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Ashtray Chat Films Links

Hill House and Hell House at The Horror Show

MalcoJOJO of the always fun Horror Show has assembled a nifty batch of goodies & observations from what he calls the “Hill House Movies,” namely, the filmed adaptations of both Shirley Jackson’s Hill House and Richard Matheson’s Hell House as loose entries in one series. “Outrageous!” thought I, but after consulting the definitive tome on the subject by the greatest Matheson scholar known to humankind, Matthew R. Bradley, it stands revealed that MalcoJOJO is one hundred percent correct!

From Richard Matheson on Screen, page 179, “HELL HOUSE”

Bang! Go check out The Horror Show for original edition covers, movie posters, trailers, and more on the Hill House Movies.

Excerpt from Richard Matheson on Screen © Matthew R. Bradley. Reprinted without permission.

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Films

HORIZON: The Strange Life and Death of Dr Turing – Parts 1 + 2 (1992)

The story of the British genius and war hero ALAN TURING, mathematician, codebreaker and computer visionary. From the BBC TV science series Horizon (1992)
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Ashtray Chat Films

Back to the Pit (we know you can do it)

John Hurt on the set of Alien.

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Art/Roots Films Links

“Demeter In Outer Space: The Mythic Cycle of Ellen Ripley,” an essay by Will Hindmarch

I doubt anyone involved in the production of Alien meant it this way, but Ripley’s visit to that alien planet and her experiences in the crucible of the Nostromo were the catalyst for her apotheosis. She entered hypersleep as a mortal woman—entombed like a pharaoh with a cat—but she emerged in James Cameron’s sequel, Aliens (1986), as something more. This essay looks not at Ripley, the survivor of Alien, but at Ripley, the heroine of the special-edition cuts of Aliens and Alien 3 (1992).

This Ripley is a mythic figure, a goddess both imperfect and powerful, whose searching and suffering are grounded in human motives and pain but played out on a grand, cosmic stage with the fate of humanity at stake.

The mythology of Ripley’s galaxy is not exactly the same as that of our Earth. Important figures take on different guises and forms in outer space than they did in the classical world, and not every facet of the future is mythic in attitude or scope. Sometimes a pulse rifle is just a pulse rifle.

To be clear, this is a reading of a cinematic universe as it exists in the eyes of one viewer—me—not a speculation on the intentions of the filmmakers. Put another way, this is quasi-academic bullshit. I’m asking you to consider another way of looking at Ripley, not arguing for one “true” interpretation of these films. This way of looking at Aliens takes us back in time, not to the productions of Aliens or Alien, but back past antiquity into the shadowy prehistory of legend, to a story older than the Olympians…

Read the full essay by Will Hindmarch. 

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Art/Roots Ashtray Chat Films Links Music

Frankenstein (1910) w/ Life Toward Twilight soundtrack

Edison’s “Frankenstein” is one of the earliest known horror movies, as well as the first film version of Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. The movie was lost for many decades, until a private collector announced he had a copy of the reel in the 1970’s. | This version is accompanied by a soundtrack composed for the film by Life Toward Twilight

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Ashtray Chat Films

The Avengers, a movie

I dearly wish I’d seen this movie equipped with blinders and ear-plugs and lots of aspirin. Or something far, far stronger.

a Review by Simon Drax

* All persons looking forward to this film should stop reading now. *

In a thunderous and tedious display of global hegemony (to put it indelicately), Marvel/Disney’s The Avengers finally opened in North America this weekend after shaking down overseas markets to the tune of 150 million dollars. As of 4/6 Sunday morning, the film’s domestic opening-weekend grosses are projected to exceed 170 million…

[Updated: As of late Sunday, Deadline Holloywood reports that The Avengers now commands… the biggest domestic opening weekend of all time · Fastest film to reach $200M (3 days) · Biggest opening weekend of all time in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Central America, Peru, Bolivia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines · Biggest Marvel opening weekend in Russia (May 3): $17.9M]

Oh, what a world, what a world! A planet over-boiled with desires set to rewind, every ticket holder expecting an impossible Christmas in May. Well, here it is, you saps, in all its empty majestic digital glory, here’s your must-have toy of the season, your super-powered thrill-ride is finally here. And boy, it’s hideous.

Some reviewers have called it, “Bloated,” “Empty,” “Castrated,” and “Soulless.” It is all those things, yes. It’s a movie from La-La Land that cost a shitload of money, what else could it be?

It’s just a movie, sure. But it’s barely a movie, and very much a bad one. Because The Avengers, with its piss-poor set-up of a story (Loki is upset, oh please) played for me not so much as a narrative as—forgive me—a really impressive assembly. Every piece is beautifully carved, of course. The characters are icons charged with sentimental lightning, and the players are celebrity-humans who currently reside in a shared collective consciousness of approval; we like every face we see winking at us from under their icon’s mask, we really like them, even the new one, the Ruffalo one, but I’ll get to him soon enough. Every frame is gorgeously designed, upon pain of freaking death, designed and over-designed with a zeal that might be mistaken for love. Don’t be fooled, saps! Because all the beautifully carved pieces, the mighty icons played by the likable thesps, and the fetishistically detailed scenes and set-ups which contain trademarked likenesses (and dollar signs) in very nearly every foot of film—they are all in the service of delivering a final grotesque “jaw-dropper” slugfest of massive CGI effects that render Manhattan effectively crunched. Crunched with glee. Which is not the same as joy. Far from it. The glee that finds release by ceaseless hammer-blows of destruction should not be excused, or dismissed lightly, for with it comes the burgeoning worship of Total Power that acts without impunity; it is akin the arrogance of corporations that marches its stellar/showcase/piece of shit film around the world, pummeling audiences into submission before finally steering the great sick slick CGI beast back to its foul land of origin, where it will be worshiped as a New God even as it feasts and engorges itself on the dollars bled by willing idiot victims—!

(Whew. Sorry about that.)

Of course, there are pleasures to be had in The Avengers, guilt-inducing though they might be: the jokes (see, bones) tossed to the “total geeks” in the crowd, the “fabulous fight scenes,” and the previously mentioned adorable humans. Everybody’s fine in their respective roles, such as they are—Downey and Jackson being old hands at the super-show by this time, and the newer actors are stolid, guiltless of irony, at times brave enough to allow the earnestness required by their roles to render them not wooden but endowed with a quality akin to “idiot sainthood.” But it is Mark Ruffalo, the third actor in ten years to portray Bruce Banner, who delivers the most pleasure to the discerning adult viewer in the audience. Banner is a quiet little masterpiece of sorrow and ever-present pain, anger controlled not by heavy-handed wincing and mugging and shortness of breath, but by carefully telegraphed and very self-aware patience. Consequently (but not coincidentally), when Ruffalo’s Banner finally loses his cool and the gamma-fueled berserker at last gets his due, The Hulk as a computer generated character is finally (finally) convincing on film, monstrous, brutal, effective. But these small pleasures cannot compensate for two-plus hours of loud, exhausting trash.

The film is about a group of heroes, yes? “Earth’s mightiest.” Beneath their brawn and godlike powers we’re meant to empathize with them as human beings. (This is where the winning actors and their likable faces come in handy.) But this is a group film, duh, and the heroes in question and the actors who play them spend precious little time actually onscreen together. (Torturous untold minutes of eye and ear-shattering violence wherein one character appears in the same shot as another character absolutely do not count, as they were digitally inserted from separately-lensed green-screened scenes; no, those scenes do not count.) And because the poor actors are barely ever physically in each other’s company, there is no chemistry, no chance for any real acting. That the film actually addresses this issue in its lame excuse of a story does not help, that the characters do not know how to “work together,” but in the course of the story they eventually operate “as a team.” Sorry, but punches thrown in the same direction of a shared (and stupid) enemy do not a frat-house make. They are barely comrades, let alone brothers, with the lone girl allowed to play as well, because, ah hell, why not. No, the characters are neatly and completely separated from each other, each in suits of armor of their own design, and no, this is not deep.

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Maybe it’s the now-familiar visual motif of Downey as Tony Stark, impervious beneath his layers of sculpted metal and nestled in comfy black while endless streams of data and graphics dance before his eyes, that unrepentant fanboys find most appealing. All that info, streaming constantly. All that stuff. All that money. Nobody can touch me, man. I’m invincible. Nobody better fuck with me, ever.

All right. That’s a little cruel.

But not as cruel as two-plus hours of The Avengers.

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4/7 edit: Changed “fans of the comic book genre” to “unrepentant fanboys,” above.

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Films

Fritz Lang interviewed by William Friedkin, 1975

Via DANGEROUS MINDS and @mattstaggs

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