Symphony for a Sinner (1979) was a long, lavishly photographed color film generally considered the magnum opus of the class productions. New York critic and coauthor of Midnight Movies J. Hoberman would rank it as one of the ten best films of the year, while Stan Brakhage would call it “the ultimate class picture.” John Waters, who now visited George regularly whenever he passed through San Francisco, envied the lurid color photography and wanted George to shoot his next picture (which would have been Polyester and didn’t happen). Symphony, Waters said, had the look he craved for Desperate Living (1977). Continue reading
One of Roman Polanski’s lesser-known films, Che? (also known as What?) stars Sydne Rome as an attractive young hitchhiker who, as the film opens, accepts a ride from three men in a car, who later attempt to rape her. She escapes their clutches and makes her way to a mansion owned by millionaire Joseph Noblart (Hugh Griffith), who is overseeing a decadent party. Among the guests at his home are a pair of table-tennis players, a man with a harpoon (played by Polanski himself). Continue reading
Xanadu is a 1980 musical/romance film directed by Robert Greenwald. It is an unofficial remake of the 1947 film Down to Earth starring Rita Hayworth, as well as an unofficial sequel to the 1944 film Cover Girl in which Gene Kelly plays the same nightclub owner, Danny McGuire. The title of the film is a reference to the poem “Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which is quoted in the film. Xanadu is the name of the Chinese province where Khan establishes his pleasure garden in the poem.
Guy Hands, chief executive of U.K. buyout firm Terra Firma, lost nearly $34 million as a result of investments in films including the bizarre tale of a seven-foot boxing shrimp.
Hands is one of 75 investors who were encouraged to invest in a number of films through a company called Little Wing Films, claim tax relief and make an almost immediate profit. Hands said he had to repay more than £15 million in disallowed relief to the Inland Revenue, plus £2.3 million in interest, after the investment failed to achieve the intended tax benefits. Hands invested in three projects in 2001 and 2002, including a comedy called “Crust” featuring a seven-foot mutant shrimp washed up on a British beach and taught to box by a drunken pub landlord. Continue reading
Polyester is a 1981 comedy film directed, produced, and written by John Waters, and starring Divine, Tab Hunter, Edith Massey, and Mink Stole. It was filmed in Waters’ native Baltimore, Maryland, and features a gimmick called “Odorama”, whereby viewers could smell what they saw on screen through scratch and sniff cards.
The film is a satirical look at suburban life involving divorce, abortion, adultery, alcoholism, foot fetishism, and the Religious Right.
“Cry-Baby is a 1990 American teen musical film written and directed by John Waters. It stars Johnny Depp as 1950s teen rebel “Cry-Baby” Wade Walker, and also features a large ensemble cast that includes Amy Locane, Iggy Pop, Traci Lords, Ricki Lake, Kim McGuire, David Nelson, Susan Tyrrell, and Patty Hearst. The film did not achieve high audience numbers in its initial release, but has subsequently become a cult classic and spawned a Broadway musical of the same name which was nominated for four Tony Awards.
The film is a parody of teen musicals (particularly Grease) and centers on a group of delinquents that refer to themselves as “drapes” and their interaction with the rest of the town and its other subculture, the “squares”, in 1950s Baltimore, Maryland. “Cry-Baby” Walker, a drape, and Allison, a square, create upheaval and turmoil in their little town of Baltimore by breaking the subculture taboos and falling in love. The film shows what the young couple has to overcome to be together and how their actions affect the rest of the town. Continue reading
The Great Texas Dynamite Chase is a well-made exploitation film which works on two levels, providing kicks for the ozoner crowd and tongue-in-cheek humor for the more sophisticated. The film had some initial playdates under the title Dynamite Women.
Claudia Jennings and Jocelyn Jones are stylish and attractive as a pair of brazen Texas bankrobbers. They stay firmly in character throughout as a loyal but very divergent criminal pair.
Jennings is a hardened prison escapee, while Jones goes on the road to avoid the boredom of being a smalltown bank teller. They use lots of dynamite along the way, but there’s little bloodshed until the last part of the film, when the film’s dominant spoof tone turns uncomfortably and unsuccessfully close to reality. Continue reading