A fantastic Indiegogo campaign for all fans of Planet of the Apes. For over a century, Makeup Artists have dazzled audiences by creating extraordinary characters and creatures on screen. They make the impossible seem possible. 50 years ago, a group of ambitious artists led by JOHN CHAMBERS and TOM BURMAN ushered in a new era in cinema with their ground-breaking work on PLANET OF THE APES.
Now… MAKING APES: THE ARTISTS WHO CHANGED FILM is telling that incredible story!
Back the project HERE
MAKING APES: THE ARTISTS WHO CHANGED FILM is an upcoming feature length documentary about the Hollywood makeup artists who created the iconic makeups seen in the original 1968 classic Planet of the Apes and their impact on cinema.
Featuring interviews with makeup artists and actors from the original film franchise, modern makeup artists and filmmakers who were deeply influenced by the franchise and film historians who recognize Planet of the Apes as a breakthrough moment in cinema, this is a story 50 years in the making.
Many regard Planet of the Apes as a breakthrough moment for the motion picture industry. It is the film that proved anything could be done on screen. The impact was so great that makeup artist John Chambers was presented an Honorary Academy Award for Excellence in Makeup almost 12 years before The Oscars created a yearly category for the craft.
Welcome to 2036. Niander Wallace introduces his new line of replicants.
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.
The first of 3 Blade Runner 2049 Short Films.
Courtesy of Hilary Busis at Vanity Fair: At one point in the new adaptation of It, poor Ben Hanscom (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor) goes on a literal Easter egg hunt. His search, naturally, ends with a horrifying discovery—but what the character may not realize is that he’s surrounded by Easter eggs all the time, sly little references to both the Stephen King novel on which It is based and the TV miniseries adaptation that scarred a generation of children in 1990.
Below, find the eight hidden callbacks found while watching the film for the first time (and know that given the obsessive nature of both King fans and the modern blockbuster industry, there are most likely more where these came from). It may go without saying, but, spoilers for both the movie and King’s novel follow.
Hero in a Half Shell
The real hero in It the book turns out to be a mystical turtle god, creator of all life and eternal enemy of It itself. (His name is Maturin, and he has a long and complicated role in the Stephen King multiverse.) While there may be no direct callout to the celestial terrapin in the new movie, there are at least two turtle references. The first comes when the Losers are swimming and one mentions seeing a turtle in the water; the second comes when Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) finds a turtle made of Legos in his dead younger brother’s untouched room. The creation, alas, ends up being another casualty of It; Bill drops it when he’s surprised by a manifestation of the evil spirit.
Hello, Tim Curry!
Bill Skarsgård’s dandified Pennywise is a far cry from the sinister Ronald McDonald that Tim Curry played in the original It miniseries—but if you look closely at the roomful of clowns that Richie (Finn Wolfhard) stares down while trapped in that terrifying house on Neibolt Street, you’ll notice that one of the jokers is actually styled to look just like Curry in his original clown get up. He’s on the left side of the screen, and visible in this trailer around the 2:10 mark.
Derry History 101
Weighing in at a hefty 1,163 pages, King’s novel takes plenty of detours into the strange and violent history of Derry, Maine, a place that has been plagued by unusual disasters basically since the dawn of time. Though the movie doesn’t spend much time enumerating the various catastrophes King delves into, it does make mention of several of them. Ben comes across archival newspaper stories that mention a few while doing research in the library. The kids also reference the Black Spot, a nightclub that catered to Derry’s black population and was “burned down years ago by that racist cult,” while Mike (Chosen Jacobs) makes a delivery to a butcher located next to a mural featuring a painting of the infamous Bradley Gang shoot-out. Both the Black Spot and the Bradley Gang get their own dedicated chapters in the novel version of It.
“He Thrusts His Fists Against the Posts . . .”
In the movie, Bill absently tries to recite this phrase: “he thrusts his fists against the posts, and still insists he sees the ghosts” in order to rid himself of his stutter. He never makes it all the way through, but those who have read the book know that the phrase will play a key role in his ultimate defeat of It. (Interestingly enough, the original tongue twister is something of an Easter egg itself; King lifted it from the 1942 sci-fi novel Donovan’s Brain, where the hero recites it in order to help him resist the [hypnotic power] of the titular evil.
King’s It often takes the form of old Universal movie monsters the Mummy, the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, when he terrorizes the children of Derry. Because the flashback action in the movie has been shifted from the 50s to the 80s, those dated monsters were largely nixed from the film, though, during the Losers’ final battle with It, the creature does briefly attack Ben in the form of the Mummy, a throwback to its manifestations in the novel.
Love, Derry Style
Before he’s brutally slaughtered by It, wicked bully Patrick Hockstetter (Owen Teague) is confronted with a red balloon that slowly turns, revealing a message: “I Heart Derry.” That should be familiar to book readers, who will remember that the novel’s second chapter concerns the murder of a gay man named Adrian Mellon, who’s killed in an It-inspired hate crime at the annual Derry carnival—where “I Heart Derry” merch is everywhere. Mellon even dies wearing an “I Heart Derry” hat. (His brutal death was based on a real murder committed in the summer of 1984.)
An aerial shot of the Derry town square in the film reveals a hideous, colorful Paul Bunyan statue, which, in the book, comes to life to terrorize Richie. Both statues are based on this actual fiberglass monstrosity, which towers over Bass Park in Bangor, Maine.
The Last Losers
Pay attention to the order in which the Losers leave their circle at the end of the movie, after swearing to return to Derry as adults should Pennywise ever resurface. The first one to depart is Stan; the next is Eddie. In the book, this is the order in which the Losers die: Stan slits his own wrists to avoid having to face It again, while Eddie is killed during their final skirmish with the creature. (That’s good news, perhaps, for Bill and Beverly (Sophia Lillis in the movie), the last two to leave.)
While Hollywood has suffered one of the worst summers in years, the horror genre is laughing all the way to the bank. Universal kicked the year off with massive successes, including Jordan Peele’s Get Out and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, both topping $250 million worldwide. Even David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation could topple $300m. While we’re all celebrating these successes none are as important as Warner Bros./New Line Cinema’s IT, which has shattered September records by topping $100 million during its opening weekend.
That $117 million is just in the States, with early international reports just coming in adding $62m to the total. Early Sunday morning estimates have the worldwide gross at $179 million. A $500+ million worldwide total would be some accomplishment, at this stage that looks likely and something no one was saying before last Thursday!
IT could initiate a revival in bigger budget horror…
So soon after the passing of George Romero, it’s sad to report that Tobe Hooper, the horror director best known for helming The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist, died Saturday in Sherman Oaks, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Coroner. He was 74. The circumstances of his death were not known.
The influential 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre became a seminal horror title for its realistic approach and deranged vision. Shot for less than $300,000, it tells the story of a group of unfortunate friends who encounter a group of cannibals on their way to visit an old homestead. Though it was banned in several countries for violence, it was one of the most profitable independent films of the 1970s in the U.S. The character of Leatherface was loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein.
Hooper also directed the 1986 sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which took a more comedic approach, as part of his Cannon Films deal.
The 1982 Poltergeist, written and produced by Steven Spielberg, also became a classic of the genre. The story of a family coping with a house haunted by unruly ghosts starred JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson. The film was a box office success for MGM and became the eighth-highest grossing film of the year.
After Poltergeist, Hooper directed two movies for Cannon Films, Lifeforce and Invaders from Mars, a remake of the 1953 alien movie.
His 1979 CBS miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel Salem’s Lot is considered by many fans to be a high-water mark in televisual horror. Combining the intrigue of a nighttime soap opera with the gothic atmosphere of a classic horror film, the two-part program was eventually reedited and released theatrically throughout Europe.
He continued working in television and film throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, but none of the films had the impact of his early works. His other more recent works included Toolbox Murders, Crocodile, and Mortuary.
Among his other works was the music video for Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” In 2011 he co-authored a post-modern horror novel titled “Midnight Movie” in which he himself appeared as the main character.
Hooper continued to work on various TV series and films up until 2013, when his last film, Djinn, set in the United Arab Emirates and produced by Image Nation, was released. He is survived by two sons.
Legendary filmmaker George A. Romero, father of the modern movie zombie and creator of the ground-breaking Night of the Living Dead and subsequent franchise, has died at 77.
Romero died Sunday in his sleep after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer,” according to a statement by his longtime producing partner, Peter Grunwald. Romero died while listening to the score of one his favourite films, 1952’s “The Quiet Man,” with his wife, Suzanne Desrocher Romero, and daughter, Tina Romero, at his side, the family said.
Romero jump-started the zombie genre as the co-writer (with John A. Russo) and director of the 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead, which went to inspire future generations of filmmakers such as Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter that generating big scares didn’t require big budgets. Living Dead spawned an entire school of zombie knockoffs, and Romero’s sequels included 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, 1985’s Day of the Dead, 2005’s Land of the Dead, 2007’s Diary of the Dead and 2009’s George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead.
In recent years, as the zombie genre had a resurgence, Romero wasn’t always a fan. He told a British newspaper in 2013 that he’d been asked to do some episodes of The Walking Dead, but had no interest.
“Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally,” he told the Big Issue. “I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism, and I find that missing in what’s happening now.”
Romero took an intellectual view to his depiction of zombies, an approach he found lacking in some of the work that came after him.
“I grew up on these slow-moving-but-you-can’t-stop-them [creatures], where you’ve got to find the Achilles’ heel, or in this case, the Achilles’ brain,” Romero told The LA Times in 2005, referring to the organ whose destruction waylays a zombie. “In [the remake] they’re just dervishes, you don’t recognize any of them, there’s nothing to characterize them…. [But] I like to give even incidental zombies a bit of identification. I just think it’s a nice reminder that they’re us. They walked out of one life and into this.”
A sad day for my fellow horror fans, Romero kick-started so much of what we have come to love over the last 50 years. Rest in Peace.
Revered cinematographer Roger Deakins has ‘never worked on a film with so many different sets and lighting challenges’ as ‘Blade Runner 2049.’
Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 original film looks to be a jaw-dropping mix of visual feats that stay true to both the story and the technical innovation that made Blade Runner an instant classic. Villeneuve acknowledges this legacy, stating “I have massive respect for the world Ridley created. Blade Runner revolutionized the way we see science fiction.”
Villeneuve is likely the right man for the job, as he took science fiction down an entirely new road himself, ostensibly reinventing the hackneyed alien genre with 2016’s Arrival, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award in Directing.
Blade Runner 2049 indeed brings several heavy-hitters to the table to help ensure its success, including no less of a cinematographer than multiple Oscar-nominated Roger Deakins, who also shot for Villeneuve on 2015’s Sicario. No stranger to complex action movies (the James Bond hit Skyfall, for one), Deakins admits in the featurette, “I’ve never worked on a film with so many different sets and lighting challenges. Technically, it’s quite challenging.”
Director Neill Blomkamp is known for inventive depictions of extraterrestrial warfare, like in District 9 (2009) and Elysium (2013). True to form, his latest short, Rakka, features a richly textured post-apocalyptic world where humans and otherworldly creatures battle over their entwined fates. And in keeping with sci-fi tradition, the queen of alien ass-kicking, Sigourney Weaver, leads a group of people who have planned a rebellion against the creatures who “came here to exterminate us.”
Rakka does feel somewhat like an extended trailer, and that is by design. The film is the first release from Blomkamp’s new venture, Oats Studios, which is an experimental incubator for feature-length ideas and new storytelling formats. The studio has released the film for free, but asks audiences to support its future work by voluntarily paying for the work in return for some digital assets like scripts, concept art, and 3D models.
Blomkamp told The Verge that Rakka is just the seed of a larger project, whose form is yet unknown. “Rakka feels like it could almost be more of an episodic thing,” he said, “because there’s a lot of avenues to explore. The footage is too unconventional and weird [for a mainstream feature], and the audience has to think of the footage as a snapshot of the window of this world.”
If you loved Aussie zom flick Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead, check out this peek at the TV series Wyrmwood: Chronicles Of The Dead. It’s gore-tastic.
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Powers Boothe, a character actor who appeared in films like Sin City and TV shows including Deadwood and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., died Sunday morning in his sleep of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. He was 68.
His rep told The Hollywood Reporter that a private service will be held in Boothe’s home state of Texas, with a memorial celebration under consideration as well. Donations can be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which honors the nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need.
Boothe, who grew up on a farm in Texas, began his acting career in the theatre, playing in a number of Shakespearean productions including Henry IV. He made his Broadway debut in the late 1970s in Lone Star & Pvt. Wars.
In 1980, Boothe won an Emmy for lead actor in a limited series or special for playing cult leader Jim Jones in CBS’ Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. He won that award during an actors strike and chose to cross the picket line to accept his trophy, saying, “This may be either the bravest moment of my career or the dumbest.”
On the strength of Guyana Tragedy, he was cast in Southern Comfort, one of my favourite movies of the 80’s. His character, Corporal Hardin was described by Director Walter Hill as “the rational, hardworking, self made individual” a description you believe could be applied to the subsequent casting image of Boothe.
He starred in A Breed Apart (1984), the John Boorman Amazonian adventure, The Emerald Forest (1985), again for Walter Hill in Extreme Prejudice (1987). He was unforgettable as the wicked gunman Curly Bill Brocius in Tombstone (1993). Excellent as Alexander Haig in Nixon (1995) and a sheriff in another Oliver Stone film, U Turn (1997).
Boothe gained a reputation for playing villains with memorable roles in the action film Sudden Death (1995), Bill Paxton’s Frailty (2001) and the nefarious Senator Roark in Sin City (2005). Perhaps his most famous villain role was Cy Tolliver, the ruthless saloon owner on HBO’s Deadwood.
Boothe also was nominated two ensemble SAG Awards, first in 1996 alongside the cast of Nixon and then again in 2007 with the cast of Deadwood.
More recently, Boothe took on the role of Gideon Malick as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, debuting the role in 2012’s The Avengers and reprising it on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The actor Geoffrey Bayldon has died aged 93. The actor who starred in the much-loved 1970’s television series Catweazle, was partly brought to his most famous role by the chastening experience of rejecting the chance to be the first Doctor Who. Bayldon, was approached to play the Doctor in 1963. But the Time Lord was scripted as an eccentric old man, and Bayldon, then in his late 30’s, was wary of being typecast in such roles, even though he was exceptionally good at them. With no inkling of the success Doctor Who would turn out to be, and put off by the punishing filming schedule, he turned the offer down after only 10 minutes’ consideration.
He later admitted to regretting the decision, and when another high-profile TV role – to play the even older and markedly more eccentric Catweazle – came his way in 1969, he had no second thoughts. The character of Catweazle – a wild-eyed 11th-century magician transported into the modern world – suited Bayldon to a T, and in fact the creator of the series, Richard Carpenter, had written the script with him in mind. Bayldon took on the part enthusiastically, creating one of the most instantly recognisable and enchanting TV characters of the era.
In a Sunday afternoon slot on ITV, Catweazle’s 26 episodes drew audiences of many millions as they charted the light-hearted adventures of the ragged-cloaked, pointy-bearded hero and his “familiar’, the toad Touchwood. Inadvertently thrown through time by his own inept sorcery into the bewildering landscape of 20th-century England – where he saw magic in everything, including the “electrickery” of lightbulbs and the amazing “tellingbone” that allowed people to communicate with each other – Catweazle muddled his way through misunderstandings and escapades as he attempted to find the magic spell that would return him to his own era.
The programme ran from February 1970 to April 1971, and its gentle humour and Bayldon’s star quality made it immensely popular with children and adults alike. It generated spin-offs such as Christmas annuals, books and a series of comic strips. The two series, preserved on DVD, still have a cult following and even today there is a large and active Catweazle fanclub… I still have a Catweazle Annual from he early 70’s.
Bayldon put his heart and soul into the series, not least in the makeup department, where he would spend an hour and a half each day transforming his appearance. He invested Catweazle with much of his own engaging personality and animated him with mannerisms, tics and catchphrases.
Catweazle became Bayldon’s lead into dozens of other TV roles, including the equally crusty Crowman in the late 1970’s Worzel Gummidge series, alongside Jon Pertwee and Una Stubbs. But he had originally set out as a theatre actor and initially paid little attention to the small screen.
Bayldon was born in Leeds, his father a tailor and his mother a head teacher. Although neither parent had any noticeable acting talent, Bayldon inherited his mother’s flair for narration, and traced his love of the stage to a debut at the age of four in a school play, in which he portrayed a robin.
After spending three quiet second world war years stationed at Yorkshire airfields with the RAF, during which time he appeared in many revues, he began training as a professional actor in 1947 at the Old Vic theatre school in London.
Bayldon spent two seasons as a successful Shakespearean actor at Stratford, playing alongside John Gielgud in Measure for Measure and Julius Caesar (both in 1950). For a further two years, he was with the Birmingham repertory theatre, with whom he appeared as Caesar at the Old Vic and, to rave reviews, in Paris.
Eventually, however, he felt he should be making concessions to the popular new medium of television, and he moved to London. There he took roles in a number of live BBC Wednesday plays, and began to appear in episodes of series including The Avengers and The Saint.
His triumph as Catweazle sealed his TV reputation, drawing him into countless series and dramas including All Creatures Great and Small, The Tomorrow People, Tales of the Unexpected, Blott on the Landscape and Rumpole of the Bailey. In three 1979 episodes of Doctor Who he was Organon the astrologer – during the Tom Baker era – and even played an alternative version of the Time Lord in two audio versions of Doctor Who stories released in 2003 and 2005.
Bayldon made numerous film appearances, rubbing shoulders with greats such as Sidney Poitier (To Sir With Love, 1967), Peter Sellers (Casino Royale, 1967, and The Pink Panther Strikes Again, 1976), Albert Finney (Scrooge, 1970) and Vincent Price (The Monster Club, 1981).
His TV acting continued well into his 80s, when he noted that he was still well qualified to play old men, and he had credits in Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat, Casualty, New Tricks and My Family in more recent years. He would attend the annual gathering of the Catweazle fanclub with enthusiasm, and in 2005 revealed that he had finally been able to watch the show with a sense of detachment. “I turned it on and I was sitting back watching myself without being conscious at all that it was me,” he said. ‘“And I was jaw-dropped. I suddenly thought: ‘This fella’s bloody good.’”
I also thought he was great in Born to Boogie (1972) but that may be because I was a huge T-Rex fan as a kid.
Rest in Peace Geoffrey.
Michael Parks, a character actor who enjoyed a career renaissance in recent decades thanks to high profile roles in films by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith, died Wednesday at the age of 77.
Parks made his acting debut in a small role in 1961 on the sitcom The Real McCoys, and, racked up dozens of roles on both television and feature films, most notably as the casino owner and drug runner Jean Renault on the second season of Twin Peaks.
After years playing bit roles in made-for-TV movies, Westerns and slasher films, Parks was cast as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in Rodriguez’ 1996 vampire flick From Dusk ’til Dawn. Quentin Tarantino, an associate of Rodriguez’, then cast Parks in a dual role for Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Volume 2; in the former, he reprised the McGraw role, while the latter found the actor playing Mexican pimp Esteban Vihaio.
Parks would portray McGraw once more for Tarantino and Rodriguez in the directors’ Grindhouse films. Tarantino also recruited Parks for a small role in Django Unchained.
Parks’ career revival also resulted in roles in Ben Affleck’s Argo, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford and a pair of Kevin Smith horror flicks, Red State and Tusk.
“Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I’ve ever known. I wrote both [Red State] and [Tusk] FOR Parks, I loved his acting so much,” Smith posted on Wednesday. “He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform. And Parks brought out the absolute best in me every time he got near my set.”
At the time of his death, Parks was cast in the upcoming Christian Bale film Hostiles.
Mondo Tees has announced the THE THING ™ INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31, their very first board game in collaboration with USAopoly’s designer games division, Project Raygun. The regular version of the game will be in stores and online nationwide this October, and a limited edition Mondo exclusive version will be available at MondoTees.com.
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An alien lifeform has infiltrated a bleak and desolate Antarctic research station assimilating other organisms and then imitating them. In the hidden identity game THE THING ™ INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31, you will relive John Carpenter’s sci-fi cult classic in a race to discover who among the team has been infected by this heinous lifeform.
The game has been designed to be as authentically cinematic as possible, ensuring that the players will experience the paranoia and tension that makes the film so great.
“Mondo brought more than their storied design acumen to the table,” said Joe Van Wetering, Creative Design and Game Development at Project Raygun. “Thanks to their deep understanding and reverence for THE THING, they helped define the tone and shape the game play itself. INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31 reflects a true collaboration between our two brands resulting in a game that will excite table top and film aficionados alike.”
The regular version of the game features artwork and designs by Justin Erickson of Phantom City Creative. The Mondo exclusive version, sold exclusively through MondoTees.com, is limited to 1,982 copies, and features different packaging artwork by Jock. The limited edition game will also come with a Mondo print, enamel pin and two additional sculpted movers: the Norwegian character and the Palmer Thing.
Commenting on the design, artist Justin Erickson said, “with THE THING box art, I wanted to focus on the isolation of Outpost 31 and hint at the hidden alien dangers that lurk around every corner. The title of the game cut out of the ice/snow is a call back to the Thing originally being cut out of the ice by the Norwegians.”
The Thing™ Infection at Outpost 31 Gameplay
It is the start of the bleak, desolate Antarctic winter when a group of NSF researchers manning the claustrophobic, isolated U.S. Outpost 31 comes into contact with a hostile extra-terrestrial lifeform. Bent on assimilating Earth’s native species, this being infiltrates the facility—creating a perfect imitation of one of the Outpost 31 crew. The staff frantically begin a sweep of the base, desperate to purge this alien infection before escaping to warn McMurdo Station that somewhere, out there in the frigid darkness, something horrible is waiting.
In THE THING™ INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31, relive John Carpenter’s sci-fi cult classic as a hidden identity game designed to push you to the edge. Play as one of a dozen characters like helicopter pilot MacReady, mechanic Childs, or station manager Garry. Face sabotage and infection as you investigate the facility—gather gear, battle The Thing, expose any imitations among you, and escape Outpost 31!
Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning filmmaker who observed emphatically American characters with a discerning eye, a social conscience and a rock ’n’ roll heart, achieving especially wide acclaim with The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 73.
His publicist, Leslee Dart, confirmed the death. Mr. Demme disclosed that he had cancer in 2015.
Mob wives, CB radio buffs and AIDS victims; Hannibal Lecter, Howard Hughes and Jimmy Carter: Mr Demme (pronounced DEM-ee) plucked his subjects and stories largely from the stew of contemporary American subcultures and iconography. He created a body of work — including fiction films and documentaries, dramas and comedies, original scripts, adaptations and remakes — that resists easy characterization.
Robert Jonathan Demme was born on Long Island, in Baldwin, on Feb. 22, 1944, and grew up mostly in nearby Rockville Centre, where he listened to music and went to the movies.
The family moved to Miami, where Jonathan went to high school and worked in a kennel and an animal hospital. Wanting to be a veterinarian, he attended the University of Florida with that in mind until he failed chemistry, at which point he went to the university newspaper, discovered it had no movie critic, and assumed the job himself, he said, so that he could get into movies free.
It happened that Mr. Levine was on vacation in Miami Beach, staying at the Fontainebleau Hotel, where he had become acquainted with the hotel’s publicist, Robert Demme. The elder Demme introduced Mr. Levine to his son, whose review of Zulu impressed him. Mr. Levine offered him a job.
A personable man with the curiosity gene and the what-comes-next instinct of someone who likes to both hear and tell stories, Demme had a good one of his own, a Mr. Deeds kind of tale in which he wandered into good fortune and took advantage of it. A former movie publicist, he had an apprenticeship in low-budget B-movies with the producer Roger Corman before turning director.
In 1971, he took a job as a unit publicist in Ireland for a Roger Corman film, Von Richthofen and Brown, about a German flying ace. Shortly after that, he began making films of his own for Corman’s production company. He wrote (with Joe Viola) and produced a biker film, Angels Hard as They Come, and wrote and directed a handful of others, including Caged Heat (1974), a heavy-breathing women’s prison movie, and Crazy Mama (1975), a campy road story with a ’50s rock score that starred Ann Sothern and Cloris Leachman as mother-and-daughter outlaws.
Demme then became known early in his career for quirky social satires that led critics to compare him to Preston Sturges. They included Handle With Care (1977), originally titled Citizens Band, and Melvin and Howard (1980), a tale inspired by true events.
“Music was my first love, movies came second,” Demme once told the New York newspaper The SoHo News. In a 1988 interview with Premiere magazine, he said: “I grew up with rock ’n’ roll — literally,” adding, “The first rock song I remember was ‘Sh-Boom,’ and since then I’ve never stopped obsessing on at least something.”
“I can’t think of any other director who is so instinctively and democratically interested in everybody he shows you,” Kael wrote.
David Byrne of Talking Heads Demme worked together frequently, notably on Stop Making Sense, a 1984 concert film about Talking Heads that many critics (and filmgoers) found mesmerizing, though it had few filmic bells and whistles. (Demme preferred to call it a “performance film” because, he said, it wasn’t about the concert experience — he didn’t show the audience until the end.)
Mr. Byrne also scored Demme’s Married to the Mob, a gaudy 1988 farce in which Michelle Pfeiffer plays the wife of a Long Island gangster (Alec Baldwin) who tries to exit the mob life after her husband is bumped off when he dallies with the girlfriend of the local boss (Dean Stockwell). Things get especially dicey when she moves with her young son into a shabby Manhattan apartment and strikes up a romance with an F.B.I. agent (Matthew Modine) who has her under surveillance.
Later, as a known commodity, Mr. Demme directed prestige Hollywood projects like Beloved (1998), an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel about the lingering, post-Civil War psychological horror of slavery, with Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover in starring roles, and The Manchurian Candidate (2004), a remake of the 1962 Cold War drama of the same title about a brainwashed American prisoner of war. Mr. Demme’s updated version, starring Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber, takes place during the Persian Gulf war.
Demme may be best remembered for two films from the 1990s that were, at the time, his career’s biggest anomalies. The first, The Silence of the Lambs (1991), was a vivid thriller based on the novel by Thomas Harris that earned five Oscars, including best picture and best director. Unlike his previous films, with their mischievous pleasure and tender melancholy, this was straightforward and serious storytelling with only a few moments of shivery humor.
The story is told largely from the perspective of an F.B.I. trainee who becomes a key figure in the pursuit of a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill when she is assigned to conduct a prison interview with Hannibal Lecter, a mad and murderous psychiatrist, hoping to extract from him clues to Bill’s identity.
Great article from Vanity Fair about the storytelling malaise that is growing at a similar rate to which the ratings are plummeting (still the biggest show on cable) on The Walking Dead…
It’s no secret that the critical tide has largely turned on AMC’s zombie series The Walking Dead. Though it’s still a ratings giant, the show saw major viewership atrophy in its seventh season as a result of eroding goodwill, thanks to its tendency to employ death fake-outs and gruesome cliff-hangers—not to mention 16 episodes that felt directionless at best. Can The Walking Dead be saved and returned to its glory days? Or should it be allowed (like Game of Thrones) to bow out gracefully despite the still-high viewing numbers? A new interview with executive producer Greg Nicotero indicates that if the show can be saved, the first step will be admitting it has a problem.
Though Robert Kirkman’s comic books have found a way to squeeze a continuous story out of Rick Grimes and his embattled band of zombie survivalists, it’s clear that at 99 episodes, The Walking Dead is unsure of how to keep a story about the undead, well, lively. A show that once got major juice from jump scares, dazzling set pieces, and bumping off major characters will, of course, naturally run the risk of audience fatigue.
But the real problem The Walking Dead faces is a major misconception that Nicotero (and presumably others) have—that the way to solve audience fatigue is to turn their attention to the dead, rather than the living. “After seven years of making sure the audience does not get fatigued and goes on this journey with us, it’s pretty important,” Nicotero said in a recent interview with the Empire podcast, referring to the show’s experimentation with special effects. He added that his team has “been able to express ourselves more powerfully visually”—by, say, adding a tiger in Season 7. But visual spectacle alone does not make good television if the human drama can’t keep up.
Nicotero went on to say that he and show-runner Scott Gimple tried to keep their effects experimentations tied to the plot—but throughout Season 7, it often felt like the undead tail was wagging the dog. Nicotero explains:
Scott will come up with some ideas and he’ll immediately reach out and say, “I have this idea for this art installation-type zombies” The walkers who were in the Oceanside episode with Tara who were in the sandpile. We really wanted them to look different. The idea that they were buried under the sand and desiccated and lacking any sort of moisture. It’s really good after seven years to – it’s a constant thing.
The Oceanside creatures, though, are a perfect example of a plot that felt invented just so Gimple and Nicotero could test the extremes of prosthetic barnacles. Tara’s detour to Oceanside in all its grisly, water-logged glory is given much more time and weight than, say, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment later in the season where she finds out that her girlfriend, Denise, died while she was away.
The same goes for the other (admittedly impressive) Season 7 set pieces Nicotero mentions with pride. Whether it’s Michonne and Rick cutting down a freeway full of zombies, or the weaponized battle zombies that menaced our heroes in the back half of the season, Nicotero points out that the show has “to remind the audience every once and awhile that the world is dead.” But not at the expense of the living.
The desire to go home on these set pieces may explain why some of the more important character-driven action of the season was sidelined. Nicotero himself mentions budgetary concerns, while over on Vox Aja Romano distilled the issue like this:
I realize a lot of that sidelining might be down to budget concerns — it’s understandable that it might not have been in the production budget to show Sasha full-scale blitzing Negan’s compound, for example — but I’ve been continually baffled that the Walking Dead writers can’t find any other way to take us on these journeys than by telling us after the fact that they happened.
Many of the most portentous plot points that have happened this half-season, like Sherry freeing Daryl and escaping herself, or Ezekiel finally deciding to join the Alexandrians, or Sasha’s suicide run, have been narrated by the characters afterward when they could have made for compelling moments of drama if actually depicted. The show’s handling of them has contributed to the overall feeling of ambivalence and lethargy.
In other words, you can’t make a satisfying series out of listless human drama that’s occasionally punctuated by visually experimental zombie action. And you certainly shouldn’t spend an entire season building up to a battle everyone knows is coming, only to ultimately defer it to Season 8. You’d think the show had learned its lesson about the dangers of delaying satisfaction by now.
But what’s to be done, really? The Walking Dead is still one of TV’s most popular series, meaning that this hollowed-out version of the original show is still working for plenty of people. And those ratings imply that even if the creators themselves thought it was time for Rick and the rest to hang up their hats, the show would almost certainly keep shuffling along. Will The Walking Dead learn its lesson in Season 8, and turn its focus back to the characters that once made the show’s grisly premise work? It seems unlikely. Instead, we may continue to see this reanimated version of a once-lively thing shuffle and groan its way onto the Sunday-night schedule for several more years to come.
It was just over a month ago that Liz Wrightson announced that her husband, legendary artist Bernie Wrightson was retiring. Liz confirmed on Sunday that after a long battle with cancer, Bernie has passed away. Here is the full transcript from Liz. My condolences to the Wrightson family, Rest in Peace Bernie.
A Message from Liz Wrightson.
After a long battle with brain cancer, legendary artist Bernie Wrightson has passed away.
Bernie “Berni” Wrightson (born October 27, 1948, Baltimore, Maryland, USA) was an American artist known for his horror illustrations and comic books. He received training in art from reading comics, particularly those of EC, as well as through a correspondence course from the Famous Artists School. In 1966, Wrightson began working for The Baltimore Sun newspaper as an illustrator. The following year, after meeting artist Frank Frazetta at a comic-book convention in New York City, he was inspired to produce his own stories. In 1968, he showed copies of his sequential art to DC Comics editor Dick Giordano and was given a freelance assignment. Wrightson began spelling his name “Berni” in his professional work to distinguish himself from an Olympic diver named Bernie Wrightson, but later restored the final E to his name.
His first professional comic work appeared in House of Mystery #179 in 1968. He continued to work on a variety of mystery and anthology titles for both DC and its principal rival, Marvel Comics. In 1971, with writer Len Wein, Wrightson co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing for DC. He also co-created Destiny, later to become famous in the work of Neil Gaiman. By 1974 he had left DC to work at Warren Publishing who were publishing black-and-white horror-comics magazines. There he produced a series of original work as well as adaptations of stories by H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. In 1975, Wrightson joined with fellow artists Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith to form “The Studio,” a shared loft in Manhattan where the group would pursue creative products outside the constraints of comic book commercialism. Though he continued to produce sequential art, Wrightson at this time began producing artwork for numerous posters, prints, calendars, and coloring books.
Wrightson spent seven years drawing approximately 50 detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, which the artist considers among his most personal work. Wrightson drew the poster for the Stephen King-penned horror film Creepshow, as well as illustrating the comic book adaptation of the film. This led to several other collaborations with King, including illustrations for the novella “Cycle of the Werewolf,” the restored edition of King’s apocalyptic horror epic, “The Stand,” and art for the hardcover editions of “From a Buick 8” and “Dark Tower V.” Wrightson has contributed album covers for a number of bands, including Meat Loaf. The “Captain Sternn” segment of the animated film Heavy Metal is based on the character created by Wrightson for his award-winning short comic series of the same name.
Characters he worked on included Spiderman, Batman and The Punisher, and he provided painted covers for the DC comics Nevermore and Toe Tags, among many others. Recent works include Frankenstein Alive Alive, Dead She Said , the Ghoul and Doc Macabre (IDW Publishing) all co-created with esteemed horror author Steve Niles, and several print/poster/sketchbooks series produced by Nakatomi.
As a conceptual artist, Bernie worked on many movies, particularly in the horror genre: well-known films include Ghostbusters, The Faculty, Galaxy Quest, Spiderman, and George Romero’s Land of the Dead, and Frank Darabont’s Stephen King film The Mist.
Bernie lived in Austin, Texas with his wife Liz and two corgis – Mortimer and Maximillian. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, John and Jeffrey, one stepson, Thomas Adamson, and countless friends and fans. A celebration of his life is planned for later this year.
Wrongly accused of a crime she didn’t commit, a frontier woman turned fugitive is hunted by a vengeful preacher in the menacing inferno of the old American West.
At 149 minutes long, Dutch director Martin Koolhoven’s (Winter in Wartime) first English-language film is a beast—and that’s only where the Biblical references begin. The neo-Western stars Dakota Fanning as Liz, a woman on the run from her reverend stepfather (Guy Pearce), a self-described false prophet, or “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” on the American frontier. It’s a world wrought with dour religiosity, where primal impulses bubble just beneath the surface, and God is evoked as an excuse to stoke the fire.
Divided into Biblical chapters titled “Revelation,” “Exodus,” “Genesis,” and “Retribution,” Brimstone takes us through Liz’s journey in reverse, showing us the brutal abuse she endured at the hands of her Calvinist and chauvinistic stepfather and the twists and turns her life takes as she tries to elude him.
Check out the interview re-posted below with Director Koolhoven conducted by the No Film School website. Discussion surrounds some of the film’s nearly unwatchable scenes, his rigorous process of screenplay revisions, and his successful attempts to maintain creative control on a daring, provocative film. Looks interesting…
No Film School: This is a very dark story told with an exacting vision. Why did you decide Brimstone was a story that needed to be told?
Martin Koolhoven: The last movie I did was quite successful, and it sold very well across the world, especially in Holland. Of course, Hollywood started calling. They sent scripts and nothing that they sent I found interesting. So at some point, somebody said, “You know, Martin, what would you want to do?” And I joked, I said, “You know, I would like to do a Western.” This was before Tarantino had even announced Django Unchained. It was completely dead, Westerns. And, sort of jokingly, I said, “Westerns.” And then I started thinking, “Why not?”
Koolhoven: So I decided to started writing one, and then I started thinking, What is it actually that I’m interested in here? Why is it such an interesting genre? There’s this almost boyish quality to it, this adventure and artistic idea of freedom. But then, as I was thinking that, I thought, that’s a very macho approach. It’s only a half-truth because for women, Westerns are not actually about freedom all. I had just read a book called In the Rogue Blood by James Carlos Blake about two brothers, and at some point, the sister runs away and they say, “Okay, what are her options? Either she’s going to marry someone or she’s going to be a prostitute.” And that sort of hit me. I realized that that side of the story is never really told. There’s not a lot of movies about that. Actually, none at all. Then I thought there has to be a movie from that point of view.
I was intimidated by the fact that some of my favorite movies are Westerns. I said, “How am I going to do something that is original and has a place?” And I thought the only way was to make it personal and to use my culture and heritage. I come from Holland and, of course, a lot of the settlers were Dutch. The Calvinistic belief is something that has had a very strong impact on our culture. Some people at the time thought it wasn’t strict enough anymore in Holland, so they went to America to start a purer form of Christianity. That’s something I had never seen in movies. I was brought up Protestant, so that’s something that I could relate to. It was like a hybrid between American culture and Dutch culture. The female angle of this whole religious thing is where Brimstone sprouted from.
NFS: It’s a very strong script, especially in terms of intentionality; every piece of dialogue serves a function. Can you tell me about the writing process?
Koolhoven: I had never done an international movie; I had only done Dutch movies. The reason I got access to people like Dakota Fanning and Guy Pearce and Kit Harington was the script. The moment we put the script on the desks of all the agents, they started calling us. “Could he or she be in the movie?” If you have a strong script, that’s where everything comes from.
When you’re writing, don’t be afraid of ambition; you have to be as ambitious as you can be. Making a good movie starts with really, really wanting to make a good movie. Do not accept mediocrity, even from yourself. You have to raise the bar. You have to be very tough on yourself.
If you have a good first draft, get people in to read it who you think are very good. I got authors that I thought were very good and I got them to read the script. I put them [in a room] when I was not there, and I put somebody who I know I in with them so that they could be as tough as they wanted. They’re always going to be polite if you’re there. I let them discuss and see what interesting stuff [came] up. Then the person who was there reported to me. So if you have a new draft, get other people in and listen to them.
Of course, on the other end, you have to be stubborn enough to not listen to everything. But you have very honest. Very often, you [already] know what the problems are in a script.
NFS: Once you had the script, how did you cobble together financing?
Koolhoven: We didn’t get any money from Hollywood. It was financed in Europe. I did get American talent, so we did have to deal with Hollywood agents and all that. But we chose to have financing in England, in Holland, in Germany, in France, in Sweden. It’s a lot of countries combined. In the end, I think there were more than 35 different financiers on this movie, which is hell for a producer because you have to juggle all those balls in the air and have them all be happy.
I knew it was going to be a controversial movie. It has a lot of powerful stuff: it talks about religious fanaticism and combines it with violence and sex. So that’s a very dangerous cocktail. We knew that this is something that you have to keep control of—you have to have the final cut. Otherwise, they’ll take it out of your hands and you’re not going to make the movie that you want.
NFS: Can you remember any specific instances where you were fighting for creative control?
Koolhoven: Well, I knew in advance that it was going to be a long movie. That’s not something that a lot of distributors and money people like. I knew that if I had no control, they would want to make it shorter.
The other thing is that, of course, there are controversial scenes in it. Nowadays Hollywood actually uses a lot of violence, but it is very often comical. I wanted it [to be real] because the movie is about the consequences of violence and the poisonous role that it has in the world and in life. So there are some scenes that are very uncomfortable, and that’s what I was striving for. I wanted to portray violence not necessarily in a cool way.
People get scared of that. People are very often afraid of demanding things from their audience. And this is a movie that is, at some points, quite demanding. There are some tough scenes in there that need to be told for the story. If you only go to the movies to have a laugh, then you’re not going to have a good time with this movie.
NFS: How did you approach shooting some of those uncomfortable and demanding scenes?
Koolhoven: There’s a misconception nowadays, especially with the interpretation of method acting, that the toughest scenes to watch are also the toughest scenes to shoot. That’s not necessarily so. If there’s a very tough scene, everybody always comes in very prepared and knows that this is going to be a difficult scene. Somehow, these scenes are very often the ones that are not the hardest things to do. It’s often scenes you don’t expect that are difficult from a technical point of view.
NFS: The film’s imagery is a bit different than what you might expect from a Western—it’s more poetic, more like a painting. How did you communicate your vision?
Koolhoven: I knew I wanted it to be a very visual movie and I knew that I wanted strong images. It’s something that’s conscious and thought about.
I communicate that by any means necessary. I use music, I use paintings. I have a bible where I put everything. As you are writing, you do a lot of research. There’s a lot of stuff that you go and check out, whether it’s on the internet or in books, so I put that all into a document that I felt was relevant for my crew. It had a lot of imagery in it. By the time we went into production, it was a “bible.”
NFS: Can you remember any other specific challenges, in terms of production, and how you overcame those challenges?
Koolhoven: We shot this movie for… I think, in dollars, it would be about 15 million or so. If I had done this in America, it would be, I think, three or four times as much. I was extremely ambitious. I didn’t want to give in. So there were so many challenges. Every day was a long day. We went overtime constantly. There was constant pressure. I felt very strongly about this movie and I wanted it to be exactly the way I had it in my head.
The toughest thing was getting everything that was on the paper to the screen. That was the toughest thing.
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The actor Bill Paxton, who was 61, has died due to complications from surgery, according to a statement from a representative of Paxton’s family.
“A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker,” read the statement, in part. “Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable.”
That warmth earned Paxton a career that began in B-movies, experimental film and music videos, moved through bit parts in big pictures and, ultimately, leading roles. The epitome of a working actor, he described to The Los Angeles Times his on-screen presence as that of “a very straight-looking guy, very old-fashioned.”
“I consider myself an everyman, and there will always be an underdog quality to my stuff,” Paxton told Cosmopolitan magazine in a 1995 interview.
Paxton often found a way to make these roles his own. One memorable moment? As Pvt. Hudson in James Cameron’s film “Aliens,” Paxton’s desperate, defeated whine after a spaceship crash became a catch-phrase: “Game over, man! Game over!”
Born William Paxton in Fort Worth, Texas, the actor was the son of a hardwood salesman and, he told “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross in a 2009 interview, expected that he’d follow the same path. But after taking theater classes in high school, Paxton made a decision to become an actor.
He relocated to Los Angeles when he was in his late teens. One of his first gigs was at New World Pictures as a set designer for famed B-movie producer and director Roger Corman on the Angie Dickenson movie “Big Bad Mama.” A year later, he acted in “Crazy Mama,” a New World production directed by a young Jonathan Demme.
The actor continued with set design gigs while making inroads in front of the camera. Early appearances included a starring role in “Fish Heads” (1980), a cult-classic novelty video for the music duo Barnes & Barnes, which Paxton directed and that aired on “Saturday Night Live.”
Paxton played a blue-haired punk rocker in an opening scene of “The Terminator,” a role that led to a friendship with director James Cameron and jobs in “Aliens,” “True Lies” and “Titanic.” Paxton’s acclaimed turn in “Apollo 13,” further confirmed the actor’s abilities.
He was fantastic as the trashy vampire in “Near Dark” scene stealing as the scary, and comic relief, Severin.
“Every day you’re taking a final exam as an actor,” Paxton told the late film critic Roger Ebert in 1998, while discussing his work in “A Simple Plan.”
As Hank in “A Simple Plan,” Paxton harnessed his average-Joe demeanor in service of a career-defining role alongside Billy Bob Thornton. After their two characters find millions of dollars in the woods, Paxton’s Hank endures hardships that reveal the ways in which good men can do bad things.
“I don’t play my characters with any judgment,” he told Gross. “I don’t think it’s possible to play any character with judgment.”
The actor carried that philosophy into one of his most notable performances, as Bill Henrickson in “Big Love.” As the polygamist patriarch, Paxton played a husband juggling family, work and spirituality — with three wives, a half-dozen children and a sect-wide family feud.
When “Big Love” concluded, Paxton told The Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara that he faced a hurdle. “It was the only steady job I’ve ever had as an adult,” he said. “But then nobody knew really what to do with me.”
As was always the case, though, Paxton found work. He earned an Emmy nomination in 2012 for the miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys,” and had a recurrent role in the TV series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Paxton was starring as Det. Frank Rourke in the first season of the CBS series “Training Day.” The 13 episodes finished shooting in December, with nine still set to air.
CBS and Warner Bros. Television praised Paxton’s work in a statement issued Sunday morning.
It read, in part: “Bill was, of course, a gifted and popular actor with so many memorable roles on film and television. His colleagues at CBS and Warner Bros. Television will also remember a guy who lit up every room with infectious charm, energy and warmth, and as a great storyteller who loved to share entertaining anecdotes and stories about his work.”
Paxton is survived by his wife, Louise, and two children, James and Lydia.
Directed by Nik Kacevski
Written by Nik Kacevski and Tess Meyer
Produced by George Kacevski, Tess Meyer, and Enzo Tedeschi
Starring Joshua Brennan, Charlotte Best, Coco Jack Gillies, Kaitlyn Boyé, Joshua Morton, Roger Sciberras, Ric Herbert, Georgia Scott and Diana Popovska
It was supposed to be so simple. You do a job, you make the meet, you get paid.
As an experienced flipper, Jimmy “Skinny” Skinford knows the protocol all too well. Having said that, being kidnapped and forced to dig your own grave will spanner the nicest of deals in the sharpest of ways.
But his fortune turns when a push of his dead man’s shovel unearths the opportunity of a life time; a woman, buried but still breathing, who just can’t seem to die. Her mysterious gift extends to others through touch and in her company Skinny launches head first into a scheme of unparalleled mayhem.
Coming face to face with the most depraved deviates of the criminal underworld, Skinny will have to pay his dues in order to make the meet, get his payload and have his chance at immortality.
But this gift horse comes with plans of her own, and dark consequences that threaten to sever Skinny’s world piece by piece.
Skinford will have it’s world premiere at Event Cinemas George Street, Sydney, on Sunday, March 12 at 7pm. Tickets available HERE
“The Warriors” is a real peculiarity, a movie about street gang warfare, written and directed as an exercise in mannerism. There’s hardly a moment when we believe that the movie’s gangs are real or that their members are real people or that they inhabit a real city.
That’s where the peculiarity comes in: I don’t think we’re supposed to. No matter what impression the ads give, this isn’t even remotely intended as an action film. It’s a set piece. It’s a ballet of stylized male violence.
Walter Hill, the director and co-writer, specializes in fables like this. His first two films were “Hard Times” and “The Driver,” and they were both at arm’s length from realism. Hill likes characters that take on a legendary, mythic stature, and then he likes to run them through situations that look like urban tableaux.
“Hard times,” a good and interesting film, starred Charles Bronson as a professional street fist-fighter who went up against opponents with all the dimension of a James Bond villain. “The Driver” didn’t even have names for its characters; they were described by their functions, and they behaved toward each other in strangely formal, rehearsed, unspontaneous ways.
“The Warriors” takes that style to such an extreme that almost all life and juice are drained from it; there’s great vitality and energy (and choreography and stunt coordination) in the many violent scenes of gang fights and run-ins with the cops. But when the characters talk, they seem to be inhabiting a tale rehearsed many times before.
One example: Three members of a street gang are lined up in a row. The camera regards the first one. He speaks. The camera pans to the second, and he speaks. The camera pans to the third. He speaks. Because the movement of the camera dictates the order and timing of the speeches, there can be no illusion that the characters are talking as their words occur to them.
This same kind of stiff stylization dominates the film. The street gangs take stances toward each other as if they were figures in a medieval print. The deployment of the police and gang forces is plainly impossible on any realistic level; people move into their symbolic places with such perfectly timed choreography that they must be telepathic. And the chase scenes are plainly impossible, as in one extended shot showing the Warriors outrunning a rival gang’s school bus.
All of this is no doubt Walter Hill’s intention. I suppose he has, an artistic vision he’s working toward in this film, and in his work. He chooses to meticulously ban human spontaneity from his films; he allows only a handful of shallow women characters into his stories; he reduces male conduct to ritualized violence. And in “The Warriors” he chooses, with a few exceptions, to cast against type: Only three or four of the movie’s characters look and sound like plausible street-gang members. The rest look and sound like male models for the currently fashionable advertising photography combining high fashion and rough trade.
All very well, I suppose, except that Paramount chooses to advertise the movie as a violent action picture — and action audiences, I suspect, will find it either incomprehensible or laughable. Walter Hill has a considerable visual skill, and he knows what he’s doing in “The Warriors” and does it well. But is this style suited to this material? And does Hill have other notes to play? All three of his films have shown a certain skittishness in the face of human juices and the unrehearsed flow of life. And so his street gangs, and his movies, walk lockstep through sterile streets.