Tuesday, October 30, 2012

'In Fear Of' Director Mike Polizzi Talks About 'Selenophobia'

Very seldom do I come across a werewolf movie or TV show that is unique and entertaining. "Selenophobia: Fear of the Moon" is an episode of the "In Fear Of" Web series that tastefully portrays a woman's struggle to fight the best within, and the choice her lover has to make to end her life with silver bullets. I liked "Selenophobia" so much, that I decided to interview the director, Mike Polizzi. Check it out!

1. How did you get involved with "In Fear Of?"

I met Scott W. Perry about 19 years ago in a 2-year video production class. He and I shared a common interest in horror films and collaborated on several projects outside the curriculum. We had lost touch in the late 1990s, but then reunited in 2009 when he showed me his films, introduced me to Jeremiah Kipp and inspired me to get behind the camera again.

I found myself writing screenplays, which included “Selenophobia”; not knowing that in April 2012, Scott would tell me about his phobia web series. It was a perfect opportunity to share the story with him and he was glad to include it with “In Fear Of.” 

After several weeks of storyboarding, casting and meeting with the crew: we shot “Selenophobia” in 15 hours on September 15th.

My first involvement with the series was on “Thanatophobia: Fear of Death,” written and directed by Scott. I was his assistant director for the day, and then, later that evening, he asked me to compose some of the soundtrack. I started with “Monophobia: Fear of Being Alone,” and then eventually “Achluophobia: Fear of the Dark.” I also had the honor of composing the series’ opening theme song, which is also heard in the trailer.

2. What attracts you to the horror genre? 

I was an 80s kid that grew up in the movie theater; obsessed with films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Gremlins.” They all had creepy elements that really inspired me. In addition: my father and stepmother always rented VHS horror movies and my stepfather, Ronnie, and I always watched the Universal Monster films of the 1930s and 40s. “Alien” was another film he and I watched repeatedly.

By age 10 I knew I wanted to make supernatural movies in my adult life.

3. Was there any real life influence or experience that you drew on to help you as you worked as the assistant director on "Thanatophobia: Fear of Death?"

“Thanatophobia” was Scott’s project. But, I think most of us fear death. We just don’t want to admit it or think about it. At least I don’t. Having to watch my stepfather pass away at age 57 was a wake up call for me. Life is too short, don’t blow it.

4. Were there any movies that you used as inspiration during your creative process?

I’ve always been drawn to Sam Raimi’s films: the Evil Dead series and Darkman. He really knows how to make a fun movie. I’m also very fond of Tim Burton’s work; especially his 1980s and 90s films.

5. What are you afraid of? Did your short film include aspects of your own phobias?

I fear mother nature. Tornados, tsunamis and earthquakes freak me out. I fear megalomaniacs. 

I don’t personally have a fear of the moon. Although, when I was a kid I had a vision of it colliding with earth; but, that’s just my sci-fi mind on autopilot. 

With “Selenophobia” I wanted to make a unique werewolf movie. I’ve wanted to do so for 10-years. It was a passion project and I must thank the beautiful, talented Louisa Ward for being so amazing in the lead and Mike Lane for his stellar performance. I also thank my crew: Steven-Mark Glassner (cinematographer), Morgan O’Connell (Assistant Director), Ria Schlingheyde (Make-Up) and Jay Priole (Production Assist.). It’s always great to work with friendly, positive people and, most importantly, to have fun in the process.

6. Do you plan on filming more short horror films in the future? If so, what projects are you working on and what can fans expect to see from you in the coming months?

This past May, I made a short zombie comedy called “Dead Drunk,” starring Mike Lane, Adrienne Asterita & Morgan O’Connell. Everyone that’s seen it really enjoyed it, so we’ve decided to make it a web series on YouTube, under my flickgorilla channel. It’s also been chosen to screen at the NYC Horror Film Festival’s Kick Off Party on November 7th. 

Aside from that: I have a couple of horror shorts in development for 2013, including another episode for “In Fear Of.” I am also writing a horror/comedy feature with my old collaborator and friend, Jay Priole.


Mike Polizzi is a New York based writer, composer and filmmaker. After attending film school in 1997, he assisted story department executives at Paramount Pictures, and then later published a novella titled “Dead Ed.” His latest work can be viewed at flickgorilla.com

Monday, October 29, 2012

'In Fear Of' Youtube Web Series Director Scott Perry Talks About 'Achluophobia'

Scott Perry directed three episodes of the new horror Web series on Youtube called "In Fear Of." They are "Thanatophobia: Fear of Death," "Achluophobia: Fear of the Dark" and "Monophobia: Fear of Being Alone." All three are very well done and manage to create a suspenseful atmosphere full of dread and terror. "Monophobia" is about a serial killer who acts a little like Ted Bundy, killing people just to prevent them from leaving her. It is full of dark humor and has a twisted ending that I just loved. "Thanatophobia" has a twist ending that is not easy to predict, something that is extremely hard to pull off and shows just how talented Perry is. "Achluophobia" is by far the best in terms of creating a suspenseful atmosphere. It has a way of getting to you that very few short horror films do, and is definitely a must see for anyone who loves to be scared.

How did you get involved with "In Fear Of?"

In Fear Of came about when I was looking to do something fresh and unique pertaining to the horror genre, which I love. Horror at its most basic is the element of fear. One day I came across a webpage of a list of phobias and I was surprised at just how many there are. I talked to my good friend Jeremiah Kipp thinking this could make an interesting web series. Six weeks later we’re filming "Monophobia" with Debbie Rochon and David Marancik and the series was off.

What attracts you to the horror genre? 

What attracts me most about the horror genre is that no other genre in film can stir up so many emotions within you. There are also so many sub-genres that really stretch the limits of what horror truly is. For the most part above all, it’s the ability to thrill. We all like a sense of fear and danger to our lives and horror can stimulate that for you. I believe the films in this series do a great job in representing how far the genre can stretch, from laughter in “Monophobia,” creeped out in “Podophobia,” thrilled by “Selenophobia,” saddened by the tragedy in “Thanatophobia,” psychologically freaked out in “Apehephobia,” and scared to the edge of your seat in “Achluophobia.” No other genre can stir so much within you and that’s why I’ll always love the horror genre.

Was there any real life influence or experience that you drew on to direct "Achluophobia: Fear Of the Dark?"

There wasn’t a specific real life influence on me but one of the reasons why it was chosen is because, while I tried to steer away from the more commonly known phobias, to many their first ever fear in life is a fear of the dark. How many of us as children had a night light on so we wouldn’t be in total darkness when we slept? That led to fear of monsters, fear of the Boogeyman, and a variety of phobias that we can inhabit in our lifetimes, but credit the darkness to begin f-ing up our minds.

Was there any movie that you used as inspiration during your creative process?

When I came up with the idea of "Fear Of The Dark," I knew immediately I wanted the only light source to be via candlelight. I like to shoot my own projects when I can but by no means am I an expert with the camera. I did want to see if this could be done, and with the way technology is today, we have equipment that can capture excellent images with low lighting. However, I looked at Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” for inspiration, as a majority of his epic and overlooked film (compared to his other masterpieces) was shot using nothing but candlelight so I studied that film and read up on what he did to accomplish this. For the tone of the film, I looked at, not that I needed the excuse, Dario Argento’s “Suspiria,” namely the opening scene. In his prime, very few were able to master the art of suspense like Argento had and I particularly loved how he used shadows and darkness in those opening moments to incorporate total fear.

When it came to casting, my first and only choice was Raine Brown. I had worked with Raine on my short film “Insatiable,” which we did in 2008, and had promised to work together again. I had such a great time working with her that when this came up, I wanted her to be in it. Raine has a tremendous ability to use her body as a tool and her reactions to the situation around her is a huge reason why “Achluophobia: Fear Of The Dark” works so well. 

What are you afraid of? Did your short film include aspects of your own phobias?

The phobia that I relate to most out of the first season of “In Fear Of” is certainly Monophobia. I work an erratic schedule, nights and weekends, so when there are a lot of events with friends, I have a difficulty attending due to that. Working and editing can lead to a lonely existence sometimes so when I do make a project, I never want it to end because I don’t feel alone when I do it. It’s one of the reasons why “Monophobia” was the first episode shot, and I couldn’t be more thrilled than to have Debbie Rochon and David Marancik collaborate on the episode. It started as a bit of a joke that I wanted to see Debbie prevent David, her best friend, from leaving a house on a dinner date, and it escalated to something fun and horrific. We premiered the film at the Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival where it won Best Horror Comedy Short Film which was a nice surprise.  

The other episode I wrote and directed, “Thanatophobia: Fear Of Death,” is another fear that I think we all have, and one that I certainly have. It was originally a fear of cemeteries but looking at the theme, it was discussed by cast and crew that "Fear Of Death" was a better name for it. I’m 35 now and I spent a lot of my 20s thinking I was invincible, plus sadly I’ve been surrounded by many family members and friends passing away. Jeremiah Kipp has recognized that in all my work, a common theme and element is death. I love the episode and working with both Suzi Lorraine and Damien Colletti was such a pleasure. It’s more dramatic than scary but has a message I think everyone can relate to.

Do you plan on filming more short horror films in the future? If so, what projects are you working on and what can fans expect to see from you in the coming months?

I do. There will be a second season of “In Fear Of” which I hope will bring more directors, more actors, and more phobias overall which I will begin prepping in January, and I am working on a short film that’s a passion project for me next year which I hope to be completed in time for the festival circuit next fall. As of now, I am looking forward to showing these excellent short films to everyone and that they enjoy watching them as much as we enjoyed making them.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Youtube series 'In Fear Of' Director Jeremiah Kipp Talks About 'Podophobia'

"In Fear Of" is a horror anthology Web series that goes live this week on Youtube on Halloween. I had the chance to catch a sneak peek at the series, and was really impressed with how truly terrifying this series is. In fact, I was so impressed that I decided to interview three of the directors from the series. My first interview was with Jeremiah Kipp, who I interviewed last year and reviewed his wonderful short horror films, "Contact" and "Crestfallen."

Jeremiah Kipp directed two episodes of "In Fear Of" titled "Podophobia" and "Aphephobia." "Podophobia" is about a woman who has an intense fear of feet. "Aphephobia" is about a woman who is terrified of being touched. Both episodes are in Kipp's signature black and white filming style, and are without dialogue, so the emotional impact of the episodes create a very raw, intense viewing experience that is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

1. How did you get involved with "In Fear Of?"

Scott W. Perry approached me to participate in his Web series about fear, sending me a list of perhaps 200 phobias.  He said I could choose whichever ones I wanted to make into a film, and they'd become a part of this online anthology.  I met Scott on the set of Alan Rowe Kelly's THE BLOOD SHED back in 2006, and since then he's become a part of the east coast horror community mainly as a journalist supporting other independent filmmakers.  I thought it was commendable that Scott wanted to get back to his true passion, making films.  IN FEAR OF is one of many projects Scott has been dabbling in of late, and since making a Web series is fast, cheap and you have an immediate result, I decided to get involved.

2. What attracts you to the horror genre? 

It's a very emotional genre.  There's only so far naturalistic drama can push, but horror can get us further and provoke us with images beyond reality.  John Carpenter's THEY LIVE is a great example of genre being used to express a legitimate social fear.  George Romero's MARTIN and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD are incredibly emotional genre films that tap into feelings of isolation, loss, hope against all odds...that's pretty powerful stuff!  And having aliens or zombies or vampires requires a leap of the imagination.  It gets us into an area of "reality plus" that is closer to our dreams and our desires.

3. Was there any real life influence or experience that you drew on to direct "Podophobia?"

PODOPHOBIA is the fear of feet, and I have no such fear.  I approached Paul Pastore, who I had worked with previously on a slasher movie trailer called SERIAL SCHOOL. I knew the material would be up his alley, and he generously financed that episode.  Once I had the wonderful actors Xiomara Cintron and Alejandro Santoni in place, I did draw from personal experience a little, but that had more to do with the rawness of being in a relationship and having the feeling of discovering something scary and new in the other person, tapping into a hidden anguish.  That can happen, and when it does it can be terrifying.

4. Were there any movies that you used as inspiration during your creative process?

Scott told me I was inspired by David Lynch for the "fear of feet" movie and David Cronenberg for the "fear of touch" movie.  It wasn't conscious; though I love their films very much.  I was looking at a lot of the fine art photography of Brooke Shaden when preparing APHEPHOBIA; she creates these disturbing magical images that tend to be pressing down on a female character.  

As for PODOPHOBIA, we drew more from the imagination of the actors and myself.  I'm also a fan of the Polish director Andrzej Zulawski, whose movies push to the extremes of human behavior. Maybe that was an influence too.

5. What are you afraid of? Did your short film include aspects of your own phobias?

My deepest fears are of being controlled by someone else, either in the form of a cult or of someone who is able to persuade me to do something against my better moral judgment.  I guess that's why I'm scared of films like INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE THING and Todd Haynes's SAFE.  While I love people as individuals, large groups tend to scare me.  It's odd that I love living in New York City so much since you are continually encountering masses strangers. Crowded subway trains mortify me a little, and I'm sure I drew on that for APHEPHOBIA.  I certainly had a conversation or two about that with our lead actress, Kelly Rae LeGault.  As for PODOPHOBIA, I'm not afraid of feet, but the mysteries of the human heart are unpredictable and sometimes leap out in outrageous ways.

Xiomara Cintron tapped into a very specific, personal terror when playing the role.  It was interesting to see her in a scene opposite child actors who, for a moment, thought she was truly losing control.  I think they got a little scared.  After I called cut, I asked Xiomara, "Were you in total control of your instrument there?" She nodded and said she was, and that she felt safe, which is how she could allow herself to go there.  The child actors looked at each other with a gleam in their eyes, as if they had discovered some beautiful truth about acting; that you can go anywhere and arrive back safely.

6. Do you plan on filming more short horror films in the future? If so, what projects are you working on and what can fans expect to see from you in the coming months?

I'm ready to transition over to more feature films.  The short form has been good to me; I love building towards a small sharp shock and love it in the way I enjoy the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft or Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I wish there was a greater market for short genre films, though my colleagues Alan Rowe Kelly, Anthony Sumner and Bart Mastronardi have been smart about making anthologies.  But I've become more enamored with the idea of a long form narrative, and have a monster movie I'd love to make.  That said, I do have a new short film coming soon called THE DAYS GOD SLEPT, shot by my frequent cinematographer Dominick Sivilli and scored by the wonderful Harry (FRIDAY THE 13th) Manfredini, set in a mysterious gentleman's club where the fabric of reality gets turned upside down.  It's a film that is both beautiful and macabre, and I can't wait to share it with everyone.

About the Director

Jeremiah Kipp's directing credits include THE SADIST starring Tom Savini, THE POD starring Larry Fessenden, CONTACT (commissioned by Sinister Six annual screening series), THE DAYS GOD SLEPT, CRESTFALLEN, THE CHRISTMAS PARTY (Cannes and Clermont-Ferrand), EASY PREY (commissioned by NYC's annual VisionFest), DROOL (commissioned by Mandragoras Art Space), SNAPSHOT and THE APARTMENT (commissioned by Canon to premiere their XL2 at DV Expo 2004). 

Producing credits include the feature films SATAN HATES YOU (created by Glass Eye Pix, starring Angus Scrimm, Michael Berryman and Reggie Bannister), GOD'S LAND, LET'S PLAY, IN MONTAUK, THE JONESTOWN DEFENSE and THE BED-THING (directed by Pulitzer Prize-nominated Matt Zoller Seitz). Assistant director credits include I SELL THE DEAD starring Dominic Monaghan, SOMEWHERE TONIGHT starring John Turturro, ONE NIGHT starring Melissa Leo, and the Sundance Award-winning MAN (dir: Myna Joseph).

'The Walking Dead' Episode 302: 'Sick'

Previously on "The Walking Dead," Hershel had been bitten by a walker and Rick had brutally hacked off his leg with a hatchet. Hershel is bleeding out badly, and it may kill him, so time is of the essence to get the wound treated by Carol. Hershel taught Carol first aid, but she isn't a trained doctor, so her medical knowledge is limited.

While Daryl keeps the prisoners at bay with his crossbow, Glenn ransacks the kitchen and finds a metal wheeled table to use as a gurney. They lift Hershel up onto it and wheel him out of the cafeteria and over to cell block six, where the rest of the group is waiting for them.

Rick, Daryl and T-Dog prevent the prisoners from going with them into their cell block. The prisoners demand to know what is going on, and if they are going to take Hershel to a hospital. Here we learn that the prisoners were trapped in the cafeteria for 10 months waiting for someone to come and rescue them, and that they have no idea just how far the world has fallen apart.

Rick escorts the prisoners outdoors and shows them the walkers in the yard, and the dead ones that they killed. Daryl tells them that they are free to go, and Rick says that since they cleared out the prison, it's theirs. But Tomas says that they were there first, and they don't want to share.

After some debate,during which it is clear from the dangerous look on his face that Tomas wouldn't hesitate to kill someone to get what he wants, Rick agrees to help them clear out a cell block in the prison for them to live in. In exchange, they will take half of the food and other supplies that they have stored in the cafeteria's pantry.

Once Hershel is placed on a bed, Carol takes charge and gets people to help her dress his wound. But they are low on medical supplies and she isn't sure if she can help him, or Lori when it comes time for her to deliver the baby.

Maggie is convinced that her father is going to die, and tries to talk to her sister Beth about this. Beth is busy cutting off one of her father's pant legs so that it doesn't drag on the ground while he walks, since he is now missing the lower half of his leg. Maggie is prepared for the worst, and Glenn fears that she will kill her father before he is dead if she thinks that he's is going to come back as a walker.

Rick and T-Dog come back to their cell block with arm loads of food, which lightens everyone's spirits. Lori tells Rick that Hershel's pulse is low, and he is feverish. His outcome isn't looking too good.

Rick tells Lori that they're going to clear out a cell block for the prisoners to live in and that he is going to keep them away from the group. If they appear to be a threat, he is going to kill them. Lori, being the doe-eyed idiot that she is, tells him to do what he thinks is best for the group.

Daryl and Rick attempt to teach the prisoners how to kill the walkers after they give them some weapons, but they still run at them and try to kill them like it's a prison fight.

Meanwhile, Maggie sits with her unconscious dying father and tells him in a heartbreaking scene that he doesn't have to stay just for her or Beth, that he doesn't have to worry about them anymore, and that it's OK for him to go. She thanks him for everything he's done, and waits for him to die.

Carl enters Hershel's prison cell and puts a duffel bag full of medical supplies from the infirmary on the bed. Carol asks him where he got it from and he tells her that he went and found the infirmary by himself since everyone else was busy and they needed the bandages and medicine to save Hershel's life.

Lori then says, "You went by yourself? Are you crazy?" Carl tells her that it's not a big deal, he just had to kill two walkers, and someone had to go and do it. She tries to be overbearing and overprotective as always, and he tells her to shut up and leave him alone. (Go Carl!) Beth, Carl's budding love interest, tells him not to talk to his mother that way, and Carl leaves in a huff, angry about being treated like a kid when he went and did the right thing.

Carol asks Glenn to help her find a walker to practice cutting open. She tells him that Carl was born with a C-section and Lori's baby will probably have to be cut out of her during labor or they both could die. But Carol  isn't a trained doctor, so she wants to cut open a cadaver to learn female anatomy and how to make the incisions. Which, sort of makes sense, but I'm pretty sure that in order to get to the uterus of a female corpse that is not pregnant, she will have to cut through intestines, whereas when performing a Cesarean section, the womb has distended and pushed out closer to the skin surface, so the cut isn't as deep. While Carol works, she is watched by someone in the woods. I'm guessing it's one of the Governor's men, or Merle, because people just can't get enough of that redneck jerk.

When Rick and the prisoners encounter a hallway full of walkers, Big Tiny separates from the group, backing away from the walkers because he's afraid of them. He is scratched by a walker that rips its decayed hands out of the handcuffs and strikes at him with sharp bony stumps. Which, in retrospect is ridiculous because if the walker was that far gone in the decaying process with its flesh just sloughing off like it's the skin that forms on the top of Jell-O, then it wouldn't be able to walk around or even stay standing, as it would just fall apart.

Tomas takes one look at Big Tiny, who is trying desperately to convince the others that he isn't sick and that he won't turn into a walker, and then brutally kills him.

Tomas is the leader of the prisoner, and the most dangerous character in the episode. It's made clear early on that he is planning to kill Rick and take whatever it is that he is protecting away from him.

Since Rick was a Sheriff's Deputy, he's familiar with the prison, and he isn't intimated in the slightest by the group of prisoners that they run into in the cafeteria. Neither is Daryl for that matter. Daryl offers to kill Tomas early on if he so much as sneezes the wrong way, and tells Rick to just give him the word and he'll do it. In the end however, it's not Daryl that kills him, it's Rick.

When they reach a set of double doors, Rick tells Tomas to only open one of them. Tomas can't get them open, and ends up yanking them both open at the same time, which allows more walkers into the room than they wanted to deal with at one time. Tomas then swings his machete far too close to Rick's head, and shoves a walker at him, which sends Rick falling to the floor with a walker trying to chew his face off. Daryl kills the walker and helps Rick back up.

After they have cleared the area, Rick confronts Tomas, who doesn't think that he'll kill him, and challenges him on it. Rick gives him a long look and then kills him out with one solid thwack of his blade.

Rick then asks the others why he should let them live and one of them runs. Rick chases him until he reaches a courtyard full of walkers and he shuts the door on him, leaving him to be eaten alive by the walkers. Rick clearly regrets doing so, but it's not something that he can take back. He then returns to where Daryl and T-Dog are holding the other two prisoners hostage and they take them to their cell block, where there are corpses of prisoners lying in the open doorways of the cells with their hands tied behind their backs and their brains blown out. They were shot, executioner style. But by whom? And why?

When Hershel stops breathing, Maggie believes is the end of him. Lori, in an act of crazed desperation, gives him CPR and brings him back to life. Later, Rick goes to speak with Lori alone on the catwalk and thanks her for saving Hershel's life. He puts a hand on her shoulder, and it's clear that this is the first physical contact that they have had in months. Lori thought that he had come to her to talk about their broken relationship. He just tells her that they're all grateful for what she did and walks away, leaving her to rest her head on her shoulder where he touched her and cry.

In the end, Lori is still proving to be an idiot. This episode she did actually do something useful, but not before berating Carl for doing the right thing and finding the medical supplies that they needed to stop Hershel from bleeding to death.

She is alone and suffering, knowing full well that she drove both her son and her husband from her with her horrible temper and inability to think things through all the way. At least Carl has grown as a character and become a fully fledged member of the group. I hope that he stays that way for the rest of the season. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'American Horror Story: Asylum' Episode 1: 'Welcome to Briarcliff'

"American Horror Story: Asylum" can best be described as a horrible hodge-podge monstrosity of "Fire in the Sky" meets "The Island of Dr. Moreau" meets "Freaks" meets "The Magdelene Sisters" meets "Girl Interrupted" meets "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Throw in any title of a bad B-horror slasher movie with a killer that has an unimaginative name from the 1980s to get a premier episode that is just jammed to the gills with clashing fictional archetypes that have no business being in the same room together, let alone in the same episode, and you'll have the first episode of "American Horror Story: Asylum."

The first episode was so muddled and hard to follow that I kept going, "Wait, what? What just happened? What the f--- is going on? Why is that guy getting probed anally? Who the heck allowed the evil mad scientist to run an insane asylum to begin with, and why isn't he in jail or on trial for murder yet?"

The subject of insane asylums and being committed, or just being insane for that matter, can be downright terrifying if done correctly. Unfortunately, the only thing scary about AHS:Asylum is that anyone paid to have it filmed, and that FX decided to air it.

Episode 1: "Welcome to Briarwood" starts out with two sexy lovers entering the Briarwood Asylum in modern times on their sexy haunted honeymoon tour. There they start getting frisky on an old, dusty and no doubt infested electro-convulsive therapy table. They hear a noise and go to investigate. The noise leads them to a locked door.

While his hot and bothered wife goes down on him, Mr. Sexy Lover puts his hand in the food slot and tries to film what's inside with his phone's camera. His arm then gets ripped off. Yep. Don't fornicate in horror stories. If you do, you're the first to die.

Flashback to 1964:

Kit Walker is being harassed by his peers at the gas station where he works. There is an innuendo about his black wife when one of the guys steals his chocolate and eats it in front of him. "MMM... Chocolate." (But the innuendo is so dense, that I didn't catch it until way after the fact when it's revealed that his secret wife is a black woman. Boy do I feel dumb. And possibly naive.) Kit Walker is in an interracial marriage in the 1960s, which could possibly get him lynched by the local  yokels and is abducted by aliens. Ahem, Betty and Barney Hill anyone?

Kit goes home, has hot sex with his nubile wife, and lies about in his tidy whiteys for a while. Then he's abducted by aliens. Yes, that's right. Aliens, that not only anally probe him, but also rip the skin off of his lovely wife. The abduction and subsequent anal probing drives him completely INSANE, to the point where he is skinning people alive and supposedly wearing their flesh.

Now, I wouldn't have such a problem with this if it were actually shown, if the first few episodes of the show were about Kit's descent into madness and his subsequent admission into a mental institution. But it wasn't, and they're not. All the information we have about his wife being skinned alive is related to us in dialogue. He doesn't have flashbacks to it, and the audience certainly has no freaking clue as to if this indeed really happened.

At any rate, Kit is framed for murder by the aliens and sent to Briarwood Asylum for evaluation prior to his trial in court. Because apparently  there isn't any sort of local psychiatrist that they could contact or ship in from out of state to get him to put Kit through a series of tests while he is in prison awaiting trial. Nope. He goes strait to the loony bin, and man is that place crazy. But not in the good way.

Upon his arrival, we are introduce to the plucky reporter Lana Lang err.. I mean Lana Winters, who enters the asylum on a pretense to interview Sister Jude about the great bread that the patients are making there.

                                  I just love her Laverne and Shirley-esque "L" lapel pin. 

The Briarwood nuns believe that keeping the patients active and productive will help them be cured of their mental illnesses. Oops. Did I say mental illness? My bad. Sister Jude doesn't believe in that sort of thing. She thinks that psychiatry is a quaint thing used to defend the sins of people, and that they only way to cure them is to beat the Devil out of them. Yeah. She isn't a cliched character at all.

After a while, Kit is introduced to the patients in a scene that harkens back to the classic film, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Which, now that I think about it, Sister Jude is a little like the horrible tyrant, Nurse Ratched.

And sorry, Ms. Winters, but serial killers aren't referred to by their nickname alone by newspaper reporters. The nickname is usually inserted between the first and last name, even in dialogue, so the fact that the perky lesbian reporter, Lana Lang, (Oh wait, did we forget to mention that she's a lesbian? If we did, here's some more saucy footage for you)  only referred to him as "Bloody Face" and not Kit "Bloody Face" Walker, which is how most serial killers are talked about in the media, makes the scene completely unbelievable and shallow feeling.

Some other, mostly unimportant things happen, such as a patient who the audience never met dying, and then Sister Jude goes to yell at Dr. Arden, the local mad scientist who is involved in studying genetic mutations. He confesses that the patients under his care have been disappearing  and that a lot of them are dead. Instead of going to the police to get her nemesis arrested and sent to jail for murder/medical malpractice, she glares at him and tells him that she knows who to deal with the male patriarchy and then storms off. *sigh*

Afterward, the simpering Sister Eunice is sent by Dr. Arden to feed the monstrosities in the woods with two buckets full of body parts. Which is where, I assume, the mad doctor's mutated patients are now residing. While tending to the mutated beasts, Lana Lang comes up to her and convinces her to let her into the asylum.

Lana does a little bit of investigating and is then knocked out by a monster who reaches through the feeding slot of its door and grabs her violently. When she comes to, she finds herself strapped to a bed. In the meantime, Sister Jude ferreted out where Lana lived, went there, deduced from just looking around, or perhaps, from the smell alone, that Lana is in a lesbian relationship with her roommate, and bullies the poor woman into signing a legal document to get her committed. Overall, this scene was the least coherent and made the least amount of sense.

Then we see a room covered in gouges made by large claws, where Sister Jude is glaring at Dr. Arden, who is nonchalantly cleaning the room with disinfectant.

The episode ends with Mrs. Sexy Lover running through the "death chute" of the asylum trying to get help for her now one armed husband, because apparently the doors and windows are locked and she can't get out the way she came in. There, she comes face-to-face with Bloody Face! Who, by the way, is looking pretty good for someone who has to be about 65 years old by now. Think about it; if he was in his early twenties in the early 60s, which is what I'd assume Kit to be, he'd be the same age as my dad.

                                               Why, hello there ladies. Who wants a kiss?

I have a theory about that. Either Kit "Bloody Face" Walker has aged well thanks to the crazy "Island of Doctor Moreau" experiments that turned him into a mutant freak, or--- dun, dun, DUN!, he is traveling through time thanks to the aliens. Yeah. Time traveling aliens, that's the ticket. That's what this show really needs. Screw the rest of that crap. Let's have more sexy abduction sequences, while traveling through time! Am I right?

Now, there's so much wrong with this episode, it was hard for me to pinpoint exactly why it didn't make any sense to me. So far I've come up with several problem areas:

  • Too many monster genre types
  • Sexy, sexy ratings or soap opera syndrome
  • The inaccurate portrayal of a mental institution in the 1960s
  • Cliched stereotypes of the evil nun and vile geneticist

Less is More
My main problem with AHS: Asylum is that instead of just picking one theme and running with it, it appears as though the scriptwriter got into a room with several other people and they all wrote down their favorite monster movies on a piece of paper and threw them into a box. The writer then drew out five different slips of paper, and decided to use each monster in the same story. And I'm sorry, but it just doesn't work. It just doesn't.

I'm almost 100 percent certain that the brainstorming sessions for the show looked something like this:

Personally, I'm betting on Sasquatch/Wendigo/Yeti being introduced in the third episode of the season.

Sorry Kit. You're going from the alien horror sub-genre to something much, much worse: a poorly done period piece set in an insane asylum run by a sadistic nun and an evil genetic researcher who is going to turn you into a mutant freak. Yeah. I'd be crying too if I had to live through such a trite storyline.

Sexy, Sexy Ratings
The one thing that really stood out to me, other than the fact that the plot line is so confused that it is running around itself in circles like a dog chasing its tail, is that there were more sex scenes in the first episode of ASH: Asylum than there were drama sequences, or even action sequences for that matter. The only reason I can think for this to occur is that more sex scenes gets the show higher ratings.

Sure, the sex scenes are "edgy," I guess, if you consider two beautiful people bumping and grinding on dirty tables in an abandoned tuberculosis ward/insane asylum to be edgy. But just because they show a little more skin than daytime TV doesn't mean that it's better than a soap opera. In fact, I've seen soap operas that have better plot lines and story flow than what AHS: Asylum has to offer us. And that's just sad, because soaps are notorious for their shallow characters and ridiculous plot lines.

"I'm sorry ma'am. It's a brain cloud. We're going to have to operate."

The Insanity of the Insane Asylum

Speaking of ridiculous, Briarcliff Manor asylum as it is presented in the show could have existed in the early 1900s, up to the 1920s at the latest. It would not have existed in the 1960s. Asylums were phased out during the 1950s and replaced with outpatient care and psychiatric wards in hospitals. The 60s were actually a time of great reform in the mental health industry, which was championed by the great JFK himself, of whom Sister Jude just gushes about during her dinner with the object of her onanism, the Monsignor Timothy, who wishes to move up the religious food chain and place Sister Jude as Mother Superior.

MMM... monsignor, you're so delicious, I could just eat you up with a side of fava beans.

In fact, the National Institute for Mental Health, or NIMH, was established during his short term as president of the United States. Electro-convulsive therapy and lobotomies were being replaced with the first effective psychotropic drugs to help schizophrenics and clinically depressed people on the market.

Briarcliff Manor, and it's sorely understaffed halls (seriously, there's like one orderly, two nuns, and a mad doctor running the place and that's it) is weirdly anachronistic, or as my SO Shane Strange says, it's schizo-anachronistic, in that it picks and chooses what Ye Olde Tymey things it uses and which elements of the 1960s that it prefers to include, such as the threat of a lynch mob coming to burn down their home causing Kit and his lovely wife to marry in secret, and the blatant abuse of homosexuals by psychiatrists, who were at the time considered to have a mental defect that needed to be cured.

Evil Nuns, Vile Geneticists, and Bears Oh My!
Who Needs Subtlety?

OK, so I seriously have a problem with how Sister Jude, and her underling Sister Sobby Suck-up, er.. I mean Sister Eunice (who may or may not actually be Sister Jude's daughter. Gasp!)  are portrayed.

Nuns that were involved with hospitals and sanitariums did so, and continue to do so, as acts of charity. CHARITY. Not, "we have to save their souls from the devil." No, that's more of the Baptist's shtick. Sorry.

Nuns helped the poor, the indigent, and those less fortunate as an act of kindness in order to become closer to God, not to spread the gospel or force people into converting to Catholicism. Were there nuns who over stepped their bounds and thwacked kids with rulers in school? Sure. They probably even used a paddle or too on the really unruly children. But, none of them kept a closet so full of whips and riding crops that it would make a shy librarian with an S&M fetish blush. Which is why Sister Jude's character is ridiculous.

Her "forbidden romance" plot thread is shallow and silly, her obsession with beating the devil out of the insane is inhumane and not very Godly, and her strange omniscient ability to ferret out a lesbian couple, know what to say to get her lover to sign her off and get her committed, and even run to get the paperwork typed up by a legal secretary and approved by a judge so quickly is laughable and completely unbelievable.

Don't get me wrong, I love Jessica Lange. She has a great screen presence and is a wonderful actress, but her character is just... not very good.

Evil Nuns are a cliche, so are evil villainous mad scientists that perform vivisections on patients. Dr. Arden (who may or may not be an evil Nazi scientist) is performing cruel genetic experiments on plants and people, in particular he is taking his test subjects from the patients of the asylum and exposing them to gamma radiation, in an attempt to create Hulk-like super soldiers or just to be a sadistic dick. It's unclear at this point.

When done right, an unethical scientist performing human experiments can be scary. However, Dr. Arden is too blunt and out in the open about everything. He doesn't dodge the issue when confronted by Sister Jude, he outright tells her that the patients that went under his care are dead. His confession would have been enough to get any normal person (nun or otherwise) to call the police and put him under investigation for murder or, at the very least, medical malpractice.

Does he confess that they're dead to cover up the fact that he's turned them into mutant freaks that are living in the woods? The ones that Sister Eunice is forced to feed human body parts to keep them quiet? Probably.

Love it or hate it, "American Horror Story: Asylum" has just gotten started. I can't wait to see what crazy stunts they try to pull next.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

'The Walking Dead' Season 3 Episode 1: 'Seed'

With much of season two of "The Walking Dead" being wasted on filler episodes and the search for Sophia (who was hiding the barn the entire time, tee hee!) I was a bit hesitant to allow myself to get all geeked up for the premier episode of season three. Thankfully, the first episode of season three of "The Walking Dead: Seed" does not disappoint.

I actually loved the fact that the first five minutes of the episode didn't have any dialogue whatsoever as Rick's group goes through a house in silent precision, taking out walkers quietly and scavenging for food.

For the first time since the show's inception, Carl Grimes is a useful member of the group. He takes out walkers, shooting them with little hesitation and searchers purposefully for food while the others sit down in the house for what little rest they can get.

It is soon clear that they have been avoiding the walker herds all winter, and that as soon as they spot a few stragglers, the group is out the back door, running to the next way point.

Rick has gotten smart about running the group, putting two people on look out for walkers while they plan their next course of action. Afterward, he and Daryl go hunt for food while the others use the local stream to clean up. While they are out in the woods, they spot the prison on the horizon.

Rick decides that it's time to head over there. Lori is now very pregnant, her belly swelling with child, and she can't handle running around for very much longer or the stress could kill the baby, and possibly her too. They've been avoiding entering the prison for a while now, due to the fact that there is an unknown number of walkers inside, and the yard is just full of them.

Rick believes that there will be medical supplies and food inside the prison, and that securing it is their best course of action. With a solid plan of attack, Rick, Glenn, Maggie, Daryl and T-Dog enter the fence that runs around the perimeter of the prison yard and start putting the walking dead down.

Once the entrance way is secure, Rick sends Daryl and Carol to one of the guard towers, and Carl and Hershel to another to start shooting the walkers, while the others draw the undead prisoner's attention to one side of the yard so that Rick can enter it and run over to the next guard tower.

Here, we learn that Carol has become a pretty good shot with a rifle. This is probably due to the fact that she's been hanging out so much with Daryl lately.

That night, they have a short respite around a camp fire and Beth and Maggie sing a song for their daddy. Aww...

Rick then joins the group and tells them that they just need to push themselves a little further and they can secure the area and have a save place to stay, and possibly grow their own food.

Carol joins Daryl on a tipped over vehicle and gives him some food. It's clear that they've grown closer to each other, when he rubs her sore shoulder and she then jokes about him being romantic with her and asks if he wants to mess around. Daryl just scoffs at her and leaves. It's kind of a cute moment.

Lori tries to talk to Rick and thanks him for all that he's done, but he gives her a cold shoulder and tells her that he's doing what needs to be done for the safety of the group and walks away. It's clear that the tension caused by her having Shane's baby has forced them apart. Even Carl won't talk to her now.

In between the group's attempt to take the prison, we see Michonne scavenging for pain killers and bringing it back to Andrea, who is hiding in a meat packing plant. Andrea, apparently  has become deathly ill and has a terrible cough, which makes me believe that she has bronchitis caused by an infection that occurred while she had a cold. Without antibiotics, an infection like that can spread to your bloodstream and kill you. Andrea and Michonne have been watching out for each other over the winter, and moving ahead of the walker herd as much as possible. When Andrea tells her that she doesn't want to die in a meat locker, they move on.

The next day, Rick's group attempts to draw the attention of the walkers near the doors to the prison and encounter undead prison guards in full riot gear and one particularly iconic looking one in a gas mask, which makes them difficult to kill.

It's Maggie that figures out how to kill these walkers. She's a great fighter!

Personally, I wouldn't have wasted so much energy on them. Their faces are blocked and their hands are covered with thick gloves, so they can't bite or scratch anyone without a heck of a lot of effort on their part.

Anyhoo, the makeup for the zombies in this action sequence is pretty darn good if I do say so myself! Check it out!

Rick's familiarity with the prison and it's layout helps with figuring out which gates on the fence need to be secured and locked shut.

Once inside, they secure a cell block and make it home base for the evening.  Carl tries to bunk with Beth, but Hershel scares him off. It's clear that he likes her a lot and that they've grown close as well.

Rick sleeps by himself in the hallway, sitting against the wall.

By this point it's clear that Lori has completely estranged her husband and son. Carl hasn't said a single word to her. Rick will speak with her, but only gives her curt replies, and he certainly won't comfort her anymore. She knows that it's all her fault, but, being the idiot that she is, she won't ever be capable of figuring out how to mend her broken relationships.

While the guys are checking out the riot gear and other weapons that they took from the remains of the prison guards, Carol comes to fetch Hershel for Lori.

Lori tells Hershel that she hasn't felt the baby move and she fears that it's stillborn. And, if it's dead inside of her and they're all infected, she believes that it will become a walker and chew it's way out of her body a la "Dawn of the Dead." She begs Hershel to put her and her baby down if there's any chance of either of them dying during childbirth. She doesn't want to attack her family or anyone else in the group. Hershel agrees and  goes to examine her to see if her child is still alive. It isn't said if it is or not, so I'm going to assume that it still is. Little Shane won't go down so easily.

With everything that Lori has done to Rick, it's no surprise that both he and Carl are shunning her. She has gone from being the wife of the group leader to pregnant outcast, and it's all her fault.

Last season, she revealed that she was pregnant, but only after she asked Glenn to get her morning after pills and took them, then threw them up. Rick was shocked by her actions, but wasn't angry with her for sleeping with Shane, as they thought that he was dead.

However, this quickly changes after she tells Rick to kill Shane. When he informs her that he killed him, she pushes him away and becomes outraged with him, even though he did exactly what she asked him to do. Because she's a moron.

Unfortunately for us, Lori and her pregnancy is going to be the main plot line of the third season. Glen Mazzara revealed this during the Talking Dead episode that aired directly after the show. Which means that she probably won't die until the last episode, or like Shane, the episode prior to the last one of the season. Yay.

While many people are cheering for Carl to get eaten by a walker, I'm hoping that it's Lori.  It's highly likely that Lori will bite the dust first. At least, she does in the comic during the last action sequence at the prison. But, since the show is so unpredictable, it's hard to say exactly who will die, other than it will be one of the main characters of the show.

The next day, Rick, Glenn, Maggie, T-Dog, Hershel and Daryl go to explore the prison and attempt to find food and medicine, which brings me to the only thing that didn't make sense in this episode.

If Hershel is so important to keep around, being the only doctor of the group, why did they risk his life? Why not send Carl and leave Hershel to hold the fort and keep their cell block secure? Heck, with as good of a shot as she is, Carol could've protected the cell block while they awaited their return, all by herself.

So, this is where Rick's reasoning goes out the window. I mean come on! Tactically speaking, the last thing you'd want to do is put your only doctor in harm's way. And as you can guess, because Hershel was put in harm's way, he is the one that gets hurt. The only reason I can think that they would do this is because he's so important to the group and we need MORE drama! Right? Ugh...

During their exploration, they see dead, badly decomposed bodies lying about on the floor, but none of them are reanimated. Eventually they come to a dead end and attempt to return to their cell block.

Unfortunately, all that noise that they're making (which, by the way, doesn't make sense either, seeing as how they kept so quiet during the first scene of the episode while they were entering the house), draws the attention of the walkers.

They turn a corner, the music gets tense and really loud, only to show nothing. Then, around the next corner, the sound is quiet and bam! there's a huge group of walkers crowding the hallway and blocking their passage. So they turn around and head back, only to come across another group of walking dead. Panic ensues and they start to run. Maggie and Glenn are separated from the group and hide in a closet.

Hershel notices that Maggie and Glenn are gone and they go back to find them. He hears her voice and starts walking her way, stepping over what appears to be a dead body. Unfortunately for him, it's not. The walker grabs his leg and bites off the back of his ankle. Daryl takes out the walker, and Hershel is on the floor, screaming in agony and terror.

Maggie and Glenn catch up with them and help carry Hershel to the cafeteria. There, Rick takes the hatchet from Hershel's medical bag and hacks off his leg in a very brutal fashion. They create a makeshift tourniquet  with a belt for his amputated leg, but they can't stop the bleeding.

The episode ends with several living prisoners walking up to the fenced off food line to take a look at Rick and company.

They aren't alone. And it's up to Daryl to keep the prisoners at bay.