Cheryl Eddy

Midnight Specialists: Midnites For Maniacs

The king of midnight movies in SF: Jesse Hawthorne Ficks
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cheryl@sfbg.com

Ask Jesse Hawthorne Ficks what his favorite movie is, and he won't hesitate: it's Ski School. Ficks, who programs and hosts the Castro Theatre's monthly Midnites for Maniacs triple feature, interprets "favorite" literally: the 1991 raunch-com might not surface on any highbrow top-10 lists, but it's likely no scholar loves Citizen Kane (1941) as much as Ficks loves Ski School.

"I've always been upset with people who talk about guilty pleasures," Ficks explained when I paid him a visit at the Ninth Street Film Center. Read more »

No scrubs

Can Sicko cure our health care system?
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cheryl@sfbg.com

Michael Moore is a divisive character, but he's not the most controversial man in the United States. The first image in Sicko, the director's first doc since 2004's Fahrenheit 9/11, is of George W. Bush. But the liar in chief is only one of Moore's targets this time around. In Sicko he goes after America's entire health care system, examining how even folks who have health insurance are routinely screwed over by corporations that care more about profits than lives. Read more »

Singin' and shillin' with the Muppets

"Menah menah" anyone?
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I had a revelation while watching Muppets Music Moments: Statler and Waldorf are the reasons I became a film critic. As a li'l Muppet-freaked kid in the late '70s and early '80s, I lived for their curmudgeonly peanut-gallery zingers. Read more »

Tastes like chicken

Doc American Cannibal feasts on reality TV
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FILM Always be suspicious of any documentary that starts off with this snippet of dialogue: "Is it real, is it not real?" In fact, for the first 10 minutes of American Cannibal, directed by Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro, I suspected I might be watching a mock doc. But nope, it's real — more authentic than reality TV, anyway, which is the subject it chronicles via both insider insights (from showbiz types like Fox Reality Channel honcho David Lyle) and the tension-fraught journey of Gil S. Read more »

The man whose head exploded

An interview with Hostel 2 director Eli Roth
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FILM Recently, my eyeballs were among the first to be skewered by the finished print of Hostel 2. As torture and black humor unspooled on the big screen, director Eli Roth — last seen working on Grindhouse, both as an actor and behind the camera for the Thanksgiving trailer — prowled about, gauging audience reactions to his third feature film. The next day I met Roth to discuss all things horror. He talks fast. Read more »

Call the docs

The Clinton 12, Silences , and the Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes doc at the San Francisco Black Film Festival
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Now in its ninth year, the San Francisco Black Film Festival continues to expand its scope, with two long weekends of narrative films and documentaries plus several shorts programs. If you didn't catch The Last Days of Left Eye during one of its recent VH-1 airings, it's well worth a look on the big screen. Read more »

Return to the sixth dimension

Richard Elfman on his freaky, fabulous Forbidden Zone
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cheryl@sfbg.com

It's nearly impossible to describe Forbidden Zone to the uninitiated. It's a musical, a surreal fairy tale, an avant-garde live-action cartoon, and a strangely alluring jab at the boundaries of good taste. It's black-and-white and nutty all over — and has become a cult sensation since its 1980 release. A film as singularly odd as Forbidden Zone obviously has one hell of a backstory. Fortunately, I didn't have to sneak through any basement portals to track down director and coscripter Richard Elfman. Read more »

Some kind of monster!

Midnites for Maniacs: Vertically challenged monsters triple feature
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CULT FILM It's fitting that Troll 2 is playing at Midnites for Maniacs — it's truly a film only a maniac could love. This 1990 masterpiece (sorry, Julia Louis-Dreyfus fans — it's a sequel to 1986's Troll in name only) was made by an Italian crew (director Drake Floyd's real name: Claudio Fragasso), starring a cast of Salt Lake City locals. Read more »

Occupational hazards

How can we be coworkers if we can't be friends; or survive an attack by masked Eastern European Rambos? Find out in Severance.
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You think your job sucks? Imagine working as an office drone for multinational corporation Palisade Defence, whose slogan is "We're hitting a home run for freedom and a time-out for terror!" In Christopher Smith's black comedy Severance, a team-building weekend (shades of The Office) in Eastern Europe (shades of Hostel) goes gruesomely, satirically awry (shades of Shaun of the Dead). Read more »

Vote or die

Party lines get bloody in Johnnie To's Triad Election
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cheryl@sfbg.com

Now that the wave of Asian horror films (and subsequent American remakes) seems to have crashed under the weight of too many spooky kids and ladies with long, wet hair, are Asian gangster flicks the new hotness? Practically everyone in the United States has now seen a Hong Kong cops 'n' robbers thriller or at least a film once removed from such, thanks to Martin Scorsese and his Best Picture–winning Infernal Affairs remake. Read more »