George Romero interview

Further to my earlier post on tonight’s Creepshow screening, I note that the Toronto Star‘s Philip Brown has an interview with director George Romero worth reading here.

Romero on Hollywood remaking his classic horror films:

I try not to see them. I saw Dawn and thought it had lost its reason for being because there’s nothing about consumer society and what could they even say? Malls were already starting to close. And The Crazies? They even managed to turn that into a zombie movie.

Do you know that he lives in Toronto and now has dual citizenship? Who’d have thunk it.

 

 

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George Romero / Creepshow (1982)

Tomorrow night George Romero, famed director of such classics as Night of the Living DeadMartin, and The Crazies, is appearing for a Q&A at the TIFF Lightbox with previously mentioned Colin Geddes, followed by a screening of the Stephen King-scripted Creepshow. Creepshow is a horror classic intentionally referencing the dark humour of the classic EC horror comics. Nostalgic in a pleasant way, it’s worth checking out. Tickets are still available here. Note that this is just the start of TIFF’s comprehensive retrospective on the Pittsburgh auteur.

In case you haven’t seen Creepshow a million times (this was a perennial VHS rental for me growing up), here’s the trailer.

La Comtesse Perverse (1974)

Inconsistency, thy name is Jess Franco; for every classic like Eugenie: The Story of Her Journey into Perversion there is a dog like Paula Paula. For someone who has never seen one of Franco’s good films, she can be forgiven for wondering what all of the fuss is about. However, when Franco’s combination of freak-beat jazz scoring, buxom brunettes, bizarre plotting and euro-sleaziness comes together just right, the results are undeniable, which is certainly the case with La Comtesse Perverse.

The plot is one of many to rip off Richard Connell’s classic short story “The Most Dangerous Game”, wherein a rich, debauched aristocrat, bored of more traditional fare, has taken to hunting humans for sport.

In Franco’s case, a rich Countess and her sleazy husband prefer to first seduce their prey before hunting and ultimately eating them. The actresses are stunning–Lina Romay in particular. The photography is also beautiful, as is the Mediterranean setting. It appears that Franco had more of a budget to work with than normal, and he uses it well. Definitely worth checking out.

Three…Extremes (2004)

In the fine tradition of Two Evil Eyes, Black Sabbath, and Creepshow, Three…Extremes is a anthology of three separate horror shorts, each directed by a different director. Hong Kong’s Fruit Chan directs Dumplings, South Korea’s Park Chan-wook directs Cut and fan-favorite Takashi Miike directs Box.

Cut, the story of an extra who kidnaps and tortures a famous director and his wife is high on Grand Guignol but forgets to provide any reason for the audience to emotionally invest in the characters or the story. Dumplings, the story of a aging actress who takes to eating fetus-stuffed dumplings in an effort to regain her youthful vitality, is far more successful, recalling the best of the old gory EC comic stories. Box finds Miike uncharacteristically using restraint and suggestion to build suspense and a very perverse creepiness. All in all, worth checking out.

Here’s the trailer.

Diner (1982)

Feeling nostalgic, I re-watched Barry Levinson’s Diner last night, a film that only improves with each viewing. If I get my act together, I’ll do a follow-up post showcasing some screen caps because the clothes in this film are amazing–a sea of button-downs, pea coats and khakis. In the meantime, here is a link to S.L. Price’s “Much Ado About Nothing: How Barry Levinson’s Diner Changed Cinema, 30 Years Later” published in Vanity Fair. Price’s article has a lot of great info on the film and makes a very compelling case for Diner’s place in cinema history.

Yet no movie from the 1980s has proved more influential. Diner has had far more impact on pop culture than the stylistic masterpiece Bladerunner, the indie darling Sex, Lies, and Videotape, or the academic favorites Raging Bull and Blue Velvet. Leave aside the fact thatDiner served as the launching pad for the astonishingly durable careers of Barkin, Paul Reiser, Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, and Timothy Daly, plus Rourke and Bacon—not to mention Levinson, whose résumé includes Rain Man, Bugsy, and Al Pacino’s recent career reviver, You Don’t Know Jack. Diner’s groundbreaking evocation of male friendship changed the way men interact, not just in comedies and buddy movies, but in fictional Mob settings, in fictional police and fire stations, in commercials, on the radio. In 2009, The New Yorker’s TV critic Nancy Franklin, speaking about the TNT series Men of a Certain Age, observed that “Levinson should get royalties any time two or more men sit together in a coffee shop.” She got it only half right. They have to talk too.

What Franklin really meant is that, more than any other production, Diner invented … nothing. Or, to put it in quotes: Levinson invented the concept of “nothing” that was popularized eight years later with the premiere of Seinfeld. In Diner (as well as in Tin Men, his 1987 movie about older diner mavens), Levinson took the stuff that usually fills time between the car chase, the fiery kiss, the dramatic reveal—the seemingly meaningless banter (“Who do you make out to, Sinatra or Mathis?”) tossed about by men over drinks, behind the wheel, in front of a cooling plate of French fries—and made it central.

Also worth checking out is director Brian Koppelman’s article on Diner and its influence on his work in this month’s issue of Lucky Peach. Sadly, the article isn’t available online. However, if you haven’t read an issue of Lucky Peach, this is as good an excuse as any to buy one (it also includes a conversation between Anthony Bourdain and Elvis Mitchell where the two make fun of the movie, which makes for funny reading even if I disagree with their assessment).

And the famous sandwich scene: