‘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.

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

Deliverance (R)
Year: 1972
James Dickey
John Boorman
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

Flowers in the Attic (1987)
Rated: PG-13
Written by:
V. C. Andrews (novel)
Jeffrey Bloom (screenplay)
Directed by:
Jeffrey Bloom
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.

‘Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge’ with lead Derek Rydall

phantom posterTitle:
Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge
Directed by:
Richard Friedman
Written by:
Scott Schneid and
Fredrick R. Ulrich
Derek Rydall as Eric Matthews
Rob Estes as Peter Baldwin
Pauly Shore as Buzz
Jonathan Goldsmith as Harv Posner
Kimber Sissons as Suzie

By Scott Foy aka The Foywonder

Pre-Screening Memories: Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge was one of numerous movies I would see commercials for on TV as a teen but the movies never came to a theater near me, but you better believe I was the first to rent them on the day they hit VHS. I also put the film firmly in the category of being one of those movies you want to be better than it actually is because you dig the premise and you still have a soft spot for it despite being fully aware of its many shortcomings. One more rewrite is probably all the film needed.

I was never completely sure if I was supposed to be rooting for or against Eric. He’s a movie slasher with a sense of righteousness, out for revenge against the greedy developers that tried to kill him and his parents by burning their house down in order to steal the land they need to build a new shopping mall and protecting the girlfriend who believes he is dead as she and a new hunk embark in a Scooby-Doo mystery to learn the truth about the house fire. But then he turns right around and becomes a psychopathic ex-boyfriend when she starts falling for the new guy.

I also never understood why he waited until the mall was built to strike. Where was he during that period of time and why didn’t he do everything in his power to sabotage the construction?

For that matter, how crummy must your town be if they believe a shopping mall alone will put them on the map and even the Mayor is willing engage in a murder conspiracy in order to make it happen?

There is no forgetting the signature scene of the film when Eric rappels from banners hung from the mall rafters and crashes through an office window in order to confront Mayor Morgan Fairchild, who was in on the arson conspiracy against he and his family, and then gorilla presses her above his head (quite a feat of strength given Eric never looked to be a physical powerhouse) and throws her out the two-story window to her death. I saw that scene on multiple TV movie and review shows at the time, which after seeing the movie for the first time struck me a dubious since they essentially gave away the end of the movie as a promotional clip.

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge also featured in a supporting role a pre-MTV Pauley Shore in what may have been the least Pauley Shore-ish performance of his career. Eric does not kill him, and for that I am forced to further deduct points.

Other things I recall: the mall is the same from Chopping Mall, a pre-Silk Stalkings Rob Estes as the new love interest, not the best make-up job on Eric’s face (a big reveal in the movie given away on the VHS artwork), the lead actresses nude scenes being an obvious body double, and the awesome theme song played during the closing credits is almost worth the price of admission alone.

One last question I have always wondered about is why they included the “Eric’s Revenge” sub-title instead of just simply calling it Phantom of the Mall. Tacking on “Eric’s Revenge” to the title seemed a bad idea because it’s not a sequel and the name Eric is hardly distinct. I wasn’t going to see that Phantom of the Mall flick but now that I know Eric will be getting his revenge…

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge ‘podcast here

or have a listen at our own little on-site food court below:

Our featured guest: Derek Rydall

Derek is the titular “hero” (though much better looking than the film’s poster would have you believe) and has since gone on to help others in the industry, publishing two best-selling books (There’s No Business Like Soul Business and I Could’ve Written a Better Movie Than That and operating two sites, ScriptwriterCentral.com and EnlightenedEntertainer.com to help others recognize their potential. Derek had some rather interesting tales of what was originally planned for Phantom that would have further cemented its cult status.

Thanks again, Derek. Revenge was sweet,

‘The Wraith’ with Chris Nash

The Wraith
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
Mike Marvin
Written by:
Mike Marvin
Charlie Sheen as Jake /The Wraith
Sherilyn Fenn as Keri
Nick Cassavetes as Packard
Randy Quaid as Sheriff Loomis
Matthew Berry as Billy
Clint Howard as Rughead
Chris Nash as Minty
Griffin O'Neal as Oggie
David Sherrill as Skank
Jamie Bozian as Gutterboy

By Bo of Last Blog on the Left


Charlie Sheen strikes a pose as The Wraith.


Pre-screening memories: It’s the same old story… boy shows up on a motorcycle, runs afoul of the local toughs, gets involved with the main baddie’s girlfriend and cleans up the town.  But what made The Wraith so special was the fact that the boy in question is a ghost (sort of) and the manner in which he sweeps the streets is with a cutting-edge (at the time) pace car while wearing a jumper with tubes attached.  What these tubes are for, where they go… all part of the mystery and majesty of The Wraith.


The Dodge Interceptor

When I first saw the film, I was confused and bewildered by the oddity of its characters, the vague back story of a young boy cut down in his prime by the town’s marauders, and, mostly, by the appearance of Charlie Sheen as a ghost with the coolest car I’d ever seen to that point.  In all honesty, it’s still a pretty sweet ride…

New memories: Far from a technically perfect film, The Wraith is proof that no one sets out to make a cult film.  It’s too weird to be simply a racing movie, and too chockfull of racing to be a sci-fi thriller.  It creates its own subgenre – the ghostly vengeance by car film.  And, for that alone, it deserves to be seen by any cynic who claims there are no new tales to tell.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘The Wraith’ podcast right here

or steer down below and listen on the site.

Our featured guest: Chris Nash

chris_in_wraithThough he originally came to Los Angeles in his teens to further his passion for music, Nash’s chiseled good looks soon landed him roles in television and, soon after, film.His big break was 1985’s underrated comedy Mischief, in which he played the new bad boy in town who struck up a friendship with his nerdy high school neighbor.He followed that film with a series of “almost was” features, including Modern Girls with Virginia Madsen and Daphne Zuniga, Satisfaction with Justine Bateman and Julia Roberts and our featured film, The Wraith, the debut film of a young Charlie Sheen.

Chris continued to work in front of the camera in various series, TV movies and films, but soon disengaged from the industry and returned to his true passion music.He has since worked behind the scenes, writing music, helping with film scores and supporting his 10-year-old son Dylan, who fronts the acclaimed band Automatic Youth.

We are very grateful to have Chris return to recall his time spent working on this film and wish him and his son much success in their future endeavors.

‘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.

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