Roger Corman: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

One from the re watch pile…

Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

Film: I sometimes wonder if when the Lumière brothers stood on the shoulders of Thomas Edison and William Dickson and created their wonderful Cinématographe machine if they ever sat down and discussed the wonders of what their creation may hold in the future.

‘I imagine one day a man will make a film about an Island of Fishmen!’

‘I imagine one day someone will make a film called ‘ Dinoshark’!’

‘I imagine one day someone will adapt the work of Edgar Allen Poe into a series of films!’

‘I imagine one day a man will make a film with a spaceship in it that has boobs on it!’

‘I imagine one day a man will make all those films, and write/ produce/ star in many many more!’

‘Oh Auguste, don’t be ridiculous: one man could never do all that in one lifetime!!’

Well, one man did, and continues to do so! Roger Corman would have to be the most important man in the history of cinema. He is certainly a rebel before his time who has not only nurtured such talents as Ron Howard, Jonathon Demme, Joe Dante, Jack Nicolson, Martian Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich and many others, he’s also been at the forefront of effects development, expediency of production (both time and money wise) and just the ability to show that any story, if made cheap enough, can be a financial success… and DAMN the critics. Audiences and critics want different things from cinema!

I believe that B movie fans like myself are generally Corman fans before they realise that Corman exists. I know my youth was spent looking at Famous Monsters and watching late night creature features, a lot which have probably disappeared from my memory through the eons I’ve been alive, so I must have really experienced his work around this time. For certain though, I definitely know I watched Battle Beyond the Stars, and even as a kid knew it was a cheap seats version of Star Wars, but Sybil Danning…. sigh!

It wasn’t until my Fangoria years in the 80s that I really realised what a spectacular output Corman was responsible for, and here, with the documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, we get to see just why his influence on the movie industry is a unique and important one.

Written and directed by Alex Stapleton, who reviewed two important nominations for this film, one the Golden Camera at Cannes and the other a Rondo Hatten Classic Horror Award, this film looks at Corman’s history, the amazing successes he’s had over the years, and the daring steps he took into all different areas of production, direction, distribution and even sociological ideals which may not have always been wholly acceptable by the moral majority.

This film is a concise look at an amazing career, that still continues today, and with the absolute catalogue of talent interviewed here, we get a look at what Corman did for so many people in Hollywood, even if that just meant them finding out exactly what they WOULDN’T want to do as far as production is concerned.

Highly recommended.

Score: *****

Format: This film was reviewed on the UK Bluray release which runs for approximately 90 minutes. For the most part, the image is excellent and presented in 1.78:1 but that occasionally changes depending on the historical footage shown. The audio is a matching quality DTS-HD 5.1.

Score: ****1/2

Extras: There is a pretty cool bunch of extras on this disc:

Extended Interviews takes all the stuff that didn’t make the cut to the film but still had interesting stories to tell.

Special Messages to Roger is a nice collection of tributes to Corman from his contemporaries, acolytes, apprentices and dilettantes. Some are heartfelt, some funny, but all seem to be genuine!

There is also a trailer for the film. Nicholson’s comment from the film,’ by mistake, he made a good picture every once in a while’ should have been the Tagline to the whole thing, and it’s quoted here.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I actually love film documentaries almost as much as I love movies, and this is one I watch regularly.

The Apparition (2012) Review

One from the re-watch pile…

The Apparition (2012)

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Film: Sometimes I wonder HOW a film gets made. Do producers come up with a concept after watching a few films, or hearing about the popularity of a few films, and think,’ I could hire some people to do something like this’ OR is it a case of a writer or director see the popularity of a type of film and attempt to emulate it?

Now I’m not aiming any particular criticism against writer/ director of The Apparition, Todd Lincoln, personally, but it seems to me that this is the case here. I mean, originality in cinema rarely exists outside of international films or the indie scene, but sometimes a film is SO generic that it almost feels like its a cynical parody, but not funny, of other films that are trying to be serious.

So why did I bother to ever watch this film in the first place? Well, my lovely wife was a fan of the Twilight films, and like many couples, we have a deal where we choose a film alternatively, but what she didn’t realise was I could suffer these films due to Ashley Greene, one of the more lovely of the vampires, and I have to say I’m not above seeing a film just due to a hot star… I maintain I saw Burying the Ex not due to Greene or Alexadria Daddario’s appearances, but instead due to my fandom of Joe Dante.

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Did that sound convincing? Good.

The other reason is I had never seen Tom Felton, better known as Draco Malfoy, in anything other than the Harry Potter films, a fantasy series that I quite enjoy. Now I’ve not seen this film since it was released, and didn’t realise that the Winter Soldier from the Marvel films, Sebastian Stan, has a lead role in this.

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SO what is the film about? Honestly with this forthcoming synopsis, I could have phrases such as ‘like in Poltergeist’ at the end of each sentence, but that would be unfair, so I’ll resist.

Our story starts with a double flashback, the first with some dodgy old film of a séance followed by another where Patrick (Felton), Ben (Stan) and Lydia (Julianna Guill) engaged in a psychic experiment in which Lydia is snatched and disappears.

Flash forward to now, and Ben and his far too hot girlfriend, Kelly (Greene) are living in a house on a new estate owned by her parents, but something strange is happening. It starts with a brand new cactus rotting, and continues with things moving around the house by themselves, wood rot coming through the floor and clothes strangely being ties in knots… but why is this happening? Could Patrick be restarting the experiments or has Ben been haunted all along….

This is one of those films where the main characters are so stupid you just want to shake them. If I found floor rot, I’d call someone to look at it; if I found doors unlocked and security cameras being wrecked, I’d call the police and if I found a giant thing in my kitchen that looked like a wasp’s nest, the first thing I’d do is call an exterminator, not poke it with a freaking broomstick!

Their is some emotional sharks that are jumped here as well, and Greene’s character seems to be unable to feel for her boyfriend’s loss of a previous girlfriend and instead seems to be simultaneously pissed off her had a relationship before her, and that whatever happened may also happen to her… even though they aren’t involved in the experiment.

Now please don’t let me make you think that Lincoln is anything but a pretty good director! The scenes are all set well, and the estate the house is in, which is in the middle of the desert, is pretty amazing.

It’s just the story of the film: it’s so lame and so run-of-the-mill, and made for that ‘I don’t like horror but I like ghost stories’ group who love the Paranormal Activity and Conjuring and Insidious group. Mix into those PG, dull films with an absolute shedload of j-horror imagery, and you’ve got a pretty boring bit of ‘entertainment.

Score: *1/2

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Disc: This review was performed on the Australian bluray release which thankfully only runs for 82 minutes. The feature is presented in a clean and clear 16×9 image with a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: Four extras on this disc, all of which exist to advertise Joshua P. Warren and his ghostly research:

The Apparition: A Cinematic Spectre sees a few of the cast discuss the film, and even they have trouble explaining what is going on, and meets Joshua P. Warren, the ghost advisor for the film. Yup: the ghost advisor.

The Dark Realm of the Paranormal is more promotional material for Warren, who spends 5 minutes talking about how he believes in absolutely everything paranormal.

Haunted Asheville looks at Warren’s book of the same name and the history of horrible things that happened throughout the town of Asheville.

The Experiment of the Apparition looks at Warren’s experiments in the paranormal.

All the extras on this disc seem to be farcical attempts to promote and quantify Warren and his team of ‘scientists’.

Score: **

WISIA: Greene is in her bikini and underwear for a few minutes, so that’s got to be a reason to watch it again, right? No, it’s not.

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Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009) Review

One from the To Watch Pile…

NIGHTMARES IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE: THE EVOLUTION OF THE AMERICAN HORROR FILM (2009) REVIEW

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Film: Even though their releases are hit and miss, I am always willing to giving Australian company Monster Pictures a go. Sometime I get a gem like   All Through The House, other times I am kicked in the nuts with trash like Pod, but I still feel that support is important.

On a few occasions, Monster Pictures will release a documentary ABOUT films, like Andrew Leavold’s The Search for Weng Weng, the unusual film about Richard Franklin’s descent into madness Lost Souls, and this, the more mainstream horror based doco about the American horror film, Nightmares in Red White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film.

Now I am a massive fan of documentaries about film, and site The History of Film TV series as my second favourite TV series of all time (the first is Doctor Who, the third is Criminal Minds) and I am a regular viewer of other docos like Video Nasties, Channel Z, Not Quite Hollywood, Machete Maidens Unleashed, Rewind This et cetera.

I think the reason I am so interested in these documentaries is because I am somewhat of a frustrated filmmaker myself, and would love to make docos!

Now the history of horror films would be a TV series unto itself as so many countries have a massive horror film industry themselves, so this one egotistically narrows its focus solely on the American horror film.

The film is narrated by horror icon Lance Henrickson, and features interviews with various directors like Joe Dante (The ‘Burbs), George Romero (Land of the Dead ), Brian Yuzna (Beyond Re-animator), John Carpenter (Halloween (1978), Larry Cohen (The Stuff), Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II), Mick Garris (Riding the Bullet), Tom McLoughlin (Sometimes They Come Back) and Roger Corman (trust me, you’ve seen a Corman film), as well as film historians John Kenneth Muir and Dennis Fischer and ex-Fangoria editor in chief Tony Timpone.

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This is a pretty good movie, though as the title would suggest, its very insular and outside a couple of mentions of what is happening in the overseas film industries, it talks repeatedly about what was happening in America, to Americans (though apparently Canada is America now, according to the Cronenberg mentions) and how the various world wars effected Americans and the American horror film industry.

That’s a minor criticism though and the documentary takes a fleeting look at the entire history of American horror from the dawn of cinema appearing in America to Universal Monsters, to thrillers, savage cinema, slashers, zombies: you name it.

This documentary also looks at the highs and lows of the industry, and how the ‘real’ world (whatever that is these days) effects the quality and tone of horror films.

Horror movie fans will love the fact that this film doesn’t hold back on the violence and blood: obviously the director, Andrew Monument and writer, Joseph Maddrey (also the writer of the book on white this was based) know where the bread and butter of the genre usually is; you know, that surface interest before the story or acting or direction becomes and appeal.

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The real shame in this film is the lack of female discussion: no women directors, historians, journalists or actresses get a say here which I found unusual, considering how great their presence has become, and how important both sexes are to the genre. Seriously, Rue Morgue, the wonderful horror magazine was at its best when under the control of now-director Jovanka Vukovic, surely someone like her or her contemporaries (like Monica S. Kuebler or Rebekah McKendry or April Snellings or any of the other wonderful female voices in horror)  would have had something important to say.

Even over that, I enjoyed this documentary and am happy to have it in my collection of docos about horror films.

Score: ***1/2

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Disc: This region 4 DVD release from Monster Pictures runs for roughly 96 minutes and is presented in a 16×9 image of varying quality, which is not entirely fair as some of the footage is from old films but some of the interview do have some noise on their image, and the audio is presented in an entirely functional Dolby Digital 2.0.

Score: ***

Extras: Not a sausage.

Score: 0

WISIA: I have no doubt that I’ll watch this again as I do re-watch horror documentaries regularly.

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The ‘Burbs (1989) Review

 

From the re-watch pile…

THE ‘BURBS (1989)

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Film:  Joe Dante has always been somewhat of a hero to me. I haved always admired his love of cinema and his associated knowledge, and even though I am well and truly a fan of horror, I do have a michevious child trapped inside me, and in general, Dante’s films speak to that kid.

He directed some of my favourite films as a teen, like The Howling, Gremlins and Innerspace, and continues to entertain me with films of a similar vibe, like The Hole and Burying the Ex. I like that his films have this odd polluted wholesomeness to them.

The ‘Burbs was released in 1989 and is a story about suspicion, and what can happen when it gets in the way of facts. Is it a microcosm of society that may have morew relevance today than ever before?

What would I know? I’m a nerd who collects toys, reads comics and watches movies!!!

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Anyway, The ‘Burbs tells of a quiet street where Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) live with his wife Carol ( Carrie Fisher) and their son, Dave (Cory Danziger), and this week, Ray has decided to take a week off to relax!

The problem is, is that Ray is quite highly strung, and is easily led astray by his friend Art (Rick Ducommun) and Mark (Bruce Dern), the paramilitary nutjob who lives across the street, and the three of them are suspicious of their new neighbours, the Klopeks (Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore and Courtney Gains), and think they may be part of a satanic cult or are serial killers…

When one of the older members of the neighbourhood suddenly goes missing, the three cook up a scheme to find out what the Klopeks are up too… but are the Klopeks the REAL danger, or is presumption and suspicion the REAL villain here…?ejudices and presumptions of ‘normal’ folk…

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Through his amazing cast and efficient filmmaking, Dante has created a fun dark comedy that really works, and feels timeless. The story rolls along at quite the clip, but that could be that we, as the voyeuristic viewer is getting caught up with all the stickybeaking… we love to know each other’s business, right? This could also happen as some of the stereotypes are very familiar.

Tom Hanks plays his role as manic as he did in these days, before he became a ‘serious actor’, and there is a special appearance by Dick Miller ( who no doubt is playing ‘Walter Paisley), but the people who really nail their roles are The Klopeks. Within the confines of the film, and its environment, Dante has made them the perfect straight men to the apparent insanity of us normal folks. Special mention needs to go to Brother Theodore who seems like an evil monk in his role.

This isn’t top tier Dante, but it is an enjoyable watch.

Score: ***1/2


 

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Disc: This region B Australian bluray release is presented in a slightly above average 1.77:1 image with a decent 2.0 audio track.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Only two extras on this disc: a trailer and an alternate ending which was far weaker and had some real ham-fisted dialogue.

Score: **

 

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Zombruary Review: Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

On our last review of Zombruary, we have one from the re watch pile…
Dellamorte Dellamore aka The Cemetery Man (1994)


Film: Shameless Screen Entertainment tricked me. Being a completist, I can’t help but grab every release they do as they have numbers clearly shown on the spine of each DVD or bluray they release. 

Cheeky buggers.

But I have to admit my chagrin may be not as severe as it could be, as through the perpetual purchases of their product, I have watched some films that I possible would never had been exposed to the likes of Who Watched Her Die or Torso.

This however is a film I would have grabbed even if I wasn’t a nutjob collector. This film has always been of interest to me for several reasons: it’s based on the comic Dylan Dog and I’m a sucker for comic movies, it stars Anna Falchi who is just exquisite (and has an amazing body which is shown off several times in this film), and is directed by Michele Soavi, who also directed Stagefright and The Church, two films I love!

Our story tells of gravedigger, Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) who doesn’t just bury the dead, but also has the job at a graveyard of re-burying the Dead who have returned to life, or ‘returners’ as he calls them along with his sidekick/ employee Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro).

Dellamorte Dellamore: Rupert Everett as our hero!


Whilst at a gravesite one day he sees a widow, referred to as ‘She’ (Anna Falchi), who is burying her husband, and he decides she is the most beautiful living person he has ever seen, and decides he needs to pursue her.

He eventually lands his prize, but she dies of fright after seeing her returned deceased husband, Dellamorte’s life starts to decline… and perhaps his mental stability too, after he is visited by death itself, and doppelgänger of his beloved….

Dellamorte Dellamore: Anna Falchi… sigh.


It’s a great movie, with great looking zombies and a real different way of looking at the ‘zombie problem’ and it’s full of black comedy and with a nihilistic ending which is a surprising flip in tone, and is entertaining throughout.

Score: ****1/2

Dellamorte Dellamore DVD menu screen


Format: This U.K. Release from Shameless Screen Entertainment on DVD runs for approximately 103 minutes and is presented with an OK, 16:9 image with a similar Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The audio is available in English or Italian with English subtitles. It basicLly a good image, but has a touch of pixelation here and there and the colours sometimes run flat.

Score: ***

Extras: The disc opens with reviews for other Shameless Screen Entertainment releases Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Cannibal Holocaust.

Other extras include a trailer, a gallery (which is a usual pretty boring piece, only 15 photos from Alan Jones’ personal collection, some behind the scenes shots and a few pics of the script and a poster), there is a Shameless Trailer Park which features trailers for other Shameless releases Venus in Furs, The Frightened Woman, Who Saw Her Die, The Designated Victim, Oasis of Fear, Baba Yaga, Footprints on the Moon, Satan’s Baby Doll, The Beast in Space, The Strange Vice of Mrs Watch, Almost Human and Don’t Torture a Duckling.

There is also a fantastic commentary by Soavi and writer Gianni Romoli which really gets into the nuts and bolts of the making of the film, though it is , as expected, in Italian with English subtitles.

Journalist Alan Jones has also provided an interesting personal account of the Ma king of the film in an accompanying booklet.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s a gem. You’ll watch it again and again!

Dellamorte Dellamore: a Zombie’s Guide to the Scout Apocalypse