Wednesday, September 8, 2010
FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
ABOVE: Jim O’Rear outside the Warner Brothers Building in Burbank, CA.
I recently had the pleasure of working on a new Edgar Alan Poe audio project titled THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. I’ve always loved the writings of Poe and am a huge fan of all the movie adaptations of his works (especially the Roger Corman / Vincent Price versions), so I was thrilled to hear I’d been selected to go to Los Angeles to play the role of Roderick Usher, alongside Kevin Sorbo (HERCULES, ANDROMEDA), John Billingsley (STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE, TRUE BLOOD), and Bonita Friedericy (CHUCK).
ABOVE: Tooling along through Hollywood.
Normally, I don’t enjoy flying great distances, but nothing about this trip was bad. I boarded the plane in Nashville, TN, and was pleased to see that I would be flying alongside the legendary Kris Kristofferson! Known for his years of chart-busting music hits and appearances on the silver screen in such films as BLADE, A STAR IS BORN, BIG TOP PEE WEE, CONVOY, and more, Kris was as cool of a guy as you’d ever want to meet.
ABOVE: There’s a plane inside my hotel!!
Getting to Los Angeles/Burbank, Kevin Herren of Macabre Mansion (www.MacabreMansion.com), producer/director of the USHER project, took me to my hotel, conveniently located only minutes from the airport and the studio! The hotel was “airport-themed” and had all kinds of cool props inside, including an airplane that hung inside the lobby.
ABOVE: Jim O’Rear relaxes by the fountain at his temporary Hollywood home.
After checking in, it was time to find some grub. Kevin and I ventured out and grabbed a bite to eat at a local steakhouse. While there, I received a call from actor Daniel Roebuck (LOST, MATLOCK, THE FUGITIVE, HALLOWEEN) who invited us over to his house. Not many people know that Daniel is an avid collector of monster and Halloween memorabilia… so avid, in fact, that he has an entire house behind his house set up as a museum. Needless to say, we jumped at the opportunity to check out his private collection, which includes genre-related costumes, props, figures, and toys from the 1950’s to present.
ABOVE: Daniel Roebuck (LOST, MATLOCK, THE FUGITIVE) and Jim O’Rear inside Dan’s personal monster museum.
ABOVE: Daniel Roebuck at home inside his museum office.
What a special treat it was to see all of Daniel’s mint collectibles and spend time in this very unique environment. I could have stayed there for days soaking in all of the toys that surrounded me. A BIG thank you to Danny for the invite!
ABOVE: The entrance gate to Warner Brothers Studio.
It was time to cross Burbank and head to the studio to work on THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. Of course, there were plenty of things to see during my time in LA. One of those things was the ever-so-famous Hollywood branch of the church of Scientology. Does anyone see Tom Cruise or John Travolta?
ABOVE: The Hollywood branch of the church of Scientology.
I think I have to refer to my friend Daniel Taylor (RETURN OF THE SWAMP THING, ROAD TRIP) for an explanation of the following. It looks like some kind of clock…but not quite sure… Whatever it is, I like it!
ABOVE: Would Daniel Taylor like to give his “two-cents” on this one?
Of course I had to get a quick snap of the actual Hollywood Tower Hotel. Many are only familiar with this from Disney’s TOWER OF TERROR ride and assume it is not an actual location. Well, for those who haven’t seen it, here is the actual Hollywood Tower Hotel…
ABOVE: The famous Hollywood Tower Hotel.
Okay, enough screwing around. This blurb is supposed to be about the awesome audio production of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER project, coming out on CD next month from Macabre Mansion (www.MacabreMansion.com) just in time for Halloween! This project was a blast to work on. As I’ve already mentioned, Poe has always been one of my favorite authors and this was my first chance to immerse myself and become one of his characters.
ABOVE: Jim O’Rear records dialogue as “Roderick Usher” for THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.
For those unfamiliar with the work, THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in September 1839 in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. It is considered to be Poe's most famous work of prose and is the best example of Poe's "totality," where every element and detail is related and relevant. This highly unsettling macabre work is also considered, by many, to be THE masterpiece of American Gothic literature.
ABOVE: Kevin Sorbo (HERCULES, ANDROMEDA) records dialogue for THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.
In USHER, an unnamed protagonist (the Narrator – Kevin Sorbo) is summoned to the remote mansion of his boyhood friend, Roderick Usher (Jim O’Rear). Filled with a sense of dread by the sight of the house itself, the Narrator reunites with his old companion, who is suffering from a strange mental illness and whose sister Madeline (Bonita Friedericy) is near death due to a mysterious disease. The Narrator provides company to Usher while he spends all his days inside, avoiding the sunlight and obsessing over the sentence of the non-living. When Madeline dies, Usher decides to bury her temporarily in one of his house's large vaults. A few days later, however, she emerges from her provisional tomb…escalating the madness that surrounds Roderick and his friend to a deathly conclusion.
ABOVE: Bonita Friedericy (CHUCK) records dialogue as “Madeline” for THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.
Featuring supernatural theatrics, which critics have interpreted a number of ways, the story exhibits Poe's concept of "art for art's sake," the idea that a story should be devoid of social, political, or moral teaching. In place of a moral, Poe creates a mood—terror, in this case— through his use of language.
ABOVE: John Billingsley (STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE, TRUE BLOOD) records dialogue as “The Doctor” for THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.
It all equates to a cool story, cool actors, and a very cool audio-drama CD to add to your collection. On top of that, proceeds from CD sales go to benefit the charity A WORLD FIT FOR KIDS. There’s also about 1 week left to pre-order autographed CDs and items from this production through Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com/projects/macabremansion/macabre-mansion-presents-the-fall-of-the-house-of) or by clicking the link on Macabre Mansion’s website.
ABOVE: Mixing audio inside the control booth.
ABOVE: Kevin Herren (MACABRE MANSION) is harassed by Jim O’Rear during a recording break.
Keep an eye open for this CD next month and enjoy it during the Halloween season! Special thanks goes out to the fine folks at Macabre Mansion for involving me in this project. I’m looking forward to the next one!
ABOVE: The cast of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (Jim O’Rear, John Billingsley, Bonita Friedericy, and Kevin Sorbo).
Thanks for reading,