Formerly "Dave's Blog About Movies and Such"

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 26 - The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

dir. Seth Gordon

I am joined by Alfred Schulz (@AlfredSchulz) for a discussion of the ridiculously entertaining documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Come One, Come All!

Alright, folks, here it is; here's what I was so coyly teasing all last week. I will be hosting my very own movie night at Brooklyn's premier nerd bar The Way Station. Hooray me. As a wise man once said: "This is my happening and it freaks me out!"

If you haven't yet been to The Way Station, this upcoming event will be a great time to check out my new favorite drinkin' spot. As of right now, we still don't know whether this will be a monthly or weekly event. We'll see how this first night goes and take it from there. Translation: Please, everyone, come and drink lots if you want me to be able to keep doing this.

Although future movie nights will focus almost exclusively on cinematic dreck, my first movie night will feature one movie that I consider a genuine masterpiece (Phantom of the Paradise) and another that, although wonderfully terrible, was Oscar nominated (Wild in the Streets). For my first event, though not required, I will highly encourage singing along—that is, if you know the songs. Also, you should get blotto. Don't worry; I'll have some drinking games for y'all, in case you forget how to drink.

Movie Night Date: Sunday, February 12
Start Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 683 Washington Ave (between St. Marks and Prospect Place)
Requirements: Bring your appetite for Sunday night-drinking.

First Feature: Wild in the Streets (1968)
dir. Barry Shear
Length: 97 minutes

Oh, you're in for a treat with our first feature, an anti-hippie propaganda piece that also functions as a rollicking youth revolt movie. Is this a good movie? Who's to say? It was nominated for an Oscar (Best Film Editing), if that's the kind of thing that interests you. Director Barry Shear's groundbreaking film posited a world in which the voting age has been lowered to fourteen. And instead of, you know, not voting because it's like totally boring and lame, the fictionalized youth in this movie send the messianic leader of a swinging rock band to the Oval Office—to the detriment of everyone over the age of 35. Come for the "you've been warned" lecturing; stay for the Dick Clark, Shelley Winters, Richard Pryor, and Hal Holbrook performances.

Second Feature: Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
dir. Brian De Palma
Length: 92 minutes
Start Time: Whenever the first feature ends. I gave you the start time of the event and the running time of Wild in the Streets, so you do the math.

Come see the movie the folks of Winnipeg (the only city that ever embraced Brian De Palma's best feature) deemed worthy of an annual Phantompalooza. As I mentioned on my podcast episode for Phantom of the Paradise, I want to create in New York the kind of following De Palma's feature has received from the generous Canadians. Not only is De Palma's Phantom of the Opera/Faust/The Picture of Dorian Gray rock-musical adaptation a genuine masterpiece, it is bursting at the seams with unapologetically catchy Paul Williams tunes. If you can leave this movie without at least one song stuck in your head, you don't like fun.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Smearing My Love on the Blogosphere (Week of Jan. 23)

Hey, folks, it's the end of the week so that means it's time once again spread the love and share with y'all some of my favorite pieces of writing from around the blogosphere this week. Without further ado:

Over at Self-Styled Siren a discussion of great line readings.

Stacia at She Blogged By Night dissects the career of Neil Diamond. Not movie-related but I don't care; this is good. By the way, this post is long, but well worth it.

John LaRue at The Droid You're Looking For made some beautiful fake Criterion covers for Coen brothers films.

Lauren at Man, I Love Films wrote a piece on movie remakes.

OK, this isn't necessarily a this-week kinda thing, but I wanna remind you once again to check out my friend Matt's web-comic The Man of Many Shades. It's that good.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's Coming

Yes, another teaser—for my New York readers, that is. I can't say exactly what kind of regularly scheduled live event is coming, but know that it will be the kind of earth-shaking occurrence that happens once in a lifetime—or monthly (or weekly) depending on scheduling.

What will this event be? Time will tell. And by time will tell, I mean you'll know in the next week or so. Just know that it involves me, movies, and Brooklyn's premier nerd bar, The Way Station. How awesomely nerdy is The Way Station? This is the entrance to their bathroom:

On a scale of very to extremely, how giddy are you with anticipation?

Friday, January 27, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 25 - Pulgasari

dir. Shin Sang-ok

Matt Jordan (@ItsMattJordan) and Russell Morgenstern (@Rusticles_noShi) join me to discuss Pulgasari, the monster movie that Kim Jong-il kidnapped a South Korean filmmaker to direct for him. Yes, that movie. You can listen to the episode here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Still Love All Your Comments

Unless you want to sell me dick pills.

As you'll see when you post comments here from now on, I have enabled comment moderation—meaning, when you post comments, they won't appear until I approve them. I didn't wanna do it, really I didn't. I felt like my readers would be put off to see that I now screen comments. Please know, however, that I really don't care what kind of comments you post here. I am a shameless whore for attention and I welcome every kind of comment. And I mean every kind: whether you love my posts or think I'm a completely ill-informed rube; if you wanna throw out a humorous non-sequitur; if you just wanna drop a quick "good post" or "this blows;" even if you want to explain your theory that Sanjaya is using my sentient penis to send you coded messages. I welcome it all. Really. So don't be discouraged from posting comments.

One thing I will not abide, however, is unscrupulous fly-by-night snake-oil-salesman websites from the wrong side of the internet tracks using my comments section as their own personal billboard. I really wouldn't have had to turn on comment moderation if I hadn't just been deluged lately with spam comments (sure, most of the comments have been on old posts no one reads anymore, but still; it's my fuckin' site). No, I don't care about embiggening my penis or joining your dating site.

If I had constant access to the internet I wouldn't have to turn on comment moderation. I'd go all ninja and slay those spam comments before they even drew breath. But alas, the combination of my job and the commute to get to my job keeps me away from the web 11 hours a day (Monday to Friday, that is). Which means that when the dick-pill people decide to use the comments section on my blog as their own free ad space, I have no way of finding out, nor doing anything about it until I get home.

By the way, as mentioned before, because I am away from the site for most of the day, I won't be able to approve comments until I get home from work. If you don't see your comments posted right away, worry not; I'll approve them as soon as possible. As always, I welcome and appreciate all comments. Nothing is changing.

Just keep your dick pills and dating tips to yourself.

Trailer Time: Day of the Dead (1985)

dir. George A. Romero

As I mentioned in my review of the Sleeper trailer, all you really gotta do to please me trailer-wise is add a nice framing device to your otherwise generic ad. As long as you put in a little effort, I'm happy. With the Day of the Dead trailer, those responsible succeeded with adequate colors. Using the now familiar trope of folks watching the movie the trailer is advertising, this particular preview throws a curveball, in that one of the members of the audience is a zombie. Oh, I see what you did there, trailer. Cute. (Incidentally, this zombie is made up to look like the star zombie of the movie Bub; but, as far as I can tell, this ain't Bub actor Sherman Howard under the makeup. Of course, I could be wrong.)

Anyway, when other folks in the theater realize they are sharing space with a member of the living dead, they decide the movie ain't worth it. Everyone leaves. (Side note: It strikes me that this ain't the best ad campaign. If you really wanna sell your movie, you'll inform the audience that your film is so good, you won't mind risking getting devoured by a flesh-hungry abomination until all that is holy, if it means a chance at finishing the film.) When knock-off Bub realizes he is alone, the familiar, playful ice-rink music from Dawn of the Dead kicks in.

This ain't the cleverest thing but it's cute enough. It did the trick for me. Still, it's a tad surprising that this trailer employs such a playful tone when the predecessor, Dawn of the Dead was actually the more purposefully comical film. With Day of the Dead Romero chose a more somber direction, and one would have thought the trailer would have reflected this. But still, it's good enough.

Yeah, good effort.

[The trailer:]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

After the Cameras Stopped: Groundhog Day (1993)

A while back I wanted to make some sort of list, so I thunk up a bunch of sweet happy-ending movies and then thought of ways to smear my feces on them—because, apparently the space in my chest where a heart should be pumping warm blood into my system, a troll is shitting lumps of coal. I thunk long and hard on some of these happy endings and pontificated a spell on what the unspoken ramifications were of such endings. In a nutshell: I wanted to see what happened after the cameras stopped, after the characters continued living their make-believe lives.

And then I realized: fuck the list; I can make this a recurring feature. Here's another entry.

Groundhog Day (1993)
Dir. Harold Ramis

The Story: Bill Murray stars as Phil Connors, a curmudgeonly weatherman who dreads Groundhog Day and the annual trek his news crew must make to Punxsutawney, PA to film a glorified rat leaving its hidey-hole. For reasons unknown, Phil becomes stuck in time: He is forced to continually relive the same day, seemingly for eternity. Despondent at first (he kills himself so many times), Phil soon learns to accept his situation. He uses the endless time to master multiple arts—card throwing, pianer playin', ice skulpting, medicine—and soon becomes an all around, generally decent guy. It is not until he beds Andie MacDowell—and also helps lots of people and whatnot—that the curse is lifted and he can experience a brand new day.

What Happened After the Cameras Stopped: A rift in the space-time continuum causes the Bill-Murray-must-repeat-the-same-day-over-and-over-again mechanism to once again kick in. The catch: This time he is cursed to relive the same day until he gets everything wrong. When he realizes he is yet again reliving the same day, he thinks, "No brainer, I done this shit before." He takes his time getting to know his surroundings and learning how to make right all the various possibilities of wrong that would have otherwise transpired.

His inability to stop the mechanism this time, however, leaves him despondent. He goes into an alcoholic tailspin. Not only is he not learning anything new, but now the booze is killing all memories he once had of performing various skills. He's a sponge soaking up knowledge: except instead of knowledge, booze; and instead of a sponge, his brain; and instead of soaking up knowledge, his brain is doing whatever the opposite of that is; also, he gets dumb...and ornery, really ornery. He grows to despise all of those around him. It is not until he is at his lowest point, when his self-hatred and general despondency become so palpable that he harms all with whom he comes into contact, that he is allowed to experience a new day.

Now, everyone just thinks he's an even bigger dick than he once was. His life isn't terrible after this, mind you; it's just that whenever he enters a room, other folks give each other knowing eye-rolls as if to say, "God, this guy. Can you believe this guy?"

But yeah, life is mostly as it was before Phil became decent. Same old, same old.

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Hero (1992)

dir. Stephen Frears

"Heart of a Hero" - Luther Vandross

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Trailer Time: Suspiria (1977)

dir. Dario Argento

[Sorry that so many of my blog posts of late have begun with an apology about the lack of a podcast episode, but what can I do—aside from, you know, getting episodes up on time? Once again, other folks' schedules failed to coincide with mine, so I couldn't record an episode for today. I'll try to get one done for Friday but I'm hesitant to promise anything. Don't think of this as me neglecting my podcast duties; think of me as the deadbeat dad you never had.]

“The only thing more terrifying than the last twelve minutes of Suspiria are the first 92.”
-Suspiria's tagline

It’s usually not a good sign when a film’s tagline is inaccurate. Usually. Even though Suspiria—at least the US version, for which this tagline was crafted—is only 92 minutes, I’ll let this slap-in-the-face-to-mathematics tagline slide. Hell, if Suspiria went on a cross-country meth-fueled crime spree, I’d still cut it some slack. (“You don’t know that Suspiria meant to do all those things. It was probably set up.”) Yes, as far as this movie is concerned, I’m the turning-a-blind-eye bad-decision-enabling parent. You can’t tell me my baby did something wrong. You don’t know Suspiria like I do.

To be honest, though, I don't even know if I'd still rank Suspiria as my favorite Dario Argento flick; but it is the one that broke my Argento cherry, so it'll always hold a special place for me. One thing's for sure, Suspiria is one of the most visually adventurous entries in the Italian gore god's catalogue. Which is why I’m a little let down by the trailer. It’s not bad, understand. No, it means well. It tries, really, it does. It just…I don’t know, after some of the recent trailers posted here on the ol’ KL5-FILM, Suspiria’s ad is slightly disappointing. It certainly doesn't reach the heights of, say, a To Live and Die L.A. trailer.

As with the Magic TV spot, new footage was filmed for Suspiria’s trailer (bonus points for doing this, of course). Unfortunately, the extra footage is slightly lackluster. We see the back of a woman's head as an arm—clearly not her own—brushes the hair. Over this image is set the haunting Goblin score, as a creepy-voiced woman speak-sings: "Roses are red/Violets are blue/But the Iris is a flower/That will mean the end of yooooouuuu." And then a second arm plants a flower in the hair before the woman turns around and...oh shit, that's a skull. That ain't no woman at all. After this opening, we are treated to various images from the film.

Again, I'm not knocking the trailer; I'd give it a B-minus for effort, but still. For such a visually inventive picture, the opening to this trailer is rather flat. Nevertheless the trailer as a whole does get some things right, at least tone-wise: Like the movie, it's bright, garish and loud. It's's just not enough of any of those things to make as truly memorable an impact as it should.

[The trailer:]

Monday, January 23, 2012

This Is What You'd Call a Teaser

Well, for my New York readers, anyway.

No date yet, but at some point soon there will begin a regular event (either weekly or monthly, details to be ironed out) involving me. And movies. And me. And alcohol. And me. And nerds. And me.

This anticipation must be killing you.

Hell Night (1981)

dir. Tom DeSimone

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

When Linda Blair became the voice of her generation after starring in the universally beloved, era-defining epic Roller Boogie, few would have assumed her new role carried with it such professional constraints. Unfortunately for the talented ingenue, Blair's name would become synonymous with the worst aspects of 70s roller disco excess. She could not escape the four-wheeled skate-shoe shadow. Every script, every offer, every chance of continuing her film career came at the expense of breaking free from the death grip that was the roller disco typecast. All she wanted was to branch out, to show her range.

And so, in an effort at rebranding, Blair took a huge risk and expressed interest in perhaps participating in the early eighties horror film Hell Night. Yes, horror was new to her, and acting in such a film would be a risky gamble—“hell” playing such a prominent role in the title, this film implied the occult, demonic forces—but Blair ignored the risks, the entreaties of her handlers; she would star in Hell Night. (Fun fact: After doing a little research, I discovered that, apparently, when Ms. Blair was but a struggling young actress she also appeared in an artsy-sounding non-roller-skate-containing movie about a Catholic priest with a crisis of faith. Boring.)

Roller Boogie star Linda Blair heads Hell Night's elite cast as Marti Gaines, a sorority pledge with plenty of car-fixing know-how. Huh, why did I mention her car-fixing skills? Seems a random character trait to bring up so early in the piece. It’s not like I’ll come back to that—like her car knowledge will come in handy later. Really, this is a strange piece of information to just throw out at you. Oh well.

["Oh my career."]

So, anyway, Roller Boogie star Linda Blair’s like joining a sorority and stuff, and also another girl is joining as well, oh and also some guys are also joining a related fraternity; and then so…so like every year, the frat like has this thing called "hell night" for new recruits where they lock fresh fish onto the gated Garth Manor grounds, a place that like had this murder situation a bunch of years back where this father went crazy because he like had a bunch of kids with birth defects and stuff; then he up and decided to, you know, do away with them and then…and so, anyway, like the frat locks up new recruits at the murder place to spend the night there, and so Roller Boogie star Linda Blair is stuck with three other people to spend the night there with:

British American Apparel Flapper Junkie (Suki Goodwin):

["I can't wait to regret this night. I'm sorry, we were talking about quaaludes?"]

Casey Affleck by way of Donny Osmond (Peter Barton):

["I'm brooding, yet wholesome."]

And Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’s Tom Roberts (Vincent Van Patten)

["Yep, I'm that guy."]

And then the people from the Manor who were supposed to be like dead, but weren't dead, start attacking and totally killing everyone (you know the drill), but then Rock 'n' Roll High School's Tom Roberts like climbs over the spiked gate and goes to try to get help, but he can't get help, so he goes back to the Manor with a gun to try to save everyone and—

You know what, I just gotta interrupt this. Somethin’s been gnawing at me. You see, while Roller Boogie star Linda Blair is ostensibly the star of Hell Night, by focusing so heavily, up until now, on Roller Boogie star Linda Blair’s arc I've buried the lead. And so, with apologies to Roller Boogie star Linda Blair, I must address the story of the unsung Surly Police Desk Clerk, briefly cameo’d near the end of the film—an untold tale of one man’s heart-breaking decline.

As mentioned before, near the end of the picture, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’s Tom Roberts manages to escape Garth Manor, whereupon he hightails it to the police station to get some help. There he is met be the incredulous, aforementioned Surly Police Desk Clerk. Now, Surly Police Desk Clerk don’t cotton to Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’s Tom Roberts’ ruckus-raisin’ fratboy ways and so gives the young man the heave-ho but good.

["Look, how many times I gotta tell ya, I really hate my job."]

Left with no other option, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’s Tom Robert’s walks into the nearby unlocked, open-door’d evidence room whereupon he grabs a shotgun—from one of the many lying on the table—and a bunch of shells; escapes through the window and makes it back to Garth Manor to help his acquaintances.

This is where Hell Night so bizarrely decided to abandon Surly Police Desk Clerk’s story. Ah, but this is where it just gets interesting.

Court Stenographer’s Transcription:

Prosecutor: And now, Surly Police Desk Clerk, if you would be so kind as to illustrate for the court, once again, what transpired on the night of the fifteenth.

Surly Police Desk Clerk: I told ya’, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’s Tom Roberts just up and shows up, all full a’ piss ‘n’ vinegar, going on about some murder or whatnot that was s'posed to've happened and—

Prosecutor: And the fact that he was raving like a man high to the gills on PCP, didn't alarm you?

Defense Lawyer: Objection. Leading question.

Judge: Sustained.

Prosecutor: Now, Surly Police Desk Clerk, when Rock 'n' Roll High School's Tom Roberts approached you, what was his state of mind?

Surly Police Desk Clerk: State of mind? How am I s'posed ta know that? I told ya, these damn kids pull these pranks every year. Dozens of 'em came in that night. How’s I ta know this one wasn't just joshin' me.

Prosecutor: And yet, knowing that these kids, drunk in most cases—or in Rock 'n' Roll High School's Tom Roberts' case, who knows what?—were to come in that night, you didn't think to lock the evidence room, or at least close the door?

Defense Lawyer: Objection. Irrelevant.

Judge: Overruled.

Surly Police Desk Clerk: I told ya, that wasn't my...Danny was s'posed to be in charge of the room that night. How's I ta know—

Prosecutor: Passing the buck. Go tell that to the victims' families.

Surly Police Desk Clerk: Now hold on a goddamn minute, you don't even know Rock 'n' Roll High School's Tom Roberts was responsible for the murders—or that it was our evidence gun what done it. You can't put that on me. That place was such a shit show when we got there—him among the dead, I might add—who's ta know what happened. If Roller Boogie star Linda Blair hadn't disappeared from town, she probably could've explained what happened. If ya ask me, maybe Rock 'n' Roll High School's Tom Roberts went there ta save 'em all, got licked; and Roller Boogie star Linda Blair, so spooked from what happened, decided to leave this town for good. I don't consider myself responsible for anything, exceptin' maybe avertin' a bigger massacre.

Prosecutor: Tell yourself that if it helps you sleep at night.

Defense Lawyer: Objection!

Surly Police Desk Clerk: Now you wait a goddamn minute!

Surly Police Desk Clerk jumps from his seat.

Judge: Order, order.

End of transcription.

Surly Police Desk Clerk's Obituary


As any resident of Anytown USA is well aware, tensions have long been high between the students of College and those the privileged ones have derisively referred to as townies. For evidence of the schism in the past few years, one did not need to luck any further than the furor that erupted over the firing of Surly Police Desk Clerk (46), a man forever associated with the Garth Manor murders. Although the crime would, for the most part, go unsolved, the students at College laid all blame on an ineffectual police force—and Surly Police Desk Clerk in particular.

Residents, however, pointed the finger at the unchecked, libertine ways of an over-privileged educated class. When Surly Police Desk Clerk was suspended from duty and incarcerated for two years, many townsfolk felt that the man was railroaded by a hamstrung police-force hoping to make good with the well-appointed College, an institution many recognize as being the largest economic factor in Anytown's survival.

"Them damn gold-spoon kids 's what's wrong with this town, ya ask me. None of this wouldn't've happened, had Mayor Thompson not been so scared of College. They just made an example of Surly Police Desk Clerk to keep them College folk happy. And you can quote me on that," came the not-unpopular-among-local-residents view from Nancy Peters, mother of two and lifetime resident of Anytown.

Odd Behavior

After an attempt to clear his name failed, Surly Police Desk Clerk became a man obsessed. "He just couldn't let it go. After he got out of jail, I told him he had to move on, get another job, forget about the past, but he couldn't...he...he was so focused. Once he set his mind to something, he couldn't let it go," sighed Surly Police Desk Clerk's widow (45). Surly Police Desk Clerk would continually vow to get justice against College, his own way if need be.

Surly Police Desk Clerk’s last interaction with College came on the night of May 10th, when he was sighted prowling the grounds in front of the hated fraternity he saw as responsible for his troubles. After an anonymous 911 call alerted the authorities to a stranger’s presence, the police arrived to find Surly Police Desk Clerk—inebriated, naked, and brandishing a shotgun—spying on the building.

"He wasn't happy so much anymore when he got out of jail," said Tony (8), Surly Police Desk Clerk's youngest son.

A Tragic End

"I should have spotted the warning signs sooner; I should have realized it...last week, on the day before...the day before it happened, he came back from the auto shop, going on about how the mechanic looked like those pictures he'd seen of Roller Boogie star Linda Blair—you know, from the missing person posters that were posted all over town back in the Garth Manor days. But when he talked about her, he wasn't angry like he usually was when raving about College; he seemed more...I don't know, detached." said the widow.

When Surly Police Desk Clerk's wife arrived home from shopping last Wednesday and heard the uninterrupted blare of her husband's car horn, she knew something was wrong. Leaving her groceries in the car, she rushed through the house and into the sealed garage where, to her horror, she discovered her husband, slumped over the steering wheel of his still-idling vehicle. Scotch-taped to Surly Police Desk Clerk’s chest was a torn sheet of loose-leaf paper to which the words “No Justice” were hastily scrawled in purple crayon.

Surly Police Desk Clerk is survived by his wife and three children.

Dave's Rating:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Smearing My Love on the Blogosphere (Week of Jan. 16)

Hey, folks, as I mentioned on a previous post, my New Year's Resolution was to become more involved in the blog community (i.e. read other people's blogs). As also mentioned before, I've kicked myself that I haven't gotten involved until recently. So many great movie writers out there, so little time. So, anyway, I thought I'd share with y'all some of my favorite works from around the blogoshere this week.

Over at The Droid You're Looking For, John LaRue wrote a piece examining—with actual data and whatnot—which movie genre outperforms expectations at the box office.

Corey Atad, over at JustAtad, had a great piece on movie cropping.

Over at The Mind Reels, a great piece on the ugly underbelly of fanboy culture.

Jessica, over at The Velvet Cafe, made a great suggestion for movie lovers who want to contribute to the medium they love.

Big Thoughts From a Small Mind's CS wrote about a traumatic experience that led him to be wary of certain movie scenes.

And finally, my friend Matt Ellis released the third issue of his amazing web-comic The Man of Many Shades.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Trailer Time (TV Spot Edition): Magic (1978)

dir. Richard Attenborough

"Abracadabra, I sit on his knee. Presto, change-o, and now he's me! Hocus Pocus, we take her to bed. Magic is fun...we're dead."

Thinking back on all the trailers I've posted on my blog, I realized that I've never discussed a TV spot (I didn't actually research this, but I'll take my memory's word for it). There's a reason for this. For the most part, TV spots are just shortened trailers. Compressing only the briefest glimpses of a film into a 30 second spot, a TV spot can sap even the mindless trailer of its already limited artistry. Sometimes, however, studios manage to take advantage of the shortened TV commercial format to craft pieces of advertisement every bit as interesting as some of the more memorably creative theatrical trailers.

The key in most cases is to forego showcasing film bits, and instead create a new piece. Such was the case with the TV spot for Richard Attenborough's creepathon Magic.

Let me just interject, first of all, that when I first saw Magic, it threw me for a loop. I went into it knowing next to nothing about the flick—exceptin' that it was a horror movie, Anthony Hopkins was in it, and he was a ventriloquist. Oh shit, a horror movie about a ventriloquist. I'm a get me some evil, possessed, killer-doll action up in this bitch. Oh wait, that's not what this is. This is actually much creepier. Oh God.

As mentioned earlier, Hopkins stars as a ventriloquist. The twist here is that, instead of his doll getting possessed, Hopkins succumbs to madness and allows the part of his brain responsible for crafting the personality of his morally vacant dummy Fats to completely take over, to the horror and not-continue-living-ness of those around him. Magic is a film with the power to unsettle and leave you not laughing. Pretty impressive for a movie not featuring Jeff Dunham. (Also, Jeff Dunham sucks. I sure showed— oh, hold on a second, topicality just called; I passed the statute of limitations on Jeff Dunham references.)

But where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking about Magic's TV spot. Anyway, this was pretty much the discussion behind the making of the below-embedded ad: "fuck it, let's just give every kid in America nightmares."

"Dan, I don't know if we can get away with this. I saw that spot you made for Magic. There's no way standards will let us show that on TV...where kids can see it."

"What? There's nothing wrong with it? There's no profanity, no nudity, no violence. Nothing."

"I know, but still. Jesus."

Hey, about those nightmares I just gave you from posting this TV spot; you're welcome.

[The trailer (seriously, how did this get on TV?):]

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trailer Time: To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

dir. William Friedkin

Many folks back in the day (and, hell, still now) bemoaned the MTV-ization of cinema: an over-reliance on empty, flashy imagery and epileptic seizure-inducing cuts, among other things. Although these complaints have merit, in that many movies became a tad cheapened and dumbed down in the wake of MTV, there's no doubting the power of such a technique, especially as regards the editing of trailers. And if you need an example of empty flash done right, look no further than the trailer to William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A.

Readers of my blog have no doubt realized by now that I've got much love for Friedkin's 80's, washed-in-neon thriller To Live and Die in L.A. And although the MTV style may have been over-used, or at least used inappropriately, in many an eighties film, it is the perfect complement to the trailer to Friedkin's picture. This mostly dialogue-free short film (yeah, when a trailer is this good, I'll call it a short film), is as good an advertisement as Friedkin's film could hope for.

After brief dialogue-free intros to the film's main characters, a story involving counterfeiting, chases, coolness, car chasing, and other coolness is established. As the trailer progresses, the cuts between images become quickened to the point of the subliminal. You could watch this trailer three or four times—and believe me, I have—and still not catch everything. It is a trailer that keeps on giving. Clearly cut by someone who cares.

The only missed opportunity here: A narrator reciting the following copy, "From director William Friedkin, the man who brought you The French Connection...and hey, remember that awesome chase scene from the director's previous thriller? Well, To Live and Die in L.A.'s car chase picks pieces of The French Connection's chase from its stool."

This trailer is my new boner pill.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Trailer Time: God Told Me To (1976)

dir. Larry Cohen

Ominous organ music, a star-filled sky, a narrator: "On December 25, 1953, a child is born, a virgin birth. Tomorrow, all civilization will tremble under his almighty power. He must be obeyed." An upside-down woman screams. Then, other cool, freaky images from the movie; culminating with a man in a hospital bed. A cop questions why he attacked a bunch of people, to which the man responds, "God told me to." Lightning, creepy hallway, fire, and the (now booming) narrator again: "God told me to."

After reviewing Larry Cohen's disappointing Special Effects, I decided to cleanse the palate with a Larry Cohen movie that I actually dig. Not that I was gonna rewatch another Cohen movie, mind you; I just wanted to sit back and think on other Cohen movies, and, perhaps, watch some trailers for those movies. I've been busy as a motherfucker lately, and don't have time to rewatch flicks. Hell, between my writing (both blog-wise and screenplay-wise) and podcast duties—and my full time job—I barely have time to watch the movies I cover for my blog.

So I watched a bunch of Cohen trailers, including the one for this post...the one you're reading right now, God Told Me To. If you haven't already seen this amazingly batshit movie, do yourself a favor and watch it immediately. If you don't believe me, watch this trailer. (Side note: I really gotta retire the word batshit; I use it far too often on the blog and podcast. Batshit.)

Seriously, after sitting through Special Effects, watching this trailer was like a well-deserved enema.

[The trailer:]

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Wonder Boys (2000)

dir. Curtis Hanson

"Things Have Changed" - Bob Dylan

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 24 - Special Effects

dir. Larry Cohen

On this rollicking episode—the very first three-way episode—Roger Snead, Matt Simpson and I discuss Larry Cohen's disappointing thriller Special Effects. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blind Spot Series: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

dir. Elia Kazan


A nearly shirtless, svelte young Brando screams the now famous line to the top floor of a New Orleans home. What intensity, what sexiness, what...holy shit, he was a wife-beater in this movie?

I am well aware that this admission makes me seem an uncultured rube, but: Going into A Streetcar Named Desire, I knew absolutely nothing about Elia Kazan's adaptation of the Tennessee Williams' play, except that Brando was once sexy, and in this movie he played a guy named Kowlaski who yelled "Stella" for some reason. Certain movie images, whether or not we've actually seen the specific films to which they're attached, are so indelibly ingrained in our collective memories, that they exist as entities unto themselves. I was shocked, shocked to learn what led to this scene.

Stanley Kowalski, an abusive drunk, upset that his wife Stella's (Kim Hunter) crazy sister Blanche (Vivien Leigh) has moved into their unhappy home, flies into a drunken rage and mercillesly beats Stella one night after she and Blanche interrupt his poker game one too many times. Blanche races with Stella upstairs to a sympathetic neighbor to hide from the feral animal downstairs. When the drunken Kowalski realizes he is alone, he runs outside and yells for his wife, who submits and returns to him.

Divorced from the context of the movie (meaning, just the image of sexy Brando yelling "Stella"), Brando's Kowalski here seems of a type with many of the heroes of romantic films we've been trained by Hollywood to root for. To someone not familiar with the movie, it would seem that a woman named Stella broke this fella's heart, and now the scorned man is trying to get her back. Obviously, however, this scene is a depressing example of a woman stuck in an abusive relationship, who returns to her abuser because she has no other options. Although Brando was going for terrifying, feral beast in this scene—as in much of the rest of this movie—divorced from the context of the film, he comes off as brooding and passionate cool.

[Who could say no to that chest?]

Now how can I state this in an intellectual manner? Kowalski is a piece of shit. How had I always been so wrong in my assumption of this character? Perhaps it's because of the Brando I had come to know and disrespect from my youth: the "fuck it, I'm a let myself go; I'm the king of awesome-town" ego-out-of-control, batshit Brando. The Brando I became acquainted with in my lifetime was the ego-maniac who ruined otherwise great movies (The Missouri Breaks, Apocalypse Now), with his batshit acting choices and disregard for direction. In that context, when I first saw the famous "Stella" clip, I thought Brando looked kinda cool once upon a time. Because, if hollywood has taught us anything it's that glistening hardbody in a tight ripped t-shirt = sexy, super fucking awesome. Why would a cool looking person be not awesome?

[I'm sure had Kowalski looked like one of these guys, my Pavlovian-trained brain would have reacted to the "Stella" scene more appropriately—it certainly would have made for a more cathartic end for the character.]

Perhaps my miscalculation of Brando's Streetcar character was borne of the mythos that had developed around the young Brando (that is, in addition to my never having seen the movie). It is easy to forget what a revelation his acting technique was when unleashed on the world. The Method-trained Brando brought a hyper-naturalistic quality to the picture, introducing audiences to a sort of acting realism theretofore unknown.

And indeed, even after all these years, and subsequent honing of naturalistic techniques by numerous acting descendants, Brando's performance here is still stunning. Whereas most of the other performers in Streetcar turn in theatricalthough no less riveting—performances, Brando seems to be in another movie. It is a completely unself-conscious performance that conveys a sort of heightened reality. Though Brando's style would later become the norm, here it was the exception.

Whenever I had previously seen the clip of Brando yelling "Stella," it was always in the context of scholars and actors (rightfully) fawning over the young actor's technique. I guess I had always gotten the wires crossed and transferred this fawning over the actor to fawning over the character. When Richard Safarian named the outlaw rebel hero of Vanishing Point Kowalski, he wasn't so much hearkening back to Brando's character in Streetcar as to the Brando mystique. (If he actually did mean to romantisice the Kowalski character, however...fuck you Safarian; that's all I'd have to say about that.)

I should probably introduce y'all to this little Blind Spot series of mine—that is, if you haven't already seen my previous post introducing the series. When I decided to tackle this project, I picked reviewin' movies that, obviously, I felt I should be ashamed to admit I'd never seen. Now, some of these flicks had been on my to-see list for some time and I just never got around to them, but the majority were films I thought would be chores. Such was A Streetcar Named Desire. Before folks berate me, let me explain: I ain't a play person. Well, that entirely true. More accurately, I ain't a movies-adapted-from-plays person. What works on the stage rarely translates well to the screen. Sure, you can call me a sub-literate chimp, but me no like the talk so much when movies should be action more of.

Now, Elia Kazan's adaptation of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire almost avoids the pitfalls suffered by other play-to-movie adaptations. Almost. There's still too much dialogue here for my taste, but the actors (Brando in particular, as mentioned before; did you read all the previous paragraphs?) give such powerhouse performances that I sometimes forgot I was listening to characters talk and talk and talk. But yeah, this movie...real good.

I realize I haven't discussed the movie much but fuck it. Others folk have already critiqued Streetcar to death. That's not what I'm here for. I'm just hoping to elucidate for y'all what it was like for me to lose my Streetcar cherry.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Friday, January 13, 2012

MOTM: The Evil Dead (1981)

dir. Sam Raimi

[This review is part of the LAMB's Movie of the Month Series.]

Fans of my podcast (sure, I'll say my podcast has fans. Why not?) have asked me why I have yet to do a debate episode. Why do my podcasts have to be so lovey-dovey and damn agreeable? Why can't I ever get into a heated argument with my guests? Well, part of the reason is that I'm afraid of conflict. I've always been a "why can't everybody just get along" kind of a guy. The reason for this: I don't know. Well, actually, maybe I do know. But that specific issue is a topic for another unnecessarily long blog post. Just know that I am working on being a more argumentative person (that's probably a phrase you don't hear too often).

The other, bigger reason I have yet to do a debate episode is that my podcast guests always happen to choose movies of whose merits (or lack thereof) we are in agreeance. My writing partner, and regular guest, Roger and I have been bashing our heads trying to find a movie that we disagree on. We really do want to argue for y'all, partly to help me overcome my issue, but mostly because we want to make a dramatic podcast episode—conflict's entertaining. But it's been damn hard. The thing that makes us such great writing partners (our in-tune thinking) is also the thing that keeps our episodes from turning into Siskel and Ebert level bitch fests. We really can't find movies that inspire debate.

Of course, film is about the only artistic form where we find so much common ground. Our biggest source of disagreeablishness: Music. Although I dig the technically accomplished musicianship and/or polished studio recordings of such folks as Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, and The Beatles; to my writing partner, such acts are homework. He feels like he's listening to math. Such groups either care only about technique, or work so meticulously on the production of their recordings that the resultant work is soulless, overly polished and clinical: all emotion, all personality sapped, as if from an accountant vampire.

Roger would much rather listen to messier, dirtier music: The Rolling Stones, The Stooges, most punk. The thing is, I actually dig this music as well. I have a thing for both polished musicianship/studio-craft and sloppy, heartfelt dirty rock. In fact, in my winamp playlist right now are albums by both Steely Dan and The Stooges (yes, I'm the last person still using winamp).

Although I understand and sympathize with complaints when it comes to a group like Steely Dan, I can't help but be sucked in by the very qualities most folks abhor: clinically precise, finely honed, smooth musicianship. What it all boils down to for me is work ethic. If I can tell that an artist put a lot of effort into honing his skills and crafting a song, film, novel, or what have you; I'm satisfied. And yet, as I stated earlier, I love both sides of the coin. I will just as easily fall in love with a sloppy piece of music, just so long as the passion is there. I am simultaneously in awe of perfection and the DIY ethos of punk. (By the way, Roger, I hope I didn't misrepresent your point of view here. Please make a comment if you think I did. God, look at me being all conciliatory. So pathetic.)

Perhaps this dichotomy is why the first entry has always been my favorite installment of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy. It's the best of both worlds. I know most folks count the second Evil Dead movie as Sam Saimi's crowning achievement but the first Evil Dead is the one I've most revisited. The Evil Dead is the sometimes sloppy DIY product of an insane work ethic. By the time Raimi made The Evil Dead 2, he'd learned from his mistakes and produced a much more polished piece; but with the first movie, the warts are just as endearing as the achievements.

(I'm going to assume y'all have already seen this classic so I'll forego my usual plot write-up. Just know that a group of youngers—Ash (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), Scott (Richard DeManincor), Shelly (Theresa Tilly), and Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss)—heads to a cabin in the woods, folks started getting possessed, gore/mishigas ensues.)

Anyone doubting the passion and work ethic of Raimi need only learn that it took the director one and a half years to film his movie. When so many horror peers at the time were willing to quickly churn out disposable gore for the insatiable masses, Raimi approached this project the way Dennis Wilson approached Pet Sounds—sans the big-budget accouterments the bathroom-robed one enjoyed for his masterpiece, of course. Everything had to be perfect. This would be Raimi's calling card, after all.

And where perfection eluded the director, the ensuing mistakes were still indicative of a grand vision. I dig the fact that the inexperienced Raimi did all the things no professional filmmaker would have done. When Bruce Campbell's Ash needed to attack a deadite, Sam Raimi had the actor fire an actual shotgun through an actual window...instead of, you know, firing a blank in the direction of breakaway sugar glass triggered to shatter. Raimi didn't realize that, you know, you shouldn't put your cast in crew in danger of getting cut by glass know, accidentally shot. He wanted Ash to fire through a window, so Ash fired through a window. He needed this image for the movie, so he made it happen, logic and safety be damned.

So dedicated to crafting an expert film was Raimi that he even learned to make mistakes work for him. During the finale, after Ash has thrown the demon-producing "Book of the Dead" into a fireplace, killing off the deadites, the effects team went hog wild, throwing everything at the audience. Raimi even employed a tricky matte-shot, which, in effect, allowed him to incorporate a shot-by-shot animated sequence in the same frame as a live-action sequence. Because, during the course of the shoot, the camera shifted slightly a few times, there are moments when the matte shot is thrown out of alignment. Although such hazards are par for the course in low-budget filmmaking, and most folks in Raimi's position would be content to let that shit fly as is; Raimi decided to make it work for him. During the moments of matte misalignment, Raimi had the sound effects crew add slight, jarring, screeching noises—as if matte defect were intentional. The effect is to add another layer to the seemingly intentional chaos. Honestly, this effect is almost subliminal. Had I not been such an Evil Dead fanatic, I probably never would have caught this. But this is precisely who Raimi tailored such efforts toward: the viewers who care.

For an even more stunning example of Raimi's ethos (or disregard for actors, more likely) at work, however, look no further than the "eviling of the ankle" scene. In this brief shot, Linda's ankle, pencil-stabbed by deadite Cheryl, quickly becomes possessed, lightning veins radiating from the puncture. To capture this effect, Raimi employed live animation: the actress held her foot still for endless hours as the crew meticulously added, bit by bit, darkened veins on the ankle; and Raimi shot frame by frame each new addition. Sure you could short-cut such a scene (and Raimi would in the sequel's re-imagining of the event) but it'll lack the scrappy DIY quality present here. My hat's off to all involved, especially the actress, for enduring such tedium. Pretty serious dedication for the cast and crew of a disposable gore movie. What can I say? Pointless work amuses me—hence my movie blog.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 23 - TrollHunter

dir. Andre Ovredal

Roger Snead and I profess our love for TrollHunter and also Scandinavian cinema in general. You can listen to the episode here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Trailer Time: Sleeper (1973)

dir. Woody Allen

After yesterday's laff-riot of a post on Bonnie and Clyde's trailer I figured I'd go for a more straightforward write-up for the trailer to Woody Allen's Sleeper—one of my favorite efforts from the now-creepy auteur's golden age, the seventies.

As mentioned before, I've bemoaned the loss of clever—or, hell, just plain humorous—comedy trailers. Most modern comedy trailers simply act as clip pieces, showcasing the funniest bits from the movies they're advertising. Although Allen's Sleeper trailer isn't immune to this trait it at least packages the goods in a humorous framing device: Aping some of the more self-important trailers for prestige pictures from Hollywood's golden age, this mini-movie opens on Allen working at a film editing bay. An excited narrator interrupts the director, "Excuse me, Mr. Allen, is that you're new movie you're working on?"

The director shrugs and replies, "This? No."

From here the trailer cuts to various clips as Allen describes the movie as an intellectual enterprise for highbrow audiences, the slapstick images belying his assertions. Sure, the trailer ain't the cleverest premise, nor done in the most amusing way possible, but at least there was a premise to the trailer. It acted as its own short film, however rushed the idea or execution.

The important thing to note here is that at least some thought, some effort went into advertising the picture. It wasn't a strictly mercenary effort. To the thousands of industry execs who read my blog, all I'm saying is, we moviegoers ask that you at least put in the bare minimum of effort. If you can at least pretend that you're not just grudgingly going through the motions so as to ensure the minimum number of tickets sold that will allow you to meet the bottom line; it'll go a long way toward engendering good will in your potential audience.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Trailer Time: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

dir. Arthur Penn

“He used to be such a good boy.” Production Code’s fingers trembled as he lifted his tear-stained hankie to his nose. “Motion Picture used to mow the lawn, he used to be full of good old fashioned American values, he…I don’t know what happened.”

“There, there now—don’t go blaming yourself there, boyo.” Empty consolation from Hays, Production Code’s longtime pal, as he edged his wiry frame toward the liquor cabinet. “Another belt of Scotch?”

Production Code gave his trembling hand another look before answering, “I really shouldn’t—it being so early and all—but I just gotta…”

“Calm the nerves, boyo; that’s what I always say. Calm the nerves. Ain’t nothing wrong with you that Mr. Walker can’t cure.”

No sooner had Hays returned to the table with the full glass, then did Production Code swipe it and take another hefty swig. “Sorry, I…I-I just really needed that.”

“Quite alright, boyo; quite alright. Now how long—you said Motion Picture’s been in trouble before?”

“He’s never not been in trouble—'sfar back as I can remember anyway. And then some.”

“As far back as you can remember?”

A defeated sigh from Production Code, “I'm not his real father. Don’t know who is to be perfectly honest. He was a wild child: found in the wild when he was found. Feral to beat the bend. Used to associate with opium addicts, women of loose morals, gangsters, and, hell, even partial nudity.”

Hays leaned back in his chair and, with a wistful sigh, reminisced, “I remember when partial nudity used to roam these parts.”

“Anyway, after he was discovered, he was placed in my care. They thought he could be civilized; they thought I could be the one to do it; and I was damn fool enough to believe them. I don’t know; maybe it was a fool’s errand but I tried, damnit. Damnit, I tried. And I tell you it worked—for a while. He cleaned up his act. But then…but then his new friend Television started getting all the attention, all the girls. There was no way he could compete with such a cheap, easy, flashy guy like that. He started acting up.”

“Say what you want about Television, but he’s still a good ol’ American boy with good ol' American values. If you ask me it’s those loose-moraled Europeans who moved down the street and what he’s spending so much time with.”

“Maybe. But I tell ya, the more and more I think about it, the more and more I gotta put the blame where it belongs.” Production Code extended his index finger toward himself.

“Hey, come now. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Why you’re a single p—"

“Hey, hey I don’t need your sympathy; I need tough love. And it’s also what I should’ve been giving him. He kept testing me, and testing me, and testing me. Kept pushing the boundaries. Everytime he asked for an inch I gave him a mile. I thought: maybe if I give him this, he’ll like me; he’ll be sated. Nothing can sate him. I’ve given up so much in this fight I don’t even know up from down anymore.

"I told him he could experiment with drugs; he became a full-blown smack addict. I told him he could see girls; not only did he engage in premarital sex, he then got married just so he could get divorced. I told him he could experiment with crime; now he’s spending all his time with his new girlfriend robbing banks. Hell, I even told him he was allowed to kill people. Now, I told him I can see him shoot the gun, and separately I can see the other guy get shot; but I told him I don’t ever wanna be able to see him shooting a guy as the guy he’s shooting is getting shot—in front of me. That’s my one stipulation. This seems about the only rule he hasn’t broken yet.”

“Maybe you aren’t the best parent.”

The squeal of tires outside. Production Code knew the sound of this car, “Stepson!”

Production Code hopped from his chair, flew through the front door and jumped onto the running board of Motion Picture’s oncoming car. Production Code gave his stepson a pleading look as he gazed in through the car window. Motion Picture shot back a menacing grin before raising his pistol.

“Stepson, I beg you. Look into your heart.”

“What heart?”


Production Code’s limp body fell from the car, rolling three times on the neighbor’s lawn. Production Code released a tortured breath as the light in his eyes faded, before pleading with the Heavens, “Mother of mercy, is this the end of Production Code?”

[Motion Picture’s crime was celebrated in this, the trailer to his exploits. His final brutal slaughter of his stepfather Production Code—in which he broke Production Code’s final rule—is glorified at the end of this trailer:]

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: A Bug's Life (1998)

dir. John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton

"The Time of Your Life" - Randy Newman

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 22: Conan the Destroyer

dir. Richard Fleischer

My brother John and I discuss Conan the Destroyer, a movie we saw far too often as kids. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

After the Cameras Stopped: Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

Ok, I didn't get a chance to watch a blog movie this week. Not that I didn't watch any movies, mind you, just no blog reviewin' movies. You see, the podcast (you can download episodes here, and on itunes, and I’m a shameless whore), rewarding and satisfying though it may be, has a love affair with devouring all of my spare time—when I can get guests with whom to podcast, that is. And seeing as I’ve had to contend with some fallow weeks recently, I never hesitate to jump at the chance to record multiple episodes when folks’ schedules happily coincide with mine. And this past week just happened to be the week that folks’ schedules were coinciding with mine like a motherfucker. I couldn’t say no.

So I watched podcast movie after podcast movie after podcast movie, and not else. But even though I couldn’t watch a reviewin’ movie, I still wanted to craft at least a little written something for all you fine folks. I make it a point to not skip my writing duties if at all possible.

I wanted to make some sort of list, so I thunk up a bunch of sweet happy-ending movies and then thought of ways to smear my feces on them—because, apparently the space in my chest where a heart should be pumping warm blood into my system, a troll is shitting lumps of coal. I thunk long and hard on some of these happy endings and pontificated a spell on what the unspoken ramifications were of such endings. In a nutshell: I wanted to see what happened after the cameras stopped, after the characters continued living their make believe lives.

And then I realized: fuck the list; I can make this a recurring feature. Here's the first entry.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1989)
dir. John Hughes

The Story: In this heartwarming holiday tale John Candy's Del Griffith is the thorn in the side of businessman Neal Page (Steve Martin), a devoted father and husband just trying to get home to see his family for Thanksgiving. When their plane gets diverted, Del and Neal band together to find a way home. After a series of circumstances, hijinks, and whatnot, the two finally make it to within commuter train distance of Neal Page's house. They say good bye, and then Neal has an epiphany that Del is actually homeless. He goes back to the train station, and picks up Del to invite him to casa Page for Thanksgiving dinner.

What Happened After the Cameras Stopped: The Pages take in the kindly Griffith who, at first, fills their staid lives with warmth and fun. Sure he can be frustrating at times, but he never fails to teach the Pages invaluable life lessons. Eventually, however, the Pages grow tired of Del's clinginess. The man just can't take a hint; alone time means no Del time.

In an effort to get Del out of the house, the Pages land Del a job at a curtain ring warehouse. Predictably, Del shows up to work drunk, sobbing about his departed wife. The foreman complains that Del is not acting like a professional and the two have a row, a jolly good row indeed.

Just when the Pages hoped they were rid of Del, the lifeline to pay for the new apartment that was the income of the job Del just landed has now evaporated. The Pages are stuck with him, and have now grown more than tired of the leech's antics. The leech soon grows tired of shaving, bathing, leaving the house, not being drunk and yelling at the TV at three in the goddamn morning while other folks are trying to get some sleep to get up in the morning to go to their jobs which..."hey, Del, you remember what a job is? It was that thing we gave you but you fucked up, and now you're drunk and yelling at the TV at three in the goddamn morning while..."

And then things starts getting weird.

["What? This? What is this? I…Huh, I didn’t realize I had this in my hand. I...uh, I oh, don’t even know where this came from. Don’t worry about me, I'll, just get back to your shower....Oh, you want me to leave the room? Oh, you mean now.”]

The Pages grow scared of Del. They try to call the cops, but the phone lines have been severed. They try to leave the house, but all exits have been blocked. Del is holding them prisoner. Just when...

Actually, this one got a little too weird, even for me; I'll just end it here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Blind Spot Series

[Hey, folks, sorry again about the lack of a second podcast this week. It's been tough scheduling recordings. Hopefully (keeping my fingers crossed) I'll be able to record a shitload within the next seven days, and will soon be able to return to my two-a-week schedule. In the meantime I've got something else for y'all...]

Seeing as motivation and I are not the greatest friends I decided to get me one of them thar New Year's resolutions the people seem to enjoy so well. So this year, I decided to become more active in the blogging community. Sometimes I forget that the world doesn't revolve around me, and that there's a whole world of wonderful movie writing out there just waiting for me to explore.

In the process of browsing numerous great blogs, I came across the site Toronto Screen Shots and James McNally's post on cinematic blind spots. For this series, James will watch and review, throughout 2012, 12 blind spot movies—movies that it would seem every film geek should have seen but he had somehow missed. And every film geek has these blind spot movies, no matter how much we'd like to deny it.

Well, I thought, that's a durn good idea. I'm gonna steal that. Yep, I'm gonna watch and review a different blind spot movie each month of 2012. So, without further adieu, here is a list of 12 of my blind spot movies:

Dances with Wolves
An American In Paris
Cleo from 5 to 7
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
A Streetcar Named Desire
The Red Shoes
Last Tango in Paris
Grey Gardens
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Husbands and Wives
Top Gun
Withnail and I

By the way, the order that these films appear here does not necessarily reflect the order in which I'll watch them. That will all depend on how I goddamn feel each month. Also, I reserve the right to change this list depending on movie availability.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Trailer Time: Conan the Barbarian (1982)

dir. John Milius

Few things are as mind-boggling as the success of Austrian strongman Arnold Schwarzenegger as an actor. That a man with such a bizarre last name, who could neither act nor talk, became one of the biggest box office draws of the eighties, either speaks well of the anyone-can-make-it American Dream or is further proof of the decline of Western Civilization. All the man had going for him was the physique of a comic book superhero. And...actually, I take it all back; his American super-stardom makes perfect sense.

Back when Ahnold filmed John Milius' raging boner of an ode to war/machismo/ get the idea, the man was still far from being a household name. It was a bit of a gamble to star him in this picture. So the dilemma facing the producers when advertising this picture was an obvious one. The man's the star of the picture, but we don't wanna deter people from wanting to see the movie. What do we do?

So what's in the trailer? Other characters talking, Ahnold being shirtless and doing shirtless stuff, and lots of action. You know what you don't hear in this trailer? Ahnold. That's right. There was no way the studio would risk their investment by letting folks hear the strongman attempt to speak. Damn, this guy's got one thing going for him; we've got to play that shit to the hilt.

Gee, I don't know why they were so afraid of letting potential viewers hear the man talk.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Monsters, Inc. (2001)

dir. Pete Docter, David Silverman and Lee Unkrich

"If I Didn't Have You" - Billy Crystal and John Goodman (written by Randy Newman)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 21 - Slugs: The Movie

dir. Juan Piquer Simon

Roger Snead and I discuss the killer slugs movie Slugs: The Movie. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

dir. Edward L. Cahn

OK, let's just get this out of the way: I ain't a sci-fi guy. Sure I've mentioned this many a time on the blog, but I feel it bears repeating. If some newcomers happen to stumble upon this review—no knowledge of my disinterest in this genre—and decide that I'm being a bit unfair, harsh, or what have you; they will not, at least, be able to accuse of me of failing to lay all my cards on the table.

So now that that's out of the way, let's dig in. I quite enjoyed It! The Terror from Beyond Space (Oh shit, see what I did there). Then again, It! The Terror from Beyond Space (yes, you’re goddamn right I’m gonna use the full title every time I refer to this movie), despite its space-and-rocket trappings, ain’t nothing more than a good ol’ fashioned monster movie. No sci-fi movie is this, which may be why I dug it so (oh, and I switched it up again).

Astronaut Ed Carruthers has gotten himself into a dilly of pickle. You see, he went and did a silly little thing. Well, now, what happened of the Martians on the planet (Mars) Ed and his crew were visiting, he had a sort of...well, he went a little funny in the know...just a little...funny. And uh...this Martian went and did a silly thing. He killed all of Carruthers' crew and now the Government thinks Ed iced those bitches.

[Artist's rendition of a rocket on Mars. "Artist" being used lightly here, of course.]

The US sends another crew to Mars, this time to haul Carutthers back to Earth for a court-martial.

[I don't really have a joke here. I just wanted to point out that, yes, the space program did in fact send two women on the trip just to serve coffee to the men on board. Really.]

["I gotta say, men, I couldn't be happier the higher ups sprung for dramatic lighting on this rocket."]

["But would it have killed them to install windows that didn't look like 50s era TV sets."

"But, sir, this is the 50s."

"No, it's not. Did you read the script? This picture takes place in the early 70s."

"But, sir, you're not supposed to break character."

"Break character? Look who's talking; you're the dolt who didn't realize what goddamn year the movie you're in is taking place."]

Just as the spaceship is about to leave Mars' gravity, however, the Martian monster hops on, and...well, you know the rest. The fighting and the chasing and the not dying of the Martian all start to happen. No matter what gets thrown its way, and I mean no matter what, this martian will not stop living. The astronauts bombard this beast with every weapon at their disposal: grenades, bullets, poison gas, a bazooka, and nuclear fucking radiation—because this is the shit you bring with you when you go to space.

[Check it out, grenades in space.]

["Gas? Seriously? Did you guys see what happened when you used grenades on me? Why don't you just play footsie."]

["I don't go to space less'n I'm strapped."]

[Yep, leaking radiation out of the ship's nuclear reactor will only affect the adjacent room. Because that's how stuff works.]

A couple of astronauts even try to sneak up on the monster by exiting the ship and re-entering at a lower level, one floor below the beast.

[This spaceship is traveling through the Batman dimension. (Ok, I'll admit that the reason I included such a dated reference—aside from the fact that my pop culture frame of reference is about fifteen years prior to my birth—is for the confused reactions of younger readers who are now asking themselves, "Wait, when did Christian Bale walk upright along the side of a wall?")]

And then when all else fails, the folks strap on their space-suits, open the rocket door, and hold on tight as the air gets hoovered out of the ship.

[Boring. They already did that shit in the Alien movies.]

It! The Terror from Beyond Space falls into that most esteemed category: the hokey, “step right up, folks” William Castle-esque mini spectacle. As you know from reading this blog, I am especially fond of the carnival barker salesmanship of these movies. As the poster for It! The Terror from Beyond Space states, the monster contained in this movie is a "revelation shocker of things to come!" And the studio even offered a $50,000 reward to the first citizen who could prove that a below-guild waged, disgruntled stuntman in a bargain basement, poorly ventilated, hokey monster costume was not at that moment running amok on Mars. And the company even got a legitimate insurance company to back it up (which I'm 100% positive is absolutely true). When supposedly great Oscar-baiting prestige films start offering cash rewards to their viewers, I'll start watching them.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating: