Either your browser's javascript has been disabled or it needs an update! Please re-enable your javascript program or update your browser to view this page as designed.
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2007!
PCR Archives 2007 PCR Archives 2006
PCR Archives 2005 PCR Archives 2004
PCR Archives 2003 PCR Archives 2002
PCR Archives 2001 PCR Archives 2000
Email PCR
The Tampa Film Review for April  by Nolan B. Canova, Terence Nuzum, and Chris Woods
"Vacancy"  by Mike Smith
"Grindhouse" -- What Happened?  by Andy Lalino
Today I'm a Hokie....Revulsed....Speaking Of....Forget the Ides of March....Let's Not Forget....Movie Notes....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 16: Gary Busey  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 369  (Vol. 8, No. 16). This edition is for the week of April 16--22, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review for April

By Nolan B. Canova, Terence Nuzum, and Chris Woods

Click on images to enlarge. A new brower window will open.
Jay Hewlett is a stand-up comic, dramatic actor (Mexican Sky), and founding member of the Tampa comedy troupe Damage Control, Inc. Here on a visit to Tampa for the Suncreen Film Fest, we were finally able to meet up in Ybor City.
Left to right, Jay Hewlett, George Papabies (a crew member from 99 and Unearthed who arrived in Ybor unexpectedly, we invited him to be in the picture), and Gene May, also a founding member of Damage Control, Inc.
Gene May, left, and our own Terence Nuzum relax outside the Fresh Mouth burger joint in El Centro Ybor during our meeting.
Terence was then kind enough to capture this group shot before our departure to TFR. L-to-r: Nolan Canova (yours truly), Gene May (standing), Jay Helwett, and George Papabies.

Later at The Rockin' Sports Bar.
And Even Later at Hooters.

Nolan here. My traveling companion for this month's review, Terence Nuzum, and I arrived in Ybor an hour ahead of tonight's TFR as we had arranged a meeting with Damage Control Inc's Gene May and Jay Hewlett across 8th Avenue at the "Fresh Mouth" hamburger palace.

Gene May and I had corresponded via email for several years before meeting face-to-face for the first time last Fall at the Channelside premiere of the Guzzo Bros' The End is Blossoming. Up to that point, I had known Gene's partner Jay Hewlett primarily as one of the tremendously talented sketch players featured on DamageControlOnline.com, their comedy company's showcase website. Gene was always very thoughtful of sending me audio and video samples of their latest nutty escapades.

Later, Jay left this area to pursue a stand-up career in Los Angeles, although he still visits Tampa frequently. Between gigs, Jay, Gene & Co produced their classic video, No Show (a "Kentucky Fried Movie"-type send-up of TV), which was an instant hit when it premiered at TFR last October (and where I met DCI fellow cast member Alan Berrebi). My favorite Hewlett character is attorney Moskowitz who boldly claims, "The harder the case, the farther behind you we'll stand," along with other memorable gems. According to Gene, a sequel to No Show is in the works.

On one trip to LA, Jay met up with writer-director Ken Collins, and the two put together Mexican Sky which I have gone on record as saying is one of the finest short films ever to play the Tampa Film Review.

I was honored to be invited by Gene and Jay to grab a bite to eat before TFR, so I could meet Jay before he had to leave to do his stand-up act elsewhere in town, then return to LA. Jay is just as amiable and funny in person as he appears in videos and I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to convey my appreciation of his mastery of both comedic and dramatic roles and my hope that he'll continue with the Damage Control crew (fortunately for us, that looks pretty solid). He presented me with an autographed copy of Mexican Sky before Terence and I had to leave to catch tonight's TFR.

Terence and I arrived at the International Bazaar early enough to be able to hang outside with a few others and have a cigarette before going in. Tonight's crowd was more modest in numbers than the past three months' worth, but these things usually go in cycles. Chris Woods was there and is joining us this week on the reviews so....this month you get THREE reviewers for the price of one!

By now you should all know the routine, but for the uninitiated:

  • Film titles, credits, and plot synopsises, usually written by TFR host Paul Guzzo or gleaned from DVD covers, are in black.
  • Nolan Canova's reviews are in Navy blue.
  • Terence Nuzum's reviews are in dark red.
  • Chris Woods' reviews are in purple.

    Hope that helps! Now....on with the show.

  • Click on images to enlarge. A new brower window will open.
    Local underground legend and make-up FX madman Marcus Koch (ROT), left, with writer-actor Joe Davison, here to promote their new splatterfest, 100 Tears.
    Left to right, our own William Moriaty and Terence Nuzum with Marcus Koch and Joe Davison at last Friday's Tampa Film Review.
    I always told actor-maniac Joel D. Wynkoop (right) he could lean on me in a pinch. Didn't think he'd take me so literally!
    100 Tears director Marcus Koch, left, in a discussion illustrating typical creative differences with Joe Davison (center) and Joel D. Wynkoop
    Joel Wynkoop, left, and our own Chris Woods listen to Paul Guzzo (off-camera) describe a typical scene set-up.
    Joel, having reached his periodic limit of self-control, goes postal on Chris Woods, while Paul Guzzo (right), amused, takes it all in.
    Your humble editor shares a quiet moment with TFR sweetheart and fellow "blogger" Lisa Ciurro (TampaFilmFan.com), one of the nicest and most talented people I have ever met.

    The Granite Orchard, written by Dan Borengasser, directed by "Shiron Butterfly", director of photography, Oscar Ray. Tonight's out-of-town entry (Muskogee, OK). A Grim Reaper couple (Greg Burns, Heather Surdukan) discuss crisis of conscience while carrying out their work. The male proposes a radical solution.
    Nolan: A familiar plot device served up in a new location (first time I'd ever seen Death in Muskogee), our main couple argue about what their work means, and the guilt felt at wrecking people's lives seemingly arbitrarily. After a particularly trying day, the male decides to enter the living world to experience humanity in a more visceral fashion. Evidently, in this Reaper tale, since you're already dead, if you commit suicide, you join the living world. He wants her to join him but she resists. I liked the angle, but the execution left something to be desired. Not with the two main actors, they were pretty good, but the D.P., Oscar Ray, needs to take some video camera lessons as his camera's "auto-gain" resulted in an amateurish pumping and breathing exposure going from light to dark scenes. The audio was good and the ending rather moving for an obviously low-budget affair. Decent.
    Terence: OK, so we have seen this a million times already even via Hollywood remakes (remember Meet Joe Black) where Death doesn't want to be Death anymore, he wants the emotions humans have. Nothing new in the script dept. Visually, it wasn't bad, but there was a lot of iris fluttering and, as Nolan would say, "pumping and breathing". A locked-off exposure would have helped this. The main actor, Greg Burns, on the other hand, was damn good. I'd love to see him in a western. Decent.
    Chris: The film had an interesting premise about Reapers partnering up. And I liked it when I first saw it the first time......in Jason Liquori’s Death Plots starring Joel Wynkoop. Death Plots was entertaining but this film wasn’t as fun. Very slow-moving when it started. Picked up a little bit later in the film. The acting quality was okay. Rough cuts throughout and decent sound. If this was their first film, I’ll say it was a good first effort, but the whole film kind of dragged on for me with minor highlights. Decent.

    A Ludicrous Tale written, edited and directed by John Matheny. Daniel, a successful stock broker, receives an opportunity to conjure up the spirit of an ancient Celtic god (over the objections of his brother/partner, Leland). His choice of Lud (rhymes with rude), the god of humor and the god on which "April Fools" day is based, proves to be an unwise choice. Stars Joel D. Wynkoop, Jack Amos, Ed Walker Jr., Glenn W. Suyker, and Dale Johnson as "LUD". Special make-up by Jack Amos.

  • I'll start with what I can say good about this: I liked the idea -- the deal-with-the-devil, however cliché, always sits well with me. And I like the music very much -- Matheny has yet to deliver a bad soundtrack, it's amazing. Now, I don't want John to think I'm on his case, but once again, the same mistakes that sabotaged so many earlier efforts come back to haunt him here. Flat lighting. Bad framing. Unimaginative camera work and direction. Jack Amos and Joel Wynkoop, usually flying off the walls in other movies, seem to be walking through this on Quaaludes or something, like they're being held back. Wynkoop manages to shine a little in a couple scenes, but that's about it. The real powerhouse is surprise hit Ed Walker, Jr. (also seen in Wynkoop's The Bite), as the shaman who brings the evil god Lud into the world. His Morgan Freeman-like quality elevates every scene he's in to a new level. Unfortunately, the "climax" brings us back down to where we started as Lud appears. Lud is FMPTA alumnus Dale Johnson in ridiculous clown make-up hollering with glee about the deal going down. The ending can be seen coming a mile away, but the epilogue raises as many questions as it answers (the predictions to next year's stock market numbers are shredded by Wynkoop's character!). If I had to pick out the most frustrating thing about how this was shot I'd say it's the bad framing. WAAAY too much headroom in many scenes (this actually exposed the boom mic shadow for an extended period). Many missed opportunities for dramatic camera angles. John was more on top of his game with Accidental Memories, and more recently, Blood Lust. Not Recommended.
  • Possibly Matheny's worst hour. Not that it's terrible, but he's done better. The uninspired direction (think long shots and closeups and that's all), the flat lighting (where was the mood lighting when the god Lud appeared? It was a frickin' seance after all!!!), and the most unforgivable mistep of all, a clearly and extended shot of the boom mic shadow. This isn't the Matheny we are used to. Was he sleeping during all this? Why was that allowed to pass in editing? Zoom in on the shot in post, at least so you can eliminate the boom mic even if it will make your scene a little grainy. It's better than looking rank amateur. Somehow he was on autopilot, I guess, because he didn't even get that good of a performance out of Wynkoop who usually saves anything he's in. This time the savior was Ed Walker, Jr. Watching him work is amazing. Everything from just pouring the powder into the cauldron (he was the witchdoctor of sorts) was done absolutely on a level of professionalism. He needs to be in more. Poor.
  • This film by John Matheny had its moments and had an interesting idea but it fell short. But I have to say the high point of the whole film that made it watchable was the excellent acting. Joel Wynkoop, Jack Amos, and Ed Walker, Jr. did a wonderful job and kept the film going. I love the part after Jack wants to pay a Shaman (Ed Walker) to select a god, and his brother (Joel Wynkoop) yells at him and his friend “what are you, on crack!?” That was great. The beginning is very slow but picks up once Jack and Ed are talking about which God to pick to grant his wish. The film was shot and edited very well, same goes for the sound. There were a few camera angles that seem to be a little off. There was also a part where you can see the shadow of the boom mic. I know that this wasn’t an FMPTA film but it had some members in it. Nothing against the group but just wondering if some of the crew was from the forgettable Survivor’s Club. But still, Ludicrous Tale is worth a look for the good acting from the players. Decent.

    100 Tears trailer. Directed by Marcus Koch. Gorefest galore as a killer clown goes on a murderous rampage.

  • I'm so proud of Marcus Koch I can't stand it. Years ago, as a teenager, he created an underground sensation with the zombie-based film Rot (I finally got a copy--yay!), where his prodigious gore make-up talents were exhibited in full glory. This quiet and gentle man is a sick little monkey who's labored in the dark for far too long. The buckets of blood and gore flying in your face in the 100 Tears trailer serves as a reminder that this best-kept Tampa secret is about to explode. Screenwriter Joe Davison plays a detective (he's great at that sort of thing, no disppointment here either) trying to find the mutilating killer who's terrorizing the community. I didn't get to keep the disc (goddammit, Davison), so I'm relying on memory alone here and can't comment on too much more. Should be awesome.
  • OK, so I know everyone is crazy about this, but it didn't grab me by the balls like I thought it was gonna do. Of course, I love the idea of killer clown even if it has been done to death, but the over-the-top gore and fashionably-placed blood on the victims isn't my bag. Neither is the typical green/blue filter that seems to be added on to every single new horror movie on the block. The lines used in the trailer are nothing original either, both, "he's a killer, he's killing people" and "and nobody knows anything".....dramatic pause...."I don't get it," have been used in some form in the same context more times than Dracula has been remade. But on the other hand, Joe Davison looks like he does an amazing job, the makeup looks cool, too, (except when they rely too much on the flat table shots where they hack off fake legs, etc.), and it'll be awesome to see Marcus Koch's followup to his legendary Rot. Besides all my negative remarks, it looks like the most professional film on a technical level I have seen locally. And I'm sure with the right push it will get DVD distribution on the level of Andre the Butcher, if not higher.
  • A sneak preview to this awesome-looking horror film from Marcus Koch and Joe Davison. Watching it makes me want to see it now. Looked great when I saw it the first time online, looked even better when I saw it on the big screen. The story looks cool and the effects are amazing. And it’s good ol’ gory make-up effects and not the CGI stuff you see in today’s big budget horror films. Can’t wait until it comes out. Highly recommended.

    Warhammer by Chris Woods. Warhammer is an episode of the 1990's horror anthology series Creeping Death made for the University of Tampa access channel. The episode aired back in 1997 and is loosely based on Games Workshop's war strategy game Warhammer 40,000. In the story, a man (Steve Tanzy) gets caught up in the game, Warhammer. He ends up buying tons of miniatures and accessories and eventually gets obsessed with it to the point where he starts ignoring his girlfriend (Elizabeth "Eli" Leaberry). The one thing he has a problem with is winning. He can't win one single game. That's when the miniatures come to life and try to help him win, but they want his soul in return. Features a soundtrack from Black Sabbath, Pantera, Magadeth, and other heavy metal favorites.

  • One has to temper any review of movies produced during Chris's Woods' UT days with the fact that that was a loooong time ago and Chris Woods has come a long way since then. I reviewed this episode for PCR previously as part of my "10 Years of Creeping Death" salute to Chris Woods. I said at the time it was my least favorite of the sampling he made for me, in part, because I couldn't identify with gamers who develop obsessions, an idea I was bored with even then. However.....I can't knock his pure enthusiasm, his obvious love for the material, his grasp of technical things like stop-motion animation (pretty well done, actually) and his own turn as the host, The Red Freak. For Woods fans, it's recommended as fan-club material, but at 30 minutes, it's a little long to inspire many repeated viewings. Good.
  • The best thing about watching this early film of Chris Woods is seeing how much he learned since and how much he was enjoying the hell out of making this, haha. It has that charm that all of us filmmakers remember when we made some of our first films. That reckless abandon. Not to mention a nostalgia that kicked in on me when I saw that old '90s effect of strobing that was the only effect the S-VHS had, haha. Don't worry Chris, I used to use it, too. I'm not gonna lie, though, a lot of it ran too long, especially the battle sequences, and the actors were pretty below average. But, like I said, over all, it was a good time. Good.
  • Chris Woods had to recuse himself from jury as this is his film.

    Pawn'd, created and written by Cliff Gephart, directed by Sean Michael Davis. (A TV pilot in development for Comedy Central.) Joe Medici lives in a high-class neighborhood but owns a pawnshop in the ghetto of a Florida city. The employees as well as the customers bring a comical and zany twist of amusement to Joe's everyday life. Follow Big Joe through prostitutes, crack whores, psycho cops, impatient morticians and beautiful women as this satirical comedy will keep you laughing from the beginning to the end. Stars Brett Rice as the pawnshop owner Joe Medici, Jeremy King as the idiot clerk Jimmy, Walter Raine as old "Dutch", Dalton Dye as the punk kid Matt, Kibwe Dorsey as Officer Yates, Robert Leir as Mortician Harold, Chris England as Prosthetic Pete.

  • Brett Rice, the boss who anchored Autographs for French Fries, shines here as Joe Medici, a supremely confident and happy pawn-shop owner who's surrounded by a zany cast of characters and customers. From the crack whore who lies about being one, to the intense cop who insists there's something illegal happening, to the girl who sells her piercing jewelry, to the very weird hearse-driver who sells cadaver's teeth, every one is special. My two favorites: Joe's friend "Dutch", who pretty much sits in a corner quietly until deadbeat employee Jimmy mentions his jailbird girlfriend. "She's a whore!!" Dutch exclaims at her every mention. And "Prosthetic Pete" -- this must be seen to be believed. He wants to pawn his prosthetic leg. He takes it off and reveals his bum leg is not only dwarfed, but pointed backwards! (The accompanying freeze-frame caption: "WTF???" My biggest laugh of the night, right there.) This is non-stop, fast-paced comedy, well-written, well-acted, and well-directed. It is reputedly in development for Comedy Central and I think it has an excellent chance. Very Highly Recommended and the Film of the Night.
  • While not entirely my thing and while some of the jokes need to be stronger, it absolutely has the potential to be on Comedy Central. This is what I assume the filmmakers are striving for, as it appears to be a pilot. The main actor who plays Joe Medici, Brett Rice, is star quality and the supporting players are, too. I also loved the freeze-frames with captions stenciled in on them. The director Sean Micheal Davis seems like he had no false or missed potentials here. He nailed it dead on. Film of the Night.
  • This hilarious film by Sean Michael Davis was the film of the night. They did a great job putting together this little comedy. It had very funny characters through out the movie. The lead actor, Brett Rice who was the owner of the pawnshop was the best out of the bunch. The quality of the whole film was very sharp and top notch. It had great outrageous moments. One that comes to mind is the guy that pawns his prosthetic leg and then shows that the guy is not totally legless but with a shrunken leg of sorts that pretty much is just his foot. Weird looking! Not sure if this was real or an effect, but if it was an effect of sorts they did a good job pulling it off. Other moments was the woman pawning all her jewelry that was pierced in very private places and the woman on crack was funny too. We were told at the event, that Comedy Central is looking at it and possibly make it into a series. I can definitely see it on Comedy Central or even HBO or Showtime. This movie is a must see. Highly recommended and Film of the Night.

    Post your thoughts on this topic

    And Later at the Rockin' Sports Bar...
    ...on 15th Street in Ybor where we usually go as an "after-party" to TFR, to eat, drink and be merry.
    Click on images to enlarge. A new brower window will open.
    At the Rockin' Sports Bar, Joe Davison (center) animatedly makes a point to producer/distributor Robert Sterrett (back to camera), while Marcus Koch (left) looks on.Pete Guzzo, left, makes his own "points" when he sees me raise my camera. What a guy! At right, brother Paul Guzzo takes a phone call.I left my seat across from Pete Guzzo (where the small stack of TFR DVDS is) to take this group shot. I think Pete's still trying to be funny with his middle finger.

    And Even Later at Hooters...
    ...on Gandy Blvd in South Tampa where we usually go on Sundays as an "after-party" to a long work week to eat, drink and be merry.
    Click on images to enlarge. A new brower window will open.
    Settled in at Hooters, Pinellas film legend Chris Woods, left, talks with PCR/La Floridiana legend William Moriaty.As I swing the camera around to the other side of our table, Joel D. Wynkoop, left, ponders the deep meaning of Chris's and Will's conversation as Cathy Wynkoop (center) and Chris Woods look on amused.Joel was kind enough to leave his seat and take this shot so I could get into it. At the table, left to right, the cutie patootie taking Chris's order, Chris Woods, Cathy Wynkoop (back to camera), William Moriaty, Paul Guzzo, and yours truly.
    Camera still in Joel's hand as he returns, and gets this great shot of TFR organizer Paul Guzzo, with yours truly as we partake in typically fun conversation.Paul Guzzo, left, reacts to Joel's (hand on right) storytelling, while Nolan (yours truly) and "Mad Matt" Cerrato who'd just arrived, look on.Over-Joel's-shoulder angle of the scene. Anyone and everyone who wants to join us at Hooters on Gandy Sunday evenings (about 7:00 pm) is welcome and encouraged to do so.

    "The Tampa Film Review for April" is ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova, Terence Nuzum, and Chris Woods.

    Additional thanks to Terence Nuzum, Chris Woods, and Joel D. Wynkoop for help with photography.

    All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.

    Back to Top  |  Back to Home