Decided to take another look at John Carpenter's Starman (1984) last night. Never one of my favourite Carpenter films but not having seen it for many years I have to say I really enjoyed it. A movie that had been in development for some years, apparently John Badham was originally slated to direct but left the project after he saw E.T. and decided the stories were too similar, leaving the door open for Carpenter to come in and direct a somewhat different film than he was known for at the time (after helming the likes of Halloween, The Fog, Christine and The Thing). It's certainly a simplistic story, but works wonderfully due to its lead performances. Jeff Bridges earned a deserved Oscar nomination for his role as an alien visitor who comes to Earth and assumes the form of a deceased person and slowly discovers what it is like to be human, but he is matched by Karen Allen, who is also terrific as the young widow coming to grips with seeing the form of her recently-killed husband suddenly walking around and talking again, and learning how to fall in love once more. Great performance also by Charles Martin Smith as a government scientist trying to help the Starman avoid capture and probable vivisection. One of Carpenter's last really great films before things started to slowly go south for him.
Saturday, February 20, 2016
A great old true crime magazine I was happy to find the other day for a couple of dollars. Put out in April of 1978 by exploitation publisher Myron Fass, it covers the notorious Hillside Strangler case which had been terrorising women in the Los Angeles area throughout the previous six months. At the time of its publication, it was still assumed that a lone killer was responsible, but when the case was finally cracked in early 1979 it was revealed that it was a pair of cousins, Angelo Buono and Kenneth BIanchi, who had been abducting and murdering the women while presenting themselves as undercover cops. This magazine is fairly typical of the lurid true crime tabloid magazines that were popular on the newsstands for decades.
The Hillside Stranglers case was the subject of several movies, one of which, the 1989 telemovie The Case of the Hillside Stranglers (starring Dennis Farina, Billy Zane and Richard Crenna) I have reviewed as one of my contributions to the upcoming Headpress book on American TV movies of the 1970's - 90's, which should hopefully appear later this year.
Posted by John Harrison at 7:21 PM
As work continues at a good pace on the Marneen L. Fields autobiography which I am helping her to write and design (Cartwheels & Halos), a terrific and in-depth interview with Marneen has just been published in the London-based CVH 1st Class Magazine, in which Marneen discusses her life, career and work, as well as the forthcoming book. The interview ends with a little contribution from myself, discussing what initially drew me into the project. You can access the article/interview, which starts on page 46, at the following link:
Posted by John Harrison at 7:09 PM
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Last night's viewing was Calum Waddell's 2015 documentary 42nd Street Memories: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Notorious Street, which is included as one of the special features on the new Grindhouse blu-ray release of Pieces. I'd love to see a documentary someday that actually focuses on the people who ran and supplied films to those great 42nd street cinemas, but 42nd Street Memories was a fine and entertaining 80 minute documentary that has various notables sharing their stories of visiting the area and the movie palaces there during its seedy heyday of the late-1960's to mid-1980's, with lots of great photos and vintage film clips (mostly sourced from old exploitation films that were shot in the area). Some of the talking heads sharing their amusing and/or interesting memories and observations include Richard W. Haines, Greydon Clark, Joe Dante, Jeff Lieberman, Frank Henenlotter, Lynn Lowry, Debbie Rochon, Veronica Hart, Roy Frumkes, Buddy Giovinazzo and others. I felt like taking a long cleansing bath after watching it, so I guess the documentary did its job.
Posted by John Harrison at 1:44 AM
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Recently finished working my way through Paul Talbot's latest work, Bronson's Loose Again!, and found it an enjoyable and more than worthy follow-up to his highly-regarded 2006 tome Bronson's Loose: The Making of the Death WIsh Films.
Clocking in at nearly three times the length of its predecessor, Bronson's Loose Again! adds some new information and interviews regarding the Death Wish films, but also covers a range of the actor's other works, including some of his 1970s films like Hard Times, 90s telemovies and, the highlight and real meat & potatoes of the book for me, his violent 1980's action and cop/vigilante films which he made for Cannon and other independants. My favourite chapter in the book is the one which deals with the production of the sleazy 1983 Cannon film 10 to Midnight, in which Talbot tracks the development of the film (presold with a mock-up poster plugging it as a film about an international terrorist plot rather than the psycho-sexual thriller it turned into), details scenes from the screenplay which were cut from the film, and interviews Gene Davis, who was so memorable at playing the handsome but creepy killer in the film.
Definately a must-have for Bronson enthusiasts, particularly those who favour this era in the actor's long and prolific career.
Bronson's Loose Again! is avaialble from Amazon and the publisher, Bear Manor Media, at:
Posted by John Harrison at 12:05 PM