Wednesday, September 4, 2019

In L.A.

I'm on my way to LA and look forward about everything you've read in the past. I can't do any work as I can't find a way to do my blog for the next two weeks.

Okay, So I found out that I can continue.

So I will write all the way to Sherman Oaks, the best place to be in and now I'll have no excuse to eat one I'n -Out burger every day because it's just a block away.

So I will began today. When I arrive.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


I'm going to travel a little bit to my old home sweet home, as in Sherman Oaks. I'll have some time with friends and also trying to find my Ghostkeeper distributor(s). As of now I just know that there is someone who sells Ghostkeeper and I don't get any money.

And as said before, that I am going to drive to that place I mentioned a few blogs past. I'll bring my director friend as well.

I'm not sure if I'll do any blogs so if you don't see any. But you have 10 years to go back and see a hell of a lot of stories.

But I'll be sure to find some.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A good review


Director: Jim Makichuk
Writers: Jim Makichuk, Douglas MacLeod
Producer: Harold J Cole
Cast: Riva Spier, Murray Ord, Sherri McFadden
Country: Canada
Year of release: 1980
Reviewed from: UK VHS (Apex)

Good old Apex Video. They could always be relied on to pick some completely cool but utterly arbitrary piece of artwork and slap it on their sleeves. They were the company who released Al Adamson’s Dracula vs Frankenstein behind a painting of banner-waving armies attacking a futuristic superfortress. For Ghostkeeper (or Ghost Keeper as the sleeve has it) they gave us a hideous monster, composed in roughly equal parts of an eagle, a skeleton and a devil, lunging out of a blood-red sky above Aztec pyramids in a South American jungle.

Not bad for a film about a North American ghost monster which is set high in the Rockies.

Marty (Murray Ord), his girlfriend Jenny (Riva Spier: Rabid) and their friend Chrissy (Sherri McFadden) are exploring on a couple of Skidoos on New Year’s Eve, while the rest of their party, back at some rented lodge that we never see, is preparing for, well, a party. Jenny is serious, intense and brunette, dressed in a blue snowsuit with high waist and flared trousers; Chrissy is blonde, a bit more relaxed sexually and dressed in red. Frankly, they look like 50 per cent of an Abba tribute act. Marty, for his part, is a bit of an arse. Their characters are all established in an opening scene when they look round a remote general store, run by an old guy (played by Les Kimber, who is normally found behind the camera as production manager on pictures up to and including Superman).

Marty and Jenny’s relationship is a little tense, not helped by the way that Chrissy is flirting with him and the fact that he doesn’t seem to mind it. Just to add extra spice, Jenny is haunted by the fear that she has inherited her mother’s insanity.

Despite the storekeeper’s suggestion to turn back, they explore past a sign reading ‘Private property - keep out’ and find a huge, utterly remote hotel, the Deer Lodge. It seems to be deserted and the visitors book shows that no-one has stayed there for five years - so why is the heating working?

Bad weather and accidental damage to Chrissy’s Skidoo force them to stay the night and they discover they are not alone when Marty is attacked by an old woman (Georgie Collins) whose character is credited only as ‘Ghostkeeper’. She turns out to be living - and possibly working - in the hotel and strangely circumvents questions as to whether anyone else is around, making a mysterious reference to “my boy.”

She shows them to rooms that they can use, but while Chrissy is having a bath she is attacked by a guy with a beard and a woolly hat who is (we can safely presume) the old woman’s son. He drags her, naked, to a distant part of the hotel where she is thrown into a room with a wild-looking individual who may or may not be entirely human - after having her throat cut. The guy in the woolly hat is credited as ‘Danny’ and played by Billy Grove, the wild-looking guy is played by John MacMillan and credited as ‘Windigo’. Neither is ever referred to as such, although an opening caption has told us: “In the Indian Legends of North America, there exists a creature called Windigo... a ghost who lives on human flesh.”

In the morning, Marty finds Chrissy missing, her Skidoo vanished and his own vehicle deliberately tampered with. While he is busy looking for equipment to repair the machine, Jenny is given a drugged cup of tea by the old woman. She comes to in a different room where, instead of wondering where she is, she browses through a book about Native American legends and finds an old newspaper with the headline ‘Mutilated bodies found’. She then escapes chainsaw-wielding Danny, running up to the top of the hotel from where he falls to his death, impaled on railings below.

Jenny begs Marty to leave (through the waist-deep snow) but he seems to have gone bonkers, painting his face with grease and ranting about crazy stuff while holding her tighter than she would like. He then wanders off into the snow.

Returning to the main hotel, Jenny faces a showdown with the old lady who reveals something which explains why Jenny has been hearing faint voices calling her name since she got there, but which otherwise makes no sense. The ending is very weird, very bleak and yet strangely satisfying.

When I say ‘makes no sense’, in fact there is some sense to it. By the time that the 90-minute picture finishes it is fairly clear that Jenny has in fact gone completely loopy. However, much like the main character in Neil Marshall’s superb The Descent, made 25 years later, we are left wondering precisely when in the story what we were seeing stopped being real and started being the product of Jenny’s deranged mind. The implication is that she will take over from the old woman as the Windigo’s ‘ghostkeeper’ but since no-one ever talks about a Windigo we’re left wondering whether the locked-up hairy guy really is the creature of legend or just some mad bloke. Or does he exist at all?

For such an obscure film, Ghostkeeper is strangely satisfying, even on this barely watchable, full-screen video which is a dark transfer of an already dark film. There is nothing silly here, there are some bits of genuine horror (such as the throat slitting), there are no pat explanations or lame attempts at humour, the three main characters are believable, and the last 15-20 minutes is tense and horrific, treading the middle ground between psychological and supernatural horror. It kept me gripped, although I think the sleeve’s claim of ‘SUSPENSE, HORROR and DRAMA in the true Hitchcockian tradition’ may be pushing it a bit.

Given that this was filmed in Alberta I can only assume that the Inaccurate Movie Database has got its facts right for once and that the actor playing Marty is the same Murray Ord who went on to be President of the Alberta Film Commission, location manager for everything from Airwolf to Shoebox Zoo, and producer of Brokeback Mountain!

Writer/director Jim Makichuk is a former news cameraman whose short films earned him a Genie and an Oscar nomination. His subsequent career has mostly been on the writing side, where his credits include the 1999 sci-fi movie Roswell: The Aliens Attack, episodes of Highlander: The Series and the 2002 Gentle Ben telemovie! Co-writer Douglas MacLeod, who is also associate producer, went on to produce a bunch of stuff for Canadian TV. Someone called David Makichuk (brother? father? son?) gets a ‘story consultant’ credit here.

Cinematographer John Holbrook allegedly directed an ultra-obscure 1970s porn/horror picture with the unpronouncable title Sexcula. Mel Merrells gets the possibly unique credit ‘special effects/generator operator’; the ‘special effects’ amounts to one small Skidoo explosion so he would not have needed to leave the generator unattended for very long. Composer Paul Zaza has by far the longest filmography of anyone here, his credits including Murder By Decree, Porky’s, My Bloody Valentine, The Pink Chiquitas and all four Prom Nights.

Ghostkeeper is a decent little film, dating from the last days of independent 35mm theatrical releases (it was distributed in the States by New World) before the video explosion. It’s probably the lack of star names (and the fact that it’s Canadian) which has kept the film so obscure because there’s nothing really wrong with it. If it has a failing, it’s that the whole Windigo thing is so tangential as to be barely there. It makes one wonder whether that was tacked on after the fact because, apart from the opening caption and the closing credits, there is nothing to suggest any connection with ‘Indian Legends’ whatsoever. This is a Windigo movie which is almost entirely lacking in Windigos.

MJS rating: B
review originally posted 8th January 2006

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Bad day sort of

Okay, so I got some money from France, that's nice. But I'm not sure when they will shoot the movie, I've heard maybe next February. Well, wait.

And around the beginning of September where I have one of those horrible things called age.

I'm going to Sherman Oaks in L.A. where I was there before. I have a few jobs, mostly friends and two agents and also try to find my Ghostkeeper movie.

I had a distributor for Ghostkeeper these last 15 years but now has disappeared.  I got $4000 three years ago and since then he has disappeared. I lost track of him and have heard of him nor anyone who knows him.

But I started to try to find him by phone. His phone answers but nobody else does.  So I started to see where Ghostkeeper can be sold or whatever. And I did find it. It is a horror film sales and sure enough Ghostkeeper is being sold.

But there's no way to speak to anyone there, there is no phone. Movies there are sold from somewhere else. I continued to try to find my original blu-ray but I can't get to it. My distributor paid me $4000 four years ago and that's it.

And then I found more information.

It was a horror distributor that had Ghostkeeper. 
But it not easy.

It's called 2019, Ronin Flix.
And it has an address.

155 Granada Street, Suite D I Camarillo 93010

So I found more; 

I looked at my phone and saw that I was looking down on:

Camarillo Mobile Home Park.

A mobile park? Or is it a distribution company?

The image is night, but I can see a mobile park.

So I am going there. And see who it is. And how much money he/she have?

Camarillo is not far from the valley. 

Now, here's another thing; if you want, try and find it. Of course you have to be in the valley.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Still here.

So I'm still waiting for my $$ but also dealing with an agent that I had known before, actually my first agent in L.A. He was not quite a good agent, but tried and it took me to got someone else. By this time I've been writing scripts and started to get a lot of work for. This lasted for about 2 years until I met an agent who said he'd make me famous.

Well, I have to say that he got me around town. But he rarely got me work, and much more connections that I would never have gotten without him. So what do I do?

Well I have some long years in this business and sometimes I was broke and sometimes I was flush. I had an agent that really took me around town, I met a hell of a lot people through him. He was a small agent though, thinking he was hot. But I never got any movies, in fact I got several movies by myself.

And he took his agent money, which of course, you hope he'll get something. And maybe it was me too, although I got agents that always seemed to be around.

And then, the last agent finally arrived. He was working for the agent above. He and I got along quite well and I knew this young guy will be going places.This always asks questions and my guy still didn't get me a job. So about two years later my great guy was taken by a major agency, one of the big 5.

So what was I want to do now? Stay with the not-great agency or go to the young guy who was?
So I did it and the not-great guy's agency and he still has not spoke to me again.

And what happened to me with the big agency guy who now took me in to the big agency and it took me around for about 15 years until my agent, who was tired of the big agency didn't give him more clients.

So he walked away and went to an agency for production workers, as in camera, sound, post production and location people. 

A long way from screenwriters.

And it hit me also as my ex-agent left and the big agency didn't think I really was needed. So long Jim.
So I had no agent.

But I had a lot of people who liked my work and up to now. My Ghostkeeper movie was still running in videos and I also am trying to write my Ghostkeeper 2 movie maybe for this year or early year. 

And now I'm working (sort of) on a screenplay I wrote in L.A. but now was going to be made in France. And I won't be there. Why?

For one thing I will have to pay French taxes that, as I was told, is a hell of a lot. So I stayed in Canada where my taxes are way better. Besides everyone will be speaking French.
Below this is where I quit as an example. It was a real "good-by" to my first agent without knowing if I will ever get an agent again. Here 'how I did it.

January 8/20

Dear Jack

I've spent a long time deliberating over the renewal over our contract (which expired on September X) and have decided not to continue on with your agency. I am grateful for your initial interest in my work as well as the support from yourself and especially Doug.

However I simply have not any work during that time except for development funding assistance from Canadian agencies. In 19- I had a total of three meetings. I will honor any details leading up to 19-, as per contract. Also I would lke a submission log of where my scripts went during our contract term. Again, thanks for your time and consideration.

This was the beginning of at least 7 or 8 agents to make it work. Unfortunately he
left the the agency and the agency left me.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Long time

Sorry to be gone for a while, again, some of it is French and taxes and the other stuff like my ex and making a screenplay out of it. I wasn't really sure to do that, it sounds like "Hey, I can write a screenplay all about my ex and me.

But I didn't really want to do it "all about", rather than I used pieces of some of my favorite movies like Two For the Road with Audrey Helpburn and Sleepless in Seattle with a young Tom Hanks.

And yes, sometimes writers take little pieces of other screenwriters.

Mine is similar and different as I haven't seen a movie about ex's meeting again after 30 yrs or so. Well, maybe one of those French movies.

Which leads to me and my French movie, which was supposed to be in the Mojave Desert outside of L.A. but it's now become a French movie with french everything, except me. It will be in French and also in U.S.

And now I've got to send a synopsis to my ex-agent/now agent/again. It's good for both of us as we're getting older and forgetful.

But coming up is the beginning of this blog 10 years ago.

Sorry for a small piece, might come up with more by the end of the day. Note

Thanks for hanging on.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Bits and pieces

This is an British band, the Dave Clark 5 in the 60's who was one of the British bands that walked over all of America except for Motown. I just thought to use the idea for what's going on in my busy work for an old guy.

Well, I got some money back, but not great. I was supposed to get 1500 euro which is close to almost .

Instead I got $1300! 

Nice, eh?

Well, it's not all bad. Actually I will get almost the real amount when it goes to my Canadian money. What happens is that since I am not working in France, and will take off my real Canadian tax amounts.

So it won't be that bad as Canadian taxes are far lower than France.

So, on to another item.

I had contacted my first agent, way back in 1990 and he was still in business and also ready to take me on again. 

And this is just the beginning. I got my $1300 rather than $3000 but most of that will come out from my taxes, in which I will get a Canadian part, which is, of course a lot better.

Life goes like that.

I also have to re-read my 45th screenplay (not a number but the title for my new screenplay. I've probably mentioned it to you, wherein I wrote a story about a young girl who discovered her mom's ex.

I wrote about this a while back.

And that it actually was my ex's daughter who discovered me from 40 years. Really!!
I don't really mention that, at least till anyone wants to ask me.

Brenda and me.  And we found each other again.

1971 --  How's that for a movie ending?

Bits and pieces.