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Friday night movie news dump

Regulars might have noticed a bit less movie news this week. Don’t worry, I won’t try to cover everything that happened in movieland this week tonight. Unfortunately, I have to start with three notable deaths.

* The saddest for me personally, and perhaps for some of you horror fans out there, is the most recent. Dan O’Bannon has died from Crohn’s Disease at age 63. Best known for the horror-comedy hit, “The Return of the Living Dead,” and for writing the screenplay for “Alien,” O’Bannon emerged out of U.S.C.’s film school with his friend, John Carpenter and together they collaborated on an odd science fiction comedy called “Dark Star.” While few remember that film, it set them both on a pretty interesting path.

When I was in the middle of high school and at the height of my geekness  (three terms as president of the Venice High science fiction club!), I actually met O’Bannon in some odd circumstances at a crisis point in his career. Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you the story, but suffice it to say he seemed like a good guy and he was clearly something of a minor genius. He’ll be very much missed.

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* Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney and the son of Roy O. Disney, also passed on at age 79. The younger Disney emerged as a king-maker and king-breaker of sorts, launching insurgent movements that wound up putting Michael Eisner in charge of the studio in 1984 and then deposing him in 2004.

* Finally, if you’re a former film student like myself you’ve probably had to read some of the work of famed academic critic and scholar Robin Wood, who was so respected that almost no one noticed when serious film-criticism aficionado Joss Whedon named a supercool cool high school principal/cum monster-fighter after him on “Buffy.” (How could anyone namecheck him on a mere TV show? It had to be a coincidence.) One of the first critics to approach genre films seriously, he is famous for works on Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, among many others. He has passed on at age 78, and the always interesting Glenn Kenny has a remembrance.

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“The Making of ‘Nation’s Pride’”

With a debt of gratitude to Dennis Cozzalio here is our belated presentation of “The Making of ‘Nation’s Pride’,” i.e., a fake promo for the movie within a movie of “Inglourious Basterds.”

It ain’t perfect. (If you thought Eli Roth’s performance as “the Bear Jew” was lacking, wait till you see him as the shades wearing Nazi director Alois Von Eichberg — oy vey!) but Sylvester Groth as producer Joseph Goebbels and Julie Dreyfuss as his, er, muse, Francesca Mondino  are great. This is just the thing for those of us who just can’t get enough of what I think is almost certainly going to be this year’s most irresistible movie.

And, as a bonus, here’s the a film clip from the film within a film, directed by Eli Roth (and, fortunately, not starring him).

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How were those Basterds so damn good at scalping?

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Those of you who have seen “Inglourious Basterds” will remember the glorious scalping scenes, where Lt. Aldo Raine’s Jewish-American troops would seamlessly apply the finishing touch to their fallen enemies. But how did it look so good on camera?

To play up the grisly spectacle of scalping Nazi soldiers in Quentin Tarantino’s ” Inglourious Basterds” required some sleight of hand as well as the makeup skill of Gregory Nicotero and the rest of the effects crew at KNB EFX. “The way the gag works, the scalp and the actor’s head are separate,” Nicotero said. “To sell the gag, you have to pretend like you’re really putting effort into the cutting, like the knife is really slicing through skin.” The team made a mold of makeup effects artist Jake Garber’s head and used that as the model to sculpt the scalps to be affixed to the extras’ heads. Then they hand-painted the bloody details onto the piece and covered the whole area in a patented concoction called Ultraslime.

Duly noted. If you’ve got the dough and want to construct the most brutal haunted house in the history of Halloween, call up the KNB EFX crew. Though I usually make an effort to dress in the lamest costume I can think of on the holiday, I might have to acquire some of this Ultraslime and spice things up. On that note, I wonder how popular the “Bear Jew” costume will be this year.

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