Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stunt Man Tribute

I wanted to post this tribute to the stunt men who worked on my film "Revelation Road 2:  The Sea of Glass and Fire."   They pulled off all of these stunts and more in ONE DAY.  Stunt Coordinator - Monte Perlin.  Stunt driver - Justin DeRosa.  Stunts by Monte Perlin, Brian Bosworth, Marverick, Ron Kari.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Open My Eyes" wraps in Florida

Director Gabriel Alfonzo

My new film, "Open My Eyes," directed by Gabriel Alfonzo, just finished twenty-one days of shooting in Florida.  Gabriel Alfonzo had directed a number of Spanish-language films.  "Open My Eyes" is his first English-language film.  I'm very excited.  I've been waiting for a director to give one of my scripts a hot, Latin feel.

Here's the synopsis from the IMDB:

"Photographer Paul Sanders has a passion for beauty - especially beautiful women.  But in his spiritual blindness, he admires on the creation and not the creator.  When Paul becomes physically blinded in a freak accident, he is forced to reconsider what true beauty means - and where it comes from.  With the help of Abigail, a recovering alcoholic and down-on-her-luck singer, Paul realizes the meaning of love and the power of the Gospel to change people's lives.  Although he can no longer see, for the first time in his life, his eyes are open.  A film of faith and forgiveness, "Open My Eyes" proves that even the hardest hearts can be turned and that broken lives can be healed if only we are willing to believe."

How did I get involved?  Let me tell you.

For a number of years, I have posted scripts on the webpage InkTip.   In fact, the folks at the Kairos Prize paid to list my winning script, "I, John."  One day, Gabriel contacted the folks at InkTip looking for a screenwriter with faith-based experience.  They pointed him to me.  It was a happy marriage because he had already seen and enjoyed some of my previous films.

Gabriel came up with the original concept of the film.  He had previously hired a writer, but he wasn't happy with the results.  He initially wanted me to re-write the script.  However, I didn't like the original script either.  I liked the original idea, but I thought the script went off in an entirely wrong direction.  I told him I wanted to start over again, and I wrote a long, detailed treatment.  He liked the treatment and wanted to hire me.  There was only one problem.  He wanted to go into production immediately, and I was already bogged down on other projects.   I was working on the contentious treatment for "Revelation Road 3," writing the first draft of "The Shallow Grave," and finishing up the re-writes of "The Engineer."  I wasn't sure I would be able to finish it on time alone.  I needed help, and I knew just the right person.

Timothy Ratajczak and I hadn't written a script together in over a year or two.  We had worked on nine scripts together over five years, but now we were working separately.  Why?  Simple economics.  We were paid the same amount of money per script whether we worked on it together or separately.  By working separately, we both doubled our income.  Fortunately, Tim had the time to work on this script with me and Gabriel gave his approval so we could hang up the shingle once again.  Even working together, however, we were a week or so late.  Still, it all worked out well.  Everyone was happy with the script and we can't wait to see the footage!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best Documentary: "Sacred Ground: The Battle for Mount Auburn Cemetery"

I am proud to announce that my documentary, "Sacred Ground:  The Battle for Mount Auburn Cemetery," won the Best Documentary Award at the Churches Making Movies Film Festival in New Jersey.  I want to thank the festival, and all of the people who helped make the film a reality.  I also hope the award will bring further attention to the plight of Baltimore's historic African-American cemetery.  The film is currently being considered by a number of cable networks and film distributors.

Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Writer Tip #7: How To Make Movies For A Living

If you want to write movies for a living, work with people who make movies for a living.  They're the ones who can keep you busy and put food on your table.  Don't get excited when you get interest from someone who makes a film once every five years.  Unless it's Stanley Kubrick, and he's dead.    If your producer is still working a side job, you shouldn't anticipate him freeing you from yours.

The film business is pretty much like every other business.  The more you work, the greater your income.  Seek connections with people who regularly make movies.  Not just a guy who made a grade-Z zombie film seven years ago.

That's pretty much it.

Other Tips:

Be sure to check out my book The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God.  It is available in paperback and on Kindle courtesy of TouchPoint Press.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Sacred Ground: The Battle For Mount Auburn Cemetery" plays Churches Making Movies Film Festival.

My documentary, "Sacred Ground:  The Battle For Mount Auburn Cemetery" just played the Churches Making Movies Film Festival in New Jersey.    This is fifth film festival to play the recently completed film.

Director David Butler and myself at the festival.

"Sacred Ground:  The Battle For Mount Auburn Cemetery" is a feature-length documentary about community activists and family members battling a Methodist church for control of historic Mount Auburn Cemetery.  For years, Mount Auburn was the only place in Baltimore, Maryland, where African-Americans could be buried.  It is final resting place of lightweight boxing champion Joe Gans, the first African-American world champion in any sport, and numerous leaders of the early civil rights movement.  It is a registered historic landmark that has fallen into such horrifying condition hat bones litter the ground and weeds cover all but the highest monuments.  It is a tale of grave robbing, grave recycling and every other terrible thing that could possibly happen in a cemetery.

Timothy Ratajczak, Festival Organizer LaVonne McIver James and yours truly

Here is the trailer:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gaming the IMDb

The Internet Movie Database is an essential tool for all aspiring filmmakers.  Even established ones.  It is the single best source for information for and about people in the motion picture business.  Trust me, whenever someone in Hollywood hears your name for the first time, they immediately type it into the IMDb.  The IMDb usually tells them all they need to know:  whether you are credible.  You're not anyone, unless you're on the IMDb.

Surprisingly, considering its industry-wide use and acceptance, the bulk of the information is provided by users.  Therefore, it is open to manipulation.  And, if you a young filmmaker marketing a low-budget indie film, you should manipulate it, but be smart about it.

1).  Getting your film on the IMDb.

In the old days, the hardest thing was getting you undistributed film onto the site itself.  The managers only want to include "real" films.  Therefore, unless your film featured some well-known individuals, you had to provide evidence that it had actually been screened before the public.  Fortunately that is not a problem anymore for the independent filmmaker anymore.  Go and register your film on the sister website  Withoutabox is a fabulous service that helps independent filmmakers submit their films to festivals.  And, at the basic level, it is free.  More importantly, if you register your film with, it automatically goes onto the IMDb.  Viola!  Problem solved.  What are you waiting for?

2).  Rating your film.

IMDb users can rate your film on a one-to-ten scale, one being the worse, ten being the best.  Obviously, since film festivals and potential distributors will check the IMDb, you want a good rating.  So what do you do?  You send out an email to all of your cast and crew and friend and families and ask them to give your film a good rating.  You do the same thing on Twitter and Facebook.  A couple days later you check on film and discover that eighty-seven people gave it a ten-star rating.  Whoopppeee!  Sadly, however, you overall rating is now only 1.2.  Why?  The IMDb has an algorithm to detect cheating.  And, once the program flags your film, it will be a long, hard slog to get it out of the basement.

Personally, I've frequently had this problem without any cheating involved.  I have written mainly faith-based films which people either love or hate.  They elicit a tremendous amount of ones and tens.  It usually takes months of genuine release before IMDb algorithm brings the overall rating up to reflect reality.

How does the young indie filmmaker get around this and still get a good score?  Easy.  Get all of your friends to rate the film but make sure they are varying the vote.  Make sure most of votes are in the five-to-nine rate.  Throw in an occasional one-or-two, too.  That way, it looks more honest, and you'll end up with a higher overall score in the end.

3).  User reviews.

Of course you want your potential distributor to see a host of glowing user reviews about your film on the IMDb, and I'm sure your friends, family, cast and crew are perfectly willing to provide them.  However, you have to make them credible.  Whenever I check out an extremely low-profile indie film, I am always suspicious when I see ten or fifteen glowing, 10-star reviews.  I test my suspicions by simply clicking on the users to see how many other reviews they have written.  If this is the only film they reviewed, I know it is by someone with a vested interested.  All credibility is lost.  Therefore, if you want to review your film (or have others do the same), take the time to review at least five or six other films as well.  It will give your review more credibility.  Also, if you're doing a question and answer session at a film festival, be sure to ask the audience to review the film on IMDb themselves when they get home.  If they really liked your film, they just might!

4) .  Credits.

Okay.  You just made your indie film.  It was low budget, so, not only did you write, produce and direct, you also did the cinematography, production design, location scouting, make-up, hair, wardrobe, set decorating, casting, transportation, lighting, editing, craft services, etc., etc., etc.

Don't be an idiot.  Don't list every job you performed.  Nothing is more embarrassing than having fifteen credits on the IMDb and having them all on one film.  Distributors aren't going to notice that and think, "Wow, this man is Orson Welles reincarnated.  We must have this film!"  No.  What they will think is:  "Man, this most be a really low budget piece of sh*t.  They couldn't afford to hire anybody."  Trust me, if you are the director, you are going to get all the credit for the success of the film anyway.  It is unnecessary to give yourself credit for every job you performed.  I don't list everything I did on films.  Here's my rule of thumb:  I don't take a credit unless I am seeking work in that discipline.

Those are my accumulated words of wisdom.  Good luck gaming the IMDb, my fellow filmmakers.

Here's my IMDb listing:  Sean Paul Murphy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass and Fire" released

"Revelation Road 2:  The Sea of Glass and Fire," starring Brian Bosworth, Eric Roberts, Andrea Logan White, Tracey Melchior, Steve "Sting" Borden, Madison Gibney and, of course, Mr. Christian Cinema Himself David A.R. White was released on Blu Ray and DVD.  If you liked the first film, you'll probably enjoy the second one.  As our 16th President Abraham Lincoln said:  "People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like."  And, fear not, the third film is currently in the works.

Normally, I like to go to Walmart on the day one of my films gets released to get a picture.  Unfortunately, all of the copies stocked at my local Walmart were sold by 1pm.  That has to be a good sign.

However, fortunately for fans of the film, there were still copies available at the nearby Target.  (If you notice, the film is three cents cheaper at Walmart.)

See you at the release of "Revelation Road 3:  The Red Horseman."   (The title is tentative.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass and Fire" released today.

My film "Revelation Road 2:  The Sea of Glass and Fire," starring David A.R. White, Brian Bosworth, Eric Roberts, Angela Logan White, Steve "Sting" Borden, Ray Wise, Tracy Melchior and Madison Gibney, and goes into limited theatrical release today.  The film, co-written and directed by Gabe Sabloff, also simultaneously hits VOD.  Check it out OnDemand with your local cable provider.

Here's the trailer:

Here's the trailer for the original film:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Betrayed" featured on CBS News

"Betrayed," the Emmy award-winning film I wrote for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counter Intelligence Division, was recently featured in this story on CBS news.  The film, illustrating the insider threat, will be part of a campaign in response to recent acts of espionage by people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.   Here's the story.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"The Book of Esther" hits Walmart

"The Book of Esther," sharply written by the mighty Timothy Ratajczak and directed by David A.R. White, was recently released by PureFlix Entertainment.

I edited the film and I found it quite enjoyable.  The film, based on the Biblical Book of Esther, is a battle of wits between the wise Jewish Mordecai and his anti-Semite nemesis Haman for influence over the young Persian king Xerxes.  Haman will settle for nothing less than the annihilation of Jewish people, but Mordicai has an ace in the hold:  His beautiful niece Esther who won the heart of the king.

The film is highlighted by wonderful performances.  The beautiful Jen Lilley gives a heartfelt performance as Esther.  Robert Miano gives a thoughtful performance as Mordecai, but Thaoo Penghlis steals the movie as the evil Haman.  I would also like to compliment newcomer Joel Smallbone, from the band King & Country (and the brother of Rebecca St. James,) and Mark Irvingsen as the comic relief eunuch Gaspar.  One thing I always enjoy about Tim's scripts is that he always finds a way to inject humor into even the darkest subjects.

Be sure to check it out.

Here's the trailer:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Do You See What I See?" Plays at the Annapolis Film Festival

"Do You See What I See?" recently had an enthusiastic sold-out screening at the Annapolis Film Festival.

"Do You See What I See?" is a reworking of my first produced feature film, "21 Eyes," which was co-written and directed by Lee Bonner and produced by David Butler.  This is a not a simple Directors Cut.  It is radical rethink. We even shot new footage for this version.

"21 Eyes" is a found footage film told from the perspective of two police detectives watching the security camera footage of a bloody but seemingly open-and-shut robbery.  The two detectives are never shown directly on camera.  The audience only hears their voices and sees what they see on the television.  The film, and its unique perspective, made it a favorite of festival audiences throughout the country, but general audiences sometimes found the concept hard to understand.  This new version simplifies the film and makes it much easier to understand and follow.  It is also funnier, too.  That's the most important thing.  (I always considered the film primarily a comedy.)

I want to give a shout-out to some of the performers in the film.  The lovely Rebecca Mader, who made her feature film debut with us, went on to become a regular on the series "Lost" and starred in films like "The Devil Wears Prada" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats."  Chance Kelly, who I believe had his first real featured role with us, went on to become a regular on the HBO mini-series "Generation Kill" and the series "Fringe" and "House of Cards."  Fisher Stevens even won an Academy Award as the producer of the documentary "The Cove."  We definitely had some great people!

Here are director Lee Bonner, producer David Butler and myself at the question and answer session following the film at the festival.    (I'm the fat guy.)

Here's the trailer:  Do You See What I See?

"Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End" Released

"Revelation Road:  The Beginning of the End," my new film starring Brian Bosworth, Ray Wise, Eric Roberts, and the king of faith-based films himself, David A.R. White, has been released on DVD and BluRay and appears to be a huge success.  It has been picked up by a wide range of brick and mortar retailers including WalMart and Target.  The preliminary sales numbers have been really good.  You'll be able to find the film in RedBox starting April 16th, and its been streaming like crazy on Netflix.  Most amazingly, it reached number 45 on the Movie Index on the IMDB..  It is stunning that a little independent faith-based film with a tiny promotional budget could compete with mainstream Hollywood product and reach that level of awareness.  Kudos to everyone involved in the production, especially director and co-writer Gabe Sabloff, and everyone who supports the faith-based film industry.

Praise the Lord, and pass the discs!  The sequel should be out this summer.

Here I am at Walmart:

Here I am at the Redbox.  (Note the different artwork):

Here's the trailer:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Game of Pawns" wins awards

"Game of Pawns," is the amazing true story of how Chinese Intelligence services recruited Glenn Duffie Shriver, an American student in Shanghai, to infiltrate the C.I.A.  The short film was written by yours truly and produced by Rocket Media for the Counter Intelligence Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It recently won six Peer Awards:

Best Docudrama (under 30 minutes) -Silver
Education/Training ($25K and over) -Silver
Acting on Camera (Dramatic, male) - Silver (Josh Murray)
Directing Non-fiction (Under 30 minutess/Over 50K) - Gold (Tom Feliu)
Editing Non-fiction (Under 30 minutes) - Bronze (T. Scott Snider)
Director of Photography (Dramatic Short)  - Silver (Johnny St. Ours)

As you probably noticed, the script itself didn't take home any awards.  However, since the piece won best docudrama, I think it must've been okay!  Plus, I got a Peer Award last year for writing "Betrayed".  Congratulations to everyone involved, and I'm certain the film will convey a compelling message to students at risk of being compromised by foreign intelligence services.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New Nonfiction Book Proposal


DATE:                March 2013

TITLE:                The Promise, or The Pros and Cons of Talking With God

AUTHOR:            Sean Paul Murphy is a Baltimore-based, award winning screenwriter with eleven feature film credits, mostly in the faith-based genre.  He is a winner of the $50,000 Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting screenplays in 2012.  He is married and has three stepdaughters.

PITCH:               “The Promise, or, The Pros and Cons of Talking With God” is my inspirational discovery of first faith and first love and how the two became almost fatally intertwined.

AUDIENCE:         Christian Life-Style.  It is a perfect book for Christians dealing with heartbreak.  The book also has hard-earned lessons for people who have either contemplated suicide or experienced the suicide of a loved one.   Most importantly, it reveals that joy can best be found while living obediently in the center of God’s will for your life.

LENGTH:            85,000 words.

INCLUDED:         Synopsis, chapter breakdown and three sample chapters.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

RIP Laura Lee Murphy Valenti

My sister Laura Murphy Valenti died nineteen years ago on Valentine's Day.  I miss her everyday.  Below is her obituary from the Sunpapers on February 18, 1994:


Laura L. Valenti, a meticulous gardener who was helping her husband restore an old house in Hamilton and was known for taking in unwanted dogs and cats, died Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was 31.

The former Laura L. Murphy, a lifelong Hamilton resident who attended St. Dominic School and graduated in 1980 from Mergenthaler Vocational and Senior High School, had been despondent after a recent automobile accident, her family said.

Mrs. Valenti was employed at All-Star Video on Belair Road from 1990 to 1993. Earlier, she was cosmetologist and beautician. "She loved to bake and decorate cakes for birthdays and anniversaries," said her mother, Clara M. Murphy, "I love bingo and on my 50th birthday, she made a cake with two bingo cards that said 'You are a winner.'"

A Mass of Christian burial was to be offered at 9:30am today at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church, Harford and Gibbons Avenue.

Other survivors include her husband, Frank N. Valenti, whom she married in 1982; a daughter, Natalie Valenti; four brothers, Douglas E. Murphy, Jr., Sean P. Murphy, Mark B. Murphy and John C. Murphy; a sister, Jeanne Coe; her father Douglas E. Murphy, Sr.; two grandmothers, Margaret Murphy and Rita Pollock. All are of Hamilton. The family suggested memorial donations to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 3300 Falls Road 21211.

Here is a little video tribute I made for her:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Revelation Road

Here's a little behind the scenes of "Revelation Road:  The Beginning of the End."  It features interviews with Bruce Marchiano, who plays the mysterious Stranger, and Monte Perlin, who was the stunt coordinator of this action-packed film.  Don't look for me.  I stayed safely behind my computer in Baltimore during this shoot!

Monday, February 11, 2013

RIP Darren Rydstrom

It is with great sorrow that I must report the death of one of my favorite cinematographers Darren Rydstrom.  He died in a tragic helicopter crash in California while shooting footage for a reality series for the Discovery Channel.   Two other people also died in the crash.

I first worked with Darren on "Holyman Undercover."  My writing partner Tim Ratajczak and I flew out to the set to watch the work.  It was a great experience and it was great meeting Darren.  Our paths next crossed on "In The Blink of an Eye," a film Tim Ratajczak and I were originally slated to write.  We were fired off the film as writers, but I ended up editing it.  Darren did a great job shooting the film in tight corners with limited time and budget.  Next I worked with Darren on my film "The Encounter."  Neither Tim or I went out to the set this time, but we knew the shoot was in good hands, and, if I'm not mistaken, "The Encounter" is now the most profitable film released by PureFlix Entertainment.

Next Darren worked on my film "Revelation Road:  The Beginning of the End," and its sequel, which was made at the same time.  Once again, I didn't go to the set but I was confident the film would look great!  My last dealings with Darren involved the Tim Ratajczak-penned Biblical epic "The Book of Esther."  I edited the film.  I thought Darren did some of his best work on the film.  We exchanged a few calls during the edit as I searched for some footage.  We didn't have an weighty conversations.  Never thought one of them would be the last.  That just goes to show you.  Tomorrow isn't guaranteed to any of us.

Below is a picture of Darren and actor/director/producer/writer David A.R. White from the set of "Holyman Undercover."   David was always quick to share the credit.  Anytime I complimented David on a camera setup or camera move on "Holyman Undercover" or "The Encounter," David would always say it was Darren's idea.

We'll miss you, Darren.

Here are some trailers for films Darren worked on:

2013 Kairos Prize Finalists

Congratulations to the 2013 Finalists.  Speaking as 2012 winner, I know a couple of you are going to be going an amazing journey soon!

Jonathan Murphy & Joshua Mills of Los Angeles, CA for A BROKEN BRIDGE
Dennis Lofgren of Westlake Village, CA for A LIFE WORTH LIVING
Steve Armour & Steve Gomer of Altadena, CA for ALL SAINTS
Kate Wright of Los Angeles, CA for THE AMERICAN SAINTS
James M. De Vince of Wallingford, CT for THE BASKETBALL
Maggie TerryViale of Napa, CA for THE CRY OF THE DAFFODILS
Sarah Raudszus of Berkley, MI for FROM THE STORM
Randall Hahn of Miami, FL for GIDEON
Romeo Ciolfi of Toronto, Ont., CAN for PLAY BALL
Glenn GriffinDavid Hui & Matt Rust of Fitchburg, WI for SCAR OF CAIN
Kenata Martins of West Hollywood, CA for TANGERINE SON
Christopher T. Lovett of Lago Vista, TX for TIES THAT BIND

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Sacred Ground: The Battle For Mount Auburn Cemetery"at the San Diego Black Film Festival

My documentary, "Sacred Ground:  The Battle for Mount Auburn Cemetery" will be playing in the San Diego Black Film Festival on Saturday, February 2, 2013.  We are delighted to be part of the festival.

"Sacred Ground:  The Battle For Mount Auburn Cemetery" is a feature-length documentary about community activists and family members battling a Methodist church for control of historic Mount Auburn Cemetery.  For years, Mount Auburn Cemetery was the only place in Baltimore, Maryland, where African-Americans could be buried.  It is the final resting place lightweight boxing champion Joe Gans, the first African-American world champion in any sport, and numerous leaders in the early civil rights movement.  It is a registered historic landmark that has fallen into such horrifying condition that bones litter the ground and weeds cover all but the highest monuments.  It is a tale of grave robbing, grave recycling and every other terrible thing that could possibly happen in a cemetery.

The film follows Lu Moorman, president of Preservation Alliance, an independent group of activists and family members, and her attempt to wrest control of the cemetery from its stewards, Sharp Street Memorial Church.  Dating back to 1787, Sharp Street Memorial Church is one of the first African-American Methodist congregations.  It was once the most influential African-American church in Baltimore, but its numbers have dwindled over the years and its financial resources have waned.  The current pastor, Rev. Dell Hinton, appointed her father, Rev. Douglas Sands, head of the cemetery.  They, too, have a plan to restore the cemetery with the help of Morgan State University, but who can be trusted to speak for the generations buried beneath its soil?

In 2009, conditions at Burr Oak Cemetery, the historic African-American cemetery in Chicago, aroused nationwide outrage.  This film should engender similar outrage upon its release.

Here's the trailer:

Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End

The trailer for my new movie"Revelation Road:  The Beginning of the End" is now online.  The film itself will be released in mid-March.

The film, directed and co-written by visual stylist Gabe Sabloff, actually has a pretty groovy cast featuring David A.R.White, Andrea Logan White, Brian Bosworth, Ray Wise, Steve "Sting" Borden, Jen Lilley and two-time Oscar nominee Eric Roberts.  It's sort of an insane cross between "Sons of Anarchy" and "Left Behind" with a little "A History of Violence" thrown in for good measure.  The sequel is now in its final stages of post-production.  That film will also feature one of my favorites Tracy Melchior.

Here's the trailer:

And here's yours truly with Eric Roberts:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Instant Queue: The Legend of Hell House

"The Legend of Hell House" is a guilty pleasure from 1973.  I remember seeing the rather lurid trailer at my local movie house, The Arcade Theater, and knew I had to see the film.  Considering the violence, and somewhat tasteful nudity, I am surprised the film was merely rated PG at the time of its release and I was able to see the film unescorted by an adult.

I liked the film, but I must admit I was a little disappointed initially.  First, I remember thinking that I had already seen all of the scary moments in the trailer.  More importantly, however, I felt the film was an amped-up ripoff of Robert Wise's 1963 masterpiece "The Haunting."  At the time I considered "The Haunting" the best ghost movie ever made.  Still do.  I have had considerable experience with paranormal activity.  Whenever someone asks me what it was like to live in a haunted house, I tell them to watch "The Haunting."  (Please, whatever you do, avoid the Jan De Bont's 1999 remake of the film.  It is a travesty.)

Subsequent viewing, however, have allowed me to enjoy "The Legend of Hell House" on its own level.  The plot is simple.  A dying millionaire sends a physicist, Clive Reville, and his wife, Gayle Hunnicutt, and two mediums, the tasty Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowall to the Belasco House, described as "the Mount Everest of haunted houses," to prove or disprove the survival of personality after death.  Two other psychic expeditions into the house ended in disaster.  Roddy McDowall's character is the sole sane survivor of the second expedition.  Needless to say, madness and bloodshed ensue before the riddle of the Belasco House is finally solved.

The real strength of the film is the script by Richard Matheson which was based on his own novel.  Matheson is one of the most interesting horror/sci-fi screenwriters of his time.  His credits included films like "The Incredible Shrinking Man" to "The Night Stalker" and numerous episodes of "The Twilight Zone."  This film itself is reminiscent thematically of Matheson's classic novel "I Am Legend," in that it explores the boundary between scientific knowledge and the supernatural.  Matheson always likes to have his cake and eat it, too.  He accepts and celebrates the supernatural, but he always provides it with an acceptable scientific explanation.

The film is moody and atmospheric, but it might be too slowly paced for MTV-generation.  The performances of the four leads are generally solid.  That said, I do sometimes waver in my opinion as to whether McDowall is brilliant or hopelessly over the top in the film.

It's definitely worth a look.  Here's the trailer:

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 Kairos Prize Semi-Finalists Announced

I want to congratulate this year's semi-finalist for the Kairos Prize.  Being one of the winners in the 2012 competition has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.  That said, I must say that I am rooting for Clark McMillian and his script "Investment In Time."  Clark, a fellow Marylander, was a runner-up last year, and I enjoyed the time we spent together last year in Los Angeles.   Below is a picture of my wife Deborah, Clark and myself on a Movieguide sponsored cruise.

Here they are:

Byron Anderson of Chevy Chase, MD for QUEST FOR LIGHT, ADVENTURE OF THE MAGI
Steve Armour & Steve Gomer of Altadena, CA for ALL SAINTS
Ann Ault of Huntersville, NC for HEART'S DESIRE
Stephen Bentley of Canton, GA for GREATER LOVE
Mario Bernheim of Long Beach, AL for MICHAEL'S REWARD
Annie Bradshaw of High Wycombe, ENG for APPOINTMENT IN JERUSALEM
Dianne E. Butts of Pueblo, CO for DAEMON
Timothy Casto of Burbank, CA for TOBY
Romeo Ciolfi of Toronto, Ont., CAN for PLAY BALL
Rick Conti of Chelmsford, MA for A GRAIN OF WHEAT
Martha Cotton of Sherman Oaks, CA for FORGIVING SOLOMAN LONG
James M. De Vince of Wallingford, CT for THE BASKETBALL
Donald Driscoll of Pitcairn, PA for SHOWDOWN AT DAMASCUS
Johnny Dunn & Georgia K. Vinson of Los Angeles, CA for LOVE RESTORED
Justin Eade of Nelson, New Zealand for SIXGUN ALLEY
Charles E. Felton of Colorado Springs, CO for THE POSTULANT
Brendan Getman of Yorba Linda, CA for REVIVAL
Glenn GriffinDavid Hui & Matt Rust of Fitchburg, WI for SCAR OF CAIN
Randall Hahn of Miami, FL for GIDEON
Julie Hauwiller of Arcanum, OH for YOU HAVE DONE IT UNTO ME
Steven W. Hoerger of Oak Forest, IL for GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS
Phillip Thomas Hopersberger of Laingsburg, MI for SOMETHING GRAY
Mary Huckstep of Colorado Springs, CO for WILLIAM, WILL YOU DANCE?
Jessica Davis Huettner of La Quinta, CA for THE MILE
Jeffrey Langham of Murphy, TX for EONS PART 1: THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD
Dennis Lofgren of Westlake Village, CA for A LIFE WORTH LIVING
Debbie Lollie of Rancho Cucamonga, CA for BETHLEHEM: THE INNKEEPER'S STORY
Karen Lombardo of Reston, VA for REDEEMED
Christopher T. Lovett of Lago Vista, TX for TIES THAT BIND
Kenata Martins of West Hollywood, CA for TANGERINE SON
Clark B. McMillian, Jr. of Bowie, MD for INVESTMENT IN TIME
Ernie Minera of Oakdale, MN for KING OF THE MAT
Anthony L. Morrone & Paul E. Undari of Bronx, NY for BORN UNDER A LUCKY STAR
Jonathan Murphy & Joshua Mills of Los Angeles, CA for A BROKEN BRIDGE
Lana Su Newlin of Oronogo, MO for LOVE IN A BOX
Justen Overlander of Minneapolis, MN for AWAY
Sarah Raudszus of Berkley, MI for FROM THE STORM
Bryan Ready of Honolulu, HI for HOLEY CHILDHOOD
Marcia Chandler Rhea & Margaret Ford Rogers of Charleston, SC for THE CAROLINA STORYTELLER
Chris Saranchock & Melinda Smith of Los Angeles, CA for HOME
David ScottDan Wetzel James Young of Los Angeles, CA for LIFE OF A KING
Anthony W. "Tony" Scott of Napa, CA for LOVE IN TIME
Adrienne Smith of New York NY for THE END OF FAITH
Lizanne Southgate & Alan Sproles of Visalia, CA for 57 CENTS
Paul F. Spite of Cookeville, TN for OPEN TOMBS
Brad Stephenson of Thunder Bay, Ont., CAN for AFTER THE FIRE
Sam Sullivan of Jefferson, LA for THE DRUM
Jim Sutton of Atlanta, GA for LIFE IN CELL BLOCK E
Maggie TerryViale of Napa, CA for THE CRY OF THE DAFFODILS
Margo Trueblood of Atlanta, GA for FAITH FOUND WANTING
Camille Tucker of Culver City, CA for BLESSED IN THE CITY
Beverly Varnado of Athens, GA for BRAVE GIRL
Lisa England Williams of Endwell, NY for THE BELL RINGERS
Kate Wright of Los Angeles, CA for THE AMERICAN SAINTS