On Inkshares Horror Novel

Have you guys heard about this? I recently heard about a crowdfunding site called Inkshares. It’s basically Kickstarter or Indiegogo crossbred with Createspace or Lulu. It looks like a site where you can crowdfund a novel that will have an ebook and physical presence in bookstores. Unlike Kikstarter or Indiegogo where you give them thousands of dollars and then the writer keeps a percentage and has to then hire editors and distributors, Inkshares does all of that. So if a project is successfully funded at Inshares, it includes a professional manuscript editor and distributor.

I had no idea how any of this works, so I figured I’d dive in and take a look see with my current manuscript. I’m working on a 90 thousand word novel about three strangers entering the witness protection program when they accidentally thwart a serial killer. They’re relocated to a new state, but their new home brings them into contact with horrors beyond imagination.

You can find the Inkshares page, along with fun FAQs and whatnot, and back this project here are: https://www.inkshares.com/projects/horror-novel

Thanks so much for your support!

This is Elliot Arthur Cross eternally grateful for your support. For any questions about the project, please email me at elliotarthurcross@gmail.com. Thank you and happy reading.

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On Evidence film review

I recently caught Evidence on Netflix. The is a combo found footage/traditional film following a forensics team investigating brutal murders by hobbling together footage from two cameras and victims’ cell phones.

Cons: The whole a small group of friends on a trip in the desert are stranded with four other strangers while a masked killer picks them off one at a time certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Nolan Gerard Funk was underused. Yeah, I know, I know, but I could have used some more Funk action. While some pieces really work, there’s a lot of standard paint-by-numbers action going on.

Pros: Good cast. True Blood’s Stephen Moyer plays the lead investigator (he’s troubled, but he wants back on the job before his supervisor is sure he’s ready… for some reason). I never cared for Billy on True Blood, but I’ve always liked Moyer. Characters are fleshed out enough. The ending was ambitious. The framing narrative works as a whodunnit and is ambitious enough that it works overall. I didn’t see the twist coming.

Overall: Decent slasher flick. Since I have a soft spot for the subgenre, I’ll go 3.75 out of 5 stars, but I’m probably being nice.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On Mr. Jones review

I caught this found footage horror flick on Netflix. I was a teen when Blair Witch hit, and I loved it. There have been imitators and cheap-rip offs since then. And btw, Blair Witch was not the first horror mockumentary, but it was the earliest smash success in the sub genre. Mr. Jones follows a couple of artists (he’s a filmmaker, she’s a photographer) who move to a remote cabin the woods for a year to work on their relationship and make a nature documentary. After a few weeks, they discover their only neighbor is the elusive Mr. Jones, who’s been sending random strangers scarecrow figures since the 1970s. All Hell breaks loose.

Cons: What the Hell did I just watch? I’m all about finishing a movie and having enough ‘well it could mean this’ theories to discuss with fellow viewers, but it was far too abstract. This is the type of movie that you show to twelve people, and you’ll get twelve different explanations. I feel like the found footage angle wasn’t needed; this story could have been told in a standard narrative without losing much, and possibly gain a lot.

Pros: Natural cast that really sold it. Super strong opening, decent middle, and then weak ending. But that shouldn’t take away from the first 2/3’s. Unlike Blair Witch, then went backstory, backstory, backstory, random woods stuff, slow scares, this movie goes intro, scare, backstory, scare, backstory, scare, random shit. It feels refreshing, it feels reel, and it works more often than it doesn’t. So often, with ‘found footage’ movies, it’s hard to justify the shots, and here the in-universe filmmaker creates a camera that shoots in two directions at once to capture his documentary, which really pays off later in the film when they’re using the same camera to learn more about the elusive Mr. Jones.  Star Jon Foster is a hottie, and talented. There’s an early montage of ‘nature is beautiful, everything is wonderful, wait it’s been two weeks now I hate it all’ that is perfectly shot and acted, it immediately won me over.

Overall: There’s so much going for this movie in the first two acts that I’m so frustrated by the weak finale. Three out of five stars. Give it a watch with a friend, and then spend a half hour discussing your theories to what it all means.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On Lizzie film review

I often extol Netflix’s virtues, but the downside is there’s some really not-good content on there as well. I feel bad bashing other people’s work. Anyway, the horror movie Lizzie really irked me.

Basically, this messed up chick lives with her boyfriend, sees a psychologist (the always great Corbin Bernsen who should have been used more) and is troubled by ghosts of the Lizzie Borden murders.

Cons: They didn’t live in the real Borden home, so why are the ghosts bothering them? (The real home is a fun bed and breakfast by the way.) It’s a low budget movie, but that’s fine. I’m really bothered by the ending. Heavy spoilers here: They make it seem as if Lizzie Borden’s father Andrew (played by Gary Busey) was a rapist and her stepmother was a ghoul. You know what? Don’t take real historical people who have been studied and make a movie where you make them look insane? I’ve studied the Borden murders some, and Andrew and his second wife Abbie were by all accounts lovely people. He was a little stingy, but otherwise well-liked. It’s like making a movie about Ted Bundy and saying his victims were killed in self defense because they were thieving murderers. As a writer, I’ve used historical aspects in stories before, but I do my research. And if an idea I have clearly doesn’t gel with the truth, then I scrap it, or brainstorm a better idea.

Pros: Decent idea, some okay acting and filming. The troubled relationship seemed real in a disturbing way, which worked well. There’s probably more but I just couldn’t get over the cons.

Overall, I’d go with one star.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross saying do your homework.

On The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations

I really enjoyed the first Butterfly Effect (probably because I was 20 when it came out) and vaguely remember disliking the sequel. Well, I just finished the third one because it was free on Netflix, and I enjoyed it for what it is.

If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, this guy can just freeze himself in a bathtub and then spend a little time in his body in the past. There’s no explanation or anything, and of course each time he tries to change the past it has tons of consequences. In this outing, our protagonist is up against a serial killer whose victims seem to change depending on random changes in the past.

Cons: The time travel idea is fun, but can we get some explanation of how it’s done? Some character motivations were confusing once the time line changed. At one point, I wasn’t sure if we were still in the recent past or the present. There’s a pot growing mentor who doesn’t get any explanation. I liked the character and the possibility that he was the killer (not spoiling it either way), but where did he come from/how does he know so much about time travel?

Pros: Better sequel than the last one. Having a clear antagonist gave the film a much needed focal point. I honestly could see it going in several different ways, and was mostly pleased with the outcome and surprises. As a lover of slasher movies, I appreciate the almost slasher aspect to this one. There’s a nice use of the Detroit locale that adds to the story.

Overall, I’ll go with 2 stars out of 4. For a direct to video third entry in a shaky series, not too bad. Maybe I’ll give part 2 another try one of these days.

On This Filthy World

I know, I know, I said I’d update more often, but I’ve been on a writing streak the last few weeks. Getting reviews, chatting with people, and writing thousands and thousands of words.

But I wanted to take a moment to share with you how fantastic John Waters’ This Filthy World is. It’s nearly an hour and a half of John Waters talking about his life an his film career and it’s hilarious. Waters discusses his films, thoughts on trash, and personal anecdotes. And it’s directed by Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Jeff Garlin. Check it out.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On great documentaries

I have a confession/apology. I haven’t been posting nearly as often on here as I should be because of Netflix. You find one good documentary and then it suggests another and another and before you know it, you’ve lost a month watching fantastic films. Here are the highlights from the last month in no particular order (I highly recommend each of them):

Nirvana-Nevermind
I’m not the biggest Nirvana fan. I think I was around 10 when Kurt Cobain died. Anyway, this is a great look at the making of an album, with interviews and archival footage of band members and technicians. I’ve always enjoyed when an artist pulls the curtain back and you see what went into the work.

The Achievers
I have loved The Big Lebowski since I first rented it on VHS in the 90s, and low-and-behold there’s an entire fan club who has annual Lebowski-fests with random cast members and the people who inspired characters. They do trivia, bowling, and costume contests. This is a great look at fandom and offers some fun info on a fantastic movie.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated
I’ve long said the MPAA is evil. They’re the people who put those PG-13, R, NC17 ratings on everything in America without any rhyme or reason. Here’s a great example: American Pie has nudity and a naked ass while a boy humps apple pie=Rated R. But I’m A Cheerleader has a clothed lesbian masturbating without showing any nudity and basically only hinting at it=NC17. What? The director hires a private eye to find the secretive members who rate films. It’s a brilliant piece of journalism.

The People Vs. George Lucas
Whiny fanboys bitch about the prequel trilogy and the re-mastering/altering of the original trilogy. But done in a fun way. There are some great tidbits and real love for the Star Wars saga here, as well as upset fans. And some fun trivia. I tend to lean on Lucas’ side that he’s the artist and allowed to do whatever he likes with the art, but then they point out that he argued brilliantly against Ted Turner colorizing classic films and my mind is changed. Great topic to discuss.

That Guy…Who Was in That Thing
Sixteen character actors are interviewed and discuss Hollywood and their careers. Lots of fun. Since I’m a bit of a film guy, I recognized all of them and knew most of their names, but for most audiences, these are those guys who pop up in lots of things. Since watching it, I’ve noticed a few of them on random TV shows and movies. This was short shortly before the wonderful Stanley Kamel passed away. You’d recognize his face and maybe know him as Dr. Kroger. Trivia: there are over 240,000 registered members of the Screen Actors Guild, and the average annual salary is $5,000…

Tales From the Script
A must-see for anyone who cares about writing and movies. This documentary takes a look at Hollywood screenwriters and offers plenty of anecdotes about the industry. There’s some really talented, engaging people here. What really boggles the mind is how many scripts are bought, but never produced. They say that Universal Pictures has on average something like 300 scripts in development each year, and releases 10 films a year. 290 scripts a year are bought by one major studio and never filmed. So next time you’re on IMDB.com and go, “Oh, this guy’s only written two movies” well, maybe he’s written 30, sold 20, and only had 2 produced. Crazy stuff.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wondering what great docs you’ve all seen.