Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Comics Catchup

I make no pretense of being caught up or well-informed about comics these days. There are too many great titles, and too many temptations for an eclectic like myself.

I bounce around among the titles that capture my interest. I've read some of the New 52, and bit of the Red Hulk and other Marvel goings on, and I'm a fan of Locke and Key and much more.

Lately a few other things have grabbed my attention, and a mention on a friend's Facebook timeline sparked some discussion last night. So, some things I've liked recently on my iPad via Comixology include:

Dark Shadows/Vampirella
Crossovers are inevitable in comics, and when characters from different corners of my youth converge, it's hard to pass up the adventure.

Barnabas Collins, the Maine blue blood vampire meets the girl from Draculon in this outing, that pits them against Elizabeth Bathory, she who bathed in the blood of virgins. Liz has enlisted the help of Jack the Ripper, and they're both alive in contemporary Manhattan.

They're responsible for some deaths, and they've kidnapped and caged several victims as well. One of those is the descendant of a woman Barnabas destroyed before he learned to control his vampirism, so he owes a debt.

Barnabas is portrayed as a bit unhip, having been penned up in a coffin for a few hundred years, so venturing from Maine into New York City is challenging. His werewolf cousin Quentin is happily on hand to help out, and then there Vampi.

The fight, as heroes, or even antiheroes must in crossovers, but then they team up and face off against the real evil. Dracula has a place in Vampi's world these days, but Bathory is so evil, he's not an obstacle as this five-issue arc builds to its climactic battle.

It's penned by Marc Andreyko who created Torso, based on the Cleveland's Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run, and it really had me flipping through the frames.

Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator
Lovecraftian meets Lovecraft in more ways than one in this entry in this entry of the ongoing Army of Darkness crossover series, and it's a bit of a brilliant mix.

Ash from Army gets committed after his return to the S-Mart where shotgunning an ancient sorceress isn't viewed with the understanding film viewers might be willing to grant the one-armed stalwart. Who should be at work at the institution where he's housed but Lovecraft's Herbert West himself, the Herbert of the Re-Animator films at least.

He's still up to his efforts to thwart death with obstacles still plaguing him, but he's also assisting those bent on opening doorways to Lovecraft's Elder Gods.

Hideous, tentacled beings abound, and Ash must avert cataclysm in his usual style.

Sherlock Holmes and the Liverpool Demon
Who said Sherlock in his own time couldn't be successful today? Updatings Sherlock and Elementary get all the attention. Well, I suppose the Robert Downey Jr. movies are true to period, but this series gives us Holmes and Watson almost as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's readers know them.

Their challenge is sensational, a series of murders in which the victims are clawed by what many believe to be the Springheel Jack of legend.

But the series remains true to the spirit of Doyle's original stories  throughout. Holmes and Watson are in Liverpool wrapping up a case, and soon become involved in the murders. A homeless man's one of the victims, and he seems to have ties to other things afoot. Is the supernatural at play, or is a gangster's imported panther alone the culprit? The way things wrap up with various plot threads converging in the final issue makes this mystery mini-series enthralling.

These titles plus a news series from Marvel featuring Michael Morbius, who I used to read in black and white in the Vampire Tales days, have been keeping me busy.

I know some who dismiss the digital age of comics, but I find it handy. There's not a worry about missing an issue at the drug store when every title's just a download away.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Fear on Demand Interview Excerpt - Scream Queen and Movie Producer Jacqui Holland

I had a fun an interesting conversation with scream queen and now movie producer Jacqui Holland recently via Skype.

Jacqui doesn't just star in horror films, including several that are in post production. She's also a fan, grew up as a bit of a geek and has started her own production company to create the kind of horror she enjoys.

As the name of her production company suggests, that's films that, well, okay, it's called Mind Fuk, so you get the idea. She enjoys movies that keep viewers guessing, pondering and contemplating, so watch for some cool flicks in the future.

Jacqui's credits include Sorority Party Massacre, Monsters in the Woods and upcoming flicks including The Mangled. She's been seen on television in things like How I Met Your Mother, Suburgatory and Desperate Housewives. Listen to the full interview in Fear on Demand Episode 11 or read on.

Sid: I understand that before you were an actress and a model, you were a bit of a geek. 

Jacqui: Laughs.

Sid: Tell me a little about your formative years. What were some of your early influences? 

Jacqui: Well, as a kid I was definitely a little nerdy. I was kind of heavyset when I was younger. I watched a lot of Nickelodeon. I was always watching them and putting on shows for my parents in my basement and always doing little things like that. I had a National Clean Your Room Day that I would pretend was going. I was alway creating little projects in my head since I was very little.

Sid: And you were a fan of films like The Craft? Did I read that you had a dog named Damien?

Jacqui: I did. I did. I've always loved horror films, ever since I was really little. With my dog, I was really into The Omen, so I named him Damien. He was a little black Pomeranian. The Craft was one of my favorite movies. I saw that over and over again.

Sid: And now, you loved those growing up, now you're acting in some horror, producing some horror. Let's talk about acting first … What have you have found are particular challenges about acting in horror movies.

Jacqui: I think the biggest challenge of acting in horror films is usually the climate, because there are a lot of night scenes. Most of the time my characters are usually scantily clad, and so I'm running through the woods, you know, like being killed or something in barely nothing. It's freezing. I just shot a movie in Massachusetts, and it was like 40 degrees out, and I was wearing pasties and a thong. I was like: "Oh, God, this is horrible." It's worth it in the end. It's totally worth it.

Sid: … Does it help that you were a genre fan first? Do you feel kind of fulfilled being in the roles you once watched as a fan. 

Jacqui: Totally, totally. I like excitement in my life. I feel like in every horror film you're going to get something exciting. Either I'm going to be killing somebody, or somebody's going to be killing me, but there's a lot of blood and it's just a lot of fun.

(Hear about Jacqui's inspiration from Barbara Stanwyck-star of Double Indemnity and Baby Face and later as the tough matriarch in the Western series The Big Valley-in the full audio interview.)

Sid: Speaking of strong female leads with Barbara Stanwyck, with things like American Mary and to some degree Jennifer's Body, we're seeing some interesting developments for women in horror. The genre seems to be moving to some degree beyond victimization. … We're seeing the quote unquote Final Girl turn the tables more and more and even move into the villainy realm. Do you think it's an interesting time, and do you think there's a female audience that has not been reached with horror?

Jacqui: I do, I actually do think and that's what I want to do with my production company. I want to make horror films that have strong female leads. And so, if it's either the woman being the victim, she's a strong female lead. I also like for women to be the killers. I just got to play a killer in a couple of different movies, and I'll tell you, that was more fun than I've ever had.

Sid: Kind of the dark side?

Jacqui: It kind of scared me. I did this one called Dead Ringer. That was the first time that I've actually I've ever played a psycho, just like a creepy psycho woman, and I was: "Oh my God. I'm really good at this. This kind of scares me."

Sid: Tell me about how your production company came about. We do have an explicit tag on our podcast, so you can name your company. Tell me about Mind Fuk and how it came to be.

Jadqui: (Laughs) Well, the name Mind Fuk, it's spelled F-u-k, so it's nothing too dirty. The idea of it is I want to make films that are really good and thought provoking. Yeah, they've got sex and gore and violence in them, but after you're done, you kind of feel like: "My mind just got screwed up." You're still thinking about it the next day. That's what I really want. That's where the name Mind Fuk came from. The film that I did this past September, Two Faced, where I did play a bit of a sociopath…that film, one of the producers on there, Ken Tayloe, and the AD, Ben Rotast, we formed a little team afterwards.

We're thinking: "We want to keep making these films. This is what we want to do." So we just started building this production company and finding scripts and working with writers. Hopefully in 2014, we'll have a few more movies to add from Mind Fuk.

That includes a zom-com called Walking With the Dead to be filmed in Texas, sort of a funny version of The Walking Dead.

Hear more including Jacqui's thoughts on working with horror icon Tony Todd, Candyman himself, in the full audio interview.

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