Friday, March 30, 2007

Kind Words On My Mario Bavas

On April 3, Anchor Bay will be releasing a box set of Mario Bava movies and, as a stand alone, Bava's last film, Kidnapped. I produced 3 featurettes for the set and already I'm getting word that I did okay.

First came an email from British film critic Alan Jones. Alan is an authority on Italian horror. He's also the man who coined the phrase "Splat Pack" on which our Wyrd documentary is based. This is what he had to say:
Just wanted to say I watched your extras on the Bava box set and Kidnapped. Excellent. It's not often these tell me anything new but I was astonished by Mark Damon saying he directed Pit and the Pendulum. Did he mean second unit? I've never heard that before, or the Clint Eastwood connection to Leone.
Well done, Alan Jones
As I told Alan, actor/producer Mark Damon did indeed say he directed Pit and the Pendulum - a film usually attributed to Roger Corman. I could find nothing to back up this claim, but it was Mr. Damon's soap box. Therefore, I allowed him to say what he wished.

Another kind review came from DVD Savant. This review was kind enough to mention me and fellow producer Perry Martin (the man who turned me into a Bava fan) by name:

Perry Martin and Frank H. Woodward provide a new interview featurette with John Saxon. The actor comes off as personable and charming, qualities that aren't always evident in other Saxon docu appearances. Saxon's account of his Italian experience is interesting and believable; he didn't get along too well with Bava, and remembers that the director was oddly superstitious.
You can read the full review of the Bava box set HERE. I produced two featurettes for the box (one for Black Sabbath, the other for The Girl Who Knew Too Much). Reviews for Kidnapped are pending.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Up To Wyrdstuff

Okay, I've been silent (again). For that I apologize, but I assure you I have been blogging. is a blog my partners (Bill & Jim) and I have started for the geek in all of us. Wyrd, as some of you may know, is our production company. The same outfit producing the Lovecraft & Splat Pack documentaries.

Wyrdstuff is our way to let fans of sci-fi, horror, fantasy and beyond get to know us. We have some insightful writers over there, so check in often.

As for myself, next week will find us in Austin. We're going there to interview Harry Knowles, the true geek newsmaster. This is for the Splat Pack doc. More on how that trip goes will be mentioned on Wyrdstuff. I'll link there from here when the time comes.

Otherwise... if you know anyone who needs a talented video producer, mention my name. ;-) Life is in transition. It's not a scary this time around (as it was when I left location managing). Something tells me I'll be coming out a butterfly. A cyber-butterfly hellbent on cultural commentary.

In that vein, please find my Photoshop art of Michael Jackson... the 50 foot Robo-Jackson he wants built to walk around Las Vegas shooting lasers. No kidding. See Wyrdstuff for the whole story.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

300 versus Iran

It seems that American ideals have indeed infected the East... at least the litigious / "can't take it on the chin" kind.

The film 300 has caused a lot of ire in Iran. Essentially they feel the Persian forces in the fantasy re-enactment of the Battle of Thermopylae are depicted "as demons, without culture, feeling or humanity, who think of nothing except attacking other nations and killing people."

What's worse is Iran's Javad Shamghadri, cultural adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, feels the film is another attempt by the U.S. to humiliate Iran in order to "compensate for its wrongdoings in order to provoke American soldiers and warmongers" against Iran.

Okay, where should I begin this "get over yourself" rebuttal?

First, the 300 Spartans in the film that do battle against the Persians are... wait for it... GREEK! Not Americans! Greeks portrayed by British and Kiwi actors!!

Yes, the film was made by Hollywood, but let me tell you something. Hollywood filmmakers are not advancing any of George W. Bush's agenda in the Middle East. If 300 was released by Fox, then Iran might have grounds for a complaint.

Second, let's examine a little bit of history. Persians under the reign of Xerxes I did invade good portions of the world... way back in 480 B.C. The Persians may not be a people "who think of nothing except attacking other nations and killing people" today, but at one point in ancient history they had an inkling. So did many other forms of civilzation... Romans, Greeks, Ottoman, Chinese, Japanese, British, German.

Thirdly, 300 is based on a graphic novel (re: comic book) which was based on a legend which was based on ancient history. Usually in the process from history to comic book there's been some artistic license.

History is written from the point of view of the victorious and while King Leonidas was defeated at Thermopylae, he took a lot of Persians with him. This, in turn, empowered the Greeks against Xerxes and led to his defeat at the Battle of Salamis. This was the beginning of the end for the Persian forces in the Greco-Persian wars. It was a long road to victory, but Leonidas lit the fuse.

Victor=Hero=Olive Wreathes, Songs, Epic Poems & hyberbole

Director Zack Snyder has said many times that 300 is supposed to have the feel of a storyteller telling the adventures of King Leonidas. That means Leonidas will be painted in epic hero strokes... not historical. Besides the filmmakers behind 300 lay no claims to historical accuracy.

Yes, Xerxes is depicted in the film as a sexually amibiguous fetish god. The rest of his forces also have some unrealistic, monstrous qualities. That is lamentable, but a by-product of a story based in the arena of good & evil. Evil will always be portrayed as ugly. It's not right. It just is and always has been (especially in the realm of legends and myth which 300 surely is - nobody has abs like the Spartans except in classical sculpture, the overzealous areas of the Bally's and the movies).

Iran shouldn't worry too much. Sadly, until Iran raised a stink, most American audiences probably didn't know that Persian and Iranian meant the same thing.

Also think of the fun the Iranian film community can have when they make their CG epic about the current Gulf War. I'd pay good money to see Dick Cheney depicted with body piercings and a harem of horrors. Wouldn't you?