Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A New Feature Film

This has been a busy month over here at Razorwire Pictures. We're in the middle of production on a new feature film tentatively tilted "Khadijah." It's a post apocalyptic, sci-fi, time travel flick. Cast includes Kyle Morris (2012:Ice Age/Savaged/Reel Evil) as the lead and Todd Brown (Carrion/Ironhorse) will be reprising his role as Detective Giger. Robert Leroy Diaz (Countdown to Zero/Crime Scene X) is our cinematographer, Dean Jones (Pirates of the Caribbean 4/OZ: The Great and Powerful) is designing the makeup effects and Warren Abbott is executive producing. What we're setting out to do with this film, is to go back to the way movies used to be made. So no greenscreen, cgi stuff here! We're using miniatures, stop-motion animation, prosthetic makeup, and animatronic effects for this one! Shooting should be wrapped at the of September, for a projected release date of January 2013. We'll keep 'ya posted!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Second Self...Now on DVD!

Award winning director Chris J. Miller takes you on a journey into dreams and the subconscious wake with the new short film collection: THE SECOND SELF...AND OTHER SHORT STORIES.
THE SECOND SELF is a surreal odyssey starring Kyle Morris (2012: ICE AGE/SAVAGED) as a filmmaker who meets his doppelganger while being forced to finish a movie he started making ten years prior. TIOGA is a twisted tale about two deranged roommates and their psychotic relationship, and the Empixx Award winner CRAWFISH rounds out the trilogy as a radical, metaphoric political tale that will have you pondering the real and the unreal. Filled with captivating visual effects and classic stop motion animation, THE SECOND SELF ...AND OTHER SHORT STORIES is a must have for fans of strange and unusual cinema.

Fearless Fred Music Video

Buy it at!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Mystery Of The Frogmen

I was lucky enough to grow up in a very entertainment friendly household. My dad was a movie buff who educated me on the art and history of cinema, and my mom was a music junkie who introduced me to the world of vinyl records and cassette tapes. She had every Beach Boys album that existed at the time (including a bootleg of Brian Wilson's masterpiece Smile) but one of her records intrigued me more than any. It was a compilation of some of The Beach Boys early material:
At the time I was completely enamored by The Beach Boys' instrumental tracks (especially "Fall Breaks And Back To Winter") and this generic 20 hits collection contained four awesome songs that stood out above the rest: "Tioga" "Underwater" "Beware Below" and "Karate"


When the Beach Boys' entire back catalog was being released on CD and "Karate" (aka "Stomp") showed up on a few of them, I couldn't understand why these other three amazing instrumentals were being ignored. Then I found a revealing clue:
This German import CD had "Beware Below" "Tioga" and "Underwater" on it and the credit was given to a group called The Frogmen. Now, after many years, I knew that The Beach Boys 20 Hits LP had been  mislabeled, and I began my quest to find an album by this amazing group known only as The Frogmen. Years of searching Ebay, record stores, and the internet brought me nothing new, and I still only had those three songs. Just when I was about to give up hope, I finally found a fourth track entitled "Seahorse Flats" on this Surf Creature compilation record:

It was another great song by this mysterious band, yet still I could find no further information about them or a full-length album. In 1994, Rhino Records remastered and re-released "Underwater" on this surf compilation CD:
In the linear notes, it mentioned how The Frogmen became the first surf rock band to crack the billboard charts with their single "Underwater." In a 1992 interview, Jack Andrews, the writer of the song, said that The Frogmen were a four-piece band from Culver City and that he took them into American Recording and cut "Underwater." Andrews also said that after shopping the record around without much luck, his friend Joe Saraceno told him to add something to it to give it more of a punch. So Engineer Frank DeLuna picked up a guiro (a Spanish percussion instrument that makes "croaking" sounds)) and Andrews added it to the song. Saraceno worked for Candix Records and also helped get the track released on that label. According to Andrews, Saraceno came up with the name Frogmen.

I knew "Underwater" must have had some kind of a cult following, since it's heard on the soundtrack to the John Water's film Female Trouble after the Dawn Davenport wedding sequence.

So with the advent of Facebook, I started a Frogmen fan page, hoping that I would connect with some fans of this obscure group and maybe get some more tracks. What I didn't anticipate was that the drummer of the group, Mike Anderson, would contact me and provide me with information and photos of the band.
Later, guitarist Jim Young also joined and gave me more info. Basically they were a high school band that recorded a few singles and then disbanded shortly after. Mystery solved. They were quite popular after "Underwater" became a hit and even appeared on Wink Martindale's Show in 1961:

It really is a shame that the group didn't stay together longer and record a full length album. They were a great surf rock band (especially for high school kids), and had a truly original sound. Jim Young seemed shocked that I even had a copy of "Seahorse Flats" which he claimed was never officially released. Thank God for bootlegs! Later on I came across a mystery 45, "Sea Haunt/Diamond Black" by the Frogmen:

Could it be their long lost single? Both Mike Anderson and Jim Young assured me that this was a different group with the same name. The b-side to "Underwater" contains a song called "The Mad Rush" which is a weird little waltz number credited to the Frogmen, but recorded by another band as well. I also found a 45 at an auction entitled "Hop-Toad" by  Don Costa with the Frogmen, and this jazz influenced single released in 1955 also has no relation to the group. So, after two decades of searching for clues, the mystery of the Frogmen comes to an end. Although they only recorded four songs in their short musical career, they're four PERFECT songs...
Official Frogmen Discovery:
1961 : Underwater / The Mad Rush
- Candix 314 / Astra 1009 - Simple

1961 : Beware Below / Tioga
- Candix 326 / Astra 1010 - Simple
(Beware Below, Tioga)

1961 : Seahorse Flats / Tioga
- Scott 101 - Simple
(Seahorse Flats, Tioga)

1961 : Underwater / Beware Below
- Scott 102 - Simple
(Underwater, Beware Below)

Unofficial Frogmen 45's:

1955 : Hop-Toad/Prince of Wails
-Essex 387 (Don Costa with the Frogmen)
(Hop-Toad, Prince of Wails)

1964 : Sea Haunt / Diamond Black
- Tee Jay 131 - Simple
(Sea Haunt) 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stephen Gammell's World Of Horror

When I was in second grade, I was in a Barnes and Noble glancing through the children's books, when  something caught my eye. It was Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, a collection of folklore retold by Alvin Schwartz with illustrations by Stephen Gammell. The stories themselves were classic campfire fluff, but what made them so creepy was the intense and disturbing artwork by Gammell. Needless to say I begged my parents to buy them for me. My friends and I were obsessed with these books and brought them to sleepovers, where we read them until the pages started to fall out. We even made our own ripoff versions, that we wrote and illustrated ourselves, photocopied, and then tried to sell to our classmates for a quarter a piece.
Since 1990 the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom has received an enormous amount of complaints by parental groups and schools regarding The Scary Stories trilogy, which has made it the most challenged series of  children's books in the ALA's history. Parental groups succeeded in making sure that the Garbage Pail Kids TV show never aired in America, so why not go after a popular book series that they felt was too scary for kids.
So on the 30th anniversary of the original book's release, publisher Harper Collins finally caved in to the decades of complaints, and tried to tone down the classic series by replacing the frightening illustrations created by Gammell, with the dull and timid drawings of hack artist Brett Helquist. Now a generation of children, will never feel the full impact of these books, and another classic has been destroyed by politically correct lunatics.
                                                                 Gammell VS. Helguist:
So to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Scary Stories books, I thought it would be a good idea to pay my respect to the amazing artwork of Stephen Gammell. Since we're all so familiar with the Scary Stories drawings, I thought it would be cool to show off some of Gammell's lesser known horror-based artwork from some of his rare and out of print books that I've been collecting over the years.
 1. Ghosts by Seymour Simon (The Eerie Series) published in 1976 by J.B. Lippencott

6. Meet the Werewolf (The Eerie Series) by Georgess McHargue published in 1976
 3. Meet the Vampire (The Eerie Series) by Georgess McHargue published in 1979 by J.B. Lippencott
4. Leo Possessed by Dilys Owen, published in 1979 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc.
5. The Ghost of Tillie Jean Cassaway by Ellen Harvey published in 1978 by Four Winds Press
 6. Halloween Poems selected by Myra Cohn Livingston, published in 1989 by Holiday House.
 Even some of Stephen Gammell's "normal" children's books have that persona of surrealistic nightmares:
Gammell continues to illustrate children's books in  St.Paul. Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, Linda. His more recent works are in color and are much more playful than the illustrations from his black and white vine charcoal days.
Hopefully Harper Collins will re-release the original versions of the Scary Stories books, so that future generations of children can grow up with the same fantasy and intrigue that stimulated our imaginations when we were kids.
A Facebook page dedicated to that mission can be found here: BringBackTheScaryArt

There are a few other disturbingly ghoulish children's books that have (so far) remained untouched by censors - Check these out as well:

 If you're a fan of  Stephen Gammell's artwork, here are some other amazing books well worth checking out:
  • 1975 Thunder at Gettysburg
  • 1979 Stonewall
  • 1982 Where the Buffaloes Begin - Caldecott Honor
  • 1982 Wake Up, Bear...It's Christmas!
  • 1982 The Story of Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar
  • 1983 Git Along, Old Scudder
  • 1984 Once Upon McDonald's Farm
  • 1985 Thanksgiving Poems
  • 1987 Old Henry
  • 1988 Song and Dance Man -Caldecott Award
  • 1989 Airmail to the Moon
  • 1989 Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust
  • 1989 Dancing Teepees: Poems of American Indian Youth
  • 1993 Monster Mama
  • 2000 Twig boy
  • 2008 My Friend, the Starfinder