Saturday, February 24, 2018

WENG'S CHOP 10.5

Received my contributor's copy of the new WENG'S CHOP Holiday Spooktacular mini-issue (#10.5) recently. 180 pages of cult and exploitation movie essays, articles, interviews and reviews that I am looking forward to digesting over the long Australia Day weekend. My contributions to this issue are an article of the 1976 drive-in classic MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH (including an interview with one of the film's stars, Rex Sikes) and a piece on the stunning and provocative new film from Mark Savage, PURGATORY ROAD (including an interview with Mark and the female lead of the film, Trista Robinson). Get it from Amazon and dig it!








MONSTER! BACK FROM THE GRAVE

After a bit of a hiatus, MONSTER! should return next month with another huge issue and a great wraparound cover by Mike Hall. I believe this issue will include my article on 1970s horror movie poster magazines (including an interview with legendary UK comics and movie magazine publisher Dez Skinn).



RONDO NOMINATIONS 2018

A thrill as usual to see my SIN STREET SLEAZE blog listed amongst the nominations for the 2018 Rondo Awards in the "Best Website or Blog" category. My fourth consecutive nomination in that category. Congrats to all the other nominees in all categories, many of whom I am friends with on FB and who do work that I greatly admire.

Aside from being nominated for a Rondo Award in the "Best Website or Blog" category this year, it's also a thrill to see a book in which I was involved in also gaining a nomination for "Book of the Year" . Edited by Amanda Reyes and published by Headpress, ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? is a compendium of articles and reviews devoted to the classic 1964-1999 era of American telemovies, with emphasis on the more esoteric and genre-related titles. Some of the great TV movies I wrote about for this book include GARGOYLES, BORN INNOCENT, Ron Howard's COTTON CANDY, SNOWBEAST, a bunch of 1990s Stephen King adaptations and more. Was a great night launching the book at Monster Fest with Amanda and fellow contributors Lee Gambin and Kier-La Janisse, along with special guest Marneen Lynne, who talked about her own work on TV movies and played a great highlight reel that she played for the audience.

Big congrats and best luck to Amanda for the nomination, and great to see the book amongst some many other worthy nominees.

Click here for all Rondo nominations and voting instructions:




THE BLACK PANTHER STRIKES!

Ryan Coogler’s BLACK PANTHER delivers a pretty solid, involving and entertaining chapter in the all-conquering and ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe (which a lot of people expected to start imploding a few years ago but only seems to have gotten stronger on the backs of some of the company’s second and third-tier and lesser-known characters). There was a lot about BLACK PANTHER that I loved – it looks beautiful and often recalls the days of the big African adventure epics, the costume design is stunning and we get a great villain (Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger) with some clear motivations that we can empathize with. Throw in a great soundtrack, some touches of humor that don’t make you groan, and some strong and nicely-realized female characters who also get to kick major butt, and you have a movie whose positives more than compensate for its odd moments of silliness and CGI-induced confusion. A blockbuster with both a heart and a brain.



DETROIT

After missing-out on Kathryn Bigelow’s DETROIT (2017) when it made its very brief Australian cinema run, I had the chance to catch-up with it since it made its local Blu-ray release this week. How this film went completely unnoticed by the Academy voters is beyond me. DETROIT is a stark and stunning drama which unfolds during the violent civil rights riots which took place in Detroit in 1967. Focusing on a true incident which saw three teenaged blacks beaten and shot dead by Detroit PD at the Algiers Motel on the night of July 25th, DETROIT is a galvanizing and often immersive experience, as Bigelow and her photographer Barry Ackroyd use cinema verité techniques to take you into the terrifying midst of a street riot, depicting it from the varying eyes of the authorities, the rioters and the innocent people who are often caught in the middle. The use of vintage newsreel footage and crime scene photographs help the film enhance its documentary flavour. The whole cast deliver nice performances but Will Poulter takes the acting honours with his turn as a truly vile and vicious, racist young cop. DETROIT left me feeling drained, shaky, angered and saddened…just the way a movie like this should leave you.



Saturday, February 3, 2018

BRUTAL & BRILLIANT BRAWL

After the baroque brilliance of his horror western BONE TOMAHAWK (2015), S. Craig Zahler scores another home run with BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, a rousing ode to the tough prison genre starring Vince Vaughn in a powerful and literally bone-crunching performance as an incarcerated drug courier who runs amok behind bars in a bid to save the life of his wife and unborn child. At over two hours long, the movie takes its time to tell its relatively simple story, but it is never less than engrossing and builds its tension beautifully, leading to a brutally violent pay-off in the last thirty minutes. It starts off gritty and real and progressively becomes more over-the-top and comic book, but it’s a natural progression and keeps you invested in the main characters and the stakes that are being played for. Great soundtrack as well, along with a nice performance by Don Johnson as a prison warden and a very creepy Udo Kier. Zahler is definitely a filmmaker to watch.



LEATHERFACE LACKING

LEATHERFACE (2017). Now out locally on disc, this latest instalment in the line of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE sequels, prequels and reboots, has been almost universally panned, and sadly within thirty seconds of the film starting I knew we were in trouble. CHAINSAW completists and the undemanding horror fan will find it a mildly diverting watch, and there’s enough grue to make the gorehounds happy, but it is just the complete antithesis of all the elements that made Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original such an audacious and terrifying piece of work. It looks so bland and cheap and its 1950s/60s period setting has about as much authenticity as the re-enactment sequences in an average episode of FORENSIC FILES.

I’m not a fan of taking horror icons and classic boogeymen and giving them an unnecessary backstory, which only serves to dilute their original aura, but if they HAD to go that route here did they have to give Leatherface such a boring and unexceptional origin? Lilli Taylor is completely wasted in this ugly-looking meld of Bonnie and Clyde and NATURAL BORN KILLERS which accomplishes nothing other than to
remind us of just what a masterpiece the original is.