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:

 

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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.

 

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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!

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GREATEST SHORT FILMS OF ALL TIME : THE LAST TEN (2011) by Director David Higgs

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THE LAST TEN- I love short films for the same reason I love short stories, at their best they can deliver a pure moment, unhampered by filler or setup or dressing or fluff, and therefore a memorable moment to the core of us, in a way which only the most masterful feature films can equal.

Dickens was by far the more lauded author of his day, but it is the short fiction of his contemporaries Doyle and the American Poe which remains the mainstay of our cultural obsession to this day. And it is because of their short fiction’s power to completely live in us and be remembered by us, in their entirety; and the very nature of this construction is one of icon-ism rather than specif-ism.

Therefore the characters are ever very personal and close and fleshed out by us; are as part of their brevity ever ruminations on us. Indeed, even Dickens, who while the writer of many long form works, made his livelihood in the serialized market, and arguably his most beloved work, is his short form A CHRISTMAS CAROL, more novelette than novel.

When done well, a short film in a minute or two minutes or five minutes, or in this case under 14 minutes, can present a beginning, middle, and ending that almost all live completely on this razor edge of climax, and satisfy you before your attention wanes.

David Higgs’ THE LAST TEN is short film done as well as it can be done. A premise Hitchcock would have adored, a locked off camera, a single location, and creeping dread. I went into the film knowing nothing about it, as i suggest to you, and was blown away. Writer/Director/Producer David Higgs along with Cinematographer Nicole Heiniger in under 14 minutes creates one of my favorite short films with a haunting final shot.

You can view it courtesy of the Roku channel VIMEO. We all know short fiction is oft seen as a stepping stone to feature film, but the truth is they are two distinct animals. Clive Barker’s short fiction is miles ahead of his long form fiction. If THE LAST TEN is anything to go by, David Higgs is a fantastic short film maker, and I for one would love to see more films by him. At least enough that he could put out a DVD or Blu-Ray complete with special features and monetize some of his excellent work.

Last word on THE LAST TEN? HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. A+.

 

Pick up the following books if you enjoyed this post and are a fan of what it covers:

Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems
– There are tons of Edgar Allen Poe collections, but only a few sport illustrations by the great Gustave Dore and only one is this affordable. Get the hardcover version while you can.

Major Works of Charles Dickens (Great Expectations / Hard Times / Oliver Twist / A Christmas Carol / Bleak House / A Tale of Two Cities)
-six of his works in this exclusive and sumptuous boxed set of lavish, clothbound editions, designed by Penguin’s own award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith. Part of Penguin’s beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design.

 

 

Movie of the Day : THE ARROYO (2014)

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THE ARROYO (2014)- It took a couple attempts for me to make it through this one, I’m glad I did. While the beginning may not quite grab you (both the title and the description of it is a bit ambiguous if you come across it like I did on Amazon Prime), I would urge you to stick with it. Writer, Producer, and first time Director Jeremy Boreing has created a film that starts humbly and builds into something that is not only worthy of your time… but will demand it.

The Western is an oft eulogized genre, yet for all these premature burials, yet does it rise. The West and the western is as much a state of mind as a locale, and it lives deep and long in Boreing’s THE ARROYO.

If you are a fan of television’s LONGMIRE or film’s NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MAN you’ll find yourself in welcome company with the ARROYO’s Jim Weatherford, played with a laconic grace by Kenny Maines; but make no mistake Boreing’s THE ARROYO is very much its own animal, exploring darker questions of the lawlessness at our borders and perhaps the culpability of the American political process, and the measure of courage.

A riveting watch, and strongly recommended. This is one I want to purchase the Blu-Ray for, with director’s commentary. And that’s the compliment of a great film, that despite getting to see it for free (courtesy of Amazon Prime) you are still inspired to own it on Blu-Ray!

Give it a watch, you may feel the same.

The COMIC STRIP Returns?!!!! THE HOUSE OF DUELING MIDNIGHT #1

Yeah, yeah.. it’s pretty stupid, and horrible. But I have to admit… it made me chuckle. 🙂

As far as why… Well I’ve been meaning to put up a couple strips for a while. And have been trying to network, collaborate with a couple of artists, but I’ll let you in on a secret, artists aren’t really the most reliable bunch for collaborating or networking with… at least the ones I’ve been dealing with.

So rather than wait on people to grow up, I decided to just ‘what the heck’ it, and just go ahead and create and post something that would make me laugh.

Hence this very brief, very juvenile ‘cut and paste’ cartoon courtesy of one of the free cartoon generators out there, The art is crude, but the insane story and words and madness is all me. Hope you enjoyed it. If you do, leave a comment and some likes!

It’s a work in progress experiment, that will improve if you guys will stick in there with me. Thanks!! 🙂

Movies on my to Rent and/or to Purchase List!

Movies on my to Rent and/or to Purchase List!

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Movie Review: Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon’s CABIN IN THE WORDS

So I was able to finally see CABIN IN THE WOODS, Drew Goddard’s directorial debut (from a script by Goddard and Joss Whedon) and the film manages to keep itself compelling on the share audacity of its script. This will be a relatively spoiler free review, for those wondering.

Goddard’s CABIN IN THE WOODS film manages to harpoon the idiocies of the traditional slasher/horror flick, without devolving into SCARY MOVIE parody, by use of a surprisingly imaginative script, that by the end tosses in everything and the kitchen sink.

So while the film is for the most part a quick moving ride, it does suffer a bit of being too much of what it parodies (parody being a bit strong, self referential being more accurate). The central characters are largely, as in most films of this type, caricatures rather than characters, so it’s hard to get really too invested in them. And by the end, while visually dynamic, I am quite bored of the whole ghoul fad (if they are rotting and eat flesh they are ghouls, not zombies– What can I say? I know my Monster lore 🙂 ), and just throughout, felt not very invested in any of the characters or their outcome.

CABIN IN THE WOODS is a technically sound and imaginative film, that unfortunately suffers from its conceits… of horror movie tropes and bland protagonists. I felt surprisingly empty after leaving the film, not excited, not disappointed, just… uninvolved. So the film while not immediately forgettable in its script, is also not especially memorable in its execution.

So final grade: It’s worth a viewing at matinée price, but otherwise just wait for DVD. B-/C+

Most Anticipated films for the remainder of 2012 Film 1 of 10: Robert Zemeckis’ FLIGHT

2012 is off to a gangbusters start, and is poised to be the best movie year in terms of both quality and commerce for Hollywood since 2008. And like that year, it’s a very Superhero and Sequel Heavy Blockbuster summer.

This installment will be coverage of my most anticipated films for the remainder of 2012. But in true Heroic Times fashion, you’ll see some entries covered in each installment that you won’t find mentioned anywhere else. Enjoy 🙂

So part of the purpose of this reoccurring installment is to give love to films that might otherwise fly under the radar.

So what is on the list already?!!

Okay, Okay! Sheesh, you’re a pushy bunch… here goes:

The first film that get’s the nod is FLIGHT.

I find Robert Zemeckis an interesting Director. He tends toward light, family friendly films, which I have to be honest is not really what I gravitate to. However Zemeckis does family friendly, very well.

His films are a diverse, and always imaginative and technologically ground breaking bunch, from the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy, to FOREST GUMP, to WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT to WHAT LIES BENEATH (I think it’s the film of his, an ode to Hitchcock, that holds up the best). WHAT LIES BENEATH showed me that Zemeckis could handle more mature and suspenseful films… and that brings me to FLIGHT.

So news that a new film of Zemeckis is in post-production, called FLIGHT and starring an all star cast (that includes:

Denzel Washington [opposite the drop-dead gorgeous Sanaa Lathan], Don Cheadle [with the majestic Megalyn Echikunwoke], Bruce Greenwood [raucus with the lovely Leslie Hope] , Tamara Tunie , Garcelle Beauvais, Rhoda Griffis, John Goodman, Michael Beasley, and Nadine Velazquez ) makes me happy.

First and foremost because that’s a cast filled with REAL actors, rather than just CW faces of the moment. And films that have an ethnically diverse and deep cast (so more than just 2 characters of color) gets me to spend my money and go to the theater.

Huge fan of RED TAILS, so suck it! 🙂

I’m just a dumb ass southern boy, who misses my cartoons on Saturday, and my Hong Kong Chop Suey Soul Cinema Creature Feature films on the weekends. Current Hollywood films are just too bland and similar for me in terms of both content and casting. So any time I get a film that grates against the imposed tokenism of conventional Hollywood films… well saddle up the General Lee boys… cause I’m there! 🙂

Now that said Zemeckis does have some issues as director.

He helms big budget films, that have a hard time making their return on investment. His last two films, BEOWULF and CHRISTMAS CAROL carried budgets of 150million and 200 million respectively, and they didn’t make that money back theatrically, not even utilizing the IMAX and 3D price gouging.

This has less to do with the director and more to do with studios budgeting 150 million for a film, that would be more sensibly priced at a 50 million budget.

Just like with the upcoming BATTLESHIP, if that film was budgeted at 50 million rather than 200 million it could without question make a profit. As it stands I think BATTLESHIP is going to do commercially the same that JOHN CARTER did; which is to say not well.

The mindset of the studios pricing everything so high, including the cameras and marketing, I think has more to do with keeping the little guy, the independent studio out of the process of getting films in theaters, rather than the content of the specific film. I think it’s really about for the most part ensuring the people who can get movies into the theaters are one of the big studios.

Now of course in this day and age of found footage films you can definitely make films cheaply, but those films, THE PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, etc have to be picked up and sanctified by the gate keeper, the big studios, otherwise like most films made, such as BLACK DYNAMITE, they get seen at film festivals and that’s it.

Without the blessing of a gatekeeper, Sony, Fox, the big boys, You have no chance to make your money back in theatrical distribution. If you’re lucky you get some limited streaming or DVD deal, but for all intents and purposes you’re dead in the water.

So yeah that’s the only rationale I can find for studios not just having astronomical budgets on films, but in the wake of the films struggling to break even… keeping the budgets astronomical.

The studios increasingly using the films as loss leaders, tax breaks/write offs, and as a means of market control/theatrical control. And further they are using their bad decisions, their shell game of profit and loss, to cry broke and enforce changes on the theatrical market. Such as the move away from real film cameras and projectors (35mm and the rarer 70mm) and instead move to all digital cameras and theatrical installations. (Which is bad for numerous reasons not least of which digital cameras/projectors cannot match the range of 35mm film, and is left in the dust by 70mm film; as anyone who has seen LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 70mm can attest).

So all that thinking weighs in when discussing Zemeckis’ recent mega-budget films, and their under-performance. Zemeckis’ films are so expensive they tend not to break even theatrically. It is a paradigm, an unsupportable one I think, that bears watching and curtailing in the future.

But for the present if the studios are good with their movies not breaking even, it works for me.

So yeah count me among the ones anticipating Zemeckis’ thriller tinged drama… FLIGHT.