Scary Movie Challenge 2017 Part 2

I know I said I would post these every ten films and I’m over again. It was a long weekend, so it made sense to include a full day instead of half a day. It’s my blog, I do what I want!


304 10/07 Nightmare Honeymoon (1974) 2/5   A woman is assaulted on her honeymoon and her husband acts like a prick about it. This one looks like a vengeance thriller of the era, but it just plods along never really spooking or entertaining.


305 10/07 Kiss of the Tarantula (1976) 2/5   Another find from TCM Underground that is no great shakes. A young woman uses her beloved spiders to get even with those who would hurt her. Another one that isn’t really bad, just never gets really good despite adding in a little sleaze.


306 10/07 The Bad Seed (1956) 4/5   Really enjoyed this one. You know going in what to expect, so in lieu of surprises it’s more about watching things play out. And things do play out. Patty McCormack plays the most devious little shit ever seen on film, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun watching everyone twist around her. Despite knowing the premise, there are some surprises to be had and the film is surprisingly grim for the era. Worth checking out.


307 10/07 The Intrusion (1975) 3/5   Nasty hardcore feature about a wife assaulted by a home invader posing as a travelling salesman. This genre is sleazy enough without being hardcore so it really gets uncomfortable watching it. Which makes it a success.


308 10/08 Death Watch (1980) 3/5   Harvey Keitel stars as a reporter that has cameras implanted in his eyes so he can follow a woman as she goes through the stages of dying for reality TV in the near future. More Sci-Fi/Drama than the thriller it sounds like, but a pretty solid offering all the same that goes more into character examination than exploitation.


309 10/08 Alice Sweet Alice (1976) 3/5   This is one of those films that always kicked around the cheap bins so I always glossed over it despite the Brooke Shields being the draw. She’s barely in it as far as I can tell, and the whole thing is a pretty basic slasher that doesn’t offer up much.   


310 10/08 I Drink Your Blood (Theatrical Version) (1970) 3.5/5   The drive-in classic about satanic hippies infected by rabies is far better than it should be. I mean, it’s no great shakes, but it absolutely delivers on what it promises which is what makes these exploitation films a success. From limbs being hacked off to dead goats being dragged around, it’s not for everyone but for those of us that can enjoy a dumber, gorier Night Of The Living Dead ripoff, it’s pretty great.


311 10/08 The Swarm (1978) 4/5   First off, there is no such thing as an actually good killer bee movie. That said, this one is probably the best. A all star cast featuring Michael Cain and legends Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, Olivia de Havilland among others, playing it straight and acting their asses off in a film that has billions of killer bees attacking the states, you have to respect it. It’s an Irwin Allen film, so things get absolutely bonkers by the end with the army lighting up everything with flame throwers. To fight killer bees. And it’s not the stupidest killer bee film since it doesn’t feature a scene where the bees plead to the United Nations for world peace. (That film would be the glorious The Bees.)

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312 10/09 I Eat Your Skin (1964) 2/5   This is the one that became notorious thanks to being billed with I Drink Your Blood, and I can just imagine how disappointed audiences where after viewing it. It’s an old school voodoo zombie picture with a scientist creating them as an after effect of his cancer research. Nothing exceptional at all.


313 10/09 Chopping Mall (1986) 3.5/5   In the realm of dopey 80’s horror films, you can do a lot worse than this one about a bunch of horny teens partying after hours in a mall. The new security robots go haywire and start attacking. This one is helped by its short running time, it gets to the goods quick and keep the energy going so you stay interested.


314 10/09 Blood Diner (1987) 4/5   A spiritual successor to Blood Feast, I’m rating this one a lot higher than I probably should. Two brothers grow up to follow their dead uncle’s wishes to resurrect the goddess Sheetar via a grand feast. I don’t typically like horror comedies like this, but they run absolutely wild with the dumb premise, pack it with gore and nudity and I managed to actually laugh out loud more than once at some of the jokes. It all ends up being fantastically entertaining.


315 10/09 The Driller Killer (1979) 4/5   First time watching the “Interpositive” cut, and I’m not expert enough to tell you what is added or missing. At any rate, this continues to be a favourite of mine. Abel Ferrara does not mess around, staring and playing the lead. Packed with grimy New York, from the punk music to the alleys, the whole thing simply works splendidly.


316 10/09 The Devil Rides Out (1968) 4/5   Incredibly strong Hammer offering with Christopher Lee starring as man schooled in the occult trying to save his friend from Satanic forces. Genuinely creepy and authentic feeling, even when things get spectacular. It’s great to see Lee in a hero role, and the whole thing is one of the more effective Hammer Horrors I’ve seen.

 

This bit from Blood Diner still has me laughing:

The greatest scene of all time.

A post shared by Ruz-El (@ruz_el) on

 

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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.

 

Movie A Day! 026-030: “The Walls of Jericho”

So the weather has been insanely good for this time of year this past week, averaging around 5C most days, even having light rain. It shouldn’t be nicer than about -8C. Now I hate the cold, don’t get me wrong, I plan on moving to gentler climates. This unnatural, nice, spring like weather of the past week and a bit is more spooky than enjoyable to me. Yeah, global warming keeping us out of the -40C torture is nice to yuk about, but seeing as this is the second year in a row where this chinook like wave has happened in January, it’s leaves me feeling weary of the future. Meanwhile, scientists have ticked the “Doomsday Clock” two minutes closer to midnight. The bastards.

Let’s watch some movies!


026 01-18 It Happened One Night (1934) 4/5
Easily one of the most derided genre in films is the “Romantic Comedy.” The plots and actors are often interchangeable, you pretty much know how it’s going to end before it starts. Well, they all pretty much started here. Frank Capra makes one of the first screwball comedies, and it’s a smart, funny, and yes, romantic film. Claudette Colbert escapes from her rich father’s yacht and is trying to get to New York to reunite with her dopey husband that she eloped with. Along the way she runs into floundering newsman Clark Gable and the fun begins. It totally works, both the comedy of “manners” (Sex. This film is all about the politics of sex) and the slow, burning love story. It’s the first film to sweep the major awards at the Oscars, and Capra will go on to even greater pictures with a social conscience like “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”.


027 01-19 Orson Welles: The One Man Band (1995) 4/5
This is the final, full length documentary on Orson Welles that was featured on the Criterion Collection disc for F FOR FAKE and it’s a good one. It looks on all the post F projects Welles worked on, and never completed. Featuring fragments and clips shot for all types of films, it’s a bit heartbreaking to watch. Some of it, like Welles reciting lines from MOBY DICK don’t even really make sense since they don’t look like any kind of film, but are still completely captivating to watch. I’d take a book on tape version read by Welles. There’s also a lot of cool clips of Welles performing magic tricks and of course, interviews with Welles. It’s all good, and worth checking out, especially now as it seems like they’ve figured out the logistics to release his last mostly completed film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. Fingers crossed anyway.


028 01-19 The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) 3/5
Not much to talk about with this one. It’s the fourth film in the Mummy series of Universal Monster movies, and the third to feature Kharis wandering around looking for Princess Anaka. Lon Chaney Jr. is back as the mummy, but in terrible “Burned Mummy” make-up that looks like they smeared mud all over his head. It drags along, but has a genuinely surprising and corny final act that actually makes it really worthwhile to watch.


029 01-22 Frank Capra’s American Dream (1997) 4/5
The meatiest of the special features on the IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT disc from Criterion, a feature length documentary on the the director. Like all good documentaries on the movies, this one features just the right amount of films clips to balance the talking heads. It leaves no film unturned while exploring the darker side of Capra’s personality since he dealt with bad depression all his life while making the idealistic films in the the history of the medium. My problem with films like this is it makes me want to rewatch all the films, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON should be mandatory viewing for anyone even thinking of entering politics.


030 Noon Wine (1966) 3.5/5
Sam Peckinpah hit the skids after MAJOR DUNDEE, managing to get blacklisted in Hollywood. This is a standalone story he shot for television, adapting the screenplay himself and directing. It tells a compact story of a dairy farmer (Jason Robards, who is typically great in this) who hires a Swede who’s a bit of an oddball to do all the heavy lifting on the farm since his wife (Academy award winning legend Olivia de Havilland, also typically great) is having health problems. It’s surprisingly warm for a Peckinpah film, but does take a relentless, dark turn that is surprising now, I can’t imagine what it must of been like when it aired in 1966. It ended up being a hit, Sam won awards for the script and direction, and moved on to make THE WILD BUNCH and solidifying himself as one of the great mavericks in Hollywood history. Ends up being a good film tossed on as a bonus feature on the Twilight Time release of THE KILLER ELITE.

I wonder why we no longer have anthology shows on television? At a time where HBO and the like are making better movies with series like GAME OF THRONES and THE WIRE then the actual movies, you’d think some network would block out an hour long spot to give filmmakers and playwrights a shot to have creative control to tell a story. I think the last ones we got were TWILIGHT ZONE type reboots, which is fine, but I can’t help but think a more wide open format would be at the very least interesting, if not great. Someone write Hollywood and TV a letter.

Until next time.