Showing posts with label 1970's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1970's. Show all posts

Saturday, June 3, 2017

TL;DR: We Discuss Our Love of Wonder Woman as Character, Icon and Hero



This isn't a review of the movie, which I'm slated to see in a few hours.  But with the arrival of Wonder Woman in cinemas, I wanted to reflect on Wonder Woman as a character and my road with Diana.

Like most kids of my generation, I grew up with Wonder Woman as the default "superhero for girls".  Sure, DC had a wide array of female characters, but a lot of "team" concepts aimed at boys included 1 or maybe 2 girls on the team no matter how big the roster got (see: GI Joe).  And on Super Friends, Wonder Woman was the all-purpose female character who was not Jayna of The Wonder Twins of Wendy of Super Marv and Wendy (ahhh, the 70's).

but at least they gave WW two villains from her rogues gallery

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ape Watch: King Kong (1976)



With Kong: Skull Island checked off my "must see" list, I noted King Kong starring Jessica Lange was on Amazon Prime.

If ever a movie was a mixed bag, it's the 1976 version of King Kong.  It's a movie only the 1970's could have produced, still in the echoes of the pessimistic Planet of the Apes saga but brimming with the romanticism we'd see in Superman: The Movie and Star Wars.  It features two/ three stars busting out - nobody aware they'd become Hollywood icons - in Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange and Charles Grodin, who would go on to be Charles Grodin (and that is not a complaint).

But it's also a movie with a very good mask/ make-up on a guy in an ape suit, big animatronic hands, arms and legs for Lange to cling to, and a re-writing of the premise as an Energy-Crisis-conscious abandoning of the showbiz angle of the original for something about oil exploration.  And it really whittles down the wonder of Skull Island - dumping the dinosaurs in exchange for more dialog and human moments, severely diminishing the idea that this is an adventure film.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hammer Watch: The Wicker Man (1973)



For about two decades I'd intended to see this movie, and somehow just never got around to it.  I'd guess this is partly because I had no idea why I was supposed to see this movie.  People would just say "you've never seen The Wicker Man?" and I'd say I hadn't, and they'd laugh knowingly and tell me to add it to my queue.

I should pause here and point out - apparently I never ask what a movie is about when being given a recommendation.  You'd think I'd care more.

Friday evening, I swung by Vulcan Video on my way home and, after some deliberation, selected this movie out of the sea of titles.  Saturday night Jamie and I stayed in, and while I'd planned to watch The Wicker Man (1973) after she went to bed, we wound up dropping it in the player and watching it together.

Suffice it to say, I now know what The Wicker Man is about, and I get why it has a reputation as a bit of must-see cult cinema in The States, and - I guess - a bit more of a reputation in the UK.  It also was not what I'd call Jamie's cup of tea, and I suppose she'll be picking the next three or four movies we watch together.

The timing is a bit odd.  I'm currently wrapping up a multi-hour/ multi-part series from the You Must Remember This Podcast, something called "Charles Manson's Hollywood".  I'll talk more about that series and the podcast in a future post, but I've spent the past week or so thinking a lot about the hippie and counter-culture scene of the 60's that bled into the 1970's of late, and the bending of free-love into very traditional gender roles, exploration of the psyche via psychedelics and non-Judeo-Christian religion, communal utopianism - and how most of that collapsed in on itself, sometimes ending in violence...  Well, you can see how I might have drawn some parallels here.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Disco Watch: Saturday Night Fever (1977)



It's difficult to say how or why I wound up watching all of Saturday Night Fever (1977) on a Saturday night.  I will also very quickly disabuse you of the idea that I watched the movie ironically.  After roommate CB showed me the movie in college, I realized it's actually a straight up decent movie about a young man realizing what is and is not important as he crosses the threshold from youth into adulthood.

With disco.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Saying Good-Bye Double Bill: Star Wars (1977) and Singin' In The Rain (1952)


Before the year (and my break) ended, I wanted to watch a couple of films as we say good-bye to a pair of women we're all going to miss.

No write up.  It was actually great seeing them both in their pivotal roles again.  We'll have these films forever, even if we've lost the women who made them.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Lust for a Vampire (1971)



Editor's Note (12/5/2016):  Sometimes we sort of half-watch a movie while we're on our computer, and sometimes we aren't paying correct attention.  This has, from time to time, meant that we've totally misunderstood plot-points, found movies unengaging, etc...  

I was a bit embarrassed to learn from someone via twitter that, despite the fact I thought Christopher Lee was in this movie, he is not.  Which is weird.  I like Christopher Lee.  I know who he is.  And I thought it extremely odd he was so lightly used in this film (see below).  Which puts me in a bit of a position.  What did I watch?  

The actor in question is Mike Raven, who bears a passing resemblance to Mr. Lee, especially in facial hair.  I'm now genuinely feeling like I did not give the movie a fair chance and may need to give it a whirl again to reconsider.  When I am wrong, I am wrong, and I try to be open to that idea, especially when I'm so rudely dismissive to a film, book, what-have-you.


Thanks to Judy Jarvis for the correction.



So, I hated this movie.

I was grabbing a few movies at Vulcan and was looking for Vampire Circus (which they literally only had on VHS, so...) or another Ingrid Pitt movie in their Hammer section and saw they had this sequel, and figured "ah, what the hell.  Why not?"  And, why not?, indeed.

I'd argue Lust for a Vampire (1971) is boring, overly long, devoid of even psychological drama, has dull leads, and is a poor successor to it's predecessor, The Vampire Lovers.   That movie was based on a novel with a few centuries under its belt, and, yeah, this was a fresh story about the same vampire coming back to life and being put in a girls' school.  But they replaced Ingrid Pitt as the lead character, which I was willing to accept, and forgot to not just write scene after boring scene where nothing happens.

So, Lust for a Vampire (1971), has some goofy love story where an author falls for Carmilla and so maneuvers his way into teaching at her girls' school where... I dunno.  It doesn't matter.  Even the sex scenes are awkward and boring, and the vampire scenes don't really exist.  Just turning over bodies to see puncture wounds.  AND, unbelievably, it features Christopher Lee and he's basically in a supporting role anyone could have filled in.  Maybe he was just hanging around?


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hammer Watch: The Vampire Lovers (1970)


Ah.  Okay.  So.

I had a free rental for some reason at Vulcan Video, so I wanted to continue down the path of watching some additional Hammer Horror.  I was vaguely aware of the movie The Vampire Lovers (1970), maybe from a suggestion from one of you fine people.  I don't know.  What I did know was that the Hammer aficionados have a warm spot in their hearts for Ingrid Pitt, and this one was heavily featuring Ms. Pitt, so who was I to not watch this movie?

Well, goodness.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sci-Fi Watch: Starcrash (1978); or "the most amazing movie I've seen in 2016"



I don't know where to start or what, exactly, to say about Starcrash (1978).

I'd heard of the movie decades ago as it was always in with the sci-fi/ fantasy movies at video rental shops, but with Caroline Munro in a vinyl bikini on the box cover, I knew better than to bother to rent the movie.  When I was young enough to have to ask my parents to rent something for me, I didn't want to put up with the questions and then the reporting my parents would gleefully do given the first opportunity (my family looooooves a good embarrassing story, and a 10 year old Ryan standing there with a video with a buxom space-lady on the cover would have been fodder for them for weeks, if not years).

When I got older and was renting movies on my own, and, I know it seems counter-intuitive if you've been following this site for a while, but I already knew any movie relying on a bikini-clad off-brand actor on the cover wound up as a terrible decision.  Yes, it was also the kind of thing that became fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000 in it's later years when the cheaply produced post Star Wars/ post Mad Max knock-offs were showing up over and over at the video store, but without Joel or Mike to guide me through, it wasn't worth it.*  And, I don't mind that at one point in my life I was subconsciously trying to understand what was and was not a good movie.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Final Halloween Watch: Young Frankenstein (1974)


What's to say at this point about Young Frankenstein (1974) that hasn't already been said?

After we handed out candy last night, which ended early, we came in and put on this movie.  As much as Frankenstein and Bride of have become part of my Halloween routine, so has Young Frankenstein become how we put a capper on the holiday - which just isn't that spooky once you're handing out "fun-sized" boxes of Nerds to miniature firefighters, princesses and Batmans for a few hours.

It's been a good, if odd (thanks to the World Series), Halloween season, and we appreciate you bearing with us.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Non-Essential Viewing: Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)



I don't know how to categorize this.  It was a two-hour television "event" on Thursday night, in prime time.  It's a sort of "TV movie", but it's in the manner of one of the live musicals the networks have been doing.  Only, it wasn't live.

It also wasn't... very good.

Look, no one has remade this movie to date because the original is lightning in a bottle.  It was a movie that's still relevant, but a lot of what was taboo or edgy in that film has lost it's subversion as elements have become or are becoming more mainstreamed.  Putting a play/ movie about themes that were still considered unmentionable in the 1970's and turning it into fodder for channel flippers on a Thursday night was going to be difficult - but I almost felt like, Laverne Cox aside, most of the cast didn't really know how this was supposed to work.  And, frankly, it didn't feel like the director or producers knew how to do this, either.

To maybe throw some context on this:  the show/ movie was directed by Kenny Ortega, a name that's not exactly household for me, but he was the brains behind High School Musical.  And, boy howdy, does that explain a lot when you're watching the thing.

Really what struck me while watching this was:  Hot Topic.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Huh Watch: Vampyros Lesbos (1971)



There's no easy way to say "this movie promised some sex and nudity, and vampires, and so I watched it" - so let's go ahead and get that out of the way.

I was sent a list of "movies that are basically not great, kind of smutty and horror movies", and on that list was a movie I'd intended to watch for quite some time as it often pops up in discussions of Italian horror directors - and that movie is Franco's Vampyros Lesbos (1971).

I'm not sure this film is ground zero for the lesbian vampire sub-sub-genre, which is definitely a thing when you consider everything from Daughters of Darkness to The Hunger, (this list rightfully points to the first Dracula sequel, Dracula's Daughter as having not so subtle undertones) - but it is, by far, the least subtley titled of all lesbian vampire films.

To be clear - it's not soft-core porn.  It is a legit erotic horror movie.

It is also very not good.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bond Watch: Moonraker (1979)



I hadn't watched Moonraker (1979) since middle-school.  My recollection of watching the movie included three things:  the opening parachuting sequence (which is the best part of the movie), it had Jaws running around in it, and the ending feeling like it had been imported from a completely different franchise.

Straight up - I'm not sure that this is literally the worst Bond movie - finishing the series will tell me that.  But this is my personal least favorite Bond movie as of this writing and has been since I saw it the one time previously.

All this is frustrating coming right on the heels of one of my favorite Bond movies (The Spy Who Loved Me), especially as they abandon the tone of danger and adventure with light comedy that movie employed and turn this movie, essentially, into a Roadrunner cartoon with Jaws in the role of Wile E. Coyote.  It's kind of mystifying.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hammer Watch: Dracula A.D. 1972


Full confession: I rented this movie entirely upon the promise of Caroline Munro who, it turned out, was a key character in the movie, but not in it nearly as much as one would hope (and I have some script notes on that which I am sure could be retro-actively applied).

Because otherwise I usually like my Dracula nice and Victorian.  Bringing Dracula into the modern age always amps the cheese factor for me (do not see Dracula 2000) and just reminds me that Dracula works best when Van Helsing and the gang don't have cell phones or modern medicine.  After all, the original novel of Dracula is sort of an exploration of the slow horror that was disease in an era when leeches and a good blood letting were about as much as your doctors were going to do for you while your body shut down on you in pretty awful ways.

In truth, I basically rented the movie for a laugh, not expecting much, and wound up genuinely enjoying the thing.  I absolutely love it when something turns out not to be the dud I thought it would be.  My exposure to Hammer Horror is limited, and while this one isn't exactly scary - it understands horror, vampires and the core of why they can be great villains when they aren't sparkling or sitting around looking like the H+M catalog exploded on a CW show.

Thus, this is a post about how I enjoyed Dracula AD 1972 (1972), a pretty-not-great movie that was sadly lacking in greater Caroline Munro screentime, but nonetheless a fun movie.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Horror Watch: Suspiria (1977)


Suspiria (1977) is one of those movies that you see cited a whole lot for various reasons, usually around cinematography or as it exploited a trope of the horror genre that someone wants to discuss and class it up a bit.

For this reason, about a year ago I decided I wanted to see Suspiria, but as it wasn't on Netflix of available via Amazon Prime, my efforts were thwarted.  Luckily, Austin still has a movie rental company called Vulcan Video which recently moved it's South location to actual South Austin (Ben White, bitches!  Near both Blazer Tag and Jamie's dialysis clinic!).  I went and renewed my membership, discovering the last time I was in was July 20th, 2001.  Jamie believes we last rented "The Star Wars Holiday Special", which sounds about right.

When I've asked people if they've seen Suspiria, and they've answered in the affirmative, they usually also back it up with "it's interesting, but I'm not sure it's very good."  Which told me what I needed to know going into the film.

Anyway, point is - Suspiria was available.  I rented it  I watched it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bond Watch: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)



The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) is one of my favorite Bond films.  If I had a top 5 pre-Craig Bond films, this would be hovering right next to Goldfinger.  It's peak Moore, when he's not just seemingly having a laugh in a tux, but he's funny as hell but still buyable in action sequences - of which this movie has some good ones.  It has one of my favorite title sequences/ theme songs after Goldfinger with Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better", and the pre-title's opening is directly tied to character motivations later in the film (and it's a bad-ass ski-chase with the best ending to a ski chase on film!).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Super Watch: Superman - The Movie, Superman III and Superman IV


On Labor Day, the El Rey Network was showing a Superman 4 movie marathon.  I basically turned on the TV and left it on the El Rey Network all day and into the evening, doing other things, but watching a whole lotta Superman.

They started with Superman: The Movie, and then started a Superman reverse marathon, showing Superman's IV, III, II and then Superman: The Movie again.  I watched Superman: The Movie from the point where young Clark throws the green crystal into the ice to the end, then watched all of Superman IV, then all of Superman III, then I went and moved around a bit, but came back to watch the part of Superman: The Movie I hadn't yet watched.

As I believe, like with the RoboCop franchise, watching the movies in reverse order means you end on a high note instead of trailing off into a lot of bad decision making and slashed budgets - this may be the ideal way to watch the movies once you're overly familiar with them.

There's not much new to write, and, frankly, I was doing other things - like writing up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - while watching Superman's IV and III.  But it was a good palette cleanser, Superman wise.

Also, Superman IV is just terrible.  All four movies have issues, sure, and Superman III is actually grating in parts (Richard's Lester and Pryor are a toxic combination), but it also has some small bits of genius, like the Bad Superman vs. Clark Kent fight.  Superman IV has the one speech by Lois Lane to the ailing Clark Kent, and that's it.  Before anyone thinks I can't bag on these movies - my friends, I absolutely can and will - because everything about Jon Cryer in Superman IV is some of the worst decision making ever put to celluloid, and Superman III is so troubled in it's conception, it makes my eyes hurt to think about the actual plot.

Still, you gotta like Christopher Reeve.

Monday, August 22, 2016

More About Bees and the 1970's

So, Nathaniel asked me why I forgot to mention the giant, hallucinatory bees in 1978's The Swarm.   And, he's right to ask, because it's probably the most stunning/ least magical visual special effect in the movie.


What's most interesting is that the bees inject a venom into their victim that make them not just hallucinate, but hallucinate a very large bee.

Now, as a kid I saw an ad for The Swarm on TV as the Late Late Movie on local UHF, and they kept showing the clips of the hallucinations.  Unfortunately, at age 11 or so, I was not qualified to stay up for the midnight to four AM shift, so I missed the broadcast and never saw the movie I assumed was all about giant bees.  At some point when SimonUK suggested we watch this movie, like, two years ago, I eagerly said "you mean the movie about the giant bees?"
"No, the one with Michael Caine."
"Right!  With giant bees!"
"Well... no."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Caine Watch: The Swarm (1978)



No one is going to accuse The Swarm (1978) of being a great movie.  Or, really, even a good movie.   Or, you know, a movie.

It may be a bit odd the movie isn't that good as it it's directed by producer of disaster-porn Irwin Allen, but maybe he should have stuck to producing.  The movie follows the logic of many-a-disaster movie,  which people my age know mostly from Independence Day.  Multiple storylines.  Scientists trying to understand what's happening.  Lots of people die.  Lots of famous faces in roles big and small.

Our disaster here?  BEES.  Which, I really shouldn't make fun of, because this is the kind of shit that is, in fact, going to take humanity out.  But... BEES.  SWARMS OF KILLER BEES.

Our all-star cast is anchored by Michael Caine who plays The Scientist, or - more specifically - the bee scientist.  Other honest-to-god big names include Katherine Ross as The Doctor, Richard Widmark as The General, Richard Chamberlain as The Other Scientist, Cameron Mitchell as The Pentagon Official, Olivia de Havilland as The Aging Beauty, Fred McMurray as deHavilland's SUITOR #1 and Ben Johnson as SUITOR #2.  Jose Ferrer as the manager of a nuclear power plant.  Patty Duke as a waitress.  Slim Pickens as a sad city worker.  And a clearly very deaf Henry Fonda shouting lines as YET ANOTHER SCIENTIST WHO DOES NOT KNOW THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD OR BASIC MEDICAL PROTOCOLS.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

70's Watch: Shaft (1971)



In the 1990's, for reasons that involve a lot of co-option of black culture by suburban white kids, and waffling between irony, genuine appreciation and I think a sincere love for the score - young white America somehow became invested in the 1971 film that was considered one of the best films to come out of the blaxploitation movement, Shaft.

Context free, a lot of us cracker kids watched I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka on VHS or HBO, maybe understanding that this was riffing on movies of a prior era, but I hadn't seen them, nor had my peers.  I think the closest I got to taking in any blaxploitation film until the early 90's was tuning into Super Fly one night as a kid in middle school, believing from the title that it was a superhero movie I'd somehow missed.  If anything, I got a clue as to what the spoof movie had been on about via reruns of TV shows that lifted from blaxploitation, but I confess to being mostly ignorant of the genre until maybe 1992 or when I got to college.

Kids hipper to a wider variety of music than what I listened to picked up pop-culture references as 80's and 90's hip-hop name-dropped and sampled from 70's actioners and that bled over to other genres of dance music.  The curious kids picked up some of those movies to rent and saw a lot of stuff I didn't catch until others got me to take a look or I heard about it word of mouth (the internet was just Star Trek fan pages and lo-fi porn then, you see).  Other kids who had gotten into soul and funk music tracked down Isaac Hayes and wanted to actually see Shaft.  I do know that by the time I left high school, I was at least aware of who Hayes was, but that was about it.  Had maybe heard of Shaft, but this was also an era in which your local Blockbuster likely didn't carry movies that were older than 7 or 8 years from the theater.

As a good, sorta-hip white kid of the 1990's, I caught Shaft at some point during film school.  I don't remember if it was before or after a unit on blaxploitation as a genre and my first exposure to Pam Grier (something a young man never forgets).

The funny thing is - watching it this last weekend, I didn't really remember Shaft all that well.  Once the one guy gets tossed out the window, I couldn't really piece together what the plot had been, just snippets here and there.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to find out - Shaft is actually a strong private detective story in a classic pulp-crime style (deeply appealing to this viewer), with a fascinating protagonist who is literally not playing by anyone else's rules - if'n you should ever want to see what that actually looks like, you with your anti-heroes.

And, of course, Shaft is a Black superhero who cuts through white culture through the sheer power of not giving a good goddamn.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Robo-Watch: Westworld (1973)



It had been some time since I'd watched the 1973 sci-fi classic, Westworld.  I'd rented it with Jason some time back in the late 80's, and I think we both really liked it (but, if memory serves, he'd seen it before).    I've only seen it again once in college somewhere along the line, enjoyed it, but not watched it again anytime in the last 16 years at least.  I've tried to watch the sequel, Futureworld, but just couldn't watch the 1976 film.  Something about the pacing lost me the one time I tried to give it a whirl.

It seems HBO is launching a TV series also titled Westworld which will greatly expand on the ideas presented in the movie.  It's got an all-star cast and looks to be the sort of thing I find interesting in science fiction.*  I'll be checking it out, certainly, and have high hopes.  Anyway, it got me fired up to review the original film once again.