Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE DEFINITIVE DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD (2012) movie review



On the audio commentary for this latest iteration of his groundbreaking behind-the-scenes Document of the Dead, filmmaker Roy Frumkes compares his film to Michael Apted’s Up series (7 Up, 14 Up, 21 Up, etc.) in that he feels that his life has somehow become intertwined with that of his doc’s subject, George A. Romero. While a pronounced exaggeration alongside with Apted’s landmark half-century-and-counting achievement, Frumkes’ point is that with each new version, he has to choose what archival footage to excise in order to make room for the new. Sadly, the truth is that this 2012 release (dubbed “The Definitive Document of the Dead”) shows only too clearly that – arguably like Romero’s work itself – the past is where the good stuff lies.

While teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1978, Frumkes was looking for a documentary subject and decided that, while there had been several behind-the-scenes films made for Hollywood studio efforts, there had not been many (if any) that covered the making-of an independent feature. Denied the ability to shoot in NY or California due to union rules, the instructor learned of Romero’s impending Dawn of the Dead shoot at the Monroeville Mall outside of Pittsburgh. Thanks to an already existing relationship with Dawn producer Richard Rubenstein, Frumkes was granted access to the set where he and a small crew (comprised mainly of SVA students) shot for several nights alongside Romero, Tom Savini, Ken Foree, et al., capturing delicious celluloid tidbits of a masterpiece in the making.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fool's Views (11/12 - 11/25) (Turkeys and Toons!)


NOVEMBER TURKEYS, PART DEUX:

Fool's Views (11/12 – 11/25) (Part 1 of 2)


Greetings, peeps.

Like any good Thanksgiving feast, there was a wealth of cinematic gorging taking place over the last couple weeks, with ample portions of both dark meat (horror) and white (civilian), as well as lots of cheese, corn and sweets to balance out the table. We’ve got a lot to get through, so let’s get on with it!

In addition to Jon Kitley’s 10th Annual Turkey Day Festival, during which idiots such as myself bury themselves in the basement bowels of cinema, I scarfed down an array of relatively recent civilian fare as well as a quartet of animated blockbusters. Also did a little Turkey snacking of my own, with a new horror release from IFC for dessert. All in all, it was a feast fit for a king...or at least a Fool.

As always feel free to lend your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (2012) movie review


Berberian Sound Studio (2012) (1st viewing) d. Strickland, Peter (UK)

Called to Italy to work on a new film, British sound designer Toby Jones finds himself immersed in increasingly strange environs. Even if not for the language and cultural barriers that separate the already shy and bookish professional from his colleagues, there exists an oppressive feeling of otherness; the other sound engineers find him uncooperative, the eccentric director refuses to have his exceptionally violent giallo referred to as a “horror film,” and the seemingly simple task of reimbursing Jones’ flight expenses becomes a Sisyphean labor no one seems willing to undertake.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS (1961) movie review


Beast of Yucca Flats, The (1961) d. Francis, Coleman (USA)

Tor Johnson, the ex-wrestler who attained everlasting infamy in several Ed Wood features, is the nominal “star” of this hilariously misguided cinematic achievement. “Noted scientist” Johnson is ambushed while carrying atomic secrets during a meet-up and chased onto an atomic testing ground. (Oh, sweet irony.) Before you can say Big Bang Boom, the hulking bald-headed brainiac is transformed into a hulking bald-headed maniac with a radiation-scarred visage and a pronounced hindrance in communication skills. Helpless women are kidnapped, kids are chased with sticks and a cuddly bunny bounces in for the greatest closing shot on celluloid.

ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959) movie review


Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) d. Kowalski, Bernard L. (USA)

From producer Gene Corman (brother Roger exec-produced) comes this steamy tale of oversized bloodsucking annelids terrorizing the local swamp rat population, with a dash of moonshine, adultery, and suicide tossed in for good measure.

BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE (1982) movie review

  
Brimstone & Treacle (1982) d. Loncraine, Richard (UK)

With his career as a musical superstar firmly in place, relative screen newbie Sting was tapped to shoulder his third of this black comedy three-hander with venerable veteran screen talents Denholm Elliot and Joan Plowright. Turns out he’s more than up to the task, playing a playfully sinister sociopath who insinuates himself into the elder couple’s lives under the pretense of being their infirm daughter’s (Suzanna Hamilton) unrequited paramour.

Fool's Views (11/1 – 11/11)


Howdy troops!

Wow. Well, no surprise that I was a little burned out after the 31-day sprint that was the October Challenge; also no surprise that the content of the past couple weeks leaned in the civilian direction. Still, we managed to get a couple worthy fright flicks into the mix as well as embarking on the 7th Annual Turkey Hunt, where one tries to consume as many low-grade stinkers as possible over the course of November. (Films need to have an IMDb rating of 4.4 or lower to qualify, but as you’ll see, entertainment mileage is not necessarily proportionate.)

So, dive in! We’ve got all three Carradine brothers (David, Keith, Robert) and a triple-shot of Police frontman Sting in the mix, accompanied by another heaping helping of Danny Peary’s Cult Movies selections. As always, feel free to throw in your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

SCARE-A-THON 2012 (FINAL RESULTS!)



Hello Boils and Ghouls,

With that, we come to the end of another October Challenge. This year lived up to its name as I was endeavoring to watch only fright films I had never seen before, which proved both exciting and frustrating as every view that I shared with someone else had to be prefaced by, "Now, this might completely suck..." I sincerely thank everyone out there for their support, encouragement and feedback throughout the past 31 days of blood, babes and beasts. Hope you dug it as well.

A special word of thanks to those of you who came on board as donors to the Friends of Children fundraising drive - you are the ones who kept my eyes open into the wee hours at night…after night after night. Bless you. Please contact me at drach101@gmail.com to send in your corresponding pledge amount and let’s get some much needed help to these kids.

Below are the final statistics, as well as links to each day’s respective reviews. Hope you enjoy the walk back down memory lane, dark and dangerous as it might be. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/31)

Due to an unfortunate migraine, I was only able to knock out one more film. But since it brought the total to a fitting 101, I'm not complaining too much. (Well, the migraine is still here, so I'll complain about that, but you know what I mean...)



Close Your Eyes (aka Hypnotic aka Dr. Sleep) (2002) (1st viewing) d. Willing, Nick (UK) 98 min.

A hypnotist (Goran Visnjic) with a mysterious past becomes involved in the investigation of a spate of child murders with occult trappings. Well executed with identifiable characters and laudable scenes of suspense, but with a few too many unanswered questions come the final credits crawl.


Total Movies: 101
First Time Views: 101
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $1213.01

(I will be posting all the final stats, discoveries, etc. later on today, so stay tuned!)