2014 Horror List


I’ve been busy with making a new short film this month.  We shot it this past weekend.  This weekend I have to do some audio recording, and then it’s on to editing.  I would like to have a cut done by the end of the year.  Man, I really wish I didn’t need a day job.

Why the babbling? For the past two or three years I’ve done a horror movie countdown for Halloween.  I’m not going to be able to do it this year. Instead, here are my Top 10 for 2014:


I’ve listed it before, but it’s a classic. It’s the Citizen Kane of practical sfx. It’s question mark ending is what makes a great horror film.


Another by Ti West and his last horror film for a while I guess.


Lucio Fulci captured a nightmare on screen.


Yeah, I’ve mentioned it before but it’s one I can watch again and again.


George Romero’s unique spin on a vampire.  Tom Savini’s make-up effects are at their best.


Before Sam Raimi injected some Looney Tunes he made this classic straight up horror film.  This creeped me out when I first saw it.

7 - THE HILLS HAVE EYES (remake)

This Alexandre Aja remake is Wes Craven’s story fully realized.  Brutal and scary as all get out.


Michael Powell’s chilling film.  It ruined his film career, but it’s now considered a classic.  An interesting rumination on shooting POV. 


The original starring Kevin McCarthy  or the one with Donald Sutherland.  Neither disappoints.

10 - THIRST 

Director Park Chan-wook’s unique take on a vampire love story.  Park is in total control. If you looking for unique takes on vampires to cleanse the taste of TWILIGHT vomit from your mouth watch a double feature of THIRST and MARTIN.

antixpress: Over 200 views!  Thank you everyone for giving it 9 minutes of your existence on this planet!

And I’m making a new one in 2 weeks.  Soon THE LAST FADE OUT will have a sister.



The Last Fade Out is a short film I wrote, directed and produced. We shot it in less than 12 hours. The crew and actors were freakin’ great. I haven’t made one of these in a verrrry long time. It was fun. I learned a lot. Thanks to everyone for making it reality. — F

As of 8/20/14 fifty-two views of the short.  Thanks for watching.  Hoped you liked it.  - F

A Perfect Combo.

imageBack in 2008, the old Antix Press held a party during APE. Stone Brewery provided the beer. We felt honored by them.

We really wished we had invited Kat.

SOUTHLAND — Why it’s the best TV show in the last 10 years that no one gives a shit about.


Seeing Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon in the deluge of Gotham marketing got me thinking about SouthLAnd. For me, it’s one of the best TV shows in the past ten years that no one gives a shit about.

A critic fav. Abandoned by NBC. Rescued by TNT. Viewed regularly by 1.8 million souls. After forty-three episodes the bad news arrived:

“TNT has made the difficult decision not to renew SouthLAnd for another season,” TNT said in a statement. “We are enormously proud of SouthLAnd, which stands as one of the best police dramas ever made.”

“…one of the best police dramas ever made.” Most definitely.

What about The Wire, The Killing, True Detective, orHomicide: Life on the Streets, or the rest of shit ton of cops shows held up as examples of TV’s recent high end creativity? Sure. Some of them work.

However, if you’re a fan of those shows, a setting at your table needs to be elbowed aside for viewing SouthLAnd. It’s handheld, choppy, violent, stunning, funny, dark, and never boring. It’s the closest you’ll get to a “front row seat to the greatest show on Earth.”

A few examples of similarities or things SouthLAnd does better than those other shows:

Location, Location, Location

Like The Wire’s Baltimore neighborhoods or True Detective’s bayous some shows benefit from their locations. When integrated well, a show’s location moves beyond mere trappings and enters the world of cinematic art.

Yeah, yeah, L.A. is the most filmed city in the world, but the production did a great job taking advantage of her vastness and making her fresh yet familiar.

It went on to mash-up numerous locations and neighborhoods, Century City, coast areas, the Jungle, Sunset Junction, Alvarado Street, Baldwin Hills, the Watts Towers, Grand Central Market, Cliftons, the Farmers Market, the Frolic Room, Filipinotown, etc.

In SouthLAnd, real distances are ignored; fact and fiction are blended; tourist traps and off the beaten paths are blurred. It creates a dizzying, jigsawed landscape that juxtaposes the beauty, ugliness, vastness, multi-culture expanse, and downright uniqueness of sunshine and nightmares that is the city of fallen angels. It’s a big part of what makes these characters and their stories so intense, capturing the unexpectedness a patrolman experiences when approaching a new crime scene.

Character Driven

True Detective had Matthew McConaughey’s and Wood Harrelson’s acting tour de forces.

The Wire had Idris Elba and Michael K. Williams.

Homicide had Andre Braugher. Heck, and the rest of the cast.

Like a ’69 GTO Judge zeroing in on your tailgate at 2am on the 101, SouthLAnd is character driven as they come. The show’s creator, Ann Biderman, delivered a compelling roll call. The multi-faceted characters are the through lines not long story arches. It is raw character based storytelling. And it sure has heck keeps the show’s energy level high.

If you had a problem with True Detective’s weak writing for women, check out Detective Lydia Adams played by Regina King. Great at her job with a good grip on how “Inoccent until proven guilty” works. But watch out when she finds you guilty. She has a tendency to feel too much, which can be seen in the “Sally In the Ally” episode among others. However, hers is never misplaced. Never filtered through rage. It’s a great combo of strength and professionalism. Lydia’s compassion only gets complicated when dealing with her cop partners or a romantic interest outside of the job. That is, because she see herself as always a cop, if she ever lets herself have a romantic interest.

Detective Sammy Bryant played by Shawn Hatosy. He’s the sad sack of the series.

Sammy has the most shocking moment in the series when his partner is bushwhacked by some cholo with a club. Then Sammy goes on to botch the ID.

And it only gets better — His wife cheats on him just as discovers she’s pregnant. Later she charges him with assault. Finally he gets teamed with Patrolman Ben Sherman, who is on a spiral to becoming a crooked cop. Sammy is the wrong addition to Sherman’s spiral.

Hatosy gives Sammy a desperation that is always on the verge of lashing out. I constantly wished he woould get some peace. Never happens. As the series wraps, Sherman and Sammy are rolling on the pavement exchanging haymakers.

For Patrolman Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) seems like his rage is always getting the best of him from his daddy and mommy issues to how he deals with the streets.

LA Confidential’s Sergeant Ed Exley and The Shield’s Vic Mackey come to mind as I watched Sherman’s evolution. From the get go there’s a sense that the badge is a personal weapon.

He started off idealistic, but loses site of the lines in the gray of beat work. He’s a dirty cop in the making and it was nice to see this instead of a straight up crooked cop. As he traveled the path, you watch Officer Sherman grow comfortable with the belief that as long as he’s servicing justice the rules are malleable.

Also, by watching SouthLAnd you’ll understand why Ben McKenzie won the Jim Gordon role. Can’t wait to see where he takes that Gotham cop.

The stand out of them all is Officer John Cooper played by Michael Cudlitz.

Cooper might have his own issues but he nails Sherman’s future early as someone who can’t keep his shit straight and will end up dragging others down.

For Patrolman Cooper his compassion died a long time ago. Probably on the day his father raped and murdered Cooper’s girlfriend. This guy is ready to do some harm. Probably to himself.

If you are looking for a damaged cop performance that surpasses McConaughey’s in True Detective, Cudtiz’s gives it.

With the last two episodes of SouthLAnd, Cooper gets some of the best moments I’ve ever seen on TV. They are gut wrenching.

What dimished Breaking Bad for me was how the writers were bent on keeping Jesse Pinkman around. He should have been gone after season three. I got to the point of predicting all of Pinkman’s reactions and actions. The repetitiveness was groan inducing.

SouthLAnd never suffered from character boredom like Pinkman’s. Its characters were deep wells and never boring. An excellent example of character driven storytelling.


Fuck True Detective with its uninspired, banal murder mystery, lackluster killer, and sappy ending.

Fuck Breaking Bad’s ponderous ending. It kept squeezing the same old orange for too long. It took forever to get to a payoff and the journey, except for some great water cooler moments, was a snore.

Dexter’s total clusterfuck of a final season!  Dude, who has a major character die offscreen!?!

Ending a TV show can be a real bitch.

However, SouthLAnd has the best wrap of a TV show that sorta didn’t know it was going to end.

With the last two episodes, CHAOS and RECKONING, and a nod to Joseph Wambaugh’s “The Onion Field” you get a totally satisfying and emotionally painful wrap-up of all the series. The last two episodes deliver such a gut punch that they still linger in my head and heart.

I don’t want to spoil it. 

Trust me, if you really think TV is in a new Golden Age here is one of most solid markers of that. SouthLAnd was not only a cop show done right, it was a TV show in new Golden Age of TV done right.

So I call out to folks to put your Orange is the New BlackTrue DetectiveMad Men, freaking Game of Thrones all on pause and watch the forty-three episodes of SouthLAnd. You won’t be disappointed doing this favor for yourself.

— Francis

Coffee Shop Conversation with Richard Dunn, a.k.a. “The Lonely Airport Guy”

Forris Day joins Antix Press with his Coffee Shop Conversation with “The Lonely Airport Guy.”

He has come to be known as “The Lonely Airport Guy.” His name is Richard Dunn and he singlehandedly shot and edited a viral video on his iPhone. In the video he lip-syncs to Celine Dion’s hit song “All By Myself”. He made it to give his wife a chuckle. He never expected it to go viral around the world and create such a huge controversy. Many believe he had a film crew while others say it was a marketing stunt for Delta. Learn how Richard really made this video all by himself.

Listen: http://chirb.it/Ek8Oqd

Watch: http://youtu.be/1uSzAOW-TsE

THE BATES SCORE — How to Eliminate Your Guilt and DVR Backlog

Bates Score: The ratio of unplayed episodes on your DVR to the current season total. Unplayed episodes > 25% = stop watching (see ya later Bates Motel)

Like most, it’s a rare occasion that I watch a TV show as it airs in real time.  For shows I like, I typically stay current, preferring to watch it as it goes along, rather than binge watching a season or two behind. There’s a nice guilty pleasure in nonchalantly dishing out spoilers to the content laggards.

However, recently I noticed a trend on my DVR.  Episodes were beginning to pile up for certain shows.  Why wasn’t I catching up?  Was the episode count getting out of hand and becoming an overwhelming task?  Or had my interest waned, no longer caring to find out what happens next?  Or was it that I already knew what would happen next?  In the case of Bates Motel, we all know…

I should have learned my lesson with Lost.  Was Lost really that intriguing after the first few seasons?  No, it was my curiosity that carried me through to one of the worst series endings ever.  Time travel and the golden piss pool of wisdom…not going through that again.  Carlton Cuse deserves a kick in the nuts for that ending and silly me follows him into Bates Motel.

This time, I’m checking out anytime I like.

In what felt like an empowering moment, I hit DELETE ALL, clearing my DVR and clearing my attention. It felt like I had freed myself from a unproductive relationship.  Love the one you want, not just the one you’re with.

Shows like Graceland, Orphan Black, Da Vinci’s Demons, The Bridge, and Bates Motel all had intriguing starts and characters, but moving along into the second seasons, they quickly lost me.  Was it story?  Characters?  It was both.  Plots were stretched.  Characters peaked.  They had played all their cards in the first season and story lines weren’t sustaining my interest.  Season one reject scripts must have slipped into the pile for season two.  Homeland made it a bit further, but really, how much more of Carrie and Saul do we really want to see?

They were just TV shows, so why did I feel so much better?  At the very least, I figured it would be a neutral reaction.  Maybe it was freeing myself of the hold that pop culture and the zeitgeist can have on you.  I switched from wanting to be in the know, to knowing better.

I remember the disappointment I had in Lost and felt relieved that I wasn’t setting myself up for a repeat.  I thought this would be easy since I had never been a fan of Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Scandal, or countless other shows.  I marched to beat of my own drum, at least I thought, but I think I needed to make up for it with other shows.  So many shows… the Emmy ads alone keep the Hollywood Reporter in the black.  I now only wanted to watch what really held my interest, water cooler talk be damned.  I’d now be regaining hours of my leisure time back and being selective.  Shows like Shameless, Ray Donovan, and the latest 24, never sit for more than a day on my DVR.  I WANT to see them, despite that no one I know watches Shameless other than my mom and she’s always behind.

My experience made me think, how many people are watching shows out of routine and loyalty rather than for legit enjoyment?  Do people really love the shows they watch?  Or is it a fear of missing out function?  What drives you to watch?



DON WINSLOW’S SAVAGES — Why I Blame Winslow for My L. A. Jones


DON WINSLOW’S SAVAGES — Why I Blame Winslow for My L.A. Jones

by Francis

Don Winslow’s webpage describes “Savages” as:

“Part-time environmentalist and philanthropist Ben and his ex-mercenary buddy Chon run a Laguna Beach–based marijuana operation, reaping significant profits from their loyal clientele. In the past when their turf was challenged, Chon took care of eliminating the threat. But now they may have come up against something that they can’t handle—the Mexican Baja Cartel wants in, and sends them the message that a “no” is unacceptable. When they refuse to back down, the cartel escalates its threat, kidnapping Ophelia, the boys’ playmate and confidante. O’s abduction sets off a dizzying array of ingenious negotiations and gripping plot twists that will captivate readers eager to learn the costs of freedom and the price of one amazing high.”

Sounds fine.

However, for me, there’s so much more going on.

January 2009 — I started the worst run of unemployment I ever suffered while living in Los Angeles. It got so bad that I eventually left the city that I often loathed but will always love.

I’m not the first to point out how harsh of a mistress she can be. It’s tough living with her when the greenbacks are scarce. But I really miss the city of fallen angels bad. Real bad. Part of that blame rests on Winslow and his Weed Noir book, “Savages.”

Now all the Winslow fans are going, “Wait a minute! Winslow doesn’t write about L.A. His stomping grounds are the O.C. and San Diego.” True.

Besides, for me, slipping under the Orange Curtain only happened:

When the Red Sox played the Anaheim Angels — Wait.  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Fuck no — The Anaheim Angels)

—When visiting family wanted to hit the tourist traps of Fun Dog, i.e. San Diego. (Still can’t rid my head of Chon’s etymology.) We even drove through Laguna Beach one early morning.

The twelve times attending Nerd Prom, i.e. the San Diego Comic-Con. A few times I took the Pacific Surfliner to the Con. It’s a breathtaking overview of Winslow’s territory.

For fucking Disney Land.

Funny thing, I had to flee to New England to discover Winslow’s novels. At the end of 2010, I was welcomed back with the worst snow laden winter in recent memory, and a crash pad knee deep with teenage hormones from my nephews. At least I had a job. But I needed to escape as much as possible.

In between work shifts, I fled to the to the tiny granite town library and consumed all things Los Angeles via public internet, including daily stops at DeadLine Hollywood. There I came across the announcement that Oliver Stone was adapting this novel about hydro-420 growers Ben, Chon and O. The article talked about Jenner Lawrence considering the roll of O. She went with that Hunger Games drivel.

My brain screamed. Don’t wait for the stupid movie. Read the novel. You love SoCal crime. Why don’t you know about this dude? Read the stupid novel. NOW!

The attitude Winslow— actually, baditude (Thanks, Chon) — takes when commenting on SoCal, her people, and their culture in ways this Angeleno on-hold could relate to big time. It reverberated with me like a direct shot from a 8.2 temblor. That love and loathe thing all over again.

“Savages” is a decent novel. Liposuction lean prose, sometimes too lean. Some of the twists I was ahead of.

O becomes a damsel in distress for the last third of the novel. Prior to that she was an energizing and fun character. Of course, the book is about Ben and Chon’s attempt to save her, so it had to be.

Winslow clicks off great images of the barren SoCal landscape that has always been refreshingly otherworldly for me.

And the book’s ending… It rings true to the characters, but seems too convenient. It’s an odd happy ending. It’s a logical one. It’s just that my gut has a problem with it. I guess that means the characters and world got under my skin. The ending is the last thing I wanted to happen.

The novel is at its best when Winslow criticizes and comments on Southern California. It glows hot with biting humor and insight on SoCal’s people and their culture. It’s the novel’s tour de force.

It’s what forced me to read it three times and listen to the audio recording with chapters like:

1 — “Fuck you.”  The two words and out. A direct line to Chon’s baditude. Also, it could double as my birth commonwealth’s official motto.

11 — A listing of Paqu’s, O’s mom, various phases that reads like a OC entrance exam:


Pills and alcohol


Republican politics


Republican politics and Jesus.”

40 — Winslow’s take on John Wayne Airport:

“Chon thinks you gotsa love an airport names for a draft-dodging movie war hero cowboy who trademarked his gay, pigeon-toed mince into a macho money machine.”

62 — O’s shopping spree at the South Coast Plaza. “The Mecca and Medina of SOC consumerism where retail pilgrims pay homage at the multitude of shrines.”

Those shrines listing and Winslow’s quick remarks are hilarious, especially juxtaposition of Del Taco against the bigger saints. Eat at a Del Taco. You’ll understand.

73 — The upper and middle class Mexican’s attitude towards us Yanquis.

233 — Its opening line: “Even in Southern California, even in the middle of the desert, you don’t leave six dead Mexicans among smoldering ruins of three cars without attracting some attention.

SoCal takes its cars very seriously.”

271 — Is where Winslow wraps it all up: “We made gods of wealth and health. A religion of narcissism. In the end, we worshipped only ourselves. In the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Yeah, throughout the novel he takes SoCal to the woodshed especially with Chapter 271, but you can tell that he truly loves Ben, Chon, O, and the land that birthed them. The same land Winslow migrated to.

Hypocrisy, rampant consumerism, narcissism. All packed in tight with millions of humans with very little water.

Yeah, he goes negative pretty quickly with the idea. Pretty much staying with the novel’s baditude. Then why does this novel fuel my desire to return to this desperate place?

First, it reminded me that I need to laugh at not loathe SoCal. Hypocrisy, rampant consumerism, narcissism those all fell in the loathe category. But that shit is everywhere in the USA. It’s just prettier in SoCal. And, if you can’t laugh at yourself…

Second, in Chapter 271, Winslow reminds me why I went to L.A. in the first place. He mentions reinventing ourselves. SoCal grroooves on that.

To reinvent myself. And I did. Back in MA with their “Fuck You” motto, I reacquainted with places and people from my past, I immediately realized I was seeing them through new eyes.

I was very different from the original me and I liked it. Living in New England with a job, less stress, and even a new romance still didn’t shake the cold fact that my soul was back in SoCal.

There are other things — A family of friends I left behind, the creative energy, a long list of things undone and unexperienced and optimism of reinvention. It’s an American thing.

The West has been the physical representation of that even before we stole it from Mexico. Something Boston, Augusta, Hartford, Concord, Providence, and Montpelier might have invoked for pilgrims and colonist but not anymore.

The character of Ben is SoCal’s saving grace. Yeah, he has one foot anchored in the religion of narcissism, but his other foot is firmly in the future. He gets that this world needs to be shared. That greed is not good. It will soon collapse under the weight of its distended belly.

The greed monster of the Baja Cartel coming for his business represents a new generation of that mutant disease of greed the US released upon the world. Ben is willing to walk away from it all.

Ben isn’t the only one.  While awaiting a beheading, O realizes that she needs to do something with her life other than consume. I got the feeling that she is finally growing up and will make this phase permanent.

When I moved to L.A., I heard this thing about California: “Where CA goes the rest of the US follows.”

It was true with wage inequality. In the 90’s, L. A. was already suffering from a growing disparity. There are plenty of other examples. Good and bad.

It’s now true in New England where it’s nothing like the world I left twenty years ago. The religion of narcissism reigns here too.

I want more time in SoCal. I want to explore more. I want to see if humanity will be able to get its head out of its collective ass and save itself. And I think it’s going to start there.

Maybe the droughts will motivate everyone?

Someday I’ll grab a seat along the North County’s Hop Highway, sip an IPA beer, and watch the revolution take place.

And I have Don Winslow’s novel to thank for showing me how to laugh at and love the one local in the world that I feel at home.


The Last Fade Out is a short film I wrote, directed and produced. We shot it in less than 12 hours. The crew and actors were freakin’ great. I haven’t made one of these in a verrrry long time. It was fun. I learned a lot. Thanks to everyone for making it reality. — F

As of 8/20/14 fifty-two views of the short.  Thanks for watching.  Hoped you liked it.  - F



Little comic about how to make zucchini bread in these trying times. Dedicated to CB Cebulski, Mike Hardin, Ming Doyle, and anyone else who sunk my zucchini bread deep within their bodies.

So good. Better than fresh baked bread.


"The Cocktail Waitress" James M. CainHard Case Crime, September 2012Cover art: Michael Koelsch

Moving this to the top of my reading list.


"The Cocktail Waitress" James M. Cain
Hard Case Crime, September 2012
Cover art: Michael Koelsch

Moving this to the top of my reading list.