Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for February, 2012

Ken Foree

Kentotis Alvin “Ken” Foree (born February 29, 1948) is an American actor probably most famous as the hero Peter in the George Romero classic ‘Dawn of the Dead’.

Foree was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He began acting in the 1970s, appearing in the 1976 film ‘The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings’ (No, I haven’t seen it), ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1978) and ‘The Wanderers’ (1979). He also had roles in the films ‘Knightriders’ (1981), ‘From Beyond’ (1986) and ‘Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” (1990). In 1995 he starred in an X-Files episode.

He had a cameo in the remake of Dawn of the Dead in 2004. In 2005, he played Charlie Altamont in the Rob Zombie film ‘The Devil’s Rejects’, starring opposite Sid Haig and Bill Moseley, as the adopted brother of Haig’s character.

He appeared in director Rob Zombie’s 2007 film, ‘Halloween’ a remake of the 1978 classic horror film. Foree’s upcoming roles include another appearance for Zombie in ‘The Lords of Salem’.

He has appeared in numerous low-budget horror over the last few years, ‘Brotherhood of Blood’ (2005), ‘The Devil’s Den’ (2005), ‘Splatter Disco’, ‘Black Santa’s Revenge’, ‘Brutal Massacre: A Comedy’ and ‘Live Evil’ (all 2007); as well as ‘Dead Bones’ (2008) and ‘Zone of the Dead’ (2009).

The horror film comedy ‘Shaun of the Dead’, a parody of the zombie movie genre, has a subtle reference to him. The film’s main character is an employee of “Foree Electronics”. He regularly appears at horror festivals and even has an event named in his honour: Foree Fest

Ken Foree appeared as himself in the 2008 novel Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry. Foree is one of several real-world horror celebrities who are in the fictional town of Pine Deep when monsters attack. Other celebrities include Tom Savini, James Gunn, Debbie Rochon and blues man Mem Shannon.


Dick Smith – Honorary Academy Award

The most important Oscar awarded at this years ceremony was an Honorary Award for Dick Smith.

The haunting leer of a demonically possessed girl in “The Exorcist” (1973) is one of the more terrifying examples of the work of makeup artist Dick Smith. Widely considered the 20th century’s maestro of movie makeup and affectionately called the Godfather of Makeup, Smith has influenced and inspired generations of artists. He has gladly shared his secrets with up-and-comers in the field as well as elevated the standards of the craft, both of which helped to establish makeup as a respected discipline of the cinematic arts.

Filmmakers have consistently turned to Smith for persuasive renderings of time’s effects on the human body.  For artfully aging F. Murray Abraham from his forties to his eighties in “Amadeus” (1984), Smith shared the Academy Award® for Makeup with Paul LeBlanc. He earned his second Oscar® nomination for making a spry 65-year-old Jack Lemmon a persuasive octogenarian in “Dad” (1989), and created an iconic masterpiece with the jowly look of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” (1972).

Though his fantastical creations for such films “Altered States” (1980), “Scanners” (1981) and “Starman” (1984) pack a punch, Smith steadfastly believes in making movie magic look natural. His artistry is often unnoticed – and that’s just the way he wants it. “A good makeup doesn’t look like makeup,” he has said.

After spending his early childhood in suburban Larchmont, New York, Smith was pre-med at Yale University, majoring in zoology. In his sophomore year, his life took a dramatic turn when he happened to pick up a textbook detailing makeup tricks used in Hollywood. Smith began doing makeup for the theater group at Yale and roamed the campus at night in comical monster makeup of his own design, giving the unwary a playful scare.

Smith got his professional start as the first staff makeup artist for the fledgling NBC television network, pioneering techniques using foam latex and plastic for what were initially live broadcasts. His tenure as makeup director spanned from 1945 to 1959 and he expanded from a staff of one to 25.

After 14 years, Smith moved on to movies. In short order he was sculpting the face of Anthony Quinn’s battered boxer in “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962), making a dozen stunt doubles resemble the stars of “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” (1963) and helping Peter Sellers become strikingly handsome for “The World of Henry Orient” (1964). Remarkably, for almost 40 years he would create all of his effects in his basement studio in Larchmont, flying to the set with the makeups whenever shooting began.

In 1965, Smith penned the seminal Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-up Handbook, which protégé Rick Baker credits as inspiration for his own illustrious career. By 1967, Smith had returned to television, working on such projects as Dan Curtis’s classic vampire series “Dark Shadows.”

Smith’s method of gluing on multiple foam latex appliances in overlapping pieces permits actors their full range of facial expressions. His technique was demonstrated to marvelous effect in “Little Big Man” (1970), which transformed Dustin Hoffman from a man in his early 30s to age 121. At that time, single-mold masks were still widely used and Smith became a Galileo of sorts, shunned within the insular community of professional makeup artists. Today, he is recognized as one of those rare artists who opened new avenues of expression for others.


Ali Larter

Alison Elizabeth “Ali” Larter (born February 28, 1976) is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for playing the dual roles of Niki Sanders and Tracy Strauss on the NBC science fiction drama ‘Heroes’ as well as her roles in several horror films.

Born in Cherry Hill, New Jersey; she attended Carusi Middle School and later graduated from Cherry Hill High School West during her time as a model. Larter began her modelling career at the age of 14 when a modelling scout discovered her on the street and was asked to star in a Phillies commercial, this led to a modelling contract with the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency in New York. Larter subsequently skipped her senior year to model in Australia, Italy and Japan.

While modelling in Italy, Larter met fellow model and aspiring actress Amy Smart and the two “became instant friends”, according to Larter. A modelling job later took her to Los Angeles, whilst there, she decided to take acting classes with Smart.

Larter’s screen debut came in the 1999 film ‘Varsity Blues’, followed by the horror films ‘House on Haunted Hill’, the movie was panned by critics, but grossed $15 million on its opening weekend and went on to earn over $40 million overall. This was followed by ‘Final Destination’.

Larter starred as one of the main characters, Clear Rivers, in the teen supernatural horror film; the movie’s premise followed several teenagers who survive a plane crash but are stalked and killed by death itself. Final Destination made $112 million by the end of its theatrical run which ensured 4 sequels! She reprised her role as Clear Rivers in the immediate sequel ‘Final Destination 2.’

Larter moved back to Los Angeles in 2005. Her first audition was for the NBC science-fiction television series ‘Heroes’. Larter played the characters of Niki Sanders, who suffered from dissociative identity disorder, and Tracy Strauss. Larter’s initial character Niki Sanders, was a wife, mother, and a former internet stripper from Las Vegas who exhibits superhuman strength and alternate personalities who go by the names of Jessica and Gina. The series collected a number of accolades in its first season including a Peoples Choice Award and nominations from the Emmy and Golden Globes.

Larter achieved wider fame after her portrayal of video game heroine Claire Redfield in the successful Resident Evil franchise, co-starring in the films, ‘Resident Evil: Extinction’ and ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’.

The latter movie was not well received by critics with the Philadelphia Enquirer stating the movie “lacks the humanity – interesting characters, funny one-liners – that made its predecessors enjoyable B-movies.” The movie was an international success nonetheless, earning $296 million worldwide and becoming Larter’s highest grossing picture to date


The Moth Diaries – Trailer

Since the release of American Psycho in 2000, director Mary Harron has made only one feature, the 2005 release The Notorious Bettie Page. She’s hardly been idle, and has put a great amount of television work on her resume in the past decade. But now Harron returns to the big screen as the director of a gothic thriller called The Moth Diaries.

Harron scripted the film based on Rachel Klein‘s 2001 novel in which the boarding school friendship of Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) and Lucy (Sarah Gadon) is fractured by the arrival of Ernessa (Lily Cole). Adolescence is and always will be a time of intense emotional confusion, especially if you spend it in a closed environment. That’s the case with Rebecca, a young girl haunted by her father’s suicide, who is a student at an exclusive female boarding school. She pours her heart out in a diary, much of it focused on Lucy, her beloved roommate. Their relationship changes drastically with the arrival of a mysterious new student, Ernessa. As Lucy abandons her for this new girl, Rebecca becomes consumed with thoughts of jealousy and suspicion — Ernessa is dangerous, evil, a vampire. Is there any truth to all this or is Rebecca slipping into insanity?


Dante Ferretti

Dante Ferretti (born 26 February 1943) is an Italian production designer, art director and costume designer for film.

In his career, Ferretti has worked with many great directors, in America and hos native Italy; such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini, Terry Gilliam, Franco Zefferelli, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Anthony Minghella and Tim Burton. He frequently collaborates with his wife, set decorator Francesca lo Schiavo. Ferretti was a protégé of Federico Fellini, and worked under him for five films. He also had a five collaboration with Pier Paolo Pasolini and later developed a very close professional relationship with Martin Scorsese, designing seven of his last eight movies.

Among his major triumphs include the movies: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, commonly referred to as Salò, a controversial 1975 Italian film written and directed by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini. It is based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade. Because of its scenes depicting intensely graphic violence, sadism, and sexual depravity, the movie was extremely controversial upon its release, and remains banned in several countries to this day. It was Pasolini’s last film; he was murdered shortly before Salò was released.

The Name of the Rose, a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is a Franciscan friar who are called upon to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval abbey. The sets add to the sense of dread and deception.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a 1992 American Gothic-horror-romance directed and co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Bram Stoker. Gary Oldman apart, the movie is laden with wooden performances, however the sets and look of the movie are exceptional.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles is a 1994 American horror-drama directed by Neil Jordan, based on the 1976 novel by Anne Rice. The film focuses on the homo-erotic relationship between vampires Lestat and louis, beginning with Louis’ transformation into a vampire by Lestat in 1791. The film chronicles their time together, and their turning of a twelve year old Creole girl, Claudia, into a vampire. The narrative is framed by a present day interview, in which Louis tells his story to a San Francisco reporter. Once again, beautiful art direction and sets dominate the film.

Gangs of New York is a 2002 historical drama set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City directed by Martin Scorsese. Made in Cinecitta Studios in Rome, and nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. In order to create the sets that Scorsese envisioned, the production was filmed on the largest stages in Cinecitta. Production designer Dante Ferretti recreated over a mile of mid-nineteenth century New York buildings, consisting of a five-block area of Lower Manhattan, including the Five Points slum, a section of the East River waterfront including two full-sized sailing ships, a thirty-building stretch of lower Broadway, a patrician mansion, and replicas of Tammany Hall, a church, a saloon, a Chinese theater, and a gambling casino. For the Five Points, Ferretti recreated George Catlin’s painting of the area.

In 2008, he designed the set for Howard Shore’s opera The Fly, directed by David Cronenberg, at the Theatre du Chateletin in Paris.

Ferretti won two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction for The Aviator and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He is nominated at this years awards for Hugo, he has had nine previous nominations. In addition, he was nominated for Best Costume Design for Kundun.


LEGO – Bill the Butcher

Cool LEGO model of Bill the Butcher from Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.


Anthony Burgess

John Burgess Wilson (25 February 1917 – 22 November 1993) – who published under the pen name Anthony Burgess – was an English author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic.

The dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is Burgess’s most famous novel, though he dismissed it as one of his lesser works. It was adapted into a highly controversial 1971 film by Stanley Kubrick, which Burgess said was chiefly responsible for the popularity of the book. Burgess produced numerous other novels, including the Enderby quartet, and Earthly Powers. He was a prominent critic, writing acclaimed studies of classic writers such as William Shakespeare, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway. In 2008, The Times newspaper placed Burgess number 17 on their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. Burgess was also an accomplished musician and linguist. He composed over 250 musical works, including a first symphony around age 18, wrote a number of libretti, and translated, among other works, Cyrano de Bergerac and Carmen.

His dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962. It was inspired initially by an incident during the Second World War in which his wife Lynne was robbed and assaulted in London during the blackout by deserters from the U.S. Army. The event may have contributed to her subsequent miscarriage. The book was an examination of free will and morality. The young anti-hero, Alex, captured after a short career of violence and mayhem, undergoes a course of aversion therapy treatment to curb his violent tendencies. This results in making him defenseless against other people and unable to enjoy some of his favorite music that, besides violence, had been an intense pleasure for him.

In the non-fiction book Flame Into Being (1985) Burgess described A Clockwork Orange as “a jeu d’esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence.” He added “the film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me till I die.” Near the time of publication the final chapter was cut from the American edition of the book. Burgess had written A Clockwork Orange with twenty-one chapters, meaning to match the age of majority. “21 is the symbol of human maturity, or used to be, since at 21 you got to vote and assumed adult responsibility,” Burgess wrote in a foreword for a 1986 edition. Needing a paycheck and thinking that the publisher was “being charitable in accepting the work at all,” Burgess accepted the deal and allowed A Clockwork Orange to be published in the U.S. with the twenty-first chapter omitted. Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was based on the American edition, and thus helped to perpetuate the loss of the last chapter.

In Martin Seymour-Smith’s Novels and Novelists: A Guide to the World of Fiction, Burgess related that he would often prepare a synopsis with a name-list before beginning a project. Seymour-Smith wrote: “Burgess believes overplanning is fatal to creativity and regards his unconscious mind and the act of writing itself as indispensable guides. He does not produce a draft of a whole novel but prefers to get one page finished before he goes on to the next, which involves a good deal of revision and correction.”