viernes, 31 de julio de 2009

Interview with Brian Paulin, Morbid Vision Films

Brian Paulin is one of the most interesting and innovative filmmakers in the indie horror scene. In the past decade, he's made some original, and interesting films, letting his imagination not be crippled by his budgets. Films such as Fetus, Dead Girl On Film, Bone Sickness and Fetus show us that money isn't everything.

-For starters, how did you become involved with filmmaking in general? and what films would you say influenced you?

I became interested back in the late 80’s after I rented the Fangoria video Scream Greats: Tom Savini. I thought it was a just a behind the scenes look at horror films. I didn’t realize it was about the Carrer of a make-up artist. I instantly became obsessed with wanting to learn how to do special make-up effects and bought any book I could find. It wasn’t as easy back then as it is today to find information.
Once I started to learn how to do effects I became bored with just taking still photos. So I started talking with my friend Rich George about trying to shoot a short movie. We shot our first short in 1990 and have been making movies constantly ever since then.
The Evil Dead is my favorite movie so that had a big influence on me. Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento’s work as well. I’m also a big fan of Asian horror. The more over the top the better with movies like Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Mystics in Bali.

-I read your website about your early movies (pre-At Dawn They Sleep). What could you tell us about them and will they ever be seen by the geek fans like us?

All of our early movies are completely amateur. All we had back then was a VHS camcorder and I literally edited by plugging the camera into a vcr and hitting pause and record for every edit which was very difficult because old vcrs would take about a second before it actually started recording. Back then instead of telling actors “Action” I had to tell them “count to three, then go” because it was almost impossible to edit someone who started talking right after saying action.
But all of our early movies had make-up effects, gore and creature effects in them. I learned how to make movies as I went along and from my mistakes.
Once we finish BloodPigs I plan on putting together an anthology that will incorporate the first four movies. They will be used as torture devices. Kind of an in joke about how bad they are.

-Could you talk about your collaboration with Rich George? Seems like wherever you are, he's right behind you.

We became friends in high school. We both watched horror films and listened to death metal so we started hanging out. Rich was obsessed with horror films since he was a kid. He would show me movies I hadn’t seen, and I would give him new bands to listen to. When we started out we would joke around saying that Rich was Morbid Vision Film’s Bruce Campbell because he would received all the damage to himself. He was always the one to get covered in blood, or hurl himself down a hill or out of a tree.
I handle the writing, direction, and make-up effects side of the movies and Rich handles the set construction, securing locations, and he performs and coordinates the stunt work. He was on a stunt team for seven years before it disbanded.
-Would you recommend some sort of film education to anyone starting in films?

It depends on what they want to do. If they want a career in the film industry doing a particular job like lighting, production or cinematography then yes they should go to film school. If you want to make your own independent films then I think people should just pick up a camera and start learning by doing it. I’ve never set foot in a film school, but managed to get movies distributed worldwide and into large retail stores.

-Dead Girl On Film, to us, holds up a grand tradition about Horror and FIlmmaking put together. Films like Peeping Tom, Last House On Dead End Street, etc. Did the film, to you, have any meaning or message about the world of gore films?

To be honest, none of my movies have any meaning behind them. The stories I come up with are simply meant to entertain and what ever movie I choose to shoot just happens to be the idea that has filled my mind the most at that particular time. I had an idea about people making snuff films and wanted to turn it into a ghost story where the victim gets revenge after she dies. Dead Girl on Film was an idea I had to film to get it out of my system. It’s actually my least favorite out of my distributed films. It was made too fast and could have been much better and nastier.

-Bone Sickness is awesome, and I personally prefer the second version. how did the idea and development of the film come about?

Between 2000 and 2002 we had allot of people tell us they would like to see what we would do with a zombie movie. Back then zombie films were still dead so we decided it was the right time to go for it. But we had to do it right and make sure all the zombies were full prosthetic and completely rotted like the great Italian zombie films. And it had to be as gory as possible. While staying with a traditional look I also wanted to add a new element to the zombie story with the old myth of Ghouls and Goblins, where the Goblins inhabit the cemeteries and feed on the dead. But they become extremely angry when people begin to steal from their food source.
In 2004 we distributed Bone Sickness on our own until Unearthed Films became interested, but were concerned about how many sales we already did on our own. Since there we some effects I didn’t put into the first version because it took a very long time to film the movie, I offered to go back and film more gore effects for their version. It also allowed me to expand the Goblin story. So the first version can be considered our demo tape of Bone Sickness and the Unearthed Films dvd is the official release.
Unfortunately by the time Bone Sickness was finally released, zombies were big again and the market was completely flooded with crap zombie films made by small studios trying to cash in on the sub-genre. I think if we had released Bone Sickness in 2001 or 2002 it could have been a much bigger release. But it managed to rise above the filler and cash in films with it’s rotted zombies and over the top gore and has now been released in Germany and Japan, who’s distributor called it the #1 splatter movie of 2007! That was a dream come true.

-The gore fx in your films is impressive, to say the least. Could you tell us how you got involved in making your own fx?

Thanks! Tom Savini’s make-up effects were what got me interested and made me want to learn how to do this. At first I started making movies as an excuse to do effects. I learned through reading Savini’s Grande Illusions book and by watching the Michael Burnett Video series, which I think are the best instructional videos out there. I eventually took Dick Smith’s Advanced course and I continue trying new things. I find myself being even more experimental now because I want to make bigger creature effects but I have even less money now to spend on effects than when I first started.

-What did you learn from your experiences through Bone Sickness?

Everything clicked during the making of Bone Sickness and I realized what we are meant to do and who our target audience is. During Dead Girl on Film I had distributors filling my head with crap about not going too far and not ruining the movie’s chance of getting into retail stores. While making Bone Sickness I said to hell with all that, lets go as far as we can with the gore. And it turned out that Bone Sickness was given studio film treatment in certain markets because of it. But now I just concentrate on making movies that will please our hardcore gore audience.

-How did the idea of Fetus come about?

At the time I was waiting to hear from a distributor who wanted to fund a sequel to Bone Sickness. Months went by and I was sick of waiting around for them to make a decision. So I started making Fetus. The story came together from a few different movie ideas I had that all blended together perfectly once I thought of the premise. There was no script for Fetus. The story was created as we shot the movie. I knew what direction I wanted to go in, but scenes gained momentum as other scenes were shot. This is how I prefer making movies now. Allot of times what sounds good on paper doesn’t come across well on screen. Since we are completely self funded I can make movies this way and decide whether or not the ending works well half way through shooting the film.
It’s kind of strange that I started making Fetus out of frustration over waiting for the possibility of getting my first budgeted film. While the money people were wasting time I turned away and shot my own movie and it cost me hardly anything and ended being the sickest movie I had ever made and my personal favorite. Bone Sickness 2 fell through and I really didn’t think it needed to be made anyways. I knew Fetus was the right choice to go with and was going to be a superior movie.

-The storyline in Fetus is truly devastating, emotionally. Are you a believer that horror films should have a deep content to balance it's horrific aspects?

I think when horror films have deep content, the audience gets more involved in the story as it unfolds which makes the horror elements that much more powerful. Fetus has been given the best reviews that any of our movies have received and it seems to be because the movie has real characters in a very real situation many people can relate to. I like it when a horror movie has a complex story that you have to pay attention to because the story slowly reveals itself as the movie plays out.

-We personally are fans of yours, but how have the general public and other horror fans reacted to your films?

Before Fetus came out it was just indie horror fans that watched our movies. Bone Sickness allowed us more attention from zombie fans and the gore, zombie effects and stunts finally gained us some respect once people saw we were creating studio level gags with no money. I thought Fetus was going to stay completely underground and only be watched by hardcore gore fans. It turns out that many people I never expected to watch anything like this have enjoyed it because of the character story. Joe Olson who plays the medical assistant that gets his arm flayed open let a couple of middle aged women he works with borrow it and they loved it! His mother has even watched it twice and loved it! It’s really weird.

-What can you tell us about Bloodpigs?

BloodPigs is a post apocalyptic horror film that takes place 4 years after a bio-chemical attack on the US. Those that have survived have been forced back into the dark ages with no power or technology and need to resort to extreme measures just to survive. It starts out looking like a zombie film with a few living dead lumbering around. But as the movie progresses and situations get worse, some of the survivors become something much worse than the living dead. BloodPigs is the bloodiest movie we have ever made. We are spilling an insane amount of blood from the largest amount of gore effects I’ve ever put into one movie. The last half hour of this movie is going to be unreal. I tried my best to create an original film with a complex story with over the top sequences. This one is made in the style of Bone Sickness with fast paced action.

-How do you feel about people who criticize horror for it's violent content?

I could care less about anything these people have to say. Their opinions mean nothing to me.

-How do you feel about the state of horror films coming out today?

Most of the horror coming out of America now is pointless remake shit made by people with no talent whoring off the work that people with real talent made back in the 80’s. Or movies from small studio’s cranking out horror films as fast as they can and filling them with cartoon cgi bullshit.France is kicking some serious ass right now with their no holds barred horror! I think British horror as been excellent as well. And I have always loved Asian horror films. Japan and Korea are still making great films. I think horror is still going strong but, with American studios only caring about their opening weekend box office, it’s going to be a while before we see anything like the way it was in the early 80’s. We came close in the mid 2000’s before the pathetic remake craze exploded.

miércoles, 29 de julio de 2009

The Room

A really bad movie, or the greatest comedy ever made? Nobody knows. Conflicting stories between cast & crew mention that it’s either a real black comedy, or a failed drama. All I know is that this movie is ridiculously stupid, and it makes it hilarious as well. It’s a typical romantic triangle about Scandinavian-sounding Johnny, his evil bitch girlfriend Lisa and best friend Mark. Mark and Lisa have an affair, and Johnny doesn’t take it too well.

Like I said, I don’t know what to say about this, it’s either hilarious or just bad. It mostly takes place in a living room, there are like six sex scenes, are ridiculously boring and featuring clichéd bad music, and side characters and subplots appear and disappear without explanation. But the most hilarious part about the movie is Johnny himself. See, his voice is dubbed, and every line delivery is hilarious. Lines like “you’re tearing me apart” are given melodramatic delivery that would make Charlton Heston blush. The best part has to be when Johnny has his mental breakdown, and screams “Nooooo” and twists in his bed while thinking about his girlfriend and best friend having sex.

This movie has already achieved cult status, being celebrated as the best worst horror movie ever made. I believe that title should go to El Baron Del Terror, but this is pretty close. Watch it and be prepared.

Kiss Napoleon Goodbye

Wow what an oddity, kind of like watching the romantic triangle of Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou. Hedda and Neal are two lovers who purchase a mansion in the woods. He’s obviously unstable and is having some sort of sexual problem. It all goes bad when Jackson, an old lover of Hedda, moves in for a visit, and rekindle their relationship, sending Neal to the edge. This all intercuts with footage of Napoleon in the same house, and weird surreal images like two Asian lesbians, and a room full of rabbits, and a faceless naked woman urinating to a hot stove. All of this and under 35 mins.

This is not a bad movie, but I was definitely disappointed. I’m a huge fan of Lydia Lunch’s, from Teenage Jesus to her spoken-word work, she’s always been cool, but sadly this is not up to par with her work with Richard Kern. At least she gets naked again. Henry Rollins is good as well, but not exactly memorable. I think Lydia and Henry were really having sex here, at least it looked real. The sound is very bad, at least on the print I purchased from Cult Epics. I constantly found myself hitting the up and down buttons on my volume control again and again. The DVD features something better than the movie itself, some documentaries about Lydia herself! So this movie is definitely recommended for Lydia fans, but in the end it’s just not that interesting.

Rear Window

One of Hitchcock’s best films, and one of those films that show you the best things about Hitchcock’s cinema in general. Jimmy Stewart plays LB Jeffries, a photographer who sits in a cast in his home thanks to a little boo-boo in a race track. His days are spent trying to decide whether or not he should marry his girlfriend, the beautiful and rich Lisa (played by the beautiful Grace Kelly). He also spends his time looking out his window, and spying on his neighbors. Big mistake, as it so happens that he suspects one of his neighbors (played by a big fat Raymond Burr) of having murdered his wife!

Like I said, this movie encompasses everything that Hitchcock’s cinema is all about, featuring most of his typical themes. Sex, obsession, love, personal private investigating, the works. Jimmy Stewart is perfect in the role, humble and funny, easy to relate to. And Grace as well, I mean talk about a beautiful woman! I love the scene when she comes back from leaving the letter under Burr’s door. Stewart’s face really says it all about how much he loves her. The supporting cast is very good, for the most part. Thelma Ritter, who plays Stella, LB’s nurse, is her funny and busybody self, very similar to the role she played in Sam Fuller’s classic Pickup On South Street. Wendell Corey is also pretty good as LB’s detective friend, who just can’t believe his murder story. Georgine Darcy, aka Ms. Torso, is pretty hot. Sadly I can’t say anything positive about Raymond Burr. He’s a terrible actor and can’t get over his performance in Godzilla King Of The Monsters.

Hitchcock directs the film masterfully, going back and forth from the character to his environment, showing the importance of point of view in the story. I almost can’t believe that this was actually a set that was built, it looks like a real building! All in all, a great film, and highly recommended.

Cane Toads: An Unnatural History

So you’re probably asking, why the hell is this guy talking about a documentary about toads in Australia? I tell you why, because this is one of the most bizarre, hilarious documentaries ever made, that’s why! It speaks both in favor, and in hatred, of the famous cane toads from Australia.

The history of the cane toads is this: in the mid-30’s, the sugar cane industry was suffering a plague from a breed of beetles that were devouring their crops. During a sugar convention (that ran here in Puerto Rico!), it was decided that it would be a great idea to take cane toads from Hawaii and unleash them into Australia. Sadly, not only did the frogs not eat the bugs, but they also went on to breed so rapidly that in less than a decade they had become a plague, a plague that still continues on to this day. I love frogs and toads. I think they’re cute, and look like they pack a lot of attitude, and these are the biggest. The problem with these toads is that they’re very poisonous and can kill, since they squirt that shit like it was cum. By the way, this poison can kill a human being, so don’t put it in your mouth, moron. Another thing, if you extract the poison, you can actually use it as a drug and get high off of it. Wanna take the risk?

A lot of scenes were filmed to look like it was a horror movie, which makes it even more hilarious to me. You see babies and people dealing with the toads with the dramatic scary music. This is very recommended, one of the coolest documentaries ever.

The Wild Bunch

What could I say about this film that hasn’t been said before? One of the most violent films of all time, but also one of the greatest. Sam Peckinpah’s most commercial and well-known film, it deals with a group of old outlaws in the Wild West looking to pull off one last score, one for a General Mapache and his small army who are raping and pillaging the small Mexican villages. So they go after a train full of ammunition. From there, the action and the drama escalates, as the outlaws are forced to deal with their own code of honor, and the contradictions they present.

The casting in this film is superb. William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates and Ben Johnson all own their characters, giving them a humanity and sympathy that you normally wouldn’t feel for what are basically murderers for profit. And that’s something that should be noted as well: This film is VIOLENT! There are gunshots all over the place, with the squibs being big and full of the red stuff. Supposedly, the last shootout against the army has the record for most gunshots in the history of film, at least until Troma’s War came along. This was said by Lloyd Kaufman himself, so take it with a grain of salt.

This movie introduced the mainstream world to Sam Peckinpah, and the style that would come to define his movies is present as well. Gritty close-ups, and slow-motion gunshots abound. This is one helluva good film, and you shouldn’t miss it.

36 Pasos

One of the most original no-budget horror films I have ever seen, made by Spanish filmmaker Adrian Garcia Boglian (although by the actresses’ accents, I’d say it was shot in Argentina). Six girls are kidnapped by a weirdo family who force them to pretend that they’re happy and having fun in a very expensive-looking house. If they don’t keep the charade going, they get whacked in the head with a sledgehammer. Kind of like a psycho reality show for an audience of one.
As in most no-budget films, the cinematography is better than the acting, which goes from good to bad to good again like a weird circle. However, what makes the film as interesting as it is is how original it is. It’s also full of fun and energy, and cheap gore, the kind that makes all gorehounds grin. There’s also plenty of nude flesh, a must for this kind of movie. So I say give it a chance, and keep up an open mind.

The Double Life Of Veronique

Krzysztof Kieślowski is one of the greatest filmmakers in history. His Decalogue, and Three Colors trilogy are great examples of how much better it is to use images instead of dialogue when it comes to filmmaking. But as good as this films are, this is my personal favorite, for many reasons. The story deals with two women, physically identical and of the same age, one living in France and one in Poland. The Polish one is a singer, who dies of a heart attack during one of her performances. At the same time, the French double feels something is wrong, and it sends her into a journey of self-discovery.

As I said, this movie is incredible. The imagery is strong and impactful, the cinematography composed of greens and golds, and the acting is perfect. Irene Jacob is one of the most beautiful women to ever live, and one of the most talented actress in history. Her performance carries the film. The pausing, the watery eyes, her emotions just by using her eyes and giving us a smile, it’s just one of the greatest performances ever made in the history of cinema, and I believe it could rival the ones given by Maria Falconetti in Dreyer’s Joan of Arc and Anna Karina in Vivre sa Vie. Her performance, along with the cinematography, always reduce me to tears. This is the only film in history that I’ve ever seen that constantly reduces me to tears. So stop reading this, and go watch it already!

Weekend With The Babysitter

Billed as a sequel, this is basically a remake of 1967’s “The Babysitter”, done to be a perfect capsule of the 1970’s, and is in many ways superior to the original. George E. Carey returns as the love object of Candy, but this time he’s a movie producer/screenwriter instead of a district attorney. While he’s having an affair with the hippie Candy, his wife is on a drug binge with known drug dealers, stealing the boat that belongs to the producer. When the two stories mix, all sorts of shenanigans break loose. The drug dealers take the wife hostage, and it’s up to the producer and his gang of hippie bikers to save the day!

As I said, this movie basically reflects everything about the late sixties/early seventies mentality. While George E. Carey isn’t as interesting here as he was in the original, the actress who played Candy, Susan Romen, is young and beautiful, and the actress was supposedly sixteen. The music, the fashion, it’s all a perfect capsule. In the end, this is a really good, entertaining drama, and if you liked the original you’ll love this one even more. It’s the perfect continuation: same basic plot, but upping the ante by 100%. On a curious note, the director of this film is none other than ultra-hippie Tom Laughlin, who not only directed the original Babysitter, but also directed/starred in the four Billy Jack films. How’s that for awesome?

lunes, 27 de julio de 2009

Seed Of Chucky

The fourth sequel in the Child’s Play series, many people have found it to be a terrible film, but me, personally, I always found it a very good movie. It is a black comedy, and a good one at that. The spawn of Chucky and Tiffany (introduced in Bride Of Chucky) searches for it’s parents, and discovers them by finding out that Hollywood is making a movie about them. So he gets there and brings them back to life, and in their search to become real humans, they go after actress Jennifer Tilly (who also voices Tiffany).

There are many interesting themes that are at work in the film, mainly the one of taking parental responsibility. Both Chucky and Tiffany are happy to have a child, but with the thing having no sex organs, the conflict grows about whether it’s a boy or a girl, each one calling it Glen or Glenda, after the classic Ed Wood turd. So they try to bond with Glen/Glenda, but it all leads to disastrous consequences. Another theme is that of addiction. Both Chucky and Tiffany have ‘murder’ addiction, and like alcoholism, Tiffany believes it’s a disease. While Chucky keeps his homicidal tendencies in hiding, Tiffany fights it, even calling a help line with the fear of relapse.

It’s not all serious, however. Hell, it’s all done as comedy, and that’s just excellent. The first Child’s Play is a good movie, but I have to admit I prefer the black comedy of these last two films. I just never found Chucky to be scary. There is also a lot of good casting. Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly play their famous characters and play them well, and Billy Boyd (from Lord Of The Rings) is a good introduction to the homicidal family as Glen/Glenda. Victims include my hero filmmaker John Waters as a sleazy paparazzi, Redman as a perverted director version of himself, and the cute Hannah Spearritt, who’s set on fire and burned alive, something I wished on her during the time she was a part of S Club 7. All in all, this is a very entertaining film and a better one than you probably think.


Wow, what a disappointment. I had heard about this film many years ago when I first started looking at horror encyclopedias, in search of new and ‘rare’ films. I was finally able to track down a bootleg of this famous film, and boy what a turd. A psycho black widow dies in jail, and a doctor wants to experiment on something about bringing back her soul. Meanwhile, Carole Lombard shows up and who is getting possessed by the spirit. Add to this a medium who murders people with a poisonous ring in the object of giving the murderess’s spirit into Lombard’s body.

Even if it only lasts about an hour, its delirious to say the least. Something positive it has it that it features a lot of neat camera tricks, and it’s story was somewhat original at the time. You have to remember, this film came out in the first American horror boom in the early 30’s, competing with the early Universals and stuff like Jekyll & Hyde. Sadly it’s just not that interesting. The acting is atrocious from every part. Carole Lombard and Randolph Scott would go on to become huge stars, and give great performances in the future, but this early film of theirs is an embarrassment. Although I will say, when Lombard gets possessed, she acts a little bit more slutty and evil, and the movie gets a bit more interesting. But sadly, it’s not enough. And how come all the evil characters laugh in such an exaggerated manner? Talk about over-acting. Oh, and nothing worse than the drunken landlady character used for comedy relief. This was an ugly, ugly trend used in the horror movies of the period like Mad Love, Invisible Man and Werewolf Of London, and like those films, the character really sours the film. Too bad this one was sour to begin with. The ending is typical melodrama. Only for hardcore horror fans who want to see everything, like myself. If not, then skip it.

Good films to watch Carole Lombard in: My Man Godfrey, Mr. And Mrs. Smith, To Be Or Not To Be.
Good films to watch Randolph Scott in: Murders In The Zoo, The Tall T, The Spoilers, Ride The High Country.

Sadly, Lombard died right in the middle of her huge career from a plane crash in the early 1940’s. She died knowing that this turd wouldn’t be her most remembered role.

Sukiyaki Western Django

I’m a big fan of Takashi Miike, and this is one of his most entertaining films, for sure. While I was expecting a full-blown remake of the classic Italian western film, I was surprised to actually get a rather original remake of A Fistful Of Dollars, or if you’re a purist out there, Yojimbo. Still, the influence is mostly that of the spaguetti western.

Our hero is the typical ‘man with no name” that you see in those kinds of films, and the gunplay is fast and energetic, the hero being a great shot. The similarities with Fistful Of Dollars also come up with the bloodying up of our hero, who is taken care of in a cementery later on. Also involved are the two clans fighting in the same town, but unlike the ones in Fistful and Yojimbo, one good one bad, both are made up of evil, sadistic bastards. Our hero (played by Hideaki Ito) sides with a prostitute, a single mother who wants vengeance for the death of her husband. Allusions to Japanese history are placed in the two clans, the Genji and Heike, and their leaders are based and named on their real generals. There are other allusions to classic spaguetti westerns. The mud-filled areas remind one of the original Django, while the end, in it’s wide spaces of snow, will remind one of The Great Silence. My personal favorite part of the story, however, deals with the character of Ruriko, played by Kaori Momoi, who is something of a sword-play superhero. I’d love to see a prequel with her character. The cinematography is very beautiful as well. Miike has come a long way since Fudoh.

Choses Secretes

I have been giving a lot of praise to the films of Jean-Claude Brisseau, as you might have noticed from the recent blog entries. You’d be surprised at how disappointed I was with this film, which is actually one of his most celebrated ones. It deals with a young bartender and a stripper who are both ejected of their place of work. After knowing each other for a while, the stripper decides she’s going to help the bartender to ‘come out of her shell’, as one would say.

So, they dare each other to do the most scandalous things possible, from being half naked in public, to masturbating in public. They finally dare each other to join a corporation so that they can seduce their bosses and get ahead in life, but this all doesn’t go to plan. I’m not going to give you more details about the plot, but I have to say that it just wasn’t very interesting. Yes, it has the sex and the nudity of other Brisseau films, but it lacks the human aspect that made his previous films so damn good. The acting is average, although I will give a lot of credit to Sabrina Seyvecou, who plays the stripper, for being more emotional and enthralling. Watch it if you wish, but if you ask me, just pass.

Laurence Olivier's Hamlet

Here is Laurence Olivier’s finest moment, not only taking the Bard’s greatest play into perfection, but taking acting and directing to a brand new level, at least when it came to this kind of genre. You all know the story: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, thanks to the ghost of his father, realizes his Uncle aka The New King and his mother have conspired to kill his father by poison. And so begins a descent into madness that will take down the entire kingdom of Denmark with him. Of course this is just a bare bones introduction to the story, as it is quite a complicated and psychological story.

And it’s all reflected in the cinematography and direction, a triumph to say the least. It’s dark and claustrophobic, grim as hell, almost like a film noir transplanted onto a medieval period piece. And some camera tricks are excellent as well, particularly the appearance of the ghostly King, as we can easily see the influence of Murnau, as you could imagine this creature appear in Faust or The Last Laugh. And while this is definitely Olivier’s show, there must be a special mention to the rest of the cast, as they are all good. Jean Simmons, who I had last seen in Black Narcissus as the little slut Kanchi, is very beautiful and sweet, and her descent into darkness is truly heartbreaking. Eileen Harley, Basil Sydney, Felix Aylmer (who later appeared in Hammer’s The Mummy!) and Norman Wooland are also great as well.

Many people have criticized this film because Olivier ‘dared’ to re-write Shakespeare. I’m talking about the exclusion of two of Hamlet’s most popular characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I’m afraid I have to disagree with all the haters, since I found their exclusion unimportant and didn’t miss them at all. I also liked that Olivier dared to make the character even more crazier, and with something of an Oedipal complex, making it more enthralling when he does get worse. In closing, a great film, a perfect film, and the best interpretation of the Bard that has been done yet.

By the way, look for Peter Cushing, horror’s greatest actor, in the role of Osric.

Les Anges Exterminateurs

Do you remember the movie “Fatal Attraction”? Basically this is the same principle of story, only taken into the world of movie directors and struggling actresses. Based on something that really happened to the director of this film, it deals with a director named Francoise, who is making an erotic film. For this, he asks the women who audition for him to strip and masturbate on a bed. All is well and good when he finds three actresses for the role who are ready and willing, but things turn for the worse when he finds out there’s more going on, emotionally, with these two actresses than just accepting a movie role.

Like the previously reviewed ‘l’Aventure”, this is another great film by the underrated Jean-Claude Brisseau. Like his other films, most people dismiss them as pretentious films, or high-class pornography. Really, they’re neither, they’re just very realistic studies in human sexuality and the human brain, and I admire that about the French, that it all doesn’t have to be about giant explosions and superheroes fighting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if you’ve seen my blog you know that’s all fine and dandy, but it’s not the be all, end all, you have to be open to something different. And you should be open to his film, and especially to this one, since it’s his best. Very recommended.

Importance Of Being Earnest

Based on the famous play by Oscar Wilde, we know we’re onto something special right from the beginning. A theatre gets filled with people, and the curtain opens. So begins the movie, reminding us that this is an important part of the rich tradition of English theatre. It deals with two friends, John Worthing (played by Michael Redgrave) and Algernon (played by Michael Denison). John lives his life in the city as Ernest, away from his ward and family to live and love Gwendolyn, who’s the daughter of Lady Brackwell. Of course, Algernon finds out about this, and decides to investigate, even if it will cause some complications. This movie is hilarious, one of the best to come out of Ealing Studios, and a pretty damn adaptation with a great cast. The use of Technicolor is beautiful as well, making the colors, especially those of the dresses, jump out like a 3D movie. However, the thing that really makes this film incredible, and more than memorable, is the performance of Lady Brackwell, played by that Great Dame of the Theatre, Edith Evans. Every line she reads is over-the-top and every time she comes into the room, you cringe like it was your own mother-in-law. I dare you not to burst out laughing when she exclaims “A Handbag?!” when she finds out about John’s origins. Ms. Evans also appeared in a classic horror films like The Queen Of Spades and dramas like Look Back In Anger. Check it out, it’s an excellent film.

viernes, 24 de julio de 2009

The Babysitter

As we cinema fans know, the late 1960’s were a time of change and maturity for the American cinema. Taking it’s cue from the European New Wave, both Hollywood and the independents dared newer grounds, from Bonnie & Clyde and Easy Rider to Cassavettes’s Faces and Night of the Living Dead. This movie came out right during that time of change, and while it’s budget is even lower than in the previous two, it’s one of the most interesting films of the period for it’s frank depiction of sexuality, and the real attitudes of bourgeoisie couples. The biker angle do date it a bit, but it doesn’t affect how good this movie is.
It deals with a babysitter named Candy, who is very much a product of her time, being wild and sexually active. She gets involved with a district attorney, who is married with a woman who would rather play bridge than have a romantic night. Also involved are a biker gang where the district attorney is prosecuting one of their members, and his ‘old lady’ aka girlfriend tries to blackmail him when it comes out that both her daughter is a lesbian, and he’s having an affair with Candy. The movie is sleazy and sexy, with many beautiful women taking off their clothes and making out with each other. Yes, it’s all natural and all real, no silicone in sight.

However, it is the side of the district attorney and his wife, and their very sad marriage, that really took my interest. When he becomes more involved and sentimentally attached to Candy, he gets angrier and becomes more independent toward his domineering wife. This is a very interesting film, and recommended to all who are interested in how an exploitation film could reach more than what it is.


One of my favorite French filmmakers right now is Jean-Claude Brisseau. He is one of the ballsiest directors out there, making dramatic movies such as The Exterminating Angels and Secret Things. This is his newest film. It deals with a sexually frustrated young woman who goes out and has a couple of sexual adventures after meeting a psychoanalyst. And so she discovers the world of group sex and s&m, which don’t exactly fulfill her as much as she thought it would. Anyway I don’t want to give too much away, this is a damn good movie. Carole Brana, who stars as the lead, is obviously very beautiful, but I was surprised at how good she was, and vulnerable as well. The movie is slow and I could imagine a lot of people calling it pretentious, but I myself found it to be a very moving, interesting and original exploration on what could be considered “the myths” of female sexuality. High-brow porn or pretentious garbage? Watch it yourself and decide, and also watch the filmmaker’s other films!