Movie A Day! 091-095: Muthas

Sorry folks, but the blog didn’t stop. I just fell a little behind and haven’t been watching as many movies. So if you have had enough, delete me from your reading programs.

I feel disconnected, so no more intro, only movies.


091 03-15 The 2015 Juno Awards (2015) 2/5
Ends up I know even less about Canadian music these days than I do about our movies. Alanis Morissette got a lifetime achievement and a woman named “Lights” was pretty good. That’s about it since other popular bands like host Hedly and best band Magic are pretty much shit. (For the record, I don’t recognize anyone other than Hedly in that picture)


092 03-20 Sexual Heights (1981) 3/5
This is one Carlos Tobalina’s better porn efforts. A group of bachelors decide to trick a babysitter over that their buddy is all hot over. It’s a dumb comedy, to be sure, but the actors are all game, especially lead Jamie Gillis who is always fun to watch in these. Being Tobalina, it’s still a hack effort with a couple of John Holmes scenes thrown in for no real reason, but Tobalina at least tries to have it make sense, which helps this film rise above his usual uninspired efforts.


093 03-21 The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015) (six episodes) 4/5
You couldn’t avoid this one this past week seeing as Durst was arrested the eve of the airing of the last episode for the murder of Susan Berman. Being a crime junkie, this was a must watch for me prior to that, and as a documentary series it mostly does a great job. My nitpick is actually the last episode. Sure, it’s a jaw dropper, I just have a peeve about directors pushing themselves into the film they are making. The last episode is as much about director Andrew Jarecki as it is about his subject, Robert Durst. I’m cranky about that stuff, don’t let it throw you off, this one is worth the watch in spades even if it is pure exploitation. To the point where part of me wants to avoid any updates on the Durst case so as not to spoil any future series.


094 03-22 Undulations (1981) 2/5
Jamie Gillis and a coked out John Holmes play themselves as guests on an entertainment show “Undulations”, the second film on the PEEKARAMA disc from Vinegar Syndrome that also features SEXUAL HEIGHTS. This one is pretty blah, basically a loop carrier that never really rises above the typical Tobalina standards. In fact, it’s so run of the mill that it uses the same credits as SEXUAL HEIGHTS, so it’s no surprise that it’s not as good as SH.


095 03-22 The Muthers (1976) 3.5/5
Vinegar Syndrome take a time out from porno sexploitation for a straight up exploitation classic.Jeannie Bell heads up a gang of pirates that are slaving around the pacific islands, and has to go undercover on a sugar plantation to sneak out one of their girls. So you get everything, blaxploitation, crappy kung-fu, women in prison jungle escapades. It’s pretty much the perfect movie.

Heavy on the Vinegar Syndrome this post. Don’t expect it to change much. Though I haven’t watched a film since THE MUTHERS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Macbeth Movie Poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movie A Day! 408-421 – “The End?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

45 Watched, 37 First Timers, 0 Theaters

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

33 Watched, 32 First Timers, 0 Theaters

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

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

399 Watched, 335 First Timers, 1 In Theaters

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

505 Watched, 435 First Timers, 15 In Theaters

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

My favourites of the year:

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

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

THE ART OF KILLING – Disturbing documentaries are the best.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End.

Movie A Day! 397-407: Last Christmas To The Head

We have nearly made it, only a few days left and 2014 is put to rest. Everyone making out okay? This time of year can feel like survival sometimes. My holidays are going okay, so far. It’s been mostly quiet and low key, which is what I wanted. It’s the first Christmas without dad, and mum and I are accepting it quietly while cracking the odd joke about how dad wouldn’t be impressed with us and our celebration since we’re going small.

I passed 400 titles this past week. Not bad. Watched some great, classic films, and some not so great films. As per usual. Here they are!

397 12-21 Christmas Evil (1980) 4/5
My (and John Waters) favourite Christmas movie looking fantastic on Blu-ray via Vinegar Syndrome! This one came out in the midst of slasher mania and was obviously designed to be the Christmas version of HALLOWEEN. Surprisingly, they went more psychological, so the first half plays more like a TAXI DRIVER style character study before going completely loopy. Believe me, it gets deliriously loopy, so check it out.

398 12-23 Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale (2013) 3/5
Yup, still watching Christmas specials. This one was one of the better ones mainly because Clarkson can sing anything in a way that doesn’t drive you up the walls. The sketches aren’t as good as the performances, but the performances are all good and Clarkson has a fun personality.

399 12-23 Masterchef Canada Holiday Special (2014) 3/5
Stumbled on this one. They brought back 5 contestants from Season one, who along with their families compete in cooking challenges with the winning family getting $10,000 for their favourite charity. It was surprisingly fun, and since it’s Canadian, everyone was happy, working together and having a good joyous cry instead of baiting and trying to screw everyone over like the American version.

400 12-24 Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls (1979) 4/5
This is one of the porno chic titles that gets tossed around as being a classic so it was nice to finally view it via Vinegar Syndrome’s release. Directed by Bob Chinn, this one fits right in with the teen sex comedies that were popular at the time. Think of PORKY’S or ANIMAL HOUSE type comedies, except with hardcore sex. John Holmes starts as an owner of a pizza shop who has a gang of sexy, skateboarding delivery girls who deliver pizzas throughout San Francisco on their skateboard as a cover for hooking. There is a mysterious “Chicken Rapist” out to get them, run by a fried chicken group who want to put the Pizza Girls out of business. Desiree Cousteau is back playing her naive dumbbell persona that she did so well in PRETTY PEACHES, and future feminist porn director Candida Royalle is memorable as well as one of the Pizza Girls. Cut out the porn, and it would still be a fun and funny little film.

401 12-25 2014 Disney Parks Christmas ‘Frozen’ Parade (2014) 2.5/5
This was on Christmas morning and was probably your last chance to see Ariana Grande soullessly warble out a Christmas song. Seriously, if it was a variety type special from this year, Grande was part of it. I guess she won the magic ticket.

402 12-25 All Is Lost (2013) 3/5
This one has Robert Redford as a guy dealing with sail boat that has a hole in it. In a twist, that it all this movie is about. All of it. No kidding. A guy on a boat, by himself. So your enjoyment will be based on if you don’t mind watching a guy on a boat with a hole in it for ninety minutes. I liked it, and I thought Redford did a really good job. That said, I don’t think I’m going to be spinning it a ton. It’s a neat experiment and change of pace, but not completely successful. I have a sneaky feeling that this one was made as Oscar bait to get Redford a statue.

403 12-26 The Green Mile (1999) 4.5/5
This is the best of Frank Darabont’s Stephen King prison novel adaptations, which is saying something since the other one he did was THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. I like this one better though, since it has gruesome executions and Tom Hanks pissing all over the place to balance the sentimentality that is borderline over-sentimental. Plus it has that god damned mouse!

404 12-27 Doctor Who Christmas Special – Last Christmas (2014) 2/5
405 12-27 Black Mirror – White Christmas (2014) 4/5
These should be the last of the Christmas specials for me. Doctor Who had Nick Frost as Santa, sorry, as Father Christmas since it’s British. Anyway, he was a great Father Christmas but the episode dealt with Jenna and her dumb boyfriend. For fuck sakes, that shit was wrapped up in the season finale! I thought we were done with her and her horseshit. I’ll give next season a chance, but I’m far from excited for it.

I never did watch BLACK MIRROR SEASON 2, and I’m going to rectify that toot-sweet since this Christmas special was excellent. John Hamm and some other guy are working at some unexplained job on Christmas, and Hamm is telling stories of what brought him to the isolated outpost. It’s smart and cynical, Brooker has a dead tight script and Hamm has never been better. I want more Black Mirror please, even though season two is supposed to be a bit dodgy.

406 12-27 Bullet To The Head (2012) 2/5
Walter Hill finally gets a new movie out, and it sucked. Walking human Growth hormone experiment Sylvester Stallone is a hitman who gets set-up on a bad job and has to work with a cop to sort things out. It hits every dumb cliche there is to hit. The cop is Korean, so there is way too many Asian jokes at his expense to get a pass in this day and age, and 90% of the dialogue seems to be exposition to explain what the characters are doing, and why they are defying all common sense and logic. So skip this one.

407 12-27 Oui, Girls (1981) 2/5
A detective goes undercover at a swingers ranch to solve a murder. I think that’s the plot. This one was spoken of pretty highly in the book THE OTHER SIDE OF HOLLYWOOD, and was considered to be director F.J. Lincoln’s best film. As a porno, it’s not bad, but as a movie it just didn’t make any sense with way too many plot holes. I know, it’s a porn, but I expected more. Pizza Girls delivered a plot, no reason this one shouldn’t have. F.J. Lincoln is also mostly known for his role as one of the attackers in Wes Cravin’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, so between that and the hype from the book, this one was a let down.

That’s it for now. There will be one more post, The wrap up for 2014! I’ll try to post it this week anyway.

I’m on the fence with continuing this blog into 2015. It’s actually a bit of work writing these dumb mini-reviews and finding the posters and math. Ugh. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Movie A Day!: 390-396 -“Work? I saw a baby blown apart at my ‘Work.'”

How is everyone doing? Everyone holding up? Christmas and the holidays are descending like a fog and it’s hard not to get caught up in it. I continue to not feel the spirit. Maybe it’s from being old, single and childless, but in the “take it or leave” it side of Christmas, I could leave. Except for the turkey dinner, I like that part. I’m going to try to get out a bit over my Christmas week off work and hopefully not get totally despondent like I usually do. Hopefully all of you do the same.

Here’s my last week of films, some really good ones!

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390 12-15 Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943) 4/5
I’m rating this one higher than a non-fan of the series would. This was the first big monster meetup picture for the Universal Monster series, and as such acts as a sequel to THE WOLFMAN and THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN. That said, it’s more of a sequel to Wolfie since it largely follows the story of Talbot and his werewolf curse. Anyway, it totally delivers and manages to be a really dark picture as far as tone goes. It’s also notable for being the only time Bela Lugosi would play Frankenstein, and he does a pretty good job other than they fucked him over. Carrying on from GHOST, the monster was supposed to talk in this one, but the studio thought it looked corny and cut all the dialog. So you have poor Bela stumbling about with arms flailing looking a bit wonky when he’s actually playing the monster blind, which you will never know since they cut the dialog explaining the blindness. Still, in the end, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, I just wish Universal would get off their asses and restore these since the print used on the DVD is the worst one in the set, so far.

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391 12-16 Michael Buble’s Christmas in New York (2014) 2.5/5
12-16 A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 5/5
12-16 Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales (2002) 1.5/5
Yup, I’m still getting rooked into Christmas specials. This year, 2014, is the year in which some new singer named Ariana Grande is on every TV special. Some how dopey Canadian crooner Buble roped her into singing on his special. Grande is technically a good singer in that she hits the notes, but she’s one of those soulless, mechanical singers that appear to be reading a phone book, with no care or effort happening, that always spooks me and makes me not like them. This special is also the second special to feature the legendary Rockettes kicking their legs all over the place. I don’t get them either. Give me some tap dancers and I’m in. This corny revue stuff leading into leg kicking is a bunch of bullshit. The highlight, and the reason I’m giving it 2.5 stars. is Buble sings “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Miss Piggy, with Miss Piggy taking the rapist part that the guys usually sing. Awesome!

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is a classic that you should have seen by now. The other one was terrible, featuring gaggy vignettes that I’m guessing were taken from the actual daily strips. It didn’t work as a cartoon special, and actually put me off getting some of the beautiful strip reprints that Fantagraphics have been putting out.

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392 12-17 Captive Wild Woman (1943) 3/5
Ever wanted to see a movie where a mad scientist turns a gorilla into a beautiful woman that can control lions and tigers to help a circus act? Here’s your chance! This is as wonky a Universal Horror title as you will find, and a heck of a lot of fun. To a point, and that point is to be found in how much animal mayhem you can enjoy before thinking thay should leave the poor wild beasts alone. Seriously, nearly half of the 61 minute running time is tiger and lion taming, and it’s just inherently cruel right? At least they got to be in the movies so we could enjoy their torture forever and ever. Right? Hello? Still with me?

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393 12-18 Zatoichi in Desperation (1972) 4/5
Zatoichi star Katsu directs this one, the second last film in the original series, and holy shit is it a dark one. At this point, Zatoichi is pretty much running on instinct and barely able to live with himself after all the constant failures of redemption and killings that go with them. It’s got the typical, trying to help people and gets mixed up with the Yakuza plot, but everything is gritty, poor and brutal. Katsu does some unnecessarily flashy flourishes in the directors chair, but it doesn’t take away from the naturalistic feel of this one. One more film and I’m done. I DON’T WANT IT TO END!

394 12-19 Noah (2014) 3.5/5

Maybe it was low expectations due to this one getting a critical thrashing but I really liked it. It’s a gonzo version of the Noah’s Ark story, but I’m fine with the filmmaker taking liberty with the source material, especially if it’s Darren Aronofsky. Visually impressive like all his work, and the film moves at a pretty quick pace. Russell Crowe and the rest of the cast are just as good, and it’s nice to see a Bible film deal with the real world ramifications of “miracles” in a more realistic way (despite this being a fantasy picture) than in wonder and awe of how amazing things are. If that makes sense.

395 12-20 Prisoner of Paradise (1980) 3/5

Adult auteur Bob Chinn takes on WW2 with John Holmes with this one. Holmes washes up on a deserted pacific island, only it’s not deserted after all. Nazis have set up a secret listening post, run by a porky dude, and two wicked female guards, one of them porn legend Seka. Everything is set-up to be some prime, gonzo Nazisploitation, but Chinn plays it more like a straight WW2 actioner with porn in it, so it never really takes off despite the cast all doing a pretty decent job acting. Seka as the nasty bitch head guard and Holmes as the burned out navy survivor steal the show, but there isn’t much to steal in this one.

396 12-20 Out Of The Furnace (2013) 3.5/5

This one seemed to sneak out last year with no one really talking about it. Christian Bale stars as a steelworker who is trying to keep his family together after a brief prison stint for a DUI accident. It plays like the character study type noirs that came out in the seventies, in a good way. Pitch perfect performances abound with Casey Affleck as his troubled little brother, Willem Dafoe as a small town gangster and Woody Harrelson as a violent, hillbilly sociopath. This is such a different film than what typically comes out these days with a cast like that, it’s well worth a sit down to watch.

There it is, not a huge week compared to some I’ve had, but all the films were good so I’ll take it. OUT OF THE FURNACE is really sticking with me, two days later. Definitely one I’ll spin again at some point and will recommend.

This is probably my last until Christmas, so have a happy one doing whatever you do or don’t do around the holiday you may or may not recognize. To quote Paul F. Tompkins;

“Don’t get drunk and fight each other.”

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! : 214-229 “The End of August!”

The end of August! How the fuck did that happen? Where did summer go? This is a long one, so enough philosophical idiocy and on to the movies!

214 08-25 The Curtain Pole (1909) 2.5/5
This is the very first film included in a new, Hi-Def Mack Sennett collection. Whose he? He’s the guy in the picture that pretty much invented “Slapstick Comedy” and would go on to discover nearly every major figure of silent films. Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, all got a start with Sennett. He is ground zero for comedy. This one is co-directed by the legendary D.W. Griffith (director of the notoriously racist BIRTH OF A NATION) and is about a guy who buys a really long curtain pole who gets drunk and proceeds to knock people down all over the place while trying to get it home. Look, this is before there was such a thing as Hollywood or even multi-reel movies. D.W. will later be key in inventing editing as we know it, and no one will remember this goofy little movie.

215 08-27 Zatoichi’s Cane-sword (1976) 3/5
This one was once again a little different from the previous ones, just enough to keep it being interesting. Zatoichi once again get’s mixed up in all kinds of small town Yakuza intrigue. The difference in this one is that a master sword-smith informs him that his blade is used up, after one more killing, his cane-sword will break. This little nugget means that the film has a lot less action than previous entries and a much different tone in that it relies more on character work. It’s still a good film, and never boring. It is definitely slower paced though. That said, the look of this one is the best yet, it has that amped up look and style that can be found in the spaghetti westerns of the period, which makes sense since spaghetti westerns and Samurai films really go hand in hand with each other.

216 08-28 A Wind From The South (1955) 2.5/5
This one is another live television broadcast of a play. Starring Julie Harris (EAST OF EDEN and THE HAUNTING) as an Irish girl looking after the family inn with her dickhead brother. Americans are visiting, and she finds fleeting romance. As per the other plays in the set, the performances are top notch, this one even includes an Irish fiddle band complete with kids doing a fling. My problem is the melodramatic, soap-opera like plot isn’t really my cup of tea.

217 08-28 Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Season 1 (2013) 3/5
If ever there was a show on TV that should be MY show, this would be it. For some reason I never got excited about it. Actually, I know why I never got excited, it’s about Agent Coulson. Why this character is so popular, I have no idea. Anyway, a Marvel comics show spawned from the superhero movies without any superheros, I don’t see the point. (Expect to see this phrase repeated if I end up watching GOTHAM, the Batman show without Batman that DC are forcing upon us next year.) Many will tell me that the point is Joss Whedon is the show runner so it will be amazing. Whedon’s hand is definitely apparent in that everyone has supermodel looks and all the characters have the same voice. Just like Buffy and Angel and his best work, FIREFLY! Now, alllllllll that said, I didn’t hate it. The first episode is so shit terrible quality wise I nearly stopped watching (network TV soundtracks/sound mixes are an annoying pet peeve of mine which is why I’ve never seen LOST), and most of the first half of the season is largely uninspired. I held out since people I trust (nerd, geeks and other losers) kept telling me how good it was, and the second half of the season is indeed better and actually manages to be good. I’m torn between thinking the big twist is a cheat or inspired writing. It’s not cumming-my-pants-off great like BREAKING BAD, but it’s good enough that I’ll watch it next season.

218 08-29 Hotel Chevalier (2007) 3.5/5
219 08-29 The Darjeeling Limited (2007) 3.5/5
Yup, more Wes Anderson. Darjeeling tells the story of three brothers reunited a year after their father’s death on a spiritual journey through India to see their absent mother. This one left me flat the first time round, but I really enjoyed this second viewing. That’s why you should watch some movies more than once I guess. HOTEL CHEVALIER is a short film about one of the brothers, Jason Schwartzman’s character that leads into the main film but is separate enough that it makes sense that it was released separate. Anyway, it’s good, even rat faced asshole Adrien Brody is good in this.

220 08-29 All Night Long (1975) 2/5

This was the first film in a PEEKARAMA double feature by Vinegar Syndrome that features two films by the same director, and both starring porn legend John Holmes. This one, about a competition between two guys who have to bed a bunch of women in order to win the “Golden Rod” award pretty much stunk. Holmes couldn’t be more disinterested in this one, his typically never quite hard monster dong is so flaccid that he has to literally stuff it into the women. It’s as horrific to watch as it sounds. No wonder porn has a bad name. The plot never elevates the film to proper “Porno Chic” status since it’s a loop carrier of the most base kind with the linking narrative never working as a comedy. I’m going to guess this didn’t actually win “Best Erotic Film” as the poster claims.

221 08-29 Punk Rock (Soft Version) (1977) 3/5
222 08-30 The Pleasure Palace (Soft Version) (1979) 2/5
I needed a palate cleanse after ALL NIGHT LONG so I watched this double feature by porn auteur Carter Stevens. Typically, softcore versions of hard core porn should be avoided. The reason I picked this one up was because of PUNK ROCK. To pad the running time lost by cutting out the hardcore, he added in clips of bands playing at punk mecca Max’s Kansas City in New York. In fact, when Steven’s was in pre-production, the main band “The Stilettos” had Debbie Harry singing. She left prior to filming to form “Blondie”, and sadly, The Stilettos and the other bands (The Squirrels have the coolest jackets ever) left in the film are more bad than good. It’s still a heck of a time capsule of New York punk though. The film isn’t bad either. A detective story where a PI is looking for a missing girl. the first 20 minutes or so is hampered editing wise since it was more porn than plot, after that though it’s pretty much a cop film with the odd sex scene that needs editing to keep things softcore.

Pleasure Palace suffers more from being cut to softcore since it’s the story of a New York cop and his lawyer buddy buying out a whore house and running it. So really, plot wise, it’s flat out porn and pretty near the first two thirds of the picture play like a mid-level raunchy comedy with the good bits cut out. Then something happens. Legend Jamie Gillis shows up as a crime boss wanting to move in on the whore house, and after one more edited sex scene, the film plays out for nearly thirty minutes with nary a porn bit. And it’s a really good thirty minutes of crime film too. Gillis is dead solid in the roll, and the other main leads Eric Edwards and Robert Kerman (Cannibal Holocaust) are just as good as the entire tone of the film shifts. I’m curious to pick up the porn version, I bet it plays better and would make it a 3.5/5 picture.

223 08-30 Blue Thunder (1983) 3.5/5
224 08-30 Ride With The Angels: The Making of Blue Thunder (2006) 3.5/5
So, I think I was ten years old when I first saw Blue Thunder, and let me tell you, it was one of the greatest movies ever made. Ever. So revisiting it thirty years later, it’s not. It’s a bit hackney in the way eighties action films seem now, but… it still totally works. Despite the hacky-ness, once things really get rolling in the third act, time travel took place and I got wrapped up in it. Geezer, modern day Russ can also appreciate the cast. Daniel Stern in a very early, pre-C.H.U.D roll, Malcolm McDowell as the asshole baddie and character actor Warren Oats is tremendous in one of his last rolls.
The making of on this one is done by Charles de Lauzirika. You might not know the name, but DVD fans know that the best documentaries to be found on their favourite movies tend to come from him, especially on Ridley Scott discs. This one is no different, is pretty near feature length when watched all at once and is as fun and entertaining as the film it’s about. To be completely honest, it was the promise of the de Lauzirika doc that sold me on the Blu-ray. (and it was $10)

225 08-30 Tapestry of Passion (1976) 3/5
This one is the second film on that disc with ALL NIGHT LONG and is a way better movie. This one stars John Holmes as “Johnny Wadd”, his iconic detective character that made him the biggest adult star, well, aside from his monster cock. I’ve never seen a Johnny Wadd film, so I don’t know how this compares to the others in the series. On it’s own, it’s way more entertaining than other film on the disc, and has a better cast too with Annette Haven (BARBARA BROADCAST) and others. Not the greatest film ever made, but makes the disc worthwhile at least. In one of the oddest things I’ve seen in a porn film, the movie ends about a third of the way into a threesome with the three main stars. Who’s editing choice was that? My only critique with Vinegar Syndrome is that their films are so fucking bonkers, they need liner notes or something to explain what you’re watching.

226 08-31 Cry Wilderness (1987) 2.5/5
227 08-31 In Search of Bigfoot (1976) 3.5/5
Speaking of Vinegar Syndrome being weird, here’s a PG rated Drive-In collection of bigfoot movies. BIGFOOT MOVIES! The first, CRY WILDERNESS, is terrible. It’s about a boy who has befriended Bigfoot, though no one believes him because why would you? The boys off in a boarding school because his dad is a forest ranger and has no time to raise him. Bigfoot shows up in the middle of the night as a weird vision to warn him that his dad is in danger, so the kid hitchhikes to the forest and who cares. It’s a feel good family film about a boy and bigfoot that manages to just be strange since everyone is overdubbed in a most horrendous fashion. This makes for many scenes of adults laughing at animals like raccoons making a mess of a kitchen like they are on a strange acid trip. Why was this film made? Why is it over dubbed when the actors are speaking english? Why would VS release it? These are all questions I can not answer.
IN SEARCH OF BIGFOOT is a straight up documentary about a guy who has seen bigfoots all over the god damned place and fuck it, he’s gonna catch a Squatch and prove the haterz wrong! As far as gonzo documentaries from the seventies go, you can do a lot worse. It’s hilarious, but the dudes commitment to catching a bigfoot is so strong, that when it all ends in tears it’s kind of touching. In true seventies fashion, they have to have a wet t-sirt waterfall frolic for the grindhouse pervs. Awesome.

228 08-31 One Hour Photo (2002) 3.5/5
229 08-31 Lensing ‘One Hour Photo’ (2013) 3/5
Spun this one for a second viewing. Probably not the greatest film to watch of Robin Williams since it’s so incredibly dark, but fuck it, he’s amazing in it. You’ve seen the film so I won’t explain it other than to say that if you think it’s dated due to the fact that no one uses film in their cameras anymore in the digital age we live in, you can pretend it’s an early assignment of Agent Coulson’s from before he was recruited to be an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D since he’s in it in a bit part. I’m including the documentary on this one too since it ended up being directed by Charles de Lauzirika and was as interesting as you would expect. It was also completely different in approach compared to the BLUE THUNDER one, which is why he’s so damned good at this making of stuff.

Few! That was a bunch of movies huh? I like that dumb SHIELD show and squeezed in an awkward Robin Williams movie in light of his passing. Let’s look at the numbers.

44 Watched,  32 First Timers,  0 In Theaters

Not bad, this is more on track to last year!

38 Films, 36 First Timers, 3 Theater

For the first time this year, I beat last years numbers! Oh, some might think I’m cheating counting a 8 minute silent film and “making of” documentaries on DVDs, but I also watched 3 TV shows! So I did good this month.

Best of August: THE ASSOCIATION and SILICONE VALLEY.

The End