Slipstream is a 1988 post apocalyptic sci-fi adventure directed by Steven Lisberger (Tron). It boasts an impressive ensemble including Mark Hamill, Bob Peck, Bill Paxton, Ben Kingsley and F Murray Abraham...
And so I was a bit miffed to look at the Payless dvd release of the film.
Payless are a small distribution company who pick up film rights for a pittance and release them cheaply... i.e. $2 each. The films are generally of a low quality without any remastering and in most cases they're just video transfers.
It is also apparent that Payless aren't too keen on homework either because if they had done a bit of it they would have capitalised on the aforementioned cast of players as part of their design... instead the dvd features an image that I still can't put to any film I know of and credits actors including Jim Baxes, Tony Bill, Roger Ernest and Peter Maffia. Furthermore it showcases Steven Spielberg as the director.
Had Payless performed the simplest of Google searches they would have realised that Spielberg attempted to make a film called Slipstream in the late 60s but it never came to fruition. That film does not exist..... or does it? o_0
I have been hammered with a flu for over a week now. I can't seem to shake it and it's starting to piss me off. To give you an idea of just how scattered this damn virus has made me, last night at 1:30AM I raided the kids section of my movie collection and decided to watch Air Bud. Ah-huh... Air Bud. I am a huge fan of family films but this brand of movie is generally NOT my thing. It is an absolute testament to my illness that I (sigh) enjoyed it. I had to double-take when I read that the director was none other than Charles Martin Smith. This is the same guy who starred in the amazing Never Cry Wolf as well as The Untouchables and American Graffiti. He also directed the cult horror flick Trick Or Treat. What the hell is he doing behind the camera of Air Bud?
20 minutes into the movie and my meds had obviously kicked in (hard) because I was enjoying it. A gorgeous golden retriever dog wearing basketball shoes and shooting hoops. Adorable! Wait, did I just say that? I was engaging with this movie way too much and at the one hour mark I was desperate for some kind of vindication. I needed to know that I wasn't tripping and so I hit google. To my relief I found a video of Siskel & Ebert reviewing Air Bud and they also enjoyed it. Okay so there might be something to this. I normally need kids around me to actually enjoy this brand of movie... but to be thoroughly entertained, alone in the middle of the night, was perplexing.
Super Buddies - Coming Soon
So then I thought "fuck it" and just watched the damn thing. Yay for me! What an ingenious little franchise, huh? To date Air Bud has churned out a highly lucrative franchise. Extending beyond Aid-Bud is a spin-off series of SEVEN Air Buddies movies featuring Bud's puppies (they talk) as well as a prequel series called Santa Paws. We might ridicule such a legacy but what I wouldn't give to be one those raking in the cha-ching. These movies now flow direct-to-dvd and VOD and dominate the children's market. They are guaranteed to perform in the 5-10 year demographic with each instalment almost immediately demanding another one.
We can laugh about the Air Bud series but lets face it, we're just jealous that we didn't think of it. Of course if my head wasn't so doped up on medication, this article would be completely different.
This is another short story I've had published on the Oz Horror Con website. Make sure you visit them for a heap of other Aussie horror related material.
From Little Things...
I have recently taken part in a tag-team short story game for the Oz Horror Con website. Each writer continues the story from a previous entry. I am part of Team Yellow. You can check out the whole project by visiting the website, however, this is my segment. The subject is "Writer's Block"... Be warned... it's graphic!
… like putrid, fleshy acid-drop. “Snap out of it” she said to herself. “Focus”, she kept repeating. Ironically her imagination was the exact thing that prolonged her agonising writer's block. These manifestations might be inspiring a creativity in her but the lines between reality and fantasy were beginning to blur. With her hands still perched on the keys, the taste of maggot grew stronger in her mouth. Regardless of it being a mind-fuck she felt sick from it and made a dash upstairs to the kitchen. With one hand on the sink she used the other to squeeze a glob of detergent into her mouth. The anticipation of a bitter, soapy relief betrayed her as a revolting, pungent flavour took command. Looking up at her reflection in the window she was struck with horror. Her entire body chilled and her senses numbed as her jaw fell into a horrified gasp, and at that moment she stared in disbelief at a slug that pulsated on her tongue. After a moment of comprehension she spat it out and it landed on her goddamn arm. What the fuck was happening and why the fuck was this thing starting to gnaw it's way into her flesh? With a quick panic she clambered for whatever she could use to get this thing off and with a potato peeler she pressed firmly into her skin and dragged the blade along the length of her arm. Like an apple being peeled, her flesh curled over, revealing a white that immediately saturated with red. Bringing the peeler back to the top she motioned for a second swoop, forcing the blade along her arm again. Swirls of blood ran down the drain and strips of meat stuck to the basin. With the slug boring deeper she clutched her arm to tear away the flesh ... but her arm was healed. For all but a few scratches she was fine. What insanity was this and why wasn't it revealing itself on paper? She felt possessed, as though a sadistic writer lived in her mind and taunted her. These ideas were so visceral that any other writer would embrace them... but Jennifer couldn't. They terrified her.
We lost another pioneer. This morning I woke to the news that special fx man Ray Harryhausen had passed away. At 92 years of age he, without a doubt, left a huge impact on this world and while his death is incredibly sad, I think this is a moment to celebrate a man whose work inspired and influenced generations of people.
One of my biggest irks when watching classic films is people who laugh at the old stop-motion sequences... a bit of respect goes a long way, people! Look at the duelling skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts or King King on top of the Empire State Building... these are ingenious effects and if it weren't for them, cinema wouldn't be where it is now. His work tapped into the inner child in everyone and unleashed a sense of wonder in even the most hard-boiled of personalities.
And his legacy lives on. We see it all the time in filmmakers like Tim Burton, Robert Rodriguz, Steven Spielberg and countless others. If it weren't for Ray, we wouldn't have them. George Lucas released a statement overnight and said "Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars" Quite right!
And so those who thought classic special fx to be hokey and bad, I recommend looking at them with a new set of eyes and a renewed sense of wonder. Respect the man who made his dreams & nightmares a marvellous reality for the benefit of everyone.
There's an excellent interview with Jörg Buttgereit in the May issue of Fangoria. This snippet struck a chord with me and I thought I'd share it. Go out and grab a copy!!
"If I were to do a film like Nekromantik today, totally independent, my so-called fans would give me exactly 2 days to earn my money back. When Nekromantik came out on VHS, it cost 100 marks, which is like 50 dollars. That was the only way to earn money back, by selling video tapes. So bootlegging, YouTube, etc. always hurt people who work independently. And that’s why I’m sticking to theatre at the moment. Because you can’t bootleg a stage play." - Jörg Buttgereit
What’s happened to the art of movie posters?
Promotional material for films used to be creative, artistic and engaging. Right up until the late 80s most poster art was hand drawn... from the silent era of Birth of a Nation to modern classics like Jaws, The Goonies and Star Wars...
These days we’re suffering boring, mundane and generic posters. I'm in Australia where the quality is far worse than anywhere else and you only have to check out the region 4 dvds of Just Friends, You Me & Dupree and Georgia Rule to see what I’m saying.
So what does this say about us? Have we come to a point in evolution where we accept mediocricy as a standard? (this spans a lot of mediums) It’s concerning that the bland stamping of poster art is appealing to people. I mean surely its working otherwise the marketing department wouldn’t do it, right!?? A friend of mine directed a film a few years ago and shopped it around at festivals with some really creative artwork. When he eventually sold the film to Fox they insisted that the point-of-sale artwork be dumbed down in order to sell. The result was hideous.
Am I alone?
And then when we do get some impressive looking movie posters, they're all so goddamn generic!
Check out all of these examples below. Individually we look at these and think "Wow!" but I can recall thinking that exact same "Wow!" over and over and over.