October 31, 2011

HALLOWEEN 2002 - a trip to Haddonfield, California

I keep falling for it. The caption near the start of John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) says 'Haddonfield, Illinois' and I believed it. In the cinema, on TV, multiple viewings and I kept falling for it. Yes, it looks like it was shot in a small town in middle America. Then Carpenter himself pointed out in a TV documentary the palm trees visible at the end of the road, in one scene where Jamie Lee Curtis is walking around. It was all filmed around Los Angeles! So, always assume Hollywood movies and TV series are either filmed at the studios or very close by. Until proven otherwise.

On a holiday in LA in 2002, I then couldn't believe how very close to 'Hollywood' the two main locations were. Directly off Sunset Boulevard! While the daylight scenes were shot around South Pasadena, giving it a convincing smalltown vibe, the nighttime scenes of the houses where the teenagers are babysitting are in West Hollywood.

Here's me in front of the house where Jamie Lee Curtis' character Laurie Strode was babysitting and where the final showdown takes place. Below is the house opposite where she first meets The Shape. These houses actually stand diagonally opposite each other, as they appear to be placed in the film.

Disappointingly, this house, where Annie (Nancy Loomis) was babysitting, has since changed its iconic appearance. The chilling scene where The Shape stands beside the corner of the porch can no longer be recreated - the house has been extended on that (the left) side. Michael Myers can no longer carry a body around that corner and into the front door! We were too late in to see it unchanged as I believe the house had been renovated only months before.

These are of course both private residences, one had a sign up about a security firm protecting the grounds, so we didn't stay very long. It looks like an unremarkable suburban street - amazing how lighting and cinematography can make it all look so large, spread out, and scary. Also, how they managed to shoot around the huge trees outside both properties.

A guide to filming locations in the Halloween series can be found here.

Happy Halloween!

October 27, 2011

GORGO (1961) - happy 50th birthday!

(1961, UK)

Every country should have its own Godzilla...

UPDATE: March 2013 - GORGO has been released on blu-ray

Released in the UK fifty years ago today, Gorgo remains Britain's closest thing to a kaiju eiga, a giant suitmation monster movie. If vintage dinosaur movies are your thing, or if you love seeing London in even more chaos than usual, this is absolutely for you. It was fantastic to see a clip from the film recently appear in Joe Dante's 3D teen-chiller The Hole (2009). Gorgo lives!

In 1961, Godzilla had yet to appear in colour (in King Kong vs Godzilla the following year). Director Eugene Lourié recycled the
plot of his The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) and the London setting of Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959), but this time used a man in a monster suit rather than stop-motion animation.

Photo-montage with a shadowy demonic monster. Like the Japanese Godzilla, Gorgo doesn't walk around buildings...
In fact it was Lourié's The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, together with a re-release of King Kong (1933), that inspired Toho Studios to make the very first Godzilla movie. So I'm reluctant to label Gorgo as a rip-off of Godzilla. Lourié got there earlier, along with Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion animation and Ray Bradbury's story, of course.

Two salvage experts limp into harbour on a remote Irish island after a volcanic eruption damages their freighter. Before they can make repairs, a dinosaur emerges from the sea
terrifying the local fisherman. They decide to capture the creature, load it onboard and sail it to London to make their fortune. After a few fatal accidents, Gorgo is installed as an attraction in Battersea Funfair (just next to the famous power station).

Hand-tinted lobby card - Tower Bridge is falling down...
But just as it's making a huge splash with London's thrillseekers, a gigantic and angry mother Gorgo emerges from the sea looking for her baby. She heads for London and nothing's going to get in her way, though the army, navy and air force are going to try...

Gorgo attacks a rollercoaster in Battersea Funfair, just like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms at Coney Island
Gorgo is made very like an early Godzilla movie, (a man in a suit amongst detailed miniatures) making it a peculiarly unique British monster film. The modelwork and special effects are from some of the finest technicians of the time, some of whom went onto work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, but obviously with a much bigger budget. Gorgo's special effects are hit and miss, but easily on a par with the Japanese monsters of the time. The almost excessive use of Technicolor borders on the surreal, especially when the night sky is lit up with red smoke as London burns. I particularly love this great optical composite of Gorgo stomping through Soho towards (and through) Piccadilly Circus.

Screengrab: Gorgo enjoys a night on the town
The monster suit looks fantastic on film, the creature's actions are suitably 'undercranked' to make it look huge (a technique often underused in the Japanese films), and the modelwork is just as detailed, laid out as a huge cityscape of central London. They even use a fullscale Gorgo to transport around London on a flatbed lorry,  (to publicise the new attraction) with a full-size prop of its claw to smash unwary fishermen in their boats.

The head is quite animated, with a convincing jaw movement, glowing red eyes and wiggling ears! The feet and claws are huge and look lethal. The only weak point of the suit is the belly which looks and acts like wrinkled material. However, unlike the heavy latex Godzilla suits, this allows the stuntman inside to twist dramatically, to pose and move more dynamically. The suit also had to move in the water and not catch fire too easily - pity the poor guys inside, including jockeys-turned-stuntmen Dave Wilding and Mick Dillon.

The story has humans too. The stars are William Sylvester (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Hand of Night) and Bill Travers (Born Free, Ring of Bright Water, The Smallest Show on Earth) as the two greedy bastards who cause all the trouble in the first place. They sort of a adopt a boy from the island, which is rather progressive for the time. He's played by Vincent Winter, an Oscar-winning child star who went on to work as production manager on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Color Purple and Superman II.

Gorgo certainly isn't low-budget, with some impressive sets (like the war room and the flooded London Underground) and with extensive crowd work to show London's citizens fleeing in panic. Indeed, cinematographer Freddie Young's next picture would be Lawrence of Arabia. He certainly knew how to make flamethrowers look good.

But it's not high budget either, relying too heavily on a mish-mash of stock footage of destroyers and jets before Gorgo hits London. While the modelwork holds up well during the night-time, the early daytime scenes of the boat in a tidal wave are unconvincing. There was certainly enough to fuel a particularly funny Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K season 10, 1998).

I enthused about Gorgo in an extensive article for G-Fan magazine (issue 49, January 2001). I still think it's entertaining as an action-packed monster movie, or as a far-fetched tale with nutty logic and oldschool special effects. It's also an evocative trip around London in 1960. So I'm annoyed that Gorgo still isn't on DVD in the country where it was made.

The sexed-up Monarch novelisation
So far, the DVD and laserdisc releases have been disappointing because of the quality of their source materials - a lot of visible film damage and washed-out colours. The DVD compression has also struggled with the grain, darkness, sea spray and smoke. I've seen it look far better, with vivid technicolor on British TV, transferred from a clean print with a sharp image. That's the version that I'd like to see represent Gorgo worldwide.

The more recent Japanese DVD (pictured) appears to be a close duplicate of the American VCI DVD and has the same extras. The quality of the film transfer is again slightly soft and the edges of block colours are blurry. It's accurately presented in 1.66 aspect, non-anamorphic.

Director Eugene Lourié later provided the extensive special effects for Crack In The World which recently warranted a Blu-ray release. Gorgo is jealous!

Here's a faded trailer for Gorgo...

Happily, a short sequel was made recently, Waiting For Gorgo. Here's the trailer...

(This is a hugely expanded rewrite of my earlier review from 2009.)

October 23, 2011

VAULT OF HORROR (1973) - missing a few zombies

Unfinished business in the graveyard

Not a review, but a mystery that's puzzled me for decades. At the end of each Amicus 'portmanteau' horror movie, there's a twist in the tale - the punchline to the framing story. A photo in Alan Frank's book Horror Movies of Vault of Horror (1973) promised that the main characters (Tom Baker, Michael Craig, Terry Thomas and Daniel Massey) would somehow appear as the undead. 

But at the end of the film, this ghoulish apparition is missing. The actors leave the same vault (seen in the picture below) but lumber off, unchanged, into a graveyard. The undead version was shown in lobby cards and publicity photos, (though that's never been a guarantee of anything in the finished film). What I'm saying is that it's a lot of hard work for something that wasn't used, and would've been a greater 'kick' to end the movie with.

So is this a censor cut? Or did it never make the final film? Has anyone ever seen these make-ups appear onscreen? Maybe in a trailer? All we see in the film is the back of them as they walk away...

Like Tales From The Crypt (1972), this corpse make-up was by Roy Ashton, but unlike his brilliant transformation of Peter Cushing as Grimsdyke, he used a complete facemask for each actor. Ironically, at least one of these appliances still survives. Made for Tom Baker, it was sold to the Bradford National Museum of Photography, Film and Television as part of Roy Ashton's collection. This website, with a photo of the mask, gives the impression that it was worn in the film. So, we can see the mask and the publicity photos, but not in any version of the film I've seen.

Admittedly, Vault of Horror still has a legacy of its censorship problems - the US region 1 DVD double-bill with Tales From The Crypt is a cut version, especially distracting for its toned-down finale of the vampire segment. So this gives me hope that the full graveyard scene is only temporarily missing? I'm appealing to your collective memories for the answer.

Apart from the photos, there's this description at the end of the Jack Oleck novelisation from 1973. After they've swapped stories in the comfy 'men's club' surroundings, the room transforms into a stone vault. The door opens not into a lift, but a graveyard. Critchit (Curt Jurgens) pauses outside as they slowly leave. He lifts his arm to wave goodbye... "and when they turned to wave back at him their faces were no longer as they had been. Their lips and noses had vanished. Their eyes were empty holes. Their skin hung in rotting ribbons and a stench of decaying flesh drifted back to him as they turned again and went on and then halted, each beside his own grave, and disappeared like puffs of smoke". Critchit then goes back inside to return to his waiting coffin...

In the film, the four men head off in different directions, but the reverse shot (pictured) shows them all on the same pathway, fading away at slightly different places. I'd never made the intended connection that each of them were returning to their graves, merely that they'd disappeared on the path.

The colour shot appeared as a lobby card and in Monster Mag #3
These photos (the colour is different to the black-and-white) might have been staged for publicity, rather than shot during an actual take (note that behind them Curt Jurgens appears to have been replaced with a stand-in with longer hair). But they could show an alternate take of them setting out into the graveyard? Or maybe, all that we were supposed to see was during the long shot, their undead faces revealed as they turn back and wave? Perhaps the waving looked wrong? The 'walking away' shot is complicated as each actor would have to 'freeze' on the set for the three cross-dissolves.

Like I said, I'm hoping that someone reading this has the answer, or at least some more clues...

October 18, 2011

TARZAN (1966) - Ron Ely TV series

(1966-68, TV, USA)

UPDATE March 8th, 2012 - TARZAN, Season 1 coming to Warner Archives.

Edgar Rice Burroughs invented several popular fictional characters. His John Carter of Mars will be a 2012 blockbuster as well as Pixar's first live-action production.

But n
ext year is the centenary of Burroughs' far more famous creation, a great opportunity to release every Tarzan adaption from the archives. I'm thinking of the 1966 Ron Ely Tarzan TV series. That was the same year of another hit TV show that refuses to hit home video. I've talked about Adam West's Batman and could happily talk about every last one of the 120 episodes Tarzan appeared for two seasons of one hour adventures (57 in all). Unlike many of the early movies, it wasn't shot on a Hollywood studio backlot, but out in the actual jungle. Except, not in Africa.

Shot in Brazil, and later Mexico, the lush jungle locations, village-sized sets, waterfalls, mountains and rivers made this look a million dollars. With interesting, twisty adventure-laden stories and solid casts, the series was repeated for many years on British TV, eventually headlining the Saturday morning line-up into the 1970s. Like Batman, this was so popular and repeatable that it's now imprinted in many young memories, perfectly primed to revisit it on DVD. But this Tarzan is nowhere to be found, except for some double-episodes released as movies that eventually made it to VHS.

Despite a gap of thirty years or more, I can still remember Tarzan's battle against a big game hunter. Hand grenades are lobbed into a river where Tarzan is hiding underwater. He eventually hauls himself out of the water, bleeding from the ears, only to discover that he's wounded, defenceless and deaf (Tarzan's Deadly Silence)... As for his encounter with a dinosaur, I've yet to see the next episode of that two-parter and learn the secret of that shadowy cave. I recently unearthed a scrawled comic strip I drew as a kid, an extensive 'adaption' of that episode. I think I remember a few scenes from the episode, or maybe they're just from the nightmares I had...

The key to the show's success was Tarzan himself. Actor Ron Ely embodies Tarzan for a certain generation. Of the many previous Tarzans, the best Johnny Weissmuller films (Tarzan - The Ape Man, Tarzan and his Mate) were too violent to be shown on TV for many years, eventually surfacing on Channel Four late night in the 80s. I remember the later sequels getting played as seasons on BBC 2, together with the Gordon Scott movies. They're good, but weren't on nearly as often as TV Tarzan.

Ron Ely's incarnation is impressive in many ways. Imposingly well-built, wearing one of the briefest loincloths of any Tarzan, it's hard not to be distracted by his physique every time he's onscreen, which is most of the episode. He can also act, swim, and fight with both men and animals. He's reputed to have done his own stunts and racked up the injuries to prove it. Just running around everywhere barefoot without flinching is quite a feat (sorry).

iming at a family audience that kept adults engaged, the episodes often had a tough edge. Fistfights, gunfights, knife fights, constant peril and occasionally deaths! A young boy (Manuel Padilla Jr, later seen all grown up in American Graffiti) is the only other regular cast member (as well as Cheetah the cheeky chimp), but otherwise the stories don't pander to a young audience.

The main reason I think the series hasn't stayed in circulation is the portrayal of black Africans. While it's set 'in the now' with the latest vehicles, firearms and fashions, Africans are still portrayed as they were in the original stories, as tribal communities living in small villages of primitive huts, wearing animal skins and war paint. This may have been acceptable in the movies of the 1930s, but was entirely misleading by 1966, as if it had been researched from a travel brochure.

The approach is duly counterweighted by a few 'modern' black characters like the local game warden (Rockne Tarkington of Daktari and Danger Island), who regularly appeared in the early episodes, as well as guest appearances from other American actors like the formidable Woody Strode (Spartacus) and Bernie Hamilton (Starsky & Hutch).

The mid-sixties roster of ever-changing guest stars adds to the nostalgia, including James Earl Jones, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Maurice Evans (Planet of the Apes), William Marshall (Blacula) and Julie Harris (The Haunting)... With high production values and the frankly awesome Ron Ely, the series is notably missing from circulation.

Afterwards, Ron Ely's most famous role was that of Doc Savage - Man of Bronze (1975), the only movie incarnation of that pulp detective action hero.

Cinema Retro has also bemoaned the serious lack of DVD...

Here's the series title sequence...

October 15, 2011


(2011, USA)

Fantasy action epic with a killer soundtrack

At the moment, I'm not watching nearly as many new films as old. I guess the point of collecting movies is to watch some of them occasionally. But the mention of an army of zombie soldiers and giant samurai warriors caught my interest. Then I heard that this isn't a fantasy action film so much as a fantasy drama which lapses into fantasies of action... Even more interesting. Directed by Zack Snyder whose movies I've all enjoyed - 300, Watchmen and the Dawn of the Dead remake. That's enough to warrant a watch.

Like 300, it's real actors set in a largely CGI world, which I currently associate favourably with graphic novel adaptions (though this is an original story from the director). CGI worlds suit fantasy very well, though sensibly, sets are used for the indoor scenes. An early example of this approach, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) made things far too complex for itself by building everything in the computer, using very few sets or props.

A fatal accident sends a teenage girl into a corrupt private asylum where the inmates have to 'dance' for paying visitors. But when BabyDoll dances she daydreams of escape, her fantasies inspiring her and her new friends to attempt to escape captivity...

I kept seeing elements of Terry Gilliam's Brazil, like the fight with the giant Japanese armoured warrior, an identical opponent to one of Sam Lowry's heroic fantasies who also used a heavy-duty spear. The theme of searching for an escape from guilt also struck me as a similarity. One early scene also reminded me of the ballet school from Suspiria - something about the colours used in the set.

The real life interludes slotted between the elaborate and varied action scenes were just as entertaining, owing to the stylised look and strong performances from Carla Gugino and Oscar Isaac (intense enough to make a great Scarface). Good to see Scott Glenn onscreen again (BackdraftThe Right Stuff, and last week's review The Keep).

Key scenes are backed with some extraordinarily reworked cover versions of the Eurythmics, Björk, Jefferson Airplane and other offbeat tracks that immediately impress.

While Zack Snyder's 300 presented men as sexy heroic fantasy, Sucker Punch does the same for women, with a female-heavy cast that appeals to both sexes in a different way to the more obvious 'chick flick' comedies. Admittedly, the incendiary use of the name BabyDoll for the lead character (Emily Browning) keys the audience into its brand of humour. But I was surprised that the film was only rated 12 (on UK home video) considering the amount of sexual content in the story (alluded to, ever present, but never explicit). Japanese anime/movies/TV have their young female characters sexualised, often with shorter skirts, less confidence or self-determination. Yet they largely escape the criticism that Sucker Punch has drawn.

I've also been disappointed by far more exploitational 'schoolgirl action hero' Japanese movies, especially recent direct-to-video offerings made on low budgets that are on offer at the same price. This offers similar action but on a huge scale, set to maximum thrillpower. If Sucker Punch had been Japanese, it would have been the success it deserves.

Available everywhere on DVD and Blu-ray, with an option to watch the longer director's cut, though I was perfectly satisfied with the theatrical version.

October 09, 2011

THE KEEP (1983) - Michael Mann's monster movie

(1983, UK)

A Michael Mann movie that's not on DVD...

I enjoyed The Keep in the cinema, though it didn't all make total sense at the time. Watching it again after a long break, I understand it better and still enjoy it, especially the dreamlike quality. Admittedly, it's a very dark dream.

In 1983, Michael Mann wasn't a 'name' yet and had only directed TV shows and one other movie. Looking back, The Keep doesn't snugly fit in with his body of work, and perhaps this is why it hasn't been released on home video in nearly twenty years...

But before I'd even seen it, I was already sold on the premise and some of the startling photos. German soldiers tangling with a monstrous evil in an ancient castle keep - it was a story I wanted to see. Hints of the Dracula legend being reimagined, Nazis versus monsters, were all very promising. The coverage in Fantastic Films, Fangoria and Starburst magazines all had cover stories. This looked to be a new kind of monster altogether. The cast looked good, so for me it didn't need a big name director to warrant seeing it.

World War II. A German army commander (Jürgen Prochnow, inbetween Das Boot and Dune) rolls into a remote Romanian village and houses his soldiers in a mysterious old stone fortress. Despite warnings not to tamper with the strange crosses embedded in the walls, his soldiers start to die, blown apart by an unseen force. An SS officer (Gabriel Byrne, inbetween Excalibur and Gothic) arrives to solve the murders, instantly blaming the villagers. He pressures an old Jewish professor (Ian McKellen, in an early leading role) to translate the writing inside the keep and unravel its mysteries. Meanwhile, a lone traveller (Scott Glenn of The Right Stuff, Backdraft) is on his way to the village, somehow alerted the very moment the keep was breached...

But The Keep didn't appear in the usual local cinemas near me but the BFI repertory cinema instead, meaning that it hadn't had a wide release and had been relegated to the arthouse circuit, which suited it very well.
The studio were presumably annoyed they hadn't got a straightforward monster movie (though it wasn't much more different approach than Alien, which also had careful art direction and a slowly measured pace). There'd already been news that the film had been extensively recut before release.

Michael Mann directed this after Violent Streets (a gritty heist story, made in 1981, also known as Thief) and wanted to avoid "another street picture" and "another cops and robbers picture" (which he's mostly been stuck with ever since). "It had to be original and unique", "like no other movie with supernatural entities", (Mann quoted in Fantastic Films #38). Instead he was aiming high, at a horror story, a fairy tale, a fable about evil, with stylised visuals, but not gothic like the novel. Watching it again, I think he largely succeeded.

The soundtrack is crucial to the mood, and Tangerine Dream doesn't work for everyone, especially when the synth-heavy score is illustrating a wartime period piece. For me this very 1980s music may be an anachronism, but makes it feel more like it's happening in the now. It adds hugely to a dreamlike experience set against the surreal story and setting.

The visuals are also very 80s, but is that because the look of Mann's work influenced the decade? Carefully colour-coordinated production design, symmetrical camera compositions, backlighting, slow-motion montage, heavy filters and floods of dry ice are consistent with Mann's following few films. His next film was Manhunter, a wait of three years presumably because of The Keep's box-office failure. Meanwhile, he made his name producing the mega-hit TV series Miami Vice.

At the centre of The Keep is a monster. Mann wanted something original but had to compete with the impressive work done on Alien and The Thing. Experimenting with visual mechanical effects, the production was delayed and the budget crept up. Constrained by what was possible at the time, I wonder what he would have imagined with CGI?

The violence is bloodless because he was "not interested in gore", feeling he couldn't outdo John Carpenter, "The Thing was the ultimate prosthetic movie", (Mann quoted in Starburst #58). He did however have visual effects by Wally Veevers (Superman - The Movie) and mechanical effects from Nick Allder (Alien, The Empire Strikes Back), plus some spectacular prosthetic suits made by Nick Maley. Though the 'muscles on the outside' approach had been prefigured by the climax of Altered States. Unfortunately, Cinefex magazine didn't write up the visual effects in detail at the time (probably because it was produced in Britain and not Hollywood), but Fangoria #33 had a well-illustrated look at the suits.

I was disappointed that some of the visual effects hadn't made the final cut, and that the wild-looking photos of various stages of the creature weren't showcased in the film. But it's hard to say why that is. Was that cut out by the director or the studio? There's footage on YouTube of an unseen alternate ending and it's certainly a short film for Mann. Also several minor characters (like William Morgan Shepherd) disappear completely after being dramatically introduced, (more about the deleted scenes here).

The 'less is more' glimpses of the creature work to its advantage. It looks impressively huge, an outsized humanoid like the Golem legend, which is mentioned in passing as the soldiers flee. One unique apparition of the figure enshrouded in a cloud of self-circulating smoke is astounding, mainly because some poor devil had to build it all and make it work!

But the mystery of The Keep is intensified by both the surrounding story and locale. Cinematography that's allowed to breathe, with some very long shots that allow us to relax and enjoy the view. Magnificent sets, particularly the village exterior built in a spectacular slate quarry in North Wales. Mann wanted a steep-sided valley with black walls, and there it is in the Glyn Rhonwy Quarry, Llanberis (before and after photos here), together with a full-sized exterior of the keep and half a Romanian village. I remember visiting a scary open slate quarry in the area on a school trip (we were at the top of the quarry cliff looking over the edge) - we were only camped a few miles away, so there's a very good chance it was this one.

In terms of production, with a British crew and an auteur director striving for atmosphere rather than pace, this bears close comparison to Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). As ambitious maybe, though not as effective. I still find it fascinating and the initial build-up of lurking horror is hard to beat. When the soldiers break inside the inner keep, there's a single mindblowing 'pullback' shot that just keeps on going. It totally worked in the cinema, but the visual 'trick' is more obvious on the laserdisc. With careful grading for a digital presentation, I'm still hoping that this scene will regain it's initial power.

The complete removal of language barriers between all the characters is too convenient, and there's an uneven variety of accents on offer. Ian McKellen is supposedly Eastern European but sounds strangely American (just as strange that his film career was so very slow to take off). Gabriel Byrne (Stigmata, Ghost Ship, Miller's Crossing) plays German without an accent, but Jürgen Prochnow can't he
lp himself. Incidentally it was fun seeing Scott Glenn again in Sucker Punch. Looking good, but with more furrowed wrinkles...

But the performances are excellent, with Alberta Watson (White of the Eye, The Lookout) in a difficult but standout role against all the heavyweights. Also a rare horror-role for Robert Prosky, who I first saw as a regular in Hill Street Blues.

The Keep has a carefully-composed 2.35 widescreen aspect, like all Michael Mann's movies, and was really badly cropped down to 1.33 for the videotape release. Anyone watching the VHS will have trouble following what the hell is going on. After being so impressed by it in the cinema, I was delighted when The Keep had an early widescreen release on laserdisc in the US (one of the main reasons I got into the format was the likelihood of widescreen).

The film is becoming increasingly famous as a 'missing film' on home video, last seen on that Paramount laserdisc in 1993. But there's still no DVD on the horizon. It notably appeared on Netflix recently, in the US.

Here's an original trailer on YouTube, (but cropped to 4:3 for home video...)

Sir Ian 'Gandalf' McKellen wrote a little about his involvement on his own website, including a few photographs...

French special effects artist Stéphane Piter has a huge fansite about his obsession with The Keep. The picture-heavy website, English version, begins here... 

October 08, 2011

John Belushi - resting in peace


While we were visiting Martha's Vineyard last month, we learnt that John Belushi was buried on the island. Couldn't just pass him by and not pay our respects...

The cemetery on 
Abel Hill has no signpost, but if you head along South Road going through Chilmark, you'll see the cemetery next to the road. As you turn off into the car park, John's memorial is right next to it. A poignant, unfussy reminder of a comic genius who left us nearly thirty years ago.

The traditional headstone (placed there by his family) faces a larger, simpler, shapeless memorial stone chosen by his wife from a beach on the island. But apparently he's not actually laid to rest at this exact spot, but at an unmarked location elsewhere in the cemetery.

A very sad little visit, in contrast with the lovely location and the sunny day.