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PCR #353  (Vol. 7, No. 52) This edition is for the week of December 25--31, 2006.

Casino Royale, The Book and The Movie: An Appreciation  by Greg Van Cott
MOVIE REVIEW
"Dreamgirls"  by Mike Smith
ODDSERVATIONS
Crappy Anniversary: 20 Years Without Cult Movies  by Andy Lalino
MIKE'S RANT
That Time of Year....Blowing Our Horn....Passing On....Top 10 Movie Lines....Next Year....My Favorite Films, Part 52: "Die Hard"  by Mike Smith
LETTERS
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Crappy Anniversary: 20 Years Without Cult Movies

A thousand pardons for ending '06 by being a real downer, but the grim reality is we have, as Crazed Fanboys, experienced yet another year of tremendous disappointment concerning our beloved genres of horror, science-fiction, and fantasy. 2006 has proved to be as gutless and sorry as ever, with fanboys twiddling their thumbs amidst a non-stop barrage of Dr. Phil's, Dope-rah Winfrieds, American I-dull, justin timberlakes, pratfalls of pixillated prancing penguins, and Julia Roberts flix. While the mainstream and big Hollywood continues to dive-bomb us with 300 million dollar budgets, endless CGI wonderscapes, reality shows and other doings for dum-dums, we play the lemmings to a tee, willingly plunking down our hard-earned $9.50 for a movie ticket and then a $10 popcorn/slush combo, all for the privilege of chirping "wow-wee!" at the latest, bloated computer-generated wonderment. To accent the depressing sense of gloom of the drab years ahead, New Wave bands such as U2 and Duran Duran have betrayed their fans by collaborating with New Wave-unfriendly 'performers' such as the aforementioned 'timberlake', 'green day', and 'mary blige' in an embarrassing and disingenuous attempt to relate to the tweens of this insipid new millennium of ours. U2 in particular have stained the memory of the late Stuart Adamson (of Big Country) by recording a cover of The Skids' "Here Come the Saints" with 'green day' - unforgivable.

To their credit, there have been somewhat noble attempts to flick the finger at mainstream 'filmmaking', which usually results in flash-in-the pan efforts to revive the grandeur of '70s/early '80s, perhaps the best example being in the summer of 2005 when Romero and Zombie unleashed "Land of the Dead" and "The Devil's Rejects" respectively, but we certainly need more quality cult coming from filmmakers, and the grass-roots support of fans, who at times are snoozing in front of their PS3's. There are a few glimmers of hope for the years ahead, those being Zombie's emergence as a horror filmmaker to contend with, and the upcoming release of "Grindhouse" , which, if nothing else, may divert the attention of the mainstream away from Tom and Katie for a few hours. Perhaps the thing I'm most optimistic about is Romero's supposed return to minimalist filmmaking, with plans to design a new feature film on a foundation of little money, B&W cinematography, and that glorious NOTLD attitude. At least Romero's got the smarts to know that the best thing for the genre - and the world of cinema in general - is to press the "reset" button and begin to rebuild a beast that's been contaminated, directionless, and out-of-control since 1987. Let's hope he succeeds.

But, until then, our scum-sucking local TV stations are certain to continue piping out slop like 'rachel ray', 'friends' and 'Steinfeld' reruns, and totally quell any effort to broadcast even a minimally cool cult film (and I'm not talking about "Critters 4"). Contrast that to a year such as 1978 when one was able to experience exciting horror/sci-fi films like "The Monster that Challenged the World" and "Bride of Frankenstein" with astounding regularity. Those days are long-gone, and I'd hardly call that progress. Might I remind you that it was Channel 44 (now called 'cw') who destroyed the archival videotapes of our beloved Dr. Paul Bearer, and became a personality-less skunk of a network more concerned with 'veronica marz' than providing their audience with good cult movie entertainment.

So, I expect 2007 to be another year of dank, depressing abandonment with token moments of delight that will quickly evaporate. When one considers that Crazed Fanboys have been in this sinuous state of funk for twenty years (since '87), you can see why my level of optimism resides in a deep, dark cellar. Every minute that goes by propels us further from the '70s/early '80s, which is a low, lonely place to be. For those new readers who may wonder what the hell I'm writing about, I'd ask them to investigate the fact that it was horror/sci-fi/fantasy which dominated the cinematic landscape from 1977 to 1986, and paired with the glorious pop culture of the time, it made for an unforgettable platinum era of fantastic cinema. If you don't believe me, I dare you to pick up editions of Starlog, Fango, FM, and other like magazines from that time period and find the truth out for yourselves.

Perhaps in reflection of the sadness we've all experienced since 1987, we should ask ourselves a few questions:
Midnight Movies were a huge phenomenon from the early '70s to the early '80s, with hits like "Pink Flamingos", "El Topo", "Dawn of the Dead", "Eraserhead", etc. Now, the only midnight movies you're likely to see are first run films, as opposed to classic cult movies. How do you feel about that?
Since 1986, New Wave has been eclipsed by metal, r&b dance, and grunge. In fact, I can barely name even one band since the early '90s that I could say qualifies as a legitimate torch-bearer of New Wave. What are your thoughts?
Many indie filmmakers have attempted to reinstate the gritty grandeur of the '70s horror film, yet we've not seen the type of genre domination so lusciously evident in the late '70s/early '80s. Why do you think that's so?
As fans of horror/sci-fi/fantasy, are we doing enough to promote the genres? Do we really care about the situation?
Are you ready, willing and able to just say no to mainstream drek?

  • Please post your thoughts on the message board!

    Perhaps what I find to be the biggest downer is the cold, clammy realization that although a filmmaker can make the best cult film in the world, that film will never have the intrinsic advantage of being made within the pop culture of the '60s, '70s, or early '80s. Truth be told: no one really liked the '90s or is particularly happy living in this insipid time of rules, regulations, overpopulation, boy bands, reality shows, 'one tree hill', revolving Republican vs. Democrat debates, iPods, and other elements that have insultingly haunted us as fanboys for a long, grueling twenty years. An airbrushed CE3K landscape on the side of a customized van or Chewbacca iron-on T-shirt are forever more cool than any pop culture icon they can throw up today, and I'm saddened to say that unless a cult movie is paired with a genuine, substantial pop culture, we will likely never see an exciting a time as what fanboys of bygone years experienced while at midnight spook shows in the '50s, giant monster movies the '60s, Euro horror of the '70s, and the '80s slashers.

    So, it seems like we're all shit out of luck, probably for the rest of our lives. Yeah, I guess we'll have those DVD's in our collection to remind us what unique and fun times those were, as we make our way to the local megaplex to see the latest Hillary Duff movie. It was just a matter of time when all fun comes to an end, cinema really doesn't mean anything anymore, and the great filmmakers of the '70s get older and are replaced by talentless wannabees who rely on Jolt cola-slurping pixel wizards to get them out of creative jams. I'd have to say the outlook remains entirely sour, colorless, and foreboding, in which we're all headed in one clear, lonesome direction:

    Down.


    "Oddservations" is ©2006 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.