Movie A Day! Gruesome Night of Spanish Fly

Not much for news this week. Time seemed to drag and go by to quick to accomplish much at the same time. Now it’s daylight savings time Sunday and I already feel jet lagged so I’m keeping things short.


063 03/06 The Gruesome Twosome (1967) 2.5/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis attempts a horror comedy that is baffling in its ineptitude. The first 5-10 minutes is made up with a bit with two Styrofoam wig display head puppets discussing matters to set up the plot. The only reason is to shamelessly pad the run time to 70 minutes since the film fell short in editing. Once the film begins it barely improves. A wacky old woman wig maker who talks to her stuffed wild cat Napoleon has a drooling idiot son that she gets to scalp young college girls for her wigs. The gore is the only reason to watch this, despite being crappy and actually looking worse in spots compared to Lewis’s earlier pictures (The beheading by electric night bit being the exception). This is one of those films that you have to wonder why it exists since it’s not the worst plot in the world but the planning and execution of it is so piss-poor. Take out the comedic wackiness that doesn’t work and play up a Psycho rip with the boy and his mother and you would have something. As is, it’s a bonkers curio more than anything.


064 03/09 A Taste of Blood (1967) 2/5  Another HGL opus, this one see’s him doing an update on Dracula. A smarmy business man gets a mysterious shipment of blood-laced brandy, becomes a vampire and learns that he is an heir to Dracula himself. He’s then tasked with killing of the heirs of Van Helsing and all the other people responsible for killing the original Dracula in the book. It’s not a bad plot, it’s the execution that is horrendous. The usual HGL cheapness shines through, bad set-ups, ine-take acting, things out of focus, but it’s the pacing that really kills this one. Extraneous scenes go on forever, eating up the screen time to a glacial paced two hours. On top of all this, Lewis cut back on the gore so there’s no payoffs. Yet despite all that, it’s not his worst film.


065 03/10 Gilmore Girls Season 6 (2006) 3/5   This season improved over the last in that it felt like they pushed the characters ahead instead of spinning the wheels like the last one. That said, instead of just making Luke unlikable they also made pretty near every other character infuriating in their actions. Which is either brilliant writing in that it fits their patterns as established, or an unfair challenging of the audience’s patience. Main plot is Rory and Lorelai dealing with the end of last season blow out and Luke having a life changing revelation. Which are interesting plot points for sure, but had me tearing out what little hair I have left when watching them make one bad decision after another. Jess comes back for a couple of episodes and ends up being the voice of reason. Who would have thought? After all that, I’m curious to see how they wrap it all up in the next and last season.


066 03/10 The Night of the Spanish Fly (1976) 2/5   This one was the co-feature on the DVD with The Night Bird (reviewed last post) and was certainly the weaker of the two. Go-Go Wieners have been unknowingly laced with a potent spanish fly that causes the hot dog loving women of a metropolis to become overwhelmed with desire! It’s a fun plot to type out but the execution kills it with a jokey annoying voice-over setting up and rambling over uninspired sex scenes with a mostly unknown cast. I found it plodding and uninspired.

With this post I’m halfway though the Herschell Gordon Lewis boxset. I might take a time out and spend the week back in Silent Movie Land with the Mack Sennett set since My plan was to watch one disc (two films) from the HGL and spend the rest of the week watching the silents. I’m not getting in the time to do that, and I feel like I need to give my brain a break from genre films. Especially when the next pack of filth from Vinegar Syndrome is on it’s way. So maybe next post will be a little different?

Don’t hold your breath….

Movie A Day 2017! 1-8: HyperNormalisation of Uranus

The planet hasn’t burst into flames so it looks like I’ll get a start to the old movie blog. That’s a bit negative, let’s try to have fun this year, eh?

Friends, this one is smut heavy. I’m going though a boxset of sketchy 70’s horror-porn and whelp, you’re stuck with the terrible results. Things should get a little more mainstream in the future. A little anyways.

Here’s what I watched the first week of January. I kicked it off with a bang.

001 01/01 The Big T.N.T Show (1966) 3/5   This one is the follow-up to the legendary “The T.A.M.I Show”. “T.A.M.I” was the to be the start of a series of mega-concert films and was taped at the end of 1964. Featuring The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Beach Boys and others in a concert that frankly is so amazing to watch it’s exhausting. Rights to the film went off the rails (Chuck Berry demanded cash money up front and left them cash poor), the plan to have teens vote on acts for the next film never happened and the idea died with “The Big T.N.T Show”. It’s a real mash-up with The Byrds and The Loving Spoonful sharing the stage with Ray Charles and Ike & Tina Turner. It grinds to a halt with Donovan and melts your mind with Joan Biaz joining Phil Spector to sing blue-eyed soul classic “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. It can’t compete with the non-stop legendary acts of the first film, but as a snap-shot of popular music in 1965 it’s still worth a look. That said “The T.A.M.I Show” is an absolute must see.

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002 01/01 Turn On With Kelly Nichols (1984) 2/5   In the early days of hardcore pornographers were able to skirt the censorship laws by putting out “Educational” films with explicit footage. They were nicknamed “White Coaters” and by 1972 with the release of “Deep Throat” the genre was pretty much dead. The old ones are kind of dopey fun, mainly due to the very serious narration. Sadly none of that fun is found in this one, made a decade after the genre was dead and near the end of the film era of porno chic which was sliding into shot on video tape. It’s simply boring and no amount of star power or goofy narration can save it despite being technically well made.

003 01/02 The Sorceress (1974) 2/5   A woman pretends to be psychic as a front to service guys in this early hardcore feature. Nothing real great to offer, it’s sleazy and only notable for the shock ending.

004 01/02 The Scorpion (1975) 1.5/5   A nervous woman goes in search of her sister who has gone missing and has ties to a mysterious cult. My description is a billion times better than the film which is just a lazy series of horrendous hardcore scenes full of people in bad wigs.

005 01/03 Dr. Sexual & Mr. Hyde (1971) 2/5   A mad scientist makes a concoction that turns people horny. This one started out completely bonkers crazy and I thought I was watching one of the great, lost, underground films. Then the hardcore kicked in after about 10 minutes and it became dull, dull, dull. Those first 10 minutes or so though, man, amazing lo-fi stuff.

006 01/04 Rites of Uranus (1975) 2.5/5   A young woman gets roped into the Cult of Uranus, where a voice projects out of a horn jammed into a decorative plate hung on a wall and they stick candles in your bottom. You really can’t make up how bonkers these crappy early hardcore features are.

007 01/06 Waltz of the Bat (1972) 2.5/5   The Bat stole power from The Bee and survives by roping young women under his spell. It’s near the hundred year mark so the Bee has to sleep with the Bat and get her power back or she’ll turn to dust. You really can’t make this shit up. This one was actually lots of fun when it came to plot movement. The actual hardcore is as dire as the other films mentioned here.

008 01/07 HyperNormalisation (2016) 4.5/5   This is more of a visual essay than a documentary but it’s an absolute must see if you’re curious how we’ve ended up in this terrible part of history where facts don’t matter and our reality is a fiction. It’s maddening, it’s scary and it’s essential viewing despite being 2.5 hours long. WATCH IT!

Honestly can’t express enough how good HyperNormalisation is. It really feels like mandatory viewing at this point. Then again I’ve become obsessed with all the awful in the world so I’m most likely biased.

I realize in getting this started that I picked a bad time to start this thing. I’m going through a porn boxset (final disc starts next week), watching a TV series, and plan to catch up on some other series I never finished watching last year before getting back to my regular movie watching. I try to include poster art and what not, but most of these weren’t even on IMDB until Vinegar Syndrome put them out, much less have movie posters. You’re going to have to stick it out. It’s worth it. I promise!*

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*I don’t actually promise.

Movie A Day! 121-125: Lightnin’ Vermeer Burns

It’s late and I need to go to bed. So not much of an intro this post. It’s a Thursday night, the wind is trying to bring in the rain. Saturday is Record Store Day, a typical day of panic for me but this year I’m not feeling it. I’ll probably go, but I’m not sure I’m going to line up before the store opens in an obsessed fever. I’ll see how I feel on the day.

Another weird mix, but I feel a documentary film jag coming on, so that should balance the odd porno review that typically sully the blog and keeps readers away.


121 04-12 The 2015 MTV Movie Awards (2015) 3/5
A bunch of people I never heard of from movies I haven’t seen won some awards I don’t care about. It was hosted by Amy Schumer, and she’s the best and as good a reason to watch anything.


122 04-15 Powder Burns (1971) 2/5
Vinegar Syndrome dug deep on their latest Peekarma release of Alex deRenzy films. This one, billed as a “Meta-Western”, was so rare I think it was once disputed to exist at all. Anyway, I believe this one is future porn auteur deRenzy’s first attempt at a narrative film after concentrating on documentaries and loops. It’s a total mess. It want’s to be a wonky Russ Meyer romp, but it never get’s going with the amateur acting and what not. Plus it does go hardcore right at the end, so it was never going to play like a Russ Meyers film. Which is too bad, because despite the heavy print damage, the thing is actually made really good. Some of the shots of the cowboys out on their horses look really good and the idea isn’t a bad one, it just never quite works despite how much you might wish it did.


123 04-15 Tim’s Vermeer (2013) 4/5
Such a simple premise for a documentary. Johannes Vermeer was one of the Dutch Masters and known for painting photo realistic paintings. Penn & Teller’s inventor friend Tim is interested in figuring out how he did it. To say Tim is mildly obsessed is being polite, but he’s just the right amount of bonkers to be pleasant to watch on his journey to see if he can replicate the techniques, with no background in oil painting. It makes for a great documentary that reminded me of the smaller pictures that Errol Morris made focusing on individuals. The biggest surprise is that there are no tricks, with Penn & Teller attached, it’s directed by Teller, I kept expecting an Orson Welle’s type hoax to pop up and thankfully it never does. Good stuff, and worth your time.


124 04-16 The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins (1969) 4/5
125 04-16 The Suns Going to Shine (1969) 3.5
This is a pair of documentary short films by Les Blank featuring blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins. They’re quite brilliant. The first is the main film, and mostly captures Hopkins in his hometown in Texas playing the blues and capturing the community around him. It’s spellbinding. There’s a long sequence where Hopkins “explains the blues” via a song he’s making up on the spot. You wish the movie was three hours long, the less than 40 minute running time isn’t long enough. THE SUNS GOING TO SHINE is a second film made at the same time (probably an outtake), detailing the story of Hopkins leaving home at the age of eight to escape the cotton fields to become a musician. This is part of the Criterion Collection’s LES BLANK: ALWAYS FOR PLEASURE, so there are actually a couple more little shorts included on Hopkins, and it’s STILL NOT ENOUGH! (Also, watch the movie LOUIE BLUIE while you’re at it.)

One of the weird things that struck me watching Lightnin’ Hopkins tonight is the realization that the form of country blues he played is pretty much a dead form now. Anyone playing like that now would probably be labeled a poseur, and as far as a Black cultural thing, Hip Hop has taken it’s place as a form of speaking of the current Black experience. What Chuck D called “The News” for Black America. It makes one appreciate films like this even more. It’s truly a record of what is now lost. I’m sure there are people paying tribute to this music, but that seems different than creating it. Watching Hopkins play, the music flows out of him, the art being as effortless as breathing. A sign of the time and the years he put into it’s craft, art isn’t effortless to anyone if they care about it. Not a tribute of what others did, but the only music he is capable of creating. It’s a blessing that Blank was able to capture a piece of it. Hopkins didn’t want to do the film, Blank won him over finally over a card game. Hopkins made up a song about beating Blank at cards as a joke. Natural brilliance that can’t be helped.

Off to bed.

Movie A Day! 111-120: Beyond The Massacre Gun

As I write this the twitter-verse is a buzz with shock that Madonna would kiss Drake. Not because it’s a puzzle as to why anyone would kiss Drake, but because she’s apparently too old to be doing such things. I hate.


111 04-05 Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity (2 Episodes) 4/5
The latest documentary series from Theroux continues his look at the American prison system, this time specifically spending time in a mental institution treating people who couldn’t face trial due to being found mentally unfit to stand trial. It’s one of his tougher documentaries due to the mixed up morality. The crimes are nearly all truly awful, but you feel both repelled by, and sad for the people who committed them. So another great documentary series by Theroux. For those not familiar with Theroux, this is no goofy expose. Instead Theroux simply talks to people to hear what they have to say. It’s a brilliant approach that served him well in the goofy series, and works amazingly well now that’s he’s looking at more serious subjects.


112 04-05 Mark of the Times (2015) 3/5
This is a feature length special feature to be found on the MARK OF THE DEVIL disc put out by Arrow Video. It’s a pretty typical talking heads style doc, looking at the new wave of British horror in the seventies. I’m a horror fan, and a bit of a rube when it comes to this genre, so the doc was both interesting in subject matter and annoying in that I want to watch all the movies featured. The curse continues!


113 04-06 Better Call Saul (2014) (10 Episodes) 4/5
The sequel series to BREAKING BAD might actually be better than the series that spawned it. This one catches up with Saul after the events of the BB finale, then shoots us into the past where we see him pre-Saul, as hustler “Slippin’” Jimmy, attempting to turn his life around. It’s deadly good, being both hilarious and heartbreaking as well. Bob Odenkirk is putting in the performance of his as Jimmy/Saul, Jonathan Banks is back as Mike and stealing every scene he’s in, as will as being featured in what might be one of the great episodes of television, ever. Most surprising, Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins of SPINAL TAP) is also doing brilliant work and Jimmys mental breakdown suffering brother Chuck. I can not wait for season two to kick off.


114 04-07 Massacre Gun (1967) 3/5
The third release from ARROW VIDEO to arrive is a Yakuza picture. I don’t know enough about the genre to tell you how it compares to others. It’s a pretty decent gangster picture though. A hitman is forced to kill a girl he loves and all hell breaks loose. This one has a deliberate tone instead of the hyper action you would think would be in it based on the title, but it is a good one.


115 04-09 Louis Theroux: Transgender Children (2015) 4/5
Another special by Theroux, this one explores gender identity in children. It was fascinating, though sad to watch in that it seemed confusing to all involved. Theroux is typically great though in presenting. Worth a watch.


116 04-09 On Cinema At The Cinema Season 6 (2015) 4/5
As Decker comes to a close, so does the series that spawned it. The final episode was bittersweet due to the bit in the finale that has seen Gregg Turkington absent from Twitter to the time of this posting. A brilliant bit of comedy to be sure, I’m curious to see where they take it all next season since the joke seems to continue.


117 04-09 The Beyond (1981) 4/5
A second watch of Fulci’s Italian horror classic via Grindhouse Releasing recent blu-ray had me liking it even more. Basic plot is a woman takes over and starts to refurbish a hotel that has been built on one of the seven doors of hell. It plays like a nightmare with David Lynch style dream logic. If you’re looking for a normal narrative, there isn’t one to find here. If you’re want a gory fever dream, this is your picture.


118 04-10 Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief (2015) 4/5
Been waiting for this documentary and it didn’t disappoint. I already knew some of the strangeness to be found, and this one does a really good job of laying it all out in perspective. It’s the type of film where you hope some real world change happens because of it.


119 04-10 Sensual Fire (1979) 2.5/5
This is the second Tobalina film to be found on Vinegar Syndromes Peekarama disc with last blogs THREE RIPENING CHERRIES. It’s the better film in that it has more plot. Jamie Gillis plays a pervo lusting after his girlfriends daughter and seeking help in dealing with it. The main problem is typical to Tobalina in that the editing and pacing kills what could have been a decent picture compared to all his shitty orgy pictures.


120 04-10 Godzilla (2014) 2/5
Finally sat down to this one and it was a piece of shit. You have one job, and one job only when you make a Godzilla movie and that is to have it packed with monster fights. Three quarters of this one is aftermath of monster fights, and when you finally do get to see the monsters fight, it’s it the dark so it’s still mostly hidden. So fuck this movie, and fuck Gareth Edwards whose other film, MONSTERS, also had no monsters or fighting for most of the duration.

Bit long this one huh? Been in the fog a bit with poor time management. I’ll try to get it back down to 5 titles a post.

Movie A Day! 081-085: I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

The weather seems to be changing. The grim, grey of winter is turning blue, clear and warm with spring. Plus temperatures in March. It’s weird, global warming you can feel. It makes me wary. It’s too early for it to be nice, I’m waiting for the blast of arctic air to prove it is a trick. This part of the world likes to punish you when you grow complacent. Nice spring days, I’ll stay in. You’re not going to get me.


081 03-04 Blonde Crazy (1931) 4/5
James Cagney stars in this pre-code film about a bellhop who falls for a blonde maid at the hotel he works at, and gets her to join him out on the road, conning folks out of their money. Joan Blondell is the blonde, and as per usual, she takes zero shit from anyone in a great part. Cagney was on the cusp of super-stardom when he shot this one, THE PUBLIC ENEMY would of came out earlier in 1931, so it’s neat seeing him play a bit of a wanna-be tough guy who’s only successful because Blondell is there to straighten him out. Being pre-code, Blondell gets a chance to really shine as a superior, the women are always calling the shots in these films. That’s the toughest thing about watching pre-code films now, you really see how garbage many women’s roles became after the code went into effect. They go from hunters to victims. Anyway, this one was a good one, and worth a watch if it pops up.


082 03-06 Watership Down (1978) 4/5
It’s been ages since I had last seen this, back in the VHS days. Remember those, VHS tapes? You had to rewind them? Please say yes. Anyway, this one is a cartoon about a warren of rabbits forced to look for a new home. It’s brilliant in every way, with perfect animation, voice work, and it plays it straight. It’s not for super young kids, but it they’re getting restless with Disney, throw this one on and straighten them out on the ways of the world. I want a warren on a hill. The Criterion Blu-ray is as per usual pretty great, with some really nice special features.


083 03-06 Tasty (1985) 2/5
This is the bonus film on that RIBALD TALES OF CANTERBURY disc from Vinegar Syndrome I reviewed last time. Also starring Hyapatia Lee, and directed by then husband Bud Lee, this one too was shot on 35mm, and that’s about the best that can be said of this one. Hyapatia plays a DJ at a failing radio station, so she decides to sex up the airwaves to get better ratings. It want’s to be a cheeky version of WKRP IN CINCINNATI, but it just never works with too many dumb sex scenes and not enough story to carry it. That said, the music video spoof in this is about as good as you can get for the era. As far as discs go, the quality and presentation is up to Vinegar Syndrome’s standards, I just wish the actual films were better. The commentary track on RIBALD is more interesting than the two movies.


084 03-07 20,000 Days on Earth (2014) 3.5/5
Not quite a documentary, and not really a fictional film, this features Nick Cave mostly musing about the creative process. The presentation is a bit pretentious, because this kind of thing can’t help but be pretentious, but it really delves into the process of creating unlike anything else I’ve seen. Really deep. Which is good. Unless that’s part of the fictitious presentation. I would of preferred more performance footage from through the years, but that’s not the point of this one, this is Nick Cave, 20,000 days on earth. The performances we get are gold. I think this one would be good even for non-fans, if you’re curious about Nick Cave, or if you’re into songwriting/creating music/writing, that sort of thing.


085 03-07 Lust At First Bite (1978) 2/5
This is the sex heavy, alternate cut of DRACULA SUCKS (which I reviewed last October) and boy is it a doozy. The cut of DS that Vinegar Syndrome released wasn’t perfect, but it mostly made sense and worked really well as a Dracula adaptation. This version is cut to hell, makes no narrative sense, and has a bunch of over-dubbed joke lines and what not on the soundtrack to make it more of a comedy. If the sound of farting shits counts as comedy (it does). I’m guessing to cash in on LOVE AT FIRST BITE. It’s pretty terrible in comparison to DS, I haven’t seen LOVE yet. If someone was to cut the extra sex footage into the DRACULA SUCKS to make it more consistently hardcore you would end up with possibly the greatest hardcore horror picture ever made. Jamie Gillis and all are still pretty marvelous even in this disastrous version, so it would be neat for someone to take the elements and construct a “perfect” version since this one didn’t seem to have a proper release from the get go. (Based on the commentary with William Marigold, cocaine was probably the main reason for that.)

That’s it for now. As of this writing, ISIS is knocking apart ancient artifacts with sledgehammers, and I’m watching movies of all stripes. It makes you feel helpless.

Movie A Day! 021-025: “Gone, Really Gone, Girl!”

Here we are with two movies you might actually watch! Balanced with some filth and another Doctor Who.

021 01-15 Touch Me (1971) 3/5
Cracked open another one of Vinegar Syndromes PEEK-A-RAMA sets. This one features three films (CRY FOR CINDY, TOUCH ME and the previously lost ACT OF CONFESSION, 4 if you count an alternate version of CRY FOR CINDY. Those VS folks really know how to deliver the seedy goods) by Anthony Spinelli who did such good work on SEXWORLD. This first film pre-dates DEEP THROAT and is in the “classic”, for it’s time, educational style. A psychiatrist is introducing the viewer to the form of therapy known as “Encounter Groups” because the stress of the modern world and Vietnam has us all hung up man! It’s all an excuse to eventually getting around to showing people having sex, with the BS documentary form in place to try to give the film merit so the makers don’t get chucked in the clink for being dirty pornographers. Anyway, this was one of the best of this type that I’ve seen with the writing more sincere than these typically are (no “professors” telling their students to whack off to playboy like in the Ed Wood written one) and the Doctor, while a total quack (and not actually a real doctor of course) actually coming off as concerned for the mental health of the “patients”. It’s also in form with others from the era where it’s mostly a softcore picture with hardcore inserts, until the final reel or so anyway. So as a porn flick, you can do better on a tube site. As a relic of a forgotten era though, it’s a fun watch.

022 01-16 Gone Girl (2014) 4/5
Finally got my hands on the latest David Fincher film and it didn’t disappoint. Technically perfect like all his films, I loved this noir throwback. The less you know the better, go with the ride and you’re in for a real treat as this one could sit quite comfortable at the table with VERTIGO and LAURA. Affleck has never been better, we can stop shitting on him for PEARL HARBOR and ARMAGEDDON, he’s the real deal. Rosamund Pike is no slouch either, and I’ll leave it at that out of fear of spoilers.

023 01-17 Doctor Who S02E02 (6parts) – The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) 3.5/5
This is the story that should have been the season opener! The Doctor, FINALLY get’s the group back to contemporary London at their regular size, only to find London decimated by a Dalek invasion! The Daleks are enslaving humans, turning some of them into cyborg guards, to mine into the earths core so they can get their hands on the magnetism. I mean come on, how badass are the Daleks? Anyway, the Doctor solves everything, but the most notable aspect of this one is, he leaves his granddaughter Susan behind with only one shoe! She’s fallen for some guy, and he thinks it’s best for her to stay, even though she doesn’t want to! The Doctor is such an asshole! Looking forward to the next one now since I’m curious if they acknowledge the Dalek decimation of Earth as cannon or some dumb alternate dimension type thing.

024 01-17 Rush (2013) 3/5
This movie proves that even one of the most boring sports to watch, auto racing of any type, can make for an exciting movie. Or it’s just me oddly enjoying movies based on sports I hate. Anyway, this tells the true story James Hunt and Niki Lauda, sport rivals in the Formula 1 circuit in the 70’s. Ron Howard does a good job on his second car picture (GRAND THEFT AUTO was his first, it’s arguably better), and the actors are fine I guess. I mean, Thor plays the handsome Brit playboy Hunt and some guy no one’s heard of plays the miserable German, it’s about as base and stereotypical as two real people can be. Still, it’s a good one worth checking out, though admittedly I’d rather just watch an actual documentary.

025 01-17 Cry For Cindy (1976) 3/5
Anthony Spinelli goes for tragedy in this adult film from the porno chic era. It tells the story of Cindy, a girl who gets into hooking to help get her boyfriend through doctor school. It’s told as a remembrance from the people who knew her, since the film pretty much starts with her suicide. Hits all the plot points you would expect, but manages to hold your interest. Not for least the near constant queefing of Cindy on the soundtrack. Drinking game!

After a few days, if you think too hard about GONE GIRL it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But like Fincher’s THE GAME, it’s still a hell of a ride, plot issues or no. I’m already itching to watch it again. I also knocked half a star off RUSH. I really would rather just watch a documentary on the two racer guys. They lived a public life, their races were all taped. Just make a fucking documentary already!

That’s about it for this posting. I’m exhausted and can’t think of much to write.

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….)