Monday, February 28, 2011


A press release, released yesterday, the night of the 88th Annual Academy Awards ceremony (Zzzzzzzz...) and the ensuing wave of Tom/Tobe Hooper remarks made on Twitter... (a surprising amount with goodwill toward Tobe H.):

Horror veteran Tobe Hooper to direct Imagenation movie

(via Broadcastpro Middle East)

28 February 2011

Tobe Hooper, the director behind the legendary classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as well as the three-time Academy Award-nominated, Steven Spielberg-produced Poltergeist, will helm Imagenation Abu Dhabi’s Arabian horror film DJINN.

Penned by US writer David Tully (Hepzibah), this new take on the haunted house thriller uncovers the dark truth behind classic fairytales of the Genie.

DJINN tells the nightmarish story of a young Emirati couple who return home from the US and discover that their new apartment in a luxury high-rise built on the site of an abandoned fishing village is also home to the malevolent beings known as djinn.

DJINN, which was announced at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is scheduled to begin shooting in the UAE March 20th.

Emirati director Nayla Al Khaja, behind the short films Once, Arabana, and Malal (premiering at the Dubai International Film Festival this month), will work as a cultural consultant on DJINN. Khaja will shadow Hooper on the set and train with him in preparation to helm her first feature length horror film.

Tobe Hooper said: “The horror genre speaks an international language and I am so pleased to be involved in a project with Imagenation Abu Dhabi that will transcend cultures and borders. Simply put, this movie will scare everyone, no matter where you live or what you believe in!”

Mohammed Al Mubarak, Chairman Elect of Imagenation Abu Dhabi, said: “We are very proud to have Tobe on board for Djinn; he is a pioneer and legend in the horror genre. With our second production, Imagenation Abu Dhabi continues to work toward its promise of helping to develop the Abu Dhabi film industry, by bringing international talent and expertise into the region and of producing commercially viable and distinctly Arab stories for a global audience.”

As one of the producers, Imagenation Abu Dhabi Vice President of Development Daniela Tully continued: “From the very beginning, Tobe was at the top of our list to take the reigns of this project. The horror genre has rarely been explored in this region, and Tobe’s involvement will not only leave a lasting impact in the Arab world, but will also carry Djinn into international markets. Combining this highly original story, and its new breed of bogeyman with Tobe’s outstanding directing skill, this production has huge potential to initiate a new horror wave globally, much as Asian cinema did a decade ago.”

Hooper is a director, writer and producer best known for his work in the horror genre, with credits that include the Emmy-nominated Stephen King adaptation Salem’s Lot, several episodes for Showtime’s Masters of Horror, The Funhouse, Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, Invaders from Mars, and the Toolbox Murders. Hooper will soon add author to his dossier when his novel, MIDNIGHT MOVIE, co-written with Alan Goldsher, is published next year by Random House.

If this pans out, this will be the first Hooper feature (or anything) of the Tobe Hooper Appreciation Society's lifespan. I suppose one of the advantages of minor-league, unaffiliated filmmaking is there's not much pomp and development to endure before - before you know it - the filmmaker you're following has popped one out right underneath your nose. For instance, this certainly came out of no where, and the film is planned to commence shooting within the month. In Abu Dhabi, I assume? Well, here's extended a formal "Good luck!" to Hooper (and the Abu Dhabi film industry).

(During this most tidal and revolutionary periods in the modern Arab world, the UAE, bordered by the currently agitated Oman and the presently sweating Saudi Arabia, is practically an island of stability within the tumult of the West Asian and North African states.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

THAS: Scene from 'Lifeforce' #1

#1 - Blocking - A frank exchange.

"Was it sexual?"
"... Overwhelmingly so. Loss of control!"

Here is a dialogue scene from Lifeforce. I derive much pleasure from it. You'll have to watch it to get the off-the-wall dialogue and Peter Firth, Michael Gothard, and Frank Finlay's stupendously cheeky characterizations, but for now you can get a load of this sexy blocking.

Firth (Col. Caine) enters into an established shot, which then proceeds to make six careful rearrangements to its frame and blocking within one single roaming take. These are marked (1)-(6), and the idea here is that no cuts are made between them:







Then the sequence closes with a character exiting the same way a character entered at the beginning of this sequence: at the left side of the frame, where the door totemically stands.  In fact, the roaming camera has now returned - relatively, at least - to its original position (the frame labeled (1)), effectively making the sequence a perfect sort of movement palindrome.

Perhaps this wouldn't seem more than mere intuitive scene construction, but it is followed by a highly specific dynamic shot that answers with a rightward flow to the sequence's previous left-enfolding:

[whip-pan, rightward]

[and right-face]

Finlay (Dr. Fallada), who in the previous shot containing him we saw standing up with motions going towards the left-leaving figures, now is figured into Firth's POV, their eyes catching each other briefly, with deep contemplations in both their minds, before Finlay turns and retreats rightward. [Notice how nicely the above frame and the below one - also next to each other in the film - geometrically, graphically compliment each other.]

The camera flows right with him, as he retreats along with the heavy insights he is about to divulge as the scene follows. Firth enters into the frame, actively catching up with the flowing camera, caught in the cascade of its curiosity about the "backwards-going" man and his surely tenebrous and abstruse knowledge. Effectively Finlay, then, becomes a part of the image background (mystery) as Firth (our stand-in) effectively becomes its foreground.

The rightward flow is capped off with Finlay's action of setting his cup of tea (or coffee) down behind him, and the camera takes one more step into the mysterious "rightness" and gives us a shot from behind Finlay, catching him turning and bringing his cup down onto the table and so functioning much more than as just a reverse shot. Briefly he speaks his arcane words to-Firth but away-from-Firth -- as if there's one further degree of esoteric thought he knows exists only between him and the teacup.

(Caine) "Is there?"
(Fallada) "What?"

"Life after death?"

"Do you really want to know?"

With a discernible pause and a gentle smirk, he replies:
"... No."
With another discernible pause, and an expressionless, vaguely snooty shrug of subtle disappointment, the other man replies:
"... But to answer your question, yes, I believe there is."

COMING SOON (but likely not too soon):
A full review of Lifeforce, a good picture that I think people underestimate the degree to which it does not make any sense, its biggest flaw.