Five Low-Budget Horror and Sci-fi Gems Deep from the Bloody Heart of Texas

Categories: Film and TV

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Bloodsuckers from Outer Space: In Texas, family and friendliness are values shared by everyone, even the undead.

Texas has spawned dozens of low-budget horror and sci-fi films since the 1960s. Unfortunately most of them suck, although not in the ways most normal, well adjusted filmgoers would think. B-movie fans are some of the most forgiving audiences in the world and will gladly let glaring deficiencies in budget and plot slide provided the film delivers the entertainment goods, intentionally or otherwise. For the true trash connoisseur the only unpardonable sin is to be boring, and many of these regional nightmares have rightfully been condemned to languish in the hell of obscurity. It's a just sentence for tricking a generation of kids into renting them with their lurid box art and empty promises of entertainment. For every Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Robocop on the shelves of the local video store there were a half dozen horror movies that make Andy Warhol's cinematic oeuvre look positively frenetic in comparison.

Often released only on VHS, many of these films stand on the brink of oblivion thanks to the digital slow death of the mom-and-pop video store. In many instances this is no great loss to the world of cinema. Despite this high garbage-to-gold ratio the occasional forgotten gem still turns up in thrift stores and garage sales waiting to be picked like a psychedelic mushroom in a pile of longhorn manure.

In honor of the 2014 Texas Frightmare Weekend May 2-4 at the Hyatt Regency DFW (2334 North International Parkway) we bring you the best of homegrown horror and sci-fi from the '80s and '90s, the golden age of the VCR so often neglected by regional film historians. Although our standards and judgement may have been severely warped by prolonged exposure to Texas crude, the following films have been deemed worthy of rescue from the eternal cut-out bin, of interest to the discerning cinematic bottom-feeder or anyone curious to see what Dallas or Houston looked like before suburban sprawl fully set in.


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Klyde Warren Park Announces Classic Film Series to Start May 3

Categories: Film and TV

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The Big Sleep

You know what sounds nice? Lounging on a picnic blanket, with a couple of sandwiches from Jimmy's Food Store and a glass of wine, while watching good guy Humphrey Bogart suck face with Lauren Bacall. Apparently that's not just me, either, because the good people at Klyde Warren Park just announced its first annual (we hope!) film series and the line-up is pretty stellar. High-five, park people! (Full disclosure, I used to run the park's Facebook. You might remember my excessive use of exclamation points...)


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Here's a Quick Guide to the USA Film Festival Opening Tonight

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Fading Gigolo

Just a few weeks after the Dallas International Film Festival packed up its reels and stuffed them into storage, the USA Film Festival has arrived, beginning today at the Angelika Film Center. Although, you may not remember it was happening there are plenty of movie screenings, talk-backs and events for you attend this week. Plus most of the film screenings are a mere $10, and some are free. The festival opens tonight with Fading Gigolo, which features an all-star cast, including Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara and John Turturro. The film will be followed with a talk hosted by Stephen Tobolowsky.

Here's the lineup for the rest of the week:

Tuesday, April 22
7 p.m. Fading Gigolo
7 p.m. Particle Fever chronicles six scientists while they launch the Large Hadron Collider. Director Mark Levinson will be in attendance.


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Allison Tolman Brings Heat to Fargo and Gets Glowing Reviews

Categories: Film and TV

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Allison Tolman in Fargo.
The critics heaping raves on Fargo, the new 10-part series on cable's FX channel, keep describing its lead actress Allison Tolman as "an unknown." But Dallas theatergoers know her well. She's that funny, bold performer who starred in plays and musicals at Second Thought Theatre (a company she co-founded with fellow Baylor grads), Kitchen Dog and other stages for the better part of the aughts.

A few profiles this week have even called Tolman a "Chicago actress." Hold on, now. She moved to Chicago five years ago to go through Second City's comedy program, but she's a Texan, dadgummit. Don't let that "you betcha" accent on Fargo fool ya.

Judging from Tuesday night's debut on FX, Tolman, who gets second billing on the show's opening credits, deserves star status. Time to go Hollywood. (She actually is moving to L.A. this spring.) She's that impressive in her first big break into television. As Fresh Air's TV critic David Bianculli said during his glowing review of Fargo on NPR Monday, Tolman "is a relative unknown ... but not for much longer."

How good is she on Fargo? So good, she stands out amid a cast of really famous actors, including Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Keith Carradine, Bob Odenkirk and Colin Hanks.

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10 Songs from Animated Films that Are Better than "Let it Go"

Categories: Film and TV, Lists

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Walt Disney Pictures

It's everywhere. The horribly catchy Oscar-winning song from the cartoon film that everyone saw except you. Until last year, Disney hadn't made a movie anyone cared about in over a decade. When Frozen came out, no one could possibly have predicted its quick rise to ubiquity. But now you can't escape the masses of preteens, toddlers and adults belting in zombie-like unison, "The cold never bothered me anyway."

It's not even a very good song, the lyrics pander and the melody is one-note. Sure, I couldn't write it, but even the songwriters admit that some of the lyrics sound like they were written by a drag queen. Let's step back in time, shall we? To the days of Elton John writing the music to The Lion King or Alan Menken's stunning compositions for Beauty and the Beast. The next time you find yourself trapped in an icy vortex of "Let it Go" on repeat, here are 10 better songs from animated films to melt away the brain freeze.

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Texas Frightmare Week Guests Include George Romero, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick

Categories: Film and TV

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It started as Texas Frightmare Weekend: Three days of horror flicks at the DFW Alamo Drafthouse alongside celebrity appearances by the likes of filmmakers, writers, make-up artists and stars. Then, it grew to an entire week of screenings, panels and opportunities to meet everyone from the original Creature from the Black Lagoon to George Romero.


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The Starck Club Debuts this Saturday at Texas Theatre

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J. Allen Hansley
Grace Jones at the Starck Club
Two years after the private, rough cut screening of what was then called The Starck Project, which played to a packed theater at the Angelika during DIFF 2012, director Michael Cain is ready to unveil his finished product. The Starck Club debuts this Saturday at Texas Theatre, and although that particular screening is sold out, people can still purchase tickets for Sunday's showing at the Angelika. Those not familiar with Dallas' iconic nightclub can read all about it in our 2012 music feature, Starck Contrast, which touches on the momentous but short life of the club and the race to preserve it's history. We've also dug deep into our archives, and found the 1986 feature story surrounding the club's opening.

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Peter Mayhew to Play Chewbacca One More Time in the New Star Wars

Categories: Film and TV

There's been a lot of speculation and serious concern about the direction of the next movie in the Star Wars saga and rightfully so. Remember all the giddy anticipation that bubbled out of our collective consciousness in the days leading up to the release of the first Star Wars prequel in 1999? The world had a collective joygasm as they waited in long lines to be among the first to experience the geek orgy that was Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace, only to leave the theater and feel as though they participated in an actual orgy. Their anticipation had got the better of them and the end result just left them covered with a sticky film of remorse, regret and what they hoped was movie popcorn butter.

However, JJ Abrams is no George Lucas and in this case, that's actually a good thing. He's a Bob Vila of fallen movie and TV franchises who seems to know how to identify its structural weaknesses and build supporting walls in places where they can no longer stand like with his work on the last two Star Trek movies (i.e. keep Shatner out of the picture). Now that he's hard at work on the next Star Wars movie, he seems to be making an earnest attempt to bring it back to its roots by not only putting Chewbacca back on the big screen but he's also bringing back Dallas legend Peter Mayhew, the towering actor who spent three long shoots in the first three Star Wars movies in what must have been an extremely hot Wookie costume.

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On Conan's Final Night in Dallas Charles Barkley Shared a Lot of Opinions

Categories: Film and TV


The week of Conan's Dallas reign has come to end. I'm so fucking sick of his creepy face. Yeah, I said it. Don't get me wrong, Conan's great. But he's taken over my life. I have people in my Facebook feed posting selfies with him or live Tweeting the whole show. The strange Cone Zone contraption has been camped out in front of my apartment all week. I get it, all you people really love Conan. You people worship his strange orange coiff. Whatever.

Anyway, Thursday was his final night in town and he got his first boos last night when he refused to refer to our fair city as "Dallas Fort Worth," calling it by the same name this publication chose: Dallas. He received a few more boos when he reminded his live audience that Thursday was in fact his final night in the city. But rather than talk more about Conan and all the stereotypes he used for jokes during his week here, let's talk about Charles Barkley instead.


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A Drinking Game of Thrones, In Honor of Sunday's Televisual Dragon Party

Categories: Film and TV

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"Yes, yes, I know: Winter is coming."
Everyone's favorite ultra-budget dragon tease mega-series returns for its fourth season on Sunday night. We've constructed a drinking game in its honor. I would opt for a light mead. Not wildfire.

Will Daenerys actually make it across the sea? WILL JOFFREY EVER DIE? How amazing is Brienne of Tarth? Will Davos ever learn to read? Will Jon Snow ever get back to Castle Black? Where is Bran going? Will someone wipe that smug look off Walder Frey's ancient head? Is Tyrion and Sansa the most ill-matched wedding of all time?

Alright, I'm out of questions. Here's a drinking game that will probably leave you like Sean Bean in any movie or TV show he participates in - dead. Pick and choose your favorite rules to construct your own, or just go at it like Tyrion at a banquet.

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