Movie A Day!: The Immortal Joy

Hey look! Another week of movies! Who would of thought? Spring is finally hitting which meant that yesterday of this writing I was able to rake the yard. Yard work, never ending yard work. Yay for summer!

I started and ended the week with “Women stories” movies directed by men that didn’t feature pornography. Yay me! I think… they were both pretty good. Onward to movies!


112 04/23 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017) 3/5   If there is one person that mums love, it’s Oprah Winfrey. And who can blame them? Oprah seems to be the only morally grounded billionaire on the planet today. Anyway, mum was the reason for this one being watched and it’s actually pretty good. The true story of the family and the woman who gave us the HELA cells that continue to be the basis of biological studies. It’s a good movie with top notch performances. It’s a bit muddled though in that it never finds a balance between the science and the family so you never get a clear vision of either. Mum thought Oprah was just wonderful.


113 04/23 Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies (1925) 4/5 A blitzkrieg of gags from Billy Bevan allows this slapstick comedy to roar. A scientist develops cars that run on broadcast electric wave-forms that sends the petrol industry into a tizzy. Great stuff and about as close to a live action cartoon as you will find.


114 04/24 The Match King (1932)  2.5/5   Scumbag Warren William is back, this time playing a bullshitter who manages to take over the world’s matchbook industry based on dodgy bank loans without having any actual wealth or collateral to carry the debt. SOUND LIKE ANYONE CURRENTLY ALIVE AND THE PRESIDENT OF A SUPERPOWER NATION?!?!? Anyways, for a pre-code film it’s pretty tame but it never really gets off for me. There’s only so much interest to be gleaned from the match industry.


115 04/25 A Rainy Knight (1925) 3/5   A sweet little comedy about a clerk attempting to woo a woman and getting caught up in a love triangle. Not much else to say about this one. Probably most notable now for being an early work from Warner Bros. house director Lloyd Bacon who cranked out some gems in the ‘30s like Busby Berkeley’s Wonder Bar.


116 04/26 Ever In My Heart (1933) 3/5   A fine melodrama that find a loving German/American couple torn apart by racism during World War I. Barbara Stanwyck is the lead as the American wife and despite this one being a bit overblown it really works well and is unflinching in it’s depiction of the petty racism that happens during wartime.

This one wraps up the Forbidden Hollywood Vol 10 set. Again, not as strong as earlier entries in the series, but still a lot of fun. Sad that this one appears to be the final volume as these sets were good value on top of the entertainment. I’d give the set as a whole a 4/5.


117 04/27 Saturday Afternoon (1926) 4/5   Harry Langdon takes the lead on this short, playing a hapless little guy with an overbearing wife who decides to attempt to step out behind her back. Langdon is just so damned good in this, he plays everything so small in contrast to the big stuff Keaton and others would do. Even his incredibly dangerous car stunt at the end is played little. It’s hilarious and sweet at the same time.


118 04/28 The Wrecking Crew! (2008) 4/5   Documentary on the legendary studio musicians who played on all the songs you love from 60’s that came out of California. Watching this you find out they played on even more than you thought. A fantastic documentary centering more on guitarist Tommy Tedesco (played the lead guitar on Batman and Hawaii 5-0) since it was directed by his son, it’s great that it allows all the other to tell their stories. And the stories are great. Recommended.


119 04/28 Ladies Night (1980) 3.5/5   Annette Haven stars as a frustrated football widow who goes out with her girlfriends to a cheesy “Ladies Night” for some action. It’s pretty standard adult fare for the period but Haven has genuine star power and the mythical “Lewis Brother of Detroit” have the chops to elevate this one into something more than the usual with some artistic touches.


120 04/29 Joy (2015) 3/5   David O. Russell is back with his make pretend gang Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper for this one about an industrious young woman who refuses to stop pushing forward with her dreams despite the near abusive negative support from everyone she encounters. I’m torn on this since it’s really good as far as subject matter and performances go, but the tone rubbed me the wrong way. O. Russell presents this like a fairy tale with a narration, as if this woman’s story is a wonderful fantasy, because what woman would push this hard and not give up? Am I right guys? It seems really wrong headed since it is based on a true story. Presenting this story a little more straight and it would of elevated it. I don’t know, I could be wrong. People identifying as women, please feel free to tell me in the comments.

Not bad for the week, a nice variety.  I just can’t burn through those silent comedies like I would like to. Drives me crazy that it takes me two nights to watch a 20minute film due to falling asleep. It’s insulting to everyone involved! looking at this week, I wonder how much improved Immortal Life and Joy would have been if directed by women. Would they have escaped the more annoying “Woman’s Picture” traps? Any women read this blog that can comment? Am I over thinking? Over compensating?

Oh hey! Before I forget. I’ve joined the LETTERBOXD movie tracking community and have started logging my movies there. I’m going back in my list archives and have so far logged my very first movie record from the Scary Movie Challenge 2006. Eventually I will catch up to modern day and this blog, but anyone interested in all the movies I’ve seen can check it out. It\s also porn free since they don’t currently allow adult, so you have that going for you too if you hate seeing adult titles being reviewed as actual films instead of wack-off mechanisms.

https://letterboxd.com/ruz_el/

Feel free to follow, share, obsess and judge!

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Movie A Day!: Guilty Exposure!

Hey ho film fans! Did we all get in a bunch of movies this week? I had a real wham-bam of genres and even got in a new-ish one that some readers might of heard of! Boy oh boy, isn’t it great? Let’s get right to it.


103 04/17 Guilty Hands (1931) 3.5/5   Kicking off the 10th and final volume of the Forbidden Hollywood series with this pre-code gem starring Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life) as a district attorney who threatens to murder a colleague interested in marrying his daughter. Barrymore is great in the lead and the quick pace/short run time allows this one to be a lot of fun.


104 04/17 Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010) 4/5   The definitive documentary on the career of Lewis is pretty much all you can ask for. Great appearances by the likes of John Waters and Joe Bob Briggs, with HGL himself taking center stage to discuss his films and career. Tons of great clips and stories, it’s mandatory viewing for any film fan.

This one wraps up the massive Shock & Gore: The Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis set. I would give it a 5/5, a PERFECT FUCKING RATING! I know, many of the films are terrible but taken as a whole and presented this way? The set is a monster! HGL might have been a terrible director, but with writing, scoring, directing, producing, editing, special effect-ing and doing the ad campaigns for all these goofy movies, he is one of the true auteurs of film. I never would have dreamed a set like this would exist, and it’s only about half of his films. He has a whole other side or dreadful nudie cuties and children films. I hope we get a second set with those. A true original, The Blood Trilogy is an absolute must see and are flat out degenerate film classic. The man created the roughies and the gore films. We all owe him a huge debt.


105 04/19 The Mouthpiece (1932) 3.5/5   Pre-code sleaze Warren William plays a hot DA who prosecuted an innocent man to the electric chair, has a change of heart, grows his greasy moustache back and becomes a scumbag defence lawyer who’s only in it for the money. The courtroom scenes are bonkers and the rest is really good with Williams once again perfect as the morally defective lead. I’ve only recall ever seeing him play suave assholes, and here he is the perfect suave asshole. While not as scandalous as some pre-code films, this one was still a lot of fun.


106 04/19 Psycho Cop Returns (1993) 3/5   It’s the Vinegar Syndrome time of month! This one is a horror comedy about… A PSYCHO COP! It’s a sequel to a film I have never seen, but it doesn’t matter since it’s a stand alone film. Started off pretty painful with some hammy performances but once things get going it’s pretty near non-stop crazy gore effects and tits (cult legend Julie Strain!), so you can’t really complain. No risk of this one becoming anyone’s favourite film (guessing I’ll be proven wrong), but there are worse horror comedies to watch.


107 04/20 Secrets of the French Police (1932) 3/5   A burglar gets recruited by the police to help track his missing girlfriend who has been kidnapped by Russians in a ploy to get the riches of the missing Princess Anastasia. Throw in more than a touch of mad scientist and I don’t think you’ll get a more convoluted hour of film anywhere else. It’s not so much good as it’s so jam packed with different things going on that you can’t help but be enraptured by it.


108 04/21 Nighthawks (1981) 4/5   I hadn’t seen this one since the VHS days. I remembered it as one of my favourite Stallone films and it’s nice to see it holds up. Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are a pair of street cops that get recruited to a newly formed NYC terrorist squad to track terrorist Rutger Hauer. It’s a pretty typical action movie that pre-dates the jokey “Buddy Cop” formula that would take over the 80’s so it plays it pretty straight. It mostly just really works with Hauer putting in a great villain turn and the seedy NYC locations fitting the action. Worth checking out. (And for dirty film fans, porn legend Jamie Gillis has a bit part as a fashion designer!)

109 04/21 Hot Flashes (1984) 2/5   Pointless adult fair about a sexy news network doing sexy news stories. One of those quickies where you can periodically hear the director giving suggestions should tell you all you need to know. One of Vinegar Syndrome’s weaker efforts.


110 04/22 Double Exposure (1983) 2.5/5   More thriller than horror about a pin-up photographer who has nightmares of his models being killed, or are they memories? It mostly works, it’s interesting in that it’s a middle aged cast when most of these tend to skew younger. It has a TV vibe (despite being graphic) which hurts it more than helping it and it sadly just never seems to fully kick off properly.

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111 04/22 Sicario (2015) 4/5   Crime film dealing with American agents going after the Mexican drug cartels and is fantastic. A great backdrop of the blurry politics involved helps the dramatic aspects be as interesting as the intense action bits. Emily Blunt is perfect as the agent swept up into the investigation, and Benicio Del Toro once again steals the movie. Highly recommended.

See? Not a bad week with something for everyone! Or nothing for no one. Who knows who even reads this thing? I should check the metrics.

That’s it.

Movie A Day!: Hell’s Creed Hungry Reunion on Wheels!

We managed to not get ourselves into a nuclear war, so I guess it’s movie time.

A real mixed bag with this one. I’ve jumped back into the Herschell Gordon Lewis Shock & Gore set, continue with the Forbidden Hollywood Volume 9 set from Warner’s of Pre-code films, got in a never ending wrestling event and went Hollywood over the weekend with a side of Vinegar Syndrome’s PeekARama series. Something for everyone? Probably not.


084 04/03 Hell’s Highway (1932) 3.5/5   Pre-Code gem starring tough guy Richard Dix as a con on a chain gang. Made to show the brutal treatment of prisoners, chain gangs were still a thing in 1932, it’s hard to watch now and not think of the private prisons still using prisoners as slave labour. I’m a sucker for prison pictures and this one was a pretty good one.


085 04/03 She-Devils on Wheels (1968) 2.5/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis does his take on a biker gang picture with this one about an all girl biker gang that’s running wild. It’s a great premise but Lewis fails to pull it off. It’s too chaste when it should be wild and sleazy, and Lewis is too incompetent to film a biker picture since you can barely hear any dialogue when the bikes are running. More of a curio than a good picture in his catalogue.


086 04/04 The Cabin in the Cotton (1932) 3/5   A not bad pre-code film starring the completely forgotten Richard Barthelmess as a worker growing up on a cotton farm (post-slavery) and torn between loyalties with the “Planters” who own the land and the “Peckerwoods” who work it. Obviously I couldn’t help snickering every time someone was referred to as a “Peckerwood”, but aside from that the only real draw in this one is it’s an early Bette Davis picture. Bette steals every scene she’s in as the owners hot to trot, privileged daughter, because of course she does. Otherwise there’s not much to note. Director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, to name drop just one absolute classic from his filmography) does a decent job, African Americans are shockingly shown as sympathetic and not too stereotyped for the time, and lead Barthelmess has one dumb expression on his face the whole time and fails to rise to lead the picture, or stand a chance against Queen Bette. Interesting only for Bette, and seeing her take complete control over the picture.


087 04/05 When Ladies Meet (1933) 2.5/5   An overly talky play adaptation about a woman author who has fallen for her married publisher in a very modern way. Not much else happens. Second billed Robert Montgomery and third billed Myrna Loy steal the show as the author and the boy she’s refusing for the publisher. For what it’s worth, with the main problem being Alice Brady as Myrna’s best friend in the comedic role who is the kind of annoying, privileged eccentric you want to strangle. Another case of people being in better things, watch Loy in The Thin Man, and check out Montgomery’s progressive noirs Lady in the Lake (filmed in first person POV!) and Ride The Pink Horse, which he also directed.


088 04/06 Just For The Hell Of It (1968) 2/5   HGL really starts scraping the barrel with this one. Some youth gang is wandering around breaking stuff and basically just being a bunch of assholes for no reason. It’s an attempt at creating a new genre (so claims HGL), but is so completely pointless and inept that it does not work at all. Only good thing was the theme song (written by Lewis) and an extended band performance near the front that is pure filler, but pretty good filler.


089 04/07 Creed (2015) 4/5   I think the last thing any Rocky fan thought they’d see is another Rocky movie. Switching things up and focusing on Apollo Creed’s son is a stroke of genius, and the film really works well as both a character study and a boxing picture. There’s not much to say, it hit’s all the standard plot points of a Rocky picture, it’s just done really well with a touch of class. The boxing scenes are exceptional and allowed to stretch with more artistic touches that works surprisingly well considering how gritty and realistic the rest of the picture is. Worth checking out, especially if you’re a Rocky fan.

Sherlick Holmes / Reunion [DVD]
090 04/07 Sherlick Holmes (1975) 2/5   Harry Reems stars as the title character who creates a time machine that transports Watson and himself to 1970s Times Square where they have to fuck their way back to Victorian England. Nothing too redeeming about this one which is most likely a weekend wonder with the highlights being how poorly made it is. There’s something charming about releasing a film where you can hear the producers feeding the actors lines, but that charm only goes so far. It’s more interesting than good.


091 04/08 Wrestlemania 33 (2017) 2.5/5   I stopped watching WWE last year when it became apparent that Vince McMahon was going to buy his wife a position in the Trump administration. That and the product is so bloated that the amazing performers are largely wasted. This Wrestlemania confirmed my decision. I found pretty near the whole thing dull as dishwater (so dull I nearly forgot to include it on this list). The highlight was the return of the Hardys and the only reason I watched it was to see Undertaker in what may be his last match. I would’ve preferred a better opponent than Roman Reigns, but it was a serviceable last match. I won’t be following it after this. Lucha Underground is a ton more fun without the 7 hour a week time commitment.


092 04/08 The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 2 (2015) 3/5   I found this one to be the weakest of them all. Main problem is it felt padded to hit a two hour running time. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just plods along which weakens the later moments that are supposed to hit harder. On a whole, I’d give the series a 4 out of 5.

093 04/08 Reunion (1976) 2.5/5   This one see’s some high school classmates being invited to a island estate for a reunion that takes a darker turn. If this one committed more to the dark turn instead of the sex it would of really elevated this one to being something special. As it is, it’s pretty typical low budget porn for the era.

It feels like I’m never going to finish that Shock & Gore set. I’m averaging a disc a week. they’re so packed with special features, and I watch them late at night before bed, I’m going to be glad to finish it and move onto other things. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun as hell even if they aren’t very good. It might be too much of a good thing. Aside from that, a pretty big week! It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten in 10 films in one week.

Until next time.

Movie A Day!: Witchtrap Champions!

More movies! Past week was an absolute bitch at work with our customer base being even more clueless and challenging than normal. When you have conversations explaining to people that the “Forrest Green” they say they purchased last month was actually called “Meadow Green” and that is why I was quoting them the wrong product, it does your fucking brain in.

So no fake deep thoughts to intro this one. Here’s the shitty movies I watched last week.


077 03/26 Witchtrap (1989) 3/5   At first glance all this film seems to have going for it scream queen supreme Linnea Quigley, as depicted on the poster. It’s actually a not bad haunted house type deal about a group of investigators trying to ghost-bust a house so it can become a bed and breakfast. Quigley has a minor role as a para-investigator that looks after all the tech, which has to be one of the only “smart” roles in her career. She still has to show her tits in a shower scene though, such is the life of a scream queen. Anyway, it’s pretty good but has a major problem. They mucked up the sound when filming so all the dialogue and sound effects are looped in post, and not very well. I’ve seen Italian dubbed films with tighter synch than this, and it makes for distracted viewing since everything sounds separate from the action. Which is a shame since aside from that it’s quite accomplished.

078 03/28 The Book of Joe (1984) 3/5  Student short film by the director of Witchtrap, Kevin Tenney is a little gem of a film about a defence lawyer who has to represent a man claiming to be the returning Jesus Christ. It manages to not be corny or preachy despite having a pro-faith lean. Included on the Blu-ray due to having many of the same actors as Witchtrap, it’s a neat addition.


079 03/30 Big City Blues (1932) 2.5/5   Pre-Code film from Warners finds a hick arriving in New York to set the town on fire and ends up getting burned. Probably most notable today for Humphrey Bogart having a small unbilled part. That’s kind of the problem with this one, lead Eric Linden as the hick is so completely overshadowed by co-star Joan Blondell (who gets top billing, just look at the poster) and everyone else that it’s hard to root for him since he’s such a unlikable, naive milksop. It ends up being serviceable at best.


080 03/31 Black Mass (2015) 2.5/5   Johnny Depp stars in the true story of Whitey Bulger, psychopath crime boss of South Boston. Depp does a pretty good job in this one, compared to the cartoon-like roles he’s been playing recently. That said, it’s not a very good movie in that despite being a true story it hits all the crime beats these pictures usually do without offering anything new and holy shit do actors love to mangle those Boston accents. I left this one thinking a documentary would have been better.


081 03/31 Boiling Desires (1987) 2/5   You have to hand it to porn jobber Carlos Tobalina for hiring four stars and managing to make an entire film out of the one-note plot of a couple of girls in which one hasn’t had sex yet and they’re all excited to have her have sex. It’s not a good movie, but you have to hand it to him.


082 04/01 The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 (2014) 3.5/5   Finally getting around to these. Problem I had is I barely remember the first two films, so most of this one was me going “Oh, right!” as plots came forward in my hazy brain. This one mostly revolves around Katniss mooning about for Pita while becoming a reluctant leader of the revolution. It’s good, though kind of sad since I think this is the last film Philip Seymour Hoffman did before passing he’s just so goddamned good. I think that’s why these pictures work. The love triangle stuff is lost on me since I find both the guys (Pita and whoever the other one is, so forgettable I can’t recall his name) so useless, the rest of the cast is so strong that it allows you to kind of forget about it and makes the rest of the film work.

083 04/02 Love Champions (1985) 2/5   The second Tobalina feature on the disc with boiling Desires, it has an even thinner plot than the first one, more hacked together and ends in another poorly shot orgy. Pretty much worthless as everyone in this picture have been in better movies.

Speaking of adult. I learned this morning on the passing of Radley Metzger. If anyone is wondering why I’m bothering with “shitty old porn”, I would advise them to have a peek at Metzger’s filmography. In the early days when it looked like porno-chic might actually go mainstream, it was largely due to filmmakers like Metzger. Getting his start in euro-softcore, under the pseudonym of Henry Paris  Metzger was one of the filmmakers that seemed on the cusp of making hardcore legit. The Opening of Misty Beethoven is an absolute masterpiece, period, and is highly recommended. Metzger will never get the credit as a filmmaker that he deserves, and he will never be forgotten. I also highly recommend The Rialto Report site or anyone with even a passing interest in adult, or a damn fine story since porn history is full of bonkers stories and the podcasts are great.

And with that, I will leave you for another week.

Movie A Day! 096-100: Walking Hazard

Last Friday I had a rare night out, went to a show with the boss to see White Buffalo. He’s a folk singer. I don’t know if that’s his birth name, he was good. In an even rarer event, I ran into someone I know but haven’t seen in at least a couple of years. Someone who really helped me out over the really rough years while I was helping to care for Dad as he fought cancer, someone who probably knows more about me than anyone in my current, hermit life. Circumstances changed, and well, we were unable to see each other anymore. It was cool though. And catching up with her, albeit briefly was really nice. She married, has a kid, a nice career. I’ve lost all my friends the past couple years, my fault, and while she left my life for completely different reasons than the others, it was great to see her and felt good to know she was doing good. Typically bump ins like this throw me into a jealous loop and my ego rages for days. I guess I’m finally getting my shit together emotionally. I’ll probably never see her again, and that’s okay, it’s the deal. She was incredibly kind to me, and it’s nice that I wasn’t my usual dick-self bumping into her at the show.

Another late blog, I didn’t realize I had hit five titles due to some of them being TV shows wrapping up.


096 03-28 Comic Book Men Season 4 (2014, 16 Episodes) 2/5
Possibly the most scripted “Reality” show of them all, it’s gotten even worse. The storylines/celeb guests are all annoying, and the PAWN STAR bit is so insanely seeded it’s ridiculous. The real problem is the men of the title are a bunch of assholes, and in many ways personify everything wrong with comic book shops. But it’s a Kevin Smith show, so I doubt it will go away anytime soon. I’m basically watching it out of laziness, it’s become a habit after watching Walking/Talking Dead.


097 03-29 The Young Marrieds (1972) 3/5
The last film directed by Ed Wood Jr., and he goes out in a bit of a whimper. This porno is the last film he wrote and directed. As a porn, there’s not much here to recommend, but as an Ed Wood Jr. film, it’s got many of the touches that made him famous. Manly a wonky, self righteous narration that’s similar to GLEN & GLENDA, and a hilarious plot twist to challenge homophobes. Not entirely fun and doesn’t hold a candle to his 50’s period, but it’s good enough.


098 03-30 Dark Hazard (1934) 3/5
Edward G. Robinson plays a degenerate gambler trying to play it straight to please his fuddy dud wife who rescued him from the gutter. It’s pretty standard early thirties fair that rises above the typical preachy due to Robinson’s exuberance, and quite possibly the greatest twist ending* I’ve seen outside of a TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE.


099 03-30 The Walking Dead Season 5 (2014) 3/5
100 03-30 The Talking Dead Season 4 (2014) 2.5/5
Quite possibly the weakest season of the Walking Dead finds the majority of the characters behaving completely against they way they have in previous seasons. The best example being the story of leader Rick who has spent the past four seasons trying to keep his family together and safe becoming obsessed with wanting to fuck a married woman at a compound they find to the point of wanting to kill her husband. Yeah, that sounds about right for a guy who has valued family about everything else. All for visceral “shocks” intended to keep the audience guessing. It’s stuff like this that undermined the whole series, and while the season finale helped to right some of the wrongs, I get a feeling this one is going to suffer the fate of most US television by going on too long and getting increasingly shitty. Of course, they’re planning a second series which means there will be two shit series to follow.

That’s it! Below is a spoiler for DARK HAZARD, since none of you will watch it anyway, and it really is a great ending. So skip this next bit if you think you might actually see it (you know you wont).

*SPOILER ALERT!

So the great ending is this, Robinson has started looking after a dog racing track, and loses all his money gambling so his wife takes the last of it and moves back to Idaho. Robinson spends the next couple years trying to win back his fortune to pay back the wife and goes completely bust, having to hobo to Idaho on trains to get back to his wife. Unknown to him, the wife has had his child, and has been rekindling an affair with some local geek. Robinson tries to turn his life around a second time, and the wife goes along with it for the kids sake. So he’s working a legit job, and manages to get a way to by his favourite racing dog, Dark Hazard of the title. This sets his wife in another tizzy, and Robinson has a blow out with the geek, dropping him with one punch like the fucking hulk. The wife freaks, tells him it’s not going to work out. So what happens? Robinson fucks off with his dog, and in a montage starts hitting the tracks, winning huge pots, and rekindling a romance with a hot blond in which he ends up traveling the globe, blonde and dog in hand, betting at the best horse tracks in the world. Completely dumping the killjoy wife and kid! THE BEST “FUCK YOU” ENDING IN FILM! They don’t make ’em like they used to, kids.

Movie A Day! 086-090 : Don’t

A blurb on the news just now showed a 30 year old cat. 30 years old. It was a cat, not a puddle of cat fur, but a live cat. I thought my old cat Dickie did good getting to 18-19. 30? I can’t get my head around it. Wouldn’t that be like living to 200? Who wants to live that long? I’m going to have nightmares.


086 03-08 Broken Oath (1977) 3.5/5
It’s international women’s day, so what better film to watch than one starring Angela Mao kicking the shit out of a bunch of guys? This one starts off pretty grim, with a woman having her husband killed, then sent to prison for his murder after she takes the eye out of one of the murderers while he tries to rape her. She ends up giving birth to a baby daughter while in jail, and that daughter grows up to vengeance obsessed Mao who learns martial arts and befriends scorpions as pets to poison those who get in her way. It’s a gonzo kung-fu flick, but a good one. My only complaint is they seem to lessen Mao’s role as it gets later in the picture when they don’t need to, she’s awesome.


087 03-09 Strangers May Kiss (1931) 3/5
Another Pre-Code classic, this one stars Norma Shearer as a forward thinking woman of the jazz age looking for love. It’s a melodrama, and soapy as hell, but delicious all the same. Not much else to say since plot wise, it’s pretty typical; woman throws away everything for a swaggering playboy, suffers for it. Shearer does a great job in the lead, showing both strength and vulnerability as the woman who can’t seem to get a break. It’s worth checking out if you like these kind of things.


088 03-12 Hi, Nellie! (1934) 4/5
This one is the third film in the latest pre-code set from Warner Archive, but it’s not much of a pre-code film. That said, it’s a hell of a newsroom type detective story. Paul Muni plays the managing editor of a newspaper who get’s busted down to writing the Heartthrob column (writing under the pseudonym “Nellie”) after miss-calling a story in which it appeared that a bank founder ran off with $500,000. It’s part daffy comedy, part investigative detective story, and one hell of a whirlwind. Paul Muni was one of the greatest actors to grace the screen, and there is nothing old fashioned about his performance here. Muni is easily ground zero for the type of performance that would be carried on by Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert De Niro, and others. Really great stuff, this one gets a solid recommend.

Creature from the Black Lagoon
089 03-13 The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) 4/5
Monster movies were out by the fifties, replaced by Sci-fi terror for the atomic age. Giant bugs, alien invaders, and the king of them all Godzilla would debut the year that Creature came out. The Creature was the last of the Universal Monsters, the last iconic character to get it’s own series of films. Archaeologists find a weird fossil of a claw sticking out of a rock, and go in search of the skeleton. This leads them to the black lagoon off the amazon, and they discover that the creature behind that claw is actually kicking around. For a rubber suit, the Creature is amazing! Tons of under water action, and the actor/stuntman playing the creature do a great job giving him character. Lots of great set pieces, goofy scientific explanations, and a pair of leads trying to outdo each other, one pulling an odd Chuck Heston vibe, the other a ruthless not quite Kirk Douglas. Well worth watching, just like all the other monster movies from Universal.

 
090 03-14 Don’t Go In The Woods… Alone (1981) 3/5
This one won’t be for everyone, or possibly anyone reading this blog. A super cheap slasher about a group of kids getting killed by a maniac in the woods. That’s the whole plot too, 4 youg people, wandering around in the woods, getting attacked. Other people, also wandering around in the woods, get attacked as well. There’s no character development, mystery, nothing, just people getting killed. The kill scenes are more ambitious than they could handle, so they throw fake blood all over the place to compensate. Hence this one became an official “Video Nasty” back in the 80’s, despite being pretty terrible. That said, if you’re a fan of the genre, this one is so completely shit that it manages to be oddly dreamlike and “good” to watch. It’s not good, it’s not so bad it’s good, it’s mostly just bad. Bad on all levels, from acting, to the effects, to pacing, to flare from the film being loaded into the camera wrong. So I don’t know why I “liked” it. The Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray is as good as this film is likely to ever look.

Some good movies in this batch. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Creature at this point. It always entertains. Beautifully filmed. I finished Patton Oswalt’s new book, SILVER SCREEN FIEND a couple days ago. It’s a memoir detailing a 4-5 year period where he was hooked, bad, going to the movies. Racking up my kind of numbers. It’s a cautionary tale. I wanted to check off the films he lists in the back. I’m in deep, the movies will be the death of me.

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.