Tag Archives: American cinema

RIP Ben “midnight movie” Barenholtz (1935 – 2019)

Ben Barenholtz was a film producer who is best-known for financing Miller’s Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991) and Requiem for a Dream (2000).

Requiem for a Dream, one of the best drug films ever.

“Best-know” is a exaggeration, because outside of the film world he is not known at all. I’ve written about my fascination with financing of art films in a blogpost titled the “cinematic Losfeld” in which I compared these film producers with Éric Losfeld.

My comparison to Éric Losfeld is perhaps not optimal, since Losfeld worked in the shadows of legality and Barenholtz worked in the margins but not in illegality.

El Topo, the first midnight movie and an archetypal cult film

When Barenholtz was younger, he was a movie theater manager and film programmer. As such, he was famous for creating the concept of the midnight movie, the programming of cult films at midnight (because of there unsuitability for children) during the 1970s and 1980s, before VCR and video rental came and changed film consumption forever.

RIP Sylvia Miles (1924 – 2019)

Actress Sylvia Miles died. She was 94. I discovered her via the book Cult Movie Stars (1991) which I bought the year it came out. It describes Miles as a “quirky, funny, busty blonde New York character actress.”

The 1990s was the time of video rental stores and I after I had read Cult Movie Stars from cover to cover I scoured Antwerp looking for old films. So I saw a handful of Miles’ films including Heat (1972) [above], as well as many other Warhol films. Heat opens with the wonderful John Cale song, “Days of Steam” from the album The Academy in Peril (1972).

Sylvia Miles is mainly known for her part in Midnight Cowboy (1969) but she also starred in Denise Calls Up (1996), one of my canonical films.

RIP Doris Day (1922 – 2019)

Doris Day was an American actress and singer, a vivacious blonde with a wholesome image, she was one of the most prolific actresses of the 1950s and 1960s.

Excerpts from the film Pillow Talk (1959) starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson. With the songs, “Move Over Darling” and “Possess Me” performed by Doris Day.

Dubbed the “eternal virgin”, she thrived in “no sex sex comedies” full of double entendres and sexual innuendo in the final days of the  Hays Code-era but her popularity waned with the arrival the more explicit films of the sexual revolution.

RIP Larry Cohen (1941 – 2019)

Full version of ‘Q’

Larry Cohen was an American film director and screenwriter.

He is best known as a B-movie auteur of horror and science-fiction films such as It’s Alive (1974), God Told Me To(1976), Q (1982), Special Effects (1984) and The Stuff (1985), which were full of satirical social commentary.

Later in his career, he concentrated mainly on screenwriting, most successfully with the very cleverPhone Booth (2002).

RIP Dick Miller (1928 – 2019)


The Little Shop of Horrors

Dick Miller was an American actor (GremlinsThe Little Shop of HorrorsDeath Race 2000) known for his films with Roger Corman. He later appeared in the films of directors who began their careers with Corman, including James Cameron and Joe Dante.

He was, in the words of Cult Movie Stars (1991) a “scene-stealer in low-budget horror films”.

Above is the enormously amusing film The Little Shop of Horrors (1960, above) in which Miller plays a carnation-eating (“I’m crazy about kosher flowers”) regular customer of the florist in which the film is set.

Minute 34:48 has Jack Nicholson come in as a masochistic client to the dentist. That scene was later done by [1] with Steve Martin as the dentist and Bill Murray as the client.

I’ve seen quite some films with mister Miller, all entertaining, unassuming and unpretentious.