The Horror! The Horror! Our Top Reasons to Monster Mash it up at the 5th Annual MONSTERAMA CONVENTION

Posted on: Oct 3rd, 2018 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

The horror! The horror! Atlanta kicks off its Halloween celebrations with a bang! Spook up the weekend with a whole lotta horror classics by haunting on down to the fifth annual Monsterama Convention invading the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta and haunting all your senses this weekend (Oct. 5-7)! From legendary actors to spookshows to monstrous sightings, here are our top reasons to get your classic monster fix at MONSTERAMA!

1)  200th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF FRANKENSTEIN. Valentine Wolfe is back for another year with the release of their new creation,THE HAUNTING OF MARY SHELLEY,providing an eerie auditory experience as they accompany Thomas Edison’s 1910 classic silent horror film, FRANKENSTEIN, on Saturday at 1pm, featuring narration by Kool Kat Madeline Brumby!

2) SILVER SCREAM SPOOK SHOW. Kool Kat Shane Morton, a.k.a. ghost host with the most, Professor Morte and the Silver Scream Spook Show featuring the Go-Go Ghouls will terrify with a live spook show featuring special guest Luciana Paluzzi at 4pm, followed by a spook-tacular screening of Kinji Fukasaku’s THE GREEN SLIME (1968) on 16mm, Saturday beginning at 4pm!

3) FANGTASTIC FILM. It’s monster movie madness with screenings of horrorific classics (mostly screening in 16mm) including Jules Bass’ MAD MONSTER PARTY (1967), Don Dohler’s FIEND (1980), Howard Ziehm’s FLESH GORDON (1974), Kinji Fukasaku’s THE GREEN SLIME (1968), Thomas Edison’s FRANKENSTEIN (1910), Paul Annett’s THE BEAST MUST DIE (1974), Mel Welles’ LADY FRANKENSTEIN (1971), Paul Naschy’s NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981), Val Guest’s WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970), Sam Irvin’s ELVIRA’S HAUNTED HILLS (2001), Jim O’Connolly’s THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969)
and more!

4) CINEPROV RIFFS THE FIEND. Madness, monsters and corpses OH MY! Hilarity ensues as New MST3K writer Larry Johnson and CINEPROV riffs Don Dohler’s FIEND (1980) in 16mm, Friday at 10pm!

5) SPOOKTACULAR GUESTS. Catch some killer guests, including our Kool Kat of the Week, Director Jeff Burr (FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM), Sam Irvin (ELVIRA’S HAUNTED HILLS; OBLIVION), Mark Goddard (LOST IN SPACE; THE RIFLEMAN), Luciana Paluzzi (THUNDERBALL; THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN), Rachel Talalay (FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE; TANK GIRL), Ken Sagoes (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3), creaturific artist Kool Kat Mark Maddox, Kool Kat Shane Morton, ghost host with the most, a.k.a. Professor Morte, glamour ghoul Kool Kat Madeline Brumby and so many more!

6) MONSTER MAKEOVERS.  Get gore-gous with monster make-up galore as part of this year’s Makers Track! Kevin Moe delivers a monstrousMask Makingpanel, Fri. at 9:30pm! Bethany Marchman-Arriagada apes it up with herGirl Makes Gorillapanel, Sat. at 10am! And win some monstrous prizes with the annual FACE-ON make-up contest, Sat. at 5:30pm! And don’t forget to stick around for a creeping cornucopia of frightful faces and monster masks!

7) WARPED WRITERS & LITERARY PANELS. Writers make the monstrous world go ‘round, so check out guest authors, Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great grand-nephew (DRACUL; DRACULA THE UN-DEAD), Nancy A. Collins (VAMPIRELLA; SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK), Georges Jeanty (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Comics), James A. Moore (THE LAST SACRIFICE; BLOOD RED), Charles Rutledge and vampire aficionado J. E. Browning (GRAPHIC HORROR: MOVIE MONSTER MEMORIES), and so many more!

8) SCARE-TASTIC SHOPPING. Horror cons are the perfect place to stock up on both classic horror memorabilia, cult classics on DVD and creepy clothing, costumes and accessories. So come on down to the dealer’s room and check out all the toys, collectibles and monstrous goodies you can get your ghoulish little hands on!

9) MONSTER PROM. Hey all you boils and ghouls, get frightfully funky at this year’s Monster Prom, Saturday at 8pm! Dust off the old rat-infested tux, clear out the cobwebs, shine up your shoes and get ready to do the Monster Mash, and maybe even Time-Warp into the wee hours of the morning!

MONSTERAMA main con hours are Fri. Oct. 5 from 2 to 12 a.m.; Sat. Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sun. Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more info, visit the MONSTERAMA official website here.

 

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Murder, Mayhem and Madness! Our Top Horrorific Reasons to Haunt on Down to WOMEN IN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL 2018

Posted on: Oct 3rd, 2018 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

The Women in Horror Film Festival kills it at Crowne Plaza Atlanta & Conference Center – Peachtree City this Thursday-Sunday Oct. 4-7. Festival creators Kool Kat Vanessa Ionta Wright and Samantha Kolesnik showcase one helluva line-up of creative kickass female minds in every aspect of the horrorific cinematic and filmmaking experience, contemporary and retro alike, with over 70 short films to whet your most nightmarish appetities!. The festival has much to offer all the genre cinephiles in your life, from slasher gore-fests to comedic catastrophes, check out our top reasons to get your spine tingled at the WIHFF!

1) BOOGIE DOWN AND BRING OUT THE DEAD. The gals of WIHFF throw some hellacious parties! So guys and ghouls, why not VIP it up and make your way to the fest on Thursday night, get your photos taken on the Dead Carpet and get hell-bent at the VIP Party (Oct. 4/7:30pm (photos); 8pm (party)). Or get horrorfied on Friday at the After Party, hosted by HorrorPack (Oct. 5/11:00pm). And the rest of the fest wouldn’t be the same without after parties on Saturday (Oct. 6/10:30pm) and Sunday (Oct. 7/9:00pm), so why not monster mash it up with the best of ‘em!

2) MARIANNE MADDALENA. One killer genre Producer, Marianne Maddalena has produced 26 plus films and television series including THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991), WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994), SCREAM (1996), DRACULA 2000 (2000), THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006) and more!

3) TRINA PARKS. Best known for her role as Thumper in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971), Parks’ career spanned the ‘70s with appearances in an episode of Rod Serling’s NIGHT GALLERY (“The Phantom Farmhouse” – 1971); DARKTOWN STRUTTERS (1975); THE MUTHERS (1976) and more. She came back deadlier than ever in David DeCoteau’s IMMORTAL KISS: QUEEN OF THE NIGHT (2012).

4) ELM STREET GORE-GAL, HEATHER LANGENKAMP. Langenkamp won our horror hearts with her portrayal of nightmare-filled teen Nancy Thompson in Wes Craven’s ‘80s classic spawning its own hellacious franchise, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984).

5) FRIGHTENING FILMS! The WIHFF has heads rolling with three days of non-stop action filled to the bloody brim with films galore! Friday’s (Oct. 5) schedule includes an Experimental Horror Block, a Horror Comedy Shorts Block, a Features Screening (SHE WAS SO PRETTY: BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE, dir. Brooklyn Ewing), a Sci-Fi Shorts Block, an International Shorts Block, a second Feature Screening & World Premiere (BUGS: A TRILOGY, dir. Simone Kisiel), and a Macabre Thrills Block! Saturday (Oct. 6) terrifies with a Psychological Shorts Block, a Thriller Shorts Block, and a Feature Screening (ECHOES OF FEAR, dir. Brian and Laurence Avenet-Bradley)! And Sunday (Oct. 7) gets gory and kicks off the day with a Feature Screening (ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, dir. Rebekah and David Ian McKendry), a Regional Horror Shorts Block (including Kool Kat Dayna Noffke’s 2018 “Teaser”), an Animation Horror Shorts Block, a Feature Screening (RELICT: A MESOPOTAMIC TALE, dir. Laura Sanchez Acosta), a Student Horror Shorts Block and a Body Horror Shorts Block! So, come on out and discover some new terrifying talent!

6) KILLER PANELS. WIHFF offers several killer panels including From Indie to Studio – Making the Leapfeaturing one helluva line-up with Gillian Albinski (THE WALKING DEAD; THE STRANGERS), Mark Simon (ONE MISSED CALL; NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET III), and Marianne Maddelena (Oct. 6/12:30pm). Or catch the Diversity & Visibility panel featuring Trina Parks and horror author Mylo Carbia (Oct. 6/4pm).

7) WARPED WRITERS. There wouldn’t be films without writers, and of so WIHFF offers up highly acclaimed horror/thriller/suspense writer Mylo Carbia, a.k.a. Hollywood’s No. 1 horror film ghostwriter turned author (THE RAPING OF AVA DESANTIS / VIOLETS ARE RED). Carbia will be selling and signing during the festival.

8) SCARE-TASTIC SHOPPING.  You won’t want to miss out on the horrorific wares the festival vendors have to offer, from handmade horrors, to gothic gifts. During your stay, why not stock up on macabre movie memorabilia, cult classics and creepy clothing, costumes, accessories and more. Keep your eyes peeled for our fiend and horror filmmaker, Lynne Hanson and her spooky horror art! Vendors will be selling/meeting guests from daily during the festival.

Women in Horror Film Festival main festival hours are Fri. Oct.5  from 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.; Sat. Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; and Sun. Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more info, visit the Women in Horror Film Festival official website here.

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RETRO REVIEW: Don’t Call Me Nico, Reviewing NICO, 1988

Posted on: Sep 6th, 2018 By:

by Brooke Sonenreich
Contributing Writer

NICO (2018); Dir. Susanna Nicchiarelli; Starring Trine Dyrholm, John Gordon Sinclair, Anamaria Marinca; Opens Friday, Sept. 7 at the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

“Don’t call me Nico. Call me by my real name: Christa,” says the disheveled, 45-year-old Danish actress, Trine Dyrholm who plays Nico in NICO, 1988.

The film is a biopic of the last two years of the life of Christa Päffgen, better known as Nico from The Velvet Underground. However, the story is an authentic representation of a time long after Nico’s involvement with The Velvet Underground. It’s a look at Christa’s middle-aged debauchery as she tours through Europe with a group of amateur bandmates. In between driving through beautiful roads, the artist participates in interviews that often bore her with questions concerning her being Lou Reed’s femme fatale. She seems annoyed at, if not completely oblivious to, the fact that without The Velvet Underground her solo rock career wouldn’t be as successful as it is. Indeed, it is her spot in 1960s history that makes her important to her fans more than anything else.

She makes a respectable point though when speaking at an Italian press conference: “Well, I only sang three songs with them. The rest of the time I was playing the tambourine in the background. I did the same thing when I was a model; I was there for my image. Look, my life started after the experience with The Velvet Underground.”

The film moves slowly through Christa’s ups and downs on the road, sometimes following her into the bathroom as she brazenly shoots up heroin into her bruised ankle. Still, it moves through these spaces with little judgment.

Trine Durholm in NICO 1988, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Often times director, Susanna Nicchiarelli, oscillates between archived footage from Nico’s time with Andy Warhol’s stylish gang to the late 1980s moments of her on stage at various European venues. In contrast to the archived footage of her youth, the singer now shamelessly indulges in food and alcohol. She celebrates her unkempt look as she confidently states, “I’ve been on the top, I’ve been on the bottom; both places are empty.”

Perhaps the most memorable scene is after the star does heroin in a club restroom. She enters the stage to perform the song “Nature Boy” with the backing of an Italian jazz band. It’s a solemn rendition of the song and it conjures up emotions regarding her estranged, suicidal son Christian Aaron Päffgen, or “Ari.”

The film picks up when Ari joins the tour for quality time with his estranged mother. In a rare moment of desperation, when Christa is doing methadone in a room next door, Ari slits his wrists and winds up in a foreign hospital. Here we voyeuristically experience the downside of the Päffgen family’s drug use. Despite Christa’s seamless ability to perform while on heroin, the drugs have infected her and her son’s lives in ways that become more visible than the bruises on her ankle.

The conclusion is weak compared to the rest of the film, if only because of its lazy reliance on end title cards to inform us of the star’s actual death. Nevertheless, even though the biopic is slow moving, it stands well as an entertaining and thorough look at Christa’s last moments in the limelight.

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RETRO REVIEW: Get Scandalous as the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema Screens Matt Tyrnauer’s Expose on Legendary Procurer, Scotty Bowers, SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD, Opening August 31

Posted on: Aug 31st, 2018 By:

by Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (2017); Dir. Matt Tyrnauer; Opens Friday, August 31 at the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

Director Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary, SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (2017) is many things. It is a romp through the most sordid tales of Hollywood’s past; it is an in-depth observation of LGBTQ culture during the repressive studio era; and it is the curious and complex story of one Scotty Bowers, Hollywood’s most notable pimp. It is important to mention that both Scotty and his former employees do not consider him to be a pimp, insisting that he never took money from those working for him. Regardless of the terminology used to describe him, the fact is that Scotty Bowers spent the postwar years in Hollywood setting up Tinseltown’s best and brightest with one of a gaggle of young men that hung around Scotty’s gas station on Hollywood Boulevard. In an era when being outed as gay would at the very least cost you your career and reputation, and in some cases put you in a mental institution or behind bars, the secretive services provided by Scotty proved to be an invaluable outlet for many stars to pursue their lifestyle behind closed doors, away from the paparazzi and the adoring fans that would be devastated to learn that their idols were anything less than the ideal straight laced, heterosexual figureheads of the Postwar era.

At 91 years old, one would assume that Scotty Bowers would choose to slow down in his twilight years, long withdrawn from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. This assumption could not be farther from the truth, as we see in film. Bright-eyed and talkative, Bowers has the enthusiasm of a man decades younger than his ninety-plus years. He and his wife Louise putter about their Los Angeles home and maintain active social lives that transcend their age (Scotty goes to publishing parties and meets up with his old employees; Louise sings at various nightclubs in full black-tie regalia).

The film captures Scotty’s most recent endeavor: the publication of his 2012 book FULL SERVICE, wherein he recounts his dealings with the stars. The book claims that countless celebrities thought to be heterosexual were in fact bisexual and gay, as evidenced by Scotty hooking them up with one of the many young men (and even a few women) under his employ. Scotty rattles names off like it’s nobody’s business (Cary Grant, George Cukor, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Vivien Leigh among others). Many readers are concerned whether outing celebrities that presented as straight while alive is disrespectful, considering the fact that they had no chance to consent to being outed. Bowers vehemently denies any disrespect on his part, claiming that because he chose to wait until every star mentioned in the book had passed away, he is abstaining from causing damage that could have destroyed their reputation in life. Whether or not this is a morally-sound decision is up to the viewer, but Scotty brushes any accusations of libel off his shoulder.

As the film progresses, another less ribald and optimistic side of Scotty begins to be unearthed. He and his wife live in a hoarding hellscape. Scotty unwilling or unable to part with the trinkets he’s collected over the decades filling both his home, a second home, and multiple garages. He does not seem to consider this to be much of an issue, but his wife mentions in passing that his refusal to see a therapist plays a large part in his dysfunction. Scotty slowly begins to open up about his past and it is befallen with personal tragedies, from the deaths of his brother in WWII and his daughter when she was only 23. The onset of the AIDS crisis took the lives of many of his friends and colleagues and led to Scotty’s decision to retire from his career as a pimp. His unwavering work ethic and commitment to “show up and get the job done” left him emotionally disconnected, unable to cope with the scale of his heartbreak. The years spent bottling up the pain came to a head when Scotty began to come apart at the seams on camera, finally acknowledging and coming to terms with his pain in the most emotionally intimate moment in the film.

While it is true that SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD takes a more serious turn when delving into Scotty’s past, it is by and large a fun and witty film, chock full of off the wall stories about celebrity sexcapades straight from the source itself. While Scotty’s story is not one that is well-known by the general movie-going audience, it is a story worthy of being told, warts and all. Be sure to catch Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary exclusively at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema opening Friday, August 31.

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Cult-Classics and Creature Features, The Center for Puppetry Arts Unveils a Thrilling Special Exhibition with Puppet-Master Jim Henson, “The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic,” Opening to the Public August 31!

Posted on: Aug 29th, 2018 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

On the cusp of Netflix’ upcoming ten-part prequel fantasy-adventure series, “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” and Atlanta’s 32nd Annual Dragon*Con, the Center for Puppetry Arts unleashes the mythical world of Thra with an extra special exhibit, “Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic,” opening to the public August 31. Guys, gals and Gefling, why not take a fantastical leap through time and explore the behind-the-scenes magic with puppet masters, Jim Henson, Brian Froud, Frank Oz and more!

Get up close and personal with the Gefling, the Skeksis and more as this special exhibition features more than fifty rare items on display. You’ll have the chance to experience prototypes and early versions of the film’s characters we’ve come to love, film props, costumes and more. Froud’s original concepts for the film are revealed, along with behind-the-scenes film production photos. You’ll also have the chance to experience the impact and legacy created by this cult-classic as you wander through the land of Thra, featuring the details and artistry that went into creating this mystical masterpiece, along with its influence on Henson’s subsequent film, LABYRINTH (1986).

For those who hold a special place in their heart for Jim Henson and THE DARK CRYSTAL (1982) and are craving more fantasy and adventure, you’re in luck, because the center will be hosting The Dark Crystal Ball on Thurs. August 30, featuring extra special guests Brian Henson [Henson’s son and Chairman of the Jim Henson Company]; Halle Stanford [producer of Netflix’ “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance”]; and Kirk Thatcher [Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and director, and judge of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge]. Get gussied up in fantasy masquerade attire, because you won’t want to miss out on the New Year’s Eve-style countdown to the Great Conjunction, heavy hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and more while you get down with the creatures of Thra! General Admission: $175, which includes all of the above, as well as admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum; VIP Admission: $300, which includes the above plus entry to the event an hour early, a special cocktail hour with the special guests, and a special gift bag. So boogie down with the best of ‘em and come celebrate the Center for Puppetry Arts’ exciting new exhibit, “Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic!”

Special announcement: Dragon*Con goers will get a chance to catch the exhibit a day early at a special price. Just bring your con badge to the center and you’ll receive special $10 pricing for admission to the World of Puppetry Museum (which includes the Dark Crystal exhibit), valid Aug. 30 – Sept. 9!

Museum admission includes access to the “Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic exhibit and the full Worlds of Puppetry Museum, featuring the largest collection of Jim Henson puppets and artifacts in the world, as well as a global gallery, featuring puppet traditions from around the globe. Tickets can be purchased online here or by calling 404-873-3391. Museum hours: Tue.-Fri. (9am – 5pm); Sat. (10am – 5pm); and Sun. (12pm – 5pm).

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RETRO REVIEW: You Can’t Help Falling in LOVE, CECIL, Opening July 27 at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema

Posted on: Jul 27th, 2018 By:

by Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

LOVE, CECIL (2018); Dir. Lisa Immordino Vreeland; Narrated by Rupert Everett; Zeigeist Films/Kino Lorber; Opens Friday, July 27 at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

“Be daring. Be different. Be impractical.” Such are the words of Cecil Beaton, famed photographer, designer, all-around renaissance man, and the subject of Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s highly entertaining documentary LOVE, CECIL, opening Fri. July 27 at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema.

Through interviews with Beaton’s peers and admirers, narration drawn directly from personal diaries, and archive footage of the man himself, Immordino Vreeland, who also directed PEGGY GUGGENHEIM:ART ADDICT (2015; Retro Review here) crafts an intimate portrait of the visionary force that was Cecil Beaton. To document every photograph taken, every costume designed, or every diary entry written by Beaton would be a Herculean task, seeing as how his massive body of work spans from the early 1920s to the end of his life in the late 1970s, but Immordino Vreeland touches upon each era of Beaton’s work with such grace and brevity that the viewer feels as though they have accompanied Beaton on his artistic journey each step of the way.

Born in Hampstead, London in 1904, Cecil Beaton came into the world with less of a clear career goal and more of a broad artistic flair that manifested itself in every part of his life. Instead of attending classes at University and receiving what one would consider a “traditional” education, Beaton  spent his days creating theater clubs, performing as a female impersonator, and photographing his friends, many of whom were a part of the London socialite group known as the “Bright Young People.” Through this circle, Cecil became enamored with the aristocrat Stephen Tennant, and thus began a long pattern of Beaton finding himself infatuated with both men and women who did not necessarily return his affections. In one of the most commendable facets of the film, Immordino does not eschew Beaton’s sexuality, but chooses to highlight it, pulling direct quotes from Beaton’s diary where he explicitly states that he is attracted to men. This is not to say that Beaton did not have feelings for women as well however, as his long lasting obsession and possible affair with Greta Garbo is discussed in the film at length.

After his years as a Bright Young Person, Cecil moved to New York and was soon hired by Vogue, where he became a noted fashion photographer. Beaton’s career highlights are too numerous to list in full, but among his most notable achievements Immordino features are the portraits of the Queen Mother, Wallis Simpson, and the rest of the royal family, his wartime photographs taken during World War II (Beaton took over 7,000), and the costume and set design for films such as GIGI (1958) and MY FAIR LADY (1964), for which he won Academy Awards for both Art Direction and Costume Design on the latter.

No matter what the medium, Cecil was noted for being able to do more than just make something pretty; he was able to create an entire mood, and present the world as he wanted it to be seen as opposed to how it appears on the surface. His portraits of royalty, Hollywood starlets, and ordinary citizens and close friends all have a classic yet Modernist feel to them, an aesthetic that would carry over to his works on the big screen. While many artists who achieved fame in the pre-WWII era through the 1950s failed to keep up with the rapidly evolving youth culture, Beaton continued to mesh with whatever was fresh and innovative. He made art with the “Bright Young People” of this new generation, including Mick Jagger and Twiggy, and still maintained his classic sense of style and Jazz Age wit.

Cecil Beaton may not be a household name to many in 2018, but as LOVE, CECIL proves, the man had a sensibility to him that remains timeless, and his art continues to inspire those who seek to eschew the traditional in favor of the unique. Be sure to catch Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s charming new film to have a chance to fall in love with Cecil.

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RETRO REVIEW: Sophie Fiennes Pays Tribute to Fierce, No Holds Barred Rebel Grace Jones with her GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI Documentary, opening at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema April 27

Posted on: Apr 24th, 2018 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI (2017); Dir. Sophie Fiennes; Starring Grace Jones, Jean-Paul Goude, Sly & Robbie; Opens Friday, April 27 at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

Grace Jones has affectionately been dubbed an “iconic extraterrestrial” raising the bar of hardcore, rebellious femininity. Sophie Fiennes’ [THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY (2012)/dir.; THE PERVERTS GUIDE TO CINEMA (2006)/dir.] portrayal of the larger-than life pop icon transports Jones back to earth, exposing the soft underbelly Jones’ audiences rarely get a chance to experience. Nearly five years in the making, Fiennes followed Jones during the recording of her 2008 album, HURRICANE and through her 2009 World Tour, giving audiences a small glimpse into the life of the legendary Ms. Jones in the first feature-length documentary dedicated solely to the pop music icon, also known for her roles in CYBER BANDITS (1995); A VIEW TO A KILL (1985); CONAN THE DESTROYER (1984) and more.

Throughout the film, Fiennes dynamically paints Jones’ story using bright reds, blues and greens, explaining that “Bloodlight” in Jones’ regional Jamaican dialect refers to the red light that illuminates when an artist is recording. The film opens on Jones belting out “Slave to the Rhythm” during her 2009 World Tour and then we’re transported back in time to Jamaica where she’s preparing to record HURRICANE. It’s during this trip that she reunites with family and friends and we are slowly acquainted with Jones’ childhood demons   which helped create the androgynous, gender-defying powerful presence we all know and adore, Grace Jones.

On stage, Jones is a GOD. She is a GODDESS. In fact, she’s both—a chameleon channeling the extremes of societal roles. Throughout the film we are given the chance to experience Jones’ dynamic live stage show with performances of her new wave/post-punk tune, “Pull Up to the Bumper,” originally released on her 1981 NIGHTCLUBBING album, and “Williams’ Blood,” released in 2008 as part of HURRICANE. In the short span of 115 minutes, Fiennes gently exposes Jones’ traumatic history while giving Jones the ability to enlighten her fans on how she became the icon we’ve all grown to admire.  Jones delves deep into her past, exposing the trauma she faced as a child perpetuated by her stepfather, Master Patrick (Mas. P). Jones details her transformation from real-life woman to domineering stage presence, stating, “I’m playing out Mas P. That’s why I’m scary. That’s the male dominant scary person I become.”

Jones was born in Jamaica and was transplanted to Syracuse, New York as a young teen. She rose to stardom having the gift to mesmerize crowds and soon became a muse to many artists and photographers, including photographer Jean-Paul Gaude, father of Jones’ son, Paulo Gaude. She wears many masks (literally and figuratively) in the entertainment industry, from singer/songwriter to record producer to supermodel to movie star. Fiennes touches on many of these aspects of Jones’ life throughout the film. We get a chance to unmask the artist as we delve further into her more domesticated roles as mother, grandmother, sister, lover, and friend, or what in Jones’ regional dialect is dubbed, “bami,” bread, the substance of daily life.

Fiennes hand-delivers an intimate portrait of a behind-the-scenes “real life” Jones, blended with her gargantuan, overtly experimental avant-garde, cutting-edge stage presence. Fittingly, Fiennes utilizes sharp cuts and fades as she ever so slowly reveals the tale of Jones’ childhood through the memories provided by Jones’ family and friends. GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI is a film well worth experiencing, especially for those who have a deep love for pop culture. If you are hungry for brutally amazing strong female leads, Fiennes’ documentary is exactly what you need. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian brilliantly says of Fiennes’ film, “It’s a reminder that films about female singing stars need not be gallant tributes to tragically doomed fragility.”

Grace Jones is anything but fragile, and if there ever was a glass ceiling holding her back, you can rest assured that she smashed it to unrecognizable bits with poise and grace, as she so delicately puts it, “Sometimes you have to be a high flying bitch.”

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RETRO REVIEW: Flying Castles, Forest Spirits, and Valleys of Winds: Midtown Art’s Studio Ghibli Collection April 13-19, 2018

Posted on: Apr 10th, 2018 By:

by Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

Do you remember the first anime film you ever saw? The chances are fairly high that whichever one popped in your head, it was a Studio Ghibli production. Prior to the mid-’80s, anime films did not receive wide releases that spanned continents and instead found moderate success at home in Japan. This all changed very quickly upon the release of Hayao Miyazaki’s NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND in 1984, a film that garnered massive financial success in Japan and international critical acclaim. Encouraged by the success of NAUSICAA, Miyazaki, along with fellow director Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki, have created 21 films for Studio Ghibli since its inception, with at least one more directed by Miyazaki in the works.

The Studio Ghibli films are often the first exposure many Americans have to feature-length Japanese animation and have garnered beloved cult cinema status for many fans in the U.S. If you consider yourself to be one of these fans, then you will be delighted to learn that Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema will be screening eight Studio Ghibli classics, starting Friday April 13 and running through Thursday April 19. And if you have a friend that has yet to have met King Totoro, No-Face, and all manner of talking cats and warrior princesses, this is the perfect opportunity to show them the wonders of the world of Ghibli right here in Atlanta!

SPIRITED AWAY (2001) (4/13 & 4/17) The young protagonist Chihiro is based in part on the 10-year-old daughter of a friend of Miyazaki’s. Meeting her inspired Miyazaki to craft a new film despite the fact that he was considering retirement at the time. Chihiro and her parents come across what appears to be an abandoned theme park in the country. Unbeknownst to them, the pavilion is really an otherworldly bathhouse that plays host to demons, gods and spirits of all kinds. It falls upon to Chihiro to save her family and escape the clutches of the most powerful spirits.

NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984) (4/13 & 4/16). Technically speaking, this film precedes the formation of Studio Ghibli by a year, with Nausicaa being released in 1985 and the studio being created in 1986. Thousands of years after nuclear war has ravaged the Earth, a peaceful princess becomes embroiled in a battle to save her land from both the the poisonous jungle that borders her kingdom and the violent and power hungry political factions that lie just beyond.

HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004) (4/14 & 4/18). Actor Christian Bale was so impressed after seeing SPIRITED AWAY that he expressed interest in playing any role in the English dub of HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, no matter how small. He ended up voicing the male lead. A curse laid by a petty witch onto young and insecure Sophie turns the 18-year-old into an elderly woman. Sophie soon discovers that the spell can be reversed, and her plan leads her to a powerful, mysterious wizard and his flying castle.

PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997) (4/14 & 4/18) holds the title of being the most expensive anime film ever produced at the time, having cost around $23.5 million to create. This investment paid off, as it went on to out-gross E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) and become the most profitable film in Japan until the release of TITANIC (1997). A young woman raised by wolves leads her fellow woodland creatures in rebellion against the industrial town that seeks to vanquish them. She is aided by a warrior from far out west who seeks a remedy for the curse that has befallen him.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (4/15 & 4/19). The character of King Totoro became so beloved that sales of plush toys in his likeness boosted profits for the film considerably, and he went on to become the official Studio Ghibli mascot. Two sisters find themselves in an unfamiliar environment after their family moves to the countryside for the health of their ill mother where they come across a playful bunch of nature spirits, led by the lovable King Totoro, who bring joy and adventure into the girl’s lives.

 

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KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE (1989) (4/15 & 4/19). This film can be considered a work of alternate historical fiction, as it is set in an unnamed European town where neither World War I or World War II took place. Upon turning 13 years old, apprentice witch Kiki leaves home for the city with her feline companion Jiji to learn the two most important skills a young witch can master: flying on one’s broomstick and personal independence.

THE WIND RISES (2013) (4/16). Miyazaki stated that he had never cried upon watching one of his own films, until seeing THE WIND RISES for the first time. A biopic that chronicles the life of Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi from his childhood dreams of aviation to his rise to success as an engineer, as well as the romance and war that come to shape his world.

CASTLE IN THE SKY (1986) (4/17). The titular castle drew inspiration from both the airborne island found in Jonathan Swift’s novel GULLIVER”S TRAVELS and the real life Paronella Park located in Far North Queensland, Australia. After a young boy befriends a mysterious girl he finds hovering in the sky, he is drawn into an aeronautical adventure filled with pirates, airborne ships, and a floating island that may hold the key to discovering the girl’s true identity.

Purchase advance tickets here.

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RETRO REVIEW: Big Movies Come in Small Reels: This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Short Films Are All Winners at the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema

Posted on: Feb 8th, 2018 By:

by Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2018: ANIMATION & LIVE ACTION (2017);  Opens Friday, February 9 at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema

With awards season in full swing, cinema-loving Atlantans may be wondering where they can have a more personal experience with this year’s nominees. While Atlanta is now rivaling Los Angeles in terms of film production, the bulk of movie premieres and award ceremonies continue to take place in Hollywood. If you’ve already bought your Oscar party decorations and filled out your personal ballot but you’re still wanting more Academy goodness, Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema has got you covered. Starting Friday February 9, OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2018: ANIMATION & LIVE ACTION will be screening there. With 10 shorts total (five live action and five animated) that range from heart-wrenching tragedies to whimsical reveries, there are sure to be some new favorites for everyone.

Dekalb Elementary

Many of the entries in this year’s short film categories are inspired by or direct retellings of true events. This is certainly the case with Reed Van Dyk’s Dekalb Elementary, which recounts an incident on August 20, 2013 in which an armed man holed himself in the front office of an Atlanta elementary school with violent intent. Tarra Riggs shines in her role as the secretary who has the fate of hundreds on her shoulders when she is forced to negotiate with the gunman. The film is filled with tense moments, none of which feel unrealistic or nerve-wracking for their own sake. While it is very easy to exploit real life trauma for cheap thrills, Dekalb Elementary does no such thing, and instead chooses to showcase the immense emotional capacity of the actors to convey the many nuances of such a terrifying situation.

The Silent Child

It is not uncommon to see young children struggle with the transition of leaving their mother at home to start school for the first time. For the protagonist of The Silent Child, that transition is made even more difficult due to her deafness. When Libby’s parents hire a sign language proficient nanny, played by Rachel Shenton, to aid her in communication, the child’s difficult situation starts to become less of a burden. But while Libby’s signing skills begin to improve and the bond between the two strengthens, outside forces begin to inhibit Libby’s opportunities for growth. The Silent Child raises many questions regarding how a parent should handle the education of a deaf child, and the consequences that can arise from those decisions.

The Eleven O’Clock

If the comedy in The Eleven o’Clock can be described in any one word, that word would be “maddening.” The film starts off innocently enough: a psychiatrist arrives at his office at the start of the work day, whereupon he finds out his regular secretary has been replaced by a temp for the day, who reminds him that his 11:00 AM client is soon to arrive. The client’s ailment? He thinks he is a psychiatrist—more specifically a psychiatrist that practices in the very same office, who also has an 11:00 appointment with a client who believes he is a psychiatrist. What follows is a “who’s on first” routine that manages to be both hilarious and unsettling. As the two men quarrel over who’s who, the audience begins to question their own identities and perceptions.

Mose (L.B. Wiliams) in “Emmett Till”

The tragic, short life of Emmett Till has been taught, or at the very least mentioned, in many schools when discussing the roots of the Civil Rights movement in America. But it is rare to have the chance to experience his story through a medium as immersive as cinema. Kevin Wilson Jr.’s My Nephew Emmett seeks to provide that immersion by following Till’s uncle, Mose, in his struggle to protect Emmett from the violent hate-mongers seeking mob justice over an altercation between Emmett and a white woman that is still disputed to this day. L.B. Williams’ portrayal of Mose is nuanced and heartbreaking, and stands out in a piece that breathe new life into a piece of history worth re-examining.

Watu Wote

News coverage of international conflicts, specifically disputes rooted in religious and/or ideological differences, often have a tendency to rely upon the violence and cruelty occurring between the disparaging groups, as opposed to the bond that can be found between common citizens swept up in the strife. Watu Wote (Katja Benrath) illuminates the power of this bond with the story of a Christian woman’s journey through Kenya during a particularly violent period in the county’s Muslim-Christian dispute. She is initially wary of her fellow travelers (Muslims), but comes to learn that human goodness can transcend animosity. Real life acts of heroism are not accompanied by fanfare, nor do they always have a strictly “happy” ending. This is a film that celebrates these oft-neglected heroes.

LOU (Pixar)

Try, for a moment, to imagine a piece of media created by Pixar that lacks charm. It’s harder than you would think. Their 19th original animated short, Lou, is no exception to this rule. The film opens on an elementary school playground, where the viewer meets LOU, an anthropomorphized pile of children’s belongings that have become separated from their owners and made their way into the lost and found the bin one way or another. A schoolyard bully finds new joy in keeping the lost belongings for himself, and LOU takes it upon itself to deal out justice (in the wholesome, whimsical Pixar style, of course).

Garden Party.

Animal lovers and those with a flair for the mysterious will get a kick out of Garden Party, Florian Babikian and Vincent Bayoux’s beautifully animated short that follows a gaggle of frogs and toads on an adventure through an elegant mansion with some cryptic secrets. There is no dialogue outside of the croaks of the amphibians, but the directors are able to create a setting so lush and compelling that it allows the audience to create their own narrative; one that can be fanciful, deadly, or even a mix of both.

Revolting Rhymes.

The works of British author Roald Dahl are no stranger to the big screen. Revolting Rhymes, directed by Ian Lachauer and Jakob Schuh, is another entry into this particular echelon. As a modern take on classic fairytales, Revolting Rhymes brings characters like Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and all of their companions and foes together in one very meta story. In classic Dahl fashion, the innocence of a fairy tale is interlaced with dry wit and some fairly dark undertones, as well as some refreshingly self-sufficient heroines. This is a perfect short for the fanciful yet wry young one in your life.

Many parents have special rituals that they share with their children. This could be something as common as a tuck-in at bedtime, or, in the case of Negative Space, it can be something less common, like packing a suitcase. Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter craft breathtaking visuals that accompany the exploration of a relationship between a father and son, all centered around the process of packing one’s suitcase. Negative Space reminds us to appreciate even the most seemingly inconsequential moments in life, and explore the depth of when we are able to share these moments with others.

Dear Basketball.

One does not have to be a basketball fan, or even a sports fan period, to enjoy Dear Basketball. As Kobe Bryant professes his love of the game through his expressive narration, it is clear even to those who don’t or have never kept up with basketball to understand his reverence for it. Accompanied by magnificent pencil animation, Bryant recounts his childhood dreams of becoming a famous athlete, and the years of hard work that accompanied the fulfillment of that dream. The short has brief runtime, yet manages to capture years of passion and success. As Bryant’s professional career nears its conclusion, Dear Basketball feels like the perfect bookend to a long and fulfilling relationship between a man and his passion.

 

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The Horror! The Horror! Our Top 10 Reasons to Spook on Down to the 4th Annual MONSTERAMA CONVENTION

Posted on: Sep 27th, 2017 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Illustration by Monsterama guest Kat Hudson

What are you up to this weekend? We’re monster mashing it up with a helluva killer Kool Kat extravaganza and more at the 4rd Annual MONSTERAMA CONVENTION, creeping and crawling into town this Friday-Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta! From legendary actors to ghastly séances, here are our top reasons to get your classic monster fix at MONSTERAMA!

1)  THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI SCORED LIVE. Valentine Wolfe is back for another year, providing an eerie auditory experience as they accompany Robert Wiene’s 1920 classic silent horror film, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, Saturday at 1pm!

2) HOUDINI SEÁNCE. You won’t want to miss MONSTERAMA’s first ever séance! And who better to raise your spiritual expectations with a conjuring of medium debunker and escape artist extraordinaire Harry Houdini, than ghoulish guests Kool Kat Shane Morton, Daniel Roebuck and Marcus Koch! Raise your spirits Friday at 11pm!

3) SILVER SCREAM SPOOK SHOW.  Kool Kat Shane Morton, a.k.a. ghost host with the most, Professor Morte and the Silver Scream Spook Show featuring the Go-Go Ghouls and guest, Dick Miller will terrify with a live spook show followed by a spook-tacular screening of Roger Corman’s THE TERROR (1963) on 16mm, Saturday beginning at 4pm!

4) FANGTASTIC FILM AND TWISTED TELEVISION.  It’s monster movie madness with screenings of horrorific classics (mostly screening in 16mm) including Charles B. Griffiths’s DR. HECKYL AND MR. HYPE (1980), featuring guest Dick Miller; Roman Polanski’s THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967); Lainie Miller’s 2014 documentary, THAT GUY DICK MILLER; Roy Ward Baker’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970); an unannounced Ballyhoo Motion Pictures documentary; and a special adults only (21+) screening of guest Brian K. Williams’ newly released SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE with special guests Allison Maier and Ellie Church, and a slew of more slaying cinema! Or get terrified T.V.-style  throughout the weekend and catch screenings of THE OUTER LIMITS – “The Sixth Finger” and “The Architects of Fear”; STAR TREK – “Devil in the Dark” and “Mirror Mirror”; made for TV movie, THE QUESTOR TAPES (1974); and you won’t want to miss a super rare screening of Kolchak THE NIGHT STALKER and more!

5) CINEPROV RIFFS THE LOST WORLD. Madness, monsters and prehistoric creatures, OH MY! Hilarity ensues as New MST3K writer Larry Johnson and CINEPROV riffs Irwin Allen’s THE LOST WORLD (1960) Friday at 9pm!

6) SPOOKTACULAR GUESTS. Catch some killer guests, including Sybil Danning (BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS); BarBara Luna (STAR TREK); Dick Miller (GREMLINS; ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL); visual effects expert Gene Warren Jr. (PET SEMATERY; ELIMINATORS); horror history expert and documentarian, Kool Kat Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; creaturific artist Kool Kat Mark Maddox; Kool Kat Ricky Hess (HORROR HOTEL); filmmaker and set-dec dresser/buyer Kool Kat Dayna Noffke (“Under the Bed”); film score composer Tom Ashton (The March Violets); Kool Kat Shane Morton, ghost host with the most, a.k.a. Professor Morte; glamour ghoul Kool Kat Madeline Brumby, actress Allison Maier (FRANKENSTEIN CREATED BIKERS) and more!

7) MONSTER MAKEOVERS.  Get gore-gous with monster make-up galore as part of this year’s Makers Track! You won’t want to miss SSFXLAB’s “It’s Alive” event, creating Frankenstein’s monster in 3 different ways; SFX for the smallest creatures in your life, with the “Littlest Monster Maker,” event featuring mom/daughter duo, filmmaker Kool Kat Dayna Noffke and ultra spooky Vivi Vivian; and win some monstrous prizes with the annual FACE-ON make-up contest! And don’t forget to stick around for a creeping cornucopia of frightful faces and monster masks!

8) WARPED WRITERS & LITERARY PANELS. Writers make the monstrous world go ‘round, so check out guest authors, Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great grand-nephew (DRACULA THE UN-DEAD); John Farris (THE FURY); Sean Linkenback (THE ART OF JAPANESE MONSTERS); Charles Rutledge and vampire aficionado J. E. Browning (GRAPHIC HORROR: MOVIE MONSTER MEMORIES). And you won’t want to miss out on some wicked panels of the literary variety including “Our Favorite Trashy Horror Novels,” with Jeff Strand, Clay Gilbert and Eddie Coulter; “Dracula 120th Anniversary Spectacular,” with Dacre Stoker, J.E. Browning and Kool Kat Anthony Taylor; “Nevermore – A Poe Tribute,” with Kool Kat Mark Maddox and Mike Gordon, and so many more!

9) SCARE-TASTIC SHOPPING. Horror cons are the perfect place to stock up on both classic horror memorabilia, cult classics on DVD and creepy clothing, costumes and accessories. So come on down to the dealer’s room and check out all the toys, collectibles and monstrous goodies you can get your ghoulish little hands on!

10) MONSTER PROM. Hey all you boils and ghouls, get frightfully funky at this year’s Monster Prom, Saturday at 8:30pm! Dust off the old rat-infested tux, clear out the cobwebs, shine up your shoes and get ready to do the Monster Mash, and maybe even Time-Warp into the wee hours of the morning, hosted by Professor Morte and DJ Deathskiss!

MONSTERAMA main con hours are Fri. Sept. 29 from 4 to 12 a.m. (with screenings at noon and registration at 3pm); Sat. Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sun. Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info, visit the MONSTERAMA official website here.

 

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