o l c e
f r ea
o sh w
Anniversary ISSUE WITH
NEW FILM SPIDORA BLACK LODGE BURLESQUE Circus of the Dead Sideshow World + MUCH MORE! w w w. l i v i n g d e a d m a g a z i n e . c o m
Three heroes are on a quest to find the princess that can help save the world. Zombies, unspeakable horrors, and an evil army fight them from the shadows. Hilarity ensues. Goodbye from the Edge of Never, by Steven Mix, is available now via Falkor Publishing on Amazon.com and www.stevenmix.com
haunted tales from circus, circus
the best haunts of 2014
circus of the dead film review
preserving the carnivale an interview with owner of side show world website
an interview with famed pennywise makeup artist bart mixon
director billy pon talks new film and working with clowns
the art of body suspension
the cast of television series freakshow
director fred olen ray discusses spidora and growing up in a circus town
an interview with actress / performer go go amy
columns 6 news of the dead 9 Stalkerâ€™s Corner 13 staff flick picks 14 the gospel of gore : B-Movie Reviews with the rev jeff jugular
22 Monster Makers 26 featured artist 42 Bitchinâ€™ Babe of the Month 56 movie reviews
black lodge burlesque review scream factory releases phantom of paradise an interview with x-men screenwriter david hayter
hocus pocus theatrical review
bizarro book series
r.i.p. a farewell to beloved performer burk biggler
58 indie horror tv 62 crowdfunding projects 66 book reviews 70 galleria macabre
“Keep the circus going inside you, keep it going, don’t take anything too seriously, it’ll all work out in the end.” –– David Niven
Editor-in-Chief Deanna Uutela Sales
& Marketing director James R. Beach
Creative Director Miss Mandible contributing designer Devon Deveraux Assistant to the editor Lisa Burchell Columnists Gary Castleberry Jeff Dean Jesus Figueroa Michael “Dedman” Jones Matt Majeski Robert Poole Nowal Massari (ZeeGee) Queenie Thayer Melissa Thomas
As of this issue, Living Dead Magazine has officially hit the one-year mark. And if you know anything about the print industry, magazines in particular, you will know that this is a huge accomplishment. Not only have we reached one year, but we just keep getting bigger and better—gaining new fans daily, growing our website and social media presence with blogs and online content, hiring on new staff writers who bring fresh ideas and content, expanding our brand beyond the magazine and developing a new horror convention for 2015. We wanted to celebrate our milestone and the support of our fans by doing an issue that honors a popular show and topic amongst horror fans—the season 4 premiere of American Horror Story, featuring freak shows. Some of the absolute best and creepiest moments in television and film have centered around circuses/carnivals and the performers associated with them. The cult classic Freaks, which we discuss in detail this issue, has one of the most dynamic and memorable scenes I have ever seen on film—real-life performers with deformities silently crawling through the mud in the pouring rain and darkness towards their cruel antagonist as she screams in horror. Then there is one of my favorite episodes of The X-Files, “Humbug,” featuring such memorable characters as The Conundrum (played by real-life performer The Enigma) and of course Lanny and his Fiji mermaid-looking twin, Leonard, who is able to detach himself from Lanny’s body and kill. Yes, horror and carnivals/sideshows go hand in hand just like noses and railroad spikes, or David Duchovny and dresses. When it comes down to it, horror fans will always relate and root for the “freaks” in life, because like us, they know a little thing about the darker side of life. Thank you for celebrating one year with us, and we hope we can continue to entertain you enough to get you to stick around for many more. Because despite what all the “experts” claim about magazines being a dying breed, every day we prove that “print’s not dead, but we are!” So, from everyone here at Living Dead Magazine, “Welcome to the Living Dead Family! Where zombies are created from toxic waste, vampires only come out at night, women are pale skinned with big ta-tas squeezed into tiny black dresses, real men carry machetes, and we always have someone….I mean something, cooking in the kitchen for when you arrive.”
Deanna Uutela Editor-in-Chief
GUEST WRITERS Erika Instead Kino McFarland Tiffany Scandal Chazlyn Lovely James R. Beach Debby Dodds Amanda Rebholz Jonathan Reitan Copy Editor Ashley Rask Cover Art “Let Us Tell Your Future” by featured artist Brian Maze of Maze Studios Living Dead Magazine Issue #5 would not have been possible without the generous contributions and support from our fans; the promotional assistance of Lisa Burchell; all of the amazing photographers and models who sent us their work; and our dead sexy models, The Living Dead Girls. Living Dead Magazine is published 6 times a year with schedule available on our website and accepts no responsibilities for unsolicited manuscripts, photos, art or other materials. Freelance submissions accompanied by S.A.S.E. will be seriously considered, and, if necessary, returned. For Advertising Information, Contact: James R. Beach, email@example.com Entire contents copyright Living Dead Magazine 2014. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Printed In The United States By: Keness - Homestead, PA USA
Send Submissions To Living Dead Magazine 10055 NE Weidler St. Portland, OR 97220 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stranger than fiction tales & Superstitions of the circus SUPERSTITIONS • Performers never eat peanuts before a show due to it being bad luck. • Another strange fact is that there is no whistling backstage before a show—it’s also considered bad luck. • But for good luck, some performers place a hair from an elephant’s tail in their pocket.
CASES OF THE WEIRD & UNBELIEVABLE • It is supposedly harder to get into the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College than it is to get into Harvard Law School. • In the early days of funfair shows, as they were called then, one showman was known to have exhibited a real-life mermaid. However, it turns out it was actually a shaved monkey with the tail of a fish sewn on. • The only permanent, full-time sideshow left in the world is Coney Island Sideshows by the Seashore.
CARNIVAL CATASTROPHES • On September 12, 1916, Mary the elephant attacked and killed her trainer after being probed with a stick over and over. The townspeople of Kingsport, Tenn. decided to hang poor Mary. They did this with a crane and it took two tries to finish the poor elephant off. • According to Wikipedia, “The Hartford circus fire, which occurred on July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut, was one of the worst fire disasters in the history of the United States. The fire occurred during an afternoon performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus that was attended by approximately 7,000 people. An estimated 167-169 people died and more than 700 were injured...Circus bandleader Merle Evans was said to have been the first to spot the flames, and immediately directed the band to play 'The Stars and Stripes Forever', the tune that traditionally signaled distress to all circus personnel...The cause of the fire remains unproven. Investigators at the time believed it was caused by a carelessly flicked cigarette but others suspected an arsonist.”
• According to an article written by Nicole Adams on Listverse. com, “Dessi Espana was a Bulgarian-American who came from a family of performers. She had performed for years and even held a Guinness World Record. Unfortunately, a technical failure ended her career in 2004. Espana was performing an aerial act with chiffon scarves when a mechanism holding the cloth in place failed, and she fell thirty feet, head-first. Espana later died from her injuries.”
We started Living Dead Magazine not only to showcase all of the amazing horror work and businesses being created every day, but because we are huge fan boys and girls who worship and respect horror actors and directors who have perfected their craft. So when these same celebs respond back with the same respect and love that we shower upon them, it is something to be proud of that we just have to share! And we want to hear from you too, got a fan photo of yourself with our merch or magazine? Please don’t be shy to send it our way and we will share the pic in our next issue:
liv in g d e a d ma g a z in e @g ma il. c o m
Actress Eileen Dietz holds a copy of her new book Exorcising My Demons: An Actresses’ Journey to the Exorcist and Beyond. Look for a review of her autobiography in a future issue of Living Dead.
Cast members of the popular 1990 Clive Barker film Nightbreed took a moment to dig their teeth into Living Dead Magazine instead of each other.
Horror artist Gary Pullin appreciates our magazine, while we appreciate his amazing art. Hopefully you can look forward to seeing Gary’s work in an upcoming issue. 5
NEWS OF THE DEAD Est. 2013
Brought to you by Lady Terminator (Erika Instead)
Love hurts like hell Ever wake up with a wicked hangover and reach up to steady your spinning head, only to discover you’ve sprouted a pair of horns? No? Well, that’s what happened to poor Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe). As if things haven’t been horrible enough since the love of his life, Merrin (Juno Temple), was found raped and murdered. To add to his living hell, the people of his hometown blame him for her dreadful demise. And now he has horns—horns that compel people to confess their most terrible secrets. It’s those secrets that lead Ig on the path to unraveling the truth behind Merrin’s ghastly fate. Join Ig on his hellish journey this Halloween in the film Horns, directed by Alexandre Aja (High Tension), and based on the novel of the same name by author Joe Hill (NOS4A2). Get horn-y in US theaters on Oct. 31!
Evil lurks within The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif. is a ship brimming with ghostly legends and reports of paranormal activity. All year long, tours are available for the curious and the brave to explore the lore of this infamously spooky vessel. But it’s during those autumn days between Oct. 2 and Nov. 2 that the port is transformed into a horror lover’s delight and becomes the Dark Harbor. This unique attraction includes rides in the Monster Midway, a freak show, live music, costume contests, drag shows and six mazes, each with their own story, theme and professional actors. If you’re feeling especially daring, you can even participate in the Encounters Experience where participants can explore the bows of the ship in a private ghost hunting expedition. Or you can indulge in the Scare and Stay hotel package and spend the night aboard the haunted craft. If you think you’d like to skip along with lil’ Scary Mary, dance with the ghostly Graceful Gale or play amongst the many other monsters of Dark Harbor, be sure to check out The Queen Mary’s website for more information at queenmary.com.
Where is Oderus Urungus? The scumdogs of the metal band GWAR are journeying forth from their Antarctic stronghold on a quest to find their missing brother, Oderus. They vow to cavity search every crack and crevice of his favorite territory until they unearth the answer to their question, “Where is Oderus Urungus?” In this time of darkness, they summon the assistance of their allies and the newest members of GWAR, the Berserker Blóthar and Vulvatron. Join the intergalactic warriors on their North American tour as they gather with fans to celebrate the life and mourn the loss of the band’s beloved founder and lead singer, Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus. The GWAR Eternal Tour 2014 kicks off at The Norva in Norfolk, Va. on Oct. 15 and wraps up on Dec. 13 in Baltimore, Md. at Baltimore Soundstage. A complete list of dates can be found at gwar.net. 6
the haunting at
circus circus By Nowal Massari When people think of Las Vegas, they tend to think of debauchery. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, as the saying goes. However, most people don’t often think of the dark and seedy history of this desert tourist town. While it isn’t uncommon knowledge that the mafia used to run the town, there are some details—some may say speculations—that some of us ghost hunters find extremely interesting. Considering all of the people who disappeared during the glory days of the mafia, it should come as no surprise that paranormal investigators flock to the area to try to communicate with those poor, unfortunate souls. While there are quite a few hotels that are rumored to be haunted, there is one at the edge of the strip that has yet to be thoroughly investigated— Circus Circus. Jay Sarno, responsible for giving the world Caesars Palace, opened his second casino, Circus Circus, in October of 1968. The $15 million circus themed facility originally only featured a casino and not a hotel, and unfortunately for Sarno, the high rollers always went to the casinos where they were given comped suites. Facing financial ruin, he turned to the Teamsters Pension Fund and took out a $23 million loan, thus allowing Chicago Outfit enforcer Anthony Spilotro (under the assumed name Tony Stuart), to run a gift shop out of the hotel. After continuous financial issues and an investigation into his connections with organized crime, Sarno and his business partner sold their ownership for $25 million in 1974. While this all seems like your run-of-the-mill old Vegas situation, there were darker things going on in the casino when the mobsters were in control. There are countless reports of people falling out of windows to their deaths. Even though the true cause of the deaths—whether accidents or murder—remain unverified to this day, it’s still certain that
people did in fact die on the property. As any paranormal investigator will tell you, that kind of thing leaves a sort of imprint or scar, which in turn could result in some serious residual energy hanging around—in other words, hauntings. One tale claims that a woman checked into room 123 with her young son, but never checked out. It is said that she was searching for her husband, a dark haired man named Robert, when she shot and killed her child and then herself. No one really knows why she did it, but there you have it. A more wild rumor attached to this story is that anyone matching the physical description with the name Robert will be murdered, specifically hung, if they stay in that room. Unsurprisingly, there is no evidence to support that specific claim. Room 123 isn’t the only room in Circus Circus with paranormal activity. It’s said that in the poker room, you can hear disembodied voices crying and sometimes screaming for help. In the bathroom of room 203, you can hear whispers that grow to bloodcurdling screams, and rooms 230 and 576 allegedly host some spirits as well. A retired hotel employee claims that three people were murdered in the kitchen one night, but there are no reports of any related hauntings. It's still spooky to know that people died where your food is being made. I would investigate Circus Circus myself, but I’m afraid—not of the spirits, you see, but of all of the clowns that decorate the halls. You can lock me in a dark, violently haunted, abandoned building any night of the week, but if there are clowns involved, I’m out. So next time you find yourself in Sin City, be sure to check out the Circus Circus hotel and poke around a little for me. Maybe you’ll run into some of the ghosts that reside there, which is a definite jackpot for us ghost hunters. LIVINGDEADMAGAZINE.COM
STALKER'S CORNER by Chazlyn Lovely Welcome to Stalker’s Corner where we openly creep out and obsess about what’s new with celebs, artists, shows, body parts and anything else that makes our pants tight and our hearts stop. For this “Freakshow” issue we update you on TV’s strangest show American Horror Story.
It’s been nine months since we underwent the “The Seven Wonders” and found our new Supreme. We’ve languished for nine long months since the terrifying pairing of Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), where they teamed together for what must have been the most bloodthirsty business meeting ever, and we have done it all without the ability to play it on repeat. At long last, American Horror Story: Coven is being released on Blu-ray and DVD on Oct. 7. We get 594 minutes of witchy women either on 3 discs (Blu-ray) or 4 discs (DVD). AHS fans can now binge watch the episodes in preparation of the new season, or take a look at some other nifty special features such as Zombie Halloween, Enter the Coven or Meet Ms. Nola.
American Horror Story: Coven is available on Blu-ray and DVD on October 7th.
Funko Gets In on the Freakshow Fun! Damn you, Funko. Damn you. How can we resist collecting all of the adorably large-headed, doe-eyed figures you’ve bewitched us with? American Horror Story is the latest show to get the Pop! Vinyl treatment and honestly, we can’t even be mad about it anymore. Just look at the devilish Papa Legba, the oddly alien Rubber Man and the delightfully wicked Marie Laveau. How can you not put them, well, pretty much everywhere in your home? Might we suggest starting with your voodoo altar? Currently, the collection consists mainly of season one’s Tate Langdon and his kinky alter ego, and season three characters Cordelia Foxx, Fiona Goode, Marie Laveau, Misty Day, Myrtle Snow and Papa Legba. Hot Topic hosts exclusive versions of post-eyesight Cordelia and blood-splattered mother Fiona, but there’s no word as of yet as to the possibility of Funko returning to the asylum for some season two fun.
Design for the Dead
We all know that the most anticipated American Horror Story season, “Freak Show,” premieres on October 8th. But did you know that in honor of the premiere FX launched a costume design competition? The contest invited participants “with an eye for the unusual” to design an original costume inspired by the series. Contestants were then asked to submit their American Horror Story sketches along with a description of their design inspirations, which will be judged by the show’s head costume designer Lou Eyrich, Fashion Designer Christian Siriano, and President of Marketing and On-air Promotions for FX, Stephanie Gibbons. The Grand Prize winner will be awarded a $5,000.00 cash prize and the garment will be created and worn by a model in a special photo shoot. The winner will also get a meet and greet with set costume designer Lou Eyrich. The selected winning garment will be displayed on the American Horror Story website and shared on social media platforms. Additionally, a runner-up will receive a $1,500.00 cash prize, and social media acknowledgement. We for one can’t wait to see some of the amazing designs that come out of this freak show! You can watch American Horror Story: Freak Show on FX on Wednesdays, starting with its premiere October 8th with a winner of the design contest unveiled shortly thereafter. For more details visit: http://www.ahsdesigncontest.com/ LIVINGDEADMAGAZINE.COM
a tour of haunts from east to west
by kino mcfarland
With Halloween around the corner, haunted houses and attractions are popping up all over the place. Many are no longer single standing houses, but entire theme parks of fear. Here is a heart-pounding coast-to-coast list for scare junkies. Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus StranglingBrothers.com • Draper, UT & Dallas, TX
A malicious ringmaster tormented his collection of freaks, outcasts and orphans. Now, a hundred years later, those same circus freaks are out for revenge. This haunt is crawling with clowns looking for blood and contains some Hollywood-like effects. With locations open in Draper, Utah and Dallas, Texas, and new locations opening in Chicago and Houston in 2015, this is a haunt to die for.
Fright Town FrightTown.com • Portland, OR Lovecraftian nightmares, werechickens and a coven of twisted maniacs, Fright Town has it all. Three haunts in one location ensures that you will have nightmares for weeks. One haunt is The Witch House, which you can investigate after the police do not turn up to verify the rumors of demonic cultists killing outsiders. The Madness offers a theme based on the Cthulhu Mythos and you wander through Port Howard, where unspeakable evils lurk. If you survive those two, check out Baron Von Goolo’s Museum of Horrors. Von Goolo’s collection of the occult and paranormal will send you running and screaming.
The House of Horror Amusement Park HouseOfHorrorPark.com • Doral, Florida This is the largest haunted house in South Florida, hosting 30 terrifying rooms that will leave you screaming for more. This haunt also has rides, food and live entertainment, such as escape artist Michael Griffin and Hulk Hogan’s Micro Championship Wrestling.
The Dark Carnival DarkCarnivalHauntedHouse.com • Bayville, NJ Inside the carnival are four attractions that play on your fears. The Dark Carnival is a maze of over 1,500 feet featuring freaks of all kinds. The Meat Grinder is where the Pig Man hides and where animals are tortured. Night Terrors toys with your vision, as this maze is entirely in the dark and you will need your other senses to navigate. After experiencing these three mazes, you may find yourself seeking psychiatric evaluation. The Sanitarium (the fourth attraction) may offer what you need.
Freakling Brothers FreaklingBros.com • Las Vegas, NV The Freakling Brothers offer The Trilogy of Terror with the Circus of Horrors, Gates of Hell and Castle Vampyre. The Freakling Brothers have set the standard for haunts several times over, first with mobile haunted attractions and then with Nevada’s first R-rated attraction in 2011 (Gates of Hell). The Circus of Horrors and Castle Vampyre are your typical haunts, but the Gates of Hell takes the horror to another level. It is said that you die several times over when inside. 10
Bennett’s Curse Haunted House BennettsCurse.com • Jessup, MD Located between Baltimore and Washington, DC, this haunt boasts three gruesome attractions. The Medieval Underworld attraction takes place in Castle Bennett, which has been taken over by Gorgoth, a vicious king, and his vampire knights. Inferno 3D is based on Dante’s Inferno and takes you through the nine circles of Hell as you journey to your final judgment. If you make it out of the Inferno, try the Sanctuary of Insanity next. Supernatural entities drive the insane further down the rabbit hole.
All Saints Lunatic Asylum AllSaintsAsylum.com • Apple Valley, CA Ms. Caroline Collins recently acquired the All Saints Lunatic Asylum and decided to open the asylum doors to the public for tours. It is said that the money to purchase the property came from murdering her past husbands. Not all who are in the asylum belong there, but being there is enough to make them go insane. Tread carefully when you visit, as not all who enter leave the premises.
The House of Shock Horror Show HouseOfShock.com • Jefferson, LA 2014 is your last chance to visit The House of Shock Horror Show as they are closing their doors after this season. Because it is the final year for the haunt, they are planning a huge event. Admission to the haunted house includes admission to the Halloween festival. The haunted house includes monsters with superb makeup that could be on television. Inside the festival you will find music, fire, food, fire, alcohol, fire, stunts and fire. This is not an event to be missed.
Land of Illusion LandOfIllusion.com • Middletown, OH Land of Illusion is one of the best haunts in Ohio. This year they are promising six attractions. The main admission ticket gives you access to Killer Klowns (a circus of horrors), the Voodoo Bayou Shanty (legendary Bloody Bill’s shanty inhabited by the Dubois family), the Middletown Haunted Trail (a hike through the woods featuring madmen and ghouls that has been open to the public since 1997), Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate (the mad scientist’s house bursts with mutilated mental patients and more) and the Temple of Terror (a labyrinth teeming with ghouls unleashed by a curse). A separate ticket gives you access to the Zombie Sniper Patrol, where you ride in a US Army cargo truck and fire paintballs at a horde of zombies. Land of Illusion is a haunt you do not want to miss.
HeadlessHorseman.com • Ulster Park, NY Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses offers nine attractions where you can let go of your bloodcurdling screams. With a witchy hayride, a sideshow walkthrough, a demonic corn maze and six haunted houses, you will certainly find something to scare yourself silly. Haunted house themes include The Lunar Motel, Slither’s Pet Shop, Glutton’s Diner, The Nightshade Nursery and Greenhouse, The Feeding: Flesh They Crave and The Mansion of Dahlia Blood. Each of the attractions has their own backstory on the website that will prepare you for a terrifying night of fun.
Barrett’s Haunted Mansion BHMansion.com • Abington, MA Barrett’s Haunted Mansion changes every year and this year the clowns have taken over. Clowns and other monsters lurk in the darkness of this haunt, but if that is too scary for you, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour with the lights on. For three nights this season, they will turn out all of the lights and you can navigate the haunt in total darkness. They even offer dinner at the Ale House before you attend on Thursdays and Sundays.
Wisconson Feargrounds WisconsonFeargrounds.com • Waukesha, WI This is another three-haunts-in-one deal to die for. Morgan Manor is a haunted house hosted by Morgana and her eight sisters. Be careful when you step foot inside, as they smell fear. The Carnevil is a freak show of terror owned by Morgana and her sisters. You may believe that you are safe, but these menacing minions will probably eat your soul. New this year is the Black Out attraction. Conquer your nyctophobia or remain trapped, forever in the dark.
FAVORITE Clown character
in Stephen King’s It (1990) Actor : Tim Curry / Director : Tommy Lee Wallace
in The Dark Knight (2008) Actor : Heath Ledger / Director : Christopher Nolan
“Let go. Be afraid. You all taste so much better when you’re afraid.”
“Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!”
Shakes The Clown
in Stephen King’s Shakes the Clown (1991) Actor & Director : Bobcat Goldthwait “Look kid, you’re a loser. Your parents had to pay grown men to come and play with you today, because kids collectively, on a whole, think you suck.”
in various Batman episodes, games & comics Voice Actress : Arleen Sorkin Creator : Paul Dini & Bruce Timm “Whatever you say, Mistah J! Just gimme a sec to find the form and I’ll commit myself!”
Cheezo, Bippo & Dippo
Played by the famous Lon Chaney, not a word must even be spoke to strike mixed emotions about this tragic clown that succumbs to insanity.
Three escaped mental patients have murdered some traveling circus clowns and taken their identities.
Michael (The Dedman) Jones
in Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) Actor : Lon Chaney / Director : Herbert Brenon
in Clownhouse (1989) Actors : Michael Jerome West, Byron Weible, David C. Reinecker / Director : Victor Salva
in Gacy (2003) Actor : Mark Holton / Director : Clive Saunders
in Circus of the Dead (2014) Actor : Bill Oberst, Jr. / Director : Billy Pon
“A clown can get away with murder.” A famous line from the man who inspired our fears of clowns as he was a real life clown turned psychotic murderer.
Covered in this issue, Papa Corn is bound to become a creepy clown favorite in the hearts of horror lovers for ages to come.
Nowal Massari (ZeeGee)
Flappy the Clown
in PeeWee’s Big Adventure (1985) Director : Tim Burton
in Vulgar (2000) Actor : Bill O’Halloran / Director : Bryan Johnson
Seen operating on poor PeeWee Herman’s missing bike in a terrifying and nightmarish dream sequence.
“I’m.... I’m a party clown for kids.”
james r beach
in Poltergeist (1982) Director : Tobe Hooper Although only in the film for a moment, this creepy doll is still the thing of nightmares and seriously, what child would even want to play with this?!
in House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Reject Actor : Sid Haig / Director : Rob Zombie “Howdy Folks! You like blood? Violence? Freaks of nature? Well then, come on down to Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Mad-Men.” LIVINGDEADMAGAZINE.COM
GOSPEL OF GORE WITH THE REVEREND JEFF JUGULAR Join Reverend Jeff Jugular as he praises the virtues of living a life filled with subversive cinema. He will help cleanse your soul of the boring megaplex madness by suggesting the very best and worst in horror/ cult cinema.
Does the sight of a clown tickle your fancy? It’s ok if they do. You’re amongst friends here, you can admit it. I’m not here to judge—my third wife was a clown and we had some damn good times together—but I’ll be the first to admit she was crazier than an outhouse rat. Obviously I am here to help, but I think I should let you know that you are in the minority. It’s a pretty safe bet that 99% of the population doesn’t like clowns, well... I say to hell with them! This column is for you freaks. I have scrounged around in the big dirty tent of clown-themed cinema to find a few selections you may have missed. Now you will not find Stephen King’s It, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects, or the mountain of clown porn here, because any clown fanatic worth his or her weight in jellybeans already has these in their collection.
dressed in white (genre icon Christopher Lee) and decides to move his obnoxious family into it. Once there, all sorts of zany shenanigans start up, none of it making a lick of sense. The characters enter some kind of mind bending carnival of horrors as they are picked off one by one by a wise cracking clown/ jester with a Scottish accent. Obviously influenced by Freddy Kruger in his Henny Youngman faze, our killer funnyman spends the film making silly quips and constantly breaking the fourth wall, talking to ‘us’ more than to the characters on the screen.
Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928)
“A clown who doesn’t finish a party can never rest in peace.” That’s the clown code for this amusing UK horror flick. The film begins with Stitches the clown being ambushed by a group of rotten kids while performing at a birthday party. The little tykes sabotage Stitches’ act, resulting in the clown kissing the bad end of a butcher knife. Flash forward a number of years and those rotten kids are now rotten teens, and when they all get together for a night of fun, Stitches returns from the grave to finish the party. This fairly straight forward dead-teens flick is highlighted by a good number of cartoonishly gory deaths. My fave being when Stitches disembowels a poor lad and makes balloon animals out of his intestines. Party fun time!
This film stars Lon Chaney, known as the man of 1000 faces and universally regarded as one of cinema’s first true motion pictures stars. Chaney portrays Flick, a traveling circus clown who finds an abandoned little girl and decides to raise her on his own. When the girl becomes a woman, at the ripe old age of 14, she becomes the object of affection for a young, wealthy baron. In true creepy clown fashion, her father/ guardian realizes he has special feelings for her as well. This is a classic of the silent film era, and should not be missed, featuring a heartbreaking yet masterful performance by Lon Chaney.
Do Clowns Turn You On?
Funny Man (1994) I am not sure exactly what the hell was going on in this picture. Apparently an unlikable chap wins a large estate in a card game from a mysterious gentleman 14
We All Scream For Ice Scream (2007) William Forsythe plays Buster the ice cream man—a slow-witted yet lovable man who likes to dress as a clown and deliver treats from his pink ice cream truck. A group of bullies, who call themselves The Eastside Bunch, pull a prank on Buster resulting in the clown being squashed by his own
ice cream truck. Twenty years later, someone is knocking off The Eastside Bunch one by one. Has Buster the Ice Cream Man returned for revenge? You bet your big red nose he has! Featuring some fine sweet, gooey effects work and directed by Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child’s Play), this is one of the better episodes of the second season of the Masters Of Horror TV series.
Blood Harvest (1987)
A young college girl returns to her farm town to discover her parents missing and her family home vandalized. With the sheriff unwilling to help, her only allies are a childhood boyfriend and his clown-faced brother, played by a then 56 year old Tiny Tim. WTF? This late 80’s slasher is a trash movie lover’s delight, filled with inane dialogue, atrocious acting and a good number of boobs and bush shots by our fine lead actress. It is simply craptastic! However, it’s the performance of 60’s singer Tiny Tim as Marvelous Mervo that pushes this movie over the edge: he sings, he cries, he prays and he lurks around windows spying on girls. It’s a performance that can only be described as batshit bonkers. Highly recommended!
Clowns can get away with murder a review of Circus of the Dead by Editor-in-Chief Deanna Uutela
It is hard to imagine any other clown in a horror film reaching the level of Captain Spaulding on the sleaze-o-meter, or bringing on the violence and gore that the trio of clowns in Clownhouse were able to achieve. That was until I saw director Billy Pon’s first feature film, Circus of the Dead. Actor Bill Oberst Jr.’s character, Papa Corn, has them all beat— down to a bloody cum-soaked pulp. The clown they call Papa Corn clearly has issues. Maybe his daddy smacked him around too much, maybe his mommy didn’t breastfeed him, maybe the local clowns got a little too hands on with him as a boy or maybe he spanked it too often to pictures of his mom getting guys off down at the local peep show. Who knows the reason Papa Corn is the way he is, but whatever happened to him, Papa Corn has become a fucked up clown with a strong desire to kill, rape and have fun torturing everyone else that gets in his way. And luckily for him, he isn’t the only head case at the “greatest show on Earth.” Papa has a flock of funny men who get off on killing as much as he does. Every clown has their own entertaining personality and part that they play in this deadly circus— each one as brutal as the next. I am a huge fan of Depression-era carnivals and I appreciated the more old-timey looking makeup and clothing that were chosen for the characters to wear. I also appreciated the use of the 1924 song “Doo Wacka Doo” by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, and the strange musty attic feel that Papa Corn created in his trailer. All of this helped add to the extreme creepiness of the film. It was like a reminder that you are in their world now, and in their world life is but a game and they are making all the rules. Life or death is literally a game to them—they choose their specific targets to kill based off of a Mexican
picture card game that looks similar to tarot cards. These cards play a part in some of the comic relief of the film, and in giving you a nice helping of some heart-stopping suspense. Bill Oberst Jr. did a stellar job at being both amusing, disgusting and terrifying all at the same time. The man pulls off being disturbed better than anyone out there. My only comment would be to maybe hold back on the drool factor just a little. I know it adds to the insanity and even the homoeroticism of his part, but damn, I felt like I had accidentally switched to watching Turner & Hooch for a few scenes. Speaking of waterworks, actor Parrish Randall did a standout performance as the troubled dad who has to try and save his kids while witnessing and committing some of the most gruesome acts in the entire film. The entire cast was top-notch, and you really couldn’t tell by watching this film that it was made on a pretty tight budget. Just like with director Billy Pon’s popular horror short Doll Boy, you can also expect some awesome one-liners and shocking kills in Circus of the Dead, including some skull fucking, baby tossing and Papa Corn saying some zingers like, “Come to the circus, bitch!” But in between all the messed up gore is a seriously well-written film with some great twists, stomach-churning moments, a very fitting ending, appropriate comedic moments and a very memorable plot. In a sea of mediocre or even horrible horror films being made these days, Circus of the Dead stands out from the piles of shit and is an impressive first feature that director Billy Pon should be very proud of. He is a director to watch out for, and I, for one, am looking forward to his follow-up film. And if you watch the surprise at the end of the credits, you are definitely left with the feeling that much more damage is still to be performed by the Circus of the Dead.
Freaks a look at the controversial film 80 years later By Gary Castleberry
The carnie code is strong. Mess with one of them and you are likely to end up like the conniving, greedy Cleopatra in Tod Browning’s masterpiece Freaks, who is turned into the one thing she fears and ridicules the most—a freak. A film way beyond its time, Freaks forced audience members to really see the people in these freak shows as human beings, not the sideshow acts they are forced to be. By displaying love, compassion and family in these characters, Browning attempted to show that the real monsters are not these so called "freaks," but the big people—as they refer to regular-sized humans in the film—who laugh at them every day. Browning himself knew the subject matter well, having had fallen in love at the age of 16 with a circus dancer. He followed the dancer from place to place, joining the circus himself as a clown, jockey and director of a variety theater. Browning’s message unfortunately was not well-received. Browning’s use of actual sideshow performers and people with deformities not only made viewers uncomfortable and outraged, but seeing them up close and personal in their world—instead of in the shadows of a circus where they believed they belonged—was too much for audiences to handle in 1932. Whether it was admitted or not, I am also sure the public did not like being called out for their often horrible treatment of "freaks," and in their guilt, they turned on the film and everyone involved. Banned in the U.K. for over 30 years, the controversial movie effectively ended the career of Browning, a once highly respected and celebrated director. He would only direct four more films before his career ended entirely in 1939. Beloved writer Bram Stoker was also virtually out of the business after writing the script for Freaks. He never survived the reception. And what was to become of the Freaks cast, the true heroes of this film who bravely put their deformities and feelings on display for the entire world to see? Hans and Frieda, the short-statured leads of the film, were actually brother and sister named Harry and Daisy Earles. After Freaks, Harry went on to become one of the Lollipop Guild members in The Wizard of Oz. Daisy retired from show business and they, along with their two siblings, retired in Florida and had a house built just for them with everything the perfect height for the family. Harry and Daisy lived until the 1980s.
Daisy and Violet Hilton, the conjoined twins, went on to perform in sideshows and toured the USA. Sadly, they were abandoned in Charlotte, North Carolina by their manager, which forced them to get a job at a local grocery store. In 1969, they failed to appear at work and were found dead of the Hong Kong flu. Schlitzie, the most well-known of the "pinheads," was actually a man who wore a dress to make going to the restroom easier. He made several films then joined the Tom Mix Circus in 1935 and was adopted by George Surtees the same year. When Surtees died in 1965, Schlitzie was placed in a hospital and became very depressed, missing the sideshow atmosphere. A sword swallower named Bill Unks, who worked at the facility during the off-season, recognized Schlitzie. Schlitzie was made a ward of showman Sam Alexander, Unks' employer, and was brought back to the sideshow he loved so much, where he performed until 1968. Sadly, in 1971, Schlitzie passed away from bronchial pneumonia at the age of 70. Johnny Eck, the half boy who walked on his hands (who did have legs that were simply underdeveloped and tucked under special clothes), went on to make several Tarzan films and lived until 1991. Frances Oâ€™Connor, who was born with no arms, went on to appear in various sideshows demonstrating drinking, eating, smoking a cigarette and painting all with her feet. She passed in 1982 at the age of 67. Pete Robinson, the human skeleton, weighed 58 pounds and married fellow entertainer Baby Bunny Smith, the 467 pound fat lady, and they had two children.
The amazing Prince Randian, also known as The Living Torso (he had no arms or legs), went on to perform in sideshows and married Princess Sarah. He fathered four daughters and one son. Angelo Rossitto, the small person who chanted gooble-gobble at the engagement party, appeared in many other films with his last major acting role being in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Freaks found its way back to the public in the 1960s, and has been a beloved cult classic ever since. Like many films that were so unappreciated during their time, we salute Tod Browning, Bram Stroker and all of the very special sideshow performers who shed light on their lives, loves, constant abuse and heartache. You are true innovators who will forever be in our hearts and minds. One of us. Gooble-gobble.
BY GARY CASTLEBERRY
all photos courtesy of side show world
When we were kids, I think all of us wanted to run away and join the circus or carnival. It was so exotic and so different from our boring “normal” lives—a chance to travel the world without rules, school or parents. The way the talkers (barkers) would sell the shows, how could one not want to run away and be a circus performer? They would stand in front of the tents shouting, “Hurry hurry hurry, step right up and see the snake girl. She walks, she talks, she crawls on her belly like a snake!” Ah, the naivety of children. How sweet. The reality for many of these performers was a far cry from what we imagined as children. Many performers had no other options to make money and had to put their deformities on display night after night whether they enjoyed it or not, and most of them didn’t. Some performers were abandoned by family and had nowhere else to go. Others were sold into the circus, or in the worst case even kidnapped and forced to perform. But these are the most extreme cases. Every individual has a different story to tell. Whether it was right or not, after a lot of public outcry saying these performers were being exploited, sadly the carnival sideshows went away. In some horrible cases they truly were being abused and exploited, and were happy to leave the stronghold that forced them into this life, but in other cases the performers loved carnival life and were upset to now lose their only income and their only family. As times and attitudes changed, so did the acceptance of the carnival sideshows, and a revival of these shows came to be once again. But unlike in the past, where performers might not have had any other choice of employment and were treated like “freaks,” performers nowadays are part of a talented group of individuals who are applauded for their incredible skills, appreciated for their differences and respected for playing their part in preserving a treasured part of American history. One man responsible for keeping the history and present-day sideshow world alive and available to the world is John Robinson. John is the mastermind behind Sideshow World, a one stop website for all things concerning sideshows, its performers and personal accounts from fans and performers alike. John, welcome to our freaky little family of carnival lovers at Living Dead Magazine.
Proud owner and side show enthusiast John Robinson
Living Dead Magazine: First, I would like to ask you, how did this incredible site and organization come to be?
seen and heard just about everything. What are some of your best stories from promoting this site and being around sideshows and performers?
John Robinson: I joined a site called Sideshow Central in 2004. In February 2005, Sideshow Central was retired and offered for sale. At that time, the site was only 100 pages or so. The other staff didn’t want to continue working on the site, but they made the decision not [to] sell it because they knew of my great love and investment in the world of the sideshow, so I turned it into Sideshow World and made the commitment to "keep the candle burning," as Slim Price would ask all of us to do. With all the wonderful support from the community, Sideshow World remains the greatest show in cyberspace, and is a place where showmen/women, performers and fans alike can come share, learn and keep the show alive on the inside.
JR: Yes, I have heard and shared a lot of history and jackpots with the many people I have become friends with. You can find many great stories in “The Good Old Days” section on Sideshow World.
LDM: John, where did you get the passion to keep the sideshows alive in our current times? JR: I guess you would say it all started as a child. My first impressions of the circus sideshow [were] at the age of about 5. I was a fan of the television show Circus Boy with Micky (Braddock) Dolenz, who is probably best known for his role as a singer and a drummer in the 1960s music group The Monkees. I really enjoyed all of his adventures. While other kids my age were watching Lassie, I was playing circus performer with Corky, Bimbo, his pet elephant, and the rest of the circus performers. I also remember every fall when the circus came to town. Posters would start appearing on all the vacant buildings. As the days got closer for the circus to arrive, the excitement would build. I would run down to Wall Boulevard and stand there on the sidewalk waiting for the first sight of the train to pull into the station. Then they unloaded the wagons and animals to assemble them for the grand parade. With wide eyes, I watched with wonderment as the elephants, the clowns and the fire eater passed. I wanted so badly to join in the parade and be part of the grand show as it passed. LDM: What will readers find when they enter the Sideshow World website? JR: We try to collect as much history as we can. Before the Internet, it would have been impossible to have had contact with as many people as you can today. I have met people from all over the world who have shared their experiences and history on the Sideshow World website. LDM: Over the years, you have most likely
Here’s one of my favorite jackpots: “It’s Truly Amazing’ Truly amazing how everything gets twisted and deformed in the sideshow world... Including the truth... Here it is, factual and verifiable... Not pickled in a jar, stuffed or mummified... Plain and unvarnished... Swearonastackabiblestruth... I was riding shotgun in a classic Pete after three hundred miles dragging an Eli factory mount to Allen Mofield’s Gibtown shop for repairs... Veteran Showman and longtime friend Bob was at the wheel and in a hurry to make it back to Indiantown by closing to collect his stew and make draws for the crew... I was in the right seat twisting one... All of a sudden the bobtail Pete swerves and damnear rolls on the two lane... I came within inches of total disaster... It was only a miracle and quick reflexes that prevented me from spilling the rudy... I couldn’t believe what I saw in the road... A perfectly formed dappled gray tiny horse so small it could almost stand in the palm of your hand... Inches away from being flattened by the longnose Pete... I had just minutes before been telling Bob that our old friend had a house somewhere nearby... I called a guy on my cell and asked if he was home, did he have a gray miniature horse, did he know its whereabouts... After some panicky middle of the night noises he was headed out on the highway to round up the escaped equine... By this time Bobby and I were miles away... We concluded that the little horse was simply tired of being in the barn and anxious to hit the road...” [sic] LDM: Are there any personal favorite sideshows or performers you would like to tell our readers about? JR: The Big Circus Sideshow was one of my favorites. My friend Jim Zajicek was a mas-
ter showman and curator of The Big Circus Sideshow. This past July he passed away. Jim always ran a class act, and he was one of the greatest showmen of our day. With his passing, there is one less great show on the midways of America today. If you ever have the chance to visit one of the sideshows, grind shows or the many performers that work these shows and clubs today, go! You will be amazed and shocked at what they have to offer. LDM: Your site has some links to some fantastic performers. Does one simply click on the link and contact the performer themselves? JR: The links will take you to their sites. Some are direct to performers, others to their management. But book them and you will have direct access to them at your event. LDM: Sideshow World also has a link to current carnivals and sideshows. Do you have high hopes for the future of sideshows and carnivals? JR: Sideshow World—the site and staff are volunteer. We don’t receive funding to keep this show going. We do it because the past needs to be saved, the present needs to be enjoyed and the future of it continues to needs promotion. Since I started Sideshow World, I’ve seen many changes in how the show has evolved. When I think of a sideshow, I think of the 10-1 big tent shows, which means there [are] 10 acts in the show. Today there’s not many shows of that size left. We have a lot of freedom because the site doesn’t have stockholders and we don’t have to answer to the business world. We can do what needs to be done just because the community wants it. Without everyone’s support, Sideshow World would not have become the success it has. LDM: Your motto seems to be “preserve the past, enjoy the present, promote the future.” JR: It’s definitely our goal here at Sideshow World to preserve the past and promote the future of the business so that we can enjoy the present. LDM: We here at Living Dead Magazine are very happy to help in promoting your (and our) love for carnivals and freak shows past, present and future. We also thank you for sharing your knowledge of these great events with us. It’s been an honor and a load of fun. We wish you all the best. For some of the best stories, best performers and best photos of sideshows visit Sideshow World at sideshowworld.com, and for any questions, or if you want to
The master mind behind The Pumpkin Geek, artist Alex Wer
I bid you welcome to Monster Makers. Here we shine the spotlight on those talented and skilled individuals who actually make monsters. The creations range from sculptures to life-size horror props to special effects makeup. We explore what it takes to create these monsters and the gifted people that do so. In this issue, we put the spotlight on Alex Wer, known around the world as â€œThe Pumpkin Geek.â€? Alex creates world famous custom carvings on craft pumpkins that last forever. His creations are truly incredible works of art and craftsmanship. Alex, welcome to our freaky little family of horror lovers! 22
Living Dead Magazine: Alex, I am amazed at your skill and creativity. How did you begin pumpkin art and carvings that look so real? Alex Wer: Well, I simply wanted to be the cool neighbor at Halloween, and every year [I] got more obsessed with trying to create more realistic carves. After doing some online research, I discovered shading techniques. This is a process where you not only cut through the pumpkin, but add dimension by shading various depths or layers. LDM: When I first heard of your art, I wondered how this would be practical due to the fairly short lifespan of pumpkins. Can you shed some light on your methods? AW: I started on organic pumpkins like everyone else. About eight years ago, my wife asked me to carve her company logo for an open house at the beginning of October. I didn’t want it to die before the end of the month, so I went to Michaels [Arts and] Crafts store and found they sold craft pumpkins. These are artificial pumpkins that look real, but last a lifetime. When the party
LDM: Alex, how long does it take to carve a pumpkin, and how many of these do you go through in a month’s time? AW: I usually block out about 3–5 hours per carve, some a bit longer depending on the complexity. Every month is different, but I have done as many as 75 in one month in the past. LDM: Your carvings have a 3D look to them. At first glance, they look as if someone had done a great drawing on the pumpkin. Then you look a bit closer and realize it’s a carving. How do you create this fabulous special effect? AW: Well, I have taken the basic shading technique I mentioned to the extreme. When I first started, I would cut portions out, shade about halfway through the pumpkin and then leave the rest of the carve untouched—this was a “three layer carve.” It looked good, but not the photorealism I wanted to achieve. Now I actually do three layers of the shaded portion and—along with the cutout and top layer—created a “five layer carve” that gives me the ability to really capture a 3D-like carve. LDM: October would seem to be your busy time of the year with Halloween and fall activities. Many people believe that Halloween is a yearlong event as we do here at Living Dead Magazine. Do you stay busy after the Halloween season doing custom jobs for clients? AW: The funny thing is that once people have my work in front of them, it no longer becomes just a pumpkin for Halloween, and they keep it out year-round. I get a lot of orders for Christmas gifts. People now view my work as simply a creative art piece and a great conversation starter. Pumpkins displayed in your home in March? You bet!
Huge fan of The Pumpkin Geek, actress Jeri Ryan, shows off her likeness.
LDM: You have done custom carvings for numerous celebrities. Will you tell our readers who some of your famous clients are? AW: I have done carves for everyone from Gene Simmons and Taylor Swift to Joe Mantegna, Ming-Na and LeVar Burton. But the most amazing celebrity is Jeri Ryan. She is such a fan of my work that she has even run a Twitter contest where the prize has been a carve I did of her that she autographed and sent to a fan. I was fortunate enough to meet her recently, and I cannot say enough kind things about how gracious she has been to me. LIVINGDEADMAGAZINE.COM 23
LDM: Alex, what is the toughest carving you have done, and how long did it take to complete it to your standards of perfection? AW: Probably the Star Wars battle scene on my site (“A long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away…”). It took about eight hours and was really difficult because of all the small details of the ships. It was a giveaway prize I did for a convention. The person that won was pretty happy with it. LDM: You have numerous accomplishments concerning your talent and skill. It’s time to brag a bit and tell our readers about the recognition you have received. AW: I have been very fortunate in the last year. To start, I won the first ever Geekie Award for my work in the art/ craft category. I was up against some amazing talent and was quite shocked when I won. It was like being at the Music Awards—Hollywood theater, cameras, a full audience and I had to make a speech. It was a humbling experience. After that I appeared on a few national TV shows and had a special feature on Yahoo!’s main page with Nikki Boyer—such a cool experience. And finally, while doing Wizard World Comic Con in Portland, I was actually hired to work for them, full-time, in their national sales department. Now I get to talk others into doing conventions, which [is] how I got my start. Everything from comic book stores, steampunk creators, corset designers and artisans. Now I get paid to talk to geeks all day. LDM: Alex, do you have any special projects or upcoming events in the future? What’s the next level for your amazing skill? AW: I’ve been asked to do a few movie projects for next year, but my carving time is limited because of my position with Wizard World. I do quite a bit of traveling to their conventions as well, but I do still find the ability to “carve” out time for custom orders. LDM: I want to thank you for a great interview, Alex. We here at Living Dead Magazine wish you all the best. I’m sure our readers will be amazed at your works of art. Should any of our readers want to see your work and your gallery of amazing carvings, how can they reach you? AW: Thank you for having me be part of Living Dead Magazine. I’m always available on Twitter (@ ThePumpkinGeek). People can see my work on my site, thepumpkingeek.com, and I can always be contacted at alex@thepumpkingeek. com for carves, or alex@wizar dwor ld.com for anyone interested in doing conventions.
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BRIAN MAZE ARTIST AND PHOTOGRAPHER OF MAZE STUDIOS MODELS FORTUNE TELLER (COVER) CAROLYN FIKANI ZOMBIE-GIRL CORI DIALS BEARDED LADY JENNIFER POND KNIFE THROWER FRANK DETH FEIGE DEATH PATRICK BOYER VAMPIRE ALEX DOLL SIAMESE TWINS CHRISTINA BRADSHAW WEREWOLF JERRY MOORE
Artist Brian Maze has drawn or has been creative in one fashion or another all of his life. Ever since his mom took him to the local comic book shop looking for old Tomb of Dracula comic books. His mother loved horror comics and old Christopher Lee Films, and in later years Bruce Campbell. He grew up drawing comic book characters and watching Chiller Theater with "Chilly Billy Cardille.” Chilly Billy was in Night of the Living Dead as a reporter, and he credits him and his mom for inspiring his love of B-movie culture. Brian himself has appeared recently on Monster Madhouse, Spooky Movie Television, & Creature Feature with Count Gore DeVol. A lot of his influences growing up were science fiction, horror and comic books, which translated into writing and drawing comic books. He started a web comic in 2001 called Mouser, which was about the adventures of daily life for anthropomorphic mouse. Mouser was followed by Freak Central a comic about the staff of a tabloid newspaper similar to the Weekly World News, which is where my mascot character "Monkeygoatboy" originated. The webcomic turned into actual comic books, which I did for several years. Then a friend of mine asked me to help her start a modeling portfolio. She liked the results and then I was contacted by her friends and off it went. What I thought was a winter break from comic books turned into a fulltime photography thing for the past five years. At first I shot primarily glamour style photography, but as I went along, my influences started creeping out of the cracks. I enjoy shooting theme shoots and capturing a film style. The shoot that is featured in this issue is Side Show based, which has been a love of mine since I was a kid when the traveling circus would come to town. The Big Top was your standard circus experience, but I found the side show terrifying. I worked together on this shoot with my good friend and collaborator Cori Dials. Cori is a musician, burlesque dancer and actress. We collaborated on her annual “Horror Pinup Girl Calendar: Things that Go Bump in the night!” Cori wanted to do a freakshow themed shoot in homage to the classic 1932 film Freaks and the memorable dinner scene. Brian does amazing art work along with photography, which we have used in past issues. You can check out his work and purchase his artwork at: https://www.facebook.com/mazestudio1 And to purchase the calendar he collaborated on with model Cori Dials you can visit: 26
bart transforms actor tim curry into pennywise
Are you afraid of clowns? The master behind your nightmares makeup legend bart mixon by matt majeski
At some point in time clowns stopped being recognized as the engineers of laughter and joy that they were designed to be and have instead turned into the face of fear for many adults and children. For some it is a fear they seem to just be born withâ€”untrusting of anything that is that happy all of the timeâ€”but for the rest of the people, they most likely have artist Bart Mixon, Stephen King and Tim Curry to thank for their phobia. In the year 1990, a TV mini-series called It, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, aired to the public for the first time. From the moment Pennywise appeared, horror history was made. Sure, Tim Curry played this character so terrifyingly well he should have won an Oscar, but it was the master behind the makeup who truly made Pennywise come to life. Legend Bart Mixon, whose resume is frankly as long as a boa constrictor, turned a clown into a monster more terrifying than any slasher king. We were thrilled to get the chance to talk to Mr. Mixon about his in-
Living Dead Magazine: First of all Bart, thank you so much for talking to us about your involvement with It. Bart Mixon: Thanks for asking. It's nice to have at least one character or creation that people respond positively to, and for me, I guess Pennywise is “it.” LDM: It sure is. Now, what was that spark of inspiration that made you want to get into special makeup effects? Was it because of Universal Horror films and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, as it was with other makeup artists? BM: For the most part, yes. When I was about 5 or 6, I saw King Kong, The Curse of the Werewolf and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, and I became an instant fan of fantasy and horror films. Around this time, I saw an article on the makeup for Dr. Lao in Look or LIFE magazine and I guess that planted the seed. A few years later, Planet of the Apes came out and that was another push in the makeup effects direction. Then in the early ‘70s, Famous Monsters ran an article on Rick Baker and his early work, and I think with that I was hooked. LDM: Eventually you made the step up into creating special makeup effects for several feature films, working on two of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films and even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Before we get into It—and since this issue is about carnivals and such—I read that you worked
as a fabricator on Killer Klowns from Outer Space. What was it like to work on that set and with the Chiodo Brothers? Was it as creative and insane as what we ended up seeing on film? BM: I only worked on Killer Klowns for about two weeks and that was on the night crew. I had just moved to [Los Angeles]. During the day I was at Rick Baker's shop on Gorillas in the Mist, and I took a second shift job at the Chiodos on Klowns. My only contribution to that was working on the fullsize Klownzilla hand. They had an armature built and bulked out to the dimensions needed, and had me sculpt two sets of skin textures to use on the hand and fingers. I did the sculptures, molds and ran a lot of latex skins that I then trimmed and glued to the hand form. I also made the fingernails out of corrugated cardboard, and that was that. A few years later I did work as their shop foreman for over a year on several films, including Visitors From the Unknown, Ernest Scared Stupid, Land of the Lost and Double Dragon. It was my time on Dragon that got me into the makeup union, Local 706. The Chiodos are great. They have a very unique artistic style. Charlie delivers in 2D and Stephen in 3D. They draw, paint, sculpt, do puppets, makeup effects, creatures, stop motion—you name it, they do it. I see them at least once a year at Monsterpalooza in Burbank, and we hope to get the chance to work together again someday. LDM: Great to hear. Let’s get to the film at
hand, It. I assume you got the job because you worked with Tommy Lee Wallace two years prior on Fright Night Part II. Could you perhaps elaborate on that? BM: In Hollywood, it’s true that it’s all about who you know. To back up just a little, my brother, Bret Mixon, was working in the roto department at Fantasy II Film Effects around 1984. I came out to LA to work on a Mark Shostrom film that ended up being canceled, so I had a few weeks to kill, so I did some animation assistance for my brother at Fantasy II where I met the owner, Gene Warren. He was interested in starting a creature effects arm for Fantasy II and we talked about it on and off over the next few years. When I moved to LA in ’87, while working with Rick on Gorillas, I did a little job for Gene on Dracula’s Widow. And once Gorillas was over, Gene got Fright Night Part II and had me set up the creature department called Make-Up FX Unlimited. Things worked out well on [Fright Night] Part II, so when Wallace got It two years later, he called Gene/Fantasy II who then called me. I did two other films for Tommy after It, Danger Island and And the Sea Will Tell. LDM: Excellent story. I’ve seen the concept art on your website for Pennywise, which looked pretty cool. Did the script give a specific description of what he should look like, or was it open to interpretation? And who came up with his final look? Was it Tommy Lee Wallace or someone from your effects team?
another well-known clown film, bart worked on killer clowns from outer space
BM: I think the script and book are pretty vague—just a white head with red hair, your classic Bozo the Clown look. So I had a pretty blank slate to start from. I did do a lot of research into clown looks and did a bit of sketching, some of which [is] on my website, but soon found that a lot of this was pointless until I had an actor. Once Tim [Curry] was cast, I did a series of sketches over his headshot and then three clay sketches over his lifecast. One was a very heavy character face with jowls and full facial coverage, the second also covered all his face but was more stylized and the third was loosely based on Lon Chaney’s [The Phantom from] The Phantom of the Opera, with a big forehead, upturned nose, cheeks and a chin. I painted all three and photographed them and sent the photos off to Tommy (who was in Vancouver prepping), who chose the version used in the film. I resculpted this look as a multipiece makeup consisting of an oversized cranium, nose, cheeks and chin. We then tested this makeup on Tim in two stages— with just the head and nose, and then with all the facial pieces that were later judged unnecessary. Tim had some thoughts as to what he wanted the paint job to look like, which I incorporated into what I needed, and we came up with a look Tommy was happy with. LDM: What actors were considered for Pennywise before Tim Curry got involved with the project? I read Alice Cooper was considered at one point. Is that true? BM: I had never heard the Alice Cooper rumor, but I can see why his name would have come up. While that might have been cool, Pennywise needed an actor with Tim’s experience to properly bring him to life. The only other actors I ever heard who were in the running were Roddy McDowall and Malcolm McDowell, and while I think they both would have given very different and unique performances, I think the right choice was made with Tim. LDM: I think so as well. How was it to work with Tim Curry? Was he reluctant to perform under makeup again, coming off of Rob Bottin’s work in Legend, or was he more at ease with the process? BM: He was great. He didn’t want to wear any more prosthetics than were necessary, which was one of the reasons we dropped the cheeks and chin, but that’s understandable. Pennywise was never going to be as extreme as Darkness, so he was not gun-shy about it at all. Like I said before, he did have some thoughts as to the face painting, and that worked out well. He even 32
insisted on using the acid burn look when the production was happy to go without it, so I certainly appreciated that. [He is] a great guy. LDM: How was it collaborating with Tommy Lee Wallace on the film? Also, how involved was Stephen King with the production? BM: Thankfully we had worked together on [Fright Night] Part II, so we already were comfortable with each other. Tommy was pretty clear about what he needed, and I think we had an easier time of giving it to him on this one than we did on [Fright Night] Part II. Sadly, Stephen King had little involvement with the show that I was aware of. I was not on set all the time, but as far as I know, he never came to set during the shoot. I hope he’s happy with what we did with Pennywise and the other incarnations of It, but I have seen him talk some crap about our spider at the end. Hey, he wrote it. We just built it. LDM: Don’t blame us. Blame the author. What were some of the most difficult effects that you and your team had to pull off? The scene where Pennywise gets his face burned by battery acid and the spider sequence near the end I’m sure were challenging. BM: All the makeup was pretty straightforward. I did the Pennywise looks and applied all the makeup on set, assisted by Joanne Smith. Norman Cabrera did my werewolf and Al Marsh did the mummy. Jim McLoughlin did the corpse in the lake and the severed head in the fridge, as well as my Pennywise teeth. We came close to not using the acid burn face, as that part was not shot during principle photography but as inserts a few months later on the Fantasy II stages in LA. I had just molded the front half of our little stop motion Pennywise with a normal face when word came down that we were going to do the acid look, so I had to take a lifecast off the little clown face and make a one-sixth scale facial appliance to change its face. The spider was our single biggest challenge on the film due to its size and complexity. Joey Orosco was working for me on Predator 2 (I made the OWLF team liquid nitrogen weapons) when I got the call for It, and he was very interested in designing the spider, and since he’s a fantastic artist, I said sure. I also had Henry “Hank” Mayo (the storyboard artist for Shrek and Ted) do a few other designs which Joey incorporated into the final spider. We had a brisk 12-week prep so Joey and Aaron Sims concentrated on the spider for that entire time while the rest of us built the other creatures. The final spider had an actor inside working the arms and hands and abdomen, while the head, eyes and mouth were radio controlled and the legs operated as
much as possible from outside or under the set. The head could do [a lot] more than is seen in the film, so I was a bit sad that more of that did not make it into the final cut, but that’s the way it goes. Aaron also sculpted our stop motion puppet spider used for the walking shots. LDM: You appear in an upcoming documentary entitled Down with Clowns, which deals with the history of killer clowns, along with the emergence of coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) and other subjects related to clowns. It sounds extremely intriguing. Being that you helped conceive one of the most terrifying clowns ever brought to the screen, why do you think clowns are so frightening? Is it because they represent the two-faced nature of humanity, appearing happy on the surface, but there’s something darker lurking just below? BM: I am looking forward to seeing Down with Clowns. I was never that bothered by clowns as a kid, but you may be onto something with the two-faced nature angle. I wonder how much of the phobia with them
comes from books/movies like It and serial killers like Gacy. I saw a painting Gacy did of Pennywise, which was interesting but also disturbing at the same time. LDM: I can’t imagine what you must have felt like after finding out about that. Are there any other projects that you’d like to promote, or can talk about at this point? I know you’re currently working on Insidious: Chapter 3 and have recently completed your work on the Goosebumps movie, the latter of which I’m very excited to see. BM: I have four films coming out in 2015: Kitchen Sink, Scouts vs. Zombies, Insidious: Chapter 3 and Goosebumps, so check them all out. There might be a surprise in Sink if it makes the final cut, but I cannot say what it is at this time. [Scouts vs. Zombies] looks like fun and Insidious: Chapter 3 had a very cool demon makeup that I assisted [Thomas] Floutz with. Goosebumps should be a lot of fun and I think the biggest hit of the four. My son grew up on those books, so it was very cool seeing so many of those
characters brought to life. The creatures were designed by Stephen Prouty, who I worked with on Bad Grandpa, and he’s always fun to do a show with. So, anytime he or Floutz calls, I am more than happy to answer. LDM: Fantastic! Thanks again for chatting with us about Pennywise, Bart! BM: Thank you! Again, it is fantastic to have gotten to create at least one lasting horror character like Pennywise. I have worked on three continents and have had people on all three tell me how much that clown scared them as a kid. You cannot ask for more than that. LDM: There’s definitely no greater form of immortality than that. Be sure to check out Bart Mixon’s website, Bart Mixon’s Monster Fixin’s at bartmixon.com for some interesting photos, updates on his new projects and more. they do float!
another film that bart worked on that involves a now famous clown : House of 1000 corpses
MAKING GOOD OLD-FASHIONED
SMASHERS AN INTERVIEW WITH
“BLOODY” BILLY PON
BY MICHAEL “DEDMAN” JONES Every once and a while a film comes along that becomes a part of genre lore. The type of film where you as a fan experience a special moment and a connection just between you and the images flashing before you on the screen. Be that love, anguish, anger, or fear, when the director’s purpose and the writer’s message are perfectly achieved magic happens. Director/writer Billy Pon told us that “a good movie can live forever,” and that was his aim when making his new film Circus of the Dead, to make a film that will not be forgotten. So let's take a look under the big top and see what makes “Bloody” Bill's twisted imagination turn out such memorable characters and films. Living Dead Magazine: Coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) is more common than most people think, and clowns have since become a linchpin in the horror genre with amazing films such as 100 Tears (2007), It (1990), Stitches (2012), Killjoy (2000), Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and many more. Your film, Circus of the Dead (2014), certainly explores the darker side of clowns, but while the film has moments of black humor, it is by no means a comedy. Can you tell us a bit about where the concept of the film came from, and why you chose to take a more serious tone with your cast of clowns? Billy Pon: That was where the inspiration came from for me. It was a personal challenge to make a serious clown movie and not befall the expected path of most of those before. I've owned and operated a clown themed haunted attraction called Circus of the Dead: Murder Maze for almost a decade. Everyone that comes out always expresses their hatred for clowns. That got the wheels turning in my head, which made me ask myself, “what would I do if I made 34
a clown movie?” The second part was to have a really good story to drive the film and create a road map to follow to completion. The Mexican bingo idea supplied a good backstory and the film would follow the everyday Joe, Donald (Parrish Randall), and his tragic plight. The clowns are brutal. Donald's character is important to remind the viewer of how far over the top their violence can be. Without that moral spectrum, it would have been a onesided movie. It's too easy to root for the villains in horror films nowadays, but we need to be reminded that the aftermath has a face as well. LDM: In a performance that must be seen to appreciate, actor Bill Oberst Jr. takes the role of Papa Corn to legendary levels of callousness and evil (even to and possibly surpassing the amazing job Sid Haig did as Captain Spaulding of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects). When you have an actor like Bill who takes a character to such heights and puts so much into his performance, how do you go about trying to rein in what he does so that it does not go too far over the top of your vision, and what led you to having Bill play the iconic role of Papa Corn?
BP: I'll shoot straight with you on this and pull no punches. Bill's performance as Papa Corn will be iconic in everyone's mind soon upon release of the film. Think of the luckiest thing that could ever happen to anyone—win the lotto, win the Noble Peace Prize, cure cancer. Well, as far as I'm concerned, that's what happened for me in having Bill play Papa. I hit the jackpot. This is what happens when the perfect actor plays the perfect part. Let's refer to it as the "pinnacle Papa.” It was a goosebumps [and] hairs [standing] up on the back of my neck moment every day on set watching a master at his craft do his thing. I was a very blessed director indeed. As far as "reining him in," I wouldn't say we did much of that. Papa is an over-the-top character. The only thing we watched was to not ever try to be over-the-top funny “ha ha”—we preferred funny “what the fuck!" LDM: Each of the clowns in Papa Corn's troupe all have a very distinct flavor and look, joining together to make them the ultimate squad of brutality and humor. Noodledome (Ryan Clapp), Mister Blister (Rusty Edwards), Jumbo (Mike Williams)
THE CLOWN CREW OF CIRCUS OF THE DEAD and Pepe (Kyle Mueller) all have different personality traits and quirks that would make them efficient killers on their own merits, yet you have managed to put them all together in a demented family-like state. Where did the concept for these clowns come from, and how were you able to convey to your actors how you wanted them to interact and play off of the dynamic Papa Corn character? BP: We were equally blessed by these actors as well. They all brought in great attitudes and a killer work ethic. All the clowns were a family of sorts on set. As far as their characters, I just think myself and co-writer Lee Ankrum did our homework on everyone's backstory. Backstories are very important as [they will] help me when on set to know what a character should be doing. In some ways, we wrote the characters with the actors in mind. In real life, Ryan Clapp is childlike to me. Rusty Edwards doesn't worry himself over too many things and has a laid-back, smart-ass demeanor. Mike Williams is mischievous. Now Kyle Mueller in real life is a sweet, respectable person. With Sergio Gracida (Doll Boy), I met him at a Golden Corral. We struck up a conversation and he passed his number to me and said he'd make a great Pepe the Mime. Let's just say, Sergio was right. LDM: Another actor that deserves high praise for his performance is Parrish Randall in the role of Donald Johnson, “who becomes
entangled in a deadly morality game when the circus comes to town and a sadistic clown forces him to examine the things in life he takes for granted in the most horrific ways.” When you have two leads that play off of such powerful emotions that are on opposite ends of the spectrum, how far do you allow things to go in terms of improvisation, and how did you approach Parrish and Bill about the dynamic between their characters? BP: First, you've got to just know Parrish as a person. He's a fellow Texan and someone I consider a good friend. When he has to do emotional acting, he draws from very dark places from his life. Before we filmed those scenes, he would go to the set by himself—sometimes an hour before—and start his process before we got there. Once we got there, he'd be ready and really pouring buckets of tears. I know it must [have taken] a lot out of him emotionally to go to that place in his head/heart, but I know as an actor he loved the opportunity to get to shine in such a heartfelt role. When Bill was with him in fullon Papa mindset, it was hard to watch, even on set. [There was] so much mental anguish for Parrish, and Bill wouldn't even blink. While filming that scene inside Noodledome's workshop between Parrish and Bill, I knew at that moment we were onto something great. Hats off to the both of them. LDM: There is another character mentioned early on in the film who makes a cameo
appearance that ties everything together in one big climax bomb. You can even see Papa Corn almost have a hesitant moment in the film when he mentions Doll Boy (played by Sergio Gracida), and later when he is unleashed, Papa and the troupe quickly leave the area to allow him to do what he does best. The character of Doll Boy was the subject of his own short in 2010. Can you tell us the origin of this character? How did he become a part of Papa Corn's group, and do the clowns all fear him? BP: Doll Boy is my bell cow. He's a good luck charm. I hope to do a feature soon as I'm sitting on a really good story that would be a throwback to the original Halloween—a good old-fashioned slasher (or smasher, shall I say.) Now truth be told, he's always been in the Circus of the Dead world. I did the short to get my feet wet, so to speak. You know, walk before you run—a short before a feature type of thing. Doll Boy’s backstory though is that he was a lot like Donald, except he was a pedophile killer. Papa and friends put him through hell—chopped off his genitalia and used him as a hunter in a weird game of chance. In the short, you noticed that a group of people were kidnapped by clowns and thrown into an old abandoned Tex-Mex flea market where they were hunted down one-by-one until there was just one. The winner—or better yet, the lucky loser— gets picked back up by the clowns and the game continues. Sergio is my brother-inlaw. He found the mask he wears in the film, LIVINGDEADMAGAZINE.COM 35
BILLY’S FIRST SUCCESSFUL SHORT FILM DOLL BOY
which was made by Jeff Death at Death Studios, in my haunted attraction and opted for a jumpsuit or overalls to wear. I said, “Let's do what Angus Young did. Let's dress him up like a school boy.” The rest is horror movie history. LDM: One of the dynamic elements that really sticks out in this film is the amazingly bloody and ultra-graphic blood and gore effects, along with the stylish clown makeup. Matthew Ash, Heather Buckley and Marcus Koch do an outstanding job of shocking us with the brutality and creative killings that are dispensed throughout the movie, and the clown makeup, while very simple and clean, still manages to provide that sense of dread. Can you tell us where you met this amazing bunch of special effects artists, and how did you guys come around to some of the outlandish and bloody effects for the film? BP: I agree with you. We had the whole enchilada in this film. Lee Ankrum and myself came up with so many crazy concepts and fucked up ideas that we needed some awesome hired guns to come in and get them to fruition. They busted their asses every day, just in the nick of time sometimes, in order to produce some great/memorable effects creations. I met the artists through mutual friends one year at Texas Frightmare Weekend. We kept in touch and I called them when we were green-lit. As far as the clown makeup, I was very fortunate to have Esau Ramirez and his sister Paola Ramirez doing that for us. They worked on the designs months before, until we all settled on the winning choices for each clown. LDM: Extreme graphic violence, gore and sexual torture/rape are nothing new to the genre, but very few films ever get the mix between them correct to where an audience widely accepts all of the elements together. Circus of the Dead certainly hits all of them at one point or another during the film. With 36
the way that society is heading (everything becoming ultra politically correct), were you ever afraid that the film would push boundaries that would offend people to the point that there would be a backlash? Was there anything you cut because of that fear? Even though society is leaning towards more of a PC environment in film and TV, are you surprised that there are so many people who want their genre films to be as graphic and gritty as possible? BP: PC? Does that stand for Papa Corn? All that is simple to me. The story decides what happens. I don't push the envelope to get a rise as much as I let the story and the characters breathe. I remember Bill thinking early on that he didn't think I would shoot some of the crazy stuff that was in the script. He'll tell you now that we actually shot it all. A movie should be like a really cool roller coaster. The excitement of fear is why you love certain roller coasters. It's what keeps you coming back to ride it again and again. I want that same experience in my movies. Breathtaking, heart pounding and emotional all wrapped up in a fucked up little package. LDM: The film has a certain slick look and feel to it while still managing to maintain a gritty and dirty feel. It may amaze people to know that it was shot on an estimated budget of $150,000, which by today's standards of filmmaking is considered micro/ultra-low budget. With such a low budget (considering locations, the incredible makeup and amazing cast), can you tell us how that affected the concept of the film from beginning to end? How often did you have to make changes on the fly to accommodate your vision, and were you ever surprised by things you did manage to get into the film? BP: I wrote the story knowing what I could and couldn't do or pull off. That was why we filmed it here in Texas. I have lots of connections and means at my disposal here. Need a street
closed down? I call a friend. I need a grocery store? I call a friend. Need a circus? Find one a couple of hours away to come down here and make it worth their time. As far as the look, I was fortunate to have [director of photography] Gaeb Ramirez and badass camera wizard Anthony Gutierrez as my eyes. Those guys busted their asses for me. Set up, tear down, set up, tear down—I couldn't have and wouldn't have made a movie of this quality without all my wonderful crew and cast. It took us all giving up our September 2013 to make the movie magic you see before you today. I'm forever grateful to each and every one of them. LDM: Two of the things that really stand out about the marketing and hype for the film are the amazing poster art and the chaotic soundtrack. Can you tell us a bit about who helped put together the amazing concept and poster art for the film, and how did you guys go about collecting the songs and artists that are on the soundtrack for the film? BP: I live a lot by this quote I heard years ago: "Let people do what they do best!" Basically, find the best people and let them do what needs to be done. John Mata at Eight Zero [Creative] is not only one of my best friends, he's one of the best artists I know as well. We started our careers together at CBS 7 a decade ago, but he moved on to pursue art full-time. I'd say his designs have for sure raised the attention level on all of our social media pages. It's like a fishing lure—you only have a couple of seconds to get someone's attention before their mind moves on to the next. He gets them hooked so they can learn more about our product. Priceless, if you ask me. Esau Ramirez has been collecting songs way before the film was made. I'm a big Quentin Tarantino fan, and I think you need those jewels of songs to set a mood for a scene. One of the songs Esau turned me on to was The Beaumonts "[If You Don't Love the Lord].” With lyrics like, "if you ain't
with the lord, you're fucking fucked," it was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. Sound design and scoring were my "ace in the hole.” That's what separates all the other indie films. They wait until the end and don't give it the respect and time it deserves. Lauren Morris and Bob Mitchell at [Scorpion Sound] are focused, dedicated people and don't half-ass or compromise on quality. That's what I love about Lauren. She's probably as passionate for what she does as I am about what I do. Respect the sound! Respect the sound! Somewhere Lauren's smiling as she reads this. LDM: The film seems to be getting lots of coverage by genre magazines and websites— some good reviews, some not so nice. Some have called it “brilliant filmmaking,” while others have said it is just shock and exploitation for the sake of doing it. I personally find the film to be something that the genre seems to be missing out on, and that is realistic terror and violence that makes you question yourself and what you do in everyday life. Films that push the boundaries of taboos and good taste are the ones that will always be remembered, for better or for worse. As the man that came up with the entire concept, what are your thoughts on those that are particularly harsh on their judgment of the film, and what do you hope most viewers take away from Circus of the Dead after watching it? BP: First, I appreciate you saying what you did about the film. You are one of us who "gets it.” But as for the people who find it just shock and exploitation for the sake of doing it, I respect their opinion. We all don't like the same things and we all have different tastes. I think the distractions in everyday life have a lot to do with some not liking it. It's hard to focus on something with constant tweeting and Facebooking. I say that because movies nowadays have so much of an uphill battle for one's undivided attention. This is a horror film with an actual story, interesting characters, great effects and clown penis. Geez, what more could one want? But seriously, I want the viewer to get this out of watching: Don't take life for granted. It could always be way worse, and [I want to tell them] to appreciate their loved ones more because of it. LDM: Many films that take a graphic approach to their material these days find a hard time getting distribution and advertising through major companies. We are starting to see more and more films go the way of selfdistribution to get around that obstacle (Matt Farnsworth's The Orphan Killer immediately springs to mind.) Are you planning to try to get the film picked up by a major company for theatrical and DVD release, or would you be more open to self-distribution (Bluray, DVD, VOD), so that your ultimate vision makes it out into the world?
TERROR HAS A NEW NAME AND IT’S PAPA CORN BP: I've considered self-distribution, but I am fortunate in not needing the money right now, and I have time to find just the right deal. It'll happen. It's a good film and the cream always rises to the top, and if it doesn't, that's OK too. I don't make movies for the money. I make films to get the voices and thoughts out of my head and to entertain a movie viewer. There [are] so many horror films out there, but the good ones are rare. I want someone to feel about my movie someday like I felt after seeing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Star Wars or Jaws for the first time. I want them to be inspired and entertained as well. LDM: The film is certainly gaining a strong push from those that have managed to see it at festivals, and by word of mouth by those of us that have screened it for websites and magazines. The term cult classic is a phrase that I have used for it and am starting to see other people associate it with the film as well. As a filmmaker, how does it make you feel to hear your film described as a cult classic, and does that raise the bar and pressure for you as you begin to head into other projects? BP: I've got a great and honest answer for this one. How does it make me feel?
Absolutely better than I've ever felt in my life. It's the greatest feeling in the world. Now, wait five minutes and I'll be beating myself back down just so I can start the whole process all over again. I'll never be 100 percent happy with anything I ever do and always feel I should've worked a lot harder to make it better. My movie making is comparable to an old school blues musician. I have to feel it to create it. LDM: Circus of the Dead is an amazing film and I want to thank you for exposing us to the inner working of your film and ideas. The obvious love you have for the genre shines through every frame of the film. What can we look forward to from you in your next couple of projects, and if/when there is a sequel to Circus of the Dead, what can we expect to see? BP: Are you kidding? Thank you for this platform to talk about our film. I've got lots of projects up my sleeve: Doll Boy feature, Mister Fister, Circus of the Dead 2 and lots of top secret projects. Which one will I do next? I think it's going to be the one where the story speaks to me the most.
beyond the FLEsh : The Art of Hook Suspension by Queenie thayer
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF BORN AGAIN SUSPENSIONS, FEATURING ARTISTS LINDY, BEAM & AMY, ALEXANDRIA LEVY & MIKEY Your curiosity has brought you here. You hear a man in a top hat with glinting eyes call out to the audience, “Step right up! Behold the strange and bizarre, the grotesque and the beautiful. For only a small fee, we will give you an experience of a lifetime! But be warned, it’s not for the squeamish!” His smile promises many things, some of them seem almost sinister. But you laugh it off, because it’s all part of the gimmick—the magic of the freak show. You’re drawn in, like a moth to a flame, and you know you cannot leave until you see what lurks within the tent. Lights blind you temporarily while you claim your seat and wait for the show to begin. Music booms all around you, and upon the stage many sights assault your senses. Many are strange, such as sword swallowers, glass eaters and people parading their deformities. The human pin cushions bafflingly insert nails into their faces, almost drilling them into their skulls through their noses. These acts aren’t nearly as mystifying as the final act, which is an act so unbelievable it makes you realize the Barker out front wasn’t lying about this show not being for the squeamish. She seems like a waif of a thing. A tiny girl in a red tutu who dances out onto the stage like a ballerina. Her back is exposed to the audience so we can see the process as they literally pierce her flesh with heavy metal meat hooks. The wounds even bleed a little, seeping red in small streaks down her back. Her face is still a pristine smile, as if she can feel no pain from them. But how could she not? How could any of these people exist? How could someone chew glass, drill nails into their faces, swallow swords and not feel pain? You know some of the tricks, but those hooks are real. You can see her bleed as they pull the securing chains, and watch her rise up to the ceiling, almost like she is floating. She poses as they do so, twirling her ballerina feet like an angel ascending to heaven, but she bleeds. The skin on her back is pulled and stretched beyond what it used to be, warping as it tents off of the hooks. This seems too extreme, but she is smiling in complete joy, courting horror as well as pain. Together, they are dancing before your eyes. Hook suspension is one of the most visceral acts you will find in a show, and not all do it. Some people like Morgue from the reality television series Freakshow only insert meat hooks in their faces or some other fleshy part of their body. There is a method to it, a discipline to overcoming your pain threshold. Suspending from the hooks is a very powerful and intense act that if you aren’t already slightly masochistic, you’d never be able to pull off. The body modification scene has taken to doing hook suspension, and some find it a life-affirming experience to dangle. “When it comes down to it, each suspension is different,“ explained Joshua Allen, a professional body modification artist and piercer at Area 54 Tattoos in Georgia. “Back hooks on the shoulder area are called a suicide, and it’s usually the easiest for people to start off with. When you start adding in legs, chest, stomach, lower back, backs of the legs, arms, etc., each spot is going to have a different pain level to it. Some folks prefer chest over back. Some knees. You have to try different positions in order to find your favorite suspension. I personally hate torso hooks, but I will still do them when I’m feeling froggy.” Many acts in a freak show have an interesting history behind them, and this is true for hook suspension as well. “The family that grows from the bond of hooks is beautiful,” Allen said enthusiastically. “The heritages that suspension thrives from
is beautiful in its own form. All the Native American cultures that practiced suspensions in their rituals—it’s just amazing!”
They claim to feel more alive after, as if hanging from the hooks makes them face death itself.
For example, O-Kee-Pa or the Buffalo Dance, is what the Mandan Natives call the ritual of hook suspension through the chest. In 1837 a white man named George Catlin witnessed the ritual, where it is said Natives fasted for four days, and participated in dance before the rite was performed. They were to mentally and spiritually prepare themselves for what was to come, as one doesn’t just take the hooks in stride. (Our dancing ballerina in the scenario above probably did her own preparations before the show started, as the intensity of metal piercing the flesh so violently isn’t something one can just do on a whim.)
“You go into a trance state sometimes and you just float off,” Allen said. “I’ve closed my eyes and fell back into my music I was listening to, and was just overpowered with lights and memories. Suspensions will bring out what’s happy, sad or terrifying to a person. I’ve seen people cry—not just from the pain, but from what was released from their hearts and minds during their suspensions. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. It feels great being able to help touch people’s lives in such a way.”
The body of the young warrior who is to hang from the hooks is prepared with paint and ritual garb, and the medicine man takes him into a ceremonial hut to begin inserting the hooks. The medicine man cuts into the warrior’s flesh and inserts wooden pegs into the holes, like one would put plugs into their ears after stretching the flesh. The warrior is ready to hang now, and he dangles from the rafters by the pegs in his chest, or he might be brought outside to dangle from a frame made for this purpose. Then he is left there, the sun beating upon him or the solitude of the hut wrapped around him, and he has visions and ecstatic experiences as he literally swings himself like a marionette. He is vulnerable, exposed, trapped on the edges of pleasure and pain—a line that is so blurred it vanishes, and he seems to float as the blood cakes on his skin. The name O-Kee-Pa is rarely used anymore to describe this act, and is deeply disrespectful to Native Americans unless we are describing the real ritual. Not all chest suspension is O-Kee-Pa, and if you see an act of suspension in a show, remember that while its roots have ties to sacred Native rituals, the act itself is not O-Kee-Pa. However, it can still be sacred if your intent is to do it for spiritual reasons. Maybe this is why many in the body modification scene are drawn to it. The act is so physically and psychologically demanding that it will alter your consciousness. Those who perform it recall visions, have a sense of euphoria, sometimes even ecstatic sensations.
Is our dancing ballerina as spiritually intense as the O-Kee-Pa warrior? She could be, if spirituality is her intent and focus while she performs. “Everyone has their own little pregame rituals before a suspension,” Allen explained. “It’s always best to be well rested, hydrated, proper blood sugar levels. First timers are usually nervous about the hanging part of it. The fear of ‘what if my skin rips?’ or ‘what if I pass out?’ If you go in with a clear, positive mind state, you’ll have the time of your life. You can’t let the negative thoughts overpower you or you’re not going to enjoy the suspension. Everyone suspends for different reasons, which makes each suspension special.” The act of suspension is something awe-inspiring to witness, something that challenges the viewer as well as the one who dangles from the hooks. To have that kind of discipline—that kind of resolve—is a powerful thing to behold. To overcome the flesh borders multiple realms all at once. To dare to hang, to expose one’s essence, is a powerful and thrilling sight to behold. How many acts in the freak show can be this raw, this bloody and this primal? While it is true many of the acts performed are feats made to push the limits of the human body, none are as brutal and blatant as that of hook suspension. It is both beautiful and grotesque, and one can see how it would inspire many horror writers, such as Clive Barker. All you have to do is watch Hellraiser to understand. But when the show is over and the hooks are gone, will the ballerina ever be the same? Or will she be forever changed, knowing she can endure pain until it melts into something more, something beyond the simple confines of flesh? This act isn’t torture. With knowledge and consent, it is an awakening.
of the month
Name : Lillie Monster Age: 23 Occupation/Hobby: My current occupation is being a child care provider for two amazing little humans, ages 3 and 6. As a hobby and part-time job, I work as a freelance promotional and conceptual model. If you could choose one sideshow talent, what would it be? I’d have to say sword swallowing. When it comes to sideshows, I don’t think anyone causes more marvel (or puts themselves in more danger) than the sword swallower. Are you like some of our staff members who are deathly afraid of clowns? No, I think clowns deserve love too. I don’t discriminate. What’s your favorite oddity? The Minnesota Woolly Girl, Alice Doherty (she was the first American Werewolf). Which character are you looking forward to most seeing on American Horror Story: Freak Show? I’d have to say Sarah Paulson’s character, the two-headed woman. Any interesting circus or freak show experience you could tell us about? I haven’t been to a circus or a freak show since I was a child. But I do remember being a young girl in Alaska and attending my first freak show. One of the characters that really resonated with me was the tattooed lady. I remembered being so intrigued by how she looked (it wasn’t exactly something you see every day in Alaska).
PHOTOGRAPHER KELLY SHANE FULLER OF PIRATELOGY STUDIOS
welcome to the freakshow PHOTOS & ARTICLE by jesus figueroa The unique and talented people of the Venice Beach Freakshow display their talents proudly every weekend at their locale on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Owner Todd Ray, along with his wife Danielle "Freakshow Mama" Ray, daughter Asia Ray, and son Phoenix Ray, showcase their passion for their family run freakshow live for the world to see. "The whole idea of the freakshow, from day one, was to present the most amazing people, the strangest creatures and the most bizarre things that I found," says owner Todd Ray. "When I was 12 years old I went into a side show where he (Otis Jordan the human cigarette factory) was performing. His act was incredible. From that moment, from the time I was 12, I started collecting items: circus stuff, old magic posters and side show memorabilia. As an adult my passion for it just got more serious.” The unique individuals that accompany the family include Morgue, whose thrilling act sends chills down the audience's spine; the Amazing Ali and Wee Matt, the littlest married couple; Gabriel Pimentel, America's smallest man; Sunshine, a fireeater; and Jessa the bearded lady. "One day I decided to hire a performer, a friend of mine who was just traveling, to perform with us. He came over and did some stuff and let people staple money to him," says Todd. "I thought to myself, we should really include an entire show. So we built a stage.” Along with their show on the Venice Beach Boardwalk the cast can be seen on AMC's reality show called Freakshow. "One day I said, 'This should be on TV, people are already coming from all over the world to see us perform.' They are coming from everywhere and they're loving it," recalls Todd. The show has changed the way many see freaks and has empowered many to display their own unique talents. The cast
is like an extended family who support and look after each other. They inspire others by proudly displaying their unique talent and getting rid of the negative connotation that has surrounded the word freak. The littlest couple Amazing Ali and Wee Matt host the show and entertain the audience as the others prepare their acts. On the first season of the show the couple were married on stage and live on television. "I'm the crazy wild one and she's like the calm laid back one. Everyone loves it. Everyone loves the connection with us," says Wee Matt. The thrilling Mister Morgue takes the stage on the weekends swallowing a sword and showing his signature showstopper where he sticks a hook through his nose and out of his mouth. "I take the opposite stance than most performers who do extreme stunts. Most do a form of meditation where they clear their mind and try to block out the pain and remove all senses and feelings," says Morgue. "But I take the opposite approach. Whatever I'm doing, piercing with needles, or anything like that, I don't try to block out the pain. I focus on the pain.” The performances leaves a few weak at the knees; as the audience is so close to the performance that they can see it is no trick. The fire-eater Sunshine puts her life on the line every performance, playing with fire for the audience's delight and allowing electricity to pass through her body. "The people that come in and see the show are just so happy and thankful. It's just a really great experience,” exclaims Sunshine. The show is doing well and new members have even joined the family. America's smallest man Gabriel Pimentel comes on after a successful list of appearances in horror movies.
"I am the stuntman: I ride dirt bikes, I drive a muscle car, I ride a bicycle, I skateboard, and I want to try snowboarding and skydiving. I want to try a lot of cool stuff," says Pimentel. Pimentel holds his own no matter what he faces. He manages to inspire, to attract and to be a large presence on the show. "Believe it or not, I might be little, but my lifestyle is big. I forget that I'm little and want to do what big people do," exclaims Pimentel. For owner Todd Ray, safety is a major factor into just how far the acts go. With his son Phoenix Ray and daughter Asia Ray as part of the attraction and performances it truly is a family affair. Phoenix Ray is now co-owner and helps out by attracting people to the performance. Asia Ray took a more dangerous route and began to learn and develop her skills as a performer. "When they (Asia and Phoenix) were younger it was really exciting. When my son wanted to take the money out front
and help set-up, and then when he wanted to be co-owner, that made me proud," says Todd. "Same for my daughter. I was so proud when she said as a little girl that she wanted to learn to lay on a bed of nails. We built a bed of nails together. At the time, that was kind of cute, she wasn't going to get too hurt if something went wrong. But once she started learning to swallow swords, that's when I said, 'oh, man!’” As a performer Asia Ray continues to take her skills further and further. "When my daughter Asia learned how to swallow swords, it was like the worst but the best, because it scared the shit out of me, but that's just my motherly side talking," mother Danielle says. "Then after a while, as a woman, to overcome something that you want to try, to be able to do it, I was like ‘you freaking go girl!’” The performers all grow together, learn together and become closer and closer with every passing day. Many guests come to showcase their unique abilities and be a part of the incredible show that Todd Ray has developed throughout the years.
"At first, I thought Todd was crazy. But once we did it, I think it was the best thing we have ever done," exclaims Danielle. "It's not only brought us closer as a family, but it's really opened my eyes to a lot of things. I love it. I wouldn't change it for the world.” Even as a youth Todd Ray looked to show the world that no one is normal, everyone is unique and it is those differences that make us all special. "The reason we try to reclaim the word freak is because people keep using that against people. It's always kind of used as a negative. When they came up with that word, that word was not intended to be a negative. When it was created, it actually meant out-of-the-ordinary, one-of-a-kind, unique, and incredible. It wasn't meant to be horrible," says Todd. He hopes that through the show he can help take the negative connotation of the word back. "Until the day I die, I won't stop searching for the mysteries of this world. All the ones that I uncover, I am going to reveal here at the Venice Beach Freakshow,"
A young Fred Olen Ray on set
A young Fred Olen Ray first saw a Spidora show around the age of 10 at the Florida State Fair. He had always been too afraid to go in, but was haunted by the images outside of the tent of a worried doctor and nurse showing the horrified mom her child born with the head of a girl and the body of a disgusting spider. That image has stuck with Fred ever since, and now almost 50 years later, successful filmmaker Fred Olen Ray is going back to his childhood love with his new film Spidora—a film he says, “I have been waiting since I was 10 years old to make.” Fred took us down memory lane—or perhaps we led him down that crooked path—in an interview that confirmed our suspicions that Fred Olen Ray is one of the most fascinating men alive. Living Dead Magazine: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview with us Fred in-between the 666 films you are shooting this year. There was no way we could do a carnival/sideshow issue of the magazine and not hear from Mr. Sideshow himself, Fred Olen Ray. Fred, you are an extremely fascinating individual with a very interesting past of your own in the carnival and sideshow circuit, having grown up around it in your hometown of Sarasota, Fla. I know you spent time as a magician during part of your life. Can you tell us a little about your time spent working as a magician and how you got into that? Fred Olen Ray: You know, no one has ever asked me about that. I was thinking about that the other night when we watched that Houdini show two-part miniseries, because when I was younger I did something really dumb, which was [that] I agreed to be handcuffed and padlocked into a canvas bag and thrown into the Gulf of Mexico. It was very difficult to get out of because canvas doesn’t resist water well. I was really claustrophobic being stuck in there, and after I did it I swore I never would again—and I never did. I think most kids have some interest in magic and I grew up in Sarasota, Fla., which was a circus town, and I had a cousin who was an escape artist wearing straitjackets and hanging from cranes and stuff like that. I got into it and joined [The Society of American Magicians] when I was in my teens. Harry Blackstone’s [famed magician] widow lived in Sarasota, and part of the deal with joining SAM was you had to bring her groceries every other week. It was fun and exciting, but I got more into sideshows and illusions as I got older. But I do still have some props that I have kept on hand like my bed of nails, and even to this day if I see some 46
Actor Jerry Lacy in Spidora
Fred reimagines the character of Spidora
clever self-working trick, I learn how to do it just in case someone asks you on the spot to do something. LDM: How did you obtain/start your own show, Terrors of the Amazon Show, and what did the show include? FOR: My cousin and I owned it and he ran it on the East Coast. It was a traveling trailer that we bought from the world’s smallest mother who was retiring. We painted it with Amazon-looking stuff and crazy things, and we had these two enormous frogs (one was as big as a dinner plate) that were from Africa. I got tired of the show running without me because I was on the West Coast, so we traded our trailer setup with a guy who had a truck-mounted show. So I got that out here on the West Coast and turned it into the Alligator Man show, which was a mummified alligator man and also a man dressed as a half-man, half-alligator that would jump up and scare the shit out of people. It was a great show. Funny enough, the guy who ended up with the Amazon Show wrecked the trailer in Florida and the frogs got out and got away, and I still keep wondering when I am going to hear about a story of giant mutant frogs living in Florida. LDM: I know you really love and appreciate sideshow banners from the past. Do you own any of these priceless relics from closed down carnivals? FOR: While in Tucson shooting a film, I met with an old retired sideshow performer who was married to the Turtle Woman and he had a six-legged pig for sale in a jar and he also had a Fred Johnson banner of the pig that was cut up in places, but I of course bought it and have it framed in my home. We even used the pig in a film too. LDM: In your new film Spidora: An Eight-legged Love Story, featuring well-known actor Jerry Lacy of Dark Shadows and newcomer Megan Sheehan as your female lead, the Lobster Girl played by Megan finds love despite a horrible affliction to her hands causing them to look like lobster claws. It is an incredibly sweet film with some very tender moments—not something we normally see from your films. Why do a love story? FOR: Every award I have ever won has been when I have done a love story, and people don’t look for me there. But these types of Lifetime films are my bread and butter. Originally though the script for Spidora was much darker and was even going to end up with [one girls'] head cut off at the end, and it was a very different film. But what we realized is that to be able to qualify for festivals and awards we needed the film to be within a certain time limit, and I couldn’t write that original story within that. It was very difficult. I must have written about five different versions. I kept changing the story to get it within the time and still make something with the goal of making people tear
B-Movie fan favorite, Fred Olen Ray’s Dinosaur Island 47
up from sadness and then turn around and make them cry out of happiness. But I have good luck with movies that hit people on an emotional level like this one. LDM: I'm not very girly when it comes to films—I don’t get emotional very easily—but even I was touched by the scene with Lobster Girl begging the love interest not to go. I teared up a little, for sure. FOR: I think that’s because when people are different, it really affects us. When you are a kid, if your parents do their job, they go out of their way to teach you to not stare and not to make fun of people who have disadvantages. So when you visit the sideshows, there is a conflict of listening to what you were taught and being naturally fascinated by the differences. I wanted to be careful and make sure I got the message across in this film that Lobster Girl could be and do anything she wanted despite her hands, and the only one holding her back was herself. LDM: You also did a film called Sideshow, which was more of the horror side of sideshows, and is one of your most wellknown films amongst horror fans. FOR: We used all exhibits in that film from our own sideshow and our own tents and props. It was done so cheap, but it was shot in 35mm and was the only film shot in 35mm by that company that year. It was freezing cold—all the shots were done at night in January. But it turned out alright, I think. LDM: You have been doing films since the ‘60s, so what was the experience like doing your first film backed by a Kickstarter campaign? Did you anticipate how much work it was going to be to keep the campaign going every day and the time spent sending out and getting all the rewards made? FOR: The film wouldn’t have been made without doing it through crowdfunding. It was a strange experience and you could call it a multi-part experiment. I always said I didn’t believe in crowdfunding and it actually producing a successful film. But I went to a Producers Guild [meeting] one day and listened to them talk about crowdfunding and the right way to do it, and my editor told me that he knew plenty of projects that were successfully produced through crowdfunding and he bet me I could successfully fund a film on Kickstarter. I had no intention of doing a short art film because they don’t really make money normally, but I had always wanted to do a film about the character Spidora, so I ended up doing the Kickstarter and followed everything recommended to us at the [Producers Guild] meeting and we funded it, barely, but it got funded. I tell you, I worked harder on the campaign than I did actually filming Spidora. So the first part of the experiment was actually seeing if I could accomplish a crowdfunding campaign and the second part was if I could actually make the short film within the time and financial constraints. LDM: Can the public expect to see Spidora anytime in the future, either digitally or for purchase on DVD? FOR: Right now we are just trying to see if we can get the film on the Oscar short film list and into Sundance or Cannes. After that, I will put it out on DVD through my own label with some extras and behind-the-scenes, and that will be the end of it. 48
never seen before now. Only here!
This is my dog, Max. Heâ€™s very excited by these books. And birds. Books and birds. And balls. Books. Birds. Balls. BearManor.
amy playing roxanne in the new film spidora
pretty things play with fire
an inverview with performer
by editor-in-chief deanna uutela In her film acting debut, the charming and mesmerizing real-life burlesque dancer/sideshow performer go-go Amy plays the part of Roxanne—a fire dancer in a traveling sideshow who clearly knows the ropes and is used to having all eyes on her. So when Spidora/Lobster Girl joins the act and attracts the attention of a male suitor, Roxanne isn’t about to be overshadowed by a “freak.” And though she says it took her a few tries, the normally sweet, motherly go-go Amy pulled off bitchy quite well. Living Dead Magazine: Amy, you started out your career modeling, right? How did you get into burlesque? Go-Go Amy: Actually, I started by go-go dancing for bands in [New York City], which led me to model for their album covers and show fliers, which then led me into doing burlesque and sideshow acts and promoting my own shows. LDM: Your traveling show, The Pretty Things Peepshow, started out being mainly burlesque acts. Now you have added more sideshow acts with performers who do sword swallowing, knife acts, fire breathing, etc. Did you always intend for your traveling show to go this route? And have you always been fascinated by sideshows and freak shows? GGA: The Pretty Things Peepshow started out being half burlesque and half sideshow. It featured burlesque acts like Aurora Natrix, Trixie Minx and Ooops the Clown, and we had sideshow performers like Heather Holliday, Insectavora and Donny Vomit. It was always my intention to have Pretty Things be a variety show. In the past few years, we have been add50
ing more variety with acts like Lil Miss Firefly, Brianna Belladonna, Rachel Renegade and Charlie Atlas. I find that variety acts with sex appeal are better for the show than having too many burlesque acts because it opens us up to more bookings by being able to do PG shows. Boobs are great for selling tickets, but it's the actual skills the performers have that make lifelong fans. LDM: You have so many wonderful tricks up your sleeve. Where did you learn to perform talents like fire breathing, balloon swallowing, knife walking, etc.? GGA: Like most other sideshow performers, I joined a show and worked my way up, learning from the other performers I was working with. It takes time to learn some of these odd and dangerous skills, and it takes a lot of commitment to really work out a good stage presence, so it's only something that can come with time and a lot of trial and error. LDM: How did getting the part of Roxanne in Director Fred Olen Ray's new film Spidora come to be? GGA: There was a call out in Hollywood for female sideshow performers and someone recommended me to Fred. It was like a 1930s Hollywood starlet dream meeting him and getting the part. Who knew you could still go from Vaudeville to the big screen in 2014? LDM: What was it like to work on your first film? Would you like to get into more film acting? GGA: I think I'll stick to the dangerous and odd acts of sideshow. The movie was really fun but I'm not so good at memorizing lines and pretending to be someone else. In my stage shows, I'm just a more sparkly fiery version of myself, and I like it that way. I would take another role like Roxanne where I could do sideshow stunts, but I think I'll leave acting to the professionals and stick to almost dying on stage four times a night.
go-go amy performing in the show she runs the pretty things peep show was so charming and obviously passionate about the subject. LDM: The role of Roxanne is not a stretch for you considering she is a sideshow performer in a traveling show, but perhaps unlike you, she is very cruel and, dare I say, a mean bitch to Lobster Girl. What was it like to play a mean girl? GGA: The sideshow acts were fun to film but I have to say, being the bad guy was strange for me. I'm usually the backstage mom who solves everyone's problems so we had to do a lot of takes before I was bitchy enough to be believable.
LDM: Fred is absolutely hilarious and very fun to speak with. Was he fun/easy to work with? Had you met Fred before shooting?
LDM: I know your traveling show will be touring New Zealand soon. Any plans to tour the states again soon, and anything else you would like to plug?
GGA: I only met Fred once before the shoot and I agree, he is such a fun person to talk to. I decided to do the movie before even reading the script just because Fred
GGA: Yes, The Pretty Things is touring New Zealand in November. I am working on US dates for 2015, but don't have any I can announce yet. But please check our website for info, prettythingspeepshow.com, and I am also working with a new show called The Wonder Show, which LIVINGDEADMAGAZINE.COM 51
BLACK LODGE BURLESQUE
REVEALING DAVID LYNCH’S GREATEST WORK A Review by Editor-in-Chief Deanna Uutela Photos courtesy of Tiffany Scandal & Black Lodge Burlesque I have always wondered what the Log Lady’s story is. When did she start having a relationship with a log? What did she look like as a young log lass? Does she have any tattoos hidden under those massive layers of clothing? The Log Lady is an enigma that I have always wanted to learn more about, and I am definitely not the only one intrigued with one of David Lynch’s most eccentric characters.
The character of Log Lady from David Lynch’s short television series and film Twin Peaks has become quite popular in the past few years with artwork, cosplay and now even burlesque acts popping up everywhere associated with the interesting woman who carries around a log. Perhaps the best of these examples is Black Lodge Burlesque, a show that began out of Portland, Ore. and is expanding all over the Northwest and beyond. Log Lady is definitely the star of the show, not only acting as emcee, but also ending the show in a grand display of love for her woody companion. She is also supported by some amazing acts throughout the two-part show.
The talented performers in the show take us from the strange to erotic to thrilling, and sometimes to baffled by what we are
the sandworms topless to some pretty epic '80s metal; Laura Palmer coked out and reliving her demise with BOB and the famous wrapped in plastic scene from Twin Peaks; and the incredibly gruesome, demented portrayal of Frank and Dorothy in Blue Velvet that leaves you feeling rightfully dirty and yet impressed that they included this film in their show.
seeing. Audience members will have the pleasure of witnessing some of the most interesting and entertaining burlesque I have personally ever witnessed from some of David Lynch’s most popular films: Dune, The Elephant Man, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart and even Eraserhead. I am delighted to say that nothing in this show was yawn-worthy. I was hypnotized by the elaborate costumes, perfectly chosen performers and the impressive way they captured David Lynch’s ability to mix the horrific with pure eroticism. Some of the acts that really stood out to me were the Dune inspired act featuring a Bene Gesserit riding one of
I haven’t been as absorbed and engaged watching a burlesque show, or any theatrical performance for that matter, since seeing A Tribute to the Movies of Tim Burton Burlesque put on by Donnie Rife at the Analog Café. I even ended up scoring an 8-by-11-inch photo of Log Lady that is hanging up in my bathroom right now, along with my “It rubs the lotion on its skin” plaque. Good luck not having one of the best nights of your life when you go see Black Lodge Burlesque. Check them out on their website at blacklodgeburlesque.com, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date with tour dates and times.
By James R. Beach
phantom of paradise re-release Phantom of the Paradise
Directed by Brian De Palma Scream Factory Blu-ray and DVD set for $29.95
One of my favorite Brian De Palma movies finally made it out on Blu-ray, and it's also from one of my favorite Blu-ray and DVD companies, Scream Factory/Shout! Factory. So, is it worth picking up? Oh yeah, it is! First off, Phantom of the Paradise is sort of an odd duck in De Palma's film oeuvre. Known more for his psychological suspense and horror films in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock, Phantom is more of a Faustian rock opera along the lines of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which Phantom predated by a year or so), and Tommy with its '70s glam rock trappings and style. It nominally is a horror film in the sense that it is a take on the classic The Phantom of the Opera films and novel by Gaston Leroux, but it's also a musical and a social commentary about the corporate greed and manipulation of the music industry. The film also harkens back to some of De Palma's earlier anti-establishment films like Hi, Mom! and Greetings. For those unfamiliar with the plot of Phantom of the Paradise, singer and musician Paul Williams, who also wrote the score for the film Stars as a Swan, is Swan, an evil record tycoon (rumored to be modeled after Phil Spector) who is haunted by the titular character of whom he stole from and then caused to be disfigured. William Finley plays the aspiring songwriter Winslow, who signs on the dotted line with Swan in a "deal with the devil" sort of move. The lovely Jessica Harper (Suspiria) plays a talented singer named Phoenix who Winslow falls for, and Gerrit Graham 56
is hilarious as the character Beef, the star of the show who completely destroys Finley's songs and also incurs his wrath. (A Psycho inspired riff with a plunger is quite humorous as well.) The transfer on the Blu-ray disc is gorgeous and supplants Twentieth Century Fox's earlier DVD release. Cinematographer Larry Pizer and set designer Jack Fisk (Sissy Spacek's husband who often worked for David Lynch) used odd color schemes and set design, and all of that is retained in the restoration. The colors are deep and rich with no crushing visible. The bonus features are awesome tooâ€”a whole separate DVD disc of supplements in the form of new interviews with Brian De Palma, Paul Williams, producer Edward Pressman, makeup effects artist Tom Burman, costume designer Rosanna Norton and drummer Gary Mallaber. Also featured is a documentary on the making of the film, a separate interview of Williams moderated by Guillermo del Toro, alternate takes, Swan Song outtake footage, the film trailer, TV and radio spots, a gallery of stills and more. Last but not least, there is also an audio commentary for the film with stars Gerrit Graham, Jessica Harper, Archie Hahn, Peter Elbling and Jeffrey Comanor.
annabelle film review
b y f le s h f ic t io n e dit o r de bb y d od d s Watching the well-crafted horror flick The Conjuring was a highlight of last summer, so I was hoping for an Indian summer with Annabelle, a prequel produced by James Wan who directed The Conjuring. Sadly, I was left a little cold by this demon doll tale. When it comes to horror, I’m a “story over gory” kinda girl. Not that I don’t enjoy a good graphic death or grotesque mutant or disgusting disease if it’s well done. But give me the slow tease, the psychological rumba of tension, over senseless splatter any day. So I’d possessed (pun intended) high hopes for this franchise. One of the biggest problems of the film is protagonists who are pretty but ultimately unsympathetic. Actor Ward Horton, who plays the slightly insensitive and ambitious husband John Gordon, is like “Guy Pierce Lite,” all the chiseled features with none of the charisma. The wife, Mia Gordon, is portrayed by Annabelle Wallis (Yes, that’s the actress’ real name. Now that’s a little creepy!) who evokes the stereotypical dumb 60’s blonde that I’d hoped had been finally shattered by Mad Men’s January Jones’ deft portrayal of Betty Draper. But in contrast, Alfre Woodard shines brightly in a supporting role; she is riveting to watch any time she appears on screen. Is she good or evil? Caring new friend or surreptitious Satanist? Tony Amendola is also wasted in a stereotypical supporting role of a priest having to deliver some of the most inane lines ever. There are some cool jump shots, false build-ups, slick cinematography, and surprise scares. I was especially unnerved by the long shots of that sewing machine needle and the priest’s choice to put that damned doll Annabelle in the back seat of a car for a long drive over a bridge. Who would do that?!! But the bottom line is: the film needed to be scarier. The doll was ugly, but it could have been more menacing. Its bloodshot eyes at one point were cool. Why not more of that? The conclusion was trite. I’d easily thought of three better possibilities for the ending before the superfluous “Epilogue” scene happened. If you believe that banality is a kind of evil, you might enjoy this film.
Kill That Bitch Unlike the rest of us who might have watched those behind-the-scenes specials and just thought it was cool before moving on to the next thing, Mills had found inspiration. He spent his high school years making short films and made stop motion animation films using action figures. Mills’ love of creatures and special effects would shape everything he would do moving forward. Surveying the horror landscape, you’ll recognize a lot of patterns. Whatever is hot is replicated multiple times over until it has been worn thin and the next big thing comes along. Mills realized there weren’t any films he really wanted to watch when he’d walk around video stores or flip through Netflix queues. “If you’re not seeing something you want to see, make it yourself. Even if Hollywood were to make it, you likely wouldn’t enjoy it anyway,” Mills said. Most filmmakers tend to make what they love (i.e. slashers) without realizing the bar has already been set for those types of films. You need to do something new with it or something that has never been done before to make an impact, which
“I know my movies are weird to everyone else. I watch them and they make sense to me. A movie with a crazed Easter Bunny might seem weird to some people, but it seems normal to me.” isn’t easy to do. Mills went about trying to perceive holes in the genre and completed his first film in 2010 that would be released in 2011, The Puppet Monster Massacre. PMM, as it is fondly referred to, is a complete departure from the scene. It’s as if you were to see Sesame Street when it’s off camera with similar looking puppets swearing, killing and, oh yeah, even having sex. Mills did all of the puppetry himself. Much like the majority of the rest of his films, he creates all of the effects by hand.
genre. There’s just nothing to compare it to. Some studios don’t even put out that many films. According to Metacritic, Fox Searchlight Pictures had seven scorable films in 2013. Disney had 10. Mills pulled off five with the budget of all of his films not even hitting a small fraction of one of those major studio projects. You might call Mills the hardest working man in film.
In 2012 Mills made his second film, Zombie A-Hole, and by 2013 he was off to the races. He would go on to complete four films in 2013: Heart Attack (also known as Night of the Tentacles), in which a man sells his soul to Satan for a new heart; Easter Casket, a movie about an evil Easter Bunny taking on the Catholic Church; Bath Salt Zombies; and Skinless, in which a doctor believes he’s found the cure for cancer, tests it on himself and as his skin melts away, he becomes a monster in more ways than one. These are not exactly your average horror stories. Mills would be the first to tell you that with his Dustin Mills Productions films, he wasn’t setting out to horrify anyone. He was just telling a story within the setting of a horror film—often a story where a lot of humor was blended in to lighten what would become incredibly dark moods. “I don’t consider myself a horror fan. I love so many different genres in addition to horror,” Mills said. “I know my movies are weird to everyone else. I watch them and they make sense to me. A movie with a crazed Easter Bunny might seem weird to some people, but it seems normal to me.” Mills was able to quit his regular job and became a full-time filmmaker, something most in the indie scene can’t do. But when you’re putting out four films in a year, you don’t have time for much else. In 2014, he will have released five films. That’s typically four more than most other filmmakers in the
2014 has seen a slightly nastier Dustin Mills. He kicked it off with Kill That Bitch, a film that is entirely not what you would expect if you judged it on title alone. Kill That Bitch was born out of irritation surrounding what people were flocking to in the genre, so he made a movie that appears to go in a common slasher direction, only to pull them in another direction. “People in this genre bitch that everything is the same, yet they seem to be afraid to try something new,” Mills said. From there Mills created Crumpleshack Films as a sister label to Dustin Mills Productions. Mills wanted to see if he could make a weird,
nasty movie quickly, and the result was Her Name Was Torment. “Crumpleshack is more surreal. It’s the darker side of things. Gross and strange, and basically no rules. They can be any length I want them to be. Dustin Mills Productions films are generally lighter subjects,” Mills said. Since Mills handles everything from costumes, effects, writing and shooting the films, he knows to keep his scripts based around what is available to him and writes around his limitations. He knows what effects he has available or what ones he wants to try. He doesn’t shoot any footage he doesn’t plan to edit in and that plays into the speed of the production. Luckily, it never feels like they’re rushing or cranking stuff out fast, even though the films are coming out quickly. He has less to edit and ultimately people don’t have to spend as much time on set. He also uses a lot of the same actors—Brandon Salkil, Erin Ryan, Dave Parker—on his films as they’re easy to work with and familiar with his directing cues. As it was described to me, “the sets feel like a bunch of people sitting around the house eating junk food and then a movie pops out.” In the last quarter of 2015, three new films will be released with the already finished Snuffet, The Hornet’s Sting and The Hell It’s Caused and the forthcoming Her Name Was Torment II, which is about to begin shooting. You can learn more about all of Mills’ work, including getting teasers, coupons and special editions by sending an email to puppetmonstermassacre@gmail. com to sign up for his mailing list. You can also check out all of Mills’ work as it premieres on IndieHorror.TV. Make sure you do,
on his career, return to
acting and directorial debut
by MELISSA thomas Screenwriter, actor, voice actor and now director—no matter how you know David Hayter, there is no denying his talent. He has had a hand in the creation of some of Marvel’s most successful films, such as X-Men, X2, Watchmen and the screenplay for Black Widow. Video game fans may recognize his name as the voice behind one of Metal Gear Solid ’s most popular characters, Solid Snake. As a man who most definitely knows a thing or two about the world of fantasy and freaks, we are also pleased to see Hayter make his retur n to acting in the new horror/thriller film Devil’s Mile , and make his directorial debut in November with the film Wolves.
Living Dead Magazine: You began acting at the tender age of 9. How did you get your start, and how did you handle acting at such a young age? David Hayter: Who the hell ever said I was tender? OK, well, maybe a little. I got my start by auditioning for a community theater kids’ production of Pinocchio. I played “Thieving Weasel 1” in an early bit of typecasting. I handled it OK because I loved it. It was immediately clear that that was what I should be doing with my life. LDM: After appearing on an episode of Major Dad, you really became interested in voice acting. What about that particular experience piqued your interest in that line of work? DH: Well, Major Dad was my first professional job where I used another accent (Russian). Having studied the French and Japanese languages, I had a pretty good ear for accents, dialects, etc., and I had always wanted to see if I could apply those skills to voice work. When an animation director saw my performance, he hired me to play a Russian on Captain Planet, and it all built from there. LDM: You are most well-known for your screenwriting and voice acting. Do you prefer one over the other, or are you equally passionate about both?
DH: I love both jobs for different reasons. Acting is more pure fun, but writing is like breaking a comple puzzle, and you never know if it’s right until you decide that it is. It’s a pretty thrilling proces
LDM: You named your daughter after the popular Marvel heroine Black Widow, you voiced Captain America and other characters on Spider-Man:The Animated Series and you wrote the screenplay for X-Men, X2 and Watchmen. Have you always been a fan of comic books? DH: I have, yes, very much. My family and I moved so much when I was growing up—a new house and new school every six months to a year of my life—that comic books really provided me the only consistent friends I had in my life. I lived in those stories in an attempt to get some feeling of continuity in my crazy, nomadic life. LDM: When you began writing the screenplay for X-Men, did you have a vision of the film, or did you let it come to you as you wrote? DH: I started off by rewriting an existing script that was written initially by both Ed Solomon and Chris McQuarrie. So, despite the fact that my work on the film was extensive, and I ended up with sole credit, I was always using their excellent work as a base. Of course, as a fan I had my own personal ideas for how the characters would take on their individual journeys. LDM: You have been a part of some pretty impressive projects in a vast variety of ways. Out of all of them, which is your favorite? DH: I love them all in their own ways—from the big ones to the little ones. Each new project feels like a well-loved child.
LDM: You made your return to acting in the new film Devil’s Mile. Can you tell the Living Dead readers a bit about the film and your character?
DH: Yes, I was friends with Joe for a few years before they made the movie. When they were trying to cast Toby, Joe thought of me, and I loved the idea as well as the part. LDM: Are there any projects you have coming up that you would like to share with us? DH: My directorial debut, Wolves, is coming to theaters on November 14. If you could have your readers buy tickets— preferably five or six times—that would help me out a lot. LDM: Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us at Living Dead Magazine. We wish you the best in all of your future projects, and look forward to seeing more of your amazing work. DH: Thank you, Living Dead! I hope not to see you in my nightmares. Very best. You can find David on Twitter (@DavidBHayter). Devil’s Mile is now available at Best Buy, Walmart, iTunes and Amazon.com, and watch for the film Wolves coming to a theater near you November 14.
DH: I play Toby McTeague in the film. Toby is a mob hitman who is striving to become something better. But once he and his partners begin driving down “The Devil’s Mile,” he finds that some people are beyond redemption. LDM: Did you know Joseph O’Brien, the director? How did you get involved?
Thousands of bumper stickers printed with this well-branded message have been proudly displayed all over social media sites and cars around the world since the start of Rob Zombie’s new Fanbacked campaign for his new film 31. In an attempt to make what Rob Zombie calls “The type of movie we all wish we could see. Not a mellow PG-13 affair but a hardcore R-rated movie you can scream about,” Zombie has taken the very popular crowd-funding route and recruited his fans and fellow horror lovers to be a part of the making of his film 31. Normally I myself am not a fan of celebrities asking for money to make their projects from poor stiffs like me, but in this case, it just felt natural coming from Rob Zombie. Unlike many of the new celebs these days who seem to think the world should be impressed every time they let out a fart, Rob Zombie knows his fans, appreciates his fans, interacts with his fans, and has always since the beginning of his career included them in his life—well as much as any celeb can. He gets that without fans he has nothing and he is damn grateful for the support they have given him throughout his long career. This is a huge reason why I not only respect the hell out of Rob Zombie, but have supported and contributed to his Fanbacked campaign. But believe me that this campaign is not a simple case of “give me money and you get a dvd,” Rob Zombie and his crew have pulled out all the stops to give contributors the kind of experience and items that Zombie fans have only dreamed of receiving (myself being one of those dreamers). We are talking: daily phone messages from RZ on the set of 31, a rare Horley Production Art Mini Poster Set, 31 Shooting Script, an actual Hang Out Day w/Rob Zombie’s Special Effects Team on Set, A Lifetime Laminate that gives you access to every show you can get yourself to for life, and my favorite, the one myself and my assistant Lisa took advantage of, a VIP Meet & Greet with Rob Zombie & his band on tour. With over 22 incredible rewards available there is something there for any Rob Zombie fan to freak the fuck over, including a signed copy of the film itself. 31 has been clouded in a lot of mystery since RZ first announced the name of the film and some artwork. No cast announcements, no release dates, just a short synopsis of the film: “It is the story of five random people kidnapped on the five days leading up to Halloween and held hostage in a place called Murder World. While trapped inside this man-made Hell they must fight to survive playing the most violent game known to man... a game called 31.” But from everything we have seen thus far, and the fact that his film will have no limitations thanks to fan funding, it is shaping up to be one of Rob Zombie’s most gory and messed up films yet. I think this one is going to bring him back big time after his somewhat disappointing Lords of Salem. 31’s campaign has been extended to October 31, 2014, so you still have time to score on some major rewards that you will never ever see outside of this campaign. I for one am still reeling from the experience of meeting, interviewing and hanging out with Rob Zombie and I have his campaign to thank for that.
To contribute or share Rob Zombie’s campaign for 31 visit Fanbacked at: http://www.fanbacked.com/c/31-rob-zombie-film/
31 THE MOVIE:
THIS SHIT HAPPENED BECAUSE OF ME & RZ BY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DEANNA UUTELA
It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus! Article & Photos by Amanda Rebholz
Many horror fans can pinpoint the moment they fell in love with things that go bump in the night. For a certain demographic, 1993 was a very important milestone in cinema for budding boys and ghouls. It marked the year that a family-friendly horror film called Hocus Pocus debuted. The film was campy, over-thetop and surprisingly boundary-pushing for a Disney movie. The film contained curse words, references to death and the occult, an execution scene, jokes about virginity and sexual innuendo aplenty, and Doug Jones in prosthetic zombie makeup that, quite frankly, was pretty scary. Regardless of what your own personal relationship with the film is, there is little room to argue that Hocus Pocus has entered the library of movies officially acknowledged as cult, and that means it was ripe for the picking for an outlet like Peaches Christ Productions. For fans unfamiliar, here’s a crash course; Peaches Christ is an outrageous drag personality who has built an enormous fan base and an entire empire out of the love of cult movies and horror culture. Joshua Grannell is the man beneath the massive wigs and padding, and he is a brilliant writer and director whose first feature film, All About Evil, is one of the most tragically underappreciated horror comedies of our generation. Starring Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Dekker and Cassandra Petersen (Elvira), the movie is indicative of everything that Peaches represents—a love letter to all things dark and spooky. After a long history of paying homage to beloved films with original 64
pre-shows and themed event nights (primarily in San Francisco, but many other cities have seen Peaches Christ Productions, and a new show is debuting in the UK soon), it seemed to be absolute kismet that iconic drag performers and RuPaul’s Drag Race alumnae Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme would come together with Peaches Christ to portray their cross-dressing spin on the Sanderson sisters. The cast was further fleshed out with appearances by staples in the GLBTQ community Timmy Spence and Vinsantos DeFonte, as well as actor Thomas Dekker, who flew in from filming in Vancouver to do the oneday-only special engagement. Featuring stunning custom costumes and wigs, incredible makeup and choreographed by the very talented Rory Davis, the stage play promised to be a visual spectacular. While Peaches’ shows may have once come from much more humble origins, the productions these days demand a hardworking crew of technicians and assistants who are all part of the “family” and work their asses off to keep things running smoothly. With multiple dance numbers and dozens of technical cues, it was nerve-wracking to see final tweaks being made at the last moment. The evening shows are almost always sold out, but in this case a matinee had been added due to demand, and both shows were standing-room only by the time the curtains rose. DeFonte, a longtime fixture in the San Francisco scene who now
haunts New Orleans performing and running a drag academy for fledgling queens, took the stage as narrator Girdle Snow (a spoof on American Horror Story: Coven). While playing a theremin, Girdle gave a playfully acerbic backstory on the Manderson sisters that then segued into a rocking opening number set to a rousing Joan Jett cover of Donovan’s hit “Season of the Witch.” The three witches fight off an angry lynch mob and then suck the life out of a young drag queen (Emily Dickinsert) to preserve their immortality. One of the most awe-inspiring things about the performances was each actor’s commitment to their role. Every vocal inflection and body movement was perfectly on point and the only things that could upstage Peaches Christ’s shrill and sassy Bette Midler impression were the scene-stealing and hilarious antics of Jinkx Monsoon as the boy-crazed Sarah Jessica Parker character and BenDeLaCreme’s comedic timing and flawless turn as Kathy Najimy’s role. The bumbling sisters were the perfect counterbalance to Peaches, creating a triumvirate of chemistry that no one in the audience could help but fall in love with. Once the witches transform “drag dinosaur” Timmy Spence into a black cat and are hanged by the townspeople, the play shifts into current day. A skeptical Max, portrayed by Thomas Dekker outfitted in retro '90s garb, mounts the stage to debunk the myth and express his disdain for Halloween. He is confronted by Michael Phillis in full Victorian couture as Allison Wonderland, the beautiful believer and Max’s new love interest. Rounding out the present-day mortals is Cousin Wonderlette, an infamous character in Peaches’ world, as Max’s “special” misfit drag queen cousin Dani. Dani of course loves witches and she, Max and Allison decide that they should go to the Manderson cottage to explore what the witches have left behind. This results in them meeting the talking cat Timmy, as well as Max lighting the
Black Flamer Candle, which brings the three witches back from the dead to wreak mayhem on the town of San Francisco on Halloween night. In a performance like this, the highlights of course are always the musical sequences, and one would expect nothing less from world-class drag queens like these. Jinkx Monsoon, who recently released her debut album, performed a seductive duet of the Sinatra classic “Witchcraft” with Dekker, as well as a cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics that left the audience howling for more. Peaches lip-synced flawlessly to the cut of “I Put a Spell On You” that Bette Midler belted in the film while the stage erupted in an exciting dance number. However, the shining moment of both performances was BenDeLaCreme’s rendition of “Dark Horse,” which was not only expertly choreographed with a full team of backup dancers, but had some of the funniest and most topical lyrics one would expect from a sassy queen like DeLa. “Hocus Pocus” was a rollicking ride from start to finish, and considering that I sat through it four different times and was laughing until my face hurt every single performance, I should tell you how enjoyable this particular show was. Fans of campy, profane, inappropriate fun will never be disappointed with a Peaches Christ production, and “Hocus Pocus” was certainly no exception. One can only hope that Peaches considers making this show an annual tradition, as only letting us indulge in this spectacle once is crueler than giving toothbrushes to trick-or-treaters. Interested fans can follow Peaches Christ on social media or check her official website PeachesChrist.com for upcoming show dates, appearances and more.
Book reviews byjonathan reitan Bryan Smith, one of the modern masters of literary gore and the one that brought such yarns as Depraved, The Late Night Horror Show and Deathbringer, offers up a horror/sci-fi mashup in The Freakshow. Originally published in 2007 as a mass market paperback by the now defunct Leisure Books, The Freakshow can now be found in digital format by Bitter Ale Press. The Flaherty Brothers Traveling Carnivale and Freakshow has rolled into Pleasant Hills, Tennessee—one of its many stops in backwoods, nowhere towns across the country and over centuries of time. But the freak show is not here to entertain—they have more sinister work at hand. If you look closely at the performers, you might notice some similarities between them and your friendly neighbors. At this circus, they really take “involving the audience” to a whole new level by snatching up the locals as pawns and slaves to keep the show going, and turning them into their own version of horrific sideshow freaks and monsters.
Demonic clowns with razor-sharp teeth, giant robot spiders, an evil pirate, a two-headed vixen, sex slaves, a three-breasted wolf lady, giant bat-like monsters, cannibals, a dog boy and horrifying pterodactyl creatures are what make up the freak show’s colorful population.
This intermixed story of two different groups struggling to escape the freak show madness revolves around one group that has been enslaved for years and another that is about to be the new crop for the featured attraction. In order to move up in rank in this messed up community, you need to kill some fellow slaves, and many who have been captured for years will do just that in order to escape the years of torture, abuse and madness. As the horrors, mutilations and atrocities of humans and slaves become greater, the band of survivors must join forces to end what gives the freaks their power—the ultimate freak, their god, The Dark One. What comes as a cool surprise in this gorefest are the sci-fi elements thrown in—a robotic moving control center and death machine, mind controlling creatures from another planet, a mysterious alien-like morphing car and, most importantly, the space-like dimension known as
The Nothing that controls the freaks . Even though this is a very pleasurable and fast-paced read—and one of Smith’s most exciting novels—there are several key points to the plot that could have been explained more or fleshed out. For instance, Smith only briefly touched upon the backstory of the freaks, the thousands of communities they destroyed and the world wars between different freak races and characters. The Freakshow, starting with page one, is a nonstop crazy mix between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with its strong use of gore and violence, and the 1932 movie Freaks, with its homage to the classic sideshow freak. If you’re a connoisseur of horror, gore, scifi, carnivals and freaks, Bryan Smith’s The Freakshow is sure not to disappoint.
Up next we have Andre Duza’s Technicolor Terrorists, a recently released paperback from Portland, Oregon’s Deadite Press. Deadite is a newer publisher known for their cult horror that has produced some very impressive and affordable volumes from the likes of Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Bryan Smith and many others. A few of their very first releases were from author Andre Duza, including Dead Bitch Army and Jesus Freaks, both cult classics in their own right. Technicolor Terrorists, described as a “dayglo bizarro novel of carnie-horror,” is actually a collection of five interconnected stories (four novellas and one short story). For the Toxic Brother’s Traveling Carnival in the first novella, “The Holy Ghost Claw,” freaks are no longer the main attraction in Harley Cooper’s once glorified carnival and freak show. In hopes of resurrecting the glory of the carnival, Cooper installs a new mysterious attraction, the Rust Resurrection. But before the reader can find out just what horrors surround the Rust Resurrection, Cooper is shot dead by one of his former freaks who he has wronged. But a little murder doesn’t stop the local townsfolk, who storm the gates in order to see the new attraction. The mass hysteria awakens and angers the featured attraction, ending this novella with some exciting carnage and a complete “leveling out” of the carnival. The remaining freaks and displaced carnies who weren’t destroyed by the resurrection are now free to roam the country in “Papercuts.” One of these freaks, a teenage boy named Louie 2D, who is able to morph into different shapes, is terrorizing the suburban Utopia Springs Estates. This bloody story also centers around a haunted house, which offers up several chills and frights for the residents and readers alike. Murderous clowns are the subject of the next novella, “Technicolor Terrorists.” Cop Mars Kersey is investigating a string of murders where the victims are left with painted clown faces. The Ton brothers clowns, remnants of the Toxic Brother’s Traveling Carnival, are the responsible party and they’ve captured a young boy who Kersey must find. The author taps into his bizarro roots with this story. Part horror, part comedy, part mixed up crime narrative—it all leaves you wanting more! Next up is “Indo and the Killer Rockstar,” which features the freak Indo, who is able to turn into mist, and rock star Jason Sydes, who was framed for a disaster at one of his shows that killed the entire audience. Jason flees and several gangs are out for his head and a
reward for his capture. Author Duza keeps the pages turning in this thriller loaded with enough violence to keep any horror fan happy. The short story “Drug Runnin’ Blues” ends the book and brings it all back to home with the return of the Rust Resurrection from the first story, a giant, killing, weeping Jesus. Yes, this is true bizarro at its finest. With Technicolor Terrorists, Duza has crafted a memorable and enjoyable read by connecting the various stories and characters into a hodgepodge of different genres (horror, bizarro, comedy, sci-fi). Duza proves he is a master storyteller by smoothly connecting the colorful band of freaks from story to story, which usually can be viewed as a distraction; however, it’s what makes Technicolor Terrorists much more unique and enjoyable.
exploring a new bizarro author
Hey, I'm Tiffany Scandal and I'm a good-for-nothing broad. My book, There's No Happy Ending, was published as part of a New Bizarro Author Series through Eraserhead Press. I was one of seven budding authors the press took under its wing this year to show the ropes of what it takes to write, publish and promote a book. I consider the authors I was published with to be my Bizarro brothers and sisters. Now that our first year as published authors is almost up, I figured I'd flash the proverbial Bizarro bat-signal so that we'd join forces and talk shop. The only author that couldn't make it out was Dustin Reade, but rumor has it he's been pretty busy scouting badass golden girls for an army of Grambos. This is an abridged version of the interview. If you’d like to hear what else these authors had to say, check out the full interview at LivingDeadMagazine.com.
Tiffany Scandal: Andy de Fonseca, author of The Cheat Code for God Mode, what’s it about? Andy de Fonseca: Margy and Victor are two geeky friends who love video games and happen to find one that controls their universe. Soon they find themselves being hunted and banished to the Old Internet, where they learn a world-shattering truth. I had been writing fantasy, so Bizarro was a nice transition—just less fairies and dragons.
TS: Bix Skahill, you wrote a book called Babes in Gangland. Enlighten us. Bix Skahill: Babes in Gangland is an odd little book for odd little people. I'm always shocked when people are shocked by my book. There's nothing in it that seems terribly upsetting, but people seem to think it is. I suppose having a swearing, sex-starved baby is shocking to some people. Not me. It's my life.
series with writer tiffany scandal
TS: Daniel Vlasaty, you wrote The Church of TV as God. Tell us about it.
TS: Jamie Grefe, you wrote a book called The TS: Hey Amanda Billings, tell us a little about Mondo Vixen Massacre. Tell us a little about it. 8-Bit Apocalypse.
Daniel Vlasaty: It’s about a guy named Jeremy—kind of an everyman, average slub. He’s a slacker, a guy who never lived up to his potential maybe. Probably based off of myself or anyone really in their mid to late twenties, living a post-college life, working a shitty job—a job he hates. The only thing special about him is that his head is turning into a TV and he doesn’t really seem to care all that much about it. But, then again, he doesn’t care about much of anything really. But his head is turning into a TV. He has no idea why. Just that it’s something that happens to all the men in his family, like a hereditary disease or something. And then, all in a short amount of time, his life totally changes. First he catches the attention of a TV worshipping cult. Then he meets a totally badass talking dog named Benjamin who invites himself into Jeremy’s life, whether Jeremy likes it or not. The cult, called The Church of TV as God, approaches Jeremy to tell him of his destiny. They think he is their savior—the one spoken of in their religious teachings, a man with a TV for a head that will bring about the second coming of The Great TV in the Sky. But Jeremy doesn’t want any part of that. And, as they say, hijinks ensue.
Jamie Grefe: OK, well, The Mondo Vixen Massacre is a Bizarro home invasion/ revenge story, but it's also a love story about the choices and transformations an abused protagonist goes through in his violent journey to save the only woman he loves. Oh, yeah, I forgot about the rats, the snakes, green ooze, robots and slow dancing. There's an intense juke joint scene. It spirals into absolute madness. I remember plugging into some jams and letting my fingers dance across the keys until my dancing just sort of started happening on its own. I think I had Grinderman's song “Get It On” looping for hours, and that song is built on a weird loop, so every time it started over, it acted like a trigger for my fingers to keep pace with my mind. But, yeah, the juke joint scene rockets over-the-top, hog wild, goes to a stinky, dark and gory place I didn't even know I had inside me—or a place I didn't want to let out, but I did. I gave birth to a beast and I'm glad I did, even if I had to wash my hands—shake off the goop—after writing it.
Amanda Billings: Atari games have come to life and are hell-bent on destroying Denver. Jimmy Toledo, a former arcade prodigy turned Chuck E. Cheese slave, is the only man who can save the city. He just needs some help from Russian cat massage whisper videos to soothe the social anxiety that comes with saving civilians. You know, like most heroes. Centipede, Frogger, Donkey Kong and more come to life and smash apart the city, while most Denver residents fight to post the best pictures on Instagram. I’ve loved video games for as long as I can remember. The first system I had was a Commodore 64 and my favorite system is the TurboGrafx-16, so it was fun to play around with old school games in 8-Bit. One of my favorite scenes to write was a sex scene between a government agent who looks like R2-D2 and a Denver rando who thinks she’s about to die. Jimmy considers joining in for a threesome. I think it’s the first time I’ve used the word “chode” in my writing, so that’s a plus.
There you have it ghouls and gals. Strange books by strange people. If any of the above titles strike your fancy, go ahead and pick one up on Amazon.com. All books are available in print and kindle formats.
Illustrations by Miss Mandible (www.missmandible.net)
Models: Brandy Eastman, Gypsy Ivy and Rachel Leigh, Scully Sins, Gold E. LoX, Thomas Miller, Nix, Jay “Satan” Gavit, Brittney Pratt, Ashlie Reeves, Dames Green, Kristen Hall, Ginger Rockafella, Brandon Wall, Blanca Granado, Brandy Eastman, Dani Gavit, and Keely Sherpinskas Makeup/Hair: Elizabeth Schieffer of Gingerpane FX, Misty Reed / Jewelry: The Curiositeer, Dark Matter Creations, Savannah Hoffman Designs / Custom Clothing: Dark Moon Cult, Leather Masters, Terry Wise / Headdress: Parkers and Quinn / Taxidermy: The Curiositeer / Studio: The Quixotic World (Dallas, TX)
Title of the Shoot: Step Right Up Photographer/Art Director: Amanda Rebholz
Burk Biggler By
Nowal Massari On April 1, 2014, the Portland sideshow / circus and burlesque communities were slammed by the cruelest joke of all—the evening before, one of Portland’s most beloved performers, Burk Biggler, had died. I remember waking up that morning and checking my Facebook to see the news that Burk was gone. My first instinct was to write it off as a terrible April Fools' Day joke, but I knew that he could never be so cruel. After many frantic text messages and phone calls, my heart dropped as the news was confirmed by his wonderful mother, Jo Dee. While some performers are known for their backstage diva antics, Burk was an easygoing and talented performer. Whether performing or as part of the audience, he was always the first person I sought at a show because his hugs were sheer magic, and not just because I always ended up covered in glitter. If I was ever nervous, he wouldn't let me be for long. He would appear next to me with a joke and a smile, and I would feel better. Working with Burk was a tremendous joy, both on stage and behind-the-scenes. With his love of making people laugh, Burk was always an absolute pleasure to work with. Whether it was performing a spandex laden duet with acro partner John Dutch, grooving in the Red Room with Miss Alex Kennedy at Black Lodge Burlesque, emceeing the Grotesque Gorelesque shows, having me chase him around stage as Jason Voorhees, clowning around with the Wanderlust Circus or getting money stapled to him, Burk Biggler was one of the most genuine and amazing people that I have ever had the honor of working with. He was a one of a kind guy, and the world will never be the same without him. Being a little-big town, I know that Portland will never forget him. We miss you, friend, and though you were small, there is an enormous, sparkly hole that you left that won’t ever be filled.
You are loved, always.
coming this December
spend x-mas with
mr. Zombie & Friends siamese twins by photographer / artist brian maze of maze studios
featuring interviews with
rob zombie bela lugosi jr. sid haig bill moseley walking dead favorites & more
Published on Oct 21, 2014
Living Dead has made it 1 year together & we are celebrating with our Anniversary Issue: Welcome to the Freakshow! This issue we are excited...