Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Twilight Zone - The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine

"It's better to burn out, than to fade away....."

Neil Young's words ring eerily true in the fourth episode of season one.  This story is a slow burn, with an uncomfortable discord between aging actress Barbara Jean Trenton (Ida Lupino) and the rest of the world, which has moved forward without her.  Barbara spends her day in her parlor watching the films in which she starred in her heyday of the 1930's.

Her agent, Dan (Martin Balsam) tries to bring her out into the real world and tries to get her active in the film world again, however the meeting with the producer does not go very well.  Barbara Jean is appalled when she is informed that the part the studio had in mind for her was not only NOT the leading role but also that of a mother.  Barbara Jean scoffs at the offer without so much as reading the script.  She falls into a deeper self induced isolation.

Dan tries another tactic by inviting an old co-star to visit her.  Barbara Jean is alight with excitement at the news of her old friend coming by.....that is until she see's him.  He is old and now manages a chain of grocery stores.  Barbara, caught in her own world of the 1930's is horrified to find him in this condition.  She again slumps into her room of despair and memories.

As per usual, I won't spoil the end of the episode, but I will say this:   Those who are expecting a frightening twist will be disappointed.    While there is tension that slowly builds as we watch her descend into her world of make-believe, the ending gives more of an Amazing Stories sort of vibe to it.

While this episode isn't really one of my favorites, Ida Lupino's performance is before it's time.  Her delusional, manic and neurotic performance calls to mind Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Joan Crawford.....with out the wire hanger beatings.

Midnight Factoids:

- Originally aired October 23, 1959
-  Ida Lupino is not only the only woman to direct an episode of TZ (The Masks in Season 5), but she is also the only person to both star in an episode and act in one!
- The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine shares a similar story to Billy Wilder's "Sunset Strip".

Phantoms from the Celluloid Crypt:

Ida Lupino - played Mrs. Skinner in the Bert I. Gordon schlock classic Food of the Gods.  Also appeared in two episodes of the 1964 Batman tv series, playing Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft in the episodes The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra and The Joker's Flying Saucer.

Martin Balsam - played Mr. Pym in The Black Cat segment of Two Evil Eyes.  Also keep an eye out of him in Murder on the Orient Express as Bianchi!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fangoria Poster #3

Oh yeah!  It's time once again to check out another fantastic old school Fangoria quad poster.  Issue #3's poster is a fantastic piece.  Ridley Scott's seminal horror shocker, Alien takes poster honor this month and it's another fantastic quad-paged poster.

Alien, incidentally celebrated it's 33rd anniversary on May 25th.  Look at that.....Fangoria, Alien AND The Midnight Cinephile himself are all turning 33 this year!  Damn, 1979 sure was a great year!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fangoria Posters!

I had a lot of fun going back through the first issue of Fangoria.  I used to love the Scream Great posters that were found on the fold-out flip side of the cover, and of course the quad-folded posters were even better.  I had a blast putting up the Godzilla poster as a little bonus at the end of the article and it got me thinking.....wouldn't it be fantastic to show all the old posters?   The answer is yes.  Yes it would be insanely awesome.  I think it would also be pretty awesome to go back and revisit my favorite past issues of Fango, so you can look forward to that as well!

Meanwhile, here's the awesome Dr. Who poster direct for Fangoria Issue #2 feature Tom Baker's Fourth (and BEST!) Doctor!!!!!

A look back at Fangoria Issue #1

Currently, Fangoria Issue #315 is on the newsstand shelves.  Let's stop and think about that for a moment.  THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN!  HOLY HELL!  That's right....Fango has been on the the newsstand since 1979.  Next month, the petrifying periodical will celebrate it's 33rd birthday (incidentally, I turn 33 THIS month....and I feel OLD).  That's quite an accomplishment if you ask me, especially in a field as widely changing as the horror genre.

The longest running horror magazine's sported a fantastic Godzilla cover (and an awesome poster on the inside!) and took a look back at 25 years with Big G.  There were also terrific articles featuring Tom Savini's work on Dawn of the Dead, an in depth interview with Christopher Lee and an article featuring the "lost" aliens from Battlestar Galactica.

Sounds pretty amazing, doesn't it?  Bet you'd like to get your claws on a copy, wouldn't ya?  Well, be ready to cough up some serious bones kiddies, because sadly a warehouse containing all the Fangoria back issues burned down in 2007.  All the remaining copies are available only through private collectors and on the secondary market.  Depending on the quality, copies of this rare issue will run you anywhere from $50 - $400.

The editorial reigns have been handed over several times in the magazines lifetime.  Robert "Bob" Martin started it all in '79, bringing co-editor David Everitt on in the early 80's.   Martin left in 1986 and Everitt followed suit shortly after.  In the interim, editorial duties were given to Starlog editor David McDonell, who then handed the reigns over to Tony Timpone in 1987.  Timpone's  been the longest running editor so far, passing the torch on to former Rue Morgue scribe Chris Alexander, who is the current mad man running the asylum.

As I've written elsewhere, I've been with Fango since #113.  For almost two hundred issues, I have faithfully read every month about the upcoming movies that I couldn't wait to see and the classic gems that I hold dear to my heart.  Fango #113 came out in June of 1992 and featured Alien 3 on it's cover.  There was also an article that covered horror video games (another of my great passions in life!).

Here's to another 33 years, I truly hope that when I'm 66 I will still be excitedly waiting for the next edition to arrive in my hands.  Below, I hope you enjoy the very first Editorial, a list of magazine contents and issue #1's Postal Zone.

Remember the ultra awesome Godzilla poster that I told you about?  Here ya go!

GO GO GODZILLA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fiction Page

Above the visitor counter, you may notice that I've added a fiction page.

Here you will find a bizarre fan fiction piece I wrote a while ago based on a classic video game of yesteryear.  The game in question is the 1985 survival horror/shooter/creepfest Beyond the Forbidden Forest.  This game absolutely captured my imagination when I was a kid.  I was convinced that the game was based off of some movie from the 70's.....I don't know why.

I remember constantly asking my Dad,  "Did that happen in the movie?"

It drove him insane to no end, I'm sure, and I STILL think it would make a pretty wicked flick.  Now remember back in 1985, 8 bit graphics were the pinnacle of home video gaming and at that point in time, BtFF was the most realistic game I'd seen.  Sure it may seem ridiculous now, but at the time, I felt like I was participating in a cinematic adventure.  A terrifying cinematic adventure.

I will be writing an article on the first two Forbidden Forest games soon.  There was a third game that was made.....but it wasn't until 1993 and it was not very widely released......and I never played it.  I've seen a few screenshots and seen a video or two of it, but was not horribly impressed.  The first two games though.......Just thinking about them gives me the ol' nostalgia butterflies.

Following that story is a piece of original fiction entitled The Electrical Storm.  I truly hope that you read the piece and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The Fiction page is in placeholder format right now until I make a proper home for the fiction page with working links.

If you would like to submit a short story, creepypasta, essay or poetry to Midnight Cinephile, send me an email!

Well the sky is warming on the horizon and Venus is chasing Jupiter through the atmosphere....as if they are heralding the sun...that inevitable ball of burning ultra-violet light that sears through my brain on my morning journey to the crypt.   Stay creepy, kids!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In The Dark - The Return of the Horror Anthology

Coming this autumn from David Buchert and Chris St. Croix is an anthology film that has set it's sights firmly on delivering the goods.  R-Rated horror comes back in the form of 4 bite sized nuggets of visceral horror.  In The Dark started life as Night Terrors....a web series that was immediately banned from YouTube and Vimeo for nudity and violence.  Thanks to some help from the fine folks over at Dread Central, The Keeper and The Dummy both had a fantastic web run.

In April of this year, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to help complete the final two stories of the film.  For a donation of $25, you could not only pre-order the DVD, but you also were sent links and passwords to watch the first two stories.  If you are ready this, I truly hope that you are one of the lucky few who took advantage of this.

I'm not going to give away too much of the first two stories here, but I will say that if the second two stories are even half as good as the first two, then In The Dark will be whispered in the same breath as films such as Creepshow and Tales From The Crypt.  This is the return of balls to the wall, gore soaked, full frontal horror anthologies.  Midnight Cinephiles rejoice!

I was able to catch up with the busy filmmakers, who have just returned from the Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville, KY where both The Keeper and The Dummy were nominated for Best Short Film.  The Keeper took home that prize.   Here's what they had to say about the project:

In the Dark started life as a web series called Night Terrors.  Can you tell us a bit about the transition from web series to feature film?

The transition was simply because we couldn't' keep the schedule of making a web series with no money and still maintain the quality we strive for. We talked about the possibility of an anthology film at the beginning of the process because we both love Creepshow. 

Tales From The Darkside was a huge influence on me because of timing. Darkside aired when I first started getting into horror and then Tales From The Crypt aired when I was already obsessed with horror. We love the idea of a creating a horror series and we'd be open to doing it again for sure. 
"The Keeper" is a great take on the mysterious-drifter-in-the-night type of story and hits on some points of redemption and ultimately morality.  What were the influences of this tale?

Thanks. I meant for it to be an old school comic book story. The idea came about because I had just come off directing my first feature, a drama disguised as a thriller with some heavy themes that took a lot out of me and I just really wanted to have fun. I had never been a big horror fanatic, but always loved films like Aliens, Re-animator and The Hidden and when you're friends with David, who has seen and owns everything, ya kinda get the horror bug whether you want to or not. I also wanted to do something with practical effects, have a creature and something that had action. It was a lofty goal as we didn't have any money at all when we started talking about it. But eventually we both got a job producing someone else's movie and took every penny and poured it into our films. Ultimately, no matter what film I'm writing to direct, I always like to have some other layer to it. I didn't set out to make any grand statement about good and evil or heaven and hell, I just wanted to entertain people, but the philosophy behind what the Keeper does and the way the world, and good and evil work in the film came from a real place and sometimes I wish the world worked that way. And with movies, you get to create any world you want. Or at least the world you can afford to create.
The Creature in this episode had kind of a "Ghost of Christmas Future on Acid" feel to it.  What were your thoughts on it while creating?

I always loved the look of Terry Gilliam's Death creatures in Meaning of Life and Baron Munchausen. They are always so beautifully art directed and textured. But they are all thin skeletons at their core and I really wanted a much bulkier, bad ass "Reaper" creature. Something that no matter how big or bad ass you are, no one on earth could kick its ass. Doom was a shitty movie, but the practical creatures were amazing and I kept referencing them for bulk and size. I basically wanted a cross between a Grim Reaper and the biggest wrestler ever. And yes, I always loved the Ghost of Christmas Future from Scrooged, so there's a bit of that in there too. We did it with very, very little money and I attached every shred of fabric to the costume myself by hand in my dining room.
As a slasher fan, "Dummy" was my favorite of the two.  What was the genesis of this episode?

I'm glad you enjoyed it. The genesis? I have no idea why but getting out of the shower one morning I had the image of the last shot in my head and it made me laugh. Since I knew the end of the movie I just wrote it in reverse. It kind of worked like Memento. What do I have to do to get the story to this conclusion? I've always loved/been afraid of inanimate objects with expressions so a ventriloquist doll seemed perfect for my first episode. 
The Dummy's mask was one of the creepiest slasher masks I've seen in a long time.  How did you come up with that specific look?

The film relies on the mask being creepy and it relates to a certain plot point. I knew before I started writing that if I couldn't find the right mask that I wouldn't make the film. I simply researched "ventriloquist masks" and luckily found what I needed. I contacted the creator, wrote up a contract and got the rights to use the mask. I think the fact that some people literally ran away when we premiered the trailer at Full Moon Horror Fest last year proves that this mask was a good decision.
I understand that the third segment is called "To Be Loved" and stars Playboy model Gwendolyn Sweet.  What can you tell us about this story?

Each of the stories in the anthology are totally different and don't tie together so we both can pretty much go anywhere we want. We both love all different genres and sub genres of horror and this gives us a chance to try any one we want. After the full on action/horror of "The Keeper", I decided I wanted my next one to be weirder. Not sure why. It just felt right. I was drawn to this story and it came together quickly. I don't want to give anything away, but it's a very twisted and sexual story, very Cronenberg-esque. It takes place in a nondescript place and time. A combination of past and future. I'm completely changing my shooting style for this one too. I usually favor longer lenses but this one will be all wides. I met Gwen at the Full Moon show in Nashville and we hit it off. She's fearless, gorgeous and up for anything. And in this film, I'm not holding back at all and neither will she. All bets are off. It will still have an underlying method, or reason to its madness, but it will definitely be the wildest thing I've ever done. Lets just say you'll never looked at canned ham the same way again.
What can you tell us about the fourth story in the film?

This could change because I have a few ideas I'm working on but as of right this minute, the fourth story is titled "Dropa". It's sort of a psychological horror film with sci-fi overtones. Chris and I were in the middle of nowhere location scouting for another project and we started talking about a low budget sci-fi movie and by the time we got back to my house we had the basic story. The strange thing is that we were discussing specifics of the script and a particular symbol and when I went to research them I discovered that what we thought we were making up actually exists. It's a little creepy.

How long have you been making films?

I grew up shooting Super 8 films in my backyard when I was a kid. Then I was a musician for a long time and finally in 2003 I did my first short. I haven't looked back.

I got my first VHS camera around '89. I tried to convince my teachers senior year of high school to let me shoot video projects instead of writing assignments. It worked sometimes. The first "real" film I shot was By The Slice:The Pizza Murders. There were FX(blood and stop motion), multiple locations, costumes, stunts and some really bad acting.
Have you always been a horror fan?  

I have no problem being honest and answering no to that question. As a kid I had zero interest in being scared. I was a Sci-Fi/Action guy. When I was really little I used to cover my head when the trailers for horror movies would play. But when I was in a band, everyone used to want to rent horror flicks. Eventually I got into them but I was always partial to the more fun/action ones like Evil Dead 2, Deadly Spawn, Return Of The Living Dead or Aliens. I still don't like to be truly scared. Inside was incredible. Loved it.  But its odd what scares me and what doesn't. Ju-on scared the shit out of everyone I know and it made me laugh so to each their own. In the end, like I said, when one of your best friends has a huge horror collection, you end up watching a lot of horror movies and they grow on you. I've caught up and can hold my own against most horror buffs. Though, I still don't like Exorcism flicks. Can't watch 'em. I don't believe in any of that but it still creeps me out for some reason. 

No. As a kid everything scared me. I had friends on the school bus who had older brothers and sisters that would take them to horror movies. They used to tell me all about them and they would totally freak me out. Around 11 years old I started to watch horror but I was still scared. I remember setting the cable box between stations(and sticking a credit card in the dial) so I could get Cinemax to watch Friday the 13th 3. I kept a trashcan beside me in case I had to throw up. Kids on the school bus have a way of embellishing how violent/bloody a movie is. I got a VCR when I was 13 and it was game on. I rented every horror movie I could get my hands on. I memorized the horror shelves in Action Video and Mr.Video when I was a teen.
What is your favorite horror film?

Tough one. Alien is up there for sure, though some say it's Sci-Fi. Let The Right One In is a masterpiece. Aliens.... Well clearly I can't choose one. Maybe Jaws since I haven't been in the ocean since watching it. That's gotta count for something. Oh shit, The Thing, the original, my vote for best practical effects ever. Ah, screw it. Sorry. Can't pick just one.

The Evil Dead. It basically started everything for me.
What are your long range plans?  Do you want to stay in the genre or are you looking to expand into other genres as well?

To do nothing else but direct and write. I'm a fan of directors like Danny Boyle and Steven Soderbergh. Guys who jump from genre to gene. Not many directors get to do that, but it's something I aspire to. I do a lot of commercials and they are all comedic and it's  really making me want to do a comedy next. Something dark of course. But they're a bitch to cast. And I will definitely do more horror. It's so much damn fun.

I really only want to do horror. I think I have a great sense of humor but I'm not sure that I have a comedy in me. If my career doesn't take off soon I might go to the Valley and make some horror porn parodies. 
What's next after In The Dark?

Hopefully, what we've done with these films will turn some heads and we can do more work. Ultimately, we are writer/directors and that's what we want to wake up every morning and do.

Honestly, I couldn't give you a better answer than Chris. The ability to say "Action!" on a film set paid for by someone else sounds great to me. 
If you had unlimited funds, and access to every director, actor, producer, etc, what would your dream project be?

Unlimited funds? Obviously I'd spend 250 million to make a Lone Ranger movie. But seriously. First I'd rent Jennifer Love Hewitt. Then a month later I'd come back and start a studio and do whatever films I wanted not caring if they made money. I mean, if we didn't have to worry about making a living or money from a film, or how to get the money to make them, how freeing would that be? Pure creative motivation and freedom. And I'd pay everyone well. Make the hours more reasonable (the French got it right). Pay the PAs more. And let other filmmakers I liked make their films. Like Corman did. On the other side, if I had a chance to direct properties owned by others, my dream project would be to direct the Motley Crue movie. No one, and I mean no one is alive that could direct that movie better than me. I lived that shit and they'll get some boob to do it and it'll be all about Tommy's dick and drugs and stupidity. I have a vision for that movie and who knows, maybe the planets will align and I'll get to do it. In the comic book realm I'd kill to do the penultimate Wolverine movie. The last one broke my fucking heart. Either that or Luke Cage: Hero For Hire. And lastly. I'd love to be the one responsible for bringing Andrew Dice Clay back to the movies. Either another Ford Fairlane or a family comedy. Yup. Rated PG13. I'm telling ya. I've put thought into this shit. Watch the end of Casual Sex. He's great.

Wow. How do I follow up Chris' answer? I have a few big budget scripts of my own that I would love to make but my dream project is to direct a Friday the 13th movie. Around '98/'99 my production partner Robert Ziegler and I wrote a Friday the 13th movie titled F13:Hell Freezes Over. It took place in the snow and brought back all of the "final girls". The script is a F13 fan's wet dream.  Each of the girls dies the way they tried to kill Jason in their movie. There are tons of inside jokes and characters that would have thrilled fans. It was actually pitched to Sean Cunningham before Jason X came out and he had really positive things to say but there was no way the film could have been made since so many people and companies owned the rights to the characters in our version. By the way, Jason goes into a wood chipper at the end of our script 10 years before the Friday remake did it. The difference is we liquified him like in Fargo. 
I would also love to make Joust(yes, the video game) and Moon Knight(yes, Moon Knight). 
Random Questions:

It's three in the morning and you can't sleep.  What are you going to watch?

Scrambled cable porn.

Barry Lyndon

What's your favorite movie snack?

Haribo Gummi Bears. Accept no substitutes. 

At the movies, I have to stick with popcorn with tons of layered butter product. At home, I try to snack on something that has meaning in the movie I'm watching. If I'm watching Friday the 13th V I'll eat a chocolate bar because I don't want to be "out of line".
What is your favorite film of all time?

Easy. Star Wars.

The Evil Dead is my favorite film period. If I had to pick something not horror, I would say Jaws and Raiders Of The Lost Ark are runner-ups. Boogie Nights and Billy Madison are also near the top. They all put me in a great mood.


Stephen King once made a comparison of short stories to a quick kiss in the dark.  I rather like that.  I think it sums up nicely how I feel about these short films.  King goes on the describe a full length novel (or film) as a long passionate affair.  After watching The Keeper and The Dummy, and after being able to chat with Mr. Buchert and Mr. St. Croix, I am very much looking forward to seeing what cinematic affair this talented duo will whip up.

Both completed films are currently making the festival circuits with the second two still in production.  Keep it tuned to Midnight Cinephile for all your In The Dark update needs.