The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Dark Rides Day *

* (Halloween countdown post #2)
* interview taken from Collectors Weekly


How did dark rides get started?

George LaCross: The forerunner to a single-rail dark ride was an “old mill,” a boat ride that went through a tunnel. When the old mills started cropping up around 1900, they were the first type of ride where you’d sit in a vehicle—a boat passing along a narrow channel—and see scenes or figures, called “stunts” in the industry. Some parks wanted these rides to be scary; others wanted them to be a trip through history, or a cruise around the world, that type of thing. These used mannequins—I think they were made out of wax, actually—to show the signing of the Declaration of Independence or Columbus landing on American soil. Some had dark areas for smooching, which is which why they got the nickname, “Tunnels of Love.”

Old-mill rides were very expensive because you had to have a tunnel with some type of a canal system, and then a wooden water wheel continuously spinning to push the water through it. And they were difficult to maintain. You had to constantly look for leaks in the wooden canal and patch them up during the off-season. I can’t even imagine what a nightmare it must’ve been re-boarding that stuff. Now, the ones that are still around have been converted to concrete canals, which are treated with special chemicals so they don’t leak. Back in the day, only the parks that were doing really well could afford to have old mills.

And the earliest dark rides only had sound effects?

LaCross: Yes. These rides were all in pitch darkness. Pretzel patented many of the first sound effects, which were actually floor devices. You’d go over a lever on the track, and it would strike a cymbal, creating a sound like glass breaking. When the car would run over another lever, a container holding a bunch of ball bearings would get tipped up, and it’d sound like trash barrels tipping over. They had a string of bells hooked up, and they would just make a big clang when you went over that lever, which sounded like you were derailing.

Some of the earliest visual stunts they had—and some of them are still in operation—were motorless effects, lifted by the weight of the car. The sound effects weren’t necessarily right near these figures; those were usually positioned in the dark so you couldn’t see them. You’d be riding along in the Pretzel car in the dark, you’d hit a relay switch for the light, and then a lever for the figure itself. A small incandescent spotlight just focused on that black box would light up, and the cable would lift, say, a skull out of the bottom of the box.

For example, in the stunt called the “Jersey Devil,” you see what appears to be an empty box, and then the weight of the car forces a papier-mâché demon head to pop up inside it. For “Al E. Gator,” a lever on the track would tip a papier-mâché alligator on roller skates, and he’d lunge out at the riders. Some early stunts had limited gear motors, animating a head or hands going from side to side. Those would just go on, move for a few seconds, and then go back off again.

I read one of the earliest Pretzel stunts was just thread that hit your face.

LaCross: That was really innovative. It seems so simple, but Bill Cassidy—the second owner of Pretzel, the son of Leon—told us before he passed away that that was one of the gimmicks that he was most proud of. It was just a spool of thread. It would hang from a rafter in the ceiling, and it would rub up against people’s faces and creep them out. It’s supposed to be cobwebs, I guess, but it wasn’t an actual web. It was just a string, but you couldn’t see it. You weren’t expecting it. That got a real rise out people back then. It seems to me that just about every dark ride I rode in the 1960s had that. If it didn’t come factory-installed, I’m sure the park owners themselves would tack it up.

Who were Pretzel’s first real competitors?

LaCross: A couple of years after Pretzel rides were introduced, Harry Traver, who’s more famous for his roller coasters, came up with the idea to undercut Pretzel. He called his rides Laff in the Dark. Even though he patented a lot of stuff, he never patented that name. And Pretzel started naming their rides Laff in the Dark after a while. Traver came up with wood-frame cars with metal joints and a metal undercarriage, which were cheaper to make than the all-metal cars that Pretzel was using. Instead of having papier-mâché stunts, Traver and his crew made these one-dimensional plywood cutouts with a little motoring for various scenes such as cats fighting on a fence or a mule that would kick at you. These motors would just barely work, but they gave the figure a little animation. Some parks went for that.

As time went on, other companies started making figures for dark rides, funhouses, and old mills. If park owners brought a Pretzel or a Traver ride, they could enhance it with other more sophisticated animation that other companies were providing. Traver went out of business in 1932, and he sold his company to Ralph E. Chambers, who successfully marketed and sold Laff in the Dark rides. Because they were cheaper to purchase than a Pretzel, they were in quite a number of parks. But Pretzel rides, as best we know, were a heck of a lot more durable because many of them are still operating. Those metal cars have survived floods and fires.

How did dark rides evolve over the years?

LaCross: First, they started making magnetic switches that they could put in the track to trigger stunts, and these were less likely to break than the mechanical levers. The most recent triggers used in dark rides are photo sensors called electric eyes. Some are set off by the motion of the car, but some are even more sophisticated, using light from reflectors on the car so the stunts are set off at the exact right time.

For sound effects, Pretzel had the noisemakers, but then some companies started producing 78-speed records that were just recordings of screams. You got a whole stack of them, and when one was done playing, the record player would drop down another one, so that you heard continuous screaming. When the eight-track came out, dark rides switched to one-track cassettes called “sound repeaters.” It would just be a small amount of tape that played the sound of a ghost or whatever that would coincide with the stunt itself and then stop at a particular point. And it would automatically be rewound for the next car that came by. The problem with those cassettes is that, again, if you’re continually playing a tape, stop-and-go, stop-and-go, it breaks. Plus, the atmospheric temperature had to be right. If it got too hot, the playback machinery would go crazy and start playing the sounds at high speed. Since then, those tapes have been replaced with digital cards.

How did they use wind for effects?

LaCross: Wind and air have been used to good effect over the years. A 1960s tornado-themed ride in the Bronx’s Freedomland U.S.A. did quite a bit using big, industrial-strength fans. The final scene of the Riverboat dark ride at the park I grew up near—Crescent Park in Riverside, Rhode Island—was a hurricane simulation featuring a suspended A-frame house that you rolled underneath. That stunt had industrial-strength fans blowing in your face from all different directions. The house had pots and pans tacked up to its walls on fishing line, which would bang up against the oscillating A-frame. Now, some of the newer figures shoot compressed air out of their mouths to scare you. The newer figures from the modern stunt company Scare Factory often have that. A figure rises up out of a coffin, and it blows people’s hats right off their heads.

When did the dark rides start to get specific themes?

LaCross: Sometime in the early ’60s. The most popular early themes that we’ve found through our research were jungles and pirates. A company called Marco Engineering did a themed ride after the poem, “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” at Pleasure Island, a park in Wakefield, Massachusetts, from 1959 through 1969, and I rode that. You went in on a boat on wheels and journeyed into the oceans deep. You encountered nautical creatures as sharks circled overhead and met up with King Neptune in the end.

The Western theme was also popular at the time. You’d ride between a gunfight, come face to face with a locomotive, and see a bull charging at you, things of that nature. Pleasure Island had one of those called the Old Chisholm Trail. Freedomland U.S.A., which was an American-history-themed park that ran from 1960 to 1964, even had a ride by Marco Engineering based on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, more and more of the dark rides started getting themed. But the best ones, in my opinion, are those that don’t have a theme because you don’t know what’s going to pop up next. Whereas, say, if you’re in a Western ride, you know you’re going see a gunfight and you’re going to see a bull. Yeah, it will impress you, but you’re already in a pre-established comfort zone. A dark ride with no connection between the various stunts is more like a nightmare to me—a train-of-thought type of nightmare where, say, you see a laughing clown, then a devil, and then a witch. All of a sudden, an alligator pops out at you. To me, that puts you more on edge.

Do you think the increasingly graphic violence in movies and television influenced these rides?

LaCross: The boom to make these things really scary took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Maybe after the “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, darks started pushing the envelope a little more. The rides that are loved the most are somewhat scary, but not totally terrifying. The 1970s Pennsylvania dark rides we did documentaries on—Whacky Shack at Waldameer Park in Erie and the Haunted House at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg—give you a couple jokes, but there’s nothing horrific in them, nothing like scenes in “Saw,” no Jasons from “Friday the 13th,” or anything like that.

People have told me that if you’re scared by something that’s not that scary, it has more of an impact on you. You say, “Wow, I can’t believe that thing made me jump out of my seat.” Compared to what I’ve seen on TV, on video games, or at an IMAX theater, if this little thing makes me jump out of my seat, then I guess it’s pretty good. That’s what I’ve always admired about the older rides, that the creators really had to be thinking out of the box to come up with these elementary devices that get a rise out of people.

How did the opening of Disneyland in 1955 affect dark rides?

LaCross: Three dark rides debuted at the opening of Disneyland—Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and Peter Pan’s Flight—all in Fantasyland. But the outdoor Jungle Cruise in Adventureland was probably the most influential on dark rides. Shortly after that, you started having various jungle land rides opening up, whether they were indoors or outdoors. The indoor jungle rides were pretty creepy because it’s so dark in them, you felt like you could’ve been going down the Congo River and you didn’t have any sense of being enclosed. Bill Tracy took advantage of that. His jungle dark ride was called Lost River, and old mills were sometimes converted into Lost Rivers. But they’re all gone now, for one reason or another.

The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean came later on. There are ongoing arguments around Pirates of the Caribbean, because there were several pirate single-rail dark rides that came before it opened in 1967, and it has many of the same type of scenes as the older rides. Disney’s defenders say, “Well, those designers must have gotten ahold of Walt’s sketches somehow because it was in the making for a long time.” There are always debates online about who stole whose ideas. But I’d say that after Pirates of the Caribbean debuted, a lot more pirate rides cropped up, and the best ones came out in the late 1960s.

Why don’t we see as many of these old dark rides today?

LaCross: There was one pivotal moment in 1984, when a walk-through dark attraction called Haunted Castle caught fire at the Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey, and eight teenagers, who were trapped inside, died. Most parks had perfectly safe funhouses, walk-through scary houses, and single-rail dark rides, but after this fire, park owners grew so afraid of something happening. All kinds of new restrictions were put on these things; from then on, they always had to have sprinkler systems, smoke alarms, and emergency exits.

In the past, many dark rides did end up burning down because they didn’t have sprinkler systems. For the most part, the fire started at another attraction and just happened to sweep into them. Some dark rides did catch fire themselves. There was one situation where one of the ride operators tried to circumvent the fuse by putting a penny into it, and that caused the fire in the control panel and set a big blaze off.

But I don’t think the tragedy was reflective of most operating dark rides and funhouses in the 1980s. Yet a lot of parks did purge their rides shortly after. At this point, that tragedy seems pretty much forgotten. All of the operating dark rides that I know of have sprinkler systems, partially because these rides are so valuable now and they’re such attention-grabbers. Not only do the park owners want to protect their patrons in case a fire breaks out when the ride is operating, but they want to make sure that it’s protected when it’s not in operation, because the vintage ones can’t be replaced.

The older devices have been retrofitted with new insulated wiring and motors, which are pretty much fireproof. That doesn’t take away from the age and charm of the stunt. It does put a little bit of a bogus slant on the ride when you see that emergency exit sign in the darkness. But they have to do it. You never can tell what might happen. If the rides didn’t have those, they wouldn’t be operating.



32 portables



The Dark Ride Project

‘Since the 1970s, hundreds of ghost trains and haunted house rides have closed across the USA and they are now an endangered species. The Dark Ride Project captures the last of the world’s dark rides using virtual reality, sharing their history to promote and save them.

‘In the 1930s, the Pretzel Ride company built nearly 1,700 rides for amusement parks across the United States, but today only three of those rides still exist. The Spookhouse in Keansburg, NJ was one of those rides but it was decimated by Hurricane Sandy and has struggled to re-open. Whether it is the Trimper family of Trimper’s Amusements or the three generations of Fasnacht family who run Funland, DL these types of rides are an important part of the community. Despite being part of the American psyche there have been no substantial efforts to record the insides of these rides.

‘Until now, there hasn’t been a secure way to record and share this type of experience. But the growing popularity and uptake of virtual reality technology is a perfect fit.

‘The Dark Ride project uses ultra low light cameras on a special rig attached to a cart. The 360-degree setup allows the capture of the ride experience from every angle. Whether a ghoul jumps out from the side or a bat swoops down from above, everything is captured — apart from the smell of fear.’ — Hypergrid Business



22 Dark Rides

Out of This World Mountain Park Holyoke MA
An Outstanding Dark Ride. Mountain Park Holyoke Ma. Lincooln Park N. Dartmouth Ma. Old dark ride from the 60’s and 70’s. It was not in the park after 82 when there was a fire and it burned down. It was also dismantled and made into an arcade in 82.


Horror House Jin Jiang Action Park
Horror House. Waiting in line was a noisy experience. “Bam! Bam! Bam!” went the metal walls. Cackle. Scream. For some reason, there were two nude female mannequins inside, perhaps to cover both “horror house” meanings. Some people had severe breakdowns after the ride. Women had to be lifted from the car seat. People stumbled about. Some were crying. Others looked like all the blood had drained from their bodies. I imagine that many of these people were riding a dark ride for the first time.


Haunted Mansion Knoebels
Inside Knoebels Mansion, the stunts come at you fast and furious, and with the way the lighting is done, it actually makes the gags seem worse than they are. A prime example is the creature inside the clock early on in the ride. As the car approaches, the creature suddenly lunges out of the clock and heads right towards the car. But just as it gets “too close”, the lights go off. To me, that little touch completely enhances the effect. When the lights go out, you start to wonder if the creature is still coming at you or not. Other gags use the lighting to their advantage also including the “hands” and the scenes prior to the clock at the ride’s entrance.


Pleasure Garden Hitachi Kaihin Park
It’s not exactly a haunted house and there’s a Japanese serpent woman and a cat meowing in the background nearly the entire ride.


Scream in the Dark Rick Murphy’s Garage
Rick’s dark ride, “Scream in the Dark” was built in his 2-car garage over a few years. The kids that went though the ride were genuinely scared, but that made the kids in line even more curious – just the reaction Rick wanted. The build is for the most part completely modular. The track is made up of 4-foot square panels that have either a straight track or 90 degree bend. The modular design means Rick’s garage doesn’t need to be a dark ride the entire year. The cart rides on this curved, raised track with the help of a few gear motors and 12 V battery pulled from a Power Wheels.


Nights in White Satin: The Trip Hard Rock Park
Even though Hard Rock Park was only open a few months, this dark ride was their crowning achievement. The Trip referred to acid trip, even though top brass at the park never admitted to it. Instead, they called it a “psychedelic experience” and the results are both bizarre and soothing.


Mystic Manor Disneyland Hong Kong
Here at Disney, we are blessed with the top of the industry. The very best lighting designers, colorists and special effects people. And our ride guys really outdid themselves with Mystic Manor. Those engineers made use of some proprietary software — not mention the more than 200 RFID tags that we buried in the concrete floor of our Mystic Manor show building — to create this trackless ride system which can then dispatch four vehicles at a time. Not only that, but these ride vehicles — Mystic’s Magneto Electric Carriages — actually reinforce our story. We now have the ability to program each individual vehicle so that it can go up to a particular prop or effect in a show scene and then direct the Guest’s attention at that specific vignette. Then after this show scene plays out, this trackless vehicle is programmed to move the Guests to the next vignette. So that cumulatively — going from scene to scene to scene — we can then treat Hong Kong Disneyland visitors to a complete story. Which climaxes with Albert frantically trying to close that Balinese music box before its magical music dust actually tears Mystic Manor apart.


Miniature Dark Ride Kevin Karsten’s house
Though I cannot afford to build or run an actual dark ride, nor even set up a Halloween yard (my wife and I live in an apartment), I have wanted to create a dark ride inspired by Disney’s Haunted Mansion since I was about eight years old. My kid sister and I used to create “rides” in our backyard — complete with fully operational animatronic figures, powered by record players, audio on cassettes, and black light effects — which we pushed neighborhood kids through in a wheel barrow at 25 cents a head. I am currently creating a haunted house theme in miniature, via CGI and models, which I am filming to demonstrate how the actual attraction might play out. I have created several fully operational miniature scenes from a concept/script that I came up with, and filmed them with a full soundtrack.


Vi Pa Saltkrakan Astrid Lindgren’s World
Based on a popular Swedish television series, this dark ride follows the adventures of the Melkerssons on Sea Crow Island.


Gremlins Invasion Adventure Warner Brothers Movie World Germany
The original Gremlins movie (1984) seemed perfect for a theme park attraction, and they created a one in Warner Brothers Movie World Australia. They duplicated it for their park in Germany, with one major change – it starred Alf. Yes, Alf from the Planet Melmac, i.e. the popular sitcom from back in the 1980s. Apparently he is huge in Germany.


Lumalusion State Fair of Texas
This is the now gone version of the State Fair of Texas’ remaining dark ride, Lumalusion. This was when it was in full on acid trip mode with Pink Floyd music, and lots of funky lights. Not scary, just weird.


Magical Powder Lagunasia
The final dark ride was Magical Powder. The name refers to the contents of paint cans with labels indicating the special effects they are supposed to cause, such as enlargement, shrinking, etc. The connection between this powder and the animatronics within wasn’t immediately obvious.


Droomvlucht Efteling Theme Park
In Dreamflight, the visitors fly through a dream world of forests, castles, fairies, trolls and other fairy-tale-like creatures and scenes. The visitors are seated in small open cabins hanging from the ceiling. The ride takes them past five different scenes in about six minutes: the Castle Realm, the Wondrous Forest, the Fairy Garden, Heavenly Strongholds and the Squelch Forest. The speed and height of the individual cabins vary throughout the ride, with a climax in the troll ma
rshes at the end, where the cabins come to a seeming free-fall in a spiral downwards from 13 meters of height. Efteling wanted to present Dreamflight in 1992, for the 40-year anniversary of the park, which coincided with the opening of Disneyland Paris. However, due to problems with the seating cabins it was not ready until 1993. Due to this problem, the ride cost €4.5 million more than was estimated, bringing the total costs up to €12.5 million.


Black Diamond Knoebels
Just came back from Knoebels and i rode the new Dark ride “Black Diamond” and i must say, it is VERY well done. very well themed and just a very well remade ride. It was originally at Morey’s pier in Wildwood, NJ as the golden nugget, a mainly western themed ride designed by Bill Tracey who is a Dark ride legend. The golden nugget was three stories and the top floor was outside and desert themed then you went down into the mine settings on the second and first floor. Eventually tho the ride fell to disrepair and eventually closed and sat idle for several years until December 11, 2008 when it was announced that the golden nugget would be demolished and Morey’s pier would have a celebration. However a few days before the demolition “somebody” purchased all of golden nuggets track and ride vehicles. It wasn’t publicly announced who had purchased it except that it was a park that “loved to rebuild and preserve old rides”. then on Jan 26, 2009 it was announced that Knoebels had made the purchase and, while having the exact same track layout, the ride would be re-themed to acknowledge the areas anthracite mining history. Changes made have been, enclosing the entire ride, new effects, a Centralia section with collapsing house and “mine fire” hole, and re-built cars. I know it is labeled as a roller coaster but i wouldn’t call it that per say, its mostly mild speeds with a few surprise and quick drops and turns. It IS NOT a “wild mouse” either. It;s not a scary haunted house either so little kids might be a little iffy to enter the place because it is very dim inside and there are a few dark moments but there is nothing scary about it! Knoebels really went all out with this ride and i will go as far as to say this is the most “themed ride in the park”.


Terror On The Butte Eric’s Garage
This is a video of the haunted house ride we built in our garage. The ride can take 2 people around, and we shuttled around 120 people on 90 trips through the haunt during our 2007 Halloween Party. The ride was geared towards 4-7 year olds, so its not supposed to be too scary.


Hollywood Tour Boat Ride Phantasialand
Imagine Disney’s The Great Movie ride, in water. Now add in scenes from Universal properties like Jaws, King Kong and even Alfred Hitchcock. Now cut the budget in half.


Bermuda Triangle Alien Encounter Movie Park Germany
At Movie Park Germany, there are aliens in a volcano who seem to be ticked off.


Zombie Small World Suzhou Amusement Land
This Chinese boat ride is a near-complete rip off of Disney’s It’s A Small World, but look a little closer and the dolls seem to be possessed. You may also spot Ninja Turtles and Transformers.


Brer Rabbit Rap Party Oakwood Theme Park Wales
1988: Nutty Jake’s Gold Mine (Family Dark Ride). 2001: Nutty Jake’s Gold Mine, already closed since 2000, is now transformed into Brer Rabbit’s Burrow. 2011: Brer Rabbit’s Burrow is rethemed for October half term in to ‘Scare Rabbit’s Hollow’. 2012: Brer Rabbit’s Burrow is rethemed as Brer Rabbit Rap Party. 2013: Brer Rabbit’s Rap Party is closed, demolished, and replaced with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Ride.


Museum of the Weird Anaheim High School
This is a documentary of this years Haunted House my son Scott made for his school. Come ride the Museum of the Weird! This year was very cool. Next year will be insane!


Davey Crockett Ripley’s San Antonio
This ride was part of the Ripley’s attractions in San Antonio across from the Alamo. It was definitely a dark ride aimed at kids. And the fact it immediately went down a long tunnel underground probably freaked out a lot of those kids. It only lasted a few years, and was replaced by a scary dark ride.


Whacky Shack Waldameer Park
The Whacky Shack dark ride at Waldameer Park in Erie, Pennsylvania was built by Bill Tracy in 1970. Bill Tracy is considered a legend in the dark ride business and sadly there are very few of his attractions left. The Whacky Shack at Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kansas is another Bill Tracy creation that closed along with the entire park in 2006. A fire was started inside the ride in April, 2007 and was put out by a Park employee.




p.s. Hey. ** Armando, Hi. I can’t even imagine. Hugs and super-strengthening vibes. The current US government has emboldened the scum, but they’re still ignorant outliers, and the current loudness of their voices is ugliness incarnate, but they’re still scum, albeit more dangerously proud of their idiocy at the moment. The neighbor who died in the LA earthquake was this kind of sweet do-gooder older guy who was always trying to help everybody with their little problems. It was very sad. I was living where I still technically live in LA, i.e. in Los Feliz. A surprising number of Benning’s films are viewable online. Not ‘Measuring Change’, but here’s a three-minute clip if you want to see that. Benning is definitely on Zac’s and my minds when we make films. I think his influence is clear in “Permanent Green Light’, but I’m not sure if others will recognize it. Have the best day you can. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Okay, but I agree that this thread of conversation is best dropped. I inherently initially always like people who like baseball a lot. Understood about the pigeonholing as a critic. I’m not sure what you can do other than try to be pragmatic about it. Publicists’ jobs are to promote their assigned films, and, as you no doubt know, they have lists of critics who have qualities that make them potentially sympathetic to particular films, and other than telling them to stop alerting you to LGBGT films, which would cut off a whole area of films to you, I’m not sure there’s a solution other than, yeah, being pragmatic and realizing it’s nothing personal? Thanks for the Straub link! Everyone, Steve Erickson passes along a link that, should you decide to click it, will allow you to watch Jean-Marie Straub’s short film ‘The Algerian War!’, and this is a very good thing. ** David Ehrenstein, Nice. Thank you. ** Tosh Berman. Hi. I’m a ‘why not’ sort of guy about artificial mountains too. And a ‘bring it on’ guy too. The prospect makes me bubbly. And I am from LA like you, so that could explain it. Ah, great, glad the McCourt was easy to score. Let me know what you think. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Yeah, I don’t know what it’s like in other European countries, but France has so, so many regulations about, well, everything, including film. In the US, you could just make a film and call in favors and use actors who are into being in the film and who understand there’s little pay, but in France that’s literally impossible. There are rules about how much people must be paid, the hours they work, and so on and so forth. If you don’t do it that way, your film will not get ‘certified’, and, if it’s not certified, you can’t release it. But, on the other hand, making Zac’s and my film in the US would have either taken years to finance or would have been impossible. Yes, we might even finish the sound today, but I think Monday is more likely. It’s the rushing last step, and Zac and I are both very exhausted. My day was just sound work and then coming home and eating and zoning out until sleep. But it was good, of course. How was Friday? ** Ferdinand, Hi, man. Nice to see you. Thanks a bunch about ‘No’. Good sites for poetry. Definitely, although I’m exhausted and in a rush, so I’ll have to think about it. Everyone, Anyone want to recommend a good online poetry-centric literary site/ journal to Ferdinand? It would nice and very helpful of you. Zine day … The topic is so good that I would have to do a bunch of them. Hm, let me see what I can come up with. Thanks! Take care! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Thanks. I’m still in an unpleasant amount of pain, but I’m hoping it’ll right itself this weekend because I hate doctor visits. That show does look nice in that peek. ** Misanthrope, Huysmans fan, sure, def. Ha ha. Did any winner of Boy Band ever make it big? The new Bieber single isn’t genius?! No, you’re joking?! How can that even be possible?! Crickets are cool. They mean well. They’re good eggs. ** Right. Halloween continues here today with that post up above which I hope will contribute to your own looming embrace of the holiday of holidays. See you tomorrow.


  1. The entrances to those “Metro Phantomes” are beautiful. The classic corny piano music (the sort of thing invariable used to accompany silent westerns) at the end of the Straub is quite a surprise. Great little film. It perfectly distills that which Quentin Tarantino rejects.

    Interesting piece on Goethe

  2. Here’s my review of THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT, which I’m sure is the only one to mention the “Jews will not replace us” chant and Renaud Camus: http://www.nashvillescene.com/arts-culture/film/article/20976015/the-nile-hilton-incident-is-a-highstakes-thriller

  3. Hi!

    Thank you for the second Halloween treat! I especially enjoyed the video about ‘Miniature Dark Ride (Kevin Karsten’s House)’.

    Wow. I don’t even know what to say. All these extreme regulations sound way over the top. I’m sure they have their advantages (as you mentioned, it didn’t take years to finance your film) but still. I have no idea how it works here in Hungary.
    Gosh, I do believe both of you are exhausted! But you’re so close now!
    I spent the day the usual way but I’m just about to meet a friend now which I’m quite looking forward to.
    How did the editing go today? Oh, and I didn’t ask yesterday: how’s your arm/shoulder? I hope you’re well and had a great day, Dennis!

  4. Hey Dennis! How are you? I’ve missed talking with you. I hope things are good with you. I read that you’ve been having some pain – is it getting better? I hope it’s getting better.
    I’ve been ill again, which totally sucks, and getting a wee bit down as a result. It will all be fine tho and I’ve been managing to be somewhat productive – I’ve finished a 1st draft of a potential novella and started making music again (I’ve found this flat strangely not conducive to music making so far).
    How’s PGL? Seems like you’re working hard and enjoying it. Where are you at now? I’ve been enjoying many days on the blog, my fave being ‘No’, which did something magical. I want to make ‘Yes’, of course.
    What else have you been doing?
    Hope you have the finest weekend since the concept was invented.
    Abominable love,

  5. I like the idea of “78-speed records that were just recordings of screams”, they must be worth a pretty penny on the collector’s market these days I’ll bet.

    Had a busy week so I’ve just had a quiet day in today. Got a bunch of records in the post and they’re all good: the new F Ingers LP Awkwardly Blissing Out which is an upgrade on their debut but is still awkward, compelling and spooky. There’s the Ben Frost – Ionia (Jlin Rework) 12″ which I think might be my fave thing she’s ever done. Jlin’s on the cover of the new Wire so I’ll keep my eyes peeled for that. Best of all though is an LP of the new Twin Peaks series, bringing together all the performances from the Roadhouse venue. The album features tracks from the likes of ZZ Top and Eddie Vedder that I’d never normally listen to in a million years, but here it works. That David Lynch, he really is a clever man.

  6. What you describe about France sounds a lot like the Screen Actor’s Guild in America. A friend of mine is in the midst of a production on a fairly low budget feature, but he said his budget ballooned and he had to hire a person just to handle paperwork because several actors are members of SAG. One of the major reasons I never made FAR FROM SYRIA is that one of the actors I really wanted to work with belonged to SAG. Given that the shoot would only have demanded one day’s participation of his time, I would not have had to pay him an unreasonable amount, but the paperwork, considering how little work he would actually be doing, would be a total nightmare. I have a definite favorite actor for CULTURE SHOCK at this point, whom I’ll be E-mailing an introduction to tomorrow, and I really hope he’s not a SAG member.

    I’ve seen something like 100 photos of him at this point and watched his reel plus 3 shorts in which he appears (2 were very good – the third was based on a video game I’ve never played and I could make no sense of the narrative), and he’s being quite accurate when he described himself as a “physical chameleon” on his website. He wears glasses in about 3 of those photos, and I have no clue if he ever wears them in real life or if they’re fake. In any case, I know what I want the character in CULTURE SHOCK to look like broadly – no glasses, no facial hair – and what I want him to wear: a blazer over a T-shirt and jeans.

  7. Dennis, When LPS was 3 or 4, he really wanted to go on this dark ride in Ocean City, MD. So I took him. Maybe the least scary shit I’ve ever seen. Like, one skeleton popped up somewhere and you could barely see it. Plus, light all coming through cracks in the tunnel, enough so that it was barely dark. Dude still talks about it today as if it was the scariest shit ever. I guess his age and imagination at the time made it so scary.

    “They’re good eggs” -in reference to crickets- might be the cutest/funniest thing I’ve ever heard you say. Made me laugh out loud, which I rarely do when alone. And speak of the little good egg, he’s back! I can hear him now. I’ll send him your regards.

    I’ve not heard a peep from any of the Boy Band peeps since. I feel kind of bad for them. The let down has to be so hard afterwards.

    What’s always been odd to me is that the singers on The Voice are so much more accomplished than those on, say, American Idol, but nary a one has had any sort of real success. Well, except making guest appearances on later seasons of The Voice and doing concerts at county fairs and firehouses. And there have actually been one or two where I thought…maybe…just maybe.

    My mom watches that show religiously. I’ll look up from my dinner if a cute guy’s on. That’s about it. Boring shit, really.

  8. Wow, 2017 Halloween spree! Didn’t realize it’s going to be again soon. What’s your plan for this year, Dennis? Just briefly stopped by to say hi. But can’t stay long. A little too tired, so my thoughts are unpleasantly buzzing these days. Hope your sound work’s been even better than what you’d hoped.

  9. Oh, the Kevin Karstens!

    Thanks for the day, Dennis.

    I just got this in the mail — maybe you have it already?


    Love, Derek

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