Wednesday, August 29, 2007

One to Watch: Carlos Saura

Hello LDT Fan(s),

I am one of, um, Great T's personal assistants filling in while he's on vacation. I am not allowed to reveal my name. Sigh.

Anyway, I want to take this opportunity to inject some real, in-depth, and meaningful content to this blog instead of the usual self-ingratiating verbal flatulence he posts. So I am taking it upon myself to introduce this segment, "One to Watch", where one of Mr. Tremendo's staff will spotlight a filmmaker, forgotten movie, or obscure genre. Although he has branded me a faggy, limp-wristed, sensitive artist with a propensity for the maudlin, I will overcome his boorish and unsophisticated cinematic palette and replace it with one of choice, first-class, and erudite musings upon art in the world today.

I am so dead.


The Spanish cinema, from the fantastical silent works of Segundo de Chomon to the contemporary dark comedies of Pedro Almodovar, has presented the world of cinema a wide range of artistic styles and political voices. Among these Spanish filmmakers stands director Carlos Saura. Born shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Saura witnessed firsthand the social trauma and political brutality that would inevit
ably lead his entrance into film. As a teen, he gained an interest in photography and became adept in capturing images of his native country. However, Saura did not find success in commercial photography and instead discovered that filmmaking satisfied his artistic impulses.


Urged on by his family, Saura entered the Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinemotograficas (IIEC), the famous Madrid film school, in 1952. There he was bombarded by the sounds and images of Italian neo-realists Vittorio DeSica and Roberto Rossellini whose films would sow the seeds of the New Spanish Cinema Movement which included filmmakers Victor Erice and Jose Luis Borau. In 1959, Saura shot his first important film, Los Golfos (The Hooligans) which is often compared with Luis Bunuel's Los Olvidados because of both films' treatment of lackadaisical youth entrapped by an oppressive society. The film is important because it marked the beginning of an opposition and protest to Franco policy regarding the prohibition of "art films". Thus began a tortuous artistic journey for Saura whose efforts at completing distinct films with political voices became not only a financial investment, but a philosophical one as well. This opposition to Franco policy especially characterizes early Saura films as a cinema of anguish, anger, and rebellion.

La Caza (The Hunt, 1967)

His third feature, The Hunt (1967), won Saura national and international acclaim, financial success, and continued comparison with Bunuel. The film is a tense, unsettling allegory of the Spanish Civil war and its legacy and contains elements that reflect personal, moralistic, and political preoccupations that embody Saura's films. The four leading characters in the film, three veterans of the war and a young neophyte on his first hunt, respectively represent Fascist brutality, a sense of regret, and lost innocence. In addition, the film embodies what is most important for Saura: to embrace the past, we must first be cleansed of it.

Saura’s later works were no less allegorical no forcefully political in tone and nature. 1975’s Cria Cuevros!, featuring the hauntingly beautiful child actress Ana Torrent (also see Erice’s Spirit of the Beehive), portrays a childhood struggling to latch onto innocence while the social and political upheaval of the time threatens the family’s cohesion to the very core.

Cria Cuervos! (1975)

In the film, familial relations symbolize the zeitgeist of this troubling time in Spain. The father represents Franco's regime and the destruction of traditional values while the mother is old Spain, gasping for air and terminally ill. The grandmother is the nation’s past, searching in vain for values of days gone by, and reminiscing a glory that perhaps may never be revisited. The children are the new Spain, victimized by violence and repression, but perhaps tempered to bring out a new beginning. Arguably, Saura is at his absolute height in masterful filmmaking during this time.

For anyone interested in Spanish cinema that is fiercely political and emotive, burgeoned by truth and feeling, the filmography of Carlos Saura is definitely one to watch.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Viewer Mail ... Ugh

I received this in my email last night:

Greetings from the Seattle Chapter of the FGP Fan Club!

From left to right: Jeff “Doesn’t Believe in Frank Oz” Spankmeister (President), Bobby "Wants to Slay Michael Bay" Meriwether (Treasurer), Jerrold “Pig-Eyed Sack of Shit” Durkheim, Butch "Liked Death Proof" Groves (he’s special), Bill Gates, Monty “Bratz #1” Franklin (Vice President), Kwan-Joe (Illegal Downloader), Chuck "Prefers Beta Over Blu-ray" Schnebly, and Darren “Diddles Himself” Knockwurth (Schu Historian). We love you guys! You make us laugh! We're having a Uwe Boll marathon with cake and punch party next (DELETED BY EDITOR).

Christ, not a looker among ‘em. Losers.

On that note, I’ll be away from my blog for the next week as I will be on vacation. I may share a picture or two from one of my fabulous destinations.

One of my worthless personal assistants, either the dorky dude or the airhead chick, will be posting for me. Please report any malfeasance or backtalk to me immediately.

And quit sending me pictures of dorks!

Monday, August 27, 2007

An Artifact from the Past

Over the weekend, one of my worthless personal assistants dug up this little gem while cleaning my house. Earlier in the day, I forced asked them to create some room on my ol' Northstar PC (I know, sweet) where I write this very 'Blog' for you all. He or she found this file, a film treatment written during LATE TEEN EL TREMENDO's college days.

This document is what we term in the industry as a "treatment", a crucial stage in the screenwriting process.
A film treatment gets into the meat of the story, and is an expansion of the 'pitch' or 'outline' of the what will eventually end up on the big screen. It will guide the director in creating his/her 'step outline' which details how he/she will apply his/her style to the telling of the story. At the step outline phase, the writer and director will either converge or diverge in terms of style and storytelling. Good film treatments read like a short story and there are two basic types: the original draft treatment which the screenwriter writes when he/she is laying out the story; and the presentation treatment, which is presented to the producer, director etc. The presentation treatment goes into things like character development, themes, and subtext.

So anyway, here's my film treatment for something called The Gardener which I wrote for a film writing class I don't even remember attending.

Enjoy. Or else.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Dish on FGP

My guess is that you’ve spent your entire Sunday morning wondering what’s going on with the Film Geek Primer (aka FGP). Yes, you have. Don’t argue with me!

We haven’t posted an episode in nearly two weeks and there are a variety of reasons for this. Some of us are being consumed by our day job, some of us are producing a highly entertaining and crotch-rubbingly funny blog, while the other somes of us are eating French fries and watching downloaded Painkiller Janes. Yes, it’s a rich life in the FGP.

Luckily, I am in close contact with the FGP gang and know their cell phone numbers. And their mother’s cell phone numbers. Here are actual quotes from my 6:30 AM phone check-in this morning:

  • Santo: “Mom?”
  • Dub: “Film Geek Whater???”
  • Schu: “You’ve reached Schu’s bleeplin’ answering machine, you bleep.” (He actually said “Bleep”)

So, I am beginning a weekly “Dish on FGP” segment on the blog, bringing you, my dear readers the inside scoop into the minds of the FGP brain trust. Think of “Dish on FGP” as the “TMZ of FGP”. That’ll butter your Saltines!

Here are some juicy bits of gossip my worthless personal assistants/spies were able to gleam:

  • Schu not only collects Godzilla toys, he also collects Ultraman figures! Amazing!
  • Dub once bought two Wendy’s Frosties but was only charged for one. AND they were large Frosties, and the cashier rang them up as small. AND he never told her! Shocking!
  • Santo can’t get enough of them cashews! Salty!

The reality is that we are hard at work scheduling the next two to three months of production in order to bring you quality entertainment and enlightening information about Film Geekery. We are writing, planning, rehearsing, and recruiting to get out your bimonthly fix of the Film Geek Primer.

And we do it because we know you want to see the best FGP has to offer cinema enthusiasts and because we are cool and you want to be like us and because we’re your favorite video podcast.

Quit arguing with me!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

B-Movies and Crazy Tigger

Last night I attended the American Cinematheque’s triple B-movie feature of The Werewolf, The Black Scorpion, and Monster on Campus at Hollywood’s legendary Egyptian Theater. But before I delve into the movies, let me describe the pre-screening happenings.

NOTE TO SELF: Don’t f*ck with Tigger.

A short preface to this story: not only is Hollywood Boulevard besieged by dorky teen ganstas, homeless doing shtick for change, and clueless tourists, it’s also home to a troupe of about a dozen people in costume whom I would loosely describe as “actors” who pose for pictures with the hicks. There’s a Homer Simpson, a tall Yoda, several Stormtroppers and Darths, and an occasional hot Supergirl and Catgirl. Most of them are nice to annoying to disturbingly aggressive. In fact, some of you may have heard of this story.

So anyway, my night started off with a cool evening walk down Hollywood Blvd. to the Egyptian, a mere 6 or 7 blocks from FGP HQ. I was waiting for the stoplight at the corner of Hollywood and Highland when I heard loud screaming on the opposite corner. Someone had beheaded Tigger and replaced his furry countenance with that of a lunatic. The Tigger guy was trading punches with a tourist, all the while ranting and raving. The tourist punched back and the costume guy almost took a swing at a kid. Tigger then bounced down Highland, huffing and puffing sweating like a cokehead. I don’t know if the law ever caught up with him, but I would pay top dollar for that mug shot.

So last night, being a Tigger was not a wonderful thing, and I’m hopeful for rehab in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Now, a quick rundown on the Sci-Fi flicks at the Egyptian.

Year: 1956
Directed by: Fred F. Sears
Written by: Robert E. Kent
Steven Ritch, Don Megowan, Joyce Holden

This film was director Sears’ follow-up to the fun sci-fi classic Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, and is a nice little horror piece that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten much viewing over the years. A terrified, amnesiac stranger finds himself stumbling around the streets of a northern California mountain town. After attacking a couple of the town drunks as a werewolf, he runs and takes refuge in the forest. Eventually we discover he’s a victim of experiments by two mad medical doctors who injected him with a serum that has a lycanthropic side effect. Eat that, Nexium! The townspeople round up a posse and go hunting for wolfie, guns a blazin'. The mad scientists eventually show up and decide to hunt down their mistake to cover their ass, while the sheriff (Megowan) and his fiancée (Holden) try to save the hairy stranger’s life.

Steven Ritch is impressive as the title character and brings a surprisingly emotional, physical, and sympathetic portrayal. The stark photography and film noir-ish lighting were an additional treat as we were presented with a brand new print of the film. The supporting cast was fine, and Sears maintains a serious tone to the film that didn’t slow the story or bog it down in allegory.

I was a little disappointed by the make-up effects, something the guy who talked before the film touted in high regard. Although my fellow film geeks in the audience “oohed” and “aaahed” at the make-up and transformation, I was relatively unimpressed. He looked like he slept facedown in a barber shop.

The main actress Joyce Holden was in attendance and gave a nice talk about the movie, her subsequent TV career, and how she was banged by a ski instructor during the filming of this movie. It's true!

The Werewolf is not currently available on DVD, but the film would not be a bad addition to any 50s horror collection.

In between movies, I had an awkward chat with a robotic-looking Asian woman (I think). She asked me questions about the Fifties, like if Eisenhower had died in office. That was my cue for me to go hit the can and grab a snack. When I came back, my seat was taken. I got a better seat, although the guy across the aisle from me scratched himself for like five minutes straight. Swear!

Year: 1957
Directed by: Edward Ludwig
Written by: Robert Blees and David Duncan

Starring: Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas, Carlos Muzquiz, Mario Navarro

One of my favorite sub-genres is the giant insect/animal horror picture. Tarantula, Beginning of the End, Tremors, and even Eight Legged Freaks are all fun examples. This movie takes place in Central Mexico where an earthquake has awakened a nest of gigantic scorpions and they just happen to love Mexicans. And who doesn’t? (Chris Simcox, I’m looking at you!)

Racist micro-penised xenophobes aside, the pic is a total hoot with plenty of giant insect goodness, cornball acting, good ol’ sexual innuendo, and what the hell, a mildly irritating stereotype or two. Or five. It’s all in good fun.

The effects were supervised by Willis O’Brien of the original King Kong fame. The creature work was outstanding, effective, and totally creepy. Jesus, people were eaten! And then they died! Crap. Trust me, these scorpions do not want to rock you like a hurricane.

The third offering of the evening was 1958’s Monster on Campus, which I didn’t stick around for because my eyes were getting droopy and my mistress Sweet Sleep called out to me.

B-Movies, Junior Mints, and psychotic costumed characters. Who says there’s no culture in Los Angeles???

Friday, August 24, 2007

Letters, we get Letters!

Here’s another bit I’m going to steal from Letterman: Viewer Mail!

Thank you, Paul.

My first piece of viewer mail comes from Liza in Arizona, who describes herself as a ‘true fan’. She writes:

Señor Tremendo,

Hello from Southern Arizona. I have often wondered about Luchadors. What are your hobbies and can you name some of the fabulous women you have dated? Do you have any older siblings? If so, how many and what are their ages. Can you give me a detailed account of one of your famous wrestling moves? I am teaching my young child to wrestle and she's getting better than me, and she's only 3 months old. I need help. Can you help me?

I hope to hear from you soon and to see you again on FGP.

I don’t have time for hobbies. Hobbies are for the weak. I prefer to live life, not tinker with trivialities, bother with beguilements, or deal with distractions. Wait, maybe alliteration is my hobby?

I was raised by MA TREMENDO to respect the fairer sex and thus must decline to divulge information on my lurid and varied dalliances with the ladies. In my opinion, women are the epitome of glory and should be caressed, lathered, rinsed, listened to, and spoiled like a Asian kid at GameStop. But if you insist on details, wait until the 2009 release of my newest coffee table book, EL TREMENDO’s Dames I’ve Nailed: Volume One.

The only sibling I care to mention is my estranged sister La Venemosa Mariposa who married my arch rival of 1981-1982, El Extraño. The treachery! We have not spoken in several years and the last I heard is that they made millions in Bumper Dumper futures.

For a brief time in 1977, I adopted the gimmick of the Jewish cowboy wrestler known as the Galloping Rabbi Bucky Goldstein. I got the idea after I overheard a joke on the bus one day. My favorite move back then was the “Sabbath Stretch”, a variation of the Prussian Glute Grind coupled with an Over-The-Shoulder-Boulder-Holder followed through with a Toledo Titty Twanger (not to be confused with the Newark Nipple Nuke). Oh, I was so nimble in those days! Anyway, I could only do the move on Saturdays for some reason.

An infant cannot wrestle. That’s ludicrous. She would be easily beaten. Do you have access to steroids?

Thanks for writing, Liza.

Now, if anyone needs me tonight, I’ll be at the American Cinematheque’s triple feature of The Werewolf, The Black Scorpion, and Monster on Campus. Recap this weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


The best thing about watching Superbad was not the endless vagina jokes, Jonah Hill’s gut, hearing George Michael Bluth swear, or the eerily familiar scenes recreated from TEEN EL TREMENDO’s childhood. The best thing about watching this pisser of a comedy was counting the number of shocked sighs from uptight, uninformed parents in the audience who thought they were bringing their brats to another Napoleon Dynamite. It must be sweet music to the ears of the filmmakers, which includes my new favorite comedy director Judd Apatow (40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up).

High school seniors Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) commit themselves to get booze, get laid, and get un-nerdified before they go their separate ways to college. The pair engages in a series of conversations that makes German porn sound like Strawberry Shortcake. If there's some disgusting way to describe a sex act, they do it. God love these kooky kids.

Seth and Evan set their sights on uncomfortably hot teen babes Jules (Emma Stone) and Becca (Martha MacIsaac). But first, they have to supply the hooch for Jules' teen bash and must rely on uber-geek Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and his laughably bad fake ID. And there's your plot. Hilarity ensues, and it ensues well, and if this film contributes anything to American popular culture, it's that every office lunchroom, every Xbox Live arena, and every convent will soon have it's own 'McLovin'.

While the geeky main characters engage in their alcohol and poon quest, the subplot finds Fogell trotting around town in the back of a police car with slackers-turned-legit Officer Slater (Bill Hader) and Officer Michaels (Seth Rogen). These sequences almost steal the show.

Superbad is really effing funny, and so much so that I even found myself thinking “I can’t believe he just said that”. That would be a first for me. Given that, the film slows down a bit in the middle, and given its nearly 2-hour running time, it’s noticeable. Also, Seth’s selfish obsession with getting to the party gets more irritating and obnoxious with each passing second that it nearly obliterates any identification or sympathy with him. However, director Greg Mottola nicely gets a good rhythm going as he bounces back between the main story and Fogell’s adventure, despite Seth’s screeching.

But as par for the course in Apatow’s recent work, the end result is bringing sensitive side to the sex talk, scatology, and geek angst. The film, much like 40-Year Old Virgin, covers territory that hits much too close to home for geeky guys like yours truly. Like me at that age, Seth and Evan were scared to death of women and feel laughable around them, no matter how hard they try to pimp it up. What lies beneath the insecurity, and perhaps fuels it, is an unspoken platonic love for each other. I know, gay. But in the end, they discover that the desperation to lose their virginity and the urgency to get hammered camouflages their deep feelings of friendship and fear of separation, subjects too bewildering to admit or confront.

The filmmakers re-energize the teen comedy with a careful balance of raunch and schmaltz, so much so that it’s hard to call Superbad anything but Supergood.

Monday, August 20, 2007

El T's Top Ten

Top Ten Signs EL TREMENDO’s Been Hittin’ the Sauce

10. Got a tattoo of Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, and Sergio Leone on his arm, made of fudge.

9. Crapped in mask.

8. Keeps hitting on Leona Helmsley. Too soon?

7. Screams at the top of his lungs “Ten bucks for lousy popcorn?!!!” … at Home Depot.

6. Demands to be called “Le Tremendeux”.

5. Oscar pool picks are all Jim Varney.

4. Sat through Transformers … nude.

3. Has to be constantly reminded that Robocop, Michael Corleone, and Amanda Bynes are not real people.

2. Santo’s suddenly making a whole lot of sense.

And the number one sign EL TREMENDO’s Been Hittin’ the Sauce…

1. He keeps doing the Film Geek Primer!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Welcome to the first installment of EL TREMENDO’s web diary journal writing thing. Or as they say in the internets, the Blog. I am EL TREMENDO, and I am 1/4th the team that puts together the wide world web sensation that is the Film Geek Primer (aka FGP).

FGP is about four film-loving enthusiasts who “train” the unschooled movie fan on how to spot, act like, and become a film geek. Each episode is about a specific topic that we outline, wisecrack, and display our utter brilliance (and incompetence) explaining. But don’t let my shilling cloud your judgment, check out FGP for yourself.

Back to Me. Fun facts about ‘Locuras Del Tremendo’.

This blog will be daily. This blog will have pictures. This blog will not be boring. This blog will occasionally feature answers to viewer mail, mild to graphic nudity (God willing), and all varieties of curse words. (Naughty!) This blog will dish the latest news on the FGP gang: their mastery of film language, their fascinating insights into the world of art and entertainment, and their arrest records. This blog will talk about movies, sometimes TV, and occasionally boobies (God willing). And most importantly, this blog will detail the misadventures, the tragedies, and the triumphs of a mysterious film-loving man in a mask. He’s your buddy, he’s your pal, he’s your EL TREMENDO. Let’s start out today’s episode with some musings on myself and why the Holy Hell I’m doing this.


What do those two words mean? Easy. ‘El’ is the Spanish equivalent of the English word for the definite article ‘The’. ‘Tremendo’ is a made-up word describing the overwhelming feeling of transcending joy one experiences while hearing an incredible film score or viewing an awesome shot, the tears that roll down your cheek after an emotional epiphany on film, the laughter that roars like thunder after a finely timed comedic sequence, and the chocolately goodness that is a Ding Dong. Yum yum.

Together the two words form the crux of awesomeness that is EL TREMENDO. Your familiar candle in a dark unknown room. Your homeward beacon in a furious storm. Your Reese’s Pieces caught between your toes. Yes, humor comes in threes.

Basically, I like the movies. I like them Hollywood/ foreign, corny/intellectual, low-brow/elitist, dubbed/subtitled, classic/modern, realistic/absurd, geeky/cool, enlightening/stupefying, escapist/down-to-earth, independent/corporate, bad/good. And this here blog will touch upon all aspects of my love/hate relationship with the movies.

But I haven’t always been EL TREMENDO. Yes, believe it or not, I was once TEEN EL TREMENDO, and before that LITTLE EL TREMENDO. Out of respect for my mother, MA TREMENDO, I won’t go into the adventures of FETUS EL TREMENDO. In future episodes I intend to not only muse on the happenings of the day, comment on recent film offerings, but also lay out the foundation of the EL TREMENDO biography that will entertain, bring joy, and usher nausea to my dead dear readers.

OK. So that’s enough for now. I’m going to post this and shortly follow up with an entry on Tuesday, August 21st.

Until then, stay Tremendous.