Archives for November 2008 | Varied Celluloid

Archive for November, 2008

Feast Review

Posted by Josh Samford On November - 13 - 2008

Back again everybody, and have a review for a modern “classic” of sorts! There’s a lot of talk going around about Feast and it’s sequel Feast II: Sloppy Seconds, both films are completely anti-PC in nearly every way and are generally entertaining as well! I particularly liked this, the first film and hope others will enjoy the review. Until next time!

The Review: Feast turned out to be the train I completely and utterly missed out on. Only recently did I finally buck up and get a Dish for my television watching, growing up strictly with basic cable, so I missed out on all of the Project Greenlight crazyness in the past years when it was on HBO as well as the Bravo station. For those unfamiliar, Project Greenlight was a program where producers (including Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) got together and picked out one user submitted script in order to make a feature film out of. Feast was on the third season of Project Greenlight, and I’m sure there was all kinds of drama behind the scenes of the film – but having not seen that series I can only make judgement on the film itself and I suppose that’s even better. With no way of showing partiality towards the filmmakers and their good intentions, I come into Feast as just another guy looking for a bit of gory horror film fun. With that frame of mind, I have to say that Feast definitely delivered.

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Feast

Posted by Josh Samford On November - 13 - 2008
The Plot: A group of strangers pack themselves into a bar, some there for a good night, some there just to get lucky. After this night however, no one is waking up with a smile. The night begins after a man breaks into the bar and warns everyone that a whole slew of deadly creatures are heading their way – and that these creatures have a thirst for blood and won’t stop until they’re all dead. No one believes him of course, that is until they attack. After the hero of the film is dispatched in the opening minutes, it’s up to the hero’s wife to take on the role of heroine – but how will this rag tag group of slackers and morons survive this infestation of hellspawn?



The Review: Feast turned out to be the train I completely and utterly missed out on. Only recently did I finally buck up and get a Dish for my television watching, growing up strictly with basic cable, so I missed out on all of the Project Greenlight crazyness in the past years when it was on HBO as well as the Bravo station. For those unfamiliar, Project Greenlight was a program where producers (including Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) got together and picked out one user submitted script in order to make a feature film out of. Feast was on the third season of Project Greenlight, and I’m sure there was all kinds of drama behind the scenes of the film – but having not seen that series I can only make judgement on the film itself and I suppose that’s even better. With no way of showing partiality towards the filmmakers and their good intentions, I come into Feast as just another guy looking for a bit of gory horror film fun. With that frame of mind, I have to say that Feast definitely delivered.

That doesn’t mean that we’re talking about a spectacular or particularly brilliant horror film, but overall Feast turns out to be one of the better independent horrors to make the scene as of recent. This comes in the past couple of years where independent and straight to DVD horror has made a bit of a resurgence in terms of quality. Feast is an old fashioned gore comedy that doesn’t skimp on either, as children are brutalized, limbs are lopped off and finally demons orally rape the innocent. That’s right, oral rape. Not exactly something you see every day in mainstream cinema! Feast takes joy in everything that is not politically correct, and after having seen the second film as well I can testify that the filmmakers behind the series are looking to push the envelope as hard and as heavy as they can while still packing in an audience. As a horror-comedy, something more than just some blood, guys and maggots – I find Feast actually works well at just about everything it tries to do. It doesn’t always succeed, but more often than not the heart is in all the right places.

Featuring a very reliable cast, the performances are all right on the head as they should be. I found myself particularly enjoying Henry Rollins, former punk singer and spoken work rock artist, as he found himself playing against type as a motivational speaker. In other words, big old Henry Rollins plays a wimp. Hard to imagine, since the guy’s biceps are larger than the state of Montanna and his gravelly speaking voice is more rough than the far side of a coal mine. Between his performance here and in the gory and yet slightly goofy Wrong Turn II, I’m convinced Henry is really coming into his own as far as his acting goes. The lovely Krista Allen also stars, and is as beautiful as ever. Have had a crush on her for many years, since those nights of staying up and catching her Emanuelle softcore romps on Skinemax in the late hours of the night. Ahh, the good old days. The rest of the cast all remain fundementally ‘cool’ like the story calls for and generally spit out their “much cooler than reality” dialogue in such a way that it doesn’t become overly forced or shallow.

This brings up another possible detriment the film may have in the eyes of some audience members. Feast is another hip take on genre film, with a little bit of influence from Tarantino and Rodriguez or even the wave of post Pulp Fiction crime films. It’s a hyper reality, where characters are cooler than cool and always have the right one-liners to quip out at just the right moments. Add to this a lot of kinetik editing, and every character in the film going by a nickname rather than any kind of actual given name. Some are going to be attracted to the concept and see it for a cool little bit of mcguffin, some are going to think it’s over the top and trying too hard. You the audience can make up your mind on that bit, but I personally found it to be a neat touch – especially in a horror film such as this that doesn’t take itself too serious and has such a love for juvenile humor and gore. When you’re actually trying to have a “cool” film, I think it becomes more embarrasing.

Feast is just part of this new wave of independent horror that seems to be gaining in popularity. Some are part of the “torture porn” subgenre, some are just ghost stories but it seems as if the horror genre is being reborn in some ways in the DVD market – as the Dimension Extreme lineup as well as the Ghosthouse Underground series of films have given us quite a few quality releases. Horror isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s great to see the youth finally making their mark on the genre instead of trying to simply duplicate our old masters. I’m giving Feast a 4 out of 5, as it really is a highly entertaining little flick with a lot of gore and is gruesomely entertaining. Don’t worry though, as gory as this one is, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all.


The New Centurions Review

Posted by Josh Samford On November - 7 - 2008

So here we are, another day another classic piece of cinematic history! The New Centurions is a flick I stumbled upon by accident, but was drawn to due to the amazing high level talent of the cast. Stacy Keach? George C. Scott? Count me in. Two great actors, both with connections to William Peter Blatty films (George in Excorcist III and Stacy in The Ninth Configuration) and the two are superb here. It’s a shame flicks like this aren’t made in this day and age. Police dramas have turned into wannabe Scarface type pictures it seems. Still, you can check out The New Centurions and learn just what you’ve been missing!

The Review: If there are two draws that will generally grab my interest; the first has to be crime cinema. Not necessarily from the point of the criminal either, police officers on the beat, detectives hunting down mad men or generally anything pertaining to that sort of thing. I suppose in some fashion we’re all intrigued with those who would oppose the law, and those who are sworn to protect it. The other thing I mentioned that pretty much guarantees my interest comes from any film featuring George C. Scott. I’ve already reviewed Hardcore here on the site, and aim to someday put The Excorcist III here amongst other works of his. There’s just something about the man, his gravelly voice and his ability to deliver lines with such earnest conviction. I don’t believe American cinema has ever seen another actor quite like him.

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New Centurions, The

Posted by Josh Samford On November - 7 - 2008

The Plot: Roy Fehler (Stacy Keach) is a rookie on the police force who has set himself up so that he can work the streets at night for money in order to raise his family, and then go to classes for law school during the day. After his first night on the job though, right alongside Kilvinski (George C. Scott) he finds his home. Kilvinski shows him how dangerous it can be to be a police officer, but also how good and honest it can be when done with some compassion. Roy finds himself falling in love with the streets, and finding himself at odds with law school as well as his wife who starts to feel a seperation between the two of them. Will the badge drive Roy away from everything he used to love dearly, or will he find a center peace and resolve?




The Review: If there are two draws that will generally grab my interest; the first has to be crime cinema. Not necessarily from the point of the criminal either, police officers on the beat, detectives hunting down mad men or generally anything pertaining to that sort of thing. I suppose in some fashion we’re all intrigued with those who would oppose the law, and those who are sworn to protect it. The other thing I mentioned that pretty much guarantees my interest comes from any film featuring George C. Scott. I’ve already reviewed Hardcore here on the site, and aim to someday put The Excorcist III here amongst other works of his. There’s just something about the man, his gravelly voice and his ability to deliver lines with such earnest conviction. I don’t believe American cinema has ever seen another actor quite like him.

Although Scott doesn’t take the main role here in The New Centurions, his supporting role is felt throughout the entire film and his character’s passion pushes the film into being something other than the ordinary. The New Centurions shows police officers in a different kind of light, they are portrayed as fully human here and the men who step behind the badge are shown as being fiercely devoted. Not surprising, the film’s author Joseph Wambaugh did serve as a police officer before becoming an acclaimed novelist and found his career focused on that same devotion to the law and the police force, with his most popular books being therough examinations about the job of protection such as in this film. Dealing mostly with “the job” and how these men do their best to deal with it, as well as the strain it has on their lives. Much of the drama within The New Centurions deals with the wonderful Stacy Keach and his character Roy, who finds himself at odds with his wife who can’t understand his passion and devotion for the job. A devotion that may end up getting him killed, and has drawn him away from what could have been a very financially successful career as an attorney.

The cast only needs to be mentioned by name, when you see George C. Scott and Stacy Keach as the two stars – you know that performances are going to be top notch. Stacy Keach is the real shining star here as the subdued Roy, as she shows at first a true love for the work of a police officer – and slowly moves away from his predestined goals and into a new area he never expected to go into. The whole film is a blank portrait that Keach is able to paint upon with his performance as a man of confusion who slowly learns his own truth. It really makes you stop and wonder what ever happened to Keach, and at what point did the Hollywood machine decide he was not capable of carrying a leading role and was a more suitable character actor? Perhaps it was his cocaine arrest in the eighties, and then his surgence in television movies/shows. Keach however cemented his status as one of the best American actors with films such as this and The Ninth Configuration, it’s just a shame he hasn’t had as much room in his career as of late to flex those talents.

The heart of New Centurions is its consistant devotion to showing us a fact based reality of just what this job entails. We start with the new recruits who over time become hardened veterans, but all the way through we are shown that it’s just a job. Occasionally instances of action pop up, but most of the time we just see these officers having to break up prostitutes, seperate quarraling couples and stop cars for traffic violations. There’s no crazed lunatics on the loose killing the innocent or serial killing psychopaths targeting the police. The New Centurions is as by-the-books as the officers it portrays, but is a stronger film for it by giving us a factual and more realistic approach to this exciting occupation, and in the meantime we grow attached to these officers who go out there and put their lives on the line to do what they think is right. Is it possibly a utopian vision of law enforcement? Maybe. With no police officers being shown as power hungry or jerks toward the civillians they come in contact with. However, just because some of us have been treated pretty unfairly by some police officers before (I had two cops a few months ago pull me over, harrass me and insult me personally) doesn’t mean that by and large this is the way things are. Since then I have had to turn to several police officers who I now count as friends myself, so not having that element in the film is something I find easy to forgive.

The New Centurions takes on that seventies air of pessimism that was so alluring in cop/crime films of that era. Working as a slice of life portrayal of police officers on duty as they settle out into their new lives, it’s a side of the law viewers aren’t used to seeing and is simply a tremendous film full of great performances from some of the best American actors of that time and place. If you’re a fan of seventies filmmaking, police/crime films or if you’re like me and just obsessed with George C. Scott – you’ll want to see this. I give it a four out of five, and say I must find myself continually amazed with the film and the lack of people talking about it. Definitely check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Short Film Reviews For November RC

Posted by Josh Samford On November - 4 - 2008

For those who don’t know, I write for RogueCinema.com on a regular basis and have done so since the start of the zine. We cover pretty much everything but have slowly become a magnet for Independent cinema and a voice for the community. So every month I get a few screeners in and try my best to get to all of them for each month’s issue. So this month I covered the films Charlie Thistle, The Devil Lives in Hot Springs and Tossers. I’ll link RC here on the front page, but you can find my RC writings in my “articles” section here at the site as well.

Sometimes writing for Rogue Cinema turns out to be really rewarding. Although I can generally find something to appreciate about every independent film that comes through my doors, and do my best to get into the mind of the filmmakers and the unpaid friends who helped bring about this vision. Today, after watching the short film Charlie Thistle by Bragi Schut I feel as if I have seen something new and fresh from a filmmaker that could possibly be making big waves in a short matter of time. With a screenwriting credit on the new Nicholas Cage film Season of the Witch (no relation to Halloween III of course) it seems as if my gut feeling is turning into reality. Schut himself was the writer/director behind this short which he made in order to enter in the Doorpost Film Project where it apparently placed 3rd, but I can’t imagine the two other films that could have placed higher – as Charlie Thistle is one of the most well made and heartwarming short films I have seen since writing for Rogue Cinema. I’ve ran into quite a few classics as well, so that’s no small feat. At fifteen minutes in length, I simply fell in love with Bragi Schut Jr.’s visual form of storytelling and his beautifully silly world… Continue Reading Here

The Devil Lives in Hot SpringsIndependent cinema can be hit and miss, much like the majority of Hollywood productions. However, even when you’re dealing with Indie films that suffer from monetary issues during production, or actors who aren’t necessarily the most accomplished or experienced yet – there’s still so much heart to be found that the experience is almost always rewarding. The Devil Lives in Hot Springs is a little like that. It’s a film shot without a budget, but is still given a decent balance of style due to some interesting editing and post production work. Some of the performances are at times spotty, but not that it distracts from the overall film and the very structured script, which was what kept me so engaged in the film. We’ll go over that in a second, but overall I have to say Devil Lives in Hot Springs turned out to be a very interesting little cinematic trip. The kidnap/rape/revenge/home invasion genre is one that I have always been lured into. No matter what the film may be, if someone is chained up or torture is to take place – I’m guaranteed to see it one way or another. Although not an all out rape/revenge film, it does eat up a good portion of screen time and carries some of the strongest acting and becomes the central focus of the film. Continue Reading Here

TossersThe mockumentary genre is one of the toughest facets of comedy to really nail. It seems when you get a lot of gifted people around, everyone has no trouble entertaining themselves – but sometimes what entertains ones self during an improvisational moment isn’t necessarily as brilliant as you might think later on when watching it free of the giddy and fun-filled mood such an atmosphere puts you in. We’ve all seen at least one of the brilliant mockumentarys put on by Christopher Guest, such as This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting For Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind – and chances are you’ve stumbled across a couple of the really painful “oh my gosh, look how silly we’re being!” videos located on the net as well. Tossers is a short film however made with more of an inspired vision than some of the mess you’ll find out there in youtube land, and actually provides quite a few laughs along the way. What seems to work best with Tossers is the leniency towards absurdity, and playing it completely straight. This is a little more extreme than a character having two actual left feet, or an amp specifically made to go to 11 on the volume knob. We have werewolves and Vegetarians who hate people who even THINK about endangering animals – as well as shopping cart artistry. Whether or not you find it as enjoyable as I did, there’s no getting past the quirky imagination involved in the making of this short. Continue Reading Here

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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