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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Beyond the Grave (Porto dos Mortos) 2011

Production Company: Lockheart Filmes Ltda. 

Title: Beyond the Grave

Original Title: Porto dos Mortos

Spanish Title: Más Allá de la Tumba

Year: 2011

Country: Brazil

Certificate: UR (Unrated)

Language: Portuguese with English/Spanish/French subtitles

Genre: Supernatural “road movie”

Budget: US$ 150.000,00 (one hundred fifty thousand American dollars) 

Running Time: 89 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1

Shooting Format: HD/Color

Final copy: HDCam SR 

It's not often that one receives an email from Brazil, in fact I could safely say that it's a distinct first for me. I have had quite a few in the past from a variety of African countries who have kindly advised me on a number of occasions that I have come into substantial amounts of money, apparentley all I have to do is send them my bank account details and the transaction will be swift and easy. As yet the funds haven't shown, but I'm sure that's just a minor banking glitch....

Anyhoo, about the email from Brazil. The message was from Isidoro B. Guggiana, who is the publicist and executive producer for Lockheart films, a Brazilian film company. Isidoro suggested that I might be interested in giving my opinion on a feature film that I must confess I hadn't heard of before now -  Beyond the Grave, or to give it it's original Portuguese title, Porto dos Mortos. See? Not only does this blog provide witty, intelligent and informative scribblings on Sci-fi, fantasy and horror (No, it really does!) - it also provides lessons in developing your multi-lingual skills. Who says that I don't provide a variety of important cultural services?

Isidoro also referred to the movie as "  a very unusual art-house horror", the first-time feature by Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro, who is a director, writer and producer of short and feature films. Sadly, it is quite clear that Davi hadn't worked with anybody noteworthy during his career before Beyond the Grave, just some guys including David Lynch, Phillip Glass and Wim Wenders, whoever the heck those people are.......

Of course I was interested. In fact I was well and truly hooked, together with the requisite line and sinker even before watching the film - It was the chance to see something different and unusual from a part of the world whose horror production quite frankly is something of a blind spot for me. Besides which, I quite enjoyed writing names such as Isidoro B. Guggiana and Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro.....

So what about the non-spoiling plot? Well, in a nutshell....

" In a devastated post-apocalyptic world where the rules of reality are transformed by magic and madness, a vengeful police officer searches for a possessed serial killer. He finds in his way groups of survivors. Some violent, some struggling to get by in this new place full of mystical dangers where humanity seems on the brink of extinction. Shooter and Nina, a couple of teenagers are the first living souls to cross paths with the Officer on his quest for the Dark Rider, a mystical man who has cost the lives of several people. The younglings have lost loved ones to the killer and they seek revenge. Advised by the Officer to let go of it, they insist on being a part of the quest. "

For a quick taste of the film, have a look at the youtube trailer below....

Beyond the Grave (Porto dos Mortos)

Quite frankly, Beyond the Grave is difficult to categorise, which for those who like to have their selective horror-niches complete with the requisite tried and tested step by step formula, that fact alone will quite simply annoy the heck of of them. This is a deliciously enjoyable film which has any number of influences that the director is paying homage to; it is part science fiction, part supernatural, part road movie, part Spaghetti western, part Zombie apocalypse, part horror, part art-house and part Avant-Garde. While we're at it we could certainly find in the movie more specific influences such as Mad Max, Stephen King's Dark Tower series and at at least two specific Sergio Leone productions. These ingredients, under the writing and directing skills of Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro, result in the most exquisite and innovative examples of recent cinema that it has been my privilege to see. 

I will warn you now though. If you are an 'all-action, everything is explained and nicely wrapped up at the end ' sort of viewer - then this film may not be for you. I don't usually read any reviews of a film before writing my own, for obvious reasons, but in this case I thought I would have a quick look. There are numerous positive references to the film, but I wanted to look at a couple of the negatives, because I knew that there would be some that would spectacularly miss the point of what I believe the director was trying to achieve - and boy was I correct. 
Yes, this movie is slow paced on occasion with periods of screen time where nothing appears to be happening, but when I read one particular review bemoaning the fact the "the movie has no sense of humour whatsoever", well I had to chuckle. The same review then went on to make reference to the 'mish-mash' of genres and the director not being able to make his mind up within which particular genre the movie should take place. Deerie me.

It's rather obvious that the director's intention from the start was to was to create an idiosyncratic world, full of vacant areas inhabited by desperate characters who are hanging onto to the very fabric of existence by their fingernails. There is an underlying sadness to both the characters and the post-Apocalyptic landscape that permeates throughout. Yes, anonymous and foolish reviewer, I can see how the humour would well and truly fit into this particular movie. It's a genuine potential Monty Python riot of jocularity.

In regard to the 'miss-mash of genre' comment - Well by chance I had read a review for another film earlier this week where the spoiler strewn piece also found fault with the fact that, in his eyes, the slasher movie in question failed to live up to the recognised procedure of what should happen within a typical film of it's type. He/She evening stating at one point "Everyone knows that a slasher movie should open with a really cool kill......." Give me strength. 

I personally loved (as do many others) that Beyond the Grave was an explicit attempt from the filmmaker to clearly challenge our notions of genre, providing a vision of filming that doesn't want to be contained by the shackles of pigeonholing which some horror fans seem to desire. Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro takes chances with his audiences expectations, and we should applaud that. 

An example of how Davi challenges our expectations of the horror element is how the undead are presented and treated here. I've mentioned before how the current fashion for Zombies one day will drift away, but not just yet it seems as the flagship darling of the Zombie loving brigade (of which I count myself as one) will no doubt say as we kneel at the alter of The Walking Dead TV series. However, Zombies are in real danger of becoming cliched and cinematic carnboard cut-outs, particularly on film - they growl, they shuffle and they chase (in their shuffling kind of way) in an effort to violently eat people - and that's about it.

But in this movie, the zombies have been provided with a sprinkle of 3 dimensional originality. We are asked not only to empathise with their plight but to sympathise too as we watch them interact with each other. We observe them feeding each other for example - ok, they are feeding each other the flesh of the living, but it's still touching! In addition to that we have the officer's ex-partner, now one of the undead and also blind, who is viewed as a figure of tragedy, not a 1 dimensional example of uncontrolled violence. Yes, they are also chilling and violent, but there is a texture to their representation that is truly refreshing to see.

Mention should be made too the the film's cinematography, which is simply lovely. The Director of Photography, Melissandro Bittencourt perfectly captures the landscape and desolation of a world that has drifted over the edge. It certainly helps that the city of Porto Alegre is an incredibly visual city, and I must admit to knowing little about the place. We are treated to a tapestry of different vistas each providing a distinctive post-apocalyptic texture, where we constantly observe the ongoing victory of the natural world over the dying urban world of concrete and steel.

I do need to talk briefly about the soundtrack of this film, it is quite simple a joy. I mentioned earlier that there is a distinct Sergio Leone influence throughout; 'the man with no name' being an obvious one, as too is the fabulous opening scene where the officer confronts some of the Dark Rider's bad guys. Another Spaghetti western-esque influence is undounbtably this film's soundtrack because throughout it we are treated to a an atmospheric delight of musical accompaniment that adds the perfect feel of suspense to proceedings. The song at the end is haunting and beautiful and has genuinely stayed with me long since viewing, in fact I'm listening to it right now as I write this piece of reviewing excellence. The singer's name is Lia Cameira.  The song is written by Felipe Longhi and performed by him and Bruno Fritzen, Felipe Lermen and Gabriel Fritzen. It is truly sublime.

For a couple of samples of the stunning Soundtrack( which includes the song), visit 

Beyond the Grave is delight of a Brazilian movie that caught me well and truly by surprise. Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro has directed a poetic, dreamlike vision of a place where the lives of the characters that inhabit it are the final gasp of human existence. The landscape is beautiful, the acting is good particularly from Rafael Tombini and Alvaro Rosacosta, and the claustrophobic scenes of horror and violence are perfectly wrapped in a suitably haunting and evocative musical soundtrack. It has thought, integrity and belief behind its conception. Yes, the film is a veritable melting-pot of genres and themes, and it all works. It isn't a genre film, it is multi genre, and that is indeed a good thing. I sincerely hope that there is more to come from these filmmakers.

You're still not sure if you should take my word for it alone? Well don't, because the movie has not only been nominated for a wealth of cinematic awards, it has won quite a few of them along the way - fourteen international awards to be precise. The most recent of which was winning Best Horror Feature Film at the Winter film awards in Nova Lorque in March of this year and also Best Film at the Movie Days/The Dark Zone convention, Germany. 

Beyond the Grave is now available on VOD via Netflix Instant for U.S. and Latin America.

The Official Facebook page for the movie can be found at 

The IMDB site for Beyond the Grave is at

All I have to say to finish this piece is simply to warn you.........


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

An early review of The Lashman (2014)

A little while ago I put together a double interview with the directors of two new Indie horrors - Sacrement. The Movie & The Lashman. Both interviewees were equally ebullient and informative about their respective projects in regard to just how special the end results were going to be for prospective audiences. Well naturally they would say that wouldn't they? After all, no little time and effort goes into writing, directing and producing an indie horror (I imagine) so I would expect such proud proclamations, albeit subjective ones, about the merits of their work.

So when Director/Producer/writer and screenplay writer (and probably a dozen other jobs) of The Lashman, Cameron McCasland, sent me a super-duper secret link to the finally completed film (It's taken four long, often turbulent years) you can safely say that I was about as excited as excited could be. Not only would I be able to be one of the honoured few to see a movie far earlier than most, It would also provide me with the chance to test Cameron's bold challenge to me in his previous interview that I would come out of the end of it saying " I don't really dig slasher films, but I love Lashman". 

Well, we shall see Cameron, me old chum. We shall see.


The summation of the plot will be rather brief, due to my oft-repeated dislike for reviewers who insist on giving away the nuances of plot - even when they think they are being clever.  If you haven't read my rants before about those spoiler spreading fools then you're one of the lucky ones.

The Lashman begins with five school friends heading off on a weekend excursion into the hills for a weekend of fishing, swimming and campfire tales near their cabin retreat. For the group, it's the chance for one final celebration before they have to go their separate ways to college and whatever different paths their lives will take them.  Of course, there is a crate or two of beer to help the weekend along. And Mustard, lots of Mustard.

Soon after arrival at their secluded (of course) cabin, the friends are sharing a scary campfire tale about a local urban-myth. He is simply referred to as 'The Lashman - a man from many years past who was treated pretty badly by the local populace and now whose spirit magically wanders the hills seeking violent and bloody revenge on those that wronged him....or even those who haven't wronged him. He isn't particular.

However, little do they realise that a harmless campfire tale of revenge and murder is going to become very real for them and turn into their own worst bloody nightmares!

THE VERDICT - Well there are a lot of positives........

Now I know what you're thinking : a group of horny and drunk teenagers, probably consisting of the likeable and the jerk ..... a secluded cabin in the woods....... campfire tales....... urban legends ......... slashing and blood soaked revenge........ It all sounds like a very familiar plot device that's been done a thousand times. It is exactly that, however The Lashman has one (well actually it has a few, but more of them in a moment) important factor in it's favour, which is that this movie is very, very good.

McCasland has made it clear from day one that he was never never intending to reinvent the wheel in making this type of movie. In fact, it was the polar opposite. What he set out to do from the outset was to take many of the familiar themes from the slasher movie's heyday, which was essentially the the late 1970's and early 1980's, produce a 21st century homage, and with it manufacture a modern variation to a genre that has suffered greatly since the period of that hey day. In this he succeeds completely. 

In its original incarnation , the slasher movie began almost as thing of horror beauty; Halloween, Friday the 13th, Maniac et al were original and fresh - They were Elvis Presley in 1958, before life in the Army sucked any vestige of originality out of him. 

However it wasn't long before the slasher sub-genre entered it's Elvis in Las Vegas period when it became overblown and in danger of choking on its own bloated cliches of ever more ridiculous methods of murder, plot gimmicks and witty one-liners from killers and ever-ludicrous sequels that had long since stopped being scary. As Cameron accurately said in his interview " a certain point they really kind of stopped being scary, and no really cared about the characters (the campers) as much as they cared about the guy in the mask." I couldn't agree more. Quite simply, slasher movies stopped scaring the living crap out of us.

This is the movie's first success, because in The Lashman, we are given time to get to know the characters, because time is spent during the first part of the film to provide an element of texture and dimension to the personalities of the group. We may not like them all, but we feel as if we have got to know them a little, flaws and all. And this is what makes their fate all the more chilling during the  final third of the film where proceedings take a major turn for the worst in a series of chillingly effective gruesome encounters.

The fact that the characters are given to chance to move away from the 2 dimensional parody of later slashers is helped by a strong acting ensemble in this movie  - the main players are excellent, especially in the violent and blood-soaked confrontations. 

Billy (David Vaughan) is the leader, a likable jock, but troubled in how he should proceed in his relationship with Stacy (Stacey Dixon). Stacy herself contradicts the standard slasher image as a cliched dumb blonde by showing maturity in how she cares for her socially inept brother, Bobby (Shawn C. Phillips). Even the requisite jerk of any slasher-to- be group, in this case Daniel (Jeremy Jones), whilst being suitably obnoxious in his general behaviour towards the others, still has a modicum of likableness. One scene where he is being chastised by the sensational Kaylee Williams as his girlfriend, Jan is particularly funny. 

It also helps that the two women, Stacey Dixon and Kaylee Williams are drop-dead deliciously gorgeous - if you would pardon the pun.

Intermixed between some simply exceptional opening and closing credits the film for the most part looks crisp and easy on the eye with some lovely camerawork and cinematography. The movie sounds wonderful too with a fabulous soundtrack composed by Thomas Berdinski who has perfectly captured the essence of what a good horror soundtrack should sound like. 
I'd like a copy of this please, Thomas....

The daddy of all indie horror, Halloween, showed how integral the soundtrack can be in adding another element, indeed almost another character, to the effect of a movie, yet for some reason many contemporary slasher movies have ignored this. I may well be asking Thomas for a copy of the soundtrack, I think it's that good.

A couple of negatives........

Whilst The Lashman may be very good - it's not perfect. The quality of acting of the main ensemble cast isn't quite matched by the quality of some of the supporting actors, which on occasion tends to be a little uneven. It wouldn't be fair of me to highlight any one in particular, suffice to say that one or two of the supporting  performances are less than convincing. 

There are a few issues I have with the unevenness with the sound quality occasionally during film with  occasional 'jolts and fades' taking place, particularly during the transition between a few of the scenes. Though it does have to be said that the sound quality during the raw intensity of the violent scenes are faultless.

These minor quibbles detract only slightly from ones enjoyment of what is a remarkable debut feature from Cameron McCasland. He and the rest of the team have managed to take a well known formula, used that knowledge to their advantage and make something that feels like a throwback to the classic era of the slasher before all the sequels and trips into space made them simply a pale parody of themselves. 

The Lashman is set for a world premiere Saturday April 19th 2014 at the 13th Annual Full Moon Horror Film Festival In Nashville.  Members of the cast and crew will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening. 

Cameron McCasland is currently booking dates on the festival circuit for the movie, and setting out for a touring roadshow. For more information on the premiere screening please visit

You can find the Lashman on facebook at or on twitter @LashmanFilm

All that it leaves me to say about this marvellous movie is......“Stay out of the woods! Lashman getchya!”

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Gemini Artifice - A Science Fiction web series.


I don't like offending people, I really don't. I'm a nice guy (I hope), I have friends (both real & virtual), family (mostly real) and many acquaintances, most of whom seem not to want to cause me any real hurt. However, I do seem to have a habit of occasionally upsetting some of the people who inhabit Internetland both within and outside the sci-fi & horror genres. 

For instance, only in the last couple of months I've upset people within the Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of The Rings communities. Now I love Star Wars et al, of that there should be no doubt. I was there back in 1977 for the opening day of the film that became a cultural phenomenon, I've seen every Star Trek episode of every series to the point where I could (and often do) quote dialogue along to certain scenes from the original series and The Hobbit + LOTR books single-handedly changed my life when I was only just past being a twinkle in Gandalf's eye. 

All I did was mention on certain forums (yes I have no life, but I'm happy so I don't care) that I thought that The Phantom Menace was actually rather good, that I much preferred Star Trek TNG to the original series and asked whether it really mattered that certain literary characters in Tolkien's books did or didnt make it into the cinematic versions by Peter Jackson. Well, lets just say that apart from unleashing the Kraken, some of the responses that I received were, how shall I put it, rather energetic in regard to my knowledge and opinions and where and in what particular orifice I should place them.......most of which would bring more than a tear to this bloggers eyes. As for assertions regarding a correlation between my intelligence and a rather unseemly relationship between me and my mother - well those suggestions would make you blush.

So when Pat Lavigne, contacted me with news of a web-based science fiction series that he was involved in producing called The Gemini Artifice, the only part of the project that made me stop to consider the proposal for a moment was the small issue of the project's inspiration. It was another of those areas that seem to attract rather high levels of passion - namely online gaming. 

Eve Online - It looks bloody brilliant.
Now I know many people who play games online and many of them are very nice, I've even been known to dabble myself in the odd arena or two, but dabbling has been my limit. It's not that I have any aversion or contempt for online gaming, it simply has never been my particular bag, man. 

The fact is that some of the people who inhabit these virtual communities scare me, because man, do they take that stuff seriously?!..... and god help any poor sucker (or noob) who may not fully understand the rules or etiquette of a particular game. The abuse I've witnessed towards those who may not be as skilfully blessed or merely learning the game has to be seen to believed. I have absolutely no problem with passion for ones genre - For example I personally believe that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the finest example of horror movie making in the history of cinema and will never be surpassed. Many will disagree with me, they'll be wrong mind you, but it's their right to be wrong.

I would like to emphasise that I have not played Eve Online, so I may well doing the patrons (all half a million of them) a disservice, so profuse apologies if i am.....But, to all to the rest of you Pseudo Jedi's, Trekkers and gamers - stop being so precious about it all. We all love this stuff, it's just that some of us are a bit rubbish at the online game malarkey and some us don't think it's the end of the world if Tom Bombardil never appeared in in the movie version of LOTR.

So regardless I carried on reading Pat's synopsis of the project and watched the teaser trailer that has been produced - and do you know what? I think it's going to be great.

The Gemini Artifice is based on the MMORPG Eve Online ( For this who may not know, MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game combines two gaming genres; role-playing video games and massively multiplayer online games. Taking the form of web browser-based games, a huge number of people interact with with one another within a self contained virtual world, with perhaps the most well known being World of Warcraft. 

Eve Online is another virtual entity which sees on average 500,000 souls interacting, er, online, which in this case is a richly textured and highly complex interconnection of star systems in which users can travel the cosmos, buying equipment and working with, or fighting against other users. Since 2003 it has grown into an online science fiction phenomenon, so much so that January of this year witnessed the largest ever online space battle with over 4000 gamers taking part in a battle that led to the destruction of approximately 100 spaceships. The truly mind boggling fact is that the financial coast to users  - the in-game currency that is used in the game meant that the damage amounted to a staggering $300,000 in real world money. 

I think that it's safe to say that these gamers take their gaming very, very seriously. And why not?

You've something on your
Set 23,000 years into the future The Gemini Artifice follows the crew of the ship "The Gemini" in a universe full of greed, murder, deceit, intrigue, and the occasional hero. Follow the crew as they lie, cheat, steal, and fight to obtain their slice of the New Eden Dream....massive piles of Interstellar Kredits (ISK).

When an employee of the enormous Sukuuvestaa Corporation goes rogue, her masters enlist the mercenary crew of the Gemini to get her under control. Snatch, grab; putting her in the bag and bringing her home would put the Gemini on the road to riches. They soon find though that in New Eden, there's no such thing as easy money.

The Gemini Artifice is filmed in Tacoma, Washington by cast and crew from the Northwest and is produced by Loyalty Entertainment Productions, a Tacoma based film company.

I would recommend that you take a little look at the teaser trailer (below) which the team have produced. I would also recommend that there is more than enough here to suggest that a full-blown series would be well-worth watching. I certainly will be looking out for it and hopefully reviewing the episodes as they come online.

The Gemini Artifice Teaser (based on Eve Online by CCP Games)

The intention for the team is to see a full season produced so all involved are relying on the teaser trailer and articles like this to increase the word of virtual mouth, so that interest and enthusiasm for the project cannot be ignored.

I suppose that the people who may need the most convincing as to the quality of the project will be the Eve Online gamers - after all this is their baby and will quite rightly be rather protective of their online world. I've already seen some discussion forums where a few gamers have been debating the authenticity of terminology and logistics within the teaser trailer - so it goes without saying that the producers of The Gemini Artifice will need to make sure they both listen to constructive advice and argue their side of things when it comes to the dramatic adaptation. I also hope that the gamers are willing to allow a degree of flexibility that any venture like this has to employ. 

So what about the people who are going to be appearing in the web series - I mean, are they actually any good? Well below is a taster of four actors featuring in the production. These profiles are just 4 of the many that the team will be doing as a 'slow release' every week. I will try and make sure that I update the blog as soon as these releases are made - You can also check out the Gemini Artifice page at to see the release of more content. 

Monika Holm

Monika is an actor, dancer, singer, and stage combatant who loves to dream big. Monika started her love of the Performing Arts in Oakland, CA where she was born. She currently lives in Seattle, WA because of her love for rain. Monika has her BFA in Theater from Cornish College of the Arts. She has appeared in independent short films such as the Seattle Film Institute sci fi film, Chasing Wind and a feature film modern adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. She had a blast playing this Benny and can't wait to dive deeper into The Gemini Artifice. For more info about Monika go to

Monika will be playing Benny Caron. Benidette “Benny” Caron was a model Sukuuvestaa employee on a secluded space station. Diligent, quiet, and actually a bit nervous when she won a chance of a lifetime vacation away from the boredom of being a station maintenance tech. Benny Caron would never step out of line; would she?

Emily Fortuna 

Emily acts in film, on the stage, and silly on request. Her credits include playing Lucy Steele in the feature film Sense and Sensibility and Jenny Sunshine in Truth Like the Sun at Book-It Repertory Theatre. When not acting, she can be found programming computers, crafting, reading or gaming. She's a huge fan of scifi, fantasy, and the rich lore surrounding Eve Online.

Emily plays Lin Tetch; proof that even Hell has its angels. As bad as the crew of the Gemini has it sometimes, Lin always has a smile and some wit. She and Jordan are great friends, and as much as Davidson doesn’t want to admit it, Lin is pretty handy in negotiating those contracts for work. She gives the Gemini its soul.

Will Gilmore

Will was born and raised in Elk Grove, California. He moved to Seattle to pursue is acting/film career in 2009. Since then, Will has produced, written, and acted in a short webseries as well as numerous short films, including his current World War 2 narrative "Hinterhalt." Recently, Will was cast on Loyalty Production's series' "Legendary" and "The Gemini Artifice" and couldn't be more excited to be a part of the webseries!

Will plays Jordan Kint. Jordan lost his brother. Jordan doesn’t know why it happened, or even really what death means, but Derial just isn’t there anymore. Now Davidson Shin has Derial’s ship, the Gemini, and Jordan doesn’t always know if Davidson likes him. But the Gemini’s computer likes him; all computers like Jordan, and he likes all computers. That’s why they do anything he tells them to. Anything.

Angela DiMarco 

Angela is now a Facebook friend of mine, but please don't let that put you off her. 

She has been working in film and on stage in Los Angeles and Seattle for the past 20 years. In 2014 she is starring in the films The Device, Reliance, and The Rectory. She started Mighty Tripod Prods with her husband, creating an artistic platform in the Northwest.

Angela plays Miri Janus. Ms. Janus used to do a lot of dirty work for Sukuuvestaa. This earned her a special assignment, a special trust. She guards a Quantum Drive with information so sensitive even she doesn’t know what it is. It doesn’t matter. She does what SuVee says, and if they want the q-drive safeguarded, it will be done: By any means necessary.

Neither Emily, Will or Monika are Facebook friends of mine as yet. However, nobody can hide forever......

So there you have it. The people behind this project need our help to promote this project. So 'click' again on the youtube link for the teaser at

In addition to that share this blog and its Facebook page - the fact that you'll be promoting not only The Gemini Artifice but also my blog is purely coincidental.......

You want to join the Fray - well you can......... 

The Gemini Article team have a Tumblr now. There is some excellent background material on the characters here. I would suggest that you have a looksee, you just might find something special - the link is  RIGHT HERE

Find them on Twitter @GeminiArtifice!
Find them on Facebook

Friday, 11 April 2014

Seed of Evil: An Ancient Evil Rises (Saga of Evil) - By Robert Friedrich


From a distant galaxy far beyond our time, the most ancient of all EVIL awoke before descending upon our unsuspecting galaxy. The planet it reached never faced such a threat, but didn’t submit to it, either. In a final attempt to survive, a prison between dimensions was built, the last hope to hold the DARK POWER for an eternity. The planet withered and died, and its people found a new refuge among the stars. That planet is now known as: Mars. 

But even eternity doesn’t last forever. Ignorance and an infantile arrogance of a nation leads to its release. And once again, it only leaves death in its wake. 

Read the fast-paced Sci-Fi/Horror, where the elements of OCCULT meet with an advanced MILITARY thriller, wrapped in a colossal battle between good and evil. 

The first part of a new, long-awaited Saga, from the internationally renowned author of “The Darkness Within” will give you a gulp of a SMASH HIT and will leave you wanting more…

Well, that's the blurb from the Author's Amazon page, the link for which can be found RIGHT HERE - but what did I think of the story? More importantly, does anybody care what I think? Probably not, but at least I can happily convince my self otherwise, because self-delusion is a wonderful thing.

For a novella which consists of just 101 pages, Seed of Evil has a veritable plethora of influences and ideas. There are whisperings of the movie Aliens, smatterings of Warhammer 40K and even a dollop or two of the calamity that was Starship Troopers - but don't let that last reference put you off. My recollections of the military science fiction masterpiece by Robert A. Heinlein have been distinctly tainted by the turkey of the 1997 movie version directed by Paul Verhoeven. I've mentioned before my utter loathing and contempt for that film adaptation - and it's only Denise Richards that has made me watch it possibly half a dozen times or so. Well, she's worth it. 

When I say that this story seems (for me at least) to have a number of influences, I don't wish anyone to misconstrue that as any sort of criticism, because it's not. Any sense of familiarity, and even cliche, is more than off-set by the pacey story, plot structure and the pleasing writing style of Robert Friedrich. However, more of that in a moment or two.
Seed of Evil is set later in the 21st century when both our own Moon and the planet Mars have now been colonised in an effort to extract the wealth of their natural resources. After all, both are devoid of any sort of alien life aren't they, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, in the case of Mars, things have gone a more than a little pear-shaped after contact with the colonists has been lost, shortly after they had discovered a structure on the red planet of unknown origin. 

As a result, a team of elite marines have been dispatched to investigate the loss of contact and confront whoever, or whatever, stands in their way. I won't say any more in an attempt to stay spoiler-free, suffice to say that Corey (the marine from whose point of view the story is told) and his merry band of grunts find a little more than they bargained for.

If you read this story with the expectation of a slow build up of considered character development and a richly layered plot then this may not be the book for you. However, if you are in the mood for a fast paced, sometimes breathless story that within a couple of pages is relentlessly dragging you along by the short and curlies, along with the rest of the marines into the chaotic violence of bloody battle, then this might just be for you. 

I consumed this story in an afternoon, along with a requisite glass of red wine and was enjoyably swept along into an alien world full of excitingly written combat scenes each containing their fair share of bloody horror. And that is the very appeal of this book, for Friedrich has crafted a plot that may well be familiar, but has formed it into an appealing mix that will please both science fiction and horror fans alike. I am in no way saying that that this is a story devoid of intelligence and sub-text, for a start, as in the movie Aliens, we have an allegory of the dangers that military over-confidence and arrogance can tragically lead to. 
The cheese is optional - the rest, essential.
However, this isn't meant to be anything of an overly serious lecturing science fiction novel. This is not Asimov or Phillip.K. Dick - again that is absolutely not criticism of the author here, I for one am just as happy reading Warhammer as I am reading Phillip. K. Dick. Not all science fiction has to be overly Intellectually sermonising, which clearly wasn't the writers intention in Seed of Evil from the start. Believe me, that is no bad thing. The wonderful thing about sci-fi & horror fiction is that there are styles to suit all moods and desires and if you desire a thrilling story, high on delicious blood-soaked action then this is the book for you.

As far as I'm aware, Seed of Evil is designed to be the first in a lengthy saga, and the book has that distinct feel - in fact it could work equally well as a seperate prologue story to a large scale movie screenplay. I'm interested to see where the next instalment takes us and also looking forward to hopefully receiving my very own signed copy from Robert (hint, hint).

Seed of Evil is a highly recommended small slice of high octane sci-fi horror that will carry you along it's roller coaster ride of blood-soaked interplanetary combat! I enjoyed it immensely.

Copies of the book can be found at the Amazon link RIGHT HERE for UK buyers and HERE for those in the States.

For more information on Robert and the rest of his works then click at the link at

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Interview with actor, Jasper Cole.

When I was growing up I, like many kids of my age I suppose, had dreams of becoming an actor. In fact I pretty much had it all mapped out for myself. In my particular case I had no real desire to be a future James Bond or Count Dracula. No, for some reason I always saw myself as one of those familiar, but not too famous horror movie character actors that seem to pop up in seemingly every other film. You know how it goes -  " oh that's whats-his-name from that thingamajig movie". My idea of an acting career was in part to be more concerned with the craft of acting but just as importantly (well in truth, probably more so), I wanted to spend my days biting the necks of beautiful bossomed Hammer horror actress's rather than simply being famous. It was quite a few years until I realised that this was never going to happen, the fact that I had absolutely no tangible acting bone in my body may have had something to do with that. 

It all came to a depressing head during auditions for the School Nativity play when I was 12 and losing out to Craig Witherspoon for the role of shepherd number 5 - Not only did I lose out to the only other boy left in the class, he also had a bloody speech impediment that made 'Jesus' come out as sounding more like "JESHUSH'. In my nightmares I can still clearly hear "Hail baby Jeshush, the Messhia!".

I knew at that point that my career as any sort of actor was dead right there.....not that the painful memory still lingers, you understand.

Well I'm not going to mess with him - are you?
So It is my absolute pleasure this week to have the chance to speak to an experienced actor (I won't use the word 'veteran' as I always think it makes one sound decrepit and ready for the knackers yard) who has well over a century of television and film credits, not to mention a veritable string of theatre and writing credits to his name.

Jasper Cole definitely has that familiar "I know him from something" look, being a long-time stalwart of TV and film. As recently as 2013  he appeared in the much maligned (well I liked it actually) hit horror film, Hansel & Gretel as "John", the son of the legendary actress, Dee Wallace. His film credits also Include 18 Again, Alien Nation, Get Your Stuff, Friday the 13th Part VIII, and Urban Assault-TKO. Jasper is perhaps most well known for his portrayal of the genuinely creepy Zeke Pleshette in the film MacGruber, alongside a certain Mr Val Kilmer.

As well as film he's also appeared in numerous theatrical and television productions, with his TV work continuing notable appearances on shows such as C.S.I., Married With Children, Saved By The Bell, Touched by An Angel,Party Of Five, La Femme Nakita, Tales From The Crypt,Baywatch,PacificBlue and Clueless. Jasper has been regularly nominated for awards (nominated for best actor in the stage production of A Quiet End in 1996) besides achieving best supporting actor in the Drama-logue Awards for his role in Fool for Love in 1995. As recently as he received critical acclaim for his work on Michael Eisner's Emmy Nominated series, Prom Queen. 
Prom Queen

It's clear that Jasper's career has been somewhat varied, though it would be fair to say that in recent years he has become a firm favourite of the contemporary horror community. In the last few months he has become a Facebook friend of mine (I know, get me) and not only is he talented and successful, he's also a bloody nice guy. As you'll now see for yourself. 

Me) Firstly many thanks for taking time out of your schedule, Jasper. how's life treating you at the moment?

J) "All is good and thank you...just chillin here at my house in Palm Springs. If I'm not working in Hollywood I'm here every chance I get."

Me) For those foolish enough not know much about you, could you tell us a little about yourself - I understand that you are part Native American for example?

J) "Yeah I'm part Cherokee Indian and part Irish so needless to say there was a lot of alcohol involved lol...I grew up in Athens Georgia and moved to LA when I was 23 so I have been here 27 yrs this coming September. It's been an AMAZING journey!"

Jasper & Val Kilmer in the 'who's bum looks best?' competition
Me) I know you're probably sick of being asked what Val Kilmer was like to work in MACGRUBER - BUT,  I'll ask you anyway!!  I think he's often had something of a raw deal over the years in the press. What was the experience like?

J) "Well, I was and am a big fan of Val's so it was an honour to just work with him at all and it was a great time. He's very funny and eccentric in the best way possible. We shot out in New Mexico and Val actually lives there as well and in fact at that time there were rumours he was gonna run for Lt. Governor of that state so we had some "interesting" conversations about politics. Needless to say he was GREAT in the film and a true highlight of my career."

Me) I've often thought that it would be preferable to be a regular working character actor than a more wider known famous figure where the craft of acting might be lost in the publicity machine. Would you exchange being well-known within horror and other genre's but perhaps lesser so in the wider public consciousness as you are now or to be transported into the fame and money stratosphere of a Val Kilmer? 

J) "lol the "grass is always greener" right? Honestly, all I ever really wanted when I started out was to be a working actor who is respected within my industry and it has taken me many years to get here but I wouldn't change a thing...HOWEVER as I get older I would really love a steady television gig....second or third side kick maybe just recurring who shows up periodically and does his thing. Otherwise I'm good to go!"
Frank Giamona (left) & Jasper with 'mum' Dee Wallace
Me) Does it bother you (as it does me) that horror is still regarded as the poor man of movies and something merely to "move on from" for an actor? 

J) "Its a real mystery to me because horror is one of the most profitable at the box office consistently...low budget or studio level and for me I have moved "into horror" rather than "move on" from...I'm truly grateful to be a part of this genre on any level. The fans are the most loyal and diligent in the world."

Me) You have a distinctive look (you know, good looking with more than a hint of menace) :-) . Have you had to fight against being typecast in movies as 'bad guy number 1' ? 

J) "Thanks,,I always laugh and say it took me so many years to be TYPECAST that I hope to stay on this beloved "list" til the very end...Theatre is the place to stretch as an actor and try different parts....TV/film is where you do your consistent thing and I am forever grateful to be typecast."

Me) It seems that you're not that busy at the moment - well that is apart from appearing in THE PURGE ANARCHY opening in July. You apparently also have two horror thrillers coming out soon, CAPTURED and MODEL HOME. In addition to those I hear that you are about to start the horror film SAVAGE SISTAS.   Oh yes, if that wasn't enough you're in the middle of shooting DARK SPIRITS  opposite the gorgeous and talented Lynn Lowry and Mindy Robinson. What can you tell us about some of these productions? 
Jasper and Erica Renee Johnson from the set of Savage Sistas
J) "Wow..when you put it like that I do seem I'm beyond blessed to have worked on these great projects Obviously to work with Michael Bay and Jason Blum in THE PURGE: ANARCHY was a huge  honor and its an amazing script and film. I play a "Homeless Man" who lives in a dipsy dumpster trash can and appears during the purge in a very scary way.......CAPTURED is another great script written and directed by Joe Arias and its stars Brittany Curan and Kristin Prout and a ensemble of amazing young actors...I Play "Shelly" the creepy groundskeeper who holds a lot of family secrets that get revealed throughout the film......MODEL HOME was a thrill to work with Monique Gabrilla Curnen and Emmy winner Kathy Baker. I play "Walker" a desert rat who stumbles into a nightmare and cant get out. Patrick Cunningham was a superb director to work with and his script is one of the best ever and a concept we haven't seen before...... SAVAGE SISTAS is my first lead in a horror film and it's a blessing to actually play a "Cop" for a change although he's not necessarily a good cop after all. Dan Smith has written and directed a true original film and the female leads are unique to the horror genre and KICK BUTT!......DARK SPIRITS was a chance to reunite with one of the CAPTURED producers Ewan Bourne and I play a "Dark Butler" who is up to no good but is enslaved to his "Master" who is played by the stunning  Mindy Robinson."

Me) Would you possibly be ably to tell Lynn Lowry that I've been more than a little smitten with her for quite a while and that I'd love to interview her.......pretty please? 

J) "Lynn is so lovely and kind and I will most definitely tell her and I'm sure you will love her too!"

The lovely Lynn Lowry
Me) Have you ever worked over here in the UK? 

J) "have not worked there but two of my goals left for my career are to do theatre in both New York and London."

Me) Finally, the most important question (remember, I'm a psychologist) - Alien or Predator? 

J) "Wow that's a tough one but I'm gonna have to go with PREDATOR"

Me) Thanks Jasper, mate for taking the time to answer the questions. Take care!  

J) "Thanks so much and keep up the great work!"

So there you have it. He has a varied & successful career that keeps on going from strength to strength. He lives in Palm Springs, works in Hollywood but has managed to stay a genuinely nice guy with a good line answering my inane interview questions. So I will forgive him for getting the Alien or Predator question wrong - though obviously the man can look after himself so maybe I'll keep that piece of information from him.....

Seriously though, I would like to thank Jasper Cole for the interview. A good guy & a good actor. 

Jasper can be viewed, contacted and researched at the following links;