Guitarist Alex Grossi talks Maps to the Hollywood Scars and their new EP “Vol. 1”

Alex Grossi is one of the busiest guitarists in today’s music scene. Some of his projects include the bands Beautiful Creatures, Hookers and Blow, Hotel Diablo and most notably Quiet Riot which he joined in 2003. Alex’s newest project Maps to the Hollywood Scars” recently released a new EP titled “Vol. 1” featuring former American Idol contest James Durbin. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Alex recently about the new project and the recent addition of James to the Quiet Riot lineup.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the new project Maps to the Hollywood Scars and, how you and James Durbin came together?

Alex Grossi: I had met James back in 2011 through a mutual business acquaintance when he was doing American Idol. We became friends during that time but lost touch for a few years. It wasn’t until James was doing a residency in Las Vegas recently that we reconnected and I started sending him demos. He was recording some great melodies and lyrics and the more we worked the better things kept getting. Eventually we have almost a dozen songs done. We decided to put out an EP to see how things would go and that led to us doing a second one and so on. Things happened very organically and we are very happy where things are at.

AL: What was the process like for working on the new EP titled “Vol.1”?

AG: I had been working on songs as they came to me for about a year prior. When I sent them to James he immediately got it and was inspired. There was really no set plan for anything but I had been demoing songs for about a year and finally found the right outlet for them. Having James come in has been great and also working with our producer AJ St James and Dizzy Reed who played piano and strings.

AL: How did Dizzy Reed become involved with the project?

AG: I have been playing in a cover band we do called Hookers and Blow for the past twelve or thirteen years. When we wrote the song “Death” I could just hear the string parts and piano parts. I sent him the song and asked him what he could add and what he sent back is what you hear on the record. He did a great job and nailed it.

AL: Are there any plans to tour behind this release?

AG: There have been some offers that have come in but with the both of us now being in Quiet Riot we have to work around that schedule and we would have to put a band together. Right now we are only going to do what makes sense for everyone as it’s hard to schedule something for spring and summer when we already have commitments with Quiet Riot. There has been talk of doing some late night television appearance but as far as a full blown tour we will probably only do a show here or there. It’s a side project and something that we want to keep special. We have plans but we just have to wait for the right time when everyone’s calendars line up.

AL: Can you give us an update on the recent Quiet Riot line-up change?

AG: We just announced James as our new singer and we are currently recording the new album with him titled “Road Rage”. We have bunch of new tour dates that just went up on the Quiet Riot website which will taking us all over the country and also to Canada. More shows keep getting added to it hard to keep up with them all. (Laughs) We are very grateful for the support which keeps us going.

AL: How instrumental were you in bringing James into the Quiet Riot fold?

AG: I was demoing the songs with James and during that time I was sending the tracks over to Frankie to check out. He has been very supportive of the project since I started it so when it came time make a singer change I offered to call James up and see if he would be interested. I called him up; he said he was interested and about two weeks later things were on their way. We did rehearsals and a photo shoot and that was it. It all happened very quickly. James is such a pro in that he came in prepared knowing all the songs and was ready to go. I am very blessed to play with such a great group of guys. We all get along great and I am really excited to get out there with this new lineup.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

AG: Back in 2002 I joined Beautiful Creatures replacing DJ Ashba. We recorded an album called “Deuce” which we just got the rights back to. We remixed and re-mastered that album along with adding a few new things. That is going to be released March 31st. We are calling it “Deuce Deluxe” it’s going to have a bunch of new stuff on it and it sounds really great. I also do a fun cover band with Dizzy Reed called Hookers and Blow which we will be doing some shows here and there. I also am working still with Steven Adler. Getting to see him play with Gn’R this summer was amazing.

For more info on all of Alex’s projects visit: www.alexgrossimusic.com

Testament’s Alex Skolnick talks about new band Metal Allegiance and their debut album

Alex Skolnick is probably best known as the guitarist for the legendary thrash metal band Testament. When not performing with the group Alex keeps busy with numerous side projects such as The Alex Skolnick Trio and, his latest endeavor Metal Allegiance, The group which features a laundry list of some of today’s top heavy metal performers is set to release their debut self titled album on September 18th and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Alex recently about the album and the group’s formation.

Adam Lawton: How did you first get involved with the Metal Allegiance project?
Alex Skolnick: It all happened pretty fast. I was on the “MotorBoat Cruise” playing with Testament and that’s where the very first performance under that name happened there. There were a bunch of us guys hanging out during dinner one night and some of the guys were talking about set lists. They wanted to add in some classic Van Halen and I was the guy who was pretty up on that stuff. I wasn’t really planning on playing and Mike Portnoy sort of threw it out there as a joke and I went along with it and everyone went nuts. We ended up having this great jam and afterwards we were talking about more shows in the future and I said I would be for it any time. I get a call one day asking if I would be interested in doing an album. I had never worked with any of these guys before but I was willing to give it a shot. I went in thinking it was going to be mostly an album of covers with possibly two or three original songs. Up until this point all we had played together was covers. When we got together the writing process just took off. We started off with just a couple songs we felt great about and it just sky rocket from that point on.

AL: Being that you all had never worked together before what was the creative process like for the group?
AS: We all are fans of this music and we wanted to make an album that we would be excited about putting out. We all had ideas as to what makes great album and we wanted to make sure that we captured the performance of each player involved with the record. There’s a lot of great stuff being recorded these days digitally but we wanted to take a more analog approach and incorporate elements from areas that inspired us to become musicians.

AL: Was a majority of this album created separately and sent back and forth via email or was there a point where everyone got together and recorded as a group?
AS: We worked in a couple different phases. The first phase involved the three core guys of the project. Myself, Dave Ellefson and Mike Portnoy were brought together by our mutual friend Mark Menghi. The four of us got together during the holidays and did our first session. A few weeks later we got together again for a second session. Those sessions were all done in a traditional band type recording session. In February we went out and did the “ShipRocked” Cruise and after getting back we began the next phase of work which we did in Long Island at Mike Portnoy’s home studio. There was some stuff that got sent back and forth via email but a majority of the album was done the classic way with everyone being present in the same recording space.

AL: When it came time to bring in the various guests who appear on the album who was the person making those decisions?
AS: The four of us myself, Dave, Mike and Mark made all of those decisions together. We call ourselves “The Core Four”. There was a constant stream of text messaging that we all would reply to where we all made suggestions related to the music. We decided that we would all have to agree as to who was going to be asked to be a part of the project. There were some ideas that didn’t end up happening as ultimately we felt they just wouldn’t fit and some of those may have helped sell more records but this wasn’t about that. Everything was about the feel of the track and how each piece fit and worked together.

AL: With the project taking on almost a life of its own is this something you guys hope to continue to expand on or, is this album the closing piece for the group?
AS: I believe we would like to keep this going indefinitely. There is no reason not to. We don’t want to be limited to just performing on cruise ships or at large events. We do have plans to do those types of events but we also want to do more. We have the album release show in New York at the Best Buy Theater which is going to feature most of the personnel from the album. That’s something that is going to be hard to duplicate on a tour but we are figuring things out as we go. We just announced our first international show in Mexico City which will feature the core group along with Mark Osegueda from Death Angel on vocals. There are a number of different levels that this project can work on which I think is going to be really great.

AL: Outside of the Metal Allegiance project what else are you currently working on?
AS: I have a lot of stuff going on. I have my first acoustic album out which is called “Planetary Coalition”. This is a world album and is something that I always wanted to make. I have a bunch of great artists featured on there including Rodrigo y Gabriela. Last year the trio recorded a live concert and it came out really well. We also recently wrote a few new songs and I think we are going to release that as a live album. I’m going to be a part of the “Axes and Anchors” cruise which is a cruise for guitar enthusiasts. Zakk Wylde is going to be there along with Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker and a bunch of other great players as well. Testament has mostly one off shows booked as of right now and in between those we are writing new material with hopes of having a new album out next year.

Doyle & Alex Story talk about their new album “Abominator”

Former Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein is currently out on tour in support of the band’s debut release titled “Abominator”. The band which also features vocalist Alex Story, bassist Left Hand Graham and drummer Anthony “Tiny” Biuso will be out on the road through August and Media Mikes had a chance to speak with the band prior to the tours kick off in Rochester, NY where we talked about the recent departure of drummer Dr. Chud as well as what the band has planned for the rest of this year and beyond.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what happened with Dr. Chud deciding to leave the tour prior to its start and what your most looking forward to about getting out and playing the new material live?
Doyle: He just decided not to come out on the road with us. That’s pretty much all there is to it. We are looking forward to just ripping stuff up every night we play. Tiny our new drummer came in on short notice and just really energized all of us. Tiny is a guy I met at the NAMM show one year and we just hit it off and became friends from there. He was always asking me about who was drumming for me at the time and what not and now he is the guy.

AL: Can you tell us about the VIP packages that you are offering at each show?
Doyle: We are doing VIP meet and greets after every show on this tour. Along with getting to meet the band you get a free music download, a tour laminate and a signed photo. It’s a chance for fans to get a little more out of coming to us.

AL: You shot a DVD for your previous band Gorgeous Frankenstein. Will you be doing any shooting while out on this run?
Doyle: I think we have a guy coming out to film the New Jersey show and also to do some footage at the Connecticut and Los Angeles shows. Alex and I will also be doing a new photo shoot with Jeremy Saffer while we are out on the road which should be really cool.

AL: With “Abominator” being out for a couple months now what has been people’s reaction to it?
Doyle: I think everything has been really great. I really like the album and I think if people haven’t done so yet they need to go out and buy it! (Laughs)

AL: You have said before that during the writing process you wrote enough material for two more albums. Can you tell us the status of those?
Doyle: Everything has been recorded. All we have left to do is finish the drums and then mix them. From there we will get the artwork done up and proof all the words for the album notes. We are shooting for a spring 2015 release date.

AL: Alex, when you were putting this material together what type of process did you guys have for writing?
Alex Story: When we were first putting this all together Doyle gave me a list of things that he liked to hear songs about. There was a lot of stuff about strippers and Satan in there. (Laughs) I really challenged myself and tried to write a song about everything he mentioned in his list. That’s really where we went from. Doyle writes all the music and arrangements. He gives me full bass, drum and guitar tracks and I really don’t like to ask him to change things around for me so I just go with what I am given. I try to write vocals that accent his playing.
Doyle: Sometimes he writes songs in a day and sends them over to me which is just crazy. He sends me stuff that he has screamed in to his laptop.

AL: When Doyle is out on the road with Danzig what do you do to keep busy musically?
AS: I have another band that I have been doing for years called Cancerslug. I do that in my off time and when ever Doyle is ready I shift gears and we do this.
Doyle: It works the same way for me when I am working with Danzig. When he calls we go out and do it and then we go back working on this.

AL: What are your plans for the next Cancer Slug release? And how have things changed for the group since you first started?
AS: Cancerslug is sort of like my little pet project. Once things sort of slow down here were going to put out a new album. We have a really solid line up right now and our last tour was very successful so we are looking to do another run of shows as soon as we can. With Cancerslug I just sort of throw these ideas down when I have them and if people like it that’s cool if they don’t, they don’t. Once I get some down time from doing this I will start work on all of that. When I first started Cancerslug there was no internet or cell phones which made being independent very difficult. Nowadays it makes doing a project like Cancerslug a lot easier as there are just so many ways to get yourself out there which makes splitting my time between the two bands that much easier.

AL: Can you tell us about your upcoming appearance in Alan Roberts “Killogy” comic book?
Doyle: I toured with Alan years ago when we were out on the road with his band Life of Agony. He called us up one day and asked if I would be interested. I just got the draft of it the other day and it looks really great. I think the plan is to have it out around Halloween time.

AL: This first run of shows is just a month long. Are there any further plans to continue touring throughout the rest of the year? And is there any chance of seeing you do some shows with your girlfriends band Arch Enemy?
Doyle: We are working on a bunch more stuff here in the States for the coming months. As for shows with Arch Enemy we are trying really hard. It’s up to Angela. I am afraid of her! (Laughs)

Nekrogoblikon’s Alex Alereza talks about new EP “Power”

Alex “Goldberg” Alereza is the guitarist for the extreme metal band Nekrogoblikon. The band which also consists of Nicholas Von Doom – Vocals, Keyboards Tim Lyakhovetskiy – Guitars, Brandon “Fingers” Frenzel- Bass, Eddie “Drifty” Trager- Drums and Aaron “Raptor” Minich- Keyboards hails from Santa Barbara, California and performs a unique blend of goblin theme heavy metal unlike anything you have ever heard before. The group has just released a new 5 song EP titled “Power” and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Alex about the release and the formation of the band.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the formation of the band?
Alex Alereza: Yes. It all started at a Chuck-E-Cheese’s in Northern California. None of us knew one another at the time, but as the only grown men at the establishment, we soon became friends. At the exact moment in time that this friendship was fully conceived, a horde of goblins captured us all in one giant net and dragged us into the trunk of their Dodge Sprinter Van. They drove for hours until they reached a strange wasteland that they referred to as “Los Angeles”. Upon arrival, they threw us out of the van and held us at gunpoint. They screamed in unison, “you will create a metal band honoring us or we will shoot you….to death.” Not wanting to die, we quickly nodded and agreed to write these metal songs. A couple months later we released an album called “Goblin Island” under the name Nekrogoblikon and instantly became billionaires who were sought after by women young and old. The rest is history.

AL: How did you first meet John Goblikon and what’s his role in the band?
AA: John Goblikon was one of the goblins that were supposed to aid in the kidnapping, but his anxiety got in the way and he was unable to carry out his duties (he soiled himself instead). The other goblins mocked him and eventually they just stopped associating with him entirely. Having just lost his job in addition to this, he had hit rock bottom and thus decided to start hanging out with us and joining us on stage. His role in the band is bringing a great energy to our live performances, but the main reason we allow him to do it is to boost his self-esteem. So far it hasn’t worked, but we keep trying anyways.

AL: Can you tell us why you feel Goblins are better than Trolls?
AA: Goblins are overall better at most things including casting nets, driving vans, making threats, and solving crossword puzzles. The only thing trolls are better at is sitting under bridges in Scandinavia while listening to black metal.

AL: What can we expect from the bands upcoming release “power” and is the band planning to shoot any videos for any of the songs from the EP?
AA: The “Power” EP contains five songs that sound like a mixture between crutch step, vomit rock, and laugh core. As far as filming video go we have already completed one and have plans to film another later this year.

AL: Will the band be out on tour in support of the release?
AA: Yes. The plan for us is to tour the greater Los Angeles area for about two months first. After that we plan to be out on the road hitting everywhere else.

Alex Hirsch talks about recent trip to get inspiration for Disney’s “Gravity Falls”

Photo by Todd Wawrychuk

Alex Hirsch is the creator/executive producer/star of “Gravity Falls”. The show is currently airing its first season on Disney Channel and has already developed a huge fanbase since it started airing. Alex and his creative team recently took a trip to Oregon to gain inspiration and to discover new hidden treasures including a few fun “tourist traps” for upcoming episodes of the show. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Alex and ask him his top five discoveries/hidden gems from his trip and how he may incorporate them in the show.

Mike Gencarelli: Let’s chat about why you took a recent trip to Oregon with your crew of “Gravity Falls”?
Alex Hirsch: Our art director, Ian (Worrel), is having a baby and I am keeping my fingers crossed for a second season, which is sort of like having a baby. So we both realized that our lives are basically going to be over soon and that we should do a fun trip with the crew while we still have the time. So we booked a big ‘ole van and got twelve of our “Gravity Falls” artists to pile in. We even went to Party City to get glow sticks, disco lights and did the whole thing up right. We basically went up US Route 101 and spent four days visiting this stretch of road between California and Oregon that is known for having some of the craziest tourist traps on this coast. We just went up to the Southern tip of Oregon and back down hitting every single one of those. We were staying in weird hotels, eating at “Twin Peaks” style diners, taking photos for reference and basically goofing off as much as possible!

MG: Tell us about your top five discoveries/hidden gems from the trip?
AH: I would have to say that the most amazing thing we saw on this trip was called Trees of Mystery in Klamath, CA. Everyone knows this due to the lumberjack and the big Babe the Blue Ox on the road. It is huge and can be seen from a mile away and most people think that that is all it is. But in fact, it is just a facade for this great and incredible redwood forest. It looks like the kind of thing that would dwarf even some dinosaurs. It is beautiful, strange and filled with lumberjack lore. There are these bizarre wooden sculptures with the faces of famous lumberjacks carved into them. It sounds like I am promoting it but literally, I want to have my wedding here. It was beautiful. That was probably my absolute favorite place that we visited.

We also visited two tourists traps, so this would be two and three: The Oregon Vortex, at the Southern tip of Oregon and Confusion Hill, at the tip of California. Both of them are of the Mystery Shack mold. Basically they show you a weird slanted shack where a ball will roll uphill and people look like they are growing or shrinking based on where they stand in the shack. Depending who the tour guide is they will tell you it is an unbelievable dimensional spot in the universe where the laws of gravity don’t work…or they say “Yeah, it’s an optical illusion…buy a keychain!” There are different takes on it. I would say that “The Oregon Vortex” is more for people that are hardcore into this stuff and want to believe. Confusion Hill is more for people with a sense of humor and more of Grunkle Stan-type scenario.

The fourth one is It’s a Burl, in Northern California. It was almost like a mirage. I almost don’t believe that it existed. There was this little old dude that wore a newsy baseball cap and drove a golf cart. It was this enormous campus of treehouses and wood carvings that him and his hippie commune had built themselves. It can’t really be described. It can really only been seen. I actually bought, and this is my favorite souvenir, this phone made out of wood. It is a trunk of tree cut in half with buttons coming out of it. It is something that a gnome king would use to wage war on another gnome king. It is sitting on my desk. I haven’t figured out how to use it but it is pretty amazing.

The fifth thing is that we stayed at this place called the Benbow Inn. It is this spooky hotel that looks like it is from “The Shining”. It is out in the middle of the woods. It is huge, very fancy and ornate. It also is said to have a lot of ghost legends. I asked the waiter where we were having dinner to talk to me about the ghosts and he sort of went white and said “You really don’t want to know”. But we had a lot of fun running around taking photos of ourselves re-enacting scenes from “The Shining” in that hotel.

MG: Are you able to tell us how these items from your trip will be incorporated into the show?
AH: I’ll say that it is highly likely that a very large inanimate lumberjack could come to life in the series. After visiting that attraction, it has sort of been haunting my dreams and the things in my nightmares usually make their way into the series. So that is entirely possible. One thing that surprised me greatly was that when we visited Confusion Hill was how many things that we didn’t know have already been put into the show. There were a lot of strange parallels. Grunkle Stan is sort of this old guy that is into Grandpa humor, like the kind of plaques and T-shirts you find at a bait and tackle store. There was this episode, [speaking in Grunkle Stan’s voice] “I’ve got the complaint department here” and he holds up a trash can. Sure enough at Confusion Hill, there was something that said “Press this button” and it was a mouse trap. There was also an episode where he says [speaking in Grunkle Stan’s voice] “Look behind this curtain to see the most terrifying monsters” and it was a mirror. They had they exact attraction at Confusion Hill. I was shocked at how well we managed to psychically pick up on this corny tourist trap humor that really exists. Just being up in those trees and seeing nature, I feel that it really reinvigorated our artists. We got a chance to see how beautiful the Pacific Northwest really is. We will probably explore the woods more as well in future episodes, since we were really inspired by them.

MG: You not only work as creator/executive producer but also voice Grunkle Stan, Soos, Old Man McGucke and various others. What is your biggest challenge?
AH: I would say the top five most challenging and important tasks for me on the show is writing, writing, writing, writing and writing. Then everything else sort of falls underneath that. My primary role is to make sure that the stories and the characters feel like they are from the same voice and each episode has something for the characters and also a piece of magic that we haven’t seen before. Beyond that there are so many things from working with the artists on the design to doing the voices to final mix and directing the actors. It is a huge responsible and a ridiculously difficult job. So it was nice to get to spend four days doing absolutely nothing on this trip. Our crew is really a big group of friends and we all have this great bond. It was just very fun to spend time with friends and we really bonded well. It is sort of this amazing culture that we have created at Disney of young talent like-minded weirdo crazy artists that like to have fun and then work really really hard on something.

MG: Are you surprised with the success and following of this show after only a few episodes into the first season?
AH: That blew me away. I had very humble expectations about what would happen with the series. It is an unusual kind of show and there really isn’t a model for it. Just the fact that it is a half-hour animated comedy in the kids show genre. I mean those do not exist. These kids shows are 11-minutes like “Adventure Time”, “Spongebob” and…you name it. Those are short formed shows. Doing a longer show and one with some continuity, each episode has a little bit left over with a broader story to be told, all those things are huge experiments. I tried them because they were hard and I wasn’t sure if I could do them. But I wanted to try and pull them off because that made it interesting. I have worked on other 11-minute shows and I respect those. But I have seen them already so I wanted to try something new. I have been really just humbled and grateful from the fan response to this show. I get fan letters everyday and I feel like Santa Claus when I come to my office and there is a stack of letters. I have been doing my best to write back to each physical letter that comes to my desk that someone has taken out the time to write. I just got one recently from Japan. People also send me some amazing stuff. I got a few sewed gnomes that someone made by hand. A kid built an actual Mystery Shack and it is the size of a TV. The kid and his father actually drove to the studio and left it for me. I was on vacation at the time and I returned to my desk to see an actual Mystery Shack on my desk. Our fans are just amazing. My theory was that if you fill the show with secrets and hidden stuff and gave people a reason to pay close attention, then they would. My theory turned out to be more right than I had ever imagined. I am very grateful for it.

MG: Well, the first season is amazing and I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with next.
AH: I appreciate that. I will say that there are four episodes left in this first season. I would say that this series has some mystery, continuity and there is this broader underlying story. They found this mysterious journal…who wrote it? Grunkle Stan has secrets of his own. Gideon is up to something. A lot of those big questions, those series mysteries, will finally be addressed in the final episodes leading to the end of the first season. I think fans are going to be pretty excited to see the answers to those questions and also some of the new questions that arise out of those. So keep watching!

"Alex Cross" DVD Giveaway [ENDED]

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To celebrate the DVD release of “Alex Cross”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway a copy of the film on DVD. If you would like to win this great prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite Tyler Perry film. This giveaway will be open until February 15th. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Media Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Don’t miss Tyler Perry in a “role like we have never seen him” (BOXOFFICE) when Alex Cross arrives on Blu-ray Disc (plus Digital Copy and UV), DVD (plus Digital Copy and UV), Digital Download, Video On Demand and Pay-Per-View on February 5 from Summit Entertainment, a LIONSGATE company. The latest installment in the Alex Cross series features Tyler Perry (Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds), Matthew Fox (TV’s “Lost”), Edward Burns (Man On A Ledge), Rachel Nichols (Conan the Barbarian) and Jean Reno (The Da Vinci Code).

Based on the novel “Cross” by James Patterson and popularized by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, Tyler Perry takes over as Dr. Alex Cross, a homicide detective/psychologist with the Detroit Police Department. Cross meets his match in a dangerous serial killer (Fox). The two face off in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but when the mission gets personal, Cross is pushed to the edge of his moral and psychological limits. With a screenplay by Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson; the film is directed by Rob Cohen.

The pulse-pounding crime thriller is from the director of The Fast and the Furious and arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD packed with bonus materials including a director’s commentary, deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Testament’s Alex Skolnick talks about upcoming book and working with Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Alex Skolnick is best known as the guitarist for the legendary thrash metal band Testament.  Alex also performs with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and his jazz group The Alex Skolnick Trio. Media Mikes caught up with Alex on the floor of the New York Comic Con to discuss his upcoming book.

Adam Lawton: What led to your decision of writing a book?
Alex Skolnick: I have wanted to write a book for years as I am a fan of books. For a long time I had thought that if the music thing ever got too difficult to deal with I would look to literature as an option. I would never slow down on music and guitar playing but the music business is tough. The business side of things is completely separate from the music itself. It is very challenging and there are a lot of perils. I actually have ideas for several books in my head. I think the first one that I wrote had to be very personal and about me. I have lots of other ideas and eventually would like to branch in to fiction. This first book is really sort of a memoir. I am inspired by memoir/autobiographical books. This book has been a long time coming but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I really buckled down to get this out. This is a legitimate story that I think will appeal to more than just guitar and rock fans. In the book I talk about the high levels of resistance I encountered as a youth. I come from an academic family and I really rebelled against them by joining a band in high school. That was an amazing and very defining moment for me. I played with Testament the first time from the ages of 16 to 23. During those years you do a lot of growing and a lot of musicians are just beginning their careers at 23. I did my first album at 18. The book segway’s from my childhood and adolescence into joining the band which would become Testament. Our story is a bit different as we didn’t have a hit record with a set career path. This was a band that every album was a struggle. We got a lot of respect from the fans but never really from the industry. We never had gold/platinum records or won a Grammy yet we existed.

AL: Did you find writing the book was similar in any ways to writing music?
AS: Yes. Absolutely! Physically the process is very different. I would imagine if you compared different types of sports and how you play them there are differences however there is also some overlap. You get in to similar zones. What I found between guitar playing and writing is there’s this inspiration process that happens. With music you can try and get inspired by listening to music or going to concerts. Sometimes the best ideas come when you pick up your instrument after not playing for awhile and a great idea comes out. You just have to capture those ideas and with writing it was very similar. Usually the ideas are completely un-presentable in their raw form. I would just write page after page of stuff I wouldn’t want anyone to ever see but after awhile within those pages some pretty cool stuff starts happening. From there you have to go back and pick the best parts. It’s the same thing with music. You are hopefully trying to create some result. You have to do this quite a few times and abandon some huge chunks. Though this can be hard it is very important to de-clutter things. This process requires a lot of humility.

AL: Will fans get to see you out on tour with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra this year?
AS: I won’t be going out with them this year. I just have so much going on with Testament right now. The band is scheduled to go to Europe and the UK this coming year for some shows and we are also booked to go to India as well. My book is going to be coming out right around this same time so I have some things in the works to promote that as well. I worked with Trans-Siberian Orchestra for 9 seasons which was great but it was a lot. Ultimately all the projects I have going on right now I am more closely tied to.

Film Review “Alex Cross”

Starring: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox and Rachel Nichols
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 41 mins
Summit Entertainment

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When you’re best known for playing a sassy black grandmother it takes a lot of guts to step into shoes formerly worn by Morgan Freeman. So right off the bat I have to give Tyler Perry a tip of the hat. And he more than earns it as he steps into the title role of “Alex Cross.”

Detective (and Dr.) Alex Cross and his team (Tommy (Edward Burns) and Monica (Nichols) have been called in to solve the torture/murder of a mysterious woman. Clues left behind point to a future victim, who is saved by the group but not before inflicting some whip-ass on the law. As a way of reassuring himself, and the team, Cross informs the others that, based on his information, there will be no retribution for their attempts at foiling the bad guy! Wrong, Alex. Shall we say…dead wrong?

Based on the character and popular novels created by James Patterson, “Alex Cross” is a familiar story for those who have read them. Here, instead of Washington D.C. the trio work for the Detroit police department. All have things going on in their lives. Tommy and Monica have been quietly dating for the past couple months, something that is obviously frowned on upon in the department. Alex has been offered a job with the FBI, but it means uprooting his family. So with all of this happening they are assigned the duty of protecting Leon Mercier (Jean Reno), a French businessman who may or may not be a target. Let the game of cat and mouse begin.

Before I go any further let me answer the big question – …Yes. Though he hasn’t yet attained the quiet gravitas that Morgan Freeman brings to almost every role, Perry is fine as Cross. Part Batman, part John McClane – Perry’s Cross does not have toned abs or a chiseled face, which makes him even more believable. On the other side, “Lost” star Matthew Fox is downright terrifying as a killer who believes in giving his clients their money worth. His eyes sunken and dark, Fox appears to have lost almost all of his body fat, making his frame long and sinewy. A role that could have been played so broadly is nailed perfectly. Director Cohen, who has helmed movies ranging from “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” to the original “Fast and the Furious,” keeps the action moving and earns extra points for featuring a climactic scene inside an old and crumbling movie theatre. The story is pretty much by the book, with the good guy and bad guy matching wits as if playing a deadly chess game. Some of the plot points do tend to go astray but for the most part the story stays on point and makes you look forward to a second chapter.

Interview with Chronicle’s Alex Russell

Alex Russell is one of the stars of the recently released found footage superhero movie, “Chronicle”.  Alex plays the role of Matt Garetty in the film.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Alex about working on the film and his character.

Mike Gencarelli: What did you think about the script for “Chronicle”, when you first read it?
Alex Russell: Well when the script for “Chronicle” was sent to me, I didn’t even have an appointment scheduled.  It was just a read for interest.  I read about 20-25 pages…lost my mind, called my agent and said “Please please please, you gotta get me into this”.  Then I hung up read the rest of the script and called up again to make sure I stressed I had to get in for it.  It was an incredible script.  It was so tight and slick but at the same time it was so seamless and naturalistic in the dialogue.  The story was unlike anything I have ever read. I never read anything like this before. It was just so original.

MG: What drew you to the character of Matt Garetty?
AR: Well the boring answer is, what drives any of the three stars to their roles?…would be that it is teenage guys with telekinesis, which is incredible.  What makes it extra alluring and attractive is that it is this wonderful wish fulfillment.  You get to play someone with superpowers, something you wanted to do since you were 6 years old.  Teamed with these incredible powers are these characters that are layered with complex beautiful relationships.  It is everything that you can ask for an artist to sink your teeth into.

MG: What was your biggest challenge working on the film?
AR: The biggest aspect is that it is a found footage film and shooting in that genre means that the camera is always on you. You would have a scene that is 90 seconds long and you have to hit all of the beats from beginning of the scene till the end. You have to also make it feel naturalistic and hit the marks.  It is very difficult to have that kind of consistency in acting. It is like theater, there is no cuts to hide behind.  When you team that with special effects, wire works or having to fly off in the middle of your scene, it is a difficult combination.  So that was the most challenging for me keeping to keep those things together.

MG: Tell us about the flying scenes in the film?
AR: I thought they did such an amazing job.  The special effects are amazing. with the flying like every other special effect in the film, the motto from the crew was to be practical first and CG later. We had incredible wire work.  I was going to work in downtown Cape Town and getting hoisted up 10 stories…I get this incredible view then they call “Action” and I get dropped 4 stories in a few seconds.  That kind of thing was exhilarating for me as an actor but it is also that much less you have to act since it is already there for you.

MG: How was it working with Dane DeHaan and Michael B. Jordan?
AR: Man, those guys are legends.  They are just great.  They were wonderful to work with and wonderful to play with.  We had so much fun shooting in Cape Town.  We had a blast but when it was time to work, all of us worked.  Everyone involved in this production worked the hardest and worked 6 days a week. Everyone was on the same page and had the same goal.

MG: What else do you have planned for 2012?
AR: I got some things on the boil that I am pretty excited about.  I don’t want mention them because they are being locked in.  I am an actor though man, I can always do with more work.  I see this year panning out pretty great for me and I am ready to work hard.

MG:

Interview with Michael Berryman

Berryman is probably best known for his role as Pluto in Wes Craven’s 1977 horror film “The Hills Have Eyes” and the 1985 sequel “The Hills Have Eyes Part II”. He has also made appearances in “Weird Science”(1985), and the Academy Award-winning drama “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975). In 2005, he appeared in Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects”. MovieMikes asked Michael a few questions about his career and talked about his favorite genres and his passions besides movies and most importantly his love of craft service on a movie set.

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Mike Gencarelli: “The Hills Have Eyes” was your first major role. Did you have any idea that your were making a film that three decades later still ranks as one of the great horror films of all time?

Michael Berryman: To tell the truth, I didn’t. I was just happy to have another job. When I read the script it was called “Blood Relations,” which was the name of the company. Then it was changed to “The Hills Have Eyes.” And, having talked to Wes (Wes Craven, the writer/director of “The Hills Have Eyes”) about the McBain family and learning that the story was mostly true, I thought “OK, this is not really a monster movie…it’s about two families.” It was hot in the daytime, cold at night. Very physical. A lot of the people in what we called the “White Bread Family”…Dee Wallace….the guy that played Bobby (Robert Houston)….they were a little more citified. Which kind of fit. I mean, everyone on our side, the Hills family, had done Westerns and rough and tumble parts. So it kind of lent itself to a natural selection as far as having the two sides – protagonist and antagonist. No, I had no clue at all that it would be a classic. Wes was just getting going after “Last House on the Left” and, actually, nobody had ever heard of anybody in the cast at all. We all just threw ourselves into it. I wanted to make Pluto as real to life as possible. And we got lucky. It hit. The drive-ins helped. It created some controversy. By today’s standards it’s not very bloody or gory…not a lot of special effects. So I’m very proud that after thirty years it has those other elements to fall back on.

Mike Gencarelli: You appear as a patient in the Oscar winning Best Picture “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Any favorite memory from working on the film?”

Michael Berryman: Many. Many. I worked 127 days on that masterpiece. We had two weeks of rehearsal with camera on the major scenes. Blocking and just trying to get a feel for it. And during the two weeks all of the main actors, including myself, had to spend time with the real patients on different wards (note: the film was shot on location at the Oregon State Mental Hospital, which was open and operational at the time). We even went to the criminally insane ward which was on the third floor. And with a guard at the door looking through the window there were moments where we spent a half hour…up to an hour with the patients. One fellow had been committed because he had, unfortunately, burned down a church. We looked at his art work. It was a very strange place with these individuals whose lives weren’t like yours and mine. But it gave us a nice insight into what really goes on. My father having been a prominent brain surgeon (Dr. Sloan Berryman was a very distinguished neurosurgeon)…that helped also because I had been around doctors and nurses my whole life. And then Jack Nicholson…this is what made him. It got him his first Oscar. He was still pretty well known. And having filmed at a real hospital was kind of cool. We were all hoping that Ken Kesey (author of the novel) would drop by but he was pretty dissatisfied with the screenplay (the script, by Bo Goldman and Laurence Hauben, won the Academy Award) because it wasn’t through the eyes of the Chief (in the book, the story unfolds through the eyes of Chief Bromden). But all in all it was very impressive to me. The hand picked crew…everybody now has a legacy behind them and I was just proud to be a part of it. The days I had off I was still on the set watching so I could learn my craft. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the lighting and the blocking…how you do coverage.

Mike Gencarelli: What did you think about the recent remake of “The Hills Have Eyes?” Have you seen it?

Michael Berryman: Yes I have. I was at a sneak premiere at a film festival and then I was at the red carpet event in Los Angeles. It was great to see Dee (Wallace) and Wes (Craven) and everybody. I liked the beginning of the film quite a bit. It had a nice feel to it…a nice atmosphere. But after about 20 minutes it became obvious to me that the movie was losing its dramatic impact…the relationship between the two families as individuals dealing with other members of their own family…I thought it fell apart and it turned into a chase film. I thought it basically turned into a video game. And then the second remake…I have no interest in even watching it. I thought they were pretty weak. And I know they were financially successful but I’m an artist first and, while I always want my projects to do well so I can make subsequent films, all in all I was pretty dissatisfied with the remakes. Of course they’re remaking everything these days and some are better than others. I just didn’t care for these remakes. They could have been better.

MG: Your role in “Weird Science” was a change of pace. At first you seem to be your usual villain but, once you’ve been rebuked, you meekly ask “Can we keep this…between us? I’d hate to lose my teaching job.” Was that line in the script or something you and John Hughes came up with on set?

MB: That was actually something John Hughes (writer/director of “Weird Science”) and I came up with on a whim. I was talking to him on set while they were setting up the shot for my close up and he said, “Hey, Michael, I’m going to end with you. What do you think these guys do when they’re not out terrorizing kids on the weekend? So we kind of kicked it around and we thought it would be kind of neat if he was a school teacher. This was sort of his chance, by proxy…because Kelly’s (LeBrock, who plays Lisa, the “doll” the boys create) character zapped us in…it wasn’t our idea…it gave us an opportunity to mess with these kids, which is kind of neat because most school teachers get a lot of razzing…get a lot of grief from high school kids. That’s how that scene came about. And John was just tremendous…tremendous to work with.

MG: Which do you prefer doing, horror films or more mainstream ones?

MB: I don’t really have a preference, honestly. I like it all. I just finished the last couple scenes for the new “Scooby Doo” movie playing a zombie, but I got to sing and dance. So there’s a mixture of comedy – slash – pseudo horror and making it all work. I don’t have a particular preference but I do have to say in my library growing up as a kid, being a big fan of films, I loved the monster films. I loved the Universal Horror classics. I loved the “Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits.” Especially because of their content. They were social commentary about situations that you could hide under the guise of…protagonist – antagonist…situations where your average person has to figure out what choices are most important for them. At an earlier age, of course, I loved Superman. I wanted to have super powers like every other kid. But I really appreciated the misunderstanding of the monsters. Now when you have a monster that pretty much just capitulates, like the one in the Korean film “The Host”. The monster wasn’t one you could have a dialogue with or get a lot of back story. I consider that a monster film in the classic sense. I thought it was a beautiful film, I really liked it. But I don’t have a preference. If somebody waved a magic wand and said you can only do one kind of film…gosh…I’d have to say sci-fi because it embraces all the other elements. But if it’s a good script and its well put together and we have a good crew… as long as there are good craft services catering I’m happy. That’s true. They say an army runs on it’s belly but a production company runs on craft service.

MG: What are your passions besides acting?

MB: My biggest passions? The first one is humanity. I’m huge on the basic theme…if you look at the back of the jacket that I wear all the time. And I wear it for a reason. It’s a Hard Rock Café jacket and the back reads “Love all. Serve all. All is one.” That’s kind of my philosophy of life. That is the most important. And that gives us room for civility to do continued good work. For instance Paul Newman, who I met while I was doing “The Crow,” invited me to get involved with his camp for kids that have their faces and skulls reconstructed and it’s all paid for through his philanthropic organization. I’ve been to his camp a number of times. I also lived at the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary for a number of years. The website is wolfmountainsanctuary.org. There’s also a woman whose been saving the Santa Cruz Island horses off the coast of California. It’s called Sunshine Sanctuary and they work with troubled kids. They let them come up and interact with the horses and they have an opportunity to make a difference. (www.sunshinesanctuary.org) I work with local charities. I’m a reader for blind college students. I’ve volunteered at many drug and alcohol programs through my friends in law enforcement. I think it’s important for the artists in the community to make a difference, especially if you have a recognizable face and/or name. People follow your career and there’s so much more to it than just making a paycheck and telling stories and buying expensive toys. I would love to be a gazillionaire. I would set my family up but I would also take a lot of the money and set it aside. I would be a philanthropist. That would be my ultimate goal. I have horses at home, I’m an avid gardener, I love to cook. I’ll sum it up by saying I can’t live in a world without garlic and chocolate.

MG: Do you enjoy attending conventions and meeting your fans?

MB: Absolutely. I think they’re really cool events. I’ve been splitting it up 50/50 pretty much. Half of the events I go to are film festivals where I do the meet and greet…well, I’m usually out meeting and greeting so I don’t get to see all of the films I would like to. If there were two of me, one would be out at the table (greeting fans) and the other one would be watching every movie being shown. I’ve talked to a couple of people who put the events together and I’ve told them it would be great if they put all of the film submissions in a collectors set so they could be available for the fans. I’ve been to festivals in Indianapolis…Texas…Canada…all over. It’s really exciting to meet people who are just getting their feet wet. The themes and subject matter are usually a lot more varied than what you see from the studios. I really enjoy my fans and I appreciate them very much. And they know that. I also get to meet actors that I’m really keen on…people whose work I’ve watched over the years. I may have never gotten to work with them but it’s nice to meet them…hang out at the hotel and maybe have a drink or a bite to eat. I think the conventions are wonderful. If anyone reading this hasn’t gone to one, I highly recommend it. Get out of the house and go…you’ll have a lot of fun.

MG: What can you tell me about your upcoming role in “Below Zero 3D?” Are you excited to be in 3D?

MB: I’m totally stoked. I just finished up the paperwork. I have a son who’s a serial killer. It’s sort of a “Fargo” esque story where a screenwriter gets locked into a meat locker so he can get into the mood to write his screenplay. It’s a three part story with a couple of nice twists to it. I’ve noticed that 3D is becoming pretty popular and they’re doing it different then before so maybe it will really be fantastic. I like the script a lot. It should be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to going to Canada and shooting it.

MG: Any other projects you have coming up?

MB: A movie called “Stingy Jack.” We’re hoping the project gets green lit soon. I’ll play the title role. I can’t say too much about it…it’s kind of top secret! But it’s a really, really, really cool script. I’m just very grateful to make new contacts. People who are trying to put together their companies and create a library of good work so we can continue doing what we love to do, and that’s entertain…tell stories. It’s one of the oldest art forms in the world and I’m proud to be a part of it. Thanks to (legendary filmmaker) George Pal who gave me my first role. I’m really excited. I just want to pack my bags, head up to Canada and have a great time doing “Below Zero.”

Click here to purchase Michael’s movies

Interview with Chuck Williams

Chuck has appeared opposite Bruce Campbell in Don Coscarelli’s “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “The Carbon Copy” with Jonathan Breck. Also “Bryan Loves You” with Tony Todd and George Wendt. Chuck has also performed lead roles in “Groom Lake”, “Soultaker”, “Up Against The Eight Ball”, “Double Blast” with Linda Blair as well as countless other films and television shows, including “The Young and the Restless”. He has worked as an assistant director alongside such Hollywood heavyweights as James Cameron, Rob Cohen, Kathryn Bigelow, John Badham, Penelope Spheeris, Jonathan Kaplan, David Fincher, Jim Kouf and a host of others. MovieMikes talked with Chuck about his fantastic career, which shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Click here to purchase Chuck’s movies

Mike Gencarelli: You’ve starred in numerous low-budget horror films, is that your favorite genre?
Chuck Williams: No, not really, I love all kinds of films….especially romantic comedies. It’s just easier for everyone to raise the money to make horror movies and that seems to be the most kinds of films that filmmakers ask me to be in. I remember in the beginning of my career, my mom would ask me “Are you ever going to star in a movie you don’t die in?”…LOL

Mike Gencarelli: Tell me about your involvement with the show “The Girls Next Door”?
Chuck Williams: I was asked to come on the show and produce a horror movie with Bridget Marquardt. She is an amazing, talented woman. She truly loves horror and scary films. So we developed a movie called “The Telling” that she also starred in with her friend Holly Madison. We had a blast and shot a lot of it at the Playboy Mansion thanks to Hugh Hefner. It now is playing on The Movie Channel.

MG: You’ve taken on many roles, actor, producer, writer, directer, what is your favorite job on the set of a movie?
CW: My favorite is always acting. That is why I came out to Hollywood. But I knew if I learned the craft of making films, I would always work. I want to be in this business for a long time like Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood and they both learned how to make movies!

MG: What was like working the film “Bubba Ho-Tep” and with Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell?
CW: One of the best experiences in my life. I love Don. He is a great writer and director. Bubba Ho-Tep is one of those films like Spinal Tap or Rocky Horror Picture Show…It will live forever. The fans love that movie and so do I. Bruce is the King….while on set in front of the camera or behind, he never broke character. As he would always say, “Thank you, thank you very much….now lets get something to eat boys.”

MG: What was your craziest experience on a film set?
CW: Working as a assistant director on the cult classic movie “Near Dark” directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow. Long and cold nights, great cast and for some reason, we kept blowing up things that would knock out the power in the middle of the night of this small little town in Arizona…LOL They were happy to see us leave…I mean, imagine waking up more than once and finding out your not going to have hot coffee in the morning.

MG: If you have all the means necessary, what would be your dream project?
CW: Well, I have always been an independent filmmaker, which I think that keeps the game interesting. But if I had 200 million dollars to make my dream project, I would make a film that makes people laugh!

If you would like to contact Mr. Williams directly, feel free to send him an email at:
chuckwilliamsfanclub@yahoo.com

www.chuckwilliamsfanclub.com
www.myspace.com/chuckwilliamsfanclub
www.facebook.com/chuckwilliamsfanclub

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Exclusive Interview with Amelia Kinkade

Amelia Kinkade, although known for her more prominent role as the Angela Franklin in the horror series “Night of the Demons” and its sequels. That was only the start of Amelia amazing journey. Besides being a champion level dancer, Amelia has written two pet psychic books and she is a practicing animal communicator. Amelia gives lectures, classes and book discussions have all around the world. Thanks to Neal DeConte, who is creating a figurine of Amelia as Angela from “Night of the Demons” for his company, Horror Idols (revealed this July at Famous Monsters Convention), MovieMikes was able to ask Amelia a few questions about her days as an actress and more importantly her current work which is her true passion. During this interview Amelia realized that “There CAN be a lovely cross-over between the horror lovers and the spiritual animal lovers.”

Click here to purchase Amelia’s books
Click here to purchase “Night of the Demons” films

Mike Gencarelli: You majored in dance and was featured in films and rock videos? Is dance still apart of your life?
Amelia Kinkade: If I didn’t still dance, I’d be lying on my back in an insane asylum dancing on the walls with crayons between my toes. I am a champion level salsa dancer, I’m proud to say, after many years of humiliation on the ballroom dance-floor. Salsa is a BLAST and I recommend it to all my students no matter how much they think they can’t dance. Dance is an outlet of joy, release, gratitude, and respect for these amazing bodies God gave us, no matter what shape we think we’re in or how critical we may be of ourselves. I trained all my life as a professional ballerina and jazz dancer, quit for many years after my Demon’s days, went into a horrid depression and realized I couldn’t live without the hope and joy that dance brings into my life. I decided to get my groove back on in my early thirties and and one of the reasons I moved to NYC was because I can still dance like a bat out of hell. I needed the best dance studio in America where I can smoke every nineteen year old Broadway star off the map. I found it. Good times! If I had any shame, I’d feel terrible about this. But I taught for years in Hollywood, and I can still ROCK IT.

Mike Gencarelli: You starred as Angela Franklin in the “Night of the Demons” franchise, did you enjoy planning the character?
Amelia Kinkade: Does a bear shit in the woods? Does the Pope eat fish on Friday? I got paid to get possessed and kill everybody. In my early 20’s, I was still doing this on a monthly basis, but not getting paid for it. These movies allowed a rare glimpse of my PMS before I had my monthly dose of Midol.

Mike Gencarelli: Do you have a favorite moment from the set of the films?
Amelia Kinkade: “I was just warming my hands over the fire!”


Mike Gencarelli: How do you feel about the franchise being remade planned for release this Halloween?
Amelia Kinkade: I didn’t know it was! But thanks for telling me! As long as I get my .0000000000002 % maybe I’ll have enough money to buy some cat food for my hilarious funky half-dead ol’ Persian, Doc!

MG: After you starred in “Night at the Demons III”, why did you stop acting?
AK: I got the calling to work with animals and write my first book. Divine Intelligence took over my life and it was time to allow my destiny to be more important than my history–a lesson I now teach in at least 12 countries all over the world every year. Working as an actress was a mindless cake-walk. Working with tigers in Thailand, elephants, cheetah, sacred White Lions, Great White Sharks, penguins, baboons, jaguars and giraffes in Africa as the human monkeys destroy their environment and exploit them off the face of the planet is not a mindless cake-walk. It’s time to take responsibility for our world and the other living creatures on it that we were put here to protect and champion. If my movie career can help position my work as an animal ambassador, I’ll run naked through the streets. What do you think THAT would do for my reputation? Grin You know that saying, “Good girls go to Heaven. Bad girls go everywhere?” Well, it’s true. But maybe this bad girl can get some GOOD things done in this world. If my fans join hands with me, we’ll have a better chance. The movies were “fun.” Rolling around with tigers and diving with Great White sharks is ecstatic. And even if the animals are in pain, and most are, the work is REWARDING, so I can go to sleep every night knowing I made a difference in the world. I’m not the one wearing the fangs anymore. I’m loving the ones with the real fangs, and it’s a LOT more fun than pretending I have fangs of my own.

MG: When did you first realize that you have the ability to hear and speak to animals?
AK: I wrote a book about this called “Straight From the Horse’s Mouth: How to Talk to Animals and Get Answers”. In my Demon days, when I was 24, I took a workshop that was the seed of what I now teach. When it came time to try to actually “do it,” I was convinced I’d be the only person in the entire room who couldn’t do it. But when we were asked to “tune in” to a dog, I started writing pages and pages of notes, crying hysterically. The teacher asked us is the dog we were trying to connect with had ever had puppies. Suddenly the dam burst between me and the dog and I “became” her for a moment. In the vision, I WAS the dog, like being in a movie clip, in holographic 3D. I could see and touch the nose of my great love through a chain link fence. He was a big black doberman mix who lived next door and I was living in a trailer home that had a huge pine tree in front. The human got divorced and took “me” away from the only dog I ever loved. Then she got “me” fixed so that I couldn’t have puppies. Emotionally, I was heart-broken. The level of grief was over-whelming, but I knew I had to be loyal to my human owner. I looked down and saw the huge incision on my belly and felt the agonizing pain. The pain was devastating, both physically and emotionally. Then inside my mind, I heard the dog say, “I couldn’t be a mother myself, so now I take care of all the neighborhood cats.”The woman who owned the dog burst into tears and confirmed everything I said, from the trailer to the pine tree to the big black dog next door. She kept saying, “Tell her I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” And she confirmed this huge pitbull mix herded all the neighborhood cats in the most loving way. That was the beginning of a shocking new career that has taken me all the way to Buckingham Palace to read the Queen’s Horses. I didn’t mean to do it. But God needed it done, so She chose to do it through me, and to tell you honestly, I didn’t have much choice in the matter.

MG: Tell me about the books you have written, “Straight From the Horse’s Mouth: How to Talk to Animals and Get Answers” and “The Language of Miracles: A Celebrated Psychic Teaches You to Talk to Animals”?
AK: It’s this mobility of consciousness that I now teach. Psychic ability is a learned skill, an innate part of our brain chemistry that only needs to be developed in order to function automatically like any of our other motor skills. In every workshop I teach all over the world, one of my first questions is, “How many of you think you’re going to be the only person in the room who CAN’T do this?” and almost every hand goes up. Then, I applaud their courage for coming. By the end of the seminar, almost ALL my students are able to download names: Names of the other animals at home, names of the other people at home, names of the neighbors, names of the animals’ medical conditions, names of the humans and animals in the household who have crossed over into Heaven and details that are absolutely impossible to dismiss. And it is often the most skeptical down-trodden students with the least amount of confidence who come out as the most SHINING professional psychics, because they are so humble and their ego doesn’t get in their way. Plus, if they question themselves constantly, they are all the more likely to push for more detail in their information and they get more accurate data. I’ve poured my heart and soul into my books and I’ve made my life an example of giving everything I’ve got to give in order to restore some peace to this planet and some comfort to Her animals—two and four-legged alike.

MG: You are currently on a world tour, how does it make you feel to be able to spread this gift all over the world?
AK: Tired. I’ve been on a world tour for eight years. I’ve got FOUR more world tours this year. That’s why I’ve chosen to start appearing in Horror Movie conventions here in the states. I’m willing to join forces with my horror fans who are also animal lovers and not have to fly all the way to Switzerland to find like-minded animal lovers who want to talk about Quantum Physics, Interspecies Communication, God, Spirit, life, and the future of the planet. My students in Europe share their inmost secrets with me, dance, and laugh, and cry with me. Maybe my horror fans will do that too, and Dorothy won’t have to fly all the way to Oz to get her rocks off.

MG: Are you excited about your return of the horror convention circuit this July at Famous Monsters Convention in Indianapolis?
AK: With bells on, baby.

MG: How do you feel being about becoming a figurine created by the company Horror Idols?
AK: The only thing my figurine can’t do that I’m doing is JUMP FOR JOY, but maybe we’ll work on that for the NEXT action figure/figurine.

Click here to purchase Amelia’s books
Click here to purchase “Night of the Demons” films

Interview with Steven C. Miller

Steven C. Miller wrote, edited, directed and even had a role in his first horror movie, “Automaton Transfusion”. The film made on a no budget but it looks like $5M dollar film. MovieMikes has the ability to ask Steven a few questions about his career so far. Keep an eye on Steven he will be the taking over the horror genre, no question.

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Mike Gencarelli: What were the main challenges you faced while making “Automaton Transfusion”?
Steven C. Miller: The biggest were obviously Time and Money. We had next to none of both. Its hard to make any movie in 9 days, but it gets even more challenging when you have less that 20k to do it with. We had to be extremely creative but ultimately I think that’s what gave us a unique little film. Other main challenges included– Locations, Make-up FX, and Exhaustion.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you feel when the film was picked up by Dimension Films?
Steven C. Miller: It was a huge honor for me. I felt like Dimension really brought back horror with the release of “Scream” back in the day and nothing thrilled me more, than to be in that library. They did an amazing job on the box art for the film and the overall marketing was fantastic.

Mike Gencarelli: You career started right out of film school, tell us about your road to success?
Well, I by no means think I am a success yet. I still see myself as learning and trying to perfect my craft. Anyway, I came to Hollywood right after film school (sleeping in my car/on friends sofas) and started Editing a few low budget horror films. I finally just got sick of all the crap I was seeing. It wasn’t necessarily the film makers fault, gotta pay the bills, but I always felt like there was no heart in those pictures. I wanted to make something that felt like “Evil Dead”. Something that had heart and showed a love for the genre. I gathered my friends Mark Thalman and William Clevinger and explained to them what I felt like we needed to do. They both agreed and we immediately contacted our film school. The school was on board and we were off to the races. Once “Automaton Transfusion” was finished, the journey of getting it bought seemed long, but eventually it landed at film festivals and ultimately at Dimension. It was an amazing time in my life and I will never forget it.

MG: Are you planning a follow-up to “Automaton”, if so can you tell us about it?
SM: I am. Its been in the works for a while now. Its the movie that ties up any loose ends or questions from the first film and leads into a whole new world for the third. It picks up where our characters were left for a brief moment before being thrust 5 years into the future. I can’t say too much because the script is just too exciting to spoil, but it will mix genres like nothing before. The biggest issue with the movie is the financing. It needs… well.. deserves a bigger budget than the first and that is always about timing. Its not a film I am going to just make for half a million bucks and hope it turns out good. Its something that I consider my Empire Strikes Back and I take it very seriously.

MG: Has horror movies always been your favorite genre? Do you see yourself ever making romantic comedy?
SM: I love all kinds. My favorite is really action. I always felt “Automaton Transfusion” was an action movie with horror elements. I also do love comedy. Horror and Comedy are very similar, its all about the timing. I would definitely do a romantic comedy if it was R rated and felt like something out of the 80s.

MG: Who is your inspiration for wanting to make movies?
SM: My biggest inspiration when I was growing up was Sam Raimi. It was amazing to me that he could be all over the genre map, from “Evil Dead” to “For The Love Of The Game” to “Spider-Man”.

MG: If you had any means necessary, what would be your dream project?
SM: I have a werewolf bank heist film called “Bad Moon Rising”, that if I had the chance, I would make in a instant.

MG: Tell me about your involvement with the proposed remake of “Motel Hell”?
SM: I was hired by MGM and Craig Perry to be the Director of the remake. There is a really fun script and Craig Perry has some killer ideas. The problem is that It’s at a stand still while MGM figures out there money situation. Its unfortunate that the movie hasn’t just been made. Its a great title and one of my favorite 80s flicks. Hopefully soon!

MG: What other projects do you have in development that you want to talk about?
SM: I’m in post production on my next feature for After Dark Films called “Scream of the Banshee”, which stars Lauren Holly and Lance Hendrickson. Its a fun little monster movie meets “The Ring”. It’s slated for a October theatrical release. I’m also working on a few things with various producers and Writers. I try to throw as many things as I can at the wall because eventually something will stick!

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Interview with Dante Tomaselli

Dante Tomaselli’s first film was a 23-minute short called, “Desecration”, which was expanded to feature length. The film received acclaim for its nightmarish visuals and became a cult horror classic. His second was a sequel titled, “Horror”, The film earned rave reviews in the horror world. Tomaselli third feature, “Satan’s Playground” was released in 2006 and featured an amazing group of cult-horror icons. MovieMikes has the opportunity to talk to Dante about his films and his what is in stop for the future.

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Mike Gencarelli: “Desecration” started off as a short film, how do you feel the film translated into a full length feature?
Dante Tomaselli: Not bad, considering it cost only $150, 000. “Desecration” was my first feature and I was still in my twenties.  It was 1999 and the genre was just finishing that God-awful cycle of “Scream”-like comedic horrors. My film premiered at the Fantafestival in Rome, Italy and then Image Entertainment picked it up for DVD distribution. It got some good notices in the horror world and art-house arena. Then came the Internet. Lots of press there. Lots of review sites popping up all over the place. That was around the time that the Internet was starting to replace newspapers and magazines as immediate media information and I felt I was riding the wave of something….

Mike Gencarelli: What was the biggest challenge making the full length “Desecration”?
Dante Tomaselli: Getting all the elements together…crew…actors…artists…money. Filmmaking is not like photography or painting. You can’t just have your paint brush and easel and display your vision. I needed to build a whole network of people around me. I’ve always been a mixture of shyness and occasional confidence, so socially, it was rough, but the film pokes through and leads the way. I think people around me understood that I meant business. The visions must be extracted. The film itself speaks and commands…and I’m the vessel, really. It was challenging creating my first feature…at the same time it came so naturally. After “Desecration” was released, I was hooked and deeply in love with making low budget movies….Film is a moving painting, a moving sculpture…a doorway to somewhere else…wow…I definitely felt that this was my destiny and I was on a mission. I wanted…needed…to make creative, intimate horror films.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell me about its follow-up “Horror”, what made you want to continue the story?
Dante Tomaselli: Horror was like a sequel to “Desecration”. It was a continuation of the eternally damned boy’s life. I was honing my craft. Even though I switched cinematographers and production designers from “Desecration”, “Horror” still retained my signature look…and sound. It was important for me to illustrate that I had a voice that was my own. I’m trying to construct a nightmare in which we experience the protagonist’s damnation. More than anything I wanted my films to be different, unique. Possibly I could have made a mainstream horror film…possibly…but instead I went the other way and created something crazier, wilder, and even more non-linear than Desecration”. “Horror”. My imagination was unhinged on “Horror”.

MG: You worked with a great cast in “Satan’s Playground” like Felissa Rose (“Sleepaway Camp”), Ellen Sandwiess (“Evil Dead”) and Edwin Neal (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”). What was it like working with them?
DT: Exhilarating. Looking back, I might have been a little too caught up in the horror fanboy dream of it all. It might have distracted me a bit from the film itself, sometimes. Ultimately, though I forged some actor director relationships that are enduring. Felissa was fun to work with; she really got into the part and put her heart into it. Ellen Sandweiss is a great friend and had one of the best roles in “The Evil Dead”, one of my favorite films. She was terrific…especially when her character’s baby was stolen. “Satan’s Playground” was her comeback after so many years. And Ed Neal, well, I am about to work with him again on my new film. He’s a really gifted performer, very underrated.

MG: Your films have all seem to involve religion undertones? Why?
DT: Well, I grew up in an Italian American Catholic household so it was unescapable. My older siblings all went to Catholic school and I went to Sunday School…or Catechism. And church. My religious grandmothers both lived in Paterson New Jersey, with all the Blessed Virgin Mary statues on the lawns and everything. A staple of Italian neighborhoods. It was a vibe all around me and I picked up on it. I remember, many times, being in church, on my knees, and chanting the prayers and zoning out and marveling at the architecture of the church and the eeriness of the church organ. I’m not a religious person. Spiritual? Yes. I’m more skeptical of organized religion. It causes wars and divides people. Certain religions thinking they know better than the other….It seems to have happened since the beginning of mankind and never stopped. Also, of course, sometimes the hypocrisy, the perversion of religion can be terrifying. I think organized religion could be the death of us. So yea, I fear it. In the end, though, my films are really about family.

MG: What made you want to get into the movie business? Is horror your favorite genre?
DT: Yes! I’m a lifelong horror film fanatic. Good horror films release serotonin in my brain. Growing up, my room was decorated like a Funhouse. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, for as long as I can remember. My notebook in school was filled with horror movie artwork and the titles of the films in their original font. Movies like…”Halloween”, “The Omen”, “Carrie”, “The Shining”, “Rosemary’s Baby”, “Tourist Trap”, “The Fog”, “Burnt Offerings”, “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death”, “The Sentinel”…When I’m inspired or in…the trance…I close my eyes and the images from the film I want to create are as clear as slides projected in my mind. And the sounds. It’s an all-out sensory take-over, like dreaming while wide awake. It’s been happening since I was really young and it’s like a faucet I can’t turn off. I fantasize for a living.   

MG: Your cousin, Alfred Sole, made “Alice, Sweet Alice”, would you ever consider remaking that film with him?
DT: I will be remaking that film. I have the rights from my cousin and he will work on it as well. It’s inevitable that all notable horror films will be remade so we want to beat others to the punch. It’s coming up.

MG: You are having a documentary made about you by filmmaker, Christopher Garetano, titled “The Horror of Dane Tomaselli”.  What can you tell us about this?
DT: You’d really have to talk to Chris about what he has in store because he’s totally in charge of it. He’ll be shooting the conclusion of the documentary soon, possibly next month.  I’ve seen clips and it’s like an out-of-body experience.  For me, it’s intense, hallucinogenic.

MG: What are your plans for the movie “Torture Chamber”?

DT: I’m ready to start shooting. We’re days away. It’s a horror shocker about a demonically possessed boy who escapes from a mental institution and discovers an old abandoned castle with a secret passageway to a cobwebbed torture chamber. It’s the first serious independent horror film in a while that’s in the vein of “The Exorcist”.

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Interview with Paul Solet

Paul Solet is the director of the recent horror film “Grace”. If you haven’t seen it, where have you been living under a rock?! The movie which started off as a short film tells about a pregnant Madeline (Jordan Ladd) which is involved in a car accident and doctors tell Madeline that her unborn child is dead. Madeline, desperate after trying to have a child for years, decides to carry her baby to term anyway. The child, a girl, initially appears stillborn. After a while, though, she seems to revive, and Madeline names her “Grace”. It soon becomes clear something is wrong with the baby and its cravings.

MovieMikes has a chance to ask Paul some questions about the movie and its journey to the big screen. Keep an eye out for Paul he already made a name for himself and its going to be one of Hollywood’s biggest directors very soon!

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Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally come up with the idea for the short “Grace”?
Paul Solet: The idea for GRACE comes from actual medical science. I had a conversation in which I learned that when a mother loses her unborn child, unless labor is artificially induced, the mother will often actually carry that baby to term. I just find the inherent drama and terror of that idea so remarkably potent. What better way to explore the power of motherhood and love, than through a physical merger with death?

Mike Gencarelli: Besides the “Grace” short, you were featured on “Fangoria’s Blood Drive 2”, How do you feel that making a short differs from feature?
Paul Solet: It’s the same exact thing at a different scale. You still need to tell a story in a compelling way, and the same concerns are always present. Shorts are wonderful. I really miss making them, but I seem to always be writing these days.

Mike Gencarelli: What was your involvement with Eli Roth and Adam Green while working on “Grace”?
Paul Solet: Adam produced the film, and was a very hands on presence. He and his partner Cory Neal were on set quietly putting out fires before I even knew they existed so we could just focus on the creative. Green has been through this type of run and gun low budget filmmaking four times now, so he understands in his blood what the challenges are, and it’s such a huge value having a producer that is also a director. Not to mention, if you need to drop a shot, Adam can just run a splinter unit and snag it and the day still gets made, and you know it’s going to be good. Eli didn’t work on GRACE, but he’s always an inspiration and an influence for me creatively.

MG: What was the biggest challenge in bringing it to the big screen?
PS: Time. We had 192 scenes to shoot in 17 short days. So, learning to embrace and exploit our limitations was key. It reinforced our allegiance to story and character over spectacle. The films that I love hold to that discipline, no matter how broad their available canvas. I think we’ve been faithful to that principle, with GRACE. I think there’s a tendency for younger filmmakers to become anxious to get something in front of a camera before it’s ready. I see development time as a filmmaker’s principle luxury, so I waited to find a home for the project until the script was as tight as I could get it and I had story boarded and shotlisted the entire project. I didn’t want there to be any questions I couldn’t answer truthfully when asked.

MG: The characters in your film are very intense and well written, how do you feel about the cast you worked with?
PS: I couldn’t have been happier with our cast. My Canadian casting director, Carmen Kotyk really brought in the best talent up there, and of course, Jordan is always wonderful. You always wish you had more time to rehearse, and more takes to shoot, but these guys have such chops they really can work within the confines of a schedule like this and still deliver something really breathtaking.

MG: After playing all over the world in theaters and festivals, anything you would have done differently?
PS: Not a thing. It’s been such wonderful ride for me. I got to got to Korea, and Scotland, and France and Spain, and hang out with some of the best filmmakers of our generation. I’m so immensely grateful for the film’s success and the support we’ve gotten from fans and critics. It’s really been magical.

MG: With one feature film you have made such a name for yourself in this business, how do you feel about that? Any pressure?
PS: There’s always some pressure, but I’ve been writing screenplays very seriously for almost ten years at this point, and making shorts and studying the craft of filmmaking since I was a kid, so it’s not like this happens overnight. I’m a real believer in hard work, and I have no intention of slacking. I’ll keep breaking my ass to give you the best I can give, and however it’s received is up to the universe.

MG: I am sure your fans want to know, what is your planned follow-up project?

PS: We haven’t announced yet, so I can’t say, but it’s going to be fucking terrifying.


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