Monday, December 30, 2013

Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries And Mentors Of Ricky Jay


Honestly, I'm a little unnerved by this documentary. Powerful wizards like Ricky Jay shouldn't just be walking around like he does. What if he decides to become a super-villain? The Earth would be destroyed. He can make all sorts of things disappear, and he can use playing cards as weapons.


He should be locked up in Arkham Asylum or the Phantom Zone. He's a menace.





Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday traditions

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but the Deathrage household has quite a few winter holiday traditions. Like many households, we deck the halls. Begrudgingly, every year I head into the storage space and drag out our tannenbaum, which is the Charlie Brown tree they sold one year at Urban Outfitters.



I removed the red glass ornament that comes standard and replaced it with one in the shape of a pickle. Apparently, there's some sort of holiday tradition called weihnachtsgurke. I'm not fluent in German or phony holiday traditions, but I believe this translates to "hide the pickle", and I don't want anyone to be confused as to where the pickle is located.

Anyway, did you know there are stores that sell things that only cost a dollar? Neither did I! They're called Dollar Stores. I had no idea they existed, and I thought they stopped making dollar bills some time ago. Didn't the government stop making small bills because no one used them? I don't know.

Anyway, at the beginning of December, I ventured into a Dollar Store and purchased some festive garland and lights and other holiday crap and flung it willy-nilly around the penthouse. I got 25 feet of red and green fringed garland that wouldn't look out of place on a used car lot and a light blue Hawaiian luau-esque banner that was misspelled. Instead of "Merry X-Mas", it says "Happy Retirement".

Like many other families at the holidays, we play games to entertain ourselves because we're trapped in the penthouse with no escape because everything is closed for reasons I just can't seem to fathom. This year we held "The Deathrage Family ChristmOlympics", and everyone had to create a persona and dress in costume. Because she's a marathon runner, Mrs. Deathrage dressed as a 1928 female Olympian, and her name was Hilda Grembo Fallimento, which means "Hilda Womb Failure". Fun Fact: After the 1928 Olympics no female long distance running events were held until 1960 because of the perceived threat of women's wombs falling out. I'm no expert on running or the Olympics or wombs, but I would have to think the running officials wanted to keep the running field clear of wombs and placentas to protect the participants from a slipping hazard.

Some of the other events included "Create The Best Mixed Drink And Then Chug It Without Dropping The Decorative Plastic Mermaid And Tiny Umbrella", "Most Offensively Decorated Sugar Cookie", "The Person Who Can Do The Most Pushups Gets To Reach Into The Surprise Gift Box", and Cards Against Humanity. I was super-pumped about playing Cards Against Humanity, but I thought it was a game that destroys humanity, but it turned out to be just a vulgar card game.

After everyone went to sleep, and by "went to sleep" I mean "passed out", I sipped some egg nog watched some classic holiday movies, and by "sipped some egg nog and watched some classic holiday movies" I mean "retched while trying to force down egg nog and stayed up all night watching movies that are only vaguely holiday themed while making myself sick on offensively decorated sugar cookies". X-MAS!

The Thin Man


The Thin Man is the story of a couple of high society drunks who solve a screwball mystery. The film takes place at the holidays. It's witty and smart and one day I hope to be as suave and drunk as William Powell. I have a lot of stuff going for me in that department, so it should happen sometime soon. Maybe in 2014.



Elf


Elf is the story of a successful businessman who is pestered by a psychopathic manchild who thinks he's a holiday elf. There's no skimping on the holiday cheer with this horror film, as carols are sung, snowballs are flung, and syrup is applied to everything. Elf has its surreal moments, but it's pretty much a treacly, elf-filled nightmare.


Die Hard


Bruce Willis runs barefoot through a douchey, high-rise holiday party while things explode in this classic holiday action film. I'm not sure why Willis is dead-set on ruining the the holidays for a Japanese businessman and a German terrorist, but he does. While barefoot. Put on some damn shoes, Willis.


A Christmas Carol (1951)


And finally, another successful businessman is being tortured during the holidays in this horror film, only this time by 4 ghosts. It's pretty terrifying, especially as Jacob Marley drags his whiny ass into Scrooge's house, interrupts his sleep, gets all Judgey McJudgerson on Scrooge's dinner choices, and howls like a banshee while rattling chains. If I had a nickel for every time some holiday specter visited me in the night and tried to change my ways, I'd have 35 cents. I already have 35 cents, and it was the change for my Dollar Store purchase.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Little Debbies, robots, and an epiphany

I stopped at the small grocery near Deathrage Towers yesterday to pick up a couple of things for dinner. As usual, I was feeling lazy and bought stuff to throw together some burritos. Grabbing a basket, I threw in tomatoes, leafy greens, tortillas, and refried beans. Rounding the corner of one of the aisles, I saw my downfall.


I felt it was safe to go back into the grocery stores because I thought I had bought all the remaining boxes of Little Debbie Cherry Cordials. Alas, I did not. I scooped the remaining boxes into the basket, and checked out. When I got back to the penthouse, I prepared dinner. I don't know what you put on your burritos, but you're probably doing it wrong. Beans, greens, a variety of cheeses, sour cream, Cholula, and more pickled jalapenos than you can shake a stick at goes on my burrito. I ate two enormous burritos, then washed it down with half a box of Little Debbies. I can't help myself. I just love those awful, phony, cherry-like cookies. It's a shame they're only available at this time of year, but I'm also very glad. I probably wouldn't stop eating them year round. And those pickled jalapenos! I love those, too. I'd sit on the couch and eat them out of the jar with a fork if I could.

After a few minutes, I began to feel strange. I think I might have started to feel the human emotion known as regret. Emotions confuse me, and I try not to have them. Since I'm not very familiar with this emotion, I'll try to describe it to you. From what I gather, regret is that full, uncomfortable feeling when your stomach has expanded from eating two burritos bigger than your head and half a box of cough syrup-flavored goodies, but then again, I could be wrong.

Dressed in sweatpants, feeling slightly regretful, I settled in to watch some movies. I watched Goremet: Zombie Chef From Hell. Actually, I've watched several movies the past couple of days that I haven't reviewed here. I will include them in my next book, which will have a total of 100 completely new and unpublished reviews. You will have to pay for them if you want to read them. Sorry, but that's the way it is. You'll have to shell out some cash if you want to read my reviews for Viva Knievel, Meat From Satan's Icebox, and Ass Zombies: Toilet Of The Dead.



Unfortunately, doing the research for my review of Goremet: Zombie Chef From Hell is when I had my epiphany.



Apparently, none of you exist. It came to my attention that the only people who read my blog aren't people at all, but are vampire and zombie robots who troll the blogosphere reading blogs in preparation for their eventual conquering of the world. At first I was super pumped. While I don't exactly understand their seemingly ridiculous plan to overthrow the planet by reading blogs about bad movies or kittens or woodworking, I welcome our robotic overlords. But then I started thinking, which is rarely ever a good thing, that if most of my visits are of vampiric robots, then no one is actually reading my blog or buying my book. The vision I had in my head of the one dude in Russia who sits around his 12" black and white television in a state-controlled apartment wearing one of those furry hats in Siberia reading my blog is a sham.


What I thought was a carefully calculated effort to build a regular readership of people who could possibly purchase my book is a lie. What appeared to be a gradual increase in readership over the past couple of years is a fantasy. However, I'm not disappointed. If zombie robots like my blog, then so be it. I'll continue writing terrible reviews for zombie robots about terrible movies probably starring zombie robots, but if there are any actual human beings with cash out there reading this blog, buy my book. It makes a great gift for people you don't like very well.

http://stabforddeathrage.wix.com/stabford

Rewind This!


The history of the VHS format is outlined in this interesting but somewhat monotonous documentary. I found I became somewhat bored with the continuous stream of interviews with VHS collectors and low-budget film-makers, but I loved the clips of obscure and forgotten films from the VHS heyday of the 70s and 80s. I'm going to have to find some of the films featured in this documentary.




I'm particularly intrigued by David "Rock" Nelson's monster movies. The Devil Ant, Conrad Brooks Vs. The Werewolf, and The Giant Horny Toad Monster are all available from him via mail order, but I'm a little wary about purchasing a $20 burned DV-R. I've spent more money on less, I suppose.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Vine

https://vine.co/v/h0D9OrpJ7qB

C.O.G.


A young man leaves Yale to pick apples in this well-shot film based on an autobiographical essay by David Sedaris. Featuring the awkward, sad quirkiness of David Sedaris' writing but lacking his acerbic wit, I was expecting a laugh-out-loud riot of a film. C.O.G. is not a laugh-out-loud riot, however it does feature a beautiful score with music by Steve Reich.


GLOW: The Story Of The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling


The story of the syndicated wrestling television program is examined in this touching, bittersweet documentary. Featuring bleached perms, outlandish eyeshadow, skimpy leotards and at least one gruesome injury, the campy show was wildly popular for 5 years and then was abruptly cancelled, but not before performing some atrocious raps...


...or chasing a titillated Bob Eubanks around a podium.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yE8ArbWPDw

What's odd about that video is that I could have sworn it was Wink Martindale.


It wasn't, but I'm always looking for a reason to say Wink Martindale.





Thursday, December 12, 2013

Terminal Invasion


Bruce Campbell stars in this low-budget TV movie where people are holed up in a small airport when an alien invasion strikes, and by "alien invasion" I mean "an elderly preacher goes on a men's room rampage and then dissolves into a Pepsi-like CGI puddle", but that makes it sound more exciting than it is. Cheap, stagey, and irritating, Terminal Invasion is a lot like the 90s television show Wings only with unbearable bickering characters that have to undergo an unusual X-Ray baggage scan, so yeah, it's totally like the TV show Wings.


For some reason a vending machine is destroyed, and a bunch of Oh Henry candy bars go to waste, which is a shame because I really like those.


So yeah, I would avoid Terminal Invasion unless you like Sartre-esque alien invasion horror films, and even if you do like those you probably won't like this.






Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lair Of The White Worm


Ken Russell directs what starts out as a fairly bland British film, but because Ken Russell directs it you only have to wait a couple of minutes before the nun-raping begins. Sometime later there's a sudsy, leather-booted bubble bath, but that's because Ken Russell is directing. Then there's some very subtle penis metaphors, and when I say "very subtle" I really mean "flat-out and couldn't be more obvious" because Ken Russell is directing. Hugh Grant takes second billing to Amanda Donahoe and plays against type as an snooty British fop with enviable hair, and by "plays against type" I really mean "plays every role he's ever played". Lair Of The White Worm is gory, silly, and excessive, but very stylish.


Devil


Irritating people take the elevator with some sort of vague, menacing presence in this claustrophobic, implausible thriller, and I'm saying it's implausible because I always take the stairs. Even though my penthouse is on the 42nd floor, on the rare occasion when I do leave the building I try to take the stairs. Yes, it's a lot of stairs to climb, but it's great for cardiovascular fitness. When you sit a lot, it's important to keep fit. Also, I don't particularly like people, and I'd rather not be near them. All those people crammed into a tiny space, with the looming threat that someone might accidentally touch me, or the real possibility that someone is going to breathe on me; well, that's a situation that I find completely unacceptable. Plus, even if I wanted to murder someone, I sure in the heck wouldn't do it in an elevator. It's too messy. That's the reason why I installed the open elevator shaft. One quick shove, and down they go. No splash-back at all. I won't have to worry about all those messy human liquids and particulates getting all over my rock t-shirt, and Tide doesn't grow on trees. I don't have all day to do load after load of laundry, and brains stain. So next time you're in a high-rise building, take the stairs.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Beast Of Bray Road


A werewolf disembowels rednecks in this early Asylum film. Surprisingly well-shot for an Asylum film, The Beast Of Bray Road was hardly Sharknado-esque at all. It's still not very good, however. There's lots of entrails, bad dye-jobs, and some unconvincing machismo. There's also one of the most awesome pickup lines ever, which was "Let's go sit next to the creek and listen to the frogs". How romantic! If that's not a pantydropper, then I don't know what is. Anyway, various locals have a delicious Pudwiser at the neighborhood bar when the aren't being devoured by a monster that looks suspiciously like a pile of dryer lint with teeth, and it's not as exciting as it sounds. One remarkable thing about The Beast Of Bray Road...there's no prerequisite Asylum helicopter scene.



It's the craziest thing. Maybe they couldn't figure out how to get a werewolf in a helicopter, or maybe they just couldn't afford to rent one.


Event Horizon


I have never claimed to be a fortune-teller, and I don't really know how space travel will work in 2047. However, I have seen a lot of outer space movies, and I know for sure that if Sam Neill says, "Hey, could you do me a solid and fly to Neptune with Laurence Fishburne so we can haul back my kinky, pointy, rubber-coated sex-torture dungeon space hooptie which causes nightmarish hallucinations? It'll be fun!", I'm probably going to be busy that weekend doing something that isn't that, because I can't think of a single time when doing something with Lawrence Fishburne didn't turn out to be problematic and awkward.


And hanging out with Sam Neil in outer space is only going to result in sparks, flashing lights and explosions.


Anyway, Event Horizon is one of those big explodey outer space adventures where outer space mishaps happen every few minutes as various CGI things go floating or flying by the screen, and you can expect a noisy jump-scare just as often.


I'm only fairly certain about one thing in regards to future outer space travel. You don't have to go to outer space in the future to go to Hell. Hell is here on Earth right now, and it's at Walmart.


Oops, sorry. I didn't mean to post that. I meant to post this:


For The Love Of Movies: A History Of American Film Criticism


Smarmy, elitist movie reviewers explain how their opinions are better than everyone else's and how they just sort of lucked into the job in this average documentary about movie reviewers. Did you know there are no real qualifications to be a movie reviewer? I know, right? With so many reviewers all giving opinions, you would think there would be some sort of standard. Not so. My eyes were opened during this documentary, when several of the reviewers interviewed plainly stated they often had no intention of becoming a reviewer, and just sort of started doing it. Fascinating!

http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/for-the-love-of-movies/trailer

I find that to be simultaneously heartening and dismaying. From what I gather, to be a film critic all you really have to do is watch movies in your spare time, have a different career than criticism, and just fling reviews willy-nilly until someone takes notice who'll eventually pay you. Sweet. I'm looking forward to that gravy train rolling in soon, as I'm exceedingly qualified. Start cutting those m'f'n movie checks. I have a lot of very expensive opinions.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Don't Trust The B... In Apartment 23


I don't watch television shows. They get in the way of my movie viewing. However, I accidentally stumbled upon this television show called Don't Trust The B... In Apartment 23, and I've watched nearly the whole season while eating box after box of Little Debbie Cherry Cordial Cakes.



I love them so much. Phony chocolate covering a phony cherry-flavored filling and two phony graham cracker cookies, they're like a cough syrup-flavored Moon Pie. I have 3 boxes hidden in the kitchen cabinet where we keep the pots and pans, and since no one likes Little Debbie Cherry Cordial or cooking they'll be completely safe. Anyway, here's the premise of this situation comedy: The heroine of the show becomes roommates with a horrible woman in New York City. It's just an awful situation. The heroine of the show is just trying to make her way in the Big City the only way she knows how, and she's dogged continuously by this other roommate's quirky antics. It's very frustrating to watch, because I can relate to the heroine on a very deep level.

http://youtu.be/GHB6HHBjofk

See, I have a work environment I lot like that, where I am surrounded by chipper incompetents who deserve a smackwich, but I never came up with anything as genius as a smackwich because I just shove them all down an open elevator shaft. And I can relate to poor Chloe, who has a nightmare of a roommate who is smiling and happy and optimistic and just so, so awful and who is always trying to squash her party buzz. It would be like living with a blonde, effervescent Buzz Killington, and I would probably push myself down the elevator shaft just to get away from her.


Anyway, I'm very upset to find out that this TV show I've never heard of until like 5 minutes ago is totally cancelled, and I'll never see my BFF Chloe again.






Blancanieves


A bullfighter is gored and paralyzed. His wife dies in childbirth. His scheming nurse marries the depressed, disabled bullfighter. The daughter lives with the grandmother until she dies from an unfortunate flamenco accident. Forced to live with her evil, naughty step-mother deep in the cellar of her mansion, the daughter is only able to visit her father when the step-mother has her BDSM photo shoots with her chauffer. Years pass. After nearly being murdered, the girl escapes and lives with bullfighting dwarves. Does this plot sound familiar? Blancanieves is a lovely fairy tale, but it isn't Disney. Beautifully shot in black and white, it is also silent. I enjoyed it quite a bit.


Time Zero: The Last Year Of Polaroid Film


The birth, death and rebirth of the instant self-developing film is examined in this interesting documentary. Using a muted color palette and a hint of soft focus, Time Zero looks reminiscent of an instant Polaroid picture. The film features an interview with John Waters, who has taken a Polaroid picture of everyone who has entered his home since the early 1990s, and no one can see them until after his death. Waters was very upset on the discontinuation of Polaroid film, and his interview is one of the highlights of the film. Speaking of being very upset, Polaroid-induced tears start flowing in Time Zero around the 50-minute mark, so you Polaroid fans should grab some Kleenex at that point.

My youngest daughter is a photographer who takes photos using expired Polaroid film, and if you scroll back a few posts you can see one of her portraits of me. I've tried telling her that they make brand new cameras. In fact, nowadays some don't even need film! She won't listen to me. Anyway, I think her photo captures my essence perfectly, especially because in real life I'm faded, off-color, and slightly blurry.


Warning Shadows


Awkward lovey-dovey shenanigans occur during a riveting evening of shadowplay with tragic results, I think, possibly, in this creaky silent film. Featuring knee-britches, wide-eyed, overly expressionistic sideways glances, and no inter-titles; Warning Shadows has some striking imagery but it's terrible slow moving. Instead of playing Shadowplay For 19th Century Swingers By Candlelight maybe they should've played Tiddlywinks.


Secret Disco Revolution


I've been having an argument with someone for the past several years. He was completely flabbergasted when I told him that disco was never meant for mass consumption, that it was protest music for several oppressed minorities, and that the record-burning "Disco Sucks" movement was motivated by racism and homophobia. He didn't believe me. And now it looks as though someone made a movie about this very topic.

Featuring a slight touch of hyperbole and lots of disco hits, Secret Disco Revolution is interesting and informative, but I found the Three Ghosts Of Disco Past who do things like throw glitter on a mirror ball or get the old heave-ho from Studio 54 to be somewhat irritating.


Anatomy Of A Psycho


A man slowly journeys down the road to hooliganism after his brother goes to the gas chamber; and it's a long, long road filled with lengthy conversations with uninteresting youths in this boring drama. There are several oddly choreographed fight scenes amongst interchangeable fifties youngsters who all seem to have some sort of sudsy relationship troubles of one kind or another, but I stopped caring long before the lead actor finally becomes a psycho. I've seen worse psychos in my day. Here's the film if you really must watch it. It appears to be in the public domain.


Journey To Planet X


Two guys make homemade films in this awkward, cringeworthy documentary. I give props to these guys. They're following their dream. However, it's very difficult to watch as they struggle with equipment, egos and a severely limited budget. I did enjoy their creativity, as the filmmakers cobble together props from a variety of offbeat sources. Journey To Planet X is an inspiring look into DIY filmmaking, so much so that I'm looking into painting the penthouse Chroma Key Green.




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Russian Ark


A ghostly observer time-travels through the Hermitage in this exquisitely costumed drama filmed in one uninterrupted take. Although forced, stagey, and a little pretentious, Russian Ark is technically impressive and features one of the most beautiful sets in the world. I gasped several times after the camera moved through darkened hallways and entered one of the Hermitage's masterpiece-filled rooms. Unfortunately, nothing really happens in Russian Ark. It's a 90-minute walk through a museum. People expecting Top Gun or The Hunt For Red October will be disappointed, because Sean Connery is not driving the ark and no one plays volleyball.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Anton Corbijn: Inside Out


The influential photographer/director is profiled in this well-shot documentary. Featuring brief clips from several of his Corbijn's groundbreaking music videos and many shots of his celebrity black-and-white portraits, I found myself less interested in continuing to watch the documentary and more willing to kick out some 80s jams.

Joy Division "Atmosphere"

David Sylvian "Red Guitar"

Depeche Mode "Never Let Me Down"

He also directed the video for Arcade Fire's "Reflektor", and the film shows Corbijn at one of Arcade Fire's concerts. Honestly, I would've thought Arcade Fire would've gotten him some better seats.



Unfortunately, the documentary grinds to a halt once it starts to focus on the director himself. Evidently, he doesn't have a lot to say.




Stalled


A janitor is trapped in a stall of a women's restroom during an office bikini-lesbian X-Mas party when a zombie apocalypse breaks out in this low-budget horror-comedy. Taking place almost entirely within a bathroom stall, Stalled has an interesting premise but is hampered by lackluster cinematography. There's drug-fueled zombie crowd surfing, zombie toilet rats, severed fingers being flung by a bra, and a graffitied Sharpie doodle as a co-star. It could've been worse.

Speaking of being trapped at the holidays with no escape, we decided as a family to have a Thanksgiving-related costume party, and by "We decided as a family" I really mean "I delivered an ultimatum via mass-text while eating hummus". In order to be served Thanksgiving dinner, everyone must come dressed as something Thanksgivingy, and the winner gets a prize, and the prize is they get to eat Thanksgiving dinner. It is mandatory. All of the Deathrages are very competitive, so I'm looking forward to seeing what my family will wear. Since we are on a time-crunch and very zombie-centric, I'm expecting quite a few Zombie Pilgrims. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I think I'm going to dress up as dressing.


I'm going to crush the competition. No one stands a chance. However, I might be the only person at the table wearing a cardboard box with "Jiffy" crudely crayoned all over it, and if that's the case, more stuffing for me.







Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Garbo: The Spy


Using clips from old movies to forward the plot, the story of the Spanish double agent who fooled the Nazis into believing D-Day was only a diversion and the real invasion of France was to take place at Pas De Calais is detailed in this dry, enigmatic documentary. Images of war, strife, and marching armies are paired with charts, graphs, and clips of films featuring Peter Lorre and other stars of the 30s and 40s, and you never quite get the sense of who Garbo is until the last minutes of the film. Garbo: The Spy has an intriguingly quirky soundtrack with music from Brian Eno and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Grabbers


Bloodsuckers from outer space or the ocean attack an Irish island, and the only way for the villagers to survive is to get drunk in this well-made horror comedy. Good acting and fine cinematography raise this film above others in the genre such as those often produced by The Asylum, but I couldn't help the fact that watching a CGI monster that looked like a rolling ball of tentacles brought back terrible memories I thought I had repressed from the time my frenemy Cthulhu spent several weeks sleeping on my couch.



All the alcohol that was flowing in Grabbers reminded me that Cthulhu left half-empty bottles of expensive craft beer everywhere and didn't replace them. Craft beer doesn't grow on trees, especially when the drinker of the craft beer didn't buy them, doesn't finish them, can't seem to find the recycling bin, and ain't got a freakin' job. His dirty socks and underpants littered my living room, and my entire penthouse smelled like dirty jeans, a ripe bleu cheese, and desperation. It was very unpleasant until I shoved him down an empty elevator shaft. I realize that falling down an open elevator shaft does nothing to an Ancient One, but it subtly let him know how I felt about the situation, and I'm all about subtlety.






Ping Pong


Octogenarian badasses compete at the World Table Tennis Championship in Inner Mongolia in this charming and inspiring documentary. Watching these athletes train and compete almost makes me a little ashamed to complain about my various aches and pains; but almost, because I'm not burdened with human emotion. Watching this film makes me want to join the 120-years+ age group and play table tennis professionally, because I'm pretty fit for my age and I could just shove some of those athletes down on the floor and cause them to break their hips. I do the Insanity Workout and I'm a ruthless competitor. I could be World Champion if I were to ever get off the couch, learn how to play table tennis, and stop eating all these cookies. Unfortunately I have an unfair advantage. I would probably be disqualified. I never appear to grow older because I have a painting that does that for me.


Yeah, sort of like that.


Computer Chess


With so many bad haircuts, grainy footage, vintage computer equipment, moments of awkward geekiness, and overhead projectors, I had to research whether or not Computer Chess was found footage documentary of a real computer chess tournament from the early 80s. It is not, and unfortunately Computer Chess would've worked better in that format. Near the 3/4 point, Computer Chess tries to incorporate some semblance of a plot, and the movie suffers for it. The surreal "There is no spoon" aspect causes the film to seem disjointed, and also would have been more successful if it stayed in that format as well. Still, Computer Chess is an interesting, uncomfortable experiment.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Escape From Tomorrow


I knew as soon as I agreed to it that it was a terrible idea. I should never have said that I would go on vacation to Disney World with unemployed, girl-chasing Jim, his sunscreen-obsessed shrew wife Emily, their two dead-eyed children, and the cameraman who can't quite hold the camera steady. I knew there would be humidity, long lines, slurping ice cream from plastic sporks, screaming children, topsiders, fanny-packs, shopping for crystalline tchotchkes, awkward restroom encounters, bickering, fainting, hallucinations, and giant turkey legs because I've been to Disney World before. I just didn't know it would be with Jim, Emily, their two angelic cherubs, and the cameraman because they're all very irritating and they somehow have the uncanny ability to make an unpleasant and very expensive day out at the Magic Kingdom even less fun than it sounds. Maybe it's just me but if I'm spending a quarter of a million dollars out at Disney World, everybody better have fun or else. No whining, no complaining, and no BDSM quickies with the Witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Next time they want to go on vacation, I think I'll pass.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bad Girls Go The Hell

Partially nude people try to simultaneously titillate and remain inexplicably clothed while being repeatedly hit with a belt in this dreadful sexploitation "roughie" directed by notorious "nudie-cutie" director Doris Wishman. Since I brought up Doris Wishman in my review of Movie 43, I decided to watch one of her films. I really shouldn't have. Here's the plot: A girl wearing revealing nightgowns and underpants is victimized by everyone she meets. 

Spoiler Alert! It's a dream. 

Spoiler Alert! Or is it? 

Spoiler Alert! It is a dream, but it isn't very good. 

Doris Wishman is foot and shoe obsessed in Bad Girls Go To Hell, but she hasn't quite achieved her auteur-like framing of shoes in extreme close-up, and she hasn't fully begun to use her technique of subtly drifting her camera away from actors while they're speaking badly-dubbed dialogue which then culminates in confusing shots of inanimate objects like lamps and phones that she mastered in her later Chesty Morgan films Deadly Weapons and Double Agent 73, and by "mastered" I mean "seemingly fumbled in an almost all-thumbs manner" and by "auteur" I mean "can't stop watching through my facepalmed fingers because it's a burlap sack full of WTF".

Bad Girls Go To Hell is recommended only for Doris Wishman fans. Everyone else should avoid it like it's covered in a mysterious sticky substance.

Skyfall


Prior to the Daniel Craig era of 007, I had convinced myself that a James Bond movie consisted of approximately 10% thrilling opening sequence, 5% entertaining title sequence, 10% Bond foreplay, 5% Bond Girl, 3% car or other gadget, and 65% meh. Skyfall has all those common elements. There's a thrilling opening sequence involving a chase through a bazaar, a colorful CGI title sequence with a great theme by Adele, and fisticuffs aboard a moving train. There's a couple of underutilized Bond Girls, and some foreplay with a sadly lisping and unfortunately coiffed Javier Bardem. Bond finally whips it out near the end and it's impressive, and by "it" I mean the Aston Martin. I enjoyed Skyfall, but all the ratios remain intact.






Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Movie 43


Wikipedia has a page called "The List Of Films Considered The Worst Ever", and of course I had to make sure. They did not consult me, and they should have. I'm not convinced Wikipedia knows every film considered the worst ever, because Malibu Beach Vampires is not listed. If you haven't seen Malibu Beach Vampires, you absolutely must.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eY32TgXZTE

Malibu Beach Vampires is the second worst movie I've ever seen, right behind Birdemic: Shock And Terror.



Anyway, watching Malibu Beach Vampires makes you take stock of your life choices up to that point, including the decision to watch Malibu Beach Vampires. It makes you reconsider every film you've ever seen. You can no longer trust your instincts. What is "good" and what is "bad"? Your scale becomes distorted. You've climbed down the Bad Movie Rabbit Hole, and the hole is deep. It's so deep, in fact, that if you stood on the precipice of the Bad Movie Rabbit Hole and dropped in a pebble to gauge its depth, you may never hear that stone hit the bottom. The stone would crash into Movie 43 at the very top of the Bad Movie Rabbit Hole, smash into Sharknado somewhere in the middle, continue gathering speed and hitting most of the films by Ed Wood, Andy Milligan, and Doris Wishman near the bottom, and then striking Malibu Beach Vampires and Birdemic at the Earth's core.




What can I say about Movie 43? It's awful, but in the Bad Movie Rabbit Hole it isn't so bad. Movie 43 is what would happen if someone loaded a slow-moving ship with about a million Oscar winners and nominees and set it on a course to strike another slow-moving ship loaded with about a million up-and-coming future superstars. There is no way to alter the course of the ships, and everyone on board is clutching their Oscars, Golden Globes, and MTV Movie Awards. They slowly careen into one another and the ships begin to sink. In a futile effort to avoid drowning, the actors jettison their shiny awards into the ocean, say the word "poop" a lot, and use their enormous prosthetic breasts to make guacamole because that's fine. They all drown anyway. It's a sad and regretful situation.






Monday, November 11, 2013

Somm


Four wine experts attempt to pass the difficult test to become Master Sommeliers in this tedious documentary. Amidst cheesy vocal jazz on the soundtrack, literally thousands of grape varieties, flash cards, spit buckets, (and to add insult to injury) geography; brilliant, driven, but pretentious snobs try to outdo each other by pretending to smell the most imaginary aromas in a glass of wine.


If I ordered an extravagant bottle of wine and the selling point was that it had a bouquet of cat urine, rubber hose, or my grandmother's purse, that bottle is going back and I will be quite angry. Can you imagine? If I was eating in a fancy, shmancy restaurant and the waiter presented a bottle of Le Sac De Grandmere 1956 and said it had delicate hints of litter box, I'd laugh right in his face and demand he be fired.

It cracks me up when people pay out the nose for something that has a particular hint of aroma in it, or the suggestion of a flavor element. They think it's sophisticated. If I'm paying $200 for a bottle of wine, it better not have a suggestion. I want to be punched in the mouth with flavor for that price. And no one is going to be impressed if you knock back a mouthful of grape and say, "Why, that has an austere, cliff-edge finish with notes of a well-integrated minerality and a touch of barnyard". Everyone is going to realize you're a douche.

Near the end of this movie, I couldn't contain my curiosity. I poured myself a glass of wine, swirled the liquid around in the glass, and inhaled. I smelled wine. I did not detect notes of vanilla, jasmine, oak, or cat piss, and I tried. It smelled like wine, and I'm almost certain pretty much every wine I've ever smelled smelled like wine. I'm not saying that sommeliers aren't well-trained professionals and don't have well-paid noses and palates, I'm just saying that gullible people often need to reassured in their purchases.






Thursday, November 7, 2013

House II: The Second Story


Arye Gross moves into a haunted house, then the corpse of his great-grandfather drives him around in an Alfa Romeo Spider in this dreadful horror-comedy. Being the owner of an Alfa Romeo Spider, I have to say from experience that you'll never get the stench of rotting corpse out of the interior of your Alfa Romeo Spider if you drive your dead great-grandfather in it, even with the top down. It's going to take more than a few squirts of Febreze to freshen that up, let me tell you. If you're going to go on a joy-ride with the wisecracking frontier gibberish-spouting animated corpse of your great-grandfather, take the Kia.



Anyway, back to the movie. There's a poorly rendered crystal skull, a guy in a gorilla suit, a pterodactyl puppet, some unconvincing 80s pop music, and a turquoise bolo tie. House II: The Second Story was awful. Avoid it, if you can.