Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Desperation Rising

2 of 5 viewers "Liked" "Desperation Rising" (1989, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

The Ascendant - "Jason Holt’s 1989 film, Desperation Rising, is a disjointed cornucopia of ideas. Nevertheless, its crooked-middle finger approach to filmmaking is still vastly entertaining in a large (preferably drunk) group setting (in this case The Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco, California). It’s worth the price of admission for a (Prostitution/Sex Slave) Red Room that only plays second-fiddle to Daisuke Yamanouchi’s (sadistic) 1999 film and a finale that will make you realize why Architectural Drawings/Blueprints exist. Desperation Rising isn’t a masterpiece but it’s a reminder of just how much trashy film there is to discover out there." - 2 Stars

Huntress - "This was a bizarre 90 minutes filled with too many people and too much over-dubbing. Watching it was not necessarily enjoyable but still weird enough to be fun (for a lot of it). Although, I still don't really know what was going on." - 3 Stars

Lord Battle - "Desperation Rising is a sometimes sleepy, always nightmarish micro budget dreamscape of late 80's L.A. Micro budget fans will enjoy the casting of real gang members and their failure to intimidate (and act), the exploding cocaine/round house kicks in the 3rd act, and the breakout performance of Nick Cassavetes. Hey, we all gotta start somewhere." - 2.5 Stars

Math Mage - "A nonsensical "film" that has the ego and bad writing/acting of The Room but none of the charm. It's not as terrible as The Room but it would have been more interesting if it was. The story of a stockbroker who hires a prostitute to reassure himself of his sexual prowess and is captured by crack dealers/slave traders. There are many pointless scenes ("insured municipal bonds") and Nick Cassavetes appears as Vanilla Ice but interacts with no other characters." - 1 Star

Trash - "This movie is a treasure. As a fan of insane things that barely make sense to exist, Desperation Rising deserves a trophy for battling through the harsh garbage fire of real life to be an actual movie that you can watch. It's almost hypnotic, how strange it is, the volume of the dialogue totally inconsistent, crazy lines like "FUCK YOU!" suddenly boom in the forefront then disappear behind the bizarre synth soundtrack. Who are these people?! I'm not even sure! There's a gang-war and some girls being forced into prostitution in a horrible red room! There's a blue hallway! There's a yellow crack-den! And there's a stock broker convention. What the fuck!" - 5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

So DESPERATION RISING is like an experimental video artist decided to make an 80's action movie, but on his way to set he fell down a flight of stairs. Does he have a concussion? Yes. This movie is jam-packed with nightmarish Prostitution rings, too many drugs, phone sex (call 967-HOT), gang wars with real gangsters, and my favorite topic of all, the one that drew me into this movie, finance. That's right, this film teaches you about the grim side of investing, with a moral tale of what happens when you're an investor, and you aren't satisfied with you wife, maybe? I think that's the lesson here!

Son of John Cassavetes and director of THE NOTEBOOK, Nick Cassavetes also has a role in this file. His scenes rule, and are the only time it feels like you're watching a real actor! Because everyone else in this movie is a real life gangster, participating for credit in a rehab program! Damn! 

Image result for desperation rising 1989

Either way, this movie is bonkers and I'm obsessed with it. The soundtrack especially, as the director is an experimental electric jazz musician. 

I've been trying to hunt down director Jason Holt online, with very little success... but my persistence lead me to this website, named after his most recent film TUESDAY NEVER COMES. That's already an incredible title! He's made a handful of movies in California, and they all look pretty fantastic and I have every intention of hunting them down. Anyhow, I have no reason NOT to believe, this is his website, and he participates in some of this music, which is all crazy electronic noise stuff, and completely worth checking out.

And, if you, reading this, are Jason Holt: please let me know. I gotta know what's going on in your crazy brain!


The Overlook Theatre materialized in the New Mission theatre for a screening on 6/15/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Talking Terrifier with Special Effects Mastermind, Damien Leone

A lot of the Overlook creatures seem to have a long relationship with At the Clown and his creator Damien Leone. The pair's first feature length film, All Hallows' Eve, was among the first movie recommendations that Trash had for us, and her discovery that we had heard of, owned, watched, and loved the film kind of validated us in her eyes. During the heyday of print media, she had the opportunity to interview him about his debut feature, now Huntress gets to ask him a couple of questions about his upcoming one, Terrifier.

Huntress: As an indie film maker you wear a lot of hats, including special effects ​artist ​and director. ​W​hat was the first role you had on a film set and what inspired you to expand?

Damien: When I was around 8 years old, I saw this Tom Savini VHS tape called Scream Greats. It was the first time I ever saw how monsters were created. This blew my mind. At 12 years old, my mother took me to a horror convention where I finally bought my first starter makeup kit, bottle of fake blood and a real machete...yes, a real machete! The machete was dulled down and had a semi circle cut out of the blade so that when you pressed it against your body, it looked like it was actually buried in your flesh. This was a classic Tom Savini gag.

As soon as I got home, I began practicing cuts on my friends and sending them home to their parents with gashes under their eyes and blood running down their cheeks. Seeing the parents freak out gave me such a thrill. Next phase, my friend would steal his dad's camcorder and we'd film the fx. After that, we began making short horror films. This eventually led to my love of directing in general. I basically walked around with a camcorder in my hand from then on like the kid in American Beauty.

My first real job on a movie set was as a makeup effects artist on an indie movie called Love in 2005. I took an Aesthetics of Directing class at The New School University after high school and impressed my teacher with a very bloody short film I made for that class. A few years later, the teacher sent me an email asking if I would do makeup on a feature he was about to shoot so I was thrilled. It was a very cool experience. I got to do a lot of bullet hits and bruising on actors.

Unfortunately, no one will hire you to direct unless you've made some incredible short film that's played in Cannes or Sundance. Special effects makeup allowed me to get my foot in the door because it's a very specific skill set. Everyone on a movie set wants to be a director; the sound guy wants to be a director. But back in the early 2000's, there were much fewer special effects artists floating around so my work stood out. Now with the show Face/Off and social media, practical effects are more popular than ever. You can find a very eager and talented makeup artist much easier these days.

Huntress: I read that Terrifier started off as a short film​ that was posted on YouTube,​ ​and lead to the 2013 anthology,​ All Hallows' Eve​. Did the segment start off as a feature length film in your mind which you had to cut down? Or was it the reverse?

Damien: Terrifier was to be my calling card as a director and a showcase for Art the Clown. My hope was that some one would discover it and invest in a feature length version. I posted it on YouTube and it quickly got around 100k views without an advertisement or subscribers. That's pretty rare for a 20 minute short film that no one has ever heard of.

Eventually a producer did stumble upon the short who was developing a Halloween based anthology. He loved the clown and wanted that character to be the focal point of the piece. I asked him if we could just make a fresh, feature length Terrifier but there was no budget for that. The idea was to find shorts that had already been made in order to keep the costs as low as possible. This idea eventually became All Hallows' Eve. I have mixed feelings about that film. On one hand, I'm grateful that it exists because it introduced Art the Clown to a larger audience and some people genuinely love that movie. On the other hand, it's not where I wanted Art the Clown to go. You learn very quickly in this business that you have to make a lot of sacrifices.

Huntress: According to IMDB (which I know is not always the most reliable source), Terrifier is the first of your features where you are not part of the makeup or effects crew, but rather full on writer and director. How different of an experience has it been? 

Damien: There must be a mistake on IMDB because I was still head of the special effects department. My producer Phil Falcone assisted me in creating all of the film's special effects for about three months prior to shooting. Doing effects and directing is definitely not something I'd recommend unless you found yourself in my situation. It really takes a toll on you and both areas wind up suffering a little because you can't fully dedicate your attention to one or the other. Art the Clown alone was required to shoot for approximately 19 days and that makeup takes around 3 hours to apply prior to a 12-14 hour day of shooting. By the end of the day you're absolutely fried and then you're back at it all over again 8 hours later.

Huntress: Aside from radiating complete evil, one of the scariest things about Art the Clown is that he is silent. Why did you decide not to give him a voice? What inspired the slasher?

Damien: There are a couple of reasons why he's silent. You'll notice that Art the Clown is almost the complete opposite of Stephen King's Pennywise. Pennywise is the king of the killer clowns so if you're going to walk onto that field, you better not step on his toes. Pennywise is colorful, wisecracking, red nose, wig, doesn't use weapons, etc. Art the clown is black and white, no red nose, bald, top hat, mute, uses any weapon he can find.

Art's personality is also a combination of my favorite slashers. He's the relentless silent stalker like Michael Myers and Jason but also has a sense of humor like Freddy Krueger. The difference between Art and Freddy is that Art gets his laughs through physical pantomime and Freddy gets his mainly through speech. I also find a mute character much more terrifying because verbal communication is a specifically human trait. If you take that away, you're lessening the characters humanity and making them more of an animal that can't be reasoned with.

Huntress: Did you get any backlash for making a scary clown movie during the whole "clown epidemic" fiasco? 

Damien: Oh, sure. I already see a handful of people commenting that this film is another "clown epidemic" cash grab. If they only knew I invented this character a decade ago and it's taken me this long to bring him from a short film to his first legitimate feature. (Lol) I don't mind the backlash, though. It's actually a blessing that Terrifier came through to fruition at this time because, like you said, clowns are more popular than ever. Just last year I couldn't get Terrifier funded through the distribution company behind All Hallows' Eve because supposedly, "clowns weren't popular enough". Go figure. It's all about timing. 

Huntress: Terrifier has been getting a great response from fans on social media, do you have plans to get a theatrical release?

Damien: I'm very relieved that people are responding so positively to the trailer and the official artwork. We're talking to various distributors at the moment but I honestly can't say if there's going to be a theatrical release or not. All I can say is that when this film played in a packed theater at the Telluride Horror Show, it was like a rock concert. People were cheering, screaming, shrieking and applauding. It's definitely a fun movie to watch with a crowd! Hopefully more people get to see it in a theater.

Huntress: Indie movies tend to shy away from gore and effects, I imagine due to budgetary constraints, but All Hallows' Eve and what I've seen of Terrifier have more practical blood and gore than most big budget movies in the past couple of years. How do you maintain such good quality on an indie level? Do you plan to continue using practical effects on your future films?

Damien: Passion, dedication and suffering. Lol I'm aware going into the film that one of our most valuable assets is going to be practical effects since I'm decent at it and I'll obviously do it for free. If I had to hire a makeup fx team to create the amount of effects we wound up achieving, the cost would've probably been equivalent to film's entire budget.

The goal is to just do the best you can with what you have in the amount of time you have. Time is your worst enemy on a film. There are plenty of effects that didn't come out the way I intended because of time constraints. An effect can take hours to prep and if something goes wrong, it could take another hour to reset. That's one of the main reasons CGI is used so frequently now. You have limited time on set and all the time in the world during post-production to do it digitally.

Huntress: Your name came up as a producer of All Hallows' Eve 2, although it wasn't related to the original. What was your involvement in that movie?

Damien: For All Hallows' Eve 2, I actually had no involvement other than creating the pumpkin killer's mask. I was given a producer credit simply because of my involvement with the first one.

Huntress: What do you imagine Art's origin story is? Is he human or just dressed up as one?

Damien: I finally know exactly what Art the Clown is. It's taken me years to come up with a worthy backstory that hopefully won't diminish anything people like about him. Unfortunately, you will have to wait to find out what it is. 😏


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bluray Tuesday: Featuring Life, The Lawnmower Man & Island of Terror

June 20th 2017

Bluray Tuesday creeps up once again! This is one of the lighter weeks, so we won't be able to add much to our collections this time. Biggest release is sci-fi horror film Life. I missed this in theaters and it looks like a good watch, especially with all the big actors attached to it. Scream Factory this week releases The Lawnmower Man as part of their collector's edition line. The Lawnmower Man has new cover art, 2k scan and bonus features. The second release from Scream Factory is 60's cult film Island of Terror on bluray for the first time. Dario Argento's 70's film The Bird With the Crystal Plumage hits shelves today with a cool limited edition packaging from Arrow Video. Another 60's classic hits bluray today as well titled Ten Little Indians, which is one of the many Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None adaptions. So what will you be buying, renting or skipping this week? Let us know in the comments. Also don't forget to follow our Instagram page here. We are having a great giveaway on our page for a signed Bluray copy of The Unquenchable Thirst For Beau Nerjoose. All you have to do is like, follow and repost it! And don't forget to tag us with #ballfredosauce. So good luck and until next week!

Life: Amazon - $19.99
4K: Amazon - $27.99

Astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves far more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined.

Life (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Life 4K (Blu-ray) 

The Lawnmower Man: Amazon - $19.99

A scientist performs experiments involving intelligence enhancing drugs and virtual reality on a simple-minded gardener. He puts the gardener on an extensive schedule of learning, and quickly he becomes brilliant. But at this point the gardener has a few ideas of his own on how the research should continue, and the scientist begins losing control of his experiments.

The Lawnmower Man (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Island of Terror: Amazon - $17.99

Grisly deaths bring a scientist to a remote island where researchers have accidentally created a deadly life form.

Island of Terror (Blu-ray) 

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage: Best Buy - $34.99 

An American writer, Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), is living in Rome with his girlfriend, Julia (Suzy Kendall). While visiting an art gallery, Sam witnesses an unsuccessful murder attempt by a mysterious figure. As the assailant is believed to be an infamous serial killer, Sam quickly becomes a key witness in the ongoing police investigation. After he begins searching for clues that may help him identify the killer, Sam discovers that he may be the next intended victim.

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art 

Ten Little Indians: Amazon - $17.99

A group is invited, under false pretenses, to an isolated hotel in the Iranian desert. After dinner, a cassette tape accuses them all of crimes that they have gotten away with. One by one they begin to die, in accordance to the Ten Little Indians nursery rhyme. After a search is made of the hotel, they realize that the murderer is one of them. A few members of the group attempt to trust each other, but the question still remains, who can one trust? And who will leave the hotel alive?

Ten Little Indians (Blu-ray) 

Altitude: Amazon - $13.99

Gretchen Blair is a headstrong FBI agent who goes rogue during a hostage negotiation and is sent packing to a desk job back in Washington, D.C. As soon as her flight takes off, her seatmate offers her millions of dollars if she can get him off the plane alive. As his ex-partners stage a brutal hijacking, Gretchen finds herself in the fight of her life -- choosing sides between two factions of a criminal gang while trying to keep the plane from going down.

Altitude (Blu-ray) 

  - The Impostor

Monday, June 19, 2017

Screenings in the Bay (Monday to Friday): The Bad Batch, Popcorn, Nosferatu

I'm not quite sure what it is about this week, but there are a whole lot of vampire movies floating around the bay area this week... The Invincible Czars return to the city to accompany several movies with a live score, the first of which is happening tonight (and there are still plenty of tickets available!) but they'll have an encore night tomorrow in the East Bay. 
Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday are both heavily talked about films this week, and both will be a first time watch for me, even though I may or may not own one of them already... 😅

Opening This Week

The Bad Batch (2017)
Limited Release Thursday 22nd (1hr 58min)
Sci-Fi/ Drama (Google)
The aforementioned girl is Arlen, (Suki Waterhouse), one of thousands of Americans deemed unacceptable to society, who is unceremoniously dumped into a hostile desert wasteland fenced off from civilized society. While wandering in her desert exile, she is captured by a savage band of cannibals and quickly realizes she'll have to fight for her very existence in this human-eat-human world. With electrifying visuals, a score to die for and a stellar cast, Amirpour has created another cinematic chapter that is as uncategorizable as her first.

Monday 19th @ 7pm (1hr 13min)
Drama/ Horror/ Sci-Fi (IMDB)
Released in 1920, the movie stars Drew Barrymore’s grandfather John Barrymore as both Jekyll and Hyde. Barrymore gives one of the most memorable performances of early film often portaying Mr. Hyde character simply with facial expressions and no makeup. The movie is considered by many to be the first important American horror film. Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novel, the movie tells the story of Dr. Henry Jekyll – scientist, philanthropist and all around upstanding English citizen. Jekyll’s colleague, George Carew (Brandon Hurst) invites his uptight young friend to a see the sexy Italian showgirl Miss Gina (Nita Naldi) and Dr. Jekyll’s arousal sends him on a quest to separate man’s good and evil side. Using himself as the test subject, Jekyll unleashes his own evil alter-ego: Edward Hyde. But Jekyll’s imperfect science sends the good doctor into uncontrollable alternations between his two selves that imperil his reputation, his finance and his own life.

With a live score by The Invincible Czars
Also Screening at the New Parkway Theatre Tuesday 20th

Terror Tuesday

Tuesday 20th @ 9:50 pm (1hr 31min)
Horror/ Comedy (IMDB)
In this off-beat horror outing, a band of film students decide to scare up some cash by holding a film festival celebrating horror films from the '50s. Its all great fun until they discover that the projectionist is a homicidal maniac. Gory violence ensues as audience members begin dying in horrible ways.

Weird  Wednesday

Wednesday 21st @ 9:45pm (1hr 29min)
Horror / Art House Rotten Tomatoes)
In this arty horror film, American Lucy Westinghouse works in a Turkish legal firm. Lucy is thrilled by a series of erotic dreams concerning a mysterious vampire woman. When she travels to an island to settle Princess Korody's inheritance, Lucy recognizes the beautiful woman as the vampire from her dreams.

Nosferatu (1922)
Tuesday 20th @ 6:30pm (1hr 21min)
Fantasy/ Horror (IMDB)
Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife.

With a Live Score by The Invincible Czars

Screening All Week (1hr 37min)
Horror/ Drama (IMDB)
An official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Michael O'Shea's debut feature The Transfiguration follows troubled teen Milo who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo's dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality. A chilling portrait of violence, The Transfiguration is an atmospheric thriller set against the grit of New York City.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: It Comes At Night, Trey Edward Schults'

7 of 10 viewers "Liked" "It Comes At Night" (2017, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Clark Little - "Trey Edward Schults' second directorial effort is a master exercise of tension and dread. The stunning camera work, adds to the overall dizzying and unbalanced nature of the story. The story is simple and timely to today's political culture. Shults wrote the screenplay over three years ago, but it has been deemed the "Horror Movie We Need for the Trump Era" because of its narrative that could be easily taken as symbolism for nationalism. I'm not a politics guy. It tires me and it always comes off as pandering in the end. However, I am a supporter of selling quality products and It Comes at Night is definitely of high quality. So if it will get more people in the cinema supporting independent film, sign me up for the next march." - 4 Stars

Lord Battle - "It Comes At Night is a collage of horror imagery from the The Witch-esque movie poster to the prominent red door ala the Insidious franchise, a grotesque sex scene ala Cabin Fever, and the visual aesthetic of an episode of The Walking Dead, complete with plague contagion (just no zombies). This may sound like it's gearing up to be the most brutal summer we've spent in the woods while in a theatre, yet It Comes At Night isn't a horror film. Trey Edward Shults has finally accomplished what non horror fans of Raw, Don't Breathe, and The Witch have always wanted; an elevated genre film, so elevated it's just removed from the genre. And to be fair, my only complaints are with the story not the marketing, I'd actually love to see the film in the trailer. I guess this is just marks the first time I wasn't "Pleasantly surprised", in fact I was pretty annoyed. Oh, and I should say Trey Edward Shults really created a great mood in ICaN but because of the time we're living in I kept reading it as an ominous Trump narrative... And for those who really liked this film, you need to check out Queen of Earth, because it's a lot like ICaN but with an honest approach to this type of "horrific" drama." - 3 Stars

The Berkeley Blazer - "Seeing this brotha creeping his way around the woods and the house with a lantern --straight-up Bontë-style--- is one of my favorite images from the film and a perfect visual metaphor for what it feels like to make your way through It Comes at Night. I usually find the whole "film is a visual medium/images should tell the story" to be a especially specious strain of bland argument but here the minimal dialog and emphasis on atmospheric dread really serves the narrative thrust of the film. If you read reviews you might hear talk of bleak bleak bleak which in turn made me worried it would be bore bore bore, because films that are philosophically pessimistic just to be so are the cinematic equivalent of a raving angsty teenager who read the first chapter of a Camus novel. This is not that film. This is a post-apocalyptic meditation on human relations thematically comparable to The Road and the most exciting thing about It Comes At Night is that it's consistently exciting and pace perfect. I was invested in every single one of the characters, despite the massive Bruegel painting in the overture that foreshadows the ending, hard. When the credits rolled, I was left with the same feeling I get when I've finished a particularly taut and powerful novella or short story. Notice I'm avoiding details about the film because they have so much power as little moments to be discovered and chewed on like bites of truffle. Savor it. I will say: one of the things that make It Comes At Night so ultimately devastating is its depiction of a believably hopeful possibility where people work together and share their burdens beautifully. Truly, I cannot wait to own and enjoy It Comes, at night." - 5 Stars

Trash - "I guess It Comes At Night isn't the horror movie that fans wanted. Misleading marketing or not, it's a disappointment so many viewers seem to be letting their expectations spoil what I felt was a brilliant character drama set in a plague-ridden post-apocalypse. It's a dreary study of what happens to a family living in paranoia, misanthropically dedicated to keeping its setting more powerful than the story's inhabitants, because people are simply no longer the dominant species. The nondescript plague functions more as a part of the setting than of the narrative, because the only thing the film is focused on are the characters. The cast arrive on screen looking as if they have been living in the world for quite sometime, rendering stars Joel Edgerton and Carmen Ejogo almost unrecognizable -- they are just a couple living with their son and dog through the end of humanity. Edgerton plays a former teacher who's now an expression of fearful masculinity, wanting to protect his family and do what's right. Their son, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr., steals a lot of the movie, coping with being a teenager who is going to be denied the life experiences he'd expected to have. Also, can I just say, Trey Edward Shults is a great new director. Like, put some exclamation points next to that dude's name when you say it, he's going to make some good films." - 4.5 Stars

The Impostor - "Teaser trailer creepy and stunning, movie poster mysterious and intriguing, actual film confusing, bland and most of the time boring. A24 has a great track record of indie horror films brought to a wider audience and most are highly recommended and reviewed. It Comes At Night intrigued me especially after first teaser, and I didn't want to know anything more of the film. Sadly nothing else happens. Like what comes at night? Besides a man and his wife fucking one night. I wish I didn't go in expecting a horror movie, if I went in expecting a drama I think I'd feel a bit better about this film. Acting is great, especially on Joel Edgerton's part, so that's a plus. This film is totally left up to the viewers imagination and nothing is explained. I've seen films like this before but had some sort of satisfaction, but in this movie I did not. Is it a disease, infection, a germ, Madea? I don't know. Hell, these families afraid of Madea coming at night would have been a better movie. Overall, maybe I wasn't in the right state of mind going​ in but the title of the film is definitely a grab for fans looking for a horror movie, or even teens looking to be scared. Sadly it is not any of those things. Maybe in the future I'd give this another watch and my review will change... Maybe." - 2.5 Stars

Johnny Ocelot - "Atmospheric, brooding, ethereal. Although not really covering a lot of new ground, the film is strong with a fantastic setting. But not for all horror fans, to be honest." - 4 Stars

The Ascendant - "New York-based distributor A24 have only been active for 5 years, yet their presence is clearly felt. They are absolutely fearless and one look at the entirety of their filmography is proof-positive of that. There you'll see Academy Award-winning films such as Moonlight (2016) & Room (2015) standing in arms with recent genre-favorites such as Under The Skin (2014), Green Room (2016), The Witch (2016) and Ex Machina (2015). With that being said, even the straight-A student gets an occasional B+ or C-, which here takes the form of Trey Edward Shults' 2017 film, It Comes At Night. Underneath deeply engaging cinematography (Drew Daniels) and an odd, yet wonderfully minimalistic score (Brian McOmber) is a wafer-thin plot that whole-heartedly believes it is more intelligent than every Post-Apocalyptic film you have ever seen. For his sophomore-effort, Shults draws once again draws on the theme of familial tensions, which he addressed in his 2015 debut feature, Krisha. Luckily for him, that focus on family is played wonderfully by its cast, with clear stand-outs being Joel Edgerton (Midnight Special) & Kelvin Harrison Jr. (12 Years A Slave), who have such fantastic chemistry with each other as (Post-Apocalyptic) father & son, that it hides the fact that this film isn't quite sure where its destination is, meandering often. Somewhere in that 91-minute run-time (which does have its share of beautifully tense moments) is a much better film. Less isn't more, may I please go through the red door?" - 3 Stars

Huntress - "I can't help but wonder if It Comes At Night started out as a completely different movie, one with more on-screen action as opposed to your mind filling in the blanks for you. But maybe someone decided to cut most of it out in an attempt to be more arthouse? I know, it sounds like a stretch, but I can't understand the logic of marketing this movie almost explicitly to horror fans. I was told that grabbing some drinks and feeling good right before watching this film for the first time puts you in the wrong state of mind, one that won’t appreciate all the tension this film has to offer. Although that just makes me feel like I’m not part of the target audience. That being said, I'd probably be interested to rewatch It Comes At Night in the future, but this time from a more academic standpoint." - 2.5 Stars

Math Mage - "This movie is every apocalypse survival movie you've seen except there's no apocalypse or anything else interesting." -2 Stars

Randy The Reverberator - "So, I had written a quick summation of my feelings on Letterboxd a day or so after having seen It Comes At Night. However, I've also been thinking about this film a lot since that initial viewing. To summarize; I didn't love it, but thought it had some interesting camera movements and an eerie aesthetic. Director Trey Edward Shults is an immense talent. I'm excited that we have such a young, new American director making interesting films. I loved his debut, Krisha. It's a family drama, with mostly unknown actors...a very independent production, but with someone behind the camera that's a definite cinephile with an acute knowledge of film grammar. It's like Cassavetes meets Kubrick. It was captivating, I felt like I was inside the titular character's psyche for most of the movie, and that was off putting to say the least. It was more frightening to me than most of It Comes At Night. Which brings me to my disappointment in being disappointed with It Comes At Night. I really wanted to love this movie, and it has a lot going for it technically. However, I didn't care about these characters as much as I had hoped to, and the story felt less focused than Krisha. Although I'm a self proclaimed non-horror guy, I still have to say that the genre elements felt more like a selling point than a crucial element to telling this story. Like Krisha, this film is a family drama, and there's plenty of 'horror' in that alone." - 3 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*

(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Shortly before exiting theatre 1 of the New Mission, a conversation began. But not how it normally starts, with person X asking person Y what they thought and person Y eases in their opinion, unsure of how persons A, B, and C felt. This time it was the critiques came from confusion, The Impostor's confusion. "What you think?" "That ain't no horror movie!" "You like it?" "Oh, you did like it." "What the fuck came at night? Just that little boy." "You like it?" "That ain't no horror movie!"
Now I'm paraphrasing but that's pretty close to the instant Impostor reaction. And I'm not making fun of it, I actually think the horror bait and switch coaxed the best/most honest review that he's ever written. And what his reaction also did was put me in the mindset to try and guide him through how this brilliantly executed film could disappoint him so thoroughly. If you read his review above he never truly figured it out, although I am 99% sure it's just the horror marketing that played with his expectations. But while discussing all the great subtleties within It Comes at Night we came across a pretty interesting theory.

Starting with what might be the best shot in the film, we find ourselves looking at Bruegel "Triumph of Death" confronted with what we can now assume is a plague-like epidemic. The camera pans to the right until we are released from the bright depiction of human mortality and confronted with the dark, ominous hall, that would be empty if not for the wall proudly decorated with a long trail of family photos. As the camera crawls down the hall fulfilling our voyeuristic desires, a dread creeps in as we are confronted with a bright red door. The unnatural and bright color harks back to the Bruegel painting whose haunting imagery of skeletons lingers as we continue towards our destination. It's in those few moments that the family portraits sneak in what I think is a major clue, Joel Edgerton. Now I'm not saying that the mixing of races has set off a biblical apocalypse but rather this is a visual book note of a change in this family's history and shortly after we see Paul lead the oldest existing member of the family outside where he hastily executes him in a pointedly brutal fashion. This moment is accented by the fact Paul has brought his son out to help partake in the euthanization of his grandfather.

So, again I feel the need to say that just because Paul is the first white guy on the portrait wall and has killed the black male who was the former head of the family, I don't feel this film is actually racially motivated in a race war kinda way. I honestly believe this is just visual storytelling; what we should be looking at here is Paul's paranoia and his personal definition of what the "head of the family" is and should do. The film ends with Paul accidentally killing a child and then murdering the child's mother. A cold act that could be spun as merciful. But by this point I was completely convinced that Paul had manufactured this whole situation.

The narrative in It Comes At Night throws us into the middle of pretty complicated situation in which the movie tells the story of what happens when a stranger stumbles upon this seemingly empty house one night. The theory that Paul is a methodical maniac taking advantage of a family rather than continuing the lineage is supported by his harsh reaction to all outsiders and lack of resemblance to his son. But one moment stood out to me that actually portrayed Paul as somewhat caring...

After capturing Will (Christopher Abbott) and tying him to a tree, Paul begs Will to convince him of the truth so he isn't forced to kill him. I thought this moment was finally proof that Paul did really have the best intentions in mind and that they were just buried in our new apocalyptic reality. It wasn't until I spoke with Math Mage after the film that he was able to point out that he was applying an interrogation tactic. Will was left tied outside over night with his head covered. This is not the action of a compassionate man. The choice to bring his family back also appears to be the right thing to do but after some discussion with Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) it also becomes clear that anyone missing Will might start looking for him... This power struggle is expressed with a diner table seat change as Paul now sits at the head of the table (watch the diner table seating, ICaN does a good job showing character dynamics this way).

From here the pieces should fall into place, the burial of Travis' dog and how it was different, who owns the food/water, where does Paul sit in the closing of the film, has Sarah aligned with a morally strong man or the strongest man?

-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in the New Mission theatre for a screening on 6/8/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Attack on Titan: Reactions and Predictions After Season 2

Happy Saturday everyone! 
So Attack on Titan season 2 aired its finale this morning, but they also announced that season 3 is coming next year! I am so happy to hear that because a little part of me was really worried that I would have to wait another four years to hear about season three. I hate to admit it, but season two of Attack on Titan was probably my favorite anime of the season (next to My Hero Academia which I just got into last week lmao) and the biggest reason I enjoyed it so much was actually because people that don't normally talk to me about anime kept talking to me about the new episodes every week. I have to be honest and say that I looked forward to watching the new episode each week and then going to work to talk about it.

I guess we should discuss what exactly happened this season because there was so much going on. So spoiler alert from this point forward! I personally thought that watching the anime was actually better than reading the manga because when I read it as it was coming out I found it confusing and hard to follow what was happening. That could've been because I was reading the raw scans online or I just wasn't paying enough attention, but even with other anime I think it just helps to see everything animated. I have a special place in my heart​ for the animation studio that does Attack on Titan because the way the anime looks is just so beautiful and the character art and backgrounds are just stunning. It's probably the main reason I continue to watch despite knowing what happens. I'm a bit sad that we only got 12 (was it 13?) episodes this year because I was hoping it would get into the content I hadn't read yet, but now that I only have to wait a year for season 3 I'm not as upset.

My favorite part of the season hands down was during the season finale where Eren and Mikasa are sitting in the field after Hannes has just been eaten by the titan that originally killed their mom and Mikasa basically confesses to Eren because she thinks they're going to die and goes in to kiss him. Eren just dodges her and gets up. I had been waiting for that part the entire season and I honestly laughed so hard when it happened. Eren is such a linear character with one goal in life it was so refreshing to see that he hasn't changed at all. I also loved seeing Armin trying to defend an unconscious Jean by waving his sword around pitifully lolol. Also!!! Am I the only one who was a little disappointed that they downplayed Erwin getting his arm bitten off? When that happened in the manga people went crazy online and I feel like there was almost no reaction to it this time.

I also want to talk about how this season really took the focus away from Eren which was great. We know who he is as a character and what his current motivations are and I think the characters in Attack on Titan are so diverse and interesting that I was glad to see them get the chance to shine. Especially Ymir, who a lot of people were brushing off as just the weird lesbian character (which she is, but now we know there is much more to her than meets the eye). I did miss Levi who wasn't in the season much because of his injury, and I wish that they hadn't put so much suspense around the beast titan if they weren't going to show him in more than one episode. I mean he's in both the opening and ending credits even though they encounter him like twice and don't speak about him after that. 

I think next season is going to be more about the political aspect especially since we know that humans are the reason titans were created and that there is a human force behind everything. I haven't really read much further than where season two left off, but I feel safe in assuming that much of the next season is going to take place in the inner walls. I think there is going to be a lot more interaction between humans as opposed to humans and titans interacting. There will probably also be more development between the scouting legion and the wall cult, there will be an uprising, and we are going to find out that someone is related to someone... somehow. I don't want to give away too too much, but next season is going to be good. Hope you all enjoyed this season as much as I did and if not, I get it lol. 

See you next time~

-Book Wyrm

Friday, June 16, 2017

Screenings in the Bay (Friday to Sunday): 47 Meters Down, Hounds of Love, The Transfiguration

We're in for a hot weekend in the bay area! As someone who gets very, very burned, I don't think I'm looking forward to spending the whole time at the beach... but I will check out some of these movies.

47 Meters Down and It Comes At Night open today. These are two very different kinds of movies, but I have a feeling they have more in common than in immediately obvious. Kill Switch is also out today, but that's one many of us will have to check out on VOD.

Opening Today

Opens Friday 16th (1hr 29min)
Horror/ Thriller (IMDB)
Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.

Select Theatres/ VOD Friday 16th (1hr 31min)
Sci-Fi/ Fantasy (Rotten Tomatoes)
Acclaimed writer-director Tim Smit explodes on to the scene with his futuristic, VFX-heavy feature debut! KILL SWITCH charts the story of a pilot battling to save his family and the planet, based on Smit's short What's In The Box? Set in a future version of the world, the video game style plot follows an experiment for unlimited energy, harnessing parallel universes, which goes wrong. Chased by drones and soldiers, pilot and physicist Will Porter must race through an imploding world to get the Redivider box to a tower, which will save humanity, including his family, in the real world.

Beer Movies

The Lost Boys (1987)
Saturday 17th @ 10pm (1hr 38min)
Adventure/ Horror/ Suspense (Rotten Tomatoes)
After moving to a new town, two brothers discover that the area is a haven for vampires.

Midnight Madness

Friday 16th @ 11:55pm (1hr 43min)
Adventure/ Fantasy (Rotten Tomatoes)
Veteran animator Hayao Miyazaki directs this buoyant children's adventure yarn about a young witch striking out on her own. At her mother's behest, 13-year-old Kiki sets out on a year-long apprenticeship with her black cat in tow. With a shaky command of her broom, she ends up in a charming little coastal town that looks like a cross between the French provincial and San Francisco. Unfortunately, the local hotels have a strict "no witches" policy and the police have taken a dim view of her recent aerial mischief-making. She's saved from the street by a kindly baker's wife, who offers her room and board in exchange for her delivering by broom the baker's wares. Soon she befriends a college-aged artist, an old women who fusses over her, and a boy her same age who is nursing a massive crush. All is well until she wakes up one day and realizes that she can't make her broom levitate nor can she talk to her cat. What will Kiki do? ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

Also Screening Saturday!

Saturday 17th @ 4:25pm (1hr 48min)
Sunday 18th @ 9:30pm
Crime/ Drama/ Horror (IMDB)
In suburban Perth during the mid 1980s, people are unaware that women are disappearing at the hands of serial killer couple John and Evelyn White. After an innocent lapse in judgment, Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted by the disturbed couple. With her murder imminent, Vicki realizes she must find a way to drive a wedge between Evelyn and John if she is to survive. Hounds of Love is an exercise in expertly-crafted tension, offering a bold, challenging debut from writer/director Ben Young.

Friday 16th @ 9:15pm (1hr 37min)
Horror/ Drama (IMDB)
An official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Michael O'Shea's debut feature The Transfiguration follows troubled teen Milo who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo's dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality. A chilling portrait of violence, The Transfiguration is an atmospheric thriller set against the grit of New York City.

Sunday 18th @ 3pm (2hrs 14min)
Drama (IMDB)
In this film, based on William Gibson's novel, Richard Widmark plays the head of a posh psychiatric clinic. Widmark's wife Gloria Grahame jockeys for the honor of selecting new drapes for the hospital's library. Thanks to those drapes, we are allowed to probe the disturbed psyches of several patients.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Overlook Hour Guest Profile: Dean Alioto (UFO Abduction)

In preparation for episode 43 of The Overlook Hour, we screened our guest's controversial first film for the reviewers and most of them appreciated the authenticity as well as the payoff. Almost all of them... And afterwards we heard about the filmmaker, the film's background, and finally that he would be the next guest on the podcast. And now, the day is here. The day that we speak about the first found footage film ever made. 

The part of UFO Abduction that most people may not know is that its filmmaker, Dean Alioto, is a former San Francisco resident who attended SF State, and that his film premiered in a downtown theatre before the term "found footage" was even realized. Whether this theatre still exists or not is another story. Dean now resides in southern California and is happy to talk about our great city and even recommend some movies for everyone to check out.

But before you hear that...

The guys graze the subject of A24's most recent release, It Comes At Night, but don't get into much since all of them haven't seen it yet (so no spoilers), and two of them share their very different experiences at the Oracle Arena. 

Have a listen!