No ‘bigatory’ in ‘American Juggalo,’ just awesomeness.
En route back to Oklahoma City from Austin, Texas, this weekend, I listened to a lot of episodes of the “Doug Loves Movies” podcast that had been piling up on my iPhone. On one, host Doug Benson’s guests included two music podcasters who came armed with lists of their favorite “rockumentaries.” Among their tops were “The Kids Are Alright,” “Some Kind of Monster” and “Dig!”
I’d like to think if only they’d appeared several weeks later, they would’ve had “American Juggalo” on their list. Oh, if only!
Directed by Sean Dunne, this 22-minute nugget could be two hours and 22 minutes, and I’d still be riveted to every minute. Armed with two Sony EX3 cameras, Dunne attended the Gathering of the Juggalos, the annual festival held by Insane Clown Posse, either the most beloved or reviled musical act of our generation. He asked questions; he got answers.
Boy, did he ever get answers. NSFW alert: Very few do not use the word “fuck” in some form or fashion. (Example: “I’m fucked up on E and vodka.”)
The results are fascinating, and speak for themselves ...
When the next installment of PBS’ Emmy-nommed documentary series “Craft in America” premieres Oct. 17, it’ll feature an Oklahoma connection.
Guthrie’s own Lisa Sorrell will be among the four families featured on the “Family” episode, which aims to answer the question of whether talent is passed down from generation to generation. Sorrell is a bootmaker who opened her own business, Sorrell Custom Boots, customboots.net more than 15 years ago.
For a polar-opposite experience, Oklahoma City’s Lekeytha Dukes will appear on the Oct. 6 episode of “Judge Joe Brown.” She’s suing her brother, Randell Dukes, for $650. According to a CBS press release, the money was “for a loan the defendant used to promote a concert. Lekeytha says the defendant promised to repay her within a few days, but never did. Randell says he lost money on the concert and doesn’t feel he owes the plaintiff because he baby sits her kids for free all the time.” —Rod Lott
Pacino brings his brand of ‘Heat’ to our sweltering state.
“Say hello to my little friend!”
“Attica! Attica! Attica!” “I am the law!”
“You ever take a dump made you feel like you'd just slept for twelve hours?”
No doubt about it: Al Pacino is a living Hollywood legend, with an Academy Award on the mantle and his legacy in cinematic history secured.
So why, then, is he appearing next Friday night, Oct. 14 at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville? Does he owe Beverly D’Angelo several months’ child support or something?
Either way, he is, and you can be one of the 1,600 lucky people to have an audience with him. At 9 p.m. Oct. 14, Pacino will give a one-man show about his career, rife with backstage scuttlebutt and film clips. A Q-and-A will follow. If I could be there, I’d ask him about that time Ben Stiller portrayed Pacino auditioning for the kiddie film “Beethoven.” (Didn’t see it? Skip to the 7:53 mark ...)
Tickets are $85 to $150. Call 800-622-6317 or visit winstarworldcasino.com. —Rod Lott
With today marking the 162nd anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death, the trailer debuted for next March’s “The Raven,” a mystery-thriller that stars John Cusack as Poe.
My take: Perhaps the third time will the charm for director James
McTeigue (“V for Vendetta,” “Ninja Assassin”). Being a longtime reader
of Poe, this one looks packed with elements straight from his stories,
including “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Premature Burial,” “The Cask
of Amontillado,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Murders in the Rue
Morgue” and, duh, the poem from which the flick takes its title.
Plus, I’m also a fan of Alice Eve’s curves.
But March 9, 2012, is a long way away. Until then, Relativity Media offers these 20 “unusual facts about Poe, the ‘Enigmatic Master of Darkness’”:
• Poe wrote a fabricated news story of a balloon trip across the ocean to garner attention and publicity in New York City.
• Poe was a champion for higher wages for writers and international copyright law, as his writings were continuously published without him getting credit or compensation.
• Prior to becoming Poe’s wife at the age of 13, his female cousin Virginia acted as a courier, delivering letters to Poe’s lady loves.
• From 1949 to 2009, a mysterious figure has left a half-empty bottle of cognac and 3 roses on Poe’s grave every day on his birthday.
• Poe formulated rules for the short story, including that it should relate a complete action and take place within one day in one place.
• Poe was deeply interested by cryptography, the creation and translation of secret codes, and was very proud of his ability to translate them. He would challenge readers of various publications where he worked to send him codes to decipher and, by all accounts, he seemed able to unlock the secrets to any he received.
• Poe’s lifelong dream of owning and operating his own publication never came to fruition.
• Poe met with Charles Dickens while Dickens was in the U.S. on a lecture tour, and solicited his help with getting published in England — nothing ever came of it. • Poe’s grandfather was an important figure in the American Revolution, contributing a large sum of his own money to outfit local branches of the Continental Army.
• Poe’s grandmother, personally sewed over 500 soldiers’ uniforms for Lafayette’s troops as they passed through Baltimore.
• Poe joined the Army in 1827, lying to recruiters about his age and name. He also published his first collection of poetry during this time. He achieved the rank of Sergeant Major.
• Poe experienced periods of extreme destitution, often having to burn his furniture to keep warm during the winter.
• Poe successfully sought expulsion from West Point. That being said, he was one of the top students in his class.
• Wrote poetic tributes to all the pivotal women in his life.
• Poe had two biological siblings, but all were raised in separate foster homes.
• Poe’s childhood hero was Lord Byron.
• The Poe House and Museum in Baltimore is in jeopardy of being closed in mid-2012 due to Baltimore City budget cuts. The city eliminated the Museum’s funding in 2010.
• Edgar Allan Poe was buried in Westminster Burying Ground and had no headstone for years after his death. In 1860, Poe’s relatives commissioned a small headstone that erroneously listed Poe’s birth date as January 20 instead of January 19 and was destroyed in a train accident before it made it to the gravesite.
• In 1875 Poe’s remains were dug up and moved to a memorial site to be near his family and a gravestone was placed in the wrong spot and was moved around several times.
• This lead people to wonder not only where Poe’s original burial spot was but also if the man who was moved to the spot by the memorial is even Edgar Allan Poe. —Rod Lott
More yoga, Butterfingers, hairy bikers, Mick Jagger and walruses than your peepers can handle.
Lotsa local film and TV happenings are on the immediate horizon, so let’s run through them on the record so I can say, “I told you so!”
• Yo’ go see “Yogawoman,” a documentary on — wait for it — yoga and its influence on the modern woman. Narrated by three-time Oscar loser Annette Bening, the film screens Oct. 20 at Individual Artists of Oklahoma Gallery, 706 W. Sheridan. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.; drinks, appetizers and live music will be provided before the 8 p.m. showing. A recommended donation of $10 at the door will benefit the YWCA, and the screening is hosted by Yoga Room OKC. For more info, call Laura Lester at 823-7838. Check out the trailer or skip to the next item, about candy bars and serial killers.
• Fathom Events Presents “Fathom Thriller Thursdays” on Oct. 13 and Oct. 27. This is a fancy-sounding name for a double feature, one of which is a commercial directed by Rob Lowe, and the other like something my dad would watch on History Channel. At 7:30 p.m. both nights, see the horror-comedy featurette “Butterfinger the 13th,” followed by the documentary “Jack the Ripper: The Definitive Story.” You can see them at Cinemark Tinseltown USA, 6001 N. Martin Luther King, and Hollywood Spotlight 14, 1100 N. Interstate Drive in Norman. It’s not quite “The Exorcist,” but hey, it’s more Halloween-y than Fathom’s opera lineup.
• Speaking of History Channel, it debuts the reality show “Hairy Bikers” on Oct. 14, in which two guys on motorcycles (spoiler alert: the “Hairy Bikers” of the title) trek around the U.S., fueled by their passion for good food. On Friday’s very first episode, they visit Okahoma — specifically, Meers Restaurant, the Choc Beer Company and the Stroh Family Wheat Farm — all while you’re on your couch, eating a Hungry-Man Dinner. Again. (I should note that the bikers are British, but they do like hot chocolate.
• Speaking of Fathom Events, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 brings “The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas” to the aforementioned Hollywood Spotlight 14. The concert film was shot in Fort Worth on July 18, 1978, but has been digitally remastered in HD and features a new, 20-minute interview with Mick Jagger.
• For those who like their music less with less swagger, check out Lang Lang with the Philadelphia Orchestra for “Lang Lang Live on Franz Liszt’s 200th Birthday,” showing live at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 (with a replay Oct. 24), at Cinemark Tinseltown USA, 6001 N. Martin Luther King, and AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W. Memorial. At 200 years old, don’t you think Liszt is starting to look a lot like Jagger? We shall see. ‘
• Finally, local filmmaker par excellence Mickey Reece debuts his latest way-out effort, “Walrus,” Oct. 22 at City Arts Center, with a live music performance by Samantha Crain. It’s about underground arm wrestling, and Reece promises his “most alienating movie” yet, so take that as a gotta-attend! Your trailer awaits below, and look for my review in the Oct. 19 issue of Oklahoma Gazette. —Rod Lott
Not as great as Walken flying through a hotel, but still ...
Were you one of the 7.3 million viewers who broke a basic-cable record by tuning in to the sophomore-season premiere of “The Walking Dead”?
Yeah? How about that first half-hour, huh? Whoa! A series best, amiright? And zombies in church? Whaddup wit’ dat, huh? And that final shot, too! Wow! Hey, is it weird that even a dirt-streaked and sweat-stained Laurie Holden still sets my heart a-flutter? Agree — didn’t think so. Oh, and that stomach scene! Eewww! I know, right? Ha!
Regardless of whether or not that made any sense, feast your eyes on the trailer for “The Walken Dead,” brought to our attention by the good people of the Nerdist podcast. No, it’s not real. Yes, it’s funny. Yes, it could use more cowbell. —Rod Lott
OCU professor reveals how he harvested ‘Children of the Corn.’
Oklahoma City University clearly is in the Halloween spirit. It’ll screen 2001’s remake of “Children of the Corn” for free at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. tonight in the United Methodist Hall dorm theater room. Despite that strange-sounding setting, the public is invited.
What makes this interesting is that Fritz Kiersch, chairman of OCU’s Moving Image Arts Program, will discuss “Corn” between the showings, because he directed the 1984 original.
Five years ago, I interviewed Kiersch about making that minor horror classic — spawning a franchise that’s now up to part eight, with the brand-new “Children of the Corn: Genesis” — so why not yank it out of the Gazette archives to share it with you? Here goes!
FRITZ KIERSCH: ‘CORN’ FARMER Just think: Had economics graduate Fritz Kiersch not stood on Wall Street wearing the same blue seersucker suit as everyone else, the world may never have experienced the cinematic pleasure of seeing kids murder all the adults in their town and promptly establish a Satanic cult in the Nebraskan cornfields.
Today a department chair and artist-in-residence for Oklahoma City University’s Moving Image Arts Program, the Texas-born Kiersch was all set to embark on a career as an international banker when he was struck by the realization of how dull it would be and thought, “This is stupid. I’m outta here.”
One coastal switch later, Kiersch pursued a love of filmmaking that eventually would lead to his directorial debut on 1984’s “Children of the Corn.” Based on the short story by Stephen King (the first of his short fiction to make the jump to screen), the low-budget shocker starring a pre-fame Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton proved a sizable box-office hit — one that still enjoys a healthy cult following more than two decades later and spurred a profitable (if uninspired) franchise, currently six sequels strong.
Kiersch cut his artistic teeth making TV commercials. He got along well with an assistant director he hired, who went on to become an executive in charge of production for New World Pictures.
“One day he called and said, ‘Because you put all this ice cream in my freezer, I’m going to give you guys a chance to make a movie,’” Kiersch recalled.
Scripts followed; Kiersch declined. A couple months later, his friend pressed on with a script for “Children of the Corn,” telling Kiersch, “This is right up your alley.” Kiersch went in to talk and left with a green light; he was off scouting locations in Iowa the next day.
“I’ve never had such an easy motion-picture hire,” he said. “It was out of a fairy tale. People wait their lifetime for this kind of stuff.”
According to Kiersch, New World saw a lot of potential in King’s story “about children in an environment of terror.” Kiersch himself was game, seeing the trappings of the movie’s low budget as an opportunity for “a world of creativity and imagination and innovation.”
“The script was specific to a certain level of generality: corn fields, isolation, abandonment,” he said. “We had to fulfill those requirements … at a time when harvest was going on and the corn was turning from green — the good color — to dead yellow, which did not photograph very nicely. One day, we’d shoot, and return the next day and the corn would be gone or dead. So the invention came with ‘What do we do? How do we fix this?’ We took scissors (to the script) and literally cut around scenes to make things happen.”
Another challenge: The monster — known as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” — was never described in George Goldsmith’s script.
“So I invented everything,” said Kiersch. “I said, ‘On a dark country road when we were 12, every sound made us wet our pants. Over the wind! Let’s use those influences and do an homage to the horror movie on the B level.’”
This entailed a conscious decision to let the acting be stiff, the characters cardboard, the threats obvious and the monster intangible. Its terrifying menace would have to be suggested, via moving corn and upturned soil — effects creatively gained through no-nonsense use of fishing line and an upside-down wheelbarrow.
When it came time to blow up the monster at the end of the movie, “we were going to be able to make a 10-story fireball twice. The second time, it went off incorrectly,” Kiersch said. “The guy who loaded the gas pumps was drunk.”
With only one take to use, the new director realized it wasn’t visual enough … until a friend later let him crib some clouds from a Kawasaki ad to add in to up the ominous factor. Admitted Kiersch, “Luck played a tremendous element in the success of the film, but so did inventiveness and gut feeling and just the idea of honest filmmaking. We weren’t trying to be slick and cool; it was to be rough and pay tribute.”
It paid off. Shot over four weeks, “Children of the Corn” took in more than $10 million upon its release in spring 1984 — not bad on an investment that didn’t quite clear $1 million. Its true fortunes would be found on home video, first on VHS and then in DVD editions from Anchor Bay.
Critics were unkind — not surprising, given the genre.
“I was called ‘the hack’s hack,’” Kiersch remembered. “People looked at its value and said, ‘Here’s a story about children killing adults. This is not good!’ That was a big lesson for me. When you make a film, you don’t think globally about what you make, but when it’s released, it goes all over the world. You have to accept responsibility for it. I was completely naïve to that at the time.”
Said Gray Frederickson, a friend and collaborator of Kiersch, “Other than maybe ‘The Bad Seed,’ I don’t think there was a movie where the kids were the bad guys. It was a very unusual first experience for people to see kids doing bad things.”
One of the harshest critics was King himself. Perhaps already indisposed to like the film since his own screenplay had been jettisoned — Kiersch said King was “not a competent screenwriter at the time” — the best-selling author penned a savage letter to the director and studio, claiming they “destroyed” his source material. Said Kiersch, “He was somewhat angered and frustrated.”
Because of “Corn”’s success, Kiersch fielded numerous offers for more spook shows — “Howling II,” “Nightflyers” and, he said, “movies about worms and Native American shape shifters.” Instead, he turned them all down and went on to direct several movies involving kids and teens — though far less homicidal — like “Tuff Turf” with James Spader and Robert Downey Jr.
“I just didn’t want anything to do with horror, because I felt that was not where I was strong,” he said. “But what I’ve realized retrospectively over the years is horror is a form of storytelling where you can do things outside the norm and play around.”
Eventually, he returned to deal in dread. And all it took was a move to Oklahoma City. In 2000, he was recruited by Frederickson — an Oscar-winning producer of “The Godfather” films and “Apocalypse Now” — to make movies in Oklahoma for Graymark Productions.
Lensed in Meridian, Norman and Oklahoma City, “The Hunt” is the first result of that partnership, about a group of hunters having the tables turned on them. “Surveillance,” a Penn Square Mall-shot thriller with horror elements, soon followed with star Armand Assante.
“We love the pictures he’s done for us,” said Frederickson. “He doesn’t subscribe to the new slasher school of horror, like ‘Saw’ or ‘Hostel.’ He’s more of the Kubrick/Hitchcock guy, and he’s very good at it.”
“Suggestion is far better,” agreed Kiersch. “I think it’s cool to manipulate an audience, to sucker punch them. I love watching an audience that talks back to the screen.”
He said he will “try my best” to make all his films from here on out. “I’m very proud to be a part of this community. Our creative energies are terrific here.”
Odds are, none will have the shelf life of “Corn,” but that’s OK by him.
“It’s nice,” he said of its enduring legacy. “It’s just one of those things in your life that, for whatever reason, sticks around. I’m proud of it. I came up with something that has generated a particular reference in American pop culture. Even though it’s not a positive reference, it’s cool.”
Told of recent whispers that Hollywood has eyes on remaking his baby, Kiersch sighed, “Oh, my. Life is getting boring if they want to redo this.” —Rod Lott