Hello there, ladies and germs, and welcome to another Zombie Boy episode. Before we get to the meat of the matter, let me give a hearty thank you to illustrious webmaster Tim Malcolm, who submitted my Stuart Gordon column to IMDb.com. Against all reason, they put a link to it up on their front page. Seeing as how I visit that site on a near daily basis, that meant quite a lot to me. So, thanks again, Tim, and thanks to all of you who read this drivel. (PS: Muggs: I accidentally deleted the email you sent me before I got to read it. If you're seeing this, please resend it. Thanks)
Keep a close eye for Ketchum's cameo as a bartender
Now on with the show!
Since you are visiting this website and reading this column, I will assume you are at least somewhat clued in to upcoming films, so you've no doubt seen trailers or TV spots for I KNOW WHO KILLED ME. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Ugh. Lindsay 'Televised Train-Wreck' Lohan does horror-lite. Pass." Ordinarily, I would agree. But I stumbled upon a piece of information that changes my mind.
It was directed by Chris Siverston. If you don't know who that is, don't worry. His two other features films are not readily available. I just happened to be lucky enough to get a screening of one of those films, his adaptation of Jack Ketchum's furiously brutal novel, THE LOST, at last year's Horror Find convention. I was sweating it when I saw it, because I am such a huge Ketchum fan, and the book just seemed so unfilmable. It centers around an up and coming psychopath by the name of Ray Pye. The book and film both begin with Pye committing a casual atrocity to two innocent girls, girls whom he does not know nor has ever met before (one of whom is played by Erin Brown – more widely known as Misty Mundae).
Things then spiral out of control, as they often do, as Pye loses control more and more. Siverston achieves the epic feat of transferring this often gruesome subject matter to the screen flawlessly, helped in part by his wise decision to inject healthy doses of pitch-black humor into the proceedings. Pye's final explosion of torment towards the end will have you laughing while you are cringing.
His other feature has a funny story behind it, at least as it pertains to me. Back in my infant days of web-surfing, I happened upon a Yahoo! Group for a film called ALL
CHEERLEADERS DIE! I didn't really give it much attention. Even at that early stage, I was disgusting with how much of the web was full of braggarts and blowhards, people with much lip-service and little muscle behind it.
Will this goddamn film EVER get completed? *sigh*
Except this time I was wrong. Dead wrong.
You see, Siverston co-wrote and co-directed that film along with his good friend, a man by the name of Lucky McKee. Who went on to create the masterpiece that is MAY (in fact, Siverston directed the short film that Jeremy Sisto's character shows to May). I could have gotten in on the ground floor and befriended both of these fellows, but I blew it. Now McKee is making movies with the amazing Angela Bettis, and having people like Bruce Campbell play parts in his films (BC takes a turn in THE WOODS. A troubled distribution deal has kept it from being promoted like it should have been, but I strongly suggest you clap an eyeball on it).
In fact, it was through McKee's influence that Siverston ended up doing THE LOST. McKee, apparently quite a Ketchum fan, optioned that book for film, along with RED. Opting to tackle the latter, he gave the former to his old friend to run with.
RED is not as creepy-crawly as THE LOST, but it will still do a number on you. As is a recurrent theme in Ketchum's novels, aging and amiable Avery Ludlow is minding his business one morning, just getting some fishing done with his best friend and canine companion, Red, when three boys fall on him with minds for mugging. When Ludlow explains that he isn't carrying anything worth stealing, one of the boys decides it would be funny to blow Red's head off. At which point I was basically crying my eyes out. Not even fifteen pages into the book. Ludlow tries to seek justice in a reasonable, by the book fashion, but, of course, he gets none. Left with no other choice, a man with honor in his blood like hemoglobin must and will get satisfaction.
I feel it will take a deft hand to handle the catalyst of the story of RED without being cruel, and to keep Ludlow's aura of regular-guy-looking-to-right-a-wrong without losing sympathy for his plight by either making him shrill or a saint. Anyone who's seen McKee's other works (including his Masters of Horror episode SICK GIRL, also featuring Erin Brown) should have no doubt that he is the
man for the job. It also helps that his cast is a veritable who's who of genre cinema. I mean, Brian Cox, Amanda Plummer, Robert Englund, Ashley Laurence, and, of course, Angela Bettis. Sounds like rock-n-roll to me.
I only hope this movie is half as hard to watch as the book was to read
Lastly on the Ketchum film front is THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (this one doesn't appear to have a McKee/Siverston connection). I'm not afraid to tell you that I am very afraid of this movie. The book was an incredibly painful read. It chronicles the bondage and torment of a young teenage girl, in an up close and personal style that is more than a little uncomfortable. I wanted to put it down and never pick it up again many times, but it is so wonderfully written that I found myself dying to get back to it just as much as I was dying to never see it again.
The thing is, the girl is not tortured by monstrous people. There is an adult with an obvious psychological disorder, and then her children and their friend from next door, who is also the book's narrator. When the mother makes the treatment she gives the girl okay in the eyes of the children, it gives them license to act out all of the baser instincts of the human brain. The kind all of us have. You and me. Whether we want to acknowledge them or not.
I know nothing about the director, Gregory Wilson, but one of the screenwriters, David Farrands, is acting as producer for Virginia Madsen's new film, A HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT, which is supposedly filming here in my home state this summer. But that's another column.
For now, I strongly urge everyone to become familiar with the works of Jack Ketchum, because you will not be disappointed, and keep an ear to the ground for word on his three cinematic adaptations.
Oh, and give I KNOW WHO KILLED ME its day in court. From what I have heard, and what I already know about the talent of its director, it will probably prove to be more effective than the shitty trailers give it credit for. In a funny twist of fate, Siverston got the IKWKM gig based on the strength of the festival circuit response to THE LOST, a film which recently (finally) got a distribution deal due to Siverston having a major motion picture being widely released. Kind of like a fish eating its own tail. Or not.
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