By Tim Murr
I’m always excited for a new Ridley Scott movie. I saw Alien the same year (1980) I saw Jaws and Jaws 2, which was two years before I saw The Empire Strikes Back (my first Star Wars film). So despite having Star Wars toys for most of my short life, my first sci-fi love came from Scott’s shocking, atmospheric, and dark film. When I was a kid, there weren’t many directors’ names I knew, but I knew George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, and Ridley Scott. Of those three, the only one I still get excited about is Scott.
If we Americans have learned anything over the last 20 years, it’s that Australia is hell on earth. Spiders bigger than your face, jellyfish that can kill you from ten miles away, sharks, Yahoo Serious. . . it’s the kind of place we should really nuke from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
At its dark little heart, the 1978 Australian film Long Weekend is about hell, and the different ways that concept can manifest itself into reality.
By Tim Murr
The man who hunted Nazis in WWII and played some of the greatest villains in cinematic history has passed away. Christopher Lee was an intelligent, charming man. He was knighted. He was a descendant of Charlemagne. He recorded two metal albums when he was in his ‘80s and ‘90s. He was an amazing talent to say the absolute least.
I detest romantic comedies. They are often decidedly unromantic and terribly unfunny. Throw drama into the mix and it’s even worse: concocted conflicts and clichéd characters. Horror comedies are a more palatable but often hit or miss. Combining all four genres seems like a bad idea. Somehow Spring manages to do that and still be terrific. It’s the best romantic comedy/drama horror movie you’ve seen yet.
By Tim Murr
I’d guess I have about ten films that are deeply important to me on an emotional level. They’re not necessarily all deep movies, but they are all films that represent very specific times and very specific situations, both good and bad. They are films that I can watch over and over and be transported back to a time and place and vividly relive a certain state of mind and/or heart.
Jaws is one if those films. I was four when I saw Jaws and Jaws 2 on cable. I watched it multiple times before I turned five, which is when my parents divorced. So for me, watching Jaws always takes me back to a time when the world didn’t feel like it was ending everyday. (A feeling that never went away, but evolved from fear to anger to bitterness.)
In 1972, African-American writer, director, and actor Bill Gunn was given free reign to make a film that would capitalize on the success of Blacula. The result was the bizarre yet beautiful Ganja & Hess, his rumination on addiction, religion, and African-American culture, which would thrill audiences at Cannes, only to be savaged by critics upon its eventual release. The producers re-edited and repackaged Ganja & Hess as Black Vampire and the film was mostly forgotten.
But Bill Gunn never forgot. In 1973 he wrote a scathing letter to the NY Times, which said, among other things, “Your newspapers and critics must realize that they are controlling black theater and film creativity with white criticism.” Sadly, Gunn died in 1989, after making only one more film, 1980′s Personal Problems.
Brian O’Malley’s feature debut Let Us Prey reveals its darkness slowly and deliciously at first, evoking a sense of dread and mystery that keeps you watching. It also provokes a lot of questions. Who is this mysterious stranger who looks a lot like Liam Cunningham? Why has Police Constable Rachel Heggie been reassigned? Why is everyone at the police station so angry?
Oh how we all get richer / Playing the rolling game
Only the poor get poorer / We feed off them all the same
—Society‘s version of the Eton Boating Song
How do you explain a movie like Brian Yuzna’s Society? It truly is one of those things you must experience for yourself. The 1989 film is an important chapter in the body horror/ero goru subgenre, but it’s also just plain weird.
Lamberto Bava’s 1985 monster movie Demons is a nasty, brutal affair, filled with sharp teeth, green blood, and enough stream of consciousness nonsense to make an absurdist’s brain melt. It’s also considered a minor classic by horror aficionados. One of the things that makes the film so effective is the ambitious soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti.
In the two years since I talked to Aaron Moorhead about Justin Benson about their amazing 2012 film Resolution, a lot has happened. The pair contributed a segment to V/H/S Viral called “Bonestorm” and brought their second feature, Spring, to the Toronto International Film Festival. (And there was some kind of mascot battle.) In March, they released Spring as part of a BitTorrent bundle, which is an extremely cool way to bring a movie directly to the viewer.
They visited Toronto last week in anticipation of Spring‘s theatrical premiere in Canada so I talked to them about what has changed over the last few years and what they are going to unleash upon audiences next.