9/11 – Remembering Patrick Grady

PatrickOn September 11th, my best friend Patrick passed away. No, not that September 11th.

I let him know that I was annoyed that I had gotten a second hernia and I wasn’t even forty. He called me back a few days later and said “I win. I have cancer.”. He had been given a three-year prognosis (not the good kind) for colo-rectal cancer before his fortieth birthday. My family and I had recently moved to the mountains of North Carolina and he still lived in the middle of Florida.

I promised him that I would drive down and visit him one weekend a month until he was better. He made it through all three years, many surgeries, many chemos, and radiation but never got better. Jen fully supported me in this even though it drove our business and several vehicles into the ground. Patrick and I spent the weekends watching his favorite, superhero movies, on a television in his bedroom.

On bad weekends, we would watch them in the hospital on the portable TV/DVD player that Jen’s folks had bought for me, especially for this purpose. The hospital personnel were wonderful and let me stay the whole weekend in a chair in his room, ignoring visitor’s hours every time I came.

Patrick never cared for alcohol but he liked a celebratory drink of IBC Root Beer from time to time. He gradually lost his capacity for food over that three year period. The last thing he was able to eat, with anything approaching enthusiasm, was Papa’s (Jen’s father) homemade pizza. Papa, the closest thing I had to a father figure, was also fighting cancer at the time. He lasted a few more years after Patrick’s passing.

So this year, as in all the years since he passed, I will be spending the day watching superhero movies. I will be eating pizza, drinking IBC root beer, and remembering the friends I have lost.

Always treasure the people in your life – they are the only thing that matters.

Erica Summers’ Mister White – The Review

I finally had the opportunity to see my daughter’s hard work on the big screen (and of course the hard work of many, many others). This is as unbiased a review as I can manage. Here my daughter is applying makeup to a cast member while her loving husband looks on.

moiramisterwhiteMister White (2013) – Not Rated (but generally ‘R’ material for violence and language) – DVDs available for sale here.

Mister White

“When a motley group of college freshmen choose bizarre Tyler Rooney as the new target for their juvenile pranks, Tyler calls upon hoodoo-cursed Mister White to exact a violent and bloody revenge.”

First off, I cannot believe that this movie was made for a mere $5,000. Admittedly it helps when one person is not just the writer and director but also producer, editor, cinematographer, sound mixer, and special effects artist. Erica Summers manages to do all of that and still avoid many of the pitfalls of microbudgeting. The opening titles, like the rest of the movie, show a mastery of pacing. The music and sound effects were sparingly used and very effective.

Mister White takes a hoary horror trope – a group of attractive twenty-somethings make a terrible mistake and are hunted down for it – and puts a fresh spin on it. Erica firmly and deftly incorporates the currently trendy topic of bullying throughout the film and one particular peer pressure scene was rather difficult to watch, due to its authenticity.

Plotting is intricate with many fascinating reveals along the way. Erica did a fantastic job of knowing exactly when to reveal the titular Mister White. We get a sense of his presence early on as Tyler talks to himself but we don’t get our first good look until we reach the asylum and even then he is kept in the background. Mister White continues to be teased in dribs and drabs, lurking around corners and in the distance until the killing starts.

Acting is generally good if a little uneven. The leads are in good hands. Andy Salgado’s tiny frame, delicate features, and odd mannerisms mark his Tyler Rooney for bullying almost immediately. The beautiful Amber Watson shows a good bit of range as our confused, sensitive protagonist who seems prone to making bad but believable choices, Summer Mills.The other young people have no favors done to them by having to play vile, vapid characters but acquit themselves well. One of the young gentleman appears to have been hired for his very serious six-pack.

Carl Summers and the prosthetics make for quite a menacing Mister White. I love knowing how some of the shots were done from my one day on set. Still my favorite performance has to be that of John Salamone, seen in flashbacks as the evil Benjamin White. He was really scary without any of the prosthetics. The death scenes are carefully managed, with some seriously good special effects.

I really enjoyed Mister White and thought it was a quite well done low-budget movie. Honestly, I was blown away by how much Erica was able to accomplish on that budget. My only nitpick was that I didn’t feel that there was enough done with the chess motif featured in the film and some of the posters. It felt like there was perhaps a scene cut somewhere and it seemed to undercut the strength of a later scene.

Look for Mister White at a horror festival near you or better still support Erica and my daughter by purchasing a copy of the DVD here. Honestly I’ll stop shilling now though I intend to review Erica’s earlier film, Loverboy sometime next week.

 

 

Happy Anniversary!

ActionFest

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful and oh so patient wife. Here she is aiding and abetting my action movie addiction at ActionFest (with action star Michael Jai White). Sadly there is no ActionFest this year – the ActionFest founders are taking a year off to regroup. I sure hope they will be back next year. The first three ActionFests were some of the best vacations I have ever had (There – I’ve gotten my obligatory movie news out of the way).

Marc & JennyBut I digress, this post was supposed to be about the woman who agreed oh so many decades ago to be my life partner (okay two and a fraction). She encouraged me to blog when I complained that my writing skills were getting rusty – and by encourage I mean she set up WordPress and my website for me and showed me how to use them. Because she already blogged about our personal life, I turned to my hobby, movies, for blogging. She is currently encouraging me to write my novel which I finally passed the twenty thousand word mark on (I am a glacially slow writer).

Mouse Creek FallsHere we are at Mouse Creek Falls. When we married, she had never seen mountains. After visiting The Smokies, we vacationed there as often as we could. Eventually we realized we were free to leave Florida and moved up to our vacation spot. Jenny was the driving force behind that idea.

In addition to all the love and support I could ever need, Jenny has given me gifts beyond compare, namely my two incredible daughters and through them a wonderful son-in-law and granddaughter that I love very much.

PostersShe has helped me plaster every available surface in the living room with movie posters of all sizes. For me this has turned it into my personal home theater. My youngest daughter, the make-up artist, got me a poster of her upcoming film, Mister White, signed by her and the director, Erica Summers. My eldest daughter got me a poster of The Expendables 2 signed by Chuck Norris. My treasured mother-in-law even got me an original Vincent Price poster from The Last Man on on Earth.

We aren’t actually doing much this year as we just had a septic tank replacement that spiraled out of control. Apparently it is not good to find an actual spring when digging near the house to place the tank. In spite of that I’m sure we will have a fun time. We like spending money as much as anyone but we’ve also never had a problem having fun on a budget.

She knows that I am terrible with PDAs but I just wanted to tell my wife that I love her.

Happy Anniversary Honey!