Thursday, September 2, 2021

Signal Watch in October: Friday Watch Parties Classic Horror Film Fest



This year, every Friday in October we'll watch a Halloween film and make it an Amazon Watch Party (pending unforeseen scheduling conflicts).  

But we're not going to go for the usual schlocky faire as we scour the bottom of the Amazon Prime "free to me" barrel.  We're going to watch a handful of films that you will have heard about and maybe seen once or twice, but make for excellent Halloween Classics.  

It will set you back the cost of the rental or purchase, but, hey, these will be movies you should probably see, anyway.

Your host will be that wiley creature of the night, Count Dracula Jr., whom Jamie LOVES.  Yes she does.

SCHEDULE

October 1 -   Dracula (1931)
October  8 -  Frankenstein (1932)
October 15 - Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
October 22 - The Wolfman (1941)
October 29 - Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)




Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Cameron Watch: The Abyss - Director's Cut (1989)




Watched:  08/28/2021
Format:  DVD I bought on ebay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  James Cameron

I would have been about 14 when The Abyss (1989) hit, and it arrived as a sort of prestige sci-fi film.  I remember seeing it in a packed house on a Saturday within the first week or two it was out (with my pals), and it was a*very big deal*.  

It became a staple of our rotation, but one you had to make time for.  The thing was 2.5 hours long.  It felt smart and somewhat relevant.  A Cold War story and not so displaced from our own time and technology, an underwater oil platform made sense - especially as run by roughnecks and fairly blue-collar technical crew.  

Monday, August 30, 2021

PODCAST: "Shallow Grave" (1994) - a Signal Watch Canon Episode w. MBell, MRSHL and Ryan




Watched:  08/21/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  3rd or 4th
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Danny Boyle



What happens when three narcissistic jerks combine their powers and slowly turn against each other? You get a podcast! We welcome new contributor MBell to the podcast who brings us a suitcase full of surprises as we discuss the mid-90's Scottish indie film thriller that was a crucial bit of what was going on in the 90's cinema scene. Join us as we root around the attic of our minds and recall how this movie fit in for us as young adults and our appreciation of movies!




Music:
Shallow Grave Theme - Simon Boswell


Canon Episodes

Horror Catch-Up Watch: Candyman (1992)




Watched:  08/29/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Bernard Rose

Interesting.

So help me, from 1992 until about, oh, 2016, I thought Candyman (1992) was just another quick, cheaply produced horror entry along the lines of (forgive me) Leprechaun.  I really thought it was horny teens saying "Bloody Mary" in a mirror and getting murdered, and that seemed.... stupid.  I don't really care about a lot of horror, and that seemed like a good one to not care about.

In college (1993) I lived on the "arts" floor in Jester West, and our two study lounges had large murals painted on the walls from students past.  One room had kinda Nagel-esque pictures of pianos or something, and the other had a (not amazing) mural of Jimi Hendrix.  One day, a very nice girl from my floor came in there while I was studying and was upset she couldn't use the other room for one reason or another, and I said "well, you can study here.  I'm just reading." and she said "Nope.  That mural looks like Candyman."  And I was like "from the horror movie?"  She nodded and backed out and that was that.  

Strong reaction, that, I thought.  

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Regret Interaction Watch: "Burlesque" (2010)




Watched:  08/27/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Kind of first/ Kind of second
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Steve Antin


I had never seen the beginning or end of Burlesque (2010).  A few years back I had a barber/ stylist who had set up a salon in her house, and instead of the mirror in front of you, she had a television.  And one time I went in and watched a huge chunk of Burlesque, because she'd get distracted by the movie or TV show she was watching, and what should have been a 20 minute haircut (my hair is so boring, I call the style "The Continental"), turned into a nearly 90 minute journey every time.  

Anyway - she was into the movie, and I know lots of people are.  But I come bearing bad news.  Burlesque is a super terrible film that has so much money and star power thrown at it, it looks like it should be good and people kind of accept that maybe it is.  But it isn't.

Ed Asner Merges With The Infinite




Actor and icon Ed Asner has passed at the age of 91.

Asner was a fixture of television - I remember him on reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show when I was a kid, just like everyone else.  But he was massively prolific.  In no way do I identify Asner with a specific role or era.  He simply was a fact of entertainment.  

The most surprising role I saw him take was as the voice of Granny Goodness on Superman: The Animated Series.  I still remember watching the cartoon when Jamie was in the hospital and her mom was reading a magazine, and she looked up at the TV and said "is that a guy voicing that woman?" and I said "that's Ed Asner" and she put down her magazine and took in some Fourth World mayhem.

He had some kind of relationship with comics and sci-fi, because he also voiced Daggett on Batman: The Animated Series, as well as voices on Spider-Man, Freakazoid and certainly Disney's Gargoyles.  The last thing I saw him in was in Season 2 of Doom Patrol.  

But the man played everything, up to and including Santa Claus in holiday staple Elf.  Just one of those actors that when he showed up, we'd be pointing at the TV and saying "is that Ed Asner!?"  Always good, always spot on in whatever he did, and seemed like a delight of a man.

I'm very sorry to see him go.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Return to Swashbuckle Watch: The Mask of Zorro (1998)




Watched:  08/27/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Martin Campbell

Having had just watched 1940's The Mark of Zorro, it seemed like a good idea to check out other iterations of the character.  I've been watching episodes of the low-budget 1990's TV show, but the last big splash Zorro made at cinemas were the two films starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The Mask of Zorro (1998) came out just as I graduated college, and was considered kind of a minor action triumph at the time of its release.  It doesn't speak to the future of superhero film, instead playing like the best of the best of the pulp-hero films of the 1990's, but this movie and it's sequel The Legend of Zorro, spoke to the weird world building and return to franchises that would become a staple of media by the 2010's.  

For some reason, this movie is about Don Diego de la Vega failing and the shenanigans coming to an end, with two decades spent in a jail cell.  It's frankly a lazy and unbelievable scenario that Don Rafael would not have seen Zorro killed, as bloodthirsty as this film portrays its villains, but it does prop up the rest of the story - which also doesn't make a ton of sense.  In the melee, Don Diego sees his wife accidentally shot, and Rafael yoinks the baby, taking her with him as he runs off to Spain as the Mexican Revolution of 1821 will unseat him and possibly see him killed by revolutionaries.  

Friday, August 27, 2021

Friday Watch Party: BURLESQUE (2010)




So, I used to go to this woman's house to get my haircut, and she took forever because she was watching TV or movies while she cut my hair.  And the one that kind of broke me was the 2010 attempt at being good, Burlesque.  I didn't see all of it, but I saw enough of it.

First problem:  your lead is not a professional actor.  
Second problem:  somehow the movie makes seasoned actors seem like they, too, cannot act.  
Third problem:  the movie was written and directed by a guy whose credits included doing, like, two Pussycat Dolls videos

Feature, not a bug:  the movie is complete nonsense.  

Starring:  CHER, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell, Julianne Hough, and Christina Aguilera AND MORE

DAY:  Friday, 08/27
TIME:  8:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Pacific
Streaming Service:  Amazon Watch Party

Link to movie here (it's working now, H)

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Swashbuckle Watch: The Mark of Zorro (1940)



Watched:  08/26/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Rouben Mamoulian

I'm fully down with the idea of Zorro.  Back in the 1970's and 80's, the character was still relatively popular as our parents had come up on Zorro movies and the Disney television show.  We got a cartoon and Zorro the Gay Blade.  I did watch some reruns of the Disney show, and in 1990 I watched the first season or two of Zorro on the Family Channel.  And, I quite liked the two Antonio Banderas/ Catherine Zeta Jones films.

Somehow I'd never watched this movie.  Ironically, I once owed dozens of dollars in late fees on the movie when I rented it in college and lost it in my apartment (it somehow got kicked under the bed), but I never got to see it before I found and returned it.  So, here we are.  

Superman & Lois Season 1 - That Went Okay




Well, that went better than expected.  

If you watched, I invite you to jump into the comments.

It's hard to wrap up talking about an entire season of a television show, but I can say without reservation that it was considerably better than I figured we'd get.  I've done some due diligence - I watched *most* of Smallville, all of Supergirl to date, several seasons of The Flash, about 2.5 seasons of Legends of Tomorrow, and plenty of crossovers between the shows.   The CW DC shows are great to watch on the elliptical when there's a shortage of O2 headed to your skull, but none of it's working on the level of Watchmen or name-your-prestige-show.  

At this point, I've seen some remarkable comics adaptations on TV as well as the movies.  I'm still reeling from what Marvel has delivered on Disney+.

I didn't mind that DC and CW were afraid to take on a Superman show.  After all, Superman should be a movie-level property, even if Superman has traditionally employed serial and multi-episodic formats in radio, cartoons, television and more.   I mean, the Fleischers were so certain of this notion, they asked for a ridiculous budget to make Superman cartoons, and someone gave them that money.  And, 80 years later, those cartoons still look insanely good.  Superman: The Movie was massively expensive and, man, it's a singularly beautiful movie.  You can see how the character fell from grace as sequels worked with lower budgets, limping through Superman 4.  

But, as rocker David St. Hubbins observed:  It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.