Great Movie Openings…..

For a Few Dollars More

Directed by: Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè

Music: Ennio Morricone

Review at FilmDungeon.com 

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King of the Zombies is Dead (Permanently)

George A. Romero, one of my favorite filmmakers, has died after a short battle with lung cancer, Indiewire reports. Almost singlehandedly responsible for the zombie genre in its current form, Romero directed ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and its many sequels, most notably the consumerism allegory ‘Dawn of the Dead’ – my favorite horror film of all time.

Romero (born 1940, New York), who resided in Pittsburgh, made his feature debut with ‘Night of the Living Dead’. It was a low budget zombie movie that was both groundbreaking and shocking in its time. Quickly, it became a major horror classic. He then directed some smaller, personal films in which he often combined horror and social commentary. In 1978 he topped the success of ‘Night’ with his brilliant follow-up ‘Dawn of the Dead’.

In the eighties his career stagnated a bit when he created the third part in his zombie series ‘Day of the Dead’. It was a failure both commercially and critically. In 2005 Romero made a small comeback with ‘Land of the Dead’. Other noticeable films he made are ‘Martin’ (a vampire flick) and ‘the Crazies’ (an outbreak film).

To honor the master, I hereby re-publish my review of ‘Day of the Dead’ which he considered his favorite film.

Dear George, may you – as opposed to your favorite characters – rest in peace.

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Day of the Dead (1985, USA)

08-05-2008 – by Jeppe Kleyngeld

Director: George A. Romero
Written by: George A. Romero
Cast: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joe Pilato, Jarlath Conroy

Running Time: 102 mins.

In George Andrew Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) the dead had been resurrected and started a crisis. In DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978), the zombies were taking the upper hand. In 1985’s DAY OF THE DEAD, there are barely any humans left. A small group of survivors consisting of soldiers, scientists and civilians, are holed up in a military complex with hundreds of flesh-eaters roaming around on the outside.

There has been a time leap since DAWN, so the zombies are slowly decomposing and are looking greyer and greener than in the previous ‘Dead’ movies. The different groups living in the claustrophobic complex are each dealing with the situation in their own way. The scientists are searching for a way to ‘control’ the zombies, while the soldiers want to wipe them all out. The few civilians on the other hand, just want to enjoy the time they have left. Lack of any prospects starts to create tension in the group. Especially with the psychopathic Captain Rhodes (Joe Polito) who commands the small military force. Not before long, their infighting leads to a final clash with the zombies. Romero shows us once again that humans are a greater danger to themselves than any outside threat.

Romero called DAY his favourite entry in the series, even though it was derided by critics upon release. Today the film has got more of a cult status. And justly so. As a film basically showing total apocalypse, it succeeds brilliantly. Only problem is that it’s pretty depressing. From Dr. ‘Frankenstein’ Logan conducting gruesome experiments on zombies in his underground lab to the unpleasant characters: it all contributes in making this film pretty hard to sit through. In DAWN, the shopping mall location lend itself well for some inventive humor. The funniest thing about DAY is the ‘intelligent’ zombie Bub who even utters some dialogue in the film (A..llli….ciaaaa…).

In short, Romero’s golden touch, the fantastic special make-up effects by Tom Savini and the dark atmosphere make this a must-see for horror fans. The successful military satire is another good reason to see this. However, dejected types might be better off not watching this. Like the other ‘Dead’ films its concept may well be brilliant, but it is still a nasty and depressive movie. Twenty years later Romero would continue his series with LAND OF THE DEAD.

Stanley Kubrick’s Favorite Movie

By David Lynch
Catching the Big Fish
(Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2006)

KUBRICK

Stanley Kubrick is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, and he did me a great honor early in my career that really encouraged me. I was working on The Elephant Man, and I was at Lee International Studio’s in England, standing in a hallway. One of the producers of The Elephant Man, Jonathan Sanger, brought over some guys who were working with George Lucas and said, “They’ve got a story for you.” And I said, “Okay.”

They said, “Yesterday, David, we were out at Elstree Studio’s, and we met Kubrick. And as we were talking to him, he said to us, ‘How would you fellas like to come up to my house tonight and see my favorite film?’” They said, “That would be fantastic.” They went up, and Stanley Kubrick showed them Eraserhead. So, right then, I could have passed away peaceful and happy.

I like all of Kubrick’s films, but my favorite may be Lolita. I just like the world. I like the characters. I love the performances. James Mason is phenomenal beyond the beyond in this film.

ERASERHEAD

Eraserhead is my most spiritual movie. No one understands when I say that, but it is. Eraserhead was growing in a certain way, and I didn’t know what it meant. I was looking for a key to unlock what these sequences were saying. Of course, I understood some of it; but I didn’t know the thing that just pulled it all together. And it was a struggle. So I got out my Bible and I started reading. And one day, I read a sentence. And I closed the Bible, because that was it; that was it. And then I saw the thing as a whole. And it fulfilled this vision for me, 100 percent. I don’t think I’ll ever say what that sentence was.

Read the review of ‘Eraserhead’ by Peter Sobczynski

The Emperor was a Chimp

As every Star Wars fan knows, creator George Lucas, has made quite a lot of changes to his beloved film series (“if it aint broke, Lucas can still fix it”). Some of these are absolutely hated like Hayden Christensen appearing at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’ or that god awful musical number also in Jedi, but a few changes were deemed justified by the fans.

Check out this list: 10 Star Wars Changes That Were Completely Justified

One of the altered scenes has helped to restore continuity to the original trilogy. I am speaking about the scene in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in which Darth Vader talks to a hologram of the Emperor. This is the first time the Emperor appears in the series, but in the original version, the character was not played by Ian McDiarmid who does portray him in ‘Return of the Jedi’ and the prequel trilogy.

The original version of the scene had the emperor played by a hooded old woman with superimposed chimpanzee eyes. That’s right, he was played by a chimp basically. Check out the original scene:

For the 2004 DVD release, the scene with Darth Vader and the emperor was altered with Ian McDiarmid now playing the emperor, as he does in the rest of the series. I kind of liked the voice done by Clive Revill in the original, but his looks were a little odd to say the least. Good to have the amazing McDiarmid in this scene; definitely a justified change.

There is also some new dialogue in the updated scene:

Darth Vader: What is thy bidding my master?
Emperor: There is a great disturbance in the force.
Darth Vader: I have felt it.
Emperor: We have a new enemy. The young rebel who destroyed the death star. I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker.
Darth Vader: How is that possible?
Emperor: Search your feelings Lord Vader, you will know it to be true. He could destroy us.
Darth Vader: He’s just a boy. Obi-wan can no longer help him.
Emperor: The force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi.
Darth Vader: If he could be turned he would become a powerful ally.
Emperor: Yes. Yes. He would be a great asset. Can it be done?
Darth Vader: He will join us or die, my master.

Without ruining the surprise that Vader is Luke’s father, they still mention the relationship between Anakin and Luke. It would be strange if they didn’t.

In short, nice job mr. Lucas. A compliment is in order for this one.