Movie A Day!: Desperate Hellraisers

Another week of film, film fans! Catching up on special features from discs I watched in October, but snuck in a few films.

Desperate Poster
410 11/01 Desperate (1947) 3/5   Better than average noir about a truck driver that gets roped into committing a crime and has to clear his name. Main issue is that lead Steve Brodie is completely overshadowed by heel Raymond Burr, so you find yourself waiting for Burr to show up instead of getting wrapped up in the main story. Still good time though.

Train to Busan Poster
411 11/01 Train To Busan (2016) 4/5   South Korea proves once again that they are one of the best at producing genre movies. If there’s a tired genre, it’s the zombie film. Having a contained outbreak on a literal train is a bit of a stroke of genius, and the film completely delivers not just the action, but enough humanity that you may find yourself tearing up.

Ronin Poster
412 11/03 Ronin (1998) 4/5   It’s a film that’s  completely driven by a MacGuffin, but it’s so well done it’s hard not to love it. The car chases are great, but what really keeps it interesting is the film never feels like it has to give everything away as far as the characters go, as well as the purpose of the plot. Makes for a tight action film and at a level with John Frankenheimer’s other classics.

Image result for the sinful pleasures of reverend star
413 11/03 The Sinful Pleasures of Reverend Star (1977) 2/5   A cult is using hypnotism to prey on young women in this poverty row porno. Not much to make it stand out.

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Poster
414 11/04 Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) 4/5   Massive, four hour documentary going into the complete Elm Street history and featuring nearly every major person involved. If you’re interested in the history of the series, this one is for you since it’s made for the fans.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Poster
415 11/04 The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) 3.5/5   Film noir about three childhood friends who cross paths as adults. Barbara Stanwyck is Martha, and neither Van Heflin or newcomer Kirk Douglas are a match for her. Stanwyck really is just the best.

Document of the Dead Poster
416 11/04 Definitive Document Of The Dead (2012) 3.5/5   Documentary on George A. Romero. Starts off strong, going pretty deep in the process with Dawn Of The Dead, but starts to wander later on. Still well worth a watch.

Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II Poster
417 11/05 Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (2015) 3.5/5   Massively detailed and long documentary on the making of the two films that manages to tell everything you want to know, without the participation of Clive Barker. Which means that despite how packed with info and stories it is, you can’t help but feel like you’re missing something.

Django, Prepare a Coffin Poster
418 11/05 Django Prepare A Coffin (1968) 3/5   I’ve not dived into the Django films, which means I was honestly lost for most of the set up to this film as I’m guessing there’s a presumed familiarity at play with it. Once it got going it ended up being a good but not particularly memorable spaghetti western.

419 11/05 Hell On Earth: The Story of Hellraiser III (2015) 3/5  Significantly shorter documentary by the team that brought you Leviathan. It’s the story of Hellraiser III which sadly never mentions cult porn legend Flame as one of the dancers, but tells you everything else you need to know about the film.

Scary Movie Challenge 2017: The End

Here it is! The end of the scary movie challenge. Final total was 113 films with 80 first time viewings. I’m pleased. More first timers this year than any previous year, and more recent titles too. Anyways, this means this blog will start posting once a week again, maybe less since I plan to catch up on special features from the piles of physical media I watched. Here’s the last few films.

The Little Shop of Horrors Poster
396 10/28 The Little Shop Of Horrors (1960) 3/5   Roger Corman’s 2 day wonder has tons of charm but I don’t love it as much as others. Still a fun little film and Jack Nicholson’s bit is worth hanging around for.

The Hills Have Eyes Part II Poster
397 10/28 The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984) 2/5   While I didn’t find it to be the worst film ever as some think it is, it’s far from good. Holding no comparison to the quality of the original, it’s a run of the mill “Teens stuck out in the middle of nowhere” type deal that has zero charm and just plods along.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Poster
398 10/28 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 4.5/5   Wes Craven’s classic hold up just fine. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it, it always delivers though and manages to be scary.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge Poster
399 10/28 A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) 3.5/5   I actually enjoy this one more now than I did back in the day. Clever switcher-oo with a boy being the one pursued instead of the girl

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors Poster
400 10/28 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) 4/5   It’s not as good as the first one, but it’s my favourite in the series. I love the idea of the kids banding together to fight back. It’s also great catching up with the characters from the first one. It’s as if part 2 never happened.

Saturn 3 Poster
401 10/28 Saturn 3 (1980) 2.5/5   I haven’t seen this one since I was a little boy and watching it now as a big boy, it’s not good. A sci-fi film where you are lead to believe that Farrah Fawcett is in a consensual relationship with million year old Kirk Douglas, it also features the great Harvey Keitel sounding like you have never heard him before since they dubbed his voice. Directed by the great Stanley Donen – Singing in the Rain will always be one of my most favourite movies – and featuring a killer robot, it’s ridiculous how they get everything wrong. You know you’re in trouble when the opening shot references Star Wars and the music is like a Star Wars/2001 A Space odyssey blend.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master Poster
402 10/28 A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) 3/5  I actually enjoyed this one more than I remembered liking it. Continues on from the last one, Freddy has sadly turned into a pun-machine. That said, it’s fun if not a bit forgettable.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child Poster
403 10/29 A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) 2/5   Everything I’m willing to give a pass to in the fourth one gets far too annoying in this. The child stuff is corny, none of the characters are likable and not even Freddy can bring the fun.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare Poster
404 10/29 Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) 2/5   You couldn’t ask for a worse ending, despite a good cast. It’s more goofy Freddy’s kid stuff and it’s simply a drag.

New Nightmare Poster
405 10/29 Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) 4/5   The series goes meta with this one, finding the actors of the first film having to deal with Freddy in the real world. It works really well, but I find it runs a little long. That said, I’ll take this one over the last couple films any time.

Rabid Poster
406 10/29 Rabid (1977) 4/5   I really got a kick out of this one during this viewing. Cronenberg’s take on a zombie like plague has the body horror he’s known for and is admittedly a little corny in some of it’s stings. Not enough to annoy though, it’s always enjoyable.

Dead Ringers Poster
407 10/29 Dead Ringers (1988) 4/5   A story about identity between two identical twins that swap roles, it’s the kind of thing that most filmmakers would use as a surprise ending. Cronenberg starts the film with the “twist”, and then dwells on the ramifications for the rest. Lacking the graphic shocks of his earlier films, this one manages to be more disturbing. It might be Cronenberg’s best film, which is saying something considering how solid of a director he is.

Green Room Poster
408 10/30 Green Room (2015) 2.5/5   A punk band take a gig at a nazi bar and witness a murder. I just never got into it despite a great cast and a film that does everything right for the most part. I’ll probably revisit it to give it a second chance since I feel like I’m missing something.

Shin Godzilla Poster
409 10/31 Shin Godzilla (2016) 3/5   If you ever wondered how the Japanese parliament would deal with a giant monster attack, this one is for you. The monster stuff is amazing! Using CGI to build the ultimate “rubber suit” style monster to wreak havoc, it’s a stroke of genius and some of the best giant monster stuff you’ll see. Sadly it’s bogged down in never ending political bureaucracy that is so detailed in its minutia it’s ridiculous. Why no one can make a dead solid Godzilla film in this day and age is beyond me. That said, it’s light years better than the 2014 American film.



Movie A Day!: Imitation of Jacks

Another mixed bag of a week. Sort of. I decided to watch some un-watched Criterion Collection discs this month, which lead me to watching all my David Lynch titles that are not in boxes in prep for re-watching Twin Peeks before the new series. Despite only two of those Lynch titles where from Criterion. Mix that up with some oldies and a cheeky Vinegar Syndrome title and it’s not a bad week at all.

136 05/07 The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Russ Meyer (1988) 3/5   A very well done biography on Meyer hosted by Jonathan Ross that manages to hit all points of his career included his start as a combat photographer in WWII. It also shows a clip of a possibly 8 hour documentary that Meyer was working on his own life that would of been amazing but was apparently never finished. A real shame. I would love to see a proper feature length doc on this man.

137 05/07 Imitation of Life (1959) 4/5   Lana Turner stars in this soapy melodrama from Douglas Sirk about a struggling, mature actress in New York who befriends a black housekeeper, Alice (played by Juanita Moore, and she is fantastic) and together they find success. Well, sort of, they stay in their roles based on race and that’s really what this movie is about. Alice has a real struggle with her rebellious, white passing daughter that is far more interesting than the trials that Turner has that leave her in a near constant state of helpless hysteria. You can clearly see a through-line from these style of Sirk pictures to John Waters since his characters are always in the same state hysteria. Anyway, this was pretty great since you don’t think of these sort of topics in 50’s films. Also, Sirk really is great at this stuff. He has a workmanlike sense of direction, but it’s pretty perfect.

138 05/07 Blue Velvet (1986) 4/5   After Dune floundered, David Lynch somehow got the chance to make a film closer to his sensibilities first explored in Eraserhead. It was interesting watching this one on the back of Imitation of Life since they have a pretty similar world of 1950’s like innocence, only Lynch’s small midwest town is a perverted nightmare. Jeffrey, played by Kyle MacLachlan, finds and ear in a field and becomes obsessed with solving it’s mysteries that leads him to a world of pain. Dennis Hopper is absolutely brilliant as the force of nature Frank, Isabella Rossellini is fantastic as the damage nightclub singer Dorothy and Laura Dern manages to hold her own as the symbol of everything good, the girl next door. It’s aged very well, and still holds all it’s power to remain one of Lynch’s best films.

139 05/09 Wild At Heart (1990) 4/5   David Lynch does the Wizard of Oz as a bonkers Elvis inspired road movie with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern starring as Sailor and Lula who spend most of the film either ruminating or fucking. It has no business being as good as it is. Lynch went genuinely weird with this one and it completely works. Willem Dafoe is unforgettable in his small role and it’s fun to see legends Harry Dean Stanton and Diane Ladd go a bit bonkers. Crispen Glover, man, priceless. I’m too much of a Lynch fanboy to call this one my favourite, but it just might be.

140 05/11 Champion (1949) 4/5   Kirk Douglas takes the lead in this boxing noir about a guy and his handicap brother who is on the skids so Kirk gets into the fight game for the money. It starts off pretty standard, but soon Douglas’s mercilous ambition creeps through and the emotional bloodletting eclipses what’s in the ring. I don’t think I have seen Douglas more unlikable in a movie. This one was a real treat, and recommended.

141 05/11 Mulholland Dr. (2001) 3.5/5   David Lynch’s Neo-Noir about an actress caught up in a mystery is considered a classic, but I just can’t get into it. It’s gorgeous, everyone is on point, it’s delightfully “Lynch-ian” and I can’t knock a thing about it. I have just never warmed to it. Maybe I’ll “get it” the next time I watch it.

142 05/12 Funny Face (1957) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire star in this musical about a frumpy beatnik girl that gets whipped up into the world of high fashion. Hepburn is far too adorable to be frumpy, but she’s surprisingly good in this musical and manages to steal the film with her avant-garde beatnik ballet sequence in a cafe that’s supposed to be played for laughs. Astaire more than holds his own and it’s all looking spectacular under the direction of the legendary Stanley Donen, who also directed one of my all time favourite films, Singing in the Rain. It’s crazy that it’s taken me this long to watch this one.

143 05/12 Her Wicked Ways (1983) 3/5 Jesie St. James stars as a gold digging heiress who has just inherited a billion dollars and Joanna Storm is the daughter trying to get the money back in this adult romp directed by The Lewis Brothers. It’s not the greatest adult film you’ll ever see but it’s just so well done compared to the regular fare in the period that it it ends up being pretty fun. Storm is a real scene-stealer and definitely helps to keep the film moving. The Peekarama DVD from Vinegar Syndrome is a real winner.

144 05/13 One-Eyed Jacks (1961) 4/5   The only film that Marlon Brando directed is this western. I think it’s just me but I think it’s weird that his only directed film is a western. Seems weird, right? Anyway, this is a typical vengeance tale with Brando’s Rio seeking out old partner Karl Malden’s “Dad” Longworth who ditched him during a bank robbery. It’s a gorgeous film and done with the naturalistic acting style Brando was known for and just completely works. There’s a feeling of distance and brooding that is tricky for films to nail, and the support cast featuring Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado are all perfect as well. Recommended.

One-Eyed Jacks also ended up being the last film shot in VistaVision so I managed to watch two VistaVision films over the weekend. You just never know what’s going to happen when you blindly watch stuff.  Isn’t the world marvellous?

Hold your loved ones tight.

Movie A Day! : 174-185 “You spend a year for two hours, who give’s a shit?”

So still on staycation. I had a massive BBQ pulled pork sandwich the other day, if anyone was wondering how the getting fit project has been going.

Right, despite my attempts, this is going to be a long one since I have to recap the month. Let’s look at my amazing final week of watching and read some reviews! YES!

174 07-24 Hell’s Kitchen Season 12 (2014) 2/5
I stopped watching this show a few years ago since it got so incredibly ugly and manipulative I couldn’t stomach it. I got sucked into watching the latest season, and it continues to be an absolute horror. The only positive was when a contestant finally had enough and walked out on Ramsey after one of his epic, made for TV meltdowns. Ramsey deserves to have the shit slapped out of him.

175 07-25 Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) 3.5/5
Sam Peckinpah is a polarizing director. People tend to love him or hate him, and this film won’t be any different. Basic plot is Alfredo Garcia has gotten a Mexican Crime Boss’s daughter pregnant, and he has put a price of one million dollars on his head. Warren Oats plays a flunky American who has a lead on Garcia’s whereabouts. Oats has probably never been better, matching the typical Peckinpah macho ideal with an almost painful sensitivity and humanity. Like all of Peckinpah’s films, this one really is about the individual who just can’t seem to exist without the world bothering them. Also like most Peckinpah films, this one has a bit of a misogynistic streak that features a scene as awkward and uncomfortable as the rape to be found in STRAW DOGS. If you stick with the film though, there’s lots of things going on behind the slow motion violence that makes it interesting, and a bit ahead of it’s time.

176 07-25 Young Secretaries (1974) 2/5
This is the second feature on Vinegar Syndromes PEEKARAMA disc, paired with the previously discussed DEEP TANGO. Like that film, it’s a bit of a mess. Basic plot is an ad exec is being pressured to hire a young buck into the firm. It plays like a softcore MAD MEN spoof by way of Herschell Gordon Lewis, only not as inept. The most surprising thing about it is it’s softcore, so it feels extra dated seeing as it came out two years after DEEP THROAT kickstarted the porno chic era. The disc itself, despite a warning at the start that the elements were in exceptionally bad shape, still looks pretty good with no major flaws and most of the issues are with the colour in DEEP TANGO. So as far as PEEKARAMA discs go, this one probably has less re-watch value since they films really are more odd than good, but still not a bad value if you’re into this type of sleaze.

177 07-? Chopped Canada Season 1 (2014) 3/5
I’m sticking this one here since Season 1 is apparently finished, but I had no idea since there was no big wham-bam ending. Anyway, CHOPPED CANADA is the same as CHOPPED in that it features 4 chefs competing in 3 stages where they have to cook with mystery ingredients with a winner being chosen at the end. It’s more polite than regular, American CHOPPED, and for my money, it’s the best of the cooking competition shows since it’s all about skill as opposed to screwing someone over, fake drama and side competition nonsense found in HELL’S KITCHEN and those other shows.

178 07-26 Ace in the Hole (1951) 4.5/5
179 07-27 Portrait of a “60% Perfect Man”: Billy Wilder (1980) 3/5
Billy Wilder followed up his amazing film noir SUNSET BOULEVARD with this satire and critique on the media. Kirk Douglas stars as a down on his luck newsman forced to hit the sticks to find a job and hoping for that one big story that will get him back to New York. He finds it when a man gets trapped in a mine, and is able to exploit it. Staggering both in it’s dark humour and sad truth. Fifty years later and this kind of stuff is happening pretty near every week in our current media climate, which means this film has lost none of it’s edge. Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see it. PORTRAIT is a documentary on Wilder that was included on the stellar Criterion Collection Blu-ray (along with additional material) and was pretty informative in it’s own right. Highly recommended.

180 07-27 Unholy Rollers (1972) 3/5
This one is a Roger Corman produced roller derby picture. Think WHIP IT, but with a tough as nails angry girl in the lead and you get the picture. This one features nearly constant derby action which helps to keep the film moving, and the performances are pretty good as well. It also features Roberta Collins (DEATH RACE 2000) in a support role, and she’s always great. The one big complaint, and I was tempted to knock half a point off it, is that the music was replaced with some god awful generic rock that is just horrendous. This was due to licensing costs, and as far as I can tell there is no way to get this movie with the original music intact. It’s a shame, but the movie is fun enough that you can overlook it.

181 07-27 Knightriders (1981) 3.5/5
After hitting it big with DAWN OF THE DEAD, George Romero got a three picture deal that gave him more creative freedom than he had ever had. The first film he made was this one, about what is basically a biker gang, except they live by the code of King Arthur and the knights of Camelot, traveling around putting on renaissance fair like bike shows. So you get the biker tropes of wanting freedom and what not mixed with jousting duels. It shouldn’t work, but it does with both Ed Harris putting in a strong, early leading man performance, and make-up effects legend Tom Savini being equally strong in the main supporting role. Keep a sharp eye out for Stephen Kings cameo, he would later collaborate with Romero on the second film of the deal, CREEPSHOW. Anyway, this one was good, and the Shout Factory Blu-Ray looks stupendous with some nice special features.

182 07-28 Vicious Lips (1983) 2/5
I nearly gave this one 3 out of five. It’s a cheap Sci-Fi comedy about an all girl band that gets a once in a lifetime shot as a high profile gig and gets into all types of wacky trouble trying to get there. The performances are way too broad to be campy, and the humour all falls flat. It’s so EIGHTIES in it’s look and feel it gags you with a spoon. That said, the songs are actually really good! It throws you for a loop. If there was more band and less shenanigans, it would actually be a really good movie. Despite being dirt cheap, the production values are pretty good too. In the end though, it just doesn’t work.
This one was the last film in a four part CULT MOVIES VOL 1 set that also featured INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS, DEVIL’S 8, and UNHOLY ROLLERS. Putting two films per DVD means the transfers aren’t the greatest in the world, with BEE’S suffering the worse. That said, for under ten bucks it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Not even the best song!

183 07-28 Zatoichi and the Chess Expert (1965) 3.5/5
More samurai goodness. This one finds Zatoichi mixed up in more yakuza trouble after ripping off some gangs while gambling. It’s fun and epic like all the films manage to be and I’m yet to get tired with this amazing series. It is weird that the poster are so shit considering how good the movies are.

184 07-30 Somewhere in Dreamland – The Max Fleischer Color Classics (2002) 2.5/5
This is a nearly complete collection of the Color Classics series of cartoons, featuring all but one. This was basically Fleischer’s attempt at competing with Disney’s SILLY SYMPHONIES, and they just flat out aren’t as good. There are a handful that are great, and the animation is fine, they just overall don’t work as well. The real problem with this DVD though is the source material. All the films but the one missing are in the public domain, so the only available versions short of paying large fees for access to the negatives are TV prints, which means these all look like hell with faded, scratched and beat images. It’s better than nothing and for an independent release about as good as you can get. With commentaries and what not on the DVD, they really have done all they can, but when the main cartoons look like hell, all the extras in the world won’t help. All that said, one of my all time favourite cartoons is on here!

185 07-31 The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) 4/5

I remember seeing this one when it first came out and being left flat. Being a big fan of the Coen brothers previous films, especially MILLERS CROSSING and BARTON FINK, this one just seemed silly. It still does, but it really works perfectly as a revisiting to the Frank Capra films like MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, with the satire being that of corporate culture that was rearing it’s head. I had also forgotten how amazingly breathtaking Jennifer Jason Leigh is in this one, perfectly nailing the rapid fire dialog. Add in Bruce Campbell is a supporting role and this one is little gem in the Coen brothers filmography.

Phew! Are you all still with me? Here is my tally for July:

32 Watched, 31 First Timers, 0 In Theaters

Finally! I managed to not only watch the equivalent of one movie a day, but I managed to watch new movies per day! Hooray! Here are my numbers from July 2013, for comparison:

47 Films,  40 First Timers, 2 Theater

Dang! Last year I was doing a regular movie night once a week where we would get in at least three movies. Who wants to start up a local movie night in Edmonton? Anyone?!?

I’m currently at 185 films watched, compare to 280 that was this time in 2013. I’m 100 movies off target. No need to wonder if this is a good thing or bad.

My pick for best of the month is a tie between ACE IN THE HOLE and NEBRASKA, with SUGAR COOKIES, the Ernie Kovacs Collection and those ZATOICHI movies being runners up.

That’s enough for now, share, suggest, comment, etc.

The end