Posts Tagged ‘bruce dern’

2 headed double-feature @ the Grindhouse

October 30, 2009

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The saying, “two heads are better than one” was definitely the case last Tuesday at the Grindhouse Film Festival. They held an AIP two headed monster double bill at the New Beverly Cinema and it¬†almost didn’t happen! When I first arrived, the theatre and the whole block, were completely dark due to a power outage that was caused by high winds. We were all getting ready to leave, when suddenly the lights came back on, just in time! The exploitation gods were looking out for us and after a quick set up and the usual raffle, the show began…

Trailers for THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED, RAW MEAT and THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN. Then our feature presentation…

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THE INCREDIBLE TWO HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971) tells the preposterous tale of a mad scientist, played by BRUCE DERN, who is conducting a series of weird experiments on animals, that involves the transplanting of an additional head onto their bodies. He’s got two headed snakes, monkeys, rabbits, etc., but he really wants to create the world’s first two headed transplant on a human. How he thinks this will benefit mankind is anyone’s guess.

In a bizarre twist of fate, his prayers are answered in the guise of a psychotic escaped prisoner, who just happens to come across the laboratory’s desolate location while fleeing the cops. He attempts to take everyone hostage, but is killed with a shotgun blast instead. Since beggars can’t be choosers, the scientist seizes the opportunity and attaches the lunatic’s head to the body of an enormous man-child. Not too bright, because now there’s a giant two-headed murdering rapist with super-human strength on the loose! He terrorizes the neighboring community, but when he takes CASEY KASEM’S girlfriend hostage, he’s gone too far!

This was amazing fun to watch with the grindhouse audience! BRUCE DERN supposedly refuses to talk about this film at all, but he should stop being so snooty and acknowledge his work on this fine piece of B-movie magic. It’s amazing!

Trailers for FOOD OF THE GOD’S, BARON BLOOD and TEENAGE MOTHER. Then our second feature…

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THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972) is a powerful social commentary about a rich old white racist (RAY MILLAND), who is dying of some incurable disease. He doesn’t have much time left, so he’s been working on an operation that will transplant his head onto the body of a “volunteer”. This comes in the way of a convicted criminal, who is about to be put to death for a crime he did not commit. In a hilarious twist of irony, his head is attached to the body of a big black man (ROSEY GREER), who wakes up before the operation is complete and escapes! Both heads bicker back and forth with one another, while GREER’S tries to clear his name and MILLAND’S tries to take control of the body! It’s like a two headed, biracial THE FUGITIVE!

This movie was brilliant and should be remade at once with DON IMUS and REVEREND AL SHARPTON! I loved, loved, loved, loved, it! Great times at the grindhouse once again!

I can't get enough of these two!

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The Return Of Dante’s Inferno!

August 14, 2009

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The great Joe Dante has returned to the world famous, New Beverly Cinema for another of his amazing festivals. I already reported extensively on the “second” in a lifetime screening of THE MOVIE ORGY, but that wasn’t the only cinematic chestnut to behold that evening. At midnight, after 5 hours of orgy, we all stayed in our seats and were treated to a rare “preview print” of one of my favorite Joe Dante movies, GREMLINS!

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It contained two scenes that were cut from the theatrical release. One scene shows Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates snooping in the bank head’s office and finding Miss Deagle’s sinister plan to take control of the entire town. In the other scene, Zach and Phoebe discover Judge Reinhold’s character has gone crazy and locked himself in the bank vault, where they leave him. It was cool to see these scenes, but I can understand why they were cut, since they don’t really add anything to the story.

GREMLINS is a lot of fun to watch with an audience. I’ve always regarded it as one of my favorite Christmas movies. It’s like, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE on acid and has a unique blend of horror and comedy. The scene where the Mom single-handedly fights off the evil gremlins is a great example. I love it when she nukes the little green fucker in the microwave. GREMLINS was an awesome “nightcap” to a great evening.

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The first night of the festival was a screening of Dante’s underrated, suburban-nightmare comedy, THE ‘BURBS, which was on a double bill with the Michael Ritchie satire, SMILE. Star BRUCE DERN was a special guest and he told some great stories about the industry and his days working with ROGER CORMAN. He also talked a little about how great it was to work again with Joe Dante on his upcoming, THE HOLE 3-D.

Joe Dante and Bruce Dern.

Joe Dante and Bruce Dern.

THE ‘BURBS is a very weird black comedy from 1989, that I had not seen since then. I remembered liking it the first time, but I was a lot more impressed with the suburban-paranoia satire this time around. Dante shot the film in sequence and a great deal of improvisation was thrown in. TOM HANK’S character really goes on a journey from normalcy to insanity that was a lot of fun to watch. I recommend picking it up on Net Flix if you haven’t seen it. Another great Joe Dante film to rediscover is the wonderful, MATINEE.

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This film somehow escaped me upon it’s initial release and I remember giving it an unfocused look on VHS, back in the day. I enjoyed this film so much more now and I think it’s at the top of my list of Dante’s best. Set in Key West, Florida in 1962 when America was gripped in the panic of the “Cuban missile crisis”, it tells the story of a movie producer/showman, Lawrence Woolsey (modeled after the great WILLIAM CASTLE), played perfectly by JOHN GOODMAN. He is bringing his latest gimmick-laden monster movie, MANT to the local movie house and creates an amazing amount of hoopla in the process. It’s a really fun and nostalgic look back at that time period and Dante nails it perfectly, as usual. MATINEE was on a special, “end of the world” double bill with the fantastic, MIRACLE MILE.

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The writer and director, STEVE DE JARNATT was there to tell us about how difficult it was to get such a “downer” of a movie made. The ending scared all the major studios away and the film was finally made independently. MIRACLE MILE is a tense, brilliant film that still somehow makes me feel really “anxious”, even though the threat of nuclear war is no longer as frightening as it was in 1988. Check it out if you’ve never seen it before. But the evening was not over yet….

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After MIRACLE MILE, we received a special “bonus” surprise for the night! Joe Dante showed us all the footage he had shot for MANT, the movie within a movie, that’s featured in MATINEE. It was hilarious stuff and reminded me of all the atomic-mutant-monster movies that were featured in THE MOVIE ORGY. It’s clear that Dante’s influences are always a big part of his style as a filmmaker. He said that when the studio saw the 25 minutes of MANT they suggested doing a feature length version, but Dante felt the parody would only go so far. He maybe right, but I think it would have been awesome if he had!

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I think it’s interesting the way Joe Dante is often regarded as a “horror” film director, when he’s actually one of the most original “satirists” working in film today. With the exceptions of PIRANHA and THE HOWLING (which are both filled with lots of humorous “inside” jokes) most all of Dante’s films are comedies with a great deal of social commentary. The last night of the festival I attended was a double bill of two scorching 70’s satires, COLD TURKEY and THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST. I’d never seen them before and both films were equally funny and smart, just like the man who programmed them. I look forward to Dante’s upcoming return to horror with, THE HOLE 3-D. It’ll be nice to see him go back to his roots once again and make a genre film like only he can.

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