Movie A Day!: Blood Face

After a week of sunny skies and spring temperatures, today finds the sky back to the gloomy grey that is Edmonton in the winter. Perfect weather for hermit-ting up with movies and other things to distract from the political climate.

This post is a real mess theme wise. Friends who followed my Snapchat during the horror movie challenge will know that one of the greatest boxsets of all time arrived on my door step near the end, SHOCK AND GORE: THE FILMS OF HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS. After staring at it for months and frankly being intimidated by it, I finally broke down and cracked that sucker open. My plan was to watch one disc a week. Then the February pack from Vinegar Syndrome showed up three weeks early. And I’m still watching the Oscar best picture nominations. So your stuck with classy films, gore films from one of the worst directors of all times, and porno from one of the hardcore masters who literally helped create the porn industry.

This blog may be a psychiatric profile of a cry for help.


042 02/12 59th Annual Grammy Awards (2017) 3/5   I don’t know why I watch these but I always find a reason to. Ends up this year was pretty good. Katy Perry debuted a new song that’s actually kind of a clever protest, Lady Gaga performed metal with Metallica (my excuse to watch this years awards, her halftime show at the Superbowl was amazing) and aside from a dead mic on Hetfield, she rocked. Lady Gaga may be the the legendary performer of this generation. She can sing anything and do so convincingly. The real highlight though was oldie rappers A Tribe Called Quest who performed as an assault unit, attacking Trump (President Agent Orange, as dubbed by guest Busta Rhymes) and it was exhilarating. Oh, and Beyonce did a really artistic performance piece on black womanhood. I think. So yeah, despite all this fun, it still managed to feel like it would never end.


043 02/12 Blood Feast (1963) 4/5   Exploitation legends Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman invented the splatter genre with this one. The effects are primitive at best, the acting not so great and while people always say Ed Wood Jr. was the worst director of all time, I think Lewis fits the crown better since there is a unenthusiastic workman like feel to Lewis compared to the glee in a Wood Jr. picture. That said, it’s an irresistible picture. I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve watched it, but I love it more each time. People joke about the effects, but they really aren’t that bad compared to the regular make-up. The grey hair on younger actors looks like they rubbed a bar of soap on their heads. That’s far more unforgivable than creating a more than decent tongue being yanked out of a girls head effect. I like to think so anyway. This one is a must see (along with the other films in the “Blood Trilogy”, I’ll get to those later) for anyone with an interest in horror history.

scum_of_earth_poster_01
044 02/13 Scum of the Earth (1963) 3.5/5   1963 was a pretty big year for Herschell Gordon Lewis. Not only did he invent the gore film, he was one of the first to put out a film that would be known as “Roughies”. Roughies were the horrible children of the “Nudie Cuties”, instead of wholesome nudist camps full of nubile innocents, roughies were more urban and had pervos creeping on and corrupting women. This one was about a porno photography outfit that hoodwinks High School girls into being models before getting them to shoot nude and then blackmailing them to do hardcore. It’s very innocent despite that description since actual porno wouldn’t be shot for nearly a decade and the brief nudity in the picture is actually sort of tasteful with the real rough stuff happening off camera. Shot in black and white it actually looks classier than it is, and ends up being one of Lewis’s more accomplished pictures. Sexploitation would keep on pushing after this one, Lewis would mostly drift into gore (which based on his final film, the hardcore Black Love, is a very good thing…). Well worth checking out as it doesn’t have some of the pacing issues Lewis’s films tend to have.


045 02/14 Lion (2016) 3.5   A young Indian boy gets lost and ends up adopted by Nicole Kidman’s terrible haircut that is a perfect representation of Australia in this Oscar pick. I quite enjoyed this one in that it sticks with telling the kids true story without getting too over the top with the melodramatics (I think) and without the “Forrest Gump-Ness” of Slumdog Millionaire. Don’t think it was best of the year stuff though.


046 02/14 Carving Magic (1959) 4/5   This one is an industrial short about a guy hosting a dinner party and wows his dickhead friend with his turkey carving prowess. Why would I watch a carving instructional film? It’s on the Blood Feast blu-ray as an extra! It features Blood Feast star William Kerwin as the guy who learns how to carve, but more interesting is that Harvey Korman plays the dickhead friend, this being his first film role. I love Harvey Korman! Go watch Blazing Saddles again and see what I mean! This one was also legit educational, I think I might be able to carve a turkey properly now!


047 02/15 Moonlight (2016) 4/5   This one is about a kid growing up and navigating himself through Black Miami culture. I really liked this one in that it’s the kind of film that is usually made about white people in that it didn’t have any black genre trappings despite dealing with lower income/gang/drug culture. Dead solid performances that ring true in that they are frustrating to watch. There’s no hand holding the audience. I wouldn’t mind if this one won.


048 02/15 Slaughterhouse (1987) 3/5   1987 seems a bit late to try to pull a rip on Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but when it’s as fun as this one, why not give it a go? A bunch of cool kids decide to hold a party in a foreclosed slaughterhouse. Unbeknownst to them, the owner and his deranged son (who talks in pig-squeals) have decided to kill the people who fucked him over business wise. It’s all an excuse for some typical 80’s slasher mayhem and it delivers which is all you can ask.


049 02/17 Arrival (2016) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. I had heard it compared to Contact (another one I really enjoyed) but Arrival really is it’s own thing. Aliens have come down and language specialist Amy Adams has to figure out how to communicate with them. It leads to a thoughtful Sci-Fi that is actually pretty rare in these days of action blockbusters. Good stuff, I wouldn’t mind if it won Best Picture.

050 02/17 Parochial Passion Princess (1975) 2.5/5  Depraved hardcore short from Alex deRenzy about a teen prostitute. No one does sleaze like deRenzy, you have to give him credit.


051 02/18 La La Land (2016) 4/5   Hollywood finally does a traditional musical. That’s how this one is billed. The opening number had me cringing since it was so modern Broadway in style, thankfully the film settles down and ends up being really good, and yes, pretty traditional. I don’t think it works quite as well as it wants to- it never reaches the insane dancing fever pitch of the classics- but it’s welcome all the same.


052 02/18 Babyface (1977) 4/5   Feature length film by Alex deRenzy about a guy who gets shanghaied into working in a brothel owned by women for women clients. One of the sleaziest films I’ve seen, it practically is checking off a list of triggers for things deemed politically incorrect and will make you feel squeamish watching it. It’s also done with so much showmanship and glee that it’s hard to be mad about it. deRenzy was a master at this stuff and this one was one is no exception.

So which one should win best picture? I honestly don’t know. None of them wowed me. None of them are bad films, more a case of none of them feeling particularity exceptional or memorable. The only one that really feels like a broken thumb is Hacksaw Ridge, and that’s due to the first half being so schmaltzy. The second half in the war is brilliantly over the top. If I had to pick one I’d go with Moonlight since it’s the only one that didn’t have something in it that made question the filmmakers choice, with Arrival, La La Land and Manchester By The Sea following. Yet despite that, I think I enjoyed Hidden Figures best but found the film technically problematic. It looks like this years Oscars will be mostly blah for me since I don’t have a horse in the race that I really  want to see win. It’s not the first time, and wont be the last.

Which is okay, I got more terrible movies and Gilmore Girls to keep me company.

Until next time.

Movie A Day! 141-151: Sprout Wings Super Soul Brother!

So much for getting the blog under control. This one looks longer than it is, but it’s still pretty long. I watched some double feature stuff that hit around the five film marks and didn’t want to split them into two blogs. So you get a little extra and I’ll try to get this thing back to the fives next time.


141 04-27 Supersoul Brother (1978) 2.5/5
“Wild Man” Steve takes a page from Rudy Ray Moore’s DOLEMITE playbook and tries to make a his own blaxploitaton action comedy. He fails in almost every regard. Steve plays a wino who gets picked up by a couple of thieves to be injected with a super serum so he can be used to rob a jewel safe. It’s dirt cheap, the acting is atrocious, but it does have it’s charms as both a spoof on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (the original title, and the one on the print on Vinegar Syndrome’s DVD is THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER) and for the gusto of Wildman himself who tries his darn-dist to spin straw into gold and fails pretty much completely. A hell of a time capsule, and as the first in Vinegar Syndromes collaboration with the American Genre Film Archive, it’s going to be fun to see what they bring out next.


142 4-28 A Life In Dirty Movies (2013) 3.5/5
A pretty good documentary on Joe Sarno, one of the first and best of the sexploitation filmmakers at the dawn of the genre. This one mostly deals with Sarno at the end of his life trying to get one last film financed. I would of preferred more of an overview since I can only imagine some of the stories he has, but what we do have in here is still interesting. Having people like John Waters, Jamie Gillis and Annie Sprinkle on hand to discuss Sarno and his work also helps to keep the film moving. Now we need someone to tackle restoring Sarno’s surviving films.


143 4-30 Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980) 3/5
Les Blank skips the profiles of people and goes straight to food and music with this one. It’s a history of garlic, showing many of the ways it is prepared as well as the folklore. Some of the fanatics come off a bit hippie dippy and crackers, but it is a fun watch. Since it’s literally about the food, this one is missing the heart found in his other pictures.


144 05-01 When Taekwondo Strikes (1973) 3/5
A pretty good chop socky feature starring Angela Mao about Koreans revolting against Japanese rule. Lots of different styles of martial arts are in view, and it also features Jhoon Rhee, known as the father of American Taekwondo. So there’s lots of fun to be had in this one.


145 05-02 Little Miss Innocence (1973) 2.5/5
146 05-02 Teenage Seductress (1975) 2.5/5
This is a pair of softcore features from Chris Warfield that Vinegar Syndrome put out in their DRIVE-IN COLLECTION. The first features a pair of hippie girls who shack up and torture an older music executive when he picks them up hitchhiking in LA. It’s the most porn-y of the two since they emotionally abuse him with constant sex, and it’s as sleazy as it sounds. TEENAGE though downplays the sex to be more messed up dramatically as it features a woman who is out to find her father that skipped out when she was born, in order to sleep with him and try to ruin his life that way. Did I mention it was messed up? Anyway, the pair are actually pretty decent watches since they play more serious than the usual goofy that is sexploitation, and are looking great in these DVD restorations.


147 05-02 Escape From New York (1981) 3.5/5
John Carpenter’s cult classic features a breakout role for Kurt Russell who stars as Snake Plissken who in the future dystopia of 1997 has to retrieve the President of the United States who has crashed into the prison island of Manhattan. It makes zero sense, but Carpenter and Russell totally pull it off. I don’t love this one as much as others, but I have no knocks against it, it delivers and the cast featuring genre legends like Lee Van Cleef and Isaac Hayes doesn’t hurt either.


148 05-02 Champagne For Breakfast (1980) 3.5/5
Chris Warfield again, this time with a later porno chic effort that manages to work. The script, about a guy who plays gay in order to get a job as a chauffeur/bodyguard to a young woman who has recently become vice president of an ad agency, genuinely works on it’s own both dramatically and as a comedy. The actors, featuring stars like Leslie Bovee, John Leslie and Kay Parker all have the chops to pull it off, they could of cut the sex out and still had a decent late seventies comedy. A short comedy though since ther is a ton of sex in this one, which makes the story working aspect of it all the more unusual. Typical of everything they put out, the Vinegar Syndromes presentation is top notch.


149 05-03 Sprout Wings And Fly (1983) 4/5
150 05-03 Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge (1991) 4/5
151 05-03 My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge (1995) 4/5
Another trio of documentaries from Les Blank. SPROUT features fiddle player Tommy Jarrell, in his eighties when it was shot, telling stories of life in the Blue Ridge mountains (nearly all of them about whisky and death), and playing a ton of amazing fiddle songs. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and Jarrell is one hell of a storyteller. This Les Blank blu-ray set just never fails to please. JULIE was shot at the same time, and is a short film featuring Tommy’s older sister telling stories and singing a couple of songs, while MY OLD FIDDLE is more of Tommy playing and talking. As a whole, they are not only a entertaining films, but a record of a lost time.

See? It wasn’t so long and at least the movies were varied eh?

Movie A Day! 061-070: Not As Long As You Think

Don’t worry, this post isn’t as huge as it looks. I haven’t gone back to the ten movie posts. I’ve had the week off work and have been watching tons of stuff while re-organizing my movie collection. So this one is larger than usual since I’ve combined some reviews.


061 02-19 The Naked Cage (1986) 2.5/5
062 02-19 Savage Island (1985) 1.5/5
These two are a couple of women in prison films that wrap up the CULT MOVIE MARATHON VOLUME 2 set that also had the previously reviewed ANGELS FROM HELL and the deliriously wonky CHATTER BOX. Anyway, Cage is about as 80’s as a film can get without shooting cocaine out of the screen. It’s a typical WIP film with an innocent girl getting wrongfully stuck in the clink and having to deal with lesbians and whatever. It’s funny enough, and since it’s from Cannon Films, it’s perfectly 80’s cheese that manages to barely hold your interest as it clicks through the tropes.
Savage Island stars Linda Blair (THE EXORCIST) as a woman who escaped from a deadly south american prison where women are slaved out and forced to work in an emerald mine. At least that what the opening and closing 5-10 minutes are about. The middle of the picture is an ineptly cut together hodge podge of two Italian WIP pictures dubbed over with the emerald plot. It doesn’t make any sense at all, and no amount of Linda Blair narration can help it.
So the set of four films kind of wimpers out, but considering this 4-pack can be found for $10, it’s not that bad of deal for the first disc.


063 02-19 They Made Me A Criminal (1939) 3.5/5
John Garfield stars as a boxer set up for murder who lams it’s to California and ends up working on a date farm with the Bowery Boys. It’s much better than that description would lead you to think, with a solid performance by Garfield, and mixing of film noir and juvenile delinquent films. Also, it was directed by Busby Berkeley who is better known for his amazing and crazy musicals. So it’s kind of neat to see a crime picture from him.


064 02-19 Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal (2003) 3.5/5
As promised last blog, I watched this special examining how Michael Larson figured out and ran up a record win on the game show. It’s a bit cheesey in presentation but the footage of the shows is absolutely riveting and fascinating. The Dollop podcast is funnier though.


065 02-20 For Single Swingers Only (1968) 2/5
066 02-20 Her Odd Tastes (1969) 3/5
067 02-20 Marsha the Erotic Housewife (1970) 2/5
It’s a Don Davis triple feature in this Vinegar Syndrome release. It’s a trio of sexploitation films, none of them all that great frankly. HER ODD TASTES stands out since it gets a bit wackier with a satanic bit and other weirdness. The other two are pretty typical sex films for the era.


068 02-20 The Counselor (2013) 2/5
I had no idea that Ridley Scott did a film between PROMETHEUS (which was really good) and EXODUS (I haven’t seen it yet, but it seems to have a lot of hate going at it, for the wrong reasons), but he did and this was it. Star power galore, with Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, hell John Leguizamo even shows up in a cameo. The basic plot is about the title Counselor getting mixed up in a big drug deal, but man, does this movie have fat to chew. It’s written by Cormac McCarthy (THE ROAD), and it feels like the screenplay is full of the stuff that might be interesting in a novel but plays ridiculous on film. Forty five minutes go by before you have any idea what the crime is going to be, and then it plods on for another hour and a half, with more extraneous scenes like a literal car fucking that just shouldn’t be in the movie. Maybe it’s due to watching the extended versions, but typically the extended versions are Scott’s “Directors Cut”, which is why I always pick them That said, I wont be revisiting this one anytime soon to watch the theatrical.


069 02-21 Fantastic Orgy (1977) 2.5/5
070 02-22 Champagne Orgy (1978) 2/5
Another Carlos Tobalina Peekarama double feature from from Vinegar Syndrome finds the director throwing all plot to the wind and just flat out orgy’s. The first film seems to be made up from outtakes from other films, including footage that is flat out miss-shot with camera flare and whatnot. none of it makes any kind of logical sense, with scenes being cut all willy. The second feature has Tobalina himself in it, inviting the crew to a lavish champagne wrap party after shooting some dumb movie. This is all an excuse for more daft group sex scenes. FANTASTIC gets a bit of a bump due to the absolutely golden narration that attempts to make sense out of the nonsense.

See? That one wasn’t too bad. Other then the stupid Counselor movie that’s sticking in my craw.

Movie A Day! 258-265 – The Scary Movie Challenge Begins!

It’s Monday, and boy is it a “Monday” around the old P-Bunker. Work continues to prove that a lot of the humans we have to deal with are just the worst.

Here it is, the first batch of watched films for this years scary movie challenge! The rules are broad, I’m not getting into them here, just know these all count and oddly, don’t look much different than my usual lists. I guess I like sleazy, violent movies! I began with a slasher, because you should always begin horror marathons with a slasher.

258 10-01 Graduation Day (1981) 3/5

Started my scary movie challenge with a first time viewing of this one. You can tell by the title that this is another slasher knockoff of HALLOWEEN, and it’s certainly the ugly stepchild to HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13th. Maybe it was because I hadn’t seen it, but I really enjoyed it. Sure, it’s basically a killer attacking high school kids, but it actually has a bit of a plot to try to give it some mystery as to who the killer is. The gore effects are cheap and pretty crap compared to what Tom Savini was doing in FRIDAY THE 13th, but the overall look and editing of this one is really good and helps elevate it. I watched this via the new blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome, and it’s looking and sounding great. If you’re a fan of the film, this bluray is for you. A word of warning though, once you Gangster Rock, you will never not Gangster Rock.

259 10-02 Guru, the Mad Monk (1970) 2/5
I’m probably being generous with the 2 out of 5 since this is not a good movie. Written and Directed by cult legend Andy Milligan, it stars Neil Flanagan in the lead role of the crazy monk who has a vampire mistress for an old lady and deformed hunchback serving him, trying to keep control of his church posting in 15th century Europe. The best thing I can say is Flanagan is pretty good and keep the film together. I had previously seen him as the mincing transvestite hooker in Milligan’s “Fleshpot on 42nd Street”, and he’s still a bit camp in this. Otherwise, the film is that type of delightfully terrible that is just plain fun to watch. You get 1970’s New York, complete with cardboard garbage and mini scooter in the exteriors subbing in for a European Island, mannequin hands and ping pong balls being severed with a blood that makes a Herschel Gordon Lewis film from the same period look like a Tom Savini film and a plot so bonkers it’s not worth repeating. At 56 minutes or so, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. So if you’re into this kind of psychotronic trash, you can download it for free (among other goodies) from Vinegar Syndrome!

260 10-02 The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio (1971) 2.5/5
What do you get when you combine the Hyde mythos with seventies astrology, sexploitation and gore? This! It’s an odd mish mash of sexploitation horror that is more ridiculous than it should be. A killer is killing girls in a nursing school, that seems to be turn of the century but it’s hard to tell since it’s another cheap-o horror so they don’t really have the budget to pull it off. It’s light years ahead of that GURU: THE MAD MONK though as far as production design goes. Anyway, it’s pretty much by the numbers, the main draw being the HGL type gore and ample nudity, some of it supplied by cult legend Rene Bond. I’m knocking it a bit for having a bit too much of a preoccupation with dissected frogs (complete with fake blood). Don’t worry though, it’s not CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST type animal cruelty, I just like frogs and critters. 😛 I watched via the limited edition Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray and while the print is in rough shape, I can’t imagine it ever looking better since I don’t think it ever found it’s way on home video before this. It is available in a DVD version, and is backed with another film from the company, A CLOCKWORK BLUE which has nothing to do with Kubrick’s film, and everything to do with being a crappy Russ Meyer’s type comedy knock off without the comedy.

Screamy!

261 10-02 Dracula (1931) 5/5
Not much to say other than I love this movie. Sure, its got some pacing problems. Bela Lugosi makes up for it. You can’t even read his name without your brain doing that Lugosi accent. That’s how amazing he was in this, and the picture holds up even though David Manners is a terrible Harker. Worse than Keanu Reeves. I said it and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, if you haven’t watched this than get on it already!

262 10-03 The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959) 3/5
Ages ago I picked up one of those cheap discs that Shout Factory put out via “Timeless Media” that has four movies on one disc. I fired that sucker up, and this was the first movie. Now, when you pay $10 for four movies, you have low expectations. So when I say this one is pretty great, you might not believe me, but you would be wrong. It was fucking great! Basic plot is a couple of older brothers are trying to figure out why their family is cursed. When the men hit 60 years old, they die of heart attacks and their heads go missing. What the hell right? The curse is corny as hell with shrunken heads, but man, they really go for it and works. Surprisingly graphic for the day, some neat ideas, and a set of fingerprints with skulls in the patterns mean this is a hell of a movie. I still have 3 movies on this disc and it’s already $10 well spent!

263 10-03 Frankenstein (1931) 5/5
Not much to say about this one other than it’s one of my all time favourite movies, Karloff is perfect as the monster, the rest of the cast are perfect in their roles and while it manages to be pretty brutal and intense, it’s also sad. I love this movie and the blu-ray is beautiful.

264 10-03 Necromania: A Tale of Weird Love (1971) 2/5
This is a lost Ed Wood Jr. porn film, and I’m learning quickly that the thought of watching a “lost” Ed Wood Jr. skin flick is more fun that actually watching one. I’m a big fan of Wood’s classics since while they are “bad”, they are delightfully goofy bad that are fun to watch since you can tell he’s trying really hard but just doesn’t have the talent. This one though you can tell he’s not trying. Basic plot is a couple seek guidance for their love making problems by signing up to see a Necromancer. There are some Wood tropes, mainly in the goofy witch plot and setting, but it’s mostly a run of the mill, patience testing skin flick. I watched the “cool” version recently put out by Alpha Blue Archives, and while it looked pretty good, it’s hard to recommend. The disc included the XXX inserts as a “bonus” (along with 3 other shorts that all look terrible), I don’t see the film improving by being the “hot” version. It’s a shame, plot wise it sounds like it could have been good, and I think this is the last film he directed. It’s based on a book he wrote, I can’t imaging that book. I might have to track it down since there is barely any plot in this movie.

265 10-04 Runaway Nightmare (1982) 2.5/5
I wanted to like this one more since I bought it blind via the limited edition blu-ray that Vinegar Syndrome had on offer, but I just didn’t. The plot sounds amazing; two worm farmers in Death Valley see some men bury a box in the desert. They dig it up to find a woman inside, and are quickly kidnapped by a female cult who force the two into helping them steal back some platinum that the mob took from them. Pretty great right? The positive for this one is the look. Considering how cheap it was, it looks great and I’m not just talking about the transfer. Shots are set up in such a way, and with the pacing, it really does have a dreamlike quality. Add in the strangeness, shots of a vampire woman, other oddness, and it should of been great. The problem sadly is everything else. It’s acted in a deadpan style, and the two worm farmers are basically presenting the film like an Abbott & Costello meet The Monsters update, and it completely falls flat. The deadpan just feels inept and awkward, which added to the slow pace, just makes the film crawl for eternity with little to no payoff. There’s not even any boobs since this is the directors cut, they included boob inserts from the VHS release that were added in later as a bonus.

I’m going to be going through a bunch of Universal Horror films. If you’ve never seen FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, THE WOLFMAN, etc, you really owe it to yourself to get watching them.

That’s it for now, there may be a blog tomorrow before the Doctor Who one on Wednesday, you lucky ducks!

The End

 

Movie A Day! : 194-203 “Catching Up”

Right, time to get caught up with the movies! Despite the mood of the past couple weeks, I’ve kept up the movie watching. I’ll keep this introduction short since we have 10 titles to get through. Let’s do it!

194 08-07 Zatoichi’s Vengeance (1966) 3.5/5
Another Zatoichi film, another amazing time. This one finds Zatoichi once again trying to fulfill a dying mans wish and getting mixed up with Yakuza intrigue. This one was a little different in that on his travels he meets a blind monk that acts as his conscience and makes Zatoichi question his use of the sword. It helps add yet another nuance to the character, and draws out even more tension. It’s hard to believe, but Katsu continues to get even better as the lead character, becoming both badass and terrifying in the final moments of this one. So another recommend.

195 08-09 Rushmore (1998) 4.5/5
Revisited this one. I think this is my third viewing, and I continue to like it more each time. You would think that Wes Anderson’s style would make for a cold film, but the humanity and emotion on display in this is pretty much perfect, with performances to match. Has Bill Murray ever been better?

196 08-09 Hot Lunch (1978) 2/5
This is the second half of the double feature PEEKARAMA disc that featured BABY ROSEMARY. It’s by the same director, and is an attempt to be a goofy comedy that doesn’t really work as a comedy or a porno. Jon Martin does what he can as the lead, in a part that’s kind of like a reverse on the Candide model that is so common in this era of Porno Chic. He plays a bit of a doof who gets mixed up in all sorts of carnal situations. It just never works well enough to elevate it over the usual sex films.

197 08-10 Silicone Valley Season 1 (2014) 4/5
A new TV series by Mike Judge is always something I’ll check out. It’s only one season in, but I would say this might be his strongest work. He’s perfectly nailing start-up culture while also having strong characters that you end up caring about. It helps that a couple of my favourite stand-up comedians are doing some strong acting as well. The eight episode season ended perfectly with an epic dick joke. Can’t wait for season 2.

198 08-10 Patterns (1955) 3.5/5
Written by Rod Serling, and performed live on TV via the “Kraft Theater” program, this is a tough look at the corporate world. Basic plot is that of a young executive brought in solely to replace an aging vice president. Pitch perfect performances, including a masterful one by Orson Welles player Everett Sloan and a no holds barred look at American greed make this one a hell of a treat.

199 08-11 The Association (1975) 4/5
This is easily the sleaziest Kung-Fu film from the seventies I’ve seen. Basic plot is, a female detective is executed after killing a doctor who rape/murdered a patients wife when the patient could no longer pay for treatment. The executed detective’s squad go on the hunt to uncover the plot behind the murder, and holy hell is it sleazy! A female cult is giving illegal abortions (with a whole topless dancing ritual) that is accidentally murdering girls in a secret prostitution ring that is backed by high members of the government. With near constant nudity and a lead that looks like Bruce Lee with a perm kicking the shit out of everyone, this one was constantly entertaining and I’m guessing the best film in the 4-pack I bought for $10.

200 08-15 The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) 4/5
After Rushmore I decided to re-watch all the Anderson films I have since I’ve been slowly upgrading them to Blu-Ray via the Criterion Collection. This is the first of his to completely lock in the near dollhouse like style that he is known for. It’s starts off a little cold, but once you get use to the cast of characters, you get in deep.

201 08-15 The Erotic Adventures of Candy (1978) 2.5/5
As you can guess, this is yet another take on the Candide films! Hooray! This one follows college girl Candy on her quest to learn about sex and features her getting taken advantage of by every guy in sight. It’s not as good as the PRETTY PEACHES films I reviewed previously, mainly due to tone. It’s pretty straightforward stuff with the main draw being the cast of superstars like John Holmes. It’s not enough to keep the film interesting though.

202 08-16 Elvis : Aloha From Hawaii (1973) 4/5
Seeing as it was the anniversary of Elvis’s death this weekend, we gave this one a view. I’ve seen it dozens of times. It’s not Elvis’s greatest performance, but his last great one. He whipped himself into shape for this, which was broadcast via satellite all over the world, a truly epic event. He looks and sounds great. Seeing how the mention of his name these days is basically a punchline, it’s easy to forget how devastatingly good he was at interpreting a song. It’s all on display here, and well worth a look.

203 08-16 The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) 3/5
This one is a remake of a film noir from the forties that I watched last year (and gave 4 out of 5). Featuring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in the lead roles of lovers with murderous intentions, it captures the grime and tone of the era it depicts, it just never fully works. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just never held my interest like the original did. It also seems to go on too long. It’s from 1981, but it feels like a seventies auteur film (which makes sense seeing as it was directed by Bob Rafelson, who directed Nicholson in FIVE EASY PIECES, a superior film) and it’s energy peters out will before it ends. So watch the original (with the stunning Lana Turner).

Not a bad week of movie watching, with some pretty great titles and a couple of fun revisits! I hit the two hundred film mark by accidentally re-watching THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS which might mark the first time I’ve hit a milestone type number with a good movie. Keep your eye’s peeled for a second post later this week to catch us right up!

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Movie A Day! : 154-160 “Take A Look!”

Right, finally a movie post! I got in a few this weekend, and they were all pretty good ones too! I also started my workout stuff, and boy is it slow going. I did my first full workout after a week of warming up to it, and it was pathetic. I felt thinner though the next morning, so my dumb brain is at least in the right place. Let’s look at some movies!

154 07-01 Zatoichi’s Revenge (1965) 4/5

I’m jumping back into this series. This one is the tenth film, and it ended up being one of the best so far. Basic plot is Zatoichi arrives at the town where he trained with a Master Masseuse, only to discover that his master has been murdered by a crime boss who has teamed up with a corrupt magistrate. Their diabolical plan is to get the villagers into massive debts via gambling and loans so that the villagers have to commit their daughters to a brothel the gangster owns to pay the debts off. It makes for a darker tone than some of the other films, and the slow burn of Zatoichi dispensing justice adds to the suspense. I love these films!

155 07-05 We Walk The Line : A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash (2012) 2.5/5
Not the worst all-star tribute show, but not the greatest either. The highlights are Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, but they don’t get much air time. The version I watched was during one of those stupid PBS pledge drives which is the worst possible way to watch anything, but there was nothing presented that made me think I would want to get the complete show on DVD.

156 07-06 The Ernie Kovacs Collection (2011) 4.5/5
This is a 6 DVD set featuring selections from Kovacs TV career, from the earliest surviving show in 1951 until his last shot show in 1961 when his career was cut short do to a car crash taking his life. Don’t know who Kovacs is? Don’t worry, you’ve seen his influence via Monty Python, Dave Letterman, SNL, pretty much every cutting edge comedy show you can think of. Before TV had a proper form, Kovacs was playing with it, and this collection is simply amazing to watch. Not everything is laugh out loud funny, in fact, most of it is so surreal and strange that it’s surprising it made it to TV at all. Many of his highlights are here, the “Eugene” silent special, his smoking a cigar underwater, the infamous 30 second skit that cost $12,000, the Music Special, examples of his game show “Take A Look”, despite all the material you just want more. Current TV seems dead in comparison to the life and energy Kovacs brought. My only complaint is that many of the shows presented are edited due to rights issues with music. That any of this exists at all, the TV companies were in the process of erasing and dumping Kovacs output in the 60’s when his widow stepped in to buy the material back, makes the music issue a small one. Genius is used far too often these days, here’s a case where it absolutely fits.

157 07-08 The 90’s : The Last Great Decade? (2014) 2.5/5
This was a 3 part, 6 hour look back at the 90’s, which I think is technically my decade since I graduated high school in 91 or whenever I graduated high school. How do people remember dates like this? I never can. I just know it was around this time. Maybe 92. I thought it would be a fun watch, but it just wasn’t. I remembered everything they showed, but there was really no context. It was “Waco happened, then Bill Clinton fucked someone, then Nirvana, then some other thing, then Clinton fucked someone else”, all presented in news clips with no actual context. I would of liked it more if it dealt with movies or music. Especially music since I was totally Gen-X and into the grunge/punk scene. So the end of the whole thing was basically a big “Who cares?” which is kind of a perfect gen-x reaction to looking back at the gen-x decade when you think about it. I probably would of preferred a look at the 80’s, the previous decade I lived through, but as a child that couldn’t fully experience it. To answer the question of the title; it probably was the last “great” decade in that fun and horrible things happened without the threat of losing personal freedoms that seems imminent at this point of the 2010’s.

158 07-12 American Hustle (2013) 3/5
Finally got around to watching this one. Maybe it was high expectations (I really liked SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and loved THE FIGHTER), but it ultimately left me flat. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s a great story with fantastic performances and production. It just never clicked with me. I love a good crime film, and the con in this one was novel and interesting. I think the problem I had was that in order to get that seventies look, it feels a little dressed up and camp. Only Christian Bale appeared authentic, the rest were just too polished and jived wrong. It was distracting enough to pull me out of the picture, as opposed to BOOGIE NIGHTS which hit the look perfectly. Still, not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, and one I’m sure I’ll revisit again.

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159 07-13 Sugar Cookies (1973) 3.5/5

Another stellar Blu-ray presentation by Vinegar Syndrome, this one see’s them teaming up with the mighty Troma studios to bring out an early sexploitation shocker. Before hitting legend status in the eighties with THE TOXIC AVENGER, Lloyd Kaufman struck out with this Hitchcock inspired thriller that he refers to as “The only X-rated movie to not make any money.” Basic plot is an actress is killed in a bizarre sex game, so a woman grooms a naive newcomer into being her replacement. The femme fatale in this one is Mary Woronov. Woronov is a cult legend, mainly from Roger Corman films like DEATH RACE 2000 and ROCK ‘n’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. She always seems to play a prison-marm type role, so it’s nice to see her in this before she got typecast. In this one, she’s drop dead gorgeous and beguiling as the sexually ambiguous Camila Stone who is manipulating poor Lynn Lowry as the actress replacement. It’s the type of performance that should win awards, she carries the entire picture. Too bad it has such a stupid title that makes it sound like a goofy titty flick instead of the type of thriller Brian DePalma would mine years later with DRESSED TO KILL. Certainly worth checking out, provided you’re not afraid of near constant nudity. The blu-ray looks fantastic, and has some great interviews.

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160 07-13 Nebraska (2013) 4/5

Poor old Bruce Dern is so incredibly old looking he can only get roles like this where he plays confused, feeble old men. Fortunately, this one is by Alexander Payne, who has mastered making films about the human condition that manage to not be completely overwhelming with over sentimentality. The basic plot is that of Dern traveling from Montana to Nebraska to pick up a sweepstake prize with his son. It’s all an excuse to explore the father/son/life dynamic, and who know that Will Forte was this good in a serious role? I mean, he’s a comedic genius, MACGRUBER proved that. To see him so low key and subtle, along with everyone else, it just makes for a beautiful and funny film that completely satisfies on all levels. It’s also got Bob Odenkirk as the other brother, so this one just wins on all levels.

Right, that’s it for this week. Pretty near half a month of viewing, and it’s six titles. Not good as far as “A Movie A Day” goes…

Feel free to argue or comment, and share and like and all that stuff.

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