Movie A Day!: 100 Movies

100 movies. I hit 100 movies with The Gore Gore Girls, of all things. All these years of tracking films and I never manage to hit a milestone with a proper classic.


094 04/09 How To Make A Doll (1968) 2/5   Another dire Herschell Gordon Lewis comedy, this one about a hapless professor who uses a swanky computer to build sexy girls. 95% of the humour is derived from mugging like a silent picture, and since Lewis was gunning for a general release there are not even tits to look at. Add that to the usual incompetence and padding and this one ended up being charmless. Watch Weird Science instead since it does everything this one does, only better and with Bill Paxton.


095 04/11 I Sell Anything (1934) 2.5/5   Pat O’Brien stars as a loudmouth pawn shop auctioneer (?! I have no idea if that was a real thing or not) plotting a scam on the Manhattan bigwigs in this comedy. Not a terrible time killer, it’s not exceptional in anyway. Why it was included on the Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 9 set is a mystery since it’s not a pre-code film or edgy in anyway.

I give the Forbidden Hollywood Vol 9 DVD set a 3/5. Probably the weakest volume, with Cabin in the Cotton and Hell’s Highway being the best of the 5 pictures.


096 04/12 The Wizard of Gore (1970) 4/5   HG Lewis is back to the gore film with this one, and he goes all out. The story makes zero narrative sense, about a stage magician that creates horrifically gory illusions only for the participants to later be found dead suffering from the same wounds from the act. Is it hypnotism? Is it all a dream? Is it complete bullshit? All I know is it’s gleefully over the top and probably Lewis’s most accomplished film that completely delivers despite the terrible acting that ranges from the over-acting Montag the Magnificent (that actually fits the character) to no-acting from the rest of the cast. An absolute must see, it really is a great film and the gooey effects hold up pretty well.


097 04/13 Before Sunrise (1995) 4/5   Richard Linklater’s “Before Trilogy” is one of those wonderful things that will never happen again. I think, I haven’t seen the third picture yet, but it was nice reconnecting with this one. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy star as two twenty somethings who meet on a train and spend a day together in Vienna. It’s all walking and talking, and it’s fun to hear what was on the minds of Generation X twenty years ago. I can’t think of a more intimate movie about falling in love. It’s pretty near perfect.


098 04/14 Incredibly Strange Film Show: Herschell Gordon Lewis (1988) 3/5 Biography of Lewis hosted by British presenter Jonathan Ross actually does a great job in catching up with the man and going over his career. There’s a better documentary that goes deeper, I’ll get to it later, but this one is fine for what it is.


099 04/14 Before Sunset (2004) 4.5/5   In which we catch up with Jesse and Celine nine years after the first film. To say more would ruin it, it’s even more perfect than the first film.


100 04/15 The Gore Gore Girls (1972)  3.5/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis’s final gore film before his comeback with Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat in 2002 plays like a bonkers The Thin Man, with a William Powell wannabe investigating brutal stripper murders with a sassy news reporter. Despite being played pretty light, this one has the most brutal in tone murders than any of his films which makes the whole thing a bit surreal. Not the greatest capper for the Godfather of Gore, but good enough.


101 04/15 This Stuff’ll Kill Ya! (1971) 2/5   HGL returns to the hillbilly’s selling White Lightning genre and it’s simply a bore. Comedy doesn’t work, the only pleasing thing is the country music which isn’t saying much.


102 04/15 Before Midnight (2013) 4/5   The final film of the “Before Trilogy” makes me hope it’s a Quadrilogy. To say more would ruin it, but it manages to capture the best intimacies of the previous films while expanding at the same time. 

I would give the whole Trilogy a 4/5. I’m biased, I’m the age of these characters and identify with most of the stuff they are going through. It makes the films play like parallel memories, and stirs the past in my muddled brain. The Criterion Blu-ray set is gorgeous.

As you can probably tell, I tried to burn through three boxsets this week. I still have a film to watch in that Shock & Gore Set. I’ll FINALLY finish it next week. HGL films are best watched when spread out as opposed to two a week like I’ve been doing. I watched the commentaries on the discs so some weeks I watched both films twice. I should of counted the commentaries. Someday I’ll figure this blog out. I still have to watch the extras on the Before Trilogy, so next week might be a little thin. Depends, I obviously am not planning this thing out in advance.

This week also sees the world closer to thermonuclear war than it’s been since the Cuban Missile Crises. Knowing my luck my last film will be a HGL commentary.

Hold your loved ones tight, dear readers.

Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 2

Here’s the next bit from the Scary Movie Challenge to hold you until I get my first week of watching done. From simpler times, when all the terror in the world wouldn’t prevent me from watching 4 different versions of the same crappy movie.

 

027 10/11 Dementia 13 (1963) DVR 3.5/5   Francis Ford Coppola made his writing/directing debut with this one. I think. I know he did some stuff prior but I think this is his first as writer/director. Anyway, it’s basically a “Psycho” rip with a “Who Done It?” smashed into it. Which sounds bad, but is actually really well done considering it was produced on the cheap with Roger Corman. Coppola squeezes every penny out of the budget, the film has style and totally works.

028 10/11 Nekromantik 2 (1991) Blu-ray 3/5   Follow up to the first one find Rob’s corpse being stolen by a Monica, another necrophile. She ends up meeting Mark, a voice over actor for porn films, and gets torn between him and the corpse. So it’s really a love story. This one is much more polished than the first film, but I found it a little draggy in parts, and plain silly in others. When you have two characters go to a movie, then show a bunch of the movie they are watching, it seems like filler. That said, Buttgereit is making a legitimate film that manages to rise above its exploitation aspects.

029 10/12 The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959) DVR 2/5   Teenagers have a hot rod club (played by the “Hot Rod Gang” which is a shitty rip-off of the Bowery Boys, only a bunch of privileged pricks instead of poverty row scamps.) and like to dance to one song. There’s no ghost, there’s no dragstrip, there’s only one shown drag race. The only cool thing is the re-use of monster costumes from other AIP movies and the tall girl with glasses.

030 10/13 The Beast With A Million Eyes (1955) DVR 2/5   A less ambitious “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” type thing, with an invisible invader trying to control a ranch family. For a no-budget 50’s horror it’s not the worst thing you will see, it just never really gets going and plods along. Also: there’s no “Beast With A Million Eyes”. Most notable for being one of if not the first film Roger Corman had a hand at directing.

031 10/13 Schramm (1993) Blu-ray 2.5/5   The final film in the “SEX MURDER ART: THE FILMS OF JORG BUTTGEREIT”, this one left me flat. It’s got a great premise: the life of a serial killer as glimpsed in his final moments alive. The problem is that it’s missing the disturbing gore found in Buttgereit’s other films like “Nekromantik”, and has nothing to fill the space. So it just kind flops out and doesn’t do much. Maybe I had high expectations thinking this would be the most messed up film of them all.

032 10/14 Bone Tomahawk (2015) Blu-ray 4/5   Kurt Russell leads this one, a weird western about a group of men searching for townsfolk that have been taken by natives. It plays like “The Searchers” but with lots of spook. If it doesn’t sound like a horror, trust me, it is. Recommended, I loved this one.

033 10/14 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986) Blu-ray 5/5   One of the greatest movies ever made.

034 10/15 Operation: Titian (1963) Blu-ray 2/5   A murder mystery based around a copy of a Titian painting as opposed to a horror. How this ends up being a film called “Blood Bath” is beyond me. Anyway, this one feels longer than the run time. Pretty much says it all, eh?

035 10/15 Shocker (1989) Blu-ray 3/5   No one is going to mistake this one as one of Wes Craven’s best but I’ve always liked it. Mitch Pileggi eats the scenery like there’s no tomorrow as the killer, and the idea of an electricity based killer is fun. It has a few pacing issues, but on the whole it works.

036 10/15 Swamp Thing (1982) Blu-ray 3/5   As an adaptation of the comic book it’s pretty terrible. As a monster movie is pretty fun. Not the best film Craven ever made, but not a bad time either. Fun revisiting this one, I didn’t realize that David Hess (from Cravens infamous “Last House on the Left”) had a role in this one. That said, seek out the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing if you want the real deal.

037 10/15 Thundercrack! (1975) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This one is an underground horror porno film that is so earnest it has to be played for laughs. It’s certainly original. Plays like a John Waters film in many ways, you get the feeling that the filmmakers thought this was their last chance to make their dream project. A dream project where people get stranded as a old dark house in a rainstorm, have bizarre sexual experiences, a guy marries an ape and it all invokes “Gone With The Wind”. Genuinely completely out to lunch, this one won’t be for everyone but if you have an appetite for strange this one should fill you up. UPDATE: More I think about this one, the more I love it. 

038 10/16 Portrait Of Terror (1965) Blu-ray 2.5/5   The first re-cut of “Operation: Titian” became this one. It’s still not much of a horror film but it is better than the first cut. That said, it’s still not very good.

039 10/16 It (1990) Blu-ray 3/5   I remember watching this when it originally aired and being disappointed. Probably due to having the book fresh in my mind. The book continues to be one of my all time favourites. I liked it more this time around. The first half works and Tim Curry is fantastic as Pennywise. The second half with the adults kind of falls apart in comparison, partly due to the TV budget. I’ll put money down that this one will be better than the new theatrical version coming out, opinion based on that one image of the clown they released.

040 10/16 Phantom of the Opera (1989) Blu-ray 2.5/5   I’m positive I saw this one back in the day but I had zero memory of it when watching it. I think I might of had this one confused with “Phantom of the Mall.” Anyway it’s not very good with it’s mostly straight retelling of the story with some past lives time travel nonsense thrown in. I watched this due to watching Wes Craven films earlier and thinking I should watch “Nightmare on Elm Street” but not feeling like it so I spun this one since it had Robert Englund in it. Should of stuck with Nightmare.

041 10/17 Blood Bath (1966) Blu-ray 3/5   The third version of “Operation: Titian” drops all talk of Titian and adds Sid Haig, beatniks and a vampire. Completely unrecognizable compared to the other two versions, Jack Hill did a pretty great job hacking this thing together.

042 10/17 The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Blu-ray 4/5   Wes Craven’s follow up film after the classic “Last House on the Left” (not counting the porno “Fireworks Woman”) might not be as grueling but it still completely works. The film is an examination of class warfare, with city folk getting attacked by desert mountain folk. It’s good, moves quickly and best of all, plays like a bonkers Rin-Tin-Tin movie.

043 10/17 The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009) Blu-ray 4/5   Revisited this one since I have the sequels to watch for the first time. Some hate this one, I think it’s a modern classic. It completely delivers on the premise of a human centipede. Maybe it’s a case of the film shouldn’t be watchable at all with such a ridiculous premise. Instead, you find yourself caught up in the craziness and end up genuinely caring about the centipede.

044 10/17 The Brood (1979) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Cronenberg goes for the psychological with this one starring Oliver Reed as a doctor who’s analysis treatments result in physical manifestations. I had completely forgotten how messed up this one gets in the latter half, having first watched it during the 2007 challenge. Good stuff.

045 10/17 The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011) Blu-ray 3.5/5   I’m in the minority with this one since I actually really liked it. It’s completely different from the first one. The first film is closer to a modern day monster movie. This one is basically “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” only Henry is into arts and craft centipede projects. Gorgeous in black and white, it’s only black and white for self censorship. The colour version on the blu-ray is one of the most relentlessly gory films I’ve seen. This one won’t be for everyone, but it works and delivers on it’s premise which is all I ask for from a film like this.

046 10/18 Track of the Vampire (1966) Blu-ray 2.5/5   A re-cut of the Jack Hill cut of “Blood Bath”. I think. Who the fuck knows anymore. Watch “Blood Bath” and forget about these other versions. UPDATE: The documentary in this set going through the history of all these versions is better than any of the final movies! A must watch for filmmaking fans!

047 10/18 The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence (2015) Blu-ray 3/5   This one goes for a lighter tone and just doesn’t work. Main problem is it plays it mostly safe in comparison to the previous two and can’t maintain the premise of creating a massive human centipede as a prison population solution. It’s neat that they go full meta by bringing back the stars from the previous two and the director starring as himself, but it’s not enough.

048 10/18 Eyes Without A Face (1960) Blu-ray 3.5/5   The groundbreaking French horror classic holds up just fine. A girls face is destroyed in a car crash so her surgeon father snatches girls to replace it. It plays much more classy than that description, and it’s surprisingly graphic, especially for 1960.

049 10/18 The Stuff (1985) Blu-ray 4/5   I hadn’t seen this one since the VHS days and it’s nice to see it holds up just fine today. A bonkers mash-up of “The Blob” with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” about an alien dessert. It should be terrible, but they pull it off. Or maybe it is terrible and I just don’t care? (Nah, it’s rad.)

050 10/19 The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave (1971) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Pretty good Italian horror. Some guy is having a break down after his wife dies and starts finding duplicate women to abuse. Film stays on course and has enough mystery to keep you invested.

051 10/19 The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Another solid Italian horror. This one deals with a family curse that has come around on the 100 year mark. Like the previous film this one moves steadily and has a enough mystery to hold your interest.

052 10/19 Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988) Blu 3/5   I actually actively avoided this one for years, due to liking the original and thinking this one would be total garbage. It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it’s not total garbage either. It ends up being a fun horror comedy. Worth it just to watch George Clooney give a masterclass in product placement.

053 10/19 Crimes of Passion (1984) Blue 3.5/5   This one plays more like a 1930’s pre-code melodrama than the horror/thriller I thought it was going to be after all these years, but it’s creepy enough for me to count. Kathleen Turner is great as the hooker not necessarily with a heart of gold and Anthony Perkins steals every scene he’s in as a twisted street preacher trying to save her soul. What is more interesting though it that the film is really an examination of sex, love and the use of each as a weapon by couples in a relationship. Interesting stuff, and through the bonkers-eyes of Ken Russell it’s worth a viewing.

Ah, such fond memories! Will I ever find my tall girl in glasses? Will I ever be a part of a human centipede?

Who knows? 2017 is wide open folks. Let’s stay positive!

r

Beginning with Failure. Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 1

2017. I think it’s safe to say that in the large scheme of things 2016 was a pretty rough year. It seemed to be the death of everything, our culture, our politics, the literal world. Things feel hopeless. I need to do something with my brain other than think about the BIG STUFF. At least until I’m able to dedicate time to actually do something about the state of the big stuff.

I’ve decided to restart my “Movie A Day” list. Let’s see if I make it past May before quitting. I am making no promises. The ultimate goal is to watch 365 new movies a year. As I get older, the odds of that happening become less and less. Still, movies are fun right? I’ll also be including TV Shows and whatever the fuck else I feel like writing about. I’ll try to stay away from current events.

New films will be in RED.

To start, I’m going to recap the scary movie challenge from 2016. Here’s the first bit.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan all these posts to be this long, just the scary movie catch-ups.

001 01/10 Evils Of The Night (1985) Blu-ray 2.5/5  Aliens are draining teenagers of their blood! This one is literally T&A and blood, with the emphasis on the former. There’s so much T&A that porn star Amber Lynn is cast in a bit part. Main cast of alien vampires is Tina Louise and Julie Newmar being lead by ancient John Carradine. It’s not very good, it’s more fun bad. Looks great though. (That is the Millennium Falcon you are seeing on the poster. Not featured in the film, sadly.)

002 01/10 Count Dracula’s Great Love (1973) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Paul Naschy is Dracula in this Spanish production. Typical “Dracula Needs Virgin Blood to Resurrect his girl” stuff, but it’s really well done with an atmosphere that reminded me of the Hammer Studio films. Gothic romance with some nice gore, lots to recommend and the Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray has it looking great.

003 01/10 Horror House on Highway Five (1985) Blu-ray 3/5   A killer in a Nixon mask, weird Nazi rocket science and students being hunted down. It barely makes sense, it might not make sense. It’s pretty much the definition of low budget psycho-tronic slasher. Vinegar Syndrome Blu looks good with some nice special features.

004 01/10 Salem’s Lot (1979) Blu-ray 4/5   I thought I had seen this one, but I was thinking of the Rob Lowe remake. Or I dreamed it. Anyways, this was excellent. It’s been way too long since I read the book to be able to tell how close it was, but it was fine all the same. Aside from some awkward edits where the commercial breaks are you wouldn’t think this was made for TV. A great balance of suspense and horror, with a fantastic cast. James Mason is always great to watch and Geoffrey Lewis steals every scene he’s in while Tobe Hooper keeps things moving. Recommended.

005 02/10 Hellbent (1988) Blu-ray 2.5/5   A punk rock deal with the devil for stardom film. By Richard Casey who directed “Horror House on Highway 5”, this one is more silly action/drama than horror. Good music, decent performances help but it’s still a near no-budget offering. The Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray looks great.

006 02/10 Doctor Butcher M.D. (1980) Blu-ray 4/5   A mad Doctor is doing terrible experiments in this Times Square classic. It’s more “Cannibal Holocaust” than “Mad Doctor” in that it’s a jungle picture, but boy does it deliver. Loved it, sleazy gory fun that you know you want. The blu-ray of this from Severin is spotless and feature packed, I’ll watch all those after the challenge. (UPDATE: The special features were as solid as I suspected)

007 02/10 Zombie Holocaust (1980) Blu-ray 3.5/5   The original film that turned into “Doctor Butcher”. It’s fine and while not much different, I liked the add-on bits to Doctor Butcher. Looks good on blu, but you can tell that Doctor Butcher got all the restoration love.

008 02/10 Carnival Of Souls (1962) Blu-ray 4/5   A woman survives a car accident to discover her life falling apart. Few films capture the nightmare life dreamscape as well as this one. It’s one of the few films where “less is more” actually works. I think this was my third time watching it, and it just keeps getting better. The Criterion blu-ray is definitive.

009 10/03 Black Sabbath (American Version)(1963) Blu-ray 3/5   First time watching this one after loving the Italian version last challenge. It’s good, but doesn’t compare. It’s missing the mood and style. Swapping around the stories is one thing, editing them is another. THE TELEPHONE becomes a clunky supernatural thriller instead of a proto-giallo, and none of the stories benefit from the music replacement which is jokey compared to the original. It’s also missing the fantastic Karloff closer! Italian version is a solid 4 stars.

010 10/03 Cat In The Brain (1990) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Lucio Fulci directs this one and stars as himself. Playing a director who fears he is losing his mind after making so many gory horror films, this one is pretty much a non-stop greatest hits of gore scenes. There’s not much else to say, I’m giving it a higher rating than it probably deserves, but I had fun with it and it delivered the gory goods.

011 10/04 Blue Sunshine (1977) Blu-ray 3.5/5   People are losing their hair and going on murderous rampages! It’s way better than that sentence makes it sound. An LSD based thriller more than all out horror, it manages to work really well. Zalman King of “Red Shoe Diaries” infamy is the star, and he’s not a great leading man but gets the job done. This is the second film I’ve seen him star in, and he just doesn’t have much personality but still manages to be pretty good. Weird. Anyway, the new blu-ray from Filmcentrix is gorgeous and packed with extras. If you buy it from their site you get all sorts of physical goodies. This is their first dip into non-porn (they previously did amazing work restoring “Opening Of Misty Beethoven” and “Barbara Broadcast” on blu-ray under their home banner of Distribpix) and it shows the same care and attention. I wish they would be more prolific, but it’s a one man show and that one man is doing the big work. I’ll watch the extras after the challenge. (UPDATE: The extras were fantastic.)

012 10/05 Planet of the Vampires (1965) Blu-ray 4/5   Mario Bava does sci-fi, at least for the first 15 minutes or so. A pair of spaceships are investigating a distress signal on a planet. Once in orbit, they’re forced to land, get hit with “space madness” and find that they’re very bodies are at risk of being taken over. Clearly an inspiration for “Alien”, Bava makes this cheapie work by pouring on the colours and atmosphere to create a genuinely creepy suspense film. I really need to pick up more Bava, every film of his I’ve seen is a gem.

013 10/05 The Sinful Dwarf (1973) Bluray 3/5   Olaf the dwarf and his mom run a boarding house that fronts for a sex slave and heroin ring. This Danish film is as grimy and sleazy as it’s reputation has absolutely earned. Reminded me a bit of “Blood Sucking Freaks”, only not as fun and with none of the crazy over the top gore. Still a sleazy trip to take, the hardcore inserts make it even more gruelling. Good stuff though in that it successfully does what it was aiming for. For Eurotrash/sleaze fans only, everyone else will want to stay away.

014 10/06 Hillbilly’s In A Haunted House (1967) DVR 1.5/5   A couple of country singers on the way to a jamboree in Nashville stop over night at a haunted house. Only it’s not a haunted house, it’s a secret base for spies. Ferlin Husky and the country folk have the personality of grass growing and old horror stars John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr. and Basil Rathbone can’t elevate the material. One whole star is given to the fact that Merle Haggard gets to perform two songs. Otherwise this one was a piece of shit.

015 10/07 Village of the Damned (1995) Blu-ray 3/5   John Carpenter updates the 1960 classic. Tells the same story and over does it a bit in typical remake fashion. Christopher Reeves is good as the lead, my main problem were the kids. The acting was fine, but why dress them the same as the 60’s version if you’re not doing a period picture? Anyway, it’s not the worst thing Carpenter has done and good enough to keep you entertained for 90 minutes.

016 10/07 Tenebrae (1982) Blu-ray 3.5/5   An American writer doing press in Rome gets involved with murders when a maniac starts to copy his book. I enjoyed this one. Argento is doing a giallo as opposed to the supernatural stuff I’m more familiar with and the film really works. The only thing I didn’t care for was the music. Too 80’s synth that I thought cheapened the production instead of enhancing it.

017 10/08 Body Bags (1993) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Anthology film, original pitched for TV. John Carpenter directs two stories, Tobe Hooper gets one. All of them are actually really good. Carpenter is a fun horror host in the EC Comics tradition, none of the stories look extra cheap and all of the stories are packed with fun horror cameos from directors and what not. Good stuff.

018 10/08 Deadly Blessing (1981) Blu-ray 3/5   A religious community comes under suspicion after a tractor accident leaves a woman widowed. Wes Craven is doing some interesting stuff in this one, but the real highlight is the bathtub scene that will get reused to better results in Nightmare On Elm Street. Not a bad film by any means, just a case of Craven having done better.

019 10/09 Why Horror? (2014) Stolen 2/5   Documentary feature many horror legends and experts talking about why we crave horror films and what not. Except they don’t get as much time as filmmaker host Tal Zimmerman who makes this a personal film because he had a baby. I’m really starting to hate “documentaries” like this where the focus is the hosts journey. The only guy that can pull it off is Louis Theroux, and that’s because he’s perfected the art of stepping back to allow the subject to come through. This one annoyed the shit out of me. Who cares what John Carpenter or George Romero have to say when you can sit in an MRI and have your brain scanned while watching a movie. (Don’t get this Canadian stated on the MRI use in this one.) Skip it.

020 10/09 Sleepaway Camp (1983) Blu-ray 4/5   First time seeing this one. It’s a low budget “Friday The 13th” knock off, but a nasty little sucker where the kids get attacked instead of just the councillors. Also had a hell of a twist ending that plays perfectly. It rises above what it should be, which I doubt the sequels do.

021 10/09 Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) Blu-ray 3.5/5   All the “Who done it?” stuff from the first one is out the door and they aged up the campers for nudity. It sends this one straight to typical slasher land, but it’s a pretty good slasher for what it is with an interesting enough bent in that the killer is pretty much the protagonist which is unusual. I’m sure it will all fall apart in the third one.

022 10/09 Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) Blu-ray 3/5   This one is another drop in quality. It’s not terrible, and I still like the killer as protagonist angle. It’s just a bit plodding and too cheap to stand up to the other two.

023 10/10 Witchboard (1986) Blu-ray 2.5/5   It’s exactly what you think it is. People dick around with a Ouija board, piss off an evil spirit and blah blah blah. It’s about as good as this type of film could be, which isn’t very memorable. I think my brain flagged this one as being better due to Tawny Kittan being in it, which would of been a big deal in 1986. Not so big a deal these days.

024 10/10 Dolls (1987) Blu-ray 3/5   A family gets stranded and stay in a house with a pair of old people who make dolls. They come alive and attack them. This one has a kid in the lead which never impresses me. The doll effects are good and it’s interesting, but it’s not on the level of the better Stuart Gordon pictures.

025 10/10 Night Of The Demons (1988) Blu-ray 3/5   I thought I had seen this one, but I had it mixed up with the Argento “Demons”. Anyway, this one wasn’t too bad. A gaggle of 80’s kids decide to party down in a mortuary only to awaken evil spirits since the mortuary is possessed. It starts out wanting to be “Return of the Living Dead’ mixed with “Evil Dead” and is kind of annoying, but once it gets going it’s pretty good.

026 10/10 Der Todesking (1990) Bluray 3.5/5   This is Buttgereit’s follow up to the notorious “Nekromantic”. This one is as much an art film as opposed to a horror like his prior film. That said, it still manages to get it’s hooks in you and be pretty disturbing. Seven episodes, one for each day of the week, on the theme of suicide, each bridged with imagery of a rotting corpse. So yeah, not a fun movie, but a good one.

Whelp, that’s the first 10 days of October for the challenge. Revisiting this I realize this is about the worst way to watch films in a critical manner. Films that are getting worse reviews than they deserve due to being watched alongside films that are probably not as good as I rate them. I’m rating films higher for being more interesting compared to the more standard fair. Oh well, it is what it is and I’ll make the same mistakes during the 2017 challenge.

Movie A Day! 141-151: Sprout Wings Super Soul Brother!

So much for getting the blog under control. This one looks longer than it is, but it’s still pretty long. I watched some double feature stuff that hit around the five film marks and didn’t want to split them into two blogs. So you get a little extra and I’ll try to get this thing back to the fives next time.


141 04-27 Supersoul Brother (1978) 2.5/5
“Wild Man” Steve takes a page from Rudy Ray Moore’s DOLEMITE playbook and tries to make a his own blaxploitaton action comedy. He fails in almost every regard. Steve plays a wino who gets picked up by a couple of thieves to be injected with a super serum so he can be used to rob a jewel safe. It’s dirt cheap, the acting is atrocious, but it does have it’s charms as both a spoof on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (the original title, and the one on the print on Vinegar Syndrome’s DVD is THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER) and for the gusto of Wildman himself who tries his darn-dist to spin straw into gold and fails pretty much completely. A hell of a time capsule, and as the first in Vinegar Syndromes collaboration with the American Genre Film Archive, it’s going to be fun to see what they bring out next.


142 4-28 A Life In Dirty Movies (2013) 3.5/5
A pretty good documentary on Joe Sarno, one of the first and best of the sexploitation filmmakers at the dawn of the genre. This one mostly deals with Sarno at the end of his life trying to get one last film financed. I would of preferred more of an overview since I can only imagine some of the stories he has, but what we do have in here is still interesting. Having people like John Waters, Jamie Gillis and Annie Sprinkle on hand to discuss Sarno and his work also helps to keep the film moving. Now we need someone to tackle restoring Sarno’s surviving films.


143 4-30 Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980) 3/5
Les Blank skips the profiles of people and goes straight to food and music with this one. It’s a history of garlic, showing many of the ways it is prepared as well as the folklore. Some of the fanatics come off a bit hippie dippy and crackers, but it is a fun watch. Since it’s literally about the food, this one is missing the heart found in his other pictures.


144 05-01 When Taekwondo Strikes (1973) 3/5
A pretty good chop socky feature starring Angela Mao about Koreans revolting against Japanese rule. Lots of different styles of martial arts are in view, and it also features Jhoon Rhee, known as the father of American Taekwondo. So there’s lots of fun to be had in this one.


145 05-02 Little Miss Innocence (1973) 2.5/5
146 05-02 Teenage Seductress (1975) 2.5/5
This is a pair of softcore features from Chris Warfield that Vinegar Syndrome put out in their DRIVE-IN COLLECTION. The first features a pair of hippie girls who shack up and torture an older music executive when he picks them up hitchhiking in LA. It’s the most porn-y of the two since they emotionally abuse him with constant sex, and it’s as sleazy as it sounds. TEENAGE though downplays the sex to be more messed up dramatically as it features a woman who is out to find her father that skipped out when she was born, in order to sleep with him and try to ruin his life that way. Did I mention it was messed up? Anyway, the pair are actually pretty decent watches since they play more serious than the usual goofy that is sexploitation, and are looking great in these DVD restorations.


147 05-02 Escape From New York (1981) 3.5/5
John Carpenter’s cult classic features a breakout role for Kurt Russell who stars as Snake Plissken who in the future dystopia of 1997 has to retrieve the President of the United States who has crashed into the prison island of Manhattan. It makes zero sense, but Carpenter and Russell totally pull it off. I don’t love this one as much as others, but I have no knocks against it, it delivers and the cast featuring genre legends like Lee Van Cleef and Isaac Hayes doesn’t hurt either.


148 05-02 Champagne For Breakfast (1980) 3.5/5
Chris Warfield again, this time with a later porno chic effort that manages to work. The script, about a guy who plays gay in order to get a job as a chauffeur/bodyguard to a young woman who has recently become vice president of an ad agency, genuinely works on it’s own both dramatically and as a comedy. The actors, featuring stars like Leslie Bovee, John Leslie and Kay Parker all have the chops to pull it off, they could of cut the sex out and still had a decent late seventies comedy. A short comedy though since ther is a ton of sex in this one, which makes the story working aspect of it all the more unusual. Typical of everything they put out, the Vinegar Syndromes presentation is top notch.


149 05-03 Sprout Wings And Fly (1983) 4/5
150 05-03 Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge (1991) 4/5
151 05-03 My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge (1995) 4/5
Another trio of documentaries from Les Blank. SPROUT features fiddle player Tommy Jarrell, in his eighties when it was shot, telling stories of life in the Blue Ridge mountains (nearly all of them about whisky and death), and playing a ton of amazing fiddle songs. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and Jarrell is one hell of a storyteller. This Les Blank blu-ray set just never fails to please. JULIE was shot at the same time, and is a short film featuring Tommy’s older sister telling stories and singing a couple of songs, while MY OLD FIDDLE is more of Tommy playing and talking. As a whole, they are not only a entertaining films, but a record of a lost time.

See? It wasn’t so long and at least the movies were varied eh?

Movie A Day! 131-140 : Hot Pepper Pleasure

Late posting this one, and since last week was busy, it’s a ten title affair. We should return to regular programming.

131 04-19 Dry Wood (1973) 3/5
132 04-22 Hot Pepper! (1973) 3.5/5
Another great pair of documentaries from Les Blank, both dealing with Creole life. DRY WOOD mostly features the people of a small town and a pig roast while HOT PEPPER! is a profile on Zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier. Both are pretty great, and like the previous Blank films show a joy of the simple life and community we seem to be lacking these days.

133 04-23 The Ernie Kovacs Collection Vol 2 (2012) 4/5
Another collection of Ernie’s morning, evening, specials and game shows. Similar to volume one, but a smaller collection. Still a fantastic bit of history that’s funny too. Amazing stuff.

134 04-24 Lenny (1974) 3.5/5
Bob Fosse takes a time out from musicals to do this biopic on comedian Lenny Bruce. I’ve been wanting to revisit this one since watching Fosse’s ALL THAT JAZZ earlier this year, and I enjoyed it about as much as I remember liking it the first time I saw it. It’s not the perfect picture, but Fosse’s direction and editing hold your attention, and Dustin Hoffman nails the intense Bruce. Worth checking out if you’re curious, but you might find it a little lacking since it doesn’t really check of the milestones of Bruce’s career.

135 04-24 Come Under My Spell (1979) 1.5/5
Another Carlos Tobalina Peekarama double feature from Vinegar Syndrome. This one finds Tobalina attempting a story! A hapless exchange student can’t score with American girls until he finds a book on hypnotism. It’s not as rape-y as it sounds, but with zero star power, piss poor acting and the typical hallmarks of Tobalina’s directing featuring out of focus shots, rough editing and to top it all off, some crewman sitting in the frame of the action, this one is a miss.

136 04-25 Tootsie (1982) 4/5
Dustin Hoffman plays a struggling, tough New York actor who to prove a point, dresses in drag to get a part on a soap opera. This one could of been painful to watch these days, but it holds up nearly perfectly. It’s laugh out loud funny, but the humour comes out of the situation as opposed to at the expense of Hoffman in drag. Mostly anyway. As a straight white guy, I might be insensitive. I loved it regardless, and Bill Murray and Teri Garr are both brilliant in supporting roles, as is Jessica Lange. The music however dates the film horrendously in the era it’s from, the early 80’s with the “Go Tootsie Go!” song that plays over montages (it is an eighties movie, it has montages) especially cloying. Not enough to ruin the film though, thankfully.

137 04-25 Lady Dynamite (1979) 2/5
The other Tobalina feature paired with COME UNDER MY SPELL, this one fares a bit better. A woman finds out that despite being faithful to her husband for ten years, she’s caught the clap. So she decides to make up for lost time and go on the prowl. It’s more polished than COME, but it’s still pretty dull stuff. I think Tobalina is the most artless of the directors that Vinegar Syndrome features. If you could ever get the sense he was trying, it could be fun to watch like an Ed Wood picture. You can tell though that he’s only interested in having product for his theater chain. To bad.

138 04-26 Blind Woman’s Curse (1970) 3.5/5
Half yakuza samurai picture, half ghost story and totally awesome. Meiko Kaji (LADY SNOWBLOOD) plays a young woman who takes over her fathers yakuza clan after he is killed. While attacking rivals for vengeance, she accidentally blinds a bosses sister, and believes herself cursed for it. That’s all in the opening minutes, and that’s the best I can figure it out since the film is bonkers. It never fully makes complete sense, but it’s a hell of a ride with some cool sword fights balanced out with horror elements and gore. Another great pick from Arrow Films to put out here in region 1!

139 04-27 Always For Pleasure (1978) 3.5/5
140 04-27 Lagniappe (2006) 3/5
Another pair of films from Les Blank, this time showing the details around Mardi Gras in New Orleans. ALWAYS is pretty much the perfect New Orleans documentary, showing a variety of parades from funeral procession to St. Patricks Day to the big Mardi Gras event itself. The best thing though is like his other documentaries, he concentrates on the music, the food and the people. So when it get’s to Mardi Gras, he shows the side street parades with the local tribes, spy boys and flag boys, it’s a side you never see on TV. LAGNIAPPE is made up of outtakes and musical performances shot during the same time that the original doc was made, and is a nice little extra glimpse.

That’s about it. The big news the past couple days of writing this is earthquakes in Nepal and more race riots, this time in Baltimore. It all makes me feel a bit helpless. I mean, I can scoot some cash to the red cross and whatever, but not much else. Awful times ahead I think, though we’re not nearly in as bad of shape as we were last year where every month seemed to spawn a new horror.

UPDATE: This is even later posting than expected. I wrote this Monday night, April 27 to post the following morning, and then got busy at work and forgot. Total failure. At least this one isn’t a lost blog and I’m posting it now. I guess this going live late at night for me will give people overseas a big thrill.

Yeah, right,

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.