Thursday, September 29, 2011

B-Movie Weekend

My review of the B-Movie Celebration in 2010 was a rather whitewashed piece. I had fun while I was there, yes, but often in spite of the event itself. With expectations lowered appropriately, I kind of dreaded going back down to Franklin, Indiana in 2011 for another round of abuse.

The festival isn't all that bad. It's just that there's a lot of untapped potential there that I wanted to see come to fruition. If Cashiers du Cinemart writer Rich Osmond hadn't have been there, I would have skipped this year's event especially after so many of the announced guests and films ended up off the docket.

One of the biggest problems I have with the fest is the way that titles are trotted out and never happen. On the B-Movie Celebration Facebook group, there were three groups of films announced:

  • Out of the 89 35mm films from March 30, zero are on the final list.
  • Out of the 50 films from July 19, only 23 made the final cut (with two additional films not on any of the aforementioned lists).
  • Out of the 25 scheduled films, only eight were shown in 35mm.

Seeing movies on film is a big deal to me. As it was, the projection in the main theater--the ArtCraft--wasn't too bad, even the digital stuff.

Over Friday and Saturday we saw seven films. The first night we caught the new Jim Wynorski film, Camel Spiders, shot partially in Franklin, IN. The main creatures don't look like camels nor do they seem like they're spiders (it's called out at least twice in the film that they only have six legs). That aside, the movie would feel right at home on the SyFy channel with the cheesy special effects. It was good to see C. Thomas Howell in the film as the local sheriff, though I wish he'd had a little more to work with.

The second feature on Friday, Fred Olen Ray's Dino Wolf, proved to be most enjoyable. Maxwell Caulfield as the sheriff in this one was a real treat and really helped set the movie apart.

We started the next day with Varan: The Unbelievable, a Japanese film (Daikaijû Baran) that had been re-cut and padded out with American footage. The film really defies the viewer to pay attention to it. And, being shown at 10AM, several folks in the audience nodded off (including yours truly).

At noon we headed over to the (not so) Secret Theater. I'm not sure what purpose the building serves usually but two of its rooms had been turned into screening areas. We only went into the first one where it looked like paper had been tacked up onto the wall for a screen. The movie we caught, Tony Randel's Ticks, was terrific despite being marred by technical difficulties. It was shown in the wrong aspect ratio (making a lot of the female actresses' behinds look really big) and with the center sound channel completely missing. This rendered the music and sound effects perfectly audible with the dialogue completely muffled.

Despite this, I still enjoyed the film but we swore off going back to the Secret Theater for the rest of our time.

We headed back to the ArtCraft for the 1966 Batman movie. I'd never seen it before I it was quite a treat. I don't remember laughing so much at a movie in a long time.

I also did a lot of laughing at Roy Ward Baker's Legend of Seven Golden Vampires which was unintentionally hilarious, especially as some of the same sequences of film were used repeatedly; the movie seeming to start three times before finally moving forward.

Up next at the ArtCraft were the Golden Cob Awards. Knowing that I hadn't won anything, Rich and I adjourned to dinner for a while.

We came back for the festival's main attraction, a screening of Killer Klowns from Outer Space on 35mm with the Chiodo brothers as guests and a post-screening Q&A done by Joe Bob Briggs. I'd never seen KKFOS before so this was the ideal way to do it.

With the Secret Theater out and the fare at the ArtCraft not appealing we headed back to the hotel to talk about truck driving music.

When all was said and done, B-Movie Celebration was fine. Could have been better but it wasn't too bad. I'll probably be skipping out on BMC from now on, looking for an event that caters more to cinephiles.

They have tournaments for that?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Last Action Hero Lunacy

Last week I went a little nuts.

I couldn't help it.

Last Action Hero sucksOn The Projection Booth podcast our movie of the week was Last Action Hero, one of my least favorite films. Upon hearing it called "a masterpiece" by my cohost, Mondo Justin, and being acceptable fare by our guest, Samurai from The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnight Cinema, I kind of went off in a tirade about just how much I hate that movie.

Now it's time for folks to either join with me in decrying Last Action Hero or to embrace it. I want to hear your voice... and I secretly hope you'll agree with me.

Please, download the episode or listen below. When it's over, give us a call at 734-274-5904* and leave us a message before October 15, 2011.

*Not a toll free call

Friday, September 23, 2011

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Tsui Hark, China, 2011)

Based on Chinese folk hero Di Renjie (popularized in the West by Robert Van Gulik’s “Judge Dee” stories), Tsui Hark’s latest is a return to form for the director. Written by Jialu Zhang, the film plays out against the politics China in the late 600s A.D. When officials start spontaneously combusting on the eve of Empress Wu’s inauguration, Detective Dee (Andy Lau) gets released from jail to solve the mystery. He’s accompanied by feisty royal guard Shangguan Jing'er (Li Bing Bing) and determined albino Pei Donglai (Chao Deng) as he unravels the story, digging deeper than he should. As Dee, Lau seems to be having a lot of fun and this translates from the screen. Along with the politics and immolation, there Hark showcases several set pieces and martial arts battles choreographed by Sammo Hung. I’m not usually a fan of wire-fu but the fights here look great.

Watching Detective Dee, I was often reminded of another film about a criminalist investigating apparently supernatural forces, Pitof’s Vidoq (a.k.a. Dark Portals). Both characters have been brought to the screen in the past, enjoying new life with digital effects and slick camerawork. That several people burst into flames in both films helped reinforce this idea.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Indie-Film Journalist Mike White Becomes the Face and Emcee of The Blue Water Film Festival

White will interview celebrities and filmmakers, fans can tune in on Facebook.

PORT HURON, Mich., September 13, 2011 - Acclaimed Michigan movie critic and journalist Mike White will serve as talent interviewer at the Blue Water Film Festival. October 6 " 8, 2011 the festival will include a stand-up comedy performance by television star Dave Coulier, "Mimesis" movie premiere and the screening of 17 independent films at McMorran in downtown Port Huron. Mike White will interview attending celebrities, filmmakers, actors and dignitaries. Video portions of the interviews will appear on the Blue Water Film Festival's website and Facebook page.

White is noted as a frequent contributor to publications such as "CinemaScope," "Paracinema," Detroit"s "Metro Times" and White was featured in the documentaries "David Goodis: To a Pulp" and "The People Vs. George Lucas." He authored "Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection" and weekly co-hosts "The Projection Booth" podcast.

"We wanted someone with Mike"s edgy approach and independent film industry credentials," said Jeremy Stemen, executive director of the Blue Water Film Festival. "Sharing his insight and interviews with BWFF movie-goers and fans adds an extra dimension to the great access our festival provides."
Tickets to all Blue Water Film Festival events may be purchased at

The annual Blue Water Film Festival strives to bring movies, movie stars and movie makers to Port Huron. The movies shown at the festival are diverse and enjoyable to people of all ages. For one week a year our community has the opportunity to see the stars of tomorrow in Port Huron today.

# # #

Media contact/BWFF spokesperson: Jeremy Stemen, BWFF Executive Director

(734) 658-6490 or

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Blue Water Film Festival

I'm happy to announce that I'll be participating in the Blue Water Film Festival in Port Huron, MI.

I'm going to be their "man about town," interviewing filmmakers and generally acting like a nuisance. Perfect for me. It's too early to announce all the guests but two folks who will be there for sure include comedian Dave Coulier and Chris Gore. This will be the first time Chris and I are meeting face-to-face so that promises to be fun!

I'll be in attendance from October 6-8. Tickets are available here. C'mon out for a fun time watching some Michigan-made movies.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Pre-Order Paracinema 13!

It's time to pre-order the latest copy of Paracinema Magazine, one of the best cinema mags currently available.

Paracinema #13 / Sept. 2011

Stories include...

  • Blood Is Thicker Than Fear: Maternal Madness in Horror Cinema by Ashley Avard
  • Allan Carr and the Making of Where the Boys Are ‘84 by Paul Talbot
  • Dreams That You Could Never Guess: Bela Lugosi on Poverty Row, 1940-42 by Andreas Stoehr
  • Turkish Rip-Offs by Ronnie Tucker
  • Censoring the Centipede: How the BBFC are Sewing Our Eyes Shut by Liam Underwood
  • Teenage Riot: Coming of Age in Modern Cinema by Christian Sellers

Plus much more… Get it here.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Impossibly Funky Media Coverage!

I'll post more links as they come along! Big thanks to everyone for taking the time to give me a shout!