Written and Directed by Ken Russell
Adapted from the play by Sandy Wilson
Starring Twiggy, Christopher Gable, Max Adrian, Bryan Pringle, Tommy Tune, Antonia Ellis, Barbara Windsor, and Vladek Sheybal
When the Celluloid Zeroes started talking about doing a Ken Russell round of reviews, I thought I’d write up Savage Messiah. Since Russell is most remembered now for horror and the cult rock opera Tommy, I wanted to look at something different. Unfortunately, I’d lent my copy to someone I don’t see often. Running an Amazon search on his name turned up a 1971 musical that I’d never heard of, which would be released on blu in time for the roundtable. I preordered it and hoped for the best.
aka O slavnosti a hostech
Directed by Jan Nemec
Written by Ester Krumbachová and Jan Nemec
Starring Ivan Vyskocil, Jan Klusák, Jiri Nemec, Pavel Bosek, Karel Mares, Evald Schorm, Jana Pracharová, and Zdena Skvorecka
The word ‘brave’ gets used a lot. Bakery owners are brave for refusing service to homosexuals and then slandering them online. Citizens are brave for responding to Black Lives Matter protests with clarification that Blue and All matter as well. Donald Trump is brave for saying the openly racist and xenophobic things that “everyone is thinking”. Yes, there’s a lot of bravery in defending the existing power structures against those who’d like to be treated as human beings. For a real example of bravery look at Jan Nemec and the cast and crew of A Report on the Party and Guests.
aka Zombie: Dawn of the Dead
Written and directed by George A. Romero
Starring David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, and Tom Savini
George A. Romero emerged from the legal disputes over the rights to Night of the Living Dead being allowed to make sequels but unable to use the phrase “Living Dead” in titles. That must have been especially galling, as it had been an oversight during renaming for distribution that had stripped the film of its copyright. When Romero decided at last to make a sequel, he struck a deal with his friend Dario Argento. Romero would write and direct the movie, and Argento would raise the funding in exchange for the overseas distribution. In America, the movie was released as Dawn of the Dead. Argento re-edited the film and released it as Zombi.
aka Yôkai daisensô (Big Monster War)
Directed by Yoshiyuki Kuroda
Written by Tetsurô Yoshida
Starring Yoshihiko Aoyama, Hideki Hanamura, Chikara Hashimoto, Hiromi Inoue, Akane Kawasaki, and Gen Kuroki
Yôkai is one of the Japanese terms for monsters, particularly ghosts or apparitions. Some were drawn from genuine folklore, but many sprang from the imagination of artists. Whatever their origins they’re the inspiration for a lot of modern Japanese entertainment, particularly comics and animation. The best-known designs for some of them are based on the suits created for Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare.
Directed by Yôhei Fukuda
Written by Mari Asato and Yôichi Minamikawa based on the novel X gêmu by Yûsuke Yamaha
Starring Kazuyuki Aijima, Hirofumi Araki, Shôta Chiyo, Meguru Katô, and Ayaka Kikuchi
The title of the Japanese movie X-Game (originally X gêmu) may need some explanation. There’s a sort of tradition on comedic shows of the loser of a competition having to then accept a punishment. This is something mildly unpleasant that’s played up for laughs. It’s called the batsu game, and the character used to write it means ‘X’ (i.e., “incorrect”) as well as “penalty”. Fans of anime might have seen references to “penalty game” in shows like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, where Suzumiya subjects her brigade members to penalty games for things like being late. It’s well-known enough that it wouldn’t be surprising if school-kids played punishment games just for the heck of it.
And we all know that children are cruel.
aka Schatten — Eine nächtliche Halluzination
Directed by Arthur Robison
Written by Arthur Robison and Rudolph Schneider
Starring Alexander Granach, Fritz Kortner, Ruth Weyher, and Gustav von Wangenheim
A lot of amazing stuff was going on in cinema during the 1920s. Feature films became predominant, telling longer and more complex stories to audiences willing to invest time in them. Movie palaces, seating a thousand and more patrons, became a part of the American cityscape. The advent of synchronized sound in 1927 remained the biggest game-changer until movies could be shot in color. In this climate of popularity and growth, some filmmakers were inclined to be more adventurous in their efforts. Such a director was Arthur Robinson, who decided to make his film Warning Shadows even more silent than the medium required.