REVIEW: NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY

 

CAST

Robert Englund (Wishmaster)
Heather Langenkamp (Hellraiser: Judgement)
Wes Craven (Scream 4)
Robert Shaye (New Nightmare)
Amanda Wyss (Highlander: THe Series)
Jsu Garcia (Along Came Polly)
Johnny Depp (Blow)
John Saxon (From Dusk Till Dawn)
Leslie Hoffman (Star Trek: DS9)
Robert Rusler (Weird Science)
Kim Myers (Hellraiser 4)
Clu Gulager (The Virginian)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)
Ken Sagoes (Intolerable Cruelty)
Rodney Eastman (I Spit On Your Grave)
Penelope Dudrow (After Midnight)
Jennifer Rubin (Screamers)
Ira Heiden (Alias)
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Priscilla Pointer (The Flash
Brooke Bundy (General Hospital)
Lisa Wilcox (Watchers Reborn)
Tuesday Knight (The Fan)
Lisa Zane (Bad Influence)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Kane Hodder (Jaxon X)
Breendan Fletcher (Bloodrayne 3)
Zack Ward (Transformers)

The documentary itself lasts just under 4 hours, each film gets at least 25 minutes dedicated to it, and Freddy’s Nightmares and New Line Cinema get a brief discussion as well. Asides from Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette more or less everyone from the 8 films is interviewed. I watched the whole documentary in one sitting, at no point does it drag. It isn’t just talking heads there are interesting behind the scenes photos and videos, some of which feature unused special effects and deleted scenes – including a replacement for Robert Englund if he had wanted to much of a pay rise for the second film, I’ll say this, thankfully the two parties came to agreement! The interviewees don’t just pander to one another and pat each other on the back, they are quick to point out flaws in their own performances and disappointment with others.

Highly recommended. It is the perfect companion to the films.

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REVIEW: GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM

The slasher movie has always been looked upon with much disdain by critics, fans of ‘real’ film and even some horror fans for many years, which is strange considering its endurance; there are well over 500 in existence from the roots of ‘Psycho’ all the way up to features like ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’ and the remake of ‘April Fool’s Day’. As an advocate of the genre with an academic background in film, I was glad that somebody finally took the time to make a serious documentary that didn’t spend all its time telling us things we already knew.

‘Going to Pieces’ is based on Adam Rockoff’s book (which restricted itself to covering the years 1974-1986) and goes through the central elements of the genre with interjections from individuals who have contributed landmark productions to it (Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Sean Cunningham, even Amy Holden Jones!) and clips from a large cross-section of films. The only possible flaw is that it focuses much of its time on the well-known franchises. Even through tribute is paid to the likes of ‘Happy Birthday to Me’, ‘Graduation Day’, ‘The Burning’ and the ultra-trashy ‘Pieces’, where is ‘Hell Night’? More importantly, where is the original ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’? While this is a minor point, it’s more than compensated for with some previously banned footage, most notably the pitchfork-shower scene from ‘The Prowler’, which was heavily scissored by the BBFC.


Time is taken to attempt to defend the genre somewhat, by drawing analogies between ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and other properties and making a case for (most of) these films really being more than simplistic body count gorefests; slasher movies can be cathartic. Genre-haters Ebert and Siskel appear in their famous rant about sleazy horror, which centered around misogyny and the lack of art – I wonder what they’d make of this?

Definitely worth a look for those curious about the genre; even my anti-horror friend was slightly humbled that there could be intellectual thought surrounding these films!

REVIEW: I KNOW THAT VOICE

CAST

John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Pamela Adlon (Some Girl)
Charlie Adler (Wall-E)
Carlos Alazraqui (Free Birds)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Ed Asner (Batman: TAS)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Eric Bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
Jeff Bennett (The Return of Jafar)
Bob Bergen (Up)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Jim Cummings (Aladdin)
Grey DeLisle (Ultimate Avengers)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylkon 5)
June Foray (Cinderella)
Pat Fraley (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Nika Futterman (Hey Arnold)
Seth Green (Family Green)
Matt Groening (The Simpsons)
Jennifer Hale (Spider-Man Unlimited)
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Jess Harnell (Transformers)
David Herman (Futurama)
Richard Steven Horvitz (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Danny Jacobs (Ultimate Spide-Man)
Tom Kane (Star wars: The Clone Wars)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-Man)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Phill LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Janet Waldo (The Jetsons)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Mona Marshall (Fraggle Rock)
Breckin Meyer (Garfield)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Colleen Villard (Static Shock)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Rob Paulsen (The Mask: TAS)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Marion Ross (Happy Days)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Cree Summer (Bambi II)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Alanna Ubach (Legally Blonde)
Kari Wahlgren (Ben 10)
Jim Ward (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Billy West (Futurama)

maxresdefaultI Know That Voice (2013) takes a gander at a subject that many of us never give much credence to.  This film takes a personal look at what it means to be an actor who is never actually seen on screen. I speak of the voice over artists who use their gift of gab to create and bring to life some of the most iconic characters in the world of entertainment. Produced by John DiMaggio (the alcohol fueled robot Bender from the popular series Futurama), this film feels like a labor of love and what unfolds is wonderful.Kevin_ConroyThe movie explains the history of voice artists from the beginning of talkies until present day, peppering in a slew of interviews from some of the most popular talent out there. Weaving a tale of both the struggles and the love of the business, I Know That Voice keeps you interested from start to finish as the actors known for being silly animated characters, show you a side of the process which makes the viewer appreciate what was once looked at as child’s fair. Throughout, you meet everyone from Sponge Bob to Roger Rabbit. And these are truly actors, damn fine ones at that.I-Know-That-Voice

REVIEW: STAN LEE’S MUTANTS, MONSTERS & MARVELS

Stan Lee’s Mutants, Monsters, and Marvels is a feature-length collection of two discussions between comics’ best-known figure and filmmaker Kevin Smith.spiderwoman01“Creating Spider-Man” runs a hair over forty minutes. As the title suggests, Stan talks about the origins of one of the most loved superheroes of all time and his considerable involvement with the series. Stan touches on some of the webhead’s supporting cast and rogue gallery, noting that irascible editor J. Jonah Jameson was modeled after him and that he wasn’t fully aware of the plans to kill off Gwen Stacey in one of the series’ most unforgettable moments. With the silver screen incarnation of Spider-Man shattering box office records and racking up hundreds of millions of dollars, discussion of Spidey’s exploits in other mediums is a natural topic. Stan also takes Kevin through a brief tour of his home.spiderwoman01The second feature, “Here Comes The Heroes”, takes a detailed look at Stan’s career from the beginning and the evolution of Marvel from the humble beginnings of two-man operation Timely Comics. Stan talks about a number of his creations, including the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and the X-Men, along with the science fiction elements that inspired them. Kevin also prompts discussion on what sets Marvel apart from other companies, particularly their realistic approach to fantasy and the unique collaborative process dubbed the Marvel Method. Among numerous other topics, Stan also discusses his understandably short reign as Marvel’s president and his interaction with fans.614401-timelyKevin Smith is a natural choice for the host, as he is not only a fan of the medium, but the writer of quite a number of comics himself. Kevin had also directed Stan Lee in Mallrats, his sophomore effort as a filmmaker.  The discussion is very Marvel-centric, and aside from DC’s “Just Imagine” series, Stan’s work outside the company goes unmentioned.xmen01Anyone who enjoys marvel comics both movies and comics will enjoy this, it’s fun disc with some great insights.

 

 

REVIEW: THE WOLFPACK

Locked away in an apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for fourteen years, the Angulo family’s seven children—six brothers named Mukunda, Narayana, Govinda, Bhagavan, Krisna (Glenn), and Jagadesh (Eddie), and their sister Visnu—learned about the world through watching films. They also re-enact scenes from their favorite movies. They were homeschooled by their mother and confined to their sixteenth story four-bedroom apartment in the Seward Park Extension housing project. Their father, Oscar, had the only door key and prohibited the kids and their mother Susanne from leaving the apartment except for a few strictly-monitored trips on the “nefarious” streets.Everything changed for them when 15-year-old Mukunda decided to walk around the neighborhood in January 2010, against their father’s instruction to remain inside. All the brothers then decided to begin exploring Manhattan and the world outside.Director Crystal Moselle definitely stumbled upon one hell of a story. To see these young men’s faces light up when they finally head out of their apartment and face what they have been told to be scared of was truly satisfying and redeeming. ‘The Wolfpack’ is a genuine and charming experience.

REVIEW: BATMANIA: FROM COMIC TO SCREEN

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A nice pleasant but disturbingly short documentary on the Batman tales from comic strips to the big screen. Although well intended and well needed, it focuses too much on the Batman of the 60’s and fails to acknowledge his development up until the time of 1989.

It also briefly discusses the Batmania of its day. Since this was made in 1989, it could have dealt more with Tim Burton’s Batman and more with the controversy surrounding it. Perhaps it had been made just a few months later, we could have gotten that. Nevertheless, if you can get your hands on a copy, it’s worth watching. I work at a video store and saw it sitting around one day and took it home and watched it. A rare find.

REVIEW: BRIGHT LIGHTS: STARRING CARRIE FISHER AND DEBBIE REYNOLDS

CAST

Carrie FIsher (Star Wars)
Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ in The Rain)
Todd Fisher (These Old Broads)
Catherine Hickland (Loving)
Griffin Dunne  (After Hours)
Billie Lourd (Scream Queens)

When Carrie Fisher passed away unexpectedly late last year, at that time knowing nothing about the health of her mother, Debbie Reynolds, only her age – 84 – I thought to myself, this kind of a shock could do a person in at that age. And the next day it did. This documentary shows these two as much more than just mother and daughter, but fast friends. It is a great tribute to both ladies. It talks a little bit about Debbie’s past problems – being abandoned by her husband with two small children, then marrying a guy she thought would bring her family some stability and security, but it didn’t – he in fact bankrupted them with his compulsive gambling. And she faced all of this with dignity and was a fighter.ranking-the-spider-man-animated-series_cgbjDebbie doesn’t do that much talking for or about herself. In fact through most of the documentary it is mentioned how she is feeling just awful, but you’d never guess it. She is always dressed to the nines and smiling – something Carrie said she learned as a recruit in the old studio system at MGM. And then, feeling awful, Debbie books a Las Vegas show and brings her children into the act because she simply can’t do the whole show. She just couldn’t retire outright because she loved entertaining and loved the audiences. Carrie does most of the talking. Like mom, she is a fighter, and also has quite a sense of humor. She fought her way back from a childhood in which she was abandoned by her dad, Eddie Fisher, in every way possible. It’s like he just left them behind like they were part of a past life – until Carrie had some success and he came back asking for money. She fought her way back from drug addiction and her failed marriage to Paul Simon, who was much older than she, and during the documentary she is quite open about her battle with her weight as she tries to get the pounds off with the help of a trainer in preparation for the Star Wars film, “Episode 7”. The trainer keeps trying to take her sodas away from her – which she keeps replenishing.fe109-spiderman-animatedCarrie has a visit from old childhood chum Griffin Dunne, and they easily talk about their youth. After all of the awful stuff you have just learned about her dad, Eddie Fisher, and his parental negligence, Carrie goes to visit him, and he does look like death warmed over at this point, and Carrie tells him that she loves him and she seems to really mean it. It is revealed during the documentary that Eddie Fisher was a drug addict too, and I think having that common experience with her dad has made it easier for her to forgive him. What a classy lady. Eddie Fisher passed away in 2010, so obviously this part of the documentary was shot much earlier.Todd, Carrie’s younger brother, is in the documentary too, but he doesn’t have much to say. The documentary is not in “this is your life” style. It is more just following Debbie and Carrie around and showing the deep relationship and love they had for one another.