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.

2019-05-30

"Dawn Of The Dead" and "Trauma" uncut in Germany!

Great news for German horror fans: giallo shocker "Trauma" (1993) by Dario Argento, and zombie uber-classic "Dawn Of The Dead" (1978) by George A. Romero have been removed from German "Index", now allowing legal uncut releases in Germany.

https://www.schnittberichte.com/news/pics2/dawn-of-the-dead-nicht-mehr-beschlagnahmt.jpg

2019-03-30

Joseph Pilato dies at age 70

Captain Henry Rhodes, played by Joseph Pilato in George A. Romero's zombie classic "Day Of The Dead" (1985), is one the most iconic figures in all of horror cinema. Pilato as Rhodes is to horror cinema what Sean Connery is to undercover agent films, Sylvester Stallone to boxing films, or Juergen Prochnow to naval war movies: the definitive incarnation of the character he's supposed to be, where the actor becomes synonymous with his role, the one that sets the standard in it's class.

Never before or after has the army-general-gone-mad been portrayed more boldly, Joseph Pilato made it look as if the man was physically burning on the inside. Pilato plays Rhodes, a character driven by fear and despair, full of hatred and impatience, with such grotesque intesity, you're shocked, and break into laughter at the same time.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRWbg8A3rDg

This is not your average gun crazy soldier - this man has serious issues. He feels the ground slipping away beneath his feet, his own redundancy imminent, unable to adjust and cooperate. In the end, when it all falls apart, all that's left for him is to sacrifice himself for his narrow minded cause: "Choke on them!"

Joseph Pilato's screen time in "Day Of The Dead" is one of the (many) outstanding features of the film, a perfect match for George A. Romero's comic strip inspired style of direction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BKJHtobSvE


Joseph Pilato passed away on March 24th 2019 at age 70.
R.I.P.



Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Pilato

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0683334/

https://twitter.com/tedgeoghegan/status/1110250966606065670

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/joseph-pilato-day-of-the-dead-captain-rhodes-dies-at-70

2019-03-27

The Amusement Park (1973) - George A. Romero's unreleased film

They're only very few, but those few who have seen it are deeply impressed, if not shocked, by it. Now a group of people is working on bringing "The Amusement Park" to a wider audience.

It's not a zombie film, but a scary one, about aging and society. And from what we can read in the few sources we have it really stirs up your guts - here's what film scholar Tony Williams, Professor and Area Head of Film Studies in the Department of English at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, had to say about it in the (only) "Cinema Spectrum" issue from 1980:

"... it is one of the most radical indictments of American callousness towards the vulnerable members of its society ... What gives THE AMUSEMENT PARK its edge is its keen combination of fantasy and realism in an allegorical condemnation of selfish materialism ... The film is too powerful for American society. It must never be released but kept in obscurity. ..."

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DrrbbYCV4AAScl0.jpg

Nowadays, writer Daniel Kraus, who has worked with Guillermo Del Toro, had a chance to watch the film, and made a couple of ecstatic tweets about it - here's one from Nov. 2018:

"With the exception of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD - maybe - THE AMUSEMENT PARK is Romero’s most overtly horrifying film. Hugely upsetting in form & function."

And here's another one:

"It's hellish."

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Drr_EjoWsAMa-np.jpg

So, in other words, as you may have guessed: everybody needs to see this! And, yes, Daniel Kraus and the George-A.-Romero-foundation are working towards a 4K restoration!

Keep your eyes open for "The Amusement Park" - if we have any news for you we'll post it immediately. See "Sources" section below for more links and some more detail information.

An IMDB page has been created, but it doesn't give much information yet: 
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9270362/

If you want to help getting "The Amusement Park" released to the public, you can make a donation here:
https://www.georgearomerofoundation.org/the-amusement-park/restore-the-amusement-park




Sources:

https://www.georgearomerofoundation.org


https://www.indiewire.com/2018/11/george-romero-the-amusement-park-restoration-1202019725/


https://birthmoviesdeath.com/2018/11/12/what-is-george-a.-romeros-the-amusement-park-actually-about

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3354783

https://geektyrant.com/news/exciting-details-on-george-a-romeros-unreleased-1973-horror-film-the-amusement-park-which-might-get-actually-released

https://twitter.com/DanielDKraus/status/1061401937499901953/photo/1


https://archive.org/details/CinemaSpectrum01Starbrite

http://sensesofcinema.com/author/tony-williams/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Kraus_(author)

2019-03-15

Streaming-Kino: Horror Express (1972) - Cushing, Lee, Savalas

Dritter Teil des "Streaming-Kinos": Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee und Telly Savalas gemeinsam in einem Film - nur schwer zu toppen.


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f8/Horrorexpress.jpg
Und mit Cushing, Lee und Savalas auch Helga Line, Alberto de Mendoza, und Alice Reinheart in diesem etwas schrillen, sehr unterhaltsamen Low-Budget Monster-Schocker.