Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

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Shadows of Prey

April 29, 2014

Man, is this a great day or what? I am having a major surge of energy today. After a roughly 30 minute walk in the morning sun and catching the solar eclipse seen in Australia online, I received the news that John Brito Films‘ proof of concept for the coming Shadows of Prey horror/sci-fi series has been made official.

Having already seen the twelve-second animation roughly two weeks ago, it still thrills me to no end seeing this initial concept. In so few words I’d say this is pretty damn great, the music and imagery works beautifully and I can’t wait to see the finished results.

Until then, check out John’s own words about the animation here, and since it’s his birthday, how about writing him some birthday wishes on his Facebook?

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House of Monsters

April 6, 2014

Check it out: Here’s the latest Kickstarter project I decided to back, Dawn Brown‘s House of Monsters. Bringing back the stop motion fun of Ray Harryhausen and Mad Monster Party, Dawn – a Hollywood-based set decorator/concept artist – is planning an animated web series using the characters from her S/T 2012 short.

There’s a pretty cool buzz surrounding the project, with Kickstarter adding some funds – how’s that for an endorsement! – and USA Today recently plugged it in an article. The campaign is roughly 60% funded with less than two weeks left, so head on over and show your support! $50 gets you a pretty kick-ass t-shirt!

Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/houseofmonsters/house-of-monsters-the-stop-motion-web-series
Website: www.houseofmonstermovie.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/houseofmonstersmovie
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/dawnbrown123
IMDB: www.imdb.com/name/nm0113384/

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Censorshit (update)

April 2, 2014

Skärmavbild 2014-04-02 kl. 17.54.29

As indie DVD label Arrow Films & Video just posted it on their Facebook I figured I’d share it on my blog as well, hoping my readers based in the UK will take action.

Following an open letter by Moviemail‘s film critic and historian James Oliver on April 1st, there’s an online petition that in short asks Maria Miller - secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – to amend the planned changes to the 1984 Video Recording Act.

Dear Minister

The forthcoming changes to the Video Recordings Act will harm UK small businesses and compromise a thriving industry that is admired around the world.

This is unintentional and can be avoided by refining your “Draft Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014″. These draft Regulations will make publishing comprehensive DVD packages – editions that dissuade people from turning to pirated copies – financially unviable.

In the light of these unintended consequences, please revisit the draft Regulations.

Now, even though things probably won’t turn out quite as dramatic as I wrote in my previous post on the subject, the new BBFC guidelines will hit the indie DVD labels pretty hard and affect us genre fans. In essence, the new law means that not only do you need to classify the main feature of your DVD/Blu-ray release, but every interview, documentary, featurette that comes with it as well – running up quite a tab if you’re planning a drool-inducing überfan edition, as the BBFC charges a flat fee for their (mandatory) service.

This will not be the end of the UK indie labels, but most likely the days of their beefy DVD editions of horror, cult classics and other films outside the mainstream that fans all over the world enjoy. If you’re a citizen of the UK, and actually give a damn about the smaller independent efforts in your country, please do sign the petition. All it takes is your full name, email and post code. Sign it here and please spread the information on your blog, Facebook etc. Cheers!

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Censorshit

March 22, 2014

Well, as both a fan of horror and a believer in the independent D.I.Y. spirit, nothing makes me cringe more than when the hysterics starts to holler “think of the children” ’cause by now I am fully aware it’ll always come back and bite the adults as well as the independents right in the ass. Nothing makes this more clear than the announcement of BBFC‘s coming new guidelines in the UK. Reading all about it in Moviemail‘s great article BBFC changes: A major threat to indie DVD labels? it had me going “oh great, it’s the 1980s all over again.”

Earlier this year there was an outrage in the international horror community when the British Board of Film Classification announced a new ratings system as well as them monitoring material that used to be exempt from classification – a “well-meaning” government legislation ’cause, you know, think of the children. The reason for said act apparently being reality shows like The X Factor and artists like Lady Gaga and Rihanna. A sane person would of course say things like “if you don’t like the show – change the channel” or “don’t buy products by artists whose message/image/behavior you don’t approve of” or something really outrageous like “try parenting, you idiot!”, but we seem to live in an age when no one wants to take responsibility for anything and politicians couldn’t be happier to appease to that mentality.

So what’s the big deal? Well, here’s the bite-yer-ass part: As an unexpected result of these new regulations, any video material needs to be classified – documentaries used to be exempt – especially if it might be considered unsuitable for children. At a cost, of course, meaning that if you were planning to release, say, a behemoth anniversary edition of Tobe Hooper‘s Texas Chain Saw Massacre you need to classify not only the feature but the trailers, TV-spots, any interview that includes clips from the feature etc. etc. – in short, running up a pretty hefty bill while trying to make us nerds salivate. This won’t be a problem for the majors – and this is the part where I’m really struggling not to believe the tin foil hat crowd – but it will strike a huge blow to the indies that are already in a tight spot financially.

This happened back in the 1980s as well when the Video Nasty hysteria hit the British Isles circa 1984 (oh, what a fitting year!) For a short while starting around 1979 and up to the mid-80s, cult classics like Lucio Fulci‘s Zombie Flesh-Eaters (released by VIPCO, natch!), Tobe Hooper’s 1974 chainsaw opus (that was banned from cinemas until 1999!) and Ruggero Deodato‘s Cannibal Holocaust etc. were readily available in UK video stores – completely uncensored – since the BBFC only had authority to classify theatrical releases. Long story short a lot of conservatives like MP Graham Bright and socialite Mary Whitehouse (who proudly announced on television that she, in fact, hadn’t seen any of these videos and didn’t need to in order to know they were harmful to children – never mind the fact they never were intended for children to being with) drummed up public outrage, newspapers like The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times added to the hysteria and soon The Video Recordings Act of 1984 was rushed through the House of Commons and came into effect in 1985.

The reason there is a lot of odd conspiracy theories regarding this sudden reaction seems to be Palace Pictures and their 1983 video release of Sam Raimi‘s 1981 Evil Dead. Run by young mavericks Stephen Woolley and Nik Powell, Palace focused on distributing not only horror and cult classics, but international art films as well (emulating Roger Corman‘s New World Pictures). Stephen himself has stated in interviews that the video release was the hit of the year, selling an estimated 50,000 copies at a sell-through of £40-£50, netting the “upstarts” a whopping £2-£2,5 million (approx. $3,2-$4,1 million) – earning them, as well as the VHS format, industry attention that in the end might’ve been what changed the market forever.

You see, as ludicrous as it may sound today, the majors’ attitude when it came to VHS was in essence that it was a joke. I wish I remember the gentleman’s name ’cause he is the film industry’s equivalent of Dick Rowe Decca Records‘ A&R man who forever earned his place in music history as the man who passed on The Beatles, telling Brian Epstein “Guitar groups are on their way out” – but he saw the video rental market as less than secondary and that the majors couldn’t be bothered with it. “People don’t wanna experience movies at home” was the (paraphrased) decree. With this move the majors opened up the market for the independents – as people did wanna watch movies at home and stores needed tons of product to supply them with – creating a golden opportunity for anyone with a bit of cash and enough chutzpah to go for it. Unless I’m completely misinformed one UK video label was in fact started up by an ex-plumber.

That all changed with the Video Recordings Act that brought down a lot of these smaller operations as they just couldn’t afford the fees that came with the now-mandatory classifications. The market “cleared up” and in its wake the majors and corporate video chains moved in. Conspiracy or not, that was the effect. Parallelling that some thirty years later, the new BBFC classifications fee is flat, meaning that both Universal and a UK indie label like Arrow Video – known for their amazing editions of both horror, cult and independent films that’s just crammed with bonus material – pays the same amount for having their releases cleared with the British censor. Even though the law goes into effect in May 2014, and we’ve yet to see how it will affect independent horror releases, Nucleus FilmsMarc Morris already stated that their 3-disc DVD box release of Jake West‘s 2010 documentary Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide will not be reissued as just reclassifying it would cost them somewhere between £6,000-£7,000 (approx. $9,800-$11,500) – making it too expensive to release and impossible to sell due to needing an unrealistically inflated price in order to recoup the costs. I urge you to get it now as it is mandatory viewing for any horror fan.

To sum it all up the new classification system is moot at best unless the UK government is planning to revert its whole country back to a pre-internet age where information wasn’t readily available at the click of a button. In Kirby Dick‘s 2006 documentary This Movie is Not Yet Rated, director John Waters says something along the lines of how futile censoring movies at all these days is since most teenagers in their curiosity have gone online to look up more outrageous violent and sexual content than their parents would like to believe or admit – or do they really think they’re doing their homework for that many hours a day? – and with physical formats in all honesty being a thing of the past that mostly us old farts cling to, I kinda draw the conclusion that it’ll only affect 1) those of legal age while 2) adding another nail in the coffin of the already-narrowing independent market of an already-narrowing, “assorted” content – but maybe that’s what these conservatives have been wanting for these past thirty years. Think of the children? Babysitter society.

More on the subject:
Ban the Sadist Videos Pt. 1 (top) and Pt. 2 here.
Draft Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014 here.
The BBFC online fee calculator here.
Video nasty (wiki) here.
Blue Underground‘s Discovering Evil Dead here.
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide trailer here.
Pre-1984 uncensored UK VHS videos have a cult following and are popular among certain collectors. Called “pre-certs” they sometimes fetch impressive sums on eBay UK. Find ‘em here.

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“Either that or its counterpart…”

March 20, 2014
"...and somebody's responsible!"

“…and somebody’s responsible!”

Can your heart stand the shocking facts about grave-robbers from outer space? Well, if you promise they’ll be narrated by Criswell I sure can, baby! Check out my all-new Plan 9 From Outer Space t-shirt that I got via Lunchmeat Magazine! ‘Tis gorgeous and I’ll probably wear it out in no time (like I always do with my faves!)

This baby set my back a measly five dollars (plus postage), so if you’re a fan of Ed Wood and wanna support some indy media that focuses on all things VHS I suggest you check ‘em out on Storenvy here, their official site at www.lunchmeatvhs.com and on Facebook here.

While on the subject of the 1959 cult classic (that’s actually in the public domain so you can get it via Archive.org for free!):

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Ghoul School

January 15, 2014
copyright Sellergren Design 2014!

copyright Sellergren Design 2014!

Ever done anything by sheer accident? I for one truly believe in serendipity, and if you’ve even read the slightest bit of C.G. Jung you know what I’m talking about, but sometimes it even surprises a true believer. Nothing wrong with a good work ethic or brainstorming, but letting your subconscious take control usually creates more interesting results. It only takes time and patience.

Anyway, sitting down to do something as mundane as just creating a profile pic for my Facebook page – my digital camera works fine but some French jerk rummaged my bag and stole the USB cable while I was on tour I can’t upload any photos – I kinda came up with this concept. The initial sketch turned out pretty good so I figured I’d just go for it. Check out my Lucio Fulci tribute Matul High School Class of 1979.

Available via my Society 6 here and please do join me at www.facebook.com/SellergrenDesign for more imagery. While on the subject of tributes to Zombi 2 aka Zombie Flesh-Eaters:

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R.I.P. Mike Vraney

January 3, 2014
courtesy Something Weird Video.

courtesy Something Weird Video.

Oh man, I just heard via a friend online, and roughly five minutes ago Something Weird Video confirmed the really sad news via their official Facebook:

In Memorium
MIKE VRANEY
Founder of Something Weird
December 29, 1957 to January 2, 2014

We regret to tell you that Something Weird’s founder, Mike Vraney, passed away on January 2, 2014 after a long heroic battle with lung cancer. He was 56 years old, way too young to leave this planet. There was still so much Mike wanted to do in his life, so many films to be found, and adventures to be embarked upon.

This sad news may come as a shock to most of you. Mike was a very private person and didn’t want anyone, except his closest friends, family and colleagues, to know about his illness. He went through aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments for over a year, but sadly the cancer spread and cruelly took him from us.

Mike had a larger-than-life personality and a genuine enthusiasm for movies. Something Weird was his heart and soul, he was obsessive in his pursuit of tracking down the weirdest, wildest movies out there. And it wasn’t enough to find a few forgotten films, he was always in search of the movie motherload. (Making 370 two-hour volumes of Nudie Cuties loops is a good example of this. Who does that?! Mike Vraney!) Even as a child, Mike loved movies. During his teenage years, he worked at the Bel-Kirk Drive-In, and then later as a projectionist at the Green Parrot and Apple Theaters in Seattle. Then around 1990, Mike went in search of as many old, unusual, obscure, and lost low budget exploitation movies as he could, and preserved them for prosperity. Mike amassed thousands of these rare movies and had them transferred to video so that people could relive the good old days of going to the drive-in or grindhouse theater, in their very own home. We have him to thank for introducing fandom to the wonderful world of sexploitation sinema, rescuing it from the dark recesses of forgotten film vaults and defunct movie theatres.

Some of you may know that prior to Something Weird, Mike was involved in the early Seattle punk rock music scene. He was a partner in Modern Productions, the group who started Seattle’s seminal rock venue, The Showbox, in 1979. Mike then went on to manage such well-known bands as The Dead Kennedys, TSOL, and Seattle’s own The Accused. Mike always seemed to be at the forefront of whatever was happening and cool.Mike’s second greatest passion in life was collecting old comics, vintage toys, movie memorabilia, and pop cultural ephemera. He enjoyed going to the swap meet and always had a magical ability for finding great stuff. But when he wasn’t working, collecting, or telling great stories, Mike spent quality time with his beloved family. Mike adored his wife and business partner, Lisa, and two (now young adult) children, Mark and Danielle. These three were the center of his universe, and his reason for getting up each and every morning.

The folks at Something Weird fully intend to honor Mike’s incredible legacy. Mike may be gone, but his remarkable achievements will live on. One of the happiest days of Mike’s life was when legendary David F. Friedman and Dan Sonney called him “the forty-first thief,” which to him was the ultimate compliment and recognition for his work. We’d like to think that Mike’s now hanging out with his old pals Dave and Dan, reminiscing and talking shop with Dwain Esper, Kroger Babb, Barry Mahon, Joe Sarno, Doris Wishman, Bob Cresse, Dale Berry, Michael Findlay and all the other exploiteers and smut peddlers who’ve gone to the great grindhouse in the sky.

We will miss Mike with all our hearts. Goodbye dear friend, husband, father, and fearless leader…
— Lisa Petrucci, Tim Lewis, Kendall Bechtel, Mark Vraney, Danielle Vraney of Something Weird Video

This just sucks, and, as Mike obviously kept his health issues private, a total surprise. R.I.P.

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Post #650: Summing up 2013

December 31, 2013

Oh jeez, has it been a whole year already? Well, 2013 sure flew by fast I can tell you and I can’t say I remember that much on account of pretty much working my ass off for these past 52 weeks. In fact I once again had to go through the blog in order to check up on what happened and when because it’s all kind of a blur to me. So here we go:

copyright Sellergren Design 2011!January saw the release of Germany-based CRKO #3/4, which I made one of the covers for. Mid-through the month I finally got PropellerheadsReason 6.5 and music-wise things were never quite the same. The rough mix of In Space, originally slated for my first full length album, somehow turned into a 7-song EP released towards the end of the month. The Adventures of Superseven and Sandra West was released in a mammoth 5 DVD box collecting their initial 28 episodes plus bonus goodies like The Norliss TapesGroovy video. My work for the series earned both me and The Norliss Tapes our own pages on IMDB.com.

February saw the release of Sal Canzonieri‘s book Electric Frankenstein, compiling posters and record sleeves made for them during the period of  June 2005 to December 2013, but I’ve still to receive any confirmation that my contributions are in it. Check out on Amazon.com.

March saw the initial demos for my faux-OST L’Isola die Morti Viventi being created, starting out with A Modest Tribute to Fabio Frizzi. Meanwhile I finished up most of the tracks for the Adventures of Superseven and Sandra West soundtrack album and released the doomsday-dub Armageddon Dub, with a b-side featuring some drumming courtesy The Jimmy C.

squawkyApril kicked off with the release of the super-silly EP Squawky – featuring one of my personal fave b-sides The Name is West. A teaser-taste freebie of the coming soundtrack album was released and the They Call Me Superseven OST was released mid-month. The web series ran a successful campaign on Kickstarter, generating funds for the third season. UK label Dead by Mono‘s third installment of No Way Out! saw the physical debut of The Norliss Tapes with the track A Trip to the Moon. Me and UK photographer Robert Boud crossed paths resulting in some pretty cool collaborations. The end of the month saw the release of Call Me Greenhorn’s new-wave-ish Chasing the Dawn EP, originally slated for inclusion in an Australia-produced feature, but somehow that fell through. The poster I created to commemorate the launch of The Bigfoot Diaries live radio show was released in a limited edition.

May saw the release of Robert Boud’s video for Armageddon Dub, more dub sounds as The Titan Was Deemed Unsinkable was posted on SoundCloud, more videos as Robert Griffith‘s Here Comes Gorbot was made official and The Harvester appeared on SoundCloud, slated for an EP that I totally forgot about. The Jimmy C released the eight-track EP The Man Who Never Dies featuring three mixes I did and the month ended with the release of the CMGH2 album, aka The Abandoned Project.

copyright Sellergren Design 2013!

June kicked off with a teaser taste from my stoner project Ursa Major, followed by The Hit ‘In Sounds’ of Today’s Outside Crowd album and I chipped in some $$$ on Kickstarter for James R. Petix and Sarah Babila‘s documentary It Came From Detroit.

July had me creating some merchandise designs for Belgium’s own Captain Catastrophy, I released the I’m Normal! cloudcast on MixCloud, released the “summer bonus” EP L’amour en Apesanteur and started my second side project Get Carpenter – I gotta admit I just love that name!

August saw me launching my page on Society 6, kicking off with the August 18, 1973 series honoring Tobe Hooper‘s horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. My stoner side project Ursa Major debuted with its 18-minute two-track Like Leaves and the end of the month saw the release of my faux-OST L’Isola die Morti Viventi.

September saw the launch of greenhorndub.bandcamp.com where I added the four-track The Titan Was Deemed Unsinkable EP after things turned out less-than-optimal over at dubmusic.com. The same month Pink Hulk EP followed. The John-Carpenter-meets-King-Tubby track Cutthroats at Midnight was finished and I began work on a S/T EP. The end of the month saw the release of the Halloween-themed The Ghost of Lee Van Cleef EP and Robert Boud’s video The Modern Day Holocaust.

copyright Sellergren Design 2013!

In October I chipped in more of my hard-earned cash to support Tal Zimerman‘s project Why Horror? on Kickstarter, a documentary on the whys behind this film genre, and I even had a chance to do an interview with the guy for Swedish Gore Film Society. Towards the end of the month my second Haunted House of Horrors cloudcast was released in time for Halloween.

November saw me creating some artwork for U.S.-based true crime magazine Serial Killer Magazine and the end of the month saw the release of the Cutthroats at Midnight EP.

Finally, December saw the launch of Jamie Vayda‘s Loud Comix #2 – featuring a sleeve by yours truly – the release of the It Came From Detroit documentary – check it out! – and some videos I edited with a new freebie video editing software: Battle è in Arrivo, In Orbit, Invasion of the Dead and Voodoo Rhythm/A Feast on Flesh.

Yikes! How’s that for a list? Gee, no wonder I’m tired. But then again, I am quite enjoying myself and hopefully people out there enjoy what I create as well. Got more cool things happening in 2014 and I’d appreciate you joining me to check ‘em out. ‘Til then, Happy New Year!

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Santa Claws

December 24, 2013
copyright Sellergren Design 2013!

copyright Sellergren Design 2013!

Well, ’tis the season to be, uh, scary I guess and I figured I’ll add one more art print to my page on Society 6 before taking these next couple of days off. So here we go with Santa Claws, adding a bit of fear to your holiday cheer (in my mind I totally read that in the Cryptkeeper voice). As always available as both art print and stretched canvas with sizes ranging from 8″ x 10″ up to 28″ x 36″. Get yours here.

Speaking of fear, when it comes to Christmas-themed horrors nothing beats Bob Clark‘s 1974 slasher Black Christmas. A bit slow tempoed, yes, and gorehounds would probably be disappointed by the somewhat low kill count, but when it comes to the the perpetrator’s sheer level of lunacy Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger got nothing on this one. Highly recommended! Check out the trailer below. Merry Christmas!

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It Came From Detroit

December 23, 2013

Well X-Mas came early as the mailman brought me my Kickstarter backer package this past week. The DVD, a t-shirt and some other printed goodies like stickers made for a pleasant surprise when I came home, and a pleasant viewing experience as well as James R. Petix‘ documentary turned out looking great.

The latest news via their official Facebook is that they have secured distribution and the feature-length documentary will be released commercially in 2014. Kinda cool thinking that when I (and 437 other backers) chipped in some $$$ back in July all Plus One Productions had was a ton of footage accumulated over a ten-year period.

While waiting for the second edition to be released – does this mean the initial Kickstarter version will end up fetching big bucks as a collector’s item on eBay? – you can stream or download the documentary via VHX.tv. Check it out!

image courtesy Plus One Productions.

image courtesy Plus One Productions.

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