Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rehashed Reviews :: The Stalk-N-Slash Edition

Happy Birthday to Me proclaims to claim six of the most bizarre murders you'll ever see. Well, I'm here to say that maybe half of them qualify for that. Still, despite its somewhat glacial pace, and a final reveal that makes no sense at all, the film is still worth your time.

Girls Nite Out, on the other hand, only has one reason and one reason only that makes it worth a once through. It has, hands down, the goofiest looking killer in cinematic history.

And then there's House of Death, whom I'm sure suckered in a lot of folks, myself included, with that nasty video-box art back in the day, only to find a giant turd-burger of a movie inside. Yes. The video box lied. Again.

Evil Laugh may be dumber than a bag of hammers, with a bad habit of killing off suspects as soon they're introduced, but, against all rational explanation, I kinda dig it. And it does deserve some credit for beating the self-awareness of the Scream franchise to the punchline by almost a decade.

And last, but not least, we have Sleepaway Camp, which, despite all of its shortcomings, deserves its legendary cult status for having one of the ballsiest shock-endings off all time. You see that? I actually kinda gave it away there. Wotta dick I am.

And fair warning, this Teenage Wastedland retrospective contains massive plot-spoilers with all killers and motivations revealed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Moments of Pure Cinema Fusion :: Bert I. Gordon's Jerks Do the Monkey : Village of the Giants (1965)

By definition, nuclear fusion is the process by which multiple like-charged atomic particles join together to form a heavier nucleus -- usually accompanied by the release of a massive amount of energy, depending on the elements involved. Applying that theory to film, there are certain moments in certain movies when the direction, cinematography, acting, editing, and soundtrack collide and merge into something I like to call Moments of Pure Cinema Fusion.

And here we have, perhaps, the absolute gob-smacking zenith of Bert I. Gordon's traveling-matte and forced-perspective fueled stoopidity, powered by the thundering and pounding licks of Jack Nitzche's "The Last Race."

Of course, it doesn't hurt your cause when you got Joy Harmon, Tisha Sterling and Gail Gilmore bouncing around like that for the boys, and Beau Bridges and Robert Random shaking their thang for the ladies.

Credit where credit is due:
Director: Bert I. Gordon / Screenplay:
Bert I. Gordon, Allen Calliou / Cinematography: Paul Vogel / Editing: John Bushelmen / Original Music: Jack Nitzche / Cast: Beau Bridges, Joy Harmon, Tisha Sterling, Tommy Kirk

Friday, August 20, 2010

Favorites :: Body Art : Happy 40th Birthday to Me!

Okay, okay ... I'm not officially forty until early December. But! I had promised myself a tattoo, my first, to honor the momentous occasion at the proper time. But! Long story short: There was a going away party. A lot of alcohol disappeared. A buddy of mine wanted some ink, too. More alcohol disappeared, aaaand here we are.

Need I say anymore on the inspiration?

And wait'll you see what I wanna put on the other arm!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Favorites :: Soundtracks : Neal Hefti's Brazen Saddle Sounds!

A native of Hastings, NE, my old stompin' grounds, Neal Hefti was an old school big-band swinger, who played, arranged and composed for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Harry James and Charlie Spivak. Despite this pedigree, most people only know Hefti as the guy who penned the highly obnoxious but very memorable theme to the old Batman TV show, meaning fewer realize that he also composed the equally obnoxious theme to The Odd Couple.

However, it was Hefti's penchant for forlorn horns and trippy guitar solos for the theme of a criminally overlooked western called Duel at Diablo that I've had stuck in my head since I first heard it many, many Movie-of-the-Weeks ago.

Hefti and some unknown studio musician.

First, we have a cut of the main title that didn't appear in the actual film but shows up as the last track on the LP. The haunting lyrics were penned and performed by Ernie Sheldon, who had collaborated with Hefti and Elmer Bernstein for the soundtrack of Lord Love a Duck.

Next, we have the Dust to Dust version that helped wrap the film up.

And last, but not least, we have the unaltered title track itself plus the bonus track of Bullets and Beans.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Price Victory?

"Not the victory, but the action."

"Not the goal, but the game."

"In the deed, the glory."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-- Hartley Burr Alexander

Or ...

You can take those platitudes and shove 'em straight up your ass.

Tanner Boyle

And just wait until next year!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Aw, shucks.

Hooray! And thanks to The Great White Dope for tagging me as a Versatile Blogger. I've said it elsewhere but it's worth repeating: appreciation from my peers is something I take very seriously and is much appreciated on my end. Now ... There are rules and regs for passing this honor along to other deserving bloganaires. To start with, tic off seven things about yourself:

1: I used to engrave tombstones for a living.
2: Turns out Dean Wormer was wrong. You can go through your whole life being fat, drunk and stupid -- but I wouldn't really recommend it.
3: Have owned seven cars in my lifetime.
4: I've wrecked six of them, explaining the seventh (and the inevitable eighth.)
5: My holy cinema trinity would probably be Bava, (Anthony) Mann and Honda.
6: I'm not very good with lists.
7: See entry #6.

As for passing this award along, check out these fine establishments:

Attack of the B-Movie Muzak
The League of Dead Films
Fantastic Flashbacks
Vintage Scans
Spooky Laboratory

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Movie Poster Spotlight :: Salvaging Your Cheese Danish :: Sidney Pink's Reptilicus (1961)

As the legend goes, when producer Samuel Z. Arkoff took a look at a rough cut of Sidney's Pink's Reptillicus (1961 / American International) it proved so phonetically challenged -- in that the Danish cast wasn't even close to pulling off a straight English voice track -- that Arkoff demanded the film be dubbed over. For those of you, like me, who've actually seen Denmark's only kaiju eiga movie, know for a fact that the canned voice-overs never quite matching up should have been the least of American International's worries, especially when a glorified sock-puppet is the backbone of your feature. Luckily, Reynold Brown was there to save the day by coaxing them in with another eye-popping poster campaign.

One Sheet ::

Three Sheet ::

Six Sheet ::

Insert ::

Half Sheet ::

Lobby Cards ::

Reptilicus (1961) Cinemagic :: Saga Studio :: American International Pictures / EP: Johann Zalabery / P: Samuel Z. Arkoff, Sidney W. Pink / D: Sidney W. Pink / W: Ib Melchior, Sidney W. Pink / C: Aage Wiltrup / E: Sven Methling, Edith Nisted Nielsen / M: Les Baxter, Sven Gyldmark / S: Carl Ottosen, Ann Smyrner, Mimi Heinrich, Asbjørn Andersen, Bodil Miller

YouTube Finds :: When Gloriously Awful Reaches its Atrocious Zenith : Sid Pink's Reptilicus (1961) Spreads its Wings...

How bad does something have to be before Sam Arkoff says it has to go? This bad, apparently:

The lost flying scenes of the Danish gigant væsen flick, Reptilicus.
(I think it's the slide-whistle that really sells it, don't you?)

My thoughts exactly, ma'am.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trailer Park :: Divine Disasters and Biblical Blunders...

And the director said, "Let there be light."

And there was light, and it was good. 

Then, the director said, "Let there be sound."


And then the director said, "Let there be action."

And lo, things, very verily, went to
hell in the proverbial hand-basket.

Video courtesy of Lion'sGateVOD.

There never really was a movie called ...And God Spoke. But that didn't stop Arthur and Mark Borman from co-writing and directing this hilarious mockumentary on movie-makers whose aptitude and skills don't quite match up to their visions of grandeur. Tapping into the This is Spinal Tap vein, the brothers Borman mined a lot of comedy gold from this well-worn conceit, laying bare the consequences when a cinematic vision is compromised by a healthy dose of Murphy's Law, where anything and everything that could go wrong goes wrong while trying to bring that vision to the screen on time and on budget. And, therefore, how those dreams and visions are, inevitably, dashed, grounded-up and stomped into the asphalt. In this case, all that was missing was the raining fire and falling brimstone.

The film centers on the valiant but ultimately futile efforts of two aspiring filmmakers, director Clive Walton (Riley) and producer Marvin Handleman (Rappaport), whose only experience thus far were a string of B-Movie turd-burgers -- She-Beast, Nude Ninjas and Alpha-Deatha-De-Kappa. But now, somehow, these two have managed to get major studio backing for a proposed adaptation of the Bible. All of it. From "In the beginning..." to "Happily ever after" boasts Handleman. Do the math, he adds. That's a four billion strong target audience, and then multiply that number times $7 a ticket ... Cha-ching, baby. Then, with this ambitiously epic -- and obviously delusional, goal set, with dollar signs dancing in their heads, the production moves forward. And as the documentary cameras turn an unflinching eye on these self-absorbed cretins, we see that these aren't really bad people. Misguided, sure, but they obviously care, and have good intentions, but then get so absorbed in the minutia on one end and the entrenched artistic conception on the other that it's far too late to really salvage anything when everything in between begins to unravel -- before the cameras even roll.

First, the 2,000-page, Divinely-influenced script needs a little reworking. And a few pre-production snags scrap location filming in the Holy Land, so the familiar sights of Bronson Canyon will have to be substituted. Casting goes nowhere. They want Marlon Brando for Moses, but they get Soupy Sales. (The only other real name actor they get is Eve "Jan Brady" Plumb to play Noah's wife.) And the actress cast for Eve has a pretty face, but failed to mention her full length body tattoo. Adam, meanwhile, is portrayed by a method actor who is ... well, blessed, and refuses to put his clothes back on. As things continue to get out of hand, and the budget keeps on escalating, principal shooting commences -- and then immediately stops. Nothing works. The special-effects fizzle, as the burning bush refuses to ignite; and there's major set problems, like when the replica of Noah's Ark won't fit on the sound stage; and crippling cast acrimony causes more delays, with Abel (Andy Dick) refusing to do his scene with Cain (Lou Ferrigno) because he thought Abel was supposed to win the fight; and the scenes where Jesus walks on the water grinds to a halt because no one knows for sure how many disciples the man had.

Obviously, it's been awhile since Sunday School for everyone involved. And as these proportionately biblical snafus and catastrophes keep stacking up the production finds itself terminally behind schedule, meaning some drastic cuts will have to made. So, either Sodom or Gomorra are out, only three plagues for Egypt, and a few other things will have to be cut out completely, like the Psalms, Deuteronomy ... the New Testament.

Horrified by the dailies, the studio immediately withdraws its money, leaving Clive and Marvin to try and raise more capital to finish the picture themselves -- including product placement. That's why Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with The Ten Commandments in one hand and a six-pack of Coke in the other. Tensions rise as the crew resorts to commando filmmaking, shooting the Nativity at a local church display without permission or permit. And even though at this point they aren't even speaking to each other anymore, our filmmakers refuse to let the production die.

Cobbling what little usable footage they have together with a shit-load of stock footage -- that never comes even close to matching up -- the bickering duo do their best to shore things up, including an accordion powered soundtrack. (It's the only instrument either could play.) Upon it's release, ... And God Spoke initially bombs, but proves so endearingly inept that it becomes a cult hit akin to Rocky Horror and The Room, convincing our filmmakers to try it again with The Iliad.

God help us all. 

I always get a kick out of these behind the scenes comedies: Living in Oblivion, Hollywood Boulevard I and II, Waiting for Gufmann and it's progeny. Heck, even a classic like Singing in the Rain spends a good portion of itself showing a movie studio's disastrous attempt to switch from silent to sound films. And this truly is one helluva funny film. From the vapid actors, the surly Union reps, the lazy grips, and the theme specific caterers, to the F/X, wardrobe and prop departments, they all prove to be just as inept as the two guys in charge, providing a nice framework for a series of comical disasters that would have even pushed the patience of Job past critical mass.

And God Spoke (1993) :: Brookwood Entertainment / P: Mark Borman / D: Arthur Borman / W: Greg Malins, Michael Curtis / S: Michael Riley, Stephen Rappaport, Soupy Sales, Eve Plumb, Andy Dick, Lou Ferrigno
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