Friday, October 29, 2010

Chris Udvarnoky 1961-2010

"Holland...where is the baby?"

If you grew up during the early 70s, that whispered query can still raise gooseflesh, and much of the reason it can is that it was voiced by the talented young actor Chris Udvarnoky. Together with his twin brother Marty, they took on the roles of Niles and Holland Perry, brothers who were joined at the soul but separated by the grave, brought to life in Thomas Tryon's novel The Other and brought to the screen by director Richard Mulligan in a deceptively pastoral 1972 film. If you think that horror can only take place within the dark of night, this atmospheric and unsettling work will prove you wrong, its Andrew Wyeth color palette stands in stark contrast to the evil and dread that eventually consume the Perry family. And the answer to the above question requires the strongest of hearts to absorb. It haunts.

And perhaps the role haunted Udvarnoky as well, as The Other was his solitary film credit. The history of cinema is lousy with precocious, over-coached performances from child actors, their parts sounding jarringly adult because no one working on the film had the slightest idea of how kids really talk. But Udvarnoky's Niles feels genuinely ten years of age, able to whip up mischief in a moment's notice, while also possessed of a developing ethos that makes him feel guilt and shame. But after all, it's not Niles who is responsible -- it's Holland, right? Holland, who no longer walks the earth, but rather occupies six feet of it. It's a difficult part to pull off, and Udvarnoky is unforgettable. (He was also fortunate enough to have a frequent screen partner in the tremendous Uta Hagen, and the consummate acting teacher certainly must have offered him some pointers. However, it's a double-edged sword; he subsequently has to act opposite her, but instead of being intimidated, he enters into the spirit of every scene with the commitment and focus that only a child can know while playing "pretend.")

Word comes today that Chris Udvarnoky passed away in New Jersey on Monday of this week at the age of only 49. He had achieved success as an x-ray technician and an EMT. His were hands that saved lives, and while we might wonder what other accomplishments we were denied in cinema, there are surely others who owe their time upon earth to his ministrations. Reference to his appearance in The Other was missing from his official obituary, but in an eerie coincidence, it aired in the wee hours of this very morning on TCM. I'd like to take that as confirmation that somewhere his soul is soaring, like on the wings of a great black bird.

Somewhere, I hope Niles Perry is once again playing The Game.

Friday, July 30, 2010

True Blood: The Musical Revue - Sam Merlotte

I like Sam.

(Sung to the tune of "Soon It's Gonna Rain")

See in the sky the eagle soaring
Hear how the German Shepherd bays
Smell when the bull responds to nature
Out in the fields where cattle graze
Now is the time I long to join the chase
Now is the time I leave without a trace
The human race

Soon I’m gonna change
And you’ll see it
Soon I’m gonna change
Be prepared
Soon I’m gonna change
And become something new

Soon I’m gonna change
Think and be it
Soon I’m gonna change
Don’t be scared
Soon I’m gonna change
Wish you could do it too

I’ll have four limbs like a dog
Perhaps four claws like a cat
Or grow a snout like a hog
Oh, please don’t run away

After I have changed
Then I’ll need you
After I have changed
Need you so

After I have changed
That is when I dare suppose
You’ll stay with me
And hold on to my clothes

I may be big as a horse
I may be small as a mouse
Whatever I am, of course.
I won’t decide to stay

For when I’m changing back
Back to human
When I’m changing back
In my nude

When again I’m me
Naked as any jay
Well, that’s the time you’ll see my art
After all the years of practice, boy, I’m smart
Carefully I turn and hide my private part

Exorcist: The Musical - The Exorcism!

This one was just ever so much fun. More stanzas could follow. Please imagine extended dance breaks...

(Sung to the tune of "America")

Why did you call in an exorcist?
I’ll have a ball with your exorcist
Give it your all, Mr. Exorcist
Back in the hall you go, exorcist

Get thee behind me you Satan
I hope you do not mind waitin’
God’s holy power compels you
I wouldn’t buy what He sells you

Think you can bring in an exorcist
Look how I’m flingin’ your exorcist
Your ears are ringin’ now, exorcist
You like my singin’ now, exorcist?

She’s just a child, have pity
Go back to Vatican City
You will be gone by the morrow
Why am I sounding like Charo?

You can’t defeat me, you exorcist
Never will beat me, you exorcist
Step up and greet me, you exorcist
Then you can eat me, you exorcist

Don’t give up, we may be winning
Wait til my head begins spinning
God’s will is sure to take over
I’ll give this room a makeover

Stop bible-quoting now, exorcist
Satan is gloating now, exorcist
It is worth noting now, exorcist
That I am floating now, exorcist

Your fortitude is appalling
Feel how the temperature’s falling?
Soon you’ll be meeting your sure doom
Who put this statue in her room?

You cannot win, Mr. Exorcist
Save your own skin, Mr. Exorcist
Once I am in, Mr. Exorcist
Leave her to sin, Mr. Exorcist

Thursday, July 29, 2010

True Blood: The Musical Revue - Godric

I was hesitant to put this one up for a number of reasons. I'm definitely taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to these parodies, but the self-sacrifice of Godric has been one of the emotional highlights of the series for me, and I didn't want to diminish its impact with snark. On a certain level, the song that the moment brings to mind is perfect as is, requiring little adaptation or revision. Also, you can find bigger fans of ALW out there than me, and I just couldn't keep those bridges from feeling clunky, but then I figured - hey, the original bridges are clunky (singing the words "gutters, mutters"? Not pretty). So while this might smack of something that a 13-year old would write in her school notebook, I still submit the following...

(Sung to the tune of "Memory")

See the dawn of a new hour
As the nighttime is fading
Shadows wither away
Like a sunflower
I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day…

Now my source of resentment
I am weary with memory
Sick of standing alone
At each twilight
The human souls collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan

Once I stood in the sunlight
I can smile at the old days
It was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

Every moment
Seems replete with fatalistic warning
Vampires warring
And the world ignoring
And soon there will be mourning

Now I wait for the sunrise
I must hope for a new life
Find my strength from within
When the dawn comes
My life will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

May my sacrifice preclude
The battle that’s a-borning
When humans die, another life takes over
Now let that day be dawning

Touch me
Eric, you must believe me
You alone hold the memory
And know what should be done
Now release me
It’s time I knew what happiness is

A new day has begun

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

True Blood: The Musical Revue - Russell Edgington

How about some Gilbert & Sullivan?

(Sung to the tune of "Better Far to Live and Die")

Oh, better far to be undead
Than to live a human life instead
My stately home, my glorious manse
With a staff that caters me at a glance
Werewolves see to my every need
They love me when it’s time to bleed
I hardly lack for nary a thing
As Mississippi’s Vampire King

For I am a Vampire King
And it is, it is a bloody good thing
To be a Vampire King (2x)

Three thousand years above the ground
Have made me the canniest king around
For who could ever want to know
The Vampire King of Idaho
I seek a Queen to share the throne
(But I fill that requirement on my own)
For Talbot is as a wife to me
When my scepter calls for TLC

For I am a Vampire King
And it is, it is a jolly gay thing
To be a Vampire King (2x)

You see, it’s incomparably great
To reign o’er this Magnolia State
And according to this plan of mine
I’ll soon own the rest of the forty-nine
When Wall Street is the last to fall
(That shouldn’t take much effort at all)
Then all will shout, “Hurrah! Hurray!
The Vampire King of the USA!”

For I am a Vampire King
And it is, it is a powerful thing
To be a Vampire King (2x)

Twilight Zone: The Musical Revue - Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

(Sung to the tune of "Another Hundred People" from Company)

There’s a man outside my window on the wing of the plane
I can see through the rain
Wait, he disappeared - oh no, I think I see him again
And he’s poking around
Look, he’s ripping at a panel on the wing of the plane
And he’s looking at me
And I’ve got to explain
Though they think I'm insane
I just have to say…

Ev’rybody’s in danger
Listen to me, understand
The plane is in danger
Must tell the crew, got to land

Excuse me, sir
Don’t cause a stir
I have to ask you to re-take your seat and to please remain

I’m sorry, miss, he hasn’t been himself, he’s been under strain
Gotta stop it, sweetie or you’ll wind up you-know-where again.

Please forgive me, honey, I could swear I saw him standing there
He was big and fuzzy, like a strange mutated teddy bear
Do you have some Bayer, ‘cause I feel a pain
It’s the one I get so often, deep within the brain
Give me two, I’ll toss em back and have a glass of some champagne
And I’m really wishing now that we had taken the train

Twilight Zone: The Musical Revue - Welcome to Maple Street

(Sung to the tune of "On the Street Where You Live")

We have always lived on this street before

But we’ve never seen such evil and deceit before

From the neighbors who we once thought we knew
On our dear Maple Street where we live

Does your Chrysler start? Have you any lights?

Why, I’ve seen you up and working late so many nights

And your picket fence could be evidence

For j’accuse on the street where we live

And oh! The heightening feeling

That our friends are not what they seem

It’s such a frightening feeling

That any second we could wake up from this dream

Is it Commie plot, or attack from Mars?

Well, we'll teach them not to tangle with the Stars n’ Bars

Honey, grab my gun, ‘cause it’s time to run
And defend Maple Street where we live

And of course, a coda from the aliens...

Now you see the plan? Pure simplicity

Be selective when you cut off electricity

Once they’re feeling stressed, nature does the rest

As we take every street where they live

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

True Blood: The Musical Revue - Jessica

I realize that I tempt fate by writing song lyrics for an ongoing project whose characters are in flux, knowing full well that something may happen on a Sunday night to render my work irrelevant. Ah, so be it. For those of you who think these postings should deal with more timely source material, here's the first in a series of True Blood musical soliloquies, coming from a character who has become one of my favorites -- tortured teen vampire Jessica. (Keeping with my custom of only choosing songs from Broadway shows, my choices from my beloved Bacharach / David are limited to only one tuner - Promises, Promises - so I have to choose wisely and well. I was taken by how this re-purposes the song's title. What in the show is delivered with the sub-text "I won't fall in love" becomes here "I can't fall in love.")

(Sung to the tune of "I'll Never Fall in Love Again")

What do you get when you fall in love?
When you’re a vamp, you just get trouble
Then be a teen, it seems like double
I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again

How do you feel when you kiss a boy?
When you got fangs, just like a sinner
Then, in a snap, he looks like dinner
I’ll never fall in love again
Dontcha know that I’ll never fall in love again.

Don’t tell me that it’s all a phase
I’ll be like this till the end of days
Don’t you let Twilight try to sell you
That is why I’m singin’ to tell you

What do you get when you fall in love?
A pain in the heart no stake could rival
Chewing on boys for your survival
I’ll never fall in love again
No, no, I’ll never fall in love again

Don’t tell me how a love could be
‘cause I can’t lose my virginity
All the sweet boys will only scorn you
That is why I’m singin’ to warn you

What do you get when you fall in love?
A boy who’s content to be your buddy
Cry in your sleep, your pillow’s bloody
I’ll never fall in love again
Dontcha know I’ll never fall in love again
I’ll never fall in love again

The Shining: The Musical - Touring the Torrances

Yesterday was Stanley Kubrick's birthday, and I was neglectful in noting it here. I offer the following to make amends...

(Sung to the tune of "Camelot")

It’s you! It’s you! The facts have made it clear
The Torrances are perfect for us here!

A crime occurred a distant moon ago here
A staffer gave his family the hook
But there is nothing frightening to know here
At Overlook
The winter enters heavy in December
But exits as a gentle bubbling brook
The coming months are ones that you’ll remember
At Overlook

Overlook! Overlook!
It’s Colorado’s hideaway
Why, at Overlook, Overlook
You may decide to stay
It feels a bit oppressive after sundown
But morning makes the shadows disappear
So let us take a look
At every crannied nook
You’ll find your home away from home right here
At Overlook!

Overlook! Overlook!
I know it seems a trifle large
But at Overlook, Overlook
We’re glad you’ll be in charge

Now right this way, our pantry is awaiting
Just look at all the food that you can cook
Eat ev’ry day, no dinner duplicating
At Overlook
(I can’t escape this feeling that I’ve seen him
Perhaps within a photo someone took
It’s best I made the effort to pre-screen him
For Overlook)

Overlook! Overlook!
And have you seen our famous maze?
Overlook! Overlook!
You’ll lose yourself for days!

Your tenure starts the first day of October
Departing April First, so that it’s clear
And on that day you’ll find
We’re hard to leave behind
Why, part of you may always be right here
At Overlook!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Twilight Zone: The Musical Revue - It's a Good Life

I can so see Cloris Leachman singing this.

(Sung to the tune of "Children Will Listen")

Careful the things you say
Anthony listens
Careful the things you feel
Anthony hears
And knows
Careful for what you pray
Anthony answers
Anthony looks at you
A stare that could burn
Through layers of wood
Better to simply say
“Ev’rything’s good.”
Anthony listens

Careful the wish he makes
Wishes are deadly
You know the path he takes
Under the corn
The fields
Careful the song you sing
Any old medley
You know what it could bring
The horror it yields
And how we would mourn…

Life here is good and well
This is our Hell
Anthony listens…

Twilight Zone - The Musical Revue

Since I've been using these intros to catch you up on where I am in this process, a few FYIs...

1) No, I've not abandoned The Exorcist as a source for musical material. In fact, there are at least two more songs coming in the next week or so. I'm just finding that certain lyrics are demanding they be committed to the blogosphere sooner than other, and I am ever their humble servant. Today's subject not to your taste? Tomorrow may be something different.

2) Please keep in mind that these songs are barely one or two steps removed from First Draft. They may undergo considerable reworking or rewriting once they're "up on their feet"...

3) I definitely want to see these babies staged. Many of them are conceived with definite blocking or choreography in mind, and they are meant to live on breathe on the cabaret (or larger) stage. I'm pursuing avenues even as you read this, and if you are a possessor of a suitable venue, let's talk.

One recurring theme is going to be representative songs from a proposed Twilight Zone revue, the first being this plaintive entreaty from a towering, tome-toting Kanamit. This of course comes from the classic episode "To Serve Man," springing from the great minds of Damon Knight and Rod Serling...and now, Stephen Sondheim...

(Sung to the tune of "Not While I'm Around")

Nothing’s gonna harm you, not while we’re around
Don’t mean to alarm you humans, panic or confound.
We are a tenderhearted and peaceful race
Why else would we have charted our way through space?

Take our gifts of science, dreams you’d only dare
If you don’t abuse them, use them, they are ours to share
Tho' we seem alien at a glance, take a chance.
And you’ll find
Nothing’s gonna harm you, not while we’re around.

Not to worry, not to worry,
You may not be smart, but you’re not dumb
We can do it, nothing to it,
There is nothing we can’t overcome
Forces joined as one

Kanamits are very clever
But we’re always true
In all we do
We would never hide a thing from you
Like some…

Kanamits and Mankind working now as friends
Partnership that can bind Earth to undiscovered ends
Come, take my hand and let us start, trust your heart,
And you’ll find
Nothing’s gonna harm you, not while we’re around

Needless to say, this song has a reprise:

We are here to farm you, cattle in the field
No more need to charm you, our agenda is revealed
Starships are waiting to convey you in style
No hesitating, step this way, single file

Greater might controls you, you’re in for the worst
And if it consoles you, know that you are not the first
Think of the honor you should feel as a meal
For our kind
This is why we’ll farm you, long as you’re around

PS - There is of course a song that occurs between the two, taking the immortal "It's a cook book!" and playing out that moment with a song that originates from a more obscure show, but it's one of my favorites ("On the Twentieth Century" ) and is a helluva lotta fun. Keep watching -- I'm working hard to get it just right...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's the Billy Loves Stu Horror Blogger Meme!

Over at Billy Loves Stu, my good friend, the inimitable Pax Romano, has kicked off a meme for Horror bloggers, and it's a fun one, so here goes. In his honor, it's in a lovely shade of fuchsia.

1: In Ten Words or Less, Describe Your Blog:

Good Lord, Pax, it usually takes me a paragraph to clear my throat! But since I'm trying to make Heart in a Jar more representative of my recent creative burst, let's just say it's "A work in progress."

2: During What Cinematic Era Where you Born?
A: The Classic Horror Era (late 30's to 40's)
B: The Atomic Monster/Nuclear Angst Era (the late 40's through 50's)
C: The Psycho Era ( Early 60's)
D: The Rosemary's Baby Era (Mid to Late 60's)
E: The Exorcism Era (Early to mid 70's)
F: The Halloween Era (Late 70's to Early 80's)
G: The Slasher Era (Mid to late 80's)
H: The Self Referential/Post Modern Era (1990 to 1999)

I was born in the Psycho era, but really grew into my tastes during the Rosemary's Baby / Exorcist eras. How I long for the days when Horror was everywhere.

3: The Carrie Compatibility Question:
(gay men and straight women - make your choice from section A)
A: Billy Nolan or Tommy Ross, who would you take to the prom?
(straight guys and lesbians - make your choice from section B)
B: Sue Snell or Chris Hargensen, who would you take to the prom?

At the time, I would have been horribly torn. Guys like Billy sure made high school an unpleasant place, so I would have to say Tommy. Today I'm just looking for "kind." And "sweet." And "intelligent." And "talented." And "versatile." And...

4: You have been given an ungodly amount of money, and total control of a major motion picture studio - what would your dream Horror project be?

I'm going to cheat, and say that I'd like to be Executive Producer of a slick new re-vamp of "Night Gallery" as an HBO anthology series. As luck would have it, that dream took a considerable step toward reality this week. I'm still reeling!

5: What horror film "franchise" that others have embraced, left you cold?

To tell the truth, most of them. Sequelization has diluted almost everything it touches, even back to the classic era. I like my one-shots, which is probably why I enjoy my Horror short and and to the point.

6: Is Michael Bay the Antichrist?

Hell yes. I tried to organize a flash mob dancing to "Xanadu" to disrupt the Milwaukee & Chicago shooting of the latest Transformers travesty, but no takers. Slack asses.

7: Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Frankenstein Monster - which one of these classic villains scares you, and why?

I'll go with Wolfie, as I don't imagine I'd much enjoy being eaten alive. So to speak.

8: Tell me about a scene from a NON HORROR Film that scares the crap out of you:

The last 30 minutes of "Miracle Mile" from 1988, right down to the slow drone of an early warning siren playing out over the tail end of the credits.

9: Baby Jane Hudson invites you over to her house for lunch. What do you bring?

Sheet music. I know I'm gonna wind up at the piano.

10: So, between you and me, do you have any ulterior motives for blogging? Come, on you can tell me, it will be our little secret, I won't tell a soul.

I started the Jar when I was laid up with pneumonia, I suspended it when I was laid off, and re-started it as I'm laying out a slew of projects for stage and screen? Notice a trend?

11: What would you have brought to Rosemary Woodhouse's baby shower?

A contract for film and publishing rights.

12: Godzilla vs The Cloverfield Monster, who wins?

Well, the radioactive halitosis sure comes in handy for the Big G, but what about all those nasty parasites that are running loose? Either way, I think we lose.

13: If you found out that Rob Zombie was reading your blog, what would you post in hopes that he read it?

How much I enjoyed Hellbilly Deluxe, and how much I'd like to see him return to the recording studio and produce a proper follow-up. Take a decade if need be...

14: What is your favorite NON HORROR FILM, and why?

Network. That dialogue, that wit, those performances, with a pitch-black satirical heart beating within its breast. And ahead of its time like few other films.

15: If blogging technology did not exist, what would you be doing?

Blogging jump-started my need to write again after years of inactivity. Let's not consider the alternative, ok?