Saturday, October 16, 2021

Hallow-Scream Watch: Gothic (1986)




Watched:  10/16/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade: 1980's
Director:  Ken Russell

Gothic (1986) is one of those movies I remember always seeing on the shelf at movie rental places.  It was always in, but I never pulled the trigger and watched it.  I'm thinking the copy on the box describing the movie was not great, because - I believe - had it been more accurate, I would have rented the movie.

Based loosely on some real-life events (and then deeply fictionalized), the movie imagines about 24 hours of drug-fueled shenanigans in a mansion in Geneva at the turn of the 18th to the 19th Century as Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin (soon to be Mary Shelley) and Mary's step-sister arrive to have a hang with the notorious libertine, Lord Byron - in self-exile from England.

Halloween Watch Party: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)




Watched:  10/15/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's
Director:  James Whale

My friends, I have watched this movie so many times and talked about it so much, I am sure you are sick of it.  But we had a grand old time watching it together for a Watch Party!

So, annual viewing of Bride of Frankenstein, complete!




Friday, October 15, 2021

This Friday 08/15 - Hallow-Scream Watch Party: "The Bride of Frankenstein"



If you've never seen Bride of Frankenstein, it's not really what you think it is.  It's way, way weirder than whatever you had in mind.  

But mostly - It's shockingly modern in its attitudes, mix of humor and horror and pathos.  It ALSO has some #MeToo-level messaging that is so utterly core to the film, that after seeing it, you will be able to spot with absolute certainty someone who co-opted the film's iconography without ever seeing the film itself.  

Come for amazing sets, stunning costumes, high camp, sad monsters and a movie that does it all in about 85 minutes.  Plus, you know, see The Monster drinking booze and smoking a cigar.  

also - announcing SIGNAL WATCH NOIRVEMBER


SCHEDULE

Day:  October 15 - Friday
Time:   8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 Pacific
 

Cost:  $4




The Universal Monsters Hallow-Scream Watch Party series is meant to be a casual good-time as we check out the run of horror movies that started with Dracula and have become staples of culture the world over!  Everyone knows what these monsters look and act like, but it's probable most people haven't ever actually seen the movies they're in!  So, come watch!  

Starting just two years after the silent era, these movies quickly became the blockbusters of their day, bringing strange ideas most people hadn't considered, wild visuals, and complicated creatures to the screen.  And, ever since, studios have been looking to recapture this particular lightning in a bottle.

We think you'll enjoy watching along and checking out the creepfest that is Universal Horror!

SW Watch Party Series - Noirvember




For three Fridays this November (2021), we're going to get together and watch some of the biggest names in what came to be called the Film Noir movement.  Just like other watch parties of late, we'll be gathering via Amazon Watch Party.

Days:  Fridays
Time:  8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Via:  Amazon Watch Party

Movies will be about $3 - 4 to rent.

November 5th
Best Laid Plans Noir:  Double Indemnity

November 12th
Detective Noir:  The Big Sleep

November 19th
We'll put it to a vote!


Join us and catch up on the dark alleys and byways of a movement that cinema still hasn't gotten over.

Superman Stuff: Let's Talk That Jonathan Kent News




If you came here because you're under the impression that the character known as Superman - who goes by Clark Kent in his everyday life as a mild-mannered reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper - is now categorized as bisexual:  he's not.  Hang in here with me.  

Let's start by clarifying - at this time, Clark Kent, Kal-El of Krypton, is still into women as far as the comics have indicated.*  The "Superman" in question is - in current Superman comics - the young-adult son of Lois Lane and Clark Kent, one Jonathan "Jon" Kent.  In the comics, as Clark Kent has had to take care of some business elsewhere, Jon Kent has been promoted from Superboy to Superman.  

It happens. I don't make the rules, I just report them.  But, yes, there are now two Supermans.  Mens.  Whatever.  It's less and more complicated than who is and is not a Green Lantern.

I don't think it's any surprise to folks that know me or follow this site where I stand on certain topics.  

In coming issues of Superman: Son of Kal-El, a maxi series based on current events in Superman comics, it seems our guy Jon is finding love with a male reporter.  Jon Kent's sexuality is not an issue for me as a reader.  He's a character reflecting both science-fantasy ideals but also a character who will be defined by many characteristics as a person which will appear in his serialized adventures hopefully for many years to come.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Halloween Watch: The Blob (1988)




Watched:  10/13/2021
Format:  NBC Peacock
Viewing:  Second (maybe third)
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Chuck Russell

So, for some time, my pals who are horror fiends have been saying to me "have you ever seen the 1980's Blob remake?" and I've said "yes" and they say "did you like it?" and I laugh, and say "it was fine, but I haven't seen it since it first hit VHS."  And then they say "well, you have to rewatch it."

What I failed to ask was "but why?"

Circa 1989, I did watch The Blob remake on VHS.  I recall it was my brother and me during the summer, and we called Kevin Dillon "Rocky the Reckless Driver", laughed a lot about his mullet (which has to be a crazy wig) and, at the time, felt it was an okay movie, but not great.  

Friends, I need some feedback in the comments, because my takeaway from rewatching The Blob (1988) is that it's an okay movie, but not great.

I genuinely don't know if this movie was kidding or not.  It's not funny enough to be a straight up horror satire, but it does do some things I quite liked.  Now knowing more about horror films when I first saw it - I'm still not sure if the filmmakers were being "edgy" or - possibly - subverting audience expectations.  Like, they just bump off all sorts of people who would have been the survivors in other films.  The good-hearted football player, the waitress, the sheriff... a kid!  It's wild.

It also has a certain attempt at Last Starfighter folksiness for our hero, Rocky the Reckless Driver and The Cheerleader (I cannot recall her character's name but the actress is Shawnee Smith who is still very active).  People are very small town and folksy.  As the town's Bad Boy, Rocky the Reckless Driver sure is a problem for the Sheriff.  After all, he has a bad attitude!  Again - I have no idea if the movie is kidding or not about this character.  Or the attitudes of the town.

Anyway, the effects are good for a 1988-era mid-budget sci-fi film, and they don't screw around with much in the way of sideplots.  Instead, using what seem like side-plot set-ups that should go someplace else as a red-herring so you don't think certain people will be consumed by Mr. Blob.  

I also don't get how a Blob that can't tolerate cold was matured in space. But that is not for me to know.  But I do like the pivot and plot twist that this was a government experiment gone wrong versus a rogue asteroid.  I'm not sure it actually impacts anything, but you feel less bad when the containment suited government agents start getting et.

Anyway, you people have been telling me this movie is great.  It's okay!  So, lemme know what you love about it.  

It can't be that good.  It doesn't have a rockin' theme song like the original.



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

PODCAST: Ted Lasso Roundup - Seasons 1 and 2! With MBell, Maxwell, MRSHL and yours truly






We gather our forces to take on the juggernaut that is a little TV show about American football coaches shipped to England to coach football/ soccer. It's an unlikely smash hit with a pile of Emmy's, and since we were going to talk on it, anyway - we figured we'd talk out loud and y'all can listen in.

Get ready for a long episode as we go deep on how the show is structured, how it builds themes, models ideas and makes for television that challenges expectations.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Graham/ Kinda-Noir Watch: The Glass Wall (1953)




Watched:  10/09/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Maxwell Shane

I dunno if this is actually Film Noir.  It sure didn't feel like it, but Eddie showed it and brought Dana Delaney along, so who am I to argue?

The Glass Wall (1953) was a contemporary issue movie in 1953, but one that echoes in the events of today.  A Hungarian WWII camp survivor and resistance fighter has stowed away on a ship and arrived in New York.  But with no papers, he's set to be turned away and returned to Europe where he is fairly certain he will be killed.

Any of this ringing a bell?

He's stowed away under the notion that if he can find an American he saved and hid for days in a haystack, that man will support his entry to the US.  But all he knows is a first name and that he plays the coronet.  So - he makes good his escape, pursued by the law, walking through the streets of New York.

Also starring Gloria Grahame in a surprisingly small role for her at the time.  But after Bold and the Beautiful, Grahame knew she'd been good in earthier roles like in Crossfire, and so appears as a factory worker, down on her luck and knocked around by life.  (She also steals the coat of an impossibly young Kathleen Freeman, who makes a federal case out of it eve though she gets her coat back).   

Less familiar will be the stripper with a heart of hold, played by Robin Raymond - a very Americanized Hungarian transplant living with her less-adjusted mother and deeply American brother (Joe Turkel!*).  It's a great part of the film I hadn't seen coming, and rather than platitudes and Gloria Grahame looking amazing as a shop-worn girl who needs a pal - typical movie stuff - it's a look at the multiple angles of the immigrants here in the US.  And, man, in one of those shining moments of film, it feels *true*.  

In this era of dismissing the UN as useless, it's also a time capsule of what the UN was supposed to be, and what it represented to the world in the wake of the atrocities and devastation of WWII.  And as quickly as it's established, we can see how useless an empty UN is - maybe something not intended in the way you can see it now, but certainly how it was meant at the time.

Star Vittorio Gassman is exactly what the film needed - a handsome face that could look desperate.  The film wasn't shot entirely on backlots.  There's some real footage of Gassman on the streets of 1953 NYC including Times Square.  It's chaotic and dark, lit with neon.  As Gassman looks for his friend, the loneliness and alienation are stunning.  

The movie also features Ann Robinson from War of the Worlds and a handful of character actors, as well as real jazz musicians like Jack Teagarden and Shorty Rogers.  

The movie isn't great, but I have a feeling - because of it's period messages reverberating to today - I'll remember it.  




*ah, you know him from Blade Runner and The Shining.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

HALLOWEEN PODCAST: "Psycho II" (1983) - a Horror Movie Sequels Spooktacular! w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  08/05/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Richard Franklin



Simon and Ryan go nuts talking the second and unexpected installment in the adventures of a boy who is maybe a little too close with his mother. We're reminded the 80's weren't that much after the 60's as Stormin' Norman returns back to Casa Bates to start over and maybe enjoy his role as a motel entrepreneur. Could things go wrong? Hey, let's not get crazy here.




Music:
Psycho II Score by Jerry Goldsmith


Halloween 2021 - Horror Sequels Playlist

Queen of Halloween Watch: Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001)




Watched:  10/10/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second?  third?
Decade:  00's
Director:  Sam Irvin

This movie is a curiosity on so many levels, the mere fact of its existence tends to overwhelm the actual content of the film.  

Elvira was a pop culture phenomenon back in the 1980's, but it's probably fair to say that the 1990's weren't as good to her.  After the commercial failure (but, I think I can say, comedic success) of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark in 1987, big media interest in Elvira waned.  Back then, that was it.  You basically got your shot, and the idea of revivals wasn't huge at the time.  The roaring return of Elvira as a talk-show staple, baking show staple and general presence and gadfly in the universe is mostly due, I think, to people who liked Elvira and had access to the internet.

But in 2001, we were just barely getting past GeoCities and convincing our parents that getting a computer was actually something they needed to do.  I had dial-up.  It was a different time.

The 1993 attempt at an Elvira sitcom had fizzled (and, frankly, I DO NOT GET HOW.  The pilot is as good or better than 90% of what was on TV at the time, and came loaded with Elvira), so the Hail Mary of the moment was Cassandra Peterson and John Paragon writing a movie, self-funding it, and then grabbing a bunch of people and heading to Romania to film.  

80's Hallow-Horror Watch: CHUD (1984)




Watched:  10/09/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  

Uh.  

This was not great.  You can read my tweet-thread as the movie unspooled here:  


It's a not-great film that doesn't understand how cheap horror movies are supposed to work, or movies in general, and is weirdly pretentious.  Which, frankly, if you told me yesterday that CHUD (1984) has lots of scenes that feel like they're improvised by a couple of actors who've been taking a lot of classes, and it will all be treated with deadly seriousness: I would not have believed you.  But here we are.

All of that stuff, by the way, is fine:  if any of it lands.  Or the movie is earning it.  Or the writing doesn't get away from the movie.  But at the end of the day, this is a movie about Morlocks eating people, and for some reason we spend 1/3rd of the movie in an unrelated story about John Heard's career and his relationship.  None of which is CHUD-related.  Or particularly good.  

By far the weirdest are the extended scenes between Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry, where both are intent on playing unhinged and angry.  And the scenes just. keep. happening.  Both in length and frequency.

In theory the movie is about NYC having a problem with Carnivorous Humanoid Underground Dwellers, but it's also about a soup kitchen, the plight of the homeless, a career change that's really impacting a marriage that might be on the rocks, and a cop who seems really stressed out because his wife disappeared, but he fails to mention this as a problem until the second half of the film.

Also, the willing belief that nuclear waste was disposed of beneath NYC when it would literally be easier to put it on a boat and float it out 20 miles and dump it.

Maybe the WEIRDEST moment of the movie was when we saw a scene that I now believe James Cameron must have ripped off for Aliens where people with flamethrowers go down into the tunnels with a video camera  while their bosses watch them on monitors.  That's gonna sit with me a while.


Hammer-Ween Watch: The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)




Watched:  10/09/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Michael Carreras

Hammer Horror!  That eventually gets scary!  If you really wait.

This first Mummy movie from Hammer is awesome, and so I figured even a xerox of a xerox would be fine.  And, it is.  

Mummy is dug up, Egyptians are actually okay with it  - sort of - except for killing the one British guy.  But then a big, dumb American showman (Fred Clark, who was in *everything* for like 20 years) decides that instead of taking it to the British Museum, they should take it on the road.  

Anyway, there's a whole lot of plot, and the leading lady seems like she's written by someone who really had some trouble with their last girlfriend, taking the usual 1960's Hammer misogyny to cool new levels.  The reason the Mummy shows up and the motivation of those bringing him back is all-new.  But we do get some decent Mummy-Terminator action.

For once, the Egyptians are given the benefit of the doubt - they're not the ones setting things in motion - at least not the official Egyptian government.  They're not thrilled Fred Clark is going to tour their dead pharaoh around Wisconsin, but aside from that...  

Anyhoo.  It's fine.  It's not my favorite, but it was a fun Hammer watch.