Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider talks about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fames latest exhibit “Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics”

Dee Snider is the out spoken, wild hair front man of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister. Dee is currently one of the subjects in a recent exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame titled “Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics”. The exhibit showcases some of the most important debates of our country through the lens of rock music. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Dee recently about the exhibit, his thoughts on the country’s current political climate and the Twisted Sisters farewell shows scheduled for this fall.

Adam Lawton: How did you become involved with the current Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit “Louder Than Words”?

Dee Snider: As it turned out my involvement during the 1980’s in Washington was a significant rock and politics moment. They reached out to me to do an interview and afterwards asked if I had any items I could loan them for a display. I ended up donating some of the things I wore the day I testified before congress. After talking with them more I was invited to the opening of the event which evolved into me singing an acoustic version of “Were Not Gonna Take It”. We did that with just piano and vocals and it went real well. This song is so much more important and says so much. It’s a lot more than just a great party song.

AL: Prior to your appearance before congress were politics something you had always been interested in?

DS: I had no interest in politics at that time. I was a young man in rock and roll and you just don’t think about those things. The song was written about my/our oppressors and I was sharing it with our audience who were equally frustrated. Now were older and there are greater concerns. The political climate right now is just awful! The fact that we have probably the most despised person in the history of presidential elections running against the second most despised person. The elections are going to come down to voting for one of those two people. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be so that’s why now more than ever I want “Were Not Gonna Take It” to inspire people. I want people to listen to that song and have it inspire them to try and make a change to get things back to the way our fore fathers intended it to be. People have to vote based on if they like the other guy or girl candidate instead of what issues they stand for. People are viewing this election like a reality television show. We all know reality television is not real but this is! When it comes down to this election we are just boned. I am actually in the process of shooting a new video for “Were Not Gonna Take It” with the guy who shot the original. This time around the video is not going to be funny. It’s going to be a fucking statement! The thing is its too late now but it’s not too late for the future to make something happen.

AL: Initially “Were Not Gonna Take It” was attached to Donald Trump’s campaign. How did that come and about and how did things work when you asked them to stop using it?

DS: I want to make something very clear. Donald Trump is a friend, a great guy and a class act. Unlike most politicians he called me and asked if he could start using the song. Him being my friend I told him he certainly could use it. Now when you are friends with people there is a rule. You don’t talk about three things sports, religion or politics. We never talked about the things he was standing for so when I started to see and read this stuff I thought “Holy Shit!” I called him up and told him I couldn’t stand behind the things he was saying. He said ok and that was it. Donald is a class act because he asked me first to use the song and then stopped using it when I asked him. I still like him as a person but we definitely don’t see eye to eye politically.

AL: Having seen where “Were Not Gonna Take It” has gone what do you think the young Dee Snider would think of all this?

DS: Young Dee Snider would be stunned. That song was written to rile up the masses and scare parents and it did that. Then it leads to me being the poster boy for all things bad about rock music and having to defend my songs and speaking out about censorship. Cut to now and it’s a rock and jock anthem, It’s on kids shows and commercials for women’s pre-menopausal medications. The ultimate irony of all happened a couple of years ago when the “Rock of Ages” film came out. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a typical esc character fronting a PMRC esc organization who is trying to stop rock and roll. What song do they end up singing? “Were Not Gonna Take It”. You had to be fucking kidding me! That was the ultimate definition of irony. If you told young Dee Snider that thirty or forty years ago he probably would have punched you in the face! (Laughs)

AL: Twisted Sister was recently the topic of a documentary titled “Twisted F****** Sister” which showcased the bands early career. Are there plans to release a second part to that showing the success of the band?

DS: We sort of covered that with the “Behind the Music” special that aired on VH1. That’s the story most people tend to already know. We supported the making of that documentary but it was not something that was instigated by us. There was a documentarian who was intrigued by our story having learned that we were a band for ten years prior to making it big. This was something he was taken with and we welcomed his interest as too many people think that we jumped on the bandwagon of hair metal. We didn’t jump on it we built it! There were no bands like Motley Crue or Poison when we started. I give credit to Hanoi Rocks and Quiet Riot as well for also contributing but there was certainly no wagon to be jumped on. We were carrying the torch for something that record companies were rejecting. This film shows how hard we fought to get noticed and to where we are.

AL: It was recently announced that the band will be playing a handful of farewell shows this year. Can you tell us about those plans and what prompted this decision?

DS: I think this is long overdue. I don’t want anyone to take that the wrong way but I never intended to reunite Twisted Sister and then be together longer than we were when we first got together. I wanted to fix the broken relationships we had with one another and then end on a higher note than the one we ended on when we quietly disbanded in 1987. After a few years of reunion shows we had accomplished what I had wanted. We played the Wacken Festival to seventy five thousand people and it was a perfect show played to a perfect crowd on a perfect night. It also was captured by a dozen or so HD cameras and is available on DVD. That’s how I wanted to end things and I asked the guys if we could stop however the guys voted to keep going. With AJ passing away the sense of who Twisted Sister is and how we wanted to be remembered has become very strong. We know guys have members die and they keep going but we don’t want to be that band. After AJ died it seemed like a logical stopping point for us but with one caveat. AJ was the nice guy in the band however he didn’t have any sort of estate planning set up in the event something happened to him. These shows are going to allow us to say our goodbyes to the fans but also help raise some money for AJ’s estate. Along with our love for AJ and with the help of Mike Portnoy who is one hell of a drummer we did a run of shows last year and will be doing some this year as it will be our 40th anniversary. After these show’s that will be it for us. I don’t think anyone would fault us if we wanted to continue on indefinitely however there are other things we have to take in to account besides the loss of AJ. We perform with a very high energy rate and aggressiveness which has become expected of us. I don’t want to let our fans down. With a lot of work at the age of 61 I am still in great shape but no one beats gravity. I don’t want to go down on stage with a broken hip or something. If I did I don’t think the guys would even know something happened because they have seen my roll around on the floor before. (Laughs) Those guys wouldn’t think anything was really wrong until the EMT’s showed up as they probably would just assume I was milking it.

Concert Review: John 5 and the Creatures, Montage Music Hall, Rochester, NY

John 5 and the Creatures
Date: Saturday, March 7th 2015
Venue: Montage Music Hall, Rochester, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Guitarist extraordinaire John 5 slid into the frozen tundra of Rochester, NY on March 7th to perform at the intimate Montage Music Hall. John is currently out on his first ever solo tour which coincides with his latest solo release titled “Careful with That Axe”. Though the crowd wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the guitarist who has worked with everyone from Kd Lang and David Lee Roth to Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie all were quickly wiped away.

The trio who along with John 5 includes bassist Ian Ross and drummer Roger Carter hit the stage basked in rays of red and green light before instantly launching in to the song “Flight of the Vulcan Kelly”. As the set progressed through songs like “Sin”, Jiffy Jam” and “Six Hundred and Sixty Six” 5 and company seemingly became more comfortable with the Rochester crowd and paused briefly to thank them for their support before closing out the night with John’s instrumental rendition of the Michael Jackson classic “Beat It” for closing out the night with a medley of songs ranging from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” to Iron Maidens “The Trooper” to White Zombie classic “Thunder Kiss 65”. This little medley alone made the night worth the price of admission and then some.

Though this may be John’s first tour as a solo artist he’s certainly no stranger to the stage as his 20 plus years of experience in music certainly showed as he worked the audience like a true veteran of the stage. He often signaled for crowd response or sending his guitar into the audience for them to play. Later on in the set he even brought up a fan play his guitar while he passed out high fives to those in the front row. If John 5 and the Creatures are making their way to your time in the coming month or two definitely make it a priority to get to the show as you won’t be disappointed. For those looking for something a little extra out of the night John is offering special VIP packages through www.John-5.com where you can attend sound check, meet the band along with getting some other really cool limited edition swag.

John5 Set List
1.) Flight of the Vulcan Kelly
2.) Villisca
3.) This Is My Rifle
4.) Sin
5.) El Cucuy
6.) Jiffy Jam
7.) Portrait of Sidney Sloan
8.) Guitar Solo
9.) Six Hundred and Sixty Six
10.) Mad Monster Party
11.) Young Thing
12.) First Victim
13.) Feisty Cadavers
14.) Beat It
15.) Medley

Theatre Review “The Book of Mormon” Kansas City, Music Hall

When I lived in Baltimore it was easy for me to make the 3-hour drive to New York City to see the next great musical. “Phantom of the Opera.” “Les Miz.” “Miss Saigon.” It opened and I was there. Not so easy to do when you live in Kansas City. Which means I had to wait four years to see “The Book of Mormon.” And it was well worth the wait.

The show tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda to help convert the local population into joining the church. Things are tough in Africa, with the villagers dealing not only with the AIDS crisis but a terrible thug dictator who insists that all women be circumcised. If right about now you’re questioningly thinking to yourself, “this is a BROADWAY musical,” I should point out that the show was created by the team behind “South Park,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as well as Robert Lopez, who created the Tony Award winning Best Musical “Avenue Q,” which is best remembered as the show that beat “Wicked” for the award. Mr. Lopez also recently won an Oscar for co-writing the song “Let it Go” from “Frozen.” The book is outrageous, and exactly what you would expect from the three authors. As for the songs…there’s a reason that the animated film “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” is often referred to as one of the best Broadway musicals that never made it to New York. The tunes are catchy, the lyrics infectiously funny. The audience loved every minute of it, with the highlight coming during the song “I Believe” when the singer exclaims, “And I believe that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri,” which is where Kansas City sits.

The cast was outstanding, with Billy Harrigan Tighe and A.J. Holmes excelling as Elder’s Price and Cunningham. The supporting players were equally good. The show was one of the most original I’ve ever seen, much deserving of the nine Tony Awards it won. Where else can you see Jesus Christ, “Star Trek’s” Lieutenant Uhura and Yoda all in the same musical number? No where else…that’s where! The show is so good that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actually runs ads in the Playbill. If that’s not a divine blessing from Heavenly Father, I don’t know what is.

“The Book of Mormon” continues in Kansas City at the Music Hall through March 8th.

Upcoming Dates
CHICAGO – now through May 17
MADISON, WISCONSIN – March 10 – 15
SAN FRANCISCO – April 15 – June 27
MILWAUKEE – May 19 – 31
BUFFALO – June 2 – 7
WASHINGTON D.C. – June 16 – August 16

Phil Hall talks about his latest book “The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time”

If you’re a fan of movies you’re probably already familiar with the work of Phil Hall. A contributing editor to the on-line magazine, “Film Threat,” Hall is also a well respected author of such film books as “The Encyclopedia of Underground Movies: Films From the Fringes of Cinema” and “The History of Independent Cinema.” His latest book, recently released, is entitled “The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time.” Mr. Hall recently took the time to answer some questions for Media Mikes:

Mike Smith: What makes a movie “Bad?”
Phil Hall: We need to clarify what “bad” means. I am not writing about the mediocrities that you forget about after the closing credits have rolled. My book celebrates what I call the “anti-classics.” These are the films that inspire wonder – they are so profoundly misguided and egregiously off-target that you have to wonder how they ever got made. These bad films are the cinematic equivalent of narcotics – you get hooked by their toxicity and you become a happy prisoner to their crashing awfulness. It is a wonderful addiction, for sure.

MS: What inspired you to write the book?
PH: A few years ago, I was an actor in a film called “Rudyard Kipling’s Mark of the Beast,” and while on the set a number of people were talking endlessly and enthusiastically about the Tommy Wiseau film “The Room.” I recognized that people tend to become animated and involved when talking about the so-bad-they’re-good films, going to the point of quoting the screenplays verbatim, and I thought that I would bring together my choices for 100 of the best of these anti-classics.

MS: You have some critically popular films, “Mystic River” among them, on your list. Any reservations on labeling films like this “bad” when they were well received?
PH: My book is not a be-all/end-all text book. My book is an expression of my opinion as a film critic and film scholar. Remember, the appreciation of films (or any art form) is strictly subjective. I know people who loathe “Citizen Kane” and “Gone with the Wind” – that is their opinion. And remember, opinions are like a certain lower body cavity – everyone has one and most of them stink! Whether you agree or disagree with me is strictly your call. This book is my vehicle to share my opinions.

MS: Have you received any feedback from any of the filmmakers?
PH: The book covers the full spectrum of the cinematic experience, from the silent era to the present day. Thus, many of the filmmakers cited in the book are no longer with us. As for those that are still active, I don’t know if they are aware of their inclusion in the book.

MS: Do you have a favorite “bad” movie?
PH: That’s sort of like asking if you have a favorite child, isn’t it? Some of the films cited in the book — the musical version of “Lost Horizon,” “Chariots of the Gods,” “Airport 1975” – have a special emotional tug because I saw them in the theater when I was a little kid. Others hold a special meaning because I shared the viewing experience with friends and/or family. And I am always discovering new films, so today’s favorite could easily become yesterday’s corny memory.

MS: Are you planning another book?
PH: This is my sixth book that has been published since 2004. I think I am overdue a long rest!

2013 DVD Re-Release Review “Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy”

Actors: Kevin McDonald, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson
Director: Kelly Makin
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Warner Archive / Paramount
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Running Time: 89 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy”, it is really a crap shoot between fans. I personally have always loved this film. To me this film was absolutely hysterical in 1996 and is still extremely funny in 2013. I think the film was troubled from the start since it was when the group were having issues so it is not perfect but still effective. I even had (and still do) the cassette tape of the film’s soundtrack, which I know by heart track for track. This may not be for every “Kids in the Hall” fan but I still highly recommend it. Thanks to Warner Archive for pulling this film out of print and giving it a new life.

Official Premise: The Country hits cloud nine when obsessed scientist Chris Cooper (Kevin McDonald) invents Gleemonex, a happiness drug. Soon everybody is taking the little orange pill. But Cooper gets a heavy dose of the blues when he discovers that early test subjects have slipped into comas. Can Cooper stop the people’s happy habit – before it’s too late?

This film has not been available now for many years due to being out of print, so it is great to see it available to fans again for a reasonable price. I would have loved to seen this film make the jump to Blu-ray but I highly see that happening…ever. The transfer isn’t restored from the previous DVD but it still holds it’s own over the years. This DVD does not come with any special features but then again neither did the original 2002 Paramount DVD. I would have loved to seen some commentary tracks but since this film was made during the break up of the group they do not have good memories surrounding it and do not really support this film.

Theater Review: “Mary Poppins” The Music Hall – Kansas City, Missouri

MARY POPPINS
The Music Hall
Kansas City, Missouri
April 9th, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

The wind picked up on the mid-west plains last week, and that magical, singing, cleaning nanny we all learned to love growing up was blown right into Kansas City. Mary Poppins delivered one of the most colorful and musically brilliant shows I can ever remember seeing. Led by the outstanding performances of Madeline Trumble as Mary Poppins and Con O’shea-Creal as Burt, the jack of all trades famously played by Dick Van Dyke on the big screen. This Broadway worthy performance had me captivated and taken right into early 1900’s London. Fantastic acting by all players, great use of accents when speaking and singing and phenomenal dance numbers are among the highlights of this production.

“Mary Poppins” was a film that most everyone has seen and hopefully remembers quite well. I was relieved that the play did not run word for word, scene for scene as the movie; for if it did it would have been a bit boring, as anything would be if you knew what to expect the whole time. There are some familiar songs featured in the film but not included in the production such as ” I Love to Laugh.” But the addition of some originally cut songs such as “Practically Perfect” made me completely forget all about that. You can’t top the great Dick Van Dyke’s performance in the film, but in this production Con O’shea-Creal was dead on in character. He had such a great presence on the stage that he actually stood out to me more than the title character. He had the audience laughing, clapping along and received great ovations after most of his numbers.

This play had one thing that I have never made notice of before at a live theatre event. The scene changes that happened the whole night and the colors! The brilliance of the lights and the colors made me wish I would have brought my sunglasses into the theater especially during the carnival with the ever so popular and classic song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” The staging made me drop my jaw and say WOW!! Something I would never expect, or have experienced, at live theater. Every scene change happened flawlessly and so quick you didn’t even notice. Trust me I think that is as weird as you do reading this to make note of something like that. That was just another reason that I felt that this show was outstanding in every way. You could say it was “Practically Perfect”.

I would advise anyone that lives near a city that this show is coming too to get out and find a seat in the theatre. If you have kids great. If not, “Mary Poppins” is still a show that you will not regret seeing.

The tour continues in the following cities:
May 1 – 5 – Denver, Colorado
May 8 – 12 – San Francisco, California
May 21 – June 2 – Anchorage, Alaska

For more information on upcoming shows: http://www.marypoppins.com/

Theater Review "Billy Elliot: The Musical" – Music Hall, Kansas City, Missouri

Billy Elliot: The Musical
Music Hall, Kansas City, Missouri
January 22, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“I never had that much energy at that age,” is what I told myself after watching 12 year old Drew Minard steal the show as the title character in “Billy Elliot: The Musical.”

The show, based on the film of the same name, tells the story of a young man who, bored with boxing classes, finds himself drawn to ballet, an endeavor that does not go over well in his tough, English household, where it’s easier to make fun of “the bally,” as it’s called, then appreciate the beauty of the art.

As the show begins the audience is thrust into the beginning of Britain’s 1984 Coal Miner’s strike.  Billy’s father, Joe (Rich Hebert) is one of the leaders of the strike, hoping by holding out that he can better the life of his sons.  His oldest boy, Tony (Cullen Titmas) also works in the mines but doesn’t have his father’s temperament.  Joe and his sons live with Grandma (Patti Perkins), Billy’s mother having died some time ago.  They are working class, as is the majority of their small town, which makes Billy’s new found hobby even more difficult to embrace.  But, urged on by his teacher (Janet Dickinson), Billy follows her advice and, true to the song she sings to motivate him, he shines!

Photo by Amy Boyle

Winner of 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical, “Billy Elliot” is what I would call a “solid” musical.  It has all of the great elements you want in a show:  great cast, intriguing story and a good score.   Which is kind of disappointing since the music was written by Elton John (“The Lion King”) in a collaboration with Lee Hall, author of the book and lyrics as well as the screenplay to the original film.  While a couple of numbers stand out (“Solidarity” and “Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher”) there really isn’t a song that you leave the theatre humming.  But don’t let that keep you away.  The show is entertaining and well choreographed.  Heck, the curtain call is a production number in itself.  And if you go, make sure you give a standing ovation to Master Minard (or any of the other boys, there are four in total, who are playing Billy on this tour).  He certainly earns it!

“Billy Elliot: The Musical” continues in Kansas City through January 27 and then visits the following cities:

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA                 January 29 -30

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA                   February 1-3

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA           February 5 -10

GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA                February 12 -17

NAPLES, FLORIDA                            February 19 -24

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA              February 26 – March 3

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA     March 5 – 10

PEORIA, ILLINOIS                             March 12 – 14

FOR LATER SHOWS VISIT  http://www.billyelliottour.com/us-tour-tickets

 

Hanna Hall talks about her role in new film “Scalene”

Hanna Hall is known for her roles like Young Jennie in “Forrest Gump” and Judith Myers in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”. She also starred in the new psychological thriller “Scalene”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Hanna about her new film and her character.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with the film “Scalene” and playing Paige Alexander?
Hanna Hall: I got contacted by the director about doing the film. I read the script and really loved it. It also seemed like a challenge, so I was interested. I mean it is such an original idea. It was very well executed. The film really requires the strength and vision of the director and the actors to understand the nuance of the roles.

MG: How did you prepare for the character?
HH: I spent a lot of time of the psychology of the character. I just tried to pull something from my life and tried relating it to that character.

MG: Since the film is told within three different perspective, was it difficult shooting the film that way?
HH: No, from a production aspect it didn’t pose any challenges. Believe it or not it was a really fun shoot.

MG: How was it working with the amazing Margo Martindale?
HH: We had such a good time. We got to laugh a lot, which is good since most of our scenes are spent being mean to each other.

MG: Looking back on your past film work, how would you compare?
HH: When I chose a role, I like it to be a challenge or have to access a dark place in order understand an aspect of the character. So that is why I choose roles that are usual darker.

MG: Planned next you have “Visible Scars”?
HH: Yeah, that was a fun project. It is a short role, one scene in the beginning. But I get to play someone trashy which is really cool. I always enjoy working in this genre.

SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Roger Waters to launch new Pink Floyd Channel


Tune in to SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Roger Waters LIVE on June 27 at 12pm ET for the launch of SiriusXM’s new Pink Floyd Channel (Sirius channel 142 and XM channel 43). The special will also air on Deep Tracks (channel 27). You’ll hear the founding member and principal songwriter of Pink Floyd sit down for a rare Q&A session with a select group of SiriusXM listeners at the SiriusXM studios in New York City. This exclusive Town Hall event coincides with Waters’ current tour, The Wall, which will visit Yankee Stadium on July 6 and 7.

The special will be moderated by SiriusXM host Jim Ladd and will feature the rock icon answering a variety of questions from the studio audience.

This event is part of SiriusXM’s “Town Hall” series, an intimate gathering with an iconic figure and an audience of SiriusXM listeners. Previous SiriusXM Town Hall specials have featured Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Gregg Allman, Coldplay, Ringo Starr and the surviving members of Nirvana.

“The Pink Floyd Channel” will be available Wednesday, June 27 through Saturday, July 7 on Sirius channel 142 and XM channel 43. Additionally, “The Pink Floyd Channel” will also be available as a 24/7 channel online on channel 802 and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smartphones and mobile devices beginning Thursday, June 28 for an extended period.

For more information on Roger Waters and The Wall tour, visit www.rogerwaters.com.

Tracey Gold and Bug Hall and Director Griff Furst talk about Syfy’s “Arachnoquake”

If you are a fan of SyFy, they you must be a fan of their original movies. This summer, the month of June is packed with new great films. “Arachnoquake”, Syfy’s Saturday original movie, premiered on Saturday, June 23 and is one hell of a fun ride. It stars Tracey Gold (“Growing Pains”) and Bug Hall (“The Little Rascals”) and is directed by Griff Furst (“Swamp Shark”, “Lake Placid 3”). Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Tracey, Bug and Griff to discuss the film and their experience working on it.

Mike Gencarelli: First question is for Tracey and Bug. What did you guys like most about taking on a role in a movie like this?
Tracey Gold: I’ll start. Well, I would just have to say working with the cast and crew on the movie. I think it was just one of the better productions I’ve done. It was easy. It was fun. It was well organized. Everybody got along. It was a subject matter that was obviously, liked, I mean it has albino spiders…and it was just a lot of fun and a really great group of people.
Bug Hall: Yes, I think that was definitely perk number one for me as well, you know. The cast, crew and Griff and everyone at Syfy was great. And I liked that we were all on the same page going into it. My very first question to Griff was, how funny is this thing? He was right there with me saying “We’re going to hit every moment for comedy that we have”. This thing is comedy at heart and that was to me the most exciting part was really getting to be funny and getting to just sort of run with jokes and have a lot of fun with it.

MG: Can you talk about the scene that you had the most fun with while shooting?
TG: Yes, I think the scene I had the most fun with was when we got to jump off the big boat and into the water. Then we all had to scramble up onto the ground. There were also some funny moments with it and Ethan Phillips which were hysterical and made us laugh. I like doing stuff like that when they say okay we’re not going to use stunt doubles or something, you guys can do it and I think that’s always like, just kind of so fun. Brings out the kid in us.
BH: Yes. Exactly, I’m a big kid at heart and any moment that I have to fire guns or, you know, tuck and roll, I’m a kid in a candy store and, you know, to me that is – that was the biggest appeal. A lot of the comedy stuff was – felt so good when we were finished though, you know. Like, going through it I’m always nervous because I don’t feel like I’m funny most of the time. But then as soon as it’s done, you know, you feel so good about it. I had a moment with Luck Johnson in a grocery store. I know when we were finished with the scene me and him were just elated, you know, we really felt like we nailed it and we were really happy with it and I felt like it was a big payoff. So, the comedy was a big appeal.

MG: Bug, do you feel that your nickname was factor into being cast int this film?
BH: As far as it factoring into me being cast, yes, I like to think that, it definitely played a part, right. I mean, Bug’s doing a movie about bugs. It certainly can’t hurt.

MG: Griff, you’ve been working, quite a bit with these creature features, like “Lake Placid 3” and “Swamp Shark”. What do you enjoy most about this genre?
Griff Furst: Well, I’ve always been a fan of creature and horror and sci-fi. What I’m enjoying most about is that these movies don’t take themselves too seriously. So, as long as you have actors who are down to experiment and to play with the humor in it and to kind of almost be aware of the situations that they’re in but still playing it for keeps and playing it seriously. That’s always really fun because you still get to do what you love to do but it’s all about having a good time and making sure that the audience in turn has a good time watching it as well. There’s not millions and trillions of dollars at stake and but that’s part of the fun with it.

MG: Tracey and Bug, as your co-stars in the film are huge giant bugs, what would you say is your biggest challenge working on this film?
TG: Sure, for me I had never done anything like this. So I remember when I read the script I was like, okay this is like funny, right? So it was an adjustment for me, we’re really like reacting to something that’s not there. But then that’s true acting. You get to use your imagination and that’s what made it so fun. So we had an idea of what the spiders looked like and probably in all of our heads it was slightly different. So, it’ll be interesting to actually see the way it really is. But it was a challenge and it was fun.
BH: Yes, I think the challenge of not having them there was probably more difficult than I expected going into it and it was just a lot of talking, you know. There was a lot of talking from scene to scene about what we were seeing and where it was and how big it was and what it was doing. You know, just to really kind of have that placeholder locked down and make sure we were all on the same page.
TG: To make sure we’re looking at the same thing.
BH: Right, A lot of Xs on apple boxed. But again, that was part of the appeal. It was a lot of fun just kind of letting the imagination run and really having fun with it. I can’t stress the having fun with it aspect of it enough. I mean, that was goal number one and we accomplished that.

MG: You guys have any room for any improv during the production?
BH: The cast and Griff there was, you know, it was always, you know, always open to whatever, you know, we wanted to throw out, especially with comedy, you know, you kind of have to just go with what, you know, what you’re feeling and what feels funny at the moment. And a lot of times what’s funny on the page, you know, doesn’t quite read and so you tweak it and you, you know, you bend it a little bit and you make, you know, you make the funny happen. So there was a lot of great moments where we just kind of ran and just played off each other.
GF: And also the character types that were listed in screenplays were actually quite different than a lot of the folks we ended up casting on purpose because it’s just interesting to go opposite. So we found out that, you know, there was some differences between Bug’s character and Lucky Johnson’s character so then that allowed more of this improve and kind of experimenting with their personalities and it’s not in the script, which didn’t originally call for that kind of personality. So, definitely a lot of improv.

MG: It sounded like you have a lot of fun with this obviously. Were there any times when you just kind of couldn’t keep a straightface because it’s something so silly?
TG: Many…
BH: Absolutely. Yes, especially those late nights when you’re starting to get delirious and it just really occurs to you what you’re doing. We definitely had quite a few moments of the giggle fits that had to be subsided.
GF: There’s a great blooper reel…
TG: I think that’s always fun.

Blu-ray Review “The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall”

Directed by: Nick Morris
Actors: Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, Hadley Fraser, Wendy Ferguson, Barry James
MPAA Rating Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Distributed by: Universal Studios
Run Time: 160 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Phantom of the Opera” is the currently longest running show on New York’s Broadway. It is also currently has production playing London, Budapest and Las Vegas.  In October 2011, the show marked its 25th anniversary and took stage on the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London. I have seen the stage production of this show many times and this Blu-ray presentation is such an amazing representation of the show. This show features composer Andrew Lloyd Webber at the helm and really shows the wonderful scale of the stage production. Honestly if you have never seen this show, this is an amazing way to enjoy this whether it is your first time or your 10th time.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score on Blu-ray is so stunning boasting a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Match that with an amazing HD presentation and this is one attractive Blu-ray. The video really captures the beauty and color in this show and really brings it to life in your living room. In the bonus features category, there is only one feature but it is worth watching to take a look into the shows production. “Getting Past the Point of No Return” is a very in depth behind the scenes featurette with the cast and crew.

The 25th anniversary production of this show not only looks beautiful but also includes an amazing cast and orchestra of over 200 and also features some very cool guest appearances like “Phantom” originals, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Taking on the role of the Phantom is Ramini Karimloo and the role of Christine is portrayed by Sierra Boggess, both who are know for their roles in “Love Never Dies” (the sequel to “Phantom of the Opera”). They both do such an amazing job and really bright their own unique specialties to the characters. Speaking of the sequel if you enjoy this Blu-ray do not forget to also check out “Love Never Dies”, which will be released on Blu-ray as well on May 29, 2012.

Interview with Robert Hall

Robert Hall is the creator of the “Laid to Rest” series.  His latest installment in the series “ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2” sees the return of the new horror icon.  Besides writing and directing movies, Robert also has an effects company Almost Human.  Keep an eye out for Robert as he is going to be the next Steven Spielberg.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Robert about his new film and also what’s to come.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you give us some background on how the character Chromeskull was created?
Robert Hall: I had set out to make a very mysterious character that harkened back to those 80’s slasher films that I loved. I figured Chromeskull probably had seen all the same movies I had. I wanted Chromeskull to be just a regular guy and not some deformed hillbilly. Over the course of each film I wanted to release a little bit of information as to who Chromeskull is. With the way the first film ended there wasn’t a lot of room for the character to do much by himself. I planned pretty early on to have a support structure underneath Chromeskull that would explain a little bit more about him. There is a company that manufactures surgical tools that has a side business run by Brian Austin Green and Daniel Harris. I wrote that role specifically for Brian.

MG: How would you compare the two productions?
RH: Looking at the films as a fan, the second film is what you would want out of a sequel. You definitely don’t want to watch the same movie again. Most of the time when a sequel is made the easy route is taken which often duplicates the previous film. I wanted to go the more realistic route and show some of the organization and Chromeskull recovery. Both movies are very different and that is what I wanted. The one cohesive element is Chromeskull and the kills.

MG: What was the most difficult challenge working on the second film?
RH: I set the bar really high with all the kills and I think that what people will be looking for with the next film. I wanted to push myself in that aspect for the second film. There also was some criticism towards some of the actor’s performances in the first film so I wanted to make sure everyone was spot on with their performances. I really listened to the fans and addressed any issues that were brought to my attention with this second film. I think we made a film that everyone is really proud of.

MG: Did intend for the second film to much gorier?
RH: I’m not a big fan of that term actually. I don’t think the “Laid to Rest” films are particularly gory. They are intense and I don’t shy away from that like a traditional film might. I think what really makes people cringe is to get into the mind set of how these kills are accomplished. I like to use what’s in the environment so things don’t look forced. I know not everyone can do things the way I do and that is what I think sets our films apart from other slasher films.

MG: The ending of the second film is left open. Do you have any ideas for a third film?
RH: I think we definitely want to expand things. The reception has been really great. I don’t think I would be directing it as I have a lot of other things going on however I would oversee it to make sure the quality is there.

MG: Can you tell us about any other upcoming projects?
RH: We are working really hard to turn the web series I did with Robert England into a movie. I think that’s going to be our next step. There are also a bunch of other little things going on that are in various stages of development. From an effect’s stand point we just finished a movie with Bernard Rose who directed “Candy Man”. We have a lot of different stuff going on.