An LA police detective, investigating the death of a has-been grindhouse movie star, becomes involved with star's actress daughter and a target of the cult led by his preacher son. Her investigation parallels that of the one conducted by the detective played by the dead star in his signature film, "Black Harvest".
John ErvinWriterThe Tiki War, Citizen 'Caine, Vixen Highway
Number of Pages:116
Country of Origin:United States
John Ervin is the award-winning director of seven films and three live theater productions in his home state of Minnesota. His first movie, the German expressionist feature "Made in Berlin" was shot on 16mm black-and-white in Minneapolis in 1998. His second feature, the Russ Meyer tribute "Vixen Highway" was shot throughout rural and urban Minnesota in 2000 and won awards for Best International Director and Best International Supporting Player (for actor Charles Hubbell). The futuristic dominatrix-rehab fable, "Proinhibition", followed in 2003 and has been shown at CineKink of New York and Sexy Film Fest of Australia. "Citizen 'Caine", his 2013 chronicle of a coke-addicted father's search for his missing daughter in the underbelly of Hollywood, was featured at festivals in the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, India and the Dominican Republic. His most recent narrative work is "The Tiki War", a "Mad Men"-era noir film set in a tiki bar in 1961 Chicago, which has been presented at festivals in Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, India, Egypt and Brazil. It also won Best Supporting Actress Award for Rachel Grubb at Film Fest International-London. Two documentaries, one on the Republican National Convention in 2008 and the other on the Minnesota Tea Party in 2010, were interspersed with three live theater productions for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. John holds a BA in Film from San Francisco State University and a certificate in Web Design from Minneapolis Community Technical College. He has also written on movies, politics and entertainment for the Minneapolis-based publications City Pages and The Rake.
My career has consistently combined the down-to-earth aspects of history and current events with the psychedelic sensibilities of midnight movies. My current film, "The Tiki War", for instance, deals with five "expatriates" from Cuba stranded in 1961 Chicago. These three desperate nightclub owners and two luckless entertainers are not from Cuba, but are Americans who once thrived in Havana when it was an adult playground run by dictator Fulgencio Batista. On the eve of President Kennedy's inauguration, these five plot to invade the island and return Havana to its former greatness.
This is just the latest of my films to connect politics with prurience. My first feature, the German expressionist "Made in Berlin", the shooting for which took place in 1997, concerned a senator whose affair with a politically ambitious femme fatale nearly causes his personal and professional ruin. This storyline prefigured the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal that emerged the following year.
"Vixen Highway", my second feature, leaned thematically on midnight movies and exploitation films, particularly the works of Russ Meyer. Nonetheless, this movie's MacGuffin - an illegal donor liver transported by competing bands of low-lifes to the house of an ailing rock star - was a humorous reflection on outrage, expressed in the media at the time of the film's production in 2000, over self-destructive celebrities being pushed to the top of organ recipient lists.
In 2003, I explored the subjects of chemical dependency and rehabilitation in my futuristic short "Proinhibition". Here, a treatment center in the year 2050 houses recovery groups based not on people's addictions, but their professions. The most notable of these is a support group for dominatrixes. This includes the main character, Mistress Maggie M., who is dragged in for involuntary treatment at the center run by the actively alcoholic Dr Rich S. With this sardonic work, I raised questions about the outdated and ineffective processes of addiction treatment - something the world certainly needs, but which also needs improvement.
Cinema and civics take equal amounts of space in my 2013 film "Citizen 'Caine". Insurance salesman Lou Phillips suffers an addiction not only to cocaine, but to the cinema of Nicolas Cage. Lou and two characters from the porno/home-maintenance movie studio whose production he interrupts - director Sir John Blunstone and security guard Ratan - are veterans of the Desert Storm, Falkland Islands and Iraq Wars, respectively. The studio's name, Deep Horizons, reflects a recent natural and corporate calamity involving oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
With my continuing observation of political forces around the world and, especially, my continuing enjoyment of the cinema of the weird, I plan to author many more "sociological midnight movies". "Black Harvest" aims to carry on this self-created tradition ... and how!