Tag Archives: Pam Grier

Just wild about Larry: An Interview with Steve Mitchell by Kent Hill

Steve Mitchell has been on quite a ride. Having begun in the world of comics, he has the distinction of inking the very first book by a guy you might have heard of . . . Frank Miller. But being in New York with all his friends heading west, Steve, after forging an impressive beginning to his career, took a phone call one night from his another friend and filmmaker Jim Wynorski. Jim wanted an opinion on an idea that, if he could make it work, they might be able to get the picture made. From that conversation a film would be born. It was the cult classic Chopping Mall.

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So like Horatio Alger before him, he went west and continued writing for both the worlds of film and television. The fateful moment would come one day while looking over the credits of the legendary maverick auteur, Larry Cohen, on IMDB.  Astounded by the length and breadth of Cohen’s career, Steve saw an opportunity to possibly make a documentary that would chronicle the life and exploits of the successful filmmaker.

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After receiving a blessing from the man (Larry) himself, Steve set about the mammoth undertaking of  not only pulling together the interviews with Cohen’s many collaborators, all of the footage of his many works , but also the financing to bring these and the countless other elements together to form KING COHEN: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen.

This truly insightful and utterly entertaining look at the, thus far continuing, career of Cohen is the passion project of a man with whom I share a kinship. Not only for the stories behind the men who make the movies, but also how the films we know and love were pieced together with money, dreams, light, shadow and the technical tools which help capture and refine the many wondrous adventures we as cinema goers have been relishing since our very first experiences.

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KING COHEN is a great film made by a really great guy, and it is my hope, as it is Steve’s hope, that you enjoy the story of Larry Cohen, but also come away from watching the film wishing to then seek out and discover the movies contained within that you may have only experienced for the first time as part of the documentary. The films of the filmmaker that inspired Steve’s film in the first place. (that’s a lot films)

Enjoy…

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It’s good to be the King: An interview with Larry Cohen by Kent Hill

There is a quote attributed to Robert Rodriguez (another independent maverick filmmaker) that states:

“If you are doing it because you love it you can succeed because you will work harder than anyone else around you, take on challenges no one else would dare take, and come up with methods no one else would discover, especially when their prime drive is fame and fortune. All that will follow later if you really love what you do. Because the work will speak for itself.”

It is the always interesting, ever-changing, always inventive, ever professional life and work of Larry Cohen that really personifies the above quotation. King Cohen has been out there in one form or another in an impressive career spanning multiple decades. He has been the director of cult classics; he has been the writer of hot scripts that have incited Hollywood bidding wars. His work has been remade, imitated, venerated.

These are the hallmarks of a man and his movies whose personal voice rings out loud and clear, high above the commercial ocean of mainstream cinema that carries, beneath its shiny surface, schools of biodegradable blockbusters that are usually forgotten about only moments after having left the cinema.

This is not true of the films of Larry Cohen. For his work is the stuff (pardon the pun) that came before, the stuff the imitators latch on to, the stuff from which remakes and re-imaginations are conceived. This is the fate of the masters. The innovators come and bring forth art through trial and error. They are followed by the masters who take the lessons learned from the innovators and make them, shape them by sheer force of will. But, then there comes the imitators who stand on the shoulders of these giants and take home the glory.

Still, when there is an artist that is in equal parts innovator and master; this causes the imitators to stand baffled.

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Rather than accepting my humble oration, I urge you to seek out Steve Mitchell’s most excellent documentary KING COHEN. Watch it, marvel, rejoice, and remember that there are great filmmakers out there. They may not be coming soon to a theatre near you, but they did once, and their work still stands, silently, waiting to be discovered.

Until you get to see KING COHEN please, feel free to bask in my little chat with the king himself, Larry Cohen, a gentleman of many parts, many stories and of course . . . many movies.

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Larry Cohen.

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Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks


Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks is a spectacular howling good time, a 50’s inspired gumball machine packed with schlock, satire and more star studded send ups than you can shake a stick at. It’s so silly and overstuffed that one just has to give in to it’s fisher price brand of mayhem and just watch the wanton hilarity unfold. Martians are indeed attacking, and they’re evil little rapscallions with giant brains, buggy eyes and lethal ray guns. Humanity’s best are left to fight them, and let’s just say that’s not saying much with this bunch of morons. Jack Nicholson does a double shift as both the hysterically poised, rhetoric spewing US President and a sleazeball casino tycoon. Annette Bening is his hippy dippy wife, while Rod Steiger huffs and puffs as a war mongering potato head of a general. Over in Vegas, prizefighter Jim Brown and his estranged wife (Pam Grier) fight against hordes with little help from obnoxious gambler Danny Devito. Pierce Brosnan is a bumbling tv expert who sucks on a pipe that he apparently forgot to fill or light, a subtle yet precious running joke. The only people with sense are trailer dwelling youngster Lukas Haas and Natalie Portman as the President’s daughter, and the method they finally find to destroy these nasties has to be seen to be believed. The cast seems padded simply so we can watch famous people getting dispatched by slimy aliens, and also contains Tom Jones as himself, Lisa Marie, Jack Black, Paul Winfield, Michael J. Fox, Christina Applegate, Glenn Close, Joe Don Baker, Barber Schroeder, Sylvia Sydney, Martin Short and Sarah Jessica Parker’s head on the body of a chihuahua (don’t ask). There’s little story other than Martians attack and kill shitloads of obnoxious people, but therein lies the big joke, and it’s hilarious. Aaack !

-Nate Hill

Ernest Dickinson’s Bones


Who would have thought that a horror flick starring Snoop Dogg would actually be a winner? Bones isn’t a milestone in the genre or anything, but it sure is better than the self promoting vanity piece that I expected going in. Usually when rappers or musicians headline their own films they turn out to be spectacular failures (50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying and Dee Snider’s Strangeland come to mind), but this one comes off as a legitimate, entertaining horror effort. Snoop plays Jimmy Bones, a lucrative 70’s street hustler who is betrayed and slaughtered by his partners in crime, his own sweetheart Pearl (Pam Grier is never not cool) and one sleazebag of a cop (Michael T. Weiss, excellent). Decades later he returns, undead, in the form of a smooth talking supernatural street demon, out to exact bloody ghetto revenge on his old acquaintances and clean up his former inner city neighbourhood, which is actually just Vancouver in disguise, I mean what city in any movie ever isn’t just Vancouver? Loosely threaded with the story of a few kids who plan to turn his old gothic mansion into a silly hip hop nightclub, things rev into full gore gear when he shows up back in town to stir shit around and collect heads, and I mean that literally. Snoop is wicked fun, wisely dropping any rap gags or meta smirk, showing up in full jive talking boogeyman mode, meaning business and bringing along the dark, angry charisma to back it up. Director Ernest Dickinson helmed a few Tales From The Crypt outings and therefore knows his way around this very specific and distilled niche of horror. Shades of the 80’s are prescient with incredibly gooey, gag inducing effects that would make Freddy Krueger jealous, and one gets an almost Crow vibe from the story structure, via the paranormal revenge motif and baroque, Poe-esque fire and brimstone aesthetic. It’s silly for sure, but far far more grounded and committed than you’d expect this type of thing to be on paper. More of a head on its shoulders than Tales From The Hood anyway, and yes that’s a real thing. I must make additional mention of the prosthetic effects though; not since certain Elm Street outings, early Cronenberg or stuff like The Sentinel have I seen the level of deformed, hellish grossology onscreen than is present in some scenes here, they should be really proud of what they’ve done. 

 -Nate Hill

John Carpenter’s Ghosts Of Mars: A Review by Nate Hill

  

Mars has been a consistently entertaining setting for films that are all across the board, as far as tone and subject matter goes. Brian DePalma’s Mission To Mars is a thoughtful, exhilarating piece, Anthony Hoffman’s Red Planet makes a fascinating effort, John Carter took the swashbuckling adventure route. And then there’s John Carpenter’s Ghosts Of Mars, which is proudly the silliest of the entire bunch, a slice of sheer lunacy that admittedly serves as a distinct nadir in the auteur’s legendary career, and yet is fun on its own terms. It’s quite a weird little endeavour, and one can at least commend it for taking the brawny B movie route and littering its story with camp and Corman-esque nostalgia, instead of wasting it’s breath by being yet another stupid horror flick that just happens to be set in space. Carpenter is the master of high concept set ups that oddly feel minimalistic and lean when seen onscreen as opposed to paper, or word of mouth. In Carpenter’s vision we follow intergalactic cop Melanie Ballard (Secies beauty Natasha Henstridge) and her crew as they land on Mars to collect uber dangerous convict Desolation Williams (Ice Cube being Ice Cube). Along with her is Jericho Butler (Jason Statham), Commander Helena Braddock (Pam Grier brings with her the class and specificity of the films that Carpenter yearns for and emulates) and Bashira Kincaid (Clea Duvall). Things go swimmingly until a mining team nearby unearths an ancient defensive device used by the warring native clans of Mars centuries ago. The spirits set loose soon possess workers and Henstridge’s crew is faced with ancient, savage ghost warrior zombie things. Quite the chuckle worthy setup, isn’t it? Hell, it ain’t half bad, and there are certain moments of clarity where Carpenter’s early career brilliance flashes through the muck briefly. Ice Cube tries to be badass and comes off just plain silly, which is fine by me, as I love having a laugh at the guy. Clea Duvall fares best and is pretty much the only actor here who hasn’t found herself in a film like this anywhere else in her career. This makes her stand out, along with her immediate likability and charisma. The ghost warriors themselves resemble Moria Orcs with a serious methamphetamine problem, gaunt, vicious bastards that serve to give the makeup artist a good name, and are the best thing about the film, visually speaking. It ain’t Carpenter’s best, but fuck man it’s still Carpenter, and I’ll take all I can get.  

Episode 17: Quentin Tarantino’s JACKIE BROWN with guest PAUL RAI

EPISODE 17

We were joined with Facebook friend Paul Rai to discuss Quentin Taratino’s masterpiece JACKIE BROWN and Tarantino’s work in general.  It’s been a while since we’ve done a a regular podcast!  Enjoy!

QUENTIN TARANTINO’S JACKIE BROWN — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Jackie Brown is the most mature film from Quentin Tarantino to date. It’s the Quentin Tarantino film that’s safe to show your parents. And I don’t mean that in an negative way – all of QT’s stylistic and narrative flourishes from his previous films were still on display, except this time, rather than being obsessed with guns and the messy violence that bullets can create, he was even more interested in his usual and extra-special brand of vulgar, beautiful poetry, this time stemming from the pages of Elmore Leonard’s classic novel Rum Punch. Resurrecting old movie stars has always been QT’s favorite thing to do, and here, he brought back both Pam Grier (lovely and clearly enjoying every moment of being front and center at that stage in her career) and Robert Forster (who gives what amounts to my favorite performance from any actor in any QT film – period) from the dust-bins of the 70’s movie graveyard, and gave them tons of room to shine with an amazing supporting casting including Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, and Michael Keaton giving them tons of colorful back-up. Chris Tucker’s cameo is an all-timer, the visual texture resembles something old and tea-stained, and the funkadelic soundtrack grooves to a fantastic beat all-throughout. When it was released, the film received plenty of critical support, but looking back on it, I feel that people were more muted than they should have been. Expectations are inevitable, and sometimes dangerous, and the fact that Jackie Brown was not necessarily a logical follow-up to Pulp Fiction might have initially thrown some people for a loop. But over time, it’s become clear that QT was up to something very special with this piece of work, which feels both cut from his moving-loving-heart and the conventions of the crime drama, with enough to satisfy everyone on both sides of the coin.

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