If you dare! Venture to the Hypnodrome, home of San Francisco's Thrillpeddlers. The company is America's preeminent producer of plays from the Grand Guignol, the infamous Parisian theater that peddled thrills (if you will) from 1897-1962; the Hypnodrome, which seats 45, has been in operation for five years. The brave can choose to sit in "shock boxes" that line the theater's back row each box is tricked out with buzzers and other devices designed to lend an extra-sensational experience. Read more »
Cary Cronenwett first heard the cinematic call in 1998. He was volunteering at Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, and caught an experimental film, Dandy Dust, by Austrian director A. Hans Schierl. "That made me think, 'Wow I could make a film.' I think it's a natural reaction that everybody has after watching a shorts program. I was like, 'I'll make something five minutes [long] it'll be really cool!'"
As Cronenwett soon realized, nothing is easy when it comes to filmmaking. Read more »
Straight-to-DVD bio-doc Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (Cinevolve, $24.95) is stylistically pretty ho-hum, especially for a film about one of the most creative minds in supernatural horror fiction. Talking heads and slow pans over illustrations do most of the heavy lifting, since the author, who died in 1937, apparently didn't leave behind much in the way of photographs, recordings, diaries, or relatives. Still, the film offers an informative experience. For a guy obsessed with Old Ones and tentacled beasts, H.P. Read more »
FILM Habitual attendees of documentary films in San Francisco might be surprised to see so many familiar titles in this year's SF DocFest lineup. At least one (American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art, which played the Red Vic a few months back) is skippable. Others like I Need That Record: The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, Off and Running, and especially Johnny Weir portrait Pop Star on Ice make welcome returns. Read more »
PREVIEW There is literally something for everyone at this year's 18th annual San Francisco Fringe Festival. Don't try to argue, man this year's slate, which jams over 250 performances of over 40 experimental works by companies near and far into just under two weeks, is incredibly diverse. Read more »
Let's be honest, film fans: summer 2009 hasn't exactly been an exercise in awesome. Early entries like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Terminator Salvation were disappointing; hyped projects like Public Enemies and Brüno offered some entertainments, but overall felt kinda meh. Read more »
THE DRUG ISSUE After watching hours of Intervention A&E's reality show that profiles addicts, their families, and their painful first steps toward recovery I concluded that junkies don't watch Intervention. But if the average non-junkie watches too much Intervention, he or she will without a doubt become addicted to Intervention. So proceed cautiously.
With the exception of special "follow-up" entries, the structure of every episode (seven seasons' worth) is similar. Read more »
REVIEW The Pacific Film Archive's current series "Eccentric Cinema: Overlooked Oddities and Ecstasies, 1963-82" contains such notorious curios as Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise (1974) and Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie (1971). But maybe the oddest oddity (and most ecstatic ecstasy) of the bunch is writer-director John Boorman's Zardoz (1974). Boorman's Deliverance (1972) scored big; presumably, its success was the reason he was able to do whatever the fuck he wanted next. Read more »