Hey Look at This! – Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland

Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland is a documentary about Empire International, one of my favorite ’80s B-Movie studios, and it’s currently looking for some funding on Kickstarter. In general I’m not one to write posts about Kickstarters (I’d have A LOT to write about if I was!), but in this case I felt like it was my duty. As you may be aware, I’m years deep into a review series of the entire Empire International/Full Moon/Charles Band catalog. So naturally when a documentary is proposed, focused specifically on the most cinematically interesting period of Band’s career, I’m interested. Oh, and it has “never-before-seen footage, production stills, and rare glimpses at the motion pictures that were in development when the studio was dramatically seized by the bank”? Sounds fantastic!

The Empire years were home to some of the best films that Charles Band had a hand in making, including classics like Re-Animator, Troll and Trancers, as well as lesser-known Silver Emulsion favorites like Ghoulies 1 & 2, Ghost Warrior and Robot Jox. Producing a plethora of varied, imaginative films in just a few years, Empire ended up going bankrupt while still in production on many films. This led directly into the creation of Full Moon at the dawn of the direct-to-video market, as a last chance effort by Band to save his company. These years are ripe with great films, and I imagine the stories about making them are just as great. I mean, as a fan of FX work how can you not get excited by this rare shot from behind-the-scenes of Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond!

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I’m specifically interested in the company’s implosion, and I have high hopes that Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland can shed some light on exactly what happened and why. I’ve heard it was due to the ever-growing budget for the amazing stop-motion and FX work on Robot Jox, but I have my doubts that this was the only factor. There were also many films announced, or cancelled somewhere along the line in production that I hope to hear more about, too.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland Kickstarter!

Discussion: The Spike Lee Kickstarter

kickstarter

I love the idea behind crowdfunding. A way to give money directly to the people I want to make something I’ve wanted for many years? Sign me up! I’ve backed a number of nostalgia-driven gaming projects, everything from the Tim Schafer Double Fine Adventure game that kickstarted Kickstarter into our hearts, to the current campaign for a new game from ex-cop and game designer Jim Walls, the creator of Sierra’s Police Quest series that I grew up playing and continue to adore well into my adulthood. While these projects are working against all kinds of unrealistic expectations, I still backed them heartily, just for the chance to see my old favorites do their damnedest to make another game along similar lines as their previous work. After all, humans are never satisfied and we always want “just one more.”

The Spike Lee Kickstarter campaign has generated a lot of anger from the Internet, as people call Spike out for being too rich to be on Kickstarter. Many believe Kickstarter is a platform solely for struggling nobodies to possibly achieve a shot at the American dream of financial independence… if their idea and pitch are good enough. “Spike’s already had his chance and years of success,” they say, “he should move aside for someone new.” But despite the waves of negativity that the Internet trades in, Spike’s Kickstarter pledges continue to grow. I have no doubt that his campaign will achieve its goal and we’ll all be getting another truly independent joint from one of the most divisive filmmakers around.

Continue reading Discussion: The Spike Lee Kickstarter →

Reboot (2012)

Starring Emily Somers, Travis Aaron Wade, Martin Copping, Sonalii Castillo, Janna Bossier, Troy Vincent, Charlie Weirauch, Traci Moslenko, Justin M. Via

Directed by Joe Kawasaki

Expectations: High, the trailer was great.


In the modern age, horror films rarely scare or provide anything we haven’t seen before. The genre has moved into satiating viewers with extreme, sadistic pleasures, instead of interesting ideas and fun scares. But in Reboot, Joe Kawasaki’s Kickstarter-funded, cyberpunk short film, he sets his sights on something truly horrific: Internet terrorism. I have no idea if what is outlined in the film is actually possible, but the idea alone is frightening. Reboot isn’t truly a horror film, but its implications will haunt your thoughts for days as you log into your social media accounts and take it all for granted.

Reboot begins with an intro reminiscent of Koyaanisqatsi, showing us wonderful time-lapse photography of Los Angeles while a radio interview with a couple of hackers plays over the top of it. This intro goes on a little longer than I think it needed to, but it does set up the premise of the film incredibly well. When the title card drops at the end of the intro, and we fade into our heroine lying on the floor with an iPhone glued to her hand, we know exactly the implications of the situation she’s in.

Continue reading Reboot (2012) →

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