Arch Hall Jr. is, among many things, known for being an actor, a musician, a pilot (of those really big planes) and adventurer and a writer. He is also a pretty nice and down to earth guy and to date the only person I ever harassed via Facebook that gave The Uranium Café a nice little interview. Okay, maybe I pushing it by hitting up Speilberg and De Niro, but they are not UCafe material anyway. Same to you Paul McCartney! Acrhe’s real calling in life was not to be an actor for Fairway International Films (headed by his dad the legendary Arch Hall Sr.) but rather to be a pilot and much of that time was spent flying passenger jets and cargo planes in and out of places like Southwest Asia and Africa. So Arch took a small hiatus from acting. A hiatus of about 50 years or so. But seems he is back to the screen in as of yet unreleased film called Lamb Feed, by director Michael S. Rodriquez. It is listed as a short on IMDB and there is really no information or synopsis to speak of yet. Here is some info Arch shared with me via Facebook about the film and it is enough to whet fan’s appetites I feel:
“Thanks Dan, [my middle name is Dan and I answer to it but only my family can call me Billy Dan! I'm serious! Bill] all I know at this point is that the first public screening will be on October 19th in Tampa, FL. Michael will be flying in of course and I will drive over from the other side of the State. I know there is some buzz about perhaps a "European" version that may be deemed too much for the US but nothing for certain in stone.”
From what it looks like it is a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” type film and maybe leaning towards the gore and dangling entrails type of thing. Since I have not seen it I cannot review it, but films here at the Café are usually pandered to and given a recommendation of one sort or another anyway. I save the scathing reviews for my other blog Necrotic Cinema, where the motto is “some films are better left dead”. No matter what the film’s technical quality may or not be, this is a film to see since it marks the return to acting of a film cult legend to be honest. Arch is enjoying a bit of a revival and his movies, like The Sadist and Wild Guitar, are popular with fans again as they are finally available again for viewing. In fact I have been meaning to do a review of The Choppers and Wild Guitar for way too long and this may be the time to do that though I am not I can find those disks here in this mess quickly. I would imagine there will be more information coming soon and if anything comes my way I will update this post.
William Lustig's 1980 film Maniac, with Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro, is not the easiest of films to get through even for die hard horror/gore hounds. The film is relentlessly depressing and brutal and is therefore one of my all time favorites of course. You wonder how people can get through a film like this and retain their sanity, but I found a few images online of the cast and crew taking it a bit easy between shots. If you're a fan of the fan these images may help you see the film in a new light. Gee, I know they did me. You can check out my review of this tasty ... er, nasty... little flick here while your at it. In the end, just a bunch of movie folk having a good time.
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, James Le Gros, Peter Dinklage Peter Dinklage, Kevin Corrigan
The 90’s were the heyday of the independent film, when everyone with a 16mm camera and a few lights wanted to the next Tarantino. It was before entire movies were shot on video and like when there used to be magic to listening to vinyl there was still magic to trimming and editing actual film. And all an aspiring film auteur needed was a great script, some actors and some funding and he was on his way. Piece of cake right? Well, Tom Dicillo’s 2nd feature film Living in Oblivion takes a comical but painful look at the bleak realities of making an independent movie on a low budget, or in the actual case of this film where the actors worked for free and funded the film themselves, no budget indie film. Living in Oblivion tells the story of inspired and ambitious but essentially mediocre film director Nick Reve (played by one of my all time favorite actors Steve Buscemi, an icon of 90’s indie films if there ever was one) and his cast and crew and of just one day on the set trying to get through simple shot. The struggle is told from inside three different vignettes and a couple are from inside dreams. The shots seem simple enough and hardly occupy and length of film time, but sensitive and supportive is driven to emotional outbursts and minor breakdowns from the pressure he is et with constantly from difficult and egoistical actors, incompetent crew and faulty equipment that is constantly breaking down. Nick’s credo of “roll with it” is tested constantly and at times he is on the verge of just sacking the whole project in despair and frustration. But Nick is not the only one having a crisis on the set.
The film’s star Nicole (Catherine Keener, from Dicillo’s debut film Johnny Suede) has doubts about her acting ability and future in the film world. Her claim to fame so far is a shower scene in a Richard Gere film, and on top of that she is having conflicts with the film’s leading man Chad Palomino (James Le Gros from Drugstore Cowboy, Point Break and Singles) because they had a sex driven one night stand the night before. Palomino is the film’s big Hollywood name and while at first he seems gung ho and ready to rock the set, Nick, Nicole and crew are all soon at the mercy of his raging ego that seems to want to all the shots to be about his grinning face and the back of Nicole’s head. Cinematographer Wolf (Dermot Mulroney) is serious about his craft but is having life issues himself because girlfriend Wanda seems ready to ditch their relationship in exchange for a possible one nighter with Palomino. Dwarf actor Tito (Peter Dinklage in his first role) is none to happy with being cast as a dwarf in the film’s dream sequence. And just when things can’t seem to get any worse Nick’s addled minded mother escapes from the nursing home and shows up on the set.
The film was meant as a satire not only on the world of 90’s low budget indie films, but a bit of Dicillo’s personal interpretation of the issues making his first film Johnny Suede, a musical comedy starring Brad Pitt. As mentioned already Dicillo’s 2nd film, based an idea for a short, was almost not made either as he could not get funding for it but the actors were so into the project they agreed to work for free and even help put up money. People who help fund the film, including producers, were given roles in exchange for their support. I have not seen much written about this but the credits are totally clever and I will not say anything more to see if you can get the gag. Of all the film genres out there I have the hardest time enjoying comedies (except for chick flicks I guess) but this is my type of funny stuff. Buscemi is just great as Nick, as are everyone else in this well received little film that really not too many people have heard about. Now you have, so go check it out.
I recently began getting back into reading comic books here and there. Before I left Seattle for China I was still buying the occasional comic now and then and even when I could not afford them I would loiter suspiciously around the comic book store and thumb through the books that were not wrapped in plastic. For the most part after arriving to China my comic book world sort of ended. They do not do comic books in China except for a few manga or anime type things. Most of my students here have no idea really that Spiderman And Batman are characters in a comic book. When I say there is a zero comic book culture in China I shit you not. But I began collecting comics in digital format a few years back, and at such a rate I could not keep up with things. But I had issues with viewing them on a computer monitor, at least on my old one. They just looked weird. Now I have a snazzy new fangled wide, flat screen type and I am really impressed with the way the images look. Nothing like reading a real comic book of course, but I sadly have little choice here in China. And to be honest I use bittorrent sites (like The Pirate Bay and the recently resurrected Demonoid) and do not pay a penny for any of the stuff, so that is a good deal too.
Well, the focus of this post is one pretty freaked out (or fucked up actually) little series called Crossed, by original story arc writer Garth Ennis and artist Jacen Burrows. Later writer David Lapham and a series of artists revive the series with a new set of stories like Badlands and Pyschopath, but I have not gotten to them yet as I am only about half way through the first story. I cannot read a comic book if I do not like the drawings and that is that. And no problems in that department here. I like Burrows' style and I peeked ahead and like some of the later artists even more. It is finely detailed pen and ink work (Looks like some Photoshopping here and there as well, but that is still art... I guess) and some of the later stuff by Raulo Cacares reminds me of the work of underground cartoonist Rand Holmes (Harold Hedd and many of the old Death Rattle comics). The story is basically a post apocalyptic zombie type thing really, but the twist on the formula here is that the "zombies" are the infected type (not the return from the dead types) and they retain some dangerous degree of intelligence and can communicate even. They also use guns and drive cars. And they are a nasty lot, driven by the infection, which "brands" them with a cross pattern on their faces, to carry out the most unimaginable acts not only on the uninfected but on each other when they are bored. Of course there is the tattered group of survivors trying to get to Alaska who have to not only wrestle with the Crossed but with each other and themselves, in true zombie apocalypse fashion. I am telling you folks, this in not for everyone and I am a bit ashamed that it seems to be for me. I am posting some covers here and some art and the more intense stuff in in the "Read More" section. Maybe nothing to look at while eating lasagna okay.
This “slipped under the radar” British horror film by Jon Wright hit me in the hit places so well that I watched it twice in one week. Well, the first version I watched on a Chinese streaming site called PPTV had over 20 minutes of the film cut from it, including all the death scenes, and so I wanted to see what I may have missed, but that was not the only reason I rewatched it. The film is very well made on all fronts, including direction, editing, acting, and score. While not a perfect horror film in any sense, if there is really such a thing, the movie delivers all the goods using a pretty simple premise; bullied teenager returns from the dead to wreck havoc and revenge on his tormentors. It is never explained why he is able to return from the dead and there is no occult subplot (thank God) to muck up the storyline with. I have long felt too that British films in general deal with the whole social class issues better than their American counterparts, were the class struggle concerns are not as relevant or explored storylines. Seems a lot of films like this have come out in Britain since the late 50’s and the old b/w angry young man films of the 60’s are some of the best movies ever made. And there is some element of that class struggle in Tormented, though it is more amongst the members of some sort of elite prep school meaning most likely they all come from money. But here we have the more modern spin on things with the conflicts being between the upper preps and jocks, and the nerds and emos. But the film presents the conflict with elements of snooty British snobbery that you just do not find in American high school type dealing with the same themes. But to be clear, the movie is not really addressing any such issues on a deep level, anymore than it is addressing the problems with bullying. In fact that social issue things are not the reason I watch horror movies, not all. I watch horror movies for the tension and jolts, and to be quite frank, some blood and a bit of gore delivered in just the jut doses at just right time. And it is in that department that Tormented sits well with me. And as well as the horror and violence, it has some of that special dry British humor you either like or do not like, and which fortunately I like a lot when it is done right as it was in Shaun of the Dead. But Tormented is not meant as a spoof or parody of slasher or high school body count films, and while imbued with black humor and at times campiness the film over all takes itself pretty seriously. That can backfire on many horror films, but I do not think it does here despite a glitch or two every now and then.
Poor geeky fat kid Darren Mullet (Calvin Dean) is so bullied by the school’s popular crowd, led by pretty boy Bradley (Alex Pettyfer) that he is ultimately driven to commit suicide. He secretly holds a love for head girl Justin (played just right by Tuppence Middleton in her first role) and it is the last straw when she appears turns against him along with the gang of evil preppies. A party is help after Darrel’s funeral and Justine develops a quick romance with slightly nicer preppie dick head Alexis (Dimitri Leonidas) and soon Justine herself in with the popular crowd herself. There is basically one death and one deafening of an emo during the first half of the film, but the deaths start piling up quickly in the film’s second half, and they are a batch of grisly demises to say the least. The relationship between Justine and Alexis is actually handled rather well, and the role of asinine, spoiled Bradley is played to the hilt by Pettyfer. We do not see much of ghost/killer Darren or what happened with him and the bullies until later in the film, and as is often case you find yourself rooting for the bullied kid and hoping he gets all the bastards even if you have learned to like one or two of them. Does he get them all or not? I think you can check it out and find out for your self. It does have a twist of an ending, but not a ridiculous one that seems tacked on later in the editing room, the way many such slasher films end off these days. I saw another British bullying/suicide film recently as well called Truth or Dare and I want to review that one soon, maybe next, as there are some comparisons I want to make between this film and that one, and why I think this one worked better in the end, though truth or Dare verged on the edge of becoming a great horror/revenge movie. In closing I will say that I have not seen Tuppence Middleton (wow, I love that name) in anything else but and trying to find something. She was great in this one and was simply lovely to behold. The films listed for her on IMDB do not look at that great in a way and she certainly seems like a good actress able to do more than slasher material. I can recommend this film. If you are fan of slasher films with a bit of gore you will like it I think, and if you are not I doubt it will do much for you, but if you’re not why the hell are you reading this friggin’ blog in the first place?!
Note: At the end of this post and some others in the future you will see a banner link to my other blog Necrotic Cinema. Why am I doing that? A couple reasons. This site gets much more traffic than that one and I want to promote my modern horror movie reviews as well. Also, I just see no reason not to spice up this site too with somethings a little different now and then. Both sites need more maintenance and support and this is one way to do that. There was some thought about stopping the other site and merging the material here but I decided to keep it and do things this way for now. I am pandering and promoting my own material too so it is only a so so slimy thing to do. I hope one day my other site can get half the traffic each day this one does. Please support Necrotic Cinema with all the love and hugs you guys and gals have shown this site.
The eighth Uranium Cafe Podcast. Almost two in one month! Testing out some new recording software yet again and hoping to resolve some issues with audio quality. An impromptu podcast that meanders more than a little. I do touch on my seeing the new X-Men movie and my feelings about the new Marvel movies. Seen too many movies recently to really focus on just one with this unrehearsed podcast. Kept it to about 30 minutes so it is listenable in that regard. I really hate super long podcasts so I need to stop making them, like my last one was. One correction, I refer to a recent comic book about Stars Wars found in Shanghai as a "Japanese" comic and I should have said Chinese comic book. An obvious slip but in case you want to look this up online I want to make that clear. Enjoy.
Well I got so excited about uploading some of these old screen captures that have been sitting on my hard drive for so long I thought I would do one more post. And there are the screen captures for the film Chijin No Ai, or Love for an Idiot as it is usually translated. This is a 1967 movie by Japanese director Yasuzo Masumuro and starring as the Lolitaesque Naomi (the name of the book by Junichiro Tanizaki) is the waifish but equally antagonistic Michiyo Okusu. I really developed a connection with film over time. I feel it kept pretty close to the book and recreated the bedroom scene (you'll now what I mean if you watch it) as well as it was laid out in the novel. I picked this up here in China on DVD while I was living up in Jilin City (not too far south from Siberia and North Korea) and was distressed that it did not have English subtitles. It was in Japanese with Chinese subtitles and i held on to it. Fast forward a few years and I am ripping DVDs and even ripping subtitles from DVDs for use with video files I am uploading to Cinemageddon and The Horror Charnel. I even tried a few at Karagarga but those uppity bastards pissed me off so I stopped dealing with them. Ripping subtitles in some sort of Roman character font (like English) is one thing, and it is nerve racking enough, but it really cannot be done using Chinese characters. You are trying to go from the DVD subtitle file to something called an srt file and it is impossible basically using Chinese characters. I won't get into why, but just trust me. However I was able to get the time stamps in the srt file, the little sections where the dialog begins and ends for each person. This is really important and time saving. My wife is Chinese and we sat down to the task of her translating the Chinese into a rough English and me polishing up her sentences with my rather conservative but still colorful style of English.
That was a job in itself as my wife and I do not always cooperate without conflicts on things like this, but the job got done eventually and it was quite the hit for a while at CG. A guy with more ripping savvy than I was able to add the subtitles to a DVD version and another chap really polished up my AVI file. It is my most downloaded upload over there and if you have an account there or want to get one (they are still an open private tracker but with strict rules as far ratios go) you can get the file from here:
It links from there to the DVD version as well I am sure. A few typos got past past me and I have since corrected those on my own private version and a while back some friends and my wife and I watched it together and it really is a nice film. BTW this is the first time the film has been translated into English and so it is a semi-historic moment. I beat the big studios to it. Now on to those screen captures.
I have lots of cool videos captures I need to share here. I started this project a while back but actually forgot all about it. These come from a couple sources. Captures I made for post reviews (which I tend not to do really any more and rely on found images on the net for a few reasons I may discuss another time) and captures I made for BT sites like Cinemageddon, where I think I uploaded about 80 movies there over a period of time. I do not do that stuff anymore but may get back into it. The high point in my uploading career came for me when I uploaded a version of Masumura's Love of an Idiot (Chijin No Ai and vidcaps of that will be coming) and my wife and I collaborated on the subtitles, and it was the first time the film had ever been subbed into English. It was, as I said, my high point in myuploading endevours and the only reason I would do any upping these days is to simply maintain my ratio. But in the process of all of this I have lots and lots of video captures I made for promoting the video quality at CG or for a post here at the UCafe. And those days of original screen shots may well over here as it is too much work really and I am not sure the effort is appreciated (I'm a sensitive guy anymore) so I can put that time and energy into something else. This post features captures from the really not too good Golden Harvest interpretation of a Chinese folk story about Xiao Bai Cai ( literally Little Cabbage), an adulterous young girl and the torture inflicted on her and her lover. There are some other stories mixed in as well but I really did not follow much of what was going on. I upped these to Cinemageddon as full DVDs to boost my ratio during a free leech period basically. But I think a lot of people, like me, like looking over video captures. They should be in chronological order as far as the story line goes. More coming soon.