We have to be clear about this: There are bad movies; there are reprehensible movies; there are movies that make you consider taking out a contract on the entire DGA, just to be sure that never in the future of humankind will there be a chance that such an affront to common decency could again be committed. And then there are films that are a strangely exhilarating kind of awful, the kind that actually restore your faith in the perverse diversity of the human race, that re-instill your wonder in the awesome chaos of the universe, that, as the slogan for Temple of Bad has it, are truly a religious experience. Such a film is A TALKING CAT!?! A putative family comedy that isn’t funny (at least not in a deliberate way) and that would likely rupture any family unfortunate enough to be exposed to it, this film starts with the premise that people would listen to a cat that dispenses cryptic directives in the voice of Eric Roberts, and then throws such niceties as narrative coherence, plausible characterization, decent production values, and commonsense behavior out the window in its attempt to fill its scant eighty-five minutes with something that justifies its existence.
The Temple of Bad team of Andrea Lipinski, Orenthal V. Hawkins, Kevin Lauderdale and Dan Persons get together to try to puzzle out some method behind A TALKING CAT!?!’s madness (spoiler: they don’t succeed). Click on the player to hear the show.
In Dossier Fantastique, Volume 5, Number 32, Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski analyze SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR. They also look at recent home video releases: THE WALKING DEAD, THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE on Blu-ray; and the 1980s version of THE TWILIGHT ZONE on DVD. Finally, after the closing credits, they forget to turn off the recorder and eventually wander off into a discussion of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE.
Sometimes doing the job is reward in itself. That’s what it was like for me to talk with Greg Nicotero. From DAWN OF THE DEAD to BREAKING BAD, from ARMY OF DARKNESS to OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, from HOSTEL to SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR, his vivid and creative makeup effects work has brought the fantastic, the grotesque, and the sometimes-just-plain-realistic to a dazzling kaleidoscope of film and TV projects.
That includes THE WALKING DEAD, the blockbuster TV series which scooped up a couple of primetime Emmy awards for Nicotero’s work in bringing the flesh-hungry walkers to gruesome… uh, life? Death? Anyway, in honor of the release of the complete fourth season on DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday, we got some time with Greg to talk about the finer points of zombie nurturing and care. Click on the player to hear the show.
It’s time to expand your Sense of Wonder by opening Dossier Fantastique! Volume 5:31 reveals data points on current theatrical releases THE GIVER and LIFE AFTER BETH. Listen in as special guest Andrea Lipinski joins the Cinefantastique Podcasting team of Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski for an insight-filled discussion of the latest dystopian science fiction film – which may seem like a variation on THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT but which was actually based on a novel published before either of those franchises were a glimmer in their author’s eyes. Also available are details on this week’s home video releases.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES got nothing to worry about. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES doing quite well, thank you very much. Got the big-budget, Michael Bay treatment (he’s the producer on this one; Jonathan Liebesman directed); came in #1 at the box office this past weekend; has the almost inevitable sequel already in the works. Yup, life is good for TMNT. Unless, of course, the attending audience happened to see GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY last week. In which case, there might have been quite a few people coming out of the theater thinking, Nice try, but it doesn’t quite cut it.
In two weeks, we’ve had two films that want nothing more than to entertain us with some adrenaline-packed, fantastic storytelling. How each goes about the task, and how successful each is, says a lot about the filmmakers, how they regard this genre, and what they think of their audience. I explore the issue a bit in my review of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES for Jim Freund’s HOUR OF THE WOLF. Click on the player to hear the segment, or right-click the title to download.
LISTEN TO HOUR OF THE WOLF
EVERY THURSDAY AT 1:30 AM
ON WBAI 99.5FM IN NEW YORK CITY
Let the hate mail begin!
In the grand tradition of Cinefantastique (dating back at least to the magazine’s review of STAR WARS), Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski rake the blockbuster box office hit GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY over the coals in this week’s Dossier Fantastique Podcast. Sure, it’s far from the worst movie ever made, nor does it deserve the unqualified adulation heaped on it by fans and critics alike. But at least Rocket the Raccoon is cute – and funny!
Afterwards, the CFQ podcasters offer a 50th anniversary appreciation of the low-budget science fiction film THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964), directed by Terence Fisher. And of course there’s the usual rundown of the week’s home video releases, including DIVERGENT, OCULUS, and 30th anniversary Blu-ray disc of Brian DePalma’s PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974).
Welcome to August, the month when studios, having already fired off all their high-profile (not to mention high concept) summer guns, unleash what amounts to their second tier of releases, the stuff that doesn’t automatically trigger broad media attention, things with a more… “culty,” shall we say?… appeal, and things that are, let’s just say it, no durn good. However, since even the big tent-poles can now be somewhat inconsequential in their story-telling and quality (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, anyone?), it’s become less surprising that a dog-day release could have been just as welcome, if not more so, in the weeks preceding.
Such is the case with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, a fun space adventure based on a Marvel comic book that racked up record box office in its opening week, and earns its goodwill in a number of ways. I take a look at the film in my latest review for Jim Freund’s HOUR OF THE WOLF — click on the player to hear the segment, or right-click on the title to download.
LISTEN TO HOUR OF THE WOLF
EVERY THURSDAY AT 1:30 AM
ON WBAI 99.5FM IN NEW YORK CITY
Dossier Fantastique Volume 5, Number 28 opens to reveal data on this week’s horror, fantasy, and science fiction movies, television, and home video. Cinefantastique podcaster Lawrence French out-muscles HERCULES and explores the optics of I ORIGIN. Meanwhile, Steve Biodrowski attempts to apply 100% of his brain to LUCY, then visits HEMLOCK GROVE for its second season. After that, it’s a look at what’s new on DVD and Blu-ray, including NOAH – the best film of the year so far.
The Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast, Volume 5, Number 27 explores the dystopian horrors of THE PURGE: ANARCHY. This sequel takes the premise of THE PURGE (2013) and plays it out on a larger canvas, exploring territory that the original only suggested. Is that enough to satisfy those frustrated by THE PURGE’s home invasion scenario? Listen in to find out, as podcasters Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski debate the merits of debate the merits of vicariously purging your anti-social tendencies by watching this moviefrom Blumhouse Productions and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes.
It’s raining sharks, hallelujah! Or maybe whether you’re making that exclamation depends on how highly refined your appreciation of irony is. Yes, SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE is here, moving the mayhem to New York (to the producers’ credit, largely the real New York), larding the proceedings with copious cameos (hallloooo Andy Dick, Perez Hilton, Al Roker, etc, etc.), and wasting no time in throwing airborne maneaters at hapless victims (why are there sharknados? Who cares — look, SHARKS!).
One of the major players trying to avoid becoming shark bait is Dante Palminteri, son of Chazz and making his major(?) film debut with this role. In this exclusive interview, he takes us behind the scenes of this landmark cinematic event, certain to be the most monumental film of Summer 2014. Okay, my ironyometer just shorted out, sorry. I’m going to go watch HARLAN COUNTY, USA to recover.