yog-sothoth is the key…

Well we start off this time around with another long overlooked Lovecraft adaptation. The Dunwich Horror. It “stars” Sandra Dee but most excitingly features a young Dean Stockwell! He, of course, is wonderful as the famously charming evil warlock seeking to open the gates, as you might say. Also, it was written by Curtis Hanson of L.A. Confidential fame. Mean Mister Whateley travels to Arkham to catch a glimpse of the Necronomicon and then heads back to Dunwich with the silly old Sandra Dee giving him a lift. Of course, his plans are quite nefarious and her pal and the professor are suspicious so they follow along. Many evil hijinks unfold! The movie is a silly cheapo but interesting and a lot of fun! Of course very liberal liberties have been taken with the story (what? Women again?) but there is some great dialog and alot of it is very familiar to me, having been generously sampled by the Thickets in Going Down to Dunwich. It’s actually a bit eerie hearing the lines in their true context. It’s another AIP classic featuring a groovy dream sequence, something locked behind a door, a great house, some nice effects and some nice summoning rituals.

Then, more in season, I finally watched A Christmas Story. Yes, yes, yes, I hadn’t seen it before. I must say that I didn’t really expect much but it is actually quite good. The story of a young chap who is obsessed with getting a Red Ryder (yes, just like I used to have, and seriously pained my thumb with) and has to battle all of the silly adults (including the most wonderfully horrid Santa Claus) and their eye-protectiveness. A great fun film. It’s no wonder it’s been a Christmas classic for all these years!

And then I sort of watched Pumpkinhead. Sort of as in I’ve seen it soo many times and it’s soo formulaic that I only need to pay soo much attention. But hey, it’s one of my favorite monster movies! Why? Well, I don’t really know why I like this… of course, Stan Winston is a big draw for me but Lance Henrikson is a bit dry in the lead, the rest of the actors are throwaways and the set-up for the tragedy that sets everything off is contrived, but boy, Pumpkinhead is the best… Big, tall terrifying and unstoppable… He’s a great horrible thing and It’s fun to watch how much he scares the heck out of the locals!

Tokyo Rampage. Well, finally. After being curious about this for a good while I’ve finally got my hands on Tokyo Rampage (aka Tokyo Psycho, aka Pornostar). Well, while it does seem to feature Tokyo, it doesn’t seem to involve much rampaging. Maybe even no rampaging. Tokyo Psycho is the title they should have stuck with. Honestly, I fell asleep quite regularly during it, though I actually did like it. It was just a little too slow for the level of tiredness I was watching it in. A sort of nerdy mystery man who likes to bump into people and has decided that Yakuza don’t deserve to live encounters a reluctant Yakuza who doesn’t like to be run into and much fun ensues. Slow fun. There is lots of knifing in an unrampaging fashion, and not nearly enough shooting. It features, bar none, the lamest group of Yakuza I have ever seen, some westerners who you just cannot wait for to get wacked, stolen drugs and a lady with Pussy Cat tattooed on her chest. After seeing and enjoying this (in a manner of speaking), it does make me want to delve into Toshiaki Toyoda’s other films. The two that followed this are oft spoken of as classics.

We then watched The Thin Blue Line. Well, that was uplifting. A very nice “non-fiction” film. I have never actually seen this film about the murder of a policeman in Dallas before, but I should have. It is really quite good and it certainly makes you think. As old Randall Adams says, “…should scare the hell out of everyone in this room, and if it doesn’t, then that scares the hell out of me.”. I’ve thought of the thin blue line as the old reference to the role that police play in protecting society, but boy, this makes you think about it in another way… As to how the police can determine what it means to protect society. Scary and sort of mind-blowing to watch the way that the law operated in this case. It really makes one think, and it supplies yet another reason to avoid Texas…

And then, Bridget Jones’s Diary. Yes, I don’t like those chick flicks, but I do like this one. It is really just a good movie. Yes, it features the eternally unlikable, uncharming and unattractive Hugh Grant but… it also features the always charming and misanthropically shy Colin Firth reprising (albeit an abbreviated and updated version) the character of Mister Darcy. It is quite charming. Rene Zellwiger is quite cutesy, pitifully charming and disarmingly uncomfortable in the role, which is perfect. And the whole thing is just good fun!

Jenifer. Okay, now for my third Masters of Horror. I thought this was probably the best of the ones I’ve seen. It was fairly well predictable, but it was still a fun idea and she really does look creepy. It’s a nice engaging way to spend an hour if you want to feel a bit creepy. The story of a girl with some strange issues. She doesn’t seem to have any problems hooking up with guys because, even with her sharp teeth, crooked mouth, and teddy bear eyes fellas always seem to be drawn in be the sex maniac aspect of her personality. Plus, she doesn’t talk. Of course, as in any family drama, once she starts behavior like strolling around the house nude and eating the family cat, the wife always gets a bit out of joint…

jenifer, oh jenifer…
jenifer 04:49

the uninvited guest
jenifer 28:01

and, as the third verse comes up, watch out for the american subtitles…

Oh boy, are there some winners this time around! Maybe not winners in the “great movie” sense, but certainly fun.

Speaking of fun, I know that it may seem like we watch too many historical dramas, but we branched out this time to Galsworthy and the Forsythe Saga. Well, I missed the first couple of hours of this one, but then I sat down for some and got dragged in. I didn’t find it as engrossing as the Dickens ones or as romancy as the Jane Austen ones, but I liked what I saw. As far as historical dramas go, it had a better sense of realism then the others. The story of the trials and tribulations of one big extended wealthy family as they work around those good old charms of betrayals, deaths, wills and classism that make these old British stories so grand. The bits I picked up involved a woman marrying a rich man she didn’t love, an affair, a sudden death, a prodigal son returns, a quick switch in a will, an architect building a a wonderful house and all sorts of other goodies. And there’ll be more to come on this…

And then, reading somewhere about a Hitchcock I’d never heard of I ran out and rented I Confess. I think that this is a nice little thriller. A story of a murder and a priest (Monty Clift!) whose vows endanger him… in the eyes of the law. The law, surprisingly enough, happened to be Karl Malden, which I thought was exciting. Though it’s good and it is thrilling, it’s certainly not one of Hitchcock’s classics and it might also be a bit slow for some but I fell for the whole vows angle and it had nice visual touches, great cinematography and some good roles: Clifts eyes? Great! O.E. Hasse was wonderful to watch as the antagonist, I really liked Roger Dann in it, but so much fun with the cast I can’t mention it all! The relationship between Willy & the Grandforts and the other priests were fun to, especially the Clark Kentish bicyclist. Anyway, an all-the-way around fun to watch thriller.

And to hit a lower note, we got The Last Picture Show. So this is Texas eh? It certainly looks about how I’d thought it would: miserable and dusty. Basically the story of a guy wandering around this desolate broken down town in the 50’s… It’s filled with great characters and a host of not-yet-famous actors (and some famous ones, like Ben Johnson) and lots of bad things… Badly played high school football games, affairs, fights, drinking, bullying, some deaths. Nothing ever seems to go right around here. But it’s a great movie and it flows with a nice, slow & natural pace. Though it did briefly put me back in my Bogdanovich phase… No, not reading his books or watching his movies, just wondering about him. It happens whenever he crosses my consciousness… The odd little bird that he is…

Then, onto Tokyo Zombie! Well okay. This might be the corniest zombie movie I’ve seen yet. Yes, I mean it. Heads come off with very little effort and they were very taken with Land of the Dead (the other contender for corniest zombie movie… I’m not sure which was made first). I had to watch it because it has Tadanobu Asano in it, and a fun name and jumpsuits. On the outskirts of Tokyo there is a giant black mound of trash where people always dump bodies and, while our erstwhile heroes are burying their boss there after a long day of Ju-Jitsu practice… Well, there’s some spanking flashbacks and the bodies start coming alive… Of course, society falls and the remaining folks barricade themselves into a part of the city where the rich go to the arena and watch the poor fight to death against the zombies. Yeah, it’s like that, but with alot of jokes. It’s a cheapo., but it’s fun if you like this sort of thing. I’d certainly rather watch it than Land of the Dead, since that’s a pretentious, yet corny, piece of fluff and this is a wacky piece of Zombie fun!

Back to the old days, we watched David Coppperfield. Brilliant fun! It was quite great! Maggie Smith was the wonderful highlight of the film, though Mr Dick was great as was the wonderful house in Dover where they lived… But wait, the house boat was wonderful too, including the Peggotty family living there, such good souls… And, of course, Ian McKellen, and the always wonderful and brilliant Bob Hoskins! Also, after listening to the band, it was good to see the real Uriah Heep, in fact, I became a bit enamored with the name Uriah after that… Though he was certainly a creep. And though I didn’t like the character of the step father, he had a good voice. Very clear. Anyway, it was a great story and a fun film… The main trouble was that it seemed to be about half the length it should be. I felt, though I don’t know the story, like a lot was cut out and we were rushing from scene to scene without really finishing, or, more like it, with cutting of the beginning of the following scene. Some of the scenes surely seemed alone. like they should have been part of some longer sequence. It also seemed odd how easily people traveled around from place to place. Never a notion of being troubled by travel times or distances. But, regardless, highly recommended if you like Dickens, though I may need to find a longer, yet equally high quality, take on the story.

And then, for old times sake, onto Outland! Yes, it’s the classic Alien meets High Noon sci-fi extravaganza! Connery is the honest cop in a dishonest town suddenly beset by mysterious suicides and folks going crazy! This all leads him, as the new marshal in town, to dig too deep and find out what is going on. Of course, some don’t appreciate this and thats where the real trouble starts. The interior sets are very alienesque, like a low budget Nostromo. And there are some fun outside scenes… A bit of it is too much of a stretch… The greenhouse scene? Please. But I sure like it though, and I also appreciate the use of dirty, industrial looking sets, because that sort of “future technology” look doesn’t age too badly. The movie itself is filled with deaths, exploding heads, violence, drugs, a great role for James Sikking, the late great Peter Boyle, corrupt police and, yes, Sean Connery!

let me tell you something…
outland 54:39

And since we’re on the topic of Alien, after many years of wanting to I finally got around to watching Dark Star… I just had to, it being John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon’s first, a college project no less. I got to say, yes, it’s cheap cheap cheap and it’s pretty slow and the story is silly: a five man crew out for a decades long journey sending down intelligent talking bombs to blow up unstable planets. But man, it is charming as heck! I really enjoyed it! There was a feeling of genuineness about the production that led me to respect the cheapness and the corny story. I don’t know, maybe I’m showing my age I just love this hokey old stuff, and with Carpenter and O’Bannon, how could it go wrong?

here we go…
dark star 02:22

and here’s half the cast…
dark star 05:04

Lastly, we expanded our King horizons by watching Needful Things. It was alright. The town was great (that’s BC for you) and Max von Sydow was perfect as Leland Gaunt, very convincing as he sets the whole town against itself. It was very fun, with priest vs priest, explosions and lots of crazy plot happenings! And, thankfully, it wasn’t the standard TV movie King fare… It’s easier to take his theatrical films seriously over his TV movies (well, there’s always Maximum Overdrive)…

flicker on a hamstring…

Another trip to the theater. this time for The Departed. This crime film, featuring some of my favorite film elements (police corruption and backstabbing) was quite good. The cast, at first glance, seems questionable (when was the last good Jack Nicholson role?) and we all still remember that Scorsese flick Gangs of New York (not that I ever saw it). But you know, his magic is still there! This was a great movie: A good plot, tons of suspense, good acting, good script and the last 20 minutes are a blast! Basically two southies in the police force, one is a plant in the mob and one is a plant for the mob. Both working with the same mobster and the same police and trying to figure out who the other one is. A great action movie with lots of tension and some nice surprises.

And trying to round out the Stephen King, we sat down for Thinner. This seemed like an overly long episode of some new Twilight Zone series. Very Kingy… as in: cheap, not scary and quite a bit corny. A big guy (with obvious “fat” appliances on… In case the title doesn’t make it obvious enough) who kills a gypsy gets cursed and tries to hunt down the gypsy clan before he gets too much thinner. It was a cute little story but very “TV movie”-like and nothing to write home about. At least Joe Mantegna is as reliable as always.

Rocky. Okay, Kurty is right. After Cop Land I had to try this again… and I give it props for a young unexperienced one-time porno actor being able to convince someone to get behind him writing and starring in his project, that seems impressive. The movie is really good, too. One of the great “American” stories of making one’s own success, it worked both in the movie and with the movie. Stallone does a good job, his unique style is great for the character and he really puts his heart into it… Though he just doesn’t having the acting chops that he displays in Cop Land.

Then I finally watched Youth of the Beast. Sort of like A Fistful of Dollars for Yakuza. Very “cool” and “Stylish” this was a very good movie and hard for me to believe it’s from the same guy who made Pistol Opera, one of my least favorite films of all time. A dull artsie mess of nothingness, it almost turned me off to him but this classic is far removed for that dreck! Black & White and brightly colored, incredible jazz score, beautiful suits, great set design and lots of gangster violence as Jo, the lone Yakuza, plays each gang back and forth… towards whatever ends he has in mind. It is a great looking movie with incredible 60’s Yazuza stylings and the movie grabs you from beginning to end! Not only is the cinematography great, but an endless attention to details makes it great fun to watch! I highly recommended this to any Yakuza fans or fans of crime films in general

harmful aspects of aerosol
youth of the beast 15:24

little clown car…
youth of the beast 27:40

fun with knife…
youth of the beast 38:30

The Stand. Yes, and again. Regardless of the corny low quality of these King TV movies, they just keep coming back to bite you. For starters, the cast: some of the actors can, I believe, act. They just don’t bother to in these movies. I mean, Ray Walton is fine and of course, Ossie and Ruby pull their weight, but everyone else acts as if it’s a school play. I mean, it’s weird to watch Miguel Ferrer and feel like he’s slumming… As for the rest of the movie, the effects are terrible and the whole story seems trite. I hear it’s a good book, but Mister King has a very interesting film sense. It seems he doesn’t like the good ones but gets a kick out of making this stuff. I think he likes things a bit corny. Well, this is terribly corny. But, as with all these things, the movie stays with you and is not only entertaining (albeit not scary) to watch, but I find that after a little time, one feels compelled to watch them again. I must give this a thumbs up, though. As befits king, it is an everyman movie: entertaining, easy to follow and sort of addictive.

the special features are scary…
the stand…

And for the historical drama of the week, Gosford Park. Quite fun in a subtle way. I found it to be very pleasant, entertaining, and subdued. Not a mystery so much as a movie with a mystery. The whodunit seems sort of secondary… It just feels like you’re watching these things unfold naturally. Very good, a great cast and a good look. It’s very involving and when it becomes a mystery, you aren’t really anticipating it, so it becomes all the more shocking.

Then as a follow up, we got Rocky II. While not quite as pivotal as Rocky, this movie starts immediately where that leaves off. The story suffers a bit from the single-mindedness of it. Everything that happens seems to point to the fight at the end. So the story-lines don’t run as deep as in Rocky, but it’s alright and the fight is great. Not being a fight fan, but it’s an edge of the seater and very convincingly co-ordinated.

again with the fisticuffs…
rocky ii 1:49:17

Unknown White Male. This was interesting, to a point. A documentary about a fellow who supposedly lost all of his memory. Honestly, it started off good, a bit unnerving even, but as the movie goes on, I found myself losing interest, as did the subject. Sometimes with documentaries it’s important to have a good subject. Like the flaw in Stone Reader where, once the movie gets going, it turns out that he hadn’t really tried hard to find this author after all, though he presents him as completely disappearing. This one suffers a bit from Douglas not really caring about his past after a while. But it’s still interesting, just because it’s such an odd occurrence.


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