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PCR #134. (Vol. 3, No. 42) This edition is for the week of October 14--20, 2002.
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Hello, gang. News, notes and vampires.......oh my! Shall we begin?

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Thought I'd get this out of the way at the beginning. Let me preface my choices by saying that I'm not the biggest viewer of classic horror films. I'm not Patty or Nolan or Rick. I'm certainly not Matt, who has his own monster web site. But I like the occasional scare as much as the next guy. Two of my entries were television films from the early 70's. As far as I know, all are available for home viewing on either tape or DVD, so if I pique your interest here, by all means enjoy. Here they are, in no particular order:

   DRACULA (1933 and 1979): Might as well start with the main man himself. Great atmosphere and a mesmerizing lead performance from Bela Lugosi. If you get the chance, try to catch the Spanish language version with a different cast that was actually filmed at night on the same sets. It's a rare chance to compare the same subject through different eyes. I'm also partial to the stylish John Badham directed version in which Frank Langella recreated his award winning Broadway performance. Plus, Sir Larry Olivier's performance as Van Helsing almost takes away the stench or his next role, Neil Diamonds' cantor father in "The Jazz Singer." And, if you find a way to stomach Keanu Reeves as Harker in the Coppola version of the early 90's, you'll see the always brilliant Gary Oldman combine the horror of Lugosi and the charm of Langella into the perfect Count.
   NOSFERATU (1922) and (1981(?): While the original silent classic is best known for the vision of F.W. Murnau and the performance of Max Schrek, I equally enjoyed the later film which starred the very under appreciated Klaus Kinski. I lumped them together because that is the way I think about them. I would have liked to have seen Schrek in the modern day version and Kinski having nothing more then his expressive face to sell the terror in the silent one.
   THE HUNGER: Any time you can combine the words "Catherine Denauve" "Susan Sarandon" and "Lesbian" in the same film description, I'm there. Imagine the money "White Palace" would have made if Jodie Foster played the James Spader role! My voyeuristic intentions set aside for a moment, also a very well made and stylish film.
   FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (or, "Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck"): Roman Polanski directed and starred in this very impressive combination of comedy and horror. Only sad part is seeing a young Sharon Tate and wondering what she could have become in Hollywood had she not been taken so young.
   INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE: Wow! I read this book when I was in high school. The buzz at the time was that everyone wanted Travolta for the role of Lestat! As much as I would have enjoyed seeing River Phoenix's take as the "interviewer," i found Christian Slater to be right on the money. Tom Cruise in one of his most underrated roles stars along with some of the best looking vampires I've ever seen. Trust me, if more vampires looked like Brad Pitt and Antonio Bandares then NO BODY would be putting up a fight when they headed for their jugulars!
   NEAR DARK: Director Kathryn Bigelow has gone on to bigger movies, including this summer's "K19," but she has never made a better one then this. Featuring a cast of young actors, including Adrian Pasdar and Bill Paxton.
   THE LOST BOYS: After watching "Batman and Robin," it's easy now to look back on this Joel Schumacher film and see why all of the vampires and their victims look like they just walked out of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. Extra credit for the best on screen pairing of the "Coreys", Feldman and Haim!
   FROM DUSK TIL DAWN: So over the top it's fun to watch. Kudo's to screenwriter Quentin Tarrentino and director Robert Rodriguez for letting the audience share in the fun they obviously had in putting this film together. Even more Kudo's to Tarrentino for having his character knocked unconscious half way through the film to spare the audience his thespian shortcomings.
   DRACULA (1973): A made-for-television movie starring Jack Palance as the Count and directed by Dan Curtis, of "Dark Shadows" fame. This thing ran continuously on the CBS late move and constantly scared the bejesus out of me.
   KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER: I can't believe no one has mentioned this gem yet. Darrin McGavin in his second greatest role (the constantly cursing father in "A Christmas Story" is easily his first) as the newspaper man who always gets his story. Inspired a second TV film and a short lived series.

Honorable Mention:
JAWS THE REVENGE: Universal sucks the last remaining blood out of a once and always classic. If their intention was to cause me to run out of the theatre screaming, then they surely did their job!

20th Century Fox has announced that they will be moving their thriller "Phone Booth" from it's original release date of November 15th until sometime next year. The Colin Farrell film, which was going to go head to head against the second Harry Potter movie, deals with a man who is trapped in a phone booth by a sniper with a high powered rifle. Not wanting to be perceived as capitalizing on the current tragedies taking place on the east coast, the film company decided it was best to release it later. Probably a good idea. With the exception of "The China Syndrome," no film released so close to a national subject has ever done well. From the 1993 film "Body Parts," which had the misfortune of coming out the same weekend that Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested to the very recent film, "Trapped," which deals with the kidnapping of a young girl, the public almost seems to think that these films have been released just to capitalize on the latest tragedy, when in fact it takes YEARS from inception for the finished product to hit the screen.

This past Wednesday, Yoko Ono presented the first John Lennon Peace Prize before a crowd of 300 U.N. Ambassadors, officials and artists. Ono presented $50,000 checks to Palestinian artist Khali Rabah and Israeli artist Zvi Goldstein. Later that afternoon, Lennon's convicted assassin (who's name will not be mentioned because he's a piece of shit) was denied parole for the second time.

A few deaths to report on this week:
   Ray Conniff: A composer, bandleader and trombone player, Conniff won a Grammy award for his recording of the theme from "Dr. Zhivago." Conniff died in California after falling down and hitting his head. He was 85. The Ray Conniff Singers and Orchestra were one of the most popular acts of the 1960's.
   Teresa Graves: An actress best known for her early work on "Laugh In," Graves died this week in a fire at her home. She was 54. After leaving "Laugh In," she went on to star as a sassy undercover cop in "Get Christie Love," where she was known the world over for her announcement after she bagged a bad guy, "You're under arrest, Sugar!"
   Charles Guggenheim: Four-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Charles Guggenheim died this past Wednesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 78. One of his best known documentaries is "RFK Remembered," which he made shortly after Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated. The film went on to win the Oscar as best documentary in 1969. He also received documentary Oscars for "Nine From Little Rock," "The Johnstown Flood and, most recently in 1994, "A Time for Justice."
   Dennis Patrick: Patrick, who played the Ewing family's banker on the television series, "Dallas," also died this past week after a fire in his home in Hollywood Hills, California. He was 84 He is best remembered for his television roles on such series as "The Twilight Zone," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" and "Dark Shadows."

Well, that's it for now. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2002 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova.