An insidious new comedy rocks hard, tapping the talents of punk, metal, electronic and indie-rock bands.
BY RICHARD O’SULLIVAN
Imagine a cross between Kevin Smith’s Clerks, Syfy’s Ghost Hunters, plus a little of Ricky Gervais’ The Office thrown in and you might come close to understanding the inspired mental gang-bang that is Ghost Trek, the raucous, uncensored, new indie sitcom disguised as a supernatural reality series. Ghost Trek is sprung forth from the twisted mind of rock journalist-turned-director (and BLURT contributor) Michael Plumides, author of the music-biz memoir Kill the Music. With uber-witty dialog, a hipper-than-hip cast, and a sonically disemboweling soundtrack, Ghost Trek follows the exploits of the Paranormal Underworld Detective Society (PUDS) as they zig-zag across the nation investigating things that go booga-booga in the night between bitching girlfriends, barking bosses, tanning beds, and bong hits – all the while risking life and limb capturing the undead on video.
Helmed by “handsome chiropractor-turned-spook-investigator” Dr. Zeke Wallace (played by Michael Melendez – not to be confused with Ghost Adventures head honcho Zak Bagans but easily as two dimensional), the PUDS team contains some very familiar faces to popular culture aficionados, including reality stars Jonny Fairplay and Mikey Bortone (CBS’ Survivor), pro-wrestling cult heroes Scott “Colt Cabana” Colton and Glenn “Disco Inferno” Gilbertti (WWE and WCW respectively), Maximcovergirl Gia Allemand (The Bachelor), North Carolina female rock vocalist (for Dreamkiller) and scream queen (Mortuary) Christy Johnson, and indie horror’s comic genius Brett Gentile (Cold Storage). Go here to see the IMDB.com entry for Ghost Trek.
In the pilot episode, entitled “The Kinsey Report” young zenith Addy Miller (pictured above, with director Plumides, and now an instant horror legend for her portrayal of a child zombie on AMC’s The Walking Dead) co-stars as a murdered prepubescent beauty queen named Tyler Rae Kinsey (strangled adorably with a jump rope), calling out from the ether somewhere in the thick Colorado air. Faster than you can say “Holy Jon Benet, Batman!”, PUDS spring into action in an attempt to catch Tyler Rae on camera – hopefully within budget and with just the proper amount of unprofessional dicking around. But hard times have befallen all those who have come in contact with the Kinsey case. And Zeke’s girlfriend/producer just found out he’s been getting some mugambo from one of Charlie Sheen’s girls behind her back. Will she get him shit-canned? Will the PUDS be cursed? We will see.
Trailer for “The Kinsey Report”:
Like Law & Order, Plumides’ chose material torn from yesteryear’s headlines. But unlike Law & Order, it’s a headline that is then proverbially tied face down on a table and forcibly fisted with someone losing their wristwatch. Nods to Scooby Doo, The Young Ones, and Entourage, “The Kinsey Report” deserves every bit of the tag line “Paranormal research with an emphasis on bad taste” while also retaining the reality show feel in an obnoxious Bad Girls Club kinda way enough to make “The Donald” proud. Plumides has another eleven episodes in development as well as a feature film; some are based on real cases, but not all. But they are all chocked full of pop-culture references ranging from Kolchak: The Night Stalker to Tombstone, and definitely honed to appeal to the Family Guy crowd.
With politically incorrect, balls-to-the-chin humor combined with hilarious ghost hunting fubar underscored by the pitch-perfect special effects makeup of two-time Emmy winner Dean Jones and brother Starr (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Generations), Ghost Trek brings the bang for the indie buck. And it should probably come as no surprise that the soundtrack doesn’t exactly share a lot of crossover tunes with this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Plumides, who has noted that he intends his project to be “the Spinal Tap of paranormal reality TV” and maintains an uber-lively blog, “The Decline of Southern Civilization,” detailing his work on the film and sundry other matters, confirms that the soundtrack is unique, saying, “I wanted the score to be ominous, creepy, but a little silly. We employed the work of Hit Music, Inc. (Alan Grossman and Jimm Mosher) for that. But I also wanted Ghost Trek to be highlighted with indie bands that have a familiar ring. So, I reached out to a few folks, some I knew and some I didn’t. They each contributed one song a piece. We signed all the synchronization agreements and placed the songs exactly where they needed to be. I did the licensing and Rob Filion, my co-director, supervised the music edit. All the bands are great, and have a distinct sound of their own. And the songs are appropriate for each scene theme.”
Rather than sensitive bleeding angst from the latest Sarah McLachlan wannabe, we get an opening theme entitled, appropriately enough, “Haunt Me,” from the take-no-prisoners North Carolina goth- electronica outfit Angels on Acid, a band that somehow manages to blend the energy of old school Trent Reznor with the ethereal goodness of Joy Division.
Bringing forth a decidedly anti-hero anthem (pun intended) called “Kill the Cheerleader (Save the World)” are South Carolina’s ruling punk/metal hybrid gods, Isabelle’s Gift(coming off their KISS opener in the Carolinas last October), who deliver every riff and line as though they’re laying it at an altar for either Ozzy Osbourne or Mike Ness, whomever the hell is hungry that day.
Bonging out to metal seems to be the flavor of the month. The next song in the pilot is a nervous and foreboding ditty called “The Hunt,” by Brooklyn band (and current Combichrist opener) Star Killer, with a Nitzer Ebb (or Gravity Kills, take your pick) meets Jane’s Addiction slant. Fronted by Jasin Cadic, co-writer of the film, The Perfect Age of Rock-n-Roll (Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Peter Fonda – due to be released later this summer), Star Killer displays a love of Manson-Korn-esque era rock that will knock your dick in the dirt.
And rounding out the eclectic soundtrack is “Wicked World” by the folk/rock/cabaret carnage carnival known as Hellblinki, whose music is reminiscent of a “Squirrel Nut Zippers meets Gogol Bordello – cum -Tom Waits chained up in the Avett Brothers’ basement” sound is essentially the musical compendium to all things Ghost Trek, creating a universe that is at once off-kilter and yet more sane than anything on the evening news.
With the pilot episode in the can, Ghost Trek is currently in negotiations to blow its unique form of ectoplasm on an HD screen near you. Ghost Trek: The Kinsey Reporthas its first public screening at ConCarolinas 2011 Sci-Fi Convention in Charlotte, NC on Saturday, June 4th.
Richard O’Sullivan is a writer-turned-filmmaker whose work with NBC’s “The More You Know” single-handedly kept a generation off crack cocaine.