Friday, November 5, 2021

Noir-vember Watch Party FRIDAY: Double Indemnity (1944)


You don't get Eddie Muller or Alan K. Rode, but you do get me and Jenifer, and we've seen some of these films.  


Not all noir is detectives and whatnot.  Sometimes it's folks just getting in way over their heads. Usually because they're chasing a woman they probably shouldn't.  Or a man they shouldn't.  YMMV.  

This is *the* best-laid plans noir.  Based on a book by James M. Cain, co-written by Billy Wilder and no less than Raymond Chandler, and masterfully acted by Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson and powerhouse Barbara Stanwyck, it's the top of the mountain for noir.

So get ready for some of the greatest dialog you'll ever hear in a film.  And some of the worst people you'll see in one.

DAY:  Friday, November 5th
TIME:  8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific
FORMAT:  Amazon Watch Party
Price:  appears to be $4

Thursday, November 4, 2021

PODCAST: "Foundation" Sci-Fi TV discussion w/ JuanD and Ryan

Watched:  09 and 10/2021
Format:  Television Apple+
Viewing: First
Decade: 2020's
Director:  various

Juan and Ryan ponder what has come before to consider what is happening now and what will happen next as they take on the famously unfilmable series of books from one of the greats of American sci-fi. Join us as we run the numbers on a show that's epic in scale, and maybe dropping a space elevator on the fans of the books.

Foundation Main Theme - Bear McCreary

Sci-Fi Playlist

Noir Watch: Hell on Frisco Bay (1955)

Watched:  11/04/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Frank Tuttle

This was not at all what I was expecting.  It feels almost like a rough draft of something like Heat, where we see both sides of the cop and criminal coin.  It's a smidge longer as a result, has some complicated character stuff going on, and is shot in color, which is... very strange, honestly, for the type of movie it is.

But I also want to watch the movie with Jenifer or Tammy so they'll tell me what all of the San Francisco locations are.  This is VERY San Francisco.  You expect them to sit down and eat a bowl of Rice-a-Roni.

The story is pretty good, but the cast is pretty stellar.  Alan Ladd is an ex-cop released from prison for a manslaughter charge that he believes was a set-up.  He's been in San Quentin for five years, and despite his wife's desire to get back together, he's been refusing her while in prison and is still, for whatever reason, mad that she saw someone else while he ignored her for five years.*  The wife is played by Joanne Dru (Red River), and you're gonna think Ladd is a moron for ignoring her, especially when she performs as a songbird in a nightclub.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Absolute Last Hallow-Scream Watch: The Leopard Man (1943)

Watched:  10/30/2021
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Jacques Tourneur

A very short film that manages to pack in what seems the plot and thrills of something much longer, The Leopard Man (1943) just uses a title that makes it sound like a sequel to The Cat People but delivers and entirely different thrill (or maybe not?).  

I *loved* this movie.  Great characters.  Misdirection.  A few scenes with genuine terror.  Beautifully shot and imagined.  This is the Val Lewton/ Jacques Tourneau you hear about in classic film circles.  For me - an unexpected ending that's terrifically framed.  I have no notes!

My understanding is that this is not just based on a Cornell Woolrich novel, but really sticks to the source material, even what's seen in specific characters' POVs.  I need to read some Woolrich.

I also was surprised to hear discussion of genocide of indigenous people by colonizing forces even mentioned, let alone treated as a tragedy. 


Elvira Halloween Watch: Messiah of Evil (1973)

Watched:  10/31/2021
Format:  Elvira Special on Shudder
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz

A while back, JAL suggested we watch this film together, and I was "ok" and then things occurred and that didn't happen.  But as we were prepping to get together for a film, I noticed that this was the fourth entry in Elvira's 4 film 40th Anniversary celebration on Shudder.  I asked Justin, and he said "oh, yes.  Watch with Elvira."  And so I did.

Elvira seemed quite taken/ amused by the movie.  So that's a good sign in my book.  She broke into the film several times, not least because she was excited Elisha Cook Jr. was in the movie, and so say we all.  Anyway, if you've got Shudder, check out Messiah of Evil (1973) as part of her 4-film cycle.  

This movie very much wants to be a horror film in a certain classic sense of horror - of creeping dread and mystery slowly overtaking our heroes as they succumb to madness, violence of others, etc...  Letters are read from people not in the story who are gone missing.  People wander languidly in a dream-like state.  Our narrator starts off confined to an insane asylum, warning us of doom before telling her tale.  It's that kind of film.

It's not *that* bad.  The pacing is a mess, as are a lot of low-budget horror films from this era that think they're building tension but they're... killing time.  But it has two legit actors pop up as guest stars (Royal Dano being the other), and had two - frankly- really good, creepy murder sequences that feel like an electric jolt in this otherwise plodding movie.  

I don't think this movie is dumb, but it just feels like it's not quite sure what to do about its limitations.  And all of the actors seem like they're on Quaaludes.  So when you add zombie cultists into the mix...  and I have every reason to believe all of this was intentional.  

The pair behind the movie, Huyck and Katz, went on to do work on good movies, including American Graffiti.  And bad movies (Howard the Duck).  It's one of the folks in famous-people film circles who didn't quite become famous themselves.  

Anyway - check it out sometime!  And we can figure out why the main guy refuses to ever be seen without a vest on.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Halloween Musical Watch: Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Watched:  10/30/2021
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:   1970's
Director:  Jim Sharman

There must be plenty of academia written on The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).  And yet, I find it a bit difficult to discuss.

I was fifteen, just moved back to Spring, TX and in the burbs when my mom - not sure what else to do with friendless 'ol me on the weekends - did what she did for a few months when we first got there, and took me to the local video emporium.*   I'd rent 3 or 4 movies and that's what I'd do when my parents turned in and the insomnia that has defined my entire life kicked in.  And among the tapes - I picked up the 15th Anniversary edition of Rocky Horror Picture Show.  

 I had heard of Rocky Horror when I was maybe 13, but had no real concept.  When I was 14 and still in Austin, some friends suggested we all go to a midnight screening.  Austin was, for reasons that make sense if you knew it at the time, one of the first cities outside of New York or LA to have a regular midnight screening of the movie.  I think it was at its semi-permanent location of Northcross Mall by that time.  And my mom greenlit me going - until about 72 hours before it was time to go, and I don't know what he teacher friends told her, but suddenly I was not going. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Halloween Watch Party: Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Watched:  10/29/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Jack Arnold

My goal for the Hallow-Scream Watch Parties was to watch some of the classic monster films with folks who hadn't seen them.  And:  mission accomplished.  

I think Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) is a fantastic movie.  I've also seen it, like, 15 times, so I don't mind talking over it, giving it some light ribbing, and generally making it fun for people who might not otherwise watch the film.  

Anyway - I think it was more or less a success this year, so I'll look into it next year, too.  We didn't watch some classics like The Invisible Man, which absolutely demand a viewing.  And maybe Hammer?  I mean, people need to see Cushing and Lee fighting on a table.

But Creatch is a good one to end on.  It's really good, but feels a lot more like modern film.  Or, at least for those of us born 20 years after it came out, we have some perspective on what this was pointing to.  Especially as many of us are more than familiar with B-film.  And, man, it's such a pretty and well-designed film.  

Happy Halloween 2021

May the Queen of Halloween bid you an Excellent All Hallows Eve

Well, 2021 is in the books at our house.  And we had a good one.  

Halloween sort of starts for me now in July as I start working on podcasts and actual Halloween night is pretty chill.  But we did 5 episodes of Podcast, five Watch Parties and I watched a bucket ton of Halloween/ horror stuff this year.  

Elvira would want you to trick or treat

Noir Horror Watch: Cat People (1942)

Watched:  10/31/2021
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  Third?
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Jacques Tourneau

I have watched this movie at least 1.75 times before, and found it odd and boring.  But I think, honestly, I must have picked up my phone or computer or something and quit watching.  Because this time...  holy cats (so to speak), I *finally* got what this movie was all about.

Honestly, I'd read so much about how great this movie was - I'd given it a go - but thought it was overhyped.  And frankly didn't know what people were talking about.  It literally almost felt like I had seen a different cut or something that missed all the good stuff when I'd previously seen this movie - because once you get to the petshop sequence, things really kick into gear here.

Anyway - THAT is the best possible case for a rewatch!  Trust in Eddie Muller if he's going to do a Halloween episode of Noir Alley!

Yes, the movie is the one where a cute woman is picked up by a typically dunder-headed American-male of the 1940's-1950's who considers all women the same, interchangeable wife-bots - where you just pick the aesthetic you like - and finds out:  whoops.  I married either a crazy person or a were-panther.  Either way:  there's a reason you may want to give pre-marital coitus a try before finding out she thinks doing so will lead to her transformation to a monstrosity.  And not in a fun way.

It is true, intentionally or otherwise, our lead is a handsome moron (I think intentionally), and the weight of what's going on is put on the shoulders of his new bride slowly going mad, were-panther or not, as she grapples with being unable to love.  

It's A LOT, and it is the most noiry-noir looking of movies.  That Tourneau is not afraid of a good shadow and what happens in those shadows.  

Anyhoo...  highly recommended.  

Can't believe they got away with this under the production code.

Happy Halloween, every buddy!


I do love the spooky season, and I hope you do, too.  Movies, candy, stories, ghosts and witches - it's all good stuff.  Gimme the staples of Halloween any day.  Well, specifically, October 31 and the days before.

I hope your Halloween is full of fun, however you do it!  There is nothing wrong with ignoring it all and watching some sports, but there's also nothing wrong with a party and costumes, or tricks and treats.

At our house, Halloween started when my mom (The Karebear) would tell us to get the Scotch Tape and cardboard decorations out a few weeks ahead of the big day, and we'd tape stuff up on windows and in the kitchen.  Cats, ghosts, draculas and whatnot.  Throw in some Great Pumpkin and other TV specials, and then it was time to figure out a costume.  And at least two of mine were hand-made by mom and grandma (I had a full-body ET costume that nearly killed me in the Houston humidity).   

This year, we're sitting on our porch and shooting candy down 5' PVC tubes into buckets to keep the kids and ourselves entertained.  Costumes look doubtful, but you never know.

Anyway - have a great day and night!  May it be SPOOKTACULAR!!!