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Read Monty Python’s letter to all the ‘Life of Brian’ haters, 1979
03.10.2016
12:27 pm

Topics:
Belief
Movies

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Monty Python’s letter—apparently thousands of these were sent out—to judgemental people who had never actually even seen their 1979 film Life of Brian but who nevertheless found it to be blasphemous anyway:

Dear __________

Thank you for your letter regarding the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Whilst we understand your concern, we would like to correct some misconceptions you may have about the film which may be due to the fact that you have not had the chance to see it before forming your views. The film is set in Biblical times, but it is not about Jesus. It is a comedy, but we would like to think that it does have serious attitudes and certain things to say about human nature. It does not ridicule Christ, nor does it show Christ in any way that could offend anyone, nor is belief in God or Christ a subject dealt with in the film.

We are aware that certain organizations have been circulating misinformation on these points and are sorry that you have been misled. We hope you will go see the film yourself and come to your own conclusions about its virtues and defects. In any case, we hope you find it funny.

Best wishes,

Monty Python

Below, some images I found of the “haters” protesting Life of Brian in 1979:


 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘I died in a bar of a heart attack’: Oliver Reed predicts his own death in a TV interview from 1994
03.10.2016
09:27 am

Topics:
Amusing
Heroes
Movies
R.I.P.
Television

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05oreedtoast.jpg
 
Though we never know the exact moment when we will shove off this mortal coil, it was very small odds to wager Oliver Reed would pop his clogs in a bar after one too many jugs of ale. It was how the great actor said he wanted to go and he predicted as much in an TV interview for The Obituary Show in 1994:

I died in a bar of a heart attack full of laughter. We were having a cabbage competition. I was very confident that for once I was going to win this vegetable competition. And somebody made a bet with me that was so lewd that I took it on and he shook my hand. And I laughed so much I was sick and died.

Reed died in a bar in Valletta, Malta during the filming of Ridley Scott’s movie Gladiator on May 2nd, 1999. Though he died in a bar drinking is true, the myths of that fateful day have clouded one small fact about Reed during his final screen role. As one of his co-stars Omid Djalili surprisingly recounted earlier this year, Reed “hadn’t had a drink for months before filming started.”
 
01oreedheaven.jpg
Above him the sky…
 

Everyone said he went the way he wanted, but that’s not true. It was very tragic. He was in an Irish bar and was pressured into a drinking competition. He should have just left, but he didn’t.

The stories as to what and how much Reed consumed that day vary enormously. All that can be said is that Reed’s untimely demise was a great loss to acting, cinema and most of our lives in general. For if Reed did anything—he entertained us for forty years.

Gladiator would have been his comeback movie. His career had sadly withered during the 1990s to a handful of movies and too many inebriated appearances on TV. Reed never regretted his chat show escapades claiming he was an entertainer and the audience always expected him to be bad.

Reed’s role models for life and drink were the fighter pilots he met as a child during the Second World War. Many of these pilots had been his mother’s lovers. Reed’s job was to mix their drinks at the cocktail his mother organized. At each successive party, the number of pilots in attendance diminished as they were killed in active duty. Reed never forgot the carefree way they laughed, drank and enjoyed life fully without worrying about their ever-approaching death or injury.
 
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Reed wanted to live “bravely.” He felt acting was a fraud compared to those who fought battles, won wars, or worked hard every single day of their lives to eke out a basic living to support their families. Acting was pretending. Real life was out there—somewhere—usually in a bar.

The Obituary Show was a novel—albeit somewhat morbid—take on the traditional chat show. It presented various celebrities in heavenly surroundings discussing their lives as if they were looking down from the other side. The guests weighed up their lives answering questions on regrets, failings and success.

Though “frightened of not dying bravely,” Reed ‘fessed up very few (serious) regrets:

I regret having not made love to every woman on Earth.I regret having not kissed the nose of every dog on Earth. I regret having not been into every bar on Earth. But that doesn’t make me a hellraiser. If somebody punches me on the nose, I’ll punch them back. If somebody buys me a drink I’ll buy them one back.

The punctuation mark I leave on this helter-skelter of life: On my gravestone is written “He made the air move.”

 
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How the press reported it.
 
Reed gave a rare and thoughtful interview in this edition of The Obituary Show with his most moving admission made when discussing events after his death:

The only thing I regret about my own funeral was that I couldn’t go to my own wake because it was a wonderful party. And every time I kept on tapping somebody on the shoulder—I’m going to cry now. They didn’t know I was there.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Open Doors: Watch Ray Manzarek’s student films, ‘Evergreen’ and ‘Induction’
03.10.2016
08:00 am

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Movies
Music

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“I’ll open doors to strange and exotic countries.” That’s the first line in Ray Manzarek’s 1965 student film Induction, and one of several moments from his UCLA movies that retrospectively became omens and portents of Ray’s near future—his film school classmate Jim Morrison turns up in Induction, too. Though Induction and 1964’s Evergreen predate the Doors, both of Manzarek’s extant student films contain such seemingly premonitory details. (In Evergreen, it’s footage of the Whisky a Go Go and the Venice Beach apartment where Ray and Jim lived during the band’s early years.)

Both movies feature Dorothy Fujikawa, who was married to Manzarek from 1967 until the end of his life, and who was instrumental in the formation of the Doors. “There would be no Doors if it wasn’t for Dorothy Fujikawa,” Manzarek said. “She was the one who supported Jim and me as we put the band together.” Fujikawa’s character in Evergreen is reading Brecht, whose “Alabama Song” Morrison sang on the first Doors album. Her co-star, Hank Olguin (stage name Henry Crismonde), let the Doors use his house for their first rehearsal. (“Hank was the only guy I knew who had a piano,” Manzarek writes.)
 

 
Compared to Ray’s 1985 video for “L.A. Woman”—not his greatest achievement—these films are, as they say, actually pretty good. Both were released as bonus features on the Doors’ Collection DVD (originally a laserdisc), from which Morrison’s student films are conspicuously absent. In his memoir Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors, Manzarek explains at some length why his UCLA films survived but the Lizard King’s did not:

The best of all the student films were screened twice a year for the public at what was called the “Royce Hall Screenings.” The faculty would select a dozen or so films to be composite-printed and projected up onto the big screen of Royce Hall. Dignitaries were invited. Critics were invited. And the carved, Spanish-style doors were flung open to the public as if to say, “See, we’re not insane here. We can do good work.” And, oh, how the faculty would strut. Because Royce Hall was the prestigious auditorium on the entire west side of Los Angeles. Symphonies were performed there, great jazz artists and intense folksingers of the time performed there. I saw the Modern Jazz Quartet play there. The great Odetta sang there. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra performed there. I walked in one afternoon on a rehearsal of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and it was absolutely overwhelming, standing at the foot of the stage—Zubin Mehta was the conductor—and I’m watching the L.A. Philharmonic power their way through the Rite of Spring... in Royce Hall. Thrilling.

Well, lo and behold, a few months later a Ray Manzarek student film, Induction (and the year before that Evergreen), was to be shown at the Royce Hall Screening. It was certainly an honor for me. I was very pleased with those films. They worked. And I was very proud of my cameramen, John DeBella and Christopher (Kit) Gray, and my actors, Dorothy Fujikawa, Hank Olguin, and Kathy Zeller.

Jim’s movie, unfortunately, didn’t make it into Royce Hall. He was panned by the teachers and panned by many of the students. What a bunch of dolts! They just didn’t get it. However, they did appear to take great delight in raking Jim over the coals. Jim always rubbed a lot of them the wrong way—those people were called squares—hell, he’s still doing that. And they’re still squares.

“Nonlinear, Mr. Morrison.” “Doesn’t make any sense.” “You’ve violated basic rules of screen direction on the shot with the darts, Morrison.” “Male chauvinist! Why’s the girl in her underwear?” “What are you, a stoner or something?” “Fascist!” “This isn’t the way we make movies in America, Morrison. This is like a Communist would think.”

So his film didn’t make it into the screenings…nor did it make it through the projector. He had trouble making splices. Jim’s forte was not splicing two pieces of film together with the tiny little tape and the tiny little 16mm splicer you had to use. But it was an extremely poetic movie.

It doesn’t exist anymore. It was tossed out with three hundred or so other student movies at the end of the semester. The only films that were saved were the ones that had the negative cut and a composite made for the big show in Royce. The other films were like term papers—seen once and tossed. Just too many to save. So Jim’s is gone. Into the dumpster and into the ether.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Twin Peaks,’ ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘Mad Max,’ & more as ‘70s-style Topps trading card wrappers
03.09.2016
08:54 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Movies
Television

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Last Autumn, Minneapolis-based illustrator Zack Wallenfang began a series of Topps trading card/gum wrapper homages built around cult TV, films, and even a few bands. There’s very little to say about them except to admire how dead spot-on they are! The artist is similarly taciturn about himself, offering only “I like making things I feel should exist, like these faux vintage wax pack wrappers.” His about page is as cheeky as his work, but no more informative:

Zack is a graduate from the Minneapolis of College Art & Design with a Bachelor in Fine Arts. He enjoys making things and getting paid for it. You probably need him.

Wallenfang has an Etsy shop, but alas, these gum wrapper parodies aren’t among its offerings, at least not yet. I’d encourage you to peruse it nonetheless; despite his evident penchant for self-deprecation, he’s a very gifted caricaturist.
 

Just F everyone’s I—there actually was a set of Twin Peaks cards, when the show was still airing—not by Topps, but by Star Pics.


 

 
More after the jump (some really good ones, too)

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Watch the very first film version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ from 1903
03.08.2016
11:40 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:

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Cecil Hepworth is one of the unsung heroes of early cinema. The son of a magic-lantern showman and novelist, Hepworth was one of the first producers/directors to realize the potential of making full-length “feature films” (his version of David Copperfield in 1913 ran for 67 minutes) and the selling power of star actors (and animals—most notably his pet dog in Rescued by Rover in 1905).

Hepworth began by making short one-minute films. Influenced by the Lumière Brothers and the early master of cinema Georges Méliès, Hepworth tried his own hand at advancing their ideas. With How It Feels to be Run Over he took the Lumiere’s Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895) and applied it to a motor car—where the vehicle heads straight for the camera apparently mowing down both cameraman and audience. The same year, he made Explosion of a Motor Car in which a car with four passengers explodes. The road (in comic fashion) is then littered with their body parts. This was shocking and surreal viewing for early cinema goers. It was also, as Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline points out, “one of the first films to play with the laws of physics for comic effect.” Hepworth pinched Méliès technique of editing in camera—stopping the film between sequences to create one complete and seemingly real event.


 
In 1903, Hepworth decided to go large and make (as faithfully as possible) an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Originally running twelve minutes in length, Hepworth’s Alice in Wonderland was the longest film yet produced in Britain. Hepworth co-directed the film with Percy Stow. He wanted to keep the style of the film in keeping with Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations. Costumes were designed and elaborate sets were built at Hepworth’s film studio—including a rather impressive rabbit burrow. Family members, friends and their children were used in the cast.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Your one-stop shop for ‘Blade Runner’ origami
03.07.2016
01:50 pm

Topics:
Art
Movies

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Anyone who has seen Ridley Scott’s monumental movie Blade Runner probably remembers the character of Gaff, played by Edward James Olmos. Gaff serves as a kind of street-smart chorus in the movie, kind of like the scarcely delineated character who tells private detective J.J. Gittes to “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” in Roman Polanski’s movie of that name.

Blade Runner being Blade Runner, however, the character of Gaff is highly ethereal and elusive. Throughout the movie he strews his little origami figures everywhere he goes, as an incessant mocking reminder to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) that he’ll never be one step ahead.

I had forgotten, but it turns out that in the movie Gaff makes three different creatures—an origami unicorn, an origami chicken, and a little man made from a matchstick. I know this because of the website run by a man named Kenneth Thompson, owner of a construction and flooring company in Michigan, that is dedicated to producing and selling actual origami recreations of Gaff’s Unicorn as well as providing tutorials about how to make all three of Gaff’s figures on your own.

Noticing that there was not a place to buy Gaff’s Unicorn on the Internet, Thompson decided that he “was going to have to make it” himself.

Here’s a section of Thompson’s instructions on how to make Gaff’s chicken:
 

 
If you want to buy one of Thompson’s replicas of Gaff’s Unicorns, you can do so from his site. As Thompson describes it, “At the end of the film as Deckard and Rachael are entering the elevator from Deckard’s apartment, Deckard notices another origami figure on the floor of the hall.” This is Gaff’s Unicorn.

You can buy one for $14.99 or, if you’d like a plexiglass case to showcase it, that’ll cost you $32.99.
 
After the jump, Thompson’s video tutorial on how to make your own Gaff’s Unicorn…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Stunning fluorescent stills from Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece ‘Suspiria’
03.07.2016
08:06 am

Topics:
Movies
Occult

Tags:

A stunning still from the 1977 film, Suspiria
A stunning still from the 1977 film, ‘Suspiria’
 
This past week, the strongest rumors yet of a Hollywood remake of one of the most influential Italian films ever made, Dario Argento’s 1977 masterpiece Suspiria, came from a Tweet by writer Alex Heller-Nicholas, the author of the 2015 book, Suspiria: Devil’s Advocates.

According to Nicholas, director Luca Guadagnino has taken over the helm for the remake of Suspiria that will be set in the same year as the release of the original film (1977) but with the location shifted to Berlin. Nicholas’ Tweet also noted that the remake will include actress Tilda Swinton (and perhaps the rest of the cast of Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash—Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson). Squeee! While I generally shudder at the mere mention of the word “remake” (especially when it comes to horror films), it’s promising that this genre defining film would be reinterpreted by a director who doesn’t rub shoulders with Hollywood elite. The film is set for a tentative release in 2017, which will mark Suspiria’s 40th anniversary. But let’s get back to the eye-popping point of this post.

If you’ve never seen Suspiria (which, if you consider yourself a fan of horror films, I find hard to believe), I hope that the day-glow stills from this groundbreaking film I’ve put together for this post change that. Every camera set-up was a work of art. Argento himself has said that he was attempting to “reproduce the color” from Walt Disney’s animated technicolor film from 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs . The prime colors were enhanced by the use of “imbibition” Technicolor prints. This process—also used for The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind—makes for much more vivid color reproduction. Historically, Suspiria was one of the last films to be processed in Technicolor.

Even if you have seen Dario Argento’s Suspiria I suggest that you put on some sunglasses, turn off the lights, and enjoy the following neon-colored, nightmarish stills from the film. If you need me, I’ll be under the bed (and as far away from barbed-wire as possible).
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
Suspiria movie poster by James Rheem Davis of Giant Sumo
“Suspiria” movie poster by James Rheem Davis of Giant Sumo
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Velvet jacket inspired by iconic ‘Shining’ carpet
03.04.2016
01:19 pm

Topics:
Fashion
Movies

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The excellent website known as The Overlook Hotel, which is dedicated to everything relating to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, posted this a couple weeks back.

It’s a velvet jacket by Ted Baker that (rather obviously) pays homage to the carpet from The Shining. According to The Overlook Hotel website, it was a limited run of 70 jackets, and it was available at the Ted Baker boutique in Dubai. No price is mentioned.

Searches on the internet turned up no other information about this jacket that doesn’t derive from The Overlook Hotel website.

I’d love to know more about this jacket. I want to buy one! If it doesn’t bankrupt me.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Xenomorph cookie jar
03.02.2016
01:32 pm

Topics:
Food
Movies

Tags:


 
I’m not entirely sure H.R. Giger would have approved of this, but I must admit this Xenomorph cookie jar is pretty darn badass-looking. The price isn’t too crazy either. For around $45.00 you could own of these puppies through ThinkGeek.

I dig it.


 
via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Farting monsters?!?: The ‘unconventional’ ‘80s occult horror stinker, ‘Spookies’
03.01.2016
10:09 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:

Spookies poster
 
Cult horror film Spookies was originally shot in 1984 under the working title of Twisted Souls. It was co-written/co-directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran, lifelong friends and horror fiends. The pair were in the early stages of another picture, Hellspawn, which a British movie distributor named Michael Lee offered to fund—if they’d first make a film according to his outline. So Faulkner and Doran went about writing a script about a band of partygoers trapped in a house, chased by monsters. They knocked out the text in two weeks.
 
Throbbing head
 
Twisted Souls was shot in Rye, New York, primarily inside a spacious colonial mansion. Faulkner and Doran hired friends to star in the low budget film, with much of the budget going towards the special effects make-up used to create the various types of monsters. In one scene, creatures the crew identified as “Muck Men” emerge suddenly from a dirt floor.
 
The Muck Men
 
Once filming was complete, the directors had to battle their overbearing financier, who insisted on approving every cut they made in the edit bay. Eventually, Faulkner and Doran got so frustrated with Lee that they bailed on the movie.
 
Possessed
 
Enter Genie Joseph, a jack of all trades who got her start in adult films, and also worked as an editor for Troma. Initially hired as the editor, she ended up co-writing and directing new scenes, cutting the two and a half hour rough cut of Twisted Souls down to 45 minutes and filling the remainder of the 80 minute running time with her new footage. The results are… less than stellar.
 
Twisted Souls
 
Faulkner and Doran’s story involving a group of friends stuck inside a monster-filled mansion, inter-cut with Joseph’s plot concerning a sorcerer and his kept bride, may have seemed doable on paper, but in the final product the story lines were barely tied together. The same residence was secured for the new shoot, but the Twisted Souls actors—due to their loyalty to Faulkner and Doran—refused to be a part of Joseph’s cast. The acting ain’t the greatest on either side, and though the monsters created for the initial production look awesome by B-movie standards, what’s happening on screen is consistently baffling, largely because so much of the Twisted Souls footage was cut out. Across the board, Joseph’s editing choices are puzzling, to say the least. In short, Spookies is a glorious mess.
 
A glorious mess
 
The “Muck Men” scene is now the most famous moment in the film, due to what was added after Faulkner and Doran exited. When the monsters appear, instead of provoking fear in the audience—as Faulkner and Doran had, of course, intended—they induce nothing but laughs, thanks to the farting sound effects Michael Lee insisted Genie Joseph add. A member of the Twisted Souls production says he shrieked in horror—and not in a good way—when the farting started on screen. Faulkner and Doran wanted to inject some humor into the film, but flatulent monsters wasn’t something they had in mind.
 
More ‘Spookies’ lore, after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
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