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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2007!
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 367  (Vol. 8, No. 14). This edition is for the week of April 2--8, 2007.

And the Retro Look

by Mike Smith


by Paul Guzzo

The Garden State Film Fest '07

by Mike Smith

Passing On....Trivial Notes....Dice-K....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 14: Bill Macy

The Crazed Fanboy Chatroom is Now Open
The Very Nutty Keith Richards
Bob Clark
John Winter (TV meteorologist)

Earlier this week I had an animated discussion with a close colleague about the upcoming movie, Grindhouse (opening this Friday, April 6) and the pains the producers took to emulate the look of a '70s-era film. This is based mainly on the trailers and previews, since at the time of this writing, the movie hasn't opened yet.

One of the most obvious "filmlook" additions was that of badly-scratched film. The problem my colleague had (if I understood him correctly) is that Grindhouse might be more valuable if that "effect" had not been implemented (all other effects intact, the retro look likely still being preserved), and further, that the scratches might be interpreted by audiences as a cheesy computer effect simply to make the film look old. I replied that I thought I knew what they were going for and it wasn't simply to make the film look old per se. Read on...

It may rattle the rafters of true believers to read this now, but at the time I first got into indie filmmaking about the late '70s, I deeply felt that a movie simply wasn't a movie without the scratches, the pops, and the slightly damaged texture. It was part of every flick I ever saw on "Creature Feature", and even new movies at the local bijou had 'em, though not to as-great an extent. It made the movie feel lived in....enjoyed....gone around the block a few times....loved. Of course, very old films like King Kong ('33) or Frankenstein ('31) were damaged heavily mostly due to their age, true. But here I'm simply talking about films new or old played so many times for so many people they were practically falling apart. Pretty much covered any era.

Super-8 Memories
My first experience with a movie camera was a second-hand Minolta Super-8, around 1978. I loved that format and still miss it to some degree (though not its expense). The first thing I did with my first sacred developed roll of Kodachrome 40 (R.I.P.) was to run it through my projector about 50 times to produce scratches on purpose! While this was certainly successful, I cringe when I think about it now.

In any event, the purpose of my experiment back then was not to make the film look old, necessarily, but to make it look beat up, an important distinction.

Something I could not quite emulate in those days, at least not on purpose, was the look of contrasty, fogged, dirty film release prints with crude edits (from projector damage) that went with the territory of a low-budget film. You had a few hundred prints going to a thousand theaters with the accompanying rough handling and lousy storage environments.

This week's Poll results
Do you prefer the good old days sitting in dark theaters, eating popcorn and watching scratchy B-Movies?

  • Hell yes, that's the real thing!: 12 votes
  • Hell no, screw that, if I want a party tape, I rent the DVD with the restored version.: 2 votes
  • No preference as long as the movie's good!: 4 votes

    Total number of votes: 18

  • Did Keith Richards snort the ashes of his own father?

  • Yes, he's insane like that.: 7 votes
  • No, he was just playing with the reporter when he said that.: 5 votes
  • I don't care what Keith Richards does. 1 vote

    Total number of votes: 13

  • Thanks for voting!
    It is my belief that this is what directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino had in mind for Grindhouse and its embedded double-features Planet Terror (Rodriguez) and Death Proof (Tarantino). Between the two features are phony trailers from popular genre directors. One which has made an appearance last weekend on YouTube is Eli Roth's "preview" of Thanksgiving, another perfect example of so-bad-it's-good filmmaking.

    It has come to my attention that while the filmmakers did use some computer technology to dirty up their films, some of the damage was genuine (I was told at least one film or trailer was dragged around the studio parking lot several times to ding the heck out of it, but I forgot which. Maybe they all did).

    Epilogue on the "Damaged" Look
    In recent years I, like so many of my colleagues, have gotten used to the pristine look of digital video; the thought of going back to releasing truly damaged films is unconciounable. Still, filmmakers continue to strive to achieve a filmlook on video and have the luxury of having their films played digitally hundreds or thousands of times with no appreciable damage, unless its to the DVD disc itself, in which case it might not play at all.

    That conceded, filmmakers like Rodriguez and Tarantino (and, I'm sure many, many others) obviously miss the days when viewing a low-budget film involved putting up with noisy projectors, missing reels, damaged film and scratchy sound -- but hey, we remember them as the good ol' days!

    Crazed FanChat Now Open
    Announced last week, the official Crazed Fanboy Chatroom service, "Crazed FanChat", is now online and open. It is part of a new registered members area that is currently still under contruction, but will feature more cool stuff over time. For a limited introductory period, the universal username/password will be demo/demo. Check out the Members Area and click on Crazed FanChat, or simply go straight to the Chatroom. Play with it, leave me a message. Oh, and please don't forget to log out after you're done.

    Keef, Keef, Keef.....
    63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist, wildman Keith Richards recently disclosed during a magazine interview that the strangest thing he'd ever snorted was his own father's ashes. Seems after the old man was cremated, Keith mixed some if it up with "some blow", up his nose it went, and "it went down very nicely actually," he said.

    Now, a Stones publicist is saying Keith made all that up, he was just kidding, and to "file that under 'April Fool's joke'."

    Question: is this latest announcement a genuine recant over something possibly embarrassing that never really happened, or an emergency bit of damage control by the Stones managers to prevent some sort of public outcry over a disgusting (but real) act?

    Director of "A Christmas Story", Bob Clark, Dead at 67
    Bob Clark, the director who made A Christmas Story a perennial favorite, was killed along with his son earlier this week on a Pacific Coast highway by a drunk driver, a 24-year-old illegal immigrant. Clark was 67.

    Clark's first notoriety for shock-film fans came with Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things and later, Porky's. His last few films did not quite live up to his earlier successes.

    I copied the following from Terence's MySpace bulletin. I'm placing it here because in just a few words he captures his as-always uniquely personal feelings:

    Bob Clark, director of a string of the most original and era-defining horror films of the '70s, was killed along with his son in a head-on collision. While he has made complete and utter crap in recent years (his last film will now be Karate Dog, god that's sad), he nevertheless made the following classics and will be missed.

    Black Christmas
    Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things

    Also he made the ever-watchable A Christmas Story and the infamous Porkys.

    Terence also started the Message Board thread Bob Clark, R.I.P. for anyone who wishes to comment.

    There is also some commentary and more info on Bob Clark (as well as late Hammer Studios director Freddie Francis) in this week's Mike's Rant.

    Tampa Channel 8 Weatherman John Winter Commits Suicide
    When police were initially called to the home of Channel 8 meteorologist John Winter yesterday, it was from a concerned friend who called thinking that something might not be right with John. Winter seemed to be home but had not answered the phone or the door for an extended period. His car was in the driveway, but repeated knocks and rings brought no answer. After police forced their way in, within seconds a shot rang out, and John Winters, 39, was found dead in his garage from an apparent gunshot wound to the head.

    John Winter, a 12-year veteran of Channel 8's broadcasts, was by all accounts a happy and generous individual. A regular on the morning news (I would alternately watch Channel 8 or FOX 13's always entertaining line-up), the TV station was palpable with shock and the regular anchors struggled mightily to get through the subsequent broadcasts, having to report the gruesome death of their friend. There has been an outpouring of grief from the community usually reserved for dignitaries' demises. I don't envy his replacement having those shoes to fill.

    There has been no media speculation as to why this happened. It was reported a note was left, but its contents have not been divulged. Personal speculation is murky at best, but in this age of sex and drug scandals, I don't see him as the kind of person to have something dark about to be exposed (like former D.A. Harry Lee Coe's huge gambling debts, for example). There was even a thought that the passionate animal activist might've been morosely upset over the passing of his dog a few weeks back. But one never knows.

    John Winter will be sorely missed.

    Please consider making a donation to help support Crazed Fanboy! Click on the "donate" link below and give whatever you can. I sincerely thank you for any and all consideration.---Nolan
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    "Mike's Rant" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith    "Filmlook" is ©2007 by Paul Guzzo     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova    
    Crazed Fanboy dotcom is owned and operated by Nolan B. Canova

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