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#085 Jonathan Demme: The Silence of the Lambs vs. The Truth About Charlie




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Jonathan Demme’s best and worst rated films, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and The Truth About Charlie (2002), respectively. Nate talks bad about Markie Mark, Austin wishes he were Buffalo Bill, and they both record the podcast with some fava beans and a nice Chianti — thfthfthfthf.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Tobacco Road (1941), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Jonathan Demme about his work on The Silence of the Lambs:


The Truth About Charlie Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A woman returns from holiday to find her husband has been murdered, and several groups of people are pressuring her to unravel the mystery of his true identity and activities during his final days.

  • Ratings: IMDb 4.8 | RT 33% C / 27% A
  • Released: 2002
  • Director: Jonathan Demme
  • Writer(s): Peter Stone (Charade screenplay), Jonathan Demme & Steve Schmidt and Peter Stone and Jessica Bendinger (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto (The Sixth Sense, Star Wars: A New Hope, Signs)
  • Notable actors: Stephen Dillane, Thandie Newton, Sakina Jaffrey, Mark Wahlberg, Christine Boisson, Simon Abkarian, Joong-Hoon Park, LisaGay Hamilton, Ted Levine, Tim Robbins
  • Budget: $60 million
  • Box office: $7.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Mark Wahlberg considers this his worst film.
    • Peter Stone, the writer of Charade (1963) (the basis for the movie) was so against this remake, that in some releases of this movie, his screenwriting credit was changed to Peter Joshua, the name of Cary Grant’s character in Charade.
    • The part of Joshua Peters was originally intended for Will Smith, but due to the extended production on Ali (2001), he was unable to make the start of filming on Charlie, so Demme had to move forward with Mark Wahlberg instead, losing the Thandie Newton and Will Smith “double-act” he had imagined watching the original movie Charade (1963).
    • The movie contains numerous connections to French New Wave films. Reference is made to Shoot the Piano Player (1960) and its star, Charles Aznavour, has a singing role at the end of this movie. Anna Karina, featured in several Jean-Luc Godard films, has a bit part.

The Silence of the Lambs Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

  • Ratings: IMDb 8.6 | RT 95% C / 95% A
  • Released: 1991
  • Director: Jonathan Demme
  • Writer(s): Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto (The Sixth Sense, Star Wars: A New Hope, Signs)
  • Notable actors: Jodie Foster, Kasi Lemmons, Scott Glenn, Anthony Heald, Frankie Faison, Don Brockett, Anthony Hopkins, Brooke Smith, Ted Levine
  • Budget: $19 million
  • Box office: $272.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • In preparation for his role, Sir Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons, and studied convicted murderers, and was present during some court hearings concerning gruesome murderers and serial killings.
    • Jodie Foster claims that during the first meeting between Lecter and Starling, Sir Anthony Hopkins’ mocking of her southern accent was improvised on the spot. Foster’s horrified reaction was genuine, she felt personally attacked. She later thanked Hopkins for generating such an honest reaction.
    • Jame Gumb is the combination of three real-life serial killers: Ed Gein, who skinned his victims, Ted Bundy, who used the cast on his hand as bait to convince women to get into his van, and Gary Heidnick, who kept women he kidnapped in a pit in his basement. Gein was only positively linked to two murders, and suspected of two others. He gathered most of his materials through grave robbing, not murder.
    • When Sir Anthony Hopkins found out that he was cast as Hannibal Lecter, based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980), he questioned Director Jonathan Demme, and said, “But Dr. Treves was a good man.” To which Demme replied, “So is Lecter, he is a good man too. Just trapped in an insane mind.”
    • When Sir Anthony Hopkins’ agent called him in London, to tell him that he was sending him a script called “The Silence of the Lambs”, Hopkins immediately thought he might be going up for a children’s movie.
    • With twenty-four minutes and fifty-two seconds of screentime, Sir Anthony Hopkins’ performance in this movie is the second shortest to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, with David Niven in Separate Tables (1958) beating him, at twenty-three minutes and thirty-nine seconds.
    • Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster only share four scenes throughout the course of the film.
    • After Lecter was moved from Baltimore, the plan was to dress him in a yellow or orange jumpsuit. Sir Anthony Hopkins convinced Jonathan Demme and Costume Designer Colleen Atwood that the character would seem more clinical and unsettling if he was dressed in pure white. Hopkins has since said he got the idea from his fear of dentists.
    • One of the inspirations, from whom Sir Anthony Hopkins borrowed, for his interpretation of Hannibal Lecter, was a friend of his in London who never blinked, which unnerved anyone around him.
    • Jodie Foster spent a great deal of time with F.B.I. Agent Mary Ann Krause prior to filming. Krause gave Foster the idea of Starling standing by her car crying. Krause told Foster that at times, the work just became so overwhelming that it was a good way to get an emotional release.
    • Jame Gumb’s dance was not included in the original draft of the screenplay, although it appears in the novel. It was added at the insistence of Ted Levine, who thought the scene was essential in defining the character.
    • The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship between University of Washington criminology professor and profiler Robert Keppel, and serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy helped Keppel investigate the Green River Serial Killings in Washington. Bundy was executed January 24, 1989. The Green River Killings were finally solved in 2001, when Gary Ridgway was arrested. On November 5, 2003, in a Seattle courtroom, Ridgway plead guilty to forty-eight counts of aggravated first degree murder.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#079 Andrew Dominik: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford vs. Killing Them Softly




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Andrew Dominik’s best and worst rated films, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Killing Them Softly (2012), respectively. Nate oozes over the lighting, Austin tries to get over a cold, and they’re both surprised by how solid both of these films were.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST for our milestone 80th episode where we will compare George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with actor Ben Mendelsohn and director Andrew Dominik about Killing Them Softly:


Killing Them Softly Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.2 | RT 74% C / 44% A
  • Released: 2012
  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer(s): Andrew Dominik (screenplay), George V. Higgins (based on the novel “Cogan’s Trade” by)
  • Cinematographer: Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty)
  • Notable actors: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Vincent Curatola, Ray Liotta, Trevor Long, Max Casella, Sam Shepard, Slaine, Linara Washington
  • Budget: $15 million
  • Box office: $37.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The Turkish former minister of culture found the movie so offensive that he told the press that he wanted the age bar for this movie to be raised from 13 to 18 or, if possible, remove it from the theaters altogether.
    • Originally titled Cogan’s Trade.
    • Richard Jenkins’s character is never seen standing. He is either sitting in his car or sitting on a bar stool.
    • The first feature film to use Kodak’s 500T 5230 film stock.
    • One of the three films that received an “F” CinemaScore from audiences upon their release in 2012, along with The Devil Inside (2012) and Silent House (2011).

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Robert Ford, who’s idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.5 | RT 76% C / 75% A
  • Released: 2007
  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer(s): Andrew Dominik (screenplay), Ron Hansen (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Roger Deakins (Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Sicario)
  • Notable actors: Brad Pitt, Mary-Louise Parker, Brooklynn Proulx, Dustin Bollinger, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Schneider, Joel McNichol
  • Budget: $30 million
  • Box office: $15 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Brad Pitt’s personal favorite movie that he has acted in.
    • Of all the films made about Jesse James, his descendants have claimed that this is the most accurate. They were especially enthusiastic about Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck’s performances.
    • Cinematographer Roger Deakins has called the arrival of the train in darkness is one of the high points of his career.
    • According to Andrew Dominik, Brad Pitt’s contract stated that the movie’s name could not be changed.
    • In reality, Jesse James suffered from a syndrome that made him blink much more than the average person. Although it’s mentioned at the start of the film, Brad Pitt barely blinks during most of his scenes.
    • During filming, Sam Shepard was in his 60s and Brad Pitt was in his 40s. The characters they play are supposed to be in their 30s. Casey Affleck was in his early 30s, close to Robert Ford’s age during the epilogue, but much older than Ford’s age during the main plot.
    • Nick Cave’s score was written before the film was shot.
    • The original cut of the movie was nearly four hours long. It was edited down to two hours and forty minutes at the studio’s request. At one point, Pitt and exec producer Ridley Scott put together their own cut. When it tested poorly, they went back to Dominik’s cut. The 4-hour version played at least once, most notably at the Venice Film Festival.
    • A scene at the beginning reveals that half of Jesse James’ left middle finger is missing. The top half of Brad Pitt’s left middle finger was digitally erased in every scene in which his hands appeared.
    • Ron Hansen, writer of the novel, spent about a week on the set. He helped with editing and even had a cameo in the film. During an interview, Hansen lauded Casey Affleck, who he thought added his own perspective to the complicated character of Robert Ford. Hansen then said, “In some ways it feels like he was born to play this role.”
    • When Jesse goes looking for Jim Cummins, he introduces himself as Dick Turpin. A legendary English rogue and highway robber of the 1730s, Turpin was romanticized in English ballads and popular theatre of the 18th and 19th century. Dick Liddil introduces himself as Matt Collins, a play on Mattie Collins, Liddil’s wife.
    • Jeremy Renner was originally considered for the role of Robert Ford. He was rejected as too old.
    • The film had two production designers, Patricia Norris and Richard Hoover. Only one name could be listed in the credits, so both decided to go uncredited.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#077 Tobe Hooper: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre vs. Night Terrors




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Tobe Hooper’s best and worst rated films, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Night Terrors (1993), respectively. Nate is going to have night terrors after watching that movie, Austin wants to know where Zoe went, and they both decide to stay away from cannibalistic murderous families in Texas.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Survival of the Dead (2009), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Tobe Hooper about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:


Night Terrors Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A young girl travels to Cairo to visit her father, and becomes unwillingly involved with a bizarre sadomasochistic cult led by the charismatic Paul Chevalier, who is a descendant of the Marquis de Sade.

  • Ratings: IMDb 3.3 | RT N/A % C / 7% A
  • Released: 1993
  • Director: Tobe Hooper
  • Writer(s): Rom Globus, Daniel Matmor
  • Cinematographer: Amnon Salomon (The Mangler, The Milky Way, Infiltration)
  • Notable actors: Robert Englund, Zoe Trilling, Alona Kimhi, Juliano Mer-Khamis, Chandra West, William Finley, Irit Sheleg
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: N/A
  • Fun Facts:
    • Director Gerry O’Hara left the project because he didn’t want to shoot a screenplay which envisioned the De Sade character in the eighteenth century.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Two siblings visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas along with three of their friends and are attacked by a family of cannibalistic psychopaths.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.5 | RT 88% C / 82% A
  • Released: 1974
  • Director: Tobe Hooper
  • Writer(s): Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper (screenplay by), Kim Henkel (story by)
  • Cinematographer: Daniel Pearl (Friday the 13th, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem)
  • Notable actors: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan
  • Budget: $300 thousand
  • Box office: $30.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Marilyn Burns, whose character was chased by Leatherface through the undergrowth, actually cut herself on the branches quite badly, so a lot of the blood on her body and clothes is real.
    • Director Tobe Hooper claims to have got the idea for the film while standing in the hardware section of a crowded store. While thinking of a way to get out through the crowd, he spotted the chainsaws.
    • Surprisingly, this film is one of the least bloody horror films of all time. This is because Tobe Hooper intended to make the movie for a “PG” rating, by keeping violence moderate, language mild, and having most of the horror implied off-screen rather than shown in great detail onscreen. However, this plan had actually backfired, and made the film even more horrifying. Because despite cutting and repeated submissions, the Ratings Board insisted on an “X” rating, and it wasn’t until the film received the “R” rating when Hooper gave up and released it. Hooper had a similar ratings problem with the sequel.
    • According to John Larroquette, his payment for doing the opening narration was a marijuana joint.
    • Even in his lift boots, Gunnar Hansen could run faster than Marilyn Burns, so he had to do random things when chasing her through the woods (you’ll notice in one head-on shot that he starts slicing up tree branches in the background).
    • Leatherface had “lines” in the script that were gibberish with little side notes indicating what he was trying to say.
    • A still photo, taken during filming of the entire “Sawyer” family posing outside the house as a gag, was found and stolen from the set by a visiting German reporter, who took it back to West Germany with him, and the image of the family eventually became the advertising poster for the first release of the movie in West Germany.
    • The soundtrack contains no sounds from musical instruments (with the exception of some copyrighted music they had the rights to), instead they used sounds an animal would hear inside a slaughterhouse.
    • Tobe Hooper allowed Gunnar Hansen to develop Leatherface as he saw fit, under his supervision. Hansen decided that Leatherface was mentally handicapped and never learned to talk properly, so he went to a school for the mentally handicapped and watched how they moved and listened to them talk to get a feel for the character. He also tried his best to make his portrayal as non-offensive as he could. Many fans including those who are mentally handicapped, say he succeeded.
    • After getting into the old-age makeup, John Dugan decided that he did not ever want to go through the process again, meaning that all the scenes with him had to be filmed in the same session before he could take the makeup off. This entire process took about 36 hours (five of which which took to put the makeup on), during a brutal summer heat wave where the average temperature was over 100 degrees, with a large portion of it spent filming the dinner scene, with him wearing a heavy suit and necktie, sitting in a room filled with dead animals and rotting food with no air conditioning or electric fans. Everyone later recalled that the stench from the rotting food and people’s body odor was so terrible that some crew members passed out or became sick from the smell. Edwin Neal who played the hitch-hiker claimed: “Filming that scene was the worst time of my life . . . and I had been in Vietnam, with people trying to kill me, so I guess that shows how bad it was.”
    • Gunnar Hansen wore three-inch heels so that he was taller than the rest of the cast, but it meant that he had to duck to get through the doorways in the slaughterhouse.
    • Gunnar Hansen said that, during filming, he didn’t get along very well with Paul A. Partain, who played Franklin. A few years later he met Partain again and realized that Partain, a method actor, had simply chosen to stay in character even when not filming. The two remained good friends up to Partain’s death.
    • Due to the low budget, Gunnar Hansen had only one shirt to wear as Leatherface. The shirt had been dyed, so it could not be washed; Hansen had to wear it for four straight weeks of filming in the hot and humid Texas summer. By the end of the shoot, no one wanted to stand near Hansen or sit next to him during breaks to eat lunch because his clothing smelled so bad.

Intro music by Eric Lynch



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#068 Kathryn Bigelow: The Hurt Locker vs. Blue Steel




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Kathryn Bigelow’s best and worst rated films, The Hurt Locker (2008) and Blue Steel (1990), respectively. Nate goes on a rant about Alien: Covenant, Austin has a problem with female directors, and they both hate incompetent people.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) and Elysium (2013), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with director Kathryn Bigelow about the making of The Hurt Locker:


Blue Steel Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A female rookie in the police force engages in a cat and mouse game with a pistol wielding psychopath who becomes obsessed with her.

  • Ratings: IMDb 5.6 | RT 71% C / 36% A
  • Released: 1990
  • Director: Kathryn Bigelow
  • Writer(s): Kathryn Bigelow & Eric Red (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Amir Mokri (Man of Steel, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Lord of War)
  • Notable actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown, Elizabeth Pena, Louise Fletcher, Philip Bosco, Kevin Dunn, Richard Jenkins, Markus Flanagan, Mary Mara, Tom Sizemore
  • Budget: N/A
  • Box office: $8.2 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Tom Sizemore’s film debut.
    • Was originally set to be released by Vestron Pictures and its offshoot label Lightning Pictures but ultimately acquired by MGM due to Vestron’s financial problems and eventual bankruptcy at the time.
    • Philip Bosco plays the father of policewoman Jamie Lee Curtis. In real life, he’s the son of policewoman.
    • In Germany, it was distributed as “a film from Oliver Stone”, even though Stone was only one of the movie’s producers.

The Hurt Locker Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.6 | RT 98% C / 84% A
  • Released: 2008
  • Director: Kathryn Bigelow
  • Writer(s): Mark Boal (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker, Captain Phillips, The Big Short)
  • Notable actors: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly, Christian Camargo
  • Budget: $15 million
  • Box office: $49.2 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The film was shot on location in Jordan. Part of the shoot (one week) was to take place in Kuwait on a U.S. Military Base; however, access was denied.
    • Kathryn Bigelow claims that no scene filmed was left out of the final cut.
    • The expression “the hurt locker” is a preexisting slang term for a situation involving trouble or pain, which can be traced back to the Vietnam War. According to the movie’s website, it is soldier vernacular in Iraq to speak of explosions as sending you to “the hurt locker.”
    • It was James Cameron who convinced his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow to direct this film. She originally had planned on doing another project and wasn’t sure about doing this film. Cameron read it and told her to do this film, and it ended up earning her an Oscar nomination and award for Best Director. In fact, the film was nominated in nine categories against Cameron’s Avatar (2009), and won six awards, including Best Picture. Cameron himself had said, “I wouldn’t bet against her.”
    • Jeremy Renner tripped and fell down some stairs while carrying an Iraqi boy on the film’s set. Shooting was stopped for several days while Renner’s ankle healed.
    • During filming, three, four or more hand-held super 16mm cameras were used to film scenes in documentary style. Nearly two hundred hours of footage was shot at an eye-popping 100:1 shooting ratio (a higher ratio of expended film than the notorious Francis Ford Coppola epic, Apocalypse Now (1979)).
    • Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award, the BAFTA, and the DGA for Best Director, with this film. This is also the first film to win Best Picture that was directed by a woman.
    • Jordan is such a safe location that the actors didn’t want to have bodyguards, as was first intended. There was no Jordanian military acting as security for the film. Security, set dressing and onset, was provided by a private company.

Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down – Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0


 


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#066 Terence Young: Wait Until Dark vs. Inchon




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Terence Young’s best and worst rated films, Wait Until Dark (1967) and Inchon (1981), respectively. Nate is seeing in black and white, Austin flirts with Audrey Hepburn, and they both watch one of the worst movies ever made. Spoiler alert: it sucked.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional (1994) and Arthur and the Revenge of the Maltazard (2009), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this segmented series of behind the scenes footage from the making of Inchon:


Inchon Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: During the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur masterminds the amphibious invasion of Inchon in September 1950.

  • Ratings: IMDb 2.7 | RT 0% C / 9% A
  • Released: 1981
  • Director: Terence Young
  • Writer(s): Robin Moore and Laird Koenig (screenplay), Robin Moore and Paul Savage (story)
  • Cinematographer: Bruce Surtees (Dirty Harry, Beverly Hills Cop, Escape from Alcatraz)
  • Notable actors: Laurence Olivier, Jacqueline Bisset, Ben Gazzara, Toshiro Mifune, Richard Roundtree, David Janssen, Kung-won Nam, Gabriele Ferzetti, Rex Reed, Sabine Sun, Dorothy James, Karen Kahn, Lydia Lei, James T. Callahan
  • Budget: $46 million
  • Box office: $5.2 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • When location filming ran past the original production schedule, Laurence Olivier insisted on being paid his “bonus salary” in weekly cash payments, delivered to him as briefcases full of money, flown to the location by helicopter.
    • The movie had an estimated loss of $44,100,000.
    • The recreation of the Inchon lighthouse was destroyed by a typhoon during filming, and had to be rebuilt.
    • Most of the cast and crew were paid in cash, which furthered suspicions that it was funded by the controversial Unification Church.
    • The film has never officially been released on home video or DVD. It was broadcast on cable TV during the early 2000s.
    • The climactic scene of the fleet coming into harbor had to be re-shot when an assistant director misinterpreted instructions and ordered the ships to head out of camera range.
    • The United States Department of Defense supplied 1,500 American troops (stationed in Korea) as extras. When they found out the Unification Church was one of the financial backers, they withdrew support and asked that credit be removed.
    • Initial footage of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s final limo scene was rejected because the crowd was too small. The scene was re-shot in Korea, but the shots of the crowds and the limo didn’t match. Finally, the crew rented a studio in Dublin and put the limo against a rear projection of the crowds. The three-minute scene cost over $3 million.

Wait Until Dark Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A recently blinded woman is terrorized by a trio of thugs while they search for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.9 | RT 95% C / 91% A
  • Released: 1967
  • Director: Terence Young
  • Writer(s): Frederick Knott (play), Robert Carrington & Jane-Howard Hammerstein (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Charles Lang (Some Like It Hot, The Magnificent Seven, Charde)
  • Notable actors: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Jack Weston
  • Budget: $3 million
  • Box office: $17.5 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • In an interview, Alan Arkin talked about the Oscar nominations he received for his early major film roles (The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966) and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968). When asked if he was surprised that he was overlooked for “Wait Until Dark”, his second movie, he replied: “You don’t get nominated for being mean to Audrey Hepburn!”
    • During World War II, 16-year-old Audrey Hepburn was a volunteer nurse in a Dutch hospital. During the battle of Arnhem, Hepburn’s hospital received many wounded Allied soldiers. One of the injured soldiers young Audrey helped nurse back to health was a young British paratrooper – and future director – named Terence Young who more than 20 years later directed Hepburn in Wait Until Dark (1967).
    • In his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, Stephen King declared this to be the scariest movie of all time and that Alan Arkin’s performance “may be the greatest evocation of screen villainy ever.”
    • The role that eventually went to Alan Arkin was difficult to cast because the producers couldn’t find actors willing to be cast in such a villainous role – not only terrorizing a blind woman, but terrorizing beloved Audrey Hepburn to boot! Alan Arkin later went on to say how easy it was for him to get the role because of the reluctance of other actors to take it.
    • During the credits there is no credit for costumes, this is because Audrey Hepburn herself picked the clothes she wore from the stores in Paris.
    • Audrey Hepburn’s only horror film, despite it more commonly being categorized as a suspense-thriller.
    • As a way to get people to see the movie, the filmmakers made a print ad and cautionary trailer that read: ‘During the last eight minutes of this picture the theatre will be darkened to the legal limit, to heighten the terror of the breathtaking climax which takes place in nearly total darkness on the screen. If there are sections where smoking is permitted, those patrons are respectfully requested not to jar the effect by lighting up during this sequence. And of course, no one will be seated at this time.’ It worked and the film became a huge success because of it.

Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down – Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0


 


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#062 John Boorman: Deliverance vs. Exorcist II: The Heretic




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare John Boorman’s best and worst rated films, Deliverance (1972) and Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), respectively. Nate finally rates a film 1/10, Austin is possessed by Pazuzu, and they both squeal like a pig.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein (1974) and Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview with the cast of Deliverance:


Exorcist II: The Heretic Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A teenage girl once possessed by a demon finds that it still lurks within her. Meanwhile, a priest investigates the death of the girl’s exorcist.

  • Ratings: IMDb 3.7 | RT 20% C / 13% A
  • Released: 1977
  • Director: John Boorman
  • Writer(s): William Goodhart (written by), John Boorman and Rospo Pallenberg (uncredited)
  • Cinematographer: William A. Fraker (Rosemary’s Baby, Tombstone)
  • Notable actors: Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, Kitty Winn, Paul Henreid, James Earl Jones, Ned Beatty
  • Budget: $14 million
  • Box office: $30.7 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • William Friedkin, director of the first film, told a story, recalled to by a Warner Bros. executive, at the Chicago Critics Film Festival in April 2013. Studio heads came to the sneak preview of “Exorcist II” in a limo, and told the drivers to go get fast food. They entered the auditorium, and within 10 minutes into the film, an audience member stood up, glanced into the crowd, and proclaimed: “The people who made this piece of shit are in this room!” 10 or 12 other audience members gathered to find the executives. The heads rushed out of the theater and realized that there were no cars to make their escape. They were subsequently chased down the street by a group of angry audience members.
    • The original cast and crew of The Exorcist (1973) were very much opposed to a sequel. William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty actually met to discuss ideas at one point, but when they failed to develop a suitable premise, they abandoned the project. Both Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn turned down repeated offers by the studio, though Blair eventually agreed to return when presented with what she considered a good script. However, according to Blair, due to various rewrites the script ended up a total mess. By that point, however, she was contractually bound to a sequel, and unable to drop out of the project.
    • The original, opening night version of this film was so poorly received that the audience at a theater on Hollywood Blvd. actually threw things at the screen to express their disgust when it was over.
    • Stanley Kubrick turned down the offer to direct. When John Boorman accepted, Kubrick warned him that the only way a sequel to “The Exorcist” would succeed is if it were to be more graphic and horrific than the original.
    • Linda Blair has said that Richard Burton started out sober, but frequently became drunk during the middle and end of filming. She also says that tensions were high among the cast.

Deliverance Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.7 | RT 93% C / 82% A
  • Released: 1972
  • Director: John Boorman
  • Writer(s): James Dickey (screenplay), James Dickey (novel), John Boorman (additional dialogue)
  • Cinematographer: Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
  • Notable actors: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, Billy Redden, Bill McKinney, Herbert Coward
  • Budget: $2 million
  • Box office: $46.1 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • In the year after the film’s release, more than 30 people drowned in the Chattooga River while trying to replicate the characters’ adventures.
    • To minimize costs, the production wasn’t insured, and the actors did their own stunts. Jon Voight actually climbed the cliff.
    • The rape scene was filmed in one take, largely because Ned Beatty didn’t want to film it repeatedly.
    • To save costs and add to the realism, local residents were cast in the roles of the hill people.
    • According to director John Boorman, the gas station attendant’s jig during “Dueling Banjos” was unscripted and spontaneous.
    • Burt Reynolds broke his coccyx while going down the rapids when the canoe capsized. Originally, a cloth dummy was used, but it looked too much like a dummy going over a waterfall. While Reynolds recovered, he asked, “How did it look?” Boorman replied, “Like a dummy going over a waterfall.”
    • Much of the film had to have its color desaturated because the river looked too pretty.
    • “Dueling Banjos” was the first scene shot. The rest of the movie was almost entirely shot in sequence.
    • The rape scene as originally scripted consisted mainly of swearing. The “squeal like a pig” phrase was an attempt to “clean up” the scene for TV viewing. John Boorman liked the “cleaner” version, and used it in the film.
    • Much of the dialogue is taken almost verbatim from the source novel.
    • Burt Reynolds breakthrough role, transforming him from an actor to a film superstar.

Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down – Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0


 


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#056 Alfonso Cuaron: Children of Men vs. Great Expectations




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare Alfonso Cuaron’s best and worst rated films, Children of Men (2006) and Great Expectations (1998), respectively. Nate came with low expectations and was still disappointed, Austin decides he he’s not a fan of the book either, and they both oggle over Children of Men.

Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind (2001) and The Dilemma (2011), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this behind the scenes footage of how they shot the car scene in Children of Men:


Great Expectations Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Modernization of Charles Dickens classic story finds the hapless Finn as a painter in New York pursuing his unrequited and haughty childhood love.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.8 | RT 38% C / 78% A
  • Released: 1998
  • Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Y Tu Mama Tambien)
  • Writer(s): Charles Dickens (novel), Mitch Glazer (screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, The Revenant, Birdman)
  • Notable actors: Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hank Azaria, Chris Cooper, Anne Bancroft, Robert De Niro
  • Budget: $25 million
  • Box office: $55 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • In his book, “What Just Happened?”, producer Art Linson reveals that the narration in the movie was written by David Mamet. It was done for free, on the condition that nobody ever find out he did it.
    • The main character is named “Pip” in Charles Dickens’s novel. But it was felt that the name would sound strange in modern times. The character was named “Finn” after Ethan Hawke’s dog.
    • Alfonso Cuarón always uses green (he even auditioned green eyed girls for A Little Princess (1995)) as the main color of his movies. He uses red and orange (complimentary and opposite colors) to make some remarks.
    • Ethan Hawke later dissed the film, calling it “a lousy experience”. He added that he felt he had been talked into making the movie, something he realized about a month into shooting which was then too late for him to pull out.

Children of Men Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.9 | RT 92% C / 85% A
  • Released: 2006
  • Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Y Tu Mama Tambien)
  • Writer(s): Alfonso Cuaron & Timothy J. Sexton (screenplay), David Arata (screenplay), Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby (screenplay), P.D. James (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, The Revenant, Birdman)
  • Notable actors: Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julianna Moore, Charlie Hunnam, Danny Huston
  • Budget: $76 million
  • Box office: $70 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • In the movie, the infertility crisis is the result of all women being infertile. In the original novel by P.D. James, it’s the result of all men producing no sperm.
    • The street battle where Clive Owen has to take cover in a battered building caused concern for the studio as it took fourteen days to prepare this one shot, with a delay of five hours every time it had to be reshot. It was shot over the course of two days, but only one complete take was actually captured on film. In the middle of one take, some blood spattered on the camera lens. Alfonso Cuarón nearly ruined this take by shouting “Cut!” but his voice was obliterated by the sound of tank and gunfire. Looking at the footage, Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki persuaded Cuarón to leave it in, and that is the shot that appears in the final film.
    • Sir Michael Caine based his performance on John Lennon.
    • When Miriam is taken off the bus in the refugee camp you can hear the song “Arbeit Macht Frei” by The Libertines. “Arbeit macht frei,” meaning “Work shall set you free,” was written above the entrances of all Nazi death/concentration camps of World War II (with the exception of Buchenwald, where the entrance read “Jedem das Seine”, engl.: “to each his own”).
    • Theo never gets to smoke an entire cigarette.
    • Almost every shot contains an animal, usually a dog.
    • Clive Owen’s character, Theo, does not use or even touch a gun at any point throughout the entire movie.

Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down – Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0


 


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#055 James Wan: Saw vs. Dead Silence w/ guest Spencer Roberts and Matthew Kerr de Salles




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In today’s episode Nate and Austin compare James Wan’s best and worst rated films, Saw (2004) and Dead Silence (2007), respectively. Nate thought Dead Silence needed more CGI tongues, Austin talks about his time marathoning the Saw franchise, and Spencer and Matthew are both terrified of dolls.

Check back Sunday, March 26 at 7pm PST where we will compare Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men (2006) and Great Expectations (1998), his best and worst rated films.


Also check out this interview of James Wan and Leigh Whannell on making Saw:


Dead Silence Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A young widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife’s murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist.

  • Ratings: IMDb 6.2 | RT 21% C / 51% A
  • Released: 2007
  • Director: James Wan
  • Writer(s): Leigh Whannell (screenplay), James Wan & Leigh Whannell (story)
  • Cinematographer: John R. Leonetti (The Conjuring, The Mask, Insidious)
  • Notable actors: Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Fairman, Joan Heney, Bob Gunton, Laura Regan
  • Budget: $20 million
  • Box office: $22 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • During the climax, in the storage area with all 101 dolls, you can see Jigsaw’s doll from the “Saw” films sitting on the floor, and Edgar Bergen’s doll Charlie McCarthy on one of the shelves. The doll that Detective Lipton throws over his shoulder in this scene is a replica of ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson’s doll, Danny O’Day.
    • There are two different versions of the “Mary Shaw” poem. In the movie the poem goes, “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children only dolls. And if you see her in your dreams, be sure you never, ever scream.” On the trailer it was, “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw. She had no children, only dolls. And if you see her do not scream, she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam.”
    • “Billy” was not only the name of one of the dummies in this movie, but also the name of the puppet used by the Jigsaw killer in the “Saw” movies, also created by Leigh Whannell and James Wan.
    • The film was made into a haunted house at Universal’s “Halloween Horror Nights” in 2007 in Florida.
    • The film is dedicated to producer Gregg Hoffman. He died 2 years before the film had its theatrical release.
    • Leigh Whannell was so unhappy with the finished product, due to studio interference, that he decided to write all future scripts on spec, as opposed to pitching an idea to a studio and then being paid to write the screenplay, as was the case with this film.

Saw Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there or why, and soon discover they are pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.

  • Ratings: IMDb 7.7 | RT 48% C / 84% A
  • Released: 2004
  • Director: James Wan
  • Writer(s): Leigh Whannell (written by), James Wan and Leigh Whannell (story)
  • Cinematographer: David A. Armstrong (Pawn, On the Inside)
  • Notable actors: Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer, Paul Gutrecht, Michael Emerson, Benito Martinez, Shawnee Smith, Makenzie Vega, Monica Potter
  • Budget: $1.2 million
  • Box office: $103.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • According to the DVD commentary director James Wan points out that many of the scare scenes in the film were nightmares he and Leigh Whannell had as kids.
    • All of the bathroom scenes were shot in chronological order in order to make the actors feel more what the characters were going through.
    • One of the most profitable horror films of all time.
    • Filmed in 18 days.
    • Director James Wan took a gamble and took no “up front” salary for the movie and opted for a percentage instead.
    • James Wan did not intend to make a torture porn film. It’s not really until the sequels got into gear that the films got what he describes as “more explicitly nasty”.
    • The sequel Saw II (2005) was approved for production the weekend this film opened.
    • Casting director Amy Lippens chose her ex-husband in the role of Mark, the man who burns himself alive.
    • Film’s pre-production was only five days; it was shot and cut at the same time in 18 days (all of the bathroom scenes were shot in six days). The actors had absolutely no rehearsals. The rehearsal takes were actual footage for the film.
    • James Wan wanted the camera movements to reflect the two main characters emotions and personality. He filmed Dr. Gordon with steady controlled shots and Adam as hand-held shots to capture their emotions of the situation.
    • Jigsaw’s puppet was completely made from scratch by the films creators (it was not bought at a store or a puppet that was altered).
    • The MPAA originally rated the film NC-17, due to the film’s tone; director James Wan had to remove some content to secure an R rating.
    • In post-production, James Wan discovered that he didn’t have enough shots or takes to fill out most of his scenes. So he and editor Kevin Greutert created their own filler shots by doctoring some of them to make them look as if they were filmed through a surveillance camera.
    • Originally intended for a straight-to-video release. After positive screenings, it was given the nod to become a premier movie.

Intro music: Calm The Fuck Down – Broke For Free / CC BY 3.0