Happy Halloween from the year 1973

I can’t confirm that this trailer for William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist“, supposedly unreleased because it was too scary, is authentic — though it feels authentic. However, I can confirm that it’s extremely creepy, whoever put it together.

THE EXORCIST: Movie TrailerWatch today’s top amazing videos here

I’ve only seen “The Exorcist” once — yes, I’m a big cinema chicken who managed to wait until the 2000 re-release to see it. And, yes, when I did I suddenly had to go to the bathroom just before the spinal tap scene. But I don’t remember Mr. Devil Man in there at all. Anyhow, if any “Exorcist” mavens are reading, I’m wondering if maybe the other reason this trailer was “banned” by the studio is that it was actually kind of misleading and oversold the horror aspects. Better to create a sense of anticipation than blow things up too much in the trailer.

Certainly, the Warners marketing people did a good enough job. It was the first of a series of seventies and eighties megahits for which, before the era of the multiplex, audiences would wait literally hours to see. I’m old enough to remember being surprised by the crowds outside the recently torn down National Theater in L.A.’s Westwood Village. Here’s some of what was going on inside. If you think “Paranormal Activity” is creating a sensation, take a look.


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Happy Halloween from the year 1971


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Sir Christopher Lee, CBE, in a musical mood

He’s got an awe-inspiring 266 credits listed on his IMDb c.v. Nevertheless, finding good embeddable clips for Christopher Lee, one of the most beloved yet also underrated actors of the 20th and 21st centuries, hasn’t exactly been easy. Sad, considering how much enjoyment he’s given audiences, how many good movies he’s enlivened, and how many mediocre-to-godawful ones he’s come darn close to saving single-handedly. However, in honor of his well deserved knighthood today, we have what we have. And they both involve music.

My personal favorite Christopher Lee movie, and I think his as well, is 1973’s “The Wicker Man.” Below in a great scene which, for reasons much too complicated to go into here, is deleted from the most commonly seen version. In it, Lee as the avuncular and dangerous pagan Lord Summerisle takes part in a ritual with Britt Ekland as the local high priestess of sexuality. He also recites some poetry by Walt Whitman, as Edward Woodward’s repressed “Christian copper” tries to get to some sleep, snails make more snails, and Peter Giovanni sings the hauntingly erotic “Gently Johnny.”

The Wicker Man – Gently Johnny

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Lee actually sings — quite well — in “The Wicker Man” but that can’t be found. So, moving with warp speed from the sublime to the completely ridiculous, I found this incredibly strange number featuring a full-throated Lee from “The Return of Captain Invincible,” an ultra-ultra-obscure very pre-“Dr. Horrible”  1983 superhero musical starring Alan Arkin and Lee, with music by a number of people including Richard O’Brien of “Rocky Horror” fame. In it, a villainous Sir Christopher sings of a subject of my own interest — cocktails. Always, a gentleman of taste.


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Friday film news dump, pre-Halloween edition


So much going on today that, unless my Google Reader is lying to me, not a single one of the many film sites and blogs on my list of usual suspects has mentioned that Christopher freaking Lee was knighted today. (I, however, will be paying my respects in the next post.)


* The biggest news of the day was expected, I guess. The New York offices of the once might mini-major Miramax, founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and since sold off to Disney, have been closed and the annual slate of films significantly downsized. In addition, the division’s “prexy” Daniel Battsek is stepping down, though he is supposed to be supervising the consolidation of the NYC and L.A. offices through January and no replacement has been set. Not surprising in tough times for “small” films. Anne Thompson partially blames what you might call movie mission creep, among other factors.

The main problem with the studio sub-divisions that are being slashed if not eliminated is that they simply don’t return enough on investment. They inevitably drift away from small-scale divisions that push low-budget films into more ambitious upscale operations with more employees and more overhead. With growth comes bigger budgets, more P & A, wider releases, more grandiose Oscar campaigns and often, smaller profits.

Her entire piece is definitely worth a look as she mentions how even some seemingly successful award pictures as “There Will Be Blood” and “Doubt” became money losers or earned less than you might think due to marketing costs and award campaigns.

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WitStream is the comedian’s answer to Twitter

Michael Ian Black

I understand that Twitter is a cultural phenomenon, but for one reason or another, I don’t have one. Maybe it’s because none of my friends use the service either, I don’t know. However, do I really want to know what my friends are doing every half hour? I’ve known most of them for years and, judging by that familiarity, they maybe experience one exciting moment per week on average, if that. Thus, I use my $15 cell phone, or my email, or I surprise them by knocking on their door (nobody does this anymore).

So, if people aren’t following the minutia of their friends’ lives on Twitter, who are they actually following? The company is supposedly valued at over $1 billion, so somebody is using the damn thing.

The service would have never blown up without celebrities, many of whom have millions of followers. In a way, Twitter is becoming the MySpace of micro-blogging. Companies use the service as a vehicle to advertise their products and celebrities use it as a vehicle to advertise themselves. The only “social networking” really happening is when users comment, most often on celebrities’ accounts. In the end, everybody is selling something. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s just proof that Twitter is more of a giant billboard board than a worldwide chat room. Perhaps that was their ulterior motive. For companies, Twitter is a wonderful and free promotional tool.

Since Twitter is a powerful social amalgam of celebrities, companies, and people like you, there obviously is a ton of junk flying through their site. Twitter has a new “lists” feature, which allows users to organize accounts by various categories. While this should clean things up a bit, users are still on the mother site, and will undoubtedly encounter unwanted information.

Lisa Cohen is attempting to capitalize on this idea of categorizing. She has partnered with the hilarious Michael Ian Black to create WitStream, a social networking site exclusive to comedians.

Read the rest after the jump...

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