Friday FabOoolousness – “Let’s Dance!”

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I to break down another cinematic original and its remake – this month, we discuss Footloose.

First, let’s review Catie’s summary of the 1984 film:

Footloose is the story of a big-city kid who moves to a podunk town where dancing is illegal.  The big-city kid fights to hold a school dance, a prom, and encounters resistance from both town leaders and other kids who don’t like slick, fast talking outsiders.  Footloose has it all–romance, fighting, laughs…and dancing.

And in keeping with Catie’s style, here’s a taste of the most recent, Footloose (2011):

I’ll be the first to admit that when I saw the trailer, I felt the remaking of Footloose was sacrilege.  The 1984 film is and forever will be a classic – why mess with greatness?

But it’s because of this negativity that I asked to review the 2011 remake by MTV Films.  And I won’t lie – I prepared myself for a horrible film.

The opening scene gave me goosebumps, blasting the original Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” as today’s teens danced and partied.  It almost seemed like there wasn’t a generational gap between kids today and kids twenty years ago – everyone appreciates good music.  Heck, I wanted to get up and dance with them.  Already, my opinion of the movie slowly began to turn around…

Immediately following the opening scene, five teens are killed in a horrendous car accident.  The driver, a senior football star, was also the son of the town’s reverend (Rev. Shaw Moore, played by Dennis Quaid).  This accident forces the members of the Bomont, Georgia city council to impose strict laws, forbidding teens from drinking and participating in public dancing.

The “new” Ren

Fast forward three years and viewers are introduced to the new kid in town, Ren McCormack (played by Kenny Wormald), a boy who also recently suffered a great loss of his own with the death of his mother.

The “new” Ariel

Ren immediately finds himself not mixing well with the locals and can’t quite understand why a local police officer pulls him over for disturbing the peace (he was playing his music too loud).  He attempts to befriend the reverend’s daughter (Ariel, played by Dancing with the Stars’ Julianne Hough), but she’s too busy rebelling and dating an older, rough-around-the-edges man to give Ren the time of day.

The “new” Willard

After Ren makes friends with a fellow high school boy (Willard, played by Miles Teller), he learns that the town also enforces a “no dance” ordinance.  Needless to say, Ren is miserable in Bomont.

Does this sound familiar?  It should – the 2011 film mirrors the 1984 classic throughout.  Usually I’d list the differences between the original and remake, but today we’re going to appreciate the similarities:

Ren’s car – a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, also known as a Slug-Bug around Texas
Ren’s hobby and pastime – Gymnastics
Ariel’s boots – red
Ren’s first day of school attire – a neck tie
Ren’s “blowing off some steam” dance scene – a lot of the moves were the same (but the music was way off)
Willard learns how to dance – wearing a straw cowboy hat to the music “Let’s Hear it For the Boy” by Deniece Williams
The high school students’ secret hangout – The Yearbook
Ariel’s t-shirt at the council meeting – “Dance your @$$ off”
Ren’s prom attire – dark red, almost maroon, tuxedo jacket with a black bow-tie

Can everyone see where I’m going with this?  I applaud the attention to detail in keeping the original alive.  Of course there were also a few differences, but the bottom line is what matters – the story remains the same.

Footloose is a story about a boy, a stranger from another part of the country, who moves in and changes the town people’s lives and opens their eyes to believing in their children again.

Footloose is the story of a town coming together to celebrate life, not just mourning the dead.

Footloose is the story of children finding their voice – peacefully and respectfully.

Catie mentioned the music in the original Footloose, something none of us can argue with – the soundtrack is simply amazing, featuring artists such as Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar, Mike Reno (of Loverboy), Ann Wilson (of Heart), Bonnie Tyler, Foreigner, John Mellencamp, and Quiet Riot.

How does the remake compare?  The 2011 soundtrack may not be considered a classic twenty years from now, but the movie does feature many of the original’s hits – including Kenny Loggins’ and Blake Shelton’s rendition of “Footloose”, a Quiet Riot heavy metal song, plus remakes of “Hero” and “Almost Paradise”.

Catie also enlightened the rest of us with a fun fact – Kevin Bacon was not the first choice to play the role of Ren in the 1984 hit — Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe were considered first.  Can any of us imagine anyone besides Kevin Bacon playing Ren?

The “original” Ren

Similarly, Kenny Wormald wasn’t the first choice for the remake either.  Apparently Zac Efron, Chace Crawford, and Thomas Dekker all passed on the role first for one reason or another.  I was a little disappointed, especially that Chase Crawford didn’t work out, but I must say I am not at all sad after watching Kenny Wormald’s performance.  I don’t know who he is, but he’s absolutely adorable and nailed the character of Ren.

Speaking of relatively unknowns, the same can be said for Miles Teller.  Catie honored the fabOoolous performance of Chris Penn as Ren’s best friend, Willard, in the 1984 film.  But what about the 2011 portrayal of Willard?  Miles Teller may actually be the best casting of the entire film.  Sometimes I actually saw and heard Chris Penn in his performance.

Now Catie closed her post on an entirely different note, introducing the true story on which Footloose is based.  Be sure to remember and click over to her blog to read all about it.

For me, I’m just going to close with Ren’s words: “There is a time to dance.”

“Let’s Dance!”

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Footloose?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Friday FabOoolousness – The Boo Factor: Dark Shadows

We don’t go to the movie theater often.  When we do actually go to the cinema, we rarely pick a flick on its opening weekend.  But at least once a year there is a movie release that I absolutely can’t miss — a film that I have been anxiously awaiting for months.

Readers of my blog know that I love scary movies – horror, slashers, psychological thrillers, classics, B-rated films, etc.  These are “my movies” according to my guy, and he usually insists that I see these with my girlfriends.

Two years ago, the film was the Nightmare on Elm Street remake starring Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, and Thomas Dekker.  My girls and I rushed out early on a Saturday morning to witness the “new” Freddy Krueger terrorize the teens of Springwood, Ohio.

In 2011, we again met at the theater for a Saturday morning viewing of Colin Farrell as the sexy vampire Jerry Dandridge in the remake of Fright Night – in 3-D no less.  As with Nightmare, this vampy flick put a new twist on the popular original which is exactly the kind of remake I appreciate (in most instances, not in The Clash of the Titans’ case).

But I digress…

Around December of last year, I knew exactly which film my girlfriends and I would see on its premiere weekend this year – Dark Shadows.

Dark Shadows is not new; it has been around for decades, literally.  In the ’60s and ’70s, Dark Shadows aired on the ABC network as a soap opera.  Dan Curtis’ melodramatic soap put the supernatural on the map – vampires, ghosts, werewolves, zombies, witches, etc.  It also featured time travel and aspects of parallel universes, something that is extremely popular on TV today.

The soap opera launched into a phenom craze of its own, and MGM released two feature films based on the popular hit in the ’70s: House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows.  Since then, the Dark Shadows franchise has grown to also include magazines, comics, and books.

In 1991, Dark Shadows aired on NBC as a primetime drama as a reimagining of the original series (also created by Dan Curtis).  The “new” Dark Shadows didn’t last past its freshman year, but the story grabbed a certain teenage girl in Midland, Texas who never missed an episode.  Yes, I’m talking about me…  Even today, I have my DVR set to record the ’91 series anytime it airs in syndication on SyFy or Chiller.

The Dark Shadows television series was almost brought back to life in 2004 by the WB, but the network passed on the pilot starring Alec Newman and other familiar faces: Marley Shelton (Valentine), Jessica Chastain (The Help), Alexander Gould and Martin Donovan (Weeds), Kelly Hu (Nash Bridges), Ivana Milicevic (Head over Heels), and Blair Brown (Fringe).  I am seriously bummed that this series didn’t make it.

So what makes Dark Shadows special?  Vampire Barnabas Collins

As if it wasn’t enough that Tim Burton is bringing Dark Shadows to the big screen, he cast one of the best actors of our time in the role of Barnabas Collins — the fabOoolous Johnny Depp.

Barnabas Collins, 2012

I’m a fan of vampires in general (the dark kind, not the lovey-dovey kind – yes, I’m referring to Twilight here).  The trailer has me worried that the film will be a bit “campy” for me, but I’m putting all preconceived notions aside and am looking forward to my movie date this weekend.  After all, Mr. Depp isn’t the only star cast in this cult classic: we also have Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Moretz (Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass), Helena Bonham Carter, and Jackie Earle Haley (the “new” Freddy Krueger) to just name a few.

It’s also rumored that a few of the soap opera stars from the ’60s and ’70s will play a cameo in the film, something I truly appreciate.  Did everyone notice Chris Sarandon’s cameo in Fright Night (2011)?  Loved it – the “old” vampire Jerry killed by the “new” vampire Jerry.  Brilliant!

I don’t know what to expect from this movie, but I know I’m looking forward to it.  With the exception of The Rum Diary (in my opinion), everything Johnny Depp touches turns to gold.  Surely Dark Shadows will be another of his masterful character pieces and will leave all of us applauding him once again.  The man is simply fantastic.  Partnered again with Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter, how can it fail?

Are you a Dark Shadows fan?  Did you prefer the soap or the ’91 retelling?  Do you plan to see the movie?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – Escaping with Movies

Very rarely do we actually go to the movie theater to catch a new release, but my guy and I do frequent the fabOoolous movie vending machines known as Redbox.  We also like to “rent” movies via OnDemand, whether it is the pay services or the free premium channels that accompany our cable plan.

Lately, our weekends have been filled with late night cinematic greatness after a day of running all around the metroplex shopping for cars and home workout equipment.  After being out in the Texas heat (it came early this year, folks), we only seem to have enough energy to curl up on the couch and pop in a movie.  Mostly we lean toward the comedies, wanting to laugh the day away, but we don’t shy away from the drama and tension filled mysteries either.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a list of movies that come highly recommended here at The Ooo Factor, so it’s time…

*****

If you’re in the mood to laugh…

Jack and Jill

While it’s not Adam Sandler’s best, it was very enjoyable.  As always we see the same cast of characters that Happy Madison Productions likes to offer cameo appearances to (it’s almost like playing a game… “which of Sandler’s friends grabbed a part in this film”), and we see the same type of comedy we’ve grown accustomed to over the years when Sandler’s involved.

Jack and Jill actually shares a very valuable message through the twin brother (Jack, played by Adam Sandler) and twin sister’s (Jill, played by a cross-dressed Adam Sandler) tumultuous relationship, and shows the importance of family and true friends.  Oh, and movie goers get to experience Al Pacino in a role unlike any other he has played.

*****

If you’re looking for a good, yet dark, mystery…

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Many have read the book, many have seen the Swedish film, but that didn’t stop American productions from making its very own version of the Steig Larson hit.  First of all, Rooney Mara deserves any and all acclaim for this film.  She transformed herself into the title character’s role, Lisbeth Salander.  From the hair, to the tattoos, to the piercings, and to the horrendously dark storyline of her character, she nailed the performance.  I think it’s safe to assume we won’t see Rooney resume her role in any future Nightmare on Elm Street renditions as Nancy, although that would be lovely.

And Daniel Craig, no he’s not James Bond in this film; but it is a nice change of pace from his 007 role.  I’ve always likened the actors who have played Bond in the past strictly to the Bond character, but not Craig.  His depth and acting skills are quite amazing, and I almost forget he’s our most recent sexy spy when I watch his other movies.

In the rare case that someone isn’t at all familiar with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise, let me warn you – this is a dark film; I cannot express it enough.  I don’t want to give anything away, but there really is no “Hollywood ending” to this story, but that’s not to say it isn’t fantastic.  And if you like mysteries and attempting to figure out the who, what, why, where, and when, give this one a go.

*****

One that I actually can’t recommend…

The Rum Diary

Usually we love Johnny Depp movies, and he seems to only select the best roles that add to his Hollywood greatness, but The Rum Diary was nothing at all like we expected.  The trailer looks hilarious, even the poster board at Redbox listed the movie as a comedy.  It’s not.  While there are funny moments, the movie’s more of a drama told in dedication to the deceased columnist and author, Hunter S. Thompson.

It’s hard to explain exactly what went wrong or where the film lost us, but we refused to give up and watched until the very end.  Even then, we just shook our heads in dismay; it was a major let down.

Here’s to hoping Depp is back to his fabOoolous roles as Barnabas Collins in the upcoming release, Dark Shadows.  Now this one will get me to the theater, and I really need to wash this Rum taste out of my mouth.

*****

Now, if you’re looking for a surprise treat…

Tucker and Dale Vs Evil

If you’re in the mood for a slasher that you can make fun of and laugh along with, I highly recommend Tucker and Dale Vs Evil starring Alan Tudyk (Suburgatory, Doll House) as Tucker, and Tyler Labine (Reaper) as Dale.  Most of us laugh at slashers anyway, right?  But those laughs are usually not along with the film, they are at the film…

In a nice change of events, we can actually laugh along with this movie.  Tucker and his buddy Dale, two hillbillies enjoying their purchase of their very first vacation home (a rundown shack that screams “Murderer lives here!”), are mistaken as murderers by a group of college students out in the woods on vacation.  One by one the college kids kill themselves, but no one is there to witness these deaths so the others believe Tucker and Dale are responsible.  Meanwhile Tucker and Dale think these kids have lost their minds killing one another, and they too are running around just as scared.

Seriously, this is an underrated film.  Most have probably not even heard of it.  Have you?

*****

Have you seen any of these movies?  If so, what did you think?  What movies have you seen lately that come highly recommended?  Have you been disappointed by any recent films?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Friday FaBOOolousness – March’s MarvelOoous Mashups, Awards, and a Tag Meme

We skipped February so it’s time for The Ooo Factor’s next installment of MarvelOoous Mashups.  This month I’m including a few awards that my fellow bloggers so generously awarded me, as well as participating in the widely spread Lucky 7 Meme.

First up, a big HUGE thanks to Marcy Kennedy for awarding me the Liebster Award!

Liebster is the German word for beloved person.  If anything, I have definitely developed a close friendship with Marcy, even though we’ve never met in real life.  She is one of the most supportive writing friends a girl could have, and I look forward daily to her tweets, emails, posts, and smiles.

In turn, I award these great blogging friends with the Liebster Award: Amber West and Jen L. Kirchner.  They’re my liebsters and excellent bloggers.

Jen has previously written a few great Vote Your Own Adventure blog series, but she’s now venturing out into the Sci-Fi world and provides great Gaming Reviews for Girls as well as Sci-Fi Pin Ups each month.

Amber, in addition to all of her blogging greatness, has started a new series of her own where she takes inspiration from her blog commenters to build the next portion of her story.  Her tale has just begun, so be sure and stop by her blog to contribute to her Tell Me a Story series.

I’d also like to express a big HUGE thanks to Martine Svanevik for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award and Fallon Brown for the Versatile Blogger Award.

I’ve done this a few times, but still feel like I should share the love and award a few new bloggers with the same honor.

Let’s see….who’s Kreativ?  Definitely Myndi Shafer.  Myndi blogs about anything and everything, but my favorite series is her I am Beautiful posts where she features women’s beauty from the inside out.

Who’s deserving of the Versatile Blogger Award?  Lydia Sharp of The Sharp Angle.  Lydia blogs about everything from vivacious spring colors, to the writing craft, and in one of my favorite segments, she promotes other writers and their books out in the market today in Fresh Baked Books.

THANK YOU, everyone!  Winning these awards for my posts means so very much to me, AND congratulations to the new recipients.

*****

In addition to these fabOoolous bloggers deserving of the awards, be sure to click on these sites featured in the March edition of MarvelOoous Mashups!

PART I: FabOoolous Writerly Posts

When writing, we’ve all heard to be careful with our use of flashbacks.  Luckily, Lydia Sharp helps us along with her post: Good Flashbacks, Bad Flashbacks.

All writers waffle back and forth as to whether or not they should travel down the traditional publishing route, the indie publishing route, or the self-publishing route.  These next two posts explore two of the three roads: The Ins and Outs of Indie Publishing, a guest post by PJ Sharon courtesy of Catie Rhodes, and Publishing with Small Press, a guest post by Laura Kaye courtesy of Stacy Green.  These are fabOoolous reads for all writers considering their publishing options.

Show Don’t Tell – one of the most popular phrases a writer hears when attending self-editing workshops.  Thanks to the great Angela R. Wallace, I found this wonderful example of how to show and not tell by Ilona Andrews.  Thanks for sharing, Angela!

What do we do when we want to talk about a controversial topic on our blog?  Taking a side in any controversy can be controversial in itself.  Thanks to August McLaughlin, she offers up a wonderful summation of just what to do in her post: Controversial Blog Posts – How to Make them Work.

We all know that Targeting Advertising is the Key to Success, right?  If not, check out this fabOoolous post and list of resources by Emlyn Chand.

PART II: FabOoolous Recipes

It’s Martini O’clock!  When in need of a fancy cocktail to get us through the night (or day in some circumstances), Jillian Dodd has just what we need: the Thin Mint Martini and the Salted Caramel Chocolate Martini.  YUM!!!

Part III: FabOoolous True Crime Stories

Jeffrey Dahmer didn’t corner the market on homosexual oriented serial killings. Kansas City had its own monster: Robert Berdella, a.k.a. the Butcher. While Dahmer killed his victims fairly quickly, Berdella liked to torture the young men he seduced for days and sometimes weeks. He kept a “torture book” detailing his sadistic activities. 

Ooo, Stacy really grabbed my attention with this one!  When I see an introduction like this, I’m interested.  For more about Bob’s Bazaar Bizarre, check out Stacy Green’s thrilling post.

What ‘s better than True Crime?  Throwing ghosts into the mix.  The Devil’s Weekend by Catie Rhodes does not disappoint.  To quote Catie quoting Joseph Conrad: “The horror! the horror!”

Part IV: Just Because They’re fabOoolous

Anyone who knows me, knows I love scary movies.  Especially slashers.  Which is why it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite links these past few months is Sonia G. Medeiros’ Creepiest Movie Quotes.

My vote for creepiest movie quote – “Your blood, all over me” from When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Can anyone name a few Songs that Became Movies?  It’s a lot harder than it seems.  Check out a few of the lyrical sensations that took Hollywood by storm, courtesy of Catie Rhodes.

Ever wonder what in the world the kids are talking about today?  Take a trip down memory lane with these Excellent Generational Phrases by Erin Brambilla.

Who is a Larger than Life Character?  Check out this very interesting blog post by Julie Glover where she explores theconcoctions of an author’s mind who take on their own identity and become conversational touchpoints

Julie picked Hannibal Lector as one of her top six. I have to agree…

Ever wonder what a logline would be like if we combined two movies together?  To be honest, I hadn’t either.  Not until I read Loglines from the Edge of Ridiculousness by Myndi Shafer.  This post is brilliant and very entertaining.

We can never be too safe in today’s digital world, which is why I absolutely recommend this fabOoolous Tech Safety and Security blog with Ian Thompson courtesy of Amber West.  Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like the hackers are growing exponentially today?

*****

And now for the last part of today’s special blog celebration — my participation in The Lucky 7 Meme tag game.  Thank you to Angela R. Wallace, Marcy Kennedy, Lisa Hall Wilson, Shannyn Schroeder, and Jillian Dodd for the big slap on the back (that’s how you play tag, right?).

Of course with any tagging game, there are rules…

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines (sentences or paragraphs) and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 writers and let them know.

Everyone knows that I’m working on my first YA mystery novel, but very few know anything about it.  I’ve kept pretty mum on my title and storyline, but considering I’m almost done with my cover and am in the final editing stage, it’s time.

So here’s an excerpt from the rough draft of my first book… drumroll please…

Football Sweetheart

Whew!  That’s the first time I’ve publically announced the name of my book!!

I’ve been editing for the past few months and I’m really not sure if this scene will actually end up on page 77, but it’s there now.  So here goes…

Aimee glanced up while singing along to Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” only to notice Jeanie wasn’t standing in the circle any longer.  She slowed her swaying, and started looking around.  Jeanie was new to the school, new to the group, and had never been out to Uncle Marty’s — not with the girls anyway.  Just as she started to panic, Aimee spotted Jeanie across the dark street talking to Bobby.   

“The nerve!”   Aimee spewed spit with the exclamation, luckily keeping her tone low enough to only grab the attention of her friends. 

Okay, so it’s not much… but I did play by the rules – page 77, 7 lines down, 7 lines of my novel.

I’ve read some great excerpts of those participating in the Lucky 7 Meme tag game these past few weeks, and I’m looking forward to more.  Here are my Lucky 7 that I’d like to return the favor and slap on the back — TAG, YOU’RE IT!

  1.        Jen L. Kirchner
  2.        Amber West
  3.        Angela R. Wallace
  4.        Nichole Chase
  5.        Stephanie Nelson
  6.        Liz Schulte
  7.        Claudia Lefeve

This was really out of my comfort zone to announce the name of my book as well as include a small excerpt.  But why not?  I sure hope my Lucky 7 take the plunge with me, but I also understand if they don’t.

What blogs have you read lately that have really stood out among the rest?  Have any good blog posts for writers regarding self-publishing or e-books that you’d like to share? Recipes? How about a favorite true crime story that sends chills down your spine?  We’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness: The Fear of the Unknown

Catie Rhodes and I are back with our new blog collaborative series where we each review an original movie and it’s more recent remake.  This month, we discuss the psychological horror film/s, The Thing.

Despite the fact that Catie agreed to review the 1982 film version of The Thing starring Kurt Russell, I scheduled the DVR to record it and watched it as well.  What better research for my blog post than to watch both films practically back-to-back, right?

For an early ‘80s film, The Thing is really terrifying.  I had seen it before, but still managed to jump in my seat on multiple occasions and cringe at some of the special effects — not because they were outdated, but because they were so well done and gory beyond belief.

The 1982 movie poster

After reading Catie’s post, I knew exactly why I was so impressed: The Thing was directed by none other than John Carpenter himself.  I may not be a “Level 3 Nerd” fan like she is, but I too believe the man is genius and knows horror (I am a big fan of Halloween; thank you, Mr. Carpenter).

I am also glad Catie mentioned the hotness of Kurt Russell.  Even with a full-on beard, the man had it going on in The Thing.  And if we’re being honest here, the main reason why I wanted to review the 2011 remake of The Thing is because of another cutie on my radar – Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: LA).

He's not a bad reason to watch a movie, right?

So I keep saying remake, but this is not correct.  I had heard in passing that the 2011 film was actually a prequel to the 1982 movie, but like usual decided that I must first see it to believe it.

It is.

Based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, writer Eric Heisserer begins the story with the Norwegian and American scientists who discover The Thing.  Not only do they discover the alien life form, but they also find its spaceship buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice.    The Norwegians contact a doctor (Ulrich Thomsen) about the discovery and he immediately makes plans to travel to the base.  But he first needs someone to assist with the dig.

The doctor remains hush-hush about the find when he hires a paleontologist to assist him (Kate, played by Mary Elizabeth Winsted).  Together with the doctor’s assistant (Olsen), the three travel to the Antarctic not knowing what BIG discovery they will unearth.  It doesn’t take long for their eyes to bug out in disbelief when they see firsthand what they are dealing with.

Kate immediately gets to work, and with help from the scientists removes a large chunk of ice surrounding the alien.  They return The Thing to the Norwegian base and the Mister-Know-It-All-Doctor demands a tissue sample from The Thing, even though Kate highly recommends against it.

The group later gathers in the common area and celebrates the find – they will forever be associated with the team that captured the first alien life form known to man.  While they party, the alien breaks through the ice and escapes.

Or does it?

Burn it! Burn it!

After capturing and burning the alien life form, Kate learns from a tissue sample that the creature’s cells have yet to die.  Instead, these cells have the ability to imitate another’s cells perfectly: a human’s cells.

Much like the original film, panic and mass paranoia spreads across the camp like a wildfire in hot, dry, and windy conditions.  The search for The Thing yields many dead bodies (and a dog, which I could have done without).  But luckily for the group, Kate discovers a crucial tell-tale sign about The Thing — when it imitates a life form, it cannot absorb any metal — therefore no dental fillings, no earrings, and no metal rods replacing bones from previous surgeries will absorb in the mutation.  Knowing this will later prove to save her life.

I'd be looking behind my shoulder too...

The 2011 movie ends just as the 1982 movie begins.  The transition was very well done, even matching the music and the burned Norwegian camp with the dead body inside (the man slit his throat rather than die at the hands of The Thing).  The film also answers how The Thing escapes camp to continue its slaughter of human lives after MacReady (Russell) arrives – the alien is the dog (again with the poor dog).

Unlike the 1982 movie, the prequel (ha, notice I didn’t say remake this time) didn’t get great overall reviews.  But it’s really not that bad.  I particularly liked the fact that one doesn’t have to watch the films sequentially in order to understand what’s going on.  I also applaud the fact that even though the 2011 film is a prequel to the 1982 version, they didn’t take us back in time with ‘80s clothes and other retro images.  Or if they did, it wasn’t distracting.  It’s not that I have anything against the ‘80s (I’m actually a proud child of the ‘80s), but sometimes the effort to create a certain time period takes away from the rest of the story.

Having watched both films, and truly knowing what to expect, I still jumped in my seat…on multiple occasions.  I even looked away at times.  That to me is good horror.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1982 or the 2011 The Thing?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Friday FabOoolousness: Babysitting is a Dangerous Business

Catie Rhodes and I had such a fabOoolous time teaming up and writing the last collaborative blog (Straw Dogs), that we decided to start a monthly series where we’ll review and compare original films and their remade counterparts.  This month, we discuss the psychological horror film, When a Stranger Calls.

On her Wild-Card Wednesday post, Catie breaks down the 1979 horror film, When a Stranger Calls, starring Carol Kane and Charles Durning.  In her blog, she mentions the fact that the original movie was based on an urban legend: The Babysitter and The Man Upstairs.

In addition to When a Stranger Calls, other popular horror/slasher flicks come to mind that play off of this urban legend: Black Christmas (1974 and 2006), as well as the cult-classic Scream franchise.   Being that Catie and I are planning future blog posts, I won’t go into much detail about Black Christmas since it’s a potential candidate in the running, but we can briefly discuss the opening sequence of Scream.

A girl, home alone, prepares popcorn awaiting the arrival of her boyfriend when the telephone rings.  The disguised voice on the other end asks her, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” and before we know it, the teenager is terrorized by a crazed killer, chasing her through the house.  While she may not be babysitting, she is home alone and the killer is already inside the house.

Creepy…

Catie also does a wonderful job of  breaking the original When a Stranger Calls down into the classic three-act structure: Act One, the babysitter and the “caller”; Act Two takes place seven years later, as a former policeman chases the “caller”; and Act three, when the “caller” has refocused his attentions on the babysitter from years earlier.

Immediately, we see the first major difference between the original movie and the remake – the 2006 When a Stranger Calls focuses approximately 90 minutes on the original film’s act one.  The second and third acts of the original movie do not exist in the remake.

The trailer:

The movie begins with a brutal murder after a girl receives prank phone calls – the killer doesn’t leave behind a murder weapon, and the body is so completely mutilated that the medical examiner has to remove it in multiple body bags.

 

Next, we meet Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle), who lives over a hundred miles away from the first homicide.  Jill is clearly having a rough week – her boyfriend cheated on her with her supposed good friend Tiffany (played by Katie Cassidy), and her parents have disconnected her cell phone for going 800 minutes over her calling plan.

Side note #1: Why does the home-wrecker character always have to be named Tiffany in movies and television?

Side note #2: The fact that a teenager doesn’t have an unlimited cell phone plan really dates this movie, and it’s only six years old.

Back on topic:

To pay off her cell phone bill, Jill agrees to babysit instead of partying all night with her friends at the high school bonfire.  Her father drives Jill out to her employer’s house for the evening — a beautiful and luxurious home out in the middle of nowhere, hidden behind security gates with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the plush trees and forest.   The wealth of the family also allows for motion sensor lights throughout the house, and for an enclosed  greenhouse smack dab in the center of the home, filled with greenery, chirping birds, a pond, and fish.

The parents give Jill the quick run through before leaving for their night out – if she hears any noises, it could be one of three things:

1)      Their black cat,
2)      Their housekeeper, who lives upstairs but has the night off,
3)      Or their son living in the guest house, home from college.

Jill sets the alarm, and settles in for a nice and quiet night of studying while the children sleep upstairs.  This should be easy, right?

Wrong.  The suspense starts almost immediately: the phone rings with no one on the other end, which Jill assumes is her silly ex-boyfriend and his friends playing pranks on her; she hears doors and/or cabinets close, which she imagines is just the housekeeper; the house alarm sounds, which she also writes off as the housekeeper since her employers mentioned they can’t seem to get her to remember the code; Tiffany pays her a surprise visit, through the open garage door (how did that happen?); and the motion sensor lights keep going on and off in other parts of the house.

Jill is so spooked, that at one point she walks through the house with the fire-place stoker in hand.  Okay, who hasn’t done that at least once?

The prank calls continue, and finally the voice on the other end of the phone speaks out and Jill has had enough.  She calls around for help, but not even the police can do anything at this point.

The phone rings again, and this time the “caller” asks those five frightening words:

“Have you checked the children?”

Jill does what any good babysitter would do, and she rushes upstairs to check on the sleeping children who are safe and sound, snuggled away in their beds.

The phone rings again:

“How were the children?”

How is he watching her?  Jill hangs up and calls the police again, and this time they agree to run a trace on the calls.  Before hanging up, the officer on the other end of the call reminds Jill that she is “safe inside the house.”  Yea, right!  Famous last words….

At this point in the 2006 film there is a lot of Jill’s running around the property, searching for the housekeeper, for the son home from college, for anything to make her feel better about being alone in this house.

And then the phone rings again, and trying to keep the “caller” on the line for the minimum sixty seconds required for the police trace, Jill asks, “What do you want?”

“Your blood, all over me.”  This may be one of the creepiest movie quotes of all time…

Jill successfully keeps the “caller” on the line long enough for the police trace, and the police notify Jill that “the call is coming from inside the house!”

Side Note #3: My doorbell rang at this very moment in the movie, and I had to laugh at the fact that I literally jumped in my seat.  Now I’ve seen this movie multiple times, but that didn’t stop the delivery man from giving me that one little “BOO!” when he dropped off our package…

Back to When a Stranger Calls

This is where the big battle ensues, and I don’t want to give too much away in case everyone hasn’t seen the movie.   But even during the fight scenes, the viewers don’t see the “caller’s” face.  Not once.  He is just a dark shadow, lurking around every corner, pursuing Jill until the end.

It’s not until the very end of the film, after the “caller” is arrested, that we see his face – and it is a creepy, creepy face (played by Thomas Flanagan).

There were rumors that a sequel was in the works, but other rumors mentioned that it had been thrown to the cutting room floor.  I’m not sure “sequel” would be the appropriate term anyway; it sounds just like another remake.  A true sequel would be a movie about the second and third acts from the original film, not another movie about a babysitter.

Regardless, we still have the 1979 When a Stranger Calls, the 1993 television sequel When a Stranger Calls Back (also starring Carol Kane and Charles Durning), and the 2006 remake to satisfy our psychological thriller needs.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of When a Stranger Calls?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

If you still want more of “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs” urban legend, check out When a Killer Calls (also 2006).

Friday FaBOOolousness –MarvelOoous Mashups in the New Year

Welcome to the first edition of 2012’s MarvelOoous Mashups.  We spent the last few months of the year keeping to holiday themes, but now we’re back to sharing the writing and entertainment links that stood out and provided us with great information.

A few of these posts were published months ago, but we held onto them here at the Ooo Factor because the content of these bloggers is definitely worth the wait.  Be sure to click on these fabOoolous links featured today in the January edition of MarvelOoous Mashups!

PART I: FabOoolous Writerly Posts

E-Book pricing is a heated debate right now.  We’ve seen multiple blogs discussing whether or not free is a good thing, but these publications didn’t really help the rest of us looking to self-publish who want to know exactly how to price our work.  Not until we read E-Book Pricing by Ruth Harris and another E-Book Pricing post by Dean Wesley Smith.  Finally, some food for thought.

Before writing, many of us would question whether or not writer’s block is an actual disease.  Well, maybe it’s not a disease, but it does happen.  Heidi Cohen helps writers Fight the Writing Demons with challenges we can overcome.

One demon I wouldn’t mind battling while writing…okay, so he’s not a “writing” demon.

Show, Don’t Tell.  Speak to the Reader.  These are all things important to our manuscripts that we’ve heard as writers.  But how does a writer add psychological power to his or her writing, or speak to the reader’s subconscious?  Margie Lawson tells us how and provides fabOoolous examples in her guest post over at Jenny Hansen’s Cowbell.

Feel like getting to know a New York Times Best Selling Author?  Piper Bayard takes us one-on-one with Sandra Brown in this fantastic interview.  Sixty of her books have made it onto the NYT Best Selling List!?!  Oh, to dream…

With Sandra Brown at DFWcon 2011

What makes a story a mystery? A thriller? A romance?  Genre is a very important aspect of all writing; it’s actually the first question anyone asks when we announce that we are writing a story – What are you writing?  Learn what makes up a few of the different genres here in Genre Matters by Kristen Lamb.

Another hot topic in the world of writing involves the different publishing methods available to writers today.  Will self-publishing phase out the traditional publishing houses?  What does the future have in store for us?  Lynn Kelley takes a look at her Publishing Choices and includes a couple of great blurbs and links from other writers and agents for the rest of us worried about taking that next big step.

As if the perils of writing, e-book pricing, and publishing aren’t stressful enough, where would writers be without the important step of editing – and editing correctly?  Girls with Pens (the great Marcy Kennedy and Lisa Hall-Wilson) share 6 Steps for the Final Edit and the ever important 5 Ways to Show and Not Tell.  Seriously.  Read these.

PART II: FabOoolous Recipes and Crafts

Who doesn’t like to order Bread Pudding when dining out at a nice restaurant?  Well, now we don’t have to wait for that special date night!  Instead, Amber West cooks up this homemade dessert for our very own private recipe list!

Looks good to me!

Ever enjoyed a Cupcake MartiniJillian Dodd shares this delicious recipe, including a rim of icing.  Seriously.  Yum.

Looking to fill the day with something other than work?  Why not get crafty and creative with Custom Coasters like these man-cave favorites designed by Amber West.

Amazing!

Part III: FabOoolous True Crime Stories

Comics about Jeffrey Dahmer?  Songs about Charles Manson?  Yes, they do exist.  Catie Rhodes shares a few shocking true stories about Murder and Pop Culture adaptations, including the actual crime that inspired the movie Scream.

 

We always hear about all the open cold cases that have never been solved.  We even watch television shows including A&E’s Cold Case Files and the former CBS series Cold Case to see authorities working diligently years later to find closure for these victims.  So why not celebrate a few Solved Cold Cases, courtesy of Stacy Green.

Part IV: Just Because They’re fabOoolous

There has been a lot of Buffy talk on Twitter lately, and for good reason – Buffy rocks.  Luckily for those who haven’t watched the fabOoolous vampire slayer kick some serious butt and fall in love with multiple bad boys with bite (awe, Angel and Spike – how we miss thee!), Lyn Midnight takes the time to Break Down Buffy for us.

It seems we’re always watching movies about teen rebellion.  But when Catie Rhodes mentions that Over the Edge is the 1970’s version of Rebel Without a Cause, how can we resist watching?  Better yet, Catie explains that the story is inspired by actual events AND that the Nirvana hit “Smells like Teen Spirit” was based on the tale.  Interesting, right?

 

Time for the Sci-Fi Battle Royale: Who would win – Captain Kirk or Captain Picard? Jen L. Kirchner places the two Star Trek captains side by side and offers her opinion on the matter.  Who do you think would win?

Who read the Choose Your Own Adventure stories growing up?  We did, which is only one reason why we love Zombies over at Mark Lidstone’s blog.  Each week, Mark posts another chapter in Victoria’s attempt to escape the post zombie apocalyptic world, and our votes help guide him through to the next week’s story.  Vote now!

 

What blogs have you read lately that have really stood out?  Have any good blog posts for writers regarding self-publishing or e-books that you’d like to share? How about a favorite true crime story that inspired Hollywood to make a movie?  We’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – Knocking Down Straw Dogs

I love scary movies, including honest to goodness horror and slashers, as well as suspenseful, psychological thrillers.  That’s why when I saw the trailer for Straw Dogs (2011) last year, I felt chills run down my spine.  I would watch this movie.

It didn’t hurt that the trailer for the film was full of eye-candy: Alexander Skarsgard (Vampire Eric Northman from True Blood); James Marsden (Cyclops from the X-Men movies); and for the men, Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush).

Immediately, I reached out to my writing and movie friend, Catie Rhodes, who has introduced me to many great crime films – some even inspired by actual events.  But, I digress.

During our chat, Catie mentioned that Straw Dogs (2011) is a remake to the 1971 Sam Peckinpah film starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George.  Once again, Catie was educating me on an older movie that I wasn’t familiar with (travesty, I know).

After renting Straw Dogs (2011) via my favorite vending machine (Redbox), I contacted Catie again.  Following a brief conversation, we decided to team up and provide a review of the original movie and the remake.

Hollywood always seems to remake movies, almost to the point to where we might think all originality is gone.  But I like to think that it is because there are so many great older films that the newer generations aren’t familiar with, and the remake introduces them to the story.

The general definition of the term straw dog means something that is made to only be knocked down, or when someone is referring to raping or pillaging someone.

In Catie’s post, she mentioned the Chinese tradition of using straw dogs (dolls) as sacrifices.  According to the Tao Te Ching, a straw dog was dressed up and honored at the altar only to be discarded in the streets at the end of the ceremony.

Honestly, all three of these explanations are applicable in the 2011 remake by Rod Lurie.

The movie follows David Sumner (Marsden) and his wife, Amy (Bosworth), as they return to her small hometown in Mississippi.  The young couple recently inherits her family home following her father’s death, and David feels the wide open space and the peace and quiet will be exactly what he needs to finish his current movie script.

They’re not in town long before David meets the town’s characters, including: Amy’s former classmate and ex-boyfriend, Charlie Venner (Skarsgard); the previous high school football coach (Emmy winning and Academy Award nominated actor, James Woods) and his teenage daughter (Willa Holland, The O.C.);   Daniel Niles (Walton Goggins, Boyd Crowder from Justified) and his mentally handicapped brother, Jeremy (Dominic Purcell, Prison Break); and Charlie’s “boys” – Norman (Rhys Coiro, Entourage), Chris (Billy Lush, The Black Donnellys), and Bic (Drew Powell, Leverage).

Trying to win over the home crowd, David hires Charlie and his “boys” to fix the barn’s roof across from the couple’s new home.  The “boys” take advantage of the situation by showing up for work according to their own schedule and working only a few hours per day.  Matters intensify as the “boys” taunt David, making Amy feel she’s married to a coward, and they constantly gawk at Amy and her short shorts and braless breasts (although flashing her bare breasts while the “boys” are working doesn’t help the situation).

One thing leads to another, and before we know it the Sumner family pet is murdered, Amy is brutally attacked, and David snaps.

Everyone has a breaking point (the logline for the 2011 remake).

To what extent will Charlie's "Boys" follow the leader?

The closing scenes of Straw Dogs reminds me of one of my favorite all-time movies (Fear starring Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon and William Peterson) when the “boys” and their coach viciously attack the impenetrable Sumner home from the outside, while the Sumners (particularly David) put up the fight of their lives protecting one another and distraught Jeremy, who sits in the corner rocking back and forth yelling over the commotion trying to ease himself.

Sounds like Fear, doesn’t it?

In her blog post reviewing the 1971 movie, Catie writes “the tension is like a character in the film.”  That’s also true of the 2011 version, but probably the largest similarity between the two Straw Dogs is the ambiguity of the stories – we don’t get a ton of answers.

We never know the story behind Amy and Charlie, other than it seems extremely awkward when she returns.  We never know who murders the Sumner pet; we only assume it’s one of the “boys” at Charlie’s orders.  We never know why the former football coach’s teenage daughter continuously bates poor Jeremy, knowing that her father will kill the poor boy the next time he catches Jeremy near her.

Mainly, we just never know many things behind the why.

But we do know that the so-called coward transforms into a hero at the end, and all the straw dogs are knocked down.

“He’s got some man in him after all.”

What do you think?  Have you seen the original 1971 Straw Dogs film or 2011 remake?  Were you satisfied or left wishing for a bit more? Is there a remake that you feel is actually better than the original?  I’d love to hear from you.

Be sure and click over to Catie’s review if you haven’t already!

Friday FabOoolousness – All Good Things Must Come to an End

Over the holidays, we watched a movie that I remember had grabbed my attention when the actors were moving through the daytime and nighttime talk shows doing press – All Good Things.

The story is based on, or inspired by, alleged events surrounding the life of Robert Durst.  My family, who has lived in both New York City and the great state of Texas, remembers hearing about these stories and the people involved.  Loving true crime the way that I do, I was shocked to realize I wasn’t familiar with this case and immediately logged onto the Internet to read about it.

The real-life story, and the movie, is right up my alley.

***** WARNING – SPOILERS *****

The movie stars Ryan Gosling as David Marks, the eldest son and heir apparent to his father’s New York City real estate conglomerate.  As a young boy, David’s mother commits suicide right in front of him and his life changes forever.  His father (Frank Langella) never gives up hope, and continues to push David to be at his beck and call, including having him dressing down to fix tenant’s maintenance issues at the drop of a hat and dressing up to showcase at political events and high society dinners.

Early in the 1970s, David meets Katherine “Katie” McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst).  They fall in love and marry, despite his father’s disapproval.  David and Katie move to Vermont and open an organic food store, fittingly named All Good Things.  After a short while, David’s father plants a seed of doubt in David’s mind that Katie deserves AND wants more than the measly shop out in the middle of nowhere.  They sell the store and move back to the city where David goes to work for his father.

Of course, working for the Marks family has its privileges – the money rolls in, the young couple buys a penthouse and a second home out on a nearby lake, and everything seems to be going according to the grand master plan that all married couples hope for when they start their new life together.  David and Katie associate and party with other successful couples, including David’s long-time best friend and bestselling author, Deborah Lehrman (Lily Rabe).

But everything is seldom as it appears….

The Marks’ family business isn’t as clean as a legitimate real estate company should be, and certain law enforcement officers are searching for a way to take them down.  David is tasked with collecting the rent, or books, of a few extremely shady properties for his father (one was clearly a porn house), and his buildings are the first hit by the police.

Katie wants to start a family, but David refuses without giving any explanation.   Of course, as luck would have it, Katie soon discovers that she is pregnant and David forces her to have an abortion.  Distraught, Katie focuses more on her education, and less on her marriage.  She slowly pushes away from her husband and at one point even attempts to file for a legal separation.  Unfortunately, for Katie to continue her dreams of attending medical school, she needs the Marks’ money and decides to stay with David.

Their lives were never the same; David spends his time in the city, and Katie spends her time at school.  They see each other on the weekends at the lake house, but the two fight to the point that their relationship turns abusive.  Late one night in 1982 while taking out the trash, Katie discovers that David has killed their family dog and she grabs the shovel to go inside and confront him.

Katie is never seen again.

Or is she?

The doorman at the NYC penthouse claims to have seen Katie arrive at the property early the next morning wearing oversized sunglasses and her hair down covering her face.  She was also reported making a phone call at the phone booth just outside the building that same day.

But back to the night of Katie’s disappearance, a very telling portion of the movie (in my opinion)…

David drives over to his father’s mansion for a quick late night visit.  Rambling and clearly disturbed, David ends the conversation by telling his father that they’re the same now – alone.  David leaves, on foot, and his father notices that he has left Katie’s Mercedes behind, parked directly in front of the house.  His father walks over to the trunk of the car, opens it, and the camera focuses on his face.

After an exhausting search by the McCarthy family, and publically supported by the Marks family, David leaves the city and moves to Galveston, Texas where he rents a small apartment.  He begins cross-dressing and pretends to be mute so that no one will bother him or discover who he actually is.  He repeatedly dodges phone calls from Deborah, who desperately needs help (money) and who begins to threaten him if he doesn’t call her back.

It is at this point that David decides to befriend his aging neighbor, Malvern Bump (Philip Baker Hall).   The two men bond by shooting guns together, and David later convinces Malvern to help him out with his situation in exchange for a place to live, considering he is facing eviction at his apartment complex.  With nowhere else to turn, and trusting David, Malvern travels to California and shoots Deborah dead inside her own home, execution style.

When Malvern returns to Texas to discover David never paid the escrow on the house, the two scuffle and David kills him.  He doesn’t stop there – he dismembers Malvern’s body, dresses in drag, and disposes of Malvern’s body parts in a body of water.

The movie ends with David on trial for Malvern’s death.  He is found not-guilty by way of self-defense, however did face a short stint in prison for the wrongful disposal of the body.  While Deborah’s murder in California prompts the NYC District Attorney to reopen Katie’s disappearance with David as the primary suspect, no charges were ever filed and he retires in Florida…selling real estate.

An aged Gosling playing David Marks

*****

This is not in any way a feel good movie.  A few one-liners by Kristen Wiig’s character might have been the only time I laughed out loud (the scenes with Katie’s attorney).  However, the performances by Gosling and Dunst deserve some sort of acclaim, any sort of acknowledgement.  The two young actors are absolutely brilliant with their portrayal of such haunted characters.

Obviously, the character’s names in the movie have been changed to protect the innocent and any surviving family members (Robert Durst = David Marks; Kathleen McCormack = Katie McCarthy; Susan Berman = Deborah Lehrman; Morris Black = Malvern Bump).

A story by the New York Times reported that Durst viewed All Good Things and basically had no major objections to the story, other than he wasn’t involved in the three murders.  For more from the Times’ Article on the Durst family’s thoughts regarding the movie, click here.

Are you familiar with the Robert Durst story?  Have you seen All Good Things?  What do you think?  Will his wife’s body ever be discovered?  Has he gotten away with two (alleged) perfect murders?  I’d love to hear your take! 

Friday FabOoolousness – Jillian Dodd and finding That Boy

Earlier this summer, I found myself reluctantly attending a Meet and Greet with a few other SheWrites.com members that I’d only talked to briefly online.  Having heard repeatedly that writers need to network, I hopped in my car and drove the ten minutes to BJ’s Brewery where I met Jillian Dodd.

Author Jillian Dodd

Jill and I hit it off immediately.  Not only do we share the same profession and love for the written word, we both have a minor obsession (okay, maybe it’s a tad major) with NCAA football.  For the past decade, our alma maters even played each other in the same conference: Jill’s a Nebraska Cornhusker, and we all know I’m a Texas Tech Red Raider.  One might think this would make Jill and I instant rivals, but it didn’t; instead, we were immediate friends.

Jill and I now belong to the same writing group and she’s a frequent lunch date of mine.  We also share a love of movies and luckily live close enough to one another that we can meet at the AMC Theater on occasion for an afternoon of playtime.

Jill published her first book, That Boy, earlier this year and will soon release the sequel, That Wedding.  I hope everyone enjoys getting to know Jill just as much as I have!

That Boy:

You know, being friends with two cute boys does have its benefits.

There’s Danny, the golden boy in every way. He has dreamy blue eyes and blonde hair that always looks perfect, even when it’s windblown or has been stuck under a football helmet. He’s the boy that every girl crushes on; he’s the hot quarterback that no girl can resist, not even me. Being with Danny is like being on an adventure; he’s the boy I get into trouble with, the boy I fight with. He has a bright, contagious smile and abs to die for. He’s pretty much irresistible.

Equally crush worthy is Phillip. Adorable, sweet Phillip, who I have known since birth. Phillip has dark hair, a perfect smile, brown eyes, and the sexiest voice I have ever heard. He’s the boy I talk to every night before I go to sleep. He’s the boy who rescues me; the boy who can read my mind; the boy who is always there for me; the boy who tries to keep me out of trouble; and the boy who irritatingly keeps getting hotter, and whose strong arms always seem to find their way around me. And when he gives me that grin, I can never say no.

One boy will give me my very first kiss.
One boy will teach me to make out.
One boy will take me to prom.
And finally, one boy will ask me to marry him.
They will both be my best friends.
But only one of them will be the boy I fall in love with.

Only one of them is That Boy.

 *****

When you were a little girl, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?

When I was a little girl, I loved to read, but writing never really crossed my mind. I grew up on a farm and dreamed of adventure. I wanted to be a spy. My parents owned a clothing store when I was in college, so I majored in Textiles, Clothing, and Design. I wanted to be a buyer, own a chain of stores, and make a million or so. LOL.

I never dreamed of being a writer, but I did dream about the story I wrote, which is what made me start writing. I’ve always written stories in my head for my own entertainment. Like on long drives, I would dream up and act out stories in my mind. When I was forced to clean our family’s basement every Saturday morning, it always took me forever because I acted out a musical I wrote to all the Beach Boys songs on Endless Summer.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

Honestly, I dream vividly. Many of my ideas come from dreams.

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

All time favorite in Carolyn Keene, who wrote the Nancy Drew series.  For fun, I read a combination of YA and thrillers: James Rollins, David Baldacci, Lee Child, Alex Horowitz, and Sophie Kinsella.

Did you design the cover art for That Boy yourself?

I did. I illustrated the inside of the book with lots of silly little doodles. I envisioned something like what I would’ve drawn on my notebook as a teen. I also wanted something very simple that stood out amongst all the photos of people on most romances. I originally planned to do three books – That Boy has the heart; That Wedding will have a wedding cake; and That Baby would have a rattle. Simple, bold, and similar.

Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters.  Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing your characters and why?

I didn’t really for That Boy. I sorta combined some people I knew with other people’s personalities. The relationships between Danny and Lori and Phillip and Jadyn were inspired by my husband and our friendship with another couple (the guy in the couple is one of my best friends).

The new series that I’m working on is set in a boarding school and has a lot of characters, so I do have photos of each character in front of me when I write.

Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?

Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer. Really, the entire cast of Magic Mike.

Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

I love to paint, see movies, cook, shop, and spend time with my family. My son is a semi-pro kart racer, so I spend lots of time traveling with him as well. I’m also a bit addicted to Twitter.

You are an avid college football fan like me.  If you could play, which position would you choose and why?

Part of me wants to say the quarterback because I like to control things, but I was the pitcher for my fast pitch softball team for years, and that was a lot of pressure. When I didn’t pitch, I played first base. It was much less stress. So I’d say I’d want to be a wide receiver. Run down the field, catch the ball, and score.

I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your four favorite television programs airing today? 

I’m loving Revenge, and I LOVE Gossip Girl, even though it is NOTHING like the books. I have been doing research for That Wedding and have become addicted to David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding, as well as, Say Yes to the Dress.

 

You review a new movie every Friday on your blog, what is your favorite movie all-time?

Oh, wow. I don’t know if I could pick just one. I loved Independence Day. I can watch it over and over. I could also watch The Hangover a million times; it just keeps getting funnier. I would also include Harry Potter, Star Wars, Transformers, Talladega Nights, The Golden Child, Boomerang, and Titanic. I could go on for days. Avatar. I’ll stop now.

What snacks do you order when at a movie theater? 

I get the same thing every time – large popcorn, to which I add way more butter than is good for me, and a large Diet Coke (the Diet Coke counteracts all the calories I consume. Like, in theory.)

*****

Isn’t Jill almost like that girl we’d all like to know?!

Want more Jill?  Be sure to visit her website and blog, follower her Twitter and Goodreads, and like her Facebook author page.

And don’t forget to buy a copy of That Boy here – Jill has Kindle, Nook, iPad and PDF copies available!

Do you have a question for Jill?  Have you read That Boy, and if so share your thoughts here!  What’s your favorite love story and why?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Before we go, here’s a special sneak peek of That Wedding

I know Phillip is that boy. The boy I want to marry, my prince, my happily ever after. I feel like I’m living in a dreamy fairytale.

But then Pastor starts asking questions I don’t know the answers to.
I have horrible wedding disaster dreams.
I can’t find a dress.
I have to manipulate Phillip to get my way.
And then, an old boyfriend asks me to run away and marry him.
My best friend tells me I’m going to ruin everything.
And forever is starting to sound like a really long time.

Which makes me start to wonder…

I wonder if best friends should get married.
I wonder if I’m settling.
I wonder if the fact that sex with Phillip is so amazing that it’s clouding my judgment.
I wonder if it’s just cold feet.
I wonder if marriage is all that fun.

And then I have to decide. Am I willing to give up on true love forever, or should I say, what the hell, and marry him?

*****

HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR!