by Travis Vogt
True story: I once worked at a stock brokerage in Los Angeles for a year. This was about three centuries ago. It was an online day-trading operation—big tech meets big finance. Traders drove corvettes, did coke, talked openly about employing hookers; all of the stereotypes from movies were true, except I really like most of my co-workers. They were extreme, but friendly. Except for my boss, Ross. He made his first million while still in college and was the alpha-est of the alphas. When I started working there, the only way I ever knew he existed was during internet outages, when he’d bellow “ANSWER THE FUCKING PHONES!” in the deepest, most imposing voice imaginable. He was capable of unbelievable cruelty, like nothing I’d ever seen, particularly towards an upper-management toady named Keith, who was nature’s perfect abuse absorber. I once observed Ross throwing a stapler at Keith, narrowly missing his head, and then shouting “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY SIGHT BEFORE I LITERALLY MURDER YOU!”
by Evan J Peterson
On Tuesday, February 2nd, join us for the next installment of our SHRIEK: Women of Horror Film class. This time, we’ll focus on The Countess, written and directed by Julie Delpy and starring Delpy as the titular protagonist (and killer). This is the first film I’ve selected that isn’t well known, and I’ve selected it intentionally in order to focus on more horror films created by women.
Sweet Trash /The Hang Up (1970, John Hayes)
Probably my greatest cinematic pleasure of 2015 was finding out about the films of John Hayes, a totally unheralded trash auteur. This double feature disc features Sweet Trash, a fragrant little gem that plays like Al Adamson directed an Arthur Miller adaptation of Alphaville, and The Hang Up, about a vicious, racist, homophobic cop who tries (unsuccessfully of course) to turn over a new leaf when he meets an underage prostitute. Hayes’ best films share a focus on men being incrementally poisoned by their own thwarted, meager desires, and an almost quotidian bleakness created by his accidental combination of cheap ineptitude, stilted earnestness, and generally unvarnished inhumanity.
by Greg Carlson
Movie-oriented T-shirt culture has grown by leaps and bounds over the last twenty-some years. Did you ever think there would be a time when someone would create a Martin Scorsese shirt consisting only of his last name, rendered in the same typeface used for the Scorpions logo? Not only has the shirt been popular among the film crowd, but it was featured in an unrelated major motion picture (Funny People, of all things.) Back in the pre-Internet days, if you wanted a Texas Chain Saw Massacre T-shirt, and the local authorities weren’t immediately alerted, you would have to go down to the independently-owned clothing boutique in the sketchy part of town, and muster up the courage to ask the intimidating-looking clerk if there was one available in your size. Nowadays, you have literally hundreds of options – a quick Google Images search proves that you don’t have to be satisfied with the standard “official logo across the chest” tee. Do you look good in yellow? No problem, option #17 is Leatherface in silhouette on a yellow tee. Want a design that imagines Leatherface as four suit-and-sunglasses-wearing criminals, a la Reservoir Dogs? Click on option #32. Your options aren’t even limited to the star of the movie anymore – you can show how much of a TCSM fan you are by wearing a shirt adorned with Leatherface’s brother/revered chili chef Drayton Sawyer.
by Travis Vogt
I understand why Hollywood is constantly remaking and reimagining popular properties. It’s a pretty shallow artistic choice, but there’s solid business logic behind it: people liked the movie once; maybe they’ll toss their money at it again when it’s revamped and modernized. Also, name recognition is huge. The entire blockbuster model these days is based on familiarity. Creating new characters and scenarios can risky. Besides, going back to the well works. Eight of the top ten biggest moneymakers of 2015 were sequels or franchise extensions (the other two, The Martian and Inside Out, came from a best selling novel and a beloved brand name).
The problem is, remakes only make sense on paper. Amazingly, it turns out nobody wants to see a sterile, PG-13 remake of Robocop, Total Recall or Point Break. The obvious reason for the failure of these kinds of movies is that the original movies already got the job done. I don’t know if you’ve watched Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop lately, but it’s not exactly a groaning, musty old snore-fest. It’s still as brutal and hilarious as it ever was. Everyone still loves Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, because he nailed it the first time. Red Dawn can’t get any more wonderfully bonkers.
So how about this for an idea: if film executives insist on being lazy and derivative, how about remaking failed movies with great premises?