Strictly speaking, this was not a project, but I think those who participated will agree that it really did feel like a production. ;)
Our wedding, on Hallowe'en night, 2004.
We weaved in autumn themes, touches of Lord of the Rings, a good dose of Hallowe'en of course, as well as flourishes of our Celtic and Scottish backgrounds.
I also couldn't resist having bundles of balloons for centre pieces surrounded by gourdes on the table tops, and jack-o-lanterns decorating the buffet tables. My white and crystal dress and the cake with a pattern matching my dress were meant as reminders of the chill of winter yet to come. Guests were encouraged to wear a little plaid.
And now, we look at the present...and THE FUTURE of my Halloween related projects! Horror at Terror Creek!
A slightly musical “B-Movie” play meant to be a ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek horror play that happens to have one musical number (the music for which was created by the awesome Scott McCord! I cranked out some lyrics and he edited them for me into something somewhat sensible.)
From the introduction of the published version of the play: The play is meant to evoke the over-the-top fear and fun of those old Vincent Price/Peter Lorre/Christopher Lee horror movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s live on stage! The play pays homage to the lively acting, strained special effects, vivid colours, Gothic set design, and far-fetched but endearing scripts that were often filmed by Roger Corman, and sometimes written by Richard Matheson. Aesthetically, when the play is produced, it should mirror Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe classics (films such as Fall of the House of Usher, Masque of the Red Death, and Tomb of Ligeia). The script, and therefore this book’s inspiration is an amalgam of many different B-movie and horror film sources, including the likes of Horror Hotel, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Brotherhood of Satan. And let’s not forget the zombies. The setting is modern, but evokes a mood of a Gothic past, and a flare of the 1960s. Naturally, there is also a touch of The Rocky Horror Show, with a single musical number. Irreverent fun and the vigorous energy of classic B-movie horror films are key!
Just in time for Halloween...Raxl Desmond recites El Cuervo...The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe (abridged). Just a weird little video I threw together allowing my dog, Raxl, to "perform" and for her "voice" to be heard, as well as a birthday present for her Grammie.
And now...a few terrifyingly miscellaneous projects...one that was, and two that never were...but may yet be, some day. Or not. These ones don't involve so much comedy, for a change. Perhaps that's why they're on a shelf and not yet produced...mwah-ha-ha-ha...or something.
Watching Mr. Body happened, weird though it was. It's scariness lies in it's experimental nature. It's about 10 minutes long, with one extended static shot and one extended POV motion shot.
See a trailer HERE.
Unwanted Guests was meant to be a short film around 20-30 minutes about a young couple dealing with the presence of shadow people in their apartment. Wondering what shadow people are? From Wikipedia: A shadow person (also known as a shadow figure, shadow being or black mass) is the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, particularly as interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit or other entity. Many methamphetamine addicts report hallucinations of "shadow people", as a result of sleep deprivation.
In the case of our film, these shadow people were meant to be "alternate dimension" spirits or beings of some sort. So we were going with the paranormal/supernatural interpretation.
Kevin wrote the script, but I was meant to direct it, so I still consider it a project of mine...even though it's on hold indefinitely.
Silencer is another paranormal short film project that's been put on hold. It's a project I'm co-writing with R. J. Downes, and not only is it a ghostly tale, the project is an exercise (or will continue to be, if and when we pick up the threads again). The film is meant to be created (pre-production, production and post-production) only with technology that is no more recent than 1922 (or the equivalent version we can lay our hands on these days). Rob (R. J.) and I both have antique typewriters that we had been using to type up our individual scenes (and we used carbon paper to create our copies...we do not, at the moment, have access to a Photostat machine), but that's as far as the project has gone so far.
Only time will tell if Triple Take's 35mm hand-crank camera from 1922 will see another shoot day!
I'm pleased to announce a new picture book will be coming soon...we've yet to find a publisher for this one, so I'm not announcing the title yet, but I would like to announce the co-writer, my husband Kevin Risk, and our illustrator, Gordon Bagshaw!
Kevin is illustrating my book Tamara Turtle's Life So Far, and has previously done illustrations for the cover of our novella and screenplay They Suck, and for my short children's story Jason and Jake. He is also a writer of genre fiction and a Media Librarian at CBC. We also co-wrote our film Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem! and the aforementioned screenplay and novella They Suck.
Gordon Bagshaw, a stay-at-home dog parent of two beautiful shelties, is also a Canadian author and illustrator. Gord grew up in Montreal. Being unable to participate in common sports as a child, due to Nemaline Myopathy, he honed in on other various skills in art and music. Having a natural storyteller for a father, he developed his own vivid imagination and gravitated towards the talent of cartooning at a young age, graduating with honours in creative arts with an emphasis in film and animation. He is the creator of the Frodo the Sheltie online comic strip and the trilogy comic strip galleries of the same name (Kindle through Amazon.com, and paperback through Lulu.com):
Gordon also illustrated Sarah Elvidge’s children book, Sleepy Time for Mammals, a 2014 L.M. Montgomery Literature for Children Award winner (available through Amazon).
Kevin and I are super excited to be working with such a talented artist! And I look forward to telling you more about our collaboration in the coming months...
I was asked to write a guest blog about Canadian-made horror films just in time for the Halloween season on the First Weekend Club website! Check it out HERE.
First Weekend Club was founded in 2003. As a non-profit organization, they have supported over 400 great Canadian films and countless talent. They give audiences a chance to be ‘in-the-know’ about upcoming Canadian films, access to exclusive giveaways, video interviews, invitations to special member-only events, and much more! By the way, membership is free at firstweekendclub.ca/join – Join First Weekend Club and become a Canadian film champion today!
More tales of terror and giggles from my past, and now, my present.
They Suck...first a short screenplay that Kevin and I wrote together. We managed to win an Honourable Mention on The Bastard's Have Landed, which was once the official fan site for Peter Jackson (whose films inspired our twisted tale, particularly Peter's very gory and very silly Brain Dead/Dead Alive...Trey Parker's and Matt Stone's Orgazmo became a later inspiration, somewhat accidentally). The Bastard's were having a "short film scripts inspired by Peter Jackson" contest, and we certainly felt that They Suck fit the bill.
Then Kevin and I decided to go ahead and co-write a full-length screenplay. For the first few years, it seemed as if we had a reading for almost every major draft we created! Although, I guess that was partly the point. The readings were also workshops for Kevin and I. One particular reading, held at Hart House (University of Toronto), was basically a script-in-hand but blocked out performance with a terrific cast! We also did a number of test shoots of scenes with some of these talented performers. Watching actors perform roles intended for a hamster, or pony or a disabled turtle was particularly amusing. Yes, there are talking animals in this vampire story. Because, why wouldn't there be?
Now the screenplay is published and in search of a co-producer. And I decided to turn the story into a work of prose as well...hey, I think it worked out pretty well for Space Zombies! I enjoy writing horror with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. The novella was just released on Lulu and Amazon in early October, in keeping with the season.
So, I've had stories with zombies (from space) and vampires...I guess I have to think about doing a werewolf story of some sort. I've got witches covered, but that's another story and another post...
Including the latest and final episode, Episode 13!
Check them out anytime:
Episode 1: Cats: First They Took the Internet...Next, the World?
Episode 2: Seedless Watermelons
Episode 3: Emojis
Episode 4: Mannequins: Inanimate Plastic or Secret Overlords?
Episode 5: The Rise of Cannibalism In All Things
Episode 6: Pigeons
Episode 7: Pop Stars
Episode 8: Zombie Boy. They're Coming and He Knows it. Will We Be Ready?
Episode 9: Red-heads
Episode 10: Yield Signs
Episode 11: From Cookies to Cannibalism (Yes Cannibalism Again)
Episode 12: Vegetables
Episode 13: Nuclear Waste...It Touches Us All
...In which I continue to "regale" you with tales of horrorific projects past.
Fall 2001, Kev and Kim and I took off to break in Triple Take's new camera that would later be used to shoot Space Zombies...a Canon XL-1s. We went to some Ontario ghost towns to shoot a trailer for a movie that doesn't exist, and may never exist, called Balaclava.
Though, it may inspire a haunted ghost town or haunted house story in my future. I just haven't figured out the details.
At any rate, we shot at two particularly creepy locations...at the stone ruins of a Portland Cement plant in Marlbank, Ontario (where there is also supposed to be an old train car at the bottom of a nearby lake...sometimes the water level is low enough that you can see it, but we did not). The plant was built in 1889 by the Rathbun Lumber Company. Portland cement, for anyone remotely interested, is composed of marl and clay dredged from the bottom of the lakes and was more durable than the old lime variety that was previously used. So, the plant was popular and busy for a time, but the plant became a victim of down-sizing and mega-mergers in the 20th century. All that's left are the office, a house and a bunk house, besides the extensive ruins of buildings, silos and so forth. It's pretty spooky looking.
The second and most important location was Balaclava, in Renfrew County. It's one of, if not the most picturesque ghost town in Ontario (technically, it's not a complete ghost town...there's at least one, maybe two households there). The abandoned buildings include a water powered (at one time) sawmill and dam on Constant Creek, a blacksmith shop, a general store, a few farm related buildings, and there was once a hotel, but it burned down many years ago. The sawmill had burned down as well, in 1939, but was rebuilt. The little town, once bustling with life, now sits quietly on the shallow outlet of Constant lake. I've been there a few times now, and the lighting is almost always spectacular, but was particularly so when we were there shooting that November. Autumn suits the place utterly.
Our aim was simply to shoot a trailer outlining a ghost story in a ghost town that sinks it's spectral claws into unsuspecting artist-filmmakers from "the big city"...Toronto, naturally. We shot in Toronto at the Lillian H. Smith library on College St. in Toronto, and in one of the lofts in the Merchandise building on Mutual Street. After that, we hit the road and shot in Maydoc (a lovely little pizzeria), Marlbank and Balaclava, afterwords staying at "The Last Resort" bed and breakfast in Douglas. We also had time to see Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone at Renfrew's historical O'Brien Theatre (a heritage building).
The inspiration for filming this trailer came out of a 12 hour long ghost town road trip that Kimmie and Rob and I went on a year prior. We explored multiple towns throughout southern Ontario, and we had also stayed at The Last Resort B&B. I remember the rental car we were in had a very interesting glitch...when Rob rolled down his window (passenger side) while we were pulled over on the shoulder of one of many smaller highways we traveled along, it caused the passenger door to swing open! Needless to say, we all kept the windows rolled up the rest of the way, especially while actually driving. Ah, the quirks of renting from independent car rental companies, especially those located next to student co-ops!
You can see the Balaclava trailer HERE.
I hope that someday, it will also be a book, likely under a different name. Perhaps it will be my first non-adaptive horror novel!
The next project in my varied Halloween reveries: Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem! Our first (and, at the moment, only) feature film had morphed out of one short film (Space Zombies: Terror From the Sky!), then three short films combined together (including Space Zombies II: Monsters Unleashed, Unabridged, and Unplugged! and Space Zombies III: The Duel-Headed Cat Freak!)...basically we got carried away. ;)
During 2002, and prior, Kev and I watched a lot of content on two particular fresh new specialty channels - SCREAM (Corus Entertainment) and Drive-In Classics, as well as the more established SPACE. We were hooked on watching many, many obscure B-movies and I learned more about an unusual filmmaker: Edward D. Wood Jr. Kevin was (and is) a Tim Burton fan as well, so we ended up taking in Burton's funny and fascinating movie Ed Wood, based on the life and (very bad) films of this singular B-movie filmmaker who lacked all talent for movie making, but he sure as hell did not let that stop him. We went on to watch the films Ed Wood had made, including Plan 9 From Outer Space, which marked the peak of his career, and Bride of the Monster, which did not. Wood's movies, as well as a slew of other so-terrible-they're-watchable films viewed on the aforementioned specialty channels were the multiple sparks that started a fire that burned out of control to the point where our very silly "B-movie on purpose" was made.
Fittingly, the first short film version of the film (Terror from the Sky!) aired on SCREAM, SPACE, and Drive-In Classics as an interstitial for a couple of years (as did The Scary Bitch Project). The full feature film ran on SPACE and Drive-In Classics, premiering on January 8th, 2005, and airing periodically until the end of August 2007. Our film had made a home on the very channels that had inspired it in the first place.