Trailer: Lost Soul – The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau

 

The tales of epic cinema disaster that involve the 1990s remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau are many. Two extremely difficult actors to work with, Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, the former was dealing with the suicide of his daughter, the latter was going through a nasty divorce at the time. Richard Stanley had developed the project for four years, but was replaced midway through shooting by New Line Cinema with John Frankenheimer. Stanley legendarily kept sneaking onto the set to sabotage shooting, as his original script was slice and diced on a daily basis. Basically a very expensive studio film was being changed on the fly while the actors and former director were hell bent on destroying the thing. The result is a terrible film, that is surprisingly watchable if only for its terribleness.

In the spirit of Jodorowski’s Dune and Lost in La Mancha, filmmaker David Gregory has interviewed many of the people involved, in particular showcasing Richard Stanley, in the whole debacle as a lessons-learned documentary. I missed this on the festival circuit, where it got a quiet, and quite sparse, release, but it is now getting theatrical/VOD distribution, and as a result, a new trailer was cut for the film. Enjoy.

Review: Jodorowski’s Dune

Dune

One of, if not the, most famous films never made was Dune. Sure, we got the mid-eighties David Lynch version – admittedly that is a significant guilty pleasure of mine – and some terrible TV miniseries in the early 2000s, but every science fiction cinephile worth their salt has drooled over the folklore behind Chilean writer-director-mime-surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version which would have starred Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, Udo Kier and Salvador Dali and scored by Pink Floyd. The implosion of the project in the mid 1970s and the scattering of the creative and technical team resulted in Ridley Scott’s Alien, but also, according to the storyboard matches inside the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, inspired imagery from Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flash Gordon, Contact and a host of other classic blockbuster science fiction epics. It was something like all the musicians that were at that one Sex Pistols show went on to create almost the entire Punk movement.

This documentary may be a talking heads and animated cut-away straightforward but when you have the burning energy of Jodorowsky as the main subject, even at 84 years young, there is more energy and passion (and more than a bit of crazy) to burn. His vision of the coming of a cinema version of Frank Herbert’s cultish science fiction novel was as the coming of a cinematic God. It was to be something sacred, with more than a touch of madness. That he had never actually read the book, well that wasn’t going to stop him. He assembled his creative team, his ‘spiritual warriors’ in Paris from all over the world, young special effects and writer Dan O’Bannon (Dark Star, Alien), graphic artists Moebius, H.R. Giger and Chris Foss and preached to them, almost like a cult priest or guru, for months in designing the storyboards and production design element. None of the creative team had read the Frank Herbert novel either, trusting to Jodorowsky’s unrelenting passion for his own ideas and vision. To say there was hubris and grandiosity going into the project is an understatement, but this is the writer director of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, the former film birthed the idea of a “Midnight Movie,” a practice which still continues (to a degree) today, and the latter, perhaps the strangest movie ever made. Trying to raise money from Disney, Paramount and the Other studios proved fruitless, as nearly everyone speculates, it was too visionary (and its runtime likely too epic) for the Hollywood Studio system, and too expensive to make anywhere else.

Thus, the project lives on as a dream. The perfect dream that exists in the minds of a few, because it was never realized, has become idealized. Something that was to be made by spiritual warriors to mutate young minds has, after 40 years, passed into kind of a legend, almost myth, and it is now collected here as kind of a bible insofar as the storyboards and concept art collection that resulted and how it is further (and handsomely) eulogized by way of this documentary.

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Celluloid Screams 2011

As plugged here a few weeks ago, Celluloid Screams is a horror film festival based in Sheffield that took place between 21-23rd October this year. With a lovingly selected mixture of horror films of all kinds – old, new, gory, scary or downright disturbing, there was something for everyone. I caught pretty much every minute of the festival in all it’s blood-drenched glory, only skipping a late night showing of Re-Animator because I was knackered and had seen it before not so long ago. Below is a full round up of reviews from the weekend. There were a whole load of quality shorts too, so I’m going to devote a separate post to those a little later.

Friday Night

Inbred

Director: Alex Chandon
Screenplay: Alex Chandon, Paul Shrimpton
Starring: Jo Hartley, Seamus O’Neill and James Doherty
Year: 2011
Country: UK
Duration: 95 min

A locally produced film, celebrating it’s Yorkshire premiere at the festival, Inbred is an ultra-gory horror-comedy that gives a blackly humorous spin on the Deliverance ‘city folk trapped in the wilderness’ formula. A group of misfit teenagers travel to the Yorkshire dales for a team-building holiday with two social-workers, but get treated to a type of ‘Northern Hospitality’ they weren’t expecting. It’s a gleefully offensive, silly, yet occasionally rather nasty film that balances it’s humour, drama and horror effectively to deliver a fast paced and entertaining 95 minutes. It’s also got some very impressive make-up and special effects for such a low budget release. Unfortunately, none of the core elements are quite strong enough to raise the film above the level of ‘decent’. The performances are merely serviceable and the presentation of the ‘locals’ pushes silliness to it’s limits with their joke shop teeth etc. As a whole package it’s fun and worth a watch though, so long as you’ve a taste for it’s humour and gore. It was refreshing to see such a professionally produced and original feature coming from so close to home too.

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Fantasia 2011 is Go: Red State, Attack The Block, The Wicker Tree and more

 
 

I am very excited to make my way to Montreal in mid July for at least a portion of the mega-sized Fantasia Film Festival.

The initial press release promises thus far for an interesting mix of genres and guests, including Kevin Smith’s Red State to kick things off (hey, that’s a big step up from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice last year!) as well as The Wicker Man director Robin Hardy will be doing a panel/conversation with Hardware‘s Richard Stanley on his often delayed, but now complete follow-up, The Wicker Tree which will make its world premiere. John Landis is being honored for lifetime achievement (insert controversy).

The wonderfully tight Scottish thriller A Lonely Place to Die (Kurt’s Review) is going to make its Canadian debut. Shunji Iwai’s (All About Lilly Chou Chou) Cannes-debuted Vampire is on the docket, as well as Brit-fantasy Burke & Hare.

Also making appearances is the much hyped (in geek circles) Attack The Block, Takashi Miike’s Ninja Kids!!! and the oddly titled new film from Johnnie To, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. (We have no doubts that you will, Johnnie!)

More (much more) is in the press release which is tucked under the seat.
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Doomsday Marathon: Hardware

Doomsday Movie Marathon
Hardware_5

At first glance, Richard Stanley‘s cult science fiction film may seem like a cheap hybrid of Alien and The Terminator. It has a claustrophobic location in a grungy post apocalyptic world and it features a well-realized mechanical nightmare dispatching (with much gore) anything that comes in contact with it. What sets Hardware apart from these to films is tone. It riffs a lot more cynically on the nature for people (and societies) to destroy themselves indirectly; this world seems far more nihilistic and lacking in hope. While Stanley has an eye for capturing his vision in memorable images, much as Ridley Scott or James Cameron, perhaps more violently than either of those the above quite grisly films, he also does not make you want to root too much for his lead characters – or by extension, humanity.

Kicking off with a familiar 1980s post-apocalyptic ‘desert walker’ motif, only this time under a startlingly red filter, there is the uncovering some military junk, a robot head, first by the winds (of chance) then by the walker himself. The film establishes its tone perhaps more effectively with Iggy Pop’s DJ narrator gleefully relishing in how fucked up earth is after a series of wars and environmental disasters. To the films credit, this is not done in a blunt or explicit fashion, but simply with the panning of the skyline, the weather forecast and the playing of some hard-core industrial rock as a ‘golden oldie.’ Cut to outer-zone soldier, Moses (Dylan McDermontt), and his side-kick “Shades” (John Lynch) trekking around town (Los Angeles perhaps?) running errands before Christmas.

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Cinecast Episode 142 – Aging Oddly

Episode 142:
With the strange release dates in different cities this time of year it’s difficult to come together and actually have seen the same recent films. Yet we somehow always find a way. Today’s show is just Kurt and Andrew back together for a classic shoot the shit discussion on everything we’ve seen theatrically over the past few weeks – from remastered Halloween classics to the latest Almodóvar and Todd Solondz. We also get into a little early Oscar talk (including the new hosts just announced) and of course weekly DVD choices. Hope you enjoy this little back and forth and feel free to leave your thoughts on anything you wish in the comment section below and
!Thanks for listening!

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