‘Scream’: Another stab at relevance

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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

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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.

MGM roars back with… A shit load of remakes and sequels?

I know a lion’s gotta eat, but this is a bit ridiculous.

At the same time it was announced that 2011 is now the most sequelly year ever (27 are slated, which translates to one every other week), we were greeted without the news that MGM pulled itself from the bowels of bankruptcy by announcing five remakes/continuations.

It’s understandable that the studio would dust off some chestnuts to ensure some box-office familiarity, but others seem like curious choices to trumpet it’s return.

Here’s what’s in the works:

“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”: A 3-D futuristic retelling of the Brothers Grimm fable (which was most notably made at the tail end of the Cannon era and starred David Warner and Cloris Leachman). This remake is to be co-financed by Paramount and will star Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton.

“Mr. Mom”: This is one I can totally see, and while I hold fond memories for the original, it’s by no means beloved. Of course, its premise is not as novel anymore (a father? Home raising his children? Absurd!!!), it’s always fun to see ill-prepared dads dealing with the toddlers.

“The Idolmaker”: Another one that is fair game, but a curious choice, indeed. Taylor Hackford’s all-but-forgotten 1980 flick based on the life of Bob Marcucci, who discovered Fabian and Frankie Avalon. The new version will be retrofitted for the “American Idol” generation, but details beyond that are sketchy.

“Robocop”: Ouch. This stings. The beloved Detroit officer that runs on Microsoft Office, had threatened to hit screens last year, with Darren Aronofsky taking over for Paul Verhoven as director. Aronofsky has since moved on to pick up the “Wolverine” sequel (an equally depressing thought) and is now said to be getting his religion on afterward with an adaptation of “Noah” (really?).

“Poltergeist”: Another film that has long been in the rumor mill is set to return with a fresh coat of paint. Have filmmakers learned nothing from the “Poltergeist” curse?(http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/poltergeist.asp).

Redo or Redon’t: A ‘Grave’ mistake

The original ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ became the equivalent of a cinematic triple-dog dare for many a youngster growing up in the VHS age. When my friends and I got our grubby, teenaged, perverted paws on a copy, we made an event of it. Parents gone, basement viewing, lights out, feigned machismo: all was in place for this taboo screening.

As it progressed, one by one, we began to unceremoniously bow out, despite our lust for blood and boobies. We could endure hours of Jason plucking the limbs off campers or Michael stabbing his way through another Halloween, but this one just didn’t sit right with any of us. We ultimately decided to make a pact to just watch “the circumcision scene,” wince mightily, and be done with it.

Now, this. Continue reading

…and we’re back (and some updates!)

For all three who noticed we were gone for a little bit, thank you.

To ensure a more regular posting schedule, I would like to pose a question. As some may know, I also run a site Use Soap, that I use as a repository for my weekly review column at a local newspaper. I would like to propose that I run my reviews from that site on here, along with the regular features in Natsukashi. I still will post the podcast, as well as “Messing with Memories” and other various and sundry nostalgic movie morsels.

Please drop me a line and let me know what you think, I welcome any and all suggestions.

Also, you will notice a certain little logo at the top right of this blog. That piece of artwork is from none other than Flixster.com, one of the largest (and coolest) movie sites on the internet.

Our little blog has been invited to become part of the Flixster fam! Go us!

We are certainly excited about this move and hope that our incredibly inflated egos do not become even more drunk with power and end up snorting blow off the sweaty ass cracks of Malaysian ladyboys…again.

Sorry, where was I?

So we look forward to getting back into things, keeping everyone updated on upcoming remakes, hobnobbing with those in the industry who helped create the movie memories of our youth, and looking at films currently in release.

Thanks for sticking with us and, as always, your suggestions help keep us going, so please let us know what you think.

‘Deliverance’ with Christopher Dickey

Film:
Deliverance (R)
Year: 1972
Writer:
James Dickey
Director:
John Boorman
Starring:
Burt Reynolds as Lewis
John Voight as Ed
Ned Beatty as Bobby
Ronny Cox as Drew
 

 

By: Gurn Blanston

Memories: There are a few things that pop into most people’s heads when you mention the movie Deliverance: Dueling Banjos, inbred hillbillies, squealing like a pig, pretty mouths, but after not seeing it for many years we may be in danger of forgetting what a powerful movie this was, and still is.

I’m not sure when I first Deliverance, it couldn’t have been at its release because I was still too young, but when I finally did have the opportunity to view it, on HBO I guess, because it was an uncut version, I remember being riveted by the whitewater scenes and the brutal portrayal of clashing cultures set in the Georgia backcountry.

Now let’s get some things straight. I am a hillbilly. Well, I am the descendent of hillbillies anyway. On a farm in North Carolina ,I have a relative we refer to as Aunt Mamie who once let me help milk a cow, and my father still crumbles his cornbread into a glass of milk and eats it with a spoon. When I was in junior high, I played the five-string bluegrass banjo, which I thought at the time made me cooler. It didn’t. With all this to consider I was pre-disposed to be forgiving of the backwoods denizens, after watching the movie, not so much.

In the movie, four buddies, John as Ed, Ronny Cox as Drew, Ned Beatty as Bobby and a rugged, outdoorsy Burt Reynolds as Lewis, their erstwhile leader, decide that instead of a golf outing they will take a canoe trip down the fictitious Cahulawassee River in rural Georgia, wanting to see the unspoiled land before a dam is erected and the entire area flooded. The group encounters the locals and takes a rather condescending viewpoint about them. For their part, the hillbillies view the group as a bunch of stuck-up city boys.

As they travel down the river they get separated, Ed and Bobby in one canoe, Drew and Lewis in the other. Ed and Bobby run afoul of two of the good old boys roaming the back country and end up being beaten, tied up, and in Bobby case made to “squeal like a pig” before being stuffed like a turkey by an obviously sexually confused brain-dead hick. Lewis ends up killing the offending Redneck with a bow and arrow, and then the boys take off down the rapids trying to make good their escape, pursued by the kin folk of the skewered sodomite they buried back in the mountains.

After Drew is either killed or commits suicide, I was never sure which, the three remaining friends manage to escape, but not before running into the local sheriff, played by the author James Dickey, who warns them to “Don’t ever do nothin’ like this again…Don’t come back up here”. Good advice.

Growing up I’m sure that most of us have made the “squeal like a pig” or the “you got a pretty mouth” reference in jest. Or maybe that was just me and I have some unresolved gender identification issues, either way, if you go back and watch this film I think you will be struck by the realistic brutality of that and other scenes that can sometimes make the flick hard to watch.

This was an important film of the time, it was nominated for three Academy Awards:Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing, (it didn’t win) and was seen as a dark representation of mans dangerous struggle with adversity.

The film has stuck with me, certain scenes more than others, but all in all this is still one of my favorite all time films.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Deliverance’ podcast right here

or float on down to the on-site player

Our featured guest: Christopher Dickey

Award-winning author Christopher Dickey in the son of Deliverance writer James Dickey, documenting his time spent of set in the best-selling memoir Summer of Deliverance: A Memoir of Father and Son (Simon & Schuster, 1998). His most recent book Securing the City was published in February 2009, is the Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor for Newsweek Magazine. Previously he worked for The Washington Post as Cairo Bureau Chief and Central America Bureau Chief. Chris’s Shadowland column, about counter-terrorism, espionage and the Middle East, appears weekly on Newsweek Online.

Chris served as a technical advisor on the film, which he says is just a fancy word for “warm body,” but got to see his father’s words come to life directly in front of him. He also recounts the tumultuous legacy the film’s impact had on his father and his family.Chris’s books include With the Contras: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua (Simon & Schuster, 1986); Expats: Travels from Tripoli to Tehran (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990) and Innocent Blood: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, 1997). His most recent novel, The Sleeper, was published by Simon & Schuster in September 2004. The New York Times called it “a first-rate thriller.”
 
He has also written for Foreign Affairs, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Wired, Rolling Stone, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Republic, among other publications. He is a frequent commentator on CNN, MSNBC and National Public Radio, as well as other television and radio networks.
Chris is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he was formerly an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow; of the Overseas Press Club of America; and of the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

‘Flowers in the Attic’ with director Jeffrey Bloom

Title:
Flowers in the Attic (1987)
Rated: PG-13
Written by:
V. C. Andrews (novel)
Jeffrey Bloom (screenplay)
Directed by:
Jeffrey Bloom
Starring:
Louise Fletcher as Grandmother
Victoria Tennant as Corrine
Kristy Swanson as Cathy
Jeb Stuart Adams as Chris
Lindsay Parker as Carrie
Marshall Colt as Father

By Shelley Stillo

Pre-screening memories: As with most American households in the 1980s, Shelley’s family bookshelf had room for a few titles from V. C. Andrews. The author was on her way to becoming a vertible literary industry, not unlike a certain ‘Twilight’ author today.

But Andrews tawdry Gothic tales were much more enticing to young readers, like Shelley, who would pull the copy down, crack the spine and read aloud some of the book’s more lacivious passages with her young friends.

Their mix of Southern Gothic, romance, fairy tale and horror were like a literary burrito for young Shelly.

New memories: After watching the film for the first time in 20 years, did it result in a flood of raunchy memories of late-night readings with friends? And, perhaps more importantly, just why the hell was such a novel that featured rape, incest, child cruelty, incest, death and a little more incest so popular in the first place?

You can download Natsukashi’s ‘Flowers in the Attic’ podcast here

or you can simply head to our basement below to listen on the site

Our featured guest: Director Jeffrey Bloom

Jeffrey Bloom does not count Flowers in the Attic as a high watermark in his directing career. Bloom’s cinematic career began in the early 1970s, writing made-for-TV films such as Snow Job (aka The Great Ski Caper) and 11 Harrowhouse (aka Anything for Love).

His first time behind the lens was the 1975 comedy Dogpound Shuffle, followed by Blood Beach and a host of made-for-TV films.

Flowers in the Attic was the last feature film Bloom directed, and once you hear all the behind-the-scenes events that took place, you may understand why.

Jeffrey pointed us to a student-made video of the film Flowers in the Attic, which will gladly repost here:

Jeffrey is now a professional photographer in Studio City, California.

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