a welcome reprieve…

Yes it’s October again, time for the HPLFF! Luckily I actually went this year! I couldn’t resist? Why? Well, we went to see From Beyond! Yes, a very rare treat for the big screen, but this one had a bonus… It was presented by, yes, Barbara Crampton! Not only is this movie a general must see, in a theater and with the star? No way to miss it! Though the picture quality was mediocre (like my ol’ bootleg dvd, I can’t wait to get a look at the delayed new official dvd release), this Combs/Crampton/Gordon/Yuzna story is a must see. A entertaining glimpse into the world beyond our five senses (what we could see and be if only we could enlarge the pineal gland). It is, of course, a great crazy story that doesn’t stray too far from the original story (though not only does it add the expected un-lovecraftian twist of a “girl” in the story, it goes even further with some s&m concepts!) of a scientist whose research has gone too far and ends up overtaking him. It features some crazy creatures, some great concepts and Ken Foree in a comedy relief role that is really the acting highpoint of the film! Combs is fine, but his wackiness seems a bit unconvincing, Crampton really seems a bit cardboard in her role, reminding me of Mikael Petrov in Fit To Kill. It’s probably my least favorite of the CCGY films, but whenever I do see it, I am always positively surprised with elements of it. Also surprising, for the Lovecraft film festival crowd, is that about half of the folks there had never seen it before!

Oh yeah and Barbara Crampton, the special guest… she presented the film and did a q&a which, while I’m not a q&a fan, wasn’t half bad. It was great to have her there. And she also handed out the statues at the Howie awards which took place right before the other feature we saw… Dead Birds!

Well, I liked it. I thought it was special for two reasons. First, it was a conventional, old time ghost story. Most films now seem to try and find some kind of angle in presenting a ghost story. Not here.. Just a plain old haunted house of spirits of a family wrongly killed. Also, the time setting. Most ghost stories are 20th century stories with ghosts of folks killed in the 19th or 18th centuries. this though was a civil war story and took place in the old days. It is low budget but the few effects were interesting enough that it didn’t seem bad and the limited sets (a corn field, and old house and a little town) made it easy to not notice it. Anyway though, a good basic story of Civil War soldiers turned thieves turning on themselves… With a little spiritual help. it has some nice effects and some darn good scares.. I would highly recommended this to any ghost story fan..

Then, Downfall again. The wife hadn’t seen it so we ran it. Again, a great film… We both think it’s great. It loses none of its greatness the second time around. It looks good, it has an involving story and the casting is great. At times, is requires either a close eye or an ability to just let stuff glide by because who people are isn’t always clearly stated, people are referred to whom we only briefly have seen, without it being clear when we saw them who they were. But, the casting is done in a way that if you have a passing knowledge about these folks, they will be apparent.. I believe that this story of the last weeks in Hitler’s bunker was based on the diaries of ol’ Traudl, but it is way more interesting then that Blind Spot documentary that she is in. That was way dull… I say skip it and check this out.. This films casts a great story of Hitler and who he was and the doubts of those around him (and the lack of doubts of some of those around him) and a great glimpse into the personalities of some of his people. It is a great and interesting way of showing the people behind the reputations, without excusing their actions.

And then, as our second WW2 film, we watched one of my old favorites… Slaughterhouse Five. From one of the great books of american literature, one that I would have thought “unfilmable”, comes this great film! … The story of a aging optician who becomes unstuck in time, it all comes along great: the moving back and forth in time is well done, Michael Sacks does a good job (though I especially like Eugene Roche) but everyone does a good job and the story is great fun! I can’t help but wonder if it was controversial when the book was released for its frankness about the Dresden bombing…

welcome to traflamadore…
slaughterhouse five 01:30:18
And yet again, The Fog. I am becoming thoroughly convinced that this has little going for it, unless one is some kind of Carpenter completist… This is certainly one for the “sell” stack… While I like John Carpenter and Adrienne Barbeau and the story concept has good potential… It really just doesn’t work out. First, the music she plays on her KAB radio station is unworldly, there would never be a radio station that plays only that stuff. Two, it’s not scary at all! Not one bit.. The baddies come close to looking good, but then they don’t and there is absolutely no suspense. Three, some of it is just plain ridiculous. The candle parade to see the statue? Yelling warnings over the radio without saying why you are warning people and no one has power anyway? The hokey golden cross? Of course, I feel like when it was first on late night tv after it came out, I thought it was scary, but now?? nothing..

are you scared yet…
the fog 01:20:18
And in keeping with last times DeNiro/Scorsese classic, we watched The King of Comedy. A forgotten classic, but certainly one of my favorite Scorsese films and and even better role for De Niro. The King of Comedy is a brilliant example of a “comedy” that’s not funny at all. Jerry Lewis is great, playing his plain old terrible self…And he has some nice suits, which are nice to see in a film from this ugly suit era. The chase scene with Jerry’s great 60’s suit and his rat-packy walk, the smug walk of pinky rings and a drink in hand, it’s great fun… He is perfect in this. It’s the best film about fandom with some great bit of the truth behind the entertainment business. It’s a black comedy crime caper that can’t be beat. For my money, De Niro is at his best, Rupert Pupkin is his best role after Travis Bickle. Kidnapping his way to the top, acting tremendously naive, yet not naive at all…

such a nice suit… oh yeah, and sandra bernhard…
the king of comedy 39:41

such a bad suit… oh yeah, and what…
the king of comedy 22:50
And again I watched Metal: a Headbangers Journey.. Well, call it a subconscious attempt at conversion, I had some of the boys sit through this. I admit that watching this kind of stuff with other folks does make me a bit self-conscious (not nearly as bad as watching Heavy Metal Parking Lot at the bike-in theater, but the same idea). But gosh, I love this movie. His enthusiasm for the subject is refreshing. Later, the wife and I watched the “Black Metal Documentary” on the specials disk. First, it is too hard to hear most of the dialogue, it lacks depth and, though it kind of goes without saying, the wifes comment that “these guys are basically just assholes” certainly rings true. But I love them, just the same! Though I’m not a fan of burning down Stave Churches like Fantoft…

Fantoft stavkirke…
And yes, it’s a rarer trip nowadays, but another hike was to be had. This was a rugged one for me. I don’t know if I’m just not cut out for 13-14 miles of hiking, or if it was all the twistings of my ankle or being a little out of practice, or the fact that once we went up the hill and started going down, that we ended up having some more sizable ups.. Anyway, it kicked my butt. But you can read here all about the Conquerering of Devil’s Peak AND Hunchback Mountain!

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention last time that I watched Explorers! It’s sort of a Forbidden Planet for kids. It does feature a couple of soon to be stars and it’s a lot of fun. A good clean kid’s movie with lots of adventure and funny stuff.

two bits…

Yes, I know it’s been too long, but there’s been a lot of stuff going on that I won’t bother to mention here, but there are some less exciting things that I will mention… Finally…

So I watched Much ado About Nothing. Silly, yes, but very cute. Branagh was easily the high point. He was soo enthusiastic you could feel it through the screen and most of the characters were well played. of course, the exception? Keanu was the low point. He’s basically had two good roles, Ted “theodore” Logan and Matt. Everything else stinks. No, not the movies he’s been in… The job he’s done in those. He’s been in some darn fine movies, but whenever he’s on the screen I don’t think anyone can think anything except, why’d they get this guy to stumble through this role, just pray that he doesn’t say anything! So aside from his crippling scenes, it’s a fun film!

Then, probably for the first time, I witnessed Goodfellas in the theater. I’m sure we’ve all seen this (though, while I was watching it I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone there had never seen it before). Anyway, it was what it is: probably Scorsese’s finest film (though that point could be argued with about a half dozen other movies), a cornucopia of Sopranos actors, brilliant lines, great (truish) story, the peak of Pesci’s tough guy roles, one of De Niro’s 6 great roles of the last twenty years, Ray Liotto’s awesome breakthrough role (though that should have been Something Wild)… Really, it is just a great film: beautiful, well cast, great script, music utilized to perfection… A flawless movie and one of the best gangster films ever.

Sword and the Sorcerer. One of the favorites from the old days. I recall how strangely the scene on tomb island lodged itself in my head! Yes, all these years later, of course, the effects and sets and costumes seem shoddy for how I remembered them when I was 14 but… It is a grand film. Maybe it looks abit hokey, but they certainly tried for a grand scope storyline, with narration and everything. A must watch classic for folks into these things! Non-stop & crazy action, like an old pirate movie. Oh yeah, the swords are ridiculous (especially the three bladed sword but also the baddie’s sword), even silly. But It’s the best movie of it’s ilk. Well, excepting the Harryhausen’s.

But where’s the promised sequel? Tales of the Ancient Empire? It’s about the longest wait for a sequel, even longer than Doctor Detroit‘s!

this really stayed with me…
sword & the sorcerer 04:54
Well, Paul hadn’t seen any of the RM films, so I started him off with the best. Mudhoney is the classic small town derring-do movie, and a perfect Russ Meyer film. It’s got it all, grainy black and white, the girls, the dialogue, the action, the sleazy rough’n’tumble story, good guys and bad guys, good girls and bad girls, great actors in fact, the same actors as a good deal of his other films… I suppose one either likes RM or doesn’t but this “knight in shining armor” story just takes the cake. A classic, 40 years running!

now who’s mister nice guy…
mudhoney 14:07

look who’s bogarting that jug…
mudhoney 24:45
Of course, a showing of Get Shorty was in order. One of the guilty pleasures that the wife hadn’t seen. Boy, but talk about a guilty pleasure! I never get tired of this thing and I probably sit down to it about once a year. At this point it’s funny to see James Gandolfini pre-Sopranos and it features Travolta rehashing his Pulp Fiction role, Gene Hackman being awesome as always, Danny Devito having lots of fun, obviously. It’s basically, as one should expect from Elmore Leonard, nothing to take seriously but certainly lot’s of fun, with lots of action and yet another great supporting role from Dennis Farina!

Love Actually. Was this a film? It seemed more like a half dozen or so unrelated vignettes all tied together in a vague fashion. Sort of like a long & “serious” & British “Love American Style”. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. It certainly lacked any form of substance, but it had some charming moments… I just can’t stand Hugh Grant and it seemed such a terrible waste of Alan Rickman’s talents.

U-Turn. Ok. Well, this is one unpleasant film filled with unpleasant people. But, it’s another guilty pleasure I had the wife watch… I like it! I don’t like Nick Nolte, Sean Penn or Jennifer Lopez, and the badly overdone Billy Bob, and all their characters were horrible people, but they played horrible people soo well! It’s probably my favorite Nolte role, he’s alot of fun in this. And I love the old, “one thing goes wrong, and then everything goes wrong” story. And city slickers getting taken by a bunch of small town hicks is always fun to watch! It keeps us from taking too many rural roadtrips! Anyway, my only big complaint is, of course, Oliver Stone… His dopey (artsie?) cinematography style is tiring and dumb. Why shoot a shot from the roof and then a close up on their mouth? Then maybe a close up of an earlobe and then… Well, you get the picture. Dumb cinematography, irritating editing, but some nice bright colors!

Then I went out on the town and took in Celtic Frost. Okay, somehow, I’d never heard them before. And though they weren’t bad at what they do, I’m not really into it. Twenty years ago I may have had a different story but now? They were good at it though, I thought of them as sort of an 80’s hard rock act with some death metal edges. The singer fellow was another problem. Just didn’t dig him at all, bad look (black suit? black shirt? Black around his eyes and a black stocking cap pulled down to his eyes? What?) The goth guitar player who barely moved? Well, the rhythm section was good: the drummer seemed fine, immersed as he was in a cloud of fog, but the high point was the bass player. Great “rasputin” look, tons of enthusiasm, really the star of the show. Though I didn’t generally dig the vocals alot of the music was good, the stage setup was good (I haven’t seen a show with fancies like fog and lights moving around for a long time). More to my speed was 1349. Skinny pants, big black boots, corpse paint and all (though only one guitarist had the spikes, he had a gnarly enough set to make up for the rest). They had that evil energy and were a blast to see, though the sound could have been mixed clearer… Sagh opened the show. I was expecting good things, what with the bands strong pedigree, but instead it was just old style hard rock. Well played, but nothing at all to get excited about.

The Descent. Yes, maybe by now you’re sick of hearing me talk about this one. Well, two things, this was the first time that I’d seen the US version and the first time I’d seen it in a theater… I have to say that on both counts it was a step down. Aside from the, of course, truncated ending I think that some of the film from the car accident has been removed. In terms of the theater experience, well… It didn’t seem as scary. Now one might say that it’s because it’s the third time I’ve seen it but, I feel that it had more to do with projection. I think that watching it on a TV, where it’s smaller and darker, alot of it is more indistinct, which make it a bit creepier. On the big screen, everything is bigger and brighter so it looks clearer and becomes less scary… And the sets don’t look quite as convincing.

Still it’s a darn good horror movie… Maybe just watch the UK edition at home.

Lastly, led on by exciting previews, we watched Secret Window. Well, I don’t want to give too much away, though you’ll probably figure it out yourself quickly enough. Yes a “thriller” but a quite predictable one… And another Stephen King story on film. For a movie version of a King story, it wasn’t bad… But it doesn’t have much to hold out. As Caitlin said, 15 years ago it might have been something.


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