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HOUSE is a bad trip caught on film

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The 70′s…yeah, what else needs to be said? A decade filled with outstanding art, music, cinema and most importantly Horror. The Exorcist, Halloween, The Omen and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre carved an indelible mark into the psyche of the youngin’s brave enough to watch and some adults too. But during this Renaissance there was something far more sinister and down right trippy occurring in other parts of the world. A film, equally as dynamic and perhaps a little insane, nobuhiko-obayashi-vagabond-of-timewas destroying the screens in Japan and disturbing a lot of young minds.

House directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi and produced by TOHO, is a simple story about a girl and her friends, who visit’s her ailing aunt in the remote countryside of Japan, only to discover her aunt is a witch that allows her home to devour the girls one by one.

Seems simple enough, until you watch it.

The film’s pace and look is spastic and often times incoherent, but it makes for some good viewing…you will not be bored. Nobuhiko Obayashi incorporates techniques that were used by famous directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski. Fake skies, A B rolls, confusing soundtracks and crazy edits, gets served up every second in this film. House_115.psdKind of like  a cartoon, all the character’s are larger than life, with names that are as silly as some of the scenes. The lead girl’s name is Gorgeous  (the pretty one), which is probably just a translation issue. She’s followed by Prof (the smart one), Kung Fu (the bad ass), Mac (The fat one, but she isn’t fat at all), Melody (the piano player), Fantasy (Whatever) and Sweet (….). These seemingly naive girls, accompany Gorgeous to her aunts house for a summer getaway, but things get crazy when Mac suddenly disappears. How we find out what happened to Mac is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on film. One of the girls goes looking for her and decides to check the well…she begins pulling the rope expecting to see a watermelon, they had tethered to it earlier to keep it cool, since the house lacks a fridge, she instead finds Mac’s “still moving head”. The head, now an eerie blue color and clearly green screened, flies out of the girls hand and bites her on the ass. From that moment on, I knew I must watch this whole film. Thinking that that might be it for the “craziness”, I was met with an onslaught of images throughout the film that had me thinking that if I was on acid while watching this, this wouldn’t be good, but I was able to distance myself from the “not so disturbing as much as it was psychotic” story.

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Half way through the film it became a test of endurance. My mind struggled to figure out what was Nobuhiko Obayashi inspiration for some of these scenes. What did they mean? Were they metaphors or was he just trying to be as crazy as possible? If I had read this script, I probably would’ve ran from it, given the confusing pace. But for all my misgivings, it’s a thought out picture and although Obayashi never used a storyboard and there was apart of me that thought he could be making this shit up as he went along, it was perfect in it’s execution, but not everybody shared the same sentiment about Nobuhiko Obayashi vision including Obayashi.

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(via. Wiki)

Obayashi described the attitude on the set as very upbeat as he often skipped, sang and played quiz games with the younger actresses on the set. Despite having fun on the set, members of the Toho crew felt the film was nonsense.Obayashi found the acting of the seven girls to be poor while trying to direct them verbally. He began playing the film’s soundtrack on set, which changed the way the girls were acting in the film as they got into the spirit of the music.

In the end, the rawness and amateur nature of the film works to it’s benefit. You use what you have to create magic, and Obayashi used his skills in commercials to litter this film with intentionally cheesy effects to give the horror a child-like feel. Whether inspired or completely original, there’s no denying HOUSE’S creativity and ability to engage and to think we may not have ever seen it unless Janus Films decided to buy the rights to the film and redistribute it in 2010. Since then, HOUSE is popular amongst a whole new audience of crazies looking for a something from the heart.

(Via. Criterion.com)

How did Janus Films begin the process of bringing House to U.S. theaters for the first time?

House was originally brought into the Janus library as a possible Eclipse title, when Eclipse was conceived of as a possible subsidiary label for cult films. That changed, of course, and the film remained in limbo until we began to get a few screening requests from genre-savvy venues. It can be tough to convince theaters to book a repertory title that doesnt have an established critical reputation, so we hadnt originally thought of House as a theatrical release. It has developed a fair-size reputation on the gray market, where its been a staple for some time, but its such a blast to see with an audience that we did a small digital microtour in order to spread word of mouth. These screenings were successful beyond our expectations; we had two raucous, sold-out shows at the New York Asian Film Festival, and the film seems to have developed a cult-within-a-cult in every city it’s played.

You can purchase house now on DVD or Blu-Ray  through the Criterion Collection

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Lost ending to cult 1974 science fiction film Phase IV has been found

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The film that led the way for movies like Beyond The Black Rainbow, has just been given new life with the recent discovery of a new ending. Phase IV starring Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy and Lynn Frederick and directed by Saul Bass was a monumental feat in film making for the time. Phase IV used elements from directors like Alejandro Jordorowsky, George Lucas and Alfred Hitchcock to create a very unsettling look at an alien invasion, but from a species all too common to humankind…the ant.

The Paramount produced film was dissed by most movie critics and was quickly placed in the eco-horror jar and pretty much ended director/graphic designer Saul Bass’s creator before it got started. Flash forward thirty nine years and Phase IV has become a cult favorite due in part to shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000, that although made fun of the film, breathed new life into it in a strange sorta way urging those not satisfied with it’s bastardizing to pursue this gem.

Original synopsis:

Due to some unknown cosmic event, listed in “phases”, ants have undergone rapid evolution and developed a hive mind. A scientific team begins investigating strange towers and geometrically perfect designs that ants have started building in the desert. The local human population flees the strangely acting ants. James Lesko (Murphy) and Ernest Hubbs (Davenport) set up a computerized lab in a sealed dome located in an area of significant ant activity in Arizona. The ant colony and the scientific team, along with a holdout rural family, make war against each other, with the ants being the more effective aggressors. The narrative uses the scientific team as the main protagonists, but there are also ant protagonists going about their duties in the colony. The ants immunize themselves to the humans’ chemical weapons and soon infiltrate their lab. Teams of ants penetrate the computers of the lab and short them out. Kendra Eldrige, a young woman who had taken refuge with the scientists, abandons the lab.

Hubbs and Lesko begin to have different plans for dealing with the ants. While Lesko thinks he can communicate with the ants using messages written in mathematics, Hubbs plans to wipe out a hill he believes to be the ants’ central hive. Delirious from an ant bite, Hubbs can barely get his boots on, but is determined to attack the hive and kill the ant queen. Instead, Hubbs literally falls into trap – a deep ditch that soon fills with ants that consume him. Helpless to save Hubbs, and concluding that the ants will soon move into desert areas where their growth will exceed man’s ability to control them, Lesko chooses to follow Hubb’s plan. He sets out to the hive with a canister of poison. Descending into the hive, Lesko hunts for the queen but instead finds Kendra. In the film’s cryptic finale, the two embrace. Lesko realizes that far from destroying the human race, the ants’ plan is to change them, making them a part of the ants’ world.

The Cinefamily of Los Angeles has come across the original ending that was intended for the original cut of Phase IV and will be showing from April 26-28 @ 9:30pm pacific time.

Description of ending is as follows:

“Starting with the same shots as in the theatrical version, Michael Murphy’s character James descends into the ants’ hive expecting to blow it up, ending the war with humankind’s insect adversaries. Instead, he enters a room where Kendra (Lynne Fredrick), the girl he and his partner rescued from insecticide poisoning earlier in the film, is lying in a pool of sand. She rises and approaches him, as he realizes that the ants want to join – or merge – with humanity, prompting a new evolutionary development in both species. James and Kendra find themselves running through a gauntlet of geometric structures, eventually ending up in a maze where they are tested and observed in the same way that mankind tested the insects.

In a dizzying and often disturbing montage of imagery, James and Kendra become an embodiment of all mankind as a new species is created. Emerging from their transformation, the pair gazes out onto a sunset-stained landscape, realizing that humanity has reached a new level in its evolution: “Phase IV.”"

This film is filled with iconic images, images that have been stolen by those smart enough to do it. Especially in this age of rehash and throwback. A film like this is an American treasure and deserves to be right there among such classic science fiction films  as Planet of the Apes or 2001: A Space Odyssey.

THE CINEFAMILY OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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The Bay on dvd promises, but doesn’t deliver

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Can these Paranormal Activity guys do anything else? Apparently not, there must be an element of laziness that goes into shooting a film like this. There’s a shit ton of scenes, actors and special effects and although this was one of those found footage horrors, shouldn’t there be at least one protagonist? This film felt, to me, like they had an idea going into it and knew what they kind of wanted to happen, but in the end, it felt like a student film with mediocre effects.

A seaside Chesapeake Bay town nestled on Maryland’s Eastern Shore thrives on water. When two researchers find a staggering level of toxicity in the water, they attempt to alert the mayor, but he refuses to create a panic. As a result, a deadly plague is unleashed, turning humans into hosts for a deadly, mutant breed of the parasite Cymothoa exigua.

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What killed this film for me was the reporter played by Kether Donohue, this poor girl had nothing to work with, when it cameThe_Bay to the plot. First off, she’s supposed to be this reporter on the run, with footage in her possession, that could blow the lid off  The Bay controversy. The film starts with her , months after the event, giving this exclusive interview via Skype or something to some unknown group, of which we never find out who. The purpose is to show “them” this highly classified footage, but then it get’s worse. You think  that if this is supposed to be stolen footage from the reporter whose been on the run, that the footage provided would be raw, not the case in The Bay. It goes from this interview to her footage on the day of the outbreak, complete with voice over dubbing and graphics that have clearly been done in some post production facility. She shows these “unknown interviewer’s” tons of video from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), police patrol cars, inside hospitals, personal digital cameras, cell phones and traffic lights…how she got it is beyond me and how she edited this stuff perfectly is even further beyond me. She never explains how she got the footage either and because the writer establishes, in the beginning, that all the footage is what she’s recovered, my belief was compromised from the get go. Were talking a perfectly edited documentary folks.

The film drags on in a vague attempt to create some character development, but it’s too late.The Mayor, the sheriff, the crazy ol coot basically “Mayberry” reaches no further than the surface. Everyone has their quote unquote moment, but it all falls flat.

Real quick, before I forget, there’s this doctor in the film. He is resident physician at the hospital in The Bay and is in communication with the uber-inept CDC throughout the whole film. From the start, he’s in constant contact with the infected as they start rolling in, but somehow this guy lives, until everyone else in his hospital is dead, then he dies? It’s laughable really.

the-bay-clipThis whole thing started because a Biblical amount of fish died along the bay, an event that would have easily caught the attention of not only folks living in that area, but the surrounding areas, however this event is so isolated you almost think it’s happening on an island. You never hear of people trying to leave or the National Guard being called in. Did this town not have cell phones or internet? It did, as a matter of fact, characters in the film are seen uploading images of their symptoms via youtube and still no hazmat suits arrive? Then you have the annoying scientists who had supposedly figured all this shit out, but died in the process. Their research footage is pretty hilarious. It’s a couple, a man and a woman. The woman is French and the man is American. We watch as they dissect fish left and right and show us random images on some sort of device that we are supposed to already know means, the bay is fucked, but for some reason these scientist don’t know shit. They say things that you or I could’ve figured out and despite how desperate the situation becomes the guys focus is not on this Earth shattering news about these prehistoric parasites, but that his partner’s accent is too strong for the camera or that the lighting is wrong. This guy is pulling an Alfred Hitchcock during a potential contagion.

I could keep going, but hopefully you guys understand what I mean with the little I’ve given you. I wanted this film to work, but how long can we keep this whole found footage thing going and if we intend to, why not make it fresh. That would’ve started by getting rid of the reporter, there was nothing she said that added weight to this situation. In the end, all her bullshit exposition would’ve been best served if we just watched all the footage she had,chronological or not, without her voice over and definitely without Adobe. That would’ve allowed us to put the pieces together ourselves. The writers were  tripping over themselves to establish roles that ultimately did nothing for the film as a whole. A better story could’ve been told with generic captions telling us what we were watching. The film tried to build suspense and controversy when what we really wanted was insanity and mayhem. There wasn’t one moment that did that for me in The Bay. I’ve watched Paranormal Activity, Cat Fish and INSIDOUS and there were at least one, if not a few, moments in those films that had me at hello. Director Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Sleepers) is an amazing director, but this was not his finest hour.

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Listen to M83′s “Starwaves” from the OBLIVION soundtrack and prepare to be overwhelmed

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So many amazing artist have transitioned into composing soundtracks and have done so successfully. Trent Reznor, Danny Elfman, Jonsi, Johnny Greenwood, BECK and Randy Newman just to name a few. All great artist and all clearly capable of pushing themselves to that next level. Anthony Gonzalez  of M83 can now be added to that list, but it isn’t like his music hasn’t been used in a slew of trailers and commercial’s, it’s just that this recent endeavor makes it official. Most of you remember the M83 track “OUTRO” off their “Hurry Up Were Dreaming” album, that was used in The Cloud Atlas  trailer. If that song didn’t help sell that highly complicated film, to people who had no idea what the film was, I don’t know what did. There’s no one I know, that didn’t say they got chills when they saw the trailer for The Cloud Atlas for the first time. It’s a shame too, cause not only was the film a respectable endeavor, but the soundtrack composed by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil is absolutely outstanding and it along with other aspects of the film were completely snubbed by The Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences   this year. This really doesn’t surprise me considering this institution was also responsible for snubbing Martin Scorsese for best director of Good Fellas, they also had never given an award to Alfred Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock…wtf! So yeah, they suck! But you know what doesn’t suck? This new  M83 track off the OBLIVION OST. Look folks, I know I have been bad mouthing this film, but it’s because I’m not making the connection. I felt too much has already been given away in the trailer, so unless director Joseph Kosinski (Tron Legacy), pulls an amazing M.Knight Shyamalan, people are going to be disappointed. Allow me to make this very clear…I want this film to work. This is just how I’m feeling right now, that being said, I think leaking this little snippet from the OST is moving in the right direction and should snatch in the last few line toter’s before the films releases on April 19, 2013. M83′s Anthony Gonzalez scored Oblivion with Disney XD’s TRON: Uprising composer Joseph Trapanese , the two are being called M83 although Joseph is not a current member.

If you haven’t seen nor heard Tron: Uprising yet…well damn. It’s not just a cartoon people, it’s some serious next level animation. I’ve embedded the soundtrack from Tron Uprising below, compliment’s of Geek Tyrant’s SoundTRAX series on Soundcloud. If these two great musician’s continue to work together, they have a very promising future in the film industry.

Kosinski’s Oblivion (also known as Horizons) stars Tom Cruise as Jack Harper, plus Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Zoe Bell, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Living and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, Jack’s soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.

Oblivion opens in theaters and in IMAX 3D on April 19, 2013.

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#OBLIVION #Tom Cruise #M83 #Universal Studios #Anthony Gonzalez #Science Fiction #Joseph Kosinki

Hopkins, Mirren Utterly Captivating in Wildly Entertaining “Hitchcock”

Science fiction short SEED is a beautiful anomaly

New images from the Alfred Hitchcock bio pic are spot on in every way

TO COMMEMORATE ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S BIRTHDAY HERE’S A COLLECTION OF ALL HIS CAMEOS

FIRST IMAGES OF ANTHONY HOPKINS IN FOX SEARCHLIGHTS BIOPIC “HITCHCOCK”

This morning Fox Searchlight via Tumblr released this magnificent still of Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock. His makeup was done by the award winning make up artist Howard Berger (Sin City, Chronicles Of Narnia) whose also currently working on Oz: The Great and Powerful directed by Sam Raimi. This is some stellar work by Howard and should…should, receive an Oscar nod when the time comes. The film directed by Sacha Gervasi (The Terminal, Henry’s Crime) stars Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Hellen Mirren, Toni Collette, Danny Houston  and the extraordinary and incomparable Michael Wincott (The Crow, Basquiat) as the real life serial killer Ed Gein (who incidentally was the inspiration for Norman Bates in Psycho, Hannibal Lecter, and Leather face ). I’m very curious how his role plays into the whole story.

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