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Director Retrospective


directorstgarfield-a-tail-of-two-kitties-2006-medium-coverThe Garfield films get a lot of hate and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s just the normal backlash at the kids films with CG characters….I don’t know. What I do know is that when the first Garfield film came out, I was hooked. I’m a lifelong fan of the character and I loved what  Iwas seeing. It was funny and sassy and it really FELT like Garfield (apparently a lot of people disagred). My main complain was that the dog Odie, was real and not CG (not enough budget for him to also be a cartoon apparently)

I was shocked when I heard there would be a sequel.

Hill has taken a lot of the critisisms from the first movie and addressed them. Odie is still not a cartoon, but there’s WAY less of him. Garfield dosen’t dance (except for a goofy bit at the end) and there’s more of him. Twice as much in fact.

It’s a stimple twin swapping story, Garfield takes the place of one of the royal cats of England, trying to save the family manor. Our villian, in a brilliant bit of casting, is Billy Connally who manages not to die in a film for once.

I kind of feel bad for Hill on this one, because while he crafts a funny and entertaining film, this one seemed doomed from the start with the bad press fro mteh first and Bill Murry’s reluctance to come in for the voice – I think the studio expected this to do meger numbers. The movie deserves better. Hill treats the material with respect and is more than just a hired gun on this one. Seriously, if you have good memories of watchign the Garfield holiday specials on TV, you should check this out – especially if you have kids!


Muppets from Space

directorstmuppets-from-space-1999-medium-coverThe Muppet Movie is absolutely my favorite of all the Muppet films. It’s the perfect dead-on take on Henson’s creations. But it might surprise you to know that Muppets From Space is a fast second place – none of the others even come close.

In the era after Henson’s death until the time Disney finally bought the property, the Muppers kind of meandered, not sure how to proceed. We had a couple half hearted sequals – adaptions of Treasure Island and a Christmas Carol, as well as the ill-fated Muppts Tonight show that ABC never gave a chance (yanking it after only four episodes).

I like Muppets from space because it features the Muppets just being themselves- it’s thier downtime, thier personal adventures – soemthing I always found more interesting than the skits themselves. I find the story of Gonzo discovering that he is infact an alien to be a brilliant revelation, and the journey to find his alien tribe to be hilarious.

It’s also here where we see Tim Hill’s skill in making the inanimate characters lifelike. He understands how to shoot them so you believe it…and he gets the heart of the characters.

Don’t just stream this on Netflix by the way, find this on DVD if you can. It features Hill, along with Gonzo and Rizzo commenting on the film MST3K style and is one of the best riffs ever.

Tim Hill

directorsttim-hill-sliceThis time around I feel like I need to do a little introduction before diving into this director’s spotlight…in the past we’ve covered genre directors and more familiar names, but Hill isn’t quite the household name as some.

Over the years I’ve frequently heard him referred to as a hack director. I’m not sure I can argue that. I don’t know.

What I do know is that Tim hill consistently puts out family films that I genuinely enjoy…enough that I seek his name hop-image-tim-hill-james-marsden-600x400out and go out of my way to catch his movies. If he’s a hack, he’s MY hack,  and he’s tackled some of my favorite franchises, showing skill and a wicked sense of humor. He’s one of the driving forces behind Spongebob which give you an idea of his humor, but it’s his live action work I want to explore.

That’s why I want to spend a little time looking back on his work – to shine a light on a director I really enjoy and perhaps even to mount a bit of a defense against the popular opinions.

We’ll be back next time with our first look at hill’s movies!a8efcdbc06391747e048372136139339ebf493528400b236b557f1a28ecac44b

Victor Crowley

directorsacrowley-tourIt’s funny, when I wrote up the rest of these Director’s Spotlights, this film wasn’t even announced!

Just a couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to catch this while Green was touring theaters with the film. I was actually incredibly excited about this since there was no stop in Cleveland the last time he toured with a movie.

Made in secret, this film takes the Hatchet franchise beyond the originally planned trilogy, bringing Victor Crowley back for a whole new massacre.

We begin with Perry Shen (because it’s not a hatchet movie without Perry!) on a book tour, detailing his story of what happened ten years ago in the original trilogy (remember, though released years apart, all three movies take place over just a couple 11059590_959785280732562_6077704736012482274_ndays). It moves on quickly though and shifts basically into a single set film – a real departure from the previous movies. Don’t fear though, the gore is just as plentiful and creative as anything else we’ve seen in the Hatchet series. Kane Hodder slices and dices his way through the cast with a renewed vigor. Adam told us “When I told the crew we were doing another Hatchet film, NO ONE was happy…except Kane!” No wonder. He’s now officially played Victor Crowley as many times as he did Jason Vorhees.

In preparation for the movie I actually marathoned the first three films and noticed how seldom Crowley is actually on screen. This time around it felt different and I mentioned this to Adam, asking if he intentionally put more Victor appearances in this film. He 22519602_1705549462822803_4996495298885788570_nbobbed his head up and down almost chuckling.

“I’m so glad you said that. Actually Victor has less screen time in this movie than any of the others! We first screened the film and were like oh crap…the movie is named ‘Victor Crowley’ and he’s barely in it!”

He paused and continued.

“The thing is, even when he’s not on screen, his presence is felt through the entire film, so it feels like he’s there even when he’s not. But believe me,” Green concluded. “we stuck in absolutely every frame we shot of Kane (Hodder). There was nothing left on the cutting room floor.”

10347538_997141673663589_8417250128551374714_nFor my money, the real stand out  performance here though comes from Felissa Rose. Horror fans know her as Angela from the first Sleepaway camp movie. She’s a regular on the con circuit and I run into her from time to time. I mentioned back a month ago that I ran into her at Days of the Dead and told her how much I liked her role.

The thing is, in person she’s the sweetest, friendliest extrovert I know. She smiles and chats and hugs whether you like it or not. Yet the character she’s playing here – Perry Shen’s agent- is obnoxious, irritating and despiciable. The heavy long island accent she puts on is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s such a departure from the Felissa I know that it really showcases her range and I loved it.

At the end of the day, I know I’m not saying a great deal about the film itself. Truth is I was asked not to spoil it and even though the theatrical tour is over, there are still going to be ways to watch this and I’d love for you to go in cold, with no spoilers or expectations. Right now it’s my favorite of all the Hatchet films because of the fresh approach and stand alone nature. Definitely seek this out, it’s absolutely worth a buy.




Digging up the Marrow

directorsamv5bmjm3ndc3mjc1ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjm4mja5mze-_v1_sy999_cr00672999_al_Of all of his films, Digging up the Marrow maybe my favourite Adam Green feature. But there is a caveat, I’m a fan of the director….we’ll get that in the moment.

Digging Up The Marrow is a mocumentary done in a semi found footage style about a man chasing monsters. Real ones. Actually, more like deformed people with some spectacular deformities that have established an underground culture that is very rarely discovere. The man, Dekker, has enlisted the help of a filmmaker – Adam Green himself – to document and uncover these creatures. Along the way we discover Adam is not the first film maker he’s tried to enlist, and that there is more to this story then he’s telling.

It’s a wonderful tale, creepy and suspenseful. There are twists here and there and it keeps you engaged the whole way through – but here’s the thing, because Adam chose to use himself and his studio as characters in the film, it really appeals to his fanbase.  For those of us who have kind of gotten to know him through things like his podcast and Holliston and the shorts on his Ariescope website, we already have a connection to the character that he is playing. We walk into it with that affection and interest. This is not to say that the film is inaccessible to the casual viewer, however it is going to be more work for an outsider to develop that sympathy for the character than it is for the fans. Adam is a very sympathetic character indeed, and I think this is still going to work wether you know who he is or not. But it really does work so much better if you do already know him. For Adam Green fans, I think this is really is epitome – it is his masterpiece and is love letter to the fans. I’ve saved this for last for a reason – I want you to experience his other films, I want you to watch Holliston, and I want you to understand him as a filmmaker… And to some extent as a person. That’s what’s really going to make this film pop for you it’s what’s really going to make you care about it. It really is my favourite of all of his films, with the best monsters and creepiest creatures that you will see.

I absolutely cannot wait to see what he does next.


directorsamv5bmty3nzm4mze2mv5bml5banbnxkftztcwmjc3mjgyoq-_v1_uy268_cr120182268_al_I’ve mentioned before that Adam got his start doing comedy, especially during romantic comedies but also stand up and sitcom kind of work. Holliston is a sitcom that is described sometimes as the big bang theory for horror fans.

It’s semi autobiographical in the way that my Violent Blue is – that is to say a lot of the events and situations happened in one form or another but have been so dramatised and fictionalised dad you can’t rightly refer to it as a non-fiction any longer. Things are tweeked for comedy and heightened for the best plot  – along with certain fictional elements and ideas thrown in out of nowhere.

It’s low budget – man is it low-budget.

It’s  cheesy and cheap and it shows. I stress this, I have to point this out because you have to know this going in. If you expect this thing to look like “Friends” then you are going to be seriously upset. Still, it’s strength isn’t so much in the production values as it is in the characters that you genuinely connect with the characters Adam and Joe and Corey and Laura, and that makes you forget the terrible looking robot cat, or some of the sillier gags, or the extremely clumsy attempts to break the fourth wall. That’s the thing about Holliston, it has so many technical imperfections that are just glaringly obvious, and yet for some reason it endears itself to the viewers despite all of these shortcomings (and it’s definitely DESPITE these shortcomings, not because of them…).

When I met Adam Green at Days of the Dead a few years ago he was on a publicity tour for Holliston. Seriously, I had not even heard of this show. It was nowhere near being on my radar. Even after meeting Adam I wasn’t quite sold – what did it for me was seeing the Holliston panel, and watching Adam along with Derek Mears and Dave Brockie laughing it up on stage and really selling the show. To the best of my knowledge, it was Dave Brockie’s last convention appearance – I am incredibly grateful that I got a chance to meet him. By the time I got on to him, he was out of the Odorous Urungus costume and in some ways that’s a bit of a drag, but in other ways….

See, if it had been Odureus, I would’ve approached him differently. We would have joked and gotten the picture and that would be it.  But I didn’t meet Odorous, I met Dave. We chatted about radio and how Danny Bonaduche  was constantly referring to GWAR as his favourite band – Dave seemed taken aback by that… “I love Danny Bonaduce… “He said in slight awe. Dave was friendly and charming outside of the costume and I’m very glad I got to meet him. He was the epitome of my own philosophy for sitcoms where what you need is a pretty girl some good friends and a smart mouth puppet. Dave was such a smart mouth and could not have been more of a cartoon… Not even in the animated episode – ha ha!

Houston is available on DVD and Blu-ray, and eventually it will be streaming somewhere… But the time you read this it may have already shown up on geek nations website. (remember I write these things months, if not years in advance) it’s definitely worth checking out.I remember I found it a little difficult to get through at first, but it didn’t take long for me to be hooked – waiting each week for new episode (which I would watch legally every week streamed off of fear net website) It’s addicting, and it’s amazing how easy it is to invest in these characters start it’s an even more amazing how the investment in these characters washes over to these people – these actors, and Adam Green himself. That’s important to remember, as we explore Digging up the Marrow next month.


directorsafrozen-coverCan I just first state that I’m a little pissed that Disney pops up with a fun family princess film by this same title, about a year and a half or so after Adam Green released this thriller? I hate that these things are inevitably going to be confused, and the way that the Disney frozen really grabs that name in eclipses Adam Green’s Frozen. This is actually the first film of Green’s  that I ever saw, it came on the strong recommendation from the late and lamented Horror et cetera podcast. It’s the story of three people on a ski weekend who get stuck on a chairlift, as the ski resort shut down for the week. It’s such a simple yet terrifying premise and it’s a great departure from the Hatchet films that Green was getting known for. Its a chance to show what else he can do. Even though it’s locked into the category, this is not really horror, not to me anyhow. This is thriller territory. There are no monsters here, unless you count the wolves that are very active below them. No, in this case the situation itself is the villain – and the interpersonal relationships take center stage. It is squirm inducing, and uncomfortable. It is the sort of movie that will stay with you, long after the film is over.

I mentioned earlier that this is a departure from the style of the Hatchet series, and that’s intentional – Green didn’t want to necessarily be pigeonholed into the horror genre, and really – this is the kind of thing where he shines. You have to remember that he started, writing comedy, particularly romantic comedy – and characters are really his strong points. While his romcom type work hasn’t gotten nearly as much exposure as the horror stuff, it’s where his skill sets begins. The emphasis on characters and relationships is what makes Frozen work. You genuinely care about these people, you emphasize and sympathize with them and that’s absolutely what this film needs to be able to tear apart your heart. That’s what Frozen is about really, to break your heart and to chill your soul – no jump scares, just suspense. This is absolutely a must see, although for me it doesn’t have a lot of repeat value. I don’t think I’m going to be a visiting it, but I’ve got a say – definitely watch it, even if its only once.

Hatchet 3

directorsae_coverWe kick the third sequel to the series off in style, with Danielle Harris walking into a police station covered in blood. Really, who could ask for more?

Well there is the delightful scene of Adam Green making his quick cameo laying sick in the jail cell next to her. Green shows up in all three of these at films, and I always imagine that he is playing his character from Holliston – but out on a rowdy Mardi Gras trip (I think it would make it better is if Joel Lynch showed up as well). We are back into the bayou again but this time it’s different – we’ve got a SWAT team, armed to the teeth, infiltrating these dark woods. It’s a stark contrast from the last film’s disorganized group of hicks with shotguns running out into the night to try and capture Victor Crawley. The evidence of the previous slaughter is all around us – at one point one of the SWAT team members point out that there are someone’s testicles hanging from a tree branch – and that this is something that should never, ever happen!

The cast is once again stellar, with the SWAT team being led by Derrik Meres, but my favourite appearance in this film is Sid Haig. Sid showed up practically out of nowhere, as this bizarre hermit who had the ashes of Victor Crawley’s father. I have never seen him flustered quite so effectively as he is in act three, and I love it.

The monster suit looks better than ever, with the move from latex and rubber to silicone. The kills are as effective as they’ve ever been, and it definitely maintains the tone. The humour is still there, one of my favourite moments is when once again Perry Shen, this time playing one of the paramedics, remarks that they found a body out there that looks exactly like him – “we all look the same to you?” That it’s just a wonderful and brilliant nod to the fact that the same actor has appeared in every one of his films, even though he keeps getting killed off!

Green has publicly stated that Hatchet 3 is the end of the series  (much to the fans chagrin). There was never an intention to go any further and he has no plans to continue this franchise – however we’ve heard similar statements both in the Nightmare and Friday franchises, and in all honesty I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these. However if this series is truly just going to remain a trilogy, I can’t fault him.the series ends on a high note with Green and the Hatchet films at the top of their game.

Angels Brigade

directorsg220px-angelsbrigadeI don’t know what it is about this film. Graydon Clark has the ability to turn just about any script into a passable film. It wasn’t exactly spinning gold out of thread but he certainly could make things fun. Angels Brigade looks cheap. I mean, it IS cheap, most of Clark’s films were. The difference with this one is that it LOOKS cheap.

I get a real TV movie vibe for this thing, and that makes sense sense – later on down the road it would be recut and re-edited into a television film – but this thing started life as a theatrical feature. In a lot of ways it was like the A-Team, a female version of that – and has a lot of the tropes and characteristics of an 80s TV action show. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, the pacing keeps engaged and the action is certainly passable. Perhaps this is me speaking from a post-modern, generation X viewpoint. Perhaps I’m just more used to action films that are absurd with huge pyrotechnics and ridiculous amounts of bullets and explosions, but it seems to me even in the context of the period that this is a little restrained…like they were relying more on the jiggly exploitation aspect to the film then they were on the hard-hitting action side.

One of the more interesting revelations during the film was my sudden realization why this concept feels so familiar. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was watching Fox Force Five. Perhaps you remember this name from Quinton Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction – it’s the pilot that Uma Thurman’s character supposedly did. The characters aren’t exactly dead on, there’s a few in different positions and some missing, but it’s eerily similar and going into it with this in mind actually makes it a bit more fun for me.

It’s a hard one to find by the way, it goes by couple of different names and the one that is probably going to be the easiest and most accessible will be the MST3K version of it. I’m not sure I can recommend it though, because according to Graydon they cut a lot out of it to the point where this re-edit doesn’t make nearly as much sense – some of the beats are gone, and some other plot development vanishes.

Still it’s worth a go if you can find it for around or to stream somewhere.I don’t know that I goes far as to say it’s a buy, but it certainly is good late night movie host fodder.

Hatchet 2

directorsa220px-hatchet_ii_posterI really enjoy Hatchet 2. A lot of it has to do with the cast. In the first film we had a quickie cameo from Robert England (and really what’s up with that? I realise it’s just the name recognition, but it’s the most useless scene in the film ). This film really stars Tony Todd. I’ve always got a soft spot for voodoo Masters, and Todd is doing a great job chewing the scenery here, we get a much better feel for this character.

Todd is at reprising his character from the first film (which was basically a cameo). This time he is in the thick of it, front and center – leading the chase back into the bayou to discover Victor Crawly.

Danielle Harris shows up in this one as well, taking over the role of Marybeth. I realize that in a lot of ways this role was written with her, or at least with her in mind, but scheduling conflicts prevented her from starring in the first film, this time Green was delighted to be able to bring her in . Maybe it’s just the conservative in me that doesn’t like change, but I actually find I prefer the previous actress – Harris is a little more confrontational and for some reason the little bit less likeable in the role. Danielle is a lovely person, and a lot of fun, but I’m just not a huge fan of her in this role. Still, it’s a return to familiar stopping grounds, as Kane Hodder hacks and slashes his way through the cast, again giving a stellar performance as Victor Crawley and actually flexing his acting muscles in the flashback scenes. There is a real sense of terror and peril every time you go back into that bayou. It’s also amusing to see Perry Shen back as a completely different character – this will be a running joke in the series and one that I really enjoy, but we’ll talk about that more next time as we explore Hatchet 3.