Thursday, March 07, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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Monday, February 11, 2013
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
I had only briefly heard about this movie eons ago. It wasn't until I discovered it on Netflix and read up on it, that it peeked my interest further. I think DEATH LINE was a better title rather than the American title RAW MEAT which comes across more like a torture porn film than a cult classic like it is.
I didn't know what to expect, cannibals running amok in a London underground with Pleasence and Lee as the leads, sign me up! Diving into this I was not only surprised about how fun it was, but the production value was incredible.
Donald Pleasence plays Inspector Calhoun who is a snarky fun character that is needed among the raw and disturbing setting that is the other half of this story. I found myself laughing quite a number of times with his comments to Norman Rossington who plays his side kick Det. Sergeant Rogers. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost must have seen this film growing up, watching Pleasance and Rogers' back and forth has eerie similarities to Pegg's and Frost's on-screen relationships in their films.
Christopher Lee shows up for about a nano second as a MI5 spook who tries to throw Pleasence off the case of a missing "OBE" played the great James Cossins, though he's in the film for less time than Lee is. Regardless, Lee's and Pleasence back and forth barbs are fun with Pleasence delivering the last line "Fuck off" to Lee under his breath.
We then jump to what is a decent into hell. Cinematographer Alex Thomson (EXCALIBUR, LEGEND ) takes us to the lair of the cannibals. We follow a long silent arduous journey through the labyrinth of tunnels and rotting corpses to find The Man weeping over his dying wife. The set pieces and atmosphere are incredible. Thomson's lighting only kisses the art direction, giving them enough textual and visceral life in creating a perfect unsettling experience for the viewer.
The other side to this story has our heroes played by David Ladd and Sharon Gurney who are the catalyst of this story. They are perfectly fine playing the "straight man" roles and are needed of course to bring the story to fruition. But my money was on Pleasence, Rossington and Hugh Armstrong who knock this flick out of the park.
If you're looking for a classic Hammer style film or even just good fun, RAW MEAT delivers!
Posted by Darkside Films at Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Sunday, February 05, 2012
20+ years later I revisited this movie again last night. My memory began kicking into high gear on what scene was coming next and what to prepare for. But what I was too young to understand or even acknowledge at the time was the care that everyone took in making MANIAC come to life. Regardless on how you may feel about the subject matter this is a little masterpiece much like HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986). MANIAC was made between $48K-$150K back in 1980 and shot on super 16mm with a small crew and a lot of favors being pooled together.
It lends it longevity to several bolts of lightning that struck during this time. One was the relationship between director William Lustig who was in his early 20's and by no means a seasoned director, yet legendary character actor/friend Joe Spinell (ROCKY, GODFATHER 1,2, TAXI DRIVER) etc. found something in Lustig and went with it when presenting him with the idea of doing a horror movie such as MANIAC. Lustig himself admits in the commentary that he gave Joe some pointers, but said overall that this was, "Joe's movie, Frank Zito was his character that he created." Sometimes the best direction is letting the actors do what they do best.
From the various docs I've now watched and material I read in the last 24 hrs. Joe wanted to be a headlined actor and with Hollywood putting him in movies as a character heavy. He wanted more than that. So he came up with the story of Frank Zito a building superintendent that suffers from a host of mental illness and child abuse who goes on a killing spree in New York trying to fulfill the void left by his dead mother.
Most of the film was shot guerilla style even the infamous Savini head blown scene. But when the film comes back to Zito's apartment it's as if we've entered a the fun house of a literal maniac. Deep purple walls that are reminiscent of the Joker's colors to strange surreal paintings hanging on the wall to the copious amounts of mannequins that Zito uses for his own dress-up sessions and tea parties.
Veteran FX artist Tom Savini came to this project delivering 120% The old school effects are affective and stomach churning not to mention they go on and on which in this day and age is a rare commodity in film. To Jay Chattaway delivering an unforgettably scary, sympathetic soundtrack which is available btw on amazon.com for $114 bucks. A hot item for die hard fans. To cinematographer Robert Lindsay who captures perfectly the gritty, dark 70's feel of New York we all know and love as cinefiles.
The final kayro syrup that holds this film together ultimately is Joe Spinell delivering the goods. After watching all the hub bub around this movie when it came out it's a shame that his performance wasn't recognized more. I went back to watch the commentary today and between listening to the stories and watching Joe again. There is a reason why this guy has gone down in history as one of the most memorable killers in film ever.
MANIAC is not for everyone, but if you do decide to venture out to rent it or stream it. You will be in for a mad candy treat that will sit in the confines of your subconscious for many years to come.
Posted by Darkside Films at Sunday, February 05, 2012
Saturday, February 04, 2012
Wonderfully crafted between gathering hundreds of clips from these gems that in some cases never saw American theaters and with interviews ranging from George Miller, John Seale and Steve Bisley to name a very few this is an unabashed good romp. With my notepad beside me I scribbled down title after title and am looking forward to discovering some of these flicks for the first time.
Tarantino of course is peppered throughout flapping his gums, but thankfully Hartley uses him well. And even though the genre is a Tarantino "love fest". His comments playing along side the clips shown dare I say validate his points to the untrained eye.
What I like about Hartley's docs is the unabashed interviews where people don't toe any line on what they feel is politically correct to say about one another's work. You have film critics blatantly wishing certain producers and directors would go away forever to the filmmakers themselves lashing back at these very critics as well as actors who make off the cuff comments about working on certain pictures.
One segment they dive into is the Dennis Hopper film MAD DOG MORGAN where Hartley is able to interweave bits of an interview he did with Hopper before his passing. Though his recent interview is not incredibly insightful it does add to the lore of his behavior in that particular movie and subsequently what we have heard over the years with his reckless behavior.
Much like MACHETE MAIDENS and AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE the filmmakers accumulate shots of posters from that time period which always fascinated me as a kid because as you can see from the tiny collection I gathered here. These movies look like the most badass pieces of cinema. I feel Hollywood much like the car industry has moved towards creating benign adverts to an increasingly mediocre product. Where as in the grindhouse era for example you have these amazing works of art to represent a movie whether it's content was good or bad you always remember the poster. For me one example was ROAD GAMES, the Stacey Keach, Jamie Lee Curtis movie which I've never saw, but if asked I could easily recall the poster art from when I was a kid wandering through the shelves of my local video store.
Posted by Darkside Films at Saturday, February 04, 2012