Monday, September 26, 2011

Phil attends a very special screening of RED STATE at the Camera 3-Sept. 25, 2011

When I first heard that director Kevin Smith's new horror film RED STATE was having a special one-night only screening at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose, I couldn't believe it! I was so damn excited, I shouted at the top of my lungs. I've heard so much about the film, and all the hype and controversy surrounding it. Smith's entry to the horror genre was a long time coming. According to him, it took about five years to bring the film to the big screen. After seeing the film tonight...well...let me just say this: THIS IS NOT YOU'RE TYPICAL KEVIN SMITH FILM!! This is something entirely different, and it is his best film to date!!

The film's about three horny teenage friends Travis (Michael Angarano), Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun), and Jarod (Kyle Gallner) who follow an Internet ad promising them a menage a trios with a willing older woman. The boys are drugged and are taken to the home of a Chrisschun religious cult, run by a deranged pastor named Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). Cooper and his believers are wanted terrorists and the FBI calls in special agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman) and his team to eradicate this hostile situation.

 I did not see this film coming! I mean, were are talking about Kevin Smith here. The king of slacker films. For my generation, his films represented us and our lingo, our look, our thoughts, and our hang-ups. Films like CLERKS, MALLRATS, and CHASING AMY defined the demographic known as Generation X. We related to his films because they were about us! After the release of CLERKS 2, Smith closed the door on his View Askew universe and began making other types of films. The 2008 film ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO was a hilarious comedy hit, but his 2010 follow up film, the ill- fated comedy/buddy cop film COP OUT (starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan) was a complete disaster. With RED STATE, he decided to go back to his roots and made a low budget ($4 million) horror film (his first horror film ever) and took it on a grassroots campaign tour from town to town.

Now, the film itself is fricking unbelievable! Think Quentin Tarantino meets John Carpenter. Smith abandons his usual style of directing, and plots a complete 180 course from what we expect from him. Terrifying close-ups, unnerving tracking shots, unflinching gore and graphic violence; everything that you weren't expecting Smith to do, he does beautifully! Smith stated that the film is loosely based on the infamous pastor Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. He and his followers are known for picketing events such as gay pride events, military funerals, and for creating vulgar, hateful slogans. His most atrocious slogan being "God hates fags" garnered Phelps an avalanche of controversy. And yet, for some strange reason that I cannot comprehend, Phelps has not been assassinated. Explain that one to me folks!

The film boasts a fantastic cast, which credit goes to Smith for writing an amazing script. The first half of the film concentrates on Cooper and his believers and their perverted, twisted take on religion; a religion that when it says smite the wicked, they take it literally! Parks' performance of Cooper is spine-chilling and frightening, due to the fact that there are people like Copper out there, and they're responsible for some of the most vicious and ludicrous acts of violence and stupidity ever recorded in this country. (If you don't believe me, look up Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre) The second half has an incredible shoot out finale that Sam Peckinpah would have been proud of! Goodman is awesome as Agent Keenan, and also be on the lookout for a young actress named Kerry Bishe who portrays Cheyenne, one of the children of the religious cult. I first became aware of her from the television show SCRUBS. She portrayed med student Lucy Bennett, the lead character from Season Nine of the show. I loved her character, as well as her acting. I was so surprised to see her in the film, and she nailed her performance. I can't wait to see her again in another film.

After the screening, the theater streamed a live Q&A with Smith, who was at the New Beverly Theater in Hollywood. Smith answered fan's questions, which were twittered to him. Some guy next to me tweeted his question and Smith answered in real time. I tweeted my question, but I had to leave to type up this review. But I'd like to think he answered my question.

RED STATE is Kevin Smith's best film ever! A horrifying study of religious cults and bloody consequences make this my number one favorite horror film of the year! Why do you ask? Because this is real. This has happened before, and can happen again at anytime and anyplace. Maybe in the town where you live now.

RED STATE is now available to watch On Demand. Check your local provider for more details. The film will also be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 18th. Purchase a copy for yourself at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Phil sees A ROMANCE OF THE REDWOODS at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-Sept. 24, 2011

Once again I made my way back up to the Niles District of Fremont, where at the Edison Theater silent films are still being shown at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Tonight the museum was a showing rare Mary Pickford film, plus two shorts. Let's get this show started, shall we?

First short of the night was MAX JUGGLES FOR LOVE (1912) starring Max Linder. In the film, Max falls in love with a beautiful woman, but she will only marry him if he learns how to juggle! Really! I'm not making this up. So to all you ladies out there; is this how it works? I mean, I'm 38, single, and can't get a date. So if I need to learn how to juggle to meet a woman, then I'm gonna start practicing now! The film was released by Pathe in February in 1912.

The second film up was one of my favorite comedy shorts. FATTY AND MABEL ADRIFT (1916) stars Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle and Mabel Normand, a cute couple who get married and live in a beach house. However a jealous ex teams up with some shady people and casts their beach house out to sea. Fatty and Mabel have great comedic chemistry together and it shows on the screen. Both are hilarious and lovable. The film was released by Mack Sennett's Keystone Film Company on January 9, 1916.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1917)
After the intermission, the show continued with the main feature of the night. A ROMANCE OF THE REDWOODS (1917) was made by acclaimed director Cecil B. de Mille and starred America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford. In the film Pickford portrays Jenny Lawrence, who travels out west to live with her uncle. However, her uncle is killed by Indians and his identity is stolen by a stage robber named "Black" Brown (Elliot Dexter). As with all his films, de Mille lays in on the moral lesson. Pickford is amazing and beautiful in the film. Her acting was marvelous!

Some interesting facts about the film. It was shot at Boulder Creek in  in Santa Cruz County, and filmed on the sets built by the California Motion Picture Company for their film SALOMY JANE in 1914. Also, most of the film's $135,000 budget went to pay Pickford's salary: $96,666.67! Fortunately, the film went on to gross $424,719. Two years later, she along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chapli, and D.W. Griffith would form United Artists. The film was released by Artcraft Pictures (which was owned by Paramount Pictures) on May 14, 1917.

A great night at the museum! If you want to learn how to become a member or to view their film schedule, visit the museum's website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Phil sees BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR at the Camera 12-Sept. 21, 2011

So it's been a long time since I hung out with my good friend and film buddy Kelly, and I came up with the idea of seeing a movie. So we both headed over to the Camera 12 in Downtown San Jose to see the film BUCKY LAWSON: BORN TO BE A STAR, which was ending today. And I have to say that it was a funny movie that I actually enjoyed!

 The film's about young, virginal Bucky Larson (Nick Swardson), who upon discovering that his parents (played by Miriam Flynn and Edward Herrmann) were famous porn stars from the 1970's, he decides to travel to the west coast to follow in his parent's footsteps. Upon arriving he befriends a waitress named Kathy (the beautiful Christina Ricci) and a down and out porn director Miles Depp (Don Johnson). Miles helps Bucky launch his career, but those in the business, like porn superstar Dick Shadow (Stephan Dorff), think he's nothing but a joke. But when Bucky becomes the talk of the town, Dick becomes threatened and will do whatever it takes to diminish Bucky's stardom.

Ok, now the humor in the film is not your typical humor. It's a blend of gross-out shenanigans and random, left of field humor. And you know what, it works. Seeing Bucky being pantsed at a party, revealing his "mighty bush," the eccentric comedy of SNL alum Kevin Nealon (playing Bucky's insane roommate Gary), and Stephan Dorff's Dick Shadow's arsenal of dick jokes and references. Riccic plays Kathy with sympathy, gusto, and she's adorable in the film. And, of course, Swardson's portrayal as Bucky was hilarious, with a dash of innocence, mid-western values, and ejaculation superpowers (you'll understand the last one once you see the film).

BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR is a blast to watch with that special someone, especially if your special someone is into raunchy, irrelevant, scantly clad porn stars, scary roommates, and hairy nether regions. So bring grandma, and have some fun together!

BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR is currently in theaters nationwide. To view showtimes for your local theater and to purchase tickets, visit Fandango's website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Phil attends the exclusive screening of PEARL JAM TWENTY at the Camera 3-Sept. 20, 2011

Last night I had the great fortune to attend a very special screening of director Cameron Crowe's new documentary entitled PEARL JAM TWENTY at the very cool Camera 3 Theaters in Downtown San Jose! The Camera 3 is also the home of the world famous Psycho Donuts, which makes some of the most delicious and eclectic named donuts in town! After purchasing some awesomely yummy donuts from the kind nurses behind the counter, I made my way to the front row to watch the film.

PJ20 documents the band's rise to super stardom through candid interviews and archival footage. The film begins with two of its founders: Jeff Ament and Stone Gassard and how these two friends formed their previous bands Green River and the influential Mother Love Bone. With their charismatic front man Andy Wood, MLB was on the brink of becoming the band of the 90s, but with the death of Andy, both Ament and Gossard teamed up with another childhood friend Mike McCready to form a new band. Upon receiving a demo tape from a San Diego surfer named Eddie Vedder, the band known as Pearl Jam was formed. With the release of their debut album Ten, the band burst into the mainstream and found themselves in the spotlight, much to the dismay for the band members.

Cameron Crowe was a music journalist in Seattle in the mid-80s and he was there when the whole "Seattle Scene" was beginning to form. Having that access, Crowe was easily able to obtain the nearly 1,200 hours of archival footage of the band, while simultaneously getting some very intimate interviews from the band, as well as from Matt Cameron (former drummer of Soundgarden and the band's current drummer), Chris Cornell (also from Soundgarden and Temple of The Dog), as well as from Crowe himself. The film also chronicles their distrust of the mainstream, their pulling back from the spotlight, their fight with ticketmaster, and their now freedom to purse their musical dreams without interference.

Because the screening sold out, the Camera 3 management informed the crowd that the film's distributor was so pleased with the turn out, that they agreed to have encore screenings of the film for a week starting this Friday! So to all you Pearl Jam fans who couldn't attend the screening, now you have a chance to see the film!

PEARL JAM TWENTY is a fantastic documentary about one of the most important bands from the 1990s, and their journey from grunge band to revered musical artists. Highly recommended film about an amazing band!

PEARL JAM TWENTY will be playing once daily from Sept. 23-29 at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees DON'T BE AFARID OF THE DARK at the Camera 12-Sept. 17, 2011

I was on a roll this past Saturday. I saw two films at the Camera 7 (THE HELP and CONTAGION) and third film that I wanted to see was playing at the Camera 12 in Downtown San Jose. So I made my way there to see the new horror film DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, a remake produced by the great Guillermo del Toro. The trailers and commercials made the film look so promising. Needless to say, I really didn't like the film.

The film's about a young girl named Sally (Bailee Madison) who's sent to go live with her dad Alex (Guy Pierce) and his new girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) in their new home that once belonged to a famous and deranged artist. When the family discovers a secret basement in the house, they unwillingly unleash an army of small demonic creatures that want Sally, and Kim is the only adult that can help.

As I stated, the film is a remake of an old TV horror film produced by Lorimar Television company back in 1973. After watching the movie, I knew that I was gonna have a hard time writing this blog.

This film didn't hold my interest at all. I found it flat, boring, no real suspense, no real horror, nothing. However, young Madison was very good in the film. In fact, she was the only thing good about the film! Everything and everybody else in the film is not worth even mentioning. However, I will say that Katie Holmes' career is as good as dead, and it'll be a miracle if she ever gets it back on track.

To try to review or talk about the rest of the film seems utterly pointless right now. I was really looking forward to this film, cause as I've said, I love horror movies. And this my friends, is NOT a good horror film.

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is a lifeless horror film that doesn't even make the attempt to scare you, or at least chill you or thrill you. I'm a big fan of Toro and I admire his work. I just wish he produced a film that was supposed to be scary, not bore me for an hour and a half. My advise is to best skip this movie folks and see something else that's way more entertaining.

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is now playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Phil sees CONTAGION at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-Sept. 17, 2011

I was speechless. Absolutely speechless. I could not believe what I was watching, and at the same time, I couldn't turn away. That is the power of cinema my friends. For over a hundred years, the images that have flickered before of have entertained us, shocked us, surprised us, and enlightened us like no other art form has. The images we see are documenting the social climates, issues, fears, and humor; styles and behaviors of society of the times to which a film was made. Some of these issues are still relevant today. So with the second film I saw today CONTAGION, director Steven Soderbergh brings to light that a lethal airborne virus epidemic could very well happen in our lifetime, but it's the spread of fear that is much more contagious and deadlier.

The film opens on Day 2 of the virus outbreak, following a very sick looking Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) at a Chicago airport as she travels back home to Minneapolis from a business trip in Hong Kong. She unknowingly spreads the virus to her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) and their son. We are also shown how others in Kowloon, Hong Kong, as well as London and Guandong fall ill from the virus.

At the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, its executive Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) is alerted and immediately sends his Epidemic Intelligence officer Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslit) to discover how the virus started. Meanwhile, Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) from the World Health Organization, flies to China and finds herself in trouble with the locals. As the day wears on, we see others participating during this crisis; conspiracy blogger Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) takes advantage of the situation, while the CDC works against the clock to come up with a vaccination against the MEV-1 virus.

There's a lot going on in this film, but what I loved about the film is One: there is no real star of the film. Both Damon and Fishburne receive quite a bit of screen time, and Paltrow's presence in the film adds up to about 2 minutes. Second, the main character is the virus, and it's all about how everyone around it is affected by it, and how do they adjust to this situation that it has created. It's almost like a sick game of chess; moving each character as if it were a pawn. Another reason I enjoyed the film was the realistic steps and actions portrayed in the film that were used to combat the virus. The science of finding a cure, governmental laws and regulations, propaganda, fear tactics, paranoia, it all worked perfectly within the film.

CONTAGION is a major tour de force of brilliant filmmaking! I think it's a major contender for Best Picture at the Oscars next year. This film must be seen on the big screen, so rush out and see it before it is too late!

CONTAGION is now playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay.To view showtime, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE HELP at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-Sept. 17, 2011

Since coming back from my trip to Hollywood, I fell behind in my movie screenings. So this weekend I went on a movie binge and tried to see as many films that I could. I started at the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell and saw two films there. The first was a film that has been getting a lot of praise, so of course, I had to see it. The film THE HELP lives up to its praise, and I really was surprised at how great the film was.

Based on the book by Kathryn Stockett, the film is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, and is about a young woman named Skeeter (Emma Stone) who returns home from college. Skeeter is determined to become a prolific writer, but when she sees how her white friends treat their black maids, she decides to interview them for a book that will chronicle the point of view of the maids. Soon, all hell breaks loose, as Skeeter realizes that her hometown isn't open to the idea of equality, as well as having their dirty laundry published for all of the country to read.

As I stated earlier, I was really surprised on how amazing the film was. I think that Emma Stone did a great job of portraying Skeeter, but the nominee for best actress in my humble opinion goes to Viola Davis, who's character Aibileen Clark is the catalyst for social change in the film. Aibileen is a poor, black maid that has seen enough and decides to aid Skeeter in her book. Davis' performance is riveting, poignant, and beautiful to watch. For best supporting actress, Octavia Spencer (Minny Jackson) for being Aibileen's partner in crime, and also for making her former boss eat her famous chocolate pie, to which she adds, "Eat my shit!" And speaking of Minny's former boss, actress Bryce Dallas Howard's performance as the antagonist Hilly Holbrook is one of the best and bitchiest villains of the year. Arrogant, self-righteous, and flat out racial bigot, Hilly goes to great lengths to keep segregation alive in Jackson.

THE HELP is an emotionally charged, funny, and inspiring film to watch. This film will also serve to remind us of how far this country has come. Equality for all was but a dream back in the early 60s, but that dream has become a reality. This film should inspire you to fight for what you believe in as well. Never forget who you are, and you will go far.

THE HELP is now playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Phil attends the MIDNITES FOR MANIACS: COLONIZING 'R' US triple feature at the Castro Theatre-Sept. 17, 2011

Once again I traveled up to the City by the Bay (San Francisco to you folks who don't live there) and attended the awesome Midnites for Manic series, hosted by the great Jesse Hawthorne Ficks. Tonight's theme was "Colonizing 'R' Us" and featured three films that showcased this perfectly. So ladies and gentlemen, let the show begin!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1986)
The first film of the night was ALIENS (1986), directed by James Cameron and starring Sigorney Weaver as Ripley. The planet from the first ALIEN film has been colonized, but communication has been lost. As a result, a group of military soldiers, along with Ripley, must travel there to find out what happened to the people there. The only lead they have is a lone survivor named Newt (Carrie Henn). Also joining on the mission is Bill Paxton (Pvt. Hudson), Jenette Goldstein (Pvt. Vaaquez), Paul Reiser (Carter Burke), Lance Henriksen (Bishop), and Michael Biehn (Cpl. Dwayne Hicks).

The film is just about as close to perfection as a film can get. Cameron's directing is flawless, and he would go on to direct other hit films such as TERMINATOR 2 (1991), TRUE LIES (1994), and the two highest grossing films of all time: TITANIC (1997) and AVATAR (2009). The film was released on July 18, 1986.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1997)
The second film for the night was the modern classic STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997). The film stars Casper Van Dien (Johnny Rico), Denise Richards (Carmen Ibanez), Dina Meyer (Dizzy Flores), Neil Patrick Harris (Carl Jenkins), Jake Busey (Ace Levy), and Michael Ironside (Jean Rasczak). The film's about the human race trying to survive from eradication from an invasion of giant, mutant insects. With the plot sounds like a AIP B-Movie flick, there's more going on here than meets the eye. Director Paul Verhoeven has helmed other classics such as ROBOCOP (1987), TOTAL RECALL (1990), and BASIC INSTINCT (1992), but with this film, Verhoeven satires on war, patriotism, propaganda, and perverted idealism of the Utopian American dream.

Ficks commented that the film is on par with Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film classic DR. STRANGELOVE, which also commented on the same topics. To be honest, Ficks has a valid point here. If you disagree, watch these films back to back and be surprised by the similarities. The film was released by Tri-Star/Touchstone Pictures on November 7, 1997.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1974)
The third and final film of the night was a film that I have never seen, but knew about it. DARK STAR (1974) was John Carpenter's student film that, believe it or not, was actually released to theaters! How amazing is that! How many student films do you know that was theatrically released? Not too many. The film's about the four-man crew of the Dark Star (Brian Narelle, Dan O'Bannon, Cal Kuniholm, and Dre Pahich) whose mission is to destroy unstable planets in galaxies that are planned to be colonized.

This low-budget film got Carpenter's career going. Soon after he was directing films such as ASSAULT OF PRECINCT 13 (1976) and the most influential horror film of all time HALLOWEEN (1978). While the film only lasted for 83 minutes, Ficks screened several trailers of Carpenter's other films afterwards: THE FOG, STARMAN, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, THE THING, CHRISTINE, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, VAMPIRES, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, ESCAPE FROM L.A., and GHOSTS OF MARS.

Another fantastic Midnites for Maniacs show! If you have never been to one of these events, you are missing out my friends. The next showing is on October 7th, so mark it on you caleder! To view upcoming shows, visit the website

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Phil goes Hollywood, Part 6: Phil attends the midnight screening of THE GATE at the Hollywood Silent Film Theater-Sept. 9, 2011

Right after the screening of CREATURE at the Mann Chinese 6 Theater, my friends from Fangoria (Rebekah McKendry, Johnny Leftwich, Marshall Andres, David Ian McKendry) and I then headed down to the Silent Film Theater on Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood. There, the theater was having a special midnight screening of the classic 1987 horror film THE GATE. To top it off, the director of the film Tibor Takacs would be doing a live interview via Skype from Toronto, Canada!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1987)
If you have never seen this film, shame on you! The film's about three kids who, after an old tree is removed from the backyard, accidentally opens up a gateway to Hell that has pint-sized demons crawling out of it. Soon, it's up to Glen (a very young Stephan Dorff) to save his sister Al (Christa Denton), his best friend Terry (Louis Tripp), and the world from being consumed by a demon from Hell.

I remember seeing this on cable years ago when I was a kid, I believe it was HBO. They would run some great horror films late at night, so while my folks were fast asleep, I would sneak downstairs and watch them. As a result, I became a fan of the film, because, like Glen, I was a kid too. I could relate to him, and that made the film more accessible. Here was a cool, scary, horror film that was geared for horror fans, but made for kids to watch and enjoy.

After the screening, via the internet, director Tibor Takacs (who looked very tired) took the time out of his beauty sleep in Toronto, Canada and participated in a fun and informative Q&A. He recalled how Stephen Dorff was cast, how he came to be the director, and how some of the special effects were achieved. There was slight glitch when the theater lost connection with Takacs, but that was soon fixed and the interview continued.

Tonight was one of the best nights I have had in a while. I got to hangout with my friends from Fangoria, saw some great horror films, and got to visit another theater in Hollywood! Overall, a night that I won't forget anytime soon!

If you'd like to learn more about the Silent Film Theater in Hollywood, or would like to know more about their film schedule, visit their website at

THE GATE was also just recently re-released by Lionsgate on a Special Edition DVD. Visit your local retailer to purchase a copy today, or visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Phil goes Hollywood, Part 5: Phil sees CREATURE at the Mann Chinese 6 Theater-Sept. 9, 2011

Last night, at the beautiful Mann Chinese 6 Theaters on Hollywood Blvd, I had the pleasure of seeing one of the best indie horror films that I have seen in a very, very long time! And to make the night even better, some of the cast and crew were present and participated in a Q&A session, which was moderated by my good friend from Fangoria magazine Rebekah McKendry! The film was, without question, an amazing cinematic experience for me, and I will predict that the film CREATURE will also be fun experience for you to see as well!!

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The film focuses on a group of friends on a roadtrip heading for New Orleans. The group consists of siblings Oscar and Karen (Dillon Casey and Lauren Schnider), and couples Randy and Beth (Aaron Hill and Amanda Fuller) and Niles and Emily (Mehcad Brooks and Serinda Swan). The group pulls into a roadside convenient store where the owner Chopper (Sid Haig) tells them the folklore of Lockjaw, the famed half man-half alligator creature that lives in the swamps of Louisiana. Soon the group travels to Lockjaw's native home, and that's where all the fun, sex, nudity, and gore happens.

From top to bottom, this was the most polished indie horror film I've seen in a long time. Right off the bat, what makes a great horror film is a great script, and screenwriters Tracy Morse and Fred Andrews (who also directed the film) crafted an ingenious story about family, folklore, and horror, with some great twists and turns. Another key factor of the film was the outstanding performances from the entire cast. Every single actor and actress brought a level of believability and vulnerability to their characters. We laugh with them when times are good, and we are horrified for them in their darkest hours. Also, Sid Haig is great as Chopper and it's his best role since portraying Captian Spaulding in the Rob Zombie films. Credit must also go to the crew, from production designer Jakub Durkoth (whose sets were both realistic and frightening looking) to Christopher Faloona's superb cinematography. And let's not forget Andrew's fantastic style of directing that was poetic while capturing the beauty of the Louisiana swamps and in-your-face with gore and guts that made the audience cheer and shout with devilish joy!

I love the horror genre immensely, and I take it personal when I see a horror film that fails to live up to the standards set by those that came before. Very few horror films as of late have made me stand up and take notice. This is one of those films that has the total package, and I knew that within the first five minutes of the film. It's rare to see not only a good horror film, but a GREAT indie horror film that the major Hollywood studios should take extensive notes on. However, knowing Hollywood, they would totally fail the final exam.

CREATURE is one of the BEST horror films of 2011! In a sea where bad horror film remakes and bland sequels run rampant, this film proves that there is still hope for the horror genre, and Fred Andrews and his team are to be praised for their love, devotion, and their gift that they have presented us. Now stop reading this review and go see the film NOW!

CREATURE is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, including at the Mann Chinese 6 Theaters. To view showtimes, visit their website at
For my friends and readers in San Jose and the South Bay, the film is playing at the Camera Cinemas. To see showtimes, visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Phil goes Hollywood, Part 4: Phil sees ATTACK THE BLOCK at the ArcLight Cinemas-Sept. 8, 2011

Yesterday in Huntington Beach, it was HOT! DAMN HOT!! The kind of hot that makes you melt! Now I thought being in HB, it wouldn't get that hot, being that it's near the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, it was hot yesterday! So searching for a way to beat the heat, I went to see the new British sci-fi film ATTACK THE BLOCK at the ArcLight Cinemas on Sunset Ave.

In this very clever film, a nurse named Sam (Jodie Wittaker) is heading back home in a shady neighborhood in Lower London when she is attacked by a local teenage street gang, led by a boy named Moses (John Boyega). After robbing her, they encounter a strange beam of light that crashes down and out comes a monstrous-looking alien. Naturally, Moses defends his turf and kills the alien, which brings the rest of them to his block. Now he must protect his gang and his block (as well as Sam who he turns to for help) from the alien invasion as well as from drug lord Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter). And the only safe place is in the weed vault at their friend Ron's (Nick Frost) apartment.

The film was a fast paced, sci-fi/action, urban city invasion mesh-up that Hollywood could take a few notes from. Now Hollywood has made a couple of films with this kind of setting (the 1991 sequel PREDATOR 2 comes to mind), but it didn't have this kind of script, which is fast, funny, witty, and full of interesting characters. Now being a British film, you must get past the very thick accents and sometimes unpronounceable dialects. Now since I've been watching British TV shows and films since I was but a wee little lad, I understood what they were saying. To the typical American googleplex movie goer, it might sound like people talking with their mouth full of marbles. However, once you get past that slight hurdle, the film is a real treat and very entertaining.

This was the film debut for director Joe Cornish (who is one half of the cult broadcasting duo Adam and Joe) and the man hit it out of the park. He was able to blend two totally different genres together to create a fantastic film that, hopefully, will be embraced by fans who loved Edgar Wright's 2004 film debut SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The film contains that same British wit and humor and also has enough action and violence to satisfy horror fans. Plus throw in the "big alien gorilla wolf monster" creatures and you've got your sci-fi fix as well. Also, fans of Nick Frost, he has but a small part in the film, but when the camera is on him, he is hilarious!

The film also touches on some social issues that are taking place in Britain. Urban violence, drug issues, violence against women, and government housing are just some examples that I noticed in the film. Issues that we here in America know all too well. Again, kudos to Cornish for taking a chance with bringing to light these social topics.

ATTACK THE BLOCK is a smart, funny, action packed, urban, sci-fi thriller that really delivers the goods and then goes beyond that. So to all you fans of everything British, rush out and go see this movie, before the Queen has it deported back.

ATTACK THE BLOCK is playing at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Phil goes Hollywood, Part 3: Phil attends the A TRIP TO THE MOON IN COLOR program at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences-Sept. 6, 2011

The Academy of Motion Picture building
Hello again and welcome back to my film adventures throughout Hollywood! Last night's journey took me to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences where they were having a fantastic program: A TRIP TO THE MOON IN COLOR & OTHER TRAVELS THROUGH TIME, COLOR & SPACE. Now I have always wanted to see a film program at the Academy, and with this extraordinary event, I could not pass up. So I drove out to Beverly Hills to witness this special screening of lost films!

The program was produced by the Academy's own Randy Haberkamp and hosted by French film historian Serge Bromberg and Tom Burton, the head of the Preservation Department at Technicolor. Bromberg is also the owner of Lobster Films, which his films are released through Flicker Alley, home to some of the greatest silent films of all time! The program was held inside of the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy. There were numerous short films shown last night (which Bromberg also provided musical accompaniment), so let's get this show underway!

A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET - Miles Brothers (1906): I mentioned the importance of this film in my Essanay Earthquake blog, so please feel free to read about it here.

SAN FRANCISCO APRES LA CATASTROPHE - Pathe (1906): A two minute short French film about the destruction of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.

METAMORPHOSES DU PAPILLON - Pathe (1904): Another French short film that chronicles the transformation from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Also, the film was in color, hand painted one frame at a time.

THE ACROBATIC FLY - Charles Urban (1910): I saw this film this past July at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Read about it here.

LA PEINE DU TALION - Pathe (1906): Directed by Gaston Velle, it told the story of a butterfly catcher who is put on trial by the other insects of the woods: French dancers dress up as butterflies and grasshoppers, and is also a hand painted film.

FLIRT EN CHEMIN DE FER - Pathe (1902): A one minute short French film about a man who wants to make love to his wife on a train, then they go through a tunnel real quick, and they're interupted by the conductor. Talk about a quickie!!

APRES LE BAL - Melies (1897): Directed by George Melies, the film is a one minute short about a woman who comes home from a ball, gets undressed, and gets watered down by her maid. Quite titillating!

GWALIOR - Pathe (1907): A hand colored short documentary about the town of Gwalior, India. A fantastic and rare film!

JOY OF LIVING - (1934): Directed by Hector Hopkins and Anthony Gross, it was an amazing animated short film that you just have to see to believe. Breathtaking!

LA DONNA E MOBILE/ALS WIE SO TRUGERISCH - (1907): An early attempt of a sound film, the film has just some guy lip syncing to an actual recording of a famous opera singer. The performance was hilarious, but a rare film to see!

LES KIRIKIS - Pathe (1907): Directed by Segundo de Chomon, this was the funniest film I have ever seen! It has a family of actors pretending to be an Asian acrobatic family, and all their routines are performed on the floor with the camera right above them, but the film is shown in reverse to create the "acrobatics." Also worth noting, Bromberg had his sister hand paint each frame of the film!

BUNZLI SYSTEM - (1900): For the life of me, I'm drawing a blank on this film. Sorry, I'll get back to this one later. lol

The next batch of films were made by George Melies, who wanting to release his films simultaneously in America and Europe to beat the bootleggers, created a camera that could hold two reels of film so he could shoot his films for both markets. Not realizing it, Melies accidentally created 3D! So the these films were shown in 3D, the glasses provided by the Academy.

LA CHAUDRON INFERNAL - (1903): A hand painted film that features a demon throwing several woman into his cauldron, but their ghosts haunt him so he dives into his own cauldron.

L'ORACLE DE DEPLPHES - (1903): A short film that takes place in Egypt. A thief breaks into the tomb of Delphi to steal some valuable jewels, only to get caught by the ghost of Delphi himself, who places a curse upon the thief.

LA CORNUE INFERNALE - (1906): A wizard falls asleep and then a snake emerges and becomes a jester, a spider, and a woman that haunts the wizard in his sleep.

After all the shorts, it was time for the main attraction. The colorized version of A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) was thought to have never existed, but a chance meeting between Bromberg and the Barcelona Film Archives worked out a deal and Bromberg got to have the film. Unfortunately, it was already too far gone to save. So to try to get the information on the frames, they sped up the deteriorating process and slowly started to peel the film, and using digital cameras, took hi-def pictures of each frame of the film, all 13,471 frames!! After the entire film was photographed, they were taken to Tom Burton and his team spent about a year restoring this long, lost George Melies film!

A week after the restoration was completed, the film made its debut as the opening film at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it received a glorious ovation. They showed the film twice last night: the first time with a recoded score done by the rock band Air, and again with Bromberg on the piano and Randy Hamberkamp providing the narration. After the second screening, Burton hosted a powerpoint presentation on how they restored the film in astounding detail.

Inside the Goldwyn Theater
This was such a great experience for me! I never thought that I would see a film program at the Academy and I hope to to this again next time I come back here! If you would like to know about upcoming programs at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, visit their website at

If you are a fan George Melies, Flicker Alley has released the magnificent GEORGE MELIES: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA (1896-1913) boxset that is a must own. To purchase a copy, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil goes Hollywood, Part 2: Phil sees BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in DISNEY DIGITAL 3D at the El Capitan Theatre-Sept. 5, 2011

The El Capitan Theater
Right after the Cinecon Film Festival had ended, I made a quick dash to the El Capitan Theater, where they were showing Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in 3D. Lucky for me the El Capitan was about two blocks away from the Egyptian! Now you might be thinking, "Phil, why are you going to see a Disney cartoon?" Well the answer is quite simple my friends: 1) It's a classic animated film, 2) It's in 3D, and 3) One of my goals is to visit as many Hollywood theaters as possible. Now I can say that I've been to two Hollywood theaters!

Inside the famous El Capitan Theater
The theater itself is just stunning! It is such a treat for me to be able to visit the theaters here in Hollywood. The El Capitan was erected on May 3, 1926, and became a home for live performnces and plays. In 1989 Disney partnered up with Pacific Theater to begin restoring the theater and in 2001 began to participate in Hollywood's revitalizing efforts. The El Capitan is now a first run theater for Disney films and it's the place that you'd want to see a Disney movie in!

The lovely Belle herself
Before the show began with the trailer for the upcoming film THE MUPPET MOVIE. Then she came out, and my heart went aflutter. Belle herself came out and performed a wonderful dance routine. She then greeted the audience and wished us all a wonderful night and enjoy the film tonight. Like I said, this version of the film was retooled and shown in 3D. Now, unlike a lot of other films, having it in 3D was really cool and because it is an animated film, it isn't that difficult to make it 3D due to the fact that the animation cells are all layered upon on another. Animation films are the easiest to turn into 3D, and the results are amazing!!

Ad for the Movie's Engagement
When the film was first released back on November 22, 1991, it was hailed as an animation masterpiece, using then state of the art computer animation and using optical tricks to create the illusion of 3D in an 2D film. Also, it was  just a good movie, now considered a classic in the annals of Disney's rich history. Now I understand that the film will be coming up to the Bay Area in the next few weeks, so to all my Disney fans up in NorCal, check your local movie theater and make plans to see it! Right now THE LION KING is currently playing up there, and then Disney will be doing a switch with BEAUTY, because that film will be playing at the El Capitan the following week. So for all you parents who want to share the magic of Disney with you kids (or want to relive the magic for the inner child in you) then go see these films! Trust me, it will be that magical!

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will be playing at the El Capitan until September 15th! To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Phil goes Hollywood, Part 1: Phil attends the final day of CINECON 47 at the Grauman's Egyptian Theater-Sept. 5, 2011

Hello and greetings from Hollywood!! While visiting a good friend of mine down here in SoCal for my vacation, I decided to check out all of the wonderful film events while I'm here for the week. Today I was lucky to attend the fourth and final day of the 47th Annual Cinecon Classic Film Festival, held at the world famous Grauman's Egyptian Theater in the heart of Hollywood! So let's get this show underway!!

The first film shown was a short called THE SERGEANT (1910). It was one of the earliest narrative films to be filmed on location in Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park. The film was believed to be lost until it was discovered in a cache at the New Zealand Film Archives in 2010. It is also the first film to be preserved through the American partnership with the NZFA. It was directed by Francis Bogg and was released by the Selig Polyscope Company on September 22, 1910.

Then a surprise short was shown that wasn't on the schedule. It was an Our Gang short that unfortunately I cannot recall what the title was. But it had to do with what the gang wants to be when they grew up. Using some from very trippy-looking special effects with the camera lenses, it was very psychedelic. Once I remember the title, I'll re-edit this.

The first feature length film was DIPLOMACY (1926),  a great silent film about spies and secret government agents. Based on an 1877 play by Victorien Sardou, the film stars Blanche Sweet as Dora, who falls in love and eventually marries Sir Henry Weymouth, who's brother  Julian Weymouth (Neil Hamilton) is a memeber of the special British Intelligence, who needs his brother's help to escort a very important treaty that could help bring peace to the world. A great little film that took me by surprise. The film was directed by Sweet's then husband Marshall Neilan and released by Famous Players-Lasky (which was latter renamed as Paramount Pictures) on September 20, 1926. Providing musical accompaniment for all three silent films was the great Phil Carli.

Next up was a delightful talking film entitled THE MAD MARTINDALES (1942). Sent in early 1900, the Martindale family is in a financial situation, thanks in large part to the father Hugo Martindale's (Alan Mowbray) overindulgent spending. So it's up to his youngest daughter Kathy (Jane Withers), along with the help of her friend Bobby (Jimmy Lydon), to save the family home. The film was directed by Alfred Werker and distributed by 20th Century Fox on May 15, 1942.

After the screening, both Jane Withers and Jimmy Lydon appeared on stage and did a great and funny Q&A for the audience. I was lucky to meet both of them, and I got Miss Withers to sign my Cinecon program!!

After a one hour lunch break, it was back to the films:

The silent film THE COWARD (1915) was shown first. Now I have seen this film before at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, so it was great to see it up on the big screen at the Egyptian. Charles Ray stars as young Frank Winslow, a selfish, coward of a son who deserts his post during the Civil War. When he returns home, his father Jefferson Beverley Winslow (Frank Keenen) goes in his place to fight in the war. But when an Yankee platoon arrive at Frank's home, he learns of a weakness in the Yankee army, and finds the bravery to go back and report his findings to his superiors. The film was released by Ince-Triangle-KayBee on November 14, 1915. My friend from Niles Frederick Hodges provided the musical accompaniment.

The second film shown after lunch was GLAMOUR BOY (1941), starring the great Jackie Cooper. In the film Cooper plays Tiny Barlow, a down and out former child star who gets a second chance coaching new child star Billy Doran (Darryl Hickman). He also meets and falls in love with an up and coming actress named Joan Winslow (played by the beautiful Susanna Foster). But when Tiny accidentally costs Joan her shot at stardom, it's up to Billy to bring these two love birds back together, and their careers back on track. A fantastic film for me to discover! The film was directed by Wesley Ruggles and distributed by Paramount Pictures on December 5, 1941.

Up next was the french import called LE BONHEUR (1934). This was my least favorite film of the night. The premise sounded good: actress Clara Stuart (Gaby Morlay) is shot by anarchist artist Philippe Lutcher (Charles Boyer) and is place on trial for his crime. However the two fall in love, but their romance is doomed right from the start. Like I said it sounded like a winner, but I didn't care for it at all. Some scenes were unnecessary, the ending of the film was dragged out too long, and I really didn't care about the main characters. The film was released by Pathe-Natan on February 27, 1934.

The final film of the night was a Hollywood musical that I've been wanting to see but never got around to. STORMY WEATHER (1943) was one of the best all black cast films that was made since the 1930s. The film stars Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Lena Horne as Bill and Selina, and their romantic adventures throughout the years. Also making appearances in the film are Cab Calloway and His Band, the Nicholas Brothers, Ada Brown, and Thomas "Fats" Waller. While light on story, the film nonetheless captures the audience's attention and takes its place in Hollywood history: a film made for black audiences and starring the biggest names in black entertainment! A great film to watch!! The film was released 20th Century Fox on November 17, 1943.

Overall, I had the best time here at Cinecon 47!! And I only did ONE day of the festival! I might have to come check out the whole festival next year. So if you happen to be in Hollywood for Labor Day weekend next year, you should really check out the festival! If you would like to learn more about the Cinecon Film Festival, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Phil reviews STONEWALL UPRISING-Sept. 1, 2011

Last month at the majestic Castro Theatre, they had a free screening of the new PBS documentary called STONEWALL UPRISING. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this special event. However, today I was at my local library and I saw the film on DVD, so I checked it out. And I am so glad that I finally got to see this moving and informative film.

The documentary chronicles exactly what happened on that fateful night of June 28, 1969. Through on camera interviews by those who were there, filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbrone did an incredible job retelling the Stonewall Story. The horror of being arrested for being different, the police brutality that befell on gays during that time, and the final stand against bigotry and hatred.

There's a lot more that I could write about in this review, but after watching it THREE TIMES IN A ROW, I have been rendered speechless. This is THE most important event in GLBT history. In fact, out of this event rose the Gay Rights Movement that inspired millions of gays and lesbians to come out of the closet, to fight for equality, to stand up and to make their voices heard. However, none of this would have happened if not for the Stonewall Riots.

STONEWALL UPRISING is a powerful, emotionally charged documentary that will inspire you to go out and make a difference in the world. And you should be inspired by these brave individuals that said enough is enough. Change was in the air back in 1968, and after all these years, it is still in the air. Highly recommended!!

STONEWALL UPRISING is now available on DVD. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit the PBS website at

To learn more about the Gay Rights Movement, visit the GLBT Historical Society website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!