’m super excited to see this one!!).
ML: Bunni is your latest film. You’ve been making films (8 shorts and 3 features to be exact) since 1994 and all in the genre of horror. What draws you to horror?
DB: I’ve always been obsessed with monsters, villains, and scary things of all kinds. The only books I used to check out of my elementary school’s library were ones on ghosts or the Universal movie monsters, etc. As I got older and was able to see R rated films, an entire new world opened up for me. A wonderful world of masked murderers and dream stalkers. So in 1994, a friend and I decided to get together and make our own Friday the 13th sequel. We had just seen Jason Goes to Hell at the drive-in the previous summer and thought we could continue the story. So I convinced my parents and grandparents to play the victims , which resulted in the most valuable (to me) VHS tape of all-time.
ML: Bunni was produced by Red Serial Films – is this your company or did they simply call you in to direct this? If it is your company, can you tell us a little about Red Serial Films?
DB: Red Serial Films was started by myself and long-time friend Steven Boling who served as producer for Bunni. He and I had been involved in making films since the late 90’s. So when the time came to start production on Bunni, we decided we needed to take the next step, gather together some highly creative talent, and create a brand striving to produce quality entertainment.
ML: So you also wrote Bunni?
DB: I started writing the script in the fall of 2010. I bounced it around among Steve, our script supervisors, and special effects team for about a year. This enabled us to flesh out the plot and characters more, work out the kinks, fill in the holes, and gave us a really cohesive story.
ML: Bunni, from the trailer, looks to be a slasher film. What’s the synopsis?
DB: Bunni takes a classic slasher stance. Basically four people are walking home from a Halloween party and make the terrible mistake of breaking into an abandoned building where a killer waits to bludgeon them. Two of the group discover what appears to be living quarters and a disturbing home video that reveals a horrific truth.
We’re by no means redefining the horror genre; our goal was to create an entertaining movie with originality at the same time paying homage to slasher films of the past. And I think we’ve accomplished that.
ML: Can you tell us a little about the cast of Bunni and what they’ve done before this?
DB: Mercedez Varble portrays Paige- the film’s protagonist. Mercedez is involved with the Theater Workshop of Owensboro and most recently starred in their production of Little Shop of Horrors. Paige’s boyfriend, Chris, is played by Kent Blue who is a regular cast member on the October Road Youtube channel.
ML: Is directing and filmmaking your full time gig or do you have a “day job”?
DB: I currently produce tv commercials as a living, so I’m constantly writing/directing. I hope to be able to continue to do feature films and take it as far as I can.
ML: Do you have any advice for future directors and filmmakers?
DB: I would tell anyone interested in doing films to just make one regardless of your resource limitations. Use whatever equipment you have, collaborate with anyone willing to help you, and create something that you love. Everyone has to start somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you have a Red Epic or a Sony Handycam, or whether you use Final Cut Pro or edit with 2 VCR’s, a cassette player, and Mario Paint (which is what I started with.)
Also, be willing to compromise, selflessly help others as much as you can, and please don’t get an ego. That’s so annoying.
If you’re a long time reader of this site, then you’ve heard me mention Jeremiah Kipp a few times. His short films were one of the first things I ever reviewed here and I’ve also interviewed him for Rogue Cinema. I also may or may not have repeatedly begged him to cast me in something because I really love his work and I may or may not have completely embarrassed myself in doing so….ahem…anyway….
The latest thing he’s working on is something that is very exciting for me not only because it’s a horror thing but also because in the “About” video on Indiegogo they mention Hansel & Gretel which means it’s kind of a horror/fairy tale mesh which totally hits my sweet spot cause we all know how I feel about those two things! I mean, we do all know, right? I have made that pretty clear on this site, right? *giggles*
Anyway, they ARE running a campaign on Indiegogo so if you are so inclined, hit them up with a couple of bucks or if you have a friend you think would dig on this, give them the heads up. Because if this doesn’t get made, I might cry. :( You wouldn’t want to see me cry would you???
Coming Up Next on Cinema Schminema: Bad Milo, The American Scream, Velvet Elvis, interviews and more!
So I got the heads up about this baby from writer/director, Jim Ojala. Jim has a professional background in Special Makeup/Creature FX (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Deadgirl, PROXY, Hellboy 2, Where the Wild Things Are, Pacific Rim, etc.)- HE WORKED ON BUFFY!!!! *SQUEAL OF EXCITEMENT* Ahem…I’m back….So how does his special makeup background fit in? Well, Strange Nature is an eco-thriller that revolves around the ongoing unsolved frog deformity outbreaks in the U.S. and the dangerous places they may lead. With Jim’s awesome special effects background, he and the rest of his team can bring the more fantastic elements of where these deadly deformities can lead to startling realism in the film….plus it helps keep practical FX alive! If people believe it on screen maybe they’ll pay attention to the real problem as well.
Also cool is the support they’ve gotten from the ecological community. One of their strongest supporters, Dr. Pieter Johnson of University of Colorado, and his research team found a population of frogs in Oregon this year where every frog suffered a deformity…100% deformity rate. The problem is growing and the cast and crew of Strange Nature hope to expose that.
Right now, these guys are working with Kickstarter to try to raise funds for the film. They only have 6 days left to raise the money (so far they’re halfway there!) so if this is the sort of thing you’d like to see, click the link above, swing by and check out their Kickstarter and donate a buck or two!
You can also check out their website to learn more about the film including what they’ve done so far to get started as well as lots of videos! Just click that link there that says “website” and away you’ll go!
I dunno, I think it looks pretty cool and pretty unique so I’d definitely like to see this thing get made.
Oh, 7 Below, you were such a disappointment. *sighs* I mean, I wasn’t exactly expecting too much from a movie I’d never heard of featuring Val Kilmer but still. How is it possible for one movie to be SOOOO boring?? Especially when you’re supposed to be a horror/mystery/thriller…at least I think that’s what you were attempting to be…
K, so we start out with these kidlets and the rest of their family back in old-fashioned times (yes, that’s what I’m calling it now when I can’t remember what the actual year was). Creepy boy there decides that it’d be super fun to kill his whole fam so he does. Then we flash forward to the present where there’s a whole bunch of people on a bus going…um…somewhere…maybe a retreat? Anyway, Val Kilmer is there and he STILL does not look like he did when he played Jim Morrison and was totes a hottie and I think that makes him a little sad sometimes. But his character is this total jerkface who cheats on his wife. Then there’s a pair of brothers and a doctor with an accent. And a girl who works at a gas station who has an accent. Then there’s Ving Rhames, who when this bus breaks down, shows up and invites them all to his house. And when they get there he’s like, “Yeah, there’s no phone. You guys are fucked.” Totes random and weird.
Then people start dying or something but it’s really boring so I stopped paying so attention. And the doctor with the accent is a terrible, terrible actor who basically repeated the same line over and over “I don’t know how this happened!” in a wooden, emotionless voice. We get it Dr. Accent, no need to repeat yourself 800 times seriously. I think he was the 2nd to die though so that was good. And then, I dunno, there was something about the house being a time warp (but not the fun Rocky Horror kind) and everybody on the bus was a reincarnation of the family from old-fashioned times or something and Ving Rhames was the devil. I think. It really didn’t make a lot of sense.
Tis a silly movie, no fun whatsoever. Boo hiss!
What the FUCK did I just try to watch?? What the FUCK?? Eminem what the hell were you thinking appearing in this? What was anyone thinking?? My respect for Eminem took a nose dive after attempting this atrocity (and yes, I do like Eminem’s music, big fan actually).
This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:
“After learning about the “Hip Hop Witch”, a powerful supernatural being that lurks in the ghettos and attacks upcoming rappers which makes their record sales go up, five suburban teenagers go on a quest to get their rap careers started by being attacked by said witch. Filming their experience, they run into past hip hop stars that have already battled the Witch in person.”
I didn’t get that far of course. After Eminem appeared, I gave up and quickly, The cinematography was shite and I couldn’t tell what was going on and it was just so bad I wanted to cry. Poor rap stars. You all need hugs after this.
So yeah, Da Hip Hop Witch should be avoided at all costs. Go find your favorite rapper in another movie, yo. Trust me.
Has anyone else seen this?? I feel so bad for Rosario Dawson for having starred in Gemini Division. That’s so mean, isn’t it?…Yeah, it really is but this thing is also just really bad, really poorly done. This actually reminds me a lot of a webseries I was on back in the early 00s – we were out shooting with handhelds in an old drive in and relied mostly on CGI…this thing has the same effect. They had more money though than we.
I stumbled across this bad, bad boy on Netflix and I dig Rosario (seriously girl, I think you’re pretty amazeballs so please don’t take the whole “why the fuck did you do this thing??” too personally!!) and it said it was a television show and looked intriguing so I went, “Yay!”. 40 minutes later I paused to take a break and went, “Oh my gosh, are you freaking kidding me??? I have a whole other hour to get through?? Dammit.” Yeah…Googled it after and it seems this wasn’t a television show but a web series done in 2008, or sort of a web series anyway. According to Wiki, this was originally done in 5 to 7 minute long episodes that aired on NBC.com as well as being shown to some cable subscribers on their t.v. via On Demand. Knowing it’s a web series makes it a little less forgivable but still. Just still.
Okay, so Rosario plays this chick, Anna Diaz, who used to be a cop. Then she meets this too good to be true dude named Nick, who well, really was too good to be true because he was a SiM (which is exactly what you think it is – a simulated life form). Robot Boy (is that politically correct to call him Robot Boy?? Cause I’m gonna) is a military deserter (cause that’s why SiM’s were created to just go be soldiers to keep down the whole people dying thing) along with the rest of his SiM company. For whatever reason, this particular troop’s thingamajigs malfunctioned and now they’re all “We wanna be human and live!!!”. Unfortch for them they all have expiration dates and eventually we find out that Robot Boy is trying to artificially inseminate the love of his life, Anna, whom I think he met like three weeks earlier. But it’s like totes romantical that he’s doing this without her knowledge – knocking her up with something that’s never been seen before and nobody has any idea what will happen – because he thinks she’s bee-ay-yoo-tiful. Obvis, that makes robot/alien/human baby making FINE. MEN, I swear. *sighs*
Anywho, Nick gets killed right after he proposes to Anna and then Anna gets picked up by these people called Gemini Division who’s a group that hunts down SiMs, I guess, and then she starts working for them so she can get all the secrets and the rest of the thing is her calling a “friend”, i.e. the viewer, on some phone link thing and having conversations with the occasional flashback thrown in for explanation.
The main issue here, minus the inane plot, is that 95% of this is green screened and the CGI is soooo bad. So bad. So cheesy. Anna and some wack dude she picks up in Mexico City have some sort of weapons that shoot circular laser beams and it’s like watching Tom & Jerry all over again. Oy. SO not good. The entire series is simply the link conversations which can work as a format in small doses. Sometimes we need exposition, people! Seriously. And the plot?? Okay, SiMs and Gemini. Check. Anna. Check. Then a whole bunch of freaking random people thrown in, including a 19 year old former junkie who’s also a genius heiress, that just ends with a convoluted…convolution? Oh, you know what I’m trying to say right? I got the distinct impression that by about halfway through this, Rosario herself was wondering why she’d agreed to this. I could almost just feel the waves of embarrassment rolling off her. Poor thing, you just wanna give her a hug.
I dunno, I’m sure this is a cult classic for some people out there and I know better than most the limitations of doing a web series. I just think that if you have money and sponsorships, your product should look better than something I made with no money and sponsorships when I was 24. Just sayin’.