Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Do NOT use this brain!

We had the extreme pleasure tonight of watching Mel Brooks' classic  Young Frankenstein on the big screen at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. Easily one of the top five comedies of all time, it was nice to see it not only with a crowd of like-minded fans, but with co-creator and star Gene Wilder in attendance. He spoke briefly before the screening, and participated in a Q&A afterwards, and it was clear that of all his films, there's none he's prouder of.

It was getting late, so we didn't stick around to get Gene's latest book autographed, although seeing the film again was a reminder of what a brilliant writer he is. I think we may just have to give his two novels a chance.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Mater Lachrymarum

After 30 years, the Three Mothers trilogy is complete. Dario Argento's Mother of Tears arrived today, so Tony and I sat down to watch it tonight.

In all fairness, I was not expecting a film on par with Suspira or Inferno, the first two parts of the Three Mothers trilogy. Those films represent Argento at the top of his form, with amazing visuals supported by the aural majesty of Goblin and Keith Emerson, respectively. Claudio Simonetti (of Goblin fame) is back to score Mother of Tears, and while there are moments where it seems the score is going to break out, it is relatively restrained in comparison to the previous films.

Dario's daughter Asia stars this time out, and as with most of his films, the story is second to the style on display. There are a number of horrific special effects - both practical and a few strategically placed CGI shots - that I have to admit surprised even me, the most jaded of viewers when it comes to onscreen carnage. Definitely not for the squeamish.

All in all, it was an enjoyable ride, and superior to some of Argento's more recent works. I think a Three Mothers movie party is warranted; if that's of interest to folks we'll get that slotted asap.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Dave Stevens and The Rocketeer

Sometimes, for reasons unknown, a good film just doesn't find it's audience. Such was the case with The Rocketeer - Joe Johnston's film of Dave Stevens comic creation. I watched it last night in memory of Dave, who died earlier this week at the all too young age of 52. Hopefully Disney will see fit to give the film it's due on Blu Ray soon.

Dave was an amazing artist who leaves behind an impressive body of work; perhaps none more memorable than accidental hero Cliff Secord.

Monday, March 10, 2008

If adventure has a name...

For your viewing pleasure, here's the final one-sheet for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I Am Legend - Are you ready?

Just a friendly reminder that the next movie party, featuring the three authorized film adaptations of the book, is only two weeks away.

If you'd like the opportunity to read (or re-read) the book in anticipation of the event, and don't have a copy handy, please let me know and we'll hook you up.

The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price, was filmed in 1964. The closest adaptation of the book, while not truly faithful, was dreived from an original screenplay by Matheson himself. He was so upset with the changes that they made he applied his pen name, Logan Swanson, to the project. The version we'll be watching is in standard definition, anamorphic widescreen.

The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston, was released in 1971. Heston was introduced to the novel by director Orson Welles on the set of Touch of Evil, and the film - a pet project of his - was his third dystopic science-fiction film (the others of course being Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green). The screenwriters took the source material very loosely, and created a film unique to it's time. We will watch the version recently released on HD-DVD (which makes it easier to spot the people and cars in the background of a deserted Los Angeles).

I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, was as much inspired by The Omega Man as the novel itself. That said, of all the authorized adaptations, the film succeeds in capturing the tone of the original novel, if not the specific plot elements. And as I've noted below, this is even more true in the original ending which we'll be featuring, from the forthcoming Blu-Ray release.

Hope to see you all there.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

They're coming to get you!

Starting this summer, Amok Time toys will be offering a limited edition series of 12" articulated figures based on characters from the original Night of the Living Dead. First up is the Bill Hinzman cemetery ghoul - with living and dead heads in color AND black and white! I've also seen photos of the Ben and Barbara figures due later this year. Let's hope they're able to do all of the main cast and a number of zombies. You can bet we'll have them on display for our own All Day of the Dead festival in October. What better way to celebrate the film's 40th anniversary! Check out their website at for more information, and also to check out their smaller scale 'Bub' figure from Day of the Dead.


I Am Legend Redux Removed

If you didn't catch it earlier, you'll have to wait a few weeks to see the alternate ending to I Am Legend. Weighed against the rushed, deus ex machina ending that was swapped in just before the theatrical release, I have to say I prefer the original 'alternate' ending that will debut on the DVD release. I must have softened in my old age - as this ending commits the cardinal sin of EVERY screenplay adaptation of I Am Legend that followed The Omega Man. What's most amazing is that the filmmakers actually managed to capture a key message of the book, and then discarded it (along with other plot points they had set up). Why they tossed it out will hopefully be addressed in the extras on the DVD.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cautionary Tales

After some deliberation, and in an effort to mix some new titles into the Mad Movie Party schedule, I've decided on the lineup for April. We're going with two cautionary tales.

First up is Val Guest's The Day the Earth Caught Fire. I'm guessing most of you will not have seen this cerebral sci-fi thriller, and you're in for a treat. Great performances abound, including Leo McKern, who if you're not already familiar with, you will be once The Prisoner enters our weekly Wednesday night slot.

Picking a companion title was relatively easy. Based on a novel by John Christopher (of The Tripods fame), No Blade of Grass is another futuristic tale set in London. Famous for writing a series of novels exploring a variety of end of world scenarios, this one is particularly interesting, evolving our of a much more plausible scenario than The Day the Earth Caught Fire.

These are the kinds of films that spawned contemporary counterparts like Armageddon, Deep Impact, and The Day After Tomorrow. The primary difference is that these early examples stand the test of time.

We hope you'll join us in April.