Movie A Day: Death Heat

The week began with literal murder threats on loved ones and ended with the heat making it impossible to sleep in a house designed to have winters not kill you. Here’s hoping you all had more fun than me.

A mixed bag. I’m on a documentary/bio-pic jag with diversions into classic films and porno. So pretty typical, I guess.


187 06/25 The Snake Pit (1948) 3.5/5  Olivia de Havilland stars in this one about a woman sent to a mental hospital with no recollection of how she got there. A doctor helps her piece together her story and it’s a little hokey. The main reason to watch this is de Havilland is absolutely amazing in it.

188 06/26 Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon (2017) 3/5   A good recap of his history of abuse. It’s horrible to listen to the stories, of course, but valuable and not as exploitative as it could have been.


189 06/26 Bettie Page Reveals All (2012) 4/5   A really well done documentary with Page (via voice over interview clips) telling her own story. There will never be a more iconic pin-up model and the doc does a great job of not only telling her story but packing in tons of pictures and footage. That said, the blu-ray disc is an abomination with one of the worst sound designs that I have ever heard. The music (which isn’t great to begins with) is mixed way too hot and often drowns out the people speaking, only to get even louder when they are not. I’m tempted to knock a star off the review but I’m guessing it’s a mix on the blu-ray and not on the film proper if viewed elsewhere. I’m hoping anyways, since it really is terrible.


190 06/27 Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland (2017) 2/5   A made for TV biopic on the pop star’s final years as told by his bodyguards. It avoids all talk of child molestation and paints the bodyguards as saints. That’s really the problem with this one, it’s hard to root for Jackson to get back on his feet when you know he’s molested children, so fuck him and his money problems, right? Chad C. Coleman from The Wire is the main lead bodyguard and he’s great. Navi is shockingly, creepily good as Jackson, but it’s just not enough to make me care about a child molester.


191 06/28 In A Lonely Place (1950) 3.5/5   Bogart stars as a down on his luck screenwriter who gets wrapped up in a murder he may or may not have committed. Bogart is great in the role, getting to play a not as nice guy as he typically did at this point in his career and Gloria Grahame more than holds her own as the inspired love interest. It’s a good film but I didn’t find myself wrapped up in it.


192 06/29 Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016) 3/5   This one was in the works just prior to both of the stars passing, so it’s a bittersweet affair that I wanted to like more. It shows their eccentric current life, but doesn’t go too deep in what brought them to this point. So if you go in not knowing too much about them, you’re going to be a little lost since they come off kooky. That said, what it does deliver, it delivers well.


193 06/29 I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole (2013) 4/5   Really interesting documentary on dancer, choreographer, pornographer and chef Wakefield Poole. I know him from the porn, he’s arguably the greatest gay adult filmmaker of all time (with his “Bijou” easily one of the greatest adult films of all time.) It was interesting to see how close he was to the front lines of gay rights though, with numerous stories and encounters with Harvey Milk and other political heros. A really well done picture, and Poole seems like the sweetest man in the world despite having a bittersweet history.


194 06/30 The Times Of Harvey Milk (1984) 4/5   Great documentary on the first gay man to hold public office in California. I was familiar with him through Gus Van Sant’s film Milk, but it was great to see the real story. A bittersweet film considering how it all ends, you get a really great sense of who Harvey was and why it was such a tragedy.


195 06/30 Pleasure Maze (1986) 2.5/5   A rather workmanlike effort of an adult film about robot hookers and their testers which is all an excuse for 80’s futuristic costumes and run of the mill sex scenes one would expect of the era. The fantastic cast helps to elevate it, but it’s no classic.


196 07/01 Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014) 4/5
Ends up the story behind the picture is as bonkers as rumoured. I’m not convinced that Stanley would of pulled the film off if he stayed on, but it is fun to think about. Sadly missing is Ron Perlman’s fantastic Brando story which can be found on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. At any rate, this is one of the better documentaries on filmmaking and worth checking out.


197 07/01 Love & Mercy (2014) 3.5/5  Bio-pic on Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson uses the trick of casting Paul Dano as young 60’s Brian and John Cusack as 1980’s Brian trying to get his life together with the help of Dr. Eugene Landy. It sounds weird, but if you have ever seen a documentary on Brian, it makes sense. This one was well done, it goes pretty deep into both the music and Wilson’s troubles, though I could see a non-fan getting a little lost and wondering what the big deal is.

198 07/01 Lovers Lane (1986) 2.5/5   The second feature on the Peekarama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that featured Pleasure Maze is less inspired and even more workmanlike. Director Duck Dumont knows how to shoot, it’s too bad he doesn’t push himself in these two features. Then again, it could be the sign of competing with  SOV 80’s wall to wall porn. At any rate, the cast helps this one, but not enough to put it ahead of any other of its like.


199 07/02 A Band Called Death (2012) 4/5   Back in the early 70’s three black brothers were inspired to move on from their funk band and start a rock group. They called it DEATH, and they were punk as fuck before there was a proper name for punk. Not the cool New York punk either, but the edgy hardcore sounds that came out in the late 70’s early 80’s. Anyway, they were completely ignored, never got their record out and finally are getting their due. This documentary is really quite fantastic as despite their name, they are such positive people and seeing them finally get some of their due is wonderfully inspiring. It’s as much a family story as it is a music doc and really worth checking out.


200 07/02 Heat (1995) 4/5   Nice revisiting this one, my first time watching the “Director’s Definitive Edition”. One of the best heist crime movies ever made, I have to admit that Pacino is as scenery chewing in this one as he is in SCARFACE. All acting sins are forgiven with the incredible LA shootout sequence that is one of the most perfectly shot action scenes you will see. It all holds up just fine and the cast listing is absolutely bonkers.

 

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Movie A Day!: 300-310 – More Milestones

I hit film 300, and I wanted to cheat so that it was the awesome “Scanners” instead of the not as good “Visiting Hours.” Sadly, I’m too honest. 😦

300 10-17 Visiting Hours (1982) 3/5
This is one of those films that has stuck in my brain as being one of the scariest, greatest horrors ever made. The only reason is due to my parents not letting me watch it after “MY BLOODY VALENTINE” gave me nightmares back in the early 80’s. It’s pretty run of the mill stuff. An outspoken news woman ticks off a psycho misogynist who gets obsessed with killing her. The best part of the film is Michael Ironside as the killer, he genuinely seems like a brutal creep as the psycho, and the film turns the page on the typical slasher film by spending quite a bit of time with him instead of the victims. Otherwise, it’s nothing special, not even William Shatner in a bit part as the TV producer.

301 10-17 Scanners (1981) 4/5
This is one I hadn’t seen since it’s VHS debut in the 80’s, and it’s great that it holds up amazingly well. Telepathic “Scanners” are fighting for control, to possibly rule the world. The better subtext is the military industrialization of people as technology seems light years ahead of it’s time in our current world. Patrick McGoohan in a supporting role is fantastic as always, and it’s got heads exploding for the gore hounds. Pretty near a perfect picture, and David Cronenberg would move on from this one by getting even better.

Scanners II Movie Poster

302 10-18 Scanners II: The New Order (1991) 2/5
Ten years after the first film, a cop is trying to create a Scanner squad so he can take over the city. This one is Canadian in the worst way, and just annoys the shit out of you. All the neat stuff in the original is completely ignored in order to show how hard it is to be a Scanner, and to make heads explode. A garbage sequel. Good thing there’s a third one!

303 10-18 Scanners III: Who Gives a Shit (1991) 1.5/5
Fuck this movie.

304 10-18 Antiviral (2012) 3.5/5
David Cronenberg’s kid Brandon makes his big debut with this one. A near future tale in which people aren’t satisfied with just watching their favourite celebrities, they want to feel like them by being infected by their diseases. It’s a messed up tale, and Brandon does a hell of a job with it. A total weird, creep fest that’s worth checking out.

305 10-18 Rabid (1977) 4/5
Another Cronenberg classic. A woman gets experimental plastic surgery that becomes parasitic, causing her to need to feast on human blood. It’s also contagious, so she is patient zero for a pandemic. Really creepy to rewatch with the current Ebola situation, this one pulls no punches and is just as effective today. Porn star Marilyn Chambers in her non-porn debut does a pretty good job, too.

306 10-18 Driller (1984) 3/5
This one is a porn spoof of Michael Jacksons “Thriller”, and man if only. The first 30 minutes is some of the greatest camp you will see, with 2 big dance numbers to offset some ridiculous sex scenes. It’s as perfect a spoof of a video as you could possible want. Sadly it falls apart after that with most of the middle being weird, camp and dull sex scenes, until the final 20 minutes that see’s the return of the “Pop Star” to finish the film off with more dancing and singing. Actual broadway style singing and dancing to a cliche 80’s beat. So as a campy 80’s memento, it’s pure gold. As a porno, it’s terrible, even by porn standards. But if you like the ridiculous, think the insane 80’s dance number from “Night Train to Terror” but with worse music and more camp, dare I say fey dancing, mixed with terrible porn scenes, there’s a lot to like. I’m surprised this doesn’t have more cult status.

307 10-19 The Victim (2011) 2.5/5
Michael Biehn directed this one. He was going for a “Grindhouse” type vibe, but he failed completely. So what you get is a not very good thriller about crooked cops out in the woods partying who accidentally kill a stripper and try to cover it up. Biehn gets mixed up in it while trying to save the stripper who escaped. It’s just never gets interesting, and isn’t trashy enough to be fun like the “Machete” type films that play as a homage to the seventies.

308 10-19 Chained (2012) 3.5/5
A killer snatches a woman and her 9 year old kid, and ends up keeping the kid alive to be his housekeeper. To say much more than that would ruin it. Incredibly dark film by Jennifer Lynch, it could have fallen apart at anytime but she keeps the idea moving forward in some surprising and complex ways. Vincent D’Onofrio is great and disturbing as the kidnapper.

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309 10-19 The Invisible Ray (1936) 3.5/5

This one features Boris Karloff as a mad scientist, and Bela Lugosi as the good guy scientist. So it’s another rare film where Lugosi is a good guy. Karloff uses a ray to scan a beam from Andromeda that shows where a meteorite struck Africa 200,000 years in the past. They all go off in search, Karloff gets assy, finds the meteorite and is instantly poisoned by it so that he gets a death touch. Karloff gets Lugosi, who is a master of astro-chemistry and is experimenting on “creatures” (black kids, in the gross casual racism of the time), and he manages to find a cure so that Karloff can manage the death touch and not be turned to dust. So while Karloff is busy using radium X from the meteorite to melt mountains, Lugosi is using it to cure all the ails of mankind. It doesn’t end well. This was one of those old films that is so completely horseshit as far as plot goes, that it manages to be quite fun. It’s another Universal Horror that that features a leading love interest dude who is a total garbage leading man that you just wish would be killed. Any film that starts with a placard explaining that all of scientific innovations were once dreams of “mad men” is going to be bonkers in a good way, and this one holds up the theory.

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310 10-19 The Battery (2012) 3.5/5

This one was a nice play on the zombie type film. In fact, as far zombie films go, this one probably is a poor one with it’s lack of gore and all the other things that typically make up a zombie film. Instead it’s more of a character study of two men, baseball teammates but not really friends, dealing with the zombie apocalypse. By not relying on zombie film tropes and instead relying on character, it actually handles this stuff better than THE WALKING DEAD has in it’s four seasons of television. Being a film from a first time director, he can’t quite keep it together the whole time, and as good as the end is, it’s starts to flag a bit. Still well worth a watch though. (I had to look it up.a “Battery” is the team of a pitcher with his catcher in Baseball. So that’s were the title come from. Ugh sports.)

Right, that’s it for today. I might see you all on Wednesday for Star Who? We’ll see! Remember to share with your friends, etc, if you so desire.