Friday, July 8, 2011

Worth Mentioning - There's a Ghost in My Head

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.

This week, Cody talks about the 1956 Western The Fastest Gun Alive and the 1981 horror film The Pit, while Jay makes a couple special announcements.


Vinnie Harold is an outlaw with a dangerous quirk - he's so proud of his quick draw abilities that if he hears of another man who's fast, he has to track him down and challenge him to a duel. When he comes out the victor, he pays for the man's headstone, with the order that it be inscribed with the info "Killed by Vinnie Harold, the fastest gun there is".

George Temple is a man on the run from a dark past. He and his wife have settled in the small town of Cross Creek, where George is now a shopkeep. Unbeknownst to his pregnant wife Dora, he has kept a gun from his previous life and occasionally sneaks off to fire it in the desert.

But George's secret goes public when, dissatisfied with his small town life and possibly stressed over his impending fatherhood, he gets drunk and walks into town with his gun, boasting about his quickness and doing demonstrations - shooting a dropped glass before it hits the ground, blasting thrown coins in mid-air.

Word that George may be the fastest gun alive spreads quickly, and soon Vinnie Harold arrives in Cross Creek intending to prove otherwise.

This is a very enjoyable, fast-paced Western, largely carried by the great performances delivered by Glenn Ford (one of my favorite actors of this period) and Jeanne Crain as George and Dora.

Russ Tamblyn has a small role as one of the townsfolk and is given a showstopping three minute dance sequence at a local hoe-down, incorporating a pair of shovels and some rope swinging into his routine.

THE PIT (1981)

Twelve-year-old Jamie is an outsider. He's rejected by his classmates, picked on by a neighbor girl who wonders if he's crazy, even little old ladies put him down. He is undoubtedly a weird kid. He's also a total horndog. In one of his first scenes, he's in detention at school, being made by a teacher to write "I will not bring adult books to school" one hundred times on the chalkboard. A cute twenty-something nanny is taking care of him while his parents are away, and he takes every opportunity to try to look up her skirt, see her breasts through her flimsy night shirt, or spy on her in the shower. He even tries to blackmail the woman next door into stripping in front of her window.

This isn't an ultimately heartwarming Milk Money-esque tween coming of age movie, either. There's something strange and dark going on. Jamie's best friend is his teddy bear, who he tells everything, and who even telepathically responds to him in a voice that is just Jamie's with an echo effect. Even stranger, Jamie has recently found a deep pit in a nearby woods and he claims that a group of creatures, trolls or "tra-la-logs" (his mispronunciation of troglodytes), live at the bottom of the pit and communicate with him.

The Pit is quite a weird movie. Some of the subject matter makes it effectively disturbing and creepy, and I was never sure where it was going to go next. Although, a flash forward opening scene does spoil one big step in the eventual escalation of the story - Jamie starts luring people out to the woods and knocking them into the pit.

Are there really monsters down there? Is Jamie just crazy? Or are both things true?

Things kind of devolve toward the end, but it was fun, and I found this movie to be surprisingly good and entertaining overall.

Jay's mentions:

I haven't had time to watch any films lately as I've been prepping my next shoot. It's all going to be documented here: Shoe Strings With No Shoes: No Budget Filmmaking. There's only one post up as of now but there will be a lot more coming very soon. I'll probably announce the project in detail sometime next week.

I found it to also be worth mentioning that my short film, Kristin Grace From Outer Space, has been chosen as an official selection at the 13th Annual Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, AL. The film stars Kaylin Quinlivan, Steve Rabin, and Bart Hyatt, while featuring music from Jax Deluca. The short is a three minute experimental piece that focuses on a phone conversation between a school counselor and the father of an offbeat girl who carries a pumpkin around with her.

I am excited and happy for everyone involved and look forward to enjoying the festival experience at Sidewalk. A lot of well respected filmmakers and actors have had their work shown there so we are honored to have our short be a part of the festivities. Here are a few frame grabs from the film:

I'll be back next week and hopefully have some solid information to report on my next project. During my pre-production I've been reading Lloyd Kaufman's, "Make Your Own Damn Movie!" and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm now starting on his latest, "Sell Your Own Damn Movie!" but I'll probably have to put my reading on hold for a while. You can check the books out over at Focal Press.

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