ODDITIES THEATER: Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971)

It’s Saturday again, folks! You know what that means? It’s time to get WEIRD.

This week we’ll be watching one of my favorites, Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, directed by Ulu Grosbard and starring Dustin Hoffman.

This movie is an absolute mind fuck. I’m surprised I never hear anyone talk about it, cause it’s stylish, weird, cool and a hell of a lot of fun. The soundtrack is also pretty great, featuring songs by Shel Silverstein (yes, the one best known for his poetry for children) and Dr Hook. We even get to watch them perform in this flick, which is pretty rare for Silverstein. Very cool. Oh, and there’s a scene where Dustin Hoffman’s character is chatting with a singer who just blew an audition that’ll get ya right in the heartstrings. Beautiful performances here. This one is not to be missed.

For those of you in the US who’ll be celebrating July 4th, stay safe! Don’t do any of that stupid shit people tend to do that cause them to have to wait in the ER for hours on end. If you do end up in the ER this weekend, good luck. I mean it. I hope the burns will be minimal.

Take care of yourselves! Enjoy the film!

The History of The Tower

Just thought I’d share some notes detailing the story behind the stories of The Tower:

“Hypnagogia” is the act of hallucinating just before falling asleep. The entire story was birthed from this one word, so I felt it appropriate to use it as the title.

This was the first story I wrote for The Bedlam Bible series, back in 2013. I never intended for it to be any more than a stand alone short story. In hindsight, it’s kind of hilarious to me that I wrote it without the intention of going further with it, because it very much reads as an introduction to this bizarre place and even creates little backstories for a bevy of characters that are only mentioned by name and never actually seen. What can I say? It’s true… the Eighth Block Tower would’ve been contained within a single story had it not been for the input of one insightful reader.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s take a step back for just a moment…

After having written “Hypnagogia,” I started compiling a handful of short stories for a collection entitled Goddamn Electric Nights. Right around that time, a writer/publisher named Jordan Krall (Dynatox Ministries) invited me to submit a story for an anthology he was putting together called “Sex Dwarf.” I sent him “Hypnagogia” and he accepted it for publication. Not long after that, he invited me to attend something called Krall Con. It was described to me as a sort-of convention that took place in some sleazy motel in New Jersey, however not inside any rented convention space, but instead inside each of the hotel rooms of all in attendance. Everyone was to migrate from one room to another, and if you were there (as either a guest or as a fan) you too were expected to host some part of the event in your room over the weekend. Only 10-15 people in total were expected to attend (and I wasn’t sure if that number included me), so I respectfully declined his kind offer, but agreed to do a live reading via the internet.

The event itself was pretty wild, featuring live performances from noise bands, questionable beverages served in open Gatorade bottles, and topless dancers. I’m still a little bummed I missed out on it, to be honest.

Just before my reading was about to be broadcast to a room of lovable weirdos, I knew I had to do something over-the-top to compete with all the madness, so I emptied an entire tube of fake blood over my face and got to it. I read “Hypnagogia” in its entirety. The actual reading is a blur and I likely wouldn’t have remembered it at all if it wasn’t still available to view on YouTube. Oh, and I still have the bloody pages around here somewhere as well! I come across them every now and then and laugh.

Anyway, so the important part of this story is that one Joseph Bouthiette Jr (yes, THAT Joseph Bouthiette Jr) was one of the weirdos in attendance that evening. He wrote to me afterward and told me how much he enjoyed my reading. He asked me if I had any other “Eighth Block” stories—actually, he was much more aggressive… what he really said was, “There ARE other ‘Eighth Block’ stories, AREN’T THERE?!” I told him there weren’t, but he insisted that there should be more, MANY MORE. I considered it, but had too much on my plate at the moment to really give it serious thought.

Joe loved that story (probably still does). He brought it up often over the years and would always ask if I had written any more “Eighth Block stuff.” One day he happened to ask just as I was invited to contribute to two anthologies, and wouldn’t you know it, I had nothing to contribute. I thought about the themes of each anthology (one was for ‘slasher stories’ and the other had a kaiju requirement) and combined those themes with my weird little Eighth Block Tower setting. Within a couple weeks I had written “The Invalids,” my slasher story, and “Under Green Brain,” my kaiju story. I sent them to both the editor and to Joe.

Neither of the anthologies (“I, Kaiju” and “Three Blind Mice”) ever came out, unfortunately. Not uncommon in the world of publishing. However I wasn’t upset over it, cause I now had these stories to play around with.

I thought hard about these three stories, how they were connected. It had to be more than just that they were just residents in the Eighth Block Tower. Then it hit me: mental health. Each of these stories were about individuals struggling with their mental health. This was no coincidence, because at the time these stories were written, I was really struggling with my own depression/mental health. I couldnt help but to write about it.

Anyway, so once I found what connected them, suddenly the floodgates were thrown open and a rush of wild ideas came to me, all “Eighth Block stuff.” I couldn’t write fast enough.

I wrote the second book, “White Fuzz,” in 2 days. More on that later…

ODDITIES THEATER: Brian and Charles (2017)

It’s Saturday… do you know what that means? It’s time to GET WEIRD.

Today on Oddities Theater we’ll be watching the Jim Archer short Brian and Charles. This is the short film that inspired the 2022 feature-length film of the same name (which I saw and enjoyed in theaters yesterday).

Starring is David Earl, who I first saw on Ricky Gervais’ Derek series. He was one of the best things about the show. He was so hilarious that even his deleted scenes/alternate takes had me in hysterics. Check those out if you have some free time and need a good laugh.

If you like this short, consider seeing the new film Brian and Charles, in theaters now. See you next time!

ODDITIES THEATER: The Room (2003)

It’s Saturday and you know what that means… it’s time to GET WEIRD.

Alright, let’s do this.

This week, I’ve got a doosy for ya. For those who’ve already seen The Room, you already know what I’m talking about. This is one of the most bizarre films ever made, and not in the way that other films featured on Oddities Theater are bizarre either. This wasn’t intentional. It doesn’t even seem to have been made by a human being. It honestly feels like someone described a film to an alien from another planet and that alien made its own film based on the description, without ever having seen an actual film. Tommy Wiseau, writer/director of The Room, was actually trying to make the greatest film ever made, and it’s just… not. Not even close.

That isn’t to say the film is terrible, because it can’t be, right? I mean, it clearly brings a lot of joy to a large group of people (me included), so in that sense the film must actually be… good. It’s so confusing.

The film has garnered such a huge cult following that the making of it was actually immortalized in another film, The Disaster Artist, starring James Franco, Dave Franco, and Seth Rogen. After checking out The Room, I highly recommend checking the other film out as well. The making of The Room is just as strange as the movie itself. Good stuff.

People, this movie is nuts. But is is good or terrible? You be the judge.

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