Thursday, November 18, 2010

Larry Blamire Announces 3rd "Lost Skeleton" Film


Larry Blamire has just announced that he is starting on a 3rd entry into the Lost Skeleton chronicles, titled "The Lost Skeleton Walks Among Us."


While Blamire has spoken against chaining a bunch sequels onto a franchise, he also seems to be a fan of great ideas, so for now I'll just trust him on this one.

More info as it becomes available...


I sleep now!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Best Worst Movie Released on DVD

If you missed out on the excellent and award-winning documentary, Best Worst Movie, as it toured across the country, now's your chance to fix that.


You might not expect the stories of the creators and cast of Troll 2 to be extremely interesting and engaging, and if that's the case, you'd be wrong.

While it may not mean much to say that Best Worst Movie is better than Troll 2, it's definitely true. Be sure to not let this one pass you by.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Troll

I'm always amazed at just how many Gremlins "inspired" movies came out of this period. At some point people figured out that when you make your monsters the size of children and kind of cute, you can make them appeal to a much wider audience than your run of the mill creature-feature. Gremlins proved this to great effect in 1984 and a year later, Ghoulies proved that this was indeed a winning formula. After a few Ghoulies sequels, the guys behind that film decided to try something with a fantasy angle, and what we ended up with was Troll.

I'll do my best to run through the odd plot quickly. As I recall, Troll is a Harry Potter fan-fiction about a time in the 80's when a middle-aged man named Harry Potter (Michael Moriarty) moves his family into a new apartment building.


As it turns out, the building's full of little singing monsters...

...and naked Julia-Louis Dreyfuses...

...so it doesn't really turn out to be a smooth transition for anyone involved.

Luckily, Potter's son, Harry "Atreju" Potter Jr. drops by to save the day with his golden spear and the help of Eunice, his elderly accomplice... but only after he gets beaten up by a little girl.

Pictured: Action-heroes

If that sounds awesome, it's because it is. Troll turns out to be much better than it has any right to be. The main reason is the great ensemble cast and the array of truly likable characters that they manage to portray here. I find most child actors to be almost unbearably bad, and the two kids are actually the main characters here, but these guys really do a fine job.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus appears here in her first feature-film role, as "pretty girl living in apartment" but does a great job of making her background character real in a way that a lesser film (especially in this genre) wouldn't have bothered to do.


The villain is played ably by Phil Fondacaro, to the extent that he can express anything at all using only body language... but Fondacaro actually pulls double-duty here and also plays the role of Malcolm, a dwarf with cancer, in a tragic side-story.


The character of Torok the troll is taken in an interesting direction. He's not played for straight-comedy like the Leprechaun, but he's not really scary either... he just is. The only real conflict is that he and all the tenants of the apartment building must share the same space, but require different environments. The movie seems to go out of its way to make him not be scary actually... But since he does go ahead and turn people into trolls (or things that would better fit in troll-world), and that's probably a bad thing for those involved, the movie takes several measures to redeem him afterward. First he turns Malcolm into an elf in order to cure his illnesses and give him a chance at a life where he can be normal. As if that wasn't enough, when the time comes for Harry Potter Jr. to kill the giant monster at the end (and he fails), Torok goes ahead and kills him for him... thereby defeating himself. If that doesn't make any sense to you, don't worry, there's an easy explanation. At some point Torok must have simply decided that it would be easier to get a fresh set of clothes, change his name to Hoggle, and head out to the Labyrinth to work for David Bowie.

Really, is there a difference?

One last thing that I almost forgot is the troll chorus. It was composed by Richard Band, brother of the producers, but this whimsical tune could've easily come from Danny Elfman.


Troll is always more fun than I remember it being, and it's probably tame enough to be appropriate for even the youngest kids.

As an added bonus, the only DVD version I've ever come across is a double-feature disc that also includes the completely unrelated but wonderfully awful, Troll 2.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Troll 2 DVD Released

20 years after it's debut, Troll 2 has finally gotten the DVD release it deserves.

While it was previously available on a double-feature disc along with it's namesake, Troll, the two films don't really have anything to do with one another and both stand on their own as enjoyable, albeit entirely unique experiences.

One of these is not like the other...

I was just talking to a few friends last night who have somehow never gotten the chance to see this classic bit of well-aged cheese. After today's DVD release, I'm guessing I'll be changing that for them very soon.





Friday, September 24, 2010

Elvira's New Movie Macabre Intro Now Available


Elvira's long-awaited return to television is nearly upon us, but until it airs, here's a brief teaser by way of the show's new intro.




After taking all that in for the first time, let's take a closer look at a few things.

What I first recognized was the theme music, an instrumental version of The Black Belles' song, What Can I Do. I'd been thinking that The Black Belles were creating an original song for some reason... but the instrumental track actually works pretty well on its own.


Probably the most surprising thing about the intro is that a character from Peaches Christ's film, All About Evil, pops up about 15 seconds in...


Initially I wasn't too sure that this was really an exact match, but upon my second viewing I decided that this probably wasn't just a coincidence.



Take note of the cast listings up there...


As for the other featured one-sheet on the right, I have no idea what it might be. If you happen to recognize it then by all means, leave me a comment below.


For a list of TV stations with Movie Macabre syndication, check for your city on the PDF file from Elvira's official site.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hobgoblins Soundtrack

Last weekend I got a copy of the Hobgoblins soundtrack in the mail. Because this isn't the 90's, the first thing I did was rip digital versions of my all my new Fontanelles tracks into iTunes. Unfortunately, upon doing so I discovered that I couldn't find a picture of the cover anywhere online...

So today I hauled out the camera and just took my own picture. Hopefully Google will get itself over here and index it before anyone else runs into the problem I did.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Best Worst Movie" Gets DVD Release Date

Michael Paul Stephenson’s award-winning documentary film about the creation of Claudio Fragasso's TROLL 2 (and subsequent fallout left in its wake) has been picked up by New Video Group and will be available on DVD and digital platforms on November 16.







DVD extras include:

• Director commentary.

• More than an hour of deleted scenes and interviews.

• Fan contributions, including music videos, mash-up trailers, and scenes from screenings.

• Filmmaker Q&A with Creative Screenwriting magazine

Michael Paul Stephenson has hinted at some of the other extra content already. Most interestingly, he's mentioned material with the Goblin Queen herself, Deborah Reed, who was conspicuously absent in the documentary.

Stepenson stated “We didn’t get enough time with her early on. It was hard to coordinate. As we got a little bit further down the road, we had shot a few things with her, but by that time, it had become very clear to us that the story was so much more about George and Claudio and a few of the other people we had been focusing on. There was no intention [to exclude Reed]; it was just that we were happy with this story the way it was, and anything additional at that stage felt like a distraction, or a deviation of where we were going with this movie.”

When asked if fans will actually get to see this material, Stephenson answers, “Absolutely! ... There’s so much great material that is perfect for them ... It depends on how much space they’re going to give us, but I’ll do everything I can to get as much extra material in there as possible.”

The DVD retails for $19.99 but can be preordered on Amazon now for $17.99.

Three New Sharktopus Clips Released

Three new Sharktopus clips were released yesterday (via Syfy's Blastr). Our first clip is the wonderfully ridiculous bungee-jumping bit that we see at the end of the trailer... only now it's in context. Nothing too new or interesting here, although the fairly slow and silly tone of the buildup makes the sudden attack even better.




The second clip shows Roger Corman's cameo scene and that a sharktopus can hide in only a couple of inches of water...




And finally, the last clip gives a glimpse at some of the other characters and shows us the surprisingly simple way in which the experimentally weaponized sharktopus gets off his leash and escapes into the wild.





Mark your calendars folks. Sharktopus airs on September 25th on SyFy.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Boy Scouts Vs. Zombies" Brings on Director, Andy Fickman


According to a tweet from Production Weekly, the upcoming horror-comedy, Boy Scouts Vs. Zombies has been attached to director, Andy Fickman (Race to Witch Mountain, She's the Man).

This movie is coming from a script by the well-proven horror writing duo (Carrie Evans, Emi Mochizuki) behind such genre classics as... College Road Trip (Trailer) and... well, that's all. This doesn't look good.

I've always thought that one of the worst horror-movie crimes is to waste a great title / concept on a movie that's got no chance of living up to its own potential. With a concept like Boy Scouts Vs. Zombies, there certainly seems like there's potential for something fun with a Fido-ish, Leave it to Beaver feel or something like that, but as for whether or not this team can actually pull it off... I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Search Engine Craziness: Cretacious Cloistered Crackheads


dinosaur nun gang members

Strangely enough, another set of Google keywords that aren't obviously sexual...
This one is doubly strange in that it's also something that links to an article that does actually contain all of those words.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

All About Evil

Last weekend I managed to catch Peaches Christ's directorial debut, All About Evil, as it stopped off at the Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta, Georgia.

The event, (described by Peaches as a "spooktacular"), includes a pre-screening live show that features a couple of song and dance numbers perfomed by Peaches Christ and an assortment of local drag-monsters. The film is touring through 20 or so stops across the country, featuring one or more cast members at each stop. In my case, I got veteran John Waters actress, Mink Stole...


and I can't say that I would've had it any other way.

For any not familiar with Peaches Christ, she is the stage persona of Joshua Grannell and regular host of "Midnight Mass" shows. In appearance, she's a sort of glittery drag-Elvira with just a dash of Divine.


Probably not a coincidence.

After the song and dance bits, "Gore Gore Girl" and "Female Trouble" (that was still stuck in my head when I woke up this morning), and a brief clip-show introduction piece revisiting famous Mink Stole scenes, the lights went down and the real fun began.

All About Evil is the story of a mousy assistant-librarian named Deborah (Natasha Lyonne) who has inherited her recently-deceased father's beloved old movie house, the Victoria Theatre. When we meet her she's grieving over her father, but is particularly upset that her father has died without getting to see her succeed at "the business of show," as she's never had any luck getting work as an actress.

When her cold-hearted mother (Julie Caitlin Brown) comes in to try threatening Deborah into selling the theater, she snaps, killing her with a stab to the neck... and then giving her a few more for good measure.



What she doesn't realize until later is that the murder has been captured by surveillance cameras and, as luck would have it, almost immediately gets accidentally played back to the entire theater.

The attending cult-horror fans mistake the CCTV snuff film for a well-acted homemade cult film and embrace it wholeheartedly. When Deborah realizes what's happened, she seizes the opportunity to rejuvenate the independent theater and, most of all, to finally get her moment in the spotlight.

Short after grisly short is filmed and screened like this, seemingly daily in a very quick sort of macabre Be Kind Rewind fashion and the theater's popularity swells nearly as quickly as Deborah's growing ego.


The diva-directress (now pronouncing her name De Bor'a) finds she can't do all this on her own however, so she and the projectionist (Jack Donner) round up the twisted twins, Vera and Veva (Jade and Nikita Ramsey)...


...and a murderous young drifter (played by Noah Seegan, who you've probably last seen in Dead Girl)...


...to round up these victims a bit more efficiently. The shorts this little team produce really are brilliant, and with names like Gore and Peace, A Tale of Two Titties and The Diary of Ann Frankenstein I'm sure that will come as no surprise.

Seriously.

Their first team production takes them to the library Deborah had worked at earlier, to have a go at the librarian, Evelyn (Mink Stole), to create a very persuasive video about keeping quiet during movies. I'm not going to give away what exactly they do to her, but Mink Stole's version of the All About Evil poster gives a little bit of a hint...


Things eventually hit a snag for Deborah when her biggest fan, Steven (Thomas Dekker, from the Terminator TV series and the Nightmare on Elm Street remake), starts noticing that all the young folks appearing in her films happen to overlap with the growing number of students going missing from school. Steven doesn't have an easy time looking into this though, as he's constantly interrupted at school by the faculty who are convinced that his horror-interests mean that he's going to "Columbine" the place at any second... And things don't go too much smoother at home where he's got his concerned mother (Cassandra Peterson) to deal with.

Freud would have a field-day with this kid.
This is what's on his wall just to the right of the frame there.

The murder-movies get bigger and better until they culminate in the biggest show at the theater, which pretty much involves the whole town. I won't spoil any details regarding the climactic ending, but it manages to be even more over-the-top than the rest of the movie thus far.

Since the Victoria is in San Francisco, "the whole town" includes Peaches Christ herself in one of her several cameos.

Low-budget, independent horror movies are often either so horribly acted as to become unwatchable, or so financially restricted that their silly effects prevent the movie from being taken seriously... but All About Evil suffers from none of that. The production values really shine throughout, and with such a surprisingly strong cast, there's never any bad line-reads that take you out of the scene or anything of that sort.

Long-time Elvira fans may find themselves pleasantly surprised and impressed by Cassandra's Peterson's ability to change tones and actually play a "straight" character role for a change, but she makes the transition look easy. Vera and Veva, the evil twins, were even more surprising. They're genuinely creepy throughout, in a sort of slasher-Wednesday Addams way, but all their other work seems to be stuff like this:



Those "Brit twins" were not exactly an obvious choice for this sort of role by any means, but the result speaks for itself.

Ultimately, what I think I was most impressed with was the tasteful handling of wink/nod distribution concerning all the little genre references sprinkled throughout.

The logo's font is a derivative of the Evil Dead font for example...


While not everything is quite as subtle as all that, you get the idea. Considering that such subtlety usually seems out of reach to horror-comedies (and, come to think of it, drag queens too for that matter...) this reserved sort of homage-handling was one of the most surprising and appreciated aspects for me.

As I recall, there was only one small technical detail that bothered me with this movie. There were a couple of times (one of which I remember was in the very beginning when Deborah's mother comes by) when the hand-held camera shot was uncomfortably wobbly to me. That only happens about two or three times as I recall, but it just always bothers me when tiny things like that pull my attention away from a story that I'm really enjoying otherwise.

I don't think enough good things can be said about Joshua Grannell's first attempt at direction here. I left this thinking that it's pretty much exactly the sort of thing that any genre-respecting filmmaker trying for a horror-comedy should aim for, and that's certainly not a bad standard to set with your first try at making a film.

I can't wait to hear more about Grannell's possible upcoming new project that may be in the works. In the meantime, if the All About Evil spooktacular extravaganza comes through your area, be sure not to miss out. Tour information can be found at the film's website, AllAboutEvilTheMovie.com.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Search Engine Craziness: Freezer Section


it was a bad idea to cool off in walk in freezer

and almost immediately after that:

surviving temp in walk in freezer

Well this doesn't look good...
I just hope I gave the guy a few giggles before he turned into a stalagmite.


Queen of Outer Space


Queen of Outer Space is a campy sci-fi film about a spaceship crew that, while on a routine trip out to a space station, gets thoroughly lasered and crash-lands on Venus.

As it turns out, Venus is inhabited solely by women, whose queen, Yllana (Laurie Mitchell), had destroyed the space station with a death ray and now wants to destroy the planet earth before its inhabitants destroy Venus.







"But how could a WOMAN be smart enough to create such a powerful weapon?"


Queen Yllana's opinion of the earth-men is colored by the fact that her face was disfigured by radiation during an earlier war waged against men from another planet.

I
'd guess that she also has a little bit of pent up anger from a lifetime of being named Yllana...

Psst... that's "Anally" spelled backwards.

As it turns out, Yllana's beliefs aren't shared by all the Venutian "Glamazons." In particular, someone in her royal court, Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor), actually leads a secret resistance force that quickly decides to help the captured earthmen escape.

"I HATE HER! I HATE ZAT QUEEN!"

Because it's the 50's, the men quickly take charge of the revolt force by virtue of their overwhelming charisma and the resistance force is no longer much use for anything but swooning.

Of course, eventually everything culminates in a giant catfight... and those silly dames get easily overwhelmed by the side that includes men.


The queen is easily dethroned and the men get their opportunity to communicate back to earth to schedule a rescue mission to pick them up... in one year so they'll have plenty of time to do a little repopulating with the locals.

The men reluctantly accept their duty.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that the first third of this movie was actually shot in only one day. The movie gives us a few intro shots of the space-crew to introduce their personalities and let us see the interior of their ship (which looks strangely like the ship-interior set in World Without End ... which is also where the men's uniforms were last seen).

Right away the men blast off and we're shown stock footage of an actual rocket launch of a completely different looking rocket.


Moments later, we're given a shot of their transforming ship flying through space... Only now it's actually the spaceship model from Flight to Mars.


While I'm on the subject of borrowed props, the little rayguns the Glamazons use are lifted out of Forbidden Planet.

Anyway, my point is that the movie wastes no time at all getting to the point, even if that requires taking a few shortcuts. A lot of old movies are paced so slowly that they can be hard to watch today... but not this one. Within five minutes or so we're already on Venus with the Glamazons and things are actually happening. The movie keeps a nice novelty-to-pacing balance, doesn't go on for longer than it needs to, and makes a real effort to keep itself entertaining throughout.


Actually, it might have tried a little too hard to keep things interesting...
"There's been nothing but calm dialog against a boring backdrop for the last 60 seconds!
Quick, throw the giant paper-mâché bug into the scene!
"

"Yeah, the one we found in the prop box we got those uniforms out of."

Queen of Outer Space has a reputation for being among the cheesiest, campiest relics of 50's sci-fi, and for good reason. While the cardboard sets and misogyny don't hold up, the entertainment value definitely does.

Available on Amazon



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Birdemic

I first watched Birdemic around last April and since then, I'd somehow nearly forgotten about it... that is until today when I pulled onto the interstate, passed a crow pecking around some sort of furry roadsplatter, and thought to myself, "screeaaww-(explode.gif)."


That's all it took for me to develop a renewed urge to sit down with the missus, dim the lights, and have another go at this thing... and as soon as I got home, that's exactly what I did.

On my original viewing, I was a bit surprised to find that at about the 45 minute mark, I'd still not seen the birds I'd come to giggle at. For anyone who's seen the teaser trailer (which makes you stare at boring cityscapes with nothing happening in them for 3/4 of the running-time), get ready for more of the same.

Anyway, our first five minutes are spent with Rod (Alan Bagh) and the opening credits, driving around a winding road and watching from the point of view of a shaky handycam that's apparently riding shotgun. During this, we're treated to an audio track that's about 30 seconds long... repeated over and over. It goes without saying that this is very boring... although it was pretty funny that this is the scene where they give the credits for editing and cinematography.

When we finally get out of the car, we find ourselves at a restaurant where Rod has stopped for breakfast. He talks to the waitress a bit and when we see him again we find that he's ordered a coffee, bottled water, and orange juice for breakfast. That doesn't seem like much of a breakfast to me, and Rod seems to agree because he doesn't bother paying. When he gets ready to leave, he just does.

Transaction Complete.

This first restaurant scene also gets to be our introduction to the horrible sound-quality and editing in Birdemic. Sometimes, when there isn't any dialog in a scene, it seems that no one bothered recording any background audio whatsoever, either that or they just exclusively used the microphone on the camera giving us nothing at all for the long shots. Early on we can tell something is amiss when Rod walks up to the restaurant. As he comes down the sidewalk there are a few moments where everything goes nearly silent. Luckily for us, the expert foley-artist ingeniously added sounds of walking through loud crunching leaves to alleviate the awkwardness.

Pictured: A forest

Once inside the place we're shown just how bad things can get when we're treated to what I think is probably one of the worst executed scenes of the movie. As Rod talks to the hostess/waitress there are several rapid, jarring cuts between the two. I don't think anyone bothered to light the waitress, so the lighting is very different between the two rapidly switching vantage points, and the sound is even worse. It seems no one bothered trying for any sort of ambient noise recording, so no there's no attempt made at any sort of audio continuity through these cuts. It's pretty much about as uncomfortable to watch as you could possibly make a 10 second conversation between two people.

Pictured: Agony

Then again, sometimes when there is a long scene with dialog close to the camera, the environmental sounds are so loud in parts that you can't even hear what's being said... so you just have to take what you can get here.

At some point while enjoying his three beverages, Rod notices Natalie (Whitney Moore), decides to stalk her awkwardly, and spends the next 5 minutes of the movie doing so in a way that would've gotten him pepper-sprayed in the real world, but gets him a date in bizarro-The Birds-world.

In addition to the awkward banter and strange courtship of Natalie, the first half of the film also spends a while showing us Rod and Natalie's jobs. Rod is a software salesman (more on that later) and Natalie is a fashion model. As soon as we're shown what their careers are, both of them are suddenly and inexplicably incredibly successful. Rod is essentially a telemarketer selling software in one scene, and a board member learning that he's got millions of dollars coming his way as a result of stock-options when the company he works for is bought for ONE BILLION DOLLARS.

"BILLION!"

Natalie advances just as quickly. The first modeling gig we see her doing is at a one-hour photo shop...


I'm not sure if this means that some local weird small-business owner hires models to let him take pictures of them while he's at work, or maybe James Nguyen just didn't realize that those photo-shops actually only develop film, but whatever... that's just where Natalie's modeling career is right now. As it turns out though, Natalie's modeling agency actually gets a call from Victoria's Secret while she's on her way to her 1-hour photo gig, so she's off to the big leagues as well.

Rod, who's somehow managed to become a millionaire during the day before their date, finally takes Natalie out on a date that's so awkward it looks like something was guest-directed by Tim & Eric. No wonder those guys have endorsed this film so much...

At one point during this date we're teased with a far-off glimpse of some parrot.gif birds while they're walking outside, but that's all we get for the first date.

Such a tease

The next day, Natalie has an awkward conversation with her mother (that is very reminiscent of the mother-conversations in The Room) where she lets her know about her new job and her new Rod. I only mention this because in this scene, the mother offers Natalie some of her home-cooking, which is just a deli-tray someone swiped from craft services before the shoot.


Somehow, Rod talks Natalie into a second date and it's here that we find that, while Natalie doesn't kiss on the first date, she's wastes no time on the second.


AAAAHHHHH BIRDS!!!
Sorry, false alarm again... Back to the almost-naked footsy session.


The scene fades to black, our protagonists fall asleep, and we get to enjoy the camera-guy using up the rest of his film roll.

Pictured: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Suddenly, the sun rises on a new day and we find that Rod, Natalie, and ourselves have quite suddenly awakened into the movie we actually came to see.

Now that's more like it.

Unfortunately for Rod and Natalie, it didn't take these low frame-rate monstrosities long at all to hone in on the smell of fresh toe-sweat at the local motel.



They meet up with a couple of disposable characters who have a van and a great strategy to get out to it that involves swinging blindly at the air with clothes hangers... for nearly a minute of screen time.

Brilliant.

Somehow this works and they make their getaway... then they stop and fight birds again, with equal strangeness, and sometimes with automatic weapons. Strangely, instead of trying to get away they seem to stop every chance they get. Early on they see a few people stranded in a double-decker bus and decide to "save" them by bringing them outside. This is where we find out that the birds can shit yellow acid when the mood strikes them...

The mood striking

They drive, then stop and shoot at birds, then drive some more... over and over.

Things meander aimlessly like that and then, when it's time for the movie to be over, the birds just leave. Rod and Natalie see the light, reminding us once more about the heavy-handed message the movie has been giving us since the beginning: global warming is behind all of this.

Strangely enough, and contrary to my expectations, the birds are not the most interesting, or funniest thing about Birdemic. The rest of it is much harder to describe, but many entertainingly novel ways in which it fails are mostly paced pretty well in a The Room sort of way. It turns out to not only be watchable, but actually really entertaining.

The actual story about the birds is pretty minimal: global warming causes birds of prey to attack, and sometimes to explode (In the Birdemic universe, vultures count as birds of prey, apparently). They seem to have trouble really taking that idea anywhere, which makes you really wonder about what exactly is going to happen that's worth making a sequel about...


Luckily for us, I'm sure James Nguyen is a creative genius that will be able to write something brilliant, just look at the incredible variety of characters he's been able to invent so far.

James Nguyen - "Mr. Nguyen ... a Silicon Valley software salesman..."

Julie and Jack (2003) - "Jack Livingston ... a successful computer chip salesman for STELLAchip Corporation in high-tech Silicon Valley"

Replica (2005) - "Joe, a computer chip salesman..."

Birdemic (2008) - "Rod is a young software salesman living the dream in Silicon Valley..."

Oh...