Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bruce G Hallenbeck: The Hammer Vampire

This nearly went under my radar if it wasn't for a Tweet from@RondoAwards. Already a possible contender for one of the more interesting bits of genre film literature for 2010, Bruce G Hallenbeck's book THE HAMMER VAMPIRE is scheduled for a release in May. It can be ordered within Europe from the publisher, Denis Meikle's Hemlock Books, or in the US from Midnight Marquee.

The author Bruce G Hallenbeck is known to anyone who ever opened a copy of Little Shoppe of Horrors as one of Hammer Film's most fascinating historians and  reviewers. The book promises "an in-depth look at all the films, both the behind-the-scenes and a more cerebral look at the subject matter. Loaded with many rare photos from all the films and if you've liked Bruce's work in LSoH going back to 1981 - and his upcoming making-of articles on the four Hammer Mummy films - you are going to love this. Will be approx 260 pages. UK price will be 17.95Poundsterling. AND will have an extensive color center section."

As for the cover... yeah, don't care much for it either, but for a Hallenbeck book you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

Definitely something to look forward to.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Frankenstein Created Woman behind-the-scenes shots

Adrian Salmon just alerted me through his Bloody Hell of Brit Horror Group of this wonderful (but silent) clip showing behind-the-scenes, well, scenes of Peter Cushing on the set of Frankenstein Created Woman, reading his manuscripts, getting his hair done, giving Susan Denberg a peck on the cheek, discussing the shots with director Terence Fisher and Thorley Walters etc. A more detailed description of this clip can be read on the Pathe website where this was first posted.

Some more Cushing related clips can be found here.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Rondo Award nominated shorts

Rondo Award time is upon us again. I can't believe a year has already passed again. In recent months the amount of online awards has taken on epic proportions, however, the Rondo IMHO still is the only award to aspire to if you are interested in horror and fantasy. Just being nominated for it it a huge honour, winning one is going to be the equivalent of an Oscar if you are in any shape or form associated with producing or reviewing genre movies.

In past years I may have plugged the occasional article, book or website that I felt was due the Rondo, but I now know too many of the talents involved due to the beauty that is Twitter or Facebook that it simply would not be fair to highlight one over the other.

All I know is that if you are reading this blog, you are the kind of person who needs to vote: So steer over to the Rondo website and cast your vote until April 03.

What I do want to highlight here, though, is the category 9. Best Independent Production (film, documentary or short) as Andrea Ricca has recently contacted me.

He is the director of the Rondo nominated short movie THE GUARDIAN and one of a two-man team of Italian No-Budget film makers with a love for fantasy, a computer, Mini DV camera and some 3-D animation skills. His other films and more background information can be found on his website.

It is amazing what you can come up with with the right attitude and passion for your subject. Personally I'd rather watch these $0 short movies than any number of stratospherically overpriced and overlong Hollywood productions. THE GUARDIAN shows a nod to Ray Harryhausen. His latest oeuvre, THE FURFANGS, is influenced by the whole GREMLINS/CRITTERS style sub-genre. My favourite of his shorts is UFO RACE as it doesn't just nod to his favourites but actually comes up with his own little story.

Looking at these shorts made me wonder what other Rondo nominated short movies are out there that could be featured here. To my surprise there don't seem to be a lot of short movie makers out there as most of the productions in this category are feature length movies or documentaries. The only other short movie on that list is THE INSTITUTE OF SEANCE. Below the trailer. Would love to have shown the entire movie, but you actually need to purchase the 10-minute short for $10 on DVD. If interested drop by their website, but consider me too stingy to shill out that much for so little.

Anyway..... don't forget to do your civic duty and cast your votes if you haven't done so yet.

'Nuff said.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A new kid on the blog

Looks like someone started a new Hammer movie blog:

And based on the first post dedicated to The Secret of Blood Island this won't just be about the usual fare so I definitely wish that blogger all the best and will drop by regularly. And so should you.

And now for something completely different.....

OK, this has nothing remotely to do with the general topics of this blog, but what the heck.

Yesterday I watched The Usual Suspects for the very first time in full. I had previously attempted to see it but switched off after about 20 minutes or so as I couldn't find anything remotely interesting in it. After hearing about the production time and time again over the last couple of years I finally decided to give the movie yet another try to see what this is all about, but – lo and behold – I still don't get it.

Here are some of the points that left me scratching my head. (Though no names will be given, the way how this is discussed will reveal to any but the most braindead who I am talking about. So if you're one of the two people interested in seeing this who hasn't watched it yet, read no further.)
  • Kayzer Soze. The big elephant in the room. What's the deal with him? After all I heard I thought he'd be a quasi-demonic presence throughout the entire picture. The yardstick I would measure this against for me is The Third Man where Harry Lime doesn't even appear until way into the second half, yet his evil presence permeates every minute of the movie from the very start on. Here? Apart from one or two utterances Kayzer Soze doesn't even feature prominently at all until halfway through the film. And even then I never really got anything like a Third Man feel for the character.
  • Who is Kayzer Soze? Well, this hardly was a mystery at all given that from the start we only really had one surviving member of the group. I kept on telling myself that surely this is way too easy and some major surprise may be in store. But, nay, it was indeed the only survivor. Bit of an anti-climax that one, methinks.
  • Chazz Palminteri's character at the end discovers from a look at his notice board that he was fed a whole bunch of lies. It appears that events and characters were invented by looking at coffee cups, mug shots etc. Yet, we as viewers have seen these events taking place in flashbacks! Now there is a well established movie making 101 rule that says that flashbacks need to always tell the truth. They may sometimes show one person's interpretation of the truth (e.g. Kurosawa's Rashomon) but even then we can accept that these were events how the characters saw them. Making up flashback scenes that never happened that way is not clever. At all. It is a major audience cheat and totally disingenious. And completely unworthy of a critically acclaimed picture such as this one. The remake of My Bloody Valentine was mauled over a similar plot device that wasn't anywhere as intrusive as what's in store for this production.
  • The sting. Or should I say stings? If this was meant to be anything like a proper heist movie, then it failed big time. Cause the big movie stings always involve intricate planning and a few surprises up the sleeve. Here we don't have one sting but a series of them, none of them very intricate as all that was required was show up and point a gun, get the loot and be gone.
  • The characters weren't exactly very involving. Can I quote a single line of dialogue a day after seeing the film? Nope. Not a one.

So....... is The Usual Suspects one of the most overrated films of all time?