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Evolution of the undead - zombie movies

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 16, 2009 01:42pm | Post a Comment
ZombiesAhead
As vampires are increasingly depicted as little more than be-fanged, neutered teenage emos; the popularity of zombies has risen to the point, according to some sources, that surpasses that of the traditional king of the undead. Zombies are certainly more popular than most of their undead peers, including re-animated skeletonsghosts, mummies or the Crow.

General Mills' Cereal Monsters Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute
Although zombies rule right now, their reign may prove short. After all, no individual zombie has risen to the level of familiarity of a Dracula, Frankenstein's monster or Mac Tonight. What zombies possess in ability to strike fear into the hearts of living, they lack in the personality department. Their mythology is simple, borrowing from ghouls, vampires and mummies whilst adding few touches of their own. That may be why zombies still don’t have their own musical subculture like vampires do with Goth -- just a handful of musically dissimilar bands like The Zombies, White Zombie, and Fela Kuti and The Cranberries' songs, "Zombie.” Zombies can't be said to have truly arrived in the pantheon of monsters until one appears on General Mills' line of monster-themed cereal.
REAL ZOMBIES
In real life, zombies are entranced or betwitched servants or thralls of a Vodou/Voodoo/Vodun bokor... or, sorcerer. They can be living or dead. In movies, however, zombies have gradually taken on a variety of aspects borrowed from other undead, mainly the aforementioned vampires and ghouls.
A NOTE ABOUT GHOULS
Ghouls were originally from Arabia and are an evil sort of desert-dwelling, shapeshifting Djinn that eat children and the dead, afterward taking on the meal’s appearance, thus proving the truth behind the old adage, “You are what you eat.” In films, there had been relatively few attempts to depict ghouls. The British film The Ghoul (1933) concerned an undead Egyptologist’s (played by Boris Karloff) attempt to attain immortality and to kill his former servant. It had more in common with the previous year's Boris Karloff vehicle, The Mummy. Other ghoul movies, like The Mad Ghoul (1943), Nobody’s Ghoul (1962), Boy Meets Ghoul (1965), The Ghoul (1975), Ghoul School (1990), Ghoul Panic (2000) and The Ghouls (2003) are unlikely to ring many bells.

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Wilshire Park, Los Angeles's "Not Koreatown"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 8, 2009 08:32pm | Post a Comment
WilshireParkSign

This installment of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Blog concerns Wilshire Park. Vote here to vote in the Neighborhoods of Los Angeles Blog Poll (NLABP) and/or here for the Los Angeles County Community Blog Poll (LACCBP). To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Map of Midtown  Map of Wilshire Park
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Maps of Midtown and Wilshire Park

Wilshire Park is a small, Midtown  neighborhood whose borders are Olympic Blvd on the south, Crenshaw Blvd on the west, Wilshire Blvd on the north and Wilton Place on the east. Its desirable, central location and quaint charm has lead to various parties attempting to claim it for their benefit. Some residential realtors have extended the traditional use of the term “Westside” to the neighborhood, hoping to attach that area’s mostly white and affluent connotations to the neighborhood. Commercial interests have occasionally led to it being described as part of neighboring Koreatown, presumably with an eye on extending the bustling commercial center into the quiet neighborhood.
Wilshire Blvd - Wilshire Park 
Wilshire Blvd suddenly gets quiet in Wilshire Park
Wilshire Park is almost completely residential. When entering the neighborhood from Koreatown to the east, one notices an almost complete halt in the Hangul signs, BBQ aroma and crowded shopping centers which immediately give way to several nondescript apartments and only a couple of equally nondescript businesses.
Wilshire Park Homes
An attractive row of typical Wilshire Park homes
The bulk of the neighborhood is made up of a variety of architectural styles including American Craftsman, California Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial, Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial and Victorian-Craftsman Transitional styles. The first home built in the neighborhood was in 1908 and most of the rest were built between the ‘10s and ‘30s. A number are listed as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmarks.

Hispanic Heritage Month - Documentaries covering Latino & Hispanic experiences in the United States

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 2, 2009 04:00pm | Post a Comment
For Hispanic Heritage Month, if you want to get an interesting and informed look at Latino issues, you could probably do worse than checking out a documentary... Most cover a handful of issues and often from different perspectives. Check the Latino/Spanish Special Interest section at Amoeba for availability.

War - 
There are several documentaries that focus on Latino and Hispanic issues in American wars. From Juan Ponce de León and Hernan de Soto sniffing around the modern day US in search of eternal youth and gold, through aggression between the US, Mexico and Spain, to the disproportionate reliance on Latinos to fight our modern wars, these DVDs cover a lot of territory.

American Experience: Remember the Alamo Conquistadors DVDLa Corta Vida de José Antonio Gutierrez Crucible of Empire - The Spanish American War The History Channel Presents The Alamo The Mexican-American War dvd East LA Marine

Hispanic Heritage Month - Latinos in American Cinema

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 26, 2009 01:51pm | Post a Comment

Aside from a brief fetish for Latin Lovers in the silent era, roles for Hispanics and Latinos in American silent film were few, far between and generally quite minor. In the sound era, images of Hispanics and Latinos in Hollywood began to increase in number, although Latino characters were at first usually portrayed by non-Latinos in brownface whilst real Latinos were frequently used as all-purpose ethnic types.

Ramon Novarro and Lupe Velez in The Laughing Boy  Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo
          Ramon Novarro and Lupe Velez (as Navaho) in Laughing Boy                                Leo Carrillo and Duncan Renaldo

1930s-
In the first decade of sound, there weren't many roles for Hispanics or Latinos aside from in popular, long-running series like Zorro, The Cisco Kid and The Mexican Spitfire series, the latter a vehicle for Lupe Velez. Pedro Armendáriz mostly starred in Mexican films; when cast in American ones, he invariably had to exaggerate his accent sufficiently. Throughout the '30s and the following decade, Arizona-born Chris Pin-Martin appeared in almost eighty films, invariably as a heavily-accented, broken English-speaking Mexican in small roles and as sidekicks, like Pancho in the Cisco Kid movies and as Gordito in the Zorro series. The Zorro franchise, begun in the 20s, continued to be popular throughout the era. The Cisco Kid series dated back to the teens. In them, unlike with Zorro, Hispanic actors like Leo Carrillo, Duncan Ronaldo and Cesar Romero were usually cast in the lead. Hispanic actress Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Cansino) was initially billed as Rita Cansino in a series of unrelated B-movies. In them, she usually played a variation on the fiery Mexican maiden in need of an honorable Anglo's protection and love.

Silencio! - The Hispanic & Latino experience in the silent era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 19, 2009 02:26pm | Post a Comment
Like other minorities in Hollywood (e.g. Asians, blacks, gays, Natives and women, to name a few), Hispanics and Latinos in the silent film era were almost exclusively produced by people who had little or no first hand experience of their subjects. But whilst Latinos may've been almost entirely excluded from the filmmaking process, a handful of actors found work in front of the camera and in the process opened doors for the generations that followed.

In film's first decade, a few Latinos in fact were involved in American filmmaking. Before the Hollywood era, the filmmaking process wasn't centralized and films were shot around the country by wealthy entrepreneurs, a few of which were Hispanic. However, most American films in the 1890s were under ten minutes long and tended to focus on single actions like sneezing, laughing or opening a door.

Though film roles in the 1890s tended to avoid any minority issues, there were a few minorities in film. In 1903, the first version of Uncle Tom's Cabin hit the screen and went on to be the most frequently adapted story in the silent era, suggesting that there was at least concern about black issues, if not other minorities. In the teens, with films like A Woman Scorned, The Squaw Man, Intolerance and The Italian, depictions of minorities broadened considerably.


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