I never thought I'd say it, but I'm getting a little bit bored with the whole vampire thing. I don't know what did it, really --Ã?it might have been "Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000," or having my computer freeze while attempting to download a complete list of Anne Rice novels -- but I've become so blasé about the ubiquity of bloodsuckers in the mass media that I'm about ready to donate my VHS copy of "Scariest Moments From Dark Shadows" to Transylvania Goodwill.
Here comes Gregory Patrick to the rescue. Correctly judging that ennui-ridden Renfields like me are legion these days, the writer/actor/performance artist has created a new monster to haunt all our dreams. The lid comes off the coffin in "The Phantom Ghores," a trade paperback and accompanying soundtrack CD Patrick is about to market.
What are Phantom Ghores?
According to the author, they're a special breed of fiends whose delicately groomed exteriors hide any number of underlying horrors. Like vampires, they're deadly; unlike vampires, they kill for sport and/or social prominence, not physical sustenance. They're boisterous, vain and color-blind. They use cologne and perfume to cover up the stench of their walking-corpse physiognomy. And as shown in the novel, they spend a lot of time hanging out in cabarets and cafés in Berlin -- which is where Patrick did his own tour of mingling duty a few years back.
"The Phantom Ghore is a symbol of social arrogance and lack of personality," its creator says. (Yep, just like the SUV.)
The 400-page book will arrive in stores this September, but it's already on sale at www.gregorypatrick.net. There won't be an e-book edition, however: Patrick went that route last September by trying to float an online edition of his autobiography, "Foe." Like Stephen King before him, he discovered that the idea was simply ahead of its time.
Also available at the site is the "Phantom Ghores" CD, a collection of instrumental pieces written and recorded by Patrick in his home studio and fleshed out with dialogue snippets and sound effects. The disc hits the racks Aug. 3 at Park Avenue CDs, Waxtree, Peaches and East-West CDs & Tapes; the previous evening, a "Release the Dead" party will be held at Barbarella. The festivities will include giveaways of a second, limited-edition CD and "House Rules," a guide to typical Phantom Ghore activities and behaviors. Attire requested at the affair is 1930s Gothic, with a $50 prize "silently awarded" to the best-dressed participant.
"Silently?" You have to love a contest that doles out rewards according to the shut-up-and-put-it-in-your-pocket paradigm. Now if we could just get Wes Craven to pipe down, too, everything would be hunky dory.
Full (Ed) Wood
Just to prove that my appreciation of trash culture hasn't been completely consumed by snobbishness, I strongly encourage you to attend the free outdoor screening of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" that's scheduled for Aug. 4 at Heritage Square. Sure, you've likely seen the movie too many times already (and that's not even counting those slavishly faithful re-enactments in Ed Wood). Yes, it's become a cliché of irony made E-Z. But it's impossible for me not to endorse a public gathering with a central motif of group derision.
Dress to mock. Hurl insults at the screen. And cross your fingers that the Orange County Regional History Center keeps the vilification-as-entertainment campaign going. Next step: Installing an actual stockade in the square.
There was a little too much of Plan 9 going on in "The Beauty of Rigor Mortis," one of the more poorly received plays at last April's Orlando International Fringe Festival. Actor Rory Penland, who was conscripted to replace an injured cast member halfway through the show's performance run, had to read his lines to the house from a barely disguised script he carried around the stage. (Cue Johnny Depp, this time in the role of a Lillie Stoates judge: "That was perfect!") But Biting Monkey Productions, the pack of moonlighting Skull Kingdom employees responsible for "Rigor Mortis," soldiers on undeterred. Its latest project is "Dr. Lobster's Super Sci-Fi Theater," a weekly series of late-night sketch-comedy revues due to begin Aug. 17 at the Central Florida Theatre Alliance's Studio Theatre.
For "Dr. Lobster," the Monkeys have forged a project-specific performance troupe that features five Skull Kingdom folks -- including Penland, who used to do sketch comedy in Tampa but describes his current vocation as "scaring Brazilian tourists on the weekends." The remaining four "Lobster"-ites (Sak Comedy Lab alumnus Darren Humphrey among them) were found via recent auditions.
The shows will consist entirely of send-ups of the science-fiction and horror genres. A sketch that's planned for the first "episode" finds the X-Men soliciting new mutant recruits in Alabama; another, self-explanatory bit is titled "Andrew Lloyd Webber's Friday the 13th." ("It was a big hit in Tampa a couple of years ago," Penland says, unintentionally coining a 21st-century apologia that's even better than "Our band is huge in Belgium.")
Penland is aware of the obstacles in "Dr. Lobster's" path: Not only is the project tightly focused from a thematic standpoint, but the Monkeys shouldn't count on Amelia Street to provide much walk-in traffic -- not around midnight on a Friday, anyway.
"We're concerned that we're going to be performing for six people," Penland admits. Still, he and his comrades are planning on doing the show "every Friday night until we decide not to." (The lineup of sketches will change once per month.)
Performances will feature live musical accompaniment, and the average running time will be a whopping 80 minutes, including intermission.
"We're practicing improv comedy in case the show runs short," Penland says. Better yet, toss him a script of your own to read.
A scholarship fund has been established in memory of Jonathan Mednick, the University of Central Florida film professor who died June 7 of a brain aneurysm. Contributions will help UCF film-school students to complete their senior projects. (Lisa Garthwaite, a class-of-2001 graduate who's coordinating the memorial effort, says that the average cost of one of last year's 10-minute senior films was $6,000.) Send donations to The Jonathan Mednick Memorial Fund, c/o Chris Roberts, 139 W. 19th St., New York, NY 10011. It's a great use for that tax-refund check you've been promised by President Shrub -- assuming, of course, that the sucker doesn't bounce.