Delirium magazine #4

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Those of you who’ve read any of our old reviews will know we have a huge soft spot for Charles Band and Full Moon films. While we don’t always love their stuff, they’ve been out there for 30 years, making fun, independent horror and sci-fi movies, giving opportunities to up-and-coming filmmakers and causing people who like continuity some terrible headaches.

They also have their own in-house magazine, “Delirium”. If you like the stuff we cover here, chances are you’ll be interested in at least one of their articles, and issue 4 has some fun stuff. I was chiefly bothered with the interview with Tim Thomerson, one of our favourite B-movie actors and a long-time collaborator of Band’s. He’s been in the “Trancers” movies, “Metalstorm”, “Dollman” and many many others, and the interview was about what you’d expect – full of self-effacing humour and cool stories. Damn, has he got a good memory! Unless he’s the world’s best interview preparer.

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There’s also a really interesting interview with the current boss of Something Weird video, Lisa Petrucci (who took over from her sadly late husband Mike Vraney), plus a chat to director Frank Henenlotter, who’s the silent partner at Something Weird. They’ve released some of the best stuff, I only have a few of their DVDs but they’re real treats, full of special features.

On top of other filmmaker interviews, Charles Band pops up for his back-page editorial, and it’s hard not to love the guy, as he talks about recording commentaries for some of his movies, and is just full of enthusiasm for them, even now.

I can’t let this little review go without mentioning they’re masters of the kind word – as they talk about some of the films of David DeCoteau and Fred Olen Ray, for example, I was going “I don’t remember these fun, great little movies they’re talking about. What I remember is a load of cheap boring trash” – so be careful if you read this and want to rush out and grab an armful of their product. By all means load up on the classics, and buy yourself a few Puppet Master dolls too, but check back with us before dipping your toe any deeper in the Full Moon waters. Or just get their streaming package, which is insanely good value.

Visit http://www.fullmoonstreaming.com to get access to an amazing amount of movies for $6.99 a month.

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The ISCFC vs. The Internet (part 1)

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This is the first in our hopefully ongoing feature about other sites which have (perhaps foolishly) allowed one of us to write for them; or podcasts that we’ve appeared on.

 

First up is “Dream Deferred”, a left-wing, anti-fascist political blog, with regular pop culture and sport features. I wrote something for them aboout “The Interview”, political cinema and what the reaction to death threats is when there’s money involved. It’s a fantastic website and I really recommend you check it out.

 

Next is “Real In Memphis”, the occasional e-magazine from the greatest wrestling website in the world. I was a member for many years, although never contributed to any of their issues until now, after the forum became defunct and the few remaining members reconvened on Facebook. This is an issue in tribute to our old friend $tew, Stewart Allen, who sadly died earlier this year. I substantially rewrote my review of “Slammed” to be more wrestling-centric.

 

Remember, the ISCFC is open to receiving articles from other people, if you’d like to write with us; or if you run another website and would like one of us to contribute to something, please get in touch.

 

 

A look ahead to 2015: Marvel vs. DC

2015 could be a blockbuster year at the Box Office. The studios are putting together a host of massive franchise movies for the masses. But there’s a contest which stands out amongst the crowd as two cinematic universes prepare to collide. Me and Mark look ahead at the battle between Marvel vs. DC with Self-proclaimed movie connoisseur Justine Baron. You can read more of Justine’s writing at http://justbmovies.wordpress.com/ and follow her at https://twitter.com/justine_baron

 

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Mark Longden (https://twitter.com/Mark_ISCFC):

I read an interview with a director the other day (annoyingly, I can’t remember who) and he talked about DC’s “Batman” movie series. He hated them, he said, because it was ridiculous to have a superhero movie be about brooding and emotions and all that – Marvel got it right with their lighter, breezier, fun romps; indeed, that’s the only way superhero movies should be. Now, I think that’s a load of rubbish, myself. I may not have liked ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ all that much (in its “Occupy Wall Street” based storyline, it seemed to side with the 1% over the 99%), but the previous one is as good as superhero movies have ever been or probably ever will be.

You wouldn’t say “all movies in this genre must be X” about anthing else, would you? Well, maybe you would, to be honest, I don’t really research these things and just rely on no-one ever taking me to task for the daft stuff I write. The single greatest comic of all time is a dark tale of how superheroes would behave in the real world; ‘X Men: Days Of Future Past’ and ‘The Wolverine’ don’t have tons of laughs; and, it might reasonably be said, the reason we don’t read as many superhero books as adults is because the storylines are sort of simplistic, obvious, and so on. I don’t know.

Here’s what we’ve got coming up from the DC Cinematic Universe:

  • “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” directed by Zack Snyder (2016)
  • “Suicide Squad,” directed by David Ayer (2016)
  • “Wonder Woman,” starring Gal Gadot (2017)
  • “Justice League Part One,” directed by Zack Snyder, with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Amy Adams (2017)
  • “The Flash,” starring Ezra Miller (2018)
  • “Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa (2018)
  • “Shazam” (2019)
  • “Justice League Part Two,” directed by Zack Snyder (2019)
  • “Cyborg,” starring Ray Fisher (2020)
  • “Green Lantern” (2020)

The first thing that springs to mind is – this announcing of a slate 6 years into the future seems like such a cold, corporate idea. While capitalism has its evil tendrils in us all, some of us like to at least pretend it doesn’t, but announcing this is letting the curtain slip a little bit. What happens if the next couple of Ray Fisher movies (whoever he is, boy do I need to research these things better) are terrible box office disasters? What if the next couple of years brings us a huge new action star who says he’s always dreamed of playing Cyborg? What if everyone else realises that Zack Snyder may be a great guy and a huge comic fan, but he’s not that great a director?

 

RJW:

I think DC following Marvel’s ambitious pre-planning approach is dangerous. Yes, they carry the most recognizable and popular superheroes in their roster, but aside from the headline acts (Batman and Superman) the undercard is pretty weak.

There are a few problems I foresee; number one they don’t have the benefit of a steady build. Kevin Feige’s vision was a financial risk, but in hindsight it has proved to be a calculated and sensible one. The four years between the first Iron Man movie and the assembling of the Avengers allowed for characters and personalities to build. DC have less than a two year window between ‘Batman vs. Superman’ and ‘Justice League Part One’. Then we enter a what I think might be potential saturation period for Superhero movies which could well lead to a depression. Marvel kinda had the market all to themselves but in the next few years DC are not only competing with the established Marvel brand, the Coke to DC’s Pepsi, but also a whole host of returning powerhouse franchises like Star Wars, Jurassic Park and The Terminator.

I can’t see ‘Superman vs. Batman’ failing at the box office, but I wonder how Affleck’s Bruce Wayne will differ from Christian Bale; and whether it is too soon for a Batman reboot after Christopher Nolan’s excellent trilogy. How might a backlash against Affleck, which to an extent has already occurred, affect how the film is perceived critically?

There’s something also about ‘Wonder Woman’ that needs to be addressed. For me the film needs to be ground-breaking and empowering, a whole gender of female superheroes have been unrepresented in dire films such as 2004’s ‘Catwoman’ and 1984’s atrocious ‘Supergirl’. Even in the Marvel Universe under the eye of Joss Whedon, a man who has written several stellar female characters, we have Black Widow and that’s about it. It’s been forty years since ‘Wonder Woman’ was on our TV screens and that seems like an eternity. A whole generation have no frame of reference for the character. It’s not even like the ‘Wonder Woman’ show was repeated as frequently as Adam West’s ‘Batman’ series. The writers and directors and even the actress who will play the character Gal Gadot are under massive pressure to get it right. Otherwise all we’ll remember Wonder Woman for is for providing slutty Halloween costumes, and that’s currently a sad indictment of the character.

What DC is doing well is ramping up interest by casting the toast of Hollywood. ‘Suicide Squad’ becomes interesting with Will Smith, Tom Hardy, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto on board. Then there’s the nice counterbalance to the Avengers, with a team of bad guys in the same movie. Perhaps this also will establish genuinely threatening villains as opposed to some of the poor villains that have been slayed by the Avengers to date.

DC also has ‘The Flash’, which is pleasing the critics and bringing home great ratings. This surely provides enough leverage for a successful transition of the character into the cinematic universe.

I think your use of what DC is presenting as a “cold, corporate idea” is dead on. Wouldn’t it have been nice for DC to not announce such a schedule but instead drop out of the blue trailers or post-credit teasers for future films? It’s copying Marvel, but the difference is that Feige has already got there first.

 

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Justine (https://twitter.com/justine_baron):

The showdown between Marvel and DC is something I’m genuinely looking forward to. Coming from someone who is a big Marvel fan, I’m eager to see how well Marvel fares with the competition. DC has some classic, very well-known superheroes to build their foundation on–Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to name a few–and that’s a small advantage.

DC superheroes in cinema have been around for a long time, but in my opinion, Marvel has been reaching levels of success that will be hard to match. If you haven’t already realized, just this year alone, a total of five films based on Marvel comics have come out in theaters and the majority have been a hit critically and financially. They’ve established themselves as top dog in the comic book movie business, and now DC is pulling out all the stops to remain just as relevant.

Marvel and producer Kevin Feige took a financial risk in planning this long string of films that would eventually weave into the same universe as like nothing we’d ever seen before. They took a big chance when they jump started the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man, a superhero I knew little about until I saw Robert Downey Jr. play the character. It was worth it when Iron Man turned out to be a box office and critical success. Now, six years later, we have an already large universe of superheroes, and it’s still expanding. Phase 3 of the MCU was being set up from the start, with the Infinity Wars being the ultimate event. As Feige has said, it will be “a culmination of everything that has come before.” Marvel made the right decision by taking their time with developing the characters with their own solo movies to give viewers a greater understanding of them, rather than just putting a series of cameos in one film. When they all come together in the MCU, it feels truly epic.

As Rich said, there’s only a two year window between Batman v. Superman and The Justice League, and DC’s attempts at competing with The Avengers could falter because of it. Not to mention, people already aren’t too crazy about Ben Affleck as Batman and it could affect the success of the upcoming movie, and Man of Steel didn’t quite live up to a lot of people’s expectations.

With DC not yet having a cohesive cinematic universe of their own, a lot is riding on Zack Snyder and the outcome of his film in 2016, and let’s face it, Snyder is known for receiving a lot of bad criticism, especially with his superhero movies.

With the announcement of DC/Warner Bros. line-up, it’s pretty clear they’re working hard to beat the competition, but Marvel is excelling with not only just the beginning of Phase 3, but also with Fox and Sony expanding their separate universes too. Let’s not forget about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and the four upcoming Netflix TV series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist), plus a crossover mini-series (The Defenders), which will add to the MCU. That’s a lot to compete with.

For the next half decade, moviegoers are going to be overwhelmed with a myriad of superhero films. The ten DC films coming out are going to be matched by Marvel with ten movies of their own, and that’s not even including those that aren’t a part of the MCU (if you count all the X-Men + spin-offs, Spider-Man + spin-offs, and Fantastic Four, you’re looking at around eighteen movies between 2015 and 2019). Of course, things could change slightly as we’ve found out from the recent Sony hacks. Spider-Man could have a chance of joining the MCU and being included in the 2016 release of Captain America: Civil War, which would be amazing, and then could lead to him getting another refreshed solo movie in the future. If that doesn’t happen, though, and Sony decides to stay on track with their plans (which seems unlikely at this point), the list of upcoming Marvel films (including Sony and Fox) is as follows:

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015)
  • Ant-Man (July 17, 2015)
  • Fantastic Four (Aug. 7, 2015)
  • Deadpool (Feb. 12, 2016)
  • Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27, 2016)
  • Dr. Strange (Nov. 4, 2016)
  • Sinister Six (Nov. 11, 2016)
  • Wolverine 3 (March 3, 2017)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)
  • Fantastic Four 2 (July 14, 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (July 28, 2017)
  • Black Panther (Nov. 3, 2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 (May 4, 2018)
  • Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018)
  • Inhumans (Nov. 2, 2018)
  • Amazing Spider-Man 3 (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 (May 3, 2019)

The age-old Marvel vs. DC battle attracts plenty of people to forums and social media where they can express their not always pleasant opinions, and accuse others of being “fanboys.” It’s already begun and it will only get worse. I’ll be first to admit that I favor Marvel, but many people see superhero films because they genuinely enjoy the genre as a whole. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the success of the seriousness of The Dark Knight or the light-heartedness of Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s that a lot of people love comic book movies regardless of their different styles or brand name. Some movies aren’t afraid to stand out in an overflowing and, sometimes, formulaic genre. They allow you to visually enjoy things you only ever read about (or never read about). Some are surely going to suck, and others are going to blow us away. But all arguments aside, I wouldn’t trade these next five or so years at the cinema for anything.

The ISCFC vs. The SyFy Channel

Syfy_ID Thanks to the good people at “Tuning Into Sci-Fi TV”, we’ve got a full list of all the original movies made by the SyFy (formerly Sci-Fi) Channel. Wow, there’s a lot but we’re nothing if not dedicated here, so we’re going to try and review them all. If you’ve got a favourite that you’d like to review for us, please get in touch. Anyway, any completed review will have a link in the title, so hopefully you’ll find something to pass the time.

The 12 Disasters Of Christmas (2012)

100 Feet (2009)

100 Million BC (2008)

2 Lava 2 Lantula (2016)

5 Headed Shark Attack (2017)

6 Headed Shark Attack (2018)

A.I. Assault (2006)

Abominable (2006)

Absolon (2003)

Age of Dragons (2011)

Aladdin And The Death Lamp (2012)

Alien Apocalypse (2005)

Alien Express (2005)

Alien Hunter (2003)

Alien Lockdown (2004)

Alien Siege (2005)

Alien Tornado (2012)

Almighty Thor (2011)

American Horror House (2012)

American Warships (2012)

Anaconda 3 (2008)

Anacondas: Trail of Blood (2009)

Android Apocalypse (2006)

Annihilation Earth (2009)

Antibody (2003)

Arachnoquake (2012)

Area 51 (2011)

Assault On Dome 4 (1996)

Attack of the Sabretooth (2005)

Axe Giant (2013)

Aztec Rex (2008)

Baal: The Storm God (2008)

Basilisk: Serpent King (2006)

Bats: Human Harvest (2007)

Battle of Los Angeles (2011)

Battle Planet (2008)

Battledogs (2013)

Beast Of The Bering Sea (2013)

Beauty and the Beast: A Dark Tale (2010)

Behemoth (2011)

Bermuda Tentacles (2014)

Beyond Loch Ness (2008)

Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

Beyond Sherwood Forest (2009)

Bigfoot (2012)

Black Forest (2012)

Black Hole (2006)

Black Swarm (2008)

Blast Vegas (2013)

Blood Monkey (2008)

Bloodsuckers (2005)

Boa vs. Python (2004)

The Bone Eater (2008)

The Bone Snatcher (2003)

Boogeyman (2012)

The Book of Beasts (2009)

Bugs (2003)

Carny (2009)

Caved In: Prehistoric Terror (2006)

Cerberus (2005)

Children of the Corn (Remake) (2009)

Christmas Icetastrophe (2014)

Chupacabra vs The Alamo (2013)

Chupacabra: Dark Seas (2005)

Clive Barker’s Book of Blood (2009)

Cold Fusion (2011)

Collision Earth (2012)

Control Factor (2003)

Copperhead (2008)

Crimson Force (2005)

Crystal Skulls (2014)

Cube 2: Hypercube (2003)

Curse of The Komodo (2004)

Cyclops (2008)

Dark Haul (2014)

Dark Relic (2010)

Dark Waters (2004)

Darklight (2004)

Dead 7 (2016)

Dead and Deader (2006)

Dead Still (2014)

Deadly Descent: The Abominable Snowman (2013)

Deadly Swarm (2003)

Deathlands: Homeward Bound (2003)

Decoys (2004)

Deep Shock (2003)

Descent (2005)

Dinocroc vs. Supergator (2010)

Dinocroc (2004)

Dinoshark (2010)

Disaster Zone: Volcano in NY (2006)

Do or Die (2003)

Doomsday Prophecy (2011)

Dragon Dynasty (2006)

Dragon Fighter (2003)

Dragon Storm (2004)

Dragon Sword (2006)

Dungeons & Dragons: The Book Of Vile Darkness (2012)

Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005)

Earth’s Final Hours (2011)

Earthstorm (2007)

Encrypt (2003)

End Of The World (2013)

Epoch (2001)

Epoch: Evolution (2003)

The Fallen Ones (2005)

Ferocious Planet (2011)

Finders Keepers (2014)

Fire and Ice (2008)

Fire From Below (2009)

Fire Serpent (2007)

Fireball (2009)

Flu Bird Horror (2008)

Flying Monkeys (2013)

Frankenfish (2004)

Frost Giant (2010)

Gargoyles: Wings Darkness (2004)

Ghost Shark (2013)

Ghost Storm (2012)

Ghost Town (2009)

Ghost Voyage (2008)

Ghouls (2008)

Goblin (2010)

Grave Halloween (2013)

Grendel (2007)

Gryphon (2007)

Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy (2005)

Harpies (2007)

Haunted High (2012)

Haunted Prison (2006)

Headless Horseman (2007)

Heatstroke (2008)

Heebie Jeebies (2013)

Hellhounds (2009)

High Plains Invaders (2009)

Highlander: The Source (2007)

The Hive (2008)

House of Bones (2010)

House of the Dead 2 (2006)

Hydra (2009)

Ice Quake (2010)

Ice Road Terror (2011)

Ice Spiders (2007)

Ice Twisters (2009)

The Immortal Voyage of Captain Drake (2009)

Independence Daysaster (2013)

Infected (2008)

Infestation (2009)

Interceptor Force 2 (2002)

Invasion Roswell (2013)

Iron Invader (2011)

Jabberwock (2011)

Jack Hunter and the Lost Treasure of Ugarit (2010)

Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012)

Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (2012)

Kaw (2007)

Killer Mountain (2011)

Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep (2006)

Lake Placid 2 (2007)

Lake Placid 3 (2010)

Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2012)

Lake Placid vs Anaconda (2015)

Larva (2005)

Lavalantula (2015)

Leprechaun’s Revenge (2012)

Lightning Strikes (2009)

Living Hell (2008)

Locusts: The 8th Plague (2005)

Lost City Raiders (2008)

The Lost Future (2010)

Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon (2008)

Magma: Volcanic Disaster (2006)

Malibu Shark Attack (2009)

Mammoth (2006)

Man with the Screaming Brain (2005)

Mandrake (2010)

Mansquito (2005)

Man-Thing (2005)

Manticore (2005)

Mega Piranha (2010)

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011)

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009)

Megafault (2009)

MegaSnake (2007)

Meteor Storm (2010)

Minotaur (2006)

Momentum (2003)

Mongolian Death Worm (2010)

Monster Ark (2008)

Monsterwolf (2010)

Morlocks (2011)

Mothman (2010)

Mutant Chronicles (2009)

Mutant World (2014)

Never Cry Werewolf (2008)

NYC Tornado Terror (2008)

Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld (2008)

Ogre Hybrid (2008)

Out For Blood (2004)

Path of Destruction (2005)

Pegasus vs Chimera (2012)

Phantom Force (2004)

Phantom Racer (2009)

The Philadelphia Experiment (2012)

Piranhaconda (2012)

Planet Raptor (2009)

Polar Storm (2009)

Post Impact (2004)

Pterodactyl (2005)

Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes (2006)

Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud (2007)

Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Toys (2004)

Rage Of The Yeti (2011)

Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators (2013)

Raptor Island (2004)

Red Faction: Origins (2011)

Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010)

Reign of the Gargoyles (2007)

Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005)

Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)

Riddles of the Sphinx (2008)

Rise Of The Dinosaurs (2013)

Rise of the Gargoyles (2009)

Rise Of The Zombies (2012)

Roadkill (2011)

Robocroc (2013)

Rock Monster (2008)

Sand Serpents (2009)

Sands of Oblivion (2007)

Sasquatch Mountain (2006)

Savage Planet (2006)

Scarecrow (2013)

Scream of the Banshee (2011)

Sea Beast (2008)

Seattle Superstorm (2012)

Sharknado (2013)

Sharknado 2 (2014)

Sharks in Venice (2008)

Sharktopus (2010)

Showdown at Area 51 (2007)

Silent Warnings (2003)

Sinbad and the Minotaur (2011)

Slayer (2006)

Slipstream (2005)

Snake King (2005)

Snakehead Swamp (2014)

Snakehead Terror (2004)

Snowmageddon (2011)

Space Twister (2012)

Species III (2004)

Species: The Awakening (2007)

Splinter (2009)

SS Doomtrooper (2006)

Stan Lee’s Lightspeed (2006)

Star Runners (2009)

Stir of Echoes 2 (2007)

Stonados (2013)

Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010)

Storm War (2011)

Super Eruption (2011)

Supergator (2007)

Swamp Devil (2008)

Swamp Shark (2011)

Swamp Volcano (2012)

Tasmanian Devils (2013)

Termination Point (2008)

The Terror Beneath (2011)

They Are Among Us (2004)

Thor: Hammer of the Gods (2009)

Threshold (2003)

Triassic Attack (2010)

True Bloodthirst (2012)

Vipers (2008)

War Wolves (2009)

Warbirds (2008)

Webs (2003)

Witchslayer Gretl (2012)

Witchville (2010)

Within The Rock (1996)

Wolvesbayne (2009)

Wraiths of Roanoke (2007)

Wyvern (2009)

Yeti: Curse Of The Snow Demon (2008)

Zombie Apocalypse (2011)

Zombie Night (2013)

Interview with Viktor Johansson

We reviewed Viktor’s film ‘Under Gottsunda’ a couple of weeks ago and were enamoured with what we saw. It made sense to catch up with the man and probe him with a few questions.

‘Under Gottsunda’ shows us an unseen side of Sweden. How important was it to choose the the right location when shooting this film?

 At the time I would bike to nearby Gottsunda everyday to leave my daughter in kindergarten. Once we rode past a burned-out car and my daughter asked, well, if it had crashed. We took a peek inside and there were burned books in the wreck, trying to see what they said. Too see what lies beneath, too actually read the burned book.

Then I saw a petrol can in there. Wow, it struck me. Maybe because I had my own child on the bike, I was blown away, in the heart. The thought of this child who walked around with gasoline container, poured the gasoline and fumbled with his lighter. The gasoline child. It was my child.

And the news and police only reported about the boo-hoo poor little cars that were destroyed, a wave of car fires every summer. But I wanted to write about the children. I saw an iceberg under each burned-out car, and then wrote my novel The dark sport. At the same time I was teaching creative writing at the Gottsunda Stories workshop. ‘Under Gottsunda’ began to take form. Not just taking place in Gottsunda, as a location, but out of Gottsunda itself. Straight outta Gottsunda.

 

The Sociologist within me has always been interested in youth subcultures. I remember being fascinated by the ins and outs, the fashion, the mores, within gang culture particularly mods, rockers and punks. ‘Under Gottsunda’ features a few different youth subcultures. What interesting things did you discover about youth subcultures when researching for this film?

I grew up in the countryside of Sweden, in a village built around a frozen meal factory, one day it smelled of pirogis and one day it smelled of cabbage rolls. All things urban interested me, all the trendy subcultures and styles trickled down to us years later. Like in Gummo where the rural tennis boy has a NKOTB haircut and is the coolest thing in Xenia, Ohio.

I discovered that when you’re unseen by the big society, you might as well be hidden and do all kinds of mysterious things. These Gottsundaites take create their own little society with rituals and legends.

 

I wrote in my review of ‘Under Gottsunda’ how the film took me back to my own youth. How do the characters’ lives compare to your own experiences as a teenager?

The mission with ‘Under Gottsunda’ was understanding the misunderstood youth. Housing project youngsters are basicly seen as foreigners bringing violence to safe Sweden. But I brought some uprising to my safe upbringing. Violence aimed against society, as in Gottsunda.

In Källby I was doing street art as a teenage protest, against a colorless world maybe, once we tried to do a too ambitious stencil and was arrested. There was a big graffiti smash down, against our subculture.

Now I do not mean that everyone in Gottsunda ride police car. But I can understand the feeling that the police is working for the other side.

I hung out with the autonomous left movement and I marched along in anarchist demonstrations, so that’s been my input and understanding of uprising. When you feel that you cannot influence, then you take desperate measures. I did that. Burning a car in Gottsunda has to be seen as a message, it’s a symbolic image, not just a criminal act. In Källby I had my graffiti, in Gottsunda there’s not much graffiti. But I think young people are still trying to send a message to society. Everywhere. I understand Gottsunda with the anti-capitalist ideas of my youth. I tried to channel my radical teenage self. Maybe it doesn’t sound like it, but this is my personal approach.

If all society does for a housing project is put up a huge shopping center, in an area that cannot afford to lifestyle shop, then you create failed consumers (The Sociologist within me is Zygmut Bauman). I also did systemized shoplifting when moving to my own apartment, let me add here in the middle where my parents won’t read.

Then have these outsiders gaze into storefronts, where a perfect life is on display, light-skinned mannequins with whole families and nice clothes. But the locals do not have access, to this life. The failed uprising consumers. In Los Angeles and London we see looting and raiding as part of uprising and rebellion. You have to smash the storefront window to get on the same level as others, to take part of the high standards, shop till you fit in. This is the alienation that the market creates. In Gottsunda, and other places.

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The streotypical idea of Sweden is a nation of blonde blue eyed beautiful people. It’s almost as ridiculous as the outside view of England as a nation of tea drinkers and crumpet eaters who all talk like Dickensian characters. ‘Under Gottsunda’ features characters who are either the children of migrants; or of foreign nationals, like the Macedonian father in your film who has chosen to live in Sweden in search of a better life. Do you think Sweden’s immigrant population is under represented in film and television?

 Yeah, and wrongly represented.

The prejudices of the suburb will even get internalized by those who live there. Media uses them only for reporting about car fires and honor crimes.

When I was street casting, the kids explained that they weren’t involved in the arsons. Every kid I met felt that they had to defend themselves against that image. Arsonists, this was secondary school children.

It really hit me, I realized that the media image must have gotten jammed in their heads. Walking around with the burning cars in their psyche.

 

Under Gottsunda’ looked like it was a film that required quite a bit of editing. It appears like you shot the actors for long periods of time, and just let them be. Is there any footage which you regret not using in the film?

Yeah, editing took like six months, I worked out of a writing scholarship. I’m more established as an author than as a filmmaker.

I shot bits and pieces first, in the beginning it was more documentary style, capturing the true essence of hanging around, wasting your youth I was about to say, but that’s what youth is for, floating around in this limbo, to invent and form your identity you have to be set on part self-destruct, part self-create. I tried not to interfere and just capture this.

Then as the summer was coming to an end I realized I needed some dramatic development, and I wrote these heightened continuations to their lives, making their subcultures into extreme sports with rules and manifestos. Some of the stories were written by the kids themselves, for example the longboarder who’s force-fed his mother’s karma. That’s Sergej’s own novella that he wrote on the Gottsunda Stories workshop. His entire narration is freestyled, it’s comes from his own inner world, just not his biographical circumstances.

Speaking about the editing, I wanted an organic approach, mushrooms popping up, to not trim the shrubbery. I mean everything in this movie can be weeded out. So that vulnerability sets the dogma.

Get it cluttered instead. Let it get tangled. Sprawling maybe. The suburb is a sprawling movement away from the center. In my first poetry collection “Capsules” I wrote a poem from the movie ‘Gummo’, it was sort of a statement of my world, the beauty of the debris blowing in the wind. This debris, the mistakes, the human errors that we are, is what I am looking for. ‘Under Gottsunda’ is intended as a shattered mirror that I pieced together in the editing, to skew facets, a strange cut diamond. There is a new film by Tim Sutton called ‘Memphis’, everyone seems to write that it is entirely composed out of scenes that wouldn’t fit in a strong narrative film, stuff that won’t fit any structure. But it is these scenes, riding your BMX in twilight puddles, humming some song that will be gone forever in the next moment, that I’m looking for. That is life. That makes an awesome movie.

And to answer you on cut scenes, there’s a cut character that I didn’t get to shoot. But he can be hinted in the beginning when the boys scream down the well.

I had an idea for a burnt child, a kid who who played with fire but got burnt so badly that he didn’t dare to go home. Everyone would know that he was an arsonist, a burner of cars. So the kid grew up hidden in the sewer system, under Gottsunda.

It is one of those myths that was created for the overall film mythology, and which is hinted in the final film.

vic

I was confused a little by the characters who practiced a Martial Arts system which reminded me of a cross between Krav Maga and Wing Chun, what do these characters represent?

 Yes, Krav Maga as well as Systema is a military martial art, so it’s based on realistic combat situations. The martial art of kitchen sink realism. But these kids take it to a spin off level, with dancing and singing about twinkling stars, the dancing comes from the russian Cossacks they say. At times it seems out of control.

Talking about what it represents, systema can be seen as a manifest for the film, realism that spins out of control and becomes extreme, a hightened subculture, that’s what I’m missing in social realist cinema, in Ken Loach and Ulrich Seidl, a world of it’s own within the kitchen sink. What goes down the drain, in the kitchen sink, and mutates in the sewers. Like the Turtles or sewer alligators.

I try to take something real and mundane, and picture the extreme version, what if hanging around the parking lot was an extreme sport, what would that look like. Dancing in parking lot puddles. Screeming down the sewers.

It’s fun with Ninja Turtles how all our culture from above ground are dumped into sewers and becomes subculture. In the new Turtles movie (which isn’t called something cool like The Secret of the Ooze), they have put up a wall in the sewer using old silver cassette players as bricks.

Also about Systema, in ‘Under Gottsunda’ everyone’s talking about the system, I noticed. “Sometimes I feel like the society’s inside of me”, with the rapper Flexx’ words. And Systema, is literarily a system within a larger system. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that young people dressed in military uniforms and wake up a fierce Russian martial art right on the streets of Gottsunda. They are children of their time, their system. The kids themselves wouldn’t like me saying this, but of course you think about the violence on the streets they grew up in.

 

In terms of Swedish TV and film, in the UK only we seem to only receive a steady diet of noirish crime thrillers like ‘Wallender’, ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Crimes of Passion’, and before those Stieg Larsson adaptations; is there anything from Sweden that we should be looking into?

We have this beautiful out door natural light that has shaped amazing films like “Burrowing”, about villa neighbors who escape their mundane indoor lives, and take to the wild. Bathing their babies in the lakes.

It seems the light and the nature draws you into making Malickean movies.

It was very nice when for example a movie like last years “Something must break” goes out in the terrain, the secret wilderness behind the city. Where the suburbs and housing projects end and wilderness takes over.

It has been said about ‘Under Gottsunda’ that it looks lush and organic, it’s set in the green areas, something we don’t visualize with suburbs, in film and hip hop songs it’s all grey concrete. And of course that’s a protest, no one want’s to live like that. But it was a striking contrast to make a Terrence Malick movie where the urban wild roses grew, where the blueberries cracked the asphalt.

 

 

To finish I was wondering if you could you tell me more about your upcoming projects?

My next feature is called ‘Flogsta heaven’. It was an urgent second film that I shot last summer, urgent because I’v now moved from Uppsala, where both Flogsta and Gottsunda is located. It doesn’t add up to the magical format of a trilogy. What do you call two films, a diptych maybe.

‘Flogsta heaven’ is a film about student drop out who give up all things education, and instead they return to being savages, walking backwards, they spend three years to perform a perfect moonwalk instead of becoming a bright future for this country. The motto is daft punk instead of being so accomplished. That is what I wish for the films of Sweden, dafter and punkier.

 

 Here’s the trailer for Victor’s next movie ‘Flogsta heaven’

WEIRD SEQUELS

The sort of trashy low-budget cinema we like here has problems built into it when it comes to sequels – like budgets meaning you can’t always get the same location, or actors, or the funding coming from someone who says “hey, how about a giant robot spider in this scene?” But as this article finds these problems extend also to big budget Hollywood productions and international action films starring Martial Arts legends. To that end, following a series can become an exercise in frustration, but a good way to alleviate that frustration is to write snarky articles on the internet. 

This article is about those sequels. Whether they suddenly decided to set part 10 in space, the lead character undergoes an apparent personality crisis or the director decides to cast a bodybuilder, we’ll talk about them.

 

Mark

Nemesis 4: Death Angel This is the second twist this particular series took. Part 1 is a tense little thriller about a cop gradually losing his humanity as he gets more and more android body parts, and is well worth a watch. Then, for no real reason, part 2 onwards focused on non-acting bodybuilder Sue Price as Alex, whose DNA was crucial to ending the war between robots and humans.

nem1

But still, parts 2 and 3 sort of made sense, even if they had nothing to do with part 1. Part 4, on the other hand, just throws its hands up and goes “will this do?” The war is over, and now the soldiers on both sides work as mercenaries; oh, and Alex’s DNA is never mentioned again, either.

 

Darren from Movies Review 101

When we see a film is having a sequel it usually means couple of things, more of the same, bigger story and in most cases a decline in standard, yes I am aware some are actually better. But every now and then we get something completely different. I have come up with a couple of ideas where the film get taken out of its safety zone and turned into something mad.

Ong Bak (2003) – Ong Bak 2 (2008) Ong Bak 3 (2010) – with the first Ong Bak film our hero Tien (Tony Jaa) goes into the big city to retrieve a stolen statue head. This was a top quality action film where Tien gets to show off his Muay Thai style of fighting.  Even though this is nothing more than a fancy action film it will be enjoyed by the fans of martial arts film.

ong

When a sequel got announced I for one was excited to see Tony Jaa return to kick some arse. But in the end we get a film set in 1431 and plays out as a painful history lesson about Thai kingdoms of the same time period. Sure we get the same fighting and Muay Thai fighting style but the use of the name Ong Bak and same leading character really didn’t make sense. It also was split into two films with Ong Bak 3 picking up where the second one finished so in theory it should have been its own film.

Next up is Jason X (2001) – Friday the 13th – With Jason being kept in a special research facility in Crystal Lake the group of scientist decide to cryogenic freeze Jason until they find a way to kill him. After Jason gets free he goes on a rampage before getting capture and frozen, this sounds like a smooth Friday the 13th sequel going a little bit further but we then move into the year 2455. Where Jason gets taken onto a spaceship oh and comes back to life. Now we have Jason on a rampage in space, that is right not taking out horny campers, not in the forest we have him in space, where he also gets an upgrade to become an even more devastatingly monstrous killer. Jason in space was the final straw for the franchise before it got reset by Michael Bay. On the positive it is one of the most fun slashers films in recent years and has one of the best kills by Jason.

Jurassic park III (2001) – The first Jurassic Park was an instant classic, while the sequel The Lost World was great too. Both of these films have created a good reason for our teams to be on the island, the first to give positive feedback on the resort the second to stop hunting for a cruel resort. Very simple but they work. The third involved an odd couple tricking Dr Grant to return to fly over the island as a tour guide only to land there while they look for their lost son. This could work but from the moment Dr Grant has a nightmare about a raptor we know we are going to be watching something wrong here. We end up with a dinosaur swallowing a satellite phone and we hear it ringing whenever it is approaching. Really did someone just find a Peter Pan book and copy down the alarm clock idea? It is part bad sequel part weird because it follows nothing we have seen in the first two films.

 

 

2part

RJW

I think of Karate Kid franchise immediately when it comes to dodgy sequels. The Karate Kid, Part II sees Mr Miyagi taking Daniel back to his native Japan. The bizarre thing about Karate Kid 2 is how the film begins immediately after Daniel wins the karate tournament. The psychotic John Kreese gives hell to “sweep the leg” Johnny in a car park outside the tournament arena before he is humiliated by Miyagi. The film then just jumps six months, leaving Kreese behind, almost as if they knew there would be a third film – The Cobra Kai Strikes Back! The holiday in Japan is bizarre, it starts with Miyagi getting challenged to a ‘death match’ and ends with Daniel surviving a storm and then fighting his own ‘death match’ against a guy called Chozen.

The franchise took a bizarre turn when Hillary Swank became Miyagi’s apprentice in The Next Karate Kid. I’ve deliberately swept over the third Karate Kid film because I erm… kinda enjoy it. Swank plays Julie who is a stroppy teen angry that both her parents had died in a horrible car accident (how many times has this been used in a film!). Like Mike Tyson, Julie is a fighter who cares for birds, in Julie’s case a hawk. Julie is preyed upon by a jock fraternity, goes to a Buddhist monastery for a while and then humiliates her boyfriend by beating up a bully on his behalf.

An honourable mention for weird sequels would be Beverly Hills Cop III, mainly because Eddie Murphy seemingly forgot about the character he was playing, and ended up presenting a serious mature version of Axel Foley. Without the Detroit swagger and cocky wisecracks, effectively he changed his character’s whole personality. The film lacks all the edge of the first two films and the only explanation for  Murphy’s performance is that perhaps he was playing the role as a cop suffering from post-traumatic stress after dicing with death in the first two films. It’s quite funny to know that an initial idea for the third movie was to take the franchise to London, in hindsight anything would be better than setting it in a knock-off Disneyland.

Renegade: Opening credits, in appreciation of

Opening credits are special. The art of the opening credits has expanded exponentially since the standard of simple title cards with an orchestral accompaniment in the formative days of cinema. A major change with the advent of developing technologies and heightened creativity was the addition of imagery behind or interspersed with the text to give a contextual idea of the programme it precedes. Jean Cocteau would prove ahead of his time with his technically smart credits to La Belle et la Bête in 1946 and by the 60s major studios and directors would develop these techniques further as The Pink Panther (1963) did with such ingenuity by featuring a cartoon pink panther (rather than the precious stone in the film) comically evading the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. Television shows would also follow this loud new format too, think I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched. This style would be known as the ‘title sequence’.

 Directors would also play with having the credits over an opening scene or a prologue. Sergio Corbucci’s Django (1966) follows a mysterious man dragging a coffin along a dirt track while blood red fonts appear, lingering fiendishly over the solemn imagery giving the nihilistic impression of the death to come. More recently Jason Reitman would utilise a minimalist, retro sequence of beautifully measured aerial shots in-between clouds and of roaming American landscapes that wipe and sweep from one image to the next for his 2009 film, Up in the Air.

I love a good opening credits or title sequence, obviously I can’t list every single one here that’s given me a tingle or I’d bore you to tears but the cold simplicity of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s title cards throughout his canon to David Fincher’s brash cut-ups in Se7en (1995) to the epic nostalgia of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and the haunting and actually quite distressing credits for The Innocents (1961) are just a few examples of how opening credits have been utilised to increase the holistic impact of the feature.

This leads me nicely into my personal favourite introduction for any moving image, and the whole reason for this article, Renegade. For the uninformed, Renegade was a television show created by the tireless Stephen J. Cannell that ran for 5 seasons from 1992 to 1997.

Reno

Despite being dyslexic, Cannell was an exceptionally prolific writer creating (or co-creating) nearly 40 shows including The Greatest American Hero (which is rumoured to be getting the reboot treatment), Silk Stalkings and The Commish but is perhaps most famous for The A-Team and 21 Jump Street which both now have big screen adaptations. Sadly he passed away in 2010 so hasn’t been able to witness the success of these. If you don’t recognise his name but have seen any of these shows you’ll recognise him as the guy at the typewriter, post-credits, who throws the sheet of paper into the air, an iconic image from many an 80s childhood, that.

Renegade was Cannell’s modern update of the Lone Ranger and Tonto stories and starred Lorenzo Lamas (now Lorenzo Lamas-Craig after taking his fifth wife’s surname, who incidentally is younger than his eldest daughter) as Reno Raines, the eponymous renegade, and Branscombe Richmond as his friend & Native American sidekick, the wonderfully named, Bobby Sixkiller. Cannell himself would play series antagonist and all-round bad egg, Lt. Donald ‘Dutch’ Dixon, one of the best, most ruthless and nastiest small screen baddies you’ll ever encounter and Cannell pulled it off, the guy had acting chops.

Dutch-gun

The set-up sees a police officer, Reno, and his girlfriend, Val, disturbed by Hog Adams (Donald Gibb), a known felon whose intent is to murder Reno but he misses and shoots Val instead, putting her in a coma. The instigator of the would-be murder, crooked cop, Lt. ‘Buzzy’ Barrell (Art La Fleur) arrives on the scene only to be shot and killed by Dixon who seizes the opportunity to frame Reno for the murder and therefore sets into motion the multi-talented Mr. Raines’ new life on the road as a renegade.

The show spanned 110 episodes across those 5 seasons so there was plenty of opportunity to explore Reno’s life on the road in either canonical or random one-off stories. The continuity stuff usually involved Dutch and his lackey, Sgt. Woody Bickford (played by real-life detective Ron Johnson) going to extreme lengths to incarcerate Reno. In episode 1.1 ‘Renegade’ they hire Sixkiller Enterprises, Bobby’s bounty hunting firm, to make the capture but after he does, Bobby hears the true story, believes his bounty and they conspire to turn the tables on the unscrupulous Dixon. Incidentally, Reno takes a position as a bounty hunter at Bobby’s firm under the alias of Vince Black. Then there’s the labyrinthine 3 parter to open season 3 in which Dixon & Bickford lay a series of intricate traps which bear fruit but ultimately Reno rides off into the sunset again after a successful prison break in episode 3.3 ‘Escape’.

6killer-ent

Some of the earlier non-canonical episodes were real show highlights usually always resulting in Reno learning a new skill or the audience learning that he already worked in whatever trade features in the particular episode in his younger years. For instance episode 1.8 ‘Payback’ sees Reno’s friend Phil Fondacaro (Land of the Dead) murdered by Jesse Ventura (The Running Man) so Reno goes undercover as a ranch hand to flush Ventura out and claim revenge. Episode 3.8 ‘Black Wind’ sees Reno help out his former sensei track down a dangerous pupil who has gone rogue so he trains and becomes a black belt in a new discipline and in episode 1.11 ‘Lyon’s Roar’ we discover Reno was once a Ranger when he is challenged to a game of survival by an ex-colleague who is now a drug-addled psychotic and has tied Bobby to an exploding toilet to ensure our hero’s participation.

These examples give you an idea how the show would take itself seriously, especially when dealing with the main narrative, but couldn’t help be tongue in cheek. The casting of Lamas, a B-movie action lead, and of Richmond, a television actor who has had small roles in Commando, Batman Returns and The Scorpion King, was perfect in setting the contrasting tone as they strike up a great partnership and have a distinct chemistry that fizzes as the crux of the show.

B6K

Lamas himself I find fascinating as he’s not a natural at the acting game and his delivery is slower than my brain after a night on the gin, and he walks around in fluorescent 90s shirts or bare-chested underneath a leather waistcoat, not to mention riding his Harley without a helmet on but I can’t help but like him. He has an inane charisma, you want him to succeed and I find myself yearning for him to clear his name but he keeps getting sidetracked by small town criminals and by many a damsel in distress who often challenge his love for Val. He gets really wholesome lines which he says through his teeth like ‘Being a cop is in my DNA, like dark hair and green eyes’ and (talking about his mother to his long lost brother and brainwashed cage-fighter, Mitch (Martin Kove from The Karate Kid)) ‘She had a shock of red hair and a knockout smile. She loved ya, Mitch’. He just seems to be a really likeable guy or maybe it’s just the hair. Oh the incredible hair.

Talking of incredible hair, no matter how good Lamas’s mullet is, he’s got nothing on Branscombe Richmond. In fact Richmond’s barnet is more of a mane and I’m sure it has its own trailer and wardrobe department, it’s seriously one of the highlights of the whole show. Anyway, hair aside, Sixkiller provides the perfect foil to Reno’s often inwardly philosophical ramblings by acting as the comic relief or the shoulder to burden his many woes on. His cheerful demeanour hides a strong man and true friend to our man-on-the-lam and his other concern is his sister, Cheyenne, played by then Mrs. Lamas, Kathleen Kinmont. Lamas would eventually divorce Kinmont during the show which saw her part heavily reduced then cut altogether.

Reno-tat

As with many hit television shows, Renegade was a draw to a plethora of guest stars including, amongst others, Jackie Earle Haley, James Cromwell, L. Q. Jones, Tiny Lister, Kano and Shang Tsung from the Mortal Kombat movie, Don Swayze, Charles Napier and Johnny Cash, who guest starred in a bizarre Renegade re-telling of It’s a Wonderful Life where Cash showed Reno what the world would be like if he hadn’t been born. Terrible of course.

Like Deadwood, Renegade was another behemoth of a show to be axed before its conclusion but unlike Deadwood the lead actor returned for shooting after the post-season break with a freshly shorn head, so, what with Reno’s hair being a major part of his character, he donned a hairpiece for what would be the show’s final season as it wasn’t soon after this that everyone involved noticed that the shark was mid-jump and they quietly decided to call it a day.

Anyway, I hope that’s all gone some way to setting the tone of the show as now we’ll look at the opening credits and then I’ll break it down and explain why it’s brilliant.

First we hear the rumble of the approaching Harley, silhouetted and driving toward the camera ahead of the gorgeous red orb in the sky, then the greatest introduction ever growls the premise in broad strokes-

‘He was a good and good at his job but he committed the ultimate sin and testified against other cops, gone bad. Cops that tried to kill him but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands, an outlaw hunting outlaws. A bounty hunter. A Renegade.’

With the last two words the backdrop changes to smoke with the Renegade logo flashing through bold as brass, reminiscent of the deep south USA with its metallic eagle snarling at its prey and Mike Post’s energetic theme song kicks in. Reno then bursts through the smoke on his wheels and we’re taken straight to the open road giving the impression that that’s where he’ll be spending a lot of his time. The action doesn’t let up there though, thanks to some quick editing we see Reno wield a huge rifle and pop off a round before cutting to an image of him kicking a door open. More impressions given here, this time that the show is going to be action packed and I’ll talk about the significance of the kick later because right now we’ve already cut to a helicopter chasing Reno, clad in his leather waistcoat as he runs to his next adventure.

This next shot is interesting as it juxtaposes officer Reno Raines with his alter-ego, Vince Black before more quick cutting from a close-up of his smouldering eyes to a metal embossed imprint of the word ‘framed’, because that’s what he’s been, to his mugshot from the wanted poster, which he hides in a saddlebag on his bike. He’s then chased by police dogs and another wanted note goes up in flames to signify he’ll fight like an angry inferno to prove his innocence. There’s more running and a slow motion jump, then a beautiful woman, as the show often turns these up, then there’s a break for a couple of seconds as Reno kicks a man coming up behind on a flight of stairs. I touched upon the kick earlier and it’s important as his signature, and strongest, move is his kick, affectionately dubbed ‘The Reno Kick’ (by me anyway). He uses this to kick down a prison wall early in season one.

After another quick shot of the beautiful woman we return to the stairs where Reno takes down a felon in front of him with an impressive right hook to the jaw, he will often take down more than one opponent at a time in the show. No letting up though as a pistol chamber spins, much like Reno’s wheel of fate then he’s back on his motorcycle, hair flowing in the wind. A look to the camera and another quick fight later brings us to Reno cooling himself down by pouring a tub of water over his exposed torso while leaning against his treasured Harley, incidentally the bike does actually belong to Lorenzo Lamas and is one of his most prized possessions. After another nifty cut from a fight and a dog barking we arrive at his credit and what a shot this is. The camera lingers on our man as he takes an extended glance toward it while wearing a subtle blue shirt on his back and a pout on his face. Then he’s off again, this time down ‘Z’ road and up some stairs to wield a sidearm and check his reflection on a broken shard of glass, then he enjoys another bare-chested refreshment break before a lady poses on a window ledge.

From all this we gather Reno’s a complicated man. Okay he’s strong, 90s good looking and he likes gun play and beautiful women but he’s oppressed, his freedom has been snatched away from him thus making him the underdog and a sympathetic character for us to believe in and boy does he fight the good fight.

Okay, now things get interesting as you’ll notice the music changes key and almost genres as we’re introduced with a bang to Bobby Sixkiller. He evades a baseball bat swung at his temple and delivers a counter punch to his attacker’s midriff then he shows us his lighter side by pretending to shake a man’s hand but pulling away and chuckling at the gag. Oh Bobby you joker. Similar to Reno’s earlier juxtaposition we get one here for Bobby too when we see him as a cool guy with shades on (the best pair of sunglasses he wore were some chunky, colourful Nikes in episode 2.9 ‘Wheel Man’ where Reno becomes a race car driver) compared to his spiritual side which is explored more in episode 1.7 ‘Eye of the Storm’ where he helps Reno take down some prison escapees by getting more attuned to his ancestor’s beliefs. By the way, if you were wondering, Bobby’s special move is the clothesline.

After Bobby comes Kathleen Kinmont but she doesn’t really do much other than look at the camera and stand near some flowers which is a pretty fair representation of her input to the show. Okay, she did some sleuthing early on when she was still on speaking terms with Lamas but in the later seasons she was all but sidelined. Interestingly after season one this was changed slightly as Bobby’s Hummer (which was introduced in season 2, he would drive a huge Winnebago in season 1) was added but Kinmont would come first and Richmond’s title card was changed from ‘Branscombe Richmond’ to ‘and Branscombe Richmond as Bobby Sixkiller’.

Then we’re back to some quick cuts of Reno running, fighting, training, jumping from a great height, doing a roundhouse kick and swinging on a rope while firing another rifle. Then there’s a rattlesnake which is symbolic of the show’s unpredictability as its tongue hisses and its tail rattles angrily and intently ready to strike at anyone or anything in range. The sequence then draws to a close as it started with Reno riding off into the sunset ready to fight off all that comes his way tomorrow. Most episodes end like this too.

Well there it is, a magnificent specimen I’m sure you’ll agree and also a wonderful, and even wistful, look back at 90s television programming, it was loud, proud, brash, colourful, silly, romantic, action-packed, carefree and many other things in excess just like the decade it came from. Then with the 2000s more serious and downright brilliant shows courtesy of HBO were developed and from there the quality of television has snowballed to such an extent that a show such as Renegade is now consigned to a bygone era but no matter how cinematic modern TV is these new shows will never have the spine-tingling impact of that rumbling engine prowling those California roads.

– Greg Foster

I only hear Owen Wilson’s voice in my nightmares…

“Being in a bathtub with Jackie Chan, I don’t know, it has a way of bonding you I’ll tell you that.”
– Owen Wilson

There’s an aspect of my new job that I quite like. A couple of afternoons each week I get to watch movies. In the last couple of weeks I’ve seen drab TV movies on Channel 5 like ‘Black Widow’ starring Elizabeth Berkley and ‘Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery’ starring Dick Van Dyke, his son and his grandson. But the two films I’d like to talk about star Owen Wilson, the charming wonky nosed American everyman.

marl

Owen Wilson is lovable, laidback and dare I say lazy actor. His easy going effortless persona allows him to coast through films. I think this is a gift and a curse. He gets work, he can serve up the same old shtick, but he never goes out of second gear. I suppose thus far this has prevented him from ever reaching a level of award winning acting greatness. Though this may pan out to be a piece that criticizes Wilson, it has to be said that I have enjoyed several film’s that he’s been in such as ‘Midnight in Paris’, ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ and ‘Wedding Crashers’.

When Robin Williams tragically died, a few glowing tributes highlighted his voice work in Disney’s ‘Aladdin’. It is a performance that has obviously taken even greater significance, and given the amount of animated and live action films featuring CGI characters that are consistently churned out, it should be highlighted for actors as how to do the perfect voice-over. Owen Wilson provides the voice for the title character in ‘Marmaduke’, the live action story of a troublesome lanky Great Dane who moves to California. He performs like he’s still waiting for his morning coffee. There’s no spirit or joy in his voice.

Now usually I love a good dog movie, be it ‘Homeward Bound’, ‘Lassie’, ‘All Dogs Go to Heaven’ or ‘Scooby-Doo’, but ‘Marmaduke’ stinks, and it’s largely due to Wilson, and a shitty script. Yes, it’s a kid’s film, so you can put away the critical scalpel to an extent, but you wouldn’t even want your children to sit through this.

Marmaduke Trailer

It’s his voice. I don’t know perhaps his boyish tussled blonde locks, and forgivable smirk usually distracts me from paying much attention to Wilson’s drawl. Voice alone, Wilson is bland, and doesn’t convince as a clumsy Great Dane. I suppose Wilson could’ve played the Father of the Winslow family who own Marmaduke, but that role is occupied by the forgettable Lee Pace.

As Marmaduke Wilson narrates the film, and dominates the dialogue. The trouble with this is that it isn’t a film solely about the animals, as it also tries to tie in the Winslow family’s struggle to adapt to life in California. I suppose this is an attempt to differentiate itself from a film like ‘Marley & Me’, which also starred Owen Wilson. A better balance might’ve been for ‘Marmaduke’ to be a bit like a modern version of ‘Beethoven’.

‘Marmaduke’ was part of an Owen Wilson double bill on Film Four. The second film was ‘Drillbit Taylor’, directed by Steven Brill, whose work includes the unholy trio of ‘Mr Deeds’, ‘Without a Paddle’ and ‘Movie 43’. It was bound to be awful wasn’t it? But then you delve further with who else was involved – the film was produced by Judd Apatow, co-written by Seth Rogan and the late great John Hughes came up with the original concept for the film. Hang on a minute, why wasn’t this film a success?

Drillbit Taylor Trailer

Arguably the fault lies again with Wilson and his performance as the most ridiculous representation of a homeless man in film history. It’s almost offensive. Wilson makes homelessness look easy, he showers on the beach, gets a steady amount of cash from drivers stuck in morning rush hour traffic and drifts by effortlessly. Drillbit is hired by a couple of high school kids who are being bullied to be their bodyguard; somehow he ends up posing as a substitute teacher. Nobody raises an eyebrow. The film doesn’t veer much from the high school nerd gains revenge over bully trope.

Over the course of those three hours, the combined effect of sitting through ‘Marmaduke’ and ‘Drillbit Taylor’, I’ve grown to despise Owen Wilson’s voice. I can hear it now. He’s laughing, a cool guffaw. He knows it doesn’t matter what I think.

– RJW