Saturday, August 31, 2013

Twixt and Between

I saw the trailer for the movie Twixt  a few months back and became disappointed that it was not out yet, unless I wanted to buy it from Amazon, which was a bit outside my budget. At that time the cost was $22.98, although that has come down some since.  This past weekend the movie showed up at my local Redbox and soon was playing in my DVD player.

The plot on this movie is a bit convoluted. A down and out writer, played by Val Kilmer, gets linked up with a crazy sheriff, played by Bruce Dern, and together they plan to co-author a book titled The Vampire Executions. Add a strange girl called V., a bunch of gypsy like characters on the other side of the river who might be vampires, a few guest appearances by Edgar Allen Poe, some murdered children and a dead daughter, and you have a strange recipe for horror.  The movie's trailers perhaps explains it best.

Twixt comes from the imagination of director Francis Ford Coppola known for movie greats like The Godfather, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now. Unlike these memorable motion pictures, Twixt is done on his dime, based on a dream he had.  He's walking along and talking to an attractive young lady who has crooked teeth and explains she is a vampire. From there he's in this building where a grave is in the floor, and he is careful not to step on it, because children are buried there. On and on it goes. The problem with the movie is too much going on, on too many levels. Keeping the plots straight is not the hard part; figuring out how they intersect is.  Most stories have a main plot with subplot. In this tale, it seems like everything is the main plot.

What I did like about the movie was the creep factor, something every horror movie needs. The characters seem just not right in the head. Scenes feel askew. The story line is twisted. A technique he uses is shooting past events/dreams in black and white, although it looked more like deep blue and white. To this is a splash of color. The carpet over the grave is red. Edgar Allen Poe carries a lantern that glows yellow. When the children make lemonade aide the lemons are vivid yellow. Yes, of course, blood is redder than red. The overall effect is dark and creepy.

The reviews on this movie fell into two categories. Two star and five star, with the two stars winning. Yet if you like your tales served with a Gothic flavor, you may want to check it out.  Who knows, maybe one day Twixt will become cult movie.

Ron D. Voigts is the author of Claws of the Griffin, a dark cozy, available on Kindle.

Francis Ford Coppola. Not to overstate the obvious, but the director of The Godfather, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now - See more at:
Francis Ford Coppola. Not to overstate the obvious, but the director of The Godfather, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now - See more at:
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What scares you?

You walk outside late at night. A dim glow from a distant street light casts a twilight glow into your yard. You pass under trees to your driveway where your parked car waits. Something lightly touches your face. Must be spider webs. Something tickles the side of your neck. You remember the special on the news about some South American spider invading the area and being quite deadly. Your back itches.  A tingle. Then a sharp pain and you scream.

You’re away on a trip and happy that you found an out-of-the-way motel with dirt-cheap rates, just outside of town. The desk clerk told you the area was so secluded you could scream and no one would hear you. The night had been quiet, your sleep peaceful. But something awakes. A sound like keys jingling or coins rustling in someone’s pocket. A thump follows. You open your eyes. The only light comes from a flickering neon sign outside, bleeding in around the edges of the window curtains, pulsing like a heartbeat. A shadow looms in the corner of the room. A scratching like someone dragging the tip of a knife blade across the wall puts you into a cold sweat and you scream.

The neighbor pounds at your door. You answer and she tells you someone had been peeking in her window. Outside a heavy snow falls. You walk with her to the side of the house and note not a single track in the snow where someone would have stood to look inside. But she argues that the falling snow could have covered it up. You tell her you’ll stop by later and check on her. Later you go back out and find trampled snow around the same window. You spot an overturned lamp on the floor, a broken glass on the floor and red pool of liquid that looks like blood. You turn to run home and call the police. A dark figure looms in your path and you scream.  

Fear is born out of imagination. The spider webs may be real, but the spider a trick of the mind. A strange room, someone checking in next room over and a floor lamp causes heart palpitations. A scaredy-cat neighbor, a spilt glass of wine and a table lamp knocked over while running to get a towel elicits images of foul play. But everything can be explained. And the dark figure?

Maybe it is the boogie man coming to get you.

 Ron D. Voigts is the author of Claws of the Griffin, a dark cozy, available on Kindle.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hey, Ruby. What have you been doing?

This week I present a cut from Claws of the Griffin.  Sherrif Stacey Goodnight has gone out to serve Ben Holloway an eviction, but finds he's not home. But she does get an unexpected surprise.

     The air was peculiarly quiet. Clucking from the chickens and the car’s door closing seemed to be the only thing to disturb the still atmosphere. Stacey swallowed hard and stepped closer to the porch. Drawn shades, yellowed over time, hung across the front windows. The front door hung open to a black rectangle of unknown.

     “Anyone home?” Stacey called.

     She stepped up on the porch, testing rotting boards that creaked with each footfall, and peered through the doorway. Light filtered inside from a back window, casting shadows and dimly illuminating the interior. A haze of dust hung in the air. Two chairs sat at a wood table. In the corner was an armchair covered with a quilt and next to it, a stack of newspapers. A flowerpot lay on its side, the dirt spilled out, and the plant long dead.

     “Hello,” Stacey said, the last syllable sounding like a musical note held for a full measure, and tilted her head from side to side trying to glimpse any movement or catch a sound.

     Suddenly, she sensed someone behind her. Her heart leaped to her throat, and she turned slowly.

     Ruby stood at the foot of the porch steps. Her eyes were wild and swollen, her hair tangled and knotted. In her right hand, she held a knife. Dark visceral material clung to the fingers of her left hand. Blood stained the front of her dress.

     “Hey, Ruby,” Stacey said, keeping an eye on the knife. “What have you been doing?”

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lines From Famous Detectives Quiz

I took these from movies, TV and books. My apology if I got something wrong.  See if you can match them up. The first one should be easy.

Famous line...
1. You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.
2. Certainment, this is the most difficult moment of my career. To solve the crime... that does not exist.
3. My wife says I'm the second smartest. She claims there are 80 guys tied for first.
4. There are three things you can never have enough of in life, Lieutenant: chocolate, friends and the theatre.
5. Don't be too sure I'm as crooked as I'm supposed to be.
6. What you see is nothing. I got a Balinese dancing girl tattooed across my chest.
7. She told me if I dropped her off at the bus station, I could forget her. But if she didn't make it, she said, "Remember me."
8. Joy in heart more desirable than bullet.
9. Murder is never funny.
10. One more murder may be one too many.
A. Lieutenant Columbo
B. Charlie Chan
C. Shelock Holmes
D. Sam Spade
E. Hercule Poirot
F. Phillip Marlowe
G. Jane Marple
H. Jessica Fletcher
I. Perry Mason
J. Mike Hammer


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why Writing Is Like Swiss Cheese

Writing can be painful; it can be exciting.  I pass through the gamut of emotion, from frustration to elation.  At times I want to give up and find a new outlet for my creativity. Maybe oil painting or playing the piano. Or I can give up all together and watch mindless TV.

My latest project starts out great. The words pour out. The scenes develop. I throw out some chapters to my writer friends and get lots of praise.

Then comes the wall. I know where I want to go, but getting there becomes a struggle. Every word I write comes with heartache and disappointment. Sentences form between long bouts of inactivity. I feel like I’m building a railroad from ten different directions, and the tracks don’t come anywhere close to meeting in the middle.

When I finally get through the first draft, the thing looks like Swiss cheese. I’ve created many holes and don’t know how to fill them. Everything comes up short of where I want to be. Maybe pottery can be fulfilling. I’ll make ashtrays for Christmas presents.

Then something clicks. A new idea occurs.  Missing scenes come to me.  The words pour out faster than I can type. The muse has returned, and I know I’ll complete another novel.

I guess making origami birds will have to wait.