When the invitation arrived to attend Robert Rodriguez’s premiere screening of his latest short Sock ‘Em Dead, to say that I jumped at the opportunity would be an understatement—I still need to bring in some painters to patch the hole in my ceiling. I’ve been a fan of Rodriguez’s since discovering him with his film Desperado. I appreciate his rebellious approach to getting his projects made on his terms and turning out great entertainment come hell or high water.
The night finally arrived and I made my way to a Hollywood backstreet above the Walk of Fame to find an intimate crowd gathering off an alley adjacent a hidden parking lot. They were dressed with a rugged glamour and I knew I must’ve found the right spot.
Or maybe not?
The large imposing bouncer at the No Vacancy didn’t have my name on the guest list but it wasn’t any big deal because Andrea from the El Rey Network emerged like a ninja from an arrangement of shrubbery to update the list and get me in the door. Little did I realize at the time that this was only the beginning of my adventures for the evening. Once inside, I went up a series of staircases into a hallway with locked “hotel room” doors. Had I taken a wrong turn? No one was around to guide me and eventually, at the end of the hall, was a door that I found to be unlocked. Inside the room was a “call girl” who asked me to wait for a moment, at which point there was a fevered exchanging of interesting glances before she cleared me to enter—was that the password?—a precise choreography of glares and come-hither stares? She activated a panel that split the bed apart and revealed a staircase hidden in the walls. Excelsior! I descended down into the wonderful reception that the El Rey Network had put together for the evening.
The guests were made up of my kind of celebrities and entertainment professionals—many of which were past, present and future colleagues of Robert Rodriguez, as well as the man himself. At the bar, I ordered a mezcal and enjoyed mingling with the other guests. Rodriguez provided the details of how Happy Socks had approached him to make a promotional piece for their company. He liked the idea and agreed but wanted to do more with it, so he waited until production began again on the TV series From Dusk Till Dawn, when he could use the resources that were assembled for the show. He tapped Madison Davenport as the lead but there are a lot of other Rodriguez ensamble favorites that make cameos throughout—Wilmer Valderrama was a hoot and Danny Trejo was perfect.
It’s a quick fast paced short that provides a great behind-the-scenes set up and then gets straight to the action in true Rodriguezian fashion—and to quote the man himself, he shot the whole thing “mariachi style,” his shorthand reference to getting in, getting the shots, and getting it done fast and efficient. To likewise make the review of it fast and efficient, it’s a real kick in the pants and absolutely worth the ride! To say much more, I think would do a disservice to the excitement of the initial experience.
Chatting with Davenport after the film had screened was a real treat. I think most often, when actors—or anyone—knows they’re being put on the spot, there can be a bit of professional distance that kicks in. However, it was a “first name” sort of moment with Madison as genuine delight lit up her face. The audience reaction was energetically enthusiastic and when I asked her if it was a different experience from seeing it in a dark editing room, she was quick to correct me. “No, this is the first time I’ve gotten to see it finished! It’s so cool. I think people liked it.” I think she was right—a lot.
I got the chance to speak with Rodriguez some more too, with the hopes of getting details on some of his projects that have been simmering for a while such as, Barbarella, Madman and the rights he acquired for Heavy Metal. Unfortunately there are no new details he was willing to divulge at this time—however I took the opportunity to ask if he ever planned to do a feature-length adaptation of his original award winning short that kicked everything off for him as a young director, Bedhead. I was delighted to hear that he actually did have a feature-length script that he has ready to go the moment the timing is right! Meantime, I guess we’ll have to make due with his epic project underway with James Cameron, Alita: Battle Angel. Stoked!
A surprise highlight of the evening was getting to spend some time with actor Ted Raimi and his fiance, the lovely Suzanne Keilly, who is a writer working on Ash vs Evil Dead. Keilly’s tales of the writers’ room were a lot of fun—writers coming up with the craziest stuff they could think of and then following through to make sure the idea made it on camera. Initially, it sounded like Starz (producing and airing the show) may have been a bit hesitant but, after seeing the pilot, they understood what gold they had on their hands and were excited for whatever the writers could dish out! Sounds like a recipe for fans getting some sugar, baby. Of course, I had to ask Raimi and Keilly about whether we would be seeing him on the show. His response was cryptic but I think that we will have something to look forward to. I also couldn’t resist the opportunity to reminisce with him about Drag Me to Hell and (a personal favorite) Legend of the Seeker—his experience on that show sounded very enjoyable, working in New Zealand with Bridget Regan and Craig Horner, both of which he spoke highly of. I was happy to hear that Ted is a fan of Geekscape saying that he’s not just an actor he’s also a lover of genre entertainment himself and appreciates Geekscape’s personal touch approach to keeping geeky fans informed. I’ve heard stories of what a nice guy Ted Raimi is but I had no idea what a genuine pleasure it is have the opportunity to speak with him. There was a lot of agreement about this from the Geekscape staff so, Mr. Raimi, this is your official invitation to join us on the show whenever you have the opportunity. We’re all huge fans and would love to have you!
By the time I had the charmingly quirky layout of No Vacancy down, it was time to head out into the night again. Much as I wanted to stay, I guess they live up to their name and I had to settle for a goodnight wink from the “call girl” guarding the gates to the evening’s revelries.
The marvelously ambitious El Rey Network and innovative Happy Socks really put together a fantastic evening on par with the excellent presentation of the channel’s rebel broadcast. The team-up here with Happy Socks didn’t immediately make sense to me but after receiving a set of Rodriguez’s signature blood and vampire inspired socks from Happy Socks, the pairing made sense—a couple of mavericks from different walks of life joining forces in a way that no one else could come up with, let alone pull off. Sock ‘Em Dead is a wonderfully fun shot of adrenaline that premieres Tuesday, October 20th on HappySocks.com and I absolutely recommend you check it out for a good time!
From the press release:
Maverick filmmaker, Robert Rodriguez, is bringing his action-packed, fierce style to a partnership project with unique high quality sock and underwear company Happy Socks. Rodriguez has collaborated on a short film called SOCK’EM DEAD, featuring an A-list cast and crew with an authentic cinematic style, shot and edited entirely at Rodriguez’s Austin, Texas based full functioning production facility, Troublemaker Studios. SOCK’EM DEAD stars Madison Davenport and features some fun celebrity supporting roles such as long time collaborator Danny Trejo as well as From Dusk till Dawn star, Wilmer Valderrama.
The short film will premiere globally on October 20, 2015 on www.happysocks.com. To celebrate this collaboration, Happy Socks will release a series of three pairs of socks which Robert Rodriguez designed, available October 12th.