Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jeff Chandler

Jeff Chandler's birthday today. Haven't seen many of his films but I'm a huge fan of the Our Miss Brooks radio program. Here's a clip of him on What's My Line.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'tis a puzzlement

The King and I soundtrack has been in my head for days now, no idea why, but I digress.

I stopped buying dvds for the most part after getting Netflix because I had found that I would buy something, watch it once and it would languish on the shelf mocking me every time I walked by. Netflix ended that for me. But now, after receiving a notice that 2 more films that were available at the time I added them to my queue are no longer available (WTF!) I took a peek at my saved section, (is saved the nice way of saying dear person who pays us every month you're never, ever, ever, going to get to see these?) I don't think I've ever had something come off of the saved list. And it is now 29 films long, argh!!! I mean some of them I have seen like Pin and Shivers but for fuck's sake Doctor Zhivago is on the list!!! Of course some of these may not be available on dvd yet like Antichrist, but most are available at some store somewhere.


Puzzlement: to buy or not to buy?

A Girl Cut in Two
Buster Keaton Rides Again/The Railroader
Doctor Zhivago
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Gregory's Girl
Death Walks at Midnight
Death Walks on High Heels
The Beyond
Room at the Top
Second Sight: Series 1
Shallow Grave
The Addiction
The Case of the Scorpion's Tail
The Chapman Report
The Devil Rides Out
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave
The Red Queen Kills Seven Times
The Stand: Disc 1
The Stand: Disc 2
The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh

End rant...for now

Monday, October 5, 2009

Scare Fest 1-3

Score so far, 1 hit and 2 misses.

First up, The Burning from 1981, one of Miramax's first films and an obvious attempt to capitalize on the slasher movie craze that was going on at the time. A summer camp caretaker is badly burned in a prank gone wrong, he is released from the hospital after 5 years and goes out to seek revenge (of course!) And where does he go to get revenge? He doesn't hunt down the boys who played the prank on him, he goes to a summer camp to kill all the kids there who had nothing to do with his being burned. Oh and coincidentally one of the counselors just happens to be one of the kids who was in on the prank, I don't think our baddie knew this, it was just pure luck for him. Seriously this movie bit, I wasn't scared at all and even fell asleep during the mass murder scene and missed all the Tom Savini effects, and I like Tom Savini :( What did I like about this movie? A young Jason Alexander (with hair) and a very young Fisher Stevens. That was it. Boo

Next up in the dud list is Witchfinder General from 1968. Now I will admit I found this movie watchable, but I am calling it a dud because it's not a horror movie, there was nothing scary in it at all. This movie is a fictionalized story of Mathew Hopkins who was a real witch hunter during the English civil war, Oliver Cromwell's time and all that. I think it's classified as a horror film because they are hunting witches, but there are no actual witches in the movie. It's more of a social commentary on the historical events of the time. Vincent price does a very good job in this, he's much more serious than he usually is in films like this. There are some nasty scenes with rape and torture, the movie is pretty somber throughout, and there is no happy ending. So I am calling this one a miss because it doesn't meet my definition of a horror movie, but it wasn't bad as a drama.

Lastly we have our only scary movie this go 'round, Dark Water from 2002 directed by Hideo Nakata who did Ring and Ring 2. This is the original Japanese version, not the American made Jennifer Connelly version, I don't like Jennifer Connelly at all, there I said it.

Anyway, Asian horror movies scare me in general, I feel a lack of control that I think is brought on by the subtitles. Because I don't get all the nuances of the dialogue that I do with an English language movie, I pay a lot more attention to the actor's facial expressions, their reactions to what is happening, and all the audio cues. This causes my imagination to go into hyperdrive. Oh and also, the ghost in this one is a little girl; little kid horror movies are always scary, they just creep the hell out of me. Dark Water involves a single mom and her daughter who move to an apartment being haunted by a little girl who went missing a few years ago. It takes mom a while to figure out what is going on but the actress who plays her, Hitomi Kuroki, is simply fabulous. I really liked this one and have slept with the lights on three nights in a row, always a sign of a good movie.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Movies to scare myself with

I came up with what I thought was a brilliant plan, watch 31 scary movies in October the only catch being that they had to be ones I hadn't already seen. I told the bf of my plan and he shot me down, "that's a movie a day, you can't do that", then Netflix shot me down because they are sadly lacking many of the movies I looked up. And then I shot myself down because I remembered that school starts back up on Tuesday. So I went with 22. To compile the list I used what was already in my queue and also Ed Hardy's post (and the lists from the post's comments) from last October, "31 Films that give you the Willies"

Dark Water
Witchfinder General
Let's Scare Jessica to Death
Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural
Knife in the Water
Deranged / Motel Hell
Cannibal Holocaust
The Burning
Kill Baby ... Kill!
Tombs of the Blind Dead
Who Can Kill a Child?
A Tale of Two Sisters
Black Christmas
The Stepford Wives

Where there was an American remake of a foreign original I went with the originals. I hope I manage to sleep next month.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tonight on Professor Fred's Movie Marvels

1959 AIP gem, produced by Roger Corman's brother Gene and written by Leo Gordon who also wrote Wasp Woman and The Terror both for Roger Corman. This is a B-movie at its discombobulated best as Prof. Fred would say. Human-sized leeches are living in an underwater cave in the Everglades, the leeches are capturing the townsfolk, holding them captive in their cave and draining their blood. A game warden, his girlfriend and her father investigate the disappearances. The leeches are of course men in silly rubber suits that look nothing like leeches, but it is pretty gross when they are bloodsucking their victims.

This one has reverted to Public Domain and is available for download at the Internet Archive for those of you who aren't in Seattle and therefore can't watch Professor Fred.

Friday, August 14, 2009

But that's my name, now I have to see it

Horror's Not Dead alerted me to this upcoming Swiss film called Cargo. From the Quiet Earth website:

The story of CARGO takes place on rusty space-freighter KASSANDRA on its way to Station 42. The young medic Laura is the only one awake while the rest of the crew lies frozen in hibernation sleep. In 4 months Laura's shift be over.

During her daily patrols, through the eerily empty ship, Laura begins to get the feeling that she is not alone on-board. A discovery mission in the dark and ice-cold cargo hold ends in catastrophe. The remainder of the crew is awakened. A cat and mouse game begins in which nothing is what it seems. What lies hidden in the strange freight containers and who, or what, is also on-board?

And because Arbogast showed us some windows yesterday, here's a window from the official Cargo website

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

10 Film Books

Two posts in one day after weeks of nothing, it can only mean that I am avoiding doing something else I should be doing, in this case my homework (Jess is going to yell at me).

In May a meme went out from The Dancing Image to list the 10 film books that had the greatest impact on you and your film viewing/views of film. It was open to all that read the post and I have spent the last months reading the responses and buying books because of it. Because although I stopped collecting dvds with the advent of Netflix, libraries just don't do enough for me and I simply MUST BUY MORE BOOKS. To get to the point, growing up my film reading consisted of biographies: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Gene Tierney, Louise Brooks and on and on. Other than reading From Reverence to Rape and The Genius of the System, I did not read books to learn about film, I read to learn about the actors. Now having grown up a bit, I am worshiping at the feet of sooo many film bloggers who all know far more than I and are able to write about film very eloquently. (see sidebar which is woefully inadequate, there are many more I need to add). So without any further ado, here is my list of 10 books I have purchased after reading what others have read or because of some other film blog influence:

  • A History of the French New Wave Cinema, Richard Neupert
  • American Movie Critics, ed. by Philip Lopate
  • Trash Cinephile, Blake Ryan
  • Ozu, Donald Richie
  • Essential Cinema, Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • 10,000 Ways to Die, Alex Cox
  • Godard on Godard
  • How to Read a Film, James Monaco
  • Asia Shock, Patrick Galloway
  • Surrealism and Cinema, Michael Richardson

Does a subscription to Cinema Retro count as well?

I'm not going to tag anyone because I'm pretty sure everyone has already been tagged. And now all I need is time to read them all.

Today in Movie History

Instead of getting ready for work I thought I'd google and see what happened today in movie history. The first thing I discovered is that it is the 15th anniversary of Peter Cushing's death. That's sad, I'm quite fond of him. Being a Hammer fan, He was in a lot of my favorite films.

I re-googled to find some happier news and discovered that on this day way back in 1963, Matango opened. Last summer when we took Professor Fred's film class which, was a survey of incredibly B movies, we watched Matango but it was called Attack of the Mushroom People for American audiences. I should have reviewed it for Greg's ode to Ed Wood. Matango is laughably horrible but entertaining and is the movie I remember most from the film class.

The movie is from Toho Studios, home of Godzilla, Mothra, et al. A small yacht carrying 5 people is blown off course to an island where the only food they can find is roots and turtle eggs until the mushrooms are discovered. They take shelter in a much larger shipwreck on the island and set about trying to stay alive and repair their boat so they can leave the island. You can pretty much guess what happens once the mushrooms are eaten.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


My apologies, it being July I am currently Tour de France obsessed and have had little time for anything else. I did mention previously that I was going to watch several Claude Chabrol films as inspired by Flickhead's blogathon. Since then, Greg has had an Ed Wood blogathon which I am still needing to partake of and I'm not quite done with my Claude Chabrol list.

Flickhead's Chabrol collection
Greg's Ed Wood collection

I owe you reviews of:
  • Les Bonnes Femmes
  • Les Biches
  • The Butcher
  • The Unfaithful Wife
  • Violette
  • Betty
from the Giallo fest:
  • The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion
  • The Black Belly of the Tarantula
and from way back in March
  • Perversion Story
  • The Frightened Woman
  • The Devil's Nightmare
  • Danger Diabolik
If I continue to delay, please feel free to send the blogging police after me for dereliction of duties.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Claude Chabrol Blogathon

Flickhead is having a Claude Chabrol blogathon the 21st through the 30th. I am completely unfamiliar with Claude Chabrol, so will be spending a lot of time there over the next 9 days. I've got five randomly chosen Chabrol films on top of my Netflix queue, hopefully I will have time to absorb the bulk of them during the blogathon. This of course means that regularly scheduled programming will resume after the blogathon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Let the Right One In

After complaining last night about not having a movie to watch, I remembered I could watch my queue on my computer. I chose to watch Let the Right One In (2008) a Swedish vampire movie. I picked it because I am quite fond of vampires and vampire movies, but this film was completely unexpected. The film tells the story of 12 year-old Oskar who becomes friends with 12 year-old Eli when she moves in next door.

Oskar is a sad boy who lives with his mom in Sweden. His parents are divorced and while it is obvious Oskar enjoys spending time with his dad, he does not appear to understand his father's new lifestyle. Oskar is mercilessly bullied at school and does not have any friends until Eli moves next door.

Eli lives with her father and is a vampire. At first she does not want to be friends with Oskar, but eventually their shared loneliness draws them together and they become friends. Eli's arrival coincides with a serious of unexplained murders; her father is killing people and draining them of their blood to feed Eli. Eli encourages Oskar to stand up to the bullies and Oskar in turn is accepting of Eli's being a vampire. A romance develops between Oskar and Eli that is threatened by dramatic events and is heartbreaking to watch. The scenes where Oskar teaches Eli Morse code so they can communicate between their shared bedroom wall is very sweet.

This film is visual poetry. It is at it's core a sweet coming-of-age story of two lonely, fragile adolescents one of whom happens to be a vampire. The two actors, Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson do a marvelous job portraying Oskar and Eli. The film was shot during a Swedish winter and the cinematography serves to emphasize the feelings of the lead characters. There is a shot of two treetops against the gray sky, the tree leaves are frozen and are sparkling in the light; the shot is absolutely breathtaking. The film won several international cinematography and photography awards.

This is a very moving film to watch, I was happy that I saw it but I was also sad because it was hard to watch Oskar and Eli; I could feel their loneliness as I watched. Ultimately the film uses vampirism to teach the viewer about acceptance, friendship, and love; I highly recommend it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Do You Netflix or Do You Buy?

I used to hate buying dvd's because you spend the money and you watch the movie maybe once or twice, it's a rip-off. Blockbuster annoyed me because they never had anything good. Netflix was my savior, I can get old movies, new movies, watch them whenever I want. I watch sooo many more movies without buying them and having them sit gathering dust. But now, I have a tiny voice inside my head and it says oooh that one was good we should buy it. Oh and that one was good too, let's buy it as well. And I can feel it coming, pretty soon I'm going to start buying more and more of them. I bought two already, I want more. I want a bookcase filled with them so I can watch them any time I want without having to wait for Netflix. Because now Netflix with it's two-day turnaround has become too slow for me. And tonight is even worse because I got out of sync with my Netflix schedule and don't have a movie for tonight. And 10pm on Saturdays is when I like to watch them all by myself, in the dark. I HAVE NO GIALLO TO WATCH TONIGHT AND ITS DRIVING ME NUTS!

So, how about you? Do you Netflix or do you prefer to buy? (I'm pretending I have an audience here)

Newly discovered blog recommendation: Doomed Moviethon

Here's a preview for what will be arriving on Monday:

Don't Torture a Duckling (1972)

Next up in our giallo-fest is Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling or Non Si Sevizia Un Paperino in Italian. Lucio Fulci is one of the triumvirate of Italian horror directors, the others being Dario Argento and Mario Bava. Fulci is known as the Godfather of Gore, fans of his gore-fests will not be delighted by Don't Torture a Duckling as it is light on the gore. It is, however, a very good thriller that kept me guessing until almost the very end.

The plot of this one is pretty good. In a small Italian village full of superstitious natives and even a local witch doctor, a serious of murders of young boys is occurring. The state police are called in to help whittle down what is a shockingly large suspect list for such a small village. The list of suspects includes the village idiot who also happens to be a Peeping Tom, the witch doctor, the witch doctor's girlfriend, the priest's mother, and the daughter of the village's richest man who has been sent home due to getting in trouble with drugs in the big city. One by one the suspects are eliminated (some literally) and the job of solving the crime falls on the shoulders of a reporter.

The film makes some interesting commentaries. The village and its residents, looking as if they are trapped in time, are juxtaposed against an ultra-modern super freeway; the incongruity is jarring. The priest's mother is a suspect simply because her daughter is mute and slow for her age. There are jabs at mob mentality, superstition, and the Catholic church. The boys that were killed are shown to be not nice at all, almost as if the film is saying that they deserved to die because they were rotten. The daughter of the rich man likes to tease the young boys and call them up late at night for assignations. And there are fat hookers.

The film is well-made, handles its subject matter well, is not overly gratuitous in its obligatory nude scene and kept me entertained throughout. I can wholeheartedly recommend this one.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Case of the Bloody Iris

I believe I mentioned previously that I was going to have a mini-Giallo fest. Well make it an intermittent-fest, I have no desire to go mini with it. I have my list, and my first one is The Case of the Bloody Iris, hence the title of this post.

I would like to interrupt myself with two coincidences. Firstly, I was on Flickr and did a search for Edwige Fenech, what I found was a ton of screen shots from the very movie I had just watched, they outnumbered all other Fenech screen shots immensely. All were posted by Will Kane. Secondly, being curious I went to Will Kane's blog and the most recent post (that day) was about Yuki 7 which just happens to be my latest obsession. More on Yuki 7 can be found at Kevin Dart's fabulous blog. I want to be Yuki!

Back to the film... (all images are courtesy of Will Kane's Flickr set)

The Case of the Bloody Iris is a giallo most fine, I think. It featured all of our giallo requirements, although the gloves were yellowish-brown and not black. And we have the lovely, often topless Edwige Fenech as our heroine and her frequent costar George Hilton. The story starts with the murder of a hooker in the elevator of a very nicely architectured apartment house. A lovely stripper/ building resident named Mizar finds the body and soon finds herself murdered and the plot thickens. Edwige and her friend Marilyn move into Mizar's vacant apartment courtesy of George Hilton who just happens to own the building. We have a plethora of suspects, George, the old lady next door to Edwige, the lesbian and/or her father on the other side of Edwige, and even Edwige's estranged husband Adam. (Adam was an excuse for some kaleidoscopic group sex).

There are some fabulolus 70's fashions, an excellent score, red herrings o'plenty (I did not figure out who it was), and some very good shots involving mirrors. The funny bits were funny and the gory bits were brightly colored. There was also one very shocking stabbing that took place on a crowded sidewalk; the apathy of the passersby is quite disturbing as no one seems to notice the victim lurching down the sidewalk with blood coming out of her. This film made an excellent start to the Giallo-fest, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

The Do-It-Yourself Giallo Kit

This is fun, it's a little generator that will create plots, director, and title for your own Giallo movie.

Here's mine:

From Braineater

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


And here are same pictures that prove that Christopher Lee is quite handsome. Because the man has been in over 250 films, he deserves to have his birthday greeting show him without fangs. (although he is my favorite Dracula!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

In the Folds of the Flesh

I don't know where to begin. This was sooo bad but I think it should be watched in spite of it. The movie is a mess, a huge mess, but a glorious mess. Its almost like you have to see it to believe it. It started with a typo and then just got progressively worse. There were Nazis, a gratuitous dog murder, some gratuitous naked girls being murdered, about four or five other murders, incest, two crazy women, cyanide baths, pet vultures (one of whom was also murdered) and a plot that just got more confusing as it went along. But you know what? I never got bored, the damn thing held my interest for the whole crazy ride. Crazy sixties fashions, wowza technicolor, and some marvelously swirly opening credits (I liked the colors). It was supposed to be a giallo, I think, but was more of a giallo send-up. It felt as if the director was intentionally being as over-the-top as possible because he knew it was the only way people would remember the movie. I'm going to recommend the movie but you must take note that I am recommending it because it is bad, not because it is good.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Sinking of the Lusitania, Winsor McCay

Animation by Winsor McCay, drawn in 1918. It's hard to read the titles but it says that there were 25,000 drawings and each one had to be filmed separately. Winsor McCay is perhaps best known for Gertie the Dinosaur from 1914. Gertie is the first film to use keyframe animation.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What started me going or wait a minute there's no giant in this movie

I would like to point you in the direction of Out of the Past for a post about my favorite movie, Giant. When people ask you something like what was the most influential moment of your life or ask me how I came about my love of the movies I would say that my Grandma Francie did it with the giant. I remember being very little and being over at my Grandma's house, excited and a little scared because Grandma and I were going to watch a movie with a giant in it. I couldn't wait to see what the giant looked like, but it never showed up. Instead what I saw was a dirty man covered in black gook, a tea party, a birthday party, and a boy on a pony. The man covered in black gook made quite the impression on me because after becoming a teenager, instead of the typical rock star posters on my bedroom walls, I had walls covered with James Dean posters. Twenty-five years later I still have every one of those posters. I know that I must have seen other movies before seeing Giant, but this is the first movie I can remember seeing; I give it full credit for influencing my love of old movies. Also, thanks to Giant, I have read almost every single book by Edna Ferber and own most of them as well. I know all the words to Yellow Rose of Texas. Oh and ahem, my cat is named Ferber. So as you can guess, I was pretty excited to discover Out of the Past today and now Giant is influencing me once again as I write this little post.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What's up with my brain?

Laying in bed this morning in that weird half asleep still groggy and sleeping state of mind and the strangest sentence popped into my head: "I hate you with the fury of a thousand scorned worms" I have no idea where it came from, but I did find some angry worms for you to watch. I love this movie!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I don't recommend working full-time and taking three classes in a quarter if you also plan on keeping up with a blog. Right now I have the next TOERIFC selection at home which I cannot post about here. My plan when I get some time is to have a mini-Giallo fest. In the meantime I'm going to go do some more homework. You sit tight and watch these:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Les Diaboliques

I had seen this on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, I didn't think it was scary but it was suspenseful. This is the story of two women, Christina and Nicole and the man they share who happens to be Christina's husband. The husband, Michel, runs a boys school which Christina happens to own. Nicole is one of the teachers and Michel's mistress. Instead of hating each other, the two women are friends, finding sympathy with each other because Michel is an ass to both of them. Christina and Nicole take a school holiday to visit Nicole's hometown. While there, they lure Michel to come see Christina and then they drown him in the tub. They drive his body back to the school and dump it in the pool with the idea that it will look like he fell in. But when the pool is eventually drained, there is no body. The rest of the film is Christina and Nicole trying to figure out what happened to the body and wondering if Michel's ghost is haunting them.

Prior to this, my only knowledge of Simone Signoret was what I had read of Marilyn Monroe having an affair with her husband, Yves Montand, and not understanding why Yves wouldn't leave Simone for her. Well, Simone Signoret is generally acknowledged as one of the best actors in French Cinema having won an Academy Award, a BAFTA, an Emmy, a Golden Globe, recognition at Cannes and a Silver Bear. I'll need to see more films with her in them, but what came across in this one is that she definitely has charisma.

I'm recommending this as one to watch. Although I do want to say boo to Criterion for not having any extras on the disc.

Simone and Laurence Harvey in Room at the Top for which she won the Academy Award

Sunday, April 19, 2009

List to Self - Giallos to Watch

Going through a Giallo faze, got the list from Wikipedia, all the links go back to there. I love lists. Now Giallo itself means yellow in Italian, the genre got its name from pulp paperbacks full of lurid tales of murder, sex, and violence; the covers were usually yellow, several of those books were turned into films and a genre was born. Some think that Giallo can mean any Italian thriller and some require more structure before terming something Giallo, the killer wears black gloves and has or had some kind of psychological problems, there should be lots of gore, beautiful women and nudity. Fantastic cinematography and great music are also required. Perversion Story is an excellent example of is it or isn't it Giallo as it can swing both ways. The back of the dvd box says its a Giallo, but there is no gore and no killer wearing black gloves; however it does fulfill the requirements for murder, sex, beautiful women, and nudity.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It's supposed to animate, G'dammit!!!

Thank you to Giallo Fever for pointing me to The Deuce Grindhouse Cinema Database, a site I could easily spend hours exploring. From their site: This is a site dedicated to Exploitation genre films from the 1930s - early 1980s. Our main goal at The Deuce is to include as much information about that bygone era as we can and make this the ULTIMATE online classic Exploitation film wiki/database.

My apologies to The Deuce, I couldn't get stupid Blogger to animate your button in the sidebar.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Taste the Blood of Dracula

I'm not going to describe this one, the trailer says it all. (can you tell I've learned how to embed youtube clips?) All the standard Hammer items are here, nubile young women, earnest lovesick heroes, strawberry sauce for blood, awesome music, but there is one thing missing and that's Dracula himself. It seems that Christopher Lee was feuding with Hammer over salary when this was written so it was written as a showpiece for the Lord Courtley character (he who tastes the blood) but Warners wouldn't release a Dracula movie without Christopher Lee so Dracula was written in. He gets very little screen time but what's there is effective. The script being so Dracula-light had to be more inventive and I think because of that its a slightly better script than usual, its also well-acted, and well-shot. I also liked the tie-in with Dracula Has Risen from the Grave which is my favorite of the Hammer Dracula films.

Should you watch it? Of course because #1 its a Dracula movie and they should all be watched, and #2 because its a Hammer and they should all be watched.

I really liked Linda Hayden, I did a google search and discovered she is in something called Blood on Satan's Claw which sounds marvelously promising, unfortunately stupid Netflix doesn't have it.

While we're here I wanted to mention that this gentlemen is doing his PHD project on Exclusive films who was the distribution arm for Hammer. And for more Hammer delight, please check out Hammer and Beyond via the sidebar.

Oh and lastly, did you notice in the trailer that the announcer says "clammy excitement"? WTF is that and why does he make it sound like a good thing?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sweet Movie

Sweet Movie, full of unenlighted lunacy, is not really a film at all. It is a social disease.

- Jay Cocks, 1975

Sweet Movie [is] in effect the most concentrated work I know that follows out the idea that the way to assess the state of the world is to find out how it tastes (a sense modality not notably stressed by orthodox epistemologists but rather consigned to a corner of aesthetics) – which means both to find out how it tastes to you and how it tastes you, for example, to find out whether you and the world are disgusting to one another […]

The film attempts to extract hope – to claim to divine life after birth – from the very fact that we are capable of genuine disgust at the world; that our revoltedness is the chance for a cleansing revulsion; that we may purge ourselves by living rather than by killing, willing to visit hell if that is the direction to something beyond purgatory; that the fight for freedom continues to originate in the demands of our instincts, the chaotic cry of our nature, our cry to have a nature. It is a work powerful enough to encourage us to see again that the tyrant’s power continues to require our complicitous tyranny over ourselves.

- Stanley Cavell, 1979

Umm, hmmm how to do this one? Well let's start with the plot. There are two different stories being told in this movie:

Story #1 We start in 1984 where Miss Canada, played by Carole Laure, has just been crowned Miss World Virginity. The prize? A ton of money and marriage to the richest man in the world who happened to be the sponsor of the contest. You see the man, a dairy owner (milk is pure you see), (John Vernon of Animal House fame) is tired of catching things from the prostitutes he visits and has decided he must marry a pure woman in order to avoid any future diseases. Unfortunately his mind is not pure and the wedding night involves some kinks that are just too much for Miss Canada and she freaks out and wants to leave. She his held against her will and eventually an employee who lives in a water tower is supposed to kill her. More drama ensues and Miss Canada ends up stuffed inside a suitcase and put on a plane where she ends up in Paris. She hooks up with a Latin singer on the Eiffel Tower, but this does not end well for our poor girl either and eventually she joins a commune. This commune, full of people with interests in bodily functions, welcomes our girl, and she seems to have finally found a home.

Story #2 A woman named Anna, (Anna Prucnal) who also happens to be a radical, is steering a large boat filled with candy down a river. A wandering sailor (Pierre Clementi) comes aboard and they become lovers. There is a large hanging platform full of sugar that becomes a bed, a mouse, some murdering, a very naughty dance in front of school boys, some yummy looking candy, and maybe a serial killer.

These stories take place simultaneously and are interspersed with some very disturbing scenes involving autopsies, experiments involving babies, and mass graves which are all taken from footage of real incidents.

I watched this movie last March and I didn't write about it then because I wasn't sure if I could. I didn't understand what the movie was trying to say although it was obvious that the director was trying to say something. I didn't even know if I had enjoyed it. I knew that I had enjoyed the performances, especially Carole Laure. I liked the photography, the music, and I think I laughed where I was supposed to laugh. And I was definitely shocked at the shocking bits and there are plenty of them. But this damn movie has been in my head for the last year and I can't get it out!

Lorraine Mortimer has written a book about the director, Dusan Makavejev, and you can find an excerpt from the book which discusses this movie far better than I could ever hope to at this site. The quotes at the top are from that site as well.

Should you watch this movie? Yes, if you don't mind seeing some very disturbing imagery and if you don't mind having your brain challenged, I say definitely watch the movie. If you're looking for a popcorn, mindless entertainment, fun way to spend a few hours then skip this one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Preview of Coming Attractions and Today's Feature

I dreamed up a marvelous (at least in my mind) sentence the other night when I couldn't sleep:

It started out as a really sweet movie but then turned into a perversion story because the frightened woman had the devil's nightmare and woke up screaming "danger diabolik"!

All of those films are on the top of my to-post list which I will get to just as soon as I can peel my butt away from the tv. I really must get a laptop.

Today's film was Trilogy of Terror, seen it before but wanted to watch again to see if it retained any of the scariness I remember from childhood. (My mom made me watch it with her when I was little because she was scared to watch it alone). So far the scare factor hasn't held up, but ask me again in the middle of the night when I'm hearing little zuni warrior footsteps.

brief interruption: Holy Crikey you can buy one!!!
image courtesy of MWC Toys

There were some featurettes on the dvd, one with Karen Black and one with Richard Matheson. Karen Black had an interesting thing to say about horror vs. science fiction. She said that horror always involves a body being cut up in some way and lots of blood and gore whereas while science fiction might have some blood, it is distinctly different from horror. She said that she has always done science fiction and not horror and she does not appreciate it when horror and science fiction are lumped together. She thinks it is not very literate of people to do so.

Richard Matheson also appears to have a disdain of horror which he says lately is the same story over and over. Teenagers drink, have sex, do something awful and one by one are hacked to pieces. Matheson says that he is not a writer of horror but a writer of terror; that you can be much scarier if you never show the monster. I'm quite fond of the monster myself, but I can see his point.

Back to the movie, it has become a bit of a cult classic so for that reason I can recommend it. But please bear in mind that it is a tv movie so will have pauses where the commercials went and is somewhat tame compared to a theatrical release. But it is well-directed and acted so go for it.

I am headed back to the tv now to watch the second half of today's double feature, George C. Scott starring in The Changeling.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Sentinel 1977

The sleeve this came in from Netflix said this was Universal's answer to The Exorcist. Right! They wish. This movie is about a model who hasn't lived on her own and wishes to get her own apartment. The apartment she finds has very strange neighbors; lesbian dancers downstairs, a former magician upstairs, two sisters in another unit, and on the top floor a blind priest who sits in front of the window 24/7. The building is owned by the New York Diocese and may or may not be haunted or it could be that the model may or may not be crazy. Built into the plot is the model's attorney boyfriend with a dead ex-wife who may or may not have committed suicide and the NYPD detective out to prove that the ex-wife was murdered.

Let's move on to the all-star cast. Christina Raines as Allison the model and Chris Sarandon as her boyfriend. Deborah Raffin as Allison's best friend, Jeff Goldblum as a photographer, Jerry Orbach as a client. Ava Gardner as the real estate agent and Tom Berenger as a tenant. Eli Wallach as the detective and Christopher Walken as his partner. Syliva Miles and Beverly D'Angelo as the lesbian dancers and Burgess Meredith as the former magician. Jose Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy, and John Carradine as various priests. This cast was absolutely incredible to watch and they definitely made the movie. My favorite is Burgess Meredith who walks around with his pet parakeet on his shoulder and his pet cat in his arms.

I didn't find this movie scary at all, but I did enjoy it and frankly if I lived in that apartment I would put up with a lot more than Allison did, that apartment was to die for! But then again, I wouldn't have moved out of the boyfriends apartment as it was equally fabulous. Anyhow, I'm giving this movie a baby bottom up because it was entertaining all the way through, the actors did good jobs, especially Burgess Meredith, and the 70's New York locations were another co-star in themselves.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia

Today's film (vs. movie, I'm all serious now) is the first film to be discussed by The Oldest Established Really Important Film Club or TOERIFC. I watched the film earlier today and then went to Ferdy on Films to read Marilyn's review and join in the discussion. The film is a documentary about photographer Shelby Lee Adams and his take on life in the Appalachians. The discussion so far is centered on whether Adams is manipulative, exploitative, poetic, documentarian or what. For me, Adams' work and the film raised a lot more questions than they answered and I'm actually not sure how I'm supposed to feel about either.

Photo of Berthie as featured in The True Meaning Of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia. Click on the photo to go to Adams' blog.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sisters, 1973 Brian DePalma

Starring Margot Kidder as formerly conjoined twins Danielle and Dominique one of whom may or may not have committed murder. William Lisle is the doctor who separated the twins and who happens to be Danielle's ex-husband. Jennifer Salt is the nosy reporter with a thing for spying on her neighbors, and Charles Durning is the private eye.

The movie is one of the most blatant Hitchcock "homages" I have ever seen, complete with score by Bernard Hermann (Psycho and Vertigo). That being said it is acted well and edited fantastically and kept me entertained through the whole thing. The plot is a mish-mash of Psycho and Rear Window; Jennifer Salt watching out her apartment window witnesses a murder in Margot Kidder's apartment, but by the time she convinces the cops to show up and they go to Margot's apartment there is no body and no traces of murder. Jennifer Salt spends the rest of the movie trying to prove that a murder did occur and that Margot Kidder committed it.

The movie is gorier than your typical Hitchcock; why does blood have to look like strawberry sauce?? But I really dug the 70's interiors, Margot Kidder's French-Canadian accent is amazing; she didn't sound like her normal self at all, Charles Durning rocks every scene he's in, the Doctor creeped me out, a very young Olympia Dukakis was a treat to see, and I loved the cow!! If there had never been a Hitchcock I would have given this movie two huge baby bottoms up, but even still I can heartily recommend it.