Showing posts with label interaction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label interaction. Show all posts

Friday, November 27, 2020

Friday Amazon Watch Party: Working Girl

 



Day:  11/27/2020
Time:  8:30 Central


My memory of this movie is that it's about a highly competent Sigourney Weaver who gets into an accident and her secretary schemes against her in her absence.  It's a tragedy of sorts.  Melanie Griffith, the secretary, even manages to woo away her supervisor's love interest, Harrison Ford.  

Anyway - we're watching it.  FRIDAY.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Masters of the Universe (1987)




Watched: 11/20/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Gary Goddard

I should start by saying:  I didn't ever really like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe as toyline, cartoon, what-have-you.  Maybe because a lot of the material behind the franchise is simply bad.  The Filmation cartoon was goofily animated and the voice actors always sounded like they were recording out of context and in a well-tiled bathroom.  It featured a handful of wildly annoying characters and artists who really wanted to work in a few rotoscoped shots as often as possible.  (I will say - it DID blend American comic book style art very well, and should have shown Marvel how to do this instead of what they did in the 1990's.)  But mostly, He-Man was a lot of nonsense to sell toys, and that's great.  I support that idea.  I just wasn't into their particular gumbo of elements that made up their cartoon and toys (and found the original line of toys frankly grotesque, and not in a fun way).

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday Watch Party: Masters of the Universe (1987)


Day:  Friday 11/20/2020
Time:  8:30 PM Central


So, this movie kinda took down Cannon Films.  It's an adaptation of a popular toy line and cartoon, and decided to appeal to no one by changing the location, characters and looks of the characters.  But it does feature an early appearance of Courtney Cox and a "is this stardom?" era Dolph Lundgren, and a Frank Langella having the time of his life.

The movie is garbage, but it does have Meg Foster as evil enchantress/ excellent-eyes-haver Evil Lyn.  And that ain't all bad.


Next week - if it's still on Prime - we're doing Working Girl.  I'll be rooting for Sigourney Weaver.
 



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Interaction Watch: For a Few Dollars More (1965)




Watched: 11/10/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown.  Probably fourth or fifth
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Sergio Leone

It had been maybe 15 years since I last watched For a Few Dollars More (1965), the second in the Man With No Name trilogy, which catapulted Clint Eastwood to stardom, made Leone an unlikely star director, and gave me some movies to be blown away by in my last teens/ early 20's.  

It's an interesting bridge between the solo adventure of a Fistful of Dollars, which is also maybe a bit rougher from a technical standpoint, and the groundbreaking filmmaking that would come with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and explode into masterpiece filmmaking with Once Upon a Time in the West.  

I may like Leone's work.  Sue me.

The film isn't *that* different to characters and bears from A Fistful of Dollars, but it does insert Lee Van Cleef as the variable in the experiment, and to great effect.  It's not hard to track how Leone went from this film to the three character structure of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in the next film, giving chances for shifting alliances based on the character's self interests and motivations.  Flashbacks in this film presage similar from the finale from OUATITW.  

It's a gorgeous film, and the pacing and characters are happily breaking the conventions of Westerns of the prior 60 years of film, pointing the way for what we would come to expect from an American action film.  To the point that, with no knowledge of film history, what people coming to this movie for the first time would even think.  But this is 1965 - we're barely two steps from Hopalong Cassidy, chronologically.  

If you think you don't like westerns (a statement I think just basically means: I don't like movies about people without cars, as "western" is a nonsense category of a movie), give the Man With No Name Trilogy a shot.  It's amazing stuff.  

Monday, November 16, 2020

Interaction watch - RoboCop (1987)




Watched:  11/03/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  let's not talk about it
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Paul Verhoeven

I think we'll be podcasting this at some point in 2021, so we're gonna take a pass on writing it up.

But it was fun to watch as a Prime Party, as some hadn't seen it or hadn't seen it in a while.

Watch Party Watch: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974)




Watched:  11/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  third
Decade:  1970's (and sooooo 1970's)
Director:  Joseph Sargent

I saw this one the first time at the Paramount with absolutely zero context.  Back in the day, I'd just show up for whatever was showing during the Summer classics series, and it's how I first saw some of my "new favorite" films since college.  Third Man.  Sunset Boulevard.  and a host of others.  

And, yeah, I really like The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974).  It's a tidy caper movie, sharing screen time between the heisters and the heisted, but with no set up - just the execution.  So, when four guys take a subway car hostage on a weekday afternoon in New York, it makes no sense to the guys running the subway - blue collar schlubs whose jobs it is to literally make the trains run on time - and it takes a minute they don't have to figure out what the hell is going on.  Let alone - how the baddies think they're going to get away with it (they're trapped in a tunnel, too).  

The gang is a classic heist gang.  The master mind.  The wild card.  The dutiful sergeant.  The guy who is there as the inside man.  But part of what makes the movie is that the guys on the other side of the mic aren't hostage negotiators - they're public employees suddenly in a very weird position, running communications from the heisters all the way to the Mayor.  And, of course, they're a bunch of 1970's New Yorkers.  

As the world I live in is project and operational management, I get a kick out of heist films.   The heist = a project - and the plan for the heist, accounting for everything that can occur and keeping your stakeholders managed sure feels familiar.    The opposite side is operations, which are interrupted by the interference of the heist.  And - man, as I am wont to say - people are terrible in a crisis.

One detail I like about the film is that no one is working in synch on the MTA or government side.  From the mayor dithering and worrying about votes to the internal disagreement in the subway tracking office where Matthau is trying to keep things in hand.  I assure you, there's almost always someone in a crisis who is more bent out of shape that they can't do their usual job than aware of the actual unfolding situation than makes rational sense.

The movie was released in '74, so the occupants of the jobs likely have been sitting in that office since the late 1950's.  There's a casual racism and sexism pervading the scene and characters, and the film does comment on it - albeit not in the way we're used to in 2020.  Brace yourself for some stereotypes (especially among the hostages) and among the main cast.  It's a movie about an imperfect world that has to suddenly deal with the unknown.  

It's a tight film - the run time almost occurs in about half of real-time.  We don't worry too much about the home lives of the characters, and we don't even really know the motivations or what led up to the heist.  But what we do get is a wild mix of talent in the film which makes it work.  Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Jerry Stiller, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Doris Roberts, Julius Harris, Kenneth McMillan, and a bunch of other faces you'll recognize (I finally identified Robert Weil as also appearing in Hudsucker Proxy after it's bugged me every time I've watched this movie previously).   

Anyway, worth your time some time.


Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday Watch Party: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3


Day:  Friday - 11/13/2020
Time:  8:30 Central


An outstanding cast!  New York in the 1970's!  Subways!

Personally, I think this is a heck of a movie, so we're not throwing something goofy at you.  


Monday, November 9, 2020

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Escape From New York (1981)

 


Watched:  11/06/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  John Carpenter

I'm not writing this up.  If you've not seen it, you're all the poorer for it - but it's a fine but of early 80's cinema.  And, of course, established Kurt Russell as a non-Disney star.



Friday, November 6, 2020

FRIDAY WATCH PARTY: Escape From New York

 


Sooooooo...  I had two weeks worth of plans, maybe three, for our Friday viewings.  But someone pulled their catalog off of Amazon Prime as near as I can tell.  So, no Pump Up the Volume or Short Circuit for us.  I'm in a bit of a panic, so I'm reaching for a personal favorite since it was pointed out it was on here by Jenifer.  

  • Day:  11/06/2020
  • Time:  8:30 Central
  • Where:  Amazon Prime Watch Party
LINK HERE, Y'ALL

It's a post-apocalyptic future of 1997, and America is perpetually at war.  New York has been turned into one big penal colony, and Air Force 1 just went down nearby.  The President's escape pod has fallen into the middle of NYC, containing the President and a recording which will bring an end to conflict. 

The Feds happen to have just laid their hands on one of the toughest criminals to ever walk on American soil:  Kurt Russell with an eyepatch.

Now, Kurt Russell with an eyepatch needs to enter NYC, retrieve the package, and make it back out before the bomb in his neck explodes.  And he's gonna need Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Barbeau (which I think we can all say).  

Written by John Carpenter! Directed by Carpenter!  Music by Carpenter!  


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Watch Party Watch: House on Haunted Hill (1959)




Watched:  10/30/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1950's
Director:  William Castle

We were trying to find an ideal movie to prep friends for Halloween, and I think a William Castle spooktacular starring Vincent Price is a pretty good option.  

House on Haunted Hill (1959) is a classic in part because it's an examplar of Castle's interactive theatrical experiences (I believe during this movie, he released a skeleton over the audience on wires) and because it seems to be in the public domain.  But, I dunno, I kind of like it.  It's cheesy, it's giddily malicious, and it makes no sense unless you say "I guess maybe the house WAS haunted?"

Anyway - it's not high art, and doesn't have quite enough spooky scenes, but it's still a fun one.



Saturday, October 31, 2020

Interactive Watch: The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)

 


Watched:  10/27/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Edward L. Cahn


I had never heard of The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959) before this week.  But it was Jenifer's selection for the Tuesday watch-along party, Halloween appropriate, and had a wacky premise.  And that premise was: what if someone read an article on head-shrinking in National Geographic?  

A family somewhere in America full of the last vestiges of Victorian gentlemen scientists/ explorers had once gone to South America, gotten killed and brought a curse down upon the Drake family.  Now, the brother of Jonathan Drake has been murdered/ decapitated, and a skull has mysteriously appeared in the family crypt.  

But a lot of heads have gone missing in the Drake family over the years, and skulls keep appearing in a handy skull-accommodating curio cabinet they've got.  

Well, turns out there's an evil scientist who seems to have it in for the Drakes (the last of which is a young woman with a solid profile), and there's a spooky guy dressed in some sort of clearly supposed to be "native" garb that looks like a track suit who has his lips sewn shut running around poking people with a stick dipped in poison, which is a real dick move.  

A cop gets involved and is cranky, but decides magic makes as much sense as anything else.

Look, these days it's hard to do a story where "evil" is based on anything coming from a place other than WASP-based culture without getting the twitter cops on you.  I get it - this movie is xenophobic at minimum, exploitative at best, and has the weirdest opposite of "brown face" you're gonna see in a movie.  I do think that it's okay to have *some* aspect of mystery out there in the world and that it's possibly not a reason to go into hysterics re: the movie's racism.  This is not the movies to champion that idea, but it's possible.

As a straight horror movie, it actually has a nice, pulpy set-up, and I can see this in a horror comic or the like, as much as on the screen.  It sticks to *some* tropes, like the big, strong American cop plowing ahead through the film's action, but it also has so much to set up with the premise, it still has a bit of novelty.  Mostly, it really, really leans into using a few key real-world terms and indigenous words and no one sounds natural using them.

Much discussion was had about the stiff acting of Valerie French in this film, but I think (a) she wasn't given much to do and this was probably shot in a week, and (b) she's doing something approximating an American accent over her London accent, and it's clearly a struggle.  She might have been happier in a Hammer Horror during this window.



Friday, October 30, 2020

Friday Amazon Watch Party: House on Haunted Hill


Day:  October 30th, 2020
Time:  8:30 Central



One part Vincent Price, one part William Castle, and a dash of Elisha Cook Jr.!  It's a house!  It's on a hill!  And maybe, just maybe, it's HAUNTED.  

A favorite of MST3K, Elvira, and inexpensive UHF Halloween-time programming, Vincent Price is caught in a bad romance with a cranky blonde.  For her birthday, he's rented a house with a reputation as a site of murder and, more recently, GHOSTS.  Like, angry ghosts!  

Price has invited several strangers, each in need of some quick cash.  If they can survive the night, they get a sack of dough.

As a welcome gift, each of the guests receive a gun.

Anyway - it's a kooky, campy good time, with Price being all dapper in a well-cut suit.  There's some good jump scares, crazy ideas and Elisha Cook freaking the @#$% out.  Skeletons.  Old ladies making faces.

It's a whole scene.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The House That Dripped Blood (1971)




Watched:  10/23/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Peter Duffell

Really, an excuse for me to watch an Ingrid Pitt movie, I subjected friends to The House That Dripped Blood (1971), a horror anthology starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliot and, of course, Ingrid Pitt, all in different sequences.  

The budget is modest, but it does have a sort of fun "let's tell spooky stories over the campfire" vibe to it, with four episodes of horror, all in complete different genres.  One - a writer conjures the villain from his book to life.  Two - a retired actor stumbles upon a wax figurine in a wax works in the village that reminds him of a woman with whom he failed to kindle a relationship, and he becomes obsessed.  Third - a man moves into the house with his young daughter, who may be a bit too much like her deceased mother.  Fourth - a horror movie star and his much younger girlfriend/ co-star move into the house while he also secures a cape that may really, really get him into the role of a vampire.

It is a silly movie, in many ways, but a darn good one for the Halloween season.  


Friday, October 23, 2020

FRIDAY: Amazon Watch Party - "The House That Dripped Blood" (1970) - an anthology of FRIGHTS

 


Day:  10/23/2020
Time:  8:30 PM Central



We've been threatening y'all with this movie for a while now, and it's time to deliver.

No other genre does the "anthology" quite the way horror film embraces the concept.  The House That Dripped Blood is a collection of short stories all around a single house in the suburbs that contains TERROR in many forms and guises.

The movie has some big names in it - Cushing, Lee, Denholm Elliot.  But it also gives me a chance to share the great Ingrid Pitt with you people.

I know this doesn't LOOK scary, but this IS a scene from the movie.  And that is Ms. Pitt.



It's not Hammer - it's their poor relation, Amicus Productions.  But it's still a perfect bit of horror for a night as we head toward Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Slighty Scarlet (1956)




Watched:  10/20/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Allan Dwan - Director of Photography:  John Alton

This week's Tuesday selection by Jenifer was Slightly Scarlet (1956), an RKO noir picture that seemed to have all the hallmarks of an RKO crime picture, and - starring the late Rhonda Fleming - was released in technicolor.  Jenifer no doubt selected the film because Fleming passed just last week on the 14th, and it seemed like a good way to remember the red-head bombshell, known as "Queen of Technicolor".*

Shot by John Alton, one of the now-most-famous noir DP's, it's wild to see a noir of this period in color, and one that was still being lit like all we were working with was gray tone and black and white.  Even if the story of the film doesn't grab you, it's interesting enough just to see how the rules for how these movies would be shot that had been brewing for a decade works and doesn't work once your subjects are in living color.

The story is James M. Cain, who gave us Mildred Pierce and The Postman Always Rings Twice, so you know it's family melodrama mixed with MURDER.

Fleming plays a career-gal who has just landed the next mayor of her California coastal city (the fictional Bay City) as her beau.  She's picking up her sister from jail, a troubled young woman with a bent psyche.  But along comes John Payne - an educated fellow playing dirty in the rackets and has an eye on the Big Man's chair (Ted De Corsia).  

Payne romances Fleming, the sister - who becomes increasingly unhinged out of her prison environs - decides she wants her some John Payne, and city politics mix with mob corruption.

All in all, a tight noir plot.  Aside from color, the stand-out difference is really Arlene Dahl's portrayal of the troubled sister, who would be winding up in a Mental Health Court these days, and how treatment and support of family (even as Dahl is blaming Fleming for her state) is everything.  It does lean into "there's a specific event that caused this" psychology of the time, at least as far as movies are concerned - and it is lifted wholesale from 1946's The Locket - but it's still an interesting twist to not just write off the sister as twisted or evil.

Also - a harpoon gun is deployed!

I think I did a phenomenal job of not acting like a Tex Avery wolf cartoon when Fleming was on screen - and the movie (in classic RKO noir fashion) - was certainly going for production value.  I can't tell if this was part of the Howard Hughes era of the studio - certainly it has the feel of something he would have had his hands on, from Fleming's wardrobe, to Arlene Dahl's personal line of negligee playing a featured role, and fight scenes that feel a little bone-crunchy.  My suspicion is: yes.  But I'm not sure when Hughes' grip on RKO slipped, and it would have been around this period.  But, man, that poster looks like something Hughes would have insisted on.



*it's hard to say the impact red-heads had on Technicolor and it had on red-heads.  I know Maureen O'Hara was also considered a highlight of Technicolor film.  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)




Watched:  10/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's (and how!)
Director:   Robert Gaffney

Jenifer picked this particular gem for our Tuesday screening, and it was a g-d delight.  

For reasons that are never explained, NASA creates a sort of synthetic man they want to launch into space in place of an astronaut (we are all fine with automation in our space probes, and I'm not sure why the ruse is necessary).  He doesn't actually work very well, but they go ahead with the plan.

Meanwhile, aliens from a distant world that has experienced a wave of self-destruction via nuclear exchange have come to Earth in a space ship roughly the size of a small house, with plans to steal our women - because they have none.  Except for their leader, a sort of imperious-but-fun Space Queen (Marilyn Hanold) in a heck of a pant-suit and head dress.  


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Amazon Watch Party: How to Make a Monster (1958)




Watched:  10/06/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director: Herbert L. Strock

How to Make a Monster (1958) turned out to be a surprisingly watchable bit of borrowed-thunder schlock from American International Pictures, an indie studio that knew Universal couldn't copyright wolf men or frankensteins and really focused on the hep teens as an audience.  You know they loved the kids because a character, just at the far end of middle-age, literally monologues for a minute about how great "teens" are, just sort of out of the blue.

On the heels of I Was a Teenage Werewolf (an early Michael Landon film) and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, I guess AIP decided to do some metacommentary and, thus, How to Make a Monster is about how monster pictures are no longer the cool thing, daddio, so our aging movie-monster specialist is told that after this last movie, he's being cut loose.  See, new producers just bought the studio and they basically want to make singing and dancing pictures (a real eye for the future, these guys).  

The make-up specialist has figured out that a formula he's been working on for make-up application has a hypnotic quality, and he uses it to get the teens he's so fond of to start murdering the interloping new bosses.

There's plenty of 1950's B-movie hijinks, some deeply questionable decisions, and a seemingly stable make-up artist who has a whole different scene going on in his private life than you'd have guessed.

I am unsure if the movie is trying to comment upon the career of Jack Pierce, famous for the creation of Frankenstein's monster, the Wolf Man, the Mummy and others - who was ousted in 1946 from Universal.*  After all, the movie is about a make-up artist who created wolfman and Frankenstein monsters and who is let go as new studio brass comes in and wants a change in tone for the studio.

Jack Pierce didn't go on to murder anyone that I know of, nor was he a master of mind-control, and finished his days working on Mr. Ed.  It's really been the rise of the Rick Baker's of the world who discussed Pierce that means he's discussed today among make-up nerds.

It is not clear why the villain needs to put on full make-ups in order to get his minions to kill people, or why he puts recognizable make-ups on them, but the effect is something else as the poor kids run around strangling business guys just going about their own business.  Nor is it clear why the make-up man doesn't clear out to give himself a better alibi, rather than waiting around while the murders happen.  

But, all in all, a cheery little horror movie that abruptly goes into color in the final reel, making for a jolting effect that feels almost surreal.




*there's a whole weird chapter of Hollywood make-up history that includes a near mafia-like relationship between the Westmore family and all of the studios.  The Westmores basically took over make-up across LA in the 40's and 50's, and were jealously protective of their reputation.  In some ways, the relationship continues to this day with SyFy's Face Off monster movie make-up contest - a product of the Westmore family.  Some of this, I believe, is covered in the recent Lady From the Black Lagoon book, which describes the sidelining of Millicent Patrick as a designer for the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The Corpse Grinders (1971) - a Jenifer Birthday Party Extravaganza

 


This weekend is Jenifer's birthday, and she had suggested we pick this one for our Friday night watch party.  I've never seen it, and you probably haven't, either.  But we're gonna watch it.  Let's find out about corpses and the people who grind them TOGETHER.

  • Day:  10/09/2020
  • Time:  8:30 PM Central time

AMAZON LINK - Right here, Doug


behold: the trailer!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

FRIDAY WATCH PARTY: Vampire Circus (1972)

 



Day:  10/02/2020
Time:  8:30 Central



This movie was recommended to me by the great JAL and is absolutely bananas.  

Several years after villagers have killed a local vampire, a plague has descended upon the town.  Ain't nobody happy.  But then a circus arrives - a circus that may not be all that it seems....

Vampires.  It's chock full of vampires.  

SEXY vampires.

Anyway - things get downright weird.  And nothing can prepare you for the sexy snake dance.