Thursday, August 11, 2022

Happy Birthday, Peter Cushing


Today marks the birth anniversary of English actor Peter Cushing.  Cushing was a familiar face to generations the UK, the US and across the world thanks to his starring roles on Hammer horror films, playing a truly demented Dr. Frankenstein across many films, a noble but crisp Dr. Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes, and - of course - as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope.  

Cushing has become one of those actors where I now say "Cushing is in that?  Well, let's watch it."  And I'm never disappointed in a single moment of him on screen.

He was also a very humble gentleman who came to fame in his 40's, and always seemed to have his feet on the ground.  Cushing was also quick to make friends with his co-stars and colleagues, and he worked numerous times with Christopher Lee, and befriended the likes of Vincent Price and others who were kings of the horror film world.  

I always find it intriguing that, in his downtime, Cushing made miniatures and models of all sorts of things.  

Anyway, happy birthday, Peter Cushing!  You are missed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Friday Watch Party: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure



Well.  We had a request, and while I can't accommodate every request, (a) I love this movie, (b) this person is in a way, and it wouldn't be right turning her down when this is all she asks, and (c) turns out this week is the 37th anniversary of the film's release!  Tuesday, as I write this, is actually the day it was released.

This movie - which is mostly *not* filmed in Texas - is the most accurate depiction you will ever see of Texas, in spirit.  

This movie has everything.  Adventure.  Romance.  Ghosts.  Snakes.  Morgan Fairchild!

So, join us for one the 1980's finest works of art!

Day:  08/12/2022
Time:  8:30 PM Central
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Cost:  $4

Click here to go to the basement of the Alamo!
Link live 10 minutes before showtime

Monday, August 8, 2022

Aliens Watch: Prey (2022)




Watched:  08/07/2022
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Dan Trachtenberg

I had not heard one word about Prey (2022) before my social media lit up when it dropped on Friday (two days ago).  Frankly, I ignored the chatter for half a day when I saw mention it was a Predator movie, which is not in the year 2022 that is something that gets me terribly excited.  I love Predator, but everything after in the franchise sort of exists on a sliding scale, and attempts to merge it with Aliens somehow devalued both.  

Suffice to say, I have not seen every Alien, Predator or Aliens and Predator movie over the past 35 years.  

Thus, I was inclined to ignore the movie til I heard the basic set-up and that some trusted sources generally liked it.  Some quite a bit.  

I finally watched the film this morning, and... yeah.  This is the best Predator related thing I've seen since watching Bill Duke dry-shave in a jungle.  They kept the scale manageable, they remembered we know the Predator set-up, and that the thing to do now is to make the movie have personal stakes for the lead.  They will be changed in some way by the experience, and not just because they experienced pants-eradicating terror facing an alien invasion.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Death Spa (1987)





Watched:  08/05/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First!
Director:  Michael Fischa


So, I mistook this movie for something else I'd watched not too long ago, Killer Workout - the other 1987 movie about a string of murders occurring within an LA health club.  And, I assure you, this would be the best possible double-bill one could program, and one day I will make that happen.  The movies are similar to a point - but this one has a budget and actors you've seen before.  And a *lot* more shenanigans, but with fewer curiously placed yard-phones.

Anyway, I spent the first fifteen minutes of the movie utterly confused as this was *not* the same movie I'd watched, but due to the aesthetics of a 1980's LA gym, film grain of the 1980's all looking pretty similar circa 1987, and my face-blindness, I thought I'd stumbled onto a different cut of the same movie.  But it's not.  It's wildly different.

Is it better?  I mean - yes.  This one doesn't feel like guerilla film-making, and it has te budget to deliver on the things you were expecting in Killer Workout but didn't really get.  Namely, gory FX and a bounty of bewbs - just kinda strewn about in that 1980's way that says "look what we got to do.  Let's go enjoy some cocaine."

The plot is an insane mix of future-shock computer stuff that never really plays out, possession of humans AND computers, Dressed to KillPsycho, Carrie and many things I am sure I missed.  Anyway, I was kinda blue I'd picked the wrong movie at first - but at this point I now stan Death Spa.  The back half of this movie is absolutely bonkers and you realize the first half just exists to lull you into a false sense of security that you know what this movie is.  And you do not.  

Somehow casting but not really starring one of the guys from Dawn of the Dead, Kirk's son David from Wrath of Khan, and the woman who played Teela in Masters of the Universe, it's got a "that guy!" vibe I particularly enjoyed.  I don't know who the actual leads are, and was frankly confused who some of the women in the film were supposed to be or what their relationship was to anything - but that's 1980's filmmaking for you.  It's about MEN.  In JACKETS.  Who PUSH UP THEIR JACKET SLEEVES.

There's also some amazing sound design where they do not care that planes are flying overhead and birds are furiously chirping.  I always like it when its clear they couldn't afford a re-record session and the real world invades your killer computer ghost movie.  

OH.  And there's a parapsychologist.  And a kinda sexy lady who is blinded by chlorine?  And the guy lives in a house seemingly designed by MC Escher and that's where he puts her, and despite her recent hospital stay he keeps changing her into very formal clothes and then 9 1/2 Weeks-ing her with asparagus, the sexiest vegetable.

Anyway, watch this movie.  Ten thumbs up.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Friday Watch Party: Death Spa

 


Well, it's time to watch Death Spa.

I have nothing in particular to say about this movie before we watch it, but there are deaths at a health spa.  So get ready to scream... and sweat!

Day:  Friday 08/05/2022
Time:  8:30 Central
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Cost:  $4

(link live 10 minutes before showtime)


Thursday, August 4, 2022

Hitchcock Watch: Rebecca (1940)




Watched:  08/02/2022
Format:  BluRay - Criterion
Viewing:  Unknown, probably 4th
Director:  Alfred Hitchcock

Way, way back around 1996, I fulfilled an English credit class at university by taking "The Gothic Imagination" along with a handful of pals, including my roommate.  The class was phenomenal, but the funniest part was that the instructor used the first lecture to explain we would not be reading vampire novels, and explained the Bronte sisters to the class, and by the second lecture, I'd say 1/3rd of the class had turned over.  

Y'all need to read Wuthering Heights sometime, and Jane Eyre, because that shit sticks with you.  

Anyway, at some point the instructor decided not to teach and just showed us Alfred Hitchcock's American debut, Rebecca (1940).  I was *hooked*.  I mean, I was in film school, anyway, and was doing that Hitchcock worship thing, but I remember being all in on the movie.  

I'm currently reading Christina Lane's biography of film producer Joan Harrison, Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman behind Hitchcock. and had hit the section on Rebecca - which Harrison played a major role in securing for Hitchcock as he made his American directorial debut.  Recalling I had the BluRay in my possession, I popped it in.

Happily, I can report the movie is as good - or better - than I recall.

A young lady is travelling with a wealthy dowager as a paid companion when, in Monte Carlo, she stumbles across a seemingly haunted gentleman, whom her employer knows as a wealthy widower.  As her employer is laid-up sick, the young woman (Joan Fontaine) is courted by the gentleman (Olivier) and after some twists, they marry.  

Returning to his family home/ amazing mansion, "Manderlay", Fontaine has a hard time adapting to being a "great lady", but her primary issue is that she's dealing with everyone's memory of the first Mrs. deWinter, including that of her (ahem) devoted servant, Mrs. Danvers.  Meanwhile, Maxim deWinter becomes more of a pill by the hour, his own home seeming to haunt him.  Our new Mrs. deWinter fights inner demons, the history around her and the facts around the death of Rebecca.

If you read your Jane Eyre, all of this will have a very similar vibe as a common English girl enters the world of mansions and finds love but it is @#$%ed sideways.

Look, no one is more covered in film conversations than Hitchcock.  And Rebecca gets no small amount of ink spilled.  Personally, I think it's an earned rep.  Hitch is firing on all cylinders, he's got the power of David O. Selznick's machine behind him, and a perfectly assembled cast.  The film delivers some incredibly chilling moments covertly and overtly (Mrs. Danvers encouraging our heroine to leap from the window is... something).  

Frankly - I loved watching this movie again.  It had been so long, I'd mostly forgotten everything but the cast, some impressions and visuals, and the plot itself is an edge-of-your-seat affair for something that has no actual action, just discovery.  It's got some truly remarkable twists that manage no to feel false - no meam feat. 

The movie is gorgeous, and a reminder of the beauty of black and white when you apply subtle gradations - the interiors of Manderlay elegant, spooky and overwhelming.  It's a haunted mansion in the best way possible, and rather than an expressionistic use of extreme shadow, the film is gauzy, like scrims are overlayed at times.  

Anyway - it was phenomenal to revisit, especially in such pristine quality.  I'd only seen it on VHS previously.  



Wednesday, August 3, 2022

PodCast 207-B: "Elektra" (2005) - Part 2 - A Superheroes Every Day episode w/ Danny and Ryan




Watched:  07/16/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Rob Bowman, I think





Well. Here we are in Part 2 of talking about a not-good movie. We continue on our journey of discovery as we track the progress of a ninja, a girl you kind of wish she wouldn't work so hard to protect, and people really committed to dressing up as ninjas. Plus, flying bedsheets as cinema. Let's talk flying electric snakes.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Breathe No More - Evanescence, who is terrible, y'all.  I'm sorry.  Someone needed to tell you.



PLAYLIST TITLE GOES HERE

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Happy Birthday, Myrna Loy

 


Today marks the 117th anniversary of the birth of Myrna Loy.  If you don't know Myrna Loy, I am happy to help you fix that.  She's the absolute best.  


Sunday, July 31, 2022

John Aielli Merges With the Infinite





If you ever lived in Austin, Texas, there's a strong chance you had stumbled across John Aielli's radio program, Eklektikos, on KUT - the public radio station operated out of the University of Texas.  

Aielli was famous for any number of idiosyncratic behaviors, and I swear to god, his show ran for what must have been 6-9 hours every day, Monday through Friday, for decades.  Aielli seemed utterly disconnected from how the world worked both inside and outside his studio, breaking into the middle of songs to make a comment.  Sometimes he'd stop a song and play a part over that he liked, or just take it off if he found it irritating.  He made comments that were so random, he became internet famous when KUT launched @ShitJohnAiellieSays.  

Nichelle Nichols Crosses Over to the Final Frontier



Actor and performer Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role as Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek television series - and who appeared in the original films - has passed.  

Nichols remained active in the fan community and planned a retirement tour for 2020, which was cut short by COVID.  But she loved her fans back, embracing what the show and her character meant to folks.

For many of us, Nichols helped promote the idea of diversity in mainstream media, appearing alongside a cast that was intended to represent a better Earth, one which had made great strides toward valuing all types of people and knew how to work together.  In many ways, Nichols was a pioneer of television - a medium which had minimal presentation of people of different races working alongside each other in the mid-60's.  And, of course, the famous kiss with Shatner.  And you can read for yourself how Dr. King convinced her to stay on the show.  

All of this was something I was somewhat unaware of as an 11-year-old with a crush on the communications officer on my space show whilst watching reruns at 5:00 PM everyday in the mid-1980's.  But finding all of this out over the years gave me perspective I know I never would have had, otherwise.  It's one thing to like Uhura, and I did and I do, but another to understand what Nichols did as a person and pioneer.



I was aware that Nichols was not well for some time, and I will truly miss knowing she was out there.  But I think we can all be grateful we got to share some time on this space sphere with her, if just for a bit.