R.I.P. (Bill of) Onar Films

The promised regular updates in April didn’t happen and you don’t have to expect them to return this month either. The Avenue will have to update whenever I have a free moment. I don’t mind the busier life as much as I hate the fact of missing important news. Like the death of Bill Barounis in October. Bill was the man behind Onar Films, a small Greek company releasing Turkish cult movies from the 60s and 70s. I say “releasing”, but Bill liked to call it “saving them from obscurity”. Bill’s real name was Vassilis, but he preferred using the American-sounding name Bill to his international customers (he also sold videos on eBay as “deathland”) and correspondents, so in his honour, I’ll stick to Bill throughout this article.
The last I’d heard (from the man himself) was that he’d ended up in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke (caused by a brain tumor). Even that didn’t stop the man from dreaming about a next release.

In his short life, Bill gave 13 dvd releases to the world under the name of Onar Films. He was the mastermind behind the company and got the help from three other people. Bill outlived Metin Demirhan and now, the two remaining men, Turkish director Kunt Tulgar and film journalist Ali Murat Guven, do their best of sell the remaining stock of the Onar Films releases. All the money earned from this will go to Julia, Bill’s widow and their child.

Regular releases cost 25 Turkish lira (approx. 11 euro/14 dollar) and double bills are available for 30 lira (13 euro/17 dollar). You can contact Ali at onarfilms.lastfilms@yahoo.com if you’re interested in a title.
All the movies are down to their last 90 copies or less, apart from Cellat which is finally sold out. If you’ve always wanted to get your hands on dvd releases of Turkish Spiderman (3 Dev Adam), Turkish Superman, Tarzan in Istanbul, Turkish James Bond (Altin Cocuk) or Turkish giallo movies, it’s thanks to Bill that this became possible.

The website to go to is in Turkish, but you can mail them for further information and you’ll get a reply in English (including an estimate of the shipping costs to your country). The link is here, and if you can’t see the list of movies, click on “Filmler” in the tab under the introduction.
I have contacted Ali and he told me they’re trying to get all the stock from Greece to Turkey, but they can only take as many as Customs control allows them. That’s why three of Onar releases will only become available in May. They are Kadin Dusmani (a Turkish giallo), Karanlik Sular (an odd one out for Onar as it was a 90s release) and Demir Pence Korsan Adam (with a Turkish Fantomas as evil mastermind).

Throughout my time as a DV reviewer, I occasionally got my hands on a book or movie to review. I can honestly say that I’ve never corresponded by anyone as passionate about his releases as Bill. This becomes evident in the releases: the first suffered from bad English subtitles and Bill didn’t rest until he found better translators. There is a world of difference between the first and final release of Onar Films. That in itself is enough proof that Onar Films was a labour of love. If you can spare some money, this may be a good way to spend it on. The movies will not be pristine (Bill often worked with the only available prints in order to get something on dvd that was as decent as it could get), but it’s impossible not to watch a dvd of Onar Films and feel the dedication put into this project. If you’re unsure about the films, “Onar Films” is a tag at the Avenue now, so you can get some further information on the movies.

In one of the mails Ali wrote about Bill (which I found on a forum), he wrote: “If you don’t have a deep love for the trash genre, you cannot be a second Bill.”

Bill Barounis will be missed.

R.I.P. Juan Piquer Simon

“He makes [films] because he loves making them, whatever the outcome.”

That would be the best way to describe J.P. Simon (as he liked to call himself on his foreign releases). Simon was the director of Slugs, Pieces, Les Nuevos Extraterrestres and Supersonic Man.

A clip from his E.T.-like movie is featured in this montage (fast forward to 1:20 if you must). Here’s a homemade trailer for Pieces. It’s quite gory, but should make you realize the man made more than Supersonic Man.

R.I.P. Edward Woodward

Edward Woodward as The Equalizer

This is too important (and sad) not to use as an update.

Veteran actor Edward Woodward has died aged 79, his agent has confirmed.

Woodward is best known for his roles in The Equalizer and The Wicker Man.

BBC’s obituary

Robin Hardy, who directed The Wicker Man, said of Woodward: “He was one of the greatest actors of his generation, without any question, with a broad career on American television as well as British film.
“He was the absolute star of The Wicker Man. He was an extremely nice human being.”

The entertainment pages turned into an obituary magazine

Normally a visit to the entertainment pages of local news provide you some information about what’s going on with the movies, the films, the books etc. Not today.

Of course the news of Michael Jackson‘s death is the main news on the entertainment pages. The death, the legacy, the controversy… smeared out on several pages.

Just underneath, the suicide of a local singer. She (37) killed herself yesterday, allegedly by hanging herself in the woods. The singer and tv host couldn’t cope with her recent divorce and the potential prospect of losing her tv programme. The death, the legacy, how you can prevent yourself from committing suicide… smeared out on several pages.

All this leaves you with the final page… oh, Farrah Fawcett… also died. One page. Sorry dear, there’s no more space.

Makes you feel bad the sun is shining and it’s hot.

Be seeing you: Patrick McGoohan has died

 Patrick McGoohan, best known for being The Prisoner in the eponymous tv series, has died this week. He was 80 years old.

The impact of The Prisoner shouldn’t be underestimated. First aired in 1967, the series was so disturbingly odd ITV decided to cut the series short to 17 episodes. The final episode, which should’ve answered all the viewer’s answers, was made confusing and weird by McGoohan thousands of viewers wrote to ITV, demanding to be explained the series finale. ITV sent letters to all the viewers who’d requested some sort of explanation, explaining the final episode as good as they could. The deliberate confusion was McGoohan’s kneejerk reaction to cutting his ‘baby’ short. The Prisoner remains one of the most personal tv series ever made: not only was it the brain child of McGoohan, he also starred in it as “Number Six” and wrote as well as directed some of the episodes.

The Prisoner was conceived at a party, where McGoohan was talking about his role as a spy in the series Danger Man. At one point the question arose what would happen to spies when they’d retire, a question that sparked off the cult series.

McGoohan was considered for the lead role in Dr No, before Sean Connery was cast as James Bond. McGoohan shouldn’t feel sorry for this: he had a wonderful career in television and the cinema. The actor managed to win two Emmy awards for his guest roles in Columbo, the first time in 1974 and once again in 1990.

His filmography includes Escape from Alcatraz, the David Cronenberg movie Scanners and a memorable role in Ice Station Zebra.

The actor died in Los Angeles after a short illness.

R.I.P. Don LaFontaine

Don LaFontaine, the man who provided the sonorous voice for more than 5,000 movie trailers, died Monday at age 68.

LaFontaine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications from a collapsed lung. He had been taken to the hospital Aug. 22 with a blood clot in the lung.

LaFontaine was known as the “king of the movie trailers,” having done the trailer voiceovers for films such as Terminator, Fatal Attraction, Cheaper by the Dozen, Batman Returns and his personal favourite, The Elephant Man.

His baritone voice and melodramatic delivery are famously associated with the oft-repeated movie trailer phrase, “In a world…”

More from that CBC article here.

And then there’s this short documentary on YouTube:

R.I.P. Stan Winston

Stan WinstonStan Winston, an Academy Award-winning special effects and makeup artist, died Sunday after a long struggle with multiple myeloma. He was 62. He won four Oscars in the special effects and makeup categories for his work in Aliens, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park.

But if you take a closer look at Winston’s filmography, you’ll spot a great number of cult movies the man worked on. His later work may be better known movies, but his career started in the 70s with Gargoyles.

A (by far in no way complete) selection of his output as make-up artist includes The Bat People, Mansion of the Doomed, An Evening with Diana Ross (no really), Zoltan, The Exterminator, The Entity, The Hand, Dead and Buried, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Edward Scissorhands and Tideland.

He was also responsible for the special effects of these movies (again, this is only a selection – if you want to see the entire list, follow the IMDb link above): Aliens, Predator, The Monster Squad, The Terminator (and its sequel) and the quite curious 80s television show, Manimal.

He even directed a couple of things (of which I’d like you to forget Michael Jackson’s Ghosts), with Pumpkinhead as the best known movie.

The death of special effects people never gets as much attention as the death of an actor or director, but if you look at Winston’s work, you’ll see this obituary was more than deserved.

I will leave you with a link to the man’s site.