Category: Events


Krampus Season is over

December 5 was officially Krampus Nacht, the night when St. Nick’s demonic helper, the Krampus, collects the all the naughty girls and boys, hits them with a switch and puts them in a basket to drag down to fiery depths of.. well, you know.

Of course, if it was just one night, it wouldn’t be fun, so the organization Krampus Los Angeles, put together a whole festival, spread out through Los Angeles county! The festival was in its second year and was a combination of traditional presentation and holiday party fun. The festival kicked off with a cultural presentation of the history of the Krampus, which was covered here. After that, however, things kicked into high gear with the Krampus Ball and the Krampus Run, finishing off with the traditional Krampus Play. View full article »

Writer Travis Beacham on Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim

Fans of Pacific Rim got a treat recently as the NuArt featured the blockbuster at one of its midnight movies! What’s more, co-writer Travis Beacham took the stage to answer a few questions! The event was arranged and hosted by Witney Seibold of the B-Movies Podcast. Read on for answers on the first draft, the inspirations for the film and Guillermo del Toro’s contributions!

Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots

Question: Do you hate the “Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots” Jokes?

Travis Beacham: Eh…I don’t hate ’em, I mean, I sort of see where they come from, you know, it’s just… it’s like… You go in and you know you’re not making, like, Chinatown, you know you’re not making, like, A River Run Through It, you know you’re making a giant robot versus giant monster movie. So I don’t hate it, but I’d like to think there is more to it than that, but I don’t resent anyone for saying that there’s not. You know, it’s all totally subjective. We all bring our own sort of baggage to it when we watch it.

On Godzilla and Pacific Rim

Witney Seibold: This is very anime-inspired, very Godzilla-inspired. This is a Legendary film… Legendary also owns Godzilla… Has anyone approached you yet about the crossover between Pacific Rim and Godzilla?

Travis Beacham: I have not been officially approached about it, but it definitely is something that’s been discussed, you know, in and out of the room, you know… I’m not going to say “never”, but as I like to say, I’d like to get a few other Pacific Rim movies out there… you know, lay the groundwork, you know… I don’t want Godzilla to eat my whole baby!

Prequels

Question: Do you ever see the possibility of a prequel happening?

Travis Beacham: I really hope so. I really, really hope so! At first when we were talking about stuff like that it was like, “Oh, no way! Sequel, sequel, sequel!” but even now behind the scenes we’re starting to talk about prequels more and more. That’s an area of the timeline that’s just breezed over in the movie that I think is really interesting. Because then you can bring the Russians back and you can bring Pentercost back…

Witney Seibold: Yeah, those Russians… fuck you for killing those Russians, by the way, I love those guys!

Travis Beacham: They sacrificed themselves, and you know what? They knew what they were signing up for!

Witney Seibold: They are a noble people! A moment of silence for the Russians!

The Original Draft

Question: One of my favorite characters in the original draft was the Ivo Czerny, the doctor. I remember reading a while back that Willem DaFoe was attached to that role. I was curious what led to that entire arc being cut out?

Travis Beacham: It went through a simplification process. That’s just the trajectory of any movie of this size. You’re developing it, you know, there’s concerns from execs, that “is this too much to deal with”. Originally we went into the Drift and stuff like that in a lot more detail and we’re saving that now for later movies, we have an animated series coming out, we have graphic novels, but it was decided, you know, for this movie, for it to stand on its own, to work on its own, we had to focus on the plot lines that really told the kernel of the story that we really thought was important. And so that stuff was jettisoned for this draft. That’s not to say that this stuff won’t show up in later bits of the mythology.

Witney Seibold: Will you bring the character back?

Travis Beacham: I’m not gonna say! I’m not gonna say! If you’ve read the first draft, there’s things you might recognize later on.

Witney Seibold: I feel like the monsters in this one get a little bit short shrift. You watch the old Godzilla movies and they’re really overly explained and that’s kind of one of my favorite parts. Did you write more of the monster personalities in the draft or just sort of in a bible?

Travis Beacham: The first draft had a very lengthy… at the beginning where there’s a montage there was actually a very lengthy kaiju voiceover… I’m just kidding!

The Kaiju

Question: I noticed that there was really sort of a plot thread in the movie about Kaiju Blue that doesn’t really get fleshed out a lot. Did you intend to do more with that, or intend to do more with it in the future?

Travis Beacham: We do intend to do more with that in the future. The whole idea there being that Kaiju Blue, you know, where the Kaijus bleed, it’s really poisonous. I can’t remember how much detail they go into that in the movie, but it’s in the mythology and the [movie] bible. The idea being that even if you were to beat one of these things, they’re dangerous in death. So you can’t even blow it up without, like, without killing a bunch of people. So on every level the Kaiju were designed to be sort of the perfect weapons that you throw at a civilization and there’s nothing they can do about it. EXCEPT BUILD GIANT ROBOTS!

Question: What is your favorite Jaeger and your favorite Kaiju?

Travis Beacham: My favorite Jaeger would probably… it’s the boring answer, it’s the generic answer, but probably Gipsy Danger? Because it’s the first one that I named, the first one that I thought of… and I look at her and some many things like the little nose art of the scantily clad lady riding the bomb on the chest and the fact that she’s blue… I just remember so much of that description from the first draft and it’s rewarding to write something and to just see it on screen like that. Especially for feature writers where your drafts go through so many changes that by the time it gets to the screen it bears very little resemblance to what your wrote.

Guillermo del Toro

Witney Seibold: You’re only credited as co-screenwriter on this movie. It was sort of your idea, but Guillermo del Toro took a lot of it and added a lot of his own stuff. What did he add?

Travis Beacham: He adds a whole sensibility that I think he brings to everything that he does. And I think there’s a sense of fun that wasn’t necessarily there in my first draft? My first drafts tend to come out very long and dour and serious. It was pretty long. It was pushing like 150 [pages], I think… yeah. See, I had a lot of fights, but they were short fights. And Guillermo, I think quite wisely, said “No, let’s only focus on a few fights”. That moment where Gipsy Danger takes the oil tanker and smacks the Kaiju with it, that’s the perfect example of what Guillermo brought to the table.

Writing The Movie

Witney Seibold: Were you inspired by any movies specifically, because I see a lot of “Robot Jox” in this movie. There’s a lot of Godzilla in this movie.. I know this is just sort of an homage to all of that but were you thinking of any one film in particular?

Travis Beacham: Never any one in particular, I was just sort of moving back and forth between them, just depending on what the scenes were. I think, when I was watching Godzilla movies as a kid, I was always frustrated with that thirty minute chunk before Godzilla shows up, just people in suits, like, talking to each other.

Witney Seibold: All Godzilla movies are like 90 minutes long. First 30 minutes, no monster, next thirty minutes, monster shows up, next thirty minutes monster fight. That’s every Godzilla movie.

Travis Beacham: And I knew if we had a giant monster thing and it wasn’t tied to any brand that couldn’t be a boring part. The people had to be interesting, you know, they had to be just as interesting as the monsters. So that’s really what we tried to do.

Question: Were there any giant fighting robot anime that were an inspiration or just giant fighting robots in general?

Travis Beacham: It was both. I really like Evangelion, was always like a touchstone, I think, and it was so serious. When I was a kid I remember, like, Voltron, you know, that was sort of like my first, you know, “Oh yeah!”. When you see these latter-day anime takes on it, they’re more tailored for adults. I think that really opened my eyes to… I really liked Big-O on cartoon network! Art Deco giant robot, yeah! Fantastic! I could go on and on and on, but it was like a general sort of love of it all, I think.

Witney Seibold: Is the upcoming animated series anime designed or is it American?

Travis Beacham: It’s somewhere in between. It’s sort of like the American-slash-anime style, you know. But the stuff I’ve seen looks really great. But it focuses on characters and tells a part of the story that I think is going to be surprising to people.

Question: I wanted to know if it was a conscious decision and if it was a fight that Raleigh and Mako don’t kiss?

Travis Beacham: It was a conscious decision and it wasn’t a fight, really, though. Because we kept going back and forth on the development of the screenplay. Like, “Should they kiss? Should they not kiss?” and there were times when it took place over a longer time. There were drafts where the movie took place over the course of weeks, or months even, and they had time to develop a relationship, but as we developed the story and it got more and more compressed, there just wasn’t… there was no believable amount of time to pass for them to develop that sort of relationship. And so we thought, instead of force it and have this obligatory sort of romance, to have it naturally develop and then it ends wherever it ends. I think that’s the non-patronizing way of doing it. I’m not, in general I’m not opposed to romances between lead characters, what I’m really opposed to is when you have the female character who seems to only be there to reward the man at the end with a kiss.

Witney Seibold: With this one, the reward is “Monster” and “Punch”

Question: I have to say that “Tonight we’re cancelling the Apocalypse” is probably one of the best motivational speeches since, I don’t know, Bill Pullman in Independence Day… Was that you?

Travis Beacham: Thank you! Thank you! Yes, yes that was my line. It was around the time, I can’t remember, it was like 2012 or something… I just got sick of people always talking about the Apocalypse, talking like the end of the world was near, that kind of thing. And through all these arguments and discussions I was having with these people, this line just poured out of me, just like, it was like, “We’re fucking CANCELLING the Apocalypse! You know what? Our footprints are on the fucking moon, you know? We’re not just going to sit down and die! We’re canceling the Apocalypse!” Yeah, I wrote that line.

Witney Seibold: Were there other zingers that you were proud of that didn’t make it into the final one?

Travis Beacham: I think all the zingers, all the really good ones, the whole thing about fighting a hurricane, that was one of my favorites, cancelling the Apocalypse… no, I think all of my favorite-favorite lines are basically in there. I wish I could say there was some golden speech or something that you’ll never see, that was lost like all volumes in the fires of Alexandria, but no, it’s all up there, so…

Thanks for the memories

Audience Member: I just wanted to say, thank you for the thought you put into it. So often, these action films, they’re so thoughtless, so I really appreciate not only, visually, it’s such a visual orgasm, but the thought that goes into the story line. So thank you!

Travis Beacham: Thank you, thank you! No, that means a lot to hear! Thank you so much!

Witney Seibold: I would love to see the phrase “A visual orgasm” on the poster!

Travis Beacham: Yeah, that’s the pull quote!

And with that, Travis and Witney got off the stage and the movie began! And it was indeed a visual orgasm… Until next time, folks!

The Alone Experience: Being Alone has never been so captivating.

The Alone Mask

The Alone Experience, a Halloween maze in it’s second year, breaks the haunted house mold with an inventive, personal, psychological horror theme. Combined with the optional treasure hunt and the complementary drink at the end of the run, the Alone Experience provides excellent enjoyment for the price. There are still a few kinks to work out, but for anyone looking for something new, the Experience is well worth checking out.

I found out about The Alone Experience through an article on LAist, titled The Most Beautifully Constructed Haunted House in Los Angeles. What intrigued me was not only the description of the attraction, but also the optional treasure hunt that could be had before you actually go to The Alone Experience itself. This is something I had not seen before in more conventional haunts and I was eager to see what happened.

The Seek and Hunt

Enola PamphletThe first stop on the hunt (or what I like to call the “Seek and Hunt” since there is no actual treasure) was a small store at the junction of Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s an artsy vintage shop with no indication that it is connected in any way with Alone. When I asked about the mysterious “Enola Foundation“, however, I was given a pamphlet along with a number to call.

Calling the number gave me a recorded message that then set me to a nearby library. Unfortunately, the library had already closed for the evening. I literally walked around the premises for somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes before giving up and contacting someone at Alone to ask for help. Fortunately I was put on the right path in a few minutes, but this did put a slight damper on my adventure. Right up until the hint came, I was convinced that the library didn’t need to be open for me to get the next clue. It would have required me to take off from work early to get there before the library closed and that didn’t seem fair.

Eventually I was led to a tavern which seemed empty for a Halloween night. The woman behind the bar was dressed as a nun and asked me what she could get for me. If you ever find your way to this tavern, I ordered a Kona Longboard, which wasn’t too bad. I also gave her a secret password. She was good; I didn’t see any hint of recognition in her face as she got me the drink. I was seriously wondering if I had come to the wrong place. When I pulled out my wallet to pay for the drink, I could feel her lean in close. I looked up and saw her staring at me right in the eyes with a devilish grin while tapping the counter to the rhythm of “Feed My Frankenstein“, which was blaring over the radio. After receiving my money, she walked away as if nothing had happened. Underneath the napkin was a token with a triangle etched in it-the symbol of The Alone Experience. My “Seek and Hunt” adventure was over.

I admit I was a little disappointed that it was over. I actually looked around the bar to see if there was another clue somewhere, but the token was the final prize for my adventure. I finished my drink, left a tip and headed to main event.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/pN24sXI5oVA]

The Alone Experience

The Alone Experience PostcardThe Alone Experience is situated in the Fashion District of the city. That sounds more upscale than it actually is. As I drove by, there were tents all along the sidewalk where homeless people slept. At least the people not forced to stand under doorways or sleep out in the open. There was even a half-crazy man in a dingy suit, wandering up and down the sidewalk as I drove by the attraction. This definitely put me on edge for my general safety in the area.

All is not as it seems, however. As an oblique hint, let’s just say the mask of reality is pulled off when your own mask is put on. Leave it at that. Oh, and your mask gets painted as well. It’s fun.

Guests arriving to The Alone Experience wait in a small area in an alleyway. People in very clean white medical coats take their name and make them sign a waiver stating that they can be touched, will get wet and may get dirty. Then, guests are called up in groups of five and led to a loading dock. A dilapidated elevator slowly lowers and the Experience is on. And ho boy, is it on…

[youtube=http://youtu.be/midfN6he5yA]

How The Experience Worked

It would be unfair to relate what actually happened in the Experience, but it is worth noting how it was put together. The creators of The Alone Experience were very clever and the attraction did a great deal with very little. Much of the Experience involved darkened hallways, crawlspaces and being spontaneously covered in hoods and led around. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much, but the attraction specialized in a more cerebral psychological scare than jump-outs or fancy effects. Also, the multiple websites created for the attraction, phone numbers with professional voicemail greetings, pamphlets and other accessories give the sense that the Experience is larger and more sophisticated than it actually is. It’s smoke and mirrors on a larger scale.

The concept behind the Experience is ultimately about trying to unnerve and disorient, forcing the guests to almost scare themselves via blinding lights, constant droning through hidden speakers and an endless amount of touching, pushing, pulling and directing from seen and unseen forces. While not truly terrifying, The Alone Experience is aptly named. It’s an experience that challenges guests by, in a way, forcing them to haunt themselves.

The Unicorn

The unicorn scene was probably the most interesting decision of the Experience. With all other sections of the Experience being focused on disturbing guests, the unicorn scene was the exact opposite. I had read about this moment, but wasn’t quite sure what I would find. I would say, however, that the moment was something of a vacation from the rest of the attraction. Not everyone will realize that this isn’t supposed to be a scary moment, but those that do will find some bright silly fun before being sent off to finish the rest of the story. I can’t speak for the creators of The Alone Experience, but I think that this scene was a chance to take a quick break before continuing on. In any event, I couldn’t help having a fun time with the unicorn, right up until someone ripped open the door to the dance room and yanked me on my way.

When The Experience Ends

At the end of the run, guests end up in a lounge where a bartender hands over a complementary drink. When I arrived there, I found a couple from my group and immediately began comparing notes. The boyfriend was nearly ejected for poking and punching anyone and everything around him. Someone actually told him if he didn’t calm down he would be ejected from the site. His girlfriend was wildly different and was terrified of absolutely everything. It seems that the Experience was customized on a per-guest basis. The girlfriend was treated in ways that didn’t come close to what I went through. She had ribbons tied on her and was even held by the throat and interrogated. This never happened to me. It seems you get out of it what you put into it (so to speak). Following this discussion, I headed out into the night to continue my Halloween adventures.

Conclusion

The Alone Experience is wide shift from the standard Halloween fare. How people feel about it will depend on what people are like prior to entering. I went through a very cerebral journey with very few conventional scares. Others were terrified left and right. Online, some reported boredom. Yet, despite this, it is one of the most inventive Halloween attractions I’ve been to in a while. Combined with the treasure hunt from earlier, and I have to say The Alone Experience was a bargain for what I got.

Halloween has come and gone, but give if you’re looking for something different, be sure to give it a try next October. And remember… Alone Loves You. Breathe.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Ack5U1TU-r8]

Image of Sharknado poster

Proof that either there is no God, or that He hates us and wants us to be unhappy

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.
– Benjamin Franklin

Unfortunately, Mr. Franklin could not have foreseen how the world would changes over two hundred years later. If he had… well, the quote above might have been a little different.

Happy Monday, folks! Syfy has announced Sharknado Week! Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Syfy has announced a week’s worth of Sharknado from July 26 to August 1 to celebrate the arrival of Sharknado 2: The Second One. This on top of news about a month ago that Syfy had already ordered Sharknado 3.

Why this is bad

Perhaps there’s an “Old Person” in your life. You know what I’m talking about. Some old curmudgeon who constantly talks about how things were better “back in the day”, when kids “knew what was good for ’em” and “respected their elders” and “didn’t set fire to the carpet”. The reality of it is that these things were never true. Things were never better “back then”, they were just good or bad in different ways.

Sharknado is the exception to all this. Sharknado is the Paris Hilton of movies. It’s bad, it’s stupid, and it doesn’t care. That’s fine once in a while. I could see Sharknado being a guilty pleasure to be found on cable at around 3 in the morning. I might even find a way to accept Sharknado 2, mostly on the title alone. But Sharknado 3? And a week’s worth of celebration for the release of Sharknado 2? Genocide has occurred for lesser reasons.

That Sharknado went viral is a testament to both the perversity of entertainment and the sad reflection that there just wasn’t that much out there to compete for our interest. That a second one was put into production is almost expected because of how profitable the first one was. That a THIRD movie has already been ordered puts on display, front and center just how desperate Syfy is to get eyeballs. If Sharknado 2 does well enough to financially justify a third one, it will be a testament to poor taste in modern culture.

Remember when Syfy was SciFi?

I remember when the SciFi channel first came went on the air. I was sharing an apartment with a pot dealer (back when weed was basically illegal instead how it is now as kinda-sorta legal) and staying up late to check out this new science fiction channel that was sharing time with a Home Shopping Network knock off. I remember innovative programming. For example, inbetween shows, mixed in with the commercial breaks there were clips of “This Moment in Science”. Each day recalled a new scientific breakthrough that happened at some point in the past. I watched hours of programming just to get those snippets. There were talk shows analyzing science fiction shows, Twilight Zone marathons where viewers picked the episodes and more.

Then SciFi got big. The crap shows started coming in. The movies dropped from interesting-but-low-budget to B-movie, to C-movie, and finally to Sharknado. SciFi became Syfy because the owners of the channel couldn’t figure out how to be hip to the new crowd. The Asylum, the company behind Sharknado, has become the main content provider for the monumental crap that Syfy (which should be pronounced “siff-ee”) puts out. The great science fiction channel turned into intellectual toe-cheese. Sharknado 3. Ugh.

God hates us and wants us to be unhappy

We need a good science fiction channel. SciFi used to be it, but apparently the human race is not allowed to have nice things. There must be a way to bring back the good stuff without it devolving into populist crap for the lowest common denominator. I wish I knew the answer, but it looks like no good deed goes unpunished. For every quality channel out there pushing worthy goods, there is a multitude of channels like Syfy pushing crap like Sharknado. God hates us and wants us to be unhappy. But, like Banksy says, there is always hope.

Baby Predator wins Wondercon

Those of you following our Facebook page know we’ve been posting images of cosplayers throughout the 2014 Wondercon. Well, you can stop looking at cosplayers, now. The contest has been won. Ladies and gentlemen, Quantum Pop presents Baby Predator:

baby predator

Isn’t the little tyke adorable?

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Cybathlon aims to be the cybernetic Olympics for disabled athletes

Whenever we think of sports, we think of highly trained, incredibly fit athletic individuals who have honed their bodies to perfection for their chosen sport. Rarely do we think of people who are missing limbs, use wheelchairs, or suffer from other disabilities. Cybathlon is a project that is going to try to change this perception some time in 2016. Cybathlon’s goal is the combination of robotics with disabled athletes as pilots to create a sport competition that mixes high technology with the competitive human spirit. If played right, it could work.

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