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Now in our ninth calendar year!
PCR #449 (Vol. 9, No. 44) This edition is for the week of October 27--November 2, 2008.

Halloween Horror Picture Show 2008: A Different View
Words and Pictures by C. A. Passinault

"Changeling" by Mike Smith
Retro-Ween 2008 by ED Tucker
Kings of Leon: Only By The Night by Bobby Tyler
Spooky Empire's Ultimate Horror Weekend 2008 by Chris Woods
Zombie Night at the Beach Theater: The Halloween Horror Picture Show, 2008 by John Miller
Halloween Horror Picture Show 2008: A Different View by C. A. Passinault
Happy Halloween .... Birthday Boy .... Great News Delivered .... Fantasy Football by Matt Drinnenberg
Anthony .... Chiller Theatre .... Spooky No Longer .... Bond -- James Bond .... Sacred No Longer .... It Worked On Bewitched .... No No No No I Don't Sign Them No More .... Passing On .... And The Oscar For 1974 Should Have Gone To... by Mike Smith
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It's that time of the year again. Halloween. Regardless of what you do, whether you strike out to attend every film festival / Halloween event, or dress up like The Joker for your Halloween night, this is the season for fun.

Please note, that, before I begin this review, That Chris Woods and John Miller, from what I hear, attended the "Halloween Horror Picture Show" (although I donít believe that it was, technically, the Halloween Horror Picture Show- I will address this later in this review) on Saturday evening, October 25. They obviously experienced the main thrust of the "multi-day" film festival, because on the day that I went, it was the last day, although my day was the only day that showed Tampa indie films. For the complete picture of this event, cross-reference this review with the one that John Miller is doing.

Ahem..... now, to begin.

It was my day, the Sunday of the end of the Halloween Horror Picture Show. I chose this day for the indie films, pinning it down as the actual Halloween Horror Picture Show film festival, and because of my hectic schedule. I had worked 20 hours the day before, and surprisingly, felt pretty good after my four hours of sleep. I loaded up my car with supplies and headed to the Interstate. Racing through the gears on the on-ramp to I75 south, I bolted on at high speed, controlling the traffic around me as I settled into my lane and set the cruise control.

My friend Ann Poonkasem, who was at a model party near Bayshore in south Tampa, called and said she wanted directions to the Halloween Horror Picture Show film festival. Ann, who is the present Miss Gasparilla, a former Miss Tampa USA, and a professional model, singer, actor, and entertainer, was curious about the film festival, and planned on joining me later. Half keeping my eye on the road, I read off the address to her, and then ended the call, noticing that it was now 4:10 PM, and that I was not going to make it by the 4:30 start of the indie films.

The trip to the Halloween Horror Picture Show was a good fifty miles from home, and took me almost an hour and two tolls. Luckily, the venue for the film festival, The Beach Theatre in St Pete Beach, was not difficult to find. The area around the Theatre, however, was quiet and sparsely populated, which seemed to suit the limited parking just fine.

Upon arrival, I met up with HHPS film festival organizer Rick Danford. I unloaded my camera and recording gear from my car, and asked Danford where everyone was. He told me that they were inside the Theatre watching the indie film shorts, and that the record-breaking crowds were the night before (once again, see John Miller's review..... I heard from Chris Woods, who was there with him, that the event was packed, and was a lot of fun). Upon hearing Rick's explanation, and especially after hearing news that Krista (the star of Alarum) and all the other local Tampa indie film celebrities were there the night before, I wished that I could have been there. That was in the past, however, and I resolved to make the most of the current situation, although I knew that I would never be able to sit through all those films if I wanted to talk to the guests and mingle with people. One of my objectives was to interview people attending the event, but with the ghost town ambience, that was mostly out the window. Not actually complaining to Rick, I told him that this was why I disliked long-form film festivals that spread themselves out over several days, as it is almost impossible to attend the entire film festival without missing your day job or investing way too much time and effort; it would no longer be cost-effective. You'd tell your friends "Hey, I was at that film festival", and they would go "Cool! I was there, too. I didn't see you, though. Which day did you go?". Only then, after comparing anecdotes, would you discover that you missed your friends by a day, AND the day that they went to film festival was a blast AND had a lot of people to hang out with. They, of course, wouldn't be happy learning that your day, while slow, actually had some cool indie films, and the film festival program was better. In a sense, two film festivals, but technically the same, and sharing a single name.

Such was my experience, as I felt that I only experienced a fragment of the Halloween Horror Picture Show.

Well, at least my day had the best films, and the only Tampa indie films, showing. Did I mention that I didn't have time to watch most of them, and since most of the filmmakers were not there, that obtaining screeners for later reviews would prove to be impossible for most of those films?

I can't have everything. I can still dream, however.

While talking to Danford, I looked at the venue. The Beach Theatre was a tiny movie Theatre, but this place had character. I liked it. Hollywood screenwriter and Tampa Bay resident Michael France, who penned big movies such as Goldeneye, The Fantastic Four, the 2003 Ang Lee version of The Hulk, and the Sly Stallone action film Cliffhanger, bought the Beach Theatre in 2007. Mr. France restored the Theatre, and since reopening it, it's been a success, with a decent lineup of films and indie films covering a wide range of genres. As movie theaters go, this is what it is all about, and it's actually fun to go to this Theatre. After checking it out, I must say that, despite the distance and the tolls, that I would much rather go to the Beach Theatre than the, frankly, quite over-hyped Tampa Theatre.

I resumed talking to Danford. We talked about Tampa indie film, and the audience interaction of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which had played the HHPS the night before. With Rick Danford, I had to start out with a simple question.

C. A. Passinault: Ok, Rick, we'll start with a simple question. Raven Twins or Bloody Mary?

Rick Danford: Ooh.... I'd have to go with the twins.

C. A. Passinault: Why is that?

Rick Danford: They look good, they sound good, and they are not quite as messed up looking as Mary.

C. A. Passinault: I would think that you'd say Bloody Mary because you made a film about that once.

Rick Danford: I definitely enjoy the Bloody Mary character but I was thinking, obviously, other, you know, directions with that question.

C. A. Passinault: We were talking earlier about horror films taking a slash in today's economy, and you were talking about the Rocky Horror Picture Show and last night's turnout. Go ahead and go into the story that you were telling me.

Rick Danford: Rocky Horror has been around since '70- the late '70's, or something like that. I went to Jefferson High School, and in my junior year, we used to meet at the University Square Mall, and we'd all be there on Friday nights. We'd watch Rocky Horror, and we'd be getting into it, and we'd start acting it out in our seats. We'd start getting up in our seats, turning around to the audience, and kind of doing our whole thing.... Me and my friend Mike Moore, Marty Kado, Angela Ridge, and a couple of people there.... And that was 25 plus years ago! Doing the Halloween Horror Picture Show this year, I got to talking to Janine, who works with this Interchangeable Parts, the acting crew, and she told me that there were three or four members, who are still out of part of her crew today, that used to act it out back then at University Mall. They've been doing this, every weekend, for 25 plus years. That's wild to me!

After Rick's story, I regretted not being able to attend the night before. What I found interesting, however, was that so many people could get into a film in that way, and that the film became a common experience shared by them. The audience interaction with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in particular, was intriguing, especially since films are passive experiences not really meant for interaction.

Rick and I talked about other things, such as the large number of Tampa film festivals and the lack of a Tampa video game festival. He told me about he and Krista's film Alarum, the success of the film, and the awards that it had been winning lately. It was a good talk.

The indie shorts program had ended, and the Theatre lobby became occupied with a dozen or so movie-goers. Rick Danford and I entered the main Theatre, and he introduced me to Theatre owner Michael France. When I mentioned to Rick that Michael France was a major Hollywood screenwriter who was responsible for some big motion pictures, Ricks eyes lit up, as he was not aware of that. I told Mr. France that I loved Cliffhanger and The Fantastic Four, and would have brought up Goldeneye at that time had I remembered that he had penned one of my favorite all-time Bond films. Goldeneye, however, would come up in conversation later that evening.

Rick mentioned to Michael that I would like to interview him briefly when he had the time, and Mr. France agreed before attending to other matters. I ordered food and drinks at the Theatre concession stand (the food was decent, but the popcorn wasnít that great-- until the added butter). I then settled in briefly to watch a bit of the first feature, A Gothic Tale. I didn't see enough of the movie to comment on it, let alone be able to tell what it was about, however, as I soon noticed Theatre owner Michael France walking around looking for me. I finished off most of my popcorn and returned to the Theatre lobby, where Mr. France told me that he was about to go home, and wanted to talk to me before he did so.

We walked outside, talking about screen writing, his Beach Theatre, and films that he wrote. It was then that I started to talk about The Avengers and Bond Films, and he told me that he had written the screenplay for the Bond film Goldeneye, my all-time favorite.

Well, I interviewed Michael France, but that's beyond the scope of this film festival interview. I will transcribe and publish that interview soon (but did you know that his father came up with the Goldeneye title, and that Michael France had Timothy Dalton in mind as Bond when he penned the Goldeneye screenplay?). But it was kind of cool. Here I was, telling the screenwriter of one of my favorite movies about how his movie inspired me. We both got a kick out of it.

Around this time, my cell phone beeped. My model was on her way. Neither Rick Danford or Michael France would be around to meet her, either, and at that time I didn't know who else would show up.

People did show up, however.

I was standing in front of the Theatre, talking to the staff, and a white car pulled up and parked beside mine. I was nervous about the large car getting close to my car, but relaxed when I realized that I knew the driver once he emerged.

It was legendary Tampa actor Jack Amos!

Jack had arrived to see the Mark Terry indie film feature Live Evil, which would be playing within the hour. I sat with Jack on a bench outside of the Theatre, and we talked about Tampa indie film, acting, and the success of the Tampa indie film 100 Tears, in which Jack portrays a psychotic killer Clown who goes around killing people. Jack said, "After you've made short films, and learn the craft, you show that you can make films. Then, you do a feature film". Jack also told me that he was surprised about the dedicated following that the horror film genre, and specifically 100 Tears, had obtained (and will be available in major stores such as Blockbuster in an unrated cut shortly).

It's nice to see a Tampa indie film actually succeed. Hopefully, more will follow.

We were soon joined in conversation by Tampa Tribune reporter John Allman, who was there to cover the event. About this time, my friend Ann arrived and asked about the film lineup. I had to think about that, and what I had missed.

At 4:30, the film festival started out the indie film segment with a package of shorts. I arrived late and was talking to Danford. The short indie films were:

The Reaper -- Did not see, but have heard good things about. Do I have this?
Frankenstein VS The Wolfman -- Did not see, but am wondering if this was an indie film or not.
Side Effect -- Did not see.
Lamp Post Lake -- Did not see.
In Darkness -- Ummmm... Didnít see.
Alarum -- I saw this back at the "Ladies Of The Night" Tampa film festival hosted by Danford back in June with Ann and Somali.

Alarum has won many awards, and I think that it is a brilliant indie film. Alarum was a collaboration between actress Krista Grotte and Rick Danford. Tampa actor Joel Wynkoop played a crazy alarm clock, and there is a twist ending along with a great message. Chris Woods said that there was nudity in the film, but I donít remember seeing any. Expect a full review soon.

Live Evil
Live Evil, is what Jack Amos and some others were waiting for. As I took pictures of Ann and the others, Mark Terry, his brother Jim Terry, and his family arrived.

I introduced myself, and Mark told me that he was finally glad to meet me, and that he liked what I had been writing on Tampa Bay Film. I introduced them to my friend Ann, and soon it was time for the show to begin. Ann and I sat in the back of the Theatre, and everyone took their seats. Ann and I called Mark Terry over before the film started, and obtained a screener DVD, which I will watch for the full review later.

Consider this to be a mini review. I will be posting a full review on Tampa Bay Film as soon as I get the chance. Live Evil was the main film that I wanted to see at the HHPS, and I certainly was not disappointed. This was a fun film to watch, and we were very entertained by it. On a technical note, the film played perfectly. There was no skipping like there had been reported at the University of Tampa premier, and at the Spooky Empire horror convention earlier. The screener also played perfectly on my studio theater system, although it did skip on my top-of-the-line Sony DVP-FX820 Portable DVD Player (I ended up watching the amazing film Hard Candy instead).

The Scores
Live Evil: Clans of vampires fight each other as they seek out sources of clean blood.

All scores are rated from 1 (Suckfest) to 10 (Sundance contender)

Interesting story with some intriguing elements, such as differences in vampires and vampires with teeth in their hands. The story would be better if they re-added elements explaining why some vampires can take sunlight and others cannot.

SAG actors do a decent job, although the woman sidekick Roxy, played by "actress" Kimberly Sanders, "assisting" the priest is very annoying, and has serious continuity errors with her delivery. Her emotional states flip-flop, and the transitions are jarring. Iím thinking that this is a combination of acting on her part and editing on the part of the editor, so the editing is going to be docked points.

Good, professional editing, although there may be continuity issues with a certain female actress who has issues with her acting. The editor probably had to make do with the footage available. Was the actress available for additional shooting?

Good camera work from the DP, although some of the close up shots are out of focus. The Russian arm shots of the vehicle sequences are great, and a few are awesome.

Loved the music, and the sound was solid. Some of the best sound that Iíve heard in an indie horror film.

I liked the new-take on vampires. The story took liberties, and once they address some exposition issues, such as the explanation of the differences in vampires which ended up being cut, it will be even better.

The film is watchable and doesnít slow pace. Good.

Some of the SFX were terrible. The vampire babies were classic, in a campy sort of way, and I really liked how they pulled that off (they reminded my of the chomping baby dolls in the classic "Barbarella"). The stunts were excellent, and one of the car flips with the red BMW was spectacular!

Not a bad indie film. Ann and I really enjoyed watching Live Evil, and it is a campy popcorn movie.

It passes my Blockbuster test, which means that if I picked this up at Blockbuster and paid for it, that I would not return it for a refund. A keeper, and I rank this up with 100 Tears (the premise and the characterization in Live Evil are better, although 100 Tears wins in overall story). Some of the one-liners and some of the scenes make this film a classic.

Expect those scores to be adjusted somewhat, after a careful analysis. I look forward to giving it the full review treatment soon.

Once Live Evil ended, I walked Ann to her car and returned to the festival. Mark Terry and his staff did a Q & A session, and wrapped up. We all walked outside, and had a long talk about the film, the Tampa indie film scene, and stunt work. I learned that stunt drivers never wanted to land on the wheels of a car after a car flip, which is something that I did not know. I asked why. They told me that the spine of the driver compresses in such a scenario, and that the driver can become seriously injured if they land on the wheels. I found that fascinating. Mark Terry, Jim Terry, and I were talking, too, about Tampa indie film, and I told them that I did not believe that there was a Tampa indie film community, but rather a Tampa indie film scene with cliques. They agreed. Jack Amos chimed in, shaking his head in disagreement, and stated that, yes, there was a Tampa indie film community. Although I disagreed with his assessment, I respected him for his statement.

The people began to leave. Told everyone goodbye. I was cold and tired, so I did not stay for Shadowland, which was the final film of the evening. I packed up and left for home. The long trip back turned into a cross-country trip due to getting lost. I was talking to Chris Woods on the phone and accidently took I75 south instead of I75 north. I ended up in Bradenton, which I had never driven to before. From now on, no phones for me when Iím driving -- later. I got back on the Interstate, I called Chris Woods back, and we were still talking when I arrived in Riverview.

The Future Of The Halloween Horror Picture Show
Before he left, I managed to discuss this with Rick. My opinion? The Halloween Horror Picture Show is a fun event and well worth the time invested in attending, although I had more fun at Danfordís "Ladies Of The Night" film festival at USF back in June and Andy Lalinoís / Film Ranchís "Horror and Hotties" film festival last year. This said, it blows away larger Tampa film festivals, such as the Gasparilla Film Festival, which ironically sponsored this yearís Halloween Horror Picture Show film festival.

The Halloween Horror Picture Show deserves a much larger audience than it has been getting. Although I heard that it was a blast on Saturday night, I really donít consider that to be the actual Halloween Horror Picture Show film festival event because no indie films were shown. As far as I can see, I can only recognize Sunday as the actual film festival event. Also, the total lack of vendors, and the subsequent absence of indie film DVD sales and film festival collectibles, was a major let-down. Canít we get some Halloween Horror Picture Show shirts, at least? With the total lack of branding, the uninitiated attending would have seen the Gasparilla Film Festival banner in the Theatre lobby and assumed that this was a part of the Gasparilla Film Festival. There were no references to the Halloween Horror Picture Show brand or film festival, and thatís not good!

With last yearís so-so attendance and this yearís weak attendance, the Halloween Horror Picture Show seems to be on its last legs. I have hope, however, that the film festival will bounce back and exceed its former glory.

I have faith.

"The Halloween Horror Picture Show 2008: A Different View" is ©2008 by C. A. Passinault. All photos are ©2008 by C. A. Passinault and are used with permission.

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.

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