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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top Ten Directors from 2000 on up plus one!

Is there anyone out there that I think is awesome today? Someone who didn't make a name for themselves making 1970s horror films. Here's what I came up with....

1. Chan-wook Park - This guy can do no wrong, he is a super freak.

2. Ryƻhei Kitamura - Give me a Versus, Godzilla: Final Wars, Midnight Meat Train triple feature any day of the week. This man is a rock star!

3. Alexander Payne - Election and About Schmidt are awesome. I feel jealous when I watch his movies.

4. Edgar Wright - One of those super geniuses, hate him.

5. Joss Whedon - Didn't really care until last year. Buffy never got me. Firefly got me interested. Avengers blew my mind.

6. Hayao Miyazaki - The imagination rampage in this dude's movies is insane. It's an insult to call it anime.

7. Michel Gondry - Man, I hate this guy. Eternal Sunshine just made me too mad to think.

8. Paul Thomas Anderson - Sure, I couldn't make it through The Master, but if Punch Drunk Love was playing on an endless loop on my TV, that'd be okay.

9. Brad Anderson - he's had some recent missteps, maybe going too mainstream. But Session 9 is wonderful, and Transiberian i watched then watched it again right after. He's a tie with Scott Derrickson, who makes really pretty movies.

10. Neil Marshall - Doomsday was the best time at the movies. The Descent (original cut) is the ultimate. This man is the mega mega. I will follow him to HELL!

11. Jim Mickle - He makes quiet textured little movies. They have strong characters and powerful scares. Mulberrry Street had me up and cheering, and that doesn't happen too often.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ten Random Thoughts on Day of the Dead (1985)

Mood Disclaimer: Good mood, saw this at the Plaza as part of the Splatter Cinema series. A very nice sized crowd came out, much bigger than Event Horizon. Shocker!

1. I have seen this movie one million times. But never in a theater. I was nervous. What if it didn't hold up? What if I am just too fried now to enjoy the obsessions of my childhood? Thank god this movie still "does it for me".

2. I always ranked this one right behind Night '68. Nothing can topple Night. It's a monster and iconic and the bottle that launched a million ships. It is impossible to imagine life with out NOTLD. But Day was always second. Now, having seen it big, maybe Dawn is better. Just because it has more boom bang. But I don't know, this movie still effects me in ways Dawn doesn't. Dawn is scarier. Day is just a freakish little story that gets under my skin.

3. MoFo Joe Pilato as Captain Rhodes is one of those force of nature performances that cranks this movie up all the way and blows out the windows. He is a tsunami of rage and frustration and maybe the single most electrifying performance in all the Dead movies. Take every John Wayne, Elvis Presley,  Eisenhower Military Industrial Complex stereo type and throw in some Baptist Fundamental Preacher and bake in a meth lab for 100 years and you have Captain Rhodes.

4. They knew they had no money on this one, so all the bing bang pow isn't from big action set pieces with lots of coverage and a cast of thousands, that stuff takes time and money. It's the performances that create the spectacle here. We are talking a cast of Jack Nicholsons from the last 20 minutes of The Shining. It all is pretty broad, like a really amped up vulgar cartoon. So that maybe why this one was more accessible for me growing up. Who knows, maybe when I'm old and grey I may like Survival of the Dead (haha).

5. Zombies are just people, the masses. They must be controlled and governed or eliminated. The scenes where the scientists and military are sitting around talking about what to do about us, um, I mean the zombies, well, I bet it happens all the time. Maybe we can gas them so they'll be nice to us and let us do what we want! Romero often says that zombies are the new order taking over. They are benign, not really evil or anything. I love how if it wasn't for the insane remnants of the old society, everything would be peace and love on planet earth. Zombies just want to hang out. They leave a zero environmental footprint. Romero is such a dirty hippy.

6. People complain that there is no one to root for in this one. And the problem is that Romero is a dirty hippy that sees society as broken, the old structures and bureaucracies as pointless, so sure, he's not going to make people representing that world very likable. If you are going to root for someone, root for Bub. Bub is the hero of this movie. He's the only one that goes through any kind of change. Bub is like an adorable innocent corpse who takes down the establishment. Dirty Hippy. At the screening, the audience poured love on Bub. The scene where he finds his dead dad was great on TV, but with an empathetic theater audience it was the best scene in the movie. Howard Sherman should have won an Oscar. The Dead movies are never on the side of the humans. It's like 2001, where by the end of the movie the only relateable character is a computer.

7. So what struck me this time seeing it, no longer being 13 and staying up until 2am to catch it, was how much I saw this as being about conflicting parenting styles. On one side you have the bully Captain Rhodes who wants to intimidate people into doing his will. And I get it, I've looked at my kids with that same manic frustration, felt that blood boil when they've knocked down my house of cards and won't conform to my dogma. I've had my Rhodes days certainly.

8. One the other side you have the calm, patient, intellectual Dr. Logan. He is so good with Bub. He has some of those new "fancy parenting ideas" where you talk to kids like their adults and reason with them and give them little treats when they put on their shoes when you ask them. Of coarse Rhodes sees Logan as being nuts. Replace "zombies" with "kids" and you will see the same shrill conversations going on right now on parenting message boards.Permissible parenting is going bring down the world vs spanking is for neanderthals. I don't think Romero is a spanker judging from this movie.

9. The other stand out performance is Tim Deleo as Miguel, the shattered dude who is not keeping it together. This freak is the love interest for our heroine?  Wha? That shows you how this movie doesn't play by the rules. The relationships are as dysfunctional and as poisonous as everything else the humans do. Try to find a positive portrait of a couple in these dead movies. Well, there is Tom and Judy in NOTLD. Yeah, that worked out pretty well for them didn't it.

10. This is the last independent movie Romero made in Pittsburgh. After this he has the half movie Two Evil Eyes, and then it was studio funding with Monkey Shines and Dark Half. After that he was snarled up in Hollywood politics for almost a decade. When there is no more room in development hell, the dead will go to Canada. And that is what happened. It's sad, but Romero could no longer get funding for movies here in the states. It became too expensive to shoot in Pittsburgh, so starting in 2000 with Bruiser, he has been doing all his stuff in the Great White North. It's a shame. At least he is independent again.

BONUS - I never noticed the Uzis on the gun rack in the little trailer home, that made me laugh.

SHOWSTOPPER - Rhodes, everytime he is on screen this movie goes into overdrive. His little marionette dance at the end is cinematic gold.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Ten Random Thoughts on EVIL DEAD '13

Disclaimer - Mood I was in: Great mood, just woke up and had four shots of espresso in my blood. Saw with some folks I hadn't seen in a long time at the AMC early 6 buck show. Everyone else was at Iron Man 3. Empty theater. All good.

1. I love that they added real life horrors in the mix. Insanity. Drug Addiction. Hopelessness in overwhelming odds. The breakdown of rationality. Infection. Sickness. On and on. These are the things that keep me up. Demon possession? Not so much.

2. This movie stands on its own. Is it as good as the original? Well no, but we are talking apples and oranges. As a slick Hollywood Horror film, this really stands out as something special. As an Evil Dead remake, that is holy ground and you are asking the wrong guy to be objective. As a direct sequel to the first one, bypassing the wacky fun of the sequels, this works for me.

3. It doesn't work when it tries to pull a Raimi. Raimi's movies operate in their own universe. By adding the real horrors to this movie, it grounds it in the real world and the tonal shift from Exorcist style supernatural drama to comic book shenanigans is bracing. I understand fan pandering, and some of it is subtle and appreciated. But otherwise, the movie is it's best when it does its own thing.

4. Lots of good ideas in this. The whole premise of them being in the cabin, having a nurse there, the family dynamics. All this felt fresh. I loved it. This was not Ash and the gang redone. It was a nice added touch of realism.

5. The exposition was clunky. One of the folks I saw this with groaned in pain. But that's okay. Exposition is tough. I was here to be scared anyway.

6. Ya know what? Maybe the burbs have made soft. Domestic life made me weak. But halfway through this I said to myself, "I am so scared right now". That never happens. The movie if nothing else works for me on that level. I wasn't just grossed out, more on that, I felt fear for the characters. My minds said to me, "I don't see how they are going to make the night". So I am a weenie. Fine. This movie made me feel dread, while most make me feel boredom. Thank you movie.

7. Something about grossness. Oh yeah. Thank you for showing me some state of the art grossness. The makeup looked gooood. Maybe perfect. And the ideas behind them. So good. I was in heaven. I wasn't repelled. I'm one of those wierdos that finds this stuff beautiful. The art and science of pulling off these effects. The lighting, the buildup, empathizing with the characters enough to feel it as it is happening. That is art dude. This was like a high art gallery show of grotesqueries.

8. The design of the book was top notch. I am so glad they didn't find it on a kindle or had their computer read a pdf file with it. It was a little stretch how they did read the evil spell that starts the terror, but it was alright. I went with it. I wouldn't know how else to do it. The tape player in the original was great. I like that in this one people have been scrawling notes in it over time.

9. The ending, people have been complaining, I was cool with it. I was mad for a second when the evil is revealed, but you know what, they redeemed themselves. Allegory city dude. At least they tried.

10. Lots of pain in here. Especially sensitive beard man. He gets put through the Campbell ringer.

Showstopper One! The talk out by the grave between the brother and sister. So good and the heart of the movie.

Showstopper Two!! Electric knife! That is the Evil Dead difference. You see the impact. You feel it. When you see it, you feel it. It ups the stakes. On a cutaway, you are not feeling what the characters are going through. I don't know. Maybe I'm a psycho.

What about that stinger: Unnecessary, see #2, but appreciated.

How are the end credits? Like an Olive Garden commercial directed by Hershel Gordon Lewis.

Pairs Well With: The Exorcist or Requiem for a Dream.

The old band back together, a lady asked if we were a support group!