The place: Freddie's Sports Bar & Grill in Mary Esther,
just west of Fort Walton Beach.
The occasion: this was the backstage area location selected
for the film shoot of "The Last Ghost Tour," a locally cast &
crewed NC-17 range original improvisational paranormal comedy feature, about a
motley crew of deranged vacationers who think they are taking a nighttime RV
bus tour of haunted houses, graveyards, and other local "haunts,"
hoping to eyewitness some real-live ghosts. What they don't know
is...it's their own 'last ghost tour.' Inspired by Emerald Coast RV
Tours, and shot on HD-video aboard the actual company RV itself, the vehicle
was parked behind the bar with the windows covered in black drapes to simulate
the cover of night, as cast & crew set up and recorded scenes 5-7 days
& nights a week, from Sept. 7th - 25th of that year. The rest of the
time, Freddie's Bar served as the backstage studio cantina, with hair/makeup
salon, a wardrobe tailor shop, and breaktime lounge tables for waiting cast
& crew. Produced by Terry J. Allen of AllenMedia USA/Time Sciences TV of
Destin, with videography by Steve Baker of (then) SB Video of Navarre, and cast
by Anne Marie Crouch of AMC Talent of Gulf Breeze & Niceville, the film
features up to 26 local volunteer improv actors, and Florida panhandle locales
like Jesse Rogers Cemetery near Hurlburt Field & Eglin Air Force Base, as
well as the night club sights & sounds of the Sons O' the Beaches band at
Destin Harbor Wharf. Leading the tour of 'unsuspecting departees' is
driver Dave Mapes (credits include The Truman Show, CSI, and Disney's Pirates
of the Caribbean: At World's End) friendly tour guide Heather Rone of
Destin, and Milton 'Q' Carrell of Panama City Beach as the Grimm Reaper,
lurking in the rear bedroom with his 'death tally' laptop computer.
The film was intended for a local theater release in
November 2010. However for undisclosed reasons, it was instead posted on
YouTube for direct-viewing in 2013, and promoted in a sort of "free
screening & trivia game" format as: "The Last Ghost Tour = the
Game." (Funny; doesn't look like a game to me; just a movie which runs
about 1 hour, followed by a 4-minute outtakes reel.) Two promo trailers and a
tie-in bonus feature live band performance video, are also posted on
YouTube. Not much word to date of the rest of the cast & crew's
current whereabouts or projects, except that camera director Steve Baker
has left Florida and (supposedly) moved his studio operations to Nashville,
So...after all this time, how's the film holding up?
Well...hey, it's still on YouTube, so I guess it still exists. No retail
DVD copies are for sale that I'm aware of to this date, but it still
does. So for a progress track record, that's at least saying
something. Good or bad? Hmm...you decide the strange results for
yourself. All I can say for sure is: that mad, mullet-haired
"Redneck Mumbler" with the Hank Jr. scruffy beard, beer belly,
shotgun rifle, duck hunter's camou ballcap, highwater boots and Corona
Beer muscle shirt? Yep, that's me. Not my fault; that's the part
they gave me and told me to improvise, so I just grabbed shotgun and ran with
it. Like I said, you decide the results.
For the 2013 preview trailers, click here:
For the 2013 feature 'game/movie' itself, click here:
And for the 2010 bonus video of the 'Sons O' the Beaches'
band (aka The Flytones) who played in the film, click here:
And that, dear friends, is...The Last Ghost Tour.
Yep. Just like a ghost, it's back to haunt you. Love it, or leave
it. Your choice.
That's all for this month. Spook you again later, this
KENNETH L. M
"Back to life, back to reality..." Yep; here we go again. Seems I've tackled this subject before (about 4 years ago in fact) but just like real history, it keeps on repeating itself.
First came CBS' "Big Brother," then MTV's "Real World" and "Jackass," CMT's "Party Down South, 1 & 2," and then MTV's "Jersey Shore" to name a few. Now comes "Floribama Shore," the latest "shore thing" according to the former all-music video channel-turned-trashy reality network, about a cast of 20-something young adults, spending the summer living together in one rental beach house on the Southern US Gulf Coast. Although based in Panama City Beach in Northwest Florida, scenes for Season 1 of this new show have been shot all last summer along the coast, to as far west as Gulf Shores, Alabama. (Hence the "Flori-bama" name, in case you didn't get it.) The show premiered on the main MTV network as of Monday, Nov. 27th late last fall, and is airing regularly Monday nights at 10pm Eastern/9pm Central. (At one point, the show was even lampooned on NBC's "Saturday Night Live.")
But, same as CMT's "Party Down South" of 2013, it seems to be promoting a "false reality" of staged bar fights, domestic spats, and stereotyped Southern behaviors and values. One female cast member: Aimee Hall from the Alabama side of Perdido Key, is shown in one scene to be so lazy and whiney, she asks others to pick up something she accidentally knocks to the floor from the fridge door in the apartment kitchen. In another scene, Panama City Beach local Kortni Gilson passes out drunk and wets the bed. Later, both genders get into a big shouting match on the pool patio, because the guys get impatient and eat up all the barbecue food, because the girls are taking too long to come out of the house to eat. (Clearly a case where selfish behaviors abound on both sides.) Hostilities erupt with phrases like: "You do NOT talk to women like that!" and "Aw, SHUT UP!" followed by numerous censor bleeps; then pushes, shoves, catfights and angry walk-offs ensue all over the place. Makes me want to put on Aretha Franklin's "Think" number from "The Blues Brothers" as I shake my weary head watching them spar in uncivilized fashion.
Hmph. This, they call "Reality TV." If someone's not throwing a tantrum over petty issues only to kiss and make up later, it's not considered real. Or rather, that seems to be the mindset of producers SallyAnn Salsano & Drew Tappon of 495 Productions (in association with Viacom) to get audiences to watch. Nothing more entertaining than watching dysfunctional adults in the same old Neil Simon "Odd Couple" sitcom dilemma, of trying to get along without driving each other crazy. Guaranteed setup for a social meltdown, every time.
Except nowadays, even that time-honored tradition seems to be getting old fast. Gone are the days of the "Jerry Springer" and "Geraldo Rivera" talk shows, where fights on stage were akin to ringside cage grudge matches in pro-wrestling. The young adult viewers of the last 20 years have grown up, turned 40 and moved on, some now yearning for MTV to go back to its 1981 roots as the top pop-music video network, before it "got with the times" and started doing reality shows. And now with the Internet, Smartphones, and more choice competitors like Vimeo, YouTube and others, viewers can call up specific music videos at will, like beer on tap, and jam while driving, working, taking breaks, or vacationing. Short term, streaming Wi-Fi entertainment on the go. Who's got time, or the will, to park butt in front of a big, flat HD screen for an hour for one night a week, tracking the progress of an octet of fractured freshies, who behave like spoiled brats in school recess, all in the name of free speech? Worse: it's all been done before. On "Jersey Shore." Last decade. Different location; same old stuff. Someone asks me: "Hey, you know who's going to be the next Mike, Snooki, Pauly D. or J-Woww?" I reply: "You know what: WHO CARES?" Forget the snacks; pass the aspirins.
And what's the local reaction? About the same as, if not worse than, with CMT. Since Pensacola Beach Santa Rosa Island Authority Buck Lee was the most vocal opponent against "Party Down South" and forced the CMT shooting crew to flee to Athens, Georgia back in 2013, it's a wonder he didn't step up right then & there to become our new film commissioner for the Escambia/Santa Rosa County areas of Northwest Florida. Instead, the only Panhandle territory with a still-active film commissioner's office---that of undisputed champ Julie Gordon by name---continues to be the Walton/Bay County areas of Panama City Beach. If local residents there have a problem with the show, they can take it up with her, well east of us.
To our immediate west, one local business; the world-famous Flora-Bama Lounge located in Perdido Key directly on the Florida-Alabama state line, is planning to sue over the show's use of the name "Floribama." (I don't know; spelling differences may win out on this one.) In any case, the bar's management is clear on one point: no such ill-bred behavior as shamelessly paraded on the weekly TV show, has ever happened normally under their roof. If it had, you can bet my good eyewitnesses video buddy Phil Thomas Katt would've been there to record every shot. In "real" reality, the Flora-Bama is home to such annual events as the New Year's Day Polar Bear Dip for winter, the Mullet Toss Tournament every spring, various summer fundraisers for community charities, and the Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival every fall. Still...if anyone's curious to see just how bad things can get on the show, and not take it too seriously, you can watch the show on MTV, or click on the show's website at: www.mtv.com/shows/floribama.
One more thing before I sign off here: the latest guest-star announcements for next month's big PensaCon 2018 now include Robert Picardo ("Innerspace, Total Recall, Star Trek Voyager") cartoon illustrator Jose Delbo (The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine") rocker Tom Ashton ("Sisters of Mercy, Clan of Xymox") voice actor Charles Martinet (Nintendo "Super-Mario Bros." video games) actor Jason Issacs ("Star Trek Discovery, Harry Potter")
"Dr.Who" recent fan-faves Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler) Arthur Davill (Rory Williams) John Barrowman (Capt. Jack Harkness) and Alex Kingston (Dr. River Song) plus complete cast reunions for 1992 Season 1 of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and for the current "Guardians of the Galaxy" films. Freaks, geeks, oddities and more, unite this coming February 25th - 28th in downtown Pensacola! For complete details, see: www.pensacon.com.
What a way to start the new year: keeping it real. That's all for January. On now to Febby!