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!

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Movie A Day!: Guilty Exposure!

Hey ho film fans! Did we all get in a bunch of movies this week? I had a real wham-bam of genres and even got in a new-ish one that some readers might of heard of! Boy oh boy, isn’t it great? Let’s get right to it.


103 04/17 Guilty Hands (1931) 3.5/5   Kicking off the 10th and final volume of the Forbidden Hollywood series with this pre-code gem starring Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life) as a district attorney who threatens to murder a colleague interested in marrying his daughter. Barrymore is great in the lead and the quick pace/short run time allows this one to be a lot of fun.


104 04/17 Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010) 4/5   The definitive documentary on the career of Lewis is pretty much all you can ask for. Great appearances by the likes of John Waters and Joe Bob Briggs, with HGL himself taking center stage to discuss his films and career. Tons of great clips and stories, it’s mandatory viewing for any film fan.

This one wraps up the massive Shock & Gore: The Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis set. I would give it a 5/5, a PERFECT FUCKING RATING! I know, many of the films are terrible but taken as a whole and presented this way? The set is a monster! HGL might have been a terrible director, but with writing, scoring, directing, producing, editing, special effect-ing and doing the ad campaigns for all these goofy movies, he is one of the true auteurs of film. I never would have dreamed a set like this would exist, and it’s only about half of his films. He has a whole other side or dreadful nudie cuties and children films. I hope we get a second set with those. A true original, The Blood Trilogy is an absolute must see and are flat out degenerate film classic. The man created the roughies and the gore films. We all owe him a huge debt.


105 04/19 The Mouthpiece (1932) 3.5/5   Pre-code sleaze Warren William plays a hot DA who prosecuted an innocent man to the electric chair, has a change of heart, grows his greasy moustache back and becomes a scumbag defence lawyer who’s only in it for the money. The courtroom scenes are bonkers and the rest is really good with Williams once again perfect as the morally defective lead. I’ve only recall ever seeing him play suave assholes, and here he is the perfect suave asshole. While not as scandalous as some pre-code films, this one was still a lot of fun.


106 04/19 Psycho Cop Returns (1993) 3/5   It’s the Vinegar Syndrome time of month! This one is a horror comedy about… A PSYCHO COP! It’s a sequel to a film I have never seen, but it doesn’t matter since it’s a stand alone film. Started off pretty painful with some hammy performances but once things get going it’s pretty near non-stop crazy gore effects and tits (cult legend Julie Strain!), so you can’t really complain. No risk of this one becoming anyone’s favourite film (guessing I’ll be proven wrong), but there are worse horror comedies to watch.


107 04/20 Secrets of the French Police (1932) 3/5   A burglar gets recruited by the police to help track his missing girlfriend who has been kidnapped by Russians in a ploy to get the riches of the missing Princess Anastasia. Throw in more than a touch of mad scientist and I don’t think you’ll get a more convoluted hour of film anywhere else. It’s not so much good as it’s so jam packed with different things going on that you can’t help but be enraptured by it.


108 04/21 Nighthawks (1981) 4/5   I hadn’t seen this one since the VHS days. I remembered it as one of my favourite Stallone films and it’s nice to see it holds up. Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are a pair of street cops that get recruited to a newly formed NYC terrorist squad to track terrorist Rutger Hauer. It’s a pretty typical action movie that pre-dates the jokey “Buddy Cop” formula that would take over the 80’s so it plays it pretty straight. It mostly just really works with Hauer putting in a great villain turn and the seedy NYC locations fitting the action. Worth checking out. (And for dirty film fans, porn legend Jamie Gillis has a bit part as a fashion designer!)

109 04/21 Hot Flashes (1984) 2/5   Pointless adult fair about a sexy news network doing sexy news stories. One of those quickies where you can periodically hear the director giving suggestions should tell you all you need to know. One of Vinegar Syndrome’s weaker efforts.


110 04/22 Double Exposure (1983) 2.5/5   More thriller than horror about a pin-up photographer who has nightmares of his models being killed, or are they memories? It mostly works, it’s interesting in that it’s a middle aged cast when most of these tend to skew younger. It has a TV vibe (despite being graphic) which hurts it more than helping it and it sadly just never seems to fully kick off properly.

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111 04/22 Sicario (2015) 4/5   Crime film dealing with American agents going after the Mexican drug cartels and is fantastic. A great backdrop of the blurry politics involved helps the dramatic aspects be as interesting as the intense action bits. Emily Blunt is perfect as the agent swept up into the investigation, and Benicio Del Toro once again steals the movie. Highly recommended.

See? Not a bad week with something for everyone! Or nothing for no one. Who knows who even reads this thing? I should check the metrics.

That’s it.

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.

Movie A Day!: Hell’s Creed Hungry Reunion on Wheels!

We managed to not get ourselves into a nuclear war, so I guess it’s movie time.

A real mixed bag with this one. I’ve jumped back into the Herschell Gordon Lewis Shock & Gore set, continue with the Forbidden Hollywood Volume 9 set from Warner’s of Pre-code films, got in a never ending wrestling event and went Hollywood over the weekend with a side of Vinegar Syndrome’s PeekARama series. Something for everyone? Probably not.


084 04/03 Hell’s Highway (1932) 3.5/5   Pre-Code gem starring tough guy Richard Dix as a con on a chain gang. Made to show the brutal treatment of prisoners, chain gangs were still a thing in 1932, it’s hard to watch now and not think of the private prisons still using prisoners as slave labour. I’m a sucker for prison pictures and this one was a pretty good one.


085 04/03 She-Devils on Wheels (1968) 2.5/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis does his take on a biker gang picture with this one about an all girl biker gang that’s running wild. It’s a great premise but Lewis fails to pull it off. It’s too chaste when it should be wild and sleazy, and Lewis is too incompetent to film a biker picture since you can barely hear any dialogue when the bikes are running. More of a curio than a good picture in his catalogue.


086 04/04 The Cabin in the Cotton (1932) 3/5   A not bad pre-code film starring the completely forgotten Richard Barthelmess as a worker growing up on a cotton farm (post-slavery) and torn between loyalties with the “Planters” who own the land and the “Peckerwoods” who work it. Obviously I couldn’t help snickering every time someone was referred to as a “Peckerwood”, but aside from that the only real draw in this one is it’s an early Bette Davis picture. Bette steals every scene she’s in as the owners hot to trot, privileged daughter, because of course she does. Otherwise there’s not much to note. Director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, to name drop just one absolute classic from his filmography) does a decent job, African Americans are shockingly shown as sympathetic and not too stereotyped for the time, and lead Barthelmess has one dumb expression on his face the whole time and fails to rise to lead the picture, or stand a chance against Queen Bette. Interesting only for Bette, and seeing her take complete control over the picture.


087 04/05 When Ladies Meet (1933) 2.5/5   An overly talky play adaptation about a woman author who has fallen for her married publisher in a very modern way. Not much else happens. Second billed Robert Montgomery and third billed Myrna Loy steal the show as the author and the boy she’s refusing for the publisher. For what it’s worth, with the main problem being Alice Brady as Myrna’s best friend in the comedic role who is the kind of annoying, privileged eccentric you want to strangle. Another case of people being in better things, watch Loy in The Thin Man, and check out Montgomery’s progressive noirs Lady in the Lake (filmed in first person POV!) and Ride The Pink Horse, which he also directed.


088 04/06 Just For The Hell Of It (1968) 2/5   HGL really starts scraping the barrel with this one. Some youth gang is wandering around breaking stuff and basically just being a bunch of assholes for no reason. It’s an attempt at creating a new genre (so claims HGL), but is so completely pointless and inept that it does not work at all. Only good thing was the theme song (written by Lewis) and an extended band performance near the front that is pure filler, but pretty good filler.


089 04/07 Creed (2015) 4/5   I think the last thing any Rocky fan thought they’d see is another Rocky movie. Switching things up and focusing on Apollo Creed’s son is a stroke of genius, and the film really works well as both a character study and a boxing picture. There’s not much to say, it hit’s all the standard plot points of a Rocky picture, it’s just done really well with a touch of class. The boxing scenes are exceptional and allowed to stretch with more artistic touches that works surprisingly well considering how gritty and realistic the rest of the picture is. Worth checking out, especially if you’re a Rocky fan.

Sherlick Holmes / Reunion [DVD]
090 04/07 Sherlick Holmes (1975) 2/5   Harry Reems stars as the title character who creates a time machine that transports Watson and himself to 1970s Times Square where they have to fuck their way back to Victorian England. Nothing too redeeming about this one which is most likely a weekend wonder with the highlights being how poorly made it is. There’s something charming about releasing a film where you can hear the producers feeding the actors lines, but that charm only goes so far. It’s more interesting than good.


091 04/08 Wrestlemania 33 (2017) 2.5/5   I stopped watching WWE last year when it became apparent that Vince McMahon was going to buy his wife a position in the Trump administration. That and the product is so bloated that the amazing performers are largely wasted. This Wrestlemania confirmed my decision. I found pretty near the whole thing dull as dishwater (so dull I nearly forgot to include it on this list). The highlight was the return of the Hardys and the only reason I watched it was to see Undertaker in what may be his last match. I would’ve preferred a better opponent than Roman Reigns, but it was a serviceable last match. I won’t be following it after this. Lucha Underground is a ton more fun without the 7 hour a week time commitment.


092 04/08 The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 2 (2015) 3/5   I found this one to be the weakest of them all. Main problem is it felt padded to hit a two hour running time. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just plods along which weakens the later moments that are supposed to hit harder. On a whole, I’d give the series a 4 out of 5.

093 04/08 Reunion (1976) 2.5/5   This one see’s some high school classmates being invited to a island estate for a reunion that takes a darker turn. If this one committed more to the dark turn instead of the sex it would of really elevated this one to being something special. As it is, it’s pretty typical low budget porn for the era.

It feels like I’m never going to finish that Shock & Gore set. I’m averaging a disc a week. they’re so packed with special features, and I watch them late at night before bed, I’m going to be glad to finish it and move onto other things. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun as hell even if they aren’t very good. It might be too much of a good thing. Aside from that, a pretty big week! It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten in 10 films in one week.

Until next time.