Formerly "Dave's Blog About Movies and Such"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You're Welcome, Hollywood: Umberto D. in The Pick of Destiny

[Intro: Ain't nothing original anymore. But that ain't news. Movie-wise, all we get anymore are sequels, remakes, adaptations, and fanboy-pandering genre mash-ups. Your Tree of Life's and Black Swan's still get released, to be sure, but it's damn hard to get a picture made nowadays what ain't pre-sold. Like most movie addicts, I've bemoaned this trend toward predictability for quite some time. I've realized, however, that I've been going at it all wrong. I shouldn't try to fight an unstoppable tidal wave; I'll just get all drowneded and shit. Nay, I should embrace our decline—embrace it in my own way.

Hence this weekly series in which I present you with a remake/mash-up idea combining two movies that most modern movie-goers have either never heard of or no longer care about. That's right; each week, I attempt to sell a pre-sold movie that ain't pre-sold at all.]

For this week's entry, I present you with Umberto D. in The Pick of Destiny: a remake/mash-up of Vittorio De Sica's classic, neo-realist, humanist film Umberto D.; and the Tenacious D picture The Pick of Destiny.

The Plot: Umberto, a lonely, aged, broke, washed-up rock star—too old to rock, no more rocking for him—struggles with paying his rent, and a world that no longer cares for him. His is a tragic existence. His only source of comfort in this troubled life is his faithful dog Flike. When at his lowest, when it seems that all hope is lost, when he is about to get evicted from his apartment by his succubus of a landlady, when he realizes that suicide would leave his loving dog with no one to care of him, Umberto raises a prayer to the dark lord. Much to Umberto's delight, his faithful dog Flike reveals himself to be, as it turns out, none other than one of Satan's hell-hounds.

["You didn't know I could piss fire? Or that I could talk? Huh, I thought I mentioned that."]

Upon hearing Umberto's laments, Flike summons the dark one, who appears before them and pulls out one of his own teeth, out of which he fashions the ultimate guitar pick—a pick so powerful it has the power to turn even the lowliest guitar-hero-reject into a guitar-slaying beast Yngwie Malmsteen would bow down to in rapt envy. He offers this career-rejuvenating pick to Umberto on one condition: He must get the group back together and stage a benefit concert the following weekend in Beelzebub's honor (and also to raise taffy awareness—he loves his taffy). So Umberto and Flike dust off their old fart-powered van and speed through the southwest as they attempt to locate and reassemble the old group.

Umberto D. in The Pick of Destiny: You will believe an old man can rock.

Umberto D. (1952)
dir. Vittorio De Sica

[A heartbreaking scene from De Sica's film:]

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)
dir. Liam Lynch

[The trailer:]

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jail Bait (1954)

dir. Edward D. Wood Jr.

(Here's a little word of advice: If you're looking for a poster for this film, Google "jail bait poster ed wood". Do not Google just "jail bait poster"—so much wrongness. Internet, I'm very disappointed; I expected better of you.)

Before you start asking questions about the title of Ed Wood's low-rent noir from 1954, I'll say upfront that it refers not to what you think it does. The "jail bait" in question here is weaponry, specifically the handgun that one Don Gregor (Clancy Malone) uses to get what he wants, what he needs, what society says he can't have: namely, cheap thrills with his hood pal Vic Brady (Timothy Farrell). Of course, the kill-joy fuzz and Don's sis Marilyn (Dolores Fuller) ain't too keen on Don gallivanting about with his piece and that knucklehead Vic, so they attempt to put the kibosh but good on his nogoodnik ways. But no match are they for the irresistible pull of the rod nor that rapscallion Vic. And wouldn't you know it, before he knows it, Don is all kinds of caught up in a botched robbery/cop-killing.

No question about it, Don's goose is cooked. He knows he's gotta turn himself in, less'n he wants his pa (Herbert Rawlinson) disappointed in him. When Vic gets wind of Don's notions of turning rabbit, he puts his foot well as a bullet in the back of Don. With another murder on his hands—albeit that of a cop-killer—Vic's gotta lam it. Or does he. It ain't long before Vic cooks up a plot to get the dead Don's plastic surgeon pa, Dr. Gregor, to slice his face and give him a new one. Foolproof. But Vic is only about to find out what the good Dr. Gregor has in store for him.

[Yeah, Steve Reeves is also in this movie, showing off the goods for some reason. Why not.]

All in all a pretty neat little piece of pulp trash. With plenty of unquotable lines, stiff non-acting, and accidentally filmed almost-action, Jail Bait is an entry in Ed Wood's oeuvre.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Brand New Me

So the LAMB, a really great association of movie blogs, has a running feature in which users submit their blogs for critique by fellow bloggers. Although I think it's a very useful feature, I didn't think there would be a reason to enter my site: I know the design of my blog is riddled with flaws, but I am also aware of what those many flaws are. As you all are more than well aware—and as I've pointed out repeatedly in many random posts—this site's biggest flaw heretofore had been it's godawful, cringe-inducing name: Dave's Blog About Movies and Such (ugh, the very sound of it makes me shiver). Why I stuck with it for so long is beyond me. Maybe I just wanted to have something to complain about.

Anyway, unbeknownst to me, someone submitted my site for participation in the above-mentioned LAMB feature. And I sure am thankful. (UPDATE: I was reminded that, apparently, I did sign up for this feature. Wow, memory loss is kicking in really early for me.) Nothing like seeing your own concerns about your blog reiterated by fellow bloggers, to give you the swift kick in the ass necessary for changing your ways. The first thing I did after seeing the comments, understandably, was change the goddamn fucking name. Three years stuck in a rut of a loveless marriage with the previous blog name was three years too many. And so I came up with the new name, KL5-FILM, lickety-split. But the changes didn't stop there; with a new name came a need for a new banner, and I came up with two. This is where I need your help. I can't decide which banner to use. I have to choose between this:

and this:

Right now I'm leaning toward the A*P*E banner, but if enough people think otherwise, I might switch to the Little Murders banner. I'd really appreciate your feedback on this.

(Of course, these aren't the only changes to come to my blog. Over the coming weeks, I'll nibble here and there at various design aspects that have been bugging me for some time. Try not to get a'sceared if the new blog design becomes too different and strange and such.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Awesome Movie Scenes: After Hours: "Is That All There Is?" (1985)

dir. Martin Scorsese

Pursued by all manner of folks because of unfortunate misunderstandings, Griffin Dunne's Paul Hackett is caught in a Japanese puzzle box of a screenplay in which all the interlocking pieces seem designed to destroy him. Also, he's kind of a dick who's brought a lot of this stuff on himself. Nevertheless, the protagonist of Scorsese's After Hours is caught in an ever-escalating series of events causing his and our adrenaline to pump like mad. Just as things keep piling and piling on him, just as he and we the viewers hit the breaking point, just when we think we've had enough, when we don't know how much more excitement we can take, Paul finds refuge—for at least a brief moment—in a near-empty club whose only other denizen (Verna Bloom) is sitting at a table by herself.

Paul takes a quarter—his last bit of money—drops it in the jukebox and selects Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?". He pours his guts out to the woman, and then the two slow dance to Lee's detached-numbness-in-in-the-face-of-momentous-tragic-events ballad. Lee's song perfectly compliments not only the plot of this film, but also the mood of this scene in which Paul's and the viewers' adrenaline wears off and the excitement hangover begins to kick in. Before Paul's had a chance to take in all that has happened, he's overcome with a similar dismissive, "is that all you got," fuck-it-all attitude.

Of course, Scorsese doesn't let this last very long. Before the song's finished, Paul is yet again tracked down by his pursuers. Goodbye song, as it's back to fight-or-flight mode. He's forced out of his detached daze as he tries to find a way of escaping. Oh well, at least there was a little catch-your-breath break.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a clip of this scene on youtube, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it's great. Or go out and watch the damn movie. Seriously, why aren't you watching this movie right now?

[Here's Peggy Lee's song:]

[The trailer:]

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You're Welcome, Hollywood: Get Yourself a Chelsea Girl

[Ok, I'll say right off the bat that the this is the first time I've ever used a picture-editing software (GIMP, in case you're wondering—I ain't paying for shit), and I am well aware that the results are a little mixed. I would like to make a fake poster for each entry I do in this weekly series, but, seeing as this took a fucking lot longer than I anticipated, I don't wanna promise shit. I'll sure try my damndest, though.]

[Intro: Ain't nothing original anymore. But that ain't news. Movie-wise, all we get anymore are sequels, remakes, adaptations, and fanboy-pandering genre mash-ups. Your Tree of Life's and Black Swan's still get released, to be sure, but it's damn hard to get a picture made nowadays what ain't pre-sold. Like most movie addicts, I've bemoaned this trend toward predictability for quite some time. I've realized, however, that I've been going at it all wrong. I shouldn't try to fight an unstoppable tidal wave; I'll just get all drowneded and shit. Nay, I should embrace our decline—embrace it in my own way.

Hence this weekly series in which I present you with a remake/mashup idea combining two movies that most modern movie-goers have either never heard of or no longer care about. That's right; each week, I attempt to sell a pre-sold movie that ain't pre-sold at all.]

For this week's entry, I give you Get Yourself a Chelsea Girl: a remake/mashup of the long-forgotten, teen-audience-pandering, hot-young-band-showcasing flick Get Yourself a College Girl (1964); and Andy Warhol's mid-sixties, experimental, drugged-up-Warhol-Factory-habitues-starring film Chelsea Girls (1966).

The Plot: A four hour film, Get Yourself a Chelsea Girl will present two stories to be projected side by side, simultaneously.

Story 1: Rick, a depressed, middle-aged man whose boyfriend of fifteen years just broke up with him, decides to take his mind off things by going to the hottest leather-bar/rock-venue in Chelsea. On stage are the hottest young bands of today, all playing their biggest hits—not that we ever see them perform. We can kind of hear their songs in the background; though, they're mostly drowned out as Rick screams over the music, awkwardly attempting to make small talk with the young men who all turn him down. Mostly, this story alternates between scenes of Rick dancing, his flirtation fails, and long stretches in which he sits alone at the bar and sends drunk texts to various people: mostly his ex and his friend Chelsea who tells him to stop texting his ex.

Story 2: Meanwhile, bored, stuck-in-a-rut couple Brad and Chelsea are staying at the Hotel Chelsea. Chelsea was going to console her friend Rick, but instead stayed in to take care of her sick husband. Another group of today's hottest young bands are staying in the adjacent room—not that we ever see them. Occasionally, the band members get a little raucous as they begin impromptu jam sessions, so Brad has to knock on the wall and says such things as, "What's all this then?" and "Please keep it down over there; I'm not feeling well." The band members apologize and oblige, playing silent backgammon instead. Mostly, though, this story is just a whole lotta Brad and Chelsea lying in bed, quietly reading as they perfect their well-honed skill of not talking to each other. And every now and then, Chelsea texts her friend Rick.

Get Yourself a Chelsea Girl: Yep, stuff happens in this movie...sometimes. (Damn, I gotta get better at thinking up taglines.)

Hollywood, my writing partner and I will be more than glad to script this shit up for you...if the price is right.

[Get Yourself a College Girl (1964) trailer:]

[A couple of random clips from Chelsea Girls (1966):]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cold Prey (2006)

dir. Roar Uthaug

[This review is part of Final Girl's Film Club.]

When I saw that the Final Girl Film Club would have as this month's entry the Norwegian slasher film Cold Prey, I got all kinds of super dooper happy. I was excited not only that the film club was back but also that it would be covering a Scandinavian horror flick. I've been quite in love with Scandinavian genre flicks lately. Such films as Just Another Love Story, Let the Right One In, and Terribly Happy, for instance, managed to take the familiar tropes of the American genres to which they were paying homage, and twist them enough so that the results, though respectful to the American films to which they were indebted, were refreshingly new. (Also, if there's one thing I like more than snow, it's snow in horror movies. And Cold Prey is a horror movie that has snow.)

I was also super dooper happy that Cold Prey was available on Netflix streaming. Sweet, not only would I not have to quickly watch and return one of my discs so that I could (ugh) walk it to the mailbox and then wait for the Cold Prey disc to come in; but I could watch the flick just by (ugh) walking to my computer, clicking some shit, and then walking (again with the walking?) back to my bed where I could lie down and watch the movie. (Man, why do people say technology turns us into such lazy...I don't have the energy to finish typing this sentence.)

Unfortunately, much to my chagrin, I soon realized that the Cold Prey on Netflix Streaming was the English dubbed version. Dammit, I'd have to wait for the disc. Sure, I'll let it slide when an old Italian horror flick is dubbed in English, but most of those films were shot silent and dubbed later anyway (plus, I just kinda dig the vibe of a dubbed Italian gore flick). Cold Prey was different; it was a Scandinavian horror flick. It wouldn't follow the rules of the single-mindedly commercial (though admittedly awesome) Italian flicks. It would fuck with the form—you know, be artier and shit. Or so I thought.

A group of young snow-boarders—Jannicke (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), Morten Tobias (Rolf Kristian Larsen), Eirik (Tomas Alf Larsen), Mikal (Endre Martin Midtstigen) and Ingunn (Viktoria Winge)—travels to an isolated mountaintop to have some fun unencumbered by all that pesky civilization: You know, readily available search and rescue teams, medical facilities, law enforcement, cellphone reception, etc.

(By the way, I know this is an issue that others have probably already discussed at greater length—backed up with research and examples and whatnot—but I gotta say I'm a little bored with the "we don't have any cellphone reception here" cop-out. Obviously, given that Cold Prey takes place on a remote mountaintop, the lack of cellphone reception is pretty believable, but this is a problem not isolated to Cold Prey; it's endemic to modern horror flicks, and thrillers, and most other movies in which workable cell phones would put a damper on the plot or, at least, shorten the movie considerably. Screenwriters, if you don't wanna deal with plot-fucking cellphones, set your movies in the past. Otherwise, if you absolutely need it set in the present day, give your characters workable cell phones that would enable them to get rescued from their shitty situations. And then work around it. This is what good creators do: they use their limitations to get creative. Who knows, the exercise will probably take your movie in interesting directions you wouldn't have imagined had you not given yourself the challenge. Just a thought. [To all the modern movies that have gone and cleverly incorporated workable cellphones, my apologies for flipping out; this wasn't about you—also, way to go.])

Oh well, it's not like anyone in the group is gonna fall while snowboarding and break a—

Oh, shit, did Morten Tobias go and get himself a compound fracture? Dangnabit. Let's go and take a load off in that old, secluded, abandoned ski-lodge that no one's been to since all those people went missing there in the seventies. It's not like a large, lumbering, psycho—who lives in the basement where he stores souvenirs from the skiiers who had the misfortune of finding refuge here over the years only to get killed by him—is gonna hunt us down and kill us one by—


Cold Prey is a real meat and potatoes slasher flick. Sure, Uthaug's film doesn't offer anything you couldn't find in the vast cornucopia of eighties-produced American slasher flicks; but what it does, it does well. Uthaug has a knack, not only for creating tension and producing genuine scares, but also of respecting his genre forebears. He understands that, when it comes to slasher films, audiences don't care about elaborate plotting, unnecessary twists, or any kind of fake grandiosity; they want a simple story, simply told, with plenty of gore and scares. Oh, an iconic baddie (which Cold Prey most certainly contains) sure don't hurt. Will I add this to my pantheon of beloved slasher flicks? Probably not. Still, not a bad way to spend ninety or so minutes.

(I know you probably got the impression from my snarky review that I didn't like this film, but that ain't true. It's just that once I started to be all joke-making and stuff on this blog a few years back, I found that I couldn't review anything without turning into a condescending douchebag. It's like a leaky faucet; once it started dripping, it just kept getting worse and worse until I had no control over it. This is a cry for help, folks. Please help. Please help me turn off my snark faucet.)

[The English-dubbed trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting Old

I don’t often write about TV here. It’s not that I’m not a TV person (most of my current favorite entertainments are TV shows); I just prefer to write about movies—sweet, non-long-term-commitment requiring, self-contained movies. After watching the most recent episode of South Park, however, I decided I'd like to try to write about TV every now and then. Of course, as with most stuff I tackle on this blog, this particular post will be mostly not about what it's about. Huh?

In the most recent episode ("You're Getting Old"), Stan turns 10 and becomes a cynical asshole. Everything that once brought him joy—movies, music, video games, food—now seems shitty, literally so. His friends, no longer able to stomach Stan's dickishness, start to drift away. Meanwhile, Stan's father Randy, hoping to retain his fading youth, latches on to the latest tween fad. His wife Sharon is peeved at his latest bout with pointless tomfoolery. After the couple has a row over the issue, they realize that they've been drifting apart for some time, and so decide to split. Also, hillbillies steal shitty britches.

Although my plot description may not make it seem so, this episode was one of the funnier in recent memory—that is until the poignant ending. But the funniness wasn't what prompted me to to post about the show—though funny it really fucking was. I suppose the reason I loved this episode so much is I’m just a sucker for that sort of wistful, things-are-changing type of storyline. And this particular wistful, things-are-changing storyline really spoke to me. Although "You're Getting Old" seemed mainly to be about Trey and Matt's fatigue with the show, I couldn't help but get drawn back to my youth as well as my current feelings of getting older.

Now, I don’t consider myself a cynical asshole when it comes to movies, music, TV, and such: the pop-culture that I dig far outweighs the stuff I loathe. Indeed, were I to hate most movies, the point of being a movie addict would be far from pointful for me. It would be pointless. But I am very much aware of what I don't like. And I still remember when I began to make distinctions between what I perceived to be meaningful worthwhile pop-culture pursuits and time-wasting shit.

As a lad, I loved the Superman movies. Along with Back to the Future, I watched the first three Superman flicks on an endless loop (and, as stated before, I still think the third entry is underrated—though I haven’t seen it since I was an early teen). When the—audience-insulting, cynical attempt to cash in on a lucrative franchise—third sequel Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was released, I couldn’t wait to check it out. To say I had unrealistic expectations would have been an understatement. Making the wait even more unbearable was that I knew I would never see it in the theaters. Being that I was one of seven children, it was not in my parents’ best interest to take us to the movies. We always had to wait until movies were shown on TV before seeing them. (Yeah, we didn't rent movies either; we were really fucking poor and had to cut corners where we could.)

When I finally did see Superman IV: The Quest for Peace I felt wronged. Everything about it was so cheap, so knocked-off, just so shitty. No movie had made me feel like that before. Of course, at that age (I don't remember exactly when I saw it, but I was probably between eight and ten), I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was that felt wrong about the movie, I just knew I felt cheated. I was beginning to get jaded.

Again, I didn't plunge head-on into cynical assholism. I am still more often awed than disgusted by movies (of course, I am better able, at this point, to seek out stuff I know I would probably enjoy, Old Dogs notwithstanding), but that first feeling of getting ripped off was still a fucking bummer; South Park captured it perfectly.

[Superman IV: The Quest for Peace trailer:]

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Violent Years (1956)

dir. William Morgan

Remember a few weeks back when I wrote that, because of my—forged during a timid, straight-arrow, nerdy adolescence—squareness, most movies about bad kids tend to put me on edge? The key word there is "most." You see, for me to be a'sceared of the criminal behavior of the juvenile delinquents, the movie has to exist in at least some remote simulacrum of some sort of known reality: Halfway decent performers caught in somewhat plausible criminal scenarios is really the least a movie can do.

When a film takes the express train to batshit-ylvania, however, the only proper response is gut-laughter. Case in point: the Edward D. Wood Jr. penned, mid-fifties, girl-gang opus The Violent Years. A film once featured on the brilliant MST3K (I didn't see this episode, so I apologize in advance for any unintended repeated jokes), The Violent Years more than earns its non-reputation as a movie that was once made and, in fact, still exists.

Playboy playmate of the month of October 1955 (how's that for acting credentials) Jean Moorehead stars as Paula Parkins, an all-American gal who loves her parents and does everything a wholesome American should: rob gas-stations, rob lovers necking in their car on the roadside, defile men, trash schoolrooms, and engage in gunfire with the fuzz—all with the help of her well-organized, similarly aged, female criminal organization. This young Dillinger ain't got long for the criminal life, however. When Johnny Law captures her, it's off to a short stint in baby booking, where she can contemplate her crimes before being transferred to the big house, a long life of life in prison awaiting her. Oh yeah, she also gives birth to a prison baby, which her parents—after giving a "my bad" mea culpa for the raising of their criminal daughter—promise to take care of and swear to get right this time, "The first one was a practice kid, you see. She doesn't count against our parenting record."

(Yes, my perfunctory plot description was rather filled with holes, but I make it a rule here to never put in more effort describing the plot than the screenwriters did in constructing it. Also, I was falling asleep while watching this flick; you can't expect me to remember every goddamned thing.)

As with the best exploitation pictures of its time, The Violent Years took a well-discussed, hot-button issue (juvenile delinquency) and created a warning story that upped the hysterical ante to such a degree that the resultant motion picture became a caricature of not only the issue but also of histrionic, message pictures. In its goal of ridiculousosity, The Violent Years has two things going for it: the well-oiled-machine-like nature of the girl gang, and the bi-polar performance of playmate Moorehead. Sure, juvenile delinquency became a problem to be dealt with in the fifties. But the issue was generally one of out-of-control kids engaging in random acts of violence. That Paula's crew performs as a sort of Hole-in-the-Wall Gang in miniature is only slightly more ridiculous than her on-her-toes, cold-blooded response to being pursued by the po-po. Paula's strategy for escaping pursuit: Ice any motherfuckers who cross her.

By the way, did I mention already that Paula and her cohorts force a young, terrified teen male to have sex with all of them? And the guy reports them. Sure, this movie was birthed of a more prudish time in which a respectable young man wouldn't...yeah, this movie's bullshit.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Great Ending Scenes: The Age of Innocence (1993)

dir. Martin Scorsese

Don't know why but I got poignancy on the brain lately, and I can't stop thinking about the ending scene of The Age of Innocence—a movie I last saw over a decade ago.

[The ending:]

Thursday, June 9, 2011

You're Welcome, Hollywood: wHate Zombie

Ain't nothing original anymore. But that ain't news. Movie-wise, all we get anymore are sequels, remakes, adaptations, and fanboy-pandering genre mash-ups. Your Tree of Life's and Black Swan's still get released, to be sure, but it's damn hard to get a picture made nowadays what ain't pre-sold. Like most movie addicts, I've bemoaned this trend toward predictability for quite some time. I've realized, however, that I've been going at it all wrong. I shouldn't try to fight an unstoppable tidal wave; I'll just get all drowneded and shit. Nay, I should embrace our decline—embrace it in my own way.

Yes, I've got a genre mash-up/remake idea that I'm sure two people in Hollywood (a parking attendant and an executive fluffer) would just love to get their hands on. I propose to sell a pre-sold movie that ain't pre-sold at all: a remake/mash-up of two flicks most people either have never heard of or don't care about. I present you with wHate Zombie ®: a remake of the Bela Lugosi-starring voodoo-zombie flick White Zombie that is actually mostly a remake of Sam Fuller's never-theatrically-released cult flick White Dog, except with a racist zombie instead of a racist dog.

(Full disclosure: This idea ain't entirely mine. The other night I was watching White Zombie, and my roommate asked if it was anything like the movie White Dog. I responded that it wasn't, and then went into an unnecessarily detailed description of the plot of White Zombie—a somewhat racist zombie-movie, but not a racist-zombie movie. He then asked if there had been any racist-zombie movies. I went through the ol' memory bank, trying to remember if I had seen or heard of any such movies but came up blank. My roommate seemed surprised—especially given all the weird fucking movies I've seen—that not only I had I not seen such a movie but one apparently didn't exist. "Yeah, that is surprising," I said. "My idea. You can't have it.")

The plot: On a road trip through the South, Melanie, a young white woman, becomes heartbroken when she comes across a wounded zombie lying on the side of the road. She takes the helpless living-dead being back to her home where she nurses him back to un-health. And then she chains him to a wall in the living room. She is soon horrified to discover that the vacant, soulless being becomes restless—groaning and pantomiming its anger about black, socialist, atheist, Muslims destroying the country—whenever her black boyfriend Donald comes by. Donald is understandably upset, thinking that Melanie is the one responsible for the zombie's racism. Not wanting any harm to come to the zombie, Melanie tries to play it off like it's all a joke.

["No, it's fine. He's just having fun. We do this all the time."

"That is not a happy face. He just dialed 911. Fuck this. I'm outta here."]

But it's not a joke. And Melanie can no longer live in denial; she realizes that something must be done. Although she at first contemplates killing the zombie, she can't bring herself to pulling the trigger. Instead, she hires a zombie-whisperer to retrain the being into becoming a normal, functioning, living-dead member of society. She also finds the voodoo-practicing plantation owner that turned the zombie into a racist douche and gets some revenge and stuff.

You want a tagline for the movie? I got yer tagline right here:

wHate Zombie ®: The "w" may be silent...but the rest of the word isn't. (Yeah, taglines aren't my strength.)

So, yeah, Hollywood, if you wanna get started on getting this picture off the ground, my writing partner and I would be more than happy to get it all writ up for you. And don't go and try and do anything sneaky like steal this shit; I gots my circle R after the title and everything, so there. Also, since I got the inspiration for this idea from my roommate, you'd actually be stealing from him. Now why would you wanna steal from him? What's he ever done to you? You bastards.

White Zombie (1932)
dir. Victor Halperin

[The trailer:]

White Dog (1982)
dir. Sam Fuller

[A fan-made trailer:]

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Awesome Movie Trailers: Badlands (1973)

dir. Terrence Malick

Last week I complained of the incongruous voice-over narration in 2001's trailer: Over-explanatory, it didn't match the mood or ambiguity of the movie. With today's trailer entry, Badlands, I am happy to say quite the opposite is true. Terrence Malick is rivaled by few others when it comes to pitch-perfect voice-over narration, so it should come as no surprise that the narration written for the opening portion of the trailer to his debut feature would be perfectly suited to the movie. Over Malick's beautifully-photographed shots, a portentous voice recites the clipped, telegraphic prose detailing the character traits of two thrill-killers in 1950s Texas. His narration is as follows:
He was 25 years old. He combed his hair like James Dean. He was very fastidious. People who littered bothered him. She was 15. She took music lessons and could twirl a baton. She wasn't very popular at school. For a while, they lived together in a tree-house. In 1959, they murdered a lot of people.
As the narrator describes these characters, we witness them courting. As soon as he mentions the murders, the trailer cuts to an image of a balloon drifting across a bright blue sky, while the screen gets painted with blood. Combining the mundane with the disturbing in the same breath/visual, the opening section of this trailer perfectly compliments the tone and storytelling of Malick's lovers-on-the-run feature. As opposed to most films of this genre, Malick downplays the action, and instead emphasizes the delusional naivete of the two young criminals: Holly's (Sissy Spacek) detached narration matter-of-factly informs us of her love affair/crimes. (After the opening portion, the rest of the trailer's dialogue alternates between Holly's narration and Kit's (Martin Sheen) recorded confession of the crimes that he and his gal have committed.) Much as the trailer narrator's narration, Holly's voice-over in the film relates seemingly inconsequential details—putting it at odds with the genre of which this movie would appear to be a member.

Aiding Holly's narration in the task of genre confusion are Malick's beautifully composed shots and the alternately haunting and playful score. Because of this, Badlands establishes tones at moments wistful, darkly-humorous, and disturbing. Some have faulted Malick's film for a supposed absence of a moral compass. What he does here, however, is explore the heinous crimes of two individuals from the perspective of the young, morally-vacant/naive protagonists. Rarely is first-person storytelling so effective; rarely does a trailer capture it so well.

[The trailer:]

Monday, June 6, 2011

Union Station (1950)

dir. Rudolph Mate

Anyone familiar with Thom Andersen's exhaustively researched—and sadly unavailable—documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, will recognize Rudolph Mate's Union Station as the noir that was filmed in Los Angeles' Union Station, but whose locale is never specified. As stated in Andersen's film:

In the 1950 film Union Station—the only film in which [Union Station] has a starring role—it is not located in Los Angeles. Actually, it's never located anywhere precisely. The station is only a commuter ride from West Hampton, which would place it in New York City; yet one of the villains takes an elevated train out of the station, suggesting Chicago. The police chase him into the stockyards; this must be Chicago. But what about those palm trees?

Ah, movie magic. Union Station is thus yet another shinning example of Hollywood's disregard for geographic realism. Not that this is an issue that bothers me terribly, mind you, but considering that Union Station followed the current trend in crime films of documentary realism, it does amuse me. (Honestly, the only reason I mention all this is that Los Angeles Plays Itself is all kinds of Captain Kick-Ass. If you're able to hunt it down, watch the fuck out of it.)

In addition to all that docu-realism stuff, Mate's film was also part of the then emergent sub-genre in crime films of the police procedural (see also: White Heat, The Naked City, He Walked by Night, T-Men). Using Union Station as a backdrop, Mate depicts the efforts of the unnamed city's police force to thwart a kidnapper. In a nutshell, police Lt. William Calhoun (William Holden) is informed by civilian Joyce Willecombe (Nancy Olson) that a couple of the mugs on her train to Union Station seemed suspicious, and he should investigate. Calhoun responds by dropping all the important shit he's doing so that he can tail a couple of knuckleheads that some hyper-imaginative train-riding-person thinks seemed fishy. Being in charge of the security of only the city's largest transportation hub, it's not like he has anything better to do than stalking a couple citizens based on the intuition of some likely hopped-up dope-fiend. No, he didn't see any dope-fiend behavior, but it's so obvious she's on the junk. He means, every time one of these kooks comes in to report something, it's almost always bullshit. How can they say these "upright citizens" aren't on the junk. All that happens is he humors these folks by "investigating" their wacky stories, and then nothing pans out. Then he's gotta go and fill out a bunch of bullshit paperwork and— ah, his agita.

[Tommy Lasorda hawking Rolaids was one of the pics that came up when I did a Google-image-search for agita. So I posted it. Why not.]

Fine, yeah, he'll just follow these two guys just a little ways just to humor the gal, get her off his back; but it ain't like he's gonna— huh, it looks like these two guys kidnapped the blind daughter of a tycoon and are now holding her hostage for ransom.


So, anyway, Calhoun and Joyce go and get themselves mixed up in uncovering the whole kidnap plot stuff. And then they, like, save the day and stuff. The End.

Although not as groundbreaking as some of the other docu-realistic police procedurals of the time, Union Station is an efficient, thrilling little film. And running at a brisk 80 minutes, it never overstays its welcome. This film is notable, incidentally, in being one of two noirs released in 1950 (the other being Sunset Boulevard) to feature William Holden and Nancy Olsen. So also has that going for it.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Movies I'm Anticipating: Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) [NSFW]

dir. Mark Hartley

From Mark Hartley (director of Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!—a documentary on Australian exploitation films of the 70s and 80s) comes Machete Maidens Unleashed!—a documentary on Filipino exploitation pictures of the 70s and 80s. If Machete Maidens Unleashed! is anything as entertaining as Hartley's previous doc, I'll no doubt have the thing memorized after repeated viewings. (You can check out some of my reviews on 70s Filipino exploitation here and here.)

[The trailer:]

Awesome Movie Trailers: Neighbors (1981)

dir. John G. Avildsen

Honestly, the reason I posted this is that I haven't seen the movie since I was an early teen and I've really been jonesing for it. Would it still hold up? Would I still dig it just as much as I did way back when? Who knows. The only way to find out is for someone to, for the love of fuck, release it on DVD or something. Let's make this happen.

[The trailer:]

Thursday, June 2, 2011

When Trailers Misrepresent: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

dir Stanley Kubrick

In a trailer containing most of the film's few dialogue scenes, an old-school-nature-documentary-style narrator tells us of the riveting story presented by Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey. He tells us of the drama and suspense (and, sure, wonderment type stuff) in the picture. He also explains everything about the monolith: what it does, who placed it there, what have you, etc. and the rest. Huh? Spelling everything out, this trailer is everything that the movie is not. In the film, Kubrick gives us the basic info, allowing us to suss out the meaning of it all. Of course, though not entirely comprehensible, much of the film can be understood by any reasonably intelligent person (other stuff...well, you gotta go to your buddy Dweezil's basement and listen to him tell you—between skull bong hits—what this movie, like, really means). Regardless, unlike the trailer, nothing is spoon-fed.

All that being said, I guess I can understand the studio's dilemma: how do you get a return on investment for a niche, big-budget, meditative, mind-fuck space opera? Advertising it like it's a standard space adventure doesn't seem like the smartest way to go, however. Sure you'll get a bigger draw the first weekend. But once the folks who came for a simple, explanatory movie realize they've been had, they'll spread bad word-of-mouth. (I should point out here, that I'm writing in generalizations, not specifically about 2001's performance at the box office—opening weekend or otherwise. I've just always been fascinated by Hollywood's history of producing misleading trailers.)

Quite honestly, this isn't even a bad trailer (the 1:50 point onward, in particular, is pretty amazing—and, for that matter, a more appropriate trailer for the film), it's just advertising a different movie. Hey, studio execs, when you pull shit like this, you ain't getting gonna get a bigger box office; you'll get pissed off movie-goers less willing to trust you. Fool me once, shame on someone; fool me twice, shame on someone else, I think. I don't quite remember the gist of that saying. Anyways, what was I— hey, is that a shiny new trailer over there? Me like movies. I'ma watch that; I'ma watch that real good. Damnit, I fell for that trick again.

[The trailer:]