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.

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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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Movie a Day! 130-135: URGH!

So the past week was worse than the week before. I came down with a flu though, so I got in some movies that would not of been watched otherwise. Hooray for the flu! You know it’s a bad week when you’re happy to have the flu. Anyway, not a terrible start to June movie watching wise.

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130 06-01 Grand Theft Auto (1977) 3/5
No, I’m not counting video games as movies. This was Ron Howard’s directorial debut. It’s actually pretty good. On par with “Eat My Dust” at any rate. In this one, a girl steals her dad’s limo and takes off with Ron Howard to get married. So it’s a fantasy picture since no women would steal a car to run off with some gawky ginger like Ron Howard. It’s another massive chase film with lots of car crashes and spotty humour bits. Still, it works well enough, though not as entertaining as the video games, those are awesome. Don’t be fooled by the poster either, I don’t think Howard ever gets behind the wheel of the car. It’s all the girl driving, GIRL POWER!

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131 06-01 Urgh! A Music War (1981) 4/5
I blind bought this one having never heard of it, and it ends up being pretty much the greatest concert film ever! It’s a perfect snapshot of music in 1980. The Police are the big headliners, which is great since it’s from the period when they were awesome and not annoying. The rest of the show though is ridiculous in the best possible way. The Cramps, Dead Kennedys, The Go-Gos, Devo, Gary Numan, the awesome just keeps on coming! My only complaint is that it’s not 20 hours long and that Warner’s shit out a barebones, crummy DVD via their stupid “archives” program. Someone needs to do a proper release of this gem.

*I discovered while looking up the poster art that there is a 6 hour version of this film, featuring 3 songs per artist instead of the one song per artist in the film. It’s held up due to licensing issues. WE NEED THIS RELEASED! URGH!

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132 06-03 Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) 2.5/5
Finally sat down to this one since Bryan Singer’s next X-Men movie is finally out. It’s just dull. I don’t know if it’s trying too hard to be a “Lord of the Rings” type of thing or what, but it just doesn’t work. Ewan McGregor and Ian McShane are in fine form, but the rest of the cast, especially the lead “Jack” are the pits. So it’s hard to give two shits about anything when you don’t really care if the lead is going to get killed. There is also a fuck ton of giants, and they seem mostly to be there for snot and fart jokes. Which would be passable if the film itself didn’t look cheap and rushed. So screw this one. Another big budget, CGI jerk-off of a film with no proper story to engage you.

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133 06-03 Breaking Bad Season 3 4/5
Yup, this one is still good.

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134 06-04 Marilyn and the Senator (1975) 1.5/5
This one is the first misstep as far as releases from Vinegar Syndrome go. Presentation wise, it’s a complete win. The film looks great, there is a commentary with lead actor William Margold and a trailer. A top notch release. The problem is the film. The basic plot is a woman is desperate to get pregnant by a Senator. Ends up she’s a CIA agent, and the Senator is all for it. His wife finds out, and proceeds to over-fuck him so he can’t perform. Which isn’t the stupidest plot ever for a porn film, but not much of one for a TWO HOUR MOVIE! The director had big thoughts with this being a satire of Government in light of a porn crackdown, but it just doesn’t work. A big part of that problem is porn legend Bill Margold. He’s just unpleasant and a sap in this and just one of those actors I’ve never liked. The humour dies on the floor and everything just tests your patience to no end.

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135 06-04 Lust for Freedom (1987) 3/5
This one is a women’s prison movie from the 80’s, and it’s exactly what you think it is. Obnoxious, loud, goofy, big hair and a metal soundtrack. So it’s the PERFECT women’s prison movie from the 80’s. If you don’t believe me, check out the trailer. Vinegar Syndrome did a great job with this disc, and it was a great palate cleanser after the previous slog that was “Marilyn and the Senator.”

That’s it for now. Currently binging on Breaking Bad Season 4 and not much else, so there might again be a wait between posts longer than a week. Unless I get sick again and have to miss work. Let’s hope for that!

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