Movie A Day: Death Heat

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

 

Movie A Day 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.