Editorials

AUGUST EDITORIAL 2009

By • Aug 14th, 2009 •

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SLIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

Greg Lamberson

The train-ride up to Buffalo fell considerably short of the fun I thought it would be. When I purchased the ticket, I was told the duration of the journey would be eight hours, more or less the outside limit of my spine’s endurance level. I booked a seat in Business class which provided me with a plush seat, by myself, in the rear of the food car, where I could stretch out almost entirely if I wanted. It all boded well, particularly in a month, and on a day, that promised to rain heavily. The last place I wanted to be was on board a plane, gripping the arm-rests in terror, even if the flight was scheduled to last for a mere hour. I brought a book with me that I’d been meaning to get to for years – “The Horror Show” by David Skal – and looked forward to some relaxing down time by myself. Little did I know that I was boarding ‘Prison Train Amtrak!’

Three hours out, the iron horse glided to a halt, and we were informed that up ahead, due to torrential downpours, the tracks were actually underwater. To protect its beloved passengers, Amtrak had decided to sit tight for a while.

Two hours later they informed us that they were considering sending buses to take us to our destinations.

One hour after that, they announced that we were going to start moving again…very slowly.

The trip ended up taking twelve hours. I arrived in Buffalo at 10:30 p.m., having missed a fun meal with my host, filmmaker/author Greg Lamberson, and was hastily deposited in the “Actor’s House”, a rental in Buffalo’s college district to accommodate out-of-towners while the film was shooting, where I spent the night on a partially deflated air-mattress, submitting my aching back to further torment.

Miraculously, things turned around the next morning after I was transported to the location, a massive abandoned postal facility adjacent to the Central Terminal Station, long fallen into disrepair, its cavernous interior dotted with rays of sunlight where the roof had collapsed, illuminating the terrain of dirt, broken glass, and other rubble, amongst all of which I was to play my role – that of real estate developer Ronald Crump (yes, rhymes with…), the villain of SLIME CITY MASSACRE. A sequel to the1988 no-budget black comedy cult favorite, it was a very different kind of production. Dolly tracks were being laid down. Steadicam activity was in full swing. Remarkably sharp Hi Def digital photography was on display. An adequate and upbeat crew had been assembled. Excellent actors were in abundance (there were good thesps in the original, too, but there were more of them here). Everything was ramped up from the 80s version. I was thrilled at what I was seeing, and so, apparently was everyone else.

The Editor with Jennifer Bihl

Memorization has never been one of my strong suits. I’d been running the lines for two weeks, and each day maybe two or three more words would take hold in my brain. But as soon as I stepped onto my mark and began rehearsing with my co-actor, Andrew, who was playing Crump’s beleaguered lackey, things fell into place. Not only did we hit it off and get the scenes down, we felt confident enough to engage in a little spirited improv. When my three scenes were behind me, I actually believed I’d fulfilled Greg’s faith in my limited abilities. Starring as a potential slime-head was Jennifer Bihl. In the accompanying picture, she wears a black arm bandage that everyone was referring to as her lobster-hand, but which reminded me of David Hedison’s fly-arm in the original 1958 Sci-Fi classic. Her face reminded me of a cross between Anna Pacquin and….

…on second thought, why don’t I let you say who else she reminds you of. And the first several people to do so will receive a three-and-a-half-film DVD collection of Greg’s film work till now: SLIME CITY, UNDYING LOVE, NAKED FEAR, and the short, JOHNNY GRUESOME.

BILL LUSTIG’S”B” FEST AT THE ANTHOLOGY

In a booking coup, Bill (MANIAC, MANIAC COP, + Blue Underground DVD mogul) Lustig and the bookers at Anthology Film Archives on the Lower East Side assembled a slew of juicy titles unseen on DVD to date, worthy of release, and sorely missed. The fact that they deal in violence, sexuality, and other exploitative elements, doesn’t negate their aesthetic value, as was pointed out by Heywood Gould, the co-screenwriter of ROLLING THUNDER, who regaled the sold-out audience with tales of that film’s often volatile production.

The quality of the prints varied. 35mm, but fading. 16mm, but color holding. Technicolor 16mm, but splicey at heads and tails. The audiences didn’t seem to mind. They were just thrilled to be reliving the thrills of those rare prints – mostly made in the early to mid-70s. THE OUTSIDE MAN, SITTING TARGET, THE OUTFIT, WELCOME HOME SOLDIER BOYS, THE STONE KILLER and DARKER THAN AMBER to name some other standouts.

Judging from the crowds, there’ll be a sequel next year. I’m putting in my vote for DARK OF THE SUN, a film whose negative, I hear (directly from the source at MGM) is damaged, so a print will have to be found elsewhere, as some of these have.

BRIT NOIR AT THE FILM FORUM

Across town on the West Side, Bruce Goldstein, the Film Forum‘s Director of Repertory Programming, has put together a comprehensive month-long program of Brit Noir double bills. The range of titles is staggering, and the high point occurs on September 3rd when NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH shows, accompanied by a personal appearance from the original U.S. distributor, Producer Richard (FIEND WITHOUT A FACE) Gordon, and the film’s villain, Richard Nielson, at the 6:30 show.

Other titles range from the famous – THE THIRD MAN and THE FALLEN IDOL (Carol Reed), THE SMALL BACK ROOM (Powell/Pressburger), NIGHT AND THE CITY (Jules Dassin), VICTIM (Basil Deardon), to the unjustly obscure – IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY(Robert Hamer), THE OCTOBER MAN (Roy Ward Baker), THE GREEN COCKATOO (William Cameron Menzies), HELL DRIVERS (Cy Enfield). Great noir gems, wonderful directors. Three by Carol Reed, two by Michael Powell. The Brit GASLIGHT, directed by Thorold Dickinson, has more energy than the U.S remake, and it stars Anton Walbrook! The schedule is available on line. Do not let them slip by.

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6 Responses »

  1. Regarding the Bill Lustig fest at the Anthology: With THE STONE KILLER, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN and WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER BOYS on the schedule, maybe it should’ve been called “The Paul Koslo Film Festival!” My first choice for next year’s lineup? LOLLY-MADONNA XXX, another Koslo classic. I can’t believe I missed every screening, but it was a very busy week for me. Even though I have all of the films that were shown on DVD-R, it would’ve been a blast to see them on the big screen.

  2. I feel your your travellers anguish.

    As I Tried to escape from the week long stay in the house of horrors in which I was held captive in washington State,the ever so efficient and affectionate people of United Airlines thought that they should continue the nightmare with a 30 hour cross country journey in which thoughts of REACHING the GATES TO PARADISE WITH MY METRO CARD Giving ACCESS TO THE filthy dirty F train in the hot month of August dANCED gleefully IN MY HEAD.

    I saw Bill Lustig at the New York City Horror Film Festival a few years ago and he used profanity in such a manner that it shokced a hardcore audience as he gave his review of Domino with the enchanting Keira Knightly. He said it was the biggest pile of “poop” and verbally slaughtered anyone, ANYONE who worked on the film including the caterer.

    As for your on-screen COUNTERPART, SHE RESEMBLES A CROSS between SWimone Simon in THE cat people poster and Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters as she calls upon the ageless man-boy, Rick Moranis.

  3. That trai ride sounds like a nightmare! Hope your book made it at least slightly bearable. And as for Miss Jen Bihl, gotta agree with what I’ve hear suggested before and say that she looks frightening similar to Mary Huner from the original Slime City set.

  4. Mila Jovovich? the late Wendy O. Williams?… the eyes DO put me in mind of Sigourney Weaver as the gatekeeper in GHOSTBUSTERS… and maybe the actress from the first HOWLING, Was her name Dee Wallace?

  5. Mila Jovovich? …and maybe Dee Wallace from THE HOWLING

  6. For some reason, she also reminds me of Jennifer Beals. But definitely a young Jennifer Beals. Of course, it’s probably that her name is so close that’s making me think that. Also, Betty Boop in a strange way.

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