Movie A Day!: Decline of Baby Strange

The heatwave has locked in and I’m coming down with a summer cold. Cursed! Here’s what I watched last week. Nearly done with the documentary/bio-pics and I had a rare outing to a first run movie!!


201 07/03 Sea Dog’s Tale (1926) 3/5 Billy Bevan takes the lead in this one as a Englishman who gets hoodwinked to a island to marry a native girl. It’s got some fun bits if you can get past the racial stereotypes and black face.

202 07/03 Hoboken To Hollywood (1926) 3.5/5 Billy Bevan’s gets has to pack up the family and move cross country to LA on a job transfer and gets into all types of shenanigans. Lots of good bits, this one works really well and sees Billy play a bit of a prick that separates him from most of the other comedians of the time.


203 07/03 The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) 4/5   Thanks to Shout Factory I was finally able to get my mits on this one. Since it was impossible to find in my neck of the woods. It was worth the wait. A fascinating look at the LA punk scene and featuring a pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag and The Germs which features future Foo Fighter Pat Smear. Some bands come off more sincere than others but almost all of them are kids so it’s hard to tell really. At any rate, it’s a crucial document.


204 07/03 The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years (1988) 4/5   This one is the polar opposite of the first one. All the punk attitude is gone and everything is sex, drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll. The old guard like Aerosmith, Lemmy, and Alice Cooper seem to shoot pretty straight while the new bands like Faster Pussycat come off as complete imbeciles. When this one came it, it was pretty hot stuff as I was into the scene. Watching it now, it’s hilariously bone-headed and the sincere explanations for the glam make up is cringe-worthy. Another must see documentary.


205 07/04 Baby Driver (2017) 4/5   The best of the (I think) two action musicals I have seen.  It completely delivers on the premise of a wheel-man fueled by tunes. Everyone in it is pitch perfect and despite a rather contrived ending the film is such a joy I can forgive it. Edgar Wright just simply knows how to make great movies and this one is no different.


206 07/05 The Great McGinty (1940) 3.5/5   A hobo gets swept up into politics thanks to a gangster’s scheme to throw city and state bucks into real estate. SOUND FAMILIAR?!?!? This one from Preston Sturges has some biting commentary on politics and great performances but didn’t reach the heights of his other work for me.


207 07/06 The Lost Weekend (1945) 3.5/5   Billy Wilder takes a hard look at alcoholism in this one with Ray Milland starring as a writer whose life is ruined by the booze. It plays like a film noir except drink is the dame that brings ruin to the main character. It’s good, but even at the worst depths Milland seems to mostly have a handle on things due to his natural charm, despite going all out.


208 07/07 Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’ (2013) 4/5   A fantastic documentary on Hendrix that covers all the bases as well as showing tons of clips of him performing. Not much else to say, if you’re interested in Hendrix, this is the one for you.


209 07/07 The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (1998) 4/5   Spheeris is back, 10 years after Part II to reexamine the LA music scene but instead delves into the lives of the Gutterpunks, homeless punk rock kids that basically escaped their abusive homes. It might be the best film of the series. It never judges or tries to manipulate you, it simply depicts their lives and lets them speak for themselves. This series of films is essential stuff.


210 07/08 Doctor Strange (2016) 3/5   Finally got around to watching this one and it’s simply okay. These Marvel films have all settled into their groove so there’s not much to say. Doctor Strange is a prick, gets humbled, finds his true power and quips the whole time like every other Marvel superhero. Some great visuals that were frankly used better in Inception, and some okay fight scenes. Nothing else to say.


211 07/09 Hit So Hard (2011) 4/5   A really great documentary about Hole drummer Patty Schemel who struggled with addiction. They get everyone from the band, including Courtney Love, back to tell her story, and Patty taped everything so there’s tons of great footage of Hole on the road and performing back in the 90’s. Add in a mini-history/commentary on other women drummers through history and it all adds up to being great.

 

When the worst film you have seen is Doctor Strange, it’s not a bad week.

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Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 4

Last week was the Presidential inauguration and I found it to be such a massive cluster fuck that I totally forgot to post this, the last of my Scary Movie Challenge list.The day that this posts is also the Bell “let’s Talk” day on Twitter, where every tweet using the hashtag  results in a $.05 donation to mental health initiatives. A large part of my mental health coping is watching movies.

I’m not sure if watching this many movies in one month helps your mental heath.

080 10/25 Leviathan (1989) Blu-ray 3/5   If I remember right this one came out the same year as The Abyss and was pretty much completely forgotten. The case claims it’s “Alien underwater!” and it really wants to be that. Sadly it’s just a really well done monster movie. No classic, but worth a watch.

081 10/25 Evilspeak (1981) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This is my favourite of the anti-Satan scare films of the early 80’s. A kid who’s being bullied at military academy finds a Satanic text and starts inputting it into his Apple II, awakening all sorts of evil stuff. Clint Howard is great in the roll of the kid, and the film gets totally nuts. Makes me want to track down Mazes & Monsters, the other great scare film from the era. It was also nice to watch this uncut on Blu-ray. My previous viewing was via a bootleg download that had the scenes cut during the Video Nasties period inserted but sourced from a bad VHS looking copy. Funnily enough, most of the cut footage was the goofy Satanic text on the Apple II as opposed to violence.

082 10/25 Attack of the Puppet People (1958) DVR 2.5/5   If your movie has something to do with people shrinking or growing into giants, odds are that Bert I Gordon is behind it. This one was too goofy to really enjoy. A weirdo doll maker is shrinking people into dolls for companionship. They never really “attack” either, and there’s a drive-in scene that showing Gordon’s The Amazing Colossal Man which is a massively superior film to this one and reminding the audience of that doesn’t help matters.

083 10/26 Cat People (1982) Blu-ray 3/5   It’s not as good as the original, but it’s not the worst thing either. It’s a case of style over substance, and it mostly works. I would rate it higher but it has some pacing issues. Gorgeous soundtrack though.

084 10/26 The Dark Half (1993) Blu-ray 2.5/5   George Romero tackles another Stephen King story and it’s just too much of a good thing. Basic story is a writer decides to “kill off” his more popular pseudonym, only to have the pseidonym manifest and start killing people. It’s not a bad idea, and the book is great. At 2 hours it makes for a plodding movie.

085 10/26 Bereavement (2010) Blu-ray 3/5   I forgot I had watched this one before. Not a bad movie that gets pretty crazy, about a madman that kidnaps a kid. I just found out this is actually a prequel to Malevolence so I guess I should track that one down.

086 10/26 Burnt Offerings (1976) DVR 4/5   This one is supposedly one of Stephen Kings favourite movies and you can certainly see aspects of The Shining in it. A family rents a house for the summer and starts to become affected. This one a really good, mainly due to Oliver Reed being so intense through out. The rest of the cast with Karen Black and Bette Davis were great too, but man Reed is shithouse bonkers in his intensity. Worth it just for Reed’s performance, with the movie being equally interesting.

087 10/27 The Believers (1987) Blu-ray 2.5/5  I had memories of this one being hot stuff and controversial on release but it ends up being a pretty boring thriller. Martin Sheen is a police psychologist who gets mixed up investigating Voodoo crimes in New York. Some neat ideas and fine acting but it never really adds up to much.

088 10/27 Mazes and Monsters (1982) YouTube 2/5   Evilspeak had me craving this one and I should have left it alone. I recall it being great, but it’s just plodding and stupid. Tom Hanks and his friends get way to into Dungeons and Dragons and the result is boring.

089 10/28 Deathrow Gameshow (1987) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Goofy comedy that doesn’t work as a comedy or a horror film where convicts compete for pardons. It’s over the top in 80’s smarm and is more annoying than good.

090 10/28 Nightmare Sisters (1988) Blu-ray 3.5/5   A trio a sorority girls become succubi after playing around with a crystal ball. It’s painfully bad in the acting department, but the trio is played by Scream Queens Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, and they turn into naked succubi which makes it all worthwhile. It ends up being a lot of fun.

091 10/28 Hobgoblins (1988) Blu-ray 2/5   Not as bad as Troll 2 as far as Gremlins rip-offs go, but it ain’t very good. When you can’t do better than Ghoulies as a horror comedy, you know you’re in trouble.

092 10/28 Pretty Maids All In A Row DVR 2/5   Rock Hudson stars in this thriller about a series of high school girl murders. Except the majority of the film is about a high school boy with boner problems. This one is supposed to be a black comedy but it never really worked and worse, felt like it would never end. Written and produced by Gene Roddenberry. Gene’s better in space.

093 10/28 Murder Weapon (1989) Blu 3/5

094 10/29 Deadly Embrace (1989) Blu 2/5   A pair of erotic thrillers, meaning “Skinimax” type fair in which women with big hair really get off on kissing guys bellies. Both star Linnea Quigley with “Murder Weapon” about a pair of mob daughters getting out of an asylum being the better of the two mainly due to how insanely gory it gets in the latter half. “Deadly Embrace” sounded like more of the same but sadly it’s just a mediocre skin flick about a neglected wife who hires a pool boy. It’s boring.

095 10/29 The Exorcist (1973) (Theatrical Cut) Blu-ray 5/5   First time watching the original version in years and it still holds up as one of the greatest films ever made. It’s genuinely spooky, of course, but what’s equally impressive is the craft behind it. The score, sound design, acting, shots, editing, all in perfect harmony.

096 10/29 The Doctor & The Devils (1985) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This one is a retelling of the story of “Burke and Hare” legendary grave robbers turned murderers who sold bodies to the London Medical College. This one was really well done. It’s shot more like a drama as opposed to a comedic horror film that the story usually gets. Really worth checking out.

097 10/29 The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) blu-ray 2.5/5   This one isn’t actually one of the worst films ever made, as it’s routinely championed to be. It is a mess though. Adding a bunch of unnecessary psychic mumbo-jumbo to the story doesn’t help. It’s full of ambition and big ideas, it just never actually works. I think this is at least my 3rd time seeing it, and I have to admit it didn’t drive me crazy like it did previously. That said, why Martin Scorsese thinks it’s so great is still a mystery.

098 10/30 The Exorcist III (1990) Blu-ray 4/5   This is one that I never found that great but really clicked with it on this viewing. George C. Scott takes the role of Detective from the first film, this time investigating the murders of the “Gemini Killer”. This one ditches the psychic stuff and concentrates more on the nature of evil. It’s also hilarious while being scary.

099 10/30 Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Better than the Renny Harlin re-shoot, but it still doesn’t work. This one follows the story of Father Merrin that is mentioned in the original film, but they change the entire thing for reasons unknown. It’s interesting, but ends up being too muddled to work.

100 10/30 The Puppet Masters (1994) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Another retelling of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This one switches things up a bit by concentrating on a government agency trying to figure out and contain the invasion. Think “The X-Files” only with Donald Sutherland. It works, though it plays more like an action film that a horror.

101 10/30 Darkman (1990) Blu-ray 4/5   Mix-up the best traits of the Universal Monsters and slam them into a pulpy superhero story and you get another winner from Sam Raimi. Raimi nails this stuff with style and humour and the cast featuring Liam Neeson and Francis McDormand manage to pull this one off.

102 10/30 The Conjuring 2 (2016) Digital 3.5/5   I’m a big fan of the first one so I was looking forward to this one. It’s good, and I found it to be pretty spooky. Only problem is they go too big in the second half so it loses a bit of its charm. That said, it’s still a fun journey.

 

103 10/31 The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976) Youtube 2/5   After hearing about this one for years I finally gave it a watch. I have zero nostalgia for Paul or the 70’s, so my interest was only out of the cult/campy aspects. It’s simply bad. Painful skits, painful jokes, Kiss rock and are hilarious and yeah, it all adds up to being weird. It’s still not any good.

104 10/31 The Initiation (1984) Blu-ray 3/5   The latest from Arrow arrived in my mailbox so I gave it a spin. It’s an okay slasher but nothing special despite one of the most convoluted plots I’ve encountered yet. An amnesiac college girl is being stalked by a killer from her past, only it’s way more complicated.

And that is it. I broke 100 films in the 2016 challenge, the “winner” was 149. Oh well, there’s always next year.