Saturday, June 14, 2014

El Rey Network - Ride With Us

As you may know, I have a decent movie collection that I'm pretty proud of.  From horror (Scream Factory), to Kung Fu (Dragon Dynasty), to even some art house (Criterion Collection), I collect Blu-Rays and DVD's so I can watch the films I like to watch whenever I want.  Unfortunately, when I watch plain old television, I endlessly flip through hundreds of channels before I find something that I can tolerate to watch...  that was until now!

Robert Rodriguez has created a Television Network that suits my needs.  Mixing TV shows with cult followings and exploitation films, El Rey is a cable network programmed for people who like real entertainment.  As much as I love original series from FX and AMC, El Rey has tapped into something really special.  I no longer need to get up from my seat and pop in a Blu-Ray disc.  Instead, El Rey is showing the same movies I've spent years trying to find.

Talking to people I know, there's few who know about this channel because it's relatively new.  Since I don't really have advertising on this blog (although Tarantino Comics would be a terrific venue for El Rey), I'm going to present 5 things I really love about this network:

5)  Flying Five Finger One Armed Eight Pole Shaolin Exploding Death Touch Thursdays
- I believe back in the day, TV channels had "Kung Fu Hours" as a part of their regular programming.  However, as time went on, pictures from The Shaw Brothers were no longer syndicated and they were hard to come across.  Luckily El Rey is providing us awesome movies such as The Flying Guillotine, Return of the One-Armed Swordsman, and Dirty Ho.  Although the dubbed dialogue can be corny (yet I love the aethstetic), the choreography and stories are highly entertaining.  You have to remember, these movies inspired Kill Bill!  So if you've never watched Kung Fu, remember Jennifer Aniston's excitement for these films in Office Space and take advantage of Thursday nights.

4)  Grindhouse Fridays Rodriguez has really embraced Grindhouse films ever since Planet Terror.  To share his passion, Rodriguez established Grindhouse Theatre to showcase awesome exploitation films.  One of the first movies shown on El Rey was Switchblade Sisters (a film from Tarantino's Rolling Thunder line).  From that moment on, I knew this channel meant business.  So if you like movies that exploit sex, action, kung fu, horror, and bizarre subject matter, El Rey is the place to be on Friday Nights. 

3)  Badass TV - When awesome movies aren't being played, El Rey is showing some awesome old TV shows.  Syndicated sitcoms like Friends or Seinfeld aren't shown on El Rey... instead we get shows with strong cult followings.  Representing the era of 70's exploitation, we get Starsky and Hutch.  To ensure we believe in the paranormal and question the unknown, we get to follow Mulder and Scully in the X-Files.  And to satisfy my long-time crush on Jessica Alba (sorry Angie), I get to watch her beat-up bad guys on Dark Angel.

2)  Original Programming - As much as I love movies, Television has a greater advantage of taking its time with a story.  Knowing Tarantino has created some interesting characters, Rodriguez flushed out the From Dusk Till Dawn universe by giving it an original series.  Although I'm ashamed to admit this, I was somewhat skeptical of this show.  But after watching the pilot, I was hooked.  I love the locations, the cinematography, and even the "cool" dialogue.  Mixing veterans like Don Johnson and Robert Patrick with new comers D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz (who play the infamous Gecko Brothers), we get a really awesome cast.  And as hard as it is to top Salma Hayek as Santanico, Eiza Gonzalez is a great match for someone who can mesmerize a crowd.   Having recently finished the first season, I can't wait to see what's  in store for us next season.  Thankfully, El Rey is in full pursuit with more original programming and coming out with Matador in July.

1)  The Director's Chair - One of the reasons I still buy Blu-Ray movies is for the special features.  Cable TV can't provide those audio commentaries and behind-the-scene featurettes I love so much.  Luckily, El Rey is there for the movie buffs and has recorded hour long interviews between Robert Rodriguez and well-known movie directors called The Director's Chair.  The first show featured John Carpenter - A true visionary and inspiration to anyone who loves film.  They discussed how he got into the business, shared stories about his movies, and answered questions from fellow directors to give insight about his unique film making process.  Other interviewees I'd love to see in The Director's Chair are Brian DePalma, William Friedkin, Stuart Gordon, and of course... Quentin TarantinoThe Director's Chair is my favorite program happening on El Rey.

Although we haven't seen any news recently, I'm highly anticipating Lucha Libre.  I've never seen a match in my life, but I believe the colors and theatrics will resonate with my tastes.

As I hope you can see, I'm truly a fan of the El Rey Network.  I'm a huge supporter of what it's trying to do and may even get myself some swag.  If my enthusiasm isn't enough to excite you, at least watch Rodriguez's own excitement hereAnd for goodness sake, if you watch the promos, even Godzilla Rides With El Rey!

Friday, June 6, 2014

My Lovecraftian Journey - The Beast in the Cave

I'm not a huge reader of books, but I was enthralled by this beautiful (and affordable) hardback of H.P. Lovecraft - The Complete Fiction at Barnes and Noble:

What I find most interesting about Lovecraft is his influence on so many writers and directors of the horror genre.  Lovecraft was influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn, inspired Stephen King.  This lineage of literary greats reminds me of the cinematic legacy spanning from Hitchcock, to DePalma, to Tarantino.  So that I can become a little more "cultured," I plan to give a summary of each Lovecraft tale I read.  Hopefully I can talk about any influences that have transpired, whether its in television, music, or film. 

To start things off, the first tale I read was "The Beast in the Cave (1905)."  The story begins with a man getting lost in the Mammoth Cave.  As our narrator searches for the rest of his tour group, his torch slowly dims away.  Having visited this National Park myself when I was a little kid, I can just image how terrifying it would be getting lost in a world of pure darkness.  Once all of his visibility disappeared, he hears footsteps of a "beast" following close behind.  Feeling for weapons around him, he flings two stones at the beast which is stalking him.  Successfully landing a blind throw at the monster, our narrator runs away and luckily meets up with his tour group.  Explaining his situation to the tour guide, the group decides to search for the monster that's lurking in the caves.  As they retrace the narrator's trail, they see a pale and hairy figure lying on the ground.  As they take a closer look at the body, they discover it was really a man!
Even at the beginning of the 20th century, Lovecraft alluded to creatures adapting to strange environments.  Just as naked mole rats have evolved to live in their pitch black surroundings, Lovecraft imagined human civilizations surviving in blind conditions.  When I associate this tale to film, The Descent comes to mind.  Although I'm certain better films have displayed this theme, The Descent is a modern horror classic that depicts an unknown (yet horrific) civilization living in the vast darkness.