Friday, April 27, 2012

Worth Mentioning - We'll All Be Glowing in the Dark

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Cody belatedly celebrates Easter, then scopes out a Night of the Living Dead documentary. Jay is interviewed and gives a look at his latest short.

THE BEING (1983)

Four years before she rocked the world with the H.G. Lewis homage Blood Diner, Jackie Kong made her directorial debut on this monster movie, which she also wrote.

The setting is the small town of Pottsville, Idaho, "the spud capital of the universe", where residents have been disappearing, green slime is being found all over the place, and "the ultimate terror has taken form".

That form is of a radioactive mutant, caused by the dumping of nuclear waste. Things get off to a great start as a kid tries to flee from the monster in a car and it tears through the roof of the vehicle to rip his head off his shoulders. The discovery of the crashed car (filled with slime, no sign that there was a decapitation in it) brings Detective Mortimer Lutz into the picture, played by Kong's then-husband William Osco under the name Rexx Coltrane.

Several of the other roles are filled by Oscar level actors and popular TV personalities: Martin Landau plays a chemist in town to check the radiation levels. He appears on the local news to assure the people of Pottsville that the dumping of nuclear waste into the aquifer will not affect the drinking water. Dorothy Malone is a woman driven crazy by the disappearance of her child. José Ferrer appears as the mayor, who doesn't want this monster talk to ruin the town's potato business. As the mayor's wife, Ruth Buzzi is on a crusade against smut, aided by "The Unknown Comic" Murray Langston and novelist/politician Kinky Friedman (who also had a cameo in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.)

As the mutant slimes and kills its way through Pottsville, a standout setpiece occurs at the drive-in movie theatre. A young couple go there on a date to make out through the new horror show. When we get a look at the movie that's on the screen, we see an attractive blonde is sitting on a bed in a hotel room, painting her toenails while completely nude. I want to watch that movie! Well, it's footage that was shot for The Being, so I am watching that movie, but I would've liked more of that character.

While the blonde on the screen is attacked by a monster that looks just like the one rampaging through Pottsville, slime drips through the entire dashboard of a the young couple's car (they don't notice, things are getting hot and heavy in there.) The slime then solidifies into the monster, and that finally gets the couple's attention.

The monster likes attacking people in cars, that's why we expect the worst when Lutz gets into his vehicle and we see a pair of freaky eyeballs shining from the darkness of the backseat. Luckily, it's just the town bum.

Lutz is a very laid-back guy, a few times we're even privy to his monotone thoughts in voiceover, but one of the craziest scenes in the movie is a black & white Lutz dream sequence. In his dream, Lutz is riding in a plane being flown by Landau's character. The monster attacks the plane, pulling Landau out, leaving Lutz to figure out how to fly... And then Ruth Buzzi flies past on a broomstick, blood running from her eyes. She smiles at Lutz, "It's all in your mind."

Slimy monster action, unexpected cast members, gratuitous nudity, gore, goofiness, weirdness, a unique charm, this movie has a lot going for it. Plus, it's a holiday horror. It's set around Easter, and was originally titled Easter Sunday.

Early in the movie, Ruth Buzzi hosts an Easter egg hunt for a bunch of kids, and a featured toddler is the daughter of Jackie Kong and William Osco, Roxanne Cybelle. Roxanne went on to play "Young Michael" in Blood Diner, and followed in her parents' creative footsteps. As a college student in 2001, Roxanne wrote a script called Cash Money Sex that was going to become a feature produced by her father. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to have been filmed.

This week's viewing was the first time I had ever seen The Being, but the poster image is very familiar to me for some reason. I don't think the movie was ever available to rent at my local video stores, IMDb informs me that I may have spotted the poster in The Monster Squad.


The making of the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead has been well documented, the stories the main crew and cast members had to tell have filled interviews, books, documentaries, featurettes, and commentaries... But there were still more stories to be told.

For this documentary, director Jeff Carney sought out some voices that hadn't been heard before. There are interviews with some of the less celebrated crew members and contributors - from special effects man Regis Survinski and sound recordist Gary Streiner (who is currently heading up the Fix the Chapel fundraiser to save the cemetery chapel seen in the film), to the man who provided the animal heads mounted on the farmhouse wall and a guy who helped with the looped cricket chirping heard on the soundtrack - and several people who are featured in the film as members of the horde of ghouls surrounding the farmhouse and/or the posse that scours the countryside on a ghoul-hunting mission.

Autopsy of the Dead is not a documentary for casual fans, this is something for the fans who want to know everything that they possibly can about what it was like making Night of the Living Dead. For me, the making of that movie is one of the most interesting filmmaking stories there is, and it's one of my most favorite, desert island essential films, so I found the stories from these new perspectives to be very interesting.

Throughout the documentary are glimpses of some great pictures taken behind-the-scenes of NOTLD, and shots that compare the way filming locations looked then and now. Locations that I want to visit myself someday. The pictures and location shots are also included on their own as special features on the DVD.

Jay's Mentions

This week I'm mentioning some personal news involving an interview I did alongside actor/musician/producer Lane Hughes for the Film Snobbery Live! series. We were both guests on Episode 91 of the show, their final in the Boston area, and I wanted to share the video with everyone here. We both had a great time chatting with Nic Baisley and his co-host, Jerry Cavallaro.

Film Snobbery Episode 91

The description of the episode is as follows:

Actor Lane Hughes and Director Jay Burleson call in to talk about their careers, their goals and challenges when making and promoting films, and their upcoming projects. We also say goodbye to an era of FilmSnobbery Live! and to a world class co-host, writer/director Jerry Cavallaro.

I'm still tweaking my special report on the latest Sidewalk Scramble and may hold off a few more weeks until I can view all the films on DVD. We didn't attend the screening, and were not even in competition outside of Audience Choice after some faulty uploads and a no-show ride left us holding the bag at the competition deadline.

Here is an image from our short, Horrible Hearts, starring Randy Hale and Christy Colburn.

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