“Shock Value” dir. Dino Everett (2014)

Jason Zinoman’s 2011 book “Shock Value” was a fascinating look at the creation of several transgressive and classic horror films of the 1970s that not only redefined the genre, but Hollywood as a whole (“Night of the Living Dead,” “Last House on the Left,” “The Exorcist,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Halloween,” “Alien” to name a few). One of the best parts of Zinoman’s book was in exploring the roots of these films and filmmakers, specifically film students at the University of Southern California (USC) during the early 1970s. Many of these student films were horror-themed and many of these films either influenced these great films or whose filmmakers went on to play an integral part in Hollywood later.

USC Cinema Archivist Dino Everett has assembled many of these classic (but not seen for years) short films for his new feature-length anthology called “Shock Value.” Among the films featured are: two versions of Dan O’Bannon’s “Blood Bath” short and “Good Morning Dad,” John Carpenter’s “Captain Voyeur,” Charles Adair’s “The Demon,” and Terrence Winkless’s “Judson’s Release.”  While I’m excited to see all of these, I am most eager to see “Judson’s Release,” which was written by Alec Lorimore. I saw “Judson’s” many years ago on HBO and it scared me to death. The plot later formed the basis for the popular film “When a Stranger Calls” and while “Stranger” had its effective moments, “Judson’s” was much more terrifying.

The film just premiered at USC last week and should be hitting theaters and film festivals in the coming months. Dave says check it out!

For more information about “Shock Value,” there’s a great overview at the link below:

http://uschefnerarchive.com/project/shock-value-the-movie/

Advertisements

“Auto Focus” (2002) dir. Paul Schrader

Video

One of the funniest and creepiest movies of the last decade is Paul Schrader’s corrosive biopic of the late “Hogan’s Heroes” star Bob Crane.  Crane was what we would now describe as a “sex addict,” whose obsession and weird friendship with a man who shared that lifestyle with him (as the film alleges) ultimately killed Crane.   What’s interesting about “Auto Focus” is how director Schrader so accurately depicts a man with absolutely zero self-awareness.  As Schrader put it in a terrific interview with Uju Asika on Salon.com when the movie was released: “… when I’ve dealt with characters like this before, these existential loners, they tend to be introspective. They don’t get it, but they’re trying to figure out how to get it. The interesting thing to me about Crane was that he was not only clueless, he was clueless about being clueless. And I think his greatest flaw wasn’t sex, it was selfishness. Hence the title. I don’t think he understood or appreciated how his actions affected other people. It was just sort of blithe egoism. So the challenge then was to try to make a film about a superficial character that wasn’t a superficial film.”    He also described Crane and his partner-in-crime John Carpenter:  “You take these kind of Rat Pack guys who have to trade in their narrow ties for beads and bell bottoms in order to score chicks. But of course they remain the same sexist jerks they always were. It’s a fascinating period in American male sexual identity.”  In my opinion, Schrader’s best film as a director, slightly edging out 1978’s “Blue Collar” and 1979’s “Hardcore.”