Saturday, April 19, 2014


When my kids lived at home we used to have a tradition that fell on every Friday, where we would get together and watch movies. It was our version of family night. Little secret, everyone in the Preston brood are big fans of the film genre. As the kids grew they discovered cooler things than sitting home with us and eventually my wife and I were left to watch alone. 
     Before that, back in 2002 we rented a video from the local Blockbuster and brought it home to watch. The movie was from a relative unknown, at least I'd never heard of him, although I would later discover that I had had recently watched another film by him that I was lukewarm on. That was film was called: POWDER. This movie was something a little darker and the trailer lent itself to that terrifying moment we all dread when out on the road. Picture, if you will, you are driving cross country in unknown territory and you see someone dump what you think is a body down a drain pipe. Then as you roll by in shock you see that dark figure staring directly at you. It is the stuff that invades our dreams and morphs into a full fledged nightmare. This ethereal specter of horror causes one's pulse to race, raises anxiety and claustrophobia begins to close in. We've all had this nightmare in one form or another, all felt that
Jeepers Creepers director Victor Salva 
helplessness when you just can't wake and the dark figure now knows who you are and there's nowhere to run.
     The film was called: JEEPERS  CREEPERS and to be very honest, I figured that the trailer was going to be the highlight. That is often the case with films such as this. We get the best part of the movie in the preview and then when we see the actual film it is a resounding disappointment. Nonetheless, I'm a sucker for a good trailer and I always hold out hope for real surprise and that is exactly what I got in Jeepers Creepers. Once in awhile a gem like this comes along and usually it is when you least expect it. I remember picking up and putting down the box for the original THE HITCHER, and then there was a film I passed over for almost six moths which reunited a number of cast members from the movie ALIENS. That film was NEAR DARK and it was a treat to watch.
     However, I digress, because I'm doing something that is very easy when discussing something I'm passionate about and this really isn't the intent of this post. What I really want to discuss is separating the art from the actual artist. You see, what I didn't know about the film Jeepers Creepers was that its obviously talented director had a criminal record. During the filming of his first feature film director Victor Salva molested the lead actor on the set while filming the act The lead actor was Nathan Forrest Winters and he was only 12 years old. Salva was 29 years old at the time, and after being charged he plead guilty to having one count of oral sex with a person under 14, three counts of procuring child pornography and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct. He was sentenced to three years, but only served 15 months before making parole. After he was paroled, Salva did odd jobs and found his way back to the screen with financing from powerhouse director/producer Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola discovered Salva and gave him the financing to make Clownhouse. When I did a bit of research on this blog I was surprised by Coppola's remarks regarding the molestation.
"Someone had launched a campaign against Victor, saying, 'How can you give this guy a movie to make?' " recalls Coppola… “So I helped Victor get the job… My attitude is, he has a talent, and that talent in itself is good. We don't have to embrace the person in believing that their art is a contribution to society."
     Personally, it changed my view on Salva completely. People make mistakes, but child molestation or crimes such as rape or murder? From my point of view Victor Salva could have robbed a bank, been a heroin addict, even embezzled money and I would be apt to give him a second chance, but the crime for which he was convicted was so heinous I just can't seem to get past that. Even if he claims to be rehabilitated I am left with the feeling that I am putting money into the pocket of a child molester if I support his art.
Director Roman Polanski was arrested for raping a 13 year old in 1977
     And of course Salva is not the only director to get himself into a mess when it comes to child molestation. In 1977 Roman Polanski molested a 13 year old girl and fled the United States to avoid prosecution. Polanski would continue to make a number of movies and received a lot of support from high profile actors and fellow directors. Whoopi Goldberg came out in defense of Polanski when discussing his arrest in Switzerland and whether he should be extradited and tried.
Whoopi Goldberg: "I know it wasn't rape-rape. It was something else but I don't believe it was rape-rape. He went to jail and and when they let him out he was like "You know what this guy's going to give me a hundred years in jail I'm not staying, so that's why he left."
     Polanski was eventually released after the Swiss government refused to extradite him back to the U.S. where is still facing charges. What is absolutely perplexing is the amount of celebrities who have signed a petition to have him pardoned for the crime so that he can return to the United States and  get on with his life. Their indifference to the victim in this case is mind boggling. How can someone blow off the molestation of a child? Coppola's assertion that Salva was being victimized or Goldberg's "rape-rape" comments are completely off base for a demographic that loves to get up on its high horse about a myriad of social issues.
Woody Allen, Mia Farrow  and far right Farrow's adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previna
     Woody Allen has been accused, but not charged, of molesting  his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. She contends that Allen molested her when she was a mere 7-years-old. While no charges have been laid, her accusations are compelling given that Allen married Soon-Yi Previna (19) who was then wife Mia Farrow's adopted daughter. Allen was 56 at the time. What ensued was very ugly custody battle and media frenzy. But Allen was neither shunned or scolded by his fellow celebrities and Farrow seemed to be painted as bad one.

Fifteen years later, Allen, 75, in an interview with Reuters said, "What was the scandal? I fell in love with this girl, married her. We have been married for almost 15 years now." He also added, "There was no scandal, but people refer to it all the time as a scandal and I kind of like that in way because when I go I would like to say I had one real juicy scandal in my life."
     In this latest allegation a parade of celebrities have come out in support of Allen. This is a stark contrast to celebrities who might be shunned for uttering a ethnic/racial slur [Mel Gibson] or a homophobic insult [Alec Baldwin]. The celebrity who steps over that line may find themselves permanently branded with a scarlet letter from their fellow artists. 
    Getting back to Victor Salva, I actually watched one of his latest films, Dark House, which I didn't realize was a Salva film until after I watched it. I should have saved my money. It sucked. But aside from the fact that he never quite rebounded after the success of Jeepers Creepers, I am left wondering if he should.
"I pled guilty to a terrible crime, and I've spent the rest of my life trying to make up for it. For almost 20 years, I've been involved with helping others, I've been in therapy, and I've made movies. But I paid my debt to society and apologized to the young man. And all I can hope is that people will give me a chance to redeem myself."
      Perhaps Salva has spent his life trying to make amends for that one mistake, but if he was a police officer, a catholic priest or a teacher, would he be given a second chance? Of course not, and given the scope of the crime he shouldn't. Perhaps this is the type of crime that some celebrities will never understand until they are victims themselves. I would not wish this on anyone, but certainly it would be nice if these high profile millionaires could put themselves in the shoes of the victim instead of using art to excuse the actions of the accused or convicted.

That's it for me.

 Check out other works by MJ Preston!

MJ Preston is the Author of the Horror Novel: THE EQUINOX  
His new novel ACADIA EVENT is forecast in 2014


'The Equinox' is a tour de force of brilliant writing, fast-paced action, and gritty characterization. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Something has happened that will change everything...

Well, I posted it in the Literati, but today I officially finished the first draft of my new book: Acadia Event. That is not to say that it will be available tomorrow, but I can say that this book is done in its raw form and what will now be required is the polish and grind of a line by line edit. After something like this you find yourself at a sort of cross road. Did I just invest a year and a half of my life in a work of art or a big steaming pile of... I think you get the jest. 
     I guess I'll find out when I go back and begin the grind of editing. This is all sort of anticlimactic now. I do have to give a big shout out to my pal, mentor, fellow author, dearest friend, Jim Steel aka R. James Steel. 
     Jim is probably one of the coolest people I have ever met. A historical author, he has published a number of books on Canada's involvement in the Great War with co-author James McWilliams. They include: GAS THE BATTLE FOR YPRES, THE SUICIDE BATTALLION, AMIENS: DAWN OF VICTORY; just to name a few. 
     He has also offered his wisdom and historical knowledge to the award winning Canadian author Joseph Boyden on his debut novel: THREE DAY ROAD. In fact Boyden wrote in the aknowledgments. "ALTHOUGH HE'S FAR TOO HUMBLE to admit it, R James [Jim] Steel ranks among our best World War 1 historians and authors.

     I could not agree more, but above and beyond the obvious knowledge and wisdom Jim is a true friend who has been a steadfast supporter in my quest as a writer. Jim first came to my aid after I told him that I was considering dusting of a half-finished 15 year-old manuscript called THE EQUINOX. He said to send it along and
My friend and mentor: Author and Artist R James Steel has been instrumental in help me find my muse.
he’d give me some feedback. Having read a few of Jim’s books I don’t mind telling you that I was more than a little intimidated at the prospect of showing him what I’d done so far. That first chapter I sent him, I must have went over it at least 100 times and still it was rife with issues in grammar and double words; eventually I sent it on.

Later that day and he sent back a message. “Where’s the next chapter” and “How come it took you so long?” 
     I confessed that I was nervous about his reaction, that the errors in my work would be met with scorn.

“Mark, just write it. Get it done, the spit and polish comes later.”

And so I did and he gave me a guiding hand all the way through the creative process of that first book. The Equinox went through a number of drafts, five or six as I recall and Jim took them without complaint until I offered up the last draft and he said, “Publish the damned thing.”
      I did just that.
      I asked Jim to come in on ACADIA EVENT once I started down this road again and Jim, being the cool guy he is, invited me to send over each chapter. I don’t mind telling you that I looked for that little footnote of encouragement after Jim read each chapter. This footnote was the encouragement I needed during those dark hours of self-loathing when depression seeps in and you become a poor misunderstood artist and... 
      You get the jest.
      This morning I sent out those last 25 or so pages that make up two chapters and an epilogue. Today my feelings harken back to that first chapter of Equinox I sent, that same feeling of apprehension.Will he hate it? Tell me to buy a rig and keep trucking?
      Fuck it! Nothing I can do now but put the thing away for awhile and move onto something else. In a month or so I'll pick it back up and go to work. 
     Thank you Jim, you are a friend in the truest sense of the word.  I'd say it's over, but a story never really ends; does it?

 Check out other works by MJ Preston!

MJ Preston is the Author of the Horror Novel: THE EQUINOX His new novel ACADIA EVENT is forecast in 2014


'The Equinox' is a tour de force of brilliant writing, fast-paced action, and gritty characterization.