Thursday, October 12, 2023

Phyllis Coates Merges With the Infinite

Coates appeared only in the first season of The Adventures of Superman from 1952 and the film, Superman and the Mole Men.  

I am a fan of all Loises, and as part of the legion of Loises, Ms. Coates folds a special place here at The Signal Watch.  Her Lois was quite a bit different from Noel Neill's take.  Coates tended to play a bit more into the streetwise, tough newspaper writer persona that would circle back around with some other actors to play the part.  

She left pretty quickly, but one does not play Lois and not get included in the Superman mythos.  As is the tradition, she returned to a different incarnation of Superman, appearing on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the first year as Lois' mother, Ellen Lane.

Of course, Coates was infinitely more than her brief Superman appearances.  She has 145 appearances listed on IMDB, and spanned 50 years in the business (including a lengthy break).  

Let's salute Ms. Coates and remember her for being a terrific part of the Superman legacy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

PodCast 255: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) - Halloween 2023 w/ JAL and Ryan

Watched:  09/30/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing: First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Tobe Hooper

JAL and Ryan get a little off the beaten path in their homestate of Texas, The Friendship State. It's rural roads, roadtrips and tasty BarBQ all the way down as they make new pals and learn the importance of family.



Halloween and Horror - all films playlist

Keith Giffen Merges With the Infinite

Comics legend Keith Giffen has passed.  

I can't begin to quantify how much an impact Giffen had on the industry and on me as a reader.

I knew Giffen first as one of the talents on the famed mid-80's Justice League America and I am the guy who still thinks we all dropped the ball not making The Heckler a top seller.  

He's responsible for so, so many characters and stories that make up the DCU, with amazing runs on Legion of Super-Heroes and innumerable other titles.  If Giffen's name was on it, it was worth checking out.  Just last week I was pricing a collection of his Doom Patrol on eBay. 

I'll just drop this wikipedia link here, because it's just way too much for me to repeat here.  The man was a giant, and responsible for countless ideas, many of which are the best at multiple comics publishers.  He gave us worlds upon worlds.  

I'm finding myself surprisingly shaken by Giffen's passing. He was one of the pros I always wanted to meet, and he was just in Austin, but I didn't make it to the Con.  I am sure the industry is going to be in deep mourning this week as folks say goodbye to their friend and inspiration.

Y'all take a minute to remember Mr. Giffen and all he brought to these worlds and this medium we love.


Hallo-Watch: No One Will Save You (2023)

Watched:  10/10/2023
Format:  Hulu
Viewing:  First
Director:  Brian Duffield

There's a type of movie that I call a Roller Coaster film.  I don't think this is a common term, I think I made it up, but who knows?  Maybe I stole it from somewhere and forgot.  I use the term to refer to movies that offer a visceral experience on a first viewing, often something you likely can't repeat on a second viewing.

These movies rely on a lot of sheer thrill and pacing more than plotting or character exploration.  They'll insert some tidbits and whatnot as the movie progresses so it's got something of a story, but you're there for the experience, not to learn a little moral homily.  One of my favorites of this type of film was seeing Gravity in 3D.  That was awesome on the big screen with stuff flying everywhere, and I'll never watch it again as I'll never see it in 3D again.  I'd also point to the Crank movies as rocket rides.  There's a lot of examples, and I'm sure you can point to a few.

No One Will Save You (2023) is absolutely a Roller Coaster movie, but I might rewatch it some time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Hallo-Watch: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Watched:  10/09/2023
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Robert Florey

I'd heard Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) mentioned a lot as part of Universal's early offerings in their Dracula and Frankenstein adjacent period.  It's considered part of that first wave and thus foundational as horror was being created on the fly for talkies.  Lugosi had turned down the part of the monster in Frankenstein and was looking for actory roles, and up popped this adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe tale.

Carl Laemmle, who ran Universal at the time, didn't actually think much of horror, so basing his movies on known literature probably eased his conscience a bit.

Poe's original short story is credited as the first modern detective story.  The lead, Dupin, uses logic and reason to deduce what occurred, not something common to the literary world in most stories of the time.  This form of detective fiction would quickly become mastered by others, and you get Sherlock Holmes and how we think of a *lot* of modern fiction - pretty much anything with a central mystery.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Concert Film Watch: Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (1984)

Watched:  10/08/2023
Format:  Alamo
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Jonathan Demme

I very much remember seeing the video for Burning Down the House on MTV at a neighbor's house in elementary school.  We watched a lot of MTV while hanging out in their living room, and so I became familiar with bands as much through visuals as the music.  And even in those early years of MTV, Talking Heads knew how to take advantage of film medium from jump.  

Over the years, I became more of a Talking Heads fan, picking up Naked on the say-so of a clerk at a music and video store near my house.  I'd asked "okay, so, what's new that's in that you'd recommend" and this guy looked at this dumb-looking 8th grader and decided to take the Pepsi Challenge, I guess, offering me that tape.  Well, I bought it and I loved it.

I slowly picked up all the Talking Heads output, and by college, had a subway poster of the band hanging in my room when that was still a thing young people did. 

In 1984, Talking Heads had teamed with director Jonathan Demme to produce a concert film.  I was aware of the movie mostly because my 4th grade art teacher had played it during class.*  No, I have no idea how he had a copy.  I guess they were selling them at record stores.  But he used it to try to explain art could be music and film, which was not a lesson my classmates were particularly ready for.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Hallo-Watch: Twins of Evil (1971)

Watched:  10/07/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Director:  John Hough

I had watched and even blogged Twins of Evil (1971) previously, but I really didn't remember it  It happens (I sometimes have a cocktail when watching a film).  I didn't even recall it starred Peter Cushing.

But star Peter Cushing it does!  He plays a religious zealot who has formed a posse of like-minded puritans who are taking the fact that there seems to be a vampire on the loose to ride around, finding attractive young Hammer ladies, and then burn them at the stake, suspecting them of being a witch or vampire without ever actually checking.  You know, they just feel it in their gut that this girl who is doing something as shady as walking home is clearly in league with Satan (we get Judy Matheson in a pivotal role here illustrating the problem).  

This movie is part of Hammer's parallel-to-Dracula vampire series, the Karnstein Trilogy.  The series starts with The Vampire Lovers (one of my personal favorite horror films), is followed by Lust for a Vampire (which I recently rewatched and found I loved it on a second viewing), and now we land here, with Twins of Evil.   

Hallo-Watch: The Dog Who Saved Halloween (2011)

Watched:  10/07/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First and Last
Director: i don't care

Here's a thing I didn't know until last night:  for all the complaints about the connected universe of Marvel movies, there's been a universe of movies out there that live somewhere just below the Air Bud/ Buddies franchise and just above the world of movies like A Talking Cat !?!.   This franchise stars the brother of Kevin James (who, before I realized he actually is the brother of Kevin James referred to him as "Dollar Store Kevin James") and a yellow lab that doesn't really wise-crack so much as just say shit to fill awkward spaces.  

At the end of the movie, it was agreed:  despite having seen movies like Santa With Muscles, Bailey the Christmas Hero and innumerable other absolute pieces of shit movies - this one was just offensively bad and maybe one of the worst.  And Dug, K, Jamie and I curate bad movies.

It's hard to say what makes a bad movie. We can all have a chuckle at a misfire that shoots too high and misses, or is just misguided (see: Cats).  And I know some folks find it distasteful to enjoy the swing-and-a-miss of a no-budget movie that just wasn't ever going to work (see: most of MST3K's fodder).  And I appreciate the bottom-feeders of the Hollywood ecosystem who have found a way to generate money by making absolute trash they clearly shot over 3-5 days, making it up as they went along, and being savvy enough to make something someone will accidentally pay to see (see: Santa's Summer House).

But this movie seems somehow even more cynical.  It's depending on parents to see the formula of Holiday + Talking Animal, covered by everyone from Disney to fly-by-night sometimes soft-pornographers, and leaving their kid in front of the TV without caring at all what plays on screen in a post Air Bud/ Buddies world.