Movie A Day!: 2000 Mountain Moonshine Slaves!

Another week of existing! This one is a short post. All the Oscar noms I planned to watch got watched last blog and this week saw me catching up on other things. The week was also a real pain in the ass. Why does everything have to seem so hard?

The day of this post sees the passing of Bill Paxton. One of those actors who was great in everything he did. Probably best known as James Cammeron’s scene stealing dependable  in Aliens and Titanic,  I recommend checking out his directorial debut Frailty, as well as A Simple Plan and Near Dark as they are my favourites. And Fish Heads, of course. I already miss him.

This adds up to this one being short and sleazy. Blame Vinegar Syndrome and Arrow Video. At least one of the films is a bonafide masterpiece.


053 02/19 The Love Slaves (1976) 3/5   A drug dealing syndicate is snatching up women to hypnotize into love slave assassins and detective John Leslie is on the case. Not a bad hardcore feature from Bob Chinn, it never really fully embraces its sleaziness and doesn’t convince as a drama so it ends up a little flat compared to others in the genre.


054 02/20 Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) 4.5/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis follows up Blood Feast with his masterpiece, Two Thousand Maniacs! A group of Yankees get roped into the centennial celebrations of the southern town Pleasant Valley. It’s a rip on Brigadoon of all things, with the southerners wanting vengeance for Northern atrocities committed during the Civil War. It’s a gleeful mess of a film, with the infamous “Barrel Roll” scene being the height of ridiculous for any splatter film in the genre. An absolute must see.


055 02/22 Moonshine Mountain (1964) 2/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis does a hicksploitation with this one. A country singer travels to the mountains to get a feel for “real folk music”, gets all twisted up in moonshining shenanigans. It’s an absolute mess of a film that’s tonally flat out does not work. The southerners are all hick stereotypes and appear to be played for laughs. One of the girls characteristics is being sexually abused to the point that she’s practically mute, which is NOT funny, but not really depicted seriously either (despite a resolve near the end). Then there’s the bit in the last 3rd where shit is going down with the crooked sheriff that features a federal agent getting stomped to death and his body dumped in a still that is better fit for Two Thousand Maniacs since there is zero humour about it and despite editing is brutal to watch. None of it works with the usual Lewis knack of bad takes and stiff performances. With no gore or sleaze to heighten it, it ends up as a real patience tester of a failed comedy. If it’s supposed to be a comedy, Lewis says in the extras that he was asked to make a rip-off of Thunder Road, the moonshine hit with Robert Mitchum. This does not resemble that film at all.

That’s it for this week. I don’t have much to say. Last night a friend I haven’t seen in years do to a falling out contacted me out of the blue in separate straights wanting to borrow money. I don’t have it to give him. I don’t owe him anything, but it leaves a mixed, bad feeling of guilt and other things.

The world gets exhausting.

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.

Movie A Day! : 204-213 “Big Hunka Love”

Two posts in one week! You lucky lucks! This one catches up the rest of the films I watched during the last week when I wasn’t posting due to the cloud of moodiness. I ended up watching quite a bit due to throwing my back out and being barely able to walk around by the time I got home from work. Nothing enables movie watching like sickness or physical pain. I mean, I’d rather lay about and watch movies anyway. When you’re healthy and watching movies, you’re lazy. If you’re sick though, you’re getting better and doing the right thing. Let’s all get incurable but non-fatal diseases so we can be empowered to watch more movies!

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204 08-17 Elvis : That’s the Way It Is (Special Edition) (2001) 3.5/5
This is a concert film documenting Elvis’s return to live performances via his opening week in Las Vegas. It’s great. Elvis is a bundle of nerves, and the energy is contagious when he gets going. His voice is fantastic and he really does look like a King. You could argue that he is at his peak here, from here on it’s all a slide downhill into drugs and poor health. This version concentrates more on performance and cuts a bunch of the interview type material that made the original film from 1970 fun but severely dated. On another note, every poster for this sucked. Look at that fucking outfit, why not show him in the dazzling white suit he’s seen in the film in?

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See? Already a better picture for the poster despite the doof on bass behind him.

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205 08-18 Zatoichi’s Pilgrimage (1966) 3.5/5
This one finds Zatoichi again grappling with the morality of killing hundreds (thousands?) of men, so he decides to begin a pilgrimage to the 81 temples to find enlightenment. Guess how it goes? Another fantastic edition, that also featured one of the best scenes yet of his swordsmanship in the opening.

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206 08-19 No Time for Sergeants (1955) 4/5
Based on the introduction, this was Andy Griffith’s debut on live television (via the United States Steel Hour), and his first experience acting in a play. It’s an absolutely amazing performance, and you can literally see his star being born. From here he would move on to winning a Tony for the Broadway adaptation, then his TV series. The play itself is hilarious, and a rare example of comedy being performed on live television as opposed to the typical dramas.

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207 08-20 A Brief History of Time (1991) 4/5
Errol Morris is a master of the documentary, and this one is no exception. Spending equal time with Stephen Hawking’s biography and theory explanation, it manages to never be boring and surprisingly accessible to people like me whose brain starts to sing “LA LA LA LAAAA”  when physics are being explained. I guess the only knock you can have against the film now is that it’s twenty plus years out of date, and I think the theory presented has been disproved, or changed or whatever happens with the science. Fucking science, always changing. They’re redoing Cosmos now! Fucking kids and their new science!

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208 08-22 This Is Elvis (Extended Video Version) (1981) 4/5
Elvis week continues! This one is a straight up documentary detailing his life. The good is that it features a whole bunch of clips of Elvis, mostly of song performances. The bad is that they have actors recreating parts of his life, and a guy narrating the film as Elvis in the first person but kind of from the afterlife. It makes it unnecessarily weird, especially the opening scenes of his last night alive in Graceland. That said, you do get a good picture of his life, and they don’t hold back on the negatives either. If all you know is “Fat Elvis” of popular culture, you owe it to yourself to see some of this stuff to see why he was the King. Plus theirs priceless footage of him stoned out of his skull, kicking members of his Memphis Mafia in the nuts during a karate demo. Seriously, MUST SEE STUFF!

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209 08-23 The Dragon Tamers (1975) 3/5
At first glance, this one is a typical Kung-Fu picture about some guy wanting to challenge some other guy to see who’s the better fighter and getting mixed up in some school clash. What separates this one though, is it’s the second picture directed by John Woo. Being a huge fan of THE KILLER and HARD BOILED, two films that I would put at the top of any “Best Of” list, it was fun to see Woo working in the Golden Harvest trenches. Even at this point you can see his style coming to form, with slow motion and other style tricks. The plot too, with heavy emphasis on loyalty and friendship fit solidly into the Woo cannon. The opening girl fight in the mud though, not so much, that bit seems more at home in a women in prison film. Which isn’t a bad thing.

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210 08-23 Machete Kills (2013) 3/5
I liked this one much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love trash, and I’m a big fan of Robert Rodriguez and his homemade films. It’s more of a case of just how good can the second film of a series based off a fake trailer be? Ends up nearly as good as the unlikely first film. I think it would of played better a smidge shorter on a double bill, which really is how these films should be seen but never well since GRINDHOUSE shit the bed at the box office. Shame on all of you who skipped seeing that one in the theaters. Anyway, it’s big, it’s stupid and it leaves a big smile on your face. I really hope they do the MACHETE KILLS IN SPACE movie, that one looks amazing.

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211 08-23 Candy Goes To Hollywood (1979) 3/5
This is the sequel to THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF CANDY, and is the better film. Thora Birch’s mom Carol Connors is back in the lead role, this time heading to Hollywood where she gets hooked up with a sleaze-bag agent played by John Leslie who sends her out to numerous shows to get taken advantage off. The spoofs of the Tonight Show and The Gong Show are pretty fun, and John Leslie is actually a really good actor who could of had a career outside of porn. The real cult draw, and the reason why I had seen this one previously, is the appearance of pre-Plasmatics punk legend Wendy O. Williams shooting ping pong balls out of her pussy during the Gong Show spoof. So obviously this one is on the very top of all of your “Must See” lists. Another winner, double feature from Vinegar Syndrome.

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212 08-24 An American Hippie in Israel (1972) 2/5
This one is considered a cult classic, but it left me completely flat. It’s what the title says, an American hippie arrives in Israel and starts preaching his hippie horseshit. It’s funny and of it’s time, but it’s more BAD bad then fun bad, with constant preaching about “The Man” and the evils of war. It just never worked. I picked it up since the company that did the blu-ray, Grindhouse Releasing have been dead solid in the past. Oh well, you can’t like everything.

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213 08-24 The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) 4/5
More Wes Anderson guys! I’m not going to get too into it other than to say that once again I was surprised at how good it was. It’s such a goofy premise, some guy hunting down a shark that killed his first mate, but the cast is so good, and the script so tight, and Bill Murray so perfect that I just loved the shit out this one.

There it is! What’s left to say? I’m really enjoying the Wes Anderson films on the second go round. Elvis is awesome and who doesn’t love ping-pong? This really is the greatest blog, you should tell all your friends to follow me. Maybe I’ll get a sponsor? That’s how you get rich on the internet right? I mean, my webcam shows aren’t doing anything, this is all I got!

 

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Movie a Day!: Second Week of April!

Alright, here’s last weeks viewing. With this post we are completely caught up so next week will be what I watched this week (the third week of April). Phew, this is confusing stuff! This batch is a good one, featuring a couple of films that remind you how great movies can be.

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078 04-07 Walking Dead Season 4 (2013) 3/5
079 04-07 Talking Dead Season 3 (2013) 3/5
Caught up and finished the season over the weekend. While still pretty good, I found this season of Walking Dead to be a bit of a let down over the previous couple of seasons. The first half seemed rushed to finish up some loose ends from Season 3 that probably would of been better served story-wise in later seasons. The second half, while fine for character building, seemed to be stalling for time. The final episode completely works until the very end were the last line that’s supposed to get you all hyped like a cliffhanger just undoes the whole thing and almost makes it a joke. Don’t get me wrong, I’m liking the show and hope that season 5 has a better consistency. Everything is in place for a great season, it just seems to be at a cost of this one. Sort of like how Back to the Future 2 had some good stuff in it, but felt like bridge to get to part 3 in the old west instead of a proper, stand alone movie.

Talking Dead continues to entertain, but this season seemed to be missing a lot of comedian guests, so it seemed a bit too serious. There’s only so much of watching actors seriously talking about their characters like they are real people in charge of their situations before it gets a bit much to swallow.

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080 04-08 The Lady From Shanghai (1947) 4.5/5
When you watch a lot of movies like I do, you tend to take them for granted a little bit. So when you sit down to watch a 67 year old Orson Welles film noir, you get your socks knocked off. Completely fresh in approach, featuring staggeringly modern yet classic performances for a studio picture of the time and perfect camera placement and movement, to editing and pacing, this is what all film should strive to be. Add in a dead solid noir plot of a simple Irishman knocking about who gets hooked up and enthralled with the elite and you have an amazing 90 minutes of movie to burn into your brain. It’s a real shame that after Citizen Kane, Welles never got a chance to make the films he really wanted to make. We are all the poorer for it.

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081 04-11 Comic Book Men Season 3 (2013) 3/5
This is, as far as I know, Kevin Smith’s latest venture outside of his podcast. I used to be a huge Smith fan but the past few years he’s seems to have gone from “Kevin Smith: Filmmaker” to “Kevin Smith: KEVIN SMITH!”. Which is fine and more power to him, but I’d rather see his movies than HIM. Anyway, you combine a pawn shop show with comics and I’m pretty much going to have to watch it. I’m not going to say this is great television, but it’s good enough. The guys in the shop are fun to watch, and I can look past the very obvious misogyny without accepting it. It’s on with Walking Dead/Talking Dead, if it was outside of that I wouldn’t seek it out.

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082 04-11 Deep Roots (1978) 3/5
This is another “Porno Chic” era film that Vinegar Syndrome are obsessed with putting out, and as you can tell by the title, it’s a porn version of “Roots”, the acclaimed mini-series about the slave trade. Thankfully, the title is a rip-off, no one wants to see a porn version of Roots! Shame on you if you do! The basic plot is the story of a Native American who decides to live off the reservation and move to LA to experience life. Life and the women of Los Angeles are pretty fast, so the overwhelmed Billy returns back to the simple reservation life. It’s basically “A Star is Born” with porn in it. It’s quite humourous in that at no point does it appear that Billy isn’t loving city life. Add in a weird striptease with John Waters starlet Liz Renay and this is a fun little watch.

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083 04-12 Judy! (1969) 3/5
This one is a sleazy little gem of a roughie telling the story of a rogue ex-detective on the hunt for a sex killer. It’s a cheap sexploitation that is at parts inept yet hilarious. Vinegar Syndrome has paired it “The Night Hustlers”, an even cheaper sexploitation film that features a greased pole contest that has to be seen to be believe. I watched it last year (2.5/5 since it’s slow as paint drying despite being so gonzo ridiculous), so I wont review it separately, it’s currently available as a free download! Get it!

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084 04-12 The Swimmer (1968) 4/5
This one has Burt Lancaster playing a man who comes upon the idea to “swim home”, via the swimming pools in his neighbourhood. To say any more would be telling, but this plays like a lost episode of the “Twilight Zone. There’s a sense of dread and mystery that constantly builds, and the film never plays you for stupid so there’s lots to discover. I plan on revisiting this one sooner than later.

085 04-13 The Story of the Swimmer (2014) 3.5/5
This is the incredibly thorough documentary that tells the story of how the film was made. This blu-ray, put out by Grindhouse Releasing of all people, is an absolute must own if you like cult type films.

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086 04-13 Foreign Correspondent (1940) 3.5/5
This one is the second film Alfred Hitchcock made when he came to the states. I think. basic plot is a newspaper man gets promoted to be a foreign correspondent and gets mixed up in a spy plot on the eve to World War 2. It starts a little slow, but once it get’s rolling, it rolls fast with a typically amazing mystery/suspense plot that Hitch is known for. It’s also not over the top in the propaganda front. Like everything Hitchcock, it’s recommended viewing, especially the beautiful Criterion Collection Blu-Ray I watched.

Hitchcock! Welles! Weird, somewhat racist Indian porn! What more do you want from a stupid movie blog people?!?! Come on!

Next week will be more movies! Maybe. Things really shit the bed this week on a personal level so who knows what the post will be.

Enjoy the long weekend if you get one!

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