Sunday, May 29, 2011

Junta Juleil's All-Time Favorites

I've received a handful of emails over the past few months asking about my all-time favorite movies, and so I thought I'd reassess the canon (and the Cannon, if ya know what I mean). Generally, I shy away from these sorts of lists as reductive, onanistic exercises, but what the hell, they're sort of fun. So, in the next week or two I'll reveal my list, piece by piece, along with some new commentary...

Monday, May 23, 2011


A few of the highlights of HOLY CUCKOOS WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY LIFE, captured vividly by amateur photographers.

Jillaine Gill (left) and Meghan Holland (right), contemplate their impending doom in "Chainsaw Alley's a Helluva Place to be at 3 O'Clock in the Morning, or at Any Other Time."

I meet my demise at the hands of the diabolically cuckoo Jake Thomas (left) in his short play, "Absolutely Cuckoo."

The Preacher (Don DiPaolo) energizes the crowd in "A Sermon."

I regale the reluctant spectators with a dramatic reading from CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE #100: THE WORST DAY OF YOUR LIFE.

(From left) Robyn Nielsen, Danielle Marie Fusco, and Abbie Hawk confront the jazz-dancing slasher in Rachel Klein's "Killer Workout."

Peaches (Eden Foster) is worshiped by Robyn Nielsen and Jose Ramos as a dejected, pantsed Chris Cipriano looks on in my short play, "Peaches."

I'm all out of quarters; the machine bests the man. From "Hyperspace," my tortured performance piece on the frustrations of arcade games.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Tonight;s installment of our residency at the Bowery Poetry Club will be an ode to quotidian horrors, instability, and unspeakable madness. The variety hour will be curated (and often performed by) Junta Juleil Theatricals in association with Bluebox Productions and the Rachel Klein Theater. It's called HOLY CUCKOOS WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY LIFE, and will commence at 9:30 PM on Sunday, May 22nd at the Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery between Houston and Bleecker, take the F train to 2nd Ave, or the 6 to Bleecker.) Tickets will be $10, cash only, available at the door.


•Chainsaw Alley's a Helluva Place to be at 3 O'Clock in the Morning, Or At Any Other Time
Written by Sean Gill, Performed by Meghan Holland and Jillaine Gill, Directed by Booze E. Thymes.
•Comedy by Kerryn Feehan
Absolutely Cuckoo
Conceived by Jake Thomas, Performed by Jake Thomas and Sean Gill.
•He's Mine
Conceived and performed by Kristy Hasen.
•Choose Your Own Adventure: The Worst Day of Your Life
Performed by Sean Gill.
Killer Workout
Created and choreographed by Rachel Klein, Performed by Abbie Hawk, Scooter Pie, Freddy Mancilla, Brian Rubiano, Robyn Nielsen, and Danielle Marie Fusco.
•A Sermon
By The Preacher
Written by Sean Gill, Directed by Jillaine Gill, Performed by Chris Cipriano, Jose Ramos, Robyn Nielsen, and Eden Foster.
•Comedy by Brandy Rowell
Choreographed and Performed by Sean Gill.
•I Never Sprang for my Father
By Black Temple Shirley

Hope some of you can make it out!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Film Review: THE BURNING (1981, Tony Maylam)

Stars: 3.3 of 5.
Running Time: 91 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Brian Matthews (THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS), Leah Ayres (BLOODSPORT, THE PLAYER), Brian Backer (FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, THE MONEY PIT), Jason Alexander (SEINFELD, JACOB'S LADDER), Fisher Stevens (SHORT CIRCUIT, MY SCIENCE PROJECT), Lou David (THE LAST DRAGON, THE EXTERMINATOR), Larry Joshua (UNFORGIVEN, SEA OF LOVE), Holly Hunter (CRASH '96, RAISING ARIZONA, THE PIANO). Special makeup effects by Tom Savini (DAWN OF THE DEAD, FRIDAY THE 13TH). Music by Rick Wakeman (LISZTOMANIA, CRIMES OF PASSION). Edited by Jack Sholder (director of ALONE IN THE DARK, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE). Co-written by Harvey and Bob Weinstein (it's the first "Miramax" movie) along with director Tony Maylam (SPLIT SECOND, WHITE ROCK), Brad Grey (who later co-produced JUST SHOOT ME and THE SOPRANOS), and Peter Lawrence (THUNDERCATS, HIGH SCORE).
Tag-line: "Today is not Friday the 13th. But if you see this movie alone... you'll never be the same again!"
Best one-liner: "Man, this guy is so burned, he's cooked! A fucking Big Mac, overdone! You know what I mean?"

While summer weather isn't quite yet upon us, I'm going to use the excuse of high, nearly unbearable levels of humidity to leap headlong into "Summer Slasher Season." Today's specimen, THE BURNING, is by no means an upper-tier slasher (like MY BLOODY VALENTINE or SLEEPAWAY CAMP), but it's still a damned enjoyable film, and one which offers early performances from up-and-coming stars (Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, & Holly Hunter), over-the-top gore effects by genre master Tom Savini, and, co-produced and co-written by the burgeoning, wheeling-dealing Weinstein brothers, merits the perhaps dubious honor of being the 4th film ever released by the Miramax Films company.

While the Weinsteins later claimed that their film had been in development longer than FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), THE BURNING is, at best, a cash-in on that earlier film's success (though by no means whatsoever is FRIDAY THE 13TH a paragon of originality). I mean, look at the tag-line for godssakes. Regardless, Tom Savini signed up to sculpt the gore for THE BURNING instead of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 because he thought that the concept of reviving Jason for sequels was senselessly misguided. (That didn't stop him from returning to collect a paycheck and dispatch Crispin Glover in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 4, however!)

The plot is about as stock as they come. "It all started with a prank gone wrong!" I suppose you could say that about PROM NIGHT, LEVIATHAN, GHOULIES III, APRIL FOOL'S DAY, etc., etc., but I digress. Anyway, some campers seek revenge on the sadistic groundskeeper, Cropsy.

He accidentally gets set on fire, spills a tub of gasoline that he keeps by his bedside, and dives into the lake in a spectacular display of asbestos-suitery.

We soon learn that Cropsy has survived as the world's most sensitive hospital orderly tells us "Man, this guy is so burned, he's cooked! A fucking Big Mac, overdone! You know what I mean? No way I'd want to be like this freak!" After several years of therapy, Cropsy leaves the burn unit and immediately murders a random hooker, Argento-style. We're talking black gloves, black trench coat, extreme close-ups, and the backwards smash through a plate glass window. The works.

Why he murders this random prostitute remains unclear for the remainder of the film, since the indignities he suffered were at the hands of pranking summer campers, not big city hookers. In fact, the revenge angle isn't even really worked as he seemingly murders campers at random. In retrospect, we are told that pre-burn-victim Cropsy was "really mean."

(We are shown no evidence of this, other than the fact that Cropsy had a few bottles of booze in his shack when he was assailed by pranksters.) In any event, the prostitute murder was probably inserted so that A., Savini could play around in the style of Argento (something William Lustig had him doing quite well in MANIAC), and B., so that there'd be some "early in the game" bloodshed. If we take away the hooker killing and split the film in half, we're faced with the following statistic– part 1 possesses 0 murders and 5 fake-outs, and part 2 possesses 8 murders and 0 fake-outs. Clearly, the hooker-murder is necessary. I apologize, Random Hooker (K.C. Townsend), you were simply collateral damage from that eternal tug-o-war between "slasher film murders" and "slasher film fake-outs." It could have easily turned out the other way, with the killer startled and thwarted by, say, a random alley cat leaping on the windowsill or a young street urchin saying "Heya, mister, did you drop this knife?" Ah, well.

Anyway, we soon find ourselves at a nearby summer camp, soon meeting the motley crew of summer camp regulars.

Like– The Bully!

That's Larry Joshua there as the bully, and he really pulls out the stops for this one. His tormentee is Tony-winner and FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH player Brian Backer.

There's the likable frat boy-type played by Jason Alexander (with hair!), who's entertaining and engaging even within the constraints of a slasher film role.

On the left is Ned Eisenberg, who plays the smooth-talkin' New York guido-type. Then there's Leah Ayres as our female protagonist,

you may remember her as JCVD's hag– I mean, love-interest in one of the finest movies ever made, BLOODSPORT. KUM-ITE, KUM-ITE, KUM-ITE! Er, what was I saying?

Oh yeah– there's young Fisher Stevens, too! (third from left)

He's hasn't quite hit the ("Sayonara, dicknose!") heights he would achieve as he matured, but he's damn great here as a scrappy l'il prankster, fond of shooting people in the ass with pellets and then, as if to pour salt in the wound by displaying a non-pellet-afflicted ass, mooning them.

Holly Hunter's in there, too, but she's mostly in the background. She has a couple of lines, but the DVD was skipping, so you don't get a screenshot.

Rick Wakeman, formerly of Yes, composes a generally atmospheric synth soundtrack which is occasionally bland, occasionally prefigures the "DUNHD-DUNHD...DUNHD-DUNHD" rumblings from Carpenter's THE THING, and occasionally bursts forth with blasts of intricate, quasi-Classical brilliance. As a fan of Wakeman's solo work (I highly recommend the albums NO EARTHLY CONNECTION and THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY THE VIII for the interested), I would have to say that for the most part he's phoning it in here. Still, it has it's moments.

Savini's gore picks up where FRIDAY THE 13TH left off, more often than not dedicating itself to neck trauma. From a practical standpoint, it's extremely impressive, using optical illusions and well-constructed dummy parts to masterfully deceive the eye. Take that, CGI!

The film also features editing from Jack Sholder (his only editing credit) who also directed 80's horror trashterpieces NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE and ALONE IN THE DARK.

Anyway, I don't really have much more to say. I can't say that it's a film that inspires or a film that sparks the imagination, but I will say that it's a film that kills about 91 minutes and five cans of Schlitz, and I'm pretty sure that's the purpose it was designed for.

Oh, and here's a picture of Cropsy wielding a flamethrower:

A little over three stars.

-Sean Gill

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Junta Juleil represented at Sticky this Friday, 5/20

A short play called "Chainsaw Alley's a Helluva Place to be at 3 O'Clock in the Morning, or at Any Other Time" (which I originally wrote a while back for STAGE BLOOD IS NEVER ENOUGH) will be appearing at Blue Box Productions' STICKY this Friday, where it will star the talented Meghan Holland and my sister, Jillaine Gill. The details are as follows:

WHO: You.
WHAT: A smattering of short plays accompanied by booze.
WHEN: 7:00 PM on Friday, May 20th.
WHERE: The Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery between Houston and Bleecker.
WHY: Support independent theater while acquiring booze.
HOW MUCH: $10 at the door.

Film Review: STONE COLD (1991, Craig R. Baxley)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 92 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Brian Bosworth (ONE TOUGH BASTARD, THREE KINGS), Lance Henriksen (ALIENS, NEAR DARK), Arabella Holzbog (CARNOSAUR 2, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE), William Forsythe (EXTREME PREJUDICE, THE ROCK, OUT FOR JUSTICE), Richard Gant (ROCKY V, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, "Hostetler" on DEADWOOD), Evan James (HARD TO KILL, PENTATHLON). Produced by Yoram Ben-Ami (LONE WOLF MCQUADE, 3 NINJAS KICK BACK), Moshe Diamant (TIMECOP, HARD TARGET), Gary Wichard (BLACKOUT, C.O.D.), Walter Doniger (also the writer), Michael Douglas (BASIC INSTINCT, FALLING DOWN), Nick Grillo (YOUNGBLOOD, GODS & GENERALS), Udi Nedivi (BLOOD RUN, SUPER 8), and Rick Bieber (FLATLINERS, DOUBLE IMPACT). Stunt coordinated by Paul Baxley (ACTION JACKSON, PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER), with some stunts by Al Leong (LETHAL WEAPON, DIE HARD).
Tag-line: "He'll burn you cold."
Best one-liner: "This reminds me of my father's last words: 'Don't son, that gun is loaded!'"

Vast, ominous technological forces seem to have aligned against your experiencing my recommendation of STONE COLD until today. But that's just fine. STONE COLD can wait. It's capable of "burning you cold," anytime, anywhere.

Allow me to paint you a vivid picture. Imagine if a freak industrial accident resulted in the unholy fusion of COBRA, ROAD HOUSE, and DEATH WISH 3 into one movie. Now imagine that this movie is written and directed by ZZ Top in a parallel universe where they went to film school instead of recording hit songs like "Tush." Now imagine that it stars ex-NFLer-turned-thespian Brian "The Boz" Bosworth, and you have a rudimentary concept of what the STONE COLD experience is like.

Let me put it this way– within the first five minutes of this film, we have Ritz crackers getting machine-gunned to hell,

a poor man's Tom Cruise taking a girl with massive orthodontia hostage and telling her to keep quiet, "TINSEL TEETH!",

we have The Boz (clad in a leather-fetish-wear version of Sherlock Holmes' jacket-cape and possessing an incredible two-tone, wavy-molded mullet) calmly shopping for bananas,

then the bad guys taken care of by The Boz with the aid of several random grocery items (including vegetable oil, pastries, and canned goods), followed by a one-liner about a "clean-up in aisle four,"

a completely ludicrous "bikers behaving badly" montage, whereupon William Forsythe gets William Tell'd and basks in the pinwheeling glory of gun-blasted beer foam,

I'm sure I could come up with a one-liner about too much head in the beer or something, but incidentally, this is only way that Forsythe imbibes, on or off a set.

followed by Forsythe pulling the same trick on another biker with an Uzi, a crazed act which results in a random car explosion and glorious peals of frenzied Forsythe laughter– no sir, this is not garden variety lunacy.

Oh yeah, and in case you've forgotten, I'm still working on the rundown of "things that happen within the first five minutes of STONE COLD." Finally, we're treated to the following tableau, that of a shotgun-toting biker who looks like a Dick Tracy villain

crashing the party at a baptism and blowing away the Reverend

who flies backward twenty feet, through a stained-glass window, revealing an army of bikers, poised to take over the US of A, one defenseless pastor at a time.

Why, you ask? Hmmm... Well, you know what, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that your mind isn't even capable of asking 'why' at this point– there is literally so much shit happening, you're liable to bust a synapse or risk an aneurysm if you try to do anything except allow the glory of STONE COLD to wash over you.

So let's talk about "The Boz." I'm reasonably certain that no one has ever risked brain injury while contemplating "The Boz." "The Boz" plays one tough cop who's on suspension for, typically, being too good at his job. But while the dangerous biker gang/army/nation The Brotherhood roams the American Southeast, no one is safe. Before you can say "You've logged more biker-related arrests than any other officer in Alabama," "The Boz" is recruited by the FBI,

who are represented as a bunch of square-headed pencil-necks who definitely aren't cool or tuff enuff to infiltrate a dangerous biker gang on their own. Now The Boz's acting expertise lies somewhere between "child excited to be starring in a home movie" and "Rowdy Roddy Piper," and as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing. You can sense a genuine, babyish excitement beneath everything that he does: he is damn happy to be in this movie, and consequently, you are damn happy to be watching him.

BEHOLD: The Boz constructing a zany milkshake out of bananas, candy bars, and random bric-a-brac

So that's what the bananas were for!

which he feeds to his pet Komodo dragon! And, of course, he does it all in macabre exercise-wear perhaps purloined from the set of PERFECT.

GAZE UPON: Lance Henriksen's performance as "Chains," the master of The Brotherhood. "Chains" should probably have gone by the name of "Chuckles" because the ratio of Lance Henriksen giggling malevolently to that of Lance Henriksen beating people with chains is approximately eight-hundred thousand to zero.

Seriously, Chains' main character trait is indeed to react to nearly everything with near-psychotic glee and the accompanying degree of bemused chuckling. Lance, naturally, manages to make this work beautifully, and delivers another nuanced, genuine, scary-good performance.

Highlights include Lance's secret biker handshake, soon followed by the threat to "peel your skin off with a knife dipped in shit!"

Lance laying waste to a courtroom while wearing a priest's cassock (which naturally makes me think of Rutger Hauer's priest disguises in SURVIVING THE GAME and WEDLOCK),

and use of priceless, well-delivered Henriksen one-liners such as "TAKE THAT FUCKEN HARMONICA DOWN THE PARKING LOT, MAN!!!" and "WELCOME TO MY SLAUGHTERHOUSE!"

SEE: William Forsythe in rare form (though not quite eclipsing his no-holds-barred portrayal in OUT FOR JUSTICE), brawling like a nut-kicking madman,

and calling out The Boz for what he is:

BE SUBJECTED TO: Involuntary and generally shameful personal displays of head-banging, courtesy of a soundtrack featuring selections by "Saigon Kick," "Wire Train", "Cryer," "Martin Block," and sweet God in heaven, "The Doobie Brothers."

BEAR WITNESS TO: More unnecessary biker lady nudity per capita than in any comparable film, nearly as many senseless car explosions as in DEATH WISH 3, a club named "Club Salsa" (shades of Club...SALSA?), a man flinging a switchblade into the buttcheeks of a pin-up photo...of buttcheeks, bikers showering a fallen comrade in Jack Daniels and Domino's pizza; and a man shot off of a motorcycle as he rides through a marble colonnade in the hallway of a statehouse building, whereupon the motorcycle flies out the window and takes out a helicopter, which falls to its fiery death and explodes some vehicles on the ground.

Yes, this is a five star movie, and yes, I will defend this ruling to the death. I never knew I could be burned so cold.

-Sean Gill

Monday, May 16, 2011


So, Rachel Klein's THE TRAGEDY OF MARIA MACABRE, for which I co-wrote the scenario, did the sound design, and made a film adaptation last year, is up for the Capezio A.C.E. award through the site DanceMedia, with a brief excerpt of the March 2nd show at Dixon Place available to watch online. You can vote for the show and watch the clip HERE. You do have to register, but it's a simple matter and you won't get spammed, so go for it!

Film Review: DELTA FORCE 2: THE COLOMBIAN CONNECTION (1990, Aaron Norris)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 111 minutes.
Tag-line: "Norris and the force are back!"
Best one-liner: "WHY DON'T YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

DELTA FORCE 2: THE COLOMBIAN CONNECTION– another in a continuing series on run-on sentence/tone poems possibly inspired by William Faulkner and/or Gertrude Stein.

We got the Globus, lost the Golan, but Chuck is back and it's a Cannon film
– a canon film, really–
and that's all that matters, for they say this is a sequel, but a sequel to what? I find myself asking,
Chuck's the only returning actor, he never really has a back-story, and the eponymous DELTA FORCE is never mentioned–
no matter; a Norris is a Norris is a Norris is a Norris as they say

but wait– in this DELTA FORCE, may we heed the ominous warning from the atlas' yellowed, dusty pages...

and Dragos there are indeed (we'll call this specimen Billy) and he first appears with a glittery, hooded cape which he twirls and flips with all the grace and aplomb of a Cannon Films wrongdoer
why the cape? you see, it's Carnival in Rio, but

and now it's war or revenge or whatever you want to call it,
but back in the States some Cannon punks are making a pyramid out of Miller High Life, which is only right, 'cause it's the champagne of beers

and then they start some real trouble, amateurishly manhandling the Chinese restaurant owner and insulting his General Tso's chicken, but they picked the wrong bistro for that manner of tomfoolery since
Norris is a loyal customer and he really knows how to handle men- he's a professional manhandler
and he proceeds to teach a master's course on the appreciation of the finer points of Chinese cuisine

SPLOOOSH right in the fried rice
and then informs the proprietor "Personally Mr. Kwon I think your food is great"

and then we're back in San Carlos
or should I say in San Carlos for the first time (home of Billy Drago, the master drug kingpin),
and even though they have the Columbian flag and the movie is subtitled THE COLUMBIAN CONNECTION, none of this has anything to do with Columbia it's a made-up country called San Carlos so geeze don't get your panties in a bunch

anyway Drago's the sort of drug kingpin who likes to lean back all the way in his carseat if ya know what I mean;
he holds his country in the grip of terror
along with a corrupt General played by Mark Margolis who occasionally exclaims sheer eloquence such as


anyway Drago rapes and slaughters and murders and has kind of a lavender color scheme in his bedroom

and kills babies and holds Columbia in the grip of terror, whoops I mean San Carlos, and who can stop him, who is man enuff to stop him before he can accomplish his goal of lockin' lips with every last freedom-luvin' hombre in this movie? well, we shall see...we shall see...

but before Billy can caress his next victim, General John P. Ryan is the man with the plan (not Panama, though– San Carlos!)

and he's sort of the same character from RUNAWAY TRAIN, except now he's one of the good guys (I guess?)
and so under John P. Ryan's command (tutelage?), NORRIS busts in, makin' the Drago bust at 20,000 feet on an international flight
and Drago senses weakness

but before they can join the mile-high club,
Chuck tosses his ass outta the plane, just to show that he means business, too

and then nose-dives to save his scummy drug-dealin' hide, (he should have a fair trial, after all) but you will believe a Chuck can fly

but at the trial, justice is re-defined, the 'Drag-ster gets off on a technicality ("Isn't democracy great?"), and
then he kills everyone that Norris has ever cared about, cares about, or ever will care about
and escapes back to San Carlos cause he's just that sort of som'bitch

I mean look at 'im
the toast of the town
wearin' a puff-sleeve blazer he stole off the set of THE GOLDEN GIRLS
that 'ole Bill Drago
the toast of the town

but Chuck vows revenge! extradition treaties be damned
he starts lookin' for love in all the wrong places

C'mere you young tuffs
have you got What It Takes
we gotta out-commando COMMANDO
(that means no underpants)
we gotta outgun TOP GUN
Chuck's montage is all about trainin'
watch him sandblast that adolescent

watch the backward-ram face-jam

(kinda more like SALO than DELTA FORCE 1!)

and now for a little lady Chuck likes to call
the crotch-thrust maneuver
it's not hard to do, he can teach it to you
first you put the head in the crotch,

and then,

well, I guess that's the only step

but ample screentime is devoted to its proper form

so now that Chuck has got What It Takes, it's time to head down to Columb– shit, I do mean San Carlos
don't forget your flask, John P. Ryan!

thank God, sometimes he forgets the flask
but he never forgets his catchphrase..."ALWAYS THE HARD WAY!"

and so Chuck goes all MISSING IN ACTION on the (island? landlocked?) nation and John P. Ryan tools around in a helicopter, shooting off well-proportioned rockets and blasting hot lead into sweaty, South American bodies and shouting sophisticated quotables such as:


and then the big showdown happens after Chuck defeats the poor man's Al Leong (if you know what that means then allow me to tip my glass to you, sir)
and hoo boy
you don't wanna miss this
Billy Drago catches Chuck in his bedroom
well just watch the video

but then
John P. Ryan comes to blow up his pool

a damn shame, hope the pool boys made it out safely
and we're entreated to a patented whacky rope pull chase

whereupon Chuck n' Bill zip through the rainforest, fighting one another as they dangle from JPR's 'copter
and I gotta say it's my favorite high-speed forest chase since RETURN OF THE JEDI
and I won't say how it ends
but let's just say that Chuck and Johnny P. Ryan keep America safe from Billy Drago makeout sessions so that they can...

...have their own?

-Sean Gill