Movie A Day!: Blood Face

After a week of sunny skies and spring temperatures, today finds the sky back to the gloomy grey that is Edmonton in the winter. Perfect weather for hermit-ting up with movies and other things to distract from the political climate.

This post is a real mess theme wise. Friends who followed my Snapchat during the horror movie challenge will know that one of the greatest boxsets of all time arrived on my door step near the end, SHOCK AND GORE: THE FILMS OF HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS. After staring at it for months and frankly being intimidated by it, I finally broke down and cracked that sucker open. My plan was to watch one disc a week. Then the February pack from Vinegar Syndrome showed up three weeks early. And I’m still watching the Oscar best picture nominations. So your stuck with classy films, gore films from one of the worst directors of all times, and porno from one of the hardcore masters who literally helped create the porn industry.

This blog may be a psychiatric profile of a cry for help.


042 02/12 59th Annual Grammy Awards (2017) 3/5   I don’t know why I watch these but I always find a reason to. Ends up this year was pretty good. Katy Perry debuted a new song that’s actually kind of a clever protest, Lady Gaga performed metal with Metallica (my excuse to watch this years awards, her halftime show at the Superbowl was amazing) and aside from a dead mic on Hetfield, she rocked. Lady Gaga may be the the legendary performer of this generation. She can sing anything and do so convincingly. The real highlight though was oldie rappers A Tribe Called Quest who performed as an assault unit, attacking Trump (President Agent Orange, as dubbed by guest Busta Rhymes) and it was exhilarating. Oh, and Beyonce did a really artistic performance piece on black womanhood. I think. So yeah, despite all this fun, it still managed to feel like it would never end.


043 02/12 Blood Feast (1963) 4/5   Exploitation legends Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman invented the splatter genre with this one. The effects are primitive at best, the acting not so great and while people always say Ed Wood Jr. was the worst director of all time, I think Lewis fits the crown better since there is a unenthusiastic workman like feel to Lewis compared to the glee in a Wood Jr. picture. That said, it’s an irresistible picture. I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve watched it, but I love it more each time. People joke about the effects, but they really aren’t that bad compared to the regular make-up. The grey hair on younger actors looks like they rubbed a bar of soap on their heads. That’s far more unforgivable than creating a more than decent tongue being yanked out of a girls head effect. I like to think so anyway. This one is a must see (along with the other films in the “Blood Trilogy”, I’ll get to those later) for anyone with an interest in horror history.

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044 02/13 Scum of the Earth (1963) 3.5/5   1963 was a pretty big year for Herschell Gordon Lewis. Not only did he invent the gore film, he was one of the first to put out a film that would be known as “Roughies”. Roughies were the horrible children of the “Nudie Cuties”, instead of wholesome nudist camps full of nubile innocents, roughies were more urban and had pervos creeping on and corrupting women. This one was about a porno photography outfit that hoodwinks High School girls into being models before getting them to shoot nude and then blackmailing them to do hardcore. It’s very innocent despite that description since actual porno wouldn’t be shot for nearly a decade and the brief nudity in the picture is actually sort of tasteful with the real rough stuff happening off camera. Shot in black and white it actually looks classier than it is, and ends up being one of Lewis’s more accomplished pictures. Sexploitation would keep on pushing after this one, Lewis would mostly drift into gore (which based on his final film, the hardcore Black Love, is a very good thing…). Well worth checking out as it doesn’t have some of the pacing issues Lewis’s films tend to have.


045 02/14 Lion (2016) 3.5   A young Indian boy gets lost and ends up adopted by Nicole Kidman’s terrible haircut that is a perfect representation of Australia in this Oscar pick. I quite enjoyed this one in that it sticks with telling the kids true story without getting too over the top with the melodramatics (I think) and without the “Forrest Gump-Ness” of Slumdog Millionaire. Don’t think it was best of the year stuff though.


046 02/14 Carving Magic (1959) 4/5   This one is an industrial short about a guy hosting a dinner party and wows his dickhead friend with his turkey carving prowess. Why would I watch a carving instructional film? It’s on the Blood Feast blu-ray as an extra! It features Blood Feast star William Kerwin as the guy who learns how to carve, but more interesting is that Harvey Korman plays the dickhead friend, this being his first film role. I love Harvey Korman! Go watch Blazing Saddles again and see what I mean! This one was also legit educational, I think I might be able to carve a turkey properly now!


047 02/15 Moonlight (2016) 4/5   This one is about a kid growing up and navigating himself through Black Miami culture. I really liked this one in that it’s the kind of film that is usually made about white people in that it didn’t have any black genre trappings despite dealing with lower income/gang/drug culture. Dead solid performances that ring true in that they are frustrating to watch. There’s no hand holding the audience. I wouldn’t mind if this one won.


048 02/15 Slaughterhouse (1987) 3/5   1987 seems a bit late to try to pull a rip on Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but when it’s as fun as this one, why not give it a go? A bunch of cool kids decide to hold a party in a foreclosed slaughterhouse. Unbeknownst to them, the owner and his deranged son (who talks in pig-squeals) have decided to kill the people who fucked him over business wise. It’s all an excuse for some typical 80’s slasher mayhem and it delivers which is all you can ask.


049 02/17 Arrival (2016) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. I had heard it compared to Contact (another one I really enjoyed) but Arrival really is it’s own thing. Aliens have come down and language specialist Amy Adams has to figure out how to communicate with them. It leads to a thoughtful Sci-Fi that is actually pretty rare in these days of action blockbusters. Good stuff, I wouldn’t mind if it won Best Picture.

050 02/17 Parochial Passion Princess (1975) 2.5/5  Depraved hardcore short from Alex deRenzy about a teen prostitute. No one does sleaze like deRenzy, you have to give him credit.


051 02/18 La La Land (2016) 4/5   Hollywood finally does a traditional musical. That’s how this one is billed. The opening number had me cringing since it was so modern Broadway in style, thankfully the film settles down and ends up being really good, and yes, pretty traditional. I don’t think it works quite as well as it wants to- it never reaches the insane dancing fever pitch of the classics- but it’s welcome all the same.


052 02/18 Babyface (1977) 4/5   Feature length film by Alex deRenzy about a guy who gets shanghaied into working in a brothel owned by women for women clients. One of the sleaziest films I’ve seen, it practically is checking off a list of triggers for things deemed politically incorrect and will make you feel squeamish watching it. It’s also done with so much showmanship and glee that it’s hard to be mad about it. deRenzy was a master at this stuff and this one was one is no exception.

So which one should win best picture? I honestly don’t know. None of them wowed me. None of them are bad films, more a case of none of them feeling particularity exceptional or memorable. The only one that really feels like a broken thumb is Hacksaw Ridge, and that’s due to the first half being so schmaltzy. The second half in the war is brilliantly over the top. If I had to pick one I’d go with Moonlight since it’s the only one that didn’t have something in it that made question the filmmakers choice, with Arrival, La La Land and Manchester By The Sea following. Yet despite that, I think I enjoyed Hidden Figures best but found the film technically problematic. It looks like this years Oscars will be mostly blah for me since I don’t have a horse in the race that I really  want to see win. It’s not the first time, and wont be the last.

Which is okay, I got more terrible movies and Gilmore Girls to keep me company.

Until next time.

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Movie A Day! 126-130 : Little Blank Safe

I ended up going to Record Store Day (Listen Records in Edmonton are wonderful hosts for such an event) and I got the four records I was hoping for, but I think this might be my last one. I can’t handle standing in line for over an hour anymore. It’s a young man’s game I guess, and at some point you should be beyond it right? How old do I need to get before I feel like a responsible adult?


126 04-17 God Respect’s Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance (1968) 3/5
127 04-17 Spend It All (1972) 4/5
128 04-17A Well Spent Life (1972) 3.5/5 Another trio of documentaries from Les Blank, and all pretty amazing in their own way. GOD is a look at the first “Love-In” in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1967. If you have ever seen a documentary on the Summer Of Love, you have seen clips from this one. It is what it is, but mostly it’s hilarious as a time capsule. My only knock on this one is no live audio was recorded, it would have been neat to hear the music the bands that are shown were playing that was causing the crowd to freak out. SPEND captures the Cajun lifestyle in a small town in Louisiana with no comment, just shots of people doing what they do, fishing, eating, dancing, telling stories. It’s an amazing look at a lifestyle that was, I’m guessing, on the cusp of vanishing. You feel like you know more about life after watching it, which is some pretty brilliant film making. WELL SPENT LIFE catches up with Mance Lipscomb, a legendary folk blues guitarist who is seen briefly in the Lightnin’ Hopkins documentary. It’s mostly Mance, now more of a sharecrop farmer than a blues legend, talking about what he’s learned about life and how to live it. Some great stories, amazing songs, and leaves you thinking maybe the simple life is the better one. This Les Blank set is a hell of a document on America so far, in that it deals with people and their lives without comment,outside of politics and all the other stuff that tends to be part of documentaries these days. There’s no point being made, you are more of a witness, left to make up your own mind. I’m loving this Criterion Collection set, and still have two blu-rays to go.


129 04-18 SAFE (1995) 3.5/5
Julianne Moore is fantastic in this one as a woman dealing with “environmental illness” that is debilitating her. Director Todd Haynes plays the cards close to his chest, you’re never sure if it illness is real or a psychological block to her current, empty life. It loses a bit of steam in the second half, but not enough to kill the movie and Moore’s performance should keep you interested. The recent Criterion Collection blu-ray is a pretty much perfect presentation that features a cool chat between Moore and Haynes.


130 04-18 Little Sisters (1972) 3/5
Alex deRenzy’s second shot at a narrative film plays like a hardcore John Waters picture.  A protective mum living in the woods with her two daughters has to go on a search after the two are kidnapped by a pirate gang “The Dykes”. It plays more like an underground film than a porno, though it is explicit with nearly constant group rapes scenes that are done so over the top and gleefully shot that it really plays like the early John Waters (who shot hardcore in PINK FLAMINGOS) films like DESPERATE LIVING where it’s hard to be offended despite what you’re witnessing. For a second feature, deRenzy is already showing the chops that would seal his position as a leading porn auteur, and this one really shows the blurry lines of the era were it seemed like hardcore was going to break into the mainstream. The stolen soundtrack featuring Pink Floyd and Santana is fun too. Vinegar Syndrome presents this one uncut for the first time since it’s release, and though POWDER BURNS is a bit of a bust, this PEEKARAMA set presents a key piece of history in it’s own way.

Time to finish up laundry and maybe head outside for some yard clean-up after the never ending winter we get. I guess that’s being an adult. It sucks. I got music to listen too, books to read, movies to watch, games to play.

Movie A Day! 121-125: Lightnin’ Vermeer Burns

It’s late and I need to go to bed. So not much of an intro this post. It’s a Thursday night, the wind is trying to bring in the rain. Saturday is Record Store Day, a typical day of panic for me but this year I’m not feeling it. I’ll probably go, but I’m not sure I’m going to line up before the store opens in an obsessed fever. I’ll see how I feel on the day.

Another weird mix, but I feel a documentary film jag coming on, so that should balance the odd porno review that typically sully the blog and keeps readers away.


121 04-12 The 2015 MTV Movie Awards (2015) 3/5
A bunch of people I never heard of from movies I haven’t seen won some awards I don’t care about. It was hosted by Amy Schumer, and she’s the best and as good a reason to watch anything.


122 04-15 Powder Burns (1971) 2/5
Vinegar Syndrome dug deep on their latest Peekarma release of Alex deRenzy films. This one, billed as a “Meta-Western”, was so rare I think it was once disputed to exist at all. Anyway, I believe this one is future porn auteur deRenzy’s first attempt at a narrative film after concentrating on documentaries and loops. It’s a total mess. It want’s to be a wonky Russ Meyer romp, but it never get’s going with the amateur acting and what not. Plus it does go hardcore right at the end, so it was never going to play like a Russ Meyers film. Which is too bad, because despite the heavy print damage, the thing is actually made really good. Some of the shots of the cowboys out on their horses look really good and the idea isn’t a bad one, it just never quite works despite how much you might wish it did.


123 04-15 Tim’s Vermeer (2013) 4/5
Such a simple premise for a documentary. Johannes Vermeer was one of the Dutch Masters and known for painting photo realistic paintings. Penn & Teller’s inventor friend Tim is interested in figuring out how he did it. To say Tim is mildly obsessed is being polite, but he’s just the right amount of bonkers to be pleasant to watch on his journey to see if he can replicate the techniques, with no background in oil painting. It makes for a great documentary that reminded me of the smaller pictures that Errol Morris made focusing on individuals. The biggest surprise is that there are no tricks, with Penn & Teller attached, it’s directed by Teller, I kept expecting an Orson Welle’s type hoax to pop up and thankfully it never does. Good stuff, and worth your time.


124 04-16 The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins (1969) 4/5
125 04-16 The Suns Going to Shine (1969) 3.5
This is a pair of documentary short films by Les Blank featuring blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins. They’re quite brilliant. The first is the main film, and mostly captures Hopkins in his hometown in Texas playing the blues and capturing the community around him. It’s spellbinding. There’s a long sequence where Hopkins “explains the blues” via a song he’s making up on the spot. You wish the movie was three hours long, the less than 40 minute running time isn’t long enough. THE SUNS GOING TO SHINE is a second film made at the same time (probably an outtake), detailing the story of Hopkins leaving home at the age of eight to escape the cotton fields to become a musician. This is part of the Criterion Collection’s LES BLANK: ALWAYS FOR PLEASURE, so there are actually a couple more little shorts included on Hopkins, and it’s STILL NOT ENOUGH! (Also, watch the movie LOUIE BLUIE while you’re at it.)

One of the weird things that struck me watching Lightnin’ Hopkins tonight is the realization that the form of country blues he played is pretty much a dead form now. Anyone playing like that now would probably be labeled a poseur, and as far as a Black cultural thing, Hip Hop has taken it’s place as a form of speaking of the current Black experience. What Chuck D called “The News” for Black America. It makes one appreciate films like this even more. It’s truly a record of what is now lost. I’m sure there are people paying tribute to this music, but that seems different than creating it. Watching Hopkins play, the music flows out of him, the art being as effortless as breathing. A sign of the time and the years he put into it’s craft, art isn’t effortless to anyone if they care about it. Not a tribute of what others did, but the only music he is capable of creating. It’s a blessing that Blank was able to capture a piece of it. Hopkins didn’t want to do the film, Blank won him over finally over a card game. Hopkins made up a song about beating Blank at cards as a joke. Natural brilliance that can’t be helped.

Off to bed.