August 2013

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

DNDF: The Roller Blade Seven Trilogy (1991)(1992)

Once again it’s time to put on the sexy music, open that bottle of wine and ease on into a night in front of the fire with the one you love.  Tonight we have the sexy adventures of a band of sexy outlaws in the sexy aftermath of a world shattering sexy disaster called…ah crap, it’s a bunch of Scott Shaw movies.

Shaw has had a career in both the arts and the sciences.  He first became noticed as an author when his poetry and literary fiction began to be published in literary journals in the late 1970s.  Beginning in the mid-1980s Shaw's writings also began to be published on the subjects of anthropology and the social sciences.  Though his writings have span many genres, Shaw is most well known as an author on the subject of the martial arts.  This is due to the voluminous amount of written work he has composed on the subject.  Over three hundred of his articles on the martial arts have been published and he is the author of several books on the subject.

The foundation for Shaw's writings on the martial arts began when he was six years old.  This is the point when he began his study of the Korean martial art of Hapkido.

Shaw studied and taught Hapkido and Taekwondo until in 1987 he was the first American to be awarded the 7th Degree Black Belt in Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo in 1988 he earned the rank of 7th Degree Black Belt in Kumdo.  In 1996 he was the first non-Korean to be promoted to the rank of 7th Degree Black Belt by The Korea Hapkido Federation.  Previous to this he had been certified a Hapkido 7th Degree Black Belt in Hapkido Moo Hak Kwan.  Since that time he has been promoted to 8th Degree Black Belt in both Hapkido and Taekwondo.

Shaw has also written numerous articles and several books on Zen Buddhism, Yoga, Eastern Religion and Asian culture.  These writings are based in the fact that from his youth forward Shaw has been involved with eastern meditative thought.  He was a direct disciple of Swami Satchidananda.  In addition, he studied with such teachers as Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and Thich Thien-An.  By the age of eighteen he was a certified instructor of Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.  At this point in his life he traveled to India where he was initiated into various Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi sects and became Sannyasa.  Shaw is also a Frater Rosae Crucis of the Rosicrucian Order.  He is known to frequently travel in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia documenting Asian Culture in words and on film.  He lives much of every year at his home in Kamakura, Japan.

In association to his writings, Shaw is also an active actor and filmmaker.  In 1991 he developed a new style of filmmaking that he titled Zen Filmmaking.  This style of filmmaking is defined by the fact that no screenplays are used in the creation of the film.  In an interview in Variety Shaw explains, "In Zen filmmaking the spontaneous creative energy of the filmmaker is the only defining factor.  This allows for a spiritually pure source of immediate inspiration to be the only guide in the filmmaking process."  He also extensively defined this style of filmmaking in a book he authored in 2008 titled, Zen Filmmaking.

Needless to say but he gets more things done before 9am than the entire armed forces.  He makes me feel insecure since I took two days to clean the entire house and he probably cleaned his in less time than it took to type that sentence.  One good thing, MMTV has a new director that I will be writing about since Scott Shaw has many, many more films than just these three.

The Roller Blade Seven (1991)

  • Directed: Donald G. Jackson
  • Produced: Donald G. Jackson, Scott Shaw
  • Written: Donald G. Jackson, Scott Shaw
  • Starring: Scott Shaw, Karen Black, Don Stroud, Frank Stallone, Joe Estevez, William Smith, Rhonda Shear, Jill Kelly
  • Music: Scott Shaw
  • Editing: Scott Shaw
  • Cinematography: Donald G. Jackson
  • Studio: The Rebel Corp.
  • Distributed:
    • Video Omega
    • York Entertainment
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 1991
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The Roller Blade Seven unfolds in an abstract, dreamlike structure, utilizing minimal dialogue and repetition of footage in key scenes.  Several sequences occur repeatedly, such as a scene in which the protagonist is seen to get on his motorcycle and ride out of a car-park eight times in a row, leaving from a different parking bay each time.

The film follows Hawk Goodman (Scott Shaw) who is sent on a mission by Father Donaldo (Donald G. Jackson) to rescue his sister, Sister Sparrow Goodman, from the clutches of the evil overlord Pharaoh (William Smith) in the apocalyptic world of the future.  The film takes place in a region known as the George Lucas is gonna sue somebody! Wheelzone whose populace travels solely by the means of roller skates or skateboards. Hawk, however, arrives riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Sister Sparrow has been abducted from the Master of Light Institute by the evil Saint Offender (Joe Estevez).  Before Hawk can complete his task, he must take psychedelic mushrooms with cult movie actress Karen Black and learn to rollerblade.  Armed only with his samurai sword, Hawk does battle with the Black Knight (Frank Stallone), rollerblading ninjas and other gangs that inhabit the Wheelzone.  Joining him on this mission are a Kabuki mime with a wiffle bat, a rollerblading banjo player entirely swathed in bandages and a pacifist named Stella Speed.

The Invisible Man and his Tranny Pal! Pharoh's minions have been abducting women to make them his slaves.  He explains that he uses a wheelchair due to an old skateboarding accident, and he longs for the days when he used to be able to ride a skateboard.

There is also an alternate version of the film titled, Hawk: Warrior of the Wheelzone.  In the documentary film Interview: The Documentary the two filmmakers, Donald G. Jackson and Scott Shaw discuss the process they followed in creating this film.  The majority of the dialogue for this film was based upon two books written by Scott Shaw: "Essence" and "Time".

Legend of the Roller Blade Seven (1992)

  • Directed: Donald G. Jackson
  • Produced: Donald G. Jackson, Scott Shaw
  • Written: Donald G. Jackson, Scott Shaw
  • Starring: Scott Shaw, Karen Black, Don Stroud, Frank Stallone, Joe Estevez, William Smith, Rhonda Shear, Jill Kelly
  • Music: Scott Shaw
  • Editing: Scott Shaw
  • Cinematography: Donald G. Jackson
  • Studio: The Rebel Corp.
  • Distributed:
    • Video Omega
    • York Entertainment
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 1992
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

This film is sometimes titled “Legend of the Roller Blade 7” in the media and on the internet, though this was not the actual release title.

This film stars much of the cast from the original feature, including: Scott Shaw, William Smith, Frank Stallone, Karen Black,Don Stroud, Rhonda Shear and Joe Estevez.  Adult film star Jill Kelly can also be seen in this film.

This film takes place in an apocalyptic land of the future known as The Wheelzone.  In this place there are no cars and people travel on skates and skateboards.

The plot of this film traces the exploits of Hawk Goodman (played by Shaw), who is on a quest to rescue several young ladies from the grasp of the evil overlord Pharaoh (played by Smith).

Because this film was composed of footage taken from the other two features associated with this project, The Legend of the Roller Blade Seven follows a very similar storyline to The Roller Blade Seven, with a few elements added from Return of the Roller Blade Seven.  Most notably, a very extensive fight scene where a large number of combatants battle with samurai swords and martial arts.

This film is commonly referred to in the media as the first of two sequels to the cult classic The Roller Blade Seven.  The second sequel, Return of the Roller Blade Seven, was released in 1993.

Though the film is considered the second film in The Roller Blade Seven Trilogy, according to Scott Shaw, this is not the case. In an article he wrote,  The Making of the Roller Blade Seven, that was published in several industry journals, including Independent Film and Video, he states that the executive producer took the other two films associated with this movie: The Roller Blade Seven and Return of the Roller Blade Seven, had them reedited, and combined them into one single film, thereby creating this feature film.  This action was taken without the consent or approval of the two filmmakers.  He states that this film, The Legend of the Roller Blade Seven is, therefore, not endorsed by either Donald G. Jackson nor himself.

The article goes on to state that the actual third film intended for The Roller Blade Seven Trilogy is titled, “Wheelzone Rangers”. This is a film that has not yet been produced.

 

Return of the Roller Blade Seven (1992)

  • Directed: Donald G. Jackson
  • Produced: Donald G. Jackson, Scott Shaw
  • Written: Donald G. Jackson, Scott Shaw
  • Starring: Scott Shaw, Karen Black, Don Stroud, Frank Stallone, Joe Estevez, William Smith, Rhonda Shear, Jill Kelly
  • Music: Scott Shaw
  • Editing: Scott Shaw
  • Cinematography: Donald G. Jackson
  • Studio: The Rebel Corp.
  • Distributed:
    • Video Omega
    • York Entertainment
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 1993
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The film features much of the cast from the first film; including Scott Shaw, Joe Estevez, Don Stroud, Karen Black, Frank Stallone, and Jill Kelly.

This film picks up where The Roller Blade Seven leaves off. It follows the further adventures of the lead character, Hawk Goodman, played by Shaw.

As was the case of the first two films associated with this project, this film is based on the spiritual redemption of its lead characters.  This movie was filmed in visually striking locations.  It is filled with abstract dialogue and has a non-linear storyline.

The Return of the Roller Blade Seven was created in the distinct style of filmmaking known as Zen Filmmaking. This style of filmmaking was created by Scott Shaw and Donald G. Jackson.  In this style of filmmaking no scripts are used.

After awhile there seems to be a pattern forming in these descriptions.  I may be insane now also.


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Thursday, August 29, 2013

CC: The Unnamable II (1992) Shadow of The Unnamable (2011)

So tonight we will be exploring the sequels to last week’s stories and movie, please go here for your literary background.

The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992)

  • Directed: Jean-Paul Ouellette
  • Produced: Jean-Paul Ouellette, Alexandra Durrell
  • Written:
    • Jean-Paul Ouellette (Screenplay)
    • H. P. Lovecraft (Short Story)
  • Starring: Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Charles Klausmeyer, Maria Ford, John Rhys-Davies, Julie Strain
  • Music: David Bergeaud
  • Editing:
    • William C. Williams
    • Bill Wilner
  • Cinematography:
    • Greg Gardiner
    • Roger Olkowski
  • Studio:
    • The Unnamable Productions Co.
    • Yankee Classic Pictures
  • Distributed:
    • Prism Entertainment Corporation (VHS)
    • Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment (DVD)
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: March, 1993
  • Running Time: 104 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter is a 1993 horror film.  It incorporates elements from the short story "The Statement of Randolph Carter" by H.P. Lovecraft, and is a sequel to The Unnamable, which is loosely based on the short story of the same name, also by Lovecraft.

Mark Kinsey Stephenson reprises the role of Randolph Carter from the previous film, while Charles Clausmeyer appears as Howard.  John Rhys-Davies plays Professor Warren, and David Warner plays the dean of the university.

David Warner is also featured in the film Necronomicon, starring alongside Jeffrey Combs, who plays Lovecraft himself.

The film opens outside the Winthrop house from the first film, only this time it is swarming with police officers and medical technicians.  Howard is being wheeled into an ambulance because he has three deep gashes in his chest, Tanya is put into a police car, and Randolph is carrying Joshua Winthrop's book of spells, which he gives to Howard for safe keeping.  Randolph confronts the Dean of the university about the house, who tells him not to dabble in things that he could never understand.  Then Randolph goes to Professor Warren, who agrees to help.

Howard is dragged along and the three go the spot where Randolph erupted from the ground in the first film. Howard is to stay near the car to keep guard.  Eventually, Warren and Carter find Alyda, Joshua Winthrop's demon daughter (Joshua Winthrop appears to Howard in a dream at some point to confess that he caused his daughter's evilness) wrapped up in the roots of the tree that dragged Alyda out from the house in the first film.  Warren injects the monstrous being with insulin to rid her body of the demon.  This plan works, and she transforms into a beautiful woman, naked and wrapped in the tree roots.  She is given sugar to bring her out of the insulin overdose, and the pair free her from her bonds.  The demon is still in the caves, though, and it begins to hunt Alyda down so that they can be one again.  After a showdown in the Arkham Library, Randolph manages to defeat the demon, but Alyda dies simultaneously.

 

Shadow of the Unnamable (2011)

  • Directed: Sascha Renninger
  • Produced: Sascha Renninger, Wilfried E. Keil
  • Written:
    • Sascha Renninger (Screenplay)
    • H. P. Lovecraft (Short Story)
  • Starring: Jeff Motherhead, Robert Lyons, Nina Kasper, Matthias Hahn, Erich Kunkel, Markus Grimm, Frank Müller, Stephanie Krug
  • Music: Andreas Meyer
  • Editing: Florian Eisner, Sascha Renninger
  • Cinematography: Wilfried E. Keil
  • Studio: Church Hill Pictures
  • Distributed: Church Hill Pictures
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: September‭ ‬17,‭ ‬2011 (First Screening)
  • Running Time: 16 minutes
  • Country: Germany
  • Language: English

Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Unnamable, Sascha Renninger’s Shadow of the Unnamable manages to capture all of the aspects of Lovecraft’s work that make it memorable in a brilliant mix of mood, visual composition and digital and animated effects.

The short starts off as two friends argue in a cemetery.  Randolph Carter (Robert Lyons) is a novelist who is prone to writing about the dark and sinister, though his friend Joel Manton (Jeff Motherhead) derides him for ending his stories with events or imagery that are too horrible to name or describe.  By Joel’s estimation, nothing is indescribable or unnamable, as one of Randolph’s stories would suggest, and Randolph goes about filling in some of the back story to help flesh out how he got to such a nondescript ending.  As the story nonchalantly unfolds, night falls and the two men find themselves suddenly in the midst of the mysterious legend they’ve been discussing.


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WTFW: Forbidden Zone (1982)

And a new standard for the weirdest thing I have ever watched has now been set.  Holy crap this movie is weird!

The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, formed in late 1972 by Richard Elfman, was a musical theater troupe in the tradition of Spike Jones and Frank Zappa, performing an eclectic repertoire ranging from Cab Calloway covers to instrumentals in the style of Balinese gamelan and Russian ballet music.  The name was inspired by a fictional secret society on the Amos 'n' Andy TV series called The Mystic Knights of the Sea.  Most of the members performed in whiteface and clown makeup, and a typical show contained music ranging from the 1890s to the 1950s, in addition to original material.  This version of the band employed as many as 15 musicians at any given time, playing over 30 instruments, including some instruments built by band members.  While this Richard Elfman-led incarnation of the group performed live, it did not issue any recordings.

As Richard Elfman's interest shifted to filmmaking, he passed leadership of the band to younger brother Danny Elfman, who had recently returned from spending time in Africa playing violin and studying percussion instruments. They gained a following in Los Angeles, and appeared as contestants on The Gong Show in 1976, winning the episode they appeared on with 24 points out of a possible 30 (and without getting gonged).  The Gong Show presentation included an accordion, a purple dragon and a gaseous rocket-man.  Later in 1976, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo released a doo-wop styled novelty single about kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst entitled "You Got Your Baby Back".  Both this track and the B-side "Ballad of the Caveman" were written and sung by Danny Elfman.  The band appeared as extras in hallucinatory sequences in the 1977 movie I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

Forbidden Zone is a 1982 musical comedy film based upon the stage performances of the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.  Originally shot on black-and-white film, the story of Forbidden Zone involves an alternate universe accessed through a door in the house of the Hercules family.  Directed and produced by Richard Elfman, who co-wrote the film with fellow Mystic Knights member Matthew Bright, it was the first film scored by his brother Danny Elfman.  The film stars Hervé Villechaize, Susan Tyrrell and members of the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, and features appearances by Warhol Superstar Viva, Joe Spinell and The Kipper Kids.  Hervé Villechaize kicked his check back into the production, even painted sets on weekends.  The only actual paid actor was Phil Gordon, who played Flash.  All the other SAG actors kicked their checks back into the show.

Forbidden Zone was made as an attempt to capture the essence of The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo's live performances on film, and also as a means for both Richard Elfman to retire from music to work on film projects, and to serve as a transition between Oingo Boingo's former cabaret style and a New Wave-based style.  Amid negative reactions to content in the film that had been perceived as being offensive, the film was screened as a midnight movie, received positive notice, and developed a cult following.  In 2004, the film was digitally restored, and in 2008, the film was colorized.

Forbidden Zone (1982)

  • Directed: Richard Elfman
  • Produced: Richard Elfman
  • Written:
    • Matthew Bright (Screenplay)
    • Nick James (Screenplay)
    • Nick L. Martinson (Screenplay)
    • Richard Elfman (Story and Screenplay)
  • Starring: Hervé Villechaize, Susan Tyrrell, Gisele Lindley, Jan Stuart Schwartz, Marie-Pascale Elfman, Virginia Rose, Ugh-Fudge Bwana, Phil Gordon, Hyman Diamond, Toshiro Boloney, Danny Elfman, Viva, Joe Spinell, The Kipper Kids
  • Music: Danny Elfman
  • Editing: Martin Nicholson
  • Cinematography: Gregory Sandor
  • Studio: Hercules Films Ltd.
  • Distributed: Samuel Goldwyn Company
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: March 21, 1982
  • Running Time: 73 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
The film begins on "Friday, April 17" at 4 pm in Venice, California.  Huckleberry P. Jones (Gene Cunningham), local pimp, narcotics peddler and slumlord, enters a vacant house that he owns.  While stashing heroin in the basement, he stumbles upon a mysterious door and enters it, falling into the Sixth Dimension, from which he promptly escapes.  After retrieving the heroin, he sells the house to the Hercules family.  On their way to school, Frenchy Hercules (Marie-Pascale Elfman) and her brother Flash (Phil Gordon) have a conversation with Squeezit Henderson (Matthew Bright), who tells them that, while being violently beaten by his mother, he had a vision of his transgender sister René (also played by Bright), who had fallen into the Sixth Dimension through the door in the Hercules' basement.  Frenchy returns home to confide in her mother, and decides to take just a "little peek" behind the forbidden door in the basement.  After arriving in the Sixth Dimension, she is captured by the perpetually topless Princess, who brings Frenchy to the rulers of the Sixth Dimension, the midget King Fausto (Hervé Villechaize) and his queen, Doris (Susan Tyrrell).  When the king falls for Frenchy, Queen Doris orders their frog servant, Bust Rod, to lock her up.  In order to make sure that Frenchy is not harmed, King Fausto tells Bust Rod to take Frenchy to Cell 63, where the king keeps his favorite concubines (as well as René).  The next day at school, Flash tries to convince Squeezit to help him rescue René and Frenchy.  When Squeezit refuses, Flash enlists the help of Gramps instead.  In the Sixth Dimension, they speak to an old Jewish man who tells them how to help Frenchy escape, but they soon are captured by Bust Rod.  Queen Doris interrogates Flash and Gramps and then lowers them into a large septic tank.  She then plots her revenge against Frenchy, relocating all the denizens of Cell 63 to a torture chamber.  She leaves the Princess to oversee Frenchy's torture and execution, but when a fuse is blown, the torture is put on hold and the prisoners from cell 63 are relocated to keep the King from finding them.

After escaping the septic tank, Flash and Gramps come across a woman who tells them that she was once happily married to the king, until Doris stole the throne by seducing her, "even though she's not my type".  The ex-queen has been sitting in her cell for 1,000 years, and has been writing a screenplay in order to keep her sanity. Meanwhile, Pa Hercules is blasted through the stratosphere by an explosion caused by improperly extinguishing his cigarette in a vat of highly flammable tar during his work break at the La Brea Tar Pit Factory.  After re-entry, Pa falls through the Hercules family basement and into the Sixth Dimension, where he is imprisoned.  Finding a phone, Flash calls Squeezit and again asks for his help.  Finally, Squeezit agrees to go into the Sixth Dimension to help rescue Frenchy and René.  There, he is captured by Satan (Danny Elfman), with whom he makes a deal to bring him the Princess in exchange for Satan's help freeing René and Frenchy.  After Squeezit accomplishes this task, Satan tells him not to worry about his friends before having him decapitated.  Queen Doris sends Bust Rod to keep an eye on the king, and to ensure he doesn't find out where she's hidden Frenchy.  King Fausto catches Bust Rod and forces him to lead him to Frenchy and René, whom he orders to leave the Sixth Dimension to avoid the Queen's wrath.  However, en route to safety, René is stricken with pseudo-menstrual cramps, and they are again captured by the frog.  Squeezit's head, which has now sprouted chicken wings, finds the king and informs him of what has happened.  While preparing to kill Frenchy, Doris is confronted by the ex-queen, and the two engage in a cat-fight, with Doris eventually coming out as the victor.  Just as she is about to kill Frenchy, King Fausto stops her, explaining that Satan's Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo are holding the Princess hostage, and will kill her should anything befall Frenchy.  Flash and Gramps arrive, and Flash is knocked down by Gramps.  Ma Hercules enters and, seeing a seemingly dead Flash, shoots Queen Doris.  King Fausto mourns Doris, then marries Frenchy.  The surviving characters look toward a great future as they plan to take over everyone and everything in the Galaxy.

The film was given limited distribution during its initial theatrical release, and not well received by critics.  Some of the film's sequences and characters led to director Richard Elfman being accused of racism (because of its satirically surreal use of blackface), and even anti-Semitism.  According to Elfman, "I was attacked on every level. [...] We were kicked out of theaters; there were arson threats."  However, the film has since been rediscovered, and has gained new life as a cult film.

The film's overt use of racist caricatures are offensive to many viewers.  Some cult followers of the film see this as part of a larger critique of Hollywood films.  The racism, sexism, and simplicity of typical Hollywood films is taken to an absurd level in Forbidden Zone.  Instead of simple, poorly-written characters with racist undertones; the film almost exclusively uses bizarre overtly racist archetypes with no hint of character development.  Instead of female characters being cast and costumed more for looks than talent, the female characters here are overtly presented as sex objects in various levels of undress.  The violence depicted in the film, though portrayed with cartoonish non-realism, was more brutal than most films of the era.

The film's soundtrack has also become popular, and its theme song was eventually reused by Danny Elfman, who rearranged it as The Dilbert Zone for use as the theme for the television series Dilbert.
The film was released on VHS in the late 1980s and on DVD by Fantoma in 2004 for Region 1 viewers, and in 2006 for Region 2 by Arrow Film Distributors Ltd. with a region-free Blu-ray release by Arrow in 2012.  In 2008, the film was colorized by Legend Films.  This version of the film is being sold as a download and on DVD from RiffTrax.  In June 2009 it was revealed that a sequel was in pre-production.



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WATN: David Naughton

When I decided to start doing Where Are They Now again, it had a sporadic schedule on the old wordpress site, I wanted to start off with an actor that effected my taste in horror movies for the rest of my life.  The first name that came to mind was the star of what I consider to be the best werewolf movie ever made, An American Werewolf In London.

David Walsh Naughton (born February 13, 1951) is an American actor and singer known for his starring roles in the 1981 horror film, An American Werewolf in London, and the 1980 Walt Disney comedy, Midnight Madness.  He also starred in the short-lived sitcom Makin' It and sang its hit theme song "Makin' It".

Naughton was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Rosemary (Walsh) and Joseph Naughton, both of whom were teachers.  He is the brother of theater and film actor James Naughton.  His family is Irish American.  Naughton attended the University of Pennsylvania and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.

Naughton first became widely known as a result of his four year stint singing and dancing in TV commercials and personal appearances to promote Dr Pepper.  He starred in the sitcom Makin' It and hit the Billboard Top Ten in 1979 with the show's theme song, also titled "Makin' It".  A US million selling disc, the track also peaked at #44 in the UK Singles Chart.  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.  He also appeared in the television series My Sister Sam and also in episodes of MacGyver, Melrose Place, Murder, She Wrote, JAG and Seinfeld.

 

Makin' It (1979)

The show was set in Passaic, New Jersey and was about the daily life of Billy Manucci, a young man who frequented the local disco club, Inferno, at night while working at an ice cream parlor called Tasty Treats during the day.  Manucci was highly influenced by the disco craze and the movie Saturday Night Fever specifically.

Makin' It had the misfortune of coming to air near the end of the disco fad as backlash against the disco culture (such as the one portrayed in the show) was rising in the United States, culminating in Disco Demolition Night in the summer of 1979.  As such, it lasted only eight weeks on air before being canceled.

Robert Stigwood, the producer of Saturday Night Fever as well as the Bee Gees' manager, was involved in the show's creation, as was Garry Marshall.  The theme song, sung by David Naughton, reached #5 on the Billboard Top 40 charts in 1979.  It entered the Top 40 on May 12, nearly two months after the show had been canceled.  The song was also featured in the Bill Murray movie Meatballs.

David Naughton played the lead role of Billy Manucci.

Midnight Madness (1980)

The crux of this limited, juvenile comedy is a complex game that begins at midnight and ends by morning.  Of main interest is the fact that a young Michael J. Fox plays one of the students involved in the game.  Leon (Alan Solomon) has spent a year creating the game and practically needs that long to convince his fellow students to play it. Eventually he wins out, and the various teams of classic stereotypes -- the nerd, the well-groomed hero, the obnoxious sorority sister, the easily duped freshman, and others -- all converge on Los Angeles at midnight.  Their treks take them through the Griffith Observatory which because of those odd hours astronomers keep, could conceivably be open. Other locales are interestingly open too, apparently Los Angeles never sleeps.

Naughton plays Adam Larson - Yellow Team Leader.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

The film starts with two young American men, David Kessler (played by Naughton) and Jack Goodman (played by Griffin Dunne), on a backpacking holiday in 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 generally gave the film favorable reviews.  The film won the 1981 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and an Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup.  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 has been referred to as a cult classic.

The film was followed by a 1997 sequel, An American Werewolf in Paris, which featured a completely different cast and none of the original crew, and is distributed by Disney's Hollywood Pictures.  A Hindi film Junoon was also inspired by this movie.

Empire magazine named An American Werewolf in London as the 107th greatest film of all time in September 2008.

Hot Dog... The Movie (1984)

The film stars Patrick Houser as Harkin Banks, a young and ambitious freestyle skier from Idaho who is determined to prove himself in a freestyle skiing competition at Squaw Valley.  Along the way he teams with a pack of fun-loving incorrigibles (whose leader, Dan O'Callahan is played by David Naughton), picks up an Austrian arch-nemesis named Rudi (John Patrick Reger), and enters a love triangle with a pair of blondes, a young woman named Sunny (Tracy N. Smith) and the more mature Sylvia Fonda (played by Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed in one of her first major film roles).  The movie ends with a terrific extended race scene, all of the characters take part in a 'Chinese Downhill' to determine the real champion of the competition.

My Sister Sam (1986–1988)

The sitcom follows the lives of a 29-year-old San Francisco freelance photographer named Samantha "Sam" Russell (Pam Dawber) and her 16-year-old sister Patti (Rebecca Schaeffer). Sam's life is turned upside down when Patti, who has been living with the sisters' Aunt Elsie and Uncle Bob after the death of the girls' parents in rural Oregon, shows up on Sam's door step and announces that she is going to live with Sam.

The supporting cast includes Sam's neurotic agent Jordan Dylan "J.D." Lucas (Joel Brooks), Sam's sarcastic assistant Dixie Randazzo (Jenny O'Hara) and Jack Kincaid (David Naughton), Sam's womanizing photojournalist neighbor who frequently stops by Sam's apartment.

The series was created by Stephen Fischer and was developed by Pam Dawber's production company, Pony Productions (in association with Warner Bros. Television).  The series was initially intended to be a starring vehicle for Dawber who found success on television opposite Robin Williams in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy.  Dawber later said that she wanted the focus of the show to be on the cast as a whole stating, "I am not a comedian. I'm a reactor to all the zany people who revolve around me."

Amityville: A New Generation (1993)

Amityville: A New Generation is the seventh installment in the Amityville Horror saga.  It was released direct to video in 1993.  Republic Pictures released this movie in R-rated and unrated versions.  Lionsgate Home Entertainment and FremantleMedia North America has released this film to DVD in July 2005.

Keyes Terry is an art photographer who is given a mirror by a homeless person he meets on the streets.  After taking the mirror home, he eventually realizes that it is possessed with the spirit of his father, Franklin Bronner, who murdered his family on Thanksgiving with a shotgun in the original Amityville house.

David Naughton plays the role of Dick Cutler.

Big Bad Wolf (2006)

In Cameroon, a group of hunters is attacked by a wild animal, and Charlie Cowley survives but sees his brother Scott dying. Hyperbolically, seven years later, his teenage nephew Derek Cowley steals the key of his stepfather's cabin in the isolated Fire Road 13 and travels with four classmates and his friend Sam to spend the weekend having a party with booze and sex.  However, they are attacked by a beast that kills his friends in a sadistic way.  Sam and Derek survive, and they suspect that his stepfather, Mitchell Toblat, is a werewolf.  When Charlie meets Derek and Sam, they decide to collect evidence to prove that Mitchell is the beast and kill him, but Mitchell discovers their plot and chases the trio.

David Naughton rock the crap out of the Sheriff Ruben character.

Currently Naughton is active in voice acting and a series on BYUtv, Granite Flats.

Taken directly from the Salt Lake Tribune website…"Granite Flats," which debuted Sunday April 7th, 2013 on BYUtv, looks good.  It’s nicely written.  There are good performances, for the most part.

If you are flipping channels and come across "Granite Flats," there’s nothing about it that feels preachy or — yes — Mormon.

Executive producer and BYUtv general manager Derek Marquis described it as "a cross between ‘The Wonder Years’ and ‘"The Goonies’ " — and he’s right.

It begins as recently widowed Beth Milligan (Annie Tedesco) and her 12-year-old son, Arthur (Jonathan Morgan Heit), who move to the small town of Granite Flats after their husband/father was killed in an Air Force crash.  And not all is as it seems.  Are there UFOs?  Are the Soviets planning an attack?  What is the FBI up to?

It’s filled with likable characters.  And parallel, often intersecting storylines involving the kids and the adults.

There’s also no sexual innuendo or R-rated language.  But that doesn’t mean this is a kiddie show.  Kids will like it, but so will parents and grandparents.


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Monday, August 26, 2013

ICFIFC: The Handmaid’s Tail (1990)

Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985.  Set in the near future, in a totalitarian Christian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government, The Handmaid's Tale explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain agency.  The novel's title was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, which is a series of connected stories ("The Merchant's Tale", "The Parson's Tale", etc.).

Human agency is the capacity for human beings to make choices.  It is normally contrasted to natural forces, which are causes involving only unthinking deterministic processes.  In this respect, agency is subtly distinct from the concept of free will, the philosophical doctrine that our choices are not the product of causal chains, but are significantly free or undetermined.  Human agency entails the claim that humans do in fact make decisions and enact them on the world.  How humans come to make decisions, by free choice or other processes, is another issue.

The Handmaid's Tale won the 1985 Governor General's Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987; it was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award.  It has been adapted for the cinema, radio, opera, and stage.

The Handmaid's Tale is set in the near future in the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic military dictatorship formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America.  It was founded by a racist, homophobic, Christian nativist-derived, theocratic-organized cult's military coup as an ideologically driven response to the country's ecological, physical and social degradation.

Beginning with a staged terrorist attack (blamed on Islamic extremist terrorists) that kills the President and most of Congress, a movement calling itself the "Sons of Jacob" launches a revolution and suspends the United States Constitution under the pretext of restoring order.  They are quickly able to take away all of women's rights, largely attributed to financial records being stored electronically and labeled by gender.  This allows the new rulers to freeze women's bank accounts (the story also takes place in a future of a cashless society utilizing electronic money which leaves them with no funds after this), then outlaw employing them.  The new regime moves quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical, compulsorily cult-Christian regime of selectively skewed Old Testament-inspired social and religious ultra-conservatism among its newly created social classes.  In this society, almost all women are forbidden to read.

The story is presented from the point of view of a woman called Offred (literally Of-Fred).  The character is one of a class of individuals kept as concubines ("handmaids") for reproductive purposes by the ruling class in an era of declining births due to sterility from pollution and sexually transmitted diseases.  The book is told in the first person by Offred, who describes her life during her third assignment as a handmaid, in this case to Fred (referred to as "The Commander").  Interspersed in flashbacks are portions of her life from before and during the beginning of the revolution, when she finds she has lost all autonomy to her husband, through her failed attempt to escape with her husband and daughter to Canada, to her indoctrination into life as a handmaid.  Through her eyes, the structure of Gilead's society is described, including the several different categories of women and their circumscribed lives in the new theocracy.


The Handmaid's Tale (1990)

  • Directed: Volker Schlöndorff
  • Produced: Daniel Wilson
  • Written:
    • Margaret Atwood (Novel)
    • Harold Pinter (Screenplay)
  • Starring:
    • Natasha Richardson (Kate/Offred)
    • Faye Dunaway (Serena Joy)
    • Robert Duvall (The Commander, Fred)
    • Aidan Quinn (Nick)
    • Elizabeth McGovern (Moira)
  • Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Editing: David Ray
  • Cinematography: Igor Luther
  • Studio:
    • Bioskop Film 
    • Cinecom Entertainment Group 
    • Cinétudes Films 
    • Daniel Wilson Productions Inc. 
    • Master Partners 
    • Odyssey
  • Distributed: Metro Goldwyn Mayer
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: February 15, 1990
  • Running Time: 109 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

In the near future war rages across the fictional Republic of Gilead and pollution has rendered 99% of the population sterile.  Kate is captured after seeing her husband killed and daughter kidnapped while the family tried to escape into Canada.  Kate is trained to become a Handmaid, a concubine for one of the privileged but barren couples who rule the country's religious fundamentalist regime.  Although she resists being indoctrinated into the bizarre cult of the Handmaids, mixing Old Testament orthodoxy and misogyny with 12-step gospel and ritualized violence, Kate is soon assigned to the home of the Commander and his cold, inflexible wife, Serena Joy.  There she is renamed "Offred" - "of Fred".

She is forced to lie between Serena Joy's legs and have sex with the Commander, in hopes that she will bear them a child.  Kate continually longs for her earlier life.  She soon learns that many of the nation's male leaders are as sterile as their wives.  She decides to risk the punishment for fornication — death by hanging — in order to be fertilized by another man who will make her pregnant, and subsequently, spare her life.  The other man turns out to be Nick, the Commander's sympathetic driver.  Kate grows attached to him and eventually becomes pregnant with his child.

Kate ultimately kills the Commander, then hides from the men who come looking for her.  She thinks that the men are the Eyes, the governments secret police.  However, it turns out that they are soldiers from the resistance movement, which Nick, too, is a part of.  Kate then flees with them, leaving Nick behind in an emotional scene.

In the closing scene, Kate is shown pregnant and alone in a stationary caravan.  She reminisces about Nick and the current situation, hoping that once the resistance has won, she and Nick will be together and she will be reunited with her daughter.

In the book, the story takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, predominantly in Harvard Square, on the Harvard campus, and in the general area.  Harvard Square is a terribly busy place, however, and it would have been almost impossible to clear the Square for the scenes in question.  In addition, Harvard University has a "no filming" policy that prohibits any filming from taking place on their campus.  Duke University in North Carolina substituted.

The repressive theocratic regime that has taken over the US in this movie (and its source novel) is called "The Republic of Gilead."  Gilead is a place (or maybe several places) mentioned repeatedly in the Bible (first in Genesis 31:23), both as a geographic location and the source of a figurative or literal "balm" (curative or healing substance). Based on those constant Bible references, there is a well-known spiritual, "There is a Balm in Gilead," that is in the hymnals of many Christian denominations, and in the book The Handmaid's Tale, Offred remembers the hymn and makes a joke about it.


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Friday, August 23, 2013

DNDF: Conspiracies

Something irritated me this morning so I will be breaking with the usual format to use this article as a soapbox to exercise my righteous indignation.  Every morning as my wife gets ready for work she flips on ABC to watch Good Morning America as she has done for as long as I have known her.  I, of course, would rather watch cartoons but that’s because I am an overgrown man-child who watches B-movies all day and pretends to be a house husband and I need all the entertainment I can get. 

Today I listened to George Stephanopoulos talk about how the latest animated movie from Disney rocked with a vengeance and all the while he and his co-hosts were up-selling the live performance of “The Wanted” that would be coming up later in the hour.  I get excited because I remember “The Wanted” as a British import hard rock band from the 60s and 70s so you can imagine my surprise when a bunch of punk ass teens come out and play some manufactured pop song that was most definitely not worthy of banging my increasingly hairless head to.  I make reference to a cartoon mouse and I get a cease and desist order, they violate a trademark and it’s ok.  Then it hits me.  George Stephanopoulos, you used to be the press secretary for the White House.  Your co-hosts were once respected journalists, and now you all are shrilling for your Disney overlords and wouldn’t dare to tell the truth that “Planes” is just “Cars” with propellers and both still suck. 

Thus, my eyes are now open and I see all the strings being manipulated behind what they call “news” at the ABC network.  So join me by putting on your tin foil hats and please to peruse the following films and mix and match to make your own conspiracy filled double feature date night.  I will only be giving credits and summaries since I couldn’t stop myself from finding all that I felt worked into my delusion.


The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

  • Directed: John Frankenheimer
  • Produced: George Axelrod, John Frankenheimer
  • Written:
    • Richard Condon (Novel)
    • George Axelrod (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory, Paul Frees
  • Music: David Amram
  • Editing: Ferris Webster
  • Cinematography: Lionel Lindon
  • Studio: M.C. Productions
  • Distributed: United Artists
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: October 24, 1962
  • Running Time: 126 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

An unusually tense and intelligent political thriller, The Manchurian Candidate was a film far ahead of its time.  Its themes of thought control, political assassination, and multinational conspiracy were hardly common currency in 1962, and while its outlook is sometimes informed by Cold War paranoia, the film seemed nearly as timely when it was reissued in 1987 as it did on its original release.  It opens with a group of soldiers whooping it up in a bar in Korea as their commander, Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), arrives to inform them that they're back on duty.  These men obviously have no fondness for Shaw, and he feels no empathy for them.  While on patrol, Shaw and his platoon are ambushed by Korean troops.  Months later, Shaw is receiving a hero's welcome as he returns to the United States to accept the Congressional Medal of Honor, and several of the soldiers who served under Shaw repeatedly refer to him as "the bravest, finest, most lovable man I ever met."  It soon becomes evident that after their capture by the Koreans, Shaw and his men were subjected to an intense program of brainwashing prior to their release.  While several are troubled by bad dreams and inexplicable behavior, it's Capt. Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) who seems the most haunted by the experience.  In time, Marco is able to piece together what happened; it seems Raymond Shaw was programmed by a shadowy cadre of Russian and Chinese agents into a killing machine who will assassinate anyone, even a close friend, when given the proper commands.  On the other side of the coin, Shaw is also used for political gain by his harridan mother (Angela Lansbury), who guides the career of her second husband, John Iselin (James Gregory), a bone-headed congressman hoping to win the vice-presidential nomination through a campaign of anti-Communist hysteria.

They Saved Hitler's Brain (1968)

  • Directed: David Bradley
  • Produced: Carl Edwards
  • Written: Steve Bennett, Peter Miles
  • Starring: Walter Stocker, Audrey Caire, Carlos Rivas
  • Editing: Alan Marks
  • Cinematography: Stanley Cortez
  • Studio:
    • Paragon Films Inc.
    • Sans-S
  • Distributed:
    • Mill Creek Entertainment (2009) (USA) (DVD) 
    • Rhino Home Video (2000) (USA) (DVD) 
    • Rhino Home Video (USA) (VHS)
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 18 August 1968
  • Running Time: 91 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

They Saved Hitler's Brain is a 1969 science fiction film that was adapted for television from a shorter theatrical feature film, Madmen of Mandoras, directed by David Bradley.  The film was lengthened with about twenty minutes additional footage shot by UCLA students at the request of the distributor.  As the original footage was shot several years earlier, the differences in costumes and production values are rather obvious.

World War II is over, and Nazi officials remove Adolf Hitler's living head and hide it in the fictional South American country of Mandoras, so that they can resurrect the Third Reich for the future.  It fast forwards into the 1960s, and the surviving officials kidnap a scientist in an attempt to keep Hitler alive.  Various intelligence agencies, aware of the evil plot, recruit secret agents to bust the Nazi officials.

The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler (1971)

  • Directed: Bob Wynn
  • Produced: Robert Stabler
  • Written: Jay Simms, Tom Rolf
  • Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Bradford Dillman, James Daly
  • Music: Marlin Skiles
  • Editing: Jerry Greene
  • Cinematography: Bob Boatman
  • Studio: Madison Productions Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • Gold Key Entertainment (USA) (theatrical) 
    • JEF Films (all media) 
    • Vidtronics (all media)
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: November 1971
  • Running Time: 100 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Television newsman Harry Walsh (Leslie Nielsen) holds fast to the maxim "seeing is believing" in this political/medical thriller, with science-fiction overtones.  Harry saw a well-known U.S. Senator (Bradford Dillman) have a car accident, and took video coverage on the scene.  When he arrives at the hospital to follow up on the story, he is told that no such person is, or ever was there.  Since the senator is a presidential hopeful, this is a very important story, and Harry keeps at it.  His TV station, which ran a report on the accident, retracts the story with an apology when the senator's office calls with the story that the senator is on a fishing trip.  Harry doesn't believe it.  In a parallel story, the senator wakes up in a hospital with all sorts of transplanted organs, etc., when he should simply be dead.  He discovers that his survival is part of a worldwide medical blackmail scheme involving world political leaders.

The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972)

  • Directed: Lamont Johnson
  • Produced: Frank Arrigo, Earl A. Glick, Hal Roach Jr., Trevor Wallace
  • Written:
    • L. P. Davies (Novel “The Alien”)
    • Douglas Heyes (Screenplay)
  • Starring: George Peppard, Michael Sarrazin, Christine Belford
  • Music: Paul Hoffert
  • Editing: Edward M. Abroms
  • Cinematography: Michael Reed
  • Studio:
    • Universal Pictures
    • Hal Roach Studios
  • Distributed:
    • Universal Pictures (USA) (theatrical)
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment (USA) (DVD)
    • MCA/Universal Home Video (USA) (VHS)
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: June 12, 1972
  • Running Time: 103 minutes
  • Country: Canada
  • Language: English

Employee John David Welles attempts to steal rocket booster plans from the Groundstar facility.  His attempt goes awry and he is badly disfigured in an explosion and barely escapes.  He stumbles to the home of Nicole Devon, and collapses.  She calls an ambulance, the authorities are alerted, and soon Welles is operated on, given plastic surgery and interrogated by a gung-ho government official named Tuxan.  But Welles claims to have no memory of his crime.  In fact, he claims no memory of his life at all, save for brief glimpses of a woman and small boy frolicking on a beach.

Despite Tuxan's brutal interrogation techniques (electro-shock and water submersion), Welles still maintains his story of total amnesia.  Tuxan allows Welles to escape, hoping he will lead them to the people behind the attempted theft.  Welles goes to Nicole's home and begs her to help him remember.  But she knows nothing.

Eventually the inside conspirators behind the attempted theft are found, and Tuxan reveals the truth to Welles, who still cannot remember any details of the crime.  John David Welles actually died en route to the hospital on the night of the explosion.  The man we have come to know as Welles is really Peter Bellamy, a government employee who recently lost his wife and son in an accident.  Bellamy, feeling that life was no longer worth living and remembering, volunteered to have his memory wiped and to play Welles in order to draw the conspirators into the open.

 

Soylent Green (1973)

  • Directed: Richard Fleischer
  • Produced: Walter Seltzer, Russell Thacher
  • Written:
    • Harry Harrison (Novel “Make Room! Make Room!”)
    • Stanley R. Greenberg (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, Edward G. Robinson
  • Music: Fred Myrow
  • Editing: Samuel E. Beetley
  • Cinematography: Richard H. Kline
  • Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Distributed: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: April 19, 1973
  • Running Time: 97 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

In 2022, Earth is overpopulated and totally polluted; the natural resources have been exhausted and the nourishment of the population is provided by Soylent Industries, a company that makes a food consisting of plankton from the oceans.  In New York, when Soylent's member of the board William R. Simonson is murdered apparently by a burglar at the Chelsea Towers West where he lives, efficient Detective Thorn is assigned to investigate the case with his partner Solomon "Sol" Roth.  Thorn comes to the fancy apartment and meets Simonson's bodyguard Tab Fielding and the "furniture" (woman that is rented together with the flat) Shirl and the detective concludes that the executive was not victim of burglary but executed.  Further, he finds that the Governor Santini and other powerful men want to disrupt and end Thorn's investigation.  But Thorn continues his work and discovers a bizarre and disturbing secret of the ingredient used to manufacture Soylent Green.

Capricorn One (1977)

  • Directed: Peter Hyams
  • Produced: Paul N. Lazarus III
  • Written: Peter Hyams
  • Starring: Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Brenda Vaccaro, Sam Waterston, O. J. Simpson, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas, David Huddleston, David Doyle, James Karen
  • Music: Jerry Goldsmith
  • Editing: James Mitchell
  • Cinematography: Bill Butler
  • Studio: ITC Entertainment
  • Distributed: Warner Bros.
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 2 June 1978
  • Running Time: 124 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Astronauts Charles Brubaker, John Walker, and Peter Willis (James Brolin, O.J. Simpson, and Sam Waterston, respectively) are hailed as heroes when they become the first men to be rocketed to Mars.  Actually the space travelers are as phony as their mission controller, Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook); to avert a failure, that a faulty life-support system supplied by a corrupt NASA contractor will kill the astronauts during the flight, that might cost the space program its funding, the Mars-bound vessel has been sent up without a crew, while the helmeted astronauts sit on a movie soundstage, pretending to be in outer space for the benefit of the TV cameras. Unfortunately the Mars ship crashes on re-entry, making the astronaut trio thoroughly expendable.  Investigative reporter Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould), who's smelled a rat all along, races against time to prevent NASA from "terminating" the hapless astronauts in order to cover up the conspiracy.

Coma (1978)

  • Directed: Michael Crichton
  • Produced: Martin Erlichman
  • Written:
    • Robin Cook (novel)
    • Michael Crichton (screenplay)
  • Starring: Geneviève Bujold, Michael Douglas, Elizabeth Ashley, Rip Torn, Richard Widmark
  • Music: Jerry Goldsmith
  • Editing: David Bretherton
  • Cinematography: Victor J. Kemper
  • Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Distributed: United Artists
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 8 February 1978
  • Running Time: 113 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

A feisty, feminist intern uncovers a medical conspiracy in this icy thriller about mysterious goings-on at Boston Memorial Hospital.  When her best friend and aerobics partner, Nancy Greenly (Lois Chiles), emerges in a vegetative state from a routine abortion, Dr. Susan Wheeler (Genevieve Bujold) does some digging and discovers an overabundance of anesthesia-induced comas among otherwise healthy young patients.  The male authority figures who challenge Susan's technically illegal tampering with medical records include her boss, Dr. Harris (Richard Widmark); the chief anesthesiologist, Dr. George (Rip Torn); and even her boyfriend, Dr. Mark Bellows (Michael Douglas), who doesn't want Susan's shenanigans to get in the way of his shot at chief resident.  As Susan continues her crusade, the paper trail leads to the Jefferson Institute, a mysterious, experimental facility in which vegetative patients are stored en masse, suspended from the ceiling by wires threaded through their long bones, in order to reduce the cost of long-term care.  A shadowy assailant begins to stalk Susan just as she uncovers the link between the Jefferson Institute and the comas at Boston Memorial, setting the stage for climactic suspense scenes involving morgues, malpractice and endless institutional corridors.  Writer/director Michael Crichton adapted his second feature film from Robin Cook's bestseller of the same name. Tom Selleck, who would star in Crichton's “Runaway” several years later, appears briefly in Coma as another victim of lethal anesthesia.

The Clonus Horror (1979)

  • Directed: Robert S. Fiveson
  • Produced: Robert S. Fiveson, Myrl A. Schreibman
  • Written:
    • Bob Sullivan (story)
    • Bob Sullivan and Ron Smith (screenplay)
    • Myrl Schreibman and Robert Fiveson (adaptation)
  • Starring: Tim Donnelly, Paulette Breen, Dick Sargent, Peter Graves, Keenan Wynn, Zale Kessler, Frank Ashmore
  • Music: Hod David Schudson
  • Editing: Robert Gordon
  • Cinematography: Max Beaufort
  • Studio: Clonus Associates
  • Distributed:
    • Group 1 International Distribution Organization Ltd.
    • Lightning Video (USA) (VHS) 
    • Mondo Macabro (USA) (DVD)
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: August 1979
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The film takes place in an isolated desert compound called Clonus, where clones are bred to be used as replacement parts for the elite, including a soon to be president-elect Jeffrey Knight (Peter Graves).  The clones are kept isolated from the real world by workers of the colony, but are promised to be "accepted" to move to "America" after they have completed some type of physical training.  After a group of clones is chosen to go to "America", they are given a party and a farewell celebration with their fellow clones.  The chosen clones are then taken to a lab where they are sedated and placed in an airtight plastic bag, and their bodies are frozen in order to preserve their organs for harvest.  The story surrounds one clone (Tim Donnelly) who begins to question the circumstances of his existence and eventually escapes the colony.  Pursued by compound guards, the clone enters a nearby city.  He is found by a retired journalist (Keenan Wynn) who takes him to his sponsor, who happens to be the brother of Jeffrey Knight.  Knight's brother, Richard (David Hooks), and his son (James Mantell), argue over what to do with the clone (who turns out to be the clone made for Richard himself).  Richard's son returns the clone to the colony to reunite with his newly developed love interest (Paulette Breen), only to find a trap waiting for him; the clone is subsequently killed and frozen.  Meanwhile, Knight, along with hired thugs of the Clonus project, arrive to interrogate Richard and his son, and both are murdered (along with the journalist who first discovered the clone) as part of Clonus' cover-up.  Knight is seemingly killed in the ensuing struggle with his brother, but reappears the next day at a press conference, where he is stunned to find that the late journalist had managed to disseminate a secret tape to the news media, exposing the Clonus project.

Hangar 18 (1980)

  • Directed: James L. Conway
  • Produced: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
  • Written:
    • Thomas C. Chapman and James L. Conway (Story)
    • Ken Pettus (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Darren McGavin, Robert Vaughn, Gary Collins, James Hampton, Pamela Bellwood
  • Music: Andrew Belling, John Cacavas
  • Editing: Michael Spence
  • Cinematography: Paul Hipp
  • Studio: Sunn Classic Pictures
  • Distributed: Sunn Classic Pictures
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: July 1980
  • Running Time: 97 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Hangar 18 involves a U.F.O. cover-up following an incident aboard the space shuttle.  The orbiter is launching a satellite, which collides with a nearby unidentified object.  The collision kills an astronaut in the launch bay.  The incident is witnessed by astronauts Price and Bancroff.

After returning to Earth, both men investigate what they know happened, but which the government tries its best to hide.  The damaged alien spacecraft has been recovered after making a controlled landing in the Arizona desert. Although the aliens on board die, the government technicians begin researching the complex ship.  On board the craft, the technicians make three discoveries:  A woman in some sort of stasis, who later awakens screaming, symbols on the control panels are the same as those found in ancient Earth civilizations, and extensive surveillance footage of power plants, military bases and major cities worldwide.

Meanwhile, with their dogged pursuit to uncover the truth, both Bancroff and Price are targeted by the government. Chased by agents, Bancroff manages to get away but Price is killed.  Bancroft eventually manages to make his way to Hangar 18, where the alien craft is being studied.

As the researchers discover evidence aboard the spacecraft that the aliens were planning to return to Earth, government agents remotely fly a jet filled with explosives into the hangar — a move aimed at killing off all involved in the cover-up in a final attempt to maintain secrecy.  After the explosion, a news bulletin is released about the hangar explosion, causing a congressional hearing for evidence about the activities in Hangar 18.  It is revealed that Bancroft and a few others survived the explosion since they were inside the alien ship.

They Live (1988)

  • Directed: John Carpenter
  • Produced: Larry Franco
  • Written:
    • Ray Nelson (Short Story “Eight O'clock in the Morning”)
    • John Carpenter (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster
  • Music: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth
  • Editing: Gib Jaffe, Frank E. Jimenez
  • Cinematography: Gary B. Kibbe
  • Studio:
    • Alive Films 
    • Larry Franco Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Universal Studios 
    • Carolco Pictures
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: November 4, 1988
  • Running Time: 94 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

John Carpenter wrote and directed this science fiction thriller about a group of aliens who try to take over the world by disguising themselves as Young Republicans.  Wrestler Roddy Piper stars as John Nada, a drifted who makes his way into an immense encampment for the homeless.  There he stumbles upon a conspiracy concerning aliens who have hypnotized the populace through subliminal messages transmitted through television, magazines, posters, and movies.  When Nada looks through special Ray-Bans developed by the resistance leaders, the aliens lose their clean-cut "Dan Quayle" looks and resemble crusty-looking reptiles.  Nada joins the underground, teaming up with rebel-leader Frank (Keith David) to eradicate the lizard-like aliens from the body politic.

Strange Days (1995)

  • Directed: Kathryn Bigelow
  • Produced: James Cameron, Steven-Charles Jaffe
  • Written:
    • James Cameron (Original Story)
    • James Cameron and Jay Cocks (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Vincent D'Onofrio, Michael Wincott
  • Music: Graeme Revell
  • Editing: James Cameron, Howard E. Smith
  • Cinematography: Matthew F. Leonetti
  • Studio: Lightstorm Entertainment
  • Distributed: 20th Century Fox
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: October 13, 1995
  • Running Time: 145 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Set in Los Angeles two days before the end of 1999, Strange Days introduces us to Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), an ex-cop turned sleazy hustler who hawks the newest underground thrill on the black market: a "squid," a headpiece that allows one to transmit digital recordings of other people's thoughts, feelings, and memories into their brain; as Lenny describes it, "this is real life, pure and uncut, straight from the cerebral cortex."  Lenny deals "clips" (the software) as well as "squids" (the hardware) for this new and illegal entertainment system, and while sex and violence are the most popular themes, Lenny refuses to deal in "blackjack" -- slang for snuff clips. Lenny is nursing a broken heart after his girlfriend, punk singer Faith Justin (Juliette Lewis), left him, and he spends a lot of time with clips he recorded when they were together.  Faith is now involved with Philo Grant (Michael Wincott), a music business tycoon who once managed Jeriko One (Glenn Plummer), a hip-hop musician and political activist whose murder has sent L.A. into a state of chaos.  When a clip emerges that shows that Jeriko was killed by L.A. police officers, Lenny finds his life in danger, and he tries to escape possible death on both sides of the law with the help of his friend Mace Mason (Angela Bassett).

Eyeborgs (2009)

  • Directed: Richard Clabaugh
  • Produced: Richard Clabaugh
  • Written: Fran Clabaugh, Richard Clabaugh
  • Starring: Adrian Paul, Megan Blake, Luke Eberl
  • Music: Mark Brisbane, Guy-Roger Duvert
  • Editing: Martin Hunter
  • Cinematography: Kenneth Wilson II
  • Studio: Crimson Wolf Productions
  • Distributed: Crimson Wolf Productions
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: April 29, 2009
  • Running Time:
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Are government surveillance cameras intended to keep us safe actually killing people?  Is it a plot by the government to suppress the opposition, or have our terrorist enemies secretly gained control of our security system and are now using it against us?  Following another major terrorist attack the US instigates an intense government surveillance program in which every camera in the country is linked into a single, all-seeing network called the ODIN system (for Optical Defense Intelligence Network).  The system includes millions of mobile, robotic surveillance cameras known as "Eyeborgs," which watch everyone for suspicious behavior, all in the name of security, law enforcement and keeping America safe.  An agent for the Department of Homeland Security grows suspicious of the system after a series of odd murders in which the physical evidence doesn't match up to what the video records show.  Now he must work outside the system to find out who is really controlling the Eyeborgs. With the help of a broadcast journalist and a purple haired Punk Rocker who turns out to be the President's nephew, he must stop a plot to assassinate the President during the final debate of the election.

The Tunnel (2011)

  • Directed: Carlo Ledesma
  • Produced: Andrew Denton, Julian Harvey, Enzo Tedeschi, Anita Jacoby, Valeria Petrenko, Ahmed Salama, Peter Thompson
  • Written: Julian Harvey, Enzo Tedeschi
  • Starring: Bel Deliá, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold, Goran D. Kleut, James Caitlin, Russell Jeffrey
  • Music: Paul Dawkins
  • Editing: Julian Harvey, Enzo Tedeschi
  • Cinematography: Shing Fung Cheung, Steve Davis
  • Studio:
    • Distracted Media 
    • Zapruder's Other Films 
    • DLSHS Film
  • Distributed: Distracted Media
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 18 May 2011
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Country: Australia
  • Language: English

An investigative reporter leads a camera crew into a maze of tunnels beneath Sydney, Australia's St. James Train Station, and learns that the South Wales Government abandoned plans to tap an underground water reserve for a very good reason.  When rumors begin to surface of a massive government cover-up, journalist Natasha Warner vows to uncover the truth about the derelict tunnel system.  As Natasha and her team descend ever deeper into darkness, they soon realize they aren't the only ones in the tunnels.  Now, one-by-one, people are disappearing. By the time the horrifying truth is uncovered, there may be no one left to tell the public of the terror that lurks just beneath the city streets.

Holy crap!  Thirteen movies and over four thousand words, that’ll do.  So remember to pick one from column A and pick another also from column A since I only made one column.  Big Brother is Watching, Fight The Power and poke Mickey in the eye since that damn rodent caused all this.


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