Friday, July 17, 2020

Resources for Black Screenwriters & Horror Fans

I am a reporter by trade.
About a decade ago, I started feeling like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day.
I had a huge yearning to do something more meaningful.
Since I wrote about minority affairs, I turned to the nonprofit sector cuz I wanted to take a more proactive approach to solving problems, rather than writing, about issues impacting our communities.
Then the recession hit.
Grant dollars dried up and once again I had to reinvent myself.
This time around, I wanted to turn my passion into a profit.
I've always loved horror films, so I thought, cool, I'll make a movie - minus all the production stuff.
Let me rephrase that: I'm a wannabe screenwriter.
In the past, I've never had problems accomplishing my goals.
But, this shit here, it's hard.
Really, really, really hella hard!
And there's not a lot of information on the internet offering any real guidance.
Yeah, there are tons of mainstream websites out there.
But, they are colder than a witch's tit.
It's frustrating as hell trying to explain our culture, slang and nuances to folks who don't have a clue or no interest in understanding.
And it's even more difficult when you have to create in isolation.
When you're a writer, you have a thirst to exchange ideas, a craving to not only critique but to receive feedback as to whether the monster you created is a masterpiece or needs more time on the operating table.
That's why it is important to connect to black screenwriters in general and black horror fans in particular.
So, this post is for all the black girl's on a suicidal quest to become visible in the horror genre when your writing ain't enuff.
It's a work in progress, but below is a list of black resources for all the neophytes, who like me, want to come out of the wilderness but are lost in the valley of the dry bones.
If you have other black horror and screenwriting insights, please share them via a reply, email ... something.
Each one, teach one.

BOOKS:
African American Video Guide by Facets Multimedia, Inc.
Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror by Robin Means Coleman
100 Black Women in Horror by Sumiko Saulson
Three Black Chicks Review Flicks by Kamal Larsuel-Ulbricht, Rose Cooper and Cassandra Henry

BLOGS:
facebook.com/Africafilmcommision
blackfilm.com
blackhorrormovies.com
blackhorrorreviews.blogspot.com
blackscreenplaysmatter.com
facebook.com/graveyardshiftsisters
facebook.com/OBS.writers (Organization of Black Screenwriters)
shadowandact.com
sumikosaulson.com
3blackchicks.com

FILM INDUSTRY:
bet.com / bet.com/bet-her.html
codeblack.com
dulynoted.com (Effie Brown, Project Greenlight)
facebook.com/Flavorunit (Queen Latifah)
info@leedanielsentertainment.com
monkeypawproductions.com
oprah.com
one ho productions (Whoopi Goldberg)
tdjakes.org
TVONE.TV
tylerperrystudios.com
westbrookinc.com (Will Smith)
willpacker.com / info@willpakerprods.com

PODCASTS:
Nightlightpod.com

- Tracie Reddick

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Jada Needs to Slay her Inner Demons

Wow!
Is that what we're doing?
Giving high-fives instead of outcries in regard to Jada Pinkett-Smith and August Alsina's fling.
I ain't saying she's a pedophile.
But, we do need to tell the truth and shame the devil.
Fact is, Jada set things off with August long before the Lifetime special aired about R. Kelly's sexual romps with under-aged girls.
She blasted his behavior on her show, Red Table Talk, while engaging in the same sort of illicit acts.
Yeah, I know.
August was 23 and Jada was 44 at the time of their "entanglement."
Some of Kelly's accusers were twenty-something, too.
And unlike August, none of them suffered from medical or mental issues, making them more vulnerable to his sexual lures.
Jada, like Kelly, was old enough to know better - even if their victims were young, dumb and innocent.
There's a fine line between seduction and scorn.
It is sometimes crossed by jilted lovers when relationships end, making it difficult to know what's real or imagined when the accuser displays signs of selective amnesia.
Bottom line, it's no wonder our youth have no direction.
We, as adults, are constantly sending mixed, moral messages about what's right and wrong.
I wasn't expecting a "mute" Jada movement.
But, I thought more folks would make it clear that "me, too" doesn't mean it's cool for older women to start manipulating and preying on younger men.
Where is the outrage?
Do black lives matter only when it's a white cop victimizing our boys?
C'mon, ya'll.
We gotta do better.
I think Sherri Sheperd and Kym Whitley are hilarious - but not in their "red, paper plate" parody of Will and Jada's discussion about her affair.
As single, black women raising black boys they should know better.
It's baffling as why they would bring up the subject then claim it ain't nobody's business - right before giving an ode to August's over-sized penis as justification for Jada's sexual rendezvous.
This is not a joking matter.
August was her son's best friend - that alone should have made him off limits cuz now all of his lil homies are gonna be looking at her sideways.
Whether or not Will green lighted the hook-ups is questionable.
But, one thing is clear: no one can bless this mess.
If anything Jada, who once played the role of a demon slayer, needs an exorcism or some sort of cleansing.
Cuz a curse does occur when you point an accusatory finger at someone else.
And we all know what happens next.
Chicken heads come home to roost.
Well, that's not exactly how the saying goes.
But, I bet R. Kelly is rolling over in his jail bunk bed right about now, singing Jada a new lyric: "I believe you a lie."
- Tracie Reddick 

Forget Xena: The Woman King tells the story of the real, black warrior princess

Little Known Black History Fact: The Woman Warriors Of Dahomey ...
      
The blood flows, you are dead. 
The blood flows, we have won.
The blood flows, it flows, it flows. 
The blood flows. 
The enemy is no more.
- Dahomean victory song
Most folks think Xena is a real princess from the legendary, all-female, Amazon warriors.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
She is a fictional character conjured up by Hollywood and another example of how our history is white washed.
The true warring women were a black military unit that existed between 1600 - 1904 and were descendants from the Kingdom of Dahomey.
Their story will finally be told in an upcoming TriStar movie titled, The Woman King.
It's directed by Gina Prince Bythewood (Love & Basketball) and stars Viola Davis, who is one of the film's producers.
The film explores the overlooked legacy of Nanisca, and her daughter, Nawi, two fierce, female fighters who battled French troops and neighboring tribes for their king and country.
It is difficult to pinpoint the origins of the Amazon sistah soldiers.
Some say they were third ranked wives tasked with the duty of guarding their King during the night, a time when men were banned from the palace.
Others claim they were gbetos, female hunters who took down elephant herds with a single club and could slice a man in half with four-foot long razors.
Either way, their reputation was so fierce, slave girls had to ring bells to warn men to not only clear a path for them, but to look the other way since an innocent touch could lead to a swift death.
Known as the black Spartans, these bare-footed warriors were known for their pre-dawn raids and would return from battle carrying the heads of their enemies.
They were rewarded with tobacco, alcohol and 50 slaves for their feats.
For the record, they were not the only female warriors.
Nzinga of Matamba was an Angola ruler who waged war with the Portuguese and had a harem of 60 male concubines - whom she dressed in women's clothing!
King Mongkut of Siam - a 19th century black ruler who was erroneously depicted by Yul Brenner (The King and I), also a had a body guard of 400 women.
Historians estimate between 6,000 to 15,000 Dahomean women perished while battling French troops armed with more advanced weapons.
Some French officers were attracted to the captured slender and shapely warriors, who gave into their seduction as a final act of revenge. 
They would wait for their unsuspecting lovers to fall asleep, cut their throats then lick the blood from the bayonets.
According to legend, they transitioned to manhood at the moment they disemboweled their enemies, who, according to historical records, lauded them for their extreme valor.
(Image courtesy of blackamericanweb.com)
- Tracie Reddick

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Forget Starz, Jaime Foxx's Bringing the Power to Netflix

  Project Power poster.jpeg 
Starz left us without Power.
Thanks to Netflix, things are about to brighten up.
The streaming service dropped the trailer today for Project Power, a new flick that's slated to shine on August 14th.
Forget Ghost.
This time around Jaime Foxx has the voltage in this flick directed by  Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, the duo that gave us Paranormal Activity 3 & 4 and Nerve.
Foxx stars as a former soldier, who teams up with a teenage drug dealer (Dominique Fishback) and a cop (Joseph Gordon Levitt), to stop the spread of a new drug that literally gives power to the people.
For five minutes, users gain abilities like super human strength, bullet-proof skin, invisibility powers - and, oh, yeah, they could risk dying off their first hit.
Therein, lies the power and the lure.
The pill proves absolute power corrupts absolutely.
As its popularity skyrockets, so does the crime rate since folks are using their new found skills for all sorts of nefarious deeds.
Foxx is on mission to unhook power users and rescue his kidnapped daughter from crime lords who don't want him to pull the plug on their venture.
To fight power with power, he takes the pills and the ultimate showdown ensues.
Viewers don't need a red or blue pill to take a trip down this rabitt hole.
They can sit back and freak out while waiting to see who's really got the power.
 (Image courtesy of wikipedia)
- Tracie Reddick

Let the Right Ones In

Growing up, my grandma was very particular about who she let into her house.
It didn't matter if they were strangers, friends or kin, there were some folks who never made it past her front porch.
I never understood her obsession about letting the right ones in - until I got older.
The other day, I was reminded of her home-spun wisdom while watching a Dutch film titled, Borgman (2014).
Directed by Alex van Warmerdam, it's about a vagrant that knocks on an affluent family's door and is immediately dismissed by the patriarch.
His wife feels sorry for the homeless man and hides him in a guest cottage, offering him food and a place to sleep for the night.
Living up to the adage, no good deed goes unpunished, the man refuses to leave and systematically wrecks havor on their picture perfect world.
It reminded me of To Sleep With Anger (1990).
Directed by Charles Burnett, the critically acclaimed film was remastered last year and stars Danny Glover as Gideon, a charming gentleman with devilish manners.
Gideon is an old, friend from down South who drops in on a middle-class, black couple who have started a new life in Los Angeles. 
They welcome their unexpected guest into their home and in return, he slowly begins to unravel the ties that bind their family.
Both films are reminiscent of the Hairy Man folktale, which is about a man who steals the souls of people who unwittingly bargin with him.
And they both serve as cautionary tales about placing logic over instinct and replacing past values with present traditions.
You don't have to be superstitious but when it comes to certain things, you do need to pay attention to signs.
That's advice from my grandma that I'll always heed because it's a lesson that's never outdated or old-fashioned.
- Tracie Reddick

Monday, July 6, 2020

Tenet is the latest secret society infiltrated by John David Washington

No one knows much about the plot.
But, one thing is certain, Tenet is not a film about time travel, Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, 2018) stated in published reports about his upcoming film.
The Warner Brothers movie is scheduled to be released in theaters in August and it stars John David Washington (BlackkKlansman, 2018).
According to Nolan, it's based on a time concept known as inversion.
Say what!
Simply put, it's a method of manipulating time - in reverse.
Nolan spent five years working on the concept for the science fiction/spy thriller that is rumored to be a sequel to his film, Inception, 2010.
But, who knows.
From what I've surmised, Washington's character, Protagonist, chooses to die rather than snitch on his peers.
Due to his loyalty, he's inducted into After Life, a secret organization that has mastered the art of inversion and assigns him one task: to prevent a pending WWIII situation.
He's given one word, Tenet, to figure out how inversion can be used to save mankind.
Washington is the son of Denzel Washington.
His leading role in Tenet cultipults him to a Super Negro status attained by a short list of black actors - Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, 1999) and Will Smith (Independence Day, 1996) - trusted to save the world without donning a cape or becoming some cartoonish character.

- Tracie Reddick

Antebellum unravels past and future ties bound in slavery

Image result for antebellum lionsgate    
"Make me a grave where'er you will. In a lowly plain or a lofty hill. Make it among earth's humblest graves. But, not in a land where men are slaves."
           - Frances E. W. Harper, 1854, Bury Me in a Free Land.
 
They must be out of their cotton-picking minds.
That's the first thought I had when I heard about Antebellum, an upcoming horror flick that blends time travel with slavery.
Then I learned it's based on Octavia Butler's novel, Kindred, and it all made sense.
Butler's story is about a black author who wakes up in a hospital with an amputated arm.
Police suspect her husband, Kevin, a white man, is responsible for her injuries.
Although she doubts anyone will believe her, she begins to recount her journey back to a pre-Civil War plantation where she meets a white planter who forced one of her kin - a free, black woman - into slavery and made her his concubine.
Antebellum is loosely based on this tale.
It depicts a  black novelist, who is married to a white man, and suffers from dizzy spells.
During her  bouts, she is transported to the slavery era, where her nightmarish past collides with her future reality.
Slated for release in September, the Lionsgate film is executive produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out, 2017), written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz and stars Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures (2017).
The movie trailer is as confusing as the poster, which has Monae looking like Jodie Foster in the artwork from the Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Meanwhile, this is not the first time the issue of slavery has been addressed in the horror genre.
But, time travel is a unique approach considering most films on this subject focus on a dead reckoning to right past wrongs.
Check out these titles:
A Haunting in Connecticut II (2013): A white family moves into a Georgia home that was once part of the Underground Railroad. It's haunted by the spirit of the former station master, an evil man who kept the slaves seeking his help during their quest for freedom. 
Dead Birds (2004): Isaiah Washington stars in this western horror about bank robbers who, after a heist, hide out at an anbandoned plantation inhabited by murdered slaves.
Tales from the Hood (1995): One of the stories in this anthology features the spirits of former slaves, trapped in voodoo dolls, stalking a racist, white senator who owns the plantation on the land they toiled.
The Skeleton Key (2005): A hospice nurse takes a job at a New Orleans plantation and falls under a hoodoo spell cast by dead servants.

- Tracie Reddick

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Black Women are Dying to Live in Horror Movies

Most people can recall at least one movie with an unforgettable moment.
For me, it was Octavia Spencer getting whacked in Halloween  II (1981).
That film was disturbing on so many levels.
See, she wasn't even crawling. 
They had that sistah sliding across the floor.
It was unsettling to watch the Michael Myers character creep behind her with a machete in his hand.
Something about it just didn't feel right.
I was having an outer body experience as moviegoers celebrated her being sliced and diced.
All at once I connected the dots, saw how our kinfolk were spectators at their own deaths, watching lynch mobs cheer as the noose left them breathless.
Much like Octavia, up there heaving on the big screen.
I wanted her to get up. Roll over. Fight back.
Do something. 
Instead, she just laid there. Helpless. Lifeless.
I couldn't breathe.
Holding back a tear, I sat there, wondering why?
How come when it comes to violence perpetrated against black women, there is a tendency to neither see, hear, nor speak any evil on this subject.
Yeah, I know.
The Los Angeles chapter of Women In Film recently tweeted about a need for Hollywood to end racism, particularly in its depiction of the black community.
After all, black lives must matter in movies, too.
Question is: Will their voices be heard or ignored?
Black violence is something some folks believe only impacts black men, although we share the same space in our communities.
Traditionally, it has been our role to be their beast of burdens, to take a back seat to their pain.
We are quickly put in our place when we have the audacity to ask: What about me? Don't I matter? Ain't I a Woman?
Black folks also have a code of silence when it comes to certain horrors.
C. Delores Tucker, a respected civil rights leader, was dissed by the rap community when she challenged them about their misogynistic lyrics toward black women, depictions that were co-signed by the film industry and heaped upon us.
The consequences of this unspoken truth is that it's OK for anybody to choke a bitch, stab a ho or murder a hoochie mama.
Take Scream 2 (1997).
Maureen (Jada Pinkett-Smith) is invisible to a room full of moviegoers as she's brutally attacked while stumbling to the front of the theater screen in a final attempt to be seen.
Nobody weeped for her.
Cuz everybody knows the beast must be fed.
So, there will be blood and chopped up chicks served up to hungry audiences.
Besides, it's just a movie and a sistah's gotta get paid, right.
Therefore, we become willing participants, sacrificing our black bottoms as we adhere to these bloody views.
In all fairness, white women are tortured, too.
But, they are typically the victims of desire not disdain.
So, the brutaility is not to the same extent.
If you don't believe my hype, check out, Get Out (2017).
As the movie concluded, audiences hooped and hollered when the black maid got beat down in the car.
But, there was some fear and trepidation when it came to Rose.
Graphically murdering a white woman is a line Jordan Peele wouldn't cross - even if it is make-believe.
Her death played out off screen and we were treated to the aftermath.
It's another example of how we have become shadows, following at the heels - and the mercy - of those who shape and mold us into non-human entities that can be disregarded, disrepected and disposed of at-will.
Black women are tired of being spooks at the door, the living dead trapped in the valley of dry bones.
We need a resurrection, a summoning of the sinews and the flesh to cover our bones and put our broken corpses back together.
Simply put, we need air.
Let us breathe.
- Tracie Reddick

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Horror is the right antidote for your fears

In difficult times, many people turn to horror films to placate their fears.
It sounds crazy but it does make sense.
After all, the terror you're facing in real life may not be as bad as the evil playing out on the big screen.
I guess that's why I like horror movies mixed with comedy.
If you need a good laugh, this sort of lunacy will always put you in the right mood.
I stumbled across an oldie but goodie the other day.
Los Angeles was once again under attack.
But, the city wasn't dealing with another alien invasion.
Nope.
This time around, it was a spider.
Not the itsy, bitsy kind.
It was a Big Ass Spider (2013).
Directed by Mike Mendez, this film, a.k.a. The Biggest Spider, is hilarious.
Plus, it adheres to the three B's of horror: beasts, big boobed babes and blood.
The film is about an exterminator (Greg Grunberg) who seeks medical help after being bit by a brown recluse spider.
As he's being treated, a doctor stumbles down the corridor, claiming he was attacked by a giant spider nesting inside the body he was examining.
Hospital staff don't know what to do - until Grunberg comes to the rescue.
He tells them he can make the spider disappear if they make his bill vanish.
The deal is struck and the carnage ensues.
Grunberg, with the help of a lanky, Latino security guard (Lombardo Boyar) set out to capture the spider - just as the military descends upon the hospital.
Whether it belongs to the government or a mad scientist, any time a subject escapes from a lab, you know there's going to be trouble.
Big time!
They learn the giant spider lurking in the hospital is actually in its infancy stage.
It manages to elude them then goes on a rampage, feasting on the folks of L.A.
Lots of kooky people get caught in this spider's web as it grows to a ginormous size.
The film starts and ends with Grunberg walking fearlessly down the street as the city burns behind him.
I won't say how, but he and Boyar do manage to save the day - but not before the eight-legged, mutated freak, lays a bunch of eggs.
This is one time when I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel to a movie because Grunberg and Boyar, an unlikely duo, are funny as hell.
If you could use a good chuckle, check it out.
- Tracie Reddick

Friday, July 3, 2020

Candyman: The Reality Behind the Myth

 
"I am the writing on the wall, the sweet smell of blood. Be my victim." - Candyman

Daniel Robitaille is a complicated man that no one quite understands.
You darn right.
I'm talking about the Candyman, the legend, the myth, the honey-scented dude with the hook hand whose history seems to have gotten the shaft.
Tony Todd reprises his role in a reboot of Candyman, the 1992 film that made him a legend.
It's slated to debut in theaters in September.
So, let's set the record straight on this bastardized character before he's resurrected on the big screen.
For starters, Candyman is fictional - but, it's grown into a myth that's sorta rooted in fact.
He was conjured up in the mind of Clive Barker (Hellraiser, 1987) in a 1985 short story titled, The Forbidden.
Bernard Rose (Paperhouse, 1988) tweaked the tale, turning it into a movie almost 30 years ago.
In Barker's story, the mythical figure roamed Britian and was a pale-faced man with long, blonde hair dressed in bright, patchwork clothing.
With Barker's blessing, Rose created a myth that's a projection of learned fears.
Candyman became a black man, fresh out of slavery but still chained to the segregation laws of the Jim Crow era.
An artist by trade, his hand was chopped off by a lynch mob, hellbent on punishing him for his love affair with a white woman whose portrait he was commissioned to paint.
Before being murdered, his tormentors covered him with bees and honey, hence the Candyman nickname.
According to the legend, he now rises from the dead, with a hook replacing his severed hand, seeking revenge when folks repeat his name, five times, in a mirror.
Two sub par sequels, Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Day of the Dead (1999), which went straight to video, followed.
But, not before there was an uproar about the 1992 film, proving myths can galvanize people and directly form culture.
Some black filmmakers and leaders didn't want to see a black Boogeyman perpetuating negative, racial stereotypes.
Others argued, if you take away Candyman's fallacies, you dillute the culture, erasing an entire class of people.
Candyman prevailed, earning $25.7 million at the box office.
Nia Da Costa (Little Woods, 2018) is directing the upcoming film, which is executive produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out, 2017; Us, 2019), and proves a myth always rises to fill a need.
"Candyman, at the intersection of white violence and black pain, is about unholy martyrs. The people they are, the symbol we turn them into, the monsters we are told they must become," she recently tweeted.
According to Da Costa, her film will give the Candyman legend a more spiritual vibe.
After all, superstition and black folks go together like murder and mayhem.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II stars as the grown-up infant that was kidnapped in the original film. Vanessa E. Williams (Anne-Marie McCoy) also returns for the reboot.
The location is still set in Chicago but now takes place in a gentrified neighborhood where luxurious lofts have replaced the demolished Cabrini Green projects.
As the legend continues, Candyman is a prime example of another myth that stilll eludes black men: freedom, equality and justice for all.

FUN FACTS:
  • Eddie Murphy was considered for the Candyman role but the studio couldn't afford him. The part was given to Todd, who was a lesser known actor at the time.
  • Real bees, not CGI replicas, were used in the original film. Dental dam was placed in Todd's mouth to keep them from going down his throat. He was paid an extra $1,000 for each bite, which, reportedly varied from 23 to 26 stings.
  • There was an actual killer dubbed, The Candy Man. Between 1970 and 1973, Dean Corll, kidnapped, raped and murdered up to 28 boys in Houston, Texas. The press gave him his name after discovering he worked at a candy factory.
  • In the 1992 film, the cast was escorted by undercover cops. It was filmed on the grounds of Chicago's Cabrini Green housing project, which had a notorious reputation for drugs and gang violence. Some residents were even featured as extras in the film.
  • While filming, the crew learned there was an actual killer that committed a series of murders in the area, including the death of Ruthie Mae McCoy. He entered her home through the wall of an adjoining apartment. The killer's tactic was incorporated into the film. The character Ruthie Jean is named in her honor.
  • Like Candyman, Bloody Mary appears in a mirror when you repeat her name several times. Ironically, Todd played a suspected, killer clown who battled the infamous urban legend figure in the Nite Tales (2008) anthology titled, Storm.
- Tracie Reddick

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Props aren't always needed to raise the fear factor




     
A mask, chainsaw, or even a hook, can give a character a more sinister persona.
But, nothing is more terrifying than when an actor bypasses the props and uses a look, a sound or some other signature trait, to raise the fear factor.
The best example is Robert Mitchum (Rev. Harry Powell) in The Night of the Hunter (1955)
His depiction as an evil preacher was bad enough, but it forever changed, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, a gospel hymn he belted when he was up to  no good.
Not to mention he had the words, love and hate, tattooed above his knuckles long before Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing (1989) or the white racist in Tales from the Hood (1995).
Micheal Williams is another example of an actor that has mastered this method.
His demeanor as Carmello Jones, the rebel leader in The Purge: Anarchy (2014), was so intense, it made you want to go out and bear arms.
Not to mention his role as Omar (The Wire), a thug who hauntingly whistled, A Hunting We Will Go, to announce his arrival.
When all else fails, there's always the soundtrack.
Remember Jaws (1975)? It only took two notes to set an onimous tone for that movie.
And who could forget the, kill, kill, kill, ma, ma, ma,  whispers in Friday the 13th (1980).
Sometimes, the fear of the unknown will do the trick.
After all, it wasn't Robert Englund's finger knives that made Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), frightening. It was the fact that he could invade your dreams.
Those are a few of my favorite examples.
What's yours?
- Tracie Reddick

The urge to purge is over as the franchise ends with its new film

All good things must come to an end.
But, not The Purge!
Rumor has it that the fifth installment, The Forever Purge, will be the last film in the franchise.
Say it ain't so.
"I think it's a great way to end it all ... in this one," James DeMonaco said in a published report about his creation. "I'm very excited."
Alas. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Fans will no doubt miss DeMonaco's cautionary tale about America's obsession with guns.
It kicked off seven years ago with a government-sanctioned, population control campaign urging citizens to  commit murder and mayhem over a 12-hour period.
Four films - and a television spinoff - followed. 
All of the movies were excellent, which is rare when it comes to sequels. 
The list includes:
The Purge (2013), about one family's fight to survive the organized chaos.
The Purge: Anarchy (2014), is told from a city-wide perspective, following four strangers whose paths cross during the night of violence.
The Purge: Election Year (2016) offers a glimpse of the event's "founding fathers" and the method behind their madness.
The First Purge (2018) was a prequel to the original film, showing how it all manifested.
And now comes Forever Purge, which is tentatively scheduled for release on July 10th.
Fingers crossed the date doesn't change due to the Corona virus pandemic.
"I think it will be a really cool ending, how we take this one home," DeMonaco teased.
The plot on how the purge ends has been a closely, guarded secret and the movie trailers don't offer up any clues.
However, there is very little mystery about the film's success.
It's based on the fact that none of the movies followed any rules, molds or formulas to create something unique and original.
They were fresh because the characters were interesting and constantly changing - yet, all of the plots had one central theme: the annual purge commencement.
Well, almost. 
Frank Grillo appeared in the Anarchy and Election Year films.
He's back for the final cut and one last chance to release the beast.
- Tracie Reddick

Monday, June 29, 2020

Craving Wes

  Horror master Wes Craven dies at 76 | Free | theparisnews.com        
 
This year marks the fifth year anniversary of Wes Craven's death.
                            Wes Craven wallpaper by JawsRideSkipper - 95 - Free on ZEDGE™  
   

 Race, Vigilantism, & Zombies in Wes Craven's The People Under the ...
He died August 2015.
A brain tumor took his life, just shy of his 77th birthday.
The announcement shook my soul.
See, when it comes to celebrities, I'm not one to get all fanatical
Except when it came to the Master of Horror.
I've never met Wes Craven.
But, he still had a profound impact on my life.
I have always loved horror movies.
But, there is one film that validated my love affair.
The People Under the Stairs (1991).  
This quirky movie won't be hailed as one of his signature films.
Still, it was everything to me.
Thanks to the blaxploitation era, I had seen black folks survive all the way through to the end of a scary movie.
But, there was always something lacking. 
They didn't seem to have the same magic as other films.
Plus, their stereotypical portrayals didn't define me.
And we barely existed in mainstream movies.
So, there was no real sense of belonging. 
Then along came Wes, who gave me what I was craving.
The People Under the Stairs was the first time I saw a black person, a kid nonetheless, become the hero in a fright flick and not have to sacrifice himself in the process.
For once, we weren't walking, talking stereotypes.
Hold up!
I know some of you are dying to point out that Ving Rhames (Leroy) and Brandon Adams (Fool) were breaking into the slumlord's house of horror.
That's true. 
But, Leroy got his comeuppance.
Fool was innocent and his goodness prevailed. 
Plus, the film didn't depict a one-sided portrayal of us.
There were law-abiding black characters such as Grandpa Booker (Bill Cobbs) and Kelly Jo Minter (Ruby) to counter balance Rhames' criminal ways.
So, there.
The best part about the film was that it had the type of quirkiness that I love in a horror movie.
But, that's not what sealed the deal.
I admit, I was tripping, wondering if this was some sort of illusion of inclusion. A fluke. A one time thing.
Four years later, I got my answer.
A Vampire in Brooklyn (1995) let me know he was the real deal.
The last time a black vampire had appeared in film was Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973).
 Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, John Whiterspoon, Kadeem Hardison, Allen Payne, all of the characters were relatable and provided an authentic representation of us. 
Not to mention, they were funny and sometimes frightening.
And how about Scream, a franchise that began in 1996 and has employed an array of black actors, including Duane Martin, who, as camerman Joel, was the first to acknowledge: Brothers don't last long in situations like this.
Although it may not be verbatim, that sentiment has been repeated, with a knowing wink and a nod, from L.L. Cool J. in Deep Blue Sea (1999) and Roger Edwards in It Exists (2014).
Don't get me wrong. I don't just admire Craven's films that expanded horror's portrayal of us.
Naw.
I was right there, front and center, in theaters for films like, Swamp Thing (1982), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Serpent & the Rainbow (1988) and Red Eye (2005).
And cable has allowed me to check out his other flicks like Last House on the Left (1972) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977).
It was my hope, that one day, when I was famous, I'd have an opportunity to meet him. 
Although that's no longer the case, I still feel like I got to know a tiny bit about who he was through his work.
I think that's an accurate measure of the man.
Rest in Peace.
(Images courtesy of theparisnews.com, zedge.net and cinemaaxis.com.)
- Tracie Reddick 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Did Zebra Murders end up on the Endangered Films List

What happened to the film, Zebra Murders: A Season of Killings, Racial Murders & Civil Rights?

Has it been shelved? Or, is it still under development?

There hasn't been any buzz about it since it was announced that Jaimie Foxx was attached to the Dreamworks project.

That was back in 2007.

The film is supposed to be based on a series of black-on-white homicides that took place in San Francisco from October 1973 to April 1974.

They became known as the zebra murders because zebra is phonetically used for the letter "z."

Also, the police task force used a "Z" radio frequency for communication.

The Get-Man Poster

At the height of the mayhem, Zebra Killer, a 1974 film directed by William Gilder, fueled racial rumors about the case.

Also known as the Get-Man, it depicted a white serial killer - wearing black make-up and an afro wig - on a killing spree in San Francisco.

A crime stoppers tip eventually led to arrests.

One of the participants snitched on the others in exchange for immunity and the $30,000 reward.

Calling themselves "death angels," four black muslims - Manuel Moore, Larry Green, Jessie Cooks and J.C. X. Simon - received life sentences for killing 15 people and wounding eight others.

They were linked to up to 73 deaths but a lack of evidence could not tie them to all of the murders.

Green and Cooks, the remaining living defendants, were denied parole earlier this year.

Below are a list of racially charged films that did make it to the big screen:

Blue Caprice (2013), which, ironically, was based on John Muhammad, a black muslim who was dubbed the D.C. Sniper after committing a series of fatal shootings in 2002.

Fight For Your Life (1977), a film about a black family held captive by white convicts after escaping from prison.

Night of the Living Dead (1968), is the first installment of George Romero's "Dead" films. It's touted as a landmark movie on race relations and depicts a black man surviving a viral outbreak, but, is killed by zombie hunters - depicted as the powers-that-be - after emerging from his hiding place.

Tales From the Hood (1995), is an anthology of stories dealing with racism, abuse and gang violence.

The Purge (2013), is about citizens getting a 12-hour, government sanctioned pass to commit murder. All of the films in this franchise are excellent. Take your pick.

The Thing With Two Heads (1972), is a movie where a transplant operation goes awry, resulting in a white racist getting a black man's head attached to his shoulder.

They Live (1988) is John Carpenter's film about consumerism and divisiveness. A black and white duo spot aliens through special sunglasses and are on a quest to stop them from systematically taking over the world via subliminal marketing messages.

(Movie poster image courtesy of IMDb)

- Tracie Reddick

Resources for Black Screenwriters & Horror Fans

I am a reporter by trade. About a decade ago, I started feeling like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day. I had a huge yearning to do something mo...