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.

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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.