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Friday, July 27, 2012


Yes, Madeline is the sister of Isabelle Fuhrman!  She's such an amazing singer that I had to post her video "Kickstarter" and do my part to help her achieve a dream.  No, I don't normally post music videos on my website, but considering Madeline's talent and the cause, I thought I'd make an exception well worth making. She's trying to raise "TWENTY G'S" to make her first EP, and from the looks and sounds of her video, she's a talent worth supporting.  Watch Madeline's video below, and you'll see what I mean. I LOVE THIS SONG!

"From the streets of France to the Los Angeles music scene, join MADELINE as she creates a new sound sure to change the music industry."

"Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields."

If you'd like to donate to Madeline's dream, visit the "Kickstarter" website by clicking here!



Thursday, July 26, 2012


As I’ve said many times before, evil children scare the #&*% out of me!  There’s just something extra creepy about kids—having such innocent appearances—being the sources of malevolence, mayhem, and, in the worst cases, even murder.  Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), in Orphan, is more than among the most evil of children I’ve seen in a film; she is the most evil.

As for dreaded spoilers, they’re hard to avoid—especially with a movie like Orphan.  There’s always the trailers we’ve likely seen somewhere before the movie; there’s likely the comments we’ve heard from friends and the like, telling us about it long before we see it. Then, if that’s not enough, and if none of the latter ever happened, we have the cover of the DVD (or Bluray) box.  On it, there’s a girl, in pigtails, in shadow, with the darkened recesses of her eyes making her all the more menacing, even to the most trusting among us.  Around the girl’s neck is a curious ribbon covering something we’re not meant to see!  That, of course, makes it all the scarier; a ribbon around a neck often means that, without it, the child’s head will fall off! I know you’ve heard that story too.

Yes, before you ever see Orphan (the movie, that is), you’ll already know that something is far from normal about this girl, even if you don’t expect her head to fall off.  The title alone given to a horror film is enough from the start, for me.  No.  Wait just a minute!  I’m not saying that an orphan is necessarily an evil little monster—of course not.  However, logical connections are only too obvious sometimes—and here, for sure.  Even viewers “in the dark” so to speak, will see the light in regards to Esther, long before she evil ever lifts a finger to do her first evil thing.

In Orphan, we have Esther (now an icon of horror herself), played by the ever-talented Isabelle Fuhrman.  Child actors have the extra difficult job of acting well, because…well…because they’re children.  Let’s face it, children have chronologically less time to be trained and learn to be good actors, before it’s time to act; it’s just a fact.  So, it’s a wonder that they so often manage to act as well as some of the most seasoned and professional adults.  And yes, Isabelle Fuhrman is one seriously big wonder of a child actress!  At the age of 12, Isabelle nailed her part as an insane 9-year old (and something else I won't mention), with all the finesse and perfection that the best adults could deliver.  As a precocious and malevolent child, Fuhrman’s performance is matched by no other I know.  In scenes where Esther commits her evil deeds, Fuhrman gives the character a realism that is truly chilling.  Fuhrman's facial expressions and movements give Esther a look of determination and intention that makes this child monster all the more disturbing.  As a viewer, we believe that she means to do what she does with all the premeditated plans of an adult; we believe that Fuhrman is Esther.  Therein lies exactly the essence of the impact--an evil child acting just like an evil adult.  No, of course Isabelle Fuhrman herself is in no way like Esther, obviously.  However, Fuhrman's ability, especially as a child, to portray such a character with such realism is only proof of her superior skills as an actress at any age.  A scene where CCH Pounder is the recipient of Esther's wrath comes to mind very vividly at this point.

In a video I watched on Youtube, made by Fuhrman, she addresses a fan question related to the issue of portraying a child killer: "Was it weird having to pretend to kill people?"  Fuhrman answers the question in exactly the way I'd expect a professional to do so: "Not really, because once I became Esther, and I removed myself from the character, and it was just Esther, I held nothing just kind of came to me in the moment, as Esther."  (For those of you interested in hearing that from Isabelle Fuhrman herself, I've included the entire video below; the part I refer to begins at about the 3:40 mark and ends at 4:14.)  This is exactly the type of quality possessed by the best of actors; Fuhrman not only has it, but knows how to articulate it like a professional as well.

Topping off all of this professional perfection, and as an added bonus, is a Russian accent Fuhrman delivers that sounds as authentic as Russian accents really are.  In other words, it's a real Russian accent, with no acting or effort detected.  Very impressive, indeed!  Fuhrman’s performance alone measures ten rockets on the Space Jockey Meter, regardless of what the movie scores!

What makes Esther even more dangerous than your typical evil child is her significance in the family who adopts her and the power she has over them as a result.  The couple in the movie—Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard)—are vulnerable, suffering emotional devastation from the the stillborn death of their last child.  As if adoptive parents aren’t often vulnerable enough, the recent death of a child has added reason to be more so than usual.  Kate and John excuse Esther from continuing suspicion, often to the point of being unbelievable at times—that is until we remember their past and their desperation.

If you haven’t yet seen Orphan, I will only say that the ending will surprise you.  Right now, you’re probably saying “With all the predictability already mentioned, what could be surprising?  She’s an evil orphan who’ll do evil things!”  Again, to avoid spoiling anything, I’ll only add that whatever you may expect, will be short of what the film delivers in the end.  Trust me on that.

Orphan is rated R for “disturbing violent content, some sexuality and language.”  However, “Is it really that disturbing, violent, and sexual?” you ask.  Well, let me think about that a minute…YES!  (Please notice that the amount of time necessary for me to type three dots is far less than a minute—joke intended!)  Yes, Orphan is surprisingly all of those things—violent at times, disturbing lots of times, and even more sexual than one might expect.  It’s more sexual than expected, because the orphan herself is eventually part of the sexual nature of the film.  You’ll see what I mean in the end; I’m not about to tell you.  I’ll only say that it flirts with but never crosses the line for what is acceptable.  When you discover who Esther really is, it won’t be surprising at all.

As for violence, there’s plenty of that—again even more than you might expect.  The violence is often shown rather than implied, making it all the more—you guessed it—“disturbing” as well.  Does the violence include blood?”  Again, yes, and a fair amount of that too.  When a certain victim is hit in the head with a hammer, there is little left to the imagination.  Again, as for “disturbing”, need I remind you of more than this: the violence is being carried out by a child.  Case closed!  Don’t let the kids watch this one!

Back to acting, it’s impressive that much of the key acting in the film is done by children.  There’s the amazing performance of Isabelle who we’ve already talked about, there’s Jimmy Bennett as Daniel, and Aryana Engineer as Max.  Max plays the hearing-impaired daughter of Kate and John and Daniel is the somewhat jealous, preteen son.  Aryana and Jimmy match Isabelle’s energy and talent playing their parts, giving the whole movie a much greater authenticity than it could otherwise have achieved.  All in all, Orphan is a movie where the performance of the child actors could make or break it.  In Orphan, all children involved, easily succeeded in “making” it.

Vera Farmiga does an excellent job as Kate—the emotionally-damaged, recovering alcoholic, still haunted by the death of her last child.  Her performance, which requires much emotional acting, is very authentic and realistic.  Without her talent, Orphan could have fallen flat, even before Isabelle Furhman arrived as Esther.  Peter Sarsgaard (John), although annoying at times in his character, does an equally professional job of playing it.  As John, Peter plays the part of a husband we want to scream at and yell “Wake up, and listen to your wife!”  However, we have to remember that Peter is playing John as he’s meant to be played, and again, as so many such people really are—annoying as all *&^%, but really like that nonetheless!  Just playing the part of such a character deserves an extra rocket, as far as I’m concerned.  Kudos to Peter Sarsgaard for so well playing a part that likely annoyed him as well.

Oh, and don’t get me started about the part of Dr. Browning, played by Margo Martindale.  Margo is an excellent, veteran character actor who I always enjoy seeing.  She’s always believable, no matter what her role; I think I’d believe her if she played the part of an alien from outer space in this movie.  Margo has that sort of believability you’d feel talking to your own mother (or someone who you trust, hopefully also being your mother).  As Dr. Browning (and playing her part to perfection), Margo is actually more annoying than John.  “Why?” you ask.  It’s probably because she’s the professional character in the movie who we expect to save the day with some professional observation about Esther—but she doesn’t.  Instead, Dr. Browning is…well…I’ll let you see that for yourself too.  However, I’ll only add that Margo Martindale does another awesome job being believable, when we might want to believe otherwise.  Margo also gives personality to a character who might otherwise blend into the background.

CCH Pounder is another veteran character actor who always delivers a solid performance, often playing people you can trust and believe.  She does a great job of that in Orphan, as well as I’ve seen her do it elsewhere.  In Orphan, Pounder plays the ever-believable part of Sister Abigail—the sister in charge of the orphanage where Esther initially resides.  Like Margo Martindale, Pounder’s presence gives Orphan an even greater air of authenticity.  Not that the movie needs it, but Pounder helps to reinforce it nonetheless.  I have read that David Johnson wrote the part of Sister Abigail with CCH Pounder in mind; that is ever so obvious, as she’s perfect for the role.

I’ve heard other reviewers criticize the way that John is so unwilling to believe Kate, brushing off all of her concerns, thinking it all a part of her dysfunctional past and present.  My response is to again, ask why viewers so often want movie characters to do what’s logical, when people so often don’t do it in life?  How often have I had someone believe I did something I didn’t do, because of some preconceived (and dysfunctional) notion on their own part?  Too many times to count!  Based on what people often consider symptoms of a bad movie, I’ve often felt like I was living a bad movie.  But, unfortunately, it was reality!  So, for all of you who expect things to be logical, rather than the way they often are, I say wake up!  Reality is often stranger than the worst fiction!

Are there any problems with Orphan—plot holes, sundry ridiculous behaviors, and/or various unbelievable events?  I say no.  There were no moments in the movie that made me stop and wonder how the story got from here to there.  There were no moments when characters did something that made me say, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  There were no moments when something happened that couldn’t have been part of everyday, albeit extreme headlines.  This final quality is one that many such movies don’t have—despite all the extremes, Orphan stayed grounded, as a reality that could easily happen.

The only problem with Orphan is something that really isn’t a problem at all.  (Yes, I did seemingly contradict myself in the same sentence.)  You see, earlier, before you have all the facts about Esther, you may, with good reason, find some of what’s happening to be pushing the possibilities of what a child could do.  You might say “Now how could a child be so savvy as to conceive of such a thing?” or “What friggin’ planet did this child come from?”  Yes, you might just say such things and think there’s a problem, but never fear.  The end will come soon enough…and therein lies something I’m not going to tell you.  Yes, if you haven’t seen Orphan yet, now is the time.  If only to find out what I’m talking about, now is the time. :)

From this point, I could include an event by event analysis of all the evil things Esther does.  I could also tell you why Esther is insane, providing you with her complete psychological profile…but don’t count on it.  Besides, you wouldn’t really want me to do that anyway.  Evil things in horror movies are best left to be discovered; telling about Esther’s insanity would also spoil too much.  So I’ll leave it there.  Oh, and for those about to accuse me of spoiling too much already by saying Esther is evil and insane, hold on just a minute!  Remember the title, the DVD cover, and the fact that this is a horror movie!  We’ve already talked about that.  You’ve already been slapped in the face with that a long time ago!  Have fun!  :)

Orphan is on a short list of movies of its kind that delivers its payload, effectively and efficiently, with full force.   You’ll be hard pressed to find another orphan more evil than Esther; she’s one you’ll want to see but not adopt.  I highly recommend the movie, with no rockets in reserve!  Put Orphan on the launch pad today, and check it out!

Starring Isabelle Fuhrman, Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Margo Martindale, CCH Pounder, Jimmy Bennett, Aryana Engineer, Rosemary Dunsmore, Genelle Williams, and Karel Roden, Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Cinematography by Jeff Cutter, Editing by Timothy Alverson, Original Music by John Ottman, Story by Alex Mace, Screenplay by David Johnson, Casting by Ronnie Yeskel, Art Direction by Patrick Bannister and Pierre Perrault

Below, Isabelle Fuhrman explains how she dealt with portraying Esther as a killer. "Was it weird having to pretend to kill people?" Fuhrman's answer is as professional as you'd expect from someone as talented as her. It begins at about the 3:40 mark and ends at 4:14. Just slide that little time bar at the bottom to exactly wherever you want it. However, the video is so good that you might just want to watch the whole thing anyway.


ONLY IF YOU'VE ALREADY SEEN THE MOVIE (Notice I capitalized that!), and if you're interested in reminiscing through some of the brilliantly acted deeds of Esther, check out the video montage below. SPOILERS ARE EXCESSIVE! I normally don't include such things, but this was simply too good to exclude. It was put together by JillLovesChrisRE5 on Youtube, and it's called "The Dark Side of Esther". With guilty pleasure aplenty, enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2012


“When good people die and are reanimated into soulless brain eaters, there’s only one man who’s their best friend, and that’s Tony Mallone.”
You’ve heard of horse whisperers, dog whisperers, and I’m sure even a few others I haven’t heard of myself.  I once even consulted a snake whisperer, after some unruly behavior from a rather large pet snake I once owned.  Yes, and even I thought that was bizarre—just as you are, no doubt, thinking the same thing.  However, one thing I’m sure you’ve yet to hear about is a zombie whisperer.  Yes, you read that right—a zombie whisperer!  Possibly, in this case, stranger things have indeed not happened before.

Zombie Whisperer is a new reality-TV web series starring Matt Fowler as Tony Mallone—the tough but calm, streetwise soother of the restless undead.  Yes, if a brain-eating member of your family ever causes a problem (as if that wouldn’t happen), there’s no other man for the job.  Making your dangerous dead once again docile and domestic is just a call away.  No zombie is too undead for Tony!  I don’t know his number off hand; I misplaced in somewhere in all the excitement.  However, one thing’s for sure—it’s not a 555 number.  Tony Mollone plays his part for real!  I started to call this a mock-reality TV show, but, with all the zombie sightings lately who knows?

Episode 1 of Zombie Whisperer begins with a viewer warning: “Do not attempt the techniques you are about to see without consultin’ a professional!”  (Yes, the “g” in consulting is also ellipted in the text, exactly as the southern-accented narrator says it.)  After the show’s opening montage, Tony Mallone is introduced as “world-renowned expert and original creator of PETZ” (People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies).  Tony then approaches the front door of his next zombie owner in distress—Tammy (Lacy Hornick).  Tammy is a giddy, 20ish woman seemingly more enamored with meeting Tony than she is disturbed by her zombie problem.  However, in true professional form, Tony wants to “get right to it”—right to solving the zombie problem that is.  Bob (Kyle Duncan Graham) is Tammy’s pet zombie she found digging through her garbage one day, before taking him in as her pet.  Tammy has “a soft spot for zombies.”  Bob has since become “out of control”, causing, you guessed it, the need for Tony Mallone!  “You must become what you hope to control,” says Tony.

Speaking of the “zombie-digging through the garbage” detail, this is nice touch you may feel as well.  Some zombies it seems, except for the wild ones, have become domesticated like dogs, incapable of living on their own.  Instead of being self-sufficient brain eaters, they forage for food, also living off the refuse of people rather than the brains of the people themselves.  In the event that some domestic types regress to their stereotypic habits, again Tony Mallone is only a phone call away.  Tony can, no doubt, tame a completely wild zombie as well.  Yes, I have no doubt.

Although I care little for reality TV, I have a great love for mock-reality TV!  I guess you could say that I really love seeing something I don’t care much for mocked to the point of being humorous.  At least it then becomes useful for something.  The Zombie Whisperer is just the type of mock-reality TV that I love.  Everyone plays the part as seriously as you’d expect such a thing to be done in real life.  Out of control zombies would have their ironic share of humor anyway—once the novelty of it all wore off.  Yes, I think even household zombie problems might become old hat and halfway ignored soon enough.  “My zombie’s been acting up.  I may need to call a zombie whisperer next week.”  You know how people are.   So, as a humorous but true social statement (yes, there is some intelligent stuff here), Zombie Whisperer tells its story to make us think, while making us laugh at the same time.  However, since brains are always in short supply around zombies, you won’t have to think too much.

I’ve seen Matt Fowler in a number of other roles, and he always makes himself the character he plays 100%.  In Trespasser (also featured and reviewed on Space Jockey Reviews), Matt plays a psyco killer with all the eerie lack of emotion you’d expect to see.  Without a word said, he develops a potential “cardboard” presence into a memorable character, all in under five minutes!  In Zombie Whisperer, Matt does the same knock out job.  As Tony Mallone, and in true zombie-whispering form, he makes his larger than life character believable, in an unbelievable situation.  Matt plays it straight, serious, never-cracking a smile, even when lesser zombie whisperers might fall apart.  (Yes, you can tell I’m having fun with this.)  Yes, it takes a certain type of talent to pull off such a part, and Matt pulls it off without the need for a double tap…or double take, I should say!  (For the meaning of double-tapping, see the “Galactic Glossary” here on Space Jockey Reviews.)

Lacy Hornick (as Tammy) gets my award for the short film actress most qualified for a job on Saturday Night Live.  Lacy (who I have not seen previously) is an actress I’d really like to see again.  As I said, she does just the perfect sort of exaggerated, faux-serious character acting that helps make this episode of Zombie Whisperer work so well.  Playing this part too seriously wouldn’t have worked as well, but Lacy nails it, just as it’s needed.  Again, I will look for Lacy in the future; with such performances, I’m sure she’ll show up often.

What can I say about Kyle Duncan Graham as Bob the zombie?  Is he just another token, undead corpse in a very alive web series episode?  NO!  (Notice that I capitalized the “N” and the “O” in that answer.”)  In a series like Zombie Whisperer, a standout performance as a zombie is key.  Without a good zombie, such a show could fall flat.  No fear here!  Kyle (as Bob) is a zombie to remember, in as much as zombies can be remembered.  His zombie growls are as authentic as any I’ve heard; when he reaches out for you with those bloody, undead zombie hands, he means it!  Get out of the way, and cover your skullcap!  Yes, it would be easy for zombies to be forgotten altogether in such reviews; it happens all the time.  How often do zombies get credit where it’s due for their undead talents?  Rarely ever!  But here, in this review, Kyle Duncan Graham as Bob gets a special place to be remembered.  After all, zombies were once people too.

What is the zombie’s problem? How does the amazing Tony Mallone solve the problem?  Does anyone get killed in the process?  What is Tony Mallone’s “groundbreaking technique”?  Is Tammy a happy, satisfied customer in the end, who will recommend Tony to all her friends?  What happens to Bob the zombie?  Those are all really good questions; but, if I answered all of that, you wouldn’t have to watch Zombie Whisperer, would you?  No, you wouldn’t.  And I’d be the last to cause any zombie-loving watcher of such zombie shows to find cause to skip this one.  So, make sure to catch Zombie Whisperer on  Funny or Die a website that allows viewers to watch a feature show and then vote it “funny” or “die” (as in, I suppose, dying a very unfunny death.)  I am happy to report that I voted “funny” for The Zombie Whisperer.  After all, I guess it’s only appropriate that a zombie show doesn’t die.  That just wouldn’t be right!

The Zombie Whisperer is a new and (as you can already tell) very original web series.  It’s created by Matt Fowler and Kelsey Boutte and also directed by Matt Fowler.  Makeup and special effects are also done by Kelsey Boutte.  Without the need to mention it (although I will anyway), Matt Fowler and Kelsey Boutte have created a series that truly stands out in the lineup of other shows I’ve seen.  It gets my highest recommendations!

I actually liked Zombie Whisperer so much that I plan to feature episodes right here on Space Jockey Reviews.  New episodes will be posted when available.  However, you’re in luck!  The first episode I’ve reviewed here is posted below!  Tony Mallone himself (Matt Fowler, of course) informed me that the second episode (and possibly the third) will be filmed in the first week of September and available to the public by the third week.  In the meantime, check out the first episode below!  (Viewer discretion is advised!)  Oh, and if you have any zombie control problems, you know who to call—the name is Tony Mallone!
“Zombies in the wild are very dangerous. You have to show him that you’re the leader of the pack.” ~ Tony Mallone
Starring Matt Fowler, Lacy Hornick, and Kyle Duncan Graham, Series Narration by Justin Rupple, Directed by Matt Fowler, Assistant Director Megan Powers, Director of Photography Gennaro Desposito, Editor Gennaro Desposito, Production Sound Mixer Chris Ehling, Camera Operators Gennaro Desposito and Megan Powers, Special Effects by Kelsey Boutte and FXtive Creations, Produced by Kelsey, Boutte, Gennaro Desposito, and Matt Fowler, Production Assistants Chris Ehling and Melissa Newman, Produced for Apocolypse T.V. by Brooklyn West Productions,  With special thanks to Sal’s Hot Dogs and Squirrel Wrangling by Kimberly Desposito

Thursday, July 12, 2012

E.A. POE’S BERENICE – Part 1 of a Poe Trilogy Coming Soon!

“The eyes were lifeless, and lustreless, and seemingly pupilless, and I shrank involuntarily from 
their glassy stare to the contemplation of the thin and shrunken lips. They parted; and in a smile 
of peculiar meaning, the teeth of the changed Berenice disclosed themselves slowly to my view.” 
~ Edgar Allan Poe, Berenice

Fellow Poe fans out there, it’s time to break out the Champagne and party!  “Why?” you ask.  Well, there’s good reason.  A lesser-known tale of Poe has now been made as a short film–or as part of a series, I should say.  After watching the trailer, I am most excited about seeing the whole film.  “Which story is it?” you ask.  It’s “Berenice”, aptly called E.A. Poe’s Berenice.  It’s the first of three such Poe tales scheduled to make a trilogy; the other two in the works are “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillaldo”.  Can this get much better?  I doubt it!

For those of you (if I can find any) who don’t know Poe’s “Berenice”, let me be the “stately bird of yore” who informs you, while “beguiling all my sad soul into smiling.”  (Well, my soul isn’t really sad, but it’ll do for the time, for rhyme.)  “Berenice” is, without a doubt, one of Poe’s most violent tales.  According to its written form (not necessarily from the film form, as I have not seen it), it’s about a man named Egaeus who is preparing to marry his cousin Berenice.  (Sound familiar?)  Egaeus falls into periods of intense focus, obsessive compulsive behavior, and depression, during which all he sees or seems “is but a dream within a dream.”  (I just had to throw it in. :) )  Berenice begins to deteriorate from an unknown disease, with only her teeth remaining as the healthy parts of her body.  (What a terrible way to watch your loved one go!)

Even though I don’t know the exact course of the  film’s plot as compared to Poe’s, I should stop here for fear of revealing, or maybe stealing, the plot as it is, or as it’s not.  (Yes, I’m emulating a Poe-like rhyme “keeping time, time, in a sort of runic rhyme,” so bear with me.)  “A bit farther,” you say. Okay.  Egaeus begins to obsess over Berenice’s teeth, as the enduring image of his loved one.  (No, not her eye; that’s a different tale.)  One day, Egaeus wakes up from a period of “focus” with an uneasy feeling, and…and for fear of pulling the teeth right out of this future feature, I’m really stopping right here.  Yes, I’m really stopping, before I’m buried prematurely, walled up in a basement, or chopped into pieces and buried beneath the floorboards of an old house…by a man who’s fixated on my right eye, my teeth, and who knows what else!  Oh well, this could go on and on until I’ve “marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly.”  For now, this bird hath spoken–”this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore…Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”‘

E.A. Poe’s Berenice was written by Iwan Benneyworth, directed by Michael Stern, and produced by Visitor One Entertainment (formerly Mabus Productions).  It stars the beautiful Lauren Nicole Paige as Berenice and Faron Salisbury as Egaeus .  Also featured are Stephanie Ann Whited as Berenice’s mother, Jessica Moss as Annie, Catherine Goodrich as Little Berenice, and Toby Wherry as Dr. Cartwright. From the trailer (which is all I have to go by at this point), the acting looks solid, the production values look high, and, if that’s not enough, it also looks to be following the storyline of the original Poe penned himself.  For starters, that’s the type of good news we like to hear about anything Poe!  Only “the bells, bells, bells” may ultimately tell! “What a world of merriment” the movie foretells!  From the looks of everything, all the “bells” and whistles look firmly in place for this production!

Faron Salisbury (as Egaeus) and Lauren Nicole Paige (as Berenice) in E.A. Poe’s Berenice (Trust me; if this is anything like Poe’s version, this idyllic romance in the gazebo won’t last long!)
“Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before.”  ~ Edgar Allan Poe–of course!  No, it’s not a line from “Berenice”, but, certainly it is in the spirit of those demented, delusional thoughts and dreams that inspire us, as it seems, as “a dream within a dream.”  Most certainly, it works just as well for Berenice.

Okay, enough of all the classic Poe quotes mixed in with my totally fresh and original writing!  (wink, wink ;) )  Go ahead and watch the trailer for E.A. Poe’s Berenice; it’s surely enough to keep your “Tell-Tale” hearts beating, without entreating. If you’re like me, you’ll want to see all of this episode, and the other two as well!  In the meantime (yes, here I go again), “Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore…Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”‘

E.A. Poe’s Berenice has already won an award for Best Drama at Cape Fear and Best Thriller at the LA iTV Fest.  Mabus Productions is also currently talking with TV networks about the possibility of doing a miniseries. Episodes will be available to watch on iTunes and the like soon.  Stay tuned for more information!

* Quoted excerpts above were borrowed from “The Raven”, “The Bells”, and, of course, Berenice–works by none other than the obvious master of the macabre and father of detective fiction, Edgar Allan Poe. Credit is hereby given where credit is due. :) 

Check out the official website for E.A.Poe’s Berenice at
For more about director Michael Stern, visit his page on
See Lauren Nicole Paige’s official website at
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012


“Once upon a time, there was an old woman who lived in a lonely cottage” in the country?  Yes, of course, it was the country.  Or, was it really a house in the city?  According the Brothers Grimm, it surely was a cottage, most idyllic and unlike the urban home in Rose White.  Or, once again, depending on the perspective we chose, I suppose it could be either.

That is exactly the unique perspective taken by Rose White—the new film from director Daniel Kuhlman.  From the beginning narration, Rose White is told, basically, as “Snow-White and Rose-Red” from the Brothers Grimm.  The story soon connects loosely to the original we know, adding a fresh, modern story along the way.  In Rose White, the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred and events are interchangeable—fantasy seems real at times, while reality seems fantasy at others.  Elements of surrealism give the movie a fairy-tale feel throughout.  The combination creates what is easily a new film classic, taking a respectable place as a fairy tale itself.

“What’s it about?” you ask.  Well, I’ll just say, without spoiling such a wonderful film, that it’s like the original fairy tale, here and there, with loads of original material added to make it an all new experience.  Alliances are made, bonds of friendship and love are formed, and people do all manner of bad things that people often do.  However, whatever you do, don’t dismiss this one thinking you already know the story.  Trust me!  You don’t!

In Rose White, there are many parallels to the Brothers Grimm version, just as there are many differences.   As in the original fairy tale, there’s an elder sister (Erin Breen) and a younger sister (Deneen Melody)—Rosalyn and Lilly.  Also included are human counterparts for a bear (Daniel Kuhlman), and a dwarf—a rather nasty little dwarf I should add—not unlike his parallel in the Grimm version.  One difference is a clever twist with his name; in Rose White, the would-be dwarf is appropriately called Little Man.  There’s also a human referred to, in narration, as The Wolf (Anthony Fleming III), who is not in the original tale we know; he's complete with his own pack of other wolves—or, in this case, henchmen.  Add to that a pack of prostitutes that, while necessary in Rose White, have no parallel in the original—of course!  Oh, and is there a fairy tale prince?  It's a nice thought, but I'll never tell.

Yes, of course, there are no prostitutes, drug addicts, drug dealers, insane characters, or delusions of fantasies in the original; but, that’s what makes Rose White so unique, dark, and truly original itself.  It is exactly those elements that make Rose White such a gem of modern story telling—a true fairy tale for the times.  It’s tough, down-to-earth, and just as gritty, visceral, and real as real life is.  Rather than bears, dwarves, and possible princes, we have crime bosses, drug dealers, and prostitutes.  Even the Brother's Grimm might write about such things, if they lived today.

The gritty, visceral realism is just what makes Rose White a fantasy thriller that also crosses over into the category that I call real-world horror.  It’s horrific, not because of supernatural monsters, demons, and the like, but instead because it is often a part of the real world we live in.  So, in that sense, Rose White is also a horror story for the times—one without real people turned into bears by dwarves, but one with real people turned into things arguably even worse.  Yes, Rose White is a fairy tale with no happy ending in the real world; but does it, perhaps, give us a sense of deliverance and happiness in another world?  Does it, maybe, give us that feeling we want in the end, despite all else?  I’ll never tell.

Deneen Melody is an actress with more unique looks than any actress I’ve ever seen—anywhere!  I’ve watched her play all character types, with truly diverse appearances, in a variety of other performances.  In Crestfallen, Deneen played a jilted, suicidal woman who had to show much emotion with her face and body language, because the movie had no dialogue.  In Rose White, Deneen plays a young woman in a movie with dialogue, but almost no speaking time for her character.  Once again, Deneen does this with perfection.  Yes, even with few words to say, Deneen stands out and captivates us with a childlike innocence needed for the part.  In her role as the mute and delusional younger sister, Deneen is a girl who lives life as a fairy tale, in her own mind, to protect herself from a painful reality.  She shows emotions that make us believe she is experiencing what she faces in the film.  This viewer, for one, could hear countless words of dialogue from the expressions on Deneen's face alone—begging, pensive, and wishful looks, along with later expressions of peace, solace, and happiness.  Deneen’s movements are cautious and reluctant to fit a mood in one scene, while lilting, graceful, and flowing in others, just as one would expect from a fairy tale princess.  Deneen becomes the character she portrays, absorbing herself in the necessary reality, as a metaphor to her own part in Rose White.  With or without words to say, Deneen’s talent as an actress speaks clearly here as well as ever!  Kudos to Deneen Melody for a beautiful performance…again!

I often say that the best actors are those that make me forget they're acting.  Erin Breen is an actress who does that every time, no matter where I see her.  She delivers a knock out performance in Rose White, as well as ever.  The force and impact of Erin’s character (Rosalyn) as she plays it, is simply awesome to watch. She commands her part, like the true professional she is, giving the elder sister just the extra punch we expect.  Erin’s character calls for one who’s tough, streetwise, and stronger than her sister, while still being sexy, graceful, and even vulnerable.  She nails this character like she was born to play it, absorbing herself in her role, making us believe she is Rosalyn!  Whether playing a prostitute (as Rosalyn) or a fairy tale damsel, Erin has the range of a true professional, and it shows every bit in her performanceIn Rose White, her expressions are always just right to convey the emotion of the moment, letting the viewer know exactly what Rosalyn is thinking, feeling, or fearing.  Here, I'll adapt a fitting cliche to most appropriately describe Erin—her face is surely worth more than the proverbial "thousand words."  I truly enjoyed watching her performance!  Oh, and the brush of the rose petal across the lips...just perfect, Erin!

Daniel Kuhlman—the director—also plays the part of The Bear.  As the character requires, and true to the Grimm Brothers tale, Kuhlman is friendly and helpful, claiming to be out for the best, while still having the potential to be dangerous; but, unlike in the Grimm version, this bear is not so selfless in his methods, relying more on plan than coincidence.  Kuhlman plays his part low key at times, and forceful at others, all the more effectively as a result.  There is a certain uncomfortable feeling we get watching his quiet assertions and calm demeanor juxtaposed with what we suspect—carnal, selfish motives, ready to spring forth in a moment.  Yes, watch for a lustful glance at the elder sister at an unexpected moment, and you’ll know what I mean; a very nice touch, it was!  Yes, Kuhlman plays his part in much the same way that a bear might behave, making us all the more cautious as we watch him and try to trust him.  Kuhlman’s character, as well as the others in Rose White, reminds us of what a true fairy tale is, and the lessons it tries to teach us—don’t get too comfortable with that wolf (or as it is here, that bear) in sheep’s clothing!  He might just kill you someday!

Speaking of a wolf, Anthony Fleming III plays The Wolf in Rose White; his screen time is limited but powerful, leaving just the indelible effect that’s needed for a street-wise drug dealer.  Anthony’s delivery of his few lines alone efficiently develops a character that we know, because it is otherwise a stereotype.  Here however, Anthony as The Wolf is no stereotype; he is original and unique, making him one to remember.

Last but not least is Tom Lodewyck as Little Man—another character whose counterpart appears in the Grimm version, but not in the form or character depicted in Rose White.  Yes, Tom Lodewyck as Little Man is much like the original fairy tale dwarf villain we’d expect, even much worse—and I don’t mean the Disney type singing “Hi, ho, it’s off to work we go.”  This guy’s work (if you can call it that) is as despicable as is his character, and Tom Lodewyck plays the part to make us dislike him appropriately.  His part as the local crime boss is not the worst of what he does!  Tom’s not in the movie a lot; but when he’s there, he makes his presence known with his power to make us despise his character.  I guess you could call that great use of limited time on screen.

Rose White was written and directed by Daniel Kuhlman, co-directed by Brian Kilborn, and produced by Daniel Kuhlman, Deneen Melody and Anthony Sumner. The story was developed by Deneen Melody and, of course, based on “Snow-White and Rose-Red” by the Brothers Grimm.  The whole team of directors, producers, writers, and actors has created a must-see film for modern audiences, as much as for audiences of any time to come.  With the cinematography alone, Rose White is a work of art in motion—a poem animated, painting its metaphors vividly for all to see.  In one of many scenes to remember, Lilly steps out of her dark home in the city, into a beautiful forest with sprites in flight, sunlight, and fairies abound.  The transition occurs flawlessly, just as Lilly's foot touches the ground, moving things from reality to fantasy, or perhaps the other way around.  For this scene and many more of the kind, Rose White is a movie not to miss.  I highly recommend it!

No praise for Rose White would be complete without mentioning the original music by Matt Novack.  His score for the movie is haunting and foreboding, yet magical and ethereal, elevating the story beyond its limits, to a higher level.  Novack’s music reminds us that it’s reality, while at times convincing us that it’s a fairy tale.  His music flows, with transitions in the movie, in and out of reality—or, at least, reality as it is perceived.  Novack's score creates the perfect duality of effects, working flawlessly with the movie’s fairy tale/reality theme.  It's actually a soundtrack I'll be looking for!

Speaking of fairy tale themes, the voice over narration (done by Deneen Melody) is the icing on the cake!  This gives the viewer the sense of being told a story, rather than just watching a movie.  Fairy tales are classically told, and, as Melody reads, a sense of fantasy is felt.  What's perfect is that the story is told just like a real fairy tale, using such words as "once upon a time" and the like.  The language, in general, sounds straight from any volume of Grimm's collected works, although we know it's not.  Again, without this, Rose White could not be the success that it is.

For me, in the end, there was a most impressive and poetic metaphor relating to the bonds formed between Lilly and Rosalyn.  You won’t see it until the end, but when you do, there’ll be no way to miss it.  I wish I could tell you more, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending of such a beautiful film.  Let’s just say that, while messy, it ties things up (or bonds them together) most literally and figuratively.

Rose White is about reality and what it really is; is it what we experience and believe to be objective?  Or is reality, perhaps, just as much what we see, feel, hear, and sense as real in our own mind.  Rose White is about how physical manifestations of the imagination and human bonds create anything but something imagined.  It’s about how real life can, indeed, be the most horrific fairy tale you’ll ever know.  However again, happiness, as imagined, is maybe all that matters.

“…and when the elder would say, ‘We will not leave each other,’ the younger would answer, ‘Never so long as we live.’” ~ The Younger, Rose White
Starring Erin Breen, Deneen Melody, Daniel Kuhlman, Tom Lodewyck, Anthony Fleming III, Celeste Williams, Valerie Meachum, Sean Bolger, David Goodloe, Thurston Hill, Sheri Savage, Marla Seidell, Stephanie Andrews, Jay DeLaRosa, Anne Marie Boska, and Brooke Lodewyck, Written and Directed by Daniel Kuhlman, Co-Directed by Brian Kilborn, Cinematography by Jeremy Kuhlman, Original Music by Matt Novack, Story by Deneen Melody (Based on "Snow-White and Rose-Red" by The Brothers Grimm) Produced by Breakwall Pictures in association with TinyCore Pictures For information about Breakwall Pictures, click here!