Monday, October 06, 2014


It's Real Estate Week at Trailers from Hell! Well, sort of. A triple feature of trailers for movies with the word "House" in the title doesn't exactly qualify as a seminar on flipping properties, but when you're talking about Trailers from Hell at least you know it'll be a lot more fun. (No free coffee and donuts, however.)

The week ends Friday, October 10, with Eli Roth waxing wise on the 1976 giallo from director Pupi Avati, The House with The Laughing Windows. Backing up two days to Wednesday, October 8, it's Mick Garris leading us through the halls of Narciso Ibanez Searrador's terrific The House That Screamed.

But today is Monday, and that means it's time to hit the books. Or at least knock them off the keg and make room so that thing can get properly tapped. If knowledge is indeed good, as Emil Faber once offered, then Allan Arkush makes good on the claim by revisiting the scholarly 1978 comedy classic National Lampoon's Animal House, offering some perspective on its historical significance (it burst boundaries of taste and virtually defined the parameters of popular R-rated comedy for the next 35 years, and counting) as well as on director John Landis' counterintuitive approach to comedy-- long takes, deadpan staging and even improvisation within the relatively still frame, as opposed to the frantic camera movement such material might seem to cry out for. Landis fought the (studio) power and topped it all off with a real score by Elmer Bernstein, which served as a brilliantly pokerfaced foundation for all the period hits.

The movie was shot on the campus of the University of Oregon in the autumn of 1977, which just happened to be my first term as a freshman there, and I managed to get myself a job as a Delta pledge extra on the movie. And as a keen sort of sidebar to Arkush's commentary, Trailers from Hell is also offering my own remembrance of the time I spent on the set of Animal House and, most importantly, the day I met John Belushi. I must say, it's quite a honor to be the bottom half of any double bill that features Allan Arkush in the director's chair! And watching his trailer commentary, I also discovered that in addition to being in the movie, I also somehow managed to make it into the trailer too! (Look for the quick shot of Belushi going down the line handing out pledge pins to the robe-wearing Delta pledges.)

So make sure to visit Trailers from Hell all week for their special "The Animal House That Dripped Blood" celebration, which kicks off today with Allan Arkush (not John Landis) on National Lampoons Animal House. Give it a click! Don't cost nothin'!


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