Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bluray Tuesday: Featuring The Gate, We Are The Flesh & Dr. Strange

February 28th 2017

The last Bluray Tuesday of February arrives! This week there are lots of good releases to add to our collections. From slashers, anthologies, supernatural, foreign and monster horror films, there's something on this list for everyone. Vestron Video releases its 8th collector's series bluray today, The Gate. It's filled with bonus features, a new scan and the first time on bluray. Arrow Video releases new foreign indie horror, We Are The Flesh. Interesting premise but I'm not sure if this one is for everyone. I'm looking to give this one a try. The newest Marvel Studios feature Doctor Strange also hits shelves today. Doctor Strange blew me away in theaters, it's visually beautiful and surprisingly fun. I'm looking forward to seeing him in future Marvel films. Exclusively at Best Buy you can pick up steelbook packaging to match the previous Marvel steelbooks. Scream Factory releases 80's anthology horror film Deadtime Stories. This will be a first time watch for me, I'm a big fan of anthology horror and will be watching this sometime this week. Vinegar Syndrome releases slasher horror Slaughterhouse. I saw this pretty recently, last year or so, and look forward to owning it soon.
The Oscars aired this passed Sunday and everyone is still talking and posting about the mix up with Best Picture of 2016 but Moonlight ultimately won that title. Great film and well deserved. If you haven't seen it you can finally own today as well. So what will you be buying, renting or skipping this week? Let us know in the comments. Until next week!

The Gate (1987) : Amazon - $28.99

Three young children accidentally release a horde of nasty, pint-sized demons from a hole in a suburban backyard. What follows is a classic battle between good and evil as the three kids struggle to overcome a nightmarish hell that is literally taking over the Earth.

Special Features:
  • Audio Commentaries:
    • With Director Tibor Takacs, Writer Michael Nankin, and Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook
    • With Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Craig Reardon, Special Effects Artist Frank Carere, and Matte Photographer Bill Taylor
  • Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composers Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson
  • Featurettes:
    • "The Gate: Unlocked"
    • "Minion Maker"
    • "From Hell It Came"
    • "The Workman Speaks!"
    • "Made in Canada"
    • "From Hell: The Creatures & Demons of The Gate"
    • "The Gatekeepers"
    • "Making of The Gate"
  • Original Teaser Trailer
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery
The Gate (Blu-ray) 

We Are The Flesh: Amazon - $18.99

After wandering a ruined city for years in search of food and shelter, two siblings find their way into one of the last remaining buildings. Inside, they find a man who will make them a dangerous offer to survive the outside world.

We Are the Flesh (Blu-ray) 

Doctor Strange: Best Buy - $22.99
3D: Amazon - $27.99

World-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is changed forever after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he is forced to look for healing, and hope, in an unlikely place – a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. He quickly learns that this is not just a center for healing but also the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying our reality. Before long Strange -- armed with newly acquired magical powers -- is forced to choose whether to return to his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence. Join Strange on his dangerous, mystifying, and totally mind-bending journey.

Special Features:
  • A Strange Transformation – Open your eye to a new dimension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and see how the filmmakers brought one of comic books' greatest characters to life.
  • Strange Company – Find out what it's like for the cast to work on a Marvel film, and how Director Scott Derrickson engineered one of the most ambitious, imaginative films ever.
  • The Fabric of Reality – Take a closer look at the movie's extraordinary sets, meticulously crafted costumes and amazingly detailed production elements.
  • Across Time and Space – Explore the countless hours of dance and fight choreography the actors endured in preparation for their physically demanding roles.
  • The Score-cerer Supreme – Join Composer Michael Giacchino and a full orchestra during live recording sessions, and experience the movie's mind-bending music.
  • Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look – Get an early peek at Marvel's spectacular upcoming films, including Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Team Thor: Part 2 – See more of the hilarious partnership between Thor and his roommate Darryl in this satirical short.
  • Deleted Scenes:
    • Strange Meets Daniel Drumm
    • Kaecilius Searches for Answers
    • The Kamar-Taj Courtyard
    • Making Contact
    • Lost in Kathmandu
  • Gag Reel
  • Audio Commentary by Director Scott Derrickson
Doctor Strange (Blu-ray) 

Doctor Strange 3D (Blu-ray) 

Steelbook: Best Buy - $27.99
Doctor Strange (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

3D Steelbook: Best Buy - $32.99
Doctor Strange (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Deadtime Stories: Amazon - $22.99

A babysitting uncle tells his charges three horror stories--about a killer witch, Little Red Riding Hood and a werewolf, and a story about "Goldi Lox" and the three bears.
Deadtime Stories (Blu-ray) 

Slaughterhouse: Amazon - $38.99

The owner of a slaughterhouse facing foreclosure instructs his obese and mentally disabled son to go on a killing spree against the people who want to buy his property.

Slaughterhouse (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Allied: Amazon - $19.99
4K: Amazon - $25.99

The story of intelligence officer Max Vatan, who in 1942 North Africa encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Reunited in London, their relationship is threatened by the extreme pressures of the war.

Allied (Blu-ray) 

Allied 4K (Blu-ray) 

Moonlight: Amazon - $19.99

A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.

Moonlight (Blu-ray) 

Venom (1981): Amazon - $18.99

A big black mamba snake that has gotten loose in a townhouse slithers through a kidnapping plot in this film. Based on a novel by Alan Scholefield. Dr. Marion Stowe is a toxicologist who has brought the snake to London to study the properties of its deadly venom. It escapes and terrorizes the inhabitants of the townhouse, where an attempted kidnapping is in progress.

Venom (Blu-ray) 

Shut In: Amazon - $19.99

Mary Portman (Naomi Watts) is a widowed child psychologist who lives in isolation in rural Maine. The horrific car accident that killed her husband also left her 18-year-old stepson Stephen (Charlie Heaton) in a bedridden, catatonic state, leaving him completely dependent on her. When one of Portman's young patients vanishes without a trace, she becomes convinced that the boy's (Jacob Tremblay) ghost is now in the house as a dangerous ice storm starts to wreak havoc outside.

Shut In (Blu-ray) 

Officer Downe: Amazon - $14.99

Based on the graphic novel, a police officer who can't be stopped by death returns to the streets time and time again to fight crime.

Officer Downe (Blu-ray) 

   - The Impostor

Monday, February 27, 2017

Screenings in the Bay (Monday to Friday): Switchblade Sisters, Slither, Eraserhead

Hey guys! It's been one of those kind of Mondays, if you know what I mean. I'm sorry for the late post, but at least the wait will be worth it. There are a ton of movies playing all over the city! Everything from The Boxer's Omen, playing this Terror Tuesday, to 7 Faces of Dr. Lao presented by the Super Shangri-La Show, and Eraserhead screening in 35 mm this Friday. Read on for dates and times.

Terror Tuesday

Tuesday 28th @ 10pm (1hr 39min)
Horror (IMDB)
While in Thailand to avenge his brother who was crippled in a fight with a corrupt Thai boxer, a man gets caught up in a web of fate, Buddhism and black magic.

Weird Wednesday

Wednesday 1st @ 10:15pm (1hr 31min)
Thriller/ Indie (Google)
In this low-budget exploitation crime drama, a band of bosomy female gang members engage in violent rivalry with another gang. The film is also known as The Jezebels and Playgirl Gang.

Super Shangri-La Show Presents

Wednesday 1st @ 7:30pm (1hr 43min)
Fantasy/ Mystery/ Western (IMDB)
In this film, Dr. Lao, an enigmatic Chinese medicine-show impresario, brings his travelling show into the frontier town of Abalone, which is chafing under the oppression of land-hungry Clint Stark. Each of the townspeople learn a great many truths about themselves when they attend Dr. Lao's unusual circus.

Double Feature

The Big Sleep (1945)
Wednesday 1st @ 7pm (1hr 56min)
Drama/ Classics/ Suspense (Rotten Tomatoes)
Howard Hawks’ famously incomprehensible film of Raymond Chandler’s first novel has Humphrey Bogart’s Philip Marlowe entangled in both a blackmail scheme and the smoldering dame Lauren Bacall. This chronic hangover of a film is full of corruption, annihilation and effervescent humor. Martha Vickers and a very memorable Dorothy Malone co-star. 


Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
Wednesday 1st @ 9:10pm (1hr 35min)
Classics/ Drama/ Mystery (Rotten Tomatoes)
This remake of the 1944 film, 'Murder, My Sweet,' also based on the Raymond Chandler novel, concerns private eye Philip Marlowe's attempts to locate Velma, a former dancer at a seedy nightclub and the girlfriend of Moose Malloy, a petty criminal just out of prison. Marlowe finds that he is forced to follow a confusing trail of untruths and double crosses.

Double Feature

Delicatessen (1992)
Thursday 2nd @ 7pm (1hr 39min)
Art House/ Dark Comedy/ Drama/ Sci-Fi (Rotten Tomatoes)
A post-apocalyptic future becomes the setting for pitch black humor in this visually intricate French comedy. The action takes place within a single apartment complex, which is owned by the same man that operates the downstairs butcher shop. It's a particularly popular place to live, thanks to the butcher's uncanny ability to find excellent cuts of meat despite the horrible living conditions outside. The newest building superintendent, a former circus clown, thinks he has found an ideal living situation. All that changes, however, when he discovers the true source of the butcher's meat, and that he may be the next main course.


The Tenant (1976)
Thursday 2nd @ 8:55pm (2hrs 6min)
Classics/ Horror/ Suspense (Rotten Tomatoes)
Roman Polanski directs and stars in this story of a timid clerk who rents an apartment where the previous tenant had attempted suicide, and succumbs to mental disintegration as he appropriates the victim’s personality. This unique, bizarrely cast film co-stars Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet and Shelley Winters.

Midnight Madness

Friday 3rd @ 11:55pm (2hrs)
Action/ Anime/ Crime (IMDB)
A terrorist explosion releases a deadly virus on the masses, and it's up the bounty-hunting Bebop crew to catch the cold-blooded culprit.

Slither (2006)
Friday 3rd @ 10:30pm (1hr 36min)
Comedy/ Horror/ Sci-Fi (Rotten Tomatoes)
The sleepy town of Wheelsy could be any small town in America -- somewhat quaint and gentle, peopled with friendly folks who mind their own business. But just beneath the surface charm, something unnamed and evil has arrived...and is growing. No one seems to notice as telephone poles become clogged with missing pet flyers, or when one of the town's richest citizens, Grant, begins to act strangely. But when farmers' livestock turn up horribly mutilated and a young woman goes missing, Sheriff Bill Pardy and his team, aided by Grant's wife Starla, uncover the dark force laying siege to their town...and come face-to-face with an older-than-time organism intent on absorbing and devouring all life on Earth.

Tuesday 28th @ 7pm & 9:15pm (1hr 32min)
Wednesday 1st & Thursday 2nd @ 7pm 
Art House/ Comedy/ Horror/ Musical (Rotten Tomatoes)
In Warsaw, a pair of mermaid sisters are adopted into a cabaret. While one seeks love with humans the other hungers to dine on the human population of the city.

Friday 3rd @ 9:15pm (1hr 29min)
Fantasy/ Horror (IMDB)
This surreal nightmare examines male paranoia. Our hero and title character, Henry, faces a number of horrifying obstacles in meeting someone of the opposite sex, meeting her parents, and procreating. Produced during a one-and-a-half-year period while director David Lynch was a student at the American Film Institute, the film launched him as a major new talent admired by cinephiles and filmmakers all over the world. It stands today as a milestone in personal, independent filmmaking.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Berkeley Blazer Overlooks: The Name of the Rose

Greetings, dear readers. I’ve poured myself a glass of cognac and put on some early hits from that righteous babe Hildegard von Bingen so I could be in proper form and tell you about Jean Jacques Annaud’s 1985 film The Name of the Rose. This German movie -filmed in English, helmed by a Frenchmen, based on an Italian novel, starring the world’s most famous Scotsman and a then-unknown-but-not-for-long young American named Christian Slater- is an overlooked thriller from the director of Quest for Fire and Seven Years in Tibet.

The novel this film is based on is a perennial favorite of mine. It has a reputation of being an international bestseller that nobody finished due to its length, complexity, and historical faithfulness. In five-hundred plus pages, author Umberto Eco (1932-2016) combined rigorous historical detail, cultural in-jokes, and postmodern narrative technique into a medieval murder mystery. Eco’s novel debuted in the 80’s when he was already a well-known scholar and semiotician. At its core, The Name of the Rose is a firsthand account, by a monk named Adso of Melk, of his journey to a dark Italian abbey with his learned and wise master, William of Baskerville. Whole books have been written about “Ill Nome della Rosa” and the novel is too big to try covering here, so I won't talk about it too much, except when relevant to the film. Annaud takes basic plot at the center of the story and turns Eco’s masterpiece into an engaging and darkly atmospheric medieval whodunit that targets some of Eco’s more universal themes and wisely avoids ideas less appropriate to the cinematic medium. Annaud communicates this to readers by opening the title credits with the phrase “A Palimpsest of Umberto Eco’s Novel”.

“....Salvatore seemed to me...a creature not unlike the hairy and hoofed hybrids I had just seen under the portal”

The film opens with our two heroes William (Connery) and Adso (Slater) riding their beasts of burden across a foreboding landscape. The depiction of these dark and godly mountains give us a sense of an infinitely expansive yet barren sublimity. William of Baskerville is of course our Franciscan Sherlock Holmes and Adso his Benedictine Watson, chronicling William’s fantastical, morbid adventure with an older Adso narrating through voice-over. William and Adso are traveling to this unnamed monastery with the purpose of engaging in a debate with other church representatives about the opulence of the church and whether this conflicts with the poverty of Christ. Upon arrival we are introduced to Brother William’s intellectual acumen as he quickly absorbs the details around him. He eventually deduces that murder is afoot and in true Holmesian fashion, he is more guided by intellectual curiosity than the pressing need for everyone else to solve the mystery before the debates begin. William’s search uncovers and is obstructed by the many lies and subterfuges that seem as common as morning prayer. This cast of strange, highly circumspect and mendacious monks are trying to throw him off the trail because of their guilt, (perhaps not the guilt William is particularly interested in).

Annaud and crew really did an admirable job in casting and set design. The sense of historical authenticity conveyed by both exterior and interior shots, coupled with the realization of the almost Boschian-visaged monks Eco describes in the novel are worth the price of admission (in this case $9.99 at Barnes and Nobles). Grotesque stone art of the Christian tradition adorn the vaulted ceilings and obscure nooks of the main church building, and at one point are implicitly compared to one of the abbey’s inhabitants. A scene taken right out of the novel has young Adso alone, entranced by the fantastic visions of hell, and is slowly driven to terror just before he encounters the maligned and deformed face of Salvatore. In addition to appearing as monstrous, Salvatore’s talk is comprised of disjointed phrases from different languages expressed in same sentence. Salvatore is an important character in the film and played by none other than Ron Perlman (Hellboy) with hideous charm, vulgarity, and warmth. Other notables include the portly former heretic Remiggio; the crusty, cataracted, and draconian Jorge of Burgos (yes, he is a blind librarian!); and of course the less visually repulsive but nonetheless most repellent of the lot, William’s nemesis and actual historical figure Bernardo of Gui played by F. Murray Abraham (cf. Milos Forman’s Amadeus). Like the reliefs Adso sees in the chapel, these fascinating faces are encountered in the darkness and are an integral part of a film whose main achievement is its malevolent atmosphere expressed in shadow and fire. Indeed, a contemporary review by Ebert complains the film is “photographed in such murky gloom that sometimes it is hard to be sure exactly what is happening”. The strong negative space/light contrast which were a burden for Ebert are rather pleasing in my eye, as give the film a Carrivagian quality. This isn’t so much an issue on the bluray, though the visual palette of the film is best enjoyed in the dark. While the composition of the film not on the level of a Barry Lyndon, one gets the sense Annaud was trying to achieve an expression of the lighting of the period. This is also a story of fire on both a symbolic and literal level, fire gives warmth and comfort, and more importantly aides the creation of knowledge (monks writing in the scriptorium), the absorption of knowledge (William and Adso read and explore by torchlight), and the destruction of knowledge i.e. fire as both enlightenment and the destruction of enlightenment.

“Adso, do you realize we’re in one of the greatest libraries in all of Christendom?!”

William is a lover of knowledge and wisdom, and in the fourteenth century that means he is a bibliophile, and his bibliophilia cannot be contained. Fortunately the mystery is somehow tied to the library, and William and Adso are led by fate and desire to clandestinely infiltrate the restricted library tower, or aedificium. The aedificium is a massive geometric tower full of books and scrolls, in fact a maze holding heaps of intellectual treasures. Translations of Greek classics from Arabic, bible codices gilded in gold, gems, medical texts, all liberally illustrated with detailed illuminations. This venture into the library tower is one of the most celebrated passages from the book and is one of the film’s greatest triumphs. Annaud’s production designer to Eco’s designs from the book and created an amazing set through and expensive and difficult process that is described in this amazing article. Beyond showcasing some marvelous set design, this scene allows us to experience the euphoria of entering a great library at a time when when knowledge didn’t saturate the world, when systematized information was rare, expensive, and forbidden. One of the main questions posed by The Name asks what kind of behaviors can emerge under the influence of different types of knowledge. Early on in the story William is pitted against the above-mentioned blind librarian Jorge when they first meet in the scriptorium. They debate the virtues of laughter by citing scripture and commentary as intellectuals tended to do at this time (appeal to authority was not yet a logical fallacy, apparently!). Jorge finds laughter to be a corrupting influence, afguing that laughter undermines the somber holiness of the gospels. William argues that laughter is in fact a virtue that comforts and illuminates, citing examples where holy men used laughter against the enemies of Christendom. Much of the film has William seeking after raw truth where suspicion of learned men and their ideas is the cultural rule of thumb, and even William’s allies find his intellect dangerous, even sinful. As William tries to find naturalistic explanations for the murders in the abbey, most of the monks choose to read in them signs of the apocalypse. The investigation is compounded by the fact that many of the men under investigation are former heretics who in many cases not only followed alternate versions of christianity, but conducted direct attacks on church and secular authorities in a de facto class war, and would be punished in horrible ways if anyone of authority discovered their secrets. As the bodies begin to pile up, their hysteria increases. The question of heresy is also part of “the problem of knowledge” theme so integral to the film. William, remember, is at the abbey to discuss the poverty of Christ, and he and his fellow Franciscans believe that the church has become excessively opulent. Anyone who questions official doctrine is in danger of being labeled a heretic. We as viewers encounter so much hostility to William’s curiosity, even the non-bibliophiles are compelled to share in William’s joy when he finally gains access to the library. It’s a remarkable feat for the film to bring those of us in the post-information age to experience the intellectual hunger pangs someone like William might have had for free access to information.

Adso: Do you think that this is a place abandoned by God?

William: Have you ever known a place where God WOULD have felt at home?”

   Indeed, god feels conspicuously absent from this world. Despite the fact that all the characters talk of piety, revelation, apocalypse, and humbleness before the lord, there is nothing that strikes one as evidence of a transcendental presence in this story (except perhaps Adso’s special experience, which I will decline to spoil here). Everything that happens in the story is grounded in human behavior, and we really do get the sense that whoever or whatever god might be, he’s never been to this abbey. This narrative tells the far more interesting story of why humans believe what they believe, what stories they tell, and how both these factors affect their behavior. The historical distance of the middle ages make it easier for us to observe in William’s quest how human narratives both broaden and circumscribe our worldview, a lesson that both William and his brother come to realize in different ways. While the comparison isn’t immediately obvious, this thematic context is comparable first season of True Detective. The two works also share a similar mystery structure, where eureka moments are presented as symptoms of predispositions; both protagonists are prone to miscalculations and precisely because of their intellectual gifts. One imagines that Rustin Cohle and Brother WIlliam would find themselves in mutually good company, even in matters of faith. William is a monk and Cohle a skeptical atheist, but one could imagine them in similar positions if their respective historical periods were reversed. Like Cohle, William looks at the the behavior of his fellow humans with cynicism. He sees the way the church takes advantage of the peasants that work their land and pay a tithe, and the political expedience, love of wealth, and power struggles that motivate the executives of the church and the officers of the inquisition. I must applaud Connery, who takes this skepticism and brilliantly adds a tolerant bemusement in the follies of his fellow man. While Connery’s William does occasionally get righteously angry at the mendacity, hypocrisy, and cruelty before him, more often he remarks on their actions with a silent inner laughter. Unlike Cohle, whose pessimism darkens even further the strange events of that story, William’s character is a candle surrounded by a world shrouded in physical and intellectual darkness.

“Monsters exist because they are part of the divine plan, and in the horrible features of those same monsters the power of the creator is revealed.” 

   The Name is not a horror film, but there are many moments where it feels like one. Images like that of a murdered monk drowned in a cauldron of hot pig's blood or the impression of stone gargoyles coming to life lend an air of supernatural terror to their proceedings, though William is always there to dispel the illusion. The framing and film quality of the movie in some ways recall seventies era Italian genre that our dear Overlook fans will probably appreciate. The only caveat I would put forth to you is that if you plan on reading the book at all, I would do that first. Allow yourself the luxury of creating the world of the abbey in your own head and drink deep of the meditations on philosophy and history Eco guides you though. This experience will also enrich your subsequent experience of the film, as Annaud follows the basic narrative pretty closely. There will be much more meaning attached to certain scenes that will act as a touchstone to the moments that from the book that are not articulated in the film but alluded to.

   In short, The Name of the Rose is an entertaining thriller that has some real historical weight to it as well as a titillating visual style. It feels both familiar and unique, and somehow the inclusion of Connery and Slater amplify its weirdness rather than dampen it. It perhaps doesn’t live up to the ambitions heights of its novelistic namesake but is nonetheless an amicable enough companion to it, as it stands quite well on its own as a macabre mystery. It has the benefit of not being particularly well-known even among fans of the book so for many will feel like a discovery. I invite our dear reader to share their Rose thoughts and experiences in the comment selection below, and to beware of filthy reading habits that could bury you prematurely

-Berkeley Blazer


Umberto Eco
By Bogaerts, Rob / An


William and Adso in the library

David with the Head of Goliath

Rustin Cohle, Brother William

Friday, February 24, 2017

Screenings in the Bay (Friday to Sunday): Get Out, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Dark City

Happy Friday!! This always feels like the longest day of my week, but at least there's a nice weekend at the end of it. And on this particular Friday, I'm very happy to recommend a movie to you all... Get Out, which opens today and which most of the Overlook creatures saw last night during the early screening night, was a huge hit! I hope a lot of you see it today and over the weekend, and let us know what you thought! This is also the second to last weekend that The Lure will be playing at the Roxie Theatre. We were finally able to check that out earlier this week, at another sold out show, and it's also worth a watch. Both screenings this weekend are in the bigger theatre, so if you can make it out to the Mission area, I say do it! And the Castro Theatre is bringing out the big names this weekend; they'll be showing a 1987 flashback double feature of Some Kind of Wonderful, followed by Dream Warriors in 35mm!
Read on for dates and time!

Opening Today

Get Out (2017)
Opens Friday 24th (1hr 43min)
Horror (Rotten Tomatoes)
Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

'87 Flashback Double Feature

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Saturday 25th @ 7:30 (1hr 33min)
Comedy/ Drama/ Romance (Rotten Tomatoes)
When Keith goes out with Amanda, the girl of his dreams, Amanda's ex-boyfriend plans to get back at Keith. Meanwhile, Keith's best friend, tomboy Watts, realizes she has feelings for Keith.


A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Saturday 25th @ 9:20pm (1hr 36min)
Horror (Rotten Tomatoes)
Survivors of undead serial killer Freddy Krueger - who stalks his victims in their dreams - learn to take control of their own dreams in order to fight back.

Midnight Madness

Saturday 25th @11:55pm (1hr 41min)
Cult/ Horror/ Musical/ Sci-fi (Rotten Tomatoes)
A loving couple, a few lost monsters and a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania sing and dance through a campy, sloppy salute to horror movies and sexual liberation. Bring your sense of humor. And some toast.

New Parkway Theatre

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Friday 24th @ 8:25pm (1hr 39min)
Saturday 25th @ 10:30pm
Art House/ Horror (Rotten Tomatoes)
It's just another night at the morgue for a father (Brian Cox) and son (Emile Hirsch) team of coroners, until an unidentified, highly unusual corpse comes in. Discovered buried in the basement of the home of a brutally murdered family, the young Jane Doe-eerily well preserved and with no visible signs of trauma-is shrouded in mystery. As they work into the night to piece together the cause of her death, the two men begin to uncover the disturbing secrets of her life. Soon, a series of terrifying events make it clear: this Jane Doe may not be dead. The latest from Trollhunter director Andre Ovredal is a scarily unpredictable, supernatural shocker that never lets up.

Videodrome (1983)
Saturday 25th @ 10pm (1hr 29min)
Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller (IMDB)
A sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a very unusual fashion when he acquires a new kind of programming for his station.

Friday 24th @ 9:45pm (1hr 32min)
Saturday 25th @ 5pm 
Art House/ Comedy/ Horror/ Musical (Rotten Tomatoes)
In Warsaw, a pair of mermaid sisters are adopted into a cabaret. While one seeks love with humans the other hungers to dine on the human population of the city.

Staff Pick

Saturday 25th @ 9:15pm (1hr 51min)
Horror/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi (Rotten Tomatoes)
A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember, in a nightmarish world with no sun.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Be My Cat: A Film for Anne

of 9 viewers "Liked?" "Be My Cat: A Film for Anne" (2016, Romania)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

The Berkeley Blazer - "This movie feels wrong and is uncomfortable to watch, and it’s obvious the filmmakers set out to do this. Be My Cat is a Romanian found footage film about a delusional man who is making a movie for Anne Hathaway which somehow (of course?) means he going to murder young beautiful women. There is merit and good work here, and yet I can’t help but wonder why so many films eventually lead to young beautiful women being tortured to death. It’s not particularly graphic in this film, but it’s disturbingly realistic and the actresses do an amazing job at conveying agony and desperation, but for most of the movie I was asking myself, “Why am I watching this, what do I get from seeing this unfold?” And yet I cannot deny this film has some bravura performances and brilliant moments, especially in the final confrontation. Horror fans should go ahead and take the plunge, but your average viewer is probably better off without this genuinely disturbing but ultimately empty experience." - 3 Stars

Dabbles - "Cringe worthy from beginning to end. I like found footage but this was a bit too much. I also like Anne Hathaway but damn. Not my cup of tea." - 3 Stars

Trash - "I had to sit with Be My Cat on my mind for a few days before it really clicked, I was actually upset by it, and when that died down, I realized how impressed I was. It's too long, and a lean 70 minute cut of this movie would make for a brutal found footage treasure. Forget the explanation on the top, it would have benefited from just starting, no titles, no background. This is something you found, someone’s video diary that you shouldn't be seeing. The clumsiness makes it feel too authentic, and at one point I started questioning if the guy playing the filmmaker playing a character in his own film is not really playing a character at all. Nah dude, be your own cat. You're the creepiest person I've ever seen." - 3.5 Stars

Math Mage - "Entertaining premise, compelling execution but I was bored for most of it. Also this seems like a lot of work. Why not just mail her a bomb or assassinate Ronald Reagan like a sensible stalker." - 3 Stars

Speed Demon - "Seemed interesting but then became uninteresting fast. The dialogue really killed the real feel you get from found footage due to them repeating themselves over and over again. As if they were trying too hard but failed, to the point where it's like, get on with it already, we heard you say that three times. I find this film hard to watch and a waste of time." - 2 Stars

Lord Battle - "Easily the best cast in any found footage movie I've seen but don't expect a film that feels like an authentic LiveLeaks video to win an Oscar or anything. In fact, I should make this clear: Be My Cat is not for casual found footage fans. The film isn't particularly gory or gruesome but the high level execution (mainly the ladies's performances!) of something that so awful that feels so real is brutal. Be My Cat is a true found footage treasure." - 4.5 Stars

KillDozer - "With a budget of $10,000 and a dream, Adrian Tofei manages to pull off something rarely seen in the found footage realm of horror; real creepiness and an unsettling believable character. With that being said and giving credit where credit is due, the film is not without flaws. The pacing feels off with long overdrawn scenes and a repetition that makes you want to shout MOVE ON WE GET IT! The acting is solid especially from the director Adrian Tofei, who stars in the film and is so realistic that I would have anxiety meeting him in person. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending but oddly enough thought the torture scenes ran way too long and weakened the entertaining appeal of the main character. All in all it was worth the watch and I look forward to Tofei's next film "We Put the World to Sleep"." - 3 Stars (not collection worthy, you can get the effect of the film by watching half and turning it off but I have a bias against found footage films)

Huntress - "As far as found footage is concerned, Be My Cat pays immaculate attention to the rules. The film is 80% one guy with a camera in his hand and we’re seeing most of it in real time.In terms of a re-watchable and enjoyable movie, it's not as perfect, but even that makes it better as found footage. Be My Cat doesn’t waste time; when the camera starts rolling, the story starts spinning. Then again, Be My Cat simultaneously manages to spend too much time on a lot of scenes. I won’t call them a waste, because a full week later, I’m still questioning how much of that character was real..." - 3.5 Stars

The Great Hornito - "Be My Cat really feels like an actual crime video that the police found. I felt like I shouldn't be watching it. Really good writing and very creepy." - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Seasoned vets, aspiring actors, small town locals, and more than a few actual directors have all appeared in front of the camera in found footage films in an attempt to capture performances that are both good and authentic. For some, the obvious solution would be to just hire a professional but this often produces a very scripted  or "forced" performance. The other side of the coin isn't exactly the answer either, as non-actors definitely add a level of authenticity but often act oddly in front of the electric eye, producing awkward or lackluster performances.
Director/Writer/Star of Be My Cat: A Film for Anne, Adrian Tofei may have found the right spell components to summon some found footage magic, as he combines method acting, aspiring amateur actors, and a no-script approach to create a truly haunting film. Below is just one answer from an interview Adrian Tofei did with The Blood-Shed.com, and I highly recommend reading the whole interaction but I also understand TLDR, so I took the part pertaining to this wrap-up.
John LepperCan you describe what it was like to film this movie using your method? What type of preparation went into it?

Adrian Tofei - In 2013 I moved from Bucharest, Romania’s capital, to my home town of Radauti, with my mother, and began to live in character and experience some of the circumstances that surround this character’s life. He lives with his mother in a small Romanian town, raises money through an Indiegogo campaign, buys a video camera, makes an online casting call and selects the actresses by their pictures and videos, rents a pension and waits for the actresses to come. I also raised a part of the production budget through Indiegogo campaigns, selected the real actresses only by the pictures and videos they sent online, rented a pension and met the actresses for the first time at the filming location.

The movie’s script had only plot points that needed to be respected, with no lines, which needed to be improvised, because that’s real life: you never know what the other person will say or what you will say of what will happen until the exact moment when the words are being said and the events are happening.

All our words and actions in real life are the result of our goals, of our efforts to achieve our goals. We can achieve our goals only by interacting with other people, by changing something in the people with whom we interact in order to achieve our goals. But we are not aware of the other’s goals, so, when they have a goal towards us that is incompatible with our goal towards them, conflict arises! So, months before they came to the filming location, I spoke with the actresses by email and on the phone and instruct them to select goals for their characters (the actresses that they are about to play in the movie), goals towards my character (the guy who pretends to be film director in the movie). I gave them a list of goals, but told them to select whichever they want, but keep the choice secret, only for themselves. I didn’t want to know their exact goals because that way genuine conflict could not be born during filming (conflict in character, between the director that I was playing and the actresses that they were playing, not between me and the real actresses).

The actresses also didn’t know much about what was about to happen at the shooting and also they knew very little about the movie’s plot. This was because I wanted to capture on camera their authentic reactions to new, surprising elements. No matter how great actor you are, I’s impossible to perfectly recreate an authentic reaction to something that should be new to your character, but it is not new to you as an actor because you read about it in the script or rehearsed it. That’s why the actresses didn’t knew a lot of plot elements, didn’t knew what I was about to say or do in character, and I also didn’t knew what they were about to say or do in character. But this wasn’t random improvisation! Their performances were directed by the goals they previously selected from my list and the plot’s key points! We also didn’t rehearse the scenes and didn’t take double shots, because the second ones would have never been authentic, the reactions would have never been authentic as in the first ones. We just shot a lot of footage and then I selected the best of it!

In order to clearly differentiate the fictional relation between the guy I was playing and the actresses they were playing and the real relation between me and the real actresses, I implemented this rule: whenever it’s the real me giving them instructions we speak Romanian, and when I switch to English then that’s the sign that it’s my character giving instructions to the actresses they are playing. The Romanian-English switch was the out-of-character versus in-character relation switch.

An this method of work reworded us big time! Because we actually went in character through authentic transformations during filming, we had real revelations in character! Two of them are the ones that my character has near the end of the movie; one of them was not scripted at all, it was just the result of creating the right circumstances for such a thing to happen! I needed almost a month after the shooting to wash those experiences from my soul.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a residence for a screening on  2/9/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Overlook Hour Guest Profile: Kevin Sommerfield of Slasher Studios

This week the Overlook Hour hosts spend some time talking to a huge horror and slasher fan... Kevin Sommerfield, head of SlasherStudios.com, co-writer of Dismembering Christmas, and slasher fan since he was old enough to rent movies joins the show to talk about some of the features eh has under his belt, indie film making, and the company's upcoming feature.

Before Dismembering Christmas, Slasher Studios released Don't Go To The Reunion, which you can watch the trailer for below. But before either of those, or any other projects there was... 

... Teddy. The short film that started it all.

In this episode, the guys talk about what makes a slasher a slasher, and Lord Battle argues with KillDozer about what qualifies, putting Kevin in the middle of the debate. And if you missed our first interview with Kevin, you can still check it out here.

You can get in contact and find updates about Slasher Studios by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also check out more of their trailers on YouTube.

And now, on to Episode 27!