Our month of LOW BUDGET HORROR continues this week with the Sam Raimi classic THE EVIL DEAD. We’re joined by guests Jaimie Sarchet and Phillip Kelley to talk about that iconic cabin in the woods and to take a small glimpse into the crazy conditions on set. There’s a lot here so click on that play button ASAP, or that download button on your podcast catcher and hop to it.
Director: Frank Oz Screenplay: Howard Ashman Based on a film written by: Charles B. Griffith Starring: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, Vincent Gardenia, Bill Murray, Levi Stubbs Country: USA Running Time: 94 min (theatrical cut) 103 min (director’s cut) Year: 1986 BBFC Certificate: PG
I think I’ve mentioned this in a review before, but I’m not the biggest fan of musicals. I love music and love films, but putting them together too blatantly doesn’t always work for me. I think it’s mainly the stereotypical squeaky clean Rodgers and Hammerstein style that I don’t go for though as there are a couple of musicals I truly adore. Singin’ in the Rain is one of them and another is Little Shop of Horrors. The more often I watch it, the more I come to feel it’s my favourite musical. Yet it’s a film that’s largely only ever been available to watch in a form not originally intended by its director. Frank Oz’s Little Shop of Horrors was written and first shot with a particularly downbeat ending in line with the original short story, non-musical Roger Corman film and off-Broadway stage version. However, the bleak finale didn’t go down well with test audiences and the producers forced Oz to re-edit and reshoot the ending to be much more sugary.
Now I’ve never had a problem with the happy ending I’d seen several times previously, even though I was aware of how it originally concluded. Nevertheless, I was always intrigued to see Oz’s intended version of the film and my wish has been granted by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment who have released Little Shop of Horrors in a Premium Collection version, complete with the director’s cut, which is what I chose to watch for this review.
The miracle of She Who Must Burn, a film perhaps most efficiently described as Red State for grown-ups, is that it offers three well worn elements – scripture quoting after committing an abhorrent act of violence (and the Ezekiel quote from Pulp Fiction, no less), the phrase “a storm is coming” and ironic use of religious hymns – in its opening minutes. And yet it manages to mine all of them for powerful new ideological and emotional spaces. It is daring to offer a promise of an ending directly in the title, but like the Paul Greengrass directed account of flight United 93, squaring an inevitability of events with the audience early on, allows the viewer to focus on what is at the heart (and on the minds) of the characters caught in a terrible drama unfolding.
The setting is a microscopic rural town, far enough and impoverished enough to render cellphones and internet absent. This is the place where people confronted each other face to face rather than social media. They talk in kitchens or on front lawns, and the telephones are made of bakelite. The tone feels cinematically timeless, and dramatic tension often derives in the conflict between apocryphal and artifice. In pictures like this, the miracle of artifice is miracle enough to tell the truth about the world. It reminded me of both Ed Gass-Donnelley’s Small Town Murder Songs and Jeff Nichols’ Shotgun Stories. Fine company to be in, that.
Angela (Sarah Smyth, whose blonde haired and blue-eyed visage convincingly channels Naomi Watts) runs an abortion counselling service out of the home she shares with Deputy Sheriff Mac (Andrew Moxham). The local preacher, Jeremiah Baarker (co-writer Shane Twerdun) along with is his sister Rebecca (Missy Cross), her husband Caleb (Andrew Dunbar) and other members of the parish, are often picketing the ‘clinic’ because of their faith. That Mac and Angela live there out of wedlock further seems to embolden their activism-terrorism to the point of criminal trespassing. This is not in any way benign, because Jeremiah’s father is seen in the opening minutes of the film murdering an abortion doctor, and is happily sent off to prison for that crime to self-confirm his faith vs. the secular world.
Director: Barry Levinson Screenplay: Barry Levinson Starring: Mickey Rourke, Steve Guttenberg, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Tim Daly, Paul Reiser, Ellen Barkin Country: USA Running Time: 110 min Year: 1982 BBFC Certificate: 15
I tend to review screeners of interesting films I haven’t seen before here, but when I’m offered Blu-Ray special editions of old favourites it’s hard to say no. Warner Bros. have recently introduced a new Premium Collection series, exclusive to UK HMV stores, and the first batch of 10 titles include three films I’d class as particular favourites of mine, alongside several other classics. The three dear to my heart, which I’ll be reviewing over the coming weeks, include Little Shop of Horrors (1986), The Shining (the Extended Edition, not previously available in the UK) and Diner. Kicking off my reviews will be my thoughts on the latter.
Barry Levinson’s Diner follows a group of college-age friends in 1959 Baltimore as they hang out, primarily in the open-all-night Fells Point Diner. Each man is at a pivotal point in their life, be it about to get married, stuck in a marital rut already, facing impending parenthood within a strained relationship, on the verge of getting in trouble with the law or the wrong crowd, or simply not knowing what to do next with their lives as they prepare to dive headlong into adulthood.
Kurt and Andrew get into a little bit smaller film this week with Joshua Marston’s Complete Unknown in which it’s kind of unnecessary to praise Michael Shannon at this point, but we do reckon with the fascinating filmography of one Rachel Weisz and come to agree that she’s one of the more interesting big name actresses working today. Next up, Kurt dives into the multi-plex for some Big Hollywood thriller with Emily Blunt and her train riding. Sorry folks, it’s not as exciting as it sounds. Next up, apparently The Light Between Oceans is too depressing for even our computers to listen to and so it decides to cut out some of what Kurt is saying. We get the gist though and despite divisive opinion, he manages to convince Andrew it’s worth a watch. Lastly, Andrew goes back to revisit a sequel to one of his more beloved films, Bill and Ted. This week, those crazy kids find themselves going to hell, heaven, purgatory and wouldn’t ya know it, the future! But does it work as a film in 2016? And finally, Kevin Costner makes a triumphant return to the Cinecast when we talk once again about the greatness of the Kennedy administration – or at least how it’s portrayed on screen in Thirteen Days. Hashtag better than Stone/Morris.
As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
Welcome back to Mamo! Join us for a far-ranging discussion that starts with Donald Trump, Devin Faraci, and complicity in rape culture; wraps its arms around Ava DuVernay’s 13th and Queen Sugar and the proper use of one’s “power list” capital; and gets, generally, into where we are right now.
Tragically underseen at theatrical release time, John Wick has grown into somewhat of an internet phenomenon. That is, the 2016 equivalent of a “cult” film. Based on Box Office alone (about $40 mil domestic and another $40 mil foreign), I’m a little surprised to see a sequel emerge. I guess when you’re budget is only $20 mil and you quadruple that in sales, Hollywood is willing to give you a second shot. Ergo, this author is delighted!
The poster was released a handful of hours before this trailer was and I have to admit I wasn’t all that impressed – hence not mentioned in this post. But the trailer has me excited. It’s got that same dark look of a fictional city cast in an overnight blue color. The rules of the assassin’s society still seem to be in play and Wick is once again out for some serious blood justified.
I’m so happy it’s dropping in the middle of February when we I really need something like this to life my spirits and just give me some straight-up, yet well thought out (hopefully) action thriller. Starring thealways energetic and charismatic and passionate Kenau Reeves, is anyone else super excited for this?
It is Halloween month, so out come the horror pictures! This ‘one room’ (well it is a big 1980s car) creature feature is directed by Bryan Bertino, who turned out the wonderful The Strangers in 2008. Scott Speedman returns (no sign of him in the trailer) in some capacity, with Zoe Kazan in the lead. A24, the micro-distributor of good taste is putting it into cinemas, although somehow they resisted the tagline, “It was a dark and stormy night…”
The Monster will screen at the Sitges Film Festival on October 15, before a limited theatrical release and VOD on November 11.
Paterson, New Jersey. City of waterfalls, inspiration to poet William Carlos Williams, and in a post-modern sense, to poet Jim Jarmusch. This minimal German poster for the film highlights several, but not all elements of the film, does not showcase the star, Adam driver, but rather the city and the mood of the film, contemplative, a bit blue, and a wee bit out of sorts with ones pet.