Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Format: Watch Party
Director: Arthur Hilton
This is a very, very silly movie, but it stars Marie Windsor, so it can't be all wrong.
They aren't women who are cats, they are women in cat suits. Cat women. You know.
Sunday, August 23, 2020
Format: TCM Underground
Director: Ken Kwapis
Ostensibly movies are there to be a popular entertainment enjoyed by many people, which will earn the filmmakers, collaborators and investors some money.
I am reminded of the comedian Amber Ruffin and her series, Amber Says Why?
Who was Vibes made for, and why did they think people would enjoy it? Why? Was it made on a dare? And if it was a dare, who was daring whom? And was this the winner or loser of that dare? Why did they choose to make this, and what is the this that they made? Is it a comedy, and if so, what part of it is funny? How did they get to the point where they had a camera and a set and people there to make the movie, and how did they think this was a good script? And if they thought it was good, why did they think it was good? Did they want to make money or did they hate money and try not to earn it, and if they thought it would make money, who did they think would pay for watching this movie? Why did Jeff Goldblum chose to do this movie? And did he know he'd be cast with Cindy Lauper? Did they cast them because he is tall and she is short? Why did they think psychics and Ecuador were a good fit? And why did they go to Ecaudor for real and a soundstage other times with terrible props? Was that Elizabeth Pena? Why was she in the movie for five minutes?
First - I always thought this was a Manhattan-based comedy about psychics running a scam with other psychics. Second - this is like a no-budget version of Romancing the Stone but furious at the idea you should like the leads. Third - wow, clearly Lauper and Goldblum had absolutely no chemistry. And - Fourth - what could have maybe partially redeemed the film with FX and character moments in the end is just a plastic prop that must have looked so bad they avoid showing it, and Cyndi Lauper telling us something that happened off screen.
But, I am still mostly mad this had Elizabeth Pena and then immediately took her away. Like, what is wrong with you, movie?
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: Roger Vadim
I've never actually *liked* Barbarella (1968), and watching it a third time did nothing to improve that opinion. Even back in high school when the hint of boob was a welcome thing, I thought the movie was so clunky (and not in a fun way) I turned it off.
As a grown-assed watcher, it's a slog. I am sure a certain kind of 1960's beatnik probably liked it, but I am not one of those beatniks. For a movie that prides itself on sexiness, it's attempts at sexiness are so awkward, it's deeply unsexy and boring to boot.
Visually, though? - it's astounding, so I recommend putting it on mute and playing it on your TV during a party.
Sunday, August 16, 2020
Director: Richard Franklin
So, I was scanning the sale items on the Kino Lorber page and was like "Kim Cattrall in a spy movie?" so I read the description and was like "Kim Cattrall as a CYBORG in a spy movie?" And promptly hit "buy".*
I think this was intended to be a pilot for a very 1990's TV show, probably in syndication. What's weird about it is that all the pieces are there for what could have been a serviceable stand-alone movie. In 1993, stars Kim Cattrall and Billy Zane weren't huge stars, but I knew who they were. The director, Richard Franklin, had handled a couple of mid to low-cost films I'd similarly seen - FX/2 and Cloak and Dagger. This came out in the wake of La Femme Nikita and multiple RoboCop films. Instead, it's a reminder of what telefilm and a lot of television looked at during a certain window, and that sci-fi was not always well-served by this sort of production.
Cattrall plays Delilah, an undercover agent for a US law-enforcement agency (I never caught who), , collecting evidence against a Greek arms dealer (who seems to really want to see her eat Greek food for some reason). Her handler, who is "running" her, is played by Billy Zane. And the two spend about 7x more time talking about the fact they aren't going to bonetown than they do the case at hand.
Delilah is found out and the baddies take a flying attempt at killing her with lots of bullets. Zane retrieves the almost-dead agent, and because he loves her (but phrases it as wanting to go to bonetown, because 90's), does as you do and brings her to a French cybernetics guy who happens to work in his building. There's a bit where she, of course, believes she's a monster. Remarkably, she gets over it really fast when she finds out she's now the Bionic Woman and can do all kinds of things within budget. This is one chipper cyborg!
Monday, August 10, 2020
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Format: Criterion BluRay
Director: Byron Haskin
War of the Worlds (1953) the movie and the Mercury Theatre radio play from 1938 are so baked into my formative years, they're alongside Superman, King Kong, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and other popular fictions that make up the mythology and common language for a lot of born in the shadow of the mid-20th Century.
I saw the movie after buying and listening to the Orson Welles radio program when my dad found out I was interested in the radio show and the events surrounding it that I'd read about in a magazine. My dad, always one to say "if you liked that, you need to check out this", got me to the video store within a few days and we sat down and watched it together.
What's remarkable is how genuinely *thrilled* I was by the movie, in both senses of the word. The movie only has one or two quasi-jump scares, but - as was the novel (which I finally read about 15 years ago) and the radio show - the movie is so relentless in putting all of Earth on its heels, from the moment the three pals approach the ship waving a white flag onto get atomized, it's some weird viewing. There's no brilliant but dangerous plan to be enacted that defeats the aliens - humanity loses this one.
As I've pitched the movie - in the middle of a pandemic, it's a lovely reminder of the time germs were our friends.
Lovingly restored by Paramount and just released by Criterion, War of the Worlds is a movie geek's dream. There's so many technical aspects to the movie worth discussing, from the original three-strip technicolor to the construction of the Martian crafts, to the myriad visual effects, matte paintings and absolutely perfect sound effects - an army of character actors, and two leads who've somewhat otherwise fallen through the cracks of film nostalgia - it's an amazing technical achievement, done so well it holds up as a visual masterpiece. And, in fact, with this restoration, is just an astonishingly crafted, visually beautiful film.
If the last time you've seen the movie was from the 2005 re-release, run (don't walk!) to watch this version, which recovers the original color palette employed in almost punchy candy colors, restores the visual effects to maximum effectiveness, and has cleaned up audio and re-created sound effects by no less than Ben Burtt.
The movie features the typically generous collection of extra features that get me to pay the entry fee for Criterion discs. There are a few documentaries, the 1938 radio drama, an interview from San Antonio's KTSA with Orson Welles and HG Wells, and more.
The movie itself is just as gripping as ever. From small town America to the final scenes in the fall of Los Angeles, it's anchored by focal characters Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) - a scientist and professor of Library Science, who happened to be there when one of the initial craft came down and are there throughout. And, of course, there's a romance a-bloomin' between the two. Through Barry and Robinson, we get the realization of the horror of the situation, but the still very human need for connection in the darkest hour. A parable for any time, really.
If you've never seen the movie - now is the time! This restoration is utterly remarkable. If you have seen it but it's been a while - do it for the same reason and to remind yourself of one of the md-20th Century's finest technical filmic achievements, and to get all the bonus materials from Criterion.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Paul Verhoeven
More ways to listen - choose a podcast format
We get our respective asses to Mars and talk Arnie's big-budget sci-fi opus, "Total Recall". Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy? Simon and Ryan dig into this 1990 fan favorite full of rad ideas, great sets and design, a terrific cast and a pace that's hard to beat. From the director of "RoboCop" and Sharon Stone's star turn! Open your minds and join us!
Total Recall Main Theme - Jerry Goldsmith
SimonUK Cinema Series
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Richard E. Cunha
Oh. Oh my.
Well. So. I dunno, you guys.
I mean, "Oliver" Frankenstein just doesn't sound right. And I don't know why he was turning the pretty young lady he was living with into a monster in the evening with a potion he kept passing off as fruit punch. I was never clear what was going on with the girl's uncle and what he was science-ing upon. But we do run over a kind of catty young lady and she gets turned into a shambling monster.
Anyway. There's a backyard cookout with a band and a very long musical interlude.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: John McTiernan
For more ways to listen, visit the link.
Arnie-Fest continues as Simon and Ryan get to da choppa and do not camouflage their adoration of this 1980's sci-fi actioner staple. We talk about the cross-genre bending of the film, the changes to action in this era, Bill Duke, exult the acting skills of Arnold, and generally have a grand old time talking about what is maybe one of the best remembered movies of the second half of the 80's - and with darn good reason.
Predator Main Theme - Alan Silvestri
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Watched: I actually am not sure. Roughly 05/05/2020
Director: Ron Howard
I don't remember seeing Cocoon (1985) after about 1989 or so, but it was a surprise how much of the movie stayed with me on a rewatch. It's also amazing to think that this sort of thing, which was a huge hit when it came out, would now be pitched as a stunt or aimed only at the Boomer crowd (and would certainly be derided as a fantasy meant to hurt Millennials somehow).
Monday, May 11, 2020
Director: Boris Sagal
More Ways To Listen
We're in quarantine, and there's one sci-fi movie that's been on our minds. Join us as we talk about being the last man on Earth! At least the last sane man on Earth. Except for those other people out there living in the 'burbs. Anyway, it'd be nice to just drive cars off the lot without having to haggle.
The Omega Man Theme - Ron Grainer
Saturday, May 2, 2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Jimmy T. Murakami, Roger Corman
I dunno, man. It's Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). It's a not-great sci-fi movie that hasn't aged particularly well.
Mostly I had fun watching it with a whole bunch of folks on the twitters! Thanks for showing up, every buddy!
One day we'll understand why that ship has a rack/ looks like a diagram of the female reproductive system.
Thursday, April 30, 2020
On Friday night, join us for a live-tweet-a-long as we watch Battle Beyond the Stars, a movie I was led out of, totally freaked out, when I was five.
It is in no way scary. I was a sensitive kid.
Watch at: Amazon Streaming or other popular streaming sites
Day: Friday, May 1st, 2020
Time: 8:30 PM Central
We're going to start when I say GO on twitter.
Get queued up to about the 3 second mark on the movie. Pause and wait on this image til you get the signal:
|it is really hard to get a screengrab of an Amazon Prime video. I am not spending time learning how to do it. Your reflection may vary.|
Then get ready to behold what happens when a small studios sees Star Wars, wants in on that money and decides "it's a western in space". Then proceeds to rip-off a very specific, very famous western/ samurai movie.
But this movie has B-movie Queen Sybil Danning as a Space Valkyrie with the rad-as-hell mid-80's new-romantic band name of "St. Exmin".
|I'm gonna fight on *her* team|
Also stars George Peppard as the embodiment of my spirit, Robert Vaughn as Robert Vaughn In Space, John Fuckin' Saxon!, Sam Jaffe and the guy who played John Boy on The Waltons, Richard Thomas, officially killing his chances at making it to the big screen. It also has a spaceship that, if memory serves, is trying to be both mother and lover to John Boy.
So, 8:30 PM Central time on Friday! 3 seconds in at that image above!
Monday, April 20, 2020
Format: Amazon Prime Streaming
Decade: Italian 1970's
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Bunch of chuckleheads got together on Friday evening for a live-tweeting of Starcrash, the finest Italian-produced 1978 sci-fi film featuring a cowboy robot that I've ever heard of.
And I will defend Stella Star's fashion choices with my last, dying breath.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
Watched: 04/06 and 04/07/2020
Format: Amazon Streaming
Viewing: Third? Second?
Director: David Carson/ Jonathan Frakes
I still remember walking out of Star Trek: Generations (1994) and roughly saying "what the @#$% was that?"
A cheap looking movie with a singularly ridiculous end for one of my childhood fictional heroes, and a ludicrous A plot that went nowhere, meshed with a B plot that only Data got to experience. It genuinely just felt like a very expensive episode or three of the series that spawned it - but not even a particularly brilliant episode or arc.
Sunday, March 8, 2020
I am not a "Trekker" like I'd consider some of my friends. I do not have a tattoo of the Enterprise on my forearm (hi, Stuart). I do not know the names of episodes as chapter and verse. I mostly only watched Star Trek (the Original Series) and Star Trek: The Next Generation. And I quite liked both.
Y'all can go to bat for DS9, Voyager and Enterprise. I'm aware they all have their plusses, but I didn't really watch them. And I honestly mostly watched ST:TNG out of order in syndication after season 4 wrapped up (why our local channel showed them out of order when I was in college, I will never know, but I generally knew what season it was by which uniform they were wearing).
When Picard was coming on, I realized it'd been a while since I spent much time with ST:TNG. In theory, I liked the show, and I'd watched bits here and there on BBC America during lunchbreaks when I worked from home, but I was genuinely not sure the show held up. Further, I wasn't ready to wade through 22+ episodes per season of 7 seasons of TV (plus a few movies) to catch up and be ready for Picard.
Thus, I turned to Stuart, who gave me the following watch list:
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Format: Criterion BluRay
It was a miracle I even got out of this five hour movie alive.
Way, way back in the 1990's, I saw this movie the first time - I believe - between my junior and senior year of high school. My vague memory of the film was that it was known for two things - it was a movie directed by the same guy who did Wings of Desire (which I'd never seen), and for the soundtrack full of musicians both huge and indie (back when that meant something in particular). Ads appeared in Spin and/ or Rolling Stone for the OST, which read as a mixtape from a pal with particular but good taste (Now That's What I Call College Rock vol. 1!).
Sunday, January 5, 2020
SimonUK and Ryan were already standing around the kitchen talking about "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker", so they turned on a microphone and recorded themselves. What follows is a semi-incoherent conversation by two 40-something guys pondering the final installment of a decades-spanning storyline.
Fanfare and Prologue - John Williams, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker OST
Ewok Celebration - Meco, some 45 I had a as a kid
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.
Sunday, December 22, 2019
Format: Alamo Slaughter Lane
I'm not writing this up. I might podcast on it at some point, but I don't feel like a first viewing of this movie is quite enough to give it a thorough thinking-through.
Thanks to a very special secret pal who secured me tickets dead center of the theater! My seat was shaking during the last reel of the movie. It was awesome.
I will say this: I thought Anthony Daniels was fan-freakin'-tastic in this episode, as always, and I wished for way more C3PO over the course of the movie.
I'll get around to doing something at some point, but, for now - acknowledging that I'd seen it.
Also - here's me outside the theater.
|crazily, the two Jedi thought I didn't want them in the picture. They looked rad as hell!|