Archive for September, 2012

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: THE BEING (1983)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1980s Horror, 2012, B-Movies, Monsters, Mutants!, Nick Cato Reviews, Suburban Grindhouse Memories with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2012 by knifefighter

Suburban Grindhouse Memories
Buzzi’s BEING in the Land of the Spuds
By Nick Cato

Released shortly after Halloween in 1983, THE BEING may very well be the epitome of low budget 80s horror/exploitation cinema. Directed by Jackie Kong (who would go on to create BLOOD DINER (1987), the first sequel (of sorts) to 1963’s BLOOD FEAST) and featuring a simply mind-blowing cast of psychotronic superstars, I don’t even know where to begin explaining the trashy goodness this baby has in store…

…once again the (now defunct) Amboy Twin Cinema hosted this gem for one week only. Opening night had a near sell-out crowd, and whether that was due to people thirsting for an ALIEN-type film, or to see Ruth Buzzi’s career continue to go down the toilet, is anyone’s guess. After a music-free opening credit sequence (I wonder if this was the director’s way of attempting to create tension?), we see some guy running for his life through a toxic dump yard (that looks more comical than the TOXIC AVENGER’s back yard) but we don’t see what’s chasing him. He manages to steal an abandoned car (because, y’know, cars in junkyards are always tuned up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll) but it doesn’t take long before something rips the roof off and tears the sucker’s head clean off: talk about a wild transition from the lifeless opening credits! THE BEING then hides in the trunk, and when a couple of brain-dead cops come to investigate the car (which has crashed into a warehouse and is covered in blood), neither one of them figures on checking the trunk.

At this point, you’re either walking out the door asking for your money back (or if you’re at home, hitting the EJECT button), or cheering in uncontrollable glee at the on-screen stupidity. No one left the screening I attended, despite several groans heard around the room. And when I realized the film was taking place in Idaho, I was even more sold on the whole project, hoping this beast would turn out to be some kind of mutated potato. Sadly, it wasn’t.

THE BEING spends a lot of time hiding in trunks and back seats, making me wonder if it was at one time a car salesman. What little we do find out about the creature is it was once human, and its mother is played by the legendary Ruth Buzzi (best known as a cast member of ROWAN AND MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN from 1967 to 1973). Toxic waste has turned the poor kid into some kind of ever-changing shape-shifter: in one sequence, it attacks a drive-in after turning itself into a slime state and oozes through the dashboard of an unsuspecting couple. In another scene, the monster looks like a large stuffed animal covered in latex gelatin. And yet again it shows up looking like a poor-man’s ALIEN (similar to the poster image above). But I guess, considering this abomination was spawned from toxic waste, anything is possible.

Filled with plenty of gore and cheap monster goodness, THE BEING also works well as a “drinking game movie”: have some friends come over and make everyone take a shot each time the film’s ‘day-to-night-differential-within-too-short-a-time’ goes down. You’ll be hammered within 25 minutes. If memory serves me, a dull single-night house party seems to go on for two or three days. Besides special effects, the producers apparently saved money by not hiring a continuity supervisor. But these are the quirks that make B-movies more entertaining than your standard Hollywood fare.

Fresh off his role as an escaped mental patient in ALONE IN THE DARK (1982), Martin Landau plays a government scientist who spews some of the worst lines you’ll ever hear in a horror/sci-fi film. While the dialogue isn’t his fault, it makes his role on the classic MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE TV series look like Oscar-worthy material. Then again Landau did win an Oscar for his role as Bela Lugosi in 1994’s ED WOOD, so maybe I’ll stop ragging on the poor guy and move on…

Ruth Buzzi plays a real whack-job here (talk about stretching things for the screen) and dies in a gloriously over-acted choking-by-mutant-monster-son-tentacle-strangulation sequence that must be seen to be believed (see picture below). With its various bodily forms, THE BEING sometimes has tentacles, sometimes human-like arms, and sometimes has a tongue that would make KISS’s Gene Simmons envious. And for some reason it decides to mutilate some victims by throwing others into walls, while allowing others to live. Perhaps the toxic waste has messed with its conscience, too?

Cult film icon Jose Ferrer stars as the small town’s mayor. I need to do an imdb check on him one day to see if he or Dick Miller have starred in the most cameos and throw-away roles. It’s probably Miller, but Ferrer seemed to be everywhere in the 70s and 80s.

With decapitations, a heart ripped out of some poor redneck cop’s chest, all kinds of cheesy blood galore, a lengthy flopping boob shot, priceless dialogue, a plot that’s beyond incoherent, and arguably the worst daytime/nighttime continuity ever to (dis)grace a film, grindhouse cinema is rarely as fun as THE BEING.

Add a HUGE plus here for the sequence where two potheads are attacked during the drive-in assault. I still laugh just thinking about it…

© Copyright 2012 by Nick Cato

Ruth Buzzi faces THE BEING in one of the more absurd death scenes in cinematic history…




Bill’s Bizarre Bijou: THE DISEMBODIED (1957)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1950s Movies, 2012, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, Femme Fatales, Jungle Horror, Voodoo Movies, William Carl Articles, Zombies with tags , , , , on September 27, 2012 by knifefighter


By William D. Carl

This week’s feature presentation:


Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made.  If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk till dawn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it.   Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you, so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open.  Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes.

The 1950s gave the discerning male viewer a long string of beautiful women in science fiction/horror B-movies, early scream queens who graced our drive-in theater screens and gave adolescent boys one more terrific reason to watch scary flicks.  Susan Cabot, Mara Corday, Marla English, and the wonderful, immortal Beverly Garland were but a few of these monster-menaced madonnas, and they were each great in their own way.  But nobody ever held the screen like the wonderfully campy Allison Hayes.  This dark-haired beauty knew exactly what kind of ‘films’ she was headlining, and she knew how to vamp it up while onscreen.  Whether she was being sent back in time and getting accused as a witch (THE UNDEAD, 1957), aiding a psychotic hypnotist (THE HYPNOTIC EYE, 1960), or growing to gargantuan proportions and stalking her tiny husband Harry (ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, 1958), she gave it her all with a wink at the camera and a body to die for.  One of my personal favorites in the Allison Hayes oeuvre is the 1957 voodoo jungle flick THE DISEMBODIED, where Miss Hayes turns the heat up to a sultry eleven!

THE DISEMBODIED opens with credits rolling over footage of a woman’s hands manipulating a voodoo doll, wasting no time in getting to the meat of the picture.  When the camera rolls back, we find the raven-haired Allison Hayes using rope to strangle the doll while she watches her husband, Dr. Carl Metz (John Wengraf of GOG, 1954 and THE RETURN OF DRACULA, 1958) choke on the front porch.  He orders his manservant, Suba, played by Dean Fredericks (PHANTOM PLANET, 1961 and LIGHT IN THE FOREST, 1958), to get him water, and Suba catches the wife, Tonda (aka Allison Hayes), in the act of tossing the strangled doll into a cabinet.  She slinks out onto the porch in her black dress and plays nice with the hubbie.  Still, she is distracted by the jungle drums, and she longs to take a walk into the trees.  The drums say that three white men approach (like the three main characters already introduced aren’t white?), and that one of them is injured.  The idea of white men gets Tonda all hot and bothered.  “Why should they not be allowed here?” she cries.  “We see no one.  It would be a nice change.”

A famous scene featuring Allison Hayes from DISEMBODIED.

In the jungle, surely enough, Suba takes shots at the three men, over their head to scare them away, but Tonda, intrigued by these strangers, slinks over to them and overrides her husband’s orders.  They bring the men into the rather lavish hut, and Dr. Carl gets to work on the lion-attack victim.  Dr. Carl, assisted by Tonda, operates on the man using his own techniques.  The leader of this exploration party is Tom Maxwell, played by tall, dark, and much handsomer than Dr. Carl, Paul Burke, star of the NAKED CITY TV series (1960-1963).  He runs into Tonda on his walk, and she explains “The natives are a very strange people.  They distrust what they do not understand.”  He says, “I’m rather curious by nature.  I don’t understand how a young, beautiful woman can be happy living out here in the jungle.”  She purrs back, “How do you know I’m happy.”  As he leaves, Suba emerges from the bushes, and Tonda accuses him of spying on her.  He says, “You make love to white man?  Maybe I tell the doctor.”  She starts to seduce Suba, and he calls her a “Bad, bad woman!”  Still, he kisses her passionately just in time for his wife to walk up to them.  Tonda finishes the kiss with a rough slap.  There’s a lot of slapping in this movie.

Tonda waits till her husband’s asleep, then she goes into the room of the injured man and performs voodoo jungle mojo  on him while he slumbers.  In minutes, she is in a sarong, writhing to the jungle drums, surrounded by dancing natives while Suba lays zombified on an altar.  The white men go into the jungle to watch the sweating, boogieing Tonda as she slaps Suba in the chest with a live chicken!  Then, she stabs a little doll of the injured man.

Voodoo can be lethal in THE DISEMBODIED.

In the morning, the two white men are shocked to find their buddy has almost completely recovered and his wounds are healed.  Even Dr. Carl seems surprised by the miraculous recovery.  Suba’s body is discovered by his wife, and she points the finger at Dr. Carl, who comforts her by slapping her.  The body looks like it was killed by a lion, except his heart was cut out.  Could it have something to do with Tonda, Suba, and the squawking chicken slap?  Hmm.

Deciding something is up, the jungle guide Gogi (Paul Thompson, star of numerous jungle non-epics) and the other white guy (played by Joel Marston of HEAVEN CAN WAIT, 1978 and THE LAST VOYAGE, 1960) decide to run back and get their Jeep, circle around the jungle, and pick up their injured friend.  This seems like a cue for Tonda to make nice-nice with Tom.  It also allows time for Tom and Dr. Carl to discuss voodoo and the transmigration of souls from one body to another.  Hmm again.

During a ceremony to help Suba’s soul pass on, the unconscious lion victim gets up and walks outside into the jungle to the ceremonial voodoo grounds.  When he approaches the newly widowed Mara, she recognizes something in him, even as he takes up a huge knife.  He goes after Tom, just as Tom and Tonda are playing tonsil hockey, and they fight until Tom knocks his friend, Joe, back into a coma.  When he regains his senses, he is speaking a jungle language which only Tonda understands.

Tonda weaves a deceptive web against her husband, framing him for the voodoo she willingly practices, making it look as if he hypnotizes her at night and forces her into the jungle.  Mara, in the meantime, figures out that her dead husband Suba’s soul is now in the white man Joe’s body.  She takes him away with her into the jungle.  When Gogi and the other white guy get back, they all decide to leave in the morning and consider Joe as dead.  When Tonda finds out everyone is leaving her alone with her husband the next day, she dons her sexiest outfit, sans bra but with a big knife on her belt, and she attempts to seduce Tom into taking her with him.  Her efforts pay off, and Tom vows to help her.  Next, she tries to convince Tom to murder her husband, using every seductive charm she possesses.  “Tom, you’ll do it.  You’ll do it because you love me.  Because you want me.”  Well, this is too much for Tom, and he gets a good slap on her face.  She cries, “Beat me if you want to, but don’t leave me.  Don’t hate me!”  So much for women’s liberation!

Will the men escape from the evil voodoo priestess or will they end up as jungle fodder?  Will Tonda convince Tom to kill Dr. Carl, or will he wise up to his wife before she does something else to him?  And just what happened to Suba’s soul in a white man, and his widow?  Before the movie is over, we’ll see knifings, betrayals, a spear in the Jeep, more seduction, more voodoo rituals, crazed bongo drummers, and hints about where Dr. Carl found Tonda.  Oh, and at least one more good slap across a face.

THE DISEMBODIED is a fun little movie, capably directed by Walter Grauman, who went on to a prolific television career, directing everything from STEVE CANYON to THE FUGITIVE to MURDER, SHE WROTE.  The low budget shows in the very few sets and the flat black and white photography, but everything is done as well as possible on a budget that wouldn’t cover the caterer on a Hollywood production of the Fifties.  The script was by Jack Townley, who penned this at the end of a long career in which he wrote 114 different movies and TV shows, and it’s a little slow, but there are a couple of nice twists, even if the dialogue is stilted.  Originally on a double bill with the killer tree island flick FROM HELL IT CAME (1957), this would have been a night of jungle terror that probably terrorized nobody except small children.

Let’s face it, the reason to see this is Allison Hayes in all her seductive glory.  Every move she makes is cat-like and sexualized.  Every glance contains a multitude of suggestive innuendos, and her voice is as smooth as velvet.  Plus, she looks terrific in a leopard print sarong and a halter top!  She’s so much fun, she makes up for any plot holes and slow spots in the film.

Allison Hayes in all her glory.

Sadly, Allison Hayes’ health deteriorated in the 1960s, and she died in 1977 due to blood poisoning caused by calcium supplements given to her by her doctor.  She was only 46 years old.

Warner Archive has issued a beautifully restored print of THE DISEMBODIED.

I give the film three chicken slaps out of four.

© Copyright 2012 by William D. Carl

“Scoring Horror” Interviews THEO GREEN

Posted in 2012, Barry Dejasu Columns, Family Secrets, Movie Music, Scoring Horror, Soundtracks with tags , , , , , on September 26, 2012 by knifefighter

By Barry Lee Dejasu

Film composer Theo Green

“Films that play effectively on fears are a fascinating, frightening experience,” says composer, Theo Green.  No stranger to horror and other genres in film, Mr. Green’s resume includes DREAD (2000), PROWL (2010), and a previous collaboration with HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET’s director, Mark Tonderai, 2008’s HUSH.

“Audiences get these very real physical reactions from the tension, shocks and fear when watching movies like that.  More so than they do on a rollercoaster where they really are being physically thrown about. And the music has the instant ability to connect a viewer emotionally to a scene or a character, which is a part of producing those reactions. So that’s a big appeal, to be able to connect to an audience in such a visceral way.

When asked to talk about his experiences and thoughts in scoring this film, Mr. Green graciously obliged—but was wary of divulging certain aspects of the film’s plot.  “It’s the kind of film where one accidental answer might spoil the plot for everyone,” he said, “so I’ll try not to do that.”

Alright then, so how does the film end?
Nice try! It definitely doesn’t end with an alien invasion… or a zombie shootout.

What is it about the horror genre that you are drawn to?
Well, I love all kinds of movies and genres, but most of all I love it when films have the power to truly shock—I don’t mean jumps and scares, but deep emotional shocks that take days of thought to fully process. I think that can be a healthy, cathartic thing.

I’ve always been in awe of 70s films like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), Italian Giallo films, and also oddities like THE WICKER MAN (1973), since way back when I was too young really! Maybe for that reason it’s hard to find films that have much surprise for me anymore. The scenes and ideas that get me most scared these days are often not in genre horror films.

Hard to think of a perfect example. But… you know the scene with the guy having what appears to be a sudden stroke behind the Twinkies cafe in David Lynch’s film MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)?  Well, the whole movie is soul-chilling, but that moment—with its context in this limbo world somewhere between sanity and insanity—uses the sound design and score to give you a virtual heart attack, and it shakes most people up pretty badly! In a horror film that scene probably wouldn’t have that strong effect on me. And it’s the same musically: small doses of various things you weren’t expecting can go a lot further towards scaring people than shrieking, pounding noise throughout.

So I relish the surprise of those moments of horror in films that are not totally in the genre. And I love it when a film you thought was going a certain way suddenly twists and goes in a new, darker direction, explaining the questions you have been asking yourself all along.

It’s what Nigel Kneale, the writer who created the early sci-fi horror series QUARTERMASS (1979) referred to as a “revelation of terror”—that moment when you realize the full truth, and your uncertainty becomes terror at the revelation of how big and dangerous the real horror is.  HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET has some great moments like that. I suppose I seek out films like that both to watch and to compose for.

Theo Green’s latest soundtrack was composed for HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET.

Most of the films I’ve worked on so far live in between psychological thriller, drama and horror, rather than relying on extreme violence for their fear factor. Many of my favourites like Nicolas Roeg’s DON’T LOOK NOW (1973) and Roman Polanski’s “apartment trilogy” films like THE TENANT (1976)  have this effect of shock and horror, but they build up to it stealthily. Then they hit you hard where you least expected! You follow the characters and begin to feel for them. Eventually you descend into the horror of their insanity or folly. That approach still has the power to terrify me.

Recently I think French shockers like INSIDE (A L’INTIEUR, 2007) and MARTYRS (2008) showed a great mixture of some old-skool stealth and surprises, a bit of modern gore, but stylistically they are right up to date, with very modern textural scores.

While blockbusters and other big-budget films often feature voluminous scores, genre films often rely on silence as part of their presentation.  (Just look at the original Dracula in 1931—which featured no music whatsoever.)  Where does House At the End of the Street fit in this range?
It fits in between, with 60% or 70% of the film accompanied by score, roughly.

I think in Tod Browning‘s 1931 DRACULA, it was partly the difficulty of syncing music to early film reels that left it without score. Sometimes they would play records over the openings of films like that!

One of the better long-banned horrors, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978) was completely without score. I’m sure there are other examples of horror without music post-1970s, but it’s unusual.

It tends to work best not to have music in scenes where an extra dose of realism and voyeurism is needed, which is perhaps why it worked so well for I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.

The thing is, music can help people suspend their disbelief, wrapping scenes in atmosphere to suggest surroundings that maybe only exist in fiction. So the heavy presence of music in blockbusters makes sense, as their settings are often costly fantasies. But overusing music to convey pace and atmosphere can come at the expense of a sense of truthfulness you get when a director lets you experience something, without score there to assist you. Being left alone without music can be more disquieting than even the scariest score—it’s as if the person who has been reassuringly holding your hand throughout suddenly leaves you on your own in a dark room!


Some films without a first-rate cast use music in every scene partly to help underscore and reinforce the actors’ performances throughout their dialog. But with actors of Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot and Elisabeth Shue’s calibre that was obviously not a consideration. So HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET has a full range, from dramatic scenes without music, to music that plays a real role in guiding and suggesting responses to the characters…. to music that makes you experience utter panic!

Then the main theme, starting as a distant female vocal, is hinted right at the start and throughout the early part of the film and it comes out more clearly later. It relates to the main mystery of the film. And it functions as a very subtle clue to what’s going on. And that’s as much as I can say!

Did you have a hand in any of other sounds in the film (e.g., effects)?
Only little things—I made one or two scary sounds, and sequences like the introduction, which is an audio-visual assault I had a hand in assembling.

But the talented guys at Deluxe were responsible for the fantastic sound mix and design, which has already got them an award nomination!

What, if any, were some of the challenges in scoring this film?
The film needed a bit of a split personality musically. There is a mother-daughter thread, a romantic aspect, a thriller mood and also plenty of sheer terror. It can both be softly menacing with strings and bass guitars, or it can be a murderous rampage of percussion.  So the challenge was to find ways to fit those two worlds together, to suggest a bit of each in the other.

Then it lives somewhere between independent horrors and blockbuster thrillers, which as you noted, are musically often very different worlds. I have not only the director, Mark Tonderai, but also Relativity, FilmNation and A Bigger Boat who produced, to thank for supporting and encouraging the solutions the director and I used to address those challenges, as it paid off and achieves that stealth effect.

Did you employ any unusual or experimental methods, instruments, sound effects, etc. for this film?
Yes, although less experimental techniques on this than some movies I’ve worked on. Mark’s first film (HUSH, 2008) was a thriller set on the road with a trucker as the antagonist…. The score for that film featured processed sounds of brakes squealing, hydraulic drills, rusty metal being twisted… which made for a very industrial soundtrack. This film has more complex emotions, more characters to describe. So, subtle melody and unsettling string textures were important in parts. That said, the ways I got the orchestra to abuse their precious instruments, smacking objects against the cello strings… that could be described as unusual. Or do I mean unpopular! No, they were great about it, and no actual lasting damage was done…

Do you know if there are plans to release the film score as an official soundtrack (online or on CD)?
A soundtrack album release might be in the works; if so it would be released by Relativity Music.

Who were some of your biggest influences, filmic and otherwise, upon your work?
Some of the films I mentioned earlier are an influence in general, but not so much on this.

Hmmm… I think the biggest influences, the things that made me want to do my job, came first of all from school teachers with a passion for music or film. A teacher played the JAWS (1975) soundtrack to our class when I was 7, explaining to us how the different moods and textures affected the viewers’ responses to what they were watching. Straight after that lesson I begged him to lend me the cassette of the score and wore it thin listening to it. Good teachers are so important. Especially ones who forgive mangled cassette tapes.

Two years after that I got the chance to see James Horner at work on one of his first scores, BRAINSTORM (1983) —I was one of the kids he chose from a school choir to sing the scary harmonic clusters throughout! It’s a good score, much more experimental than his later blockbuster style.

Mark Tonderai, who has a musical background, always plays me tons of stuff to listen to, so I can get a rough idea of what he’s imagining. That’s much better than just hearing one or two things he likes, as those could then become too strong an influence. I prefer listening to saturation point, then rinsing it all out of my head before starting the work for real. That way I can sense the right ballpark for the score, without having any pieces of music stuck in my head.

Are there any particular films in the works that you would want first dibs on scoring?
I wish first dibs existed on film scores! I don’t know, I used to think it would be amazing to compose for the great directors whose films I always loved, when they made a new film. But now I’m not sure it would be the same as meeting them and working together on their first films… I’d rather be developing what I do alongside the next great directors, finding ways of working that suit us, finding a shorthand that we can use to discuss and try ideas out with. I think some of the people I’ve done that with, like (2011’s RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES director) Rupert Wyatt and like Mark Tonderai, are very much in that next wave of directorial talent, and I’m very proud to have worked with them early on in their careers.

Let’s say you had the chance to score an older, pre-1970’s film, even one that’s well-known for its music.  Which one(s) would you choose, and why?  (And what might you want to do, specifically?)
I’m sure I’ve thought of some good ones before… but now I’m asked, I can’t remember many!  You’ve heard Philip Glass’s new score to that 1931 DRACULA, right? Perhaps Tod Browning’s other classic, 1932’s FREAKS would be an interesting one to attempt. I sort of like how it is though.

I wouldn’t want to redo something known for its music; that would be tough.

THE WAGES OF FEAR (1957), directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot is a great adventure thriller.  I can’t remember the music if there is any, but I remember thinking it would be fun to score an old movie with a nervous pace like this one. Tangerine Dream did a great job on the 1970s William Friedkin-directed remake, SORCERER.

THE HILL (1965), directed by Sidney Lumet, doesn’t have a music score nor does it really need it! Sean Connery being broken in a military prison camp is drama enough. But it would make an interesting test, for anyone without a film to score, to try this.

Those are all films without real scores…. a more recent film that I love is the Dutch horror-thriller film “SPOORLOOS” (THE VANISHING, 1988, directed by George Sluizer)…  the soundtrack is effective, but very much of its 80s time. Whereas the film itself is absolutely timeless. That one would be interesting to attempt.

What’s next on your professional horizon?
I’m working on a score for a great British thriller starring Paddy Considine, called HONOUR.

Would you like to add anything else?
Hmm – as this interview is for Cinema Knife Fight – there is this brief moment in HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET with a knife, that gives me chills every time. It’s one of Mark’s signature shots—he has a real eye for unusual camera angles that bring you closer to the action—and together with the score, the moment just rings true, which is a surprise in itself. When knives and guns turn up in movies, they often seem a bit derived from other films. This little moment convinced me that it would be just that way in reality. Enjoy it!

Thanks for your time, Theo!
My pleasure.

© Copyright 2012 by Barry Lee Dejasu


Posted in 2012, Barry Dejasu Columns, Evil Kids!, Family Secrets, Horror, Madness, Murder! with tags , , , , , , on September 26, 2012 by knifefighter

Movie Review by
Barry Lee Dejasu

The Premise
Late one night, a very disturbed girl savagely offs her mother and father before running off into the woods.

Several years later, a mother named Sarah (Elizabeth Shue) and her teenage daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), move into the neighborhood.  All seems well, even idyllic, until one night, when Sarah notices that the lights are on in the otherwise-allegedly-vacant house next door.  Now, Sarah had gotten a deal on her own house because of the murders; however, it also turns out that the murder house still has one resident, and that’s the teen son of the dead couple, Ryan (Max Thieriot).

Ryan is very shy, but friendly, and Elissa makes friends with him after he picks her up on a rainy night after she’d walked out on a drunken party with some of her schoolmates.  Soon, the two form an offbeat friendship, hinting at romance.

Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and Ryan (Max Thieriot) strike up a friendship in HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET.

Meanwhile, there are rumors abound in the town, with some of Elissa’s peers snickering about Carrie-Anne, Ryan’s missing murderous sister, still living in the woods.  These rumors are enough for Sarah to want to keep her daughter away from trouble—and thus, away from Ryan.  Elissa won’t hear of this, however, and finds ways to continue to see him.

The events of the past are not quite over, however…and Ryan may know more about them than he’s been letting on.

The Reaction
Not long after our introduction to Ryan, he is shown preparing a canned-noodle dinner and bringing it down to the basement of his house…where a hidden trapdoor leads to a secret hallway…at the end of which is a locked door…and inside, Carrie-Anne is very much alive, and every bit as crazy as the murderous rage at the beginning had hinted at.

When I saw this, I felt like the film was showing all its cards far too soon; I found myself cringing like a parent watching their kid saying the wrong line in a stage play.  So many movies have the audience gasp at the Big Reveal of a villain, only…none of the protagonists in the movie get to know this until later on, and so by the time they find out, we’re way ahead of them.  This kind of too-much-too-soon formula can really hurt a plot, especially if it’s a suspense tale.

And yet, in this case, I think it worked, for the most part.

Jennifer Lawrence singing.

For one thing, without this and related scenes, more time would be spent in the “calmer side” of the film, with the drama of Sarah and Elissa and Ryan taking up most of the plot, and only a couple of key scenes would bring Carrie-Anne into the filmic conversation, making Ryan very quickly seem suspicious of knowing more about her than he’s saying.  Instead, the film presents this hidden plot right from the get-go, so we, the audience, have nothing left to suspect—and thus, we have no idea of just where the plot is headed.  It also helps set up for those later Carrie-Anne sequences—we know what she’s capable of, and so we’re doubly-alert to how much tension could be created if and when she’s pitted against the protagonists, rather than if she’d just appeared out of nowhere (and again, in a more predictable setup).

And there’s something else that worked really well (for a while, at least) with showing Ryan’s relationship to Carrie-Anne: he still cares for her.  He has to restrain her (asking her why she has to have such a frenzied reaction every time he opens the door), and he’s feeding her, and doing his best to keep her well…but she’s clearly a very disturbed person.  This scene brings an unexpected slice of drama and characterization to an otherwise straight-horror movie, and I found it to be really a rather effective.

This surprisingly emotional element continues directly with Ryan’s interactions with Elissa, as he slowly opens up to about his life, and his sister (and just what made her so crazy).  It’s clear that he never has anybody to talk to about this, due to the rumor-driven estrangement he gets from the locals and his own quiet nature, and it made his and her characters far more sympathetic than they otherwise could have been.

From a filmmaking perspective, the movie is full of strong personnel both in front of and behind the camera, with the three leads turning in equally effective performances.  Jennifer Lawrence continues to show solid acting chops (although this was actually filmed before THE HUNGER GAMES), and also gets a couple of scenes in which she shows some promise as a singer.  Elizabeth Shue is particularly welcome here, turning what could have been (but unfortunately, at times still was) a doting, overprotective mother into someone with charm and likeability.  Max Theiriot has been a slow burn in movies, but he’s a good actor, and always gives each performance 100%, and for his role as Ryan, he does very well.

The tension builds in the final third.

In addition to more typical cinematic photography, this film has a number of scenes awash in hallucinogenic, disorienting photography, especially in Carrie-Anne’s scenes.   The musical score, by Theo Green (who also worked on the film’s special visual effects), was particularly noteworthy, staying constantly in the background as an ever-changing, amorphous pulse of sounds both orchestrated and electronic, making for some truly engaging moments during some of the more emotional, as well as suspenseful, scenes.  And with Mark Tonderai’s (HUSH, 2008) tight and intimate (and at times claustrophobic), direction, HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET was very atmospheric as well as tense.   (And to its credit, it wasn’t even filmed nor post-converted into 3D!)

With all of these strengths at work, I found myself sitting up in my seat near the middle of the movie, thinking to myself, “This is different.  This is not at all like what the previews make it out to be.”  And for the most part, I was right.

What left me less-than-wowed were the events that unfolded in the final third of the film.  Without giving away details, I’ll just say that a couple of background characters very randomly perform some heavy-handed behavior, which leads to a rushed scene of exposition and somewhat out-of-character nosiness.  Further (and even more abrupt) changes in character behavior occur, and as a result, the movie was very quickly layered with cliché upon predictable-horror-movie cliché, which was really unfortunate, given the otherwise fairly strong buildup.  (The final note of the movie is also particularly ill-advised, and comes across as a rather cheap rip-off of…well, if you see it, you’ll know exactly what I’m getting at.)

Yes, this movie had its share of problems, but did I hate it?  Not at all.  In fact, I can’t blame the movie for its faults, for as I was watching these problems unfold, I thought to myself, “It’s like someone else took over the script halfway through the production!”  As it turns out, that is almost exactly what had happened.

A Back Story
As far back as 2003, Jonathan Mostow(BREAKDOWN, U-571) had been working on the script for HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET along with Richard Kelly (DONNIE DARKO), taking some inspiration taken from a 1973 film starring Bette Davis called SCREAM, PRETTY PEGGY.

Before production began, the studio, Relativity Media, wished for a rewrite of Mostow’s script, and they hired David Loucka for the task.  Loucka ultimately received the writing credit, with only a nod to Mostow for the “story.”  (Interestingly enough, Loucka had also been hired to rewrite Jim Sheridan’s script for the 2011 film DREAM HOUSE, which was ultimately a critical and box-office failure.)

Looking back, it was easy to see how HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET was so uneven.  This isn’t to say it was bad, either—rather, so many of its better elements managed to make the final cut, resulting in two-thirds of a solid film.

Final Thoughts
The problems with this movie are not its own, but rather, that of the studio.  The actors gave their all, making for some genuinely effective performances. Mark Tonderai, Theo Green and everyone else in the production took what they were given and made the best of it. And ultimately, we wind up with two-thirds of a solid film.  One can only hope that someday, some kind of director’s cut may surface.

© Copyright 2012 by Barry Lee Dejasu

Barry Lee Dejasu gives HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET~ two and a half knives (out of 5).

V/H/S (2012)

Posted in 2012, Anthology Films, Demons, Evil Kids!, Exorcism Movies, Ghosts!, Haunted Houses, Horror, Indie Horror, Killers, LL Soares Reviews, Paranormal, Secrets, Thrillers, Twist Endings, VIOLENCE! with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2012 by knifefighter

V/H/S (2012)
Movie Review by L.L. Soares

V/H/S is a new anthology horror movie made up of five shorts and a wraparound story. There seem to be a lot of these kinds of movies around lately. The other ones that come to mind are CHILLERAMA (2011) and THE THEATRE BIZARRE (also 2011). Both were mixed bags. But the good thing about anthology movies is that if you don’t like one of the stories, there are more to come, if you just wait. Overall, I tend to enjoy these kinds of movies a lot.

V/H/S is above-average in this regard. For the most part, all of the stories are pretty good. Sure, some are better than others, but I didn’t feel there were any clunkers this time around.

The film starts off with the wraparound story, called “Tape 56.” This ongoing segment is directed by Adam Wingard, who also made POP SKULL (2007), A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (2010) and YOU’RE NEXT (2011). Just a word of warning, if you start watching the movie, you might not care a lot for this one. But give it a chance. It just sets up the premise. But the characters involved are kind of despicable.

We are introduced to a bunch of guys led by Gary (Calvin Reeder) who are going around doing awful things and filming it for money. One of the things they do is follow couples and then attack them. The boyfriend is pulled aside and restrained, while the girlfriend is grabbed and her breasts are exposed for the camera. Gary says he gets $50 for each one of these he tapes, and he says he’s done about 25 of them so far. Needless to say, the characters who are supposed to be our point of view for this story start out being unlikable, which may put you off from the get-go.

The set-up is this: these guys are hired to go a house in the middle of the night and get a videotape. It has something to do with blackmail, and the guys say they plan to make copies of the tape, so they can make more money. What exactly is on the tape, we’ll never know. They don’t say (although one character does elude that it might be “a senator having sex on film”), but the job does pay big money—much more than they’re used to. So of course they jump at the chance.

They go to the designated house at the middle of the night, and we’re told there may be someone there, but it’s an old man and he won’t be any trouble. The guys get in, and search the place. They find two things. First of all, they find the old man, and he appears to be dead in a chair, in front of a wall full of television screens. There’s a VCR and a tape in it.

The second thing is that there are lots of videotapes in the house, and the guys aren’t really sure which one they’re supposed to retrieve. So they start looking through them, playing them one after another. And that is the theme of the movie.

The first short film we see is called “Amateur Night.” It is directed by David Bruckner, who also made THE SIGNAL (2007). And right off the bat, it might be my favorite of the bunch. It features more creeps. This time it’s three guys who plan to go to a bar, pick up some girls, and film themselves having sex with them. They’re Shane (Mike Donlan) Patrick (Joe Sykes) and Clint (Drew Sawyer). Clearly there’s a market for this kind of thing. Clint, a nerdy looking guy, wears a pair of glasses that have a camera and microphone built-in. They go to a bar and get sloshed, and find one girl who is willing to go back with them, named Lisa (Jas Sams). At the same time, a spooky girl with big eyes named Lily (Hannah Fierman) is sitting by herself, and Clint starts filming her. She gravitates toward him and keeps saying “I like you.” When they all go back to the hotel room (Lisa and Lily go back with the guys), things get decidedly weird. I have to admit, I wasn’t really surprised by what happened—I kind of saw it coming—but it was so well done, that I didn’t care. I really enjoyed this one. Featuring a great performance by Fierman.

A scary moment from V/H/S.

The second movie is “Second Honeymoon” by Ti West, who gave us HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009) and THE INNKEEPERS (2011). It’s about a couple on a road trip—Stephanie (Sophia Takal) and Sam (Joe Swanberg), who are filming it as they go—who stop at a motel. Sometime during the night, someone is in the room with them, watching them sleep, and it goes from there. Not the best of the stories, but a solid little piece from West, who I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of. I actually think he’s feature films are overrated. This one was kind of predictable, but decent, and I liked it better than his feature films that I’ve seen.

Tuesday the 17th “ by Glenn McQuaid (who also directed 2008’s I SELL THE DEAD) is another one that seems by-the-numbers… at first. Four kids go out to the woods to spend some time in a secluded cabin. But once they get there, things go a little differently than expected. Once again, not something that will blow you away, but a solid little film.

The third one, “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She was Younger,” (great title, by the way!), was directed by “mumblecore” indie director Joe Swanberg (who also acted in Ti West’s installment), and it’s another of my favorites. It features two people talking on Skype. One is a girl named Emily (Helen Rogers) who lives in a haunted apartment. The other is her boyfriend, calling from medical school, where he’s studying. Whenever something weird happens, she calls him so he can be a witness, and at one point we see some ghosts. This is another one, however, where things go much differently than we expect. I liked the weird twist ending a lot.

Finally, we have “10/31/98”, by four guys who go by the name Radio Silence (they are directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez and Chad Villella), three of the guys previously made a series of “interactive adventures” under the name Chad, Matt and Rob. This one is a really good one, too. Four guys jump in a car and go to a house for a Halloween party. They have a friend who always rents a house each Halloween and throws a lavish haunted house party. One guy is dressed as a nanny cam (a teddy bear with a camera), so he’s filming this one. They get there, to find the house empty. When they go exploring, they go up to the attic where they find a weird ceremony going on. They think it’s part of the fun, but it’s not. It’s a real exorcism. And things get scary from there.

The wraparound story pops in between the movies and at the end, as the guys in the house search for more tapes, the dead guy in the chair leaves at various points (we see this, but the guys don’t notice) and there’s a big, scary ending.

Another scary moment from V/H/S.

All in all, a great flick, and while there were three that really blew me away, the other two are pretty good, too. So no bad ones. I actually think V/H/S is pretty satisfying and the best of the new anthology horror films I’ve seen lately. It is currently on cable OnDemand in some areas and will get a limited theatrical release in early October.

This one is definitely worth checking out. I give it four knives.

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

LL Soares gives V/H/S ~ four knives.

DREDD (2012)

Posted in 2012, 3-D, Action Movies, Based on Comic Book, Cinema Knife Fights, Crime Films, Dystopian Futures, Michael Arruda Reviews, Science Fiction with tags , , , , , , , on September 24, 2012 by knifefighter

By Michael Arruda

(The Scene: The skyline of a futuristic city.  Camera focuses on a mega high-rise skyscraper that towers above the rest of the metropolis, and then closes in towards an upper balcony continuing through an open window into a room where MICHAEL ARRUDA and JUDGE DREDD sit in front of a 60-inch high definition TV screen.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Welcome everybody to another edition of CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT. L.L. SOARES is off on another assignment, but I’m joined today by the famous JUDGE DREDD.

We’re going to play a game.  We’re going to watch some movie clips, and JUDGE DREDD here, as judge, jury, and executioner, will pass judgment on the movies.  This should be fun.  Okay.  Roll film.

[A clip plays of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)]

MA:  So, judge, what do you think?  Pass or fail?

DREDD:  Pass.

MA: You have good taste.  Okay, on to the next clip.  [The screen shows a scene from RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION (2012).  MA cringes.]

DREDD:  Fail.  There’s no story.

MA:  You’re good at this.  [Screen now shows a clip from one of the TWILIGHT movies.]

DREDD:  Death!

MA:  Right on!  You know your movies!

(DREDD aims large gun at screen and opens fire, obliterating the TV in a fiery explosion of glass and electronic components.)

MA:  My sentiments exactly!  (Crew runs in and begins cleaning up decimated TV.)  This could prove to be a very expensive game.  While they’re cleaning up, why don’t you help yourself to some refreshments and I’ll go ahead and review today’s movie.

DREDD:  Three.

MA:  Three?  Oh, you can help yourself to as many snacks and goodies as you want.  You don’t have to limit yourself.

DREDD:  Knives.

MA:  Three knives?  What?  Are you reviewing your own movie?  Shh.  We don’t get to that part until the end of the review.

DREDD:  Just sayin.  (Exits)

MA:  Today I’m reviewing DREDD (2012) the new 3D film version of the famous British comic strip character who first appeared on the comic book scene in the late 1970s.

And while this certainly isn’t the best movie I’ve seen this year, I will say at the outset that DREDD showed more imagination in its first five minutes than last week’s clunker RESIDENT EVIL:  RETRIBUTION displayed in its entirety.

DREDD takes place in a futuristic America, in a northeast city somewhere between Boston and Washington D.C.  Crime is rampant, and to enforce the law, the country has employed judges, officers who serve as judge, jury, and executioner and who work for the Hall of Justice.

The film gets off to a quick start.  Within its opening moments, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) finds himself in high speed pursuit of a group of criminals.  It’s an exciting scene that serves as a fun introduction to the Judge Dredd character.

Later, Dredd is asked to break in a new partner, a woman named Anderson (Olivia Thirlby).  Sure, we’ve seen this plot before—it’s right out of every DIRTY HARRY movie.   In fact, Urban sounds an awful lot like Clint Eastwood’s Harry throughout this film.  So yes, there are parts of this movie that are not original, but the film doesn’t suffer for it, because it’s high entertainment from beginning to end, with a fun story that is compelling from the get-go.

(DIRTY HARRY enters room.)

HARRY:  Make my day, punk.  (opens fire with his magnum and blows away one of the clean-up crew, who crashes through a window and plunges to his death to the street below.)

MA (shaking his head):  That’s not going to help with the clean-up.

HARRY:  What do you know?  I’m cleaning up the streets.  That scum was a drug dealer.

MA (looks out shattered window):  Well, the street’s kind of a mess now.

HARRY (scowls at MA.):  A man’s got to know his limitations.

MA:  True.  (points to street below)  That guy should have known he couldn’t survive a 200 story drop with a bullet in his chest.  He should have never been up here.

HARRY:  I was talking about you.

MA:  Oh.  I see. (looks at camera and mouths:)  He’s crazy.  (addressing HARRY)  Well, thank you Officer Callahan for helping us out today.  Help yourself to some refreshments on your way out.

(HARRY exits.)

MA:  Okay, let’s get back to today’s movie.

Anderson failed her initial test to become a Judge, but Dredd’s superior wants her to have a second chance because she has exceptional psychic abilities which they believe will be a huge asset to the department.  Anyway, it’ll be up to Dredd to decide whether or not she passes or fails.

In the high rise slum known as Peach Trees, the former prostitute now turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) has three men skinned alive and their bodies displayed in public to send a message that no one should mess with her.  Dredd and Anderson are sent in to investigate, and when they capture and arrest one of the men responsible for the killing, Ma-Ma and her army respond by hacking into the Hall of Justice’s computer system, enabling them to lock down the high rise.  Sturdy steel barriers close off all the exits, trapping Dredd and Anderson inside.  Ma-Ma then orders everyone who has a gun to find and execute the judges.

Dredd and Anderson are seemingly trapped in a no-win situation, which makes their plight all the more exciting as they fight back, hoping they can hold off their potential assassins until help arrives from the outside.

I liked DREDD a lot.  It’s an imaginative, creative thrill ride that has a lot of good things going for it.

First off, I really enjoyed the script by Alex Garland, which of course is based on the comic strip by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.  It’s got an exciting plot and lots of clever lines interspersed throughout.  At one point Dredd tells Anderson that she forgot to wear her helmet, and she replies that a helmet interferes with her psychic abilities, to which Anderson says “I think a bullet would interfere with them more.”

I liked the premise of Dredd and Anderson being locked inside the building while Ma-Ma’s thugs and every other vigilante living inside the slum try to kill them.  After watching the awful RESIDENT EVIL 5 last week, it was fun to watch a movie with a plot that presented a genuine conflict and actually told a story!  How about that!

(In the background, the clean-up crew is putting up a new wide screen TV.)

Karl Urban is fine as Dredd, but truth be told, I enjoyed him more as Bones in STAR TREK (2009) and as Black Hat in PRIEST (2011).  In those movies, he was able to act more, while here as Dredd, he’s one-dimensional, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it works for this character, and Urban is very good at it.

Really, the character of Dredd here is a lot like the recent Christian Bale performances as Batman.  He wears a mask, or in this case, a helmet— either way, we never see his face, which is the way it was in the comic— and he speaks with the same monotone dry raspy voice.  I was waiting for him to say “I’m Batman,” at some point.

(BATMAN crashes through window, knocking a new wide-screen TV from the wall, which shatters as it hits the floor.  The repair crew moans and groans.)

BATMAN:  I’m Batman.  (approaches MA)  Where’s Bane?

MA:  Bane?  I have no flippin clue where that ape is, but Dirty Harry and Judge Dredd are in the next room having some snacks.  Why don’t you join them?

BATMAN:  Sure.  (Exits.)

MA:  I’ll have to make sure we take a group photo.

Back to DREDD, I mentioned Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry before, and Dredd actually reminded me even more of Harry than Batman.  Again, neither of these comparisons are bad things.  I like the Dredd character a lot, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve sure seen this type of hero before.

Olivia Thirlby is also excellent as Anderson.  At first, Anderson is tentative, unsure of whether or not she’s cut out for the job, although she does want to make a difference, but as the movie goes on she kicks it into high gear and becomes a force to be reckoned with.  There’s a great scene where she enters one of their prisoner’s mind to extract information, and it really shows off what Anderson can do.

And Lena Headey more than holds her own as the brutal villain Ma-Ma.  She is one lethal woman, and she makes for quite the adversary for Dredd and Anderson.  She’s one of the better female villains I’ve seen in a while.  She’s on par with Salma Hayek’s Elena from SAVAGES (2012) earlier this year, but whereas Hayek’s Elena was more of the high class villainess, Headey’s Ma-Ma is definitely of the blue-collar variety, as potentially dangerous with her fists as with her words.  She’s also more visceral.  In one scene (albeit in quick flashback) she gouges out a man’s eyes.  Ouch!  She also does much worse with another part of the male anatomy.  Double ouch!

Headley played Sarah Connor in the TV show TERMINATOR:  THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (2008-2009).

(The TERMINATOR crashes through a solid wall, demolishing yet another wide screen TV, prompting members of the clean-up crew to shout and stomp.)

TERMINATOR:  Sarah Connor?

MA:  No, but Batman, Dirty Harry, and Judge Dredd are all next door at the snack bar.  Why don’t you join them?

TERMINATOR: I’ll be back. (EXITS)

MA:  How did I know he was going to say that?

Speaking of these violent scenes, DREDD is relatively violent and earns its R rating in a comic book way.  There’s lots of brutality and bloodshed, but most of it is of the CGI variety and about as realistic looking as a video game, but since this one is based on a comic, the style works.

I saw it in 3D, and once again, it’s the same old story.  The 3D effects added very little to the movie, and after a while you don’t even notice the film is in 3D.

Pete Travis directed DREDD, and he includes lots of neat action sequences.  The opening chase scene, in which Dredd pursues a van full of criminals, is thrilling and is a great way to start the movie.  Most of the scenes inside the locked-down building are intense and satisfying.  There wasn’t much in DREDD that I found disappointing.

That being said, I was a little disappointed with the ending, as I thought the confrontation between Dredd and Ma-Ma at the film’s conclusion was nowhere near as intense as it should have been.  But it’s not enough to ruin the movie by any means.

I also liked the look of the movie.  Its futuristic landscape was less like the colorful world of the RESIDENT EVIL movies and more like the gritty realistic cityscape seen in DISTRICT 9 (2009).

Director Travis also directed the thriller VANTAGE POINT (2008), and I liked DREDD much better than VANTAGE POINT.

And no, this is not a remake of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie JUDGE DREDD.  I didn’t see that movie because the way I remember it, word of mouth about it was so bad so quickly that I didn’t bother, and for that reason I was never interested in checking it out.  It’s generally considered to be an awful movie, and Dredd purists were angry that Stallone took off his helmet in the film to show his face, which is a no-no in the Dredd comics world, and since Karl Urban keeps his helmet on throughout this new movie, for this reason alone DREDD is already better than the Stallone film.

(ROCKY music starts blaring, and this time the repair crew rips the TV off the wall themselves and stomp on it, smashing it to smithereens.  ROCKY enters the room.

ROCKY (looking at men smashing TV):  What’s the matter with them?

MA:  They’ve had a long day.

ROCKY:  That’s a nice TV.  Yo, have you seen Mickey, my trainer?

MA:  No, but if you go next door, you’ll find the Terminator, Batman, Dirty Harry, and Judge Dredd all at the snack bar.

ROCKY:  All those guys?  Those guys are all really cool.  I’d like to meet them.  I wouldn’t know what to say, but it would be fun, and maybe I’d grab myself a cookie or something, you know?

MA:  Through that door.

(ROCKY exits, and we hear his trainer MICKEY’s voice.)

MICKEY:  Get your goddamn hands off that cookie, Rock!  You’re in training!

ROCKY:  Yo Mick, say hi to Batman.

MA:  I give DREDD three knives.  And since my special guest Judge Dredd also gave the movie three knives, we’re in agreement.

(Glass suddenly shatters as a thug crashes through window.  He throws three knives at MA which somehow miss him.  JUDGE DREDD bursts into room and shoots the thug dead.  DREDD turns to MA and points to the knives now sticking in the wall behind him.)

DREDD:  Three knives.

MA:  So that’s what you meant!  I thought—well, never mind.  Thanks!  I don’t know how you knew that, but I’m glad you did!

DREDD:  Don’t mention it.  (Turns and exits).

MA:  Well, that’s it for today folks.  If you like your comic book action dark, then be sure to check out DREDD.  It’s as satisfying as the snacks we have next door.  Speaking of which, it’s time for that group photo.

Thanks for joining us!

(MA exits.)

MA (off-camera):  Guys, you were supposed to eat the snacks, not throw them at each other!  Jeesh!


© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda

Michael Arruda gives DREDD ~ three knives!


Posted in 2012, Quick Cuts with tags , , , on September 21, 2012 by knifefighter

QUICK CUTS:  Movie Popcorn
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Daniel Keohane, Paul McMahon, Mark Onspaugh, and Colleen Wanglund

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Welcome, everyone, to another edition of QUICK CUTS.
Now, we all love movies, and going to the movies is a unique experience that is certainly different from watching movies at home. One of the differences is the aroma of hot buttered popcorn as you walk through the door and enter the cinema.
Today on QUICK CUTS, we ask our panel of Cinema Knife Fighters the all-important question, How do you prefer your movie popcorn?

This is what they had to say.


 MARK ONSPAUGHMmm – I rarely indulge, but my preference would be fresh, hot, with butter and salt…

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Sounds delicious!

MARK ONSPAUGH:  But usually I just have diet soda… meh.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Aah, the healthy choice.

L.L. SOARES:: Diet soda is healthy?

PAUL MCMAHON: I never buy it for myself. If I’m with someone who does, I’ll take it however they want it.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Hmm, El Cheapo!

L.L. SOARES:  Remind me never to go to the movies with you!

PAUL MCMAHON:  That’s not what I meant.  I meant I don’t indulge on my own, but if someone else gets some then—.

L.L. SOARES:  Yeah, right.

PAUL MCMAHON:  Personally, I’d rather have ice cream.

COLLEEN WANGLUND:  I like my popcorn with extra butter.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  I’m starting to salivate.

L.L. SOARES:  Someone get this guy a napkin!

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Dan, how about you?

DAN KEOHANE:  Plain!!! Nothing added.  My wife used to add tons of salt to it… but I’ve convinced her to try it au naturel.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Her, or the popcorn?

DAN KEOHANE (laughing):  The popcorn!

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Well, I absolutely love movie popcorn, and I definitely prefer it with butter—lots of butter—it’s how I get through the bad movies.

L.L. SOARES:  For me, it actually depends on the theater. The big chains usually are overpriced, and the popcorn is often stale. So if I go there, I don’t get anything.

But a few small theaters have fresh-popped popcorn and real butter, and then I’ll get some. And I get “butter throughout,” so they layer it throughout the bag.

One theater near me even serves beer – which is always a nice treat.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Beer?  So that explains some of your reviews!

L.L. SOARES: My reviews?  I think I’ve discovered what’s wrong with your reviews!  You’re too busy filling your pie hole with popcorn instead of paying attention!

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  I think I can handle eating popcorn and watching a movie at the same time.

Anyway, there you have it, folks, the Cinema Knife Fighters’ take on movie popcorn.

Until next time, happy eating everybody!