Here’s a short film from Beijing, China directed by Joewi Verhoeven. It’s an odd and discomforting tale about a solitary writer whose fictional world is intruding upon the real world. The film is a quiet and focused examination of a writer’s creative doubts and fears. I particularly like the bit where a Chinese policeman who is a friend of the writer comes over and can’t seem to see the dead body that is perhaps a result of the unrestricted imagination of the writer. The film also has a lovely soft celluloid look even though it was shot entirely on a Canon DSLR. Also, pay attention to the beautiful and eerie background audio.
‘The Living Want Me Dead‘ is a short independent horror film that’s won a bunch of awards at festivals because it deserves to. I enjoyed every minute of this wild ride along with a desperate slacker as he realizes that he’s been contaminated with a substance that causes everyone within sniffing distance to want to disembowel, devour, decapitate and dismember him. He’s hounded by vomiting, mouth-foaming lunatics who simply won’t rest until he’s dead. It’s a clever commentary on the overdone zombie genre that manages somehow to be frightening and hilarious at the same time. The film was written and directed by Bill Palmer who employes techniques typically seen in independent feature films. Vimeo is full of filmmakers who want to strut their pro-quality stuff, but very few of them make anything I can watch for more than several seconds. I’m sure that director of photography Jeremy Hayward had a lot to do with this because the camera work is fluid and clear, even when following intense action and movement.
Director Palmer handles his equipment, crew and actors without letting the job overwhelm his natural instinct for telling a ripping good story and making us want to know what’s going to happen next. In fact, he made much of his own equipment, including a simple rig for filming underwater! He used water guns to shoot fake blood. I love that kind of filmmaking. And I love that he did it all without ridiculous shooting permits. He just hit the side streets with his little crew and turned the whole neighborhood into what I imagine was a hell of fun time. He has created a tight little view into a California suburb at Christmas time by littering the landscape with decorations that lend a sort of lunatic and false joy to the dark comedy and spurting blood.
So the main character, played to intense and despairing perfection by Adam Conger, tries to get away from his attackers by lying low at a friend’s house. Conger really hits his role on the money. He’s perfect as the overwhelmed slacker-type dude who’s actually fairly driven and maniacal in survival mode. But he just can’t seem to find a good way to explain the desperate situation to his friend who is played with great comic ability by Tony Nunes. I believe that during the violent proceedings in his backyard, this friend is primarily engaged with heating up a HotPocket. Needless to say, the hero’s plan for lying low does not work out very well!
Here’s an extremely rare underground Halloween treat for anyone who loves film. Ah, but only the very fewest of you will actually watch this all the way through! Give it a try. Not only is this film underground… it’s underhanded. Pere Portabella made ‘Cuadecuc, Vampir’ in 1970 by filming on the set of a Christopher Lee film called ‘Count Dracula’ that was being directed by Jesus Franco. Portabella’s underground classic is on its surface a silent horror film. But it’s also a documentary about the making of the Dracula film. It tells its story by stealing scenes from the feature being shot around it, almost as if the film were a mashup of existing footage! The high-contrast black and white photography evokes such cinema greats as Carl Theodor Dreyer’s ‘Vampyr’ and F.W. Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu.’ We see typical horror scenes like a stagecoach racing through the wilderness, or a dusty crypt, interrupted by the arm of a prop person using a fan to blow fake spiderwebs or a cameraman shooting from behind furniture. These slippages from horror into documentary actually produce a weird terror when you realize that the film was being shot under the watchful eyes of Spain’s dictator, General Francisco Franco. What the film really is underneath all the fantastic and disturbing imagery is a vicious attack on Franco and the false media manipulation that keeps all dictators in power. The portrait it paints of Franco himself is one of a sad, disturbed and largely ineffective vampire who lives inside a mental construction based on the past. The other characters in the film seem to be wandering through this psychotic realm, trying to find a way out.
The soundtrack incorporates jet engines, muzak, electronic music, opera singing, jackhammers, stuck records and various other electronic sounds. Don’t let this throw you because the soundtrack is one of the most eerie and unsettling that you will ever hear.
And I’m thinking that Criterion needs to jump on this and make a nice blu-ray release out of it.
Pere Portabella has a web site.
Now, just for kicks, here is a scene from the actual color film of Dracula being shot while Pere Portabella stole his own film right under Christopher Lee’s nose! You decide which film seems scarier.
This incredibly beautiful edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ was published in 1884 with illustrations by Paul Gustave Doré. Click on the images to see full sizes.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–
Only this and nothing more.”
‘Day the World Ended’ is a 1955 science fiction horror film directed by Roger Corman. Atomic war has destroyed civilization. A scientist and other survivors must defend themselves against a monster.
Watch parts 3 – 8 after the jump.
Okay, damn this is scary! Some outfit called Mindstage posted this a few years ago. Apparently, they are making a feature film about this horrific Michigan Dogman thing. Good grief! I am not going to Michigan ever! Never!