Saturday, October 8, 2022

Happy Birthday, Sigourney Weaver

Happy Birthday to the great Sigourney Weaver, the one person I think we can all agree on.  Who doesn't think Sigourney Weaver is the best?  Well, I don't want to hear about it if you don't.  The problem is you, not Sigourney Weaver.

Anyway, she's the absolute best and I hope she has a terrific birthday.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Friday Watch Party (Halloween Edition): An American Werewolf In London


This one is streaming for free with Prime, which is mind-blowing, and so we're going to do it.  One of my favorite horror pictures, An American Werewolf in London is about what you see in the title. It's scary, funny, grim, and has kind of everything.  Plus:  Jenny Agutter

And it will really make you think twice about taking the subway.

Day:  Friday 10/07
Time:  8:30 Central
Service:  Amazon Prime
Cost:  $4 - $0

link live 10 minutes before show

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Judy Tenuta Merges With The Infinite

We're very sad - and, frankly, surprised - to hear about the passing of Judy Tenuta.  I'd followed Tenuta on facebook for a while and was aware she was ill, but saw no indication that she wasn't likely to recover.  

Tenuta was part of the stand-up comedy explosion of the 1980's and was close enough to my wheelhouse while also pushing on the boundaries of my suburban Texas world  - and funny as hell - that I was as much of a fan as a kid who was not hitting any comedy clubs could be. 

With her persona, turns of phrase and storytelling, she was kind of doing a bit of performance art that was rare then and I don't think there's much of anything like it now.  

Se didn't ever cross over into movie stardom and I don't think she ever got a sitcom. but she was amazingly fun and her facebook was relentlessly positive, often tagged with #itcouldhappen.  

Anyway, I'll miss knowing she's out there.  Who will call us pigs now?

PodCast 214: "DC League Of Super Pets" (2022) - A Kryptonian Thought Beast Episode w/ Jamie & Ryan


Watched:  10/02/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jared Stern and Samuel J Levine

The podcast goes to the dogs as Jamie and Ryan talk 2022's furriest super-offering. Join us as we sniff around for a take on family fun in Metropolis as Superman's lesser-known pal gets his own feature and DC/ WB tries to kick-start a lucrative super franchise for the kiddos.



DC Movies Playlist

Vampire Watch: The Lost Boys (1987)

Watched: 10/05/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Joel Schumacher

My first takeaway from this is that The Lost Boys (1987) is Rated-R but also clearly a kids movie.  It's also not clear *why* it's rated R.  There's no nudity, the language is now fine on cable, and it's not even that gross or violent.  I saw it in the theater which would have been right around when I also saw RoboCop several states away in the theater, so it wasn't just a local thing.  Twelve year-olds, maybe exceptionally tall ones like myself, were just wandering into whatever we wanted to see and the theaters wanted our ticket and Spree money.  

But, yeah, I hadn't watched it since high school or early college, and it sure seems aimed at kids when you see it now.  The leads (Corey Haim, Jason Patric) are supposed to be in high school, I guess (a whole other question, because this is from the era when high schoolers were shown to be sexually active and drink and smoke pot as a matter-of-course), and Haim seems cast years older than the part is written.  What 16 year old needs to be told "it's bathtime!" or goes to sleep in their parent's room?  - a quick Wikipedia check confirms that the younger characters were supposed to be 8 years old, originally.

Which makes sense.  1986 was a pivotal year for comics - see the Dark Knight Returns stuff scattered in the Frog Bros.' comic shop.  But mainstream America hadn't yet picked up on the shifting content in comics and wouldn't for years.  Trust me, I was there.  So the characters were intended to be *kids* interested in *kid stuff*.  

Look, that's an interesting movie and one I would have maybe watched, but 1987 also saw The Monster Squad tank.  And this is the one people remember more than 1987's Near Dark, which I personally prefer as a horror movie.  The Lost Boys is an adventure comedy with horror elements - and that's great!  

Due to a recent reference to the film in Hulu's Reservation Dogs season finale, I think Jamie became curious and mentioned she'd never seen the film, so I did want to fix that as soon as possible.  And, I'll be honest, it's a lot better than I remembered.  I didn't remember *not* liking it, but it's genuinely funnier and better considered than I think I was giving it credit for as "a thing I liked when I was 12".  It's got great conflicting vibes that play off each other incredibly well, and it doesn't have delusions of grandeur - it's just really good at doing what it's doing.  

The cast is made up of stars and talent.  I mean, it's a weirdly well populated movie and managed to catch a whole lot of people on their way up between Coreys, Patric Sutherland, Gertz - and workhorses like Weist and Hermann who got to do something fun.  And even Alex Winters - who has maybe three lines would be hugely famous within a year or so.  

(late edit:  I forgot to mention - this movie debuts sparkly vampires!  After Alex Winter The Vampire is killed, he sprays blood all over the Frog Bros.  In the sunlight, his blood is clearly full of glitter!  SPARKLY!!!!)

I don't want to oversell the film, but it was fun!  There's some commentary baked in there about the double-edged sword of the joys and folly of eternal youth that gets overshadowed by "whoops, I'm a vampire" and the complete rejection of the possibilities.   They don't really do much to support the idea that Star and Michael even really know each other, and Star is never more than "girl" in the movie.  The timeline feels like it's 96 hours, tops.  Corey Haim's wardrobe feels like it was selected by a crazy person. 

But I enjoyed catching it again for nostalgia reasons, but also to reconsider the movie 35 years later.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Dracula Watch: The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Watched:  10/03/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First 
Director:  Alan Gibson

Well, this is the final Dracula movie starring Christopher Lee as the good count, it's 1973 happening out there, and the soundtrack has a wah peddle.  I won't say I didn't enjoy this movie.  I did!  It's got Cushing still leaning into it, Lee is much more engaged than in Dracula AD 1972, and how can you go wrong when you include Joanna Lumley?  

This movie follows what happens when Dracula gets himself a cult going, and managed to plan ahead.  His plan may make no sense, but it is very, very dramatic.  Some key scenes seem to take place off-camera, and you will not like the guy who they cast as "our hero".  He has a terrible haircut and is rude to Joanna Lumley while also clearly supposed to have a romantic spark with her that no one is buying.  She's clearly way, way out of his league.  

Anyway, a mysterious cult seems to have recruited some deeply important people with the promise of power.  They kill a chicken and everything.  But it's secretly Dracula planning to use a super-bubonic plague that will wipe out humanity.  As the authorities bring in Van Helsing to sort things out, he sorts out that Dracula survived their last encounter and is now working to create a plague so all of humanity will die, and he will then be able to die, himself.  This idea gets no further consideration as some kinda wild stuff.  

There's a basement full 'o brides, a gang wearing matching sweater vests of evil, a woman wildly othered and exoticized for being Asian, snipers, excellent use of a net, and Dracula getting caught in a shrubbery.  

Joanna Lumley plays Jessica Van Helsing, seen in the prior year's Dracula AD 1972 as portrayed by Stephanie Beacham.  And her wardrobe is 70's fabu.  No notes.  She looks terrific.  

The movie plays it pretty straight, and nobody is an idiot just to serve the story.  I'm not sure how unleashing a plague requiring physical contact that becomes obvious one has said plague is particularly frightening when you realize no one would touch those people and just walk away from the threat.  Literally Lee's scheme in Captain America: Death Too Soon is 10000x more effective.   

There's some kinda interesting direction here that shows we've moved well on from the TV-like set-ups on the first Dracula.  Even if the title sequence just yells "make it cheap!".  It's funny what some camera angles and not pumping a studio full of flat lighting can do.  But, man, you can also feel that this is not the world's most expensive movie when Dracula's office looks absolutely borrowed for the day.

Yes, Dracula has an office.

Anyhoo.  Go watch!  It's the last Dracula Lee/ Cushing team up.  

Loretta Lynn Merges With The Infinite

The great Loretta Lynn has passed.

An icon of 20th Century music, bridging generations and centuries and a true story of talent overcoming circumstances, while never forgetting your roots.  

Monday, October 3, 2022

PodCast 213: "Jekyll And Hyde" (1990) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  08/16/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: First
Decade:  1990
Director:  David Wickes

SimonUK and Ryan make a change for the spooky and ponder a transformation to covering classic story adaptations with top tier talent. We dive into Robert Louis Stevenson's tale, told as a period piece and changed about a bit to include Michael Caine and Cheryl Ladd. Join us as we talk a 1990 adaptation!



Jekyll & Hyde - Jim Burgett 

Halloween 2022

Horror and Halloween

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Vampire Watch: The Velvet Vampire (1971)

Watched:  10/02/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  Stephanie Rothman

You can't go wrong when your Dracula has a dune buggy.

I'm making light, but The Velvet Vampire (1971) was better than you'd figure with some stunning visuals and occasional actual sexiness, while being hampered by the budget and issues usually plaguing anything bearing the New World Pictures marquee from pre-1982.  

A lovely woman (Celeste Yarnall) who is absolutely and clearly our titular vampire stops for some death along the way to an art gallery show where she meets two dim-witted hip post-Summer of Love 1970's types.  The woman, Susan (Sherry E. DeBoer) rightly perceives Diane as a threat, but her husband, Lee (Michael Blodgett) sees a good looking dame who seems game and goes about telling his wife she has hang-ups and she should trust him.*  She absolutely should not.

The pair drive out to the desert where there's evil foreboding stuff and their car breaks down.  Fortunately, Diane appears driving a yellow dune buggy in full sunlight.  

At dinner (steak tar-tar, of course), Lee and Diane are basically announcing their intention to bang while Susan objects.  And then a bunch of vampirey stuff happens.  

If you showed up for partial nudity, you're in luck.  This is New World Pictures circa 1970 and they deliver on the spectacle you're hoping for.  If you showed up for Oscar-worthy performances, you may find yourself wanting.  But director Stephanie Rothman (the first woman inducted into the DGA, apparently?) does not screw around when she has an opportunity to do something cool.  And so we get some fascinating dream sequences and other bits that do a lot with some trick visuals, a fan and red negligee against the backdrop of the desert.

There's also a few other sequences that don't look like it was a crew fighting a losing battle with white walls and lighting, including a shot of Diane in a grave and two versions of voyeurism that appear in the movie.  

I can't say I loved the ending of the movie, but it's... fine.  I guess.  I would have ended it a full ten minutes earlier, but it's not my movie.  I'm just not sure how scary "vampire on a Greyhound" is.  But mostly I feel like it's a shame it appears Rothman never quite escaped doing exploitation films before hanging it up.   For example, I believe her take on the male hero of this film has to be satire in a way.  He's a being completely navigated by his dick who constantly gaslights his younger, vulnerable wife - even telling her it's no big deal when she witnesses him having sex with Diane.  The entire stance seems set up to get him murdered in the final reel.  

Susan's vulnerability and guilelessness is, frankly, unappealing and you can't blame either she or Lee for falling for the vampire's charms (there's definitely overt vampire lesbianism that never quite sticks the landing).  But it also makes Susan hard to follow as a character as the dramatic irony piles up around her.  And it all feels very intentional.  

I didn't love this movie, but as a curiosity, I'd recommend it.  It's not paced as glacially as some European films of the era, and you can feel okay about rooting against the leads.  I just wish the movie had left off much earlier and not decided a chase sequence was needed.  

*this, friends, is a red flag in your personal life as well as in vampire movies

Monster Watch: Q - The WInged Serpent (1982)

Watched:  10/01/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  Michael Cohen

I'd tried to watch Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) a number of times, going back as far as high school, but the lack of monster to minute ratio was daunting.  But with October upon us, and Criterion offering up a bevy of 1980's and vampire-based horror films (it *may* be your best bet, value-wise, this Halloween, after Shudder) I took a look at the list decided now was the time.

What a weird @#$%ing movie.

The entire look and feel of the movie is firmly in 1970's film-making.  By 1982, we're two years past Empire Strikes Back, and two years away from 1984, which is pretty much where you can lock in Gen X's idea of modern movie-going, and this movie looks and feels like it should be 1974.  The effects are a reminder of how dodgy stop action could be if work wasn't coming out of ILM.  The characters are stock 1970's characters - a world weary cop in a grungy NYC police precinct and a ne'er-do-well living outside the confines of square life who also has an artistic side and troubles with his woman.  New York is filmed as an unglamorous city in decline.  Every conversation turns into a stylized argument straight out of 1970's acting school.

About half-way through the movie, I began to believe I'd misunderstood what the movie was, really.  For a hot minute, I thought the monster of the film was going to be inconsequential and we were really getting a character study of a cop delving into stuff beyond him on one side and, really, the way government and power work in a crisis through the lens of the Michael Moriarty story as a crook and hustler tries to exploit his knowledge during a crisis.  But, nope, it's a big, goofy monster movie with some deeply 1970's vibes and an ending that feels hopelessly tacked on for the kiddies who showed up for a monster and cop movie.  

My understanding is that Moriarty's role (which now feels like he reached into the future and channeled Bill Burr) is what people grab onto and why the film has such a high reviewer rating.  And they're not wrong.  He's great.  Candy Clark is in one of those thankless but terrific "gotta support my man" parts from the 1970's that seems far closer to gender dynamics of the 1950's than the 1990s.  David Carradine is a solid actor, but I'm sure if he knew what Moriarty was up to, he wouldn't have gone for "Crusty Hero Cop #8974".  

Most weird is that the film, about a Mayan diety, features no Latinos as near as I can tell.  In NYC.  Nor does it ever really explain how people were volunteering to be human sacrifices or why.  The chief murder-priest isn't played by anyone with a Central American heritage - he's from Bombay.  And I'm not sure if he's supposed to be from India or he's supposed to pass for Hispanic?  I know Hollywood has a fraught relationship with Latinos but this is just wild.  

There's a great movie buried in here, and so it's a good and entertaining movie, but one that feels like it has studio notes all over it to the detriment of the film.

I'm glad I finally saw it.  I might watch it again.  But - for me - the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts.