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House of Purgatory’s Tyler Christensen

Published October 31, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

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Based on an urban legend revolving around a haunted house so scary that guests are paid if they survive it, House of Purgatory is writer-director Tyler Christensen’s debut feature. But the openly gay Christensen adds an interesting social subtext to the proceedings here by concentrating on the youthful fears and tortured secrets of his protagonists. Excited about the recent release of this emotional, horror filled outing on various media platforms, Christensen took a moment to chat with me about his inspirations for the film, his eclectic and talented cast and the film’s psychological repercussions.

BGHF: Hi, Tyler! I’m calling you on a surprisingly summer like fall day in Chicago. Tyler: Well, it’s raining here in L.A.

I stole your thunder, man! You did!

I’ll give it back, I swear. Probably by tomorrow! No worries. I’m actually enjoying this. It reminds me of growing up in Wisconsin.

Is that where the concept for House of Purgatory began?  I had heard the urban legend in it, growing up. Was it something you were familiar with?

No. I had never heard of that one. It was a very popular legend in Wisconsin. Every Halloween, someone was talking about someone’s cousin who had done it or someone’s brother.  So, then I went to college in Oshkosh and, years later, I sat down to write a film. I knew, specifically, that I wanted to produce it and put it together. You write a lot of projects that are pie in the sky. Things that you’d love to make…one day, once money is no object. So, this is the first time that I decided to write a script that was producible. I planned on directing it. So, what could it be? I came across this very urban legend again. What? I couldn’t believe it was an urban legend. I totally fell for it when I was growing up. I was intrigued by it. I decided to pretend that it was a real thing. If it was, what would be so scary in a haunted house that people wouldn’t be able to make it through? It would have to be tailor made to each person. We all, obviously, have much different fears. So, if I’m going to tailor make the house, I decided it was going to know their secrets and it just grew from that.house of purgatory cast.png

I was a little worried that the characters were going to turn out to be dead like Mary Henry in Carnival of Souls. I think that reveal has been used once too often. Carnival of Souls did that so well. Other movies have done it since. If it’s not done well, technically, which 90% of the time it isn’t, it just comes off as a cop out. Oh, this is how we’re going to explain all these supernatural things. They’re dead! Come on!

I just get disappointed because it’s easy to figure out what’s going on. Oh, fuck, I know what’s going on halfway through. Exactly!

There’s no surprise. So, I appreciated that it didn’t happen here. Thank you! (Laughing) I said I know what Brian wants…and he’s going to be disappointed if I don’t do it!

Finally! A man who knows what I want! It took awhile, but the day has arrived. (Laughing) Nice!

So, let’s talk about your cast. Anne Leighton, the lead, is doing quite well now with Grimm and other projects. How did you discover her and what was it like working with her? She was great. Travis Moody, the producer, had worked with her on a project. She wasn’t doing quite as much as she is doing now, but she was still very successful. He told me to send the script over to her because he thought that she would react well to it, that it was right up her alley. She has a thing for the genre, in general. It was fun coming in, being a first time feature director; you can tell when you’re working with professionals. People not only come prepared, but they ask you questions and have thoughts. Anne would come to me with ideas about Melanie’s relationship with her mother. I would be like, “Sure, I totally had that planned out.” It was fun because she would dive into it, even deeper than I did.

Of course, your veteran was Brian Krause from such projects as Sleepwalkers and Charmed. He was great. I was a little nervous. He was a bigger name. While he has done some low budget stuff, I thought he might come in like, “Really guys? This tiny little thing?” But, he was great. He was so hands on and ready to go with his ideas and thoughts about the role. It took some trial and error to get his make-up just right. He was a trooper. He and the make-up artist would sit there and do an hour or two of work. Then I’d see it and go, “Nope. That’s not what I’m thinking. Start over.” So, it took a lot of time to get the make-up right. I guess I thought, “Here’s the star in our movie and let’s cover him up with make-up so no one knows it’s him.”  (Laughs) The marketing team just loves that.

house-of-purgatory-redWas there a moment that you enjoyed the most when filming? I think the most fun was the moment when the cast has that first conversation with Brian, as The Skeleton, at the ticket booth. That was the first time that the actors had seen his make-up. It was in this field, in the middle of the woods. The night was perfect. It was a cool night with fog. It just lent itself so well to the mood. It was also Brian’s first scene on set, so there was this extra buzz and excitement about having him there. When I saw him in his make-up, after they had gotten it right, and in his costume…I was like, “I have Brian Krause in my movie! How cool is this?” When you write something, you have one vision. As you are producing it and putting it together, it sort of becomes another vision. When you’re directing and looking at the monitor, it becomes a third vision. More often than not, it goes downhill. You wrote it, you had this great vision, but reality sets in, and its nothing like you imagined and you get mad. But, this was exactly what I had envisioned. It was such a cool feeling. There’s a scene in the pumpkin patch, as well, that was special for me. As soon as we had it lit, I was standing in the middle of it, turning around and staring at all these pumpkins. It was the coolest thing ever.

I liked that there is some social subtext to this piece. It is more emotionally resonant than the typical slasher.

I, obviously, related to the gay character. Growing up, I never thought my friends and family would act in a nightmarish way upon my coming out. But I think everyone has those sorts of things to deal with. At that age, you’re so concerned and one of your biggest fears is disappointing your parents. When you do something and they yell at you, it’s bad. But when you do something and they say that they are disappointed in you, it cuts so much deeper. A lot of the teen slashers, we’ve seen it. You smoke weed, you die. You drink, you die. You have sex, you die. There’s so much more to kids at that age. We don’t always see it unless the movie, as a whole, is a statement. We don’t get to see their everyday issues. There is a lot of fear.house of purgatory trailer.png

I appreciated that you walked a fine line with the film. There are people who could feel that you are condemning the characters. There were a couple people who read it, who didn’t know my background, and thought I was taking some kind of stance. They thought I was making an anti-this or anti-that film. I did go back and tweak things. I was so upset when I first got that reaction. I couldn’t believe people thought that I would write something like that. I went back and reread and dove in to make sure that it is clear that these are their secrets and that they are not being punished for sins. It never once says sin in the script. It’s always a secret. Even the sign on the door as they walk up to the house says “Secrets, secrets are so fun. Your secrets here can come undone”. I’m saying the word secret three times in a sentence. I think I’m safe. But, I think anytime that you are dealing with real world, hot button issues, issues that people can be really divided on…there’s going to be talk. That’s a good thing. I’d rather make a movie that starts dialogue. There are very few movies, especially in the horror world, that you can talk about.

Agreed!

House of Purgatory is available, currently, on iTunes, Xbox, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu, PlayStation, YouTube, and Vimeo On Demand. The film is also set to be released on Amazon Prime, 24-Hour Movie Channel on Roku, DVD and Cable VOD at a later date.

More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/HouseofPurgatory.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

 

 

Eli Roth and That “Gay” Word!

Published October 14, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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So, I honestly love Eli Roth! The man could…say, produce a slightly confusing Twins Peak like series called Hemlock Grove…and I’d watch it. He could play something eternally classy like the Wet T-Shirt Host in the Piranha remake…and I’d deem him the embodiment of Laurence Olivier in his prime. But, good queer boys in wonderment, he has to find some better derogatory phrases for his characters to use – like now!

If you remember, a number of years ago, Roth was brought to task by some fans for the use of homosexual slurs by his straight, college age male characters in Hostel. Roth’s defense was that he, himself, wasn’t homophobic, but that the phrases were indeed something that would come out of a twenty something’s mouth. Even though, as a gay man, I momentarily flinched the first time I heard Jay Hernandez’s Paxton describe a nightclub as a “fucking fag fest”, I did agree with Roth’s honest assessment of his creations and let it pass.

Flash forward nearly 10 years, though, and I do believe it’s time for a change! It’s only a brief moment (and I may be accused of creating shit piles out of pebbles), but in The Green Inferno, Roth’s cannibal flick homage that is still chewing up the nubile flesh of theater goers, the socially motivated final girl’s best friend, jokingly (but emphatically), declares, “Activism is so fucking gay!”

As I’ve stated, it is truly a blip in the proceedings, but it truly bothered me. You can argue it how you want, but when it comes down to it, in contemporary society, “gay” refers to homosexuality and when you use it as a negative, what flashes into everyone’s minds? Limp wristed, catty little puff boys who couldn’t put up a good fight in the cafeteria of life! Saying that the word has nothing to do with orientation or romantic preference, but merely describes something that is weak or lame doesn’t help either. The part of society that hates us truly believes that is what we are – less than, ineffective, wrong. Also, to argue that this vernacular would still be part of an urban college student’s vocabulary seems unreasonable to me. Gay, bisexual and transgender people are a part of almost every city dwelling student’s life now.

What is, possibly, ironic here is that Kaycee, the character who utters this proclamation, is played by model-actress Sky Ferreira, whose dance worthy 2013 album Night Time, My Time probably found its biggest fans in the queer community.

So, accuse me of nitpicking, but as one in huge community of GLBT fright lovers, I have to say that the use of this term, even in quick jest, was hurtful to me. I want to escape into a horror flick, not be reminded that, in some areas, I could still be bashed for being a dick sucker the moment that I leave the theater.

So, I still love you, Eli. But maybe it’s time to modernize?!? And, yes, I did appreciate the sensitive lesbian couple that played into the film’s bloody proceedings. But next time, why not be a true rebel and use a sexy male duo? Hot gay girls are so hetro-accepted – just ask Eva Mendes who played one in Urban Legends: Final Cut in 2000!

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Overview: Days of Our Lives, “The Necktie Killer” – Part Two

Published October 12, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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Soap opera Days of Our Lives has been adding a flare of Hitchcockian horror to its latest storylines, including a twisted serial killer tale. Here’s my second look at this blood thirsty venture.

Salem’s continued aura of Gothicism has continued these past two weeks with ghostly appearances, the mysterious re-entry of a smooth talking heir and another vicious murder.

Caroline Brady (Peggy McCay), the town’s beloved pub owner, found herself, face to face, with the spectral presence of her long dead husband, Shawn. Believed to be suffering from Alzheimer’s, Caroline is actually, unknowingly, the victim of a mysterious illness that is causing her to rapidly deteriorate and…well, see dead folks! Will that unknown serum that her doctor daughter Kayla has administered reverse the effects? true

The killer’s second victim, Paige, also made some ephemeral contact with her grieving mother, Eve. Appearing to the distraught parent at her funeral, Paige urged the overwhelmed woman to release her anger and offered up forgiveness for the wrongs that had been committed against her. Instead of following her daughter’s tender advice, Eve, in some of portrayer Kassie DePaiva’s most anguished work, went after Paige’s errant boyfriend, JJ (Casey Moss) and his mother, Jennifer (Melissa Reeves), with flint-eyed intent. A tender talk with her sister, Theresa (Jen Lilley), afterwards, though, seemed to turn Eve towards a more even keeled path and, hopefully, major character adjustments during the months that she has left on the show.

kassie trueHere, it was nice to see the luminous True O’Brien, Paige’s portrayer, once again, and the actress’s angelic beauty truly added potent warmth to the otherworldly atmosphere. Unfortunately, the current writers (Josh Griffith, Dena Higley) exhibit that, just like the previous regime, they don’t seem to know what to do with Eve and DePaiva, her multi-talented portrayer. Instead of applying a natural arc here – for example, having Eve attack JJ and Jennifer and then receive some spiritual guidance from Paige, resulting in some redemptory scenes with her enemies – the powers-that-be, instead, chose to, momentarily, alienate Eve further from the audience. DePaiva, a distinguished soap vet, truly deserves much better.

Meanwhile, Chad, the accused killer, went undercover. Looking like an extra from a low budget production of The Grapes of Wrath, this nervous lord-to-an-empire took to the docks of the city, looking for the homeless man who could give him an alibi for the crimes. Discovering that the man was mentally unprepared to offer him any sanctuary, Chad returned to the home of his all-powerful father, Stefano (Joseph Mascolo). There, he discovered Andre (Thaao Penghlis), his father’s former nephew, turned instant son by the current production staff. Bristling against the advice of his sudden brother, Chad seems to be heading to further unfortunate adventures until the true killer, Ben, is revealed.guy robert strangled

Ben (Robert Scott Wilson), naturally, has been quite busy, himself. Reliving his violent misdeeds, in his mind, during tender exchanges with his pregnant fiancée, Abigail (Kate Mansi), this muscled hunk seems ready to crack. He, also, impulsively threw an errant red tie, evidence of his crimes, into a waste basket in his apartment. There, it was discovered by Will, Abigail’s cousin and best friend and, perhaps, soapdom’s only gay legacy character.

The grandson of Marlena and the son of Sami, two of Days’ most beloved divas, Will came out as gay, under the beloved watch of his former portrayer, multiple Emmy winner Chandler Massey. Current portrayer Guy Wilson has not been as embraced by the fans, but he provided viewers with some of Days‘ best moments in the past year or so. With Wilson on the job, Will married hIs true love, Sonny, and provided plenty of soapy awesomeness as he proved how close in nature he was to his impulsive, wrong doing mother. Cheating on Sonny with a former baseball pro named Paul (Christopher Sean), Will, ultimately, used various devious methods to hold onto his man. This naturally drove Sonny away – as in out of the country – and Will has been floundering, emotionally, ever since. The discovery of the necktie, also, made him Ben’s latest victim as the soap came to a close this previous week.

Apart from the hilariously odd impossibilities, which found Ben lugging Will’s body across town without detection and making it appear as if Will had been killed in a robbery attempt, there are more serious implications at work here with this murder – as in the subtle scent of (possibly unintended) homophobia.

In their (semi) defense, the writers seem to be trying to clean house in inventive and surprising ways. But the killing off one of daytime drama’s only homosexual characters is, ultimately, a poor choice on many levels. Even Allison Sweeney, Sami’s portrayer, has spoken out about her dissatisfaction with this twist, publically, and how it makes no sense to the show, historically or culturally. Indeed, previous writing teams insured Will’s importance by making him the unexpected father of a daughter before indulging in his full steps into homosexuality. Thus, right wing types were assured of Will’s virility – he had slept with a woman, after all – and familial type storylines, for decades, were set in place.

But, in recent weeks, Days has gone from one of the most progressive and queer friendly shows to one with increasingly diminishing turns. Granted, Freddy Smith, Sonny’s portrayer, left the show of his own accord. But Paul, who was revealed to be the son of John, another one of the show’s enduring characters, has been nowhere in sight, as of late, as well. It truly seems as if with the eradication of Will, the show is turning from the ethics of modernity to the “family values” of the past, a slap in the face to all of its queer and queer loving viewers.

Time will tell how things play out, but the removal of Will, who has grown up before the audience’s eyes, will be a hard fact to get over – especially as his absence, during this time period when the show claims to be concentrating more on its core families and characters, seems like such an inexplicable one.

Perhaps, at the very least, outcry over this issue may cause the head writers to examine the public ramifications of future decisions with other minority and out of the status quo characters. For In (supposed) equal times such as these, erasing a vital queer element can seem in line, even accidentally, with all those bigots who would, seemingly, like us all to disappear for good.
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Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Robyn Loau – “The Last Time”

Published October 5, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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As the GLBT community finally gains its rights and full respects in the eyes of the law, it seems like the worst time to genuflect before its faults. But, humanity is a complex and varied beast and, for years now, queer publications have covered the very harrowing (and unfortunately) truthful stories of domestic violence that occur in same sex relationships.

Recently, director-writer Hamish Downie and cinematographer Paul Lemming gave these circumstances a very Silent Hill twist with their video for singer Robyn Loau’s The Last Time. Imbued with a restrained toxicity, this tale of a lesbian couple caught in a loop of violence, is, ultimately, haunting on many levels.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Help Out a Fellow Horror Kid!

Published April 14, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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If you’ve read the (award winning) film criticism anthologies Horror 101 or Hidden Horror, you are probably familiar with the concise, beautifully articulated words of transgendered writer Christianne Benedict. This woman’s love of genre film is strong and it shows in her passionate pieces.

Christianne is, also, one of the transgendered community’s strongest advocates. Therefore, being in a position to ask for help as opposed to giving it, is probably very strange for her. In fact, it isn’t Christianne who is doing the asking in her time of need. Her best friend has put together a Go Fund Me campaign for her. This, surely, has to say something about how powerful Christianne’s actions have been in her rural Missouri community.

But, carless (as pictured above) and on the brink of losing her house, Christianne could definitely use your support now. I bet even a dollar or two could go along way to putting a halt to certain disaster.

… and as a fellow writer friend (and the editor of the previously mentioned Horror 101 and Hidden Horror), Aaron Christensen, pointed out, if a bigoted pizza establishment in Indiana can raise untold funds, then an advocate, who is truly worthy of such an outpouring, should be able to, as well.

To take a more in-depth look at Benedict’s story or to (hopefully) donate, please visit the link, below:

http://www.gofundme.com/rtn2j7g

Thanks for your consideration!

SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan