Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sounds of Cinema Halloween Special

The annual Sounds of Cinema Halloween special will air:
  • October 30th at 11pm on 89.5 KQAL FM in Winona, MN
  • October 31th at 10pm on 89.7 KMSU FM in Mankato, MN
This show includes a variety of music from Halloween related films as well as other audio tricks and treats. This program is newly produced each year, so be sure to tune in for the soundtrack to your Halloween.

Movies about Ghosts, Hauntings, and the Beyond

Today's episode of Sounds of Cinema continued the month-long Halloween theme with a look at films about ghosts, haunted houses, and the supernatural. Here is a look at the films discussed on the show as well as a few others.

The Amityville Horror
The Amityville Horror is a film in which the picture itself was secondary to the phenomena around the movie. The Amityville Horror was based on the book of the same name by Jay Anson which purported to tell the true story of a haunting in Long Island. After the book became a success it was a source of controversy and lawsuits as the claims in the book were questioned and some critics suggested that the haunting was a hoax. The film was remade in 2005 and it was surprisingly good, in some ways better than the 1979 original.


Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice was one of Tim Burton’s early feature films and it remains among his better movies.


The Beyond (aka Seven Doors of Death)
Lucio Fulci’s mixes zombies and haunted houses together in this dream-like film. It is considered among Fulci’s best work.


The Blair Witch Project
This wasn’t the first found-footage film but it was the first movie of its kind that got a nation-wide release and it is the template for all found-footage films to come since. The Blair Witch Project also set up a marketing template for using the internet and social media, still in its infancy in 1999, to build a buzz for a new release.


Candyman
Based on a short story by Clive Barker, Candyman tells the story of a graduate student researching urban legends and discovers one that may be real. The film is smart and scary and was one of the best horror pictures to come out of the 1990s.


Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi returned to his roots with a film about a bank loan officer haunted by a recently foreclosed—and since deceased—customer. This film came out at the start of the current supernatural trend in the horror genre and it got lost but it is one of the better horror films of recent years.


Evil Dead II
Evil Dead II was a sequel to the low budget shocker released in 1981. The sequel is really a remake of the original film, meaning that it can be viewed independently, and in most respects Evil Dead II is a better movie than its predecessor. Directed by Sam Raimi, who went on to make the 2002 version of Spider-Man and A Simple Plan, the film has become a classic that successfully combines horror with comedy in ways that are comparable to Ghostbusters.


The Exorcist
The Exorcist was shocker at the time of its original release and it became a cultural phenomenon. The picture evoked something very deep in the audience and following its premiere there was a huge increase in demand for exorcisms. The furor over The Exorcist was such that evangelist Billy Graham claimed that the devil was actually embedded in the prints on the film.


The Fog
The Fog was directed by John Carpenter, a filmmaker who was very influenced by the science fiction and horror movies of the 1950s and the influence of pictures like The Blob is evident in The Fog. This film was remade in 2005.


Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters remains one of the great combinations of humor and horror. It’s primarily remembered as a comedy but Ghostbusters has quite a few shocks to it as well.


The Haunting
The Haunting is a classic horror film. Because it depends on insinuation and suggestion, this film has aged very well and its influence can be seen in more recent films like The Others and Paranormal Activity.


Hellraiser
Hellraiser was written and directed by Clive Barker. At that time Barker was primarily known for his novels and short stories but he is also an accomplished playwright and painter. Hellraiser gave the world the character of Pinhead, although he is barely in the first movie. As the series progressed Pinhead gradually moved to the center of the series.


Ju-On
This Japanese film was remade for American audiences as The Grudge.


Monster House
Monster House is a motion capture animation film and one of the earliest films to be entirely produced using that process. Despite a marketing campaign that made the film look like a children’s picture, Monster House gets quite intense but it is a smart and well-made haunted house film.


A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
The second film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series combines the slasher film with the possession film. It is an uneven movie and isn’t very well regarded by the Nightmare fanbase, but the movie has some fascinating psychosexual content.


The Others
A moody supernatural mystery about a mother and her children plagued by supernatural activity. The Others is an impressive piece of filmmaking and it is a good example of how PG-13 horror can work.


Paranormal Activity
Although the series has since gone awry, the original Paranormal Activity is a very craftily made movie that uses limited resources to its advantage.


Poltergeist
Poltergeist remains an excellent film that will scare its audience. It is also quietly subversive, suggesting that affluent suburban society is built on the dead.


Ringu
This is the Japanese film that was remade for American audiences as The Ring. At the time it was the highest grossing horror film in Japanese history.


The Shining
The Shining was released in 1980 and in many respects it was the last gasp of big budget Hollywood horror films. After The Shining, the genre gave way to Friday the 13th and films like it, which tainted the horror label in the eyes of both mainstream critics and high profile filmmakers. The Shining was based on a novel by Stephen King but although King was initially enthusiastic that Stanley Kubrick was adapting his work the writer was disappointed with the final result, feeling that Kubrick missed the point of the novel. King wrote and executive produced a made-for-television adaption of The Shining broadcast in 1997.


The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense is a PG-13 haunting film and one that is probably for older viewers. This film goes get intense but the resolution leaves the viewer on a relieved note that softens the trauma.


Tales from the Crypt
Tales from the Crypt was a television show that ran on HBO from the late 1980s through the 1990s. The show was based on the EC Comics series of the same name and the show broke quite a few barriers at the time. Since it was on HBO the program was able to include bloody violence and explicit sexuality, something that was relatively new to television at that time. After its television run ended, Tales from the Crypt generated two theatrical features: Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood.


What Lies Beneath
This film has A-list actors in a story of supernatural intrigue with Harrison Ford cast successfully against type.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

89.7 KMSU Pledge Drive

89.7 KMSU FM in Mankato is currently holding its fall pledge drive in which the station asks listeners to show their support with a financial donation.

Pledge drives have two goals. The first is obvious: to generate the money that will keep KMSU on the air. Your donations cover the day-to-day overhead expenses of running the station so that the station's volunteers and staff can keep the programming coming to you.

The second goal of a pledge drive is about public relations. Space and money are at a premium across higher education. Your pledges demonstrate to the university that KMSU is an important and valued part of the community and allow the station and its staff to justify its existence. This means that the amount you give is not as important as the fact that you do give.

To make a pledge to KMSU, please call 507-389-5678 or 1-800-456-7810. You can also visit www.kmsu.org and click on the "donate" icon. Leave your name, address, phone number, and the amount you would like to pledge. Please do not leave credit card information in an email or voicemail as they are not secure.

The October 28th edition of Sounds of Cinema heard on 89.7 KMSU FM will be a speical pledge drive edition that will showcase what this program has to offer. Those listening from 89.5 KQAL FM will hear the regularly scheduled broadcast, featuring a look at films about ghosts, hauntings, and the beyond.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Psychos, Serial Killers, and Madmen

Today's episode of Sounds of Cinema continued the month-long Halloween theme with a look at films about psychos, serial killers, and other madmen. Here is a recap of the films addressed on the show and a few that didn't make it into the episode.

American Psycho
Adapted from the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho is about a Wall Street executive who spends his nights as a serial killer. The film significantly toned down the violence of the novel while emphasizing its dark comedy aspects and the movie was a successful adaptation that may have saved the book. Looking at the film more than a decade later, it is remarkably prescient in its depiction of a Wall Street employee who preys on the lower classes.


Basic Instinct
Basic Instinct is about a police detective trying to catch a murderer who is inspired by erotic fiction and it has a performance by Sharon Stone as one of the great movie villains. Basic Instinct was fairly controversial at the time of its release. The film is very violent and it was one of the first films to be threatened with the NC-17 rating by the MPAA.


Cape Fear
There are two versions of Cape Fear: the 1962 original staring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum and the 1991 remake staring Nick Nolte and Robert DeNiro. It is a draw as to which of these films is better although curiously they both use the same score by Bernard Herrmann.


Dahmer
In the early 2000s there were a string of direct-to-DVD biopics about serial killers including John Wayne Gacy and Ed Gein. Dahmer was a surprisingly good dramatization of the Milwaukee-based serial killer, featuring Jeremy Renner in the lead role.


The Devil's Rejects
Rob Zombie followed up his directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses with The Devil’s Rejects and it was a significant improvement over its predecessor. Jettisoning the campy look of the first film, The Devil’s Rejects was a lean and nasty road film that was one of the best horror pictures of the 2000s.


Edmund
Written by David Mamet, directed by Stuart Gordon, and starring William H. Macy, this film tells the story of a businessman who descends into madness.


Fatal Attraction
Another Michael Douglas thriller, Fatal Attraction is about a married man who is stalked by the woman he had an affair with. It is a very effective suspense picture with a number of memorable sequences and a frightening performance by Glenn Close. Fatal Attraction was a cause of debate at the time of its release, with some critics and feminists accusing the film of being misogynist.


Hannibal
Despite the fact that The Silence of the Lambs was a tremendous critical and commercial success, it would be almost a decade before the follow up novel was published and then adapted to the screen. Directed by Ridley Scott, Hannibal is a very different film from The Silence of the Lambs but it is also quite different from the source novel, making critical changes to the ending. It is a flawed film but it is also grotesquely beautiful.


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a challenging and unpleasant movie but its nihilism is matched by the filmmakers’ earnestness. This is not an exploitation film and its treatment of psychopathology is far more serious than many Hollywood pictures dealing with the same subject.


Ichi the Killer
Directed by Takashi Miike, Ichi the Killer tells the story of an assassin who becomes a pawn in yakuza politics. The following video is NSFW.


M
M is one of German director Firtz Lang’s great pictures, maybe his greatest. The film is about a community’s reaction to a series of child murders and its influence can be seen in later movies like Zodiac and Summer of Sam.


Manhunter
The Silence of the Lambs was not the first film adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels. In 1986 Michael Mann adapted the novel Red Dragon into Manhunter. This film features William Peterson as FBI profiler Will Graham and Brian Cox as Dr. Lecter. Stylized like Mann’s hit television series Miami Vice, Manhunter wasn’t a hit at the time of its release but it has since developed a strong following. The novel was adapted again in 2002 for a film directed by Brett Ratner and featuring Anthony Hopkins in his final turn as Dr. Lecter.


Maniac
Maniac was released in 1980 and it remains one of the most disturbing films of all time. The picture is about a delusional serial killer, played by Joe Spinell, stalking women on the streets of New York. It is a very violent picture with effects by renowned makeup artist Tom Savini that were ground breaking at the time. Because of its extreme gore, Maniac was protested by film critics and women’s organizations. Maniac has recently been remade with Elijah Wood in the main role. The following video is NSFW.


Misery
Adapted from the novel by Stephen King, a writer becomes stranded with an obsessive fan of his work. Kathy Bates’ performance is very frightening and the scene in which she teaches the writer a lesson is one of the most memorable moments in horror.


Mommie Dearest
Based on the bestselling memoir, Mommie Dearest depicts the abusive childhood of Christina Crawford at the hands of her mother, screen legend Joan Crawford. The film was not a success at the time of its release but it has since become a cult classic.


Monster
Monster is a dramatization about Aileen Wuornos, a Florida-based prostitute who became a serial killer. The film has an incredible performance by Charlize Theron as Wuornos and the film manages to strike a balance between empathizing with this woman and her horrible life while not overlooking her crimes.


Natural Born Killers
Based on an original screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Oliver Stone, Natural Born Killers was perhaps the most controversial film of the 1990s. The film is a satire of media sensationalism and violence but it is criticized for being exactly what it was satirizing.


Play Misty For Me
Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut tells the story of a one night stand gone bad. Jessica Walter plays the deranged woman.


Psycho
The original Psycho is often cited as the first contemporary horror film. It is a movie that changed horror filmmaking by introducing the killer with a psychosis, paving the way for everything from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to The Silence of the Lambs but it also changed Hollywood filmmaking in general by violating a lot of norms about what kinds of subject matter could be dealt with and how it could be presented.


Red Dragon
Directed by Brett Ratner, this turned out better than expected. Red Dragon is much closer in style to Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs than Ridley Scott's Hannibal or Michael Mann's Manhunter and it features cameos from some familiar faces including Anthony Heald as Dr. Frederick Chilton.


Reservoir Dogs
Quentin Tarantino’s first film features of a cast of criminals, some more psychopathic than others. This remains one of Tarantino’s best films, as it is made with a focus and discipline that has wavered in later pictures.


Se7en
Director David Fincher has the distinction of directing two of the better serial killer films in American movies: Zodiac and Se7en. Although he had previously directed music videos for Madonna and Aerosmith and the feature film Alien 3, it was Se7en that introduced him to mainstream audiences and it remains among his best work.


The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs tells the story of an FBI trainee who gets involved in an investigation of a serial killer. Adapted from the novel by Thomas Harris, this is a great work of suspense and it introduced audiences to Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who is now regarded as one of the great cinematic villains.


Summer of Sam
Spike Lee’s dramatization of the Son of Sam killings in New York in 1977 focuses on a fictional group of young people and their families. The film is an interesting exploration of the ways fear can sweep people into hysteria.


Taxi Driver
Martin Scorsese’s film about a New York cabbie teetering on the edge of a psychotic episode has become a classic and the line “You talkin’ to me?” has become part of the national vocabulary.


Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is a story of sibling rivalry gone violent. Bette Davis performance in the title role is often cited as one of the great villains in film.


Zodiac
Zodiac is a dramatization of the investigation of the Zodiac Killer who terrorized the San Francisco area in the 1970s. This film puts a lot of police procedural television dramas to shame and it indulges the intricacies of actual police work.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sounds of Cinema Pre-Empted on KMSU on Oct. 21

Sounds of Cinema will be slightly pre-empted on Sunday, October 21 from 89.7 KMSU FM in Mankato. The program will be split into segments so that the station can broadcast live from the Mankato Marathon. As a result, some of the music and other commentary on Sounds of Cinema may not be heard.

The episode can be heard in full at 9am that same day on 89.5 KQAL FM in Winona. Those living outside the Winona broadcast area can hear the show online at www.kqal.org.

This Sunday's program continues the month-long Halloween theme, addressing movies about psychos, serial killers, and other madmen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Culvers fundraiser for KQAL FM

89.5 KQAL FM will have a fundraiser at Culver's restaurant in Winona, Minnesota  on Tuesday, October 16th from 5pm - 8pm. Ten percent of Culvers sales in that time period will be given back to the radio station. If you are in the area, please consider stopping by. Keep in mind that this only applies to sales from the Winona location.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Family Friendly Halloween Movies

On today’s episode of Sounds of Cinema I continued the month-long Halloween theme with a look at family-friendly Halloween films: pictures that are scary or Halloween related and which parents ought to feel comfortable watching with their kids. Friends, family members, and others who have children have often expressed to me their frustration in finding movies that are family appropriate. Hopefully today’s show and the list below provide a few suggestions. However, please keep in mind that I am not a parent (truthfully, I’m not that crazy about kids) and different parents have different ideas about what is and is not suitable for children, so I suggest doing a little research of your own before selecting a title for family movie night.

The Addams Family (1991)
This was one of the better adaptations of a television show to a feature film. It is a little edgier than the show was but it is also a lot of fun.


Bride of Frankenstein
I like to suggest that viewers explore older movies whenever possible and holidays are a great time to do this. Halloween provides an opportunity to look back at horror classics like the Universal Monsters. These pictures were thought of as terrifying at the time of their initial release but now they are quite accessible, often about as scary as Disney films, and with their short running times they fit within the attention spans of young viewers. Of the Universal Monsters, the Frankenstein pictures are generally regarded as superior with Bride of Frankenstein the best of them.


The Burbs
A 1980s comedy in which a bizarre family moves into a suburban community and sets off paranoia among the neighbors.


Coraline
Directed by Henry Selick and based on the book by Neil Gaiman, Coraline has a sophisticated take on childhood and it is one of the best animated films of recent years.


Corpse Bride
Tim Burton directed this film about a living groom who gets involved with an undead bride. It isn’t as popular as The Nightmare Before Christmas but in many ways it is the better film.


Creature from the Black Lagoon
Creature from the Black Lagoon is closer to a B-movies than other Universal Monsters but those qualities work in its favor as it is fast paced and has a sense of adventure.


The Dark Crystal
Since young people have been reintroduced to The Muppets in last year’s new Muppet movie, this may be a good time to revisit one of Jim Henson’s other projects: The Dark Crystal. This film was an attempt to push puppetry beyond the Muppets. That broader goal didn’t work out but the film remains a fun fantasy adventure.


Gremlins
I often regard Gremlins as a Christmas movie as it is set at Christmas time and makes broad swipes at the commercial aspects of the holiday season. But Gremlins makes for a good Halloween movie as well, although for a PG rating it gets pretty intense and it is often cited as one of the motivations for the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating’s board to create the PG-13 rating. 


The Harry Potter Series
Virtually any film in the Harry Potter series will do, although the films get increasingly mature as the series goes on. The best installments are the middle three (The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Goblet of Fire, and The Order of the Phoenix).


Hocus Pocus
A trio of witches return from the grave on Halloween. Since its release this movie has been embraced in much the same way that A Christmas Story has become a part of many people’s December celebrations.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The Disney label is often associated with soft and cuddly characters but Disney’s feature films can be pretty scary, at least for kids, and their villains are often memorable characters. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the darker Disney animated features.


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
In the mid-1980s, Steven Spielberg produced, wrote, and/or directed a string of movies that remain very frightening such a Poltergeist and Gremlins. For a long time Indy fans looked down on The Temple of Doom but since the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull its standing has improved. But with human sacrifices and violence against children, Temple of Doom remains a tough movie.


King Kong (1933)
Another classic film for Halloween viewing. There is a soulfulness to the stop motion animation ape of the original King Kong that neither the man in the suit of the 1976 version nor the computer generated 2005 edition quite match. If the original Kong is aged by anything it isn’t so much the special effects as it is the sexism and racism of the characters.


Monster House
A better and smarter film than it appears based on the trailer, Monster House is a great haunted house movie that has some strong frights but also moments of emotional resonance.


Monsters, Inc.
Monsters Inc. is fairly inoffensive, as are all of Pixar films, but it does have some great characters and a compelling idea.


Monster Squad
The influence of this overlooked family picture from the 1980s has shown up in recent R-rated films like Attack the Block and The Watch.


The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas is more of a Christmas movie than a Halloween film but it works well enough and features one of Danny Elfman’s best musical scores.


Return to Oz
This dark sort-of-sequel to The Wizard of Oz is sometimes bizarre and at the time of its release in 1985 it was considered too scary for children. But in the years since, Return of Oz has gathered a cult audience and contemporary viewers may find it worth revisiting.


The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense is a PG-13 haunting film and one that is probably for older viewers. This film goes get intense but the resolution leaves the viewer on a relieved note that softens the trauma.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka was criticized at the time of its release for being too mean spirited. But according to director Mel Stuart, those criticisms always came from parents but never came from kids, who understood and accepted the tone of the story.


The Witches
Another adaptation of a Roald Dahl book, The Witches is a well-made fantasy picture produced by Jim Henson although it is a little rough around the edges and has an absurd ending.


The Wizard of Oz
One of the essential family movies. In its time, the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys were considered too frightening for children but Margaret Hamilton’s performance endures as one of the great villains in Hollywood films.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

'Switch' Screening at Winona State on Oct. 11

The documentary film Switch will be screened at Winona State University on Thursday, October 11 at 6:30pm in Stark Hall 103. In the film Dr. Scott Tinker explores the paths toward utilizing alternative energy sources. A discussion will follow the screening. The Switch screening is sponsored by WSU's Department of Geoscience and the Geology Club. The trailer is embedded below:

SWITCH trailer from Arcos Films on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

'The Invisible War' Screening at WSU Oct. 11

The Invisible War will be shown at Winona State University at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 11th in Science Laboratory Center 120.

Directed by Kirby Dick, The Invisible War is a documentary about sexual assault in the United States military. The film won the audience award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and is currently scoring 100% fresh at rottentomatoes.com. The trailer is embedded below:


Sunday, October 7, 2012

1982 Retrospective

Introduction
The 1980s were not a particularly good decade for Hollywood films. It wasn’t the worst decade, (that title probably belongs to the 1950s) but coming off the highs of the 1970s, often referred to as the New Hollywood era, the decade of Reagan and Rambo comes across looking like an underachieving sibling. There are various reasons for this, primarily economic.

The cinematic boom of the 1970s that enabled filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and William Friedkin to make pictures such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and The French Connection was birthed by a near collapse of the studio system in the mid-1960s. Between the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 1980s, many of Hollywood’s major studios were taken over by corporations but the executives responsible for them had not yet settled on a vision for how the studios should be run. They turned to young filmmakers, many fresh out of film school, and enabled them to produce movies that spoke to an audience that had endured the cultural shifts of those challenging times. Although the perception of 1970s filmmakers enjoying total creative freedom is somewhat exaggerated, they were able to produce a body of work that was unprecedented and remains a high watermark of American film.

Just as financial circumstances opened new doors for filmmakers, financial priorities also shut them. In the late 1970s the blockbuster success of Jaws and Star Wars signaled to studios what kinds of profits could be generated by films based on fantasy and spectacle. At the same time several high profile passion projects, such as Heaven’s Gate, failed very loudly at the box office, leading studio executives to assert more control over production and a new studio system was born. Where the previous Hollywood studio system had been guided by figures like Jack Warner and Darryl Zanuck, moguls who had actual filmmaking experience, the new studio system of the 1980s and beyond was guided by figures like Barry Diller and Rupert Murdoch, who had achieved tremendous business success but who had little or no interest in filmmaking.  As a result the studios abandoned the smaller, more personal projects that 1970s filmmakers had generated and put an emphasis on creating blockbuster box office successes. This resulted in trends like serialization of popular films and an emphasis on generating revenue through ancillary markets with tie-in products and other promotions. This led to an overall downturn in the quality of Hollywood’s product throughout the 1980s. Although directors like Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Barry Levinson continued to produce impressive films, many of Hollywood’s prestige pictures from the 1980s paled in comparison to the films generated in the previous decade. Commercial and critical hits like Gandhi and Out of Africa have not aged well and they lack the boldness of movies like Network or Apocalypse Now.

Yet, artistry was not lost. The emphasis on fantasy and spectacle occurred simultaneously with a renaissance in special effects and the 1980s were distinguished by an excellent crop of fantasy and science fiction films. This trend was led by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas who directed and produced a string of hits that included the second and third Star Wars films, the first three Indiana Jones pictures, the Back to the Future trilogy, Gremlins, and Willow. Other filmmakers emerged and built on the foundation that Spielberg and Lucas had established but they also drew from the cultural and filmmaking advances that had been made in the 1970s that allowed for greater latitude in on-screen sexuality and violence. As a result, horror, science fiction, and fantasy filmmakers of the 1980s were able to take genres that had often been regarded as silly or juvenile and created complex and mature stories that made them the true heirs of New Hollywood. These filmmakers included James Cameron with The Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss, John Carpenter with Escape from New York and They Live, and David Cronenberg with Videodrome, Scanners, and The Fly. Other notable science fiction, horror, and fantasy pictures were produced throughout the decade including the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Brazil, Dune, Legend, Robocop, Batman, Predator, and the bulk of the original Star Trek series. These films were among the most popular pictures of the 1980s and many of them are now regarded as classics.

Although notable science fiction and fantasy films were produced throughout the 1980s, the year 1982 holds special significance as a number of extraordinary science fiction, horror, and fantasy films were released in this twelve month period, several of which became standard bearers for their genres. On today’s episode of Sounds of Cinema I examined several of those genre films from 1982, evaluating their merits, examining what made them so special, and exploring how they’ve influenced later movies. Here is another look at those films plus a few others that didn’t make it into the episode.

Blade Runner
Blade Runner was not a blockbuster hit at the time of its original release and it is one of the films that really benefited from post-theatrical revision. It has since proven to be one of the most influential science fiction pictures of all time and its inspiration can be seen in movies like 1984, The Matrix, The Fifth Element, and Inception and the television series Battlestar Galactica. This is a dense film but it is also a smart one.


Cat People
Paul Schrader remade the 1942 classic as an erotic story of horrific self-discovery. Although it makes some leaps in the storytelling it is a unique film and a good example of how 1980s filmmakers benefited from the latitude of the 1970s.


Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian inspired a lot of forgettable fantasy films that followed such as Barbarian Queen and Red Sonja but echoes of Conan are observable in more recent films like The Scorpion King, the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans and even The Lord of the Rings. It remains an amusing fantasy film even if it is something of a guilty pleasure.


Creepshow
Directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King, this anthology of horror stories acknowledged the history of horror comics while paving the way for the TV shows Tales from the Crypt and American Horror Story as well as the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse.


The Dark Crystal
The Dark Crystal was an attempt by Jim Henson and Frank Oz to move puppetry beyond The Muppets. This never led anywhere but this film remains a cult classic.


E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial is one of the most essential films of Steven Spielberg’s filmography and its influence can be observed in films that followed shortly thereafter like Starman and Cocoon but also in later films such as WALL-E, The Iron Giant, and Spielberg’s 2001 film A.I. Artificial Intelligence. But beyond its cinematic influence, E.T. remains a draw because its optimism and love will reduce even the most stoic viewer to mush.


Friday the 13th Part III
There isn’t much to the third installment of Friday the 13th that distinguishes it from earlier or later films in the series, although this film does introduce the hockey mask and it was originally shown in 3-D.


Halloween III
A lot of Halloween fans were angry and confused by this film because it does not include Michael Myers. Instead, the filmmakers attempted to shift the series in a new direction, turning it into a Twilight Zone –like story. More recently this movie has gained a cult following and it is worth a look.


The New York Ripper
Directed by Lucio Fulci, The New York Ripper is one of the more difficult slasher films to sit through, partly because of its violence but mostly because it isn’t very good. However, The New York Ripper gained cult status when it was added to the UK “Video Nasties” list and was banned in the country. The following video is NSFW.


Pieces
Another slasher film that isn’t very good except for its kitch value, Pieces was identified by Hostel director Eli Roth as one of his favorite films.


Poltergeist
Poltergeist remains an excellent film that will scare its audience. It is also quietly subversive, suggesting that affluent suburban society is built on the dead. Its influence can be observed in the many recent haunted house pictures like Drag Me to Hell and Paranormal Activity.


The Secret of NIMH
The Secret of NIMH was the first directorial feature for Don Bluth, who went on to make The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and All Dogs Go to Heaven. The Secret of NIMH is a darker movie than a lot Disney’s animated features and it is an ambitious if incomplete story.


Slumber Party Massacre
One of the more interesting entries in the slasher genre, Slumber Party Massacre simultaneously ridiculed and satisfied the clich├ęs of these films more than a decade before Scream. Fans of 1980s horror should definitely seek it out.


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The Wrath of Khan is the best of the Star Trek films and it remains one of the highpoints of American science fiction and fantasy filmmaking. Its influence can be seen in television shows like Firefly and films like X2 and the 2009 reboot of Star Trek.


The Thing
Although contemporary cinema has been taken over by CGI, The Thing remains a strong case for practical effects and it ranks with Alien and Jaws among the great monster movies. But this is more than just an alien attack movie. This is a story about paranoia and how people react in a crisis and because of that subtext the film is far more frightening.


TRON
TRON is flawed but it is technically important as it was among the first films to meld computer graphics with live action and it opened doors for a lot of films that would come later such as The Last Starfighter, The Lawnmower Man, and The Matrix.  The way TRON tapped into the intersection of computer technology and the human experience makes it amusingly prescient.


The Wall
Pink Floyd’s The Wall was released just a few years after the premiere of MTV. In the years since the relevance of the music video has waxed and waned and waxed again but despite the latest trend of musicals and pop music documentaries we’ve never seen a project quite like The Wall since, which is a shame.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sounds of Cinema October Programing

Throughout October, Sounds of Cinema will feature a month of Halloween related programing. Here is a look at what is scheduled:

October 7 – Retrospective on 1982
Cinema of the 1980s was distinguished by an impressive yield of science fiction, fantasy, and horror pictures and the year 1982 had a high concentration of genre films that have since become classics. This episode will examine some of the titles from 1982 including Star Trek II, TRON, and Blade Runner.

October 14 – Family-Friendly Halloween Movies
Movie-going is an integral part of the Halloween season but for parents it can be difficult finding pictures that they can watch with their children. This episode will include a look at some family-friendly movies for Halloween.

October 21 – Psychos and Madmen
This episode will feature a look at films about serial killers and similar characters, including Maniac and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

October 28 – The Beyond
This episode will consider movies about ghost and other supernatural beings including The Fog and The Amityville Horror.

October 30 – Halloween Special
Sounds of Cinema’s annual Halloween Special will air at 11pm on October 30th. This one hour program of film music and movie clips is the soundtrack to your Halloween.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

GLBTA Film Series at Winona State

The Winona State University Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Tansgender-Ally Faculty Committee will be conducting a GLBTA Film Series from October 4 - 30. All screenings are free and open to the public. There will be a short discussion to follow each film.

Screening Schedule:

Milk
October 4, Somsen Auditorium, 7pm
Milk is a 2008 American biographical film based on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Dustin Lance Black, the film stars Sean Penn as Milk and Josh Brolin as Dan White, a city supervisor who assassinated Milk. The film received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, winning two for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Penn and Best Original Screenplay for Black.

Genderf*kation: A Gender Emancipation
October 11, Somsen Auditorium, 7 pm
Genderf*kation: A Gender Emancipation is the story of six individuals and their journey & triumphs through the social, religious and political landscapes of a society that struggles to understand or allow for gender variations. This documentary includes provocative interviews with professionals and outreachmembers who are active in this community to help shed light on a very controversial matter. This film breaks through the gender stereotypes and historical gender ideologies to liberate our bodies, minds and spirits from our own social Gender Dysphoria. Although it is based in Minnesota, the subject matter has no borders. The subject of gender is a taboo topic in many societies, yet fundamental to every aspect of all of our lives.

Beautiful Thing
October 17, Stark 103, 7pm
The iconoclastic, underachieving denizens of a southeast London apartment building get an emotional wake-up call when two teenage boys -- next-door neighbors Jamie and Ste -- unexpectedly fall in love. This moving slice of affecting kitchen-sink realism from Britain's esteemed Channel Four Films is adapted from the hit West End play penned by Jonathan Harvey, who also directs.

A Family is a Family is a Family
October 18, Somsen Auditorium, 7pm
In A Family Is a Family Is a Family, kids offer touching, profound and often funny insights about what being a family means to them. Among those featured are: childrenwith two fathers or two mothers; a girl whose mother and father adopted her in China; three brothers who live with their mother and grandmother; a pair ofmothers who are getting married to make one big family; and families with adopted kids and children born through in-vitro fertilization.

Mosquita y Mari
October 24, Stark 103, 7pm
Mosquita y Mari is a coming of age story that focuses on a tender friendship between two young Chicanas. As their friendship grows, a yearning to explore their strange yet beautiful connection surfaces. Lost in their private world of unspoken affection, lingering gazes, and heart-felt confessions of uncertain futures, Yolanda's grades begin to slip while Mari's focus drifts away from her duties at a new job. Mounting pressures at home collide with their new-found connection, forcing them to choose between their obligations to others and staying true to themselves.

Transamerica
October 30, Somsen Auditorium, 7pm
Transamerica follows Bree--formerly Stanley--a pre-operative male-to-female transexual awaiting gender-reassignment surgery who learns she has a wayward teenage son named Toby. When her therapist strongarms Bree into facing her past, she bails Toby out of jail and they end up on a road trip across the country. Bree wrestles with discomfort and compassion as she learns about Toby's own troubles, even while her own grow worse when she's forced to ask for help from her hostile parents.
*A brief reception will be held before the final screening in the lobby outside Somsen Auditorium.

The film series is sponsored by: GLBTA Faculty Committee, English Department, Theater and Dance, Women's and Gender Studies, Communication Studies, Social Work, History Department, Counseling Services & GLBTA Partnership.