Hidden Horror Gems: StageFright

StageFright(1987)

Directed by Michele Soavi

Starring David Brandon,  Barabara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore

I discovered this movie Stagefright after watching a countdown of Giallo films, and I’m glad that I saw this one. At first, I thought it was going to be another typical slasher, but I was surprised at how engaging this movie was.

Here’s the basic premise without giving away any spoilers: An actor with a mental condition escapes an asylum and goes into a theater where a group of actors are rehearsing for a musical production.

A lot of ingredients made this film a must-see. I was impressed by the engaging story, excellent performances, soundtrack, the decent kills, and the gripping tension. If you are looking for a slasher that does not have the usual tropes, Stagefright comes highly recommended. My score(8.5-Add to your collection)

Looking Back: Hollow Man(2000)

Hollow Man(2000)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Starring Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Joey Slotnick,  Mary Randle, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Willian Devane, and Rhona Mitra.

I watched Hollow Man  for the first time in over a decade, and I have to say that this movie is still impressive. What would you do if you couldn’t be seen? That is the question this movie explores. It also asks you to imagine the idea of gaining a new power, and then deciding on how to use it, for good or for evil.   Not to start comparing, but this film effectively examines the theme of invisibility more than The Invisible Man(2020), in my opinion.

For those of you who are not familiar with the plot, here is the basic premise: A research scientist decides to makes himself invisible, but his new ability produces some unfortunate results.

There’s a lot that can be said about Hollow Man, but this review may turn into a term paper, lol. However, you can not deny that the mix of sci-fi and horror, and the top-notch performances, particularly Kevin Bacon’s role as the main research scientist, gave the viewer some thoughts on the dynamics of invisibility and its effects on individuals and the larger society.

If you haven’t seen this film, you should definitely watch it and add it to your collection. My score: 9/10(Add to your library)

Looking Back: Sorority Row

Sorority Row(2009)

Directed by Stewart Hendler

Starring Brianna Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Audrina Page, Julian Morris, Margo Harshman, Matt Lanter, and Carrie Fisher

I just watched Sorority Row the other night again, and I have to say that this slasher is enjoyable. How else can I describe this movie? It has a great cast, the engaging story has a nice whodunit element, and the kills are very creative. If you haven’t seen this House on Sorority Row remake, I’d highly recommend checking this one out and adding it to your collection. My score: 8.5/10(Add to your collection)

A Tale of Revenge: The Rhythm Section

The Rhythm Section(2020)       Directed by Reed Morano

Starring Blake Lively, Jude Law, and Sterling K. Brown

Usually revenge movies have the same type of plot: A character’s friend or loved one is murdered, and he or she surprisingly has all of the skills necessary to get rid of every person responsible. The Rhythm Section has the same type of synopsis. However, it explores the idea of your average person, named Stephanie, who tries to take revenge on those responsible for killing her family.

The Rhythm Section is a very slow-paced thriller, just to warn you. The plot is straightforward and it doesn’t get interrupted with a lot of subplots, which is a plus. The viewer is invited to see how a regular person with no skills is trained to be an assassin in order to avenge the death of her loved ones. However, this film has very little action, and in my opinion, I wish it had more.

All in all, if you’re in the mood for a  different take on the revenge thriller, The Rhythm Section is an intriguing film to check out. I will recommend renting this before you decide to add it to your collection. My score-7/10. (Weekend rental, then make a decision to buy).

Film Production Recovery in North America after COVID 19 

Everything is slowly getting back to normal with new precautions, guidelines and rules. Filming industry is making its come back with re-opening of cinemas and new productions. 

Producing a film in North America is also one of those little slower sectors. There are no proper federal COVID guidelines, states, countries and local municipalities are setting their own set of rules and regulations for the restraining of a pandemic. The Film commission reports that everyone is ready to go to work, but there are lots of things required for this restart like coronavirus testing capacity, insurance, and health and safety guidelines.

States are providing relief to the production industry. 

Georgia: 

Many people are doing well in handling this situation, and recently Tyler Perry mega-multihyphenate in Georgia has completed filming his BET series’ “Sistas” and now working on another production “the Oval”. The remarkable thing  is that not a single case was recorded in this procedure. 

Perry talked about measure and safety guidelines he followed while shooting his productions. He said that he made sure everyone  (cast and crew) wear their mask when they are not shooting as masks have been scientifically proved to be stopping the spread. Perry said that he made sure everyone followed the security measures as he did not want any of them to be quarantined for 3 to 12 days due to a virus. 

Georgia is getting up to 30% tax relief for film, television, music videos, commercials, interactive games and animation. The Entertainment Industry Investment Act provides a 20% tax credit for $500,000 or more spent on production and post-production in Georgia, either in a single production or on multiple projects. The state also grants an additional 10% tax credit if the finished project includes a promotional logo provided by the state. 

Web: georgia.org/industries/film-entertainment 

New York 

New York is ready  to start their production work but with lots of precautions and care. Everything is moving carefully and next month is looking more promising and productive. There is no doubt that production is going very slow, but developments can be seen  at Steiner Studios which is working with a 500,000 sq –ft facility in  Sunset Park 

New York boosts 30% tax credit on both eligible costs and post-production expenses, but are not eligible for the “film production tax credit program.” 

Web: esd.ny.gov 

California: 

California is also back in the production business. The city has announced in August that many of its latest projects are going to be started. These big productions include Netflix’s big-budget “Gray Man” starring Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling. TV series are also ready to take their flight with shooting around southern California. SWAT recently shot at some location in Santa Clarita with strict safety protocols. 

California’s $1.55 billion Film & Television Tax Credit Program 3.0 runs for five years, with a sunset date of June 30, 2025, and each fiscal year, from July 1 to June 30, the $330 million funding is categorized in TV projects, relocating TV, indie features and non-indie features. 

Web: film.ca.gov 

Louisiana: 

Louisiana was hit hard by COVID.  The state has given approving nods to the  production industry following safety guidelines,

Production is getting up to 40% tax credit on total qualified expenditures that include resident and non-resident labor. 

Web: louisianaentertainment.gov 

Canada 

Canada is ready to host, albeit shootings with travel restrictions and have set detailed safety protocols for each province.
Entry to the country is allowed but only after 14-day self-quarantine before they can start working on set. The Canada Film or Video Production Tax Credit  known as CPTC is providing 100% refundable tax credit to eligible productions. The relief is available at a rate of 25% of qualified labor expenditure.
 

Web: canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/funding/cavco-tax-credits/film-video-production-services 

Ontario: ontariocreates.ca/tax-incentives/ofttc 

British Columbia: gov.bc.ca/gov 

 

American Film Market Cancelled but Offering Free Credentials to Buyers for Virtual Market


The American Film Market has announced that all approved buyers will receive complimentary credentials for its Virtual 2020 edition on November 9-13. 

 The IFTA announced last month that it would not keep the physical sales market. Following in the footsteps of the virtual market in June. It also moved the market a week back to avoid a conflict with Election Day 

Buyers’ credentials will provide access to the AFM online platform, which includes exhibitions in the on-demand theater, all exhibit pages, my AFM profile, and connection platform, and a five-day live session. 
 

“AFM 2020 Online is an exciting opportunity for us to fully embrace buyers from all over the world, especially those who cannot travel to Santa Monica.” Michael Ryan, IFTA Chairperson, and partner at GFM Films said. He said that the need for these five days dedicated to the rapid transformation of the industry and the reunification of those free from challenges and running a business is even greater. On behalf of the IFTA Board of Directors, we look forward to welcoming every buyer online to AFM in November. 
 

AFM is one of the key selling markets for the independent film industry, with the Berlin Film Festival in February, the Cannes Film Festival in May, and the European Film Market with Toronto Intel Film Festival in September. The cover was moved to Cannes Virtual Festival due to a virus epidemic and the upcoming TIFF has been rapidly reduced in size and scope. 

 

Taking a Second Look: The Howling

 

The Howling(1981)

Directed by Joe Dante

Starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Christopher Stone, Dennis Dugan, Belinda Balaski, and Robert Picardo

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen The Howling, so I decided to watch it again to see if my opinions have changed. However, after giving it a second look, I have to say that I surprisingly still enjoyed it.

This movie is a well-written werewolf horror story. Not only is the story engaging, it is an interesting commentary on the dynamics of civilized behavior vs animal behavior. Which behavior is more natural? How do you balance the two? Should you repress one type, and if you do, which one should you repress? The Howling, in my opinion, brings these types of questions to mind.

Not only do you get the thought-provoking questions, you also get some good scares and some decent practical effects.

So if you haven’t watched a werewolf movie in awhile, The Howling comes highly recommended. My score: 8.5/10(purchase worthy)

Underrated Gem to Watch: Rabid (2019)

Rabid (2019)

Directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska

Starring Laura Vandervoort, Hanneke Talbot, Ben Hollingsworth, and Ted Atherton

I just saw the remake of Rabid(2019), and this movie left a lasting impression on me. This is a very well-written “zombie-like outbreak” movie!

Not to give away any spoilers, but the basic premise involves a woman who is badly scarred from an accident. Unable to pay for the surgery, she goes to a clinic to be a subject of a regenerative therapy experiment. Unfortunately, the experiment produces some unexpected results.

Rabid has some great acting, good tension, an engaging story, and some good practical effects. There is a part of me that wished that it had more graphic kills, but overall, this film definitely held my attention. And let’s not forget Rabid’s surprise-twist ending..it makes you wonder if there would be a sequel.

Overall, this comes highly recommended if you’re a fan of zombie-like horror films. Add this one to your collection.   My score: 8/10 (purchase-worthy)

Christopher Levy Launches CINEFLIK a new streaming service that cares


The film industry is ruled by companies that value corporate gain over artistry and films that tell real stories. These companies don’t give independent filmmakers a chance. In a time where it is so important that voices are heard through the imaginative minds of the creatives out there with a dream. 
 

I have been in the film industry for two decades. I have seen how they operate with a tunnel vision focus on numbers and sales. Large studios and others are taking advantage of independent filmmakers. They are not given a fair chance to showcase their talents, and they are not being adequately paid for their art. I have been a producer for several studios and I have seen how they turn everything into numbers. There is no creativity, there is no freedom. Everything turned into a walking barcode that depicted your worth. All you look for is the next “big hit”. The old saying that you are as good as your last movie constantly in playback in your head. 

I quit everything in 2019 and set to reinvent myself and what I stand for. I started my own production company to seek out true talent with beautiful stories, now adding to the distribution side, having a presence in Cannes, Berlin, and L.A’s AFM. It is not enough that these films are being made, but they deserve the opportunity to be seen.

CINEFLIK is a streaming service built for people who want exposure, a platform to showcase creativity and talent. Whilst we are not as established as Amazon, HBO max, and others, what sets us apart is that we care. We care about the integrity of filmmaking and the efforts that you have put in, as an artist to create these films. You are not just a number to us, we will also put in our all to make sure your story has the opportunity for maximum exposure. That is why I have also partnered with INFILMS Magazine to promote filmmakers. 

A streaming service that cares about art and also the filmmakers 

With CINEFLIK, the film owners decide on the price of rental and receive a cut of 80%. We will give you a fair price because we understand how other larger companies will try and take advantage. We will not compromise the opportunity for distribution with fair compensation. For example, Amazon pays only 6 cents per hour, for up to 99,999 hours streamed in a period of 365 days, tied in with an exclusive rights clause. Not only are they taking advantage, but they are making sure that you are legally unable to sell or share your stories with others. If you rent your film for $1.99, you will get $1.59 with CINEFLIK as opposed to $0.06 you would get from Amazon, with 100 downloads is a difference between $159 and $6 with Amazon.
We only keep 20% to maintain the site.

Unlike other services we also don’t follow a set of rules and requirements that may restrict distribution. For instance, Redbox has a list of preferred titles and requests, like; Action genre with a recognizable cast, supernatural horror, and family films that are animated standalone features. They only accept “new” titles that have been produced in a rolling two-year time span, they don’t consider films that have previously been available on DVD or via SVOD streaming services, NC-17 ratings and features under 80 minutes are out of the questions and don’t even think about direct television in the Comedy or Drama genre or Foreign Language films or Documentaries. With all these restrictions, they are not accepting of a variety of content, effectively closing doors to many filmmakers. On top of that, they set the price and pay around $2.75 to $3.50 per disc, this is largely dependent on the cast, genre, and a fit for their customers. A factor that is completely determined by themselves, which doesn’t sound fair at all. The film owners would have to pay for the DVDs and they would have complete control of how many times your movie is rented. We do not want to go down this path, CINEFLIK is fair, we set the pricing together with the film owner, we respect that they deserve to have their films and shows distributed at a fair price. We respect and accept all submissions of genres, the audience is always evolving and we want to anticipate what they want by providing a range of films and shows. 

This marks a new chapter to promote independent filmmakers in a way that does not involve bias or pure judgment of how much money they can generate. CINEFLIK carries everything, including, Classic Movies, Independent Films, short and full-length Features, as well as all genres of Television shows. We embrace creativity and have a thirst for real stories and originality. We want your trust in your films. Let us take you onboard and together we can discover a whole new audience for you. I am excited about the future, we can challenge the underlying issues of the film industry together and pave the way for real stories and talent that is often overlooked by Hollywood executives. 

Let’s take this challenge on together, no more waiting, no more negotiations, no more banging on the wrong door. We are here to make it happen.

You can access CINEFLIK here http://www.cineflik.com
Membership is always free.

Taking a Second Look: The Cell(2000)

The Cell(2000)

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, and Vincent D’Onofrio

I’ve seen The Cell for the first time in about 20 years and I am still quite impressed with it. What makes this movie interesting is how it explores the subconscious of the human mind.

The Cell is about a social worker named Kathryn who, via technology, goes into the imaginations of her patients to help them with their inner turmoil. The FBI, aware of her expertise, asks her to go into the mind of a comatose serial killer named Carl in order to find his latest victim.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but what made this film impressive was the story, characters, and in particular, the special effects.  The visual effects were used very effectively in giving us a real sense of Carl’s mental state. They were also used very successfully to show how we visualize who we are, and as a result, internalize it.

If you’re in the mood for a good psychological thriller/horror movie with a bit of sci-fi, The Cell comes highly recommended. My score: 8/10(purchase-worthy).