Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It’s a Dirty job…And I love It!

Black gunk oozes from my lips as I grab the policeman’s head and he shrivels and falls to the ground, dead.


Just another day on set.  This time in Buffalo, New York for Adam Steigert’s THE HORRIFIC EVIL MONSTERS, where I am playing Famine—one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  

Like I do on a typical Saturday.

I worked with Steigert on FANG a few years back, so I knew I was in good hands with him and his crew.  That matters when you’re being asked to work in a remote, danger-laden location, wear a blindfold and fill your mouth with gulp after gulp of unappetizing liquid.

Yes, Adam’s version of Famine is a filthy, blind, drooling, skeletal mess in rags.  Makeup artist Phill Beith works magic and, in about an hour, turns me into the ghoulish creature and thus I remain for the rest of the day’s shoot.  It’s actually not as limiting as some character touches: I have the use of my dirty fingers whereas fellow Horseman Death and Conquest have such long fingernails, they need assistance more than I.

One scene also involved a prosthetic torso piece that was glued in place and then filled with gooey chunks to resemble my guts.  I cannot express just how lovely that was.

But it’s all in a day’s work on the set of many genre pictures—especially horror and sci-fi, where creatures often roam.  And THE HORRIFIC EVIL MONSTERS has a bounty of creatures.  Enough to make genre fans drool.

Normal drool.  Not black gunk. 


Monday, April 22, 2019

Be a Dog

I walk down the street with my dog, her tail wagging non-stop, and virtually everyone who passes us looks at her and smiles wide with delight.  It makes me smile with delight as well, to see their faces light up.  I have noticed this but not given it much thought.
Until now.

It occurred to me that we should all be so blessed to be like my dog: to effortlessly bring joy to everyone around us.  Can you imagine?  What if everyone we passed made us feel full of joy.  And we’d make them feel joy.  And we’d all feel joy at causing the joy in others.  It would be this exponentially evolving cycle of joy.

Can you imagine?

Now.  How to make it so?  How do we be like a dog?

I’d say it’s easy.  All it takes is a bright attitude and a matching smile.  Smiles are contagious.  Have you noticed?  If you smile, people almost always smile back.  It’s like magic.

So, the next time you leave the house, take a deep breath, exhale your cares and let a smile take over. If you spread a little sunshine, the world will be just that much brighter. For all of us.

And all our tails will be wagging.

Join me. 

Be a dog.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Positively Oscar: We are the Winners

Another Oscars has come and gone.  This year, the reactions and afterbuzz seem to me to be focused on the negative: what or who didn’t win; who said something you could find offensive; what or who was missed.  I say, rather than bemoan the things that didn’t fit our perception of “the right choices”, we focus on what great achievements were made—and there were many: for, if we lose sight of those, we are the true losers of the day.

So, let’s recognize and celebrate that a new record was set for both women and blacks winning Oscars—the latter especially noteworthy since, only a few years ago, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag denounced the lack of diversity among the acting categories.

On that front, Mahershala Ali became the second black actor to win a second Oscar—this time for his brilliant performance as gay pianist Dr. Donald Shirley in the personal memoir of an odd couple on a bumpy road trip, “Green Book”.

Spike Lee finally nabbed his first Oscar for the adapted screenplay of his searing, significant and vital movie "BlacKkKlansman".

Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler became the first black women ever to win for costume design and production design, respectively, for the superhero tale "Black Panther".

These are wonderful things.  Let’s forget our grievances and celebrate these achievements for the milestones that they are.  They show we continue to grow, to become more inclusive, more aware, more fully integrated as a people.

By focusing on the positive, we can be proud, motivated and optimistic for the future.  If we can do that, we are all winners.

Friday, January 11, 2019

"Trick and Treats": A Horrific Journey

As an actor, filming a movie is always a journey.  Sometimes it’s a journey to a dark place you would never want to go in real life.  Such is the case with “Trick and Treats”, the new horror film from Heroic Age Studios and Frightful 5000 Films. 

“Trick and Treats” tells the tale of one Halloween where a group of young folks find their revels take a wrong turn, causing a gang of sadistic bikers, a psychotic woman off her meds and a demon-possessed jack-o-lantern to collide in a maelstrom of crazy and carnage. Writer/director Eric Hector’s script is an assault of human and inhuman horrors and his team has gone all out to bring the brutal beast to life. 

Hector runs his set with such an unwavering air of calm and courtesy, you would think he’d spent years as a kindergarten teacher.  Such a genial presence is a boon on any film set, but on a set where characters are screaming and in hysterics take after take, it’s a blessing.  The camera crew, led by Tim Lynn and Patrick Donoghue work the Red like a dream, making the action around Brett Hector’s gorgeous sets look moody and marvelous.  AD Joan Hector and producer Laura Richter are on hand and hands on, wearing multiple hats, to make sure everything runs smoothly and the rest of the crew was as diligent and delightful as you could wish.

In front of the camera, I was surrounded by a bounty of talent.  It was thrilling to see actors unafraid to go anywhere and to work with whatever moment-to-moment surprises emerged to create truly horrifying scenes. The film has some exceptionally wretched characters and truly brutal moments and it was inspiring to be in the moment with these kind, lovely professionals as they turned into such terrifying monsters; it made it more comfortable for me to go farther than I expected and push myself to be even more horrible than I had planned.  I’ll never look at a certain power tool the same again.

If brutal horror films are your thing, something to make you squirm is on its way.  I apologize for your therapy bills in advance.