Friday, September 25, 2009

Sharon Tate's Killer Dead at 61

By Steve Evans

Sharon Tate's unborn child would be 40 years old this month if she and her baby had not been stabbed to death on Aug. 9, 1969, by a woman named Susan Atkins.

Tate (left) was married to Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski and was pregnant with his child when she was murdered.

For those of you who don't remember or were not born when it all went down (and the sixties came to a crazy conclusion), Susan Atkins was a follower of Charles Manson. Now, little Charlie Manson had already spent more than half his life in various prisons when he was finally incarcerated for leading a cult of drug-addled misfits to murder in furtherance of a half-assed revolution during the humid days of August, 1969, effectively killing the spirit of the 1960s and forever tainting a classic Beatles album with his feverish interpretations of Helter Skelter.

By her own admission, Atkins (in her mug shot, lower right) was blitzed on LSD when she murdered the Hollywood starlet and participated in the killings of at least six other individuals on Manson's orders, all stemming from the cult leader's chimerical belief in Helter Skelter -- what Manson deemed a "race war" that would result when blacks would revolt against whites -- leaving him in charge of a New World Order. All of this was "prophesied" by Manson's deranged interpretations of lyrics in the Beatles' classic White Album from 1968.

You need only see photos of Manson to know the score. He was clearly insane in 1969 and remains so to this day at the age of 74. It's not really necessary to check out the Swastika that bug-eyed Charlie carved into his forehead. (In the photo below, right, Manson passes behind Atkins during their 1970 murder trials.)

Susan Atkins died Thursday in a California prison hospital of complications related to brain cancer after being denied parole 13 times. She lost a leg to amputation in recent years as a result of her cancer. She appealed for parole again last year under California's merciful release laws for terminally-ill prisoners and was turned down by the state parole board. Again. Despite her pleas for mercy.

Susan Atkins showed no mercy for Sharon Tate, who was just beginning to gain recognition as a serious actress after mostly frivolous roles in films such as Valley of the Dolls and her husband's horror-film spoof, The Fearless Vampire Killers (both 1967). Atkins hacked Sharon Tate with a knife and later testified that the starlet had begged for the life of her unborn child until both of them were dead. The coroner's report noted that Tate was stabbed 16 times. Five of the wounds "in and of themeslves" were enough to have been fatal, according to the autopsy report.

Atkins said she scrawled the word "PIG" on the front door of the house Sharon Tate lived and died in, at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon outside Los Angeles. The letters were written in Sharon Tate's blood.

LIFE magazine published pictures of Roman Polanski inspecting the murder scene and one image (left) of the director seated outside the house near the front door with the faint lettering P-I-G down the middle. He appears as a man haunted, mere feet from the fading, rust-colored blood of his dead wife.

The images were taken shortly after Polanski returned from London, where he was preparing to shoot a film when he received the news his wife and child had been murdered. If Polanski had been in the house that night, there would be no Chinatown (1974) or Tess (1978), based on Thomas Hardy's immortal classic Tess of the D'Ubervilles. Polanski never would have won an Academy Award for directing The Pianist (2001). Such are the vagaries of fate.

More importantly, Sharon Tate would be 66 years old today. Her baby boy would be 40.

Atkins claimed she became a born-again Christian during her 39-year stay as a guest of the California penitentiary system. She renounced Manson and expressed remorse for her crimes.

And yet.

I am reminded of the closing line in the film Se7en (1995). William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) intones softly in voiceover before the credits roll:

"Ernest Hemingway once wrote, 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.' I agree with the second part."

Copyright © 2009 by Cinematic Cteve // dba Cinema Uprising. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Disney Chairman Resigns; Paltrow Vanishes

By Steve Evans
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Richard Cook tendered his resignation Friday.

"I have loved every minute of my 38 years that I have worked at Disney ... from the beginning as a ride operator on Disneyland's steam train and monorail to my position as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios," Cook said in a statement. The executive's departure was effective immediately.

Disney President and CEO Robert Iger in a statement said that Cook's work had "significantly impacted Disney's great legacy."

Neither executive offered an excuse for Chicken Little (2005).

In a bizaare, unrelated incident on a Los Angeles playground, Oscar® winner Gwyneth Paltrow mysteriously vanished while sitting on a see-saw. Uncorrorborated witness reports indicate Rosie O'Donell ran onto the playground with a carton of Häagen-Dazs and plopped on the opposite see-saw, catapulting Paltrow into space.

Copyright © 2009 by Cinematic Cteve // dba Cinema Uprising. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scorsese's Shutter Island Shoved Back 4 1/2 Months

By Steve Evans

Paramount Pictures will push back the release date of Martin Scorsese's hotly anticipated psychological thriller Shutter Island by 4 1/2 months to Feb. 19. The film was originally slated to hit theaters Oct. 2.

The suits at Paramount hinted in a statement about exorbitant marketing costs for Scorsese's adaptation of the Dennis Lehane period novel. It's a corker of a tale with a (too-clever-by-half) twist ending: a U.S. marshall investigates the disappearance of a murderess on an island institution for the criminally insane off the coast of Massachusetts. Scorsese's adaptation is undoubtedly an expensive picture, headlined by Leonardo DiCaprio with supporting work from Sir Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow. Truth is, Paramount is reportedly pumping a lot of green money into Peter "I ain't no hobbit" Jackson's The Lovely Bones, a grim little picture based on the 2002 novel by Alice Sebold, whose story follows a teenage girl raped and murdered and who later feels compelled to tell her tale from beyond the grave. Jackson's cheery movie doesn't come out until Dec. 11, so Paramount's dark hints about saving marketing dollars on Shutter Island until next year don't make a lick of sense.

Worse, releasing Shutter Island in February makes the picture and Scorsese & Co. ineligible for Oscar gold until 2011. Now, Academy voters have notoriously short memories. It's not likely they'll be thinking about a Scorsese thriller released in February 2010 when it comes time to vote for the Oscars in January 2011. The last time a winter release ran amok at the Academy Awards was 1991 when The Silence of the Lambs cleaned up a bloody mess with best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay statuettes.

So what the hell is going on here?

At Cinema Uprising, we've got all the faith in the world that Marty Scorsese will deliver the goods. Has the man ever made a bad film? But the truth is, February is a dumping ground for all the movies that Hollywood studio executives think will tank at the box office anyway. They run perceived garbage to the cinematic landfill from late January through February, book their financial losses for the first quarter, then shrug and promise shareholders the rest of the year will be better. And you know the suits at Paramount have all seen Shutter Island. Somebody got cold feet after the original marketing push was underway. Hell's bells: my local AMC theater already has promotional posters the size of a Buick hanging in the lobby.

Lordy, I hope I'm wrong. I'm just sayin' it doesn't sound good....

Copyright © 2009 by Cinematic Cteve // dba Cinema Uprising. All rights reserved.