Video Violence

You know, I got buddies who are really into the shot-on-video horror movies of the ’80s. Some of them, like SLEDGE HAMMER for example, have been getting loving re-releases lately (with limited edition VHS version, even). Personally, at least where I am in my journey as a man and spiritual being at this point, I draw the line at shot on video. If I rent one on accident I turn it off immediately, wrap it in 3 plastic bags and bring it back. I watch a z-grade movie like BLOOD MASSACRE shot on actual film and I think if these motherfuckers could get it together to achieve that minimum level of professionalism then there’s no excuse. Yeah, money, but maybe that’s a helpful type of elitism, a firewall put in place to protect us.

But I knew VIDEO VIOLENCE had a video store prominently featured, and I thought Fangoria did a nice retrospective on it a few months ago, and also I forgot it was shot on video until I put it in. And I decided to give it a chance.

(It turns out the Fangoria article I was thinking of was THE VIDEO DEAD, an early DTV zombie movie.)

The title might actually be VIDEO VIOLENCE… WHEN RENTING IS NOT ENOUGH. You’d think that would only be the tagline, but it actually says it on the opening credits, so IMDb lists it as the title. It’s the story of a guy who used to run a movie theater in NYC, but wanted to escape the big city, so he and his wife moved to a tiny town called Frenchtown and opened a small video store.

One day somebody returns their personal video instead of the movie they rented, and his employee decides to watch it, and it seems to be a home video of somebody (the recently retired postmaster, he says) being murdered. He goes to tell the police chief, but stupidly leaves the video alone with his employee, and when he comes back both are gone. The chief blames this all on a prank, but we know it’s not because we saw the opening scene (actually labelled onscreen as “PROLOGUE”) where two men working at a sporting goods store spy on a woman in the dressing room and then murder her on camera.

But it starts to seem like it’s not just those two guys, as a woman leaves more tapes on the counter at the store, and somebody else slips one in his wife’s purse, and other people seem to be in on the cover up. We start to see some of the tapes of these crazed rednecks tormenting people. This guy Eli calls his “The Eli Show,” pretends like it’s a talk show with a sidekick and guests and everything, and says “We’re going to torture and kill you on network television.” (not accurate)

The best scary maniac in the movie is Ed of Ed’s Deli, who could work as a nice old shopkeeper but seems more at home when he gives a couple poisoned lemonade and then uses the deli slicer on them.

The video store in this one is called The Video Studio. It’s way smaller than the one in BLOOD MASSACRE, but still has room for a selection of video cables and advertisements for film transfer services. There are also plenty of posters I could recognize: WILDCATS, QUICKSILVER, APRIL FOOL’S DAY, CRITTERS, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., CROSSROADS, MURPHY’S ROMANCE, JAGGED EDGE, GUNG HO. There’s what looks like a POLICE ACADEMY poster with a yellow background, but if so I can’t figure out which one. There’s a sign on the door that says “Official Ghostbuster Station.” Best by far is a painted RUNAWAY TRAIN poster on the front window.

Writer/director Gary P. Cohen says in an interview on the DVD that he really worked at a video store at the time (I’m assuming the same one they filmed at). So he tries to fit in these little discussions of how the business works and stuff. In one scene the guy tells the police chief he found the video in the “drop box” and then explains that that’s what they call the box under the “drop slot.” Very helpful. There’s an uneventful part where a woman brings up movies, tells him they’re late, and she pays the late fee. Naturalistic detail. In another scene a woman returns videos and says, “Here. These are on time,” which seems like a weird thing to say, but I guess this guy knows his business.

It’s got some goofy stuff for you youths, out of date video stuff, talking about how many people own VCRs and treating them like not everybody knows how to operate them. There’s a scene where the chief loads the tape into a giant, top-loading monster.

There’s a scene where a customer at the store asks about why a movie is rated R, is there nudity in it? And he says it’s probably because of all the gore and violence, and she says okay, the kids can watch it then. In that interview, Cohen explains that that was a conversation he really had, and that was why he made the movie. He’s pointing out a weird hypocrisy in American culture, that some people are prudish about depictions of sex but have no problem with graphic violence. (Some people – in fact, many people take that too seriously too.)

If you’re thinking this is one of those movies like FACES OF DEATH that were supposed to shock your pants off, the titeltacular violence is not all that frequent. There are a couple beheadings and dismemberings done with lovably crude rubber effects, but the rest is just fake blood. Still, this movie is guilty of its own type of hypocrisy, because instead of arguing that it is okay to see nudity in movies it seems to be arguing against violence in movies, while being a violent movie. It does have naked breasts in it, but only in the context of women being tortured. Not loving sex or sunbathing or anything.

In fact, there’s a weird motif of self-referential criticism. When they’re discussing the first video the wife says, “You know, he probly just taped a horror movie off of television,” and the guy says, “No, it was shot on video. I mean, it had the same quality as a soap opera, or one of those rotten commercials. Not a film.” Later the wife makes a less critical meta-comment, suggesting that a vampire-themed snuff video “could be one of those low budget films that was shot for the home video market.”

Despite the seeming anti-video-violence stance, this is obviously made by horror fans. They’re sure to get the covers of many great horror classics on screen. When a customer asks for “that chainsaw movie” you assume they’ll grab him THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, but instead they give him PIECES. The movie the no nudity lady was renting was BLOOD CULT, the first shot-on-video made-for-home-video movie. (It’s also known as SLASHER and included on that Serial Psychos set I rented for BLOOD MASSACRE, but I couldn’t do it. Sorry, history.) They avoided the #1 cliche of ’80s horror fan references by not having characters named after John Carpenter and Joe Dante and everybody, but they do have #2: showing Fangoria Magazine. The dude poisoned by lemonade was about to buy an issue with a cover story on Cronenberg’s THE FLY. There’s also a Famous Monsters of Filmland on the magazine shelf.

I gotta admit, this was much more watchable than I expected. I somewhat enjoyed some of it. The actors are apparently from community theater, they don’t seem convincing at all but are easier to take than some of the artisan acting in some movies like this. To be honest the biggest problem with being shot on video in this case is not the crappy look of it but that it doesn’t have the get-to-the-point economy created by not being able to afford much film. They could’ve edited this thing alot quicker. There’s a scene where it’s just the characters sitting and watching one of the videos they got, and the killers put credits on the video, and the credits are really long. And it shows them! Overly long fake credits.

Since they can just keep shooting and didn’t have as much time to edit they end up with a bunch of long scenes of just cars driving from one place to the next. And it doesn’t have the visual or audio hypnotic feel of the long driving scenes in GHOST DOG or even BROWN BUNNY. It’s just some shitty keyboards playing repetitive melodies over home video of a normal car driving several blocks and under the speed limit. Painful. I have to admit I started fast forwarding through some of these scenes and the torture videos to make it through the 100-minutes-with-credits running time. That’s a pretty short movie but it’s way too long for this.

There’s also a VIDEO VIOLENCE PART 2, included on the same DVD, and apparently shot on regular VHS instead of 3/4″ tape like this one. Cohen explains of these movies, “No, they’re not good, but they’re in earnest.”

Anyway, I think I’ll sit out part 2.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 20th, 2012 at 2:34 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

65 Responses to “Video Violence”

  1. BLOOD CULT isn’t really that bad, Vern. Well, I mean, it’s horrible, obviously. Completely horrible. But the acting is alright and everybody is really ugly and wrong for their parts (the sexy young coed looks like she’s a 45-year-old mother of three), so there’s a weird disconnect going on between what you’re seeing and what the script is telling you. And it’s pretty gory, at least. It’s better than the filmmaking team’s next movie, THE RIPPER, which the video box will tell you stars Tom Savini but he only shows up for about five minutes at the end and makes a total mockery of himself. The team did much better for the sequel to BLOOD CULT, REVENGE. The camerawork and photography is much improved, so much so that I kept wondering how they managed to make video look like film. Then I learned that they did shoot it on film and decided to take back the A for effort.

    Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with this. Maybe I should start watching better movies.

  2. omg is Vern gonna review Boardinghouse???

  3. Gotta love the PIECES reference. Still my favorite cheesy horror film. I think I last mentioned it in the POPEYE review. It deserves a spot in your Slasher Search!

  4. I’m with you, Anaru, a Boardinghouse review would be pretty awesome. If you’re gonna ever force yourself to sit through another shot on video fiasco, Vern, that one’s honestly fairly entertaining. Perversely, I actually saw it in a cinema in Hammersmith, and the director turned down the chance to introduce it. Seriously man, he’d have got a standing ovation. Poor guy probably missed out on the high point of his filmatist career because he thought we’d just point and laugh. In all fairness, there was a lot of pointing and laughing going on, but in in a genuine enjoyment way, nothing mean about it.

  5. “Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with this. Maybe I should start watching better movies.”

    Don’t say that Mr. M. I like to think we learn as much about the movies and life by watching the turkeys as much as we do the classics. Remember the Kael quote on trash. (Except sometimes trash is not gem considered by somebody else, but just a dirty diaper that you just accidentally stuck your hand in.)

  6. “artisan acting”.
    I had to re-read the following sentences a couple times because I was still chuckling away internally and coudn’t pay attention to the words on the screen.

  7. Okay, I know you don’t do celeb gossip, Vern, but if the rumors are true that Cage is going to be in a reboot of the Left Behind series, this needs to be addressed. It could be one of the most magnificent specimens of mega-acting ever. Plus, I wonder if this is fodder for that book he’s writing on his own actin method. (Unfortunately, not called mega-acting.)

  8. Man, I remember this one. I actually saw it on actual VHS. I’m actually surprised I didn’t see more of these in the VHS days.

    Cage vs the rapture. I’m only worried they won’t let it be as awesome as it should be.

  9. I hope that Nicolas Cage isn’t one of the left behind. He is more suited for the role of the anti-Christ. Think of Pacino’s over the top performance in The Devil’s Own, except this time with more of an arched Cage type performance. It will be the acting equivalent to a Hieronymous Bosch painting.

    This Video Violence film sounds like an interesting precursor to the found footage horror films. Isn’t there an anthology film called V/H/S that recently came out. And doesn’t that Ethan Hawke movie, Sinister, involve the Hawke finding some old footage of crimes. What I’m trying to say is, this is a timely review.

  10. Except it’s not found footage and the killers are playing to the camera with wooden line readings. Would “delivered footage” be an accurate genre?

    RBATTY I’d rather see Cage go up against the Antichrist you describe. They’re scrapin at the door, man.

  11. there’s no way that Nicolas Cage Left Behind movie is actually going to be made, nobody but fundamentalist Christian retards wants to watch that kind of shit

  12. “there’s no way that Nicolas Cage Left Behind movie is actually going to be made, nobody but fundamentalist Christian retards wants to watch that kind of shit”

    well, since MEL GIBSON PRESENTS: CHRIST SNUFFER grossed about 600 gadjillion dollars (if i remember correctly), i imagine you can turn quite a profit just by kicking ass in the “fundamentalist christian retard” demographic.

  13. @All Concerned: The notion of Nicolas Cage playing the Antichrist… is something that stirred my outside-the-box mentality. Stirred, not shaken. Shaking an outside-the-box mentality only leads to full-blown insanity, which is a dead-ended road with a bridge in the middle of it, and said bridge is monitored by an actual troll named Skippy whose iPod battery just died, and he’s none too happy about it.

    So… Helpful Hint #1: Don’t go THERE.

    If, and ONLY if, Nicolas Cage is gonna play Satan, then it needs to be the blackest mother of social commentary comedies, with a robust supporting cast including:

    Tom Green as Lucifer.
    Verne Troyer as Beelzebub.

    and opposing this Funboy Three Of Darkness we have:

    Christopher Walken as God (which he technically/kinda already played in Click), and
    Norm MacDonald as His only begotten son… Jesus Christ.

    Maybe throw in Stephen Dorff as Judas and Amy Adams as Mary Magdalene, but that’s strictly sideshow stuff. It’s optional.

    Still, Judd Hirsch as Karl Marx, breaking the fourth wall towards the end of the film, is a must.

    And let’s title it “Biblical Proportions”.

  14. Phillip – but wasn’t Mel Gibson’s flick an independent movie? IE not green lighted by any of the major studios?

    Hollywood likes to stay away from Christian movies, now the reason why is up to your own opinion, it could be because they’re run by the Devil worshiping Illuminati or more likely it could be because while The Passion of the Christ was successful, it was also the most controversial movie of the last 20 years and while Hollywood likes making money, it also likes to avoid rocking the boat in any significant way and nothing riles up Americans more than that ancient bearded hippy that got executed for preaching peace and love (man) and may or may not (again, it’s up to you) come back to life and gone to Heaven

    you’ll notice that Hollywood also generally likes to avoid explicitly atheist themed movies as well

    so my point is, there’s no way in Heaven or Hell will there ever be a mainstream produced, big budget, actual actor starring movie based on Left Behind

  15. Griff: There have been periods of time where explicitly Christian subject matter was acceptable in mainstream film. There was a mini-boom in the 80s with stuff like HEAVEN CAN WAIT, THE DEVIL AND BILL COSBY and the OH GOD movies. And in the arthouse, stuff like WINGS OF DESIRE and HAIL MARY. I agree with you that this material tends to be couched in either high-concept comedy, action or horror idiom in order to be seen as acceptable by mass audiences.

    Implicit Christian themes and values, of course, are present in countless movies, in some cases being almost as punishingly didactic as the Left Behind books.

    Also: Anyone remember that film where Walken played an angel/assassin and Satan was played by Viggo Mortensen? Am I correct in remembering that those two performances were actually pretty good, despite the lackluster film that surrounded them?

  16. That would be THE PROPHECY. It starts off well but goes downhill when Eric Stoltz’s badass angel (SPOILERZ) kicks it at about the half-hour point. It gets really boring for a while (as movies starring that sadsack motherfucker Elias Koteas often do) whenever Walken isn’t onscreen moving like Jagger, but picks up again at the very end when Viggozebub shows up. All in all it’s the dictionary definition of a two-and-a-half-star movie: a bunch of good elements, doesn’t really hang together very well.

    There were like 14 sequels, all starring Walken, but I can’t vouch for them.

    Speaking of Christian themes in films, let’s not forget biblical epics like THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

    And the reason Cage won’t be in a LEFT BEHIND film is because they can’t afford him. He’s still doing four or five mainstream studio paycheck movies because he needs to crawl out of debt. There’s no way a $15,000,000 independent Christian film can pay his salary AND stage a semi-convincing biblical apocalypse. I mean, I am to understand that, for some reason, Russia launches EVERY NUCLEAR WEAPON IN ITS ARSENAL at Israel, only to have them swatted out of the sky by a meteor shower from God, causing flaming planes and missiles to rain down into the streets by the thousands. That’s gonna be expensive.

    I would see the shit out it if they did make it, though, as morally repugnant as those stories are. The problem with the “end of days” evangelicals is that they actually WELCOME the downfall of society because it hastens the return of Jesus. They feel that doing anything to improve the conditions of our planet or its populace is contrary to God’s will. These people aren’t even really Christian by any stretch of the imagination. There’s no way JC, a righteous cat by any reasonable standard, would approve of standing idly by while people suffer. These fuckers are so eager to get to heaven they’re willing to burn the whole world down to get there. So having Cage around making a mockery of their movie would be just about perfect.

  17. I meant to say “four or five mainstream studio paycheck movies A YEAR.”

  18. Majestyk: That famous novel by Jose Saramago depicts Christ much in the manner that you describe: he’s appalled and horrified when he learns what God’s plan for him and the world is.

    I agree with you that a full scale armageddon movie would be fun, especially with Mega-Cage at the heart of it. KNOWING kind of hinted at the possibilities. As did the SOUTH PARK movie. At the other end of the spectrum, I think something like Tarkovsky’s STALKER demonstrates that Christian values can be explicitly addressed in a thoughtful, compelling way.

    Also, for my money, the best Lucifer I’ve seen on film recently was Tom Waits in DR. PARNASSUS. He really stepped up his game for that performance in a way I didn’t think he was capable of. So few actors – even Viggozebub – fail to get the seductive aspects of Old Scratch so perfect.

  19. Seems there are four sequels to THE PROPHESY. Walken bailed out on the last two.

    The third one has our man Brad Dourif in it. And, uh, the guy who played Kenny Bania on Seinfeld.

    If someone can confirm that Walken and Dourif share a scene, I might have to watch that one.

  20. The best Satan I ever saw was Ray Wise in Reaper.

    He was the best Satan because he seemed so harmless charismatic, and jovial. Just do a few bad things, no one really gets hurt, right? We’re just indulging ourselves a little bit, they’re already bad people, having a little fun, ultimately they shouldn’t take life so serious, right? And then of course he would let a little of the evil in, a little of the corruption and it was perfectly executed. You would see that this motherfucker had designs for your soul, he was going to lead you into total darkness and you wouldn’t see it coming.

    It didn’t always work but a few times they pulled it off he was 100% The Best Satan.

    Now, Reaper wasn’t a great show by any means but Ray Wise’s overly tanned, white smile and devilish grin will always stay with me.

  21. Ray Wise’s role as 100% The Best Satan dovetails so nicely with his role as 100% The Totally Worst Dad.

  22. I miss REAPER. Ray Wise was totally awesome. I don’t know what’s the bigger shame. That the show was cancelled too early (while CHUCK [by no means a bad show, but inferior to REAPER] got 5 seasons and got resurrected more than once) or that Wise didn’t win any awards for his portrayal.

  23. Who said it’d be mainstream? Cage’s last three non Ghost Rider movies basically went straight to video.

    Best movie Satan was Justin Timberlake in THE SOCIAL NETWORK.

  24. I haven’t seen SOCIAL NETWORK, but it would be quite an accomplishment if Mr. Timberlake’s performance was better than Donald Sutherland’s memorable portrayal of the same character.

  25. C’mon Jareth, them’s tha jokes, baby!

  26. Mel Gibson’s Christ movie came out at the very peak of evangelical popularity. These people had just managed to get a president elected, and the country as a whole seemed okay with that at the time. They had spent the last few decades establishing political pundits, media companies, and even universities throughout the country, so they had a pretty big soap box to stand on in the early aughts. But a lot has changed since then. New Atheism has become more popular (and more and more people are flat out claiming that they do not believe in God). People have also turned on George W., the evangelical president. And now that gay marriage is finally becoming accepted, lots of evangelicals are having a hard time presenting their arguments about “traditional marriage” with a straight face. I just don’t think that an overtly Christian film can have the same sort of impact these days.

    I do think there are a number of great Biblical stories, mostly from the Old Testament, that would make fascinating movies. But I think in order to do that, they need to be looked at as historical epics or myths. If you present Biblical stories from a religious perspective, then I think an overabundance of reverence might stifle them.

  27. Mr. Majestyk – you’ve just highlighted my ultimate problem with modern day evangelical Christianity is they ultimately don’t give a shit about anyone or anything because they’re so convinced that we’re always right around the corner from the Apocalypse and they can’t wait! despite being the most horrible thing anyone can think of they welcome the death and destruction of billions so long as their ass can get into Heaven early

    I’ve even had my own father (who’s big into end times stuff) flat out tell me not to worry too much about College or this whole “life” business because we likely wont see the end of the decade anyway (and he said the same thing about the 2000’s as well, that we wouldn’t see the end of it)

  28. Griff, I just read a historical novel (The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson) in which an endtimes dad posed a similar question of his son, who wanted to go study with the Natural Philosophers of the Royal Society. The son makes an agriculture analogy and says “Would you admire a farmer who let his fields be overrun with weeds, simply because the End was near?”

    So put THAT down on pops next time he goes on about that…

  29. renfield – I’ve heard of those novels, aren’t they set during the golden age of Piracy? that makes it pretty funny if there were people convinced the end was near centuries ago (and I’m sure there were)

  30. Griff: they take place in the 17th and 18th century….the endtime that they were expecting is 1666 and sure enough, the world didn’t end…

  31. Prophecy trilogy is friggen great – 2 and 3 are worse, but Walken is consistently worth it in my opinion

    Check out this goldden line from part 3

  32. I gotta agree though, I don’t think Cage is really gonna do LEFT BEHIND. Even the DTV looking GHOST RIDER 2 cost $57 million. BANGKOK DANGEROUS $40 million. TRESPASS $35 million. KICK-ASS $30 million. Oh, wait… but SEEKING JUSTICE was $17 million. We’re getting closer to LEFT BEHIND’s reported $15 million. But he would have to be doing it for the money so I’m not sure he’d go for it unless they’re giving him a cut of the profits and have convinced him it would be huge. Or if he could just run in and shoot it on a weekend and they do the rest with puppets.

    It’s possible that he’d do it but I think it’s more likely that they’re just talking to him and using his name to get the movie in the news. What does interest me is that they say Vic Armstrong (Harrison Ford’s stunt double, good 2nd unit director, director of Dolph’s ARMY OF ONE) is in talks to direct. The only LEFT BEHIND I’ve seen was WORLD AT WAR, because it was directed by fellow stuntman/2nd unit director Craig Baxley.

  33. I did interpret Timberlake’s role in that movie as the devil.

  34. Christians have been waiting around for the apocalypse for nearly 2,000 years. A lot of historians think that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who preached about the end times. Apparently these were quite common back in the day. From what I understand, that part in Monty Python and the Life or Brian where you see a bunch of crazed prophets is likely a more or less accurate depiction of Israel around year 0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8WmvMCTW_g

    But you have to think to yourself, if these people have been waiting for the end times for 2,000 years, what makes them think it’s going to happen in the next decade, or even the next millenium, much less happen at all.

  35. Because everybody thinks they’re special. Deep down inside, no one believes that they’re just a blip on the timeline. They all think they’re living at the very apex of history. They don’t like thinking that everything will continue without them when they’re gone.

  36. RBatty024 – I’m sure people in the past had their justifications too, but the justification today seems to be stuff like nuclear bombs and Israel being an official state

  37. Proof of Majesyk’s theory can be seen when people start talking about who they think they were in their “previous lives.” They always cast themselves as someone like Dante or Cleopatra or Robert Johnson. No one ever tells you that they were just some schmoe living in a hut feeding chickens, learning about the Fall of Rome years after the fact.

    The long-running Christian show Touched By An Angel ended in 2003, which might support RBatty’s argument. Within a couple of years the show went from being a top 5 show to barely scraping into the top 100. Another Christian show 7th Heaven was also winding down at the same time. And stuff like Joan of Arcadia never really took hold.

  38. Since this comments section is already all over the map I wanted to bring up that while going through all the reviews to build the Timeline I noticed there are at least a couple of readers who are in the DC area. I’m in Potomac, MD so if anyone’s up for catching a movie somewhere in the area let me know. Maybe it would be worth setting up a topic in the Forums for other Vern fans for possible meet-and-greets.

  39. You know, I quite like Peter Stormare as the devil in CONSTANTINE. He has a nice mix of charismatic and perverse, and it helps quite a bit that he’s Peter Stormare. The all-white suit with the dirty bare feet is a pretty neat detail.

    But I’m with Jareth, Tom Waits wins all. There’s a great casual vibe to his ultimate evil. He could easily crush you — I love the scene where he sidles up in a blood-drenched apron– but he’d prefer to amuse himself by letting you think you could win. In fact, he cares way more about watching you suffer trying to overcome than he does about ultimately winning.

  40. A girl with whom I had a physical relationship once said that Peter Stormare’s Satan reminded her of me. She swore she meant it as a compliment. We neither look nor sound anything alike, so I can only assume that I project a sense of louche malevolence that she found irresistible.

    Clubside: I’ve thought about doing something similar for New York, but then I remembered that New Yorkers spend roughly 95% of their time actively avoiding having to look at each other.

  41. Clubside — I’m one of those DC-ites, and I can pretty much vouch for at least one other as not being a serial killer. I’d definitely be interested in a Vern-centered meet up.

  42. I always liked that bit in END OF DAYS where Satan/Gabriel Byrne makes out with some dude’s wife in a restaurant. The dude goes to say something but Byrne glares at him and he backs down. Then he blows up the restaurant, for some reason. Also he fucks Udo Kier’s wife. Satan’s kind of a horndog in that movie.

  43. Mr. Subtlety: I think it’s one of life’s great mysteries that CONSTANTINE had such a talented cast, interesting ideas, and respectable special effects, yet still resulted in such a meh film. Tilda Swinton was super creepy.

    I think the most effective depiction of hell I’ve ever seen was on Carnivale. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but that episode in the first season where Dreifuss’ daughter encounters the coal miners in the town of Babylon is one of the most chilling things I’ve ever seen.

  44. I’ve seen CONSTANTINE twice now, and , I still like that movie. Cool special effects, an intriguing view of the world, and I’m always a sucker for movies where death is the least of our hero’s worries. Plus, I think Keanu pulls it off, as totally wrong as he is for the part. (I am not overly familiar with the HELLBLAZER comic, but Garth Ennis’ “Dangerous Habits” storyline, the one the movie is mostly cribbed from, is one of my favorite arcs ever. I find it kind of devastating. It makes me want to call up all my old friends and apologize for not staying in touch more.) He doesn’t really come off as a dufus anymore. Maybe it’s because I know what he’s been through, but I can really feel the sadness at his core in his recent choice of roles. He’ll never be a particularly versatile or expressive actor, but I think he wears his new gravitas well.

    I’ll have to take your word for it on CARNIVALE’s version of hell, since, like everything else about that show, I’ve completely forgotten about it. I watched the whole damn thing just to see if any of it had a point and got totally burned. What an entire waste of time that show was. I’m extremely reluctant to dig into any of the current crop of prestige cable dramas because they all seem to meander and obfuscate when they should be building momentum. I don’t want to get carnivaled again.

  45. It would fly in the face of popular sentiment for me to try to argue that Carnivale is actually pretty straightforward and coherent (I think it is), but even those who wished for something more immediately gratifying tend to agree that it was masterful at creating some really disturbing set pieces, like the seemingly gentle guy who makes death masks. Or Adrienne Barbeau seeing dead people (particularly Sofie’s scary mother, who somehow got more scary after she died). Or Reverend Clancy Brown asking his mentor to bash in his noggin. Or Jonesy’s unfortunate encounter with tar and feathers. Or the killer bear that wears a little hat!

    Defending Carnivale is the worst task. It’s like trying to convince a guy who is about to break up with his girlfriend for legitimate reasons that she is actually the greatest person on earth.

  46. Oh, I agree that CARNIVALE is very straightforward. It just takes the most roundabout path possible to get to the most obvious place. Its big finale (which I realize was not supposed to be the end of the series, but that’s the risk you run when you have the hubris to assume that your weird, boring, really expensive show will last six seasons or whatever the original plan was.) basically just affirmed everything I’d figured out by like the fourth episode. The bulk of the running time was just a bunch of lugubrious fluff and dead-end sideplots stretching out the scant mythology far past its breaking point.

    Also, Nick Stahl has to be the least charismatic human being on earth. What a terrible protagonist. He’s the one who had all the problems but whenever anybody offered to help him figure them out, he just threw a hissy fit and stormed off like fucking Nomi in SHOWGIRLS, just to delay the inevitable point when the show would have to admit that, no, it didn’t really have an ace up its sleeve. It’s all gonna play out more or less as you expect. It’s just gonna take forever to get there.

    I’m glad you like it, and I’m sure there was plenty of good stuff that I’m forgetting. Otherwise, why would I stick around for three seasons? But in the end, it’s just THE X-FILES all over again: All that for THIS?

  47. Well, I can’t really disagree with that, except where you see “fluff” I saw some really neat stuff that resonated in my imagination, even if it didn’t lead anywhere in narrative terms. I’m probably being overly generous, but I see similarities between Carnivale and some of Tarkovsky’s approach to cinematism. Probably Chris Carter’s other show, Millennium, is a more apt comparison. I tend to forgive all sorts of hokum in that show because the mood is so effective. I guess I found the small details compelling enough to keep me watching.

    They certainly could have done a better job showing how Stahl’s character was emotionally stunted by his experiences with his mother. I was moved by the few scenes they devote to that particular relationship, but agree that the reluctance he is mired in throughout the first season would make more sense if his mother’s horrified response to his very existence was driven home a bit more. Like you say, a wider range of expression on Stahl’s part would have helped. They also kind of blew their chance to fully develop Stahl’s foil, the Lodz character.

    But you got to love Dreifuss. He’s the Wiz, after all. Nobody beats him.

  48. I’m not being dismissive, I just really don’t remember any of the characters’ names.

  49. @Mr. M: Apparently there were 4 Dreifuss family characters on Carnivale: Rita Sue Dreifuss, Libby Driefuss, Felix “Stumpy” Dreifuss, and Dora Mae Dreifuss.

    One can only guess that Jareth was referring to the Stumpinator. Meanwhile, it would seem that present-day Clancy Brown is aiming for the top prize in a Joe Eszterhas Lookalike Contest: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000317/

    Get thee to a cuttery, Clancy. You’re a grown man, not a time traveler from 1968.

  50. Carnivale featured two actors in lead roles who had memorable parts on Seinfeld: Tim DeKay played both Jonesy and Kevin the Bizarro Jerry, and Toby Huss played Stumpy Dreifuss and Elaine’s boyfriend The Wiz, a goofy pitchman for a crappy electronics store whose grasp on reality could be described as loose. Huss also had a memorable role as a drunk limo driver on that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry gives Ted Danson The Freak Book. “Happy birthday, Becker!” He also does a lot of voice work on stuff like Venture Brothers.

    Interestingly, I didn’t recognize either actor as Seinfeld guest stars until the second time I sat through the series. That’s what happens when you cover your entire cast in dust.

    I’ve talked entirely too much about this show.

  51. Sounds good Mr. Subtlety, now we just have to hope there’s a movie release coming up worth checking out lol I wish I had paid more attention so I could have remembered who the commenters were that said they were around the DC area!

  52. Speaking of videos of violence (to the art of cinema) the trailer for the EVIL DEAD remake is out:


    I don’t have the heart to actually watch it. Somebody else do it and tell me how much it sucks.

  53. It’s not bad. I hate that every horror trailer is constructed the same, but at least it looks like they’re going for the grueling horror stuff.

  54. I’m a part-time DC-ite, probly been there 10 times the last year for 48-96 hours at a time, usually stay at a place near Dupont Circle. I’ll try to announce myself again next time I think I’ll have a free evening.

    The best filmatistical Satan. . . Hmm, I agree that CONSTANTINE, a mostly mediocre movie, includes a few phenomenal individual scenes, and the Stormare-Satan is the best and most atmospherically arresting. I agree with Franchise Fred on JT in TSN. Mel Gibson’s Mephistophelestical depiction in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST: THE HOLY BLOODENING: PORT OF CALL ROAD TO CALVARY: THE ARAMAIC EXPERIENCE was fucking amazing.

    I have a soft spot for the ineffective, rape-y shoulder Satan of ANIMAL HOUSE infamy: http://www.anyclip.com/movies/animal-house/making-out-at-party/#!quotes/

  55. I’m not sure that I understand the point of an Evil Dead remake. The actual plot of the first Evil Dead is pretty basic. What differentiates that film is the novelty that it was made on the cheap and Sam Raimi’s surprisingly nimble direction. The Evil Dead remake might suffer the same fate as the John Carter film, where it looks derivative because it has inspired so many other films.

  56. EVIL DEAD remake trailer is okay. It certainly looks pretty hardcore, which is sadly not a given for modern horror. No indication of a lot of humour in it, though if they’re doing the first film more, that makes a bit of sense. The only thing that spoils it is that nu-horror look to things, where it’s all washed out, the settings look WAY too done up with exaggerated decay, and the basement decor seems a bit much.

  57. I’d like to further contribute to the discussion of best [worst] Satans in filmic history:

    LTC Gordon Tall (Nick Nolte) in Terrence Malick’s THE THIN RED LINE (1998).

    General George Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) in Stanley Kubrick’s PATHS OF GLORY (1957).

    Alcohol, a whiskey bottle, in THE SMALL BACK ROOM (a.k.a. HOUR OF GLORY), directed & written by Powell & Pressburger.

    Vern would have a field day dissecting these particular characters, if he had the yarbles and the time & inclination to do so.

  58. I just watched the trailer of the Evil Dead remake myself and on the whole, not as bad as I feared

    but on one hand while I’m glad they decided to leave out Ash altogether, since there’s only ONE Bruce Campbell and nobody but him could play that character, the idea of an Evil Dead movie without Ash is still pretty hard to swallow

    also, while I can’t fault them for wanting to make the movie actually scary, I can’t say I like the idea of them leaving out the black comedy altogether, even the original Evil Dead had some black comedy, hopefully there just wasn’t any featured in the trailer

  59. I’m with Majestyk: my brain just can’t process an EVIL DEAD remake. For me, it’s one of those films where the value lies entirely in the sensibility of the director. It seems as pointless to me as a remake of ERASERHEAD. And I don’t envy the actor who has to replace Bruce Campbell (or Jack Nance in ERASERHEAD: BACK IN THE HOOD).

    Another fun movie Satan: De Niro chanelling Scorsese in ANGEL HEART.

    There’s also a beloved Canadian cult movie called HIGHWAY 61 that features a hilarious Satan who enjoys going to church bingo games, winning all the prizes, then mocking the players for being losers.

  60. What’s up to every one, it’s genuinely a good for
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  61. “There’s what looks like a POLICE ACADEMY poster with a yellow background, but if so I can’t figure out which one.”

    Just watched this, and pretty sure that was OFF BEAT. The timing fits, and I have fond memories of it from my inexplicable elementary-school Judge Reinhold fandom, memories that would surely not be sustained by a revisit.

    Figured I’d make those wasted years count for something by filling in this important informational gap.

  62. Yeah, that’s gotta be it! Thank you.

  63. Video Violence 2 is insane and way different than part 1!
    Worth a watch, in my opinion.

  64. I think you really should check out part 2, it’s more of a gory sketch-comedy in the vein of Kentucky Fried Movie and it was way better pacing and less downtime.

    I found it farfetched the townsfolk in this film seemed to know EXACTLY how John and Rachel would act even though there’s no possible way they could know for sure they would follow that women who was pretending to be kidnapped into a basement.

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