Good Movies Made By People At Home

8 05 2021

These movies have different comedy to horror ratios. If you can handle “X-Files” episodes, you’ll like these movies.

Murder Death Koreatown: This movie leans hard into its Found Footage premise in that there are no production credits at the end, nor any credits in its IMDB page. What looks like a True Crime story turns to Weird Horror.

The protagonist has been laid off from his job and is producing little video projects on his phone instead of looking for work. The townhouse he shares with his sullen girlfriend has an access street behind. One night there are gunshots. A neighbor shot her husband and instead of running for help, he staggers to die near a set of garages. Our protagonist is puzzled and records his investigation. The investigation does a neat trick in riding the edge between the protag’s dissolution and a realization of a Weird Horror. The filmmaker used elements of his neighborhood: bodegas, graffiti, anonymous storefront businesses, street corner preachers, to hint at otherworldly connections.

On Amazon Prime

Leaving DC: Why don’t White people leave their haunted house? “Leaving DC” comes up with an off-beat, elegant answer.

The protagonist is a tech engineer moving from Washington DC to a rather nice house in the West Virginia mountains. Ghostly stuff happens, etc. The man’s money is tied up in the house, but that reason to stay always came up short in other movies. Why doesn’t he leave? *Because he is chronically compulsive*. We first meet him in DC with his OCD Therapy group. We watch him move into his spotless house devoid of personal affects. We watch him crater his relations with a visitor, who then leaves because his house creeps her out. Does he leave? No, he will not be bullied. He will understand what is happening by buying cameras and microphones and scrutinizing the late night flute playing, the apparitions, and the Mysterious Signs In The Woods. Then he will formulate a detailed action plan. The end is inevitable, but like I said, elegant.

On Amazon Prime.

Creep: Movies with tiny casts work if the cast is compelling. This movie’s co-writer and lead Mark Duplass radiates charm.

When his character hires a videographer to come to his remote house and record sentimental messages, you pay attention. Mark’s character reveals traumas, only to admit he lied. He takes menacing objects and gives them absurd histories. The videographer is pulled between getting paid, politeness, and fleeing Mark’s increasing menace.

On Netflix along with its sequel Creep 2.

I guess I like these stories because they are efficient. As writers we are taught to write characters who are flawed with a recent tragedy highlighting those flaws. (Note that Duplass subverts this expectation by implying then denying any tragic backstory, which frustrates and adds to the unease). Writers are told to keep the motivations simple and relatable. Last, stories are to be economic in word and action.

A common criticism in the Amazon comments is that these movies lack strong endings. That makes sense, because none of the characters are given resources for a satisfying character transformation. “Murder Death Koreatown” and “Leaving DC” remains committed to their goals to their unfortunate endings. The time constraints keep the writer from introducing a secondary plot to give impetus to transformation. Changing their minds and fleeing would also bump up their budgets. That said, the videographer in “Creep” does flee and his arc is the more satisfying for it.

Or maybe I’m wrong. The movie “The VVitch” was shot with a cabin, a farm, and a bonfire. The parents each had a heartbreaking transformation. Certainly that movie was great and had few resources, but then it comes back around to character portrayals.

Strong character voice and motive. I’d been fixated on compelling images, but I need to work on characters more.

PS: Happy Birthday, Me!





Writers: For Amazon and Goodreads Reviews…

13 10 2018

Reviewing on amazon





Stuck with Your Story? Why You Keep Hitting Walls and Dead Ends in Your Writing — A Writer’s Path

27 08 2018

by Lauren Sapala For the longest time I had major problems doing revisions on my writing. It seemed so easy for everyone else. Why was it so hard for me? Of course, I also had trouble writing. I hardly ever experienced that state of “effortless flow” everyone talked about, in which the words […]

via Stuck with Your Story? Why You Keep Hitting Walls and Dead Ends in Your Writing — A Writer’s Path





New Fave: “Spooked” by NPR

25 08 2018

spooked

How does a story seem “real”?

How can you tell if a story is “true”?

Part of it is the structure. If someone tells a story that they swear is true, yet that story has three-beat escalation and a clean conclusion straight out of “Save The Cat”, then I’d say that someone is embellishing. Fiction has to have a pattern for it to engage our emotions. Real Life is messy, confusing, and often has conclusions or realizations decades after key events.

This is a podcast called “Spooked”. People have contacted the producers with their experiences of the supernatural. There is some great stuff here. Some stories are obvious BS (“Time Warp Saloon” in the ep “Lost In Time”). Others have been embellished (Tale One of “Creepy Crawly”). But others have that off-key clang of truth that gets your imagination moving. Try “The Iron Gate”, the second story of “Creepy Crawly”, or any of “Borderlands”. Really, try any of these episodes and get your creep on.





Deadpool Is More Edgy Than You Think. Your Writing May Benefit….

24 05 2018

 

 

 

deadpool

Does Deadpool want to be transgressive? Or does Deadpool just want a white picket fence with a beautiful breeder wife and family? Or does he want to do whatever’s funny at the time?

This article from The Guardian wonders.

Contrast it with this article from Film Hulk about creating emotional resonance.

Can Deadpool have depth? Can any horror comedy? For such questions, I make comparisons to “Shawn of the Dead”. Surely Shawn of the Dead was evocative and memorable.

But had Shawn of the Dead wanted to be a franchise like Deadpool, I could see only two options. It would have to put off Shawn’s maturing, which would have made Shawn a glib punchline like Ash from “Evil Dead”. Or each sequel would have to be a new life lesson where the character is changed, which could reduce DP’s zany energy to “The Addams Family”.

All of the movies are horror comedy, sure. But I worry that DP is going to burn out quickly cycling through cartoon shocks, like ED did. I like that DP tests boundaries, not only in breaking the fourth wall and its casual inclusiveness. What other superhero is enthusiastic about having children? What other hero fails with such spectacular realism? What hero isn’t a millionaire living in a mansion?

The DC Universe is gritty. Do you care about it? I have a hard time caring, because the heroes seem to care about so little. Is DCU’s grittiness realistic? Not when Superman destroys whole cities without carnage or remorse.

The only thing DP lacked was Negasonic and Yukio bickering. You know, the thing we never see superhero couples doing, especially teens:

Negasonic: “Just swing the chain.” Yukio: “But you like my Gogo Yubari kick!.” N: “We don’t have time!” Y: “You took like a year to power up!”

The Film Crit Hulk and Deadpool have given me a lot to think about.

  1. Back story creates empathy.
  2. Relationships must evolve.
  3. “Grittiness” is not the same as “realism”.

 





First Draft Done, What I Have Learned, and Publishing Coaches

30 11 2017

This will be  my usual post about writing, terse yet rambling, with some sundry crits at the end of movies and writers who have caught my brain.

doggo

So! Finished with draft one of Lampreyhead at 25K words. The world building was fun. The story is set in contemporary Philadelphia because I know the Northeast US well. Religious aspects appeared, were inevitable really, which added a whole new layer to the characters and conflict. The jokes are good. There may be one darling, but we’ll see if it survives (the “moist” joke I posted on my FB three weeks ago.)

How did I write the draft and what did I learn? I did a bit of an outline, but it was way too spare. I discovered a good way to outline a few weeks ago, but I also discovered that very few writers enjoy writing outlines or synopsis.  New method for outlining is like the Snowflake Method of writing novels: one line summary of each chapter, then add three lines to each summary, then add three more lines to each of those lines, etc. I’ll try to do that next time.

So, with what I thought was an adequate outline, I used Rachel Aaron’s method of speed writing, so I wrote the fun scenes first and backfilled the remainder of the plot. Writing the filler was not only a bit tedious, it exposed the gaps in my outline. Writing the draft took longer than it needed to, but this is how we learn.

I had a tough time getting a grip on the protagonist. I had behavior for scenes, I had previous short stories, but I didn’t have a deeper character profile that could support this work.

I kept his nerdiness and built around that. I considered that LH was 700 years old and that he would be a little bored. Being made Evil, he knew there is a God because religious items caused injury. However, I had him go 700 years without knowing who made him or why. His problem became the reverse of Mortality: is there a Satan to justify his existence?

Supporting characters fulfilled their functions, but they need more depth in the second draft. He meets the werewolf who will be a recurring character in the series, but the were doesn’t have a lot of agency. The Mortal in this story (needed to help bring out the supernatural world-building) became a sophisticated businesswoman thrill-seeker; can I pull off this complicated character?

I was hoping to market this series as “Erotic Paranormal”, but I have no experience in writing erotica. Besides, the plot only has one valid erotic scene. I’m now looking at the humor market.

I have to finish the second draft for my writers group, that deadline being Sunday.

I learned about Publishing Coaches on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. My research has provided a couple of names and I will be contacting them tonight.

Recent discoveries: the movie “The Devil’s Candy” is a pleasant throwback haunted house horror that’s well made. “The Midnight Meat Train” squandered a great production on a weak Clive Barker story. “Cult of Chucky” still camps it up, but keep an eye on Fionna Dorrif, because she is excellent. Belgian horror “Raw” takes your unsettling French moodiness to a college for veteranarians, but worry not, the animals are safe from the cannibal sisters. “Demonic” takes ghost hunters to a haunted house, but even Maria Bello can’t save us from a flat ending.

 





Learn Writing From Wince Inducing Comments About “Blade Runner 2045”

9 10 2017

There is nothing wrong with loving without qualification. It opens your heart, lowers blood pressure, extends endocrine life, whatever. As I seem to be a wet blanket with in rare exceptions, I rarely have that rosy glow of fan-a-vision to distract me from a media’s problems.

How do we know that rosy glow of fan-a-vision is blocking our critical eye? Have you used these phrases?

“It was fantastic for the first two parts, but fell apart in the last third.” The last third of anything falls apart because of the first two parts. A resolution falls apart because the conflict had flaws. In Blade Runner 2045 (BR2045), the world was so complicated it stumbled over itself.

SPOILERS ON

Let’s work backwards: The MacGuffin chick was going to procreate and lead the Replicants…with a immune system that makes skin-to-skin contact impossible. Deckard’s body wasn’t going to be found…in a world where a drone can locate a box buried 30 feet. Quasi-Rachel had the wrong color eyes…after Jared Leto could have double-checked her DNA off the original’s skull. There’s more, but I’m bored.

SPOILERS OFF

You’ll note that none of these details had direct bearing on the plot. The immunity, the location technology, the skull, were all details which could have easily been fixed. But the plot was so damn complicated, the details tripped up the cohesion. One can overlook a few sparkles, but in a 2 hour 40 minute film, the sparkles become a haze.

“The artistry of (actor/director/whoever artist) stood out.” In a work of art, nothing is supposed to be a darling. The previous comment was applied to Jared Leto’s villain. Jared Leto did a great creepy job. He was a great creep. He had to be exceedingly, noticably creepy, because the script gave him absolutely nothing else to do but sit and be creepy. In the first BR, the genius scientist played chess, day-traded stocks, explained genetics, and was understated in creepiness. (In real life, company CEOs are dynamic and involved with their corporation.) Here in BR2045, Jared Leto had nothing to do except two acts of ewww, forcing the director to have Leto overact. Again, a weak script.

“Such a beautiful movie!” How much money was spent on this movie? It better damn well be pretty. Again, dazzling doesn’t help a weak script.

You know how you’re not supposed to let your darlings in, no matter how pretty? The Rachel’s Eye scene could have been a flat-out rejection of artifice instead of eye-color. The Zen CEO could have been deleted and the heavy lifting given to his henchwoman. McGuffin Chick could have been healthy.

All of those fixes would have smoothed out the wrinkles in the plot. But man, their scenes sure were pretty, SFX laden set-pieces.

I’m guessing this movie will fare better than Prometheus in movie history. But not by much.

Use darlings sparingly and avoid screwed up plots.

 

 

 

 

 





“Paperbacks From Hell”: A Really Fun Writer Takes on ’70s/’80s Pulp Horror

25 09 2017

Are you a child of the 1970s and/or 1980s? Did you grow up sneak-watching slasher flicks like The Slumber Party Massacre and Silent Night, Deadly Night while your parents slept? Were you the kind of kid who felt there was only one holiday worth celebrating, and that was Halloween? Was Elvira your number one crush? If you answered yes […]

via Book Review: Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books) — CULT FACTION





Colonel Sanders and the Demonic Lover

1 06 2017

I love the conjunction of genres and the taming of monsters that occurs in paranormal romance, and much of OGOM’s research centres on this. The demon lovers of paranormal romance range from vampires (of course), through faeries, angels, and werewolves; the odder candidates include mermen, gargoyles, and even ghosts and zombies. But the monstrous lover…

via Colonel Sanders and the Demonic Lover — Open Graves, Open Minds





Horror Movies With Dark Endings

29 04 2017

What separates a good horror movie from a great one is the ending. Some horror films just don’t know when or how to end. But when a horror flick gets the ending right, then you have something really special. And by “right,” I mean dark and/or disturbing. But be warned: … Read More… The post…

via Horror Movies with Dark F*ucking Endings!! — AnythingHorror.com








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