Friday, January 10, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
The holidays never end here at The Signal Watch! We've got one more PodCast for you as we discuss "Trading Places" (1983), a movie about class, race, and power of hoping your audience knows a whole lot about the commodities market (we do not). Join us as we discuss a movie that's both dated and ageless. Oh, and it takes place at Christmas, sort of.
Overture - Mozart, The Marriage Of Figaro
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
I've been aware of Victor/ Victoria (1982) since, probably, college. Just never got around to seeing it. The movie is famous for it's plot of "woman posing as a man presenting as a female impersonator (re: Drag Queen)", but you hear little else about it. It had no radio hits from the songs and hadn't really permeated the culture the way many-a-musical will.
Thursday, December 26, 2019
Viewing: God. Too many.
For longtime readers of the League of Melbotis and Signal Watch blogs, you will know that the 1987 sci-fi opus, R.O.T.O.R., holds a special place in my heart. I first stumbled across the movie on late-night basic cable, and every few years I revisit the film, and, like any fine piece of art, find new things to appreciate and enjoy.
This Christmas Eve, Doug and I chose to punish ourselves by re-watching this movie, but this viewing was enhanced with the power of RiffTrax, some of the same fine fellows who you may know from their work on Mystery Science Theater 3000. And, I am, of course delighted to have the help as I'm watching the movie.
Look, I love a movie that leads to more questions than answers as the thing plugs along, and that's ROTOR in a nutshell. The movie is a phenomenal collection of odd-ball movie cliches, dialog tics, generic Texas racism, inevitable dashes of pretension, unexplored but tedious romance, and 1980's non-union talent. The plotting/ pacing is wild, and an amazingly inept filmmaking on a budget. That the movie was finished seems like an act of sheer will and a sort of bright-eyed Hollywood dream backed by nothing but wantin'-to-put-on-a-show that can make for some of the brightest spots in movie-dom.
RoboCop managed to spawn a *lot* of bad knock-offs. It's not actually clear this was one of them as both films came out in 1987. But who knows? There was just something magical in the air of Dallas, where both were shot!, that produced futuristic policing cyborg movies, I guess.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Format: Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
(Our most NSFW episode yet!) We hit the Alamo Drafthouse, settled in and ordered up some cocktails, for we were watching "CATS" - the adaptation of the 1980's musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber! Join us in a Day Drinking the Movies episode as we discuss 2019's favorite (and deserving!) movie punching bag - with special guests Doug and K!
Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats - Cast, Cats OST
Memory - Jennifer Hudson, Cats OST
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Format: Alamo Mueller Movie Party
I saw Gremlins (1984) during its original theatrical run back when I was a kid. I wasn't someone who watched any horror yet, so I do recall the movie scaring the crap out of me in one or two scenes, but as the same kid who thought Ewoks were *great*, I also loved me some Gizmo.
In fact, I started 4th grade with an official Gremlins backpack that had Gizmo screenprinted on the outside like I was Billy Peltzer chasing me down some Stripe with my little buddy.
Thursday, December 5, 2019
(mildly NSFW) SimonUK, Jamie and Ryan hold a holiday roundtable to discuss "Jaws: The Revenge", which, for reasons unknown, takes place at Christmas. Join us as we puzzle through the chapter in the Jaws saga no one asked for, added psychic powers, Michael Caine, and a plot that doesn't even bother to make sense.
Sunday, November 3, 2019
Format: Criterion BluRay
Viewing: 4th, I believe
Back in the go-go 1990's, I stumbled across John Sayles, as one was want to do if in film school at the time. People would name drop him as he had a rep as the same guy who wrote Piranha, Alligator, The Howling and other more mainstream flicks, but was basically funding his ability to also write and direct independent film. It's something he still does (apparently), but given the number of times I've heard his name or seen it online or in print the past twenty years, he's fallen away from film-nerd discussion, I suppose - which makes me really wonder who else we've forgotten.
Sunday, October 27, 2019
Watched: 10/15/2019 and 10/20/2019
Viewing: Second/ First
Decade: 1980's/ 2000's
Things get a little hazy as SimonUK and Ryan take on two spooktacular movies about what happens when the barometer drops, the humidity rises and things go bump in the water vapor. It's our final Halloween movie of 2019! One about ghostly seafaring folks and the other about... I dunno. It's real bad, though.
The Fog Theme - John Carpenter, The Fog OST
The Host of Seraphim - Dead Can Dance, The Serpent's Egg and The Mist soundtrack
Halloween 2019 Playlist
Halloween 2018 Playlist
Saturday, October 26, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: I dunno. 4th? 5th?
So, I love this movie poster. It tells you an incredible amount about the movie without spilling the beans, but it's beautifully designed for balance, terror, and and the uncanny pushing through into reality.
It turns out the poster is by Matthew Peak, who happens to be the son of legendary illustrator Bob Peak - but this was his first movie poster at age 25. Amazing!
It does remind me of other artists who were bursting on the scene at the time, but that's not a criticism. If it falls on a continuum of the Dave McKean/ Bill Sienkiewicz/ Drew Struzan, well... okay then.
Anyway - Jamie alerted me she'd never seen A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and 'tis the season, so we watched it. But you've seen this movie, and I wrote it up a year or two ago, so. Anyway.
I will say - I really appreciate how tight this movie is. No fat on it at all. And you can see immediately how and why they wanted a sequel to expand on the concept.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Format: Amazon Streaming
No, I'd never seen Creepshow (1982), which, I guess, horror fans find to be a straight up problem. So, I went ahead and put it on this last weekend while Jamie flew to California to see The Dug.
I like a horror anthology film! If you're not into what's going on, you just wait til the next segment. And, honestly, a lot of what folks try to build up as tension in horror but dragging things out in (poorer) horror, I just wish they'd get on with it - so short stories are a great way to go.
Turns out I'd seen all of one segment at some point back in the day on cable (the chapter with Ted Danson and Leslie Nielsen), and parts one or more others. But I don't think I knew that was + when I watched it back around 1989.
I got not much to say. It was fun. I liked the part with the crate monster best, I think. But it's a highly quotable movie that I'm not sure gets quoted. ("I want my cake!" should be a horror catch phrase. Is it one? Is it T-shirt slogan worthy?)
Anyhoo... some terrific make-up effects and some good practical and puppet FX, too.
Monday, October 21, 2019
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Watched: 10/03/2019 and 10/05/2019
Format: Amazon Streaming (both)
Viewing: Unknown (both)
Decade: 1980's/ 1970's
Marshall and Ryan throw a Halloween (Haunted) House Party with two favorites of the ghosts & real estate genre! We compare notes on a make-believe story that some think bled into reality, and a real story which feels kinda fakey, if we're being honest. But only one has Margot Kidder. Let's talk what makes for a captivating tale of houses with more than plumbing issues, and we ponder the handsomeness of James Brolin.
Amityville Horror Theme - Lalo Shifrin, Amityville Horror OST
Poltergeist Theme - Jerry Goldsmith, Poltergeist OST
Sunday, October 20, 2019
Decade: 1980's (so, so 1980's)
I've been meaning to watch this one for a few years as I've not seen much of the work of Monster Squad director Fred Dekker. Dekker both wrote and directed Night of the Creeps (1986), and it does feel like part of the lineage of films by the likes of Landis and Joe Dante - a sort of boutique film by horror movie dorks by horror movie dorks. But it's still broad enough to work even if you don't realize the entire movie is a collection of references frankensteined together to make a narrative.
First - I found this movie to be straight up Rated-R horror movie fun. And I guess, deep down, if a horror film doesn't have anything in particular to say, or isn't going to be a cinematic tour-de-force, give me a good time at the movies. Night of the Creeps absolutely delivers. Aliens. 1950's flashbacks with "the escaped axe murderer" trope on Lovers Lane. Dorky college dudes trying to get into an incredibly d-baggy frat (in my old age, 1980's frat dudes are just absolutely delightful). And references. So many references.
Friday, October 4, 2019
Watched: 09/01/2019, 09/02/2019
Format: Amazon Streaming/ DVD
Ryan and SimonUK bite into two vampire movies with two very different takes, both landing in the go-go Mid-80's! One is a cult classic for horror fans, about horror fans! The other, a less known film starring artist Grace Jones as an exotic nosferatu. We take a look at what works and what sucks as these films return from the dead to give us a thrill and a chill!
Fright Night - J. Geils Band, Fright Night OST
Vamp Theme/ Seduction Surrender Longing Fix - Grace Jones, Vamp OST
Sunday, September 29, 2019
PODCAST - Halloween Watch: "An American Werewolf in London" (1981)/ "Ginger Snaps" (2000) w/ SimonUK and Ryan
Format: BluRay/ DVD
Viewing: unknown/ First
Decade: 1980's/ 2000's
It's Halloween 2019! SimonUK and Ryan kick off the spooky season with a pair of scare-tacular films about coming to grips with change. And, of course, discovering you're now kinda undead and become a blood-thirsty kill-machine when the moon is particular round. We talk new-classic An American Werewolf in London (1981) and horror-icon-contender Ginger Snaps (2000).
The Haunting Main Theme - Henry Searle
An American Werewolf in London Suite - Elmer Bernstein, An American Werewolf in London OST
Bad Moon Rising - CCR, man, Green River
Halloween 2019 Playlist
Last Year's Halloween episodes:
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
I sometimes listen to the How Did This Get Made? podcast, but usually only to episodes featuring movies I've seen. And it may be a testament to my poor choice in movie viewing that I've seen about 2/3rds of the movies the show covers. But, I had not seen Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987), which they covered with very special guest stars, Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron.
I'm not sure I share their unbridled enthusiasm for the movie, but as a post-Carrie, post Nightmare on Elm Street, mid-horro-budget Canadian horror film - I could see the charm in the movie.
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Format: TCM on DVR
There are a whole bunch of movies that are not the same movie that I thought were the same movie that came out between 1980 and 1987, that all have sort of meaningless names, and I thought were the same movie. Brainstorm (1983) is one of these movies.
The thing is, I'm not even sure what is what, but these movies all had pictures of people wearing headgear or having lasers pointed at their brains and often had to do with virtual realities, walking around in people's dreams, stuff like that. I guess. All I know is that, from this pile, I had never seen Brainstorm despite very much remembering the box collecting dust at Video Station and Video III when I was a kid.
Monday, September 9, 2019
Viewing: Oh, gosh...
We turned to our wife of more than 19 years and realized we were heading into tricky territory as we asked "What is Love?" Fortunately, she came back with "Star Wars". Join Jamie and me as we use The Force and talk what was maybe the first great movie romance a lot of us clicked to: Leia, Han, a broken down ship and some mynochs to keep it interesting.
Han Solo and The Princess (Love Theme) - John Williams, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back OST
Han & Leia Suite (Theme) - John Williams, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back OST
"What is Love?" Podcast Series
And, snowsuit Leia
Thursday, September 5, 2019
As was noted today by Post-Punk (srsly, follow these people), and our own JimD (follow Jim, too, he could use the emotional support), today is the 31st anniversary of the release of Peepshow, the 9th album by Siouxsie and The Banshees.
Peepshow was one of those albums that, as the kids would say, got me through high school.* While I liked the single of Peek-a-Boo when it debuted on MTV, I didn't actually buy the full album til the following year. In practical terms, I listened to this album over and over, nurtured a fanboy crush on front woman Siouxsie Sioux, and felt things deeply while listening to said album on tape, which I was in danger of wearing out when I got my first CD player.
I tend to think of Peepshow as a very complete album. It's more than a smattering of songs from a band, and it's not just that every song is single-worthy, or so I believe, but that the band found a flow to the songs that takes you from point to point. It isn't a "concept album" nor does it tell a story, really, but it just clicks, track after track. And, mostly, makes me miss the thing where you just lie on your bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to a record.
Here's to Peepshow, the first sexy depressing album with a dollop of S&M and pop fun that got me to hang posters of a woman on my wall that I know my mother did not approve of at all.
I did see Siouxsie and The Banshees in 1991 at the first Lollapalooza in Dallas, TX when they toured in support of Superstition, which also had some great singles. And, yeah, they were pretty great despite the fact it was 98 degrees when they hit the stage.
*one day I suppose we should tackle this notion of "got me through high school" on the podcast with Maxwell and MRSHL.
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: No idea. Must be a dozen
My claim to fame is that I saw this movie twice in the theater. Once - because it was summer, Weird Al had a movie, and it was mid-afternoon. The second time I caught it was the day before I started high school, kicking off the tradition I kept up through college where you got and see a movie the day before the school year starts so you're thinking about something else.
You've either seen UHF (1989) or you haven't. Starring "Weird Al" Yankovic, already quite famous by 1989 thanks to several hit novelty records and MTV airplay, the movie is basically a bunch of music videos and really funny sketches tied together with a razor-thin plot about running a broke, non-network TV station on the edge of town. It's an underdog story about big corporate stations being run by mean people vs. underdogs who break the mold and come out on top thanks to creativity and a sense of community. Or something.
It's also a reminder of how much weird comedy could get in the 1980's, with skits like Gandhi II and Spatula City, and that firing a firehose into a kid's face can be hilarious in the right circumstances.
The cast is weirdly impressive when you realize it features both Michael Richards and Fran Drescher just before they broke big just a few years later, but also Emo Philips, Billy Barty, David Bowe, Victoria Jackson, Gedde Watanabe, David Proval and a handful of "oh, that guy!" actors. And, of course, in a stunning coup of casting brilliance - Kevin McCarthy as the evil network affiliate owner and operator.
I dunno. There isn't much to say about the film. It's still fun, even when you know not everything aged well or fallen out of relevance. But a lot of it still has that magic (ex: Conan the Librarian continues to work all too well).
And I genuinely like some of the gags, like the homeless guy asking for change to break a dollar. Just gold.
Anyhow- for some early Michael Richards genius and pre-Nanny Fran Drescher, you can do way worse. And Weird Al is just funny as all hell in this thing.
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Format: Criterion Channel
Originally, I'd put this film on as I've pondered doing my own episode of "What is Love?" for the PodCast, but - like others who took on the task - I am also faced with the dilemma of a stable relationship of many years. I like movies that include or which are about people finding each other in this mixed up world, but it's almost like a High School movie to me - I have been there. I have done that. I am now elsewhere.
Wings of Desire (1987) is part of a movement of film that we called "Art House" back in the day, and which I am afraid is fading out. A film like this, today, would get festival accolades, play about twenty theaters in the US for a couple of weeks and then vanish, popping up on Netflix with zero fanfare and a description which did the casual browser a disservice.