Sunday, November 19, 2006



High-Definition Digital Filmmaking Competition Brings Artist’s Visions from Script-to-Screen in One Week

For Immediate Release

Date: November 10, 2006

Contact: Alexis Kerschner, Rick Johnson & Company, (505) 266-7220,

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The Duke City Shootout, the only digital filmmaking competition in the world where screenwriters race to shoot, edit and premiere their 12-minute film in seven days, is now accepting script submissions from filmmakers and screenwriters around the world for next year’s festival, which will take place in Albuquerque N.M July 20-28, 2007.

Representatives of New Mexico’s Digital Filmmaking Institute (DFI) and renowned screenwriters from around the country will select the seven best scripts to be produced and ultimately compete for the “Palm de Grease,” the festival’s most prestigious award. The Shootout will fly the seven winning screenwriters to Albuquerque, where they will be given a cast, high-definition digital camera and lighting equipment, a production crew, post-production facilities, transportation and even a professional mentor—everything they will need to bring their script to life—a $50,000 value.

Last year, more than 270 scripts were submitted to the Shootout, and for the first time, Shootout movies were made available online via file-sharing giant BitTorrent. Past festival participants include: script judges Morgan Freeman, Peter Fonda and Phillip Kaufman, producers Ellen Sandler (Everybody Loves Raymond), Michael Steinberg (There's Something About Mary), Linda Goldstein (Whale Rider); directors Jay Roach (Austin Powers), Dan Mirvish (co-founder of Slamdance), Jim Mercurio (Hard Scrambled), Jack Hill (Foxy Brown), Anthony Drazan (The West Wing); Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves); actors Donal Logue (Grounded For Life), Talia Shire (The Godfather); editor Barry Alexander Brown (Inside Man); and cinematographers Alan Walker (Roseanne) and James O'Keefe (Timecode).

A script by Toronto writer/director Ralph Lucas has been selected as the first of seven movies to be produced at the 2007 Duke City Shootout. Lucas’ script, “The Next Best Thing to War,” was selected from entries submitted to the Screenwriting Expo 5 contest sponsored by Creative Writing magazine. Lucas’ selection was announced at the Expo, held in Los Angeles on October 19-22.

Script submission requirements include a cover page including name of author, address, telephone number; 12 minute script (i.e. 12 pages); and entry fee of $30 (before April 16, 2007) or $35 (April 17-May 18, 2007). The deadline for entry is May 18, 2007. There are two ways to submit scripts:

Mail hard copies of script, including check or money order payable to the Digital Filmmaking Institute to:

Duke City Shootout

P.O. Box 37080

Albuquerque, NM 87176

Submit electronically and pay by credit card, at

For more information and updates on the 2007 Shootout, visit, or email questions to

9th Annual Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition

As seen on
9th Annual Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition

With Write Brothers, Robert McKee and The Writers Guild
of America,west Registry all supporting Scriptapalooza, this is the
competition to enter.

First place prize is $10,000

All the judging is done by 60 production companies
Entertainment Weekly Magazine calls us 'One of the Best'
We promote the top 13 winners for a full year
5 scripts in the 2006 Competition have been OPTIONED
Finalists, Semifinalists and quarterfinalists get requested

Early bird deadline January 5

or call 323-654-5809 or email
us at

Saturday, November 04, 2006

41 horror movies in 29 days

John Dodd watched 41 horror movies in 29 days. Here's his report.


** House On The Edge of the Park

A Last House on the Left ripoff with David Hess, Krug himself, turning in his most unrestrained performance as Alex, a disco dancing psychopath. Alex and his somewhat more stable friend Ricky crash a party, hold the revelers hostage, rape the women, and torture the men, until the tables turn. This is a film that wallows in its nastiness, unrepentant in its sleaze, and saves its grossest moment for an unclothed, very hairy Hess in the shower. Talk about obscene!!!!


*1/2 The Slayer

When starting I was unsure if this was going to be a slasher film, a monster movie, or an Italian thriller (giallo). After watching it, I’m still not sure. The plot has two couples going to a deserted island for fishing and relaxing. One of the tourists has seen this place in her nightmares. Her companions don’t believe her. Then someone, or something, begins to pick the minimal visitors off one by one. Five deaths, one potential victim survives, no *convincing* gore, no soothsayer, and no mask. The first death is at the ten minute mark. I’m not seeing good numbers here. An early film from the director of 8MM part 2.

10/3 A Tuesday with Mr. Lee

* Dark Places

If you are frightened by doors slamming shut, then you will be scared shitless by this creeky old house film. Most everyone else will be bored. Christopher Lee plays a kindly doctor who may not be as benevolent as he seems. Joan Collins before she was the hag on Dynasty plays the temptress (and is still about ten years too old for the role).

**1/2 Dracula A.D. 1972

Dracula (my man, Lee) gets resurrected in 1972, bites down on Caroline Munroe (Yummy), and plots to take revenge on Van Helsing’s great-great-granddaughter. Fortunately, her grandfather (Cushing) is an expert in vampirism. The early 70s British music sucks, but Cushing and Lee are fun as always. And the setting is 1972, so it’s like Dracula, Daddy-O.

10/4 Post-Scream Slashers

** Slaughter Studios

A Scream variation as only New Concorde studios would do: DV cinematography, a cast of actresses with more sand than Daytona Beach, and a tongue in cheek presentation. Slaughter Studios was once a top line grindhouse. Following the death of an actor in the early 80s the studio closed. Now, a film fan breaks in the doors, smuggles in his cast and crew, and is determined to covertly make a movie after hours. Too bad there is a killer on the loose. 9 deaths (2 off screen) with the first murder at the twenty-three minute mark; three potential victims survive; a half pint of blood; no soothsayer or mask; but more uncovered breasts than I can count. Cheers for the line, “I bet Eric Roberts doesn’t work like this!”

** Cut

I bought Cut for one reason and one reason only: to see Molly Ringwald die a horrible death. She has it coming for her The Breakfast Club. Most everything else I could forgive but not murdering this brat packer brings rage to my eyes. Too bad because for the first hour, Cut comes in toward the top of the Scream ripoffs. This Australian import is surprisingly well acted, decently directed, and follows the model right on down to the opening guest murder victim (here, singer Kylie Minogue). A group of graduating film school students are going to make a name for themselves by finishing an 80s slasher film believed to be cursed. When the actor playing the killer went crazy and murdered his director (Minogue), the film was shut down. Since then anyone who has tried to finish the film has met with a strange “accident.” Despite warnings from their film professor (the soothsayer), the kids hire a down on her luck actress from the original production (Ringwald), retreat to the countryside, and begin filming. The last half-hour sucks and Molly Ringwald does not die. Thirteen other characters do (three off screen); Ringwald and two others survive; half pint of blood; six minutes for the first murder; generic mask and Francois Truffaut reference.

Oct 5 Corman, Poe

**1/2 Tales of Terror

Corman loosely adapts three Poe stories in this anthology. All star Vincent Price. The first is poor. The second with Peter Lorre as a drunk in a wine tasting contest is funny if overlong. The third with Basil Rathbone as a hypnotist is the best even. Acting honors go to Lorre in episode number. “My wife’s right there.” “But she’s dead.” “You notice every-thing.”

*** House of Usher

While not as good as Tomb of Ligeia, this is film that started them all, Corman’s first foray into Poe. It is quality on a budget with good cinematography, set design, Vincent Price not overly hammy for a change, and Myrna Fahey is good as the woman who may or may not be going mad. The film seems slightly padded even at 80 minutes. Beyond that, this is a solid adaptation.

Oct 6

** Deadline

Steven Lessing (called Stevie or Steve-O) is a successful writer of horror novels and film scripts. One might say he’s a real King of the genre. Steven is going through a bad time. His family is falling apart, his producer cares only about blood and guts, and the public accuse him of contributing to real life violence. The film contrasts gory scenes from Lessing’s films/books with his melancholy home life. The end result is ambitious but schizophrenic serving up gory moments while condemning them.

*** Feast

Co-scripted by a former Cinema 1&2 employee, Feast is made by and for horror movie fans. A surviving the night type movie in the From Dust Till Dawn mode, Feast does get a bit slow in the middle, but there are enough funny bits to carry the day. Henry Rollins as the motivational speaker Coach is worth the price of admission alone.

Oct 7

*1/2 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The Beginning

Flat prequel to the remake of the 1970s classic plays like a remake of the remake right on down to the lone surviving woman hiding in a slaughterhouse as Leatherface stalks her. The Vietnam era period detail feels like dress up. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is my vote for the horror series that has fallen the farthest. Believe it or not a customer asked me what this film was about! I squinted my eyes and said, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The Beginning?” Clueless, he answered, “Yeah, what’s that about?”

Oct 8 It Played in Peoria!

** Blood Feast

The world’s first gore film stands as humbling beginnings. Would good, respectable people in 1963 see a film so unrepentantly lurid? Where to test it? Peoria, Illinois, if it would play there it would play anywhere. It played! Today, Blood Feast is a slow, stagey affair with red paint thrown around at random. The early-60s era Playboy Playmates Connie Mason and Ashyln Martin are the film’s best visuals. I did like the chase where villain Faud Ramses (as if his name didn’t tell you that) is chased across a garbage dump in the finale. Peoria’s Journal Star did a front page story on it in 2003.

Oct 9

***1/2 Demons of the Mind

As the title suggests, there is no monster in this Hammer horror film. A highly impressive film that at long lasts reflects the time it was made. Unlike the same period’s Beast Must Die, this film has all of the ambition that most other early 70s Hammer films did not. It is about the end of superstition, the dawn of psychology, and early 70s filmmaking. That’s a compliment!

Oct 10

***1/2 Cat People

Producer Val Lewton’s first horror film is also my favorite. Kids these days have a hard time with Cat People because there is so little onscreen horror. My students were bored. They grew up expecting onscreen monsters. By showing almost nothing but darkness and shadows, this film is saved the hokey, camp quality of many of the monster movies seen now. The walk in the park and the swimming pool scenes are justly famous due to their simplicity regardless of what eighteen year-olds think.

Oct 11 Femmes de Woof

½ An American Werewolf in Paris

The mind boggles at what I will set through just to get a glimpse of Julie Delphy’s breasts. This has to be the bottom! A film with such bad CGI effects that whole scenes appear to be animated. A film with possibly the most annoying American college kids put on film. You will be rooting for the fascist lupin. . . but Julie Delphy is topless for half a second (hence, the half star).

*** Ginger Snaps

Those looking for a female werewolf film would do well to catch Ginger Snaps, an intriguing metaphor for coming of age. The Fitzgerald sisters are the outcasts of suburbia. They stage suicides for their photography class and dream of escaping into the city. Then Ginger, the elder sister, is bit by some big dog or wolf and she starts to change. She becomes interested in boys, punches out a bullying homecoming queen, and develops an urge for slaughtering dogs in the neighborhood. Sister Brigitte looks for a cure as her sister becomes more and more animal like with the next full moon slated for Halloween night.

Oct 12 Jason at twenty-six

***1/2 Friday the 13th

The first, the best, and some might argue the only watchable one. Eleven deaths (four off-screen) with the first murder at the four minute mark. Four potential victims survive (one camper, two cops, and Crazy Ralph). No mask, a gallon of blood, and Crazy Ralph as the soothsayer.

*1/2 Jason So Lo Monta De Miedo

I bought (cheaply) this film after reading the following description in a catalog. “Hockey masked killer wields knives and chainsaws mixed with scenes of damn near hard-core sex with drop dead gorgeous bitches.” Lots of gore and sex, sounds like a fun slasher movie to me! As P.T. Barnum said there’s a sucker born every minute. Nine deaths with the first one being thirteen minutes in. With a hockey mask, no soothsayer, and Jason blowing away Michael Meyers with a shotgun.

Oct 13

I took off from work just so I could watch my Friday the 13th box set. I even started a day early just to get a taste. A taste was all I was to get thanks to my students (“Friday is the only day I can make up the test”), the state of Illinois (mandatory ethics training), and my father (“this will just take an hour or two”). Instead, I went to the theater.

**1/2 The Grudge 2

Of this series (two Japanese direct video features; two theatrical Japanese movies; and two American remakes), the second Japanese theatrical film (Juon 2) is the scariest of the bunch. That film unnerves. The American remake of that film, Grudge 2, isn’t bad. It intertwines three stories, one painfully familiar (Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character and her sister), one ghostly fun (the schoolgirls), and one genuinely creepy (the apartment complex). I split the difference on the star rating.

Oct 14

*1/2 Class Reunion Massacre (The Redeemer-Son of Satan)

I try to give a break to the pre-Halloween slasher

films, but this one is both dull and confusing. Six former friends show up for their high school reunion only to find the school deserted and a killer picking them off. Could it be tied into the strange boy who rose out of the water in the first scene? How about the priest giving the sermon on greed, lust, and vanity? I’m not sure and I did see this film. Eight deaths (one off-screen) with the first at the seven minute mark. None of potential victims survive, which is the most noteworthy part of the film.

(On October 15, I went out of town to see The Departed and Science of Sleep, a film better than any of the horror films I watched this season)

Oct 16

* Asylum of Satan

A young woman finds herself transferred from a hospital to an asylum ran by a mysterious doctor who is actually a coven leader. During the snake attack, a woman thrashes around holding the painfully obvious rubber snakes. At the end, the devil is conjured up complete with seam running down his back (methinks the Prince of Darkness should switch tailors). And the effects are still better than those in An American Werewolf in Paris.

Oct 17

*** Cat People

Despite being dismissed by fans of the genre, I like Paul Schrader’s kinky rethinking of the 1942 horror classic. It is not scary going for a more oblique (some might say “arty”) monster in all of us theme. The film boasts good acting, good music, and good cinematography. It’s also very 80's.

Oct 18

* Dead Waters (aka Dark Waters)

There is an old saying in film criticism if nothing happens in the first reel (20-30 minutes) nothing is going to. I sat through two reels of this early 90s Italian spook show before engaging the fast forward button. What we have here is half-assed Lovecraft with an island convent, a cult worshiping the image of a monster, and a quick ending look at the creature. It’s all very tedious. A three disk set under the title Dark Waters was released this October. One advertisement read, “the most anticipated DVD release this Halloween.” By whom?

**1/2 Diabolical Dr. Z

What would Halloween be without one Jess Franco film? The man has made almost 200 movies (hardcore porn to children’s films, with the horror film his favorite). This one is early on, before the guy went for quantity over quality. The black and white cinematography produces half a dozen atmospheric scenes. The film still suffers from Franco’s slack pace but the Mondo Macabro disk looks great.

Oct 19

**1/2 Cabin Fever

I had heard less than thrilling reviews from fellow horror fans/Cinema 1&2 employees. The film tries too hard to throw in splatter, comedy, atmosphere, local color, and contagion. It’s awkwardly paced and undisciplined for sure, but clearly made by horror fans. Any film that has the drunk college kids cruising down the road listening to “The Road Leads to Nowhere” from the Last House on the Left soundtrack can’t be all bad.

Oct 20

* Devil’s Daughter

No country can top the Italians for evocative nightmarish visuals. In the first scene when hippies paint themselves as America sings, “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name.” All atmosphere goes out the window. Kelly Curtis, Jamie Lee’s better looking but no more talented sister, finds herself a target of devil worshipers. The title of the film is incorrect. Curtis is the daughter of the leader of the devil cult; she is going to be the mother of the Devil’s son, which I guess makes her The Devil’s Wife. At the end the baby antichrist gives up his life to save his mortal mother (huh?).

Oct 21

½ The Vampire Happening

My choice for the worst horror film of the Halloween season goes to Freddie Francis’ vampire comedy. How bad is it? It makes Love at First Bite look like Young Frankenstein. It’s so bad that despite considerable amounts of nudity, Larry R. Jarvis did not want it!!!! Sample joke: the heroine grabs the Communist vampire’s copy of Mao’s Little Red Book and shoves it in another vampire’s mouth. The communist vampire goes over to his fellow undead, grabs his book back, and yells: “bloodsucker!” And if you laughed at that joke, you have just won your very own copy of The Vampire Happening.

**1/2 The Living Dead Girl

This is another example of Jean Rollin working out his personal fetishes as expressionless, half dressed, pale women commit horrible acts amongst gothic locations. In this one, a dead woman is revived by chemical waste. She craves blood. Her childhood friend/lesbian lover seeks out victim’s to keep her companion going. This is not one of Rollin’s best, the pacing is at times leaden with bad actors from multiple continents. There are some impressive images which mix the beautiful and the profane wonderfully. Rollin leaves the viewer with a slam dunk final shot.

Oct 22

*1/2 The Devil’s Wedding Night

Yet another title that lies. The most accurate title would read Dracula’s Widow’s Wedding Night. With endless shots of Mark (no relation to Matt) Damon riding a horse and walking across blank walls, this is a cheap production to be sure. The last twenty minutes do pick up. The vampire countess played Lady Frankenstein.

Oct 23

** Symptoms

Angela Pleasence (who looks a lot like her father) moves with a friend into a country house where someone died. Something is wrong. Is the house haunted or is one of the two women going crazy? Jose Larraz once again tries his hand at slow burning, claustrophobic unease (Vampyres; Coming of Sin). This one tips its hand too early (BIG HINT: Angela is a closeted lesbian with a crush on her friend). The Fall colors are nicely photographed. Too bad my copy sucked!

Oct 24

*** Demons

*** Demons 2

I saw Demons numbero uno way back when I was a sophomore in high school and it kicked ass. Today, these films bring back fond memories of the 1980s: blue lighting, hairspray abuse, gratuitous bladder effects, shoulder pads, post MTV music imagery, and gore galore. The Scorpions, Motley Crue, The Cult, and The Smiths are all on the soundtracks of these movies. There are missteps. Any punker in 1985 listening to Billy Idol should have a cap put in poseur ass. Those who did not like these films in the 80s can probably skip buying the Anchor Bay DVDs. For the enlightened ones, buy ‘em up while you still can.

(On October 25th I watched A Scanner Darkly, which while technically not a horror movie, will make one uncomfortable)

Oct 26 short people

** Burial Ground

Yes, this is the zombie film where the short man with a receding hairline plays a young kid. This is very obvious! It is done for one reason: because no parent, no matter how stage struck, would let their child do a scene where he bites his screen mother’s breasts off. It’s a good scene! Too bad there aren’t more of them. Plenty of gore and tastelessness, I would have loved it at sixteen. Maybe I’m getting old.

***1/2 Freaks

With the exception of King Kong (which is more of a fantasy), Freaks is my choice for the best 30s horror film. It’s a slowburner but the ending makes it all worth while. The vengeance of the freaks is the scariest moment in 30s horror. The DVD of this is quite good with a particularly noteworthy documentary which provides background on many of the performers playing the freaks.

Oct 27

** The Red Shoes

I didn’t get to watch a J-Horror film this season, but the next best thing is K-Horror. In this one, a pair of ghostly red shoes kills all those who wear them until being taken home by a single mother and her daughter who dreams of being a dancer. This Korean import is more ambitious than most but it stumbles on the horror front. There is nothing overly scary about the movie. Not to be confused with the Powell/Presburg ballet movie.

Oct 28

**1/2 Creep

I had read good reviews for this British horror film from last year. On it’s own terms, Creep might work, but horror fans will feel deja vu. A cannibal preys on commuters and the homeless in the London subway terminals. Yes, fans, it’s Raw Meat all over again, with the focus shifted to a slasher set up with Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) and others trying to survive a long night. The film is reasonably well paced and does hold interest. Creep is the best slasher film of the season, but how about an original idea?

Oct 29 Steele the show

(to think, I almost went the month of October without watching a Barbara Steele movie!)

*** An Angel for Satan

Atmospheric, black and white photography and the charismatic Steele highlight this mystery/horror film. A restorer journeys to a small island village to do restoration on a statue believed to be cursed. There he meets the niece of the village mayor. The niece (Steele) looks exactly like the statue and seems to be of two halves. One is a chaste innocent and the other a superslut who destroys men. Is she cursed or crazy or something else?

** Curse of the Crimson Altar

Any film that has supporting turns by Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, Barbara Steele, and Michael Gough can’t be all bad. This is true but one wishes Curse of the Crimson Altar was better. An antique dealer travels to a mysterious lodge to search for his missing brother. There, he finds strange characters, dreams of being at a witches’ sabbath, and sleeps with the proprietor’s niece (an attractive Virginia Wetherell from Demons of the Mind). A make it up as you go along feel permeates the film which is not helped by a dull leading man (Robert Eden). And whose idea was it to have Barbara Steele, a beautiful horror icon, done up in green face? WTF!

Oct 30

*** Curse of the Cat People

Since I liked the original Cat People so much and since the DVD came also with Curse of the Cat People, I knocked off one more Val Lewton film. This one is not really a horror movie despite a few atmospheric shots. It’s a fantasy about a troubled girl who lives in an imaginary world. The film is quite good but not what I was expecting. This was Robert Wise’s first directing job. It’s better than the Sound of Music.

Oct 31

*** Homecoming (Masters of Horror)

I liked this one more the second time through. It’s still heavy handed but does do what Masters of Horror was designed for: to make a film without interference that could not be made otherwise. The only other one of the series that does that is John Carpenter’s much different Cigarette Burns. The politics (the undead soldiers of the Iraq conflict coming back) are none too subtle but certainly heartfelt. My students liked it.

*** Saw 2

I had planned to watch both Saw 2 and Saw 3 on Halloween night. Oh well. Most have seen Saw 2. Tobin Bell is a better actor than most actors playing horror icons. I also liked the killer’s plan when it is at last revealed. More of a horror film than the first movie but not quite as clever.

Well, everyone that’s it for me this year. Maybe we’ll do it again next year.