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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Random Ramblings from the Vault...

  • I had a chance to re-watch Poltergeist, and I have to say: JoBeth Williams gives one hell of a performance in that picture. I had never quite noticed it before, distracted as I was by the campy greatness of Zelda Rubinstein, James Karen's cameo and that vomit-astic face-ripping scene. But she really is terrific. And for the record, there's no way Spielberg didn't direct the lion's share of that movie. Let the riotous debate begin!
  • Question: Who would you say was the standout horror director of 2000-2009? Not an easy one to answer, is it? Very interested to see some of the possible selections...
  • Pet peeve: Film zombies that are made to look overly evil. I like my zombies vacant, staring and mindless--not demonic. Call me crazy, but I think they should look simply like walking, rotting corpses. You can keep the cro-magnon brows and crazy contact lenses.
  • So I shall be attending a sneak preview of the I Spit on Your Grave remake down in NYC later this week. Comments/thoughts/opinions to follow shortly thereafter. This should be interesting...
  • Just so you all don't think I unconditionally and automatically adore all pre-modern horror movies, I'd like to inform you that I just had an opportunity to see The Screaming Skull (1958) over the weekend and was bored to tears. Despite the movie's 75-minute running length. It was kind of neat, though, that it uses the same Berlioz theme employed by Stanley Kubrick for the opening of The Shining.
  • If you have a minute, or even if you don't, please be so kind as to check out Ocean of Storms, an online novel currently being published in blog form by two old, dear friends of mine. These boys can write just a little bit, and this tense, psychological sci-fi epic of alien invasion is the evidence. They're only on chapter three, so jump on board nice and early.
  • Wanna talk about under-used movie monsters? How about the cyclops? You just don't see many good cyclops movies out there. I mean, Harryhausen really set the standard with 7th Voyage of Sinbad; but come on people, don't be so intimidated. If Kennedy could call for a man on the moon by 1969, then I can call for a cyclops on the big screen by 2019. Someone make it happen.
  • I'm thinking it's high time there was a new Lon Chaney Sr. biopic. Yes, Jimmy Cagney's Man of 1,000 Faces was a good movie, but it was also largely fantasy. Horror's first megastar needs the proper big screen treatment. But who should play him?
  • I'm honored to have been enlisted to provide the official banner for the Village Invasion zombie crawl happening in Saugerties, New York on October 16. I've mocked up three banner possibilities, and would like you--yes, you; stand still, laddy--to help pick which one is chosen. Jump over to the VOH Facebook page (all the cool kids are fans) and click "like" for the one you, well, like. The voting continues till Monday night at 9pm Eastern. And, oh yeah, one of the lucky voters will receive a special prize. Not that I have to bait any of you with cheap promotional tactics...

9 comments:

The Mike said...

Wow, the director question is hard. My first thought was Ti West or Christopher Smith, each of whom I'd call 3 for 3, but I'd also say they each only have one film I really think has staying power.

I'd also say Neil Marshall made two films - Dog Soldiers and The Descent - that can stick.

Emily said...

I was totally going to say Neil Marshall, then The Mike had to go all Speedy Gonzalez and beat me to it.

Also, Cyclops look neat and all but they always seem a little too easy to beat. Just poke that giant eye or stay out of its peripheral vision and you're fine.

Sam Gilmore said...

"The Screaming Skull" works better when watching through MST3K.

Andre said...

Wohooo on re-watching Poltergeist and JoBeth Williams appreciation. Some think she is overacting and to them I say poo poo, how would YOU act if your 5 year old daughter was taken over to the other side.....?!! I mean come on, the woman is brilliant. She practically moves me to tears and I hate kids. Just kidding. But she does move me to a lump in the throat quite often. I love her and am saddened her career didn't take off more. Oh well, she wins an Oscar in my heart.

Missy Y. said...

Dude, it is so obvious that Hooper is probably responsible for the pool in the backyard, and that's it. Everything else screams Spielberg.

As for the director, well, I would probably go with Pascal Laugier. He's responsible for two of my faves from the decade: Martyrs and House of Voices. Both are very different, but they are totally incredible.

kindertrauma said...

I'm taking the bait! Tobe Hooper defense team in the house!

I just caught Poltergeist again myself recently and all I could think of was how much you can see Hooper's hand in the film, most notably with some of the visuals. I think Hooper is usually a more casual and loose director and doesn't always focus as much on the performances and that Spielberg as a producer was just a perfect match for him. I think what we are seeing with Poltergeist is Hooper's work with a more polished, fine-tuned finish. Ultimately I think it's just a very successful collaboration and that a collaboration between two people is nothing to frown down upon. Some people just shine when they have somebody else cracking the whip. I personally enjoy collaborating and I'm well aware of how much better my work is with a good editor or a second opinion to fall back on.

I'd also like to point out that Hooper and Spielberg collaborated again in 2002 with the miniseries "Taken" and I seriously doubt Spielberg would work with Hooper again if he did not highly value what he brought to the table in Poltergeist. Spielberg may have a better track record but he's not without some clunkers in his C.V. too. His segment in the Twilight Zone movie is pretty terrible and proves that everything he touches doesn't always turn to gold. I admit that I do see Spielberg in Poltergeist whenever you get a shot of somebody gasping in awe and astonishment at something (He always does that) but the swimming pool scene, the violet hues, the flashing lights and the jittery flashlight on the maggot meat look like Hooper to me.

By most accounts Spielberg (who was not only the producer but the main writer) had final say but I don't see how that diminishes Tobe's work. Is it possible that Hooper just did a very good job at bringing his producer and writer's vision to the screen? Think of it this way, all of the films produced by Val Lewton have a distinct feel and sensibility does that diminish Robert Wise and Jacques Tourneur as directors? Don't get me wrong, Spielberg deserves much credit for the success of Poltergeist but in my opinion so does Hopper. Film as you can tell by the closing credits is always a collaborative effort and you'd be surprised how fast a cake will fall if you ignore just one ingredient.

In closing, hooray for Tobe Hooper!;) -Unk

B-Sol said...

Maybe Neil Marshall is the best choice, not sure. I'm not even sure there was a dominant horror director at all.

Andre, I'm glad you also appreciate Ms. Williams. Plus, with any luck, this will attract Mr. Hamster to my humble blog.

And Unk, you know I love you to death, but I may just have to side with Missy here. The movie just feels so Spielbergian--albeit a bit more subversive than his usual stuff of the period. Also Hooper has never otherwise shown he was capable of something like that. Hmmm...maybe I'm being too harsh. Not sure.

kindertrauma said...

That's OK B, maybe I'm not harsh enough! I know Jobeth and Craig T. give Hooper credit but that Zelda R. has said that Hooper was a no show. I guess we'll never know 100% who did exactly what. No matter what though, it certainly worked. What a great movie! Did you see it on HBO HD? I think that's where I caught it and it looked so much better than my current DVD.

B-Sol said...

Unfortunately, we watched it on a really old VHS copy, taped off cable. Pretty crappy...

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