Saturday, 30 June 2012

Blogger, it's been fun.

Honest it has, and it's entirely you, not me.
But our relationship must come to an end, your inherent html problems are just something I can no longer put up with and understanding them drives me to drink.
It's just not healthy for either of us.

I bid you a fond farewell.
Hugs and curses,
Cigarette Burns.

Dear friends of Cigarette Burns,
We love you more than can be expressed and would like you to continue to be our friend over here:

Update your bookmarks and the like.

The new blog is a work in progress, so bear with it.

Eastbound and proud - East End Film Festival Cult round up.

In addition to our own little contribution to The East End Film Festival's Cine-East fringe, the EEFF has gone and programmed a slew of other interesting genre films including the must see TETSUO Double Bill. 
Without doubt, London's cinematic landscape is becoming more and more exciting, relevant and challenging with every day that passes. Get on board, go outside the confines of whatever you think film is, and support those that work to bring you cinemagic. 

EEFF 2012 is delighted to present restorations of Shin’ya Tsuakamoto’s twisted cyberpunk classics
Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuo II:Body Hammer, as well his latest film: the stunning, disturbing
Kotoko. The work of a singular filmmaker often compared to David Cronenberg, not to be missed on
the big screen.


TETSUO: IRON MAN (Shin’ya Tsukamoto, 1989, London Premiere)
A strange man known only as the ‘metal fetishist’ is hit and seemingly killed by a Japanese ‘salaryman’, who then begins to be slowly overtaken by a strange disease that transforms his body into scrap metal, a process guided by his own rage and frustration. Shin’ya Tsuakamoto’s cyberpunk classic is presented here in a brand new restoration.
Screening from 6pm, Saturday 4th July, Hackney Picturehouse.
Details Here

TETSUO II: BODY HAMMER (Shin’ya Tsukamoto, 1992, London Premiere)
Tsukamoto’s sequel to Tetsuo sees his Iron Man transforming into a cyberkinetic gun after a gang of vicious skinheads kidnap his son. Eventually captured himself, they begin experimenting on him only to speed up the mutative process. As powerful, twisted and singular as the first instalment, ‘Tetsuo: The Body Hammer’ is again introduced in a brand new restoration, with Tsukamoto in attendance, in an unmissable double bill.
Screening from 6pm, Saturday 4th July, Hackney Picturehouse.
Details Here

KOTOKO (Shin’ya Tsukamoto, 2011, London Premiere)
A single mother, played by Japanese singer Cocco, suffers from double vision that speaks of wider instability, and as she slowly loses grip on reality, struggles to protect both her child and herself. Or perhaps they really are out to get her. Legendary provocateur Shin’ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo: The Iron Man, see page 20) returns to his best with another tale of dizzying psychological descent.
Screening 8.30pm, Sunday 5th July, Rich Mix.
Details Here

THE LEGEND OF KASPAR HAUSER(Davide Manuli, 2012, UK Premiere)
Kaspar Hauser is reimagined as an androgynous woman washing up on a Mediterranean island,
kicking off a war between the Sheriff and the Pusher, both played by Vincent Gallo. Davide Manuli’s
barmy Techno Western is a tale of faith, suspicion and flying saucers set to the thudding beats of
techno behemoth Vitalic; the sort of astonishing experience modern cinema rarely manages anymore.
Screening 9pm, Friday 6th July, Hackney Picturehouse. 
Details Here

CARRE BLANC (Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, 2011, UK Premiere)
Jean-Baptiste Leonetti’s debut is a gravely stylish vision of a dystopian future France; a society
run by a mysterious caste system that turns those who fail in an arbitrary, Kafkaesque “game” into
hamburgers. Phillipe, a man on his way up, is ultimately forced to choose between his meteoric rise
and his marriage in this cult classic in the making.
Screening 11.30pm, Friday 6th July, Rio Cinema. 

Welcome the the EEFF’s very own X-Files – an unsettling selection of 8 shorts about all things supernatural and uncanny. We’ll be opening our secret vault to unleash invisible demons, abductive aliens, cursed children, zombie mums, possessed walls, haunted submarines, Canadian goat people and a lady who swears she sees dead people. Join us – the truth is out there.
Screening 11.30pm, Saturday 7th July, Rio Cinema. 
Details Here

See you folks East. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Hellbound and determined, Grant Davies of Hot Dog Cinema takes a look at the first half of the Hellraiser series. Does he find pleasure or pain?

An erotic tour-de-force in horror cinema, which is all the more astounding given that this was Clive Barker’s directorial debut.  The film is about man’s search for the dizzy heights of the ultimate physical experience; it’s about an unyielding passion and the exotic refinement of pain & pleasure. This is truly what is meant by adult and intelligent horror. “Hellraiser” also does something which many horror movies of the era failed to do – it bloody frightens you.

The Cenobite designs are fantastic and the script contains some choice-cuts of cerebral dialogue. Thankfully, ‘Pinhead’ is not the centre of the piece by any means.  Indeed, Doug Bradley is merely credited as the “Lead Cenobite”.  More importantly, Barker’s direction does not concentrate on our anti-hero Cenobites but rather on the motivations of our painfully dysfunctional cast. Here is where the film really excels and the performances of Claire Wiggins as the ‘evil stepmother’ character and Andrew Robinson as the ill-fated father are the best of the crop. The soundtrack too is a masterpiece, managing to stay hauntingly with you for hours afterward. Indeed, I have always thought that Christopher Young’s score epitomizes any discos that Hell has.

All in all, a visceral and articulate horror film which shows us where our darkest desires can lead.

Quintessential viewing.

Hellraiser 2: Hellbound

A bold sequel with an ambitious yet awfully muddled script. The gore factor here is much higher than in the original and there are some frankly horrific and disturbing sequences which could perhaps best be described as upwardly ‘nasty’.  Unfortunately, director Tony Randel doesn’t pull this one off at all and Hellbound collapses in on itself about half-way through proceedings amongst a plethora of absurd plot moves, incoherent story-telling and ridiculous special effects.

There are positives, such as stage-actor Kenneth Cranham’s portrayl of  the pleasure-seeking  ‘Dr Channard’ and Doug Bradley’s touching memories of ‘Pinhead’ in human-form. Such moments are regrettably few and far between in a film which foregoes the claustrophic  setting of family-life in Barker’s original in order to chase some broader ‘good VS evil’ plot device. For me, the film fails miserably in this vision and ends up being nothing more than a hugely disappointing collage of blood-soaked set-pieces.

Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth

This is a film which thrives on over-whelming violence and stunning visuals whilst watering-down the erotic mysticism of the earlier movies in the series. You get the feeling that Pinhead is edging closer to the standard cinema ‘boogeyman’ (Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers etc.) as his killing-spree becomes increasingly indiscriminate.  Nevertheless, Anthony Hickox’s direction is both fluid and punchy enabling the movie to hurl itself towards an aesthetically-pleasing  finale.  Doug Bradley’s performance as the human ‘Pinhead’ is great to watch and adds much-needed depth to a film which lacks the substance of Barker’s original premise.

All things considered, the magic of the first “Hellraiser” is a little lacking and we are left with a well-designed but sadly hollow shell of a movie. Despite this, the cynical professionalism of the film manages to land it way above “Hellbound” and many other genre efforts; meaning ‘Hell-on-Earth’ remains a well-made and entertaining franchise filler.

Hellraiser 4: Bloodline

The third – and last theatrically released - sequel in the ‘Hellraiser’ series begins in outer-space and acts as both prequel and sequel. As the former it’s an interesting take but as the latter it’s rather tame.  Surprisingly, ‘Bloodline’ is marginally better than you might expect and starts off with an impressively shot opening sequence involving a robot summoning the demon, ‘Pinhead’.

The movie is steeped in the mythos of LeMarchand’s Box (the box which opens the doorway to hell); and in fact, that box and the story of the family responsible for making the thing, are the stars of the film.  Horror film fans will no doubt recognise KimA Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 love-interest” Myers playing the wife of the latest in the cursed LeMarchand bloodline. In general though, the cast are dull and even the wonderful Doug Bradley’s one-liners are, by now, more annoying than playful.

Besides the usual spattering of gore, there isn’t that much to keep anyone but the die-hards interested.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Footprints On The Moon AKA Le Orme (1975)

Justin takes a look back at a long-lost gialli from the director of THE FIFTH CORD...

FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON is the type of giallo that fits more neatly into the psychological thriller mould, rather than the stalk-and-slash/black glove killer variety, where their motive is usually an inheritance or just plain insanity. The film places you inside the main character’s head, and asks: Is the paranoia all a sign of their madness, or is it all really happening? 

FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON tries to keep us in suspense about how our heroine will end up, and it all but fails at this. Conversely, what saves the film, and why the viewer is drawn into to watching, is down to the direction, cinematography, music, atmosphere, mood, and the way these elements are brought together.

Alice Cespi (Florinda Balkan) is translator who types notes for various scientists. She lives alone in a sleek, sparse, but modern apartment. When we are introduced to her she gets up, changes the date on her cube-shaped calendar, showers, makes coffee and gets to work typing up notes for the current scientist she is assigned to. She then picks up a friend from the airport on the way to work. While driving with her friend, Alice tells her about the recurring dreams she has been having concerning a man left on the moon by his fellow astronauts. She seems to think it was a film she saw a long time ago.

After she drops her friend off, that is the last we see of that character. She existed solely so Alice could relay the exposition about her dreams to someone. Alice then proceeds to the office to deliver the notes, where the secretary is quite short with her; telling her the other translator had taken over for her and already turned in the notes. It is then revealed that Alice has been gone for three days, yet she has no recollection of this and thinks it’s just the next day.

She refuses to believe it until the secretary points to the wall calendar to prove it. Alice then leaves, with the future of her job in question. She has lunch with another of her friends, Mary (Evelyn Stewart), who just like the previous friend is pretty much there as a sounding board. While talking with Mary Alice uncovers more memories of when she was at the conference three days prior, translating the speaker’s language into English into a recorder: it’s here that she undergoes a claustrophobic breakdown and runs out of one of the many recording booths overlooking the auditorium and the science complex.

Alice returns home and meets her maid, who asks about a grey dress that needs to be taken to the cleaners. They look through the closet, but there is no grey dress to be found: however, there is a yellow dress with a small spot of blood that neither of them remembers seeing before.

That night, she tries to go to sleep and envisions more black and white/sepia-toned scenes of Klaus Kinski as Dr. Blackmann, who it is revealed is running an experiment of some sort involving the abandoned astronaut, using extreme condtions to test emotional endurance, panic, and fear.

Alice wakes up from the nightmare and takes a tranquilizer, then brings out the ripped photo she found in her kitchen trash bin that morning. (Apparently, the maid didn’t feel like emptying it that day.) The photo is torn in four pieces that when put together show the exterior of a beautiful luxury hotel.

She decides to go there and packs her bags (including the yellow dress). She reaches the vacation island of Gambra and some of the people even recognize her, even though she insists this is the first time she has ever been there. It is around this point where we get the feeling of “been there, seen that.”

Alice talks with a few people around the hotel and beach resort, including little Paula (played by Nicoletta Elmi, ubiquitous child star of ‘70s Italian horror) who, when Alice introduces herself, claims that they have met before and Nicole is her real name.

Later , Paula says that she was mistaken, as Nicole has long red hair and is mean and unpleasant. Alice also talks to a older woman on the beach who might remember her and how Alice was frightened by the barely visible silhouette of a man in the distance where the woods meet the beach, not moving just watching her.

People give Alice tidbits of information before clamming up – they then later shed a bit more light on what she did or said those three days ago. Then there is the character of Peter, whom Alice had met previously when she first stepped off the ferry. Are his intentions good, or is he a part of her troubles? I won’t say, other than the resolution of his storyline ends in yet another cliche.

The ‘mysterious’ items in the film (i.e., the yellow dress, the yellow shoes, the long red wig, the gold comb), while they may add credence to the ‘doppleganger’ theory, are just as quickly dispersed of as the idea of  a doppleganger in general, because for all I could see there was very little emotional difference between Alice and Nicole.

Alice is strident at times, unsympathetic, cold (especially with Peter), to down right hysterical when yanking on poor Nicole’s arm when she refuses to answer a question.

Balkan, while a good actress in certain roles, was miscast for this film - the part needed someone with the ability to display the emotional and mental turmoil  Alice goes through with only a facial expression or gesture. Actresses that may have provided a better performance would have been Anita Strindberg, or perhaps Rosella Falk.
The film’s saving grace are its visuals, with the compositions and lighting being superb. The island is largely desolate, which just adds to the general isolation and creepiness.

In an exterior shot, where Peter has just dropped Alice off outside the hotel, the sky is a very dark blue. Night is almost here. We immediately cut to the interior of the hotel. Our view is from behind the front desk where an extremely bright round orange light dominates most of the left part of the screen, with the manager in the mid-ground and Alice in the back at the counter. This demonstrates not only the ability to contrast light and dark tones, but also a knowledge of colors, as well as the planes or layers you can use with the depth of field.

A similar image is when Alice is in her hotel room changing her clothes: in the extreme foreground we have another round light, glowing a yellowish orange. In the middle is the bed and standing behind the bed, lined up with the light, with her face half blocked is Alice.

The rest of the hotel is also lit beautifully, including the long, almost never ending corridors, and the immense dining room. The beach has a grey gloomy sky in a few scenes, which again contributes to a pervading sense of foreboding. Then there is Peter’s house, with an amazing stained glass window of a crane, light glowing through every multi-colored piece.

The very end of FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON comes so far out of left field that it is not so much that it does not fit with what story they trying to to tell, but rather someone said, “Okay, we have to end this thing. Still got those space suits?” It is just plain goofy, and I forgive a lot when it comes to Italian genre cinema. But not this.

Ultimately, I’d recommend spending your money on a copy of THE FIFTH CORD by the same director and cinematographer, as FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON is recommended only for gialli completists, fans of Luigi Bazzoi, and fans of Vittorio Storaro.