Archive for Bill Rebane

This is definitely Lower Wacker Drive

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Politics, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2021 by dcairns

Hadn’t watched THE BLUES BROTHERS since the early nineties, when I watched it way too much. Fiona hadn’t seen it. One benefit of the excess viewing is that the deleted scenes that have been added into the DVD really popped out. The movie is in my DNA, for better or worse. Also, you can really see why they were deleted.

From all those viewings — Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema used to show this film regularly, and there was one memorable screening at The Playhouse too — I had noticed how cutty it is. I’m not sure if there’s a single shot longer than five seconds in it. In the extras, John Landis attributes this to using amateur dancers in some numbers — which I think works and is very sweet in the Ray Charles sequence — and having artists like Aretha Franklin who never sing the same way twice and therefore struggle to lip-sync. To those reasons we can perhaps add the fact that the Blues Brothers Band are musicians, not actors, plus the fact that the vehicular mayhem stuff was covered with lots of cameras, naturally, and yielded an embarrassment of riches.

The hero of the hour (or two) is George Folsey Jr., editor (son of cinematographer George J. Folsey of FORBIDDEN PLANET and THE BAND WAGON), though I note that Landis isn’t just shooting a ton of coverage, he knows at least most of the time what each angle is FOR.

There’s a particularly nice touch when the Bluesmobile, having transported our heroes 106 miles to Chicago under uniquely trying circumstances, collapses in a heap of scrap at the doors of the Cook County Assessor’s Office, and Folsey cuts to reaction shots from Jake and Elwood and also from the statues adorning the building. So we go from Laurel & Hardy clown car schtick to Eisenstein.

Praise to the editor, but Landis SHOT that statues for that specific purpose. THE BLUES BROTHERS is a film of huge excess — this yields benefits not only in the overwhelming spectacle but in little details like that — imagine a director shooting a statue reaction shot in a huge public location with hundreds of extras and cops and military standing around…

Oh, and the main thing that stood out this time is the reference to Chicago’s Lower Wacker Drive, since that street became painfully familiar to me making WHO IS BILL REBANE? MONSTER A GO-GO “climaxes” in this location. Given that Mayor Daley basically banned filming in his city after an episode of M Squad showed a Chicago cop taking a bribe, we can probably assume that Landis was the first filmmaker on Lower Wacker Drive since Bill Rebane (who also got remarkable cooperation in terms of police, fire engines etc…)

WHO IS BILL REBANE? is now listed on the IMDb.

Unboxing Video

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on May 29, 2021 by dcairns

My copy of WEIRD WISCONSIN, the Bill Rebane box set from Arrow, arrived this morning. I thought I’d honour the occasion with my first UNBOXING VIDEO, and then I thought I’d make it in a Rebanesque style.

It’s quite short.

My documentary, WHO IS BILL REBANE?, is quite long. I didn’t have time to make it shorter. But I now know that making a feature film in a couple of months is no big deal, so long as you don’t have a Tonkinese cat screaming in your face the whole time. I’d like to do it some more.

It would be delightful if the IMDb chose today to recognise the film’s existence, but no, that’ll be another blog post for another day.

Reviews (for the doc) have been good so far. My hope is that it might actually change some viewers’ minds about the whole set — they might be thinking they don’t like Bill Rebane films after watching them all, then watch the doc and decide they do. In a way. Or they might think they like them and then decide they like them a lot. I don’t want to make anybody NOT like them, though I suppose that would be a kind of achievement too.

Weird Wisconsin

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on March 6, 2021 by dcairns

So, this is what I’ve been busy on since December and up until a few weeks ago: making a feature-length doc about Bill Rebane, the Wisconsin-based cult filmmaker behInd MONSTER A GO-GO, INVASION FROM INNER EARTH and THE ALPHA INCIDENT, for the first ever box set of his films, including the above-named titles and also DEMONS OF LUDLOW, THE GAME and TWISTER’S REVENGE! It was a wild and crazy journey, and I met so many nice people, all without actually leaving the house. Cast, crew, critics, academics, writers and the great Mark Borchardt (COVEN and the forthcoming COVEN II and THE MORE THE SCARIER IV).

Viewers will learn about eight-foot-tall giant Henry Hite’s special car, Tiny Tim’s unusual diet, Rebane’s surprise cameo in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, Ulli Lommel’s bad pig idea and much, much more. I myself went from wondering who’d want to watch this stuff to becoming obsessed and fascinated by it. Do de-programmers exist for cult cinema acolytes?

The doc, which is longer than any of Bill’s films, should serve to at least partially explain the movies, how they came to be, and what made them the way they are. A Rebane Rosetta Stone, as it were.

Too many people to thank all at once — I’ll settle for thanking Fiona for her patient support, and producer Neil Snowdon for saying yes to everything I asked for.