Moriarty Visits The Vancouver Set Of John Carpenter
Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
July 2005 is going to be a month worth celebrating here at the Labs for a long time to come. As Harry so effusively announced, my son Toshiro (or “Toshi” as everyone’s calling him for the moment) was born early on the morning of July 6th. The past three weeks have been pretty extraordinary as I’ve gotten used to this amazing new presence in my life.
But today I’m going to tell you about the second-coolest thing to happen to me this month, something that could alter my life just as much as Toshi’s birth did.
Mere hours after he was born, principal photography began in Vancouver on “Cigarette Burns,” the episode that Scott Swan and I wrote for MASTERS OF HORROR, the anthology series that Industry Entertainment, IDT, and Nice Guy Productions are all producing for Anchor Bay and Showtime Networks. John Carpenter directed the episode, which stars Norman (BOONDOCK SAINTS) Reedus and Udo (THE KINGDOM) Kier.
This’ll be the first thing you guys are going to see of mine, and now that I’ve been to the set and I’ve seen how closely Carpenter stuck to the script, frankly, I’m amazed. Whatever you think of the final episode, love it or hate it, there’s not a thing I could complain about or that I would change. They shot what we wrote, except for moments where Carpenter came up with some great ideas that actually expanded upon what we wrote. They gave us complete creative freedom, and then they actually lived up to that promise. Once Carpenter came onboard as director, the producers never gave us another set of creative notes. When they say that this series is all about giving these directors room to play, they’re not kidding.
So how the hell did this happen?
How did Scott and I get so damn lucky?
Many paths led us to this place, and it feels like several things came full circle at the same time here. I’ve written on this site before about my time at Dave’s Video, and one of the guys I met while working there was Mick Garris. We’d chat whenever he came into the store, and when he geared up into pre-production on SLEEPWALKERS, he invited Scott and I to observe the process as much as we wanted. They shot on the Sony lot the same time as HOOK, and Mick had worked for Spielberg as the story editor on AMAZING STORIES, so we ended up getting a peek behind the scenes on that production, too. Mick was just the most open and sincere guy, and we stayed in touch over the years. The first time he mentioned MASTERS OF HORROR to me was at the Saturn Awards a couple of years ago. It was still just an idea at that point. A few months later, Mick followed up to let me know that the series was definitely going to happen, and would Scott and I like to come in and pitch an episode?
Scott and I were just wrapping up our work on CLIVE BARKER’S DREAD at the time, and as much as I like that script, it was frustrating to try and adapt that story with the PG-13 firmly in mind. There’s no question that the success of THE SIXTH SENSE and THE RING have changed the economics of the modern studio horror film. Everytime something like THE GRUDGE comes out and does well, it reinforces the idea that PG-13 is the only way to go. But if you pick up the excellent Criterion DVD release of VIDEODROME, one of the extra features is a panel discussion from the Z Channel in 1982, hosted by (surprise, surprise) Mick Garris, in which he talks to John Carpenter, John Landis, and David Cronenberg about the restrictive nature of working with the MPAA. In other words, these filmmakers have been wrestling with these issues of censorship (both internal and external) for over 20 years now. MASTERS OF HORROR is, in many ways, a reaction to that. One of the things we were told before we even pitched our episode was “No restrictions, no worrying about ratings, anything goes.” That’s something you never hear upfront. The difference this time is that Anchor Bay was already signed on as a producer, so no matter what, we knew there would be a place for the films to be distributed. That sort of freedom is liberating.
Scott and I quickly put together ideas for six or seven different episodes, and then we pitched Andrew Deane and Mick. They considered two of the ideas before finally hiring us to write “Cigarette Burns,” which we had originally wanted to do as a small indie feature. We knew it was a very odd story, though, and writing it as a one-hour film felt like a great way to tell the story without having to worry about what sort of opening weekend it would have or how many pretty WB actors we could stick into it. Once again, here’s the official synopsis that VARIETY printed a few weeks ago:
Jimmy Sweetman knows how to find rare film prints. However, nothing could prepare him for the daunting search for LA FIN DU MONDE, a film allegedly shown only once and rumored to have driven its audience into a murderous frenzy before the theater mysteriously erupted in flames. Working for a shadowy patron, Jimmy’s increasingly obsessive investigation becomes nightmarish and deadly. Finally he discovers LA FIN DU MONDE’s infamy is well deserved. This supernatural CHINATOWN is a chilling look at the power of cinema and the lengths to which we will go to satiate our private demons.
Aside from the sheer hubris it takes to compare our work to CHINATOWN, that’s a pretty accurate summary of the episode. It didn’t change much from our first draft, either. The only things we had to change had to do with budget, since what we turned in the first time was too ambitious. We had too many locations, exterior scenes set in Paris and Germany, lots of scenes set while driving, and one incredibly elaborate and ornate set that was only going to be used in one scene of the movie. We must have given the UPM fits with that first draft. To the credit of the prodcers, though, they didn’t freak out. Instead, they told us that they’d show it to directors to see who responded.
When they called to tell us John Carpenter was going to direct the episode, it seemed too good to be true. Even now, after we’ve wrapped production, it still hardly seems possible.
See, as much as I love Argento (and there’s an affectionate nod to him in the episode) or Dante (who graciously helped us with some research for the episode) or Tobe Hooper or Stuart Gordon or any of the other filmmakers involved in the series, I’ve got history with Carpenter. This is another one of those full circles, one that’s almost storybook perfect, and it proves to me that life’s got a funny sense of humor.
In order to fully appreciate the punchline to this particular cosmic joke, you’ve got to back up twenty-two years, to when I was thirteen years old. And, yes, I know that there are more flashbacks and flash-forwards in this article than in any three Tarantino films combined. Anyway, I was living in Chattanooga, TN, at the time, and I’d already been bitten by the movie bug. Bad, too. I felt like I was a million miles from Hollywood. Whenever I told people that I wanted to make movies for a living, I would get the same inevitable reply: “That’s nice, but what are you really going to do?” The only person I knew who had anything to do with the film industry was Kathy Carver, the mother of my friend Craig. She handled local extras casting whenever a film came to town. She’d worked on pictures like HONKY TONK FREEWAY and THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT DOWN IN GEORGIA. Still, it wasn’t like there were films shooting in our area every day, and it made the industry seem impossibly far away.
Then, one day, the proverbial circus came to town. Craig told me that his mother was about to start casting extras for a few sequences from STARMAN. Right away, I knew what it was. STARLOG had already covered the film’s slightly rocky path from script to screen. It was infamous as the project that Columbia traded Universal for E.T. I knew that Brian De Palma was supposed to direct it at one point. But more than anything else, I was aware of it because John Carpenter was attached. Even at 13, I was crazy about his work. I remember conning my parents into taking me to see THE THING by telling them, “I hear it’s a lot like E.T.” HALLOWEEN had hit me on an almost chemical level the first time I saw it. That’s a hell of a film for a nine-year-old to wrap his head around. The idea of meeting the guy who made those films was incredible to me, and as the day got closer, I could barely sleep. Two days before I was going to visit the set, I broke my arm, so when the day rolled around, I had a fresh white cast in place.
My mom drove me out to the motel that was being used as the base camp by the crew, where we were met by Peter Silbermann, the unit publicist. As we all drove out to the location together, I chattered away happily at Silbermann, who seemed a little freaked out by how into movies I obviously was. By the time we reached the place where all the trucks were set up, he was openly amused, and he took me straight to John to introduce me. When we walked up, John was discussing the next scene with Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges. It had only been a couple of years since the release of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, so it would be hard to overestimate the extent of my schoolboy crush on Allen, and Bridges was the star of KING KONG and TRON, so I was overwhelmed by everyone.
The thing I remember most from that day, 22 years ago but clear as a bell, was the overwhelming kindness of everyone I met. Allen sat with my mother and I and talked about Tennessee and knitting and southern cooking and, just to indulge me, RAIDERS and ANIMAL HOUSE. Bridges showed me the make-up gag they were using to make his hand glow during the scene they were going to shoot. And Carpenter... he sat me next to a monitor and explained to me exactly what a director did. As he talked, and as I watched them work, something clicked for me. “This is possible,” I remember thinking. “This is a real job. It isn’t some magic trick. It’s a job, and one day, I want to do this.” Everyone took turns signing my cast, and when I left the set that afternoon, Silbermann gave me a copy of the script at John’s request. It was the first screenplay I ever read, the first time I’d ever even seen the format, and I read it over and over and over in the year between that day and when the film came out. It was my first experience with seeing how something could changed from script to screen, and I was fascinated. And, of course, all of that came rushing back to me when we got the word that John was signed for “Cigarette Burns.” Our first notes meeting with him was positively surreal, one of the strangest afternoons of my life. I mean, I’ve seen John many times in the years since 1983. He was another regular customer at Dave’s, Harry and I went to his house for dinner once, I interviewed him about the BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA DVD when it came out, and I hung out in the recording studio while he scored GHOSTS OF MARS.
But actually sitting down to discuss something that we wrote with him... hearing him talk about how he planned to approach certain things, listening to him defend his favorite moments in the script (there’s a jet-black sequence that Carpenter kept in because “it just knocked me to the back of my chair”)... it all seemed like some sort of out-of-body experience for us. It was also the most bracingly honest notes session we’ve ever had. I totally understand why Carpenter’s never been the kind of guy who makes one studio film after another now. He seems to have no patience for the typical bullshitty development speak, and he doesn’t tap dance around his opinion. He must scare the holy fuck out of development guys who don’t know what they’re talking about. When he thinks something’s wrong in the script, he’ll tell you, both barrels right between the eyes. For the first thirty minutes or so, I wrestled with the impulse to run screaming from the room, convinced that we were unworthy of even being at that table.
I’ll pause here so you can tell me in the TalkBacks that I was right.
... okay. Feel better now? The more we listened to all of John’s notes, going page by page, we realized that they all boiled down to one note, just repeated many times. “Keep it personal.” The things John challenged us on were the generic “horror movie” scares, or the CGI lightshow that we originally wrote for the ending. John pushed us to focus in on our main character and his ghosts and to never let things become something we’ve seen before. By the time we finished that first three-hour notes meeting (for a script that only runs one hour), we had a good sense of what John wanted.
It only took us eight or nine more drafts to get there. Because of the intense time crunch, we had to respond quickly with each new pass, and for very different reasons each time. We had to make sure that all of the locations we wrote into the script were able to be found in Vancouver. We had to make sure that every scene and every character was justified budgetarily. Each of these episodes has a ten-day shooting schedule and around $2 million for a budget. That’s tight, especially when your story deals with a character who goes around the world and flashes between the past and the present.
The last set of hurdles we had to jump before they could start shooting involved the clearance lawyers. See, you’ve got to hand your script over to a legal team whose whole job is to tell you why you can’t use any of your character names and you have to change all of your references to real movies or events. Clearance just about drove us crazy. “Jimmy Sweetman” became “Kirby Sweetman.” “Julianne Matthews” became “Annie Matthews.” Little things like that were annoying but manageable. It wasn’t until they told us that we had to call our film-within-a-film something. Other than LE FIN DU MONDE that I lost my infamously short temper. I was determined to dig in and fight.
Not surprisingly, I lost.
Or more accurately, I compromised. See, Abel Gance laid claim to the title LA FIN DU MONDE back in the ‘30s with his epic about... well... the end of the world. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never heard anything about it until we wrote this script. It’s not commercially available in Region 1 in any way, shape, or format as far as we can tell. And, to top it all off, we make it fairly clear in the script that LE FIN DU MONDE (notice how our title’s grammatically incorrect? Smart, ain’t we?) is the work of a gifted lunatic named Hans Bakovic. Notably not Abel Gance, no matter how vigorously you mispronounce it.
Didn’t matter. No argument was going to gain me the right to use that title. So we chose the best of the offered compromises, not realizing we were setting up our lead actor for a full day of frustration in doing so. The film officially became LA FIN ABSOLUE DU MONDE, or THE ABSOLUTE END OF THE WORLD. Perfect for an arrogant Eurotrash art film “messiah” from the early ‘70s. You can’t help but sneer when you say it. As soon as we finished with all the back and forth about clearance, it really sank in. They’re starting production this week. John’s in Vancouver now doing prep. They’re casting. KNB is hard at work designing the make-up effects.
This is really happening. Right now.
I kept half-expecting Ashton Kutcher to pop out. I am man enough to admit that if I had, in fact, been PUNK’D, I would have cried like a little girl on MTV. So thankfully, he didn’t, I wasn’t, and the cameras finally rolled.
Another last minute name change created an odd moment for my co-writer Scott Swan during his first day on-set. Like I said earlier, I was a little busy on the morning of July 6th, but Scott had flown up to Vancouver the night before. He was there for the very first set-up. Hell, he rode out to the location with John that morning, I learned later. So it was that he found himself starting the day standing next to the director of Halloween in front of... The Myers House.
It wasn’t intentional. The guy’s name in the script was Peter Dunnigan. Some alarm somewhere went off though, when they ran that name, so somehow, “A.K. Myers” became the replacement. So there’s a Myers House in our script now. Crrrrrrazy.
I spoke to Scott a few times during his stay in Vancouver. He spent the first three days there. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He saw some of my favorite stuff from the script played out, including the first meeting between Kirby, played by Norman Reedus, and Bellinger, played by Udo Kier. My film geek OCD seemed pleased by the odd synchronicity of having someone from BLADE and someone from BLADE 2 in the film. This scene sets the stakes for the whole rest of the film, and it leads into one of the strangest scenes we’ve ever written.
When I spoke to Scott about it, he was thrilled. He said he thought there was some great chemistry going on. Norman’s got a hard role here, the Joseph Cotton role in KANE, the observer poking into a story, putting it together piece by piece. The supporting cast gets to have all the fun until the end. Every step along the way, he runs into really extreme characters that test him. Bellinger’s the one who gives him the initial push, and the choice to use Udo turned out to be inspired. Mick Garris evidently suggested him, and Carpenter took Udo to Musso & Frank’s to see if they clicked. Musso & Frank’s is old Hollywood seedy decadence, untouched since the ‘20s, and it must have been just the right atmosphere. Scott’s stories about Udo’s enthusiasm had me rolling, and the first time I walked on-set, Udo walked up to the two of us and said, “Okay, confess. Who is the Shakesperean? Who loves to write the Shakesperean speeches?” A smooth-talking flatterer... that’s what he is.
Scott told me that he apologized to Norman for making him say LA FIN ABSOLUE DU MONDE at least twenty times in the film. The French-speaking crew helped Norman through his brutal first day of it. By the end of the shoot, he was able to rattle it off with authority, but at the Myers house, Scott wanted to hide so Norman wouldn’t kick the shit out of him.
The things that had Scott worked up when we talked, though, even more than Udo’s work, were the make-up creations he’d been seeing. There’s a character played by Christopher Redman in the film that isn’t a creature or a monster or anything conventionally scary. It’s meant to be more pathetic and awful than anything else. I saw Scott’s photos, taken with a small digital camera outside in bright sunlight, and I thought the make-up looked great there. He described the reveal in the episode, though, properly lit, and it sounds wild... very theatrical. Something terrible also happens to Fung, played by Colin Foo, and Scott wa on-set when it did. Scott’s like me... a lifelong reader of FANGORIA and FAMOUS MONSTERS, an ‘80s-bred gorehound. He’s a make-up geek, so seeing a really bloody gag played out that you wrote... the way he described it to me, I was almost jealous.
But I was confident that I’d be headed up for some of the shoot. I brought my wife and the baby home from Cedars-Sinai on the 8th. The following week was pretty much a blur of work, and then Scott left to go down to Comic-Con that weekend. There was a big MASTERS OF HORROR party scheduled for the House Of Blues that night, and a panel earlier in the afternoon. I ended up staying home, though, enjoying my time with the family and avoiding all the drama of San Diego. It’s such an “event” now that it’s exhausting, even for one day.
Instead, I waited until Scott came back on Sunday, and we caught an afternoon flight to Vancouver. I loaded up my iPod with pictures of Toshi and my wife, but even so, it was hard to go. My wife’s the best. “You have to go,” she said. “You won’t forgive yourself if you miss the whole thing.” Until Scott and I checked in at the hotel, I could hardly believe it. We went walking near our hotel downtown, took a look at the Vogue Theater on Granville, which doubles as the theater owned by Kirby in the episode, and it looked appropriately seedy.
The next morning, we were downstairs in front of the hotel at 6:30, where he found Ron, one of the drivers, waiting with the van. Drivers are the coolest people on a film crew, nine times out of ten. Drivers know everything. Scott had met Ron during his first trip up, so we had a great conversation already going when John and Gina, his assistant, came downstairs.
John’s not an early morning person, which I can relate to. Normally I only see 6:30 AM if it’s at the end of a long night of updating. Even so, he warmed up and chatted as we drove out to the soundstage where we were going to spend Monday and Tuesday, the final two days of the shoot. We talked mainly about videogames, since he’s a pretty devoted gamer. He gave me some tips for getting through the level I’m stuck on in DESTROY ALL HUMANS. I had my video camera ready to go, my Sony DCR-HC42. It’s practically pocket-sized, and I had a ton of batteries all charged up and several hours worth of blank tape.
So of course, the first shot of the day was a nude scene. So... camera off.
While they were lighting, I wandered around the rest of the stage. We were waaaaaay the hell out of downtown Vancouver, in a place called Burnaby, and it was a huge single stage. The witch-house from Stuart Gordon’s episode was still standing, and there were various bits and pieces of Don Coscarelli’s sets pushed up against the walls. Our first scene was being shot on a set re-used from Mick Garris’s “Chocolate,” which finished production a few episodes before us. It was actually one of the only quiet moments in the whole film that John was starting with that day, one of Kirby’s happy memories. Intimate moments between Norman and Zara Taylor, who plays Annie. It was nicely done, and once John felt like he got it, he called “Cut, print, check the gate,” then turned to Attila Szalay, the D.P. for the episode, and smiled. “Let’s do some drugs.”
So they set up the next scene with Norman and Zara, another flashback, this one with the two of them tying off, shooting up. John made more of a character moment out of it than we had in the script, and there was a nice bit of character choreography between the actors, something Norman told me later came from her.
It was strange, because it made me hate my main character a little bit, but it also suddenly filled me with sympathy for him. It’s one thing writing a scene in a script, but actually seeing those words become flesh and blood, Norman suddenly became Kirby for me.
As much as we wanted to stay and watch the next scene, Scott and I had to leave the set and go back to the hotel for a few hours. Chris “PROJECT GREENLIGHT” Moore had arranged to meet us at our hotel, where he rented a conference room so we could all get on the phone to our execs at New Regency to talk about RACE WITH THE DEVIL, the job we’re just now beginning. The call went great, Chris showed us some awesome storyboards, we ate a great lunch, and then Scott and I wished him well and hauled ass back out to the soundstage.
The only remaining evidence of the scenes we had missed was a bloody bathtub. Zara, a petite girl who reminds me of ANGEL’s Amy Acker, spent the better part of the morning nude, but she had some time to relax before her next scene. By now, everyone else had moved onto our main set, the screening room at Bellinger’s house. They shot most of Bellinger’s stuff on a real location, but enough freaky shit goes down in the screening room to justify building it as a set. It was completely convincing when we stood in it, complete with a working booth that housed two real projectors. Udo was wandering around by this point in a tuxedo, going over his upcoming scenes. He recognized Scott and asked him how Comic-Con was. Scott mentioned something he found there, and Udo demanded to see it. Scott went back to John’s trailer to retrieve two lobby cards from ANDY WARHOL’S BLOOD FOR DRACULA, which Udo proceeded to sign while regaling us with a story about masturbating during the filming of that film’s bloody climax. And he somehow made it all so tremendously urbane and charming that it’s easy to imagine Udo telling the same story to someone’s grandmother without causing the slightest bit of offense.
They start setting up the day’s big gag... maybe the thing I’m most curious about in the whole episode... but it’s going to take a while still...
The first few set-ups with Bellinger were relatively benign, reaction shots more than anything. Watching John shoot, I learned that Udo Kier is great with props and that he has the eyes of a silent movie star. He knows exactly how to find the light with them and use them to maximum effect. Once the scene moved from the theater to the projection booth, things got real interesting. Bellinger’s ultimate fate in the film is pretty extreme stuff, a combination of a crazy dramatic moment and a wild gore effect. When we wrote the scene, Scott and I were just trying to make each other laugh. That’s part of the fun of writing with a partner... that joy that comes from goading one another. When you’re standing there watching Sarah Graham and Mike “Fast” Fields, the on-set KNB artists, and they’re working to rig up Udo Kier’s stomach, it gets even funnier. I noticed that a number of people who hand’t watched any of the earlier shooting began to crowd in so they’d be able to watch once the cameras rolled. Before that, though, John shot some green-screen inserts involving Zara covered in blood. John poured the blood onto her carefully, covering her, then directed her to scream as part of the effect that ties the whole episode together. By the time they got those inserts finished, the crew was ready to roll on Udo’s big scene. We spent the next three hours watching take after take, angle after angle, every single one of them solid gold. Udo got several ovations from the cast and crew watching, and my favorite touch was Udo’s last line, an improv that he brought to Scott and I just before they shot the scene. It’s a killer, and Udo really milked it on every take. The laughs he got from all of us were a mix of appreciation and dark delight. Watching the sense of play between John and Udo and watching how everyone else reacted to them, it felt like we were watching a showdown. Part of that came from the fact that John carries his Panavision viewfinder in a sort of leather holster. He’s been using this same one since ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, and he’s got the title of every film he’s used it on etched into the body of the lens. You look through that lens, it’s the same one he used when he created Jack Burton or Macready or Snake Plissken, the same one that framed up THEY LIVE or PRINCE OF DARKNESS or IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. And here he was, using it to set up this totally batshit moment with Udo Kier, who’s acting his ass off, and no matter what happens with the episode, that afternoon made it all worthwhile. Scott and I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time.
The next day was just as amazing. Another early start. Tuesday was all about Norman. This was the end of the ride for Kirby Sweetman, one way or another, and the return of Christopher Redman. I was so pleased that I would get to see the Willowy Being in full appliance, but even so, I was still startled when I saw him walking over to the craft service table. I walked over and introduced myself, and I examined the KNB work up close. Howard Berger’s the main guy listed on the call sheet, but it was Sarah and Mike I saw on-set. They were also in charge of keeping the once-again-naked Zara Taylor slicked down in blood all day. She sat around in a terrycloth towel, like a sort of twisted Beach Blanket Carrie, in remarkably good spirits despite visible discomfort. On-set in the screening room again, Norman had to come face-to-face with... something. And there was a whole lot going on at once. Carpenter was shooting fast, but it seemed to be precise, orchestrated mayhem. Sitting behind the screen on the outside of the set, we could see the images being projected. Sitting in video village, we were treated to a giant backwards drive-in movie all day. Lots of blood was spilled. Norman finally cut loose as Kirby, which made perfect sense. He was numb up till this point, and it really seemed like Norman got it. I’ve liked his work in films before this, and he seemed easygoing as we spoke. At one point, I asked him if he’d seen OVERNIGHT, the film about Troy Duffy, and Norman immediately leapt to Troy’s defense. He seemed intensely loyal to Duffy, and I respect that. Norman’s one of those guys who is quiet and private when you first meet him, but as he gets comfortable, he warms up and completely changes. He’s got a very wry sense of humor, and it comes through in some of the choices he made. Everyone seems to have tuned in to that very dark sense of humor that is one of Carpenter’s trademarks, and the takes that please John the most seem to be the ones that make him laugh like a mad scientist huddled over a twitching brain on a tray.
Towards the end of the day, John was moving incredibly fast, and he and Attila kept both cameras running, shooting their own second unit at the same time as the first, picking up some important key moments from throughout the film. Christopher Gauthier, a familiar face from FREDDY VS JASON, shows up to shoot a film as “Timpson,” the projectionist at the Vogue. It was a cool moment, too, my favorite bit of Timpson’s, as he explains the title of the film for anyone who doesn’t know what a cigarette burn is.
Mick Garris showed up for a while, and talking to him about his episode “Chocolate,” he seemed very pleased. In fact, he seemed pretty happy about the entire series, the episodes he’s already seen and the ones that were still being prepped. Tobe Hooper was in the offices upstairs while we were shooting, getting ready to start his film the next day, and Don Coscarelli was in town working on the post for his episode. Everything was running along exactly as planned, and as Lisa Richardson and Tom Rowe, two more of the producers, showed up toward the end of the day, they also seemed very pleased. Talking to everyone on the crew, people seemed excited by the demands of each different episode, and more than a few of them brought in posters and DVDs and soundtracks for John to enscribe at the end of the day. Pretty much everyone seemed to be a gushing Carpenter fan when pressed on the subject. Scott and I were both given posters that were made up by the art department, replicas of the LA FIN ABSOLUE DU MONDE one-sheet that hangs in Bellinger’s office, and they were signed by John, Norman, and Udo.
We wrapped for the day fairly early, and it was impressive to see how calm John was right up to the end. As the last few shots rolled, someone broke out Dixie cups and chilled bottles of a delicious Montreal beer with a very specific name, one that was an inside joke for everyone working on the film. When we wrapped, there was a huge round of applause for John and for the cast and crew, and somewhere in the middle of it, Scott looked at me and said, “The last fifteen days here have made the last fifteen years pay off in full.”
Without any exaggeration, I can say that my life has changed twice in one month. And the thing that blows my mind most is that one day in the future, I’ll be able to sit down with my son and put in the DVD (or the Blu-Ray or whatever the hell comes after that) of “Cigarette Burns” and say, “They made this the day you were born.” I have no idea what to expect when I see the film for the first time. I remember the first night a play of ours opened, and the feeling of sitting in a theater listening to a couple of hundred people reacting to something you wrote. The thrill of that was the unpredictability from night to night.
The thrill this time is the permanence. There are so many things I’m still curious about right now. We’re still not sure if John’s going to score the film or not, but we’re praying he will. There are whole sequences that I haven’t even seen a still from. I have no idea what Katja looks like, or how the Dalibor sequence plays out.
But I’m confident. This is a group of people, this crew, who love horror movies and who love these directors and who love the jobs they get to do right now. At one point, we were sitting in front of Jim Dunn, the stunt co-ordinator. He sounded positively chipper as he said, “On the next show, we get to throw three naked girls into a dumpster... for real. And then, while they’re still naked, we get to set them on fire. For real. This has been a great week.”
Sorta says it all.
I’ll be back with my DVD Shelf and more reviews as the week wears on. Until then...
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Aug. 1, 2005, 4:59 a.m. CST
Aug. 1, 2005, 5:01 a.m. CST
Is there ever gonna be a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China? We need one before Kurt Russel gets too old to spout awesome one-liners.
Aug. 1, 2005, 5:32 a.m. CST
Aug. 1, 2005, 5:44 a.m. CST
But why are on this side ads for a more than mediocre German film?
Aug. 1, 2005, 6:48 a.m. CST
You're one cool guy in my book. I have no idea how well you write, I guess I'll find out soon. But dammit if I'm not proud of the guy who used to run "the labs" and is now an H'Wood proxy. Good to see that some people can actually get a legit career out of all of this. Amongst the chaos, there is still hope for all of us... I suppose. Also give Toshi my best wishes. Don't forget to give the kid samurai lessons, whether it's through film or an actual course. Because, you give that kid a bit of a tan in a few years and throw a sword in his hand... We're talking Kurosawa all over again.
Aug. 1, 2005, 7 a.m. CST
Is it on television or in the theatres somehow? I really want to see these.
Aug. 1, 2005, 7:07 a.m. CST
by Frog Brother
dr_dreadlocks - What you talking about? I get you are referencing the director and star but it doesn't make much sense..."Because, you give that kid a bit of a tan in a few years and throw a sword in his hand... We're talking Kurosawa all over again."
Aug. 1, 2005, 7:20 a.m. CST
Let's face it: that's what this is. No other site would run an incestuous article like this: written by a guy on who's screenplay the movie in question is based. All credit to you furthering your career, Mori, but surely you must posess enough common sense not to run such blatent selfpromoting stuff. It'll boomerang inevitably on your integrity.
Aug. 1, 2005, 7:26 a.m. CST
Take samurai lessons and tan the child. He will be a samurai named Toshiro, or "Toshi". Though Toshiro sounds far more intimidating. Also, it was a reference to Mori's kid being "cool" in the future. Kurosawa all over again... I guess next time I'll just make a vague joke and later point it out for you, Frog Brother, if I'm being too vague.
Aug. 1, 2005, 7:53 a.m. CST
I only wish i had such inspirational stories to tell on a platform well known. Something like this can really get someone like me thinking that even in the hole i live in it still is possible to make an ambition come true. Thanks
Aug. 1, 2005, 7:55 a.m. CST
Fascinating article as far as I'm concerned. I can especially relate to your story about meeting Carpenter and co. on the "Starman" set...! As someone of a similar age who loves Carpenter's films, I can fully appreciate the excitement you described. Not sure about other readers, but I have no problem reading how you - and others - achieve your personal goals in the industry. Best wishes with the show and let us know where we can see it! Rastar
Aug. 1, 2005, 8:36 a.m. CST
Man, that's something you don't ever want to hear. Complete creative control is the kiss of death.
Aug. 1, 2005, 9:06 a.m. CST
Or whatever that piece of shit "series" was. The one with Teenage Caveman and the Spiderman ripoff. So far it sounds a lot better, the plot of Cigarette Burns seems pretty cool, if not a little bit 9th Gate. But that's like saying Mac And Me is a ripoff of E.T. Oh wait...
dr_dreadlocks - I still don't understand why you have to tan the child?
Aug. 1, 2005, 9:37 a.m. CST
Carpenter needs a hit bad.He should make a Thing sequel right now!.
Aug. 1, 2005, 9:52 a.m. CST
so is this like a one hour tv show? not a 2 hour movie then ....correct?
Aug. 1, 2005, 10:14 a.m. CST
Entertaining piece but what are the real chances that a TV series will provide great horror stories week on week. If you could make something worthwhile in ten days for only 2 million bucks, then why do 60 million dollar features still suck? This series will probably be as entertaining as, well, New Twilight Zone and about as horrifying as the return to The Outer Limits was. But Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining or The Thing, well, it won't produce any of those.
Aug. 1, 2005, 10:35 a.m. CST
Or does the story of Cigarette Burns sound derivative as all hell. I mean just from the run down I can name at least three movies that this thing sounds like it's cribbed ideas from. Now that doesn't of course mean that it can't still be entertaining, and I'm not here to piss all over anyone's dreams, but it hardly seems to reek of originality is all I'm saying. And for someone who bitches about lack of originality in films so damn much, and who is often first to point out where this film or that stole ideas from (and did so badly) I just find it all rather ironic really. But again, maybe that's just me.
Aug. 1, 2005, 10:36 a.m. CST
... I thought you couldn't copyright titles and also, there's lots of films with the same or similar names. Especially if this was an old French film not available easily or that well known, why couldn't you use it? What's stopping you? Just curious about how the system works ...
Aug. 1, 2005, 1:37 p.m. CST
by fried samurai
Itll be great to see some real horror for a change.I'm so sick of the pg13 crap thats flooding the multiplexes these days.Not that blood,cursing and nudity are needed to make a good story.But the studios insisting the director deliver a pg13 to bring in the teens frustrates me to no end.Is Cronenberg involved in this?He'd be perfect for this type of format..peace
Aug. 1, 2005, 2:13 p.m. CST
Aug. 1, 2005, 2:23 p.m. CST
I think that's the coolest thing in the world man. Not only getting your script made, but by John Carpenter. Wow, I'm relly happy for you man. And ther's going to be a new horror series coming on, this is awesome.
Aug. 1, 2005, 3:19 p.m. CST
Aug. 1, 2005, 3:39 p.m. CST
Sounds like a good one. If not, at least you got a fake movie poster out of it. I want some more John Carpenter movies, man. Sure, Ghosts of Mars didn't cut the mustard, but I think he still has it. If you guys are the ones to get him rolling again, I will give you each five dollars. In fact this offer is open for anybody, whoever does the job. Please send claims to I GOT JOHN CARPENTER ROLLING AGAIN SO GIVE ME FIVE BUCKS OFFER c/o Vern, hotmail.com. Some restrictions apply, etc.
Aug. 1, 2005, 3:43 p.m. CST
Aug. 1, 2005, 3:48 p.m. CST
And it's fucking bullshit this site is ignoring the "Masters of Sci-fi" show that's being made to compliment Masters of Horror. And yeah, Carpenter had it once, but has since lost it. Had it, lost it.
Aug. 1, 2005, 3:53 p.m. CST
If you ask me, which in my opinion you did, your argument doesn't hold water. If Moriarty posted a review as "Darth Anakin" claiming he saw an early version of Cigarette Burns and it "fucking owns goat ass" or whatever, and especially the writing is superb and particularly the half of the writing that was done by some Drew Mcsuch and such, not sure of the name but he is brilliant, etc., then that would be a plant. But what he did instead was, "Hi, my name is Drew, I wrote this episode and here is my firsthand account." There is nothing about this that is dishonest or not on the level. There is nothing to be tricked into. You said other sights would not post this type of article but that's not true, the fella from chud.com is producing a Jan de Bont movie about a giant super intelligent robotic sharkman (or something like that) and I believe he has written about that at least once. Also, if you read movie magazines they are full of articles interviewing people about making a movie, this is the same thing but cuts out the middleman. A breath of fresh air. I think you will agree that you got no leg to stand on, metaphorically anyway, nothing wrong with your real legs as far as I know. Maybe you could make an argument about him writing about other movies if you think he is being too easy on somebody because he hopes to work with them or something like that, but I don't see how you could be against him writing about his experiences with his OWN movie. Right? Good, I'm glad we could agree on this now you should congratulate Moriarty I think would be the polite thing to do. thanks Griffin.
Aug. 1, 2005, 4:47 p.m. CST
by 3 Bag Enema
Not "Scott and I." When he invited I? And you're the successful writer! Seriously, though, congrats on the show and I look forward to seeing it.
Aug. 1, 2005, 5:01 p.m. CST
I have been readin' Aint It Cool News for a log time. I have always cheered you on Mort!! Lay em' to waste!!! Tear it down!!!
Aug. 1, 2005, 6:14 p.m. CST
Mori, it's great that "Cigarette Burns" is being directed by John Carpenter. I'm happy you'll be seeing a film of your own script directed by one of the greats. I mean, I don't dig everything Carpenter's directed, but he's got a twisted, R-rated sensibility that I admire. I watched "The Thing" when I was sixteen, and that movie scared the shit out of me. I'm excited to see "Cigarette Burns," as well as other episodes of the "Masters of Horror." And, with even more glee, I look forward to "Masters of Science Fiction." Can I write a script for James Cameron to direct? I'll slap myself in about two seconds...
Aug. 1, 2005, 7:03 p.m. CST
Never give up!
Aug. 1, 2005, 7:28 p.m. CST
And sure you could qualify this article as "nonfiction" I guess, but the fact that your articles flow so damn well, and that everyone on the site enjoys them (well, almost everyone), is really indicative of how Cigarette Burns is going to be. If it's anything like these articles, it'll jibe like a motherfucker.
Aug. 1, 2005, 8:52 p.m. CST
Moriarty isn't exactly the darkest man alive, is he? I was making a crack about generally pale geeks. Fuck. Man, go to Wikipedia for cripes sake, leave me alone.
Aug. 1, 2005, 10:47 p.m. CST
by Mister Man
Ever since white trash invaded our culture, everyone seems to be determined to jump on the too-much-information bandwagon. Your private life is just that. Dignity, folks.
Aug. 1, 2005, 11:37 p.m. CST
in little China *2* damnit!
Aug. 2, 2005, 12:01 a.m. CST
You're wasting your breath man. You're never going to convince some people that scrutinizing the reputation of journalistic integrity on AICN is of the utmost importance.
Aug. 2, 2005, 12:02 a.m. CST
...I don't think it's a big deal. I, like other people, were sort of interested in hearing about what's going on up in Vancouver. But that's me.
Aug. 2, 2005, 12:26 a.m. CST
Has anyone read the book Flicker? It sounds just like Moriarity's story. Its about a guy obsessed with movies and he tracks down old films that have the power to drive people mad.Great book. It really goes into the science of movies and their play with light. Cig burns are even delved into.
Aug. 2, 2005, 2:03 a.m. CST
by Frog Brother
Mori being pale or not doesn't explain why you have to tan him? so he looks japanese or something? is that what you are saying? Maybe it's a colour thing. Ah ...dreadlocks, tanning children....unless of course you are black...I'm completely baffled!
Aug. 2, 2005, 2:47 a.m. CST
in Fangoria that Corman dropped out and the guy who did 'May' is directing one. Got an "AW CRAP / oh, cool" reaction from me. Hope he uses Angela Bettis.
Aug. 2, 2005, 3:19 a.m. CST
"DARIO IN THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER! Dario Argento was mentioned in the American celebrity-gossip rag "National Enquirer," specifically in Mike Walker's column "All The Gossip" from the July 4th, 2005 issue (verbatim): Creepy? You want CREEPY?? Dining together in Vancouver, where they're filming Showtime's Masters of Horror series, directors JOHN "Halloween" CARPENTER, JOHN "American Werewolf in London" LANDIS and DARIO "Deep Red Hatchet Murders" ARGENTO started arguing after Landis called the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho "the best--because you never actually see the gory stabbing!" Italian maestro Argento suddenly started stabbing his steak with a knife, screaming, "No...NO! I LIKE to see contact with the victim...lots and lots of BLOOD! Audiences love it!"...E-E-E-EEK!...Diners next to the horror-meisters were...er, horrified and quickly moved to another table. "Well," cracked Landis, "let's stop talking shop, eh?" -Too good to be false imo.
Aug. 2, 2005, 4:04 a.m. CST
Moriarty. Ignore the talkbackers with nothing better to say to you than "why put this here?", or "who cares?" or "plant". I THINK IT'S AWESOME THAT YOU ARE GETTING THIS SCRIPT MADE AND LOVED READING THIS ARTICLE. It is very exciting to hear about the process through your eyes and I really think this movie is going to turn out great and I can't wait to see it.
Aug. 2, 2005, 4:13 a.m. CST
p.s. After all the bitching on these forums about "no new ideas in hollwood" and "lowest common-denominator crap" and "we know how to make a movie better than these hacks" you guys go and start flaming one of your own? C'mon! Isn't the real point of this website that we all think we could do better? Well, here we are and someone has a great idea and it's being realized and still all some people can do is sit there and bitch. EVERYONE IN THE ROOM WHO WROTE A SCRIPT AND GOT IT FILMED RAISE YOUR HAND! EVERYONE ELSE SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GO BACK TO BEIN A LAZY, ARMCHAIR QUARTERBACK, BASEMENT DWELLING FUCKTARD WITH ENOUGH AMBITION TO RIDICULE OTHERS AMBITION BUT NOT ENOUGH TO RISK YOUR OWN! If ANY of you guys on these forums made a script and had the chance to film it I would love to hear about it. It sounds like most people on here generally have some excellent ideas and you would think that they would be supportive of a fellow film geek like this. I'm shocked, honestly. Someone called this article "incestuous". Man, even if whoever wrote that comment got to have an experience like this I would want to hear about it. Isn't this what this website is partially for? Holding the mainstream accountable and trying to bring fresh, quality ideas in and then reading articles about the rare events when these things actually happen? I would like to think so. Good luck Moriarty and thank you for the article...There, I'm done.
Aug. 2, 2005, 4:27 a.m. CST
I just wanted to point out that I don't find it ethical to post a plug for your own movie, masquerading it as a news article. I'd have no qualms about Quint or Harry visiting the set and sharing their experiences, but Mori doing it himself sort of smells like that cheap EPK stuff you find on most dvds these days. I fully applaud Mori for getting his screenplay produced, but he should have the decency to seperate his two distinct careers. After all, even Roger Ebert doesn't review ANY of Russ Meyers movies. Even the ones he had nothing to do with. This site is called Ain't it Cool NEWS, not ain't it cool PLUGS. And let's be honest about it: plugging his movie is the main goal for Moriarty here, not giving us insight into the set. If I had both a screenwriting and a journalism career, I'd probably be tempted to do the same. But then again, I have integrity and probably wouldn't.
Aug. 2, 2005, 6:02 a.m. CST
by Frog Brother
GriffinMill. you fool! If you didn't think that was cool news you are totaly out of touch with reality. 'ivehadsex' is 100% right in what he says. read his post. couldn't have said it better myself.
Aug. 2, 2005, 8:10 a.m. CST
Except for the fact that besides 'John Carpenter is filming a new movie', there isn't really much news in the article. Which is EXACTLY my point. Why does Mori rant on for paragraph after paragraph (this really has to be the longest article I EVER read on this site!) on a bit of news he could have condensed in about 10 or 20 lines? Precisely: because HE WROTE THE SCRIPT! THAT'S why I call this shameless selfpromotion. NOT because I'm jealous, like some of you are suggesting, because I actually HAVE a script currently in preproduction, here in Europe.
Aug. 2, 2005, 8:57 a.m. CST
by Frog Brother
GriffinMill - I agree it was a tad long but self promotion or not, this site is to talk film in any shape or form. nd even if it was self promotion, so what? These guys run the site and what they do outside of that is connected. It's not as if he is talking about flipping burgers! Anyway, let's not fight. I work in the industry here in the UK. what can you tell me about your script and production. seriously, i'm interested as I am in drew's. It's all film news and that's why I come here.
Aug. 2, 2005, 9:49 a.m. CST
Who forced you to read the article? That's my question.
Aug. 2, 2005, 10:06 a.m. CST
He gets his big break, refuses to play even the LITTLEST of ball, drags said big break into the street, shoots it in the balls repeatedly. I wouldn't be intensily loyal to a dude who called Meryl Poster a cunt on film before even breaking the surface of the industry.
Aug. 2, 2005, 10:51 a.m. CST
by Frog Brother
dr_dreadlocks - I agree. Let's tan him!
Aug. 2, 2005, 1:01 p.m. CST
Oh wait. That was "In The Mouth Of Madness".
Aug. 2, 2005, 2:20 p.m. CST
Moriarty didn't REVIEW the movie, he just wrote about the experience of having his first script produced. There's no reason to expect or want it to be objective because it's autobiography. Personally I'm excited about this series because I like alot of these directors, and this is literally the first place I have seen news on it more than the list of directors and writers that's been everywhere. Plus, it's nice to sometimes get a look from the point of view of the writers, since it's different from the usual actor or director focus. So this IS cool news, bud. I wish there was more stuff like this on the sight. Now you're saying it's self promotion like that's a big deal, so what. People go on talk shows to promote their crappy movies, they don't usually give you this much insight. I have a book available at http://www.lulu.com/outlawvern, it will change your life if you buy it. etc. Big deal, we're all gonna live despite the self promotion. I thought the article was interesting. And if Harry or somebody else did the article like you suggested, you fuckin know you woulda been railing right and left about the impropriety of Harry reviewing Moriarty's script. And you'd at least have a better point than with this one. Please take my word for it, I am a world class ethicist. p.s. that is not true I am not an ethicist, and it is unethical to pose as an ethicist, in my opinion, but I could be wrong since I got no ethics. p.p.s. I was also glad to hear Mick Garris helped Moriarty out. Now I know that he probaly has positive qualities that outweigh his horrible blight on the world of entertainment. I still think the show should probaly be called MASTERS OF HORROR PLUS ONE EPISODE BY THE GUY WHO DID SLEEPWALKERS.
Aug. 2, 2005, 3:37 p.m. CST
by drew mcweeny
... I'll go one step further. It's not just this article that is exempt from objectivity... I hereby declare that I am sick and tired of hearing that word used. I am not objective about film. I have not been objective about film since the day I saw STAR WARS when I was seven. I believe that film is a completely subjective thing, and when I hear someone tie themselves in knots to try and give me an objective reaction to a movie, I tune the fuck out. If you aren't passionate about your likes and dislikes, then why would you bother writing about movies at all? As a job? Fuck that. My articles -- whether they are reviews, set visits, previews, or whatever -- are and always have been and always will be subjective as hell.
Aug. 2, 2005, 3:40 p.m. CST
All I'm saying is that no other newspaper, website or whatever would have posted a 6000 words (really! count them!) article about a book, movie, stage play, whatever that was written by the guy who also wrote the book, movie, etc. I don't think there's any disputing that. Besides, if a studio intern who worked on the latest Uwe Boll movie wrote in with a 500 sentence report on how much fun he had working for the legendary director, EVERYONE would call it a plant, EVEN IF he was just a normal guy gushing about the good time he had. Just because this time it's Mori you really shouldn't treat it any differently.
Aug. 2, 2005, 3:42 p.m. CST
Thanks for admitting I'm absolutely right in my theory!
Aug. 2, 2005, 3:58 p.m. CST
by Frog Brother
Griffin, if you feel the need to sit and count the amount of letters in an article you have far too much wasted time on your hands. MORI - thanks for the time you put into telling us about this. I found it very interesting. You don't often see movies from this point of view. Can't wait to see it!
Aug. 2, 2005, 4 p.m. CST
by Billy Goat
Dammit, I've gotta get off my slacker ass and start making me some movies!
Aug. 2, 2005, 4:05 p.m. CST
You didn't seriously think I counted them words by hand did you? There's a nice little feature in MS Word that does it for you... Anyway, now Mori has basically proved me right, I will retire from this poor excuse for a forum. Maybe I'll visit Movie City News or Coming Attractions or Variety for some REAL movie news...
Aug. 2, 2005, 5:41 p.m. CST
by drew mcweeny
The difference is that I not only admit to complete subjectivity, but I also say that any place you read that claims to be "objective" is full of shit. Movie City News? Coming Attractions? VARIETY? Agendas, each and every one. At least we wear ours up front where you can see them. That's much more honest.
Aug. 2, 2005, 6:47 p.m. CST
If you do, one day, start singing your own praise calling a script you've written "A Goldman-esque Masterpiece"... We will flame you down. But I doubt that'll happen any time soon. Plus, Mori, don't worry about what these people say. Truth is, most people are rather jealous. I mean, I'd love to work with Carpenter. But I'm glad SOMEBODY gets to... Lucky bastards.
Aug. 2, 2005, 6:49 p.m. CST
Maybe I just missed it, for which I declare myself a butthead, but when is "Masters of Horror" being released? Anyone know?
Aug. 2, 2005, 8:16 p.m. CST
I enjoyed reading your article, and I really don't get what the problem is. You weren't overtly 'bigging up' your work, just giving us an interesting bit of, as Vern said, autobiography. With the current fascination with blogging, it's only what every other person on the planet seems to be doing these days. And I see people promoting their work every way they can all over the place, and who can blame them? As long as they're not trying to hide their intentions, what's the problem? ------ Everyone seems to misunderstand websites; they're not locked into any specific 'purpose' or restriction on what they have on them (outside of legal considerations). No-one pays money to view this site, so the owners/editors have no obligation to we readers whatsoever. They can put up whatever the hell they want, and we can read it or not, and have whatever opinion of it we like. ------ Also, GriffinMill, you don't seem to understand the term 'plant'. The whole point of a plant is someone who pretends NOT to be involved in the production, but is submitting a positive review of it. Moriarty told us of his involvement, and avoided posting any real value judgements on his own work at all. That pretty much equates to: exactly the perfect opposite of a plant. ---- But where GriffinMill's really lost me completely, is comparing John Carpenter and Uwe Boll. I'm agog.
Aug. 3, 2005, 2:23 a.m. CST
by zikade zarathos
If you can't be Objective about Film, you're absolutely useless as a Critic. Like it, dislike it, whatever... your opinion's meaningless because, guess what... I'M NOT YOU. You HAVE to be able to recognize that sometimes you can like a film while objectively understanding that it's a piece of garbage, or dislike a film while objectively recognizing it's good, but just not your bag. I don't care if you personally LIKED something or not, because that doesn't tell me anything about the movie, it's just one big long story about your personal RESPONSE to the movie. Film ISN'T a completely subjective thing... every movie isn't equal. That would be like saying that if I go out and shoot an hour of film of a single shot of a leaf, it's instantly equal to CITIZEN KANE because there's probably ONE person out there who would prefer it. I've heard Moriarty say this type of thing, before, and it bugs me to no end, as it's horribly insulting to people who try to make (and HAVE made) inhererently good movies. It reduces every movie ever made to an empty, piece of crap. Without objective qualifiers (aesthetic splendor, intelligence, depth, etc), every piece of artwork is equally garbage; every opinion, no matter how baseless or ill-informed, equally valid. Concerning his top 10 list of last year, he said he hates it when a critic labels his list BEST OF THE YEAR, claiming that every list is only a FAVORITES LIST -- some are, but some of them aren't, of course, as there ARE critics able to discern what makes a good movie and a bad movie.
Aug. 3, 2005, 3:04 a.m. CST
by drew mcweeny
I totally disagree with you. Name one great critic who wrote from a purely objective point of view. Kael, often considered the biggest voice in modern film criticism? Nonsense. She wore her likes and dislikes on her sleeve. Ebert? Again... nowhere near objective. Criticism is all about bringing your understanding of a craft to the table, but also your reaction to what a filmmaker has done. If you don't react... if you don't feel... then the film is a failure. Your reaction is exactly what a review is about. You can recognize the context something falls under in terms of film history, you can admire the craftsmanship of something, but all criticism finally boils down to "did it work FOR ME or not?" Objectivity should be applied to news reporting, but "objective" criticism doesn't exist.
Aug. 3, 2005, 3:20 a.m. CST
Now Griffin left for some other sight. What the fuck are we supposed to do? What are we gonna eat? GRIFFIN, COME BACK. WE DIDN'T MEAN TO. GOD DAMN IT GRIFFIN, WE'RE IN LOVE WITH YOU. CAN'T YOU SEE THAT? Anyway, I also wanted to disagree with Zardok Zoolabog or whatever the name was right above me. Moriarty is right, the whole consumer reports method of film reviewing is worthless horseshit. You really want some dude with a fruity mustache to GUESS what you will think about the movie and give you a little chart about its artistic merits? The worst part of that school is that, in order to appeal to the masses, they gotta assume their reader is a moron with horrible taste. It's already talking down to the reader anyway because when you approach it like that, you're pretending the reader is some kind of weird retarded alien who doesn't understand that he and everybody else have tastes that differ. I mean, did you catch the end of Ebert's DEVILS REJECTS review where he said basically "listen up fuckers, I gave this movie 3 stars because I liked it. Don't come whining to me if you bring your church group and they don't like seeing a deformed giant drag a naked corpse through the woods. Use some common god damn sense and pick out your own fuckin movies you piece of shit, you're an adult and you're acting like a little fuckin whiny baby." (paraphrase). My point is, we're all adults, we all understand that we can look at Ebert's review and make a guess what we might think based on what he said and what he said about other movies we liked or didn't like. So let's not pretend otherwise. However, you are right there are some critics who are "able to discern what makes a good movie and a bad movie." That critic is called ME. For example I have proven through tests and measurements that P. Verhoeven's HOLLOW MAN is actually GOOD. I know, a lot of people are surprised but it's true, it's a good movie. Maybe not to a lot of subjective losers, but objectively and scientifically it's already been decided in the GOOD column.
Aug. 3, 2005, 3:46 a.m. CST
Aug. 3, 2005, 4:24 a.m. CST
by zikade zarathos
"Name one great critic who wrote from a purely objective point of view..." Domingos Isabelino and Panofsky. There's double what you asked for. I hated Kael and have little interest in Ebert. "[...]but all criticism finally boils down to 'did it work FOR ME or not?'" See now, I disagree with this, and if we don't see eye to eye on what the real purpose is of art criticism, then we're obviously not going to agree on your particular reviewing style. All Criticism, in my opinion, SHOULD boil down to "Did the movie work?" period. It seems to me what you're saying is that all movies are, in reality and an artistic sense, equally devoid of any inherent worth. That hour long leaf movie I mentioned above is, in fact, identical in 'worth' to CITIZEN KANE, and it would be impossible to actually argue that one's better than the other, because apparently, neither is -- it's all up to the viewer. NOTHING'S actually better or worse than anything else. Right? You've NEVER thought, "Boy, I sure like this movie, but I know it's dumb"? Or, "I don't like it, but I know it's expertly done?" Auden once said, "For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five: I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don't like it; I can see this is good and, though at present I don't like it, I believe that with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don't like it." Obviously there's levels inbetween "trash" and "good," but you get the picture...
Aug. 3, 2005, 4:57 a.m. CST
Aug. 3, 2005, 5:05 a.m. CST
Its very hard to be objective in dealing with art. Thats why there are so many diffrent views on music and movies, etc. Art inspires emotion, when reviewing a movie you are not giving a plot summary. Its not news reporting. You are sharing how you felt, the goods and bads of the project, that reflect how you think a movie should be made. Good job on the article mort. But if you could...cut it down a little. I understand the excitement, but i felt like it was pointless to talk about everything Scott said. Good luck. Thanks for the inside view. Oh, and is Chris Moore as much as a jerk in person as he seems on Project Greenlight? That guy angers me.
Aug. 3, 2005, 9:36 a.m. CST
Carpenter's trademark lately has been making shit. He's a burned out husk; his talent has run dry, like his scalp. Fucking hippie...
Aug. 3, 2005, 10:53 a.m. CST
There I said it. Halloween, Fog, Escape from New York and The Thing. Those were his days of wine and roses. Everything else (and I mean EVERYTHING else) has been of direct-to-video release quality from this hack.
Aug. 3, 2005, 1:41 p.m. CST
Some people have faith in objectivity... they know in their hearts that there is official proven good and bad movies. This debate has actually made me understand what goes on in these talkbacks. Some people have this religious belief in objectivity so that is why each and every talkback has at least 25 shitheads, er I mean men of God, coming in announcing that without room for leeway, MOVIE A SUCKS GOAT BALL SACS while MOVIE B OWNS DOGGY SHITCAKES and SCI-FI FRANCHISE X is definitely for sure only for people who have been fucked to death by a horse in Enumclaw, Washington, although SPACE ADVENTURE #23 reinvented the language of cinema to the point where it should probaly be considered both the first narrative film and the prequel to DIE HARD. AND SINCE YOU ALL HAVE DIFFERENT TASTES THAN ME AND DISAGREE WITH SOME OF WHAT I HAVE SAID, YOU ARE WORTHLESS HUMAN BEINGS AND ALSO I HEARD YOU WERE KINDA GAY. You'll notice that these type of holy rollers won't give any explanation or insight into what it is about these movies that "sucks" or "rules." In their belief system there is no need for a reason, maybe even no reason. There is just faith in GOOD and BAD. Devils and angels. Monsters and unicorns. For example the guy above who has declared that there are 4 good Carpenter movies and "everything else (and I mean EVERYTHING else)" is direct to video quality. Look here bud, I take this personally because I have watched the Cruel Intentions trilogy. I have watched the Skulls sequels. I have watched every Seagal picture. I have even watched 2 direct to video sequels to a Carpenter movie. And I know for sure, objectively and subjectively, that you are full of shit. THEY LIVE, VAMPIRES, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, ESCAPE FROM LA, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA... not only are these all good, I think they're better than THE FOG which is on your officially for sure good list. So I guess I'm a heretic. Burn me at the stake. I'm sorry, I love Jesus and all but this cinematic fundamentalism, I now realize, is why talkbacks are so ridiculous. Why can't we just accept that some felt GLADIATOR was the best picture of its year, I felt it was a piece of horse shit mainly due to the uninvolving closeup shaky cam gladiating, and maybe it's okay for various humans to disagree on movies occasionally. VIVA SUBJECTIVISM, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Aug. 3, 2005, 1:47 p.m. CST
The monikers of "good" and "trash" that you just used...where did those come from? Where were those established from? From people's OPINIONS. Opinions that grew to prominence over time for a whole slew of reasons. What we're talking about here is judging art as good or bad, which is a terribly explosive topic. Maybe it would be better to judge whether things are or are not art in the first place. But then again, the definition of art is pretty subjective. And here we are at the beginning again! yay!
Aug. 3, 2005, 2:07 p.m. CST
by zikade zarathos
We (humans) invented the concept of Art, and so, we got to invent the Rules (what's good, what's bad, what's interesting, what's not, blah blah blah). These Rules change and evolve over time, as Criticism is very much the science of what determines good and bad art -- but to claim there's no such thing as good and bad art because equally erudite critics can argue back and forth for decades about what's good and what's bad doesn't mean the entire practice is without merit. It would be like hurling out the concept of Evolution or Quantum Mechanics or Chaos Theory because experts continue to debate the details. ********* Look, I'M ALL FOR OPINIONS IN REVIEWS! Why do you think I come to this site every day?! I ENJOY reading Moriarty's, Vern's, Harry's et al opinions. They're passionate about what they do, and it's infectious. I'm not asking for this site to be replaced by robots who coldly analyze movies based on some random formula. I'm arguing, however, that there ARE objective, aesthetic principles that exist beyond pure opinion, and to claim otherwise erodes damn near the entire history and practice of Art. Peace out.
John Carpenter is going down down down
Aug. 3, 2005, 4:51 p.m. CST
by El Vale
The kid's name is Toshiro McWeeny. Ouch.
Aug. 4, 2005, 9:15 a.m. CST
... but Roger Corman ain't dead either.
Aug. 4, 2005, 9:19 a.m. CST
Congrats. I think it's inspiring when someones dream comes to actualization. Props.
Aug. 4, 2005, 12:56 p.m. CST
by Roger Thornhill
As a couple of talkbackers have so boldly stated without at all trying to explain their reasoning. The misguided consensus among American filmgoers and critics is that Carpenter somehow lost it with Prince of Darkness and never got it back. I completely disagree with this notion because not only is Prince of Darkness an excellent horror film, but Carpenter made several interesting films afterwards including THEY LIVE, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, ESCAPE FROM LA, and VAMPIRES. All of these latter day works have all the trademarks of a Carpenter film such as a paranoia, insanity, a mistrust of authority, and selfish protagonists. The Hawksian themes of a group-of- professionals-trapped-in-a-building-without- outside-help pops up slyly in PRINCE OF DARKNESS, VAMPIRES, and GHOSTS OF MARS. Indeed, some critics have rightly characterized VAMPIRES and GHOSTS OF MARS as western hybrids (another trademark of Carpenter as seen in THE THING and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA). I will concede that he has made several bombs in his latter years including MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED but he also made several lackluster pictures in his heyday such as CHRISTINE and STARMAN. I would argue that Carpenter never "lost it" and instead American audiences just lost interest in Carpenter for whatever reason. Carpenter once said, "In France, I'm an auteur; in Germany, a filmmaker; in Britain; a genre film director; and, in the USA, a bum." An apt description indeed.
Aug. 4, 2005, 6:26 p.m. CST
But even if you're one of these weirdos that hates Carpenter's style, you can't deny that he HAS a style. A hack is some director for hire with no personality. Even Carpenter's worst enemy would have to admit he's not a hack. (I wonder who his worst enemy would be, though?)
Aug. 5, 2005, 9:57 a.m. CST
by Mister Man
this site is SO boring.
Aug. 5, 2005, 1:27 p.m. CST
People are shaped by their experiences, likes, dislikes, and what they've seen before. You can't simply rip out a chunk of your brain and say, "I have no bias or emotions whatsoever and I shall blankly assimilate this unreeling flickering of light." Art is inherently about emotions and catharsis and its impossible to completely disassociate yourself from something that is designed to provoke an emotional reaction. Yes, there is the craft of filmmaking (if a movie looks "great" or "crappy" or whatever) but that all mushed together to reach the same emotional endpoint. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go out and buy a big box of tissues because I gotta go review "Dukes of Hazzard".
Aug. 5, 2005, 1:40 p.m. CST
Aug. 5, 2005, 11:56 p.m. CST
America does have a nasty habit of crapping on some of its more individual lights, & forcing them overseas to work or receive recognition.... Chaplin, Welles, Polanski ( a more complicated case, to be sure) and I'm not in any way comparing any of these to each other or to Carpenter, except for the aforementioned syndrome. Always wished Carpenter had the budgets required to make his movies properly. The current Hollywood hardon for remaking John's movies makes me think that someone else believes that too...but they won't be Carpenter movies anymore than that turd fest called the Haunting (the remake) was a Robert Wise film. Note to The Suits - remake The Thing at your own peril. While I would go back to the boards & perhaps CGI some of the "rubber head" sfxs in the Carpenter version, you clowns are not going to make a better film. Just don't do it...
Aug. 6, 2005, 2:49 a.m. CST
I actually am in the category of "person who wrote a script and had it shot". Just letting you know.
Aug. 7, 2005, 11:06 a.m. CST
that's right, "person who wrote a script and had it shot"here
Aug. 9, 2005, 10:31 a.m. CST
by Mr Bungle
...hope it turns out well. Moriarty you're a lucky bastard to be rubbing shoulders with all the horror greats, and I'm sure its not by accident. Well done on getting your script shot. I've read enough of your reviews over the last 2 years to know you have what it takes to write a refined prose with a rabid fanboy wit. I hope this series becomes the new Tales from the Crypt, coz the lack of that, Outer Limits, Perversions of Science and The Hitchhiker tales in my life (TV is dirt in bogland) has created a void that since has never been filled. I been filling it with shitty freddy's Nightmares episodes fer focks sake!
Aug. 9, 2005, 3:06 p.m. CST
by Wee Willie
Being on a soundstage with John Carpenter with Dario Argento and Stuart Gordon's sets pushed to the side, chatting with Mick Garris, while upstairs Tobe Hooper sounds very much like my idea of heaven. Except in heaven there'd be naked girls... Oh wait, there WAS a naked girl. You rock dude. All the best with everything.
Aug. 9, 2005, 3:10 p.m. CST
Started with Escape from LA. I hated that one. Then Vampires, then Ghosts of Mars. I was telling a freind of mine (a huge Carpenter fan) about The Decline of Carpenter one day and he said the following: "You're looking at these as movies, when you should be seeing them as wild crazy comic books put on film." A lightbulb went off in my head and now I like almost all of newer films. If you try to take them seriously, you're fucked. But if you enjoy them as pop madness, they're rather enjoyable.
Aug. 12, 2005, 6:55 p.m. CST
by The Tenia
I have come to this site for some time and never bothered to post... till now. After scrolling over this ridiculous masturbatory post of this "reviewer" I felt sickened, honestly. Have some class,really now. This film site should stick to updating it's fans about potentially interesting cutting edge films, NOT it's geeky writers insignificant TV schlock. The plot is a blatant rip off of POPCORN... POPCORN! for christ's fucking sake sir!
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