Scary Movie Challenge 2017: Part 3

10 more movies down in the challenge. Another horrible week of real world news to live through. I feel befuddled.


317 10/10 At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964) 3/5   The Coffin Joe myth starts here! Long whispered about, long desired by me, and I have to admit, it’s a bit of a let down. It’s not bad for what it is, more a case of not knowing what to expect. Coffin Joe the character is more of a prick than a macabre genius. The blasphemy I’m guessing plays better in 1960’s Brazil. That said, it’s fun and surprisingly graphic for the era so I’ll give it a three out of five.

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318 10/12 This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967) 4/5   This one was a huge improvement over the last. Coffin Joe still is looking to sire a son in order to achieve immortality. Joe’s main character trait is still mostly that of being a giant prick to everyone, but the film packs in more style and gimmick – including a genuinely brilliant colour sequence- to really put it over the top.

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319 10/12 Get Out (2017) 4/5   I loved this one, a perfect twist on paranoid thrillers. Others better versed than me can comment on a the racial politics. I’ll just say that if you took race out of the picture, it would still be damned fine. As it is, it’s fantastic.


320 10/13 Embodiment of Evil (2008) 3.5/5   40 years after the last picture, Coffin Joe is back and he is NOT messing around. Marins is back in the role and the director’s seat, and the character is still on his mission to have a son. Marins does not hold back though, amplifying the gore and ugliness like you would not expect. It works though, and I have to admit this ended up being a much stronger trilogy than I expected it to be.


321 10/13 Billy The Kid Versus Dracula (1966) 2.5/5   Exactly as advertised. Dracula is buzzing around the old west and ends up preying on Billy’s fiance. It’s ridiculous, John Carradine is awarded no favours as Dracula. It is “Fun-Bad” though, and we discover that while bullets won’t stop a vampire, a gun chucked to the face will drop one cold.


322 10/14 Waxwork (1988) 3.5/5   First time seeing this one since it came out and I know I enjoyed it a lot more than I did before. In my mind most of this era was garbage, but revisiting them I’m enjoying them a bit. There’s nothing really exceptional or scary, they’re just fun little movies. This one uses a wax museum as an excuse to use the exhibits as sketches of other horror tropes. It does it’s job and that’s all it needs to do.


323 10/14 Waxwork II: Lost In time (1992) 2.5/5   All the goodwill earned in the first film is lost on this one. Instead of playing with horror tropes, they attempt to spoof other films (In particular the Evil Dead series) and it makes for a terrible sequel to a film that was fun but no masterpiece in the first place. You’re in trouble when you cast Bruce Campbell is a small role in your comedic horror film and it brings no laughs.


324 10/14 Creepshow 2 (1987) 2.5/5   I’ve just never warmed to this one. It’s not terrible, it’s more a case of none of the stories being as interesting as those in the first one on top of what appears to be a significant budget cut so it doesn’t look that good either. First and last segments are fine for what they are, with THE RAFT being the weakest.


325 10/14 Kong: Skull Island (2017) 3.5/5   I had a little bit of trepidation going into this one after that last Godzilla movie that never wanted to show the monsters. Thankfully, they don’t mess around with this one and they get to the monster stuff quick. It makes for a fun picture and John C. Reilly is a gift to be treasured.


326 10/14 Dark Dreams (1971) 2.5/5   Young newlyweds get a flat tire and knock on the door of a witches coven in this early hardcore effort. Sadly nothing much happens. It manages to be both ambitious and not very good at the same time.

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Scary Movie Challenge 2017 Part 2

I know I said I would post these every ten films and I’m over again. It was a long weekend, so it made sense to include a full day instead of half a day. It’s my blog, I do what I want!


304 10/07 Nightmare Honeymoon (1974) 2/5   A woman is assaulted on her honeymoon and her husband acts like a prick about it. This one looks like a vengeance thriller of the era, but it just plods along never really spooking or entertaining.


305 10/07 Kiss of the Tarantula (1976) 2/5   Another find from TCM Underground that is no great shakes. A young woman uses her beloved spiders to get even with those who would hurt her. Another one that isn’t really bad, just never gets really good despite adding in a little sleaze.


306 10/07 The Bad Seed (1956) 4/5   Really enjoyed this one. You know going in what to expect, so in lieu of surprises it’s more about watching things play out. And things do play out. Patty McCormack plays the most devious little shit ever seen on film, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun watching everyone twist around her. Despite knowing the premise, there are some surprises to be had and the film is surprisingly grim for the era. Worth checking out.


307 10/07 The Intrusion (1975) 3/5   Nasty hardcore feature about a wife assaulted by a home invader posing as a travelling salesman. This genre is sleazy enough without being hardcore so it really gets uncomfortable watching it. Which makes it a success.


308 10/08 Death Watch (1980) 3/5   Harvey Keitel stars as a reporter that has cameras implanted in his eyes so he can follow a woman as she goes through the stages of dying for reality TV in the near future. More Sci-Fi/Drama than the thriller it sounds like, but a pretty solid offering all the same that goes more into character examination than exploitation.


309 10/08 Alice Sweet Alice (1976) 3/5   This is one of those films that always kicked around the cheap bins so I always glossed over it despite the Brooke Shields being the draw. She’s barely in it as far as I can tell, and the whole thing is a pretty basic slasher that doesn’t offer up much.   


310 10/08 I Drink Your Blood (Theatrical Version) (1970) 3.5/5   The drive-in classic about satanic hippies infected by rabies is far better than it should be. I mean, it’s no great shakes, but it absolutely delivers on what it promises which is what makes these exploitation films a success. From limbs being hacked off to dead goats being dragged around, it’s not for everyone but for those of us that can enjoy a dumber, gorier Night Of The Living Dead ripoff, it’s pretty great.


311 10/08 The Swarm (1978) 4/5   First off, there is no such thing as an actually good killer bee movie. That said, this one is probably the best. A all star cast featuring Michael Cain and legends Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, Olivia de Havilland among others, playing it straight and acting their asses off in a film that has billions of killer bees attacking the states, you have to respect it. It’s an Irwin Allen film, so things get absolutely bonkers by the end with the army lighting up everything with flame throwers. To fight killer bees. And it’s not the stupidest killer bee film since it doesn’t feature a scene where the bees plead to the United Nations for world peace. (That film would be the glorious The Bees.)

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312 10/09 I Eat Your Skin (1964) 2/5   This is the one that became notorious thanks to being billed with I Drink Your Blood, and I can just imagine how disappointed audiences where after viewing it. It’s an old school voodoo zombie picture with a scientist creating them as an after effect of his cancer research. Nothing exceptional at all.


313 10/09 Chopping Mall (1986) 3.5/5   In the realm of dopey 80’s horror films, you can do a lot worse than this one about a bunch of horny teens partying after hours in a mall. The new security robots go haywire and start attacking. This one is helped by its short running time, it gets to the goods quick and keep the energy going so you stay interested.


314 10/09 Blood Diner (1987) 4/5   A spiritual successor to Blood Feast, I’m rating this one a lot higher than I probably should. Two brothers grow up to follow their dead uncle’s wishes to resurrect the goddess Sheetar via a grand feast. I don’t typically like horror comedies like this, but they run absolutely wild with the dumb premise, pack it with gore and nudity and I managed to actually laugh out loud more than once at some of the jokes. It all ends up being fantastically entertaining.


315 10/09 The Driller Killer (1979) 4/5   First time watching the “Interpositive” cut, and I’m not expert enough to tell you what is added or missing. At any rate, this continues to be a favourite of mine. Abel Ferrara does not mess around, staring and playing the lead. Packed with grimy New York, from the punk music to the alleys, the whole thing simply works splendidly.


316 10/09 The Devil Rides Out (1968) 4/5   Incredibly strong Hammer offering with Christopher Lee starring as man schooled in the occult trying to save his friend from Satanic forces. Genuinely creepy and authentic feeling, even when things get spectacular. It’s great to see Lee in a hero role, and the whole thing is one of the more effective Hammer Horrors I’ve seen.

 

This bit from Blood Diner still has me laughing:

The greatest scene of all time.

A post shared by Ruz-El (@ruz_el) on

 

Movie A Day: Death Heat

The week began with literal murder threats on loved ones and ended with the heat making it impossible to sleep in a house designed to have winters not kill you. Here’s hoping you all had more fun than me.

A mixed bag. I’m on a documentary/bio-pic jag with diversions into classic films and porno. So pretty typical, I guess.


187 06/25 The Snake Pit (1948) 3.5/5  Olivia de Havilland stars in this one about a woman sent to a mental hospital with no recollection of how she got there. A doctor helps her piece together her story and it’s a little hokey. The main reason to watch this is de Havilland is absolutely amazing in it.

188 06/26 Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon (2017) 3/5   A good recap of his history of abuse. It’s horrible to listen to the stories, of course, but valuable and not as exploitative as it could have been.


189 06/26 Bettie Page Reveals All (2012) 4/5   A really well done documentary with Page (via voice over interview clips) telling her own story. There will never be a more iconic pin-up model and the doc does a great job of not only telling her story but packing in tons of pictures and footage. That said, the blu-ray disc is an abomination with one of the worst sound designs that I have ever heard. The music (which isn’t great to begins with) is mixed way too hot and often drowns out the people speaking, only to get even louder when they are not. I’m tempted to knock a star off the review but I’m guessing it’s a mix on the blu-ray and not on the film proper if viewed elsewhere. I’m hoping anyways, since it really is terrible.


190 06/27 Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland (2017) 2/5   A made for TV biopic on the pop star’s final years as told by his bodyguards. It avoids all talk of child molestation and paints the bodyguards as saints. That’s really the problem with this one, it’s hard to root for Jackson to get back on his feet when you know he’s molested children, so fuck him and his money problems, right? Chad C. Coleman from The Wire is the main lead bodyguard and he’s great. Navi is shockingly, creepily good as Jackson, but it’s just not enough to make me care about a child molester.


191 06/28 In A Lonely Place (1950) 3.5/5   Bogart stars as a down on his luck screenwriter who gets wrapped up in a murder he may or may not have committed. Bogart is great in the role, getting to play a not as nice guy as he typically did at this point in his career and Gloria Grahame more than holds her own as the inspired love interest. It’s a good film but I didn’t find myself wrapped up in it.


192 06/29 Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016) 3/5   This one was in the works just prior to both of the stars passing, so it’s a bittersweet affair that I wanted to like more. It shows their eccentric current life, but doesn’t go too deep in what brought them to this point. So if you go in not knowing too much about them, you’re going to be a little lost since they come off kooky. That said, what it does deliver, it delivers well.


193 06/29 I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole (2013) 4/5   Really interesting documentary on dancer, choreographer, pornographer and chef Wakefield Poole. I know him from the porn, he’s arguably the greatest gay adult filmmaker of all time (with his “Bijou” easily one of the greatest adult films of all time.) It was interesting to see how close he was to the front lines of gay rights though, with numerous stories and encounters with Harvey Milk and other political heros. A really well done picture, and Poole seems like the sweetest man in the world despite having a bittersweet history.


194 06/30 The Times Of Harvey Milk (1984) 4/5   Great documentary on the first gay man to hold public office in California. I was familiar with him through Gus Van Sant’s film Milk, but it was great to see the real story. A bittersweet film considering how it all ends, you get a really great sense of who Harvey was and why it was such a tragedy.


195 06/30 Pleasure Maze (1986) 2.5/5   A rather workmanlike effort of an adult film about robot hookers and their testers which is all an excuse for 80’s futuristic costumes and run of the mill sex scenes one would expect of the era. The fantastic cast helps to elevate it, but it’s no classic.


196 07/01 Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014) 4/5
Ends up the story behind the picture is as bonkers as rumoured. I’m not convinced that Stanley would of pulled the film off if he stayed on, but it is fun to think about. Sadly missing is Ron Perlman’s fantastic Brando story which can be found on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. At any rate, this is one of the better documentaries on filmmaking and worth checking out.


197 07/01 Love & Mercy (2014) 3.5/5  Bio-pic on Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson uses the trick of casting Paul Dano as young 60’s Brian and John Cusack as 1980’s Brian trying to get his life together with the help of Dr. Eugene Landy. It sounds weird, but if you have ever seen a documentary on Brian, it makes sense. This one was well done, it goes pretty deep into both the music and Wilson’s troubles, though I could see a non-fan getting a little lost and wondering what the big deal is.

198 07/01 Lovers Lane (1986) 2.5/5   The second feature on the Peekarama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that featured Pleasure Maze is less inspired and even more workmanlike. Director Duck Dumont knows how to shoot, it’s too bad he doesn’t push himself in these two features. Then again, it could be the sign of competing with  SOV 80’s wall to wall porn. At any rate, the cast helps this one, but not enough to put it ahead of any other of its like.


199 07/02 A Band Called Death (2012) 4/5   Back in the early 70’s three black brothers were inspired to move on from their funk band and start a rock group. They called it DEATH, and they were punk as fuck before there was a proper name for punk. Not the cool New York punk either, but the edgy hardcore sounds that came out in the late 70’s early 80’s. Anyway, they were completely ignored, never got their record out and finally are getting their due. This documentary is really quite fantastic as despite their name, they are such positive people and seeing them finally get some of their due is wonderfully inspiring. It’s as much a family story as it is a music doc and really worth checking out.


200 07/02 Heat (1995) 4/5   Nice revisiting this one, my first time watching the “Director’s Definitive Edition”. One of the best heist crime movies ever made, I have to admit that Pacino is as scenery chewing in this one as he is in SCARFACE. All acting sins are forgiven with the incredible LA shootout sequence that is one of the most perfectly shot action scenes you will see. It all holds up just fine and the cast listing is absolutely bonkers.

 

Mobee a dai: Is This Real Life?

I meant to get back into the sleaze since I got a big Vinegar Syndrome package, but I’m hooked on documentary films! Plus a few other things…


176 06/18 Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017) 4/5   A true crime documentary. Best you go in knowing little. A young woman is charged with the murder of her mother. It’s more complicated and sad than you can imagine.


177 06/18 De Palma (2015) 4/5   This one is little more than the director sitting down and going through his filmography with the appropriate clips showing as needed, but holy mackerel, it ends up being one of the best documentaries on film making that I have seen. Mainly due to De Palma not being shy to mention and acknowledge complaints. There’s an honesty to it that’s largely missing from these things, especially since they typically end up as special features on DVDs as opposed to feature in their own right.


178 06/20 Better Call Saul Season 3 (2017) 4/5   The prequel to Breaking Bad continues to be possibly better than the series that spawned it. It’s fun, but also one of the most emotionally brutal shows I’ve seen. Season 4 should prove to be very interesting. The performances continue to be razor sharp, it’s one of the best show’s I’ve seen.


179 06/20 Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) 3/5   Interesting documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to adapt Dune into possible the greatest film ever back in the 70’s, only to have it fall apart after pre-production was done. It’s good, but the end result is of course, “Wow, that would have been some movie, huh?” which makes it a little overkill. That said, you can’t help but get caught up in Jodorowsky’s dream and film philosophy.

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180 06/21 Beware the Slenderman (2016) 2.5/5   True crime documentary about two 12 year old girls that attempted to kill one of their friends after becoming obsessed with the “Slenderman” urban legend. The tone of this one isn’t right. It’s a terrible crime based on some incredibly stupid internet folklore, a folklore that is never spoken of in the film as corny and stupid. You can’t look at a Slenderman youtube vid without thinking how goofy it is, so to treat it as an actual threat seems dishonest. The filmmakers also spin the wheels to pad the film. You could easily cut 30 minutes out and it would be a better, tighter film. The victim and the suspects deserve to have their story told in a better fashion.

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181 06/22 Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untamed Story of Cannon Films (2014) 4/5    In many ways, Cannon was the perfect studio of the 80’s. None of their films were very good, but all of them were pretty awesome if you were a kid with a hunger for goofy action movies and what not. I have fond memories of many of the trashy films profiled here and the telling of the story behind them is pretty much perfect with no one pretending that they were cranking out amazing art. Well worth checking out.


182 06/23 Menendez: Blood Brothers (2017) 2.5/5   Lifetime takes a crack at a true crime biopic with Courtney Love of all people playing the mom. It’s not terrible, it is sleazy which makes it fun. It’s just not executed very well.


183 06/23 Never Sleep Alone (1983) 2.5/5   A not bad crime hardcore about a swinger couple in an open marriage that gets infected by jealousy. It’s not bad, it just kind of runs out of steam despite Joanna Storm stealing the film.


184 06/24 Bagboy (2015) 3.5/5   Dr. Steve Brule takes a stab at a sitcom comedy and it ends up being one of the greatest sitcoms ever produced.  


185 06/25 The Last Laugh (2016) 3.5/5   Can the holocaust be funny? The answer is no, but this doc ends up going deeper and with the help of tons of comedians really gets into joke structure and what makes something funny. It’s also great that Mel Brooks appears as ground zero for breaking all the rules.

186 06/25 Austin City Limits: Iggy Pop (2016) 4/5   My only issue is it’s edited down to an hour long episode. It’s great seeing Iggy with a band that can play anything.   

I keep thinking about that Dune documentary, and Jodorowsky’s thought that civilization is based on stories from the Bible, The Koran, The Life of Buddha, why not a movie? Why can’t a movie transform people?

Movie A Day!: The Red, Mad, Mad World

I’m a day late posting this thing this week. Sorry film fans, it’s a long weekend up here in the Great White North and it ends up that there is a never ending amount of plants and crap that need to be dug up, dug in, and replaced. I like the sun and outdoors, I’m not great at bending over so this weekend has been more chore than joy.  Here’s all the movies I watched up to this very moment since I finished the last one this morning.


145 05/15 The Red House (1947) 3.5/5   Edward G. Robinson stars in this one as the patriarch of an out of the way farm who absolutely does not want you mucking about in his woods and going near the Red House. The whole film is about what terrors may lie in those woods, and aside from some pacing issues it manages to be pretty tense stuff that fills you with a sense of doom and dread. Part country noir, part horror film, it’s certainly worth a look.


146 05/16 The Night Porter (1974) 3/5   I’ve been hearing a lot about this one for ages so it was nice to finally give it a look. Dirk Bogarde is The Night Porter, working in a hotel when he recognizes customer Charlotte Rampling as the women from the concentration camp he was abusing while working there during the war. It’s interesting and well done, but at the end of the day it’s really just an arty, serious take on “Love Camp 7” and all the other Naziploitation that was out at the time, just elevated with some fine direction from Liliana Cavani and the performances. It’s well done if not a little slow.


147 05/18 Monkey Kingdom (2015) 4/5   Disneynature hits it out of the park again with this one following a pack of macaque monkeys, centring on “Mya” and her journey from the lower class life. I knew monkeys had Alpha Males that ran the pack, but I had no idea it was a proper class system that dictated who could eat what. It was pretty bonkers and made the film even more interesting than it would of been since Monkeys are hilarious. Oh, and Tina Fey does a great job with the narration too.


148 05/19 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) 4.5/5   The Coen brothers take on Homer’s Odyssey and it couldn’t be better. Setting it during the great depression and filling it with folk music is a stroke of genius. George Clooney is perfect in the lead, the comedy rings true and the film flies by. I love this movie and it’s soundtrack. Highly recommended.


149 05/20 Walk The Line (2005) 4/5   Bio-pic on the life of Johnny Cash tracks his story from childhood to his success with the “Live At Folsom Prison” album, but it’s really the love story of Johnny and June Carter falling in love. Joaquin Phoenix does as great job as Cash, and Reese Witherspoon is a whirlwind as June. They also sing the songs and are flat out great despite nobody being able to truly mimic Cash’s voice. Get past that and this one is a real winner.


150 05/20 Pussycat Ranch (1971) 2.5/5   Star power can’t elevate this one above being pretty standard adult fare for the era. Billy the Kid needs a hideout and Mama needs cash for the ranch so they team up and turn it into a brothel. It’s played for laughs, and it mostly works, it’s just not that interesting.

151 05/21 Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) 3.5/5   I’ve been avoiding this one. The poster art and pictures of Audrey Hepburn and that stupid long cigarette holder bugged me, and I knew Mickey Rooney portrayed a horrible Asian stereotype. Ends up that this one was a pretty enjoyable romantic comedy. Hepburn and George Peppard are enjoyable as the leads and the only issue I had is it felt a little long. That said, there is no possible excuse for Rooney. That this kind of portrayal of a Japanese man was once considered even remotely acceptable is horrendous.


152 05/21 Here Comes The Bride (1978) 2/5   The second feature on the Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama disc is also by John Christopher and is even more unexceptional than Pussycat Ranch. This one finds a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary and the wife remembering all the guys she was with while pretending to be a virgin to her husband. It’s draggy and if not for legendary star Samantha Fox it wouldn’t have gotten even 2 stars.


153 05/22 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Extended Edition) (1963) 4/5   First time watching the roadshow version and I enjoyed the film even more. Most of the footage that was cut from the Roadshow to the general release is lost, so the fact that they were able to restore it to this level is remarkable. That said, it is a bit of a mess with photo’s and subtitles subbing in for some of the lost footage. I didn’t find it as distracting as I expected to find it and on a whole it’s really improved the flow of the movie. It’s truly “kitchen sink” film, completely jam packed with jokes and cameos, it’s well worth checking out regardless of the version you can get your hands on.

 

There it is.

Movie A Day!: Imitation of Jacks

Another mixed bag of a week. Sort of. I decided to watch some un-watched Criterion Collection discs this month, which lead me to watching all my David Lynch titles that are not in boxes in prep for re-watching Twin Peeks before the new series. Despite only two of those Lynch titles where from Criterion. Mix that up with some oldies and a cheeky Vinegar Syndrome title and it’s not a bad week at all.


136 05/07 The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Russ Meyer (1988) 3/5   A very well done biography on Meyer hosted by Jonathan Ross that manages to hit all points of his career included his start as a combat photographer in WWII. It also shows a clip of a possibly 8 hour documentary that Meyer was working on his own life that would of been amazing but was apparently never finished. A real shame. I would love to see a proper feature length doc on this man.


137 05/07 Imitation of Life (1959) 4/5   Lana Turner stars in this soapy melodrama from Douglas Sirk about a struggling, mature actress in New York who befriends a black housekeeper, Alice (played by Juanita Moore, and she is fantastic) and together they find success. Well, sort of, they stay in their roles based on race and that’s really what this movie is about. Alice has a real struggle with her rebellious, white passing daughter that is far more interesting than the trials that Turner has that leave her in a near constant state of helpless hysteria. You can clearly see a through-line from these style of Sirk pictures to John Waters since his characters are always in the same state hysteria. Anyway, this was pretty great since you don’t think of these sort of topics in 50’s films. Also, Sirk really is great at this stuff. He has a workmanlike sense of direction, but it’s pretty perfect.


138 05/07 Blue Velvet (1986) 4/5   After Dune floundered, David Lynch somehow got the chance to make a film closer to his sensibilities first explored in Eraserhead. It was interesting watching this one on the back of Imitation of Life since they have a pretty similar world of 1950’s like innocence, only Lynch’s small midwest town is a perverted nightmare. Jeffrey, played by Kyle MacLachlan, finds and ear in a field and becomes obsessed with solving it’s mysteries that leads him to a world of pain. Dennis Hopper is absolutely brilliant as the force of nature Frank, Isabella Rossellini is fantastic as the damage nightclub singer Dorothy and Laura Dern manages to hold her own as the symbol of everything good, the girl next door. It’s aged very well, and still holds all it’s power to remain one of Lynch’s best films.


139 05/09 Wild At Heart (1990) 4/5   David Lynch does the Wizard of Oz as a bonkers Elvis inspired road movie with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern starring as Sailor and Lula who spend most of the film either ruminating or fucking. It has no business being as good as it is. Lynch went genuinely weird with this one and it completely works. Willem Dafoe is unforgettable in his small role and it’s fun to see legends Harry Dean Stanton and Diane Ladd go a bit bonkers. Crispen Glover, man, priceless. I’m too much of a Lynch fanboy to call this one my favourite, but it just might be.


140 05/11 Champion (1949) 4/5   Kirk Douglas takes the lead in this boxing noir about a guy and his handicap brother who is on the skids so Kirk gets into the fight game for the money. It starts off pretty standard, but soon Douglas’s mercilous ambition creeps through and the emotional bloodletting eclipses what’s in the ring. I don’t think I have seen Douglas more unlikable in a movie. This one was a real treat, and recommended.


141 05/11 Mulholland Dr. (2001) 3.5/5   David Lynch’s Neo-Noir about an actress caught up in a mystery is considered a classic, but I just can’t get into it. It’s gorgeous, everyone is on point, it’s delightfully “Lynch-ian” and I can’t knock a thing about it. I have just never warmed to it. Maybe I’ll “get it” the next time I watch it.


142 05/12 Funny Face (1957) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire star in this musical about a frumpy beatnik girl that gets whipped up into the world of high fashion. Hepburn is far too adorable to be frumpy, but she’s surprisingly good in this musical and manages to steal the film with her avant-garde beatnik ballet sequence in a cafe that’s supposed to be played for laughs. Astaire more than holds his own and it’s all looking spectacular under the direction of the legendary Stanley Donen, who also directed one of my all time favourite films, Singing in the Rain. It’s crazy that it’s taken me this long to watch this one.


143 05/12 Her Wicked Ways (1983) 3/5 Jesie St. James stars as a gold digging heiress who has just inherited a billion dollars and Joanna Storm is the daughter trying to get the money back in this adult romp directed by The Lewis Brothers. It’s not the greatest adult film you’ll ever see but it’s just so well done compared to the regular fare in the period that it it ends up being pretty fun. Storm is a real scene-stealer and definitely helps to keep the film moving. The Peekarama DVD from Vinegar Syndrome is a real winner.


144 05/13 One-Eyed Jacks (1961) 4/5   The only film that Marlon Brando directed is this western. I think it’s just me but I think it’s weird that his only directed film is a western. Seems weird, right? Anyway, this is a typical vengeance tale with Brando’s Rio seeking out old partner Karl Malden’s “Dad” Longworth who ditched him during a bank robbery. It’s a gorgeous film and done with the naturalistic acting style Brando was known for and just completely works. There’s a feeling of distance and brooding that is tricky for films to nail, and the support cast featuring Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado are all perfect as well. Recommended.

One-Eyed Jacks also ended up being the last film shot in VistaVision so I managed to watch two VistaVision films over the weekend. You just never know what’s going to happen when you blindly watch stuff.  Isn’t the world marvellous?

Hold your loved ones tight.

Movie A Day!: The Immortal Joy

Hey look! Another week of movies! Who would of thought? Spring is finally hitting which meant that yesterday of this writing I was able to rake the yard. Yard work, never ending yard work. Yay for summer!

I started and ended the week with “Women stories” movies directed by men that didn’t feature pornography. Yay me! I think… they were both pretty good. Onward to movies!


112 04/23 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017) 3/5   If there is one person that mums love, it’s Oprah Winfrey. And who can blame them? Oprah seems to be the only morally grounded billionaire on the planet today. Anyway, mum was the reason for this one being watched and it’s actually pretty good. The true story of the family and the woman who gave us the HELA cells that continue to be the basis of biological studies. It’s a good movie with top notch performances. It’s a bit muddled though in that it never finds a balance between the science and the family so you never get a clear vision of either. Mum thought Oprah was just wonderful.


113 04/23 Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies (1925) 4/5 A blitzkrieg of gags from Billy Bevan allows this slapstick comedy to roar. A scientist develops cars that run on broadcast electric wave-forms that sends the petrol industry into a tizzy. Great stuff and about as close to a live action cartoon as you will find.


114 04/24 The Match King (1932)  2.5/5   Scumbag Warren William is back, this time playing a bullshitter who manages to take over the world’s matchbook industry based on dodgy bank loans without having any actual wealth or collateral to carry the debt. SOUND LIKE ANYONE CURRENTLY ALIVE AND THE PRESIDENT OF A SUPERPOWER NATION?!?!? Anyways, for a pre-code film it’s pretty tame but it never really gets off for me. There’s only so much interest to be gleaned from the match industry.


115 04/25 A Rainy Knight (1925) 3/5   A sweet little comedy about a clerk attempting to woo a woman and getting caught up in a love triangle. Not much else to say about this one. Probably most notable now for being an early work from Warner Bros. house director Lloyd Bacon who cranked out some gems in the ‘30s like Busby Berkeley’s Wonder Bar.


116 04/26 Ever In My Heart (1933) 3/5   A fine melodrama that find a loving German/American couple torn apart by racism during World War I. Barbara Stanwyck is the lead as the American wife and despite this one being a bit overblown it really works well and is unflinching in it’s depiction of the petty racism that happens during wartime.

This one wraps up the Forbidden Hollywood Vol 10 set. Again, not as strong as earlier entries in the series, but still a lot of fun. Sad that this one appears to be the final volume as these sets were good value on top of the entertainment. I’d give the set as a whole a 4/5.


117 04/27 Saturday Afternoon (1926) 4/5   Harry Langdon takes the lead on this short, playing a hapless little guy with an overbearing wife who decides to attempt to step out behind her back. Langdon is just so damned good in this, he plays everything so small in contrast to the big stuff Keaton and others would do. Even his incredibly dangerous car stunt at the end is played little. It’s hilarious and sweet at the same time.


118 04/28 The Wrecking Crew! (2008) 4/5   Documentary on the legendary studio musicians who played on all the songs you love from 60’s that came out of California. Watching this you find out they played on even more than you thought. A fantastic documentary centering more on guitarist Tommy Tedesco (played the lead guitar on Batman and Hawaii 5-0) since it was directed by his son, it’s great that it allows all the other to tell their stories. And the stories are great. Recommended.


119 04/28 Ladies Night (1980) 3.5/5   Annette Haven stars as a frustrated football widow who goes out with her girlfriends to a cheesy “Ladies Night” for some action. It’s pretty standard adult fare for the period but Haven has genuine star power and the mythical “Lewis Brother of Detroit” have the chops to elevate this one into something more than the usual with some artistic touches.


120 04/29 Joy (2015) 3/5   David O. Russell is back with his make pretend gang Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper for this one about an industrious young woman who refuses to stop pushing forward with her dreams despite the near abusive negative support from everyone she encounters. I’m torn on this since it’s really good as far as subject matter and performances go, but the tone rubbed me the wrong way. O. Russell presents this like a fairy tale with a narration, as if this woman’s story is a wonderful fantasy, because what woman would push this hard and not give up? Am I right guys? It seems really wrong headed since it is based on a true story. Presenting this story a little more straight and it would of elevated it. I don’t know, I could be wrong. People identifying as women, please feel free to tell me in the comments.

Not bad for the week, a nice variety.  I just can’t burn through those silent comedies like I would like to. Drives me crazy that it takes me two nights to watch a 20minute film due to falling asleep. It’s insulting to everyone involved! looking at this week, I wonder how much improved Immortal Life and Joy would have been if directed by women. Would they have escaped the more annoying “Woman’s Picture” traps? Any women read this blog that can comment? Am I over thinking? Over compensating?

Oh hey! Before I forget. I’ve joined the LETTERBOXD movie tracking community and have started logging my movies there. I’m going back in my list archives and have so far logged my very first movie record from the Scary Movie Challenge 2006. Eventually I will catch up to modern day and this blog, but anyone interested in all the movies I’ve seen can check it out. It\s also porn free since they don’t currently allow adult, so you have that going for you too if you hate seeing adult titles being reviewed as actual films instead of wack-off mechanisms.

https://letterboxd.com/ruz_el/

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