Archive for April, 2018

ConCarolinas is a multi-media, multi-genre convention located (this year) at the Hilton Charlotte University Place in Charlotte, NC over the weekend of June 1st, 2nd, 3rd. This year’s convention offers up a wide array of things to do and people to see with panels galore, musical guests, parties, and creators ranging from indie writers to pop culture celebrities like author/actor/pro wrestling superstar Edge. 

One of the highlights to look forward to this year will be the ConCarolinas Short Film Festival. The ConCarolinas Film Track’s heads Bill Mulligan and Jason Gilbert along with a host of creators are serving up hours of entertainment this year that, in some cases, you might not be able to catch anywhere else in the immediate future. Check out what’s on the lineup.

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It’s #AlienDay

From time to time, the timeline of cinema history has giant red lines etched into it that separate eras. There are the way things were or were expected to be before that point in time/event and then the way things were or were expected to be after that point in time/event. For science fiction cinema, the 1970s had two huge red lines etched into its timeline that changed the way we expected big budget science fiction to look on screen.

One of those lines came in 1977 with Star Wars. Star Wars brought on entire new expectations with regards to what science fiction on the big screen would look like. But, for as much as some people talk about the dirty, used, lived in look of the technology in Star Wars, the real impact Star Wars had was the work ILM did with both the FX work and in how some of that FX work was shot. The world of Star Wars may have been dirtier and more dog-eared than the world of 2001: A Space Odyssey just shy of a decade before it, but many of the visuals of the one could have easily felt at home in the other. Then the other red line in cinema’s timeline came along in 1979, and that red line, the movie Alien, changed the way we expected science fiction on the big screen to look in more ways than one.

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The Assignment: Horror Podcast

Godmonster CoverThere’s not a lot to say about this week’s assignment that wasn’t said in the intro and then by the crew during the show. Fredric Hobbs’ Godmonster of Indian Flats was a, well, for lack of a better word, legendary lost film that makes the previously reviewed on the blogMonsterlook like a high end movie production. 

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The Vietnam War had an interesting effect on the Hollywood and smaller studio systems of the 1970s and 1980s. War movies had been a staple of American cinema for about as long as there had been an American cinema, and most of the mainstream war movies had for the longest time a large “Rah, Rah, Sis-Boom-Bah” factor about them. They would occasionally try to slip a ‘look at the horrors of war’ moment into some of them- typically with the death of a beloved character played by a major name actor –but they were largely focused on looking at war as a heroic endeavor that turned men into heroes and heroes into legends. They were the types of films that made young kids want to go out and play soldier with their friends and “die” in a blaze of glory and honor.

Then the Vietnam War hit and a lot of that got turned upside down. America was coming off a war it hadn’t won. Two wars actually, because right before Vietnam there was Korea. Technically, America didn’t really lose either war, but creating films around a war where the ultimate best chant for audiences coming out of theaters could be “We Didn’t Lose” didn’t have the same vibe as being able to declare victory and a world saved from evil by the end of the film. There were no films like The Fighting Seabees to be made where a lead character played by a popular actor could die and it was still okay in the end because he sacrificed himself for the ultimate greater good of the winning war effort.

In the wake of Vietnam, the nature of the American war film changed. Even films being made about WWII started changing how they portrayed war and the effects of war on soldiers. But when Hollywood starting making films about Vietnam? Gone were films like Mister Roberts or To Hell and Back, because Hollywood was now making films like Coming Home and The Deer Hunter. For a time, the war film became the intensely haunting examination of how war destroys man in more ways and more places than just on the battlefield. Even when larger studios geared a film to be more action oriented, there was still a strong focus on the toll the war took on the men who fought it. It’s gotten lost on many thanks to the sequels, but even First Blood was largely centered around how the war had changed and destroyed John Rambo and crew. Some smaller studios might still go the exploitation route, but many still tried to do films with the themes these other films had. Some of them actually worked fairly well. Then there were the films like Ruckus.

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The news started trickling out Saturday morning that Art Bell had passed away at the age of 72. By later in the morning, the sad news had been confirmed. A lot of people out there likely don’t know who Art Bell was; although they still may have heard him on the radio or seen him on TV more than a few times. However, for those of us who knew the man’s work well, the news hit like a ton of bricks even though he’s largely been off the airwaves for some time now. That impact is not even dependent on you being a believer in any of the subject matter Art used to discuss on his show.

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On April 16, 1988 in Japan, 30 years ago now, an animated film, an early film for the just shy of three-year-old Studio Ghibli, opened in movie theaters in Japan. The film itself was based on a 1967 semi-autobiographical short story, Hotaru no Haka, from writer Akiyuki Nosaka. The story itself had become well known in Japan, and Akiyuki Nosaka had reportedly turned down several offers to turn his story into a live action movie or television film believing that live action would not capture the intended spirit of the story. He had never considered animation, but first the pitch from Studio Ghibli and then the early storyboards convinced him that the story could not be properly told at that time in any medium other than animation. There are probably a lot of people all around the world who are glad he came to that conclusion, because had he not done so we would never have seen Grave of the Fireflies. Of course, that’s as much a blessing as a curse for some.

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The Assignment: Horror Podcast

CoverWe celebrated April Fool’s Day at The Assignment: Horror Podcast by turning the tables on our three older horror movie buffs. This episode, it’s John, Jerry, and Becca who find themselves locked in the dungeon and assigned a movie to watch by Richard. Richard’s assignment to the crew is a movie he stumbled across some time back and quite enjoyed, 2006’s Open Water 2: Adrift.

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