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

Archive for February, 2012

David Naughton

David Walsh Naughton (born February 13, 1951) is an American Actor and singer best known for his starring roles in the 1981 horror film ‘An American Werewolf in London’, the 1980 Walt Disney comedy, ‘Midnight Madness’, the 1984 comedies ‘Hot Dog… The Movie’, ‘Not for Publication’ and the mid-80’s CBS sitcom ‘My Sister Sam’.

Naughton first became widely known as a result of his singing and dancing appearances in Dr Pepper TV commercials. He starred in the sitcom ‘Makin’ It’ and hit the Billboard Top Ten in 1979 with the show’s theme song, a US million selling disc. In 1980 he starred in ‘Midnight Madness’ followed in 1981 by his lead role in the Academy Award-winning horror film An American Werewolf in London.

An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 British-American horror-comedy film, written and directed by John Landis, and starring  David Naughton, Jenny Agutter and Griffin Dunne.

The film starts with two young American men, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) on a backpacking holiday in Northern England. Following an awkwardly tense visit to a village pub, the two men venture deep into the moors at night. They are attacked by a werewolf, which results in Jack’s death and David being taken to a London hospital. Through apparitions of his dead friend and disturbing dream sequences, David becomes informed that he is a werewolf and will transform at the next full moon.

Shooting took place mostly in London but also in Surrey and Wales. It was released in the United States on August 21, 1981 and grossed $30.56 million at the box office. Critics generated mostly favourable reviews for the film. The movie won the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film. Rick Baker’s various prosthetics and fake, robotic body parts used during the film’s painful, extended werewolf transformation scenes and on Griffin Dunne when his character returns as a bloody, mangled ghost impressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences so much that the film won the Outstanding Achievement in Make-up in the category’s inaugural year.

During the body casting sessions, the crew danced around David Naughton singing, “I’m a werewolf, you’re a werewolf … wouldn’t you like to be a werewolf, too?” in reference to his days as a pitchman for Dr Pepper.

The film was one of three high-profile wolf-themed horror films released in 1981, alongside The Howling and Wolfen. Over the years, the film has accumulated a cult following and is been referred to as a cult classic… It’s the best werewolf movie ever.

Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky (born February 12, 1969) is an American film director, screenwriter and producer. He attended Harvard University to study film theory and the American Film Institute to study both live-action and animation filmmaking. He won several film awards after completing his senior thesis film, “Supermarket Sweep”, which went on to become a National Student Academy Award finalist.

Aronofsky’s feature debut, ‘Pi’ was shot in November 1997. The low-budget, $60,000 production, starring Sean Gullette, was sold to Artisan Entertainment for $1 million, and grossed over $3 million; Aronofsky won the Directing Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and an Independent Spirir Award for best first screenplay.

Aronofsky’s follow up, ‘Requiem for a Dream’, was based on the novel of the same name written by Hubert Selby, Jr. The film depicts different forms of addiction, leading to the characters’ imprisonment in a world of delusion and reckless desperation that is subsequently overtaken and devastated by reality. Following three seasons in the lives of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), Harry’s girlfriend Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly), and Harry’s friend Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans). The film received an Academy Award nomination for Ellen Burstyn’s performance.

After turning down an opportunity to direct Batman Begins and writing the World War II horror film Below, Aronofsky began production on his third film, ‘The Fountain’. The film received mixed reviews and performed poorly at the box-office, but has since garnered a cult following.

With his fourth film, ‘The Wrestler’, both of the film’s stars, Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, received Academy Award nominations. Rourke also won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor and Bruce Springsteen won for Best Original Song. In 2010 Aronofsky was an executive producer on ‘The Fighter’; and in 2011 his fifth feature film, ‘Black Swan’, received further critical acclaim and was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, four Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, a record 12 Broadcast Film Critics nominations and a Directors Guild nomination.

Aronofsky will next  direct an HBO series pilot called ‘Hobgoblin’. Announced on June 16, 2011, the series will depict a group of magicians and con artists who use their powers of deception to defeat Hitler during WWII. Aronofsky will work on this project with Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon and his wife Ayelet Waldman. Aronofsky will also produce an upcoming horror film, ‘XOXO, written by Mark Heyman. His next directorial film project will be his long-rumored project Noah, a re-telling of the Bible story of Noah’s Ark. Thus far, the $115 million film has secured funding and distribution from New Regency and Paramount.

Requiem for a Dream – Poster Art

The Woman in Black – Producer Interview

Hammer Films and their television series have been a staple of visual delight for all ages for over seventy years and we owe it all to the late William Hinds who started the company in its humble beginnings during 1934.

Hammer’s movies contained a dynamic recipe of elements that included vampires, werewolves and unknown entities that creep around in the night that intelligent scientists, swashbuckling adventurers and Everyman heroes faced, combined with this writer’s personal favorite – saucy, scantily dressed buxom women.

Check out this Starburst Magazine interview with Simon Oakes and Nigel Sinclair of Exclusive Media, the duo behind the new Hammer Film, The Woman In Black.

American Horror Story – Jessica Lange

Belated congratulations to Jessica Lange for her Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards. Check out the poster for season 2 of American Horror Story… you’ll need old school 3D glasses.

Lon Chaney Jr.

Lon Chaney, Jr. (February 10, 1906 – July 12, 1973), born Creighton Tull Chaney, was an American character actor. He was best known for his roles in monster movies and as the son of legendary silent film actor, Lon Chaney. He is notable for portraying Lennie Small in ‘Of Mice and Men’  and Larry Talbot The Wolf Man’.

Creighton was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the son of silent film star Lon Chaney and Frances Cleveland Creighton Chaney, a singing stage performer who traveled in road shows across the country with Creighton. His parents’ troubled marriage ended in divorce in 1913 following his mother’s scandalous public suicide attempt in Los Angeles. Young Creighton lived in various homes and boarding schools until 1916, when his father (now employed in films) married Hazel Hastings and could provide a stable home. Many articles and biographies over the years report that Creighton was led to believe his mother had died while he was a boy, and was only made aware she lived after his father’s death in 1930. Lon always maintained he had a tough childhood.

From an early age, he worked hard to get out of his famous father’s shadow. In young adulthood, his father discouraged him from show business, and he attended business college and became successful in a Los Angeles appliance corporation.

It was only after his father’s death that Chaney started acting in movies, beginning with an uncredited role in the 1932 film ‘Girl Crazy’. He appeared in films under his real name until 1935, when he began to be billed as “Lon Chaney, Jr.” From 1942 onward, he was billed simply as “Lon Chaney,” although the “Jr.” was often added by others when they referred to him. Chaney first achieved stardom and critical acclaim in the 1939 feature film version of Of Mice and Men, in which he played Lennie Small. Chaney was asked to test for the role of Quasimodo for the 1939 remake of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, however, the role went to Charles Laughton.

With his third-billed character role in ‘One Million B.C.’ as Victor Mature’s caveman father, Chaney began to be viewed as a character actor in the mold of his father. He had in fact designed a swarthy, ape-like Neanderthal make-up on himself for the film, but production decisions and union rules prevented him from following through on emulating his father in that fashion. Put under contract by Universal Pictures Co. Inc., Chaney was cast in ‘Man Made Monster’, a science-fiction horror thriller originally written with Karloff in mind. This lead to Chaney’s signature role in ‘The Wolf Man’, a role which would typecast him for the rest of his life.

He maintained a career at Universal horror movies over the next few years, replaying the Wolf Man in ‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man’, ‘House of Frankenstein’, ‘House of Dracula’, ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’, Frankenstein’s monster in ‘The Ghost of Frankenstein’, Kharis the mummy in ‘The Mummy’s Tomb’, ‘The Mummy’s Ghost’ and ‘The Mummy’s Curse’. He also played the title character in ‘Son of Dracula’. Chaney is thus the only actor to portray all four of Universal’s major monsters: the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, and the vampire son of Count Dracula. Universal also starred him in a series of psychological mysteries associated with the ‘Inner Sanctum’ radio series. He also played western heroes, such as in the serial ‘Overland Mail’, but the imposing 6-foot 2-inch, 220-pound actor more often appeared as heavies. After leaving Universal, where he made 30 films, he worked primarily in character roles in notable films like ‘High Noon’, and in more prominent roles in lower-budget films and television shows.

One of his most talked-about roles was a live television version of ‘Frankenstein’ on the anthology series ‘Tales of Tomorrow’, for which he allegedly showed up drunk. During the live broadcast, Chaney, playing the Monster, apparently thought it was just a rehearsal and he would pick up furniture that he was supposed to break, only to gingerly put it back down while muttering, “I saved it for you.”

He became quite popular with baby boomers after Universal released its back catalog of horror films to television in 1957 and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine regularly focused on his films.

In the 1960s, Chaney’s career ran the gamut from horror productions such as Roger Corman’s ‘The Haunted Palace’ and b-movie fodder such as ‘Hillbilly’s in a Haunted House’ and ‘Dr. Terror’s Gallery of Horror’s’ (both 1967). His bread-and-butter work during this decade was television — where he made guest appearances on everything from ‘Wagon Train’ to ‘The Monkees’ — and in a string of supporting roles in low-budget Westerns for Paramount. In 1962 Chaney got a brief chance to play Quasimodo in a simulalcrum of his father’s make-up, as well as return to his roles of the Mummy and the Wolf Man on the television series ‘Route 66’ with friends Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. Also during this era, he starred in Jack Hill’s ‘Spider Baby’ (filmed 1964, released 1968), for which he also sang the title song.

In later years he battled throat cancer and chronic heart disease among other aliments after decades of heavy drinking and smoking. In his final horror film, ‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’ (1971), directed by Al Adamson, he played Groton, Dr. Frankenstein’s mute henchman.

Chaney died of heart failure at age 67 on July 12, 1973 in San Clemente, California. His body was donated for medical research.

Blade Runner – Deckard NOT returning

Alcon Entertainment, the producer/financier teaming with director Ridley Scott to return to the world of the 1982 science fiction classic Blade Runner, is adamantly denying a web report claiming original star Harrison Ford is in early talks to return as replicant hunter Rick Deckard. Andrew Kosove, who runs Alcon with Broderick Johnson, said he and his partner couldn’t sit by as the unsubstantiated report spread like wildfire all over the world. That’s the downside of the digital world, where reports spread virally.

“It is absolutely patently false that there has been any discussion about Harrison Ford being in Blade Runner,” Kosove said. “To be clear, what we are trying to do with Ridley now is go through the painstaking process of trying to break the back of the story, figure out the direction we’re going to take the movie and find a writer to work on it. The casting of the movie could not be further from our minds at this moment.”

Kosove said they didn’t want in any way to disparage an iconic actor like Ford, but it certainly sounds as though they do not plan to continue his story line. “It’s like asking if we’re going to make the sky red or blue, there has been no discussion about it,” he said. “What Ridley does in Prometheus is a good template for what we’re trying to do. He created something that has some association to the original Alien, but lives on its own as a standalone movie.” Asked point blank if Ford could resurface, Kosove said: “In advance of knowing what we’re going to do, I supposed you could say yes, he could. But I think it is quite unlikely.”

Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow (born Maria de Lourdes Villiers Farrow on February 9, 1945) is an American actress, singer, humanitarian, and fashion model.

Farrow first gained wide acclaim for her role as Allison Mackenzie in the soap opera Peyton Place, and for her subsequent short-lived marriage to Frank Sinatra. An early film role, as the woman pregnant with Satan’s baby in 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby, saw her portrayal nominated for many awards.

Rosemary’s Baby is a 1968 American horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the bestselling 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The cast includes Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Maurice Evans and Charles Grodin.

Farrow plays a pregnant woman who fears that her husband may have made a pact with their eccentric neighbours, believing he may have promised them the child to be used as a human sacrifice in their occult rituals in exchange for success in his acting career.

Polanski envisioned Rosemary as a robust, full-figured, girl-next-door type, and he wanted Tuesday Weld or his own wife Sharon Tate for the role. Since the book had not reached bestseller status yet, Evans was unsure the title alone would guarantee an audience for the film, and he felt a bigger name was needed for the lead. Patty Duke was considered for the lead (and ironically, would play the role of Rosemary during a brief sequence at the beginning of the TV movie ‘Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby’ (1976), in which Ruth Gordon was the only actor to reprise her role from the 1968 movie). Mia Farrow had an unproven box office track record, but her role as Allison MacKenzie in the popular television series Peyton Place and her unexpected marriage to Frank Sinatra had made her a household name.

Despite her waif-like appearance (which would ultimately prove beneficial, as Rosemary became more frail as her pregnancy progressed), Polanski agreed to cast her. Her acceptance incensed Sinatra, who had demanded she forgo her career when they wed, and he served her divorce papers via a corporate lawyer in front of the cast and crew midway through filming. In an effort to salvage her relationship, Farrow asked Evans to release her from her contract, but he persuaded her to remain with the project after showing her an hour-long rough cut and assuring her she would receive an Academy Award nomination for her performance.

The film was an enormous commercial success, earning over $33 million in the US on a modest budget of $2.3 million. It was met with near universal acclaim from film critics and earned numerous nominations and awards. The American Film Institute ranked the film 9th in their 100 Years… 100 Thrills list. The official tagline of the film is “Pray for Rosemary’s Baby.”

Farrow has appeared in more than forty-five films and won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe award (and seven additional Golden Globe nominations), five BAFTA Film Award nominations, and a win for best actress at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Farrow is also known for her extensive humanitarian work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She is involved in humanitarian activities in Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic. In 2008, Time magazine named her one of the most influential people in the world.

Rosemary’s Baby – More Poster Art

Rosemary’s Baby – Poster Art

ALIEN – By an 11 year old

ALIEN age 11 is a homemade comic, or graphic novel if you like! – commenced around late 1979 by an 11 year old. 32 years ago! It’s now a 2012 web-comic, check it out here.

This movie adaptation was made at the time that ALIEN hit theatres around the world but long before the underage artist had actually seen the film itself. That wouldn’t happen for 3 or 4 more years.

It’s brought to you by the maker of the popular Star Wars age 9 web-comic. Much of the artwork here is better – so not as silly – but it was done with nothing but an Alan Dean Foster novelisation with its few colour glossy photos as a visual reference, and a satire by Cracked Magazine that came out much later.

David Cronenberg – Interview

Exploding heads, Ballardian pile-ups – and a spot of spanking with Keira Knightley. Does David Cronenberg need therapy? No, he says: he’s just a regular guy…

Check out the Guardian interview.

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky, known as Alejandro Jodorowsky, (born 17 February 1929) is a Chilean-French filmmaker, playwright, actor, author, comic book writer and spiritual guru. Best known for his avant-garde films, he has been “venerated by cult cinema enthusiasts” for his work which “is filled with violently surreal images and a hybrid blend of mysticism and religious provocation.”

Born to Jewish Ukrainian parents in Chile, Jodorowsky experienced an unhappy and alienated childhood, and so immersed himself in reading and writing poetry. Dropping out of college, he became involved in theater and in particular mime, working as a clown before founding his own theater troupe, the Teatro Mimico, in 1947. Moving to Paris in the early 1950s, Jodorowsky studied mime under Etienne Decroux before turning to cinema, directing the short film ‘Les Tetes interverties’ in 1957. From 1960 he divided his time between Paris and Mexico City, in the former becoming a founding member of the anarchistic avant-garde Panic Movement of performance artists. In 1966 he created his first comic strip, Anibal 5, whilst in 1967 he directed his first feature film, the surrealist ‘Fando y Lis’, which caused a huge scandal in its native Mexico, eventually being banned.

His next film, the acid western ‘El Topo’ (1970), became a hit on the midnight movie circuit in the United States, considered as the first-ever midnight cult film, leading rock star John Lennon to provide Jodorowsky with $1 million to finance his next film. The result was ‘The Holy Mountain’ (1973), a surrealist exploration of western esotericism. Disagreements with the film’s distributor Allen Klein however led to both The Holy Mountain and El Topo failing to gain widespread distribution, although both became classics on the underground film circuit.

After a botched attempt at filming Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, Jodorowsky produced three more films, the family film ‘Tusk’ (1980), the surrealist horror ‘Santa Sangre’ (1989) and the failed blockbuster ‘The Rainbow Thief’ (1990). Since then, his attempts at producing further films have not come to fruition. Meanwhile, he has simultaneously written a series of science fiction comic books, most notably ‘The Incal’ (1981-1989), which has been described as having a claim to be “the best comic book” ever written, but also Technopriests and Metabarons. Accompanying this, he has also written books and regularly lectures on his own spiritual system, which he calls “psychomagic” and “psychoshamanism” and which borrows from his interests in alchemy, the tarot, Zen Buddhism and shamanism.

The only Jodorowsky films I’ve seen to date are El Topo, Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre, the images stay with you… For more information than I can possibly give, check out this site for clips, interviews and more.

Deckard back for Blade Runner sequel..?

Twitchfilm is reporting that Harrison Ford, yes Deckard himself, is in “early talks” to appear in a new Blade Runner film. In their article, TwitchFilm mention that “this is still very early stages and it is quite possible that things won’t work out.” They also mention, if Ford is being courted for the film, odds are it’s going to be some kind of sequel. Check out the article.

The Awakening – Trailer

Haunted by the death of the fiancé, Florence spends her time debunking supernatural claims, using methodical and rational explanations to disprove the notion that the dead can still haunt us. She feels compelled to accept a request to go to Rookwood, a boarding school in the countryside where a boy has recently been found dead and rumours about a ghostly boy haunting the school are causing panic amongst pupils and parents alike.

Florence sets to work immediately, laying traps, gathering scientific evidence, uncovering secrets and seemingly unravelling the mystery. However, as Florence is about to leave, she has a chilling spectral encounter which defies all of her rational beliefs and sets her on a journey toward a heartbreaking climax…

William S. Burroughs

William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be “one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century.” His influence is considered to have affected a range of popular culture as well as literature. Burroughs wrote 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews and correspondences. He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians, and made many appearances in films.

He was born to a wealthy family in St. Louis, Missouri, grandson of the inventor and founder of the Burroughs Corporation, William Seward Burroughs I. Burroughs began writing essays and journals in early adolescence. He left home in 1932 to attend Harvard University, studying English, and anthropology as a postgraduate, and later attending medical school in Vienna. After being turned down by the Office of Strategic Services and U.S. Navy in 1942 to serve in World War II, he dropped out and became afflicted with the drug addiction that affected him for the rest of his life, while working a variety of jobs. In 1943 while living in New York City, he befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the mutually influential foundation of what became the countercultural movement of the Beat Generation.

Much of Burroughs’s work is semi-autobiographical, primarily drawn from his experiences as a heroin addict, as he lived throughout Mexico City, London, Paris, Berlin, the South American Amazon and Tangier in Morocco. Finding success with his confessional first novel, Junkie (1953), Burroughs is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Lunch (1959), a work fraught with controversy that underwent a court case under the U.S. sodomy laws. With Brion Gysin, he also popularized the literary cut-up technique in works such as The Nova Trilogy (1961–64).

In 1983, Burroughs was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1984 was awarded the Ordre des Arts et Lettres by France. Jack Kerouac called Burroughs the “greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift,” a reputation he owes to his “lifelong subversion” of the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society, articulated in often darkly humorous sardonicism. J. G. Ballard considered Burroughs to be “the most important writer to emerge since the Second World War,” while Norman Mailer declared him “the only American writer who may be conceivably possessed by genius.”

Burroughs had one child in 1947, William Seward Burroughs III, wiith his second wife Joan Vollmer who died in 1951 in Mexico City. Burroughs was convicted of manslaughter in Vollmer’s death, an event that deeply permeated all of his writings. Burroughs died at his home in Lawrence, Kansas after suffering a heart attack in 1997.

Michael Beck

John Michael Beck Taylor (born February 4, 1949), commonly known as Michael Beck, is an American actor, perhaps best known for his role as Swan in the 1979 film, The Warriors.

Beck was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the third of nine children. He attended Memphis University School and Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, on a football scholarship. After graduating with a degree in Economics, he was one of 30 (out of 2,500) applicants chosen for London’s Central School of Speech and Drama. His stage credits, beginning with college, include: Camelot (he was King Arthur); and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. Besides acting, his hobbies include reading, music and cooking.

Michael Beck is predominantly known for his role as “Swan” in the Walter Hill classic cult action film ‘The Warriors’ (1979). The plot follows The Warriors from Coney Island, Brooklyn. Cyrus (Roger Hill), leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the most powerful gang in New York City, has requested all NY gangs to send nine unarmed representatives to Van Cortland Park, where Cyrus proposes the assembled crowd a permanent citywide truce that would allow the gangs to control the city. Most of the gangs laud his idea, but Luther (David Patrick Kelly), leader of the Rogues, shoots Cyrus and frames the Warriors. In the ensuing panic, the Warriors escape. Unbeknownst to the Warriors, however, the Riffs call a hit on them through a DJ (Lynne Thigpen), believing them responsible for Cyrus’ death. Swan (Michael Beck) takes charge of the group and they head back to the subway… Awesome.

Beck followed The Warriors with the role of “Sonny Malone” in ‘Xanadu’ (1980), and promptly ruined his career prospects. He followed that with b-movies such as ‘Megaforce’ (1982), and ‘Triumphs of a Man Called Horse’ (1982). (Both the Xanadu and Megaforce roles garnered him Razzie nominations for Worst Actor and Worst Supporting Actor respectively.) Beck also appeared in other b-movies such as ‘Warlords of the 21st Century’, ‘The Last Ninja’, ‘The Golden Seal’, ‘Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story’, ‘Rearview Mirror’, the 1984 TV movie ‘Blackout’, and ‘Wes Craven’s Chiller’ (as a cryogenically suspended sociopath). He also starred in a short-lived television series, ‘Houston Knights’ (1987). More recently, Beck has featured in the television shows ‘JAG’, ‘Robin’s Hoods’, Walker: Texas Ranger’ (in the episodes Flashpoint and A Difficult Peace), ‘In the Heat of the Night’ (TV Series), and as a Mars-born terrorist-turned-cyborg assassin “Abel Horn” in the science fiction TV series ‘Babylon 5’ 1994 episode “A Spider in the Web”, and as “Mr.Jones” in the spinoff series ‘Crusade’. 

Michael has narrated numerous audiobooks of John Grisham novels. He has also narrated Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz; A Darkness More Than Light by Michael Connelly; State of the Union by David Callahan; and the unabridged version of Bill Clinton’s My Life. He also lent his voice to the popular video game adaptation of The Warriors in 2005.

George A. Romero

George Andrew Romero (born February 4, 1940) is a Canadian-American film director, screenwriter and editor, best known for his gruesome and satirical horror movies about a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. He is the “Godfather of Zombies.”

Romero was born in New York City to a Cuban-born father of Castilian Spanish parentage and a Lithuanian American mother. Romero attended Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon University. After graduating in 1960, he began his career shooting short films and commercials. One of his early commercial films, a segment for ‘Mister Roger’s Neighborhood’ in which Mr. Rogers underwent a tonsillectomy, inspired Romero to go into the horror film business. He, along with nine friends, formed Image Ten Productions in the late 1960s, and produced ‘Night of the Living Dead‘ (1968). The movie, directed by Romero and co-written with John A. Russo, became a cult classic and a defining moment for modern horror cinema.

Three films that followed were less popular: ‘There’s Always Vanilla’ (19710, ‘Jack’s Wife / Season of the Witch’ (1972) and ‘The Crazies’ (1973) were not as well received as Night of the Living Dead or some of his later work. The Crazies, dealing with a bio spill that induces an epidemic of homicidal madness, and the critically acclaimed arthouse success ‘Martin’ (1977), a film that deals with the vampire myth, were the two well-known films from this period. Like many of his films, they were shot in or around Pittsburgh.

In 1978, Romero returned to the zombie genre with the greatest zombie movie EVER: ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1978). Shot on a budget of just $500,000, the film earned over $55 million worldwide and was named one of the top cult films by Entertainment Weekly in 2003. Romero made a third entry in his “Dead Series” with ‘Day of the Dead’ (1985).

Between these two films, Romero shot ‘Knightriders’ (1981), another festival favorite about a group of modern-day jousters who reenact tournaments on motorcycles, and the successful ‘Creepshow’ (1982), written by Stephen King, an anthology of tongue-in-cheek tales modeled after 1950s horror comics.

From the latter half of the 1980s and into the 1990s came ‘Monkey Shines’ (1988), about a killer helper monkey, ‘Two Evil Eyes’ (1990), an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation in collaboration with Dario Argento, the Stephen King adaptation ‘The Dark Half’ (1993) and ‘Bruiser’ (2000), about a man whose face becomes a blank mask.

Romero updated his original screenplay and executive produced the remake of Night of the Living Dead directed by Tom Savini for Columbia/TriStar in 1990. Romero had a cameo appearance in Jonathan Demme’s Academy Award-winning ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ in 1991 as one of Hannibal Lecter’s jailers.

Universal Studios produced and released a remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ in 2004, with which Romero was not involved. Later that year, Romero kicked off the DC Comics title Toe Tags with a six-issue miniseries titled The Death of Death. Based on an unused script that Romero had previously written as a sequel to his “Dead Trilogy,” the comic miniseries concerns Damien, an intelligent zombie who remembers his former life, struggling to find his identity as he battles armies of both the living and the dead. Typical of a Romero zombie tale, the miniseries includes ample supply of both gore and social commentary (dealing particularly here with corporate greed and terrorism — ideas he would also explore in his next film in the series, Land of the Dead). Romero has stated that the miniseries is set in the same kind of world as his ‘Dead’ films, but featured other locales besides Pittsburgh, where the majority of his films take place.

Romero, who lives in Toronto, ‘Land of the Dead’ there. The movie’s working title was “Dead Reckoning”. Its $16 million production budget was the highest of the four movies in the series. Actors Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, and John Leguizamo star in the film. It was released on June 24, 2005 to generally positive reviews.

Unlike most modern day zombie flicks, Romero’s contain a healthy dose of social commentary. Night of the Living Dead is a film made in reaction to the turbulent 1960s, Dawn of the Dead is a satire on consumerism, Day of the Dead is a study of the conflict between science and the military, and Land of the Dead is an examination of class conflict.

In June 2006, Romero began ‘Zombisodes’, broadcast on the Web, they are a combination of a series of “Making of” shorts and story expansion detailing the work behind the film ‘George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead’, which follows a group of college students making a horror movie in the woods, who stumble on a real zombie uprising. When the onslaught begins, they seize the moment as any good film students would, capturing the undead in a cinema verite style that causes more than the usual production headaches. The film was independently financed, making it the first indie zombie film Romero has done in years.

Romero’s last zombie film, ‘Survival of the Dead’ was intended to be a direct sequel to Diary of the Dead, but the film features a new cast of characters, and did not retain the first-person camerawork of Diary of the Dead.  and the majority of the story taking place on an island.

Romero says he has plans for two more Dead movies which will be connected to Diary of the Dead.

Frank Serpico

Francesco Vincent Serpico (born April 14, 1936) is a retired New York City Police Department officer who is most famous for testifying against police corruption in 1971. The majority of Serpico’s fame came after the release of the Sidney Lumet directed 1973 film ‘Serpico’ which starred Al Pacino in the lead role.

Serpico was shot during a drug bust on February 3, 1971, at 10:42 p.m., during a stakeout at 778 Driggs Avenue, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Four officers from Brooklyn North had received a tip that a drug deal was going down.

Two of the officers, Gary Roteman and Arthur Cesare, stayed in a car out front; the third, Paul Halley, was standing in front of the apartment building. Serpico got out of the car, climbed up the fire escape, watched from the roof, went in the fire escape door, walked down the steps, watched the heroin sale, listened to the password and then followed the two youths out.

The police jumped out at the two youths, one of whom had two bags of heroin. Halley stayed in the car with the two kids with the heroin after Roteman told Serpico, because he spoke Spanish, to make a fake drug buy to get the door open for the rest of them. The three officers went up the steps to the third-floor landing. Serpico knocked on the door, keeping his other hand inside his jacket on his 9mm Browning. The door opened a few inches, the chain still on. Serpico pushed and the chain snapped. It was enough for him to wedge part of his body in but the dealers on the other side were trying to close it. Serpico called out to his partners who did not come to help him.

Serpico was shot in the face at point blank range with a .22 LR handgun. The bullet penetrated his cheek just below the eye and lodged at the top of his jaw; he lost balance, fell to the floor, and began to bleed profusely. Serpico’s colleagues failed to place a “10-13”, a dispatch to police headquarters indicating that an officer has been shot. Instead, Serpico was saved by an elderly man who lived in an apartment adjacent to the one being used by the suspects; the man called emergency services and reported that a man had been shot, and then stayed with Serpico to help keep him alive until an ambulance arrived. A police squad car arrived prior to the ambulance, however, and the officers, unaware of the bloodied Serpico’s identity, took him to Greenpoint Hospital.

Serpico was deafened in his left ear by the gunshot, which severed an auditory nerve, and has suffered chronic pain from fragments lodged in his brain. Although he was visited the day after the shooting by Mayor John V. Lindsay and Police Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy, while he lay recovering in bed from his wounds, the police department harassed him with hourly bed checks. He survived, and ultimately testified in front of the Knapp Commission.

The circumstances surrounding Serpico’s shooting quickly came into question. Serpico, who was armed during the drug raid, had only been shot after briefly turning away from the suspect when he realized that the two officers who had accompanied him to the scene were not following him into the apartment, raising the question whether Serpico had actually been brought to the apartment by his colleagues to be executed.

Read more about the actual events here.

Carl Theodor Dreyer

Carl Theodor Dreyer, Jr. (3 February 1889 – 20 March 1968) was a Danish film director. He is regarded by many critics and filmmakers as one of the greatest directors in cinema.

Dreyer was born illegitimate in Copenhagen, Denmark. His birth mother was an unmarried maid named Josefine Bernhardine Nilsson, and he was put up for adoption by his birth father, Jens Christian Torp, a married Danish farmer living in Sweden who was his mother’s employer. He spent the first two years of his life in orphanages until his adoption by a typographer named Carl Theodor Dreyer, Sr., and his wife, Inger Marie (née Olsen). His adoptive parents were emotionally distant and his childhood was largely unhappy. But he was a highly intelligent school student, who left home and formal education at the age of sixteen. He dissociated himself from his adoptive family, but their teachings were to influence the themes of many of his films.

As a young man, Dreyer worked as a journalist, but he eventually joined the film industry as a writer of title cards for silent films and subsequently of screenplays. His first attempts at film direction had limited success, and he left Denmark to work in the French film industry. While living in France he mixed with Jean Cocteau, Jean Hugo and other members of the French artistic scene and in 1928 he made his first classic film, ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’. Working from the transcripts of Joan’s trial, he created a masterpiece of emotion that drew equally from realism and expressionism. Dreyer used private finance from Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg to make his next film as the Danish film industry was in financial ruin.

‘Vampyr’ (1932) is a surreal meditation on fear. The film was written by Dreyer and Christen Jul based on elements from J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s collection of supernatural stories In a Glass Darkly. Logic gives way to mood and atmosphere in this story of a man protecting two sisters from a vampire. The movie contains many indelible images, such as the hero, played by de Gunzburg (under the screen name Julian West), dreaming of his own burial and the animal blood lust on the face of one of the sisters as she suffers under the vampire’s spell.

Vampyr was challenging for Dreyer to make as it was his first sound film and had to be recorded in three languages. To overcome this, very little dialogue was used in the film and much of the story is told with silent film-styled title cards. The film was shot entirely on location and to enhance the atmospheric content, Dreyer opted for a washed out, fuzzy appearing photographic technique. The audio editing was done in Berlin where the character’s voices, sound effects, and score were added to the film.

Vampyr had a delayed release in Germany and opened to a generally negative reception from audiences and critics. Dreyer edited the film after its German premiere and it opened to more mixed opinions at its French debut. The film was long considered as a low part in Dreyer’s career, but modern critical reception to the film has become much more favorable with critics praising the film’s disorienting visual effects and atmosphere.

Both films were box office failures, and Dreyer did not make another movie until 1943. Denmark was by now under Nazi occupation, and his ‘Day of Wrath’ had as its theme the paranoia surrounding witch hunts in the sixteenth century in a strongly theocratic culture. With this work, Dreyer established the style that would mark his sound films: careful compositions, stark monochrome cinematography, and very long takes. In the more than a decade before his next full-length feature film, Dreyer made two documentaries. In 1955, he made ‘Ordet’ (The Word) based on the play of the same name by Kaj Munk. The film combines a love story with a conflict of faith. Dreyer’s last film was 1964’s ‘Gertrud’. Although seen by some as a lesser film than its predecessors, it is a fitting close to Dreyer’s career, as it deals with a woman who, through the tribulations of her life, never expresses regret for her choices.

Dreyer died of pneumonia in Copenhagen at age 79. The great, never finished project of Dreyer’s career was a film about Jesus. Though a manuscript was written (published 1968) the unstable economic conditions and Dreyer’s own demands of realism together with his switching engagement let it remain a dream.

Duane Jones

Duane L. Jones (February 2, 1936 – July 22, 1988) was an American actor, born on February 2, 1936, and a graduate of the Sorbonne, Jones studied acting in New York City. He was best known for his leading role as Ben in the classic 1968 horror film ‘Night of the Living Dead’. He was director of the Maguire Theater at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, and the artistic director of the Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art in Manhattan.

His role in 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead marked the first time an African American actor was cast as the star of a horror film. An independent black-and-white horror film directed by George A. Romero, it starred Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea and Karl Hardman; the movie premiered on October 1, 1968. Completed on a USD$114,000 budget, the film was a financial success, grossing $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally. Night of the Living Dead was heavily criticized during its release because of its explicit content, but received critical acclaim and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as a film deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” The plot of the film follows Ben Huss (Duane Jones), Barbra (Judith O’Dea), and five others trapped in a rural farmhouse in Pennsylvania while the house is attacked by re-animated corpses, commonly known as ‘ghouls’ and ‘zombies’. Night of the Living Dead is the origin of five other ‘Living Dead’ films directed by George A. Romero, and became the inspiration for two remakes.

Casting Jones as the hero was, in 1968, potentially controversial. At the time, it was not typical for an African-American man to be the hero of a film when the rest of the cast was composed of European-Americans. Social commentators saw that casting as significant; but Romero said that Jones “simply gave the best audition”.
He was executive director of the Black Theater Alliance, a federation of theater companies, from 1976 to 1981. He taught acting styles at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As executive director of the Richard Allen Center for Cultural Art (RACCA), he promoted African-American theater. After leaving the American Academy of Dramatic Arts he taught a select group of students privately in Manhattan, by invitation only. His hand-selected students were of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

He died of cardiopulmonary arrest at Winthorp-University Hospital on July 22, 1988.

The Duane L. Jones Recital Hall at State University of New York at Old Westbury is named after him. Up until his death, he proclaimed that he had never watched any of the other “Dead” films, nor any other George Romero picture, claiming that Night of the Living Dead was “his” time.

In the zombie graphic novel ‘The Walking Dead’ by Robert Kirkman one of the characters is named Duane Jones as an homage.

Martin Scorsese Interview

With Oscar Night is less than four weeks away, “Hugo” director Martin Scorsese talks to 60 Minutes about the picture that’s unlike any he’s done before. He talks to Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” here.

Michael C. Hall

Michael Carlyle Hall (born February 1, 1971) is an American actor whose television roles include David Fisher on the HBO drama series ‘Six Feet Under’ and Dexter Morgan on the Showtime series ‘Dexter’.

Hall was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. His mother, Janice Styons Hall, is a high school guidance counselor in Wake Forest, and his father, William Carlyle Hall, worked for IBM. Hall grew up an only child, a sister having died in infancy before his birth. He has said of growing up a single child, that “There was a very one-on-one, immediate family relationship, my mom and I”. His father died of prostate cancer in 1982, when Hall was 11 years old. Hall attended Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, graduating in 1989. He graduated from Earlham College in 1993 and had planned to become a lawyer. He later attended New York University’s Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1996.

Hall’s acting career began in the theatre. Off-Broadway, he appeared in Macbeth at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and in Henry V at The Public Theater, and the controversial play Corpus Christi at the Manhattan Theatre Club. He also performed in the workshop production of what was then known as Sondheim’s Wise Guys, later version of which was titled Road Show. He sang the role of Paris Singer; this character’s songs and function in the play were transferred to the character Hollis Bessamer in the final version of the play. In Los Angeles, he appeared in Skylight at the Mark Taper Forum.

In 1999, director Sam Mendes cast Hall as the flamboyant Emcee in the revival of Cabaret, his first Broadway role.

In 2003, Hall toured as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago. In 2005 he returned to Off-Broadway theater in the premiere of Noah Haidle’s Mr. Marmalade, playing the title character, an emotionally disturbed little girl’s imaginary friend.

Mendes suggested Hall for the role of closeted David Fisher when Alan Ball began casting the TV drama ‘Six Feet Under’. “Everything I opened up for Cabaret,” Hall reported in a 2004 interview, “I slammed shut for David.”

Hall’s work in the first season of Six Feet Under was recognized by an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and for an AFI Award nomination for Actor of the Year in 2002 for his role as David Fisher. In addition, he shared in the Screen Actors Guild Nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series all five years that the show was in production, winning the award in 2003 and 2004.

Hall is currently starring in and co-producing the Showtime television series Dexter, in which he plays the titular character, a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department who moonlights as a vigilante serial killer. The series also casts Hall’s ex-wife, Jennifer Carpenter as his foster sister, Debra Morgan. The series premiered on October 1, 2006 and its sixth season began on October 2, 2011. For his work on Dexter, Hall has been nominated for three more Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The show itself was also nominated for a 2008, 2009 and 2010 Emmy in the Drama series category. He won the 2007 Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama. Hall was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Drama in 2007, and again in 2008  finally winning the award at the 67th Golden Globe Awards in 2010. Also in 2010, he won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series.

On January 13, 2010, his agent and spokesman confirmed that he was undergoing treatment for a treatable form of Hodgkins lymphoma. Hall accepted his Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award in 2010 while wearing a knitted cap over his bald head, having lost his hair due to the chemotherapy treatment he was undergoing at the time. On April 25, 2010, Carpenter announced that Hall was fully cured and was set to get back to work for a new season of Dexter.

Season 6 premiered on October 2, 2011. Michael C. Hall was nominated for Best Leading Actor in a Drama series at the 2011 Emmy Awards, but did not win the category. On November 18, 2011, it was announced that Dexter had been renewed for both a seventh and eighth season.