We live in a scary, scary world, friends. I was over at Current TV’s website, killing time while waiting out Snowpocalypse II 2010, and came across this clip. It needs no introduction other than “these are baby preachers:”
Knock-off movies are a dime a dozen, yet because, much like Turkish Spider-Man, I am a child-minded lunatic, I have a boundless capacity for this type of cinematic fare. It takes a particularly brave knock-off film to borrow from such seemingly disparate source material as 1980’s “Flash Gordon,” the “Star Wars” trilogy, and the Ringo Starr vehicle “Caveman,” but if “Yor, the Hunter from the Future” had balls, they would be made of a resilient metal material, because it does precisely this. Yes, it’s just as glorious as you suspect it might be. And everything in that gorgeous Druillet-illo’ed poster DOES happen in the story.
I’m pretty sure nobody’s as surprised, flattered, and honored to find out that Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire has been nominated for Best Horror Blog in the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards as I am! Well, I mean–the latter two qualifiers are obvious, since I’m the only person who writes for this blog. That having been said–it’s pretty amazing to me that, two scanty years after venturing out into the world of public blogging, I’d find myself on a list with such genre luminaries as Kim Lindbergs’ Cinebeats, Pierre Fournier’s Frankensteinia, and Tim Lucas’ Video Watchblog. There are so many great talents among the nominees that I can’t in good conscience beg anybody to vote for me–but I can and will urge folks to vote for their favorites!
We’ve discussed this in the past–the defining feature of micro-budget filmmaking is heart. A passion to see one’s ideas realized in twenty-four-or-more glowing frames per second unites the folks who create home-financed films. I tip my hat to anyone who is willing to herd amateur actors, troubleshoot special effects using ingenuity rather than an open checkbook, and deal with the everyday setbacks and heartbreaks that come at truly independent creative types from all sides. It’s a special kind of treat when one of these projects puts all the pieces together in the form of an off-beat, entertaining and refreshingly true-to-original-vision flick. Filmmaker Matthew Glasson’s* “The Family Tie,” a labor of love that began its life in 1997 only to be ultimately edited and completed in 2007, is just such a micro-budget treat.
- Brevity! This movie is unafraid to get in, get it done, and get out. Clocking in at 36 minutes, there is no down time and no padding. Much as it might be tempting for filmmakers to go for the Full Ninety and add in scenes of characters driving in cars, or walking around stores, or sitting in bars (we’ve all seen flicks like this, haven’t we?), Glasson doesn’t fall prey to the lure of the feature-length. Instead, he makes every scene count.
- The humor in “The Family Tie” comes in many forms, from John’s bizarre mannerisms to the physical comedy of Dave’s training sequence to several outrageously gory money shots. If I had to pick a favorite sequence, I’d have to say that the manner in which the Dave barters for information from gangster Bernie “Brass Balls” Benigno would take the cake. Never has yogurt plopping into the transparent canister of a wet/dry shop vac looked so disgusting.
- The characters never wink at the audience–this is all deadly serious business to these folks. Theirs is an off-kilter world that’s like a Dadaist reworking of a gritty 1970s crime drama.
- Music is used to great effect throughout. The clever incorporation of classical themes from Mozart, Grieg, and Wagner add a lunatic gravitas to the proceedings that enhances the comedy expertly. This is a good application of public domain music–there’s no need to opt for hokey incidental orchestrations when the classics will do. See also the use of “Swan Lake” in the Browning/Lugosi “Dracula.”
- Perhaps the single element that makes “The Family Tie” work is the machine-gun editing. I lost count of the number of angle changes and splices that occur during the threatening phone call from John that opens the film. The energetic–some might say downright spastic–structure of each scene keeps the pace of the story popping right along. And need I say that I totally dug the use of intertitles? Cos I totally dug the intertitles.
Being the daughter of a print media editor has its downsides–I’ve inherited a marked impatience with slow storytelling. This is particularly challenging, since I have a dear, beloved, admired and respected friend who simply cannot tell a concise story. Try as he might to get to the frikkin’ point in a timely fashion, I’ve come to believe his humors are balanced in such a way as to make him incapable of doing this. I simply resign myself to the fact that, when this friend gets to telling a story, I’d better take a seat and let him recount the tale his way, hoping that the payoff will be worth it. This is frequently the case, and that’s why we remain friends.
“Love Me Strangely” is a film that’s growing on me the more I reflect on the series of complexities and inversions that it offers. Sure, it’s a tasty morsel of groovy Continental sexiness from the sweet spot of late 60s/early 70s cinema, but it’s also a sinister and ultimately tragic thriller-cum-love-story whose unsettling message has more resonance than it should.
Here’s an experience we’ve all shared: you watch a two minute trailer that is such a dollop of condensed gorgeousness that you hesitate to seek out the film-actual. 1978’s “Massacre Mafia Style” is like that for me. I’m not an enormous fan of organized crime epics, but I’m a huge fan of movie trailers that feature death via urinal-wheelchair electrocution:
When I was about fifteen years old, I dubbed “Troll 2” the worst movie I’d ever seen, due in part to the quality of the film and in part to the fact that my brother liked it. At the time, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would deliberately subject him- or herself to ninety minutes of barely comprehensible junk that blends the horrors of the “Gremlins” franchise with the aesthetics of a peyote trip (read: hallucinations accompanied by profuse vomiting).
- Who [the FUCK] was the intended audience for this movie? I always found the above-mentioned “Gremlins” films to be too squicky and too teen-ey for any human to enjoy, and yet people do in fact enjoy these movies. So what the hell do I know? But still–“Troll 2,” WHO ARE YOU FOR?! Your ghoulish meditations on death, your cannibal orgies, your childlike fairy tale plot… it’s too much for me to comprehend.
- Director Claudio Fragasso–girl-child body building fetishist, or garden variety creep?
- How big are the goblins-that-are-never-called-trolls? I keep hoping they’re midgets, but I suspect they’re actually normal-sized people.
- On what planet does green cream look appetizing?
“Lulu” tracks the rise and fall of a beguiling dancer whose sexuality is tied directly to her fortunes. The titular nymph-like seductress flits from romance to romance, strategically positioning herself for social and financial gain. Each of her lovers embodies a Victorian archetype, from the old professor showing off what would now be called a “trophy wife” to the bohemian artist to the bourgeois newspaperman to the naive young man. Borowczyk’s adaptation of Wedekind’s melodramas emphasizes the satirical nature of the story, skewering upper middle class attitudes towards sexual relationships.