Attack of the Killer B’s… catching up with the creator, 25 years later.

In a previous blog post, I spoke of a public access television show I used to watch called Attack of the Killer B’s.

Back in 1992, my Friday night ritual was to run to the gas station just off base and grab a pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk and a can of Cheezums.  I’d then get back just in time to settle in and watch the most glorious Public Access Television show ever created… Attack of the Killer B’s.  It was like some kind of mad experiment resulting from a twisted tryst between Elvira, Svenghouli, and a voyeuristic MST3K poking its head in and seeing just what the hell was going on.

I ended up with about 8 VHS tapes filled with static’y episodes (all I had was rabbit ears and tin foil!), but I’d watch those tapes over and over again for the next decade.

Dr. Reek Amortis and Skelvis, circa 1992.

Let’s flash forward 25 years… a friend and fellow classic sci-fi/horror fan, @CultCredentials , sent me a message that he may have well found the man himself… Dr. Reek Amortis, Bryan Sisson.  I immediately got in contact with Mr. Sisson and lo-and-behold, Mr. Credentials was right.  I now know how Chewbacca felt.  Thanks Mr. Credentials for your black belt Google-Fu.  I am forever in your debt!  If you are a fan of cult and horror media, please check out his blog full of reviews of movies, TV, comics, and books.  You can also find him on Twitter at @CultCredentials.
So now… two and half decades later, I am finally able to bring you the man himself… the Mad Scientist of the Macabre, the Hero of Horror, the Champion of Camp!  Let’s give it up for DR. REEK AMORTIS!!!!

… er, BRYAN SISSON!!!!

Bryan Sisson, aka Dr. Reek Amortis, and Skelvis. Circa 2017.


First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Bryan.  It’s been 25 years since I watched your television show on Pueblo Public Access.  Could you tell me a bit about your passion for classic horror and why it appeals to you so much?

I have had a deep and consistent horror/sci-fi obsession for as long as I can remember. I have tried to figure out exactly when and why this happened… I think I liked the thrill of “safely” being scared; the excitement of being scared yet knowing that everything was going to be OK… the monsters will not win and goodness will triumph.

When I was growing up I would scour the TV guide looking for every horror, science fiction, and fantasy movie and marking it so I could try to watch it.  If you missed a movie then you never knew if you would ever see it again! The Classic horror movies were from a time where kids could watch and not be bombarded with realistic ultra-violence or nudity like most of the modern era relies on. There was a good scare, creative monsters, and they usually had the morale of good win out, which was comforting. Today’s movies are much more mean-spirited and rely on the one-upping of gore and cruelty. Not really what kids should watch.

One of my favorite memories was sitting with my mom on the couch watching Invisible Invaders during a huge thunder storm! I was watching torrents of water flow down the street with lightning flashing, all while the invisible dead tried to break into the underground laboratory!!! Exhilarating!!!!

 

Wow, very interesting!  I really appreciate how you feel about the effects of today’s horror on children.  I see that you’ve met some very well-known and amazing folks that have worked in the Horror genre. Care to let us know who they were? What was it like meeting them?

My brief venture into film making, while leaving me “underemployed”, did give me some experiences I will never forget! I and the director of our first feature film, “Curse of the Blue Lights”, were out in California trying to find a distributor for our completed film. We sent promotional materials out to every studio and distributor, big and small. We had meetings with 20th Century Fox and Universal even!

They would all eventually say “too bad, you didn’t have a big name talent involved that could sell it”.  Truth is it was way too small for them and frankly not good enough!! Thank god for the then huge VHS direct to video market as we would eventually get worldwide distribution with Media Home Entertainment.

Well, during this month-long trip to Hollywood, we were able to go into Amblin Studios after following up on an invitation from Steven Spielberg’s personal assistant!  Amblin is buried deep in the Universal studios lot.  After going through the second set of security gates, we pull up in the Amblin lot right in front of the building.  Mark Marshall, who was Spielberg’s assistant, is standing outside to meet us when the two kids, Short Round and Chunk from the Goonies, come running up to greet Mark as they also just arrived on a visit. It was a very surreal experience indeed!

We got to tour the entire Amblin studio, including a meeting room with TV’s that would rise out of the tables and saw the theater he had set up to watch any format of film possible.  As we walked down a hallway in the Mexican style compound, we passed an indoor paseo area where only 10 feet from us a photographer was taking pictures of Spielberg for a magazine. While we did not meet him, he did turn and smile at us as we passed!  Again exhilarating!

On this same trip I called up “Uncle” Forry Ackerman, whose name and number were listed in the phone book.  I was bummed out that I only got the voice mail as he was off at a convention. Two days later, my phone rings and I can’t believe it but on the other end is Forry inviting me to the Ackermansion that weekend! We pull up and I can see the submarine from Atlantis the Lost Continent just sitting in his backyard! He gave us a wonderful tour of his house when Ron Borst (huge movie poster collector and expert) stopped by, so they invited us to eat lunch at Forry’s favorite place, Sizzler!  Well, I was in heaven as any horror fan can understand.  I treasure my pictures with him in front of Maria the Metropolis robot.

I have since become an avid convention attendee and have had the pleasure to meet and talk to many of my heroes like Barbara Steele, Stuart Gordon, Clive Barker, Bert Gordon, Lamberto Bava, Ruggero Deodato, Dick Smith, Rick Baker, and many others.  I really like getting original posters signed by the cast and crew!  One of which is a Godzilla Vs The Thing one-sheet signed by Godzilla actor Haruo Nakajima!

 

You got to meet Forry and see Short Round, Chunk, and Spielberg?!  That must’ve been a Holy Grail moment!  I’d really like to know about the genesis of Attack of the Killer B’s (AotKB’s).  What was your motivation to create it and was it difficult to get on television?  What was it like to film an episode?  I’ve got an ongoing wager with myself that your name was Dr. Reek A. Mortis, and not Dr. Reek Amortis.  Who wins?  Who ends up being the one who was wrong for two and a half decades?

After trying my hand at film making and finding myself rather unemployed, I went back to the University in Pueblo to get an engineering degree.  I got a work study job at the University’s PBS station editing commercials and TV spots.  One day I was talking to the station manager, Greg Sinn, and found out he was a monster kid too!  He even still had some of the Famous Monsters paperback books from when he was a kid.  I asked him if he ever thought about using the station equipment to make a low budget movie.  That must have gotten his mind going because a month later he called me into his office and said he would be able to get a package of old B horror/sci-fi movies and asked if I was interested in coming up with an idea for a horror host to introduce them. That was all I needed to hear!  I immediately told him that I would and that I wanted to bring a friend of mine, Sonny Theis, in so we could incorporate silly songs into the sketches.

The University had a fairly large TV studio where they would film fund raising events and some student game shows. They had professional grade cameras, editing equipment, and could do large scale green screen effects shots.  I was a kid in a video candy store! This was very small scale… like really small scale… no one was paid and no money was spent.  I had to come up with everything that would be on camera.  The first thing I did was build a small dungeon-like set complete with a small window that we could look out of or just have fog roll in from.

I spent a few days carving,  gluing, and painting styrofoam to give the look.  Next, I had to think of a way I would start each movie, so I built a large switch that I could pull down.  Now Sonny was up for being my side kick and was for doing the music with me, but he was not really one to act very silly, so I knew we would be a little straight man/funny man, Abbott and Costello like.

I was working in the pharmacy at a local hospital so I had access to medical gowns and stuff of that nature so the good doctor was born!  And you lose and win… the name was Dr. Reek Amortis but I have to say I really like the Reek A. Mortis also!

Every Thursday night I would go over to Sonny’s house where he had every instrument and recording device you could imagine. He would start laying down drums, then bass, then keyboard and build a song.  He went over and over it, adding all the instruments to the music I was writing down, the lyrics that would go with the movie.  By the time he was done with the music, the lyrics would be complete and we would then sing and record the song.  Great songs such as Attack of the Giant Leeches, Teenage Caveman, and Atom Age Vampire were born.

I would then have to rummage around my house and find props and go down to Betty’s Costumes for any costumes we would need for the skits.  I would also have to write down a rough script that we would do the very next day!  So right after school every Friday, Sonny and I and whoever else we could coax into helping, would go into the study and in one take we would play the prerecorded music and lip sync to the song.

I still find it odd how hard it was to get people to be involved in something that was so much fun. I always knew I had my family that would come through in a pinch and I was always in a pinch. My son Zachary would play young Dr. Reek and my mom would play one of the Sisters of the Immaculate Constipation.  My girlfriend at the time would play a number of characters, including a cave woman and a car crash victim in one of my favorites… Atom Age Vampire.

We did this every day for a year for a total of 23 episodes (I think).

 

So, I’m a loser and a winner… I’ll take it!  You worked with two other main cast members (well, one alive and one not-so-alive), Sonny and Skelvis.  Can you tell me about working with Sonny?  How did you two meet?  He was a seriously cool cat… did he ever take off his sunglasses?  I remember that you and Sonny would perform a song based on the movie that was to be shown.  It was amazing just how good those songs were!  What was the process involved in that?  Was Skelvis as difficult off-screen as he was on?

Sonny Theis and I met at a number of parties where he would play amazing lead guitar while we all drank massive quantities of beer.  Oh the 70’s!  Sonny was/is an amazing musician and I had played rhythm guitar with him a few times in a band.  Sonny was also attending the University at the time and he was equally anxious to try out this unusual adventure.  Sonny was a cool cat and now that you mention it I don’t think I have ever seen him with his sun glasses off… hmmm.  Did you ever see Not of This Earth??

Being a dungeon setting I thought about what I could do to spice the set up a bit. The music and horror made me think it would be cool to have a dead Elvis as a smartass side kick hanging on the wall to give the good doctor grief.  I had a number of zombie bodies lying around in my basement from the Curse of the Blue Lights film, so I picked one out and made him up as Elvis.  I incorporated a glove in the back of his mouth so it could be manipulated from a hole in the wall.  I tried to find someone that would be committed to doing the voice of Skelvis and someone else to stand on a ladder behind the wall to manipulate the arms, but more often than not we were ready to film with no one to help. This is why in many of the episodes you see Skelvis with his mouth taped shut “so he couldn’t taunt us”

Skelvis is living the life, or is it death, down in my basement and pondering a comeback tour.  I just don’t think he has the guts to actually pull it off though…

 

So you’re saying that Sonny might have egg-white eyes… interesting!  And Skelvis doesn’t have the guts… wait… I see what you did there!   Are you a musician in “real life” and do you still perform?  Any chance on there being an AotKB’s album one day?

I am a middle-of-the-road, wanna-be rock-star musician.  I currently play in a 3 piece band called Playing With Fire.  Interestingly, we all got together when we played in a band with Sonny.  Geniuses’ get tired with things and so Sonny bowed out and we continued on our own.  Sonny and I had often discussed if we should try to do a return of Dr. Reek, but honestly I think it was lightning in a bottle… the time was just right and we were up to the challenge.   

 

Well, I ain’t gonna lie… I’m just gonna pretend that one day there’ll be a reunion and I’ll be ready with the New York Super Fudge Chunk and a can of Pringles.  How many episodes did AotKB’s have?  How long did you plan on running the show?

We really had no idea how it would go over with people and didn’t have much in the way of feedback if people were even watching…. We ended up filming for one year (basically one show for each movie in the Attack of the Killer B’s package he purchased).  They had the right to show it for 2 years, so the second year was re-runs.

 

The first (few? I can’t recall how many) episodes were in black and white.  At some point they became color.  Why did you decide to change it to a color program?  Did that create any headaches?

We really didn’t know what we wanted it to look like at first. We went with black and white since the movies were black and white.  Then we got a knob that I could use to change us to color.  Eventually we just liked the color better and stayed with that.  I also want to mention our cameraman, Ron Weekes.  Ron was a full time employee at the station and really added a lot to the look of the show.  I wanted the cameras locked down on dollies because they had all this cool equipment and I thought that would be better, but Ron chose to grab the camera and move about free style. This really added a lot to the look of the show and really added to its zaniness!

 

I remember that camera work!  Y’all were decades ahead of today’s “queasy cam” stuff!

Any chance that there is some archival footage of the show?  I’ve got two healthy children… they may be small, but they’re strong!  I could maybe trade one for a DVD box set?  Both for the BluRay?

Sadly, I only had some crappy VHS copies but all of the surviving songs are out on YouTube. I had the full broadcasts transferred to DVD, but they’re really bad copies… Arrghh!!!

I did experiments with children on TV.  I could get away with it because it was “educational”, now they frown on it.

 

I totally understand… I probably would’ve chickened out on the the deal and offered up my autographed copy of Damnation Alley in lieu of my kinder anyway…

You wrote a movie, “Curse of the Blue Lights”.  Would you mind talking about that?  Any other horror projects in the works?  Any plans on an AotKB’s revival someday?

Curse of the Blue Lights was another adventure where we were too stupid to know we shouldn’t be doing this.  This was pre-Dr. Reek.  I  dropped out of the University to help a guy raise money to make a low budget mystery/horror movie.  In the meantime we ended up making a documentary on Zebulon Pike called Zebulon Pike and the Blue Mountain.  Pretty cool little film narrated by Burgess Meredith!

We did not raise the $1 million we needed, but we did raise about $175,000.  Instead of giving up, I convinced them that we should make a low budget horror movie with lots of makeup effects.  I had been doing a lot of foam latex monster make up and knew I could pull enough off enough to have good effects. Very long story short, we made the movie and got it distributed worldwide!  We made the money back, but it was too slow for investors to reinvest in something more.  Hollywood low-balled us and really didn’t give a $h!t if we made another movie or not.  I worked on a few more locally produced films like ROBO C.H.I.C. (Assistant Director) and Elves where I got to work with up-and-coming effects guru, Vincent Guastini.

I am always conspiring something … right now I’m spending time with my band.  There is nothing better that playing on stage and everything just blends.

 

Holy crap, I had no idea you had been involved in so many projects!  Did you ever think that a fan of your public access show would contact you 25 years later?  Is this kind of a cool thing or does is make you freak out just a little bit?

That someone remembers our work from so far back is one of the most awesome and humbling things that has happened.  When we made these, we really never knew if anyone watched, let alone liked what we did.  We did what we did because we had to have a creative outlet.  I was going to school for engineering and then going to the set to be a horror host… How cool was that!?  

I wish I had taken the time to document what we did, but we were so wrapped up in trying to pull off something funny for nothing that we just didn’t even think about preservation.  I had someone from Blood Central just contact me about Curse of the Blue Lights, so it is strange that I would also be asked about Killer B’s in the same month.

Things I did 25–30 years ago and people remember them fondly… It makes me very proud and should be a lesson for anyone that you should go for the impossible… you want to make a movie?  You want to be a horror host?  You want to be a rock star?  What the hell are you waiting for?!

I am so happy you enjoyed our show and took the time to seek out Dr. Reek!

I can dig it.  One last question… You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It’s crawling toward you… You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lies on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that?

Because I know this tortoise… he has stalked me since childhood. The first time I remember seeing him I was in my crib, unable to utter anything intelligible, I lay in a filthy diaper.  While just outside of my peripheral vision sat the tortoise smirking, planting frightening tortoise visions in my weak mind.  I still remember his taunts as I stood in front of my first grade class unable to solve the equation the instructor had written on the board… and all the while the tortoise, probing, planting false variables and erroneous theorems.  And good god… how can I ever forget our wedding night… my beloved lying disheveled in our bridal bed, the foul stench of tortoise rising from her ivory skin.

I feel him even now in my mind… I feel the shell growing on my back… I lay down next to …it.

My legs flounder in the air as the desert sun bakes down upon my naked flesh…


And there you have it my friends, quite possibly the coolest interview I will have ever done.  This really was a trip down memory lane.  I feel like I want to relate to how Bryan felt when he met Forry.  This really was an exciting experience for me.  I swear I can smell the Cheezums and taste the ice cream.  A megaton of thanks to Mr. Sisson for allowing me to pick his brain (with anesthetic of course) and discover the magic behind Attack of the Killer B’s!

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Mad Max, Death, and Justice … Guest blog from Asher.

I was recently contacted by a fella… a quick fella… who altered my perspective on both art and the way Mad Max (Fury Road specifically) can be interpreted.
First off, let me tell you who this guy is… he is an artist that goes by the name of Asher – he “translates discarded tech into artistic pieces.”  His work is simply amazing and I’ve often said that although I have really no idea how to describe it, I love it.  A super cool blending of goth, cyberpunk, horror and abandonded tech… Please take a moment to check out his website.
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Hex-Station

We follow each other on twitter and out of the blue, he asked if I would mind reading his thoughts on Mad Max.  Of course I said “Yes!”, and after reading his words, I immediately told him that this material HAS to be shared with the postapoc  community.  I asked him if he had a blog, to which he replied “No”, so I asked if I could possibly share his thoughts on mine.  I’m glad he said “yes”.
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Chelsea 405

So with no further ado… here’s Asher and his thought provoking wordstuff about the tragic lone wanderer of the wasteland, Max Rockatansky…

I think you have to start with Stone and not Max. Miller draws too heavily on that film. Hell, half the Mad Max cast is from Stone including Hugh who keeps coming back as the god-man and gets crucified every time.
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I’m fairly certain Miller has always looked at this in a very large picture sense, kinda like Dune from Herbert. If you take the body of the these Aussie post-apocalyptic films as a societal tale, then you have a very slow moving progression and not just some action flicks tied together.

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Stone sets the stage for a society that is imploding upon itself by greed, inability to change, and children who need to kill their fathers as a rite of passage but clings too hard to the old ways. That clinging is brought back up in every single one of his films too. This is why I’m fairly certain Stone sets that stage and he plays upon it.

MM falls apart because they’re using old laws to govern a new form of human society and the hero is stripped of everything he holds dear because he tried to uphold those laws in spite of everything.

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In MM-RW, they’re clinging to the old form of power still (gas) and again, Max only is victorious when he is the harbinger to destroy that dependence.  We’re more or less told that’s the last bastion of gas production.  Without him, Humongous would have taken the refinery and become a king. 

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In MM and BT, both the Kids cling to the old ways as well as Bartertown. The Kids cling to the HighScrapers and the Rivers of Light.  Bartertown exists because they crave capitalism. Max destroys them both.  And in Fury Road, he finally kills the father and puts to rest that old world. More on that…

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Hugh is in all three flicks representational of the Father but he’s also fully aware of Death waiting for him. It’s evident in the script, the actions, and the costumes (in Miller’s pieces). That also puzzles me as to how it’s missed. He didn’t have to use this guy again, but here he is and really in FR he’s passed into a mythical realm already.

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Fury Road… Miller had choices here. BIG ones. He had money and backing, so he had free reign on this. And this is the one thing that I am shocked no one picks up on. Look over Homer’s Odyssey… It’s more or less the story of FR. The River of Lethe, Charybdis, the Sirens, etc., etc., etc.  Max has passed into the stuff of mythos now.

My  proof that this is no longer a reality or part of the world Max was from… the steering columns on the cars and trucks – they are on the left side, the US side. Not Oz, hell not even any former Brit colony. That was a very, very conscious choice. He started production in Oz. They built most of the cars in Oz. Yet why the left side drive?  They actually had to import those vehicles to produce that. Far greater expense and load on the production. This, to me, is a keystone or a cypher that he’s used to give us a clue.

Trust me I don’t really give a shit about uncovering most film or books. I’m really ok with face value since that’s usually how it’s to be viewed/read. But it struck me in the theatre how much like the Odyssey FR was. Then, about a month later, I was welding and replaying the flick in my head, the steering columns really hit me hard.

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Miller’s story boards for FR some 20+yrs ago… I think they are now pretty much EXACTLY like the film. He’s calculating and deeply committed to the story – this is not a man out to make a fortune on an action flick. This is a man creating a classic piece of art that just happens to be couched in the guise of an action flick. He’s not without irony, appealing to a base form of entertainment to tell us a deeply insightful tale of humans – pretty much just like Homer.  I may be totally off base and batshit crazy, but I kinda think I’m close to the bone on this one. I’d imagine when Homer sat in a rotunda and made a couple of bucks reciting his next installment for Friday night entertainment, it wasn’t seen as a classic to them. It was just good adventure and fun.

What I find a thing of pure beauty in FR, as well is how we are shown this, is the realm of Ether and humans are but players for the God’s. The scene that did that for me was where Nux was told by Max to “tie to that thing…”,  “You mean the tree?”. Nux had never seen a tree. And here we are in the land of death, on the edge of the river Lethe, using the tree of life to run from Death/Justice.
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I seriously was just stunned when I saw that.  Max shoots out the eyes of Death/Justice and now it’s blind as it needs to be to exact it’s purpose.
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This is story telling at it’s most epic and sublime. Don’t get me wrong I loved Miller and the Max franchise before. But at this moment he passed to the level of praise and respect very few will ever see from me.
I’m rarely impressed, but Miller has left me kind of speechless. I just hope he lives long enough to finish it.
Because it’s going to be fucking epic when it’s completed.

You can find Asher on Twitter and his website, where he uses flame and steel to create something from nothing.  Please take a moment to visit, I assure you won’t be disappointed!

 

Slipstream… it doesn’t suck nearly as much as you might think.

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First off, I want to thank Barry P. of Cinematic Catharsis for asking me to join the Nature’s Fury Blogathon!  The subject matter this go ’round is Nature vs. Mankind.  In the words of Barry P., “…this is a blogathon about our eternal struggle with flora, fauna, and the elements.

I decided to go with a film that has a bit of a fan following… 1989’s Slipstream.

Maybe not a “cult classic”, (you know what, screw it… it IS a cult classic!) but there are those of us who actually really dig it.  It pits man against good old planet Earth and let me tell you… she is PISSED!!!


Oh, and hey… I’ve never participated in something like this before, so be gentle with me… it’s my first time. 😉

Alright then, let’s get to the movie!


From the depths of the Earth.

To the edge of existence.

The hunt is on…

 

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By the end of the century, man’s destruction of the Earth’s environment turned the forces of nature upon him.  There are many stories about the converging earthquakes that split continents apart – mixing civilizations together… about the floods that buried the cities and the emergence of a river of wind called the Slipstream that washed the planet clean.  Those stories all happened years ago, but this story is about a fugitive, traveling the Slipstream, who needed a friend.


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 First off, Slipstream was blasted by critics and generally despised upon its release.

 Why do I tell you that from the get-go? Because for me it was one of those movies that, after you watch it, you say to yourself – “Why did everyone hate this thing so much?”

To which I reply… “I dunno… it’s really kind of awesome.”


Slipstream is a post-apocalypse movie, or perhaps more specifically, a post-cataclysm movie.  Sometime in the future (we’re not told when), the Earth decides to rebel against mankind’s abuse and issues forth great calamities… earthquakes, floods, etc.

These events became known as The Convergence.  The Earth cracked and continents shifted.  Mountains rose and fell, oceans drained and flooded areas that had never seen water.  Cities were buried.   Our way of life was forever altered.

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Life goes on and people once again established communities.  People found residence within cave-ridden canyon walls.   They now shared their new home with others who were at one time thousands of miles away.

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The only real mode of transportation anymore is flight.  A massive river of air, aptly named the Slipstream, circles the globe and is used by folks to get from point A to point B.  You can often see scratch-built airplanes and hot air balloons overhead.


 

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Our story begins with a law enforcement officer (or what passes for one in this primitive landscape), Will Tasker (Mark Hamill) and his partner Belitski (Kitty Aldridge), hunting down an escaped murder, Byron (Bob Peck).  He is quickly captured and taken to a nearby settlement where we are introduced to Matt (Bill Paxton), a free-spirited bounty hunter.  Matt sees an opportunity to make some quick cash and makes off with Byron to claim the bounty as his own.  Tasker and Belitski soon give chase and the adventures ensue.  The group ends up battling the elements at every turn, getting caught… escaping… running into a religious cult that worships the wind as though it is some kind of God… and finding a sanctuary of lost art and knowledge.

Yes, there is most definitely a story here.  Each character is on a mission…

 

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Matt… the young, headstrong, free-spirited bounty hunter who knows there is more to life than what he’s been dealt, but lacks the maturity to fully realize it.  His is a tale of growth.

 

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Byron… the man who wants nothing more than to dream and find others of his kind.  Although considered a murderer, his is a confusing tale and may well be worth the admission price alone.

 

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Tasker… Living life by the book and bringing justice to the wasteland of the old world.  Almost Max Rockatansky’esque,  he will use any means necessary to capture his prey.  There are no grey areas with him, only black and white.

 

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Belitski… She tags along with Tasker, but things aren’t so cut and dry with her.  Secretly she hopes for something better.  By the end of the film, you find out if she finds it.

 


 

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The film was produced by Gary Kurtz and directed by Steven Lisberger (who also directed TRON).   Kurtz was, at one time, the second half of the George Lucas team… producing both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.  Kurtz and Lucas split before Return of the Jedi and Kurtz went on to produce The Dark Crystal.

Hoping that Slipstream would be his “Star Wars”,  for one reason or another the film ultimately failed and ended up bankrupting Kurtz.


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Made in 1989, it wouldn’t be until 1992 that I would finally get to see this.  I went into a Blockbusters (remember those?) and saw it sitting amongst the other “straight to video” SciFi movies.

To be honest, I thought it was just pretty good;  until right about 15 minutes into it.

There was a song – more particularly, This Big Area by Then Jericho.  To understand why it affected me so much, we’d have to got back a couple of years and spend some time in a hot and dry part of the world full of nothing but sand, blood, and fear.

At the time, I was stationed in Germany.  A couple of days before we left for Iraq, I went to the PX and tried to think of any last-minute items I wanted to grab.  On a whim, I found an album by a group I’d never heard of to provide companionship to my Planet P Project, DEVO, and Rocky Horror Show soundtrack.

I took a chance and loved it!  That was one of four albums I took with me to the desert.  When I heard their music in this film,  I became flooded with nostalgia.  To this day, when I hear that music, it takes me right back to 1991.


The acting is damned good – as well it should be, considering the names involved… Mark Hamill, Bill Paxton, Kitty Aldridge, Bob Peck, Robbie Coltrane, Ben Kingsley, and F. Murray Abraham.

I mean, c’mon… look at Hamill for instance… what a badass!  Bob Peck is simply incredible.  Paxton is… well, Paxton, and Coltrane… I bet you’d hardly recognize him.

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So , maybe you’ve asked yourself at some point “Why should I bother with this thing”… or “I’ve seen it, it sucked… why should I watch it again?”

To which I’d reply, there’s a story here… there’s more than one in fact.  Forget the special effects… each and every character has a story and a damned good one at that.

From a young hothead looking for a quick buck to finance his dream… to a cop who is trying to make the world a better place by following the word rather than the spirit of the law… to an android who wants nothing more than to be with his own kind… to a woman who doesn’t really know what she wants until she see’s it right in front of her…

Yes, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye.  If you’ve never seen it, try it out.  If you’ve already watched it, give it another chance… it might not suck nearly as much as you thought…

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But wait!  There’s more!  As a special added bonus… here is a video of the making of Slipstream.  Enjoy!

 

 

The Future Drift…Guest Blog from Drew Avera

It’s been at least a couple of years since I first met Drew Avera (real quick – his last name is pronounced “averee”… yeah, I know… I screwed it up too).  I’d read a few of his books (in fact, a couple of them were some of the earliest ebooks I had downloaded) and then ended up running into him on Facebook and Twitter.  We’ve often conversed about various story ideas and I’d pick his brain about his indie-author career.

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Drew’s been writing for a while now and has quite a library of stories.  It’s pretty crazy to see this much work come from someone with a full-time military career.  Drew is a Navy Veteran and that is one of the things that drew (Ha!) me to him.  One of the things that amazed me about him is the fact that he wrote his first book on an iPhone… yes, an iPhone.  How cool is that!

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Drew has recently been involved with some amazing anthologies… in fact, I remember when he just had a few books under his belt  – looking at his Amazon page today, it’s amazing to see how his library of work has grown.

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Let’s let Drew talk about his time at sea and how those experiences may well qualify him to crew a deep space starship one day…


One Hundred Days…

That’s the roundabout number of days it takes me to start shutting down on a deployment. It’s at this point when everyone around me starts getting on my nerves, the feeling of being a sardine packed tightly into a can makes me feel claustrophobic, and mild depression starts setting in. One-hundred days. It is a threshold learned over the course of four combat deployments on US Navy ships and it is part of the reason I write science fiction.

It is Memorial Day, at least right now it is, as my fingers strike the keys of my keyboard. A bit of laziness causes a typo, but it isn’t pure laziness, it is the exhaustion of almost two-hundred days of not being home. I’ve had eighteen days off out of the last two-hundred and only two or three more scheduled out of the next forty days. To say my “cycle” is a little off is an understatement, but I’m actually used to this lifestyle in a way a sick child is used to the needles injecting into his/her arm every day. It hurts, but you know it hurts, and then you just don’t care that it hurts.

I sleep in a coffin, six feet long, three feet wide, and three feet high. It’s open on one side, though the blue fabric curtain offers something like privacy. It’s low-tech in a high-tech world. I’m drifting on a war vessel capable of destruction the world hopes to never see and I am so numb to it that I barely recognize it for what it is. It’s the future exposed in the modern world. The confinement, the isolation, the stress, all of it will carry forward into the future drift as humanity expands its reach to the stars. We learn and we adapt to our surroundings. Sometimes it hurts, but eventually the pain of it dissolves, or we grow numb to it. This is how mankind will be taught to traverse their way into the unknown.

Deployments have extended, my own is no exception, the blow of knowing you will not be home on time tears a hole in your soul. The patchwork of moving past such heartache is the same as the numbing agent of making it one more day, followed by the next, and the next, and the next. Eventually, the days all stream together into an incoherent mass, indistinguishable from one another. It makes you feel a bit crazy to lose the concept of time, but eventually you are grateful for it, to not have the mark of individual days weighing on you like a burden you can never drop. It is a skill, in and of itself. Mostly, it is a learned trait that will be necessary to take us beyond our solar system, where the light of Sol is only present as a pinprick of light on the monitor feed of a generational spaceship.

The future drift is coming. Space exploration is becoming a privatized industry as governments fall out of competition and let the common man take over. I think it is better this way. Governments only serve to get in the way of expansionism, to use politics to say why we can’t do something. Instead, we will figure out how we can do it and then break those barriers down as we carry ourselves further into the expanse. Mars will be our neighbor, followed soon by the moons of the outer gas planets. Before long, the solar system will not contain us, though we will still be contained. The point when everyone starts getting on each other’s nerves, the feeling of being a sardine packed tightly into a can making them feel claustrophobic, and mild depression starts setting in. and then we will do it all over again, relearn new traits to deal with the pain, the isolation, the subjugation of captivity in the vacuum of space.

There’s a part of my soul that wishes to experience this, but I know I would hate it, and love it, and hate it. We romanticize what it would be like to explore the universe. We experience it in short duration as we watch television and movies depicting the dreams of mankind on a screen, the adventure laced with drama unfolding before our eyes. Those depictions leave out the innumerable moments of mere existence that carried the crew to the uncharted worlds they discover. Were they frozen in time, sleeping away relentless years without stirring, or were they awake for the ride, trapped in their own coffins to sleep away their lonely nights after a long days work? And what happens to day and night when the light of stars is too dim to distinguish one from the other? Will mankind care or will it become the numbed pain of learned association, the mind dealing with existence in a way that disassociates the person from reality, if only for a short while?

The future drifts, requiring us to learn what is necessary to take the next leap forward. Space exploration will not be abridged, shortened to eliminate the dull moments; the ones that make you feel alone in a sea of people, the ones where you miss home. The guarantee of adventure is as weak as the guarantee of immortality. Some lives may pass with nary a moment of exhilaration as other lives are bent and molded by new worlds, the challenge of adaptation forbearing in a way we can only imagine with weary eyes before we drift to sleep at night.

I’ve thought about it as I’ve been lulled to sleep by the gentle crash of waves against the ship. What would it be like to be anywhere but where I am now? What if I could change time and put myself in the future, in the drift of space, carried forward by momentum gained years prior? That is how we will explore, on the thrust of the generations who went before us. Can I count myself as that generation, or am I part of the world of forgotten scientific advancement? Are our achievements capable of being measured because they are important now? Or will the future nullify all we know in order to accommodate new sciences that will fit into their view of the universe? It’s hard not to want to know the answers, but what if they are disheartening? What if we never reach towards the stars? Is it a bigger crime than being forgotten by the sands of time?

Maybe, I just think about it too much. As the future drifts, so do I, upon the sea that countless generations sailed. There is a brotherhood of the sea, where men like me missed their families too. Perhaps they dared to dream of a future like I do, or perhaps they longed for the seas to dry and negate the need for ships that drive wedges between them and their families. Both are hopeful and hopeless, a duality, like a double-edged sword you are cut either way. Instead, I won’t think about the pain of the cut, but on the hopefulness of the future, drifting further away while being close enough I deceive myself in thinking I can touch it, to taste it, to smell its existence.

We will be among the stars again, because it is the stars from which we were born. Perhaps not our bodies, but in our dreams; born for more than the universe as we know it, but as we want it to be, and more.


Drew Avera, author of The Dead Planet Series, is a science fiction author and active duty Navy veteran. He lives in Virginia with his wife and children. You can learn more about Drew by visiting his website at www.drewavera.wordpress.com

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Please take a moment to check out Drew’s Amazon page.

I want to thank Drew for writing this guest post for my blog.   Thanks, Drew!

Oh, did I mention that Drew has recently been absorbed into The Collective and chosen to be a Scribe for The God Machine?

No?

Huh…

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You can find Drew at the following locations when he’s not tethered to an omnipotent machine or sailing the seas…

Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

A Corporately Sponsored Apocalypse – Guest Blog by Joe Turk…

I’m often contacted by authors who ask if I wouldn’t mind reading their work and posting a review.  I try not to make a habit of this as it makes me uncomfortable, so my answer is usually “I’m sorry, but no.”

But once in a while, one will come along and my gut tells me to do it.  Such is the case with Joe Turk and his book, Making Monsters.  Joe seemed a bit apprehensive about asking me to take a look at it as he worried it wasn’t something that fit perfectly into my preferred genre.  After taking a quick glance at a sample on Amazon, I found that it looked incredibly interesting and Joe seemed like a very talented fella.  In fact, I was so impressed with his writing, artwork, his quick wit and personality, that I asked if he’d write a guest blog.

I’m really glad he said yes.

I’m a big fan of knowing the why’s and wherefore’s of apocalypse tales.  Joe does an amazing job of painting a picture (Ha!) of a world that reminded me of Dr. Strangelove meets the Lovecraftian Mythos.  The thing is… he is using real-world events – things that are actually going on right now, that may very well result in a very, very unhappy ending.

So, with no further ado, here’s Joe Turk…


 

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Dystopian humor with an apocalyptic chaser…

Since the start of things, doomsayers have walked dirt paths, ringing bells and warning all within shouting range about the end of days. Over time, these harbingers of doom became part of our literary and cinematic history. I can’t think of an apocalyptic story that doesn’t have a character sounding an alarm and warning everyone to prepare for disaster. So when I sat down to write a predictive tale about the last days of man on earth, I knew I wasn’t writing a new story. This made ask, why bother writing it all? Does the world need another cautionary tale? There are enough novels about the apocalypse. Why don’t I just order a pizza and level up my warlock?

And then my house started shaking again. Stuff would fall off the walls and I could hear the wood structure above my ceiling popping and creaking. Here’s the thing, we have ‘manmade’ earthquakes where I live. Before 2008, we had two or three a year. (Magnitude 3.0 or bigger) Then we became ground zero for hydraulic fracking. Two years later, in 2010, we had 45 quakes. Last year we had 857. Yes, from two or three per year, to 857 earthquakes in a single year.

So everything is rattling around and I’m sitting on the couch thinking, somebody should really do something about this. This is craziest thing I’ve ever experienced. There’s a group of people sitting around a conference table, orchestrating manmade-natural disasters for profit. If this were a movie, there’d be an arch villain behind an ornate desk, tenting his fingers and counting his gold coins. Except this isn’t a movie. This is really happening.

I was getting very upset about my house getting twisted apart by people I can only assume are trying to break some kind of record for wealth collection. So I started writing down ways I might find and murder those at the top of the responsibility ladder. At first, I had no plans to publish anything. It was anger management therapy. A vent for my earthquake related anxieties. I had to purge the rage so I didn’t end up like Ted Kaczynski, eating wild berries and taping matchsticks together. But the earthquakes kept happening. At this point, I started restructuring my murder notes into a story and researching details about other environmental disasters.

K8Es2LBOThis fiery sinkhole was created almost fifty years ago by a Russian drill rig in Turkmenistan. The ground collapsed and methane gases started escaping. They lit the hole on fire, thinking it’d burn off the gas in a few days. It’s still burning. You can see it on google maps right now.

 

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This is a 750 yard long crack in the ground that opened up overnight in Wyoming last October. They do a lot of fracking out there in Wyoming. It’s hard not to think this spontaneous canyon is related to the practice of exploding chemicals beneath the ground.

The more nonfiction I read, the more I believe in the possibility, or inevitability, that we will create bigger and more catastrophic disasters as our technology advances. If you believe in the butterfly effect, it’s easy to think we’ve already set off a chain reaction of catastrophes that will eventually make the newly named ‘Anthropocene era’ the shortest, and perhaps last, era on the planet earth.

For reasons I probably shouldn’t detail publicly, this idea pleases me. If I’m honest, I root for the disasters in disaster movies. I watch the hero disassembling the nuclear bomb and quietly pull for it to explode. Sure, the practical, homeowner side of me wants the earthquakes to stop. I’m pro-environment. Let’s save the world! But I’m also pro-apocalypse. And the irresponsible kid in me that loves apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories wants to see the spectacle promised by the collapse of a civilization thought too big to fail. Who knows, it might be a good thing. Maybe a reboot is the catharsis the species needs. If nothing else, it’ll provide answers to the questions posed by artists, musicians, and writers for centuries now: will human beings stay civilized if our infrastructure collapses and people are forced out of their automated, daily routines? Or will the sophistication peel off as we return to a more animalistic nature. How will we behave if the buildings come down and we have to live off the land again?  The apocalypse and post-apocalypse promise to teach us something about ourselves.

Until that day, I’ll be over here yelling about environmental catastrophes and ringing my doomsday bell. Forgive me if I do this with an excited smile on my face.

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So there he is… Joe Turk.  Remember his name – I bet you’ll be hearing more of it in the coming years.  You can find him on Amazon , Twitter, Goodreads, and DeviantArt.

I highly recommend his book, Making Monsters.  It is, in his own words, “More like dystopian humor with an apocalyptic chaser.

Before we go, I’d like to showcase some his artwork.  Joe is an incredible artist and his style is amazing!  He posts his artwork on DeviantArt and Twitter, often showing the varying stages, from concept to final product.  Awesome stuff!

This painting is about being tethered to multiple, sometimes incompatible, personalities. “Knots” — Oil on canvas…

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“The Complainer”…

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This painting is about pretending to be something you’re not and ending up with something you didn’t want…

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Finding Hope on a Cold, Dead World… guest post from Jesse Mercury.

A dear, late friend of mine once said, “Sometimes you just get the measure of somebody online. A consistent vibe that “this is a good person”…

That is precisely how I feel about Jesse Mercury.  We started following each other summer of 2015.  I had  visited his website and youtube channel and when I saw that his songs were 1) science fiction in theme, and 2) synthpop, I was enthralled.

The first one I listened to was “Elliott“, and I swear (and if I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’) I don’t recall a song ever having an effect on me like that one – ever.  You can read about that mind-blowing experience here, if you’d like.

Jesse is not only an incredible musician and synthpop artist, but he’s also one of the most interesting SciFi fans I’ve ever met and someone I’ve come to consider a friend.  He lives and breathes science fiction.  The way he’s incorporated the genre into his music is simply amazing.  His songs run the gamut from humor to pain, from loss to love.

He has also created and hosts two podcasts… SciFi with Jesse Mercury and SciFi on Trial.  I strongly urge you to take a listen – I bet you’ll subscribe.

So, with no further ado, here he is… the man from the year 3000, trapped in ‘modern day’. Making SciFi Synthpop and hosting podcasts to pass the time until holodecks are real and he can finally find a way back home…


Finding Hope on a Cold, Dead World

I was young when I started writing songs. It was an unintentional byproduct of teaching myself guitar and having no idea what to play. I made up three chords and felt a moment of pure rightness as I began to weave word and tune together. My burgeoning repertoire began to grow, and I realized how much there was to say about the seemingly insurmountable troubles one might experience as a suburban teenage boy. Growing pains, crises of self, and the myriad Shakespearean tragedies of my first breakups. Songwriting was my therapy, and the music reflected that. I found perfection in the process, the crafting of a simple phrase to encapsulate the powerful emotions I was growing into, learning to handle them as I matured. It was a blissful exercise in creativity, vital to my emotional development. The results were varied in listenability, but invariably personal. From the outside it must have seemed like listening to a diary made audible, which in retrospect may have been uncomfortable to anyone who knew me personally.

Then something truly difficult happened. My health mysteriously and violently vanished shortly after my 24th birthday. One day I was biking across my native San Diego, jogging and playing racquetball to my heart’s content, the next I was in the emergency room with inexplicable muscle spasms, cognitive issues, intense body weakness, and vision flashes. It seemed like i had dived into a strange alternate reality nightmare, in which my worst fears regarding degenerative health were coming true. My symptoms were so strange that the doctors thought I was having a stroke or manifesting some auto-immune disorder, or just faking for pills. For the next year I lived on the couch, sustained on a steady diet of science fiction television as I visited countless doctors in search of that elusive diagnosis.

My symptoms were myriad, but it was the cognitive issues and muscle spasms that were the most frightening. There were days I couldn’t walk down the hall on my own because my legs would be shaking so bad, or even worse were the days where I couldn’t get my brain to convince my legs to move at all. I vanished from my job, my social circles, and the life I had built for myself after college came to an end. My doctors casually dropped small terrors such as viral brain infection, multiple sclerosis, guillaine barre, and a multitude of other horrifying conditions that could be causing my bizarre physical manifestations. Perhaps most frightening of all were the doctors who threw up their hands in exasperation, proclaiming that their inability to come up with answers could only mean one thing: that I was making the whole thing up.

Songwriting had been my greatest outlet up until that point, and one day in the middle of this confusion and pain I decided to write. For the first time I had something truly terrifying to write about, something that had shaken me to my core and upset the balance of my existence. I sat down at my workstation with my close friend Dan manning the bass, whipped together some drum samples and digital synthesizers, and started a song about a time travelling hero who came from the past to end a future war. The first movement of Gustav Holst’s seminal work The Planets thundered in my ears, “Mars, The Bringer of War”. Suddenly I was outside of my body, flying through the cosmos in a universe full of possibilities. A new sonic landscape presented itself to me, one in which my deep need to create music and my lifelong obsession with science fiction converged into a tangible soundscape of synthesizers and dance beats. My imagination was captivated by cosmic potential, all thoughts far removed from earthbound ailments. The song became “Timechild,” and the SciFi Project was born.

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Eventually I would discover mold in my house, and my doctors suspected mold poisoning. The only real way to test environmental factors is to change environments, and a few short months later I found myself living in Seattle. My health improved to a degree when my environment changed, which felt like swimming up from a great depth but not quite reaching the surface. I was still hindered by constant pressure in my head and occasional relapses of my more violent symptoms. I continued to pursue an explanation, and was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic ocular migraines triggered by mold overexposure. While that diagnosis seemed anti-climactic and left many questions unanswered, it also prompted behavioral changes in diet and exercise that brought my health most of the way back. In many ways I was lucky, I gained an intensely valuable perspective on the relationship between health and happiness. My understanding of self bottomed out, and a new awareness started to form in its wake.

An experience like that marks a person. The things I cared about, (and perhaps more importantly, the things I didn’t) shifted dramatically. I used to be obsessed with being the best at whatever I was engaged in, be it songwriting, performing, recording, mixing, mastering, all of it. That’s too damn much for one person, and it was fueled by ego as much as passion. Now I’m obsessed with happiness and fulfillment. I want to spread joy and an ethos of compassionate acceptance through my art. I want to be the ultimate expression of myself, and take each moment of health as a gift to be treasured. I want to take what I’ve learned and apply it as a positive vision of the future towards which I can strive. Luckily, I already found the avenue to accomplish all of those goals: The SciFi Project.

In my estimation, those to whom science fiction speaks the loudest are the dreamers and thinkers that are capable of shaping a better future. SciFi captures our collective imagination, and drives us to reevaluate our own existence through the lens of alternate technology, time, science and culture. By writing songs in the SciFi genre I strive to participate in that noble pursuit, but I’ve also discovered an incredibly powerful form of self expression.

My song, “Elliott,” is a great example, and the reason I’m writing this piece for Evan’s blog. I wanted to retell the story of ET: The Extra Terrestrial through song, finding a way to encapsulate the powerful feelings of friendship and acceptance that I am overtaken with everytime I watch that film. As I worked on the song I realized I was singing about my own desire to be heard and accepted, as well as the powerful bond I share with my dog Miles (a creature as alien to me as ET to Elliott).

Evan and I started chatting on Twitter when our mutual interest in science fiction brought us together, and this song came on his radar. His reaction to it was the first time I have ever experienced the closing of an artistic loop, where a stranger discovered my work and related to it on the level through which it was intended. He posted on this very blog about what the song made him feel, saying, “I have spent this entire weekend listening to this song. It brings a tear to my eye every time. It awakens the child in me. It brings a smile to my face and lets me become that child again, waiting for a stranger from the stars to come down and become my friend…

Reading those words touches me every time, because it marks my first true success at reaching out through music to positively affect the life of someone I’ve never met. If the destruction of my old life is what it took to get there, maybe it was all worth it.

The SciFi Project now includes my continually growing collection of music, videos, and podcasts. I’ve started to amass a body of work that not only delights me, but seems to speak to people without the prerequisite of knowing me personally. I’ve started to tell my own SciFi stories through music, in the hopes that I can deliver emotional messages of similar impact through original content. I believe my first true success in this is my as-yet unreleased song, a post-apocalyptic journey through the wasteland called “Cold, Dead World.”

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My songs often germinate deep in my subconscious, developing into fully fleshed out ideas before I ever attempt to sing or play them. Sometimes, entire backstories will present themselves as I weave a lyrical narrative. “Cold, Dead World” started in my imagination with a hazy vision of a single individual wandering through the bones of a dead planet, sole witness to the destruction of an alien civilization. I started crafting a backstory in which a human on Earth experiences bizarre visions of this dead planet as electronic alien organisms flood his body during a moment of accidental electrocution. Conveying the extreme emotional desolation of being sole witness to a post-apocalyptic wasteland was my goal as I wrote this song, but I soon realized this was born from my need to process my medical breakdown.

Being trapped in a body that has ceased to function correctly is an incredibly lonely and frightening experience. It manifested in violent ways that were readily visible to an outside observer, especially the muscle spasms and inability to process information normally. There was a sort of stripping away of my humanity, to be forced to jerk and spasm in front of someone against my will, having my weakness revealed indiscriminately. Before I was diagnosed I wondered daily if my issues were progressive, if eventually I would become trapped in my own body indefinitely. I don’t know how to express that emotion through simple words, but I believe I had done it through song. Although this song is not yet released, initial reactions from the work in progress have been emotional and extremely encouraging. It makes me feel heard and understood in an intensely powerful way, and my own burden of memory lessens.

We’ve all heard the old adage that artists need pain in order to create. As a youth my pain was personal, and in a way I needed drama and conflict to maintain a creative output. Now I experience a small degree of physical pain every day, but I have started to view it as a gift. It fuels my creative output, and channels itself into the bizarre and fantastic. It gives me a deep well to pull from, to fuel my passion and give meaning to my work. I’ll always have something to sing about. Maybe I’m lucky in ways I’m only beginning to understand.

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If you’d like to support Jesse Mercury and his SciFi Project, you can visit his Patreon page.

When he’s not riding the pulse of a quasar, you might run into Jesse  at the following coordinates…

SciFi with Jesse Mercury

SciFi On Trial

YouTube

Twitter

Facebook

Bandcamp

Attack of the Killer B’s…

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Back in 1992-1993, I was stationed at Ft. Carson, CO.  Assigned to a small Cavalry Squadron, attached to the 4th Infantry Division.

While it was normal for us to party on Friday nights only as soldiers can, my Saturday nights were dedicated to sitting in front of my TV with a pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk and a can of Pringles Cheezum’s (the daily running and PT kept the pounds off).

There was a late-night show on PBS that came out of Pueblo… Attack of the Killer B’s.  It was along the lines of Svenghouli, Elvira, etc..  Three guys (well, two guys and a skeleton hanging by manacles on the wall)… Dr. Reek A. Mortis, Sonny, and Skelvis.

They’d offer what you’d expect – campy humor and lots of banter, but the best thing they did was sing a song that was based on the movie.  It was just so damned ridiculous and fun.

Time counts and keeps counting…. as the years passed, I’d often think of that show, but the name escaped me.  I’d try searching the web for anything about this show and could just never find any information.  I had a few VHS tapes full of the shows, but the quality was so bad (due to aluminum-tipped rabbit ears), that they were hardly watchable after a few years.

A couple of days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine, telling him about this silly show I used to watch.  Lo-and-behold, the next morning, he sent me a couple of links to the songs on youtube!  At which point I immediately created a playlist and added them.

I wonder what ever happened to that Mad Doctor, his singing assistant, and that desiccated corpse of a fairly famous rock star?  Maybe someone out there who reads this will let me know.

So, here are just a few of my favorites from these guys.  Grab yourself a pint of ice cream, a can of your favorite Pringles, and have a little ridiculous fun…

 

 

 

 

Humanicide – a French Post-Apocalyptic Short Film…

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It must be almost a year ago now when I became interested in this project from the French film studio, Algo Studios.  I had followed them on Twitter and their Facebook Page, and although I don’t speak a lick of French, my computer does, so thank God for technology!  Guillaume and I would sometimes have dialogues back and forth and it was rather fun trying to figure out just what each of us were saying to the other (he does speak excellent English as far as I’m concerned).  Did I mention that I completely and utterly failed Spanish in High School?  Did I also mention that I was placed in a turbo-accelerated Russian Linguist course while in the U.S. Army – only to rock out of that sucker in 8 months?  Yeah, my chances of learning French were slim to none. 😉

 


 

Written and Directed by Guillaume Oger, Humanicide reminded me a bit of Falling Skies (without all of the constant yelling and screaming).  The story told the tale of a post-apocalyptic Earth…

40 years after the invasion… the world as we know it is no more.  While Humanicide seems inevitable, some men still try to escape…

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There are three main characters… well, I should say three human characters.  The antagonist  is a very cool, very evil looking (almost insect-like), floating alien robot that administers a “sting” to hapless humans.  It seems that there is an antidote of sorts which is able to counteract this “sting”, but it is obviously rare.  Also, the antidote needs to be administered in a timely manner or something (most likely an awful something) happens.

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The human characters are Paul (played by Audren Lancien)…

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Tripo (played by Florian Gounaud)…

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And a mysterious character I can only guess is called “The Man” (played by Philippe Stepniewski)…

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So today was the big day.  Guillaume contacted me this morning and told me that it would go live at 9:00pm France time.  Did I mention I suck at math as well as figuring out time zones?  Guillaume was kind enough to tell me that it would be 2:00pm here (man, he figured that out much faster than I would have).

So with no further ado… here is the post-apocalyptic short film I’ve been waiting a year for.  I’ve seen a lot of postapoc shorts…. I mean A LOT of them.  This ranks right up there with my favorites and I really hope that it becomes something bigger in the future…

 


 

Oh, and just one more thing.  Not to let things go to my head, but I saw a little something there in the end credits that made me go “Huh?!?!”…  I asked Guillaume what I could possibly have done to get my name in the credits.  He said that I was the first American to ever share and talk about his movie.  I cannot tell you how good it made me feel to see that.   Thanks, Guillaume, you are a seriously cool cat!

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1982… A boy sleeps outside, waiting to make contact.

Just this weekend, I discovered Jesse Mercury on Twitter.  Mr. Mercury is self-described as “a SciFi action hero from 2084, flung out of time with no way to get home. His only hope is to send musical signals into the cosmos in an attempt to attract a higher form of life capable of sending him back to his time.

From what I gather, he is a significantly massive fan of science fiction as well as a songwriter.  Upon going to his website, I was linked to youtube, where he has a number of of songs and videos posted.  There, I found songs that all had a science fiction theme, one of them being “This is Ceti Alpha V!” – a song based on Star Trek The Wrath of Khan.

One of them stood out to me… “A Love Song from ET to Elliot“.  I was 12 years old back in 1982.  The movie, E.T. The Extraterrestrial was a major passion of mine.  I had spent untold nights sleeping outside, under the stars.  Waiting for something to make noise in the shed.  I even went so far as to lay out a trail of Reeses Pieces, hoping that I would meet an alien who had been left behind and needed my help getting home.  An alien who would become my friend.

I have spent this entire weekend listening to this song.  It brings a tear to my eye every time.  It awakens the child in me.  It brings a smile to my face and lets me become that child again, waiting for a stranger from the stars to come down and become my friend…

 

You can find Jesse Mercury on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Bandcamp, and Instagram.

Attack on Titan… a guest post from author A.D. Bloom…

Attack on Titan (live-action 2015), Kronos Eating His Children, and what it takes to fight giant monster cannibals.

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First, the answer is yes. See it. For the record, I’ve only tasted bits of Attack on Titan’s previous incarnations. This is my first real Attack on Titan story and it was great. The detail put into sets and costuming consistently maintained the illusion that the world I saw extended far beyond whatever slice of it we got to actually see. The acting worked for me. The Titans turned out to be pretty satisfying giant monsters and I dug the story.

Right. Now that that part is out of the way, let’s talk about monsters.

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Okay, this is Goya’s painting of Saturn (Kronos, a Titan from ancient Greek mythology) eating his son (painted on the walls of Goya’s house with other pics between 1819 and 1823). Why is he eating his son? If I recall, he ate all his kids for fear they’d overpower him at some point. The horror in this painting has been haunting me for a long time. Cannibalism freaks my shit. I DON’T like cannibals. (It’s hard to like people that feed on other people). Make this figure in the painting bigger in relation to its snack, give him the coloring of a corpse and a vacant, eerily amused, and ravenous stare and you’ve got a live-action Titan. And they’re actually pretty terrifying the way they munch down on crunchy, juicy humans. They’ve got a distinctly Japanese flavor that evokes recollection of Japanese ghosts, spirits and cannibal demons depicted in classical Japanese painting and printmaking (also Butoh dance).

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But it’s the cannibal part that produces the most horror in my mind.

What gives? They’re not human. How can the Titans be cannibals?

OK. You’re right. Technically, Titans can’t be cannibals because they’re not eating the same species. BUT they look exactly like giant naked humans without nipples or genitals and they bite normal-sized humans in half and eat them. That’s cannibal enough for me, especially considering the context of this story.

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Spoiler free context: Walls high enough to keep out giants surround and protect (and imprison) the endangered humans and their town. Outside the walls there are Titans and they will eat you. Inside the humans seem safe, but they’re not.

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As far as I’m concerned, Titans are giant people eating other people. (This strikes a nerve with me as an allegory of something we humans do all the darn time in more roundabout ways.) Hold that thought.

So there I am, a third of the way through the movie, reeling from the cannibal horror that began before I thought it would and all I’m thinking is, “Dammit! Someone has to fight the giant cannibal kaiju!”

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But the humans seem terrible at it. This movie presents two kinds of humans – the ones that seek safety, and the other kind, the kind that are maybe more like the monsters. These are the ones that fight monsters, of course. And this is my favorite part of the story. You can fight the Titans and win, but only after paying a price. There’s always a price when you become a monster to fight one.

But I bet you knew that. In a way, you already know Attack on Titan. The same story has been retold for thousands of years. There’s a reason for that. It’s an important story. It’s one of our collective myths. This time around, the players are humans dying in a walled world and heroes that fight the terrifying man-eating Titans. Awesome.

A.D. Bloom is the author of the War of Alien Aggression and other books. His characters fight monsters.