What do you get if you take a ship and its crew, put them in hibernation and send them far out across space on a potential rescue mission to locate some folks who contact has been lost with? Then throw in the mystery of not telling them the whole truth about where they’re going and add some unwelcome stranger to the crew who is seemingly an “expert” (through they keep the whole story and their expertise a secret until arriving at the destination). Throw in a mysterious derelict ship and have that destination be an eerie and quiet place where some horrible violence obviously happened. And of course, have that due to some alien force that then unleashes more horrible violence upon these folks? I mean, what movie would you have aside from Aliens?
If you mix Aliens with a healthy dose of Alien, throw in some tastes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, The Shining and Hellraiser… And then cap it off with a generally lame script, you would have this film, Event Horizon. So, yes, it comes across as terribly derivative of a whole slew of films (and not vaguely… There are many scenes here that elicit an immediate “oh, this scene is from… select other movie” reaction), but it’s not all bad. In fact, it is one of my favorite science fiction films (though it doesn’t come close to the above films… Well, except for crappy old Hellraiser. It’s certainly better than that).
Event Horizon, for all of its flaws, is a fun and creepy movie that is also a great sci-fi story. The weakness of the script isn’t too unbearable as the story is presented in a very serious fashion and the cast is generally entertaining, though the two leads didn’t really do it for me. Sam Neill is hokey as always, while Laurence Fishburne doesn’t seem to take this too seriously (who could blame him) as he puts in a rather unconvincing turn as the hard-nosed ship commander, but the others have substantial roles and the movie is pretty action packed, so those performances can easily be overlooked… Especially with all of the violence and action!
While it starts off as pretty hard science fiction, it becomes almost metaphysical as it delves into black holes, other dimensions and alien forces… And though it ends up feeling like a haunted house in space, it somehow loses none of its hard sci-fi feel or starts to come across as corny. I think that Paul Anderson does a darned good job here, especially considering that the only other movies I have seen that he directed were both utter garbage, each almost unwatchable in their hackneyed crappiness, Resident Evil and Aliens vs Predator.
Though it tales a few moments to come to terms with the influences on display here (some must have been intended as homages), and it can be a tricky beast to pull off both serious science fiction and good horror in the same film, Event Horizon has a good back-story and after a point the movie comes into its own and it all works out pretty well. As a horror movie, it definitely has good tension, some great gore and a healthy dose of the unknown. As a Science Fiction film, it has some interesting science, great looking special effects (though some of the cgi is a bit too cgi-ish), and the all-important spaceships look quite good and not hokey at all… Though there is a bit of a mixed blessing as when the rescue ship comes into contact with the Event Horizon, the huge scale of the derelict ship is quite impressive… But it oddly seems quite small on the inside…
As I mentioned in my brief coverage last year, it still does feel like a half hour had been removed. I looked it up on wikipedia today where someone, in fact, stated that 30 minutes were excised due to it being perceived as excessively gory. Though it is still quite gory, I am always bothered by ripping that much out of a completed film and it would be nice if they would have been able to put the movie back together for the DVD. The added gore would be fun and I’m sure it would help out the movie with that strange sense of incompleteness that one gets from it. All in all, it is still a highly re-watchable Sci-Fi/Horror film.
Oh, take me back… So we watched the infamous Heavy Metal Parking Lot. A great little film (about 15 minutes long) that a couple of guys made interviewing people in the parking lot of a Judas Priest and Dokken concert in 1986. Though this was the period where I began to move away from metal (thanks primarily to the horror I felt upon hearing “turbo lover” and seeing Priest’s “fruit striped leather” look), watching this really rings true with me and brought me back to those folks I hung out with back in the early 1980′s (“it’s ’cause he’s evil, man, evil” Dave Murphy on King Diamond circa 1984) and, of course, seeing Judas Priest at the Memorial Coliseum in 1982. Though I didn’t spend any time in the parking lot. A good thing too, as the parking lot here is filled with lots of drinking, cursing, feathered hair, cool t-shirts (though I wondered about the Rolling Stones), shirtless guys and all of that good stuff.
The folks who populate Heavy Metal Parking Lot are all pretty drunk and excited, and nice and friendly (though “zebraman” (shown above) does have some harsh words for punk rock and Madonna). The trouble with this film is that most youngen’s now think of it as a comedy, when for some of us it is more a slice of our youth being offered up for display. Though I guess that all teen scenes seems pretty funny in retrospect… And the movie can be pretty funny.
There are a lot of special features, most of which aren’t that great… Neil Diamond Parking Lot is somewhat entertaining, but Harry Potter Parking Lot is pretty dull. One of the features that is somewhat interesting is the HMPL reunions. They find and interview 4 folks who were in the movie, none of whom had seen it (or even known about it) until recently, if at all. So it’s somewhat fun to see these folks 20ish years later. But they were more fun in the feature.
The best part though is one of the special features, Heavy Metal Basement. Some 40-something guy (Jim Powell of Metal Grind Records?) walks us down into his basement, which is an slice of 1980′s metal heaven… Thousand of LP’s, posters, bits of memorabilia, a wall covered with interesting beers cars, a kiss pinball machine… And more. But the high point is that he has a stack of records on the floor, and he goes through them one by one. There are about 65 records in all and they are all Judas Priest records. They actually let him spend 28 minutes guiding us through the history of Priest, record by record. I thought it was pretty neat, lots of bootlegs and all… But I wanted him to move on to the rest of his records. One of these days, I’ll put all my crap in a room like this too…
A young wife, unsatisfied. A young husband, naive yet kind. A hardened criminal on the loose. An old bitter ne’er-do-well… And a town so dull that it couldn’t be filmed in color. These are not the elements for a day that turns out well. But, alas, all of these come together in a great tragedy befitting the works of Shakespeare! Lorna is Russ Meyer’s first attempt at making a “regular” dramatic film (meaning a non-nudie) and here Meyer has created one of his most classic films. Filled with longing, lust and betrayal. All against his standard backdrop of a colorless, tired poverty.
Lorna (played by “Lorna Maitland”, also the star of his greatest film, Mudhoney) is a sad and lonely figure. A year married to James, a man who loves her dearly but ranks a little too high on the ignorant goodie-two-shoes scale: decent, polite and dull. His promises of getting her out of this dead-end town have yet to come to fruition and though he studies diligently to become a CPA, she feels neglected and let down. This life of spending her time feeling alone and saving dollars in a jar with the hopes of buying a new dress is not the wanton glory that she had hoped for. It is all much too dull for dear Lorna, who dreams of the bright lights, flowing liquor and night-life of the big city. Instead she is stuck living in this secluded swamp shack on the edge of a desolate little town where there is nothing to do with her nights but feel bored and ignored.
Of course, generally her days are boring too, sitting home by herself with nothing to do as James works away at the salt pit all day. He works there with his friend, the local bad boy Luther (played by the great Hal Hopper, also to be in Mudhoney), a friend who spends his days dreaming and drinking of good old Lorna.
This particular day is Lorna’s 1st wedding anniversary and as her husband sets off to work, his lack of acknowledgment of the day just aggravates her growing boredom and bitterness. After he sets off to work with Luther and his dull-witted pal Jonah, Lorna heads off to wander the countryside. After taking a quick dip in the river she dozes off in the grass, unaware of the excitement that is soon to come her way. See, the previous evening a violent criminal escaped from the local prison and has been making his way across the countryside. Stumbling across this young lady laying in the grass, he being violent and fresh from 3 years in prison, well… You know what happens next. As he forces himself upon her, she fights at first, but then the long forgotten feelings of excitement overwhelm her and soon she is not only partaking in this ravishment, but she actually falls for the guy!
Over at the salt pit, as this is going on, Luther’s drunken comments about Lorna are slowly beginning to overwhelm Jim’s mild-mannered ways. As things begin to heat up between them, things heat up back home, as Lorna invites her new pal over to the house. Obviously, all of these situations are headed for an unsavory conclusion! Lorna is actually a bit less amoral than most of Meyer’s other films. Though, yes, there are sexual assaults, fisticuffs, drunkenness, and violence, there is also heart-felt apology, regret, remorse and kindness. It is a fine moralistic little tale. Oh yeah, and it has Lorna in it.
No, I don’t know why I watch these political documentaries either. Sure, the recent ones are bearable in that, “it’s all a lost cause, but at least everyone knows it” kind of way. But some of these? They hurt. Tonight we watched One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern. Man, what a harsh trip. Sure, there are endless documentaries about the good guys (those who actually uphold the laws of the nation and work to benefit “the people”) losing out to the bad guys (those who see the government as nothing but a device to funnel tax money into their own pockets and have no regard for anything except furthering their own power through whatever lies, misrepresentation and law-breaking are needed), but this goes farther back then most, as it is the story of George McGovern and his presidential campaign of 1972.
From the looks of it, had he and his group been somewhat more professional and prepared, then we quite possibly could have avoided: the last couple of years of the Vietnam War, the divisive economic “redistribution” of Reaganomics, the terrible selling off of America to foreign powers to pay for unconstitutional wars (that only exist to keep the masses in fear and stuff the pockets of the white house and it’s associated war profiteers), both of the “gulf wars” and the thousands of American lives snuffed out in the pursuit of oil possession and getting a second American possession in the Middle East to back up Israel… The mind boggles at how many hundreds of thousand of lives (or millions if we had prevented the dirty deeds of Kissinger) could have been saved and how many hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of American dollars could have gone to secure the people, industry and economy of the United States, rather than get laundered through the Department of Defense into the pockets of corporate interests. So much was at stake, and the good guys lost. I find it humiliating that in seven of the ten Presidential elections of my lifetime, the “average voter” has failed to even try to see through the spin and has been hornswoggled into voting against themselves to put a Republican into the White House. Maybe that would have changed with a McGovern victory, but then, maybe not.
McGovern tried hard, he meant well and he was fighting on the behalf of honesty, the people and doing the right thing. But a lot of people aren’t really interested in stuff like that. As Dick Gregory said, “once you’ve been in the dark for so long, the light hurts your eyes”. The title of this movie really sums up the feeling that you get watching it. I may be overly optimistic in saying that the despair, alienation, greed, dishonesty and general poverty of the 1970′s and 1980′s might have all been avoided had the McGovern group (and I don’t say the Democratic party, because you don’t get the feeling that the party wanted McGovern anyway) spent more time on thinking about how to win the election, rather than just win the nomination, but that is the feeling that I came away from this with. Of course, one might argue that they fell victim to Republican dishonesty, like the Democrat’s of 1968, 1980, 2000 and 2004, so it didn’t matter what they did anyway. But I don’t know.
Well, sure, Dickie and Kissmyassinger, but who’s that behind them?
Oh, him? I guess he learned from the best.
In One Bright Shining Moment we trace McGovern from his younger days growing up during the depression through his days as a bomber pilot in WW2, his brief stint as a minister, his time in the Kennedy white house (where he served as director of the Food for Peace Program), his time in the senate and his staunch and continual (well, except for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution) opposition to the Vietnam war and then forward to the great ups and downs of the debacle of the 1968 convention, Kent State, the seeming (yet fleeting) greatness of the 1972 convention, the missteps that followed it and his resounding defeat at the hands of Nixon. I do find it somewhat surprising, considering that I was five at the time of the 1972 election, that until this evening I knew nothing about George McGovern except for his name.
Told through lots of footage from the time and plentiful interviews with McGovern himself, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem and the wonderful Dick Gregory, who has the best, most profound and boldest statements to make of all of them. This film is another re-eye-opener to how American politics really works, to the general corruption of our two-party system, a re-introduction to the pervasive power of greed and a testament to the self-induced ignorance of the average person. Though it was a bright and shining moment, it certainly wasn’t the light at the end of the tunnel. On the bright side, the grass-roots upheaval that lead to his nomination, four years later led to the election of the best president of modern times, Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, Carter turned out to actually be too good and honest a person to be an American President… And with help from the Republicans once again (can’t they just win an election honestly?), this time conspiring with the Ayatollah Khomeini to keep our citizens hostage extra long to hurt Carter’s chances (strangely similar to Kissinger’s tactics of killing the Vietnam peace process to hurt the Democrat’s presidential hopes in 1968, a mere dozen years before), the Democrat’s were out for the next 12 years… And the office of the President would never be the same.
Black and Blue. Well, it’s been nearly 30 years since I’ve seen this movie (then was in a double feature at the still awesome Cinema 21 with AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock, of all things… The best rock movie double bill of all time, both of these NEED real DVD releases!). My awareness of both Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult has grown from next to nothing then to a point where I can really appreciate the content of this classic concert movie, Black and Blue. Yes, the colors are washed out and the picture isn’t good even other than that. But those two bands, in 1980, in a coliseum? Can you get any better? No, I don’t think so. And the sound is pretty good. BöC in general don’t show much stage presence, but Sabbath? Well Ronnie James Dio dishes out generous handfuls of his trademark La Mano Cornuda, as does Tony. And surrounded by their crosses? It’s funny if you look at those things and then actually listen to their lyrics, you realize that they are actually a christian rock band, or at least they sing songs with a positive on “god” message, while surrounding themselves with crucifix’s and making hand signs intended to protect you from evil.. But boy, what a christian rock band. And no, you don’t have to flame me for saying that… But it’s true, I swear!
Obviously, Sabbath are one of the best and most important bands to ever walk the face of the earth and while I am generally an ozzy fan (I mean, in Sabbath, not his solo swill), but watching this I realize how his lame lackluster showmanship is easily (and entertainingly) replaced by Dio’s big grins and assertive blouses and presence, always moving around, gesturing, point those two fingers at everyone. He’s quite good. But, of course, I’ve only seen ozzy strut his stuff when he was already an old geezer, at the lame ozzfest, the only high point of which was Sepultura, who ruled that night.
Unlike Gorgoroth’s Black Mass, there is nothing here but the band, some lights and a couple of big sabbath crosses (strangely reminding me of Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge, had it been built to “feet”). But they don’t need anything else. because they are an amazing band with an arsenal of amazing songs.
The deal itself? Well, the movie starts out with a really lame video for BöC’s The Marshall Plan, but then moves right into some awesome Sabbath… Starting their show off with War Pigs, Neon Nights and N.I.B., they really take the stage. It’s great but it is almost too great. Because when BöC come out (who I like quite a bit) and start of with some crappy song I’ve never heard before, Dr. Music, it sure seems a let down. They then perk it one with one of their best, Cities on Flame with Rock N Roll, but then drop the ball again with a boring (anti-Iran version) of Divine Wind (replete with an Ayatollah guitar player)…
Luckily, Sabbath retake the stage with Iron Man and the show goes on! If you have any interest in 1970′s hard rock or either of these bands, this rare little gem is certainly worth tracking down. The Cult are a great band, but as stage mates to Iommi and Sabbath, they really do pale. Sabbath is so good here, the movie is a must see.