Character actor Ed Lauter has died. In a career that spanned over forty years, he was a familiar face on both television and film (and active until the end with appearances in "Trouble With The Curve" and "The Artist"). And with the greatest respect and affection, he also costarred in one the greatest bad films of the eighties.
For your October delight: Top 10 horror movies, as picked by Guardian critics, Ten Exceptionally Well-Written Horror Films, Top Ten Horror-Sci-Fi Films: A Primer And Pseudo-History, The 12 Weirdest Vampire Movies Ever Made, The Top Grossing Scary Movies Of All-Time, and, perhaps most importantly of all: The 25 best horror films on netflix instant.
Twitter: @HardSciFiMovies imagines the plots of SF/F movies moving more in line with reality.... [via mefi projects]
Kevin Smith has been given the green light to shoot his next film, a horror movie about a man forced to dress up in a walrus suit by a sadistic tormentor. The film will be called 'Tusk'. Smith was inspired by a real life advert placed on Gumtree earlier this year in which a man who had befriended a walrus called Gregory while living on a remote island off Alaska (now heartbroken, having returned to the UK), offered free rent in his Queen's Park flat for anyone willing to wear a walrus suit for two hours a day. The advert was a prank by a Brighton performance poet. I am not making any of this up. [more inside]
Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki's 22 year collaboration continues to break new ground with the release of Gravity. Whether you enjoy Gravity or not, you may want to take a moment and consider the lengths to which Cuarón and Lubezki went to make Gravity a fully immersed cinematic experience. [more inside]
The character posters for Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" are , ahem, here (NSFW).
"Midnight Run" celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, so its prime time to take a look at what may be the pinnacle of the Action-Comedy genre. [more inside]
"Here’s what was off-limits, according to many of the people I grew up with: books about witchcraft, the writings of Anton LaVey, Ouija boards, New Age crystals, pentagrams, albums with backward masking, and the music of most heavy-metal bands. ... Yet here’s what was okay to enjoy, according to those same chums and acquaintances: The Omen. The Amityville Horror. Rosemary’s Baby. The Exorcist. These movies passed muster because they didn’t encourage people to dabble in the dark arts; they warned people." The Exorcist And The South's Love Of Devil Movies.
Monsters Rule OK: A British Horror Playlist. Fangoria presents a mixtape of British horror that includes musical selections from Blood on Satan's Claw, The Wicker Man, Chocky, Berberian Sound Studio, A Field in England, Children of the Stones, and Twisted Nerve—as well as dialogue excerpts from Don't Look Now, The Stone Tape, Hellraiser and others.
“Movie theaters wanted nothing to do with popcorn,” Smith says, “because they were trying to duplicate what was done in real theaters. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.” Movie theaters were trying to appeal to a highbrow clientele, and didn’t want to deal with the distracting trash of concessions–or the distracting noise that snacking during a film would create. - So Why Do We Eat Popcorn At The Movies Anyway? (Smithsonian Mag)
Mia & Roman (1968) is a 23 minute-long behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of Roman Polanski's film Rosemary's Baby.
The Last Thing You See: A Final Shot Montage [contains flashing images]
"In comic books, as in the moving image, the frame is the constituent element of narrative. Each page of a comic book is a frame which itself frames a series of frames, so that by altering each panel's size, bleed or aesthetic variety, time and space can be made elastic. Weisinger and Boring's Phantom Zone took this mechanism further, behaving like a weaponized frame free to roam within the comic book world. Rather than manipulating three-dimensional space or the fourth dimension of time, as the comic book frame does, The Phantom Zone opened out onto the existence of other dimensions. It was a comic book device that bled beyond the edge of the page, out into a world in which comic book narratives were experienced not in isolation, but in parallel with the onscreen narratives of the cinema and the television. As such, the device heralded televisual modes of attention." - Daniel Rourke on Superman's Phantom Zone (well, kinda...)
The trailer to the "Robocop" remake was released yesterday, and as expected there was a lot of grumbling from fans. There is one significant change that the film shares with another recent remake of a brutal action film ("Total Recall"): The switch from an "R" rating to a "PG-13". Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the "PG-13" rating, so it's worth considering (especially for those of us whose memories go back that far) what the rating has wrought in cinema (previously).
The 1991 CBs made-for-TV movie adaptation of Shadow Of A Doubt and the 1943 Alfred Hitchcock version are based on the same source material and contain many of the same lines, beats, and scenes. So why is one considered a classic film noir and the other a flop? The Dissolve puts the two movies next to each other and tries to find out.
"Harrison Ford Angrily Points At Stuff" Supercut, courtesy of Conan O'Brien.
If you rented VHS horror and sci-fi in the late eighties and early nineties, then you’ll recognize the name of Charles Band. [more inside]
Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Ecstasy of Hedy Lamarr - Science! Fascists! Orgasms! Libel! Escapes From Literal Castles! (SoCH previously and Anne Helen Petersen previously)
A six-minute documentary snippet discusses Kubrick's camera modifications for special, low-light f/0.7 Zeiss lenses used to film candlelit scenes in Barry Lyndon, now available to rent by aspiring filmmakers.
As much as Metafilter loves Jim Henson's Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, neither of those films would be half as powerful without the work of Brian and Wendy Froud. [more inside]
In the mood for some ginormous LEGO dioramas from beloved films? Of course you are! Besides the usual suspects of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Batman, there are some equally impressive projects to be found based on Logan's Run, The Fifth Element, 300, Mothra, and even The Wizard of Oz.
"But The Shining speaks to what makes Kubrick such an interesting and, for a lot of people, troublesome filmmaker, because he does not give you what you want. At all. He does not give you a Vietnam movie set in the jungle, and he does not give you a horror movie that is just like Stephen King’s The Shining. He doesn’t even give you scares for a long time, [just] ominous foreboding. And it takes people a while to figure out, “Oh, maybe I don’t know what I want. Maybe this is better.” - Mefi's Own Jon Hodgman talks about Full Metal Jacket with Scott Tobias for "The Last Great Movie I Saw."
The rise of video-on-demand services like Netflix and dedicated cable-TV channels has created a new industry in low-budget B-movies; meet Asylum Films, an outfit in California following in the footsteps of historical B-movie auteurs like Roger Corman, Menahem Golan and Uwe Boll, with films with titles like Sharknado, Transmorphers, Sex Pot and Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. Asylum's new B-movies are made quickly and cheaply to ride the coattails of the big studios' fads, filling gaps in the market for more films about, say, adorable puppies, alien battleships or apocalypses. The films are made to a strict formula, are played entirely seriously, with no hint of irony or knowingness, and are designed primarily to pad out rental lists and appeal to recommendation engines, though the producers point out that often mainstream Hollywood fare is often no less hackneyed and formulaic. (Previously...)
Music review site Pitchfork has branched out. Today marks the debut of The Dissolve, which will be dedicated to film. With talent acquired from Slate, NPR and the AV Club, the website is starting with a high pedigree.
Though it became an epic flop and forced Francis Ford Coppola to declare bankruptcy, the 1982 musical One From the Heart (previously) did produce one hell of a soundtrack featuring the unlikely collaboration between Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle. Here's the story of how it all came together. [more inside]
While it's widely known that US television likes to hire actors in thier 20s to play characters in thier teens, have you ever wondered what actors playing teenagers actually looked like as teenagers? Actual Teen Vs Adult Teen has you covered.
There are many subjects that will get people mad on the internet, but in cinephile circles, the reddest flag is aspect ratio. Ever since the bad old practice of pan and scan was abandoned, DVD and Blu-Ray releases have tried to echo the widescreen aspect ratio that a film was released in, but that's often very hard to get right. Most recently, the Blu-Ray reissue of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon resulted in prolonged arguing and triumphant research. How did things get so confused? Filmmaker John Hess is here to explain, with an extensive and excellent history of aspect ratios.
With the TV premiere of Mary Harron's Anna Nicole Smith biopic fast approaching, The Hairpin wonders what other indie/art house filmmakers would do with the same subject.
Craft Truck is a filmmaker website and home of the web series Through the Lens, a regular series of interviews with leading cinematographers. [more inside]
"If I had to conduct an experiment that would give an insight into neorealism, I'd build a time machine and travel to Italy, circa 1952. I'd ask Vittorio De Sica to make a film using Hollywood actors like Montgomery Clift and Jennifer Jones. I'd then team De Sica up with a Hollywood producer, the kind that liked to impose his will and sensibility onto a film—someone like David O Selznick. In bringing these two worlds of cinema together, I'd hope for a clash of sensibilities so great that it would result in two cuts of the same film, one by De Sica and the other by Selznick. I would run these two films side by side and examine each cut, and in the difference I would find something to say about the essence of neorealism."Sight & Sound magazine's excellent video essay 'What is neorealism?' compares Terminal Station to Indiscretion of an American Wife.
In the early eighties, Orson Welles was a fixture at L.A.’s Ma Maison, where Wolfgang Puck was the chef before he moved on to Spago. Nearing 70, and 40-plus years removed from Citizen Kane, which he made when he was just 25, Welles was fat and famously difficult, no longer a viable star but still a sort of Hollywood royalty—a very certain sort. The younger director Henry Jaglom was one of many aspiring auteurs who admired him but possibly the only one who taped their conversations. These took place in 1983 over lunch at the restaurant.
Rifftrax (previous and previously and previouslier) hilariously carries on the tradition of MST3k. And though the premise is much the same as before, the Rifftrax folks have added something new: MP3 Commentaries. Instead of confining themselves to public domain and titles whose rights are easy to procure, they do commentaries on hollywood blockbusters in audio form only. People then can sync them up to their own DVDs of these films and sit back to experience riffing on the likes of Nicholas Cage instead of John Agar. This is great for home viewing, but what about their live shows? Then someone came up with an idea. [more inside]
Today saw the release of the first trailer for The LEGO Movie, and there are some interesting things to note about it. [more inside]
When it comes to unappealing couples that have been featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Arch Hall Jr. and Marilyn Manning are near the top of the heap. Their appearance in Eegah provided rich fodder for Joel and the bots. And yet, only one year after the release of Eegah, Hall and Manning would find themselves together again in radically different roles. [more inside]
No Animals Were Harmed is the Film and Television unit of the American Humane Association. Their website provides details on the different kinds of certifications films and television shows earn and how they go about earning it. You can browse recent films (such as Life of Pi and Django Unchained) or page through their archive (which includes everything from Fellowship of the Ring to Rushmore to… (cough)… Apocalypse Now).
Will The Real Mr Sellers Please Stand Up - a rare ~50min film narrated by Spike Milligan and made during the filming of 'The Magic Christian'*via Cinephilia and Beyond. [NSFW - some nudity] [more inside]
The Vampires, a secret federation of thieves and killers, rule the Paris underworld through intimidation, murder, and a certain diabolic je ne sais quoi. After the headless body of the police inspector in charge of the Vampire investigation turns up in a swamp, dauntless reporter Philipe Guérande steps up his efforts to bring the gang to justice. But is he equal to the schemes of the protean Grand Vampire and his lieutenant, the cat burglar, assassin, and sometime torch singer called Irma Vep? And can anyone hope to prevail against the rogue criminal Moréno and the unearthly power of his gaze?Les Vampires (1915-1916), Louis Feuillade's six and a half hour film serial, still communicates the nerve, pace, and delirium that inspired Lang, Hitchcock, Assayas and Maddin. Here are all ten episodes of this "supreme delight of cinema." Three more of Feuillade's best serials wait below the cut. [more inside]
Do you turn off Old Yeller before the end so you can pretend that he lived a long and happy life? Did a cute pet on a movie poster make you think it would be a fun comedy but it turned out to be a pet-with-a-terminal-illness tearjerker instead? Are you unable to enjoy the human body count in a horror movie because you're wondering whether the dog's going to kick the bucket? Have you ever Googled "Does the [dog/cat/horse/Klingon targ] die in [movie title]?" If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then welcome - DoestheDogDie.com is here for you! [more inside]
Philip French, Observer Film Reviewer and possibly Britain's Greatest Living Movie Analyst puts down his pencil after 50 years. A living repository of cinematic knowledge, French's ethos is "You should assume your reader is intelligent, but not necessarily as well-informed, since they spend their days doing something else for a living." He will retire from August. [more inside]
The British Film Institute's YouTube channels offer a staggering amount (previously) of content on historical cinema, shorts, and discussion. Some short selections from the early and silent period of note - The Sick Kitten (1903) - How Percy Won The Beauty Competition (1909) - Tilly The Tomboy Visits The Poor (1910) - Suffragette Riot In Trafalgar Square (1913) - The Fugitive Futurist, in which a man on the run shows a device that can see far into the future (1924) - Vaudevillian legend Billy Merson Singing 'Desdemona'. Widely considered Britain's first sound film - (1927) Charley In New Town - part of an animated series from the Central Office, this one explaining the need for "New Towns." (1948) - Growing Girls, a filmstrip guide to puberty for young women (1951).
In the archives of Cinema Canada (1962-1989), articles about the relationship of Canadian cinema to American genre films, the Canadianization of popular comedy, and "what is 'Canadian film'?" stand out as typical--even commonplace, given their context. They also happen to suggest an interesting mix of obscure and popular films to watch. [more inside]
American cinematographer Garrett Brown to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of the Steadicam (previously).
Dan Goodbaum edits together selected excerpts from Elvis Mitchell's interview with Quentin Tarantino about the role of food as a indicator of power in his movies (full interview here). Grantland's 20 Best Tarantino Food Scenes
A 'Back-to-the-Camera Shot' supercut, in which a character stands (usually) centre frame, gazing out onto an epic landscape. All film titles are listed, with timecodes, in the 'about' section. [SLYT]