Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A charm-filled chat with Tom Savini

Another day, another documentary, and this time, it's the horror maestro, Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Friday The 13th, all the good horror effects. Shame on you if you didn't know him!), with Horror Effects with Tom Savini!

This comes from a videotape from the early 90s, around the filming of Two Evil Eyes (an awful lot of Savini behind the scenes seems to come from then!), and is hosted by Night of the Living Dead scribe John Russo, though it is a very casual piece and Russo is more hanging with Savini than anything else. The video opens with a warning of behind the scenes footage that will not be up to Hollywood standard and we are treated to lame-tastic credits, but the entire charm of this 40 minute excursion is its casualness. Savini's daughter, in face-paint, is wandering around the workroom where they film, and the conversation is all very friendly and feels like it is between friends.

So, as a follow-up to yesterdays Masters of Horror, enjoy a behind the scenes video with the amazing Tom Savini!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A heartfelt documentary to horror

Youtube has been throwing so many brilliant horror documentaries at me, I have to start sharing them. Let's begin with a brilliant TV special called Masters of Horror (not connected with the TV series), hosted by horror legend Bruce Campbell.

Documentaries like this tend to be very superficial and fluff-based, but this one, though not exactly hard-hitting or controversial, gives plenty of insight into many of the most famous horror directors, and the insight in a brilliant love-letter to the horror genre. 

Several directors show just a pure passion for it, and those who might have given the impression they were unhappy with the label on occasion (George Romero and Wes Craven always stand out) set it straight here with interesting and intelligent views.

It also acts as a bit of a behind the scenes in an unexpected way on certain films, namely Wes Craven's The Serpent and The Rainbow (horribly underrated voodoo film) and a lot of love is given to John Carpenter's They Live.

If you have any interest in horror, or wonder how the heck people can be so in to it, then this documentary will give you a brilliant insight into one of the most analytically genres there is.

Also, the way it is shot and edited makes every incredible horror effect ever part of an insane texture montage that makes me excited for footage I had never thought was anything special. 


Watch Videodrome online now (probably for a limited time)

I'm not quite sure what the status of the legality of all the full length movies that have begun appearing on YouTube is, but I would be doing people wrong by not point you to David Cronenberg's underrated masterpiece; Videodrome.

Even if the video below is deleted, do yourself a favour and go buy this film now (preferably the amazing Criterion Collection DVD) as it is a film that was not only ahead of its time, but is still pretty heavy with ingenious moral game play and visual amazement. It is an incredible film not to be missed.

And if you needed anymore encouragement; male vagina.

Monday, 16 July 2012

With trailers like these, why watch the whole thing?

Being bed-bound, I am restless and wanting to watch stuff, and what started as a curious viewing of the trailer for John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness has led me into the insanity of the most fantastically bad B-movie trailers/clips you could ask for! 

The best thing about these trailers is that they are obviously for films so bad that they put all the best bits in the trailer, so you know if you watch the full length thing you will just see a load of filler between the amazingly crap latex monster from the trailer.

You may notice an awful lot of these are from the 80s. What the hell was wrong with that decade? Anyway, there's 16 hours of films condensed into less than 20 minutes. I'm sorry... I'm so sorry...

THE BRAIN (1988)
All I know is what Wikipedia tells me, which is that this has some sort of anti-Scientology message, and that it hasn't been released on DVD. That's more than enough!

Sweet Jesus, this looks amazing!!! That amazing sound design! Those realistic and not at all boringly white sets! Those severed arm effects! 

This is the REAL Alien sequel, not that silly Prometheus nonsense. From the back of the box: “From the darkest corner of the universe comes an alien terror with a cold-blooded mission...conquer the earth [sic] and harvest it’s [sic] inhabitants as a food source. Can our world survive this nightmare from deep space. [sic]”

AMERICA 3000 (1986)
'Love is the only thing worth nuking'. Truer words have never been said...

THE POWER (1983)
Earth... Fire... Wind... I guess this is Captain Planet without the Heart?

Darth Vader uses the force in an all-new cringy way! 

The Earth is under attack from toy space ships and bad 80s hair dos!

Hellgate! Hellgate! Did I mention this film is called Hellgate!? On video cassette finally!

Oh no...

I love how these trailers are so blind to the fact we don't care what happens in the film, that we just wanna see the crazy shit they give us in the trailer.

'Isn't she beautiful?' What? The pants-shittingly terrifying human sized doll? Yeah... Sure... It's not like she'll be an evil killer or something.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Death of the DVD Film School

This is an issue that had been eating at me for a long time now (not literally. I'm just trying to be metaphorical. Why won't you let me be smart!?); It is inevitable, physical media is going bye-bye and everything will essentially be cloud or computer space, and this isn't a bad thing in itself, but I am a big movie lover, and an even bigger DVD/Blu-Ray special features lover, and I am worried that we may be witnessing the death of the special feature.

I am a bit of a collector (read: hoarder) when it comes to DVDs. I have to have em, and I have to have the most special-est fanciest edition going. Annoyingly, studios double dip, or release better versions of films all the time. I have bought at least 2 different copies of each of George Romero's original zombie flicks, and I am still a long way off having all the bases covered. This is a nuisance, sure, but not my concern. My concern is the complete disappearance of the reasons I buy these discs; the special features.

What the fuck is this 'overkill' you speak of?

My entire life, I have been a horror fan, and film fan in general, and I will always remember that moment I discovered the audio commentary on the first Nightmare on Elm Street film I had recently got for my 14th birthday. Up until then, all I thought of DVDs was an expensive but fancy way of having better picture quality, and maybe a trailer. But this commentary (plus the ridiculously lush release of Hannibal I also acquired) took me to a new level. Suddenly, I was being shown behind the scenes, and not in that annoying E Close-up kind of way, but in a frank and casual way. Though not always the case, you could very often find out what went wrong, or massive problems that were overcome, or the general nitty gritty you might not know otherwise. It was an education. A film school put on to reflective plastic. And I loved it. 

This was some of the best 4 hours 
of my life. No, seriously.

DVDs boomed and everything was the best special edition that could be made (for a high price, of course, but hey, you are no longer watching a film, but experiencing it really). Some releases were brilliant and insightful, like the first two Terminator films or the Alien quadrilogy, and some lacked a depth, typically owing to being recent and people not wanting to burn bridges or just generally wanting it to seem like a classic (see: Alien Vs Predator's horrendously ego-tripping features). But we were given banks of information. And then it started to disappear...

Do yourself a favour and read this article here, about the disappearance of special features (and this response to it, which also gives some nice extra insight). The basic point is that people are watching films on services like Netflix or iTunes, and no longer buy DVDs or Blu Rays, meaning there is no point in companies shilling out for features for these formats, as not nearly enough people are buying anymore. And it is very true. There are some definite exceptions to this rule (like Arrow, who have been releasing amazing special editions of cult classics), but it is becoming more and more rare that you will find a double disc special edition. Sure, you might find an extended cut or whatever, but that's not the same. 

My shelves are literally full of DVDs (with some Blu Rays starting to sneak in), but I know they are quickly becoming obsolete, and really, even though I do love to have and to hold them, I am ready to embrace the change. If you were to tell me I could have all of my collection located in a digital space that is no bigger than a hard drive in the real world, I would go for it. I have run out of room for my habit, and see that the convenience of it all being stored digitally is massive. You may also say 'Hey, Richard, this is no dream. You can do this RIGHT NOW!', and you would be right. But it comes with a heck of a caveat. Whatever I buy will be limited to the film itself. Just the film. No extras. No making of. No commentary. And this is where I call bullshit.

Thanks, Google.

I love the idea of buying a film from iTunes and downloading it right away, but I don't. Special features are a must. As a filmmaker, as a fan, we have had it, and we can not go back. Oddly, The Human Centipede 2 has extra features for download, but aside from that, if you want the features, you get the physical format, which is having less and less features, because of your digital downloading, because of the convenience and lack of features on physical discs, which there wouldn't be, if you... yadda yadda yadda. You get it.

The obvious question: Why can I not download the special features?

I am watching The Thing remake, which comes with a commentary, a making of and deleted scenes, for the price of €8-ish. For just the film on iTunes, I pay €12 (or €17 for the HD version!!!). Why would I do that now? Why aren't special features added in? Like the way you can get album artwork with a music download, you should be able to buy special edition digital downloads. Surely packaging up a film with a making of, deleted scenes, and including a second audio track for the commentary is not THAT difficult. As it stands, there is no benefit to a digital download except that it's digital, but that's like saying 'this car comes with wheels'. It really is standard now. And this is why piracy is still so rampant. DVDs DID curve piracy somewhat, because they offered something new or added, but a digital download is a step back.

Displayed here by the medium of
interpretive dance.

But add in some extras to that download, and I am sold. For the same price, I will move away from DVD and do my purchasing online. I am not the only one. There must be thousands of people who agree with this. And think of the added benefits. Films that are not available in special editions can have features added finally. It has already happened. Darron Aronofsky recorded an audio commentary for The Fountain and Tom Holland did one for Child's Play, and these were released online for free. As a region 2 customer, a lot of special editions in the US don't make it across the pond (say Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). I own the film already, but I would spend 1 or 2 quid on a downloadable commentary to watch with it. The market is there, and it is all material that has either been created already, or just needs motivation and purpose to be created some more.

So, my proposal is simple. Release films online with special features and you will have more customers. And the interest in special features will be reignited so more will be made. And studios will get money, and we will get the in depth experience we had been spoiled with. 

Let's do this thing!