PCR past banners Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #230  (Vol. 5, No. 34)  This edition is for the week of August 16--22, 2004.

What’s In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida’s Towns and Counties E to G
 by William Moriaty
"Alien vs Predator"
 by Mike Smith
Happy Birthday, Nolan....Exorcist 4: The Beginning....LXG A#1!....Grindhouse Cinema, Revisited
 by Andy Lalino
The Fiery Furnaces....Comets On Fire....Rogue Wave....The Hives
  by Terence Nuzum
Pirates of the Spanish Main....I, Robot....The Village....Fay Wray
 by John Lewis
Swiftboat Veterans For Truth -- NOT!!!
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Moron....Do You Like Pink?....Movie Heaven....LXG Is A-OK....Passing On....Sorry About The Knee....Meet The Beatles, Part 30
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Happy Birthday, Nolan
I join the other N'sPCR writing staff in wishing our fearless leader Nolan Canova a very happy birthday! As I expressed to him this afternoon, having Hurricane Charley not hit us was one hell of a present from the man upstairs! I wish Nole much success with future editions of PCR/CF, and hope that it's the best year for him yet. I know that I visit the site many times a day, in case Nole gets a wild hair to do an update. Congrats as well on the upcoming Tampa Tribune feature on PCR/CF.

Awaiting "Exorcist 4: The Beginning"
I wish I could sit here writing that I'm atwitter at the prospect of the latest "Exorcist" prequel, but that's simply not the case. As brilliant as the original was, I remain skeptical of whether or not Renny Harlin/Morgan Creek can pull off at least a worthy successor to the '73 film (doubtful). I mean, when I first saw the new trailer for the film, about 25% of it was footage from the original, as was the music (Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells")!

Already stuff of legend, it seems that the feuding versions of "Exorcist 4: The Beginning" at least has a clear winner: Renny Harlin's. I have it on good, insider authority that Paul ("Cat People") Schrader's version did indeed "suck", although it would be nice to discover that for myself, not that Schrader has done much worthwhile since '82s "Cat People", one of my favorite horror films. I suppose we'll get that chance when Morgan Creek releases the "Exorcist 4" DVD which will include both the Harlin and Schrader versions (what a great marketing ploy!). I guess I find it hard to believe that Morgan Creek could deliver a well thought-out, substantial "prequel" given the time constraints and unusual conditions offered (the fact that Schrader's version sank). The only way to know is to see the film, so I hope I get that chance soon.

I highly recommend (surprisingly) watching a special the E! network did recently called "The E! True Hollywood Story: Curse of The Exorcist" which features all-new interviews with Linda Blair, Eileen Dietz (Linda's double + "Captain Howdy"), Dick Smith, special effects artist Marcel Vercoutere, and other members of the '73 cast/crew. The program also spotlights the new film, with welcome interviews of sober Paul Schrader and Renny Harlin. Even the poorly received sequels are touched upon ("The Heretic" & "Legion") and rightfully lambasted, though "Legion" had its moments. It's nice to see Eileen Dietz get her moment in the sun. I often wondered just who was behind the nightmarish "Captain Howdy" make-up; little did I know it was an 18-year-old girl! That really took me by surprise. Actually I have to credit our own Steve "Uncle Creepy" Barton with enlightening us horror fans with a wonderful interview with Dietz on the Horror Channel's Official Website. Dietz also doubled for the young Linda Blair during the famous "cross masturbation" scene.

Eileen Dietz link: http://www.horrorchannel.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=95&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

I learned a lot about "The Exorcist" I hadn't known before. Linda Blair suffered an actual back fracture (in her words, she "paid for it the rest of her life") when in the movie she was depicted being thrown back-n-forth on the bed. If you look at that scene you have to wonder how any person could do that and not get hurt. Another story described how to get the true look of shock on the actor's face, director William Friedkin fired off actual handguns during key moments, scaring the bejeezus out of the actors! Now that's directing! Special effects artist Vercoutere mused about the famous "pea soup" scene, noting that he heated up the soup that splashed on Jason Miller's face. If you watch Miller's expression after he gets green-soaked, you'll note it is authentically real - an emotion even the most seasoned actor would find hard to match. In yet another scene Friedkin asked Vercoutere to "beef up" a slingshot harness that was to pull Ellen Burstyn back, slamming her against a wall. She hit it harder than she anticipated and was physically hurt during the shoot. Needless to say, I'm sure some of the actors wanted to get paybacks on Vercouture for his little shenanigans. Did you know it was 30 degrees-below-zero when they filmed the bedroom exorcism? I wonder if the '82 film "The Stunt Man" was based on Friedkin's "Exorcist" exploits.

Despite all the physical hardships the actors had to endure, they wound up with what is truly the best horror film ever made. We may have our favorites ("Return of the Living Dead", "Halloween", etc.), but "The Exorcist" is positively the most well-made horror film in history, bar none.

Another fascinating aspect of the E! show was actual 1973 footage of those doomed female patrons who dared encounter "The Exorcist". Little did they know what they were about to get into. Some women fainted, others trembled, there were those who could not talk. "The Exorcist" took everyone by surprise in the tender year of 1973. No one had seen anything like this before. It struck a chord and depicted things so horrific, that tender minds could not grasp its dark power, and eventually they fell victim, by the thousands, to its terrifying spell.

Will "Exorcist 4: The Beginning" mark the first worthy sequel to the '73 film? Was Paul Schrader's version as bad as they say? Is Renny Harlin the Great White Hope? We'll find out this Friday, but the truth is there's no way to beat the 1970's. It can't be done.

LXG A#1!
You know, a lot of people I talked with before seeing the 2003 film "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" put the movie down. After seeing what I thought were promising trailers, I read nothing but negative reviews about the film. Nothing could be farther from the truth - let me go on record in saying that LXG is one of the greatest fantasy films I have seen since the '80s.

How can you lose by bringing together colorful characters from classic fantasy literature and pitting them against a worthy adversary? There are more heroes than you can shake a stick at: Allan Quartermain, the Invisible Man, Tom Sawyer, Dorian Gray, the Vampire's Bride (Mina Harker), Captain Nemo, Jekyll/Hyde *whew* - let me catch my breath! The special effects, editing, and action sequences (choreographing) are all superb and don't steal the spotlight from the story or characters.

I fault the movie only for utilizing technology that's far too advanced for the time (the overly-sleek "Nautilus" and a speedy automobile; I would have liked to have seen them put together with rivets), but is ultimately easy to overlook. My main gripe was the fact that the gigantic Nautilus was able to surface and navigate at the East London docks and in the canals of Venice! I don't think so.

Do yourself a favor and rent LXG ASAP. Crank up the surround sound and pat yourself on the back for a well-chosen classic film.

Grindhouse Cinema revisited:
N'sPCR was suspended during the week due to Hurricane Charley, so I invite all readers to revisit my last Oddservations chronicling that fateful year in 1989 when a legion of horror/exploitation film fans actually stormed Tampa Theater and took it over for a night! You won't believe this story!


"Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.