Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Long Way from Home

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

forest malmo

My friend Christine Sciulli wrote to me today in response to an announcement about my upcoming performance, Undead in the Night. “God you’ve come a long way from our Blair Witch screening!!!”, she wrote. In 1999 Christine called me at my part time job with an invitation to a late night movie. I happily said yes, but apparently was the only person on the planet who hadn’t heard about the film, a little out of touch with popular culture at the time. I sat through the horror film in utter terror, balled up in my seat, peering through clenched fingers as the awful ending pierced the heart of my worst fears. I made her stay on the phone with me that night and couldn’t sleep for days. Camping was out of the question for ages.

A decade later – really?? – I’ve seen countless horror films and now intentionally put myself in a forest (a long long way from home, no less) creating a living horror film. Last night we were out in the woods performing some lighting tests and my eyes and breath were not at ease. For a city girl the darkened woods holds countless unseen threats, real and imagined.

The performance is coming together, our cast is almost complete, and every one of them is absolutely perfect.

Swedish People

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Here is an article by Mirjam Johansson about my upcoming Malmö performance, in Sweden’s People magazine – it’s a few pages in, use the right arrow to get there.

Auditioning the Undead

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

For the past 2 days we auditioned many zombies, vampires, and victims in small groups, for Undead in the Night at Lilith Performance Studio, Sweden.

Pictured below is a particularly energetic group of young women working with Artistic Director Elin Lundgren, who together hunted mercilessly and attacked their helpless victim (photos Petter Pettersson):


Read more about the auditions at
Sydsvenskan.se
, by Karin Arbsjö. The article is in Swedish only, but includes a slideshow and sound “bite” (pun intended) of the auditions.

Labour of Love

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

field of the undead video still

Field of the Dead and Undead is a video that I am slaving over working on since last fall. It is all rotoscoping, which at the worst of times is obsessive, slow and labourious, and at the best of times highly meditative. Sometimes something surprising happens, like the layers go missing, creating magic accidental images:

accidental image

Upcoming Performance in Sweden

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

If you find yourself in Malmö, Sweden in late May, please plan to attend Undead in the Night, a performance with Lilith Performance Studio!

sweden forest

Undead in the Night dares you to enter the forest for a walk in the dark. Be very very quiet, you are not alone.

Zombies and Vampires are radically different yet universally recognizable archetypes of horror film monsters who rarely if ever appear together. They share the evil power to turn victims into monsters, and caught in the unknowable position between “alive” and “dead” they have the power to fascinate and terrorize. Placing them together in this performance, I violate the codes and boundaries of horror genre and create an impossible scenario.

Zombies moan as they stagger stiffly and unconsciously in packs towards their single goal – to catch and consume the flesh of the living. Gruesome and rotting, they are ordinary people reincarnated as characterless and soulless ghouls. Although they are brutish, vile, and almost unstoppable, they are neither resourceful nor clever, and are imminently expendable.

Vampires slink and pose with agility as they move towards the forest’s edge. Aristocratic, powerful, seductive, exotic, elegant, timeless, and mysterious, they have a rich immortal life and feed off human blood. Victims sometimes beg to be “turned” into these exotic and fascinating creatures.

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…If you want to be in the performance, see details here.

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Haunted in Connecticut by way of Winnipeg

Friday, March 27th, 2009

haunting

Another movie review (sight unseen):
If you’re wondering what on earth is coming out of that boy’s mouth in the poster for The Haunting in Connecticut, don’t worry, it’s probably chiffon. The film opened tonight and I skipped it, I don’t really like chiffon. Haunting in Connecticut is a true story, like many horror films including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Wolf Creek, The Blair Witch Project, and Amityville Horror.

I’ve never seen a ghost, not even at The Headlands in Northern California – a place rife with ghost stories. But I have occasional dreams where someone is standing at the foot of my bed, I always wake up immediately during these dreams, which is haunting. If these ghosts watch me sleep, their motive is a mystery. Talking, laughing, stealing covers, arguing, and kicking are not outside the purview of my nocturnal activities, so maybe the ghosts study my sleep patterns or find me entertaining. Or maybe they followed me from Winnipeg.

Winnipeg physician T.G. Hamilton began conducting séances in his home and recording paranormal sights after the death of his young son in 1918. The University of Manitoba published this video on Youtube, which features the photos. As you can see, the photos are unbelievable. Literally.

That whispery substance emitting from the subjects’ mouths and other orifices is, if not chiffon or muslin, paranormal ectoplasm, secreted by mediums when in a trance state. According to prairieghosts.com, ectoplasm “appears to be milky white in color and smells like ozone.” “Medium Eva C. supposedly produced an ectoplasmic face from her ear during a séance. Many of her “faces” were later revealed to have been cut from a Paris newspaper.”

The Haunting in Connecticut website provides many resources, including Sample Questions for the Dead, should you wish to conduct your own séance. According to their blog, “thoughts may come into your head that seem strange; embarrassing, or uncomfortable. Do not fight them. These are the thoughts of the dead.” I plan to use that excuse regularly.

The strangest fact I learned on the website’s paranormal proximity assistant is that all the world’s haunted houses are in the USA. What about T.G. Hamilton?

Okay I forgot to review the film: it’s late and I digress.

haunted near you

Zombies vs Vampires in Malmo: May 2009

Friday, March 27th, 2009

jillian mcdonald zombiejillian mcdonald vampire

MALMö, Sweden
Calling all prospective Zombies and Vampires for a performance deep in a Swedish forest, after nightfall.

Zombies vs Vampires (working title) is an artwork where groups of the two “undead” monster archetypes – local people as actors – enact horror film scenes in the woods at night. Audience members make their way along the path in complete darkness. Interested actors need not be professional but must be comfortable in the woods and the dark, serious, and available for auditions, rehearsals, and the performance (all in May).

In popular film lore Zombies and Vampires have their own iconographies and characterizations. Rotting zombies moan as they stagger slowly, clumsily, and unconsciously. They don’t sneak and they travel in groups. They have only one goal – to catch and consume the flesh of the living. Despite being terrifying, they are neither resourceful nor clever and are imminently expendable.

The elegant vampires slink and pose with agility as they move. Catlike, they are very flexible and thirsty. Perceived to be sexy, beautiful, exotic, and mysterious, they have a rich and immortal life and feed off human blood.

Both archetypes bite their living prey and the two rarely if ever appear together in films.

Auditions begin May 6th and the performance will take place in late May. Contact Jonna Ölund jonna [at] lilithperformancestudio [dot] com for more info!

Love among the Ruins (the Zombies and the Vampires)

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

forest malmo

Last week I had a planning session with the fabulous Lilith Performance Studio for an upcoming forest performance in Malmö, Sweden. After 3 days and nights amidst the dark blueish pines, swamps, and mossy hills I am having trouble adjusting to New York’s nakedness. Thinking of doing some guerrilla planting, if the spring ever comes: it snowed yesterday, briefly.

On the plane I was unable to resist viewing the almost unwatchable and aforementioned Twilight. No doubt the tiny airplane screen did not do the sweeping Pacific Northwest forest scenes justice, and I confess I am no screaming teenage fan, but for the life of me this story of forbidden love among the vampires screams of cliché.

The “nice” vampires including our perpetually pouting hero happily inhabit, for the moment, a posh glass house sans coffins in rural Washington State, where avoiding full sunlight is unnecessary (since most days are grey and since the sunlight doesn’t kill them anyway), vampire dad dons the guise of preppy local doctor, and everyone is terribly attractive if well beyond the pale…

According to IMDB, “A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire” not the least of which is any hope of being independent. She goes willingly into the role of princess in utter distress and the movie ends with Bella, our damsel, doomed to be protected by her “hero” forever. Only he, and his extended family, can save her from the vampire bad guy and his own monstrous desires. Now that’s progress.

On the plus side, for the first time ever I enjoyed watching baseball played on screen, since vampiric forces make anything more exciting.

sarah jane

I Love Sarah Jane, on the other hand, is an Australian micro film about lust in the time of zombies. As you may know, zombies are at the other side of the class scale. We find Zombie dad in this case tied up in a wrecked suburban backyard, snarling at a skinny shirtless teenage boy who taunts him.

Sarah Jane herself is no ingénue. She emerges from a dark and claustrophobic living room to put the lusting teenage Jimbo – the subject of the film’s title, a mess of bullies, and her eventually (spoiler alert!) chain-sawed dad out of their misery by the end of the film … some with a heavy shovel, sealing her position as no-nonsense heroine and the far from innocent love interest extraordinaire, with a sense of very dark humour.

Zombie School!

Friday, March 13th, 2009

This is my kind of course, at Columbia College in Chicago, (correction, I originally wrote Columbia University, thanks Jason!)

Day of the Dead, Risen Again

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

day of the dead

Courtesy of fellow zombiephile and student Sean Colon, I watched a lot of zombie flicks during a recent flight to Saskatoon. This made me think about the claustrophobia built into horror films and what it would be like if zombies were on the plane – throw in a shark and you have my three worst fears. I write this in my notes about the zombie film I want to make one day.

The Day of The Dead remake (2008) was the only one of the films I hadn’t previously seen. The update embraces the “uber fast zombie” trend which if you are not familiar goes against the stiff lumbering archetype of zombies past and gets your heart feeling a might racy.

I have only one thing to say to the badly cast female protagonist on keeping the zombie boyfriend – which seems a shallow reference to the original film where our big oaf zombie guinea pig turns friendly neighbourhood allie in an endearing twist.

“Please, if you’re waiting for him to chill out (and look better) when this all blows over, it never blows over, haven’t you done your research?”

*image from About.com