Movie A Day! 086-090 : Don’t

A blurb on the news just now showed a 30 year old cat. 30 years old. It was a cat, not a puddle of cat fur, but a live cat. I thought my old cat Dickie did good getting to 18-19. 30? I can’t get my head around it. Wouldn’t that be like living to 200? Who wants to live that long? I’m going to have nightmares.


086 03-08 Broken Oath (1977) 3.5/5
It’s international women’s day, so what better film to watch than one starring Angela Mao kicking the shit out of a bunch of guys? This one starts off pretty grim, with a woman having her husband killed, then sent to prison for his murder after she takes the eye out of one of the murderers while he tries to rape her. She ends up giving birth to a baby daughter while in jail, and that daughter grows up to vengeance obsessed Mao who learns martial arts and befriends scorpions as pets to poison those who get in her way. It’s a gonzo kung-fu flick, but a good one. My only complaint is they seem to lessen Mao’s role as it gets later in the picture when they don’t need to, she’s awesome.


087 03-09 Strangers May Kiss (1931) 3/5
Another Pre-Code classic, this one stars Norma Shearer as a forward thinking woman of the jazz age looking for love. It’s a melodrama, and soapy as hell, but delicious all the same. Not much else to say since plot wise, it’s pretty typical; woman throws away everything for a swaggering playboy, suffers for it. Shearer does a great job in the lead, showing both strength and vulnerability as the woman who can’t seem to get a break. It’s worth checking out if you like these kind of things.


088 03-12 Hi, Nellie! (1934) 4/5
This one is the third film in the latest pre-code set from Warner Archive, but it’s not much of a pre-code film. That said, it’s a hell of a newsroom type detective story. Paul Muni plays the managing editor of a newspaper who get’s busted down to writing the Heartthrob column (writing under the pseudonym “Nellie”) after miss-calling a story in which it appeared that a bank founder ran off with $500,000. It’s part daffy comedy, part investigative detective story, and one hell of a whirlwind. Paul Muni was one of the greatest actors to grace the screen, and there is nothing old fashioned about his performance here. Muni is easily ground zero for the type of performance that would be carried on by Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert De Niro, and others. Really great stuff, this one gets a solid recommend.

Creature from the Black Lagoon
089 03-13 The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) 4/5
Monster movies were out by the fifties, replaced by Sci-fi terror for the atomic age. Giant bugs, alien invaders, and the king of them all Godzilla would debut the year that Creature came out. The Creature was the last of the Universal Monsters, the last iconic character to get it’s own series of films. Archaeologists find a weird fossil of a claw sticking out of a rock, and go in search of the skeleton. This leads them to the black lagoon off the amazon, and they discover that the creature behind that claw is actually kicking around. For a rubber suit, the Creature is amazing! Tons of under water action, and the actor/stuntman playing the creature do a great job giving him character. Lots of great set pieces, goofy scientific explanations, and a pair of leads trying to outdo each other, one pulling an odd Chuck Heston vibe, the other a ruthless not quite Kirk Douglas. Well worth watching, just like all the other monster movies from Universal.

 
090 03-14 Don’t Go In The Woods… Alone (1981) 3/5
This one won’t be for everyone, or possibly anyone reading this blog. A super cheap slasher about a group of kids getting killed by a maniac in the woods. That’s the whole plot too, 4 youg people, wandering around in the woods, getting attacked. Other people, also wandering around in the woods, get attacked as well. There’s no character development, mystery, nothing, just people getting killed. The kill scenes are more ambitious than they could handle, so they throw fake blood all over the place to compensate. Hence this one became an official “Video Nasty” back in the 80’s, despite being pretty terrible. That said, if you’re a fan of the genre, this one is so completely shit that it manages to be oddly dreamlike and “good” to watch. It’s not good, it’s not so bad it’s good, it’s mostly just bad. Bad on all levels, from acting, to the effects, to pacing, to flare from the film being loaded into the camera wrong. So I don’t know why I “liked” it. The Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray is as good as this film is likely to ever look.

Some good movies in this batch. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Creature at this point. It always entertains. Beautifully filmed. I finished Patton Oswalt’s new book, SILVER SCREEN FIEND a couple days ago. It’s a memoir detailing a 4-5 year period where he was hooked, bad, going to the movies. Racking up my kind of numbers. It’s a cautionary tale. I wanted to check off the films he lists in the back. I’m in deep, the movies will be the death of me.

Advertisements

Movie A Day! 091-095: Muthas

Sorry folks, but the blog didn’t stop. I just fell a little behind and haven’t been watching as many movies. So if you have had enough, delete me from your reading programs.

I feel disconnected, so no more intro, only movies.


091 03-15 The 2015 Juno Awards (2015) 2/5
Ends up I know even less about Canadian music these days than I do about our movies. Alanis Morissette got a lifetime achievement and a woman named “Lights” was pretty good. That’s about it since other popular bands like host Hedly and best band Magic are pretty much shit. (For the record, I don’t recognize anyone other than Hedly in that picture)


092 03-20 Sexual Heights (1981) 3/5
This is one Carlos Tobalina’s better porn efforts. A group of bachelors decide to trick a babysitter over that their buddy is all hot over. It’s a dumb comedy, to be sure, but the actors are all game, especially lead Jamie Gillis who is always fun to watch in these. Being Tobalina, it’s still a hack effort with a couple of John Holmes scenes thrown in for no real reason, but Tobalina at least tries to have it make sense, which helps this film rise above his usual uninspired efforts.


093 03-21 The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015) (six episodes) 4/5
You couldn’t avoid this one this past week seeing as Durst was arrested the eve of the airing of the last episode for the murder of Susan Berman. Being a crime junkie, this was a must watch for me prior to that, and as a documentary series it mostly does a great job. My nitpick is actually the last episode. Sure, it’s a jaw dropper, I just have a peeve about directors pushing themselves into the film they are making. The last episode is as much about director Andrew Jarecki as it is about his subject, Robert Durst. I’m cranky about that stuff, don’t let it throw you off, this one is worth the watch in spades even if it is pure exploitation. To the point where part of me wants to avoid any updates on the Durst case so as not to spoil any future series.


094 03-22 Undulations (1981) 2/5
Jamie Gillis and a coked out John Holmes play themselves as guests on an entertainment show “Undulations”, the second film on the PEEKARAMA disc from Vinegar Syndrome that also features SEXUAL HEIGHTS. This one is pretty blah, basically a loop carrier that never really rises above the typical Tobalina standards. In fact, it’s so run of the mill that it uses the same credits as SEXUAL HEIGHTS, so it’s no surprise that it’s not as good as SH.


095 03-22 The Muthers (1976) 3.5/5
Vinegar Syndrome take a time out from porno sexploitation for a straight up exploitation classic.Jeannie Bell heads up a gang of pirates that are slaving around the pacific islands, and has to go undercover on a sugar plantation to sneak out one of their girls. So you get everything, blaxploitation, crappy kung-fu, women in prison jungle escapades. It’s pretty much the perfect movie.

Heavy on the Vinegar Syndrome this post. Don’t expect it to change much. Though I haven’t watched a film since THE MUTHERS.

Movie A Day! 081-085: I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

The weather seems to be changing. The grim, grey of winter is turning blue, clear and warm with spring. Plus temperatures in March. It’s weird, global warming you can feel. It makes me wary. It’s too early for it to be nice, I’m waiting for the blast of arctic air to prove it is a trick. This part of the world likes to punish you when you grow complacent. Nice spring days, I’ll stay in. You’re not going to get me.


081 03-04 Blonde Crazy (1931) 4/5
James Cagney stars in this pre-code film about a bellhop who falls for a blonde maid at the hotel he works at, and gets her to join him out on the road, conning folks out of their money. Joan Blondell is the blonde, and as per usual, she takes zero shit from anyone in a great part. Cagney was on the cusp of super-stardom when he shot this one, THE PUBLIC ENEMY would of came out earlier in 1931, so it’s neat seeing him play a bit of a wanna-be tough guy who’s only successful because Blondell is there to straighten him out. Being pre-code, Blondell gets a chance to really shine as a superior, the women are always calling the shots in these films. That’s the toughest thing about watching pre-code films now, you really see how garbage many women’s roles became after the code went into effect. They go from hunters to victims. Anyway, this one was a good one, and worth a watch if it pops up.


082 03-06 Watership Down (1978) 4/5
It’s been ages since I had last seen this, back in the VHS days. Remember those, VHS tapes? You had to rewind them? Please say yes. Anyway, this one is a cartoon about a warren of rabbits forced to look for a new home. It’s brilliant in every way, with perfect animation, voice work, and it plays it straight. It’s not for super young kids, but it they’re getting restless with Disney, throw this one on and straighten them out on the ways of the world. I want a warren on a hill. The Criterion Blu-ray is as per usual pretty great, with some really nice special features.


083 03-06 Tasty (1985) 2/5
This is the bonus film on that RIBALD TALES OF CANTERBURY disc from Vinegar Syndrome I reviewed last time. Also starring Hyapatia Lee, and directed by then husband Bud Lee, this one too was shot on 35mm, and that’s about the best that can be said of this one. Hyapatia plays a DJ at a failing radio station, so she decides to sex up the airwaves to get better ratings. It want’s to be a cheeky version of WKRP IN CINCINNATI, but it just never works with too many dumb sex scenes and not enough story to carry it. That said, the music video spoof in this is about as good as you can get for the era. As far as discs go, the quality and presentation is up to Vinegar Syndrome’s standards, I just wish the actual films were better. The commentary track on RIBALD is more interesting than the two movies.


084 03-07 20,000 Days on Earth (2014) 3.5/5
Not quite a documentary, and not really a fictional film, this features Nick Cave mostly musing about the creative process. The presentation is a bit pretentious, because this kind of thing can’t help but be pretentious, but it really delves into the process of creating unlike anything else I’ve seen. Really deep. Which is good. Unless that’s part of the fictitious presentation. I would of preferred more performance footage from through the years, but that’s not the point of this one, this is Nick Cave, 20,000 days on earth. The performances we get are gold. I think this one would be good even for non-fans, if you’re curious about Nick Cave, or if you’re into songwriting/creating music/writing, that sort of thing.


085 03-07 Lust At First Bite (1978) 2/5
This is the sex heavy, alternate cut of DRACULA SUCKS (which I reviewed last October) and boy is it a doozy. The cut of DS that Vinegar Syndrome released wasn’t perfect, but it mostly made sense and worked really well as a Dracula adaptation. This version is cut to hell, makes no narrative sense, and has a bunch of over-dubbed joke lines and what not on the soundtrack to make it more of a comedy. If the sound of farting shits counts as comedy (it does). I’m guessing to cash in on LOVE AT FIRST BITE. It’s pretty terrible in comparison to DS, I haven’t seen LOVE yet. If someone was to cut the extra sex footage into the DRACULA SUCKS to make it more consistently hardcore you would end up with possibly the greatest hardcore horror picture ever made. Jamie Gillis and all are still pretty marvelous even in this disastrous version, so it would be neat for someone to take the elements and construct a “perfect” version since this one didn’t seem to have a proper release from the get go. (Based on the commentary with William Marigold, cocaine was probably the main reason for that.)

That’s it for now. As of this writing, ISIS is knocking apart ancient artifacts with sledgehammers, and I’m watching movies of all stripes. It makes you feel helpless.

Movie A Day! 076-080: Mostly Movies

It’s that time of the week, MOVIE UPDATE TIME! Actually, I don’t have a time of week, I just do these whenever I get five titles. Is that working for everyone? I think people still read this. It’s a good time to post this, on a Wednesday. A weird mix in this one, as per usual.


076 02-28 The Ribald Tales of Canterbury (1985) 2/5
Back in 1972, Pasolini did a sexy version of THE CANTERBURY TALES as part of his TRILOGY OF LIFE, so you would think there would of been dozens of porn versions ripping it off. And there may be, but this is the one that I watched. This one is most notable as being one of the last adult features shot on 35mm film for the theaters, and watching it, that’s about it. The production value is all there, and the non-sex acting is all decent enough. The main problem is that by this point, the video era was in full swing so there is just too many drawn out sex scenes to keep the movie interesting. Vinegar Syndromes DVD is a good one though, and the director Bud Lee’s commentary is actually better than the movie. (Also, this Criterion version of the Trilogy of Life is great!)


077 03-01 MasterChef Junior Season 3 (2015) 3/5
Despite my tendency to avoid anything with children on TV, I think this one might be the best of the MasterChef programs since it forces the judges to act like human beings instead of total assholes. As an added bonus, you get the freak show of watching kids cook things you have never heard of so that you can fully realize your failure at 40 years old. So yeah, for a competition kick off cooking show, CHOPPED is still the best, but this one would be the close second.


078 03-01 The 3rd Canadian Screen Awards (2015) 2/5
For all the movies I watch, you would think I would have a pretty good handle on my countries films. NOPE!  I never heard of most of the films featured, and they all mostly looked annoying and in French so I’ll probably never see them. I watched this due to SCTV favourite Andrea Martin hosting, and she was great other than completely disappearing from the broadcast after the introduction. They really pumped out the awards, this sucker wrapped up in two hours, and had bonker winners like POMPEII winning for having been a Canadian produced film (?!?) that earned 100 million at the box office. CRAZY PANTS!


079 03-02 Port of New York (1949) 2/5
This one was a police procedural crime flick featuring Yul Brynner (with hair!) as a drug king-pin, and follows the federal agents trying to roust him. Everything is here for a good movie, it just never really kicks off like it should so it ends up being a bit plodding in the pacing. Yul is great though, but it’s not worth seeking out.


080 03-03 She-Wolf of London (1946) 2/5
I had totally missed that this was in my big Universal Monsters set, mainly because I had never seen it before! Sadly, there’s no monster in sight. Instead it a gaslighting mystery that isn’t the worst thing you’ll ever see, just an uninspired one. Especially if you’re looking for a She-wolf!

Those Canadian awards were really desperate. There was two given out for Television Drama, one for Best Drama, and one for Most Popular Drama. they should bring this stuff to the Academy awards. since Doogie was making such a big deal out of American Sniper earning 600 million, it would of been fun for Guardians Of The Galaxy to win Best Picture for making a billion or whatever.

That’s it for now. Like and share if you like this dumb blog, though admittedly, this one isn’t the most entertain entry.