Trash

Trust no one

The Vortex Conspiracy: Dear humans: You lose. Love, Insects
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CULT CINEMA The '70s were prime time for conspiracy theories, particularly at the movies — thanks to Watergate as well as queasy unresolved 1960s conflicts between the counterculture and the establishment. Read more »

Splattergories

Another Hole in the Head Fest bleeds cultural eclecticism.

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FILM FESTIVAL Now in its seventh year, San Francisco's Another Hole in the Head Film Festival aims to draw fans of fantastical and shocking cinema into the Roxie and Viz theaters for its slate of 32 films. Spanning horror, science fiction, and fantasy, Hole Head features films from Singapore to Serbia, including 10 flicks from Japan.Read more »

I want it that way

A gay love letter to the Backstreet Boys

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IDOL WORSHIP I'm not going to say the Backstreet Boys made me gay, because no boy band — regardless of how late-1990s dreamy — can change one's sexual orientation. But BSB did act as a barometer for gayness that helped usher me into a newfound understanding of my sexuality. When you're 13 and you'd rather hang out with pretty boy Nick Carter than Catholic schoolgirl Britney Spears, you know something's up.Read more »

Imported cheese

El Futuro Está Aqui: Sci-Fi Classics From Mexico brings fabulous space women, Mylar pants, flying hubcaps

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CINE DE CULTO It's impossible to undersell the extent to which everyone was space travel crazy from the 1950s through the early '70s. Even nations not actively involved in the Cold War race for space "supremacy" shared the giddy thrill as U.S.S.R., then U.S. efforts successfully launched projectiles toward the cosmos. Those technological leaps and Cold War-fueled fears that the bomb could end life as we know it turned science fiction from an infrequent cinematic genre into a popular, prolific one.Read more »

Worst worst movie?

Kinatay -- however graphically violent and hard to watch -- is not so very bad

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INTERNATIONAL CINEMA It wouldn't be a Cannes Film Festival without scandals onscreen and off. The recent 63rd edition found international media struggling to come up with some — Jean-Luc Godard's no-show, the generally feh quality of competition films. Pretty weak. Little incited righteous outrage over artistic license as before: think of prior provocations by Gaspar Noé, Carlos Reygadas, and Vincent Gallo. Read more »

King Z

Bring out your dead: An interview with zombie-master George A. Romero
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FILMMAKER INTERVIEW In the event of an actual zombie outbreak, legendary horror director George A. Romero would no doubt survive. For one thing, he stands an imposing six-feet, five inches, and happens to maintain an anti-zombie stronghold — er, getaway — in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where he'd just been vacationing before the press tour for the sixth film in his "Dead" series, Survival of the Dead. Plus, Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968, meaning Romero has more than 40 years of experience wrangling the undead. Read more »

Secret agent "homme"

Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, a.k.a. OSS 117, has a serious chick habit

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NEW-OLD MOVIE The Cold War heated up a public appetite for spy adventures well before James Bond became a pop phenomenon. In fact, Ian Fleming hadn't yet created 007 in 1949, when Jean Bruce commenced writing novels about Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, a.k.a. Agent OSS 117 — eventually more than 90 of them. When Bruce died (crashing his Jaguar — what a man!) in 1963, just as the screen Bond was taking off, his widow wrote another 143. Then her children wrote two dozen more, as recently as 1992.Read more »

St. Elvis?

John Carpenter-directed biopic Elvis resurfaces

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TV BIOPIC The John Carpenter-directed biopic Elvis hit network TV airwaves in 1979, ironically enough in the same time slot as that slice of Deep South Americana Gone With the Wind (1939). The Big E had expired just two years previously, and Elvis worship was in full flower. The TV movie thus squeezed out the Gable-Leigh epic to take top spot in the nation's hearts, for that night anyway.Read more »

In the "Hausu"

Watch out for that ramen bear! A recently rediscovered Japanese horror amalgamation that must be seen to be believed

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P>CULT FILM Words fail Hausu, Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 goofy and deranged horror flick. Hausu is the sort of film that makes a writer want, to borrow the site of one of the film's zanier set pieces, to draw deep from the tainted wells of cliché and hyperbole — to laud it as a trippy, must-be-seen-be-believed, insane, "like [blank] on acid," avalanche of WTF — precisely because such descriptions actually come close to doing it justice. Read more »

Hey kids! It's Panique time!

How many children's films would have dialogue like "Father's in a concentration camp"?

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CULT DVD Alejandro Jodorowsky and Fernando Arrabal have overlapped their whole lives. The Chilean Jodorowsky and Spanish Arrabal arrived in Paris is the mid-1950s, eventually cofounding (with late, lesser remembered artist French artist Roland Topor) the Mouvement Panique — a post-surreallist group named after the god Pan and dedicated to "terror, humor, simultaneity." The two initially focused on theatrical performance and have in subsequent decades created massive bodies of plays, poetry, novels, visual art (paintings for Arrabal, comic books for Jodorowsky), and more. Read more »