The Art of loving Art

Oh my God you guys!

I went to the coolest thing yesterday. I’m in New Jersey with Danger and we went to the GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE in Hamilton. We spent the afternoon wandering the property and saw MOST of the art they had tucked all over in between gardens and ponds. Oh, and did I mention they serve beer and wine?

Seriously. If you ever get the chance, please go. www.groundsforsculpture.org

Later when I was telling everyone who asked, (and a few people who didn’t) how fucking awesome it was, I realized something:

Never. Not once during that time did I think “I should be making this kind of stuff.” I just loved it and wanted to share it with people because I thought they’d love it too.

That’s how I feel about books and writers, especially small press writers. I discovered something that I think is amazing and I want to help spread the word.

As a result of me spreading my excitement over bizarro and weird fiction I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I write too. And when I say no they seem disappointed and that made me wonder “am I supposed to?” or “why don’t I?”

I think I have finally figured out my answer for the next time it comes up.

Art needs people who just LOVE it. People who want to appreciate it, are inspired by it and share it with everyone they know.

Books and authors do too. In fact, believe it or not, writers are not the most outgoing or self confidant group of people out there. Sure, there are exceptions but in general they’re kinda shy and awkward. So, if you know of a place in your local hometown that would host a reading let people know. If you really like a person’s work, contact them and say so.

Writers don’t just need people to order their books….oh, they need that for sure. But there’s more, they need people to be fans, people to go to their readings, to share with their friends, to start book clubs and write reviews. They need to be loved just like the rest of us.

So get out there and spread some bizarro love my friends, and until next time…I’m just going to keep being the only person in the picture who ISN’T a published author.

Cheers! Lisa  #bizarrofiction #fungasmpress

LOVE WITCHES, BIONIC GIRLS, AND PSYCHOTIC HAIR STYLISTS! (ETHERIA FILM NIGHT BRINGS THE NEXT WAVE OF KICKASS FEMALE DIRECTORS TO THE FORE)

ETHERIA2016MARQUEEWell, it’s been about a week since the Etheria Film Night kicked L.A.’s pasty-gray male cinematic ass for the third straight year. (Or at least it did mine!)

For those of you not in the know: Etheria is an organization devoted to showcasing first-rate female filmmakers who work in the genres (horror, fantasy, science fiction, action, crime, black comedy, and bizarro). Festival founders Heidi Honeycutt, Stacy Pippi Hammon, and Kayley Viteo take their traveling shows all over the country, year-round. Meanwhile connecting women all up and down the motion picture universe, from industry insiders to struggling beginners to international filmmakers the whole world over.

Their mission statement is that not ONLY are women fully capable of directing high-quality, astonishing film and television, but that they have the proof: selecting the cream from the hundreds of films submitted, and saying, “HIRE THESE WOMEN. You have no excuse not to.” And they are absolutely right.

Full disclosure: I’ve been a judge and “Honorary Vagina” for Etheria since the very beginning. So am I biased? You’re goddam right. I FUCKING LOVE THESE WOMEN. Believe in them a trillion percent. Think the case they’re making is incredibly important.

And every year, with every showcase, they do nothing to prove me wrong. Getting better and better all the time. (For more info, check their website  http://www.etheriafilmnight.com/about-etheria-film-night/)

Love Witch Poster ImageThis year’s feature also turns out to be one of my favorite films of 2016 to date: Anna Biller’s THE LOVE WITCH, which should be hitting select theaters before the summer is out. It’s a delightfully stylish, funny, and fucked-up 21st-century resurrection of vintage 1960s-70s Eurosleaze, exploitation, and hippie horror. Taking its fem-gnostically fun-packed vision further than any of the films and filmmakers it evokes, on the way to staking its own unique claim on film history.

Think 1973’s THE WICKER MAN meets BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS on its way to THE DUNWICH HORROR – with some Radley Metzger, Roger Corman, Donald Cammell, Sam Fuller, Nicholas Roeg, Jess Franco, and John Waters thrown in for good measure – and you start to get the gist of how insanely juicy this gets.

It’s the story of Elaine (Samantha Robinson): a lovely and deranged young woman who really, really wants that fairy tale True Love she’s been promised. And is determined to have it, no matter how high the broken-hearted body count gets. She’s a student of the seductive arts. She’s ridiculously gorgeous. And she’s also a witch. So she’s pretty much three-for-three in the Black Widow Sweepstakes. No man can resist her spell.

But love gotten that easily is pretty hard to respect. And the cruelty of her first love – which propelled her on this quest – has focused and hardened her to the point of pure free-floating psychotic fixation. And as her sloppily-disposed-of stack of dead dudes deepens, she encounters the One Tough Cop who could either be her ultimate dream lover, or the man who finally brings her down.

As a story, this is total fun. But as a film?

OH, MY FUCKING GOD.

It all starts with Anna Biller herself – a filmmaker’s filmmaker, if ever one was – who not only wrote, produced, and directed the living shit out of it, but also edited, composed the music, production-designed and art-directed the exquisite sets, the wardrobe, and every inch of it throughout so hard that she deserves some sort of Stanley Kubrick Award for EXCELLENCE IN EVERYTHING.

You know you’re in unusually good hands when you go, “Omigod, look at those colors. This is gorgeous!” Then start laughing at a perfectly staged joke, leading straight into sequences of genuine horniness, culminating (usually) in some sort of alarming death. All of it exquisitely shot. Eyeball and earball candy all the way. (Her music is both lush AND hilarious!)

And the performances couldn’t be better. Samantha Robinson channels young Liz Taylor by way of Russ Meyer and The Carrie Nations, and is can’t-take-your-eyes-off-her riveting throughout. Love-spell recipients Robert Seeley and Gian Keys both kill it, as does Laura Laddell as the woman most betrayed. Elaine’s fellow witches are also terrific. But Jeffrey Vincent Parise scene-steals his shit so hard (as “Wayne”, the totally good-to-go first fool we meet) that I can’t believe he wasn’t already one of my favorite movie stars.

I gotta say: there’s something about watching men nakedly, vulnerably weep on camera – like women have been asked to do since cameras began – that’s kind of hilarious in a film like this. Seeing the sex roles inverted always cheers me up. But also totally yanks my chains.

Because, yes: the broken heart of a man hurts just as much as the broken heart of a woman, I am here to fucking tell you. It’s just surpassingly rare to see it portrayed on film like this, from a woman’s perspective, and with the stoic manly filter turned off. Watching your guy melt down to a puddle, while you go, “Oof. Jesus, what a pussy,” is as real as real can be; and Parise and Seeley bring that emotion so hard that I’m laughing and crying at the same time. An extraordinary feat, in an extraordinary film.

I love this movie soooo much, in so many ways, that you’d think it cast some sort of nefarious spell upon me. And you’d be right! Am officially an Anna Biller fan for life. Want to see anything she does. But will not be swigging anyone’s love potion, any time soon.

And now we move to the short film block, where the remaining nine filmmakers cued up to weave their respective spells, at 20 minutes or less.

Ghengis Khan Conquers the MoonFirst up was GENGHIS KHAN CONQUERS THE MOON by Kerry Yang, wherein the titular warlord (Cary Tagawa, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE) is enticed to spread his empire extraterrestrially, to the Sea of Tranquility, as seen through a telescope owned by James Wong (GREMLINS). It felt like a super-high-end Syfy Channel series pitch to me, in terms of tone. Superlatively dialed. And I hope they listen. Cuz she knocked it out the park. (The production values –including the lunar landscape they created – are legitimately breathtaking.)

HOSS - directed by Christine BoylanHOSS by Christine Boylan is also aiming straight for high-end network viability. Clearly a setup for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi western series, it’s beautifully shot and staged, and the script is clever, with tons of cool implications. My unfortunate complaint is the one I honestly have with most TV. It’s too clean. I don’t smell the sweat, and wonder how this tough heroine keeps her wardrobe so spotless. But taken on its own terms, it’s sharp as a knife, and the death scene that caps it is excellent. Far as I can tell, she could step onto any show and hold her own. Knows how it’s done. And does it very, very well.

ReStart - directed by Olga OsarioFrom there, shit gets weird in a hurry. Olga Osario’s RESTART is a time-warping, mind-warping gem somewhere between MEMENTO and LOOPER, with all the enormous filmic skill that implies. This story of a kidnapped woman, eternally trying to figure out how to change her past and end the cycle, is profoundly thought-through and directed within an inch of its life. Amazing work. And phenomenal talent.

Boxer - directed by Toy LeiToy Lei’s BOXER brought the action, at the shortest running time. It’s the story of a nondescript Asian mom who nobody would suspect came here to kill you. But she can, and she will, with incredible skill and absolute ruthlessness. Somewhere between her succinct, beautifully-choreographed ultraviolence and her love of her son, I fell in love with this thing. It evokes a powerful motherly role-reversing twist somewhere between LONE WOLF AND CUB and LEON THE PROFESSIONAL. If this became a series, I would watch it. Just sayin’!

Hard Broads - directed by Mindy BledsoeLikewise with Mindy Bledsoe’s HARD BROADS, the far-and-away laughtastic favorite of the show. It’s the cheapest and rawest of the batch. But fuck if this girlfriend inversion of WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S gone horribly wrong didn’t bring down the house. Utterly belongs on Comedy Central, or whoever else wants to surf that hilarious wave. I laughed so hard it hurt.

The Puppet Man - directed by Jacqeuline CastelJacqueline Castel’s THE PUPPET MAN is thin on plot, but drippingly rich in sleazy textural va-va-vooom. The awesome music and cameo by the great John Carpenter certainly add to the voom. But there’s a giddy, galvanized intensity to every neon-lit speck of the proceedings at this shithole bar, where things go from bad to worse, that’s impossible to ignore. If the feature it implies pays off on its deliciously creepy setup, this one could be a keeper. It definitely rocks. (And Susannah Simpson gives my favorite supporting performance of the short fest. She’s the P.J. Soles of the next generation. I want to see her in EVERYTHING!)

Which brings us, at last, to my top three.

The Stylist - directed by Jill GevargizianThe big festival award-winner – with both the judges and the audience – was Jill Gavargizian’s THE STYLIST. For very many good reasons. Its tale of a lonely, damaged, homicidal hair stylist who longs to live the lives of the successful clients she colors and coifs literally screams to be made into a powerful stand-alone horror feature, of which this is but a chapter. (A series could work, too, But let’s start with the feature!)

Najarra Townsend (CONTRACTED) utterly owns this role, lovably down-to-earth and wincingly tragic by turns. She’s the opposite of a cold-blooded killer. Has a very warm heart. But is unfortunately deeply insane, with some really bad ideas about how to improve her life.

And there’s a grisly, sustained centerpiece – shot in one retina-peelingly astonishing take – that had the entire audience cringing and staring through its fingers. It’s a virtuoso moment of pure hardcore horror that’s as emotionally transgressively shocking as it is meatily unflinching.

Bottom line: it’s a great horror film with a lot of soul, delivered impeccably. SOMEONE GIVE JILL THE MONEY TO MAKE THIS FEATURE NOW.

Nasty - directed by Prano Bailey-BondSpeaking of hardcore horror: the one film that had me jumping up and down in my seat was NASTY, by Prano Bailey-Bond. This is a U.K.flick, set in 1982, during the height of the “Video Nasties” scandal, when horror films from CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST to THE EVIL DEAD were being actively banned. And it dances with the danger and allure of watching such forbidden fruit in a familial setting, with a barely-teenage son trying to figure out where his dad has disappeared to. Stumbling onto Dad’s secret stash of forbidden VHS tapes. And getting initiated into a deeper, darker surreality that may both corrupt his life AND bring the family closer together.

I’ve seen a lot of movies try to reconcile our love of watching horrible things with our desire to understand those horrible things. And recognize them in ourselves, without taking them out on the world.

NASTY’s enormous triumph, for me, is that it uses every naturalistic and hallucinogenic chance it gets to hardwire you inside that experience. Draws a super-clear line between the imaginary and the real. Then pries your brain apart, and drags you through the luminous VHS gateway to revelation.

Lemme just say that Prano Bailey-Bond is one amazing director. She works in at least three distinct styles here, from gritty/jittery/artifact-packed 80s VHS re-creation to Ken Loach naturalism to Chris Cunningham-level mind-bending what-the-fuck-did-I-just-see-ness. She uses every tool in the visionary toolshed, on a tiny budget, and the results utterly blew me away. Fucking loved it. Fucking want to see more of her soon.

But if NASTY had me jumping up and down, Stephanie Cabdevila’s BIONIC GIRL was the one with which I fell most soulfully in love. And it’s the one for which mere words are most apt to fail me. So please allow me to attempt to describe this most intoxicatingly beautiful of bizarro mindfucks.

Bionic Girl - directed by Stephanie CabdevilaLet’s start by saying Stephanie Cabdevila is working at a Michele Gondry level of artistic brilliance here, circa his videos for Bjork and THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP. The movie is, in fact, a musical sci-fi/fantasy from beginning to end, translating its boundless imagination into one breathtaking symbolic setpiece after another. So no, I wasn’t crying. That was just my eyeballs drooling.

From the moment our mad scientist/heroine (Clemintine Poidatz) starts songsplaining the bionic replica of herself she’s created to take her place in the outside world – and we’re shown her ghostly-sheeted, googly-eyed constant companion in alienation – we’re transported to a place made entirely out of magick and infinite possibility. And as her plan goes swiftly, horribly wrong, the depths of her isolation become stunningly manifest. She’s got a long, hard climb to reclaim herself, a process both sweetly comic and sincerely oh-no heartbreaking.

The climactic fight between self and projection is a classic example of the all-too-rare “surrealist action scene”, monumentally played. And where it lands is so achingly lovely and utterly weird that it feels, to me, like home.

If I were ever to start a Fungasm Film line – producing the kinds of films I edit as books for Fungasm Press – Stephanie Cabdevila would be at the very tip-top of my list. BIONIC GIRL is, to my mind, the reason they invented the word magnificent.

So that’s my report! I hope it inspires you to look into Etheria, and their ever-growing roster of femme-tastic filmmakers. Because they’re essential parts of the new frontier. In a world where men direct roughly 96% of the feature films and television being produced, there’s no longer any excuse for saying, “Well, I’d hire a woman director, but there just aren’t any. We just can’t find ’em.”

As Jackie Kong – groundbreaking, troublemaking director of BLOOD DINER, and recipient of Etheria’s 2016 Inspiration Award – said in her keynote speech (and I’m paraphrasing pretty close), “If you want to support us, hire us. We’re right here. And we’re ready to work.”

And as I’ve said before, and will say again: if 49% of the human race is telling 96% of the stories, WE AIN’T HEARING 51% OF THE WHOLE HUMAN STORY. A situation so unjust and untenably insane I should barely even need to point it out.

If you’re as tired as I am of hearing the same old stories, over and over, here’s a simple solution that’s sitting right there, just waiting for us to open the door.

I’d like to suggest that we open that door.

There is no excuse not to.

— John Skipp

The Puppet Dance Begins

“Hannah lived in a big house in the suburbs and she did her homework every night and she ate all of her acorn mash because she was always told that acorn mash would make her strong, and she emptied the dishwasher when it was full and she took out the trash when it started to smell and she always remembered to floss after brushing and both of her parents were puppets.

All adults were puppets.” -Puppet Skin by Danger Slater

Happy Friday!

This week is all about puppets.

Puppets in books, puppets HOLDING books and puppets on a trip to promote this new book.

Fungasm Press is extremely excited to announce their latest book, Puppet Skin by Danger Slater is now available for preorder on Amazon. And the release date is July 18th!!!

https://www.amazon.com/Puppet-Skin-Danger-Slater/dp/1621052230/

 

What? You never heard of YA Bizarro Horror Fiction before? Maybe it’s because there really hasn’t been any. Welcome to the future folks. Danger Slater has outdone himself again and I can’t wait for everyone to read it.

This one’s unique, even by Fungasm standards, in that it may be the most deeply fucked-up, weird-ass YA novel I’ve ever seen. Or maybe  it’s just a shockingly horrific Bizarro fairy tale for brain-starved teens of all ages. YOU TELL ME!”  -John Skipp

Over the next two weeks Puppet  Danger and Puppet Lisa will be heading across America on an puppet-venture with an appearance on the Bizzaong Podcast to talk about the new book and whatever other messed up stuff Frank comes up with to talk about. https://www.facebook.com/Bizzong/?fref=ts  

The puppets are also guests of honor at a very special bizarro bash in Chicago held by author Michael Allen Rose, the flawless Sauda Namir, as well as many more fantastical puppet-photo-ops. We will be posting these shenanigans on both Instagram and Twitter using  #PuppetSkinPreorder  and I promise, if not educational, it will at least be entertaining. 

Stay tuned and you might just be surprised by some of the cameos that drop in.

Cheers! Lisa

#fungasmpress #bizarropress #teamdanger

 

Fungasm Friday!!!

 

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”

Some guy from some band said that.

And you know what? He was right.

Summer hasn’t even officially began and I’m already out of free weekends. EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND from now until September is spoken for.

Not all the plans involve work events, one of those weekends says “the Oregon coast” and another says “Lake Trillium” those are camping trips with my friends and family. Tonight it says Gilbert Road where Garrett Cook and Danger Slater  I mean,  Applause-O-Tron will be co hosting Portland’s weirdest night readings, performances and open mic slots with Portland’s ONLY monkey moderator.

Tonight is going to be a good time. But…..the rest of those, yuck.

Thank goodness for Bizarro Con.

When the sunburns and pool parties are just distant memories….

When the best holiday in the world (HALLOWEEN) is over and it gets dark at like 4pm.

THIS is something to look forward to. The 17th-20th of November and held at the Edgefield Hotel just outside of Portland Oregon. You will never experience anything quite like it anywhere else in the world.

 

If you love bizarro fiction and strange as fuck performances from the funnest group weirdos around, this is your kind of party and registration for 2016 just opened up at  https://bizarrocon.com/registration/

My first year I was so nervous and drank so so much beers, (did I mention the beer yet? It’s great) and I heard Carlton Mellick III perform The Rules Of Fight Club followed by dancing to live music from The Slow Poisoner, Mr. Andrew Goldfarb accompanied by Mr. Skipp on the bongos.

This year I’m introducing a new element, the “Bizarro Pickles” event will take place on Thursday night, I’m going to make pickled radishes and a surprise item. (something spicy)

Another cool thing about Bizarro Con are a little thing called the Wonderland Book Awards.

The most talked about Bizarro books of 2015 are all up for nomination RIGHT NOW!!

Last year MP Johnson won for his book Dungeons and Drag Queens and if it weren’t for the runaway success of Jeremy Robert Johnson’s Skullcrack City I believe MP’s Cattle Cult Kill Kill would totally win this year. You can vote for your top three choices here:

https://bizarrocentral.com/2016/06/01/wonderland-book-award-preliminary-voting-begins-now-5/

But, if you want to have a say when it comes to the final vote, you have to go to Bizarro Con!

And finally, we are celebrating the 15th Anniversary Edition of SATAN BURGER! http://www.amazon.com/Satan-Burger-Anniversary-Carlton-Mellick/dp/1621052184?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

“The book that did more to frame the oncoming Bizarro revolution than any other”

John Skipp wrote the intro to this one, as a guy who helped frame a previous genre revolution with a funny name (splatterpunk).

“This book is brilliant”. (You can quote me on all this…..John Skipp)