Movie A Day!: Disconnected End Of The Violent Years

Here it is, the last post of 2017. All the films I watched since the last post. It’s a big one. It’s fitting though since I’ve decided to end the blog. My goal was to keep this going for the full year, and I did that. Anyone reading this can tell it’s pretty much been coasting, and that’s my fault. Better to end it than continue. I’m still going to be tracking my movie watching, that can be found on my Letterbox profile found here:

https://letterboxd.com/Ruz_El/

I’m going to attempt to pull back a bit online in 2018, and part of that will be not posting blogs where I can get personal. Anyone who read this blog, thank you from taking time out of your day to spend it here. Hopefully you found something of value or a new favourite.

I wish you all the best.

Disconnected Poster
479 12/17 Disconnected (1984) 3/5   I think this is the first feature by the team behind PSYCHOS IN LOVE, and I enjoyed it more. It’s technically a slasher, but it doesn’t play like one which helps to make it stand out. Worth checking out since it’s such an oddity.

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480 12/17 Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special (2017) 4/5   As far as I know Burnett was the only woman to solo host/have a variety show in the late 60’s that ran for 11 years. It was deadly funny, shot live with limited to no retakes and seemed to be as much a contest on which performer could crack the others up first. Amazing to watch the clips now with performers making eye contact and performing their guts out, in comparison with the SNL card reading extravaganza that passes for sketch comedy now. The clips are short, but this one makes it up with lots of remembrances from Burnett herself, who at 84 looks like she’s ready to jump back into the game.

Twenty Questions Poster
481 12/17 Twenty Questions (1988) 3/5   Documentary from Gorman Bechard shot in the 80’s but not released until now is a neat idea. Get twenty different people to answer the same twenty question cards and see the results. It goes on a little long at 60 minutes, but still, a good idea with a simple set-up.

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482 12/22 Liquid Sky (1982) 4/5   One of the more odd 80’s films. A day-glo look at the hip, underground fashion scene with drugs and assault being high on peoples list. And a UFO with an alien that gets high by fatally ingesting orgasms. It’s the type of gorgeous film that you want to just let envelope you, and more dark  than it appears when you think about it. Worth checking out.


483 12/22 The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer Season 1 (2017) 2/5   This history channel series piqued my interest since I’m obsessed with true crime and the Zodiac case is so bonkers. It ended up being goofy as hell, so ridiculous in presentation that even the cracking of part of one of the ciphers was underwhelming. Never mind the stupid super computer taught to think like the zodiac that they kept representing with a matrix-face for the extra stupid to comprehend. They basically ignore all the police work done in the past 50 years to go on wild goose chases that end up with nothing, and the final ep is a massive prick-tease for a season 2 that I’m sure I’ll hate-watch if it comes to fruition.

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484 12/22 Let’s Talk Sex (1983) 3/5   Pretty typical porn for the era, this one visualizing the phone sex fantasies of some mopes calling into a goofy phone sex lines. It’s no classic, and has a horrible dubbed soundtrack, but ends up being better than the usual.

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485 12/23 Festival (1967) 4/5   Before the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock the times they were a changing at the Newport folk Festival. This documentary follows highlights from the 1963-1966 line-ups featuring clips from everyone from Bob Dylan to Mississippi John Hurt. The only complaint is that it’s not 10 hours long with full performances.


86 12/24 Trouble No More (2017) 3/5   A film showcasing live concert footage of Bob Dylan from his Christian years. It’s cut with clips of actor Michael Shannon delivering sermons and frankly none of it works. The live footage is great, but completely without any history or context. A better and more proper documentary of this period should have been made. It’s ridiculous that there’s still no decent concert films of Bob Dylan commercially available.

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487 12/24 Farmer’s Daughters (1976) 3.5/5   Notorious porn roughie noted for starring acclaimed raconteur Spalding Gray, this one lives up to its hype. A trio of daughters assault a farm hand, only to end up on the receiving end of abuse from three escaped convicts. It’s ugly, but compelling at the same time with some editing tricks that defy it’s incompetence.

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488 12/25 Wonder Woman (2017) 4/5   In a world where all the superhero films seem to blur together, and it’s generally regarded that the DC universe post-Christopher Nolan Batman are basically terrible. So it’s nice that this one is so damn good. Gadot is fantastic as in the lead, both genuine and powerful in her depiction, the rest of the cast rises to the occasion with Chris Pine finally being appealing in a role. It’s never dips into cheesecake and I found myself getting teary eyed since it’s so rare to see women in action movies depicted like this. It’s great, I hope the director gets to do more.

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489 12/26 War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017) 4/5   Back in the 80’s, I had a ratty VHS tape in which I had the films “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Apocalypse Now” and I watched it to death. Sometimes once a week. Never would I imagine that the Apes series would distill these two films into one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Emotional, amazing action and never once did I suspect that the apes weren’t real. It’s a remarkable achievement in a series that has been way better than it had any reason to be.

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490 12/27 Donnie Darko (theatrical cut) 4/5   Second time watching this version and it finally clicked for me. Lots has been written, I have nothing to add. It’s good.

491 12/27 Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko (2016) 3.5/5   A very well done making of documentary, mainly due to dealing with the people in the production as opposed to the actors.

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492 12/27 Hail, Caesar! (2016) 3.5/5   The Coen brothers take a look at the golden age of Hollywood. It’s a little bit of a mess, with kidnapping communists and what not, but I loved it. I have a soft spot for old Hollywood and this one really nails the period.

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493 12/28 The Climber (1975) 2.5/5   “Little Joe” Dallesandro stars in this Italian crime film about an American in Naples trying to find his way in the organized crime scene. It works, but adds up to nothing all that special since it pretty much stiks to genre conventions. Everything in this will be done better in dePalma’s SCARFACE.

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494 12/29 Gimme Danger (2016) 4/5   As perfect a documentary on Iggy & The Stooges you could hope for. As far as I can tell, every frame of film of the band in its prime is in here, though sadly none with sync-sound. At any rate, the only better telling of this story is the book Total Chaos. A must see, go buy the records.

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495 12/29 Baltimore Rising (2017) 3/5   Documentary on the resistance movement in Baltimore in the wake of the Freddie Gray killing. Spends a little too much time with certain people as opposed to telling the whole story, so it’s a little hit a miss. Lays the ground for a better “Black Lives Matter” type documentary in the future.

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496 12/31 Star Trek Season 3 (1969) 4/5   After literally years, I finally knuckled down and finished watching the original series. Generally considered a step down due to budget cuts, it’s still a damn fine season and I find the cheapness adds to the surreal, alien planets. Some good ideas are explored, and one of my favourite episodes – “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”. Next year I may dive into the animated series.

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497 12/31 The Violent Years (1956) 4/5   Of all the films to watch to send off the year I had to watch this one. As far as juvenile delinquent scare films go, you can do better. This one is known due to the Ed Wood Jr. script connection, but I have to admit, it’s a lot of fun. A good girl is running a girl gang, knocking off gas stations, raping guys, and getting tricked by communists?!?!? It’s goofy, but I’ve always enjoyed it since stumbling upon it in the VHS days. The new Blu-ray scan from AGFA is great and worth your time.

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Movie A Day!: Taste Of Tarzan

It’s been a long week of hospital visits. things are getting better. Hold tight, we’re nearly through this year.

Here’s what I have watched this past week and a bit.

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451 12/29 Dario Argento’s World Of Horror (1985) 2.5/5   Documentary on Argento that features some great behind the scenes footage, primarily from Phenomena, but takes itself so seriously as a “horror” type film with clips that it’s more ridiculous than interesting and feels like a missed opportunity.

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452 12/01 Mulberry St. (2010) 3/5   Abel Ferrara’s documentary on the street he was from in New York, and where many of his films took place. Focusing mostly on the feast of San Gennaro, it’s a rambling film of neighbourhood stories that is far more watchable than it should be.


453 12/04 Bat Pussy (1973) 1.5/5   Possibly the first superhero porn parody, this one is so inept in every way that it’s a chore to watch at 50 minutes. Majority of the film is take after endless take from the same camera set-up of a couple improving lines on a bed and engaging in action. A few bits are Bat Pussy out to save the city from them? Only fun to be had is watching Bat Pussy bouncing around on a Hop-It. Everything else is bad bad, not fun bad in any real way. It could have been a lot of fun, but it ultimately fails.

Next are a couple of shorts found on the Bat Pussy blu-ray.

454 12/05 Dating: Do’s and Don’ts (1949) 3/5   Instructional film showing boys & girls how to have a classy date. I could have used this 30 years ago.

455 12/05 The Shoplifter (1964) 3/5   Instructional short showing retail business how to spot and prevent shoplifting. It’s actually pretty interesting to see all the tricks of the trade. I’m pretty sure I can get away with some five-finger discounts now.

This next one is a bonus film found on the Bat Pussy blu-ray and manages to be even worse.

456 12/06 Robot Love Slaves (1971) 1.5/5   A dire softcore cheapy about a scientist reanimating dead girls into love slaves. Only notable for some cult adult stars like Sandy Dempsey. Not worth seeking out.

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457 12/07 Love Camp 7 (1969) 3.5/5   I can’t believe I’m rating this one this high. A nasty exploitation in every way about a couple of women agents infiltrating a Nazi sex camp to smuggle out a rocket engineer. It’s all high concept for the most base sexploitation, and is pretty much irredeemable morally. But for what it is, it’s not bad? This is my second viewing and it holds up despite being reprehensible.

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458 12/08 Nazithon: Decadence and Destruction (2013) 1.5/5   Trailer compilation of naziploitation that is low quality in every way despite showing the “good” bits.


459 12/09 Abar: The First Black Superman (1977) 2/5   Abar is fighting the man, especially after the white folk go bonkers when a black doctor moves into their neighbourhood. Problem with this one is it takes almost the entire running time to get going. Once it does, it’s not really worth it.

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460 12/09 Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975) 3/5   Finally got around to this one and frankly it left me a little conflicted. It’s goofy, played too kiddy and light in tone and more than ridiculous. It’s also fairly accurate to the book. Give this a more serious tone and it would have been a classic. As it is, it’s more a curio.

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461 12/10 Tarzan The Ape Man (1981) 2.5/5   John Derek has to film his wife Bo nude again, so this time it’s the Tarzan story that gets the excuse. I vaguely recall seeing this one back in the 80’s and revisiting it, it’s not good. It’s goofy and frankly not filmed very well with lots of dodgy slow motion. It also features Richard Harris being maximum Richard Harris which I find kind of fun but it wears a little thin.

Scary Movie Challenge 2017: Part 6

My apologies for a insanely long post. The past three days saw me in the theatre for DEDfest and only home for sleep. So no time to update since I’m old and too fat fingered to do it on my phone.

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347 10/19 Another Son Of Sam (1977) 2/5   This one would be better titled “Nothing To Do With Son of Sam.” Not even the great Johnny Charro can make it interesting.

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348 10/19 Effects (1980) 2/5   George Romero’s film crew make their own film about a group of filmmakers get a little too realistic with the special effects. It’s not as interesting as it sounds with the team seemed more intent on filming drug use than horror/gore.

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349 10/19 Sacrifice! (aka The Man From Deep River) (1971) 3/5 Seeing how director Umberto Lenzi passed away I gave this one another spin. It plays it pretty straight considering the impact it had with slowly kickstarting the Italian Cannibal Genre. A photographer goes deep into the Thai jungle after killing a man in self defence. There’s more nudity than usual for these, but sadly there’s way too much animal cruelty.

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350 10/19 Radius (2017) 3.5/5   High concept suspense in this one about a man who survives an “event” with no memory and a strange malady that cause death at a certain radius. The film plays like a slow burn X-Files, and has a couple of interesting twists to keep you interested.

351 10/19 Latched (2017) 3.5/5   A pretty great short film about a young woman and her toddler that find a strange carcass in the woods. This one doesn’t feel like a demo reel, and instead tells a tight story perfectly.

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352 10/19 Beyond Skyline (2017) 3.5/5   The first “Skyline” was a nothing special alien invasion movie. This one takes that concept and completely remakes it into a completely bananas action film with aliens, giant monsters, kung-fu with some of the cast from The Raid, it’s got everything and keeps the pace going constantly and manages to be a ton of fun.


353 10/20 Blackenstein (1973 Theatrical Version) 2.5/5   This is one that regularly gets slammed for being terrible. And it is “bad”, but I found it fun bad. Everything about it is a bit too cheap but they go for it with aplomb which is better than some of these low budget films.


354 10/20 Psychos In Love (1987) 3/5   I’m not typically a fan of horror comedy of this stripe, but this one managed to mostly charm me. A couple of psychos fall in love. It’s never tries to be more than it is, and has a self awareness that I think saves it.


355 10/20 Orgy Of The Dead (1965) 3/5   This is not a good film. A couple go driving looking for a graveyard and stumble upon an Orgy of the Dead! The orgy being a bunch of tedious striptease acts. What makes it bearable is the Ed Wood Jr. connection, with Criswell as the head of the Orgy and Wood’s goofy dialog. It makes for a charming take on the typical dreadful nudies of the era. The Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray looks so gorgeous it’s unbelievable.

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356 10/20 Transmission (2017) 2/5   Short film supposedly about Brexit but plays more like a take on Incident At Owl Creek. Didn’t do much for me.

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357 10/20 The Lodgers (2017) 3.5/5   Irish gothic horror about two siblings living in an old secluded house. Slow starter but gets creepy and turns into an atmospheric ghost story by the end.

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358 10/20 Game Of Death (2017) 3/5   Jumanji re-imagined as a splatter-fest as millennials discover a cursed board game. This one was a lot of fun that has style and gore to spare. Being a miserable old geezer though means I can’t identify or care about any of the protagonists.

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359 10/20 Bad Black (2016) 3.5/5   Uganda action film that looks like it could be shot on cell phones barely makes any sense but has so much energy you forget about it. It was not only a ton of fun, but a surprise since my screening was at Dedfest and the filmmakers added in custom graphics and narration to appeal to Edmonton and the fest. Makes for an instant crowd pleaser, though I have to admit that early scenes featuring ghetto kids were more disturbing than fun.

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360 10/21 Stealth & Silence: DC Comic Fan Film (2016) 2/5   Short film had tons of style and a cool fight scene but didn’t make much sense. You would have no idea about the DC Comics connection without reading the credits.

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361 10/21 Geek Girls (2017) 3.5/5   A really  well done documentary on all aspects of women in geek culture. What made it interesting is that despite this being made during gamergate and the filmmaker having an opportunity to exploit and sensationalize, she kept the focus on the girls and their response.

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362 10/21 Death On Scenic Drive (2017) 2.5/5   A woman house sitting in a remote acreage gets witch-y. This one had lots of style and some good ideas with atmosphere, but it was a little to precious which gave it some pacing/story problems to be completely successful.

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363 10/21 Lowlife (2017) 3.5/5   A grindhouse crime comedy about a group of separate people who come together over an organ harvesting crime lord. One of them is a Luchadore. This one does a great job with a gimmick to establish all the characters, and by dealing with mostly minorities and people who are perceived with stereotypes manages to really humanize them. It allows the filmmakers to rise above traditional exploitation to address some real world issues. Good stuff

364 10/21 Rite of Passage (2017) 2/5   Short film about a group of nuns reaping vengeance on a priest. It’s not as gripping as it sounds.

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365 10/21 Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017) 4/5   A dark fairy tale about kids orphaned from the cartel wars in Mexico trying to survive. To be able to make a horror film about such tragedy and still keep things hopeful makes this one a real gem. It’s going to be rattling around my brain for a while. Very highly recommended.

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366 10/22 Deliver Us (Libera Nos) (2016) 3/5   Documentary following a real Sicilian exorcist. This looked like abuse to me, with religion triggering mental illness more than actual demon possession. The filmmakers wisely depict what is happening without comment, leaving it up to you to decide.

367 10/22 It Began Without Warning: Phase 1 (2017) 2.5/5   Short film about murderous kids that is such a demo reel/proof of concept I’m surprised it was released as a short film.


368 10/22 Night Of The Living Dead (1968) 5/5   Beautifully restored, what’s left to say about the classic that defined an entire genre? Newly noticed from watching it on the big screen, Romero perfectly framed every shot. It’s easy to miss how talented he was despite his budgets.

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369 10/22 Sequence Break (2017) 3/5   This one could best be described as “David Cronenberg’s Tron.” A young arcade game repairman gets a little too intimate with a strange machine that might be a doorway to another dimension. Gooey fun that was admirably more ambitious than its budget.  

370 10/22 Flow (2017) 2.5/5   Short film about a pair of women soldiers, it’s basically one joke played for six minutes that got made due to a kickstarter. Good on them, I guess.

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371 10/22 Tragedy Girls (2017) 4/5   A couple of high school girls who are willing to kill to get followers, this is a pretty near perfect social media satire. The leads are both fantastic with the film having some fun set pieces as will as numerous nods to the horror genre. Recommended.

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372 10/22 Victor Crowley (2017) 4/5   The surprise Hatchet sequel is more than the same, which isn’t a bad thing. Gorey fun that continues to the perfect slasher throwback to the 80’s while still feeling fresh.

 

 

 

 

Scary Movie Challenge 2017: Part 5

Another 10 in the bag. After a days delay due to God smiting the power int he theatre, Dedfest X finally started last night. So BLUE titles are ones seen in the theatre.


337 10/17 Evil Ed (1995) 2.5/5   A meek film editor gets assigned to cut horror and it has an effect on him. It’s gooey and an excuse to have fun with horror tropes, it just didn’t work for me.


338 10/17 Madhouse (1981) 2.5/5   A teacher for deaf kids gets stalked by her evil twin sister. Or is it in her head? Pretty typical slasher for the era that adds in a killer dog but none of it is particularly interesting.


339 10/17 Re-Animator (1985) 4/5   First time watching the integral cut. Herbert West thinks he’s Baron Von Frankenstein. I prefer the shorter cut as I find the added bits in this kill the pacing a bit. Still worth a watch or three. This one is a classic deserving of all it’s cult fandom. It’s also the right way to have comedy in a horror film. Play the horror straight and the comedy comes from the situation. Makes this one a delight and the Arrow Blu-ray set is suitably gorgeous.


340 10/18 The Slayer (1982) 2.5/5   A woman appears to be cracking up from stress so her husband takes her with some friends on a vacation. Some nice gore can’t help this one, despite being more ambitious than the typical slashers of the era. It plays it pretty straight but I found it draggy.


341 10/18 Children of the Corn (1984) 3.5/5   Small town kids discover religion and the parents don’t like it. This one will never go down as the greatest Stephen King adaptation but it works. It’s been too long since I read the original short story so I can’t comment on how close it is, it simply works as one of the better creepy kids/Village of the Damned type movies.

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342 10/18 The Zodiac Killer (1971) 3.5/5   It’s absolutely bananas that prior to the Fincher film Zodiac, this was the best telling of the Zodiac story. It’s not actually a “good” picture, it’s cheap beyond belief, spends too much time on a red herring and then goes off on flights of fancy. When it does stick to the facts, it’s kind of effective. That expert Paul Avery backed it just shows how scared everyone was at the time, they producers thought it would help catch the actual killer. Viewing it now, it has a goofy charm.

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343 10/18 For A Good Time Call… (2017) 2.5/5   Short film about a douche-bag who secretly films a tryst and suffers the consequences in an extreme way. It’s good for what it is, but I tend to find that horror shorts tend to feel more like demo/audition reels than proper stories.

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344 10/18 Replace (2017) 3.5/5   A young woman deals with bad skin problems in a icky way. An interesting play on beauty expectations, and a great play on body horror. It goes for a bit of a wander in the last act but the stuff leading up to it is great.

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345 10/18 Hell Haunt (2017) 3/5   A short filmed in my hometown of Edmonton about a killer replicating murders at a horror movie premiere? Maybe? I have to admit, I couldn’t follow it. It was damned pretty and well executed which I guess makes it a success. Have I mentioned that I find horror shorts to feel like demo/audition reels?

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346 10/18 Fake Blood (2017) 3/5   Documentary about a pair of amateur filmmakers exploring if exploiting violence on screen can affect people to commit violence in real life. It’s well done in that it doesn’t feel like a fake documentary, but it’s also not as clever as it thinks it is.