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Mansfield 66/67 (2017)

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Starring Ann Magnuson, Richmond Arquette, Kenneth Anger, A.J. Benza

Directed by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes


Those of you who watch “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” may only know of Jayne Mansfield as Mariska Hargitay’s mother. After marrying wrestler Mickey Hargitay, Mansfield was famously killed in a car crash in New Orleans during the summer of 1967. The new documentary Mansfield 66/67 from P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes focuses on the last two years of Mansfield’s life and her bizarre relationship with Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan who began to gain notoriety and fame as Mansfield’s star power was on the decline. (Ebersole and Hughes served as executive producers on the mind-bending documentary Room 237 so you’re in good hands here.)

Offering new insights into Mansfield’s final years and the mystery surrounding them, the film also shows how sensationalism and the desire to live in infamy led to a tragic death that, ironically, became more famous than her storied career.

Speaking with filmmaking legends like Kenneth Anger and Tippi Hedren and gossip columnist A.J. Benza from Howard Stern fame, it’s easy to fall for Mansfield after listening to them speak about what a bombshell powerhouse she was in her heyday. John Waters is also featured, and his Hollywood starlet expertise is on full display. Few have ever achieved the level of stardom she experienced, and just like Marilyn Monroe, few have fallen quite as quickly and publicly. Mansfield began to drink heavily, leaving her susceptible to opportunists like Anton LaVey, who gained followers through an increased interest in the occult combined with over-the-top theatrics and television appearances. Jayne and Anton were both playing characters in a sense; they connected on that level and together received more attention than they ever did apart.

Their relationship is a great metaphor for the entire decade of the Sixties: tumultuous, fame-obsessed, and violent. The disenfranchised youth of the time were looking for an alternative way to think about everything, including religion; and Satanism was suddenly hip. It’s also during this period, especially after the assassination of JFK (whose classified CIA documents are scheduled to be released today), that the conspiracy theory reached new heights. It’s no surprise then that there was suddenly a great deal of skepticism surrounding Mansfield’s horrific car accident purporting that, somehow, LaVey and his powerful sorcery were behind it.

Any horror fan with an interest in the supernatural who also has a penchant for Fifties glamour should give Mansfield 66/67 a chance. Arguably, this was the start of the Satanic Panic that would put its stamp on the Eighties, becoming a large part of what defined that decade. Mansfield was the ultimate pinup in the Fifties, who then, oddly, became the High Priestess of the late Sixties who wanted to be accepted by the new kids of the Summer of Love era in San Francisco. It’s a fascinating time, one so unique that it brought two of the unlikeliest people together to help define the absolute insanity of the entire decade.

Mansfield 66/67 will have its theatrical opening in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts theater on October 27, 2017, co-programmed alongside a number of Mansfield classics including The Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?  For more info on screenings in your area, visit mansfield6667.com.

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7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB Review – Rest Easy, Indiana Jones, There’s Not Much To See Here

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Starring Kellan Lutz, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammar

Directed by Kimble Rendall


If it only weren’t for those friggin’ spiders. Kimble Rendall’s adventurous flick, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is one of those “wanted to be, yet couldn’t quite hit the mark” action-films that will probably entertain those looking for some cave-dwelling escapades caught on celluloid, but for the more picky aficionado of said slam-bang pics, this one might be viewed as a bit stagnant. Let’s strap on our mining helmets and pick around this one, shall we?

Acting as a bit of a search-and-rescue formation, the movie tails alongside Dr. Jia Lee (Li) as she hunts down the whereabouts of her missing brother after losing contact with him while he was on expedition in Western China. Apparently he was looking for a secretive Emperor’s tomb that supposedly holds a potion that can reanimate, or re-invigorate…or rehabilitate – anyway you slice it, the juice has got some pretty potent powers. So a search team is assembled, led by Mason (Grammar – glad someone got Frasier off of the barstool), and he’s latched onto all-American fella Jack (Lutz) to assist this operation. As it turns out, the initial journey is cut off fairly quick when a violent electrical storm forces the group to head underground, and that’s when things get creepy and crawly…like 8-legged style. The film is ripe with some feverish action and a few decent performances, but it’s the overall framework that acts as the big bully, tauntingly kicking sand in the little guy’s face at the beach.

We’ve got love interests, a flurry of backstories, and oh my lord, those spiders! Yep, even the heartiest of CGI can effectively ruin a good case of the willies when it comes to arachnids and their powers of sucking humans and animals dry of their lifeforce. It’s an intently goofy movie, and even the dialogue seems a bit showy at times, leaving plausibility and intelligence at the entrance to the caves. Lutz is fun to watch as the burly rescuer, and he looks as the type who is just waiting for his cinematic moment to step into the spotlight. What pains me is that this movie really could have been something much bigger, and apparently it looks as if the majority of the film’s budget was wasted on those hokey-looking computerized spiders.

All in all, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is spotty entertainment, even if you despise those little skittering aphids racing towards you, programmed or not. Give it a peek if Raiders Of The Lost Ark isn’t readily available at your disposal…even that crappy Crystal Skull one.

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2.5

Summary

A film that could have been so much more adventure-wise instead comes off looking like a lesson in how not to waste too much time on computer imagery.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 160 – A QUIET PLACE

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Lately, it seems as though comedy actors are cutting their teeth as horror directors and absolutely killing it! This year’s indie horror darling comes in the form of John Krasinki’s A Quiet Place. Chris has been sick as a dog, so the haomie Christine from Horrible Imaginings Film Fest is filling in to discuss whether A Quiet Place is 2018’s horror heavyweight, or just a lot of noise.

What Bruno took was what changed me; it only amplifies your essence. It simply makes you more of what you already are. It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 160!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH Review: Friedkin Goes Mondo Catholic

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Starring Father Gabriele Amorth

Directed by William Friedkin


Hitting theaters this weekend in NYC and LA is William Friedkin’s new documentary, The Devil and Father Amorth. And right away I am asked: “Is it ‘good’?” You don’t watch a documentary like this with that in mind. Faces of Death, Traces of Death, Mondo Cane. They are not here to be “good”—they are beyond words like that. Beyond good and bad.

It is more like the sideshow—Behold! See what has not been seen before! The Horror! The Forbidden! And you hand the man your ticket — you see The Arabian Giantess at the flea market in New Jersey, and maybe it is a sleight of hand and made of papier-mâché, but it was worth that dollar, and now you have a story. You have bought your way into the unknown.

The Devil and Father Amorth is light on science (and length – it runs just 68 minutes) and heavy on faith. If you have been exposed to Friedkin’s — or more specifically, William Peter Blatty’s — work, there is the struggle with belief in the Roman Catholic faith, and also in the search for evidence of the miracle. You could also prove the Force of Divine Good if you could face the opposite side of the coin—the Force of Evil, in the vernacular of Catholicism—the Devil himself. Paradoxical, yes—faith exists without proof; and so what is the drive to tell the world God exists, the Devil exists?

In the documentary we learn Rome is filled with the possessed. Hundreds of people are contacting the Church about their own possession or the possession of their loved ones. The Most Holy Father Amorth is the person the Vatican has tapped to perform exorcisms—thousands of them. And sometimes he has repeat business. Christina is one such woman, exorcised nine times and still susceptible to the Force of Evil. Those of us who are non-believers look at this woman as someone who is troubled—but “through the eyes of faith,” obviously it is a demon.

Surrounded by her family, the rite begins, and you see… an actual exorcism. There is no enhancement, no Dick Smith make-up; it is not as dramatic as we want it to be. Should we get her help that is not in the form of a witch doctor? What about doctors? And so we meet them.

Friedkin brings the footage to top hospitals in NYC. Psychologists give their point of view. Then neurosurgeons. They don’t know what’s going on—the exorcism seems to help, but they do see that it might be a cultural remnant. There is a medical diagnosis for it, as it can affect anyone of any faith. But the doc never digs too deep. I am disappointed: I needed to know more. I don’t believe it.

Are they hurting Christina? Is she just another female the Church is suppressing, as they did with witches—the control, the stigma, of the female body and identity? None of this is explored because it’s just a 1-dollar ticket under the striped tent, just left of the dancing girls and the strong man—Actual! Exorcist! Footage! Hurry up and see!

As Friedkin mentioned himself, when someone asks you to film an exorcism, you say yes. So see it for the freak show. Expect nothing else. And either you believe or you don’t, based on how you were raised — mythology, religion, or superstition.

  • The Devil and Father Amorth
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Summary

See it for the freak show. Expect nothing else.

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