Archive for the ‘Vampires’ Category

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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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.

SCREAM in Saskatoon

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

scream billboard

In Saskatoon at the moment it is minus twenty-seven degrees Celcius, a temperature that deserves more than a tiny number in order that you can savour it, contemplate it, or at least try to fathom it. Luckily we humans have very little capacity for recalling pain which is why, in the words of my undergraduate art school professor Sharon Alward, people can live in extremely cold places like Winnipeg or Saskatoon year after year without going insane*. While minus twenty-seven degrees Celcius is reason enough to evoke screams in many people, it scares neither me nor Jo-Anne Balcaen – my billboard project collaborator and friend from Montréal. Jo-Anne and I were actually born within hours of one another and grew up separately in Winnipeg**, but that aside is another story of which I will spare you the details. The daunting temperature also doesn’t scare David LaRiviere, director of Paved Arts who facilitated and helped tremendously to oversee our two-person show.

Scream opens January 16th – come see it if you dare. There will be screaming. You have been warned. The billboard is silent but it requires 3-D glasses – available at the gallery.

scream billboard

From the press release, “Scream is a two-person video installation and collaborative billboard presentation. While Jo-Anne Balcaen studies the scream from the perspective of ecstasy, Jillian Mcdonald approaches the same subject as a device in horror films. The exhibition project arises from the affinity that the artists recognize in each other’s work, and is thus culminated from an ongoing, long-distance creative dialog.

Jillian Mcdonald’s video work entitled The Screaming challenges the horror movie genre’s damsel in distress by inverting the power dynamics and charging the scream with a potency that overcomes any would-be menace…. Jo-Anne Balcaen’s Screaming Girls appropriates famous film images of teen-aged girls enraptured by rock ‘n’ roll performance. Stripped of sound, Balcaen’s subtle manipulation of this familiar pop adulation becomes a study of mass hysteria, oddly foreign to any kind of rationale that Beatlemania may have once produced.”

*Keep in mind these are select few people, you may not want to attempt this yourself.

**According to Wikipedia, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was −47.8 °C (−54.0 °F), on December 24, 1879. The coldest wind chill reading ever recorded was −57.1 °C (−70.8 °F), on February 1, 1996. I was not alive in 1879, but I’ll point out that the last winter I lived in Winnipeg was 1996.

A Swedish Vampire Christmas

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Reversing the roles of Twilight, that other teenage romance disguised as a vampire film, comes the dark and creepy-sweet Swedish film, Let the Right One In. I saw it on Christmas Day. The new girl in town enchants the lonely boy next door with her powers – namely, she flies, does a mean Rubik’s Cube, and does not mind the cold – and he cannot resist her awkward ice-cold intimacy. They want so much to be friends that she feigns eating human food though it makes her sick and he overlooks her necessary evil.

Like Claudia in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles our vamp Eli is frozen in the body of a pre-teen girl, her monstrousness disguised in big-eyed innocence. For a vampire, Eli seems very rough around the edges and filthy fingernails, but this isn’t Hollywood. The film has it’s share of blood, but the most graphically violent moments are not classically vampiric and only some involve the fanged exploits of our darling monster. Be prepared for a failed suicide by acid, clumsy bloodletting by an aging yet loyal companion, and a massive revenge fantasy that you smell coming without remotely sensing the magnitude of its enactment.

This is a tale of revenge and friendship, yet that icing barely covers an immoral taste of immortal pedophila.

The ice-encrusted trees and wintry landscapes are gorgeous and recall another vampire film, without the relentless horror. It’s good, and will leave you chilled.

Stolen Kisses – I love a surprise

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Mike Peters

My work in the past few years has been as much about fan subcultures and audiences as about the films they love. Fan fiction – where fans create new scenarios from familiar narratives, thus subverting them – captivates me.

I had dinner with friend and performance artist Carrie Dashow the other night and she slipped me a DVD that said “Play Me” (Alice in Wonderland style)- very sneakily I might add. I dropped it into my computer the next morning to find a fabulous surprise. One of her Purchase students, Mike Peters, made a video response to my work Screen Kiss following a recent lecture I gave. It is quite wonderful. What’s that quote about imitation and flattery?

Above is a still from Steal a Kiss. You can see a few more stills on his website – click on “Projects”, but sadly not the video itself. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my chair. Mike if you’re reading this – put the video online!

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Update: Dec 20,
(originally posted as a comment from Mike Peters)

“Thank you, Jillian. I’m glad you liked it. Steal a Kiss is now online. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the server hosting my original site, but the video is on youtube. I’ll be working on a new web page in the near future. Until then…. for your fans:

Thanks again. Love your work.”

Vampire Posers

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

vampires

How are we to believe these vampires in vogue, sans fangs and the token blood drop at the edge of the mouth? Fashionable vampire beauties seem so 1990. Zombies are the monsters of the day.

Which brings me to Another New Horror Review (sight unseen):

twilight

Twilight
In Twilight, which I have not seen since it is yet-to-be-released in December 2008, the story of Romeo and Juliet meets the magic of Peter Pan. Love Never Dies (à la Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Never Never Land beckons, and the teen dream vampire posers don’t have any good lines, not even in the trailer.

See for yourself, below. I suggest skipping this one.

In related news, Twilight Creations will release a new game in August, called Humans, in which you the player are the zombie, chasing humans! Not sure how this will look any different than standard First Person Shooter games, except you the player will be chomping, not shooting, and conceptualizing yourself as an undead corpse in some stage of decay. That spells “fun”!

Saving 30 Days of Night

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

30 days of night

This is the least haunting image I can find from the film I started watching last night: the male lead trapped in an attic while bloodthirsty savages (vampires like you haven’t seen them before, see below) claw and pry the windows. I started watching it but quickly realized this was not a film for Jillian to watch alone, at night. So I’ll save it for next week’s trip to Québec City, where no doubt I’ll watch it even more alone, at night.

The snowbound “Alaskan” landscape is stunning, though the darkened town was filmed on a sound stage in New Zealand. Note to self: more footage for Snow Stories. Another snow covered landscape signaling despair, doom, and entrapment. There is no explanation so far for why the townspeople can’t simply drive away.

These vampires are more closely related in demeanor and appearance to the furious and faster frame rate zombies of recent films like 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Land of the Dead etc, than to debonair and handsome Hollywood vampires played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas. That’s a relief.

nosferatu

They resemble the original Nosferatu, or even the blind post-human cave dwellers in The Descent – batlike, with razor teeth.

Gone is the slow courtship, the stealth, the dark beauty… these vampires are messy, blood covered, and undeniably inhuman deadly monsters.

pictured above: 30 Days of Night, and Nosferatu.

ThreeWalls show

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

sparkling

Horror Stories, my new show at ThreeWalls in Chicago, opened on Friday. The Sparkling, an interactive video installation, is the highlight – shown above and below. The haunted chandelier gets eerier as visitors approach, a reference to chandeliers in films like The Amityville Horror, and also non-horror films like The War of the Roses. Thanks to the wonderful artists and administrators at ThreeWalls for all their support, especially Shannon, Lucy, Elizabeth, Andy, and Liz. Also to Josh Rose and Cesar Cornejo who helped me in New York with programming and putting together the chandelier.

sparkling
sparkling
sparkling

Also on view are:

tv = evil

TV = Evil which juxtaposes little girls and TVs from Poltergeist and The Ring. Playing on a TV in a room all alone, it’s creepy.

vamp it up

Vamp it Up, a companion piece to Horror Make-up, filmed on the Chicago elevated train. More info about this work in my Performance section. Special thanks to Beckley Roberts and Liz Hood who secretly filmed these performances, and to Elizabeth for driving me half way around town in search of fangs, size XS.

everyone will suffer

Everyone Will Suffer, an animation featuring taglines recited from popular horror films and a low-fi animated country sunset.

My Horror Top Ten!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

night of the living dead

Here’s a feature on American Classic Movies TV Channel’s website about my recent horror work, based on an interview from last week. Written by Christine Fall, it’s a semi-regular feature called “who loves horror?” and includes my top ten horror film list. #1 is the classic Night of the Living Dead, pictured horrifically above.
Read the feature in a separate browser window.