Currently Listening to : Movie Scores for THE OMEN, JAWS, and CONTAGION

Currently Listening to : Movie Scores for THE OMEN, JAWS, and CONTAGION courtesy of my new favorite Roku channel… Spotify.

I recently signed up for a free Spotify account, and I love the ability to listen to whole albums before you decide to buy. It is just a wonderful way to introduce you to musicians and albums you may otherwise miss.

THE OMEN – hate to be sacrelegious here, to all the praise this Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack gets, but with few exceptions I find it… unexceptional, and largely filler rather than filling. No offense to the guys at Filmscore Click Track who called this their favorite film score of all time. I simply do not see or hear it.

Jerry Goldsmith, without question is one of the world’s great composers, with numerous scores deserving of acclaim (among them THE 13TH WARRIOR, ALIEN, PLANET OF THE APES to name a few). THE OMEN is not one of those so deserving.  Grade: For me it is an AVOID, your mileage may vary. Without trying, I can think of a hundred soundtracks that are miles better than this. Such as THE FOLLOWING scores:

JAWS – Now this score, like the movie, is deserving of all its praise. A study in the definition of iconic. One of many John Williams masterpieces, any of which you could call one of the greatest soundtracks of all time, and get no argument from me. Grade : BUY IT!

CONTAGION – One of the older soundtracks by Cliff Martinez of SOLARIS, DRIVE, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, NEON DEMON fame, I kinda dig this more than his recent collaborations with director Nicolas Winding Refn. Those scores do what they are designed to do… bouy the movie; however as a stand alone peice of music, they tend toward the droning and overly similar. CONTAGION shows a bit more range and variation, and excitement.  GRADE: RENT IT!

Come back next time for more Soundtrack Reviews!




Week 34 of 2016! BEST PODCASTS!

2015 into 2016 was a rough year for podcasts and podcasters and their audience, as we lost for various reasons some of my favorite podcasts.


SIDEBAR – A trio of Atlanta based art lovers, offering some of the best interviews with the best names in the industry. The loss of their particular dynamic and their show, leaves a hole that unfortunately no show has yet to fill.

HORROR ETC – This was a great, fun, and informative show, on all things horror related, primarily about film, but also books and TV shows. Definitely missed.

KNIFEPOINT HORROR- I’ve listened to a lot of dramatic readings and audio stories, from the classics of old time radio to the best shows the Mp3 age could make possible. KNIFEPOINT HORROR was unequaled in its ability to actually creep you out.  The host, Soren,wants to try his hand at other things, and I’m sure he’ll do great at his next project.

B-MOVIE CAST – I’ve been following this show almost as long as I’ve been blogging, listening to it was like listening to good friends. The unexpected loss of its host… it says a lot about the community Vince R made and let you be a part of, says a lot about him, that I… a stranger can be so moved. My condolences go out to his family and friends.

INDIE SPINNER RACK – This is an honorable mention, because it disappeared long before 2015, but its unique chemistry of hosts, and fun content is still decidedly missed


Okay that’s who we lost in podcasting, but thankfully here in 2016 we have shows that are still with us and going strong, as well as new discoveries that while not replacing the old, are forging the new. New loves and new favorites. So without further ado here are the best podcasts this week.



Recommended episode : Start with the latest episode, you’ll quickly find it essential and fun listening



Recommended Episode : Start with the latest

Recommended Episode : Jimmy Walker, Sinbad, Robin Williams, Patrick Stewart, President OBama

Recommended Episode : Metropolis, Morricone, Oscar Nominated Scores

Recommended Episode : Start with the latest. They are all fun

Recommended Episode : Neal Adams, Denny ONeil, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo

Recommended Episode : It is pretty essential to start at the beginning. Great 1st season, and still working my way through the 2nd season

Recommended Episode:  Season 2 Episode 4, Season 2 Episode 8

Recommended Episode : Huge fan of binaural audio. Here are some nice homemade clips. Start with ‘Nocturnal Beach’ from 2014.

Recommended Episode : I am still very much of a DVD and Bluray advocate. Start with any episode.


Amazon Prime Movie of the Day : DJANGO, PREPARE A COFFIN


‘Its hard to find a good ” Django” film after Sergio Corbuccis original, even though, after its success, there were hundreds of films which boasted themselves with the title “Django”. Sadly most of these films used the name as a marketing strategy to boost ticket sales. The main characters often had nothing to do with the Django that Corbucci established, sometimes they didn’t even have his name attached to them.
“Django, Prepare a Coffin” is one of those rare films that use the existing character, with all its quirks, and is able to bring him to life in a new scenario with a new actor.’

—Nolden  of LETTERBOXD

Really enjoyed this 1968 Spaghetti Western, ably directed by Ferdinando Baldi (TEXAS ADIOS, BLIND MAN). Originally written for Franco Nero (the star  of the original DJANGO), when he was unavailable they offered the role to Terence Hill (born Mario Girotti) because of his striking resemblance to the popular Nero.

But Terence Hill proves himself in this movie a capable leading man of his own, with a more easy and affable screen presence than the talented but oft explosive and hyperbolic Franco Nero. Hill’s more subdued take is perfect for this imaginative story of double and triple crosses.



LUCIO FULCI : BEYOND THE BEYOND! A Critical Reassessment! His 7 Best Films!

The Roman born Director Lucio Fulci when remembered today is primarily remembered for his his schlock and gore filled horror films of the 80s such as THE BEYOND, HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, ZOMBI 3, which is a crying shame, because these were the lowest common denominator films of a filmmaker reduced to making dreck to make a paycheck, rather than his films of the  late 60s and throughout the 70s that can be considered his artistic passion projects.

His film-making and use of the camera in this period was ground breaking and incredibly influential, and his best films remain among the best of their respective genre.

From 1966’s MASSACRE TIME (an early inspiration and precursor to the dove filled blood ballets of John Woo) to 1978s rarely seen SILVER SADDLE, was a twelve year period of unbridled creativity  and staggering experimentation, and contain not only Fulci’s best films, but some of the best films by anyone during the period, and films that stand the test of time.


Here without further ado our Fulci’s best films and essential films for any true lover of cinema:


Perversion-Story-Fr 16392_1_large 8666_1_large 16391_1_large silversaddlebeatricecenci tempo one-on-top-of-the-other-movie-poster-1969-1020488199 the-brute-and-the-beast-movie-poster-1966-1020462907

PERVERSION STORY AKA ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER – Don’t let the salacious poster fool you this is a MAGNIFICENT film. It’s a reworking of a more well known film, a classic film by one of the world’s most respected directors, however I have to say… I prefer this Fulci film. It is an unjustly little seen masterpiece, beautifully shot, and deserves a great and feature rich Blu-ray disk. Fulci’s best film.


In second place I put PSYCHIC, just adore this film.


I follow that up with his LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN and DONT TORTURE A DUCKLING solidly in 3rd and 4th place.

SILVER SADDLE in 5th place, is the best of Fulci’s three westerns which says a lot. As it beats out the praised MASSACRE TIME in 6th place. (FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE does not make this best of list. It’s overlong, and I can do without its denigrated and stereotyped Black character. But its distasteful parts aside, it remains, like all of his wide-screen films… beautifully shot.)

BEATRICE CENCI, in 7th place, is the director’s own favorite film, his attempt to make a serious Fellini level film, and its poor critical and commercial response was a blow the Director never truly recovered from. The film is solidly good if not great. But definitely deserving of a watch. It’s a solid B/B-.

And those are Fulci’s seven best films, and are must watch films for anyone desirous of the best of Euro-cinema of the period.



1966’s Massacre Time – This film was the one to put Fulci on the genre/world map. One of the earliest of the Spaghetti Western craze, and one of the best. This is an ultra violent flick, that shows off Fulci’s adeptness and creativity in staging action scenes. You can definitely see in this film with its gravity defying blood laced shootouts and its prevalence with doves, a clear inspiration and precursor to the later ‘blood ballet’ films of John Woo. Made during the glory days of the spaghetti western genre (roughly 1966 to 1968) MASSACRE TIME stands out as being one of the most extreme of these extremist westerns.


More detailed reviews to come next installment!

25 Best Directorial Debuts!



Peter Bogdanovich’s TARGETS (1968)is in many ways a prescient film. Being an early look into the coming America of mass murderers and random acts of terror.



There is a reason EVIL DEAD(1980) is still part of the cultural conversation nearly 4 decades after it was made… it’s that good. Sam Raimi launched a beloved career, and a new type of Horror film with this picture.



RESERVOIR DOGS (1992) – Tarantino’s debut film was so influential that it has shaped film and filmmakers for decades to come.

Paul Schrader’s (1978) BLUE COLLAR



THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) by John Huston


BLOOD SIMPLE (1984) Coen Brothers

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) Charles Laughton

CITIZEN KANE (1941) Orson Welles


MENACE II SOCIETY The Hughes Brothers








FORCE OF EVIL (1948) Abraham Polonsky

FINGERS James Toback



Movie of the Day: THE LION IN WINTER (1968)

Eleanor: I adored you. I still do.
Henry II: Of all the lies you’ve told, that is the most terrible.
Eleanor: I know. That’s why I’ve saved it up until now.




These lines from 1968’s THE LION IN WINTER, delivered by two of the greatest actors of all time, at the height of their powers, Katherine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole… is a small sampling of why this remains arguably one of the best films of all time… and without argument, one of my favorite films. Here closing in on the 50th anniversary of this film, I thought the time was right to revisit it.

Written by James Goldman, the older Brother of legendary writer William Goldman, THE LION IN WINTER would be James Goldman’s first produced work, and incontrovertibly his best.

James would never match the scope or longevity or popularity or prolific nature of his Brother’s career and output. William’s BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN, MARATHON MAN, A BRIDGE TOO FAR, MAGIC, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS all films deserving of their acclaim, and films any lover of cinema should watch often and repeatedly, and in comparison James Goldman only lasting mark, would be the first thing he ever did… THE LION IN WINTER.

I call it a draw.

That’s how brilliant a script, and brilliant a film, that single film, THE LION IN WINTER, would be, and is. A theatrical sensation, that would go on to birth a film, even greater than the play.

It is an example of all the stars aligning, to create this marvel of a movie.

In 1969 the film would garner three Academy Awards, and sweep the Golden Globes nabbing the 4 most coveted awards. All in all it would win awards for Actress, screenplay, score, actor, director, and picture. It was a filmic juggernaut, and here in 2016, looking at the almost 50 years of best picture films awarded since, I’m hard pressed to think of a single one that is as good as TLIW, and none come to mind, that better it.

But perhaps there is a cost for such perfection, some alchemic cost, that would have to be paid in the careers of the makers of the film.



A great script, arguably it is the best script ever written in the English language, by a first time screenwriter, James Goldman, who would do only a few other feature screenplays after it, and none nearing the impact and import of TLIW. The script was so great he earned an Academy Award for it, for what amounted to his first time at bat.  A staggering achievement. Which makes his virtual disappearance from the scene… curious. Did he say everything he had in him to say? it’s possible, it happens. Or for some reason was work simply not offered to him, post TLIW.

A young, brash new director (and largely untested, making the jump from acclaimed editor, to the Director’s chair), Anthony Harvey, itching to push the width and breadth of cinema. He did a MASTERFUL job on this film, was nominated for an Academy Award for it, in what was only his 2nd film as director. But like James Goldman would be unable to leverage that Academy Award spotlight, into future opportunities.

He would go on to do only  a handful of features after this, and none of them would posses the scope or brilliance or lasting accolades as THE LION IN WINTER. It would overshadow the rest of his career. Which sometimes is the price of creating something truly great.

That said cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, editor John Bloom, and composer  John Barry , as well as the principal actors would all go on to have stellar careers. Though without argument from me, you want to see the best performances of Peter OToole, Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle, Timothy Dalton or Jane Merrow (exquisite as Alais) you’ll find them in this film.

They rise to the language. We all do.

If you haven’t seen THE LION IN WINTER, you haven’t seen cinema, as it can be… when all the gods are kind. And if you have seen it, it is a film that rewards, and like a missed relative, engenders revisits.

See it via DVD here (with wonderful and essential Director’s commentary):

The Lion in Winter

And hopefully there will be a Blu-Ray Disc on the horizon in the next year or two, to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary!







Director, a cast of veterans and young hungry unknowns who ALL would end up doing the best work of their lives, in this film, score, editing…. all aligning to produce one of the best films of all time.

It is essential viewing.

There is seldom a day in the years since first seeing that movie, probably 15 or 20 years ago, that some line from that film doesn’t pass through my head. Like the best of all writing, it indelibly marks us and shapes us, and leaves its impression on us.

It has done so with me.

Prince Richard: [the sons – in the dungeon – think they hear Henry approach] He’s here. He’ll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn’t going to see me beg.

Prince Geoffrey: My you chivalric fool… as if the way one fell down mattered.

Prince Richard: When the fall is all there is, it matters.

—THE LION IN WINTER, a script that would make even Shakespeare envious.