CINEMA HOLOCAUST ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA, PART 3: THE NEW KING OF HORROR
There's a lot of talk going around about a zombie outbreak happening here at the French Riviera. It's pathetic really; just how badly every nerd and hipster in the world is so desperate to face an apocalypse brought on by the undead. It seems that whenever tragedy strikes today, whenever there's any type of viral or bacterial outbreak, the alarmists immediately jump to zombies.
Oh, just how cynical have we really become?
And just what is the cause to this zombie virus that people are theorizing about?
That's right. You've got the fine journalists over at the ever reputable Huffington Post claiming that the French Riviera's dog shit problem has lead to a rash of extreme public suicides.
Well, the French love their dogs, there's one for every seven households in the country. That's more than anywhere else in the world.
And the French mostly do live up their reputation of being lazy, pompous assholes. They want pets, they want to be able to hold their dominance over another animal, but it's completely beneath them to clean up after those pets. They won't degrade themselves by touching a dog's feces.
So the streets of French cities are quite literally covered in shit. I've even read a statistic that there are 650 reported injuries a year from slipping on dog shit in Paris alone.
As you stroll the streets of any French town, it's not uncommon to spot two or even three dog shit deposit boxes referred to as "crottes de chein" on every block. But they're rather useless since they still require people to actually pick up the dogs' turds and place them into the box.
In the early 80's, Paris actually did suffer a health crisis that was onset by the amount of festering dog shit in the streets during the hot summer months. It wasn't the shit itself so much as all the roaches, maggots, and rats it attracted. I imagine this is where the concept to Guillermo Del Toro's Mimic came from.
So the French government employed the services of a private company called the Trottoiris Netsi to clean and disinfect the streets of all of the major cities within France of dog shit.
You'll see them riding around in their big green vans, wearing their neon green bio hazard suits, and using their Chieraclettes (shit scrapers) to hose all of the poo into the gutters.
But there's still one big problem. They French have a tendency to strike if they so much as get a hangnail on the job.
I've already been to three restaurants where the wait staff was on strike and the chefs were stuck taking orders. I've encountered closed museums due to staff strikes, closed movie theaters, super markets, and so forth.
These guys go on strike all the time and the Trottoirs Netsi have been on strike for three months now.
It's a shame France doesn't have a country like Mexico near its border or else they wouldn't have this problem.
So there's a lot of dog shit that's piled up on the streets everywhere.
And now all of these twenty something year old internet reporters are having a field day trying to draw connections between the recent outbreak of gruesome deaths to the type of dime store science fiction that's taken over popular culture.
Bunch of fucking idiot nerd faggots.
All along, the true cause is a fairly common plant from Colombia that grows on the branches of the Borrachera tree. And from this tree comes Burundanga, also known as Scopolamine, also known as Devil's Breath.
With enough Burundanga, you could take over the world; become a dictator to rule the entire planet.
I just want to become a rich and famous horror film director.
I've already planned another flight to Colombia before I return to Philly.
From here on in, there are no limits.
I'm sitting in a German style beer hall waiting for a writer from Fangoria to come interview me.
I just finished a hearty steak dinner and my phone has been ringing off of the hook. Every major press outlet here wants to talk to me.
They're saying I'm one of the most successful independent filmmakers in Cannes' history.
I'm signed on for Evil Dead 2, I'm signed on for a 15 million dollar remake of Fulci's New York Ripper, I'm signed to direct a 20 million dollar remake of Guinea Pig 3, I'm signed to direct the Hellraiser reboot, I'm signed to direct a reboot of Ilsa of the She Wolf that's being produced by Steven Spielberg, I've sold my previous features for nearly ever international territory, I'm going home a very rich man. I'm going home with a name.
Film Comment wants to interview me, Moviemaker magazine wants to interview me, Variety wants to interview me, Rolling Stone wants to interview me, Entertainment Weekly wants to interview me.
But Fangoria is the only publication I care about.
I'm enjoying a massive two ounce stein of German Bock that cost nearly thirty Euros. Only a week ago, I would have scoffed at the notion of paying two hours' wages on a single fucking brew.
From here on in, money's no longer an issue.
A nervous looking gentleman with messy hair in a ruffled suit sits down at my table.
I know him, and I know he doesn't write for Fangoria. His name is Ted Levine and no, he's not the actor famous for playing Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. He's an indie horror filmmaker, just like me. Or at least, like I was.
He has no business with me and he shouldn't be here. He places a blu ray and a one sheet on the table in front me.
He stutters as he tries to talk to me.
"Hey, Mike. Been a while huh?"
I don't answer him but he continues anyway.
"I ran into an old friend who writes for Fangoria earlier this morning. He was telling me that he was going to be interviewing you here at some point."
I doubt this "friend" of Ted told him when. Ted took this location out of casual conversation with a casual acquaintance. I bet the little fucker has been hanging around for hours, waiting for me to show up.
I know Ted through the horror film festival market. He's only made one feature, a modestly budgeted vampire action thriller. It's decent enough I guess. It's flashy with strong production values, but it's also pretty gutless, and nearly every scene, and character, and idea is directly stolen from somewhere else.
There's elaborate shoot out set pieces with balletic gun play like a classic John Woo movie. There's broad slap stick comedy mixed with massive amounts prosthetic gore Evil Dead style. There are nods to classic westerns and some film noir. And there's comic book illustrated, flash animated segways between scenes.
It's a big giant mess of film. It's not scary, it's not funny, it's not suspenseful, and mostly, it's just not interesting. But it looks real slick.
Ted spent three years on the horror convention circuit trying to raise funding for the film. He finally found a private investor at some point. I've heard rumors of Russian mob money.
The film premiered at Fantasia in 2008 and earned some favorable reviews from some very popular critics. There were a few distributors who competed to buy the film, but Ted got full of himself.
He wanted nothing less than 2000 screen theatrical release. He thought he had made the next Saw. He wanted 7 figures for the film.
IFC and Magnet just laughed at him about then bought three hundred other crappy indie horror films that they dumped On Demand and Netflix.
Films these days have a limited shelf life, once you get your press, you don't have much time to capitalize on that and sell before you're forgotten and left with your dick in your hand pissing in the wind.
Ted got stuck with his dick in his hand, only, there wasn't even a wind at that point, and he ended up pissing on his own shoes.
He self released the film and it went straight to Red Box. He's been touting the film's success in getting picked up for Starz Horror movie channel 121. He probably made a cool $13000 for a film that cost 2 million.
Five years later, Ted still hasn't given up on his masterpiece. He's here at Cannes trying to sell a reimagined, re-edited directors cut of a film no one saw or cared about the first time around.
And he's pushing a blu-ray of it towards me as he tries to pitch something tome. I feel like that family member who just won the lottery and is starting to get phone calls from long lost cousins he never knew he had.
Ted's trembling hand rests on the blu ray cover as he says, "You liked my film right, Mike? You told me was decent when we saw each other at the New York Terror Film Festival in 2009."
With a sigh, I say, "What are you doing, Ted? You're trying to sell a director's cut of an independent film you self released 2 years ago. It was already a director's cut to begin with. It's done, over, move on."
It takes a moment for Ted to work up the courage to say, "I heard you're doing a whole bunch of big Hollywood reboots and remakes."
"Don't you think my film would be great for a big Hollywood remake?"
"You want to be in the horror business, Ted?"
"You want to be part of the scariest film in the history of film?"
I hand Ted the remains of my beer, I've already sprinkled half a pixie stick's worth of Devil's
Breath into it while talking.
"Then drink up."
Ted gives me a nervous, frightful glance as he picks up the stein and takes a sip. As he lowers the glass, I put my hand on the large mug and guide it back to his mouth and say, "All of it, Ted."
I take my cell phone out and prop it up on our table as a camera while Ted puts the beer back down.
His eyes are already dilated; I've dosed him pretty strong.
I slide the steak knife resting next to my dinner plate towards him.
"Ted, when your "friend" from Fangoria gets here in the next few minutes, I want you to take this steak knife here and carve both of your eyes out."
MIKE'S JOURNAL, MAY 21: EVENING
I've just gotten out of a preview screening of a supremely rough cut of a documentary on Greece's economy and a group of violent anarchists.
I don't like documentaries, they're boring, but this was pretty good.
Those fuckers are hardcore. The documentarian actually got footage of them preparing bombs and followed them with her camera as they set them up at different parliament buildings in Athens.
There's footage of violent riots with cops beating the hell out of everyone and anyone they can find.
I found it pretty entertaining although it still isn't something I would necessarily see on my own.
But it was directed by a woman named Alexia. I met her on the beach a few nights ago, and even though I've been busy cementing myself as the greatest horror director alive while having plenty of fun on the side, I haven't been able to get her out of my mind.
I've never thought about a particular woman so much in my life.
So I came to her screening. It wasn't very well attended, maybe five or six other people, and I have a suspicion that at least three of them are involved with the film.
Alexia was hoping to spark the interest of some investors who might be able to help her finance the rest of her post production costs.
I don't think that's going to happen.
I spot Alexia smoking a cigarette outside. Like our night on the beach together, she's dressed to impress. Her taste is impeccable. The violet dinner gown she's wearing is sexy but elegant.
I've got five naked super models and actresses drugged up on burundanga and waiting for me back at the hotel room. But still, I only have eyes for Alexia.
My cell phone is vibrating in my pocket; I pull it out to find that my wife, Chery,l is calling me. She's called me 48 times in the last four days. I haven't answered once and I don't intend to answer now. I push my phone back into my pants and approach Alexia.
She's just finished her cigarette but I already have another one out and ready for her. She just stares at me with an icy distance.
I put on the charm, the best that I've got it. I give her the works.
"Don't say you've forgotten me already, Alexia."
I can already tell that she has.
"We met on the beach, you went chasing after some naked man you seemed to know."
She finally smiles as I say this. She's thinking about him, that fuckhead blogger. She's thinking about him the same way I've been thinking about her.
Before I give in to my urge to toss a handful of burundanga in her face, I compose myself and continue to flirt.
"I just got out of your screening there. That was impressive work."
"Oh, it talks."
"Word of advice, don't refer to a woman as it."
"I'm only fooling and you know it."
"I don't know you, so I don't know it."
" Really, I liked your film, a lot."
"Yeah? Do you think you finance the rest of it?"
"I probably could."
"Who are you again?"
We shake hands. I don't want to let go. Her skin is soft but her grip is hard.
"What do you do, Mike Dugal?"
"You haven't heard? I'm a horror director, the biggest here at Cannes this year."
"What kind of horror films?"
I rattle off some fake titles. I get the feeling she's not the type who'd appreciate Sorority Sluts Go to Hell or VD Stripper Massacre.
But I insist, "I really can help you find funding for your film though. I can help you get funding for every movie you'd ever want to make from here on it."
I think I might be playing it too hard; Alexia looks like she's creeped out. This is a lot harder when they're not 20, impressionable, and high. I've already asked if she parties before and that got me nowhere.
Alexia's cell phone rings and she answers it. She's short and to the point with whomever she's speaking with. But her face lights back up and she smiles as she says, "I'll see you soon, I can't wait."
Alexia wastes no time in trying to get rid of me the moment she hangs up.
"Look, Mike, I appreciate the compliments on my film. It means a lot, but..."
"Oh, you don't need to leave already do you?"
"I'm sorry, but I do. I'm meeting an old friend for dinner."
"I'm jealous of this old friend."
"Why? You don't know me, how can you be jealous for me? "
"The way you're smiling, you're hoping this friend might become something more."
"And what if I do, that's not a concern for you."
My chances are blown at this point. I know I can't win Alexia over rightfully. Fuck it, I've already taken over this entire goddamn festival, I can take her over too.
Alexia is already walking away and has put a solid twenty feet distance between the two of us as she says, "Take care, Mike Dugal."
She walks fast. She expects me to try and catch up to her.
Don't worry, I will.
MIKE'S JOURNAL MAY 21: NIGHT
I've been sitting at a small table outside at the Café Dulouche, or Café Duoche or whatever it's called on the Promenade de la Croisette.
Across the street is Alexia, also sitting at a table outside having dinner in front of some small French bistro. And she has a date, it's that god damn asshole film blogger from Philadelphia.
I followed her here from the screening of her documentary. Before I took a table myself to watch her though, I went back to my hotel room to gather some supplies.
I'm wearing my surgical mask with a pair of steam punk goggles and latex gloves again, and still, no one seems to pay any mind. There are still plenty of street performers and promoters wandering the town in outlandish and extravagant costumes. I'm just another nut who's here with the festival.
I've now got two aerosol cans on me filled with a liquid mixture containing a quarter of Burundanga in it.
I've also have a handheld tazer that I got off of a hotel security guard.
I've been watching these love birds across the street for the better part of the last two hours.
I feel a rage burning inside of me that I've never felt before. And I'm the guy with 8 corpses strewn about his room right now.
I try to think up some grand plan of action but my impulse is just to run across the street, dose the both of them, have that jerk off Greg castrate himself on the sidewalk, and then take Alexia back with me.
Fuck it, I'm Mike Dugal, the most important hard core horror director in the world.
I'm gonna be the mother fucking director of the Evil Dead 2 remake.
I stand up and make a run across the street.
I get to Alexia and the asshole film blogger's table and hesitate for a moment.
They're both wondering who the wackjob in the surgical mask and goggles is.
I pull the two aerosol cans out from my trench coat and start spraying devil's breath everywhere.
There's commotion coming from all around me. Some people are screaming, some are laughing, most are just trying to record this wacky nonsense on their phones. No one understands what's happening. They think this is some wacky publicity of some sort.
I empty both of the cans out.
Alexia eyes are blood shot, nearly everyone along this side of the street's are. I've probably just got some 200 people high as fuck on burundanga. Everyone is frozen in place just staring at me.
But not Greg, he's getting up out of his seat and coming at me.
Before I even know it, he's wrestling me to the ground and he's got my mask and goggles off.
He's strong for such a short mother fucker.
He's got his hands around my neck as he's yelling my name.
"Mike Dugal, you rockabilly asshole!"
I'm glad I brought the tazer. I'm able to get it out of from my coat and jam into Greg's side.
One zap is all it takes to send him jumping back onto the ground convulsing like a fish on dry land, so I give him four more.
I take Alexia by the hand and tell her, "You're coming with me."
She's complacent. As I lead her away, I yell out to all of the stoned bystanders under my command, "Tear that blogger apart!"