Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Devil's Hand

A Brylcreemed dude has a recurring dream of a dancing girl and finds a doll that looks just like her in this not-very-thrilling thriller. So there's a spartan doll shop filled with creepy dolls, grown women who seem to like creepy dolls that look like them, gauzy nightgowns, thought transference, a subterranean temple to The Devil God Cambo or Googoo or some such nonsense, gigantic convertibles, several dance sequences, unconvincing bongos, jazz flute, voice-over narration, countless cocktails, flaming braziers, and Commissioner Gordon from the Batman TV show of the sixties. There's also stock horse racing footage, stock building on fire footage, a miniature car careens off a cliff, and a not-so-daring escape is foiled by a toss pillow. The moral of the story: Don't mess with The Cult Of Gumbo or Gaboo or Whatever because it's pretty boring. I watched The Devil's Hand on the DVD set 32 Drive-In Cult Classics because the New Release section of Netflix hasn't changed significantly in over a month. Here's a trailer:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Carnival Of Crime

Carnival Of Crime is, well, um, I'm not sure what it is. Crudely fashioned from chunks of other terrible movies, one of the larger chunks has something to do with sudsy South American inter-office romance and murder, and one of the smaller chunks has something to do with foliage-obscured mushtached mercenaries looking through binoculars and walking into tree branches. You'll see plenty of stock airplane footage, stock boat explosion footage, stock monkey footage, and stock otter footage. There are jungle sound effects and lots of Foster-Grants. There's also shaky camera-work, haphazard editing, awful dialogue, and an over-all first take feel. The film score and film stock seems to come from two distinct eras. The soapy romance has actual sets with real furniture, while the mercenary part was filmed in the woods and sets consist of various twigs and chicken wire. Talky and boring, nothing ever seems to happen. I watched a dreadful print on the DVD set 32 Drive-In Cult Classics, and I sure wish I hadn't. Here is a clip:

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Yawn. Oh, I'm sorry. Seems as though I nodded off there, and my face landed on the keyboard. I'll try not to let it happen again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


A masked villain plays chicken on the highway, buries a youngster in concrete, and knocks people unconscious in this not-very-thrilling thriller. There are plastic spiders, a cobweb covered wild west ghost town, various sedans, lots of sweaters, some 30-year old teenagers with a Sal Mineo/Frankie Avalon vibe who fall down a lot, several unconvincing fight scenes, a door-related continuity error, and a little male-on-male hair pulling. It's reminiscent of the Val Lewton thrillers of the 40's if those sucked, and it's terrifying if you're terrified of things that are boring. I watched it on the DVD set called 32 Drive-In Cult Classics, and by watching it I mean I nodded off several times but that was probably the Joseph Campbell kicking in. Here's a clip from the beginning of the movie that has a lot of promise that the rest of the film fails to live up to.

A Cemetery Special

A Cemetery Special is exactly that, an hour-long documentary about cemeteries, famous dead people, and headstones. I liked it, but then again I'm probably partial, because I have no problem wandering around a cemetery for hours. They're peaceful, fascinating, educational and filled with lovely flora and fauna. Maybe I'm just creepy. Whatever. Judge me if you like, but I find it creepy to wander around a mall. Suum cuique pulchrum est. Get off my back about it. I watched it on Netflix and finally got it out of my queue.

Sorry, there doesn't seem to be a clip.

Joseph Campbell: Mythos I

Joseph Campbell: Mythos I is the lecture series the comparative mythology expect conducted shortly before his death about myth and psychology. It's dry and scholarly, and sadly seems to cut away just as it starts to get good. Playing like a seminar or college course, it's not much to look at. Evidently, that's the way he wanted it. He talks about Navajo Indians, Jung, Dante, sand paintings, Dali, occasionally points to various pictures, diagrams and drawings, and every once in a while Susan Sarandon puts her two cents in and reads from a cue card. Overall, it's still brainy and fascinating stuff, and recommended if you like that sort of thing. I watched it on Netflix.

Sorry, there doesn't seem to be a clip.

Decoding Dogs

Dogs: Decoded is a very interesting documentary about dogs, but you probably already knew that. It's up to the usual PBS/Nova standards. Did you know dogs can understand the meaning when a human points its finger, and that wolves and chimpanzees can't? Neither did I. I watched Dogs: Decoded on Netflix because the selection still sucks. Here's a clip:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Point Blank

Point Blank (A Bout Portant) is a gritty and monochromatic French action film where a man becomes involved in crime after the kidnapping of his pregnant wife. Taut and thrilling, if sometimes predictable, it's well shot and exciting. I enjoyed it. I watched it on Netflix, and I'm just as surprised as you are. Here's a trailer:

They Saved Hitler's Brain

People are kidnapped and taken to an island where everyone stands around and looks guilty in this baffling film. You'll see rolled up dungarees, confusing day-for-night shots, an unconvincing fight with a guy wearing a neckerchief, a momentarily shirtless and anesthetized Hitler, a shootout involving an unconvincingly nervous dancing girl, a fountain inexplicably carpeted with astroturf, a physics-defying flashlight, an unusually busy basement corridor, and a blinking Hitler head in a gigantic jar riding in the back of a sedan with suspiciously darkened windows. Nothing about this film makes a lick of sense, and it's highly recommended if you like stuff that sucks. I watched it on the DVD set called 32 Cult Drive-In Classics, but it's called The Madmen Of Mandoras for some reason. Here's a trailer that attempts to explain the plot, but it's not especially helpful:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Daguerrotypes: A Good One

Experimental film-maker Agnes Varda documents the ordinary day-to-day activities of the shopkeepers on Rue Daguerre in Paris during the seventies in this lovely film. While it's nice to see a vintage slice of life such as this put on the screen for posterity, I am awfully glad huge multinational corporations have put an end to these quaint homespun shenanigans. Why would anyone need a neighborhood butcher, baker, or accordion-maker when Walmart can put those local shops out of business, gut the landscape, raze the houses, pave everything, and provide cheaply manufactured items from China for you? Who should you trust; the guy standing directly in front of you expertly cutting a sirloin steak for you, or rising before dawn to handcraft a baguette for you, or repairing that wobbly key on your accordion, or a huge faceless corporation? Why, the corporation of course, because a corporation is people and everyone likes people, and corporations only have your best interest at heart. Or their bottom line. One or the other. Regardless, I'm 100% behind the gutting and razing and paving of Main Street and preserving my bottom line, and you should be behind preserving my bottom line, too. Anyway, Daguerrotypes is a well-shot and fascinating film that seems like you're poignantly flipping through someone's antique photo album. I watched it on Netflix and got it the heck out of my queue.

Sorry, there doesn't seem to be a clip available.

Alphaville: A Good One

An absurd avant-garde sci-fi noir film, Alphaville is filled with fedoras and overcoats and synchronized swimmers who drown firing squad victims. Shot in beautiful black and white; it's poetic, surreal, and lovely. This film reminded me of The Tree Of Life, and I almost felt bad for The Tree Of Life as it will never be the film Alphaville is. Again, I almost felt bad but that's impossible as I'm incapable of feeling guilt. I watched it on Netflix because I have 200 movies in my queue and they ain't gonna watch themselves. Here's a clip:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Invention Of Dr. Nakamats: A Good One

Eccentric IgNobel Prize-winning, sumo-wrestling, camera-sniffing, supposed floppy disc-inventing shameless self-promoter Dr. Nakamats is featured in this whimsical documentary. He's been photographing and analyzing every meal for the past 34 years. Me too! Well, not for 34 years, and not every meal. Need to step up my game. Anyway, here's garlic bread:

I hope I'm half as driven and wacky as he is at 80. I watched this film on Netflix. One more out of the queue! Here's a clip:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dark City: A Good One

A guy tries to remember stuff in this sci-fi noir film. Dark City is art directed within an inch of its life, it's breathlessly edited and someone definitely forgot to turn on the lights. There are fedoras and overcoats and bald floating aliens with knives dressed in bondage gear. Who doesn't love that? There's a nice tension throughout and it's very stylish. The score is very effective. I enjoyed the use of the circle as a recurring motif. Apparently there's a Director's Cut. I would watch that. I watched Dark City on DVD because there's nothing on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Frankenstein's Castle Of Freaks: A Terrible One

Count (or Doctor. They're both used) Frankenstein experiments unconvincingly on a giant with huge eyebrows in a secret underground laboratory with windows in this badly dubbed film. There's lounge-y organ music, a gigantic polka dot top hat, a lascivious dwarf, several hunchbacks, nudity-defying editing (at least in the version I watched), plunging negligees, and a mud-bath that's critically important to what little plot there is. Some key lines of dialogue include, "He's probably the healthiest patient I've ever had.", "Since I don't know your name I'll call you Ook.", and "This dress is designed to get out of quickly.". The whole affair is boring, dumb, confusing, and a little icky. If you're looking for a film that has the classic Frankenstein's Monster in it, look somewhere else. If you'd like to see a giant and a neanderthal awkwardly wrestle this is the movie for you, but you still should watch something else. I watched it at bmovies.com because they haven't added anything new to Netflix in almost forever. Here's a link:


Gargoyles: A Terrible One

A station wagon driving anthropologist with a thing for demons gets chased around by gargoyles in this made-for-TV movie. There's Eunice Tate from Soap in a bikini top, Dr. Julia Hoffman from Dark Shadows sipping a cocktail, a couple of instances of gargoyle hit-and-run, a Willie catches on fire, and someone throws a chicken. Except for the visible zippers and the fact they look a little Sleestak-y, the gargoyle costumes are pretty bad-ass. It's great cheese. I watched Gargoyles at bmovies.com. Here's a link:


Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Bell From Hell: A Terrible One

A pensive-looking dude with a fondness for turtlenecks drives a motorcycle in the seventies and says very little in this dreary and pretentious revenge film. There's plenty of livestock, waves crash on rocks, and fog enshrouds a castle on the beach and not much else happens. The bell in the title makes a couple of brief appearances, but I'm not sure why. In fact, I'm not certain what happens in this movie, but I don't think it matters much. The whole mess is incoherent, slow-moving, and fairly rape-y. Avoid as if it were covered in a mysterious sticky substance. It's 90 minutes of bell-free hell. I watched it on bmovies.com because the title was intriguing and there was the promise that someone was going to bleed from the eyes. Here's a trailer and a link:


Winnebago Man: A Good One

Jack Rebney is my hero.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bill Cunningham: New York: A Good One

Bill Cunningham: New York is the story of the bicycling New York Times fashion photographer. Or is it the story of New York? The line is definitely blurred, as it seems that many New Yorkers simply would not be able to get dressed in the morning if the threat of Bill Cunningham and his omnipresent camera were not there. He is a bad-ass, and I can only wish to have the drive, spirit, and energy today that he has at 80. This documentary is excellent. I watched it on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

The Story Of 1: A Good One

Terry Jones narrates this intriguing documentary about the numeral. Did you know that ancient Egypt invented the number 1,000,000, and it was visualized by a drawing of a figure of a minion pleading for mercy? Neither did I, and I really should have known. I had lots of minions, and I have lots of millions. Anyway, this documentary is up to the usual PBS standards, although the CGI is a bit dodgy and it may be tedious for those with a low tolerance for math or Monty Python. I watched it on Netflix. Here's a clip:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Best Worst Movie: A Good One

The film Troll 2 once topped the IMDB Bottom 100, making it the Worst Film Of All Time. It now sits at #75. Best Worst Movie is a very entertaining documentary about that film. Simultaneously charming and harrowing, it features all the major players in the making of Troll 2. I laughed, I facepalmed, and sometimes the awkwardness was so palpable I could barely watch. If I was capable of guilt, I would almost feel bad about my savage review of Troll 2. But I'm not. Best Worst Movie is recommended, and Troll 2 is highly recommended if you like various green foodstuffs and stuff that sucks. Here's a trailer:

Kill The Irishman: A Good One

Cleveland certainly was an explodey place in the 1970s. Kill The Irishman is the real story of mobster Danny Greene, who is painted as a complex heroic villain. Or a villainous hero. One of the other. Regardless, frozen turkeys were involved. Anyway, the many minor characters who surround him aren't well fleshed out, and you are often wondering who is who. The screenplay is somewhat hard-to-follow, as if some key information has been merely hinted at. If you're unfamiliar with the history of organized crime in Cleveland it makes the first half of the film a tough go but it all comes together at the end. I enjoyed it. I watched it on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fireplace For Your Home: A Good One

Here's the plot: It's a fireplace. It crackles at times. Logs burn. You have your choice of seasonal (urp, retch) music, or not. I skipped the Xmas jams. I'm a big fan of flames, so I'm giving it a positive review although screams of agony and the stench of brimstone would have kicked this film up a notch. I watched it on Netflix. Here's a snippet with music, so if you're offended or sickened by holiday music turn it down.

Storage Wars: A Terrible One

My youngest daughter forced us to watch this show. Is it a show? I'm not sure what it is. Here's the pitch: Unlikeable people spend upwards of several hundred dollars to buy off-screen deadbeat's dusty garbage packed in cardboard boxes. It's just awful, yet thoroughly compelling. We easily watched six or eight or a dozen episodes but they all tend to blur together after awhile. Every episode drags you in with the prospect of some loudmouth opening a metal door and discovering someone's old shoes, broken toys or priceless heirlooms. It's irritating and obnoxious and formulaic and I'll never get those 6 hours back. I watched it on A&E. How long has that station been around? Never heard of it.  Here's a clip, but don't make me watch it again:

Dale And Tucker Vs. Evil: A Good One

Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil is a clever send-up of the slasher movie genre where most of the horror film cliches normally used are turned upside down. With homages to Psycho, Friday The 13th, Deliverance, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre; it's smart and funny. It reminded me of a male I Love Lucy where there's a misunderstanding and things go wrong, only with a little more gore. I watched it on Netflix. Here's a trailer:

Young Adult: A Good One

Mrs. Deathrage dragged me out to the theater. Here's how that went down:

Mrs. Deathrage: We're going to the movies.

Stabford: What are we seeing?

Mrs. Deathrage: It's a surprise.

The Awesome Stabford Deathrage: I don't want to go see Young Adult. I read a blurb that it's depressing.

Mrs. Deathrage: We're not seeing Young Adult.

The Amazing Stabford Deathrage: I don't care, just as long as they have Junior Mints.

So we saw Young Adult, and I was pleasantly surprised. They didn't have Junior Mints, but they did have Sno-Caps. And I didn't find Young Adult to be depressing at all. It's an uplifting story about Mavis, a former prom queen and high school cheerleader who now ghostwrites young adult fiction and chugs diet soda from the bottle and wakes up face down in her clothes or next to random men whose faces are often conveniently cut out of the shot. Her scowling face barely conceals disdain for everyone and everything. She doesn't mind if she has snack cake remnants in her teeth, but don't spill anything on her silk blouse. She sings along to Teenage Fanclub and drinks Maker's Mark. And finally, someone's crippling misfortune ruined her homecoming. She's a heroine, I'm inspired by her, and the film is great. If I made New Year's Resolutions and if I wasn't already incredible I would resolve to become more like her, but I honestly can't think of a thing I would change.

I went to an actual theater and saw it with actual people, although there were only about 6 of them. Their presence only annoyed me slightly. Here's a trailer:

Portlandia: A Good One

It's funny, but how will it play in Peoria? Portlandia is probably too smart, weird, absurd, and hip for its own good. That's fine by me. So am I. Here's a clip where Aimee Mann is house-cleaner for SNL's Fred Armisen and Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein. I watched it on Netflix.

Zombieland: A Good One

My youngest daughter stole my PS3 with the Red Light Of Death, sold it, and bought me a new blu-ray player with the proceeds. I have mixed feelings about that. She's an enterprising youngster and I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Anyway, my new blu-ray is pretty cool. It can access Netflix, Amazon, and Pandora, which is a feature everyone needs. I'll keep it. It was A Very Zombie Deathrage Xmas, where I received the blu-ray player, The Zombie Survival Guide book, and the blu-ray of Zombieland. I had already seen it, but only on pay-per-view so it was nice to watch it on blu-ray. The graphics are great, there's some blood and gore, some laughs and shocks, a little justified product placement, a funny cameo, and a snappy script. You have to suspend a little disbelief, but it's a fun flick. I mean, if everyone's a zombie then who's working at the power plants? That's fine, though. Plus there's very effective use of Van Halen and Velvet Underground. Here's a trailer:

Mr. Deathrage has stepped away from his desk...

Normally my administrative assistant leaves an outgoing message for me when I step away from my desk but she was much too busy being fired. I've been quite busy decking the halls, and by "deck the halls" I really mean shredding Xmas bonus checks after firing everyone and by "Xmas bonus checks" I really mean chasing the last remaining employees of Deathrage Industries from the building in a screeching frothy-mouthed rage wielding my trusty pitchfork named Reliable and by "last remaining employees" I mean the cleaning crew who left Xmas decorations in my sight and that outrage shall not stand.

It's very quiet here. Again. I need to hire a new administrative assistant to tell the human resources manager to hire a new human resources manager and then to hire a whole new flock of minions, and I don't know how to do that. Actually, I'm not sure which floor of the building the human resources department is located because I dislike humans and avoid them whenever possible. I'm now taking applications. Can someone tell me where we keep the applications?

Meanwhile, there's a new year. Some people might think that's important but after 14 billion of them I find the whole thing to be fairly meh. The K-T Extinction Event was pretty cool but those don't seem to happen every day and that was almost forever ago. Might as well recap, I guess. In 2011, I watched and reviewed 390 films. Most of them weren't very good. I would like to make some changes to the blog in 2012 before the "Mayan Curse" occurs, but that seems like a lot more effort than I'm capable of, and if the world ends than who is going to read this thing anyway? You would think I would have gotten a memo on that whole "End Times" thing, but I seem to have misplaced it. It was probably in my administrative assistant's desk, but I shoved it out the window in a screeching frothy-mouthed rage. I need to hire some help. Where do we keep the applications?