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.



Sunday, November 8, 2020

Alex Trebek Merges With the Infinite


I can't remember any version of Jeopardy! that didn't feature Alex Trebek.  I know that by 1987-ish and the time I was in 6th grade, we all had our Alex Trebek impersonations, or at least knew how to imitate his cadence when delivering an answer/ clue.  

While I was a Wheel Watcher and had an odd affinity for "Sale of the Century", Jeopardy! was clearly the thinking-person's gameshow - because it was one of the last surviving quiz shows on TV.  And, it was hosted by the thinking-person's gameshow host.  Trebek ran a tight ship - foolishness was not creeping into the world of Jeopardy!.  Demographic-pleasing plebes were not going to find their way onto the contestant's stand - he needed people who could answer a medley of trivia questions, and not lose their cool.  

Trebek grounded the show with a cool, dry, breeziness that was polite, maybe a tad formal, and was unimpressed with credentials even when touting those of his guests.  He was far more impressed if you made a run on the board.  And, his giddiness (which amounted to a small smile at the best of times) shown through during returning champions weeks where he could count on a battle royale instead of watching middle school librarians fall by the wayside early in the game.

Most game show hosts you kind of just shrug at - goofy entertainers with a gift for hucksterism.  But Trebek outsurvived almost all of them (Sajak is still doing his thing, along with Vanna).  And he did it with a certain poise and sincerity about the show that gave gravitas to 30 minutes daily of people being asked random-ass questions for money.  That could have been dumb, y'all.

Jeopardy! existed before Trebek, and it will exist after Trebek.  But it will not be the same without him.  Nor will the television landscape as I've known it my entire life.  And, yes, I will be quietly very judgey of whomever tries to fill Trebek's podium.

Here's to a well deserved rest and may he never have to hear a response in the form of a question ever again.

Friday, November 6, 2020

PODCAST: "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017) Avengers Countdown #16 w/ Jamie and Ryan


 
Watched:  10/01/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  2010's
Director:  John Watts




It's round three for film adaptations of Spider-Man, and this time they made Aunt May a stone cold fox. After Disney and Sony sorted out their differences, Spidey finally became part of the MCU and - despite not following origin movie rules - manages to turn in a fun movie with a weirdly sympathetic super-villain (it's BATMAN).





Music: 
Very bad cover of Spider-Man theme - Jamie and Ryan
Spider-Man Theme - The Ramones


Avengers Playlist:

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!  


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Election Week Watch: The Muppet Movie (1979)




Watched: 11/04/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1970's
Director:  James Frawley

We watched most of this movie on election night in order to avoid the news.  Finished it up last night in order to avoid the news.

Everytime I watch this, I am reminded that Rowlf is the funniest Muppet.   And Paul Williams needs to be re-re-discovered every three years.


Monday, November 2, 2020

Elementary Watch: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)


 

Watched:  10/31/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Terence Fisher

Frankly I'm surprised I'd never seen this movie before, except:  I've always been embarrassed to not have actually read the novel, which I usually like to do first on things like this.  For a while as a kid I read my brother's Sherlock Holmes collections, and like many a 13 year old kid, was a fan.  Frankly haven't read much since, so if anyone is doing any Christmas shopping for me... could use a nice Holmes collection.

Anyhoo...  Peter Cushing was TCM's Star of the Month, and they aired the movie and I decided: heck, now is the time.  It's Halloween-ish.  Ghost hounds and all.

Cushing plays Sherlock Holmes (to perfection, I might add).  Andre Morell is Watson.  I was further delighted to find out it co-starred Christopher Lee is the heir to the Baskerville manor and fortune, Sir Henry.  

The mystery surrounds a longstanding curse of the Baskerville family, that a demon hound occasionally gets them out on the moors surrounding their manor house.  When the latest occupant dies, killed by some large creature, the next in line is summoned home from South Africa to take his place.  In London, a Dr. Mortimer enlists the aid of Holmes and Watson to sort things out before Sir Henry falls to a similar fate.

The scope of the story plays well to the strengths of Hammer studios - access to solid actors, a limited number of locations, a grisly murder and kind of crazy story.  It has that Terence Fisher touch to it of not being overly stuffy, but also not ever feeling exploitative regarding the horror or grisly details while also painting a picture of what has occurred off screen or which was hinted at.  

If I have *any* complaint, I could have stood *more* of this movie.  It runs 87 minutes, and feels like it could have spent more time building suspects, detailed a bit more here and there, and given more room for Sir Henry's budding romance/ infatuation with the neighbor's comely daughter.  And, of course, with Cushing as Holmes such a delight, it would have been great to get more Holmes/ Watson time.  


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Halloween Watch: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)




Watched:  10/31/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  2nd?  3rd?  4th?  It's been decades
Decade: 1990's
Director:  Kenneth Branagh

We already watched the classic Universal Frankenstein and the Hammer Frankenstein for the podcast, but I always watch Frankenstein and Bride as my final movie or so of Halloween.  So, I swapped in this version, which I hadn't seen in forever.  And I know I hadn't seen it in forever, because Jamie had never seen it.  

My memory was "that sure felt like it thought it was much better than it was".  It was directed by already-respected Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh, borrowed indie cred by casting Helena Bonham Carter (who was the indie-fan's sex symbol of the time), borrowed established cred with Robert DeNiro as the Monster, Tom Hulce of Amadeus fame, Ian Holm, John Cleese and others.  The sets are lavish, the score: sweeping.  

Halloween Cartoon Watch: Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo! (2020)




Watched:  10/31/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Maxwell Atoms

Uh.  So, I guess there's a rabid fanbase of adult fans of Scooby Doo, which, you know, I really like Superman, so, no stones shall I throw.  I was just never a big Scooby Doo fan, even as a kid.  I mean, it was what was *on* in the few hours I was allowed to watch TV as a kid, so I watched it, but I didn't take to it.  Nor did I get onboard with the live action movies from a couple of decades ago.  Basically -  I am out of the Scooby loop.

But...  this year Hanna Barbera/ WB Animation released Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo! (2020), an animated movie featuring the voice talent of Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson as herself/ Elvira.  I gathered from something I read that she didn't just wander in, do a joke, and disappear again, so I paid to rent the film.  




As I mentioned, there's a rabid adult fanbase of Scoob-o-philes, and I was kind of curious how they felt about this movie.  The Scooby Doo I remember had the bland Fred and Daphne, Velma trying to keep things together, and Shag and Scoob as two slackers who had no business in the monster-chasing business and made dangerously large sandwiches.  The new take looks like classic Scoob, but Fred is... dumb?  I couldn't figure it out.  Daphne is... insane?  and the other three felt like how I remember them.  And, honestly, Scooby Doo himself was deeply back burnered, which is not how I remember the show working.

Elvira was allowed to be more or less a PG version of herself, and they went weird with some bits I can see Peterson finding pretty funny.  Bill Nye also plays a sort of Q role for the team, air dropping them a new mystery machine.

Well, according to what I saw online, the adult fans hate this take.    Which - sure.  Key characters are out of character, even with the fan-base approved voice cast.  

The movie is kind of weird, structurally - from including a Batman villain, to an extended road chase that just keeps going.  

Anyway, I probably enjoyed it more as an Elvira movie than as a Scooby Doo movie - and actually understand if fans are weirded out by their favorite characters acting out of character.  See: my confusion about recent DC Comics movies.  I'm not sure I've ever really been much of one for the Scooby Doo formula, but it was interesting/ weird to see the characters looking the same but (especially Fred and Daphne) updated to be more like modern animated characters.  Not sure it worked - but it was something to ponder.  






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

Halloween Doc Watch: Wolfman's Got Nards (2018)




Watched:  10/29/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Andre Gower

I saw The Monster Squad at Showplace 6 on a weekday in late summer when I was a kid.  I must have said something about the movie and thinking I'd miss it (it wasn't released until mid-August of 1987, which would have been just as school was starting), so I'm guessing I thought the clock was ticking.  My dad loved movies, too, when we were kids.  Not like some of your dads who showed you Carrie or whatever, he just liked going to the movies or making a bucket of popcorn at home and watching a movie with us.  

All I know is that on a weekday in the few weeks Monster Squad was out, my dad took the afternoon off work - came home and got me, we watched the movie - and then he dropped me off and went back to work.  I don't think he remembers this at all, but it meant a lot to me when I was 12.