Another Hole in the Head 2015: 11 Days of Indie Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy in San Francisco!


Tomorrow the 12th Another Hole in the Head film festival kicks off in San Francisco and for the next 11 days (Nov. 6-16) you can catch a variety of independent horror, science fiction and fantasy films being shown at New People Cinema located in Japantown: one of the city’s most scenic and culturally diverse spots. This year’s festival will include 26 feature films and 90 shorts that showcase the “raw underbelly” of independent cinema.

In the words of festival programmer Michael Guillen, Another Hole in the Head is “characterized by a scrappy, DIY aesthetic that eschews big studio content and recent trends towards elevated genre. Holehead’s programming remains curatorially committed to the genre’s graphic roots in shockploitation, visceral thrills and gleeful mayhem.” As a genre film fan with a particular interest in horror I was intrigued by Guillen’s joyful and graphic description so I decided to ask him a few questions about the festival and his programming selections this year.


This week on TCM Underground: Smithereens (1982) and Border Radio (1987)


This week on TCM Underground, a double dose of essential 80s cinema — Rambo be damned — and street level American independent filmmaking at its most denatured and daring. [...MORE]

I Am Also A Fugitive From A Chain Gang: Hell’s Highway (1932)


In 1932 the treatment of prisoners on chain gangs became an issue of national import. In January Robert Elliott Burns published I Am a Fugitive From a Georgia Chain Gang!, which recounts two escapes, eight years apart, from brutal prison camps. Warner Brothers would rush to adapt it into I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang for a November release. In June Arthur Maillefert died inside a “sweat box” at the Sunbeam Prison Camp in Florida, a chain wrapped around his neck and wooden stocks nailed around his feet. The camp’s captain was charged with first degree murder and found guilty of manslaughter, sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. Calls for reform reverberated across the country, and the film studios were eager to capitalize on the nation’s interest. Universal was developing Laughter in Hell (which I wrote about here), adapted from a Jim Tully novel, while RKO was fast-tracking Hell’s Highway, which combines Burns and Maillefert’s stories into a narrative they hoped not to get sued over. Prizing speed above all else, RKO got Hell’s Highway into theaters first on September 23rd, beating Fugitive to screens by almost two months (Laughter in Hell didn’t arrive until January of 1933). Brought to the screen by the famously combative director Rowland Brown, Hell’s Highway is cynical and punchy, but compromised by studio meddling.  The Warner Archive has made Hell’s Highway available on DVD as part of “Forbidden Hollywood Volume 9″, the latest in their series of pre-code DVD sets (it also includes Big City Blues, The Cabin in the Cotton, When Ladies Meet, and I Sell Anything).


Happy Birthday, Burt Lancaster

burtatlanticcity1No Golden Age movie star projected vitality, vigor, and a lust for life more heartily than Burt Lancaster, born on this date in 1913. With his dazzling smile and handsome Irish looks, he was destined to be a movie star. The mere mention of his name conjures up his most iconic roles, such as the title characters in Elmer Gantry or The Birdman of Alcatraz. Movie lovers know that he began his career in film noir, playing the Swede in The Killers and Joe Collins in Brute Force. Reviewers took notice of the devilishly good-looking actor, referring to him as a “brawny Apollo.” Though he tried to play against this image by starring as the acid-tongued gossip columnist in Sweet Smell of Success or as a working-class brute in The Rose Tattoo, it was an image difficult for fans to forget. Lancaster can be seen this month on TCM in The Professionals (November 29, 8:00pm) and in Three Girls and a Sailor, in which he appears in a cameo as himself (November 19, 6:15pm).

In the 1980s and 1990s, his career took an interesting turn. He appeared in the films of young directors who cast the aging actor because of his status as a fabled movie star. In Phil Alden Robinson’s Field of Dreams, Lancaster costarred as Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, a baseball player who played only one game during his pro career before retiring to become a doctor. As an icon of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Lancaster was much like his character, who represented the glory days of baseball. In Daniel Petrie’s Rocket Gibraltar, Lancaster starred as the dying patriarch of a dysfunctional family who demands a Viking funeral. Who would be more deserving of a mythic funeral than a movie star from Hollywood’s most mythic era?


La Strada

La Strada - Poster

(My film-critic friend Michael Casey is both a fan of Fellini and wine, so it seemed appropriate to let him fill in for me today and this post was written by him.) Entry into the world of wine can be a daunting task. With roughly 9,000 grape varietals growing across the globe — as well as regional styles for each varietal — the possible choices of where to begin can boggle the mind. Well, as a wise man once told me, “The French make wine for saving, the Italians make wine for drinking.” And since the idea behind TCM’s Wine Club is to “uncork the fun of movies and wine,” what better place to start than in the country of Italy? Here the wine is as delicious as it is accessible, and the 2013 Pillastro Primitivo is perfect vino to quaff while settling in for Federico Fellini’s seminal La Strada (November 8). [...MORE]

October 31, 2015
David Kalat
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Better Living Through Office Supplies (I Bury the Living)

In honor of the launch of the TCM Wine Club, I want to spend this Hallowe’en enjoying a scrappy, handmade treat.  It’s a work of real craft, made outside the usual confines of big business by artisans who simply enjoy doing what they do.  By this point in the paragraph I’m not sure anymore if I’m talking about a bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel from J. Rickards (their motto: “Darn Fine Barn Wine”) or the gnarly, impressively razor-hewn cult classic I Bury the Living.  Both “taste outside their price range” and surprise you by exceeding the apparent limits of their origins.  J. Rickards is a highlight of the Sonoma County wine country, besting deep pocketed competitors on all fronts.  I Bury the Living is a low budget drive-in programmer starring a folk singer (who doesn’t sing) and a guy from a TV Western (with a face made for radio) that will haunt anyone who comes across it.



So Who’s [Enter Genre Name Here] For You?

I’ve spent much of my time this month writing about actors and, specifically, due to the month, horror actors.  Now, as we wind the month down on this Halloween’een, I must ask, “Who is horror for you?”  It’s a question I’ve asked myself a few times this month and as a bonus, I’ll even throw in some other genres as well.  Sure, it’s October but why let horror have all the fun?  Besides, I got some wine recommending to do (that’s foreshadowing) and the broader range I have, the easier it’s going to be.  Let’s get started.

Genre Actors 01


Wine & Wolves: The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)


I can’t let Halloween pass without talking about a Hammer film. They go hand-to-hand in my home and one of my favorites is Terence Fisher’s The Curse of the Werewolf (1961). The film features some sumptuous color photography, incredibly sophisticated make-up effects for its time and a powerful central performance from Oliver Reed. It also happens to contain many references to wine.

The Curse of the Werewolf begins with a hungry beggar (Richard Wordsworth) who arrives in a small 18th Century Spanish town while church bells ring out in celebration of a wedding. He immediately visits a local bar where the townspeople have gathered and are drinking wine in abundance from crude cups. When the beggar asks them to share their wine and food, he’s refused and told to visit the wedding party taking place at the home of a powerful nobleman appropriately named Marques Siniestro (Anthony Dawson). The local town’s people know just how sinister the nobleman truly is and suspect the beggar will suffer his wrath but they selfishly send him there anyway. Their heartlessness and lack of compassion for the poor man will eventually have a devastating effect on the whole community. Although this is a crimson colored film in more ways than one, The Curse of the Werewolf smartly stresses that the true horrors of the world are man-made even when they have supernatural connotations.


This Halloweek on TCM Underground: Horror! Madness! Blood! And David Lynch!


Halloween gets started a little early this week on TCM, with the spookshow getting under way at 5am PST/8am EST on Friday (Hell Night) morning and the whole haunted hayride running up until just before the witching hour on Halloween night… at which point it really gets weird. Oh, what a cavalcade of chills! What a festival of frights! Put the coffee on, gather up the family, bar the windows and doors, and glut your soul on Halloween, TCM-style. [...MORE]

Bayou Breakout: Cry of the Hunted (1953)


After a career of making B-pictures for Columbia and Poverty Row, Joseph H. Lewis signed a contract with MGM in 1950. His calling card was Gun Crazy (1950), a daring crime film whose location photography and long-take heist sequence created a buzz in Hollywood, if not at the box office. MGM executive Dore Schary screened the film at his home, and brought Lewis into the fold. They sold him on the idea of making a documentary portrait of Cuban immigrants, “no actors, done with all portable equipment”, but this bold experiment never materialized. The idea was recycled into the Hedy Lamarr vehicle  A Lady Without Passport (1950), which was Lewis’ directorial debut for MGM. Their artsy hire became just another contract director. But Lewis was used to working miracles off of threadbare scripts – he earned the nickname “Wagon Wheel Joe” on B Westerns by continually bisecting his compositions with wheel spokes. One of the most delirious examples from this period is Cry of the Hunted (1953), about the manhunt of an escaped prisoner through the Louisiana bayou, that Warner Archive has just issued on DVD. Lewis takes every opportunity to ratchet up the intensity: he pushes into extreme close-ups to emphasize flop sweat, lenses a fog-choked hallucination brought on by swallowing swamp water, and captures intense on-location footraces up the Angels Flight funicular in Los Angeles and long take brawls through the Louisiana Bayou. The characters don’t have time to take breaths, and in its svelte 80 minutes, neither does the viewer.

[...MORE] is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
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