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

William with Lantern

Caravaggio's 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, 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, 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!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bluray Tuesday: Featuring Psychomania, Nocturnal Animals and Hacksaw Ridge

February 21st 2017

Our favorite day of the week returns! While this is a light week on releases, we have a few new quality releases. Nocturnal Animals is my number one pickup this week. From acting to cinematography, mystery and symbolism drew me in from beginning to end. This is definitely a must watch. The only horror related release this week is from Arrow Video called Psychomania. This is released for the first time on bluray with a new updated scan. Looking forward to checking out in the near future. Billy Bob Thorton returns in the hilarious sequel Bad Santa 2. It's much raunchier than the original with added characters and many funny moments. If you are into 4K Ultra HD Bluray, Bad Santa 2's 4K release will only be available at Best Buy. Hacksaw Ridge has gotten great reviews during its theatrical run and will be hitting shelves today. If you are into steelbook packaging like me, only Target will carry a nicely done steelbook case with different artwork. Closing out this week is, from what I hear, a tear jerker drama, Manchester By The Sea staring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. What will you be picking up this week? Let us know in the comments. Until next week!

Psychomania (1973): Amazon - $18.99

The leader of a notorious motorbike gang, The Living Dead, believes he has found the secret to immortality: all you have to do is commit suicide while firmly believing you will come back. The result: a uniquely bizarre blend of vintage British biker flicks and Dennis Wheatley, from the writers of the equally unusual "Horror Express".

Psychomania (Blu-ray) 

Nocturnal Animals: Amazon - $19.99

An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband's novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

Nocturnal Animals (Blu-ray) 

Hacksaw Ridge: Amazon - $19.99
 4K: Amazon - $26.99

The extraordinary true story of conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss who saved 75 men in Okinawa, during the bloodiest battle of WWII, without firing a single shot. Believing that the war was just but killing was nevertheless wrong, he was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon. As an army medic Doss single-handedly evacuated the wounded near enemy lines - braving enemy fire and putting his own life on the line. He was the first conscientious objector to ever win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Special Features:
  • The Soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge Documentary
  • Veterans Day Greeting with Mel Gibson
  • Deleted Scenes

Hacksaw Ridge (Blu-ray) 

Hacksaw Ridge 4K (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Steelbook: Target - $19.99

Hacksaw Ridge (Blu-ray) 

Bad Santa 2: Amazon - $17.99
4K (ONLY AT BEST BUY): Best Buy - $26.99

Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) teams up with his angry little sidekick, Marcus, to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. Along for the ride is chubby and cheery Thurman Merman, a 250-pound ray of sunshine who brings out Willie's sliver of humanity. Mommy issues arise when the pair are joined by Willie's horror story of a mother, Sunny Soke, who raises the bar for the gang's ambitions, while somehow lowering the standards of criminal behavior.

Special Features:
  • Bad Santa 2 arrives in a new Unrated version available only on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray+Blu-ray skus, which also include the original version of the film and the exclusive bonus feature "That's My Willie," an original animated series. Additional bonus materials featured on Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray and DVD include the featurettes "Thurman Then & Now," and "Just Your Average Red Band Featurette"; "Jingle Balls" – an adult version of the classic holiday song, along with gag reel, alternate opening and ending, deleted scenes and more!

Bad Santa 2 (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Bad Santa 2 4K (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Manchester By The Sea: Amazon - $19.99

Lee Chandler is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother's heart has given out suddenly, and he's been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren't enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.

Manchester by the Sea (Blu-ray) 

 - The Impostor

Monday, February 20, 2017

Screenings in the Bay (Monday to Friday): Get Out, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, A Thousand Cuts: Rare Clips

I don't know about you guys, but I have been extremely excited to watch Get Out, ever since I heard it was being made and heard a rough premise of the plot. And now, with the film's early release just days away, my count down is almost over! This is the week, Get Out is finally being released this Friday, with early screenings starting Thursday. I've had my ticket since last week, and I'm ready!
But there are also some other very noteworthy screenings taking place in the bay area this week. The Lure has been selling out like crazy at the Roxie Theatre! Two separate days now, we've been thwarted from seeing this movie because too many people beat us to it. So learn from our mistakes; get your tickets early and see The Lure before it's gone.

Opening This Week

Get Out (2017)
Early Screenings Thursday 24th (1hr 43min)
Opens Friday 25th 
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.

Terror Tuesday

Tuesday 21st @ 10:15pm (1hr 42min)
Slasher/ Cult Film (Google)
Over ten years after making the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper returns to his deranged family of reclusive cannibals for another round of chainsaw chases and non-stop screaming. Hooper brings a real budget this time (having recently directed Poltergeist for Steven Spielberg) and the talents of veteran make-up artist Tom Savini. This means he can make things bigger, louder, and gorier than ever before; and they are. He also brings a wacky, self-deprecating sense of humor, as if deliberately flaunting Texas Chainsaw Massacre's status as one of the first and still greatest "slasher" movies. The result is an impish take-off on the original film (and contemporary horror movies in general) which elevates its own cliches (buckets of blood and gore, droll dialogue, the screaming female lead) to the level of high camp.

Weird Wednesday

Wednesday 22nd @ 10:15pm (1hr 45min)
Drama/ Indie Film (Google)
Some time after a devastating tornado has leveled their town, a group of eclectic, ennui-stricken teenagers in Xenia, Ohio pass their days by riding their bikes, playing practical jokes, sniffing glue and paying for sex with a friend's sister.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Tuesday 21st @ 9:30pm (1hr 39min)
Wednesday 22nd @ 9:25pm
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.

Lost Highway (1997)
Thursday 23rd @ 9:30pm (2hrs 14min)
Drama/ Horror/ Mystery (Rotten Tomatoes)
Set in a city suspiciously like Los Angeles, both blazingly modern and resolutely retro in look and feel. A jazz musician, tortured by the notion that his wife is having an affair, suddenly finds himself accused of her murder. In a parallel story, a young mechanic is drawn into a web of deceit by a temptress who is cheating on her gangster boyfriend. These two tales are linked by the fact that both women may, in fact, be the same woman. The men are also connected by a mysterious turn of events that calls into question their very identities.

Screening All Week (1hr 32min)
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.

Nippon Nights

Thursday 23rd @ 9:30pm (1hr 29min)
Crime/ Drama (IMDB)
Genre icon Jo Shishido stars in this tense and violent yakuza yarn from genre stalwart and Seijun Suzuki's former assistant, Yasuharu Hasebe (Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701's Grudge Song). Shishido stars as Kuroda, a mob hitman who turns on his employers after being forced to execute his lover.

Special Screening & Book Signing

Thursday 23rd @ 6:30pm (1hr 30min)
A 90 minute program of rarities assembled by motion picture archivist Jeff Joseph, including 1949 footage of Alfred Hitchcock leaving for England to direct Stage Fright (found in a New Jersey attic); two-color Technicolor footage of the Marx Brothers shooting Animal Crackers in 1930; the last surviving film of both Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart for never-completed projects; ultra-rare commercials and PSAs including comedians Mike Nichols & Elaine May explaining why we should file our taxes (recently found in a garage in Inglewood, California); actress Judy Garland’s costume tests for Valley of the Dolls before she dropped out of the film; a charming Bela Lugosi interviewed at home in 1931, the year Dracula was released and more!

Authors Dennis Bartok and Jeff Joseph will be signing copies of their book at 6pm!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Digging Up the Dirt with Kill Dozer and Kevin Sommerfield of Slasher Studios/ Dismembering Christmas

Last Christmas, I received an early present from KillDozer. KillDozer knew of my love for microbudget horror and found a film he thought looked interesting and ordered it. This film turned out to be Dismembering Christmas. The DVD arrived with several extra goodies the biggest bonus being a 11x17 poster of the awesome cover artwork. After screening the indie holiday slasher it became clear to KillDozer that he needed to talk to whomever was behind all this...
-Lord Battle

KillDozer: So tell me a little about yourself and your role in bringing Dismembering Christmas to the screen.

Kevin: Dismembering Christmas started the day the new (still to be made) Friday the 13th remake/reboot/sequel was announced. I said to my writing partner, "Why haven't they ever done a Friday the 13th set during the winter time?" The idea grew from there and eventually became Dismembering Christmas.

KillDozer: Why a holiday horror? Were you making a statement, just having fun, or a little of both?

Kevin: Definitely fun. Horror is a genre that takes itself very seriously. Don't get me wrong, I love a great, serious horror. However, there seems to be a fun aspect that is missing from the genre today. Particularly the slasher genre. We wanted to make it as Christmasy as possibly so we tried to go all out with everything.

KillDozer: The practical effects used for the kills were awesome! Did you design those? Did you ever feel held back by budgetary constraints when working on effects?

Kevin: Thank you! We designed everything in-house. We knew right away that we wanted original weapons as well as deaths that celebrated the season. When I first started writing the script, I had only one rule: every death has to be either winter or Christmas themed. Once we came up with ideas for some creative deaths, we built what we needed from there. As for budget, it's all about being creative. We made our own body casts, designed our own "killer wreath" and made our machete hockey stick. It's all about making the best with what you have to work with.

KillDozer: Was it at all hard to work in the cold climate?

Kevin: It was pretty brutal. The first week of shooting, we didn't have a single day where the high temperature was more than a single digit. I believe our first day of filming it was -22 with the wind chill. We were also filming right on the lake so we had to deal with snow drifts and lots of wind. Also, the roads were terrible! I don't think there was a single day where we didn't have a car get stuck somewhere.

KillDozer: What was casting like? Do you prefer to work with the same talent or hold auditions?

Kevin: Casting is always fun. We try to mix it up. We placed ads on Craigslist and did some Facebook posts to find some local talent. Our director, Austin Bosley, came from California to make the film and he brought some of his fellow cast & crew members on board. Others like Marla Van Lanen (Joan) & Johnathan Krautkramer (Justin), I had worked with before on our first feature, Don't Go to the Reunion.

KillDozer: How long did the film take to complete from start to finish?

Kevin: The shoot lasted for two weeks in January 2015 and we finished the film for final release that September. It was a pretty quick turn around time. So quick, in fact, that we had to rush ship the DVD's so we could have them the day we left for Horrorhound.

KillDozer: The DVD came with an amazing poster. Who did the artwork for the film?

Kevin: We held a Facebook contest and the three artists with the most votes received their artwork featured on the DVD, Blu-Ray, and VHS releases. Tony Hartman created the DVD art, Austin Hinderliter created the Santa skull art for the bluray, and Jeffrey Quick created the cabin the woods art for the VHS. There were so many fantastic pieces submitted. We were really honored and thrilled that people cared so much about the project to submit art.

KillDozer: Slasher Studios has a few titles in its catalog, can you tell us about those and the direction you hope to go in 2017.

Kevin: Irrational Fear is the next project we currently have it store. The script is finished, we've locked our location, and we are currently raising funding via Kickstarter. It's a supernatural slasher centered around a group of therapy patients that are forced to face their irrational fears. The deaths we have planned are INSANE. I think people are really going to like it.

KillDozer: What is funding like on a project like Dismembering Christmas?

Kevin: We raised the majority through Kickstarter thanks to our very generous backers. The rest we raised through promotions and presales. Campaigning is definitely hard work but well worth the time and effort when you are able to produce the film you want to make.

KillDozer: Do you see yourself revisiting the holiday season or any other holiday?

Kevin: I'd love to do an obscure holiday horror. Something like Arbor Day or Black many potentials!

KillDozer: Have you been able to screen the film at any film fests? If so how has the reaction been?

Kevin: We've screened at about a dozen film fests and the reaction has been great. People get the tone right away. It's over-the-top and fun but with a bit of style (thanks to our two wonderful cinematographers).

KillDozer: How can we follow Slasher Studios?

Kevin: You can find us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

KillDozer: Now for some quick fun questions! If you could re-make any film but with a micro budget what would it be?

Kevin: The Burning. All practical effects set on a real location. I'd LOVE to try to recreate that raft scene.

KillDozer: What's more iconic to you, Freddy's glove or Jason's Mask?

Kevin: I'm going with Freddy's glove here. As cool as the mask is, it can't kill!

KillDozer: What Disney movie do you think would work better as a horror film and why?

Kevin: Definitely Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs. Turn it into a slasher and make Snow White a kick ass final girl. You can't lose!

KillDozer: What is your favorite movie collectible that you own?

Kevin: I have a fan art poster that features all of Wes Craven's iconic characters that was signed from Wes. I had it in a binder and took it out, framed it, and hung it above my bed when I heard the news that he passed away. Nightmare on Elm Street & Scream were both my childhood and my teenage years. I wouldn't be a filmmaker without him so now I can look at the poster and smile knowing what an impact he made.

💀 🎄 💀 🎄 💀 🎄 💀

You can get in contact with Slasher Studios and find out about their future projects, as well as get film reviews and other horror related news at their site and  by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mirai Nikki: The First Anime I Ever Hated

Mirai Nikki was the first anime I ever really hated. I remember reading the ending and just getting so so so mad at it. I came away after finishing it feeling angry and frustrated, wishing I had never wasted my time with it. Going back to those memories to write this post is a bit upsetting, but it's too late to watch/read something new and I'm out of other things to talk about so here we are.

Back in the summer of 2013 I was really into watching random anime and I think this one was popular around that time. My young naive self thought "Hey! This looks interesting, why don't I watch it?" Little did I know that watching this might almost make me quit watching anime all together. I was initially interested in Mirai Nikki because it sounded similar to Battle Royale but only in that there are people that are put in a situation where they are forced to kill each other. Writing these posts has made me realize that this is actually a quite common theme in Japan for whatever reason and we can find evidence of that from Battle Royale, Mirai Nikki, Dangan Ronpa, Doubt, BTOOM!, and countless others. It's really weird and I don't know why it's such a thing over there. Anyway, I was bored and I also happened to own the first volume of the manga so I figured I would check it out. 

Mirai Nikki is basically about these people spread throughout Japan that get approached by the god of time, Deus Ex (if I remember correctly) and he asks them to be the next god of time. But there is a catch, they have to compete in a killing game and survive in order to succeed his throne. Everyone has special cellphone diaries that do certain things to potentially give them and advantage in the game and some of them are really cool. Others are really useless. For example, before the game began the main character used to keep a diary on his phone of whatever was happening around him so when the game began he got the "truest" future diary in that every couple of minutes it would tell  him what would happen in the future around him. A lot of the characters are really cool and if I didn't have such bad memories about this I might've gone back and re-watched it to enhance the content of this post, but I don't even feel like it's worth it to google what the actual plot of this waste of time really was. 

I really really hate the stupid pink haired girl. Her name is Gasai Yuno and she's a member of the game whose cellphone diary is the Yukiteru diary which means that like every three minutes or something her phone tells her what's going to happen to the main chracter, Yukiteru because she's so obsessed with him. She is basically known in otaku culture as being the definition of a Yandere, someone who is obsessed with someone to the point of violence. She has killed her own parents, will kill anyone who threatens her insane relationship with Yukiteru, and she would probably kill him too if he didn't want to be with her. For most of the series Yukiteru doesn't want to be with her, she's insane, she forces herself on him, and her only good selling point is that she's willing to do anything to keep him safe. However a bunch of stuff happens and Yukiteru decides, "hey she let me have sex with her, she's not so bad!!" even though that is like the worst decision ever. Basically they team up and he wins the game, becomes the space god, and it's a really stupid ending. My favorite character, Akise gets killed off protecting him and that just brought back a lot of my sadness from Evangelion and how all the white haired anime boys I love always end up dying and by the end none of the characters I liked were alive anymore.

I feel like this post is just me rambling on about how much I dislike this anime and I can't really explain coherently why I don't like it because I watched it four years ago. All I remember is feeling blind rage at its ending, but maybe this weird post might make someone want to watch it. If you also share a seething hatred for this anime, or maybe you really enjoy it, let me know! I did like it pretty much up until the end I think and I know it's actually a pretty well liked anime by most other people so my arguments are sort of an unpopular opinion, but hey, it's almost two in the morning and I just want to go to bed so cut me some slack lol. Hopefully I'll be back next week with a better post!!