As my grandmother always said, “No one said life would be easy“.
Independent Chicago filmmaker John Borowski, most famous for his “somewhat recently” completed trilogy of “historical horror” of which includes H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer (2004), Albert Fish: In Sin He Found Salvation (2007), and Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance (2012) has moved away from the subject of profiling individual serial killers themselves to focus on (more…)
One of my all-time favorite sports films has always been HOOSIERS (1986), starring Gene Hackman and Barbara Hershey, about a small town high school basketball team from Indiana that becomes a top contender for the championship and makes it to the state finals. The film is uplifting, inspirational, and a real tear-jerker. I, personally, played basketball since I could hold a ball and grew up in a family that was centered around sports, having had (more…)
Produced and directed by J.N. Lee, PAD YATRA: A GREEN ODYSSEY is a documentary executively produced by Hong-Kong and International Action Star (as well as a former Bond girl) Michelle Yeoh that follows a group of 700 people on an adventure to trek across the Himalayas to the (more…)
I grew up watching the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies even though my parents would not allow me to watching any sort of PG-13 (back then in the early ’80s it was only PG or R-RATED) type content or R-RATED films, so I would go to my friend’s house whose mother did not care to deal with her only child’s temper tantrums and let him watch or do almost anything he wanted. Thanks to this friend’s mother I was first introduced to FRIDAY THE 13TH Part 2 and 3 at a tender young age of 6 or 7 years old, thus beginning my obsession and fascination with (more…)
Actor, Director, Cameraman, Editor, and Producer MICHAEL LEE STEVER so graciously had a chance to talk with Shu about several of his latest freelance film projects such as SATURDAY NIGHTMARES: The Ultimate Horror Expo of All Time! (2010), RESURRECTING CARRIE (2012), and most recently, a short film on actress Jan Broberg entitled JAN BROBERG’S GUIDE TO THESPIANS, SOCIOPATHS, & SCREAM QUEENS! To check out the video, head over (more…)
In a short video I feel is worth mentioning, Director/Actor Michael Lee Stever (SATURDAY NIGHTMARES: THE ULTIMATE HORROR EXPO OF ALL TIME!, RESURRECTING CARRIE) is at it again making short mini-docs on some smaller names in film and garnering some unique footage and angles to some horror-themed topics of interest. Granted, as of this post, I still have not seen the MANIAC (2012) remake starring Elijah Wood, Nora Amezeder, and Jan Broberg but am more intrigued to (more…)
Young filmmaker Kyle Kuchta has finished the trailer for his upcoming documentary on horror conventions entitled FANTASM. Now the arduous task of editing all the footage from the six conventions he traveled to has begun. Check out the trailer (more…)
A statement on the genocide of Native Americans in the United States by European ancestors? An allegory for the Holocaust? Stanley Kubrick’s hidden confession for staging the moon landing? What really was going on in THE SHINING, a film that was adapted from a Stephen King best-selling novel? Was there really anything going on? Is ROOM 237, a documentary that was an official selection at Sundance, Cannes, and New York Film Festivals, all just a bunch of conspiracy theories voiced in a 102 minute film?
I can’t really say for sure that (more…)
Most everyone in my circle of friends has either seen, or at least heard of, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979), a film about a family moving into a house that its previous owners had been murdered in. The family got the house dirt-cheap, start experiencing weird manifestations and things start to happen that would make one believe evil spirits or ghosts occupy the house and are unhappy with its newest residents. Although this film is based on the true story of the Amityville House and its murders that occurred in 1974 where Ronald DeFeo, Jr. (known as Butch) was tried and convicted of murdering his mother, father, two sisters, and two brothers by shooting them with a rifle. DeFeo was found guilty on six accounts of 2nd-degree murder. He was sentenced to six concurrent sentences of 25 years to life. Still to this day, DeFeo is (more…)
The haunting of the Lutz family in Amityville, NY in 1975 has fascinated movie audiences for over 35 years. IFC Midnight’s unnerving and revealing new documentary MY AMITYVILLE HORROR is Daniel Lutz’s firsthand account of the haunting he believes terrorized his family the year they moved into the infamous house on 112 Ocean Avenue.
IFC FILMS is going to be releasing MY AMITYVILLE HORROR in select theaters (more…)
Being a longtime fan of horror, cult, and exploitation films of many years (whether I really knew it or not), taking one’s film obsession to the next level generally involves attending a horror convention at some point down the line. Having attended my very first convention of any kind during my teenage years (comic convention) and having been to a dozen of horror and entertainment events since, I was familiar with fanatic fans and collectors gathered around many like-minded individuals to feed their addiction through purchases, meeting their idols, getting their autographs, and taking photos of and with the stars of the trade. SATURDAY NIGHTMARES is (more…)
I have always been fascinated with the myth that is the “snuff film”. Frankly, with all the messed up murders and deaths that have been captured on films for various reasons, I can’t believe that no one has created a film that comprises of a victim being murdered and recorded for profit or one’s enjoyment. After all, just this week a man was caught eaten off the face of another man while high on bath salts or some other intensely dangerous drug. Cannibalism being covered in the news more than once this week seems pretty bizarre but not all too shocking so why should the mythology of the snuff film be nothing more than that: mythology. (more…)
The Bad Brains were one of the most influential punk rock bands that I listened to (along with Minor Threat) when I was growing up in Chicago and its suburbs. I was fascinated that a genre of music that mostly had white dudes screaming protests and wailing on their guitars had in its circle a group of four black punk rockers from D.C. that totally blew away anyone in the punk scene that heard them. I can’t think of a more influential punk rock album than the Bad Brains’ 1982 self-titled album. The 15 or so tracks on that album are filled with so much energy and anger, compelling one to just going ballistic with new-found energy and strength. I first heard the Bad Brains while researching punk in books and zines, chatting with fellow punk rockers and getting their recommendations. I remember one older punk rocker telling me you haven’t heard punk until you have heard the Bad Brains first album. Later that day, I ordered the cassette tape from ROIR Records from their photocopied catalog I had sent away for via the mail. (more…)
I contacted Ilko Davidov, one of the directors of CIMMFest (Chicago International Movies & Music Festival) happening April 12-15th in the Wicker Park and Logan Square neighborhoods of Chicago because I just recently reviewed a documentary of his (STORY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL COMICS) and he offered to send me some review screeners and links to preview the films and offer my critique of them at SHU-IZMZ. I looked through the website to see what films were playing and picked about twenty of them that I was curious to view.
The first of these films watched was (more…)
WORST IN SHOW is one of those documentaries that works so well no matter if one gives a flying fuck about dogs, or pets of any kind, for that matter. I, myself, think dogs are cool but would only have one if it didn’t act like a dog because I have a hard enough time cleaning up after my own mess let alone a dog’s. Why does this documentary work so well? It works so well because even though the dogs are the stars of this film they really aren’t. They aren’t the stars because they can’t talk; they don’t do anything in the documentary but sit there in their owner’s arms or laps. The stars of this film are the owners and I only say that because their personalities are so strong—some of them strong in a very bad way (or simply hilarious way!). (more…)
DVD REVIEW: MORE BRAINS! A RETURN TO THE LIVING DEAD (2011)
MORE BRAINS! A RETURN TO THE LIVING DEAD is the most exhaustive documentary, to this date, that I have seen on any particular movie to this day. The film is over 240 minutes long, filled with a plethora of extra features and featurettes. The documentary, narrated by Brian Peck (“Scuz” from ROTLD) and directed by Bill Phillput (KILL YOURSELF: THE MOVIE, HIS NAME WAS JASON: 30 YEARS OF FRIDAY THE 13TH, NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY), is the only definitive, in-depth look at one of my favorite zombie films of all time. The film is considered a cult classic, taking the legacy of George A. Romero’s zombie films and giving them a large does of comedy injected into them, filled with plenty of gore, scares, and laughs. This documentary digs deep into the bowels of the film and the filmmaking process, which created one of the most memorable zombie films to this day.
The use of very atmospheric set pieces and backgrounds used during the interviews, set pieces and props from the film as well as cartoon animation and comic book-style fonts and artwork complementing the various segments gave the whole feature a very refreshing and fun look to the documentary. Some docs can get so dry and dull, filled with interview after interview and no break in the testimonies (such as PAURA: LUCIO FULCI REMEMBERED Vol. 1) and the viewer loses interest, no matter how interesting the subject matter is. A good documentary needs to have visuals and edits filled with clips or photos to illustrate further what the individual speaking is talking about…or else things get pretty dry pretty fast.
Thankfully, most of those involved on the film chose to be a part of the documentary, including Clu Gulager, Don Calfa, James Karen, Tony Gardner, Thom Matthews, Brian Peck, Dan O’Bannon, Miguel A. Nunez Jr., Linnea Quigley, Beverly Randolph, John A. Russo, and Jewel Shepard. For the most part, I think all the influential characters and crew were represented in the doc.
Since this documentary is on RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, already a very fun and fast-paced horror film it would only be fitting for it if the documentary also had some of the style and pace of its original subject matter. While some docs just have static shots, never deviating too much from the individual speaking but director Philputt has crafted a movie that is better intended for the short-attention span viewer, one that may be suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. The use of piecing together the various answers to off-screen questions from various individuals and adding them all together to paint a vivid picture through various sources to answer the same question or describe the same event is genius. Just because I love a film does not mean I would like to be bored to death by every little detail and aspect of it in a documentary. Thankfully, Bill Philputt sees it that way, too.
This is not the first documentary Philputt has directed that I have seen. Upon looking up him in IMDB.com I was surprised to find that he directed, wrote, and produced the movie about the New York hardcore thrash band S.O.D. (Stormtroopers of Death), entitled KILL YOURSELF: THE MOVIE. I love the band S.O.D. (as well as M.O.D. fronted by Billy Milano as well as fellow-thrashers Anthrax) and the documentary followed S.O.D. around for a year while they toured, as well as filming all the antics and craziness that happened behind the screen. I can see from watching MORE BRAINS! that Philputt has a way with crafting a solid documentary that keeps things visually and aurally appealing through its use of sharply edited scenes and use of music.
Sadly director Dan O’Bannon died more than two years prior to this doc having been made and it was very memorable to hear the final interview that O’Bannon gave within the film. The movie also plays as sort of a memorial to the great writer, responsible for writing ALIEN, ALIENS, and TOTAL RECALL (to name just a few) and ROTLD is the first feature he directed- one of only two films.
Brian Peck did a wonderful job narrating the film and one can tell that the actor had so much fun and fond memories, filling the screen up with his exuberating personality. The film does an incredible job at going in-depth in regards to the off-screen questions being asked, describing specific situations in great detail. The film does not cut any corners. I enjoyed the manner in which MORE BRAINS! goes into the personal aspects of each player involved with making the movie, adding some spice and panache to the whole back-story of the film. For instance, I never knew that one of the actors was homeless when he earned the role, or that one of the actresses was discovered in a strip club dancing just before getting a role in the film.
Some of my favorite portions of the film were the lengthy discussions on one particular scene where actress Linnea Quigley performs her infamous stripping scene in which all involved discuss the full-frontal nudity in the film and the actors’ responses to that specific scene filmed in the movie. I, personally, have fond memories of that very scene and it seems many cast members did as well.
If over 2 hours of testimonies and insight into ROTLD with all of the actors, actresses, and filmmakers involved (those still living—R.I.P. Dan O’Bannon and Mark Venturini) isnt’ enough, then how about an additional 2 hours of extra features, including a look at the sequels to ROTLD, Parts 2 and 3, as well as the final interview with the late Dan O’Bannon, a return to the filming locations of ROTLD, and a music video by Stacie Q performing the hit song, “Tonight”, which was used in the film.
MORE BRAINS! is a documentary that does a great job at digging deep into the high-points and low-points during the filming process, including doing in-depth into how it came about that the original zombie make-up artist working on the film had to be fired. The documentary also serves as a nice study on what low-budget filmmakers working on a small budget (around a few million dollars) have to go through. Dan O’Bannon has worked in Hollywood writing screenplays but this is his first job directing a movie.
I highly recommend viewing this incredibly in-depth and interesting doc on one of the most influential zombie films ever created incorporating elements of comedy. Presented by Michael Perez Entertainment and Hutson Ranch Media, one can head over to the website www.getmorebrains.com for further info on the film, as well as viewing a trailer for it.
Now, I personally am kind of a geek when it comes to movies (really guys? YEAH!) and the Oscars are coming up this Sunday, the 27th of February, and although I love independent film and nasty horror, cult, exploitation, and sexy porn titty flicks- I really can’t wait to see the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Yeah, I suck. Now, there are a few reasons that I really am getting a raging hard-on over this year’s Oscars…but it mostly not really because of most of the films themselves, it is because I am very curious to see James Franco and Anne Hathaway host the awards ceremony, primarily because they are pretty damn young and I think it will be hilarious if they start messing up and get goofy. Both Franco (32 years old) and Hathaway (28 years old) are younger than me. I think of it sort of like if the cast of Jersey Shore were to host the Oscars, mainly Snooki and “The Situation“. Is that a great comparison- not really. I do think that if they were to host it there would sure be a lot of viewers in the 12 yr. old to 28 yr. old range…right?
So, we got some young blood hosting the Oscars. Franco is being nominated for 127 Hours and has a bit more “street credit” than Hathaway, in my mind. He did a great job in Spiderman. He made me laugh out-loud in Pineapple Express. Sadly, I have not seen 127 Hours but I think that is just because I am not that into “cave movies”. I mean, The Descent was good stuff, but after seeing The Cave, I am just tired of them. Yeah, it only took me 2 movies. I guess The Goonies is the other “cave film” that I can really think of off-hand…I am not counting Sanctum because I have not seen it. Sanctum is Australian and James Cameron is attached with it so the budget may be pretty big, but I am still not very interested to see it. Really, are there tons of “cave movies” I am forgetting or are there really not many made. I am talking about movies that more than half of the film takes place in a cave. I guess I could mention some flicks like Quest for Fire that have cave scenes in them or some cannibal films or even a few cave scenes in The Ruins and Turistas (which are underwater)…but wait-127 Hours has NOTHING to do with a cave. It is about a rock-climber that gets trapped under a boulder…So, why the hell did I just waste time on thinking of “cave movies”??!?! I have no idea. I guess caves, boulders, and rocks are all from the same family of things that are hard. No, I am not talking about some nasty porno- just things of the geologic nature. Oh, and speaking of geology, the huge monster made of rock in The NeverEnding Story, more commonly known as the Rock Biter or Pyornkrachzark, can be thrown into the mix as well.
I guess I should really mention the main reason for watching the Oscars: Banksy. Now, the elusive graffiti artist probably will not be making an appearance because if he did he would have to be masked so his identity would not be revealed and, more importantly, the authorities probably want to nab him for a large amount of acts of vandalism on private property. Vandalism that some consider artwork and others consider fine art. Some of his shit is going for half a million dollars! That is pretty awesome. If his identity were to be revealed, I am sure the prices for everything would start dropping and it would be extremely hard for him to continue doing more artwork all over the cities he visits.
So, what will happen at the Oscars? I don’t really know, but aside from some movies that I thought were mildly interesting, there may be some creativity in how the producers wish to proceed. I hear that there will be a history of the Academy Awards going on with computer visuals and things of that nature. That sounds interesting, especially for a major movie buff like myself. After all, Hollywood is full of remakes and reinterpretations right now, but it also is putting out some cool shit. I actually dug The Social Network, even though as far as films David Fincher has directed, it probably is one of his weaker films, but I may change my mind after repeated viewings over time. It definitely has appeal because of the world’s obsession with Facebook and, well, social networking. If you are reading this online, my bet is that you have a Facebook account, just like me. I am addicted to Facebook just like millions of other users. In fact, I have Facebook open on another tab as I am writing this post on SHU-IZMZ this very moment.
So, back to Banksy. Exit Through the Gift Shop is one of the most interesting and compelling documentaries that I have ever seen on grafitti. I have only really seen a couple of them (Graffiti Verite, Style Wars, and Wild Style) and even those I saw really didn’t go with the artist as he/she went into the night throwing pieces up in some of the most peculiar and random places. Also, Mr. Brainwash is probably one of the most interesting idiots full of himself to ever grace the screen of a documentary. The dude, Thierry Guetta, is a major ‘tard. That is all I have to say on that.
In hindsight, I have no idea why I really even wrote this post. I guess the main reason is to inform readers that I am watching the Oscars this Sunday and anyone that wants to watch them with me, just call me up on my cell. If you have a HD tv with a high-def cable package, it sure beats the hell out of my lo-def tv set up that I currently have. Getting a high-def tv is next on my list of things to acquire. So, in summation, I am watching the Oscars because it is being hosted by children, may have a graffiti artist in a mask show up, and I really don’t have anything else to do Sunday night but watch some television and see who wins what.
Here is a link to all of the Oscar nominations:
Check out the trailer for Exit Through the Gift Shop below:
Breaking Glass Pictures has announced the April 5 DVD release of director Mark Claywell’s documentary “American Jihadist.” The Slamdance “Best Doc” winner follows American-born Muslim militant Isa Abdullah Ali and his life story. The documentary has played at over a dozen film festivals and won Best Documentary at last year’s Slamdance. Isa Abdullah Ali is an American soldier, a family man, and a Jihadist. Calling one all three of those things seems to me to be a colossal contradiction and I am sure that will be one thing looked at and probably discussed during the course of the film. Ever since 9/11, I have been personally interested in learning more about those individuals whose faith and religion is hell-bent on destroying my place of birth, the beloved United States. Well, at times there are injustices and key elements that even I may disagree or find to be wrong, but having some democracy in one’s nation is a wonderful thing.
I am very interested to get a hold of this film and see what it’s all about. Aside from gory horror films, I am a total geek for a well-made documentary. At times, I almost prefer to watch documentaries over horror films. The sole reason is that I love to learn about new ideas, values, customs, and regions. Documentaries serve as a breeding ground for knowledge and are excellent learning tools for those that do not like reading books. They make learning that much more fun and video footage always can tell so much more in a far quicker span of time than reading a few pages of a book can. I love reading too, but sometimes I want a quick stimulating story told in about two or three hours than I want to read a thick, lengthy book that may take well over a day or two to read if read straight through. That is my personal mantra on why documentaries rule!
The following is the documentary’s synopsis courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures:
American soldier. Family man. Jihadist. Isa Abdullah Ali is a person of many identities and contradictions, but in the beginning, he was a bullied young boy growing up in America’s capital. At fifteen he joined the American army, and as a young man he converted to Islam and fought alongside the Amal militia and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Though the details of his past are murky, Isa claims to have killed more than 150 people in the fight to defend his faith.
Through Isa’s own words and those of family members, psychologists and political experts, this award-winning documentary attempts to decode the social and personal influences that can lead an individual down a path to radicalism. American Jihadist reaches beyond easy labels to grasp the nuances behind one man’s decision to fight — and kill — for his religion.
The DVD will also include behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Check out the trailer here:
Source: Breaking Glass Pictures