2020-03-01

The Amusement Park (1973) - restoration finished!

It's finished! George A. Romero's unseen film "The Amusement Park" from 1973 has been restored in 4k, and the restoration premiered at the New York Museum of Modern Art!

This is great news for fans of Romero, and fans of modern US cinema in general. In a review for Consequence of Sound, Matt Prigge wrote that "The Amusement Park" in a certain sense is "...the scariest film Romero ever made". From "Night of the Living Dead" we know where Romero gets his most effective scares from: the individual psyche in a social environment, and the very personal horror of failing to create healthy communication between the two. With "The Amusement Park" set to portray the problems of the elderly in society, and the film being so shocking to initial viewers it was put away, we probably can make a rough guess where this is going...

Internet Movie Database has updated the film's page with a movie poster:


Currently, there seem to be no plans for distribution, "The Amusement Park" will probably only shown on particular occasions, like the aforementioned premiere at the MoMA during the annual "To Save and Project" festival, or similar events.

Sources:
https://www.georgearomerofoundation.org/restore
https://www.moma.org/calendar/events/6235
https://bloody-disgusting.com/movie/3584647/long-lost-george-romero-film-amusement-park-will-premiere-pittsburgh-october/
https://consequenceofsound.net/2020/01/film-review-the-amusement-park/
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/08/movies/moma-film-festival.html
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9270362/

2020-01-07

Streaming-Kino: Messiah of Evil (1973), Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz

Part six of "Streaming-Kino", our series of free movies you shouldn't miss: Cult-classic "Messiah of Evil", a disorienting and unsettling tale of the unfathomable coming to town...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Messiahevilmargreer.jpg
A coastal town slipping into madness - Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz created a surreal, stylish vision that'll give you the creeps. US American independent horror cinema at it's best. Presented to you in original 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

2019-08-03

Fear the Walking Dead, and the San Antonio Split

"The Walking Dead" undoubtedly is one of the best and most successful TV series of the 2000s so far. But while the writers of the series episodes relied on an increasingly larger scope and more intense and shattering atmosphere, it spawned a little brother that quietly grew into something original: "Fear the Walking Dead" is originally set before the events in "The Walking Dead", has taken huge leaps forward on the timeline - and in quality. 

"Fear the Walking Dead" has evolved from a sometimes near-incoherent edit of "The Walking Dead" alikes, to a blend of post-apocalyptic zombie action epic and at least hints at a self-reflexive satire. As such it embraces the audience's oversaturation with zombie movies, and is closer to the original George-A.-Romero-esque, social- and self-aware idea of stumbling E.C. comic ghouls than most other zombie movie productions.

One scene from "Fear the Walking Dead" season 5, episode 3, in particular stands out with it's insane, hair-raising, ridiculously impossible sniper shot called the "San Antonio split". In this scene, the absurdity is taken to the max. Where George A. Romero's might've put in some reasonably realistic, yet funny scene with slipping and tumbling undead, the "San Antonio split" goes all the way into escapism, heroism, and comic territory.

But before we talk about it in more detail, let's watch it first.

Here's the scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX5iX4xEJV8

Now, how (un)realistic is this "San Antonio split"? First of all there's the shooter and his skills. Well, the character of John Dorie is portrayed as a well accomplished marksman throughout his appearance in the show, so we probably can agree on his ability to hit the bull's eye at least every once in a while - why not now. There might be wind, and other factors involved, but he has a lot of experience, and luck is on his side. Then there's the target: an axe, to be hit on precisely on it's blade, held upright on it's lower end by Dwight, who's not only being attacked by a corpse, but lying on the ground, with that very corpse on top of him, about to be eaten alive. Wow. This is gonna be a hell of a shot. But the magic doesn't stop there: he hits the axe's blade so perfectly, that on the horizontal plane the trajectory of each of the two projectiles from the split bullet hits each walker approaching to the left and right side of Dwight. And he even hits the axe's curved blade at the vertically perfect point, so that the projectiles hit the walker's heads! As we can see in the scene, the two walkers aren't equally tall - Dwight is not only able to hold the axe steadily enough and get the horizontal angle perfectly right, he's also capable of tilting the axe according to the walkers' difference in height! Phew! This shot is one for the history books, that's for sure. Dwight, John - hats off.

You might have come to the conclusion about half way through this little analysis: yes, this is a highly unrealistic scene - in fact it's utterly absurd.

And this is where it's beauty is. Yes, it is outrageous. Yes, it is stupid. It may, or may not, be funny. But most of all, it elevates the experience to another level. For a moment we're taken out of the seriousness of survival, we're reminded we're watching a fictional story, and we smile in disbelief of the writer's presumptuousness. Our hero has ascended to god-like levels, which of course can't be true. It's our mother's fairytale and sleeping song, the maximum distance from the harsh, grim everyday post-apocalyptic world. This scene sets a dynamic counterpoint to what preceded it, and what might follow. Luck is on our side, but can we rely on it? We'd better not. Because when we fall, we fall deep. We've seen the light - what comes after will be dark.

The "San Antonio split" was an excellent set up for the events that follow, and continues the semi-comic, satirical tone "Fear the Walking Dead" has taken on over the course of the series. Let's hope the writers don't overload the series with scenes like this one. When used regularly and predictably, it turns the series into pure comic, neutralizing the effect - but when used sparingly such scenes give relief, and create great dramatic impact.

* * *

What's your opinion?
Did you like the "San Antonio split"?
Leave a comment below!

2019-07-25

Streaming-Kino: Häxan (1922), "Witchcraft through the ages"

Part five of "Streaming-Kino": Swedish masterpiece "Häxan" takes you back to the age of witchcraft like no other movie does!
 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haxan_sv_poster.jpg

If there were a film documentary of the actual appearance of the devil, and what live witchcraft would be, this is what it would look like. Seriously, this movie will give you the chills...

Rutger Hauer dies at 75

Another sad news: Veteran actor Rutger Hauer passed away on the 19th of July.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rutger_Hauer_(2018).jpg


From 1968 to 2019 he played in countless movies, from Hollywood blockbusters to B-movies to TV productions and shorts. His work includes parts in legendary films like "Turkish Delight" (1973), "Blade Runner" (1982), "The Hitcher" (1986), "Fatherland" (1994), "Batman Begins" (2005), "Hobo with a Shotgun" (2011), and many, many more.

He always seemed to have a love for niche productions, B-movies, horror and action flicks - one of the few actors who worked in huge productions, but never lost interest in the obscure and off side of cinema.

His monologue in "Blade Runner" (1982) has become a pivotal point in cinema history.

Rutger Hauer will be sadly missed.
R. I. P.

The "Internet Movie Database" is honoring Hauer's legacy with a video:
https://www.imdb.com/list/ls048189845/videoplayer/vi2875702297


Sources:
https://variety.com/2019/film/news/rutger-hauer-dead-dies-blade-runner-co-star-1203278050/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutger_Hauer
https://www.imdb.com/list/ls048189845/videoplayer/vi2875702297

2019-07-15

Streaming-Kino: Theatre of Blood (1973) - Vincent Price

Part four of "Streaming-Kino" - this time we go deep into British black humour territory: Douglas Hickox' dark, tragic and grotesque classic "Theatre of Blood"!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Theatreofbloodposter.jpg
It's Shakespeare all over the place, it's British to the utmost, it's got Vincent Price, and the murders are outrageous. "Not to be" has never been that much stomach-turning fun.