Posts Tagged ‘directors’

Wes-Craven

Wes Craven, the legendary director of the influential horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street has passed away, as initially reported by THR, and thereafter confirmed by the director’s official Twitter page. Craven reportedly succumbed to brain cancer. He was 76 years old.

Craven’s long filmography included entries in many different genres, but his name will forever be synonymous with the scarred, knife-gloved ghoul Freddy Krueger from the original 1984 Elm Street along with numerous other horror titles which changed the genre for good. His influence on American horror and pop culture in general cannot be underestimated.

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Wesley Earl Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 2, 1939 into a strict Baptist family. His mother was reportedly severely religious and he evidently never developed a close relationship with his father, who has been described as distant and violent in nature. Craven attended Wheaton College in Illinois, earning an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology before gaining a master’s in Writing and Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University.

Craven taught briefly at Westminster College and at what is now Clarkson University before moving into filmmaking, with his first job in the industry as a sound editor at a New York post-production house. Craven then moved into directing X-rated films, as stated during an interview for the porn documentary Inside Deep Throat.

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Craven’s breakthrough was the 1972 low budget exploitation-horror shocker Last House on the Left, which Craven wrote, directed and edited. Produced by Sean S. Cunningham – who would go on to make the original 1980 Friday the 13th – and based on Swedish master Ingmar Bergman’s Virgin Spring, Craven’s debut chronicled the rape and murder of a young girl, whose attackers wind up at her parents’ home and become the victims of a brutal revenge.

Wes-Cravens-Last-House-on-the-LeftThe attackers in Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left.

Making over $3 million on a roughly $87,000 budget, Last House on the Left put Craven on the map. In 1977 Craven’s cult classic The Hills Have Eyes was released, which followed a suburban family who becomes stranded in the Nevada desert and assaulted by a family of deranged savages and was remade in 2006. Craven directed the 1982 comic book adaptation Swamp Thing (a cult favorite for… different reasons) and The Hills Have Eyes II before giving the world what would become his most enduring and immortal creation: Freddy Krueger in 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.

hills-have-eyes-craven-1977Craven on set, The Hills Have Eyes, 1977.

Elm Street explored the terrifyingly thin line between dreams and reality and featured Robert Englund as the cackling homicidal Freddy, who haunts the dreams of suburban teenagers and dispatching them in increasingly grotesque and creative ways once they fall asleep. The film spawned a series of sequels (of increasingly diminished quality), a spinoff pitting two of the most iconic 1980’s slasher characters against each other (Freddy Vs. Jason), a horror anthology series for television and a 2010 remake. Freddy Krueger gained a permanent place in the American pop culture subconscious.

Freddy-Krueger-in-Wes-Cravens-A-Nightmare-on-Elm-StreetFreddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street.

In 1986, Craven directs his first movie for a big studio (Warner Bros.), Deadly Friend, a romantic teenage horror movie that failed in the box office. Originally, the film was a sci-fi thriller without any graphic scenes, with a bigger focus on plot and character development, and a dark love story centering around the two main characters, which were not typical aspects of Craven’s previous films. After Craven’s original director’s cut was shown to a test audience, the audience criticized the lack of graphic, bloody violence and gore that Craven’s films included. Due to studio imposed re-shoots and re-editing, the film was drastically altered in post-production, losing much of the original plot and more scenes between characters, while other scenes, including bloodier deaths and a new ending, were added.

deadly-friendDeadly Friend, director Wes Craven, and Kristy Swanson, 1986.

Craven was involved in the lucrative Elm Street sequels up until A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, but moved on to direct episodes of the mid-80’s reboot of The Twilight Zone as well as The Serpent and the Rainbow, based on the nonfiction book about an ethnobotanist (Bill Pullman) who investigates an alleged true life case of a zombie created through Haitian Voodoo.

the-serpent-and-the-rainbowBill Pulman in The Serpent and the Rainbow, 1988.

The Serpent and the Rainbow represented an attempt to move away from the slasher genre Craven helped create, and while he would follow it up with schlocky fare like the horror-comedy Shocker and the more straight-forward horror film The People Under the Stairs, Craven would revisit his signature creation with 1994’s New Nightmare. A meta-horror examination of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, New Nightmare featured the original film’s stars Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund (and Craven himself) as themselves, pitted against Freddy Krueger as attempts to enter the real world.

Ghostface-in-Wes-Cravens-ScreamGhostface in Wes Craven’s 1996 Scream.

screamScream, Wes Craven, with Drew Barrymore, 1996.

In 1996, Wes Craven once again reinvented the horror genre for a new generation with Scream, a horror movie about horror movies featuring a clever, self-aware script by Kevin Williamson and – keeping with the Craven tradition of casting promising talent (like Johnny Depp in Elm Street or Sharon Stone in 1981’s Deadly Blessing) – starred the likes of Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy and Matthew Lillard. Scream spawned three sequels and was recently adapted for television on MTV. The TV version of Scream has proved a hit, and has been renewed for a second season.

music-of-the-heartCraven directs Music of the Heart, 1999.

red-eyeRed Eye, director Wes Craven, Rachel McAdams on set, 2005.

paris-je-taimeParis, Je T’Aime, segment: Pere-Lachaise, directed by Wes Craven, on location, 2006.

Between directing Scream 2 and Scream 3, Craven stepped out of his main genre completely with the drama Music of the Heart, which starred Meryl Streep in an Oscar-nominated performance as an inner-city music teacher. His straight-forward thriller Red Eye was one of the highlights of his 2000’s output, as was his segment in the acclaimed French anthology film Paris je t’aime. His final two films, 2010’s My Soul to Take and 2011’s Scream 4 were less well-received, but he had several promising projects in development, such as a television adaptation of The People Under the Stairs with SyFy.

My-Soul-to-TakeWes Craven directing My Soul to Take (2010).

scream-4Scream 4, director Wes Craven, with Courteney Cox, on set, 2011.

wes_portraitCraven was a life-long nature lover and served as a member of the Audubon California Board of Directors, a conservationist society committed to restoring and protecting natural ecosystems. He is survived by his third wife Iya Labunka, his sister, children, grandchildren and stepdaughter.

Wes Craven was of the greatest American horror directors of all time, tapping into the existential terror lurking under the surface of 1980’s suburbia and time and again explored the blurry line between fantasy and reality. On the subject of the horror genre, Craven once said:

“It’s like boot camp for the psyche. In real life, human beings are packaged in the flimsiest of packages, threatened by real and sometimes horrifying dangers, events like Columbine. But the narrative form puts these fears into a manageable series of events. It gives us a way of thinking rationally about our fears.”

R.I.P. Master. You gave generations of horror fans the best kind of nightmares.

Wes Craven Filmography (only as director)

1972 – The Last House on the Left     
1977 – The Hills Have Eyes     
1978 – Stranger in Our House     (TV movie)
1981 – Deadly Blessing     
1982 – Swamp Thing     
1984 – Invitation to Hell     (TV movie)
1984 – A Nightmare on Elm Street     
1985 – Chiller     (TV movie)
1985 – The Hills Have Eyes Part II     
1985 – The Twilight Zone     (TV series, 5 episodes)
1986 – Deadly Friend     
1986 – Casebusters (Episode of anthology TV series Disneyland)
1988 – The Serpent and the Rainbow     
1989 – The People Next Door         
1989 – Shocker     
1990 – Night Visions     (TV movie)
1991 – The People Under the Stairs     
1992 – Nightmare Cafe     (TV movie)
1994 – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare     
1995 – Vampire in Brooklyn     
1995 – The Hills Have Eyes III         
1996 – Scream     
1997 – Scream 2     
1999 – Music of the Heart     
2005 – Cursed     
2005 – Red Eye     
2006 – Paris, je t’aime  (Segment: Père-Lachaise)    
2010 – My Soul to Take     
2011 – Scream 4

Source: Wikipedia and Screen Rant.

The man who gave us E.T., Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones, Jurasic Park and many many others great movies, is completing 66 today.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Spielberg.

Steven-Spielberg

A DIRECTOR IN ACTION:

Steven Spielberg

Steven Allan Spielberg was born on December 18, 1946, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a Jewish family. His mother, Leah Adler (née Posner, 1920– ), was a restaurateur and concert pianist, and his father, Arnold Spielberg (1917– ), was an electrical engineer involved in the development of computers. He spent his childhood in Haddon Township, New Jersey, where he saw one of his first films in a theater, as well as in Scottsdale, Arizona. Throughout his early teens, Spielberg made amateur 8 mm “adventure” films with his friends, the first of which he shot at the Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant in Scottsdale. He charged admission (25 cents) to his home films (which involved the wrecks he staged with his Lionel train set) while his sister sold popcorn.

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In 1958, he became a Boy Scout, and fulfilled a requirement for the photography merit badge by making a nine-minute 8 mm film entitled “The Last Gunfight”. At age thirteen, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war film he titled “Escape to Nowhere” which was based on a battle in east Africa. In 1963, at age sixteen, Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called “Firelight” (which would later inspire Close Encounters). The film, which had a budget of US$500, was shown in his local cinema and generated a profit of $1.

After his parents divorced, he moved to Saratoga, California with his father. His three sisters and mother remained in Arizona. As an intern and guest of Universal Studios, Spielberg made his first short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute “Amblin'” (1968), the title of which Spielberg later took as the name of his production company, Amblin Entertainment. After Sidney Sheinberg, then the vice-president of production for Universal’s TV arm, saw the film, Spielberg became the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio (Universal). He dropped out of Long Beach State in 1969 to take up the television director contract at Universal Studios and began his career as a professional director. His first professional TV job came when he was hired to direct one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of “Night Gallery”. The segment, “Eyes,” starred Joan Crawford, and she and Spielberg were reportedly close friends until her death.

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Based on the strength of his work, Universal signed Spielberg to do four TV films. The first was a Richard Matheson adaptation called “Duel”. The film is about a psychotic Peterbilt 281 tanker truck driver who chases a terrified driver (Dennis Weaver) of a small Plymouth Valiant and tries to run him off the road. Spielberg will be back to the road in his debut feature film “The Sugarland Express”, about a married couple who are chased by police as the couple tries to regain custody of their baby. The film marks the first collaboration between Spielberg and composer John Williams. Studio producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg the director’s chair for Jaws, a thriller-horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark. Spielberg has often referred to the gruelling shoot as his professional crucible. Despite the film’s ultimate, enormous success, it was nearly shut down due to delays and budget over-runs. But Spielberg persevered and finished the film. It was an enormous hit, winning three Academy Awards (for editing, original score and sound) and grossing more than $470 million worldwide at the box office. “Jaws” made him a household name, as well as one of America’s youngest multi-millionaires, and allowed Spielberg a great deal of autonomy for his future projects. It was nominated for Best Picture and featured Spielberg’s first of three collaborations with actor Richard Dreyfuss.

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Rejecting offers to direct “Jaws 2”, “King Kong” and “Superman”, Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a film about UFOs, which became “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), one of the rare films both written and directed by Spielberg. This second blockbuster helped to secure Spielberg’s rise. His next film, “1941”, a big-budgeted World War II farce, was not successful and Spielberg then revisited his Close Encounters project and, with financial backing from Columbia Pictures, released “Close Encounters: The Special Edition” in 1980.

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Next, Spielberg teamed with “Star Wars” creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the first of the Indiana Jones films. The archaeologist and adventurer hero Indiana Jones was played by Harrison Ford (whom Lucas had previously cast in his “Star Wars” films as Han Solo). A year later, Spielberg returned to the science fiction genre with “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”. It was the story of a young boy and the alien he befriends, who was accidentally left behind by his companions and is attempting to return home.

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His next directorial feature was the Raiders prequel “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”. Teaming up once again with Lucas and Ford,  it was on this project that Spielberg also met his future wife, actress Kate Capshaw. In 1985, Spielberg released “The Color Purple”, an adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, about a generation of empowered African-American women during depression-era America. In 1987, as China began opening to Western capital investment, Spielberg shot the first American film in Shanghai since the 1930s, an adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s autobiographical novel “Empire of the Sun”, starring John Malkovich and a young Christian Bale.

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After two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. Once again teaming up with Lucas and Ford, Spielberg also cast actor Sean Connery in a supporting role as Indy’s father. Also in 1989, he re-united with actor Richard Dreyfuss for the romantic comedy-drama “Always”, about a daredevil pilot who extinguishes forest fires. Spielberg’s first romantic film, “Always” was only a moderate success and had mixed reviews.

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In 1991, Spielberg directed “Hook”, about a middle-aged Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, who returns to Neverland. In 1993, Spielberg returned to the adventure genre with the film version of Michael Crichton’s novel “Jurassic Park”, about a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. With revolutionary special effects provided by friend George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic company, the film would eventually become the highest grossing film of all time (at the worldwide box office) with $914.7 million. Spielberg’s next film, “Schindler’s List”, was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust. “Schindler’s List” earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture).

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In 1994, Spielberg took a hiatus from directing to spend more time with his family and build his new studio, DreamWorks, with partners Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. In 1997, he helmed the sequel to 1993’s Jurassic Park with “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”. His next theatrical release in that same year was the World War II film “Saving Private Ryan”, about a group of U.S. soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) sent to bring home a paratrooper whose three older brothers were killed in the last twenty four hours of action in France. In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick’s final project, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” which Kubrick was unable to begin during his lifetime. A futuristic film about a humanoid android longing for love, “A.I.” featured groundbreaking visual effects and a multi-layered, allegorical storyline, adapted by Spielberg himself. Spielberg and actor Tom Cruise collaborated for the first time for the futuristic neo-noir “Minority Report”, based upon the science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick about a Washington D.C. police captain in the year 2054 who has been foreseen to murder a man he has not yet met.

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Spielberg’s 2002 film “Catch Me If You Can” is about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Spielberg collaborated again with Tom Hanks along with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in 2004’s “The Terminal”, a warm-hearted comedy about a man of Eastern European descent who is stranded in an airport. Also in 2005, Spielberg directed a modern adaptation of “War of the Worlds” (a co-production of Paramount and DreamWorks), based on the H. G. Wells book of the same name (Spielberg had been a huge fan of the book and the original 1953 film). It starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, and, as with past Spielberg films, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) provided the visual effects. Unlike “E.T.” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, which depicted friendly alien visitors, “War of the Worlds” featured violent invaders. Spielberg’s film “Munich”, about the events following the 1972 Munich Massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games.

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Spielberg directed “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, which wrapped filming in October 2007 and was released on May 22, 2008. In early 2009, Spielberg shot the first film in a planned trilogy of motion capture films based on “The Adventures of Tintin”, written by Belgian artist Hergé, with Peter Jackson. “The Adventures of Tintin”, was not released until October 2011, due to the complexity of the computer animation involved. Spielberg followed that with “War Horse”, based on the novel of the same name written by Michael Morpurgo and published in 1982, follows the long friendship between a British boy and his horse Joey before and during World War I. Spielberg next directed the historical drama film “Lincoln”, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s bestseller Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film covered the final four months of Lincoln’s life and was released in November 2012.

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Source: Wikipedia.

George Andrew Romero was born February 4, 1940, and is a Canadian-American film director, screenwriter and editor, best known for his gruesome and satirical horror films about a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. He is nicknamed “Godfather of all Zombies.”

At first I didn’t think of them as zombies, I thought of them as flesh-eaters or ghouls and never called them zombies in the first film. Then people started to write about them, calling them zombies, and all of a sudden that’s what they were: the new zombies. I guess I invented a few rules, like kill the brain and you kill the ghoul, and eventually I surrendered to the idea and called them zombies in Dawn of the Dead (1978), but it was never that important to me what they were. Just that they existed.

After graduation, he began shooting mostly short films and commercials. He and his friends formed “Image Ten Productions” in the late 1960s and they all chipped in roughly US$10,000 a piece to produce what became one of the most celebrated American horror films of all time: “The Night of the Living Dead” (1968).

Shot in black-and-white on a budget of just over US$100,000, Romero’s vision, combined with a solid script written by him and his “Image” co-founder John A. Russo (along with what was then considered an excess of gore) enabled the film to earn back far more than what it cost, became a cult classic by the early 1970s and was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress of the United States in 1999.

Read more about George A. Romero:
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_A._Romero
IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001681/bio

My zombie films have been so far apart that I’ve been able to reflect the socio-political climates of the different decades. I have this conceit that they’re a little bit of a chronicle, a cinematic diary of what’s going on.

Yeah, I’m seen by the studios as a genre guy. I’ve made several non-genre films, but nobody went to see them. I guess I’ll never be a member of that club.

I don’t think you need to spend $40 million to be creepy. The best horror films are the ones that are much less endowed.

I don’t try to answer any questions or preach. My personality and my opinions come through in the satire of the films, but I think of them as a snapshot of the time. I have this device, or conceit, where something happens in the world and I can say, ‘Ooo, I’ll talk about that, and I can throw zombies in it! And get it made!’ You know, it’s kind of my ticket to ride.

I’ll never get sick of zombies. I just get sick of producers.

FILMS DIRECTED BY GEORGE A. ROMERO:
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
There’s Always Vanilla (1971)
Season of the Witch (1972)
The Crazies (1973)
Martin (1977)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Knightriders (1981)
Creepshow (1982)
Day of the Dead (1985)
Monkey Shines (1988)
Two Evil Eyes (1990)
The Dark Half (1993)
Bruiser (2000)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Diary of the Dead (2007)
Survival of the Dead (2009)

ZOMBIE MOVIES:

To see the Part 1 of this post, click here.

FINAL SPEECH OF “THE GREAT DICTATOR”

General Schulz: Speak – it is our only hope.

The Jewish Barber: I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.” The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men—machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Hanna, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up Hanna! The clouds are lifting! The sun is breaking through! We are coming out of the darkness into the light! We are coming into a new world; a kind new world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed, and brutality. Look up, Hanna! The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow. Into the light of hope! Into the future! The glorious future! That belongs to you, to me, and to all of us. Look up, Hanna! Look up!

SEE THE FINAL SPEECH SCENE FROM THE GREAT DICTATOR ON YOUTUBE:

Enjoy the gallery.

Charles Spencer Chaplin, Knight Commander of the British Empire, was born on 16 April 1889, supposedly in East Street, Walworth, London, England. Chaplin died in his sleep in Vevey, Switzerland on Christmas Day 1977.

To read more, follow the link at next to wikipedia’s Charles Chaplin page. To see the Part 2 click here. Enjoy the gallery.