One among very few genuinely terrible films that are also justly famous, Blood Feast is the oft-cited progenitor of a certain strain of American cinema: the slasher film — or, more specifically, the splatter movie. Conceived by the briefly prolific, ultra-low-budget director Herschell Gordon Lewis (who will be forever known as the Godfather of Gore) — along with producer David F. Friedman — as an alternative to the commercially competitive genre of cheap-and-easy nudie flicks, the splatter movie was at the time even more disreputable than the soft porn film, ramping up the T&A with a new women-in-peril component. Gory murder scenes combined fake human blood and real animal entrails to sickening effect. Blood Feast is venerated by gorehounds and has a “so bad it’s good” reputation among horror buffs, but what’s really breathtaking about it is its shameless demonstration that, in the grand cinematic scheme, artistic merit, cultural influence, and commercial success have precious little to do with each other. Continue reading
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
We were entertaining at Deep Focus World Headquarters the other night. We had a friend over — not just a fan of oddball cinema (you should have seen her face light up when she spotted my Blu-ray copy of Lifeforce) but also a certified lover of accordion music. We didn’t have time to go full Holy Motors, but we did decide it would be fun to screen just the amazing Entracte, in which Denis Levant leads a band of accordionists through a church. Since I’m lazy, I dialed the movie up on Netflix instead of leaving the couch to hit the Blu-ray library. And as I was scanning forward through the movie, saying something like, “I don’t know why I even buy Blu-ray Discs anymore,” I noticed something very odd.
The Evil Dead gets unnecessarily updated in the debut feature film by director Fede Alvarez, who remakes the Sam Raimi original in contempo style. Alvarez’s version disposes of Raimi’s trademark sentimentality, replacing the young lovers at the heart of the first film with more worldly siblings, as big brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) heads out to that cabin in the woods among friends, determined to help his sister Mia (Jane Levy) detox after a near-death experience. When dumb buddy Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) starts reciting demonic incantations aloud in the basement, Mia’s harrowing withdrawal symptoms make perfect cover for her possession by formerly slumbering supernatural forces.
My ballot for the big Skandies/Muriels Greatest Films In History project. When in doubt over which films qualified as truly “great” on a comparative basis, I went for the ones that make me happiest or have left me the most shaken, especially when those qualities endure on repeat viewings. Bottom line: if my desert-island cinematheque only had room to store 20 feature films, I’d be pretty damned stoked if they were these 20.
- Sherlock Jr.
- The Passion of Joan of Arc
- King Kong
- Citizen Kane
- The Maltese Falcon
- Sullivan's Travels
- Out of the Past
- Singin' in the Rain
…plus 10 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.
Because I’m a web-stats nerd, I find it amusing and sometimes instructive to see which Google search terms actually bring traffic to my site. Per Google Analytics, here are the top 10 queries that landed web browsers at Deep-Focus.com for calendar 2011, sorted by the landing pages Googlers most often clicked through to. I will say this: the stuff you think people will search for, they don’t necessarily search for. I have no idea why anybody would end up here, for example, after searching for “waiting.” (Around 40 people did.) But nipples are an enduring favorite. (It was not a mistake to build an explanation of aspect ratios and theatrical exhibition around Keira Knightley’s nipples. Never bet against nipples, I say.)
10) “private parts”
Rape-revenge is the basest of movie formulas. What amounts to a social contract exists with the audience: during the first half of the film, you will experience the sadistic, brutal, misogynistic sexual abuse of an innocent, probably naïve young woman at the hands of cavalier thugs. And during the second half of the film, you will see this broken woman–this survivor–pull herself together long enough to exact a terrible revenge on those who wronged her.
Hey, the folks at First Look Studios sent me an extra copy of Sukiyaki Western Django on Blu-ray Disc, so I see no reason why I shouldn’t pass it along to someone who’s reading this. (U.S. and Canada only, sorry!) Take a look at the following images from Takashi Miike films. First one who sends me an email (at email@example.com) identifying each of the films, in order, gets the disc — again, sent to an address in the U.S. or Canada only.