I got started as a critic in 2004 when I covered the Fantasia film festival for Film Threat. At the time I was pretty active on the Film Threat web board and one of the moderators, I believe it was Eric Campos, asked if I could attend the festival and write something for the magazine since I lived nearby. I must have done a good job because he let me stick around to do more stuff, mostly review indie films and write a series called “Versus” where I compared remakes with the original.
It was fun, but eventually I had to slow down because I was burnt out. I realize that “watching movies” doesn’t sound exhausting, but I always felt a deep sense of responsibility to both the readers and the filmmakers. It felt wrong to just go “This film sucks!” or “This film rocks” without exploring every little detail on screen and analyzing every aspect of the production.
Real depth can come from the most surprising sources, things which at first glance are commercial grabs, but which, when mined, show greater depth. On the one basic hand, Star Wars is ships in space shooting at each other and guys beating on each other with laser swords. On the other hand, the critical hand that studied at a college, it’s an examination of our yearning for a call to adventure lost in the grit of seventies cinema.
Consider Little Shop of Horrors, one of the movies that came out of the well of nostalgia that is the eighties. Many remember it as a musical. Many remember it as a comedy. Many remember it as a horror flick. Few, if any, read much into it.
The mission statement from the Bleeding Skull website is to review only horror and trash films from the 80’s, and they’d be mostly films you never heard of, before. After compiling hundreds of reviews based on films from the 1980’s that almost no one would ever bother with, “Bleeding Skull” finally releases a compilation of some of their best written reviews of pure eighties junk.
I was first introduced to Doug Brunell back in 2004, when I discovered his column “Excess Hollywood” at Film Threat. His column was often so addictive and volatile I spent a few days reading the entire archive. When I joined Film Threat in 2005, I made a point of befriending Doug, because he’s simply one of my favorite online writers and I had to pick his brain and learn from him. Since then, Doug has been a consistent source of creative inspiration, an all around nice guy, and someone who isn’t smug about his talent. After reading his gory new horror novel “Nothing Men,” we interviewed Doug about his book and views about movies and entertainment since he is still a very ardent and influential voice in film criticism.
“Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure” often tends to read more like a memoir of a man who worked with the legendary late great director and writer, and less like an instructional book. Author Dan O’Bannon is able to build a book that’s outside the norm of your typical screenwriting book. Author O’Bannon stresses the importance of writing a book that stands out from the shelves of screenwriting books, and while demonstrating how he sought to break the formula of screenwriting in his days of making movies, he tries to break the formula of screenwriting books in general.
Much of “Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure” is based around Dan O’Bannon’s writing experience with screenplays, and co-author Matt Lohr’s experience working with Dan O’Bannon and how he changed his life. In the process, author Dan O’Bannon hopes to change the aspiring screenwriter’s life by assisting them in breaking free from formulas and clichés and attempting to re-mold stories no matter how old hat they may be. O’Bannon took what were traditionally cheesy and clunky premises and with his own sense of style and unique storytelling, reshaped them in to classics and hit films.
Author Dan O’Bannon hopes to instill this upon the reader by exploring all angles of creative writing and what you can hope to learn from him by his anecdotes and thoughts on storytelling in general.
Pilar Alessandra is thinking about the busy writer, the writer who doesn’t have time to sit down every day and write their novels or screenplays. Some of us actually have a day job to pull, but also have the aspirations to write a screenplay. Too often have I’ve heard someone who aspired to create their own screenplay but just didn’t have the time or drive. Alessandra takes that aspiration and fuels it with the ability to write a screenplay in ten minutes at a time. Not only that, but she also teaches you to micro-manage your tasks and create small windows of opportunities to write your scripts within the ten minutes that can guarantee you a perfect script you always envisioned from the get go.
Where to go from there that’s up to you, but getting the script done is a step forward. Picking up the book will cost you ten minutes and fifteen bucks, matched with the ten minutes reading each chapter, along with the ten minutes writing the script after reading the chapters for ten minutes and you have a mathematical formula I couldn’t possibly figure out but is nonetheless an approach toward accomplishing the goal to get a script done.
One angry father wrote to the brilliant director, saying his daughter had not bathed since viewing a bathtub drowning in the 1954 French film “Les Diaboliques,” and now she was refusing to shower after seeing Janet Leigh’s character slashed to death in “Psycho.” Hitchcock responded, “Send her to the dry cleaners.” – The Secrets of “Psycho’s” Shower Scene, Salon.com
“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” – Alfred Hitchcock
My obsession with Hitchcock was not one that blossomed in a split second. As someone exposed to the art of filmmaking and movies as a whole from a very early age, it took much time and patience to come around to appreciating folks like Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, William Wyler and Alfred Hitchcock. As a person who grew up in front of the television watching slasher films and zombie movie, it required some effort to sit down in front of a television screen to soak in the nuances and undertones of “Psycho” that would soon become one of my favorite horror films of all time. As a horror movie it’s without a doubt a keen exploration in the unending madness and reign of terror of a man forever damaged by his mother during and after her death. But as a film it’s so intricately made and so diversely entertaining that it’s almost impossible not to enjoy it. As a piece of horror filmmaking, Hitchcock made a movie that’s the epitome of the convention breaking genre masterpiece.