Alamo Drafthouse Returns a Forgotten Insane Film to the Screen

Categories: Film and TV

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Pictured: family entertainment, apparently
What's the craziest film ever made? Eraserhead? El Topo? How about A Serbian Film, Hausu or the second Human Centipede? Nope, the craziest thing ever committed on purpose to celluloid is a 1981 family film that Drafthouse Films has brought back out into the light of day.

Roar is the story of a naturalist named Hank (Noel Marshall) who has been living in a palatial home in Africa for three years with wild cats on a research grant. His home is free range for lions, tigers, leopards, pumas, cheetahs, panthers and even a baby liger. His estranged wife and children are coming to visit him there, but end up trapped in his house alone as the cats run amuck.

Now I know what you're thinking. That's a great premise for a horror movie. I couldn't agree more. The thing is, though, Roar has absolutely no idea that it is a horror movie. It totally thinks that this is indeed a family-friendly comedy. It's honestly as if the people who made Cannibal Holocaust thought they were making Swiss Family Robinson.

From the very first seconds of the opening we wee Hank tooling around in Africa on a motorbike interacting with the cats. These were untrained and unscripted in an era where the idea of CGI wildlife might as well have been black magic. No, it's just literally Noel Marshall constantly being tackled and bitten and scratched while saying "It's OK" over and over again while trying to convince his horrified co-stars that this is a perfectly normal thing to do.

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TUTS Underground Announces its 2015-16 Season Complete with Bonnie and Clyde

Categories: Stage

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Photo by Christian Brown
Waiting for Johnny Depp was one of this past season's offerings from TUTS Underground

After trying out Sweet Potato Queens in a staged reading earlier this year, Theatre Under the Stars' TUTS Underground has decided to go all in, and present the work fully developed in its next season.

In addition, TUTS Underground plans a play on Bonnie and Clyde, a meeting of a grumpy man and the Little Match Girl, and what it describes as "the ultimate teenage popularity contest (hair scrunchies included." All performances will be in Zilkha Hall at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

"I am excited to announce the innovative musicals that we have lined up for the third season of TUTS Underground- A Theatre Revolution," TUTS' Artistic Director, Bruce Lumpkin said in a press release.. "This year, we continue to uphold and expand our original mission--to bring revolutionary, edgy, and affordable musicals to Houston. We want to enrich the local artistic community by continuing to produce relevant musical theatre, incubating new works and staging unique, pioneering shows which will set the scene for musical theatre of the future. I invite Houston to join the revolution."

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Bamford and Katz Headline an All-Star Comedy Lineup at Moontower

Categories: Comedy

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Comedian Jonathan Katz of Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist Live
From April 22-25, weirdoes and stand-ups alike will converge in Austin for the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival. The four-day excursion will feature the comedy stylings of national headliners like Patton Oswalt (Netflix's Bojack Horseman), Maria Bamford (Netflix's Arrested Development), John Mulaney (Fox's Mulaney) , Wanda Sykes (Amazon's Alpha House), Marc Maron (IFC's Maron), Ron White (Blue Collar Comedy), Pete Holmes (TBS's Pete Holmes Show) and TJ Miller (HBO's Silicon Valley).

Bamford, for one, doesn't know whether she should be categorized as 'Comedy' or 'Oddity.' "You know, I would like to say that I'll go to whatever category I'm welcome in. Whichever one gets people to go, 'Yeah, you fit there'."

Jonathan Katz believes he has an intrinsic understanding the of the Oddity aspect of the festival due to his unique upbringing. "Part of my youth was spent in upstate New York, where my grandfather had a low budget freak show," Katz deadpans, with his trademark pauses. "He had a bearded man. He couldn't afford Siamese Twins, so he had two guys with a joint bank account. And no fat lady. He just had a woman that was pre-menstrual."


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The Best of Houston 2015: The 10 Best Dog Parks in Houston

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Photo by Olivia Flores Alvarez
Elizabeth Glover Park

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes; so do dog parks. Houston has tiny, barebones parks, huge, well-equipped parks, parks with shade, parks with no shade, parks in the middle of the city and parks in the middle of other parks. Where you take your dog for its daily exercise and recreation depends on location, sure, but with as many parks as Houston has, owners usually have a choice of two or three nearby parks. Here are our top ten. Did your favorite make the list?

10. Elizabeth Glover Park
1400 Elgin

Elizabeth Glover Park is officially the smallest park on our list (taking the honor away from T.C. Jester). It's tiny and relatively unadorned. Bark chips are used as ground cover (based on the holes and piles we saw on our last visit there, bark chips are fun for dogs who like to dig). There are two double-gated entries...and that's it. No benches. No shade (unless you count the shadows of the office buildings directly west of the park).

Outside the fenced area, there's a small lawn of lush grass with an "exercise platform" at one end (we thought it was an outdoor stage). A line of robust native grasses and bushes create a bit of a barrier between park and the always-busy Elgin Street; there's a small noise factor.

So how did this tiny, barebones park make our list? Location, location, location. It's perfectly situated to serve the growing number of Midtown residents. Another big plus is the fact that the park is right across from a busy fire station (the wailing sirens are big fun for the dogs every time the fire trucks race out).

This story continues on the next page.


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Netflix's Daredevil May Be The Best Marvel Comic Adaptation Yet

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Photo courtesy of Netflix
Matt Murdock: an attorney who'll fight for *you*.
Netflix has garnered mostly deserved praise for its original programming. "Mostly deserved" because for every Orange is the New Black or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt there's a season three of House of Cards (you know what this show needs? More brooding Doug Stamper) or final episode of The Killing ("Holder, you complete me!").

And when it comes to comic book-to-TV adaptations, DC Comic has largely held the advantage over Marvel. The Flash and Arrow are consistently entertaining where Agents of Shield continues to dragged down by having to tie in to the MCU. Sure, Gotham has that growing stink of desperation and it looks like NBC is going to cancel Constantine, but in general, the formula holds.

But as Julius Caesar once (probably) said, nothing lasts forever. Last weekend, the 13-episode run of Marvel's Daredevil dropped and, having watched every episode (after previously enduring that 2003 Ben Affleck atrocity), I feel safe in saying it's one of the best TV shows -- comic-related or otherwise -- to debut in recent memory.


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Mamma Mia: It's Hard Not to Sing Along at This Silly but Fun Show

Categories: Stage

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Photo by Joan Marcus

The set up:

Confession. I am the only person on the face of the earth who has not seen Mamma Mia. OK, that may be a wee bit of an exaggeration, but it's not far off. At least not in the theater world. The jukebox musical featuring the music of the Swedish band ABBA (music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and book by Catherine Johnson) has played in more than 40 countries on all six continents, selling strongly everywhere it goes. Following its successful debut in London's West End, the show opened on Broadway in 2001 and after almost 14 years it will finally shutter for good this fall, some 5,765 performances later.

So why haven't I seen it? It's not as though the plot is any more or less ridiculous than many other musicals out there. Certainly no more ridiculous than the 1968 film, Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, starring Gina Lollobrigida that the Mamma Mia story was lifted from. Living on a Greek Island are Sophie and her mom Donna. Sophie is about to get married but has no idea who her father is. Mom's not telling. So Sophie reads her mother's diary and whittles her paternity down to three possibilities. Secretly she invites the men to the wedding where all the fun begins when they realize why they've been summoned.

Sure it's a silly conceit, but that wasn't what was keeping me away. Certainly the music isn't the problem. It's not like I'm above shaking my tail feathers to an ABBA song now and then. I would venture that many of us have a secret or not so secret ABBA guilty pleasure lurking in us.

Truth is, I envisioned the whole thing as one big disco-fuelled, elation-filled, retro loving, campfire singalong and for one reason or another it made me itchy. But, enough of that nonsense. Time to grow up, be a big girl (a dancing queen perhaps?) and see what all the fuss is about. Better late than never - that's the name of my game!


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FX's Hillbilly Noir Justified Was the Forgotten Prestige TV Show

Categories: Film and TV

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No show wears its love for language and land more proudly than FX's Justified, which ended its six-year run on April 14. Based on a novella by Elmore Leonard and starring squinty-eyed sex symbol Timothy Olyphant, the hillbilly noir never received the critical adulation or the audience one might expect for such a consistently moving and entertaining series. Boasting some of the best writing, acting, directing, and mythologizing anywhere on television, Justified left the innovations and the boundary-pushing to its more self-serious Golden Age cohorts, delving instead into the familial histories and economic dysfunctions that make its setting, Kentucky's Harlan County, such a dangerous place to call home.

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UH's Center for Creative Work Presents the Annual Dionysia Festival

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Courtesy of the University of Houston
Chroniclers, from left to right: Jacob Mangun, Phoebe Dantoin, Stephen Swank

As sad as it is to say, war is a huge part of the universal human experience that dates back all the way to the first relatively small social groups that our ancestors created. So, what could be a more relevant title for a festival that pulls together the ancient and the modern than "The City at War -- A Possession for All Time?"

The festival, hosted by the University of Houston's Center for Creative Work, features a new interpretation of Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War" by John Harvey, director of the CCW. The center is part of the Honors College and is focused on interdisciplinary arts and aesthetics.


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Wolf Pack Invades Historic Heights Theater; Balance Is Restored

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Sheila Swift Kahé
"Wolves" by Rachel Schwind Gardner in a scene from production of the video, "Rewilding: Volume I, The Heights"

Wolves are the central theme in Rachel Schwind Gardner's Rewilding exhibit, where the artist puts forth the argument that balance can be restored to ecosystems if we allow the reintroduction of non-human animals to their natural lands. Her life-size papier-mâché wolves take center stage in an artfully arranged tree limb and moss arbor courtesy of Max B. Harrison, who co-owns Gallery M Squared along with Michael P. Kubis. The wolves climb stairs, howl at the moon, play with bones, lie on their backs or curl up to sleep, all under the watchful eyes of the wolf family trilogy painting SOULcry.

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Houston's Vampire Court Gathers For a Pagan Sumbel

Categories: Random Ephemera

As we explained in this week's cover story, Houston's population of real vampires, those individuals who believe they must feed on the psychic energy created by other living beings to maintain their own sense of physical and emotional well being, are a diverse group.

While modern vampires tend to share some similar beliefs about the nature of that psychic energy exchange, they often follow other spiritual traditions outside of those directly associated with vampirism. Many of Houston's vampires also self identify as pagans, rejecting conventional religions in favor of various forms of polytheism that often include magical practices as part of their observance.

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