‘Scream’: Another stab at relevance


I was recently asked to participate in a “Scream” retrospective podcast in anticipation of the latest installment of the franchise. To brush up, I revisited the original and its two sequels after not having seen them for years.

What I had noticed was that, after years of sequels, spoofs, sequels to those spoofs, rip-offs and cinematic references, I had forgotten most of the primary films’ essentials. My memories were clouded with lesser films and the mocking send-ups of some of the original’s more climactic moments. Continue reading

Phoning it in for ‘Scream’ series


Since I have been rather preoccupied to record our own podcasts here, I’ve decided to leech onto others, so that they may do the heavy lifting (read: hours of editing).

This coming week, head over to The Avod (http://theavod.blogspot.com/) and hear a rather lengthy dissection (which ultimately becomes a vivisection) of the ‘Scream’ series with Count Vardulon (http://theavod.blogspot.com/) , The DiveMistress, “Schlockmania’s” Don Guarisco (http://www.schlockmania.com/) , and yours truly.

We celebrate (?) the return of the Wes Craven franchise with a look back at the popular series and its legacy. Most importantly, it offers me the chance to say “Skeet” in casual conversation.

Head on over to the Avod, listen to some of Count’s excellent work and spend a couple hours with us. But for god’s sake, don’t answer the phone.

Two great tastes that taste great together

I would like to talk about this trailer, but that would be breaking the first rule…

Go with what you know…

Two former box-office titans battled for relevancy doing what they are known best for in a market that has, at times, met their new releases with utter indifference. For Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups,” he herds up his usual suspects for a comedy about embracing (?) their ages. For Tom Cruise’s new vehicle, “Knight and Day,” he relies on his action hero roots, which have proved his bread and butter.

They both entered the race being bested by a gaggle of animated toys, but if either film were a clue as to what’s in store for their next chapters in their careers, they better look at some high-profile cameos on TV, pronto. Continue reading

I’ve got another Woody; is that wrong?

Damn you, Pixar!

How am I supposed to uphold my tough-guy image when you reduce me to such a mess with virtually every release.

Field of Dreams‘ used to be the benchmark in getting choked up for a film, then came Toy Story in 1995. After that, an endless parade of heart-in-the pictures followed that have literally left me with pumpkin-sized protrusions in the throat.

‘Toy Story 3’ is just the latest example of their ability to wring emotions in essentially every frame. Continue reading

‘My Cousin Vinny’ with director Jonathan Lynn

My Cousin Vinny (PG-13)
Written by:
Dale Launer
Directed by:
Jonathan Lynn
Joe Pesci as Vinny
Marissa Tomei as Mona Lisa
Fred Gwynne as Judge Chamberlain
Ralph Macchio as Billy
Mitchell Whitfield as Stan
Austin Pendleton John Gibbons
Lane Smith as Jim Trotter III
Bruce McGill as Sheriff Dean

By Scott Knopf from He Shot Cyrus

Pre-screening memories: Take one part Family-Friendly Home Invader, one part Rookie Martial Artist, and one part George Costanza Fantasy Object and you’ve got the formula for a movie Young Scott would have drooled over. And did. No distinct “initial Cousin Vinny screening” memories to speak of but I have plenty of memories of the film since then. My favorite Vinny memory is when I talked My Conservative Mother into watching this R-rated film with me with promises that probably sounded like “There’s nothing bad in it, maybe a little language.” My Conservative Mother enjoyed the movie then but denies it now.

Pesci and Tomei’s characters are incredibly unforgettable. The thick accents, Years after having seen it last, the most memorable scenes are undoubtedly the most mundane. Discussions on regional mud or how to properly prepare grits not only make for humorous dialogue but each play a pivotal role in the court case at the center of the film. Macchio, on the other hand, plays a not-so-memorable character whose friend and co-defendant is even more so. But they all serve their purpose and at the end of the day, you’ve got a movie that Scott, young and old, drools over.

New memories: The writing is so tight! Every little scene you think is unimportant or menial turns out to be a part of this gigantic puzzle. Vinny is right up there with that episode of “Law & Order” where those people stumble upon a dead body at the beginning. Herman Munster (his human name escapes me) is fantastic as the Southern judge with a distaste for shenanigans.

And of course, this movie is famous for the Oscar award that followed. The Academy and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye (Diane Lane in Unfaithful. Anyone? Anyone?) and with all the trash talk aimed towards them over Tomei’s win, I figured that the list of her competitors would be shocking and undeniably more deserving of statues. That’s what I figured until I read this list:

  • Miranda Richardson – Damage
  • Joan Plowright – Enchanted April
  • Vanessa Redgrave – Howard’s End
  • Judy Davis – Husbands and Wives

First, I have no idea who Miranda Richardson is.

Second, never heard of Damage either

C. Joan Plowright was great as Mrs. Wilson in the Dennis the Menace movie.

D. What’s Enchanted April?

Fifth, I won’t way anything bad about Vanessa Redgrave but Howard’s End is a 140-minute period piece romance taking place at the turn of the century. Which century, you ask? Not the twenty-first, I can tell you that.

E. Judy Davis? For Husbands and Wives? Thanks for trying, maybe next never.

So, these were the women who everyone thought should beat Marissa Tomei? The early 90s were an odd time for us all but this is just silly.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘My Cousin Vinny’ podcast right here

or make your case right on the site bu listening below:

Our featured guest: Director Jonathan Lynn

We once again welcome Jonathan Lynn, who actually knows a thing or two about law, having earned his degree years prior to his involvement in entertainment. Here, he chats about the casting process of Vinny, the prospective of an Englishman directing culture clashes between the States’ North and South, who was originally supposed to play Vinny, and the various rumors that have surrounded the film.

Find out about Vinny’s legacy as well as Lynn’s favorite scene in this particular podcast, and we are thankful to Mr. Lynn for hanging with us once again.

‘Lionheart’ with Harrison Page

Lionheart (1990)
Rated: R
Directed by:
Sheldon Lettich
Written by:
S.N. Warren (story)
Jean Claude Van Damme (screenplay)
Jean Claude Van Damme as Leon
Harrison Page as Joshua
Debra Rennard as Cynthia
Lisa Pelikan as Helene
Ashley Johnson as Nicole

 By Count Vardulon

jcvd kickPre-screening memories: I was old enough, when seeing Lionheart for the first time, that I can’t call it one of the most important formative movies of my childhood. True, I wasn’t a fan of martial arts films before seeing it, and afterwards I became something of a devotee of Van Damme’s, but the most vital part of the film for my developing fandom was that it reinforced the lesson, first taught by Tim Curry’s performance in the movie Clue, that following an actor from project to project would

A: Never disappoint, because if nothing else, you at least get to see a performance by someone whose work you enjoy, and

B: could possibly lead to discovering something fantastic.

harrison and jcvdWhich is my circuitous way of saying that my passion for the TV show Sledge Hammer! led directly to my lifelong love of watching people kicking other people in the face. Still inconsolable two full years after Sledge Hammer’s cancellation, seeing Harrison Page show up in television ads for upcoming film ‘Lionheart’ made me determined to see the film, which was rated a forbidding R, ensuring that I wouldn’t make it to the theatres.

When I finally saw the film on video it didn’t disappoint. Not only was Harrison Page fantastic in the film, but the action was unlike anything I’d seen in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies that dominated my childhood, or even the occasional episode of Kung Fu. After all, who needed a machine gun when you could just spin really fast and crack someone across the jaw with your heel? A lifelong fan of the genre was born, as well as a devotee of Van Damme’s ‘all downhill from here’ ouevre.

jcvd blood

New memories: I’m frankly amazed by how good this movie was. Not having seen it in years, I’d assumed that it was going to be one of those embarrassingly Natsukashi moments (that’s how you use that word, right?) where I’d created an epic action extravaganza in my mind that never actually existed – this was certainly not the case. The action certainly wasn’t up to modern choreographic standards, but everything else about the film was far better than I’d remembered.

That’s right, what impressed me most about the film was that it worked, first and foremost, as a drama. Sounds crazy, right? Van Damme’s a pretty limited actor, especially at this fresh-faced stage of his career, before that personal and professional setbacks that would reduce him to the withered husk of ‘JCVD’, but damn if it doesn’t work in this part, as a simply good, almost naïve man struggling his way through the seamy world of underground fighting. He’s helped on this journey by the even-better-than-I-remembered-it performance of Harrison Page, who provides perhaps the most raw, vulnerable, and downright emotional performance I’ve ever seen in an action film. The way his Joshua starts out sad, defeated and desperate and gradually finds a kind of purpose and nobility in training Leon is a great character arc, and it brings him to a moment, right at the end, which is unlike anything I’ve seen in an American action film.

The other thing that amazed me about the movie (other than the fact that it’s a semi-remake of Midnight Cowboy – Who knew?) was the aspect that likely affected me most as a youngster, and that’s the utter contempt that the film shows for the upper classes who are funding the brutal no-holds-barred fights. If the film’s battles aren’t the most spectacular thing ever, their settings are absolutely stunning, and steeped in subtext. Van Damme’s first professional fight is in a parking garage beneath an office building, literally taking place in the underbelly of New York’s wealth-obsessed establishment. From there the action moves out to LA, but the satirical settings don’t stop – there’s a huge pool in a beachside mansion, a squash court, and a ring constructed from the luxury automobiles of the elite who have come to watch men beat each other nearly to death. This all leads up to the final battle which takes place well within the closed walls of the upper-class, a tennis court around the back of a palatial estate. The entire film works as an attack on the kind of people who commoditize human beings, and if the message gets a little heavy-handed at times (and it does), at least the movie was trying to say something important, unlike just about all of its brethren.

I loved Lionheart as a child. As an adult, crazy as it may seem, I respect it.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Lionheart’ podcast right here

Or dropkick below and listen on our player

harrisonOur featured guest: Harrison Page

Fascinated by film at an early age, Harrison sought the Hollywood dream after serving in the military.

He began, as most starting in the business do, by snagging small roles on television, film and stage. And looking back, has amassed a resume in an astonishing amount of popular shows, including C.P.O. Sharkey, Webster, Hill Street Blues, Fame, 21 Jump Street, The Wonder Years, Quantum Leap (which earned him an Emmy nod), Melrose Place, Ally McBeal, ER, JAG, and Cold Case, to name but a few.

But it was his role in the cult classic series Sledge Hammer! (yes, the exclamation point was in the title) that cemented him into certified pop culture status. In it, he played Captain Trunk, the Pepto-Bismal-swilling, beleaguered head of a police department featuring the titular vigilante office (played by David Rasche). (Ed. note–  If you are not putting this series on your Netflix queue this very moment, we don’t want to know you.)

Harrison spoke about his time spent on the set with a young Van Damme, his fond memories of Sledge, and the wisdom he’s amassed in his four decades of Hollywood. Thanks, Harrsion, from your pals at Natsukashi.

‘Nightbreed’ with Simon Bamford

Nightbreed (1990)
Rated: R
Written and Directed by:
Clive Barker
Craig Sheffer as Boone/Cabal
Anne Bobby as Lori
David Cronenberg as Dr. Decker
Charles Haid as Cpt. Eigerman
Hugh Ross as Narcisse
Doug Bradley as Dirk
Simon Bamford as Ohnaka
Kim Robertson as Babette

By Count Vardulon

cronenberg mask2Pre-screening memories:  Like many teens, I went through a ‘horror’ phase at around age 13 (that it hasn’t ended yet isn’t the point). It was a common enough occurrence, the kind of thing where you start looking for things to define your rapidly-approaching adulthoood, and set yourself apart from the childish things you imagine you no longer have a use for.

 ugly demonHorror movies are an incredibly socially acceptible way of going about this. Choosing to be scared is something that seems a lot more dangerous than it actually is to a young teen, but has the benefit of being somehting that a child would never do.

I worked my way quickly through the standards of the genre, your Halloweens, Fridays, and Nightmares while remaining largely unimpressed. These are the things that caused me to cover my eyes when the trailers came on in movie theatres? It seemed so ridiculous – they weren’t all that bad. Once the first tier was done with my friends and I started getting a little more random with our choices, which is how I ended up seeing Nightbreed. And wow, was I not prepared for Nightbreed.

The ads has made it seem like just another monster movie, but it certainly wasn’t that – from the early scene of David Cronenberg’s Leather Scarecrow slaughtering a family (including a child!) to a man tearing most of the flesh off of his head with his finger knives, to a trip to a haunted graveyard full of monstrosities that ends abruptly with the main character’s death at around the 20-mintue mark, there wasn’t a moment in the first act of this movie that didn’t have me fascinated and terrified and on the edge of my seat. I’d discovered that horror really could freak you out, and I wanted more of it. This is the movie that led me to find out more about Clive Barker, and see Hellraiser in a local repetory theatres… but that’s a story for another time.

mac tongiht guy

Most recent screening: You may have noticed that in the above recollections of my first viewing I didn’t mention anything after the first twenty minutes of the movie. In point of fact, I didn’t have any memories of the rest of the film, save for a slaughter in a hotel and Cronenberg getting crucified at the end. There’s a reason for that.

Nightbreed is an ungodly mess for most the running time. After the masterfully-paced opening the film bogs down with many, many scenes of lengthy exposition and random nonsense about the monster world and their Jesus-style fated savior. Cronenberg’s always a pleasure to watch, but when he hooks up with a bigoted survivalist sheriff and a group of like-minded rednecks the film goes from being a relatively effective horror film to a supremely muddled holocaust allegory that leads to an overextended war scene that teaches us a valuable lesson – that the Jews would have had a better time of it had there been a few unstoppable armoured killing machines on their side. Of course, that’s true of anything, really.

porcupine chickThat’s not to say that the movie is a complete disaster – there’s a really interesting theme in the film about finding your true face – one character has to pull of his skin to discover what he really looks like, and Cronenberg has to put on a mask to reveal himself. And there’s so much random craziness that it’s hard not to recommend a viewing of the film – the parade of monsters that appear in Midian are impressive, featuring more unique creatures than anything this side of Labryinth. Also on the down side, though, is the film’s score, which is wildly inappropriate for the content of the movie, and borrows far too heavily from Danny Elfman’s other major film of that year, Batman.

If nothing else, seeing this film again succeeded in putting me in touch with the younger, more naïve version of myself that was actually capable of getting scared by movies. It’s also reminded me that I really should start reading Clive Barker’s books, since he seems to have quite an imagination on him, that one.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Nightbreed’ podcast here

or enter the underworld to listen on our on-site player right here:

simon use this oneOur featured guest: Simon Bamford

Actor/writer/director Simon Bamford is quite the study in contrast. On-screen, he’s collaborated with pal Clive Barker on four occasions — the first two Hellraiser films, Nightbreed and, most recently Books of Blood.

You would hardly recognize Simon as the rather rotund Cenobite Butterball in Hellraiser, a role that he would reprise in the film’s sequel, Hellbound. And even though he would portray another otherworldly creature in Nightbreed, he did not have to endure as many hours in the makeup chair.

Most recently, Bamford was in Barker’s Books of Blood, a piece of fiction that is very personal to him, as he reveals on the podcast. He is currently working on the Nazi zombie film, The 4th Reich with makeup legend Tom Savini.

On stage, Bamford has portrayed everyone from lead Seymour Krelborn in the first UK tour of Little Shop of Horrors to Pip in the Stockholm production of Great Expectations (a role which one him an Actor of the Year award.

Simon also travels the horror festival circuit with his Cenobite buds, including Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley. We are grateful that Simon joined us from acrosss the pond to recollect his time spent on the set of Nightbreed.

For more on Simon, check out his site, SimonBamford.com.

‘Demolition Man’ with Glenn Shadix

Demolition Man (1993)
Rated: R
Directed by:
Marco Brambilla
Written by:
Peter M. Lenkov
Robert Reneau
Sylvester Stallone as John Spartan
Wesley Snipes as Simon Phoenix
Sandra Bullock as Lenina Huxley
Nigel Hawthorne as Dr. Cocteau
Benjamin Bratt as Alfredo Garcia
Glenn Shadix as Associate Bob

Denis Leary as Edgar Friendly

By Scott Knopf from HeShotCyrus

wesley2Pre-screening memories: The passion for Demolition Man was born out of a sense of Dredd to a young Scott. Judge Dredd, actually. The futuristic film (that was actually released after Demolition Man), co-starred a certain object of Scott’s affection — Rob Schneider. Kidding, it was Diane Lane, who Scott well documents on his blog.

slyThe interest in that film led him to check out this misunderstood slide of cinematic cheese when he was but a young lad and he was soon taken by its addictive qualities.

Though it is hardly considered a masterpiece, it is a film that never takes itself seriously, knows what it is and what it offers and proceeds to do just that.

glenn and wesleyBut it started as quite a different film and we were fortunate enough to be joined by co-star Glenn Shadix, who not only informs us about the metamorphosis, but give us plenty of backstage stories to help us all fully appreciate the film.

Demolition Man is a bit of a cheat by Natsukashi standards, in that we typically like distance between viewings of our films, but Scott could not help jump at the chance to find out more about a favorite in his film library.

Dowload Natsukashi’s ‘Demolition Man’ podcast right here

or get those joy-joy feelings right here on our site by listening below

Our featured guest: Glenn Shadix

glenn2Glenn returned to Natsukashi fresh from his visit from the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival to recollect on the rather colorful filming of this Sylvester Stallone comedic sci-fi flick, in which he played Nigel Hawthorne’s somewhat faithful charge, Associate Bob. As always, Glenn adds much to our understanding and appreciate of the film in general and his role in specific.

He speaks with reverence of his co-star, the late Nigel Hawthorne, the last-minute switch we provided Sandra Bullock one of her earliest on-screen roles, and what it was like to work with Stallone, Snipes and producer Joel Silver, known for such blockbuster action flicks as Lethal Weapon, The Matrix, and Die Hard.

You can certainly keep up with Glenn on his personal site, GlennShadix.com.

Thanks again, Glenn. We send many joy-joy greetings your way. Be well.

‘Popcorn’ featuring lead Derek Rydall

Film: Popcorn (1991)
Rated: R
Written by:
Alan Ormsby (screenplay)
Mitchell Smith (story)
Directed by:
Mark Herrier
Jill Schoelen as Maggie
Tom Villare as Toby
Derek Rydall as Mark
Dee Wallace as Suzanne
Tony Roberts as Mr. Davis
Ray Walston as Dr. Mnesyne

By the Divemistress from

Pre-screening memories: When I was a kid we had First Choice on our TV.  First Choice was awesome— 24 hours of movies, seven days a week. I was introduced to a lot of films via that movie channel, many of which I shouldn’t have seen. Not at that tender age. And so it came to pass that I sat down to watch Popcorn. I think the synopsis in the movie guide read something like “people killed at movie theatre.” 

Whatever, I was sold.

In point of fact, the only thing I actually remember about the story is that people are killed in a movie theatre. I vaguely recall something about the final girl being the killer’s daughter, or object of obsession. I don’t even know if I was scared, or if I actually liked the movie.

popcornfestI do remember Popcorn’s setting, though. The film takes place in an old theatre which a group of film students have rigged to create an immersive B-movie watching experience; they shock the audience with electrified seats, they release stink bombs, they have a huge paper-maché ant that descends from the ceiling. I guess this part really stuck with me because it sounds like a lot of fun. Other things that stuck with me are the killer’s weird looking face and a dress that doubles as an iron maiden. That sounds less fun.

New memories: I was wrong about the ant. It was a mosquito.

As I said, I really can’t comment on my initial reaction to Popcorn—whether I found it campy or legitimately scary. The film, it is safe to say, is total camp. And though it stops short of being offensively recursive, the camp is reflected in the quality of the movie marathon being shown in the film. Equally ridiculous but also unbelievably pretentious is “The Possessor”, an old art-house film that lays the foundation for Popcorn’s plot. popcornscary

I had completely forgotten about that.

The killer’s weird looking face was even more impressive than I remembered. And I wasn’t too far off on the villain’s motivations, which was surprising, given how little I actually remembered about the plot, but kind of vindicating as well.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Popcorn’ with Derek Rydall podcast here

or, grab an audio box of hot-buttered nostalgia right here…


derekrydallOur featured guest: Derek Rydall

Derek played Mark, the accident-prone punching bag-of-a-boyfriend to Popcorn’s lead, Maggie.

Though he was fresh-faced in the film, Rydall was no stranger to the genre, having starred in both Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (with a young Pauly Shore) and Night Visitor.

During the shooting of Popcorn, Derek had a life-altering experience that led him on a different path in Hollywood. Derek shared his tale with us on this very episode, so listen up, punks.

As a screenwriter, screenplay consultant, and script doctor, he has been on staff for Fox (Wildforce Rangers) and Disney, developed projects for RKO, United Artists, Miramax, Fine Line, Universal, Saturn (Nicolas Cage’s company), Deepak Chopra, Wildrice, Longbow, and the creators of Air Force One and Ghost. Additionally, Rydall script doctored on the feature films Diamonds and No Turning Back.

Rydall has worked one-on-one with numerous screenwriters, independent producers, and executives from around the world; and has sold, optioned, or been hired to write over 20 film and TV projects.

Rydall is the author of “I Could’ve Written a Better Movie than That!: How to Make Six Figures as a Screenplay Consultant – Even if You’re Not a Screenwriter,” and “There’s No Business Like Soul Business: a Spiritual Path to Enlightened Screenwriting, Filmmaking, and Performing Arts.”

Rydall’s website www.ScriptwriterCentral.com, is geared toward assisting screenwriters in taking their scripts to the next level, and training the next-generation of script consultants to analyze scripts deeper, broader, and clearer than every before.

Rydall’s website, www.EnlightenedEntertainer.com is geared toward empowering artists and entertainment professionals to walk a more purposeful and prosperous path in show business.

For those who want to keep up with all things Rydall, you can check out his personal site at DerekRydall.com.

Thanks, Derek for sharing your tales behind the scenes of Popcorn, as well as your path to your current endeavors and we wish you all the best.

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