Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rondo Awards!!!!!!



Yes, it's that time again!  It's time for the Rondo Awards!

Head on over to www.rondoaward.com and log your votes today!  Poll closes at Midnight, April 7th!

Since we're here, why don't you check out my favorite short film nominee, The Beast From Twenty Zillion Years Ago by Ryan Lengyel.  Ray Harryhausen be proud!



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Childhood Trauma Flashbacks - Part III: We Are Abandoned

The fact that Midnight Cinephile exists is an anomaly.  Honestly and truly it is.  If my childhood were anything to go by, then it's downright shocking that I don't scare myself just looking in the mirror.  I've been doing a little bit of thinking lately and I thought, what the hell, I'll open up a bit to you.  Perhaps this will give you a bit of insight into an odd man who loves horror movies a bit too much.  Maybe you'll identify with me....or maybe you'll laugh at me.  I guess we'll see!

Ever since I can remember I've loved dinosaurs and monsters.  The thought that there were giant monsters that once roamed the very same planet I was standing on blew my mind.  I remember standing in the Boston Museum of Science looking at the fossils and feeling in complete awe of the remains of the terrible lizards that stood before me.  Naturally my love of dinosaurs led me to Godzilla and monster movies, which of course led me down darker paths. I've written about my taboo viewing of A Nightmare on Elm Street with my older sister when I was in kindergarten elsewhere on this site.

In Part II, I told you about how I would look at the box art of horror movies on their little flip cards that hung on a rack at the end of the frozen food aisle at Victory Markets when I was a kid.  This triggered some memories that must have been lying dormant for quite some time.  I had this.....fear....when I was a child.  I don't know exactly what to call it, maybe fear of abandonment, fear of being alone, fear of losing one's loved ones, fear of being lost.....they all sort of combined into this one dark, suffocating fear that I suffered with for a huge part of my childhood.

So, I guess we'll start with the memory triggered by the grocery store.  I remember going grocery shopping with my mother one night.  It was pouring rain out.  I must have been about six or seven.  She was parked quite a ways from the store.  She told me to stay put with the groceries and she was going to go and get the car and pull it up so I wouldn't get soaked.  If I remember this right, I had an ear infection (which I had CONSTANTLY) at the time.  I begged her to let me just go out in the rain with her, but it was cold out....probably September or October....and she didn't want me to be out in the cold rain.  I stood obediently with the groceries and she hurried to the car.  I lost sight of her.  I immediately started to sob.  A woman coming out the door, stopped and asked me what was wrong.  I told her that I was sure my mother just left me at the store.  The woman put her arms around me and hugged me and told me everything was going to be all right.  She started to pull me into the store (I assume to get some help) when my mother pulled up with the car.  Mom asked what was going on and the woman told her that I thought she had left me.  I remember my mother being upset that I had thought she would leave me.  She asked me why I thought that.  I had no logical answer.....it was just an irrational and powerful fear that overcame me.

While we're on the subject of irrational fears, let's talk a bit about the almost paralyzing fear I had that every time my mother or father went anywhere without me, that they wouldn't come back home.  Not necessarily that they were going to skip town and leave.....but I had a horrible feeling that if they left and I wasn't with them that something bad would happen to them.  I wish I could say that this was something that only occurred in single digit ages, but it persisted into my early teens.  While, I had given up insisting that I go with anyone going out anywhere, I still got a horrible pit in my stomach and if they were gone any longer than I thought they should have been, I would go into a full on panic and my mind would race with every worst case scenario.  I wish there was a way to accurately convey the pure terror that I felt in these instances, but to be honest, there are no words.  To be honest, I don't know what happened in my teenage years.  I became quite independent and quite enjoyed it when I got the house to myself.  

I'll end this little confession of fear with quite possibly the most embarrassing.  When I was about four or five, if I wasn't in my house, or could at least see it, I was convinced that I was lost and I'd never see it again.  Now this wasn't being alone, either.  The whole family would be in the car and as soon as we turned the corner of our street and the house went out of view, I would panic and frantically ask my parents if we were lost.  My mother started to point out landmarks everywhere we went to me....so that if I were ever lost, I could always find my way home.  It's funny because when I drive by these places now, I can always remember my mother telling me that if I saw that particular landmark, home wasn't far away.

My mother will still bring up the "are we lost" thing every now and then, because I became quite adventurous in my teenage and adult years and developed a love for travel and exploration.  Nowadays you could blindfold me and drop me in the middle of nowhere and I'd have a blast finding me way back.  No problem. In my early twenties I'd do stuff like drive to New York City and then challenge myself to find my way back without using highways or maps.  I thought it was great.

The greatest childhood fears I had were not boogeymen, monsters or any other Nasty that I might have seen in a film, my biggest fear were much deeper and darker.....more primal.  Perhaps I found solace in horror films.....perhaps they were a way to deal with the constant fear and a cathartic experience.  I haven't really thought about these old fears in a very long time, but it feels good to purge it out in a such an open way.

Thanks for taking that little trip back with me!  Now you know what kinda damaged brain is working under the cool, sexy, exterior of The Midnight Cinephile!

Photon - Lazer Tag Power Rangers!!!


Remember Laser Tag?  If you were around in the 80's, you do.  It was everywhere.  There were whole Laser Tag arenas that were opened up just for the new futuristic sport of the 80's.  Roller rinks devoted whole sections to it as well!  And why not?  It was fun!  What's better than running around in a black light glowing environment while shooting your friends with infra-red light?  If you didn't want one just by watching the toy commercials, then you surely wanted one after watching Tom Hanks run around FAO Schwarz wielding a photon pistol.


Even better, the wonderful folks at DIC Entertainment created a tie in kids show that played like a precursor to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Only cheaper and the acting was even worse......but oh man....that show was the absolute shit when I was a kid!  So sit back and relax cause we're gonna revisit the pilot episode of Photon!  OH yeah and this baby is going to be LOADED with Screen Caps.  This is just too awesome to not share!




Our adventure starts out as Christopher Jarvis (Tommy Jarvis' long lost brother perhaps?  Hhhhmmm) sets out for his match playing Photon with the other kids at the local Photon arena.  When Chris is playing, he takes on the warrior name Bhodi Li (all players take on handles, which I'll get into in a minute!)  Chris is a natural at the sport and is the top player on the Starnites (the name of his team).  Unbeknownst to him, this particular match is being monitored by the Photon Warriors and Photon is actually a test to find the mightiest Photon Warriors in the universe.  Hey....wait.....I know I've heard this schtick before.......


Greetings, Starfighter.......

What?  Who said that?


Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-dan Armada.

Oh yeah....that's it.  The Last Starfighter!  Thank you, odd disembodied voice, for reminding me!   Seems like a bit of a coincidence, doesn't it?   Who knows, maybe Centauri had a few different rackets going.....just in case his arcade game didn't work.

Anyway, I suppose that's neither here nor there.  Bhodi Li is a pretty radical Photon player, coming out on top of all the other players.  We're treated to a lengthy photon match while Kenny Loggin's Footloose plays on the soundtrack!  You can't make this shit up, man.

  The handles they came up with for the players was hilarious.  Check out his Teammates:


Only in the 80's my friends.  The green team's names weren't nearly as awesome:


Suddenly time stops and Bhodi Li is transported to a Space Station where he is greeted by The Photon Warriors and their computer leader MOM (Multiple Operation Matrix).  Let's meet Bhodi Li's new team:






Tivia, Princess of Nivia:
She's a master ninja princess from a planet with no men.  Sounds very Troma, doesn't it?









Parcival:
A human orphan who is a child prodigy and functions as the resident go-to computer guy.  He's also a master inventor....cause you know....nine year olds are awesome like that.








Uncle Pike:
A shapeshifter who's natural state can best be described as a humanoid pile of yellow dog poo.  Pike is also a master magician!  Which I suppose is cool....and goes with the shapshifting thing....but sentient dog poo doing card tricks is just weird.







Leon:
An anthropomorphic lizard with occasionally glowing eyes.  He's kinda the gruff member with a heart of gold type.  He's also got a cool shoulder mounted photon laser!








Lord Beathan:
I saved the absolute best for last!  Lord Beathan is a cyborg wizard rocking a friggin Fu-Manchu mustache!  Oh hell yeah!  He is by far the coolest character in the series and quite honestly, he may be the most incredible character ever created.  Period.








MOM:  This is the sentient computer that leads the Photon Warriors.  It's basically a screen with some swirly colors.  This is the Betty Crocker version of the MOTHER OS used on the Nostromo.





No sooner does Bhodi get mildly acquainted with his new teammates, MOM informs them that the evil forces of The Warlord of Arr are after a Photon Crystal on a nearby planet.  See Photon Crystals are what it's all about.  Both factions are after the crystals for their own purposes.  See if the Photon Warriors get to the Crystal and shoot it, then it spreads life on the planet it's on and the planet will be aligned with good.  If the Warlord's minions get to it, the planet becomes a wasteland and aligns with evil.  This will last one hundred years, which apparently is how long the Crystal will hold a charge from being shot.

The Warlord's minions are all friggin hilarious...with their names coming straight out of the He-Man "name-the-character-after-his-attributes" school of thought.  In this car, basically the baddies name is whatever it resembles with -arr added on the end.  For example, I give you:



The Warlord of Arr:  The head hancho.  Mr. Big.  The Big Enchilada.  Why is it that the head bad guys always seemed to be the least mobile?  Seriously?  Jabba The Hutt.....Horde Prime....this guy.  You'd never see them in direct combat.  Ah well, he's still kinda cool in that 80's way.




Bugarr:  
He's exactly that.  A humanoid bug.  The costume is actually pretty hilarious because the upper arms are clearly rubber and none functional, bouncing ever which way.  I love this guy.  He literally looks like a generic bought-at-the-drugstore knockoff action figure come to life!







Mandarr:  He's a dude.  Actually he's a fallen Photon Warrior who is under mind control.  Look at him.  He's like a demented, cybernetic Frank N. Furter!  Seriously!  Look at that face!  Tell me you can't picture him singing The Time Warp!








Dogarr:  So, I'm guessing that this guy is called Dogarr because they thought he kinda looked like a dog....but I'm gonna level with ya:  I don't see it.  Also, he seems pretty useless. That's him standing next to Mandarr on the left.....





So off our hero's go to the planet's surface to fight the baddies.  Interestingly the bad guys send holographic projections of themselves off to fight so they don't get hurt.  Though their holographic counterparts are able to hit and be hit.  It was pretty much just a way for them to get shot every week and still come back for more.  The battle that takes place on the planet surface between Bhodi Li and Mandarr is nothing less than epic.  We are treated to lo-tech, wonky Photon blasting as we're treated to Phil Collin's Sussudio!(?)!!!  It is a truly trippy experience.  This is something that you could expect every week:  Top 40 hits playing during combat scenes.  Friggin awesome.  Only in the 80's, man.  Naturally, the Photon Warriors defeat The Warlord's minions and Bhodi Li's fate is set as the newest member of The Photon Warriors.

Before each commercial break (and before resuming) you would be treated to one of the The Photon Warriors saying their catch phrase "The Light Shines!"  Sometimes you'd get a Villain saying "Let The Darkness Grow!"  Kinda like how you'd get Autobots or Decepticons on the commercial bumpers for Transformers.

I had a lot of fun going back and watching Photon again for the first time in about 28 years or so.  This is definitely one of those shows that is so damn awful, it borders on genius.  I loved it when I was five and I loved it just as much re-watching it!  To the best of my knowledge, this is not available on DVD or Blu Ray anywhere.  Hell, I don't think there were ever even any commercially released VHS tapes.  I was lucky enough to find this episode on an old VHS tape with a bunch of stuff on it.  Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go and find myself a Lord Beathal action figure....so I'll leave you with some random screen shots that didn't fit in above.  You're welcome.













Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Childhood Trauma Flashbacks Part II: VHS Cover Art

I've done it once, I've done it twice and I'll do it a million more times ad nauseam.   I will proclaim my love of the VHS format and the magic that was our local Mom & Pop video store.  That little slice of heaven, which stood at 179 Main St, in my hometown of Fitchburg, MA, is now nothing but a block of grass that belongs to Fitchburg State College.  Such is life.  The memories, however, will live forever.

I wanted to talk about something that was quite instrumental in my early love affair with horror.  Roaming the aisles of good ol' Video Paradise, I would wander the horror section, soaking in each and every movie box that came into eyesight.  The artwork was at once fascinating and horrifying to me.  I can distinctly remember  several boxes that scared the crap out of me and had my imagination running overtime.


Of course I already spoke about the poster/VHS box art for the original Alien in my piece about why aliens scare the crap out of me.  Goddamn if that doesn't still give me the friggin willies.  That ominous egg...all cracked and leaking glowing green mist......hovering above that horrible waffle knit surface from hell.  The tag line was what really got to me:  In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream.  I wanted to know what was in the damn egg....but at the same time, I knew that terrible knowledge might scare me to death.


Now, as for a while, the video shop was the only place to look at all this wonderful and horrifying artwork.  Then one of the grocery stores started to rent out videos from the Courtesy Desk.  The way it worked was there was a rack on the end-cap of one of the aisles (I wanna say it was the frozen food aisle....dunno why) and there were these flip cards which showed the front and back of the VHS box....they were mini versions.....and they were on a rotating rack.  I have this very distinct memory of flipping through the various cards and coming across the CBS-FOX release of David Cronenberg's The Fly.  Looking back at it, the cover is actually rather Alien-esque.  Instead of a giant egg emitting green glowing mist, we have a telepod emitting a bright white light (and mist of course).  We see a man's arm and a fly's leg emerging from the machine.  This absolutely drove me nuts.  I wanted to know what the monster looked like.  The back cover wasn't too much help.  All I got was a shot of a naked Jeff Goldblum and a shot of Jeff all kinda....melty lookin'.  I sitting in the back seat of the car on the way home.  It was dark and raining out.  I kept seeing the cover in my head....and the picture of the Incredible Melting Goldblum.  I had this feeling of dread and unease that I just couldn't shake and it stayed with me well past bedtime.




There was another cover that I would frequently stare at not only in the grocery store, but also at the video store.  The HBO Canon Video release of The Return of the Living Dead was a masterpiece of trash punk zombie goodness and I was completely enraptured by it.  I wasn't so much scared by this one as morbidly fascinated.  I had seen Night of the Living Dead and I knew that somehow this was connected to it (maybe a friend told me or something...I'm not sure) but I could only imagine how horrifying punk zombies would be.  To a lesser extent, I was also fascinated by by the Lorimar release of The Return of the Living Dead Part II....which had the great evil face in the cloud above the town.  Again, neither of these covers scared me, per se, but what they represented creeped me out and kept me awake at night, wondering if zombie punks were going to come up my street and devour my family.  

There are hundreds of VHS tapes that haunt my memory.....perhaps more will pop up........but when I think of VHS cover art that really affected me as a kid, these were the three (ROTLDptII not really counting) that immediately come to mind.  I hope you enjoyed our little stroll down Big Box & Clam Shell Lane.  We'll see ya'll next time!



Monday, February 25, 2013

Inside The Mind and Films of Jeremiah Kipp

As you already know from my review of The ABC's Of Death, I am a huge fan of anthology films.  If you break that down further, you could say that I am a fan of the short film format.  There is something so satisfying about tales of horror served up as Hors d'oeuvres or single course in a meal.  Now creating a horror film in which you care about the characters inside of 90 minutes or so is hard enough, but to do the same in a fraction of the time is no small feat.

Enter Jeremiah Kipp.  Film maker, producer and freelance journalist for several genre mags including Fangoria and Shock Cinema.  With a very distinctive style, he is surely a force to be reckoned with.  After watching several of his short films (three of which will be reviewed in just a moment) I truly believe it's only a matter of time before he kicks open the Hollywood gates and shows them what's what.  Having already worked with the likes of Larry Fessenden, Tom Savini and Harry Manfredini, he's well on his way to becoming a major name in the genre.




First up, let's take a look at Contact.  An eleven minute journey into the dark and disturbing world of drug abuse.  Contact is beautifully shot in stark black and white, and features an unsettling industrial/acid jazz score, which complements the visuals perfectly.  Almost dialog free, the music really sets the mood.  The film  follows a couple who seek out buy and take an unknown drug.  The sequence in which they take the drug together starts in a disquieting place and ratchets up the fear as it goes into full blown hallucinogenic body horror.  I could not help but think of David Cronenberg when watching the sequence.  The use of light and shadow, courtesy of Cinematographer Dominick Savilli, is absolutely astonishing and recalls early German expressionistic films of the 1920's in it's opening and ending scenes.  A harrowing experience which would make anyone think twice before abusing recreational drugs. 




In his film, titled Crestfallen, we are witness to one woman's darkest hour.  The visuals are again beautiful, with haunting cinematography, again by, Dominick Sivilli and the soundtrack was created than none other than Harry Manfridini!!!!  This film is almost completely a solo performance by Deneen Melody and lasts but six minutes, but it is extremely powerful and I defy you to watch this short and not feel her sorrow and despair.  Technically impressive and emotionally draining, Crestfallen is a masterpiece of poetic cinema.


Lastly, I watched a four minute experimental film simply titled:  Drool.  A sexy, yet oddly disturbing slice of fever dream.  We're back in Black & White territory, which really helps to set the erotic and dangerous atmosphere.  Completely dialog free, Drool lets you interpret the film as you wish.  While there are the obvious connotations to sex, life, death and birth.....I took something sinister away from it as well.  Could it be something lurking deep in my psyche?  Perhaps.  That's what's so great about drool....at least to me...it's like a moving Rorschach test.


I was fortunate enough to be able to take some time to speak with Jeremiah about his films.  Following is our conversation:



Midnight Cinephile:  What got you into film making?

Jeremiah Kipp:  When I was a kid, my grandparents owned a VHS camcorder.  I think they were planning to use it to shoot family picnics and weddings.  But once I got a hold of it, I was making backyard movies every day, calling up all my friends to play zombies or soldiers or cowboys.  At one point, we did an epic three hour long version of Stephen King's THE STAND.  The films are all pretty bad, but made with a lot of heart and gusto.  I was able to cut together a short reel of material to NYU film school and was tremendously happy when they accepted me. It was an exciting time to be in New York, during the independent film heyday, and all of my heroes were making films here at the time.

MC:  Some film makers are looking to break into mainstream Hollywood, while others prefer the independent community.  Which do you prefer?

JK:  I don't make much of a distinction.  Great films can get made through the studio system as well as worthless garbage, and the independent community has heroes and hacks.  I'm turned on by filmmakers who stand by their guns and make good movies, so I'm as much into Steven Spielberg as I am Abel Ferrara.  They're just different animals.  I'm open to making films, and if we only have a small budget I'll do the best with what we have.  If granted a larger, more sizable budget (with more compromises), I would make the decision based on the material, the people I'm working with, and where it sits with my soul.

MC:  Tell us about your work with Glass Eye Pix and Larry Fessenden?

JK:  Working with Larry Fessenden is more along the lines of the Roger Corman model.  Fessenden certainly knows how to stretch a buck.  But what inspires me about him is his support of emerging filmmakers, trusting their sensibility and supporting it into existence.  He's nurturing in a rough and tumble sort of way.  It's fantastic to have seen him give the opportunities to talented guys like James Felix McKenney, Glenn McQuaid, Ti West, Jim Mickle and Graham Reznick, all very diverse and talented directors.  On set, Larry is focused, intent and wants to get it done, while at the same time maintaining a crazy self-deprecating sense of humor.  I SELL THE DEAD, which I assistant directed, was a huge machine, with period locations and wardrobe, zombies, aliens, a working guillotine, numerous extras playing rapscallions and criminals, name actors and a tough indie film crew that was counting their meal penalties and overtime.  It was a baptism of fire for me, and what I learned on that job got applied to everything I've worked on since.  I remain forever grateful to Fessenden and McQuaid for bringing me on board.

MC:  The legendary Tom Savini starred in your film The Sadist.  What was it like working with him?

JK:  When I asked people who knew him from the convention circuit, some described him as aloof and difficult.  But I also contacted directors who had him in their films, and they all said he was positive, energetic, loved playing villains and would go above and beyond the call of duty.  That was the Tom I met on set.  When he arrived on set, he had no idea what to expect. He had his guard up, and if we let him down he would have walked all over us.  Thankfully, my cinematographer Dominick Sivilli and I had assembled some footage from the movie to show him. After watching it, Tom was on board and committed himself 150%.  He even did his own stunts, jumping atop a moving truck during one of the action sequences.  He was loyal and protective of the crew, having been a crew guy himself, and was supportive of me and Dom. But you didn't wonder if Tom liked you or not.  He doesn't just act tough; he is tough.

MC:  You also do quite a bit of freelance writing for various magazines, including Fangoria and Shock Cinema.  Tell us a bit about how you started freelancing for these mags.

JK:  For a few years I dropped out of filmmaking and was a freelance journalist, so I landed those jobs by sending in clips of my writing.  I quickly found myself interviewing wonderful character actors such as Rutger Hauer, M. Emmet Walsh, Tom Noonan, James Remar...and great filmmakers like John Carpenter, Hal Hartley, Michael Almereyda, Bruno Dumont...the list goes on. It felt like an extension of my film school, and I learned a great deal from talking to those seasoned veterans.

MC:  Let's talk about some of your short films.  Contact absolutely blew me away.  It's incredibly dark and powerful.  What was the genesis of the film?

JK:  A few years earlier I had directed a short film called THE POD written by Carl Kelsch, and always wanted to return to that subject matter of drugs, relationships, hallucinations, the fear of being connected to someone else.  There was an image inspired by a painting of Edvard Munch of people kissing, whose faces had fused together, that never made its way into THE POD, and that was going to be the peak moment of CONTACT.  I built backwards from that moment and the story emerged of a young couple experimenting with a drug, bookended by images of the parents waiting for their child to come home.  It was one of my most satisfying filmmaking experiences, making that movie, and it began a series of collaborations with my frequent director of photography Dominick Sivilli, who is a great friend and artist.

MC:  There are elements of the film that are quite Cronenberg-ian (i.e., the mouth flesh tube)......were his films an influence?

JK:  If you're making a film with body horror, you can't escape the legacy of David Cronenberg.  We're drinking from the same surrealistic pool.  The flesh tube was created by a FX artist that I met through Glass Eye Pix named Daniel J. Mazikowski.  This was to be his last job in New York City before departing for the Midwest, where he's been able to continue honing his gory craft. It only goes to show that the independent moviemaking world is not just on the east and west coast.  Maz can work anywhere.

MC:  The soundtrack was quite impressive as well...I enjoyed the industrial meets acid jazz kind of feel. What really kinda surprised me was what appeared to be sound effects from an Atari 2600!  It was surprising, but it completely worked and added an extra trippy layer to the drug scene.  Did you have any input into that, or was that all Tom Burns from Really Horrible Music?

JK:  Working with Tom was a fantastic experience.  It's always good to work with someone where you don't have to explain too much about what you want.  If you have to bend over backwards trying to explain, chances are this isn't the right person to collaborate with.  I knew Tom's work through his sound designs on Alan Rowe Kelly's films, which are quite different than CONTACT. This was an acid jazz 1980s feel with a tough of ERASERHEAD, and from the first discussion Tom and I were finishing each other's sentences.  My time in Tom's studio was pretty magical, and our communication was more through him sharing improvisations with me one after the other, and me saying, "Yeah, good, keep going in that direction!" or "No, that's too much!"  All of the soundscape comes from Tom's remarkable ability and talent.  He's also a perfectionist, and won't quit until he feels like the sound is there.  That's the kind of man you want working with you creatively.

MC:  What equipment did you shoot with?

JK:  That was back in 2009, so we were using the Panasonic HPX.  We've since moved on to using DSLR cameras on the cheaper movies and the RED Epic on the more expensive movies.  Dominick and I are part of a production company with Spanish filmmaker Guillermo Barreira called Codebreaker Productions (http://codebreakerproductions.com/), where we produce indie films with high production value and incorporate our RED camera rentals.  We also rent out the RED camera to filmmakers.  One of the recent directors we've had the chance to work with is Adam Barnick, a super-talented east coast guy who made a cool film called MAINSTREAM a few years back and is now hitting the scene again with some bold new music videos for The Rivulets. One of them is set during the Civil War and is Dreyer-esque. I call it "the slow dread that kills..."

MC:  Crestfallen, much like Contact, makes terrific use of light and shadow.  Can you talk a bit about your decisions to use black & white and color, respectively, for each?

JK:  CONTACT was intended to be pared down to the essential.  We stripped away all constitutive elements of the film: plot, dialogue, character, even color, in an attempt to find our way back to a purely sensory cinematic experience.  Black and white takes us out of our everyday reality, into something Other.  It's also aesthetically beautiful and mysterious.  Some people claim to dream in black and white, though I never have.  But color was essential for CRESTFALLEN, since it is a series of snapshot memories from a life, a flood of thoughts washing over a suicide victim whose life is slipping away.  Dominick Sivilli paints with light, and we were going for something that was non-naturalistic.  Our emotions are huge: love, hate, fear, and the canvas of movies can be as large as those feelings.  We wanted to go for operatic visual choices instead of realism.  And the movie is intended as an affirmation of life, even as this woman is moving towards death; and life for me exists in full color.

MC:  Crestfallen features an incredible score by Harry "Friday the 13th" Manfredini!  How did you get him on board for this short?  What was it like working with him?

JK:  A fellow film director named Patrick Rea had been working with Harry on his short films.  Patrick and I have been emerging on the scene at the same time and follow each other's work. He was kind enough to reach out to Harry on our behalf, and you could tell immediately that this was going to be a good experience for both of us.  Harry was enthusiastic about CRESTFALLEN and felt inspired by the visual storytelling.  We talked on the phone for a long time about the movie, but also about VERTIGO, FROST/NIXON, Mayor Daley from Chicago, a wide variety of subjects.  I think Harry was trying to figure out where our tastes and interests converged.  He understood the film and wrote the score relatively quickly, and we both walked away feeling really good about the work.  We've just started our second collaboration on a new movie called THE DAYS GOD SLEPT, which has a more intricate score and has involved a longer and more detailed working relationship, which makes me happy because we have a good time.  I'm into his work and he's into mine, and he's also wildly enthusiastic about Dominick's cinematography.  Harry calls us The Three Musketeers, and has sworn that if I don't hire him on my next feature he'll track me down and break my legs.

MC:  Deneen Melody was outstanding in this film.  How did she become involved?

JK:  Our writer-producer Russ Penning and I were really excited about Deneen's work in the films of Anthony G. Sumner (LEWIS and 3 SLICES OF LIFE).  We reached out to her, and she responded to the material and was interested in the role.  As it turns out, she based the performance on a friend of hers who committed suicide, so she's coming at it from a very deep and resonant place.  I usually rehearse a lot with the actors before we set foot on set, but this was impossible with Deneen since she's based in Chicago and I'm in New York. He had to suffice with a few long phone conversations and then, whenever there was down time during the shoot, to continue developing her character and her relationship with the actors playing her husband and daughter (Michael Partipilo and Taylor Metzger).  Thankfully, they all knew each other from LEWIS and were friends, and that made all our jobs easier.  I completely agree with you that Deneen is truly wonderful in CRESTFALLEN, and her performance is daring and sincere.  I hope to work with her again someday.

MC:  What was the genesis of this film?

JK:  Russ Penning lived this film.  He went through the experiences that the main character has to endure, and he's writing about the darkest hour of his life.  We changed the gender of the main character as a way of creating some distance, which Russ was open to.  The script was like poetry, it was all about these singular moments in time.  We pared the script down together, honing it into a precise visual assault.  But ultimately the film is an affirmation of life.  It's about the value of our humanity.  That all came from Russ.  He was supportive of us, and generous with allowing us to bring his story to life.  He has a longer version of the script, and I'd love to see him direct it someday.   He has an interest in returning to narrative filmmaking, and I'd welcome the chance to see him tell a bigger version of what is, ultimately, his own story.

MC:  Drool is a strange little film, but I really dug it.  Much like Contact, I felt that it had very strong Croneneberg-ian  tones to it.  Again, was he an influence here?

JK:  We didn't have Cronenberg on the brain when making DROOL, since the roots of this film were more in the world of performance art. To get the actors into character, I had one of them lead the other around the space blindfolded, which helped him connect with the idea of being completely dependent on the woman. I genuinely loved working with Laura Lona and Brian Uhrich, who were unafraid of the material and gave very sensitive, haunting performances. I see what you mean about DROOL being not too far removed from Cronenberg, though, because once again we're making a movie about body horror and addiction, need and desire.

MC:  What was that drool made from?  

JK:  The drool was made from honey, which is safe, non-toxic, and easily washes off.  It looks like something we'd see on an alien or an insect, don't you think?

MC:  Though the film has an odd tone to it, I imagine that it might have been kinda fun to film.  Did the actors have fun in the drool?

JK:  The incredibly brave actors got a little bruised up making the film, but I recall them both laughing about the experience when we wrapped, saying it made them feel like they were very young.  Grown-ups aren't afforded the opportunity to do this.  Neither do civilized people.  It felt great for them to get in touch with something so primal.  In these movies, the characters often go to dark subterranean places, but the actors usually feel exhilarated afterward, as if they've won a marathon and are running high on endorphins.  You want the filmmaking experience to be positive for them, because the material is strange and they're being asked to commit all of themselves.

MC:  In these three shorts, nudity plays an important part.  I don't think that the drug scene would have been nearly as effective if both actors were hanging out in jeans and t-shirts....and likewise, in Crestfallen, her nudity is not there for titillation, but instead shows her absolute vulnerability.  Is that a theme that runs through a lot of your work?

JK:  I don't think of it as a theme, it's more something that's there in the films.  It felt important for CONTACT, CRESTFALLEN and DROOL to not shy away from what is primal, or vulnerable.  I'm glad you used the word, because it's an important distinction.

MC:  The thing I love about experimental films, is that it is truly up to the viewer to decide for themselves what they have just seen.  As interesting as it is to hear viewers interpretations, it's always fascinated me to learn what the piece means to the artist....so....what does drool mean to you?

JK:  We did have something very specific in mind when we shot the film.  Actors cannot play an abstract idea; they have to have concrete intentions and actions.  I've heard it said that filmmakers make the same movie over and over again, just in disguise.  So in that sense, the meaning of CONTACT and CRESTFALLEN is probably not dissimilar to DROOL.  They all feature a female protagonist, they're all in some sense about pushing one's self to the limit, and they are all hallucinations.

MC:  As you may or may not know, I like to throw out a random bonus round of questions that are more or less just for fun and to help us to get to know you as an everyday person.....so here we go!
What is your favorite horror film?

JK:  John Carpenter's THE THING is a genre classic.  I also love THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, DAWN OF THE DEAD and THE FLY.  It depends on the day you ask me.  Today, I vote for Carpenter...

MC:  What is your favorite movie snack?

JK:  I don't have a sweet tooth; I'd rather have a drink.

MC:  What scared you as a kid and what scares you now?

JK:  As a child, I was terrified of nuclear war.  I grew up during the final throes of the cold war, and movies like THE DAY AFTER and THREADS imprinted themselves on my mind.  Nowadays, I have no personal fear of death; but I fear losing the ones I love who are closest to me.

MC:  What's your guilty pleasure?

JK:  I absolutely love car movies like VANISHING POINT, DUEL and MAD MAX, which are not guilty pleasures at all.  However, I do have a guilty love for the original FAST AND THE FURIOUS.  Not the sequels, just the first film.  It's a B-movie on an A-budget, and it ends at exactly the right point.  They finish the race, and then the movie is over without any of the additional bullshit they pad movies out with nowadays.

MC:  If you had unlimited funds and access to unlimited talent (actors, composers, directors, writers, etc...) and had the freedom to use any IP's you wanted,what would your ultimate dream project be?

JK:  Like I said, I'd love to make a car movie that runs on high octane adrenaline.  I feel like it could be a very aggressive movie, but then again the world is a very aggressive place.

MC:  Is there anything else you'd like to tell the readers of Midnight Cinephile?

JK:  I like to keep busy.  I've recently completed a few episodes of Scott W. Perry's Web series IN FEAR OF, and I'm very excited about wrapping up my new short film THE DAYS GOD SLEPT, starring Lauren Fox from Darren Aronofsky's PI.  It's set in an otherworldly strip club and is a "boy meets girl" story where she tells him a story and the whole world of the movie starts to unravel.  The tagline of the movie is, "How much do you really want to know?"  It's a beautifully written script by Joe Fiorillo, and someone said it reminded them of songs by The Smiths.  I'm looking forward to sharing the film with audiences, but in the meantime they can watch the trailer here.
http://kippfilms.com/daysgodslept.html  

As for whatever the next project is, we'll see what emerges.  Let the future come.


A huge thank you to Mr. Kipp for taking some time with me here at Midnight Cinephile.  I'm looking forward to The Days God Slept and his future projects......I'm sure it's only a a matter of time before I see his name on the big screen at a multiplex dishing out some cerebral horrors and breathing some fresh life into our beloved genre.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Childhood Trauma Flashbacks: TV Show Theme Songs

I may have mentioned once or twice in my ramblings that I was not exactly a brave child.  As a matter of fact, I was a downright yellow-bellied-coward.  It was absolutely ridiculous.  You may remember that I recently confessed that I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street at a fairly young and inappropriate age.  You may also recall that I was kept awake after watching the Seven Little Indians episode of The Facts of Life.  Not exactly my proudest moments.  Even worse:  There were certain TV Show theme songs that would send me into a full on panic attack.

Usually, I would save the big one for last, but somehow, it seems only fitting that I start with the mother of all pant load inducing tunes.  If you were around anytime in the 80's then you undoubtedly know it.  Yes, I am of course talking about Unsolved Mysteries.  All I had to hear was the first bar of music and I turned pale, started sweating and just about dove under the coffee table, trembling.  That music meant that in a few seconds, Robert Stack was going to be standing in the middle of a graveyard, or broken down warehouse in the bad section of town at about three in the morning, telling me about people who have vanished without a trace, serial killers who haven't been caught, ghosts and......*GULP* ALIENS!  Awww fuck a duck, not ALIENS!  If you've been around the ol' Midnight Cinephile abode for long, you know how I feel about aliens.

To this day, that soul destroying bit of 80's synth-pop sends a shiver down my spine.  To be perfectly honest, I would still think twice before listening to that music if I was home alone.  My wife would come home to find me huddled in the closet with the cats.  Damn you Robert Stack.....and your trench-coat!





Okay moving right along, we come to another source of childhood terror.  I can remember VERY distinctly the first time I heard Dr. Who's theme song.  Starting with what I always called The Space Scream, it moved quickly into a synthified theremin that if I was to put down into words in an onomatopoeiatic fashion (yes, I know onomatopoeatic isn't a word, but this is my damn space and I'll make up words if I please, thank you very much!) it would be the all to familiar:   Ooooooooo-Eeeeeeeeeeee-Oooooooooo.......Oooooooo-Eeeeeeee-Oooooooooooooooooo..........And you KNOW what I'm talking about!  Usually as soon as I heard The Space Scream, my ass was behind the couch and peaking out with my hands clasped over my ears.  While we're talking Who, I might as well confess that The Daleks scared the shit out of me too.  If you wanna give me a heart attack, sneak up on me while I'm sleeping and blare a recording of a Dalek screaming "EXTERMINATE!!!!!!"




Oooh, those creepy bastards.

More than once, I've mentioned my love of Tales from the Darkside.  The series that was originally conceived by George Romero as a Creepshow TV series!  Anyway, I used to watch it religiously when it was airing on WNDS (The Winds of New England....comin to ya out of Derry, NH).  Being a young pup, I used to think that TV stations made their own shows....so I thought that TftD was made in New Hampshire. As it so happens, my Aunt lived in New Hampshire at the time.  When I'd go to visit her, I would look out the window and wonder if the woods I saw in the intro were nearby.  That thought panicked me.  Perhaps it was the insanely creepy music accompanied by the even creepier narrator informing me that I lived "in the sunlit world of what I believed to be reality".  So I was pretty much convinced that the woods of New Hampshire were a portal to hell.  I'll tell you what, I can't drive up Rte 31 without that intro running through my head....and I still find myself looking out the window, looking for that cropping of birch trees.



Okay, time for me to really embarrass the shit out of myself.  This one isn't an intro....but a commercial bumper.  Not just any commercial bumper though......it was none other that A Current Affair.  That sharp synth chord was like an icy stake going through me.  Why?  Fucked if I know.....I'm guessing it reminded me of Unsolved Mysteries.  It was another case of "Hear that sound?  That means that something bad happened to someone!"  I think they only used it when they were covering murder or disappearance stories and such....


I'm thinking that Childhood Trauma Flashback may become a semi regular series here, so I think here is a good place to stop for now.  Don't worry though, I've got plenty more embarrassing confessions to make about my scaredy cat childhood.  Stay tuned!

The Nude Vampire - Mad Scientist Suicide Cult A Go-Go

The Nude Vampire
1970
Directed by Jean Rollin
Written by Jean Rollin & Serge Moati
Starring 
 Maurice Lemaître, Caroline Cartier & Ly Lestrong.





Tag Lines:
NONE!  Couldn't find any...but if I missed something, let me know!







Alternate Titles:
La vampire nue (The Naked Vampire) France (Original Title)
Alaston vampyyri (The Nude Vampire) Finland
Das Lustschloss der grausamen Vampire (The Pleasure Palace of the Cruel Vampire) Germany
Die nackten Vampire (The Naked Vampires) West Germany
La vampira nuda (The Naked Vampire) Italy

Okay....well, really, it's more like scantily clad....but still....

Some call it Euro-Horror, Some call it Euro-Trash.....the French call it le cinema fantastique.  It's all in how you look at it.  We're in the dreamy, ethereal world of Rollin again and this, his second feature film, can be a bit difficult to get through at times.  It starts off with some truly impressive imagery.  A young woman with a ornate cloth hood/mask over her head is stripped nude and has blood taken by a lab coat clad man in a red cloth hood/mask while a man in a fucked up animal mask stands guard.  The camera zooms into some technicolor chemicals being drained into beakers and we're then watching as a young woman clad in nothing but see through gossamer.  (That's the material, not the Looney Tunes monster that Bugs runs into in the mad scientist's castle.)  She is running through darkened streets, while being stalked by more men in animal masks.  The use of shadow and light here is phenomenal and creates a real feeling of dread.

See, this is why I hate going to the doctor's office.....

This kind of iconic imagery runs rampant through the film

As she is pursued  she runs into our hero, Georges, who takes her hand and tries to help her escape.  They are cornered, however and she is shot by one of the animal guys.  This was odd, I thought.  Clearly these dudes are part of some sort of cult, and they've got these creepy fuckin' masks....so I'm expecting a ceremonial dagger, a sword....hell even a scythe would have been cool.  Nope.  Takes out a pistol and caps her ass.  Georges, goes all Tarzan and climbs up some girders and gets the hell out of dodge.  Being rather curious as to why he was almost killed he follows the masked killers as they carry her to his father's private club.  When he confronts his father about it, dear old Dad tells him to mind his own business.  Thus begins the mystery.  What is going on?  Who was that girl?  Was she the same girl getting blood drawn?

Georges sneaks into the club after cold cocking a guest arriving and stealing his invitation.  Turns out his father is hosting a suicide club and that mysterious girl is a vampire, who they are keeping captive.  The members who (cheerfully?!) kill themselves are used to feed her.  It's a strange and decadent scene.  As Georges delves deeper into the mystery, we discover that his father is keeping the poor vampire captive to run tests on her, trying to figure out the secrets to immortality.  All is not as it seems though as the movie goes from strange to weird to WTF territory pretty quickly.

Hi there, you may remember my hand from the opening credits.....

Trust me when I tell you that you will have NO idea what's coming next. There are those who say that there is next to no plot in this film, but I can't help but wonder if they are truly watching.  Sure, it's got more missing  logic than a can of Swiss Cheese Holes, but I'll be damned if that really matters.  As I said in my review of The Iron Rose, you shouldn't CANNOT watch these films without surrendering yourself to them.  Amusingly, this film maintains it's mystery for most of it's running time, and then in the final minutes, it lays on exposition so thick, you'll need a sturdy butter-knife to spread it.

Double your pleasure, double your fun!
Or not.  Oh who am I kidding..they're wearing SCHOOL GIRL OUTFITS!

This film works for me on multiple levels.  First off, it's Rollin, which means it's dripping with gorgeous cinematography and vibrant textures.  Trippy outfits galore, especially worn by the lovely twins....who sport some odd, abacus like tops that you simply have to see to believe.  Speaking of the twins, they are in my absolute favorite "So bad it's amazing" scene.  Towards the end of the film, bad girl Solange takes them both out with a pretty massive iron torch.  This is so fantastically awful it's hilarious.  First off, she swings the torch SO slowly, it looks more like she was trying out some weird interpretive dance move.  It is PAINFULLY obvious that the torch doesn't connect with either twin....especially since Twin #2 starts to fall before the snail paced torch even gets to her.  Then to put the icing on the cake, we're treated to one of the twins rolling herself down the stairs while screaming.  Okay....well, actually she rolls down partway, stops, turns herself around and then continues to roll again....naturally pushing herself away from the banister on the way down so as not to bonk her noggin.  It's priceless.  I laughed so hard, I cried.

Say....this beach looks awful familiar......any one seen an iron rose around here?

*SPOILER ALERT!  IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM, SKIP TO THE MIDNIGHT CINEPHILE TALLY!!!!!********

I could not help but wonder, as I watched Caroline Cartier portray the Vampire Girl, if Dan O'Bannon had taken inspiration from The Nude Vampire when writing the Lifeforce screenplay.  I just couldn't help but think about Mathilda May, strolling around in all her naked, vampiric glory.  Obviously Caroline was a little covered with her sheer robe and Mathilda left absolutely NOTHING to the imagination, but still....how many other alien vampire chicks had there been before?  Okay...well, there was Queen of Blood....but still.  This sounds like a good excuse to watch Lifeforce again so that I can make a more informed comparison.  Strictly for academic purposes....has nothing to do with Mathilda's......um......anyway.  I'll touch on this again in a future review of Lifeforce, fair enough?



Midnight Cinephile Tally:


Body Count:  It's tough to get an exact count in this one, because as usual, there are implied deaths.  So, we're gonna go with more than one and less than twenty.

Boob Count:  Well, we start out with the lovely hooded girl in the beginning, who I THINK is The Vampire Girl.....who then runs around the rest of the film in her flowing gossamer, constantly giving us just a peek at her.  There's also a model who strips and has some seriously funky metal nails....

Beast Count:  Well, there are vampires, but I really would be hesitant to call them monsters.  I'll put them animal mask wearing freaks in though.....they were fuggin' creepy!


Final Thoughts:
If you are already a Rollin fan, then you will no doubt dig this warped little oddity.  If you are new to his fever dream aesthetics, then you may want to start elsewhere....

Final Rating:
FOUR OUT OF FIVE PIZZA ROLLS!!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The ABC's of Death - Or 26 Ways to Die Violently

The ABC's of Death
2012
Directed by -  26 Different People
Written by 26 Different People
Starring a whole shitload of people!



Taglines:
26 Directors, 26 Ways to Die.
It's Not Educational.



Alternate Titles:
Abeceda Smrti (Alphabet of Death) Bosnia
Herzegovina (States) Serbia


I love anthology films...always have.  There is something so satisfying about the anthology....maybe it's the feeling that you're getting more bang for your buck with multiple stories.....maybe it's the fact that it feels like the film equivalent to an old EC comic book....whatever the case, it's something I just can't resist.

When I first heard about The ABC's of Death, I was a bit skeptical.  Seriously?  Twenty-six different shorts?  The first thing that popped to mind (for some odd reason) as an old VHS tape that I used to have, called Moron Movies.  It was a no budget affair, which consisted on five to thirty second films on varying subjects.  Some were fairly amusing in a "It's three o'clock in the morning and I've had too much to drink" sort of way.  The shorts ranged from stuff like "Jello Makes a Lousy Doorstop" and "Punishing a Camera For Taking Lousy Pictures" to "Hitler in First Grade" and "Ghetto Divorce Court".  It was a grab bag of weirdness.  Actually now that I'm thinking about it.....I kinda wanna watch it again. Anyway, the point is, 26 shorts seemed like and hell of a lot to cram into one feature.


The results are mixed.  Some of the shorts are fantastic.....D is for Dogfight, H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion, Q is for Quack, T is for Toilet and X is for XXL all rank among my favorites.  Then there are some that are truly head-scratchers....F is for Fart is one of the weirdest shorts in the whole series.....of course, it WAS written/directed by Noboru Iguchi, who gave us such whack-tastic films as Machine Girl, Mutant Girls Squad, Dead Sushi and RoboGeisha.  Then there are the bottom of the barrel shorts.  M is for Miscarriage comes to mind immediately.  I was so disappointed when I found out that Ti West wrote and directed that one.  It was just so unimaginative and contrived.  In between are the rest.  Which range from okay to mediocre.


Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the flick and I will buy the blu ray when it comes out.....but there were just some instances where I found myself questioning how some of the shorts made it into the final product.  A little game I liked to play was trying to figure out that word while watching the short.  Some were fairly easy to figure, such as D is for Dogfight and M is for Miscarriage, but some of the others I really hard time trying to decipher.....and some I even had to downright question, such as K is for Klutz....which is an animated short about a woman who runs afoul of her own....er.... excrement.  It really had nothing to do with being clumsy and I spent most of the short figuring that K would stand for Kling On (Cling On......you'll understand when you see it).



Midnight Cinephile Totals:

Body Count:  Well, there are at least 26 deaths in here.  Some shorts feature more than one death.

Boob Count:  There's some nudity to be had here, including my favorite bit with an anthropomorphic burlesque dancer's furry boobs.

Beast Count:  There are plenty of monsters and creatures roaming through the shorts here, my favorite being the monster Toilet in the T is for Toilet short.



Final Thoughts:
Again, the shorts are a bit uneven.  Some are great, some are not.  But that is to be expected in any anthology.  There will always be strong stories and there will always be weak ones.  I think that this will be a great "Party Movie"......and I can think of a million different drinking games that you could play with it.

Final Rating:
Three out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Iron Rose - Getting Stiffies With The Stiffs

The Iron Rose
1973
Directed by Jean Rollin
Written by Jean Rollin, Maurice Lemaître  & Tristan Corbière
Starring Françoise Pascal, Hugues Quester & Natalie Perrey

Tag Lines:

La Plus Etrange des Histoires d'Amour....


Alternate Titles:

La rose de fer (The Iron Rose) France - Original Title
Nuit du cimetière (Night Graveyard) Alternate French Title
Die eiserne Rose (The Iron Rose) Germany
La rosa di ferro (The Iron Rose) Italy
Nuit du cimetière (Night Graveyard) Alternate French Title




After my recent chat with Chris Alexander, I started thinking about Jean Rollin and Jess Franco.  It occurred to me that I hadn't watched any of their films in quite some time.  So thanks to a few old DVD's in my collection and the magic of Netflix, I've been having a bit of a Rollin/Francofest.....and I couldn't be happier.  It's probably been a good ten years since I've really delved into their works and to be honest, I never really watched them with much of a critical eye before.  



Shots like this are par for the course in Rollin's films.....



I want to start with probably my favorite film of Rollin's:  The Iron Rose.  A dark and dreary, yet lyrical and achingly beautiful fever dream set among ancient crypts and tombstones.  The film opens on a beach, where the gorgeous Françoise Pascal finds the titular Iron Rose in the surf.  She picks it up and fondles it for a bit before tossing it back into the ocean.  She then wanders into town and to a wedding reception.  Was she invited?  Does she know these people?  I dunno.  Does it matter?  Nope.  Trust me, it's better not to ask questions.  A man stands and recites a morbid, yet romantic poem and when he meets our girl, admits that he recited the poem in hopes of meeting her.  They agree to take a bike ride together the next day.


C'mon...tell me this doesn' t make your asshole pucker....just a little....

They meet at a train station and play a game of hide and seek or some such flirty game and then set off on their bike ride.  They stop for lunch by an old cemetery and decide to go inside.  Naturally she's a bit apprehensive, but with a little nudge and a prod and she's on board.  The eat and then start to explore, ending up at an open underground crypt....he convinces her to go down and they make love in the crypt.  We're shown some truly bizarre and disturbing imagery, such as a fully dressed up clown placing flowers on a grave.  Meanwhile, unfortunately for them, night falls and the cemetery gates are closed.  When they emerge they are a bit panicked to find that night  has fallen.  They start to try and make their way out, but they become hopelessly lost.  Nothing looks familiar.



Not exactly where you want to spend the night....

So, is it just a case of "everything looks different at night"?  Did they simply go the wrong direction?  Is the cemetery changing itself to keep them inside?  Didn't I tell you to stop asking questions?  Yes, yes I did.  That is the beautiful thing about this film.  It is almost completely up to your interpretation.  After becoming lost and panicked, the couple start to behave erratically.  Especially odd is the physical fight they get into as he starts to chase her around the graveyard and smack her around....but even that is still nothing compared to how creepy things get when she takes a complete one-eighty and starts to refer to the dead as her friends and the living as the dead.....this after lying on a tomb outside and letting out an eerie scream.  From that point on, it's a full on freak out for her.  Again, questions will get you nowhere.  Did she snap and lose her mind?  Maybe.  Seems plausible within the film's universe.....I prefer to think that it was not her anymore.  Whether you want to call it possession or some other form of transmogrification......well that's up to you.....but after she changes, you know that nothing good is going to come.  



"Hey baby...let's do it in the crypt....what's the worst that could happen?"
Maybe we should ask for directions.....

There is so much about this film that I love.  The cinematography....the music.....the feeling.  This film really stayed with me after I watched it.  I sat and I thought about it.  It may not always make complete sense and you will undoubtedly find yourself  bewildered at moments, but if you don't fight it....if you just give yourself over to the film, you will find that it has crept into your heart and your psyche.  Every shot....every scene....they're all essential to the film and there is no waste.  It is eighty-six minutes of haunting beauty.



Gravedancing.......


Midnight Cinephile Tally



Body Count:  Well, it takes place in a cemetery, so there are lots of bodies!  Seriously though, there are no on screen deaths.....and the deaths that do occur are implied.


Boob Count:  We do see a little of Françoise's gorgeous body....but there is no explicit nudity in this one.


Beast Count:  No monsters, ghouls or ghosts appear on screen....but that doesn't mean that there isn't something sinister there in that graveyard.  Again.....all in the eye of the beholder.



Final Thoughts:
The Iron Rose is a masterpiece.  As a matter of fact, many call it Jean Rollin's first true masterpiece.  It's beautiful and challenging......and if you give yourself over to it, I think you'll find that it is a hugely satisfying film.  

Also, I think I fell in love with Françoise Pascal.


Final Rating:

FIVE OUT OF FIVE PIZZA ROLLS!