Each week that the intrepid editor of the feature isn’t overwhelmed with work, the Lewton Bus gang will get together and write up a brief account of something we’re digging hard on this week. It can be a movie, TV, music, or anything, really! Tell us what you’re digging in the comments.
Tanner Volz – The Gate
I’ve been deep into 1987’s classic kid’s horror romp The Gate. I’ve been studying the various documentary shorts included on Vestron’s neat recent release. 30 years later you can really clearly see the film’s influence. ‘Group of nerdy kids who hang out in a basement after school in the 80s figure out what to do about a supernatural gateway to another dimension while a fun synth soundtrack plinks along behind them’. Sound like anything we all know and love? Stranger Things is just the latest to carry the torch for The Gate. This movie has EVERYTHING – dudes in suits, crazy forced perspective and matte effects, giant monster puppets, an unfaced zombie guy, journeys to hell, you name it!
Bee McGee – Cool Games Inc.
I am not a video game person. Like, at all. But this game design podcast from Polygon’s Nick Robinson and Griffin McElroy of CAR BOYS fame has been kicking my ass for the last month or so. The games dreamed up in this podcast are some of the funniest things I have ever heard, and the tangents these good goof boys go on are even better. Definitely check it out.
Adam Bumas – Grim Fandango
Aided by a walkthrough and a dusty old dictionary of conversational Spanish, I’ve spent the last week and a half making my way through Grim Fandango.
It’s easy to see why the adventure game by perennial auteur Tim Schaefer has become a classic: The game is set in an after life inspired by Mayan and Aztec traditions, but the story is a classical noir plot of intrigue, corruption, and cynicism, influenced by everything from Terry Gilliam to Carlos Castaneda.
A period-tinged world where everyone has lived and died is well suited to a story of regret and redemption, and both in turn work perfectly as a venue for Schaefer’s absurdist and emotional take on adventure-game standards like fetch quests and vehicles and puzzle.
Be warned, though, if you want to play it: those standard adventure game trappings include the unforgiving, opaque, and completely baffling train of logic that threads through the entire game. Even when I figured out I was supposed to put dishwater from a kitchen sink into a turkey baster from a different kitchen and squirt it into a man’s drink to steal his wallet, I needed that aforementioned walkthrough to figure out I had to distract the man by first wedging his fridge door open.
Even when my character’s already dead, life’s too short.
R Carson Chastity Patricia S-S – Killer of Sheep
This week I’ve been revisiting one of the best movies of all time, and the movie that proved that independent cinema could produce truly great works. The film in question is Charles Burnett’s legendary debut film, Killer of Sheep. A neorealist masterpiece set in Black communities rarely shown in movies, the film finds profundity in small gestures and gentle moments, using the central struggle of the main character to cope with his job in a slaughterhouse as a metaphor for the everyday trauma that comes with suffering racism in American culture.
A huge influence on Black cinema for decades despite having been near totally inaccessible for years until 2007, its most recent descendant is 2016’s masterwork Moonlight. Barry Jenkins cites Killer of Sheep as an influence, and it shows. If your film knowledge has skipped over this giant of film history in favor of more accessible indie film legends, like the very white trio of Slacker, Clerks, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, then I highly suggest you seek this out.
Allen Strickland – The Fast and the Furious Franchise
I’ve got a confession to make.
Prior to the last two weeks, I had never watched a Fast and the Furious movie. I’d just never gotten around to it and really hadn’t seen the appeal. Still, on the encouragement of my fellow Lewton Bus writers, I went ahead and bought the box set and watched them all and now I am hooked.
The aesthetics, iconography, and just general escalation of the franchise are a sight to behold. And if you count yourself a fan of the franchise, stay tuned, because we’ve got something special for you coming up over the next week.
Andrew Clark – Judge Dredd
Before diving into a deep discussion on 2012’s great Dredd film, I decided to finally pick up the comic that the film originated from. Judge Dredd has been a big open spot in my comics knowledge for a long time, as I’m often intimidated by massive histories of books, and, being a completionist, I always feel compelled to read things in order. Lucky for me, the Judge Dredd Complete Case File collections have become commonplace. Each volume collections over fifty stories from Dredd’s weekly comic days at 2000AD. I’ve just started into the second volume which begins Dredd’s first epic story, The Cursed Earth.
It’s a fantastic, high concept sci-fi series set in a dystopian future world where all of mankind lives in various Megacities around the globe. Law is enforced by members of an elite law-enforcement agency, the Judges, and we follow the best of them, Judge Dredd. With economic and whip-smart writing from John Wagner (among others) and art from the likes of Brian Bolland (among others!), the books are teaming with imagination, black humor and satire, and fantastic displays of violence. Take the plunge into Judge Dredd, friends. You’ll be a law-abiding citizen in no-time.
Well, that’s all the things we’re digging this week, gang. Let us know what you dug this week in the comments below!