Thursday, April 27, 2017

BIFFFF 2017 Wrap-up!

Well, BIFFF 2017 has come and gone, and a glorious experience it was.

This marked my third visit to Brussels for the fest, as well as my first time serving on the jury of an international film festival. I was honored to lead the 7th Orbit Jury, filled out by my illustrious compatriots, actress Bénédicte Philippon, radio personality Lucile Poulain, and writer/director Xavier Seron.

There were fewer jaw-dropping celebrity encounters compared to my visits in 2012 (Barbara Steele, Terry Gilliam, William Friedkin) and 2013 (Dario Argento, John Hough), but I was still happy to have rubbed shoulders with directors Fabrice du Welz (Calvaire, Vinyan) and Stanley Tong (Supercop, Rumble in the Bronx), and the lovely Spanish actress Macarena Gomez (Dagon, Witching and Bitching). Due to my late arrival, I just missed meeting 2017’s inductees into the Order of the Raven (the BIFFF’s Hall of Fame), Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Stoker) and Alejandro Amenabar (The Others, Open Your Eyes).

Edith Scob, the star of the original 1960 shocker Eyes without a Face, was also supposed to be on hand but had to bow out at the last minute due to illness.

As with my previous visits, I spent my downtime camped out in the abode of Brussels blood brother and Cult Reviews mastermind Gert Verbeeck, although our separate trajectories – he was handling a healthy portion of the subtitling programming throughout the fest while I was attending to my jury duties and trying to catch as many other features as possible – did not allow us to spend as much time sitting side by side amidst the raucous BIFFF crowds. Still, it was nice to know that we were both playing important roles in the festival this time around.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fool's Views (3/22 - 3/31)

You're going to need a bigger pigpen....

Back again so soon...?

Here's the second half of March's Views, which featured a little double feature from Peter O'Toole. In looking back over the star's filmography, I was surprised at how many duds he had following his 1960-early 70s heyday, and by the time 1982 rolled around (20 years after Lawrence of Arabia made him a household name), many people assumed he was more or less playing himself in My Favorite Year, i.e. a washed up movie star riding on booze, goodwill, and fond memories.

With BIFFF right around the corner, I'm planning to knock out a couple more Kurosawa flicks, and then dive headlong into the Brusselian madness which starts April 8 and which I'm planning to document as thoroughly as possible because who knows when we'll pass this way again. So, don't go too far because it's about to get loopy up in here.

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


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fool's Views (3/1 - 3/21)

Hey there!

As mentioned in the previous post, 2017 got off to a pretty rocky start, but once my stage obligations were concluded, I found myself with a bit more spare time and inspiration to enjoy the moving image once again. (Just in the nick of time, since I’ll be heading off to Belgium in a week to partake in my third go-round of the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival aka BIFFF, where I’ll probably consume more flicks over the course of 10 days than in the previous three months.)

In addition to a quartet of Blu-ray screeners from Shout! Factory and Severin, I actually got to the cinema on four separate occasions and batted 1.000 right down the line: Get Out, Raw, Logan, and a midnight screening of Razorback at the Music Box Theatre. Plus, for the first time since November’s Turkey Day, a group of the fear-loving faithful gathered at Kitley’s Krypt to partake in some long overdue Sharing and Scaring.

I also decided to make Akira Kurosawa my dedicated “director project” for 2017 (previous subjects include David Cronenberg, Robert Altman, Robert Aldrich, and Alfred Hitchcock), so I kicked things off with a revisit of Ran, and first time viewings of Drunken Angel and The Hidden Fortress. It’s going to be a good year, methinks.

In fact, March was so bountiful, I’m going to break this installment of the Views into two parts. So, stay tuned!

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


Saturday, April 1, 2017

DREAMSCAPE (1984) Blu-ray review

Dreamscape (1984) d. Ruben, Joseph (USA)

Dennis Quaid stars as a psychic who primarily uses his brainwave powers for picking winners at the race track until former mentor Max von Sydow tracks him down and blackmails him into joining a top-secret government project where he can enter people’s subconscious through their dreams with a little help from beepy and flashy technology. But, as with any good top-secret government project, he quickly learns that all positive creations can be turned to evil ends....

Friday, March 31, 2017

POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE (1986) Blu-ray review

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) d. Gibson, Brian (USA)

“They’re baaa-aaaack.” The highly unoriginal tagline packs a fraction of the chills of Poltergeist’s “They’re heeeee-ere,” which is about the size of things in this half-baked, money-chasing follow-up. Gone are the rollercoaster thrills, taut direction, and cohesive screenplay Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg brought to 1982’s haunted house extravaganza, leaving C-list director Gibson with a game cast and a gamier storyline.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fool's Views (1/1 - 2/28)

My name is Inigo Drago. You killed my brother. Prepare to die.

Howdy, folks.

Wow, what the hell happened, AC?

So, here’s the story: In late December, I started rehearsals for a new play (an adaptation of Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood) with First Folio Theatre, my first time on the boards since embarking on my newfound career as a personal trainer in late 2015. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to run around in fancy duds, playing a scurrilous plantation owner with a penchant for flogging in the first act and then buckling the swash as an underdressed pirate in the second.

Putting the AC in bACkstabbing since 1685

However, the trade-off for having a full-time job as a trainer means that a show is suddenly (gasp!) a second job. Now, I’m not complaining – I know that plenty of my colleagues do the day-job thing and work their asses off doing play after play and it’s just a way of life for them. I’m just saying that I hadn’t done it myself in quite a while and it was a bit of a shock to the system, especially when my day started at 4:30am and often didn’t end until midnight. It’s a good thing I was having a good time doing burning both candle ends, or I’m not sure I would have made it through.

Monday, January 30, 2017


Hunting Grounds (aka Valley of the Sasquatch) (2015) d. John Portanova (USA)

If you go down to the woods today
You’re sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You’d better go in disguise!

-- “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”

The award-winning* creature feature Hunting Grounds opens, predictably enough, with a hunter (Bill Oberst, Jr.) walking in the forest. Writer/director John Portonova highlights these opening scenes with a haunting score, beautiful scenic shots, and sounds of nature that craft the environment as being rich, deep, and honestly creepy. It’s when the hunter hears a roar that sounds like a living avalanche that I go, NOPE! At this point, any other person would leave Nature where it is, get in the car, and head to the nearest comfort of home... but our guy keeps on trekking, implying there is something in those woods that he is after.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Civilian 2016 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!

Aaaaaaaaand we're back!

Having addressed the horror genre in the previous entry (hey, this is HORROR 101 after all), it’s now time to give the civilian flicks a moment in the sun. As always, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2016 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

As I mentioned in the horror wrap-up post, I didn't spend a whole lot of effort keeping up with 2016's output - I don't think I indulged in more than two or three cineplex binge-trip theater-hop voyages, so most of the current crop were viewed in the latter half of the year once they'd hit home video. I'm genuinely surprised I saw as much as I did, since this year wasn't really calling to me.

Additionally, as you'll see below, this marks the fewest total films I've seen in probably 15 years, due to work and travel and interneting. But hey, Life takes its turns and shifts, and I'm okay with it, so hopefully you are as well. We'll see what 2017 has in store!

Let the OCD madness begin!!!

Everybody Wants Some!
Green Room
*The Handmaiden
Hell or High Water
Swiss Army Man

Monday, January 9, 2017

Dr. AC's 2016 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!

Howdy troops,

After much deliberation (clearly, since we're already a week into the New Year), here is my assessment of the year that was. All of the films listed below were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2016 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible). To accommodate and acknowledge as many films as possible, I've broken them down into various categories in alphabetical order, with my top pick denoted with an asterisk. (*)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fool's Views (12/1 – 12/31)

Maybe we should open that one later.... 

Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee, everybody!

End of the year, where I happily found myself with a bit more spare time; whilst others were scurrying around doing their last minute shopping, I tried to catch a few more flicks before the clock struck midnight. Even knowing that there was no way I was going to approach my former glory days of 400-500 films, it was nice that December afforded the femalien and I as many opportunities as it did (including a glorious screening of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Music Box Theatre that featured a pre-show caroling session and an appearance from St. Nick himself).

Observant readers will also note that the non-horror fare ruled the month, with a special nod toward to the good ol’ Chicago Public Library, so hopefully you’ll allow it.

Due to the lateness of the hour, we’ll endeavor to keep these brief, in order to get things up and rolling and launch into the Brave New World that will be 2017. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.