June 2005, Issue #6
In all honesty I had never even heard of Frank Miller until Sin City, the movie, was released. I believe I'm speaking for many people and not just myself when I say that I am glad I did discover this talented writer. Aside from loving the film, I plan on dipping into the illustrated novels written by Frank Miller in the early 90's. I respect that the film was titled Frank Miller's Sin City, but I believe director Robert Rodriguez deserved more credit than he was given. Although every word, clip, graphic, etc were taken exactly from the comic and original illustrations, it would have never of transpired to film without the imagination and experience of Rodriguez. I do not care for all of his films ie: the Faculty, Spy Kids series (what was that?), I am still a fan of the director and his more popular work. I am a fan of his earlier efforts and now his latest. El Mariachi, Desperado, and the grand daddy of them all...From Dusk Till Dawn; these remain the directors classics, but a successful Once Upon a Time in Mexico paved the way for Sin City.
I woke up early Monday May 16th, I cashed my $16 income tax return and drove to the nearest AMC theatre. I went there with one purpose in mind, and that was to purchase my Episode III opening night ticket. I got the ticket easily, but was surprised that tickets hadn't been sold out yet. I later found out that there would be five screens showing the movie and that this would be one of the largest midnight (12:01) presentations of the final Star Wars film. In preparation for this film I watched the original trilogy followed by episodes 1 and 2. I had been bitten by the bug and was ready to see how it all ends. Being the final installment to the Star Wars series (as we know) I was saddened by the fact that I would never again feel the anticipation I felt for this movie..
When understanding this movie and why it will be great you need to know the history behind the director and the genre that he created. George Romero did not create or invent the "zombie genre" but he certainly made his mark in it. Over 20 years Romero created a trilogy of gut munching films that have spawned a cult like following. People gather around and watch the original Night of the Living Dead, followed by the masterpiece Dawn of the Dead (77), and ending with the gore-licious Day of the Dead. Fans have been waiting for this moment in history, when their taste buds could be livened by the warmth of rotting flesh. In a modern-day world where the walking dead roam an uninhabited wasteland, the living try to lead "normal" lives behind the walls of a fortified city. A new society has been built by a handful of enterprising, ruthless opportunists, who live in the towers of a skyscraper, high above the hard-scrabble existence on the streets below.
Writer and director Wes Craven has the esteemed position in cinematic history as having set the bar for American horror films for three decades. The "Nightmare on Elm Street" series defined supernatural horror for the eighties and a runaway box-office success. In the nineties, Craven's "Scream" trilogy took a post-modern, winking look at the glut of slasher films of the eighties (for which he was partially responsible). Despite his financial and critical successes, it was Craven's 1970's films that are his most challenging and arguably his greatest contributions to cinema.
films were an integral part of exploitation cinema in the 1970's. They
can been seen as one of the more colorful subgenres of exploitation films,
similar to the "nazisploitation" or "blaxploitation"
films each occupy their own niche. As with any successful concepts in
exploitation, cannibals became an almost inescapable force in film. Almost
all of the big name directors (mostly Italian) tried their hands at the
cannibal film, with varying degrees of success. Despite illustrious company,
it is Ruggero Deodato's 1979 film "Cannibal Holocaust" which
represents the pinnacle of cannibal cinema. Deodato had arguably kicked
off the cannibal boom in 1977 with "Ultimo Mondo Cannible" (most
commonly found with the titles "Jungle Holocaust" or simply
"Cannibal"). While this earlier film served as the template
for many future imitations, "Cannibal Holocaust" is a surprisingly
powerful film that stands head-and-shoulders above its competitors. Deodato
managed to create not only a cannibal film, but a striking work of social
commentary as well.
Master of the macabre Lucio Fulci is celebrated in this lavishly illustrated in-depth study of his extraordinary films. From horror masterpieces like The Beyond and Zombie to erotic thrillers like One On Top of the Other and A Lizard in a Women's Skin; from his earliest days as director of manic comedies to his notoriety as the man behind the banned slasher epic The New York Ripper. every detail of his varied career is explored.
In Lucio Fulci's genre classic Zombi 2, the dead rise once again to terrorize and consume the flesh of the living, this time Caribbean style! Those new to Fulci should note Island of the Flesh-Eaters, Zombi 2, and the more commonly known Zombie all refer to the same film. Though there is no Zombi 1, Fulci's film was titled Zombi 2 to capitalize on the commercial success of Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Though marketed as a sequel in Italy, the only similarities to Romero's classic are the title and the fact that the dead rise to eat the flesh of the living. Instead of being a metaphor for consumerism, Zombi 2 is a straight-out adventure story that ends in a horrific, apocalyptic nightmare. The plot is fairly straightforward, and more or less exists simply as a structure to hang scenes of extreme gore and terror on. Dr. Bowles's boat floats into New York Harbor missing its crew and carrying an undead passenger
The film stars Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parson as Vincent and Ida Smith, brother and sister who run the out of the way Motel Hello (the neon letter o at the end of Hello flickers on and off) and also produce locally famous Farmer Vincent's Smoked Meats, "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters." What makes their meats so popular? It's a family secret, but know it involves the kidnapping various passersby Vincent manages to ensnare in any number of traps he sets on the isolated road near the hotel. What happens to these unfortunate victims? Well, you really have to see it to believe it. I'll give you a hint...stay out of the `secret garden', by all means. After shooting out a tire of a couple on a motorcycle, an older man and a younger woman, Vincent takes in the woman, and with the help of his sister Ida, they nurse the woman back to health. The woman, who knows not of the peculiar methods in Vincent and Ida produce their meats, is thankful and even develops a relationship with Vincent, leading to impending nuptials. And what happens when she finally discovers their secret?
This is a rare and bizarre offering from the static but lovable Amando De Ossorio, displaying his familiar penchant for breasts, sadomasochistic whippings, and giggle-inducing special effects. Here we have a group of typically unaware individuals (archaeologists? photographers? I wasn't paying attention) who carelessly venture into a region of Africa haunted by the spirits of...well, I'm not really sure. A prologue shows us natives involved in a weird ritual, and a white woman who gets whipped and decapitated and then grows vampire fangs (on her disembodied head, which screams in damnation). A group of men dressed as typical safari clones arrive moments too late, which isn't surprising seeing as they take their sweet time while ignoring the woman's delirious screaming (which usually indicates an emergency). Anyway, the safari rejects blast the natives with their guns, then the story flashes forward to our beloved group of nincompoops who set up their homey little tents, presumably many years later.
The Premise: Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is called back to his small California home early from a conference because a number of his patients have been frantically asking to see him. But oddly, when he returns home, most forget about their unspecified needs. At the same time, it seems that a mass hysteria is building where residents believe that friends and loved ones are "not themselves", literally. Just what is going on? As of this writing, it has been more than twenty years since I have seen the 1978 remake of this film, so I can't compare the two at the moment. However, it would have to be flawless to top this, the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The sole factor that caused me to give the film less than a ten was the pacing during portions of the first half hour or so. While it's not bad, exactly, director Don Siegel does not build atmosphere and tension as effectively as he might have while the viewer is being filled in on the necessary exposition.
- Issue #6 is released
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Blood Feast Revisted