Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Horror occupies but a tiny corner of the Internets—which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on who you are. If you are a high-profile horror writer caught with your hands in the copy jar, then you are grateful to have chosen an industry that is already so marginalized that even your relationship with a famous director fails to elevate your “bad” to a blind news item.

No, you can't come in, I'm being fabulous.
And therein lies my point. A notable horror journalist has committed intellectual theft—really, one of the worst things you can do in any industry—and no one outside of horror is giving a crap, much less donating a fart. The fire is pretty much 100 percent contained.  Thus begging the question: if no one outside of horror cares, then why has everyone in horror become so delusional?

I can’t really say everyone. For every icon who is an ass to his fans, there’s a Bruce Campbell, or a Lloyd Kaufman, or insert the name of any horror icon you dared reach out to online who not only surprised you by responding—but damn near gave you a heart attack by being gracious (for me—Anne Rice, who I will always love for her emails). And to be fair, some icons are correct to keep a (loving) distance on social media in order to protect themselves and their families from the Crazies. But you still get that they appreciate their fans and care if they die.

No, this one goes out to the stewards of horror: the writers. The icons who gave us the novels that became the films. The journalists who made names for themselves with their sharp observations or gallows humor. The former creates horror, and the latter shapes it, and neither can exist without the other. But both are becoming compromised by social media, which has cultivated the very un-horror need for One of Us to become Better Than You.

The writer I once respected has turned into a silly, conceited old wannabe rock star desperately chasing outrageousness. The journalist I mentioned on Twitter as an influence—who responded by saturating my feed with retweets of media reports praising her Oscar gown—has become a lesson for those who prefer their parables to be pretty. Now while these two have become some of the worst offenders in my world, there are others. The obnoxious child of a legendary author who fancies himself the gatekeeper of a horror dynasty and forgets that his father holds the keys. The film critics who got the memo on their genius and have moved on to being clever. Don’t bother tweeting to them, they can’t be fucked. But be sure to listen to their podcasts. Devil horns.

Where would these people who are Better Than You be without One of Us? Answer: they’d be working a goddamned day job while pursuing their real passion over the white noise of Cronenberg. Like I do. Like you do. We are supposed to be in this for the love, not for the lucre. When I was growing up, there wasn’t anyone in my life from 1980 to 1993 who loved horror films, short of my fifth-grade best friend, and even then it ranked third in her life behind unicorns and Val Kilmer.  So now we’ve got a caste system? Bullshit. Really, who in hell do people think they are? They’d better have an idea, because for the most part, the rest of the world doesn’t have a clue.  And I prefer horror over mysteries.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Reel Genius.

Can I survive any horror film? I survived House of the Dead.
I have this theory that I could survive some of my favorite horror films. But then I also theorized that I could shield my car from the rain at work the other day by parking it under a tree—and I was right, except my car was covered in bird shit by lunchtime.

And with that, I present you with a sampling of favorites (no order):

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The original DOTD came out when malls were just beginning to flourish, and my world consisted solely of Zwieback cookies and New Zoo Revue. If an actual zombie apocalypse had occurred at that time, I think I would've been all set had my stoner parents sought shelter in a Kinderfoto. Plus, they were baked all the time anyway and could've easily passed themselves off as zombies. Perfect.

But today? There was a point in my life when I never met a mall I didn't like, but now, you'll hardly ever find me or anyone else in one. Which probably still makes the mall the best place to hide. I'm comfortable with eating gigantic pretzels for the remainder of my days. The key to surviving the mall during a ZA is to find a White House | Black Market and hide there. WHBM is, without question, the most pointless shop in any mall. Honestly, WTF do they sell there, segregated chinos? If the theory holds true that zombies revisit the places they used to go when they were living, then it's guaranteed that you'll be pretty much left alone in a WHBM. Grab a plasma TV from Sears. Get an Orange Julius or Mrs. Field's cookies from the outskirts of the food court. No one will be in those places, either. You're welcome.

Shivers (1975)
I love this film. It came out the year I was born, which is just so apropos. Now, this one puts me at a crossroads. I love to make out, I love the Seventies and I'm a fan of pools and parties, so can I resist a good Seventies makeout pool party? I think I can, I think I can. Mostly because I don't love a big, gnarly slug entering my body that I'm not legally contracted to love, honor and cherish. So, time to assess the situation at hand. It's 1975, I'm in Canada, and Canadians are nice—so nice that we just assume that our neighbors to the North will take us in as we're running from a ZA in the States (cough, Land of the Dead). The only thing that would probably make them not be nice is a murderous, horny parasite.

The key to surviving this one? Eliminate the sexy places and go hide on Degrassi street, where they've got enough to worry about, like teen pregnancy and class elections. I can while away my days listening to Rush and eating poutine. Most teenagers on TV today are played by 38-year-olds, anyway. I'm packing my bags as we speak.

The Beyond (1981)
What? Some poor bastard was accused of witchcraft and savagely murdered in this hotel I just purchased—and it encompasses the seven doors of death, one of which is now open to scores of the living dead? Alrighty, I'm off to the Motel 6. They're leaving the light on for me.

The Fog (1980)
I figure nothing will confuse evil fishermen more than seeing nice fishermen on a box of breaded fillets—so I'll be loading up on some Gorton's. After all, we're supposed to trust the Gorton's fisherman, and to that end I'll be pelting them with frozen boxes featuring his likeness from atop my bitchin' lighthouse radio station. You didn't actually think I was going to eat those things, did you? I'm married to an Englishman. I've tasted the good stuff.

What—you expected me to have an actual strategy? I'm in a lighthouse! When I'm that high up, the only thing I'll need to do is decide what records to play.

I'm thinking the Zombies.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Idle Worship.

Picture it: Sicily, 1932. Except Sicily is Irvine, and let's just say 1932 is 1997. I was in my seat at a Rage Against the Machine gig at the former Irvine Meadows (now Verizon Wireless) Amphitheatre, waiting for my then-best friend George and her sloppy-drunk friend, a pretty blonde skidmark named Mary, to bring me back a $5 margarita. Minutes turned into an hour, an hour turned into an hour and a half, and by the time all the pre-Occupiers were setting fire to the bleacher seats (no joke), I had begun to wonder if these bitches had actually driven the two hours through San Diego County into Mexico for my drink. Eventually, the show was over, and I was not only without a drink, I was without a ride home.

Fortunately, Irvine Meadows was fairly close to my house, so I dialed a friend and he made the short drive over to the venue parking lot to pick me up. Well, one day and a half-assed apology later, George explained—tail between her teeth—that while she and Mary were walking to the queue for drinks, they slipped and fell and rolled all the way down to the pit, where they were scooped up by security, burped and diapered and whisked off to the backstage area—where they met Rage.

Yep. My at-the-time favorite band. So anyway, to keep a long story from getting longer, George presented me with a photo she took of my at-the-time rock n' roll fantasy, Zack de la Rocha, who posed for it after she told him what a shart she had been for leaving her best friend back up in the hosebleed section. Wonderful end to a crappy story, right? Yep, except two things: one, Zack's reply to George's story was, "tell your friend it's just a concert," and two, in the photo that was MEANT for yours truly, Zack de la Rocha—beautiful, soulful, lyrical enemy of the Man and my personal idol—was flipping me off. The bird was the word. And that middle finger was straight up, now tell me.

I heard her boogers can turn back the aging process.
So, what the hell is it all about, Alfie? Well, fast-forward to just a few days ago. My RATM days are dust in the wind, I wear sensible shoes and read Suze Orman, and for the most part, I only really listen to the 24-hour news channel or my old Steely Dan or Roxy Music CDs in my car. Anyway, I was on the old Twitter, twatting away to a genre director who I have loved since I was a small child. I asked him for some words of encouragement for my husband, who is currently shopping his script to producers. I didn't ask this man to read the script, nor did I attach my husband's promotional trailer to the tweet. I simply—and very politely and respectfully—asked this man to offer up some advice. I waited one day. Two days. Three days. And finally, I checked this director's Twitter and noticed that he had replied to other tweets—just not my tweet. And suddenly, I was getting the memo. I knew that this man read everyone's tweets, and had undoubtedly read mine. He was just not going to reply to it. Not now, not ever. Good morning, good afternoon and goodnight.

I felt like a fool, a bit like how I had felt back in 1997. I don't just reach out every day to people I look up to on Twitter. It may be easy for some to take advantage, but not for me, and for the most part, I keep a very respectful distance. It wasn't easy to send that tweet, and by deleting it, I was hoping that I could pretend it never, ever happened. Except it had. I had opened myself up to a genre director who I held close to my horror heart and had supported for over 30 years, and he was basically telling me no quarter.

And I sort of get it. Celebrities probably get that kind of request tweeted to them every day by minions like myself. But goddamn, would it have killed him to reply back? It could've just been a two-word reply, like "stay strong," or "rock on," or ... obviously, we're learning here that if I were a celebrity, I'd be shit at the two-word reply. But you get me. And yes, I'm 100% positive that some of you may be thinking that this guy doesn't owe me anything, and yes, I'm 100,000% positive that others may be thinking that this guy's catalogue of genius pretty much part and parcel gives him the right to do whatever he wants. So, let's apply these two thoughts to the real-world benchmark:

Horror Director Legend doesn't owe me anything.
Alrighty, he made a movie. I watched it and loved it. The transaction is complete, so by all accounts, you're right, he doesn't owe me anything. But then HDL makes another version of said movie. Then another. With a VHS here, DVD there, here a cut, there a cut, everywhere a cut cut—until one shelf of my home is entirely reserved for this one effing film. A film that, by the way, I also saw at the cinema every time it was tucked and pulled and squeezed into a limited-release revival. You're telling me HDL can't reply back with two words of support to a loyal fan and fellow independent filmmaker in return?

Horror Director Legend can do whatever he wants.
Fine. Let's apply this logic. Can he perform my annual Pap smear and pelvic exam if he wants? Can he fill up all the potholes on the Hollywood freeway if he wants? Can he make the Kardashians go away if he wants? Can he keep Starbucks from raising the price of my grande iced chai tea latte if he wants? No, he fucking can't. He's just a man. But what he can do is reply back to a tweet. I reply back to tweets. Even if someone isn't following me, I reply back. It's just polite. And yes, I haven't even directed one film. But I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue, and that's some spectacular shit.

But this is how most celebrities behave on Twitter. They want you to follow them and buy their crap, but they'll never follow you back or reply to your tweets. And I think that sucks. But the one equalizer is that everyone—Zack de la Rocha and his finger penis included—is on this earth for a limited time only. Beyonce will probably be laid into a lifesize Barbie box first, but we're all going down into the ground. And good luck getting anyone to follow you there.