category: Movies

Horror round-up (including RTSC)

It’s been an interesting week of horror-related news, all of which are near and dear to me:

First, it looks like there will be an Evil Dead IV. Raimi’s starting the script “next week” and though Campbell isn’t committed to the project, you pretty much know that if there’s going to be an Evil Dead movie, Campbell will be in it. I’m really, really hope this one comes to fruition. (In related news, I’m kinda’ looking forward to My Name Is Bruce.)

The aforelinked Vault of Horror also notes that the Suspiria remake may not suck! When you’re dealing with Suspiria, you’re treading on sacred ground. Horror remakes almost universally suck, but here’s to hoping that like the Dawn of the Dead remake, there’s a possibility it could be good.

The biggest news of all, though, is that Return to Sleepaway Camp finally has a release date on DVD. Better yet? It’s on my birthday! You may remember that five years ago, I travelled to far northern Pennsylvania to be an extra in the sequel to the film that my friend’s uncle was in 20 years earlier. I had a great time and had figured the movie would never see the light of day. Thankfully, I was wrong. The trailer over at Jeff’s official site looks like a lot of fun (download it here) and Jeff’s former-partner-now-rival-and-RTSC-detractor John over at the Sleepaway Camp sequels site has positive things to say about it. Hopefully my 15 seconds (max) of screentime made it into the final cut and earned me my IMDB credit.

That’s about all I’ve got. Now go read this great critique of Fulci’s Zombie (coupla NSFW screencaps).

Friday the 13th

Hey, Happy Friday the 13th!

Last November, I decided to torture myself and watch all of the Friday the 13th films in order, from the original right up to Jason vs. Freddy*. And to celebrate this special day, I thought I’d rank them and include brief commentary (some cribbed from my ADDmovies reviews).

  1. Friday the 13th (1980)
    The first and the best. Sure, even as the first in the series, it wasn’t completely original, but the mood and direction was spot on. I’m still washing the sight of Kevin Bacon’s butt out of my mind’s eye, though.
  2. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
    This is an underrated entry in the series and, really, one of my favorites. The zombie-Jason concept is pretty lame, but I’m still a complete mark for Thom Matthews’ wonderful overacting.
  3. Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
    Crispin Glover’s wonderful weirdness and a good showdown finale make the by-the-numbers first hour worthwhile.
  4. Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
    A decent enough sequel that introduces us to Burlap Sack Jason.
  5. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
    Before Jason vs. Freddy, there was Jason vs. Carrie. And yes, I enjoyed the heck out of the final battle.
  6. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
    The focus on 3D really hurts this on DVD, despite a great filming location and an engaging second half.
  7. Friday the 13th Part X: Jason X (2001)
    A complete turd, yet a moderately enjoyable turd. Horror movies in space always mark jumping the shark, but what the hell… there’s still some good gore.
  8. Friday the 13th Part XI: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
    Fun, creative deaths and the final confrontation are worthwhile payoffs after sitting through painfully inane dialogue, even by slasher standards.
  9. Friday the 13th part IX: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
    A pretty terrible movie. Plus, the second lying subtitle of the series. Good unrated gore, bad Jason meets Shocker plot.
  10. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
    Boring kills and overacted with exaggerated stereotypes, even for an 80s slasher. This one puts the “dud” in Dudley. I should note that it’s fun enough if you watch it knowing beforehand that it sucks.
  11. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
    The concept had potential, but was utterly wasted with poor script, casting, and, especially, soundtrack decisions. Perhaps worse than part V.

The always-excellent Dead Pit today released a special Friday the 13th-themed podcast. I called in and managed to insult the guests of the show, all from part V. Thankfully, that segment was recorded separately.

* I skipped part 6 because I watched it earlier in the year and am going to finally finish off my viewing with Jason vs. Freddy this weekend.

HorrorFind 2008

It’s been eight years since I last went to a horror convention, but I still consider myself a horror geek of sorts. I can still throw down when it comes to Italian horror absurdities and still enjoy a crappy 70s zombie film or braindead 80s slasher with the best of them. But, there was something missing… a hole in my heart that needed to be filled.

I needed to meet George Romero.

So, a few months ago when I saw that not only was Romero going to be at the HorrorFind Weekend in Adelphi, MD, but that the conference was going to be a reunion, gathering actors from all of Romero’s Living Dead movies, I marked it in the calendar and resolved to go, come hell or water that’s above knee level.

I’d heard that others had waited in line for hours at other conventions for Romero’s autograph, so I was surprised when I was sixth in line on Sunday morning, having arrived only a few minutes before the doors were scheduled to open. Unfortunately, the Godfather of the Zombie Film decided to sleep in a bit, so the wait ended up being about 40 minutes. Not too bad.

One thing I noticed while waiting in line is that there may not be a sadder individual than the horror collector (except maybe the sci-fi collector… I dunno). During the wait for Romero, I listened to one guy regale a handful of nearby strangers about all the people he’d met, the autographs he’d collected, how he has the Fright Night 2 DVD still shrinkwrapped and HEY did you know it sells for $200?, and how he’s got thousands of DVDs and wow–what a coincidence–he had a whole series of photos still on his camera wannasee’em? Not to mention how when he got Hulk Hogan’s autograph[1], the Hulkster had unknowingly cut his finger and bled on this guy’s paper. “Hah,” the guy laughed, “if I get a hair sample I could clone him!”

I’m pretty sure he was joking.

Eventually, the stories came to a close and the line got moving. After years of waiting, I finally got my face time with a slightly-under-the-weather George Romero (he gave me a courtesy laugh when I asked if we’d come back from the dead if we caught his cold). I got one autograph, a photo with him (thanks, person in line behind me!), and I got him to record a message on video for Rasine that I’ll play for her before we watch Night of the Living Dead together for the first time. It was awesome. He was very friendly and patient with the fans and I didn’t regret dropping $25 for his autograph. Which brings me to the biggest difference between this conference and the last one I went to…

Eight years ago at Cult-Con 2000 (see also), there was a nice line-up of stars there, ranging from Ruggero Deodato (one of his only American convention appearances) to David Hess to Antonella Fulci (recognize the head in the last photo?) to Claudio Simonetti. And all but a couple of them (Gunnar Hansen, I think) signed autographs for free, plus they’d sign whatever you brought them. The convention celebrity room has changed an awful lot since then. At HorrorFind, pretty much everyone charged $20 for each item you wanted signed, or you could buy a photo for $20 that they’d sign. This is kind of a bummer because it gets expensive really quickly and younger fans that are building up their collections have to make some hard decisions about who gets their money.

On the other hand, it is kind of nice to see these actors able to supplement their income for work that they did many years ago. They do deserve to make money… I just wish it didn’t have to be at $20 a pop.

I had hoped to come away with a stack of signatures covering all of the Living Dead films, but I ended up focusing my time (and money) on folks from Dawn of the Dead, the movie that kick-started my love of horror. A quick list with some impressions that most of you will skip right past (if you’ve made it this far):

  • Ken Foree – Didn’t want to sign next to Gaylen Ross’s signature, so he signed the front of my DVD instead. Whatever’s clever — friendly guy. Got a great shot with him that makes me look about two feet tall.
  • Gaylen Ross – Nice and took the time to talk about the movie a bit.
  • David Emge – Laughed when I told him I’d taken a photo of the elevator he hobbled out of as a zombie in Dawn of the Dead.
  • Scott Reiniger – Had a tough time hunting him down near the end of the show, but again, nice guy.
  • Mike Christopher – Super nice guy (he was the Hare Krishna zombie). I picked up an action figure of him to sign. Who could resist? It’ll be the perfect item to pass onto Rasine when she’s… four or five.
  • Leonard Lies – One of the few guys charging only $10 for a signature. Lies was the zombie who caught a machete to his head in the movie. I talked with him for about five minutes. He told me he grew up as a fan of Night of the Living Dead and was excited about getting a small role in the sequel. When he went to drop off his resume, he said, “I saw a man wearing a scarf and asked him if he could give my resume to George Romero.” Of course, the man in the scarf was George Romero. He also dropped an interesting fact I didn’t know: his zombie was originally supposed to be played by John Amplas (the lead in Romero’s Martin).
  • David Crawford – In only his second convention appearance ever, Crawford was probably the most humble and gentle. He was soft-spoken and really liked my Zombie Escape Plan notepad (courtesy of Huyen). I enjoyed talking with him and have already exchanged a post-conference e-mail with him.

The one other autograph I got was John Russo from Night of the Living Dead. I’ll refrain from any comments because it’s not really right to pass judgment on someone after only a few seconds talking to him. And it was only a few seconds. I’d say that I paid a rate of $3,600/hour for my joyless 20 second interaction. Did I say I was going to refrain from making comments?

One thing that kept coming up throughout the day was how lightly attended the convention was. Often times, you’ll see lines forming around the building just to get in, but on Sunday I was able to walk up to everybody and get an autograph and photo without waiting. Good for me, but many actors ended up leaving a couple hours early because traffic around their tables were so slow. I also heard one convention worker on the phone discussing how she was concerned about the low turnout and how there might not be a follow-up in August, as originally planned.

The dealer room was OK. A few indie horror films, a bunch of (mostly legit) DVD vendors, and some artists. I felt oddly uncompelled to buy anything. There was also a silent auction, where I just missed winning a set of board games.

So, all in all a good experience. Nothing mind blowing and though there were a few scattered seminars, movie showings, and book readings, I pretty much limited myself to the celebrities and dealers. I’d like to go to something huge like Cinema Wasteland sometime in the future to get that “big convention” vibe.

(Edited to add): I fully realize that this entry is pretty much the exact same thing the “sad” person early in the post did. I’m well aware what that makes me as well. Woo-hoo!

[1] It should be noted that there is a strong correlation between someone being a horror fan and that same someone being a wrestling fan.

All bow to Romero

With THE MAN

‘Twas a good weekend. More to come.

Remake vaporware?

What ever happened to the supposed Gaslight remake?

Return to Return to Sleepaway Camp

I can’t believe it’s been four years since I made that trip up to very-upstate Pennsylvania to be an extra in Return to Sleepaway Camp. Even harder to believe: the movie’s still not out.

In any event, I decided to repost the original photo set with higher resolution shots and additional pictures over on this new flickr set. You may also want to check out the movie’s official site for more info as well as my original recap of the weekend. Sadly, there’s been no news in the last six months, so I suspect we won’t even have a chance of seeing it on DVD for another year. It’s crazy to think that most of the extras I was there with are in college now.

Don’t forget to check out my IMDB entry because, hey, it doesn’t matter than I have a maximum of 15 non-speaking seconds on camera, I deserve a spot in the credits!

My Favorite Mario That’s Not Lopez

Way back at the beginning of the millenium, I pre-ordered a copy of Tim Lucas’ Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark. He was still working on it, but I decided to pre-order at the seemingly very expensive price of $97, hoping that it would be worth the money. Last month, the book finally went to press after decades of work on Lucas’ part. I was glad I pre-ordered, because the price jumped to $260 for new orders.

You might think, “Good Lord, how could any book on a single director be worth that much?” Answer: when it’s an obsessively comprehensive, 1128 page, 12 pound, hardback behemoth.

My copy arrived last Thursday packaged with more care than anything I’d ever ordered before. It’s just like everyone’s been saying: it’s a beautiful book that is clearly a labor of love. It’s almost beyond words the level of detail and amount of content that’s packed in the pages. I can’t wait to dig in.

And now, a picture of the gigantic book next to my tiny daughter. The book is, in fact, 70% of my daughter’s weight.

Rasine and Mario

A Life Change

I’ve been a member of Greencine since January of 2006. Greencine’s billed as a more indie/cult/rare film-friendly version of Netflix. I started with their one-out plan, but after a few months switched to their two-out plan. Everything’s been fine, but here’s the deal.

I’m switching to Netflix.

Did I just hear you gasp?

Why, might you ask, would I switch to something so mainstream as Netflix, especially since I haven’t had any serious issues with Greencine? Allow me the opportunity to break it down:

  1. Greencine has only one shipping location and it’s in San Francisco.
    This means that if I drop a movie in the mail on a Monday, there’s only a
    slight chance I’ll have a new movie by Saturday night to watch. This
    long turnaround time is why I switched to a two-out plan, so I’d always have
    something to watch. But after crunching the numbers, it’s just not a
    very good deal. Netflix will be a 2 or (max) 3-day turnaround time
    which means I can fall back to a significantly cheaper one-out plan and
    watch more movies. Better deal.
  2. One might think that Greencine has a way better selection than Netflix, but
    it’s not really the case. Not for my viewing selection of obscure
    horror and cult films with the occasional popular indie film or documentary
    thrown in, at least. Out of the 60 items in my queue, there were
    really only four or five that Netflix didn’t have. Not a big
    deal. Plus, Netflix had five movies that Greencine didn’t, so it all
    evened out.
  3. Until I started using Netflix’s site, I had no idea how crappy the
    experience is over at Greencine. Netflix has an excellent
    recommendation engine and things move snappier in general. The UI is
    well done with just enough AJAX-y stuff to emphasize the important things.
  4. Netflix offers some pretty cool “view now” options. Nine hours worth
    of time per month on the one-out plan is quite nice.

I’m aware that a lot of people have gotten annoyed with certain Netflix policies as of late, but most of the complaints are from people who are turning aroundevery movie they watch within a day (or less). I won’t be one of those people, that’s for sure (High School Ryan would have been a different story).

I did research a few of the other online rental places (Intelliflix, DVD Avenue) but they all looked pretty “meh” to me.

Don’t look a gift horse in the pants

Happy Birthday from Angela

I’ve got the best friends (thanks, Kristy!).