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/

Feel free to follow, share, obsess and judge!

Movie A Day!: Gilmore Spectre Girl

Another week and another list of things I’ve watched. I wrapped up the Gilmore Girls this week and now begins trying to catch up on other things. I had the weird experience of having a news article quote me heavily this week and entered into the wild. All of it is anonymous, but it’s still weird to see deeply personal stuff aired in public like that. There will not be links at this time.


072 03/20 Gilmore Girls Season 7 (2007) 3.5/5   And here is where the journey ends. I’ve heard nothing but complaints about this season, and for the first half of it I can see why. Both Lorelai and Rory make all the wrong decisions and it is absolutely infuriating to watch. The interesting thing though is that these horrible decisions don’t actually conflict with the characters behaviour as set up previously, so it’s sort of brave for the creative team to make them so unlikable despite how unpopular it was. Second half of the season is much better, with things resolving relatively naturally for the end of the series. According to Wikipedia, this season had different show runners which might explain some of the confusion at the start. The wiki also says that the original show-runners wanted to have a season 8 to wrap up all the storylines. Which would of been interesting, but as it plays out, it wasn’t really necessary. As a whole, I really enjoyed revisiting the series and am glad I finished it after all these years. It mostly holds up. Some of the pop-culture stuff is dated of course, it was hard not to snicker/weep over the many references to future president Hillary Clinton seeded though out. I’m still a little in love with Lauren Graham. As far as this style of show goes, the writing helps to keep it more relevant than some of the other soapy dramas of the era. I think? I’m no expert on soapy dramas. 


073 03/22 His Marriage Wow (1925) 3/5   Harry Langdon takes the lead in this slapstick comedy, starring as the groom who ends up convinced that his wife is only after his insurance. This one wasn’t as wild as the genre is typically, but it’s charming as hell. Langdon is more quiet and naive like Stan Laurel (the commentary track confirmed my suspicion that Laurel was influenced by Landon) and it makes for an interesting juxtaposition to the wilder action to see him work small in a genre that is so broad.


074 03/24 Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life (2016) 3.5/5   Ten years after season seven ends and the girls are back. Presented as four 90 minute movies as opposed to a series of episodes, it was both a joy and a mixed bag. The shocking thing is the sheer number of the cast they were able to bring back. It’s great, but it makes the episodes very busy to fit everyone in which makes for nice moments that work against actual cohesive storytelling. There was also more than a few music montage type deals that I found flat out annoying and excessive as opposed to fun and charming. Episode three I found to be the strongest of the four, and episode four nearly falls apart before redeeming itself in the later half. They could probably continue with another series after this one, but I won’t lose sleep if they don’t.


075 03/24 China Girl (1975) 3.5/5   Annette Haven stars in this one as a biochemist who is kidnapped and tortured with extreme pleasure in a bid to get her to give up the recipe for a drug that allows mind control. An exceptionally well done hardcore feature that actually delivers dramatically (in a grindhouse sense) more than just the sex scenes. Haven does a great job at both aspects, and the big surprise is James Hong (you’ve seen him in movies and television) making a non-sex appearance as the crime boss. Overall it doesn’t fully work as a kung-fu sex drama since it’s not fully committed to the drama (probably due to budget limitations for action scenes), but it works enough to be legit and worthwhile. A perfect example of the period of porno chic when it looked like hardcore was going to go legit, the bluray from Vinegar Syndrome is fantastic.


076 03/25 Spectre (2015) 3/5   The latest Bond film hits all the marks that is expected which is kind of the problem. It’s hard to get swept up in the action when you’re thinking “There’s the car ad, ah, there’s the watch commercial.” It all feels a bit outdated instead of fun. Especially now that we literally have superhero movies in which unstoppable feats of action fit more than in a “real world” spy film. The great Christoph Waltz gets to be the villain and they give him nothing to do. It’s not the worst Bond film, just a serviceable one.

That’s it.

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! 056-060: X-Rated Bears

This one is a weird update!


056 02-17 Carnal Haven (1975) 2/5
Another Carlos Tobalina double feature Peekarama from Vinegar Syndrome kicks off with this one. It’s another one of those films that has couples seeking sex therapy as a way to justify the film as educational. Which is all the excuse Tobalina needs to poorly shoot another massive, dull orgy that takes up most of the picture. I’ve recently learned that Tobalina shot most of these to show in his own theaters, which explains why they are so wonky and workman like compared to the better directors. That said, you have to kind of admire him since he wrote, shot, cast, and even scored his own films which makes him more of an auteur then most of the auteurs out there. I just wish the films weren’t so dull since the goofy dialogue can only carry things so far.


057 02-17 X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time (2015) 3/5
Clip show! They hit the 70’s Porno Chic era dead solid for the most part, then completely blow it by skipping the 80’s completely to concentrate on some films from the 90’s on, most that I never heard of. I’m guessing people were more interested in catalogue sales than a true list, because when you skip the 80’s, you skip the Dark Bros. and NEW WAVE HOOKERS, which is bullshit. That said, it’s not a bad starting point for anyone interested in the genre, and the interviews are pretty great featuring old and new stars.


058 02-18 Her Last Fling (1976) 2/5
A young woman is diagnosed with a fatal disease, so since this is a Carlos Tobalina movie, she uses the little time left to participate in a bunch of uninspired orgy’s. Thankfully, all that orgy-ing cures her in the end. Spoiler alert. This one wraps up the double feature with Carnal Haven, they’re certainly not the highlight of Vinegar Syndrome’s catalogue.


059 02-18 Disney Nature: Bears (2014) 4/5
The latest Disney Nature film is another winner for the series. Gorgeous photography, cute-ass bear cubs and John C. Reilly providing perfect narration, this one is the best on since AFRICAN CATS. If you’re looking for hard science, watch one of those stuffy Attenborough nature docs. If you want a cute, fun story like the old True-Life Adventures, this is the goods.


060 02-18 Millionaire: A Major Fraud (2003) 3/5
I stumbled on this one after falling down a Youtube well. It’s a program examining how Charles Ingram cheated his way to winning a million dollars on the UK version of “Who Want’s To Be A Millionaire.” Plotting with another contestant, it shows how a simple timed cough was all it took to feed him the answers. Pretty neat stuff, and I’m glad he was caught.

Bears, fraud and porn. Pretty typical, I guess. As a coincidence, I ended up listening to an episode of my favourite podcast THE DOLLOP about a guy who scammed PRESS YOUR LUCK in the 80’s. It was even more interesting then the Millionaire one, and there’s a documentary on it on youtube, so expect that review to be coming soon!

Movie A Day! 001- 010: “A New Beginning”

Decided to keep this going since I track what I watch (and read) anyway, but I’m having second thoughts and it’s all due to formatting. Depending on the browser I use, it adds spaces that I don’t want between the move number title thing and the mini-review. It’s ridiculous and drives me crazy. I have to go into the weird text editor and delete spaces added from the copying and pasting. Nice job, stupid website! So much for for finding an easier way to do this.

A weird hodge-podge of porn, cartoons, Shakespeare and special features to start the New Year.

001 01-01 I Am Always Ready (1978) 1.5/5
This is the second feature on Vinegar Syndrome’s PeekaRama disc with THE ULTIMATE PLEASURE, and boy, was it the lesser film. Another Carlos Tobalina title, this one is about a woman who comes into some cash and decides to make a porn film so she can meet John Holmes, and that’s just the opening 3 minutes! I thought I was watching the trailer! The rest of the film is scene after uninspired scene of the porn being shot. It’s dull with nothing to elevate it and will have you reaching for the fast forward button since the horrendous wigs and set dressing are more entertaining.

002 01-01 The “Scanners” Way (2014) 4/5
I watched all the special features on Criterion’s SCANNERS blu-ray that I watched last October. They’re all really good, the main doc going into all aspects of the filming, including the legendary head exploding scene (achieved via SHOTGUN BLAST!), and the rest featuring new and classic interviews with the key players. You typically can’t go wrong with Criterion, and this is no exception.

003 01-01 Frozen (2013) 3/5
This is the Disney film about the Ice Queen, not the horror film about a trio of skiers stuck on a ski lift. This one was good, there are some fun characters and even better, a kickass “Girl Power” vibe. These Princesses don’t need no Prince Charming to save them and who new Veronica Mars could sing like that? My problem with the film is my typical one with modern animation. The CGI characters look ugly and generic with zero personality and there are way too many songs in the first three quarters. Disney seems to think animated features are the same as Broadway musicals. As a result, the story pacing is completely killed. I liked the little snowman guy, and his little music video summer song thing was cute, but completely unnecessary to the narrative. Cut half the songs (not “Let It Go”, that one was actually placed perfectly) and I’d add another star. The ski lift FROZEN also got three stars from me, in case anyone was curious. Also, the new Mickey Mouse short on the blu-ray was pretty great. Man, I miss “Rubber Hose” animation.

https://i1.wp.com/ih1.redbubble.net/image.15879118.1519/flat,550x550,075,f.jpg

004 01-01 Stereo (1969) 2/5
This is the last of the bonus features on Criterion’s SCANNERS blu-ray. It’s David Cronenberg’s first film! It’s simply not very good! It’s more of an experimental art film about a Canadian testing on telepathy. So it sounds like a prequel to SCANNERS, but it’s not. A group of people silently (there is no soundtrack) wander around a testing facility, communicating only by telepathy. The only spoken words are chunks of narration throughout explaining the technical experiments that aren’t really being shown. So despite being incredibly well shot and looking fantastic in stark black and white, nothing really happens and my brain just kept buzzing away.

005 01-02 Joe (2013) 4/5
Thanks to the internet and some whack-o parts in the past, people forget just how great Nic Cage can be. Like in this movie, which is one of the darker, more bleak films you see in the “Southern Gothic” genre. I’m guessing that’s what you’d call it. Anyway, Nic is the title character who helps out a kid in town whose dad is a degenerate drunk. A hell of a film that goes all the way, like films of this type should. As a bonus, Cage does a bit where he teaches the kid how to make a “cool face”, which when demonstrated, is the face Cage makes ALL THE TIME. (Make your face like you’re in horrible pain, then smile. That’s the secret Cage Cool Face, I expect pictures.)

Macbeth Movie Poster

006 01-03 The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971) 4.5/5
I’m no Shakespeare expert, far from it. Macbeth would be my favourite of the plays though, and this one is one of my favourite movies based on his works. Roman Polanski shoots this one like a movie, not a play, and with the sets and exteriors you forget you’re watching one of the most famous plays every performed and instead get swept up in the story of the doomed Scottish king. There’s not a single bad performance, the wordplay is accessible and since everything is done realistically, everything seems dripping in fog, dirt and blood. It actually plays as much like a horror film than it does a typical tragedy, and I highly recommend the new Criterion blu-ray that looks breathtaking, especially since my only exposure to the film prior was via a VHS dupe since this one seems to be one of the more forgotten films of Polanski’s filmography.

007 01-03 SexWorld (1977) 4/5
First there was WestWorld, then FutureWorld, of course there should have been a SexWorld since really, all those movies are about are fucking robots. This one is directed by legendary Anthony Spinelli, and he gets a higher budget than the porno chic films typically gets and it shows. Featuring many stars, including cult favourites Annette Haven and Kay Parker (her film debut), this one surprisingly hedges on the Sci-Fi elements (so after three films of robot sex, we never learn who has to clean the cum out of them) and instead deals more with the emotional aspects of being able to live your sexual fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nearly wall to wall sex scenes, but they’re presented in a way that it feels like a “proper” film instead of a loop carrier. So this is a good one, and the Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray puts to shame many legit releases from the major companies from the same period.

008 01-04 Toil & Trouble: Making “Macbeth” (2014) 4/5
009 01-04 Polanski Meets Macbeth (1971) 4/5
These are the main two documentaries on the Criterion blu-ray reviewed above, and both are exactly what you want to see. The first one from 2014 features recent interviews on the history of the film, while the other is a shot on set look at Polanski actually making the movie. They perfectly complement each other without being repetitive and are well worth watching on their own. The other extras, a couple of TV clips, one with the writer of the film on Dick Cavett and the other has Polanski debating Macbeth adaptations with a theatrical director are great as well. So in typical Criterion Collection fashion, this is about as thorough a set as anyone will need for this film.

010 01-04 Throne of Blood (1957) 4/5
Figured I go all out and watch Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Macbeth as well. They do a fantastic job adapting the play to feudal Japan, with some neat substitutions like evil spirits in the forest instead of witches. Otherwise, it’s “Macbeth” in plot and Toshiro Mifune is as god as ever in the title role.

Boy, just look at that Criterion cover art for MACBETH. Pretty great eh?

Well, there it is, a new year, an old blog, and more movies no one else is watching. Ten films in 4 days, though most were just around the hour mark so it’s a bit of a cheat. Fun? I hope so. Maybe this year I’ll make it out to the theaters a bit so there are actual current, helpful reviews. (Don’t hold your breath though….)

Movie A Day! 408-421 – “The End?”

We made it to 2015. 2014 was one of the worst years I’ve had. Not going to lie. Starting 2015 in a rage after spending new years eve with extended family. Such selfishness abounds, it’s gross. Let’s all hope the rest of the year chills the fuck out.

Sorry, this one’s going to be a bit lengthy since I watched a bunch to end the year, and I have to total up the whole month. Straight to the movies!

408 12-28 The Killer Elite (1975) 3.5/5

James Caan and Robert Duvall star in this Sam Peckinpah actioner about a couple of CIA hitmen that come to odds with each other. This one seems to get panned a bit, but I really enjoyed it. There’s an extended sequence of martial arts training that is actually quite neat, and compliment the more briskly paced action bits of the latter half. Caan and Duvall are both good and the massive set piece ninja attack at the end is hilariously fun. So it may be lesser Peckinpah compared to his classics, but it’s still Peckinpah and worth a watch.

409 12-29 The Video Game Years 1977 (2012) 3/5
410 12-29 The Video Game Years 1978 (2012) 3/5
411 12-29 The Video Game Years 1979 (2012) 3/5
These are all available online via RetrowareTV youtube. Not the most studious history of video games that you will find, but a fun, nerdy one all the same. I get a pretty good nostalgia kick watching these since I’m ancient enough to have not only been around to play, but actually own a lot of the different machines and games on display.

412 12-29 The Ultimate Pleasure (1977) 2.5/5
Another Bonkers adult feature from Carlos Tobalina (JUNGLE BLUE). This one seems more straight plotwise, a wife is getting burned out and not wanting sex, so while her hubby goes to vegas to bang hookers for relief, she goes to a clinic. Then it takes a swerve into lala land where it becomes completely unclear as to if it’s actually happening or is all part of the drug induced therapy she is having. Then it takes another swerve into the weird with a massive dose of anti-consumerism rhetoric. Tobalina seems completely incapable of being coherent, which added to his piss poor directing where shots are out of focus, boom mikes are seen, and best of all, a crew member enters the frame to pull some wire out of the shot while a couple starts to get busy, this movie should be horrible. Yet, despite or because of all this, with the addition of a great cast of seventies adult stars like Annette Haven, Candida Royalle and John Holmes, it still manages to be entertaining.

413 12-30 The Video Game Years 1980 (2012) 3/5
414 12-30 The Video Game Years 1981 (2013) 3/5
415 12-30 The Video Game Years 1982 (2013) 3/5
416 12-30 The Video Game Years 1983 (2014) 3/5
Yeah, I really got hooked on watching these. Now I’m caught up since I stumbled on the series with the 1984 entry.

417 12-30 Zatoichi’s Conspiracy (1973) 4.5/5
So this is it, the last of the original Zatoichi films. It was a good one too, with Zatoichi returning to his home village to discover that a childhood friend is screwing over the town to profit on his own. Katsu is perfect as Zatoichi at this point, managing to be lovable and terrifying within the same shot. This set from Criterion is easily one of the finest purchases I have made in the hobby, and is highly recommended.

418 12-30 Loony Tunes Platinum Collection Vol 2 (2012) 5/5
This is a 3 disc set of blu-rays featuring hi-def remasters of Looney Tunes cartoons that I’ve been watching on and off since September or so. To say it’s mamoth is an understatement. The first two discs are all Looney Tunes with extras, covering fifty shorts each. Disc three though is the really good stuff. You get two documentaries on Tex Avery, a collection of cartoons done by Friz Freleng for MGM, and best of all, eleven cartoons done by Tex for MGM that manage to be about 100% more laugh out loud funny than the previous two discs. Why there isn’t a definitive Tex Avery collection out by now is beyond me. Add in some PRIVATE SNAFU toon’s made for the army, and dozens more bonuses and this set is fantastic and a must own for classic cartoon fans. My only nit pick is that it repeats cartoons from the Golden Collection DVD series, disc three isn’t in hi-def, and volume 3 is going to be the last volume since Warners bailed on the series, the assholes.

419 12-31 Almost True: The Noble Art of Forgery (1997) 2.5/5
420 12-31 Paradise Regained – The Making of Phantom of the Paradise 3.5/5
I watched the special features on a couple of discs I watched earlier in the year. ALMOST TRUE is from the fantastic Criterion release of Orson Welles’ F IS FOR FAKE that I loved so hard last month. It’s a more typical profile on Elmyr de Hory, the art forger covered in F. the rest of the features on the disc are equally good, a great interview with Welles on Tom Snydor, a profile on Clifford Erving on 60 Minutes, and a second doc on Welle’s that I still have to watch.

PARADISE is the main doc that comes with the Scream Factory release of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, and along with all the additional interviews and outtakes included, it tells you everything you would want to know about the film, and is entertaining too.

421 12-31 Dick Clarks New Years Rockin’ Eve Live 2015 (2014) 2.5/5
not much to say, pop stars since and a ball drops. It ends up that I like Taylor Swift now, and Charli XCX is the singer I liked on the AMA’s earlier in the month that I thought was a band called Crystal Head. This one get’s a half point knocked off for having crazy asshole Jenny McCarthy as a co-host.

Right, there it all is. I warned you it would be long! Now, let’s see my totals for the month:

45 Watched, 37 First Timers, 0 Theaters

Surprisingly big month! Lot’s of hour long things though to balance out the films so I guess that’s why it added up. Plus it’s cold out and I don’t like to leave the house. Let’s compare to last December:

33 Watched, 32 First Timers, 0 Theaters

Huh, this I think only the second month that I watched more than I did in 2013. Neat.

Now for the scary part, the year end numbers. 2014:

399 Watched, 335 First Timers, 1 In Theaters

I managed to watch more than a movie a day! It was looking a bit dodgy early on, but I made it. Yay me. 2013:

505 Watched, 435 First Timers, 15 In Theaters

Now there’s some movie watching for you! I used to have regular movie nights with friends where we would power through 4 or so movies once a week. Ah, those were the days. Funny thing, the theater experience has gotten so annoying with pre-sold tickets and cell phones that I don’t really miss it. This year we saw a new David Fincher film come out, GONE GIRL, as it was the only film of his I missed in the theaters. Between the experience and finding myself less and less interested in the franchise blockbusters, who knows how often I’ll bother to go in 2015.

My favourites of the year:

THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE – The movie is just such a hoot with great music. Well worth a spin

ZATOICHI THE BLIND SWORDSMAN – Obviously the massive Criterion boxset was going to be oo here.

THE ART OF KILLING – Disturbing documentaries are the best.

THE SWIMMER – Grindhouse releasing went odd and put out a Burt Lancaster film that ended up being the lost Twilight Zone episode that should of been.

BREAKING BAD – I’ll watch it all again, nuff said.

THE ERNIE KOVACS COLLECTION – The dawn of television comedy that beats most of what’s aired today.

ACE IN THE HOLE – A film about the media that ended up being prophecy.

RAW FORCE – the gonzo zombie, kung-fu, Hitler movie from Vinegar Syndrome. Actually, Vinegar Syndrome as a whole was a favourite, treating porno, sexploitation, exploitation and underground arthouse titles with the type of love the major studios don’t give their Alfred Hitchcock titles.

F FOR FAKE – I wont talk about this one a third time, I loved it but I can see it annoying the hell out of people.

Well, that’s about it. Maybe I’ll continue, maybe I wont. If I do continue, I might change it up a bit so it’s less time consuming to compile. We’ll all have to see.

Thank you to those who stuck around through my past year of movies, your reading and comments were and are appreciated!

The End.

Movie A Day! 282-289

Another big weekend of movie watching due to the scary movie challenge. My eye’s are still in my head, and I’m barely functioning. Lots of good movies in this one so let’s have a look!

282 10-10 I Bury The Living (1958) 3.5/5

This one is about a guy who is appointed by a town council to take care of the cemetery. He accidentally uses a black pin signifying dead, instead of a white pin signifying reserved, to mark a grave that had been purchased by newlyweds on the map of burial plots in his office. The next day the couple are found dead. So it’s about a ouija like map in a graveyard. It sounds stupid on paper, but this one was really good, and most of that can be attributed to the rock solid direction that is full of style and gets the film looking downright surreal for the last third. This one was the third film on that disc I mentioned earlier I got for $10, so that means 50% of the films were really good surprises. I’ll try to watch the last one this weekend.

283 10-10 The Black Cat (1934) 4/5
This one features the first time Lugosi and Karloff would be featured in a film, and it’s a good one. Lugosi plays a Doctor who was imprisoned in WW1 for 15 years, returning to the confront his rival Karloff who was responsible for unspeakable war crimes, and the death of Lugosi’s wife. So it has nothing to do with the Poe story the title comes from, but don’t let that throw you. This one is a surprisingly twisted, satanic thriller with great performances by both leads, and a rare chance to see Lugosi play a good guy.

284 10-11 Blood Sucking Freaks (1976) 3/5
Ultimately this one is trying to be a satire of the New York theater. It’s not enough to actually elevate it since it’s basically just non-stop scenes of S&M, nudity, violence and some of the most ridiculous gore you will see. It’s all part of it’s charm. I have a weird history with this one. Old people like me will recall the 80’s VHS scene where fake documentaries like FACES OF DEATH were still being banned. A friend and I found a knockoff version of the FOD series, and on it were these ridiculous scenes of a midget cooking eyeballs and a guy drilling into a head and drinking the brains from a straw. Years later I stumbled on Blood Sucking Freaks and there were those scenes! I think because of that, I like this one way more than most people do. It’s definitely a Grindhouse classic, and Troma’s new blu-ray looks fantastic.

285 10-11 The Toxic Avenger (1984) 4/5
Figured since I watch Blood Sucking Freaks, I might as well watch my other Troma blu-ray. I’m counting this as a first time viewing since this was my first time seeing the whole thing. It’s crazy that I have never seen the Toxic Avenger films. I plan to correct that as they release them in blu-ray. Anyway, I won’t get too deep into this one. It’s basically a horror satire on super-heroes. It’s tasteless and goofy in the Troma tradition, but it works and is a hell of a lot of fun.

286 10-11 Phantom of the Paradise (1974) 4/5
Slowly but surely, I’m seeing all the films featured in that TERROR IN THE AISLES documentary that I’ve loved since seeing it on PBS or something in the 80’s. Another film I’ve been wanting to see for ages and never have until now. It was worth the wait. It’s first and foremost a musical, and a damned good one at that with some fantastic songs and performances. It’s also a great satire of the music business, and maybe not so much a satire but a critical look at the performer/audience relationship. As a bonus, it pays tribute to a whole slew of horror stories and films. Lots of fun and De Palma is in complete command of the whole thing. Recommended.

287 10-11 Dracula Sucks (1978) 3.5/5
This is one I’ve been wanting to watch for years, ever since David J. Skal praised it in his all things Dracula book “Hollywood Gothic” (which is a must read if you’re a Drac fan). First off, while it’s a porn, in the version I saw it’s barely hardcore and more of a gothic horror. It actually works, and Jamie Gillis is a surprisingly good Dracula. Sure, he’s doing the Lugosi voice, but he nails the performance. The rest of the cast are varying degrees of good to awful. for seventies porn fans though, this one might have the greatest cast ever assembled with legends Annette Haven, Serena, Seka, John Holmes and others. Anyway, production value wise, it’s all works, it’s kind of both a follow-up and remake of the original Todd Browning Dracula and the Vinegar Syndrome dvd is pretty great. You get the cut I watched, which as far as anyone can tell was never properly released, that features barely hardcore mixed with some cheap gore and kill scenes to be more horror, and the re-cut that cuts out all the killing, adds in more hardcore porn and tags on a happier ending that got more widely released as “Lust At First Bite” on a second disc. So if you’re a fan of this type of stuff, this is another VS disc well worth getting.

288 10-12 The Snake Woman (1961) 2.5/5
A woman in late eighteen hundreds England is given a medicine featuring cobra venom as a cure to her madness. She has a cold blooded baby, and 20 odd years later, people are going missing on the moors. This one never really gets going and putters along non-offensively until it’s conclusion. This was the last feature on that Timely Media 4 movie disc, so for $10 I got two really good movies; The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, and I Bury The Living, and two stinkers. So I guess it’s still wasn’t too bad a deal.

289 10-12 Seizure! (1974) 2.5/5
An author with a heart condition is having bad nightmares that become a reality when his creations invade his home over a weekend. this is Oliver Stone’s first movie, so you hope that it’s better than it is and it’s just not. Even Herve Villechaize kicking the shit out of everyone and cult icon Mary Woronov running around in her underwear can help it as this one just plods along, never really succeeding as a thriller or campy fun.

That’s about it for this one. It’s a long weekend as I post this, and I’m burned out. I can;t handle massive family events like thanksgiving dinner was yesterday. They just completely, emotionally exhaust me. Even drinking free booze doesn’t help me handle it, I get full of anxiety and totally shut down. It takes me days to recover from it. Ridiculous, I should have a handle on this stuff at my age.

Until next time.