Saturday, October 29, 2011

Donner Party horror flick

Last May I
blogged about a new Donner Party movie in the works, a horror film to be called Donner Pass. Well, it's finished and is being shown today at the Eerie Horror Film Festival in Erie, Pa., according to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The directory, Elise Robertson, claims,“The script is so rich in character detail – each of our teens has a complex and surprising arc – all adding up to a meaningful commentary about human nature.”

From the description, it sounds like a typical unsupervised-teens-meet-killer-creature scenario. As in 2010's Necrosis, a group of young people go to the Sierra for a ski trip, get snowed in, and run into a murderous Donner Party revenant. The Arroyo Films press release states, "A legend persists that the Donner Party fell victim to an evil curse, a hunger that remains in those mountains to this day – even that George Donner himself is still out in those woods, still hunting."

If you can't make the screening today, you can watch the trailer at the movie website. The film will appear in wide release in January, and shortly thereafter will be available on DVD.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Radio interview

On Thursday, October 20, Jeffrey Callison interviewed three of the authors of
An Archaeology of Desperation on Capital Public Radio (KXJZ) in Sacramento. Book editors Drs. Kelly J. Dixon, co-director of the dig, and Shannon A. Novak, a bioarchaeologist who examined the bone fragments recovered, and I were on the air for about 20 minutes. You can listen to the show here.

Naturally, there was much discussion of cannibalism. A lot of people seem to think that the goal of the Donner Party Archaeology Project was to prove or disprove cannibalism, but it started in 2003 as a brief dig funded by television program; the goal was actually to continue previous work in the area and look for a hearth. The results were so promising that the archaeologists came back the next year.

True to form, the Sacramento Bee's coverage of the program asserts that "cannibalism continues to be an unsettled question," but "many experts... continue to believe it did occur to some extent." Oh, yeah? Find me an expert that says it didn't happen.

Oh, well, perhaps somebody will read (and understand) the book.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Book!

Yesterday the University of Oklahoma Press officially released the new Donner Party book, An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party’s Alder Creek Camp. Call me biased, but I think it's quite a contribution to the literature of the Donner Party, with lots of new and interesting perspectives on the entire episode, and I hope that readers will agree.

Naturally, it's too soon for reviewers to have plowed through it yet, but you can get an idea of what the book is like from the galley of the introduction, which is available here. DiscoveryNews ran an article about it last week, and the University of Nevada has also issued a press release, since several people associated with the university worked on the project.

You can order it directly from the publisher or at, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.