Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eric LaRocca's Top 10 Horror Films - Part 2

Read Part 1 for Films 10-6.

As I mentioned in Part 1, I am by no means suggesting that the following cinematic works are the most flawless representations of the genre and deserve to trump all other horror films. These films merely resonated with me on a personal level and are still greatly influential on my path as a young writer and enthusiast of the art form. These are films to which I look for inspiration. My hope is that you will read the list, check out some of the films, and develop and share your own opinions.

And here's my final 5!

5.) Hellraiser (1987)
Written & Directed by Clive Barker - Starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence

When Clive Barker crash landed on the literary landscape in the early 1980’s with the release of his collection of original short stories entitled The Books of Blood, horror icon Stephen King predicted Barker to be “the future of horror.” While of course Barker’s stardom unfortunately never matched the level of King’s, his work is incomparable and in many ways outshines much of King’s work with a poetry in his prose and an astoundingly unique ingenuity in the presentation of his terrifying material. Prior to releasing The Books of Blood, Barker had been directing low-budget independent films and touring England with his fringe theatrical troupe, The Dog Company. In fact, many of the plays they presented that Barker had penned predicted many of the themes Barker would later explore in his successful commercial feature films. For instance, Barker’s homage to the Grand Guignol theatre, Frankenstein in Love, predicts Hellraiser with grisly depictions of torture, most importantly with a scene in which a central character is flayed alive in front of the audience. Regardless, it was Barker’s directorial debut with Hellraiser that solidified his name as a bona fide Master of Horror.

Hellraiser was adapted by Barker from his novella, “The Hellbound Heart.” The plot follows a seeker of infinite pleasure who solves a mysterious puzzle box that opens up a sadomasochist world of Hell administrated entirely by an infantry of demonic sadists, known as the Cenobites. After his corpse is reanimated from the Cenobites' dimension devoted to pain by receiving a single drop of blood, he forces his married ex-lover to bring him human sacrifices in order to fully regenerate his strength.

While the plot of Hellraiser is refreshingly unique in its own merit, it is Barker's competent direction and brilliant cinematography that turn the piece from a run-of-the-mill demon horror picture (a tired subgenre sodomized by uninspired horror directors by the 1980's) to a matchless work of art. The images with which Barker assaults his audience are both profoundly beautiful and yet unquestionably unique with their ingenuity and horror. Much like his literary work, Barker contradicts astounding beauty with astonishing disgust. Not only are the visuals a treat for the eyes with their artistry, but the characters are fascinating and operate realistically in an otherwise fantastical world. His characters are wealthy with real human needs and wants that effectively propel the development of the story.

"We'll tear your soul apart."
Hellraiser is truly unmatchable in its creativity and flawless delivery of fantastical monstrosities. While Barker’s later films excelled too in their individuality and inventiveness, Hellraiser is by far Barker’s crowning achievement and a venerated yard stick by which all other directorial debuts in the horror genre should be measured.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Eric LaRocca's Top 10 Horror Films - Part 1

[Editor's Note: Eric LaRocca is a playwright and writer, whose short play Parasite was one of the 2014 Best of Fresh Blood festival. His fiction has been published in The Horror Zine, Dark Moon Digest, Sanitarium, and several anthologies. This is his first post for La Petite Blog.]

At a very young age I respected and admired the art form of the horror genre. Perhaps I responded so intimately to horror considering the fact that the genre is widely criticized and rebuked by most mainstream audiences and at a very young age I too felt very disenfranchised and unequal to my peers. Perhaps I responded to the genre because horror is an art form that has struggled desperately to be taken seriously and I too felt very ineffectual and disrespected in my youth. Regardless, since childhood I have done all I can to study the genre and educate myself by watching and reading the masterworks and miscarriages of this widely lesser appreciated genre.

This list is certainly not conventional. Perhaps you’re entirely unfamiliar with some of these films. Some of you might even be saying, “Where’s Rosemary’s Baby? Where’s The Exorcist? What about Psycho?” I am by no means suggesting that the following list of cinematic works are the most flawless representations of the genre and deserve to trump all other lists of horror films. These films merely resonated with me on a personal level and are still greatly influential on my path as a young writer and enthusiast of the art form. These are films to which I look for inspiration. My hope is that you will read the list, check out some of the films, and develop and share your own opinions.

10. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Directed by Adrian Lyne - Written by Bruce Joel Rubin - Starring Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Aiello

Coming in at number 10 on my list is what I consider to be the greatest psychological horror film of all time – Adrian Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder. Lyne’s surreal and frightening exploration into the depths of a troubled human mind concentrates on a veteran of the Vietnam War, Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins), who is mourning the loss of his child while relentlessly being tormented by unusual flashbacks and nightmarishly grotesque hallucinations. Struggling to preserve his sanity, he struggles to decipher the truth and reality of his past and present while contending with his dreams and concept of death.

While the film excels with regard to cinematography and stellar performances by the cast, the film is particularly exceptional at disorientating the viewer so that we, the audience, experience and respond to the very same confusion Jacob experiences with every nightmarish vision. Many who have viewed the film already might agree that the film is the cinematic equivalent of a “bad trip.”

Opinions are certain to be divided when it comes to reflecting upon and analyzing this film. Some consider it a work of genius and true testament to the sub-genre of psychological horror while others dismiss it as disappointing and absurd. Regardless, I consider the film a visceral and somber excursion into the realm of psychological horror with profoundly engaging characters. The film’s intelligence is principally exemplified in its aptitude to effectively shift between moments of astounding eeriness and overwhelming despair.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Current Volunteer Opportunities

Want to get more involved at LPM? Right now, we need volunteers to: 
  • Scout locations for upcoming events, shows, and parties. 
  • Help us write and shoot a series of short videos encouraging people to donate and help fund live horror. 
  • Sell program ads to local businesses, or arrange for trades - we'll give them a program ad in exchange for free rehearsal space, program printing, etc. 
  • Design merchandise for our SpreadShirt store, and create stickers and other swag we can sell or give to donors. 
  • Create flyers and postcards for upcoming events. 
  • Solicit donations that can be used as donor incentives and gifts from horror-themed businesses and service providers (i.e. "Donate $25 to La Petite Morgue and receive a Zombie Mafia CD"). 
  • Design a new template/layout for our website/blog,tumblr, etc. 
  • Blog about horror - most importantly, live horror - and help us build our blog's readership. 
  • Preview and review upcoming horror events in local and online media. 
  • Represent La Petite Morgue at horror conventions and other events. 
If any of this appeals to you, please write to: - send a short note telling us about your relevant skills and what kind of project you would like to take on.

Most of these projects can be done from the comfort of your own home or office, and they don't take a big time commitment. If you are a student, we are willing to fill out the necessary paperwork so you can earn school credit. We are also willing to write you a glowing letter of recommendation if that would be useful. (If that wouldn't be useful, we will buy you a pizza and some beer, which we're pretty sure is useful to everyone.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Horror is HARD...

There are universal challenges faced by those who produce live entertainment, especially those who do so in New York City. The rising cost of performance space. The financial commitment involved in facilitating a rehearsal process. Audiences with ever-shrinking disposable income and a myriad of alternate entertainment options. The psychological exhaustion of encouraging communication and mediating disputes in an art form defined by the necessity of collaboration.

Indie and amateur producers face yet more challenges - first and foremost, the question of how to keep actors, directors, and technicians motivated when no one is being paid for their time and talent. How to find, borrow, make, or steal that which the company needs, but which the company cannot afford to buy. How to walk the line between imitating professional theatre and presenting yourself as the cheap and fun alternative to same.

The past two years have given me plenty of time to reflect on the challenges of producing, but I found myself motivated to share with you some observations about the challenges that are unique to the production of live horror in NYC. Here are some of the reasons I've noticed why being Executive Producer at La Petite Morgue is the hardest job I've ever loved:

The Special Effects...

Sure, lots of shows use special effects, but I would argue that special effects are uniquely crucial in the horror genre. Hitchcock said, "There is no horror in the bang - only in the anticipation of it." Creating suspense depends on the writing, directing, and acting, and if those elements aren't top-notch, all the fake blood and squibs money can buy won't make a play scary. But, I would argue that what Aristotle referred to as spectacle is more important in this genre than any other. The dramatic climax of a play needs to be satisfying for the audience. If the dramatic climax of a play is a violent murder, then the audience is likely going to want to see that murder - usually with as much detail and realism as possible. The Greeks may have been fans of off-stage violence and gore, but most modern audiences feel they need to see it to believe it. 

Universally acknowledged masterpiece? Yes. But some kid in the 4th row
is rolling his eyes because he thinks that blood looks like Kool-Aid.
Pretend you're directing a play. And that play ends with a brutal stabbing. You want your actor holding a knife that looks sharp enough to cut through human flesh. But if you ask an actor to hold a knife that is actually sharp enough to cut through human flesh, you run the risk of it actually doing that. Directors and producers have a responsibility to ensure that their actors are 100% safe - while simultaneously making the audience believe that those same actors are in terrible danger. Stage combat is complicated enough in the average play, but in horror, we add a variety of weapons, sometimes even guns, into the mix. For example, this year's festival shows featured the following weapons: a knife, a box cutter, a letter opener, and a phone (bashed over someone's head to knock him unconscious). You'd be surprised how much time I personally spent trying to add just enough foam padding to the bottom of the phone so that Blayne didn't accidentally slip one night and give Ryan a concussion, but not so much that the audience would find themselves wondering, "Why does the bottom of that phone look like a giant marshmallow?"

Everyone in the audience knows, intellectually, that one actor is not actually slitting the throat of the other actor with a box cutter, in a room full of witnesses. They know it. And yet... when the stars align, and the effect works perfectly, they still see that happen. Intellectually, they know that what they are watching is not real. But seeing something happen has an effect on you, separate from the intellectual reaction your brain is aware of. And, if everyone has done their job properly, then with a little bit of blind luck, someone sitting in the audience can have a real, visceral, emotional reaction to something that they simultaneously know is make-believe.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We Survived!

On behalf of LA PETITE MORGUE, I'd like to once again thank everyone who made this year's Best of Fresh Blood Festival possible:

  • The Board
  • The festival directors, who went above and beyond to bring these pieces to life with no budget to speak of, and hardly any production support 
  • The Sanguine Society 
  • The festival actors who always behaved like professionals (despite not being paid) - especially Vito Trigo, my fight choreographer, and Amanda White, my unofficial PA 
  • Everyone who donated to the fundraising campaign, and all our other donors 
  • The super-supportive festival playwrights (3/4 of whom were at EVERY performance!) 
  • All the actors who have performed at all the Fresh Blood events 
  • Our wonderful volunteer PSM, Claire Fishman 
  • Our volunteer SM, Joe Brofcak 
  • Our wonderful makeup and special effects designer, Margaret Donahue
  • All the lovely playwrights who have submitted their bloody awesome horror plays in the past two years 
  • Steve Barrett, for the awesome photography, and the desk! 
And finally, thank you to everyone who supported the festival by buying a ticket! Without an audience to terrify, it's not theatre, it's just a bunch of weirdos playing make-believe - so thank you for playing with us! 

The BOFB 2014 Photo Album is on facebook. If you want to see more photos, or if you have photos to share, just leave a comment, or e-mail them to:

If you didn't get a copy of the program, you can download a PDF program - and if you didn't have a chance to buy a sweet LPM T-shirt, you'll have another chance at our next event. Just give us a month or two to recover first. This live horror thing is exhausting.

With Undying Love From One of Your Semi-Fearless Leaders,
Kellie Powell

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Meet Christopher Krovatin: Fighting the Good Fight Against Boredom

Tiperary Explores Horror Movie Tropes in an Original Context 

In just fifteen pages, Christopher Krovatin's play Tiperary touches on kink negotiation, suspension of disbelief, the fetishization of virginity, and sexualized violence against women in the horror genre. Artistic Director Chelsea Holland chose this play to direct for the Best of Fresh Blood festival, and the first performance is Thursday, July 17 at 7:00pm.

The play centers on Nick and Diana, a married couple, who are attempting to navigate the intersection of sex and violence as they role-play a slasher-movie fantasy scenario. And, just as some horror movies (or plays) can be inadvertently hilarious when things go wrong, Diana's sexual fantasy is continually interrupted by hilarious failures. It seems reality just can't compete with the idealized scene the couple is trying, at times desperately, to create. We interviewed playwright Christopher Krovatin to ask him about his inspiration for the play, his greatest fears, and the challenges of writing horror.

The scenario that Diana describes is fairly specific, but it also hints at some familiar horror movie genre tropes. Early slasher movies established the convention - now more of a cliché than a rule - that if someone has sex in a horror movie, they'll be dead by the credits. Only the virginal female (the "Final Girl") has any hope of escaping the killer. Diana's fantasy casts her as the virginal female, and her husband as a hungry-for-revenge murderer. The specific motive she gives the killer is actually rather similar to Mrs. Voorhees' motive in the original Friday the 13th. By exploring horror movie tropes and exploiting audience expectations, Christopher Krovatin has created a thoroughly original, thought-provoking, and frequently hysterical play.

See Tiperary by Christopher Krovatin for yourself - along with four other terrifying plays at The Best of Fresh Blood, July 17-19 at Stage Left Studio.

-- Claire Fishman

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Meet Devlin Giroux: Bucking the Trend

JESTER Explores the Ambiguity Between Reality and Imagination

My first introduction to Devlin Giroux's play Jester was in the audition room. Stephen Cedars, Jester's director, asked actors to perform an impromptu dance. He asked them to evoke fear indirectly - to be creepy and unsettling, rather than aggressive, towards the person they were tasked with "entertaining". That's where I came in. Stephen needed someone for the auditioners to scare, so as the reader, I sat across from each of them, while they attempted to terrify me with their portrayals of the Jester. And terrify they did! 

Later, when I read the full script, I further understood why the Jester is so eerie. Marie, the character whom the Jester haunts, may or may not actually be seeing the Jester. The ambiguity in Giroux's play between what is real and what is imagined adds to the overall uneasiness that the play provokes. This is especially evident in that Marie is being held in a mental health facility, and everyone there seems to believe she's hallucinating. 

Devlin Giroux lives in Michigan, so I couldn't interview him in person, but he was kind enough to answer some questions about his play, his fears, and the challenges of writing horror:

Distinguishing between reality and imagination is a concept that has often appeared in psychological horror films. One example that comes to mind is the 1968 classic, Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby. Throughout the film, Rosemary's paranoia grows as she fears that her child has been promised as a Satanic sacrifice. For viewers, a large part of what makes this film scary is that we don't know whether what Rosemary believes is the truth or a delusion. 

Uncertainty about reality continues to show up in more recent psychological horror films, touching on a wide array of topics. The Others (2001) features a woman who fears there are ghosts living in her house. In Flightplan (2005), a woman on an airplane is convinced her daughter was kidnapped, but everyone on the flight claims they never saw the child. Black Swan (2010) explores the gradual mental decline of a ballet dancer as she becomes increasingly paranoid and competitive.

Despite different portrayals of psychological horror, all of these films and Jester explore what happens when the truth isn't easily discernible. While zombies and vampires and ghosts are certainly scary in their own right, there's something particularly frightening about being unsure of what is real and what is not. This is especially scary when coupled with a disbelief on the part of others, like in Jester. Only Marie sees the Jester, and so she essentially has to confront her fear on her own, in the face of skepticism. In doing so, she also has to face herself, which might be the most frightening thing of all. 

--Claire Fishman

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Faces of Fear: Meet the Cast

The faces in this photograph might SEEM like the faces of two relatively typical, moderately attractive, perfectly happy young performers. But don't let that fool you! These are only two of the doomed souls who have wandered into a labyrinth of terror from which there is no escape.

They thought they were auditioning for another evening of new one-act plays by another Off-Off-Broadway production company - but what they found themselves involved in was much, much worse!

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you to the latest of La Petite Morgue's helpless victims: The Cast of The Best of Fresh Blood!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Meet Eric LaRocca: The Playwright Prodigy

Some of you may already know that when we choose the plays we want to read at Fresh Blood, we contact the playwrights to give them the good news, and invite them to the reading. Many of our submitting playwrights live in other states, and sometimes even other countries, so I've grown accustomed to having playwrights decline because of distance. But when I contacted Eric LaRocca, to tell him that we wanted to read his submission Parasite at the November 2013 edition of Fresh Blood, I received a response I had never received before. He asked if he would be able to get into the Dressing Room Boutique & Bar - because he wasn't 21 yet. 

If you haven't read or seen Parasite, you won't understand how truly shocked I was by this response. First of all, it is a very mature play. Subtle, sophisticated, provocative, gritty... (filthy, actually...) and it was written by someone who couldn't legally drink alcohol?!? My mind was blown. Second, it seemed unfair somehow that someone so young could write something so good. Personally, I started writing plays when I was sixteen. But my plays... - how should I put this? - they sucked. I think most writers would freely admit to being at least a little embarrassed by our early work. But Parasite had none of the trademarks of an "early" play. I had to conclude that: 1.) Eric must have gotten a very early start as a writer. Obviously much earlier than me. And 2.) that La Petite Morgue was very fortunate that such an insightful, intellectual, and acerbic young writer had decided to write horror for the stage. 

Subsequently, we chose Parasite as one of the plays we would fully produce for the Best of Fresh Blood festival. Eric took the time to answer some questions about his play, fear, horror, and the phenomenon of decay. 

"Humans can learn a lot from parasites. Their size doesn’t work against them the way you might think it would. It actually inspires a creativity and a perseverance that’s unparalleled in any other species. They’re a lot like humans in their nature. More than you’d imagine. You see, the propagation of the species is imperative to the growth of the genus. But, they have to be very precise with where they deposit their eggs."
-- Anna in Parasite
Parasite is a play with two characters: Anna (played by Amanda White), a deeply troubled doctoral candidate who mutilates herself after becoming convinced that her infected tattoo is the key to winning back her lover, Lucie (played by Lillian Ancheta). The play touches on several absolutely horrifying phenomena, from the everyday (exploitative relationships), to the psychological (delusional parasitosis), to the inexplicable (and the incredibly gross). If you want to get a taste of how horrifying this play will be to watch, I've been compiling a collection of photographs of infected flesh, self-inflicted wounds, DIY tattoo removal, and other really gross things that you probably shouldn't look at if you are at all squeamish, or ever want to enjoy food again. The examples are extreme, but the everyday horrors of decay (and exploitation) are an omnipresent force - as Eric so vividly reminds us. 

PARASITE by Eric LaRocca

Check back soon for more interviews with the Best of Fresh Blood playwrights, and don't miss The Best of Fresh Blood festival, July 17-19 at Stage Left Studio. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Auditions for The Best of Fresh Blood

Are you an actor who is interested in performing in the Best of Fresh Blood Festival, this July 17-19? Good news! The directors will be holding auditions by appointment on Sunday afternoon, June 8. If you are interested in booking an audition slot, you'll write to: and send us:

  • Your head-shot/photo
  • Your acting/theatre resume
  • A short message, detailing your availability on Sunday, June 8 in the afternoon (approx. 1pm - 5pm)
We'll respond with an audition time and location. At the audition, you'll perform a short (90-120 second) monologue. You may also be asked to read sides, but we will do our best to send those to you ahead of time. 

If you are not available on June 8, you can still be considered for casting. You should still send us your photo and resume, and if possible, send us a short video of yourself performing a monologue - ideally a horror-related one, where you show us how scared or scary you can be!

The Plays & Characters:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Best of Fresh Blood 2014

LA PETITE MORGUE is proud to announce our selections for The Best of Fresh Blood 2014! We have received over 270 submissions, and since the Fresh Blood reading series began in August 2012, we have shared over FIFTY short horror plays with our audience. Every playwright who has had their work read at Fresh Blood should be proud of their work. Narrowing down our choices was very difficult, but we are pleased to be producing the following works of horror this July:

The next step is to recruit some fearless directors - so, if you know any masochists with God complexes, please, send them our way - and once we have built our team, we will be announce our audition dates!

In the meantime, don't forget to join us on Wednesday, May 7 - in your best blood-splattered formal wear! - for A Night to Dismember: The Fresh Blood PROM, at 8pm at The Dressing Room in lower Manhattan.

Seeking Fearless Directors

We have the dates! We have the times! We have the shows! And now we need the directors to bring The Best of Fresh Blood to life! If you are interested in directing, you can send your resume to: If you're not sold on the idea, here's some more information:
What We're Offering:
  • Your choice of scripts. We will let you read the selected scripts and choose the one you like best. If you don't like any of the scripts, no hard feelings! We'll still keep your resume on file for next time. You won't get stuck directing a script you don't like. That's for people who are getting a paycheck.
  • Fancy lighting and a real sound system. The space (Stage Left Studio) has very fancy lighting, plus a projector and a sound system. No need to bring your own heat lamps or run the sound cues off your iPod - LPM is moving up in the world!
  • Air conditioned performance space. If you've ever done a show in July that didn't offer AC, you realize how important this is.
  • An assistant. Not only do you get to boss around your actors (that is why Kellie directs plays), you also get to boss around (within reason) a wannabe future director - someone with limited directing experience who wants to study at your feet, learn from you, and more importantly, be on book when actors call "Line?"
  • Help finding props and costumes. We can't promise to reimburse you for all of your expenses, but we can promise to help you buy, beg, borrow, and/or steal what you need from our vast network of fans and horror enthusiasts.
  • Marketing, publicity, and programs. Yes, we want you to invite your family and friends. When it comes to indie theatre, word of mouth is the most important form of marketing. But the burdens of writing the press release, printing the programs, running the box office, sucking up to critics, and otherwise attempting to drum up an audience is on the company, not on you.
  • A special effects makeup designer/artist. To handle any special effects makeup your show may need! (Not to do your laundry. Pervert.)
  • All the Fake Blood you can drink. It's sticky, but delicious!
  • We can help you find your cast, but you are under no obligation to use "our" actors. If you have friends you want to work with, you can skip the auditions and recruit them.
  • You determine your own rehearsal schedule, with the exception of a communal first read-through (TBA), tech rehearsal/dress rehearsal (July 16), and performances (July 17-19).
  • You get to see the other shows for free. Depending on how fundraising goes, you might even be able to bring a guest.
  • Our undying gratitude.*
But wait, there's more!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Upcoming Fresh Blood Themes!

Hey, scary playwrights!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that we are currently seeking horror & suspense plays for the following themes:

"Revenge Served Cold"
Submissions due by: March 24, 2014
Reading: April 2, 2014

"Prom Night"
Submissions due by: April 16, 2014
Reading: May 7, 2014

Make sure to review our general submission guidelines, then send your play to:


Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Seven Years" by Margaret Donahue

Did you miss Fresh Blood last night? Check out this video of the La Petite Morgue crew reading Seven Years by Margaret Donahue!
 And don't forget to join us April 2 for the next edition of Fresh Blood!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Seeking New Hunting Grounds, and other plans in the works

Planning has begun for the next edition of The Best of Fresh Blood. If you weren't around last April, The Best of Fresh Blood is where Chelsea and I choose the best plays from this year's reading series and decide which ones to fully stage, with sets, lights, costumes, props, special effects - the works!

We've launched a fundraising campaign to help with our expenses, but there are lots of other things we need your help with. First and foremost, we're looking for the right venue. It has to be on the cheap side, but with enough room backstage to hold our fabulous actors, ideally without giving them claustrophobia. The ideal venue would be centrally located in NYC, with a dark and creepy atmosphere, a lobby or waiting area for patrons (as opposed to making people wait in stairways). If you work at a venue - or you just happen to own an abandoned butcher shop in Midtown - we want to hear from you!

Also, if you're interested in volunteering your time and energy to direct or stage manage a play, or help with a technical or design element, feel free to let us know. Actors, standby for audition announcements. And playwrights, it's not too late to send your scripts, we still have a Fresh Blood or two left this year!