November 28, 2016

Tachyon Signal Podcast Episode 2 - Trying Desperately To Get To The Point About Political Horror

The Dead Zone (1983) scissors suicide
The Dead Zone (1983)
     Trying to keep myself, Matt, and Carl on topic is like trying to herd sheep without a sheepdog.  Still, I think interesting things happen when we go off topic .  Ostensibly, episode 2 of the Tachyon Signal Podcast is taking a look at politically themed horror movies.  And we do.  Some. And then... SQUIRREL!  We talk a bit about some grade A genre titles inexplicably unavailable on Region A Blu-ray, as well.  Check out the chaos on the Tachyon Signal Podcast - Episode 2.

 A brand new podcast brought to you from the creative minds behind Midnight Cinephile, Movies at Dog Farm, and The Info Zombie.
 

Our aim each episode is to entertain you first and foremost, but also to bring you news and views on the world of entertainment media.
 

As you may (or may not) have surmised by the title of the podcast we will be broadcasting with a heavy horror slant, but we will most definitely be talking about all genres.  Movies, Television, Literature, Music, Video Games, Comics, Art, Live Theater....you name it, we'll more than likely cover it at some point. 

Tachyon Signal will be beaming straight to your brain twice a month.   

.....................this is not a dream.............. 


Tachyon Signal logo
Listen to the second episode of Tachyon Signal by clicking here!

     You can also keep up to date by checking out the Tachyon Signal Facebook page, the Tachyon Signal blog, or the Tachyon Signal Twitter feed.


October 26, 2016

The First Episode Of New Podcast Tachyon Signal Debuts - Listen Here

Tachyon Signal logo
Listen to the first episode of Tachyon Signal by clicking here!


A brand new podcast brought to you from the creative minds behind Midnight Cinephile, Movies at Dog Farm, and The Info Zombie.
 

Our aim each episode is to entertain you first and foremost, but also to bring you news and views on the world of entertainment media.
 

As you may (or may not) have surmised by the title of the podcast we will be broadcasting with a heavy horror slant, but we will most definitely be talking about all genres.  Movies, Television, Literature, Music, Video Games, Comics, Art, Live Theater....you name it, we'll more than likely cover it at some point.
 

Tachyon Signal will be beaming straight to your brain twice a month.   

.....................this is not a dream..............


Tachyon Signal Episode 1


      After months of radio silence, we've received a new transmission... Matt St. Cyr of Midnight Cinephile has masterminded the new podcast Tachyon Signal, and he was foolhardy enough to invite myself and Carl Boehm of The Info Zombie to help him out.  I'll be posting links to the new episodes here, but you can also keep up to date by checking out the Tachyon Signal Facebook page, the Tachyon Signal blog, or the Tachyon Signal Twitter feed.


October 11, 2015

The Final Girls (2015) - Saved From Writing The Dog Farm's Final Post?

     Though horror has been my lifelong genre of choice, I'm tickled shitless when any movie from any genre is as good as I hope it will be.  It doesn't happen as often as I would like.  I'm more likely to find myself relieved when a movie isn't as bad as I fear it could be, and that's a sad commentary.  Whether that's a sad commentary on what a miserable, jaded bastard I've become or on the general state of modern filmmaking is up for debate.

     More specifically, what most often separates the good movies from the bad for me is whether or not the movie makes me feel something - anything, really.  One of the primary reasons I've always been drawn to horror movies is that the best ones make you feel some of the deepest and most primal of human emotions.  The worst ones make one wonder how filmmakers so frequently fail to recognize the importance of those identifiably human emotions to effective storytelling.  This may come as a surprise given the Dog Farm's pedigree (pun intended), but I love a good cinematic tearjerker as much as a good horror movie - and for precisely the same reasons.

     I've been absent from the Dog Farm for a few months, and I now realize it was at least partially because my enthusiasm had been eroded of late by too many hollow spectacles and too few displays of real human emotion.  I don't think I consciously realized that until tonight, when a new release provided me the nourishment my cinematic diet had been lacking for so long.  Color me surprised that the movie in question was director Todd Strauss-Schulson's new comedy The Final Girls (2015), a very meta (and very funny) riff on slasher movie tropes that has more heart than any movie born of such an emotionally shallow sub-genre has a right to.  The Final Girls gets almost everything right, but it's most crucial success lies in the fact that it has the good sense to realize the importance - even in a goofy horror/comedy - of building on a solid foundation of identifiable human emotion.

     The Final Girls is perfectly cast, cleverly written, and beautifully shot, but its biggest triumph is the mother/daughter relationship at its core.  Taissa Farmiga (Amercian Horror Story) and Malin Ackerman (Cottage Country) make that relationship ring true even amidst all the silliness, and having a beating human heart beneath the levity raises the movie's game on all levels.  Delightful.  Truly delightful.

     I'm not going to thoroughly review The Final Girls here because there are already about a gazillion reviews online, and that's not what this post is really about anyway.  What this post is really about is how I lost my enthusiasm for one of the things I love most, and how one low budget horror/comedy done right restored it.  If you become disenchanted with the movies too, hang in there.  A good one will surface sooner or later that restores your faith, reminding you once again why you loved movies in the first place.  And it probably won't be the one you would expect, either.


July 2, 2015

The Bowman Body Is Back With New Episodes Of Shock Theater On DVD!!!

advertising images for new episodes of Shock Theater 2015 hosted by the Bowman Body

     Most horror movie fans of a certain age have fond memories of staying up late to watch their favorite local horror host.  In particular, the state of Virginia had a wealth of these hosts, and towering above all others was Bill Bowman, aka the Bowman Body.  The Bowman Body was my host.  Bill Bowman portrayed the character onscreen for over a decade and a half in three different markets, starting way back in 1970 with the debut of what would ultimately become Shock Theater on WXEX TV 8.  Sadly, as was often the case with these locally produced programs, virtually nothing remains of the original Shock Theater save for less than twelve minutes of footage and the fond memories of its fans.  It stands as good news of the highest order then that the Bowman Body is about to make good his return with two all new episodes of Shock Theater to be released on DVD in the fall of this year.

     Documentary filmmaker Sean Kotz of Horse Archer Productions is helping to facilitate the triumphant return of Shock Theater, with plans to film the two new episodes this summer for release in October.  The episodes will feature The House On Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price and Horror Hotel (1960) starring Christopher Lee, with the beloved Bill Bowman returning as The Bowman Body to host.  Both episodes are already available for pre-order at www.thebowmanbody.com, either individually or as a pair, with all proceeds going toward financing the production.  Fans can also purchase caps, mugs, and posters featuring The Bowman Body at the website's gift shop, as well as DVD copies of Kotz's Hi There Horror Movie Fans! The Bowman Body Documentary and Virginia Creepers: The Horror Host Tradition Of The Old Dominion.

     Regular readers of the Dog Farm will know that it's unusual for me to actively solicit support for projects, but this one is just too near and dear to my clogged and blackened heart not to do so.  Bill Bowman first appeared to host Shock Theater only two months after I was born, and some of my earliest memories of - well, anything, really - revolve around staying up late at a wildly inappropriate young age to watch the Bowman Body.  Bowman later hosted Cobweb Theater on WVIR in Charlottesville, and it tickles me shitless that one of a very small handful of clips that still exists shows Bowman reading a fan letter from yours truly and then showing a drawing I sent with the letter.  I was all of seven years old at the time.  It was bigger than getting a personal shout out from Santa Claus.

     Pre-orders are funding this project, so order your new Shock Theater episodes now.  If you're unfamiliar with the Bowman Body, you can right that heinous wrong by buying either - or both - of Sean Kotz's documentaries to bring yourself up to speed.  I own both, and they're well worth your time and money.  If you've got youngsters who've never seen a horror host, here's a chance to introduce them to one of the legends.  I guarantee these new episodes of Shock Theater will be the highlight of your family's Pre'Ween viewing this October.  I can hardly wait...


June 2, 2015

Belatedly Wrapping Up Movies At Dog Farm IV In One Tidy Little Package . . .

The Thing (1982)
The Thing (1982) - You've gotta be fuckin' kidding me, right?

       So how does one gauge the success or failure of a movie program?  Now that the Movies At Dog Farm live events have been around for a while, the success or failure of  these events must surely be relative.  Those of us that have attended from the start wax nostalgic about the best screenings from the past, though I wouldn't characterize any of the prior programs as complete and utter failures.  Additionally, I have to keep in mind that the movies are only one element of a larger event that's actually all about photography.  I'm just the geek show, eating light bulbs and biting the heads off chickens.  If I'm lucky, I get a receptive audience that responds to the show as I anticipated.  If not, well...

     As now seems to be tradition, Herb Miller and I made a trip to Timberville Friday night for beer, food, and cigarettes at roughly the same time the movies should have begun.  We were accompanied by Jai McWhorter, Phil's hired help at the Dog Farm who impressed me mightily be being only twenty years old and name dropping The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) on me.  We were only about half way to Timberville when Herb's brake line busted unexpectedly, leaving us unable to make a sharp turn on a country road that then abruptly turned into a plowed field.  No one was hurt, and Herb got the car back on the road and continued on to Timberville sans brakes.  That seemed to make sense at the time.

The Manitou (1978)
The Manitou (1978) - The stunted glory of Misquamacas.
     We got back to the Dog Farm intact roughly an hour later, and no one was there except Phil, who was agitated that attendees who were expected earlier hadn't yet arrived.  Ultimately, everyone arrived safely in two separate carloads coming from different directions.  Tricia and Noodle Newnum arrived with event veteran Josh Kamikaze Buckland in tow, followed by Kelli and Jeff Ramirez shortly thereafter.  I think.  Or maybe it was the other way around.  Someone should have been keeping notes.  Our first movie, The Manitou (1978), finally lit up the screen just shy of midnight.  Sounds like everything's been a bit of a cluster fuck thus far, huh?

     Well I couldn't have asked for a more receptive audience.  There's something truly magical about watching a movie with an audience that's perfectly in tune with what's unfolding on the screen.  The Manitou is a movie that begs a lot of MS3TK style interaction, and that's exactly what happened.  Baggy back flesh and boob lasers carried the day.  Phil even treated us to an impersonation of the movie's vertically challenged Native American shaman afterwards.  We at the Dog Farm are nothing if not politically correct.

Jack Palance in Alone In The Dark (1982)
Alone In The Dark (1982) - Jack Palance saying howdy.
     Owing to how late we got started, we moved on to Alone In The Dark (1982) almost immediately after The Manitou was over.  No brakes, baby.  That seems to have been a theme for the evening.  Everyone was enthusiastic throughout the second feature, as well.  Night one of Movies At Dog Farm IV will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the events' more successful screenings.  We wrapped things up at about three in the morning, at which point I quickly left for home.

     Though other attendees came and went during the day Saturday, the audience for Saturday night's movies ended up being the exact same group of people as Friday night.  That's unusual.  Not at all bad, just unusual.  Generally there's a little more turnover from day to day.  Jeff was good enough to man the grill for us Saturday night, so the movies were improved greatly by the addition of hot dogs and hamburgers served up fresh. Up first for Saturday was Vanishing Point (1971), a movie I'd never seen and didn't select.  Herb had suggested it to me several months ago, so it took the place of the previously announced Rituals (1977).  Truth be told, I had begun to doubt that Rituals would play well to a crowd anyway.

Gratuitous nudity in Vanishing Point
Vanishing Point (1971) - Gratuitous nudity, 70s style.
     Turned out Vanishing Point was pretty damn good, though it didn't really lend itself to the same kind of audience interaction as the previous night's movies.  Still, it did possess the unmistakable vibe of vintage drive-in fodder.  I had threatened to lay the failure of the evening at Herb's feet if Vanishing Point didn't play well to the crowd, so I suppose I'm also obliged to give credit where it's due.  You might get to pick one again some day, Herb.

     Unfortunately, we lost a few viewers to an early bedtime before The Thing (1982) started.  It also began to get almost uncomfortably chilly outside, though that seemed weirdly apropos given The Thing's Antarctic setting.  Those of us that stuck it out enjoyed seeing The Thing on the big screen, but everyone quickly scuttled away to warmth immediately after the movie was over.

     So how does one gauge the success or failure of a movie program?  Relatively speaking, I'd say Movies At Dog Farm IV was a success.  The geek show was rewarded once again with the receptive audience it needs to survive.  The geek thanks you.


May 20, 2015

Movies At Dog Farm Live Events And The Origins Of This Site - A History

forgetful kitty
     I've just celebrated my forty-fifth birthday.  One of the only bits of enduring wisdom I can share with the youngsters is this: write down everything.  Someday you're going to have trouble remembering.  In preparing for the fourth Movies At Dog Farm live event, it occurred to me that I've never really laid down a history of these live events.  I'm already having trouble remembering particulars, so it's time for a little historical preservation.

     Movies At Dog Farm was a mini movie festival well before this site was ever conceived.  My good friend Phil Neff, a professional photographer, had been in the habit of hosting a weekend long gathering for photographers and models once or twice a year at his home in Timberville, VA.  Phil's home also happens to be a dog boarding facility situated on a gorgeous, wooded, and remote property.  Yes, Virginia, there is a real Dog Farm.  First, though, I have to go back a little further to explain how the notion of programming movies for Phil's event first came about.

     I had concocted something I christened the First Annual Drive-In Movie Summer Series for myself and a couple of friends in the summer of 2011.  We met at my house once a week for thirteen weeks and watched one in a series of movies I had selected.  Inside.  On a television.  That name referenced the nature of the movies we watched rather than the mode of presentation.  I tried to do it up right, though.  I even prepared a program that offered bullet points for each movie to provide at least a modicum of historical context and  factual info for each title.  My two "subjects" were not inveterate genre fans, so I was hoping this would be a bit of a learning experience for them.  

     My selections were intended to be a representative sampling of drive-in fare spanning the years 1971 to 1981, which I dubbed the last golden age of the drive-in theater.  "Drive-in movie" is an admittedly non-specific term, but for the purposes of this series I defined it as any movie that possessed a healthy dose of WTF and spent a sizable portion of its theatrical run playing drive-ins.   For the record, the thirteen movies selected were: Zombie (1979), Ilsa, Harem Keeper Of The Oil Sheiks (1976), Private Parts (1972), Squirm (1976), Wolfen (1981), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Shivers (1975), Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974), The Manitou (1978), Mountain Of The Cannibal God (1978), It's Alive (1974), Motel Hell (1980), and The Beyond (1981).

     The First Annual Drive-In Movie Summer Series went off with nary a hitch, and I immediately began to acquire movies for a follow-up provisionally titled Son Of Summer Series.  Unfortunately, it gradually became apparent that Son Of Summer Series wasn't going to happen.  I was already sitting on a stack of new DVDs, though, and I bellyached to Phil about the cruel fate that had befallen my burgeoning B-movie brainchild.  Phil asked if I'd be willing to transmogrify my failed Summer Series into nighttime entertainment for his guests at his next photography event, and I of course accepted.  I sell audio/video equipment for a living, so I knew I'd be able to procure a projector and speakers for the event from my employer.

     That first Movies At Dog Farm live event was still months away at that point, which afforded me plenty of time to decide exactly which titles might find an appreciative audience at Phil's.  I don't care what anyone else may tell you - programming movies for a film festival isn't for the faint of heart.  I really had no idea what might play well to this particular audience, and I chose titles and subsequently discarded my choices with alarming regularity for the next four months.  During that same time period I also created a Movies At Dog Farm group page on Facebook in the hopes of getting to know a little something about my intended audience.  That Facebook page remained active after the first event, and it ultimately became the site you see before you when Phil pointed out that my increasingly lengthy "comments" on Facebook began to read more like blog entries.  

     For anyone who's ever wondered: that Facebook group is why my empire of dust has always been called Movies At Dog Farm rather than Movies At The Dog Farm.  I thought it read better without the article.  Phil said the missing article made it sound like I was employing the Frankenstein monster's mode of expression (Fire bad! Movies At Dog Farm good!) and of course, Phil's remark just guaranteed it remained  Movies At Dog Farm.  I regret nothing.

     I finally nailed down the last of four titles just a few weeks before the event, with the intent of showing one on Friday night and three on Saturday night.  The four movies chosen for the event were Pieces (1982), Contamination (1980), Cemetery Man (1994), and Suspiria (1977).  Phil made a screen to hang up outdoors, and I began to work out the logistics of setting up 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound in the woods surrounding the viewing area.  Obviously, that was overkill for movies this old, but I was personally enamored of the idea of both seeing and hearing Suspiria outside in all it of its bludgeoning auditory glory.  Not surprisingly, it rained the entire weekend, and I ended up spending an inordinate amount of time moving speakers in and out of the rain.

     Pieces was the only movie scheduled for Friday night, and it's worth noting that it was the one title of the four selections about which I had the most reservations.  I knew everyone would either get into the right frame of mind to appreciate its not-so-subtle charms or else the presentation would sink like a stone.  I didn't see the potential for much middle ground there.  Fortunately, it went over like gangbusters.  

     Unfortunately, my inability to stick to a schedule forced me to shelve the planned screening of Contamination on Saturday night in the interest of trying to get everything back on schedule.  Luckily, Cemetery Man was well received, though by the time we got through that we didn't get to screen Suspiria until after midnight.  Only three or four folks stuck it out for that one.  Just before we started Suspiria the rain stopped, the skies cleared, and the moon shone on the woods all around us.  It was glorious.  Owing to how few people saw this screening, I think it's likely that Suspria may be revisited at a future event.

     In the end that first live event was a little rocky, though I learned from my mistakes.  It was at least successful enough to warrant a sequel in October of 2012, the Movies At Dog Farm II Pre'Ween Picture Show.  I'll write a post at some point documenting that event, as well.  Until then, what follows is the text on the flyer I made up for the first event touting the movies I either screened or intended to screen.  The write-up on Pieces was later repurposed for a Gore-A-Thon post here on the site.

____________________________________________________________________


Pieces (1982) posterPieces (1982)  
aka Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche

Screened Friday, May 4, 2012


     Pieces is pure freak show exploitation, with an advertising campaign that sells the movie like a huckstering carnival barker.  "You Don't Have To Got To Texas For A Chainsaw Massacre!" screams the tagline, and then the movie's poster even more bluntly promises "It's Exactly What You Think It Is!"  The clear implication is that Pieces offers all the bad dialog, gratuitous nudity, and graphic violence you're looking for, all in one convenient package.

     That package mostly delivers, and it does so with a charming lack of pretense.  Director Juan Piquer Simon knew what he was making here and doesn't let a sense of decorum get in the way.  Legend has it that during filming an actress actually lost control of her bladder during one take when a functioning prop chainsaw strayed dangerously near.  That shot made it into the film's final cut, a testament to the aesthetic of tacky, unrefined showmanship that makes Pieces great.

     Director Simon once stated, "I don't know anyone who says 'I'm going to make a bad movie.'  Nor do I know anyone who says 'I'm going to make a work of art' and makes it."  Somehow, Pieces manages to be both bad movie and work of art at the same time.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre may be the undisputed masterpiece, but Pieces earns its place in the chainsaw movie pantheon by being devoid of delusions of grandeur and simply delivering what it promises.  It truly is exactly what you think it is.

    
Contamination (1980) posterContamination (1980)  
aka Alien Contamination 

Scheduled for Saturday, May 5, 2012, but ultimately not screened due to scheduling conflicts.


     Italian filmmakers made a veritable cottage industry out of riding the coattails of American made box office successes throughout the 1970s and 80s.  The Exorcist (1973) begat Beyond The Door (1974), Jaws (1975) begat Great White (1980), and Alien (1979) begat Contamination (1980).  Curiously, director Luigi Cozzi perceives Contamination as being a riff on Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, but the distinction is specious.  Contamination was released in the wake of the massive worldwide success of Alien, and it made extensive use in its advertising of its images of pulsating alien eggs.  It's a very real possibility that Cozzi is just being disingenuous.  Either way, Contamination is a hoot.

     Starring Ian McCulloch (Zombie) and featuring a pounding score by Goblin, Contamination starts strong, ends strong, and probably won't completely put you to sleep in the middle.  Even if you do begin to feel groggy, hang in there for the reveal of the cyclopean, paper mache alien overlord at the movie's conclusion.  Only the Italians can make formaggio of this caliber.  Blue Underground's restoration from the original vault negative reinstates the gory, gut-busting FX excised worldwide for Contamination's theatrical releases, making this the definitive cut of the movie. 


Cemetery Man (1994) posterCemetery Man (1994) 
aka Dellamorte Dellamore

Screened Saturday, May 5, 2012


     Cemetery Man, directed by Dario Argento protege Michele Soavi, is one of the finest horror movies of the 90s, foreign or otherwise.  It's also woefully under appreciated, perhaps because it was saddled by American distributors with a groaningly broad title that does little to indicate its blackly comic tone.  Its original title, a bit of Italian wordplay, roughly translates as "Of Death, Of Love", and that's much closer to the mark.  This is a movie with a lot on its mind.  It examines nothing less than the meaning of life itself, and it ultimately seems to decide that life has no meaning without love.  It also has plenty of zombies, gore, and nudity, so don't think it's just a dry, artsy slog through the Big Philosophical Questions.

     A then unknown Rupert Everett (My Best Friend's Wedding) does a fine job mining the script's dark humor as Fracesco Dellamorte, a cemetery watchman with the unenviable task of slaughtering the undead "returners" at Buffalora Cemetery.  It's all in a day's work for Dellamorte until a tryst with a beautiful widow turns tragic, leading him into a tailspin of escalating psychosis.  Is death the ultimate act of love?

     Cemetery Man is a truly unique gem of a horror film, lousy American title notwithstanding.  Thanks to Josh Kamikaze Buckland for suggesting it.


Suspiria (1977) posterSuspiria (1977)

Screened Saturday, May 5, 2012


     Suspiria is Italian director Dario Argento's masterwork, a garish nightmare of over saturated colors and painterly compositions that plays like a fairy tale for adults.  Nominally about a coven of witches and the dance academy for young women they use to conceal their activities, the narrative is really only a framework upon which Argento builds his fever dream of stylish visuals and discordant sound.  Frequent collaborator Goblin provides the nerve-jangling score, easily the band's most effective, and the aural assault is every bit as important to the success of the enterprise as Argento's aggressive visual attack.  The two halves work in tandem to create a perfect storm of deeply disturbing hallucinatory horror.

     Suspiria tells the tale of Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs, and is the first film of Argento's loosely related Three Mothers trilogy, each of which focuses on the story of one of a triumvirate of ancient, evil witches.  Inferno followed in 1980 and told of Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness, the youngest and cruelest of the three.  The Mother Of Tears belatedly concluded the trilogy in 2007 and told of Mater Lachrymarum, the most powerful of the three witches.

     Argento failed to match the delirious heights of Suspiria with either of its follow-ups, but it would have been nearly impossible to do so.  The first was as close to perfection as genre movies get.  Everyone should see Suspiria at least twice:  once to let the malevolent magic wash over you, and once more to marvel at the flawless skill and technique with which Argento casts his cinematic spell.


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