Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Joseph A. Ziemba ""

Monday, February 8, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Joseph A. Ziemba

Joseph A. Ziemba is an art director and film programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX. He is also the creator of, the co-creator of BLEEDING SKULL! VIDEO (, and the co-author and designer of BLEEDING SKULL! A 1980s TRASH-HORROR ODYSSEY (Headpress, 2013). Joe has also made music as a member of the bands Wolfie, The Like Young, Beaujolais, and Taken By Savages.

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BAD MAGIC (1997)
There are regular movies. And then there is BAD MAGIC. Produced by underground superheroes Mark and John Polonia (SPLATTER FARM, FEEDERS), this D.I.Y. dream-blast breaks new ground in side-stepping reality. Amos is shot in cold blood by a gang called The Red Claws, who look like team members of the paint department at Home Depot. Amos’s brother, Renny, summons a demon named Blahkeeblahkay to enact his gore-soaked revenge. Death by voodoo doll! Death by the undead! And in a cinematic first, death by toilet paper!! With its unexpected tone shifts, collage-like structure, and Amiga computer special effects, BAD MAGIC is a special kind of cinematic discovery that only occurs once or twice every five-thousand years. It’s also the only movie in history with a credit that reads, “Voodoo Consultant by Dr. Ishmeial Atuki.”

Bill and Coo are in love. They lead simple -- but full -- lives. When the emergence of a psychotic serial killer named The Black Menace threatens the couple's love, town, and very existence, they take the law into their own hands. One part Preston Sturges, one part Charlie Chaplin, and two parts Alfred Hitchcock, BILL AND COO is a minimalist screwball comedy-thriller that does everything right. That's probably why it won an honorary Academy Award for its "novel and entertaining use of the medium of motion pictures." By the way, this movie stars birds instead of humans. And the last scene made me tear up.

EFFECTS (1980)
You've seen a lot of horror movies. But you've never seen anything like EFFECTS. Cobbled together with loose change by George Romero’s friends, this is a mesmerizing D.I.Y. frightmare that no one talks about, but everyone should. A group of coked-up filmmakers -- including Tom Savini and Joe "DAY OF THE DEAD" Pilato -- gather in Pittsburgh to make a slasher called DUPED: THE SNUFF MOVIE. As filming begins and “accidents” happen, it’s clear that something isn’t right. And no one can be trusted. Landing somewhere between Michael and Roberta Findlay’s SNUFF and a student film by John Carpenter, EFFECTS is a meta-enhanced takedown on the philosophy of horror that doubles as a sleazy and terrifying movie on its own.

Where do we go from here?

This movie is the reason why Lionel Rogosin made ON THE BOWERY. It’s every bit as compelling, heart-wrenching, and beautiful as BOWERY, but on a smaller scale. The camera follows Donald, a down-his-luck and emotionally unstable kid from Harlem who finds a semi-home at the Wiltwyck School for Boys at Esopus, New York. And that’s all there is to it. But the minimalist approach is necessary to make room for the emotional heft that comes with it. I never thought another cinéma vérité movie would affect me as much as SEVENTEEN, WANDA, and DEMON LOVER DIARY -- but this one did it.

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