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I have commented on numerous occasions about the current uprise in talent in the horror industry and also made no secret of the fact that I believe the next decade will be pivotal for horror. In my lifetime, the eighties have been the most memorable epoch for the genre and during this period the genre was very much in the ascendency. Things tend to work in cycles and right now I believe that we are gearing up for another sweet spot. The times ahead are critical to preparing for this upsurge and a number of young technically and artistically gifted film-makers are currently beginning to make headway. The next five years is all about consolidation, once these professionals have their foothold in the industry, things can really start to happen. As an avid aficionado of all things macabre, it excites me to my very core.
So where do I start with the current crop of talent? Where better than a director who I have first-hand experience of sparking fuses with, Matt Farnsworth. In 2011 he put heads to bed with his enigmatic slasher The Orphan Killer and the film carved out a cult following in no time, amassing an army of enthused horror buffs who believed wholeheartedly in what he was peddling. Last summer, after three years of meticulous planning, the long-awaited sequel entered production and I was fortunate enough to play a key part in proceedings. I watched it develop over its seven week shoot first-hand and everybody involved shared the same gut feeling about Bound X Blood. We all called it a special little movie as that was precisely what it evidently was.
I have currently scribed over seventy articles based on my belief in The Orphan Killer. From exclusive interviews with its director and resplendent first lady of horror Diane Foster, to introspective articles based on the impact it had on a lifelong genre fan, to dark poetry and blood-sodden fiction set within its expanding universe…I covered all bases. The reason for this is simple; belief. When I turned up in Los Angeles to commence stage two of its metamorphosis, I was fully prepared for something off-the-chain but it surprised even me as the stars aligned wondrously, culminating in a genre-bursting feature film which is set, not only to effortlessly repeat the success of its predecessor, but deliver it into new unchartered territory.
Horror is unique. The associations here are unlike those formed anywhere else in my opinion. With mutual respect, collective heft, and a hefty dash of paying it forward, we can all rise united. If there is one thing that the past two years have taught me then it would undoubtedly be that. Right now things are taking shape; allegiances are forming and that makes us beyond formidable. I have broken bread with a number of professionals whose shared belief that this is our time brings out the very best in their every endeavor. In that time I have made lifelong friends who I believe are set for the most wonderful things in the years ahead as they know how critical shared energy really is to horror’s next augmentation.
Let’s talk Spencer Gray shall we? This Texan tornado is no stranger to torment, just like Keeper. He has seen shit which would make your toes curl, been down, been out, taken his blows and got straight back up on his knees, bloodied but never defeated. Spencer is a fighter in all meanings of the word and he channels every last scream into his art, as attested by his rambunctious recent spoken montage The Misfit Words. Snake With a Human Tail offers enlightenment into just how far Gray is prepared to go for the sake of his art. He’d sever an artery just to supply the next scene its filter.
Spencer Grey is more than game for taking us to the darkest recesses of his imagination as they prove to be common ground. The envelope needs to be pushed if we are to purge forward and this man has no qualms whatsoever with giving it a gentle nudge at the drop of a Stetson. I would imagine he prefers his prime rib replete with a little blood and sinew; and that suits me as it’s just how I like it myself. But it’s not only about clenched fists and bloody lips; what good is brawn without a brain to inform one’s actions? He has a marvellous blackened nugget, straining with innovation, and we will soon all be beneficiaries of Spencer’s drive to thrive.
Horror has itself a true one-off in Adam Ginsberg. With a voice which I liken to plush velvet, and the integrity of a thousand buffalo, Adam is a most treasured commodity to horror and so much more besides. Like the buffalo, he is what I would call a life builder, possessing a soul which bestow’s great rehabilitative powers should you become touched by his healing hands. His voice is put to the very best of good; running a show which transmits to a hundred and forty countries across six stations. Out of My Head Radio represents one of many strings this great man has to his bow. Last year the Macabre Film Festival in Long Island, which he co-runs, was voted the most cherished celebration of the grotesque and brilliant in horror circles and it couldn’t be in more assured hands than his.
I’ve watched the inimitable Ginsberg square up to the lens and deliver prose in a manner which speaks volumes for his character. Like me, he has taken his fair share of crushing disappointments but that has spurred him on all the more to keep on keeping on. Every ounce of integrity is injected into any project which Adam touches and the kicker is that he is barely even getting started. I remarked during my very first observation of Adam at work that he is set for legendary things and I not only uphold that but would willingly lay down and die by those very words.
On the opposite side of the Atlantic is a Parisian screenwriter and film-maker who I hold very close to my heart. Emilie Flory is an astonishing soul, moreover, she is an exclusive talent and one on the brink of a worldwide explosion with her forthcoming Trauma Dolls project assembling to flourish. I have been beyond impressed, not only with her stunning screenplay for this masterful film, but also with the way that Emilie carries herself on a daily basis. She spreads so much joy, hope, and love to all those around her, despite the fact that she has her own empire to tend to. My favorite pastime is to pay it forward and this is a custom that she fully endorses. In order for us to proceed and prosper, we need to be able to recognize others in the equation and wish for their triumph as much as our own. Emilie gets this.
She is arriving at a pivotal time for female film-makers, with the likes of Jessica Cameron preparing to unleash Truth or Dare in 2015 and The Soska Twins already tearing shit up, Emilie’s insurgence is all the more critical. She has countless tools at her disposal but also a certain je ne sais quoi which makes her unique. France has provided some of the finest horror of the past decade and that is set to continue once Trauma Dolls bleeds into the fray. I feel beyond proud and privileged to hold an exclusive place at Emile’s table, indeed she is one of my favorite people on the planet, and hers promises to be a most extraordinary banquet.
Speaking of food for thought, recent exposure to a film by the name of Crawl or Die had me masticating like a famished jackal. Quite how Oklahoma Ward managed to achieve what he did on the budget he was afforded will always be a mystery to me, right up there with the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. His glorious film exceeded any and every expectation, defying the laws of science by providing us with an iconic character capable of withstanding wave upon wave of alien front guard. Tank is, put simply, badass and Nicole Alonso dons her battle stripes with such unflinching conviction that the fate of mankind, whilst some way from secure, is at least in the very best hands available.
Ward and Alonso make no secret of their intention to build on their premise to the tune of a trilogy which I believe will still be talked about decades from now as the guard changes once more. The key to their prosperity is that they are prepared to be bold, adventurous, and courageous, three qualities which bode particularly well within the confines of science fiction. They have already delved into the ovium and their parasite has now made itself known in no uncertain terms. Naturally, next up is the evolution, and they have our attention at a critical time as we’re primed to embark on the pilgrimage alongside Tank while their creature locates its equilibrium and steps once more out of the shadows. Ironically, fire will be an incalculable commodity in the skirmish ahead, which is convenient as that’s just what exists inside both Ward and Alonso’s bellies.
One thing which I am utterly indebted to is horror’s proud heritage and I learned my trade from a man who I am honored to call my friend. I was barely aware of my special purpose upon primary introduction to George A. Romero’s most intimate work, Martin. The performance of a twenty-seven year-old John Amplas taught me everything I needed to know about acting and, years down the line, it is this turn which proves to me, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is most effectual when it comes from some place deep. I’ve watched a lot of horror movies since that time and witnessed some truly committed endeavor but nothing could ever hope to have the impact Amplas did when reminding me that “there is no real magic”.
Recently, after scribing an appraisal for Martin, I received a package in the post which has since become my most treasured possession. It was a still from the film and contained a message from John Amplas himself which knocked me soundly off my perch. It thanked me for my kind words but, more astonishingly, it confirmed my own self-belief in the process. For somebody in awe of their own personal Jesus, to read the words “I am your biggest fan” is not something one expects to read and I was left thunderstruck by John’s decision to pay it forward. Weeks later we shared communion over the phone and I was reminded exactly why I have placed this great man on a pedestal for so long. The benefits of that communication are in every single word I scribe on a daily basis.
There could be no more fitting a place to end than there. John was at the beating heart of my own filmic development and is utterly indispensable to our genre moving forward. Belief has to come from somewhere; we all need our personal heroes, if we are to stand a chance of realizing our unique potential, and it is our calling to nurture said souls as they prepare to purge a path forward. Desire is crucial and the one thing all of these fine people have in common is that they possess it in abundance. United we stand and falling isn’t even an applicable option. Whatever comes of each of these parties, and I have absolutely no doubt that something wicked this way comes, horror is in the very best shape right now. It simply wouldn’t be Keeper not to be right in the very thick of it. Any strength I have is something I will gladly share if it means my beloved horror benefits in the long run. That’s how this works Grueheads; we are all beneficiaries. We stand proud, chests out, heads high, and beating bloody hearts in our open hands as we all break bread in union. United we slay!
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015