Film

Hot Summer Nights: A flashy film with loads of darkness

Full disclosure: I’ll watch Timothee Chalamet in anything. I will watch him drink coffee while reading the newspaper and be enthralled. When his newest film, Hot Summer Nights (out in limited release today), got mixed reviews, did I care? Nope. I was going to see this movie, even if it was filmed before Call Me By Your Name, so the guy looks about twelve.

Hot Summer Nights is the directorial debut of Elijah Bynum. He wrote the screenplay, too, and even based it on two guys he knew from college. Well, the guys he knew were more like legends—as are the characters in Hot Summer Nights. Narrated by a thirteen-year-old observer, it’s the story of Daniel and Hunter: two mismatched teenage boys who pretty much rule a drug empire in Cape Cod for a single summer before things go totally to shit.

From the first fast-paced opening minutes, rife with over-the-top dialogue and rapid scene changes, I was hooked. Hot Summer Nights takes place in ’91, so all that music, those clothes, that hair? Oh, I remember. It was like time traveling in my chair.

As Daniel, Timothee is the perfect ambitious nerd, while Hunter (played by yum-yum Alex Roe) is his brutal, cool-guy foil. The love story between Daniel and local sex goddess McKayla is a thing of little boy fantasies, especially a certain scene involving a lollipop.

About halfway through, with Hurricane Bob inching ever closer to Cape Cod, you feel the literal and metaphorical storm coming. The shift in tone is jarring, to be frank. Bynum goes from playful bathroom make out scenes to a sense of impending doom—but, in his defense, he set it up from the beginning, all via the character of Daniel.

Bynum said he cast a very, very young Timothee Chalamet as this character because he has a boyish quality but also a certain amount of darkness. Yeah, dude, spot on.

There’s a scene pretty early in Hot Summer Nights where Hunter beats the crap out of a dude in front of Daniel, and Daniel sort of smiles about it. He’s set up as a bit of a psychopath from the get go, so when the movie takes a twisted turn, it’s not surprising if you’ve been paying attention.

loli

Honestly? Daniel is not a good guy. He selfishly lies to the two people he loves the most and makes horrible life choices—not for money or fame but for the thrill. When everything goes haywire with a literal hurricane in the background, it is not a shock. It’s sad, sure, because lives are ruined, but maybe Daniel and Hunter had this coming?

I understand why some reviewers are tearing the movie apart, because it is strange and almost a little silly. But when you consider the whole thing is told from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old boy, watching from the sidelines, every moment should feel epic and ridiculous. Yet there’s this huge amount of horror that creeps up like a monster in the night, especially a scene involving cocaine and Timothee in a trucker hat (an unexpected new fetish of mine).

Hot Summer Nights is and isn’t what you expect. It is a fast-paced summer movie about drugs, sex, and parties, but it’s also a violent drama about the end of innocence and youth. The lead players—both the boys and romantic interest Maika Monroe—are strong young actors, and there are definite glimpses of “Academy Award Nominee Timothee Chalamet.”

My advice? Get high and watch it. I mean, it’s a movie about weed. Smoke a little reefer and laugh at Daniel’s early shenanigans. Here’s hoping you mellow out by the time the storm arrives, because hell, by the end of the movie, it seriously arrives.

party

Film

Dear Mr. Chalamet: When I was 22 …

I wasn’t going to say anything, but … I’ve been cheating on Benedict Cumberbatch with a 22-year-old since January. THE SHAME! And, seriously, I wasn’t going to say anything, but there’s been an abundance of irrationality surrounding said 22-year-old recently, and I can’t keep my mouth shut.

If you’ve seen Call Me By Your Name (or paid attention at all to the previous award season), you know the name Timothee Chalamet. No? Well, here he is:

He’s freaking beautiful, okay? And intelligent and endearingly awkward in interviews and extremely talented. He speaks FRENCH, for Christ’s sake. He was at the Oscars for Best Actor, the youngest nominee in that category in almost eighty years. Ever since watching him play precocious Elio in Call Me By Your Name, I’ve been a fan, which is easy considering he’s active on social media: a universe where Benedict is noticeably absent.

Due to Timothee’s social media activity, we fans know things. Since we’re all obsessed—men and women of all ages alike—we play detective and figure things out. The paparazzi have been annoyingly helpful, too. Thanks to them (and Timothee’s Instagram), we know the following:

  1. He partied hard at Coachella.
  2. He’s been hanging out with rock stars like The Weeknd and Nicki Minaj.
  3. He was recently spotted making out with a blonde chick in France.

I applaud the guy. I mean, shit, he just lived through award season, winning thirty-three big trophies for his role as Elio. He wore designer suits and walked every red carpet and smiled and smiled and shook hands and … I’m exhausted just thinking about it. He deserves to take a few months off to party, because—lest we forget—Chalamet is twenty-two.

Instagram capture of Timothee from The Weeknd’s party palace at Coachella.

Some fans have responded harshly, worrying about what drugs he might be doing, the sex he might be having. Worrying that he’s going to trip and hurt himself. People are screaming, “He must be protected!” Right. Okay. Time travel with me, would you?

When I was twenty-two, I was still in college. I was consistently getting drunk and dancing with strangers in bars. I didn’t have a job lined up after graduation. I slept until I literally had to go to class and did laundry once a month maybe. I lived on pizza and beer. One night, my girlfriends and I even had a contest to see who could kiss the most dudes in one night. I won with seven.

Some fans have seemingly forgotten what it was like to be a freaking kid. Granted, Timothee is an Oscar-nominated kid who might get another nod this year for his role in Beautiful Boy, but he’s still a child. (A sexy adult child, but you know what I mean.)

People—media included—need to cut him some slack. We’ve seen it happen a million times before: young actors getting all messed up and ending up in rehab by thirty. Do I want this sob story for Timothee? No. But maybe part of the reason young stars end up screwy is because they never get a chance to be kids and just have fun. They don’t deserve the pressure of being held to a higher standard. They’re just growing up, going through the same motions as all of us.

As Timothee has said in interviews, the male brain doesn’t fully develop until twenty-five, but young stars are under intense scrutiny, which I imagine is terrifying. God, I shudder to think what my life would be like if I’d had cameras pointed at me in college! I’d probably be in jail.

Should young stars be expected to hide in their homes, spending their nights reading philosophy while avidly not enjoying a cocktail? Hell, no. My advice to Timothee Chalamet: have fun, man! When you’re not working, party with cool people and experience life. Get laid! Get drunk! Post ridiculous dancing videos on Instagram. You might be alarmingly successful right now, but work hard, play hard.

I feel so blessed for the life I’ve led, experiencing fully every age. When I was twenty-two, I lived it up. (I still live it up.) I hate to see anyone forced to grow up too fast. It’s important to enjoy being young. Enjoy being thirty. Enjoy being forty! You get the idea. So everyone just chill and let Tim be Tim. (I still love you, Benedict.)

Film · Mental Health · writers life · Writing

I watch horror movies when I’m sad

There’s something so soothing about cannibalism. While recently watching the brilliant French film Raw, I totally spaced out on bloody images of a nice girl chewing on human flesh. With the addition of a well-mixed Cosmopolitan (it’s not a during-dinner movie), I put my kicks up and relaxed. Something I’ve done very little of lately.

As a writer, we all have bad days. I’ve had a bad month. Granted, I have so far spent much of 2018 creating. By end of March, I was burnt out. I thought going to Florida for the annual Bite Somebody Pilgrimage might help. A week spent doing nothing while sitting on the beach only made things worse because it made me notice how happy I felt not producing.

Currently, I stew in a state of discontent. Life feels slightly off, like a glitch in the matrix. I’ve even had trouble reading, comparing myself to every author and feeling like I’ll never stack up. I have yet to bang my head against a desk, but I’m close. At least if I’m unconscious, I won’t obsess over all the work I’m not doing.

Jake was out of town two weekends ago. Our empty, old house reminded me how much I love scary things—which was when I remembered a friend had suggested Raw. I paid a visit to old favorites, too, like Woman in Black, Neon Demon, and Poltergeist. I turned my back on my usual genres and started reading Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. (True, I took a fluffy break to watch Alexander Skarsgard play Tarzan, but well, who doesn’t want to watch that?)

As close friends know, I watch Rocky Horror Picture Show when I’m really depressed. Something about being trapped in a spooky castle surrounded by spooky people during a champagne sex party really brightens my mood. When I speak about mental illness, I often mention my love of horror films: “No matter how bad things are, at least I’m not being chased by an ax murderer.” True—and probably why I’ve been fully immersed in the horror genre for weeks.

I’m struggling. I’m semi-drowning. A perpetual state of discontent is not a good state. My mom calls my writing a “gift.” My devotional this morning pretty much said the same. I am happiest when I’m writing, so why am I avoiding my favorite thing at all costs?

True, the “business” gets exhausting. The constant promoting and selling and pitching and rewriting and … ARG! I gave a presentation recently about “The Write Life,” and I explained to my audience that actually sitting down and writing—creating—is a surprisingly small part of the writer’s job. The birth of something, its initial inception (that blessed first draft) is the best part of the gig and, arguably, the smallest.

Which makes me want to watch every Halloween movie ever made and drink a dozen martinis.

I’m tired. I’m disgustingly discontented—and yet blessed because I have so many new releases in the coming year that are going to be amazing. Despite all the good stuff, it’s human nature to gravitate toward how messed up we’re feeling. Which I think is okay, really, as long as we don’t fixate on how messed up we’re feeling.

Dunno, guys. If I don’t feel the itch to create something new soon, I’m going to go right mad. I relate most to Mary Shaw in Dead Silence. I don’t like kids, and I already have the dolls.

Bite Somebody · Film

Call Me By Your Name: A Powerful Writing Lesson

As I write the Bite Somebody screenplay, I’m constantly doing “research.” Recently, my research included seeing Oscar-nominated film Call Me By Your Name and then reading the book.

Mind, blown.

If you don’t know, Call Me By Your Name (nominated for Best Picture) is the  story of Elio and Oliver, two young men who fall in love over the course of a summer in 1980s Italy. Elio is seventeen; Oliver is twenty-four. In the film version, Elio is played by Timothee Chalamet (at 22, the youngest Best Actor nominee since 1944). Oliver is played by Armie Hammer.

The movie messed me up in a good way. Watching it is a visceral, emotional experience … although it was semi-awkward watching CMBYN in the theater, surrounded by middle-aged heterosexual couples. Chalamet and Hammer do not hold back in the sensuality department. In fact, despite its lack of nudity, CMBYN is possibly the sexiest movie I’ve ever seen.

The book, written by Andre Aciman, was so much darker and more disturbing. I chalk this up to the power of movie magic. In the book, we are in Elio’s head the whole time. We are there as his infatuation with Oliver grows. We are there for his eventual heartbreak. We are present for both emotions in the film version, as well, but the book takes it to another level because we don’t hear Elio’s thoughts in the film; we see only his actions.

What an excellent reminder for me as I wrestle with the Bite Somebody screenplay. My novel is all from Celia’s perspective, so—like Elio—we’re with her through every moment of self-doubt. In the screenplay, I have little more than dialogue to work with. I am forced to simplify, as was CMBYN screenwriter James Ivory (nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay).

Simplify, simplify is exactly what occurs when Ivory translates the book into film, which worked wonderfully. Ivory cuts characters and lengthy scenes, and it’s his artistic decisions that (for me) make the movie so much stronger. Yet, he also managed to make some characters more important (like Elio’s parents and Marzia) with resounding success.

And the dialogue? Bless me, baby Jesus, I can’t even … Astounding! There’s one scene in particular in which Elio and Oliver circle a fountain and Elio tells Oliver he’s a virgin but literally never says anything about virginity. For real, I can’t even. Watch:

Don’t get me wrong, Aciman is an outstanding author. I’d like to slurp some of his sentences with a spoon. And yet, the film … Young Timothee Chalamet is a marvel as Elio. Rarely have I fallen in love with a character so quickly. He and Armie Hammer have sizzling chemistry, even as they navigate messy kisses and boyish wrestling. The two actors (both heterosexual BTW) grew very close in real life over the course of filming, and it shows.

Elio is just more likeable in the film—sweeter, softer—and although, yes, he does have sex with a peach, Ivory cut some of the more unsavory scenes from the book. Scenes so disturbing that I cringed. The most disturbing thing about the movie was that Hammer is so much bigger than Chalamet. I worried the cute, little guy might get hurt.

Chalamet: ” a skinny, little nugget.”

Ivory also chose the perfect place to end the movie, and well, SPOILER!!!! (Skip the next paragraph if you’re worried.)

In the book, we jump forward in time and watch Elio age and never get over Oliver. In the film, Elio and Oliver say goodbye when Elio is just seventeen. Sure, the final movie scene is just … sob … but there’s a glimmer of hope that Elio will someday have another great love. Maybe he’ll even meet up with Oliver again. We don’t know what will happen, and I love the openness of the film’s conclusion. It doesn’t feel as definite as the book. It’s not so damn tragic.

Seeing Call Me By Your Name and reading the novel was fun, albeit emotionally daunting. What an amazing learning tool on so many levels. For one, I usually believe books are better than film versions. Wrong in this case. I also witnessed what sorts of things to streamline in a screenplay and even what moments make a character likable. I owe a lot to both James Ivory and Andre Aciman for their unique brilliance. This movie deserves awards, and what an inspiration for a fledgling screenwriter!

Film

You gotta see IT on the big screen

When a child’s arm gets bitten off early in a movie, you need to be prepared. Granted, in horror films, the opening sequence can be the most terrifying (see Jaws). In the case of the modern IT revamp, nope, things just get progressively worse.

We all know the Stephen King story: a bunch of loser kids in the 80s are terrorized by a weird clown. Something is wrong with the sewers, and their lives are haunted forever.

Although the original miniseries was pretty dang good, the movie surpasses it in fear factor. This is probably due to the cutting edge special effects. It’s also due, largely, to the style. The creators of this film utilized slow build suspense that escalated and escalated. (There’s a particular scene in a library basement that had me crying inside.) The technique of slow build was what made each and every moment so horrific and unforgettable.

Of course, I have to talk about Pennywise. I watched Bill Skarsgard in Hemlock Grove and despite some pretty despicable behaviors on that show, I still fell for the guy. He’s hot, okay? But here’s how things went while watching IT …

Prior to IT: Oh, hey, Bill. Mm, yeah, can’t wait to see you on big screen, baby.

At the beginning of IT: You’re pretty scary, but I can still see that sexy mouth.

Halfway through IT: Oh, but, Bill, you … uh … no! Bill, no, you … But …

Toward the end of IT: BILL, I NEVER WANT TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN, YOU MONSTER!

I am seriously not one to overlook the brilliance of original Pennywise, Tim Curry, but the handsome Mr. Skarsgard has stolen the trophy for most effed-up clown of all time. Apparently the director kept Bill away from the kids during filming so they wouldn’t get friendly. The kids didn’t even see Bill as Pennywise until they were all in a scene together, so their terror is real.

Speaking of great acting, the little kids were perfect, including one troublemaker from Stranger Things. The writer gave each character interesting back stories, although evidently parents are all totally evil. Young actress Sophia Lillis really stole the show as the only female lead. Comedy was interspersed throughout, but even the moments of levity couldn’t compare to the bone-shaking horror.

IT is a film that should be viewed on the big screen, even if you do have to hide behind your hands half the time. It’s as beautiful as it is gross. Sitting next to my husband, trying not to choke on my Sour Patch Kids, I was frankly too scared to scream. I just sat there, clawing his forearm for two and a half hours.

How did IT end? Ha, I’m not going to tell you that. We’ve all been making fun of the miniseries ending for decades, but I will say this: I’m happy with the conclusion. I mean, I didn’t sleep at all the night after we saw the movie and I won’t go in my basement anymore, but, you know, totally worth it.

Film

Dunkirk is the last war movie I will ever see

Jake made a compelling argument. Not only was Dunkirk killing it on Rotten Tomatoes, but it was a Christopher Nolan movie. I’ve been in love with Nolan films since Memento. Yes, Dunkirk was a war movie, and I generally avoid war movies. But Jake said, “It’s rated PG-13. It can’t be that bad!” Plus, two of the stars were Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, and I want to have a hundred of Cillian Murphy’s babies (metaphorically).

Saturday, I agreed to spend a rainy afternoon watching a critically acclaimed war movie from one of my favorite directors starring a two men who take my breath away. Sure, why not?

Oh, what a mistake.

I was okay for a while. Sitting in the darkened theater, eating my popcorn, I didn’t start freaking out until about halfway through. There was a very claustrophobic scene involving a bunch of young men trapped underwater, and I lost my shit. I think I hid it well. I cried silently and covered my eyes. Nobody noticed the woman falling apart at the Willoughby Regal Cinema.

It got worse. Popcorn forgotten, I watched the rest of the movie while hiding behind my hands. Then, things escalated. Following an abrupt ending, the credits rolled. Jake, eyes alight with Nolan’s brilliance, turned to ask, “What did you think?”

I started sobbing. I hate crying in public. Hate it. Jake grabbed my hand and guided me back to the parking lot. I hid behind my sunglasses. Once in the passenger seat, in the privacy of my own car, I really let go until I was a sniveling, hiccuping mess. I said it over and over: “I can’t do war movies. I just can’t. I can’t.”

Saturday was destroyed. No matter that we went shopping and ate wings at my favorite dive bar, I was still trapped underwater, struggling for breath. I drank enough beer to surface, but I still feel Dunkirk today and its lingering effects. I woke up sad.

I recently read a brilliant novella by Em Shotwell called “Forget Me Not” that really messed me up. In a good way. Follow me on this.

One of the lead characters in “Forget Me Not,” Rex, has the ability to never forget anything. When he’s sent off to Vietnam, it’s horrible because every death, every terror, is burned onto his brain. The horror of war is with him forever. In “Forget Me Not,” watching a lovable character crash and burn is painful. Watching what war does to a beautiful, innocent man like Rex made me want to curl into a little ball.

Shotwell does an excellent job of bringing Rex back from the edge, but many soldiers aren’t so lucky. As is the case in Dunkirk, many soldiers don’t even come home. Many of the ones who did (see Cillian Murphy’s character), came back totally messed up.

Nolan did a brilliant job in Dunkirk of using the minimum dialogue to address huge issues. For example, Cillian Murphy’s character, who escaped what we presume was a sunken battleship, won’t go below deck on the ship that rescues him. Shell shock forces him to sit outside, covering his ears. Much of the communication between actors is done through eye contact and nothing more. The cinematography makes me suspect Nolan is actually a wizard, because how else did he get some of those shots? The score is like a constant time bomb, ticking away as one young man after another is killed. (Tick-tock-tick …)

Dunkirk was a fantastic movie, and it’s the last war movie I will ever see because I can’t do this to myself anymore. There were beautiful moments of hope, bravery, and friendship, but those moments weren’t enough to make me feel glad I spent my Saturday afternoon crying.

Jake made a good point: it’s important to know history, especially for younger generations. My counter argument: an internet search won’t have such long-lasting effects on me. Like Rex in “Forget Me Not,” flashes of the film still scream through my head. I still see the dead bodies and the wild, panicked look in Cillian Murphy’s eyes. (I joked with my mom this morning that if my beloved Benedict Cumberbatch had played the same role, I would probably still be crying. Like, forever.)

I don’t understand war. I know it must be fought, but I don’t understand how young men can so easily kill other young men just because some general tells them to. Dunkirk portrayed how quickly we turn on each other in the name of survival. It showed the honor of battle but also its fruitlessness. The movie busted a bigger hole in my chest: a hole that’s been growing for years the more I watch the news. Dunkirk was brilliant, but I know when enough is enough. I wish I could say the same about the world.

Bite Somebody · Bite Somebody Else · Book Review · Entertainment in CLE · Film · Modeling · Ohio · Publishing · Sara Dobie Bauer · Wolf Among Sheep · Writing

Vampires, movie magic, and best books: 2016 in review

Every December, I do inventory of what the hell happened over the course of the previous twelve months. As you may have noticed, 2016 was (by far) the most chaotic and successful of my life … which might be why I refuse to get dressed today. In fact, you’re lucky I’m even sitting upright. In homage to a year of utter, beautiful insanity, I offer you a look back.

1. BITE SOMEBODY

bitesomebody_final

Dreams do come true. After years of angst, in June, my first published novel was released into the innocent, unsuspecting world. Bite Somebody–a ridiculous paranormal romantic comedy about an awkward vampire, her sexy human surfer boy, and a psychotic blood-sucking best friend–found fans the world over. I hosted two massively successful (and anxiety-inducing) launch parties and attended my first conventions as an author. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, click HERE, because as you may have heard, the sequel, Bite Somebody Else, comes out in 2017. The rodeo is far from over, folks. With all the upcoming promo and additional events, let’s just hope I don’t start looking rode hard and put away wet.

2. DECENT PEOPLE

decent

Once upon a time, I was an actress, so when my high school buddy asked me to be in a movie, I agreed. I had an absolute blast making Decent People, but I had no idea how hard it is to make a full-length film. (You can read all about it HERE.) Despite the laughs and new friends made, I walked away from the experience with bronchitis, laryngitis, and a phobia of having to smoke on screen ever again. (The reality just isn’t as sexy as it looks.) The film should be released in spring or summer of 2017. Since I refused to watch the dailies, I’ll surely watch the film from between my fingers, but I’m so glad I got the opportunity to slip back into my acting shoes–and have a damn good time playing a bitch in the process.

3. MODELING

modeling2016

Moving to Ohio from Phoenix (where I had a full, colorful cast of photographer friends), I wasn’t sure how much modeling I would do in my new state. Surprise! About a ton. Thanks to networking, I’ve gotten to shoot in a famous cemetery, in a creepy church basement, and yes, in my underwear. I even got to do a runway show in Cleveland. As always, I encourage everyone to do a photo shoot at least once. You won’t believe what you look like on camera, and when you’re old and crinkly, you’ll be amazed at how beautiful you are and always have been. (Above photos thanks to Bill Thornhill, Devon Adams, Steph Gentry, and Dennis Mong.)

4. SHORT STORIES

Other than Bite Somebody, what else got thrown into the world this year?

Wolf Among Sheep (Hot Ink Press)
“I was not at all prepared for what I deduce you proposed yesterday,” he says. I just adore that strange accent, so much like my husband’s: a mismatch of places and times, trapped somewhere between New York and the low south—musical yet clipped and precise.
“What exactly do you deduce we proposed?” I ask.
“That I enter into a sexual relationship with a married couple.”
I laugh; people around us turn to stare. I take Timothy’s hand. “Well. Perhaps these Americans aren’t quite as close-minded as I thought.”

I Hate Myself for Loving You (Lunch Ticket Magazine)
Timmy shoves him over and joins him in the dirt. He thumps Jason in the side of the face. I think I should tell them to stop—scream it even. Instead, coward that I am, my boys keep going until they see blood. Then, they fall back. They yell about catching Jason’s “gay disease,” named by some mad scientists a couple years back in ‘82. My best friends drag me away.
Jason rolls onto his side in the dirt and wipes at the split skin below his right eye. He doesn’t look up at me, but I keep watching as we hurry from the scene of the crime. I keep watching Jason and think I’d like to wipe his blood all over me.

The Saguaro Apocalypse (Stoneslide Corrective “Striking Use of Wit” Winner)
I opened the door. At first I thought it was some really tall, skinny dude with short arms.
Then, I realized it was a saguaro cactus. Must have been a young one, since its limbs were only about two feet long and pin wheeling in my face. I had the momentary thought: What the hell was in that weed? The cactus kept brandishing its T-Rex arms at me.
“Thomas?”
“What now?” I heard the shuffling of his sock-clad feet.
By the time Thomas reached me, the cactus was banging its rounded top against the doorframe; guess it couldn’t figure how to duck.

You’re Glowing (Omnia Veritas Review)
I haven’t had sex in two years. This unfortunate situation could be ignored except men have started glowing. The doorman outside my apartment glows dark blue, like his nicely tailored suits. I shudder beneath his smile and barely acknowledge his mannerly door holding.
The cop on the corner near the elementary school, he glows green. I don’t know if he’s supposed to, but he always holds up his orange “Don’t Walk” sign when I pass his crosswalk. He winks at me every day, which makes my forehead sweat.
The guy who makes my morning coffee glows pink. I hate the color pink, but I don’t hold it against him. He’s always nice to me. He tells me I smell good. I’m probably old enough to be his mother.

Forget Me Do (Red Rose Review)
Her friends called her a witch. It was only a joke. Whenever one of the girls posted on Facebook that she felt a cold coming on, Debra was on the road with her herbal tea mixtures and tinctures. Then, miraculously, within days, her girlfriends would be completely healed and winning track meets. That was why they called her a witch. That and, well …
“You just made out with Stan in the back of his dad’s car.”
“I hate when you do that,” Rebecca said.
Debra couldn’t help knowing things.

If It Ain’t Broke (Marked by Scorn Anthology)
“This thing for Henry Oliver … You’ve got it under control, right?”
“Of course. I’d never do anything about it.”
“You are kind of touchy-feely with the kid.”
Nate slowly turned his mug on the sticky, wooden table. “God, am I?”
Ella shrugged one shoulder. “A little. I think it’s cute, but other people might not.”

Ghosts of Ice Cream (Bop Dead City)
My fingers rest like a sleeping spider against his collarbone. I breathe the scent of him: salty sweat with an undercurrent of men’s cologne, leftover from his day at the office. He take small inhales, exhales, and hums a little when my fingers touch his throat.
And then I hear it: the ice cream truck. I finally recognize the song: an off-key, off-tempo version of “Beyond the Sea” that comes to me like screams through water. It was our wedding song. I shiver and pull closer to Michael, who falls apart, a pile of ash in my hands.

Sick Like Me (Honeydew Erotic Review)
“What kind of help do you need exactly?”
Evan shrugged. He played with the strap on his motorcycle helmet. He had long, skeletal fingers with squeaky-clean nails. He chewed on his bottom lip. “You think I’m attractive.”
“I’m sure a lot of people think you’re attractive.”
Evan shook his head. “I’m not talking about them.”
Cam sighed. “You’re making this too easy.”

5. BOOKS READ: 58!!

bestbooks2016

Best of the best:
The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Wreck You by Randi Perrin
The Train Derails in Boston by Jessica McHugh
Captive Prince Trilogy by CS Pacat

6. COMING IN 2017

Bite Somebody Else (Bite Somebody, #2). Read all about it HERE.
“Not Again” – LEGENDARY Anthology (January 13)
“They Lived in the House On Cherry Street” – Black Denim Lit
“The Emmett File” – Stoneslide Corrective
“Painted Red” – kINKED Anthology
Enchanted Series: Magic SparkPen and Kink Publishing

Frankly, I’m exhausted just reading all this. I guess I should go take a nap, duck and cover until 2017 officially rolls around. I do want to thank everyone who supported me this year, whether that involved a Tweet or a glass of whiskey. I have wonderful friends, family, and fans, and I could not have achieved all of this without YOU. So here comes my British boyfriend to blow you a kiss … Cheers!

ben

 

Film

The 7 Best Horror-Comedy Films

army-of-darkness-1

Due to my overwhelming humbug-ness, I’ve eschewed the traditional “Best Christmas Movie” list to post a list much closer to my twisted, little heart. In this time of joy and cheer, I find nothing brightens my day more than screaming and demon decapitations. Therefore, my holiday gift to you: a list of the seven best horror-comedies.

You heard me. Some of you might not be familiar with the idea of a horror-comedy, but they exist and they are glorious. Films of this genre are usually ridiculous, covered in gore, and completely inappropriate. If you find pleasure in any of these attributes, read on. Cuddle up by the fire with your hot cocoa and bask in the beauty of flying body parts and gratuitous boob shots. Counting down …

7. Zombeavers

A vacation weekend turns into madness and horror for a bunch of drunken groupies looking for fun in a beaver-infested swamp. But not just any beavers. Zombie beavers! These big-toothed bullies are out for blood. Not only do you get some horrendous animatronics (think Princess Bride’s ROUS), but you also get sex, bad puns, and an unfortunate castration. Nothing says Christmas cheer like an unfortunate castration.

6. Re-Animator

A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus. Pure 80s fun, this retelling of Lovecraft’s short story of the same name is chock full of one-liners. (My personal favorite: “Cat dead. Details later.”) Again, blood and body parts fly! There’s nudity and, well, a living decapitated head with dubious intent. Don’t forget the horrible soundtrack. You’ll be ho-ho-ho-ing all the way to the morgue.

5. Witching and Bitching

A coven of witches traps a gang of escaping jewelry thieves. True, since this is a Spanish horror flick, you have to deal with subtitles, but it’s totally worth it as this group of bumbling criminals become the captives of some seriously no-good witchy bitches. The jokes are, of course, over the top, but the dialogue is brilliant and there’s a naked, silver Jesus. Yes, a savior is born.

4. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

Still on the run from a group of Nazi zombies, a man seeks the aid of American zombie enthusiasts and discovers new techniques for fighting the zombies. Come on, Nazi zombies, people. (And don’t worry about watching the first one. Just watch this one.) As with all zombie films, you have to deal with a ton of gore, but the plot is fast-moving and actually makes a lot of sense. Plus, there’s a guy with a zombie hand, and geeky, idiot zombie hunters run amok. Blood in the snow is very festive this time of year!

3. Army of Darkness

A man is accidentally transported to 1300 AD, where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home. I understand that film snobs will disapprove of me choosing the third in the Evil Dead trilogy and not the original, but sue me; this one’s the funniest. (“Gimme some sugar, baby.”) Bruce Campbell is comic-horror gold as he pulls some Three Stooges gags and reels off one-liners fast as Santa filling stockings.

2. Deathgasm

Two teenage metal heads unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One by delving into black magic while trying to escape their mundane lives. Oh, you crazy New Zealanders with your cute accents! The writing in this film is absolutely dazzling, including asides that’ll make you break a rib laughing. The brilliance of this movie is in its use of unexpected plot twists and its love of all things hard rock—and the gore. The gore is gorgeous. Nothing says Christmas snacks like your neighbors vomiting blood in the streets!

THE WINNER
1. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

White trash dudes Tucker and Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids. Although the story is great, it’s the lead actors who make this movie. Their response to a bunch of strangers accidentally dying at every turn is comic gold, and they achieve that extreme level of comic genius without being crass or obscene—which is saying something in the modern horror genre. If you ignore the rest of the list, consider this my generous holiday gift to you: a movie to warm the cockles of your heart and make you reconsider the many uses of a wood chipper.

Entertainment in CLE · Film · Mental Health · Ohio

How to Make a Movie

Dunlap, Kevin, and Mike ... with his, urm, mic.
Dunlap, Kevin, and Mike … with his, urm, mic. (That joke never gets old.)

How do you make a movie?
Find a writer who’s not me.
Find a director who knows what he’s doing.
Find an amazing cast and crew.
Film for five days straight.
Get bronchitis, laryngitis, and a life-sucking bout of depression.

Now, your movie is done. Just kidding, your movie isn’t done. It feels like your movie is never done.

When I moved back to Ohio, I knew I would be close to old friends. I didn’t realize one of my old friends would be doing cool things like, oh, rocking out in an amazing band or making movies.

Dunlap and I were in a few theater shows together in high school, but I think we mostly just liked each other’s company. (We also shared the superlative of “Most Likely to be Famous.”) When he heard I was moving to his ‘hood, he got in touch. It all started with several beers and escalated until, all of a sudden, I’d been cast opposite him in an indie flick called Decent People, written and directed by long-haired artistic genius Kevin Naughton.

movieposter
Movie poster? Image thanks to Dave Sebille.

Decent People isn’t a nice movie. There aren’t nice characters. Dunlap and I play two despicable people who get what’s coming to them. Filming began two weeks ago after several rehearsals and detailed planning of my hair and makeup. See, the film only takes place over a two-day period, with A and B costumes that have to look exactly alike for every take. (These are things you don’t think about when making a movie. For instance, my hair is currently purple, and it must remain this current shade of purple until filming wraps.)

As I type, filming is not complete, but I’ve learned quite a bit already. Having been an actress in a previous life, embracing my character’s tics, vocal delivery, and facial expressions has been like sinking into a warm bath–even when I have to scream in Dunlap’s face and call him horrible names (after which, we usually hug and say, “I’m sorry, I love you,” because that’s what friends do).

Doing the same scene over and over from different camera angles can be a challenge. Working in 90 degree heat can be hellish. Smoking a cigarette on film? Looks cool in the movies; sucks in real life. At one point, I’d rushed so much nicotine into my system, I thought I was going to vomit and/or pass out.

That was about the time I got bronchitis and started crying in public in front of our movie crew. After five days of shooting, I crashed. I burned. We had to take some time off, only recommencing film creation Sunday night. My depression was at critical levels, so much so that I made my parents come visit because Jake was out of town and I was afraid of being alone.

In hindsight, I should have expected the crash, the burn. I’m a moderately-functioning introvert who usually has a two-hour “in public” time limit. I’d spent five days with PEOPLE, being on all the time. Literally, in front of a camera all the time. For someone who’s accustomed to only communicating with my computer and only showering when I know my husband is coming home, being surrounded by human beings for five days straight could have landed me in the psyche ward. Luckily, it didn’t.

We still have probably four more days of shooting, and that’s if everything looks right, sounds right, feels right to our Master of Ceremonies, Kevin. Decent People won’t come out until next spring, and I’m nervous because I hate seeing myself on screen. When everyone else was watching the dailies, I hid in the other room and tried not to wince at the sound of my recorded voice–but everyone says I’m doing a great job. My facial expressions are icy, downright terrifying. That makes me smile, because I’m twisted and compliments like that make me smile.

So how do you make a movie?
Find wonderful, understanding people.
Work hard.
Laugh at your mistakes.
Don’t get bronchitis.

decent
Just another day at the office with MEEEE!!!!
Film · Halloween Town · Television

This Rocky Horror remake really pisses me off

tim-curry

No. Just no. I watched the teaser for Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show remake, to air in October, and just … no. Look, I’m happy that maybe this remake will introduce a whole new generation of viewers to the glory that is Dr. Frank N. Furter, but …

No, I’m lying.

Tim Curry is and forever will be Dr. Frank N. Furter. I mean no disrespect to Laverne Cox, who I’m sure will do a good job, but from what the teaser showed me, she’s just doing a Tim Curry impersonation. AND why is a woman playing this part? I know, some chicks are going to be all up in my grill over this, but “Sweet Transvestite” doesn’t have the same ring when it’s a woman singing about dressing up like a woman!

GAH! I can’t ….

Even …

Type ….

Dfkjhvpiouzxjcvkmasndijhasjmjndvcxkzmncviuyerhf!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ve observed Hollywood is going through this phase where they’re just making the same movie over and over again, but you can’t remake a cult classic. Cult classics become classics by accident. When they were first making the low budget B-film that is Rocky Horror Picture Show, nobody knew it was going to become the salvation of teenage freaks everywhere. They didn’t know it would become the perpetual, immortal midnight show. They didn’t know suicidal goth kids like me would consider the film to be Practically Perfect in Every Way.

The beauty of the original Rocky Horror Picture Show is that it isn’t beautiful. It’s a hysterical mess of cheap costuming, campy music, and the glorious thing that is Tim Curry in tights. Without Tim Curry, the movie would have sucked. He MADE that movie. Now, they’re making it without him (although I think he has a cameo), and they’re expecting it to be as magical as it was in 1975?

Rocky Horror Picture Show saved my life.
When I used to dye my hair black and write “you’re ugly” on mirrors …
When I used to hide beneath clothes three sizes too big …
When I used to smoke cigarettes and cut myself with my own fingernails …
Rocky Horror Picture Show was there, telling me, “Don’t dream it, be it.”

So maybe the remake will save some other troubled kids … but not if it sucks! If they actually give the movie a respectable budget, feature famous people, and just try to imitate the original, the remake is going to flop and troubled kids will miss the point. The biggest flaw, truly, is casting a female as Dr. Frank N. Furter, because part of embracing the freak in me was seeing a man in drag and realizing my freakiness was okay. Not only okay but pretty damn cool.