Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #6: Lemora (dir by Richard Blackburn)


Continuing the process of cleaning out my DVR, I watched an odd little film from 1975 called Lemora.  I recorded Lemora on March 25th, when it aired as a part of TCM Underground.

Lemora opens with an odd scene that appears to be set in the 1920s.  A man dressed up like a stereotypical movie gangster (think Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar) guns down another man with his tommy gun and then races off in his car.  After he crashes, he crawls into a dark forest where he is apparently captured by a mysterious, black-clad woman.

Suddenly, we cut to 13 year-old Lila Lee (Cheryl Smith), singing in church.  Lila is blonde, innocent, and has an almost heavenly singing voice.  Everyone listens to her with almost worshipful attention.  When the Reverend (played by the film’s director, Richard Blackburn) steps up to the pulpit, he announces that he knows what some people are saying about Lila and her father but that she is pure and innocent.

It turns out that the gangster is Lila’s father.  Lila hasn’t had much contact with her father.  Instead, she has been raised in the church by the Reverend.  However, Lila receives a letter from her father.  The letter claims that he’s dying and that he wants to see Lila and ask for forgiveness before he passes.  The letter also says that her father is in the town of Astaroth.

(You would think that, having been raised in the church, Lila would know that Astaroth is also the name of a legendary demon.)

Knowing that the Reverend would never allow her to go, Lila sneaks out of the house.  She stows away in the back of a couple’s car and listens as the couple gossips about her relationship with the Reverend, suggesting that the Reverend is just waiting for Lila to “turn legal.”  After she gets out of the car, she takes a bus the rest of the way to Astaroth.  Sitting on the dark bus, just her and the somewhat creepy driver, Lila listens as the driver tells her that the people of Astaroth have a certain look.

When she arrives at Astaroth, Lila finds herself being pursued by seemingly deformed vampires but she’s rescued by the mysterious Lemora (Lesley Gilb).  Or is she?  Lemora is the same woman who found Lila’s father in the forest and it soon becomes obvious that Lemora has plans for Lila as well…

Meanwhile, the Reverend discovers that Lila has run away and his reaction leads us to suspect that there may have been more than a little bit of truth to the conversation that Lila previously overheard in the car.  The Reverend sets out to track down and rescue Lila but, at this point, the viewer trusts him even less than they trust Lemora.

It’s a very strange movie and a difficult one to describe.  It’s a movie that creates its own unique and odd reality.  Lemora expects the viewer to conform to its style as opposed to conforming to the audience’s expectations.  Lemora‘s full name is Lemora: A Child’s Tale Of The Supernatural and it really does play out like a particularly nightmarish fairy tale.  Though the film was definitely low-budget, it’s full of strikingly surreal images.  The entire movie feels like a dream — everything from the almost campy, gangster-film opening to Lila’s strange journey on the dark bus to Lemora’s hypnotic stare to the sudden and shocking conclusion of the Reverend’s relationship with Lila.  The film has one of those endings that forces you to reconsider everything that you previously witnessed.

Much like Messiah of Evil, Lemora is one of those surrealistic and low-budget horror films that almost defies conventional criticism.  It’s a surreal dream of dark and disturbing things and one that everyone should see for themselves.  You may love it, as I did.  You may hate it.  But you will never forget it.

Music Video of the Day: If You Don’t Know Me By Now by Simply Red (1989, dir. Vaughan Arnell & Anthea Benton)

A few years back I noticed that music videos were largely missing from IMDb. Sure you could find Thriller, but that was about it. I went and tried to get Metallica’s One submitted. I knew I could argue anyone into the ground about it. I did have to argue with someone at IMDb about it, but it went nowhere. Last year I went and checked to see if maybe it eventually had made it’s way in there. It had. Why not try again? I submitted Take On Me by a-ha knowing I could also argue anyone into the ground about it. It was almost instantly accepted the moment I pressed the submit button. I tried again and again with various videos. They were all accepted. I even received two emails from two separate people at IMDb telling me to keep submitting them with a couple little guidelines. I don’t think they should be marked as video rather than a regular music short, but it’s progress.

Lately it has been difficult for me to get on here and do full reviews of movies for various reasons. As a result, I thought it would be fun to spotlight a video here from time to time. There are some interesting ones out there. I know I found it interesting to discover that William Friedkin made Laura Branigan’s Self Control and Brian De Palma did Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark. I’ll try to have something to say about it, but other times it will just be the video itself.

This one is directed by veteran music video directors Vaughan Arnell and Anthea Benton. I love the choice of going with black and white. The 80s turned the use of color upside down from color meaning a dream like in The Wizard of Oz (1939) to black and white meaning a dream. The video essentially takes place inside of the lead singer’s mind filled with empty chairs, the rest of the band, and memories that play out on projections around him. To my knowledge, all the clips are original, but I’m not 100% sure and I’ve seen other music videos use clips from other films. Enjoy.

The Girl With All The Gifts Gives A Glimpse of A Hungry, Dystopian Future


Several years ago, a video games was released for the PS4 that took on the zombie survival horror genre and put a new twist on it. The game was called The Last of Us. It was a game set in a post-apocalyptic Earth where an unknown fungal infection had decimated the world’s population by turning those it infected into mutated creatures with a taste for living flesh.

There’s been talk of turning the game into a live-action film, but things never progressed beyond the concept and pre-development stage. The game’s narrative does lend itself well into being a live-action film.

Now let’s move up a few more years. The year 2014 to be exact and we see comic book writer and novelist M.R. Carey release a novel titled The Girl with All The Gifts. It’s a novel which shares the detail of a fungal infection creating zombie-like creatures (called “hungries” in the book and film) from those who become infected. Outside of that important detail the novel and the game only share the post-apocalyptic setting.

The novel was so well-received by critics and readers alike that plans to adapt the book into a live-action film was made soon after it’s release. While the live-action plans for The Last of Us languishes in development hell, it looks like we’ll finally be able to see something similar with the soon-to-be released film The Girl with All The Gifts.

The film stars newcomer Sennia Nanua as the titular girl with all the gifts with veteran actors such as Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine backing her up. As the so-called zombie fatigue (maybe for some general audiences but definitely not to most horror fans) begin to set in, it’s stories like The Last of Us and The Girl with All The Gifts that continues to breathe in new life into a sub-genre of horror storytelling to keep it going strong.

The Girl with All The Gifts is set to hit the theaters on September 23, 2016.

Artist Profile: Bill Cunningham (1929 — 2016)

Bill Cunningham meets a future fan

Bill Cunningham meets a future fan

I woke up to some sad news today.  Bill Cunningham has died.

Bill Cunningham was a fashion photographer who revolutionized the industry by taking pictures of not just the rich and famous but also candid shots of everyday people on the streets of New York.  His life, philosophy, and work are the subjects of a documentary called Bill Cunningham New York, which is a must-see if you’re a photographer.

Here are a few of Bill Cunningham’s pictures: