The Burning

the burning frears

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  Many directors are embarrassed of their first film, especially if we count their student productions. That’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to find a lot of “short starts” for this column. As we saw recently with Ridley Scott’s debut, however, the British Film Institute is to be thanked for preserving a number of early works by filmmakers from across the pond. Stephen Frears, whose latest great feature, Philomena, is now in theaters, is another example. The funny thing is that he seems like he’d rather that his first film, made in 1968, was lost and forgotten. Most directors would kill to have started off with something as smart and well-shot as The Burning, yet he claims he was clueless while making it, that it was like “being a baby playing with its own shit.” Frears wasn’t a student when he made the short, and he’d already been gaining experience as an assistant director (or assistant to the director) for such prominent British filmmakers as Lindsay Anderson (who helped Frears edit his film) and Karel Reisz and actor Albert Finney, who co-produced The Burning. The screenplay for the 31-minute film is by author Roland Starke based on his own short story, and its plot concerns a native uprising in South Africa. Similar to Scott’s short start, this one also focuses on a young boy through which we experience […]

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discs murderer lives

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Murderer Lives at 21 (UK release) A murderer is stalking the streets of Paris, and his only calling card is a literal calling card bearing the name “Monsieur Durand.” The police are getting nowhere fast, but when a petty criminal offers evidence that the killer resides in a local boarding house a top detective goes in undercover to ferret the murderer out for arrest. Hilarity ensues. I’m not kidding about it being hilarious either. Director Henri-Georges Clouzot would go on to make Wages of Fear, Diabolique and others, but his debut film shows an assured hand with both the visual style and a fantastic tonal balance between the mystery and the laughs. The dialogue moves at a ’40s screwball comedy pace, and it’s loaded with wit, smarts and innuendo. Even more impressive is the film’s final shot… especially knowing it was shot during the Nazi occupation of France. [UK DVD extras: Interview]

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Scream Factory New Releases

Shout! Factory has been kicking ass on the DVD/Blu-ray front for a while now with a mix of genre and pop culture releases that appeal to the movie/TV lovers in all of us. Most specialty labels would be content with those successes, but it wasn’t enough for these folks. A few months ago they rolled out a new genre arm called Scream Factory that focuses on horror films primarily from the 1980s. They’ve already released some pretty fantastic HD transfers and Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of Halloween II, The Funhouse, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Terror Train and They Live, and now they’ve announced their first wave of titles scheduled for 2013… and they include a certain space vampire’s ample and frequently nude assets in glorious high definition. Check below for the list of upcoming awesomeness as well as a look at their exclusive new cover art for From Beyond.

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Mondo

Tomorrow will see the grand opening of Mondo’s new gallery space in Austin, Texas. Mondo, the art boutique offshoot of the Alamo Drafthouse, has been creating t-shirts, posters, and other movie-related items for several years now. In light of the new gallery opening, it seems as good a time as any to take a look back over their illustrious career. Many current poster hounds may not realize that the Mondo legacy goes back as far as it does, but old school fans will remember the phone booth-sized storefront Mondo enjoyed at the original Alamo Drafthouse on Colorado. No bigger than a postage stamp, the Mondo room was packed to the gills with t-shirts and posters. Mondo recently put up an online archive of all of their prints dating back to 1998, which frankly made this article much easier to put together. But it also serves as a window into their fantastic past, showcasing many prints you probably missed and will now furiously try to track down. Speaking of tracking down prints, here’s the top 13 on our radar.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Some kids at a summer camp pull a prank that ends up having deadly consequences. But there’s a twist. The victim of the gag gone awry doesn’t actually die, he lives on as a deformed monster and one day returns to the camp where he goes about exacting brutal revenge on a group of horny, party obsessed teenagers. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so, but that’s not important. No matter how many of these Friday the 13th clones come out, they’re still all pretty entertaining in a cheesy way. And The Burning is definitely the cream of the crop when it comes to the pretenders, being just a notch below the genre milestones like Friday the 13th and Halloween, and certainly being better than their sequels. The killer here is Cropsy, a drunken and despised camp janitor who gets burned alive when some kids try to freak him out by putting a flaming skull in his bunk. His weapon of choice is a pair of gardening shears, which he uses to chop and slash tender young flesh. He’s silent, he’s dressed in black, and he kind of looks like a charred version of Sloth from The Goonies.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we celebrate April Fool’s Day by talking seriously about great movies, director’s cuts and movies about people cutting other people up. Our very own Criterion Files writer Adam Charles teams up with Criterion Cast co-host Ryan Gallagher to convince me to become a member of the Criterion Cult. Junkfood Cinema specialist Brian Salisbury gets together with Gordon and the Whale editor (and VHS enthusiast) Brian Kelley as we all rejoice in the 25th anniversary of the ridiculous teen slasher flick April Fool’s Day and bathe in the acid bath of a few others. Plus, Jordan Hoffman of UGO and Jeremy Smith from Aint it Cool go mano y mano in our Movie News Pop Quiz in an epic battle to save the world from impending destruction (and to talk about director’s cuts, when they work, and when they don’t). Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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