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AICN First Look! Moriarty’s Taken THE PERFECT SLEEP! Should You?!

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here. Jeremy Alter is one of those guys. If you’ve been in Los Angeles for a while, you’ve met people like him. Guys who have worked in various capacities on dozens of films, all the while keeping their eye on the prize of making their own film at some point. At this point, I’m not even sure when it was that I initially met him, but we’ve known each other for at least five or six years now on a casual, friendly basis. He was the location manager who called me up one day and asked if I minded if he brought a small film crew to use my apartment, eventually showing up with David Lynch and Laura Dern in tow. That was for a shoot that eventually led to INLAND EMPIRE, a film that Jeremy’s a producer on, just one of many films he’s worked on in the time I’ve known him. But when we would talk, it wouldn’t be about those films. I actually know him first and foremost because of the work he’s done with his creative partner, Anton Pardoe. I was a huge fan of Michael Valle’s SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VENGEANCE OF DRACULA back when he was alive and developing the film, and after I’d written about that, I was sent a script that used the same jumping-off point to do something totally different. That script was HVD, or HOLMES VS DRACULA, written by Pardoe, intended at the time as a possible directorial effort by Alter. I liked the vibe of their script a lot, and as we kept talking over time, the other things they were working on all had a similar strong sense of style and fun. I figured it was just a matter of time until they put together one of those projects and saw it through to fruition. And now, finally, that’s happened. As I understand it, they’re in Berlin this week with a wet print of their film, finally showing it to people for the first time. Here’s a trailer they’ve put together:

Or you can check out a Flash streaming version or the QuickTime version if you’d like instead. I’ve seen a few cuts of this film now, and I’ve watched it come into focus. I've done this for other people I know... watch a rough cut of something not for review, but just to offer an opinion. The first time I saw it, Jeremy left me in an editing room alone with Gary Oldman, of all people, and the two of us sat with him afterwards and talked about how we each reacted to it. The finished version feels like a film that has been finely tuned, carefully tightened. All that's left now is for them to add the score that David Vanian of The Damned is writing right now. I'm reeeeeally curious to see what he comes up with. I was a huge fan of The Damned growing up, and when I met Vanian the other night and talked to him for a moment, it sounded like scoring is where his head is now. A film like this will all come down to mood, so Vanian can make a huge difference here. I know there’s a definition at the start of that trailer for “film noir,” but this is more a sub-genre... masochism noir. Pardoe actually plays the lead, a guy who has a knack for two things: causing pain to other people, and surviving whatever pain gets heaped on him. Those are pretty much the two skill sets he needs to make it through this particular film, too, a sleek and sad little story of a fucked-up crime family and the way the sins of one generation absolutely ravage a younger generation emotionally. Pardoe plays opposite some familiar faces like Patrick Bachau (CARNIVALE, PANIC ROOM), Roselyn Sanchez (RUSH HOUR 2), Pavel Lychnikoff (DEADWOOD, MIAMI VICE), Tony Amendola (STARGATE SG-1, THE LEGEND OF ZORRO), and even ‘80s icon Michael Pare. It’s sort of risky to use your unknown screenwriter as your lead on a small film like this, but Pardoe proves to be a pretty interesting choice. Long and rubbery, he’s a perfect punching bag, and he handles himself well in the fight scenes. There’s one in particular that you glimpse in the trailer opposite a guy named Dominiquie Vandenberg, a powerfully-built guy about half as tall as Pardoe, a professional martial artist who would no doubt destroy Pardoe in real life. So of course, in the film... he destroys Pardoe. I like that he doesn’t turn himself into the obvious superhero, but instead plays it the way I always love in films like this... the guy who is thisclose to dead, but still has to keep going anyway. I enjoy it when you get to the end of a film and the hero looks like he’s been hit by a whole fleet of buses, and Pardoe certainly marches into the end of this one just barely keeping his pieces together. Alter makes exceptional use of his time as a locations manager, taking full advantage of some of the most visually striking spots in LA, always finding really great spots to stage his action sequences as well as the intimate character beats. Alter’s version of LA plays a big part in the overall effect of the film, making it feel like a sort of overheated fever dream from someone who feel asleep with a Chandler book cracked open on their chest. It’s a solid feature directorial debut, and more than anything, that’s what this plays as... a debut. You can feel Pardoe and Alter really revving up here, jazzed to finally be making a film, giddy from all the cool things they get to do. For such a heartbroken little movie, there’s still a sense of black humor to it. This is one of those films that will definitely connect to a certain cult audience, and with a little TLC, it might even play wider than that. It’s just nice to see guys who have been working towards something like this not only make a film, but make something they obviously enjoy as a final product. I’m curious to see what happens with THE PERFECT SLEEP in Berlin, and to see what these two end up doing next.


Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 8, 2008, 3:24 a.m. CST

    cool

    by FlyinHawaiian

    i gues

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 3:25 a.m. CST

    good

    by FlyinHawaiian

    i stopped anyone from getting first. it's been my dream. good night.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 3:52 a.m. CST

    interesting....

    by Aloy

    but I've been taken by too may cool trailers that don't pan out. Playing the film noir bit at the beginning and the Third Man theme.... Homage or pandering to the genre? I'll go see it though. It has style.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 4:05 a.m. CST

    Never start your film trailer with a definition

    by BrowncoatJedi

    cli·ché [klee-shey, kli-] –noun 1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse ....such as beginning a trailer, essay, or other work with a dictionary definition.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 4:20 a.m. CST

    Why do I get the feeling

    by Sheeld

    Moriarty didn't really like this, but is too involved to be completely honest about it? This doesn't read like one of his usual reviews; there's no in-depth criticism going on (positive or negative), just some vaguely positive (or rather non-negative) comments that don't really amount to anything. I could be wrong, but that's what I got from this review. To me, judging by the trailer, it looks stylish, but amateurish.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 4:30 a.m. CST

    "lots of cool shots of guys in hats"

    by InspectorDoppler

    aka "everything I thought looked cool in film school." Agree with Sheeld about the trailer, but who knows. best of luck to them in Berlin, there's still nothing uncool about guys in hats.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 5:01 a.m. CST

    yawn. looks like an expensive film school project

    by Spoiler_Man

    my idea of a perfect sleep involves Bringingsexyback. Except he wouldnt be sleeping. He would be dead.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 5:41 a.m. CST

    That's the scream!

    by methosb

    About half way into the trailer. When people were talking about famous screams in the Wilhelm scream tribute article TB we were trying to figure out what that scream is called. Anyone know?

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 6:34 a.m. CST

    Sheeld...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... I never offered this up as a giant review. It's a preview piece. I like the film, or I wouldn't say I did, but I'm not going to oversell it to you, either. It's a solid tiny movie that I think noir freaks would like a lot. Is all of that okay with you?

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 6:47 a.m. CST

    I like it!

    by EvilGeek1

    I'm a sucker for noir so I'll swoon over the costumes before the charatcers even talk! Moriarty, do you think this'll get a European distribution?

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 6:52 a.m. CST

    Did this freeze up anyone else's browser?

    by tonagan

    Just wondering if I got some settings wrong or something.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 7:27 a.m. CST

    Fair enough

    by Sheeld

    There is indeed a difference between a preview piece and an in-depth review, I can dig that. Nothing wrong with getting the word out there. Just caught me in a cynical mood I guess.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 8:30 a.m. CST

    It doesn't look that noir to me.

    by mwhyntie

    Noir isnt just the costumes and lighting, it's the way that things are wrong, or not right, the world is not the way it should be. Thats why they end bleakly, and are unigue, in the way they are filmed, how the story plays out, and how the characters are so dark and untrustworthy. This looks like they've gone more for the style over the substance, but then its just a trailer so who knows, it could be both style and substance and be great.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Ah yes, the "

    by Osmosis Jones

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Ah yes, the "EEEEYYYYAAAAGGGGHHHHH" scream

    by Osmosis Jones

    I dunno if it has an official name like the Wilhelm, but I always laugh when I hear it (John Woo used it in Broken Arrow and Face/Off). There's also this stock FEMALE scream I hear a lot. Oh, and Roselyn Sanchez = HAWT

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 10:44 a.m. CST

    hey mori...

    by blackthought

    thanks or bringing this flick to my attention...i very much liked what i saw and hopefully i'll be able to see it soon.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 11 a.m. CST

    SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VENGEANCE OF DRACULA

    by Farley Flavors

    Is this a book? If so, why can't I find it on Amazon? Does anyone know where I can get a copy?

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 1:50 p.m. CST

    David Lynch Took a Shit in Mori's Bathroom!!!

    by Internet Thug

    Holy fuck dude you ARE an insider

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 2 p.m. CST

    Farley Flavors have you heard of a new invention called the inte

    by Internet Thug

    Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula created by Timeshredder (thing) by Timeshredder (5 hr) (print) ? 2 C!s I like it! Sat Mar 27 2004 at 16:38:42 Sherlock Holmes, one of the most famous fictional characters in history, has been adapted to stage and screen, found his way into comic books, and been the subject of numerous post-Doyle pastiches. Nicholas Meyer penned the most celebrated of these works, The Seven Percent Solution (in which Holmes teams up with Sigmund Freud, solves a mystery, and is cured of his cocaine habit), The Canary Trainer, and The West End Horror, in which Holmes and Dr. Watson meet nearly every significant theatrical figure of their day, including Bram Stoker. In 1978, another writer, Loren D. Estleman, paired Holmes with Stoker's most famous creation, Count Dracula, in Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula or The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count. This book differs significantly from the still-unmade screenplay, Sherlock Holmes and the Vengeance of Dracula. While that story has Dracula returning from his supposed death and battling Van Helsing and Holmes, this novel assumes that Holmes assisted in the original story, but his contributions were excluded from Stoker's account. It's a clever premise, but the book, despite excellent research and a lively pace, never lives up to it. The book begins with an introduction in which Estleman presents himself as an editor (he does or did, in fact, edit a small newspaper in Michigan) who found the manuscript among some old papers belonging to a relative of Holmes who died in London, Ontario. After some speculation as to why Watson never published this particular adventure, the story unfolds, beginning with the 1890 arrival of the Demeter, the death-ship which brought Dracula to England. A reporter, Thomas Parker engages Holmes and Watson to help investigate the mystery of the ship, which arrived with the dead captain lashed to the wheel and no other soul aboard. From that point on, Holmes and Watson become entangled in the events of Dracula, though, save for the Sanguinary Count himself, Stoker's characters make only brief appearances. Estleman clearly knows his source material, and he writes in a plausible imitation of Doyle's style. The characters often play as parodies of the original, however, and Estleman feels the need to reference as many Sherlock Holmes stories as he can, whether doing so adds to the plot or not. And while I'm impressed that he could write a story which keeps intact the events of Dracula while inserting Holmes and Watson Gump-like into the mix, his respect for his sources actually becomes a problem. One really needs to know Stoker's novel to appreciate the events, but consequently one also knows the outcome. None of the characters are ever in any real danger, because Estleman will not contradict his sources. His fidelity to canon also excludes Holmes and Watson from the killing of Dracula, so that the crucial moment of his story plays like an anticlimax. The supremely rational Holmes also proves remarkably quick to accept the reality of vampires on the basis of very little evidence. The conflict of a man devoted absolutely to the scientific world-view accepting the supernatural might have proved interesting. We see no such conflict in Holmes, and Watson merely pronounces Van Helsing's story "ineffable twaddle!" and then settles into accepting the undead on Holmes's say-so. The book reads very quickly, and despite a minimum of real suspense, managed to keep me moderately interested. I suppose it was inevitable that the late-Victorian pop-culture's great rational hero and notorious supernatural villain should meet; I only wish the results had proved more sastisfying. Sherlock Holmes and the Vengeance of Dracula The "It" Screenplay of the year 2000 that very likely may never see the light of day as a feature film. The story goes like this: In the Fall of 1999, Columbia Pictures bought this screenplay from first time screenwriter Michael Valle for $700,000 (Valle would get an additional $300,000 if the film was made, rounding him out at a cool million for his first industry paycheck). As if the business end wasn't interesting enough to turn Hollywood heads, the film's flashy title made some very high concept commitments to its audience. It was a proposed original sequel to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, featuring both their most famous and fascinating characters. If it read as entertaining as it sounded, it could jumpstart a Sherlock Holmes film franchise, which in American cinema hadn't peaked in decades. Everybody wanted to know if it lived up to its blockbuster potential. The storyline was as follows: Dracula returns to England, alive (or undead) and well, to seek revenge on Abraham Van Helsing and the people who tried to destroy him in Transylvania (as chronicled in Bram Stoker's Dracula). When one of Van Helsing's associates dies of an apparent but unlikely suicide, the highly scientific Master Detective Sherlock Holmes (who is not prone to believing in supernatural flights of fancy) is hired to unravel the mystery. The script was everything one could hope for, and by all accounts going to be one hell of a fun movie. It had impressive action, wonderful humor, and was fantastically faithful to the original works. The project began developments at Chris Columbus' 1492 Productions with Columbus intending to direct it himself. A veteran director of blockbusters such as "Home Alone" and writer of 1985's "Young Sherlock Holmes" film, Columbus' involvement seemed to solidify the film's future. However, there was another British literary hero who would soon set Sherlock Holmes on the shelf: Harry Potter. Chris Columbus became committed to directing the film version of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", leaving "Sherlock Holmes and the Vengeance of Dracula" without a director, but still with a production company behind it, led by Columbus. Columbus would go back and forth on whether or not he wanted to relinquish his director's chair to someone else or wait until after his Harry Potter commitments ended to film Sherlock Holmes. One thing was certain, however. Despite overwhelming fan approval from those who had found the screenplay on the internet, Columbus wanted a new draft of the script. Though he planned to re-write it himself, he had no free time from Harry Potter, and hired softcore horror filmmaker Rand Ravich for the job. It is unknown as to whether or not Ravich's draft has been finished. In late March of 2001, Michael Valle passed away from septic shock stemming from an infection caused by pancreatic cancer. Chris Columbus has stepped down after directing the first two installments in the Harry Potter series for film, and has not announced a next project. To date, there have been no movements to try and revive interest in "Sherlock Holmes and the Vengeance of Dracula".

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 4:19 p.m. CST

    Dave Vanian huh?

    by IndustryKiller!

    That's pretty sweet. Saw The Damned about a year back at the House of Blues in Anaheim. Good show. Glad to see some of these punk legends branching out. The film itself looked cool, and I don't want to piss on something that deserves a fighting chance, but I'm not sure about the lead guy. An actor might have been a better choice from the look of the trailer.

  • Feb. 8, 2008, 5:14 p.m. CST

    isn't that

    by mightythor

    the 3rd Man theme?

  • March 17, 2008, 11:02 p.m. CST

    Daniela Amavia

    by Miss Moen

    According to IMDB Daniela Amavia (Children of Dune) plays a small part in the film. Anybody know what happened to her? After COD she just vanished...