Sold on “The Selling”

Hot Nerd Girl and "The Selling"

Between studying theatre and living in LA, I know a few people in that crazy little business of making motion pictures. Every once in a while I get treated to a preview of a film before it premiers. My favorites are the independent ones like Milk and Teary Sockets that are dark, quirky, and downright entertaining to watch.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced screener of a new independent horror comedy called The Selling set to premier this Friday at the San Francisco International Film Festival. (MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!)

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1A2kT1rsuA]

The Selling is the brainchild of Gabriel Diani, a fellow San Francisco State University alumni (we’ve never met) who wrote, produced and starred in the film.  It’s directed by Emily Lou, also a San Francisco State University alumni (we’ve never met either) in her feature film directorial debut.

Y’all know I heart me some horror comedy.  The Evil Dead series is quite possibly my very favorite campy horror film franchise of all time…in fact, I know it is and despite my fear of zombies, I allowed you guys to convince me to watch Zombieland this past weekend.  (Granted, I was still scared and still had nightmares BUT at least the nightmares were sort of funny this time.)

Anyhooters, enough about me and my weirdness, I’m actually super excited to tell you about The Selling and I sincerely hope that you all manage to get your hands on a copy of it.  First off, the animated opening credits are a great teaser and something totally unexpected.  They made me chuckle more than once and how often can you say that about what is essentially a roll call?

The film centers around Richard Scarry (you know, like the children’s book author) and Dave Ross, two real estate agents trying to make some quick cash by flipping a house sold to them by their beautiful but bitchy coworker Mary Best.  They very quickly discover that the house is haunted by 12 ghosts that aren’t exactly keen on having roommates (I can sympathize).

Gabriel Diani as Richard Scarry in "The Selling"

Gabriel Diani as Richard Scarry in "The Selling"

Much of the cast will likely look familiar to you.  That’s because many of them have been featured in one or more TV shows or movies that you’ve seen. Gabriel Diani is adorable as the protagonist Richard.  He brings a genuine sweetness to his character.  He can be a bit of a pushover but at least he’s aware of it while it’s happening.  He’s at his best when he’s showing the house to potential buyers after he’s accepted the presence of the ghosts inhabiting it.

Jonathan Klein plays Dave, the best friend who gets them in this mess in the first place.  Once the ghosts reveal themselves he refuses to go inside again until the climax.  He displays excellent comedic timing and reacts to situations in ways that most people would…but in funnier ways…if that makes sense.  Janet Varney looks like a much prettier, much blonder version of Fairuza Balk.  I’m sure she’s a very nice person in real life but in this movie she takes her role as self-serving mega bitch Mary Best quite seriously and I found her to be the most interesting character in the film.

Haunted closet from "The Selling"

That closet seems to be very spacious....

Etta Devine (if that is her real name then she seriously has some of the coolest parents ever) is quirky and cute as Ginger Sparks (ok, seriously, how did she get the best names both in real life AND in the movie??) a ghost habitat preservationist who attempts to help Richard and Dave…mostly Richard…by making out with him…not that I can blame her.  I relate to her because I can be a weepy, horny drunk as well.

Nancy Lenehan plays Richard’s Mom and she’s probably my favorite character in the whole movie.  Without giving too much away, there is a scene in the hospital between her and Richard that literally had me LMAO.  The person you can’t help but recognize is Brad Majors himself, Mr. Barry Bostwick.  He plays the Catholic priest, a staple in any movie featuring exorcisms.  Father Jimmy doesn’t carry his holy water in ounces, nope, he brings a liter of the stuff.  What he does, he does big.

Oh, and Buffy fans, recognize the guy at the beginning of the trailer who’s interested in buying the house?  Yep, that’s Harry “Mayor of Sunnydale” Groener.

Emily Lou is a talented upcoming director.  The way she frames her shots is fun and fantastical.  At times it seems as though she simply set the camera on the floor and let it work its magic.  Other times she chooses unique and unexpected angles that are surprising in their creativity.

Exorcism in "the Selling"For an indie film the special effects are pretty amazing, especially when it comes to the ghosts.  Many of the scares are intentionally predictable (closing the medicine cabinet and seeing a ghosts reflection) and aid in the film’s comedy; however, I found myself genuinely scared a couple of times, something that doesn’t usually happen with me during ghost movies (afraid of zombies, remember?)

I keep finding myself wanting to talk about plot points because there were so many that I found amusing but I’m trying to be very careful not to give away the movie.  The hardest part is refraining from giving away some of the best lines in the film (and yes, I actually wrote them down).  All I’ll say is that I’m totally stealing the “Sizzler voice.”

holding poster imageIf you’ve ever been to the movies with me you know that I stay and sit through the credits.  There are two reasons for this.  The first reason is that my stepdad is a Foley Artist and I was taught that everyone who works on a movie deserves to be recognized for their hard work.  Their faces may not be seen but their names should be.  The second reason is that there are often little snippets during or at the end of the credits that are worth waiting for.  Sadly, I’m often the only person who sees them.  If you get an opportunity to view The Selling you’ll want to stick around for the ending credits which are HI-larious.  My favorite part?  When Dave tries to open and eat potato chips in a completely silent hospital room.  We have all been there and Ginger’s reaction to his munching is classic.

Sizzzzzzzler!

Four out of Five Sci-Five's

Four out of five Sci-Fives!

My Top 10 Campy Horror Films

In honor of Halloween, or Samhain, or however you choose to refer to it, here is my list of the most awesomely cheese-stastic and hi-larious horror flicks of all time.

10. Anything based on a Stephen King novel

Stephen King

"That's right. I'm seducing you.... with my EYES!"

From Carrie to The Mist I counted 82 (!!!) film adaptations of Mr. King’s work.  That’s no small shit.  Some of them are the best horror films of all time like Misery and The Shining.  Some are cheese-tastic wonderlands like It and Pet Cemetery.  They’re all pretty freaking scary.  Mr. King gets on the list, if for nothing else, than for the sheer volume of work based on his novels.

9. Tales of the Crypt: Bordello of Blood

A vampire brothel being run out of a funeral home.  Corey Feldman finally getting his turn at vampire glory.  Dennis Miller running a private detective business out of a porn theatre.  Angie Everhart as the mother of all vampires.  What more do you need?  Besides some sunblock that is.

8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture ShowSome people will argue with me about whether or not this counts as a horror film.  It’s my list and I say it counts.  So there.  Besides, it’s got “horror” in the title.  I don’t feel that I need to explain any further.  It’s got music and dancing and sci-fi and Tim Curry in drag.  In 2005 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by non other than our own Library of freakin’ Congress and was declared “culturally and historically significant.”  How many musical horror comedy rock operas can say that, hmmm?

7. Child’s Play

Childsplay

Coincidence? I think not.

When I was a kid we had a doll that came from some family member long gone and had been passed down through the generations.  This doll was kept in a pillowcase in the far reaches of my closet because I was the girl and Lord forbid my brother have a doll in the back of his closet that no one will ever see.  I got curious one day and pulled down said doll in pillowcase.  I remember seeing the back of the head first.  That in itself was pretty creepy.  I turned the doll around and her eyeballs had fallen out of their sockets and were rolling around in the back of her head.  They suddenly stopped rolling and were staring straight at me.  Needless to say, I have never and will never look upon the face of that doll again.  Dolls are creepy.  Period

6. Gremlins

What child of the 80’s didn’t want a mogwai as a pet when they were a kid??  This movie contained enough unforeseen violence that it helped convince the Motion Picture Association of America to reform its rating system.  Drops of water, not great but manageable for a while.  Food after midnight.  Baaaad.  The main lesson gleaned from this film: never buy anything in Chinatown.

5. The Lost Boys

Oh, the horror that is teen angst.  I’m pretty sure “Santa Carla” is supposed to be Venice, CA.  Gang-ridden or not, how many coastal cities in California do you know of that would let an earthquake crumpled hotel just sit there instead of building something else on the property?  Just sayin’.  It’s a bunch of brat packers running around looking cute and causing trouble long before Stephenie Meyer ever dreamed up her saccharine covered Twilight vamps.  My favorite character is Grandpa.  I may be a vegetarian but I can appreciate some good taxidermy.  He gets the last word: “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach…all the damn vampires.”  Grandpa’s been around the block a few times.

4. From Dusk Till Dawn

from-dusk-till-dawn

"Hey.... wanna make out?"

Personally, I love Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez (when he’s not making stupid kiddie films).  They are rather good at satisfying my desire for action, gore, and lewd comedy.  I think that sometimes people forget that George Clooney was even in this movie…what with the Cary Grant Junior image that has been built up around him…something I’m sure he finds hysterical.  Hot Mexican vampire strippers.

I’m sorry, do I need to say anything else?  Didn’t think so.

3. Drag me to Hell

Drag Me To Hell

"WHY DID YOU SCREW UP MY CAFE LATTE!!! IT'S NOT THAT HARD TO MAKE!!!"

I hear the theatrical version of this movie fell apart at the end.  Luckily I didn’t see it in the theatre and instead rented the Director’s Cut.  This is not a movie for those with weak stomachs but if you can handle your gore and an ungodly amount of disgusting fluids going into a pretty girl’s mouth, then this is the movie for you.  It stars Alison Lohman as a really sweet girl who really pisses off an old gypsy woman the first time she tries to be tough at her job.  I really hope I never piss off an old gypsy lady.  The demon, Lamia, tortures you for three days before doing exactly what the title entails.

2. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Elvira

And we have found cleavage even I am jealous of.

This was one of my very favorite movies as a kid.  So much so that I actually dressed up as Elvira for Halloween one year.  Talk about goth done right.  It’s hard to believe that Cassandra Peterson was 37 years old when this movie came out!  The moment that will be with me until the day I die?  When Elvira chucks her stiletto high heel and it lodges in her Great Uncle Vincent’s forehead.  Brilliant.

1. Evil Dead series

Evil DeadMy explanation for this need only go as far as the name “Bruce Campbell” but for those who haven’t seen it I will explain further.  Horror and comedy together (intentionally) is Sam Raimi’s genius.  Inspired by low-budget horror films at drive-ins and HP Lovecraft, he created an epic trilogy of awesomeness centered around Ash (Bruce Campbell) and a series of deadites created by Ex-Mortis.  Watch all three (Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness) in a row and it will be the best Halloween you’ve ever had.  My favorite lines: “Honey, you got reeeeaaal ugly!” and “Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun.”

Groovy.