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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Joseph W. Sarno: R.I.P.

I was extremely saddened to hear yesterday about the passing of Joseph W. Sarno, one of American Independent film's most distinctive and visionary filmmakers. Sarno's long and varied career as a writer and director produced some of the most memorable films of the sixties and seventies and more than a few of my personal favorites. Oddly enough, I have been thinking about Sarno (seen to the right with one of his most remarkable discoveries, Marie Forsa) quite abit lately due to the DVD re-release of two of his most extraordinary films, Abigail Lesley is Back in Town and Laura's Toys. In fact, just recently, I graced Moon in the Gutter with a template I made from Abigail Lesley is Back in Town, a haunting film featuring Sarno favorite Jamie Gillis who sadly also recently passed away.
Sarno had a long and, by all accounts, good life but he never got the respect he deserved from many critics and film fans who routinely passed over his work as just sexploitation. Sarno was a fiercely intelligent filmmaker who approached eroticism in an adult manner quite unlike any other filmmaker, and his best films seem more and more resonate with each passing year. I am planning on doing something special for Joe Sarno here at Moon in the Gutter in the upcoming weeks but, for now, I just wanted to wish my best to his surviving friends, colleagues and family. For more on his career and passing, please read this report from Tim Lucas' Video Watchblog.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Behind the Scenes With My Favorite Actors: Warren Beatty in Bonnie And Clyde (1967)

"You know what you done there? You told my story, you told my whole story right there, right there. One time, I told you I was gonna make you somebody. That's what you done for me. You made me somebody they're gonna remember."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Candice Rialson in The Girl in the Late, Late Show (1974)

This past week I came one-step closer to completing my Candice Rialson collection when I acquired the quite rare television film The Girl in the Late-Late Show. This 1974 Gary Nelson directed film starring Don Murray, and featuring guest appearances by everyone from Yvonne De Carlo to Cameron Mitchell, was one of Candice's earliest appearances and it appeared around the same time that Pets was in the theaters. Candice appears only briefly in the telefilm, and has just a few lines of dialogue, but I wanted to present some stills I captured from it for other fans. For more my past looks at the career of unforgettable Candice Rialson, please visit here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Notes on my Favorite Films Year By Year (1932) White Zombie

With its place firmly rooted in film history as one of the very first Zombie movies, 1932's White Zombie has cast a much bigger shadow than anyone would have guessed in 1932 when it failed to captivate either audiences or critics. Theatrically released by United Artists and independently financed by the director Victor Halperin's own production company, White Zombie is an flawed work marred by some poor supporting performances and, at times, a lazy script, but it survives due to its sheer audacity and verve and it remains one of the most compulsively watchable horror films of the period.

Starring the incomparable Bela Lugosi as well fascinating Madge Bellamy, White Zombie is a work steeped in strangeness and the behind the scenes stories of lost and found prints, censored versions and its inability to just fade away only adds to its allure. Creepy, atmospheric, and strangely erotic White Zombie is, despite its faults, a rather perfect opening film in what has become one of the most popular and longest running sub-genres in all of cinema.

I first saw White Zombie in my early twenties after a buddy at a record store I haunted talked my ear off about the strange power it had over him. Borrowing his copy to watch for the first time, I must admit that I had trouble seeing much beside its flaws during that first viewing. Halperin's spooky production seemed quite a weak counterpart to the Universal horror films I had seen from the period but, like my friend had warned, certain moments and images from the film kept nagging at me...images that caused me to revisit it again and again while my appreciation for Halperin's accomplishment grew more and more.

Despite its faults and missteps, White Zombie has become over the years one of my favorite films from the early thirties and I get a real kick out of seeing traces of it in the works of everyone from Lucio Fulci to Rob Zombie, who helped bring the film back to the public eye when he named his immensely popular Metal band after it.

Sadly White Zombie fell into the rather doomed public domain market long ago and, while it remains fairly easy to see, finding a good print of it can be tricky. This version from Roan DVD is probably the best currently available and it thankfully comes with some extras like a commentary and some vintage interviews with the forever iconic Bela.

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BLOG CREATED, EDITED and WRITTEN BY JEREMY RICHEY: Began in DEC 2006. The written content of all posts (excepting quotes from reviews, books, other publications) COPYRIGHT JEREMY RICHEY.