Camp David


By • Nov 27th, 2003 •

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One of the pleasures of living in Hollywood is having access to the gorgeous Egyptian Theater and the many great programs made available through the American Cinemateque. Since the last Camp David the landmark has played host to a once in a lifetime series of 3-D films, some shown for the first time in 50 years! The classic HOUSE OF WAX opened the event and was an instant sellout. I personally saw nearly half a dozen films in less than a week! Who could pass up a chance to see IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE with author Ray Bradbury and Barbara Rush in attendance? Not to mention THE MAD MAGICIAN with Vincent Price, GORILLA AT LARGE, with the then-unknown Lee Marvin in a minor role, the deliriously campy CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON and the cult classic ROBOT MONSTER. Both CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and its rarely -seen sequel REVENGE OF THE CREATURE with Lori Nelson in-person recalling her encounter with the Gill Man and a special screening of Ivan Tors “GOG” shown in 3-D for the first time in Los Angeles since it opened half a century ago. There were stunning prints of KISS ME KATE with new footage and the ultra camp THE FRENCH LINE with Howard Hughes protégé Jane Russell!! The posters of the time simply said “JR in 3-D. I am hoping that next year the series will return with the remaining titles to have the honor of having shown all the 3-D ever made in two amazing events.

Since every day is Halloween in Tinsel town it is hard to know exactly when to take the costumes off, yet the Cinemateque held a séance on October 18th to summon the late Sid Grauman, who founded the Egyptian in 1922 with the premiere of Robin Hood starring Fairbanks Sr. Thanks to Margot Gerber who made it possible for me to attend, and Dennis Bartok who keeps me posted on all the fun over at the Egyptian, I was present as psychic Michael J. Kouri led the packed house in looking for Haunted Hollywood in all the right places. My favorite moment was a screening of ‘Mickey’s Gala Premiere” a vintage cartoon that had more stars than there were in the heavens – a real hoot! A party was held in the forecourt with cocktails and exotic ice creams for such guests as director Curtis Harrington, master of the unknown Mark Wilson, actress Ann (WAR OF THE WORLDS) Robinson and a score of occult personalities all waiting for the evening to take them further into Haunted Hollywood. For more information for those of you coming to LA please log on to WWW.EGYPTIANTHEATRE.COM and catch some of the outstanding programs yet to come.

In the past the subject of Hercules meant the campy films of Steve Reeves made in Italy during the sixties before and after the Taylor/Burton CLEOPATRA. There is a new Hercules in town and his name is Kevin Sorbo and he has made the role his for the next generation of fans all over the world. Sorbo plays the role with a surfer’s cool and yet remains heroic much to his credit. I have put off watching this show and its spin-off Xena long enough and now thanks to Anchor Bay the entire series is being released on DVD and I recommend picking them up ASAP! The success of these shows most definitely rests with its producer, Sam Rami, the director behind the clever EVIL DEAD films and the mega hit SPIDERMAN. Both shows have witty scripts and first rate production values and it does not hurt that Hercules and Xena are shot on location in New Zealand, giving the show a LORD OF THE RINGS ambiance unlike anything else on television.

The new DVD presentation from Anchor Bay is jaw dropping! The first season has five feature films and 13 episodes with loads of extras. The second season has 24 episodes and more extras fans will flip over with lost scenes, blooper reels and much more. Hercules works so well in playing out the ancient myths with a contemporary sensibility and actor Sorbo is tailor-made to play it with just the right amount of humor and having a great time to boot! His interplay with actor Michael Hurst as Iolaus is so natural obviously they have a chemistry that works both on and off the set.

Lucy Lawless came to the Hercules series as a featured performer and stayed to create another icon for syndication history. She invests her role with a hunky leather queen quality that makes her millions of fans go ape week after week. Kevin Sorbo has since moved on to Gene Roddenbury’s “Andromeda” series and will be a television staple for a long time to come. His fans will never forget his turn as the son of Zeus and thanks to Anchor Bay neither will the rest of us!

Curtis Harrington was profiled in the last Camp David with the completion of USHER, his return to avant garde film-making, and since then he was honored at The Getty Center along with Kenneth Anger and bay area film-maker Larry Jordan. The evening began with a screening of Harrington’s early work including FRAGMENT OF SEEKING and ON THE EDGE. Kenneth Anger was represented with his classic FIREWORKS and KUSTOM KAR KOMMANDOS. The two men were clearly prepared to summon all the ghosts of their shared experiences on a night when a good deal of Southern California was still on fire, which invested the evening with a somber magic that wove a spell over the Getty Center.

Larry Jordan’s VISIONS OF THE CITY addressed the Beat aspect of the program as the other two men were clearly on another level of reality from Jordan. His films rounded out the screening section of the tribute. Later the filmmakers were toasted at a cocktail party down the road from The Getty Center at a secluded hotel just off the omnipresent freeway that surrounds most of LA like a snake. During the cocktail party I was introduced to an up and coming young filmmaker named Jerry G. Angelo. He has just completed his first feature entitled GHOST SNIPER and displays a mature sensibility for a young man whose love of horror films endeared him to me and will serve him well in the currant marketplace of JEEPERS CREEPERS and 28 DAYS LATER. Mr. Angelo is an actor as well, recently working on several films while still editing his own project. It is reassuring to know that talent and good looks are still in vogue and hopefully Jerry will parlay them into Hollywood Gold.

One of my favorite films is a kinky Belgian vampire flick known as DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS, directed by the great Harry Kumel. Mr. Kumel only directed one other feature before returning to television in his native land. The second film is the enigmatic and rarely seen MALPERTUIS with Orson Welles and Mathieu Carriere, adapted from a novel by Jean Ray. I was so lucky to not only have seen this film in a first time director’s cut this year, but I am now in touch with Mr. Kumel and together we are trying to find a distributor to place this classic fantasy on DVD. Camp David readers will be the first to know when we do!!

Sadly, since my last column, actor Gordon Mitchell passed away at the age of 79. He sent me glowing emails regarding Camp David and sent pages to all his friends just two months ago. Gordon was a great guy and will be missed by his friends and fans all over the world. Look for my next Camp David before the Holidays.

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