Saturday, October 27, 2007


We had a quick quick chat with L.A.'s writer and producer Claudia Lonow. Just what has she been up to since her acting days on the grand night-time soap KNOTS LANDING? We chitty-chatty bang banged about her friend the "great stage actress" Martha Plimpton and about her L.A. home which is adorned with comic book posters. Here is the rest of the interview (she has a bit of a mouth on her, like Diana) -

We are now sitting outside on a filthy street corner in LA, she has just taught me the proper way to order a Starbuck's Skinny Latte- It is pronounced LAAA- tay- tay, get it? You say it now.

MFF: Claudia what have you been doin' since the great Knots Landing?:
CL: Well, right now I am consulting producer on a new Fall season pilot called CASHMERE MAFIA (Lucy Liu). I also created another show that is yet to be released on DVD titled RUDE AWAKENING. As far as acting goes, I just am too busy as a writer to go back to acting.

MFF: So we will never see you do another 'eat and run' appearance on a Knots Landing reunion?
CL: Definitely not.

MFF: Are you in contact with anyone from the cast of Knots Landing?
CL: The only person I talk to really occasionally is Michelle (Lee).

MFF: Did you ever have a bad experience on the show?
CL: Of course. The episode where I danced with Michelle Lee in a leotard was horrifying. I was still a teenager and my weight was beginning to become an issue, but I had to do it. On top of that I was ill with a cold. Actors can never be out sick.

MFF: How did you find out your character was going to leave the show?
CL: They just told me my contract was not being renewed for next season. That was really difficult. When you are on a show that long, it becomes a family. It was hard.

MFF: I think many people believe that actors on television are all financially secure. I know now that this is just not always the case. On your myspace page you refer to LA and it's "rich douchebags".
CL: I am not rich in that sense, LA has another level of rich douchebaggery to it that is way beyond me.

MFF: Do you drive a Toyota Prius (one in every color)?
CL: Of course!

I miss Diana Fairgate!

Thank you Claudia. Everyone watch CASHMERE MAFIA!
bye bye now.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


"You fool! She's half-mushroom!"

Ishiro Honda's 1963 film Matango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People) could be construed to be about food poisoning in its most hideous manifestation imaginable. Or possibly a warning of the perils of drug use, or even more so (due to the time it was produced) a statement on nuclear war. It illustratively weaves a tale of seven doom-fated passengers taking a leisurely sail aboard a yacht. This film is one of a kind in its depiction of madness via fungi ingestation. The passengers upon being shipwrecked due to a storm find themselves on a seemingly deserted island. However, they stumble upon another dilapidated ship, which is almost entirely covered in a fungus. Seeking refuge within the weathered boat they ingest some mushrooms found inside. Although warned not to eat them some let their hunger take control. This is where the story begins its nasty turn. The Matango DVD has a great many features including actor commentary. But also a very wonderful (and unusual) spoken word segment from Matango's writer Masami Fukushima. The viewer has the option of having English subtitles with the original Japanese soundtrack or English dubbing. I enjoy having both options. Definitely a must own movie. It contains the exact amount expected of spooky atmosphere and eerie effects.

Monday, April 03, 2006


(Caouette with husband David Sanin at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival)


an associate recently conversed with Tarnation director Jonathan Caouette about JT Leroy, Asia Argento and other lovely lost creatures-

the telephone is ringing - ring ring ringing?
(a man's voice) Hello, hello!

PL: Hi, Jonathan?

JC: Yes, Oh hey! Is this PL?

PL: Hi, Jonathan how's it goin'?

JC: Pretty well

PL: Great, you ready to get started!

JC: Yes! Please! (takes a sip of coffee)

PL: Alright, (taking a sip of coffee as well) ok now, um...What do you think of the recent Asia Argento directed "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things" (based on JT Leroy's critically acclaimed novel of the same name.) Have you seen it, I guess should be my first question?

JC: "I would have given you a different answer before the outing of JT Leroy, but now I can easily say that everything about it is an unprecedented historical piece of work. I like the film simply because it explores a subject matter that no one ever really talks about, and I could personalize with a lot of it on different levels."

PL: Do you think there has been any sort of 'Global Karma' generated I mean, because of this minor art world fakery that has been committed?

JC: "I hate to say this, but if it moves you, touches you, evokes something in you, then I guess it doesn't matter if it's true or not. I mean really think about...(a 4 second pause) what the hell is real 'truth' anyway? My film was certainly true for me, but there were reenactments that some say "violated truth". The point-of-view of my foster parents had one truth, my mother has one truth and truths can only be attained within someone, an individual point of view. I think what JT was is great performance art."

(Leroy and Asia Argento (in black) at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival)

PL: I know you and JT did some commentary together (via telephone conferencing system) with Gus Van Sant on the Criterion DVD of MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO. Does it bother you now to know that you were really speaking with some 'phantom' while lovingly commenting about Mr. Van Sant's film? I mean to know that it may have been this girl Samantha Knoop, who may have not even been a Gus Van Sant fan, let alone been able to name any of his films? I don't know, I have an hilarious vision of 'JT' being on the telephone while this other woman is showing him Flash Cards of how to answer and what to say and go on about. Well, perhaps a bit more preparation was done to avoid the Flash Cards.

JC: "Well, that's funny that you mentioned Flash Cards. I use them all the time, I'm using flash cards right now as we speak. (kidding) A lot of people have asked me whether or not I have felt stumped with all of this. Someone asked me how it felt now in retrospect (about JT and myself's interview in Blackbook) "Jonathan Caouette VS JT Leroy". People ask me if I myself felt betrayed because here I was revealing things to JT over the phone via interview, he and I having had similar past(s). JT was, well not real! But, It doesn't really matter at all because I revealed myself to the world in my film Tarnation long before I encountered that art-world 'phantom'."

PL: Had you considered possibly casting JT in your next film?

JC: I would love to cast all three of them ('JT', Laura Albert and Samantha Knoop) in my upcoming film "Everything...Somewhere Else"

PL: In today's world what do you think happens to a JT Leroy when they are 'found out'? Is her career diminished in any way or perhaps just pushed under the waves for awhile?

JC: "I don't know what really happens, because I have never seen anything so big and public quite like this before, but I mean shit, Laura has talent for god's sakes! I mean I would hire her to write something for me."

PL: There's another question I have to ask and that is about your great love of horror. Horror Director Dante Tomaselli (The Ocean) said recently in an interview with that The Amityville Horror remake along with most of today's horror resembled a television commercial. (Tomaselli's answer was in direct response to the rumour that he is directing Halloween 9, a film he would like to see made old-school horror style.) What do you think of today's 'particle board' horror seen and produced seemingly every five minutes? I mean, do you think Hollywood has made horror into a glossy glam filled advertisement for expensive designer jeans?

JC: "Oh wow, that's the best analogy I have ever heard for it! Yes, 'particle board' horror is getting worse and worse. Everyone in all of these films are so pretty and model like, that the fact that you're looking at such pretty people in any movie all of the time, pulls you out of the movie immediately. I love pretty and beautiful people, but in reality all people are not pretty and beautiful. Yes all movies, in particular horror films look like cookie cutting stories of models in trouble. We need, desperately need more real looking people in films!"

PL: Since we are on the subject of glamour I have one last quick question for ya'. We have the fantastically ultra-glam Sharon Stone in the just released BASIC INSTINCT 2: Risk Addiction. Do you predict it will be the next Showgirls? Is it destined for cult film status?

(Stone, pictured here with Charlotte Rampling)

JC: "It will be the next Showgirls!"

PL: (laughing) OK, one more please, please!

JC: "Oh sure! But seriously fast, I have a manicurist waiting on me!"

PL: Fabulous. If you could pick one film in which you could live for a day, what film would that be?

JC: "Let's Scare Jessica to Death." "Which by the way is in dire need of a royal DVD treatment!"

MANY THANKS, bye-bye.
copyright (2006)
The multi-featured DVD of TARNATION is now available

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


"This is not an isolated incident."

Abel Ferrara's 1990's Body Snatchers remake is visually and aurally stunning. Cinematographer Bojan Bazelli's use of color and composition is fantastic. The electronic score (which is sadly, unavailable) flows perfectly with the imagery. This along with Meg Tilly's creepy performance are the reasons to see this film. She is great and her 'freak-out' scene is awesome. A bad, bad dream.


"Yum, fresh lemonade."

I saw this film at the Southway 6 AMC theater when it was originally released in 1983 (in 3-D). Parasite is one of those films that one would enjoy having if you first saw it when you were a child. Demi Moore is featured in a major role. I particularly like the motel owner, she reminded me of an Andy Warhol/Paul Morrissey character. It has some very nicely made gore in it as well.


"I wanna take you fishin', babydoll."

Squirm (1976) is the tale about a crazy electrical storm which invades Fly Creek, Georgia. It causes all of the fishing worms to develop the ability to burrow into skin. So, one can expect, worms feasting on many townfolk and eventually turning one of the antagonists into a giant worm. This film does have some genuinely creepy scenes, a portentous old lady and a pot-smoking, trunk-sleeping hippie chick. However, overall it is a bit drab.


"Quit spying!"

I saw this film on the SCI-FI channel the other night, it is so uplifting and perfect. It has a great cast including John Barrymore. It is refreshing to see a film such as this one as they are rare. The light-hearted air of the film flows wonderfully with the comedic elements. Suffice it to say it is a very uplifting film. It warms the heart, it fills the soul, it builds the blood.


"They call it Love."

An old and fantastically lit film, with an addicting score. William Shatner is perfect in the role and a wonderfully eccentric human being (as you will find out if you choose to listen to the DVD commentary). INCUBUS definitely has the rare (nowadays) ability to transport the viewer to another time. The location is perfect, being shot in California's Big Sur Park. It is subtitled in English being filmed entirely in Esperanto, the only film of its kind in existence. The very handsome Milos Milos plays the incubus summoned to exact revenge on a man who is 'too good and noble." The infamous Incubus curse is discussed in detail on the film's two commentary tracks. As it is told tragedy befell several of its stars, including Milos Milos who committed murder and then suicide. A once forgotten film.


"I've flipped out twice Cindy."

In 1990, I did a research paper on this case, I contacted a woman (Dr. Thelma Moss) from UCLA's former Parapsychology department she then gave me Kerry Gaynor's contact information. He was one of the technical advisors on the film. He graciously spoke with me at length and gave me intimate details regarding the case without revealing her true identity. I am very lucky to have actual 8X10 black and white photographs of the case: photos of her sitting on a bed (she covered her face in every photo). I have photos of her in a room with other people and orbs of light are seen in the air, I have another with reverse arcs of light in the room, another with an orb surrounded completely in darkness. He stated to me that he and his associates never actually saw her attacked, although they did witness a very bad stench, along with cold spots and a frying pan flying out of the kitchen cabinet. They had wanted to try something similar to the experiment which took place at UCLA in the film, but there was no budget for that. He mentioned many other personal things about the woman's family, that I guess I should probably not divulge here, but NONE of these things are mentioned at all or are they the traits of any of the characters in the film "The Entity". I will say that the character Cindy played wonderfully by Margaret Blye was actually psychic in reality. The film was carried exceptionally well by Barbara Hershey, she was Oscar-worthy (again).


"Do you believe in Vampires?"

I first saw this film when I was a little boy, I believe on a Sunday morning. It is a fun and flawed horror film. Robert Quarry is however quite good as the Count. A particular good and lengthy scene is when people question him about the existence of werewolves, asking him if he has everyone seen one, he replies "Yes". And the rest...seances, storms, flat tires on old dirt roads, a particularily nasty looking man named Bruto or Bruta. And finally, during one woman's vampiric conversion, the eating of a kitten (this scene being on the MGM Midnite Movie DVD release). Yuck out city! Spawned one effective sequel titled, The Return of Count Yorga.



One of the most unsettling films ever produced, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is set in picturesque San Francisco. It is one of those rare films that really has a perfect cast. Veronica Cartwright is so on target as the intellectual health nut, as are Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum. Frightening and subtle in its creepiness, the whole film from beginning to end has the feeling of paranoia. This first remake is far better than the original and stands up as the best thus far, even though Abel Ferrara's version is visually and aurally stunning. As a whole this film is far superior and very powerful. It is effective at instilling fear in the viewer, and posing the questions: What if the insane became the majority? What if you woke up one morning and it had all changed overnight?


"He made love to me all night."

It is always refreshing when a film takes great leaps of chance and goes right over the edge. Andrzej Zulawski's Possession does so incredibly. Isabelle Adjani (in dual roles) is perfect and carries the film along with Sam Neill. It is no wonder Adjani won at the Cannes film festival. Many will be quite disturbed by this unforgettable film. It features stunning camera movement and cinematography as well as top-notch performances from its international cast. This English-language French production features some freakish characters. In addition to Adjani and Neill there is Heinz Bennent and Johanna Hoffer. Gore and special effects aficionados will be pleased with Possession's remarkable realism and Marco Grimbaldi's monster. This film is aging rather well. One final note, the Anchor Bay release is the one to own. Their are some video releases floating around that have been butchered drastically. So much that it will leave the viewer thinking they have seen the wrong movie. This is the kind of film you give to your husband or wife just after the divorce is final. Another classic.


"How long, mommy?"

I love the work of Michael Tolkin, he also directed the great film "THE NEW AGE" starring Judy Davis & Peter Weller. Mimi Roger's gives an oscar-worthy performance in The Rapture. It depicts Sharon and her lackluster daily life as an information operator. However, she and a male friend engage in group sex nightly with couples they meet at local bars. The story follows her conversion from one way of living to another, both extremes. It is an accurate description of fundamentalism (whatever form it may be). I have seen people extremely moved by this film. I saw it with a girl whom is now a fundamentalist Christian (she was struggling with spiritual beliefs at the time) at the end of the film she could not stop weeping, she kept saying "that's not fair". That should give you an idea of the profound impact this film can have on people. The film's religious characters are part of a new-age fundamentalist Christian group that always refers to something called 'the blue pearl'. As Mimi Rogers said "this film has no happy answers." And yes it does go where few films dare to go. Bojan Bazelli's masterful cinematography leads the viewer to 'the other side.' Also stars a pre X-Files David Duchovny. This is a film that needs to be embraced.


"Fish genetics is a small field."

The Joe Dante directed fish epic Piranha (1978) was shot in San Marcos, Texas at and surrounding the Aquarena Springs resort. The DVD contains many great features such as lengthy footage of the resort and other things pertaining to it, as well as bloopers from the main cast. Barbara Steele is great as the 'mad scientist' and she would have been great in the sequel, but oh well. There is one scene in which a tiny and bizarre looking creature is shown walking around which is quite interesting and could have been added to but alas, it was not. The many schools of Piranha shown are actually Perch, a freshwater fish which thrives in the Texas river system, they resemble the Piranha (minus the scissor teeth). The score is composed by Pino Donaggio.

Monday, March 27, 2006


"You don't even wanna know."

The Christine Vachon produced SAFE is one of the few films I would have to call perfect, as perfect as a film can be. Julianne Moore (a friend of Todd Haynes) gives a breathtaking performance, she should have received an Oscar nomination. Todd Haynes is an amazing director and his film is groundbreaking. Although I have read it was a satire on affluent suburban housewives & their vacuous existences, it is also dictates a strong environmental message. People with EI (environmental illness) do exist and as is stated in the credits of the film, information was received from The Center for the Chemically Injured (somewhere in Texas I believe, no surprise, with all of the refineries). The supporting cast are excellent, Jessica Harper (from Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA), Mary Carver and James LeGros to name a few. Pay attention to this film, turn up the volume as there are some subtleties that will be missed if you do not listen closely. Ed Tomney's score is mesmerizing.


"You have no right to play God."

BRILLIANT use of color. BEAUTIFUL COMPOSITIONS. Fantastic effects. Fantastic score. Wonderful lighting. The Church touches briefly on reincarnation (Asia Argento) and the Catholic church. However, this is a Michele Soavi film make no mistake. It is replete with his fantastically creative death sequences. So much fun.


"Nothing can go wrong."

Westworld is a classic 1970's film with Yul Brynner, it spawned one sequel titled Futureworld. A brilliant unnerving film about what happens when scientists and engineers get carried away with technology. Each customer of the huge resort called DELOS is billed one-thousand dollars a day to enjoy its many indulgences. Delos is located way out in a desert far away from civilization. It is populated only by 'robots' and the guests are invited to live any and all fantasies through them.

HALLOWEEN 3:Season of the Witch

"The world is going to change tonight Dr. Challis."

First of all this film should have simply been titled Season of the Witch. But for obvious reasons they wanted the Halloween name attached to it. This film could also have been better, but what it is best at is evoking a sinister mood. The plot is quite diabolical and Silver Shamrock Novelties is the place of dreams, money (and androids) for some people. It is run and owned by Colonel Cochran an 'old' Irish immigrant, played perfectly by Dan O'Herlihy. His company is known for its fantastic Halloween masks. The story revolves around a missing piece of Stonehenge, that mysteriously disappeared. A bonus would be the superbly done opening credits sequence and score.


"...if insane were suddenly to become the majority."

John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness features some amazing imagery, especially a few spectacular paintings shown at various times (I would love to have one of them). The cast is quite good with Julie Carmen, Sam Neill and the wonderfully eccentric Frances Bay. His score is one of his best I think. And the film is pretty good at manipulating the viewers mind. It contains a few creepy scenes with creepy noises. And lastly, "We've Only Just Begun".


"It's mother is inside the park!"

Jaws 3 by far the best of the Jaws sequels was originally intended to be viewed in 'gimmicky' 3-D, which will explain some of the bad and useless shots. The cast is good with Lea Thompson, Louis Gossett Jr., Bess Armstrong and Dennis Quaid. It takes place inside Sea World which gives the film plenty of action horror sequences to bite (ouch) into. The characterizations are good as well with these capable actors. Although now some of this films special effects have withered and not withstood the test of time. In particular, the climax in which the shark collides through the glass water station is dated. But, despite its weaknesses this film is definitely worth adding to your film library. It also features a nice score and two life-saving dolphins.


"Your blood will be our life!"

Castle of Blood (aka Danse Macabre) is a splendid piece of classic horror. It is filled with perfect atmosphere and sound, appropriate for such a film. The wonderful Barbara Steele is fantastic in her part as Elizabeth Blackwood. This film has many lengthy sequences without dialogue featuring only spooky sound and a menacing mood, which is one of the great aspects of gothic horror cinema. In addition to a shirtless stud, Castle of Blood has a handful of characters one of them being Poe. He bookends the film. A definite classic, director Antonio Margheriti was clearly a genius.


"Dangerous to touch now, terribly dangerous."

Wes Craven directed this great made for TV film. It stars Susan Lucci, Joanna Cassidy and Robert Urich, along with Soleil Moon Frye. The film concerns a tight knit community in which an exclusive Spa is seemingly the source of everyone's happiness and pleasure. Once you become a member, you are one for eternity. Susan Lucci is essentially the devil or demoness, would be a more appropriate description. This film is fantastic fun and Susan Lucci has some wonderful dialogue to play with. It's interesting to see Joanna Cassidy as she has a slight accent (I don't believe it was her character's), I am unsure where she is from, but in her later films you do not hear it. Towards the end this film becomes quite hilarious, particularly when Soleil Moon Frye's evil twin is attacking Robert Urich's character. In addition to that seeing Joanna Cassidy playing the piano maniacally is very nice. This is a superbly done over the top B-film that fortunately doesn't take itself seriously.


"He's got the evil eye!"

A classic 1973 Eugenio Martin film starring the ethereal Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee with Alberto De Mendoza and Telly Savalas. The story is set on the Trans-Siberian Express traveling from China through a blizzard in 1906, on a very well constructed model train I might add. The production values are perfect. An icy and ancient unearthly creature is brought aboard and all hell basically breaks loose. The sets are absolutely gorgeous as well as the costumes and the entire cast is superb. In particular, Alberto de Mendoza as the maniacal monk Pujardov is both entrancing and sexy to watch. In addition, John Cacavas score is haunting and completely original. Beautiful moving images and sound abound in this diamond of a horror film. The DVD release has an isolated music and effects feature as well as a Spanish language track.


"Uncle Fez!...Uncle Fez!"

One of the first of its kind, before The Omega Man. The Last Man on Earth is an uneven low-budget Italian production starring the brilliant Vincent Price. All of the Italian actors are dubbed as is common place in Italy, there are no subtitles. The Zombies however do speak a few times. The Last Man on Earth is fun to watch and enjoy as an old film and is pretty bleak. It has been called a zombie flick as well as a vampire story. The film is replete with garlic and mirrors.


"Do you think there's like, any damage?"

A creepy Sylvester Stallone/Brigitte Nielsen epic. The story revolves around a band of serial killers in Los Angeles. Brigitte Nielsen's character, a hot and sexy model called Ingrid, witnesses the end of a murder and they begin stalking her. Cobretti played by Stallone is called in to protect her. I guess one would call this film a 'guilty pleasure', it is so much fun. The two lead maniacs, played by Lee Garlington and Brian Thompson, are quite menacing and effective in their roles.


"Oh!, It cut me!"

Lamberto Bava son of horror master Mario Bava directed this Dario Argento produced 1985 gorefest called Demons. The story is set in Berlin and mostly takes place within a funky cinema titled 'Metropol'. I would say I prefer Demons 2 its sequel, but this film has its moments. In particular the opening sequence in the subway station and the scene in the bathroom with the prostitute is simply put, gorgeous gore. The rude red headed cinema lady is used to manipulate the viewer into thinking she is in on the demonic party, but alas she is not. She's just a bitch. And lastly I would like to add that the infamous 'back' scene is quite fantastic.


"I hope you die!"

Creepshow stars the late great Viveca Lindfors and E.G. Marshall with Adrienne Barbeau. I am only commenting on the two stories I enjoyed the most. The Viveca Lindfors piece is really fun and she is very good in her role as the bitter daughter coming home to claim her share of her father's estate along with her other siblings already waiting for her at their mansion. This story has their difficult father rising from his grave to wreak havoc on them. The other favorite stars E.G. Marshall as a spineless tycoon. He is virtually a prisoner in his space age highrise, everything is perfectly clean, he wears gloves, is overly concerned with germs and spends much of his time battling an ever increasing roach problem. A truly cold hearted person, his telephone calls with an angered woman are quite funny. This vignette is scored with a fantastically menacing electro-tech sound and is not for everyone as it does involve literally hundreds of roaches. And they do win their war on him, making the woman and I am sure many others very happy.


'Within your mirror, you'll see its dream'

In the Mirror of Maya Deren tells the story of this groundbreaking 1930's avant-garde filmmaker. The films features a great score by John Zorn and interviews with virtually everyone involved with her life who is still living. Documentarian Martina Kudlacek also does something unexpected and takes the viewer back to Haiti to actually interview people that were featured in Deren's film "The Living Gods of Haiti." The conversations with all that knew and worked with Maya are quite illustrative. If you have not had the privilege of seeing Deren's work this film will make you want to seek it out.



Gargoyles is a film definitely way ahead of its time. It features glimmers at times, of Alien (groups of eggs) and Jeepers Creepers (flying off with another gargoyle into the night). You decide for yourself if these two films were possibly influenced by Gargoyles. An eerie mood and score with one sexy lead gargoyle make this a must have for any horror aficionado. Not to mention the nostalgia factor. Although towards the end of the film, there are too many shots of gargoyles clearly in rubber suits within the deep caves. This may remind one of the great show Land of the Lost. However, the king gargoyle's effects are quite realistic and menacing, as they were done by Stan Winston.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


"Have you no soul!"

Carnival of Souls (The Criterion Collection DVD) is undoubtedly a classic in spooky horror. Mary, played earnestly by Candance Hilligoss is running from apparitions most of the film and going back and forth from this world to somewhere in-between. She takes a job as a church organist (she simply plays for pay) and moves away from her town after she has a deadly car accident in which all of her friends perish, except for her. She rents a room from the great Miss Thomas (Frances Feist) and everything begins to fall apart. Perhaps one of the most interesting characters in this film is Miss Thomas, played seemingly wonderfully by Feist. She is given plenty of great dialogue to act with and is quirky. But sadly, her character only has three scenes. The score is mainly great spook-inducing organ music, fitting for any stormy afternoon.

HELLBOUND:Hellraiser 2

"Take your best shot, Snow White!"

The sequel to the successful and original "Hellraiser", is titled "Hellraiser II: Hellbound" and is crammed with grotesque imagery. Ashley Laurence returns as Kirsty Cotton to fight the Cenobites and her wicked stepmother Julia (Claire Higgins) once again. But this time their is a new villian, the maniacal Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham) of the Channard Psychiatric Institute. Kirsty is a patient in his hospital due to the previous film's unbelievable events. She befriends a young mute girl named Tiffany (Imogen Boorman) and they both spend the enitre film battling the evil. The setting of an insane asylum provides a fantastical atmosphere which is well used in many scenes involving patients and medical procedures. The unrated version is quite nasty, a veritable blood bath and continues with the erotic undertones that were so prevalent in the first "Hellraiser". Christopher Young returns as the film's composer to provide his magical score. So, if this kinda terror turns you on (as it certainly does for me), ENJOY!


"A slice of orange peel..."

This film is based on a true happening. Believe it or not. A fabulous Joan Collins epic. She is glamourous and fabulous as usual as is most of the other cast, Pamela Susan Shoop(Halloween 2), Jacqueline Scott(a Twilight Zone episode, etc.). I personally love the characters in this B-film and how they introduce them to the audience. I happen to also enjoy some of the dialogue. Although this film depicts a group of people traveling to an island to view some 'shoddy' land for sale, the real occurrence was actually a bit different. How do I know this information? None of your business. Many decades ago a certain entrepreneur was looking for an island to build a grand resort. This certain someone came upon this land which happened to be owned and operated by a government organization(not U.S.). From the information I was privy to, the story goes like this: The person and their associates came upon the land unannounced, the owners were none too pleased. As this certain organization was conducting genetic experimentation on certain organisms. Apparently, they had mutated a strain of Carpenter Ants, and grown about the size of a Volkswagen Bug. They were having to restrain the ants just at the time the unwelcome visitors arrived. The ants were attached to ropes, like cattle. Just as it always happens in 'the movies', the experiment was a huge disaster. According to my source, the group of ants attacked and killed several of the scientists, the remaining scientists,authorities and land surveyors escaped unharmed in their helicopter and boats. No one ever returned to this island and of course, no one ever informed or spoke about it publicly. I have pressed my source for the whereabouts of this island but up until the time of their death, they would would never disclose the exact location. Although I have my suspicions, due to some other personal information I have about this individual.

So, as you can tell, the movie version is quite different and never makes any mention of it being based on a true account.
The only reason it was made into a movie is because one of the land surveyors took up screenwriting after it happened.


"The blood...the blood."

I just viewed Daughters of Darkness and at first thought well maybe this is not going to be so fantastic. But after a bit I realized that it had crept under my skin like some alien contagion and I was no longer who I was. This DVD was created with loving care by ANCHOR BAY with a great (and very candid) interview with co-star Andrea Rau. The score is excellent and Delphine Seyrig is perfect as the vampire Elizabeth Bathory parading around in her wardrobe which is quite fantastic and slinky. The location they used was the resort town of Ostende, Belgium. Filmed during off-season there were virtually no tourists, which added to and was appropriate for the film's somber, desolate atmosphere.


"Touch me or I'll find somebody who will!"

One of those great 70's horror pictures, The Legend of Hell House is one of a few effective haunted house films. A British production with just the exact amount of sinister mood and limited blood, although its gore is not the most masterful one has seen on screen. It stars Roddy McDowall and Pamela Franklin whom you may have seen in the 1961 haunted house epic The Innocents. The story of a haunted mansion is told quite originally, the use of a giant machine is used at some point to 'suck' the spooks out as well as the usual channeling and of course making love with a mean ghost, which I am sure some of you have done before. The group of four people are being paid to spend one week in this malignant home, an aspect which was probably stolen from "The House on Haunted Hill", ok so that is the one soiled idea. This is a true 'haunted' classic and the cast in particular McDowall and Franklin are fitting for their heavy roles. On another note, the minimalist score is stunningly unique and unsettling.


"The cookbook recommends a touch more tarragon."

Rock Hudson and Barbara Carrera star along with Diane Ladd in Embryo, a 70's sci-fi movie about the perils of cloning. Rock Hudson bascially grows a female in his lab and she is well, a little spooky and quite brilliant. The perfect combination for a cloning experiment gone awry. At some point in the film, this spooky female clone called Victoria (Barbara Carrera), as in 'victorious' discovers she is aging at a highly accelerated rate. She is a genius, so of course she knows just what to do and does so without Paul's (Rock Hudson) knowledge. People began mysteriously dying, she freaks out in several scenes and eventually becomes desperate. And we all know what desperation can lead to, right? This is a film about the survival of the fittest and sometimes the fittest may be what you've cloned, so society beware.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


"Are you mad at me!"

In Tobe Hooper's original masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre he adeptly captured what could be described as an artist's vision of Hell. In its sequel, Hooper intentionally over-indulges in every creative aspect. He creates some deliciously macabre moments and also black humor in addition to heaps of gore. This film is nowhere near the level of its predecessor, however it still manages to work. Dennis Hopper stars as Lefty Enright, he is related to two of the characters of the first film and has been 'hunting' the Leatherface clan for years now. He is befriended by a radio DJ called Stretch played wonderfully by Caroline Williams, she carries the entire film. Stretch wants to help Lefty capture them, he eventually agrees to let her. The film takes off at this point. One of the best sequences of this film is the radio station visitation by Leatherface and his bizarro brother Chop-Top. The interaction of the two of them with Stretch is absolutely priceless. The story eventually takes us to the freak show family's underground lair, in which Lefty attempts to rescue Stretch and engages in a very well executed chainsaw battle. All of the performances in this film are great and I would say that the first half of the film is the strongest. A minor horror classic.


"We have a winner!"

Hellraiser:Hellseeker is a refreshing surprise in this uneven series. Rick Bota, a great director, makes the most of his limited budget and weaves an intelligent horror/mystery. This sixth installment has Ashley Laurence reprising her role again as Kirsty Cotton, still haunted by the cenobites we see her plead with them to make one final deal with her. She is surely at her wits end and has become, more like her father and stepmother from the previous films. Although it seems she is not entirely 'evil', what she does is for simply her own survival versus pleasure. The film takes some strange and mysterious paths and has some interesting characters, in particular Rachel Hayward as Dr. Allison. The director commentary feature on the DVD is excellent, Bota explains all of the technical aspects of each scene. Hellseeker was shot in Canada and makes terrific use of its wintry landscape and atmosphere.


"Welcome to the club!"

A fantastic late night Amicus production starring the always capable Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt. Actually everyone in the cast is great in particular Chloe Franks as Jane, the pretty little girl who is forbidden to have friends or dolls. Also great are Nyree Dawn Porter as Ann, Jane's live-in teacher and Geoffrey Bayldon as Theo von Hartmann the antique shop proprietor. The story surrounds a beautiful old house out in the English countryside and all of its previously doomed tenants. Each of their stories is told (in four parts) by the home's realtor to an inquiring detective. The last story stars Ingrid Pitt who has some great dialogue and is quite funny in the role. All of this culminates into a climax involving the detective and the last tenant. The House that Dripped Blood with its avant-garde score is but one of many great 70's horror classics.


"Lobotomy gets em' home!"

This biopic tells the story (although its accuracy has been debated) of 1930's star Frances Farmer and her harrowing career as a young Hollywood actress. Jessica Lange gives the performance of a lifetime and was nominated that same year for Frances as well as Tootsie (she won for the latter). Stage actress Kim Stanley plays her mother Lillian Farmer and she too was nominated for her equally captivating performance. This film is quite sad and difficult to watch at times. Certain events and characters in the film have been heavily debated as to whether or not they ever occured or existed. There are two out-of-print books as well, one titled "Will There Really Be A Morning?" is scathingly sensational and was written almost entirely by Jean Ratcliffe (not Francis Farmer as credited). Ratcliffe was Farmer's friend towards the end of her life and she later confessed she had exagerrated much of it to enhance its marketability. The other book "Shadowland" (which Frances is based on) does not hold up much better as it claims she had a lobotomy which has been reputed by many close to Farmer. But as a film Frances is quite mesmerizing, although the film's antagonists (with the exception of Kim Stanley) are played as mere caricatures. The undeniable performances by Lange and Stanley are to be studied. John Barry's provides a momentous score.


Some Epic Dream

Federico Fellini's Satyricon is one long gargantuan dream. An epic dream that I wish to make my home, among others. Every image is amazing & unique. It is a film replete with life & gorgeous men, particularly two brothers, whom at times appear to be romantically entwined. In this world men have younger men whom they take care of in all aspects. In this world no one is inhibited. If one is, one will quickly lose any inhibition as does one woman dancing an incredibly wild & manic dance. I first witnessed Satyricon in Mr. Nafus's film class in Austin, Texas. I was one of the few students that enjoyed it. My professor was elated. You must see this film in widescreen, it was meant to be seen in this format. The score is spectacular, being mostly minimal. A perfect film.

HOWLING V: The Rebirth

Fangs, Claws and Flaws

I was pleasantly surprised from the very beginning of this film. Howling V, I thought would be direct-to-dvd nonsense. But it has good direction trapped within the constraints of a tiny budget, most of the budget being spent on the location. Neal Sundstrom directed it in beautiful Budapest, inside a castle. The things this flawed film has going for it are, a brilliant opening sequence set in ancient times, an excellent innovative score and its location, with many beautiful snow-filled shots outside of the castle (maybe it was CGI). The acting is uneven as usual, Victoria Caitlin and Mary Stavin are my favorites. The typical dumb blonde girl is played by Elisabeth She. And the ending, most people would not figure the mystery out.


"I am near, but also far."

One of the most fantastic horror films ever, Shock Waves relies heavily on atmosphere and a creepy score. The setting is wonderfully gloomy and isolating, being on a deserted island in an dilapidated hotel. Nazi-zombies rise up from the sea and wreak havoc on the handful of its ship-wrecked guests. This film is dream-like in its ability to seep under your skin, it stays with the viewer. One must watch this film in the late hours for optimum results, preferably on the edge of the sea.