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2011 Midway Wrap-Up and Projections

So basically, what I mean by that convoluted title is that the purpose of this post is to recap the films The Asylum has released thus far in 2011, as well as look ahead at the rest of their slate. I figure it being June, midway through the year, now was a good time to refresh our memories on the various projects of our favorite independent film studio.

By my count, there are 14 films being released by The Asylum this year, making 2011 - if I'm not mistaken - their most prolific year to date, in regards to original productions.

The Asylum started 2011 off with a bang, releasing two films in January. The first was their foray in child-centric filmmaking, Rachel Lee Goldenberg's fun family film The Princess and the Pony, and the second was the SyFy Saturday Night premiere of Mega Python vs Gatoroid from director Mary Lambert and scribe Naomi Selfman, and starring the year's favorite duo, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. From the disparaging themes of these two films, you just knew 2011 was going to be a fun year, and profitable: more than two million viewers tuned in for the latter's debut, and in the six months since its release, buzz has only been building. MPvG hits DVD at long last on June 21st, less than a month from now. I'm predicting a revival of enthusiasm for this one.

After laying low in February, The Asylum came back in March with another double release. Battle of Los Angeles from writer/director Mark Atkins we already new to expect - its SyFy Premiere had been announced months prior - but what really took the world by surprise was the sudden announcement of a "found footage" film being rushed to DVD. Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes is puported to be home video footage documenting the many, many exorcisms of a real German girl named Anneliese Michel who died in the 1970's. In a nice stroke of marketing, from the announcement of this film to the DVD release was no more than two weeks, further aiding the "found footage" effect.

April brought the high-octane street-racing film 200MPH from stuntman turned director Cole McKay. This film, in addition to providing us with 90 minutes of everything a man likes - fast cars, strip clubs, adversity and neon - also introduced the majority of us to the beauty that is AnnaMaria DeMara, who, if my Image Results Traffic counter is at all reliable, my readers are very enthusiastic about.

And that brings us to May, which saw yet another double-shot of Asylum releases, the Marvel tie-in Almighty Thor starring Cody Deal, Richard Grieco and Kevin Nash, and the martial-arts-espionage-actioner Ballistica with the great Paul Logan. Hell of a first half to the year, but that's nothing compared to what it looks like we're getting the rest of the year.

Things get going at the end of this month with the disaster epic 2012 Ice Age, starring Patrick Labyorteaux of "J.A.G." and Julie McCullough of "Growing Pains," then quickly heat in in July with the release of the sex comedy Barely Legal from the raunchy pen of Naomi Selfman, who also brought you the libidinous romps 18 Year Old Virgin and #1 Cheerleader Camp. The film concerns three young hotties aiming to lose their virginity the same weekend. Between that and the poster, what more do you need to know? 

Then there comes August, and the release of what I personally believe will be an instant classic (which I believe, of course, because I wrote the script), A Haunting in Salem. Shot in 3D by director Shane Van Dyke (Titanic 2, 6 Guns) and starring Bill Oberst Jr, Courtney Abbiati, Jenna Stone and NIcholas Harsin, all I'll tell you is that it's a bloody/haunted house/witchy kind of terror that plagues a sheriff's family in the infamous Massachusetts hamlet. The rest you'll have to see for yourself (and please, please, please see it for yourself, and for, like, a dozen other people, too)

And now we enter the vague zone, the realm of projects about which for the most part only a few things are known: Dragon Crusaders, the second Asylum film this year from Mark Atkins, drops in September, followed by the as-yet still unattributed or even really described 3 Musekteers tie-in likely streeting in October. The November rolls around and at long last Born Bad, a straight-up thriller from actor turned writer/director Jared Cohn, gets its release. The films stars Michael Welch as the ultimate bad boy who seduces the lovely Bonnie Dennison then terrorizes her folks, Meredith Monroe and David Chokachi. Personally, I'm really looking forward to this one. 

And as if all this wasn't more than enough, The Asylum plans to end the year, most likely, with the release of their third shark epic, the awesomely titled 2 Headed Shark Attack. No details to put out there on this one just yet, but with a title like that, what do you really need to know? It's gonna be awesome.

So there you have it, The Asylum's 2011 slate in a nutshell. It's been a rad year so far, but every indication is that the second half of the year is gonna be even better. God, this shit is rad.

observation notes: Meteor Apocalypse

Another in the Faith Films line, this apocalyptic disaster epic concerns a meteor of truly ginormous proportions headed right for Earth. Though we try to annihilate the problem by throwing all our nukes at it, this predictably only makes things worse, turning what was one massive meteor into thousands of splintered shards that rain down upon cities worldwide, beginning a wave of destruction that can only be described as "Biblical." When our hero's ("Dr. Quinn's" Joe Lando) family is herded away to quarantine by government agents, thus begins his quest within the chaos to find them. He is joined along the way by a beautiful and headstrong accomplice (the lovely and talented and Looney-nominated, here, Cooper Harris).

One thing I liked about this film right off the bat was where it began; what's typically act 3 for most meteor films - our last-ditch effort to destroy/deflect the meteor - was the launching point for this one. What follows is the real drama, how we deal with inescapable chaos. And in truth, this new situation is worse: a single, giant meteor would have wiped out all life on the planet, no questions asked; but now, like this, the planet will survive, civilizations will be decimated, yes, but life will go on for a good percentage of the population. The game then becomes to make it into that percentage, which is a far more unsettling premise than everyone being resigned to the same fate. All this is just to say Meteor Apocalypse opens tense and never lets up. It's a relentless drama and a thrilling tale of survival, determination and faith.

Joe Lando as the scientist/concerned father is a believably-gruff skeptic in the beginning, making his transformation to capable coper over the course of the film that much more hard-won and convincing. Third-billed Cooper Harris is the clear standout here: likable, relatable, and the most palpable of the characters. You feel her distress, her resolve. There's a natural ease to her performance which endears her to the audience. That, and her hotness. Audiences like hot ladies (picture a super hot, much younger Tina Fey).

Claudia Christian "Babylon 5" also stars as Lando's wife, and plays the role as a cold nag. She's not around all that much, but when she is, she works.

Overall, I found Meteor Apocalypse - written by Brian Brinkman & Micho Rutare, and directed by Rutare (writer of Dragonquest and Asylum Director of Development) - a smart film in that it's not just a straight-up astronomical disaster movie - though as one it's highly successful; the FX are awesome at depicting widespread heavenly chaos and metropolitan destruction - there's a medical-thriller aspect to this one as well, another sort of inevitable and randomly-selective killer that just throws another level of tension on the pile.

And as I've found with other entries to the Faith Films line - Countdown: Jerusalem, 2012 Doomsday, The Apocalypse - the message might be Christian, but it isn't overwhelmingly so; you want to watch this as a secular action film, you won't be distracted by theology. Think of it as a nice midway point, philosophically, between Left Behind and Armageddon.

A good time, all around, and very much so recommended.

Birthday Wishes!!!

Just a quick note today to extend birthday wishes to Asylum founding partner and executive producer David Michael Latt, of the three dudes that makes every single Asylum film happen, a.k.a. one of my personal heroes.

So we here at Committed - that is, me - offer our many happy returns of the day.

Check Out Video of Asylum Heads on CNN Money!

I'm no studio executive, but I'm wiling to bet if I was one, and CNN Money did a story on my studio, the best-case scenario headline would be: "This Movie Studio Never Loses Money." I mean, doesn't that sound just about as good as it gets? The only thing that could make that better would be, "This Movie Studio Never Loses Money, and Cured Cancer." That's it. And who knows what the guys have planned for 2012?

Anyway, CNN Money did do a story on The Asylum, a video story, and they did title it, "This Movie Studio Never Loses Money." Check out the video here and PLEASE GOD rent or buy A Haunting in Salem when it's released August 23rd.

Creature Feature Catch-Up

I know not all of my readers have been with me since the beginning, and I also know I'm a lousy tagger. The combination of these things means that there are a lost of posts that perhaps you haven't seen. That being the case, every now and again I like to post a megapost, if you will, that can catch you up with all the posts under a certain heading. This week's heading: creature features; below, please find a complete listing of every published feature to date. Enjoy!

Dragon Crusaders Cast Reveal

With principal production on Dragon Crusaders - written and directed by the great Mark Atkins (Battle of Los Angeles) - already underway, I was wondering when we were going to get some cast names, and lo and behold, The Asylum has announced some over at the film's webpage.

Dylan Jones, Cecily Fay, Karl Greenwold, and Shinead Byrne are the names in question, and though they all appear to be relative newcomers - Cecily Fay was the only one I could pinpoint on IMDB, and she seems to have a background in stunt work, which is always cool - no doubt director Atkins has assembled a top-notch team for his period-set fantasy epic.

Cecily Fay in action.
Dragon Crusaders streets September 27th of this year, sandwiched between the August release of A Haunting in Salem and a probable October release for 3 Musketeers.

Lovely Ladies of the Asylum vol. 6

I'm not a fool, gentlemen. I know what brings you here, what lures you in, coaxes your hits, some of you at least. It isn't the snarky commentary, or the breaking news, the hard-hitting interviews or deep-digging profiles, no, it's not me at all, is it? I see the keywords from my Google hits, and I know a picture of a pretty lady brings in more readers than the phrase "observation notes." 

Not that I can blame you: The Asylum employs a score of attractive and - more importantly - capable, intelligent and talented actresses well worthy of your search engine adoration. So, to gives my readers something I know they want and would never ask for, I tastefully present a pictorial tribute to some of The Asylum's beautiful leading ladies. Enjoy.

Amanda Ward

Alien Abduction
Way of the Vampire
Legion of the Dead
King of the Lost World
Halloween Night
Invasion of the Pod People
upcoming Born Bad

Amanda Barton

Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove
War of the Worlds
Frankenstein Reborn
Beast of Bray Road
Dead Men Walking
King of the Lost World
Hillside Cannibals
Dracula's Curse
Pirates of Treasure Island
upcoming 2012: Ice Age

Christina Rosenberg

Frankenstein Reborn
Beast of Bray Road
King of the Lost World
Dracula's Curse
The 9/11 Commission Report

Paton Ashbrook

Airline Disaster
200 MPH
upcoming Born Bad

Jennifer Lee Wiggins

King of the Lost World
Dracula's Curse
Pirates of Treasure Island
The 9/11 Commission Report
I Am Omega

Alicia Klein

The Legend of Bloody Jack
Halloween Night

8 New Production Stills from A Haunting in Salem!!!

Man oh man is this one shaping up to be a great film (and not just cuz I wrote it): The Asylum has released 8 new stills from A Haunting in Salem, now in post-production, and from the looks of things, this one's gonna be creeeeeepy.

Featuring cast members Bill Oberst Jr, Courtney Abbiati, Jenna Stone and Carey Van Dyke, it looks like director Shane Van Dyke and his erstwhile crew have made something destined to scare the crap out of viewers everywhere. Hop over to the film's official page on The Asylum site to see the whole, bloody set, then check back on August 23rd of this year, when A Haunting in Salem is released on DVD, Blu-Ray and Video On Demand.

This one's gonna kick your ass, believe it.

Sounds Like An Asylum Film to Me

I had this post written last week, but decided to hold it until today, just in case; no one wants to enter the afterworld looking like a jackass.

As you may or may not have heard, the world was supposed to have ended this past Saturday. Obviously, it didn't, but according to this crazy nutter on the right here, the end was supposed to have begun by now (granted, it's the second time he thought that, but that's splitting hairs). He was going the rapture route, always a crowd pleaser, but in truth there have been doomsday profits of one sort or another for as long as there have been people. I thought - in lieu of crafting another rapture pitch (see The Asylum's 2012 Apocalypse, 2012 Doomsday and Meteor Apocalypse for fine examples of these) - I'd take a quick look at some other notable doomsday profits; you know, just for fun.

Doomsday prophets looooove planetary alignment. It's their equivalent of Raymond Chandler's advice to writers about advancing plot by introducing a gun: you can't really argue with it, and once it goes off, you can't stop it. So these two astrophysicists, Gribbin and Plagemann, in 1982 suggested that a rare alignment of all (at the time) 9 planets in our solar system (R.I.P. Pluto) would increase the gravitational pull to an extent that it would trigger massive earthquakes worldwide, crushing the planet like a really big egg. They convinced a lot of people of this, including Asimov, who wrote the intro for their book on the subject, The Jupiter Effect, now widely available for a quarter in used bookstores everywhere.

Edgar Cayce seems more like a creation of macabre fiction than a man: a forerunner of the New Age Movement, Cayce was a psychic, known to his followers and supporters as "The Sleeping Prophet" for the hypnotic trances he would enter in order to answer questions on a variety of subjects from faith-healing to Atlantis to prophecies on Earth changes. A lifelong Chrisitan, Cayce of course threw his hat into the ring of Biblical Armageddon, claiming that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the ensuing End of Days that this would set in motion, including the Battle for Heaven, would occur in 1999. All this prophecy really begat was a bitchin' song by Prince. Cayce, however, was smart enough to set this date long after he could hope to be alive, so what did he care?

Man, to be a zealot of moderate intelligence and exemplary charm in the 70's! Between the Quaaludes, the disco and the key parties, people were desperate to believe in anything! Enter Hal Lindsey, whose amazingly imaginative and startlingly detailed book The Late Great Planet Earth foretold a seven year cycle of some crazy-ass, Revelations-shit that would end with Jesus himself walking the Earth again and all us sinners shriveling into coal, or something like that. Orson Welles even narrated a doc about it; I shit you not. Lindsey's true genius, however, was in not mentioning a specific year this stuff was supposed to go down. Though it could be inferred he meant sometime in the late 80's, Lindsey's theological game of "I'm Not Touching You" has kept his finger in the face of fundamentalist nuts ever since.

If I wrote this as a pitch - old man learns Earth is about to be "recycled" and convinces three dozen people the only way to survive is to hitch a ride on the strange spaceship that flies concealed in the tail of a recently-discovered comet, but the only way to get on it is to transcend the physical form, a.k.a. dying - I'd gnaw my fucking hand off. Yet it's totally, completely, one-hundred percent what Marshall Applewhite was able to convince 39 sad and delusional people back in 1997, who all took their lives in matching leisurewear. Whether they made it aboard or not, we'll never know.

Alexander Scriabin was a 19th Century Russian composer of great renown. Towards the end of his life, however, Scriabin got strangely ambitious, dedicating most of his creative energies to a project he entitled Mysterium, intended to be performed in the foothills of the Himalayas in India and described by the man as such: "There will not be a single spectator. All will be participants. The work requires special people, special artists and a completely new culture. The cast of performers includes an orchestra, a large mixed choir, an instrument with visual effects, dancers, a procession, incense, and rhythmic textural articulation. The cathedral in which it will take place will not be of one single type of stone but will continually change with the atmosphere and motion of the Mysterium. This will be done with the aid of mists and lights, which will modify the architectural contours." Yep. Scriabin went on to say Mysterium would take seven days to perform, at the end of which, the world would fucking explode, presumably because of the symphony's incomparable awesomeness. (no joke, and if there's any honor among screenwriters, dibs dibs dibs dibs dibs) Fortunately for us - or unfortunately, depending on how much you dig music festivals -  Scriabin died before the project was close to completed.

So there you have it, a rogue's gallery of doomsday prophets come and gone. Add these to the, like, eight times over the past 200 years the Jehovah's Witness said we were kaput, and you can see just how commonplace the apocalypse is. 

So cheer up! But smoke 'em if you got 'em, cuz 2012's right around the corner, and that shit could be for real (unless of course you believe in this, in which case there's still time.)

observation notes: Halloween Night

This film is based on the same true story that inspired John Carpenter's slasher-classic Halloween: the story of a kid who witnesses the brutal murder of his mother, gets committed to an insane asylum, then escapes years later on Halloween night, no longer a kid, but instead a big, angry, murderous psycho, a hundred times worse than the creep who did in his mom. Evil is exponential, people; just sayin'.

So a tie-in of sorts, The Asylum's take involves a gang of nubile and beefy post-teens who find themselves one All Hallow's Eve as the intended targets of a homicidal psycho's reign of terror when they decide to throw a costumed bash in the psycho's old house. The requisite bloodshed and nudity ensues. And how!

A handful of Asylum old-school regulars appear in this one, including Erica Roby, Rebekah Kochan, Amanda Ward, Derek Osedach and Born Bad writer/director Jared Cohn; let's break these performances down one at a time:

Rebekah Kochan (Pirates of Treasure Island, When a Killer Calls) as female lead "Shannon" is equally sweet and sultry, straddling the line between victim and heroine like she was walking a tightrope in the circus. I like to think of her as Ashley Tisdale meets Brittany Snow, but with, you know, soul.

Erica Roby (Invasion of the Pod People, Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers) plays a libidinous, confidant lesbian seductress of some experience consumed with coaxing a comely newbie, played by Amanda Ward. It's a brave and bold performance for Ms. Roby, and all nudity and girl-on-girl smooches aside, it really is the best I've seen her perform: she's powerful here, brash and curt, unapologetically empowered, and it suits her. 

Ms. Ward (Legion of the Dead, King of the Lost World) as the above-mentioned comely newbie to lesbianism tackles her role with believable hesitancy, and even more believable eagerness.

Male lead Derek Osedach - an Asylum regular in front of the camera (Snakes on a Train, Pirates of Treasure Island, When a Killer Calls) and behind it (line producer on Pirates... and Dracula's Curse, second assistant director When a Killer Calls and Exorcism...) comes off a little scatterbrained and erratic, jumping in a little early on cues, but that may be his interpretation of the character and not a question of chops. To his credit, he does make the perfect too-cool-for-school dude you're dying to see...well...die.

And Jared Cohn (here billed as Jared Michaels)(Alien Abduction, Way of the Vampire) as rocker Daryll is appropriately cocksure, delightfully dopey, and gently aggressive, all while sporting a thoughtfully-nonchalant swagger and great hair. One would guess from his spirited performance that Mr. Cohn had a lot of fun with this role; I certainly had fun watching him.

Other cast standouts include Amelia Jackson-Gray, Nicholas Daly Clark, Sean Dury and Alicia Klein.

When all was said and killed, I found this film to be pretty faithful to both the root true story and the better-known cinematic version, right down to the white mask, though the killer's get-up here truthfully  reminded me more of Frankenstein from Deathrace 2000 than Michael Meyers. The script (penned by Michael Gingold - Leeches - from a story by David Michael Latt) was pretty elaborate for a straight-up slasher flick, with more twists than I was expecting. The kills were inventive, the pacing adequate, and the story had a classic feel to it; I was expecting a tangential tie-in, just an excuse to get a bunch of pretty young folk naked and killed, but this film retained it's timeless feel, though with modern murder sequences to satisfy the gorehounds. Halloween Night was directed - as usual with frightening deftness - by the great Mark Atkins.

I had a lot of fun watching this one, and the ensemble cast is one of the best I've seen from The Asylum. And if all the above isn't enough to convince you to see it, perhaps my final sentence, below, will:

By the way, the topless-lesbian-vs-serial-killer-punch-out scene is one of the most awesome things I've ever seen in a direct-to-DVD film. I'm serious - it's Hall of Fame shit.


Dig This Video with The Asylum at Cannes!

As all movie buffs are aware, Cannes 2011 is wrapping up, and you better believe the fine folks of The Asylum were there pitching the goods. A media outlet called Digital Spy sat down with two of the three head honchos - producers David Rimawi and Paul Bales - for a talk on all things Asylum. Besides getting a quick glimpse at the (unreleased) posters for Born Bad and Dragon Crusaders (and also posters for those somewhat dubious alleged SyFy projects Bigfoot and Zombie Apocalypse), the interview really gives one a sense of how much fun these guys have, and how much enthusiasm they have for the films they make. It's awesome. Check out the interview right here.

Two More Salem Cast Members Revealed

Now that production has wrapped on The Asylum's next horror film A Haunting in Salem - directed by Shane Van Dyke from a script I wrote - we're getting more details about who will be supporting the principle cast of Bill Oberst Jr., Courtney Abbiati, Jenna Stone and Nicholas Harsin. We already know the great Gerald Webb (Battle of Los Angeles, MSvC) will be playing Mayor Collins, and Carey Van Dyke (MPvG) will fill the role of Deputy Mike; now we can add two more names, in albeit smaller roles, but it's my firm believe - since, again, I wrote the script - that there are no small parts in A Haunting in Salem, just one with fewer lines. And screen time. Anyway...

First up is the lovely Catherine Lidstone (left) playing the role of "Sarah Good," about which I will divulge no spoilers. In addition to acting, Ms. Lidstone is also a singer/songwriter, and spent her college years at beautiful Middlebury College in Vermont. This will be Ms. Lidstone's first film, but as tremendous a film as A Haunting in Salem is going to be - think The Others meets Paranormal Activity with better camerawork and a more classical narrative approach, plus that extra dimension - no doubt this time next year she'll be a household name :)

And then there is Ashley Barron (right), another relative newcomer (she played "Pretty Girl" in Transylmania, which is kinda funny), who will be featured in the role of "Bystander." I can give a little spoiler on this one - sidewalk - but that's it. Again, as record-breaking a cinematic accomplishment as A Haunting in Salem is destined to be, I have every confidence that Ms. Barron's career trajectory just shot straight up (out? whichever way's good...).

Check out the work of these talented actresses, as well as the rest of the exemplary cast and the efforts of the greatest collection of filmmakers and crew members known to man when A Haunting in Salem drops on DVD August 23rd of this year. 

If you're feeling particularly antsy, pre-order the DVD or BLU-RAY on Amazon. It's 3D!!!

Asylum Should-Stars #8

Here at Committed, I'm always looking for ways to prolong my love affair with Asylum blogging. I've done inmate profiles - spotlights on Asylum personnel - and I've done pitches - shameless attempts to get hired in marketing/development - but now, I'm melding the best of these features into one, amalgamated column: the awkwardly-named Asylum Should-Stars, in which I present actors/actresses/other cultural figures I think would make lovely additions to the Asylum's stable of performers. More mindless fun to wile away your workday! Let's dive right in, shall we?

Name: Lee Majors

Best Known For: "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Fall Guy," Out Cold

Plays: Tough and gruff leading men, superhumanly stubborn plain-talkers with a dose of rural charm.

Could Be Cast As: Nowadays he could be the curt patriarch, or the old-school business tycoon/ government uppercrust. Give him a role as a high-ranking military commander in a sci-fi epic or creature feature, or flip it and give him a role as an esteemed fraternity elder or the hot chick's formidable father.

Name: Clare Carey

Best Known For: "Coach," "Weeds," Flu Bird Horror

Plays: Sexy/sassy girls next door, intelligent MILFS, sultry authority figures.

Could Be Cast As: Really any female lead; she's smart enough to play a scientist or doctor, coarse enough to play military, and hot enough to play the leading man's (capable) love interest/damsel in distress. Pick your genre with this lady: my instincts are should could handle all of it.

Name: Gabriel Macht

Best Known For: The Spirit

Plays:  Thus far kind of all over, but mostly your standard good-looking/troubled action hero: cops, vigilantes, etc.

Could Be Cast As: A whole range of rogue scientists/soldiers/small-town law enforcement facing unimaginable monsters/disasters/invading forced. This guy's a good actor who got shafted by the excesses of an unproven director and deserves a shot at B-movie legitimacy.

From The Asylum Library: Edgar Rice Burroughs

Every now and again, as is true of most motion picture studios, The Asylum will look toward the world of letters for inspiration. The public domain offers an array of spectacular, action-packed, thrilling, and - most importantly - free works ripe for the updating. In this occasional column, I'll take a look at the literary giants from which The Asylum has borrowed. Today, we look at the man responsible for two Asylum films to date, but perhaps he's best known as the creator of that crazy vine-swinging white dude in the jungle, Tarzan; Mr. Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Notice how the parrot"s mean-mugging the camera?
Mr. Burroughs, a native Chicagoan, was born ten years after the end of the Civil War to a retired Union Colonel and his wife. For the first part of his life it seemed E.R. was destined to follow in his father's footsteps, attending several military academies as a child and adolescent. But when it came time to take the entrance exam to West Point, old E.R. didn't cut the mustard, and failed the exam. This lead him to join the military as an enlisted man, but this too was to be a brief acceptance: shortly after, he was diagnosed with a heart condition that made him ineligible for service. So to the private sector E.R. was cast.

What followed were years of aimlessness and low-paying jobs, a passionless existence for E.R. but for the introduction and acquisition of one Emma Centennia Hulbert as his wife. 

But then one night, while working as a pencil sharpener - yep, that used to be a job - E.R. discovered the Pulp Magazines and their seedy little stories inside. Though not impressed with the material, E.R. was taken by how popular they were, giving him one of the greatest reasons ever for deciding to become a writer:

"...[I knew that] if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines."

Now, taken by itself, this is a pretty cocky statement. But when you realize that's exactly what old E.R. proceeded to do, it's kinda baller. 

Over the next 40 years, E.R. would write more than 80 novels and short stories, creating some of the finest and most-enduring literature of the 20th Century across a variety of genres: adventures series like "Tarzan," sci-fi series like the "John Carter" or "Pellucidar" novels, western and historical novels, etc. Along with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.R. Haggard, the man practically invented - certainly exemplified - the adventure novel. So influential was he, in fact, that there's a freaking crater on Mars named for the dude. A crater. On Mars.

As for E.R. and The Asylum, to date they have adapted two of his novels, both in 2009: Mark Atkins' adaptation of Princess of Mars (also the inspiration for James Cameron's Avatar as well as the upcoming John Carter of Mars, the live-action directorial debut of Andrew Stanton, writer/director of Finding Nemo and Wall-E), and the C. Thomas Howell-helmer The Land That Time Forgot

In regards to these films, or rather their source materials, there are sequels to both: there are 11 novels in the "Barsoom" series, of which Princess of Mars is the first, and The Land That Time Forgot is the first part of what Burroughs called his "Caspak Trilogy," followed therefore by two sequels, The People That Time Forgot and Out of Time's Abyss. So somebody get Antonio Sabato Jr. oiled up and lasso C. Thomas Howell back to the helm, cuz these are movies just waiting to be made, folks!

So much more than just the man who gave us Tarzan, the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs is thrilling in a way comparable novels written today can't be; they come with a sense of true exploration, the genuine wonder that comes from living in a world you can't entirely know, of there still being secrets to parts of your very planet - a foreign concept to most of us today.

Great for kids, thrilling still to adults, download you some free ERB today. God bless public domain!

Ballistica on DVD Today

That's right, for the second Tuesday in a row, there's a brand new Asylum movie waiting at your favorite video store/kiosk/queue: Ballistica starring Paul Logan, Martin Kove and Robert Davi.

I've already weighed in on this bad boy right here, but if you don't have the time to click through, here's my opinion in a nutshell: BADASS. Part political thriller, part action spectacle, Ballistica delivers on both fronts, and is well-worth a watch. 

So why are you still reading? Go! Go!

Your Chance for a Cameo Role in an Asylum Film

In what has got to be the coolest social media promotion in the history of such things, The Asylum is boldly offering a cameo role in an upcoming (as-yet-undetermined) film to the lucky soul who becomes their 1,000th Follower on Twitter. 

If you're not local to the L.A. area, seems you will have to provide your own transportation and lodging, but who cares? You'd be in an Asylum movie. I'd walk to L.A. and sleep under a bridge to get eaten by a two-headed shark or scream as an alien ray vaporizes my every molecule.

So tell everyone you know - friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, lovers, roommates, cabbies, waiters, drug dealers, total strangers - to help you win the role of a lifetime by following The Asylum on Twitter.

And if the 1,000th follower comes from reading this post, you owe me an exclusive on-set photo. Plus I'll profile ya!

Let the games begin right here.

Unique Mega Shark T-Shirt Opportunity

Marco Brunello, one of our fellow faithfully-committed and the biggest Asylum fan in Italy (if not mainland Europe), was inspired so much by the films of our favorite independent studio that he created a couple of minimalist poster designs for Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus and Almighty Thor.

The story goes that Asylum partner David Michael Latt was so taken by the design for MSvGO, that he asked Marco to make it into a t-shirt. So that's just what Marco did, and they're available to us, the general public, right here.

Marco runs an excellent Asylum fanblog called Going to the Asylum, and while Google Translator isn't the best, it's still a great read.

Support the Asylum's legion of worldwide fans and their dedicated creativity! Buy a t-shirt! Kudos to Marco on art well-made!


observation notes: Ballistica

Another week, another Asylum release; we should always be this lucky. This week it’s the action flick that’s been on The Asylum’s schedule since late last year, and now at last the release is upon us: ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ballistica.

So here’s the set-up: “Ballistica,”  it seems, is more than just a fancy title - it’s a hybrid form of martial arts combining weapons training and hand-to-hand combat; think tai-chi with guns. CIA Operative Damien (Paul Logan), is the world’s foremost practitioner of this new fighting style, making him our government’s best defense against terrorism all sizes. When that terrorism turns towards something called “genetic implosion” - it’s as bad as it sounds - they’re going to need all the defense they can get.

What follows is a film that’s part political-thriller, part action-spectacle, part martial-arts display, and even bit of good, old-fashioned hero-worship-turned-impromptu-romance.

Paul Logan as Damien brings the fierce, angrily-confident capability we expect of him, plus an extra, hearty dose of badass. Mega Piranha is probably the closest to an all-out action flick as I’ve seen him in, but this one is even more all-out, and this guy is a bona fide star. He’s got everything an action hero requires: grizzled good lucks, a gruff exterior over a genuinely righteous heart, a voice that could grate stone, amazing physicality and like, 0% body fat.

Martin Kove as Damien’s “handler,” I guess, plays it calmer than I’m used to seeing him, but no less intense, which is only a testament to the actor’s power no matter what the emotion. His embroidered vest, however, I could have done without.

Robert Davi as the liaison between the Ballistica program and governmental higher-ups is also more restrained than usual, a cool, calm and calculating administrator, quietly honorable. The scenes with these two together were like the B-movie equivalent of the diner scene in Heat, but, you know, an actual payoff.

Other cast standouts include C.B. Spencer as “Alexa,” the beautiful scientist who never realized the dangers of her research now aiding in its destruction, Andrew Divoff (”LOST”) as “Dragomir,” the evil Russian mastermind - a respected character actor with a long history of greatness, this guy’s an evil chameleon; you give him the villain, he’ll knock it out of the part. Here is no exception. Also notable, the lovely, formidable and probably quite dangerous stunt woman/actress Lauren Mary Kim as “Fang.” Think Nia Peeples meets Morena Baccarin with the disposition of Jason Statham.

I’m hard-pressed at the moment to think of another straight-up government-oriented action-thriller in The Asylum’s catalog (that isn’t tinged with sci-fi, horror or disaster elements) and I, for one, hope Ballistica isn’t the last. Direct-to-DVD action films are practically as common as direct-to-DVD horror films, and as such, are pretty hit-and-miss. But this was upscale in my book - smart, intense, action-packed - and there should be more like it. The FX were plausible, the action sequences well-choreographed, the story intriguing, all adding up to a slick spectacle that barely gives you time to blink, let alone breathe. 


The action movie has changed a lot over the last few decades, to the point that most all these days come heavily loaded with political rhetoric; we live in a “Bourne” world, just guns and bad guys alone aren’t going to cut it anymore, but too often these films come imbalanced one way or the other - either there’s too many explosions and no story, or it’s all story with only a few action sequences. Ballistica, for my money, does a nice job of striking this balance, filling the space between its action sequences with just enough explanatory exposition to satisfy our instinctual need for narrative continuity. Hats off to director Gary Jones and writers Tony Kandah and Sean Rourke for pulling it off. When you figure in great acting and taut action sequences, if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll be a fan of Ballistica.

inmate profile: Gary Jones

With the DVD release of The Asylum's next film, Ballistica less than a week away, I don't have a lot of time to spotlight the film's creative forces, so I have to move fast. Up first, the film's director, Gary Jones.

Jones began his career in Hollywood in Special Effects, and on some pretty, pretty, pretty awesome films: Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness and a certain bayou-centric JCVD film by the name of Hard Target, among others.

From FX Jones segued into second unit directing on a variety of iconic titles including "Xena," Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys and Man With The Screaming Brain.

Along the way, Jones threw his hat into almost every moviemaking ring there is: make-up effects, digital effect, camera operating, title designer, writing, producing, a little acting and, of course, directing.

Jones made his directorial debut in 1995 with the sci-fi creature feature Mosquito, starring Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ('74)),. What followed were a handful of episodes of "Xena" and "Hercules" then a barrage of awesome B-movie gems: Spiders with a story by Asylum-esque producer extraordinaire Boaz Davidson, Crocodile 2: Death Swamp with Ballistica's Martin Kove, The Asylum's own Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove, Planet Raptor with Steven Bauer, Vanessa Angel and Ted Raimi, Ghouls, Boogeyman 3 and now Ballistica, out on DVD Tuesday, May 17th.

EXCLUSIVE Photos from the set of A Haunting in Salem!!!

This is not an exclusive picture; this is stock footage.
Courtesy of the very kind and amiable Kala Guess, Distribution Coordinator of The Asylum, I have for you this evening some EXCLUSIVE, behind-the-scenes photos from the set of A Haunting in Salem, the latest Asylum horror film, shooting now in sunny Southern California. Ms. Guess took these photos herself this last weekend.

Before the photos - just a reminder A Haunting in Salem stars Bill Oberst Jr, Courtney Abbiati, Jenna Stone, Nicholas Harsin, Carey Van Dyke and Gerald Webb, and is directed by Shane Van Dyke (Titanic II, 6 Guns) from a script I wrote.

First up, we have actress Courtney Abbiati (right), who plays "Carrie" in the film, looking a lot like another cinematic Carrie, being covered in stage blood by Key Makeup Artist Valerie K. Garcia, (left) who also worked as a makeup artist on Shane Van Dyke's last film, Titanic II, as well as 2012 Supernova. She also has a pretty awesome acting resume, character-wise, including playing a "Slave Girl" in Mark Atkins' Princess of Mars, a "Goth Dancer" in Twilight Vamps (non-Asylum) and the guitarist in Mickey Dolenz's Mega Python vs Gatoroid band. All of those sound pretty rad. And as if this wasn't enough, she's also been a costume designer, a unit production manager, a line producer on Almighty Thor and the second second assistant director of 6 Guns. Jeez. By the time you finish reading this sentence, Valerie K. Garcia's probably done, like, a dozen productive things.

A close-up of Ms. Garcia's work on a very focused and frightening Ms. Abbitati, who I think resembles a more-badass Minnie Driver, with a little Famke Janssen around the eyes.

And yet another actor covered in stage blood - I wrote in a lot of blood, if you couldn't tell by now - this time Jenna Stone, who plays "Ali," the family's teenage daughter. We've already seen one picture of Miss Stone in even more stage blood,so I bet by comparison this wasn't so bad.

And finally there's this one, which is my absolute favorite, an nice in-production shot featuring, if I'm right, director Shane Van Dyke on the far right, facing the camera, actress Courtney Abbiati under the light and to the left of her, first assistant director Christopher Ray, who the night before celebrated the SyFy premiere of his directorial effort Almighty Thor, which was rad (on DVD today; get it!!!). I don't know who the gentleman to Ray's left is, but I like his beard. Kudos, sir!

And there you have it, a few snippets behind the scenes of an Asylum production, the thrilling and chilling (I'm working on my William Castle) A Haunting in Salem, set to premiere on DVD August 23rd of this year, only three months and thirteen days from now. And oh yeah - in 3D!!!

Almighty Thor Now on DVD!!!

It has arrived, my fellow faithfully-committed, the day that was foretold to us neigh these six months past, the day that the son of Odin walks on Earth to help save humankind from the treacherous, mischievous, maniacal plans of his brother Loki.

In other words, Almighty Thor, The Asylum's latest release, the one that premiered on SyFy this last Saturday night to hopefully awesome, record-breaking numbers, is now available to rent or own at hundreds of thousands of retailers countrywide.

As you may or may not know, I've already seen this one - did the old live-blog event on Saturday night - and I gotta tell you, the last few films from The Asylum - specifically Mega Python vs Gatoroid, Battle of Los Angeles, 200mph and now this - have really seemed to be raising the bar in terms of not only writing and visual effects, but also in regards to acting and overall presentation. This is a slick film here, adventurous and exciting, well-played on all fronts and tied together by the contagious dynamism of the film's lead, never-unknown-again Cody Deal. Richard Grieco is also smoldering, and Patricia Velasquez displays some real chops.

Another smash hit for director Christopher Ray (Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus) as well as writer Eric Forsberg (Mega Piranha), the latter of whom scored his second SyFy hit in as many years. Color me neon green with envy. 

So check it out, love it, tell your friends, make sure they check it out, mention the uzi if you have to, just make sure everyone on every friend list you have knows this one's out and ready to enjoy. Then, enjoy!

First Few Details on Dragon Crusaders!

This image has nothing to do w/ the movie, but it's what you get when you Google "man-dragon"

So over at The Asylum site today, they've just put up the page for the upcoming action epic Dragon Crusaders. And though only a few details have been released, they're good ones. 

Firstly, and best-ly, this film is, as I hoped it would be, written, directed and photographed by the great Mark Atkins (Battle of Los Angeles, Haunting of Winchester House and two previous Asylum dragon flicks, Merlin and the War of the Dragons and Dragonquest.). This has to have been the film he referenced working on in his EXCLUSIVE COMMITTED INTERVIEW back in February. Atkins has proven himself time and again a great director and writer, and as this seems to be a genre of particular fancy for him, expect awesome things. 

And then there's the synopsis: "A group of fugitive Knights Templar attacks a pirate ship and they are cursed to turn into hideous monsters. To fight the curse and ultimately save they world, they must defeat the wizard-dragon who is determined to destroy it."

Knights Templar? Fugitive Knights Templar? That are turned into monsters? That have to then defeat another man-monster, this one a wizard? Awesome, awesome, awesome and awesome. I'm already salivating over the visual effects.

Summer just got a little longer, because this one doesn't street until September 27 of this year.

creature feature: The Pony from Princess and the Pony

Not so much a "creature" in The Asylum's sense, as it is an "animal," the pony featured in our favorite studio's first full-out family flick is still one of god's "creatures," so thus he/she has earned a spot here.

And I'll be honest with you, there's not a lot of info on this particular horse out there, other than his/her name - her, I'm hoping - which is Twinkle. Nice name for a horse. 

That's really all there is on Twinkle. And believe me, I looked. But the sheer madness that comes from poring through Google returns on the phrases "princess and pony horse," "twinkle princess and pony," and perhaps most disturbingly, "twinkle pony asylum," is enough to make you puke cotton candy.

However, being the resourceful blogger I am, I guessed at the type of horse Little Miss Twinkle is, and found info on that. Ha!

So then, if my image-comparison skills are adequate, Twinkle is some sort of Arabian Horse, which Wikipedia is quick to note are distinguishable by their distinctive head shape and "high tail carriage." Awesome. Furthermore, Arabians are like the Adam & Eve of horses, one of the oldest breeds still in existence, dating back some 4,500 years (holy cow!) and an element in the bloodlines of every major racing breed in the world (insert your own horse/Da Vinci Code joke here; i couldn't think of one).

And here's an interesting tidbit: seems the height distinction between a pony and a horse (not an age distinction, as I naively assumed) as laid out by the United States Equestrian Foundation states that a "pony" is any equine that stands 58 inches (or 14.2 "hands" in the lingo) or less; a "horse" is any equine that stands above 58 inches (still 14.2 "hands"). Arabians, like Twinkle I think, range between 57 and 61 inches, meaning that while technically she'll classified as a horse, Twinkle could stay a real pony for all her life.

Little girls, rejoice!

(Worth mentioning that "all her life" is, on average, 25-30 years. Seemed a macabre statistic to throw in at the end of that last paragraph.)

And so there you have it, an in-depth look at, if not Twinkle specifically, then the type of breed Twinkle may been, in this Creature Feature that's really just about an animal. 

Some days around here you gotta stretch a little farther.