Showing posts with label 1980's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1980's. Show all posts

Sunday, October 2, 2022

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.

Monday, September 26, 2022

PodCast 212: "The Hunger" (1983) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan





Watched:  08/08/2022
Format:  Bluray
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Tony Scott




Simon and Ryan bite into a legit 1980's cult classic that's big on mood, tone and lighting and shows rather than tells at every opportunity. If sexy vampires are your thing, we've got a cast that fits the bill, while also selling lifestyle porn and a great score. Join us for a movie that really makes it clear why you need a basement incinerator and an attic with plenty of storage space.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Trio in E Flat, Op. 100  - Franz Schubert
Flower Duet/ Lakme - Delibes


Halloween 2022 & all Halloween/ Horror Films

Sunday, September 18, 2022

80's Watch: American Gigolo (1980)




Watched:  09/17/2022
Format:  Streaming Paramount+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Paul Schrader

After watching Cat People for our Halloween podcasts, and making my way through Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This podcast series Erotic 80's, I figured I should get around to watching American Gigolo (1980) a movie I'd successfully not seen for 42 years but never actively avoided.  

I was doubly enticed by a Georgio Moroder soundtrack and finding out the movie had Bill Duke and Lauren Hutton, and was excited to see both for very different reasons.  

I should have watched the movie years ago after catching a cab in Las Vegas with some pals and - as I am wont to do - I began chatting with the cab driver who revealed to us his dream of becoming a gigolo.  And he used that word (with what seemed like a Russian accent, but I didn't ask).  We stayed in the car way after arriving at the hotel and listened to him discuss his strategy and goals.  He really, really wanted to sleep with older women for money.  I hope he's out there now with someone named "Gertrude" just raking it in.  

Anyway, I was completely ignorant of the plot of American Gigolo (1980), but what I assumed it to be was not what it is.   Honestly, I assumed it was a melodrama entirely about the life and loves of a gigolo in LA in 1980.  Seemed like there was plenty there as hunky Richard Gere impeccably banged his way across the Los Angeles landscape until finding real love or something.  And it is that, but with 45% of the runtime caught up in a murder plot that, frankly, is intensely telegraphed from the minute it kicks into gear (no pun intended).

I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but American Gigolo is also a movie that seems to live in a curious twilight zone of being frank about sex in many ways, but in comparison to, say, Body Heat which would show up a year later, it feels almost chaste.   Look, Lauren Hutton is...  a whole scene.  But I kinda wish the movie was just whatever was going on with Gere and Hutton.  

That said - this is a watershed film.  It isn't looking backward the way Body Heat would, it's leaning forward into adult-oriented fare but it also needs to serve an audience in 1980 who probably could have been interested in just the loves and issues of a gigolo, but would really get hooked by a crime story.  But I was kinda curious where the movie was going with Gere's alternately broken and abstracted sexuality which feels like it needs a lot more investigation than what it gets.

Everything you've heard about the hyper-stylization of the movie is true.  It's gorgeously shot and really does do its utmost to bring the various worlds of the Cali nouveau-rich and establishment rich as well as the occasional dive into other locales from gay clubs to political fundraisers.  It's a Playboy spread of the best in the lifestyle of the swinging gentleman, from cars to stereos to tasteful book collections and artfully placed desks.  

But now it almost looks quaint.  Miami Vice did this weekly on TV within a few years.  It's become a pastiche in other movies.  Still, it works.  And in no small part because the score on this thing (Moroder) - riffing occasionally on Blondie's Call Me is so f'ing great.*

All in all, the movie wasn't what I expected, and that took some adjustment.  What it did do, though, I think earns the reputation in some ways, less so in other ways (sexy ways).  But as a perfect artifact of "what set the tone for the 1980's?" you'd be hard pressed to find the thing better than this movie, which seems unaware the 1970's ever existed.  


*no one told six year old me blasting Call Me from the Chipmunk Punk album how the song became so mainstreamed  

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Watch Party Watch: They Live (1987)




Watched:  09/02/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  John Carpenter

I saw They Live (1987) twice in the theater.  I still think it's a pretty keen movie, and would now make for an interesting TV series or something.  

But, yeah, when I was twelve, there was some sci-fi coming out (see: RoboCop, Running Man, arguably even Spaceballs) that was kind of tricking studios into making movies that were some curious cultural commentary dressed up in action-adventure guise.  Which, you know, is what good sci-fi should be, anyway.

They Live mostly went under the radar, and I recall straight through college being The Only Guy In The Room Who Had Seen It, but as I kidded/ not kidded - it's not like I wasn't getting what these movies were on about.  But I do think in the past 30-something years, people have eventually seen They Live, and it's not everyone's cup of tea.  I can still bathe in the nostalgia I have for the movie and remember what it was like getting served up the movie's messaging as a novelty (there's always a 12-year-old out there getting these ideas for the first time).  But, I mean, as a 47-year-old, it is, as someone at the watch party said, a bit like something written by a college freshman.

It's got some strange pacing and budgetary constraints that keep the hard sci-fi stuff crammed into just the last few minutes.  The pacing is super odd, from the kind of draggy first twenty minutes of set-up to the five and a half minute fight in the middle of the film.  We clearly needed more Meg Foster, but that's always true.  And I think it's 100% intentional that the aliens look ridiculous.  Because they're grotesque and laughable at the same time, and that's just good stuff.  Make it weird, man!

Anyway, it was a kick to watch it with people who hadn't seen it.  

Meg Foster will come with her own special FX, thank you


Monday, August 29, 2022

Joan Watch: Mommie Dearest (1981)





Watched:  08/27/2022
Format:  Showtime trial on Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Frank Perry

I've been avoiding Mommie Dearest (1981) for some time.  But Steven and Lauren were going to see the movie, and I figured - hey, this is a reminder or a sign it's time to catch up.

It's crucial to remember, Mommie Dearest was not intended to be a high camp classic - this was someone's idea of a warts-and-all, scathing unmasking of Joan Crawford and her hideous relationship with her children that blew the doors off the movie-star image, which... if you know how Joan's post 1950's career and life went, is almost punching down.  Not to mention her life prior to Hollywood and stardom.  And even after.

Look, Joan was very dead by the time the movie arrived and was unable to rebut the portrayal of herself in the movie, which was based on a single source, that of an extremely bitter daughter who had been cut out of her mother's will.

As I've grown older, I have become aware that smaller incidents for adults play out as grand dramas for children (just as grand dramas in the actual adult world frequently pass by unnoticed by children and people on twitter).  I know we're supposed to believe anyone who comes forward with a story, and I do - insofar as I believe Joan Crawford and her adopted children had a terrible relationship.  

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Doc Watch: Paris is Burning (1990)





Watched:  08/20/2022
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jennie Livingston

I remember seeing the trailer for Paris is Burning (1990) when we went to see Slacker at the River Oaks in Houston in summer of 1990.  A straight white 15-year-old from the suburbs of Austin, recently transplanted to the suburbs of Houston, the world of gender-bending queer Black culture was - you will be shocked to learn - not on my radar.  It was so utterly alien to my experience that I was wildly curious - but I also was not going to have a ride back down to the River Oaks and asking to be taken to such a movie would be wildly transgressive, no matter how open minded my mom was.

I remember seeking out the doc a few times in college and being unable to find it, but mostly I'd forget about it except when it was mentioned in cultural touchstone moments, like pretty much anything having to do with Madonna post Vogue.  But by and large, I just forgot about trying to watch it until I saw Alicia Malone was hosting it on TCM as part of the style-centric "Follow the Thread" programming series, and I set the DVR.

Monday, August 15, 2022

80's Watch: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)



Watched:  08/12/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Tim Burton

I saw Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) the first time in a theater in the Chicago area when we were on a family roadtrip and were staying with some people who had kids our age.  I mean, we were all a little obligated to like Pee-Wee Herman at the time, and I think there was a smidge of misunderstanding that this was a kids' movie rather than an all-ages movie.  

I recall thinking the movie was funny, better than I expected, and that I'd about needed a change of pants after the Large Marge sequence during which I'd leaped about a foot out of my chair.  

I've seen the movie a few times over the years, and every time I am reminded of the film's genuine greatness.  

I really don't know much about Paul Reubens outside of his work as Pee-Wee Herman, but I assume he's a pretty smart guy.  Literally no one else does what he does.  What was kind of lost on us at the time as kids, and what will be lost on kids new to the movie now is that Pee-Wee Herman is a sort of living embodiment of a Boomer nostalgia and retro goofiness that wasn't commodified in the way Gen-X nostalgia has driven, like, billion dollar Transformers movies.  He was more of a boy-man who still lived in a sort of Howdy Doody world of kitsch and camp that now looks like generic kid-fun, but was roughly coded to bend the intention of everything around him from Abraham Lincoln in the kitchen to a hobo bindle stick.

The story, the characters (Simone!), the settings (dinosaur truck stop, the rodeo) and the set-up are all amazing nonsense.  I mean, it's a movie that features a Santa sleigh with a Godzilla in it during a climactic scene.  The movie doesn't pause for life lessons, it just keeps upping the goofiness.  

Also, the casting is pitch perfect - at least it seems so now - with Jan Hooks, Elizabeth Daily, Diane Salinger, Cassandra Peterson, Mark Holton, Judd Omen, and more..!
 
Anyway - if you want 90 minutes of pure joy, I welcome you to it.  If you do not, take a pass.

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.

Monday, July 18, 2022

PodCast 204: "Evil Dead 2 - Dead By Dawn" (1987) - an Evil Dead PodCast w/ JAL and Ryan




Watched:  07/12/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Sam Raimi




JAL and Ryan return to that cabin in the woods and take a listen to an old reel-to-reel sitting around. It's horror-comedy time with one of the finest, most creative and ground breaking films not just of the genre, but of film writ large. Join us as we talk the second installment in Raimi's trilogy and what the kids don't know.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Behemoth - Joseph LoDuca, Evil Dead II OST 
Hail He/ End Titles - Joseph LoDuca,  Evil Dead II OST 


Halloween and Horror

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Streets of Fire (1984)




Watched:  06/10/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Walter Hill

Sooner or later I was going to make the Friday Watch Party Gang watch this movie, and indeed, I did.  

Reactions were, at best, mixed.  

The last time I watched this movie, I was ill and Jamie and I recorded a very iffy podcast that required some follow up when I was feeling better.



Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Krull (1983)





Watched:  05/20/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade: 1980's
Director: Peter Yates

Even as a kid, I had no real affinity for Krull (1983).  It arrived as part of the fantasy movie blitz of the 1980's, and I didn't see it in the theater.  The trailer had some interesting imagery, but I just didn't watch it.  At some kid's birthday, I watched the Fire Mares part of the movie, said internally "what the @#$% is this?", but wasn't super interested.  But, as a kid with time on his hands and a VCR, eventually I watched the film.  However, most of my memories of the story itself are from a comic book adaptation I picked up somewhere.  I think we only bought the first issue.  

About 16 years ago, Columbia House was in its death throes and had moved into DVD's.  I gave it a whirl and picked up 11 DVDs for $11 or whatever, and among my pickings was Krull.  Jamie and I tried to watch it, and I decided "this is boring" and we didn't try again.   On a rewatch, I am not sure why we thought it was boring.  It's not.  That's not really the crime to which the movie could be held accountable.

In fact, it's a very, very pretty movie.  The sets are immaculate and gigantic.  The exteriors are all over Europe in lovely pastoral settings.  There's some truly fantastic visual stuff happening, and in a lot of ways, the movie is genuinely well-directed when it slows down to have a beat or two.  The director, Peter Yates, is no slouch and did one of my favorite new-to-me films from the past few years, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which could not be more different if Yates had physically been trying to get as far away from that movie as possible.

But, real talk, they kinda forgot to give anyone but the asshole wizard any personality beyond the thinnest layers atop an archetype.  It's weird.  There's an exposition guy who tells the "prince" what to do.  The price is princely (read:  nice but dim), and the wise old man is wise.  The stoic cyclops is stoic.  Perhaps because the actor cannot see and therefore cannot move.  

Monday, May 23, 2022

PodCast 200: "Once Upon a Time in America" (1984) - Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ SGHarms and Ryan




Watched:  05/21/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown/ First for Extended Version
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Sergio Leone




Steven returns to the podcast to talk one of Ryan's canon films, and one of Leone's last. It's an epic length podcast for an epic-length film, and certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Join us as we talk about what works, what doesn't, the challenges of the film, and what it all means.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Deborah's Theme - Ennio Morricone, Once Upon a Time in America OST
Once Upon a Time in America - Ennio Morricone, Once Upon a Time in America OST


Signal Watch Canon

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

80's TV Movie Watch: The Spirit (1987)




Watched:  05/02/2022
Format:  DVD from Warner Archive
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Michael Schultz

Way back in the 1980's, I ordered a Bud Plant catalog so I could get an idea of what all was out there in the world of comics.  I remember two things that really stuck out - a Mike Kaluta image of The Shadow (the first time I'd heard of the character) - and an image for a collection of The Spirit strips with P'gell prominently featured.  You know the one.

I didn't know what the hell The Spirit was, but to my 11 year old brain, this seemed very sexy indeed, and I assumed The Spirit was some sort of soft-core comic.  

Flash forward probably only a matter of months, and I read in Comics Scene that someone was making a TV movie of The Spirit, learned more about it (not a softcore book!) and back in the days when we weren't having superhero media rained down upon us, I was very interested.  

Finally the movie was slated to air, and of course there was some scheduling conflict (we just missed TV in those days), but I could probably catch the last hour or so.  I don't remember where we were or what was up, but I do remember my mom ran into a friend and started talking.  And I just had to stand there while the clock spun and my 1980's chances with no DVR faded away of seeing any of the movie.  

I walked in the door, watched the last five minutes, and then went to do homework.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

PODCAST 193: "Chances Are" (1989) - a Birthday Exchange Movie Discussion w/ Jamie and Ryan




Watched:  04/10/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Emilie Ardolino




NSFW! In retaliation for his selection, Jamie busts out a mostly-forgotten late-80's magical-realism romantic comedy that really draws some interesting lines in the sand for what it thinks are totally fine ideas to put into a movie. Thrill to Jamie and Ryan pondering how this was a mainstream movie that went without comment at the time.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
After All - Cher and Peter Cetera
Chances Are - Johnny Mathis


Jamie's Cinema Classics

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Flash Gordon (1980)




Watched:  04/01/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Mike Hodges

In a lot of ways, Flash Gordon (1980) maybe came out at exactly the wrong time and set the tone for what would be a problem for comic-based material until X-Men in 2000.  

With Star Wars and Superman released to critical and financial success, Dino De Laurentiis began mining the properties that had influenced the creation of both properties and set the tone in Hollywood that Marvel and DC couldn't get anything green lit for years - but somehow pulp characters would get movies.*  As The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman disappeared from TV, Buck Rogers showed up on the small screen, and De Laurentiis went and tapped Lorenzo Semple, Jr., one of the main brains behind the 1960's Batman series, to bring Flash Gordon to the big screen.  

Saturday, April 2, 2022

PODCAST 191: "Hired To Kill" (1990) - Movies of Doom w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  03/14/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing: First    
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Nico Mastorakis




SimonUK and Ryan head into enemy territory with Movies of Doom, our first voyage into "wow, this looks terrible. Let's watch this immediately" cinema. This one has A Very 90's Actor, 7 actresses you'll never see again, and 3 legends of Hollywood cashing in for a vacation in Southern Europe. It's the Dirty Dozen meets every 80's action movie, meets astounding sexism!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred



Movies of Doom!

80's Watch: Jewel of the Nile (1985)

As Jamie asked:  What is the physics of what's happening here?



Watched:  04/02/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  third?
Director:  Lewis Teague

Woof.

This movie is so bad it has a body count.  No, really.  The last thing in the credits is a "in memory of" and four names scroll by, including the name of Diane Thomas who created Romancing the Stone, of which this is a sequel.

Even as a kid, when I saw The Jewel of the Nile (1985) in the theater, I thought this movie was "not good".  I couldn't have told you why then.  Jamie informs me, when I said "this feels like a cash grab" that it was made incredibly quickly on the heels of Romancing the Stone, and that Kathleen Turner initially refused to do it because the script was so bad.  Y'all, Kathleen Turner is not wrong.  

A weirdly meandering film that just keeps happening, there's essentially a start and an end with no middle during which a bunch of stuff just sort of happens and when our leads are together, they seem like they absolutely *should* part ways as all they can do is argue, it makes the entire third-act rekindling of the romance of the movie make no sense.  But there are multiple scenes in the movie that make no sense but happen just so there's something happening on screen - maybe the greatest example of which is "the chief's son wants to fight Jack so he can court Joan" but the Chief's son is in a hut?  And they just showed up?  And why didn't they just say they were married or betrothed?  Like.  uggghhhhh.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

PodCast 189: "The Evil Dead" (1981) - a Horror Canon episode w/ JAL and Ryan




Watched:  03/13/2022
Format:  HBOMax+
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Sam Raimi




JAL returns to the PodCast to talk about a movie series that helped cement a friendship! Join us as we ponder the crazy early vision of a master of movie making, getting good results out of annoying everyone around you, and what you can do on a shoestring budget that can still provide genuine scares and have a bloody good time.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Introduction - Joseph LoDuca, The Evil Dead OST
Dawn of the Evil Dead - Joseph LoDuca, The Evil Dead OST


Horror Podcasts!

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Watch Party Watch: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984)




Watched:  02/25/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  W.D. Richter

A first viewing of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984) is not an easy task, I would assume.  

I saw Buckaroo Banzai on its release in the theater thanks to a dad who was not particularly nerdy and didn't care for nerd culture, but had certainly enjoyed serials and whatnot in his youth, and absolutely got what the movie was selling.  And I loved it.  Absolutely was into the movie.  I still love the idea of a team of folks with specialties standing between civilization and chaos.  And I got that the movie was funny and winky.  

But I also watched it over and over on cable and recorded on VHS for a bit through middle school.  What I didn't know was that the movie had flopped.  Horribly.  I mean, it made sense that my dad had to drive us across town to the one theater showing the movie, which was mostly empty.  But I also had seen Adventures in Babysitting in a theater so empty of anyone but me and my pals, the manager had come in before the movie to tell us "no monkeyshines", and that's an American classic.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Watch Party Watch: The Keep (1983)




Watched:  02/18/2022
Format:  Amazon 
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Michael Mann

This is not a good movie, but it is a fascinating movie.  If you hate Nazis (and I do!) it's not unappealing to see a supernatural force take them apart.  

I found out during this viewing that I had been given some wildly inaccurate information about the origins of the film - that it was based on a Richard Matheson novel (it is not) and that in the original novel, it's Dracula in the Keep, thus the Carpathian mountains (completely and utterly wrong).  Frankly, having read the description of the novel, I like the idea of Dracula cooling in a Keep in the Carpathians a whole lot more than the description of the novel, which sounds like a very matter-of-fact fantasy novel that would not be my jam. 

The appeal of the film is in watching early Michael Mann with a budget and - if you're so inclined - a Tangerine Dream score that matches the action.  It's a dreamy, music video of a movie with minimal dialog and falls squarely in a rare 20-year period where that was maybe fine in film.  Before, people would not have known what you were doing, and after, movies started filling in every crevice of a film with wall-to-wall exposition.  

I was pleased the assembled watch-partiers were more or less fine with the movie, all things considered.  I guess when Sheena was our last touch-base, this is like Citizen Kane.  

Anyway, there's some interesting dynamics at play as it's clear the main evil supernatural force is a big ol liar and the promise that he may just murder his way to Berlin and melt Hitler is a bit of bullshit to convince Ian McKellan to help him out, but for a brief moment, you think "well, maybe we can let this extradimensional being tear shit up.  Enemy of my enemy, etc..."  Also, the movie makes a fine point about how citizens can get caught up in the bullshit of their nation's leaders and become subordinate to the true believers, who generally are not the kind of folks who really want to have to answer to.