Monday, March 26, 2007

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: A Family Portrait

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A documentary about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, containing several of the key actors in the movie.

Scariness factor: N/A

Gross-Out Factor: N/A

Complaints: Centuries ago, when I was living down at OU, I saw this documentary at the video-store. I never ended up renting it, and it forevermore slipped my mind. But the other day it popped into my head randomly, so I decided with some eagerness to Neflix it. It was interesting, but I was a bit disappointed to see that Marilyn Burns (the main character in the movie) and Tobe Hooper were conspicuously absent from the interviews. Given that the two of them are the main players with regard to the success of the movie, it seemed to me a bit pointless to have a documentary without both of them. I mean, seriously, how can you have a documentary about a movie WITHOUT INTERVIEWING THE DIRECTOR/CREATOR? That's the most interesting aspect of a making-of documentary! The other big disappointment of the documentary was the fact that (for god only knows what reason) they'd discuss a particular scene and what went into the filming of it AND THEN NEVER SHOW THE CLIP OF THE SCENE. Now, I've seen TCSM at least a half-dozen times, but even I can't remember the little particulars of specific scenes without a refresher.

High Points: It cracked me up to listen to the dude who plays the Hitchhiker yammer on and on as though he were an Oscar-winning actor and as notorious as, say, Al Pacino or something. I mean, it was interesting and cute to see him NOT as the Hitchhiker (especially since that character's so damn gross and creepy), but the man takes himself WAY too seriously (busting into impressions like he's the funniest man alive and all this stuff). And the brief and juicy tidbits about the actual filming experience (the heat, people throwing up, how certain scenes were staged, etc.) were really fascinating. I just wished Tobe Hooper had been there to comment. Oh, and it was fun seeing Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) in real-life as he's just sorta big and squishy and teddy-bearish. (And the documentary made me realize that my next-door neighbor reminds me of Jim Seidow--the Cook--if he were a bit bulkier. A little bit unnerving.)

Overall: Definitely interesting for those of you who are die-hard TCSM-fans, but don't go in expecting too much otherwise (like me) you'll be a bit disappointed.

Grade: B-

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cinema Wasteland, Here I Come

It's been a while, fair readers. I must admit, I've been a busy gal and haven't had a chance to watch a horror flick in a long long time.

And chances are, I won't have a chance to watch any the next couple weeks (though I *DO* have Texas Chain Saw Massacre: A Family Portrait Revisited up next in my Netflix queue, so you can at least stay tuned for that).

However, I can share with you (with great excitement) that for my 30th b-day, my sister got me a one-day pass to the Cinema Wasteland Movie and Memorabilia Expo the last weekend in March, and I plan on hitting up as many movies as I can while I'm there.

I'm not sure yet which day I'm going (the only time I know for certain I *WON'T* be there is Saturday afternoon, which is a bit of a bummer since I'll be missing Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!), but these are the potential movies that I may the opportunity to see (and would LIKE to see) while I'm there:

THE ALIEN FACTOR (1979) A spaceship crash lands outside Baltimore and a trio of alien creatures emerge to terrorize the local townsfolk in this cult B movie gem from director Don Dohler. Look out for The Leemold, a reptilian monster that can suck the life force from humans. Side step The Inferbyce, a gooey clawed creature from beyond the stars; and beware the walking carpet known as Zagatile for rug burns can hurt plenty! Watch for local Baltimore thespian and Dohler regular, George Stover, and (semi-regular Wasteland attendee) TV Horror Host Count Gore DeVol sans make-up in a regular acting role.

ASTRO-ZOMBIES (1968) John Carradine and his hunchback assistant are creating “astro men” in a basement laboratory. The first of the creatures winds up with a killer's brain and runs amuck, mutilating women with various garden tools. Determined to create an astro-man that will obediently listen, but hampered by foreign agents led by Tura Satana, we find that greed eventually kills off everyone by the film's end. They just don't make 'em like this any more! One of director Ted V. Mikels most popular and well known films is still loads of fun and well worth a watch.

BIGFOOT (1969) A couple of bikers fooling around in the local Bigfoot graveyard must really piss off the Bigfoot population because Mister Foot interrupts and promptly makes off with one of the biker chicks. Her old man trails the creature with the help of aging con man John Carridine, who sees money in capturing the creature. It turns out that the Bigfoot creatures are kidnapping women in order to breed with them and save their race. One of the creatures has to battle a bear to protect a kidnapped biker chick and the sheriff finally shows up long enough to blow away one of the larger creatures so everyone can call it a day. Watch for Wasteland Guest, Haji, as one of the kidnapped biker chicks. It's been a few years since we screened this crowd favorite, so get ready for a real treat when we present the Drive-In classic, Bigfoot, complete with a bunch of original TV commercials from the era spliced into the film for added fun.

THE CRAZIES (1973) A US Army plane carrying a bacterial virus known as Trixie crashes near Evans City, Pennsylvania. When the virus gets into the drinking water, the locals begin transforming into psycho killers. The Army arrives in an attempt to save the remaining sane citizens and total chaos ensues. This low budget horror outing from director George Romero was a box office flop upon its initial release. In reality, it's one of his best films. It relies a lot on gore effects and death scenes to tell the story and the acting is top notch and above most of the early Romero films. Wasteland guest, Bill Hinzman (Night of the Living Deads graveyard zombie), served as director of photography so maybe well ask him to introduce the film on Saturday. I'm always surprised at the amount of George Romero fans that have never actually seen this film.

MANIAC (1980) As a child, Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) was abused. As an adult, he's a maniac! Prowling the streets of New York, Frank stalks and kills women, adding their scalps to the heads of his mannequin collection. One day Frank meets up with a photographer (Caroline Munro) and begins what he hopes is a normal relationship. Unfortunately his compulsions to kill remain and if she's not careful, Caroline may very well find herself another victim of a human monster! Although Wasteland guest Caroline Munro has starred in several great horror and fantasy films over the years, we know Wasteland fans demand a little gore in their diets. With top notch Tom Savini effects and a career performance from Star Spinell, MANIAC is one of the most notorious horror films of the early 80's and a real fan favorite.

They all clearly sound priceless.

So expect at least a few good, campy reviews at the beginning of April. Woot woot!