Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PEEPHOLE INTERVIEW: James Bickert - Dear God No!

Jimmy Bickert, the twisted mind behind the crazy drive-in homage Dear God No!  talks bikers, drive-in love, shooting film stock, bigfoot, and boobies.  This should be good!

BAD RONALD: First off, this film looks like it'll be friggin' balls out.  So many films and filmmakers want to make these kinds of films, but they end up being metered and overly directed.  To me, the beauty of these kinds of films are their imperfections... meaning that the filmmakers aren't trying to adjust the mold by tweaking what they've seen in other films, and expecting their work to rise above.  I like the films where you can see the filmmaker taking risks -- real risks.  Where did this idea spring from?

JAMES BICKERT:  Hey, thank you very much. DGN! is balls out. It could also be classified as an action film. [laughing] I’m addicted to the drive-in and growing up in the south you would often catch some pretty interesting regional exploitation curiosities. Most of the biker films we saw were California based and I wanted to create something with a Georgia flavor that was more antagonists driven than anti-hero. When I was young the Pagans and Outlaws were terrorizing the Southeast and they didn’t look like Peter Fonda or Adam Roarke! As a snot nosed kid, this fascinated me.

Bigfoot has always been a staple of ozoners so it seemed a perfect match. The characters and their dialog all represent a larger theme working throughout the film but that element is purposely overshadowed by the insanity of the action, sex and violence. I made a conscious effort to shy away from any crazy post 70’s style camera setups. There are some experimental shots but they are more in the realm of 60’s LSD and Biker cinema.
I need to make a movie, goddamit
Why shoot film?  And was it a difficult route to take, budget wise or otherwise?

Since we were making a lost drive-in film and not a 42nd street homage, I didn’t see any way digital would look correct for the period. It was important to me that the final film looked remastered instead of put through a blender. Luckily producer Nick Morgan agreed with me and worked some good deals with Fuji. I can’t say enough great things about their Vivid film stock. Shooting film isn’t a time constraint when you have Jonathan Hilton (cinematographer) and Dave Osborne (gaffer) but it does eat a budget. The only way to compensate is to preplan shots and hope everyone remembers their lines. (laughing) RED cameras are great but there is a different feeling of satisfaction that film brings. The look is more natural and almost becomes a character itself. Especially when you have as much female nudity as Dear God No! I‘m now dying to shoot exploitation in 35mm.

Who are the filmmakers you look to for inspiration -- not just in genre, but in all aspects of storytelling and film technique?

Roger and Gene Corman are the biggest influences. If they produced a movie in the 70’s, I had to see it. If it meant watching it without sound through a drive-in fence so be it. They delivered thrills and I had to have it. Executive Producing a film is such a complex time consuming process and the sheer number of productions they had going at a time is jaw dropping. There are so many influences when it comes to technique and storytelling. Monte Hellman, Larry Cohen, William Girdler, Luis Bunuel, Jack Hill, Terence Fisher, Don Siegel, Seijun Suzuki, Leon Kilmovsky, Jean Rollin, John Carpenter and Russ Meyer. This could take years to assemble. Can we narrow it down to a sub genre like Indonesian flying head movies? [laughing]

You know how it is. As a complete film geek, you get immersed in one aspect of genre film for awhile. I got so obsessed with seeing every film that Filipino actor Vic Diaz was in that I got him tattooed on my leg! How sick is that? There probably isn’t a single person in the Philippines with a Vic Diaz tattoo but this goofball is walking around Atlanta with one.
Are You There God? It's Me Ms. 45
What is this twisted tale about?

Foremost it’s an Outlaw biker film but it’s also about a socially awkward young girl trying to find herself and flee her oppressive father. She just happens to be stuck in one seriously fucked up sexploitation/action/horror film. We follow her life and the outlaw bikers until they collide. The underlying theme running through the film is pretty complex and personal. That’s about all I can say without giving too much away. Not to worry though, it’s no Twilight or Judy Blume tale. ([aughing] It’s carnage from the first frame.  
The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
The Tricky Dick masks... it's like a thing now, from Point Break to Sugar & Spice and Aqua Teen Hunger Force to iCarly.  It's a grand cinema and television tradition.  But NEVER with nekkid chicks and guns!!  What the fuck inspired this bit of pure cinema delights?!

I was drinking beer watching a movie on my backyard drive-in screen called “Three Way Weekend” one night. It had a Forrest Ranger pervert wearing Nixon and Gorilla masks peeping on some young topless ladies. At the time I was trying to think of a way to get some models I know topless in my film without showing their faces. I didn’t want to damage their career but they were the only women I knew without modern tattoos. Then it hit me to make the strip club owner a huge Nixon fan who forced his strippers to wear masks. FX artist Shane Morton also came up with some crazy Mexican monster masks we used as well. The girls had never stripped before so I gave them copies of Orgy of the Dead, Mondo Topless, Cassandra Peterson’s strip tease from Working Girls and some old Something Weird Video go-go loops. It was important to stay away from modern booty shaking and grinding. Still they were not strippers so their nerves were pretty high. After a few shots of whiskey they were fine and some of the masks even came off. They did a fantastic job of catching that era.
Loaded and ready and loaded
Outside the nekkid Nixon grrls, what other surprises are audiences in for?

There’s incestual lesbian rape! (laughing) We have that going for us. I think the biggest surprise for viewers will be how fast paced it is and how many layers there are to the dialog. I always liked that in Russ Meyer and Jack Hill’s scripts. Every 2-5 minutes I also include what I call a “Dear God No!” moment. Something that just has the audience offended, laughing or shaking their head. I try to steer clear of sophomoric humor opting more for subtle gallows humor. Everything is played straight but many scenes contain something pretty over the top. Hopefully audiences will respond well, this is the kind of drive-in movie I’ve always wanted to see. The first half is action/ sexploitation and the second half is horror. You get it all.

What are the plans for Dear God No! -- theatrical releases, DVD/Blu-ray?  Festivals, no doubt.  Any landed yet?

We’ve been accepted to Pollygrind 2011 in Vegas based on the trailer alone so that’s refreshing. I’m working up a screening locally at the oldest Independent theatre in Atlanta called The Plaza and obviously the Starlight Six Drive-In!

Screening in Austin, TX and Toronto is my current goal. We have a few more weeks of post sound mixing. I would love to find a distributor who wanted to invest in a print so I could tour movie houses and better yet, drive-ins! I’m sure it will hit iTunes, Blu-ray, Pay per View, etc. within the year. We’ll keep everyone up to date on our Facebook page and website.

And what's next on your to-do list?

Ultimately it’s to shoot on 35mm and go from a 7 day film shoot to a 20 day. Maybe even add a few crew members. (laughing) I have several 70’s horror hybrid drive-in scripts written. Hopefully the interest in Dear God No! will be high enough to get them into production. I’m dying to get the crew back to the 70’s where we belong.

Any inside scoop that genre fans would like to know, please dish.

I did take two actresses to a very dark place. They seemed really shook up after we wrapped. You never know what kind of past trauma might rear it’s head on set. I’m very easy on actors but something in the script was a trigger once it was performed. It did go too far and that scene has been trimmed down. If Chas. Balun were alive, he would still give us an 8 on the Gore Score. Everyone seems to be doing much better now and the wrap party was legendary. The Dear God No! trailer is playing at The Plaza Theater in Atlanta on June 10th before Hobo With a Shotgun.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dear God No! Dear God... Yeah!!

Sleazy Rider
I'm sick of watching all the youtube tributes to Grindhouse movies/trailers made by snot nosed brats with the digital HD cameras their momma bought them, and edited on the Jr. High media lab laptops with fancy ass "old film" filters.  When did this shit get so easy?!  Get the emo hair blob outa your ears, kids, and listen up.  Grindhouse is not a genre.  It's a way of life.  It's cheap.  It's fast.  It's wicked. 

Now, this is Grindhouse!!  Shot on 16mm.  Looking like warm shit rolled over it, and then shit on it. Bad acting.  Nekkid chicks with Nixon masks.  Dope fiends.  Drawn on Frankenstein stitches.  Bikers.  And Bigfoot!!  Dear God... Yeah!!  Dear God No! looks like a complete dream come true for genre flicks. 
Tricky Dickies
All too often you get all this prefab buzz going around on a particular movie.  For me, that usually means I'm in a for a major disappointment (Hatchet anyone?).  There's usually promise of a new form of terror coming, or this film will change everything.  But, with Dear God they're promising bikers, boobies and blood.  Hell, the trailer alone fulfills that promise already.

I don't know what to do with my life if I can't see this movie!  
 Holy red band trailer!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: Killer's Moon (1978)

Redemption! Redemption Films has been pretty quiet for awhile, as they reorganized.  But now they're back to releasing some of the strangest, most bizarre little artifacts from horror film past. 
coolest poster ever
 To keep up with the movie-going crowd, as they moved from the 60s to the 70s, British film producers recognized that the audience was growing younger.  Teens and twentysomethings were looking to identify with the people on the screen, so the movie world reacted, skewing their popular brands towards the kids. Horror films were growing increasingly popular, and were easier to adapt to the young generation than, say, the comedies (which still had a strong hold with adult viewers). The results of this major switch seemed to have shaken up the status quo.  The grown ups in the press were not always so kind in their reviews, and the British Board of Film... well, they were stunned, and reacted harshly (they would later form the list of "video nasties," videotapes of films deemed unfit for regular consumption).

Producer/Director Alan Birkinshaw wanted to ride this so-called "New Wave" of British Horror, after having grown restless in the television industry.  Hammer Horror, with the help of a new set of producers, had broken the mold of using mature and established named actors, and started gearing their films towards the younger generation with films like Vampire Circus. Birkinshaw wanted in on that crowd.  The result: Killer's Moon.  A movie so notorious it was once said, by the British press, to be "the most tasteless movie in the history of the British Cinema."  Now, if that's not a proper invitation, I don't know what is! 
Oh, the games girls play

What makes Killer's Moon stand out so much is not the reputation it got from the censors, but killer script. On the surface, this bloody thriller sounds like any other of a long list of horror scenarios: a bus load of nubile schoolgirls are stranded after their coach breaks down, finding refuge in a remote hotel, where they are stalked by a trio of escaped inmates, all tweaked on experimental drugs (read LSD).  However, Birkinshaw enlisted the assistance of his sister, the noted feminist writer Fay Weldon, to turn this standard issue horror flick into a smart, subtle satire.  Together Birkinshaw and Weldon weaved together elements of A Clockwork Orange with bits from the popular sex comedies of the day, to take a visceral punch at some of the social hypocrisy and outdated morays of the day.

Of course, like any good horror movie, these bits of satire are well groomed nuances peppered throughout a tightly wound, and brutal thriller.  The "droog" like thugs are vicious as they are properly British, doling out sadistic punishment just as easily as they can.  The mayhem is bloody, the girls are sexy, and the dialogue from Weldon is killer. 
Goodness!  This will just ruin my social standing!
 In an interview, Weldon (who was uncredited in the movie) had this to say about her Killer's Moon script work:  "In the original script, the girls were ciphers. I gave them characters, which had the unfortunate effect of turning the film into a cult movie. I should have left it as it was."  Oh, how wrong she is!  It's true -- her dialogue catapults this movie from being just another horror flick, but that's good fortune, not bad.  Not sure why she's bitter -- maybe it's because she later wrote the Rosanne Barr disaster She Devil. 
Now, where did I leave my wife?
 A taste of some of the fantastic dialogue:

  • After an assault, one girl consoles the victim, "Look, you were only raped, as long as you don't tell anyone about it you'll be alright. You pretend it never happened, I'll pretend I never saw it and if we get out of this alive, well, maybe we'll both live to be wives and mothers" 
  • The police chief retorts, after hearing about the effects of the drugs on the lunatics, "You mean this criminal lunatic is walking around believing he is in a dream? In my dreams, I murder freely, pillage, loot and rape!"
  • "Mr. Jones: Mr psychiatrist, are you there?
    Pete: Go to hell you bastard you're mad!
    Mr. Jones: What sort of reply is that from a National Health psychiatrist? I should have gone private."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Win a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack of Hammer's Vampire Circus!!

Be the First Kid On Your Block to Own A Vampire Circus!!

Who doesn't like a circus?  And who the hell doesn't like vampires!?  Most of all -- who doesn't like to win free movies!!?
And by vampires, I'm not talking about the pasty white Debbie-downers from Twilight.  Yeesh!  Or the angsty, oh-so-fit hot bodies from Vampire Diaries.  Well... um, yumm!!  I'm talking about vampires that would chew a hole in your throat, rather than chew your ear off with boring chatter about their feelings and bummer stuff like that.  "Oo, but that werewolve's abs are soooo like rippled, and the undead guy's hair is to die for.  Who do I choose?"  "I don't know... If I'm gonna live forever, how am I gonna like update my wardrobe all the time?"  "Oh my gawd -- did you just like kill my best friend?  That's so sweeeet."
If I don't win a Kid's Choice Award, I'll just go crazy!!
 No, I'm talking about the creepy, sexy, mod Hammer Horror kind.  The kind that have no problem snatching your kid brother up and taking him to the dark side.  The kind that don't play nice.  The kind that don't have feelings, let alone a heart!!

Vampire Circus is the classic Hammer vampire picture that changed everything.  Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing were icons at Hammer Studios, but the 70s needed a new twist on the vampire lore.  Vampire Circus introduced a new, young generation to a young, hipper blood-sucker.
Bella. when you're done with those wimps over there in Lalaland, call me
How To Win Your Copy!!

 So... blah blah blah .. Enough of the filler.  Here's how to win your very own Blu-ray/DVD combo of Vampire Circus!!  Simply become a follower of the Bad Ronald blog. It's easy and fun!  Just click on the "follow" button over on the sidebar to the right. Then drop a comment in on this post, lettin' me know you wanna win the movie.  If'n you're already a follower, then good for you -- you're half way there!  Just drop a comment.  Now, if you're not the joinin' kind, and are a little leery of  the cult like mentality of followers... well, then you're gonna have to work harder to win.  Bad Ronald will have to move into your place and live in your walls for a week, and you'll have to let me know just what he'll see, watching through the walls!!  Mwwwooohahahahahahhaaa!   Just click on "follow" and join the fun.  It's soo much easier.

Deadline for entry is Sunday, May 29, 2011
Send in a reenactment this stunning little dance sequence and you'll win INSTANTLY!!  No kiddin'

And now the disclaimer:  The Blu-ray/DVD combo Pack of Vampire Circus is provided by the very cool and ultra mod folks at Synapse Films.  The discs are not the retail discs, but early prints for press screenings.  Never fear, though!   Each disc has ALL the goodies on it that you'd get from the retail discs, except there's no fancy image on the disc itself and the packaging is complete.  Winner of the contest will be chosen by a random drawing.  There now... that wasn't so bad.  Was it?

Now, go "follow" my blog and win!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms

I first met Shade Rupe while I was covering the New York City Horror Film Fest back in 2004.  I had always fancied myself fairly well versed in film trivia -- especially horror film trivia.  However, the day I met Shade, I realized I was just a mere humbled horror-fan wannabe.

I was hunkering down for the 20 or so block stroll from the screening rooms in Tribeca up to the Christopher St. PATH train station to Jersey City.  Shade was heading to his nice warm car, parked about ten blocks away (because, in NYC, you never get to park nearby your destination), and he offered my a lift home.  In that 10-block walk, and the 15-minute car ride to Jersey, we talked about everything from subversive filmmakers, like Kern and Zedd, to creepy made-for-TV movies featuring big-screen throwbacks and man-eating Zuni fetish dolls.[

Following the festival, we had several conversations over the phone, when he'd call, looking to plug a DVD for review.  The plug would turn into a conversation about other genre flicks, or filmmakers, or personalities, and it wasn't long before I recognized that I was outmatched in the knowledge of my favorite genre.  We'd start to talking about a movie, or a particular star, and before I knew it, I had spilled my piggy bank's worth of trivia, but Shade had only begun.  He was an unbelievable wealth of trivial knowledge. He's like those guys from Beat the Geeks AND Jeopardy! all wrapped up into one Frankenstein’s monster–like mashup.

It came as no surprise that Shade had been writing about film, and promoting genre films, for years.  Not only that, but he'd interviewed numerous stars and filmmakers from mainstream Movieland to the obscure names from the world of obscure cinema.  He's like the Barbara Walters of cool interviews.  Yeah, I know -- that was an easy gag.  He's actually more like a Dick Cavett -- more intellectual, and very much more interested in his subjects.  His articles have appeared in numerous publications, and now Shade has put together a collection of his favorite interviews into a book -- Dark Stars Rising: Conversation from the Outer Realms.

Dark Stars Rising is an incredible look into the minds of some of the most interesting creative minds that hang out near the fringes of the film and visual arts worlds.  There are conversations with cult superstars -- like Divine, Udo Kier, Tura Satana, and Crispin Glover -- as well as cult filmmakers  --like William Lustig, Chas. Balun, and Jodorowsky. Shade also digs into the minds of personalities from the more fringe arts, like Richard Kern, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and Jim Vanbebber.  There are also some unexpected treats from characters like Brother Theodore -- well, unexpected, at least for me, since I thought I was the only person who knew who the hell Brother Theodore was!!

Shade is a true fan of his subjects, but these interviews aren't a catalog of star-struck fluff pieces.  There's no ego stroking, or Entertainment Tonight kissy faces going on.  These aren't junket pieces.  They're real conversations (unedited, pretty much) which are genuine, sometimes hilarious, often thought-provoking, sometimes shocking, usually subversive, and always insightful. All the subjects are artists in every sense of the word.  They struggle for and through their work.  They're mostly unrecognized in the mainstream.  And they all have the balls to speak the truth... as they see it. 

The pieces I found most provoking, were the ones which explored subversive or taboo-busting subjects, and how society treats these issues with great hypocrisy.  Writers and artists, like Peter Sotos and Dennis Cooper, discuss how America embraces violence, and sex, in our mainstream entertainment, but then chastises those who portray these subjects in a more honest fashion.

Shade Rupe has a knack for making his subjects feel comfortable enough to talk about just about anything.  Not in a sensationalistic way, but rather as individuals trying to learn from each other. 

Dark Stars Rising is an insanely fun read.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: The Violent Kind (2010)

Sometimes They Come Back... and really ruin the party.

Greasers aren't really good fodder for horror.  Unless you're Stephen King, you might as well leave 'em be -- especially if they start boppin' around like they're at the Prom in the Rydell High gymnasium.  At least King had first hand knowledge of the greased-back hair punks of the 50s.  The Butcher Brothers only have Grease to crib from.

The Violent Kind showed promise at the start.  I'm not talking about the violent love making scene (fully clothed -- for Pete's sake!!) -- seen it before! -- but the scenario that follows, when the notorious biker gang generously help the victims of their recent fist bashing back into their truck and make sure they get back on the road, safely home.  Druggie bikers with a heart -- awwww.  It was kind of a genuine touch.  But, then it got a little too movie-of-the-week with all the in-fighting over honor and friendship (I'm thinking these boys just needed to own up to some undivulged tensions).
Does this movie make us look too mean?

And then -- the Greasers show up!!  What in the name of Arthur Fonzerelli is going on here?!  We're at Roadhouse, hanging with the thugs and their ladies, and then some weird wiggly camera effects start happening, and then some flashes of some old newspaper clippings (how obnoxiously cliche!!!), and then -- poof!  The Wanderers show up to crash the party.  Only they've been reimagined by some Cosplay fan at a Rockabilly show.

I'm not sure why Sundance was so smitten by this picture.  My guess is that it was so all over the place -- part Stephen King/part Roadhouse/part They Live/part Grease -- that they didn't wanna admit they didn't know what the hell was going on.  This flick was just plain bad.  The dialogue is pure expository, the acting is misguided, and the story is just plain nuts.  However, it's such the spectacle that you can't miss out on it.
Now... where did I leave my girlfriend?

Oh... and Tiffany Shepis.  Nude.

Friday, May 6, 2011

PEEPHOLEREVIEW: The Real Cannibal Holocaust (1976)

The Cannibal Film That Has Little Meat on the Bone

[First off, this is NOT a film by Italian schlocker Bruno Mattei.  I know there are a couple dozen blogs -- and Amazon -- that are using the cover of this newly released DVD with their review of another Mattei cannibal flick.  But... it ain't Bruno.]

This title reminds me of those ads for household products that are somehow bigger and better, or new and improved.  "Tired of the same ol' restless native cannibals?  Tired of the humdrum limb-ripping tribal dances?  Well, you're in luck.  The Real Cannibal Holocaust has 70% more terror than the leading cannibal movie.  Try it!!  You won't believe the taste."

Well... you know what they say about truth in advertising.  Fact is, TRCH doesn't have much in the way of any kinda holocaust, or really any cannibals.  Sure they have some tribes from Papua New Guinea whose ancestors were cannibal -- but cannibalism?  No... not really.  The opening sequence would have you believe that a tribal mom is peeling off the crusty flesh of her dead husband, while breast feeding their darling baby.  But the keen-eyed horror fan would see it for the primitive and cheap FX gag that it is.  So, there's your moment of (faux) flesh-eating.  After that... nada.

What TRCH turns out to be is another lost member of the Mondo movie craze of the 70s -- one of those shockumentaries depicting the unseen cultures and bizarre traditions of far away places.  The story goes "In 1975, Papua New Guinea obtained its long desired independence from the British Empire. A movie crew traveled to the island in order to shoot a film that would allow the Queen to better understand the laws and traditions of the natives."  In other words, it's a real down and dirty version of National Geographic.

As I'm watching this, I'm thinking that horror fans who've bought into the DVD packaging -- with promises of "unbearable snuff extremes...over-the-top violence...corpse eating... and mindless brutality" -- are really gonna be disappointed.  The opener, with the old school flesh eating FX, will get the usual insiders laughter, but what about the rest?  No mindless brutality.  No snuff extremes.  For the fanbase so spoiled with ear shattering sound cues and vibrating ghosties and gallons of blood, TRCH's "over the top" promise is unfulfilled.  

But!!  With that said, I wonder how many of the modern horror fans would be able to stomach the insanely bizarre death ceremonies depicted here.  I, for one, have been witness to the most hardcore of hardcore horror flicks, and I've seen my share of grotesque imagery. These images of the village women tending to the bodies of their dead males was... well, stomach churning.  You'll have to see if for yourself, and let me know if it didn't make you throw up just a little in your Doritos.