Monday, May 18, 2015

The Dark side of Hollywood part 1: Old Hollywood 1950s-early 1960s

Everyone no matter if they admit it or not has a fascination with Hollywood. As long as their were star's there has been a worship of them like the Gods and Goddess of Greek myth. We are going to look at a series of films that peel back the beauty, glamour and bright lights to show a more sinister side of the business called show.There are almost endless movies you could attach to this sub genre of films so I made some rules on what could and couldn't be on the list... Here are the reasons why maybe some of your favorites aren't on the list.

Comedies for the most part. Unless they have a real dark biting humor. Also films about people making amateur films such as "Man Bites Dog" or Last House on Dead End Street" also do not make the list. In the same vain no found footage films. Yes that means Cannibal Holocaust, while its a fan favorite and certainly one of mine it works outside of the construct of Hollywood therefore its not included. By the same logic indie film satires such as "Living in Oblivion" (1995) Films that are about the making of a real film (Hitchcock,Ed Wood, Shadow of the Vampire) are also excluded. And straight up documentaries such as "Overnight" as well. 

Dark Hollywood:  1950-55
Films focusing on the making of films as satire has been around since for a long time. In fact "Something to Sing About" (1937) is considered one of the first to satire film making. 

At the end of the second World War America was forever changed and therefore the kind of cinema people wanted to see changed as well.  

Enter the film Noir a film style made popular by early films such as The Maltese Falcon (1941) Laura (1944) and Out of the Past (1947)  Film goers wanted more gritty realism and to explore subject matters that pushed the limits of crime,sex and violence. Noirs was the perfect template to explore the corrupt side of what many saw as a very clean almost perfect place. Also keep in mind that the scandal machine and gossip rags were no where near what it is today and this would be decades before the internet.  For many people sitting in the dark theater these films really ripped apart the pre conception of a place where nothing bad happened and where all your dreams came true. But some dreams can turn into nightmares. 

Sunset Blvd (1950) Billy Wilder
Its an image etched into every film lovers brain. Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) the aging silent film doing weird hyper surreal almost dance like moves as she descends down the staircase, reporters and camera flashes all around her. Shes part glamorous vamp part movie monster. She then says one of the MOST misquoted quoted film lines ever "Mr DeMille i`m ready for my close up" Often quoted as "I`m ready for my close up Mr. DeMille"  This is the grand daddy of all meta Hollywood films, way ahead of its time. Strange even by noir standards this film never ceases to surprise and entertain. It features cameos by DeMille himself, Hedda Hopper,  Buster Keaton. just to name a few Also look for a very young Jack Webb. Dark and weirdly funny, not to be missed. Its rumored that Mae West was considered for the role of Norma. 

In a Lonely Place (1950) Nicholas Ray 
Bogart plays a down on his luck screenwriter embroiled in doomed romance and possibly murder in this Noir classic. Bogart's character is stripped down in the most bare and raw way unlike anything we've seen from him. Sure he's known for playing dark characters but Dix Steele might be his darkest. In one scene he almost beats a mans brains in with a rock (over petty road rage) had it not been for Gloria Grahame's character stopping him. He really gives a amazing performance under the helm of Rebel Without a Cause directer Nicholas Ray. I feel its one of his most underrated film roles. Only lately has it finally gained its place as a true Noir gem. Its easy to find on home video and I suggest you check it out.

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) Vincente Minnelli
Kirk Douglas plays a film producer who isn't very well liked. Mostly done in flashback a group of people explore how he "ruined" his life; but by the end they seem to realize maybe he wasn't such a bad guy after all. This is a case where the title does no justice to the film (sounding like a bad soap opera) Douglas is amazing as always in this self aware satire on Hollywood and its inner workings. There has been a lot of debate about which real life people Douglas's character was based on. Vel Lewton was one which is very obvious by the title of his first picture "Doom of the Cat Men" a clear reference to "Cat People" Its also thought to be a blend of legendary hot head David O Sleznick. Even Leo G Carrolls character is thought to be modeled after Hitchcock. In any case its a fun film for movie lovers.

The Big Knife (1955) Richard Aldrich
From the director of such films as "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955) and later "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962 and also on the list) comes "The Big Knife" based on play of the same name. Jack Palace plays Charles Castle a successful Hollywood actor who is manipulated by his studio boss to help cover up a potential murder in order to protect his own career. A very dark film that really opened the veil of how corrupt and corrosive the Hollywood machine could be.  Its at times very over the top but its still a lot of fun to watch. Look for a young Shelley Winters. 

1959-60s: End of an Era:  "Touch of Evil" (1958) is largely considered the last film in the classic Film Noir genre. America was embroiled in yet another conflict Vietnam (starting in 55') and like WW2 the films themselves were very much changing. Many grand epics that the studios were making were no longer considered "cool" by the growing counter culture that wanted films that reflected things they were dealing with. 1960 saw a landmark film that would help spawn not one but two sub genres. "Psycho" (1960) was a game changer and helped to create the "Psychological thriller" sub-genre as well as pave the way for the "slasher' genre" that would really explode on the scene much later. (but more about that later) A product of this can be seen in other films in our list (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane being a great example) That same year a film from Britain "Peeping Tom" would also explore similar themes yet unlike Psycho it makes our list for being set in the back drop of the film system. 

Peeping Tom (1960) Michael Powell 
First off "Peeping Tom" is a film about making films YET is the only one on our list to not be set in Hollywood. But I felt that this was such an important film that I would allow it anyways. Released at the same year as "Psycho" Powell's raw disturbing and dark humored "Peeping Tom" may be less well known as Hitchcocks film, but its a classic none the less and for my money is edgier and better than Psycho. So much has been written on this film that i`ll spare you a full review but simply put its a must see. 

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) Richard Aldrich
Similar in tone to Sunset Blvd. WHTBJ is a twisted,dark, funny and genuinely disturbing and often campy film. Its also over time has become something of a legend in Hollywood itself for the off screen hatred between its two bigger than life stars Bettie Davis and Joan Crawford. Many people have tried to do something similar but never has captured the magic of the film, its truly one of a kind. So if you've never seen it I suggest you not watch any of the remakes, parodies etc, just go in fresh and experience it. This film was so successful that William Castle  went on to use Crawford in another horror film "Strait Jacket" which is also A LOT of fun. 

That is part 1 of this multi-part series. Hope you enjoyed and please leave feedback.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

British Spotlight Amicus: And Now the Screaming Starts

The second film in our series to Spotlight British Horror is another Amicus film.

Title: And Now the Screaming Starts

Year: 1973

Written By: Roger Marshall and David Case

Directed By: Roy Ward Baker

Plot: The year is 1795; England. Charles Fengriffen and his brand new bride to be move into his Castle estate. She is interested drawn to a series of family portraits. One in particular seems to catch her eye, that of Charles Grandfather Henry Fengriffen. It seems to cast some sort of evil possession over her. The two marry and what should be the happy ending to their fairy tale is just the beginning of a nightmare that includes being sexually assaulted by a evil spirit.  

The early sixties through mid seventies were a turning point in horror cinema in both America and Britain. With films like Psycho (1960 US) Peeping Tom (1960 UK) Repulsion (1965 UK) Monsters and ghosts were no longer in vogue; now ticket buyers wanted to see real life boogeymen. "And Now the Screaming Starts" goes way against the budding psycho thriller genre (and soon to morph into the slasher sub genre) and hearkens back to a more moody Gothic style period film which Hammer did so well themselves in the 40s-60`s.  I only recommend this film for those who like these types of films. For those horror fans only looking for gore and tits, this will not entertain you. Even though I love the splatter film as much as the next, I do also enjoy these types of films that sadly are rarely if ever made anymore. So with that out of the way lets get into the review! 

Its not often when you have a film about a ghost that rapes a woman, due to a revenge curse. Even by today's standards its a pretty far out plot.What could easily have been a hot mess thrives under the helm of veteran director Roy Ward Baker. He never once hams it up and keeps everything dead pan. It also helps that you have a clever script by Roger Marshall and David Case (uncredited) They weave a mystery with a horror twist that keeps the audience guessing until the end. There is never a dull moment to be had. 

I`m always so floored by how these British productions could really make a film look great on a small budget. This is no exception. The amount of detail in the sets is just stunning and it really makes you feel like your in that time and place. 

The effects are pretty impressive for 1973. For example through out the film there is a crawling hand. It might seem very low tech but think about it, this was pre-CGI when you had to come up with everything live. I think its very effective in being creepy. The ghost of Henry Fengriffen is pretty damn freaky looking without going super silly. 

Denys N. Coop the legendary D.P of such films as "The Third Man" & "Lolita"lends his skills to this film and the results is some very inventive camera work that really helps ground and give polish to a very strange script. Also It just adds to the feeling of spooky dread layered through the story. It also helps when you have such an amazing cast. Screaming has a wonderful collection of English character actors. Peter Cushing, Patrick Magee (Clockwork Orange,Barry Lyndon) Hebert Lom (Pink Panther movies) Guy Rolfe (Dolls, Mr. Sardonicus) Janet Key (The Vampire Lovers,Dracula A.D 1972) just to name a few. Its always great when a film can cram this many great actors into one project. That alone makes it a must see for fans of British horror. It is sad that Peter Cushing's character is not used more, but even still his time on the screen is always powerful. 

And The Screaming Starts can be seen as a sort of time capsule of a film. It is one of the last great Gothic period films, with moonlit nights, castles, creepy cemeteries etc. To give you perspective, it would be a mere year later when the "face" of horror would change forever with Tobe Hooper's horror opus "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) and 4 years after that "Halloween" (1978) It may not be as sexy and bloody as some of the later revival Hammer period films, but it is a interesting story with a great cast which I still fill holds up well after more than 40 years. 

TRIVA: If the Fengriffin Castle looks familiar it was used in many horror films but most famously in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

British Spotlight: Amicus Productions: Asylum 1972

Gorehound Mike`s British Spotlight on Amicus Studios

 When one thinks of British horror most fans will think of Hammer the legendary studio that revived many of Universals stable of monsters. They gave horror a certain class and charm without skimping on the nasty. During Hammers glorious run another British studio was also making mayhem, with titles you no doubt are familiar with. The studio was Amicus.  Stars like Christopher Lee,Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt also worked on there films giving Hammer a run for its money. While it`s not as famous as Hammer it still produced some very interesting horror gems. 

Will be looking at a series of films from this company and hopefully unearth some horrors you can enjoy!

A few notable films of the studio:
Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror,The Skull, From Beyond the Grave etc. 

Title: Asylum (aka House of Crazies) 
Year: 1972

Directed by Roy Ward Baker, Patrick Magee

Written by Robert Bloch (Writer of the novel Psycho)
Since this is an anothlogy i`m going to review in break downs of the stories. 

It was actually through the website Trailers from Hell that I discovered this tucked away gem and to my delight Dark Sky Films had put out a nice boxset of Amicus horror which includes And Now the Screaming Starts and the Beast Must Die. In the bottom of the blog I will post a link to the trailer and if you havent checked the site out its amazing and you can pretty much spend three or four days straight just watching trailers (with commentary) It has since turned me on to a few films that i`ve really enjoyed. 

Framing Story: Plot 
Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) arrives at a rather sinister asylum "for the incurably insane" for a job interview. Dr.Rutherford (Patrick Magee) who is wheelchair bound explains that he recently suffered an inmate attack and that the the former chief and head of the asylum Dr.B Starr is now a patient. He makes him a very strange deal, interview the patients and if you can guess which one is Dr.Starr you are up for the task and can have the job.  It seems bizarre but he agrees and begins interviewing the patients.

The framing device sets the mood wonderfully using the score "Night on Bald Mountain" which any horror fan will be familiar with. Patrick Magee (best known for Clockwork Orange) is great as always, he really sets the tone for what your about to see. Its one of the more interesting framing (or wrap around`s) to an anthology. 

Frozen Fear: Bonnie (Barbra Parkins) the first patient recalls the events that brought her to the asylum. She and her lover Walter (Richard Todd) plot to murder his nasty rich wife Ruth(Sylvia Syms). But it just so happens Ruth has been studying voodoo in her spare time and wears a charm around her wrist. Needless to say things don't work out for the two would be murderers.

The first segment is by far the cheesiest but its also a lot of fun. The actors never play it tongue and cheek, even though i`m sure it would have been very hard not to laugh during the take. Its not very long but it delivers just enough of wacky horror to leave you wanting more.

The Weird Tailor: Things are looking rather grim for an old tailor named Bruno (Barry Morse), who is past due on his rent and is facing the very real possibility of being on the streets. But as if by some miracle he is soon visited by a mysterious gentlemen known only as Mr. Smith (Peter Cushing) who wants a suit made. He quickly learns Mr.Smith wants a very special suit made with a strange glowing material and that it must be made only strict guidelines. Bruno is offered a handsome price for the suit and he cant say no. But it seems he might have just made a bargain with the devil. 

By far the best segment. First lets talk about how great Peter Cushing is in this. He really brings a powerful performance and sells the story and his character motivation. His sheer presents is unmatched and he knocks it out of the park. The story is also amazing,with twists and turns aplenty and a ending that will knock you for a loop. Baker also does some brilliant work with creating mood with lighting, its really a shame this couldn't have been stretched for a whole film. 

Lucy Comes to Stay: Barbara (Charlotte Rampling) tells her story of coming back to live at her home with her brother George (James Villers) and a live in nurse Miss Higgins (Megs Jenkins) after being in a asylum. We quickly find out she has a friend Lucy (Britt Ekland) who has a talent for getting her into trouble. 

We come down off the high of the "The Weird Tailor" to Lucy, which is actually the weakest in the film. The only real draw in this tepid psycho drama is Britt Ekland who is best known for her role in The Wicker Man 74. But even Britt amazing star power cannot save the story which is very limp and anyone with a half a brain can guess the outcome.

Mannikins Of Horror/Epilogue:The final segment and wrap around strangely blend into each other so its hard for me to sum up without spoiling the ending so i`ll give you the short version to keep the surprise. Martins final interviewee is Dr.Martin  who has a collection of dolls that he plans to bring to life. 
I like how this strange final segment blends nicely with the wrap around. It doesn't have the bang one would hope but its interesting enough to be entertaining none the less. 

Overall:  Asylum is one of the better anthologies and despite some weak points its wildly entertaining with some fine British actors, who never ham it up despite the off the wall stories. It easily ranks up there with other films from the studio like Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horrors etc. As stated you can find this in the Amicus boxset from Dark sky films. 

Trailers from Hell:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Exists: The Big foot Project

Title: Exists
Directed by: Eduardo Sanchez

Minor spoilers ahead- Nothing major but you may want to see the film first. You`ve been warned.

First let me start off by saying I`m a fan of Eduardo Sanchez. I really enjoyed Blair Witch and I thought Altered one a sorely underrated gem, considering its difficult to make an alien film not cheesy even on a high budget let alone a low one. But with a clever script that includes great character development and off beat humor mixed with some good gore it pulls it off brilliantly. When I heard he made a Big Foot movie I was really excited to see what he would bring to the monster of myth (depending on how you ask)

Plot: A cabin in the East Texas woods seems like the perfect get away for a group of kids, whose sole plan is to bike, paint ball and make videos. As the group is driving to there Chainsaw getaway they hit something but figure it was just a deer and continue on. The first night they hear strange crying and howling which they ignore. As the vacation progresses they quickly discover there is a hairy beast stalking them. Things go from worse to fucked when there car is wrecked, no phone signal and nobody knows they are there. Its man versus mythic beast in a savage battle.

Exists is a case of a decent movie that with more care could have been something really great.Lets talk writing. The five kids are standard horror stock (jock,stoner,air headed girl etc) which is so over used its a thing of self parody. With that being said the two most interesting characters are the two guys Todd (Roger Edwards) and Brain (Chris Osborn).  Todd starts off as a bone head jock type but takes on the role of level headed leader when the things go ape shit. Brian the stoner starts out as this goofy hipster, getting high and making Big foot calls late at night, but he to also matures and at one point is about to light up a jay and decides not to. Alas as good as this is its never taken far enough and you never feel like the character arc`s are taken to completion. Like Brian he was half baked.

To make things worse this film isn't sure who the hero is. At first Todd takes the role while Brian (the more interesting of the two) has nothing to do for a good chunk of the film as he is filming. This is fine until we the audience has to shift from Todd as the hero over to Brian. The girls roles are terribly written with nothing to do but bitch,cry and scream. This isn't to suggest they are bad actress`s they just do not have much to do or character substance. At one point Elizabeth (Denise Williamson) is basically written out towards the middle of the film (guess she wasnt important anyways) Had the writer taken more care with characters it would have helped this movie a huge deal. I`m actually surprised because Jamie Nash who previously wrote "Altered" also wrote this. Also some of the dialog is just cringe worthy,Todd has some gem on liners. "Shut about a Sasquatch" direct quote.

The other problem with this film (and its a big one) is its a found footage style film. Now i`m curious why he chose this format when you know it will be compared to I dunnoo say BLAIR WITCH! This style is lazy and has more than tired itself out (ironically mostly starting with TBWP) and as I mentioned above totally cuts out an important character out of the film.I`m sure Eduardo wasn't going for a Blair Witch feel its very hard not to compare the two (again the footage style doesn't help)
You almost expect to see twig man and piles of rocks everywhere. The problem with this and other Found footage films is just simple logic. Would you REALLY be filming during all of this? Its not as if they were there making a documentary and the sole purpose was to capture everything.

So now for what I enjoyed about Exists. The pacing is brisk, wasting little time before eerie things are a foot or big foot in this case. Its clear that Eduardo has a grasp at creating tension and using the shooting locations to set a certain mood. I like the restraint he shows in only giving us slight glimpses and sounds, letting us the audience fill in the blanks with our minds, until it builds to the actual creature. Speaking of, in a Big Foot movie the one thing that has to be awesome is of course the monster and Exists does not disappoint in well done ape make up. A true test is when you see the beast in the sunlight, which as you know hides nothing. Yet it still holds up as a believable living creature. Its also worth mentioning the actor inside the costume Brian Steele for bringing a real fury to the part.

Also there are some great visuals like the bike being tossed into the cabin like it was a paper doll. Its a jolting moment that makes an impact. I was kind of sad that the tree sticking out of the top of the car was not used (as in the poster art) but it does end up in the film in another way. Still a striking image.

Exists is a fun movie with some gripping moments despite its short comings, yet I cant help feel frustrated at thinking what this movie could have been had the writer taken more care with the script and more importantly the characters. Also if they would have opted out of the over used found footage sub genre. Its not an unwatchable movie and in the right frame of mind its quiet enjoyable. But its not great either. It seems finding a really good Big Foot movie might be as hard as finding the actual monster of legend himself. This reviewer might have to track down "Willow Creek" next.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Director Jeff Burr Exclusive Interview Talks Leatherface and beyond

Jeff Burr is one of those rare directors whose career is so varied never being held to one genre. And even though he will always be known for titles like From A Whisper to a Scream (The Offspring) Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III etc he has done many other great films like the wonderfully off beat drama "Eddie Presley" which earned him both praise from the critics and awards to match. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. It features maybe the best cameos of all time Bruce Campbell and director Quentin Tarantino working in a mental ward. With the release of "From A Whisper To a Scream" on blu ray from Scream Factory director Jeff Burr sits down with Gorehound Mikes and talks about his films and actors he`s worked with. 

GM: Leatherface Texas Chainsaw III is less over the top than TCM 2 in terms of both style and performances. Was that a studio decision or was that a style choice of yours or abit of both?

JB: The first film was more real and the second one is as far as that as you can get. The candy colored over the top satire of 1980`s America and had a very recognizable actor Dennis Hopper so I feel that the third film falls between the poles, kind of in the middle. Unfortunately its not as over the top as number two so its not as memorable and certain not as scary and real seeming as the first one. The other was that it was shot in L.A which I do think it gives it a totally different air than if it was shot in Texas because all the other sequels were shot in Texas. Its a big different because Texas is its own country if you will.

GM: I think its one of the underrated horror sequels

JB: Well when I say it falls between the poles I think its the identity issue. Ok you have a new family but their not so different from the first family. To me it didn't have enough personality to really stand out from number two. And it was a much lower budget movie. 

GM:  I heard you had problems working with New Line?

JB: I feel on a corporate level you cant re create the circumstance`s from the first movie the only want to make that movie was independently otherwise its not going to be that movie. Leatherface was always a corporate movie and at New Line they had there own ways of doing things. You could only go so far in terms of the production so that influenced everything.  Honestly the line producer and I didn't get along, I think he dismissed me from day one so it was not a good relationship on any level. 

GM: Hard shoot?

JB: It wasn't the toughest shot I`ve ever had but it was a last minute film and it would have been a much film if the MPAA and New Line didnt get involved. But it delivered more of what it was suppose to deliver, it was never going to be a classic it was an unfortunate thing all the way around but ultimately its my still my most known movie which is kind of depressing twenty five years later. I am very proud of some of the stuff we were able to get on the screen. I`m also really proud of the cast. 

GM: Which leads me to my next question, having worked with R.A before had you always had him in mind to play Leatherface? 

JB: Absolutely yes I did. Basically in a sense I felt obligated to Gunnar. I had met him and he had not been in number two and I felt I should offer it to him. So I offered it to Gunnar and I thought it would increase awareness of this movie and I thought since the title was Leather and having the quote unquote real Leatherface would be a perfect marriage. But unfortunately he wanted more money than what New Line was willing to pay and what he wanted wasn't out of line as all it was absolutely a fair figure. So once Gunnar was out of the picture I went right to R.A and hes he just gave it 100%. We had to jump through a few casting hoops. Even if I said this is the guy Bob Shaye would still have to sign off on it. But he got it and everyone loved him. 
JB: I love horror films but they aren't the only kind of films I want to make. Just like Vincent Price he didn't want to only make horror films. But with that movie it was defiantly a direct response to having done Leatherface i`m sure. It (Eddie) was an independent movie and I developed the script, found the project and shepherded the whole thing. It was a project that meant a lot to me and i`m sure every directors got one or two of these kind of projects, the ones you put your heart and soul into but nobody saw it. But its out there and it can be seen and that's the victory. Theirs a special edition DVD out and hopefully it will be on blu. Its one that makes me smile every time I think about it.
GM: The blu ray of From a Whisper to a Scream just came out. What can fans look forward to seeing from this release?
JB: I`m not good at shameless self promotion but in this case I have to say this is one of the best packages for a blu ray of his type, a low budget independent movie from the 80s. I cant think of any better blu of a movie in terms of the whole package, the transfer and the supplements. My goal when I was putting together the supplements was to never have to speak about this movie again. In other words any information you would ever want to know about this movie is on the blu ray.  

GM: The blu features some really awesome documentaries.

JB: There is a prequel to the documentary its called "The Decade Under Innocent" its all about my childhood in GA and the people that influenced me, my super eight movies. Its kind of the real J.J Abram`s "Super Eight" without the alien sub plot. Both documentaries are feature like. "Return to Oldfield" is about two hours long and I save everything creative wise and in this case i`m glad, so much behind the scenes stuff. Danial Griffin really master minded the whole thing he produced and directed the two documentaries, he was the real creative force behind it all i did was supply stuff but he really shaped everything. He did a wonderful job. On the documentary "Return to Oldfield" it also pays tribute to my brother who produced the movie and he passed away a couple years ago, so we wanted to do the definitive documentary in honor of him, the movie wouldn't exist without him. Between the commentaries and the documentaries its everything you`d want to know about the movie.  Its a capsule of my life up to age twenty four. Its a very very special thing for me to have out their. 

I`d again like to thank Mr.Burr for taking the time to talk to our readers. And check out the blu ray which has some amazing features. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Double: Nightmare Logic

While looking for a movie to rent I came across "The Double" the plot sounded interesting and the label Magnolia normally has some pretty weird indie films so it seemed like good or bad it would sure to entertain. I kept my expectation low but seeing how it was directed by the brilliant comic actor/director Richard Ayoade I knew I was in for something different. Oh boy was it ever.

I recommend this film- with reservations. Like early Argento this film is based on something called "nightmare logic" in summary don't look for anything steeped in reality because like a nightmare it plays by its own set of rules. Some viewers like myself will love this and let themselves be swept away by its walking nightmare of set pieces. While others could become frustrated by it if they are not familiar with this form of cinema. A lot of David Lynch`s films are based in this nightmare world. So decide which camp you fall into before seeing this film.

Simon is a feeble young man, just another faceless cog at his job. While he is a hard worker he seems to just fade into the background.  He lives in a world of isolation, no real friends, a mother that loathes him and the girl he loves doesn't seem to know he exists. Basically nobody seems to know he exists. But his world is turned upside down when a new employee joins the work force that looks exactly like him in every way. Soon he worms his way into Simon's life and takes over, replacing him.

What makes The Double so powerful is how its relate able the Simon is. Ayoade captures the character so well, his loneliness and trying so hard to improve his station in life both at work and his personal life. We really want this guy to come out alright because we can see aspects of ourselves in him. It also taps into some primal fears like death and ultimately being replaced and forgotten about never making our mark in life. Simon whose played by Jesse Eisenberg does a nice job of both playing the tortured character as well as his evil James. People that bitch about his acting needs to realize how hard it is to not only play a character like Simon but also play his alter ego James and juggle between the two.  Hannah the object of his love is played by Mia Wasikowska and though she plays things very wooden it actually works for her character. She isn't written very likable which is my one complaint about the film but more about that later. Wallace Shawn whom is best known for his role in Princess Bride is perfect as Simon's boss. Chris O Dowd has a funny cameo as a nurse. Film fans will also notice a lot of interesting actors like Noah Taylor, Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull,etc)

The world of Double is equally interesting. Though it never says (wisely) the audience is to assume by certain clues that the story takes place in a future or possible alternative past/future. Its dated technology and unknown currency helps lend to the strange feel. Like Blade Runner its the future but a broken down one.

Is this a perfect film no. While I enjoyed the writing I thought Hannah`s character was not very appealing which makes you wonder why Simon would pine for her in the first place.

Visually this film is stunning and without the style that the filmmakers took great care to craft this would have been a total wreck. David Crank is the production designer and his past film credits are small but very impressive (Lincoln, Hannibal, There Will Be Blood etc)  I love the color scheme an example is inside the agency Simon works at. The cubical area has this weird yellow hue that makes it feel like a very oppressive place to work. Another scene that just floored me in terms of pure nightmare was the midnight funeral which is something you`ll likely to forget, as it stuck with me days after.  

While this isn't a film for everyone I think its worth a look at. I really hope this film finds its audience and takes it place as a future cult classic.  Currently streaming on Netflix.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Scares that Care: Alfred Guy speaks about this awesome charity.

I`d like to take a break from the normal reviews and interviews to talk about a charity that is really near and dear to me. Scares That Care is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help kids in need. Some of the ways the help include providing needed money, toys and other items. They have  been doing some exciting things to raise money like auctions with some really great signed items and even a convention. They accept donations and I for one was happy to give. Here to talk about it is Alfred Guy the Volunteer Director and member and Board of Directors. 

GM: So for those you don't know what Scares That Care is please tell us about it

AF: Scares That Care! is an official 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization. Our charity was created by our founder, Joe Ripple, to help children and families cope with the financial burdens of during life changing events, such as illness, burns and breast cancer.I should point out the reason why it seems that we are involved with horror related themes. It is because Joe Ripple has been involved with horror conventions and the wonderful fans and guests that frequent them. He wanted those who have a love for all things spooky, to have a charity that they could call their own

GM: You guys do a lot of cool things to raise money, tell us about some of them.

AF:We have several $5 Donation Days each year. We especially like to have them coincide with Halloween, a Friday the 13th or other "spooky" time of the year. We have representatives around the country who get involved by doing everything form bake sales and car washes, to having "Zombie Walks" during events in their cities. We also do silent auctions throughout the year to raise funds for the people we help. Our biggest event is our horror convention, Scares That Care! Weekend.

GM: And there is a convention coming up, the ticket price goes to charity?

AF:Yes. Our total revenue from ticket sales and the auctions and raffles held during the convention will go to Scares That Care! After the convention, the monies will go out to the people we have picked as recipients, and that announcement will go out on our site and (Facebook) pages. We have one recipient for each arm of our charity. Their information can be found on our (Facebook) page.

GM: Who is scheduled to be there?

AF:We have several genre favorites, such as, Kane Hodder, Piper Laurie, Larry Drake, Dee Wallace, Sid Haig and Tiffany Shepis. We will also have a Make Up Wars event with guests form Face Off and an authentic burlesque show for the adults. There will also be several genre authors present, such as Brian Keene and F. Paul Wilson.

GM: In summary what would you like to tell our readers about this great cause?
Yes. First, I hope that everyone who reads this will consider attending our convention this summer. And last, sometimes people want to lend a hand to those who need support - and they don't know how to get started. If anyone out there feels this way, please contact us and we will be glad to help you, help others! Thanks!

And thank you for taking them time to talk about such a great cause! Please visit the website and check out how you can help. Check out the convention website! Its going to be a awesome time no horror fan should miss. 
Scares that Care logo used with permission