Have a good Turkey Day and try not to fight with any lawn chairs!
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Monday, November 20, 2017
While editing the most recent episode of The Bloody Pit I was reminded of how much I love the soundtrack music composed by the great Jerry Goldsmith. In the show I mentioned his amazing PLANET OF THE APES (1968) score and his award winning music for THE OMEN (1976) but he wrote so many incredible pieces of music I forgot about his work on ALIEN (1979). I really don't think that film would have had it's massive cinema altering influence without his score. Goldsmith was so talented that I often find that his music was the only thing I liked about some movies. The man was a genius!
Saturday, November 18, 2017
This might be the episode of the show recorded in the strangest fashion. This past summer Mark Maddox and I attended G-Fest in Chicago. Because Mark totes his work to such events this required a road trip in which hours of time would be spent in each other's company. The fear that we might visit violence upon each other meant that I thought it might be a good idea to record what occurred in the car just in case the police became involved. Luckily, all went smoothly, probably because I kept feeding Mark donuts laced with Xanex. Don't tell him!
So, if you've ever wondered what it might be like to be trapped in a moving car with me and Mark this podcast will answer your questions. (Why anyone would be curious about this is beyond me.) Showing just how strange we are, the topic of conversation ranges from the music of Akira Ifakube, 1960's Irwin Allen television series, Dean Martin, Dr. Phibes, Day of the Triffids and our puzzlement about the MPAA's film rating standards. I include a few music cues from the shows and movies we discuss to add some texture beyond just hearing the car beep and the GPS tell us about traffic problems. And, near the end, you will hear Mark admit that the two of agree on so many things that the episode might not be very interesting to listeners who want us to yell at each other. I'll leave that judgment up to you.
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Thursday, November 16, 2017
BLADE RUNNER 2049 is one of my favorite movies of the year. Of course, I'm pretty clearly the target audience for it as I've loved the original for more than thirty years and have watched various versions of that 1982 film more than 50 times. Strangely, I must admit, I might like this sequel better than the first film. I'm not sure if that is because, having been so familiar with the earlier movie, it's much easier to let this film wash over me and tell it's story without skewed expectations for what it will be but it's likely. For me, BR2049 feels like a perfect tonal and thematic continuation of the original, shifting the larger question asked from 'What is Human' to 'Do memories make us Human'. It even asks the question of what it means to know our past is a lie but to have nothing else to hold on to give us a sense of self. And it does all this within the context of a mystery tied to both the past and an uncertain future.
I've come to the realization that if Matthew Vaughn makes a film I'm going to probably love it. Because KINGSMEN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE is a sequel I fully expected it to be the least of his six films as director but it was just as unexpectedly brilliant and outrageous as the first film. It's only crimes were a lack of freshness that is somewhat unavoidable in a follow up and the pretty silly resurrection of a key character offed in the original. Both crimes are forgiven! I had a goofy smile plastered on my face for the duration of this funny, dirty, hyperkinetic spy adventure. These movies are exactly the kind of film Bond fans dreamed up in their kinkiest, most over the top imaginings. If you liked the first film you'll get a lot of joy out of this one too.
What do you get when you cross the comedy GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) with the film noir D.O.A. (1949)? HAPPY DEATH DAY! In this comedic horror film we meet a college student suffering through a birthday so bad that it ends in her being brutally murdered. The twist is that she keeps reliving this crappy day over and over with each new variation ending in her demise no matter what she does to prevent it. She goes from puzzled to disbelieving to angry to disheartened to defiant as she attempts to discover who the masked person is that hates her enough to hunt her down repeatedly. This isn't a great movie but it is very well done, quite funny and very well played by Jessica Rothe in the lead role. She is onscreen for 95% of the running time and has to make us believe that this spoiled, unlikable sorority girl can become a better person as she travels through her painful adventure. She does an admirable job and I liked the eventual answer to the mystery as well. This is a fun horror film!
THE WITCH'S CURSE (1962) - 6 (Maciste in Scotland and Hell)
ONE DARK NIGHT (1982)- 6 (rewatch of a better print)
SWEET HOME (2015) - 6 (Spanish horror film)
KISS OF THE TARANTULA (1976)- 5 (not bad low budget shocker)
THE HOWLING (1981) - 9 (rewatch)
ONE MYSTERIOUS NIGHT (1944) - 5 (OK Boston Blackie film)
KINGSMEN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017) - 8
THE MUTILATOR (1984) - 3 (low budget slasher)
SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE (2011) - 3 (lame supernatural horror)
HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945)- 6 (rewatch)
BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017) - 9
MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN (1960) - 8 (rewatch)
SON OF DRACULA (1943) - 6 (rewatch)
BODY BAGS (1993) - 7 (rewatch)
THE WITCH (2016)- 8 (rewatch)
THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (1984) - 8 (rewatch)
THE MARK OF THE WEREWOLF (1968) - 6 (rewatch of the Spanish version)
THE MAN WHO CHANGED HIS MIND (1936)- 6 (rewatch)
THE CURSE (1987)- 3
CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1973)- 6 (rewatch)
HACK-O-LANTERN (1988) - 3 (terrible slasher/satanist tale)
HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017) - 7
RED CLOVER (2012) - 4 (Leprechaun monster horror tale)
MARK OF THE DEVIL (1970)- 6 (rewatch)
HALLOWEEN (1978)- 10 (rewatch)
DRACULA'S DAUGHTER (1936) - 7 (rewatch)
MIDNIGHT OFFERINGS (1981) - 6 (TV movie about high school witches)
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) - 8 (rewatch)
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
I'm not sure how I missed this amazing parody until now but this is hysterical! It really had me fooled for a couple of minutes simply because Universal screwed up the release of this film so badly I could easily imagine them creating a toy line. After all, there were toys for the similarly R rated and grotesque ALIEN (1979) so why not for this? Well done.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
A young man is driving in the French countryside at night when he spots a beautiful woman (Brigitte Lahaie), dressed only in a nightgown, standing in the road. She tells the driver her name is Elisabeth but seems confused and frightened. She insists someone is pursuing her but can't say whom. She begs the fellow to take her with him, so he places her in his car and somehow misses seeing a nude redheaded woman just off the road calling out to Elisabeth for help. He carries the girl to his flat in
Paris and after questioning her learns that
she seems incapable of retaining memories for any length of time. He tells her
his name is Robert but she even has trouble remembering that only a few minutes
later. She asks him to please not leave her alone because she knows she'll
forget him as soon as he isn't there to remind her of what she has experienced.
Magnetically drawn to each other, the pair makes love in a tender scene, during
which Robert tells Elisabeth to watch his face so she'll always remember this
time together. But the next morning after Robert goes to work, Dr. Francis
breaks into the flat and convinces Elisabeth to return with him to his
high-rise clinic where he is treating dozens of people with her memory
deficiency. Once in the clinic she finds the redheaded girl from the night
before and learns that they can remember each other's names but little else
about their relationship. The two friends attempt another escape and manage to
contact Robert but are quickly recaptured. A frantic and lovesick Robert
locates the clinic and is told by Dr. Francis that his patients are suffering
from a disease that slowly robs them of all their mental functions. The doctor
has been trying to treat them but has had no success. He explains that,
ultimately, all the afflicted become like the walking dead with no cognitive
abilities. But Robert refuses to believe him and is determined to rescue his
The films of Jean Rollin are unusual in ways that many find off-putting. They usually meander around colorfully surreal or absurd images and morbid situations for long stretches so that it becomes unclear where the (sometimes thin) narrative is going. They always have a dreamlike tone that can drive some viewers mad with the desire to hit the fast forward (or stop) button. But for those who share Rollin's sensibilities, these films are gorgeous and evocative pieces that seem lifted out of a fascinating other world. The stories are a mixture of quaint old pulp conventions and wild sexual excitement that, at its best, blends into something no one else in cinema really tries. There are points of similarity between Rollin and Jess Franco, but where Franco seems more interested in pumping out as many films as possible, I feel Rollin has a stronger body of work. Rollin always seems to have a central idea around which he's gathering images in the same way a poet will collage words. He layers quiet, moody shots of beautiful, melancholy women walking through gorgeous locations with horrific images of bloody violence in what seems to be an effort to get beyond the shock of the juxtaposition and question the feelings that are provoked. Since the violence is often linked with sexuality there is a reoccurring idea in his films that sex is both the beginning and ending of life. Indeed, in The Night of the Hunted sex is the only thing the poor afflicted souls can experience and remember.
This isn't the sex-equals-death concept of so many American slasher films but a more European view of sex as a transformative and healing act even when it's linked with danger. Rollin's parade of undead creatures are almost always beautiful but tortured. Unhappy in life they are just as unfulfilled in death —but are now robbed of the choices life afforded. Joy is always in the past for Rollin's characters and tears are their only response. In Night of the Hunted the diseased people aren't zombies or vampires but are rendered "dead" all the same. Their tragedy is made all the more touching by its gradual, degenerative nature putting me in mind of the victims of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
The Night of the Hunted (La Nuit Des Traquées) is often cited as one of Rollin's weakest films but I don't feel that way. It's famous for its small budget and two-week shooting schedule, but even though its extremely low budget is occasionally evident I think the director stages his story well enough to hide most of its financial shortcomings. The performances are not exceptional by any means but get the job done effectively and the frequent nudity is a plus that distracts me from a few of the more wooden actors. In all honesty, the film could be much worse than it is and I would still champion it simply because of its inspired final shot. The image of two defeated and desolate characters walking away from the camera into the distance becomes the antithesis of riding off into the sunset. It's a haunting and deeply effecting image that stays with me for weeks after every viewing. As cheaply produced as this film is, I enjoy it a great deal more than some of Rollin's more expensive works, with The Demoniacs being my perfect example of more being much less. I wouldn't start a newcomer to Rollin's movies here since it lacks his usual vampires and phantasms, but it might be a good second feature to try.
Saturday, November 11, 2017
I've been a big fan of this alternate history Batman story since it was published in 1989. Here's hoping the animated version is as entertaining as the book.