Skip to main content

Posts

Dreams That Money Can Buy -- A Last Gasp Of Surrealist Filmmaking

Released in 1947 by artist and film director Hans Richter, Dreams that Money can Buy is actually a collaboration between surrealist and Dada artists, most of whom directed a portion of the film via the many dream sequences. Max Ernst, Fernand L├ęger, Man Ray, and Alexander Calder all wrote and directed their portions of the film, while Marcel Duchamp wrote his with Richter directing. That’s a lot of chefs in the kitchen, but since these are dream sequences which mostly stand on their own, one vision doesn’t get in the way of another.

And there’s a story! Sort of. The frame sees Joe (Jack Bittner) discovering that by staring into the reflection of his eyes in a mirror, his dreams are projected on the pupil. Joe, being an unemployed hipster-type sees this as a way to finally make a stable income for himself. So he opens up shop, staring into people’s eyes and selling them their own dreams back to them. For most of the film, we’re watching people dream along with Joe.

A fine enough s…
Recent posts

Salvation, USA: A Not-Thrilling Thriller

Written by Bernie Van De Yacht and directed by Yacht and Brett Donowho, Salvation, USA is a thriller, sort of. It reminded me a lot of a Lifetime movie with a little sex and swearing. Until the finale, which gets all sorts of batshit violent and bloody. Ah, but advertising, eh? If you watch this movie after having seen the poster, you’ll end up wondering when the hell you’re going to see some violence, as violence is most clearly implied by the thing. And if you haven’t seen the poster, you’ll watch Salvation, USA and suddenly get weirded out when a pretty basic drama gets really freakin’ bloody by the end.

The movie concerns Vinnie (Ryan Donowho), a guy who seems passionate about fixing old stoves, restoring them to their former pristine states. But it’s all a ruse. Fixing the stoves is his launchpad for a long con. Donowho is a very charming actor, and so it’s not hard for the audience to be pretty damn hypnotized by his performance. We want to believe there’s good inside the guy. …

G Rated Horror: The Legend of Boggy Creek

The Legend of Boggy Creek was written by Earl E. Smith, but the whole thing represents the vision of director Charles B. Pierce. The story was pieced together from the tales of local residents from Fouke, Arkansas, some of whom appeared in Boggy Creek as themselves. The so-called Fouke Monster, basically a sasquatch, was a folk legend that residents claimed was real. Reports began to surface in newspaper articles around Arkansas in the early 70’s and they seized Smith’s imagination. He knew he had found the subject of his first feature film.

Pierce is an interesting character. A self-motivated guy with a ton of ambition, he worked as a weatherman and a children’s show host named Mayor Chuckles before starting his own advertising firm. He made commercials for all sorts of companies throughout Arkansas. The owner of a trucking company client loaned Pierce $100,000 to get started on shooting Boggy Creek. The film was an almost instant success in cheap movie theaters and drive-ins and it…

Holy Terror: Terribly Mundane

Holy Terror, a horror flick released on digital platforms like Amazon Video this month, proves that it’s pretty damn hard to write and direct an original exorcism movie. Not only is this film’s story muddled, but every idea is recycled from another, better movie.
The first two minutes or so are actually quite interesting. Cool visuals, with everything a pea-green or vibrant black color. A priest named Jacob (Scott Butler), a nun (Kristine DeBell), and another priest are performing an exorcism on some poor young girl when it goes wrong and she croaks. Jacob is so flustered by the experience that he questions his faith and leaves the church. Cool story, but it’s time to forget about Jacob for about thirty minutes while we get to know a not-at-all pleasant couple, Molly (Kelly Lynn Reiter) and Tom (Jesse Hlubik), who’ve just lost their kid partially because of Molly’s neglect. Weird stuff is going on at their house and, who knows, maybe their dead kid is coming back in the form of a ghost…

Don't Look in the Basement (There's a Plot Point Hiding)

The 1973 low budget grindhouse horror flick Don’t Look in the Basement is a prime example of movie logic concerning insane people. You take a character’s quirky defining trait, turn it up to eleven and viola, insanity! So here we have a soldier who thinks he’s still in Vietnam, a judge who only speaks in legal jargon and a nympho who only...well...you can see where this is going.

The insane are housed (literally, this is a farmhouse out in the county) alongside the doctors and nurses in an experimental treatment facility. There’s no locks on the doors and the staff refer to the patients as family. Not the best idea. Doctor R.D. Laing actually tried this in the 70’s in London and the patients ran amok and destroyed the buildings he’d rented. I have no idea whether director S.F. Brownrigg had ever heard of Laing, but I doubt it. He was a humble Texas exploitation filmmaker. The concept is used more as a way to make the “twist” ending work, although most people will see it coming from a …

Doing the Genre Mash: Silent Retreat

I hadn’t heard of the 2013 horror flick Silent Retreat until a DVD copy came with my Horror Block subscription. I love the surprises you find inside these weird mystery boxes. Silent Retreat was a neat surprise.
A low budget horror film written by Corey Brown and directed by Tricia Lee, it was the first feature film for both creators, and for some of the actors as well. However, Brown and Lee had collaborated on shorts together since the early 2000’s, so they definitely had a good amount of narrative and technical experience going into it. The movie never quite recovers from some script issues, but it’s a fun ride with plenty of talent and heart. It’s just that the first hour and final half hour feel like different movies. The first part is a neat character study about a camp for troubled girls which is actually a front for an organization that brainwashes the teenagers into being subservient housewives, and the second part is a gory creature-feature.
There are some interesting ideas in…

Boy Meets Chrome: Christine

Written by Bill Phillips from a novel by Stephen King and directed by John Carpenter, Christine, released in 1983, is a love story between a boy and his car. This time, however, the car is alive and quite possessive of her boy.

She’s an older lover, too. Christine, a red Plymouth Fury, is a disheveled twenty-one years old when eighteen year old Arnie (Keith Gordon) falls for her. She’s broken down, in a state of disrepair and decay. When his best friend Dennis (Dean Stockwell) drives Arnie home after their first day of school, Arnie sees her sitting in the yard of a house that’s just as dilapidated at the car. Arnie decides he’s going to fix her, make her run again.

This movie is all about sex, love, and obsession and the moral lines that get blurred when these things interact with each other. Christine begins as Arnie and Dennis drive around discussing sex. Dennis, a football player and quite an attractive young man, has clearly had plenty of it, while Arnie is still a virgin. Denni…