Friday, August 01, 2008

The 12 Movie Meme

Chick Young over at Trash Aesthetics tagged me, in a purely cerebral way, in a game that seems part intellectual exercise, part chain letter with the 12 Movie Meme.

This was started over at Lazy Eye Theatre and sees bloggers asked to imagine their own ideal twelve-night movie stint and then pass the task on to five others. Having completed his task, Chick challenged me: “Taliesin at Taliesin Meets the Vampires: Perhaps he can do an ALL VAMPIRE program, hmm, hmm?”

This did not seem to be a problem to me but… Wouldn’t it be fun if it were non-vampiric… that’ll shock ‘em. Then I thought, well I am known for overly long postings – why not both!!!!

Imagine if you will that I have set up two rooms, take your pick, enter the vampire room or the non-vampire room, both have much to offer. Those whom I tag (which is the more difficult aspect to me) need only return to the original context if they take up the challenge…

Without further ado:


Vampire Room:

What better way to start than with one of my favourite all time movies, Isle of the Dead. A vampire movie without a vampire, heavy with atmosphere and boasting Karloff on top form. I was struck, even as a child, by how the protagonists turned from science to superstition and pagan deities when the chips were down. Marvellous. We follow this with Black Sunday. I really needed to include a Bava flick and why not this, with its rich gothic atmosphere and Barbara Steele in two roles.

Non-vampire room:

No, I haven’t started with the Wizard of Oz to confuse you; it really is one of my favourite films. It was shocking, when I first watched it, as it flicked from black and white to colour and today it still has, for me, a childlike innocence coupled with a spiritual undertow. Equally spiritual, but in an oddly secular way, is Jesus of Montreal. One of the finest films to come out of Canadian cinema, I can imagine that it doesn’t go down well in some circles but I fell in love with this movie the first time I saw it.


Vampire Room:

Time to get Hammer, but which to choose. Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter has a perfect mix of adventure, horror, comedy and Caroline Munro. Following this we’ll look at Twins of Evil, the Collinson Twins have obvious assets (often on display) but the real joy of this was Peter Cushing’s dark powerhouse performance.

Non-Vampire Room:

Meanwhile I have gone sci-fi in the other room. Dark City is one that blew my socks off when I watched it on cinema release (and is still a bone of contention with my wife, who hated it and hasn’t ever let me forget I dragged her to see it). This has just had the director’s cut treatment and is on my list of 'must gets' in that form. The next day we have Blade Runner (and just for fun, let’s go for the Final Cut). What need I say? One of the best films ever made.


Vampire Room:

It’s the weekend and we are going comedy in both rooms. Love Bites, is a black comedy of Lynchian proportions, Asia Argento looks absolutely fine and Antoine De Caunes puts himself firmly on the directoral map. What need I say about the Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon me but your Teeth are in My Neck, even the full title is funny and it boasts the killer vampire comedy line “Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire.” Genius.

Non-Vampire room:

Sticking with comedy, as I mentioned, we have Carry On. Now, there were several I would have gone for “at Your Convenience” and “Cleo” both nearly made it but I plumped, in the end, for “Screaming.” Carry On were not big or (particularly) clever but they were funny. Midnight Run is a totally different form of comedy, proving that swearing can be funny (never watch the TV edit, all the humour has been drained away with every ‘f*ck’ that is lost). DeNero and Grodin are a perfect foil to each other. Hilarious.


Vampire Room:

When I first saw Marebito I fell in love, though I recognise it is not every person’s cup of tea. With a dogme attitude, a Hollow Earth mythology and an almost Lovecraftian air in parts this was one of the films that showed how strong Asian cinema is currently. I’ve coupled this with Cronos simply because I love Guillermo Del Torro’s work and it is paired with a film across the hall, in the non-vampire room.

Non-vampire Room:

Blue Velvet is listed not because I felt there should be some David Lynch aired during this movie marathon (which there should) but because Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth is, quite simply, one of the most brutally terrifying villains committed to celluloid. We also have, coupled with Cronos, Guillermo Del Torro’s Pan Labyrinth. Do you want to watch a horror film – this is true horror. Not the fantasy sections of the movie but the real world horror of fascism. Terrifying, stirring, beautiful and ugly all at the same time.


Vampire Room:

What, no Dracula. Let’s remedy that. Nosferatu is, of course, the pinnacle of German impressionism as well as being a make of Stoker’s novel. The illustrative cover is the Industrial-Gothic Mix, not everyone’s cup of tea and I’d probably show a more traditionally scored version. Then we have Dracula. Of course this could have been one of several filmed versions of the story but Lugosi is the iconic Dracula (even if I prefer Lee) and thus I went for this – worth watching for Lugosi’s performance and Dwight Frye’s powerhouse portrayal of Renfield.

Non-vampire Room:

Having decided that I would have the 1931 Dracula, how could I avoid Ed Wood. I wanted some Tim Burton and this biopic of the infamous director is not only a great film but has a stunning (Oscar winning) portrayal of Lugosi by Martin Landau. I’ve tied this with Big Fish. This film is astounding. My wife will tell you I very rarely cry, imagine her shock when she came home and I was watching this film which was getting towards the end (it was the funeral scene) and I was weeping to the movie. A movie that can stir that level of emotion in me needs to be included.


Vampire Room:

I decided to end the T_ttlg movie festival, vampire leg, with some epic-ness. Moon Child is epic in scope and boasts some fine action as well. Unusual celluloid musings from Japan that has, perhaps, a “Once Upon a Time…” feel. We finish with Neil Jordan’s sweeping gothic epic Interview with the Vampire. I was as sceptical of Tom Cruise being in this as anyone else, but he was great, Brad Pitt is less mumbly than normal and Kirsten Dunst’s performance is flawless.

Non-Vampire Room:

M*A*S*H. Need I say anything else? I better had; it spawned one of the finest TV series ever and, as a stand alone vehicle, was at turns hilarious and poignant. Perhaps not as poignant as The Big Red One, however. Truly one of the great war movies – I have yet to see the reconstruction but this is great cinema.

And there you have it. There were films that perhaps should have snuck in. Devil’s Backbone was dropped because I already had two Del Torro movies listed. Paint Your Wagon nearly made it because, by having Eastwood sing, it is the only movie that manages to be both macho and camp at exactly the same moment! There are several versions of Dracula that should have been listed.

As for who gets it next, I challenge the following: Ordovicus, I know your blogs are more political but you need to think about good movies having just bought Drawing Blood. Curt at Groovy Age of Horror, I’d love to read your thoughts and the same to Carnaki at Mystery of the Haunted Vampire - both among the first blogs I started reading. I really enjoy the musings of Arbogast and so the challenge also goes to Arbogast on Film. Finally, to a new blogger, this might be something an Amateur Vampirologist at the Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist might want to get his metaphoric fangs into. Just like chain mail, however, nothing will happen if you drop this into the waste paper bin (metaphoric or otherwise).


Chick Young said...

Carry on Screaming and Midnight Run are strokes of genius I say!!

Do you ever sleep? Double duty on this quest, and may I say that The Barbicon should take notice and book this amazing festival. I have not seen Love Bites but after reading more - I think I now have to. Also, did you notice that out the 10's of thousands of movies out there, you and I both chose Fearless Vampire Killers and Ed Wood? Similar tastes indeed.

Cheers Tal, great job, I am so glad I tagged you. Also, Wizard of Oz, nuff' said!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Chick, actually - at the moment - with a puppy that decides that waking me up at 1 Am and 5 AM is fun - no I don't sleep!!! Sarah Chose him (Salem that is) and he is only 10 weeks but he is also a utonagan and huge, so he can reach onto the bed and smack me with paws the size of our full grown German Shepherd!!!!

As for the two films - classics, what can I say.

I should have also mentioned that Dogma nearly got on the list as well!

People take the piss out of the Wizard of Oz, but what can I say. Frank L Baum, member of Blavatsky's theosophic society. Is it a coincidence that the four companions directly relate to the four elements*, whilst toto is a totem... reading too much in... probably, but there is a study there that needs doing!

Dorothy = home = earth
scarecrow = brains = air
tinman = heart = water
lion = courage = fire

Ordovicius said...

Ive posted my response here

Carnacki said...

Sounds like fun. Give me a day or two.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Sanddef, I've commented on your list... I can't believe you created a new blog for this... above and beyond sir...

Carnaki, good to hear from you and I look forward to it.

Amateur Vampirologist said...

I think I'm game for this one! I love a bit of a challenge.

Though it makes me wish I have watched a hell of a lot more vampire movies!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I have faith - looking forwrd to it, but don't restrict yourself to vamp movies unless you want to.

gilligan said...

It's been interesting seeing how amazingly different the various film festivals have been - from Chick, to samurai frog, to becca, to you, to me... what a variety! That's what's made this meme so fun to follow. Great work!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Gilligan. Variety is, of course, the spice of life and this has offered a true variety... However, just as fascinating are the films that reappear in different lists

Bill said...

Hope this comment goes through. using IE instead of Mozilla for now. My comments ahve not gone thrugh to Chick's site all afternoon.

So amny films you have here and I will ay it is good to see your non-vampire selections. I would feel so pressured to maintain one theme all of the time.

I almost put Black Sunday on mine as i am such a Bava fan but changed it at the last moment. Wizard of Oz is a good film and I recently rewatched it here alone. The sets were so fanatstic.

Bladerunner is a film that will be dealt with eventually on my site as I am in awe of that film, however I do not like the director's cut lacking the film noir style voice overs by Dekkar.

Some flicks here I am not familiar with really and ma very curious. I hope some day you can make a category ofr your no-vamp tatse (though that may compromise your site's integrity I understand) as your choices are intersesting.

Good stuff

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers Bill.

I think there are two types of person when it comes to Blade Runner and I am the other type. I hated the noir voiceovers and thought the film worked better without - but I appreciate that others liked them.