I had seen this poster for Deadpool and thought ‘That looks a cheeky and irreverent superhero movie! I must investigate…’
I then watched a trailer to realise to my absolute horror that the man under the mask was played by of all people Ryan Reynolds. I instantly dismissed the movie because of this fact (well wouldn’t you?!). I then started to see the other posters for the movie and how clever they were. The art of the movie poster is at an all time low but this film had countless brilliant designs. Someone at the studio had actually used their brain (oh my). They had even designed posters that lambasted the generic and bland movie posters that we’re all used to seeing today-
I love the idea of some sappy couple seeing the above artwork and deciding to give this romcom a whirl.
I then saw a review on TV in which the reviewer said that he laughed constantly throughout the film. The lead character was meant to be extremely potty-mouthed. In fact he was described as a sort of Roger’s Profanisaurus on two legs. That pretty much sold me to this movie.
But when I started watching the film I quickly started to think ‘What the fuck am I doing here?!’ This is a movie written specifically for the demographic who read comic books, live on the internet, never leave their bedrooms and possibly have Asperger’s Syndrome. Its also about as full-on dirty as an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
The character of Deadpool has not just one wisecrack for every action in the movie but ten. And hes going to use them all! This becomes tiresome really, really quickly. Especially as every wisecrack is aimed the geeky demographic this film exploits so fully. Other elements of the film are also aimed at this same group of viewers. The kind of people who think that its great for a film to play ‘Shoop’ by Salt N Pepa as if its both cool and funny. The kind of people who think that the opening credits are really funny because they don’t show the actors names but the character types instead (for example ‘moody teenager’, ‘gratuitous cameo’). The kind of people who think that the fact that Deadpool is a big fan of tragic 80s pop group Wham! is brilliant beyond belief. The kind of people I fucking hate.
Deadpool seems to overdo everything that it thinks is zany and quirky. Why break the fourth wall once when you can do it time and time again? Except this isn’t fine. If you’re gonna do this in a movie then do it once, do it quickly and then get back to the film in question. The same goes for being self-referential. Yes we know this is a movie, that it has Ryan Reynolds in it who has been in People magazine and that its based on Marvel comics. Now please don’t have Deadpool mention this to us time and time again. Oops, too late.
Strip away the clever marketing and all of the other gimmicks and you have a very conventional movie that relies on a tried and tested formula- hero (even though he says he isn’t one) seeks revenge on his aggressor. We learn through flashbacks what happened to him. There is a final showdown between him and his aggressor. He wins and even gets his girl back even though he is disfigured.
I feel like I’m focussing on only the negative points of this movie. I found that I could sit through it even though some sequences were buttockclenchingly irritating. The love story between Wade and his gal was touching especially as they were both outsiders (this gives hope to the nerds in the audience -they might actually find love themselves beyond a box of Kleenex.) And the fight scenes, when they weren’t being irritating (the numbers on the bullets idea wore thin real fast) were very entertaining.
Deadpool isn’t as brilliant or innovative as it thinks it is. But the studio couldn’t give two hoots about this. Deadpool is breaking all box office records know to man, there are sequels to be made and endless cross-over possibilities with other Marvel superhero movies to be milked for all they’re worth. Of course there will be fanboys who will hate what I’ve just written. But I don’t care.
Its great that this hoodie wearing demographic will now have something to quote other than Bazinga. Its also great that clever marketing and the art of the movie poster seems to have been resurrected again. But don’t tell me that Deadpool is the last word in movie innovation. Thats a joke too far.
My love of horror films started when I was young. As I wasn’t old enough to see these films at my local cinema I took to gazing endlessly at the posters and lobby cards for them outside my local Odeon as I basked in their depictions of fear, terror and sadism. I was lucky enough to be born in 1975 and so I grew up when many classics of the genre were released at the cinema and then found their way onto the new medium of home video.
Any time after 9pm TV spots (short trailers for films made specifically for television) would be shown- and they certainly didn’t disappoint! I still remember watching the TV spot for The Shining when I was 5 years old. All of the most frightening and disturbing elements of the film distilled into 30 secs. I didn’t sleep for several nights after this.
It was a very twisted trip down memory lane when I discovered this on YouTube-
Its great to see that TV spots were also made for the many horror double bills that were shown. The posters for these provided even more sleepless nights for me.
Its amazing when a TV programme or a film conveys a message that is so powerful that it faces strong and vicious opposition from the higher echelons of the day who seek to suppress it.
Play For Today was a BBC1 drama anthology series which ran from 1970 until 1984. Alan Clarke directed an episode about life in a borstal- now known as young offenders centres. The programme was the first time the general public had seen inside one such institution and the disturbing events therein that unfolded in this episode. The programme fully depicted the brutality, racism and dehumanisation of its charges not to mention it’s warders. This was hardly a glowing commendation for the borstal system. However the programme makers shot this drama with no interference whatsoever from the powers that be in the Beeb.
That was until just before the programme was due to be shown. There were suddenly rumblings from up above and a diktat received by the programme makers that cuts needed to be made to the drama prior to it being televised. Producer Margaret Matheson states the appropriate cuts were made and whilst they weren’t happy doing this they were still proud of the programme in its trimmed state. It was still powerful and still hit its mark artistically.
But then the programme was pulled from broadcast. Matheson said that Scum was even listed in The Radio Times which shows how close to broadcast it was when it was pulled. Matheson also said that there was a change in personnel with Bryan Cowgill, the controller of BBC1 being replaced by Bill Cotton. Scum’s writer Roy Minton would later refer to the tv play version of Scum as The Billy Cotton Banned Show (Cotton’s father used to host The Billy Cotton Band Show years before).
A screening of the TV play had been organised in Soho for the day after it was due to be televised but this was before the BBC had pulled the plug. However this viewing still went ahead. In fact because the work had been banned by the BBC this screening was extremely well attended and seen as an opportunity to see something forbidden and risque. Afterwards various members of the audience had approached the programme makers to express how great it was and that such an important work should be seen by as many people as possible. There was a clause in force that if the BBC didn’t show a piece of work within a certain amount of time the rights lapsed out of the BBC’s control and so when this happened it was decided that a film of Scum would be made instead. The film would be almost the same as the TV play including many of the cast and crew except that the scenes that were cut would be now left intact. More importantly, one person who was at this screening would end up producing the film version of this TV drama, Clive Parsons.
So, what had frightened the executives at the Beeb so much that they decided to shelf the play from being shown?
The plot of both the TV play and the film of Scum concerns a young prisoner, Carlin being transferred to the borstal that the programme is based in. The ‘Daddy’ (the toughest prisoner who is in charge of the other prisoners) of the borstal is named Pongo Banks and is shown to be in cahoots with the screws (wardens) of the borstal and is depicted to be a bully as he actively terrorises and bullies anyone who he sees as weaker or different. The Daddy working in tandem with the system makes the Bostal experience an even more dehumanising one for the majority of the inmates and also the few decent screws working at the institution.
Carlin was the Daddy at his previous institution and has been transferred because he beat up two officers in retaliation. Thus he arrives at this borstal already with a reputation with both the screws and Pongo and his gang both desperate to prove that they are in control on their turf and to prove that they are more powerful than he is and that he should know his place. Carlin is forced to share a dorm with Pongo and his acolytes and is given a beating by all three after lights out.
However Carlin then takes over. This scene of Carlin taking control from both Pongo and pals and the bent screws who they were working with has now gone down in cinema history. Its almost operatic in power.
The line ‘I’m The Daddy!’ has now entered the popular vernacular in the same way ‘You talkin’ to me?’ has.
The power has now been taken away from the bent officers- and they’re not happy about it. With a prison or borstal in which the bent screws and bent Daddy work in tandem, brutality can prosper unchallenged so much easier. With a fairer head inmate in control who also has a healthy disregard for authority the officers and system in general will get a much harder time with a ‘Them vs us’ mentality now replacing the old regime.
Another challenger to authority and the system is the character of Archer. He decided early on that he was to learn the rules and regulations inside out and give the officers and prison department as hard a time as possible- even if it meant he serves his full sentence. He becomes vegetarian, refuses to wear leather boots and converts to Islam to rile the Christian Governor. One particular scene involves him trying to illustrate to an officer that some of them are just as institutionalised as some of the inmates. Unfortunately this goes badly wrong-
Archer is a thorn in the side for the authorities. He becomes a close friend and supporter of Carlin from Day 1. Carlin is courted by the housemaster (the borstal system seems to be run along the lines of a public school- which is ironic) as they see that he has taken control of the inmates. To reap the rewards of his new status, Carlin seems to go along with this to get the best for himself- he asks for a single cell and gets it only because of his Daddy status. But theres a feeling that Carlin is only going along with this to make his stay much easier whilst making sure that the other inmates have a more humane stay also rather than running the borstal in conjunction with the screws.
Theres a feeling that if the authorities step out of line with Carlin he will intervene and give them what for. And indeed this happens- in brutal style. A prisoner named Davis is raped in the borstal greenhouse and then commits suicide by slitting his wrists in his cell. These two events were also willfully ignored by the guards on duty- one officer watches the rape with sadistic glee and only intervenes when the borstal gardener is seen to be approaching.
He then lets the rapists go free and admonishes the victim. When the victim is in his cell he rings the bell and complains of nightmares to the officer who responds. This officer then ignores any more calls for help from Davis who then ends his life.
This sees the prisoners take part in a riot instigated by Carlin over the treatment of Davis. Carlin and the inmates have taken away the reins of power from the officers and prison authorities over this tragic event and are letting it be known that they have gone too far. They take over the dining room and destroy everything inside it.
The next scene is one of Carlin, Archer and another inmate, Meakin being dragged bleeding and barely conscious into solitary confinement. The prisoners exerted their power and now its been reasserted by the authorities in the way it knows best- through violence and brutality.
This power struggle is a staple of the prison genre but in this case life seems to imitate art. Just as Carlin and crew are intent on engaging in a power struggle for control with their captors and their superiors the programme makers had to endure the same. Authority in the guise of The BBC and Billy Cotton had spoken and expected that to be the final word on the matter.
Whilst the film version was almost identical to the Play For Today version there was one scene that was omitted. This scene saw Carlin ask a fellow prisoner to be ‘his missus’- a practice in which inmates would have a male sexual partner but only for their stay in detention. These inmates are also known as ‘gate gays’ in prison/borstal circles. This scene was left out of the film version of Scum and it could be argued that Carlin would be less of a role model to certain audience members because of it. Writer Roy Minton says that he felt it was a massive flaw of the film that the scene was left out as it shows a vulnerability to Carlin’s character. He also states that it was the actor depicting Carlin, Ray Winstone who persuaded Alan Clarke to omit the scene from the film.
However, as the film was a runaway success at the box office its power to upset members of the establishment was never diminished. The film was televised for the first time on the 10th June 1983 on the new ‘radical’ TV channel Channel 4. Its transmission upset no one except for one person: Mary Whitehouse.
Whitehouse was a campaigner who detested what she saw as the increasing wave of sex and violence within the media. She wanted a promotion of traditional Christian values in the arts especially within film (and video) and television. As you can tell she didn’t exactly like social change.
She found out that when Channel 4 televised the film version of Scum, a copy of the film hadn’t been sent to every member of the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority- a regulatory board) to see if it was suitable for broadcast. Rather the decision was handed to the board’s Director General. However in this case the Director General was also one of the founders of a prisoners trust and stated that he thought Scum was ‘a serious dramatic work based on tensions and violence that are a feature of a closed prison society’. He thought Scum was a serious work that needed to be seen by a wider audience. Whitehouse won the first private case against Channel 4 but lost on appeal when the case reached The House of Lords.
The previous year in 1982 The Criminal Justice Act eradicated borstals and replaced them with youth custody centres- this system was hoped to be less brutal or inhumane as the borstal system. Was this because of Scum? It may well have been.
Both the TV play and film versions of Scum are examples of gritty and uncompromising art that certainly pulled no punches. They are now available uncut on DVD and serve as a reminder to audiences of today that the not too distant past was tough on many levels and that serious lessons could be learnt from these times. Scum was such an important piece of work that social reform of the system it portrayed followed not long after its release. And all this from a TV play/film that the powers that be didn’t want audiences to see.
There are still many people who would love to see the brutal borstal system brought back and that a ‘short sharp shock’ is what the youth of today deserve. There was even a reality TV show centred around this idea. There are also members of the public whose first impulse on seeing something they don’t understand or approve of is to say ‘this should be banned’. The spirit of Mary Whitehouse certainly lives on. Be careful what you wish for.
I haven’t seen this since I was a kid and I loved it. Would this film still be as enthralling now that I was a world weary and cynical adult?
The film was made in 1958 and concerns a mysterious meteor that crash lands on Earth and releases a gelatinous type living organism that engulfs and eats anyone that gets in its blubberous path.
This film is gorgeous. From the nifty title sequence-
right through the to the locations used-
This film is as 1950’s America as apple pie, Coca-Cola and hamburgers. If Norman Rockwell made a sci-fi film this would be it.
The film also features the debut performance of a new young actor named Steve McQueen. He does a great job as the all American teen who is inquisitive, plucky but considerate.
Whilst the movie and its characters could sound like some kind of 1950s propaganda film regarding the wholesome American way of life the film is never cloying or irritating. The characters are quirky, likable and engaging.
You get the impression that was made for the drive ins and indeed it was. When it was originally released it was released as a double bill with I Married a Monster From Outer Space. But The Blob was quickly given a release all of its own as soon distributors felt that the film merited it. It certainly does- yes its shlock horror from the 50s but its one of the best examples of this and aesthetically its beautiful. It also captures perfectly a time in American history that was truly iconic.
The actual blob could be seen to signify the creeping growth of communism which was seen as the number one evil in America at this time. The most obvious signifier of this is that the blob is bright red. Also the way that the organism engulfs and takes over its prey is testament to that line of thought.
The films ending is also like some kind of wishful thinking- the characters in the film discover that the creatures doesn’t like the cold and so use fire extinguishers containing CO2 to destroy the monster. But the film is left open- there could be a sequel/reappearance of the threat of communism! Be afraid, be very afraid. In fact there was a sequel made called Beware The Blob in 1972 and directed by none other than Larry Hagman.
I wondered about the legacy of this film and if it was well respected in American culture and the medium of film specifically. And then I saw that it was- this is evident because it was released on Blu ray on the prestigious Criterion label in the States. High praise indeed and thoroughly deserved. This film is much more than just a classic movie- its a time capsule.
It surprised me to learn that fans of the Halloween series of films harshly judge Halloween 3: Season of the Witch as the runt of the litter. Yes, the film isn’t centred around Michael Myers but is it really worthy of the scorn poured on it by fans of the rest of the franchise?
I first saw it on video in 1984 when I was the tender age of 9. It was released in the midst of the whole Video Nasties furore and so was cautiously trimmed of any ‘excessive’ gore by Thorn EMI. The same company had garnered plenty of negative criticism as they had distributed the film The Burning on video. I saw this censored version of H3 but had no idea it was cut. The film was then shown on BBC1 who accidentally showed the full version. The full version blew my mind. I was so glad that I recorded the film on VHS on this occasion as the film was subsequently shown in its censored state after this.
There are many reasons to take this film to your bosom and love it unconditionally.
Firstly, the cinematography is by Dead Cundey who amongst other things also shot the original Halloween. His camerawork in this film ranks as some of his best. Panoramic landscapes, the eeriness of small town America and an incredibly brutal scene in a forensic laboratory that could have been from Halloween 2 are all shot beautifully.
The film’s soundtrack is by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth- if this is not enough to excite the most ardent horror fan then I don’t know what is. This soundtrack is one of the greatest film scores written by them and is in my humble opinion one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time. Synthesizers are used to chilling effect to convey a sense of constant doom that permeates the film and proceedings depicted therein. This score is essential. A few years ago it was released expanded and remastered- this is the definitive version. The jingle for the commercial used in the film will burrow its way into your brain and never leave.
The films cast are impressive also. The film’s villain is played by none other than Dan O’Herlihy a well respected award winning actor who had been nominated for an Academy Award years before. He was also in cult favourite Robocop.
The film’s leading man is Tom Atkins aka ‘The Man’. He is perfect for the role of the alcoholic tomcat Dr Dan Challis. He will be known to all fans of Carpenter’s work as he was in The Fog and Escape From New York. He makes for a flawed but likeable and convincing leading man.
The screenplay for the film is a thing of bizarre beauty- an evil Irish toymaker wishes to kill every child in America by using microchips containing particles of one of the stones from Stonehenge attached to each Halloween mask his factory makes. A special commercial shown on Halloween night will activate the deadly microchip on each mask and melt the wearer’s brains into a mass of spiders, snakes and creepy crawlies. OK, so this is also very far fetched but you just have to suspend disbelief and enjoy the film. I’m so glad I first saw the film when I was 9 rather than seeing it when I was a more cynical older age. Nigel Kneale of Quatermass fame helped write the first draft of the script but then asked for his name to be taken off it after the filmmakers decided to develop the film in ways he didn’t approve of. Apparently the final draft of the script is still mostly Kneale’s handiwork.
The film takes place in the fictional small town of Santa Mira. This is a reference to the movie Invasion of the Bodysnatchers which takes place in a small town with the same name.
Tommy Lee Wallace directs with the ease of an experienced filmmaker. Instead of making just another horror film to compete with the other horror movies being released that year he delivers a film that is gorgeous to look at whilst being atmospheric and best of all, scary as hell.
The film also makes some brilliant observations about consumerism (When Challis presents his kids with cheap Halloween masks hes bought they look disappointed and explain that their mother has bought them the more expensive Silver Shamrock versions) and the insularity and creepiness of small town America (check out the scene in which Challis and Ellie drive into Santa Mira for the first time).
All of these ingredients helped Halloween 3 to be more than another formulaic horror sequel. Something was created that was innovative, unique and scary as hell. Halloween fans hated the film as Michael Myers wasn’t in the film (even though he was briefly ho ho ho) and dismissed the film before it had even been released. I bet a lot of the most vocal detractors of the film haven’t even seen it. If the film had just been released under the name of Season of the Witch it would have fared better with horror fans- but ironically may have fared much worse at the box office as it didn’t have the Halloween moniker. A Catch 22 situation.
Whilst the film has its detractors its also has its fans. They seem to love the film even more because of its reputation and because its far from being the cinematic trainwreck that some people will have you believe.
I agree with these fans and am smug in the knowledge that we know that Halloween 3 is great. In fact I think its ones of the best horror films of the 80s. The franchise fans who detest H3 are the ones who like the sequels that featured Michael after this- even the one that stars Busta Rhymes. If this isn’t the biggest backhanded compliment for H3 fans then I don’t know what is.
I first saw this amazing piece of nighttime New York craziness on VHS like many other cult cinema fans. The first video releases here in the UK were the kind of films that were supposed to appeal to a young demographic and so action, horror and sexy coming of age comedies were all widely available and marketed with gawdy, lurid artwork. This made going to the video store such a brilliant experience.
It contains one of the best opening scenes for a film ever- the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island all lit up with the darkest most twisted analogue synth you’ll ever hear over it. This film concerns the gang known as The Warriors travelling into the heart of New York to go to a gang summit wherein the leader (Cyrus) of the most powerful gang lays out a plan for the gangs who outnumber the police to take over the city. This would have been a brilliant premise for a film anyway but then Cyrus is shot and word spreads (via the guilty party) that it was actually The Warriors who are responsible. And so they have to make their way home unscathed. So already this film deserves kudos- to take a plotline and completely eschew it in favour of a completely different story. Inspired.
The film plays like some very dark and nightmarish comic book set in the near bankrupt and life-endangering New York of the 70s. Each gang has its own identity complete with dress, hairstyles and, sometimes make-up (check out the uncredited gang in the opening sequence who are dressed and made up as evil clowns). I love the depiction of New York as completely crime-ridden and downright dangerous. The Big Apple is rotten to the core. This was also evident in the opening credits of The Equaliser
The film also depicts the danger of youth in the same way that A Clockwork Orange does. In the eyes of the right wing tabloid readers the teenagers of the world are running rampant and are responsible for almost every crime under the sun. This would also be evident in some of the Public Information Films from the 70s
This film also contains one of my favourite scenes from any of the films I’ve ever seen. The Warriors finally make it onto a subway train after having to literally fight their way there. This short scene says more than a dozen sociology books could try to convey.
The film was released and was an instant hit. It grossed $3.5m in its opening weekend. However there were incidences of violence between real life gangs who went to see the film. It has been noted-
”The following weekend the film was linked to sporadic outbreaks of vandalism and three killings — two in Southern California and one in Boston — involving moviegoers on their way to or from showings.
This prompted Paramount to remove advertisements from radio and television completely and display ads in the press were reduced to the film’s title, rating and participating theaters. In reaction, 200 theaters across the country added security personnel. Due to safety concerns, theater owners were relieved of their contractual obligations if they did not want to show the film, and Paramount offered to pay costs for additional security and damages due to vandalism.
Hill later reflected, “I think the reason why there were some violent incidents is really very simple: The movie was very popular with the street gangs, especially young men, a lot of whom had very strong feelings about each other. And suddenly they all went to the movies together! They looked across the aisle and there were the guys they didn’t like, so there were a lot of incidents. And also, the movie itself is rambunctious — I would certainly say that.”
The film would go on to make $16.4 million at the box office- far more than the budget it was made on.
Eagle eyed cineastes may have seen in the film American Gigolo that there is a huge billboard advertising The Warriors in LA. This appears to have been crossed out by another gang who have initialed their handiwork as VGV.
This was actually a piece of cross-film advertising by the same studio Paramount who had a West Coast gang film out at the same time called Boulevard Nights.
To go even further Paramount actually started showing double-bills of the Warriors and American Gigolo in selected cities around this time. This is a brilliant but puzzling double-bill.
Rather bafflingly the film was also a favourite of President Ronald Reagan. Did he not see any echoes between the nightmarish vision of New York crime and the real New York?
If you’re going to watch this film please look for the original version rather than the Director’s Cut in which the director felt the need to insert comic book style panels. Mr Hill- we all already knew the film was intended read like a very dark comic book. Please don’t patronise us.
I’ve just heard thats theres a new 4K print of Jeff Lieberman’s cult classic Blue Sunshine that is being shown in cinemas in the US. This thrills me for a number of reasons- firstly, its a kick ass film and fully deserves the 4K treatment. Also, its being shown in cinemas and so an audience will be given the opportunity of seeing this masterpiece on the big screen. Finally, the fact that this relatively obscure film is being given a 4K restoration is fantastic. I honestly thought that it would be the already recognised classics of cinema that would get this kind of attention and not brilliant low budget cult films.
I first heard about the film through my love of the pop group Siouxsie and the Banshees. In 1983 whilst Siouxsie and Budgie were getting all back to nature with The Creatures, Steven Severin and Robert Smith were watching video nasties and going on adventures of the chemical variety. The name for their group was The Glove and they named their album Blue Sunshine. I read in an interview that they had taken that name from a film.
In 1994 I left home to go to University in London. The week after I arrived I saw that the National Film Theatre were showing the film. I eagerly went along and was amazed at how disturbing yet funny this film was. A group of hippies decide to drop a new strain of acid called Blue Sunshine in the late 60s. Ten years to the day that they did this they lose all their hair and become homicidal maniacs. In the film this happens to one person whilst hes in a disco. Genius.
I hope this 4K restoration is transferred to Blu ray. I hope more underground cinema gets this treatment.
I remember as a kid being obsessed by the posters on display outside my local Odeon cinema. And not just the posters but also the lobby cards underneath showing various scenes from the films. These were the days before posters were stringently censored in the same way that films were in the UK (and yes, posters were altered if they were deemed to be too graphic. The poster for A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 was just a black affair as the original featured Freddy Krueger in full eye-splitting technicolour. The poster for Reanimator featured a severed head and this was also altered so that the back of the head could be seen rather than the face as it lay in a metal tray).
I remember some time in 1979 seeing this poster for a double bill of The Incredible Melting Man and The Savage Bees. I was 4 years old.
If anything caused me the most nightmares as a child it was this poster. It was like someone had just told me that there were many dangers in the world and that we were all fucked. And I loved it. There was a darker underbelly to life and the door to that had just been opened for me at an early age by a B-movie double bill poster.
I’ve seen both films and both are brilliant. The Incredible Melting Man has a gorgeous transfer onto Blu ray by the ever excellent Scream Factory. But what has happened to The Savage Bees? If this was also to get the Scream Factory Blu ray treatment I’d be ecstatic.