Hey Folks -
Just wanted to announce that registration for the 2010 Richmond Zine Fest is now available! Visit our website, and from there you will either sign up via Pay Pal or find the info to sign up via snail mail. If you have questions please send those to us at email@example.com
The Richmond Zine Fest
Opening friday at Ghostprint Gallery: A retrospective of screen-printed posters, fliers, and handbills for bands and venues, from the late 70's to the present, that define the music scene in Richmond.
Curated by Patrick Godfrey and Spencer Hansen.
So, I’m scoping out the latest happenings on RVA when I start seeing zombies. I don’t mean that zombies had invaded my home, mind you, but rather that there were zombies on my computer screen. You can probably connect the dots. If you guessed that these gore-soaked fiends led yours truly to the conclusion that it was time for a Top 5 Zombie Films, you* can promptly move to the head of the class. You should have seen the title of the piece prior to reading this paragraph anyway, so if you came to a different conclusion maybe you should come back once the room stops spinning.
Ever since George Romero unleashed the living dead on cinema patrons in 1968**, zombies have been a constant presence in the horror genre. For whatever reason, zombie films have always ranked among my favorite sub-genres, and there have been a number of significant offerings in that vein over the years.
As I write this, A&E is developing a television adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book sensation The Walking Dead. With Frank Darabont at the helm and Greg Nicotero handling effects, this series is building a lot of anticipation throughout the horror community. The show will debut in October, not long after the latest Resident Evil, a 3D spectacular with the surname Afterlife, hits the big screen.
Zombies are apparently as relevant now as ever, and I have to wonder if Peter was right after all. In the original Dawn of the Dead, when an exasperated Stephen asks Peter what the zombies are, Peter coolly replies: “They’re us.” Whether he was right or not, they’re definitely here to stay. What follows are the results of another agonizing debate, as it’s time for me to unveil my Top 5 Zombie Films. Let the gut-munching commence!
1 ) Dawn of the Dead (original) - 1978
So visionary and thoughtful that even now, some 32 years after the fact, it’s still damn impressive. It’s also a testament to the creativity and the iron will that make George Romero the director he is. No one says: “Screw the MPAA, we’ll release the damn thing unrated”—no one except George, that is. No one else could capture the goriest satire and perhaps one of the most profound statements on commercialism ever on film. No one else would be able to dig so deeply into the premise, lovingly examining each character and the fragile relationships they share. No one else would bring us the heartbreak that comes as a result of watching these determined survivors struggle, facing off with both the undead and their futile attempts at trying to pretend things really aren’t that different from before when there aren’t zombies knocking down the door. This film has a little bit of everything, to include terror, drama, humor, and suspense, but I think it functions primarily as a character study of the highest order. It should be noted that none of the leads are established stars, though Ken Foree has had a nice career and is currently enjoying a bit of a resurgence thanks largely to Rob Zombie. Regardless, that doesn’t stop these thespians from putting on a hell of a show, and though of the four characters the piece centers on are amazingly complex, none of the performers fails to deliver. Tom Savini also shines in a small
but crucial part, and his effects work is still impressive to behold. That man is a true wizard within the industry, and his importance to the horror genre can’t be overstated. I sometimes wonder if this was his finest hour. It was certainly Romero’s best film, and it is easily the finest zombie film of all time. I greatly enjoyed the remake, but this is a film that will never be topped, at least so far as originality and depth are concerned. DOTD is a true juggernaut that hasn’t lost a bit of its magnificent scope and clearly remains one of the most introspective horror films of all time.
Ever hear a hippie talk about "what if guns, you know, like, shot flowers in stead of bullets, man? Wouldn't be the world be beautiful if, like, that happened?" Apparently, YouTube awesome-maker FreddieW decided to put that theory to the test with this fantastic video. From his production blog:
This one was basically Brandon thinking “what if we did red flower petals as blood hits?” because it would let us be ridiculously violent, yet not appear so because it’s, well, flower petals. We went from there – sunflowers for muzzle flares, flowers shooting up with the ground hits, general 70s look and vibe (although the G36 is most definitely not a gun from the 70s). Once we got the VW Bus, it was on.
He shot it on a Canon 7D. His website has great notes on how he shot the video and all of his videos are pretty damn awesome.
American Slang is a record that speaks to me on several levels. It allows me to infer an ongoing theme in The Gaslight Anthem’s lyrical content. It allows me to mull over self- reflections when particular songs hit closer to home. It makes me hopeful that it’s alright to accept being blissfully unaware on occasion. It would be a difficult record for me to
initially accept, but now I can't escape it.
There is a valiant quality to the way vocalist Brian Fallon approaches a song. In my early ages, it was easy to fall into music that relished in pessimism and cynicism. The songs that my parents were raised on seemed to embrace the true valor of the world surrounding them. I doubt they were any less confused about the directions headed, but at least they had a song on the radio telling them it was going to be okay. The struggles were acknowledged but they never succumbed to them. In many ways, The Gaslight Anthem is that band for me.
YOU! PATHETIC FLESHBAG! Do you enjoy THE MUSIC OF YOUR OFFWORLD MASTERS, GWAR? YES? Do you also like FLESH CHARRED WITH FLAMES?!?!
This week's GODS of the BOBBLE HEADS is a hiphop special, featuring MC Aspect.
CLICK HERE FOR THE PODCAST (right click to save)
Our crack team of reviewers JMO (Justin O'neill), KMO (justins wife kim) and the Furi (i suspect you know who that is) (pronounced "fury," not "furry") take a shot at Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in this week's Geekity Speakity.
And here's the trailer:
Cult Classics from Dimension X:
Vice Squad (1982)
There are all kinds of classifications for films based on the reception they find upon release, to include blockbusters, sleepers, flops, and one of my personal favorites, cult classics. Cult classics are films that don’t find mainstream success, but are fortunate enough to stumble upon a rabid legion of devoted fans nonetheless. Cult Classics from Dimension X will examine one such film each week, evaluating both the strength of the piece and the various merits that have inspired some film buffs to memorize their favorite lines and perhaps even model their appearance or even their lifestyle after a particular character.
It should be interesting to see what we find from week to week, as some cult classics are awful movies that audiences enjoy because they’re so outrageously bad, while other cult classics are fine films that were simply overlooked by mainstream audiences. Regardless, the tales should be colorful and the films should be intriguing, so let’s kick this column off by taking a look of one the best cult classics ever filmed.
Let’s talk about Vice Squad, the masterful thriller that gave Wings Hauser the best role in his lengthy career, a role he played to absolute perfection. Hauser is billed third, yet he clearly steals the show as Ramrod, a vicious pimp who is the villain of Vice Squad. Ramrod is a true scumbag, but Hauser is so unbelievably powerful in the role that by the time we reach the closing reel there can be no doubt that this is Ramrod’s story. In fact, Hauser’s lunatic pimp is so dogged and so focused in his efforts that he has become a figure that some fans of the film openly root for despite his deplorable actions and his psychotic behavior.
The picture unfolds during a single night in Hollywood, where the "Vice Squad: of the title is on the prowl. This gritty unit is led by Gary Swanson as Detective Tom Walsh, a 13-year vet of the force who is as close to burning out as any cop could possibly be right before his career goes up in flames. When Walsh comes upon yet another of Ramrod’s victims, he goes to gruesome extremes to convince an unwilling working girl by the name of Princess to set a trap for the demented pimp. Princess is played by Season Hubley in what may have been her best performance, allegedly drawing on the difficulties she incurred in the bitter custody battle with her estranged husband (Kurt Russel) that was wreaking havoc on her life while Vice Squad was shot in 1982. Reportedly, Hubley encouraged director Gary A. Sherman to make good use of her distress during the film’s gripping finale, and it should be noted that she rises to the occasion and matches Hauser’s incredible ferocity during that violent struggle.
Walsh convinces Princess to wear a wire, and before long he has his man. Ramrod vows to kill the double-crossing call girl, and of course it doesn’t take him long to escape police custody. Then it’s up to the vice squad to keep Ramrod from getting his hands on Princess and making good on his promise, but this time the unit’s quarry clearly knows the neighborhood better than they do. Ramrod doesn’t have a bankroll or any technological means to track his prey, but he does know the streets. He also knows a lot of hoods and freaks, people who are either willing to help him find Princess or too scared not to. As Ramrod lights up the night in a suicidal quest for vengeance, Walsh and his men do everything in their power to locate either the deranged pimp or the oblivious Princess, who doesn’t even realize Ramrod is loose again until it’s already too late.
Throughout, Hauser rages across the screen, investing everything in a part that could have been very familiar in another performer’s hands. His zeal and his devotion make Ramrod a vibrant character who threatens to leap off the scream and come charging into your living room. Though Wings has had a long and fruitful career, including a role in Michael Mann’s The Insider, this performance (as well as roles in films like Tough Guys Don’t Dance and A Soldier’s Story) makes one wonder whether or not he didn’t deserve better roles in better pictures than the B-rate cheapies he later became famous for. He’s on fire here, and he is the probably the primary reason so many people hold this little powderkeg near and dear to the heir hearts. He certainly offered a lot to the production, as in addition to his bravura performance, Hauser also performs the vocals for the picture’s theme song, Neon Slime, which is played over both the opening and closing credits. In truth, his acting is far superior to his singing, but the song is interesting at the very least, and Hauser had cut a record, 1975’s Your Love Keeps Me Off the Streets, so he has some talent.
Vice Squad is a very entertaining piece that moves quickly. This is largely due to director Gary A. Sherman, who cut much of the script that didn’t directly pertain to Ramrod’s pursuit of Princess in pre-production. Sherman also spent a lot of time with actual policeman who worked in vice to prepare for the piece, as did star Gary Swanson. In addtion to Vice Squad, Sherman directed Raw Meat and Dead & Buried, both of which are cult classics in their own right. Though much of his later work came in television, Sherman’s early films are well-made outings with tight plots and rapid-fire pacing, leading one to ask the same questions of his career trajectory that we might ask of Hauser’s legacy.
In closing, Vice Squad is definitely a winner, and Hauser, Sherman, Swanson, and Season Hubley all make the most of this seedy journey into Hollywood’s underbelly. I treasure this film, but as an avid fan of Wings Hauser that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Those who are unfamiliar with this brazen performer may find themselves taking an interest in his work after watching this film, but in all honesty this is probably as good as it gets for the man named Wings. If you haven’t seen Vice Squad, I strongly encourage you to do so, as this film is a great example of a true cult classic. It is fun, frantic, and offers a nice alternative to many of the less audacious crime films available to fans of such pictures.
This picture also boasts one of the funniest scenes I have ever beheld, an absurd little gem that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot itself. I call it “The Paperclips Scene,” and it centers on an illogical and altogether hilarious police station rant about missing paperclips courtesy of an angry cop who is never seen again in the film. That bit certainly stands out, but Vice Squad is positively brimming with memorable bits of dialogue. Perhaps no line has been quoted by fans of the piece so much as the infamous “$500 don’t get you no El Dorado.” Check it out and you’ll understand, and if you don’t laugh during The Paperclips Scene, you might want to check for a pulse.
Vice Squad Trivia!!!
Reportedly, the film is at least partially based on actual vice squad cases that originated in the film’s Hollywood setting. Indeed, the screen credit for Kenneth Peters is allegedly a pseudonym for the LAPD detective who opened his files for the production.
A young Martin Scorsese was allegedly a big fan of the film, reportedly going so far as to advise Dawn Steel that in his opinion Vice Squad was the year’s finest film. This exchange supposedly occurred at an official Paramount dinner function.
Though it has never been confirmed, many feel this 1982 film (concerning the dogged pursuit of a woman by a ruthless madmen over the course of a single night) may have been one of James Cameron’s influences when he sat down to write The Terminator, which was released in 1984.
As Detective Walsh, Gary Swanson utters the line “Go ahead, . . . make my day.” A year later, Clint Eastwood would make the line famous as Dirty Harry Callahan in 1983’s Sudden Impact.
By James Wayland
Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here (Editions Mego)
Emeralds play compositions that, rather than being divided into verses and choruses, start from small, quiet ideas and build up from there. The result is somewhere between the post-rock of Tortoise and the bizarre electronica of Aphex Twin. Enchanting, melodious beds of sound that subtly invade your consciousness.
Ryan Adams - Orion (Pax Am)
A limited vinyl-only release that is being billed as Adams's metal record. That's kinda true, though a significant portion of it also sounds like mid-80s crossover hardcore (think Corrosion Of Conformity). I hear some Iron Maiden too. This is not a serious album, but it's great, and great fun.
Current 93 - Baalstorm, Sing Omega (Coptic Cat)
The term "goth" is frequently abused, but long-running English group Current 93 are quite literally gothic--their minimal, acoustic music mixes elements of horror and romance in a style that feels hundreds of years old. This album is a worthy introduction to their unique and terrifying apocalyptic folk.