Today! “Return of the Living Dead” (1985) in BAMcinématek’s Dan O’Bannon Fest (Jun 19)

by on July 19, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

 

Movies that claim to be “based on a true story” seek an audience’s trust which movies with no claim to real events have already gained. These movies mark the discourse of past events and enter the ongoing record of collective memory. Generations have understood the life of Hollywood star Joan Crawford according to Mommie Dearest (1981), where scenes of unholy child-rearing stick in the head of pop memory. “That was amazing,” people say after watching Gandhi (1982, Richard Attenborough), “and you know, old India was really like that.”

 

The Return of the Living Dead (1985, Dan O’Bannon) is a zombie comedy, and its first gag is a solemn title card: “The events portrayed in this film are all true. The names are real names of real people and real organizations.” It’s July 3, 1984, at 5:30PM. Frank, a managerial pencil-pusher at a medical supply warehouse, is showing the ropes to Freddy, an eager young 1980’s punk. In the walk-in freezer where “fresh cadavers” are kept for Army ballistics tests, Frank lets Freddy in on a secret. “Did you ever see that movie the Night of the Living Dead?” Sure, Freddy has seen it, and so has most of the audience. But, Frank asks, “Did you know that movie was based on a true case?”

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Tuesday Editor’s Pick: Return of the Living Dead (1985)

by on July 18, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Tue July 19 at 4:30, 6:50, 9:15 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]

 

BAM concludes its inspired tribute to unsung horrormeister Dan O’Bannon, the (anti)hero of Jason Zioman’s new book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror.  More coverage of Shock Value and O’Bannon in our Alien blogroll last week.

Make sure to read Andy McCarthy’s essay for Alt Screen.

Michael Joshua Rowin has a great rundown of O’Bannon for Artforum:

More exemplary of the O’Bannon touch is his directorial debut, The Return of the Living Dead (1985), which he also wrote. On the surface a trashier version of George Romero’s iconic Night of the Living Dead (1968)—at one point a nymphomaniacal punk (scream queen Linnea Quigley) performs a striptease, for no discernable reason, atop an open-air crypt—Return nonetheless possesses some of the funniest, bleakest imagery to appear in any zombie film. After scenes that include the excruciating onset of rigor mortis in a couple of unfortunate zombie victims and the tactical ambushing of local police by an army of talking, intelligent zombies, the film ends with the military containing the zombie epidemic by nuking Louisville, all moral qualms swept nonchalantly to the side.

 

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Wednesday Editor’s Pick: Dark Star (1974)

by on July 12, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick


Playing Wed July 13 at 6:50, 9:15 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]
With FOSTER’S RELEASE Terence Winkless | 1971 | US

 

BAM continues its inspired tribute to unsung horrormeister Dan O’Bannon, the (anti)hero of Jason Zioman’s new book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror.  More coverage of Shock Value and O’Bannon in our Alien blogroll this week.

 

Dave Kehr for the Chicago Reader:

In John Carpenter’s witty and stylish 1974 sci-fi satire, the Dark Star is an intergalactic bomber wandering through the universe on a vaguely Nixonian mission to destroy unpopulated planets that might stand in the way of space travel. The ship’s crew is variously bored, blissed out, and restlessly rambunctious. By introducing human eccentricities (mostly southern Californian in nature) into the cold structure of science fiction, Carpenter creates a vision of the technological future that is both disillusioned and oddly affirmative in its insistence on the unscientific survival of emotional frailty. Amazingly, the film (Carpenter’s first) was made on a reported budget of $60,000.

 

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Monday Editor’s Pick: Alien (1979)

by on July 10, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Mon July 11 at 6:50*, 9:30 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]

With BLOODBATH Dan O’Bannon | 1970 | US

*Intro/book-signing with Jason Zinoman & Diane O’Bannon

 

BAM kicks off an awesome  mini-retro celebrating “actor, writer (sometimes credited, sometimes not), and director Dan O’Bannon, a leading, if unheralded, figure in the creation of modern horror,” with an appearance by O’Bannon’s widow Diane and New York Times writer Jason Zioman, who will be signing copies of his new book Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror.

 

Benjamin Strong for L Magazine:

Alien is, after all, just a genre film — albeit a perfectly executed B horror movie disguised with an A-picture budget that paid for, among other things, artist H.R. Giger’s set and monster designs, without which the movie is wholly unimaginable. To this day, the lion’s share of hosannas for Scott go to Blade Runner, but Alien is just as mysterious and immersive in its dystopian details. Every aspect of Scott’s filmmaking contributes to our foreboding sense that no two things (and thus, no two species) are entirely distinguishable. The Nostromo’s dank hulls provide easy camouflage for the parasitical intruder, but Scott doesn’t stop there. Through a suggestive use of lap dissolves, he continually lays one murky image over another. Meanwhile, machines emit animal noises, and vice versa, and both sets of sounds bleed into the strains of Jerry Goldsmith’s menacingly ethereal score. Finally, so precise is the timing of Brian Q. Kelley’s editing that this reviewer, to his complete embarrassment, twice leapt from his seat during a press screening, despite the fact that he had previously seen the film a dozen times and knew exactly when the shocks were coming.

 

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