Trash

TV party

It could happen: 1972 TV movie The Man, playing at the Vortex Room, imagines -- gasp -- a black president

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TRASH These days we're used to TV series regularly offering better, more serious, and more relevant drama than mainstream movies, a notion unthinkable not long ago. But even at the height of boob tube silliness, when zero cable alternatives and FCC strictures resulted in mostly bland programming, there was some room for deviation from formula. That room was primarily occupied by TV movies, which began being produced in 1964. Read more »

Into the Vortex, part one

The Vortex Room screens rare reels at Thursday film cult nights

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arts@sfbg.com

For some the '60s and '70s never stopped swinging — even (or especially) if they were barely out of womb when all that decadence crashed into the anti-counterculture, pro-coke Reagan era.

For many years, one of SF's greatest connoisseurs of retro sexual revolution kitsch and coolness has been Scott Moffett. For all we know, even as you read this he's reclining on a fun fur rug, drinking Martini & Rossi on the rocks, reeking of Hai Karate, sandwiched by Barbarella and Pussy Galore.Read more »

Portal 2

A video game's second installment leaves its cult credibility unscathed

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Valve Corporation

(Xbox360, PS3, Mac/PC)

GAMER Portal 2 reminds us that "first-person" is a point of view first and a game type second. With combat-themed shooters incestuously fumbling over one another to produce the most similar experience, it takes a certain amount of marbles to deliver a shooter about strategy and narrative instead of death. But for developer Valve, Portal's sequel was never a risky gamble.Read more »

Power and shared wealth

PG&E's far-reaching influence even links it to San Bruno explosion investigators

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rebeccab@sfbg.com

In the 1930s, political cartoonists often portrayed California's monolithic Pacific Gas & Electric Co. as a giant octopus, its tentacles extending into every sphere of civic life. If money buys influence, the cephalopod analogy may still be apt today when considering the company's tally of corporate giving, part of a detailed filing with the California Public Utilities Commission.Read more »

Land of the undead

Bite me: bloodsuckers menace what's left of the human race in Stake Land

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VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE There are no sparkly torsos in Jim Mickle's Stake Land, a movie that depicts a vampire snacking on a human infant within its first five minutes. After that bold declaration that this is not a film to be fucked with, Stake Land shifts its focus to a ragtag pair of travelers who've taken to rural America's back roads, trying to annihilate as many vamps as possible: teenage Martin (Gossip Girl's Connor Paolo), and his gruff mentor, Mister (Nick Damici, who co-wrote the script with Mickle).Read more »

A long time ago, in a galaxy not far away

Tom Wyrsch's Back to Space-Con blasts off to 1970s sci-fi conventions

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arts@sfbg.com

SCI-FI DOCUMENTARY Recalling a simpler time — before mass commercialization and marketing took over the world of science fiction, pop culture, and fan conventions — local filmmaker Tom Wyrsch's new documentary Back To Space-Con conveys the story of the home-grown, grassroots-fueled sci-fi conventions of the 1970s, told through interviews with the people behind the events, fans who were there, and rare footage shot on location here in the Bay Area more than 30 years ago.Read more »

Acid-washed terror

Blood Junkie reviews the source material of teen horror

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RETRO GORE With the upcoming release of Scream 4 — the overlong-awaited latest in a series riffing on 1980s slasher clichés — it feels like a good moment to review the source material, which is to say the deadly spawn of Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980). Issued at the heyday of the direct-to-video market, those films' myriad cheap-and-cheaper knockoffs explored the full range of variably amateur charm.Read more »

Fernando Di Leo, glorious bastard

Europudding casts, past-prime Hollywood actors, and a verve that influenced Tarrantino in Fernando Di Leo: The Italian Crime Collection

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ITALIAN CRIME CINEMA Italian cinema has a long history of innovators, but — like every other country, albeit more so — it survived commercially for decades via genre imitators. Fellini, Antonioni, Visconti, Pasolini, Bertolucci, and so on couldn't have existed without the fiscal cushion provided by genre-feeds to the international market: first via mythological muscle man fantasies that reduced Hollywood's Cecil B. Read more »

King of the spook house

Jose Mojica Marins' infamous Brazilian cult horror films gain new life

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BRAZILIAN CULT HORROR English-language horror cinema has had its share of actors identified with playing one particular role over and over, from Bela Lugosi's Dracula to Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger. But we've never had anything quite like José Mojica Marins and his infamous Zé do Caixão (José of the Grave). Known to cult movie fans worldwide as Coffin Joe, this top-hatted, cape-flaring, bearded undertaker with extra-long curved fingernails and a mile-wide sadistic streak has been a sort of folk hero in Brazil for nearly 50 years.Read more »

Naughty girls (need love too)

1969's The Sins of Madame Bovary unleashed a wave of exploitation flicks -- and Algerian-born bombshell Edwige Fenech

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SCANDAL! Flaubert's Madame Bovary is one of those pillars of French culture whose dismissal might well get you deported. (Deservedly.) It has inspired innumerable adaptations and co-optations, including a Hindi musical, a VeggieTales episode, and a postmodernist novel posing as a nonfiction memoir-literary homage (Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot). Read more »