Sunday, April 12, 2015

Wherein The Horror Aisle Meets The Movie Crypt...

Firstly, let me apologize for the unexpected and extended period of radio silence. Over the last few weeks I have been putting in between 75 – 90 hours between two jobs, and it has seriously cut into my time for writing. With that out of the way, let’s proceed…

On the evening of Wednesday, March 11th I (and a to-be-announced contributor to The Horror Aisle) attended a special event at the venerable Alamo Drafthouse location on South Lamar – a live edition of The Movie Crypt, hosted by Adam Green and Joe Lynch, accompanied by a double-feature of their respective new movies, Digging Up the Marrow and Everly. I was in no way prepared for what my admission fee would provide – close to six hours of entertainment, insight, vintage trailers, dirty jokes, laughs, and two kick-ass (and vastly different) films. Since the films were released by two different companies, this was a one-shot affair, and one that was not to be missed. If you were not lucky enough to be in Austin and attend, you can recreate the experience in the comfort of your own home by checking out Episode #95 here (http://geeknation.com/podcasts/the-movie-crypt-ep-95-live-in-austin-tx/) - so grab a copy of Digging Up the Marrow (out now) and Everly (out April 21st), along with your beverage of choice and strap yourself in!

The evening started, appropriately enough, with the theme from The Movie Crypt, some patented Adam and Joe banter, and some audience Q&A. Adam shared a story behind the creation of Marrow, which found its initial inspiration in a piece of fan mail that he received, claiming that Victor Crowley from the Hatchet movies was real, and offering to prove it. After seeing Alex Pardee’s art exhibit, the specifics of the film really began to take hold. Leading up to Digging Up the Marrow were three vintage trailers chosen by Adam Green which set the stage perfectly – E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, Nightbreed, and The Blair Witch Project. Just a word on that last one – I hate The Blair Witch Project with a burning, white-hot passion. I stood in line for close to three hours to see the movie on its opening night at the Dobie Theatre in Austin, and left the theatre looking like I had just walked through someone’s stinking clingy egg-fart. It was one of the most bullshit, disappointing movie experiences I have ever had (right up there with seeing Wolf opening night on mushrooms). All of that is to say that Marrow is emphatically not Blair Witch Project. It is not found footage, it is not a waste of 80-some-odd minutes of your life, and it does not end with some douche standing in the corner.  So now that we’ve addressed the elephant in the room, what exactly is Digging Up the Marrow? It is a fictional documentary (not a found footage film or mockumentary, and I think that is a very important distinction to make) inspired by the art of Alex Pardee and some of Adam Green’s own experiences.

I’ll try to stay clear of any spoiler-ish material here so that folks who haven’t yet seen this movie can experience it fresh. In Digging Up the Marrow, Adam Green plays a fictionalized version of himself (similar to his work in Holliston, though obviously played less for laughs). Green receives a package from someone called William Dekker (played to perfection by Ray Wise), who claims to be able to prove that monsters exist and wants Green and his team to help tell his story. Dekker claims to have discovered a world, just under our own, which he calls “The Marrow” where these “different people” live and have developed their own civilization.  Green and his crew begin the process of interviewing Dekker and reviewing his tale, difficult to believe though it may be. After some preliminary interviews, the documentary team travels with Dekker to a secluded cemetery where an entrance to The Marrow supposedly exists. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to state that eventually the team finds what they are looking for before the film takes some surprising left turns. The glimpses of creatures created from Alex Pardee’s art are a highlight of the film, along with Ray Wise’s performance.  If you have enjoyed Adam Green’s previous work in film or television, I can fully recommend this movie. Just don’t think of it as a mockumentary or a found footage film. [In the spirit of full disclosure, I won a copy of the Blu-Ray of Digging Up the Marrow at this screening after asking a question about working with Ray Wise.]

Between the movies, there was time for a post-Marrow Q&A. And for those of you keeping score at home, Joe Lynch’s suggestion for a sequel to It Follows called She Swallows was inspired by my wonderfully offensive sweatshirt from T-Shirt Hell, the design for which can be found here (http://www.tshirthell.com/funny-shirts/she-swallows). Important tidbits shared include Adam’s art preferences, the connection between Marrow and Citizen Kane, the potential for a sequel, and the hopes for a third season of Holliston (along with some of the challenges involved in bringing that to fruition). Adam shared a story highlighting the importance of being kind to the people you work with, no matter in what stage of your career you might find yourself, which was, dare I say it, touching and definitely deepened my respect for him.  Joe also got a chance to share some behind-the-scenes stories, including gems about showing Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer during the filming of  Everly and being surprised that some attendees from the country that gave us A Serbian Film walked out of the movie, as well as an anecdote about Peter Dinklage’s LARP battle skills on the set of Knights of Badassdom.

Before you knew it, the lights were again dimmed for the vintage trailers chosen to precede Joe Lynch’s Everly.  This time we were treated to From Dusk Till Dawn, They Called Her One Eye, and Blood Simple. Everly is a taut and thrilling action movie that, for much of the film, plays out in the titular character’s apartment. Lynch proudly wears his many influences on his sleeve (you may find nods to and echoes from films such as Die Hard, Thriller, Ichi the Killer,  Big Trouble in Little China, Tenebre, and many more), and this coupled with a go-for-broke performance from Salma Hayek had me hook, line, and sinker. Hayek plays Everly, a beautiful woman and mother to a young daughter trapped by her gangster lover Taiko in a life of prostitution and sexual slavery of which she is trying to break free. Taiko discovers her intentions and places a price on Everly’s head, causing all hell to break loose and a number of assassins, trained and otherwise, stream into her apartment in an attempt to claim the bounty.  What follows is a claustrophobic mixture of action, thriller, and horror, the majority of which takes place in Everly’s apartment.  There is a sequence near the end of the film that opens up the world a bit, and the way it was filmed reminded me of some of Dario Argento’s spectacular work during one of the murder scenes in Tenebre, providing you with both a greater sense of the geography of the apartment building where much of the action has occurred as well as a glimpse at the larger world outside. It was a surprising and impressive shot in a movie that had mostly held close to tight quarters.


Though the films shown were markedly different (and distributed by different companies), this double feature was a cohesive experience, anchored by the podcast sequences before, between, and after the films. Adam Green and Joe Lynch seemed as excited to be a part of the evening as did the attendees, and after the event was over they spent plenty of time in the lobby conversing with fans, taking pictures, and signing posters, DVDs, and other memorabilia. Despite staying up way too late on a work night, I’ll be the first to say that the time spent (and sleep lost) were well worth it, and I’d like to offer a hearty (if belated) word of thanks to Joe Lynch, Adam Green, and to the Alamo Drafthouse for an incredible evening.