Scary Horror Writer to Scary Horror… Wrestler?

WWE Logos 2

No, I’m not becoming a wrestler. For that to happen, I would have to go back in time many, many years, and essentially alter everything about my physical appearance. After that? Well, no. I still wouldn’t make it because of that tiny problem with my complete lack of skill.

On to brighter news, I just wanted to throw out an update to those of you that follow this site for various horror blather. This weirdo horror writer is currently working with a completely different type of company that values a completely different kind of insanity. Yes, I’m talking about the WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment for those of you living under a rock that lives under a bigger rock.

I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was a kid. It’s something that has always been in my heart and soul. I still remember my Saturday mornings watching Junkyard Dog and Koko B. Ware do battle. Epic. For me, this truly is a childhood dream come true.

Besides saying that I’m working in a creative capability, I’m not going to talk about anything specific, and I never will. That’s not what this is about. I value the company’s complete discretion, and to be honest, I value my own job security as well. But I did want to at least let you know what this horror nut has been up to, mainly because I’m really awful at updating this blog. I write in it so seldom lately that I’m feeling reverse abandonment issues (is that a thing?)

When I come up for air, I’ll do my best to keep additional updates coming. There are some verrrrrry interesting things going on with a few of my other projects that I can’t wait to talk about as well.

Until then, I promise I will do my absolute best to incorporate as much horror into the WWE as I can. Which will probably be none, because it’s a family show. But I will still try.

 


The Social Experiment of Leaving Facebook for a Month…

find-us-on-facebook-logo-vector

On November 5, 2015, I closed my Facebook account.

On December 7, 2015, I reopened it.

For just over one month I shut myself out from Facebook. Actually, it wasn’t just Facebook, but all social media — Twitter, Instagram, et al. For many of you, this is no big deal. You’re probably rolling your eyes and saying, “whoopty doo, good for you.” And yet, what you don’t understand is how HUGE of a step this was for me. For all of its issues and frustrations, I LOVE Facebook. Way more than I should. Although, it’s easily explainable why I have such a relationship with that behemoth of a website.

A writer’s life is solitary. Waaaaay more solitary than most people think. I spend so many hours by myself behind a computer screen, my mental image of myself is sometimes a long-bearded hermit with jagged uncut fingernails and permanent grime from years past when I last ventured outside. I totally forgot that it’s supposed to be “weird” to speak out loud to oneself. Hell, I’ve been doing it for years. Full conversations. Both sides. I don’t care. And because of all this, Facebook became the tiny window on my computer that made me realize I wasn’t so alone. I don’t usually peruse it on my phone, I use it at my solitary desk. It keeps me in contact with my family around the country. It keeps me in contact with my friends from Utah. And believe it or not, it’s an insanely good tool for work, staying in contact with colleagues and producers all around town. In essence, Facebook is more valuable to me than the average joe. And yet, I stepped away. Voluntarily.

Why did I do it? A million reasons really, but to put it quite simply, I had to. I just had to. The end. Regardless what my reasons were for closing my account and shutting off for a month, that’s not what’s actually interesting. Everyone has their reasons. What is interesting, is how quickly I discovered that I was suddenly involved in my own social experiment. I noticed the effect immediately and decided to try and log into my brain as many of the curious situations I noticed. Here are many things I observed along the way, both large and small.

  • As soon as I closed my account, as soon as I hit that magical “deactivate” button, I was filled with fear. Dread. What the hell did I just do? I was actually surprised how powerful it felt. I was really taken aback by that. It went to show exactly how connected to it I truly was.
  • Moments later, the next thing I was curious about was what was going to happen next. Was I going to truly miss it so much that I couldn’t help myself and re-activate my account before the end of the first day? Or would it be one of those things where once I walked away, I wouldn’t miss it one bit and my life would return exactly to how it was before Facebook was invented. I honestly didn’t know which one it was going to be. This was truly the moment where I realized I was in my own social experiment, and that I had no idea of the outcome. Well, I am as surprised as you are to say… it was the latter.
  • As quickly as that dread of leaving Facebook filled me initially, strange flooding feelings of release came soon after. It washed over me like a Vicodin waterfall. Calmness. Escape. This was the next moment where I realized this was going to be one hell of a month.
  • I didn’t really tell anyone (outside of a single minor Twitter message) that I was closing my account. I didn’t make a big deal out of it to get attention or anything like that. It wasn’t a cry for help. In fact, I wanted the complete opposite. I just wanted to silently disappear. Most people probably didn’t even notice I left, which was my intention. But for those that did, while I thought this was the better route to go, this had its own set of problems.
  • One of those problems was that I discovered many people immediately thought I unfriended them. Some would be a bit terse with me, others a bit weirded out wondering if they “did something” to piss me off. At different times, texts, emails, or conversations would tritely ask if/why I “let them go.” This was a weird thing for me because of the people that talked to me about it, I’m sure there were some others that didn’t say anything, but were harboring anger toward me. Facebook is such the norm now that if you choose to leave it… something obviously happened. Crazy.
  • As the weeks went on, I surprisingly found myself not even thinking about Facebook at all. This was amazing. I didn’t feel like I lost connection, in fact the opposite. It suddenly felt like there were no anchors weighing me down at all. I was more productive in my work, that’s for sure. My mental status was more focused. Instead of getting sidetracked by what’s going on in Facebook-land, I just kept working. That was a HUGE plus. So far, so good. It was around now that I thought, maybe I’ll leave Facebook forever.
  • I grew to LOVE my anonymity. For years everything had to be posted. I’m eating HERE. I’m visiting HERE. I’m seeing THIS MOVIE. I’m at THIS CONCERT. I’m not badmouthing it. I was part of it too. Why wouldn’t I? It’s part of why social media exists — to share experiences. But alas, now it was more fun to be able to do anything I wanted and not feel the need to let anyone know where I was or what I was doing. I was like a ghost in the machine. And it felt so cool. It almost felt rebellious since it was so opposite the norm (as bizarre as that sounds). Regardless of rejoining Facebook, this is a trend I’m going to try to continue (but granted, will probably fail).
  • Another plus that should go without saying, is that I didn’t have to be inundated with countless “opinions” at all times. This is part of that aforementioned anchor I was talking about. Whether I agree or disagree with the opinions, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I just don’t care. It is constant. We live in a world of nonstop opinions, and sometimes it’s just exhausting. Trust me, I’m not immune. I’m a VERY opinionated person, as I personally think all people should be. But sometimes it’s all just too much. It was nice to take a break from all this noise. It’s amazing how not reading the endless amount of political views just lets you breathe deeper.
  • Plus, I went to regular news sites to get my info instead of relying solely on Facebook to let me know what’s going on in the world. This was a fascinating one because I actually got the news first, and could draw my own opinion. Instead of getting my news on Facebook, which is normally seeing someone’s opinion FIRST, then seeing the news story. You have no idea how much of a difference that makes. It’s a clean slate. In movie terms it’s like seeing a film without any knowledge about it, any trailers, or any reviews. It’s amazing to see how your own initial opinion sits first, without anyone leaning you a direction ahead of time. Try it sometime. I think you’ll be amazed to see how your own opinion can be swayed before you even read a story, whether you realize it or not.
  • Also, as far as news relates, there was one instance where the lack of Facebook and social media was truly powerful. The Paris terrorist attacks happened during my hiatus. In the past, during horrific events like this, you turn to social media for news much of the time. But this time I didn’t. It was shocking how different it was. On social media 90% of the posts are not about the event itself, but rather people’s own posts about their own personal relation to the event. The posts are usually either how they’re feeling about the event, or a story about how they themselves connect to the event. It’s amazing how the news is so much clearer without all this additional hubbub. I connected far more to the actual victims of the atrocities without other people trying to insert themselves into the mix undeservedly. *For those of you so inclined, watch Anthony Jeselnik’s amazing take on this similar subject on his new Netflix special. He sums it up perfectly.
  • And yet after a few weeks, things started to turn on me. While there are numerous pros to deleting yourself from the social media universe, there are also many cons I discovered. Some were surprising. For instance, many times when I was with any of my friends, they would start talking about something without any pretext at all. Something like, “I’m really worried about so-and-so,” or “I still can’t believe so-and-so said that.” Then following my confusion, they would have to back up and say something like, “Oh, I forgot you’re not on Facebook…” And they would start over and continue with the story as if I had a learning disability. It was so utterly frustrating to constantly be seen as the outsider in all information. And in addition, treated like a second-class citizen.
  • I also discovered that I pretty much rely 100% percent on remembering birthdays due to Facebook. It didn’t used to be this way, but it is now. It’s like when we all used to have to actually memorize phone numbers because we didn’t have cell phones. But once cells existed and we just went to our Contact list, phone number memorization became a thing of the past. I forgot many birthdays during this month, and I apologize to all those. Um, happy belated?
  • I LOVE Scrabble and Words With Friends. I play them constantly. But I discovered that Scrabble can only be played with a Facebook account! What the hell? It says you can use something called an Origin account, but it never worked once. I even looked online and discovered that yep, Origin doesn’t work, and only Facebook users can play each other. This sucked. My stats went down because I had to forfeit my games, and I lost doing something I loved. Saying this, my Words With Friends playing went way up because they don’t require a Facebook account to play. TAKE NOTE, SCRABBLE! You jerks.
  • Adding to the above statement, it wasn’t just Scrabble. I was shocked to discover how many sites require a Facebook account to log in now. This was insane to me. Facebook has cemented itself into the business/tech world so much more than we even realize.
  • Another situation that worked as a con was whenever an invite was concerned. Almost everyone I know only does invites on Facebook now. I missed out on even knowing about a lot of screenings, or work schmoozefests because of not being on Facebook. A key example is my monthly horror trivia group. Sign ups and all info are solely done through Facebook. Not only did I miss out this month, but I didn’t even know it was happening until too late.
  • And talking about work stuff for me, this was another huge con. I missed out on a LOT of work scenarios. In my career where a lot of work is cultivated through relationships and constant connection, to eliminate myself from this was not a sensible move work-wise. After meetings, people usually look you up online to get more of a gage of who you are. Once they noticed I wasn’t on there, there’s immediately a check mark against you. Doesn’t really make sense, but it’s the universe now. Plus, I had friends that announced huge projects that I didn’t even know about. Not only does this make me look like a dick because I didn’t congratulate them on their successes, but being out of the loop in my career is not a good thing. So dammit Facebook, it appears for work, you are necessary. My want of leaving Facebook forever was diminishing.
  • And finally, there were two scenarios that brought it all home as to why I needed to get back on Facebook. And they were both personal ones. First, following the horrific shootings in San Bernadino, my daughter’s elementary school received an anonymous shooting threat. Yep, it was terrifying. A recorded voice called into the school and made specific threats. Bedlam soon followed as you’d expect, lack of information ran rampant, and it was nutty to say the least. But guess what? I didn’t know about any of it. Not until much later, that is. Because where was all this posted first? Facebook. Parents were discussing in groups, and whenever there was any information it was being shared for everyone to see. Everyone… but me. Mr. Non-Facebook Loser. Yes, there were phone calls, and mass email chains that followed, but it was all much later after the fact. Facebook was where all the info was shared hours before. In a situation like this, hours are golden. And I can’t risk losing those hours ever again.
  • And the second scenario that cemented to me how important Facebook is, was learning much later about the sickness, and eventual death of a friend. It all happened very quickly over the month I was gone. And yet I knew nothing about it until a mutual friend told me yesterday. I was floored to say the least. When I went back and looked at her last month of posts while I was gone, she had many messages about being in the hospital, feeling “yucky,” and posted many inspirational quotes about her obvious dilemma. It kills me that I couldn’t have even posted one little “thinking of you” message to her. I know how dumb it may seem to get those messages, but occasionally those little messages can add up. Think about how it feels when you see an outpouring on your birthday. Now amplify that to someone fighting a life-threatening situation. Damn, this got real heavy, real quick. Okay Facebook. I see your worth now.

There are probably a million more thoughts and observations that I have forgotten, but I’ll have to leave it here for now or else this will turn into a damn novel. Regardless, as of this morning I have now returned to Facebook. I admit I was filled with fear once again reactivating my account. Another strange feeling I wasn’t expecting. I grew to love being away from it, but I knew this was necessary. I learned a lot during my month+ away from it. It is filled with pros and cons, but my conclusion is that while you may WANT to leave Facebook, because it really does feel amazing, in today’s day and age you simply can’t. It’s unavoidable. It’s like deciding to live in the woods without electricity. It sounds nice, but the reality of it is just outdated. We need to be on social media now. We need Facebook now. It is the world we live in, and it is continually defining our culture. Whether you like it or not, it’s necessary.

But… what can be done is to learn how to use Facebook at more of a normal level. As with anything, Facebook can be overdone. I don’t have to preach this to anyone. Everyone knows it. But it’s up to ourselves to realize when this is happening and try and change it. I saw this whole scenario like a juice cleanse. Sure, you will NEVER keep off the weight you lose or keep up the cleanse forever, but it does help teach you how to balance it all out a little. That’s what this experiment will hopefully do for me. I can’t keep away from Facebook forever, but it has taught me how to keep it all in balance. Sometimes every person needs a cleanse in some way, shape, or form. This was mine. And it helped teach me so damn much.

Now, to let this all sink in with a final irony, yes, I’m completely aware that most of you probably learned about this blog post from a link on Facebook. Like I said… it’s necessary.

You win Facebook. You win.

 


10/31/15 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #31 – The Evil Dead (1981).

Evil Dead

And today’s Halloween pick is the other one of those “save the special ones for Halloween every year” picks. I told you I couldn’t decide between two films, so I was ending the year on two no-brainers. Yesterday I gave you the incomparable classic Night of the Living Dead (1968). Today, I give you the pivotal horror game-changer, The Evil Dead. It felt apropos, since the Starz series, Ash Vs. Evil Dead premieres tonight (so much yes.) Soooooo many horror freaks my age have this movie, and it’s incredible sequel, to thank for steering us in the direction we did. True story, when I was in high school and I heard the tales of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell putting cameras on 2×4’s and big wheels and just running around like idiots making this thing for almost no money, I immediately thought, “I want to do that with my life.” I wanted to make low budget horror movies. Like many of us out here, for better or for worse, we have Sam Raimi to thank for our careers in horror. Ever since that epiphany, I have had an original Evil Dead poster framed next to my writing desk ever since college. It hangs in my office right next to me as I type this. It’s a very important film for me. I was lucky enough to go to an incredible event at Beyondfest this year where I got to see the original Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 projected on the big screen surrounded by a million of my fellow Evil Dead fanatics. The best part was that between the films, both Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi held a Q&A session with Edgar Wright and just talked about the making of the movies for almost 90 minutes. It was my absolute HEAVEN. Heaven, I tell you. Hearing their stories from the trenches only cemented why I’ve had such an obsession with these films from an early age. They were run-and-gun, low-budget, horror movies that relied on unique visuals, aggressive bizarre effects (think Tim Burton-esque, but a LOT more disgusting), and the centerpiece of Bruce Campbell to hold it all together. The story is the tried and true classic. Group of friends go to a cabin in the woods. There they find an ancient book (the Necronomicon!), and some recordings from a scholar, and accidentally release demons that will “swallow your soul!” From there you’ve friends that suddenly want to kill you, possessed grannies in the cellar, and even trees that, um, want to have sexy-time with you. It’s bonkers. Purely bonkers. And amazing. Every frame of The Evil Dead holds your eyes and your imaginations. Whether it’s upside down, zooming around at a frantic speed, spinning around, it’s always alive. And that’s what this film is to me – alive. This is why Sam Raimi is such a genius. He just found a new way of doing things. Everything feels fresh. Everything feels new. And like I said, everything just feels alive. It’s a horror masterpiece for a reason. If you want to see one film that truly feels alive in every sense of the word, watch The Evil Dead and realize why so many of us hold it in such a high regard.

That should do it for 2015’s October Horror Movie Recommendations. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Although remember, horror isn’t just for October. It’s there all year round.

And now, as per typical, I will sleep until Thanksgiving. Farewell all.


10/30/15 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #30 – Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Night of living dead

They’re coming to get you Barbra.” Such a perfect, memorable, and foreboding line to start a perfect, memorable, and foreboding film. If only young George Romero knew the extent of the explosion he was creating when he did this little flesh-eating zombie film in good ole Pittsburgh. Yep, no-brainer choice today. I usually hold the real no-brainers for Halloween every year, but I was deciding between two films this year and couldn’t choose. Instead, I’m ending my 2015 list with TWO no-brainers. I couldn’t wait anymore; I had to write about each film now. First, it’s this masterpiece. I love the original Night of the Living Dead. It summarizes everything I love about horror films. It’s claustrophobic; it’s dread inducing; it has an array of interesting characters; and as has been dissected many times over, it actually says something. This is Halloween viewing 101. Night of the Living Dead is to Halloween as It’s a Wonderful Life is to Christmas. Almost everyone I know has seen it. Some people watch it every year. In my community, it’s must-watch stuff. But like It’s a Wonderful Life, there are shockingly still a lot of people who have never sat down and watched it. This is for you. This is the kick in the butt for the rest of you to view some real film history. Night of the Living Dead is simple. One morning as a brother and sister are visiting their father’s grave, a strange frantic man attacks them seemingly from nowhere. The sister escapes to an isolated farmhouse for safety. There she meets an array of extremely variant characters. And just as the threats of the undead build on the outside, the threats of personality and power clash on the inside. It’s this duel threat that set NOTLD apart from all the rest. Who’s side are you on? Do we move to the cellar or stay upstairs? Each character is kind of right, and each character is kind of wrong. There is no exact black and white, which is genius. And speaking of black and white, the gritty visuals in this film are incredible. The black and white creates such a realistic claustrophobia that you are instantly pulled deep into this world. As the relentless zombies continue to try to break into the house, and the characters start to crumble amongst themselves, you can feel your chest tightening. THe zombies are slow-moving, but not brainless. They can open car doors. They can take rocks and smash windows. They can think more than most zombies, which makes the threat more real. And when more and more of them start to surround the house… chills. And don’t even get me started on the scene in teh cellar. And of course the absolutely gut-twisting finale. Oh, man. I have to stop or I’ll ruin everything. Dammit, I love this movie. I could go on for ages, but I’ll just leave it here. If you haven’t seen this already, just go experience it for yourself. Seriously, this is must watch stuff here.


10/29/15 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #29 – Deathgasm.

deathgasm-poster

DEATHGASM!!!! Holy lord Deathgasm. I don’t even know where to start. I think my friend Brendan said it best when he told me, “If you, Jeff Dixon, saw this movie when you were 12 years old, it would be your favorite movie ever.” And you know what? He’s right on point. This is 12 year old Jeff’s wet dream. It has everything I loved (and still love). It has heavy metal, comedy, horror, metal, gore GALORE, Satan worshippers, and more METAL!!!! This is the metal obsession movie that I always wanted. If you are a lifelong metalhead like I am, all the references to bands that no one knew but my friends and I, will make you melt with joy. Cannibal Corpse, Cattle Mutilation, they even mention A.C.! (*Please, don’t ask me what A.C. stands for, because it’s about as awful as it gets. We used to listen to them in college and laugh our asses off.) Anyway, Deathgasm, or sorry, DEATHGASM (because as they say in the movie, lower case is for pussies) is what you get if you combine Peter Jackson’s Dead/Alive (or Brain Dead, for overseas fans), Evil Dead, and Tenacious D. And yes, it is as awesome as it sounds. The story is about a metalhead that never quite fits in and is picked on constantly in life. But it all changes when he finds some ancient sheet music known as “the black hymn” and plays it, summoning demons to take over the world. It’s super low budget, which makes all the effects even the more amazing. Plus, they are almost all practical gore effects. Practical! Sure there are some CGI kills here and there, but this thing was a labor of love and it shows. This is yet another amazing flick to come out of New Zealand, they are KILLING it lately. The comedy is sometimes a bit adolescent and stupid, and there are a few too many dick sight gags, but whatever. The 12 year old in all of us approves. It’s stupid, it’s insane, and it’s kind of brilliant. Most of all, it’s fun as shit. Just turn it up to 11 and give it a spin. Get ready to see more puking blood than you ever thought was humanly possible. IT’S SO METAL!!!!!


10/28/15 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #28 – The Invisible Man (1933).

Invisible Man

Yeah, I know I just barely posted a Universal Classic a few days ago with Frankenstein, but I just can’t help myself. My youngest daughter and I have been watching all of these during this Halloween season, and I honestly forgot how awesome this movie truly is. The Invisible Man is so good still today, but damn I wish I could have seen it back when it came out. The effects must have been truly mind-boggling. When he first takes off his bandages to show… nothing. Oh man, that must have made people faint. Although my personal favorite effect was the body-less pants sprinting down the street. By now, most know the story. A scientist working on an experiment finds a way to turn himself invisible, but he can’t figure out the antidote. The problem is that the longer he stays invisible, the crazier and more maniacal be becomes. Finally, he gets to such an insane state that he essentially becomes a serial killer. This is the fact that was lost on me when I saw this so long ago. I forgot that The Invisible Man actually kills hundreds of people in this movie! I mean honestly, 1933? This movie was downright aggressive. And to add insult to injury he usually laughs maniacally while doing it. The fact that you still find empathy for what has become such a horrific man is what’s so clever about this movie. In fact, that’s one of the highlights to almost all the Universal Classics. Watching this through the eyes of my 9 year old daughter was amazing. She was glued to the screen, and even when had to pause it to answer the phone, she rushed me to “hurry up” because she wanted to see what was going to happen. At the end, she looked at me with a pensive look on her face and said, “I had no idea The Invisible Man was going to be so sad.” It really affected her. Look, if a movie from 1933 can still affect a 9 year girl today, then mission accomplished. Universal does it again with another iconic flick.


10/27/15 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #27 – The Hallow (2015).

The Hallow

Yeah, I get to brag a little and say that awesome “I saw this at Sundance” line. So here goes, I saw this at Sundance… and it was awesome. I’m a sucker for creature features, especially creature features done RIGHT. This one is done freakin’ right. I knew I was in for something special when for some reason Edgar Wright came to the screening in Park City and introduced the film along with the director. Little did I know that they were childhood friends, but still it was cool to see that kind of support and backing by an amazing director in his own right. The Hallow is simple. A family moves into a severely isolated home in the Irish countryside. The dad works for a logging company testing the surrounding woods. But the locals don’t like them there. They say the woods are special; that they house ancient creatures; and no one should be meddling. The family stays the course, and well, let’s just say the locals kind of know what they’re talking about. There are creatures all right. Terrifying mysterious creatures. Oh, and the couple’s new baby is the target, which of COURSE ups the ante. The Hallow seems simple, but it’s so much more. First off, the suspense, especially in the first half, is palpable. There are numerous scenes that have you gripping your seat. But then it just goes from there, building entire mythologies, dancing into some body horror, and finally building to a place that most creature features don’t go – actually showing the creatures. And showing them in their entirety. Now granted, as per usual, the movie is much scarier when you don’t see the monsters, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t pretty fantastic when you do. The monsters are fantastic and almost all practical! All different kinds of xxxxxxx. (I’m not going to spoil it, now am I?) The compassions to The Descent are pretty spot on. While The Descent is a superior film, The Hallow still deserves a nice home in the “damn solid creature feature that is actually scary” category. Be aware, there are a few different movies called The Hallow, so make sure you look for the Irish one. As of this posting I think it’s a DirecTV exclusive right now, but it has a wide release soon. When it comes out, give it a watch on VOD. It’s a magically terrifying time.


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