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March 15, 2018

Two Paths

unearthed & untold.jpg

Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Semetary
John Campopiano and Justin White - 2015

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Path of Blood
Eric Power - 2016
both Synapse Films BD Regions ABC

This week has also seen the blu-ray release of a couple of films, both labors of love. Although I think the appeal of these works is limited to a niche audience, the effort of the filmmakers needs to be acknowledged.

I never saw Pet Cemetery at the time of its release in 1989. I've read a couple books, and love Brian De Palma's version of Carrie, but that's about it. I did my homework and saw Mary Lambert's film, including a second time with her commentary on the DVD. My take: a couple good moments and the greatness of Fred Gwynne. While the audience for this documentary is primarily going to be those who love Stephen King and Mary Lambert's film, for others, like myself, it's still worth checking out.

Probably the most interesting aspect was finding out the autobiographical aspects of King's story. I would question the man's choice of living in a house that faces a busy road, especially when you have small children and pets. And yes, there really is a pet cemetery in Maine called Pet's Semetary. Also, a reminder to paraphrase screenwriter William Goldman's "nobody knows anything", is a recounting of how the film almost never got made, because some studio suits had decided that Stephen King's time had come and gone, with the film only produced because of a looming screen writers strike and King's screenplay ready to film on a modest budget. Not only was the film produced in Maine, but the bulk of the supporting cast was of local actors. And what is seen here, and often taken for granted by viewers, is the sheer physical effort of making a film. And while we're at it, kudos to Stephen King for approving Mary Lambert for directing the film at a time when there were fewer active female directors.

Eric Power's Path of Blood is essentially handmade animation with paper cutout characters and background. This tribute to early 1970s samurai films was written in English, and translated to Japanese with dubbing in Japanese. The story is about a masterless samurai, also known as a ronin, who is followed by a young man who wants to learn the ways of the sword. Sword fight after sword fight is amusing at first, but the repetition gets wearying. The "making of" featurette is worth seeing as Power explains how he made his film, and some of the techniques he used, or invented for himself. Power talks about creating a story board rather than trying to keep the narrative in his head, which is definitely a plus, but any future film should also benefit from a stronger story with more character development.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at March 15, 2018 10:01 AM