Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Joe Strummer & The Clash

Oh how I miss thee... This is a mural near my job that I pass by all the time. I heart the clash. As for movie show time... I highly recommend the documentary JOE STRUMMER: THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN (2007) directed by the great Julian Temple (Filth & The Fury, Absolute Beginners)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gods Of Cinema: Michael Winner

There is no other filmmaker like Michael Winner. He puts an undeniable stamp on his films, and sometimes they seem like the work of a crazy person... Oh, I mean this in the best possible sense. Michael Winner's pictures in their direction and editing, especially in his Post-Death Wish success, feel absolutely different from other films. They break out of convention while staying square into their genre. Winner has directed about 35 films in his career, and had written many of them himself. His 60's Brit film period (1960-1969) began with the lost picture "Shoot To Kill" and ended with "Hannibal Brooks" with his frequent leading man, Oliver Reed. Here are my favorites from that period: The Charles Bronson Years (1971-1988) Started with Chato's Land and ended with Appointment With Death. The Mechanic is an absolute action classic, as is the gritty Death Wish. Michael Winner's first 2 Death Wish sequels however are something else entirely. Especially part 3. And that's a good thing. The Michael Winner Creep-fests (The Nightcomers, 1971 & The Sentinel, 1977) are standouts in the horror genre. His brand of atmosphere worked really well in these two pictures. The Sentinel remains one of the best horror films of the 70's for me. And then there are a couple of thrillers he did in his later career that absolutely make me giggle. Scream For Help (1984) and Dirty Weekend (1993) are outings that take the women in peril genres to bizarre new heights. I am obsessed with Winner's wacky choices he makes throughout these films. Michael winner's last film was the aptly titled "Parting Shots" from 1999, and he's since retired from making motion pictures. Strangely enough, or perhaps appropriately considering the man, he has changed careers to become a renowned food critic, writing for the UK's Sunday Times. You've got to love a director with a great palette.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

C. Thomas Howell movies 1983-1987

C. Thomas Howell's first film may have been a small role in the huge E.T. but he had a pretty excellent run afterward with consistently entertaining films each with strong, likable performances. Thinking of C. Thomas reminds me greatly of this time period for film. Some of these wonderful movies I can watch over and over (The Outsiders, Secret Admirer and Soul Man especially) and some are still overlooked (A Tiger's Tail and Grandview, U.S.A. are superbly cast films about small town life) C's been working non-stop ever since, mostly in low budget direct-to-video fare--even directing a few of which himself. This is something a lot of his peers haven't been able to do so kudos to him. Recommended post 80's C. Thomas Howell 90's viewing: Side Out (1990), That Night (1992) and Kindred The Embraced (1996)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oh Vestron... You silly so and so.

I've been thinking about you a lot lately, Vestron. And I must say, I really miss you. You left me in the late 80's and you turned into someone else entirely. I know things change, but why'd you have to go? Did a late success in life involving some dirty dancing really change you? I know there are a lot of factors to why it ended the way it did, but can't you just come into my life again? Can't you just surprise me and say, I'm back! I'm here to stay. When I go the store, and see all your stuck-up friends like MGM, Fox and Paramount, I just wish I could just see you... Just one last time... I miss you Vestron. I really do. With Vestron, you had in your life: Alligator Amityville 3-D The Changeling China Girl Chopping Mall Class Class Of 1984 Curtains Dead & Buried Death Weekend Delinquent School Girls Dolls Dream A Little Dream The Final Terror The Flamingo Kid From Beyond The Gate Gwendoline Hollywood High The House On Sorority Row The House On The Edge Of The Park Jennifer Joysticks The Lair Of The White Worm The Last House On The Left Lifeforce The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane Mad Max Metropolis The Monster Squad Mortuary My Chauffeur Once Bitten Paperhouse Parents The Party Animal Picnic At Hanging Rock Pieces Promised Land The Purple Rose Of Cairo Re-Animator Rolling Thunder Savage Streets Sole Survivor SpaceCamp Squirm Sweet 16 Tentacles TerrorVision They All Laughed They Came From Within To Live And Die In L.A. Tomboy Up The Creek Vigilante Waxwork And a few hundred more. Factoids: Vestron, along with it's short lived subsidiary (Lightning Video) at it's greatest popularity in the 80's accounted for at least 10% of the Video Market (And Vestron International would be 2nd only to Warner Brothers overseas) That is huge for a non-major studio company as such. Sadly after some surprise hits Vestron tried to go the way of the big studios and ended up chapter 11. Vestron was acquired by LIVE Entertainment. MGM licensed a bunch of their titles and LIONSGATE would eventually go on to own most of Vestron's catalog. Sadly, many of which have never seen the light of day on DVD. Including the movie "Light Of Day".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DVD Evaders: Lisa (1990) and Samantha (1992)

Remember the early 90's? I sure do hope you can recall back that far! Because if you cannot, you are probably a bit too young to really get this blog. In any case, the 90's for us wasn't, let's say, the best of times for film. Sure, some pearls here and there, some diamonds in the rough there... Mostly the early 90's was THE time for the independent film.

Taking a cue from the crossover success of Soderbergh's Sex, Lies And Videotape, studios and production companies tiny and huge alike were releasing small films that hopefully would find an audience (most likely on home video) A lot of these pictures have long since been forgotten due to the sad, painful, slow death of the video store and a complete lack of cable play.

I dusted these two off my shelf... Hopefully one day they'll make it to a digital format of some kind for easy access to all and be launched rightfully back into the movie stratosphere.

Lisa (1990) Directed by Gary Sherman is essentially a teen coming of age film mixed with a slasher and the combination of the two totally gels here.

Lisa (Played by My Two Dad's Staci Keanan) is 14 and naturally rebelling against her mom (Cheryl Ladd) Through her frustrations she gets herself mixed up with an older man via a telephone prank. The problem is this man just happens to be killing women.

I've always been a fan of The Director Gary Sherman (Raw Meat, Vice Squad, Dead And Buried, Wanted Dear Or Alive and the underrated Poltergeist III) He really gives the movie a dramatic weight and keeps the thrills coming all the same. We are immersed in Lisa's world and it never condescends the teenage point of view. That is pretty rare.

LISA gets a lot right. It's had a lot of replay value over the years for me and with it's moody vibe it makes for absolute perfect late night viewing.

Samantha (1992) Directed by Stephen La Rocque was a starring vehicle for the offbeat charms of Martha Plimpton, and she does a great job here.

Plimpton plays Samantha, a young woman who on her 21st birthday has discovered that she's been adopted. She soon goes on a chaotic search for her biological parents to make some sense out of her life, while a blossoming romance brews between herself and her best friend (charmingly played by Dermot Mulroney)

SAMANTHA forgoes a lot of the cliches of the romantic comedy of the time with a lot of quirky humor and I appreciated it's off-kilter point of view. Martha Plimpton while not the most obvious leading lady is full of wit and gives a very fun performance. Screw Julia Roberts, I'd rather watch Plimpton--who was also great in the little seen "Eye Of God" from 1997.

Cinema Du Awards! And some more blog lovin'

It's awards season and all, and I have been fortunate enough to of been bestowed with several honors by my blogging peers. I feel truly honored. A big THANK YOU to Johnny Metro, Professor Brian O'Blivion, The Film Connoisseur and When Is Evil Cool. You guys rock. Hard! I'd like to return the favor right back as I appreciate each of you dearly. Your blogs stimulate my movie-obsessed brain and they make me smile. Here are 11 blogs that deserve both a "Kreativ Blogger" AND a "One Lovely Blog" award. I also want to thank each and every one of my readers as well as all the wonderful blogs that are out there. You guys are helping to make the past and the present live on forever. Johnny Metro's Midnite Media Blog Professor Brian O'blivion's Cathode Ray Mission Blog Francisco Gonzalez's The Film Connoisseur Blog When Is Evil Cool? Blog 7 more: Reverend Phantom's Midnight Confessions Movie Reviews Blog Mitch's Vitamin Burger Blog Kevin & Troy Olson's Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies Blog The Warfreak's Olympic Artichoke Blog Yum Yum's House Of Self Indulgence Blog StarMummy's B Movies And Beyond Blog Samuel Wilson's Mondo 70 A Wild World Of Cinema Blog

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

These are a few of my favorite creepy things.

Thinking back at some of the more pivotal viewing moments of my childhood, and i'm thinking of the ones where I was frozen in fear at what was being presented before me on a flickering screen, I seemed to keep coming back to these five movies or moments.

For better or worse these works defined my appreciation for dramatized terror. In most cases they do not have the same effect on me as they once did, but that does not lessen their power. Their ideas and work (as lacking as some might be technically) have been ingrained into my psyche for good.

Children Of The Corn (1984)

Yes, one now looks back at the original Children Of The Corn film has mere child's play, but to this impressionable 9-year-old I was absolutely traumatized. The opening scenes where the adults are killed off in a coffee shop in a picture perfect New England-esque town sent shivers up my spine for the film's entire running time.

The idea of innocent looking kids, some around my age, just deciding to kill off everyone adult around them was completely insane to me. It threw all your sense of security that you have at that age completely out the window.

Tales From The Darkside The Series (1983-1988)

The opening credits alone to this creepy anthology series was enough for me to get under the covers and hide my face into the pillow not peeking until someone told me it was safe.

The opening credit's images now seem fairly cheesy, but that voice-over in combination with that music is still pretty damn eerie. "BUT...there is unseen by most an underworld. A place that is just as real. But not as brightly light...A darksiiide" Yeah, thanks. Is it over yet?

Curtains (1983)

Curtains is considered by fans of horror, slasher film aficionados especially, to be one of the more classic films to come out of the genre during it's time period. The slasher boom may have birthed countless pictures in the late 70's to mid 80's, but there's only one that contains a solitary scene that truly freaked the crap out of me growing up.

Horror fans may have guessed it already, and here it is...

Dolls in general are kinda creepy. And that sure is one of the creepiest i've ever seen. But man, they had to throw in a killer with a hag mask on top of that as well. On ice and in slow-motion no less. What are they trying to do to us?! Whatever it is, it worked.

Salem's Lot (1979)

Like a lot of people, this mini-series from the late 70's freaked me out. Especially because of the window scene. Vampires don't usually frighten me, but this one surely did...

I once bid on something on ebay I had been looking ages for and lost it out to someone with the handle "DavidSoulLover" I entertained the idea of creating a new handle for myself and trying to outbid on something DavidSoulLover was trying to get.

"PaulMichaelGlaserLover" would have been a great idea, but I think sending that floating vampire kid to his or her window would have been much more appropriate.

Tourist Trap (1979)

Tourist Trap was probably the most effecting horror film on me growing up. It's creepiness throughout is punctuated by the fact that there are heaps of mannequins abound and the idea of someone controlling them all with his mind. The movie somewhat downplays the supernatural ideas it might be presenting with a more slasher sensibility that was popular of the time, and I think the combination is stellar.

Chuck Connors as Slausen inhabits his role with a grace not seen by most actors in the genre and he captivates me with each viewing. And the 3 foxy 70's chicks in the movie are not so bad to look at, either.

Now back to the creepy stuff... Two scenes in particular really did a number on me. Early on in the film there is a set piece involving a guy locked inside of a room where things start to move on their own. Eventually the objects in the room start being flung at the man, and he tries desperately to find escape. The scene ratchets up the suspense to an almost unbearable point and then it is released with a moment so devastating to me. The man lets out a (silent) primal scream so tragic that it was forever ingrained in me much like the metal rod was implanted into him.

Another scene happens later where the villain, dressed in absolute freakish costume with voice to match, kills off one of the girls by utilizing his mannequin making skills. He slowly pours the plaster all over her face, completely covering it all the while telling her how she's going to die by her heart exploding with fear. Trust me, I was in likewise absolute heart-pounding fear myself. And this movie is rated PG. How nuts is that?

Here's the scene...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Let's get some action.

I wanted to start off 2010 with a little action. Okay, a lot of action.

Here are images of some largely 80's action flicks that time has forgotten. So slip on your pair of Chuck Norris action jeans, drink a case of good ole American beer and enjoy...

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