There is a Blues song written by Tampa Red who recorded it in 1940 entitled “When Things Go Wrong (It hurts Me Too). You get the jest. When things go bad with somebody you’re close to or relate with it hurts you too. You are empathetic. You feel their pain.
Like a good many people who are living in California I’m from another state. Many times people have left friends and family to travel here and make their living. Unlike the first time around in life, they get to create their own new family and surround themselves with people they’d rather be with than the ones thrust upon them at birth. If it isn’t family then a new grouping of friends is formed, usually of like mind. The Horror community became both of those things for me – family and friends. Their giving and support has helped Sue and I build Dark Delicacies into a wonderful place where people of the dark brain twist can enjoy their literature and film, art and music. Joined by other stores and owners with a nerdish proclivity that leans a little fearfully into the spooky arena, the entire thing, the whole adventure has been and still is wonderful. When you throw in the fan base, probably the most loyal fan base of any genre, it is a match made in heaven…or, er.. someplace.
Back to the problem it started when I received a shipment of DVD releases into the store. I had them on the back counter behind the register having not gotten around to displaying them yet and was conversing with a friend and customer. He (I’m calling everybody a he in this story so as to reveal nothing personal) pointed at the movies and asked if I had heard the story concerning the top film on the stack. I hadn’t so he told me that it had been made originally as a series of short films, sketches, to raise money for a charity and that was how the writer/director got the Horror names who are in it to do the film for little and in many cases no pay. The problem was that the WD (short for writer/director) was only supposed to use the scenes/stories for that. But what ended up happening was that in the ensuing years the WD cobbled together a storyline that tied the pieces together and has released it as a feature, albeit against his word and contracts.
My customer said he was told that by somebody (one of the names) involved and they were furious. Later I took it upon myself to contact this name ( I knew them from events over the last couple of decades) and inquired. “Unfortunately it’s true, Del. It’s a terrible situation. No actors did any press for it.” He went on to say that he wouldn’t have brought it up had I not inquired about it. But he also thought it would be a shame if I were to schedule a signing event at the store only then to discover that nobody would come out and sign for it out of no fault of Dark Delicacies. He didn’t want me to lose money like the performers had. Wow.
I didn’t want to go with one source so I contacted two others who were listed on the box by, not only their names, but also with thumbnail photos. I got the same response plus the added info that the actors’ reps had sent out a cease and desist letter to the filmmaker and the distributor. The DVD arrived at my store so we see all the good that letter accomplished. In the end none of the reps wanted to spend money on a legal battle. So privately lawyer or lawyers have been hired and the battle continues.
But the family, our family, has been hurt by sleaze and broken promises. Not new in Hollywood? For sure. But the horror family in Southern California is small enough that we all know each other. When things go wrong it hurts all of us too. Another problem is that the next time these fine people are asked for their participation in a charity project they are going to be more apt then not to have a reason not to participate. With good reason. One of the names involved said to me – “I’m waiting to see what transpires. Hoping the DVD will die a slow death. I don’t want to give it any visibility by talking about it.”
I’ve honored that request by mentioning nobody and certainly not the name of the film. I can tell you this much. Tomorrow the film goes back to the distributor with a terse note to let them know that we are all aware of the film’s history and that you will not be able to buy it at Dark Delicacies. A big brave move? Nope, just a little thing we can do to support our extended family when things go wrong.