Monday, November 11, 2013

The Advocate - A Twisty Script Shores Up an Indy Drama

(I received a free screener of The Advocate.)

The Advocate is a twisty little courtroom thriller with a ripped-from-the headlines case plus a dose of Dexter-style justice in the mix. It's an indy, and there's a look and feel of indyness to it that kind of makes you wish the filmmakers  had had a few more bucks for noir cinematography and production design, but if you focus on the core story, it's intriguing and well wrought.

Ray Shekar (Sachin Mehta) is an attorney whose fiancé was murdered just after he was able to buy their dream house. The loss has left him with a dark sense of justice.

His job may occasionally mean getting guilty offenders off, but he's not inclined to let the worst of the worst get away.

Enter Allyson Dougherty, played by Kristina Klebe of Rob Zombie's Halloween. She's the wife of a wealthy man who may or may not have been pushed off a cruise ship. Shekar's asked to represent her and to defend her if necessary.

It is. There's money involved. She was having an affair.  Ray has a challenge. Marshaling the forces of an assistant, his private investigator and a mock jury, he sets out to preserve Allyson's freedom, even as he wonders about her guilt and his own sense of absolute justice.

Oh, there are some nosey cops following him to keep his life complicated. Seems they're suspicious about Shekar's sleazy ex-client who's nowhere to be found.

As  an acquittal looks iffy, and Shekar allows himself to become enraptured with Allyson, he has tough decisions to make if he's going to be able to convince a jury she's not behind her husband's death. Just stressing that there's no body, doesn't seem to do the trick.

The story is the flick's strongest feature. It features a solidly crafted plot, and it uses Shekar's complex personality and back story to good effect.

Mehta is an interesting lead attorney as well. At times his delivery may seem a little flat, but overall he's a refreshingly atypical lead.

Yes, there's one obvious breech of courtroom procedure for dramatic purposes, but overall, the way the story's put together makes for a passable hour and a half or so, and surprises persist until the credits roll.

Friday, November 08, 2013

A New Fear on Demand Episode featuring fiction and an interview with House of Bad Director Jim Towns

An all new episode of Fear on Demand, Episode 10, is now live and ready for download or listening online. It should be available on iTunes soon as well. It features a bit of flash fiction from Avery Debow, a longtime blog roll friend and author of the novel Resonance. (Read the featured story "Walk of Shame" here.)

It also includes an interview with Jim Towns, co-writer and director of the new film House of Bad, due on DVD and VOD Dec. 3. It's the story of three sisters who rip off a drug dealer and then hide out in an old family home where dark memories lurk. What could go wrong?

It was a real blast to get to chat with Jim, who shares a lot of my interests. He grew up with the Universal Monsters, and he was plagued by some of the same problems I was.

In the day before readily available home video, you read about the flicks and wished you could see them. My local TV station had shown them when I was very young and unappreciative, but by the time I discovered Famous Monsters of Filmland, re-broadcasts were nowhere to be found.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:

Sid: Before we talk about House of Bad, I understand that you were a fan of the Universal Monsters and that they fueled your interest in horror films and monsters early on. What was your first Universal monster film to see, and how old were you when you saw it?

Jim Towns: I think it was the Lugosi Dracula. You know, when home video, VHS came out, I was probably in fifth or sixth grade, something like that. So, even at a younger age, second or third grade or so I got interested in makeup. My uncle Jim McGiffen, had given me a makeup kit because he had done work on stage, and I just had this natural draw toward this kind of monsterific kind of stuff.

So, my mom, because you couldn't really see the films, much before video became more prominent, I was interested in this thing I couldn't see, so my mom had found a couple of books at some flea markets about the old, classic Universal stuff. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera. I read the voraciously over and over. Tried to do all the makeups with little success in most cases.

In fourth or fifth grade, right around Halloween, the Bela Lugosi Dracula from 1931 was on. I think it was on like two in the morning on a Saturday night, some kind of late night horrorfest. My mom let me stay up. I was like nine or something, and I made it through all the stuff in Transylvania, and then once they got back to England, I just passed right out. It took a few years before I saw the rest of the film.

Sid: Very strong lasting impression then. That led ultimately to some mask making and some early horror film work for you?

Jim Towns: Yeah, yeah, you know in high school, my friend, Mike, and I who'd both grown up loving films, old horror movies, loving Star Wars, we did what every young kid who's into monsters does. We got hold of a camera. In our case it was a VHS camera. We made kind of knock off stuff of The Evil Dead and Friday the 13th. The stuff that was going on right then that was really popular.

Then we did a film when we were about 16 called Breakfast at Denny's. It was the only kind of thing we did and finished and actually completed as an actual film. Back then, you started something one afternoon and then you'd lose interest.

Breakfast at Denny's was about a group of kind of wacky cultists who resurrect the one member of the cult who has died. They want to bring him back to life, but he only kind of half comes back, so he's a bit of a zombie.

The idea was that they had to take him to Denny's and get him an egg breakfast to bring him back to a full human state. That was the idea, and it was about a half hour long. We all had such good time, and now I'm doing this. My friend, Grant, who was in the film does films with the American Cinematheque, and Mike is still making films back in Pittsburgh too. I'm writing some stuff for him, so that was sort of the genesis.

Sid: Very cool. Very cool. Could be a nice Denny's ad, huh?

Jim Towns: If they'd want it. One of these days we're going to put it as an extra or an Easter egg on one of the DVDs. It's a little bit of a fun ride.

Hear more of the interview including Jim's thoughts on the importance of understanding the history of the horror genre to todays filmmakers. The full podcast is here

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

House of Bad Coming Soon

I'm inches away from having a new episodeof  Fear on Demand ready. As always episodes will feature horror and suspense audio fiction, and from time to time, I'll now be doing interviews with creative talent from the horror and suspense arena.

Today, I was fortunate to get to talk to Jim Towns who directed House of Bad, a film that blends horror and suspense genre elements.

Here's a trailer from the flick. Follow House of Bad on Twitter @houseofbad for details on release and VOD showings.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...