Tricky situation this week: Two genre releases, but one, while good, is getting a very limited release to start; the other, while making it to more venues, doesn’t quite merit the attention. So we’re dipping into our 50th Anniversary archives to bring out a goody from 1962: BURN, WITCH, BURN (a.k.a. NIGHT OF THE EAGLE). The tale of college professor who comes to grief when he insists his wife quit employing supernatural forces to help him advance his career, the film boasts a script by Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson — based on Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife — some impressive performances (particularly by Janet Blair as the conjuring spouse), an overall handsome production, and, in the American release, a Paul Frees-voiced prologue that has to be heard to be believed.
This week’s main topic was proposed by Cinefantastique Online managing editor Steve Biodrowski and he joins Lawrence French and Dan Persons to discuss what works and what’s just a little silly in this little-known but very satisfying exercise in modern-day horror. Then Steve weighs in on the week’s (semi-)major release, the claustrophobic thriller ATM, and Dan gives his opinion on Morgan Spurlock’s elaborate documentary, COMIC-CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE.
For some, it is Valhalla; for others, it is a seething, roiling, chaotic pit of humanity. For many, I suspect, it’s a phenomenon just slightly more indecipherable than Naked Lunch. It is San Diego Comic-Con, and documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, with the help of Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, and aintitcool’s Harry Knowles, has endeavored to crack the code in COMIC-CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE. Rallying a massive production unit and focusing in on a handful of attendees that include a couple of aspiring artists, a costumer seeking to catch attention with her ambitious creations, and an old-school vendor wondering whether there are any comics left at the con — plus celebrity interviews from the likes of Kevin Smith, Guillermo del Toro, and Seth Rogen — Spurlock cuts through the myths of obsessive behavior, social awkwardness and bad hygiene (although there’s plenty of that, as well) to create a more human portrait of the people who have found pleasure and fulfillment in the worlds of genre media, and the event where they can let their geek flags fly.
Click on the player to hear my interview with Spurlock.