Archive for March, 2014

Remember Teel James Glenn, neo-pulp author and stunt coordinator? If not, read his interview here. He’s awesome.

After the meeting where he spoke, we had a really good discussion at lunch about movie fight scenes. I was pretty psyched to find out that a professional stunt coordinator shared a lot of my opinions about them.

First of all, we both really dislike the way fight scenes are directed in most modern movies. They tend to be filled with rapid cuts — frequently cutting away from the combatants to their surroundings — so you can’t even tell what the hell is going on.

I’d always assumed the reason for that is because directors are trying to conceal the fact that the actors aren’t really fighting, and stunt doubles are doing all the work. But Teel said it’s more because most modern directors don’t understand the psychology of fighting. They do those jump cuts because that’s the way they film conversations. One guy “speaks” with his fist, the other answers, etc. Teel said directors have also told him that they make the cameras jump around to simulate the “disorientation” and “confusion” of being in a fight.

I’ve done some martial arts training that involved full-contact sparring, as has Teel. And we agreed that when you’re really engaged in a fight, you’re not the least bit distracted. If a guy standing directly in front of you is intent on hitting you, there’s very little else of interest to you at that moment. Yeah, you should be aware of your surroundings, but you’re certainly not swinging your gaze around randomly at other objects in the room.

It turns out Teel is also a big fan of my all-time-favorite movie fight scene, which is James Bond vs. Grant in “From Russia With Love” (1963).

Here’s a clip.

I didn’t know this until Teel made me aware of it, but the guy who staged that fight scene was a former paratrooper named Bob Simmons. That makes sense.

One of the things I like about this scene is that the two opponents aren’t simply trading punches on the jaw, which happens in a lot of movies from the 1960s. Nor are they wasting time with a bunch of balletic high kicks, which you’d see in action movies from later eras.

Nope. They’re fighting like a couple of guys who are intent on killing each other, and don’t give a royal fuck how graceful or gallant they look in the process.

Like the parts where Bond takes Grant’s jacket off his shoulders to trap his arms, then knees him in the sternum? And stomps on his spine? And slams the door in his face? That’s some dirty shit! And that headlock Bond gets Grant in at about the 2:40 mark is banned in Judo and jiu jitsu competitions, because it’s what you’d do if you wanted to break a guy’s neck.

Sure, there are plenty of cuts in the scene. But they serve to convey what’s going on in the fight, not obscure it. Another thing I like about it? No background music. Two guys are trying to kill each other with their bare hands, for cryin’ out loud! If you can’t make that exciting without putting a bunch of techno crap in the background, it’s time to go back to film school.

So THAT’S how you do a fight scene. Modern directors, watch and learn.

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Thanks to my friend Doug for making me aware of this list of two-sentence horror stories. He challenged me to write my own. It’s nowhere near as good as any from the list, but here’s what I came up with:

I smacked him with a rolled-up newspaper and yelled at him when I woke to find that he’d once again slipped his chain and left the torn-up remains of a neighborhood cat on the lawn. “If you don’t like it,” he said, “get a dog.”

 

Looking for a good St. Patrick’s Day gift for that special someone? No, you’re probably not. OK, that was an awkward lead-in. Anyway, I’m pretty psyched. An anthology featuring one of my short stories is out. The anthology is titled Speculations from New Jersey and it features one of my stories called “The CyberKnights.” It’s the first science fiction story I’ve ever written, which is kind of weird because I’ve been a science fiction geek ever since I was a kid. Even then, it’s more a parody of William Gibson-style cyberpunk than a straight-up science fiction story. And for the record, I’m a big fan of cyberpunk in general, and William Gibson in particular. I kid because I love. The anthology was put out by the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, and a lot of really talented writers are affiliated with that group. In fact, I’m currently reading another anthology put out by that group in 2008, when they were called the Garden State Horror Writers. That anthology is called Dark Territories, and I’m blown away by how good it is.

In my recent post on the movie “Night of the Templar,” I mentioned Creature Double Feature on Channel 48 out of Philadelphia. I since found the original intro and outro from it on Youtube. This made my week. Took me back to those Saturday afternoons in the 1970s camped in front of the TV, watching the cavalcade of old black-and-white movies, or the more recent (and frequently more gory) drive-in and grindhouse fare. Sometimes they’d show one of the classic Universal monster movies. More often, they’d be grade-B films. And there was certainly nothing wrong with that. Although I still remember tuning into what I thought would be “Bride of Frankenstein,” and instead watching Ed Woods’ “Bride of the Monster.” I was a bit too young for irony, so I didn’t yet appreciate Ed Wood’s work on the level I would in later decades. That may have been the first time in my life I uttered the words: “What the FUCK?”

Anyway, check out the Youtube clip. It’s decidedly low-budget and campy, but eerily effective all the same. Much like most of the movies Creature Double Feature showcased.

 

When I was a kid in the 1970s, I used to love watching the Saturday morning horror movies on the UHF stations out of Philadelphia. “Creature Double Feature” on Channel 48 was my favorite.

They were the types of movies made outside the Hollywood studio system, by scrappy film-makers of the Roger Corman variety. What I really liked about them was the fact that they didn’t speak the vocabulary of the standard Hollywood film. These were filmmakers who made up their own rules. Start in on one of these movies, and you never quite knew where you were going to end up.

So the maker of this movie, “Night of the Templar,” contacted me and asked if I’d mention it on my blog. I watched the trailer on Youtube, and … sold! No, I haven’t seen it yet, but I plan to. That trailer’s got the delightfully off-the-wall vibe that used to keep me planted in front of the TV set on many a Saturday afternoon. And hey, it’s got David Carradine. Have I mentioned “sold?”

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the info:

“Here tells a Tale of Passion, Loyalty, Deceit, Betrayal … and Revenge!”
 
After allowing them ten lifetimes of excess, the beloved, fallen medieval Templar Knight, Lord Morris McGuirk Gregoire of Reading, returns to modern day to exact a blood thirst vengeance on those who betrayed him long ago.
Night of the Templar, *independently* written, produced and directed by Paul Sampson, is a unique and savory blend of murder, mystery, horror, drama, dark humor, intrigue, action and suspense all woven together in a tale that will keep you both engaged and guessing until the very end. No other indie film of its kind exists. And with the right mix of eye candy for both men and women, Night of the Templar is the perfect “date night” flick.
 
A star-packed cast including Paul Sampson, Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame, Udo Kier, Billy Drago, and the final performance of legendary great David Carradine, this movie can’t help but be destined for ‘Cult Classic’ status! 
 
Watch The First 2 Minutes –http://www.walmart.com/vudu/watch2min.do?vid=399609&itemId=22826249Watch The Movie Trailer At The Official NIGHT OF THE TEMPLAR Website – http://www.nightofthetemplar.com/
 
Social Media:
 
www.paulsampsonfilms.wix.com/paulsampsonfilms (still partly under construction)