Two Films by Uwe

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Uwe Boll must certainly be one of the most controversial and hated directors around currently. His numerous film adaptations of video games are almost universally shunned by gamers and film fans alike. When you add to this his childishly humorous response to criticism, like for instance challenging his five harshest critics to a ten round boxing match (the invitation was also opened to Quentin Tarantino) or promising to retire from the film business if a online petition asking him to do so got 1,000,000 signatures, he comes off as either one hell of an arrogant asshole or a comedic genius.

To date I have not had the pleasure of witnessing one of Boll’s so-called celluloid atrocities, so I decided to remedy that situation and see what all the fuss was about. I selected two films from his oeuvre to watch, one from each end of the spectrum – Amoklauf (1994) and Seed (2007).

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Greydon Clark Interview

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Crimson Celluloid: Firstly on an entirely self-indulgent note I have to say a hearty thank you for all the great film entertainment you have provided over your career. You have worked with a veritable who’s who of actors and you always deliver. Is this common of the fan reaction to your films?

Greydon Clark: Thank you for the kind words. I’ve been extremely lucky throughout my career. I’ve worked with many wonderful actors. I’ve found that those names you’d recognize were always most helpful, creative, and involved in our production. Many people are eager for me to discuss working with particular actors they know. Film production is a complicated process. The actors are a very important part. Casting a film correctly can make or break a film. Again, I’ve been very lucky in that area.

For me the holy trio of my all-time favourite films are Patrick G Donahue’s Kill Squad, Jonathan Kaplan’s Truck Turner and your masterpiece Without Warning. What kind of memories do you have when you look back upon making this marvellous monster film?

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Drive-In Delirium [Volumes 1 & 2]

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They have many varying and wonderful names – cult films, exploitation, drive-in, midnight movies – but whatever you call them, the ‘b’ movies of the 60s, 70s and 80s represent a time of remarkable freedom and adventure in cinema. Typically, this was done under restrictive budget pressure and often well outside the mainstream both in a commercial sense and in subject matter.

Marketing such works became an art form in itself. The advertising campaigns tended to latch on to one facet of each movie, be it the premise, the star or – far more often – the more lurid aspects. Sometimes the marketing became as notorious as the films themselves, such as the “Keep repeating to yourself, it’s only a movie…it’s only a movie…” tag line for 1972’s Last House On The Left.

That Wes Craven video nasty is one of the many, many, MANY titles whose trailers are included in the two volume Drive-In Delirium collection from Umbrella Entertainment. The hundreds of trailers are spread over two four-disc sets for a whopping total running time of nearly 24 hours. It’s a staggering assortment of everything from sex comedies to sci-fi schlock to European slasher flicks – all packed into trailers that run the gamut from brilliant to hilariously awful.

Well-known flicks are in attendance, such as Videodrome, Re-Animator and Friday the 13th , but the real fun is in the more obscure titles. If you cannot find dozens of new titles and desperately want to see them, then you must be dead inside. Continue reading

The Protector 2 [Blu-ray]

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In 2003, Ong Bak hit the martial arts movie scene like a bomb. The Thai flick had a threadbare plot but more than made up for it with utterly dazzling fight and action scenes, anchored by the lead. A phenomenal athlete and martial artist, former stuntman Tony Jaa looked set for greatness, a potential reinforced by the follow-up, Tom Yung Goong (known here as The Protector). It showcased bigger fight scenes, more death-defying feats from the awesome stunt team and Jaa beginning to add screen charisma to his physicality.

Then it all went wrong.

Jaa and producer/director Prachya Pinkaew had a falling out, rumours circulating around a dispute over the contract that tied Jaa to Pinkaew’s production company for a full decade. Jaa took the directing reins for Ong Bak 2 and spectacularly imploded under the pressure, culminating in his apparently flight from the set to two months of isolation followed by a tearful appearance on live television. Continue reading

Heckler

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Reviewing films, as much fun as it can be, is a duel-edged sword. On the one hand I can sit down and watch a film that people have worked months, if not YEARS on, and dismiss it with a single paragraph. One side of me feels genuinely guilty about this..the other side thinks “fuck you..that’s an hour and a half of my life I’m NEVER getting back..and YOU are responsible!!!”.

These thoughts came to me as I viewed Jamie Kennedy’s Heckler, a great documentary that examines the phenomenon of unwanted audience participation, the very personal attacks of reviewers, and how the internet has given voice to bloggers who would otherwise be sitting at home with their cats and wanking over the latest issue of Empire magazine.

Using extensive archival footage of actual heckling this compelling piece of work raises many a valid and interesting point, usually from the point of view of those on the receiving end, but in a nice twist Kennedy also confronts his harshest critics and asks them why they need to be so vitriolic and personal in their attacks. This part of the film is a revelation and you can’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable and embarrassed by the unreserved hostility and arrogance of the reviewers. Continue reading

Upcoming Film: HONEYSPIDER

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HONEYSPIDER is an upcoming horror feature film from indie filmmakers Josh Hasty and Kenny Caperton. The film takes place in 1989 on Halloween day and follows college student Jackie Blue (Mariah Brown) as she slowly unravels, all while a mysterious stranger watches over her.

HONEYSPIDER is a cult throwback that pays homage to the classics, but also introduces original ideas to the genre. The film is written and produced by Kenny Caperton (owner of the infamous Myers House NC) and directed by Josh Hasty (‘A Mannequin in Static’) of Black House Capital. The film stars Frank Aard (‘April Fool’s Day’ remake), Joan Schuermeyer (‘Zombieland’ and RZ’s ‘Halloween 2’), Rachel Jeffreys, Samantha Mills (‘Bombshell Bloodbath’) and newcomer Mariah Brown. Continue reading

Howl

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A movie about a poem? Seems like a strange idea right, even with a poem as famous as Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl but this is more than just a movie about a poem, this is a movie about an era, a trial and the burgeoning beat writers movement, with Ginsberg as the central figure, the glue to hold it all together.

Howl was arguably the launching pad for the beats, the moment when a new voice and a new distinct style was heard but Ginsberg and the others weren’t really prepared for the uproar it would create. In 1957 City Lights Press and publisher/poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti were taken to court for obscenity and this film is as much about the trial and free speech as it is about Ginsberg (who incidentally wasn’t taken to court).

Filmed in a documentary style with Ginsberg played by James Franco (Pineapple Express, Freaks and Geeks) talking us through his life, interspersed with trial footage and stanzas from the poem itself, using colour, black and white and animation, the film surprisingly keeps a fair pace, never really dropping away, and considering it’s essentially a bunch of talking heads, that is no mean feat.

The only problem I really had was the animated computer graphics used to illustrate the poem, that damn near derailed the movie for me but I just turned away when the dumb ass stuff came up. Why do that when you have an actor the caliber of Franco holding the film together? Even if he does occasionally look like a bespectacled Adam Ant he was still such a strong presence that the animation just looked stupid in comparison.

Will this movie make converts? I don’t know, it is after all a bunch of talking heads and in this day and age that might not be enough. But for those with an interest in the beats, in Ginsberg, in poetry, this is a no brainer, you need it. For those perhaps curious about what all the fuss was about, well this is the second place to go, after you’ve bought Howl which is still in print from City Lights.

Personally I always thought Allen Ginsberg was a touch overrated, now I’m not so sure, so I guess Howl has already got one convert. You might well be the next one.

There’s a bunch of extras including commentary, trailer, “Franco reads Howl”, “Ginsberg reads Howl”, the most interesting being Holy! Holy! Holy! – a great little 40 minute documentary about the making of the film, including such simple things as getting the sets right, the costumes, the filming… an interesting look behind the scenes.

Howl is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

The Act of Killing

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In 1965, a failed coup d’état in Indonesia would lead to devastating repercussions. In a purge often described as the worst atrocity since the Holocaust, Government-approved death squads wiped out Communists and suspected sympathisers in a brutal six-month period. Exact numbers killed remain unverified, but estimates generally range between 500,000 and one million deaths.

The Government of the time remains in power in Indonesia today. The slaughter of 1965-1966 is considered an heroic and positive step in the country’s story. It is history as written by the victors.

The Act of Killing takes an unusual approach for a documentary. Instead of following the victims and survivors, it follows the perpetrators of the massacre. Given their status in Indonesia, these killers are not only happy to talk about their acts, they re-enact them for the cameras. Continue reading

Samantha Mills Interview

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Crimson Celluloid: I imagine, as the outsider I am, that it’s a massive change of lifestyle going from your home state of North Carolina to the mean streets of Los Angeles. How have you found things since you have moved?

Samantha Mills: It is a big change that’s for sure. Going from yards and suburbs to city life. But I absolutely love it and wish I would have moved to LA sooner. I’m still very new to the area so I’m still trying to gather my bearings but just the overall vibe and atmosphere of the place is absolutely wonderful. I just love how art in a general sense is accepted here whether it be acting or dancing or drawing or any form of expression. It’s great. I can’t wait to experience more of it.

CC: Has it been a case of non-stop auditions, dodging producers trying to lure you onto the casting-couch and avoiding any bodily fluids spilled by Charlie Sheen? Continue reading

Slasher House

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The modern era of digital filmmaking has meant the tools of creating movies are within the reach of more people than ever. With the barriers lowered, microbudget features have become a reality and, in some cases, a success.

Naturally, this democratisation of filmaking has also led to a dilution of quality, with many tiny films often displaying more enthusiasm than talent. Fortunately, Slasher House is an exception. For the most part.

Shot for a measly 5,000 pounds, this UK horror flick is extremely shrewd with its budget, making sure every penny counts, with a great location and a bold colour scheme combining to elevate the production level of the film beyond its means.

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