Sunday, October 9, 2016

"Dawn of the Dead" (1979) in 3D: Review

Last night, I took in the North American premiere of the 3D version at BeyondFest in LA. Being a longtime "Dawn" aficionado, I kept thinking it would either be a fiasco or fantastic. It turns out it's a major treat--I have NEVER seen "Dawn" look or SOUND clearer. I was picking up bits of background dialogue that I had never caught before, even after seeing the film untold dozens of times. The clarity of the picture--no doubt essential to the 3D process-- was incredible. The 3D experience of "Dawn" is fascinating and it's hard to explain quite how. The "money" gore shots aren't necessarily the most effective ones in 3D: intimate, character-driven scenes like the one with the one-legged Priest work extremely well in the process. The same goes for any shot involving characters in big, open areas, or behind glass, for some reason. The 3D "Dawn" is well worth seeing (and hearing!). Before the movie started, Rubinstein said that he hadn't made any editorial changes to the movie, which is almost true: during the end credits, they used freeze-frames of the shots of the zombies shambling through the mall. That's a minor quibble, and other than that, it's true to the original film. The good news is, what could have been a gimmicky desecration of a great American film proved to be the opposite.

As added bonuses, Producer Richard Rubinstein intro-ed the film and Ken Foree, John Harrison, and Zilla Clinton were sitting two rows down from me. BeyondFest threw t-shirts into the audience reading "When there's no more room in Hell, BeyondFest will walk the earth." It was an indescribable kick seeing John Harrison watching himself as the screwdriver zombie.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

RIP Edward Albee

There are few things more annoying than an author, actor, or other artist getting off on the sound of their own cleverness and describing in endless, hellish detail how their "creative process" works. Artists of any kind can easily become too smart for their own good (and the good of their audiences). So I will say "Rest in Peace" to Edward Albee with this wonderful Albee quote:

"Few sensible authors are happy discussing the creative process. It is, after all, black magic."

Saturday, August 27, 2016

RIP James Whiton, Dr. Phibes' co-creator

I'm saddened to report the death of writer James Whiton, the co-creator of "The Abominable Dr. Phibes." I was one of the only people to ever track Whiton down to interview him about the film, and he proved to be alternately incredibly helpful and incredibly unhelpful. He was almost as odd and reclusive, in his way, as Dr. Phibes himself, but he was responsible for helping bring one of my all-time favorite fictional characters to life, and provided me with vital information that I will always be deeply indebted to him for. As I put the finishing touches on my "Dr. Phibes Companion" book, his passing feels all the more poignant to me because he contributed so much to it. RIP.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Where are you, Benny Hill, when we need you most???

I wish that Benny Hill was alive for many, many reasons, but, right now, mainly because I want to see a Trump-Hillary debate with Benny playing both Trump and Hillary.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Love Letter to "Taxi Driver"

I've seen Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" a ridiculous number of times, but no matter how much I revisit it, it still astonishes. It's so sophisticated, it's like watching a movie from the future that happens to have been made forty years ago--so much more modern than any 21st century movies. The sheer virtuosity of the thing, the incredible balance of bleakness and humor, every last element coalescing into a perfect alchemy of genius . . . And I would love to hear spoiled NYC hipsters' reactions to rancid old '70s Manhattan: "You can't fool me--that's not Manhattan! That's the Gaza Strip! Or Mordor! It HAS to be!"

Monday, March 7, 2016

Silverstein Fever?

What's with the wave of Shel Silverstein lookalikes roaming around these days?

The bald/beard look is kind of beyond me. I guess "The Giving Tree" is hugely popular with thirty-ish guys nowadays.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

An Open Letter to Death by Justin Humphreys

Dear Death,
You've been playing the motherfucking fool a LOT lately, and, speaking for the entire human race: lighten up a little and work on your aim.