Tag Archives: Gary Busey

David Lynch’s Lost Highway

High beams pierce a nocturnal interstate as David Bowie’s ‘I’m Deranged’ eerily cuts through a still night and we realize that David Lynch’s Lost Highway isn’t going to be your average road trip, let alone overall viewing experience. This is a fuzzy, feverish portrait of a fractured mind attempting to make sense of extremely distressing circumstances that are both alienating and possibly self inflicted. Lynch is always keen on probing the murky cerebral waters which border on potentially paranormal occurrences, and the often frustrating line, or lack thereof, which is drawn in, around and between these two aspects. Psychological terror, ambiguous scenes that leave you scratching your head once you’ve caught your breath, identity crisis, elliptical narratives that leave us haunted and wanting more are all tools in his bag, ones he’s employed countless times throughout his monolithic career. Usually he implements that in an esoteric, earthy way, but there’s something cold, clinical and unsettlingly voyeuristic about this that somewhat separates it from a lot of other stuff he’s done. The term ‘Lynchian’ in itself has become its own genre, there’s no debating that anymore. It’s usually within this self made realm that he explores, but it’s almost like with this one he went in with a mindset to play around with a sordid, almost De Palma-esque style of genre, and then inject it with his trademark eerie weirdness, in this case to great effect.

Bill Pullman stars as jazz trumpet player Fred, spending his nights belting out unnerving solos in smoky clubs. Pullman is an all American prototype, seen in a lot of generic, regular Joe roles. Observing him venture into sketchy material is jarring and super effective (see his career best work in David’s daughter Jen Lynch’s Surveillance for an even better example of this). He and his gorgeous wife Alice (Patricia Arquette) wake up one ominous morning to discover a packaged video tape on their doorstep, the contents of which show someone breaking into their house and filming them while they sleep. They feel both horrified and violated, and call the police who prove to be just south of useful. From there things get terrifically weird. Fred attends a party where he meets the Mystery Man (Robert Blake) who plays a mean spirited magic trick on him that will have your skin crawling out the door. This was one of Blake’s last two roles before the unfortunate incident that cut his career painfully short, but he’s perfect for Lynch’s stable and eats up the frames he inhabits, a pasty faced ghoul with beady black jewel eyes and a piercing laugh that will stain your dreams. Before he knows it, Fred wakes up and is accused for his own wife’s murder, whisked away to a dank death row cell, plummeting the film into a new segment, Lynch’s way of letting us know this isn’t going to be an easy watch.

Fred wakes up sometime later… And isn’t Fred anymore. He’s a young dude with amnesia who’s been missing for a while, played by the edgy Balthazar Getty. It’s a stark narrative left turn, a stinging reminder that from there on in, we’re in for some nasty antics with no light at the end of the tunnel. Getty is released from prison, since he’s not Pullman who they arrested to begin with. From there he gets entangled in one hot mess involving a volatile gangster porno king (Robert Loggia), his seductive wife (also Patricia Arquette) and the ever present Mystery Man who lurks over both planes of the film’s narrative like a malicious puppeteer. I’m trying to be deliberately vague about the plot (lord knows Lynch did as well), both to not spoil any surprises for you, and partly because after many viewings, I’m still not sure exactly what it means for myself. It’s a great big clusterfuck of extremely disturbing sequences, surreal passages of auditory and visual madness and a frothing undercurrent of atmosphere that constantly pulls on your sleeve to remind you that something is terribly wrong, but never gives you the solace of telling you what that something is. Traumatic viewing to say the least.

Lynch assembles an extraterrestrial supporting cast including Michael Massee, Jack Nance, Natasha Gregson Warner, Marilyn Manson, Henry Rollins, Mink Stole, Jack Kehler, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Pryor and the one and only Gary Busey (when Gary is one of the calmest, sanest people in your film you know you’ve driven off the cliff). Some highlights for me are anything to do with Blake’s paralyzing spectre of a character who is one of the best Lynch creations ever, Loggia intimidating an obnoxious driver is priceless and the closest the film gets to comedy, and the final twenty minutes where the lines of reality, fantasy and the jagged planes of perception within the characters minds collide, providing us with a creepy non-resolution, part of what makes the entire show so memorable and affecting. A classic that begs countless revisits before it can fully cast all aspects of its spell on you, and one of Lynch’s unsung best.

-Nate Hill

Accepting the Energy: An Interview with Douglas Burke by Kent Hill

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A generous portion of modern day movies are what Macbeth was talking about when he uttered the words, “…full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.”  But SURFER from Doug Burke is no tale told by an idiot. No sir. For this writer, director, actor, poet, musician is also a physics professor – so about as far from an idiot as you can get.

When I was gifted the opportunity to watch the film and chat with Doug I thought I’d look into it a little first. Through my trawling I came to an article that spoke of Surfer as the next ‘The Room’. And, with lines like, “God made me out of squid and lightning” – let’s just say I was intrigued.

What I came away with after watching Surfer is two things. Firstly, it is not the next ‘The Room’ – that along with its creator, Tommy Wiseau, are a law unto themselves. Secondly, Surfer is more than a piece of self-expression, more than what an audience might label as absurd. What I saw was Hamlet, trapped in the microcosm of a relationship between father and son. A father passing on his legacy, ideology, faith – all to aid in the strengthening, fortifying if you will, of his son’s character – specifically to aid him, in this case to get back into the ocean which he loves, but also for the journey – the long life he is yet to experience and endure.

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This was one of those instances for me where the character and the motivation, indeed the creator of the picture, was just as fascinating as the images on screen. It was a trip to watch the movie (I hope you will seek it out) as it is to present this interview with one of this world’s true originals in the form of Douglas Burke.

You might say, “Hamlet don’t surf!”

Well, this one does . . .

B Movie Glory: Rough Draft

A serial killer whose nasty crimes attract the attention of a journalist, who reaches out and wants to document, understand and write about the sicko. Sounds like prime material for a streamlined big budget exercise, right? Not so much. Rough Draft is a slack jawed, barebones B Flick blessed with the undeserved talents of Arnold ‘Imhotep’ Vosloo, who plays a freaky knife murderer with a self proclaimed love for his victims. He’s terrific, but the film, and his two usually excellent character actor costars Gary Busey and Michael Madsen, just straight up flatline. Busey is a washed up journalist who accidentally witnesses switchblade wielding psycho Vosloo murder a girl, one in a series of targeted brunettes who have been turning up dead across the city. Instead of putting old Gary under the knife, he reaches out to him and wants his story told via the written word, a nervous proposition at best. Madsen is the cool cucumber detective who’s on the case, and so it goes. It’s strictly by the numbers DTV sludge though. Busey spends one scene in drag, which is not an image anyone could forget too soon. Madsen wears a ludicrous English golf hat thing and mumbles listlessly. Only Vosloo rises above the swamp, and it’s a shame the character didn’t get a better script/film to play in, because the guy plays him with expert menace as a lucid, intelligent, grinning monster who wields his switchblade as elegantly as his charisma. This one is buried somewhere deep in the jungles of 1997 straight to VHS purgatory, and may as well stay there to be honest. Also titled Diary Of A Serial Killer on some DVDs, but Rough Draft has more zest and ambiguity.

-Nate Hill

B Movie Glory: Ernest Dickerson’s Surviving The Game


There’s a whole bushel of ‘Most Dangerous Game’ films out there, tweaked versions of the same motif in which human beings are hunted for sport, and often large sums of money as well. Surviving The Game is probably the most bombastic and excessive one (John Woo’s Hard Target is the way to go if you want something slicker), but it’s a hoot of a flick, a dingy, mean spirited exploitation piece with an eccentric cast and thrills right up to the last scene. Ice T stars here under a giant heap of dreadlocks, playing a grumpy homeless man who is approached by an alleged social worker (Charles S. Dutton, intense) and offered help in the form of some vague rehab program way out in the woods. Soon he’s out in the woods at the remote retreat run by a sinister ex military Rutger Hauer, joined by other oddballs from all walks of life including F. Murray Abraham and a hopelessly coked out Gary Busey, who chews enough scenery that those giant teeth of his actually go to good use. This is no sabbatical though, as Ice soon finds out, and before he knows it he’s scrambling through the wilderness for his life as Hauer & Co. pursue him with a giddy amount of heavy artillery. The film isn’t interested in the morality or ethics of it’s concept, it’s here for a down n’ dirty romp and not much else, as long as you’re in popcorn mode you’ll get a kick out of it. Hauer is intense as ever, with some inspired costume choices and that ever present half smirk that signals danger and violence aren’t far off the horizon. Busey is certifiably, completely off his head, spouting monologues that weren’t even in the script (Hauer’s autobiography provides hilarious behind the scenes insight) and staring down everything that moves in true loosey Busey fashion. Throw in a manic John C. McGinley as well and you’ve got just about as much crazy as the film can handle. The combat hunting scenes really are impressive and thrilling, well staged stunts against a wilderness backdrop and raucous gunplay all round. An oddball of a flick, in the best way. 

-Nate Hill

Beneath a sky so full of Sharks: An Interview with Anthony C. Ferrante by Kent Hill

 

It would be easy for me to simply sit here and wax lyrical about my love of SHARKNADO okay – real easy. But to do that does a disservice to one of the major components of its success, and that comes in the form of the director at the helm of the franchise; (now moving into its 5th installment) the dynamic Mr. Anthony C. Ferrante.

 

It was 2014. I was at work on the sequel volume to an anthology whose content was the collected author’s visions of their ultimate B movie. Anthony was prepping SHARKNADO 3 at the time for release. Still, I managed to get a hold of him to write the foreword for that book, and subsequently, the release of the book and SHARKNADO 3 fell in pretty close succession.

 

The desire to make movies and equally the passion for them, strikes one out of the blue. Anthony was not yet in his teens when that voice inside us all called out to him, and from that point forward, he knew making movies was exactly what he was going to do.

Now like I said earlier, to simply classify him as the SHARKNADO GUY, is to be completely unjust. Anthony is a renaissance man of the highest order. This writer, director, producer, sometimes actor, make-up effects artist, songwriter, comic book author – the list is longer than the list of cameos in the SHARKNADO franchise thus far.

But as you will hear, some of the best training Anthony received during his journey, was while writing for the likes Fangoria and Cinescape Magazine. For it was during this time that he was tasked to cover films being made in the local area. So he found himself hanging out on the sets of movies and getting to witness first-hand, all the stuff they don’t teach you in film school.

 

It was this and the do-with-what-you-got attitude he cultivated while making his early films in his hometown that has enabled him, or perhaps, weaponized him for the career he has enjoyed and one that continues to flourish. It is this shooting-from-hip type filmmaking that lends his work a frenetic energy. Fittingly you might say, he is the right man for the job at hand when it comes to the wild, bombastic and beloved lunacy that is the SHARKNADO franchise.

But beneath that,  I think we are witnessing a great filmmaker on the rise. A man whose talent and skill will I hope be utilized to its full potential. Anthony C. Ferrante may indeed be the antidote these tired, Hollywood tent-pole movies are sorely lacking.

But enough to this. GO, GO, GO, GO, GO, GO, GO – listen to this interview, and don’t forget to tune into the upcoming SHARKNADO!

B Movie Glory: G-Men From Hell


G-Men From Hell is.. well, pretty much exactly what the title suggests. Based on a comic book, I think, it concerns two melodramatic 1950’s FBI Agents named Dean Crept (William Forsythe) and Mike Mattress (Tate Donovan) who are gunned down by mysterious assailants, and sent off to the inferno to rot, only they aren’t finished their business earth-side, and escape using some magic dimension opening crystal. Once back in the realm of the living, they set up their own private detective agency, forced to keep up their good deed quota in order to prevent from being dragged off again. The Devil (Robert Goulet, hilarious) is furious and dispatches an agent of his own to retrieve them. Meanwhile, a relentless and fairly nutty police detective (Gary Buddy) is also hot on their trail. Busey, as usual, flips the script into the dustbin and does his own warped thing with the dialogue, making scene partners visibly try to hold in laughter and bewilderment, proving once again that any film he appears in will never get boring. Forsythe and Donovan play it like Looney Toons in noir mode, two campy gumshoe performances that are so knowingly tongue in cheek that it almost seems like a stage play. Cameos include Bobcat Goldthwait, David Huddleston, Kari Wuhrur, Charles Fleischer, Frank McCrae and Vanessa Angel. I feel like the whole thing is just a bit silly to work, even as one big riotous in-joke, but it’s a colourful diversion nonetheless, and any film with that title deserves a watch as an ode to it’s sheer commitment to blatant inanities. Please excuse the pitiful lack of high def photos in my collage, whoever was in charge of screen caps and production stills on this should be shot in the face.  

-Nate Hill

Predator 2


-Nate Hill-
Predator 2 is a gem of a film, and don’t let anyone ever try and convince you otherwise. It’s just so different and so much crazier than the first that I think people had a knee jerk ‘wtf’ reaction and panned it. It’s tough to top the sheer bombastic overdrive of the first one, which is considered a classic, but if anything the sequel switched the nitrous dial past maximum and blasts off into the stratosphere of excessive R rated chaos, an impressive feat. It also switches settings, from the sweaty jungles of South America to the equally sweaty and opulent grime of the urban jungle, namely Los Angeles of the future, bursting at the seams with so many over the top criminals and hectic, delirious violence that by the time the Predators show up they not only fit in, but seem relatively sane compared to everyone else. Seriously, every human character in this film is a coked up tornado of cartoonish energy and brashness it’s hard to keep up unless you’ve hoovered up a few rails yourself prior to sitting down and popping in the blu ray (the blu ray of this is wicked by the way, gorgeous transfer). So get this: Danny Glover, before he got too old for this shit, basically serves as a renegade SuperCop in this hellhole of a metropolis, waging all out war on loads of feral gang members and degenerates, constantly leaned on by the obligatory pain in the ass of a police commissioner (Robert Davi, god bless his republican ass) and backed up by a team of state of the art badasses, including Aliens’s Bill Paxton, who gets all the best lines and delivers them with the gusto the material deserves. He’s also backed by Ruben Blades and tough girl Maria Conchita Alonso, whose appearance and scenes with Paxton call to mind him and Jannette Goldstein side by side in Aliens, or is that just the fanboy in me having an aneurysm? Together they achieve 80’s action movie squad goals by messily wiping out as much of the criminal faction in the city as they can, including weird Rastafarian crime lord King Willie (Calvin Lockhart, spooky as all hell), until something else comes along. Something they can’t see, hear, or easily empty clips at whilst cheerfully spewing profanity. The predators have branched out, and this time there’s more than one, giving their inherent tactical nature a whole new twist. So who better to take on these extraterrestrial game wardens? Glover of course, who positively froths at the mouth. You know you’re overacting when Gary Busey has to keep up with you, and he does his loony best as some hush hush Fed who has been keeping tabs on the Preds for sometime, and has big notions of taking them down. It’s all in good fun, with jaw dropping, spectacularly brutal set pieces, violence that would not go over well these days (the 80’s didn’t give a fuck, man) and a seriously chaotic vibe humming through the whole breathless ordeal. I’d even be so bold as to say that this is the better of the two Predator films, upon getting all misty eyed and craving a rewatch after writing this. Go ahead, shame, me. It’s just too great of a flick to be as under appreciated as it is. Oh, and watch for a sly cameo from another otherworldly baddie late in the third act.