LEONARD NIMOY, 1931-2015

Well, we have all received some horrible news. Our man, Leonard Nimoy, the indispensable “Spock” of the original “Star Trek” Enterprise crew and prolific character actor has sadly passed away at 83. He is survived by his widow, Susan Bay and his children Adam and Julie. His career spanned over half a century and his impact on both the sci-fi genre and tv/film history in general will be felt for decades if not millennia to come.

His final public words: “Live long and prosper”. Indeed. We will all miss you Spock.

Rest in peace.

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WILD ABOUT WILD

Let’s just say it up front, Reese Witherspoon has sorta kinda maybe let us all down just a little bit. Starting her career with small indies like “S.F.W” and “Overnight Delivery” with Paul Rudd, she exploded into the cult consciousness with the WILD-ly underrated “Freeway” where she gave the performance of her career as hilarious troubled teen Vanessa Lutz. Starring opposite Keifer Sutherland as serial killer Bob Wolverton, Reese managed to portray a convincingly lost, tragic and often-hilarious young woman who can more than hold her own even in the most life-threatening of circumstances. Since then, with the exception of a few amusing turns in “American Psycho”, “Election” and “Legally Blonde”(the first one, NOT that godawful second one), the early promise of her career seemed to be dwindling with each silly movie she made. Her cinema momentum had waned so much that by the late 2000’s, she was relegated to the bargain bin rom coms and tepid period pieces generally reserved for such former 90’s teen stars.

Then WILD came along.

To be brief, WILD is the Nick “High Fidelity” Hornby-adapted story based on the book “Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail” which details the real-life exploits of Cheryl Strayed as she makes her way along the titular path. At the point we join Cheryl, she has essentially lost everything. In the wake of her mothers death, her slip into heroin and sex addiction has destroyed her marriage and alienated her from everyone and everything she knows. Desperate to re-invent herself as “the woman my mother always thought I would be”, she packs a comically large backpack and heads off on a cathartic journey starting at the southern border with Mexico and ending at the northern border with Canada. What could easily slip into the cliche’s and routines of films about self-awakening and triumphing over adversity, instead turns into a penetrating examination of the small things in our past that guide our present and future. It’s a good little character study, and I was blown away by Reese’s performance. It’s no surprise upon reflection that the steady hand that guided Mrs. Witherspoon thru the travails of Cheryl’s life was none other than wunderkind and director-of-the-moment Jean-Marc Valle’, whose last feature, “Dallas Buyers Club” garnered Oscar wins for BOTH of it’s male leads. The movie is honestly much as you would expect, but integrates steam-of-consciousness cinematography with the story progression, making this journey more psychological than physical. And, as a fun cinema treat, Face Eater favorite and David Lynch-muse Laura Dern pulls off another wonderfully haunting portrayal of a free-spirited mother trying her best to keep personal demons at bay.

As the movie progresses, one’s expectations of what’s going to happen are disarmed and you find yourself appreciating the subtly of the whole affair. It’s a simple tale. In the beginning, she starts down a path and at the end, she reaches it’s conclusion. What happens in between is worth a good look though as it’s deftly written, overall well acted, and Reese has proven she still has some of that Vanessa Lutz-level intensity left in her after all. We say ride the wave Reese. It’s all uphill from here, baby.

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BIRDMAN’S TRIMUPH AT THE OSCARS MAY BE A REALLY GOOD SIGN

Well, by this time, it isn’t new news that the ambitious, meta-referential indictment of modern consumerism and art, “Birdman” took home the top prize at the 87th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night. In possibly one of the most delightfully surprising wins in Oscar history, the film by Alejandro G. Inarritu and starring a revelatory Michael Keaton as the titular character also managed to snag the awards for Best Director, Best Cinematography AND Best Original Screenplay. We won’t go much into the plot so as to not spoil any of it, but if you’ve already sat down with this little feature, you know what the hype is all about. For us here at The Face Eaters, the top prize was easily just a contest between “Birdman”, Richard Linklater’s latest experiment-gone-right, “Boyhood” and dark horse “Whiplash”(my personal choice). But that’s just us. A whole other part of the viewing public and the Academy itself would seem to be more on par with themselves by giving the award to one of the other nominees like “American Sniper”, “The Theory of Everything” or early frontrunner in the Oscar race, “Selma”. But what we can perhaps take away from this win is the fact that times are changing, and hopefully for the better. Not only with regards to what we want to see, but what we choose to praise. It’s hard to deny the belief that year after year the Best Picture winner is often a much safer play than a more deserving film also in contention. Need we forget the still mildly shocking 1994 Oscars ‘incident’, when “Forrest Gump” beat out “Pulp Fiction” for the big award? You tell us; what has had a larger effect on cinema history? The genre-bending, Hollywood-revitalizing, precedent-setting iconography of Taratino’s masterpiece?

OR, uh, Forest…f***ing…Gump?

SO, with this brave move by the Academy to award a brave film which takes so many liberties with time, structure and narrative, to say nothing of it’s dark sense of humor, mayhaps we can expect some more deserving films to get nudged into serious contention in the coming years. Additional wins at this year’s show by Best Supporting Actress winner, Patricia Arquette(of “Nightmare on Elm Street 3” fame) for “Boyhood” and Best Supporting Actor winner, J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash” can also be seen as sign that the Oscars are maturing with age. Here’s hoping anyway. Congrats to Inarritu, Keaton and the whole crew for their wins. A wonderful movie and a welcome sea change at the biggest show Hollywood has to offer.

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(Author’s note: NO, we don’t hate “Forrest Gump”. But it’s no “PULP FICTION”)

FACECON III BADGES FINALIZED

For all those attending FACECON III in just a few weeks time, we have locked down the list of attendees and completed the personalized badges. Everyone coming can expect one of these bad boys, to say nothing of a FACECON III lanyard. On the backside is the program schedule so you will always know what screening or event is happening next. Thank you to every Face Eater who helped make suggestions for the lineup this time around. It’s gonna be one to remember people. We shall see you IN THE WOODS!!

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SIGHTSEEING IN R’LYEH…

“That Is Not Dead Which Can Eternally Inspire Homage….”

It is a well recognized fact that few, if any, American writers have had as much impact on the genre of literary horror as Providence, Rhode Island born (8/20/1890) shut-in, xenophobic racist, and all-around awkward guy Howard Phillips Lovecraft. And those familiar with his work understand why. While Lovecraft did have his flaws, chiefly and most discussed among them his often-times overly flowery and descriptive prose, his extraneous usage of superfluous flourishes (gibbous and eldritch, we’re looking at you here…), and arguably, as he went on, a bit of an over-reliance on the idea of something so hideous, so out-of-context with the natural world and overwhelmingly incomprehensible to the minds of men that no true description can be given, he was the master at building a tense and uncomfortable atmosphere of dread. Lovecraft took to new levels the art of creating a sense of impending doom being carried on the wings of some great and ancient evil, malevolent and powerful beyond the understanding of humanity, to whom we carry the significance of dust in the cosmic wind, and he single-handedly gave birth to a wonderful and terrible mythos of creatures and gods and horrors waiting just outside the limits of our perception. So beloved was H. P. and his nightmare brood in fact, that after he died his contemporaries and admirers in horror-lit formed The Lovecraft Circle, including notable authors such as Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, Karl Edward Wagner, Frank Belknap Long, Clark Aston Smith, and August Derleth, to carry on and expand the world and mythos of Great Cthulhu, Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath, Nylathotep: the Crawling Chaos, Cthuga, Abdul-Alhazzared, Dagon,  Innsmouth, Arkham, Miskatonic University, the much fabled and feared Necronomicon and so, so many more.  While all of this is well known amongst fans of Lovecraft’s work, what is less well known and inexplicably even less discussed, is Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s subtle but pervasive influence (which continues even to this day) on cinema (including not only the semi-obscure horror-genre classic fare one would expect, but major motion-pictures and blockbusters throughout the years), as well as music, art, and most amusingly, pop-culture. And that, my friends, is a terrible shame I feel strongly compelled to rectify. So these will be the topics of this continued series of posts going forward. That’s right fellow cultists, we will examine, on a case by case basis, the undeniable hand of Lovecraft’s genius at work where ever it has shown or will show itself, to do our part to spread awareness of the chaos creeping in from the periphery of our existence. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are too…

…and remember, in the prophetic words of H.P.L.:

“That Is Not Dead Which Can Eternal Lie, Yet With Strange Aeons,  Even Death May Die…”

“In His House At R’lyeh, Dead Cthulhu Waits Dreaming….”

DID JOHN CARPENTER HELP OBAMA GET ELECTED?

Here’s an idea to twirl around the old noggin’. John Carpenter writes(under the pseudonym Frank Armitage, itself being a reference to Carpenter’s hero, H.P. Lovecraft) and directs the film “They Live”(1988) which becomes an instant classic. Almost a decade later, up and coming graphic designer and street artist Shepard Fairey adopts the conformist propaganda/OBEY iconography from the now classic cult film into his growing design/clothing line featuring the face of 80’s wrestler Andre the Giant. OBEY is born. And riding that success, Fairey becomes such a prolific modern artist that he is commissioned to make the art for Presidential nominee Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. The iconic HOPE poster joins the zeitgeist. In turn, it helps Obama ride his grassroots momentum to an astute victory over the republican nominee making him the first African-American to hold office in US history.

Conclusion?

Carpenter was partly responsible for Obama getting elected.

Crazy?

Crazy like a FOX!

Heh…

No, sadly this was likely not a large factor in Obama’s decisive win over McCain, but it’s a fun thought. This much IS true: whether it’s having Keith David mercilessly kick Roddy Piper’s ass for what seems like hours or indirectly helping the first black president get elected, John Carpenter is not only one of the greatest film makers ever, he seems to enjoy empowering black men with the work he does. Remember that Keith David is also one of the only two people alive at the end of Carpenter’s “The Thing”(1982). Just another reason he totally kicks ass.

“I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum…”

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A BRIEF WORD…

We love films. As a result, we watch films. Many films, and often. Some are pretty decent and others are wonderfully… not. A few are surprisingly good, and a good deal more we could take or leave. But ultimately, because we love films, we love them all in one small way or another, whether it be the quiet awe of seeing something we’d never before conceived of, or the smirking, smug glee brought by ninety-three minutes of taking shots at something that is so bad it has transcended into the realm of accidental genius. But every so often, on sweet, rare occasions, we see a film that gives us deep pause. A film that that makes us stop and examine the way we look at life. A movie that makes us feel, a film that consumes us, a piece of cinema that changes the way we think… And those experiences, while few and far between, are gratifying and meaningful in ways that are uniquely and startlingly personal. Well my friends, compatriots, and colleges, I have an experience I’d like to share with you all. Tonight I watched the film Tideland, the 2005 effort from Terry Gilliam, and it was fucking terrible. Hand to god, from start to finish this movie was just an irredeemable piece of trash. And not fun, John Waters-esque trash mind you, but traveling island of milk jugs, used condoms, and Dasani bottles in the Pacific Ocean trash. Without a doubt, the best thing about this movie is that it wasn’t any longer. The only thing done by the people involved in this movie that was at all altruistic, the only thing that can’t be construed as a figurative dick-slap across the face of the viewing public, is the decision not to make a sequel. I understand that a film review typically includes a critique of things such as plot, dialog, pacing, acting, and story, but I cannot in good conscience do that, because to do so would be to imply that there was any semblance at all of these measurable criteria in this film. At first, I wrongly believed that I was angry at myself for throwing away the last two hours of my life, but I’ve come to realize that I’m actually just disappointed in myself…. …..and if I’m being honest, that hurts a lot more.

“WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN…”

Hey there Eaters of Face and all those who are also reading this, in one week it will have been ONE YEAR since the first FACECON. Considering how far we have already come as a burgeoning cinematic and dare we say, cultural collective, it’s exciting to ponder where we will be in another year’s time. We thank everyone who has been supporting the Face Eaters and attending FACECONS over the past twelve months. As Karen Carpenter once assured us, “We’ve only just begun…” and 2015 is looking to be a memorable year for the future of our group and these FACECONS we so love.

Random Data: “We’ve Only Just Begun”(1970) by The Carpenters was used extensively in John Carpenter’s “In The Mouth of Madness” and the Stephen King adaptation, “1408”, both of which have been screened at FACECONS.

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MARQUEE CARDS FOR FACECON

Well, after a couple months of slowly widdling away at them, we are proud to say that we have finally completed work on the marquee cards for FACECON III. We have created, for each film, a poster sized card giving a summary of the film and it’s history, the original(or coolest)cover art/poster for each movie and of course, Monstervision-style Drive-In Totals. This way, even if you get caught up with one of the other activities, you will never be lost as to what is up with the film at hand. Just another one of the ways we gots your back at FACECON III.

Friday, March 13th, 2015. Come live the horror.

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ELIAS VOORHEES AND WHY THE FRIDAY TV SERIES IS DOOMED

Now this has recently become a hotly debated issue amongst hardcore genre fans and isolationist, socially-inept, malevolent little web trolls like the ones constantly trying to crash this site, but we here at the Face Eaters wanna throw our hat in on this one. With the announcement of the upcoming Friday the 13th TV series, many like us are compelled ask why such a lazy cash grab like this could be allowed. Simply put, while anyone can appreciate more of Jason coming to the (increasingly) small screen, the producers’ decision to not stick with Friday cannon and instead semi-reinvent the mythos(such as it is) behind the man behind the mask is ill-conceived at best and sacrilegious at worst. The original story of the many years of tumult of Camp Crystal Lake may not have the flair of the Nightmare series nor the raw power of the Hellraiser’s, but Jason is an icon. If you want to adapt him for primetime TV, it seems essential to stay with the material as it exists while expounding on certain themes or characters. One such person could be the many-fabled, Rasputin-esque father of Jason, Elias Voorhees who was originally planned to briefly appear at the end of Part 6 but who was ultimately cut from the final product. The worry here would be that the modern audience’s need for deep explaination of backstory and motive would make the mystique of Elias Voorhees null ans void. Additionally, the tendency of the modern horror-show runner to push the envelope as far as what the audience has seen runs the risk of moving the tone and overall mood of the show into something darker than the films and closer to either the long-forgotten Harper’s Island or perhaps even Bates Motel. And while there are merits to both of the aforementioned shows, they are not burdened with such a heavy backlog of existing material. We know how we want Jason and if he comes off all wrong, then the whole show will be a wash. It’s good to think positive, we know that. But we also know here at the Face Eaters that Jason is death incarnate, and after that truly indefensible taking-of-a-friggin’-hostage bit in the awful 2009 reboot, we’re hedging our bets.

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