R.I.P. The Original Soul of Godzilla

Hauro deserves a deep bow from this lifelong moster-movie fan.

BUT

 

According to us hardcores, there are three levels of Old Tech Monsters:

Worst: Lizards and frogs with shit glued onto them.

Meh: Guys in suits, no matter how nifty the suit (James Arness, as “The Thing From Another World” was the best, except I keeping seeing it wearing a cowboy hat since I found out who it was.)

Best: “Dynamation” and its relatives — this required serious art and craft and the payoff could be superb. If you haven’t seen “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” what are you waiting for?

R.I.P.: George A. Romero — Zombie, Oh, Zombie

I saw Night of the Living Dead when it was new and it scared the doo-doo out of me. Hard to imagine this was the first horror movie that wasn’t just creepy or thrilling, but brutal, assaultive, with a rough-newsreel quality that made it feel like a documentary. Plus a horrific, downbeat ending. But my favorite part of the film, which let me know I was crossing into a fresh circle of Hell, is the beginning. There’s no explanation, no setup, no warning when this horrifying guy just appears from behind a tombstone and starts to menace and then WHAM! the brother is killed — a guy you probably expected to be the hero. And then of course we get the modern trapped-in-a-scary-house theme. Fascinating that the film was such an enduring influence that it’s transformed the meaning of “zombie” until almost no one you ask could cite the original Caribbean possessed-person definition.

(Plus, he died listening to Bing Crosby, a pretty up-there choice, I say.)

[PS: Because I have been asked, yes, the Fela Kuti “Zombie” does refer to the original definition. In a very potent way.]

Movies Ain’t What They Used To Be …

Of the 25 top-grossing films of the 21st century so far, 20 have been visual-effects showcases like “Avatar,” “The Avengers” and “Jurassic World.” (The other five were entirely animated, like “Frozen.”) — New York Times Magazine

I adored animated features as a child and was enormously gratified when they re-found big-hit audiences with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? But I honestly wish there was more variety in movie smashes nowadays. More hints of theater. More emphasis on inspired writing. More grownups less all-ages.

(But like I say, at least the seating has never been better.)

R.I.P.: Jonathan Demme

(I may say more later — right now I’m having trouble processing all these people passing on.)

Equals parts filmmaker and music nut and creator after my own heart. I thought a good deal of his stuff didn’t quite work, but every time out I could precisely feel and understand where he was trying to go.

The neglected item: Melvin and Howard. Eccentric, sure, but how many movies are not only eccentric but one-of-a-kind?

Favorite uplift from source material: Silence of the Lambs. The book, which I was captivated by the flick enough to read afterward, is clunky and ordinary in comparison. Every change Demme made is an improvement. Wise to shun sequels.

The ultimate of course is Stop Making Sense. Changed the way amplified concerts were filmed. No band could ask for a finer monument. I was riveted by right from the first of the several times I’ve seen it. About halfway through it hit me: “Ho-lee crap — there’s no question this is more exciting and overwhelming than seeing the actual show. No single audience position could knock out your brains like this!”

William Hjortsberg — Somebody You Should Read, Hear?

Official site of one of the writers who fundamentally changed the character of my home town.

The musts? These —

Alp (belongs with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Catch-22 and more playful and funny than either)

Grey Matters (forgotten even among his fans — sure as hell deserving of the next lost-marvel-of-science-fiction revival)

Toro! Toro! Toro! (the “bullfight novel” the ghost of Hemingway wishes he had written)

Falling Angel (at least this was seen right away as a noir as sharp and inventive as Grey Matters in sci-fi was not)

Nevermore (unclassifiable as Alp and as much, if darker, fun).

MOVIES:

Angel Heart (a perfect adaptation of Falling Angel)

One I’d most like to see made: Morning of the Magicians

 

The High Days —

 

Gatz 1

Paradise Players production of Twelfth Night in Emigrant, MT, 1974 —

 

Feste the jester is “Gatz” — in the middle. Grand artist Russell Chatham who designed the sets, in white shirt in back.

 

Cosmik Loop Closed By GET OUT

Hmmmmm. Writer/director/producer Jordan Peele got his breakout on MADtv. MAD magazine took off when the line of EC horror comics was effectively censored. Get Out is perfect as a no-holds-barred current combo of EC and MAD on screen. Something has come full circle. Whoo-hooo-haa-HAAAH!

The ghost of William Gains has opened one of the most expensive bottles in his otherworldly wine cellar.