Friday, 2 May 2008

Tim Burton, Can You Hear Me?

What ever happened to the great terrible film? The one that was so bad that it was quite magnificent? Where you sat back stuffing your face with popcorn, hot dog or some confectionary treat and laughed your brains out just because of how implausible the plot, characters, even scenery were? And these films weren't particularly B-films because they had A-actors. They weren't Monster from the Third Moon's Eye, more like overly suspenseful attempts at making classic cinema. Like films written to be B, but somehow the acting and sometime the direction made you feel A.
For context, I am a major Vincent Price fan. I've adored him and his films since I was a child, I still have nightmares of the cat scratching the redhead's face in Tomb of Ligeia(spelling?), some vampire blood orgy thing and even his cameos on some Scooby-doo spinoff. I was fascinated by gothic horror, obsessing particularly with stories of vampirism, witchcraft and in general the supernatural relating with death. I used to carry around charms, Poe's works, etc. I was a very strange kid.
Anyways, no matter how hokey, how obvious, how melodramatic, I sat and still sit through all of the films with a smirk on my face and a glimmer of horrified excitement in my eyes. The best part was how Vincent Price seemed completely knowing of the thrill he gave to the audience, almost showboating his talent for the costume horror. In the Pit and the Pendulum, there is a gleaming in his eye as he plays the innocent, sweet son of the maniacal Inquisitor, as though he knows exactly what he is going to become in the last scene of the film and is excited for the twist. He relishes in the fact that both he and the audience know, while his fellow characters barely have a clue. His eyes smirk at the audience, playing for them as though we were in on some colossal joke. While Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Peter Lorre, even Lon Chaney, took their art in all complete seriousness, Price played with us, not saying he was dedicated to his craft. Actually, probably it is due to his dedication that we derive the sense of him playing for us out there in the dark, that as we leave the theater or the dark room, we imagine that he is lurking behind the door about to ask whether he could offer any refreshments.
I miss this sort of cinema. The closest Hollywood has today is probably Johnny Depp. And no, I'm not just following the indie or Pirate crowd. I think that Johnny Depp is one of the few actors who keeps in contact with his audience through the silver screen. He dares you to think that he is merely acting, that whatever role he has picked up is not actually just him on a day-to-day basis.
Someday, I really want to write a horrendous stomach-turner, not to imply Vincent Price or Johnny Depp have ever been in one, but... One where you keep asking the screen 'What the hell?' every three minutes. I want the twists to seem so obvious but every time you still jump a little in your seat or let out a guffaw or even laugh yourself silly. But then, I want the ending to be the ultimate terrible conclusion. I want the bad guy to win and definitely not in a good way. Not as some recrimination on society nor as some symbolically anti-Hollywood trick. But just for the amusement of seeing the audience glare at the credits and leave the theater feeling some emotion, whether it be annoyance, questioning, maybe even fulfilled. I hate how I have watched films and left feeling nothing. Feeling completely void as though I had just dozed off in front of the television again. That is exactly why we have films. To heighten emotions, to make us want to cry from the mountaintops, to leap up in the air for fear of a potentially deadly spider, to have us fall head over heels in love with a complete stranger, to be completely and deliriously happy over a slight change in plans...

This post's film recommendations:
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Tomb of Ligeia
Theatre of Blood
The Masque of the Red Death
Tales of Terror
The Libertine
Don Juan DeMarco
Ed Wood
Dead Man
Sweeney Todd
The Man Who Cried

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Prelude to an Asylum

Greetings world, or at least the small portion that will grace a glance at this blog.
I have never been that great at introductions. My passion in life is film, especially film actors. Someday, I hope to be a famous screenwriter. I would settle for just prolific, even infamously terrible. Currently, I'm working on a script that has been 'in process' for almost two years now, and by that I mean that I don't know how to end the damn thing. But, oh well, I'm only 18. Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 26, so I have nine years until I lapse into a depression of booze and Minstrels... Currently, I'm studying at the University of St Andrews, (yes, Prince William went here and no, I haven't spotted him on campus). This is my second blog. I lost the password to my other one, Feel free to glance at my previous ramblings about Hugh Jackman, Woody Allen and trends in Hollywood cinema.
But enough about me, we have the rest of this blog to hear about me and my latest obsessions, what about you, dear reader?