Posts Tagged ‘Dan O’Bannon

01
Oct
15

Lifeforce (1985)

Probably five or ten years ago, I watched Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce for the first time. I only remembered two things about it: 1) I didn’t like it and 2) space vampires. Q had two copies of the film, one on videocassette, which supposedly had the superior cut, and the other on DVD; the inferior cut that I must have seen previously. So, in a move to free some space on our shelves, I agreed to buy the blu-ray which had both cuts, knowing I was also agreeing to give the film another go. But all that crap is boring, can we just get to the naked vampires already?

Space is the place

Space is the place

Like any good science fiction horror flick, Lifeforce starts off on a spaceship. This particular ship, the Churchill, is out exploring Halley’s comet. When they get close to the comet, they discover a giant alien spaceship and do what no one should ever do, but what they always do in movies like this: explore it. Inside, they find some desiccated alien life forms resembling bats, and three ‘sleeping’ humanoid forms suspended in some kind of enclosure. What else to do but bring the specimens back to the spaceship? After all, this is a mission of discovery.

NAKED VAMPIRE SPACE PODS

NAKED VAMPIRE SPACE PODS

Well, the next thing you know, no one has heard anything from the Churchill for some alarming amount of time. A rescue shuttle shoots on into space to see what the hell’s going on, only to find a burned out ship and the three alien pods. Not knowing what the hell happened, they take the pods back to Earth, and that’s when shit gets totally fuckin’ naked and weird. And naked. Did I mention naked?

Steve Railsback gets a tough break.

Steve Railsback gets a tough break.

Rewatching Lifeforce a second time, it is amazing to me I didn’t remember that nearly a third of the film consists of a Mathilda May walking around completely naked sucking the life out of people. Okay, to be fair, some of that time she is lying down naked. The other thing I found perplexing was why my initial reaction was so negative; turns out the film is actually pretty good – and no, it wasn’t because of the different cuts, because we accidentally watched the longer cut and I didn’t find myself squirming in my seat or anything remotely along those lines. No, the film actually moved at a pretty decent clip, and it kept me interested.

It's never a good thing when desiccated corpses walk the earth.

It’s never a good thing when desiccated corpses walk the earth.

So, yes, there is more to Lifeforce than Mathilda May’s tits. Steve Railsback plays a perfect shell-shocked victim; frantic eyes, desperate pleas, the whole bit. Bonus getting to see a bespectacled pre-TNG Patrick Stewart play a role that doesn’t come close at all to resembling the in-control Captain Picard. But probably what impressed me most were the special effects. There’s a few Pink Floyd light-show moments, and those are cool, but the really great stuff is watching May suck the life out of her victims, and in consequence watching their desiccated corpses search for lifeforce amongst the living. Ok yeah and it’s pretty cool when they explode, too.

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12
Oct
14

Dead and Buried (1981)

Pretty scenery in Potter's Bluff...

Pretty scenery in Potter’s Bluff…

For day 11 of 31 Days of Horror, we check out what kind of horror Alien writer Dan O’Bannon can dream up right here on earthly soil. Dead and Buried is a seriously creepy story exploring the weirdness of the American small town, and what big secrets all those seemingly happy and smiling faces can be keeping from you!

Welcome to Potter’s Bluff, a tiny town on Rhode Island’s shore. What better place to get some leisurely photography in? George Le Moyne sure enjoys shooting the scenery, but he never dreamt it would get as sexy as it did! A beautiful blonde walks into his camera’s frame and starts taking her clothes off. Hot damn, looks like Le Moyne’s hit the jackpot! That’s what he thinks, of course until some ominous-looking locals close in on him, cover him in a fishing net, tie him to a post and burn him alive all while snapping photos of his face. Bummer!

Sheriff Gillis (James Farentino) wonders what the hell could be going on in his hometown.

Sheriff Gillis (James Farentino) wonders what the hell could be going on in his hometown.

Cut to Sheriff Dan Gillis (James Farentino), a local boy who left town to get an education (shame on him) who’s come back to re-plant his roots in Potter’s Bluff. He’s on the scene of a terrible car accident, and though the victim has no identification, you and I know that it is Le Moyne. Unfortunately for the locals, it looks like Le Moyne has survived. Unfortunately for Le Moyne, our beautiful blonde is out to get him yet again!

More out-of-towners start dying, and Gillis smells a rat; especially when one of the locals comes knocking on the door saying Freddie, the smiling face at the gas station, looks exactly like Le Moyne. Are the dead coming back to life? Suddenly everyone is looking suspicious, even his wife. Can the sheriff solve the mystery before it’s too late?

The local mortician (Jack Albertson) has been getting a lot of work lately.

The local mortician (Jack Albertson) has been getting a lot of work lately.

Dead and Buried is a surprisingly good and effective horror movie. I think I must be so used to watching movies for style and comedy that I forget how nice it is to watch a legitimately chilling movie. I definitely spent the entirety of the movie wondering what the hell was going on, and was pretty surprised by the ending. I rarely experience this nowadays; usually I can see where a movie is headed from the very beginning, and so I expect the movie to wow me in other ways.

I’m hesitant to say much more about the film for fear of spoiling its surprises. If you’re looking for a film that might actually freak you out, this one is your man. It’s also got pretty good make-up effects that are worth seeing. It’s not the most amazing movie I’ve ever seen, but it achieves the job it sets out to do, and it works. Additionally, the cast includes Robert Englund and Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) in his last film role. Worth a watch!

04
May
14

Jodorowsky’s Dune

j-duneJodorowsky’s Dune is a documentary about a film that never got made. Chances are you’re familiar with Dune, a supposed science fiction masterpiece by Frank Herbert that I’ve never read, but probably should (and want to a little bit more after seeing this documentary). You might not be as familiar with Alejandro Jodorowsky as you should, but I’ll let it slide because, let’s face it, Jodorowsky’s stuff is “not for everyone,” and that’s putting it lightly. If you are familiar with Jodorowsky, your mind probably pops and reels at the thought of him putting the worlds of Dune to film. This documentary follows the talented artists who got together and worked hard for two years to conceive of a film so big it could never be made.

In 1973, Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain was released, with a fair degree of success – cult film fans everywhere were drooling over it (and still do). It is one of the most bizarre, visually stunning films I’ve ever seen. Based on its success, film producer Michel Seydoux approached Jodorowsky, telling him for his next film, we’ll do “anything you want.” Dangerous words to a visionary mind like Alejandro Jodorowsky, and from that moment on the film just gets enormously ambitious. The artists Jodorowsky approaches to work on his film are not just colleagues, they are his “warriors” who he believes will be fit to work on this project that will change the world. The likes of Dan O’Bannon, Jean Giraud (Mœbius), Chris Foss and H.R. Giger are drafted to create the visuals of Dune‘s universe, while Jodorowsky plots to get David Carradine, Orson Welles, Mick Jagger and even Salvador Dali acting in the film.

After seeing a healthy bit of Jodorowsky’s filmography, I honestly expected to meet a man who was half out of his mind; an evil, drooling genius perhaps. But what you find in this documentary is a normal guy with a huge passion to change the perceptions of the people who see his work. He wants to change the world, and Dune was going to do it. He is absolutely charming, and in the moments when he talks about the film being rejected by studio after studio, you can see how deeply the “failure” still affects him. But, as you can see from some of the images taken from the gigantic script he and team presented to the studios, bits and pieces of the film can be found in science fiction movies from Star Wars to Prometheus. Despite the fact it was never made, Jodorowsky’s Dune was still enormously influential. Imagine what would have happened had one of those studios bitten?

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like Jodorowsky’s films. It doesn’t matter if you’re not interested in science fiction. You can be the biggest Dune fan ever, or perhaps you’ve never even heard of it. If you create or consume art in any way, you need to see this film. You’ll never be able to forget again that to create something truly amazing, you have to have passion. The unfortunate thing about Hollywood is, you also need lots and lots of money, and no amount of artistic passion can convince a big Hollywood studio a film is worth making. All I can say is, I cannot fucking wait for The Dance of Reality, Jodorowsky’s first film in years, and the first time he and Michel Seydoux collaborated again after the failed vision of Dune.

 




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