Friday, December 18, 2009

...And Now Dan O'Bannon?? Good Grief!

Dan O'Bannon, writer of Aliens and director of Return of the Living Dead, passed away today. While he wasn't working much in the last 15 years or so, his contributions to genre film will undoubtedly be missed. RIP...

A couple of notable O'Bannon films:

Return of the Living Dead (Director)

Lifeforce (Screenplay)

Dead & Buried (Screenplay)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Paul Naschy (1934-2009)

Long-time Spanish horror autuer Paul Naschy (Jacinta Molina) passed away today after a long battle with cancer. Sad times indeed. From fearnet:

Paul Naschy, often referred to as 'the Spanish Lon Chaney' has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 75.

Naschy's career began in the 60's when he created the werewolf character Waldemar Daninsky, a character that he played in over 12 films. While Naschy is primarily known for his films from the 60's through the 80's (titles like Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf, Horror Rises From the Tomb and Panic Beats), Naschy never stopped working (writing, directing, producing, acting) right up until his death. In 2004, Naschy wrote and starred in a semi-autobiographical film called Rojo Sangre about a down on his luck veteran actor.

His list of films is immense and vastly varied in quality, but I've never seen one I didn't have a lot of fun with. Here's his IMDB page, and a video of a DVD collection that is a great little vignette of his work:

RIP Mr. Naschy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mess Off With Your Damn Ass-Kissing Academy Award Grab!

Alright. That's it. I've had it with hollywood biopics. Seriously, about half the films coming out these days are either biopics or remakes. Or sequels. And it's kind of depressing...nay, it's incredibly depressing.

Don't get me wrong. I love a well-done, interesting 'based on a real life' movie as much as the next guy (Milk was one of my favorite films of 2008, for instance), but it's become a bit outrageous just how calculated these films have become in terms of Oscar preparation and star-power. I mean, think about it for a second - how many actors/actresses have won best actor awards for playing a real life person just in the last ten years alone? The mind boggles. OK, now - try and think of ones who have won that didn't play a character based on someone in real life? Depressing indeed.

Just off the top of my head this year alone we have Julie and Julia, Coco Before Chanel, Che, The Informant, The Great Buck Howard, Public Enemies, Hunger, Notorious, and to a certain extent Watchmen.

What i prefer is a character that is wholly new and vibrant. Someone you've never seen before...someone unique and fresh and exciting. Anyway, it's just so prevalent that when I see new films arising, like Amelia, I just can't get excited regardless of the subject matter. I honestly can't help but think these types of films are made and conceived with the idea that it'll be an Oscar shoe-in and that's the sole motivation for plunking these tripe biopics in our laps every fall/winter without fail...but maybe I'm just being my usual pessimistic's just wait and see who's nominated for this year, though, and make our judgement then. I hope I'm proven wrong.


Since 2000:

Best Actress Oscar Winner
Julia Roberts - Erin Brokovich
Nicole Kidman - The Hours
Charlize Theron - Monster
Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Helen Mirren - The Queen
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose

Best Actor Oscar Winner
Adrien Brody - The Pianist
Jamie Foxx - Ray
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland
Sean Penn - Milk

That's over half the best actor/actress awards given to biopics...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great Expectations

Gee Whiz, two weeks between posts? Welcome to the den of lavish slackery and subtle procrastination. I guess one of the things about having a blog is actually writing in said blog on a regular basis. Gadzooks!

So, I'll take a moment in between my rash of other projects/workings to say a few words about a random topic: expectations. They are all around us. They affect everything we plan for, and often stuff we don't.

Think about it - how often do you say something like "that restaurant was not nearly as good as I thought it would be" or "the trailers made that movie look way better, man!" or even "that movie was WAY better than I was expecting"?? I, myself, hate expectations. I deliberately will not watch trailers or read internet buzz about a film if I think I'll like it. Honestly - I even close my eyes or switch the channel if a trailer comes on. I like to go in blind and with my own preconceived notions about the film...which most of the time translates into open-mindedness for even the most dismal-looking of films (okay, I admit that I had bottom of the barrel expectations for Zombie's Halloween 2, and it more than met them, but rules were made to be broken, no?).

So whats the deal, then? Why is this so? It is so freakin' random...I mean, some films you know suck balls, but are a fun ride anyway...and some films are critically lauded and you think suck balls. I suppose personal taste has a big influence on this, but I also think it's how we approach things in our day-to-day life that matter as well. I tend not to get too worked up, unless its something special (even Christmas is fun, but not so outrageously exciting as in my early youth)...and whether this is pessimism or just laziness is open to interpretation. ;)

Anyway, it's just interesting to me that if I put a highly-anticipated movie off, or if it takes it's time getting to North America, then the more time I have to stew about it and get my expectations up...and in turn, how disappointing it usually is...hence why I enjoy searching out the 'diamonds in the rough' more often than not.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Upcoming Flicks

Paranormal Activity (2009)


After a young, middle class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban 'starter' tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to.

Getting lots of buzz lately and touted (by fairly reliable sources) as being one of the scariest movies since Blair Witch - it certainly seems in the same spirit of BWP, so who knows???

Wednesday, September 30, 2009



Here's a good example of one of my least favorite types of film: the underachiever. This could have been so much more. The potential was definitely there, but it is so obviously an exercise of style over the point where the script needed a faux-trendy 'dark' animation to give it basic credibility. Oh, and how about we tack on a bunch of A-List actors to do the voices? Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer...and Crispin Glover? Youch guys.

It's pretty sappy, hollow and poorly written. Scenes jump around with barely an ounce of useful exposition or character development, and the most interesting part (the background of the little machine dudes and their creator) is glossed over and hardly touched upon.

But I guess it's nice to look at. The creativity is all squeezed out and stretched thin on the giant (and admittedly impressive) machine baddies, especially the frightening snake creature that captures the little cloth doll dudes and sews them into it's belly, only to regurgitate them later for the boss machine...and the cat-skull beast thing is also quite imaginative.

Otherwise, 9 seems like a film chopped to pieces in post-production. It's missing pivotal moments that may have taken away from the action, but would have served to connect the viewer most closely with the story and the movie as a whole.

Here's hoping for an uncut/director's cut version on the DVD...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Captain's mean, Director's Log...

I've begun taking a course in 16mm film production and I figure some reflections are in order. It's basically a boot camp in making a short film from scratch, with all the details on my lonesome shoulders. I guess I'll try and keep a bit of a log once I start actually filming the short I am intending to produce, but for now here's just some initial thoughts.

I suppose I bitch and moan and champion film enough that its about time I buckle down, shut up and make one myself. And while I am excited to be involved with the process and get my hands dirty, I know damn well the amount of effort and time this will take...especially since this is going to be filmed on 16mm, with all the post-production and editing and literal cutting-and-pasting to go along with it. Getting right in there and handling the film is about the most exciting propect I can think of, and translating my love of film into a creative outlet is something deep and meaningful for me at this junture of my life.

So what to film?

I am limited only by imagination, of course, but thats a decieving notion. Realistically, I am limited by budgetary and production constraints (basically, for this project, thats no money and about 20 minutes of 16mm film stock). However, within that framework, imagination is definitely key. It's not about simply choosing a topic or idea, but taking those constraints and turning them to your advantage. Some of the best films are made under pressure and with a limited budget. It forces directors to be creative. They can't just throw money into something hoping a solution can be bought and easily formed.

Obviously, I know what you're thinking - I'm going to film a horror flick. And of course I am! Something nice, short and tense. Something with minimal gore and loads of atmosphere. Something that reflects the true motivation of the best of horror films. The possibilities are endless...and I'm starting my script soon, so the masterpiece will soon be underway.

I'll keep ya posted. That's if you don't see me accepting my Oscar first ;)