Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Short Film: Helping Johnny Remember

Helping Johnny Remember from ashleigh nankivell on Vimeo.

"Johnny is so kickass, these kids are wet farts slogging down cool Johnny who is the proverbial awesome majority of one."
Ashleigh Nankivell

This film seems to have been a mild viral event in 2010, which is also the year I assume the filmmaker Ashleigh Nankivell made her short by appropriating and then severely editing and altering the 1956 educational film Helping Johnny Remember, which the great Internet Archives describes as a "surreal social-guidance film showing the problems of a boy rejected by other children because he is selfish, uncooperative and domineering."
The original 1956 film is too long and boring to watch till the end (unless forced to in class, which I swear I was made to do in Alexandria, VA in the late 60s – or was it Lee, MA in the early 70s?), but Ashleigh Nankivell twists the excerpts she takes from the ephemeral film into a petite, visually disturbing and highly intriguing, surreal social-guidance film showing the problems of a boy rejected by other children because he is selfish, uncooperative and domineering – a film that, by the end, could more than almost be seen as a reflection of US foreign politics throughout most of history.

Ashleigh Nankivell, by the way, has a website of her own, lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., speaks fluent Spanish and likes chorizo a lot. She used After Effetcs CS 4 to redo the film, which won first place at the RE/Mixed Media Festival 2010.

And now, for April 2011, her take on Helping Johnny Remember is the Film of the Month here at A Wasted Life. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Night of the Comet (USA, 1984)

"C'mon Hector, the MAC-10 submachine gun was practically designed for housewives."
Regina Belmont

Night of the Comet is the second film of Thom Eberhardt, released a year after he made his debut in 1983 with the horror film Sole Survivor (trailer), an early take on the basic idea of Final Destination (2000 / trailer) and its never-ending sequels. Over the years, Night of the Comet has gained a highly vocal cult following, and enjoys great popularity; not only has it made many a "Best of" lists — including Bloody Disgusting's Top 10 Doomsday Horror Films in 2009 "for its 80s-era cheese factor" — but it also enjoys a full fan-run website all of its own. But all its popularity and good word of mouth aside, is the film any good? That would depend, really, on whether the concept of an end-of-the-world movie made by John Hughes sounds appealing to you, for that is the impression that the film conveys.

"Since before recorded time, it had swung through the universe in an elliptical orbit so large that its very existence remained a secret of time and space. But now, in the last few years of the twentieth-century, the visitor was returning. The citizens of Earth would get an extra Christmas present this year, as their planet orbited through the tail of the comet. Scientists predicted a light show of stellar proportions. Something not seen on Earth for 65 million years. Indeed, not since the time that the dinosaurs disappeared, virtually overnight."
Introductory voiceover

The just-quoted intro voiceover sets the basic situation, and when the comet flies by a few days before Christmas its corrosive dust basically dissolves everyone except for a few select lucky ones that happened to be inside and out of sight behind steel walls. That includes our heroines Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) and her boy-toy Larry (Michael Bowen), who were busy playing bunny hop in the projection booth of the movie theatre El Rey; Regina's sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney), who took refuge in a steel shed after being decked by her stepmother; Hector (Robert Belran), who was busy singing a duet in the back of his truck; and an underground think-tank full of scientists (including Mary Woronov as Audrey and Geoffrey Lewis as Carter), who knew what the comet would bring. Larry becomes zombie-food toot de suite, but Regina goes home to find Samantha and eventually they run into Hector. Hector splits for San Diego to find out what has happened to his mother, but only runs into a zombie kid there. To lift their spirits, Regina and Samantha go to the mall and dance to Cyndi Lauper, and almost get killed by a group of zombified stock boys before being "saved" by the scientists of the think tank... as of this point, to tell anything more would require major spoilers, so for the sake of those who want to see the film, the plot description ends here, except to say all's well that ends well. (Those who want the full story, go here at Wikipedia.)

"You were born with an asshole, Doris, you don't need Chuck."
Samantha Belmont

To its advantage, Night of the Comet does definitely have a high "80s-era cheese factor", complete with big hair, bad clothes, lousy synth score, and typically pappy pop songs. Also to the advantage of the film, much of the dialog is both inspired and still funny, more than one scene is pleasant to watch, and one scene even manages to shock by totally going against all expectations. But anyone popping this thing into the DVD expecting a violent slice of 80s exploitation is going to be in for a sore surprise: rated PG when originally released, the violence and blood of the film is extremely limited even for a PG film of the time, and the closest it gets to showing skin is a short bra & panties scene (pictured here).
Night of the Comet may be an end of the world zombie flick in theory, but the core focus is much more on comedy and romance at the end-of-days. The zombie aspect is so lite and casually peripheral that it almost seems added as an afterthought and could have easily been jettisoned. The six or seven that pop up do look rather zombie-like, but they are less brain-dead undead than simple mutated humans; what is perhaps the most bothersome aspect of the whole zombie thing is that the film never clarifies why the good characters don't also mutate into zombies when everyone else seems to do so.
But don't let a major dramaturgical flaw like that ruin your enjoyment of the film for what it is: a pleasant little piece of end-of-days sci-fi fluff about two valley girls who wake up one day to find all of humanity (or at least most of it) gone. To that, the use of filters to show an environment ruined by comet dust is rather effective visually, and some of the scenes of empty streets and locations are frightening in a subtle way. The major plot twist is not only unexpected but actually works, but it is a shame that the "big" final showdown is so unexciting and lame. The final scene fits nicely to the overall humor of the film, ending Night of the Comet on a properly sweet note.
Final verdict: A sweet and fun little film, Night of the Comet has its flaws and totally fails as a straight horror film – which it was never intended to be. As a horror comedy, it definitely works best as the latter. It is, in the end, a pleasant little film that flits by painlessly and can easily be shared with younger, impressionable individuals if you ever get stuck babysitting.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Valhalla Rising (UK/Denmark, 2009)

According to imdb, director Nicolas Winding Refn conceived Valhalla Rising, his latest film, as some sort of acid trip on film. Well, he didn't quit make it. In fact, the film isn't even a mushroom trip – the tale is much logically consecutive to come close to being a hallucinogen – but for that, Valhalla Rising is genetically enhanced crossbreed of sativa and indica. And as such, as a movie it is far more interesting than the average crap you get out there. Not only that, it's pretty fucking good – if you can deal with a deliberate pacing that gives meaning to the phrase "deliberate pacing."
While watching the film, for some odd reason I kept thinking of Andrzej Zulawski's totally obscure mind-fuck of a horror movie from 1981, Possession (trailer). The two films might have nothing in common in regard to genre or narrative, but both sort of beat you against the wall and continually rip the rug out from beneath you, leaving you totally confused, perhaps even upset, feeling as if you just spent a week in Amsterdam without a night's sleep or anything else to eat other than space cakes, and only radioactive pot smoke as oxygen. As is the case when watching Possession, when watching Valhalla Rising you feel that the filmmaker is trying to tell you something – wants to tell you something – but whatever it is that he wants to say is lost.
Luckily, though you know there is probably a message in the flick that you can't find, can't hear, can't see, Valhalla Rising is such a beautifully made mind trip that you don't care that you don't understand it. The Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende was almost right when they claimed that the film "unbearably self-important," they just chose the wrong adverbial: like Possession, Valhalla Rising drips self-importance, but like Possession, Valhalla Rising is anything but unbearable. Sure, Valhalla Rising is pretentious, but it's is also extremely violent, finely artsy-fartsy Eurotrash like you haven't seen in a long time, if at all. You don't need to be an art-house wussy to love this ball-breaker of a film; it appeals in equal measure to both to the grindhouse bear and the art-house bottom, veering as it does between the often cringe-inducing violence and aesthetic ugliness to the on-occasion beautiful landscape shots and many moments of intense silence.
Valhalla, for those of you who don't know, is the hall in Scandinavian mythology* where Odin receives souls of the heroic dead (wimps like you and me go to Fólkvangr). But the ostensible location headed for in this film is Jerusalem, which is never reached; instead, everyone ends up in a living hell that is, one assumes, somewhere in North America, circa 1000 A.D. And North America, circa 1000 A.D., going by the film, is the closest thing to hell on earth that existed at that time.
The film is virtually silent, with all but around 120 lines of dialog, and is broken down into six parts. Part One, "Wrath," introduces us to One-Eye (the always great Mads Mikkelsen of Adam's Apples [2005] and numerous other fab films), a mute gladiator kept and treated like a beast by a womanless Viking tribe. (That there are no women has nothing to do with the story; it is only an observation.) After a number of gore-drenched and violent fights, One-Eye frees himself and slaughters the tribe but for the young boy Are (Maarten Stevenson). One-eye then wanders off and Are, with no place else to go, tags along behind; he becomes the voice of One-Eye, in a way, telling others what the mute warrior is thinking. Part II, "Silent Warrior," finds the two stumbling upon a heathen Nordic village that has been decimated by Crusading Christian Vikings on their way to reclaim Jerusalem for Christ. In the remaining four parts, off they all go by boat on what becomes a nightmarish trip: the silent and unmoving seas that they cross make for an unconvincing Atlantic Ocean, but they do make for a finely hellish sense of inertia and hopelessness. Finally reaching land, they find neither Jerusalem nor heaven nor Valhalla, but a hell on earth disguised as a landscape of green and lush nature... and who keeps shooting those pesky arrows?
The events sound in description much like the traditional narrative of a traditional film, but Valhalla Rising puts less value on the narrative than it does on the image and the mood, interspaced with a lot of dirt and realistic violence, liberally peppered with swathes of filter-induced color and majestic panoramas and gritty close-ups. The film is also one of those types of movies that seemingly starts in the middle of a story and ends at a point where it could easily continue – it is, as a whole, less a closed narrative than a series of existential snapshots strung together.
A beautifully shot and highly unsettling meander through pointlessness that leads mostly to death, Valhalla Rising is a perfect film to pop in the DVD player the next time the in-laws come to visit.

*And remember: if the religions of yesterday are the myths of today, then the religions of today will be the myths of tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Devilman / Debiruman (Japan, 2004)

What a shame that I didn't watch this film before I watched Sakuya: Demon Slayer (Japan, 2000), as it surely would have given me a totally different appreciation of the latter film had I done so. Not that either film really has all that much in common, other than cute Japanese girls – one of whom in Devilman also wields a samurai sword for almost one whole scene. But whereas Sakuya: Demon Slayer follows the old-fashioned way of models and prosthetics and trick photography, Devilman relies on bad CGI and an occasional touch of worse makeup. Not good. But then, that is only one of many "not good" things about Devilman that would have probably made me realize that Sakuya: Demon Slayer really isn't that crappy of a film after all – if only in comparison.
The last film by Japanese director Hiroyuki Nasu – a familiar name to us milk-drinkers, I am sure – Devilman is the umpteenth version of a popular manga by Gô Nagai, the earliest version of which was a long-running and popular animated television series in 1972 (credit sequence). The 39-episode animi series ends on a much more positive note than either the manga or this filmic version of the story, but in the end it is the depressing ending of the film that is perhaps the movie's only truly redeemable quality. Devilman is, on the whole, a pretty crappy film – but then, it is also close to impossible to compress an epic story – the manga itself was serialized in over 53 issues of the magazine it ran in – into roughly two hours and achieve anything other than confusion and disinterest. And confusion and disinterest is what Devilman produces the most, other than a great desire to do dishes, vacuum, clean the windows, scrub the toilet, change the bed sheets, etc, etc. If you do manage to make it through to the ending, it is at least a good one, sorta, but damn, it takes so frigging long to get to it...
To cut the plot down to a few lines: Wimpy Akira Fudô (Hisato Izaki), who lives with the Makimura family since his parents were killed in a car accident, is possessed by a demon after the scientist father of his best friend Ryo Asuka (Yusuke Izaki) accidently releases demons from the earth's core. Akira is pure of heart or something – a virgin, maybe? – so he gains the upper-hand in the internal battle and becomes a good demon named Devilman, who supposedly fights for humanity. The rest of the demons want to take over the earth. Since you really can't tell who is or who isn't a demon, human society falls apart and WW III starts and everyone kills everyone and the world sort of ends but for a little boy and a girl half-demon. Other stuff happens in-between – his best buddy Ryô, for example, turns out to be Satan – but it's almost all boring stuff, and very poorly staged...
For the most part, wimpy Akira Fudô is wimpy even as Devilman; he hardly ever actually fights and when he does, he tends to lose. Also, his full changeover to Devilman (and his appearance as Devilman) is always in CGI, the result being an animated winged demon that hardly looks more effective or convincing than when Akira runs around half-changed, looking like a beanpole on a bad-hair day imitating someone imitating Bela Lugosi's Dracula but without the cape. (Really – he has the positioning of the arm as seen in Plan Nine from Outer Space [1958 / trailer] down pat.) The slow devolution of human society and how the people slowly become frenzied blood-thirsty killers is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film, but like everything in the movie it is underdeveloped and overly rushed. In general – actually: across the board – the acting sucks, and often, I would hazard to say, not only by Western standards. The girls are all cute; the guys all skinny and butt-ugly. And having said that, let's get to the true underlying messages of the movie. The most obvious message (as in for Film Class 101) of Devilman is that demons are people, too, and sometimes people are demons (or at least evil) – many of the demons, for example, just want to survive and don't really do evil, whereas the humans do a lot of evil by the end of the film (hell, they destroy the world). But there is a bigger message hidden in the film, one that is decipherable when you view things from a distance and start putting together one plus one.
Devilman is actually a tract on alternative sexualities (re: homosexuality) and learning to accept them in others and yourself. Obviously, there is a deep-seated latent homosexual attraction from childhood between Akira and Ryô, and the tension it causes is intensified in their teens by the appearance of an attractive girl Miki (Ayana Sakai of Battle Royal 2: Survival Program [2003 / trailer]) who not only has the hots for Akira but awakens heterosexual desires in the young lad – to the great displeasure of Ryô, whom Miki instinctively dislikes (she probably senses the latent sexual tension between the two youths). That Akira realizes his true homosexual nature is reflected by his possession by the demon, who first appears in the form of a huge squiggly spermatozoon that flies about before penetrating Akira. At that point, Akira begins to distance himself from Miki, who he loves but realizes he cannot be with because he is "different". At the same time, Akira is angry with Ryô, and gets even angrier when he realizes that Ryô is a demon (re: homosexual) too – a reflection, perhaps, of the self-hate felt by some who have been raised to believe alternative sexualities are wrong. (See William Friedkin's Boys in the Band [1970 / trailer] for a dated but hilariously bitchy and entertaining take on "homosexual self-hate".) But their inability to accept each other, society's hate for all demons (re: homosexuals), and Ryô's total distaste for humans (re: "breeders") first brings about the destruction of everyone they love and then Akira himself – who smiles in death because, as Ryô tells him, Ryô shall soon follow and they will be united in the after (life, not butt). Could it be that Ryô has AIDS?
Not that this interpretation really makes Devilman any better...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dance of the Dead (USA, 2008)

"Jimmy, quit acting like an idiot and dissect your frog!"
Mr. Hammond (Jonathan Spencer)

Now this is something new! Imagine, a horror comedy about high-school kids facing off a massive attack of zombies on the night of their prom – starring REAL teenagers! Wow – who would have ever thought it would work as well as it does! How well does it work? Well, hands down Dance of the Dead is the best teen horror comedy since Idle Hands (1999) or the underrated, hilarious but also somewhat repetitive splatter-fest Cabin Fever II: Spring Fever (2009) – neither of which featured real teens, but both of which climaxed during a school dance (the latter even at the prom). And if Dance of the Dead doesn't pour out the red stuff as extremely as Cabin Fever II, it does feature much more plot variance and character development and manages to surprise with innovative or witty twists right up to the final scene – sort of like Idle Hands did, but much more sweetly.
Joe Ballarini's script to the low budget Dance of the Dead – the second feature-length film of director Gregg Bishop, a 1999 USC graduate whose entertaining 2006 debut film The Other Side (2006 / trailer) suddenly comes across remarkably unpolished in comparison – supposedly had been sitting on the back cooker since the 1990s. Once it finally got to the cooking point, it was filmed in Georgia with a cast consisting roughly 80 percent of locals – and though they might come across as real locals, none come across as unprofessional. Not one of the cast is poorly cast and all of them manage their parts with commendable aplomb and good timing; the result is a lot of laughs between the gore and a variety of characters that get on the right side of the viewing audience. True, the script does evidence a plot hole or two, but the action and humour are so consistent that the odd implausibility or overlooked detail is easy to ignore or simply never notice.

"But I don't know how to shoot a machete."
Gwen (Carissa Capobianco)

The overall tone of Dance of the Dead is already clearly established in the pre-credit sequence in a graveyard with a dead-pan gravedigger (James Jarrett) that brings both The Adams Family (1991 / trailer) and Dellamorte Dellamore (1994 / trailer) briefly to mind even as it instigates chuckles. From there, it's off to the local high school, which is in the midst of preparing its "Hawaiian Hula Prom", to introduce the various outsiders and nerds and stoners and two odd non-nerd girls that end up forming the group that must join together to (initially) survive and (eventually) kick some zombie ass with the help of a weapons-fanatic gym teacher.Come prom night, Jimmy the Pizza Boy (Jared Kusnitz of Doll Graveyard [2005 / trailer] and Otis [2008 / trailer]), is dateless, his suddenly ex-girlfriend Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick of Buried Alive [2007 / trailer]) now reluctantly making out with the school student council president in the local graveyard just as the zombies literally begin flying out of their graves. Before long – along with a variety of class nerds, Gwen the cheerleader (Carissa Capobianco) and Kyle the redneck (Justin Welborn of The Signal [2007 / trailer]) – Jimmy and Lindsey find themselves taking refuge in a mortuary as the zombie plague spreads across town lickity-split. Their numbers dwindling, they meet up with and get armed by their school coach Keel (Mark Oliver of Camp Sleepaway III: Teenage Wasteland [1989 / trailer]) and then team up with the three stoners of a local band The Quarter Punks to go save all their friends at the prom. Needless to say, they arrive a little late...

"We're the sci-fi club, and we're here to rescue you."
George (Michael V. Mammoliti)

There are a number of truly standout scenes between the plethora of laughs and buckets of blood that flit across the screen during the extremely quick and lean 87 minutes of the movie, the best being the previously mentioned flying-from-the-grave zombies, a truly memorable make-out scene and an oddly romantic slow dance at the prom. Many of the jokes – not all of which are gore or horror-based – happen almost in passing, and by the time you begin laughing you already need to catch up with the next one, but for all the humour the old-fashioned, non-CGI blood and bodycount is not at all ignored or slighted. Dance of the Dead achieves a truly fine balance of the two and, ably assisted by an obviously keen and likable cast, the filmmakers deliver a perfect midnight movie.

Friday, April 1, 2011

R.I.P.: Farley Granger

Farley Granger
1 July 1925 – 27 March 2011

Although we here at a wasted life are sure he will be missed by those close to him, it is perhaps not quite true to say that Farley Granger will be missed by the general masses — indeed, since he has been thoroughly absent from the big and tiny screen for the past ten years (but for an occasional appearance as a talking head in documentaries on gay cinema or Alfred Hitchcock), the few who even still recognize his name probably thought him long gone already. But he wasn't, he was simply in retirement, and his abrupt departure has suddenly brought a mostly forgotten name back into the spotlight.
Though far from being a bobby-sox idol as claimed in many a eulogy (he only truly enjoyed teen popularity for a brief period after Our Very Own [1950]), Farley Granger was the epitome of the overnight Hollywood success story: a handsome young man who virtually goes from a nobody to a household name
in days (actually more like three years). But like so many, he also quickly went from a household name to a "who's that?"... By choice, in a way.
Born in San Jose, CA, on 1 July 1925 to a well-to-do family, the stock market crash of 1929 took away the family fortunes (as it did for so many) and eventually resulted in a sudden move – shall we say a desperate departure and relocation? – to Hollywood, Los Angeles, where his parents had to start anew at the bottom of the ladder.

Later, when Farley was a handsome young lad of 6'1", an unemployed and mostly forgotten Harry Langon advised his dad to have Farley audition for a local play entitled The Wookie (no, it was not a prequel to Star Wars). Farley got the part, and after it opened he was soon in a seven-year contract with Samuel Goldwyn.

A part in the Lillian Hellman-penned war film The North Star (1943 / full film) led to another war film, The Purple Heart (1944 / trailer), after which Granger enlisted in the Navy and ended up in Hawaii, where he lost both his heterosexual and homosexual virginity – all in one night, he later claimed. (Later in his life, when asked in an interview by the New York Times reporter Neil Genzlinger whether he preferred "men or women," Granger replied, "That really depends on the person." With this in mind, it must be said that Granger had very good taste in women, and was known to have been romantically involved with Shelley Winters [when she was still young, thin and stacked], Patricia Neal and Ava Gardner.)

Out of the military, he was given the lead in the classic (and low-budget) directorial debut of Nicholas Ray, They Live by Night (1947), the release of which was delayed two years by Howard Hughes's takeover of RKO. In the meantime, he was once again put under contract by Samuel Goldwyn and put in one of Alfred Hitchcock's biggest flops and most under-appreciated films, Rope (1949). Based on a stage play that was based on the Leopold and Loeb murder (also the inspiration for the highly intriguing film Compulsion [1959 / trailer]), Granger was one half of a murderous gay couple (the other half played by the real-life gay actor John Dall) – though the gay aspect was implied rather than stated. Farley followed Rope with a slew of film noir and studio products of varying quality – and continual arguments with and suspensions by Goldwyn due to the inferior quality of the projects offered – until Granger, two years after doing his other seminal film, Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951), finally bought out his contract in 1953. The action almost ruined him financially and, along with his decision to concentrate "acting" in NYC, caused his career to flounder. Granger found financial safety in television and satisfaction doing stage work.
And that is where Granger remained until 1968, when he participated in a Leonard Horn's forgotten Rogue's Gallery which, according to Leonard Maltin, is a "forgettable mystery drama [...] never released theatrically [... in which a] private eye comes to the aid of beautiful woman attempting suicide [and is] eventually seduced into frame-up scheme."

Two years later, Granger was living in Rome where he did a variety of memorable Eurotrash before returning to US television in 1974. His last appearance on Broadway was in 1982 (in Deathtrap), and his final tiny feature-film appearance was in 2001 in The Next Big Thing (trailer). His husband of 43 years, Robert Calhoun, died of lung cancer on 24 May 2008, in NYC, where Farley Granger continued to live until his own death of natural causes on 27 March 2011, at the age of 85.

A memorable actor and handsome man, and everything that Ramin Setoodeh probably hates more than himself, Farley Granger leaves behind a number of noteworthy films besides the three famous classics of which he most proud.
Below, a look at some of his more and less memorable projects.

North Star
(1943, dir. Lewis Milestone)
Included here only because it is his film debut, North Star (aka Armored Attack) is a wartime pro-Russia propaganda film featuring Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, Walter Huston, Walter Brennan and Erich von Stroheim (!). In the 1950s it was reedited to be less reverential of the Russians. Here is an embarrassing clip of a propaganda song (composed by Aaron Copland, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin) featuring a singing Dana Andrews. Doesn't it make you wish you were Russian, too?
(1948, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
Costarring James Stewart & John Dall (of Gun Crazy [1950 / fan-made trailer]), Rope is an under-appreciated and highly interesting film very loosely based on the real-life murder committed by University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Not one of Hitchcock's best films, but definitely one of his most interesting... and famous for how it is filmed to look at if made with one long continuous take.
Trailer to
They Live by Night
(1949, dir. Nicolas Ray)
Three escapees from a state prison farm in Mississippi on the lam in the 1930s; one of them, the 23-year-old Bowie (Granger), after seven years of prison, hopes to prove his innocence and consents to help in a robbery to get the money for a lawyer. Injured, he takes refuge and falls in love with Keechie (Cathy O'Donnell), with whom he hopes to have a peaceful life in the mountains. But then his fellow escapees show up again and demand he help on one more job... a beautiful and influential classic.
Review at Noir of the Week.

The opening credit sequence:
Roseanna McCoy
(1949, dir. Irving Reis)
A classy production but guilty pleasure at best: Romeo & Juliet set amidst the Hatfields & McCoys.
Let's square dance!
Side Street
(1950, dir. Anthony Mann)
Joe Norson (Granger) is a poor letter carrier with a pregnant wife. Yielding to a moment of temptation, he steals $30,000 from a pair of ruthless blackmailers more than willing to kill. After some soul-searching, Joe wants to return the money but finds that the "friend" with whom he left it is gone with the wind...
Filmed on location in NYC, it reteams Farley Granger with Cathy O'Donnell (from They Live by Night).
Review at Noir of the Week.
Trailer to
Side Street:
Edge of Doom
(1950, dir. Mark Robson)
Panned unmercifully when released, Granger plays a mixed-up young man who kills a priest when he can't afford to give his mom an expensive funeral. The poster is rather bland, but the shadows and darks and compositions of the film are not...
Review at Noir of the Week.

While it lasts,
the full film:
Strangers on a Train
(1951, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
A classic that needs no introduction.
Trailer to
Strangers on a Train:
Behave Yourself!
(1951, dir. George Beck)
An inconsequential film, the only feature film directorial credit of George Beck, this unmemorable criminal comedy co-starring Farley Granger's (at the time) main squeeze Shelley Winters was obviously inspired by the Thin Man franchise (1936-47).
While it lasts,
the full film:
The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing
(1955, dir. Richard Fleischer)
Marilyn Monroe was originally planned for this film, but chose to go on suspension instead. Thus a young Joan Collins got to play the infamous Evelyn Nesbit, the girl in the red velvet swing. The film is about the great Nesbit/Thaw/White murder case, with Ray Milland as Stanford White, the wealthy and famous NYC architect and Granger as Harry K. Thaw, the psycho young millionaire who married Evelyn and revenges her honor.
A scene from the film –
a spoiler if you don't know history:
Rogues' Gallery / Gioco d'azzardo
(1968, dir. Leonard Horn)
Granger's return to feature films – which never got released in the US and is now an unknown and forgotten film. This poster is to the Italian release. Anyone ever see it?
My Name Is Trinity / Lo chiamavano Trinità...
(1970, dir. Enzo Barboni)
A Bud Spencer & Terence Hill film – but we forgive you, Farley; everyone has to pay their rent, you too. The second film of B&T, it is also huge hit and made them what they became. Farley plays the Major, a bad guy...
Trailer to
My Name Is Trinity:
Something Is Crawling in the Dark / Qualcosa striscia nel buio / Something Creeping in the Dark
(1971, dir Mario Colucci)
Italian trailer to
 Qualcosa striscia nel buio:
The second and last film of Italian director Mario Colucci (aka Ray Colloway). Farley Granger as a psychopath named Spike. An entertaining if uneven Italo supernatural giallo featuring the typical mismatched group of strangers stranded in a large house that slowly begins to dwindle in numbers.
Here's a review at Cinema Somnambulist.
While it lasts –
the full film:
Amuck / Alla ricerca del piacere / In Search of Pleasure / Leather and Whips
(1971, dir. Silvio Amadio)
Trailer to
Lots of great nude scenes in this one! The babe-a-licious Greta Franklin (Barbara Bouchet) comes from the USA and gets herself hired as the secretary of Richard Stuart (Farley), a famous novelist living with his wife Elonora (Rosalba Neri) in a beautiful house close to Venice. The previous secretary, Sally (Patrizia Viotti), simply disappeared. What Richard and Elonora don't know is that Greta is Sally's lover, and she's out to find out what has happened to her sushi...
Reviewed at mondo digital.

Some of the great soundtrack:
The Red Headed Corpse / La rossa dalla pelle che scotta / Sweet Spirits / The Sensuous Doll
(1972, dir. Renzo Russo)
Poster above from
A Turkish-Italian coproduction co-starring the exotic Erika Blanc, who has a couple of mandatory nude scenes. Granger plays an alcoholic painter whose beaten-up shop-window mannequin comes to life and makes his life miserable.
According to Trash Palace, it's a "sexy ghost story with a [...] dreamy and serious approach [...] Blanc's nude scenes make this a must [...]."

Review at Giallo Fever.

Italian-lanuage scene to
 La rossa dalla pelle che scotta:
So Sweet, So Dead / Rivelazioni di un maniaco sessuale al capo della squadra mobile / Bad Girls / Penetration / The Slasher is the Sex Maniac
(1972, dir. Roberto Bianchi Montero)
An exploitive and misogynistic giallo slasher with a lot of naked babes – do we want them any other way?
Inspector Capuana (Granger), who is investigated a series of killings in which unfaithful wives are murdered and mutilated by an unknown man wearing (surprise!) a black fedora, gloves, and trench coat. The film gained some infamy when it was re-edited with inserted hardcore footage featuring Harry Reems and Tina Russell and released as a porno flick entitled Penetration "featuring" Farley Granger. Granger got the film pulled from the US, but supposedly the version is still available in Europe – if so, it ain't on the shelves at the local DVD store.
Review at Cult Movie Forum.
A trailer:
Kill Me, My Love! / Amore mio, uccidimi!
(1973, dir. Franco E. Prosperi)
A thriller by the Italian director Franco E. Prosperi, who is not the same Franco E. Prosperi who had has fingers in the pie for Mondo Cane I (1962 / trailer) and II (1963 / trailer).
Kill Me, My Love! is an unknown and seemingly hard to find film, so who knows if it's any good. Plot (supposedly): Granger is Manny Baxter, a rich man in Manila whose wife his wife Laureen (Pamela Tiffin) has run away with her lover Guido (Giancarlo Prete). The jealous, revenge-driven Manny uses his money to prevent his wife and Guido from leaving Manila for Bangkok as they are planning...

(1973, dir. Georg Fenady)
One of a wasted life's favorite films! What a cast! Farley Granger, Patric Knowles, Stella Stevens, Jamie Farr, Roddy McDowell, Elsa Lanchester, Victor Bruno and Bernard Fox. We caught this at the movies when we were 11 and loved it – we laughed my head off and the sight of Stella Stevens in frillies and garters made something in our pants move.
Filmed back to back with Fenady's rehash of Terror in the Wax Museum (1973 / trailer), Arnold is a black comedy bodycounter (without teenagers!). Karen Llewelyn (Stella Stevens) is the new gold-digging wife of the dead Arnold. She marries Arnold at his funeral because now that he is dead, his wife is a widow so he's free to remarry. As long as she stays by his side, she has the good life. The various relatives and hanger-ons after Arnold's wealth all die one by one a variety of creative ways. It's a film that deserves rediscovery – and perfect for the kiddies.
Trailer to
Savage City / La moglie giovane / Death Will Have Your Eyes / Infamia / Triangel
(1974, dir. Giovanni d'Eramo)
Another obscure and seldom seen giallo starring the great and tragic Marisa Mell as a woman who comes to Rome and ends up earning money on her back. She meets and marries a doctor played by Granger and stuff happens...
A trailer:
La polizia chiede aiuto / What Have They Done to Your Daughters / The Coed Murders
(1974, dir.: Massimo Dallamano)
More teens and prostitution and dead bodies in a film by the man who made What Have You Done to Solange? (1972 / trailer). A giallo polizitteschi with a killer motorcyclist and underage boobs...
A review at Celluloid Highway.
The Prowler / Rosemary's Killer
(1981, dir. Joseph Zito)
A golden-age slasher from Joseph Zito with a plot featuring remarkably similarities to the original My Bloody Valentine (1981 / trailer), which came out the same year. A critical and commercial flop when it was released, its hardcore special effects by the great Tom Savini hold up exceptionally well, but until Eli Roth drew attention to it as an influence to his films, The Prowler had pretty much drifted into obscurity. The genre-typical first murder scene takes place in 1945, where a war vet kills the writer of his "Dear John" letter and her new squeeze at a graduation dance. Thirty-five years later, at the first graduation dance since, a killer decked out in battledress begins picking off the fodder. Granger is the local Sheriff, who conveniently leaves on a fishing trip just before the shit hits the fan.
Trailer to
The Prowler:
The Imagemaker
(1986, dir. Hal Weiner)
Needless to say, the picking must have really been getting slim for Farley Granger (aged 61 at the time) if he had to accept a part in a film starring Michael Nouri. Granger's second-to-last feature-length film credit...
An interesting eulogy for Farely Granger can be found here at Sound Insights.
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