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There Are Worse Things I Could Do (Book)

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Written by Adrienne Barbeau

255 Pages

Published by Carrol & Graf


When you think of the term Scream Queen, many names come to mind. Jamie Lee Curtis, perhaps, or Lenea Quigley for certain, but there are few that inspired hormone-fueled daydreams with the style of Adrienne Barbeau. Whether being terrorized by dead pirates in a thick fog bank or falling in love with a green rubber monster, she has cemented her role as a horror icon for millions of genre fans around the world. With a career that’s lasted for more than forty years, she has her share of silly questions to answer and crazy stories to tell. In her new autobiography, There Are Worse Things I Could Do, the beautiful star of stage, television and screen gives an honest and inspiring look at her life, and what it means to make it in the acting industry.

Beginning with childhood, Barbeau kept journals with almost religious dedication, documenting her favorite books, what boys she had crushes on, and most anything else that was important to her at the time. In the writing of this book, she culled through thousands of pages, realizing that very little of her acting life was documented. Fans of Barbeau and her work need not worry, however, because while this book contains many anecdotes from her daily non-acting world, it also contains several stories from some of her most notable acting roles.

The book begins with her as a child, half Armenian who never thought of herself as attractive. It also begins with the split up between her parents, an event that marked her for the rest of her life. From there, it moves on to a string of men she couldn’t have (mainly because most of them turned out to be gay) and her passion for acting, even at an early age. Dotting the book, in fact, are excerpts from an essay, written when she was only fifteen, about acting as a vocation. In it, she displays more than just the typical starry-eyed fantasies about living the glamorous life, but shows herself to be determined, level-headed, and committed. Throughout the course of the book, readers realize she never lost those three qualities.

Few people realize just how long Adrienne Barbeau’s career has been. For example, she toured Korea in 1963, fresh out of high school, with the San Jose Light Opera to entertain G.I.s overseas. She also played the role of Rizzo in Grease when it first opened on Broadway. In fact her four-decade spanning career has put her performing and associating with legends such as Bea Arthur, Burt Reynolds, Conrad Bain, more than a handful of mafia men, and even Bette Midler. Readers get to hear what it was like to move to New York city with less than $700 in her pocket and pay less than $10 per week for an apartment in the village. She was, for a time, a go-go dancer, a waitress, and even the office manager of a pest-control company, all the while going to auditions and earning her place in stage and screen.

Barbeau reveals many sides to herself that most fans will not know. She discusses subjects like her many therapy sessions, her divorce from John Carpenter, her love affair with Burt Reynolds, the death of her mother, and how her career almost fell flat with complete candor, writing as if she were talking to an old friend. She talks about how it felt to receive her first Tony nomination, as well as what it felt like to give birth to twins at age 51.

However, lest you think this book is one sob-story after another, there are sections that will have readers laughing out loud at her own outrageous antics, as well as situations that she managed to get herself into. The section dealing with her time shooting Swamp Thing, a movie she hated when she first saw it, is one of those Hollywood tales that could only seem funny after the fact. Her time shooting a film in Russia, during which a revolution broke out and she spent many hours in sub-zero temperatures, slathered in fish guts and covered in living rats, is hilarious, but only because of Barbeau’s storytelling style. The entire chapter dedicated to her wedding with Billy Van Zandt (to whom she is still married) is a comedy of errors, the likes of which will have readers shaking their heads and laughing well into the night.

There are also lessons to be learned from There Are Worse Things I Could Do, as taught from the life experiences of Adrienne Barbeau. While she does not preach or tell anyone how to live their lives, she does come across as a very strong willed woman, an example to anyone of the dangers of self-doubt and what can happen when it is overcome. Her story inspires on every level, allowing readers to see beyond her scream-queen persona and her pin-up good looks.

More to the point, readers are allowed to see all sides of Adrienne Barbeau: the actress of stage and screen, the mother and wife, and the person. She answers questions honestly, some with surprising results (such as the fact that she doesn’t watch horror movies because they frighten her too badly). She minces no words on the subjects of past relationships, her own shortcomings, or movie experiences that would have driven a lesser person insane.

What sets this memoir apart from others is the distinct lack of malarkey. Some autobiographies contain stories that are obviously slanted to make the subject look cool. Some contain viewpoints to make the subject look like a victim, while others contain outright lies. Barbeau’s memoir contains nothing even resembling a slanted point of view. She remains, throughout the book, humble and self-depreciating, thankful to her friends, family and fans for her career, and valuing her family over everything. She comes across not only as someone who overcame astronomical odds to achieve her goals, but as a genuine and intelligent person. Though she may not be the same little girl who wrote that essay, she’s grown wiser and without losing any of her drive and kindness.

5 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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