Posts Tagged ‘Danny Elfman’
Monday, October 10th, 2022
I don’t know why it took me this long, but I finally decided to catch up with the two Mike Flanagan joints I hadn’t seen yet (not counting the dramas he made during and immediately after college, or the TV series The Firefighter Combat Challenge). He made his entry into horror in 2006, with a shot-on-video-in-one-room short called Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan. Like George Lucas with STAR WARS, his story was bigger than his resources so he started with the most exciting chapter and filled in the rest later.
The short is about a guy who has obtained a haunted mirror that he plans to destroy. It’s a cool idea for a short with acting and visuals that require a certain level of forgiveness. But it apparently went over well at film festivals and inspired some interest in a feature version. The trouble was that producers all wanted to make it a found footage movie and/or give it to a director other than Flanagan. So instead he set the evil mirror aside and did a Kickstarter campaign to finance his $70,000 debut horror feature, ABSENTIA (2011). And once that was under his belt he got Intrepid Features (WAIST DEEP, THE STRANGERS) to let him direct a non-found-footage OCULUS, which filmed in 2012. And they must’ve been pretty happy with it, because now he’s a partner in the company. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Annabeth Gish, Blumhouse, Brenton Thwaites, Danny Elfman, Dash Mihok, Jacob Tremblay, James Lafferty, Karen Gillan, Kate Bosworth, Kate Siegel, Katee Sackhoff, Mike Flanagan, Newton Brothers, Rory Cochrane, Thomas Jane, WWE Films
Posted in Horror, Reviews | 18 Comments »
Monday, July 11th, 2022
“It’s the so-called normal guys who always let you down. Sickos never scare me. At least they’re committed.” —Selina Kyle
“He had graduated to a point where he wanted to make movies that are his movies. And this is one hundred percent Tim’s movie.” —BATMAN RETURNS producer Denise DeNovi
On June 19, 1992 we got a blockbuster super hero movie unlike we’d seen before or have since. Since Tim Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS was about as much of a sure thing hit as a studio could ever have, and because the director had been unsure about doing another one, Warner Brothers left him alone to do what he wanted. So it’s a rare combination: an expensive summer blockbuster based on pop culture icons, but also an odd, personal film by an earnest visualist director without much interest in crowdpleasing spectacle. Okay, maybe that describes 1990’s DICK TRACY also, but this is DICK TRACY’s much freakier second cousin. As the first sequel to the movie that made comic book adaptations a hot commodity it was in a unique position to make up most of its own rules about what a super hero sequel is supposed to be, and it wasn’t timid about it.
I’ve written before about my love for the era of comic book movies that started with BATMAN and ended around BLADE or X-MEN. Since the medium that inspired them was still considered nerd shit, since digital FX were in their infancy, since most of them never worried about setting up a sequel let alone a cinematic universe, and since most were heavily influenced by what Tim Burton had done in BATMAN, the genre was very different from what it is today. There was far less literal fidelity to the source material (for good and bad), and relatively few attempts to depict extravagant super powers and creatures, meaning less falling back on visual effects sequences. Some tried to reimagine a pulpy past (THE ROCKETEER, THE SHADOW, THE PHANTOM, DICK TRACY), while the ones trying to be new and contemporary often celebrated colorful outsiders and weirdos (THE CROW, THE MASK, BARB WIRE, TANK GIRL, X-MEN). And I think my favorite thing about them is that they didn’t usually take place in “the real world.” They depended on a stylized look with big sets on sound stages, matte paintings and miniatures to create their own heightened reality. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Anthony De Longis, Christmas, Christopher Walken, Cristi Conaway, Daniel Waters, Danny DeVito, Danny Elfman, DC Comics, Denise DeNovi, Diane Salinger, great sequels, Jan Hooks, Joan Giammarco, Michael Gough, Michael Keaton, Michael Murphy, Michelle Pfeiffer, Pat Hingle, Paul Reubens, Sam Hamm, Steve Witting, Tim Burton, weird sequels, Wesley Strick
Posted in Reviews | 111 Comments »
Monday, May 9th, 2022
So far I have watched all the Marvelous Cinematical Unabomber motion pictures and related Disney+ streaming television works, and I have enjoyed the majority of them. But fuck all that. What’s important here is that DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS is the first movie Sam Raimi has directed since OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL nine years ago. I liked it quite a bit more than that last one, but my feeling about it is kind of similar: it’s just fun to see him working on a giant canvas, putting his spookablastian spin on this other thing, even though I’d much rather see him working with his own creations.
MCU movie #28 with Raimi’s fingerprints all over it is not as good as, say, an original western with Raimi’s fingerprints all over it, let alone an original comic-book-inspired character he made up, but it is, at times, thrilling. MULTIVERSE opens mid-battle as ex-surgeon-turned-ex-Sorcerer-Supreme Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, the guy in the dragon costume in THE HOBBIT) and a teenage girl named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez, SHADOW WOLVES) are super-leaping across chunks of debris floating in space while a tendril-covered demon blocks access to a pedestal holding a magic book called the Book of Vishanti. It’s the good counterpart to the evil Darkhold, which in this context suddenly I realize is the MCU equivalent of the Necronomicon. They’re leap-frogging and parkouring and the camera is deftly moving around them in impossible ways, a natural evolution of all the groundbreaking web-slinging sequences in Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN trilogy. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Elfman, Elizabeth Olsen, Marvel Comics, Michael Waldron, Sam Raimi, Xochitl Gomez
Posted in Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews | 66 Comments »
Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022
And now in our journey through the films of Sam Raimi we have arrived at a difficult spot. We have come to the film that was at the time “the new Sam Raimi” but for a few years became “the last Sam Raimi?” I enjoyed OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL well enough when it came out in 2013 (here’s my review), even though a big commercial Disney movie that’s an unsolicited prequel to a famous story wasn’t high on the list of what I wanted to see from him. And it definitely wasn’t what I wanted to see him go out on.
Luckily he has now actually filmed his next movie, so a comeback is on deck. But isn’t it crazy that it’s been 9 years since the last Sam Raimi movie? To remind you of how long ago this was, it’s when FURIOUS 6 and MAN OF STEEL came out. It’s when they were on the first film of MCU Phase Two, IRON MAN THREE. We’re talking seven David Gordon Green movies ago (he was on PRINCE AVALANCHE, starring Paul Rudd, who was not yet Ant-Man). It’s when Franck Khalfoun’s remake of MANIAC came out, and Spike Lee’s remake of OLDBOY, and Ryuhei Kitamura’s WWE Films joint NO ONE LIVES. Remember those? No? You weren’t born yet? That’s what I’m saying – it’s been a while. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Abigail Spencer, Bob Murawski, Bruce Campbell, Danny Elfman, David Lindsay-Abaire, James Franco, Joey King, L. Frank Baum, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Mitchell Kapner, Peter Deming, Rachel Weisz, Robert Stromberg, Sam Raimi, Tim Holmes, Tony Cox, Zach Braff
Posted in Family, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews | 46 Comments »
Thursday, January 27th, 2022
Raimi started work on SPIDER-MAN 2 immediately after the first one, and had it ready to go two summers later. Since it really is about following up on the events of the first film, it starts by running the credits over some of them, as depicted in paintings by Alex Ross. (He’s celebrated for his realistic portraits of comic book super heroes, which are more impressive when they come from his imagination and not photography we’ve already seen, but still, it was cool that they got him). The end of the sequence reminds us that in SPIDER-MAN Peter chose not to be with Mary Jane, who he loves, so that he could be Spider-Man.
Which does not seem to be working out great so far. The painting of Mary Jane dissolves into a closeup of her face on a perfume billboard that Peter has to walk under every day, reminding him of his pain. Though he tries to hide it, it’s clear his world crumbles when she is not near. He’s in college now, and living on his own in a small apartment. Much like part 1’s opening about all the ways Peter can be humiliated on the way to school, this one piles it on real thick about what a shit sandwich life still hands to him every day. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Alex Ross, Alfred Gough, Alfred Molina, Alvin Sargent, Bill Nunn, Bill Pope, Brent Briscoe, Bruce Campbell, Christopher Young, Dan Bradley, Daniel Gillies, Danny Elfman, David Koepp, Dion Lam, Donna Murphy, Dylan Baker, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Deschanel, J.K. Simmons, James Franco, Joel McHale, John Dykstra, Kirsten Dunst, Michael Chabon, Miles Millar, Rosemary Harris, Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Tobey Maguire
Posted in Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews | 19 Comments »
Tuesday, January 25th, 2022
The year was 2000. For the the third year in a row, Sam Raimi released a “this is the more serious Sam Raimi” type of movie. Though it combines a thriller story with southern gothic atmosphere and some supernatural elements, it’s his only movie to date that seems in a similar mode to A SIMPLE PLAN. And the script is by that film’s co-star Billy Bob Thornton, along with his long time writing partner Tom Epperson. The two had broken through as writers with ONE FALSE MOVE (starring Bill Paxton), followed by the lesser known A FAMILY THING and DON’T LOOK BACK. On the DVD extras for THE GIFT, star Cate Blanchett says that Thornton told her about the script while they were filming PUSHING TIN together. If it was his idea to cast her in the lead, good idea, Billy Bob.
Blanchett (not long after her first Oscar nomination for ELIZABETH) plays Annie Wilson, a widow raising three boys in a small town in Georgia. The titular gift is her clairvoyance, inherited from her grandmother (Rosemary Harris, UNCLE VANYA), which she uses to make a living, seeing clients in her home. She’s very helpful and beloved by most of the town, though treated with suspicion and superstition by a few assholes. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Murawski, Cate Blanchett, Chelcie Ross, Christopher Young, Danny Elfman, Gary Cole, Giovanni Ribisi, Greg Kinnear, Hilary Swank, J.K. Simmons, Jamie Anderson, Katie Holmes, Keanu Reeves, psychic, Rosemary Harris, Tom Epperson
Posted in Reviews, Thriller | 24 Comments »
Thursday, January 20th, 2022
“You work for the American dream. You don’t steal it.”
“This is even better.”
A SIMPLE PLAN is the first Sam Raimi movie not to be easily recognizable as a Sam Raimi movie. It even has a Danny Elfman score that’s not recognizable as a Danny Elfman score. It’s a grim, uncomfortable neo-noir, stylistically subdued, what little humor it has dry enough that it likely doesn’t register with everybody. If anything, it seems most akin to BLOOD SIMPLE by Raimi’s former roommates/CRIMEWAVE co-writers/DARKMAN cameo-ers the Coen Brothers, transplanted to a snowy Minnesota environment more like FARGO.
Like THE QUICK AND THE DEAD it was a for-hire project, but this time he didn’t want it to feel like any of his other movies. He and cinematographer Alar Kivilo (THE LOOKOUT) agreed that the camerawork should be simple, “invisible,” basically the opposite of what everyone loves about his earlier films. I don’t advocate doing that all the time, or even often, or honestly ever again, but here it definitely works for him. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Becky Ann Baker, Bill Paxton, Brent Briscoe, Bridget Fonda, Chelcie Ross, Danny Elfman, Gary Cole, Sam Raimi, Scott B. Smith, Tom Carey
Posted in Crime, Reviews, Thriller | 14 Comments »
Thursday, January 13th, 2022
After his horror breakthrough, his failed comedy, and his knockout horror sequel, Sam Raimi finally made it to the semi-big-time. He’d really wanted to do a movie of Batman or The Shadow, but could never get the rights. Then he came up with the idea for his own dark avenger, one with the ability to change his face. His 40-page treatment The Darkman was greenlit by Universal Studios in 1987.
Raimi brought in NAVY SEALS writer Chuck Pfarrer to flesh out the treatment as a screenplay, which was then rewritten by Raimi and his brother Ivan (under the theory that Ivan, a doctor, could help make the medical sci-fi aspects plausible). The studio brought in the team of Daniel and Joshua Goldin (up-and-comers they also had working on PROBLEM CHILD) to bring the various drafts together before the Raimis went at it again. By the time the movie was made and released at the end of August, 1990, Tim Burton had made his BATMAN movie and all the studios were trying to mimic that success. Surely that was an influence on Raimi’s choice of composer Danny Elfman, and on the minimalist marketing campaign based around a silhouette and the question “Who is Darkman?”
I’m sure at the time I would’ve been interested in this movie anyway, but I was specifically excited when I read that it was the genius behind beloved video favorite EVIL DEAD II taking his first shot at a large scale mainstream movie. Seeing the posters, reading about it in magazines, seeing it on the big screen, I accepted it as a big time summer blockbuster alongside DICK TRACY, BACK TO THE FUTURE III and DIE HARD 2. But Raimi having four times his budget on EVIL DEAD II still meant about a third or a fourth of the budgets of those films. Even Cannon’s DELTA FORCE 2, released the same day as DARKMAN, had a slightly higher budget. I think it’s a testament to Raimi’s exciting directorial style that his many green screen and miniature techniques, which have dated technically more than any of those other movies, still seemed flashy enough to stand toe-to-toe with them. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Arsenio "Sonny" Trinidad, Bill Pope, Chiodo Brothers, Chuck Pfarrer, Colin Friels, Danny Elfman, Frances McDormand, Jenny Agutter, John Landis, Julius Harris, Larry Drake, Liam Neeson, Nelson Mashita, Nicholas Worth, Rafael H. Robledo, Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Tony Gardner, William Lustig
Posted in Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit | 23 Comments »
Monday, April 12th, 2021
Back in the late ’90s, being a superfan of the SHRUNKEN HEADS mythos, I was excited for a new Richard Elfman/Matthew Bright joint called MODERN VAMPIRES. I found it disappointing at the time – decadent L.A. vampires are not nearly as weird as flying severed head super heroes, so it didn’t make much of an impression. But since I revisited FORBIDDEN ZONE and SHRUNKEN HEADS in close succession this week I decided to also do this one. Now that it’s old I think it plays a little better as a b-movie piss take on the vampire movies that were being made at the time.
Or is that even what it is? When MODERN VAMPIRES went straight to video in the U.S. it was October of ’99 and the cover had a design style and not-screen-accurate fashion flagrantly copying BLADE, but it had actually premiered before both BLADE and John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES. FROM DUSK TILL DAWN and Buffy the Vampire Slayer had already reclaimed bloodsuckers from Anne Rice, though, so I suppose that’s what they’re playing off of, if anything. Or maybe it’s just West Coast elite NEAR DARK. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Brent Briscoe, Cedrick Terrell, Conchata Ferrell, Craig Ferguson, Danny Elfman, Flex Alexander, Gabriel Casseus, Jason Ross-Azikiwe, John Sencio, Kim Cattrall, Matthew Bright, Michael Wandmacher, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Natasha Lyonne, Richard Elfman, Rick Baker, Robert Pastorelli, Roberta Hanley, Rod Steiger, Udo Kier, Van Helsing, Victor Togunde
Posted in Comedy/Laffs, Horror, Reviews | 8 Comments »
Thursday, April 8th, 2021
Richard Elfman is the son of novelist Clare Elfman. He grew up in L.A., then worked as an Afro-Latin percussionist in the San Francisco musical theater troupe The Cockettes before moving to Paris to perform, and later returning to form the “commedia dell’arte ensemble” or “surrealist street theatre troupe” The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. They performed Cab Calloway covers and Russian ballet songs in whiteface, won an episode of The Gong Show, released a doo wop song about the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, and played demons in a hallucination scene in I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN. In the late ‘70s Elfman turned filmmaker, directing the Mystic Knights’ black and white cult musical FORBIDDEN ZONE (released in 1982).
It’s a pretty obnoxious and completely amazing movie, filmed on theatrical sets beautifully designed in a German expressionist/Max Fleischer cartoon style (and sometimes noticeably made of paper). It’s a short but unrelenting burlesque nightmare of tap dancing frogs and skeletons, adults dressed as children and/or only wearing underwear, lots of Mickey Mouse ears, fezzes and boobs, every single character (and there are tons of them) a weirdo or a grotesque caricature. They move bizarrely and at fast speed, lip sync to old timey big band jazz tunes, simulate humping. It stylishly switches to animation as they plummet to Hell or through the intestine shaped tunnel from the Hercules family’s basement to the Sixth Dimension, which is ruled by Susan Tyrrell as the Cruella-meets-drag-queen Queen Doris, and Herve Villechaize as her cheating husband King Fausto.
Elfman’s younger brother Danny made some great songs for it and has a scene as Satan, singing “Minnie the Moocher” with a band of hooded, lumpy ghouls. Joe Spinnell shows up as a sleazy, drunk sailor. To me it’s soiled by its use of historical racist imagery – I know this is vintage hipster irony or some shit, but opening with a blackface pimp character looking for his heroin is a problem. And you also have to be patient with the inside joke art school forced weirdness nonsense humor ethos that thinks it’s hilarious to have a main character named “Squeezit Henderson,” who has a twin sister played by the same actor, who is credited as “Toshiro Boloney.” (That’s actually Matthew Bright, better known for directing FREEWAY. His well-meaning drama TIPTOES, which infamously co-stars Gary Oldman as a little person, was inspired by the director’s friendship with Villechaize.)
Around that time Richard passed the creative direction of the Mystic Knights to Danny, who soon decided to ditch all the theatrics and strip down to the rock band Oingo Boingo. They became very popular and had songs on movies ranging from WEIRD SCIENCE to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. And during this time, of course, Tim Burton convinced Danny to score PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, which led to other scores, and all the sudden he was an A-list film composer.
Meanwhile, Richard directed a few of the band’s videos, but didn’t make any more movies until 1993, when he resurfaced with a silly but pretty straight forward Mimi Lesseos b-action vehicle I’ve already reviewed called STREETS OF RAGE. For that he was credited as “Aristide Sumatra,” which is the name of a character in his third movie, SHRUNKEN HEADS. Released in 1994, SHRUNKEN HEADS was written by Elfman’s old friend Bright (pre-FREEWAY) and produced by Charles Band and his company Full Moon Entertainment. So you better believe it has some tiny little guys in it. Shrunken, like the title says. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: Aeryk Egan, Bo Sharon, Charles Band, Danny Elfman, Darris Love, Full Moon Entertainment, Julius Harris, Meg Foster, Paul Linke, Rebecca Herbst, Richard Band, Richard Elfman
Posted in Comic strips/Super heroes, Horror, Reviews | 11 Comments »