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IT'S ALIVE! (1974) (***1/2)

When expecting a new child anxieties run high. You worry about them being healthy. You worry about how they will turn out. Larry Cohen's creepy horror flick takes those anxieties and blows them out into terror. How would you you feel if your new baby was a savage monster?

Frank (John P. Ryan, BOUND) and Lenore Davis (Sharon Farrell, THE STUNT MAN) are an expecting couple. They already have an eight-year-old son Chris (Daniel Holzman), who is looking forward to being a big brother. Sitting in the waiting room with other expecting fathers, Frank seems the bastion of calm. But then screams echo down the halls. And he witnesses the blood bath in the delivery room where his wife is still strapped to the table. The baby has killed the doctors and nurses and fled the hospital.

Blogs

THE SECRET OF KELLS (2010) (***1/2)

The Book of Kells is considered the pinnacle of the insular illumination style and its influence on the visuals of this film is in every corner of the frame. The elaborate calligraphy of the Irish national treasure might be simplified but it's woven into the buildings and environments. These remarkable visuals bring to life a fantasy version of the book's creation, filled with Irish lore. The visuals alone make this film captivating.

Brendan (Evan McGuire) is a young apprentice at the Abbey of Kells, where his uncle Cellach (Brendan Gleeson, IN BRUGES) is the abbot. Brendan is fascinated with the tales of the master illuminator Adian of Iona (Mick Lally, THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH) and the book he is creating. Brendan is inspired by the magic of the book, but his uncle believes he is a dreamer and needs to focus on the construction of a wall to protect the town from marauding Vikings. When Adian must flee the Vikings at Iona, he brings the book to Kells to work on it in secret. Brendan wants to help. Disobeying his uncle's orders to not venture into the forest, he goes in a search of gall nuts that can be used for ink. On his adventure, Brendan meets a fairy named Aisling (Christen Mooney) and his view of the world opens up.

Blogs

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FIRST SEQUENCE (2010) (**)

One shouldn't beat around the bush when it comes to reviewing this film. It's about a mad surgeon who wants to surgically connect three humans mouth to anus, making one long, gross gastric system. Like a long car ride it really sucks to be in the middle.

Like thousands of other horror films, two pretty young women, Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), are on vacation when their car breaks down along some out of the way stretch of road. They wander through the woods and come upon house of Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser, THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM). Before letting them in the house, he asks them if they're sisters, and when they say they aren't, he seems disappointed. Creepy. But they go in anyway and end up drugged and then tied to an operation table. Eventually they' re joined (at first figuratively and then literally) by the unfortunate Japanese tourist Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura, PORNO).

Blogs

MONSTER A-GO-GO (1965) (*)

This sci-fi horror flick has been called the worst film ever made. Its ranking on iMDB is 1.4, making it the second lowest rated film. The film stands up to that lofty reputation. However, unlike films like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE or ROBOT MONSTER, this one isn't so bad, it's good like some claim. Those films find ways of entertaining with their ineptitude. What keeps MONSTER A-GO-GO from attaining that wonderful BOMB status is that it's painfully boring.

A space capsule crashes to Earth. Frank Douglas (Henry Hite) has been infected with radiation portion, which has shriveled his skin like a prune and made him wander around like a zombie. Anyone who comes too close to him turns into a raisin and dies. Dr. Manning (George Perry) has been keeping him alive with an antidote, but now he's on the loose. Col. Steve Connors (Phil Morton) leads a force to contain the "monster."

Blogs

The Career Rebel: Lose Your Safety Net

By Lisa Kaye | Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 1:27pm

When you think of what you have versus what you do not have, it may make you feel grateful or depressed. Holding onto a job you can’t stand for fear you’ll never find one that you will love, is like staying in a bad relationship because you are afraid to be alone. When you face the fear that holds you back, you have a fighting chance to rise above the chaos surrounding your career and find what you truly desire.

Blogs

Idiots' Diary #19: 'Idiots & Angels' Held Over at the IFC in New York!

Yeah! Idiots and Angels was held over at the IFC by popular demand! This is what I dreamed of. All those distributors who rejected “Idiots and Angels” now must realize that there is an audience for an adult animated film. People want to see mature and provocative ideas in cartoons.

Blogs

Ottawa 2010 - Scenes from the Awards Ceremony

By Dan Sarto | Monday, October 25, 2010 at 11:14am

The closing ceremonies bring an end to another Ottawa International Animation Festival. And while I await my connecting flight in Newark for the final leg of my journey home, I linger just a bit longer on the images in my mind of all the wonderous activities of the past week. Though I was constantly too warm or utterly frozen and could never get comfortable wearing layers and a heavy jacket, I was able to stop griping often enough to have a thoroughly great time. Here are some images from the closing.

Blogs

Ottawa 2010 - Just the right note with Lou

By Dan Sarto | Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 9:44am

I spoke with Lou Pomanti to get his take on music for animation. Lou Pomanti is an award-winning, performer, arranger, and producer. He’s a keyboard wizard, and worked with Blood Sweat and Tears, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, and Michael Buble. He even was the arranger for the finalists for the Hockey Night in Canada Anthem Challenge, which, in Canada, is pretty much the national anthem.

Blogs

Ottawa Day 3: Faces, Places, Pumpkin Carving and Snow

By Dan Sarto | Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 6:02am

Take a quick glance at some of the people I met up with yesterday while stumbling around the annual Animator's Picnic and later, while trying to get warm at the Arts Court cafe and Aniboutique. Old friends, new friends, a pretty uninspired procession of eviscerated gourds. Oh, and have I told you, it's cold here? Aye?

Creative Blogs

Creative Problem Solving Pt 1: Discovering originality and Value

By Robin King | Friday, October 22, 2010 at 5:09pm

Creativity is at the core of our personal and collective evolution – whether as individuals or as teams and creative ability is well understood, can be clearly explained. Everyone is capable of creative effort given well-designed training, experiential exercises and reflective practice.

Blogs

Ottawa Day 2: Jan Pinkava is Utterly Charming and It's Really Cold

By Dan Sarto | Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 11:35pm

The highlight of my second day in Ottawa was finding a working ATM. But the “treat” of the day was sitting in on an intimate discussion with former Oscar-winning Pixar and current Laika writer/director Jan Pinkava. Friendly, engaging, entertaining and brilliant – utterly charming. Made me feel like audience extra at a taping of “Regis and Kelly.” And it’s really, really cold here.

Blogs

PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW (1971) (***)

There are so many elements of this film that make it cult. It's a high school sex comedy that is pitch black. The director is BARBARELLA auteur Roger Vadim and the writer/producer is STAR TREK creator Gene Roddenberry. The star is Rock Hudson as the football coach who beds his underage female students on a daily basis. Come on you can't write irony better than that.

Hudson is Tiger McDrew, a local hero who just has women fawning over him when he walks into a room. In between sleeping with every hot girl in the school and spending time with his wife (Barbara Leigh, JUNIOR BONNER) and daughter, he takes forever-young football team manager Ponce de Leon Harper (John David Carson, THE DAY OF THE DOLPHIN) under his wing. The boy has a problem; he has a constant erection. Especially in the class of new teacher Miss Betty Smith (Angie Dickinson, RIO BRAVO). So all Tiger needs to do to get the older woman to teach Ponce the sexual ropes is to ask. Oh yeah, the pretty co-heads are turning up dead.

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