Dino De Laurentiis movie double feature

To honour Dino De Laurentiis, a man who helped create some incredible movies in his time I present the Dino De Laurentis double feature – perfect to celebrate the man who produced over 500 movies. The Italian died last week, aged 95,

Dino De Laurentiis film credits as producer stretch over 60 years featuring a variety of genres and show a man willing to take risks and work outside the studio system.

To start with we’ll go for one of his classics.

Serpico (1973) is a classic gangster film staring Al Pacino and directed by Sidney Lumet. Based on the true story of New York cop Frank Serpico. A minor classic of the genre it ws nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Al Pacino) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Pacino won his first Golden Globe award for Best Actor in 1974 for his performance in the film.

On to our trailers and here’s where things can get a little crazy. The variety of films he made is incredible, we’ve already mentioned Danger: Diabolik in this Movie Double Feature but, there is plenty of other insanity.

For example, or perhaps this

Or well before Peter Jackson had the idea there was this from Dino De Laurentiis

On to or second feature and I’ve decided to go high camp. I could have included a host of great movies , Manhunter, Blue Velvet, Dead Zone. But instead I’ve picked a film that is loved and maligned in equal measure from Dino De Laurentiis, but features one of the best soundtracks around.

Flash Gordon (1980) took an ageing franchise and injected it with plenty of cheese. The old black and white serials were serious shows but, because of this film, the character will always be touched by a degree of irony now.

It’s also incredibly quotable and fun. Repeat after me “GORDON’S ALIVE!???!!”

Dino De Laurentiis would be proud.

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The Blaxploitation movie double feature


The blaxploitation genre is an incredible example of how an idea can happen in cinema, explode in popularity and then disappear quick. It was a corny idea in the first place, really. Built on clichés such as drug dealers, pimp and pros and featuring as many negative white stereotypes as black ones the blaxploitation film is a classic example of how an exploitation genre can explode before trailing away fast under its own weight.

Despite this there is plenty to be said for the genre, which is worth watching just for the style if anything else. Shaft, for example, is one of the prototypes for the genre and still one of the coolest films.

Shaft (1971) features an amazing theme song from Issac Hayes, plenty of tough talk and the seedy side of Harlem life. It also features Richard Roundtree aching with cool as he plays the private detective looking for a gangster’s daughter.

After that let’s take a look at some of the sillier iterations of the genre. It wasn’t all crime, for  example.

The trailers were all classic exploitation fodder. One of my favourites is this one

On to our final feature and this is another classic. Pam Grier was a queen of the blaxploitation genre and made many great B Movies. But it’s here that she really showed the world how cool she could be.

Coffy (1973) story is of a woman who works as a nurse during the day and a vigilante at night, cleaning up corrupt cops and mafia members as she goes. With a funk soundtrack and a strong central performance it is an example of a movie that is more than just style.

After five years the genre was already ebbing away, although there is still a lot to be said for anything this cool.

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The Hammer double feature

I’m off to the Jameson’s Cult Film Club on Thursday night to soak up some atmosphere in St George’s Hall and enjoy some old fashioned British horror. Incidentally, before we start Mark Gatiss has an excellent documentary on this subject  which is available for a week and a half from here.

So, let us begin with a classic of Gothic Horror cinema.

Dracula (1958), the film I’m off to see this week, featured a tall and handsome Christopher Lee in an early role as the Count. He had already begun to make a name for himself as the Monster in Frankenstein but here, with blood dripping down from his fangs, he created a vampire who was as sexual and suave as he is violent and animal-like.

Hammer can be tarnished with the brush of being quite cheesy but here, in these early films, it’s all about dark shocks and burning sexuality.

On to the trailers and it’s important to mix things up a little to show some of the things Hammer is renowned for. Heaving chests is a good start.

Then mental sequels spring to mind too

And also, finally for our intermission trailers one of my favourite Hammer horrors.

On to our second feature and I’m going for something a little different to the gothic horrors.

Quatermass Xperiment (1955), a remake of the live BBC series, ramped up the scares and proved their was a market for X rated fantasy, which led on to the horror production line Hammer became. It was a film proud to show off it’s adults only credentials, as the poster above shows.

It’s also a great example of how Hammer was able to repackage its work and sell it to different markets, Below is the US trailer, which looks like it’s from a different film. Also, who wouldn’t want to see a film called The Creeping Unknown.

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The 80s nostalgia movie double feature

Lets say that you’re, I don’t know, 30 and have, lets say, a bit of a freakout at hitting your 30s. Ahem. What better way to beat the blues than a trip down memory lane, when VHS was the important thing and Simon Bates told you the video classification rules, like this.

Although if you saw that 18 certificate advice and didn’t get a blood-soaked orgy you’d be disappointed, the way he’s selling it.

Anyway, we’re going for something a little tamer than sexual swearwords ahoy for this double bill (although I’d love it if Bates had given a few examples in his introduction). Instead it’s films that, hopefully, you remember but haven’t given much thought to recently.

For example, Explorers from 1985. Directed by Joe Dante and starring Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix it tells the story of an alien obsessed group of three  kids who manage to make a space ship and find TV obssessed aliens.

It’s great fun and an example of a film that managed to find its  (very young) audience once it had made the jump to video. Incidentally, how much did video trailers give away back then? This is the entire movie in a minute.

On to the trailers in the middle and if off we have The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

That’s an odd film. On a similar, I can’t believe that’s aimed at children, front is The Monster Squad

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about Joe Dante’s recent film  The Hole and questioning if it is too scary for kids. Well The Gate knocks that one out of the park.

It’s a similar kind of story, where a kid opens a doorway into a dangerous world but here the threat seems more real the stakes crank up far quicker and, it appears, the film-makers have no problems killing the family dog or, even, a child.

There are also great stop-motion effects and a, very young, Stephen Dorff. It’s perfect for those reliving some of their childhood but after some with a bit of bite.

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The Halloween movie double feature

I love October. It’s my favourite time of the year. The nights get longer, ghost stories get told and nobody raises an eyebrow if you warm up with some mulled wine. It’s also the time of year I have my annual horror movie marathon. A chance to get drunk, (that’s where the mulled wine comes in) and sit back with some horror films. Last year was Plan 9 From Outer Space followed by Night of The Creeps (much like my very first blog entry here)

This year my halloween movie double bill will actually feature films which are Halloween themed. So to prove that I’m not just making these things up I offer you what I’ll be watching, probably the weekend before, Halloween. First off it’s all about nostalgia.

I was 12-years-old when Ghostwatch was shown on BBC1 on a Saturday evening. Featuring Michael Parkinson and Craig Charles the show was supposed to be a live outside broadcast from Britain’s most haunted house. The film was a for-runner to those Ghost Hunters / Most Haunted type programmes. Except it wasn’t, it was a fictional horror and all hell broke loose.

The BBC was flooded with complaints, and the reason? It was too good, too mean-spirited and too frightening. It looked and felt like a real programme and the story doe snot end well for the characters. Ghostwatch feels of its time but  it’s still great.

There isn’t a trailer, it was meant to be real after all, but here is couple of clips.

To be honest though the DVD is a nightmare to get hold of at the moment so your best bet is Google Video, which is here

On to the trailers and yes I know Halloween is an incredible example of the slasher movie but let us do something a little different. I’m nostalgic for its mentalist sequel which manages to avoid Michael Myers entirely.

Second trailer is for a movie that is, frankly, heavily influenced by Evil Dead.

And just because you can’t not include it on a Halloween movie night.

On to our next film and it is an example of how a great movie can be put to one side for no good reason. Trick R Treat is a collection of short horror stories thrown together based on one Halloween night.

It was shelved for two years and built up a buzz from festival appearances. Now released on DVD the film is a reminder that these types of films are all about having fun as well as having a scare (something the Saws of this world would do well to remember)

It is at its best when it works as a collection of urban myths and local legends played for scares. The set-piece where Brian Cox is tormented by a ghostly trick or treater is worth the entrance alone.

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The splatter film double feature

Not just a gore film and certainly not torture porn splatter is something very special indeed. A host of violence and gore the splatter film shocks through its joy in excess. Fans of the Splatter Film tend to laugh with mischievousness when mentioning these films, and rightly so. There something very naughty about seeing a man dismember a zombie with a Flymo.

Out first film is the granddaddy of the splatter film. Made back in 1963 it launched the genre.

Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis Blood Feast features the incredibly poorly executed story of an Egyptian caterer kills various women in suburban Miami to use their body parts to bring to life a dormant Egyptian goddess.

The story is is as unusual as the directing is inept. But for a party film it is perfect, a wonderful orgy of extreme gore, melodramatic musical cues and hammy acting. It also includes one of the most inept police investigations ever committed to film.

On to some trailers in the middle and why no pick a film from the man who gave us King Kong and Lord of The Rings (and said Flymo scene) Thanks Peter Jackson

Although George A Romero coined the term Splatter Film for his film Dawn of The Dead we are looking at films that are more about having fun than shocking through violence, so Hostel II is out and Re-Animator is in.

Finally evidence that the splatter film isn’t necessarily just about stupid gore and you can add some satire to the mix too.

Directed by Brian Yuzna, Society, a humourous and latex-filled poke at the American class system did well in Europe but did nothing in the US.

It starts as a paranoid slow burn through the first hour as student Bill feels something is deeply wrong with the world around him before plunging into 30-minutes of madness as the truth of the society around him is revealed, funny, imaginative and different the movie will leave a lasting impression on your mind and your lunch.

It’s a Splatter Film at its most biting.

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The Arnold Schwarzenegger movie double feature

The good thing about Arnold Schwarzenegger is that his films are perfect for a double bill. There is a mine of action, crappy comedy and B movies to pick from.

So, let us make a start with a film which manages to mix extreme violence, sci-fi and three-breasted women, Total Recall.

Director Paul Verhoeven, a man who managed to bring the world Robocop and Showgirls takes a short story about memory by Philip K Dick and infuses it with huge amounts of madness.

Arnie plays Douglas Quaid a man haunted by dreams of a deadly trip to Mars. When he takes a virtual holiday using memory implants he awakens a part of himself as a secret agent and travels to the red planet to find out what is going on.

Made in 1990 the film is one of the last big violent action films which filled the 80s. It’s great fun

On to our trailers and why not take a little walk down some of the odder films in Arnie’s collection,

Yes, he was badly dubbed. Let us also add in the dubious comedy period he had with the worst moment of those.

But, of course, the worst moment wasn’t his fault. The mess that is Batman & Robin can’t be put at his door, there are too many problems with it for that, but his turn as Mr Freeze hardly helped.

On to our next film and, lets get this straight from the start, it isn’t a great movie. Based on a Stephen King novel The Running Man is silly, weird and violent, but never good.

Arnie plays a wrongly convicted man who must run a televised gauntlet to try and win his freedom. It’s a good example of what made the big man what he is though. A futuristic setting, OTT violence, a one man against many plotline and horrible one-liners. So it’s crap, but it’s the kind of crap that made the man Governor of California

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