Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Film Trailer Fun - Y'all

Aw hell, (he said in his best Nick Nolte) how bout another continuing column here at T and A? We've already got:


And now, we'll do FILM TRAILER FUN Y'ALL. Let's get things started with (a not so "fun" film, in fact my dear Molly cried and on occasion, so have I) this:

Private Witt: "This great evil. Where does it come from? How'd it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who's doin' this? Who's killin' us? Robbing us of life and light. Mockin' us with the sight of what we might've known. Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed to this night?"

Wow, ya know I still get very emotional when I see that trailer. I can watch the film and stay steady, but the trailer is a brutal montage of the film's essence and power - whew. I regard Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line as the greatest war film ever made. I can't tell you how many people I know hated this film. Well, considering it was released several months after the sheer spectacle of Saving Private Ryan, it's understandable. Horror movies and War movies are the most philosophical of all genres. My colleague Dr. Shaviro might claim 'just horror' but I think one gets you the other, and he might agree with that too. As such, The Thin Red Line is most assuredly one of the most (if not the most) philosophical war film ever made and therein lies it's 'turn off' qualities for the Rambo lovin' crowd (of which I number myself one of). But, to quote a friend of mine, would you rather have popcorn or a full meal? The Thin Red Line is too complicated to do justice in a small blog entry, but I can say that:

The dialectic this film interrogates is very very old. The never ending quest for equilibrium between man and nature. Man's "dominion" over nature as it were, and the struggle... The struggle for one to control and contain the other is what's at stake in this brutally real and extremely powerful motion picture.

I still get goosebumps during many scenes, facilitated no doubt by Hans Zimmer's utterly brilliant score for this film. I believe it to be probably the most important score of the last twenty years. "Journey to the Line" is one of the most perfect fusions of sound and image you're likely to ever witness. I'm not alone in this opinion, Douglas Winter (soundtrack reviewer for Video Watchdog) agrees: "...probably the finest film score of the past decade, and certainly the most influential. Zimmer constrcuted some of the most unconventional cues ever written for the genre: brooding atmospheres of immanence that used ambient string motifs, distant percussion, and native Melanesian chants. The highlight of the disc is the stunning (and often imitated) thematic progression 'Journey to the Line.' (Quoted in VW No. 100). I concur on all accounts - it's a tour de force for Zimmer and marks a turning point in his career. The Thin Red Line paved the way for Zimmer's Wagnerian turns with Gladiator, Batman Begins and King Arthur. The Da Vinci Code is slightly more Medieval in its designs but is full of moments of sublime beauty as with the awe inspiring and hypnotic "Chevaliers De Sangreal."

"Nature's cruel Staros!" Nick Nolte points out to Elias Kostas, but I guess that depends on your point of view.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Word on My Blog and Film Blogs

I debate frequently on whether or not to use this blog as an outlet for my scholarly endeavors. I write a great deal on cinema, but not in a very "accessible" way. The jargon-laced and theory- driven stuff that I write for my profession is meant for, primarily, an "academic" audience. I stumble across a good deal of blogs that analyze cinema with high-brow ambitions, lensed through a "critic" or "cinephile" modality, which is not really what I like to read or what I want to write. My own thoughts on "how" to write when "tastes" dominate discourse and your audience could give a rat's ass about theory, are housed in Stephen King's Danse Macabre, which posesses the "style" and "voice" I'd most like to adopt for my own works. Sometimes I feel like joining in on the debates at some of these blogs, but mostly think better of it and keep quiet. Who would really fucking care what my two cents are anyhow?

It just got me thinking, when you do this for a living, the "fun" of intellectual debate is not fun, it's mainly "work."

As for Trash Aesthetics? I started Trash Aesthetics as a release for all my sensational turns of phrase, adjective whoring, opinion mongering, and most of all - fun. So, I've upheld my decision to not turn in works of scholarship to this site. I will continue to write about women that turn me on, films I loved as a kid, silly clips of the week, and my personal favorite - the GONE TO BED series. The goal of this site is to provide discourse on mass media, yes. But, I like to distill it through a very personal filter. I'd like the prose to read, oh I dunno, somwhere's between the informal, personal, yet authoritative voice of Stephen King, a sedate (as opposed to rabid) Harlan Ellison, and the accessible academic leanings of someone like Danny Peary. I Hope that I am succeeding and that the content is amusing, if even, every now and then, enlightening. And occasionally, there will be a tangentially academic post - what the hell, people liked my From Hell musings - and they bordered a bit towards the academic side, but I thought they were still plenty "light."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Clip of the Week

Yup, time for another Clip of the Week. I was, and still am, a major MONKEES fan. I was addicted as a young lad and only appreciate the show on a deeper level now. In fact, I found it to be the premiere example of an early postmodern text for a television criticism course I was teaching over the past year. The students (both semesters) just loved the show. You really just can't beat The Monkees -

Apart from that, many of you know of my love for Julie Newmar - this and, of course, her work on Batman were my first exposures to her. Pity the sound isn't better on this clip as "The Girl That I Knew Somewhere" is damn near the very top of my favorite Monkees tunes - a great Nesmeth composition. I managed to snag season 2 of the series, but still need season 1. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Haunted by "Scandal"

I saw Scandal in 1989. It has stayed with me (haunted is perhaps a the more appropriate word) ever since. Clearly, as nearly twenty years later, I am compelled to write about it - the proof's in the pudding.

There are films that haunt us - for whatever reason - you just can't shake them; they linger for days, sometimes weeks. There's been a lot of these films for me, as a child, a teenager, an adult. I'm not referring to the type of impact Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, Salem's Lot, The Exorcist, or other films I've written about manufacture. I'm referring to the sort of uneasy, lingering, queasy, haunting feelings that possess you in the wake of a profound cinematic experience. I'll come back to Scandal in a bit...

I think the first film that really did this to me was Sid and Nancy (1986) which I saw with a few friends at the local "art house" theater back in 86' (the same theater I saw Scandal in) and although it was one of the biggest downers I had ever seen, I was fascinated and blown away. Scenes replayed in my mind for days as I would try and drift off to bed, I'd try and think about something else, but the theme to Sid and Nancy (Taxi To Heaven by Pray for Rain) proved too grim a spectre (as a musical motif) and I just couldn't shake certain scenes - like the alley dumpster scene used for the poster, or the last, very haunting scene of the film. A few other examples? Well, I had a very hard time shaking Althea Flynt's death scene in The People Versus Larry Flynt (1996). Milos Forman does a masterful job orchestrating this scene. So masterful in fact that it unhinged me. It didn't help matters that he had Dvorák's Stabat Mater blaring - a very emotional piece. I'm still very moved by this film - I show it in 4 different classes that I teach.

Another film that took the tar outta me pretty good was Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights (1997). By about the time we start to intercut between Roller Girl getting her excessive revenge on that jack-ass from high-school and Dirk getting the shit kicked outta him for an assumption that he is a gay exhibitionist, I started to get a bit queasy. But, I'll tell ya, that was just the appetizer for the main course. By the time we get to the worst "drug deal gone bad" scenario probably ever committed to film - things got downright uncomfortable, and not just for Dirk, Todd and Reed. HOW uncomfortable Gene Rayburn? Well, not only was Dirk jumping with each and every firecracker Cosmo ("He's Chinese") threw, but I was too. And not only was I jumping, but almost everyone in the theater was jumping too. In fact, we were all, kinda sorta, leaning towards the rear exit theater doors. P.T. Anderson would have been PROUD. This is manipulation of the Hitchcock, Polanski order. I am in earnest readers - we were not only jumping but trying to get AWAY FROM THIS SCENE. If you didn't see it in the theater - you might have missed out on a serious cinematic experience. Have a look see:

And, eat your heart out LARA - P.T. Anderson's usage of Sister Christian, Jesse's Girl and 99 Red Balloons trumps anything I've seen Wes do (in my humble opinion, so nyaa!).

But, ya know, I've often said that for me the true heart of Boogie Nights is not Dirk, Reed, Rollergirl, Amber, Jack, or any other MAJOR character. The heart of the film is Don Cheadle's Buck Swope and Melora Walters' Jessie St. James. How wonderful their story is - I won't go into detail here, suffice it to say, for me they provide the heart and soul to this tale of societal misfits.

Now then, back to Scandal. This one bewitched me but good. And, the primary reason for this is this lovely lady:

Ah, The Lovely Joanne Whalley. Careful readers will note that my favorite gal of all time is Natalie Wood and that there is a strong resemblance between the two actresses. Well, in predictable fashion, I went (to quote Arthur Fonzerelli) Nutsy-Cuckoo over her and I still am nutsy for Joanne. I don't feel that she catapulted to a status that was commensurate with her talent. Joanne should have been huge - how rare a thing to have deep, dark beauty and serious acting chops. This combination is the most sought after prize in the industry - sad that it fails repeatedly at recognizing it (especially when it stares you in the face with large, dark, intelligent eyes). It's quite clear to me why Val Kilmer went crazy for her; their divorce after eight years and two children (those must be some good lookin' kids) was a sad affair.

Scandal was one of those rare, magical cinema experiences. Haunting? Yes. No question. Tense, dramatic, and potent. John Hurt's Dr. Stephen Ward is a particular highlight - he steals the film from everyone (except Joanne of course). His final scene is drenched in pathos - and his "love" for Christine (though unrequainted) is oddly "genuine." How odd their relationship is. They are as husband wife in many ways except for physical intimacy. There is an interesting tell - early in the film when Christine asks Stephen if he had ever been married, "Once, years ago, for about 20 minutes" he charmingly discloses. But, we see plainly that Stephen is not one for "ownership" - it is one of the oddest romances ever committed to film. How accurate it is - who can say? But I always get emotional when she admits that she loves Stephen, that he is the "only man she has ever loved" Beware men who think woman are playthings, your comeuppance will be fatal. But, it's Joanne's film and she turns in a star making performance, the one that shot her into international orbit. And how was she rewarded, after making the ten best lists of every major movie critic? I'll tell you how, two words... NAVY FUCKING SEALS! (right-o, that's three words). No offense to Michael Biehn or Charlie Sheen (two actors I admire), but Navy Seals is unbelievable horse-shit. I actually spent money to go see that film - - - FOR JOANNE. And she was relegated to a silly minor supporting role as a half-Lebanese, half-English reporter. Dear God... Okay, back to Scandal. I remember getting out of Scandal (I saw it alone) and driving around, havin' a few smokes and thinking (seriously!) "You gotta find this girl and make her yours!" Of course, 1) this was just a silly fantasy encouraged by Joanne's bewitching effect on me, and 2) she was already married to Val Kilmer. But, come on, what are fantasies for after all? I went back and saw the film again and was even more infatuated - she simply commands the gaze, gendered or otherwise (in a film that is all about the gaze). Joanne seduces and beguiles every man she meets in the film but she seduces the audience with her extreme physical beauty too - in the way that Ava Gardner brought men to their knees, or in the way Hitchcock worshiped at the altar of Tippi Hedren. It's no wonder Stephen spends a third of the film sketching and painting her. She is fetishized, objectified, punished, adored, and lastly, somewhat triumphant, but at what cost. The ending of the film is is very powerful. I'd rather avoid spoilers here, in case you haven't seen the film or are unaware of the Profumo scandal.

So, I finally got a copy of this DVD after years of keeping an eye on the Amazon marketplace - finally, I said "fuck it!" and ebayed a copy from South Korea. Like Matinee below - Scandal has been in moritorium for years. I've watched it twice in the past few days and am still hooked, I'm 19 years old all over again, falling for a celluloid lover, and yes, I'm still haunted. Haunted by the film, haunted by Joanne.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Clip(s) of the Week

Howdy T and A fans (trash aesthetic fans). You know, here at Trash Aesthetics, I wear my allegiances pretty unabashedly on my sleeve. There's no guess-work as to how I feel about things media related - I'm pretty direct. Now, having said that - let it be known that I have on occasion (frequently) extolled gushy amounts of hero worship towards the bottomless well of knowledge and talent possessed by the most underrated and neglected (by the mainstream) writer/director/producer/historian and all around good guy-auteur around: Joe Dante.

For years, I have been trying to track down a copy of MATINEE (1993) on DVD, it went into moritorium quite awhile back and has been a major pain in my ass to locate a copy. My friend Don, who has more dvd's than your average Blockbuster doesn't even have a copy! Let's take a look at the trailer for the brilliant - (I say BRILLIANT people) Matinee.

Joe Dante's ode' to William Castle and growing up 60s style is one of my favorite all-time movies. It rates very very high. I Love all of Dante's work (my God, Gremlins II is a work of genius), but Matinee is my sentimental favorite and maybe it might be Joe's too. Here's my second bonus clip for this week - the trailer for MANT! (the film within a film in Matinee).

I haven't seen anything on IMDB, but in Tim Lucas' current issue of Video Watchdog, it has been discussed and reported that Joe's next film is a sort of Day For Night, Irma Vep, Ed Wood, type thing. Looks like he is examining the behind the scenes story of the Jack Nicholson penned, Roger Corman helmed The Trip (1967) - a personal favorite of mine - due in no small part because I adore Susan Strasberg - but it's also a great cultural artifact.

I guess the only question then is what parts do Dick Miller and Robert Picardo play?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

For The Thousandth Time: Part V (Gone To Bed Series)

Yup. Time for another Gone To Bed entry. My last one, which was all about Horror of Dracula, got me thinking about another film that A) I have gone to bed to hundreds of times, and B) is also a film that initially scared the absolute shit outta me. Part I was disturbing, not unwatchable disturbing, but just bad enough to get me massively paranoid that night. If my old, dear friend, Michael reads this post - he will well remember he and I making crosses to protect ourselves that Saturday night in 1979. We went down to his Dad's workshop in the basement and we fashioned ourselves some damn fine crosses to keep away ANY and ALL vampires that night (well, as previously stated, any and all does not include incredibly hot female vampires that might just need a small snack). But, I digress, for you see, that night was the first installment of Stephen King's Salem's Lot; and what an ENORMOUS night it was for yours truly. (sidebar - there were no incredibly hot vampires in Salem's Lot, Bonnie Bedelia made a very, in Barlow's words, "toothsome" and attractive vampire, but alas, she was not seen as such until the epilogue - mere minutes from the end of the film. Now Marie Windsor would have made a great vampire, especially in her heyday 1950s - yeah, she would've been deadly in more ways than one).

Let's take a look at the evidence before I get into that 2nd Saturday night and thoughts on the film in general. GOD, I love Harry Sukman's score. One of the best original scores ever written for a TV miniseries. The Trailer:

That was the trailer that was cut for the theatrical release in foreign markets. It's a damn fine trailer too (even if it "shows" a bit too much towards the end).

Now then, the following Saturday, part II aired. Holy Shit. What a night. Remember, I was just nearly ten years old. I sat there watching the film with my Mother, she was eating it up. I was getting almost "sick" scared, where you can slowly feel knots in your stomach slowly building up. To make matters worse, my Mom was gobbling some artichoke hearts out of a large jar with a tooth-pick. So, I grabbed a tooth pick too and started gobbling up the vinegar soaked hearts, trying to give my stomach something to do, other than grumble and knot up. By the time the sun had gone down and Ben and Mark confront Barlow, I was SCARED SHITLESS. And I really went over the edge when we start to see the other vampires, Mike Ryerson, The Glick Boys, Larry Crockett, etc., slowly crawling down the narrow passage from Barlow's lair. Man, I was PETRIFIED. The 3:14 mark is when the locals start crawling towards Mark - Let's take a look see:

How petrified? Well (and this is a legendary story in my family), I COULD NOT SLEEP and in fact got so sick, that I ran out of my room and down the hall to throw up. Sadly, I didn't make it and puked all over my Mom's brand new suede "Coach" bag (some consider it poetic justice for encouraging me to watch it and providing artichoke hearts). She was not, however, of the opinion that it was justice of any kind. A major turning point for me occurred shortly after watching this film. I had already read "JAWS" and considered myself quite the adult for having done so. But, I was still on a diet of stuff like, Tolkein, Roger Zelazny, Piers Anthony, comics, and a lot of classics. A few weeks after Salem's Lot had aired, I was with my Mom and brother in a book store and asked if she would buy it for me. "The movie that made you throw up all over my new Coach bag??! I don't think so." But, I somehow got her to cave in. The rest is, as they say, history. My brother had copies of The Shining and The Dead Zone (both amazing, especially Dead Zone) in the house. I devoured those just as voraciously. But, Salem's Lot remains my favorite King novel. It's one of the VERY few novels that successfully managed to actually SCARE ME. Truly scare me. The only other novel that ever did this in that same, primal way, was Peter Straub's Ghost Story. I would like to write a great deal of literary criticism about those two books as I feel that they were perhaps (along with Blatty's The Exorcist) the most "important" novels of "horror" in the 1970s. Maybe another post...

Salem's Lot abides in no small part due to its exceptional cast. The film rests on the basically competent shoulders of David Soul. I was an avid viewer of Starsky and Hutch in the 70s, and was fond of Soul. But, for some strange reason really identified with his portrayal of Ben Mears, clearly not as much as I identified with Lance Kerwin's Mark Petrie, as we had major similarities, (close in age and interests) but as intended by King - Mears and Petrie are supposed to be mirror images of one another. So, Ben was the type of adult I wanted to be at that time. However, when I watch Soul's performance now, I find it consistent but strongly underplayed. I feel like he occasionally needs a strong serotonin shot or something - too uptight and morose. I'm not saying I need Chuckles the Clown here, but maybe he could smile while he's trying to pick up Susan Norton or something... Nevertheless, Soul is as good as he needs to be.

Now then, one of the greatest reasons Salem's Lot worked so well then and still packs a powerful right hook today is because of James Mason. One of the cinema's greatest actors, he lends a magisterial aura to the film. A blend of condescending disdain and aristocratic malevolence. And, ladies and gentlemen, he delivers. My adoration for this actor is immeasurable. I've mentioned before that my favorite "musical" of all time is "A Star is Born" (1954), and that Mason's performance is beyond words, but again, really, he is magnificent. His inclusion in the cast of Salem's Lot is a major coup. Just watch any scene with him - ANY scene, and you will see him play this part to perfection. The part of the intellectually superior European who condescends to everyone, hoping that at least one person ("Constable" Parkins Gillespie, it turns out) will be intuitive enough to sense his contempt and general cynicism towards the small-town bumpkins he has to share oxygen with. It's a brilliant performance from a brilliant actor. Mason is, as usual, fabulous and fun, he lends genuine class to a lurid shocker. What more can a fan ask for?

Geoffrey Lewis? Brilliant. And I told him so two years ago in Cleveland.
Lew Ayers? Perfect
Bonnie Bedelia? Perfectly cast - nice mix of wholesome, near mousy, sex appeal.
Lance Kerwin? Super intense! But, also perfect
George Dzundza? Just the right amount of fat, drunk slob - perfectly played.
Fred Willard? Horribly dressed, but super fine in the role.
Marie Windsor and Elisha Cook Jr? Do I really have to tell you what these two magnificently seasoned actors are capable of?

The Cast Destroys that of the remake. PERIOD. There is no equivalent of James Mason today - zip, nada, nil.

Speaking of the remake. I've not heard, but rather, I've read on IMDB a few comments from people who said something to the fact that "gee, this movie sure is dated, the newer version is waaaay better." or some such drivel. I guess "dated" is a signifier of "quality" to some people. Well, people are entitled to their opinions, but that doesn't mean they have the slightest clue as to what "contextual" analysis entails. I was not a fan of the re-make, but at the same time, it was innocuous enough. My friend and fellow blogger in Britain., Taliesin rated the remake higher than the original, and I think he was smokin' some very good shit while writing that review, but I have nothing but respect for my Comrade in the U.K. and I disagree with him on minor points all the time. The simple fact of the remake is that Donald Sutherland chews the scenery up as if it were a giant Ham Hock - providing the protein for his TREMENDOUSLY HAMMY interpretation of Straker. And Rutger Hauer? Sadly, a light scare as Barlow, a dull frisson at best. Potent enough to maybe scare a three year old. I have great respect for both actors but find them miscast. The remake also takes tremendous liberties with the character of Father Callahan. Fair enough to start the film with a scene that King himself had noted would be the proper way to begin a sequel BUT, they then proceed to turn him into a sort of "Pied Piper" of local Vampires and extend his role into that of partial master villain of the story. Horseshit - doesn't work. And for that matter, neither does the remake. The major theme of King's novel, in fact, he claims it as the total raison d'etre for it, is the idea of a town slowly drying up and vanishing. How could someone pull this off convincingly? In a novel, there's room for this negotiation, in a movie - very little. So, while I feel Tobe Hooper's vitae made him the ideal candidate for this made for TV miniseries, Mikael Salomon's matteur en scene background as a cinematographer, and director of Television programming commodifies the final product in a much more concrete fashion. Yet, Hooper's narrative film background injects his visualization with a more cinematic aura - it feels more like a film. After all, this is Tobe Hooper. The remake fumbles with drab, morbid, dingy set pieces as a substitute for real scares. And, chalk one up for the geriatric crowd, the CGI haunted houses and gimmicks do not work as effectively as Hooper's "old-school" opticals, tricks, and make-up. I could go on and on here - but, what's the point. Tastes are tastes. And, this post is not about comparing an original to a remake (though I have a point or two left to make), it's about me going to bed to this Goddamn film 250 times.

Hooper's Barlow (Reggie Nalder, in a more lurid and ghastly Count Orlock disguise) may have been a far cry from the way King originally wrote him, but really, do we need another slick, lithe, urbane European? It can, at least, be said of the original Barlow - that the image resonates in the mind far longer than the Rutger Hauer version, faithful to the as written character or not. As for the 1979 version being dated? Well, uhm, sure, duh. Most documents reflect the period in which they were created. Every now and then we have a timeless "object" - (whatever that means) but how is that determined? By its aesthetic? By its theme? By its content? By all of these things? By an aggregate opinion? By what? If in fact, it is a combination of these criteria, then I would like to state that there is NOTHING DATED about Salem's Lot. Nothing - save for one thing and I'll get to that soon. Funny that the Gen Y generation of whatever you call late teens early twenties folk these days refer to this film as "dated" when I see them emulating trends from the 70s in regard to speech, style of dress and fashion, HAIR STYLES (big time with the hair, 45 minutes to make it look like you just got out of bed), etc etc.

As for what I think is dated about Salem's Lot? Well, Fred Willard's character, Larry Crockett wears progressively more appalling suits as the film wears on. It's like he raided Herb Tarlek's closet - we start off bad and things get worse with every wardrobe change, culminating in his and boom boom Bonnie's matching cherry satin undies (purchased in Boston no less). As a fate for wearing this heinous collection of 70s haute couture (remember, I'm a big fan of contextual analysis, but I was alive and well in 79' and his clothes were offensive by standards even then!) he is (just after donning the cherry satin undies) KILLED! Now honestly, this is the only thing I think that has NOT dated well about this film. All the people who think the original is some sort of campy or kitschy TV movie - You're DEAD FUCKING WRONG. Salems Lot has aged gracefully and kicked major ass when it came out. ASK anybody who watched it when it aired.

My biggest pet peeve with Salem's Lot is famously known in a great many circles as my: NED TEBBITS SYNDROME. You see, in the novel Salem's Lot, there is a character named FLOYD TIBBITS, in fact he and Ben Mears were quasi-friends as kids. Well, in the infinite wisdom of someone, or some people, or some committee, the name Floyd Tibbits was apparantly not suitable. I do not know why, but there you have it. The geniuses in charge of this monumental decision felt that Floyd Tibbits name must be changed to something that apparantly was more suitable. After all, we can't have a Horst Shmalzenbachergildenfenst - too complicated: Horst Shmalzenbachergildenfenst becomes: Harry Smith. That I can deal with.



changed to:


I just don't get it. I mean, for me, that rates up there with "What's the meaning of life?" or "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Why oh why is there this logic defying name change???

It's almost as if something like this happened:

WEALTHY VENTURE CAPITALIST: I'm willing to pitch in X amount of dollars to finance your film.
TOBE HOOPER: Great! Fantastic!
TOBE HOOPER: Okay, what's that?
WEALTHY VENTURE CAPITALIST: This character... (checks teleplay) uhm... yes, here it is. This character - FLOYD TIBBITS?
WEALTHY VENTURE CAPITALIST: Yes, that simply won't do. We'll have to change it.
TOBE HOOPER: Sure Man, what'd ya have in mind?
WEALTHY VENTURE CAPITALIST: Floyd Tibbits is a ridiculous name.
TOBE HOOPER: Whatever you say man.
WEALTHY VENTURE CAPITALIST: Yes, a ridiculous name. Hence forth - Floyd Tibbits shall be known as...NED TEBBETS!!
TOBE HOOPER: Uhm, You're serious?
TOBE HOOPER: Uhm Okay, ya know, that's not really that different a name man, in fact they're kind of identical ya know?
WEALTHY VENTURE CAPITALIST: Well, Mr. Hooper we can withdraw our offer, I'm sure that another network will-
TOBE HOOPER: Nope! Ned Tebbets is a damn fine substitution. (grabs check)

At least this is the scenario I envision to somehow rationalize this incredibly imbecilic name substitution which is surely the worst ever committed in recorded history.

Apart from this maddening issue, Salem's Lot, rates for me as PERFECT HORROR, and an important marker in my life. I've written before how ironic it is that films that scared the holy bajeezus outta me as a kid serve as sort of calming anti-depressants before bed. Don't know why really. Or maybe I know exactly why. In fact I think I do. I'll save that for another Gone To Bed entry. Salem's Lot is perfect y'all.

Approx. 200-250 times

Monday, April 14, 2008

Clip of the Week

For no apparent reason - other than I've been watching this brilliant gem the last two nights - I bring you the VAN-TASTIC trailer for... THE VAN (1977)

I love this movie, LOVE this movie. Blimey, what a day today. Thank God for THE VAN.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trash Aesthetics - Blog of the Beast?

My blogger profile # of views is currently at... Yes, you guessed it:

Clip of the Week

Well, I thought it was time to do a "clip of the week" here at Trash-Aesthetics. I've noticed that many blogs that I read have a similar gimmick. So why throw in with this lot? What will this accomplish? I think, or at least it is my hope, that each kind visitor to this blog will watch the clip and gain something for their efforts. What that something may be, I cannot fathom, perhaps knowledge or awareness of something new or something forgotten. The clips will will have a wide range of variety - but more than likely will relate to some form of mass media. Let's kick it off today with a grand start then, shall we? All this talk about Fran Jeffries below has got me in a serious Fran Jeffries mood. Alas, her movie credits are scant - I threw in Harum Scarum (1965) last night and am watching The Pink Panther (1963) right now. So let's enjoy Fran's fine moment below: Singing Meglio Stasera (English: It Had Better Be Tonight) by Mercer and Mancini, here's Fran:

Fran had a much more substantive role in Sex and The Single Girl (1964) which is a major major favorite of mine. And, just why the Fuck isn't it available on DVD???? C'mon now people.

Lastly, these vids may not last long as Youtube gets them continually yanked for violations for terms of usage etc. I'll try and replace them when that happens.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Silver Screen Sirens...

A few of you have guessed as to the identities of a the small handful of ladies that are highlighting the right column of this page. The pics are indeed small and nobody got all 12, Fran Jeffries stumped a lot of people. So, they are (from left to right):

1) Julie Newmar
2) Fran Jeffries
3) Tura Satana
4) Nancy Kovack
5) Silvana Mangano
6) Rita Hayworth
7) Lana Turner
8) Ava Gardner
9) Soledad Miranda
10) Emmanuelle Vaugier
11) Melinda "Mindy" Clarke
12) Barbara Stanwyck

Just a few of my favorite ladies that adorned the silver screen in the past, present, and presumably, future. They have made life more joyous and I am indebted to them for it.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Off To Cleveland...

Last night was good fun. I joined my good friends Don May Jr. and Jerry Chandler of Synapse films for a free screening of The Ruins (2008). While Don and Jerry lamented the adaptation of the novel, we all agreed it was good fun. There is something in the kinship one feels when watching a brutal film with good seasoned horror movie veteran brothers. While the rest of the audience cringed at certain visually difficult scenes, Don, myself and Jerry laughed riotously while exchanging glances with one another. It's a moment that speaks of brotherhood and camaraderie - and fine moments they are. The film, by the way, is great fun and a fairly stout endurance test for the audience. I had a great time. I will be joining these same two friends in Cleveland this weekend for the bi-annual CINEMA WASTELAND convention which is always great fun. This Spring's convention brings (among many other stars) an icon whom I am THRILLED to meet. Dyanne Thorne:

So, I'm off to my annual WASTELAND visit. Looking forward to seeing the usual gang over dinner and treating myself to a few well-earned spoils from the convention dealers, some of whom are good friends. And, of course, can't wait to meet Dyanne!

Update: 4/10 - Here's a pic with the lovely Dyanne. She was extremely cordial and sweet. She's in her mid-70s and looks simply amazing. Thanks to Don May for snapping this pic.

For The Thousandth Time: Part IV (Gone To Bed Series)

For this edition of the Gone To Bed series - I arrive at a film that is EVEN more repsonsible for shaping and forming my life than Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). And, let me just say that this is a formidable feat. There are a couple of films that held great dominion over my psychosexual development (I also credit here Batman re-runs for my introduction to Julie Newmar, who predates my lifelong love affair with Natalie Wood) and therefore rate slightly higher on the "importance scale". True, A and C meet Frankenstein is my all-time favorite film, but just prior to seeing that film for the first time I saw another film for the first time, and I remember every damn detail of that momentous occasion. As reported at Cinema Retro: "The British Film Institute has announced that the classic Hammer horror film Dracula (released in the USA as Horror of Dracula) has undergone an extensive and painstaking restoration. The 1958 film was instrumental in making Hammer the legendary studio it is now regarded as. It also immortalized Christopher Lee's interpretation as Bram Stoker's infamous Count as a seminal point in horror film history." It was also a seminal point in my own, very personal, history:

The Date: It was early 1975 - May I think. I was a wee lad of 5 years old
The Place: Our be-it-ever-so-humble bungalow in Dearborn, MI.
The Occasion: My father was washing his car. My brother was at a little-league game. My mother was shopping. And I? I was in the den, watching a movie that would change my life. That movie was the 1958 Hammer Studios Classic: Horror of Dracula

I cannot begin to tell you the repercussions that this film has had upon me. Oh, I may be able to discuss a few of them for the benefit of this column, but to properly contextualize this moment and the domino effect it has had on my life would take a much larger entry than most readers would have the patience for.

Which brings to the forefront of this post - Hammer's film itself: The great Horror of Dracula (1958). This film has been written about extensively; it occupies a sacred place in horror film history and a privileged space in general film history. And, while I will not be bringing anything very "new" to the fold, I can discuss a few points perhaps relegated to "minor" and I can certainly discuss the film in terms of its massive impact on me.

I remember it as though it happened yesterday. I sat in the den transfixed by the Gothic flourishes of this film, credit to Bernard Robinson's production design and Jack Asher's cinematography; they were a formidable team - especially under director Terence Fisher. I did not know what it was about per se (as I had missed the first five or ten minutes) but I knew something evil was lurking in that celluloid. I sat spellbound nonetheless, seduced by the visuals and the overwhelming sense of dread - it was palpable to my five year old self. Something bad was going to happen, it had to!

Sure nuff', John Van Eyssen's rather prissy (and hence doomed, more on that presently) Jonathan Harker is, ever the gentlemen, trying to console a woman that he has encountered in Castle Dracula (remember, I didn't know where he was or whose place he was visiting or what damn film I was watching). But when I saw Valerie Gaunt "thanking" Harker I was somehow uneasy about her "hug". When she pulls back and starts staring at his neck (see pic if you please) like it was about to erupt a geyser of A negative - even MY five year old self figured it out. "WATCH IT PRISSY ENGLISH DUDE!" I thought to myself, this strikingly beautiful foul temptress cannot be trusted! But, I was thinking, well, maybe just another hug, what's the harm?

What's the harm? I'll tell ya what's the harm. Moments later she's thrown to the floor (by The Count, who is pissed that she's making a play for Harker) and we see her true countenance. I was right! I was right! I thought. She's evil and foul and... and... man is she HOT! So, there you have it. I can only make love now if a woman dons a Victorian gown and fangs. Well, actually, that's not the case at all but that scene surely has had a tremendous impact on me. The simple, plain fact of it is - I was repelled and "turned on" simultaneously - not an usual situation. Many an ultimately hollow but torrid "love" affair have begun this way - repulsion and attraction. But, it's a dead end and always will be. What WAS unusual was that it happened to me at such an early age. I'm reminded of a South Park episode that conveyed the same phenomena.

The scene resides in South Park's "The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers" when Butters accidentally watches a porn that he thinks is part of the Ring trilogy. He is confused and inasmuch as he can be... aroused. To the point where he looks down at his crotch and says, "Oh golly, hey, what's goin' on down there?" I had this very same reaction; it probably wasn't the first, but it was the first that I clearly remember. Yes, Valerie Gaunt's depiction/portrayal as a manipulative, cunning vampire was my first turn on. Explains a lot really. Perhaps this is why I would gladly lay down arms (stake, hammer, garlic) and just go right to the Vampiress every time.

So, having shared that - be it known that I blame Horror of Dracula for the following:

1) Duplicitous, evil, bat-shit crazy women do NOT in fact repel me.

2) I, like Harker, am too gentlemanly. Not prissy or genteel, just gentlemanly, which is a detriment. A lot of woman I have known seem to go for the scum-bag, asshole loser over the gentleman. I, on the other hand like all women, EVEN the duplicitous, evil, bat-shit crazy ones (I like to sure-up the odds a bit).

Speaking of the scene described above: here's a a clip from a documentary on Terence Fisher that talks about that very scene and its hardcore effect!

Besides all this personal history - I often show the climax to Horror of Dracula in Intro to Film and History of Film courses so as to chart the evolution from Tod Browning's off screen impalement of Lugosi and David Manners running around annoyingly yelling "Mina, Mina, Mina, Mina... Mina" TO Peter Cushing's athleticism and "man of action" pursuit of Lee's Dracula and his incredibly powerful and resonant death. It still packs a MAJOR wallop. To be sure, Browning's Dracula (1931) was the first sound horror film and remains not only a deserved classic and important film, but it also remains a marker for what terrified audiences upon its initial release. Transgression boundaries change from decade to decade - Fisher's Horror of Dracula scared the shit outta me as a child (and as I've mentioned, titillated me in a profoundly permanent fashion) and is still my favorite Dracula movie of all time. Although, I have to say, Lugosi is still my favorite Dracula - - - -

Funny how we conquer our fears, slay our demons... Films that had me petrified with fright as a child now serve (as stated before) as almost surrogate spouses. I put them on before bed and am quieted, calmed, consoled, mentally massaged. Like Dracula's many brides, I too have many brides - it's just that mine are inserted into my dvd player.

Approx. 300-350 times