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Michael_Elliott

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Writing for Three Masters, 10 February 2016

Argento! Bava! Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti (2010)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

This thirty-three minute interview with Dardano Sacchetti has him talking about the various giallo films that he made with the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci. The writer opens up about how he stole Argento's phone number, which led to a meeting and them working together. From here he explains how he ended up writing Bava's A BAY OF BLOOD and SHOCK as well as what it was like working with Fulci on eight of the director's films.

Needless to say but if you're a fan of these three artists then you're certainly going to enjoy this interview with a man who worked with all three. What makes this interview so good is that we not only get an idea of how Sacchetti got into the business and stayed in it but we get a great behind-the-scenes look at how the three directors were at various things ranging from what they most wanted out of a screenplay to how they related to actors. The writer talks about Argento not minding plot holes as long as the style was there and he has some surprising comments about Fulci and his actors.

Entertaining Look at the Oscar Winner, 10 February 2016

William Holden: The Golden Boy (1989)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Robert Mitchum, Sidney Lumet, Cliff Robertson, Blake Edwards, Glenn Ford, Nancy Olson, Rupert Allen, Stephanie Powers, Richard Steele, Robert Wagner and Robert Wise are all interviewed about the great William Holden. The documentary, like others in the series, does a great job at giving you an idea of how the actor got into the business and then a great overview of their work.

Through countless film clips and interviews with Holden's colleagues you really get a great idea of what he was like including his not really liking to be in Hollywood, which would come out even more as he grew older and moved to Europe. Those who knew him share some great stories about the man including some nice thoughts from Robert Mitchum and Robert Wise.

Fans Will Enjoy This, 9 February 2016

Without a Paddle: Revisiting 'Up the Creek' (2016)

*** (out of 4)

This fifteen minute featurette can be found on the BLu-ray release of UP THE CREEK, the 1984 comedy that took cast members from NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE and PORKY'S and brought them together. Actors Stephen Furst and Sandy Helberg are joined by casting director Harriet B. Helberg as they discuss the production of the film. Several nice stories are told including the actors originally doing the role that eventually went to Tim Masterson. We learn that Michael Keaton and Steve Guttenberg were both set to play the lead. The actors discuss how they ended up in their roles and discuss what it was like shooting the picture. For the most part this is an entertaining featurette that fans of the film should enjoy, although I must admit that I was hoping for a bit more. I was disappointed that Dan Monahan wasn't interviewed but it's possible he was asked but turned down the role. The disappointing part is that he's not even mentioned in the featurette.

El Topo (1970)
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I Didn't Love the Film But It's Certainly Unique, 9 February 2016

El Topo (1970)

*** (out of 4)

Often considered the king of the midnight movies, Alejandro Jodorowsky's EL TOPO is part Spaghetii Western and part avant garde madness. El Topo (Jodorowsky) is a mysterious gunfighter dressed in black who shows up out of nowhere and must go up against four other gunfighters.

EL TOPO is a rather miraculous movie in the fact that it became a huge box office success across the world. I say it's a wonder this happened because there really aren't any other movies quite like this one and there's no question that Jodorowsky has a certain flair for cinema and there's also no doubt that his vision is something no one could try to recreate. Part Bunuel, part madness, EL TOPO is an ultra-violent film that manages to be about whatever is going on in the viewer's mind.

I'm not going to sit here and call this film a masterpiece like so many have. Yes, I'm sure many potheads and acid trippers saw this in the theater back in the day and was blown away by it. You also have the likes of John Lennon and Roger Ebert who called this a masterpiece so there's no question that a wide range of people love this movie. While I didn't love it I can at least respect what the director was going for, which was pure madness.

I think the best thing that can be said about the film is that it has a unique look that isn't like any other movie ever made. The film benefits from the non-stop violence that runs throughout the picture and each death is usually done with a ton of gore coming out of the bullet wounds. People call George Romero or Lucio Fulci the Godfather of Gore but it could be said that the realistic violence and over-the-top gore started right here.

As for the story, there really isn't one. The viewer could draw countless conclusions as to what the film is about and not one explanation would be better or worse than another. Personally I thought the film ran on way too long and at times I found it to be quite boring. Still, the originality factor alone makes EL TOPO something everyone should see at least once.

Hellions (2015)
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Deadly Dull, Boring and Certainly Not Scary, 8 February 2016

Hellions (2015)

* (out of 4)

Seventeen-year-old Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) learns that she's pregnant on Halloween. After receiving the news she decides to skip a party and stay home where she's soon being terrorized by a group of trick or treaters.

HELLIONS got quite a bit of pre-release buzz and the folks at IFC Midnight hyped the film up making people think they were finally going to get another classic that took place on Halloween. The buzz was pretty high for the movie but the end result is somewhat of a joke because I found the movie to be really, really bad on so many different levels. Were horror fans really this desperate for a film set on Halloween that some would praise this thing?

There have been several movies based around the psychological issues of a woman who finds out that she is pregnant. That's obviously what this movie was going for but the biggest problem is the fact that the film never really gets inside this character's head and not for a second is there any sort of tension or mind games that scare you. In fact, the "world" created by the various visions here are all rather good looking but they're just flat and contain no energy or scares. THE WIZARD OF OZ these images are not.

Another problem with the film is that it's simply deadly dull because there are just so many fake dream sequences that you really grow tired with what you're watching. When your lead character keeps going through a nine month pregnancy over the course of a night you pretty much know what's going on and the eventual twist means zero. I will say Rose was decent in the lead role and it's always nice seeing Robert Patrick but HELLIONS is just a really bad horror film that once again is all hype and nothing else.

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The Making of a Cult Classic, 7 February 2016

Pumpkinhead Unearthed (2008)

*** (out of 4)

Fans of the cult film PUMPKINHEAD will certainly enjoy this sixty minute documentary that takes a look at the production of the film. Co-writer Gary Gerani is joined by cast members Lance Henriksen, Cynthia Bain, Kerry Remsen and Florence Shauffler among others and we also get special effects workers Tom Woodruff, Shannon Shea and Alex Gillis. The documentary is spread over six chapters and for the most part all of them are quite entertaining. Some of the best stuff happens early on when we learn about some early ideas for the film and how everything changed once Stan Winston came on board. The director is sadly missing from the documentary but we certainly get a good idea of what it was like working with him with each of the cast members telling some good stories. While this certainly isn't as detailed as some future making-of featurettes it's still worth watching.

Season 1 Episode 9, 7 February 2016

In Search Of... "Martians" (1977)

This episode in the series takes a look at a wide range of things in regards to the planet Mars. We start off taking a look at the Georges Melies film A TRIP TO THE MOON and then focus in on Pervical Lowell and his early thoughts on the planet. From here we get into theories on whether or not life has ever been on Mars and if the fate of Mars could happen to Earth. This episode is entertaining, although it's certainly a far ways from the previous one dealing with the mummy's curse. The best thing about this is just seeing how things like pollution were being looked at in 1977 compared to today. The stuff dealing with cities beneath the ground on Mars was also quite fascinating.

Episode: B

Good Documentary, 7 February 2016

Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs (2007)

*** (out of 4)

Christopher Lee narrates this documentary, which was originally shown in IMAX theaters. I had to watch it at home but I can imagine how great some of the images must have looked on such a large format. With that said, the story being told here was rather interesting as the documentary takes a look at ancient Egyptian history and the various import discoveries throughout the years. These discovers are of course traced back to tomb robbing, which was a major source of money back in the day. The main focus is on the biggest discovery, which led to various founders of Egypt being discovered.

The other focus of this documentary is on getting DNA from mummies in hopes that one day we can tell what people died of. For the most part I found this to be an entertaining documentary. I watched it with my six-year-old son who loves this subject and he was slightly entertained by it, although he wasn't overly interested in the DNA stuff. There are some nice images of various mummies that have been discovered over the years as well as some nice information of their discovery. Lee certainly does a very good job with the narration with that terrific voice of his.

Season 1 Episode 8, 7 February 2016

In Search Of... "The Mummy's Curse" (1977)

The eighth episode of the first season is certainly one of the greatest as it takes a look at various curses based around mummy's. The big example is of course the legend of King Tut and the various strange deaths that followed the entering of his tomb. We also learn about other Egyptian curses where many people believe deaths followed the disturbance of the tombs. As I said, this here is certainly the most entertaining episode up until this point because the stories being told are just so darn fascinating but the episode is also quite creepy at times. Obviously Nimoy does a great bit with the narration and we get some terrific images of various artifacts take from King Tut's tomb.

Episode: A

A Great Concert for Fans, 7 February 2016

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: The River Tour, Tempe 1980 (2015)

**** (out of 4)

When Bruce Springsteen puts together a reissued album he pulls out all the stops. When it came time for The River to be re-released not only did we get the two disc album but there was also a disc of outtakes, the original single disc version and a bonus documentary. The greatest extra was this concert that was recorded in Tempe, AZ on November 5th, 1980. Sadly this here was the only portion of The River tour that was actually filmed and sadly there are five songs that weren't filmed but if you're a fan of The Boss then this concert is a must have.

You know you're going to be in for a hell of a show when the concert kicks off with "Born to Run." If you're a Springsteen then you're going to notice everything captured here from the terrific setlist to the wonderful E Street Band and of course that insane amount of energy that the lead singer brings. The show clocks in just under 160 minutes and there's not a single second that there's not some sort of passion and energy. The Boss jams through terrific versions of Prove It All Night, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Two Hearts, The Promised Land, Out in the Streets, Badlands, Thunder Road, Fire, Hungry Heart, Drive All Night, Jungleland and many, many others.

As you can tell, all of the classics are on full display but the concert also gives us a look at several of the (at the time) new tracks from The River. Again, if you're a fan of Springsteen then you're going to expect this sort of wonderful show but if you've ever wanted to show a friend what all the hype is about then this show is the perfect thing to show them. The video quality is quite good considering the era that it was recorded and they've remastered the audio in PCM and DD 5.1. No matter which track you listen to your home theater will be getting a great workout. This is certainly a must have for fans.


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