Thursday, February 28, 2013

Phil attends CINEQUEST 23: Day Two -February 27, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to Day Two of my trip to the Cinequest Film Festival! Today I had the pleasure of seeing five films today! So let's get on with the show!

The first film I saw was CHITTAGONG. Directed by Bedabrata Pain, the story takes place in British occupied India during the 1930's. It focuses on a young boy named Jhunku, a fourteen-year-old who is betrayed by the man who was aiding him by sending him to Oxford. Because of this act, he joins the underground revolutionary led by Masterda. Jhunku joins his army of schoolboys as they train to take down the British army and liberate India.

Based on a true story, during the end credits, we learn all about the real Jhunku. In fact, there is a video of Jhunku as an old man, telling the video crew just how important that past of his life was. Also during the end credits we learn more about the other people in Masterda's army, and what happened to them. This was really a gripping film, spotlighting a very important point of India history that I wasn't very knowledgeable on. Truly an inspiring film, reminding all of us that we have the power to create change! The film will be screened again on Thursday, February 7th at 9:30pm and on Saturday, March 2nd at 3:45pm. Also check out the film's official website at

The second film I saw was the Norwegian comedy THE ALMOST MAN (MER ELLER MINDRE MANN). Written and directed by Martin Lund, the film's about a man named Henrik, who is a 12 year-old trapped in a 35 year-old man's body. He's basically torn between two worlds: the grown world where he has a job that he dislikes, a beautiful girlfriend Tone, who is also carrying their unborn child. The other world is being an irresponsible person who'd rather hang out with his friends, be gross, and drink all night. But when his relationship with Tone starts to come undone, he must chose what type of person he wants to be.

The movie was preceded by a short film entitled WHERE WE WERE SAFE. The short talked about the shootings that take place in East Palo Alto, how the kids are becoming use to it, and how we can rectify this  situation by giving the kids someplace safe to play and hang out, like a skate park.

This is a very off-beat comedy, but then again, what would expect for a Norwegian film. Lund does a great job combining the comedy with the pathos and sympathy for both Henrik and Tone. The film shows us that the pathway towards maturity is a very bumpy road to travel on! Really an unique comedy that you should check out! The film will be screened again on Thursday, February 7th at 9:30pm and on Saturday, March 2nd at 9:15pm.

Film number three for the day was the very intense PANIHIDA. Directed by Ana-Felicia Scutelnicu, the film focuses on a small village where an elderly woman has died. She is mourned and then taken to a remote cemetery, carried by her family and the other villagers. However the the journey to the cemetery is long and hard, which makes it even more difficult.

The film was preceded by a short entitled ANOTHER CHRISTMAS. It's about a little boy who lives with his grandmother, who watches him while his parents work out of the country. When the whole family is reunited on Christmas Day, the young boy doesn't really know who his parents are. It's quite a sad, little short.

PANIHIDA was a very interesting film to watch. While it looks and shot like a documentary, it's actually a narrative film. It's beautifully photographed; capturing the tranquility of the Moldovan village and the surrounding landscapes. It does contain a touch of humor, but it is also a very heavy film to watch; dealing with death, loss, and a funeral ritual that takes its toll on all those involved. Defiantly worth your time! The film will be screened again on Thursday, February 7th at 7:30pm and on Saturday, March 9th at 1:45pm. Also check out the film's official Facebook page at

After seeing that film, I had to see something more light-hearted, upbeat, and full of life. So the fourth film I saw was called THE SAPPHIRES. Directed by Wayne Blair and set mostly in Australia, the movie is about four Aboriginal girls who get a chance at the end of the Sixties to go entertain the troops as a singing group in Vietnam. Managing them is down and out musician Dave (played by Chris O'Dowd from BRIDSMAIDS). Things go great for the girls, however once they arrive in Vietnam, they all experience love and witness the horrors of war.

Adapted from the stage play written by writer/actor Tony Briggs, the film is inspired by the true story about four extraordinary Aboriginal women; sisters Laurel Robinson, Lois Peeler and their cousins Beverley Briggs and Naomi Mayers. Blair actually starred in the stage production, which made him the obvious choice for directing the film version. All four actresses are fantastic in the film, bring so much humor and attitude. Words cannot express just how mush I enjoyed this film! With it colorful and funny characters, a solid script, great directing and acting, the film was a very welcomed surprise! Now unfortunately, today was the only day that the movie was screened. However, the film has been picked up for distribution by The Weinstein Company. So look for this film coming to a theater near you on March 22nd! To learn more about the film, visit both official websites at and

The fifth and final movie I saw today was the amazing documentary FAR OUT ISN'T FAR ENOUGH: THE TOMI UNGERER STORY. The film chronicles the astonishing life of the renegade artist: from his to traumatizing youth to surviving the Nazis to becoming a world famous children's book author and maverick illustrator. Told using old 8mm film footage, personal and family pictures, newspaper articles, and his own words, the life of Tomi Ungerer is a story that really is unbelievable!

It's hard to believe that as a young child, I use to read the books by Tomi Ungerer and to hear him tell the astonishing story of his life in his own words truly is inspiring! This man had a very hard life, especially when he was a small boy growing up. I really enjoyed this documentary for this one simple reason: be true to yourself and following your dream, because dreams really do come true! A very powerful, humorous, and inspirational documentary!! The film will be sown again on Sunday, March 4th at 11:15am and again on Thursday, March 8th at 11am. Also make sure to visit the film's official website at

What a fun-filled second day at Cinequest! So far I've seen six films already! Remember the festival will be running till March 10th so there's plenty of time for you to join in on the fun here in San Jose! To view the festival's film schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Phil attends the CINEQUEST 23 Opening Night Extravaganza-February 26, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come! Tonight was the opening night of the Cinequest Film Festival here in Downtown San Jose! Once again yours truly is covering this momentous event, and like last year, I am expecting to see some of the very best in independent, foreign, and documentaries here for the next thirteen days! Once again I got to see some old friends like my good friend and fellow blogger Jason Wiener from Jason Watches Movies as well as Christopher Garcia, Elisabeth Evens, Terra Wood-Taylor, Michael Rabehl, Melanie Frosty and a few others. This year's festival I hope to once again make new friends and new memories. And I am hoping to break my record from last year, which was 56 screenings in thirteen days! My goal for this year's festival is 60 screenings so let's see if i can pull this off!

The opening night was held once again at the beautiful California Theatre on South First Street. There was the traditional red carpet with numerous filmmakers talking about their films to the press and posing for the cameras. Soon I found my way to the front row where Jason and our good friend Roy from the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum was saving me a seat. Around 7 o'clock the lights slowly dimmed and the show began!

Cinequest director and co-founder and Halfdan Hussey came out and greeted everyone and thanked all out sponsors, especially HP, Sony, AT&T U-Verse, and the City of San Jose. He then screened this year's festival trailer that will be shown before each screening, which was made by the talented folks over at Guerilla Wanderers. After that, Halfdan introduced Art Alive Gallery's painted models to the stage, as well as Michelle Vennard, owner of Birkram Yoga San Jose. She and some of her fellow yoga practitioners demonstrated the beauty and grace of yoga. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed by this! After that, Halfdan once again welcomed back NBC Bay Area News Meteorologist Christina Loren to introduce the festival's opening film GINGER AND ROSA.
Alice Englert & Elle Fanning in GINGER & ROSA.
The film takes place in London, 1962, and focuses on the friendship of two girls: Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert). Best friends since birth, the two are inseparable as they journey through life together: they stay out late, meet with boys, discuss religion, iron out their hair, rebel against their mother's dull domestic lives, and groove to some very hip records. However, with the Cuban Missile Crisis threatening to annihilate the world, Ginger becomes an activist while Rosa falls into the arms of a man that Ginger is very close to. As the film's tagline says, "Friendship pulled them together. Love tore them apart."Also appearing in the film are Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, and Oliver Platt.

The film was beautifully directed by Sally Potter, of ORLANDO, THE MAN WHO CRIED, and YES fame. The look of the film was that of a dream-like state: amazing compositions, mostly hand held camerawork that is very reminiscent of the European films from that era, and minimal dialogue, which gives the film at times a silent film quality, letting the images tell the story. Potter really focuses on the human aspect, displaying the themes and events of 1962's London while demonstrating the deep and powerful bond between two teenage girls.

Elle Fanning (SOMEWHERE, SUPER 8, and WE BOUGHT A ZOO) is just superb to watch in the film. She brought depth, innocence and and sympathy to her role. She introduces Ginger teenage love and rebellion while simultaneously being forced to comprehend that the world might end tomorrow. The Cuban Missile Crisis nearly brought the United States to war with the now former Soviet Union. What makes the film interesting is to witness how it affected other people from other countries. Ginger becomes fearful; culminating with the desire to help change the world, even though she's not entirely sure as to go about it. But she discovers that her only best friend in the world has fallen in love with the last person she suspects, her whole world comes crashing down, thus causing her so much grief she cannot deal with it. Once again a fantastic performance by Fanning!

The film is very relatable, especially those who grew up during this turbulent time. For myself, it was very reminiscent of my growing up in the 1980's, when the Cold War between the US and Russia was escalating. The days when we would hide underneath our desks, like these drills would save us from nuclear annihilation. If anything the film proves that history does repeat itself, sometimes with horrific results. Let's hope the next generation doesn't have to deal with the same fear as I had to.

After the screening, we all headed over to the lavish after party, which was held over at the Silicon Valley Athletic Club, where they was plenty to eat, drink, and music to dance to! Food was catered by Black Tie Desserts and Fine Catering. Some of the tasty desserts were provided by Psycho Donuts ans Jen's Cakes! Drinks were provided by Tito's Vodka and Stella Artois!! Friends, filmmakers, fans partied till the wee hours in the morning! It was so much fun!
GINGER & ROSA was an absolutely riveting and powerful film to watch! It was the perfect film to kick off Cinequest 23! Now you can partake in this very important film festival event. To view film schedules, information about the festival, and to purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Phil sees SOUND CITY at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-February 21, 2013

When you hear the name Dave Grohl, you stop and think of all the things that this man has done. He was the drummer for Nirvana, of the most important rock bands of all time. When lead singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide and Nirvana disbanded, he went on to form the Foo Fighters, started his own record label Roswell Records, won multiple Grammy Awards, played with numerous rock stars, and has become one of the most popular rock stars of all time. Now he has added another credit to his already impressive resume: filmmaker. His directorial debut film SOUND CITY, a documentary about the legendary Los Angeles recording studio.

The film traces the existence of the building called Sound City Studios, which was located in the San Fernando Valley, and the heart of the studio: the Neve 8028 analog mixing console. The list of artists and musicians who have recorded there reads like a who's who in rock 'n' roll: Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, War, REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Tom Petty, Pat Benatar, Rick Springfield, Santana, Fear, Ronnie James Dio, Ratt, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, The Black Crowes, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Queens of the Stone Age, Slipknot, Bad Religion, Nine Inch Nails, Kid Rock, and Metallica. Through interviews with a majority of these artists as well as producers like Rick Ruben and Butch Vig, the film focuses on the amazing history of the studio, on all the albums recorded there, the human element of music in an age of technology, and feature performances from many of the artists that called it "home."

The idea for the film came about when Dave Grohl purchased the Neve 8028 analog mixing console when the studio closed in 2011. Grohls' personal interest started in 1991 when Nirvana came to Sound City Studios when it was in dire straits. After the release of Nevermind, the studio became popular again. However with the release of Pro Tools and home recording becoming more digital, the studio became obsolete. Grohl stated in the documentary that that mixing board was the reason he's where he's at and wanted to re-create that human factor that's been missing in music. He then called many artists to collaborate on a new album and using the old Neve mixing board. In the film we see Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Rick Springfield, Lee Ving from Fear, and in the last 20 minutes of the film, we see one of the most amazing collaborations of all time: Sir Paul McCartney from The Beatles making music with the surviving members of Nirvana!!

Grohl's debut film is a love letter to one of the most important studios of all time. Aiding him on the film was editor Paul Crowder (DOGTOWN AND Z BOYS, RIDING GIANTS) and writer Mark Monroe (THE TILLMAN STORY, THE COVE). The end result is just fantastic! Distributing the film is Roswell Films, a division of the Roswell Records label that releases all of the Foo Fighters album.

Growing up in the late 1970's and all of the 1980's, I use to listen to the radio and all this amazing music that I loved to listen to, a majority of them were recorded at this one studio. It really boggles the mind as to how many classic and influential albums were made at Sound City Studios. I really don't know why Los Angeles didn't make it a registered landmark because of its importance to the music industry. It should be a museum right now. It should still be here. At least we have not only the music, but now we have this film.

SOUND CITY is one of my favorite documentaries so far this year! It's a history lesson of how and why music need to retain its human element and how one studio, and one mixing board, changed the landscape of the music industry. 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

SOUND CITY is currently playing in select theaters nationwide. To see where it's playing, visit the film's official website at Also make sure you all like the film's Facebook page and follow the film on Twitter! The film is also available on Video On Demand, so check your local cable provider to order it.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Phil's Horror Watch: Phil reviews TICKS (1993) Blu-Ray from Olive Films-February 20, 2013

TICKS Blue-Ray Cover (2013)
Starring: Seth Green, Ami Dolnez, Alfonso Ribeiro, Rosalind Allen, Clint Howard, Virginya Keehne, Ray Oriel, Peter Scolari, Dina Dayrit, Michael Medeiros
Written by Brent V. Friedman 
Cinematographer: Steve Grass
Line Producer: Gary Schmoeller
Producer: Gary Schmoeller
Executive Producer: Brian Yuzna
Directed by Tony Randel
Production Company: First Look Pictures
Originally released by Republic Pictures
Distributed by Olive Films

Hello again horror hounds and welcome back to another installment of Phil's Horror Watch! If you've paying close attention, you'll notice a huge abundance of horror films being released on both Blu-Ray and DVD. Majority of these titles are older films, mostly from the 1980s-1990s. I recently picked up a Blu-Ray of a film that I have not seen in over 15 years. I had the film originally on VHS, but I'm very happy to inform you all that the long, lost, and overlooked horror film TICKS is finally receiving a proper release finally after all these years.

The film's official synopsis: A group of problem teens in Los Angeles join an inner-city wilderness project in an attempt to get back in touch with life's priorities, led by do-gooders Holly and Charles (Rosalind Allen and Peter Scolari respectively). When they get to the campsite, they begin having problems adjusting to the wild life, particularly local marijuana growers using herbal steroids to accelerate plant growth, and the mutated ticks that the leaky steroid system has created. These over-sized mutant ticks-with an insatiable lust for human flesh-start terrorizing the campground, eating the campers and else in sight.

Original VHS Box Cover (1993)
The film features an impressive cast of who's who. You have lead actor Seth Green portraying timid Tyler Burn. Green is known for playing Oz in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, the voice of Chris Griffin from Family Guy, Scottie Evil from the AUSTIN POWERS Trilogy, and the mastermind Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken. Ami Dolnez (as the stuck-up Dee Dee Davenport) is the daughter on Monkees drummer Micky Dolnez and has been in films like MIRACLE BEACH, WITCHBOARD 2: THE DEVIL'S DOORWAY and PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS. Portraying street thug Darrel 'Panic' Lumley is Alfonso Ribeiro, who's famous for appearing as Alfonso Spears on Silver Spoons in the 1980's and Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the 1990's. Peter Scolari starred opposite Tom Hanks in the 1980's television series Bosom Buddies. And last, but not least, there's genre icon Clint Howard, who has appeared in numerous horror and cult classic films like ROCK'N'ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, GRAND THEFT AUTO, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PARTS 4 & 5, ICE CREAM MAN, and Rob Zombie's 2007 remake of HALLOWEEN. Tony Randell is famous for directing the films HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, and AMITYVILLE 1992: IT'S ABOUT TIME.

The film also has some excellent special effects, especially pertaining to the freaking looking, mutated ticks. Special visual effects supervisor Doug Beswick boasts on of the most impressive resumes in Hollywood, having worked on films like STAR WARS: EPISODE V-THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (stop motion technician: miniature and optical effects unit), EVIL DEAD 2 (stop motion animation, BEETLEJUICE (visual effects: sandworm sequence), and BLADE (3D animation supervisor: Flat Earth Productions). The ticks look so real in the film that many fans have parised its realism. Long before CGI, these ticks a combination robotics and puppets. That's how it was done in the old days kids.

Olive Films, a theatrical and home video distributor that's releasing a number of excellent classic/older films licensed from Paramount Pictures/Republic Pictures, have done a fantastic job with this release. The film is once again in the anamorphic widescreen (the old VHS was in the standard TV format) and looks great. There are some minor pixel noise in some of the scenes, but overall the picture quality is top notch. The film also features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track and everything little noise in the film is heard perfectly clear. The only special feature offered is an audio commentary by Tony Randell and co-star Clint Howard. It would've been nice to have the film's trailer added, but given that the film was made so long ago, I'm just happy to see it finally re-released.

In conclusion, TICKS is an genuine, low budget, horror cult classic that deserves to be rediscovered! Thanks to Olive Films, fans of the film can once again relive the mayhem and carnage while new horror fans can watch it for the very first time! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

TICKS is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD and can be purchased at your local retailer as well as the Olive Films website. To purchase a copy, please visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Phil sees THE OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORT FILMS 2013 program at the Camera 3-February 17, 2013.

With the Oscars right around the corner, I finally got around to see THE OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORT FILMS program at the Camera 3 here in Downtown San Jose. The great thing about the Camers 3 is that right in the lobby there's Psycho Donuts, the home to some very tasty and original donuts. After picking up some, I made my way inside the theatre to see this year's nominees.

The program was hosted by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, who were OSCAR winners in 2012 with their animated short film THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE. In between shorts, the duo talked about their short, winning the OSCAR, and the film projects they have worked on since. And the nominees are:

The Longest Daycare (dir. David Silverman, USA/English, 5 minutes) -- Maggie Simpson spends a day at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center where she is diagnosed at an average intelligence level. Longing to be grouped with the gifted children, Maggie finds her destiny by rescuing a lonely cocoon from Baby Gerald, who is busy smooshing butterflies.

Adam & Dog (dir. Minkyu Lee, USA/non-dialogue, 16 minutes) -- The story about the dog of Eden. What happened in those first days of Creation that made Man and Dog so inseparable? The dog, as he lives through this curious world, encounters a strange creature; a human being named Adam - and with that discovers a new found connection to the world.

Fresh Guacamole (dir. PES, USA/English, 2 minutes) -- An unseen cook uses a series of unusual ingredients to prepare a bowl of guacamole.

Head Over Heels (dirs. Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly, UK/English, 11 minutes) --After many years of marriage, Walter and Madge have grown apart: he lives on the floor and she lives on the ceiling. When Walter discovers a long-lost memento of their wedding day, he tries to reignite their old romance. But it brings their equilibrium crashing down, and the couple that can't agree which way is up must find a way to put their marriage back together.

Paperman (dir. John Kahrs, USA/English, 7 minutes) -- Paperman follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him. This short film was originally screened before WRECK-IT RALPH during its theatrical release.

In the program, they also showed three Highly Commended shorts:

Abiogenesis (dir. Richard Mans, New Zealand/non-dialogue, 5 minutes) -- In this breathtaking science fiction spectacle, a strange mechanical device lands on a desolate world and uses the planet to undergo a startling transformation, that has profound implications for an entire galaxy.

Dripped (dir. Léo Verrier, France/French, 9 minutes) -- Jack is a strange character. He steals paintings from museums to eat them. He feeds himself with the artistic process of the painter. But one day, the museums are closed and he will have to paint by himself to survive.

The Gruffalo's Child (dir. Uwe Heidschötter & Johannes Weiland, UK/Germany/ English, 27 minutes) -- A little Gruffalo ignores her father's warnings and tiptoes out into the snow in search of the Big Bad Mouse. The short features the voices of Helena Bonham Carter, Shirley Henderson, Robbie Coltrane, Rob Brydon, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, and James Corden.

This year's competition looks to be fierce. All these animated short films were outstanding! It really is a toss up in my opinion! So if you want to see who wins, make sure you check out the OSCARS this Sunday! Check your local cable provider to see which station the OSCARS is on! Until then, you cane still check out THE OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORT FILMS program at the Camera 3, but it ends this Thursday, February 21st! To view their showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees WARM BODIES at the Camera 12 Downtown San Jose-February 17,2013

So there were some chick flicks and romantic comedies that came out around Valentine's Day. Since I was so busy this past weekend, I didn't have time to see them all. I know, shocking huh? However I did see one film that caught my eye. So on Sunday I headed on down to the Camera 12 to see the romantic/teen/zombie/comedy film WARM BODIES.

Version "A" Poster.
Meet R (Nicholas Hoult). He's a zombie, but he's not your typical zombie. He's very introspective, trying to figure out who he is and whatnot. He sometimes hangs out with his only friend M (Rob Corddry). While out looking for food with his zombie pack, R meets Julie Grigio (Teresa Palmer) and a group of her friends in an abandoned building. After killing her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) and eating his brains, R rescues Julie and takes her back to his place (an airplane at the airport) to keep her safe. The two begin to form a bond, which makes R fell alive again, literally, and it soon affects the other zombies as well. But when they're being chased by a horde of living skeletal zombies (also known as Bonies), they must reach the barricade city in hopes that Julie's military father Gen. Grigio (John Malkovich) will aid them to defeat the army of Bonies and not kill R in the process.

Version "B" Poster.
Based on Isaac Marion's novel of the same name, the film was written and directed by Jonathan Levine, the man responsible for making the films ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANY LANE (2006), THE WACKNESS (2008), and 50/50 (2011). Levine changes the tone of the film from the book, giving it more light heartiness and more laughs. The film focuses on the romance between R and Julie, which creates some very funny and memorable laughs. When they're surrounded by zombies, he tell her to pretend she's one. When she does her imitation, complete with Romero-esque grunting and groaning, he whispers to her, "Too much." Another interesting aspect of the film is that a zombie is our protagonist, and we get to hear his inner thoughts. Who knew zombies could think? Again, Levine finds just the right balance of love, comedy, and bloodshed.

Version "C" Poster.
Actor Nicholas Hoult does a great job of playing a teen angst ridden zombie. Some of you out there might recognize him from such films as CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010), X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011) and he'll be staring in the upcoming film JACK THE GIANT SLAYER. Believe it or not, Hoult and other zombie actors practiced with circus performers to achieve the right body moves. Talk about taking their roles seriously! Teresa Palmer has appeared in numerous films like THE GRUDGE 2 (2006), DECEMBER BOYS (2007), BEDTIME STORIES (2008), THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE (2010), and I AM NUMBER FOUR (2011). Both Palmer and Hoult have great on-screen chemistry, which makes the audience feel sympathetic to them and their cause. We are rooting for this 21st Century Romeo and Juliet to cross the finish line and live happily ever after.

Version "D" Poster.
For those of you who may not know this, but horror films have always carried some sort of social commentary that relates to the time to which they were filmed in. Don't believe me? Well then, let me drop some film knowledge on you. Vampire films such as DRACULA and NOSFERATU pray upon our anxieties about sex, disease and death. FRANKENSTEIN and THE GOLEM provokes unanswerable questions about the origins of man and the existence of God himself. DR. JEKEL & MR. HYDE and THE WOLFMAN deals with human nature's darker, more violent side. George Romero's LIVING DEAD films have provoked the issues of civil rights, comparing consumers to zombies, military paranoia, and so forth. HALLOWEEN emphasizes that the killer could very well be your next door neighbor. Need I say more? So in the case of WARM BODIES, you have several different messages within the frames.

Version "E" Poster.
First being is never judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, just because he's a zombie doesn't mean he's going to eat your brains. The second message is that we all strive to become a better person. Just because your labeled as this or that, it shouldn't define who you are and who you want to become. There's also the message of tolerance and accepting those who are different than you. Through this we have the capability to change and reshape our future. And the last, and most obvious, message is that love knows no boundaries. Whether your white, black, brown, gay, straight, bi-sexual or whatever you are, love is not prejudice. This topic has sparked a great many debates, especially regarding gay marriage. I for one believe in equality, and I support gay marriage. If two people have found that special someone and they want to spend the rest of their lives together, then let them! Tolerance and understanding can help bridge the gap of ignorance and bring people together.

So to wrap this up, WARM BODIES is this year's great date film! If you're looking for a clever, funny, witty, sweet and entertaining zombie-filled, romantic comedy, then you must see this film! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

WARM BODIES is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Phil attends the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's Silent Winter Event at the Castro Theatre-February 16, 2013

Hello again my faithful readers! This past Saturday I attended the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's Silent Winter Event at the historic Castro Theatre! This one-day event was once again attended by silent film fans from all over the world! Upon arriving at the theatre I saw several of my fellow film bloggers. First person I saw was the lovely Ms. Marya E. Gates from Cinema Fanatic. Then I saw Lara Gabrielle, who's amazing film bog Backlots is one of my favorite blogs to read and follow. And finally I ran into my partner-in-crime Jason Wiener, the mastermind behind the film blog Jason Watches Movies. After saying hello to some of my other friends, I made my way to the front of the theatre to take in a day's worth of silent movie magic.

Marguerite Clark as the beautiful SNOW WHITE (1916)
The first film screened was SNOW WHITE (1916). Starring Marguerite Clark as Snow White, the film is based more on the stage production rather than the Grimm Brothers story. In fact, Clack starred as Snow White on the theater stage. It is well known that a 15-year-old Walt Disney was inspired by this silent film and is in many ways similar to the classic 1937 Disney version than one might think. Walt re-used several of the film's scenes for his film, such as Snow White looking through the window of the dwarf's home and seeing Grumpy being washed in a barrel. While the names of the dwarfs are different and the queen and the witch are two different characters, the film on the whole was fun and entertaining to watch. The film was produced by the Famous Players Film Company and distributed by Paramount Pictures on December 25, 1916. The musical accompaniment was provided by Donald Sosin on the grand piano.

Buster Keaton & Sybil Seely in ONE WEEK (1920)
The second program of the day was THINK SLOW, ACT FAST: BUSTER KEATON SHORTS. Keaton was on of the "Big Three" comics of the silent film era (the other two were Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd) and these three shorts demonstrate his comedic genius perfectly. The first short screened was ONE WEEK (1920): Buster and Sybil Seely play newlyweds that attempts to build a do-it-yourself house kit. However her jealous ex sabotages the kit's component numbering, thus the house is less than perfect when completed! THE SCARECROW (1920) pits Keaton and his roommate Joe Roberts against one another for the heart of the farmer's daughter (Sybil Seely once again). The opening gags of Keaton and Roberts in their one room cottage is hilarious! THE PLAYHOUSE (1921) has one of the most amazing opening sequences in silent film history! Keaton plays everyone in a theatre simultaneously (through multiple exposures). He's the band leader, all its members, the dancers on the stage and everyone in the audience! Keaton achieved this trick solely in the camera, long before there was CGI or the use of green screen! It truly is a sight to behold! On the grand piano for these program was once again Donald Sosin.

Douglas Fairbanks in THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924)
The third film screened was the astounding THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924) starring the great Douglas Fairbanks. The isn't anything I can say about the film that hasn't already been said since its release. Boasting large, extravagant sets over six acres of land and a cast of thousands, this is one of the greatest and finest silent films ever made. Fairbanks literally leaps of the screen! Hard to believe that the man was 40 years old when he made the film! Also making an appearance in the film is Anna May Wong. Fairbanks produced the film himself and was released by United Artists (which he formed along with Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith) on March 23, 1924. The musical accompaniment was provided by the great Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

Mary Pickford in MY BEST GIRL (1927)
Film number four for the day was MY BEST GIRL (1927) starring America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford in her last silent film ever! In the film Mary portrays stockroom girl Maggie Johnson, who falls in love with fellow employee Joe Grant (Charles 'Buddy' Rogers). However Joe is actually Joe Merrill, son of the millionaire owner of a chain of 5 and 10 cent stores. It was during the making of the film that both Mary and Buddy fell in love and you can see it on the screen. A charming, sweet, and funny romantic comedy, the film was produced by Pickford herself and distributed by United Artists on October 31, 1927. Musical accompaniment was provided by Donald Sosin on the grand piano.

Emil Jannings as Mephisto in FAUST (1926)
The fifth and final film of the day was the German Expressionistic film FAUST (1926). The film follows a German alchemist by the name of Faust. As God and Satan war over Earth, the Devil preaches that he will be able to tempt Faust into darkness and so has a wager with God to settle things. Satan sends Mephisto to Earth to offer Faust an end to the plague that is making it's way through the local population, and eternal youth, in return for Faust's soul. From the same director who made such legendary and acclaimed films NOSFERATU, THE PHANTOM, and THE LAST LAUGH, the film was Murnau's last film he made in Germany before fleeing to the United States. Here we see the ultimate battle between good and evil, and containing some of the most amazing visuals and art direction to appear in a silent film, Murnau raised the bar very high for other films to follow. The film was released by Universum Film AG (better known simply as UFA) in Germany on September 14, 1926. It was released here in America on December 6, 1927. Providing the musical score was Christian Elliot on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

And folks there you have it! What a fun-filled day of silent movie watching! Now if missed out this event, pay close attention. During the event, the SF Silent Film Festival announced that they will be having a special presentation called THE HITCHCOCK 9, featuring all nine silent films that the Master of Suspence Alfred Hitchcock's made! This special event will take place at the Castro Theatre on June 14th-16th! Tickets for this event is on sale now so buy them before it sells out! To purchase tickets, and to learn more about the SF Silent Film Festival, and how to become a member, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees WEST OF MEMPHIS at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-February 15, 2013

Recently I was asked my a friend of mine that, besides horror and exploitation films, what are some of my other favorite film genres. I quickly responded without hesitation documentaries. These films must deal with the truth and can have the power to change things; open the eyes to those who may not know what is happening in the world around them. They teach us the past, what's happening in the present, and how we can reshape our future. They also shed light on the hypocrisy of the world and the injustice that still to this day plague our society. Case in point, the new documentary film WEST OF MEMPHIS shows us how a horrible crime lead to the incarciration three innocent young men.

In 1993, the bodies of Christopher Byers, Steven Branch, and Michael Moore were found viciously beaten and murdered in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas. Less than a year later, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin were convicted of the crime, even though the prosecution's evidence was feeble and speculative at best. Almost 18 years later, the three wrongfully convicted men still claim their innocence and fight to overturn the injustices that have destroyed the larger part of their lives.

In 1993, while attending college, I had heard of the murders and the subsequent witch hunt and trial. For the past almost two decades, the West Memphis Three has been a part of my life as well as with most people in my generation. A lot of people who didn't know what had happened soon learned about them courtesy of filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. In 1996, their documentary PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS made the public aware of the West Memphis 3 and brought media attention to them, shedding light on the injustice that was handed down. Two more documentaries followed: PARADISE LOST 2: REVELATIONS and PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY. Soon artists and filmmakers were lending support for their freedom.

WEST OF MEMPHIS was directed by Amy J. Berg, known best for her Academy Award-nominated documentary 2006 film DELIVER US FROM EVIL about the sex abuse cases in Roman Catholic Church and an abusive native Irish priest Oliver O'Grady. It was produced by Damien Echols (one of the West Memphis Three) and filmmaker Peter Jackson (LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY, THE HOBBIT) Amy acknowledges the PARADISE LOST films almost immediately and mentions them throughout the film, but most of the film is her own voice: allowing the film to show the investigation, research and appeals process in a way that has never been seen before; revealing shocking and disturbing new information about a case that still haunts the American South.

Those who were part of the trial were interviewed as well as celebrities such as Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks, and Peter Jackson himself. But an interesting individual to watch for in the film is Terry Hobbs, stepfather of Steve Branch. I don't want to include any spoilers in this review, but after viewing the film, one has to wonder....

Overall WEST OF MEMPHIS is a powerful, riveting, and unflinching examination of our justice system. It brings to light the travesty that transpired 18 years ago when three innocent teenagers were found guilty of a crime they didn't commit. This is why I love watching documentaries and this is one that you all need to see! 5 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended!!

WEST OF MEMPHIS is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, including at the Camera 3 here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil hosts the Cult Movie Screening of THE CROW at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-February 14, 2013

Hello again everybody and welcome to the 2013 season of the Cult Movie series at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose! Now for those of you who are late to the game, let me explain this cool series. In 2011 the Camera Cinemas started up the Cult Movie series (which for years had been called the Midnight Movie series). They would show one cult film twice a month (Thursday nights at 9:30 and Saturday nights at midnight) from February through November. Tonight was the new season of the series and we screened the 1994 cult film THE CROW, starring the late Brandon Lee, the son of Martial Arts legend Bruce Lee. Once again yours truly was back as the host for tonight's screening. Prizes were donated by Streetlight Records and by Time Tunnel Toys, both located here in San Jose. There were also yummy donuts to eat, courtesy of Psycho Donuts located in the lobby.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1994)
Based on the comic book series by James O'Bar, the film is about a young rock musician named Eric Draven (Lee), who along with his fiancée Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) are murdered by a vicious gang consisting of knife thrower Tin-tin (Laurence Mason), drugetic Funboy (Michael Massee), car buff T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly), and the unsophisticated Skank (Angel David). One year, Eric is resurrected and with the help of a crow, he extracts revenge that caused the death of him and Shelly. However when crime lord Top Dollar (Michael Wincott) learns about Eric, he along with his sister Myca (Bai Ling) and his right-hand man Grange (Tony Todd) learn the legend of the crow and the secret to the vigilante's invincibility. Aiding Eric are his friends, 13 year-old Sarah (Rochelle Davis) and Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson).

The film was directed by Alex Proyas (DARK CITY, GARAGE DAYS, and I, ROBOT) written by David J. Schow and John Shirley. Right from the start of production, a series of horroble events took place. During the first day of shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina, a carpenter suffered severe burns after his crane hit live power lines. On subsequent days, a grip truck caught fire, a disgruntled sculptor crashed his car through the studio's plaster shop, and a crew member accidentally drove a screwdriver through his hand. The media dubbed it, "The Curse of the Crow." However, no one could have predicted of what came next.

On March 31, 1993, at EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina, Brandon Lee suffered an accidental gunshot wound on the set of the film. He was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, where he died about 12 hours later, at 1:04 p.m. There were only eight days left of shooting to be completed. Sofia Shinas, who had witnessed the accident, did not want to continue and went home to Los Angeles. The rest of the cast stayed to finish the film. Michael Massee was so upset over his involvement in the death of Lee that he stopped acting for an entire year. He has never seen the film to this day.

Linda Lee Cadwell, the widow of Bruce Lee and mother of Brandon Lee, filed a negligence case against producer Edward R. Pressman, actor Michael Massee and 12 other defendants over the death of her son on-set. She settled out of court to the tune of $3 million. The footage of his death was subsequently developed and used as evidence in the investigation into his death. As part of the lawsuit settlement, the footage was later destroyed.

The film was released by Mirmax Films on May 11, 1994. it opened at #1 with $11,774,332 in its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $50,693,129 in the states and then $94,000,000 worldwide. THE CROW would be remembered as Brandon Lee's greatest role as well as his last performance.

This was a fun night and a great intro to the new season of the Cult Movie Series. Now like I said, the Camera 3 will be showing one cult classic film every month from now till November. Next month we'll be screening the children's adventure classic THE GOONIES so make plans to attend that screening! To view their upcoming schedule, visit the Camera Cinemas website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends a special screening of WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE hosted by Peaches Christ with special guest Heather Matarazzo live in-person at the Castro Theatre-February 8, 2013

Greetings and salutations from San Francisco! This past Friday night I had the honor to cover the first Peaches Christ show of 2013! Taking place during the SF SketchFest, the film for the evening was director Todd Solondz's 1995 indie cult hit WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE. Making this event even more special, Peaches had actress Heather Matarazzo in the house! Another factor that made this show even more special was that my very good friend/make-up artist extraordinaire Michelle Snyder joined me for the screening! Not only this was her first Peaches Christ show, but her visit to the Castro Theatre! After having dinner at my favorite spot Orphan Andy's, we made our way inside to take in the show!

Finding seats in the middle of the second row, Michelle and I were treated to a spectacular opening show! The house rock band Zbörnak performed for the audience while Peaches herself stuck a pose on stage, imitating Heather's pose on the poster. Soon she was swaying back and forth to the music, and then her cast came out to perform scenes from the film. Once again it was fantastic, filled with rambunctious humor and good fun!

After the performance, Peaches welcomed the sold out crowd and then brought up Heather Matarazzo! The audience went absolutely crazy! They were standing on their feet, cheering and screaming at the top of their lungs! Heather and Peaches cozied up on stage and had a great interview. Heather recalled what was it like working with Todd Solondz, the film's impact on her life and career, her coming out, plus her future projects she's currently working on! 

After the interview it was time for the big costume contest! Peaches appointed Heather as the judge for the contest and this was no easy tack by any means. There were some great costumes, but the lucky winner was couple Amie and Aaron, who dressed up as Dawn Wiener and Brandon McCarthy respectively. After that, it was time for the movie!

Original Theatrical Poster (1995)
In the film Heather portrays Dawn, a painfully awkward 13 year old girl who not only has to contend with being ostracized and friendless at school (they taunt her and call her names like ;Dog-Face' or 'Wiener-Dog' or 'Lesbo'), but is essentially ignored and treated with disdain at home as well. Being the middle child is obviously not the easiest thing to deal with within the family dynamic, but when your older brother (Matthew Faber) is the "King of the Nerds" and your little sister (Daria Kalinina) is a gorgeous ballet-dancing cherub who commands total devotion from her mother, life is generally difficult for Dawn. And that's just the beginning--her life seems to be falling apart when she faces rejection from the older guy in her brother's band that she has a crush on, her parents want to tear down her 'Special People's Club' clubhouse, her sister is abducted, and the school's resident troublemaker wants to rape her! Yup, poor 'ol Dawn has it rough!

Todd Solondz crafted an anti-coming of age story. Where as Hollywood has its own version of this classic tale, Solondz's take on it is more realistic: from the bullying to the middle child syndrome, the neglectful parents and the isolatation are just some of the issues that he has placed in Dawn's life. Believe it or not, this was Heather's first movie role ever! Not only that, she never had any acting lessons and was only 13 years old when she made the film! Her performance in the film is just staggering! You cannot take your eyes off her, therefore we are forced to journey along with her Dawn as she attempts to survive junior high! The film was distributed by Sony Pictures Classics and released to theaters on May 24, 1996.

Both Michelle and I had a blast at the show! Once again Peaches outdid herself with this event! And there's plenty more fun ahead! Peaches will be back at the Castro Theatre on March 9th at 8pm for the screening of the documentary PARIS IS BURNING! The film is one of the greatest documentaries in queer cinema history! This is one show that you do not want to miss! Also if you are interested in becoming a fan of Peaches Christ, or want to purchase ticket for her next show, visit her website at And don't forget to follow her on Facebook and Twitter! And for all you Heather Matarazzo fans out there, don't forget to follower her on Facebook and Twitter as well!

To view the Castro Theater's film schedule, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Phil attends the midnight screening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-Feb. 2, 2013

This past Saturday night my good friend Leslie and I did the Time Warp again over at the midnight screening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose! The film was presented by the Camera Cinemas, the Barley Legal production crew, and Psycho Donuts, home of the maniacal named snacks! Now what made this screening even more exciting was that this was Lingerie Night because of Valentine's Day being this month! Yup, 'twas going to be a very fun night!

The Camera 3's lobby was packed full of people, mostly young teenagers and college students, and some of them have never been to a midnight ROCKY screening before! Mmmmm.......I smell virgins! My only real complaint was that their wasn't enough ladies in lingerie! Well, besides the cast and Leslie! Tee-hee!!

After the theater was filled, the show began! As always, our host Nate McHavoc was our emcee (and Riff Raff) for this special Lingerie Night show. He had all the virgins come up and do the butt dance (there were A LOT of virgins), and then sent everyone under 18 years old back to their seats. After picking out six victims....uh.....virgins....Nate subjected them to his embarrassing games and we all had a big laugh at their expense! It was awesome!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1975)
There isn't anything that I can say that hasn't already been said. The film is talked about in books and periodicals, referenced in movies and TV shows, and I dare you to find anyone who doesn't know how to do the Time Warp dance. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE has become part of the American Lexicon of cult films, a film that to this day, is the longest running theatrical released film in Hollywood history. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is the alpha and omega of midnight movie; a cult classic that has no real equal. The film is in a class all by itself, far ahead of its time. The film was a bomb when it was first released. Now, it is part of the Library of Congress' National Film Registry. The film's message of "Don't dream it. Be it." has had a major influence on those who are different, the outcasts if you will. It resonates and has inspired many who felt that they didn't belong. Artists, punks, gays, lesbians, movie maniacs, college students, and everyone in between. It speaks to us all to not give up on hope and to not give up on ourselves and to keep following our passions in life! Also the film is just one of the best films ever made! After 36 years, the film continues to play in theaters, and it is playing every month at the Camera 3!

So another great midnight screening has come and gone. But don't fret, the Barely Legal crew will be back in San Jose next month. They put on shows all over Northern California, so no matter where you live, there will be a show near you. So what are you waiting for? Come out next Saturday and join in on all this ROCKY HORROR fun! You'll be glad you did! To learn more about future shows, and how you can become a cast member, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Phil attends MARY PICKFORD SHORT FILM NIGHT at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-February 2, 2013

Mary Pickford (1892-1979)
It's been far to long since I've visited my friends over at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. located in the quaint Niles District in Fremont. However, Saturday's screening was a very special one. The museum was having a MARY PICKFORD SHORT FILM PROGRAM, and all the shorts were 35mm prints from the Library of Congress. Another cool bonus was that Christel Schmidt was on hand to talk about the short films and to autograph her new book Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies. After having dinner at my favorite Niles eatery Broncho Billy Pizza Palace, I made my way over to the museum to spend the night with America's Sweetheart.

After saying hi to all my friends at the museum, the night began with Christel welcoming the sold out crowd to the show! She informed the audience that they would be seeing a total of seven shorts with her talking about the films as well as about Mary Pickford's career.

SWEET AND TWENTY (1909): Mary stars as Alice, who jumps to the wrong conclusion when she sees her boyfriend Frank (Billy Quirk) kissing her sister (Florence Lawrence). Upset about losing Alice, he tells her he's going to drown himself, but Alice runs off and stops him and they kiss and make up. It's a cute little film, with Mary showing signs of greatness. The film was directed buy the legendary D.W. Griffith for the Biograph Company and released on July 22, 1909.

THEY WOULD ELOPE (1909): Another D.W. Griffith short film, Mary stars as Bessie. She and her boyfriend Harry (Billy Quirk once again) elope without the consent of her father (James Kirkwood). However, her father tricked them into running off, and after a series of hilarious missteps, the "happy couple" return home to have the father celebrating their marriage. Also making a cameo in the film is none other than Mack Sennett, the future Keystone Films ringmaster. Mary started off making a series of romantic comedies before becoming a dramatic actress. The Biograph Company released the film to theaters on August 9, 1909.

TRICK THAT FAILED (1909): Mary is Nellie Burt, a struggling artist whose paintings nobody wants to purchase. She tells her boyfriend Billy Hart (Arthur V. Johnson) that she can't marry until she sells her paintings. Seizing a brilliant idea, Billy asks his friend Hans Kessler (Anthony O'Sullivan) to buy them. However she soon learns the truth, and then accepts the proposal of a rival painter. Another great comedic performance by Pickford! Directed by  D.W. Griffith, Biograph released the film on November 29, 1909.

After a brief intermission, the show continued with:

Cover of Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies
THE SIMPLE CHARITY (1910): Starring Mary Pickford, W. Chrystie Miller, Kate Bruce, Edwin August, the film was directed by D.W. Griffith for the Biograph Company and released on November 10, 1910.

THE DREAM (1911): A  drunken lush husband enjoys a night out on the town and neglects his loving wife at home. When he finally comes home after an all-nighter, he mistreats her and totally disregards her love and affection. When he falls asleep, he dreams that his wife is the scandalous one and he's waiting for her at home. When he wakes up, he's a new man and loves his wife again. This was one of the first films that Mary starred in for her new employer Independent Moving Pictures (or IMP for short) and was directed by Thomas H. Ince. The film was released on January 23, 1911.

SWEET MEMORIES (1911): Polly Biblett (Pickford) is an elderly woman who looks back on her life; all the special events that happened to her as well as her dead husband. She shares these fond memories with her children and grandchildren. A sweet, touching short tha features the Pickford clan:  mother Charlotte Smith Pickford, daughter Mary Pickford, daughter Lottie Pickford, son Jack Pickford, and son-in-law Owen Moore. The film was directed by Thomas H. Ince (in 1915 he joined D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett to form the Triangle Motion Picture Company) and was released to theaters on March 27, 1911.

THE INFORMER (1912): The year 1912 marked her return to Biograph and once again making movies with D.W. Griffith. In this film Mary portrays the sweetheart of a Confederate Captain (Walter Miller), who after she's been informed that he was killed, is alive and being hunted by those damn Yankees. Soon she and her slaves are shooting at the Yankees while help is on the way. Fun fact: the child actor in the black face paint is Mary's younger brother Jack Pickford. This was a precursor to Griffith's 1915 film epic THE BIRTH OF A NATION. The film was released on November 12, 1912.

THE NEW YORK HAT (1912): Preacher Bolton (Lionel Barrymore) receives a letter from the deceased Mrs. Harding, who requests him to administer a small trust for her lovely daughter (Pickford) so she can enjoy some of the finer things in life that her father (Charles Hill Mailes) has always denied her. The pastor uses some of the trust to buy Mary a brand new hat (a New York hat) that she saw the other day. However, a group of gossip girls (not like the young girls on that TV show. These are old and prudish!) starts up the gossiping which puts Mary and the pastor at risk. This was Mary's last film for Biograph. The film was released to theaters on December 5, 1912.

And there you have it folks! An amazing night with Mary Pickford!! I got to see some really rare films, saw all my friends again, and had Christel Schmidt sign my copy of her book!! Remember the museum is open for tours every weekend from 12pm-4pm and every Saturday night there's a silent film show starting at 7:30 (doors open at 7pm). So if you would like to learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, becoming a member, and to view their film schedule, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Phil's Horror Watch: Phil reviews WHITE ZOMBIE (1932) Blu-Ray From Kino Lorber-February 3, 2013

WHITE ZOMBIE Blu-Ray Cover (2013)
Starring Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn, Robert Frazer, John Harron
Written by John Harron
Cinematography by Arthur Martinelli
Produced by Edward Halperin & Phil Goldstone
Directed by Victor Halperin
Originally released by Untied Artists
Distributed by Kino Lorber

Hello my faithful readers and welcome to Phil's Horror Watch! The purpose of this brand new series is to show all of you horror fans out there that you don't need to wait for October to watch horror movies. With the recent wave of classic and forgotten titles being released at a rapid pace, horror fans around the world can celebrate Halloween ever day! Today I will review the horror classic WHITE ZOMBIE, starring the great Bela Lugosi, which was just released by Kino Lorber as part of the "Kino Classics" label.

The film's synopsis: Young couple Madeleine (Bellamy) and Neil (Harron) are coaxed by acquaintance Monsieur Beaumont (Frazer) to get married on his Haitian plantation. Beaumont's motives are purely selfish as he makes every attempt to convince the beautiful young girl to run away with him. For help Beaumont turns to the devious 'Murder' Legendre (Lugosi), a man who runs his mill by mind controlling people he has turned into zombies. After Beaumont uses Legendre's zombie potion on Madeleine, he is dissatisfied with her emotionless being and wants her to be changed back. Legendre has no intention of doing this and he drugs Beaumont as well to add to his zombie collection. Meanwhile, grieving 'widower' Neil is convinced by a local priest that Madeleine may still be alive and he seeks her out.

The film was shot in eleven days on the Universal Studios lot as well as and Bronson Canyon, which is located in Griffith Park (which I've been to) in Los Angeles. The sets for the film came from other Universal films, such as the pillars and a hanging balcony from 1923's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, chairs from 1927's THE CAT AND THE CANARY, the great halls from 1931's DRACULA, and the dark corridors from 1931's FRANKENSTEIN. And if that wasn't enough, the make-up artist for Lugosi was none other than Jack Pierce, the man responsible for creating the make-up for several other famous Universal horror films like FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, and THE WOLF MAN.

Lugosi gives another hair raising performance in the film. Much like his other famous character Dracula,  Legendre's suave demeanor hides his true side; that as an evil voodoo master. With his piercing, hypnotic eyes, his double jointed hands, and his thick Hungarian accent, Lugosi embodies the look and sound of the bogeyman; an evil that will terrify people for generations to come.
Original Movie Poster (1932)

When the film was released in 1932, it was met with negative reviews. Many press articles and reviews stated that it featured poor acting, no scares or thrills, and its over-the-top storyline. There was some positive reviews for the film, but those were few and far between. At the time of its release, Universal's FRANKENSTEIN was garnering all the acclaim, as well as all the boxoffice receipts. Over the years the film fell into the public domain and soon there were several video companies selling poorly transferred versions of the film.

The Kino Classics Blu-Ray (and DVD) boats a Hi-Def transfer from a 35mm grain master of the film (there were some missing scenes from the film that were filled using a 16mm source. Those scenes are easy to spot since they were in really poor shape and were cleaned as best they could.), a raw, unenhanced version of the film complete with all the wears and tears, audio commentary by film historian Frank Thompson, stills gallery, the 1951 theatrical re-release trailer, and an "Intimate Interviews" short from 1932 that features a 6 minute interview with Bela Lugosi himself! This is a very rare interview and is a real treat to Lugosi fans as well as horror fans!

WHITE ZOMBIE has been given the prestige of being considered the first feature length zombie film and has been described as the archetype and model of all zombie movies. It also helped spread the folklore of Haiti's black magic and voodoo practices. In the years that followed, numerous horror films have borrowed themes from the film, such as people returning from the dead and other elements of zombie mythology. The film has been referenced in other Hollywood films and was even the name of the popular 1990's heavy metal group White Zombie, featuring future horror movie director Rob Zombie, who has publicly stated his affection for the film. The Kino Classics is by far THE best version of the film to ever be released since its premiere back in 1932! If you're a horror fan, you need this movie!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

WHITE ZOMBIE is avalable on both Blu-Ray and DVD and can be purchased at your local retailer as well as the Kino Lorber website. To purchase a copy, please visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!