Movie A Day!: 355-363 – “Bring Me Down I’m Scared!”

Right! Another week, another list! I didn’t get in a full ten titles this week. On Wednesday night I actually left the house and saw the wonderful Sadies perform. This is my third time seeing the band, and they are easily one of the the top five live acts I’ve seen. You have to be dead inside to not get swept up by them. Anyway, on with the films!

355 11-09 The Dollop – Live at Podfest (2014) 3/5
I’m kind of sneaking this one on here. This is one of my favourite podcasts, and they put this one up on YouTube to watch. If you like weird history, this is the podcast for you. While this episode isn’t as bonkers funny as some of their other ones, it’s still pretty fun.

356 11-09 Marvel 75 Years – From Pulp To Pop (2014) 2.5/5
Typical, back slapping PR kit style profile about how great Marvel Comics is, with none of the real story in it. So if you want to hear the official, super happy fun-guy version of where the characters came from, and how they were exploited into a movie franchise, then this is the one for you. Those of us wanting a more truthful look at Marvel will have to keep waiting. My favourite bit: Stan Lee being celebrated for challenging the Comic Code despite Marvel being one of the founders of said code, which was created to put EC Comics and other publishers out of business since Lee and his shitty monster books couldn’t compete. They didn’t mention that later bit…

357 11-09 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970) 4/5
This one was ridiculously good. The plot is basically what the title says, the blind swordsman meets Yojimbo, the classic character from the film YOJIMBO by Akira Kurosawa that inspired A FIST FULL OF DOLLARS which kick started the “Spaghetti Western” genre. Got all that? You did realize that Samurai and western films are all connected right? Now go watch KILL BILL again. Anyway, Zatoichi and Yojimbo are both in town and after a score of gold being hidden from Yakuza bosses. It’s an incredibly complex, twisty plot, and it works like gangbusters. There’s only a few of these films left in the boxset, and I’m going to miss them when I’m done.

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358 11-10 Red River (Theatrical Version) (1948) 4/5
This one is Howard Hawks other classic western that isn’t called RIO BRAVO. This one also stars John Wayne, and it’s the first time that Wayne played an anti-hero. His character here is an embittered rancher that is obsessed with driving his massive herd of cattle up the Chisholm trail to market. Walter Brennan plays his old partner, and Montgomery Clift plays the younger partner that Wayne took in as a child. So really, it’s a generational story of three men, their roles and how their relationships change with age. It’s a great film, the cattle scenes are amazing, and the character interplay is even better. I plan on watching the preview version sooner than later since I think this is one where you get more out of it each time you see it. This was one of my dads favourite films, so it was a shame a decent version took so long to come out not that he’s not here to see it.

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359 11-11 Wreck-It Ralph (2012) 4/5
Finally got around to the Disney film that couldn’t have been more made for me. It’s flat out “TOY STORY” but with video games, and it couldn’t be any better. John C. Reilly is great in the title role as the bad guy wanting to be a good guy, and Sarah Silverman is equally great, maybe surprisingly great in a role that doesn’t allow her to say “Cunt” repeatedly. Anyway, they nail the world that had to create for the story to make sense, and all the cameos of classic game characters was a fun trip down geek memory lane.

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360 11-13 The Black Cat (1941) 3/5
This is another Universal Horror that is named THE BLACK CAT and it has nothing to do with the previous film of that title, despite Bela Lugosi being in it in a small role. This one is basically a “Old House” type mystery. An old woman is reading her will, and now people are getting knocked off. It’s notable for it’s ridiculously strong cast of Basil Rathbone (Known for the Sherlock Holmes series), Broderick Crawford (ALL THE KINGS MEN) and Alan Ladd (SHANE) in an early role. Sadly, a lot of this one is played for laughs, mostly at the hands of comedian Hugh Herbert whose schtick doesn’t hold up very well today. It’s still a fun watch though.

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361 11-14 Tropic of Desire (1979) 3/5
This is one from the later “Porno Chic” era by Bob Chinn. It’s a pretty ambitious piece, set during the later part of WW2, about the goings on of a whore house in Hawaii. It’s all played surprisingly serious, and while sex is obviously at the forefront, it’s not really at the expense of characterization. It’s hurt a bit from typical porn budget production values, but not enough to kill it’s ambitions. Plus it has a recreation of a classic smoker that has some startling acts that’s more than worth the time to watch as the sort of freak show you don’t usually see in movies anymore.

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362 11-15 Rolling Stones From The Vault – Hampton Coliseum 1981 (2014) 4/5
The Stones are opening up their archives and seem to be pumping out releases faster than ever. I think this is the first one “From the Vault”, and thankfully it’s pretty great. This was the first concert sold as a closed circuit pay-per view, and the Stones are in fine form supporting their most recent album TATTOO YOU. The highlight is Keith Richards clobbering a fan across the head with his guitar when the fan rushed on stage at Jagger. Richards doesn’t miss a beat and they finish the encore “Satisfaction” as if nothing happened. So yeah, greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, right there.

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363 11-15 Fantasy World (1979) 2.5/5
This one is the back-up feature on the same disc that TROPIC OF DESIRE was on, and also directed by Bob Chinn. It’s good, but it’s basically a loop carrier. The skimp plot is some Navy sailors are on leave (using the same boat sets and costumes found in TROPIC, so I’m guessing these were filmed back to back) in San Francisco who are looking for a live sex show. They enter Fantasy World, and proceed to watch and participate in the stage show/fantasies. The porn is fine, but there’s not much to note since none of them get all that weird despite Chinn’s artistic ambitions. The most notable thing ends up being legend Paul Thomas going back to his pre-porn JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR days (he played Judas in the film), writing and performing the theme song “If Wishes Were Horses”. All said in the end, this is yet another PeekARama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that offers some good value for the price.

So there it is. Even the dog films were pretty good this past week. Red River really was great, I might bump it to 4.5 on a second viewing. The theatrical is the directors preferred version, but he had to trim the ending. That ending is on the longer preview version. So the actual directors cut would be the theatrical with the preview ending. Oof! It’s kind of weird watching though since I know dad would of loved seeing it looking so good on blu.

Anyway, that’s enough until next week. Going to try to finish up the season of Doctor Who this week, on top of the usual movie watching.

The End

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Movie A Day! 282-289

Another big weekend of movie watching due to the scary movie challenge. My eye’s are still in my head, and I’m barely functioning. Lots of good movies in this one so let’s have a look!

282 10-10 I Bury The Living (1958) 3.5/5

This one is about a guy who is appointed by a town council to take care of the cemetery. He accidentally uses a black pin signifying dead, instead of a white pin signifying reserved, to mark a grave that had been purchased by newlyweds on the map of burial plots in his office. The next day the couple are found dead. So it’s about a ouija like map in a graveyard. It sounds stupid on paper, but this one was really good, and most of that can be attributed to the rock solid direction that is full of style and gets the film looking downright surreal for the last third. This one was the third film on that disc I mentioned earlier I got for $10, so that means 50% of the films were really good surprises. I’ll try to watch the last one this weekend.

283 10-10 The Black Cat (1934) 4/5
This one features the first time Lugosi and Karloff would be featured in a film, and it’s a good one. Lugosi plays a Doctor who was imprisoned in WW1 for 15 years, returning to the confront his rival Karloff who was responsible for unspeakable war crimes, and the death of Lugosi’s wife. So it has nothing to do with the Poe story the title comes from, but don’t let that throw you. This one is a surprisingly twisted, satanic thriller with great performances by both leads, and a rare chance to see Lugosi play a good guy.

284 10-11 Blood Sucking Freaks (1976) 3/5
Ultimately this one is trying to be a satire of the New York theater. It’s not enough to actually elevate it since it’s basically just non-stop scenes of S&M, nudity, violence and some of the most ridiculous gore you will see. It’s all part of it’s charm. I have a weird history with this one. Old people like me will recall the 80’s VHS scene where fake documentaries like FACES OF DEATH were still being banned. A friend and I found a knockoff version of the FOD series, and on it were these ridiculous scenes of a midget cooking eyeballs and a guy drilling into a head and drinking the brains from a straw. Years later I stumbled on Blood Sucking Freaks and there were those scenes! I think because of that, I like this one way more than most people do. It’s definitely a Grindhouse classic, and Troma’s new blu-ray looks fantastic.

285 10-11 The Toxic Avenger (1984) 4/5
Figured since I watch Blood Sucking Freaks, I might as well watch my other Troma blu-ray. I’m counting this as a first time viewing since this was my first time seeing the whole thing. It’s crazy that I have never seen the Toxic Avenger films. I plan to correct that as they release them in blu-ray. Anyway, I won’t get too deep into this one. It’s basically a horror satire on super-heroes. It’s tasteless and goofy in the Troma tradition, but it works and is a hell of a lot of fun.

286 10-11 Phantom of the Paradise (1974) 4/5
Slowly but surely, I’m seeing all the films featured in that TERROR IN THE AISLES documentary that I’ve loved since seeing it on PBS or something in the 80’s. Another film I’ve been wanting to see for ages and never have until now. It was worth the wait. It’s first and foremost a musical, and a damned good one at that with some fantastic songs and performances. It’s also a great satire of the music business, and maybe not so much a satire but a critical look at the performer/audience relationship. As a bonus, it pays tribute to a whole slew of horror stories and films. Lots of fun and De Palma is in complete command of the whole thing. Recommended.

287 10-11 Dracula Sucks (1978) 3.5/5
This is one I’ve been wanting to watch for years, ever since David J. Skal praised it in his all things Dracula book “Hollywood Gothic” (which is a must read if you’re a Drac fan). First off, while it’s a porn, in the version I saw it’s barely hardcore and more of a gothic horror. It actually works, and Jamie Gillis is a surprisingly good Dracula. Sure, he’s doing the Lugosi voice, but he nails the performance. The rest of the cast are varying degrees of good to awful. for seventies porn fans though, this one might have the greatest cast ever assembled with legends Annette Haven, Serena, Seka, John Holmes and others. Anyway, production value wise, it’s all works, it’s kind of both a follow-up and remake of the original Todd Browning Dracula and the Vinegar Syndrome dvd is pretty great. You get the cut I watched, which as far as anyone can tell was never properly released, that features barely hardcore mixed with some cheap gore and kill scenes to be more horror, and the re-cut that cuts out all the killing, adds in more hardcore porn and tags on a happier ending that got more widely released as “Lust At First Bite” on a second disc. So if you’re a fan of this type of stuff, this is another VS disc well worth getting.

288 10-12 The Snake Woman (1961) 2.5/5
A woman in late eighteen hundreds England is given a medicine featuring cobra venom as a cure to her madness. She has a cold blooded baby, and 20 odd years later, people are going missing on the moors. This one never really gets going and putters along non-offensively until it’s conclusion. This was the last feature on that Timely Media 4 movie disc, so for $10 I got two really good movies; The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, and I Bury The Living, and two stinkers. So I guess it’s still wasn’t too bad a deal.

289 10-12 Seizure! (1974) 2.5/5
An author with a heart condition is having bad nightmares that become a reality when his creations invade his home over a weekend. this is Oliver Stone’s first movie, so you hope that it’s better than it is and it’s just not. Even Herve Villechaize kicking the shit out of everyone and cult icon Mary Woronov running around in her underwear can help it as this one just plods along, never really succeeding as a thriller or campy fun.

That’s about it for this one. It’s a long weekend as I post this, and I’m burned out. I can;t handle massive family events like thanksgiving dinner was yesterday. They just completely, emotionally exhaust me. Even drinking free booze doesn’t help me handle it, I get full of anxiety and totally shut down. It takes me days to recover from it. Ridiculous, I should have a handle on this stuff at my age.

Until next time.