Archive for the ‘Other Sites’ Category

Is Beowulf the Beginning or Another False Start?

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Outlaw Vern tackles where 3-D is headed by looking at where it has been.

Man, 3-D is gonna save the movie industry! Movie theaters are making less and less money these days. People are staying home to watch movies thanks to growing ticket and concessions prices, the shrinking theater-to-DVD window, the crass commercialism of the multiplex viewing experience, a new generation of cell phone toting little bastards who think it’s okay to talk and answer phones and play video games during movies, movies that are shot and edited for a tiny monitor so you can only tell what in God’s holy name is going on if you watch them at home in slow motion, the continuing crapitization of the Hollywood blockbuster, the trend of movies being cut to PG-13 for theaters and released uncut a few months later on DVD, the extreme laziness afforded by Netflix mailing movies directly to your house, and most of all, because of that one girl who recorded 20 seconds of Transformers on her cell phone to show her little brother. Actually, forget about the first eight reasons I listed, it’s all because of that girl.

But never fear! Beowulf is in 3-D now and it’s like the first time they introduced sound or color! Except that they already introduced it a couple times, like in the ’50s and in the ’80s, and a few years ago with Polar Express, which used the same technology and was even from the same director, and didn’t save movies yet. But this time for real! (read the rest of this shit…)

Jigsaw Needs to Study Up on Vincent Price

Friday, October 26th, 2007

The 2000s have seen plenty of horror movies, remakes, sequels, remake prequels, etc. But no 21st century horror series has set up shop like Saw, out of which part IV opens this weekend. Few series gets past part II these days, so having a part IV makes Saw‘s antagonist Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) the closest thing today’s little horror fans have to a Freddy or a Jason.

But in truth Jigsaw’s shtick is not like any of the ’80s slashers. He’s more reminiscent of two characters played by Vincent Price: Dr. Anton Phibes (The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again) and Edward Lionheart (Theater of Blood). These guys are all bitter, arrogant old men who believe they have been wronged. They have a knack for setting up elaborate, sadistic traps, for eluding the authorities, for giving away clues without being caught. (read the rest of this shit…)

Pass the Torture Porn, Please

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

When critics talk about drawing a line… what are they talking about?

In 1974, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales described The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as “the latest discouraging entry in a horror movie subgenre that might be called gorenography–films that strive not so much to shock or frighten as merely to sicken.” He wrote that “The Exorcist brought the cheap shocks to the mass movie market” and described a “post ‘Exorcist‘ era” where horror movies have “no characters of any depth to identify with or cheer on as the monster approaches; there is little if any cleverly contrived suspense; and the film quickly becomes not a who-dun-it but a who-gets-it-next.”

Thirty-three years later, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is still one of the best horror movies ever made. It was even selected for preservation in the Library of Congress. And The Exorcist‘s reputation isn’t too shabby either. Yet somehow the sky has not fallen. Civilization continues unabated. The innocence of children and puppies remains intact. Horror movies still frighten as well as sicken and have characters to cheer on as they face cleverly contrived suspense, like Sally in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In short, Tom Shales didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, and he was wrong. (read the rest of this shit…)

HMSS Special Report: Outlaw Vern Reviews James Bond

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Editor’s Note:We first encountered Vern on the Usenet movie newsgroups, and from there onto his web “sight,” Then fuck you jack: the Life and Art of vern where we’ve spent countless hours reading his insightful film reviews and laughing our asses off. And, God forbid, learning something about the films of cinema.

Recently, Vern has collected some of the best of his reviews into his first book, “5 On the Outside: Vern’s Writings on the films of Cinema.” He’s a frequent contributor to the Ain’t It Cool News web site, and between these various outlets, he’s been picking up lots of new fans. Guillermo Del Toro, writer/director of The Devil’s Backbone and Hellboy, says, “Written in head-spinning Vern-acular prose, these reviews will have you rolling on the floor with laughter and, with lightning-bolt speed, provoke demolishing insights into the films they address. Equal parts HELL’S ANGELS and Pauline Kael, Vern is a National Treasure!!!” We couldn’t agree more.

After having temporarily lost his liberty in the correctional system, Vern tells us “I got out in august ’99 and since then have been 100% clean and sober as well as i do NOT get involved in crime and negativity. My love now is Writing, watching movies and getting blown out of my fucking mind high on life.” He’s been catching up on all the films he missed while incarcerated, but somehow James Bond had kept off his radar. We at HMSS decided to correct that oversight, and asked Vern to take a look at a couple of our favorite 007 pictures.

Here’s Vern’s report…

It wasn’t my idea to be here. I don’t belong here. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m gonna get eaten alive. But Tom Zielinski and Paul Baack thought it would be funny to get me – a Bond-ignorant action movie fan who once called 007 “a fucking baby” — to review Thunderball and GoldenEye. So here goes nothing.

First, the backstory. My disparaging comments about Mr. Bond came in the form of a review for Die Hard 2. In the review I called Bruce Willis’s character John McClane “the working man’s James Bond” and compared and contrasted him to 007. My argument was that Bond was a spoiled rich boy among action heroes. Bond gets an Astin Martin that shoots missiles, McClane has to borrow his mother-in-law’s beater, and it gets impounded. That kind of thing. Tom and Paul had written me a lot of nice emails, and I felt bad that I had been so harsh to their favorite fictional character. So when I was putting together a collection of my reviews, I thought it would be a nice addition to the book if they would write a rebuttal to the review. They graciously did me that favor, which brings us to today, when I owe them one. (read the rest of this shit…)

Book Review: Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

chainsawMonday morning I heard a phrase on the radio that surprised me: “men, women and chain saws,” said in a somewhat dismissive voice.

What the hell? This was a weird coincidence. Men, Women and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Berkeley professor Carol J. Clover is a very academic book exploring gender issues in slasher, possession and rape-revenge films, mostly from the ’70s. I read the book years ago and it really affected my view of slasher movies. I paraphrase it alot when defending these kinds of movies (a pretty regular past time these days).

I think it’s been an influential book, but I don’t know anybody else who’s read it, so it was a surprise to hear it on the morning news. I had read it mentioned recently in the Fangoria horror magazine, when Quentin Tarantino mentioned it in an interview about Death Proof. It’s not surprising he read it. In the first half of Death Proof he uses alot of the slasher movie conventions discussed in the book, setting up Butterfly as what Clover calls “the Final Girl.” The biggest clue is that she has “the investigative gaze,” she’s the one who notices Stuntman Mike’s car and keeps eyeing him, and is scared of him. No one else realizes anything is wrong. Ordinarily this would mean that she would go on to survive and defeat, escape from, maybe even kill Stuntman Mike. But, well, maybe some other time. (Of course, he ends up making what is more obviously a feminist movie, not having to even have the women tormented too much before they want to spit on somebody’s grave.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Can Jane Fonda Be Outdone? The Barbarella Remake…

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

So the rumor now is that Kate Beckinsale is the frontrunner to play Barbarella in the new Dino De Laurentiis production. I’m pleasantly surprised if that’s who they’re going for. She’s not perfect, she’s no Jane Fonda, but I can imagine her doing a pretty good job. And I’m relieved to see they’re putting a few years between Barbarella and the Paris Hilton generation of actresses, the ones they got now that carry portable dogs and wear giant novelty sized sunglasses. You can’t have a Barbarella like that.

This might be saying too much, but nerve.com is some kind of sex magazine isn’t it, so I’m gonna go for it. Barbarella is, in my opinion, the sexiest movie of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hardcore pornography, etc., and Barbarella is very tame. It only has a few teasing glimpses of boobs and the sex often involves pills or machines. (I know some people get off on watching girls screwin machines in pornography now, but that’s not my thing.) But something about the whole world of Barbarella, the crazy space costumes, the shag carpeting in her ship, the groovy psychedelic music… Shit, I’m not one of these sci-fi geeks, but if the technology was available I would consider running away with Barbarella. We could go ride around on that little ski sled thing, shoot some arrows together. I don’t think the leathermen are all that tough, and I could definitely kick away those fuckin killer dolls. I can’t fly, like Pygar, but eyesight… that’s gotta count for something. I think I could cut it in space. I could be a pretty decent space boyfriend, if I worked at it. Although I would feel pretty self conscious flyin around in a spaceship shaped like a dick. I might have to rethink this. (read the rest of this shit…)

A Tale of Two Paybacks: Vern Revisits Mel Gibson’s Film Maudit

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

I don’t know how familiar any of you are with Payback, the 1999 Mel Gibson-starring adaptation of Richard Stark’s The Hunter. That’s the same book that inspired one of the all time canonical works of Badass Cinema, Point Blank.

Well, Mel Gibson is no Lee Marvin and writer/director Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) is no John Boorman. But I think Payback is an underrated movie. It’s a good balance of vicious and funny. It’s got a bit of a ’70s throwback feel and lots of weird touches to make it an indistinct time period. There are rotary phones, and primitive credit card technology that makes fraud more convenient, and the film is washed out with bleach making everything have a pale blue tint to it. You’re not sure when this is supposed to be taking place, which in a weird way reminds me of the experience of reading the books. Most of it reads pretty modern but obviously you are dealing with armed robbers, there is money, communication and security technology that would make some of the stories impossible today. So I sometimes have to check the copyright dates to be sure when this would’ve happened. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Gives Up on Entertainment Weekly

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

I’m gonna come right out and admit it: I used to have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. Recently. It’s cheap, it comes every week, it keeps you company. Sometimes you read some tidbit in there that you didn’t catch on a web sight yet. They can actually interview directors and actors without having to go to a junket, so they got a leg up. Not too long ago Owen Glieberman said nice things about Under Siege 2: Dark Territory in his column, I liked that. Every once in a while they even hire actual writers to spend time on a feature article, I think they did one on the history of Police Academy one time. (I didn’t read it but that must’ve been interesting.)

But you know when a balloon has a tiny prick in it, and the air slowly, almost imperceptibly leaks out until the thing looks all lumpy and shriveled? That’s what reading EW does to my soul. A man can only abide by so many American Idol cover stories arriving in his personal mail box before he wants to leave the country and never come back. And I know, everybody says Lost is a good TV show, I’m sure I would enjoy it if I watched it. But for God’s sake would you sonofabitches PLEASE stop writing about it? How many god damn secrets could there possibly be for you to exclusively reveal? Even if it was my favorite show of all time I think I would feel like you guys were taking it too far. You talk about Lost more than the kids in Jesus Camp talk about the Lord. (read the rest of this shit…)

Long Live Dolemite! Vern on Rudy Ray Moore

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Friday night I saw Rudy Ray Moore perform at The Funhouse in Seattle. If you’re not familiar with Rudy, he’s a legendary comedian, maker of x-rated comedy records, who paved the way for his contemporaries like Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx to do their thing by carving words like pussy and motherfucker about ten thousand times into vinyl. But it was his string of self-financed, low budget blaxploitation comedies like Dolemite, The Human Tornado and (my favorite) Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law that put him on the map for most of us. Those movies are built around his persona, the arrogant, unbelievably shit-talking chauvinistic badass with a knack for hilarious insults and rhymes. Like his movies, his act is mostly built around the traditions of the dozens and toasting. He tells stories in rhyme and picks out people in the crowd to talk shit about (which most people take as a great honor).

I never saw Rudy Ray in his hey day, but I did see him here a few years back. That was a polished, old fashioned show with a band of local musicians who he probaly hadn’t met, but he handed them sheet music and they knew what to do. He did all his classics (Dolemite For President, Signifyin’ Monkey, Shine, Petey Wheatstraw, etc.) to the music and even sang a few songs. At first the pure filthiness and sexism of the whole thing was almost overwhelming, it kind of felt like he had gone around slapping people at random, everyone was in shock. I remember there was a young woman playing in the band who didn’t look too happy at all this talk about pussies and dicks. And there’s a joke he does about “a deaf and dumb bitch” that is about the worst thing anybody ever said. But then slowly it seemed like that woman in the band started to get to a point where it was so ridiculous she started to laugh and by then most of the audience couldn’t stop laughing. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Goes on John Carpenter Remake Watch

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

In my last post about Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake I mentioned MTV’s report that Zombie wouldn’t be using John Carpenter’s theme music in his version. Well, on his MySpace Teen Friendship Page, Zombie reveals that the MTV writer misunderstood what he was saying about the theme music, and that he actually plans to use it.

But don’t let your guard down yet, Carpenter fans. While you were busy boarding up the windows in case of Zombie attack (get it, that is some kind of a pun I believe) Fast and the Furious producer Neal H. Moritz was planning a remake of another Carpenter classic, Escape From New York. As reported earlier by Bilge, the remake may star 300’s Gerard “SPARTAAAAAAA!” Butler as Snake Plissken. It would be written by the guy who wrote Black Hawk Down.

Now, I’m not gonna lie, I can see how some of the elements of the original movie could be juiced up and re-imaginated and what not. In fact, the idea of the government turning Manhattan into a maximum security prison takes on a little more punch in the age of Camp X-Ray and the USA PATRIOT Act, so they could treat the politics a little more seriously if they wanted to. And it would be interesting to see the dark model city world of the original given life by the bigger budget and the digital technology. (read the rest of this shit…)